Monday, May 30, 2016

Running at the Mouth

I do not mean to be crude; it's just what dad called it when a person talked and talked and talked: diarrhea of the mouth. Moving on...

Ask yourself a question:
”Am I a fool?”

   A fool does not delight in understanding, 
   But only in revealing his own mind.
   --Proverbs 18:2

Some Bible translations use the terms ‘heart’ or ‘opinion’ instead of ‘mind.’ The meaning of the term found in the Hebrew text of this verse includes the thinking part of a person, the mind; the feeling part of a person, the heart; as well as the will or intent of a person. The term refers to the entire ‘inner person.’

The fool is delighted to pour out his heart and mind. He is ever ready to tell people his opinion. In conversation he is a master at turning attention back to himself. Almost every comment reminds him of his own experience or something he knows, which he is anxious to share. Your trouble ultimately relates back to him. Your good news ultimately relates back to him. Your story reminds him of...him. It is all rather repulsive, perhaps the reason for my dad's description!

Without asking, everyone knows what the fool is thinking. He reveals his heart. He tells whatever is on his mind.

The fool does not spend much time listening, except to fuel his next comment. He has no real desire to gain understanding. He is not as much interested in you as he is interested in you being interested in him. (Our social media outlets provide the perfect opportunity for the fool.)

You won’t be able to tell the fool anything; he doesn't care to understand.

Since the fool will not listen, I wonder if we can learn something from the fool?
1. If you talk too much, you might be a fool. This is a good time for reflection.
2. Understanding comes when a person uses their eyes and ears more than their mouth! This might be a good time quiet and listen.

Show a little restraint.
Be wise.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

standing small

I have known men who stood in pride. I have felt the disgust wash over me when prideful men have arrogantly shown contempt for others. I have felt anger when they have strutted in untouchable pride. I have heard their proud voices bark orders to those over whom they had authority. I have even been humiliated by a few.

   Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
   Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
                                                                                    -Proverbs 16:5

The man of pride will receive his due. Yet, as I read and wonder at the truth of this proverb, I do not smile. Even when I consider that the proud man ‘deserves’ God’s wrath, I find little satisfaction in his end.

You see, we have all stood before God in pride, the pride of sin. At one time or another we have all pridefully opposed God by going our own way. We are all guilty before the pure and holy Creator. We all ‘deserve’ His wrath.

Can you envision the man of pride standing before the Supreme Judge? His chest does not swell any longer; his words a whisper, trembling knees, eyes looking downward. Can you see how small he stands?

It is truly reassuring that our God is just. Sin will not go unpunished. Pride will not go unpunished. But how terrifying it is . . . . Are any of us truly great? Truly powerful?

Holy is our God, the Judge.

Keep yourself from pride.

The proud will be brought low.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Have you ever thought, “It won’t happen to me.” Perhaps that was not your exact thought, but other folks (parents) seem a little overprotective or overly cautious. It is not that you are unaware of dangers in life. In fact, you are aware, keenly aware. You are quite certain that you will not make the same foolish mistakes that others make. You would not take a risk that you knew could really harm you.
"It won’t happen to me."

Some folks have overestimated their physical abilities; underestimated the power of the forces of nature (wind, water, lightening, etc.); or have possibly ignored cold hard facts. Many have taken risks without thinking things through. Are you the type of person who looks ahead and thinks about the future? Do you stop and think about the natural consequences of your choices?

Parents worry about kids. They do not want them to be hurt. They are especially mindful of negative influences in our present society. It is common for kids to think that they can hang with questionable friends and remain unaffected. When you talk to them, they sound as if they are untouchable. Many believe that they will be the good influence on their friends. Their friends will not influence them negatively.

Kids (and many adults) think they can walk with the 'fun' crowd or the rowdy group yet not be influenced by them. They believe they can engage in all sorts of activities and entertainment without being affected by the violence, sex, and illegal or immoral behavior. They have no intention of doing anything wrong themselves, yet they laugh at drunkenness, accept homosexuality as normal, think of faith in God as blind faith or superstition. The friend or movie star with no conscience is idolized.

Among 'friends' sin is funny or inviting or normal or just another point of view. So..."It's OK. I'm not going to get into any of that kind of stuff. We're just friends having fun." Untouchable.

Solomon had a word for the kind of thinking that accepts everyone and everything as if it is all OK: folly. He also had a word for the ‘open-minded’ person who lacks caution (discretion) and does not make wise choices (lacks discernment): fool.

Solomon warned that a person would be better off meeting up with an angry violent mama bear that had been robbed of her cubs, than to meet up with a fool in his folly.

Is anyone so strong that he/she can associate with fools and their folly and come away ‘untouched’? 
Only the fool would think so.

   Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
   Rather than a fool in his folly.
   --Proverbs 17:12

Life really doesn't care who you are or what you plan for the future. Do not run with fools; do not participate in folly...not even for a day! You are not untouchable!

Be wise.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


   A gentle answer turns away wrath,
   But a harsh word stirs up anger.
                                                 --Proverbs 15:1

When is it easier to answer gently?
When is it a challenge?

The gentle answer is not only 'how' you answer, but also descriptive of the 'content' of your answer. If you have ever experienced a sharp, cutting jab that is spoken with a soft and controlled voice, you know that that was not a gentle answer.

