Saturday, May 5, 2012

You Can Look It Up


Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

-- Proverbs 22:6

It's almost too easy these days.

When you need parts for a 1957 Chevy, a great recipe for chocolate mousse or World Series box scores from 1928, we simply reach for our laptop, tablet or smartphone...and then Google it for the answer. But as recently as 20 years ago, printed almanacs--like Information, Please!--were many households' primary source of information on a variety of topics. The Old Farmer's Almanac, published continuously since 1792, features articles about gardening, recipes, sports, and planting charts...plus predictions for the coming year related to home d├ęcor, food, fashion, and technology. Whitaker's Almanack has published since 1868. And the Farmer's Almanac (without the "Old") sold its first copy in 1818.

Although you can still buy these venerable publications the old-fashioned way (in a bookstore or pharmacy), they've adapted to modern times by offering their wisdom, advice and trivia through companion websites like almanac.com and infoplease.com. But as good and reliable as they are, there's a much better source of wisdom that's guided households around the world with timeless truths and principles covering topics ranging from money management to clothing to business ethics. It made the best seller list centuries before Robert B. Thomas published the first issue of The Old Farmer's Almanac. And you can (and should) live you life by it.

It's called Proverbs. And in the pages of this Old Testament masterpiece you'll find 31 chapters of practicality comprising what some have called the greatest how-to book ever written. Most of Proverbs was written by King Solomon about 900 years before Jesus' birth. But the timeless wisdom it conveys--micro-lessons like "The borrower is the servant to the lender"--is as relevant in today's uncertain economy as it was in pre-Roman times. Even way back then, Solomon knew that maxing out his credit cards can lead to ruin.

Although Proverbs is filled with timeless truths with broad applications, it's important to note that it also contains general principles rather than guaranteed promises. Its words are also glimpses into the mind of God and how He expects us to live and treat one another. But as with all wisdom and knowledge, it's one thing to read about it. And then it's quite another to actually apply it in our everyday lives. Even the writer himself--King Solomon--admitted through the chapters of Ecclesiastes that he had failed to heed his own advice on living a prudent, God-centered life. Indeed, Solomon wasted much of his incredible wealth on nearly every excess imaginable. And he purposely ignored the wisdom and discernment that God had blessed him with years earlier.

"Nothing makes sense! Everything is nonsense," the dejected king warns us through the pages of Ecclesiastes. "I have seen it all--nothing makes sense!"

It's a timeless lesson that complements the stark wisdom of Proverbs 20:30: "Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways."

You can even Google it. 

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