Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires of the Mouth

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26 20 NIV

The Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign started in 1944, and in 1947 the slogan that is familiar to many came to fruition; Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires (updated in 2001 to Wildfires). It is the longest public service campaign in the United States’ history. A campaign was derived to help the prevention of forest fires. Years of education gave the ownership to the general public to be more careful and to care for the world around you. The catchphrase reflects your responsibility.

 

Our family does not do “traditional” camping (unless a cabin with running water or hotel room is traditional camping to you). This doesn’t mean that we don’t love a good campfire.  This summer we spent some time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at our family cabin. The week was filled with cleaning out the overgrowth of trees and brush on the property, which meant a BIG campfire. Our burn pit is close to the lake, but is really in the middle of the woods (like most campfires). Being in the heart of the woods means being surrounded by a plethora of “fuel” if a fire is left to its own devices. So, before we left the cabin or went to bed, we had to make sure that the fire was out.

 

The wisdom from Proverbs 26:20 resonated with me. It says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” You see, a fire is only going to burn if it is fed. Our tongue is the fire and when you remove gossip or the “fuel,” it dies down. The best way to end (avoid) a quarrel? Keep your mouth shut!  Don’t get involved in what doesn’t concern you. Don’t take up offenses of others and don’t be easily offended. Don’t talk about what you don’t know and be very slow to talk about what you do know. Practice self-control in the moment and show Christ-like love at all times. Don’t be the fuel for the fire and the fight!

 

James 3:5-6 says “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell.” This just reinforces that our small tongue can do big damage.

 

Don’t fuel the flame of gossip and cause fights, only you can prevent wildfires of your mouth!

 

Erin Bormes

A Humble View Leads to the Best View

Proverbs 25

Proverbs 25 6 NIV

Have you ever been to a big sporting event and had tickets in the “nose bleed section?” As you are watching the game, you notice there are seats available courtside (tickets you would never be able to afford) and you decide that you are just going to move yourself to those seats instead!  We like the best seats. The view is better, and even more so is the appeal.  Sitting in the best seats makes us feel a little bit superior to “ordinary” people. Until the owner of the seats shows up with an attendant and asks to see your tickets and then ultimately asks you to move!  With your tail between your legs, you quietly pick up your drink and popcorn and head back to your original seat!

 

The wisdom I gleaned from today’s proverb was the importance of humility. Others may view it as a lesson on being presumptuous. Proverbs 25:6-7 says “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.” I think being presumptuous and humility go hand in hand. Sometimes we assume we have the “right” to do something and that boldness and self-confidence can get us into trouble. This can ultimately lead to “being humbled” by someone publicly and causing embarrassment. Whereas if you start with a humble heart, your impact will be long term and the benefits will be many.

 

We can see a similar situation in Luke 14 where Jesus is teaching about humility.  He notices the guests trying to pick the best seat at the table and he warns that sitting in the best seat might ultimately find them publicly humiliated when they are asked to move to a lower place at the table. He suggests that they seek a lower place at the table and the host might give them a public honoring by moving them to the best seat.  He says in verse 11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way, “A great man is always willing to be little.” Don’t worry about having the best seat at the ball game because in the end, your kingdom seat will have the best view EVER.

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

A Firm Foundation

Proverbs 24

Proverbs 24 3 NIV

 

My husband and I both grew up in families that were involved in the building industry. His family had a building/remodeling company in Minnesota and my family provided materials for the industry in Michigan. We were both raised with a knowledge and understanding for the industry so when it came time to build our own home, we were super excited to take on the task.

 

We didn’t just wake up one day and say let’s go build a house! It was a process with very specific steps; first, you needed a blueprint to know what you are doing. There are building codes you need to adhere to. You also don’t want to use cheap materials or cut corners. Wisdom is needed in the construction process.

 

Today’s proverb uses building as an analogy, in 24:3-4 it says “by wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” The term house in the Bible also can mean home, family or even legacy. Here Solomon is telling us that we need wisdom (an understanding of knowledge and the fear of God) to establish our home and family. Establishing a family is also a process where you want to make good choices, plan ahead and measure risks. Most importantly is the foundation of your family; you need it to be “established” on a firm basis of Godly wisdom so it will withstand the storms of life. The result will be that your rooms (or life) will be filled with rare and beautiful treasures (children, relationships, community).

 

Jesus reinforces this principle in the New Testament with the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders. In Matthew 7, he illustrates that if you build your life on obedience to God and the teachings of Jesus, then your house will be built on the rock.  When the storms of life come at us, the house will stand firm. Whereas if you build your house like the foolish man on the sand, you will ultimately fall (cue Sunday School song here).

