Wise Guy

bible proverbs wise guy Luis Quintero via unsplash

I’m reading “The Message” by Eugene H. Peterson. Yes, I know, it’s a somewhat controversial book. Some say it makes the Bible easier to understand. Others decry it as too far afield of the translations we’re used to reading. Let’s set those arguments aside and see The Message as, at the very least, the work of a learned man who loved the Lord and wanted his congregation to get into the Word. You can check it out at Biblegateway or YouVersion . Today, though, I’d like to share an edited excerpt of Peterson’s introduction to the book of Proverbs. You won’t find it on either of the sites listed above. I own a kindle copy and read it there.

“Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves… A college degree is no certification of wisdom…Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in

  • honoring parents
  • raising children
  • handling money
  • conducting our sexual lives
  • going to work
  • exercising leadership
  • using words well
  • treating friends kindly
  • eating and drinking healthfully
  • cultivating peace.

Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do. In matters of everyday practicality, nothing, absolutely nothing, takes precedence over God.”

This passage drives home yet again the need to see the Bible as our Manufacturer’s Handbook. Those of us who neglect its wisdom—or kid ourselves into thinking there’s little current wisdom available within its pages—do so at our own peril. On the other hand, by keeping our noses in that Book and applying what we find there, we often discover that smoother sailing can indeed be ours.

I’d like to know your favorite Proverb, or a tale of how following Biblical instruction helped you out in a “worldly” and practical way. Three dear friends have gotten the ball rolling below:

Paul: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

(Perhaps this the proverbial way of saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Or maybe Paul was just messing with me.)

Nadine: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

(This one gives me more peace than any other when I’m faced with a big decision.)

Lorri: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

(Oh, how different the world would be if we all followed that bit of advice!)

And now, how about you? What’s your favorite proverb? Has following it helped?

Photo by Luis Quintero via Unsplash.co

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Movie Week

 

film-1392143__480 movie week pixabay

I have quite the husband. He joined me in watching all three of my favorite movies last month. All three! Even though we own them—and have watched them multiple times—we laughed and loved every minute. Then I got to thinking, why those three?

Well, first of all, here’s my list of winners:

The Family Man (PG-13 2000) earned a separate blog post at this site in 2013 because of my favorite quote, “I choose us.” This Christmas tale follows Jack (played by Nicholas Cage), a Wall Street Executive who gets a chance to glimpse the life that might have been. Bonus: The kids in that movie are almost as cute as my grandchildren.

A Good Year (PG-13 2006) This cinematic beauty introduces us to Max—both as a youngster and as a wildly successful London stock broker. The adult Max (Russell Crowe), having inherited a vineyard in Provence, is forced to remember his past and re-evaluate his present life. The movie isn’t as heavy as the description makes it sound. There’s plenty of humor woven into the message.

The Kid (PG 2000) This one appeals to the sci-fi/fantasy buff in me. Bruce Willis plays a self-absorbed jerk who doesn’t even realize what he’s missing until a mysterious kid shows up and…Well, I can’t really tell you what happens next. You’ll have to see for yourself. Watching Lily Tomlin as his secretary adds to the fun, though. If you haven’t seen it, don’t let anyone talk to you about it. They might spoil the terrific ending.

Why are these three movies my favorites? Perhaps because of their common story threads:

  • Family trumps wealth.
  • Love softens the hardest heart.
  • Relationships are where the real joy begins.
  • Kindness counts and often pays off rather well.

These are “secular” movies, and I’ve listed a few warnings about their ratings below. Still, they reiterate lessons many of us learned in Sunday school:

  • Love one another.
  • Be faithful in marriage.
  • Value family and friends.
  • Practice kindness.
  • Enjoy children.
  • Be careful not to love money.

So, if you’re looking for something to do next time the movie bug bites, consider my favorites. And let me know yours. I’ve got plenty of popcorn waiting, and I’m always looking for a good recommendation! Have a great week.

Photo by kalhh via pixabay.com

I Interrupt These Blog Posts..

texting

My post this week is a departure from the usual sort of material you will find at this site. I want to share an article with you about cell phone usage  and driving. Before you say, “Oh, Brother!” consider this:

·       We are to be responsible stewards of the gifts God gives us.

·       We are to care for our bodies, as they are temples of the Holy Spirit.

·       And we are to love one another, which surely must include looking out for one another’s safety.

With all of that in mind, I’d like to share this information from the March/April 2019 issue of Texas Journey (page 9, to be exact.) These bulleted points are findings by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and I’m sure are not a comprehensive list of the facts. Note, also, that this list doesn’t distinguish between hand-held use and hands-free use, as both pose risk. 

  • Looking at a phone for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • At a speed of 55 miles per hour, a driver texting for only five seconds will travel the length of a football field, driving virtually blind before looking at the road again.
  • Mental distraction can linger for up to 27 seconds after using an electronic device. 
  • Drivers using cell phones [to either talk or text] are up to four times more likely to crash.
  • The safest way to drive is simply not to use the cell phone when driving.

My friends, I hope you will reconsider your need to multitask. Turn on some praise music and focus on the drive. If we all do that, somewhere down the road many lives will be saved.

photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

 

While on a Treadmill…

white-male-1856182_1280On a recent rainy Saturday, I headed to the gym and slipped on my headphones. Sometimes, to distract myself from the boredom of the treadmill (just being honest here!), I watch Netflix. Sometimes, I watch a sermon. I chose a sermon that day and started streaming one by Francis Chan It was a great talk on obedience and sacrifice, delivered in his usual way—disarmingly casual, surprisingly funny and always in-your-face challenging. But on that Saturday, it wasn’t a sermon by Francis Chan that renewed my resolve to trust in our loving lord. It was, of all things, an ad for the movie “Hellboy.”

