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Category Archives: Proverbs

Proverbs 27:1

Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.
Proverbs 27:1

Dear God, yesterday, I was talking about pain. I think one thing pain does, if I allow myself to truly experience it and don’t just live in denial, is keep us humble. The older I get, the less I brag about, although I’ve known plenty of older people who are foolish. But, in general, those who have had some tough life experiences tend to dial back the cockiness. And that also makes me, hopefully, more useful by you in the lives of others as they go through trials of their own.

As I sit here now, I wonder if there are areas of my life where I am still too braggadocious. Frankly, if I were to say there isn’t then that in and of itself would feel braggadocious. I would say that one thing I was convicted of this weekend is that I haven’t fasted in a while. I’ve been very comfortable in some of my circumstances and I haven’t necessarily pursued you with all of my heart, mind and strength. Perhaps that alone is an example of being too confident in tomorrow.

Father, I need you. I realize I need you. I need you in my mind, heart, body and soul. I need you to heal me from my sin. I need you to help me be who you need me to be in my relationships. I need you forgive me for my hubris and selfishness. I need you to help me forgive myself. I need you today, in this moment. I’ll need you tomorrow too, but that’s a lifetime from now. Right now, I’m just thinking about right now. I need you right now.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2021 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 23:26-28

O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways. A prostitute is a dangerous trap; a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well. She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful.
Proverbs 23:26-28

Dear God, I have to say that when I read this I thought, “I’m sorry, Solomon, but what?!?” This is interesting advice from a man who ultimately had hundreds of wives and concubines. What exactly did “faithful” mean to him?

Setting his hypocrisy aside, I have two thoughts about this. First, of course faithfulness in a marriage is of the utmost importance. Second, a more “woke” version way of looking at this is to wonder why the promiscuous woman is singled out as a temptation and not the promiscuous man. It’s a version of sexism we are only recently waking up to. Men behave badly, betray their wives, etc. and the woman is blamed for being the temptress. Yes, she shares in the blame. I’ve known women who knowingly had affairs with married men, and the women have some culpability. But it’s the man’s choice. For me, I choose if I let it start by allowing myself to see media that arouses sexual or non-sexual discontent in my marriage. Then if I start to entertain those thoughts the path can lead to some level of unfaithfulness to my wife. So Solomon is not wrong in his advice. He is just not complete in it. That prostitute to whom he refers has a story that led her down that road. In modern times, that porn star or even the woman willing to be promiscuous and make poor decisions usually has some damage from her past. She’s a person and not just a thing.

Father, help me to keep myself pure. Help me to guard against…well, to put it like Jesus put it, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2021 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 1:10-19

My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent! Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take. Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.” My child, don’t go along with them! Stay far away from their paths. They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder. If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.
Proverbs 1:10-19

Dear God, I was reading in Proverbs the other day (I think it was chapter 15, and I did a prayer journal on it), and I started wondering what patterns I might be able to see if I were to take each verse in a chapter, put it into a category and then reorganize the verses into their categories. Would there be any value to seeing all of the “like” verses put together in sequence? Would there be any new understandings revealed to me?

I sat down this morning with chapter 1, and I found it wasn’t like some of the other chapters. It is actually a little more thematic and a little less “fortune cookie-ish.” It talked about pursuing wisdom, heeding parents’ instruction, avoiding bad influences, and shunning the foolishness of being willful and stubborn. It made me think of a sermon I listened to this morning from Andy Stanley. He talked about following you instead of just believing in you. He talked about being with people who draw us deeper into our walk with you–who do not draw us away from following you.

In Proverbs 1:10-19, Solomon gives an extreme example of sinners enticing believers, but I think the same is true even if the enticement isn’t quite as extreme as the murder plot Solomon describes. If I believe that the life I am supposed to live is a life full of humility before my creator and extending that same mercy to others, then how can I survive being influenced by people who believe that they are their own gods and their own will is what life is about? How will that work in friendship? How will that work in a romantic relationship? How will that work in any area of life. While we need to be in the world and have relationships that challenge us and allow us to challenge them, we have to be careful to make our core support those who are like-minded.

Father, I don’t know if I’ll do anything with this Proverbs project or not. I still need to finish my “Mothers of the Bible” and “Fathers of the Bible” projects. And I feel like those are important. But maybe if I spend some time in Proverbs as well, I can be reminded of the third dimension of our lives that is found in the wisdom you admonish us to pursue.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2021 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 15:1

Dear God, I wonder if anyone ever built a fortune cookie company out of Proverbs. Each of them are seemingly isolated. I don’t know who broke them into chapters (was it the King James translators?), but they would seem just about impossible to organize. I guess one project that would be interesting would be to write each on down on a spreadsheet, build categories, and then sort them by category to see if I can find any unique patterns in the ones from similar categories. For example, this one would fit into a category I could call conflict. What could I learn by reading other proverbs on conflict by reading them together?

