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!

 

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.

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!

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!