The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!







Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 31st on Proverbs 31:1-5

January 31;  Proverbs 31  Verses 1-5


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 31


Sooooo....Perhaps you are one who googled "Proverbs 31" because you wanted to review thoughts and information on that most famous and controversial chapter, and thought you hit the jackpot when you found something called "The Proverbs 31 Project"!  (Well you did, but in a different sense.)  Now you know that this project is about all 31 chapters of Proverbs, and you can rejoice for I have finally arrived at the famed chapter which celebrates, for the most part, the godly wife.  But now your roller coaster takes a another dive, because that section doesn't start until verse 10, and I won't be getting there until May 31st!  Then again, you don't need me.  Please read the whole chapter, and just think about it today; 


1 The sayings of King Lemuel--an inspired utterance his mother taught him.


1) Not every motherly utterance is inspired, but that is the claim made here regarding  King Lemuel's mother and her words of wisdom.


2 Listen, my son!  Listen, son of my womb!
   Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!


2) All the "listen, listen"s might turn a kid off, but that last part:  To be called an "answer to my prayers" would get my attention!


3 Do not spend your strength on women,
   your vigor on those who ruin kings.


3) I guess he wasn't a boy, but a young man, when he received this advice.  A hard word, but true.  What does a young man want more than a girlfriend?  And what can drain him of all he has, and is, and might become, more than a girlfriend?  A man needs to be strong his whole life through.  But his whole manly ability is not gained and established at puberty!  Much more importantly than the appearance of new hormones, is the growth, development and maturation of his character.  Not to mention a few other issues like wisdom, real (not sophomoric) humor, fiscal knowledge and responsibility etc etc.  Only with patience as the right number of years pass, will a young man come to find that his strength can actually handle all of his own duties, AND manage to support all the details and  delights of the woman he loves.


4 It is not for kings, Lemuel--
   it is not for kings to drink wine,
   not for rulers to crave beer,


4) I talked about my limited experience with the "spirits" of wine and beer back on Jan 20, so today I will just look at that last line; "not for rulers to crave beer".  It would seem that the real point of the verse is that rulers must live by a different standard.  In all the old movies, the merry old Kings of Old England are swilling wine from giant gold goblets and spilling it all over themselves to boot.  They are usually in some tirade or another over the latest rascal to upset the status quo, and make some great declaration about killing the miscreant.  It never works, because the rapscallions are always smarter than the king and a better fighter than all 150 of the king's guards, and there's always the perfect rope tied up at the top of the stairs so he can swing over the hall and drop the chandelier on the troops below.  In reality, Solomon warns, the reason such a king would fail to protect his kingdom's ideals from someone outside the order of government, is that he is too darn drunk to pay attention to his work!


Our president, we are told, is never more than 10 or 20 feet from the "nuclear football", a briefcase of data and equipment which would enable the president to order an appropriate nuclear attack in an emergency.  But what if the commander in chief was more than two or three drinks out of his senses when the crisis arose?  Not good.  For any leader distracted from his serious obligations, becomes a direct assault on the freedoms of the people.


5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
   and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.


5) I like this verse for its incidental defining of an authority's role.  And it even hearkens forward to our Declaration of Independence by suggesting that the people already have rights.  It is simply the government's duty to "secure" them, not to "endow" them, as God has already done.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Before and After


My last carpentry job, right before I went back to the shipyard for a few months.
Before

After


Now I can't find the cabinet!



Or the kitchen (galley)

Where does the crown molding go?


I'm ready to nail it in place!
If I can find my finish nail gun!

The Proverbs 31 Project; Commenting January 30th on Proverbs Chapter 30:1-4

January 30;  Proverbs 30  Verses 1-4


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 30


The sayings of Agur


1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh-an inspired utterance.
   This man's utterance to Ithiel:
   "I am weary, God,
   but I can prevail. 


1) Oh Agur, I hope you mean that you can prevail only with God's help!  Don't be like Elvis, who died on the bathroom floor in despair, or a Frank, whose last words were "I'm losing", after years of  claiming you can do it "my way." 