That being said, for this morning’s purposes, I hope I lived up to this wisdom recent with some people with whom I’ve disagreed. At the same time, there were issues that needed to be addressed. Silence wasn’t an option. Ironically, no matter how gentle I tried to be, I still don’t think my words were heard in the spirit in which I meant them. In one case in particular, the listener pretty much only heard things through the filter they brought into the conversation. As long as I had a particular stance, they were not going to hear anything else, regardless of how I said it.

Father, I don’t know what else to do by your figure out how to somehow lovingly press on, even though the road can be lonely. There are simply some things and some relationships that are outside of my ability to maintain on my own. Help me to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2021 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 31:10,27-28

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?…She is more precious than rubies. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
Proverbs 31:10,27-28

Dear God, these were the verses of the day from Bible Gateway, and I want to spend a little time with them because my wife really deserves to be honored through them.

The first thing I would say is I think she would deny that they apply to her. Her humility doesn’t allow her to see what she has done that is good. She blames herself for everything wrong and shuns credit for anything good. But the opposite is true. She has labored hard for her children. She gave everything she had while they lived at home, holding nothing back. She helped give them a work ethic by insisting they not be lazy, but simply work—either around the house or getting jobs outside of it.

Her children haven’t always praised her, but I think that is more on all children, including me as a child of my own mother, and not her. However, as they get older I think they can start to get some perspective and realize what they have in her. She has a unique wisdom about her that I’ve never come across in anyone before. I trust her opinion ore than anyone else’s. She’s not always right, but even if we disagree on something she challenges me in a way that hones my own thinking down.

Father, I pray for her, that she will feel your smile on her. I pray that she will feel your love, appreciation and approval. Give her joy and peace. Give her all of the fruits of your Spirit. She is so faithful to you. Please reward that faithfulness. And for our daughter and our son’s significant other, I pray that they will grow into this unique woman as well. They are young. The have obstacles to overcome. Use those obstacles for your glory. For your glory, oh Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2021 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 1:8-9

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9

Dear God, it’s interesting that the first piece of advice from Solomon is to listen to your parents’ instruction. There are some caveats to this advice, I’m sure, but in general the idea is to listen to someone who has been there.

I think about teens and all of the things they want to do and do. Partying. Sex. Sneaking out. Not all teens, mind you, but a lot. And parents don’t want them to do these things. Why? The parents wanted to sneak out when they were kids. Why don’t they want their kids to do it. The parents wanted to have sex when they were young. Why do they want their kids to wait as long as possible? The parents wanted to go out drinking with friends. Why don’t they want their kids to do it? Why do they want their kids to work hard in school? Get good grades? Make the most of their opportunities? A lot of them didn’t when they were kids. It’s because they now know something that the young ones don’t know. In fact, they know a lot of things the young ones don’t know. There is danger in sneaking out and partying with your friends. You limit your life’s trajectory when you don’t work hard and make the most of your opportunities. And there are emotional and even physical ramifications if you have/treatsex casually. And Solomon tells that young person, “Listen to them. They have been where you haven.” My grandmother used to say that you cannot put an old head on young shoulders. That’s true, but a young head that heeds the council of an old head can find itself in a much better position than if it follows its youthful foolishness.

Father, even as a 50-year-old, I still have a lot to learn. I have initiated a coaching/mentoring relationship with an older man who is retired and I’m hoping can give me some of counsel from his experience. I’m hoping you can teach me through him, through the board of directors where I work, through friends, and, yes, through my parents, both of whom I’m fortunate enough to still have. So give me ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart humble and soft enough to absorb the guidance you want to give me through them.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2020 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 19:20

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Proverbs 19:20

Dear God, I think I probably should pick at least one day a week to do a Proverb. Just little nuggets of wisdom as reminders. This one is the verse of the day from Bible Gateway, and it goes along with the self-evaluation I filled out for our board president yesterday.

As the director of a nonprofit, I have a choice to make when it comes to interacting with our board. I can be defensive, insecure, lazy, and prideful by hiding my self-perceived deficiencies from them. That’s one way to go, but the only person that possibly benefits is me (and I say possibly because if I choose to cover anything up, no matter how trivial I might think it is, it’s always the coverup that gets you). But if I am transparent about my weaknesses or failings, if I am forthcoming about things that went wrong, then we can correct or improve those things about me or our operation and benefit the staff, our clients, our community, and even me. And the irony is that transparency breeds trust and respect so it actually does me more good in the long run and I can be at peace because I don’t feel like I am hiding anything.

