Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wise Guys or Fool's Side?

Online Study of the book of {Proverbs}
By Karyn Wells, RockPoint Church

Week 2

The Value of Wisdom

Read Proverbs 2…it’s short, it will only take you a few minutes.

This is a chapter of comparisons.  Standing face to face are two opposing sides:  Wisdom and Foolishness.

Most of us would certainly not side with the Fools.  We’re smarter than that . . . aren’t we?



Wise Guys                               Fools

But, then, we are a little afraid to stand with the Wise.  We’d like to, but we start remembering some foolish things we may have done in the past…and I’m not just talking about the teenage years that can be shrugged off with, “I was just 16 and naïve,” I’m talking about a year or two ago, maybe even a day or two ago!  We look at the Wise Guys and feel unworthy and inadequate.  We look at the Fools, and we slowly, regretfully walk towards them…standing in the back where we hopefully won’t be noticed.

It reminds me of my new cycling class.  I thought I’d like to try the class for something different to switch up my usual routine of running and Zumba.  I felt I was fit enough to do it, so I walked into the class with nothing more than a “Let’s try this!” attitude.  And then I saw the people…

I was the third chubbiest person in that room.  There were men and women on bikes, wearing sleek, body-hugging bicycle shorts, armed with multiple water bottles and towels.  The instructor looked like some Greek goddess with a bike for a throne…muscles rippling while she pedaled furiously…and this was just the warm-up!  I looked down at my long, wide-legged work-out pants and cozy hoody and quietly slipped to the back of the class with my bike.  “Oh, no!” the instructor bellowed, “There is no second row!”  I gulped.  She was talking to me!  She got off her bike and helped pull my bike into the front row…front center.  Then she helped my feet into the pedals and strapped them on tight so they wouldn’t fall off (I wasn’t sure if she meant the pedals or my feet!).  I was trapped!

And that’s how it feels for us when we reluctantly take our place on the fool’s side. 


Every one of us says and does things we regret and feel foolish for afterwards.  Sometimes we learn a lesson from those foolish words or actions, and then we have wisdom!

But Proverbs encourages us to get wisdom before we do something foolish!  By “getting wisdom,” we can actually prevent foolish words, foolish actions and foolish thoughts from even forming in our hearts!

Go back to chapter 2 and begin re-reading…and make a list under these headings:

(Note:  I use the New King James Version. Some words may vary slightly in other versions.)

 Chapter 2:1-9

IF you will…
THEN you will…
WHY you should…
Receive my ______________
Treasure my _____________
Incline your ear to _________
Apply your heart to ________
Cry out for _______________
and ____________________
Seek and search for _______
Understand the __________
Understand ______________
___________, ___________
and ___________________
The Lord gives __________,
__________________, and
He stores up ____________ for the upright.
He is a _____________ to those who walk uprightly.

Chapter 2:10-22

When You DO . . .
When You DON’T . . .
Discretion will _______________ you
Understanding will ________ you and
_____________ you from evil ways and evil people
You will be _____________ from immorality and unfaithfulness
You will walk in the way of _____________
and paths of _________________
You will ____________ in the land
You will be __________  _________ from the earth.
You will be _________________ from the land.

The Wise Guys and The Fools are worlds apart, aren’t they?  I know which side I want to be on!

Pray that the godly wisdom you have now keeps you from evil.  The temptations are great!  It’s so easy to slip out a few choice words when the pressure is on and then later regret the hurt they caused.  It’s so easy to watch a movie or TV show that we know isn’t edifying, just because we’re too lazy to change the channel.  It’s so hard to keep our motives pure when we really want something to happen or when we think our way is better.  Pray for more wisdom!

“Help us, Lord, to passionately pursue Wisdom with a capital W….Godly Wisdom, not worldly wisdom.  Help us to see the value of it in our lives---its preserving power and protection, its joy and peace, its rich reward.  You promised in Your Word that if anyone lacks wisdom You would give it liberally if we would just ask.  So we ask!  Give us wisdom, knowledge and understanding…that we might please you and preserve ourselves and walk on pleasant paths of righteousness all the days of our lives.  Amen!”


