Be Nice and Don’t Sign…SERIOUSLY!

"Sure, I can get my dad to co-sign, no problem."“It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.”  Proverbs 17: 18

This is one of those interesting and sometimes puzzling proverbs, but it makes you go, “Does the Bible really say, “It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.”? In other words, “Don’t co-sign that loan for your friend!” But aren’t we supposed to help out our friends and family when they get into a jam? Help, yes. Co-sign, NO. Enable, NO. There is a difference.

So what is this all about, anyway. Well, have you ever ‘loaned’ somebody money, and then they forget to pay you back when they had promised? And then the next month comes along and again they forget or don’t quite have all the money they promised. And this happens month after month. The relationship begins to show a few cracks and it is now compromised. Resentment, anger, regret, and avoidance become the norm for the relationship. What was once a mutually honouring friendship has now soured.

So here’s the lesson… Even if the person is your friend or your sibling, you are not doing them a favour by securing their debt or co-signing their loan. First, the relationship has now gone from friend-friend, parent-child, brother-sister, to creditor-debtor. In one respect, it’s now a master-slave relationship. I know, that sounds harsh, but really, that’s what it is. Secondly, it’s probably a safe assumption that you are dealing with someone who lacks wisdom when it comes to money. Rather than learning how to use money properly, it is easier for them to ask someone to bail them out. As bad as that may sound, the reality is that they were willing to place the relationship in jeopardy for the sake of money.

If you want to be biblical and help them out while protecting the relationship, you have two options. Gently explain to them that you do not want to jeopardize the relationship and ‘loaning’ them money would do just that. The other option is to give them the money with no strings attached. Regardless of which option you choose, offer to show them how to wisely manage their money. It will pay dividends for the rest of their life, and save a friendship!

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Who Controls Your Life?

Proverbs 16

I really do love and admire the attitude and perspective of young people.  They can be bold, confident, self-assured, and a belief of invincibility when it comes to living life.  Unlike me, they haven’t been banged around too much, nor have they experienced too many failures or disappointments in life.  Now I’m sure if you asked them they would have a different opinion on that.

Whenever I look back on my young adult life, I chuckle at the almost arrogant and brash self-confidence that I had.  I had goals for my life and no one was going to stop me from attaining them.  If I wanted something and believed that I could have it, then I went for it.  But then something has happened over the decades.  By the time I reached twenty-five, I started to experience the bumps and grinds of life.  Not everything was going my way.  There were people that I knew well who died, others who disappointed me by their actions, and no longer was life a sure thing.

As I watched those who were older than me navigate life, my attention was drawn to those who lived life with humility and had this uncanny trust in God.  They didn’t just believe that God would look after and provide for them, they knew that God would!  Somehow life had taught them that in the end, it wasn’t them that was in control of life, rather, it was God who was in control of their life.  Life, age, and experience had taught them that surrendering their lives into his control was the wisest thing they could do.

Now outwardly (homes, jobs, wealth, etc) their life didn’t look like anything spectacular, but something about them oozed peace, contentment, and a deep sense that their life was very secure in God’s hands.  That was the gold that I wanted and continue to long for in my life.  I think I’m getting there, and while I may not have the self-assured confidence of my youth, I find lately that whenever anyone asks me, “How ya doing?”, I can honestly answer that in spite of the stresses of life, and the swirl of activity that goes on from day to day, I’m at peace.  I have learned and am learning that God has and is proving that he can be entrusted with my life.

The proverbs that follow speak to the fact that a life surrendered to God is a life that is secure, stable, and at peace with the world and with God.  Who better to care for and direct the affairs of your life than the One who created you?

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.

33 We may throw the dice,but the Lord determines how they fall.

 the-beloved-disciple

I Think God Has a Happy Heart

CometLovejoy

So yes, the past two days has been jammed-packed for me, hence why I’m just now writing my post. Such is life…

So here’s the beauty of the wisdom books, particularly Proverbs. Wisdom is a ‘God-thing’. I’m a believer that God is wisdom and wisdom flows from God. I think we would all agree with that, because if it doesn’t emanate from him, then where does it come from? So I’m good with saying that all wisdom comes from God.

If that’s the case, then I am of the thought that God is definitely for us and truly believes the best and desires the best for us. For me, God is not somewhere ‘up there’ looking down with a scowl on his face, wagging his finger, and accusing us of every sin under the sun.  Now does the brokenness of humanity trouble God and causes him pain? Sure…I’m certain of that. But when I consider what I read in Scripture, along with the beauty of all of creation, including the vast cosmos, then I sense a very loving God who loves delighting us, and invites us to join in with him…to co-create with him, so to speak.

