WISE SAYING #24

Posted October 24, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 24:16 “… though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again …”

We try it first, as children, learning to walk. The first step brings the thrill of victory … but also the agony of defeat. That first step is such progress – over laying in the crib or crawling on the floor – but just the before the second step all progress comes crashing down – literally. That first step brings a sense of accomplishment and independence … but just before the second step – failure and cries for “Momma”. All hope is gone!

But in spite of our failure – our pain – our depression we get up and try it again and again and again – until we get it right.

We gain so much from this experience that we apply it to other challenges: learning to talk – learning to walk – learning to ride a bike – learning to drive a car, and even more important life skills, like managing our anger – loving our mates – raising our children.

It works!

Enough of that …

It makes sense … doesn’t it … that if the spark God ignited in all of us – the spark that drives us to endure the bumps and bruises – to overcome the mistakes and missteps to finally walk and talk – worked and has worked for all time, that God would expect the same for our feeble efforts to “walk in His steps”[i]?

The wisdom of God says, “… though a righteous man falls …”. No need for an “if” – but rather a “when”, because it is going to happen. Note every righteous man that ever lived (except one – our Lord) fell … every one of them: Noah – Abraham – Moses – David – Paul. You can keep looking – but God already settled this point, “All men have sinned and fallen …”.[ii]

I didn’t have to read that verse about falling … because I have “fallen” … more than “seven times”.

But the wisdom of God also says of the righteous man who falls – that, “… he rises again …”. I want to be that man … that no matter how often I fall … I will rise again … again … again … until I learn to walk “in His steps” and make it to that time and place where I will never fall.[iii]

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 24; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to learn to walk with the Lord … no matter how many times I fall – no matter how many times I have to get up and try some more.

Wise saying #24 – “TRY SOME MORE.”

P.S. Day Twenty-Four … read Proverbs 24. Want some homework?

  1. Review the history of every man or woman, who tried to walk with God. What mistakes did they make, and how did they overcome those missteps?
  2. Review your own history. Have you ever overcome a mistake? How did you do it? Now – DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN! Do not give up on God, because He is not going to give up on you.

 [i] 1 Peter 2

[ii] Romans 3

[iii] 2 Peter; Jude

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WISE SAYING #23

Posted October 23, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 23:32 “In the end it bites like a snake …”

I am a licensed counselor. Some of my clients are juvenile offenders, who have been incarcerated in the detention and treatment center where I work. One of my duties is to conduct a weekly group therapy session with an emphasis on Substance Abuse.

Most, if not all, are habitual drug and/or alcohol abusers. Many of them, if not most, come from families where both parents and even siblings are also alcoholics and/or addicts. So, you can only imagine some of the things that I hear when the members of the group are having serious conversations about their past experiences and about their intentions to do things differently in the future.

During one group session, I asked the group to develop their own 12 Step program, hoping that they would select things that would apply personally to them and affect them just like the original Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps has worked for those who have worked them. Each member was to give a step – a reason to not use alcohol or other drugs with an explanation as to why it would help them stay clean and sober.

When it was Rafe’s turn (though that is not really his name and not necessarily his gender), he sat quietly for a long time. (I was beginning to wonder if he was even willing to participate, because we had some trouble with that problem in the past.) Finally, he looked up – spoke up, “Drunk ain’t good!” Of course, every laughed; but when he begin to explain why he thought that step would help him stay sober, the laughing stopped and every member of the group began to add to Rafe’s reasons some of their own. It was a very rewarding moment for this old man.

Enough of that …

It makes sense … doesn’t it … that I would write “drunk ain’t good” in the margin of my Bible in Proverbs 23:29-35? It is in these words of wisdom that God basically asserts the same truth: “Drunk ain’t good!” Look at the words: “woe” … “sorrow” … “strife” … “complaints” … “needless bruises” … “bloodshot eyes” … “bites like a snake” … “poisons like a viper” … “strange sights” … “imagine confusing things” … “will wake up so I can find another drink”.

But haven’t we seen the truth – the reality – of that wisdom in our own lives and in the lives of the people we love. Isn’t it obvious when we consider the divorces – diseases – unwanted pregnancies – car wrecks – abused mates – abused and/or neglected children – lost jobs – lost souls – dead children – dead marriages – dead husbands and fathers – dead wives and mothers – that “drunk ain’t good”?

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 23; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to alert my children and grandchildren (yours too) to the dangers of that snake that lives in the poison that pours from cold beer cans or fancy shaped bottles. I also want to stop the shallow … fruitless … pseudo-spiritual … foolish … theological debate about as to whether or not it is a “sin” to drink and if not, how much is too much? What is the point of such posturing when the Lord God has already given His eternal wisdom on the matter?

