Proverbs 7 – the one

For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
~Proverbs 7:6-9

A Christian and a non-Christian in a relationship that’s never a good idea.

Every relationship I know of that started like that went through hell.  And only 1 of the 10 or so that I know of actually worked and it’s been extremely hard on them and their family.

I think that’s why it’s always good to involve good godly counselors that you know and trust in helping to choose a wife or a husband.  Other people can see things a lot more objectively that you.   And there are many things to consider… chemistry is only one.

True when “love” strikes your brain it makes you feel high, and it is intoxicating, and you do stupid things that make no sense.  That’s why it’s wise to talk to other people before you get that involved.

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Proverbs 6 – Ants

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

How long will you lie there, O sluggard?

When will you arise from your sleep?

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

~ Proverbs 6:6-11

In America today we are very fortunate to have very few people who would quality for absolute poverty, since anyone can get almost all of our basic human needs for free if they so choose.  More difficult than making money is the learning how to not waste it.

What people spend their money on says a lot about their character.  If you want to see whats most important in a person’s life go look at their check book.  Go look at where their money goes, whatever gets the most  money is probably the most important thing to that person.

An employee came to me; his family was on the brink of homelessness, and he made no qualms about making me feel guilty if I didnt help him financially.  And of course I did, but I also made a chart of his spending habits.  Both he and his wife smoke and drink alcohol.  I charted out his smoking($10 per day for the two of them) to be $3650 a year.  They spent $7300 a year on drinking ($20 per day on whiskey).  Together that’s $10,950!  He could buy a nice used car for that, or better in a year or two he could put a down payment on a house!

When I showed him this his jaw was on the floor.  I also knew they were getting food stamps, and had no bills outside of rent and utilities.  So the guy really had no excuse for being poor except for the fact that they spent all their money on luxuries while they neglected their necessities.

Most of us are not as extreme as this guy, but I wonder how much non-essential stuff we waste our money on.  Cellphones with Internet and data plans, satellite tv or cable, netflix, smokes, alcohol, fast food, coffee, etc.  All that stuff adds up to be quite expensive at the end of the year.  Imagine at the end of 10 years… imagine if all that money and not only saved but was invested it in a mutual fund earning interest.  That coffee that cost a few dollars every day may be costing over $100,000 by the time you retire… whoa!  Would you give up coffee for a house?

“How long will you lie there, O’ sluggard” scripture says to me.  I cant give to the needy if I’m giving to line the pockets of entrepreneurs.  I cant support my Church, or that orphanage in Africa, or cancer center for children in Nicaragua, or whatever if I dont watch over my finances.

There are people out there a lot smarter than me thinking up new ways everyday to get my money.  It’s up to me to spend it wisely.  And when I do I bring honor to God.  It shows that I value what I’ve been given.

By choosing to spend and save my money wisely I show Christian character, but wasting it and indulging at the expense of others, my family, my own retirement, my kid’s college savings, etc, I show that I am growing in the fruit of the Spirit.


Proverbs 5 – whack-a-mole

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

~Proverbs 5:20-23

“Everywhere I look something reminds me of her” ~ Frank Drevin, The Naked Gun

One of the challenging things of our times is to stay sexually pure.  If you gain and pursue discipline in this area early on then you have less trouble controlling yourself later in life

Of course at anytime in history it would have been a challenge, look at the great people in Biblical history, Abraham, Jacob, , Sampson, David, Solomon, etc, these men had sexual issues that needed to be worked out.

When I first became a Christian, back in 1997, I decided I wasnt going to date anyone until I was ready.  What was the point if I wasnt ready?  Why sit at the banquet table if I know I cant touch the food?

I figured I needed to decide on my career; and start making enough money to, at the very least, rent an apartment and pay my own bills.

I also wanted to grow and mature spiritually before I invited a woman into my life.  I wanted to know how to live this life successfully for God.

Since then I have met many men who had embraced disciple at an early age and the battle wasnt so bad for them.  They kept their lives under control and remained that way until the got married.

I think one of the great dangers is being over-confident.  It’s almost like Satan allows you to gain a few victories to get you to let down your guard… and then comes the snare!  In 1652 Thomas Brooks discusses that in his book, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.  And I must say that I have to admire those old timey puritan dudes.   They knew how to live holy, and nip sin in the bud.  And that’s the only way to deal with it.

So no matter what your age, if you’ve messed up or not, or how many times, we all need to do the same; play whack-a-mole with sexual sin.  Do it as fast and as hard as you can and you will save yourself a world of pain later on.

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 4 – cheat codes for wisdom

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
~Proverbs 4:5-6 

One of the saddest things about reading Proverbs is considering that Solomon, known as the wisest man to have ever lived, and perhaps the richest, forsook his wisdom toward the end of his life and forsook the God who so blessed him with that wisdom. (see 1 Kings 11)

When does a person have enough wisdom that they can rest on what they’ve done and achieved in the past?

My tendency is to be lazy and lax, both spiritually and otherwise, so the continual action of going after wisdom is probably the biggest part of being wise.

Getting started is the hardest part f most activities.  Once I start doing it I dont want to stop. If I clean and organize my closet I want to do all the closets.  When I go out and weed the flowerbed I feel good and I want to do it everyday.

