Proverbs 8: Listen In Order To Hear

Driven Publishing LogoHearing wisdom is not the same as listening to it. Listening conjures up images of understanding and obeying, while hearing simply means the words have caused your ear drums to vibrate. But don’t discount hearing; it is the first step in following The Lord.

It is easy to become wrapped up in our own little worlds. Work, hobbies, and baseball games distract us and when we feel comfortable enough with them, we forget to consult God and ask for His Wisdom.

Up to this chapter, the commands are to accept, remember, listen, pay attention, and keep God’s wisdom in your mind, act on them with your body, and accept them in your heart. Proverbs 8 tells us why. Wisdom existed long before we did and will exist long after we are gone. Wisdom was the first of God’s works and if we ask, he gives us the ability to hear it.

Solomon’s Prayer: To Hear God’s Truth

In 1 Kings 3:11-12, God responds to Solomon’s prayer for wisdom with a blessing: the ability to hear truth (translated as “discern) while administering justice. God granted Solomon the ability to hear Him and not rely on Solomon’s own human understanding. The same Hebrew word (shama’ – H8085) is used four times in chapter 8. Today’s chapter is telling us to listen harder.

Above All: Listen

Listen through the noise of busyness, chaos, hurt, and pain. Listen through the peace of love, happiness, and contentment. Listen.

#AskSeekFind #ProverbsChallenge

Proverbs 7: Warning Against Destruction

Driven Publishing LogoIt is painful to watch someone make poor decisions–it is worse when you know it leads to destruction. Proverbs 7 breaks my heart because I imagine a young man choosing to take drugs for the first time. The lure of the pleasure and excitement is too much to repel and his overconfidence in his ability to control his future actions will ultimately destroy him. Proverbs 7 is a warning against such destruction.

Sweeping Destruction

According to the American Society of Addictive Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. In 2016, that number is somewhere between 59,000 and 65,000 (depending on definition of cause of death) as reported in a New York Times article dated June 5, 2017 with my beloved Ohio carrying the worse numbers in the country. Our youth are targets and easy prey: Drug overdoses, for Americans under 50, are the leading cause of death. And the  numbers are rising.

The Destruction of Our Best and Brightest

From the New York Times article:

“”Heroin is the devil’s drug, man. It is,” Cliff Parker said, sitting on a bench in Grace Park in Akron. Mr. Parker, 24, graduated from high school not too far from here, in nearby Copley, where he was a multisport athlete. In his senior year, he was a varsity wrestler and earned a scholarship to the University of Akron. Like his friends and teammates, he started using prescription painkillers at parties. It was fun, he said. By the time it stopped being fun, it was too late. Pills soon turned to heroin, and his life began slipping away from him.”

Cliff was not a “loser.” Cliff had a promising future. He was one of our best and brightest. I can only imagine the heartache of his family as they helplessly watched the destruction of their son. I pray for Cliff and others like him.

What Can We Do to Combat This Destruction?

Pray. Educate. Pray. Love. Pray. Notice. Pray. Pray. Pray.

#AskSeekFind #ProverbsChallenge

Proverbs 6: Every Movie Plot

Driven Publishing LogoAs I read Proverbs 6, I have visions of every movie plot, every story line, and every soap opera. The pitfalls are classic and when we are watching or reading, the mistakes are obvious and we yell at the characters wanting them to stop and mend their ways or open their eyes to the villain who is manipulating them.

Poldark and Outlander

It seems every time I visit my daughter, she introduces me to an addictive show or musical. Among them include: Parenthood, Grace and Frankie, Glee, Downton Abbey, Hamilton. The most recent is Poldark. I am currently on episode 6 and I look forward to watching more tonight. The problem is I only started watching it two days ago. (I, however, have the last laugh; I introduced her to Outlander.)

I cannot help as I watch Poldark, to think to myself: One cousin read Proverbs and the other didn’t; Francis is lazy and is prey to scoundrels while Ross is hard working and sees through people.

Proverbs Makes Heros

So, if you want to be the hero of your story, listen to, accept, and follow the guidance of Proverbs 6 (and all the others) and be the role model for all of those who do not.

Happy Ending: My Favorite Plot

I hope Francis reads Proverbs 6 to open his eyes, and with Ross’s example, also becomes a hero and finds his happy ending. Because, according to Proverbs 6, it is not too late.

#AskSeekFind #ProverbsChallenge #Poldark #Outlander

Proverbs 5: Avoid The Wellspring of Envy

Driven Publishing LogoProverbs 5 is all about envy and the hardship it causes when we travel down that treacherous path.

Where Does Envy Come From?

The first recount of envy in the Bible is the story of Cain and Abel. And though I am sure most of you already know the story, I would like to point out that God did not chastise Cain because his sacrifice wasn’t as good as Abel’s. God charged him to try harder and sacrifice his best (Genesis 4:6-8). If you read those verses, you will see the love of a parent and not condemnation, but Cain could not hear the love because anger consumed him.

