Keep the Dogs Out!

Day 19 ~ Proverbs 19*

“Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
   but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” ~Proverbs 19:14

Does our world respect the marriage union? An antonym for prudent is reckless, which is a lack of self-control based in self-centeredness. To be prudent is to be careful, cautious, and wise.

God said in Genesis 2:24 “the two shall be one.” How can a couple be “one” unit if their Love Tanks are being filled outside the marriage? Love is to want the best for the other person and leave our desires aside. Paul said in Ephesians 5:25 (NLT)For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” Now, I don’t believe he meant for husbands to physically die, but rather to give up his desires, dreams, and wants; to replace his personal (self) desires with a desire for his marriage as a unit. And, yes, that’s easier said than done…especially in our world. It’s no different for women. Our first priority is to God, then our family…our immediate family. (God also said to leave our parents!)

How can we identify a lack of respect for the marriage union? When interacting with your married friends, are you showing the most attention to your friend’s husband? Do you seek private conversation with him? Do you call your friends’ husband to plan events? Do you seek out married men on social media? Do you continually come up with things which we need “the husband’s help” (i.e. change a light bulb)? Do you show up at your friend’s house when she’s not home and end up spending time with her husband? Are you confiding in a married man and sharing your heart with him? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I would highly question what’s happening in your heart. In today’s world, more than half of marriages will suffer through an affair. Most affairs begin with friendship, a counseling situation, or a work relationship. The most likely person to be an affair partner is a close friend of the opposite sex. But, isn’t our spouse supposed to be our best friend?

Affairs begin with dissatisfaction in the mind. Too many marriages have been destroyed by men who transfer their desires to a young air-brushed fantasy on-line, in a magazine, or in sleazy movies. When a mind is focused on physical perfection, will an aging bride ever satisfy? Too many marriages have also been destroyed by a woman who is not satisfied with her position in the home, expecting her husband to give in to her control. Decisions become one-sided. When respect is lost for a husband who cannot fill a need for satisfaction that only God can fill, she turns her focus outside the relationship. The illusion is that the grass is always greener on the other side; the truth is that the grass is only green on the side that is watered.

We need to water our side of the fence. Your marriage is like a garden to water, protect, nurture, and cherish. Keep the weeds and the dogs out! Guard the sanctity of your marriage. Too many of us live with the destruction of divorce. Before we become reckless, shall we be prudent? If God gives you someone, why would you not cherish them?

Be wise. Be careful. Be prudent.

“The foolishness of a man twists his way,
And his heart frets against the Lord.” ~Proverbs 19:3

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine for nearly 10 months in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles book can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.  … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

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Unfaithful Lovers, Family, and Friends

Proverbs Devotional Day 5

“That you may preserve discretion
   and your lips may keep knowledge.” ~Proverbs 5:2

The fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Proverbs primarily deal with the subject of adultery. I’m sure a lot of readers tuned out right here. But, being physically unfaithful to your mate is not the only form of adultery, for God looks upon the heart. How faithful are we in all our relationships? Are we a faithful friend, employee, or neighbor? Do any of us know what unfaithfulness really is? What actually constitutes stepping out? What is the root cause? And just how truly faithful are we…? God is a faithful God, yet we continually fall into our old self absorbed nature. Oh how thankful I am that He is also a God of grace, continually ready to forgive our unfaithfulness!

Adultery is a symptom of a much deeper problem; it’s a matter of the heart. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Adultery begins with an ungrateful heart, long before the physical act. Ungratefulness leads to dissatisfaction, which leads to unfaithfulness. When we fail to keep our hearts satisfied with that which God provides, we fall into a host of sins: envy, covetousness, jealousy, etc. Paul says in Romans 13 the Ten Commandments “are all summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love wants the best for others, and lives in gratitude for that which God has given us.

“lest strangers feast on your wealth
  and your toil enrich another man’s house.” ~Proverbs 5:10 (NIV)

Consequences always follow a wandering heart. When one or both in a relationship begin to lust for something outside of God’s shelter, trust is broken and the relationship is fractured. Does the wandering always have to be physical? No. Pornography is an epidemic across the globe, destroying marriages and families, for it creates a dissatisfied heart. (Check out my blogs on this subject, here and here.) That aging mother with all those stretch marks, varicose veins, and sagging breasts can never compete with the airbrushed young perfection on the screen. When divorce follows, so does the division of entire families, friends, and your finances.

