Better Than Wicked

Certainly something to aspire for on our shared path of “Becoming Today”. Overcoming wickedness with grace and decorum are some of the wise aspects we’ll look as we continue along our search and rescue mission for wisdom

However, first I want to take a moment and share a little about this day in history.

As I post this it is the 12th of October, a day that has always befuddled me a bit. As I mentioned yesterday this is the day that historians attributed to Columbus making his “discovery” of the “New World”.  While he may have never seen it there were plenty of people already living here and had been for centuries. 

Not only would it seem illogical that you can discover a continent that is already inhabited, but also he never stepped foot in what became the United States. In fact his boots never touched North American soil. He actually landed in the Bahamas where October 12th is celebrated as “Founders Day”. 

Personally I have a very complicated relationship with this day, which is also my birthday. 

Generally these days are thought of as times of joyous celebration but that has not always been the case for me. I never had a birthday party until I turned 40, partially as a result of never having been allowed to have a childhood. As I usually explain I was short for a while and then grew out of it. 

Then being someone of native ancestry giving hero status to Columbus on this day was allowing for the 500 plus years of genocide his ‘exploration” unleashed on Turtle Island. Nothing to be proud of, much less to celebrate. Then we had a period for parts of two decades where my birthday also became known as a symbol of hate. 

On October 12, 1998 a college student was beaten, tortured and left to die, his attackers doing so because they disapproved of his identity. Matthew Shepard Day stood as a reminder of the dangers too many face because they live their lives differently than a perceived societal norm. 

In October 2009 the U-S Congress then approved  what’s commonly called the “Matthew Shepard Act”, which put an international focus on the need for hate crime legislation and prosecutions.

That was a point where I saw some light returning to this day. While I still really do not embrace my own celebration on this day I do use it as a standard of time to measure my own personal growth.

This past year I am happy to say I have improved exponentially. As I shared in “Why Becoming Became My Way”, “Sometimes all it takes is a few loving sincere words, a smiling Texan and an angel disguised as a monkey in a dog’s body coming together in spirit to lead us to the place where we can not only ask for, but also desire for and be able to accept the help we need”.

On this day I need to say thank you to that smiling Texan whom I have never met, nor spoken with. 

For his sincere words have rung true. Thank you Joel Osteen, while I had followed you some prior, it was on my birthday in 2020 that it suddenly clicked when you asked me to give you a year of my life and promised me that I would never be the same.

You were right. It is absolutely correct. Not only am I now undeniable, unequivocally, unshakably, uncommonly waking up with hope everyday, my life looks nothing like it did a year ago. In fact, as you say “you won’t be in the same place as you are today”, I am celebrating this day by literally moving to a new home, a new state, and an entirely new way of life. 

All very “Becoming” attributes along our shared path. 

I’ll be sharing more about the journey that led to me making this move, but this summer I already shared a bit, when we talked about “My Revival”.  That journey away from familiar surroundings on a trip that took me places I hadn’t planned on and taught me lessons I didn’t even know I needed. It also gave me insights into wisdom and understanding like the ones we have been exploring over the past two weeks.

We are continuing, now on day 15 of our extended odyssey, having undertaken a search and rescue mission for wisdom.

When the Bible keeps talking about the same thing over and over,that’s  because it is important.   That’s why Solomon continues  on the themes  of loving wisdom and treasuring her.  

Along with that we choose to understand that honoring the commandments of God will prevent us from making complete messes of our lives. They are our service, protection and give us life, joy, and everlasting blessings. Which we’ll explore  next on this edition of “Becoming Today”. 

Understanding that enlightenment is within our reach we shall seek and find the knowledge and inspiration necessary to uplift, support and enhance our collective journeys as well as our own personal paths. 

I want to thank you all for being here today. Whether you’ve followed this series for the past two weeks or if this is the first time you are joining us. We are involved in a month-long study of wisdom as taught in the Book of Proverbs. If you’d like to know more about The Passion Translation and why we are using it for this undertaking, you can find a recap near the end of today’s conversation.

Yesterday we spent our time together determining, “What’s Your Address?“. While we looked  at Proverbs 14, a chapter entitled “The House of Wisdom ”. Looking at it from the viewpoint of a desired address, an up and coming zip code or that Shangri La you’ve always dreamed of, we identified three reasons why this would be a good place to live.