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If you want to check your answers, scroll down to the bottom of the page!






Chapter 2:1-9

If You Will . . .                                                            Then You Will . . .

Receive my words                                          understand the fear of the Lord and understanding

Treasure my commands                                understand righteousness, justice, equity, and 

Incline your ear to wisdom                                          every good path

Apply your heart to understanding

Cry out for discernment and understanding

Seek and search for wisdom as silver


Why You Should…

The Lord gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding

Stores up wisdom for the upright

He is a shield to those who walk uprightly

He guards the paths of justice

He preserves the way of His saints

Chapter 2:10-22

When You Do…

Discretion will preserve you

Understanding will keep you and deliver you from evil ways and evil people

Delivered from immorality and unfaithfulness

Walk in the way of goodness and paths of righteousness

Dwell in the land


When You Don’t…

Cut off from the earth

Uprooted from the land


Monday, January 21, 2013

Knowledge is Power

Online Study of the book of {Proverbs}
By Karyn Wells, RockPoint Church


Knowledge is power.

I remember very well how a little bit of knowledge gave me a superior edge over my siblings and cousins when I was young. It was Christmas Eve...Santa was coming! Only I didn’t believe in Santa any more. I was the oldest in my clan—the oldest sibling and oldest cousin. You’d think position alone would have been enough to satisfy me. But it wasn’t. See, I had a little knowledge on a certain subject, and that knowledge put me in a greater position than birth put me in a position of power. I had the ability to change the night—that Christmas—for all my younger siblings and cousins...for-e-ver. So armed with might, I waited until the perfect moment. Our parents had tucked us all in bed with the admonition to be quiet and go to sleep or Santa couldn’t come. Of course, a bedroomful of excited children on Christmas Eve made obeying that command almost impossible. We whispered back and forth and giggled under the covers for awhile. And then I did it: "You know," I said in a hushed tone of utmost authority and superiority, "there’s no such thing as Santa." With one voice, every child in that room came back at me with an indignant, "Yes, there is!!" I replied in a calm, educated tone: "No, there isn’t. All your presents come from your parents." I shot down a few more challenges and protests, and then the job was done., wails...rose from that bedroom, causing our parents to come running. And then you can imagine what happened next! Someone with more knowledge than I turned their power on me! As you can see, I’ve never forgotten that lesson...but I’ve also never forgotten the exquisite sensation of knowledge and power.  And hopefully, I've gained the wisdom to know how to handle the knowledge and harness the power!.

And that’s the theme for the book of Proverbs...Wisdom.


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Turn in your Bible to Proverbs 1 and read it straight through.

Now go back to verse 2 and 3 and underline these words in your Bible:

It’s like a well-built sandwich! Look at the structure and balance of those words.
Look at the verbs in those two verses:
  • know
  • perceive
  • receive
The word "know" in Hebrew (the original language the book of Proverbs was written in) has a huge definition! It starts off with "to see." It’s an "a-ha!" word. Like a revelation, a light coming on...suddenly, you get it! To "know" is to be aware of, to make a discovery, to experience, to become acquainted.
The word "perceive" means to distinguish or hear. In order to perceive, there must be two or more elements to compare to, and then as you "hear" each one, you are able to make a distinction.

The third word is "receive," which means "to take with the hand or lay hold of." It is much more active than how we would normally define the word. When we use it in English, it’s passive, giving the idea that we just sit and receive what is being dropped in our lap. But the original meaning of the word is much more aggressive. The picture is that someone extends something to us, holding it out in a manner that would hopefully tantalize us and draw us closer. When we see what is being offered to us, we then desire it enough to reach out and take it, receiving what was made available to us.
Now pair the verbs and nouns:
to know wisdom and instruction = we see, discover, are aware of wisdom and instruction
to perceive words of understanding = we can make a distinction between the different words of understanding...there is a word of counsel for every life circumstance

to receive instruction and wisdom = God offers us wisdom, but we must reach out and take hold of it for ourselves

Verse 7 is a well-known verse: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

What do you think it means to fear the Lord? Write down your thoughts. If you’re studying with a friend or in a group, discuss this.


