Wisdom in choosing friends 0

In case you missed it yesterday… Get wisdom! Again we see that all other good things flow from Wisdom.

“Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.” Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. … When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:8-10, 12 NKJV)

How can we know we are operating in wisdom? Solomon gives a way to tell in the form of observation of the company you keep.

“Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; And their sleep is taken away unless they make  someone  fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence.” (Proverbs 4:14-17 NKJV)

Based on that, here are some questions to ask about your friends and associates.  Are they evil? Do they delight in seeing others fall? Are they restless until they have done evil? Do they enjoy violence?  These questions seem simple to answer for us today, but are they?  Many of us and our friends do not enjoy violence, at least not in the real world, but how about in video games?  What about on television? Doesn’t it feel good to see someone “get what’s coming to them” in a movie.  To see a “justified killing” produces in us a sense of right overcoming wrong, but it’s still violent.

Digital association is a powerful tool, for good and for evil.  What is digital association you ask, it is a connection between things or people via a digital medium or other technology.  Some examples would include CDs or DVDs of a leadership coach, the more you listen or watch them, the more you will think and act like the coach recorded on them.  Conference calls, Skype, chatrooms, all of these given enough time will shape our thoughts and actions to be more like the people producing or participating in them.  Podcasts, television shows, movies, these are all forms of digital association.  Some forms are stronger than others, but all have the power to shape our thoughts and actions given enough time and re-enforcing behavior.

Back to the question at hand, am I living in wisdom?  Take stock of what you are doing with your time and association in the above questions, and you are well on your way to knowing if you are walking with the wise or spending too much time with fools.

Wisdom as the source of honor and more 0

Wisdom leads to honor, riches, long life.

Nothing on earth compares to the power associated with having wisdom.

“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor.” (Proverbs 3:13-16 NKJV)

We are told God’s wisdom and knowledge are so vast that with it He created the earth, established the Heavens, and broke up the waters of the deep.

“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew.” (Proverbs 3:19, 20 NKJV)

For all our human knowledge we still cannot fathom how God did these things. We can explain so much, but with all the knowledge we gain, more questions come. Many of our scientific pursuits were birthed out of wanting to know how God put everything together and how it works. Seeking this out is a great way to honor God, by acknowledging His wisdom is greater than ours, and humbly seeking to learn what he already knows and has done.

Why is that humble nature needed? When we become wise in our own eyes, thinking we have all the answers, thinking we are the source of our wisdom and knowledge, thinking we are bigger in intellect than those before us, we become fools.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. … Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble. The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools.” (Proverbs 3:7, 34, 35 NKJV)


Friendship, Something We Could All Use 0

Friendship is something we could all use more of, especially true friendship.

So, what is true friendship?  You know that friend you can pick up the phone and call anytime, day or night.  That person you know will answer the phone and be there to help.  Someone who sticks by you when everyone else abandons you.  How have people put it? That person who walks into your world when the rest of the world walks out on you.  All of those forms of friendship are described by several of Solomon’s sayings in Proverbs 27.  For example, the friend that is there for you even when your family can’t be:

10b Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.

Proverbs 27:10b ESV

So how can you surround yourself with that kind of friendship?  Well the first part of the same verse gives us a little insight into that.  Start by being a good friend:

10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.

Proverbs 27:10 ESV

Stick with your friends, and your father’s friend.  For some of us that’s pretty tough, especially the second part.  Maybe your father isn’t around, maybe he is, but has made poor choices in friends, or maybe they just simply don’t get along with you at all.  Well, Solomon doesn’t tell us that friendship is easy, just that we should do all we can on our end to not walk away from friends.  And maybe there is another way to look at this, maybe for you, getting started with someone that has been like a spiritual father to you would help you learn how to become a better friend to your actual father’s friends.

Solomon also indicates that friendship isn’t always rosy.  Sometimes friends hurt us, deeply.  But he reminds us that it’s better to have friends that hurt us than to have enemies that appear to bless you:

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
And in the end, isn’t having a friend that is willing to ask you the tough questions and give you the tough answers the kind of friend you want to journey through life with?  That kind of friend makes life so much sweeter:
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Foolishness, Something We All Should Avoid 0

Fools, how to avoid them, and how to tell if you have some fool in you.

Today’s chapter covers foolishness, foolish behavior, and general traits of a fool in quite a bit of depth.  Here’s a summary of the things fools do, in case you were wondering if you fall into Solomon’s definition of a fool.

