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Planning for the Future With or Without God

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD (Proverbs 16:1 ESV)

לְאָדָ֥ם מַֽעַרְכֵי־לֵ֑ב וּ֝מֵיְהוָ֗ה מַעֲנֵ֥ה לָשֽׁוֹן

One of today’s most popular sports cheers was first chanted in 1999 during the fourth quarter of an Army-Navy football game. The six-word cheer—I believe that we will win!—has been called the “epitome of classic American optimism.” Yet in real life, this overly confident attitude tends to backfire.

For instance, a 2002 study found overly optimistic grad students have a tougher time finding jobs. Students in their last year of grad school were asked to rate how likely they thought they were to land a good job shortly after leaving school.

Two years laterCopyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_ismagilov'>ismagilov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>, those who had admitted to frequent positive fantasies about life after grad school were less likely to succeed in their job search. The daydreamers sent out fewer résumés, and earned less than students who had a more realistic take on their post-university lives.

Positive thinking has its place, but we can mistake daydreaming about achieving our objectives for actually attaining those goals. To make things worse Christians will pull God into our daydreams and assume He’s dreaming the same dreams right along with us.

In Proverbs 16:1 Solomon helps us examine the way we reach decisions for the future. However, the usual interpretation of this proverb is “the Lord will show us what to do and what direction to take without much human effort.”  Why think or plan if God has already done the designing for us?

Christians who fail to grasp the teachings of Solomon in this proverb can spend their lives walking in circles. This is not because they “missed God’s will”, but as the result of failing to follow the directions found in Proverbs 16:1 on how to properly plan for the future. (more…)

Ordering Off God’s Menu of Life’s Choices

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred Proverbs 15:16-17 (NIV).

טוֹב־מְ֭עַט בְּיִרְאַ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה מֵאוֹצָ֥ר רָ֝֗ב וּמְה֥וּמָה בֽוֹ׃

ט֤וֹב אֲרֻחַ֣ת יָ֭רָק וְאַהֲבָה־שָׁ֑ם מִשּׁ֥וֹר אָ֝ב֗וּס וְשִׂנְאָה־בֽוֹ׃

Having lunch at Subway is an unusual experience.  I am in awe of how much time it takes to order a sandwich. My sandwiches are the same:  meat, lettuce, tomatoes and mustard . . . .  wrap it up.

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_radub85'>radub85 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Hungry people study the choices before them behind the glass case like they are on an archeological dig. We’ll take all the time we need to pick out exactly what we we want to make our gourmet Subway sandwich despite the growing line of impatient people behind us.

We enjoy having choices to make. I think God understands that part of human nature, which is why He lays out many selections regarding the way we can choose to l
ive. However, despite the variety of choices the Lord offers, this does not indicate all options are equal.

In Proverbs 15:16-17 Solomon spreads out two lifestyle  choices – wealth and simplicity – but one is better than the other.  In other words, not all choices have the same results.

Between the options of prosperity and a scaled down life, you would think a person needs to have his head examined to not choose plenty. Yet, we know life is not that simplistic.

Therefore, God sets up these two verses like several combination platters on a Chinese menu.  If you order one item, that option is accompanied by another food choice. Result?  What you assumed what was a blessing on the menu could be attended by a burden you never expected.

You are given an opportunity to pick which meal you want from each proverb.  But before you select, you need to ask the server, Solomon, what ingredients are used to make up these combination platters. (more…)

Make America Good Again

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34 ESV)

צְדָקָ֥ה תְרֽוֹמֵֽם־גּ֑וֹי וְחֶ֖סֶד לְאֻמִּ֣ים חַטָּֽאת׃

In 2007, the I-35 bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed suddenly during rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The investigation revealed the gusset plates, the thick sheets of steels that connect the girders together in the truss system were undersized, resulting in a structural flaw leading to its collapse. A year after the tragedy, The New York Times summarized what went wrong:

The bridge was designed in the 1960s and lasted 40 years. But like most other bridges, it gradually gained weight during that period, as workers installed concrete structures to separate eastbound and westbound lanes and made other changes, adding strain to the weak spot.

