Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.
~Proverbs 4:23-27 (Remember…Solomon wrote Proverbs too!)
Ecclesiastes Chapter 7
Stay in Touch with Both Sides
15-17 I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil. So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it. But don’t press your luck by being bad, either. And don’t be reckless. Why die needlessly?
18 It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
19 Wisdom puts more strength in one wise person
Than ten strong men give to a city.
20 There’s not one totally good person on earth,
Not one who is truly pure and sinless.
21-22 Don’t eavesdrop on the conversation of others.
What if the gossip’s about you and you’d rather not hear it?
You’ve done that a few times, haven’t you—said things
Behind someone’s back you wouldn’t say to his face?
How to Interpret the Meaning of Life
23-25 I tested everything in my search for wisdom. I set out to be wise, but it was beyond me, far beyond me, and deep—oh so deep! Does anyone ever find it? I concentrated with all my might, studying and exploring and seeking wisdom—the meaning of life. I also wanted to identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness.
26-29 One discovery: A woman can be a bitter pill to swallow, full of seductive scheming and grasping. The lucky escape her; the undiscerning get caught. At least this is my experience—what I, the Quester, have pieced together as I’ve tried to make sense of life. But the wisdom I’ve looked for I haven’t found. I didn’t find one man or woman in a thousand worth my while. Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.
You’ve heard of potpourri? I have some for you…a mix of beautifully scented words that will gladden your heart and, more importantly, make you think. Here’s Uncle Solomon’s wisdom that will inform and change your life with a distinctly female twist. Solomon seemed pretty bitter as a result of his negative conflicts with women. I don’t entirely agree with all his insights regarding the female sex, but I think I’ve figured a few things out about my sisters. And while this week’s sermon is all about seeking wise counsel and not paying attention to every word people say, I’ve tossed in some wisdom about which women you can count on and which you can’t, which ones are worth your time and who you’d best leave to their own devices. My loving mother, who is in heaven and probably having a cup of her favorite mocha coffee with Jesus right now, shared a lot of this kind of wisdom with me as I was growing up. I’ve learned a lot from other wise women too, and I’m fixing to share some of that wisdom with you.
A few years ago I heard a speaker who talked about the fact that she especially loves fat women. Here is what she meant by fat…Faithful, Available, Teachable. That was a real firecracker of an idea for me. She went on to say that when she decided she was going to disciple a woman who was new to the faith she would tell that woman to show up at her door at 6 am for Bible study. “If she isn’t willing to come at 6 am then she’s not that serious.” Here’s how I’ve applied that wisdom in my life: I don’t spend any time or energy thinking about the women who don’t show up…they are the Holy Spirit’s concern! I simply continue to pray for them. However, I do concentrate on the women who consistently come to the study I’m teaching.
My new friend Joann tracks me down almost every Sunday morning to ask me questions about spiritual matters. She even buys and reads the books on spiritual growth that I recommend. She’s the skinniest FAT woman I know! If a woman is teachable she is going to learn more because the Holy Spirit has opened her heart. My dears, that woman is a joy to teach. On the flip side, there is no point leading a horse to water that has no interest in drinking. Leave her alone and let the Holy Spirit do his work. God is preparing her for some other sister to work with down the road apiece…or maybe not. That’s for the Spirit, not you, to decide.
This is truth: all of us are lost and only Jesus can save. I remember as a little girl the times I’d come home crying about a rude comment made by some other little girl. My mother would give me a hug and say, “You just stay away from her!” My mother was so wise! Uncle Solomon said he wanted to “identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness.” I have learned through the years that I cannot fix a broken sister, but without judging I can certainly identify her. I can pray for her. I can love her and forgive her and keep no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 3:15), but I cannot repair her or she will damage me in the process. I need to guard my OWN heart! (Proverbs 4:27) When I get to know a sister and discover I cannot trust her because she has maligned my good name, spoken about me in an unkind way behind my back, attempted to manipulate me and/or taken advantage of my good nature I shake that woman’s dust off my feet and move on.
I’m always very aware of the plank I have sticking out of my eye (Matthew 7:3), so I do not judge. I’m forgiven, therefore I forgive. Again, I know I will be judged by God so I keep my mouth shut and do not verbally judge; however, my experience is that unsafe people show their true colors pretty quickly. I’ve been burned…sometimes to a crisp! So now those unsafe women in my life are people I choose love from a distance. I don’t allow their unkind or manipulative ways to affect me one iota. This is not mean, it is wise and it is Biblical. As Patsy Clermont says, “Treat that woman like a Southern stranger.” If you’ve had trouble discerning safe women from the unsafe, click on this link and buy this book: Safe People.
