October 27 – Trouble in River City

Become wise by walking with the wise;  hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. Proverbs 13:20 MSG

One of my favorite musicals is “The Music Man.” I’ve almost convinced our children that a musical is a work of art, but it’s an ongoing process. The life lessons available through a few ingenious songs are simply invaluable (the catchier the tune, the better . . . thank you Rodgers and Hammerstein)!

Well, if you know this story, you know that the townspeople of River City, Iowa, are mighty concerned about their young people.  Professor Hill has given them a hint about the town’s new billiard parlor and the trouble brewing as a result of it.  The whole musical centers around the community working to steer their youth towards the positive endeavor of a band.  Even though the Professor turns out to be a phony, his feeble efforts do help the kids make better choices and the band makes a debut. And amazingly, the kids influence the Professor to come clean and tell the truth for the first time ever.

Our lives will be the result of our associations.  How wise the Proverbs continue to be, thousands of years from the time they were written.  Though the trouble in River City seems small in comparison to our world, the concept still rings true.  The wise man looks perceptively at the one he calls “friend.”

The influence of those we hold close and dear can make or break the hopes we have for our days on earth. If we surround ourselves with fools, then fools we will become.  But walking with the wise means wisdom is on her way to meet us.  And that beats trouble any day.

August 20 – Blessed Boundaries

For length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you. Proverbs 3:2

Young James Byron died way too soon. In his short 24 years of life, he managed to make an indelible mark on a nation.

Known to the world over as James Dean, this young man starred in only three major films between the years 1955-56 and was the first actor to ever receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and still remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations.

Fascinating and sad, James’ story unfortunately presents a very common epidemic in our midst. Through no fault of his own, little Jimmy was horribly wounded at a young age by the death of his mother, whom he was very close to. Because his father couldn’t manage to care for him without the help of his wife, James was sent away.

As I look over the history of this now iconic soul, I find three keepsakes that bear tremendous insight.

One, family plays a major role in guiding, directing, and protecting us (especially in the formative years) from destructive elements in life.

Two, each of us come into this world with a gift-set uniquely ours. And boundaries, or the lack thereof, constitute the degree to which those gifts will be realized.

And three, there is never a shortage of misguided fellows who will be willing to take advantage of one’s disadvantages. Misery is a vampire that thrives on the innocent ignorance of the misguided soul.

Today’s Proverb reminds and refreshes me, because it reiterates once again the role of the guard rails and fences along my path. They are not there to keep me pinned in, but arranged in such a way as to keep devastation out. My moments here on planet earth are few and somewhat fleeting. Therefore, I cannot afford to be labeled another legendary “gone too soon.”

And neither can you!