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20 Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied. Proverbs 27

I’m back in the saddle!  We had a great Good Friday and Easter, both at our awesome faith community at the thevineyardchurch.ca and with my family.  Enjoyed the time off and did some yard work and puttering around the house.  Here’s an interesting tidbit for you.  On Easter Sunday I pondered the resurrection and I came to the conclusion that Jesus is the ‘Beautiful’ that the world longs for.  I say that because I tend to find that most people don’t have a problem with Jesus. It’s the ‘church’ that they have issues with, but again…I’m rambling.  Onto the sayings of the wise!

The 27th chapter of Proverbs has a potpourri of wisdom sayings that should be allowed to marinate in our minds and hearts.  However, this one stood out for me for whatever reason, and here’s the point that hit home…

Thank God (literally) that desire is never satisfied, otherwise, we’d never long for more and more and more.  That’s what makes desire…well, desire!  I wouldn’t want desire to be satisfied forever.   Sure, there are times when we attain that satisfaction, and the satisfaction is good…temporarily…but then we want more.  And that’s the beauty of desire.  That’s also it’s downfall.

Because desire is never satisfied, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that if desire hits, we then need to satisfy it or ‘quench’ it.  But the truth is, it always wants more.  We have a better understanding of that today with the advances of science and the study of the brain.

Which is all the more reason why we must practice the art of self-discipline.  Desire must be disciplined. It needs to be restrained to be healthy.  Desire must be mastered, otherwise, it will master us, and when that happens, there is the potential that all hell will break loose.

So, don’t try to pray away your desires because you need them.  Rather, bring a good dose of discipline to the situation and rein in those desires.  You’ll be a much better person for it!

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Life is 3 Dimensional

Three-Dimensional-Spheres

I’m not a fan of ‘black and white’ thinking, simply because it leads to seeing life two dimensionally.  Life isn’t two dimensional, my friend!  If you’ve had any life experience then you know that life is more gray, then anything else.  In reality we don’t want to go for gray, either.  Gray is simply mixing black and white together…a compromise.  I would suggest that rather than aiming for black, white or gray, let’s aim for wisdom.  Wisdom is thinking three dimensionally.  Below are some examples from the 20th chapter of Proverbs.  If you’re a black and white thinker, then you’ll probably understand these incorrectly.  So here we go…

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.

This is not saying that you shouldn’t consume alcohol.  Remember one of the predominant themes running through Proverbs is ‘self-discipline’.  The same applies for alcohol consumption: without self-discipline, here’s what you can expect!

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Loyal friends are out there.  Generally I think we expect too much from a friendship with others.  There’s a tendency to have too high expectations, and when we do that, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Unfortunately too many friendships have crashed and burned because of that.  As with any relationship, we need to put into practice the prayer of St. Francis. Make me an instrument of your peace…

16 Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.

Someone who would guarantee a strangers debt is not to be considered as someone who lives wisely.  Lack of wisdom bleeds into every area of a person’s life.  Buyer beware!

19 A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.

Wanna kill a relationship?  Hop on the gossip train and you will definitely derail any relationship.  RUN from gossip.  It’s deadly.

29 The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

Those gray hairs that you’re seeing in the mirror are a blessing…seriously!  The fact that you have lived long enough to have gray hair says that you have experience, and with experience comes wisdom!  C’mon gray hair!!

30 Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.

This has nothing to do with strapping or hitting your kids.  So don’t even go there.  This is about physical punishment meted out by king’s officers for a criminal offence.  However…this approach was seen as wisdom from that time and that culture.  We know differently today because humanity learns and develops over the centuries.

Let’s choose to live 3 dimensionally!  Enjoy your day 😉

A Club or an Umbrella?

umbrellaKeep the commandments and keep your life; despising them leads to death.  Proverbs 19: 16

So here’s an experiment you can try at home. Find the Ten Commandments, Levitical laws, Jesus’ commandments, or any of the commandments in the Bible, for that matter. But to keep it simple, let’s stick with Exodus 20 (Here’s a link to the 10Cs – http://tinyurl.com/m7zxmbv).  Now close your eyes and think of a person who loved you and had a positive influence in your life. Now read the 10 Cs as if you were hearing it coming from that person. Read it again, but this time, close your eyes and think of someone in your life who was very strict and stern. Now read the 10 Cs as if hearing it from that voice.

Did you find that ‘hearing’ it from a different ‘voice’ changed how you received it? If so, realize that we subconsciously read everything, including Scripture, from that ‘little voice’ that’s inside our head. That little voice has been formed over a number of years or decades as a result of our personality makeup, the people in our lives, and the various situations that we have experienced. Just sayin’…

I try to the best of my ability when I am reading scripture to be cognizant of the voice that I am using. So, I tend to read Scripture from the lens that the central core of who God is, is love. I’ve never heard an angry voice, with a wagging finger threatening me, at least almost never. And so when I read the 10 Cs, I picture a God who has provided us with an umbrella of protection, to help us enjoy the best life that we can. If I step out from underneath that umbrella, then I am vulnerable and an easy prey just waiting to be picked off by the enemy.

