Wild & Wily

“Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
   do not stray into her paths…”
Proverbs 7:25

King Solomon warns his son to stay far away from the wayward woman, describing her as “wily of heart.” Wonder what wily means? Here’s Mary Kassian’s definition:

A wily woman is calculating. She uses all sorts of tricks and schemes to insidiously entice, manipulate, and entrap. Desire and obsession have gripped her. She is a living, breathing, example of want.

Doesn’t exactly sound like a paragon of virtue, does she? Find out how you can avoid picking up the wily ways of the wild thing in this video segment from Mary’s Girls Gone Wise book blog.

Illustration: Moi Cody


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Grace to Give Life

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14
    

Over the past few weeks weeks, I’ve talked a lot about talking. Today, I’m just going to be quiet for a bit and let someone else share in this conversation. In the following video, Paul David Tripp, author of War of Words, presents some valuable insights to help us in our quest to subdue the untameable tongue.   

    

Photo: Andy Stafiniak    


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Who Are You Listening To?

“The thoughts of the righteous are just;
   the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.”
Proverbs 12:5

According to the Scriptures, we are faced daily with the choice of walking down one of two paths–the world’s way or God’s way. Unless we purposefully set out to find and follow God’s way, the path of life, we will eventually wander down the dangerous and deadly path of the world instead. In order to keep our feet established on the right path, author Mary Kassian reminds us that we must first ensure we’re listening to the right source of counsel.

In her book Girls Gone Wise, she says, “A Girl-Gone-Wise knows that God’s ideas are radically different from the ideas of popular culture. Therefore, she tunes out what the world has to say and intentionally tunes in to what God has to say. She recognizes her need for ongoing godly input. She ponders the path of life. She disciplines herself and is not complacent.”

Listen in as Mary explains further how a woman’s choice regarding where to get her counsel will determine whether she’ll be a Girl-Gone-Wise or a Girl-Gone-Wild. 

More info on becoming a woman of wisdom is available at the Girls Gone Wise website.

Photo: Jim Larranaga


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Time to Wise Up!

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
   and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

Proverbs 4:7-9

Mary Kassian launched her new video blog yesterday to share the message of her latest book, Girls Gone Wise. Whether you have or have not purchased the book, I think you’ll enjoy and benefit from listening in as Mary shares her insightful teaching from the book of Proverbs on the many differences between the wise and the wild woman.

Visit the Girls Gone Wise website to find more info and free resources to help you as you pursue the path of wisdom.

Illustration: Moi Cody

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Words of the Wise (Pt. 4)

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:28

Even though over two decades have passed, I can still remember the feelings all too well. Sitting in the bedroom alone, face flushed, skin tingling, and heart vainly, yet fervently wishing for the power to turn back time. My untamed tongue had gotten me in trouble once again. If only I could be granted a redo, I would start over and say something really nice instead of something so terrible to my sister! As I waited for one of my parents to come apply the rod of correction to the seat of my understanding (as one of my professors so poetically puts it), my childish mind would repeatedly echo a Nancy Kerrigan-like “Why?!! Why?!!” and wish it weren’t so exceedingly difficult to keep my mouth under control. In those early stages of life, I became well-acquainted with the sentiment of Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” 

With the passing of so many years, I wish I could say that my battle against an unruly tongue had long ago been won, but at 32 years of age, the war rages on. Since you’re human, and you’re a woman (my apologies to any rogue male readers out there), you just might know something of the difficulties of saying the right thing at the right time and in the right way. Yessiree, wrong thing, wrong time, wrong way—that’s more often the course my speech tends to follow. Another truth with which I am all too familiar: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Prov. 17:28). 

In the book of Proverbs, a distinguishing characteristic of the wise woman is seen in her ability to close her mouth. She knows well that “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Prov. 13:3). While the fool is marked by an open mouth, the wise woman is marked by open ears. She is ready to listen, learn, and receive instruction. The foolish woman, on the other hand, remains convinced that her mind is a storehouse of knowledge out of which she is obligated to share generously with all (18:2).

