...be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is
not in vain in the Lord.

20 October 2014

walK with THE Wise ~ of fear and terror and lions ~

Proverbs 20:2
New International Version
A king's wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; 
those who anger him forfeit their lives.

New Living Translation
The king's fury is like a lion's roar; 
to rouse his anger is to risk your life.

English Standard Version
The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; 
whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

New American Standard Bible 
The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; 
He who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life.

King James Bible
The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: 
whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.

The Easy English Bible says: "An angry king is like a roaring lion. If you make the king angry, then you will die." The thing I get from this is when you make a king angry, you should be afraid. You should have the same sort of fear you'd have if you heard a lion roar or growl, see that it is headed rapidly your way and realize there is nothing between you and the animal.

I've had three or four thoughts floating around in my mind as I've meditated on these words and that thought today:
  1. It isn't wise to needlessly anger your authorities. On the occasion where you cannot compromise (i.e. your faith compels you to act differently than required by the authorities... thinking Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego since I just heard a sermon about those three guys), don't be surprised or afraid to face consequences.
  2. God is my ultimate authority... the most important monarch in my life. If I know there are certain thoughts, behaviors and attitudes that anger Him (ungodliness, unthankfulness, arrogance are certainly on that list), why would I even contemplate those sorts of actions... or nonactions?
  3. Satan wants to be my king and is compared to a prowling, roaring lion. When I obey God, I'm not doing what the evil one wants. In those situations, my Good Shepherd, His Word... they are my only defense. And God has given me His Spirit of power, love and sound mind... NOT a spirit of fear. But there will be attacks and scary moments.
  4. I've heard it said that the nomadic shepherds of West Africa faced down lions with nothing more than a staff or rod. When the lion charged, they'd stand their ground. As it would made its final leap/pounce toward the shepherd, the lion would roar and at that moment, the shepherd shoved the staff as far down the lion's throat as possible, causing the lion to gag, stunning it and most often, it would run away. As hard as that is to believe, Into the Pride's (Animal Planet) David Salmoni interacted with lion prides with nothing more than a staff in hand (and a four-wheeler as a quick mode of escape). I also believe, vaguely, that I heard him make a similar statement when I watched the series with my kiddos several years ago. An internet search, however, could not confirm that claim.
So... nothing profound or even super practical. I don't expect anyone reading this will ever have to face down a real live charging lion...

But since I'm curious, what thoughts go through your mind as you read the above verses?

I went to university at Penn State... home of the Nittany Lion.

19 October 2014

walK with THE Wise ~ Honor ~

A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19.11

According to Strong's Concordance, the word translated glory can also be translated beautiful... brave... comely... fair... majesty... splendor... honor... Sometimes insight comes when I substitute some of those Strong's synonyms directly into the verse, trying to understand different nuances of a scripture.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; the one who overlooks an offense is beautiful.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; to overlook an offense, one must be brave.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; it is comely to overlook an offense.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; how fair it is when one overlooks an offense.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; the one who overlooks an offense is majestic.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; splendor shines for each offense overlooked.
  • A person's wisdom yields patience; it is honorable to overlook an offense.
I love the first part of this verse in the King James Bible: The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. 

We live in a world that is quick to take offense... I'd even go so far as to say we live in a world that is quick to go searching to find that for which they can take offense. Yet that isn't a sign of wisdom. And it is not a path leading to honor. Rather, that path is one that passes right over the offense or the transgression. It doesn't mean the offense is not seen, that it is not painful, that it is not unjust, that it is not frustrating, that it doesn't lead to difficulty or to injury. It simply means that the one offended chooses not to do anything about it.

And then boasts only in His gracious God, without whom he would have been powerless to make that choice: “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things.” (Jeremiah 9.23, 24)

A few years ago, my brother-in-law retired after a long career as a medical doctor in the Navy. He was honored because he "tarried long" in his position despite frustrations, separations from his family, long hours and all of the regulation that goes along with being part of the military.

Are you willing to tarry long?

When you do, do you honor with your boasting the One Who so graced you?

18 October 2014

walK with THE Wise ~ Taste

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts...

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18:8, 20-21)

Jesus said it, therefore I know it to be true:  What comes from a man's mouth defiles him. Even more precisely, Jesus explained “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.” (Matthew 15) There really is no question - We can't blame what we consume as being the cause of our debasement and degradation. “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked,” from Jeremiah 17 corroborates Ezekiel 28:2 which states that "sin begins in the heart" These verses build upon this same foundational idea: man, without Christ's robes of righteousness and the gracious power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, is defiled.

What is the biblical meaning of defile? According to Strong's, it means to take what is sacred and treat it as common or ordinary, to pollute or profane by treating with irreverence.

That truth gives biblical context for these proverbs of Solomon.

But first back to Matthew 15. Our words show our thoughts. Our words reveal our heart. The heart was considered the seat of emotion and the Bible indicates the heart is at the center of our spiritual activity and all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” often used interchangeably.