Wouldn't you love to know more about Agur and Ithiel?  I bet their story would make a great movie!  Perhaps we will have him giving this "utterance" while chained to some dark prison wall.  Ithiel is a guard who has become so fascinated by Agur's resolve in the face of his dark circumstances that he writes down every brave thing Agur says.  He may seem to be talking to himself in that dank cell, but is he talking to his god?


2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
   I do not have human understanding.


2) THERE is the humility God wants!  Not to disparage that which is made "in His image", but to recognize and admit one's fallen nature, and need for divine help.


3 I have not learned wisdom,
   nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.


3) Hyperbole.  No one can attain that level!  After a million years in paradise, being tutored and trained through participating directly in the works of the Lord, the things we will have YET to learn and enjoy will still be infinite!


4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
   Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
   Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
   Who has established all the ends of the earth?
   What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
   Surely you know!


4) Rhetorical questions, of course.  We all know the answer.  Nobody, in those days BC (Before Christ), of even a whole human's nature, had done those things.  Only God, and His Son!


The imagery here is astounding!  We humans can not even imagine hands gathering up the wind, or wrapping the waters (oceans) in a cloak.  It took God's wisdom to establish the ends of the earth by limiting its boundaries to the surface of a sphere, and only God knows the name that will be given to the Son:  Revelation 19:12  "He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself."


I DARE you to not read the rest of Agur's soliloquy today!  I would hate to have you wait until March and May and July and August and October and December, to enjoy the full benefits of this guys insight and style.  To borrow a bit of his method, I might say "There are six months to delve into Proverbs; seven, with 31 days to celebrate its wisdom (but read it all now)!"  You will not miss anything in waiting for my little comments, so read it now and I won't "twist your nose"!



Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project; Commenting January 29th on Proverbs 29:1-4

January 29;  Proverbs 29  Verses 1-4


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 29


1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
   will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.


1) God "hardened Pharoah's heart" through a similar natural process.  He spoke truth to it, and it resisted; He spoke truth a bit louder, and it (Pharoah) resisted;  He corrected Pharoah again, and he stubbornly refused to listen.  Each time we deny the truth our hearts and minds become more resistant, more stiff-necked, more brittle.  And we too can be suddenly destroyed.  


There will come a point when the remedy offered now through the cross will no longer be available.  "...people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement,"  Heb 9:27


2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
   when the wicked rule, the people groan.


2) Our political system is designed so that great fluctuations do not wreak havoc with our day to day lives.  Though we are often frustrated with the slow pace of governmental adjustments, we have seen in recent years that big changes pushed through in a hurry on many fronts, is much worse.  The point of this verse, and our reality demonstrates the same, is that the policies set by our leaders is vital: it will effect our very lives, and we will either rejoice or groan.


3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
   but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.


3) A father wants his children to do better than he did.  He knows his own mistakes and detours,  and, after a certain point, can only wish his sons would avoid the same.  Parents know that their children will thrive if they make good investments of their talents and their resources, rather than waste it all on the repeated short term fixes that so many vices offer.


4 By justice a king gives a country stability,
   but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.


If there is one overriding theme to Proverbs it is simply this:  There is a right way and a wrong way.  Too often we are told the lie that every way is OK.  That all of the religions of the world are equally valid, as if opposite ideas could both be true!  Does every opinion have the same inherent value?  No!  We each have the same and equal RIGHT to have whatever opinion we settle on, but then the real evaluation of each opinion begins.  A favorite color can not be debated, but an idea about which one better matches the sky certainly can be.  Which claims in a debate on economics are better supported by historical data?  While one may prefer the ideals behind capitalism or socialism, their applications both have a record that can be studied.


If you were to make the bold claim that "everybody is right", then, referring finally to verse 4 above, you would have to concede that a king may or may not impose justice, according to his own whims.  And that those who use bribery to get what they want are just as deserving and equal and justified as those who can not afford to pay the bribes, but suffer oh so sadly in the torn down streets.  