Perhaps you’re familiar with such a lavish giver. She may identify herself as being the blunt type, one who always speaks her mind, or the proud recipient of the gift of gab. If a thought can be expressed clearly in ten words or less, she can skillfully pack it into 50. To put it simply, she talks too much, and it gets her into trouble. I know what it’s like to be that woman. Maybe you do, too.

Although we often pass off the tendency for excessive yakking as a mere matter of personality, Proverbs portrays it as a matter of wisdom. The problem, as Proverbs 10:19 puts it, is that “when words are many, transgression is not lacking.” The simple fact is: the more we speak; the more we tend to sin.  Being well aware of this truth, the wise woman disciplines herself to guard her speech.

A simple question will help us to discern whether the words in our heart are worth conveying with our tongue: Are these words worthwhile? Of course, if we think only in terms of ourselves, our thoughts will often seem worthy of expression, so that’s why it’s important to think in terms of our Lord and our neighbors. Would our words be worthwhile in that they would bring glory to God and grace to those who hear us? If so, then they’re words worth speaking. If not, then a silent conversation with the Lord just might be of greater benefit to all.

To expand these thoughts further, we can remember the following principles taken from the New Testament. A wise woman’s speech is worthwhile when it is:

  • Guarded
  • Good
  • Germane (Not germane as in Jackson; germane as in appropriate)
  • Gracious.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We guard our mouths to prevent corrupting (literally, rotten) talk from crossing our lips; we speak words that are good for the growth of others, that are germane (appropriate) to the occasion, and that will convey the grace of God to those around us.

Because I took my alliteration medication today, let me add three reminders for how such a daunting task as developing worthwhile speech can be tackled:

Whether on the phone, on Facebook, in person, through email, wherever, and whenever, let’s make our words count. Talk less; listen more; sin less–the wise woman’s motto. ;) 

 

Here’s today’s proverb:

“He who restrains his words has knowledge,

and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 17:27

 

Related: The Sweet Taste of Sharing

 

Photo: Dimitri Castrique

Words of the Wise (Pt.3)

“An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
    but the righteous escapes from trouble.” 

Prov. 12:13    

If there’s one lesson that politicians are unquestionably qualified to teach us, it would be this–our words have consequences. Take the following example from the life of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: 

Ouch. Even though Brown’s two-facedness is inexcusable, I can’t help but feel compassion for him in this situation. Can you sympathize with him as well? Maybe your words have never been recorded and replayed for the world to hear, but you probably know what it’s like to speak before an unintended audience. When we decide to talk badly about another, our usual strategy involves checking to see who’s listening before we begin talking, but sometimes, we get the two actions reversed. And when we do, it’s never a good thing. Somehow, it’s so much more comfortable to talk about someone behind her back when she’s not actually right behind your own back!

In our series on the words of the wise, we’ve learned that our speech is important because it identifies our origin and it reveals our hearts. Additionally, the woman of wisdom understands that her words matter because they have eternal consequences. Proverbs 18:21a teaches that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” How serious is our speech? According to the Bible, it’s a life and death matter!

Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I had a tape recorder, so you could hear yourself”? For some reason the threat of having our words forever preserved often provides us with a much-needed incentive to control our speech. Think about it for a moment. How differently would you speak if you knew that, like Gordon Brown, a microphone was transmitting your every word for any and all to hear?

Most of us probably already know this truth, but we often live as though we’re entirely unaware of it—Our every word is being recorded. Jesus Himself made this fact perfectly clear:

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:34b-37)

Every careless word. Give account. Justified. Condemned. Death. Life. Eternal consequences.

For women accustomed to spewing out thousands of words each day, such thoughts should tighten even the loosest of lips. It is said that a woman once told the well-known evangelist John Wesley, “My talent is to speak my mind.” Wesley wisely replied, “Woman, God wouldn’t care a bit if you would bury that talent.” We would do well to follow Wesley’s advice and seek God’s help in laying our untamed tongues to rest.

