Proverbs Blog – Drift Away

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you” ~ Proverbs 4:25

 

“Oh give me the beat boys and free my soul, I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away”~ Drift Away (author Mentor R. Williams, Jerry Lynn Williams)

Instead of my usual morning drive entertainment of an audio book or podcast I was running late and just cranked up the music.  Big mistake.

At work I sat at my desk, pulled out my to do list and got busy.  When I couldn’t complete the first item due to a system glitch I jumped over to my email. I handled a few emails and then jumped into something else.  I bounced from task to task all morning and had very little done by noon. By the time I left at 5 it was one of my least productive days ever.

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I was out of focus.

Compare this with my most productive days which start when I’m inspired by business or productivity talks during my drive in.  I’m mentally going over the items I want to accomplish that day before I even walk in the door.

 

 

The entire Proverb speaks of staying focused.

  • “Let your eyes look straight ahead”

You are looking ahead to where you want to be.

  1. “Your gaze directly before you”

You allow no distractions

  1. “Make level paths for your feet”

Adjusting for obstacles that keep you from your goal.

  1. “Take only ways that are firm”

Watch for time-traps that like quicksand can suck you in.

  1. “Do not swerve to the right or the left”

My error yesterday was a swerve to check my email.

  1. “Keep your foot from evil”

Righteous living leads to clear thinking.

So don’t start your morning off like the song singing “day after day I’m so confused” and drift, drift, drift away.

 

Detroit Bankruptcy – What the Proverbs Say

“I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds and the stone wall was in ruins.” ~ Proverbs 24:30

“Deferred maintenance.”

Detroit’s city manager has cited the bankruptcy filing as needed in order to find a way to deal with 60 years of deferred maintenance. That’s not a typo – 60 years!

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Many streetlights haven’t worked in years, there is no money to fix broken down ambulances, and up to one third of the residential properties are vacant.  Why shouldn’t they be?  Who wants to live in a city that is falling apart?

Now, accumulating stuff, is not the goal of the believer. The less the better. But the Bible does teach us to take care of and to prize the things we do own.

Even Paul, the apostle, had a few chosen possessions that he cared about.  “When you come bring the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” (II Timothy 4)  It was speculated that Paul, on the verge of being arrested while in Troas, quickly slipped his most prized possessions to trusted Carpus for save keeping.

So whether you own a mansion on a hill or the clothes on your back, carefully maintain, prize, and care for them as a good steward of God. Your nice, well kept home, yard or garden may inspire your neighbors, which may inspire your community, which may bless your city.

 

 

 

Drifting Off the Path

“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:6 (New Living Translation)

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An empty feeling has crept into my life – boredom and depression. I have drifted off the path.  I can feel it.  I’m way off in the woods. Completely lost. What did I do wrong?

A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. jolts me:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

Ah that is it – I have become absorbed in self.  So obvious now, why couldn’t I see this earlier?

Okay then, I hereby declare this pity party over!

I try to retrace my steps back to the right path.  I read Psalm 82. “Rescue the weak and needy.”  I pause before starting out again and ask myself, “Who can I rescue today?” “Who is needy?”  But my neighborhood is comfortable and middle class. Who needs help that can’t help themselves?

Where do I start?  I pray and ask for guidance. Then I recall yesterday’s church email about the need for soup and macaroni and cheese in the food pantry.  I can do that!  I’ll start small.

Thank you Lord.  It feels good to be back on the path.

Proverbs Blog – Alpha “Christian” Male?

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or left.” ~ Proverbs 4:25-27

With John Romaniello’s “Engineering the Alpha” hitting the best seller lists, the interest in  the characteristics of an Alpha Male are popping up all over the web.  Lists of alpha traits are everywhere hawking everything from ripped ab’s to success with the opposite sex.

I would suspect that most alpha males don’t need lessons on how to become what they already are.  But I am intrigued with the concept of an alpha male and how that would compare with the “alpha Christian male”.

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All lists of alpha male character traits I have seen include definiteness of purpose.  An alpha male knows his purpose, is focused and driven by that purpose. He doesn’t particularly care what others may think.  Jesus was a great example.  He came to this earth committed to a mission and lived his life to fulfill that mission. He attracted so many because of the confidence and authority he displayed.

The world is filled with distractions.  Knowing our purpose is not enough. We relentlessly must walk towards that goal without letting the shiny objects of life distract us. Eyes straight at the goal, with feet step by step conforming with the way of wisdom.  One false path, one wandering look can be fatal.

