An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The End of The Amplified Bible

For the past month I have begun my morning reading through Proverbs from the Amplified Bible.  I am beginning to think that it should be called the Amplified Bible Commentary.  I have owned this volume since 1972.  I have used it on a verse by verse basis when I was looking for help understanding a certain verse.  I liked it for that but occasional usage did not reveal its major weakness.  It acts like a paraphrase.  It tends to throw in a lot that is not actually in the original.  Let me give a case in point.

Look at Proverbs 10:17, first in the translations I am using regularly.
(Proverbs 10:17 KJV)  He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.

(Proverbs 10:17 NASB)  He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray.
These two are pretty close.  Now look at the Amplified Bible.
(Proverbs 10:17 AMP)  He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.
Not only do we see elaboration to explain the text, which I can deal with, but we also have commentary.  I don’t like to see that in what is supposed to be sacred text.  It has a place, but I prefer to add it in what is obvious commentary.

The Amplified offers different translations of the same key word.  The example that I kept seeing was the word “righteousness.”  In Proverbs 18:10 it is printed “[consistently] righteous.”  In 21:12 it is printed “[uncompromisingly] righteous”.  In 21:15 it is just “righteous.” 

The Amplified Version puts in words from the Septuagint version that are not used in any of the English versions.
(Proverbs 18:9 AMP) He who is loose and slack in his work is brother to him who is a destroyer and he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide.
Compare that to the King James:
(Proverbs 18:9 KJV)  He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
I would not use the Amplified Bible solo.  You will always need another translation to see what is in the Greek and what is in the opinion of the translators.


(Proverbs 31:9 KJV)  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Most people today can quote Matthew 7:1.

(Matthew 7:1 KJV)  Judge not, that ye be not judged.
It is so easy to proof-text and miss the whole point.  It is much harder to plug in our brain, keep our emotions under control and let the Holy Spirit lead us into a balanced understanding.  Here we have what seems to be the exact opposite of what Jesus said.  Here it seems we have a command to “judge” (8199).

Here is where we have to understand the entire message.  We are called on to “judge” (8199), but to do so “righteously” (6664).  Jesus was talking about the tendency we have to be self centered and harsh.  He warned against the use of double standards which is so common in our relationships.  Aren’t we the culture that came up with the statement, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  So we are not to judge sinfully or carnally but we are to judge righteously.

Judging was a part of government.  Kings would hold court and one of the functions of that court was for people to approach the sovereign and demand justice.  You may be familiar with the apostle Paul appealing to Caesar (Acts 25:11).  As a citizen of Rome he had the right to demand face to face justice with the emperor.  In theory.  We all have situations where we are in charge and people are coming to us for decisions.  We are called on to be judges. 

We have situations where it is not acceptable to say, “Who am I to judge?”  You are the one on the hot seat.  If you avoid your responsibility, then the authority may be passed on to someone who is not righteous.  It may go to someone who has not been touched by the blood and will not listen to the Holy Spirit.

So?  Have it both ways.  Have your cake and eat it, too.  When it is a matter of pride and tooting your own horn, judge not.  When you are called to make an evaluation that has to do with right and wrong, judge.  You may be the best qualified.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Liars to the Left of Me, Liars to the Right of Me...

(Proverbs 30:8 KJV)  Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

We do not want to be close to “vanity” (deception NASB) (7723) or “lies” (3577).  It was not clear to me on the first reading whether this is a plea to keep my behavior above board or to keep me away from people who practice these things.  I guess both would apply.

This is a prayer that I could and should make every day.  First, I am surrounded by lies and deception.  I read.  I listen.  I watch.  I am deceived.  I have heard that some courts will not accept photographs into evidence because the ability to use programs like Photoshop make it possible to deceive with what seems real.  It is necessary to keep our minds working and to keep asking how what we are hearing fits in with what we already know to be true.  When I read that the Bible says something, I go check it out.  Ultimately, if necessary, I will go to the oldest understandable translation, the KJV, to see what it says.  And I bathe all of this in a prayer that the Holy Spirit would give me the Spirit of truth.

The second part of this is about my actions.  It is so tempting to adjust what we say to make ourselves look just a little better.  Our words should be above reproach.  Our actions should be impeccable.  Did you know you can lie while you make a statement that is true?  That is because you don’t tell everything needed to establish truth.  You leave one key fact out and make your statement a deception.  I pray that God will guide my tongue and give me the spirit of truth in what I say.

So?  Do you think this is an impossible goal?  Then why are we told that false witness is a sin?  We may not be perfect every day and every moment, but it can certainly be a goal.  God help me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Yada, Yada, Yada

(Proverbs 29:7 KJV)  The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.

This verse worries me.  I want to be “righteous” (6662), but I don’t get “concerned” (3045) [yada] about those who claim to be poor.  What does it mean to be concerned?  That is not an empty question or an attempt to evade the obvious.  The word means “to know.”  It is translated “know” 535 times in the NASB and “concerned” only twice.  You need to understand that before you get all emotionally wrapped up in showing concern.

On the other hand, this is the word for intimate knowledge.  It is used of the physical relationship between man and wife.  It is used of God knowing us.  It means that we get involved with the people.  There is a book I read a few years ago called The Tragedy of American Compassion by Mavtin Olasky.  He talks about how the pendulum keeps swinging between the church and government when it comes to offering help to the poor and needy.  One of the points that he makes about the church was that its involvement was personal.  People did not expect professionals and organizations to do the work.  They got involved themselves.  Many wealthy business men would make regular trips to the tenements to get involved in the lives of the needy.  That is what is being talked about here.  We are not to call for the government to do it.  We are to do it.  It is not a matter of throwing a few dollars at someone on a street corner.  It is sitting down with them and getting to know them and helping them to find solutions to the issues that put them on the street corner.

In our busy lives it is easier to pay someone else to “know” the poor.  It is much harder to baby sit while they go and look for a job.  It is easy to hand a dollar out the window to the man at the corner.  It is much harder to sit down and talk about money management or polite social behavior.  It is much easier to look down on them than to see them as creatures beaten down by sin and needed the grace of God to lift them up.

So?  I don’t have any immediate answers.  I can’t quit my job and go start talking to people on street corners.  I can be more concerned and be open to getting to know them better.  That is at least a step in the right direction.  I think there will be many more.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Righteous Boldness

(Proverbs 28:1 KJV)  The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

As I began to read through this chapter in Proverbs today I was immediately struck by the first verse.  As I write this the country is still sifting through its feelings about the shooting in Arizona.  There has also been a lot of talks about the attack dog approach of the media in trying to demonize everyone they disagree with and blame the shooting on their hate speech.

What this does is cause believers to hunker down, bring out their quotes of “turn the other cheek” and deny that we have any desire to share a radical gospel about sin, repentance and salvation.  I know the Other Cheek Syndrome.  I have practiced it quite often.  Usually it is the right approach and attitude.  But that is not the whole picture.  I often turn the other cheek when I should be “bold as a lion.”

