Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On the lighter side...Trick or Treat?

Today is a big day for protestanism. Dr. Luther (the former monk) nailed the famous 95 thesis on the door of the church in Wittenburg, which sparked what would be classified as the Protestant Reformation.

Last night was a big day for candy lovers (via 'trick or treat'). Old and young, they were out for candy.

If you went out to collect candy, you may want to check your bags for some of these Reformation treats...


Oh well, don't over INDULGE, you might be subject to some CONFESSIONS, and go on a DIET of WORMS.

Some thoughts on Thanksgiving (part 1)

Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) has to be one of my most favorite holidays besides Easter and Christmas. I would like to take this time to highlight some thoughts about Thanksgiving and the Bible.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our prime example in this matter of thanksgiving.

Matthew 11:25
“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (see also Luke 10:21)

Matthew 26:27
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;”

John 6:11
“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.”

John 11:41
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.”

What an amazing and appropriate pattern to follow. Jesus was thankful and offered up thanks to God in evangelism (even when the proud did not get saved), during the observance of the Lord's supper (even though He knew He was going to be betrayed), before a meal (even when many of His followers would soon forsake Him) and even before performing the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead (despite people's unbelief). He was never too busy to recognize the Father's goodness. Thanksgiving is a Christ-like attitude and may we learn to emulate Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - conclusion

There are many other aspects of Proverbs that I will not tackle (they are very interesting though, for example, all the comparisons and contrasts of themes like the froward vs. the righteous man, the wise vs. the foolish, etc. - there are many key verses as well).

Anyway, a concluding thought however I will leave with this series for now, and that is: God's truths must be taught and proclaimed to others despite our own personal set backs. Again, Solomon is the worse object lesson for the many lessons he taught in Proverbs, and yet God used him to instruct his son (and consequently us also). Many today feel that they have 'no right' to correct error or to teach what is right on the basis that they themselves have done wrong. Certainly, example is more forcible than precepts, but if we carry this to an extreme then no one in this world has any right to instruct. Thankfully, God does not think that way. To be sure, we must maintain a good testimony before others in order to exemplify what we are teaching, but if there is failure, then confession and restitution is in order, but then after that, one should never think that they have no right to proclaim what is objectively right or wrong. Furthermore, it really shouldn't matter who God desires to use in delivering the lesson, we must, as His children, recieve the instruction as though God himself was the instructor, because ultimately He is. This should encourage every parent to take confidence in training their children well, even if when they were kids they somehow have done perhaps worse things. Every preacher, should faithfully warn his people, old and/or young, even though he is not an absolutely perfect person. In fact, when people get defensive because of strong rebuke, it is not uncommon for some to say 'oh yeah? but you're not perfect yourself...' as though that excuses them from the admonition. (Please don't get me wrong, I do believe in pastoral disqualification in matters of doctrine and morals)

I do hope that this conclusion is somewhat understandable, even though it is a tad bit lengthy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Hard Work

Proverbs 6:6-11
6Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”

Sluggard. What a word to describe the lazy man (or woman). In contrast to the sluggard Solomon directs his son’s attention to the wee little ant. And so the ant serves as an object lesson for us in initiative, diligence, and responsibility or in essence hard honest work. These are all very important character traits to develop and maintain.

Initiative” – This is a very important character trait of a good laborer. Self-starters are either initiators, or if given a task they see to it that it is accomplished without much if any supervision at all.

Diligence” – That is one who is steady. He refuses to be idle or lazy. He perseveres. He toils on. Many foreigners come to America primarily because it is indeed the land of opportunity. In most cases they are diligent because they work to survive. For them work is a matter of survival for them and their families, and leisure is something that does not even enter the radar. In many cases the average worker cannot even begin to compete with such an assiduous worker. The answer is not to get rid of competition rather the answer is to work harder.

Responsibility” – The ant looks ahead and knows that the season will soon change, and so what does he do? - he saves. It takes some discipline not to spend beyond a budget, and not to spend foolishly. There is great wisdom in being thrifty.

The sluggard is full of excuses, perhaps too many refusals to take up his responsibilities. Christians should never exhibit the attitude of a sluggard in any area of work, especially in relation to the one which is done directly unto the Lord, namely his ministries. We must learn to always give our 100% in every endeavor. Remember God deserves our finest.