  




Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 28th on Proverbs 28:1-4

January 28;  Proverbs 28  Verses 1-4


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 28


1 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
  but the righteous are as bold as a lion.


1) I guess I have been on both sides of this fence.  I remember that  feeling of pursued guilt.  The one that makes you so jumpy because surely somebody is just about to call you out.  It was really God (I almost typed "only God") speaking to, or perhaps only threatening, my guilty conscience with His high standard.


I also remember standing with a very angry foreman in my face.  His judgement was off base, but even as his anger rose and he began to refer to my "church going" as an epithet, and I thought "this guy is going to HIT me!", I was able to stand my ground and give him the soft answer treatment we heard about back on the 15th.


2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
   but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.


2) What an interesting take on rebellion.  I guess, now that I think about it, that bad ideas and motivations multiply.  A bunch of rebellious people seldom carefully choose a leader.  They each want to take control of the mob and it ends up going off in 10 directions at once and ultimately falls apart.  Anarchy is its own self-defeating cure.


3 A ruler who oppresses the poor
   is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.


3) Jesus said: He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Mathew 5:45


I've always enjoyed this truth.  Sun and rain come to everyone in time.  And, sun and rain both are seen as a blessing and a curse.  It all depends.  Folks all over pray for rain when it is lacking, but mourn the devastation of a flooding downpour.  Here, in verse 3 of Proverbs 28, it's the ruin of rain that compares with a poor oppressing ruler.


4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
  but those who heed it resist them.


4) I have been shocked sometimes by the enthusiastic support given to some people.  Usually it is granted freely to obvious "fools" (to use Solomon's freedom), without thinking.  But given just a little bit of "instruction", the would-be followers say "Oh", and turn away.   Certain reps in Wisconsin were so excited to meet Ian Murphy, and pose for pictures with him because he fooled their political enemy.  Then they were "instructed" on Murphy's earlier famous writings: revealed here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 27th on Proverbs 27: Verses 1-4

January 27;  Proverbs 27  Verses 1-4


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 27


1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
   for you do not know what a day may bring.


1)  This idea is so simple and straightforward, but we all typically assume that another tomorrow will magically appear and make itself ready for our use, just as it has every 24 hours since we were born.  NOT!  One of these days will be our very last in these parts.  Speaking to myself now: Make every day count Miller!


In Luke 18 Jesus told a story that ended thusly:
 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’


2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; 
   an outsider, and not your own lips.


2) "But what if they don't say all the right things?"  I can just hear myself!  "Yadda yadda yadda!  Blah blah blah!"  Solomon obviously never heard of blogging.  Isn't it designed for praising oneself?


3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
   but a fool's provocation is heavier than both.


3) Funny.  At work in the shipyard today one guy told me that his whole day would be spent shoveling sand!  That's hard on the back, but it's a good thing he wasn't assigned to be provoked by a fool!  What can we do to properly respond?  Even Solomon struggled with this one:  Compare Proverbs 26 verse 4 with 26:5 (which we will get to on March 26)!!



4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, 

   or you yourself will be just like him. 


AND

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, 

   or he will be wise in his own eyes. 



4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
   but who can stand before jealousy?



4) Now this is an issue where Solomon should easily be recognized as the world's expert!  Please understand that while God endowed Sol with a super dose of wisdom, that He did not make him the smartest guy around, or the guy with the greatest character.  God said that a King should only have one wife, but for diplomatic reasons, Solomon gave in to the cultural idea that he should marry a Princess from just about every nation (or neighborhood) around, and he ended up with 700 wives!

1 Kings 11: 3,4 
"He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.  As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God,"

If I may say so, he surely learned something of anger and fury, but that was nothing compared to the jealousy he witnessed and experienced every day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 26th on Proverbs 26:1-4

January 26;  Proverbs 26  Verses 1-4


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 26


1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
   honor is not fitting for a fool.


