October 22 – Living From Hand to Mouth

From the fruit of his words a man shall be satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hands shall come back to him [as a harvest]. Proverbs 12:14 AMP

Old Zan and I quickly became friends. Every couple of months or so he would come by the church hustling a “few dollars.” Most of the time we would give him enough to stay out of too much trouble and send him on his way.

But one day, I decided to bring him in my office and learn a little bit of his story. I was serving a church in Oklahoma City at the time as an Administrative Pastor and I was located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town. Zan was one of many recipients who frequented the doors of that church in need of basic food, clothing, and shelter.

What I learned that day changed my perspective on the poor. For all practical purposes, on the surface, Zan appeared pretty needy. But in all actuality, through his disability check and other benefits he received from his military service days, we were clearing about the same amount. That was a wake-up call for sure.

So why was I working at the church while he was begging from the church? Why was my money feeding and clothing seven people at that time and he wasn’t even covering himself? It was because my friend was a broken man on the inside. I don’t know if there were issues before his accident in the service, but in an effort to heal up, addiction to the meds set in and never let him go.

At the time, that was all new to me. But any more, Zan’s story is commonplace. Though he never let me in deep enough to help with the real “monster,” he did hang around long enough to change some of his conversation about himself and his attitude about using his hands constructively…even if he couldn’t do what he used to could do before he got hurt.

In this life, things happen and sometimes they are life-altering and unfortunate. But today’s Proverb assures that if we will find ourselves saying the right things with our mouths, doing the right things with our hands will happen. And we will look up from the ashes and see a harvest of good things all around us.

October 20 – The Angler’s Way

The fruit of the [uncompromisingly] righteous is the tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men – he gathers and receives then for eternity]. Proverbs 11:30 AMP

It finally rained! And now, I can prepare my garden for some late fall planting or winterization for spring. So the other day, my kids were down in the half acre oasis checking to see if the few weeds we had were going to cooperate and extract easily.

In the process, they unearthed an abundance of plump, juicy worms. Normally, we like to keep those little productive guys working on the soil, but with so many, my gang had a brilliant idea. “Let’s go fishing!”

For me, there are three basic keys to catching fish: bait, tackle, and timing. No matter what kind of fish you are out to catch or the location where you are going to catch them, bait, tackle, and timing will either increase or decrease your rate of success.

This has, for me, become a mandatory skill set for about everything I do in life. So, if you are going to get along, move ahead, or bring change, you have to know how to “catch people.”

The first key is bait (food). It represents things of interest to the persons you are endeavoring to reach. It is what makes sense and relevancy in their world. For instance, I have a group of friends who are undergoing some intense training for career advancement. They have a series of tests and qualifications they have to complete before they can graduate from one phase to the next. And for them, when I show up on a qualification day it speaks volumes. That’s the good kind of bait. It’s all about letting others know you care, for real!

Using the same analogy, the second key is tackle. It’s reflective in taking time out of my day, driving my car, and offering a place to train and prepare during the week’s class.

And the final key, timing, is just that, making time at the right time. In the case of my friends, timing is as important as any of the keys. And that is what makes it fishing. You can’t just generically put a schedule together and check off some boxes if you plan on “catching fish.” You have to put in some time and get to know your pond, and . . . love your fish.

The keys work whenever they are “righteously” applied. And a good fisherman lives for the times he or she can do just that…fish!

October 17 – What a Way to Live

There are those who [generously] scatter abroad, and yet increase more; there are those who withhold more than is fitting or what is justly due, but it results only in want. Proverbs 11:24 AMP

We have a special place we love to eat on an occasional date. It has great Mexican food and even greater service. Out here in western Oklahoma, we treasure our good restaurants (they can be few and far between).

Our favorite waitress is there almost every time we go. She is raising a couple of sweet children and working hard for their future. Her story always stays with us, long after the meal is over.

Every person crosses our path for a reason. It would be tragic to miss those moments to give, wherever and whenever the occasion arises. Our waitress touches our heart time and again with her giving service, but at the same time, we are moved to give back to her. If we’re able, we want our tip to be big and our smiles even bigger.

“Paying it forward” isn’t just a new-fangled idea from a Hollywood movie. It’s an age-old principle from the Word of God. It’s how God works and it’s how our lives can work if we live and move by His direction.

If we live by how we give, the next blessing is always around the corner.