I don’t want to become an aggressive, arrogant, do-it-my-way-or-I-will-punch-you-in-the-face type of person.  What I do want is to be a living witness of the “righteous” character that Jesus wants the world to see.  That means that there are times when I will have to stand up and say as Martin Luther said, “Here I stand.”  Of course he said it in German, but you get the idea.  When I am told that it is okay to spin the truth, I need to be bold.  When I am asked to compromise my integrity at work, I need to be bold. When I am told that it is a choice for a nine months pregnant woman to kill her unborn child, I need to be bold.  When I am told that homosexual marriage is acceptable to God, I need to be bold.  When the rich young ruler asked what he needed to do and rejected the words of Jesus, Jesus did not negotiate, he let the man go.  When the woman caught in adultery was not condemned by Jesus, he did not cry “Group hug,” but said “go and sin no more.”

So?  I need to be sure of the facts of a situation.  I need to know the word.  I need to have the love of Christ in my heart.  I need to be bold.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brothers and Neighbors

(Proverbs 27:10 KJV)  Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

There are three different relationships talked about here.  Two of them we find contrasted in the New Testament.  We have “brother’s” (251) and we have “neighbors” (7934).  We also have “friends” (7453) but I am going to include them with the neighbor.  I am going to make a connection which is not exegetically correct but it is where the Lord is speaking to me today.

As I read the NT I understand that usually “brother” refers to a fellow believer and “neighbor” refers to the world at large.  There are possible exceptions but that is how I see the emphasis.  The best example is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus is explaining who our neighbors are and picks a person who is a recognized enemy to the Jews.

I realize the connection is weak and I would not make a point of doctrine out of this, but bear with me.  What this proverb is saying to me is that I need to look to my relationships with the people around me.  I need to be a part of my literal neighbors, the people next door.  I need to be a friend to the people I work with.  They may not be believers, in fact, the odds are against it.  But, before God, we have a responsibility to be there for them in times of need.  It may be as simple as bringing in there garbage cans when they are late getting home.  It may be giving them shelter when their house burns down.  It may be listening and offering the hope of Jesus when they have a personal crisis.

The reason this is hitting me today has to do with my nature as a loner.  I am happiest when I am alone in the house with a good book.  I am by nature an introvert.  I can socialize.  Sometimes I even enjoy being with people.  But if given a choice I will sit and not say a word.  Maybe you are not that way, but I am.  I need to focus on reaching out.  I need to be alert to times I can serve those around me.

So I need to spend more time listening at work.  I pray that the lord will make me more sensitive in this area of life.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wisdom vs Conceit

(Proverbs 26:16 KJV)  The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

Have you ever had anyone disagree with you?  I don’t mean on whether you should wear green or blue, I mean on the big issues of life.  Of course, green or blue might be a big issue for you.  I had a man tell me today that what I had to say had a certain amount of sense, but he did not want to live in a world like that.  How do we deal with disagreement?

A “sluggard” (6102) always thinks he is “wiser” (2450) than the other person.  This shows us that being a sluggard is more than being lazy, it also includes a bit of arrogance.  I don’t mind people disagreeing with me but I don’t want to be a sluggard.  How do I avoid it?

Wisdom starts in a fear of the Lord and a knowledge of His word.  All of Proverbs echoes with that standard.  In verse 5 it warns about being wise in our own eyes.  Here it reminds us that we should also be listening to what others have to say.  So whom do I listen to?  What blogs do I read?  There are so many out there.  Sometimes all I need to do is read one post and I know this person is either ignorant of the knowledge of the Lord or denies it.  Other times I need to read over a period of time before I can make a judgement.  I am not judging their salvation, I am judging whether they are giving a “discreet” (2940) “answer” (7725).

So don’t start with listening.  Start with fear and knowledge.  Then you can listen to others and be prepared to hear what they have to say.  Be open to the possibility you may be wrong.  Always go back and compare what you have heard with the written word.  Don’t be a sluggard.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Moderation Is Sufficient

(Proverbs 25:16 KJV)  Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

How can “Honey” (1706) be “found” (4672)?  It doesn’t tell us if this is the result of a careful search or just something stumbled across.  I have never gone looking and wouldn’t know what to do if I found a hive.  It is mentioned here and in verse 27.  It seems to be used figuratively, at least to us city dwellers.  It represents the things that we find sweet in life.

We found in a previous verse that honey is good. 
PRO 24:13 ¶ My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
Looking for the good things in life is not a sin.  I would much rather play my Santa Cruz guitar than the thrift store special I used to have.  There is no spiritual benefit for seeking out pain and suffering.  That is masochistic.  Life has enough pain and suffering.  If we are being faithful the devil will do what he can to make it happen.  So enjoy the good things as you can.

Having said that, too much of a good thing loses its savor.  This verse is a teaching on moderation.  As I begin the journey into diabetes I am finding that the lessons I ignored are now being forced on me.  I can continue to ignore the standard of need and continue to flock to the palace of want.  I will pay.  It works that way in our spiritual lives too.

When we talk about good things the focus is moderation.  When we are talking about bad things it is abstinence.  We are to take what we “need” (1767).  We don’t have any need for the bad things.

So can I learn the physical lessons my blood sugar counts are assigning me?  I am now making progress.  Can I learn the spiritual lessons my hard head is resisting?  I continue to listen, read, meditate, pray and, hopefully, grow.  Join me in this daily walk.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Highway of Holiness

(Isaiah 35:8 NASB)  A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.

In my last post and several other times I have referred to the "Highway of Holiness."  I thought I might give a little more on that topic.

We have three words for road in this verse:  "highway" (4547), "roadway" (1870) and "Highway" (1870).  They are all refering to the Highway of Holiness.  This is a beautiful picture of the life of a believer.  We are familiar with the talk of a “way” or a “path” in scripture.  We know the picture of the Christian walk.  This points out how important that way of living is.  We are called to righteousness.  We are called to be perfect as He is perfect.  We are called to obedience.  This is the Highway of Holiness.

The "unclean" (2931) will not "travel" (5674a) on it.  They won’t want to have anything to do with it except perhaps to admire it from afar.

It will be reserved for him who "walks" (1980) that way.  This is the simple word in the OT for walking.  It means to go, walk, come.  I think this infers that the walking will be done on purpose.  This is a reference to those who hunger and thirst, seek the narrow gate, who have made a conscious decision to follow the way the Lord leads.

"Fools" (191) will not be allowed to accidently "wander" (8582) {53:6} onto this way of Life.  You don't come to salvation accidentally.  You don't stay in the center of God's will by chance.  You are a fool if you do not apply yourself to what it made obvious to us.

So?  The road is there.  God has given us a road map.  Jesus has paid the toll.  It is still the road less traveled.  Take it.

