The Destroying Angel

destroyingAngelMushroom

The Destroying Angel mushroom

So listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words.

Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her.

Don’t wander down her wayward path.

For she has been the ruin of many; many men have been her victims.

Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death.

Proverbs 7: 24-27

I know, these words are not really the cheery type.  But then since when are warning signs supposed to be cheery?  They are there to get your attention…NOW!  

This morning after our worship service I was having small-talk with a couple of guys, and we shifted into mushroom picking (of which I have zero knowledge of). Patrick mentioned about this one mushroom that will literally kill you if you eat it. It’s name is The Destroying Angel. The beauty of giving it a name such as that is there is absolutely nothing appealing about it. There is nothing in that name that would even tempt you to eat it. It’s name says, “I’m out to kill you.” And in fact, if you eat it, within five to twenty-four hours, it will have destroyed your liver and kidneys, and yes, your body!

It’s too bad that the name, immorality, didn’t have the same effect on us. In fact, the name is so innocuous that people just nonchalantly walk right into it. In the seventh chapter, Solomon zeros in on sexual immorality, but let’s not forget that we can find immorality in money and power, as well.

Immorality is seductive, plays on our insecurities, our weaknesses, and couldn’t give a rip about us afterwards. And so Solomon implores us to not just stay away, but to run from immorality, because much like The Destroying Angel mushroom, in the end it will kill you.

His advice is straightforward:

RUN!

And like the Destroying Angel…in the end, it will kill you.

I suggest we rename immorality for what it is…The Destroying Angel!

Do not eat it…don’t even lick it!

Dear Lazybones…

LazyAntTake a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!  Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.  Proverbs 6: 6-11

Tax season is here and the commercials for RRSPs can be heard on most radio stations. So do you save for a rainy day? Are you someone who has squirreled away an emergency fund (‘they’ say you should save anywhere from 3 to 6 months salary)? How about that nasty ‘B’ word…and no, not that one. I’m talking about having a budget. Do you have one? What about saving for retirement, or have you resigned yourself to working right up until the day you leave this fine world of ours?

The ‘winter seasons’ of life. Some call these the ‘golden years’, or the ‘twilight years’, or as my Mom called them, the ‘rusty years’. If you’re planning on living a full life, then you need to factor in that at some point, those ‘winter years’ are going to come. Will you be prepared for those years, or is your idea of a retirement fund, moving in with your kids? If so, I would suggest you check with them to see if they share your future vision.

Now on this note, I need to add that I have spoken to some Christians who question the whole concept of saving for retirement…that’s it’s not a very ‘Christian’ thing to do. Their perspective is that you could give that money to the poor, to a good cause, to missions, etc. Their argument is that Jesus will provide for us, therefore, a retirement fund is not necessary. I get why one could have that perspective, and I know that Jesus instructed his followers to store up treasures in heaven. But alas, I digress…this post is not about that.

In these six verses you have wisdom Scripture instructing people that it is most wise to consider the humble ant. The ant diligently works at preparing for the winter season that is about to come, otherwise, that ant will wake up one day to find that it’s too late.

Scripture is not telling us to hoard, nor is it instructing us to just think of ourselves, but it is telling us that when it comes to the money that we do have, we would be most wise to exercise self-discipline.

Yes, provide for yourself today and trust Jesus, but remember that winter IS coming.

On Your Mark…Get Set

runnerFrom the 5th!

23 He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Have you ever wished you could hop in a slick sports car, throw the top down, forget the seat belt, no brakes, and with unlimited speed?  Oh to cruise down the road, blasting through intersections ignoring the colour of the lights, pass when you felt like passing, drive on any side of the road of your choosing.  Talk about freedom, right?  NOT!!!  Who in their right mind would even consider driving in such a careless manner?  Talk about a terrifying nightmare.  Not just for you, but for every other person using the road!  We would applaud the courts for permanently revoking the drivers licence for life!  Who would want such a person on the road?  Not me, that’s for sure!

But there are so many people who live their lives like that, day in and day out.  Which is what the wise old king talking about in the fifth chapter of Proverbs.  Now he is speaking specifically to those who choose to live sexually immoral lives, and if we could put it into today’s language, it would be comparable to driving a car with no brakes at an insane speed down a roadway with other motorists and pedestrians using that road.

People actually choose to live this way, completely unaware of the risk they are putting their life at, but other lives that are being put at risk.  When that car goes out of control (and it will), mayhem will ensue, and oh the regrets that that crazy driver is going to have.  The interesting thing is, we hear about these things happening all the time, and it’s been happening since the beginning of human history, and it continues to this day.