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets? Your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, Never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always; May you ever be captivated by her love.” ~Proverbs 5:15-19 (NIV)

Our selfish nature has us believing the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Yet, in reality, the grass is only greener on the side that is watered. Do you feel dry and disconnected from those close to you? First, water your soul with God’s Word, for His Spirit will bring peace to the deepest holes in your heart. While we have no control over the other person’s decision to water the relationship, we are responsible for our own heart’s faithfulness.

When we seek wisdom in every thought and action, the Holy Spirit is faithful to keep our thoughts pure and our hearts satisfied with His love. No matter what the temptation, be it sexual, chemical, or even shopping, pray for His Spirit to protect your heart. Gratefulness negates selfishness.

“He will die for lack of discipline,
    Led astray by his own great folly.” ~Proverbs 5:23 (NIV)

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living on mission in Ukraine for nearly 10 months in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles book can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.  … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

 

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Proverbs Procrastination Day 3

The Proverbs. Day 3. Chapter 3. It’s packed full of great little nuggets! Several verses have been popularly quoted throughout the millennia, especially the 5th verse…the one about leaning on our own understanding. It always amazes me when we do that since we obviously don’t know everything. But, after all, we are control freaky humans!

Two verses on this day seem to be tossed in the background:

At first glance, the verses are saying to be sure and pay our debts. Don’t be stingy. When we are diligent to pay everything we owe, not only do we show our good character, but we show honor to God in our trusting Him to meet our needs. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-35 that worrying is for the birds, “…Are you not of more valuable than they?” Figuratively: He loves us so much more than we tend to believe, so why do we hold onto our finances and not trust God to provide?

Yet, these verses also bring up another underlying thought. Procrastination is an all too common enemy. A definition of procrastination is to put off or to delay. Why do we put off that which we are capable of accomplishing today? Sometimes, we procrastinate out of pure laziness. Most often, we put others off out of our desire to control our situations. We believe our schedule, our money, etc. is more important than anyone else. Both procrastination and laziness are rooted in self-centeredness and pride. Most of us never thought of procrastination as a sin. We excuse ourselves with our good “intent” of giving, but only when it is convenient for us. One of the first companies I worked for had a saying, “Five minutes now will save five hours of cleanup tomorrow.” That concept is not only true in the business world; it is true in our relationships.

Gardening…Lots of hard work!

Do you have unresolved conflict with anyone? Time is not the healer; God is our healer. Ephesians 4:25-27 says to not let the sun go down on our anger, followed by saying not to give the devil a foothold. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Taking that step toward reconciliation doesn’t always mean the other person will respond, but it’s our responsibility to do our part.

We need to take an honest look at ourselves. Are we withholding money, forgiveness, or restoration from anyone? Let’s give where the giving is due, and trust the Lord to take care of the rest.

The hard stuff of discipline, forgiveness, and restoration only lasts for a moment…the rewards last an eternity.

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” ~Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

 

What are you procrastinating today?

 

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**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles book can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.  … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

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Top Three Leadership Qualifications

Have you followed any of the many “Leadership Guru” forums? Believe it or not, I believe all those forums can be condensed into just three points, the three taught in Proverbs 31. If we get these three points right, every step will fall into place.

Since this is the 31st day of the month…below is an excerpt from the 31st day of the Proverbs devotional I wrote while living in Ukraine. Since this chapter is such a favorite, and the last in the book, it is twice the length as the previous 30 chapters. I guess I just felt wordy on that last day! 😉 Honestly, the 31st chapter is packed full of great little nuggets!

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Day 31 ~ Proverbs 31

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:” ~Proverbs 31:1

When most people refer to Proverbs 31, the Noble Wife is the usual commentary, describing what is commonly known as The Virtuous Woman. This section of the Proverbs is an interesting study as verses 10-31 are an alphabetic acrostic in Hebrew, comparable to Psalm 119.