Since I’m not an aficionado of those movies, I can’t tell you which sequel Hollywood is offering this month. What I can tell you is that, as I began to jog along on a noisy sweat machine, the flat screen TV in the corner of the room caught my eye. There in poster-like fashion, bold against a brightly colored background, was this announcement:

ON APRIL 12, OUR FATE IS IN HIS HANDS.

I had to laugh. I was about to spend 30 minutes listening to what would unquestionably be a fantastic sermon by a well-known pastor, but nothing was going to stick in my mind that day like those few words. Because, of course, on April 12th, and every other day as well, our fate IS in his hands. (I hope you’ve figured out by now that I don’t mean the hands of Hellboy!)

Those words are one of the keys to our walk of faith, the reason we can be at peace no matter what is going on around us. Our fate is in the hands of the Lord who loves us. Not in our hands. Not in the hands of any enemy or even in the hands of a loved one. In HIS hands. Ultimately, at all times, whether we see it or not, our Lord is at the helm. And isn’t that the most wonderful news?

So, on April 12th, and on every day thereafter, I hope you will join me in remembering—perhaps with a bit of a chuckle over the source of these words—

OUR FATE IS IN HIS HANDS!! Care to comment? Just click here.

Photo by pixabay

Sandy

puppies sandy jametiene Reskp via unsplashI want to tell you a story. It’s an old one, but I was astonished to discover that I’ve never shared it here before. Last week a friend asked, “Have you ever had a dog?” and it all came back to me…

Our children were small, and our first dog, Springer, was very old. We’d heard that getting a new dog while the old one was still relatively healthy would be good for old and young alike. So, one sunny Saturday morning, we put a new leash, an old water bowl and two very excited kids into our minivan and headed out for a long drive to the pound. The experience was not what we expected.

  • Disappointment number one: most of the dogs available that day were chow mix, and the ASCPA would not allow any family with children to adopt them.
  • Disappointment number two: the adoption process had changed in the decade and a half since we’d gotten Springer. It required extra paperwork, an evaluation process, and a second trip weeks later to pick up the selected puppy. I understood their reasons, but I can still see Tony, standing there forlorn, with leash in hand, asking, “Do you mean we won’t get to take home a puppy today?”
  • Disappointment number three: the only puppies available were going to grow up to be big dogs, very big dogs. (Somehow, this didn’t seem to bother my husband, but this was not our agreed upon plan.)

As disappointments mounted, my enthusiasm waned. Tony, Elizabeth and I were shown to a small cubicle where we could play with the most likely canine candidate while Steve filled out forms. And then, I kid you not, I got dizzy—like “I think I might pass out” dizzy. Steve had to be called to the cubicle so I could step outside for some air.

I sat out on the curb with my head on my knees. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I prayed that God would intervene. A few minutes later, confident that the risk of passing out was gone, I looked up and saw a most beautiful sight. There in the parking lot, a woman was walking away from her car, carrying a basket of tiny tawny puppies. I stepped into what felt like a God-orchestrated Disney screenplay.

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you about to take those puppies into the pound?”

“What kind are they? How big do you expect them to be?

“Would you mind waiting just a minute?”

“Steve, would you and the children come out here. I’d like to show you something.”

“Would you two kids like to take one of these home with you today, right now?”

“You can reach into the basket and choose the one you want.”

And so, we did. Sandy was perfect—the right size, the right demeanor, just what we needed. She was still with us long after our kids grew up and moved out. She became another living example of God’s grace, of how he cares so very much about even the small “worldly” details of our lives. I’m thankful for Sandy. And I hope her story encouraged you today!

Photo by jametiene Reskp via Unsplash.com

Where’s Our Focus? By Beth Smith

 

where's our focus magnify GraphicMama-team via pixabay

What occupies our thoughts? How much time do we spend looking back on the unpleasant things that have happened to us? We have a choice!

Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NIV). If a person who’s plowing a field keeps looking back instead of looking ahead, he’s sure to plow some awfully crooked rows. If we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, but are forever looking backward into the past, we’re plowing crooked rows too.

When we focus on our pasts, our trials, our troubles and our pain, we often make them bigger and more important than they really are. We magnify them. How do we stop exaggerating our troubles? They’re real, but they don’t need to define us. Here’s how we change. We focus on Christ and his Word. This isn’t easily done, because neither the Devil nor our sinful selves tend to want us to live that way. We have a fight on our hands. But that battle has already been won for us through the sacrifice made by Christ on the cross, and he will help us.

Focusing requires us to concentrate our thoughts and efforts. When we focus on God and his Word, we’re seeking a clear, distinct picture of what God has done for us. We want—we need—to magnify all of the great things God has provided for us. For starters:

  • He loves us.
  • He died that we might live.
  • He has taken our sin and given us his righteousness.

Take a look at Psalm 34:1-3 (AMP). The questions in parenthesis are mine. Keep in mind that when David wrote this passage, King Saul was trying to catch and kill him.

I will bless the Lord (When?) at all times;

His praise will (How often?) continually be in my mouth.

My life makes its boast (In whom?) in the Lord;

Let the humble and the afflicted (Do what?) hear and be glad.

Oh magnify (Who?) the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.”

We can’t let our thanksgiving be based on our feelings (which can change more quickly than the weather) or on our circumstances (which are never dependable). Once we learn to focus on God, there’s always a reason to give thanks. We can begin to look away from the things that bother us or bring us pain and turn instead to eternal things, the truths that will matter forever. So, where should we focus? What shall we magnify? Let me leave you with this verse.

“May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’” (Psalm 70:4 NIV).

Photo by GraphicMama-team via pixabay