1) Some things just don't go together properly.  As a culture, we too often do give honor to our fools, but it's just not right.  Let's be more careful about our celebrities.  Should we laud those who are famous just for being ......famous?  Maybe we should honor only those who have actually contributed something of value to our existence.


2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
  an undeserved curse does not come to rest.


2) Whew!  There is nothing to fear from the curse of someone who is not speaking for God.  Who has power over you, but God?  Unless you grant the errant cursor some authority over your future, his threatening wishes will fall flat, or as Solomon suggests; they will never "land" a punch.


3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
   and a rod for the backs of fools!


3) Relax.  No one is threatening corporal punishment on the poor fool.  This simply means that such a person, who neglects his real duties will only come through after a dose of reality discipline.  Instead of anticipating problems and correcting his path, he will only learn from suffering through the consequences of his mistakes.


4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
  or you yourself will be just like him.

4) Ain't that the trute!  I clearly remember trying to show my little sister how the way she was acting toward me (when we were both little brats), was so unfair, by trying to treat her the same way.  And then being so frustrated that, though she was very upset with the way I was now treating her, she never made the connection!  Two wrongs don't make a right, and two wrongs don't make IT right.





Can you relate to any of today's Proverbs?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 25th on Proverbs 25:1-5

January 25;  Proverbs 25  Verses 1-5


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 25   


1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:


2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
   to search out a matter is the glory of kings.


2) I have always especially appreciated this proverb.  In days of old, it was only kings who could really get to investigate something, because analysis and experiment and study, are expensive enterprises!  Thomas Jefferson, as the third US President, seemed to take advantage of his role as the kingly equivalent.  He was always trying to push for advances in science and in geographical understanding.  He's the one who sent Lewis and Clarke on their quest for a navigable route to the Pacific.  No one followed their exploits as diligently as Jefferson did.


But now it is the humble science student, or even an intrepid internet explorer who can relish in the art of discovery!  God has indeed "concealed a matter" by not bothering to explain very much at all of the hows and the whys of nature, but has left it for us to unravel many mysteries of His creation.  And we do enjoy every new revelation of the complexities he "concealed".


3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
   so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.


3) Supporters and proponents of a particular office holder seem to be the ones most disturbed and confused by their candidate once he sits behind that desk.  We scratch our heads and wonder, "Why did he do THAT?"  Oh well.  Apparently, it is nothing new.


4 Remove the dross from the silver,
   and a silversmith can produce a vessel;


4) Nothing, and no one, is good enough, without some major refining.  (No, not one.)


5 remove wicked officials from the king's presence,
   and his throne will be established through righteousness. 


5) It is the first burden of the President, to select a capable and honorable cabinet.  Hopefully,           he can remove the "dross" and get on with the good work before his term is up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 24th on Proverbs 24:1-4

January 24;  Proverbs 24  Verses 1-4


[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!


[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 24    


Saying 20
1 Do not envy the wicked,
   do not desire their company;




1) The wicked seem to have it all.  All of those things which are generally considered 'bad', and...good.  We all know that wild parties with crazy drinking and free sex are....bad...but good?  We probably agree that gathering an unlimited amount of cash and spending it freely on oneself is...good...but bad.  Hurting strangers in a myriad of ways if that's what it takes to add to your own freedom and prosperity is of course very badngood.  As the ones living the boring, struggling, considerate lives that most of us live we look over the fence and think about joining in; they look so happy and free that it really must be good.  But our hearts tell us it's bad, and this time, we know our hearts are right.  There truly is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy the pleasures of life.  When the temptation to envy the lifestyle of the wicked arises, ask yourself what advice you would give your teenagers.  


We tell our kids to pick their friends wisely, because we know instinctively that, where the wicked are concerned, our sons and daughters should not even "desire their company" (and neither should we let ourselves be so polluted).


2 for their hearts plot violence,
   and their lips talk about making trouble.