Wise War

(Proverbs 24:6 KJV)  For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

One of the questions that has continued to be debated through the ages is the relation of the Christian to “war” (4421).  The modern debate includes the issues of self defense and protecting yourself by owning a gun. 

Like many questions of how we are to live in this world the answers are not cut and dried, black and white.  If we are to follow the Highway of Holiness we need to engage our minds and our spirits and be willing to apply reason and logic.  One isolated passage does not a position make.  Yes, Jesus did say to turn the other cheek.  I am aware of that.  His statement is beyond doubt but at one point he told his disciples to buy a sword for their journey:
(Luke 22:36 KJV)  Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Jesus also said this.  You can’t ignore it.  It is hard to follow a living God who expects us to deal with nuance and detail.

This verse in Proverbs makes it clear that war is an expected part of life that must be faced with wisdom, not denial.  The concept of Just War has been developed over the years in response to the two different witnesses of the scripture.  We are not free to use war and violence just because we are angry or because someone has struck us on one cheek.  We are always to be concerned for the bigger picture.  At the same time we must be a part of the solution.

When I pray for soldiers I pray for their wisdom more than their safety.  A soldier who is only concerned about safety might as well surrender.  A soldier doing his duty will be faced with many situations that armchair warriors can stop to think about but he must respond instantly.  I pray that they will never do anything that will bring them reason to be ashamed.  That requires wisdom in addition to courage.

So?  Continue the debate because that will bring understanding.  Don’t condemn the passivist or the soldier.  Keep reading, thinking, listening, praying.  Base your life on obedience.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Don’t Play Ignorant

(Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

We had a guest speaker at church today.  His name was Don Sunukjian and he spoke from Proverbs.  It was a great challenge to trust in God.

He made one point that I thought was good and I wanted to share it before it disappeared into long term memory.  He said that this verse does not refer to the times when we don’t know what to do and choose to trust in God.  He made the point that this refers to the times where we know what God wants us to do, but we don’t see how that route will ever work.  He pointed out that verse 5 says that we have an understanding.  We know what we want and we know it is ours. 

He challenged us to make the decision to trust and obey in those times when our world, our culture and even or friends tell us to ignore God.

Grace and Peace.

Who Do You Think You Are?

(Proverbs 23:7 KJV)  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

Have you every said or heard someone else say, “Just who does he think he is?”  This is usually uttered after an expression of arrogance or narcissism which belittled what we think we are.  It is actually a rhetorical question because he made it clear who he thinks he is. 

In our culture it can seek to raise a person up.  At school kids are always coming up to me and saying “Hey, Bro” or “How’s it going, Homey.”  As part of the game I adopt a disdaining look and tell them that is an insult coming from them since I am not their Bro or Homey.  I tell them that for them to call me Homey is like me going up to the ugliest girl on campus and saying, “Hi, beautiful.”  I am not their equal.  We are jokingly serious.  They are trying to claim equality, I am pointing out differences. 

Here the object is to maintain discipline.  Although I point out my position, in my heart I view them as fellow human beings who deserve courtesy and fair treatment. 

I don’t know about you but when I read this verse I see in myself not arrogance but insecurity.  I tend to avoid many situations because I don’t feel adequate.  Although I get along well with people I always worry about being shunned or ignored.  That is how I “think within myself.”  It is much better today than it used to be.  I am learning to not only see others as having worth.  I am doing much better at seeing myself as a child of God and trusting Him.

So although this verse is warning us about the arrogance of others, today it reminds me that I can have a security that comes from Jesus.  If you are feeling unworthy wrap your emotions around the understanding that the God of the Universe sent His son to demonstrate His love for us,
(Romans 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
If he loved us that much before we were part of the family, think about how much He loves us now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


(Proverbs 22:13 KJV)  The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

This is obviously an isolated verse.  It is pointing out how a “slothful man” (sluggard NASB) (6102) will do anything or say anything to avoid work.

I don’t consider myself a sluggard.  I get up and go to work every day.  At work I carry my weight.  I pick up my own sox and rinse my own dishes.  I show up early and don’t sneak off when no one is looking. 

At the same time, I don’t like yard work.  I don’t see the point of making a bed I am going to get back into.  I think it is a waste of time to fold underware, just throw them in the drawer.  I can go days before I wash the dishes that don’t go in the dish washer.  You see a pattern here.  I can live with that, even if my wife can’t.

What is painful about this verse is that it reminds me of my excuse making.  When I stop to look at them, some of my excuses are on the level of “There is a lion outside.”  When I was a kid there was a song on the radio about manana.  The key words were, “Manana is soon enough for me.”  For those of you who don’t remember AM radio, “manana” is Spanish for “tomorrow.”  Alistair Begg once said something to the effect that “today” is God’s favorite word and “tomorrow” is the devil’s favorite word.  This verse yells at me about this weakness in my life.

So?  I am going to keep reminding myself, “Do it now.”  If it turns out that there really is a lion in the street, then I am ready to go.  At least I won’t have to finish my list of chores.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Slippery Slopes

(Proverbs 21:7 KJV)  The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.

Some would say that “robbery" (violence NASB) (7701) is always “wicked” (7563).  That reflects a mind that is made up and asks not to be confused with the facts.  That is not the point here.  This does not condemn “violence” (7701) but violence that is evil.  In my understanding of the English concept of violence, self defense would be violent.  Dodge ball would be violent.  I have even played spoons and had it border on the violent.  That is not the concept here.  The definition includes “havoc, devastation, ruin.”  Several translations translate it “robbery.”  It is not the activeness of violence, but the pointless destructiveness. 

When the “wicked” (7563) are being violent it will “drag” (1641) them “away” (1641).  Evil unchecked tends to create greater evil.  We see it in alcohol, drugs, pornography, abused wives.  We even see it in overeating, watching TV, taking naps and the list could go on.  There are many temptations out there waiting to drag us away.  We touch them and feel their appeal.  If we don’t recognize the danger and get into the cycle of repentance the next touch will be stronger.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be wicked.  I don’t want to be evil.  I just want to enjoy myself.  The slippery slope beckons.  Acts of violence repel me in their fullness, but we don’t enter in at the fullness.  We enter in the minor leagues.  It is like the Devil has a farm team system.

So?  Each day I need to be in contact with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I need to draw on the power and guidance that they offer.  I need to touch the holiness of God to illuminate the darkness of evil that reaches out to me.  That is why I start my day in Proverbs.  I hope you have a similar habit.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lovingkindness Is Loyal

(Proverbs 20:6 KJV)  Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

(Proverbs 20:6 NASB)  Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man?

When I read this verse in the NASB I asked myself, “What is “loyalty” (2617a)?”   When I started digging a little I got confused because the KJV uses “goodness.”  The NASB is making some assumptions here.  It is the only translation I consulted that used “loyalty.”  The others had some reference to the real meaning of the word.  The Hebrew word is [chesed] which is the OT equivalent of the Greek [agape].  My favorite translation for it is “lovingkindness.”