Cain believed, and acted upon that belief, that if Abel’s sacrifice had not have been so good, his would have been fine. That way of thinking led to his destruction. Criticizing or downplaying the actions of other does not elevate yours. The actions of others should never be a measuring tool for yours.


Here Comes The Judge

What leads to envy? It comes from judging others with our earthly hearts and comparing them with ourselves. A judge must know the difference between right and wrong and be willing to act upon that knowledge. But who decides what is right or wrong? God. Where can we find His determination? The Bible.

So where is the true first recount of envy? Instead of with Cain, could it be when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge? Were they trying to elevate themselves to Judge? Do we elevate ourselves?

Think about that the next time you try to compare your actions by the actions of others. Instead, evaluate, through supplication to God, your own behavior. Keep your eyes on what you have and be grateful of your relationship with Christ Jesus.

#AskSeekFind #ProverbsChallenge #Envy

Proverbs 4: Secret to Grit?

Driven Publishing LogoI watched a great TED Talk the other day. Angela Lee Duckworth spoke of Grit being the secret of success. She ended the talk (spoiler alert) with the confession that no one knows how to teach it.

I may not know how to teach it, but I see the secret to obtaining grit in Proverbs 4. The chapter is full of not just obtaining wisdom, but embracing it, praising it, and honoring it. The chapter brings to mind one of my favorite words: Cherish.

Grit is tough and well, gritty, but there is tenderness to the word “cherish.” How can you obtain grit through such a “soft” word? Cherish describes a way to look after what is precious. Whether that is a talent, a goal, your spirit, or your heart, think of “cherish” as you proceed through your day and grit follows.

Grit: Step One

If this is not your first time reading my blogs, perhaps you remember the post on Proverbs 8: Listen In Order To Hear. If not, please read the section under the heading of “Solomon’s Prayer.”

God granted Solomon with the ability to hear Him. Is it really that simple? All I have to do is ask? Yes, you must simply ask, and No, it is only the first step. Just because you hear it, doesn’t mean you understand it. I can hear Chinese, but I have no clue what is being said. In order to understand Chinese, I must study and practice the language.

When at First We Don’t Perceive

The next step is to perceive. “Oh, It’s Chinese. I need a Chinese language expert.” Finding guidance is vital, but something must happen first…

Acknowledge Your Past

In my humble opinion, the secret of grit is to keep your eyes on what you have and not on what is missing. Notice how you have improved. Notice your wins. In other words, acknowledge your past.

The Old Testament is not just full of laws, sins, and rituals, it is full of deliverance, inspiration, and covenants of redemption. “If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us” kind of stuff (Romans 8:31).

Evaluate Your Present

Staying focused on what you have isn’t just picking flowers and enjoying the sunshine. You must have honest evaluation.

Only noticing your strengths and not your weaknesses will destroy you. This is where being humble comes in. That is two fold. If you only see the weakness of others and not in yourself, you are falsely esteeming yourself up and not wisdom (v. 8). On the other hand, if you only see the strength of others and not in yourself, you will crush your spirit. Let wisdom honor you (also v. 8)

Stay On Course

Your future is full of choices. Obtaining daily guidance from the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to light your path gives your mind focus. Keep you eyes straight ahead, take only ways that are firm, do not swerve to the left or the right (vv. 25-27) and belief in your Guide. That is the Secret of Grit.

#AskSeekFind #ProverbsChallenge

Proverbs 1: Never Stop Learning!

Driven Publishing LogoProverbs 1: Never Stop Learning!

Anyone who knows me knows I love sports. The lessons learned while participating in sports carry over into life; you cannot cram or fake it in sports. Success on the field takes discipline and patience, but also a deep desire to learn more and to be better. Though obvious in sports, it is true in life and Proverbs 1 is your call to Never Stop Learning.

Proverbs 1 Warning

You will never know all there is to know about a sport. Skills will continually need to be developed, nutrition is on ongoing experiment, and equipment always has room for improvement. Through sports we will see great feats of athleticism and courage, but also elation and heartache. We will see athletes overcome hardship and also squander opportunity…just like life.

Proverbs 1 is the warning that life is not about luck or current circumstances. It is about choices. Read Proverbs with a heart for change. Proverbs is not a book of confirmation, but rather for growth, inspiration, correction, and insight. It should be read with new eyes and the understanding that you will never learn all the lessons it contains.

One Step at a Time

Learn one lesson at a time. Gain one insight. Take one step closer to Wisdom and have the courage and discipline to adhere to her teaching. Accept where you are with the understanding that you have something profound to strive for…something that takes time to achieve. And just like sports, something to gain and eventually, something to win.

#AskSeekFind #Proverbs1 #SportofLife