The grave consequences of our unwise speech should act as spotlights drawing our attention not to a need to clean up our act, but to our need for a Savior who acts on our behalf. We are women of unclean lips in desperate need of the cleansing blood of the One who silently bore the punishment for every one of our careless words (Is. 53:7). Our words are powerful, yes, but Christ’s grace is infinitely more so. As we seek victory in our battle against the untamable tongue, may we rely fully upon the strength of Jesus Christ, who alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Here’s today’s proverb:    

“My son, do not lose sight of these—
   keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and they will be life for your soul
   and adornment for your neck.”

Proverbs 3:21-22

Illustration: Billy Alexander

Words of the Wise (Pt.1)

“There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”
Proverbs 20:15

Born as a Texan and raised as a Hoosier, I don’t exactly blend in with the Tar Heels among whom I currently reside. There are many ways in which my southern neighbors and I differ, not the least of which are our views on such topics as cooking and eating. What Southerners call sweet tea, I call syrup. What I call cereal, they call rabbit food. What they see as breakfast meat, I see as inedible. Yes, indeed, when it comes to matters of cuisine, I’m afraid it’s rather clear that I ain’t from around these parts.

Even if I could stomach the idea of eating a menu item that contains the words “liver” and “mush” in its name, my foreign roots would still remain entirely obvious. It’s not only what will never cross my lips that sets me apart; it’s also what comes out of my lips. Last year, after telling a lifelong North Carolinian where I was originally from, I had to suppress a smile as she responded in her thick, southern drawl, “I could tell by your accent that you weren’t from around here.”  Marked by a Midwestern “accent” such as my own, it’s unlikely anyone would question the fact that my home must be a long way from here.

Just as a Southerner would rarely be mistaken as a Minnesotan, or a Texan as a New Yorker, so too, should a Christian woman’s speech clearly identify her as being different. Whenever a woman of wisdom opens her mouth in conversation, it should be obvious to those around her that she’s a long way from home. The words she uses and the way she expresses them should reveal an otherworldly origin. Her speech should be marked by a distinctive sound, which some have referred to as the “accent of Heaven.”  The book of Proverbs is brimming with truths regarding the speech of the wise vs. the speech of the fool, and the careful application of these truths will help to distinguish us as women of wisdom rather than women of the world. Today’s article begins a series for Practicing Proverbs Mondays which will address the topic of the wise woman’s speech: What does it sound like? and How can we emulate it?

Although my speech may sound odd to my southern neighbors, if they heard my family talk, they’d know immediately why I sound the way that I do. My speech not only identifies my origin; it also reflects the family to whom I’m related. I love reading Luke’s description of how the people in Jesus’ hometown reacted to the extraordinary way in which He spoke in the synagogue, “And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” (Lk. 4:22). As Jesus spoke, those who heard him recognized an uncommon sound which grabbed their attention. How did the son of an ordinary carpenter learn to talk like that? What the people of Nazareth didn’t realize was that Jesus actually did talk like His Father, not his earthly father, but His Heavenly Father. If they were familiar with the voice of Jesus’ Father, they’d recognize immediately Whose Son He truly was.

As children of God, our speech should also reflect the accent of our Father, but we must be saturated in His Word before we can echo the sound of His voice. That’s what this series is all about—ingraining the words of our Father in our heart, so His thoughts begin to flow naturally from our lips. I hope you will join with me in studying the precious jewels to be found in the words of the wise.

 

Here’s today’s proverb:

“Listen to counsel and accept discipline,

that you may be wise the rest of your days.”

