Proverbs Blog – Is Goal Setting Biblical?

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit” ~ Proverbs 21:5

“She considers a field and buys it” ~ Proverbs 31:16

Today is December 29, 2012.  Are your goals for 2013 in place?

What about a Christian and goal setting anyway?  Should a Christian set goals? Or is the true believer “led by the Spirit?”

The answer is “yes” to both questions.  A Christian should set goals and should be led by the Spirit.  Set your goals but always be willing to change or modify your goals based on the Spirit’s leading.  If you read the story of Paul’s missionary journeys you quickly see that Paul always had plans on what he was going to do next but often modified or changed has plans based on the Spirit’s leading.

The Proverbs say much about diligence and success in life.  Diligence is more then just hard work.  Here we have a little glimpse into the character of the diligent.  What do the diligent do in addition to hard work that leads to success?  Diligent people make plans.

Planning is another way of describing setting goals for the future.  The Proverbs 31 woman didn’t just blindly buy the first piece of real estate she came across but “considered” the purchase.

Woman in Vineyard

The Hebrew word for “considered” is “zamam.”   It implies inspecting,  considering from every vantage point, and putting together a plan.

So how about you and 2013?   If you haven’t done so you still have time to put together a plan.

 

 

Quick now, join the ranks of the diligent, and write down three goals for every important area of your life: spiritual, social, family, relationships, financial, physical health and work.

With these in place you have taken a giant step to a happy and successful New Year!

(photo credit John Curley / photo on Flickr)

 

Proverbs Blog – Ebenezer Scrooge – Story of Repentance

“A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.”~ Proverbs 29:1

Oh this negative Proverb will not do so close to Christmas!  Let’s take the opposite approach and tell the story of one who DID change after many rebukes.  Not a few degrees of change, but a glorious and wonderful renewal of mind soul and spirit.

First a brief description of this miserable wretch:

“a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.”

E. Scrooge

E. Scrooge

The old wretch heeded not the criticism of associates or family.  But he received a supernatural series of visions which shook him to his very core.

The final vision took him to the blackest depths of evil where he beheld two horrible children; one named “Ignorance and the other Want:

“They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.”

The old wretch was shaken to the core at the visions he had seen.  But suddenly the visions ended and the man woke upon his bed.  He was back in his old life in his own bed.  He still had a chance to make amends and vowed to change his life. And change he did!

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.

Sweet and glorious change.

Merry Christmas and thanks to Charles Dickens.  A free copy of the Christmas Carol can be read at

http://www.gutenberg.org  or an audio version at: http://www.librivox.org

 

 

 

Integrity

“For the upright will dwell in the land and those with integrity shall remain in it” ~ Proverbs 2:21

Pledge (definition) – a solemn promise to do or to refrain from doing something

“More congressional Republicans are breaking a long-standing pledge to oppose tax increases before returning to Washington on Monday to avert a looming fiscal crisis with a deal that increasingly appears impossible to reach without changes to the tax code.”~ Fox News

Now for the record I am neither Democrat or Republican.  I do my best to try to use biblical standards and teachings and apply them to issues facing our nation.  I find myself in agreement with some Republican positions but also in agreement with certain Democratic positions.   I cannot find any biblical teaching that instructs believers to oppose tax increases.  “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ said Jesus.

I can find many Biblical teachings on honesty and integrity. Come on Washington!  Your word is your word! Whether you make promises, pledges or vows, they are meant to be kept.

I Promise!

I Promise!

“It’s no longer relevant” says one member of the House of Representatives, about the tax pledge he signed.

Well – why did you sign it?

Our local church used to ask members to sign a pledge card each year outlining what they were planning to give in the coming year.  Now, I always give to my church, but I am not signing a pledge for the future.  Jobs can be lost, illness can strike, unexpected expenses can arise.  Too much can change.

The solution is very simple.  Don’t make commitments you cannot keep.  Avoid signing pledges or making vows, unless you absolutely intend, no matter what, that you will keep your word.   Don’t agree to things that are outside your control.

Be men and women of integrity!

 

 

 

The Water-American

“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”~ Proverbs 23:20-21

Here is the first hand observation of one of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin.  Frugal, hard working, and water sipping Franklin, was in England working in the printing trade when he made these observations of his fellow workers:

“At my first admission into this printing-house I took to working at press, imagining I felt a want of the bodily exercise I had been us’d to in America, where presswork is mix’d with composing. I drank only water; the other workmen, near fifty in number, were great guzzlers of beer. On occasion, I carried up and down stairs a large form of types in each hand, when others carried but one in both hands. They wondered to see, from this and several instances, that the Water-American, as they called me, was stronger than themselves, who drank strong beer! We had an alehouse boy who attended always in the house to supply the workmen. My companion at the press drank every day a pint before breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his bread and cheese, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six o’clock, and another when he had done his day’s work. I thought it a detestable custom; but it was necessary, he suppos’d, to drink strong beer, that he might be strong to labor. I endeavored to convince him that the bodily strength afforded by beer could only be in proportion to the grain or flour of the barley dissolved in the water of which it was made; that there was more flour in a pennyworth of bread; and therefore, if he would eat that with a pint of water, it would give him more strength than a quart of beer. He drank on, however, and had four or five shillings to pay out of his wages every Saturday night for that muddling liquor; an expense I was free from. And thus these poor devils keep themselves always under.”

“Always under” indeed!  Of course, it would be politically incorrect today to point to excess alcohol consumption as a cause of poverty, but it is what it is.

And we are oft reminded that the number of Americans living in poverty today is at an all time high.  We are reminded that the number of Americans on food stamps today is at record levels.  And oh my, marijuana is now legal in two states.

Drinking Water

Drinking Water

 

A glass of water anyone?

 

 

Train Up A Child – A Success Story

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” ~ Proverbs 22:6

Josiah’s youngest child was going to be a challenge.

Young Ben with his love of knowledge and books appeared well suited for the clergy.  But to send Ben to college to pursue this calling was far beyond the means of the struggling family.   After all, Josiah had 17 children!

Josiah tried for a few years to introduce Ben to his own trade, that of a candle maker, but it was increasingly obvious that Ben was not suited for this work and disliked it immensely.

Laying the Brick

Laying the Brick

So, Josiah took Ben on long walks in and around the city of Boston.  They observed the various tradesmen around town – joiners, bricklayers, turners, braziers and so forth.  He carefully observed Ben to see if he were inclined to one trade or another.  In later years Ben observed how helpful seeing these trades conducted benefited him and used what skills he learned from time to time in other endeavors.

 

Although “training up a youth in the way that they should go” primarily refers to spiritual and moral training, it is important to note that timing is everything. The young child is most influenced by parental guidance.  The older the child, the less receptive they often are to guidance.

And note that this verse does not mean forcing the child in the direction that the parent has predetermined for them.  Every child is unique, and the parent’s job is to note the physical and mental abilities of the developing youth and train them accordingly.

The proverb also must be woven together with the other truths found in the Bible. We are free moral agents, free to choose right from wrong.  Even Solomon ultimately stopped following his own advice and strayed.

Ultimately Ben did not settle on any of the trades that he observed with his father during those walk.  Finally, Josiah, noting Ben’s strong bookish desires (and to keep him from running away to sea) settled on an apprenticeship for young Ben with a printer.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

The rest of the Benjamin Franklin story is of course history.