I can only assume the NASB looked at the context, found the word “trustworthy” (529) and used “loyalty.”  What I am getting out of this today is a growing understanding of the meaning of the Hebrew chesed.  I am asking myself again, “What is loyalty?”

“Loyalty” or “lovingkindness” is a word that is multifaceted.  Translating it “love” is too confusing and “kindness” is too shallow.  Included is the idea of loyalty or faithfulness.  Am I a loyal person?  Do I support those who need support or do I undermine them?  Do I express lovingkindness?  I think of my wife and children.  Those are easy.  What about my mother in law who is in an advancing stage of dementia?  How often do I visit?  How many times do I answer the same questions?

At what point is loyalty trumped by other demands?  Recently a student brought a form to my room and said, “Sign this.”  It was a form I had been refusing to sign for at least a year because it proclaimed that I had done something I knew I had not done.  We were told if everyone signed it, we got some federal funding for a program.  Should I commit fraud to guarantee funding?  This time the form had the word “required” added where it said “signature.”  I refused again.  My loyalty stops at committing fraud.  Will it cost me my job?  I doubt it.  Will it mark me as not being a “team player?”  Probably.  It makes me wonder how many other times I have compromised.

So?  What team are you a player on?  Bad English but a good question.  One of the reasons our country has been stable is that military personal and people in political office swear to uphold and protect the Constitution, not the president.  I understand that one of the things that Adolf Hitler did was change the oath to loyalty to him.  One of the reason that our churches and families are falling apart is we are confused about our loyalty.  We owe our loyalty to God.  From that commitment all of our other loyalties fall into line.  Will it cost us?  Yes, but what is the price if we don’t?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Delights and Fools

(Proverbs 19:10 KJV)  Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

How does this verse apply to me?  I have to get up and go to work.  I struggle to make ends meet.  Every month my wife wonders how we are going to be able to eat for more than a few days.  What do I know of “delight" (luxury NASB) (8588)?  Actually, quite a lot.  On the way to work this morning I was comparing the 54 Chevy I bought from my grandmother 40 years ago with my 19 year old Cadillac.  Forgetting about electronically controlled mirrors and digitally calculated gas mileage, that old Chevy didn’t even come with a heater.  At the time I thought it was a prince of a car.  Think about the appliances that your grandmother never heard of, let alone thought she could afford.  We know luxury.  How do we handle it?

And who are you calling a “fool” (3684)?  I know you aren’t talking about me.  Oh, you are.  Well, you don’t really know me.  Oh, you do.  Any time we see the word “fool” we need to do a little self check.

Today the self check is about how we handle our luxuries.  God has blessed us.  We have leisure and health that was beyond imagination in the days of Solomon.  We get upset when we have to change the batteries in our remote control.  Every Monday I tell someone that I need a day off.  Let us start to be grateful.  The first step to handling our luxury is to be grateful.  Once we are in gratitude mode we might see some ways to use our blessings with wisdom, not folly.

So?  Look around.  Check your garage.  Look in the pantry.  Go through your closet.  Look at your family.  Count your Bibles.  See if you have a copy of the Constitution.  And be blessed at the luxury that God has given to you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


(Proverbs 18:8 KJV)  The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

This reminds me of a license plate frame I have seen:  “I’m not spoiled!  I’m not!  I’m not!”  When I read this today I wanted to say, “I’m not a gossip!  I’m not!  I’m not!”  That may be why Proverbs uses the word “talebearer” (whisperer NASB) (7279).  He sneaks under the radar for a surprise attack.

This is a great word picture.  How many times have you been talking to someone and they suddenly lower their voice and lean toward you?  They are getting ready to share a tidbit, a “wound" (dainty morsel NASB) (3859).  A “whisperer” (7279) is a gossip.  Have you ever looked around before you shared something?  It was probably gossip.

There are several words in the NT that are translated “gossip.”  One is like the OT and means whisperer.  One means babbler.  The third is a word you might recognize:  diablos.  It is usually translated “devil” and means accuser.  It brings a whole new meaning to “harmless” gossip.

Lord help us.

So?  I will continue to watch my mouth.  I will examine my heart.  I will remember the words of the love chapter that says love
 (1 Corinthians 13:6 KJV)  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Monday, January 17, 2011

Be a Joyful Target

(Proverbs 17:10 KJV)  A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be the target of a “reproof" (rebuke, NASB) (1606).  I can nod my head wisely when someone else is the receptor but I tend to resist rather than accept.  This again reminds me that I am wrong to be that way.

Correction “entereth" (goes deeper, NASB) (5181) into some people easier than others.  From the context here I would assume that is a good thing.  It may not feel like it, but it is.  It is good if we have established an openness to what others have to say.  I have observed something when I am watering on a hot day.  If I go to an area of sun baked dirt and turn the full blast of the water on the ground it seems like a crust forms and the water runs off.  If I give it a light sprinkle first it seems to prepare the ground to allow the water to penetrate and quench the thirst of the land.  Maybe if we were open to the mild rebukes we would be open to the words that need to get through our defenses so that we can grow spiritually.

Responding to correction shows how much of a “wise" (understanding, NASB) (995) {end} man we are.  One benefit of real understanding is that we are better positioned to evaluate the rebuke.  Understanding in Proverbs implies a degree of wisdom and when someone is trying to “straighten me out” I need to be able to honestly examine what they have said.  Sometimes it will be rejected.  Often it should be applied to our lives and souls.

So?  I need to be more open to correction.  It is one of the ways that God speaks to us and helps us to become more like Him.  My guess is I am not the only one.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Proverbial Good News

(Proverbs 16:6 KJV)  By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

The great problem in humanity is “iniquity” (5771).  This is sin and has a sense of the inner twisting of the human nature.  This verse could be confusing if read is isolation or used as a lone proof text.  Sin is “purged” (atoned for, NASB) (3722a) by blood. 
(Hebrews 9:22 KJV)  And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
In the OT atonement is linked to the sacrifices on the altar of God.  This is understood as a “type” of Christ who would become the perfect sacrifice.  “Type” is a word used for actions or objects which have hidden or symbolic meaning.  Theologically forgiveness, or remission, comes from the blood of Christ, but there is plenty of evidence that it is available in the OT times.  The atonement of the OT sacrifice is made effective by the Cross.

The danger for us in using this verse in isolation is that we can be trapped into thinking that it is our efforts at “mercy” (lovingkindness, NASB) (2617a) [chesed] and “truth” (571) that bring the forgiveness.  No.  That is falling into the trap of earning our salvation.  It is God’s love and truth that bring forgiveness of sin.

So?  On one side this should bring a great sense of relief.  We don’t have to earn it.  Jesus died on the Cross.  He was the Perfect Lamb of God.  He atoned for our iniquity.  On the other side it should free us up to practice lovingkindness and proclaim truth, freed from a feeling of not being able to measure up.  We love because He loved us, not because we want Him to love us.  Live in freedom.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Avoiding Roadblocks

(Proverbs 15:9 KJV)  The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.

