Tag Archives: proverbs

Heavy Lifting

bigstock-Woman-with-her-personal-fitnes-44726662Weights are not my thing. Pinned by the bench press, I feel like a cartoon character with squeaky sound effects while my husband effortlessly lifts weight in three digit numbers.

Down days can pin me too if I’m not careful. When my heart is heavy, I tend to withdraw. Escape. Hole up. And if I don’t watch it, I’m pinned and the negative emotions press on my chest like too much weight on the bar.

Thankfully, God provides a spotter.

Proverbs 25:20 says, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” I know we hit this verse recently, but it came up again during my quiet time and something jumped out at me. When we looked at this verse before, we talked about the need to refresh others. What caught my eye this time was how.

Sing songs.

God points to music when our hearts feel heavy and we need spotting. Look at these verses:

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16 NIV)

Not only does Paul encourage us to share psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, but he also ties songs—specifically spiritual songs—to an attitude of gratitude.

Why?

Because depression and negativity find it hard to get a grip when we give thanks. Because self-pity withers and dies in the face of gratefulness.

So, take a deep breath and push. Put on some tunes and sing with a thankful heart. You’ll be amazed at what you can bench.

Questions:

What weighs you down?

What do you do when you are sad?

What Christian music encourages you?

How does music help you transition to a positive outlook and a thankful spirit?

Assemble a heavy day playlist.

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Refreshing!

bigstock-Man-And-Ventilator-5390740I walked out my front door this morning to run and it was—cool.

So?

Summer lingers in Texas like an unwelcome guest. But this morning, the breeze was out of the north. It was wonderful.

Texans appreciate refreshment, especially in the form of lower temperatures. One hundred degree summers will do that to you.

When June hits, my husband starts asking, “When is it going to get cool?”

I roll my eyes and say, “November.”

So think of your favorite cold beverage. That’s how a cool fall day feels to a Texan. Refreshing!

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day . . . is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”(Proverbs 25:20 NIV)

Here, Solomon reminds us to refresh one another through song. Now before you break into Daniel Powter’s, Bad Day, look around. Any heavy hearts?

How about your struggling classmate stressing over the next test?

A teammate nervous for the coming game?

A neighbor whose kid is a real challenge? You know the one.

The single mom at work who can barely make ends meet?

Be a cool breeze in someone’s life today. Give some refreshment to a heavy heart. And by all means, sing.

Questions:

Who comes to mind when you think of a heavy heart?

What cheers you up when you’re having a hard day?

Commit to pray for one person this week.

Start with those around your dinner table. Who is struggling at home? If it’s you, speak up.

Bake something and pass it out to the neighbors just for fun. Make someone’s day.

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Drop Your Weapons

cross-trainingA scene from the movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, depicts Peter, Susan, Lucy, and beaver friends crossing a frozen river in an attempt to reach Aslan. The White Witch’s wolves block the way when a frozen waterfall above the river begins to thaw. A burst of water sends them careening down the now raging river.

One moment, ice—solid and firm. The next, a flood of water.

Solomon gives a similar picture:

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”(Proverbs 17:14)

What caused the breached dam and ensuing flood?

Someone started a quarrel.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”(James 4:1)

James tells us we have desires that battle within.Unchecked, battles within lead to battles that get out. Quarrels–which may lead to an unexpected flood.

How do we avoid such a disaster?

“ . . .so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”(Proverbs 17:14b)

Dropping the matter means I drop my weapons, those desires battling within me. Desires like:

  • The desire to be right
  • The desire to have the last word (and the first)
  • The desire to defend myself
  • The desire to have my own way

But I’m a fighter and self-defense is justified, right?

Hardly. God is not impressed with my warrior spirit. He prefers I lay down my weapons and leave any unfinished business to Him. My job is to love my enemies, whether the enemy of the moment is a spouse, a sibling, or a stranger.

So drop it and practice some flood prevention.

Questions:

Do you know someone who likes to start quarrels?

If someone starts a quarrel, do you have to accept the invitation to the bickering party?

Give your top three reasons for quarrelling.

What are your weapons when you quarrel? (The desires you battle)

How can you drop your weapons?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingLinked In

(Wisdom is speaking)“If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.” (Proverbs 1:23)

Like Pooh in the tree after too much honey, do you find yourself stuck spiritually? Not moving? Does God seems quiet?

