Gnarling At Society

Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

I do my morning studies in a corner of my basement. My office consists of a desk pushed in a nook next to our exercise equipment. I am isolated as I do my study. The sun has not risen, and my wife and kiddos are all sleeping. As I read Proverbs 18:1 this morning, I wonder what is the intended meaning. Am I breaking out against all sound judgement as I pray, read, and type?

The commentaries I looked at tell me this person who isolates himself is more than our cultural catch-phrase antisocial. It is a person who is an enemy of society. A person who gnarls his teeth at everyone around him, not wanting anyone to come near or offer wisdom. This person desires no input from others. They are wise in their own eyes, and show their teeth to anyone who says otherwise. I am not like this person, and I am guessing you are not either. Yet this person lives down the river from where each one of us are at; it is just a matter of how far down. You may arrive on his shore in two days, and I might be there in thirty minutes. The exhortation of the proverb indicates neither of us should let the river carry us to his dwelling place. We should put our ores down and begin paddling in the opposite direction. But what does the other house look like?

This person’s house is like the wise woman’s house of wisdom I mentioned in a previous post HERE. It is a house where the bread is buttered and warm, the wine is in abundance, and the instruction is continual. There is community, fellowship, laughter, and joy. No one in this house is gnarling their teeth in the corner. This house is filled with smiles and sound judgement, or sorrow with simple rejoicing. Life is hard, and pain is real. And this woman’s house has plenty of room for prayerful tears.

The only time Jesus isolated himself was to be alone with his Father. Let’s go and do likewise.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. -Proverbs 18:1

Turning Over The Embers Of Wrath

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

We have had a number of bonfires over the past fourteen years my family has lived in this house. As the fire begins to die down, I will head inside and monitor it from time to time from our kitchen window. I know when I cannot see anymore embers glowing, it’s time to make a trip back outside. As I approach the fire, I will only see the slight glow of a smoldering piece or two of wood. The fire appears to have died down. Yet when I take the shovel, turn over the embers, and wait a moment or two; a flame inevitably grows once again and begins to consume what remains of the wood. Turning over embers stirs up a consuming fire. Harsh words are much like the turning over of embers.

What happens if I were to take a three foot glass bowl and place it atop the fire? The fire would slowly die down because it now lacks the supply of oxygen. A soft answer is much like placing a bowl over a fire.

I have many examples of this happening in my life. Two months ago I showed up on a job site to start a customer’s cooling tower. It was scheduled the week earlier. When I arrived the maintenance person was very mad. His boiler had shut down, a person doing demo work had cut into a water line, and I was there asking questions regarding the job I was there to do. He was slamming doors, cursing, and so frustrated. As I followed him around at warp speed, I kept saying to myself “a soft answer turns away wrath, a soft answer turns away wrath”.

As time passed, and my soft calculated words covered the fire; the man began to soften. He never apologized to me mind you. But he did begin to speak kindly and explain his frustration. And even expressed a hint of thankfulness for me being there.

The softest words I can think of that turned away the greatest amount of wrath was when Jesus at Calvary said “it is finished”, and then bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverbs 15:1

Feasting On The Scriptures

Proverbs 9:1-6 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Do you read your Bible every day? Do you think of your time in the Word as if you are seated at a table eating warm buttered bread, and drinking a large glass of wine in a room filled with the bustle of people, and instruction coming from a wise woman behind a podium? This probably has not crossed your mind to picture your morning devotions this way, but it is how Proverbs chapter 9 pictures it. The woman teaching from the front is named “Wisdom”. She sends out young women into the streets to call foolish men and women to a feast of insight. Those willing to leave their simply ways come into a large house filled with folks eating, drinking, and soaking in instruction. What a sweet picture. How much more delightful does it sound to come into this type of setting as you open the Scriptures today.

“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

The Strength Of Comprehension

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

I desire so much that my family would be named in heaven; in the Lamb’s book of life. No matter what I may attempt in order for that to happen, I know that I do not have that kind of power. As a matter of fact, I have been learning over and over again that I have no hope in changing a heart. Yet it is for this reason I bow my knees before the Father. For from him every family in heaven and on earth is named. He alone is the one who can grant the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in each member of my family’s heart. He alone gives the strength of comprehension, so that we may know the love of Christ, and all be filled with the fullness of God!

This day, with newness of vigor, I bow my knee before the Father in heaven so that my family may have his named stamped upon our hearts. O let it be according to your word Lord Jesus! Amen!

Faith Is The Beginning Of Fear

Proverbs 1:1-7 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

How did the world begin? How did I get here on this earth? How do I play baseball? How do I build a house? How do I drive a car? How do I know where I will go after death?

