March 3 – Middle of the Road

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:7-8 NIV

Having an abundance of anything increases heightened awareness. Awareness of people, places and their things, or lack thereof.

Being always responsible for making sure motives and maneuvers are above board can promote paranoia and allow bitterness and self-preservation to set in. And sad to say, this has happened to many a man who didn’t have a dime.

Too much time, too much praise, too much chocolate, whatever! We don’t do “too much” very well. One very wise and wealthy soul once shared with me his secret to a well-balanced and prosperous life.

“Lorenzo, when I feel like grabbing, that’s when I start giving by the boat-load. Because when I don’t, stuff and status get in the way of what matters most, i.e., the ones I love.”

I have no idea where today’s good word finds you. But chances are, you have amassed a wealth of something. Let God help you be honest about it…quit denying it, for crying out loud. Then, devise a plan to get back to center.

It’s ok to be loaded with good things. But it is unhealthy to be “bloated” with the weight and the worry that too often clings to those “things.”

Happy traveling!

Lorenzo

February 11 – Lack Thereof

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 29:7

It might be money, it could be time. It might be rhythm and it could be rhyme. It might be intelligence and it could be friends. Poverty comes in many forms and to all its lack, it lends.

Every one of us has something missing or something broken in this life. And the wise ones never let their luxury in one area desensitize them to the lack protruding in another.

This sort of reality does not produce “handout fever.” On the contrary, when I recognize I have enjoyed blessings, I lend a “helping hand.”

No more of this “less fortunate” stuff. We are all God’s children and all of us could use a helping hand along the way. We are the same kind of “different.”

For richer or for poorer, we are forever family…

Lorenzo

February 10 – Hit-lure

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2

Today’s proverbial thought awakens a moment in history that will affect the world as we know it forever. Leaders come and go and the truly good ones rule well and are often taken for granted because they raise few red flag warnings. They do the job entrusted them with honor and integrity.

But like the truck my son recently found on Craigslist that was “too good to be true,” there are moments in time where “too good to be true” leaders have emerged with vigor. And after the smoke cleared, there was hardly anything left but ashes.

There are several case studies to choose from, but Adolf Hitler is a classic. A decorated soldier in World War I, in many ways, he appeared to have the zeal, passion and vision to make Germany great. But something on the inside was a bit twisted.

His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the denunciation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, and the annexation of territories that were home to millions of ethnic Germans – actions which gave him significant popular support (courtesy of Wikipedia).

When a people are suffering, particularly in the area of finances, they seem to be more vulnerable of this lure by cunning ideology and “quick fix” phantoms.

Hitler’s Nazi Party became the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, leading to his appointment as chancellor in 1933. Following fresh elections won by his coalition, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism (courtesy of Wikipedia).

Any institution of merit has foundation stones. And most of the time, those stones have been well thought out, inspired and strategically placed. Caution should be strongly applied when those views and values become disregarded and or disrespected by a new set of ideas. Change is normal and necessary, but it is far better when it is an outgrowth of that which has already been.

Case in point: God never threw away the Israeli people as His chosen. He just gave birth to the Church age through them by sending Christ as a Jew. Though the “religions” stand alone and individual, the spiritual DNA of both are founded on the same stone.

Under Hitler’s leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims whom he and his followers deemed racially inferior. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war (courtesy of Wikipedia).

There was a lot of death, destruction and mayhem before the people recognized the hidden agenda. Some never did. They were so indoctrinated, the deception became their reality.

Put today’s proverb in a prominent place so it penetrates your subconscious thoughts.

And from that place…pray for those who would dare lead us.
Lorenzo

January 28 – Soul Interest

He who by charging excessive interest and who by unjust efforts to get gain increases his material possession gathers it for him [to spend] who is kind and generous to the poor. Proverbs 28:8

You don’t have to search very far to find accounts of shrewd businessmen who amassed great wealth and power. Or of those whose families turn and philanthropically share it all with the very people he used to get rich.

But what’s not so prevalent is insight into the “soul” interest and unjust efforts we common folk make every single day. Selfishly, we can be guilty of taking advantage of situations and circumstances privy to us without a thought of how it affects another.

In an effort to do better for ourselves, we steal time from our family. In an effort to advance at our work, we pursue another person’s position. And in an effort to have someone in charge that we like, we speak ill of those we don’t agree with.

Today’s proverb isn’t just about the rich getting richer and their money being given away. It’s about precious moments and precious people that are ours to love and cherish. Because if we don’t, someone else will come along and get that job done. And all that we worked for will possibly be lost.