For it’s promoted as a place where “Every wise woman encourages and builds up her family”, “Lovers of truth follow the right path”, (hopefully our shared one of “Becoming Today”) and is an environment that fosters safety and security as, “the words of the wise will become a shield of protection around them”.

And verses one through three also note that not choosing to live there has some drawbacks, “ but a foolish woman over time will tear it down by her own actions”. The “it” referenced here is her house, meaning not the physical dwelling but her family and loved ones. And instead of receiving the security of wise words, opting to live the opposite  ensures, “the words of a proud fool will all come back to haunt him”.

I hope you are having an encouraging safe day and nothing is coming back to haunt you, because we’ve got more work to do, as we’ll pick up today with our study of Proverbs Chapter 15.

This chapter is divided into two sections with the first of those being, 

Wisdom Far Better than Wickedness

Respond gently when you are confronted

    and you’ll defuse the rage of another.

    Responding with sharp, cutting words[a] will only make it worse.

    Don’t you know that being angry

    can ruin the testimony of even the wisest of men?[b]

When wisdom speaks, understanding becomes attractive.

    But the words of the fool make their ignorance look laughable.[c]

The eyes of the Lord[d] are everywhere

    and he takes note of everything that happens.

    He watches over his lovers,

    and he also sees the wickedness of the wicked.

When you speak healing words,

    you offer others fruit from the tree of life.

    But unhealthy, negative words do nothing but crush their hopes.[e]

You’re stupid to mock the instruction of a father,

    but welcoming correction will make you brilliant.[f]

There is prosperity in the house of the righteous,[g]

    but the house of the wicked is filled with trouble,

    no matter how much money they have.

When wisdom speaks, revelation-knowledge is released,[h]

    but finding true wisdom in the word of a fool is futile.

It is despicable to the Lord

    when people use the worship of the Almighty

    as a cloak for their sin,[i]

    but every prayer of the righteous is pleasing to his heart.

The Lord detests the lifestyle of the wicked,

    but he loves those who pursue purity.[j]

10 

Severe punishment awaits the one

    who turns away from the truth,

    and those who rebel against correction will die.

11 

Even hell itself holds no secrets from the Lord God,

    for before his eyes, all is exposed—

    and so much more the heart of every human being.

12 

The know-it-all never esteems the one who tries to correct him.

    He refuses to seek good advice from the wise.[k]

 

Living an Ascended Life

13 

A cheerful heart puts a smile on your face,

    but a broken heart leads to depression.

14 

Lovers of God[l] hunger after truth,

    but those without understanding

    feast on foolishness and don’t even realize it.

15 

Everything seems to go wrong

    when you feel weak and depressed.

    But when you choose to be cheerful,

    every day will bring you more and more joy and fullness.[m]

16 

It’s much better to live simply,

    surrounded in holy awe and worship of God,

    than to have great wealth with a home full of trouble.

17 

It’s much better to have a meal of vegetables surrounded with love and grace

    than a steak where there is hate.

18 

A touchy, hot-tempered man picks a fight,

    but the calm, patient man knows how to silence strife.

19 

Nothing seems to work right[n] for the lazy man,

    but life seems smooth and easy when your heart is virtuous.

20 

When a son learns wisdom,

    a father’s heart is glad.

    But the man who shames[o] his mother is a foolish son.

21 

The senseless fool treats life like a joke,

    but the one with living-understanding makes good choices.

22 

Your plans will fall apart right in front of you

    if you fail to get good advice.

    But if you first seek out multiple counselors,

    you’ll watch your plans succeed.

23 

Everyone enjoys giving great advice.

    But how delightful it is to say the right thing at the right time!

24 

The life-paths of the prudent lift them progressively heavenward,

    delivering them from the death spirals

    that keep tugging them downward.

25 

The Lord champions the widow’s cause,[p]

    but watch him as he smashes down the houses of the haughty!

26 

The Lord detests wicked ways of thinking,[q]

    but he enjoys lovely and delightful words.

27 

The one who puts earning money above his family

    will have trouble at home,

    but those who refuse to exploit others

    will live in peace.

28 

Lovers of God think before they speak,

    but the careless blurt out wicked words meant to cause harm.

29 

The Lord doesn’t respond to the wicked,

    but he’s moved to answer the prayers of the righteous.