2) Have you ever been around when "violence was plotted"?  Or when wicked lips were talking "about making trouble"?  God, through Solomon, warns us to steer clear so that we don't even hear such talk.  And our laws tell us why: Even knowing about a plot and not acting to stop it, makes one a guilty accessory.  But beyond that trouble, the temptation to enjoy the plotting; to join in with the violence; to give yourself over to the wickedness, is real, and grave.


Saying 21
3 By wisdom a house is built,
   and through understanding it is established;

3) This is something I actually know about!  I've been a carpenter for 27 years now, and I know that it takes a lot of real life know-how to build a house correctly.  And I have done enough remodeling to testify to the fact that a building done without "understanding" is never really "established".  It has to be torn apart and redone.

4 through knowledge its rooms are filled
   with rare and beautiful treasures.
  
I will now concede that Solomon is talking about much more than the framework and finish of a house.  He is certainly alluding to the proper construction of a life.  What do we have for keeps, after a tornado takes the brick and mortar world away, as it did today in Alabama, if we have not used wisdom, understanding, and a strong collection of vital knowledge to construct a life that will endure the storms?  Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) What a claim!  And what a promise!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Last Will and Testament


And to Jesus:  All the Glory!

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 23rd on Proverbs 23:1-5

January 23;  Proverbs 23  Verses 1-5

[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!

[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 23     
(I hope you are reading the whole chapter of the day, every day.  If you are, then you will not be thrown by the odd chinks in my system, as we encounter today.)


Ok, so this is where my little system breaks down a bit.  In the middle of chapter 22, we are introduced to a subset called "30 sayings of the wise".  They are not so much proverbs as they are simply....wise sayings.  But we will not get to see them in proper order.  Saying One will reach my calendar of commentary on July 22nd!  Nonetheless friends, if a saying is wise it is wise in whatever order it is said, I always say.  Here we are starting with Saying Seven:


Saying 7
1  When you sit to dine with a ruler, 
   note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
   if you are given to gluttony.


1,2) Apparently it takes two verses to complete a wise saying.  That must be why Solomon wrote proverbs instead.  Anyway, this one is a doozy eh?  Do whatever it takes to avoid pigging out at the King's table!  Perhaps the "noting what is before you" part suggests that the food served is so fancy that it is meant for more than the stomach only, and must be appreciated for all of its delicacies.  Plus, perhaps it was "plated" just so!


3 Do not crave his delicacies,
  for that food is deceptive.


3) At first I thought verse three stood on its own, but now I'm thinking that there is much more being said here.  


It would be very easy for an outsider to be swept up in all the grandeur, pride, wealth and benefits of serving in the King's presence.  Someone newly appointed (as a Czar of this or that vital government program may be) could easily fall in with whatever corruption is going on in the palace, as long as he is getting a piece of the pie.   The temptation to justify one's actions for the sake of material gluttony is great, but, "that food is deceptive".


Saying 8
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
   do not trust your own cleverness.


4) Well now this wise guy sticks two distinct proverbs into one part of a wise saying!  I can't figure these guys out.  Anyway, God tells us to be content.  He only requires us to "act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8  He says nothing about getting rich.  Can you imagine if one of God's priorities, or commandments was "thou shalt get rich"?  It's not, and trying to will wear you out.


Furthermore, we should beware our own cleverness.  I like to play chess online.  So often I think I have it all figured out and go ahead and make a bold move.  When I check back later, after my opponent has made his move, all ready to celebrate my cleverness, I often end up saying, "...Oh".  Yes, we should try to be clever, but be ready for an eye-opener.


5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
   for they will surely sprout wings
  and fly off to the sky like an eagle.


5) I remember learning this one years ago at a VBS.  This is the very picturesque corollary to verse 4a above.  If riches come along with whatever endeavor you might be working on, fine.  Use it wisely for the works of God.  But if wealth is the main goal, it will either elude you altogether, or wear you out in the attempt.  




Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 22nd on Proverbs 22:1-5

January 22;  Proverbs 22  Verses 1-5

[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!

