December 23 – Bottle of Insanity

Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Proverbs 23:31-32 NKJV

Addiction is nothing new, but anymore, more common than not. And of all the forms of addiction, the gateway for most is alcohol. Each week, some of the dearest men and women I know gather together as a unified force against this monster that has stolen so much of their lives.

Today’s proverb is profound and needs to be absorbed with very little “exposition.” Here is a version that I like that puts a bit of modern color on the subject:

Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with- the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” Proverbs 23:29-35 MSG

Insanity! And so many of us have been there…are there. If you consume alcohol, you must know it cannot be trusted. If you find yourself making excuses for it, chances are there’s a problem. When you look around and your life reflects brokenness and loss in the area of dear loved ones and good relationships, ask this question: Could it be the alcohol? Better yet, call up one of those people and ask them point blank, “Did my drinking have anything to do with what happened with us?”

Life is too short to live a lie. The fruit of the vine can serve a wonderful purpose, but man’s historical temptation toward abuse of its properties warrants extreme caution. Faith, family and friends are not worth the bottle of insanity.

December 5 – Step By Step

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7

Perfection is not required. Mistakes make the journey real. But an honest heart to do it right, causes even the stickiest of steps to work out in the long run.

I didn’t set out to make excuses for being late. Nor did I want to be known as argumentative and touchy when things didn’t go my way. That’s the truth. But the fact that I was just that kind of individual once upon a time is also very true.

But one day, the help I needed to “become the me I wanted to be” showed up. It came in the form of a stern word of criticism from a respectable, established man.

“You are often late. I don’t like that about you.” I quickly knee-jerked and responded with, you guessed it, a very reasonable excuse. “Son, turn around and read that sign on the back of the door.”  It read:

Tools of incompetence
that lead to monuments
of nothingness
Those good at excuses
are seldom good
at anything else

I was embarrassed, quite perturbed and shocked. But my deep desire to not be late, full of “excuses” and ill-tempered moved me to accept the correction.

That was one of the highlights of my character-carving days. And now, my children benefit from the integrity of innocent ignorance on a daily basis. Their daddy is not perfect. They know, however, when he misses it, he wants to know and he longs to make it right.

Don’t hide behind the pride of “how dare you talk to me that way” or “that’s none of your business.” If there is any validity to the claim, let it make you a “better you.”

Otherwise, bitterness will set in and one day you will look around and space is all you’ll have to keep you company!

God-loyal people, living honest lives, make it much easier for their children. Proverbs 20:7 MSG