Do you think "fear" means to be afraid of?

It can mean that...

When the Bible talks about "the fear of the Lord" coming upon enemy nations, it most certainly means fear or terror. The root word is actually, "to tremble."

But for the righteous, the fear of the Lord means reverence and holy fear. Yes, it is respect and honor, but it is more. There is a fear aspect...a little bit like a teacher or police officer. You may have liked a teacher when you were young, but you were also just a little bit afraid of him or her. And a policeman is a "good guy." He’s there to protect you. But if you’re speeding, he’s also there to give you a ticket! So we have a little bit of fear mixed in with our respect!

Think about our society today and how we’ve lost much of our fear and respect for authority figures. In what ways does the world disrespect authority?

And what about you? What is your attitude towards people in authority? Police? Pastor? The President? Do you disrepect them in words, actions or attitude?

The Bible says fools despise wisdom and instruction. The word despise doesn’t mean hate, as you might think it would. It actually means "to show contempt." The attitude would be, "That doesn’t apply to me." "Oh, I don’t have to do that." "I only do that when..." "That’s a silly law." "That’s outdated." "That’s legalism." And on and on we could go!

When we make excuses for ourselves, for doing things our way and not God’s way, the Bible clearly says we are being foolish.

When we listen and obey, we are being wise...and that wisdom actually adorns us! Wisdom is like a graceful ornament on our heads or a beautiful necklace around our neck (v. 9).

Someone who is wise is admired and spoken well of. Think about someone wise that you know. Think about how you admire that person. Think about how being wise makes that person attractive, even beautiful. There is a grace upon that person’s life that is evident to others.

Jump down to verses 20-21 and read them again. How does Wisdom call out today?


How does the world answer to Wisdom’s call?


What is the promise to those who listen when Wisdom calls?



Pray that over your life today. Pray that you will see, hear, and take the wisdom God offers. Pray that you will listen to the voice of Wisdom every time it calls. Pray that you would fear the Lord with the reverence, respect, obedience and awe that is due His authority. Thank Him for the safety, security and peace that He brings to your life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Desecration of a Book

I love books.  I love to read (although I rarely read for pleasure any more), and I love the look, feel and smell of a new book.

I've also been taught my whole life to take care of books.  As a tiny child, we were to put our books away on the bookshelf, turn the pages carefully, not bend the spines, and never, ever color in them

As an elementary student, we were taught how to "break in" a new book properly, opening up the cover and running our hand down the length of the angle where the page and spine were joined, and then opening the back cover and doing the same, repeating the process with a few pages at a time until we had reached the middle.

As a high school student we were told not to write on the pages of our textbooks, not to tear out pages, not to doodle on the covers, not to throw them in our locker (I think high school students are tougher on books than toddlers!!).

As a college student, we had to buy our books so we didn't have to be told any more to take care of them.

I was always dismayed when I'd read about or watch on movies scenes where soldiers or a mob would raid a bookstore or library and throw hundreds of books into the street and burn them.

And I am horrified every time I read the story in the Bible where King Jehoiakim was in his winter palace sitting before a roaring fire and he took a knife and cut up the scroll of scripture and threw the pages into the fire.

So what I did today was very hard for me...

I purposely and very deliberately desecrated a brand new book.

I took an X-acto knife and ran it down the length of angle between the cover and first page and cut the first page out.  I continued like that for 100 pages until I realized this was very messy, very tedious, and very slow.  So then I grabbed the cover between my hands and twisted the spine...wrenching the binding away from the pages, and then pulling sections free of the stitching and heavy glue...for 874 pages!!  And that was just book #1.