The first 9 verses, however, are an isolated oracle written by a mother to her son, with the counsel given by a father listed in chapter 4. History shows the name Lemuel (meaning Devoted to God) to possibly be a name of endearment given to King Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba. Only in more modern times has the identity of the subject been questioned. Unfortunately, seeing as specific names were not given, their true origins may have been lost unto historical nonexistence.

The oracle was written as a prophetic admonition, possibly out of a mother’s desire for her son’s success. Most mothers’ counsel is derived from past experience and a desire for their children to avoid the same mistakes made from their own life. Ironically, the three pieces of advice this mother gave were the very actions that eventually brought King Solomon to his ruin: flippant relationships, self-indulgence, and a slothful attitude toward injustice. Bathsheba would have been well equipped to warn of the consequences of these sins; the very sins of which she and King David, Solomon’s father, were mercifully forgiven and restored. Centuries later, our leaders continue to embellish the same sins. We are still human. Her advice to her son, the King, could most certainly be applied not only to our government leaders of today, but to anyone in a leadership position, especially the family father.

The influential role of the mother has been greatly diminished in modern times. While the role of the father has become known for absenteeism, most people do not realize the correlation to the diminishing role of the mother. With more than a third of American households being raised by a single parent, mostly by the mother, great concern is growing over the moral decline in our society. Our children are raised without the stability of the security in a family unit, resulting in higher poverty, crime, drug usage, and lack of education. The issue is not whether the home is run by a single dad or a single mom, the issue is that neither parent is a constant in the home. Unfortunately, in modern society, most two-parent homes have two-parent incomes. The children are left to raise themselves through babysitters and day-care.

I find the addition of a woman’s instruction in a man’s world to be very comforting. Solomon was attributed the wisest man of all time therefore his mother’s penned words must have been very influential to be included in the ancient scrolls. Never underestimate the hand that rocks the cradle. Most of scripture was written by men and toward men. Yet this passage contains the words of a woman giving instruction to her son, a man, a King. With such high importance placed on one oracle, it is disheartening that her words fall on deaf ears to most of our leaders today. Corruption in high places has been at work since the beginning of mankind.

“What, my son?                                                       
     And what, son of my womb?
          And what, son of my vows?” ~Proverbs 31:2

In older translations, the chapter begins with his mother asking the question, “What?” What are you doing? Are you paying attention? Listen! Since the time-frame is not given as to when in Solomon’s life the oracle was written, it is possible his mother saw in his youth warning signs of potential problems. We all have tendencies toward certain temptations. Some temptations are more common in higher positions or stations in society. This mother wished to get her son’s attention to bring a warning for pitfalls of someone of his status. This mother very wisely was teaching him that the responsibility of a King is not to be taken lightly. In James 3, we are told that teachers will receive a stricter judgment. How much more for a King? In 2nd Peter 2, a description is given of the consequences of false teachers who lead people to destruction. Her desire was for her son to lead responsibly.

“Do not give your strength to women,
Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.” ~Proverbs 31:3

The passage gives three separate pieces of advice for successful leadership; relationship, sobriety, and advocate. The first piece of advice has been ignored by politicians and pastors alike all throughout history. Many a mighty man has fallen from the public eye due to sexual indiscretions. With the introduction of the Internet, pornography is the number one ‘secret’ sin of today’s clergy. The temptation can be overwhelming. Bathsheba knew this first hand. Bathsheba and King David’s indiscretion resulted in two deaths, a divided family, and a lost kingdom. While their hearts were forgiven and restored in relationship with God, the consequences can be felt to this day. We need to be very careful and selective with whom we are in relationship.

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
     It is not for kings to drink wine,
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
     Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
     Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
     Let him drink and forget his poverty,
And remember his misery no more.” ~Proverbs 31:4-7

The second admonition is in mind altering substances. This piece of advice should be simple common sense. But even in our society today, drunken parties for politicians are the norm. Will a people put trust in a leader who is not clear minded while they are issuing judgments, decrees, and laws? Without morality we have only chaos. Alcoholism and self-medicating are rampant. She points out that those who are perishing or are in anguish drink to forget their troubles, though her urging to give strong drink is not for a King. Her son has a greater responsibility than to be self-focused. A good King, Ruler, or Teacher, a good Parent, is focused on those whom the Lord has put under their care. From the President/King all the way down to the parent in the poorest family, the quality of leadership is destroyed when alcohol or drugs control the mind. Just as a King is responsible for the condition of the Kingdom, Dad and Mom are responsible for the condition of the family.

“Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
  Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” ~Proverbs 31:8-9

The final plea this wise mother instructs her son is simply to do good. I believe she knew from experience within her own family how imperative righteous ruling is. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Do we sit by idly, being more concerned about our own skin, watching those under us get trampled? Do we use our position to aid those less fortunate? Most Kings and leaders throughout history succumbed to the influence of power followed by arrogance. Self-serving leaders support only those who are able to give back to their establishment or campaign. But to the little people, the poor and needy, or the unjustly charged, these leaders are mute and turn a deaf ear. Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. If we are in a place of position, God honors the humble in heart and giving in spirit.

Whether we are the ruler of a nation, or a stay-at-home mom, leadership comes with great responsibility. Lemuel’s mother very wisely conveyed the three most important aspects of righteous leadership: stay away from physical indulgence, keep a clear head, and use the position to benefit others.

“Learn to do good;
     Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
        Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.”
~Isaiah 1:17

 

**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…this can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.  … The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

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17th day Devotional…

17th day Devotional…

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, below is an excerpt of the 17th devotional of my book I wrote about in my last post: here. I love Saint Patrick’s Day! Not because I am of Irish descent, but because of the heart of the holiday. While most here in America use the holiday to drink whiskey and green beer with the intention of getting plastered, the holiday began with a slave from Whales, whose parents were from Rome, to bring good deeds and hope to a pagan bound culture. I hope you like today’s devotional…

Day 17 ~ Proverbs 17

“Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1

At least six verses of Proverbs 17 speak directly to the family. King David is my hero! I love reading in 1st and 2nd Samuel the account of David’s life. My spirit is lifted and heightened every time I read David’s Psalms. More than anyone who ever lived, David was attributed as a man after God’s own heart. Yet, because of King David’s own sins (2 Samuel 12:10), the sword never left his house. His was one of the most dysfunctional families in history. His wives were…well, he had way too many cooks in the same kitchen. His children lied, cheated, stole, raped, and murdered…each other! Absalom, his oldest son, conspired to overthrow the kingdom and kill his own father. If Hollywood were to film the actual events of David’s life the movie would be released with an “R” rating or worse! His children grew up in wealth, yet had more drama than a soap-opera!

“A foolish son is a grief to his father,
And bitterness to her who bore him.” ~Proverbs 17:25

Though King David saw his children make horrible decisions, even unto death, he grieved for his children. David recognized in 2nd Samuel 16:5-14 that the calamity he experienced was due to his own sin; calamity prophesied by the Prophet Nathan in chapter 12. The Apostle Paul admonishes fathers in Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Children learn as the example they are given, not the words spoken. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states: “The fathers are specified as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to passion in relation to their children then mothers, whose fault is rather over-indulgence.” Fathers, do you project anger or ridicule your children? Then you can’t be upset if they show outbursts of anger. Mothers, do you belittle or lie to or about your children? Then you can’t be upset when they despise you. Do we project indifference to our children? Then we can’t be upset if they show indifference to our beliefs. This is what King David experienced. He was busy elsewhere. He showed his children contradiction. As a result, they rebelled, bringing humiliation and destruction to their own family.

“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.” ~Proverbs 17:21

The dictionary describes scoffer as; someone who expresses mockery, derision, doubt, or derisive scorn; to jeer. We all occasionally fail. Do you fall into that category? Out of your own insecurity, do you make fun of others in hopes to elevate yourself? When your derogatory jabs are questioned, do you laughingly claim the recipient of your mockery is too sensitive and you were only joking? I don’t believe people realize their own divisiveness. When a family falls into the habit of squabbling, no meal is joyful. Sometimes, the test of Christian love is greater within our own families. Oh to love with the love of 1st Corinthians 13; “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What would happen in our families if we took just one of these attributes? Kindness? Hope? Love?

