Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"I Pity the Fool!" - Proverbs 13:20

Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
- Proverbs 13:20
I have a guess about why the companion of fools suffers harm.  GENERALLY SPEAKING, THOSE WHO HAVE FOOLS AS COMPANIONS ARE FOOLS THEMSELVES!                                         I mean, think about it. We spend an awful lot of time in the church and as parents talking to our kids and preaching to them about the importance of picking friends wisely. And we should. Proverbs is full to the brim (not to mention the rest of the Bible!) of that instruction through both statements and examples. But why is it that it never occurs to us that if someone- even our kids!- continually chooses to surround themselves with fools...there is a good chance that the "foolish crowd" is the place they feel most comfortable because it's where they belong! So why the instruction from the wisest man that ever lived?

I can't help but think about how foolishly Solomon neglected his own wisdom by having 1,000 foolish idol-worshipping women around him the way he did! Just think about all the harm that came to him because of these relationships! I don't know when he wrote this or other similar proverbs. Maybe it was at the end of his life when he had found the error of his ways. Or maybe he, like us, knew the truth of the statement he was making but failed to live it. Do we talk to our kids about the power of their companions, but then cozy up to the TV for a good couple of hours a night. Wanna know the biggest difference between real live companions and the characters we choose on TV and in movies? We might actually have a small impact on the fools we live with;


Here's the point. This proverb doesn't begin with telling us to not hang out with foolish people. It simply states that hanging out with fools will endanger us. It's a fact, not a "thou shalt not." What difference does that make? What if instead of focusing so much with ourselves or with our children about who not to hang out with, we spent more time actually teaching wisdom? What if we believed the principle we preach so much that we actually pursue relationships with people who are beyond us in some area? Need to be wiser at disciplining? Find a parent who has been through it and done well and start eating breakfast with them...and maybe even let the reason for your breakfast date slip to your kids. Not a good student of the word? Pick someone who is and make a point to engage them in conversation. I guarantee that if you hang out with them long enough they will begin lighting a fire in you to know God and know His word. Model for your kids the way to become more wise...by spending more time with wise people.

If all they ever hear from us is "your friends are going to pull you down" then we have completely failed to show them the path to growing...and going...up. Do we harp on "bad company corrupts good morals" but never actually teach them good morals? When they get into trouble, do we throw up our hands and shout that they should have known better? Really? Who has taught them the actual "better" that they should have known? If you are assuming they've gotten it in Bible class, through sermons, or through school...well then, maybe they did and maybe they didn't. But it's not fair to hold them accountable for something unless you actually are sure they should have known it because you are the one that has taught and modeled the principle for them.

None of us want our sons and daughters to be fools...or even companions of fools. What are we doing to live the first half of the proverb in order to avoid the second? Is fellowship with other believers (the wise) a priority for your family or simply an option if there is enough energy after the priorities of homework, sports, work, and play? Is the source of wisdom, God's word, an actual source for your family or just a textbook to be used in classes and sermons? Do we spend more time listening to the foolishness of mind-numbing TV than we do to the life-giving words of God? Have we worked long hours to provide them with the most powerful technology the world has ever seen only to leave them to their own devises to figure out how to use them? They have the world at their fingertips...literally. That can be a damning thing for them or a saving thing for the world...literally. Have they been taught the difference?

I wonder how often we have quoted proverbs about fools with a condescending look on our faces while God looks down on us saying, "I pity the fool."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Arghhh! She calls me "Dosh!"

Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.

- Proverbs 12:16
Recognize this face? I do. I feel like I've worn it constantly for the past couple of days at home. Let me explain. I'm a fool. That's all there is to it. I've taught teens and adults alike about the importance of not giving someone the power to "make you mad." But I have recently found something that gets under my skin just about worse than almost anything I've faced up till now. I'm only telling you this because it is in type and you can't laugh directly at me, so please be gentle when you actually do see me and I'll spill the reason for my face looking similar to the picture.
Sophie has learned something new. Everytime she disagrees with me or refuses to do something that I am asking her to do, she decides to change my name. Instead of saying "daddy" while arguing and refusing to obey, she has stared saying "Dosh" which is her version of my name . Now this wouldn't bother me quite so badly if she also called me "Dosh" at other times. She doesn't. It is only when she is being defiant that she- as a 2 yr old!- refers to me in a rather condescending and beliggerant way as "Dosh." It may sound like a silly thing, but my blood boils. It's not so much the word as the specific reason she does it...she does it because she has seen me act like a fool.
Unfortunately, when it first began, I let her know very clearly that "Dosh" was not my name for her. She was to call me "daddy." When she did it again, I let her know that I did not like for her to call me that at all...and I'm pretty sure I let my frustration show...which was very foolish. Because now, AS A 2-YR OLD, she has a weapon that she knows she can use if she wants to get under my skin.

Here's the point. If a 2-yr old can recognize and utilize (and for those of you who think I'm making this up or exagerating, ask my wife!) something that I have shown annoys me, how much more capable of wrecking my emotions is someone that is emotionally, mentally, and socially equal to me and has a real reason to want to manipulate me other than simply not wanting to go to sleep!