My daughter Kate had to order two American textbooks for an online course she is taking in Bosnia, but they wouldn't ship overseas, so she shipped them to our house and asked me to send them to her.  Because the last package I sent her cost $50 and was much lighter than two textbooks AND took a month to reach its destination, I knew I'd have to do something creative to get her books to her.  So I proceeded to laboriously scan page after page for the first three chapters and then emailed them to her.  After an hour and a half of very boring work, I received an email from her stating that only the first page of every chapter had come through.  That's when I realized what I would have to do...destroy the book and harvest the pages, then send the pages with my other daughter to scan on her work scanner, which feeds the pages automatically.

I can't tell you how hard it was to demolish that book!  It went against the very grain of my life-long training to treat books with respect, coupled with my personal love for them and my personal disgust of abuse---or even just plain and simple misuse---of anything.  I'm a careful person.  I take good care of my things, and this just seemed so wrong!  But for the love of my daughter, I did it.

It still took me a good hour to get all the pages out, but I accomplished the task.  Then, later today a friend who owns a printing shop told me they have a guillotine-type cutter that in one swipe cuts a book free of its binding with a perfectly clean, sharp edge.  Then they feed the pages through their professional automatic double-sided scanner, and then they hole-punch the pages, re-bind the book into a coiled binding, and give it back to the customer.  Wow.  How wonderful that would have been!!  Guess the best I can do is file that information away for future reference...for the next time I need to tear a book apart!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Spy With My Little Eye Something That Is...

...not Daniel-Fast friendly!

Look closely at the photo below and see if you can find the offending item.

I didn't even realize it was there until the day after I purchased it!  I had shopped late last night and then spread my treasures out on the kitchen table to admire and do some meal planning the next day.  When I sat down to eat my Daniel Fast granola and soy milk this morning, I was looking over all the new products I had purchased, pen and paper on one side, bowl and spoon on the other, busily incorporating everything into my menu for the week.  Then I spied it...


What?!?  How did I do that?  I thought I saw organic, low-sodium vegetable broth.  How did that chicken broth become a stow-away in my grocery bag? 

As you can see, it's that time of year again...our annual Daniel Fast.  Last year I blogged daily for the 21-day fast, and received so many comments and feedback that I've reposted those entries on our church website, for those who are interested in participating this year.  The blog is full of information, photos, recipes, menu plans, products and advice.  Check it out if you feel up to the challenge!

This year is our fourth time doing a Daniel Fast, and this is definitely the easiest it's ever been.  Menu planning has been almost like thinking up meals for any other non-fasting day.  I'm getting the hang of it, knowing what I can and can't have, without having to give everything I put in my mouth a second thought.  I'm still doing's good to learn something new and get a fresh perspective!  Also, I like to see "what's out there" as far as unique and yummy products.

Last night I went to my favorite store, Whole Foods, to shop their unending array of delicious and nutritious foods.  I came back with two bags of treasures!

So many good things!

This time, I am adding some new super-crunchy onion rings called Muruku (made with chickpea flour), tempeh, chia seed, sea kelp noodles with no flour at all, and dried bing cherries for my homemade almond granola.

I have a ton of recipe ideas swirling through my brain...
How about organic tomato sauce with Italian tofu sausage over brown rice pasta?  Or a colorful Asian salad with cold sea kelp noodles, snow peas, shredded carrot and broccoli, cabbage, bean sprouts and mushrooms and sesame seeds tossed in a soy-peanut sauce and topped with cruncy vegetarian Chinese noodles?  Or a hearty bowl of leek, lentil and spinach soup?  Or a Greek wrap with hummus, tomatoes, cucumber, artichokes, olives and romaine bundled up in a sprouted tortilla?

My mother is afraid I'm going to turn into a vegan (almost rhymes with pagan...I think she thinks they go together!).  I assured her I was definitely looking forward to creamy Greek yogurt, a good cup of coffee with real half-and-half, and some rich, moist salmon.  But for now, I will totally embrace the vegan in me...maybe I'll even wear Birkenstocks with socks and a jean skirt tomorrow!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Mean Average

Back in the day when Bo Derek was a "10," some guy told me I was a "round 5."  As you can see, I've never forgotten it!  There is nothing like being told you're "average."