Now I get that rule and commandments can be seen as restrictive – that I’m not ‘free’ to do whatever I please. It’s funny how some think that they should just be able to do whatever seems ‘right’ to them. It’s as if freedom to do what you want, when you want, and how you want equals a happy and fulfilled life. But that’s just nonsense, and here’s why.

The universe we live in is designed to work in harmony with everything else. Individual things thrive when they are in sync with the rest of life. When something goes awry, chaos, destruction and ultimately, death are sure to follow. Our solar system moves together and is held into place because everything is dependent on its neighbouring planet/moons doing their thing. We would be doomed if Earth didn’t follow the path at the speed it’s set to follow, or if the it decided to tilt ten more degrees, or spin just a wee bit faster.

Wisdom is telling us that God has even set in place a trajectory for us to follow, and if we go awry (or out from under the umbrella), then chaos, destruction, and ultimately death are sure to follow.

Next time your driving through a city, just imagine the drive with all the laws, signs and lane markings removed. Welcome to the dystopian world of Mad Max!

 

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!

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.”

Selective Correction

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.  So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.

But correct the wise, and they will love you.  Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.               Proverbs 9: 7-9

I’ve never been one to shy away from the yearly performance evaluation.  If it’s done with the right intent, then it is actually helpful and allows you to improve your weak areas.  The key is if it’s done with the right intent.

Correction.  I’m not sure what comes to mind when you hear that word.  Perhaps it brings back memories as a child at home or at your school.  Or maybe it’s the supervisor losing it on you.  Depending on what you experienced in life when it came to correction, you have probably formed your own definition.  If you have negative feelings towards correction, then you may have confused it with punishment, or worse…abuse.  Correction is neither punishment nor abuse.

The sole purpose of correction is to bring something into proper alignment.  It’s about fostering health in a person’s character, shaping them to be the person God intended them to be.  Correction never demeans, belittles, denigrates, or maligns.  Correction believes the best about the person and in fact, desires the best for that person.

Solomon calls the wise to be selective in who they correct.  In other words, if a person is known as one who cannot receive correction without being offended, hurt, or angered, then Solomon says to not bother.  It’s better to correct the wise and righteous person.  Why?  They will actually listen, apply what they have learned, and become the better person for it.  They are the ones who will be an influential and positive force to be reckoned with in our world.

If your next performance evaluation comes with a bit of correction, before you take offense and sulk and complain to others about your ‘jerk boss’, pause for a moment and consider the intent behind it.  If the intent was coming from a heart that believes the best about you, then take a few seconds to thank your supervisor for the correction. Seriously…do it!

The Wisdom of Our Universe

BeginningThe Lord formed me [wisdom] from the beginning, before he created anything else.

I [wisdom] was appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began.

I [wisdom] was the architect at his side. I [wisdom] was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence.                                                                                                                                                                                        Proverbs 8: 22-23, 30

Just a reminder to those who are journeying with me through Proverbs, that the words I write are simply my thoughts and insights. Perhaps a different passage from the chapters stands out for you, and no doubt you may have different insights. My desire is that I am whetting your appetite for the richness of Kingdom wisdom. These proverbs really are ‘words to live by’.

If you’ve been reading every chapter from Proverbs, then by now you are feeling like Solomon, or maybe it’s Wisdom, is desperately pleading with us to listen and make these words a part of your life. Wisdom wants to marinate us in these words so that discipline and sound judgment ooze from our pores.

An eye opener for me starts at verse 22 where Wisdom declares that God formed her, or gave birth to her from the beginning before he created anything else! What I take from those words is that ALL of life has been formed and shaped by wisdom. In other words, God didn’t take a bunch of human body parts and throw them against the wall and see what stuck and what didn’t. Just imagine if God had…where would your nose have ended up?  Every part and cell in our body is placed where it’s supposed to be, and designed to do exactly as intended. Thank goodness!

IF that’s the case, then it would stand to reason that to fully get the most out of this brief life that we have on earth is to live in rhythm with creation, and in rhythm with our Creator. In other words, live life the way it was meant to be lived…with wisdom, understanding, sound judgment, discipline, and the fear of the Lord (a healthy fear, that is).

And one thing before I close off – discipline is even found in the creation of planet Earth. Get a load of verse 29 – I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. Just imagine living on a planet where the oceans could do what they want and go where they want! Scary, eh?