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”~ Napoleon Hill

 

Proverbs Blog – Wealth a By-product

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“Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle”~ Proverbs 23:5

“With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.”~ Proverbs 8:18

So do we have a contradiction here?  One verse says if we look for wealth it will elude us and the second verse says that with wisdom is wealth.

The clear teaching is that wealth and wisdom are often found together and the Bible does not condemn wealth for the believer.  But unlike popular teachings, seeking wealth will not produce wealth.  Chasing riches is like chasing birds – they will fly away.

Wealth is a by-product.  You work with passion to build a business,  serve a group of customers, to create wonderful art, and one day, you find yourself wealthy.

So put away the “How to Get Rich Books” from your library and find what it is you want to do with your life.  Then work at with all your heart.

“Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.” ~ Henry Ford

 

Proverbs Blog – Tebow’s Bible Verse – What Does It Mean?

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Former college star Tim Tebow was cut as quarterback from the New York Jets this week. He then tweeted the following Bible verse:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5

What did he mean by this?  What does the verse mean?

The teaching is about faith. It means that we are not to walk by sight. We should not use rules, laws, feelings or our own abilities to be our guide in life.  We are to look behind the visible world to the God who created all things as our source of guidance.

So, how do Christians receive guidance?

1. We seek God through prayer and study of the Bible. We do this in all areas of life – big and little.

2. We seek guidance and choose a direction carefully looking to God for confirmation.  Often a direction that was never considered prior to prayer now appears a very good choice.

3. We walk down that path with confidence and watch obstacles disappear and doors that were formally closed begin to open.

This is why the Christian refers to opportunities as “doors opening and closing.” In the case of Mr. Tebow, the locker room door with the Jets has slammed shut. He is now in the difficult but necessary time of praying, seeking, trusting and ultimately finding the next direction his life will take.

I have little doubt it will be more exciting, fulfilling and thrilling then anything the New York Jets had to offer.

Proverbs Blog – To Be a Champion, Follow a Champion!

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will work for kings, not unimportant people” Proverbs 22:29 ~(International Standard Version  2012)

Oh really?  How many people work for kings in this day and age?  Or even Presidents or national leaders?  Can you name even one?

If this verse is to be taken literally, the standard of excellence described can be attained only by the most incredible effort. You would have to be so much more than just a “good” worker.

Reaching the Top!This level of work would be limited to one in ten thousand or even one in a million. It would mean you have reached to top!

How could this be possible for us today?  Hint -there is a clue given in this verse.  The clue is in the first half of the verse.  Remember Proverbs was written by a father to a son to help inspire and show him how to reach these incredible heights of success.  The clue is in the word “see.” To “see” meant that the son was to actively “seek out” a role model in society who had this level of skill and ability and to emulate him.

Now this was all well and good in the small nation of Israel thousands of years ago but how about in modern history?  Possible? Please read the following quotation:

“my father having, among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, “Seest thou a man diligent in his calling? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men,” I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me, tho’ I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings,which, however, has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner”

Yes, thousands of years later a young man heeded this same advice and his work reached a level of diligence that he found himself literally before kings.  The young man of course was Benjamin Franklin.

This Proverb is for us today! Who can you emulate that will guide and inspire you to such great heights?  Find a mentor. Find a champion! Use Benjamin Franklin if you like. His autobiography is an amazing book and you will learn some amazing habits of productivity and success.

Proverbs Blog – Fire Your Boss

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet is stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” ~ Proverbs 6: 6-9

Warm weather has suddenly reached Central Virginia and that brings with it the annual invasion of insects – especially ants.  Don’t reach for that bug spray yet!  Let’s embrace wisdom and see what we can learn from the lowly ant.

Just think, no boss, supervisor or overseer!  Why?  Why do humans with advanced learning and intelligence require supervision and not the ant?   Follow these points and eliminate the need for someone to oversee your work.  Yes, you can fire your boss.

1. Be a Self-Starter – Be at work early and be working early.  (They are not the same thing.)    Over the years I have observed many coworkers who arrive at work early.  But many are chatting with coworkers or checking out the weekend sports score on the internet.  Know what your most important goals are for that day and tear right into them.

Cathedral

Cathedral

 

2. See the BIG Picture – be the builder who is not laying bricks, not building a wall but constructing a cathedral. As soon as the ant steps out of his nest in the spring he knows another winter will approach and begins gathering and storing food for that purpose.  I work in the insurance field. So, for example, my job is not to renew insurance policies, but to provide Peace of Mind so my customers can successfully pursue their dreams without worrying about lawsuits devastating their business.