Proverbs 19:20

Photo: Vivek Chugh

Practicing Proverbs

“…let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Ephesians 5:33b

When I was young, I remember watching reruns of the old show, The Honeymooners. Even though the show was entertaining and oftentimes very funny, I remember being slightly disturbed, even as a child, at the terribly disrespectful interaction between the lead characters, Ralph and Alice Cramden. If you’ve watched the show, then you’re likely familiar with Ralph’s angry rants and threats as well as Alice’s witty responses. On one occasion, Ralph reminded his wife, “I’m the king, and you’re nothing, Alice!” As usual, Alice remained unruffled as she retorted, “That’s right, Ralph, you’re the king of nothing.”

Things haven’t changed much during the 55 years that have passed since The Honeymooners first began airing. For some reason, it seems that the married couples the American public most enjoys watching are the ones in dysfunctional relationships. Now, more than ever, husbands are regularly portrayed as world-class morons whose skulls were somehow mistakenly filled with oatmeal rather than brain matter. Fortunately, for the men (who remain generally unaware of their tragic plight in life), they are usually accompanied by women who, as the more highly evolved gender, come well-equipped to undo the damage that neanderthalic males perpetually and unintentionally inflict upon themselves and others. 

The wife’s role (if we take Hollywood’s word for it) is to tolerate, correct, clean up after, nag, mock, stand up to, humiliate, and ridicule the man with whom she chose to join in marriage. This distorted image of the feminine influence in the home would be troubling enough if it remained safely confined to a TV screen somewhere. Far more disturbing are the occasions when this beastly role is played out in real marriages and families. 

In today’s chapter of Proverbs, we see an entirely different picture of the part we should play in our husband’s lives, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones” (12:4). The noble or virtuous wife of Proverbs isn’t feistily threatening to crown her husband, she is his crown. In his commentary on Proverbs, biblical scholar Bruce Waltke says, Is the crown connotes that she is her husband’s most prominent social adornment and symbolizes her empowering him to rule.” This brings to mind the Proverbs 31 woman and the critical role she plays in her husband’s achieving high social standing (31:23). As his wise and worthy helper, she assists him in clearing the path to success instead of creating roadblocks through shameful behavior.  

If we could listen in on the speech of the excellent wife in regard to her husband, what do you suppose we would hear? Can you imagine her making jokes about her husband behind his back? Do you suppose she would use her status updates on Facebook to openly complain about him? How often do you imagine she would cut him down not only in private, but also in public? Do you think it’s very likely that she would find opportunities to get back at him by humiliating him in front of his friends?

As women, we’re naturally skilled in the area of communication. Although we would easily be defeated by men in battles of physical strength, we are often well aware of our ability to outmatch them in verbal battles. A shameful wife will make the most of such opportunities by weakening her husband with her critical, disrespectful tongue, much like a decaying disease would weaken his bones. In contrast, the excellent wife will use her words to honor, rather than harm her husband. She will praise, not provoke; revere, rather than revile; and bless instead of blame. 

Such wives are rare commodities in today’s culture. We need God’s grace if we desire to be counted among them. Fortunately for us, His grace is never in short supply.  

Here’s today’s proverb:

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,

but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:18

Photo: Jeff Crump

Practicing Proverbs

     

“…these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”     

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

You know one of the things that I really enjoy about the book of Proverbs? I love the picture of the parent/child relationship that it portrays. Moms and dads could glean a wealth of practical parenting tips by merely observing the way in which Solomon communicates with his son.      

Although it seems it should be unnecessary even to mention this point, one of the first principles of wise parenting modeled by Solomon is that mothers and fathers must communicate with their children. Sometimes it’s easy for Christian parents to become so accustomed to laying down laws and throwing around “Thou shalt nots,” that they neglect to truly communicate the important truths of life to their sons and daughters. Truly godly parents, on the other hand, will pay careful attention to the parenting modeled by the wisest parent who ever lived. Over and over again, Solomon warned his son to “hear” and “listen,” because he was constantly communicating truths worth absorbing.     