Everyone has a “way” (1870).  The term can be used figuratively to mean a style or literally to mean a road.  People have different personalities for travel.  Some people only go on the interstates if they have no options.  Others only get off if there is a road block.  Both will have the goal of getting to their destination.

All ways are not the same in the eyes of God.  All paths do not lead to God.  This is one of the confusions of our modern culture.  We are so overwhelmed with propaganda about diversity and multi-culturalism that we turn away from the clear teaching of the word in regard to salvation.  Remember the words of Jesus,
(John 14:6 KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
That is a pretty clear statement and yet so much of what we read on Christian websites says just the opposite.

What kind of road map works best?  It will be different at different times.  The kind of map we use in Los Angeles would be worthless in Boston.  In Boston the streets change names every few blocks and the numbers do not always run in sequence, or at least it used to be that way.  But both have maps that work.  Different parts of the Bible provide different types of road maps for following Jesus, but each map is showing the same route.

In seeking God, ultimately you come to your Camp Pendleton.  That is a marine base on the coast of California.  If you are headed south from LA to San Diego along the coast you come to a place where you find there is really only one choice if you want to go forward.  The marines and birds may have options, but they are not headed to San Diego.  If you want to get where you are going you have to follow the one way.

So pick your way.  Make your choice.  It may be that once in a lifetime choice.  I may be one of the dozens of choices we make every day to stay on target.  Pursue righteousness.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Be a Loner

(Proverbs 14:7 KJV)  Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

The NASB has a slightly different translation:

    PRO 14:7 Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

I went through every commentary I have on disk and could not find a reason for the difference.  One is a warning about how fools will keep us from learning, the other is an emphasis on the need to be perceptive.  Which is correct?  I think this is a place where both are.  Each translation gives us genuine insight into the mind of God.  I would hope that the Hebrew contains both ideas.  Together they teach me something about my fellowship with Jesus.

On a day to day basis, we must take action if we want the touch of God.  He will reach out and hit us over the head at times but that is not the way He wants us to walk.  The previous verse talks about scoffers who seek and cannot find.  Here it tells us that finding is not possible if we do not “leave” (1980) certain places and people.  I thought of how Paul phrased this.  He points out that it is so called brothers that we are to avoid.

(I Corinthians 5:9-11)  I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.  But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. (NASB)
Think of the times that Jesus got away to be alone with the Father.  Even in the Garden of Gethsemane He went away from the disciples to pray.

I think of vacation times and weekends.  I love to sit on a patio somewhere and watch the squirrels and birds.  I am away from the presence of all fools except myself.  I can concentrate of the lessons that God is trying to teach me.  Time alone to reflect and meditate on the things of God is important.  I want to “discern” (3045) [yada] the things of God.  I cannot do that with fools around.  I need to leave, physically if possible, or at least emotionally in certain restaurants or libraries where I can focus.

Who we hang with effects our ability to learn.  The mere “presence” (5048) of a “fool” (3684) is enough to block our minds.

So?  Find time to get away.  If you have never done it on a regular basis then you don’t know what you are missing.  Make it a priority because if you don’t, it won’t happen.  Be honest about that.  There are wonderful lessons waiting to be learned.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

(Proverbs 13:9 KJV)  The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

Do “light” (216) and “lamp” (5216) have contrasting ideas?  The differences in the Hebrew are similar to the meanings in English.  Light is a bigger, general category.  Lamp is a specific tool.  Light is a force, a lamp is a container. 

We also have the contrast between “light” (216) and the absence of light.  One represents the good things of creation the other the evil that exists.  The image is that light allows you to see and darkness limits our options for anything but sleep.

Does this look forward to Jesus saying “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)?  If we are “righteous” (6662) Jesus is our light.  He is the one who shows us the way.  There is another verse that people are familiar with:
(Psalms 119:105 KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
The Hebrew words for light and lamp are the same as our verse except here “lamp” (5216) is not used in a negative way.

Light is a characteristic of God:
(1 John 1:5 KJV)  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Evil is associated with darkness.  It is hard for a lamp to burn in the midst of death.  Light repels evil because light brings cleansing and revelation.

So?  We can rejoice because we have the light of revelation.  We have the light that shows us how to live and illuminates the hope that we have.  We never need our lamp to go out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eating Humble Bread

(Proverbs 12:9 KJV)  He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

This verse has some interesting twists to it.  Usually in these comparisons Proverbs gives the advantage to the poor person of integrity, but here we see a poor person who is full of himself.  When one “honors” (3513) himself it is meaningless.  It is good for us to step back and look at the big picture at times. 

The big picture reminds us that the important thing is not how the world views us or how we view ourselves.  It is not fame or self-esteem.  It is not perception, it is reality.  We tend to live at both extremes.

Sometimes we are consumed with what the world sees.  We may have a servant, figuratively speaking.  We may have the things we need that make us comfortable, but we get worried about what people think.  How many people spend their wealth on cars and clothes that they don’t need?  To me the ultimate icon of this attitude is a Rolex watch.  I have never had anybody justify paying all that money because they needed to know the exact time.  Everyone would know it is a lie. 

Other times we put all of our energy into glorifying ourselves.  I see this reflected in the children I work with.  They have nothing to be proud about and yet their arrogance knows no bounds.  The dumber they are the more they seem to be full of themselves.  One study (real or hypothetical?) showed that those with the lowest self-esteem did best on tests and those with the highest did the worst.  To me this is obvious.  That is why I think the conclusions are true even if the study never happened.

What should be our attitude?  We should start with what is called “worm theology.”  We were lost in sin.  We had no hope.  We were helpless.  Then the miracle happened.  We met Jesus.  Grace intervened.  The Blood did its work.  Now we are adopted and heirs.  Our concern is the approval of our Heavenly Father, not our bowling team.

So rejoice.  Spend time with Him.  Read the love letters He has provided for us.  Bask in the inner sense of rightness that comes from redemption.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hoarding and Profit

Pro 11:26  He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

This is interesting.  Our modern thinking links the generosity of the previous verse to giving things away for free.  But the context here is not in favor of what we would call welfare, but is against hoarding to drive up the price of things.  The godly, generous man “sells” (7666) the grain he has and remember that the earlier verses talked about fair scales.  This implies selling at a fair price and not cheating people.  It does not demand that we give everything away, at least not in this verse.

Some people try to put you on a guilt trip if you make a profit.  It is popular to demonize business.  Obviously every part of life has its stinkers and business is no exception.  But get it right.  Get it Biblical.  Paul told us we are to work and earn so that we can have something to share with others.
((Ephesians 4:28 KJV)  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
You can’t share if you have nothing.  You won’t stay in business long if you don’t make a profit.  You cannot continually give out if you do not take in.