Father, I am writing this over two days, but the same is true today as I complete this prayer journal entry as it was yesterday when I started it. I need to submit not only to you and to the authorities in my life (government, board of directors, spouse), but I need to serve and be accountable to everyone around me. The more transparent I am, the more you will be able to touch others through me. And the more transparent I am the more I will be forced into growing on the inside the way I tell people I am growing. If I don’t give them a facade to view, but instead show them what it really going on in me then that accountability will be good for me. So help me to get over myself, my pride, my agenda, and my selfishness and worry more about your glory and how you might use me to bring your kingdom and yours will into the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2020 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 27:1-2

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:1-2

Dear God, sorry to make this so trivial, but when I read this I thought about college football. Last week, Mike Leach at Mississippi State, was pretty haughty about having just beaten LSU. He was arrogant and cocky during his postgame press conference, mocking the other team a little. Well, one week later, they lost to what is perceived to be one of the worst two teams in the SEC, Arkansas. I haven’t seen his postgame comments from yesterday, but something tells me they were a little different than last week.

Just boasting in general is such a bad look. The irony is that, while it makes us feel good to make sure people are looking at something good that we did or happened to us, it is pretty transparent to the other person how insecure we are. We actually end up accomplishing the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.

I’ll confess that I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I might be a little better about it now than I used to be (is hat boasting?), but it’s only because I have come to see what my boasting looks like to others and sometimes that stops me from doing it. I’ve told you many times that I my secret biggest desire is that people be impressed by me. Ironically, the thing that always impresses people as much as, if not more than, anything else is humility.

Father, whenever I boast, whenever I try to impress others, I am increasing at your expense. I am so sorry. Everything about my life should be for you, about you, and because of you. I give you my life (including my ego) and will be the one to testify on your behalf of how great, awesome, and wonderful, you are.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2020 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Dear God, the interesting thing about Proverbs is that the verses within the chapters seem to be so disjointed. It’s almost like dividing the book into chapters does it a disservice. I wonder if would be better as just one long chapter with different verse numbers. For example, the verse above is verse 25. Verse 26 says, “Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.” Then verse 27 says, “The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.” Frankly, I would love to have sunk my teeth into verse 27 this morning because there are plenty of dishonest people about whom I would like to tell you how much I detest them, but 1.) the verse of the day for Bible Gateway is verse 25 and 2.) I should probably be more worried about myself being detestable than worrying about those I detest (see Disney Princess Theology).

So lets talk about fear of many proving to be a snare. It’s just the truth. So in what ways to I fear man?

  • I am afraid of people not liking me
  • I am afraid of people not donating to our nonprofit
  • I am afraid of what the powers and principalities of this world can do to me and others in the world
  • I am afraid of rejection by those I love

And those are just the things that I fear from other people. That doesn’t count all of the other fears in my life. But those things–the fear of those things–can lead me to made bad decisions. They can lead me to be a “pleaser” (which I am). They can lead me to compromise my values sometimes (which I do). They can lead me to talk harshly about others (which I love to do). All of these things are wrapped up together.

I wish I were the type of person who really just floated above all of the cares of this world and rose above them all. I’ve known probably one person I would put in that category. He had such a childlike attitude and faith. Your love poured out of him to everyone he met. With some of the conflicts in my life right now, I wonder how those relationships would be different if I were the personification of his relationship with you instead of mine.

Father, I know I still have so much to learn. I have so much growing to do. I’m feeling very repentant  this morning. Help me to be a man of mercy. Help me to not be defensive, but to be completely filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2020 in Proverbs

 

Proverbs 22:6

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Proverbs 22:6

Dear God, this reminds me of the line in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie when Elizabeth Swan keeps talking about the pirate code and Captain Barbosa eventually says that it’s really more of a “guideline.” That’s how I feel about this passage. It’s really more of a guideline than a rule. I suppose most of the proverbs are.

One really only had to look at biblical characters (including the author of this proverb) to see that this is a nice thought, but not a hard and fast rule. Starting with Cain and then moving throughout history, the Bible is full of stories where people tried to do the right thing by their children, but the children did not walk with you (I’m looking at you, Parents of Samson). Things happen. Life happens. Free will happens. What I’m left with is hoping that the work I did as a parent (and it was far from perfect) established some sort of a tether between my children and me so that if they wander from the path they will at least know that they are never not loved.

Father, I took this verse much more seriously 20 years ago, when my children were one and four years old. Now I have let go of it and I look to other verses about dying to myself and living by faith and not by sight to guide me. Of course we should do our best to raise up our children in the way they should go. That’s part of the deal. But this verse isn’t your promise. I’ve decided it’s just a guideline. I hope that’s not heretical to say, but it’s the best I know to say given my life experience. Guide me in who you need me to be for my two adult children today.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2020 in Proverbs