Choose joy. No matter what happens in life, no matter what befalls, it behoves us to enjoy life and not go around with a downcast countenance AKA a pouty face. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (ESV) Do you know how to have a good time and not be too serious all the time? Then I want YOU for a friend. Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the fruit of the spirit. High on my personal list of the fruits I love are fresh pineapple and pure joy. When I hear a group of women gathered around a table laughing while they study God’s Word I want to join that table.
My good friend Hope texted me one afternoon last week and said, “We need to catch up. Do you want to go for a pedicure?” I was on it like white on rice. We giggled and talked about everything in our lives. She always makes me laugh. She always reminds me to pray about things I can’t change. I can’t get enough time with Hope. She’s one of my super good, super safe friends. Who comes to mind as we are talking about this? Do you have some women in your life to laugh with? Book a pedicure with her this week.
In addition, read things that amuse you. Have you ever read Patsy Clermont’s God Uses Cracked Pots? Patsy took the title from 2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” There’s a story in that book about panty hose and a garden center that I’m still laughing about after reading the book over 10 years ago. It is not wise to take life too seriously. Woman, whatever it is that is on your last nerve, just laugh it off, laugh it away, laugh when you feel like crying…laugh!
All my life God has brought me into friendship with women who are older than me. When I was raising my boys it was Peggy Wing. She was deep into the wonders of motherhood while I was just starting out. She had this little cross-stitch picture on her wall that said, “Quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep, I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.” Did she have a tidy house? Not necessarily, but that woman had her priorities straight. She taught me a lot about how to love my children well.
Another woman who taught me a lot was Kathy VanderWal. Kathy had three boys and one girl. One son is a pastor and her daughter works at a missions school in Kenya. Kathy knew the power of these (non)words, “Uh-huh.” I saw her do this on more than one occasion. Once as she was planning her wedding, Kathy’s daughter told Kathy she wanted to have pizza delivered for the wedding reception. Kathy just said, “Uh-huh.” She didn’t get her undies in a bunch. Did her daughter have pizza for her reception? No. It was a lovely chicken breast with a yummy sauce on top and…anyway…you get the idea. Kathy prayed. She waited. It all worked out. What wisdom!
These women taught me so much and I will be forever grateful. Who is ahead of you in your walk with the Lord? Maybe it isn’t your mother, grandmother, or someone that is even related to you. Look around and find someone who is navigating life well, sidle up to her and start watching and listening. That woman will teach you how to navigate the bumpy road of life, because only God can smooth the path for you (Proverbs 4:23-27).
Here I need to tell you about my sweet friend Becky Cripps. She and her husband Jamie raised four children: two biological and two they adopted from Russia. About a month ago Becky and Jaime came to Florida and delivered some devastating news. Becky has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Solomon writes, “I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good.” That’s Becky he’s talking about there. In typical Becky fashion she spoke not of herself and what she will go through, but of how sad she was about what her husband would be going through. Becky, my dear sweet friend, many tears, but no words.
Here’s some assurance: if you’re not sure if you are choosing the right (or safe) woman, then pray that God connects you with her! Your Peggy, Kathy, Hope or Becky is out there and with prayer you will find her. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Listen to the Holy Spirit. He will guide you as to what woman in your life can help you along the path. Don’t try to go it alone.
If these words resonates with you, pray and ask God to provide what you need. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” God built us for relationships. Over and over again in my life He has answered my prayer for wise women to connect with. Have you tried Girls Night Out at Clermont or Mount Dora? That would be a good place to begin. May God bless you in your quest.
El Shaddai, you are the mighty and sufficient one who provides me with everything that I need. You have sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, so I will never be alone or without His counsel. I praise you for who you are and for everything you have done for me. I thank you for sending Jesus to save me. I worship you for your constant provision for me. Now, I’m asking you to send wise women my way. I know you will answer this prayer because it honors you and what you have promised in your Word. I don’t need to feel anxious, worried or afraid. When my wisdom fails, you will guide me. Thank you for all you have done for me. In Jesus Name, Amen.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Patsy Clairmont and she is coming to Real Life | Clermont in September 2018! For a sneak preview, click here. Check out the Real Life website for details and to purchase tickets. Invite the friend you love to laugh with. You can read more about Patsy here: Wisdom Archives. You know I love to worship through song. Here’s a good one: Hillsong’s Who You Say I Am.
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 38 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is at the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.
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