 Wise saying #23 – “DRUNK AIN’T GOOD.”

 P.S. Day Twenty-Three … read Proverbs 23. Want some homework?

  1. If you drink … stop … for your sake … for your children’s sake … for the Lord’s sake.
  2. Make a list of reasons that God (and Rafe) are right – that “drunk ain’t good”. Make it as specific and personal as you can. Make sure that you pass it on to your children and grandchildren.

WISE SAYING #22

Posted October 22, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go …”

There are some things in my life that just seem to come naturally – don’t have to think about them – just do them as a matter of routine. Things like: take a shower – brush my teeth – tie my shoes – eat breakfast – go to work – pay bills – take out the trash – come home after work – rinse out my glass after drinking milk – be respectful to others – pray – read my Bible – go to church – call my dad – hang my car keys on the hook by the door – change the oil in my car every 3000 miles – check the locks and the thermostat before I go to bed – and a multitude of things.

The reason those things (and others) come naturally? My parents trained me to do those things (and more).

I saw my parents doing the same things – over and over again – for days and weeks and months and years (60 or so). Before they ever told me what to do (and they had to do that – over and over again, as well), I knew what I was supposed to do or to beginning when I became a man – husband – father – grandfather.

But I not only saw them do those things (and more) – I had them teaching me what to do and how to do it – reminding me of what I was supposed to do and when (which was usually “right now”. Even had some instruction as to why I should be doing those things, which was usually something like, “Because I said so”.

So – not only did I hear the what – why – how – when … I saw it demonstrated by the people, who I loved the most. But I also had their help in learning it – their patience, as I tried to get it right – their discipline when I didn’t listen or respond – their love and support even after the mistake or the “laying on of the hands.”

Enough of that …

It makes sense … doesn’t it … that if God wants us to “train” our children, that He would tell us plainly what He wants for them – of them … that He would demonstrate it clearly how He wants it? Isn’t that exactly how we see Jesus being raised? Isn’t Jesus the teacher and example for all the Father’s expectations for us and for our children?

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 22; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to renew my commitment to imitate Jesus, because I want to be a son in whom the Father can be “well-pleased”[i]. And as I do those Jesus-things over and over again, teach and remind and encourage my children and grandchildren to do the same, because He said so.

Wise saying #22 – “TRAIN YOUR CHILD.”

P.S. Day Twenty-Two … read Proverbs 22. Want some homework?

  1. What do you want your children to do … to become? Make a list – be specific and personal. Then – show them how – over and over again.
  2. Don’t start by telling them what you want them to do. Show them, and then when you start the teaching, do it like the Father does and my parents did, with love and patience and mercy – but also with expectation.

 [i] Luke 3

WISE SAYING #21

Posted October 21, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 21:21; “… who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

When I was a boy, I wanted to play football – basketball – baseball – just like my dad had done and my older brothers were doing. But I was too small – too slow – too passive.

My brothers and I played all the time. I wasn’t very good – certainly not as good as any of them (even the younger brother), but I was always included. We didn’t just play it … we watched it on TV, living and dying with the Cowboys – Celtics – Yankees.

When I was about to start the 7th Grade – which was when I could start playing “real” football with pads, helmet, and a uniform with a number on it – my mother took me for a walk to explain to me that I would probably not make the team, so I should prepare myself not to be too disappointed. That is when she explained that I was really just too small – too slow – too passive (though I think she used the word “nice” instead of “passive”).

I understood what she meant, and I appreciate (now) that she was trying to protect me from disappointment; but I was beyond determined. I had read that if you ran everywhere you went, you would get faster – so I ran everywhere. I had heard that if you stretch and flex, you would get taller and stronger – so I stretched and flexed all of the time. I had seen my brother do push-ups, sit-ups, and side-straddle-hop (never called them “jumping jacks”) – so I did the same.

I was obsessed with the preparation – intent on getting to play “real” football. It changed my eating habits, bed time, and just for fun time. It changed my life in many ways. And I got to play. I was a starter on every team – every year I played “real” football – even though my coaches confirmed regularly that I was too small – too slow – too passive.

Enough of that …

It makes sense … doesn’t it … that if I could “pursue” a game with that kind of fervent and fanatic zeal, that I could – would do the same for the Lord and the life He promises to those who “pursue” Him?

Haven’t I read of Abraham – Joseph – Moses – David – Paul (among others) who pursued His will and wisdom? Haven’t I heard of the amazing things God worked in and through them, because they were willing to do whatever He wanted – whenever He wanted it. Haven’t I seen him bring the blessings of “life, prosperity and honor” upon those who “pursue righteousness and love”.

