Proverbs: Ancient Practical Wisdom That Still Applies Today

Proverbs 3

I’ve always liked the book of Proverbs; many prefer the Psalms but I love the wisdom of Solomon’s proverbs instead. I do have to laugh at the frequency of Solomon’s warnings about nagging women. The man had about a 1,000 wives and concubines, so what did he expect? Imagine that as a reality TV show. Anyway, back on track, how does the proverb quoted above fit in modern day society?

  • What teaching? Ethics. Since it is the Bible, more particularly the 10 Commandments.
  • So how does following that help bring peace and prosperity? Jesus summed it up this way, ‘love God and people’ on multiple occasions.
  • Binding and writing on your heart in contemporary language would be embodying it and acting upon it.
  • Winning favor comes from people seeing the integrity of your character.

This came to mind after two incidents, the first at work, and the second with my former business partners. At work, I put in for an open supervisor’s position. What I didn’t know was that two of the other supervisors had put a bug in the ears of management about me. I don’t even interact with these guys much; they are coworkers, not friends. During the interviews I found out just how closely I was watched. I landed the job. Eric tells me I have ‘favor’. Hard to disagree with that.

The weeks prior to a business meeting with my partners, I ran through multiple scenarios of how it would all go wrong. I was going to tell them I was leaving Wicked Jester, and had formed several lines of reasoning for my decision. To say I was nervous would be an understatement.

I arrived early, speaking with our former screen printer, Binx, and Luke, who had flown into Arkansas just for the meeting. We sat through the meeting, tossing ideas back and forth until the end. Then Luke asked if we would like to add anything…

All of the doomsday scenarios my paranoid little mind had envisioned…never happened. Where I expected shouting, there was silence. Where I expected anger, there was sadness.

As a side note, our limbic systems are emotional idiots; this has been proven once again.

Business wise, we amicably severed our ties; as friends it seems like we have gotten stronger. I expected to lose friends after I announced that I left WJ online. I didn’t, same response, the ties are stronger it seems.

To sum it up, honest people cannot help but respect integrity. When you go through life with goodness and integrity, people see the consistency of your character. It builds up an honest reputation that goes before us when it comes to our relationships.

Have you seen this play out in your life before?

Does The Golden Rule Apply at 2am?

Golden-Rule-1-300x225Has anyone ever quoted this to you; “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Do you agree with that? I mean, it sounds good and cannot be that hard; all we have to do is be nice to each other. Here is a fun bit of trivia — the other religious systems have something similar to it. Let us compare; Jesus said:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6: 31”

Now let’s look at Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Non-Aggression Principle in this order.

“Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you” (Analects 15:23)

“This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you” (Mahabharata5:1517)

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udanavarga 5:18)

“It shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another.” Walter Block

These are good principles; reciprocity makes for a good baseline. Jesus, however, did not take from these when he taught what’s commonly called the Golden Rule. The foundation of the Golden Rule predates these since Leviticus is dated between 1279 and 1445 BC, depending on when Exodus is dated.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19: 18 (Emphasis mine)

Jesus took it a step further; he made it active rather than passive. The others say ‘do not’, Jesus taught his disciples to ‘do’. It goes deeper than just being nice and polite. This point was made to me a few weeks ago.

My wife and I had a very pregnant friend who was due any day. She did not have a way to the hospital and was relying on us. I picked up Casey at 11:30pm from work, and went to sleep as soon as we got home. I doubted we would get a full night’s sleep.

It felt like I had just closed my eyes when Casey woke me up. I reached for my phone to check the time…1:57am. Grumpily, I asked if anyone else could take her to the hospital. Even as I was saying it, I was getting dressed. Uncaffeinated, I walked out to the truck, grabbing my keys on the way. I am not very ‘saintly’ at two in the morning.

Thirty-Five minutes later, we arrived at the hospital. We picked her up, and then drove into the city. Not long after we arrived, her boyfriend was dropped off. We got back home at 3:40am where I bee-lined for the bed. At 1:09pm, she had her baby boy.

This went beyond being nice. Can we all agree it is nicer to get to stay asleep…or is it just me? That’s why Jesus made the Golden Rule situational. It involves putting yourself in another’s shoes and asking what you would like someone do in this or that particular situation.