All of these questions are beginning questions. How you answer these questions will determine what road you will travel, and what your destination and outcome will be. I am reminded of Christian heading through the wicket gate to get to the celestial city. If Christian did not begin by entering this gate, he would not gain access through the door of the city at the end. Beginnings matter.

How do I become wise? How do I learn righteousness, justice, or equity? How do I gain real knowledge, or find discretion? The Proverb tells us the beginning of all these things is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a a reverential submission to the Lord’s will. It is placing oneself under the authority of God and his Word, and then acting accordingly.

The first step in having reverential submission to the Lord’s will is taking God at his Word as to who he is and what he is like. Then it is believing what he says about the state we as humans are in. We are fallen, depraved, and sinful. Then we believe that God sent his Son to earth as the remedy for our sinfulness. And finally we turn from our sin, and trust in Jesus as our only hope because that is the Lord’s will for each one of our lives.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and faith is the beginning of fear^.

^note: faith in the right object (Jesus), and not simply faith

Too Stupid To Be A Man

Proverbs 30:2-4 Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!

Men typically don’t sit around and discuss how stupid they are, nor of how little they actually understand. But when I sit here with Agur the son of Jakeh in the quietness of the morning, I agree with him wholeheartedly. This man pens thirty-three verses that are written in Proverbs chapter thirty, and he tells me that he is too stupid to be a man, nor has he the understanding of a man. He has not learned wisdom, nor gained the knowledge of the Holy One. Yet the words from his pen are filled with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. If he is too stupid to be a man, how much farther down the scale am I.

There was a season in my Christian walk where I found it easy to boast about what I knew. I fed myself the Scriptures, christian books, and multiple sermons every day. I wouldn’t have thought of myself as proud back then, but looking back I do see it now. My family was young, healthy and had never endured a season of suffering. Today we are a much different family, and I am a different man. We have suffered the loss of miscarriage, and carrying a baby girl with trisomy 13 for eight months named Mercy. It has been two years since her birth and death, and my family has yet to recover. We have gone through the darkness of horrific rebellion, physical sickness, disunity, and tasted evil. We are still in the valley, and I have not wanted to write for the past year. I have not wanted to search my heart, and process what is carved on the trees in the valley of the shadow of death. It’s dark in the darkness, and sometimes much easier to just be alone. O the world keeps spinning, and life must happen, but that doesn’t mean darkness cannot become somewhat comfortable.

Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

It is time for me to rise up and look for the One holding the rod and the staff. I have seen the hand of God amidst our trials, but I have not looked deeply and truly seen what I think I am meant to see. I write so that I know what I think. I have been uncertain as to what I think because I have not been writing. I intended to begin writing again when all was good, but now I don’t think that is what I am meant to do. I have been too stupid to be a man, and have not gained understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor truly gained the knowledge of the Holy One. But I will look to the One with answers. I will open my eyes in the darkness and look for the “Son”. For he has ascended to the heavens. He has gathers the wind in his fists, wraps up the waters in a garment, and has established the ends of the earth! Where else can I go?

Broken Beyond Healing, Yet Repaired Beyond Destruction

Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

Ten or so years ago I was playing on the floor with two of my children. I was on my back on the living room floor with my knees facing upwards. My oldest daughter was sitting on my feet while I was lifting her up and down by my knees. Again and again I would flinging each daughter over my head, flip them, and land them on their feet. It was great fun. Then one time I went to fling my kiddo, she did not let go of my knees because she was worried she would land on her little sister. I was not ready for that and my neck crunched as it was pushed into my chest. I screamed. I stood up and knew something was very wrong. We ended up calling an emergency chiropractor and spent the next hour having them try to snap and move my neck back into place. Ever since then, my neck has never been the same, and I often make trips to the chiropractor to help loosen up the stiffness. If the chiropractor places me face down on the drop table and attempts to make an adjustment while I resist and stiffen, my neck may not shift as intended and potentially could be broken beyond healing. Being loose and relaxed during the adjustment helps so that I can be bent and shifted towards an ideal neck curve.

Unfortunately when we are reproved by another person, or by God through his Word; our hearts can often be more stiff than my neck. We hear the rebuke but will not submit to the truth. Why? Jeremiah tells us the reason is not due to an injury, but rather a sickness.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah’s hypothetical question silences me from presuming to understand why our hearts are sick. But sick they are nonetheless.