Whether you believe the Bible is God's words for living or not, you cannot argue with the wisdom of this proverb. People who give full vent to their anger and carry their emotions and annoyances on their sleeves for all to see leave themselves in a position to constantly look like a fool because all the world knows exactly how to get to them. And the world, as you well know, is probably not as loving as my sweet little Sophie! I am working now to completely ignore it when she calls me "Dosh." But the damage is already done. It is going to take a while for her to unlearn that little trick of defiance. And what I'm more ashamed of is that she has already learned that her daddy is a fool that didn't control his annoyances. I am confident, though, that God will continue to work on me to make me more prudent, to enable me to not show my frustrations quite so quickly, and to give me the peace to hear an intended insult and overlook it. And I am confident that she will grow knowing the difference between her imperfect dad that loves her tremendously even while loving her imperfectly, and her perfect Abba who both knows how to, and actually does love her the way a dad should.
May we all seek this week to be the "prudent" people that we are called to be because we are no longer slaves to our emotions and pride; we have been called to be slaves to righteousness. And the righteousness that comes from God is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). In a word, God's wisdom is love. Maybe our growth this week simply needs to be a focus on slowing down enough when we feel our cheeks redden to remember God's love and then respond in light of that love knowing that whatever someone else (child, co-worker, friend, enemy) may have meant, it does not change who I am in Christ.

Questions for discussion:

  • What "tricks" or methods have you found to help you control your emotions?
  • When is the right time to display your anger visibly as opposed to the wrong time?
  • If anger is from God, then it is a good thing. What is the Godly purpose of anger and how can we as Christians use it in a Godly way as opposed to the destructive self-serving way that we usually do?
Post your comments or answer(s) to one or more of these questions by clicking the comment button below to encourage others in their walk and further the discussion.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pig Jewelry and Silly Women- Proverbs 11:22

Occasionally I come to a verse in my pre-determined list of VOW suggestions from people that my first inclination is to skip over it. Today was one of those days for a couple of reasons: 1. I feel like this one narrows my reading audience by about half as far as application goes. 2. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna rile a few feathers as a guy talking about a comparison of beautiful women to pigs with bling.

On the other hand, I've thought several times that maybe girls would hear modesty talks (FYI- that's not all this verse is talking about, but I'm sure it's included) with more open ears if they heard it from the perspective of a guy who is typically both the reason for and thevictim of immodesty at the same time. So...here we go. And guys, keep reading anyway, because when it comes down to it, this applies to you to.

First of all, why in the world put a ring in a pig's nose? Because I am pretty ignorant in the ways of pig farming, I had to look that one up. You may already know, but I'll share what I've learned from the scholarly source of Wikipedia:) anyway.

Pigs dig or "root" with their snouts, and such digging may be undesirable in some circumstances. Nose rings make digging uncomfortable for the animal, although a rung pig is still able to forage freely through leaf litter and surface vegetation. Pig ringing may sometimes be required by local regulations, as when pigs are turned out for pannage in public woods

So there we have it. It's not that there is absolutely no reason to put a ring in a pig's snout; it's that
What a colossal waste of something so precious! Wikipedia goes on to say that usually copper rings are used and I assume in Solomon's day they also used some similar metal that did not have much value other than its usefulness for mingling with pig snot!
What's the point?
Girls and women who show a lack of discretion in their words, their extravagances, their wardrobe and how it affects men, their civility toward other girls and their civility toward guys...Girls and women who show a lack of restraint in their advances toward the opposite sex, who play the "ditsy girl" card to get attention from boys even if it is negative attention, girls who do not make good choices in who they become emotionally intimate (I'm not even talking about differing levels of physical intimacy, but that is a conversation in and of itself!) with in dating relationships....
Ladies you have so much to offer to each other because of your God-given abilities to think before you act (unlike boys), to have uncanny abilities to sniff out impostors with your "woman's intuition" (unlike boys), to show compassion and gentleness (unlike boys before Christ!), and so many other things that only you can do! Please don't waste all of those beautiful things and shove them into the pig's snout of crude talk, impulsive shopping, clothing that is designed to make boys drool, and "dumbing down" your intellect for attention!
Lest I spend all of my time on the ladies, gentlemen, here is where you come into this proverb. Stop asking the ladies in your life to do this by letting Satan distract you by counterfeit "prettiness" and start showing appreciation for the real and lasting beauty of a true woman of God. We all know the type of woman we want to marry. What makes us think she is still going to be around if we give our attention today to the girls that are simply fun to be amused with by their looks or "dumbed down" flattery and flirtations that they give in exchange for companionship and security? Girls I hope you hear this loud and clear: if you do win over the man of your dreams by pretending to be someone you are not or by flaunting beauty that is supposed to be saved for your husband whether that means parading it simply through visibility or through physicality, ONE OR BOTH OF YOU ARE GOING TO BE MISERABLE IN YOUR MARRIAGE! You will have to keep pretending to be someon you are not. Or he will have to find out that he did not marry a wild child like he thought he was and will therefore be tempted to look elsewhere. Guys, hear this loud and clear: if you keep looking for and at girls today based solely on the physical pleasure that they can bring your, YOU WILL BE MISERABLE YOUR WHOLE LIFE! because you will train your taste buds to only be satisfied by food that brings absolutely no nourishment to your soul.
Parents, what are you actively doing to instill in your daughter a true sense of self-worth and understanding of who they are in God's eyes? That knowledge will allow them to realize the absurdity of sticking their gold in a pig's snout. Wouldn't you rather have fewer fights about what they can and can't wear and more conversations about how beautiful they are and ways to let their true beauty shine for all the world to see?
What are you actively doing to help your son see the real beauty of a lady as opposed to the cheap imitation of beauty that Satan parades in front of us so often? If they are exposed to the counterfeit too often, it will be harder and harder for them to distinguish and appreciate the real thing when they finally do see it. Wouldn't it be easier to fight the battle of limiting Internet access and denying smart phones to your son today than to see their marriages fall apart years down the road due to a pornography addiction that began in middle school or before?