Honestly, I haven’t been putting as much thought into it as I should. As far as I have gotten is helping the occasional stranded person or giving someone a ride. Let’s bring it closer to home, to our daily interactions. Answer these questions for yourself:

  • If someone knocks my schoolbooks out of my hand, what do I want others to do?
  • This is my first day here and I feel out of place, what would I like others to do?
  • My face is all over the news for something bad, how would I like others to respond?
  • It is hot, and my truck has broken down, there are no towns or friends nearby, and what would I like the next person to drive by do?
  • I have had a long day waiting tables, these people are rude, and demanding to me, I wish they would treat me how?

It is easy to think about, hard to do. There are people in these situations and we have seen them at least once or have been in a similar spot. How we answered these questions is how we should respond to people in these situations. I know I have a lot of room for improvement. Do you?

September 2015 Competition;  Been Better, Been Worse

Every three months I test my strength and conditioning. I use two benchmarks: the kettlebell military press and hardstyle kettlebell snatches. I like to measure the effectivenss of my training programs with it. Plus see how close I am to a 1/2 bodyweight press. After some thought  I decided to change how I do the presses.

The January and June competitions will be the done with the 71.6lb kettlebell. Whether it moves or not will be the test. The March and September competitions will test just how many reps I can get with the 53lb kettlebell. My personal record for that is 6 reps.

Previously

  • Right: 1 rep w/58.2lb (37.5%BW)
  • Left: 1 rep w/58.2lb (37.5%BW)
  • 37 reps with the 53.2lb kettlebell in five minutes.

Currently

  • Right: 5 reps w/53.2lb (37.5%BW)
  • Left: 4 reps w/53.2lb (36.5%BW)
  • 46 reps with the 53.2 Kettlebell in 5 minutes 

My conditioning has improved. It’s also been better. The surprise is that my left arm is now the weakest. Especially being left handed. My relative strength has remained largely unchanged. 

So some markers have improved. Some have stayed the same. At least I’m not falling far back. 

Come the New Year we’ll see if I can move the 70lb at all. Time to hit the drawing board to see about improving. 

 

    Six Things That Don’t Make Someone A Christian

    6 thingsI have written about falls from grace before — The selfish and hedonistic attitude that I see angers and grieves me. It also gives me an opportunity to tell you what doesn’t make you a Christian. Many people claim to be Christian, but are they?

    I grew up in church with vacation Bible School and Sundays nodding off in a pew. I was around 10 when I was baptized in the Saline River. 8 years later, I was getting drunk at parties and passing out. Almost rolled into a fire once after I passed out.

    Then I started going back to church a couple of years later. I even drove the church van to pick up kids. Once to avoid a truck I drove it into a ditch. Fortunately, it was only me in it at the time. Then pressure at work got to be too much for me and I folded so they wouldn’t pick on me. It did not work by the way.

    I quit that job because of the bullying. At the next one, I would get drunk at a strip club with my boss. That stopped after I spent my rent and truck insurance on lap dances. I quit drinking after that.

    Then I spent the next ten years doing better on my own strength. A few of those years are in the blog’s archives. I grew up in church. If I skipped church then I had to read my Bible. I did not act like a Christian the other days of the week, though. Why?

    Because the more I think about it, the less I think I was actually saved. In one parable, Jesus told about those who fall away under pressure because they don’t have any roots. It is a favorite of mine in Mark 4: 1-20. The differences between then and now are startling.

    What Doesn’t Make Someone a Christian?

    • Checking a box that says they are a Christian.
    • Growing up in a Christian home.
    • Going to church.
    • Being baptized.
    • Doing good deeds.
    • Keeping the rules.

    A person can check one or all of these and still not be a Christian. It is not your heritage, culture, or behavior that makes you a Christian.

    What Makes Someone a Christian?

    1. Admit they are not right with God. Imperfection will not meet the standards of perfection. (Romans 3: 10-18, 23; 6: 23)
    2. Realize that the only way to get right is through Jesus. (Romans 5: 8)
    3. Confess that Jesus is Lord, believe that he died to take the punishment for their transgressions, and rose again. Then they will be saved. (Romans 10: 8-13)
    4. Now they are justified by faith (Romans 5: 1) and there is no condemnation (Romans 8: 1) against them.

