Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 8:10-11)
The news is filled with reports of how people are going to have to adjust to a “new normal” once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted; doing things differently and valuing protection and a close family circle more than ever. We’ve been forced to restructure and re-evaluate all of the things that we hold dear.
My cousin and I once spent the better part of a week digging a two or three-foot hole around a large stone that we believed was the grave-site of a First Nations chief. The large rock stood overlooking a valley on their farm and, in the minds of two ten-year-old boys, was the perfect marker for a warrior or hero. Our efforts landed us a handful of triangular rocks that might have been arrowheads; or might have been triangular rocks. However, all was not lost; the hours spent seeking treasure were rewarded with rich friendship that was worth more than any archaeological find.
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Building Your Mind-Memory
Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:2-3)
Several years ago I had the opportunity to interview Lyndon Rush, the Canadian bobsled athlete. He and Jessie Lumsden were the 2013 overall two-man World Champions and he piloted the Canadian 4-man bobsled team to a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Winter Olympic Games. He now coaches young athletes to excel in this sport of finger-tip reflexes and break-neck speed.
Lyndon Rush’s role on the team as driver meant that he needed to guide the bobsled through the twists and turns of the world’s most dangerous tracks. He explained that his position required both great physical strength and mental toughness, as he was responsible for the lives of his teammates. “People can die in this sport if you don’t know what you’re doing,” he said in the interview.
As the driver of both the 4-man and 2-man events, Lyndon Rush put into practice a skill which he learned as a young boy; building his mind-memory. Rush grew up in a Christian home and memorized scripture as a child. He employed this same skill, memorizing and visualizing the perfect line of each track. His ability to guard the fine details of each course enabled him to compete at a world-class level.
The same skill is needed for us as we navigate the complexities of the Covid-19 world. We are able to employ the words of Proverbs 7, which promises to keep us from wayward ways; keeping us on track. Memorizing the Word of God and focusing on His promises enables us to live in such a way that the “straight paths” or furrows of Proverbs 3:5-6 become our natural reaction to the circumstances and temptations that are thrown our way. Hiding God’s Word in our hearts – scripture memory – is one way to ensure that we can keep our way pure and not sin against Him (Psalm 119:9, 11).
A Frown or a Smile?
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him. (Proverbs 6:16)
What do haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up dissension all have in common? These are things that God – the One who describes Himself as love – declares as “out of bounds.”
Human character doesn’t change in the face of a pandemic, and even though our media reports some acts of charity and human interest, there are also the stories of hoarders, internet and phone scams, and those deliberately disobeying the required limits of physical distancing and self-isolation.
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Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel. (Proverbs 5:8-9)
We’ve got some great word-pictures in the English language, and “curiosity killed the cat” is one of them. It reminds me of a neighbour’s cat some years ago. The feline would come and drink from our dog’s water dish, just outside our back door window. The “kitty with the bell” flaunted her audacity with a flick of her tail and would go off, ringing as she fled at the sound of an opening door.
Proverbs chapter five speaks of one specific sin, but the principle applies to all others. While we may not be getting out during these days of the pandemic, the truth is that we might be thinking ahead to those times that we’ll be released back into what is being called a “new normal.” When we do, our bent towards pushing the limit and seeing how close we can get to something without getting burnt, will still hold true. This chapter is clear; stay away from it!
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The last thing that I want to have happen to me during this time of pandemic is to need to go into the hospital for an emergency surgery, or testing, or anything like that. It makes sense, therefore, to make sure that we take care of our physical and mental health. Much like pre-Covid19 times, there are three things that we need to observe to give ourselves a fighting chance for a healthy heart: Get plenty of rest, eat properly, and exercise daily.
Is it any surprise that a healthy spiritual heart requires the three same elements? Taking care of our heart takes care of all other elements of our lives.
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Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5, 6 – NIV)
Last summer Rhonda and I did something that we are not going to be able to do in this summer in our Covid-19 world. We ticked an item off my bucket list, traveling to Washington D.C. and to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. We hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail and drove the Skyline Drive, an historic 105-mile route that traverses Shenandoah National Park.
Each time I drive in the mountains I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 and a personal question gnaws at me: Why does trusting in God lead to “straight paths” instead of a life filled with wonder and adventure around each corner? I wonder if people in Saskatchewan or Kansas understand this verse differently from those who live in British Columbia or Colorado?
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May 1, 2020 – Proverbs Chapter 1
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. (Prov. 1:32-33)
Welcome to Proverb-a-Day, the “Wisdom for a COVID-19 World” edition. It’s been my habit for many years to take advantage of a month with 31 days to read through the book of Proverbs. This year it seems to be a worthwhile exercise as we live in a world of self-isolation and government-enforced quarantine, as the world faces a global pandemic that has resulted in the death of over 250,000 people. What does the Word of God have to say to us in this situation?
I encourage participants to read through one chapter each day and write a brief note in the comments section of this posting. Add your thoughts about with the ways you have seen biblical principles work themselves out in your life, or how they speak to your current situation. Use this exercise to reflect on what God is teaching you during this time.
I usually start my reflections on Proverbs by noting two things: First, that the Hebrew word for wisdom is has the idea of power for living embedded in it. Second, that the purpose statement for the book is found in verse seven – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
The verses that jump out at me today, living in a COVID-19 world, have a timely warning. We are told the results of the person that despises wisdom; in this situation that there is a reason to listen to our healthcare professionals and take measures like physical distancing and self-isolation. God’s wisdom for our current situation, given through the people he has placed in positions of authority, is so we might live in safety. Disregard the warnings and you will learn the wisdom of a Texas saying; If you want to dance, you’re going to have to pay the fiddler.
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The Return: A 9/11 Story is an adult fiction novel that follows Cassie MacDonald’s journey as she receives a mysterious hand-delivered letter at her workplace. The letter, delivered by a homeless man, suggests that her father, one of the missing persons from the 9/11 attacks, might be alive. The letter claims to be sent by a friend of the family, but his unwillingness to step out of the shadow casts doubt upon his motives. Is he wanted by the FBI? Is the mob after him? Is he who he really claims to be? Is there more to his story?
Cassie’s life is already complicated by the challenges of her mother’s recent death and her stepfather’s insistence on selling their Jersey City home. She seeks help from her high school friend Jordainne who introduces her to Tim Martinuk, a young, legal intern.
Tim’s faith and his own 9/11 story help Cassie navigate the instructions left by the mysterious man. Together they tackle a question that goes beyond if her father is alive: Can Cassie learn to trust God, even when she doesn’t know what’s around the next curve in the road?
A paperback copy of the the novel will be sent to the first ten people who purchase the eBook version of the novel (pre-published on Apr. 25, 2020) and write a review on either Amazon.com or Goodreads. The hard copy is due for release sometime in late Spring or early Summer of 2020. Find more details at Amazon.com.
You can order copies of 5 or more Twas the Night: A Christmas Collection by contacting me directly. The price of $8 per copy does not include delivery via UPS.