Wisdom speaks in the above verse from Proverbs and she shows us an interesting link:

Obedience and Intimacy

When God, through Wisdom, brought something to the attention of His children, they did not respond.

What happened next? Silence.

Let’s flip the scenario. If His children had responded, what would have happened?

  • “I would have poured out my heart to you.”
  • “I would have made my thoughts known to you.”

Intimacy.

A new closeness with the Father.

So, are you stuck? Has God spoken and you’ve ignored Him? Ask Him where you got off track and respond with the next step of obedience.

Questions:

Have you ever gotten stuck, literally?

What was it like?

How did you get free?

Why do you think Scripture links obedience with intimacy?

Is that logical? Fair?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingTraining Wheels

“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18)

When our kids learned to ride bikes, they were chaos on wheels. They swerved right. They swerved left. Starting required a curb. Stopping involved first aid.

They needed practice, so we started with training wheels. Then, we went to the local track and challenged them to stay in a lane. The lines marked a boundary and helped them control their body and their bike. Soon, they could ride, turn, and stop on a dime–without the need of the first aid kit.

Learning to maneuver through the challenges of life requires some practice too. Family rules and their consequences, chores, and the giving and losing of privileges provide training wheels and lane lines so kids progress to the sidewalks and streets of life’s neighborhood. These help kids master their wills to gain the self-control they need.

Bike accidents are ugly. I know. Yet, life’s accidents leave far more than scars and the memory of eight weeks in a cast. According to God, not to provide discipline is to be a willing party to a child’s death.

Kids, don’t fight the training wheels. Allow Mom and Dad to help you develop the self-control you need. Trust them.

Parents, keep at it. The harvest is coming.

Questions:

How did you learn to ride a bike? What safeguards did you have?

Tell me about your present level of cycling? Are there higher levels?

Now, examine your spiritual training. What safeguards have your parents put in place?

What could happen if those safeguards were removed before you were ready? How can you master a skill, like time management, so the safeguard’s removal is appropriate?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingStory by God

“The LORD works out everything for his own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster.” (Proverbs 16:4)

I love a good story and the key to a good story is conflict. Problems. Obstacles. Bad guys. Without them, you have no story. Think The Lord of the Rings without Sauron and his orcs. The Three Little Pigs without the wolf. Madeline without appendicitis. Ruby without little brother Max.

The conflicts on our favorite stories often mirror those in real life. Bullies. Standardized tests. Tryouts. Siblings. God assures us in Proverbs–He has a plan. Take a moment and read the verse above. Note the word everything.

Everything—the wicked, the bad day, the conflicts, the obstacles—is being worked out for His ends, His goals, His purposes.

And He is good.

If today is filled with struggle, be the hero or heroine of your own story. With God’s strength, face your nemesis. Overcome your obstacles. Press through to your problem’s solution. You are not alone. God is working everything for His own end.

Questions:

What is your favorite story?

What is the story’s problem or conflict?

How does it shape or change the hero?

What is your greatest challenge?

What potential change can you see?

How can you and God see this through together?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingKnocking Down Blocks

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)

Blocks. Colored wooden ones in all shapes. Cardboard bricks. My boys used them to carefully construct castles, army barracks, and forts. A well-built structure provided protection for their valiant warriors, army men, cowboys, or caped crusaders, a place to rest, regroup, or dig in for a fight. Still, even after meticulous building, knocking down the blocks afterwards always brought a thrill.

As my boys grew older, they exchanged their blocks for Lincoln Logs and later, for Legos. Now, words have become our blocks and with them, we build relationships. Friendship fortresses. Camaraderie construction. Buddy building.

And building is fun. Some friendships are built for a season—peewee football or middle school band. Others endure for a lifetime.

Solomon warns us not to smash the blocks. We have a choice—to build or to demolish. Smashing a friendship has far greater consequences than picking up a pile of blocks on the floor. How are you using your words?

Questions:

What did you like to build with when you were little? What did you build?

Did your materials change as you grew older? Did your structures change? How?

Consider the different relationships you have: family, friends, teammates.

Describe the construction for each one. Are they different?

What is your tendency–to build up or to tear down? Positive words or negative ones?

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