So don’t be afraid to do good work and earn a profit for your work.  At the same time, make sure that you are asking a fair price and not manipulating the market to the hardship of others.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wise Is Example More Than Lecture

(Proverbs 10:1 KJV)  The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

I had some trouble today because my beginning reading is in the Amplified Bible.  I found a verse that really spoke to me but when I went to beginning responding I found that what I was responding to was not actually in the text.  That is frustrating.  I will say more at the end of the month when I review the Amplified Bible.

As a parent, I live in hope.  I want my son, and my daughter, to be “wise” (2450) and demonstrate that wisdom.  I feel blessed that overall I am proud of both my children.  There are times when I wonder, but overall it is going well.  My hope is that I have done my job as a father and that my children have been trained up in the way in which they should go.  As children get older the type of influence you have changes.

If your children are young you can still focus on laying the foundations.  One of the scariest truths of life is that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.  I teach in a public school and see this every day.  I try to remind parents and children.  I see the results of parents who are not investing in their children or are making the wrong type of investment.  Children do not grow up in a vacuum.  They develop their wisdom by watching your wisdom.  I told you it was scary.

If your children are young, what kind of wisdom are you demonstrating?  I was taught well by my father.  Once in awhile he would actually do it on purpose.  He showed me how to finish concrete, for instance.  Most of the teaching he was not even aware was being done.  It was the teaching done by living our lives.  He taught me to be honest, not only in what I said but in the work I did.  He taught me to keep going when it was painful.  He taught me responsibility and duty.  I learned by watching. 

If your children are young, you still have time to give the vital lessons.  I am past that point in life.  The foundations are laid for me.  Older children have different challenges. 

I live in blessing from the past and hope for the future.

So?  Invest where you are.  If your children are young, make sure you are learning from your heavenly Father and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Then live as you are taught.  If your children are older it is too late to lay foundations but never too late to be the influence you can be.  Blessings.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Scorn Not Lest Ye Be Scorned

(Proverbs 9:8 KJV)  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

I feel a need to turn this one around.  I don’t want to take away from what it says, I want to look at how this might hit home.  I usually look at this as if I am the reprover.  You know, the spiritual giant that is helping others get their lives together.  What does this say to me if I am the “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b) ? 

I have a wife with the gift of exhortation.  Exhortation is a two sided gift.  If can mean to encourage.  Most people like that side.  It also is a Greek word meaning “hit them up on the side of the head if they need it.”  That, of course, is a loose translation, but you get the idea.  My wife has frequent cause to “reprove” (3198) me.  That should be okay but I pretty much reject what she has to say.  If I wasn’t one before the reproof, I become a scoffer after the reproof.  When I should be listening I begin to question her motives and wisdom.  Instead of reflection and repentance I go into bunker mode and even lash out.  I am gifted at scorn.  Not good.

This is where times of worship and prayer become so important.  It is at times like this that the Holy Spirit is able to take me to task.  I am reminded of the teachings of Proverbs about being slow to answer and listening.  A frequent message I get is “Listen.”  I hope I am growing in this area.

So?  Are you resistant to being corrected.  Join the club.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you to benefit from the reproof that comes your way.  It would be nice to think it will never be needed but even Pollyanna had her bad days.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Teachable Moments

(Proverbs 8:10 KJV)  Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

We see a lot of references to prosperity in Proverbs.  It is in the context of financial wealth.  That cannot be denied.  Wealth and prosperity are not in themselves condemned.  But wealth and prosperity must be submissive to God’s priorities and weighing of value.  If we have a choice we are to “receive" (take NASB) (3947) “instruction” (4148) and “knowledge” (1847) before we go for the gold.  This is a principle.

The idea of taking is to transfer.  It can be active like the NASB using “take” or passive like the KJV with “receive.”  The translations I have access to are balanced in which word they choose.  This balance is found in so many areas concerning our relationship to God.  God offers.  We reach out and take or open our hands and receive.  Think of our salvation.  Jesus came and died on the cross.  He shed His blood, was buried and was resurrected.  Now we have salvation offered to us.  All we have to do is receive the offering of grace through faith.  It is there.  It is beyond our ability to purchase.  In that sense it is free, but we must take or receive it.

What would you do if a gift package came and the delivery man needed a signature.  You could tell from the box it was a guitar from Martin and Company.  All you had to do was sign and the gift would be put in your hands.  Did you purchase it?  Did you haul it across the country?  No.  But you can receive it.

As with salvation comes the “instruction” (4148) that will lead to wisdom and righteousness.  Why would it be necessary for Proverbs to remind us about this gift that God wants to give us?  Because we get comfortable.  We get satisfied.  Sometimes we don’t want to learn new things because it will make us change the old things.

So as I look at this verse I think of all the spiritual gold and silver God wants to put in my spiritual vault.  I think of all the spiritual checks I can write to spread the righteousness around me world.  But I can’t spend it if I don’t receive it.  I will keep listening and learning.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Inclinations of Ourselves

(Proverbs 7:25 KJV)  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.

What about my own spiritual stability?  How do I keep on the “Highway of Holiness?”  The slide starts in the “heart” (3820).  Even if there are outward pressures, ultimately I have the responsibility for the direction my heart goes.

We can “turn aside” (7847) from the path that God wants us on and the path we thought we had established. 

We can “turn aside” (7847) by a lack of diligence.  The turning is subtle at first.  I think of my commitment to get up in the morning at a time that allows an adequate window for worship.  In order to get up early and be alert, I need to go to bed early.  To get to be early I need to get things done early.  So the beginning of my failure in worship begins when I get lazy and start putting things off the day before.  At first it doesn’t make much difference.  I can get up a few times without enough sleep, but the inclination builds in time and the day comes where I reset the alarm and get another hour of sleep.

Where do I start to turn aside in other decisions?  That is hard to track.  We all have different points of distraction.  We are all at different points in our walk.  Being aware is the beginning.  This was jogged by a post on a blog that is new to me, Buttermilk80, and a post he calls, “Are You Aware.”  His theme is that we are involved in spiritual warfare and we try to ignore it.

So?  Check for drifting.  Examine your own priorities and choices.  Do your small decisions move you toward a life of righteousness or do they begin to grease the skids for a turning aside?  Only you can answer that question for yourself.

All That Thrills My Soul

As I sit in worship, thinking about the imprisoned Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the encouragement his faith gives him, my I-pod begins to play the words “All that thrills my soul is Jesus.”  As I listen closely to the words and bask in the emotions brought up by years of listening I rejoice in the God of my salvation.  As a teacher I have been off work for two weeks.  This is my last work day that I will have the joy of worship without the tyranny of the time clock.  Many of you had to get up today to go to work.  I salute you for your faithfulness to the callings of life.  Believe me, I am aware of the blessings I have in my schedule.

We are all so different in our duties, gifts and personalities.  Yet we have the same Savior.  How glorious it is.  Around the world, through the centuries, across innumerable language barriers there are people who understand what it means to know the thrill of Jesus in our souls.