What’s at the root of the problem?  If you’re a good ol Bible-believin’ Christian, then you would say ‘sin’.  And that’s true…sort of.  You see, when we say it’s ‘sin’, I think there’s a wee part of us that feels it’s not totally our fault – “It’s SIN’S fault!!”

Solomon calls it what it is – a lack of self-control.  In other words…we lack self-discipline.  It’s that common thread that runs through all of the book of Proverbs.  It’s the people who have learned the value of self-control that are the wise ones!  Think about it…

Ignore the Squirrel!!

25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.

27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

As I read through Proverbs I get this distinct feeling that one of the main threads coursing throughout Solomon’s mind is the principle of self-leadership. The question that seems is being asked is: “Who leads your life?” Now naturally most of us would say, “I do, of course?” But as I think more deeply about this, I don’t think that’s always the case. Whenever I take the time to review my day, I tend to find that ‘circumstances’ have been leading my life, or other people have been leading me(their opinions, words, actions, needs, etc), my feelings play a part in this, my ‘smart phone’ (most definitely!), emails…I think you see where I’m coming from.

Squirrel

The idea of self-discipline is the same thing as leading ones self. If I don’t lead myself, someone or something else will. Think about it? What leads your life? Do you determine what you are going to focus on today, or is it other people, situations, or feelings? I think that Solomon is saying, “I can choose to lead myself.”

I love these words in Proverbs, and they are so relevant in todays age! Are we not a distracted people?? The ‘noise’ of life is so loud anymore, with everything clamouring for our attention, that the second you bound out of bed something is demanding your attention! And how many people do you hear about that are struggling with ADD, and other various disorders that cripple their ability to focus on a task. We tend to call those interruptions, SQUIRRELS. If you’re chuckling to yourself right now, then you know what I’m talking about. These SQUIRRELS (or distractions) are everywhere and can happen at anytime.

Squirrel

I’m having a conversation with someone and my phone buzzes…SQUIRREL!

I’m preparing for a teaching that I have to give and a thought goes through my mind…SQUIRREL!

I’m having a date night at a pub (poor choice) and a sports game is on the TV that’s posted above my spouse’s head. My team scores! SQUIRREL!

Squirrel

Solomon says to look straight ahead and fix your eyes…mark out a straight path…don’t get sidetracked. In other words, focus, and lead yourself.

Sin is much like a SQUIRREL…it’s everywhere trying to distract me from what’s important in life. Sure I can pray, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” But I must also fix my eyes on Jesus, because after all, I am supposed to following him, not the SQUIRRELS!

Easier Said Than Done

And onto the 3rd chapter we go…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

If you’ve been around the church for as long as I have, then you probably have heard this passage either spoken, read, or have read it yourself, oh…well over a hundred times.  So easy to say, but doing it??  That’s another story.  The stream of Christianity I grew up in reduced ‘faith in Christ’ to saying the ‘sinners prayer’, reading my Bible, and attending church on a regular basis.  But that really isn’t the nitty-gritty meaning of faith!  Faith and trust go hand in hand. To trust or ‘believe in’ something means you place your full weight on it. Here’s a true story that brings the full intent of what it means to ‘trust’.

DDblondin1

Near the end of July, 1859, tightrope walker, Charles Blondin walked across the Niagara gorge, and on his back was his manager, Harry Colcord (see the actual photo).  That summer, Blondin did several crossings wowing the crowds that gathered, and when I say crowds, at times there were upwards of 25,000 people on both sides of the river to watch.  Blondin would cross blindfolded, once with a sack over his body, and another time he cooked an omelette halfway across.

In that same month, he crossed pushing a wheelbarrow full of bricks.  When he got to the other side the people cheered him.  He asked the crowd if they believed he could carry a person across in the wheelbarrow.  They roared back ‘YES!’  He asked for a volunteer, and there was silence.  No kidding, eh?  Apparently, that night his manager, Harry Colcord, realized that if he was going to promote Blondin, then he needed to be convinced himself, so the two of them decided that the next day Blondin would take Harry across on his back.

Now here’s what I find amazing.  That next day before Harry climbed onto Blondin’s back, Blondin said these words to Harry, and I quote: ““Look up, Harry.… you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Until I clear this place be a part of me, mind, body, and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do we will both go to our death.”  Harry followed the instructions and they crossed the gorge together.  No doubt a white-knuckle piggy-back!