Would it be possible for me – still too small – too slow – too passive – spiritually, to “hunger and thirst after righteousness”[i] and be “filled”? Would it be possible for me to “strain forward” and “reach for the prize”[ii] and take hold of the purpose for which He has taken hold of me? Would it be possible for me – even me – to “run to win”[iii] the crown – the glory that does not fade?

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 21; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to grow up. I want to “pursue” those things that matter most – not some childish game – not some temporary goal – not some hollow or meaningless vanity. I want to become a fanatic about finding and possessing (and being possessed by) “righteousness and love” and experience the “life, prosperity and honor” promised by the God who has fulfilled that promise to others and has never failed on any promise He has ever made to anyone – even me.

 Wise saying #21 – “GROW UP!”

P.S. Day Twenty-One … read Proverbs 21. Want some homework?

  1. Start with “righteousness”. Do things right today. Whatever is the next right thing – do it … regardless of the consequence. Become a fanatic about doing what is right!
  2. Start with “love”. Be “patient” – “kind” – do “not envy” – do “not boast” – do not be “proud” – do not be “rude” – do not be “selfish” – do not be “easily angered” – do not keep any “record of wrongs”. Become a fanatic about doing what is “love”.

[i] Matthew 5

[ii] Philippians 3

[iii] 1 Corinthians 9

WISE SAYING #20

Posted October 20, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 20:22; “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong’!”

If you knew my mother very well at all, you would be amazed and distressed to know the number of people, who mocked her – betrayed her – used her – ignored her – hurt her. You would be distressed, as I was and still am, that anyone could or would treat that dear woman with any less honor and affection she offered to others and deserved on her own right.

You would be amazed, because you would have never learned it from her. You would have never heard her say anything negative about that person … never seen her do anything that would give a clue as to what had been done to her or not done for her … never known the heartache she felt always wondering what she had said or done to make that person do such a thing – such a “wrong”.

I should try at some point to list her character traits that made her such an honorable and worthy woman; but I don’t have the time or space here. It seems fitting, however, that on the day after God reminded me from His wisdom to “overlook an offense[i], and I celebrated my father’s birthday and godly life that I should have the privilege of honoring his partner – the love of his life – my mother, who embodied the same wisdom and held to the truth – the promise – the hope: “Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.” [ii]

So … it just made sense to her … to be nice – to do good things for that person – to be kind if they were rude – to be patient if they were impatient – to be loving if they were hateful. I still marvel at the wonders God worked in her and through her by the power of her obedience to her Master’s directive to “overcome evil with good”.[iii]

Enough of that …

It makes sense … doesn’t it … that Jesus would have learned this wisdom as a boy?

He certainly lived it out as a man. He didn’t just teach it … “turn the other cheek” [iv]… He lived it. He shared with the stingy … served the selfish … loved the hateful.

Phrases that we have become so used to hearing – using – even as if obeying: “He hit me first … I’m not going to let them get away with that … You can’t let people just run all over you …” are nothing more than excuses to justify our own selfish reactions – denying the wisdom of God – ignoring the lessons and life of our Master.

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 20; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to trust in the promise of God to “deliver” me from those who would do me “wrong”; and with that confidence experience the wisdom of God by not paying them “back” – but by being good to them.

 Wise saying #20 – “NO PAYBACKS.”

 P.S. Day Twenty … read Proverbs 20. Want some homework?

  1. You know the list you made yesterday? Look at it again. Pray for wisdom as to how to “overcome evil with good”.
  2. Now, go through the list, making a note of some kindness you can (will) do to them or for them. Start small … and keep at it.

[i] Proverbs 19

[ii] Proverbs 20

[iii] Romans 12

[iv] Matthew 5

WISE SAYING #19

Posted October 19, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 19:11; “… it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

My father – “Daddy” … “Dad” … “Old Man” … “Big Bill” – was born on this day in 1925. If I did the math correctly (and I asked him to make sure), he is 89 years old today. He is healthy in heart – mind – body – soul. He was – for all of my life – and is still a gift from God to me … to all of us who have been loved by him. He is a remarkable man – the best man I have ever known.

I should try at some point to list his character traits that make him such an honorable and worthy man; but I don’t have the time or space here. It seems fitting, however, that on the day God reminds me from His wisdom to “overlook an offense”, I am celebrating the birth and the life of a man, who has demonstrated that wisdom in his actions and reactions for as long as I have known him.

He has known glory – the way the world counts glory: Captain of the football team – Student body President – War World II (decorated) veteran – successful farmer – respected community leader – adored husband – idolized father – cherished grandfather and great-grandfather – faithful church member.