“Children’s children are the crown of old men,
And the glory of children is their father.” ~Proverbs 17:6

If you already have a copy of the book, I hope you are enjoying doodling on Sarah’s illustrations from The Thinking Tree Publishing Company, LLC! If you want to see some of the actual inside, go to Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles – Amazon. You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles – CreateSpace. The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

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My first book!

My first book!

So I wrote a book…a devotional…and actually published it! My writings usually sit hidden in a drawer, but while living in Ukraine last year, my friend, Sarah, encouraged me to join her in her publishing company, The Thinking Tree Publishing Company, LLC, and put some of them in print. Sarah is a fabulous illustrator! Oh how I wish I had Sarah’s artistic talent…but then again, God gave me my own talents to use. The difference is…she has used hers greatly while mine have sat hidden in a drawer. But is that what God wants for us? According to Matthew 25 he doesn’t…

Since this is the 14th day of the month, here is an excerpt of the 14th devotional. First though, read the actual Proverb from the bible before reading the devotional. Then, if you have a copy of the book, you will enjoy doodling on Sarah’s illustrations! I hope you like it…

If you want to see some of the actual inside, go to Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles You can also order direct from CreateSpace: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. The proceeds help support the mission work in Ukraine!

 

Day 14 ~ Proverbs 14

“The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.” ~Proverbs 14:10

How can we truly know another person, except by what we see and hear? Sometimes it’s easy to assess what is in a person’s heart by their countenance. We can assume a person is joyful at that given second by the belly laugh filling the air. We can assume a person is sad, hurt, or bitter when we see buckets of tears flowing down their cheeks. But, can we presume to know the reasons or the source? All too common, seemingly happy people (such as actor Robin Williams) take their own life out of deep depression. We are often too quick to make assumptions about a person or situation before we see all sides of a matter (see Proverbs 18:17 & 25:8). Yet, in our pride, it’s so very easy to assume we know what another person is thinking or feeling. Most of the time, our pride prevents us from simply asking, and therefore our reactions to that person will be unfitting.

“A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.” ~Proverbs 14:5

What happens when we assume to know the heart of another and treat them accordingly? If I see someone come through the door with a scowl across their forehead, should I assume they are angry with someone? And then, to top that off, they complain about the blue skies. Should I assume they are bitter or nit-picking? How do we not know that they simply woke up with a migraine headache or have recently suffered great loss? In our humanness, we are all occasionally guilty of these kinds of assumptions. When we fail to seek truth, we are uttering lies. The old Indian Proverb holds true: “Just walk a mile in his moccasins, before you abuse, criticize and accuse.” (taken from the poem Judge Softly, written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895). Yet, if we walk the same path, even then, do we deeply understand the heart of another?

“A sound heart is life to the body,
but envy is rottenness to the bones.” ~Proverbs 14:30

On the flip side, making assumptions on another person’s joy is just as harmful. How often do we reject people because we believe their lives to be ideal? We become envious of their happiness while not being concerned with knowing the road they traveled to live in their joy. Often times, we are shocked upon hearing a mild-mannered sweet Christian’s testimony to find she has a shockingly checkered past. Jesus says in Luke 7:47, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (NIV) Do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Or do we allow our own self-centeredness to prevent us from being genuinely happy for other people’s success and joy.

Our heart knows our own bitterness. We deeply feel emotion when we have loved another. People are fallible beings. When we place expectations on another based on our own desires, we will be hurt. People will always at one time or another let us down. But we are not alone in our bitterness, or our joy. Jesus says in Matthew 6:8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Why expect strangers, or even those we know, to share in our joys and/or sorrows when we have a God who knows every deep hurt, feeling, and thought we’ve ever had? A sound heart comes when we let go of our expectations of others and place our hope and trust in God, the one who most knows our heart.

“Those who fear the Lord are secure;   
 he will be a refuge for their children.” ~Proverbs 14:26

 

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 6:16-19

To those with an understanding heart…this scripture needs no explanation:

There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

~Proverbs 6:16-19

Destruction

…destruction…