A gentle manner with words that are fitting; that is a gentle answer.

  • It is easier to offer a gentle answer when you truly desire peace instead of strife.
  • It is easier to offer a gentle answer when you have a sincere concern for the other person.
  • It is easier to offer a gentle answer when you are deeply devoted to Jesus.
  • It is easier to offer a gentle answer when you stand in awe of your Creator.

Perhaps is could be summed up...
It is easier to offer a gentle answer when you are not so wrapped up in yourself.

   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Monday, May 16, 2016

An Open-Minded Woman

   The wise woman builds her house, 
   But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
                                                      --Proverbs 14:1

The word foolish is connected with several ideas in the Proverbs: lack of discernment, empty-headedness, lack of discretion, and naiveté.

The woman described here does not take care of her house, that is, her household. She shames her children and her husband by her behavior. She lacks self-control in her speech: gossip, busybody, talebearer. She is a procrastinator. She is filled with indecision because she lacks wisdom. She is primarily interested in herself. Things must always go her way. She is the opposite of the industrious woman of good character in Proverbs 31.

Foolishness is the result of being naïve or simple minded. You might say that she is open-minded but in a negative sense; gullible. She cannot discern situations properly and often wanders in the wrong direction making poor decisions.

   The naïve inherit folly,
   But the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
                                                   --Proverbs 14:18

The ‘foolish’ woman is not foolish because she tears her house down; that is the result. She destroys her house with her own hands because she is foolish.

Be wise . . . and build.

Monday, May 9, 2016


We were in elementary school but the memory is still quite vivid. I won’t say what she did, but my older sister was in big trouble and dad was on a rampage.
(I probably tattled . . . can’t remember.)

The old saying goes, “Experience is the best teacher,” but I disagree. 'I' learned from her mistake. She received correction and discipline and I received valuable instruction. That was definitely the best way to learn.

There is a beautiful Hebrew word used a number of times in the Proverbs. Its meaning has a connection to my learning experience. Though there were two of us, three if you count dad, there was instruction and correction and discipline all at the same time. The Hebrew word ‘musar’ means instruction and correction and discipline all at the same time. (Though not smooth English, we might consider 'instructive discipline' or 'disciplinary instruction' as descriptive translations of 'musar.')

Parents sometimes forget the purpose of discipline. It is not to get even or punish (administer justice), but to provide instruction. In scripture instruction has the purpose of providing discipline, that is, self-discipline.

   A wise son accepts his father's discipline, 
   But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
                                                          --Proverbs 13:1

‘Discipline’ in this verse is the Hebrew word musar. It includes the simple instruction that comes when a father tells or shows his child how something works or when he explains right and wrong in life. Ideally instruction is accepted by the child who then adjusts his attitude and behavior accordingly: self-discipline. If the outcome is imperfect the father may choose to correct; still a part of musar. Where instruction and correction are rejected by the child, discipline follows, still a part of musar.

An excellent present-day illustration of musar is found in coaching. Coaches give verbal instruction, apply hands-on training, give correction, and require physical discipline. In extreme cases they will ‘bench’ a player or kick the player off the team for misconduct, each a form of discipline. Instruction, training, correction, discipline: musar. Each element of the coach's training program is singular in purpose, to make the athlete excel in competition.

In the same way that I learned from my sister’s discipline, God wanted Israel to learn from discipline, that is, the discipline they had received from God in their past: musar.
(Read about this in Deuteronomy 11:2-9.)

The general purpose of musar in Proverbs is to equip the child to excel in life. More specifically, it is to equip the child for life before God.

When the Apostle Paul instructed Christian fathers concerning their children to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4), he was bringing forward the Hebrew concept of musar.

Do not think this that is a nice little Hebrew word study...this is about life!

Parents, be wise. Apply musar.
Children, be wise. Love musar.

Musar is life.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Vent Your Frustration!

Have you ever been around someone who is vexed?

Perhaps you are thinking what I am thinking, “M-a-y-b-e . . . what exactly is ‘vexed’?”

‘Vexation’ is not a commonly used word these days, but it is quite descriptive. It is an ‘anger’ word with an added pinch of mental distress and irritation.

Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was vexed when her husband’s other wife continually tormented her because she was unable to bear a child. When you are vexed your mind is swimming with anger and distress due to something/ someone that has irritated you.

So, have you ever been around someone who is vexed?

You can almost see a cloud over their head; they cannot hide it. They huff and grunt and make a show of their bad mood. You might even hear an announcement, “That really ticked me off!” or “I am so mad I could spit!”


It is not nice to call someone a fool, but...

     A fool's vexation is known at once, 
     But a prudent man conceals dishonor.
                                                         --Proverbs 12:16

Vexation is not necessarily bad if you handle it properly. Perhaps we all become vexed at one time or another. The fool is the person who cannot help but make everyone aware of his‘vexation.’ He vents his frustration, according to the wisdom of our day.

The man or woman of true wisdom is different. Instead of demanding attention and becoming a distraction; instead of venting his/her frustration, the wise person shows patience and self control. He knows how to deal with his difficult circumstances, at least in part, by the preceding proverb:

     The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
     But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
                                                                    --Proverbs 12:15

Just be sure to choose your ‘counselor’ carefully if you are vexed. The one who counsels you to be a fool and "vent your vexation" is not giving you wisdom from God.

Be wise.