Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Deepest Confidence

6 months ago when I read Proverbs 23 I wrote, "How I need wisdom, discipline, and understanding. How I need my eyes to keep to the way of the heart God has given me. How I need truth that is not compromised – in order to have that wisdom, discipline, and understanding. How I need wisdom to keep my heart on the right path. How I need for my lips to speak with is right in every area – from meeting strangers and looking for business connections to presentations to building relationships to planting seeds of faith to driving vision and leaders."


Today I would come to God with overwhelming gratitude – that in these recent years of so much introspective doubt, there has come a bit of a peak when I can see where i've been and where I'm going. Of course another valley and subsequent climb lies ahead of me to get to the next peak, but what a relief it is for each of us when we can be reassured we are on track and moving in the direction of God's call on our lives.


While reading the Psalms can be so affirming in this area, due to David's challenges for his very life and temptation to doubt that anointing as a young man where he believed God called him to be king, but his son Solomon was the benefit of so much inherited wisdom that rarely is defeat expressed in his writing directly. On the other hand, the frequent reminders of those "7 abominations that fill the fool's heart" (Proverbs 26:25) are repeated throughout Proverbs, and that must reflect some of Solomon's own personal temptations and defeats. Knowing he has been blessed with such abundant wisdom, it must have been so difficult for Solomon to see these evidences of the fool in his own life – in his own propensity to perhaps focus on external appearances – wives and women, houses and wealth. Also blessed with the call to build the temple, he knew God was with him – but how he struggled with temptation. And in that way, could recognize those around him who also struggled and gave into defeat.


More than anyone, Solomon recognized that wisdom was not dichotomous, but most powerful when all the pieces of the whole synergistically worked together – all those 7 pillars set on the right foundation. What I think, what I feel, what I watch, what I listen to, what I do, where I go, where I came from (inheritance) and attention to where I am going (the ultimate fear of the Lord), they all work together to make me into the wise, discerning, loving, child of God. That knows who to listen to and what to watch, that touches people's lives by reaching out with my mouth, my hands and feet – the person I was made to be.




Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quarreling – Absence of Logic

Solomon talks often about the quarrelsome wife – two references in Proverbs 21 – better to live on the corner of a roof than with a quarrelsome wifek, and second better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome wife. Those are quite some statements for a man who had it all in women, and spoken from the heart of a man which we know typically is much more tolerant with the weaknesses of the woman with whom he lives than the woman of him. The reason why most marriages are broken up by the woman walking away. Unless a man gets involved with another woman, he will rarely walk out of a marriage, though in any culture when a woman can live economically independent of a man, she often will walk away. It may be caused by the man's affair with another woman, but even in that circumstance, there are men who would opt to stay in a marriage and have the outside woman if they could. For them it feels like the best of two worlds.


So thinking about the extremes represented by the corner of the roof (poor, no influence, no comfort) and the desert (hot, lonely, thirsty), and then thinking about the woman that makes life for a man worse than these two illustrations, I was struck with the idea that quarreling is just stupid. It results in nothing. I used to think it was an emotional thing, something to do with the heart. It does usually lead to that, but it's start is just the absence of some brain pathways working correctly., No one wins, and when someone thinks they have won, they have really lost. Last night I made a directional comment to Matt, and he disagreed with me on my sense of direction. I argued, sure I must be right. He pulled up google earths on his phone to check his thinking, proceeded to draw out the illustration, and then close with google earths on my computer so I could see my error. I reluctantly said, "well you win." His immediate response, "No it's not about winning. You just confused me when you were pointing in what you said was the direction of the gas station. I would have never found it."


Rather than arguing, how much better would my attitude have been to have said, "Really? Are you sure? Show me." If he was wrong, we would have both known it, and if he was right, I would have been the teachable, open mind, looking to learn and discern the truth in every setting, without saying a word encouraging him for right thinking. And then, and only then, does everyone win.