Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Order in Your Life

"When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order" (Proverbs 28:2).

We certainly have a rebellious country with many people trying to be the top dog in whatever territory of their personal world they can amass. This leads to disorder and even chaos in lives, relationships, families, communities and countries. The challenge for us is not how we are leading a particular arena of political real estate, but how are we doing managing our own lives and leading our families. This proverb says, "a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order". It is very easy for us to let things just happen, or to rely on our wives or someone else to maintain order. When our lives and homes lack order, structure, discipline, leadership, it creates a vacuum that is quickly filled with negative and non-essential would-be rulers. These rulers may include people or even inanimate objects that fill our lives, our time, consume us, and ultimately control and lead us down a dangerous and destructive path.

For some the master in our lives becomes our kids and their selfish wants or rebellious cries for control of their world. Others succumb to the inertia of the path of least resistance. It's much easier to sleep in than to discipline ourselves to wake early for a time with God. The TV becomes a mindless escape from reality and responsibility.

There are many signs of a life out of control or under the influence of another rulership. Clutter, missed appointments, angry flare ups, tension in relationships, financial debt and irresponsibility, escapism, workaholism, laziness, burn out, apathy, dullness in your marriage, lustful thoughts, immoral behavior, a routine spiritual life, are just a few out of control attitudes and actions.

The bottom line, men, is that we need to take charge of our lives. True leadership begins with managing ourselves. Seek after the knowledge and understanding that is required to get order and discipline in your life. Don't allow your life and family to become a rogue, rebellious nation. Submit to the Lord. Follow His path and you will experience the rewards of the wise man.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Heart Reflection

"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man" (Proverbs 27:19).

Did you look in the mirror today? Of course you did. You want to look your best. What were you looking for? Dirt, wrinkles, blemishes, age spots, things out of place? The reflection in the mirror gives you a fairly accurate perspective of reality. It lets you know what has been neglected, what has changed and what needs your attention.

Our heart, like a reflection, reveals the true me. Just as you look in the mirror each day for an accurate reflection, so to should we take an honest look at our heart. We are looking for blemishes, dirt, anything out of place, in other words, we are looking for sinful attitudes, false thinking. Is your heart wrinkled with age because you haven't allowed new truth, the life giving Word, to penetrate, change and renew? Have you applied the cleansing soap of confession and repentance?

Are the eyes of your heart dim, droopy, or closed? Have you lost your joy, your spark for life, for people, for the Lord? Is your heart weighed down with anxiety, fear, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, frustration, hurt, disappointment? It's time to identify and remove these obstructions, these calluses, these blinders from your heart. Cast them on the Lord. He cares for you. Pray, praise and give thanks.

Are there cuts, wounds, bruises? Apply the healing ointment of friendship, counsel, the encouragement of the Word and the presence of the Lord. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double minded.

When you look at your heart is it looking back, or is it looking in the wrong direction? Is it avoiding, shamed, anxiously looking into the future or closed off from painful past experiences? It's time to take a prolonged look into the eyes of your heart. What kind of man do you see? Do you see a wise man, a righteous man, a faithful man, a man that fears the Lord? The next time you look in the mirror, don't just look at the outward appearance, look at the reflection of your heart. It reveals the man you truly are.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Flame Throwing Morsal

Proverbs 26:20, 22

Gossip is a flame throwing morsal. It is the fuel that keeps a quarrel burning (20). Gossip is like a choice delicacy (22). It is relished and eagerly devoured. It stimulates the desire for more.

Gossip exposes hurts, weaknesses and vulnerabilities of its victum. It presents information, true or untrue, that is void of its original context and authors. It is often second hand information that loses its accuracy and original intent. It is information without control or restraint. This kind of information is unjust and immoral. It is used to further the interests or benefit the people who are passing on the information without regard to the persons involved.

Gossip is hard to restrain. It makes us feel empowered, in control, "in the know". When the information is damaging, or points out another persons failures, faults or weaknesses, it gives us a prideful buzz. We subconsciously think or feel that we don't have failures or weaknesses and therefore, we must somehow be superior. God must be on our side and blessing us for our outstanding life that doesn't require such discipline to get our attention.

Gossip gives us the power to inflict vindication, to get even, to right wrongs. By its use we are wagging our finger saying, "See, I told you she was a dirty scoundrel. This proves it."

Gossip is a powerful, intoxicating opiate that is extremely addictive. It feeds our lust for knowledge, power and control. Gossip is intensely destructive. It will burn relationships to the ground. Let's douse the flame and brake the addiction of gossip.

Rein in Your Tongue

Proverbs 25

I have counted sixty verses prior to chapter 25 that refer to our speech. In this chapter there are ten verses. What we say or don't say is crucial to a wise walk.

Here is what chapter twenty-five says about the talk of the wise walk. Maintaining confidentiality is crucial to your own reputation (9-10). Words spoken in an appropriate way and at the appropriate time are of high value (11). Pay attention to words of rebuke from a wise person. They have great value (12). Someone who accurately represents your words is appreciated (13). Our words should not boast what they can't deliver (14). Gentle words have great power and can penetrate deeply (15). When we say things that aren't true about someone who is close to us it is like assaulting that person with a weapon. You are treating them like an enemy (18). Our words should be sympathetic with those who are hurting (20). Unexpected, hurtful words cause a strong reaction (anger) to the hearer (23). Don't quarrel with your wife. It is dangerous (24).

This chapter concludes with a verse about self-control. A person who lacks self-control is defenseless against temptation. We must have self-control for our words to be under control.

The things that control us, our emotions, our environment, etc., cause us to say inappropriate words. What is controlling you? What is out of control in your life? What are you struggling to rein in? Here are some possible culprits.
  • lust
  • spending
  • weight gain
  • frustration with our job
  • frustration with our marriage
  • hurts, wrongs, disappointments

Remember the core message of Proverbs: Get wisdom, knowledge, understanding. Fear the Lord. Get these things and you will get control of your life and your tongue.

She's Teaching. Are we listening?

Proverbs 21:17-19

"Are you listening? Pay attention! Don't forget this. You will need this. Try that again. What is the next step? How would you do that differently the next time?" These are all phrases we've used a million times with our children and others we are trying to instruct. We've also heard them countless times ourselves from our teachers, parents, bosses, and others who are attempting to instruct us.

In a similar fashion, wisdom is our teacher (19) who cries out for us to listen, pay attention, and apply what we are learning (17-18). Her goal for this instruction is that we might trust in the Lord (19). So I ask, "Are we good students? Are we listening? Are we applying what we've been taught?"