This is the very thing I detect when I read Proverbs 15! For every verse that follows, I have only copied the ‘positive’. In other words, how a ‘wise person’ is to live life and approach others. The way I see it, if this is how God desires me to live my life, then I have to believe this is how God has created the universe and all the creatures in it (including humans), and how God desires to interact with creation. And when I ponder these sentences, I’m thinking that God has a happy heart. What do you think?

A gentle answer deflects anger,

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,

Gentle words are a tree of life;

The lips of the wise give good advice;

13 A glad heart makes a happy face;

15for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

23 Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

26 The Lord… delights in pure words.

28 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;

30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

By the way…the name of the comet in the pic?  Comet Lovejoy!  🙂

Make Friends With Yourself

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.  Proverbs 14: 30                 

The beauty of ‘maturing’ (getting older) is that you realize not everything is as it may seem. The things I was so certain of in my younger days…well let’s just say I’m not so certain anymore. The lines blur a bit for me. I think that’s just wisdom and the beauty of living through a few decades of life on this wonderful planet of ours ;).

One of those blurry areas is this whole thing about body, soul, and spirit. I understand where that comes from, and I also get that we like to compartmentalize just about everything. I’m not sure why we like to do that, but we do. Perhaps one reason for doing that is we ‘think’ we can understand it better. It’s more easily controlled. And it’s just so gosh-darn fun to label everything.

So along with my body, soul, and spirit, I also get that I have a mind, and emotions. All of these ‘parts of me’ are not pieces of a human pie…connected but separate. For me it’s more like pasta sauce – different ingredients all blended together; one enhancing the taste of the other. Take one out and it changes everything. By the way, this ‘pasta sauce’ analogy is just that, an analogy, but that’s what happens when the lines blur. So what does this have to do with the proverb I chose for today? Well…

This proverb is basically saying that a happy heart leads to a happy body. A jealous heart leads to a sick body. That’s what this proverb is saying. Yes, it’s speaking directly to jealousy, but as with all other proverbs, there is a general principle here, and a lesson to be learned.

Human beings today are frantically spending ginormous amounts of cash, time, and energy trying to not only fix those three areas (body, soul, spirit), but also trying to have them aligned perfectly with each other. The way I see it, we are becoming (and some of us have already arrived) a neurotic and unhinged people. I sometimes wonder if we are actually causing more harm to ourselves than the good we are desiring?

Again, the way I see it, it was me who asked Jesus to ‘save me’ because I couldn’t save me. If I’ve read my Bible correctly, God loves the ‘messed-up-me’ (Yes, it is possible to love a messed up person, just ask your parents). So if God can love the ‘messed-up-me’, then I think I can. It was a number of years ago that I decided to make friends with myself. Sometimes I’m not the way I’d like to be, and I don’t believe I will ever arrive at that place of perfection in this life (I’m not even sure what a perfect Scott would even look like). So I’ve decided to let Jesus work on me…in his time.

Today, why not make friends with yourself? Your body, mind, soul, spirit and every other part will thank you for it! And Jesus will thank you too!

mirror-kiss

To Spank or Not to Spank!

A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.

Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.      Proverbs 13: 1, 24

So now that I have your attention, stick with me through this short journey into this ‘touchy’ subject (no pun intended) of child discipline.

It’s unfortunate, but true that many of us assume that these two proverbs are endorsing parents ‘spanking’ or ‘punishing’ their children. And you know what they say about ass-u-me… 😉 . What these two proverbs are talking about is the wisdom of accepting discipline and the responsibility of giving discipline.

Forms of child discipline vary from generation to generation, and culture to culture. I am of the belief that humanity shifts and changes as each generation learns from the previous one. The hope is that we see continual improvement as we become more knowledgeable. However, there are times when because of the fault of one generation, the next generation throws the baby out with the bath water. I think when it comes to the responsibility of parental discipline, we have done just that. I belong to the ‘Boomer’ generation and we did learn from our parents the HARD way…that beatings and strappings, etc are a tad archaic! But the Boomers (not all, but many) and the generations following (not all) have thrown out discipline along with physical punishment. Bad on us.

In doing that, we have reaped a much weaker and fearful generation. The beauty of growing up as a child is that you have this belief that you are invincible, and so you are willing to try and do anything. But trying anything without a sprinkling of wisdom can take you down the wrong path with not-so-nice consequences, and that’s where discipline comes in. Parents have a responsibility to discipline or correct (redirect to the right path) as their children are growing up. Why? Well because while learning via the school-of-hard-knocks is effective, it doesn’t even come close to the loving correction from a parent.