  • Ill fitting of honor
  • Unworthy of delivering messages
  • Useless like a lame man’s legs
  • Unable to understand proverbs
  • A danger to hire
  • Repeating the same mistakes over and over again

Sometimes I have felt like these things, other times I have actually done some of these things.  Do people in your life come to mind when you read that list?  If it’s someone other than you first, you should probably re-read verse 12:

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Be sure you are not being wise in your own eyes before you start pointing fingers or listing off foolishness of others in your life.  It’s also great to get someone in your life that can play the part of identifying your foolishness for you and agreeing to work to remove it from your life.  So much freedom comes with such accountability.  Once you have someone doing this for you, you can start being this for others.  The action in verse 5 should only be take if you are already a recipient of that action in your life:
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
The real trick with foolishness is that we can stumble into it in many areas in our lives.  Be it in our finances, friendships, daily routines and habits, our diet, our exercise or lack thereof, our occupation, foolishness creeps in easily as we let our guard down, as we take our focus off the things that matter; and most easily when we are not willingly allowing ourselves to be held accountable for how we behave in any area of our lives.
So, my encouragement to you, today start the process of finding people whom you can trust to hold you accountable in one or more areas of your life.  You may not see the benefits today, or tomorrow, but over time, you will see yourself transforming into someone that is fitting of honor, worthy of delivering messages, useful to others, more understanding of proverbs, desirable to hire, and most importantly someone that learns from their mistakes.

Humility as Defined by Solomon’s Sayings 0

Solomon’s sayings have a refreshing definition of humility.

Today the summary of Solomon’s sayings point overwhelmingly toward one virtue, humility.  From the early portion of the chapter:

6 Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Part of this thinking just seems to be commonsense pragmatism, something that tends to be missing in our world today.  We are so often focused on letting others know what we are doing, who we are, why they should be thinking of us, how they should look at us, etc.  This perspective instead places the importance of others first, and allows for recognition that is genuine, and comes from a place higher than ourselves.  Of course in most of our democratic societies today, we don’t have a king, but we do have forms of kings in our lives.  Be it your parent, employer, pastor, teacher, or manager, we all have someone in authority over us on a regular basis.  Next time you are in the presence of one of those “kings” in your life, think about their needs, their position first, and ask yourself if what you are about to do or say places them first, or you first.  Solomon gives a sharp warning about putting yourself first before your king:
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.
He also indicates that it may take time before you are recognized, patience and humility tend to walk hand in hand.  Today, humility may be the first piece you need to add to your character if you want to eventually have a place in influencing the “kings” of your life.

We are Called to Take Action 0

Wisdom demands that we take action

One of the core items that struck me with today’s reading is the need for us to take action.  There are several verses that would indicate we need to take action.  From seeking wise guidance to getting your work ready or preparing for your work in the fields before you build your house, we are to be doers.  Another core idea is getting and using wisdom.  You will also notice that the doing is not to be without planning, guidance, and wisdom.  Wisdom provides hope for the future, it tastes sweet like honey for those who find it.  Wisdom also provides the guidance needed to wage any war and find victory.  We all have our wars, including the wars against procrastination, addiction, laziness, complacency.  Wisdom can provide us with motivation to get going and start doing.  And the real test of doing comes in verses 11 and 12.  We are called to not just see things happen, but to step in where we can and help.  The ESV puts it this way:

11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

This reminds me that someone is always watching, if not man, then for sure God sees all we do and don’t do, including our heart’s motivations.  Accountability hurts so good, it lets me know my good deeds and motivations are seen and recognized, and on the other side, it reminds me that I need to allow God’s light to shine into the dark areas of my heart.  It also reminds me there are several things I need to take action on today.  Catch you tomorrow.

Quotable snippets 0

This chapter has so many quotable snippets. From verse 6 being used all over children’s ministry to financial ministries pounding verses 7 & 26 into your head. The real themes in the chapter are patience, humility, honesty, and coachability. All in all, there are so many applicable take aways for this chapter, but my biggest of the day has been learn to be more open to hearing the wisdom of the wise, and let them coach you.

Proverb Power Launches 0

After holding on to the domain name for several years, I finally got around to spinning up a site.  This site will be a creative playground for new web technologies, and will center around reading from the book of proverbs on a daily basis.  For now I’ll probably post some morning thoughts/reflections on the day’s reading.  From time to time, I may link out other sources of good study tools or background information on the day’s reading.  And by day’s reading I mean the chapter that matches the day on the calendar – example, today is June 21st, 2013, thus the reading comes from proverbs 21.