Lorenzo

November 21 – Rich Man, Poor Man

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
 the righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
 and like a high wall in his own esteem. Proverbs 18:10-11

Fiddler on the Roof is truly a classic work. If you haven’t seen it or it’s been awhile, today’s proverbial thought might spark an interest.

Tevye the milkman is the father of five daughters and desires a better life for them…if only he were rich!

If I were a rich man,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
 All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
 If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
 Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
 If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.

He describes all the wonderful things he would buy and all the “special” people he would associate with and all the servants his wife would order around. The song is amazing!

And there are many of us, right here in the good old USA, who live as if Tevye’s song is the theme music playing in the background 24/7. More is only enough until the next shipment of more than enough comes in.

So we stack it, and stuff it, and want some more of it until it forms a wall around us. We feel safe. The economy goes south, we’re safe. Unexpected medical emergency, we are safe. Natural catastrophe, covered.

But we forget, wealth is based on what already exists. Its value is relegated to intelligible humanistic appreciation. If I have apples and no one wants apples, I have nothing. History is filled with “riches to rags stories” brought on by “unforeseen events.”

The Name of the Lord, however is quite different. How can a name protect you in times of unrest and upheaval in the world? Where can you spend it and what is its’ net worth? That’s just it.  Though it’s not from here, it created here! When you boil everything down that man has accomplished since the beginning of time, it doesn’t even come close to “buying the vowel” that holds His Name together.

If you’ve got a good thing going and it allows you to feel like you’ve made a difference in the world, great! Keep up the good work.

But don’t forget. Safety is in the tower, not behind the wall.

October 14 – And the Walls Came a Tumblin’ Down

Riches provide no security in any day of wrath and judgment, but righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God) delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4

What American could ever forget the horrible moments of September 11th? Those moments changed a nation and the world forever. I was in my office, sorting through the work for the day when the office assistant called me into the meeting room.

Some things were changed forever.

But one of the most obvious devastations went unnoticed, for the most part, in all the chaos, catastrophe, and confusion. What happened to world trade that day? How much of the financial wherewithal of the nations of the world were obliterated that day? Who knows what all went into keeping economies going on the surface with borrowed money and bailouts while financial ruin was hidden at the core.

Our modern day sophisticated fiscal maneuvers make it hard to see the cracks in a compromised wall of security. Therefore, being prepared when it crumbles is next to impossible.

That is why our ability to get wealth, manage wealth, or keep wealth is not a high priority where God is concerned. It is far too unpredictable and awfully subject to heart corruption. Not because possessions in and of themselves are bad, but because our hearts have a tendency to trust in the seen much more than the unseen.

Righteousness levels the playing field. There is nothing in the world I can do to earn my “right standing” with God. It is the by-product of His grace, His mercy and His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it makes no difference if fanatics decide to hijack a plane and slam it into the side of a building that represents the “wealth walls” of every nation and worldwide economics crumble to pieces. If your hope is anchored in God Almighty, the place you are standing will not be shaken.

October 13 – A Tale of Two Kings

When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness. Proverbs 11:2

The good book gives a historical account of two kings that ruled the children of Israel, God’s Chosen People.

The first was Saul, the son of Kish the Mighty. This young man was handsome, rich and a head taller than all of his kinsman (I Samuel 9:1-2). He had everything going for him, but when he was set in as first king of Israel, he became prideful and it ultimately caused him to lose the kingdom (I Samuel 13:13-14).

Then there was David. This would-be king was humility and servant-leadership personified. The youngest son of his father Jesse, he spent his early days watching over his father’s sheep. As a matter of fact, when the Prophet of Israel came to town to anoint the next king of Israel, David’s dad didn’t even send for him (I Samuel 16:1-13).

To date, David is known as the king of Israel that proved, even in the midst of a grave mistake, that he was a man after God’s own heart. Therefore, God Almighty paid him the highest honor any earthly king could ever wish for; He sent His only begotten Son through his lineage and one day He, the Son of God, will sit on the throne of David and rule the nations (II Samuel 7:1-29).

Pride is a funny thing. It makes you feel responsible, but it secretly undermines a complete dependence on God. The truth of the matter in the case of the two kings is David messed up much more than Saul if you measure the severity of their mistakes. The difference maker with God, however, was the attitude of their hearts. When confronted with his sin, David was broken and genuinely repentant (II Samuel 11-12). Saul, on the other hand, justified his behavior and apologized only to save face before the people (I Samuel 15).

May today find me broken rather than embarrassed. And may God find humility in my attitude rather than haughty self-defense. Though we are human, He has provided us with all kinds of help to get in a spot where He can pour on the blessings. But at the end of the day, we have to be willing before we will ever truly be obedient.