I read an article once that asked people to rate themselves as a person, and almost everyone rated themselves "above average."  I had to agree.  If someone had asked me that question, my first response would have been above average.  But after reading the stats, I started thinking about just how average I am.  I'm of average intelligence.  I'd like to think I'm smart because I used to be on the honor roll and took AP classes and got college credit for two of them while still in high school.  But I ended up never finishing college (got married after my third year), so I don't even have a degree, just a little bit of post-secondary---so average.  Sometimes when I'm all dressed up I think I'm pretty.  But when I see a gorgeous woman with long legs, beautiful smile, huge eyes, full lips and long, silky hair, I know I'm average.  Then there's talent.  I feel like I accomplish a lot and do well at what I attempt...but I've never been on TV or written a book.  My calendar isn't full of speaking engagements. I don't get asked for my autograph.  No one says, "Did you know that my friend is Karyn Wells' neighbor?  All the things I can do, someone else can do a lot better.  I'm average.  Even when it comes to ministry sometimes I think I'm a pretty good pastor...and then I'm reminded (or humbled!).  I have a little church in a little town.  Even in my own city most people don't even know we exist.  Average again.

And then there was today...

I went for a fitness orientation at the gym I just joined.  It was an hour-long session with a personal trainer with huge pecs and biceps, and calves as thick as my thighs (but not jiggly!).  He was very kind and never embarrassed me in any way, and I don't really think I embarrassed myself either.  But when my hour was done, I certainly felt my age and my fitness level (or lack thereof).  I did everything I was told...I planked, I lifted the medicine ball, I balanced on a board, I hung from elastic bands, I sat Indian-style on the floor (I was told many people can't), I bounced a ball against the wall.  I was very relieved that I was able to do everything I was asked.  But relief comes because first there was worry.  And for there to be worry, there had to first be realization.  Realization of what?  That I'm not as fit as I think I am.  When I was running every day and doing Zumba here and there, I felt like I was in pretty good shape...running is solitary, no one to compare yourself to.  Zumba is a bunch of average women like me, and I am more coordinated than a lot of them.  But here in the gym, next to my first-ever personal trainer and facing all these fitness contraptions of bars, balls, boards, beams, bands and benches, I knew I was average.  Still, I could soothe myself with the thought that I was the mother of 4 children and (ahem)...middle-aged.

And that's when he pulled out the calipers.  You know...those little fat pinchers that tell you your body composition.  Four pinches in about 10 seconds---the skin over the biceps, the triceps, the shoulder blade and the hip---and it was all over.  The caliper beeped my score...27.9.  He pulled out the chart and showed me where I landed: 27 to 35 was AVERAGE.  20 to 26 was DESIREABLE.  I went home and said to Jeff, "I'm sorry to tell you that you do not have a desireable wife, just an average one."

And that about sums it up.  That's why we hate the word doesn't really mean average, normal, or ordinary.  It means undesireable.  We all want to be desired...whether that be our beauty, our wisdom, our wit, our skills.  But sad to say, although we all rate ourselves as "above average," we really are just, average.  The scientists with PhDs, the rock stars, the billionaires, the big league, the mega-church televangelist, the Nobel prize winners....they are the desireables.  It's when I compare my "above average" view of myself against the reality of them and all they've accomplished that I realize how truly average I am.

{Side Note:  I think this is a big reason I dislike the word, "amazing."  As in, "She is amazing."  "My amazing friend."  "Babe, you're amazing."  "Oh, you have to meet them...they're amazing."  I always think to myself, "There really aren't that many amazing people out there.  Your friend is nice, I'm sure.  But she's not amazing or we'd all know it."}

Anyway, as my amazing brother-in-law noted (and he really is amazingly smart!), there are some things in life that are better when they are your blood count, blood pressure, weight, height (I'm below average in that category!!), blood sugar, and mood (don't want to be hyper or depressed!).