Take a casual read through the pages of Proverbs, and you’ll quickly note that Solomon had an open and honest relationship with his son. I’ve spent a significant amount of time in my life thinking about why some conservative Christian parents raise children who grow up to despise every principle they attempted to instill in them, while others rear young people who devotedly cling to the biblical truths taught them from childhood. Let me say first, I understand that ultimately, any success in parenting must always be attributed to the grace of God. Nevertheless, I have noticed a marked difference in the response of young people to their parents’ teaching when open and honest communication has been carefully established and maintained within the home than when it has not.      

Some Christian parents seem to believe that their only obligation in training their children biblically is to get them to Sunday school and church, or maybe even to enroll them in a Christian school. They set up strict guidelines for how their children will conduct their lives, exercise rigorous control over the who, what, where, when, and how of their children’s existence, all the while offering little or no explanation as to the why of it all. On numerous occasions throughout my life, I have seen young people raised in such environments fight against their constraints until the day they’re finally set free by adulthood. Like birds escaped, they fly hard and fast from anything that reminds them of the confining nature of their cold and rigid upbringing. Although these parents probably intended well, they actually end up driving their children away from the faith by failing to accurately communicate what the Christian life is really about.  

In contrast, I’ve seen other Christian parents, who have their own set of imperfections, work diligently to build and maintain lines of communication between themselves and their children. They remain warm and open in their interaction. Shortcomings are acknowledged, emotions are expressed, and communication is lively. Based on my observation, children raised in such homes are far more likely to grow up loving and respecting not only their parents, but also the biblical truths which their parents spent so much time communicating.     

God, money, friendship, work, time, sleep, debt, anger, love, deceit, marriage, sex–it seems there was no topic which Solomon felt uncomfortable discussing with his son. The same should be true of Christian moms and dads today. Don’t let the world inform your child about the major issues of life before you get around to it! Start early in building the kind of relationship with him or her which will enable the two of you to talk comfortably about any subject, framing it within the context of Scripture. Of course there will be certain topics which will be more appropriate for dads and sons or moms and daughters to discuss in detail, but in general, Christian parents should set a tone in the home that frees their children to approach them concerning any issue without fear or embarrassment.      

Once again, I point you to the writings of Solomon for instruction. Read today’s chapter, Proverbs 5, and note how this wise father frankly discussed sexual temptation, the lure of the immoral woman, and the pleasures of the sexual relationship within marriage. Knowing well the battles his son would one day face, Solomon carefully and deliberately provided his son with the who, what, where, when, how, and why of these vital issues. Follow his example by speaking openly, honestly, and repeatedly to your children regarding the truths about life and how they can live it for the glory of God. While many voices will seek to influence your children about their present and future choices, it is your voice, speaking God’s truth, that they desperately need to hear. 

 

Here’s today’s proverb:

“My son, be attentive to my wisdom,

incline your ear to my understanding.”

Proverbs 5:1

Photo: Roxinasz

Wisegirls Win!

Happy April…uh, wait a minute. What could be happy about being a fool? Or about a day named in honor of fools? As you know, I don’t think foolishness is anything to celebrate, neither is tomfoolery, foolhardiness, or anything else with fool in its name. Except maybe foolproof. That one’s ok. Hmmmm…but I do like to celebrate… What to do? What to do?

Ok, this isn’t terribly clever, but in order to serve my purpose in this post, let’s rename this day April Wisegirl’s Day. See, I told you it wasn’t very clever, and it’s not catchy either. But I have a gift I want to give away, and I need a special occasion to warrant my giving. So, April Wisegirl’s Day it is.

Happy April Wisegirl’s Day! In honor of this special occasion, I’m giving away Mary Kassian’s brand new book, Girls Gone Wise. Here’s a description:

Girls have gone wild! And we’re not just talking about someone from the romance novel or star from the latest hit movie. She’s the girl next door, your best friend, or someone in your family.  She may even be you.

That’s because the longing, the thrill, and the fun is real. Very real.  Mary Kassian isn’t naive to that.  But she knows there’s another side to it–the devastation and heartache being wild can bring.  Her insights from Proverbs on the differences between a saucy, seductive Wild Thing and a smart, biblically-savvy Wise Thing is a must read. Every minute you spend here will help you–or someone you love–replace the emptiness and guilt of being wild with the power of living out God’s spectacular design for women.   