[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 22


1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
   to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.


1) What is the first thing on a tombstone and I don't mean pepperoni?  It's your name.  Certainly this is the first and foremost issue of your life; to be properly identified.  We talk about how and why someone might go to heaven all the time, but if all of that was in order, and you were not properly named at the gate, it would all be for naught!  But Sol brings this factor up another step with the simple adjective, good.  The right name is important, but if it is in the end, not a 'good' name, again, it is all for naught.  And the only way to have a good name is to have it written in "the Lamb's Book of Life".


2 Rich and poor have this in common:
   The LORD is the Maker of them all.


2) Americans always seek equality.  "Tax the rich and give their extra money to the poor!"  Trying to force an equality by tearing down the heights.  Let's instead recognize that all ARE equal where it counts.  Having the same things, or being treated the same way is not equality; but meaninglessness.  One who accepts the higher truth that "The LORD is the Maker of them all" would offer his extra resources to support his equals.  Another accepter would not claim rights to the property of another.


3 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
   but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.


3) At least this system selects prudence as a continuing trait, and limits the perpetuity of the simple.


4 Humility is the fear of the LORD;
   its wages are riches and honor and life.


4) Compare this verse to Romans 6:23:  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  I'd rather take the hard job of humility and earn its wages, than work for the slaver of sin, and die for my pay.  How about you?


5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
   but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.


5) What is so attractive about the wicked path we work to follow so diligently?  I know the struggle.  I have been deceived into thinking that the snare filled lane is the happy way.  Lord, help me to follow YOUR narrow path, avoiding the pitfalls, till the end.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 21st on Proverbs 21:1-5

January 21;  Proverbs 21  Verses 1-5

[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!

[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 21


1 In the LORD's hand the king's heart is a stream of water
   that he channels toward all who please him. 


1) [Yes, this is a new format.  What do you think?]
The king's heart is in the LORD's hand?  Does that mean that the Lord is responsible for everything the king does?  Like a robot's maneuverings follow the will of a controller?  I don't think so.  There is too much sin evidenced by many kings, including many corrupt kings of the ancient divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  But, when a King (or any leader, at any level) chooses to exercise his authority as our good God would (when he submits, and essentially PUTS his heart in God's hand), then God uses His given freedom to direct that king's work in a way that is a blessing to the many non-kings who would also submit to God's authority.


If I'm getting too tired to drive, and I relinquish the driver's seat to my wife (I put my whole life in her hands instead of maintaining my own claim), she will channel that car to a good end for both of us.  If I refuse to admit my weakness, and cling to control, we, along with any strangers in the way, will suffer badly.
2  A person may think their own ways are right, 
   but the LORD weighs the heart.

2) We should be more open to the idea that we may be all wet.  There is nothing to fear from God's judgement, until we stubbornly hold that our own judgement is better.  Declaring "I am King of the World!" is only cool if it's true.  (It's not)

3 To do what is right and just
   is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

3) The prophet Samuel had to tell Saul that "to obey is better than sacrifice."  Yes, the sacrificing of animals was an important thing.  For one, it brought home to the folks, just how horrible and gross and ugly and deadening sin is.  But it did not create the positive relationship between God and man that obedience can produce.  And it is a relationship, a personal relationship, that God wants with you.

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart-
   the unplowed field of the wicked-produce sin.

4) Wow!  How poetically powerful is this verse?  This is another reference to the evil work of pride in our lives.  What corruption grows freely when we are not properly 'taken down a notch'?  Being humbled, and even sometimes humiliated, is better therapy than the building of a rickety and pretentious high self-esteem.

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit
   as surely as haste leads to poverty.

5) Get rich QUICK scheme anybody?  If only Ralph Kramden and Fred Flintstone had learned this verse!  The writer's of those two TV shows could always get a hit by showing Ralph or Fred jumping into one "can't miss" idea or another!  We loved to laugh at their clear-cut foolishness.  And poor Solomon was never listed in the credits!