But, if God is right (and of course He is) – my father has found “glory” all of my life by overlooking “offense”.  I am not sure that any of us know all of the offenses he has overlooked from the people who have mocked him – hurt him – betrayed him – ignored him – disappointed him – cheated him – used him – lied to him and about him – broke their promises – failed to repay their debts – and more.

I know of some of those times and trials. I know that there were times that he had to confront sin and stand for what is right – and even though his heart was broken – offering wise counsel and sympathetic forgiveness. I also know that there were times when he was bothered – irritated – disturbed – angry – outraged so much so that he lost sleep and struggled to know what he should do or not do. And yet, over and over again … even in the last year or so … I have seen him “overlook an offense”. I am proud of him – and want to be like him.

Enough of that …

What else is there to say? All of us have suffered when others offended us. When it happens, we get to choose how we react. These excuses: (“If they are not going to respect me, so I am not going to respect them.” – “I am not going to be nice to them, if they can’t be nice to me.” – “I don’t have to let people run all over me.”) are just that – excuses – and are immature – self-serving – destructing attitudes, which serve no healthy or helpful purpose.

There is “glory” – not shame – when we “overlook an offense”. God said it … that settles it … and I am grateful that my father proved it to me for the last 62 years.

But, of course, the best example of all was our Lord. He taught us to turn the other cheek[i] and to forgive as we have been forgiven[ii] . Thank God that Jesus overlooked the offense of the cross, praying that His Father would forgive them – they just didn’t know what they were doing[iii]. Neither did we.

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 19; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to experience the “glory” of God that comes with being like Jesus and my beloved father.

 Wise saying #19 – “OVERLOOK THE OFFENSE.”

P.S. Day Nineteen … read Proverbs 19. Want some homework?

  1. Write down on paper the list of people, who have offended you. (Write it down – so that you can see exactly who you need to approach – to confront – to forgive – or to just let it go and move on.
  2. Now, go through the list: If you have sinned against them – apologize and try to make it right[iv]. (Check out Wise Saying #16.) If they have sinned against you – go to them to reconcile them to God and/or to you. (If they listen, you gain a brother/sister.[v])  If it is not a matter of sin – just hurt feelings – a misunderstanding – try Wise Saying #17.)

 

[i] Matthew 5

[ii] Ephesians 4

[iii] Luke 23

[iv] Matthew 5

[v] Matthew 18

WISE SAYING #18

Posted October 18, 2014 by Rex Boyles
Categories: My Daily Bread

Proverbs 18:24; “… but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

In my life … I have been blessed with brothers … good brothers … the kind of brothers that are not just brothers – but friends … good friends.

Bo – the firstborn – taught me to play (football, basketball, and baseball) … to drive … to cuss. (To this day he tells people that I – his preacher brother – told him that it was okay to say the “S” word.) He is one of the funniest men I know. He stood up for me, when I needed him most. I count him a brother and a friend.

Eddy – the second in command – chased me … hit me (with clods – fists – grass burrs – baseballs – bicycles and anything else he could get his hands on) … but also protected me from anyone who ever have tried the same. He is one of the toughest men I know. He stood up for me, when I needed him most. I count him a brother and a friend.

Roger – the youngest (closest in age and heart to me) – outran me … outgrew me … out played me, surpassing me in everything we ever did in common. He is one of the smartest men I know – more like my father than any of the rest of us. He stood up for me, when I needed him most. I count him a brother and a friend.

With those kind of brothers it would be hard to find “a friend that sticks closer than a brother”; but God has helped me find such friends for the last 40 years. I can’t list names here … not now … but I have found friends, who are funny, tough, and smart … friends, who have taught me – fought me – sought me. They stood up for me, when I needed them most.

Enough of that …

Not everyone had or has the blessing of family that I did and do … but God’s insight into life gives us all the hope that there are people out there – friends out there – who will “stick closer than a brother”.

Doesn’t it make sense then – if that is true – to move on from old friends, who have never been and never will be that kind of friend … to avoid getting involved with someone, who is clearly never going to be that friend … to be “careful” in choosing friends?[i]

So … today … as I read through Proverbs 18; seeking the wisdom of God for my life … I want to thank God for my brothers, who are friends, and for my friends, who are “closer than a brother”. I also want to ask God to help me be that kind of brother and friend.

 Wise saying #18 – “FIND THAT FRIEND.”

P.S. Day Eighteen … read Proverbs 18. Want some homework?

  1. Do an inventory of your friends. How many of them (and who) are “toxic”? How many of them (and who) are negative influences on you? How many of them (and who) will never be the kind of friend God wants you to have?
  2. Now begin the painful but helpful process of leaving the toxic – negative ones behind; and begin looking for the kind of friend that you need and that youi would want to be.

[i] Proverbs 12