So?  Praise God and Onward Christian Soldiers.

The Inclinations of Others

(Proverbs 7:25 KJV)  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.

The Amplified Bible translates this,
(Proverbs 7:25 AMP)  Let not your heart incline toward her ways, do not stray into her paths.
The idea of the “heart” (3820) inclining caught my attention and I thought about my children.  They were home for Christmas and have now gone back to living away from us.  My concern for them was what kind of influence I had on their decisions of faith.  Yesterday I was reading a father daughter discussion of a book on the faith of teens.  The father is at John Meunier’s Blog and the daughter is at Christian Girl in College.  As a father of two grown children I am aware of the importance of early inclination.  It is a concern of every parent.  I have been able to watch that grow and mature in my kids.  What troubles me is how much of that inclination is by personality and how much is by choice.

Some translations imply that the heart is passive, such as the Douay,
(Proverbs 7:25 DRB)  Let not thy mind be drawn away in her ways: neither be thou deceived with her paths.
/Others like the KJV and the NASB imply that the heart is controlled by our decisions.  Is the heart passive or active?  If we had stopped at one child, I would have voted for active.  With the second the vote was tied, and I became less strident in my opinions.  It just seems that some come to faith with less struggle.

Either way it is clear that our early decisions are important.  You may not have young children, but somewhere in your life are people young in life and in the faith that you can encourage and help to incline the right direction.

So pray to be an example.  People watch you.  They are encouraged or discouraged by how you respond to the trials of life.  Your words are important mainly to explain your actions.  You actions are the vital testimony.  May God bless you today.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Does God Hate?

(Proverbs 6:16 NASB)  There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

Yes, contrary to insipid Christian teaching, the Lord “hates” (8130).  The word is very frequent in Proverbs and us usually translated this way.  It appears a few times a enemy, once as foes and once as unloved.  God is capable of this feeling but keep in mind He created the world and existed before time, so don’t assume you can do anything He does.  Most of the times the word is used it is used of people, but not as a compliment. 

The target of His hatred is clear.  He hates most those things, and people, who are an “abomination” (8441) .  What does the Bible say God hates?  For one thing, divorce.  He hates the pagan festivals of Israel.  He hates robbing his offerings.  He hated Esau.  All of these are tied to people who are perverting the will of God.  In spite of that, or because of that, Jesus still went to the Cross.

In the next few verses we have behaviors and attitudes that generate the wrath of God.  It is a list that is similar to Paul list in Galatians 5:19ff as deeds of the flesh, just before the gifts of the Spirit.  As we learn to discipline our lives these are handy as checklists to see how we are doing and as prayer lists to ask the Spirit to mature us.

So?  As a general rule we are to love, not hate.  We are to turn the other cheek and forgive those who wrong us.  Be careful that you don’t allow anger, even at unrighteousness, control you.  I am often tempted to hatred because I have strong political feelings.  I have a rush of hostility when I see real bullying take place.  In the midst of my anger I need to be careful not to let hate get the upper hand.  We are to love as He loved us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Don't Be a Stranger

(Proverbs 5:6 NAS77)  She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.

The focus here is what was called an “adulteress” (2114a) in verse 3.  In the KJV it is translated “strange woman.”  The word means stranger which implies foreigner.  So what is being inferred here for Christians is someone who may be physically in the same location as believers but it not of the same mind.  This can be an honest non-believer or a church attender who does not truly believe.

Some people refuse to “ponder” (6424) the “path” (734) they should follow.  These people would be considered an adulteress or stranger to God.  Pondering means to consider the relative values of things, to weigh your options and make decisions based on that thinking.  We might use words such as Christian meditation, reflection, musing.  We are expected to take the input we receive from reading, listening, observing and the voice of the Spirit and apply it to our lives.

I do not see an inability to understand implied here, but a lack of effort.  How often do we take the words of the preacher, teacher or guru and just go with it without thinking?  Even worse, how often do we ignore what is presented to us?  We are to meditate, compare, contrast.  In short we are to have our minds turned on at all times.  One of the teachings of Proverbs is that people tend to be ignorant fools by choice, not by genetics.

Every once in awhile I hear stories of people who buy cars and after a period of time the car stops working.  They take the car to a mechanic and one of the questions he asks is, “When was the last time you changed your oil?”  You see it coming, don’t you?  The answer is, “I’m supposed to change the oil?”  If I didn’t know people, I would think these stories are made up.

So don’t fall into the pattern of the adulteress.  Don’t be a stranger to the paths of God.  Put your brain and soul in gear and think about all the decisions you have to make today.  It will make a difference in the path you follow tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Life in Prison

I am slowly working my way through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison.  I am in a section of letters that he is writing to his parents.  Here is a man who has been arrested by the Nazi authorities and locked up in a little cell.  He is allowed out for 30 minutes a day.  He has watched friends and associates face execution.  He knows, barring a miracle, he is on the same path.  In this he writes these words:
“The important thing is to make the best use of one’s possessions and capabilities – there are still plenty left – and to accept the limits of the situation, by which I mean not giving way to feelings of resentment and discontent.”   page 40
I don’t know about you, but I have times in life when I am feeling so locked in by circumstances.  I feel like I am chained and handicapped by work and family.  I want to get out and soar.  I feel trapped.  At first Bonhoeffer shamed me.  Compare our situations.  He has a ten foot square cell.  I have a world to explore. 

Then Bonhoeffer inspired me.  I thought about the verse in Proverbs I had just been reading and posting about.  I found myself pondering.  I allowed this giant of the faith to speak to me through the intervention of the Holy Spirit.  He had his Bible and a few books.  I have that.  He had the hope of the living God in his heart.  I have that.  I found myself lifting up as on wings of eagles.

I thank God again for not only His Word and His Spirit, but for the giants of the faith that have left a testimony for us.

Blessings on your day.

Embrace the Prize

(Proverbs 4:8 KJV)  Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

Proverbs spends a lot of time personifying Wisdom.  This is one of the ways that people deal with the influences in their lives.  We talk to animals as if they are people.  For some they are.  We talk to our cars.  On the occasions I get to play golf I am amused at how people sweet talk their clubs and the ball as it flies.  Since we don’t really believe that little spirits inhabit those objects, we do it for our own amusement.  Here it is a little more serious.  As I continue to work through Proverbs I often get the feel that Wisdom is sometimes a type for the Holy Spirit.

Think of the many roles of the Holy Spirit.  One that is especially applicable here is the role of teacher.  Remember the words of Jesus:
(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
In some mysterious way this was personified in Wisdom in the OT.

We have a choice in what we “prize” (5549).  This word has the meaning of building up.  We make decisions about what gets our time and attention.  If we are listening to the Holy Spirit and seeking to be obedient to His leading we will see the results in our lives.

We are also to “embrace” (2263) wisdom.  This means to give it a hug.  I think of hugging my children.  There is a special joy and affection that applies to no other object in the world.  We need to be close to wisdom and want to be there.