But be prepared.  This isn’t your grandmother’s handbook on etiquette.  It’s God’s Word powerfully unfolded by someone He’s commissioned to speak the truth in love.  You’ll be captivated, challenged, and impassioned to be far more than the world’s model of the perfect woman.  Read this book and apply its principles and you’ll become something your Heavenly Father and Friend has always intended you to be:  A Girl Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.

If you’d like to enter to win this book, the process is quite simple. Just add a comment to this post, telling me what your favorite verse from Proverbs is and why. If you don’t have one, then just pick one out; I won’t mind.  ;) You do have to name a biblical proverb to qualify though. “The early bird catches the worm,” just won’t cut it.

At midnight tonight (EST), I’ll use random.org to choose a truly random number from the total number of comments posted. If your number is chosen, I’ll send you the book. It’s that easy.

Go ahead, wisegirls, name your proverb!

Practicing Proverbs

“The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
   but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”

Proverbs 17:24

I’ll never forget my first visit to the eye doctor. I may have been around ten or eleven years old as I sat in a darkened room squinting at the eye chart while the doctor awaited the obvious answer to the standard question. Of course, I knew that the first letter on the chart had to be an “E.” Trouble was, I couldn’t actually see it. Later, my mom told me she overheard one of the doctor’s assistants whisper to another in the hall, “That little girl can’t read the Big E!” Although the severity of my vision impairment came as a shock to those who could actually see, I was quite accustomed to living my life without the assistance of visual clarity. But everything changed for me after that day. Once I was equipped with eyeglasses, that great big, blurry world I’d always known finally came into focus. 

 It’s amazing how much more difficult life is with blurred vision. Simple tasks such as reading or driving become significantly more challenging. Black and white words on a page swirl together in a mass of gray. Lines on the road that distinguish one lane from another and street signs that keep you headed in the right direction are much easier to miss. Depending on how poor your vision actually is, your world can become downright dangerous. Clear vision is a key to safety.

As it is with driving, so it is with living. If we want to stay on the right course, we must have accurate vision. Have you ever observed someone who manages her life much like a visually impaired person driving without glasses? Instead of moving in a straight, consistent path, she swerves back and forth throughout the course of her life as though unable to see where she’s going. She gets in a relationship with a guy who’s obviously no good and suffers all manner of emotional turmoil due to her poor choice. Finally, to your great joy, she breaks it off. But before you finish heaving your sigh of relief, you discover she’s started a relationship with another guy who’s just as bad as the first! Or perhaps you’ve known someone who’s terrible with her money, finds herself buried in debt, and is constantly stressed out over her finances. Somebody helps her out, teaches her how to budget, and slowly, she gets herself above water. She’s happy; you’re happy until…she shows up in front of your house honking the horn on her brand new set of wheels, and your short-lived happiness over her recent financial baby steps comes to a screeching halt.

What such a woman needs is glasses for her mind. Her ability to make decisions, her spiritual vision, is seriously impaired, and she needs clear thinking if she’s going to find and remain on the path of prudence in the future. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” The wise woman knows that she can’t trust her own defective vision to guide her; she needs wisdom to point her in the right direction.

Listen to the world’s advice, and you’ll soon become convinced that there are no blacks and whites in life; it’s all just a changing mass of grays. My truth is my truth, and your truth is your truth. There are no absolutes, or so they try to tell us.

But check out the book of Proverbs and you’ll observe an entirely different picture of the world—good and evil, righteousness and wickedness, wisdom and foolishness, truth and falsehood, light and darkness. Surprisingly, you’ll find that a lot of the grays in life are taking sides; some are black and others are white. Lady Wisdom guides you to two starkly different paths—the way of wisdom or the way of evil. Suddenly, the choices you should make seem so much clearer! Like putting on glasses for the first time, you’re finally able to discern clearly between right and wrong, good and evil, better and best.