But when I go a long time without doing something I dread doing it.  I havent played guitar since the end of November and I know I’m probably going to lead worship next month and I’m dreading getting my stuff out and working on it.  I just dont feel like it.

And so it is with desiring and finding wisdom.  And ultimately it is a gift from God to even realize that you even need wisdom.

Proverbs 3 – The low road of punk rock

English: Members hardcore punk rock band Minor...

Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.
~ Proverbs 3:34, 35

I was initially attracted to the Skateboarding and Punk Rock sub-cultures because it was a place where misfits could be accepted and thought of as cool.  Boy was in for a rude awakening.  Once I got a little older and started reading publications I found out real quick there were plenty of scorners.

It seemed that there were plenty of people with opinions of how Rock and Roll ought to be done, and however you were doing it was wrong.

When I became a Christian back in 1997 it was a similar event.  At first everything was great.  For many years it was great!  And then I started noticing that there were plenty of scorners here too.  Christians constantly criticizing the Church because she isnt standing up to whatever ideal image they have.  Sometimes it was quite vicious.  And for a while I joined them, it gave me a sort of righteousness (a self-righteousness).

And I dont know how I transitioned, but its like one day I woke up and realized that Jesus is in control, he’s not wringing his hands worried about his plan or his Church.  He’s not angry that we havent gotten it right yet, that we have the wrong ecclesiology, or  wrong theodicy.

I think there are so many people angry with the Church for the same reason there are people angry with Punk Rock, they’re just cantankerous and angry people.

When I look out at the world (or the church, or the state of Rock music) and I see so much wrong, I need to take a moment and look at myself and ask where is it that I’m being hypocritical?

It’s not everyone else that needs to change, but me.  Maybe then I can help someone else

How can I expect change or condemn the world for wrong when I have plenty of wrong in my life?

When I take the low and humble road, and I am honest with whatever shortcomings I have, and going through that process of turning from that enables me to help other people overcome and conquer their shortcomings.

Proverbs 2 – A kick is just a kick, and a punch is just a punch

The logo of Shotokan Karate

Image via Wikipedia

So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Proverbs 2:20-22

It seems that I’ve come full circle with Proverbs.  I remember when I was a new Christian I spent a whole year in Proverbs.  Whatever day of the month it was I would read that chapter.  If it was January 2nd, I would read Proverbs 2, if it was Feb 20th then chapter 20.  This way I would cover all the chapters several times in a years time.  And since there are 30 chapters in Proverbs it works fine.  Additionally since for the most part you dont have to read it in any certain order so if I skipped a day it wasnt like I was lost.

What I’ve come full circle in is the basic understanding of the value such a book.  Proverbs is classified as Lower Wisdom in the Biblical literature chart.  “Lower” in this case doesn’t mean of less value, but more in the sense of a base level, or a foundational level of understanding since it is mostly composed of axioms, general truths that apply to many but not every situation, and deals basically with practical every-day living.

Other books, such as Job, are considered Higher Wisdom, since it is more etherial and philosophical in nature, mostly dealing with the intangible; such as our attitude towards God.

Proverbs reminds me of Shotokan Karate.  The Shotokan style is very straight forward, a no frills method of martial arts.  For the most part it’s just basic punches, kicks, and blocks.  The students are greatly encouraged to stay away from spinning and jumping kicks, or anything fancy that is mostly just showy in nature.  And with sticking to the basics most of the time they would win sparring competitions easily since other forms concentrated on looking cool or beautiful.

Similarly by living a basic moral lifestyle you avoid many pitfalls that many fall into causing a wide range of things from poverty to sickness, thus it is a shield from evil to those who live rightly.

Living a moral lifestyle with the intent of trying to earn Gods favor is clearly against the total thrust of scripture.  But when you live right; when you live generously, giving and helping; when you resist lust and greed; then you avoid a world of trouble.

It seems very basic and not very advanced, but what could be more advanced than living a productive and fruitful life?  And if you don’t learn these foundational truths it makes it harder to improvise later when you want to dig deeper into other areas of faith.  What could be higher than learning self-control enough so that you can help other people with their lives?

If your own life is not in order it will be very difficult to help others.

Proverbs 1 – Am I an idiot?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

– Proverbs 1:7

It seems that mankind’s’ knowledge is increasing at a much more rapid rate than our wisdom.  Knowledge being our understanding of world and ourselves, and wisdom being the correct application of that knowledge.

Reflection and meditation upon the character and nature of God should bring a person to greater reverence and humility.  More specifically, considering Jesus; his life, and death, and resurrection, and his coming back to right all wrongs, should bring a deeper sense of awe and wonder.

If a person would meditate on Jesus sacrifice, naturally they should not want to take part in anything that caused his crucifixion, or to bring harm to humanity and creation.  If a person can do such things without remorse or regret then perhaps they havent seriously considered Jesus, and they might want to re-evaluate whether they are a Christian or just a one in name only.

I wonder if I’ve shied away from this phrase, “The fear of the Lord”, out of fear of what people will think of me?  Have I more regard for what people think about me, most of whom I dont know, than for holding true to scripture and letting it’s insight bring me closer to Jesus?

Do I think I’m more knowledgeable than the generations before me who embraced the idea that a Christian can either live a life pleasing to God, or one that brings both him and the Church, and all of humanity dishonor?