Secondly, by giving my child the discipline that he or she needs, I am also instructing them in the way of life, cultivating a sense of security within themselves, protecting them, and teaching them the importance of self-restraint and self-discipline. When we practice those two things – with ourselves and with our children, we are building character within ourselves and our children.

Thirdly, while I believe that we live in a beautiful world, I also know that it’s a tough one. Discipline lovingly given instills within a child a sense of self-confidence, wisdom, and the opportunity to fully enjoy life. But when we bought into the notion that saying ‘no’ to our children, or giving guidance in all areas of their life as being ‘mean parenting’, we now have a generation of children and young adults who lack confidence in themselves and fear the world outside their door. In essence, I believe that we have robbed them of the joy of life.

Solomon was correct when he wrote, “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.”

What’s Your Bulls Eye

Bullseye (1)Better to be an ordinary person with a servant than to be self-important but have no food.

A life of wisdom always trumps a life of greatness! Always!

There, I said it.

As I was slowly reading through the 12th chapter of Proverbs, I was intrigued by today’s passage. It was so refreshing to read the words, “Better to be an ordinary person…”. Ya see, that’s what I love about the sacred writings found in the Bible, they speak the truth.  No air-brushing, no glossy images of people, no superstars. Scripture tells it the way it really is. So where am I going with all of this? Let me explain.

Every time that I read or hear the words, “You too, can discover your destiny!” I feel some joy leak out of me. Here’s why. Those words are telling me that where I currently am in life is not my destiny. What it is telling me is that a life well lived is one of greatness, fame, wealth, brains, beauty, popularity, ad nauseam. Then what gets added to that phrase are examples of people who have made it in one or several of those categories, and more joy leaks out. Throw in a dash of glossy photo’s and then you know that your life is completely boring. This is a bit of a rant because I believe that this is a set up for disappointment and discouragement. I’m ranting because this is not the Kingdom that Jesus taught about.

Secondly, we really don’t want every person in this world to be some stellar superstar, do we? As I’ve said to many people time and time again, when I’m stranded on the side of the highway because my car broke down, I want a tow truck driver. I don’t want a famous brain surgeon, or a pastor. Look… we need servers at restaurants, custodians, hotel clerks, cashiers, truck drivers, sanitation workers, people who empty septic tanks…and the list could go on and on. Yes we need entertainers, CEOs, prime ministers, presidents, rock stars, sports stars, etc., but we also need the people in the background because they are the ones who make it all happen!

What Solomon is saying in this verse and throughout all of Proverbs is that wisdom, character, sound judgment, self-discipline, and the fear of God are the bulls eyes in life that we need to be aiming for. The beauty of making those the bulls eyes is that everyone can aim for it and hit it, not just the top 1% of the population. You see, everyone is created in God’s image and have God’s DNA imprinted on them.  It’s why Jesus recoiled whenever people wanted to make him famous or a superstar. That would have missed the mark.  It’s why he said that if you want to be famous in God’s kingdom, then become a famous servant to all.  And that is everyone’s destiny!

Free Speech…But to What Degree??

powerofwords1So yesterday was one of those days that was jammed packed from morning til late into the evening. Had I tried to write my post when I finally got home, I would been babbling and not being very coherent. I don’t sweat it. My goal is to write everyday, but I realize that ‘life happens’ and at the end of the day, it’s all good. But I do love setting goals for myself, as it gives me something to aim for. But I’m digressing once again…

We’re now into the part of proverbs where each verse or line is a short nugget of wisdom, and they can vary from topic to topic. My post will just reflect on one of the topics. So on to chapter 11!

With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.

12 It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.

13 A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

So I am a supporter of ‘free speech’. What I mean by that is that people should be allowed to state their beliefs, thoughts, opinions and their point of view on a variety of matters. I don’t believe that any one group of people should be policing what others can or cannot say…sort of. Let me explain.

Words are powerful. They can inspire, build ones courage, inform, educate, comfort, and love. Words can also destroy, hurt, annihilate, crush, suck joy, isolate, hate and kill. If you’ve been around this beautiful world of ours for at least a decade, then you have no doubt experienced both healing words and hurting words. You know their power.

Solomon is correct when he says that it’s the ‘godless’ who destroy their friends with their words. To use our words to hurt, belittle, or gossip is, in fact, ‘godless’. It’s godless because God doesn’t kill people with his words. With words, God uses words to build us up, love us, heal us, restore us, and secure us. Humanity is created in God’s image, and so Wisdom knows that to live life as it was meant to be lived means we live as creative beings, not beings of destruction.

Our world longs for peace in our homes, our communities and among our nations, and that all starts with our words, my friends.

I’m all for freedom of speech, just not undisciplined speech.

A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!                   James 3: 5  The Message