Looking through the lenses of wisdom, you’ll discover a clearly marked path to lead you safely through this dark and complicated world: 

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;

they do not know over what they stumble…

Let your eyes look directly forward,

and your gaze be straight before you.

Ponder the path of your feet;

then all your ways will be sure.

Do not swerve to the right or to the left;

turn your foot away from evil.

(Proverbs 4:18-19, 25-27) 

Study the book of Proverbs. It’s like glasses for your mind.

Here’s today’s proverb:

“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,

but happy is he who keeps the law.”

Proverbs 29:18

Photo: Brybs

Practicing Proverbs

“Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’
   and call insight your intimate friend.”

Proverbs 7:4

When I was a little girl, I remember longing for the day when I would be given permission to answer the phone. It seemed like such an incredibly exciting activity to me. How could I know that my excitement was so seriously overblown? These days, when my home phone rings, there’s a 50/50 chance that I’m going to answer it. Even though my husband and I have had our phone number for a couple of years now, we still get calls from debt collection agencies trying to reach the guy who had the number before us. As many times as we’ve told them that Arthur doesn’t live here, they just don’t seem to get the message! That’s where the ol’ Caller ID comes in very handy. My sister’s number shows up, and I’m going to answer. But when 1-800-DETS-R-US calls, probably not.

In life, there are some calls we should take, and others we should definitely ignore. In the pages of Proverbs, Solomon tells us of two such callers. The first caller is someone that Solomon loves talking about. You’ll see her mentioned over and over again throughout his writing. It’s Lady Wisdom, and she’s trying to get through to each one of us: “Does not wisdom call and understanding lift her voice?” (Prov. 8:1). Think of Lady Wisdom like one of your favorite friends whose call you’d never want to miss. Her voice is strong and sweet, her words are pleasant, and her counsel is trustworthy. Listening in on what she has to say has always helped to smooth the rocky paths of your life.

Proverbs 9 tells us that when Lady Wisdom calls, she has something exciting to tell us. She’s having a party, and we’re invited. She’s just built the most beautiful home. It’s huge, and there’s plenty of room for all of us to attend. She’s sending out invitations all over the city saying, “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!…Come, eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding” (Prov. 9:5-6).

But someone else is also calling and hoping we’ll answer. She, too, has an invitation, and she’s doing her best to let everyone know about it. This caller is the Woman of Folly, and she wants to convince you to come to her party instead. With her boisterous voice and ways, she knows how to draw attention to herself, and even how to have a good time. Like Lady Wisdom, the Woman of Folly is making an offer of her own, “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,…Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (9:16-17).

Hmmm…when both women are calling, which one should you answer? Invitations to two parties–whose do you attend? Solomon makes the answer crystal clear. At Lady Wisdom’s party, you’ll feast on meat and wine, but the Woman of Folly offers only bread and water. Sounds a bit like prison food, doesn’t it? But it gets worse. Stick around with the Woman of Folly and you’ll not only dine on prison fare, you’ll eventually end up on death row. The terrible secret she attempts to hide by sweetening her cheap food is that “the dead are there…her guests are in the depths of Sheol” (9:18). Once again, Lady Wisdom’s offer wins out, “[B]y me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you” (9:11).

As it turns out, the choice between answering the call of wisdom or the call of foolishness is really the choice between life and death. By studying the book of Proverbs, you’ll learn to recognize the beautiful sound of wisdom’s voice. She’s calling you now.

Are you answering? 

 

Here’s today’s proverb:

“The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD

are riches, honor, and life.”