 

If we want our families, marriages, parent/children relationships, etc. to succeed in the way in which God would desire our relationships to be , then we MUST operate in the wisdom of God. We cannot depend on our human wisdom. James 1:5 says if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

 

Establish your life and family on the firm foundation of God and his wisdom and you will have a structure that withstands the storms of this life!

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

Check Your Heart

Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23 19 NIV

 

Christian comedian John Crist has become known for the phrase “check your heart.” For example, when you order your meal at the counter but say “I’ll just have a water”, but when you get to the machine you fill up your cup with Sprite. Hmm… check your heart! He is not suggesting that you check the muscle that pumps blood through your arteries and veins. He is talking about your spiritual heart.

 

Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, said he to you; but his heart is not with you.” The Passion Translation puts it like this “For as he thinks within himself, so is he. He will grudgingly say, ‘Go ahead and eat all you want,’ but in his heart he resents the fact that he has to pay for your meal.” Basically, the words of your mouth and your heart need to be aligned. Your words will mean nothing if your heart holds a grudge.

 

When you think about doing something bad to a person, it’s just as bad as you doing it. If your heart is clean then your lips speak clean words but when your heart is dirty all that you share is dirty.  You might be able to hide it for a while but eventually it will come out.  We need to pray the same prayer of David in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

 

Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The writer wants us to understand that our first priority is to guard our spiritual heart because our whole life flows out of our heart. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

 

Make sure you are checking your heart regularly… and not with a stethoscope but with God’s word!

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

T.H.I.N.K before you speak

Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21 23

Have you ever had the case of the “open mouth, insert foot” syndrome?  I am sure we can all identity with a situation where we said something that got us in trouble. We might let a comment slip or we say something before we T.H.I.N.K about it.  Regardless of what was said, it ended in trouble and someone’s feelings being hurt.

 

The wisdom that I gleaned from today’s Proverb was found in 21:23 (The Message), “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” The NIV tells us to guard our mouth and tongue.  When I think of “guarding” my mouth and tongue, I envision a small solider pacing back and forth in my mouth being watchful of my words making sure they do not run off on their own. Ultimately preventing me from saying something I would regret long term!

 

In Proverbs 18:21 it says that the power of the tongue is life and death and in James 3 it says that our tongue also is a fire and it can set our lives on fire. Since we don’t have a solider guarding our mouths and words, I wanted to share an acronym that I learned years ago in hopes to help with the guarding of our own mouths.

 

T- Is it true?

H -Is it helpful?

I – Is it inspiring?

N – Is it necessary?

K – Is it kind?

 

Once we say something, we cannot take it back. So be careful little tongue what you say. Make sure what we say is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind (and Biblically correct!). Yes, you need to T.H.I.N.K. before you speak!

 

I think it is equally important to note that this can go for social media as well.  Though we are not actually speaking on social media our words are shared through our fingertips. The tricky thing is that people seem to think that words online don’t have an impact and that there is no personal connection. Unfortunately, online words can be stronger and more harmful than face to face. So, you need to T.H.I.N.K before you post!

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Smarter and Harder!

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20 4 NIV

 

There is a mantra out there these days that says “Work smarter, not harder.” And although the meaning of it is to find more effective ways to do your work (“smarter”), you still have to get the work done. Working more efficiently doesn’t ever mean that you will have to work less hard. It gives the connotation as if working hard is bad. In all reality, there is great value in diligence. It teaches perseverance, persistence, and determination. It teaches us that hard work pays off. It teaches us to push through when times are tough.

 

When we think about hard work, it paints several different pictures.  Some may see someone with sweat on their brow and callused hands, others may see long hours of studying or learning, and others may see someone trying to save their marriage or building relationships…hard work can be physical, intellectual or emotional. Regardless of how you view hard work, it takes time and effort.

 

The wisdom we glean from Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you’re too lazy to plant seed, it’s too bad when you have no harvest on which to feed (The Passion Translation).” The NIV version uses the word sluggards for lazy. A little name calling there but the point is hammered home. You don’t put in the hard work, there will be no harvest. It is the basic principle of sowing and reaping. What you work for is what you get.

 

We see this illustrated again in Proverbs 20:13 (The Passion Translation), “If you spend all your time sleeping, you’ll grow poor. So wake up, sleepyhead! Don’t sleep on the job. And then there will be plenty of food on your table.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, l love a good nap! But too much sleep means that you are missing out. If you put the work in, you’ll get a lot of it. And this is not just applicable in work life; it is also in relationships and intellect/wisdom. For example, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you actually have to spend time learning. You spend time and energy on lessons, and practice and more practice in hopes that someday you will have mastered the song you were working on. Rarely will you find someone who can just sit down to a piano and play Beethoven without putting in the work!

 

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” If you think about “your work” through the lens of this verse, then our hard work will eternally pay off! I think it might be wiser to say “work smarter and harder!”

 

Erin Bormes