PLEASE let me know what you think of the format!



Friday, January 20, 2012

FLASHBACK FRIDAY! The Old Money Tree!

This old post still gets a few hits every week!  Are people seriously searching for a money tree?  There is something better that is truly available!

The Proverbs 31 Project: Commenting January 20th on Proverbs 20:1-5


January 20;  Proverbs 20  Verses 1-5

[Please note: The first two paragraphs below are repeated each day for new readers.  My amateur comments are offered below the verses from Proverbs.]

Christians looking for a simple way to review the Bible regularly, have long been convenienced by the fact that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, the same number as most of our months.  Each chapter includes multiple bite-sized verses (uhm, proverbs) and can be read through simply in one sitting, one appropriately numbered chapter per day through the month.  A person might read through the Proverbs a chapter a day during any month, but why mess with your head (reading an extra chapter on one, two, or three days!) like that when there are 7 months every year perfectly suited for the endeavor?

My idea here is to reprint about 1/7 of the verses from each day's chapter throughout this year, every time a 31 day month pops up, and then offer a few comments from The Barking Owl.  So in January, we will get through the first few verses of every chapter and then in March, the next group, and so on, until December comes around and we can finally get to the last set of verses in each chapter and complete the book's reading.  If you are smarter than I am (is there any doubt?), you will read the whole chapter every day, every 31 day month, and then you will have read the whole book 7 times this year!  By then you are guaranteed to at least be wiser than The Barking Owl , though no one will ever match the wisdom of Solomon!

[All Bible passages are from the NIV, and are copied from www.Biblegateway.com]

Proverbs 20



1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
   whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
 2 A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
   those who anger him forfeit their lives.
 3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
   but every fool is quick to quarrel.
 4 Sluggards do not plow in season;
   so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
 5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
   but one who has insight draws them out.



1) Remember the old add campaign?  "Riunite on ice!  That's nice!"  No?  So either you have a failed memory, or you are pitifully young!  Anyway, when I was a freshman in college in 1977, Wisconsinites could buy alcohol at age 18, so I did.  I fell for this stupid ad and I brought a bottle of wine back to my private dorm room.  Of course I found some ice, and I made a little habit of drinking wine by myself in my room. ( I had always hated the taste of beer, and only drank half a can when I thought I should be drinking with my seminarian classmates during summer get-togethers.   I wonder if Solomon will get around to saying:  Peer pressure is a bastard.)


Anyway, it wasn't very many bottles before I realized that drinking wine changed me (duh!).  That I became something I wasn't without it.  That I was giving my spirit over, and letting its spirit move me instead.  I never got falling down drunk, and nobody ever even noticed what I was doing, but I knew that this wine was not so nice.  That it was mocking me.  I quit.  I thank God today, that He kept me from being led too far astray by the mocking wine, or the brawling beer.


2) We know we should 'fear' the rogue IRS agent, or the uncontrolled social welfare worker, or the poorly vetted cop in the middle of the night.  A person with more power than they can decently manage is a scary thing.  Like a terrible King, or a violent dictator.  But God we should fear, because He is right, and does right.










pic from aaroniswhatever.tumbir.com


3) Ever been tempted to fight?  Think of Marty McFly being called "chicken".  In the end he made the 'honorable' decision and did not enter into the road race that nearly killed Needles, the obvious fool.  Not every fight can be avoided.  When an enemy is pouring over the border, or a fool is invading your home, it must be taken up with vigor until won. 


4) There is a time to work, and a time to play.  Work when the time is right, or there will be no play.


5) Remember Proverbs 18:4?  It was just two days ago!  Anyway, we were told there that "the words of the mouth are deep waters", and they were contrasted with the fountain of wisdom.  Here, another good thing is hidden in the larger volume, and waits to be distilled.  This is encouraging.  You may know someone, or be someone, who speaks too much, or withholds too much.  In either case there may be some refreshing drinks of wisdom, or the promise of great works, that need to be separated and nourished.