30 

Eyes that focus on what is beautiful bring joy to the heart,[r]

    and hearing a good report

    refreshes and strengthens the inner being.[s]

31 

Accepting constructive criticism

    opens your heart to the path of life,

    making you right at home among the wise.

32 

Refusing constructive criticism shows

    you have no interest in improving your life,

    for revelation-insight only comes as you accept correction

    and the wisdom that it brings.

33 

The source of revelation-knowledge is found

    as you fall down in surrender before the Lord.

    Don’t expect to see Shekinah glory

    until the Lord sees your sincere humility.[t]

Take a moment to reflect, and then we’ll begin to break down some of today’s concepts.

The opening line of today’s chapter is something that the world definitely needs reminding of. 

Before we dissect it’s wisdom, I’ll offer a briefer version that comes from the NIV translation, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’.

Being polite and respectful gets better responses from people than yelling, finger pointing and name calling. I learned that lesson on the  playground somewhere around first grade, but a look at the headlines quickly reveals that apparently too many of our so-called leaders and authority figures never did. Or worse yet, know the truth and are refusing to follow it.

As we read together verse one explained in The Passion Translation is “Respond gently when you are confronted and you’ll defuse the rage of another”.

Makes perfect sense. Don’t blow your top or feign outrage and people won’t get mad at you. The text then continues, “Responding with sharp, cutting words will only make it worse”.

Highly logical yet too many of “captains” are stating what can only be termed as the highly illogical; refusing to realize the quote, “Don’t you know that being angry can ruin the testimony of even the wisest of men?”

It doesn’t matter how smart you may be. How dedicated you may be. How passionate you perceive yourself to be about an issue. If you are yelling, screaming, bullying, finger wagging and refusing to listen to others, much less accept that others can have relevant input there is no way I can hear you.

It doesn’t matter how loud you get, how many times you repeat it over and over again or whether or not your amplifiers go to eleven, a disrespectful, angry message will never strike a responsive chord in me, or many others.

Let’s lower the volume, maybe even press mute for a while and reset the message so we can all focus on the wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment available.

Much of what this chapter addresses is an idea we’ve previously shared discussions about.

In “Becoming: Meek -The New Bold”, I noted, too often the world uses the word meek improperly. Focusing on being submissive and equating that to being weak. However, that couldn’t be further from the Truth. Yes Truth – with a capital “T”. 

In the Scriptures we learn about the strengths of being meek, and the rewards we can be expectant of for our obedience. 

In Matthew 5:5, you can read, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”.

Taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, this verse is one of the Beatitudes. Simply defined beatitude as an extreme form of happiness. “The noun beatitude refers to a state of great joy. Being blessed, or at least feeling blessed, is often linked to beatitude.”

esus used the term meekness in the Beatitudes, as a description of those who were blessed, not those who were timid, weak or push overs. His use of the word was in line with the term-gentleness, and used as an impetus for trusting God to win the battle instead of taking extremes into our own hands to attempt to win on our own terms. 

The concept of being meek is often described as “strength under control”. 

Having the ability to temper our emotions, remain patient, steadfast in our faith and trust. Now that’s extremely bold behavior given some of the tests we face on a daily basis. 

That’s why I’m willing to declare that Meek is the new Bold.

Bold does not have to be loud, obnoxious or in their face. Bold can be realized, renewed, revitalized as being an active proponent of right. “Becoming” one who is willing to firmly stand their ground, with resolve, empowering the courage of conviction as our strength, supported by faithfulness and trust. 

It is no coincidence, ( since by now you may realize I do not believe there is such a thing as coincidence ), that forbearance is part of the definition of meekness. With emotions in check we can move forward and upward on our shared paths to “Becoming”.. By understanding that patient self-control, restraint and tolerance  all work together to strengthen our renewals, embolden our resolve for all to experience revival in our lives. 

As it says in verse 30 of today’s reading, “Eyes that focus on what is beautiful bring joy to the heart, and hearing a good report refreshes and strengthens the inner being’.

In the closing passages, we hear some very wise advice, let’s read these final verses again, beginning with number “31 Accepting constructive criticism opens your heart to the path of life, making you right at home among the wise. 32 Refusing constructive criticism shows you have no interest in improving your life, for revelation-insight only comes as you accept correction and the wisdom that it brings”.