Matthew 12:34-36 says “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Jesus points to our heart as the origin of our words. When a mans speaks what is righteous and true or when he speaks what is unrighteous and false, his words will affect others.

Have you ever heard of gustatory auditory synaesthesia? A relatively obscure cross-sensory neurological condition, it affects an estimated two-and-a-half million people worldwide. One way scientists identify this particular condition is through a series of MRI scans which observe reactions in the part of the brain linked to taste. When normal people are given headphones and played music and words, no activity is recorded in that area. For those who suffer from this disorder, the taste area of the brain indicates significant amounts of stimulation. (1)

It started me to wondering, what would a person like this "taste" when they read or hear my words? Are my words nauseating? Are they sweet? Do they provide sustenance and can God use them for growth? Are they pleasant... or bitter and biting?

Even more, what does God think? Do I allow His Spirit to guide savory words that entice others to find out more about my God? 

(1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1217118/The-man-taste-words-Gordon-Brown-tastes-revolting-Tony-Blair-tastes-desiccated-coconut.html#ixzz3GYZHzdnc

17 October 2014

walK with THE Wise ~ Long on Love

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 17.9

Another way to say the first part of that verse? 

He who clothes shame...

THAT caught my attention because years ago, I remember "discovering" that shame is mentioned in the Bible before sin is. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden. They stood before each other and the Heavenly Father totally naked... unclothed... uncovered... and unashamed.

Then they sinned.

And the first thing they wanted to do was to cover up their shame... their nakedness... their awareness of their sin as they stood before a holy God.

Their own attempts to cover their own shame were insufficient. God sacrificed a lamb for their immediate coverings. Later, He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the once for all sacrifice so that their shame would be clothed and covered by the righteousness of Jesus.

I see two practical ways to "clothe shame." The first and most important is to point... lead... others to encounters with Jesus so that their shame is covered once and for all by the blood of the Savior.

What's the second, hands-on" way to clothe shame? It is to be long on love. Long on love means becoming peace-makers, not tale-bearers - or tattle-tellers - who seek to humiliate by ripping at shame-coverings, reminding the forgiven as well as others of just how badly someone else sinned in the hopes of making self look better. Rather, we can preserve dignity by clothing shame in every day life. 

Sin must be first uncovered, brought to light and dealt with - before God and also before at least some men, as sin typically impacts others. But once that is done, God casts each sin away, as far as the east is from the west and remembers it no more. It isn't nearly so easy or straightforward for mere mortals. This remembered-only-by-self-Satan-and-other-men guilt and shame from past sin often rears its ugly head. We... or others... are the ones - never God - who bring it back up. Imagine homes, communities where we choose to continually "clothe shame" by refusing to keep count and obstinately ignoring the temptation to remind others of God-forgotten failure, where we consistently re-clothe shame, long on love and mercy each and every time the temptation to slip back into guilt and shamefulness shows up.

To quote the Beach Boys, "Wouldn't it be nice?"

16 October 2014

walK with THE Wise ~ Of Adjusting and Appearances ~

There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
The appetite of laborers works for them;
their hunger drives them on.
(Proverbs 16:25)

I've got several friends who regularly visit a chiropractor. Every time they go in for an adjustment, they come out feeling better. I have a friend who is a chiropractor. I trust this person and have every confidence that they do their job well. Nana (my grandmother) practically swears by hers... I myself, however, have never gone to a chiropractor.

Years of abuse to my back as a former gymnast/acrobat... 9 pregnancies, 8 deliveries... thinking as a young'un that I was only slightly less strong than Wonder Woman... I admit that some days I struggle with a significant amount of back pain. Some mornings I've wondered if I'll be able to get out of bed. Other mornings, I wonder why I'd even want to. All of those friends I just described in the preceding paragraph have been known to lobby heavily, encouraging me to pay a visit to a chiropractor. I've always declined. I used to say it was because I didn't want to become dependent on needing someone to adjust my back to keep me moving because chiropractors were practically nonexistent in our part of West Africa.

And that was true. But it wasn't the primary reason.

The "mostest, realest" reason is that I've always been afraid to have someone mess with my neck and back... To adjust or realign anything to do with my spine? The thought can almost send me into a panic attack. The sound of popping and cracking from my backbone? It makes me nervous. Thus I figure it is better to keep plugging along without any professional help or adjustments.

I wonder if that is a little bit like what is going on in the above verses from Proverbs 16. Most of us don't purposefully take off on a destructive path thinking, "I want to destroy my hopes for a productive... or joyful... or honorable... or... future. I'd say most people are searching for a good and solid path, making plans that they think will give them security in the times to come. They strive to make what appear to be the wisest choices. But without God, without submitting to His adjustments to our days and plans... unless we allow Him to have His way in our hearts and lives, things just don't tend to maintain the way we'd like for them to. 

What appears right to me, God knows will only lead to death - separation, brokenness, darkness and destruction. Thus men work to earn money satisfy appetites, which then grow and demand more... becoming slave drivers that trap men. 

What once appeared right to you, but has now become your master?

Will you let THE One and Only Wise Master make the necessary adjustments?


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