Wildlife Warnings and Wild Life Warnings

Warnings - DangerWildlife has been especially wild lately. Although June is barely two weeks old, a decapitated rattlesnake bit a Texas man. An alligator killed a Florida woman. And in Minnesota, an unidentified wild animal killed a five-year-old boy.

Last month a hungry cougar killed a mountain biker in Washington state. And the month before saw a man in North Carolina killed by a coyote. In March, a crazed river otter jumped into a kayak and attacked a woman.

Some blame the increased animal attacks on the loss of wildlife habitat due to construction. Still others claim the problem is often due to people who intentionally draw close to wild animals despite clear warnings.

Whatever the reason, wild creatures should be given wide berth. Still, cautious behavior is wisely applied to more than just the animal kingdom.

How many times have you and I flirted with disaster when we ignored warnings in other areas of life?

Warnings from parents to children. Advice from doctors. Cautions from law enforcement officers. Yet too many of us ignore wise counsel in favor of desire or convenience.

Which brings us to the counsel and cautions found in the Bible, many of which we want to follow…until something else distracts us. Consider this sampling from Proverbs:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).

This verse sound terrific, until we get to the word submit. Submission is a dirty word in our culture, frequently equated with weakness. We say we trust the Lord, but our actions reveal otherwise. Truth is, we trust ourselves more than we trust Him.

In what area are you claiming to trust God, but are not submitting to Him?

 

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).

Appearances can be deceiving, or so the adage says. In the moment, a temptation looks good. It looks right. We justify our choices with phrases such as “What’s the harm?” and “It’s only one time.” But sometimes once is all that’s needed to bring irreparable damage.

How can you cultivate discernment in differentiating between what appears right and what is right?

 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).

If you’re like me, guarding your tongue is a full-time job. When faced with anger, I want to answer gently. Yet a defensive spirit and harsh words seem to rise up before I can stop them. Of course, I know the result will be increased trouble even as I speak, but my desire to defend myself often overrides my desire to de-escalate the situation.

How can you develop a habit of responding with “a gentle answer”?

 

Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and renounce them find mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Secrets possess power. What we try to hide ends up controlling us. But when we bring that thing—whatever it is—into the light, it loses its power over us. That thing could be shame over abuse committed against us, or guilt over behavior that hurt others. It could also be attitudes of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness that hurt ourselves. The first step is confessing it to God. Sometimes an added step of confession to another person is needed for accountability.

What are you concealing that should be brought into the light? Will you confess it now to God? If accountability is needed, will you find a trusted accountability partner?

 

Wise warnings encourage us to avoid contact with wild animals for our own safety. Wise warnings also encourage us to seek a close walk with the Lord and to keep our distance from sin…also for our own safety.

What warnings will you heed today?


Is It in the Bible?

I grew up hearing adults say all kinds of wise things. At least they sounded wise…and biblical. Just the sort of statements God would include in the Bible, especially in books like Proverbs.

You’re probably familiar with most of them. So how about a little quiz? How many of the following axioms are really in the Bible?

  1. This, too, shall pass.
  2. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  3. Laughter is the best medicine.
  4. God helps those who help themselves.
  5. Spare the rod, spoil the child.
  6. God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.
  7. Pride goeth before a fall.
  8. The eye is the window to the soul.
  9. Money is the root of all evil.
  10. To thine own self be true.

Bible

This, too, shall pass.
This phrase is actually associated with a Persian fable written during the Middle Ages. The fable was popularized in the early 1800s and Abraham Lincoln referred to it in a speech he gave in 1859. The closest thing in the Bible is the oft-used phrase in the King James Version, “And it came to pass….”

Cleanliness is next to godliness.
In 1605, Francis Bacon wrote “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” In 1791, John Wesley made the following statement in a sermon: Slovenliness is no part of religion. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.” The closest Bible verse to this aphorism is found in James 4:8 (ESV) – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Laughter is the best medicine.
You may have seen this feature in a monthly issue of Reader’s Digest, but you didn’t see it in the Bible. The closest verse is Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) – “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

God helps those who help themselves.
This adage is most often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but its essence actually appears much earlier. In 409 BC, Sophocles wrote, “Heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act.” A similar statement is found in the Qu’ran: “Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change it themselves” (13:11).

Spare the rod, spoil the child.
This axiom is from Samuel Butler, a 17th century British poet. Is it in the Bible? Not as a direct quote. The closest Bible verse is Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) – “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.
While this statement is often true, you won’t find it quoted in Scripture. It appears in a hymn written by 19th century poet William Cowper: “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” The most closely associated verse might be Isaiah 55:8 (NIV) – “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”

Pride goeth before a fall.
This adage comes close to a Bible verse, although it’s also not a direct quote: Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The eye is the window to the soul.
Another phrase that sounds like it should be in the Bible. It’s not there, but a related verse is Matthew 6:22 (ESV) – “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

Money is the root of all evil.
This is another maxim that is very similar to a Bible verse, but it’s missing a few words. First Timothy 6:10 (ESV) says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”

To thine own self be true.
Is it in the Bible? No. It is a line from Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare: “This above all things: to thine own self be true” (3.1.81).

So how many of these ten aphorisms are quoted in the Bible?
One? Two? Five?

None!

Now it’s your turn. What biblical-sounding axioms can you add to this list…and do you know if they really are in the Bible?


Time for Happiness

For most children in school the Christmas break seems eons away from September. After Christmas vacation, the Easter break feels like it will never arrive. For me, the worst was always after Easter. Summer vacation was tantalizingly close, yet far enough away that the waiting was almost painful.

So when did things change? When did time begin moving faster than children at the sound of an ice cream truck’s bell? I don’t remember the precise moment, but gradually—almost imperceptibly—the pages of the calendar turned with an increasing frequency that bordered on illegal.

Until I began submitting work for publication. Then it felt like time stood still. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, as I waited for responses to my submissions.

Anticipation makes us eager for the next big thing, whatever it is. Children yearn for Christmas. Pre-adolescents can’t wait to be teens. Teens crave to be adults. Adults in the workforce long for retirement.

The result of all this wishing and wanting is that we end up wishing our lives away. We’re so focused on tomorrow and what tomorrow will bring, that we fail to enjoy the blessings of today. Our happiness is based on happenings that have happened and happenings that haven’t happened yet!

This does not mean that we should not plan ahead. The Bible tells us, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5) and “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).

God wants us to plan ahead, but He wants us to leave room in our plans for Him. Proverbs also says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” and “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (16:3, 9).

I intend to continue setting goals and planning for tomorrow. I also intend to leave room for God to show up in my todays as well as in my tomorrows. As I do, I have a feeling the passage of time won’t seem quite so fast. My happiness quotient may not increase, but my joy, based on trusting Jesus Christ for the results, will skyrocket.

How quickly is time passing for you?