We all are in need of change and improvements. In order to do so we need to seek wise counsel and be open to accepting inspired advice that is shared with us. If we are not, well that’s the opposite of “Becoming”. Dwelling does no good. Seeking, searching, evolving, moving our momentum forward and upward towards our purpose and the lives we are intended to live can not happen if we linger, bicker and divide ourselves from one another.

For it is as the Lord says in Isaiah 43, ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”

See it. Accept it. Embrace it.  Become it. 

As the closing line for today’s study reads, “The source of revelation-knowledge is found as you fall down in surrender before the Lord. Don’t expect to see Shekinah glory until the Lord sees your sincere humility”.

Humbly submit yourself to the Lord and then you will see, experience and live the visible manifestation of his power, glory, love and promises here on Earth.

Can I have an Amen?

Truth, understanding, enlightenment and wisdom are all very “Becoming” traits. They empower us to grow and learn to be who we truly were intended to be. Which in turn enables us to continue moving on, with our momentum fully powered forward and upward.

I hope you have enjoyed the first two weeks, yes 14 days already of this odyssey. Plus there is much more to come.

As always I encourage you to actively participate. Please post your comments, questions, suggestions or concerns below. This is a safe space to share and there are protections in place to keep spammers out. I will respond to all who choose to participate. 

If you do not feel comfortable sharing below, remember you can always reach out privately through the easy to use form on our Contact page.

I pray each and every one of you enjoys a safe and blessed day. Then join us tomorrow as we continue our proverbial search here along this shared  journey we call “Becoming Today”. 

For those that have been here for a while I hope some of the repetitive nature of these posts is not too distracting. Not only are some of these points to remind us of our focus this month, it is also designed to also be welcoming.

We never know when a fellow traveler may walk along with us, or need to take a diversion. 

This is especially true since I have no idea what algorithm directed you, what search method may have pointed in our direction or how many of you find us on any given day. Therefore it’s necessary to recap some of the outline for our combined purposes. 

I appreciate your patience and understanding, so I’ll now mention we’ve come to that point in this conversation and if you’ve already heard this, then you can skip the next few paragraphs and pick up with the next image.

Now for those of you listening to the podcast I know that makes no sense, since you can’t hear any of the beautiful graphics we create each day, so you’ll just have to listen along; again… (insert audible giggle here) understanding that I’m laughing with you not at you.

As I am apt to do, even if you have studied Proverbs before, our undertaking may be a bit different, as we’ll be adding some passion to it. 

I am being called to focus this teaching around the The Passion Translation® book of Isaiah and New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.

Done so by  Dr. Brian Simmons who believes the” message of God’s story is timeless; the Word of God doesn’t change. But the methods by which that story is communicated should be timely; the vessels that steward God’s Word can and should change. 

Also I’ll remind you that the footnotes referred to are available below and include underlined study links.

Footnotes

15:1 Or “painful words.”

 

15:1 This sentence is found only in the Septuagint.

 

15:2 The Aramaic reads “The mouths of fools vomit a curse.”

 

15:3 “The eyes of the Lord” can also be a metaphor for his prophets.

 

15:4 Or “perverse words are the crushing of the spirit.”

 

15:5 The Septuagint adds a verse that is not found in the Hebrew: “In great righteousness there is great strength. But the ungodly will one day perish from the earth.”

 

15:6 The Septuagint and the Aramaic read “There is power in the house of the righteous.” Both concepts are valid.

 

15:7 Or “is scattered like seed.”

 

15:8 Or “the sacrifice of the wicked”; that is, worshiping God with a wicked heart, only to hide sin. Our yielded hearts must be the sacrifice we offer to God.

 

15:9 The Aramaic reads “he shows mercy to the one who practices righteousness.”

 

15:12 Another way to say this is “The one who hates authority has no love for being taught.”

 

15:14 Or “The upright” (Aramaic).

 

15:15 The Septuagint reads quite differently: “And the good [heart] is always calm.”

 

15:19 Or “The way is blocked with thorns.”

 

15:20 Or “despises.”

 

15:25 Or “The Lord maintains the boundaries of the widow.”

 

15:26 Or “the thoughts of the wicked.”

 

15:30 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “The light of the eyes brings joy.”

 

15:30 The Hebrew here literally means “makes fat your bones.” Bones picture our inner being.

 

15:33 Or “Before honor is humility.” The Hebrew uses the word kabod, which is translated as “glory” 156 times in the Old Testament.

The Passion Translation®. 
Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc

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