The city planners in Minneapolis ignored the design of the bridge and pushed the limitations of the span to hold a weight amount it was not designed to withstand.

Make America Good AgainLikewise, America was designed by our founders to function within certain parameters of morality and integrity. Our nation was not fashioned to tolerate an unbearable amount of immorality. The more sin we tolerate in our country, the greater the chance our vulnerabilities will collapse our precious  nation.

In Proverbs 14:34 Solomon equips us with the prescription to build a strong nation using a support system where righteousness holds all pieces together. This ancient text teaches that a nation’s greatness exists not only in its victory over terrorism, a robust economy, a vibrant foreign policy or lack of racism, but in its observance of justice and morality.  To ignore this principle is to dabble with the possibility our country can wind up a moral disgrace.

During this presidential election cycle, it is important we understand from Proverbs 14:34 what really makes our country tick . . . and what will make it great again. (more…)

Need a foolproof map to guide your life?

“The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.”
Proverbs 14:15 NIV

פֶּ֭תִי יַאֲמִ֣ין לְכָל־דָּבָ֑ר וְ֝עָר֗וּם יָבִ֥ין לַאֲשֻׁרֹֽו׃

Picture a seasoned team of seamen with years of sailing experience making a blunder that practically shipwrecked their vessel. Remarkably, the 19th century polar expedition of the USS Jeannette, commandeered by Lieutenant George De Long ended in complete failure.

Captain De Long and his crew became thoroughly disoriented on their trek—not because of a faulty compass, but because of a mistaken map. De Long’s quest rested on a picture of the North Pole laid out in the maps of Dr. August Heinrich Petermann.

Petermann’s maps propCopyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_mcolleen'>mcolleen / 123RF Stock Photo</a>osed a “thermometric gateway” through the ice that opened onto a vast “polar sea” beyond the ice. As it turned out the ship was sailing to a world that didn’t exist.

Rather than an open polar sea, the crew observed the perilous ice surrounding the ship. Immediately, the  erroneous maps were scrapped and replaced with a comprehension of the way the Arctic truly is

Most readers conclude from this account Christians need a foolproof map from God to navigate His will.

Wrong!

I share this dramatic story to explain this is NOT how to identify God’s will.

The Lord does not have a hidden, faultless map to lead us to a treasure chest of priceless doubloons, aka His divine plan.

If there isn’t a GPS to steer us to the Lord’s will, what does Solomon in Proverbs 14:15 instruct us to do or not do to remove the mystery attached to “finding the will of God”. (more…)

Do You Know When To Keep Your Lips Zipped?

Proverbs 14:3

By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. (ESV)

בְּֽפִי־א֭֭וִיל חֹ֣טֶר גַּאֲוָ֑ה וְשִׂפְתֵ֥י ח֝֝כָמִ֗ים תִּשְׁמוּרֵֽם׃


If all our words were put into print, the result would be: a single day’s words would fill a 50-page book, while in a year’s time the average person’s words would fill 132 books of 200 pages each! Among all those words there are bound to be some statements spoken in anger, carelessness, or haste. And someone is sure to get hurt.

Since often I write using14193593 - close up of man my laptop at a variety of Starbuck locations, I am exposed to a myriad of conversations. Loud, obnoxious cell phone calls. Stodgy business conferences.  Idle talk meetups.  Annoying boardgame banter. I hear it all.

One morning I overheard a young woman on her cell grilling the person on the other end of the line like an CIA operative. Eventually she droned on about her need to “lose fat,” fleshed out every gory details of her recent eye surgery and fished voraciously for every scandalous minutia about some mutual friends.  It was painful to witness her unmanaged tongue at work.

To deal with the need to manage our tongues, in Proverbs 14:3 Solomon focuses on the communication of the wise contrasted to the verbiage that pours out of the mouth of a fool.

Speech management is a theme threaded throughout the Book of Proverbs. Solomon continually warns his listeners one area where we demonstrate either wisdom or foolishness is the control of our tongue.  (more…)

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