winnie-the-poohFrom Proverbs Twenty-five

16 Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!

17 Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.

27 It’s not good to eat too much honey, and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself.

Ya have to like Pooh Bear…honey pot and all.  One thing about Pooh, he does make honey look wonderfully yummy.  While Solomon may think Pooh Bear is cute, floating in his honey pot, when it comes down to the reality of life, too much of a good thing is really not a good thing!  And that’s the point that Solomon is trying to make.  I think we can all recall a time when we ate too much of a good thing.  Rather than having the effect we were chasing after, it did quite the opposite, didn’t it?  If you gorged yourself, then you probably ended up hugging the toilet bowl.  Remember the adage…everything in moderation.  EVERYTHING!

Solomon uses two examples throughout this chapter of too much of a good thing.

  1. Wearing a path from your house to your neighbour’s house (or vice versa), does not inspire close relationships. Think of it this way: as you ‘wear’ a path to your neighbour, so you ‘wear’ out your friendship. We know what it feels like when someone begins to wear out their welcome – tiresome!
  2. The proverb in verse 27 goes without saying. Needing to be noticed, applauded, and recognized for this, that and the next thing, ranks right up there with the person who tells you how humble they are. The minute they thought of telling you that they were humble they immediately disqualified themselves. So it is with the person who needs to be recognized and applauded.

So the next time you’re hankering to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours, remember that ‘less is more’.  Too much and you may end up finding yourself embracing the proverbial toilet!

Even Pooh Bear would agree with that nugget of wisdom!

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How To Be a Good Wife :)

GoodWifeAnd now from Proverbs 21!

It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.

19 It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.

For all you wives out there, I hope you’re paying attention to Solomon’s words of wisdom. This tidbit of advice is coming from someone who has ‘been there – done that – and bought the t-shirt’! Like c’mon, he had, what is it? A thousand wives and three concubines? Oy vey! I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but surely he must be the expert on the kind of wife you ought not to be! So listen up all you wives.

Now would probably be a good time to crawl into a bunker as you start to lob bombs my way!

Let’s get serious now. We live in the western part of the world in 2017. Things have changed just a wee bit from Solomon’s era in the middle east…just a bit! So when you read something like this, understand that yes, it’s God who is inspiring people to write, but what is being written is coming through a specific mindset, culture, upbringing, and a particular understanding of how life is viewed.

Solomon lived in a patriarchal world where if you were born male, you were the master, superior, stronger, on the top of the heap, etc. The world was viewed through the eyes of men and women with that understanding. So of course Solomon would write something that would grate on the nerves of the majority of women (and probably most men) in 2017 in the western world. Gosh, it doesn’t even sit well with me. Nor should it with you.

Even Paul, in trying to loosen up the religious Christians in the city of Galatia wrote, For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Get it? We (men and women) are ALL one (equal and on level ground). Different? Yes. But not superior.

So now that we have that out of the way…

Simply put, living with a quarrelsome and/or complaining person (man or woman) would drive anybody crazy. You can’t live like that for very long before the attic, the shed, or even the desert starts to look really cozy.

Here’s why. Quarrels are not just disagreements. They are angry disagreements. And where there’s anger, there’s control issues. It’s not that you want or need to share your opinion, it’s that you have this belief that your opinion is the right one, and the other person’s opinion is flat out wrong! In fact you won’t even take to the time to listen and admit that their opinion may be better or even right.

Now when it comes to complaining, the issue there is that it’s gone from simply expressing something that you are dissatisfied with to lamenting about your dissatisfication (right on the heels of whining). We know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that. But for the one who is known for complaining, there is a deep dissatisfication that that person has with their own life. Something is out of whack. Absent from a life of a complainer is gratitude, thankfulness, joy, and the inability to see the good in this world.

So if you begin to notice your spouse eyeing the attic space, or fascinated with documentaries about the Mojave Desert…maybe you should book some time with your therapist.

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!

 

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!  🙂