September 18 – The Blame Game

His own iniquities shall ensnare the wicked man, and he shall be held with the cords of his sin. Proverbs 5:22

I’ve done some really dumb stuff…I mean life threatening stuff, in my lifetime. Like the time I almost fell off the side of a cliff. I was about forty feet up on a nice rock climb when, all of a sudden, everything went negative. There was nothing to grab and I had no harness. I truly thought I was about to die. All I could see underneath me was a sea of trees growing out of the side of the mountain.

When I could hold on no longer, I let go. Well, almost. Right before I did, a belay rope hit me on the top of my head. Somebody heard me and came to my rescue. What a miracle, right? I mean, I wouldn’t have been here to write this account if that “angel” hadn’t come to my rescue.

That’s true, but I left out some pretty significant details. See, I was a counselor for a group of boys. And as they were doing their climbs (secure climbs) I decided I would break off from the group and show my buddies (the other counselors) my “climbing skills.” Though I had very little experience, my first climb felt so natural and I felt confident I could do it solo.

Now, doesn’t that shed a little light on the subject? If I had broken my neck that day, it would have been tragic. And a host of people (my kiddos!) would have never graced this planet with their beautiful faces. But it would be quite irresponsible of me or anybody else to lay that potential misfortune on God.

I played the fool and God played the gracious Judge. We all have our “cliff-hanger” moments, but freedom comes when we can see our foolishness and mismanagement as the culprit and not God’s “mysterious ways.”

The Message Translation puts it this way…I like it:

Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; he’s aware of every step you take. The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
  you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
  your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end. Vs.21-23

I’m so ashamed of the times I’ve played the “blame game,” Lord. Today is a new day. Amen.

And thanks for all the times You’ve “saved my bacon!”

September 12 – Turkish Delight, and Other Sweet Nothings

The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth.  But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. Proverbs 5:3-4 MSG

Any of us may battle some sort of addictive challenge. And though today’s Proverb refers to the “seductive woman,” the picture in view is anything that takes possession of your mind, will, and emotions.

No one is exempt. It may not be alcohol, but it might be anger. It might not be drugs, but it might be greedy gain…never enough. And it might not be pornography, but it might be religion. We all are susceptible to some type of subtle seduction.

In my own life, I have had to shake myself out of a few unconscious comas over the years. And no matter what it was, I first had to see it was a problem for me. Verse 2 of Proverbs 5 talks about exercising discrimination and discretion in order to guard and keep wisdom. Therefore the realization often came when I got tired of the bad taste of something that used to seem so sweet.

At that point, the lion’s share of the battle was won. Then God could spiritually nudge and navigate me step by step to wholeness and health.

All around us is divine destiny calling us to live life “loud” and unencumbered. And all around us there is a devious deception crawling about lusting for just the right moment to steal a piece of freedom from each and every one of us.

If today finds you pushing through the dark clouds of addiction, know that God has not forsaken you, we are all here, and you are not alone. When you are desperate to be done with the deception, say it! Then watch for the way out. . . from within.

September 1 – Like a Good Neighbor

Withhold not good from those to whom it is due [its rightful owners], when it is in the power of your hand to do it. Proverbs 3:27 AMP
Some time ago, God helped me see that when it came to my fellow man, instead of seeing them as my brother,” I treated them like “just another.” My attitude could be characterized as “that ain’t my problem.”

Then something happens like your wife and your little ones have a flat on the highway and you are several hours away. You’ve got insurance, you’ve got AAA, but you have no control over the situation.

Will anybody stop to check on her? What kind of “anybody” will that anybody be? How will the service people treat my precious cargo in my absence? All of a sudden, you find yourself thinking and praying really hard about your “brother.”

Today’s Proverb is a bit stiff and sobering. But I think it’s a tad more digestible contextually in the more laid back Message translation:

Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow” when the money’s right there in your pocket. Proverbs 3:27-28 The Message

My hands, our hands, are God’s hands for our neighbors, our brothers, and our fellow man. From time to time on this journey, even the king’s carriage breaks down. So may we be found being neighborly to the brother, who in God’s eyes, is not just “another.” He is a major part of the story.

August 13 – Vain Attraction

 

My son, if sinners entice you, do not con­sent.   Proverbs 1:10

entice– attract to tempt by offering pleasure or advantage.

I feel as though God would be pleased if I dug a little deeper beneath the surface of this Proverb and acknowledged some of the places and some of the things that steer me off course. At this very moment, I am on high alert with my diet. Some time back, I got in the habit of eating quite a bit of pure “junk.”  My justifiable ex­cuse was “I’m too busy to sit down and eat right now. I’ll just grab these cookies and coke for lunch.”

And the sleep factor in this stage of my life is an ongoing battle. Even though I know how important a full night’s sleep is to my health, if I am not paying strict attention, 10 PM turns to 2 AM in a flash.

You and I are the same in that “sinners” are constantly before us begging us to trade ageless wisdom for temporary pleasure. Don’t be discouraged. Half the battle is in the identification of the problem.

God is not ashamed of our human-ness. But on the other side of that coin, He knows what we are capable of and He chooses not to leave us “stuck on stupid.”  We wear wis­dom well when we wear it. So these in­structions are here to help us excel to higher heights and at the same time protect us from sly self-destruction at the hand of a masterful enticer!