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!

 

Advertisements

The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.     Proverbs 18: 17

I can say a hearty AMEN!, to this proverb. When I was a police officer I spent many a day sitting in court, and sitting through many a trial. I found trials quite intriguing. Trials follow a very specific and detailed process, while slow, actually allows the judge and/or jury to have a more rounded picture or what really occurred. It’s one thing to hear one side of the story, but it’s quite another thing when you hear the other side’s version. What you thought was the truth turns out to be a part of the truth – but not the whole truth. It’s when you hear the whole truth that you are able to come to a right conclusion…most of the time.

Now, in case you think that is all this proverb is about…allow me to unpack it for you. This proverb speaks to a much deeper issue, and that is what we think we understand/know about a situation, person, or what we think we observe, is generally not a full understanding.

Here’s the problem. How we view people, any given situation, or even what we observe, is not necessarily the true reality. Let’s take something that we have all observed. Have you noticed when the moon is close to the horizon that it appears much larger than usual? The natural tendency is to think that the moon must be so much closer to the earth – hence, why it looks bigger.

The truth of the matter is the Relative size hypothesis. Huh?? Simply put, objects in the vicinity of the horizon moon exhibit a fine detail that makes the moon appear larger (Wikipedia). Okay, to make sense of what I’m saying, it’s the same thing as the Ebbinghaus Illusion, where a circle appears larger when surrounded by smaller circles, than it does when surrounded by larger circles. Really? Well check this out.220px-Ebbinghaus_Illusion.svg

Bottom line, not everything is at it appears at first glance. And that goes with everything. So next time you’re itching to jump to a conclusion because, “I just call it as I see it!”, remember the Ebbinghaus Illusion.

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

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!

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?

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.