Friday, May 27, 2011

Don’t Be Stupid

            Sometimes, getting across to children is all about word choice.  Apparently, an effective way to get across to my brothers and me was to be told, “Don’t be stupid!”  This command generally only came when we were going somewhere without our parents.  These were the magic words of instruction given.  We understood from experience what “don’t be stupid” entailed and punishment would be dealt if the words were not heeded. 
            Kids could save themselves much pain if they would listen to the advice of parents.  If you think your parents do not know what they are talking about, at least listen to God’s inspired word.  A close parallel to the “Shema” found in Deuteronomy 6:4ff is Proverbs 6:20-23, My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”  Maybe parents do know what they are talking about!
There are far too many homes being shredded by Satan and his temptations of lust of the flesh.  The wise parents’ advice is “to preserve you from the evil woman…Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes…a married woman hunts down a precious life…can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house (Proverbs 6:24-31).  What a disaster.
Dishonor, disgrace, jealousy, and fury will come upon such adulterous people.  There will be no compensation or accepting gifts to make things right. (Proverbs 6:33–35).  The following translation hits home with my Dad’s instruction, “But if you go to bed with another man’s wife, you will destroy yourself by your own stupidity” (Proverbs 6:32).  In other words, “Don’t be stupid!”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God the Hater

         Possibly Satan’s most valuable deception is getting someone to justify their sin.  If the Devil can make you believe what you are doing is okay, he has won you over.  This is why it is vital for Christians to have constant check-ups on spiritual health.  I hate going to the doctor because it means something is or could be wrong.  Kids have to get seemingly endless shots and adults are poked and prodded like cattle.  Humans do not like to hear that something is “wrong.”  This means that there will have to be change in order to correct the wrong whether it is eating different, taking some sort of pill, or starting/changing an exercise routine.  This may be why we can be hesitant to a spiritual check-up as well; we do not want anything to be wrong and thus have to change our way of life.
         The first step in any healing process is to recognize the wrong.  Consider this in your life, A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing” (Proverbs 6:12–15, ESV).  Does this sound like you?  Do you have a “dirty” mouth in your conversation, try to flatter with your eyelids, plan wicked things against others, or constantly stir the pot among people to start arguments?  If these are qualities that describe you, you are worthless!  The NRSV uses the word “villain.”  A worthless person is useless to God.
         Consider further what God hates.  You have heard it said that “hate” is a strong word.  Pay close attention, There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16–19).  The wise man does not say God hates the person who may practice these evils, but he does hate the lifestyle.  Is God a hater of your way of life?  Make your life righteous and worthwhile, not worthless.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Be a Pest

            There seems to be ant hills all over the place in Florida.  They are certainly not as prevalent in Arkansas, but still present.  You would think it was the end of the world when a child steps in an ant bed, and I should say rightfully so.  Ants can cause some serious pain; just ask my wife who stepped on an ant hill the day before our wedding!  While it can be fun to mow over ant hills or have an ant farm in a glass case, they are a nuisance the rest of the time.  Who would have thought that a childhood foe had so much to teach about wisdom?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleMuch can be learned about labor from the hardworking ant.  Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-9, ESV).  Stephen Covey says being proactive is one of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  This means to be an effective person in this world a person has to get out there and happen to things rather than waiting for things to happen to them.  This is exactly what the ant does.  She gets out and prepares for the winter while the weather is warm in order to survive the cold.
The USA is in an interesting dilemma.  As Joe Wright said in the opening prayer at a session of the Kansas House of Representatives in 1996, “We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.”  What a bold statement.  This is not to say that there are people who do not need financial assistance.  How many of the millions on welfare are simply milking the cow for all it’s worth?  
It is not for me to judge the heart of any person, I’ll leave that between the individual and God.  It is up to each of us to evaluate ourselves on a daily basis.  “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10–11).  A lazy Christian is an oxymoron.  There is no such thing, laziness and Christianity cannot coexist.  So if you are lazy, you better check yourself!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Get Gazelle Intense!

            With the financial state of the union being trillions of dollars in debt and deficit spending has become second nature, a look at what the Bible has to say about debt is beneficial.  The wise man said, “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor” (Proverbs 6:1–3, ESV).  What exactly does “put up security” mean?  The essence of this is co-signing for a loan.  The Contemporary English Version says, “My child, suppose you agree to pay the debt of someone…”  When you agree to pay the debt of someone if they do not pay it themselves, we know that as cosigning.  

The Bible’s wisdom recognizes cosigning as very dangerous for someone to sign-up for.  If you find yourself in this situation, you must save yourself.  If it was safe to cosign for people then there would be no need safety!  So, what do you do if you are a cosigner for a loan?  First of all, if you are not a cosigner currently, do NOT be.  Now, if you are, follow this direction, Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:4–5).  

There is a sense of great urgency to get out of a situation where you have come under your neighbor’s hand.  Dave Ramsey, a renowned financial counselor, tells of a Dicovery Channel illustration of this verse.  As a herd of gazelle was out in a field eating, one of their “cheetah radars” went off and all the gazelles heads popped-up almost like one radar set off all their radars.  They all look around until they see the cheetah so they know which way to run in order to get away from the hungry feline.  Once a gazelle spotted the cheetah, it is almost like it yells, “CHEETAH!”  The whole heard takes off in a full sprint bobbing and weaving.  Dave often likens that cheetah to the opportunity to cosign.  Instead of engaging, run away.  If you are already entangled, get out of it as soon as possible before the cheetah has you for lunch.