So, do you find yourself wanting to be close to God’s wisdom or is it more comfortable to claim we do not know?  I know there have been times when I had to force myself to go back and see what the word said.  Only you can know.  Embrace the prize.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Healthy Navels

(Proverbs 3:8 KJV)  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

There are times when you have to love the KJV.  Wouldn’t this be a great slogan for an advertising campaign?  No?

What is “it”?  Fear.  Fear can bring “healing” (7500).  That is just the opposite of what our modern culture teaches.  This brings to mind a verse out of the KJV:
Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
This was a specific, one-time promise but it brings up interesting possibilities if we imagine that the church is the people of God and the world is our Egypt.  There is a book called None of These Diseases that explores this idea.  I am not sure if it is in print any more.  It explores in great detail all of the health issues that are significantly less frequent in Godly people.  The kosher laws had a reason.  The washing rituals had a purpose.  God’s way has rewards.

It is also interesting that obedience and fear of the Lord can bring “refreshment” (8250).  I think it may tie in to the idea of balanced health.  There used to be commercials that started like, “Fear of God is part of a healthy breakfast.”  If our physical life is one sided we tend to fatigue, why not the same with our spiritual life.

So don’t be afraid of fear.  It alters us and keeps us on our toes.  It can wake us up at a time of crisis.  Just understand it is balanced with grace and mercy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Grace of Wisdom

(Proverbs 2:6 KJV)  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs, and the rest of scripture, has numerous if/then statements.  Here I see an addition which makes it if/then/for.  Notice the balance between faith and works.  It is grace.  If you look at the previous verses, we are to discern, seek, search, pay attention, etc.  God then “gives” (5414).  Here the gift is “wisdom” (2451).  Other places the gift is salvation, sanctification, gifts, fruit; the list goes on.  Do we receive because we are such hard workers and great spiritual leaders?  Yes.  Do we receive because we have earned it?  No.  God gives but only because God chooses to give.  It is grace.

Grace has to do with God’s volition, not our qualifications.  The big question that is evaded and ignored in Reform circles is, “On what does God base His free gift?”  Is God capricious?  Is He arbitrary?  As an Arminian I reject those characterizations of God.  God is sovereign.  He is so sovereign that He is not belittled by giving the part of creation made in His image freedom to choose.  Grace is His free and loving response to those choices.  If you have the time you can look at a scholarly presentation on this at An Introspective of an Arminian Christian. 

Another implication of grace is that these wonderful gifts are only from God.  He is the only one capable of giving wisdom.  The world has its shadows and imitations.  We have knock offs that try to be like the real thing, but ultimately these abilities are given by God.

So?  Remember one of the promises of Jesus:
(Matthew 7:7 KJV)  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Begin the process of growing into wisdom or take another step.  As the next verse says, store it up for when it will be needed.  I guarantee the day is here or will be.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spiritual Firewalls

 (Proverbs 1:4 KJV)  To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

 When our children were young we wanted them to be “naive” (6612a).  We meant by that to not have them jaded by the world.  We didn’t want the world building up calluses that would make God’s teaching resistible.  We wanted them to be children rather than wannabe teenagers.   They did not have radios or access to popular music.  The TV was usually videos we had selected.  They did not go to day care.  We chose their friends.  Often people would look at us and wonder if we were trying to shelter them.  We were.  Deliberately.  At the same time we openly discussed issues like abortion in front of them and with them.  They could be innocent and informed.  That is not the meaning here. 

This more reflects the policy of our friends.  Most people we knew allowed their children to be exposed to the values of the world but sheltered them from serious issues.  They would never talk about any of the moral and cultural wars we face in our society.  In our opinion this kept them from learning to think and discern. 

The word “naive” (6612a) means "simple" in the way we would talk about someone whose mind never developed to adulthood.  Unfortunately this is referring to people who chose to remain that way.  Since prudence can be taught to them, that is the purpose of Proverbs, they chose to reject the teaching.  Most fools are self-made men.  What is interesting to me is that the definition says it can mean “open-minded.”  Biblically, being open minded is not necessarily a compliment.  I think of it as a house with unscreened windows during high bug season.  Being open can let in malaria and yellow fever with the fresh air.  In computer terms it is like having access to the internet with no firewall or virus protection.

So?  Don’t let the world set your standards.  The influence is insidious.  It can be overwhelming.  Let the Holy Spirit be your firewall and the Word be your virus protection.  Or switch the two if it makes more sense to you.

Time to Roomba

(Proverbs 1:4 KJV)  To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

Proverbs are to teach “subtilty” (prudence NASB) (6195).  But isn’t it an insult to be a prude?  If we want to describe someone who is uptight, repressed and afraid of having fun we call them a prude.  If someone is trying to get you to do something you know is wrong they call you a prude.

Once again popular culture takes a stand opposite of the word.  This is a word that is meant as a compliment.  It is a desirable trait.  I like the KJV translation that brings in the idea of being subtle.  It is interesting that the word also seems to have the idea of being “crafty”.  This is another one of those words where context is so important.  If you are being thoughtful, wise and insightful, it is translated prudent.  If you are using that insight to be sneaky, underhanded and manipulative, it is translated crafty.

Again we see something that is god-given being polluted by sin.  God gave us minds and intellect.  We are supposed to be able to consider many details and come to an understanding.  This is so we can be free agent of grace.  I have read the statement “God didn’t make no junk.”  I think in this case it could be stated “God didn’t make no robots.”  It is very easy to take that ability to be free and pervert it into the chains of sin.

We have a Roomba.  I don’t watch TV so I don’t know if advertising has made this well known.  It is a robotic floor cleaner.  It is about four inches high and a little over a foot round.  It has brushes and whirligigs.  It has multiple colored lights and assorted beeps and buzzes.  You are supposed to able to push the button on the bottom and go have a cup of coffee while it cleans your floor.  It is supposed to have a built in computer that remembers it route, what it has cleaned and how to get back to its docking station.  It is full of promise, just like Adam and Eve.

Our Roomba has a sinful nature.  It seems to look for ways to break out of its assigned area.  At times we will find it at the other end of the house, stuck under a bed, merrily spinning its brushes or dead to the world.  Rarely does it find its way home.  We will find it worn out in the middle of the room.  It isn’t as smart as it thinks it is.

If you confine it carefully, get all obstructions out of its way and put it back on its charger when it dies, it can “save” you some work.  If you don’t watch it, you will trip over it in the morning on your way to start the coffee.

God has given you the ability that is claimed for a Roomba.  Yours is real, it is just waiting to be set free from the sin that binds it.  The Roomba is doomed to be crafty, through grace you can become prudent.

So?  Do a system check.  Are you freed by the blood of Christ from your viruses, bugs, poor programing and outright rebellion?  Then enjoy the prudence that freedom can give.  If not, it is time to update to a better operating system.