We need to stop overlooking gold in pig noses simply because we've gotten used to seeing that strange phenomenon. I don't care how many pig's have gold in their noses. It's dumb. And a woman who lacks discretion is just as silly as shoving 14kt gold into the nose of an animal that is smelly, dirty, and really only good for two things: garbage disposal and bacon.

Click the comment button below to start the conversation:
  • What are some ways you've been helped in the past to realize the truth and value in this proverb?
  • What are some practical ways we can help our children learn the value of this proverb?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

To Fear or To Desire...That is the Question- Proverbs 10:24

Why do people choose wickedness over righteousness? When I say "people" I hope you understand that I am including myself in that category. Why do we do it? The people of the Old Testament were warned continually that if they continued to choose wickedness God would destroy them as a people. The New Testament goes so far as to say that if the people of old were not spared, then "how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3) They had the Law and the Prophets; we have the One the Law and the Prophets pointed to...Jesus the Christ! Therefore, God's revelation to us has been even greater than it was to them! Why do we continue to choose wickedness!? If we believe this stuff is real, then it makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever for us to ever choose sin over righteousness again for the rest of lives!
And yet we do.
Add to those warnings the warning that even our secular scientists and clinicians offer about substance abuse, divorce, lying, and any number of "moral" issues and the question becomes painfully louder even for those who do not believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.

I would sound utterly prideful to say that I've figured it out. So I won't say that. But I will say that I believe God has spoken that answer through the writer of the book of Hebrews. And while I am all too often still choosing wrong over right in spite of the overwhelming reasons for choosing righteousness, I think I am on a path toward letting God slowly root out that slavery that holds me captive to choosing wrong.

"Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."

- Hebrews 2:14-15

Our proverb for today says that the wicked will be overtaken by the very thing that they dread. I am sure that this can apply in more specific ways than I am applying it today, but what does anyone fear more than death!? Yes I know someone might say that people fear losing relationships more than death. They might fear losing honor more than death. They might fear plenty of things more than death...directly. But that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the fact that if the time that we have here on this earth is all that we have and when we die, that's it!, then every one of us has to hold on for dear life to anything that brings us pleasure! Every one of us needs to actively pursue as much pleasure as physically possible before we die because we only get one shot to squeeze every ounce out of life before death finally steals all sources of joy from us! Who cares who gets in my way or what I have to do to achieve what I want to achieve. You take care of yourself, and I'll take care of myself. With that mentality,
I am a slave to my selfish passions---i.e. a slave to sin.
But the Hebrews writer joyfully tells us that Jesus lived a life like ours that was bound by the time limits of flesh and blood...AND HE BEAT DEATH! When he rose from the dead, Satan lost all power to keep people enslaved to selfishness because no longer can he keep people under the impression that this life is all there is.

Why do we we choose wickedness? Because we are ultimately afraid of death. And the catch 22 is that no matter how much we try to really "live" and avoid death, "what we dread will overtake us."

But aren't you glad that proverbs tend to have a second contrasting line in them.

"What the righteous desire will be granted."

Do you know what the righteous desire more than anything else? It's not righteousness in and of itself. It's not reward. It's not a good name. It's not even the mansion over the hilltop that we sing about with such gusto.  The righteous simply desire God. In fact scripture teaches us in many places that the righteous are actually made righteous by  God through faith. In other words, their faith in the fact that they will one day see God is what God uses to clean them from the inside out. Go through a checklist of heroes of faith from the Bible and from your life that you know are not simply outwardly righteous and have a wrotten attitude, but who are truly righteous. Ask them what they desire more than anything else. Whatever the words, I feel safe in guaranteeing that the underlying meaning will be similar to Paul's statement, "I want to know Christ."

The choice is simple. We can go through life fearing a loss of reputation to the point that we guard it pridefully and lose it anyway. We can fear losing the love of a spouse or child and work tirelessly to manipulate and control them into loving us back and push them away because of those efforts. We can fear losing friends to the point that we are willing to sacrifice morals and principles in order to maintain those friendships and by that very act lose all relationships that really matter to us. We can fear death and therefore be subjected to slavery...and die anyway.

Or we can desire to know Christ and let life be given to us freely.

To fear or to desire...that is the question.