So when Solomon says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”, he means to put your full weight in the Lord and be one with him!  The challenge is, you only learn this in the midst of the hard stuff of life.  However, once you’ve crossed that first ‘gorge’ forced to lean on God, you will know, without any doubt, that God can be trusted!

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-daredevil-of-niagara-falls-110492884/#8wIxOHxubdOc732s.99
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Yes, Common Sense is Spiritual

CalvinandCommonSenseFrom chapter two…

For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

The phrase, ‘common sense’ is so subtle that we tend to read it or say it without fully understanding the implications that it carries.  I think part of the reason for this is because it’s not bold or brash.  It’s quiet, steady, the same day in and day out.  It’s just there and it’s something that you can depend on.  And that’s the point!  Common sense is a tried and true principle of life that no one can argue against.  Now there are exceptions to the rule, as there is with any principle.  But that’s the thing with common sense and proverbs – everything being equal, they hold true to life.  It doesn’t even matter what part of the world you are from, what language you speak, or the culture you identify with, they are valid right across the board.  That’s what makes them ‘common’.

Now here is what I think is the beauty of common sense: deep inside each human being is the seed of common sense.  I love how Solomon writes, “He [the Lord] grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.”  In that one sentence there is a hint that common sense is found or discovered when we are straight up with ourselves, with others, and especially with God.  Being honest means being straight up.

I’ve always contended that God is everywhere and is in everything, and if that’s the case, then God must be in the common, otherwise, how can God be God?   Today, ask God to grant you a treasure of common sense, and when situations come your way, don’t dodge and weave, don’t manipulate or look the other way, search for the treasure and do life ‘straight up’.

Solomon’s Challenge

BeStronger

Chapter 1

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.                                                                                                           Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

Day one, and here I am writing at 8:10pm.  What’s going on?  Yesterday I made a list of things I needed to get done today and I’ve just finished up now, and the last thing on my list is to write the blog.  Sure, it could have been the first thing, but somehow it made it to last place.  My intention is to write this at the beginning of every day.  Maybe what I’m lacking is discipline, which is exactly what caught my eye from the first chapter of Solomon’s proverbs.

Did you happen to notice that in verse two, the purpose of these proverbs is to “teach people wisdom and discipline, and then in verse three, the “purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives.”  Me thinks that discipline is sort of on the top of the list for Solomon!

I know a bit about discipline from my former career as a police officer.  The months of training was all about discipline…day in and day out!  Discipline is about putting structure in the areas of your life that develop maturity and character.  One area that I’ve become quite disciplined in is working out.  I workout approximately six days per week.  Not bad for an old fella!  And you know what did it for me?   On the first DVD (yes I workout at home with DVD’s) the trainer, Tony Horton, commented on the challenge of sticking with the program.  He said, “Get it out of your head.  Just show up and push play, and eventually you’ll get there.”  That stuck for me because I knew that there would be days when the last thing I wanted to do was workout.  When those days came, Tony’s words came to mind and I hauled my butt to the rec room, stuck in the DVD and pushed play.  And then something happened – working out became a part of my life, and the benefits have paid off handsomely!

How’s the discipline in your own life going these days?  Examine your life and if there are areas that are weak or need some growing, I would invite you to accept Solomon’s challenge to embrace wisdom and discipline.  Make it a part of your life every day, and I guarantee that you’ll see the change you’re looking for.  Until tomorrow…

Say Hello to Wisdom

GoldVeinBefore we embark on our journey into the depths of life and mine for wisdom, I wanted to give you a bit of an intro, welcome you to the tour…sort of like your ‘tour guide’, and show you the beauty of wisdom.

I find it intriguing how in my early years of following Jesus I naturally assumed a passive posture when it came to living like a Christian. It was like I was waiting for God to change me by zapping me or something. But over time I have come to learn the value of taking responsibility for the person I desire to be, which I think is the person that God desires, too.  I believe that deep within each of us lies the dormant seed of wisdom, and if we’ll water and nurture that seed it will produce for us a rich life.

Those necessary nutrients are found in the book of Proverbs.  This little book smack-dab in the middle of the Bible contains…proverbs!  Short pithy sayings of concentrated wisdom.  It was written by King Solomon, perhaps one of the wisest world leaders humanity has seen.  I’m fascinated that Solomon took the time to not only ponder the vastness of wisdom, but to also write it down.

So plant yourself in the Ground of all Being and let yourself be nurtured by these nutrient-rich nuggets!  Welcome to the tour.