Who wants to be too much or too little?  I want to be just enough.  So I'm embracing the mean average.  It should get the job done and done well, without all the stress of being rich, famous, beautiful, talented and genius!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

From Feast to Famine

Tonight I ate my last I splurged at Little Big Burger.  I ordered a "gourmet" chevre burger AND fries with truffle oil.  Decadent.

Tomorrow begins my 21-day Daniel Fast.  When I came home tonight after a very long day, I felt like vegging awhile with my new catalog that came in the mail, but instead I whipped up a loaf of vegan, sugarless, whole-grain banana bread and filled the slow-cooker with steel-cut oats, apple chunks, nutmeg and cinnamon for breakfast tomorrow.

Last year I blogged every day of the Daniel Fast, so if you're really interested you can go back to the archives and read those posts.  Or, very soon I will have an e-booklet available on our church's web page (must finish it tonight!).

As much as I don't enjoy fasting, I do enjoy it.  Does that make sense?

After all the holiday helpings of rich, buttery, sugary foods, it seems my body begs for an overhaul.  I really want to fill myself with good things for the next three weeks.  I am looking forward to a time of discipline, focus, and spiritual strengthening.  For the next three weeks, I will forego all forms of sugar or sweeteners except fruit.  There will be no animal products of any kind...not just eliminating meat, but butter, yogurt, milk and eggs.  I will only eat whole-grain products, like sprouted bread and sprouted rice (a step above whole-wheat bread and brown rice)...nothing white or processed in any way.  I will say goodbye to my daily Stumptown coffee.  And I am going to experiment with even more raw foods this time around.  I even bought a raw foods cookbook!  On the spiritual side, I will eliminate secular entertainment, like movies and TV, and spend time reading and studying the Word and praying.  I may even get so radical as to fast the internet for a time!

Just as I boxed up the Christmas decorations and cleaned the house, so in my body am I putting away the festive food and "cleaning house."  Regeneration of body, soul and spirit.









Tuesday, January 1, 2013

From Christmas Chaos to a New Beginning!

New Year's Eve may be a party, but then there's New Year's Day...

New Year's Day is two things in my for the boys and clean-up for the girls (something's wrong with this picture, I know).

I both dread and look forward to this day.  The cookies are stale, the greenery is dry, the presents are unwrapped, the recycle bin is overflowing, the fridge is stuffed with UFOs (unidentified food objects), the floor is sticky, and the whole house seems to cry out for a good cleaning and some elbow room!  You'd think I'd be more than ready to scoop the whole mess up and pack it away.

But then there is the pretty tree, still sparkling with its bright lights and cheery reds.

Every year, without fail, I feel a little wistful as I pull that first ornament off the tree.  But it must be done, so off comes the next one and the next one, until the poor little tree is left stripped and bare in its stand, waiting to be rolled out the door to the curb and then into the mulcher!

But once the cruel job is finally done, I turn on my house with great fervor.  I attack the fridge.  I smash boxes and haul out the recycling.  I scrub the floors and move the furniture back into place.  And then I fill the storage room with all the bins that hold Christmas and close the door.

Suddenly, it's all okay.  The order after chaos, the neatness after the mess, the breathing space after the close quarters brings a sense of peace and serenity to my soul.  It's a new year, a new season.  Old things have passed away and all things are new!  It's as if my heart and my home are cleared, open and expectant...ready for the adventures that lie ahead!

When I opened my Bible this morning and read Genesis 1, I was impacted by the very first words on the page:  "In the beginning, God...."

It's as if I am holding my breath as I stand at the very beginning of 2013, peering ahead in anticipation of a new year, brimming with potential....waiting for the creative force of God to speak a word of LIFE into my yet unspoken days!

As I perform that simple act of putting my house in order, it is a reminder to get ready for God...waiting with expectation as He goes to work creating a beautiful life for me!  As God spoke His Word and brought order out of chaos to His world, so must I bring order to mine...and you to yours!

So Happy New Year!  Enjoy taking down Christmas and making way for a new season!

Christmas Chaos!
Restored Order!