I do however know there is a person who does understand this rancid sickness of the human heart, and his name is Jesus. He was tempted in every way like us, yet did not sin. At Calvary, he was rebuked for the sin (the stiffness of neck) of his people, and treated as if he was hard hearted and desperately sick. It appeared as if he was broken beyond healing. Yet he could not be kept in the grave after his death, because his wounds brought justification and hope for mankind. We who need constant reproof because of the stiffness of our heart, are suddenly treated as if we were repaired beyond destruction. What can be said about these things?

Romans 8:31-34 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

The gospel tells us we were broken beyond healing, but now are repaired beyond destruction.

Plans Of A Servant Or A King

Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Seasons of suffering have a way of teaching us things we did not formerly know. One day we make our plans, and the next day our plans come crashing down in a heap on the floor. Why? Well only God truly knows. But he tells us in his word that he does not want us to boast about what we think we will be doing tomorrow. He wants to humble us by encouraging us to remember we do not actually know what tomorrow might bring.

“Do not boast about tomorrow” is a command. The verb boast can have a negative or a positive meaning. Positively it means to praise, and the form and direct object give further explanation. The Lord here commands us not to boast or praise about tomorrow. But it’s not the actual day of the week that concerns the Lord, rather about what we think we know about tomorrow. We are not to boast about what we presume to know will happen the next day, the next month, or the next year. The reason? Because the Lord reminds us “we do NOT KNOW what a day may bring”. In other words, you and I are not prophets, fortune tellers, sovereign, or omniscient. God is the only one who rightlyfully knows what tomorrow may bring. This is why James tells us “all such boasting is evil”.

James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

We ought to hold the knowledge of our plans humbly, like a servant and not like a King. James encourages us to have a submissive attitude of heart when speaking about tomorrow’s plans. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that”.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that “heaven and earth will one day pass away.” He goes on to say neither the angels in heaven, nor himself knows the day or hour this will happen. This is humility. If Jesus himself would not boast about the plans of tomorrow, who do we think we are to attempt such a thing?

Remembering Mercy Two Years Later.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” -Lamentations 3:21-23

Tomorrow marks Mercy’s second birthday. For those who do not know, Mercy is our daughter who died 15 minutes before delivery on January 23rd, 2015. We found out at our 20 week appointment that our girl had trisomy 13. As we reflect on the time leading up to our beloved girl’s delivery, death, and birth; we are sweetly overwhelmed by the steadfast love of the LORD. We are called today, as we are every day, to remember his works, and his great faithfulness to us every morning.

To “remember” is to call to one’s own mind. It is good for the soul to remember all the Lord has done. To remember, rejoice, and overflow in thanksgiving upon how our sovereign God works in adversity. Today our family has found ourselves in a new, and in some ways deeper season of adversity. And so, it is good for our soul to remember how faithful he was to us in our loss of baby Mercy. We were showered with love through all the meals, the visits, the calls, the gifts, and the prayers. Numerous times, even times when despair knocked our door down; a verse, a song, or a text message shined hope into our feeble and shaky souls. Remembering today the steadfast love of the Lord causes new mercies to flow from grace through pain.

Hebrews 13:15 reminds us to “continually offer up the sacrifice of praise to God”. Sometimes, especially during times of adversity, giving thanks to God is a sacrifice. When the soul becomes clouded in the darkness of despair; it is at that point a thankful spirit feels an eternity away. Yet it is precisely during these dark times we must sacrifice our despairing thoughts on the alter of thanksgiving.

Today we remember Mercy. We rejoice this day in our sufferings, and offer up the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for the brief moment of time we had with our daughter. We never knew one another face to face. And even now we know dimly of the sustaining grace, and future blessing Jesus has in store for our family. But we rejoice in hope of seeing the glory of God reflected upon every molecule in heaven. We rejoice in hope of that day when we will know in full, and see perfectly clear, that Jesus always has, and always will be for us and not against us.

We call this to mind, and therefore we have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new this, and every morning; great is his faithfulness! Happy Birthday Mercy! Your family misses you, loves you, and eagerly hopes through Christ to see you again soon. Even now, come Lord Jesus, come.

Scott & Karie David

Not Worthy

John 1:25–27 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

There are two kinds of worth; material worth, and moral worth. Mankind arrives on this earth with neither kind. It is possible to have material worth before birth based upon an inheritance destined to you from another. But no person earns a cent prior to birth. Moral worth has been unattainable to every human child after the fall of our first parents in the garden. We are born, as Romans says, dead in sin.

Material worth is value based upon possessions. Moral worth is value based upon righteousness. This second kind of worth is the value John the Baptist knew he had none of compared to the One wearing the sandals. Yet it is the one thing we receive as a gift simply through trust in the One John baptized. Faith makes the worthless one valuable. Keep your eyes on Jesus today; he makes diamonds out of dust.