    That is what makes someone a Christian. It is a relationship with Christ, not keeping a list of rules. If you could keep the list of rules, you wouldn’t need Jesus. All you have to do is be perfect.

    There is more that happens other than a one-way trip to Heaven. God starts to work inside them. He gives them the power to walk away from their old way of life. His love fills their heart and they can love and forgive as he does.

    What Does A Christian Look Like?

    You can see them by their selfless love (John 13: 34-35) and the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. I touched on that in the previous post. This comes from having a relationship with Jesus and His strength (John 15: 4-8). I have tried; I don’t have it in me to love selflessly.

    Yes, there are people that act like Christians. There are some who are Christians and just willfully disobedient. Jesus had some hard words for hypocrites in Matthew 23hypocrite

    There are also immature Christians who are still learning to grow. You don’t go from sinner to saint in 3.2 seconds. John describes the level of growth in 1 John 2: 12-14. Some are admittedly stunted in their growth.

    I beg that you don’t let a Christian’s failures —it will happen— keep you from Christ. Don’t look to us; look to Christ. Our misbehavior is the very reason we need Him.

    Which of these areas do you fit in? Are you judging Christ because of his followers?    

    Workaholic or Worship; the Danger of Multitasking Christianity

    alex-gregory-i-am-not-a-workaholic-i-just-work-to-relax-new-yorker-cartoon-1Ever look at what you do with your time? What is your purpose with that time? Do you get so busy that you forget the reason of it all or are in danger of doing that? I worry that I walk the line on that one.

    My free time is steeped in Bible study on topics, studying apologetics, theology, serving in various ministries, lessons, and these posts. Since January, I’ve gained friends, enjoying down time with them. Almost every day, I spend quiet time in the Gospels, finding it most relaxing when I hand-copy passages. I do not, however, spend time just talking to God alone, without interruptions; it is generally just constant chatter throughout the day. I would say there should be a balance except not quite.

    Workaholic or worship? Trying to live a good life or focus on the good and it spills out naturally. Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” From the Message translation of Matthew 11:28.

    Then in Luke 10: 38-42 he taught what to prioritize to Mary and Martha:walter#2, 1/3/70, 12:35 PM,  8C, 7704x10771 (838+606), 150%, paintings,  1/10 s, R72.3, G61.8, B75.5

    Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

    Part of this I got while reading the Philosophy of Jesus. This block of text jumped out to me on pages 125-126:

    “Paradoxically, we don’t do enough good because we do too much good. That means two things: first, we are Marthas, worrying about many things, instead of Marys, simply loving “Jesus only.” And second, we try to do it ourselves, asking God for “help,” instead of realizing Step One of any Twelve-Step program, that we can’t do it ourselves. Jesus has to do it. Our resources are tiny, His are unlimited.

    A saint is a soldier who has burnt all his bridges behind him and sees “Jesus only” ahead of him.

    That does not mean passivity any more than it means Martha-like activism. Giving yourself up to God is the least passive thing you can possibly do. It was that dynamo of activity, St. Paul, who said “I live, nevertheless not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) It was another dynamo, John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)”

    I do not want to be considered a “saint”. I just want to live for something more and good. I spent years building monuments to myself, proclaiming how smart I was, and learning the hard way that I have no real control. In a discussion with my wife’s grandmother, she struggled to find a nice way to describe it, so I said “full of myself?” “We’ll go with that.” She replied.

    CS LewisbadmanFrom there, I would try to make myself good, and I couldn’t consistently pull that off. August 10 was my rebirthday, the day I stopped using my own effort a year ago. I find when I don’t try to do anything more than ‘love God, love people,’ I supernaturally do well. It feels effortless; my tone and mannerisms change when I interact with others. Just reflecting the loving-kindness – tender kindness motivated by or expressing affection — that I was shown. Be it reassuring a friend, encouraging a new employee at work who showed me something new, quietly helping an elderly relative to her car while speaking of spiritual things; things that are not my strengths. Those lie in studying and writing, not expressing love, kindness, and gentleness; those come from walking in the Spirit.

    “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5: 13-14

    “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5: 16-18

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

    Less doing for and more loving.