3. Always Moving!  Keep at it.  You can sleep at night.  Tired of staring at the computer? Then shift your focus and clean out some files.  You can shift gears but keep working.  Avoid the narcotic drowsiness of the sluggard whose sleep leads to the need for more sleep.

4. Be Aware of “Harvest Times” – The ant observes the 80/20 rule.  The harvest period in the Middle East is short.  There is a wheat harvest, a barley harvest and other harvests for figs, olives, wine and livestock. But these come and go quickly.  Be aware that in most occupations  20% of your time will produce 80% of results.  Be sensitive to these times in your profession.

Okay lesson over.  Let’s really push this week!  Our Success Goal is to make someone say to you “Slow down – you’re making us all look bad”.

 

Proverbs Blog: What Are You Waiting For?

“One who becomes stiff-necked,
 after many reprimands 
will be shattered instantly—
beyond recovery.”~ Proverbs 29:1 (HSB)

Undecided

Undecided

A change is needed in your life.  You are aware of this but can’t seem to take action.  You feel the pressure, you are aware of the consequences, but still there is something holding you back.

What are you waiting for?

Perhaps you are feeling called of God to make some kind of commitment in your life to Him. You know it’s the right decision to make, but what will my friends and acquaintances think if I ‘”get religion?”  So you put the decision off.

What are you waiting for?

Maybe it’s that moral weakness that requires radical action on your part to eliminate from your life.  Serious consequences await if you don’t take action now.  Others will suffer. Yet you keep putting forth the same half-hearted efforts hoping it will resolve itself.

What are you waiting for?

Shattered

Shattered

Our Proverb outlines the terrifying consequence of refusing to change.  One day the opportunity for change will cease, the door will slam shut. Sudden consequences will occur that can completely shatter your life.

Years ago I was faced with such a momentous decision.  I wrestled with indecision but just couldn’t commit.  Then, one day,  I read an article that stirred me to action.  A positive action that I have never regretted. The title of the article?

“What Are You Waiting For”

Proverbs Blog – Your Tongue CAN Heal!

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life”~Proverbs 15:4

Two Tongues

Two Tongues

Yes, your tongue can heal.

Just like words can cause discouragement,  hurt, pain and yes sickness they can also promote healing.

Here are seven ways you can develop a healing tongue.

1. Speak to the Potential – I watched as our churches oldest Sunday School teacher talked to a young boy who came into class to find his mother.  She got down to his level on her 80+ year old legs and looked eye to eye with the boy. “What a fine young man you are.” Aren’t you a big strong boy.”  “Your parents must be very proud of you.” That child seemed to grow two inches as blessing after blessing poured into his ears.

2. Encourage – I’m not a speedster so stretching my single into a double during my at bat was a pretty chancy proposition.  But I did it!  The throw came in hard, the second baseman made the tag, but I was safe.  “Good hustle, you bum” said the opposing infielder. 30 years later I still smile when I remember this short one line of encouragement spoken by the opposing player.

3. Thankfulness – Yes, we have heard it before but do we practice it?  No matter what the drama or the difficulty at my job I have a coworker who always will say – “isn’t it wonderful to have a job?”.  It kind of takes the fun out of complaining!  Try it!

4. Quick to Greet – Ever notice when you walk into a room and two or more people are having conversation you feel left out?  But sometimes there is that special person in the small group who notices you come in, welcomes you and opens the group to you.  Strive to be that special person. Be quick to greet those you know and those you don’t know.

5. Always Be Positive- Negative words, thoughts, music or movies can produce tension, anxiety that can negatively affect our health. A positive approach removes this tension and helps prepare the way for positive action. Songwriter Woody Guthrie says:

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard travelling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood.”

6. Speak the Blessing – Is the day of speaking a blessing past?    Years ago it was common to speak blessings when greeting and departing.  The Irish Blessing is an example:

Irish Countryside

Irish Country Lane

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Most of us are not poets but surely we can do better than “Have a nice day.”

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge – Jesus ends the parable of the Good Samaritan with a question to the lawyer who had attempted to trap him. “Which of these three do you think was a friend to the man who fell into the hand of the robbers” said Jesus. The expert in the law replies, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him “go and do likewise.”  Yes encourage others to take action on their ideas, dreams and plans.

Here are seven ways in which your tongue can heal.  Do you have more?  If so,  please share them.  I’d love to hear from you.