Proverbs 22:4

Photo: Marcin Jochimczyk

Practicing Proverbs

“She opens her mouth in wisdom, 

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

Proverbs 31:26

One of my closest friends from college was married this weekend, and I had the joy of being able to attend his wedding. Although I didn’t have a chance to meet the bride before the wedding, my friend had described her in glowing terms as “the best woman he knew.” As friends of the bride expressed their gratitude and heartfelt admiration for her at the reception, it became clear that the groom was not the only one who held this young lady in such high regard. Her friends described her as their rock, the one they could always go to for advice. They said that when they had a problem, they knew that she was the one who could offer them wise counsel based on God’s Word. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to find that my friend had chosen his life’s companion so well.

It would be a high honor indeed to have another describe you with such words. The good news is that if you know Jesus Christ, you, too, can become a woman worthy of such description. James 1:5 provides us with a wonderful promise, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Wisdom, the ability to live life skillfully, is not something that comes naturally to us. We must seek after it, believing wholeheartedly that it is truly more valuable than any amount of riches this world could offer.

Do you want to be a woman of wisdom? Then I encourage you first, to ask God for wisdom, and second, to study the book of Proverbs. Through His Word, our generous God has opened wide to us the storehouse of divine wisdom. Let’s not allow such wealth to go to waste!

From today’s chapter, Proverbs 15:

“The lips of the wise spread knowledge;

not so the hearts of fools.”

Proverbs 15:7 (ESV)

Practicing Proverbs

“Take my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choicest gold.”

Proverbs 8:10

When I was a teenager, I did something I’ll never regret. Over the course of a year, one chapter at a time, I memorized and recited the book of Proverbs. Before I give you the false impression that I was an especially heavenly-minded teenager just looking for ways to spur on her spiritual growth, let me explain why I began this project. At the Christian school that I attended, students took part annually in a state and national competition that had Bible memorization as a category. The Golden Apple award was given to students who had successfully committed the book of Proverbs to memory over the previous year. I liked getting medals and lots of ‘em, so I’m sure that the idea of adding another to my collection probably had a little something to do with my motivation…

Although I have long forgotten the exact words of many of the proverbs, the principles behind them have stuck with me through the years, and I truly believe that they have made a tremendous difference in my life. Last year as part of my study of biblical counseling, I was able to take a class on the use of Proverbs in counseling. Taking that course deepened my love for this particular book of the Bible and emphasized again to me how incredibly life-changing the truths of Proverbs are to those who apply them. The book of Proverbs is part of what is known as the Wisdom literature of Scripture, and as you read the book, you’ll understand why. The theme of getting wisdom and avoiding foolishness is repeated over and over throughout its pages. It’s important to note that the wisdom taught in Proverbs is the exact opposite of the “wisdom” we’re constantly being taught by the world. John MacArthur defines wisdom as “the skill of living a godly life as God intended man to live.” Perhaps you’re like me, and you want that kind of skill to characterize your life. Then, let me encourage you to join me in making the study of Proverbs a regular part of your walk with Christ.

For many years now, my sister and I have used a little Bible reading technique that was passed on to us from our dad. Since the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters in it, if you read one chapter a day, you’ll read through the entire book every month (adding an extra chapter during the shorter months). For instance, since today is March 8th, you would read Proverbs 8, then tomorrow, read Proverbs 9, and so on. If you’ve never had the opportunity to become thoroughly acquainted with Proverbs, then I can assure you that using this method will prove very beneficial to you. 

Each Monday, I’m going to highlight a particular proverb from that day’s chapter, and I encourage you to join me in adding that verse to your memory. With our busy schedules, it can be very easy to forget to make Scripture memorization a part of our regular routine, so I’d like to use this blog to make hiding God’s Word in our heart something of a team effort. I find it’s so much easier to stick with a new activity if I know other people are working towards the same goal and can help me to stay faithful. Maybe you, too, would enjoy a little companionship in this endeavor. Although I can’t offer you a gold medal here on earth for your accomplishments, don’t let that hold you back. As good ol’ King Solomon reminds us, the payoff for gaining wisdom is “better than fine gold” (Prov. 3:14).

Here’s today’s proverb:

“For wisdom is better than jewels;

and all desirable things cannot compare with her.”

Proverbs 8:11

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