As usual there are many other Bible verses to consider about hard work in Proverbs, here are a few to consider:

Proverbs 10:4-5
4He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. 5He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.”

Here are strings of verses from Proverbs 12:

verse 11
He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”

verse 24
The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.”

verse 27
The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”

Proverbs 13:4
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (see also verse 11)

Proverbs 14:23
In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.”

Proverbs 22:29
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”

There is great wisdom in learning to do hard and honest work.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Fair speech (Watch what you say, you may have to eat your words)

Have you ever had a foot sandwich? You know, open mouth insert foot - I know I had, anyway here are some thoughts on speech and some verses to check out in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 16:23The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.”

Proverbs instructs us about many things in regards to our speech. We begin by understanding that lying is something God absolutely hates.

Proverbs 12:22Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.”

We must never think that lying is ok. Sometimes the worse people to try helping are those who have outright lied so much that they start believing their own lies. Most of the time lying about a matter is worse than the matter itself, and so there is no need to lie. We must guard our speech in this area of honesty.

Proverbs 4:24Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.”

The idea of ‘froward’ (at least according to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary) is that of ‘not willing to yield or comply with what is required’ or disobedience. He also used other words that I thought were uncommon but gets the point across: ‘ungovernable’ and ‘refractory’ and ‘peevish.’ When authority says to do something, a man or a woman with a forward mouth has no problem ‘mouthing off.’ Therefore it really is not hard to spot a ‘froward mouth.’ Another term in this verse is ‘perverse.’ The idea of perverse is one which is ‘crooked’ or ‘corrupt.’ We must guard our speech from deviousness. The Bible instructs us to ‘put it far from thee’ which means not to utilize such a speech, and not to hang around those who do speak in that manner.

If guarding our heart is important (and it is) so is guarding our mouth.

Proverbs 10 has a string of verses on this topic:

v.11 “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

v.13 "In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found."

v.18 "He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool."

v. 20 “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.”

v.21 “The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.”

v. 32 “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.”

Proverbs 12:18There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”

Someone said: ‘sticks and stones may hurt (or brake) my bones but names (or words) will never harm me.’ I really would like to think that statement to be true, but somehow, in my experience some of the most damaging things happen because of hurtful or 'hurt-filled' words. Now lest, I be accused of being ‘onion skinned’ I must say that it would take a whole lot of ‘words’ to get me upset. For the most part, I have even learned to laugh at some of the things said to me. BUT in all reality, some of the most harmful things are words that are said in spite and bitterness. Hateful words that cut can really do damage and poison the heart and it may even come from our own speech. And so it is so important to make sure we guard our mouths. In contrast to former is the latter part of the verse. The tounge of the wise is health. We can use our speech to build somebody up, instead of tearing them down. Our speech can be truthful, edifying, pure, non-injurious and we should always want to make sure that we are not offensive in speech. It truly takes great wisdom to say the right things in the right way, or maybe not saying anything at all could be a blessing in and of itself (10:19).

There is great wisdom in guarding our mouths. There are many other verses in Proverbs about this topic, but as usual please feel free to add your thoughts to this post via the comments section, you additions are greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Fighting Lust

Proverbs 2:16-19 -

"16To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; 17Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her
God. 18For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. 19None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life."

Proverbs 5:3-5 -

"3For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: 4But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. 5Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell."

Proverbs 6:23-35 -

"23For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 27Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. 30Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; 31But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. 32But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. 34For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts."

Proverbs 7:7-27 -

7And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9In the twilight, in the evening , in the black and dark night: 10And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart. 11(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 13So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. 21With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. 24Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 26For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. 27Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

There really are so many principles to gain from these verses, but I will only highlight a few. As always please feel free to add anything to this entry.

1. Immorality brings very serious consequences like death, destruction and even hell (in Chapters 2 and 5).

2. Immorality brings a life long reproach that is nearly impossible for one to fully recover from (in Chapter 6).

3. In Chapter 7:8 here was a young man void of understanding. He is described as being part of a group known in the KJV as ‘simple ones’ or ‘among the fools’ would also be an adequate translation (actually that is how the Geneva Bible puts it). He was setting himself up. We must never put ourselves in situations where we may fall into immoral demise.

4. He was free to roam around, that is he had too much freedom and possibly no curfew (Chapter 7:8-9). So he went into the wrong side of town. Today the ‘wrong side’ may be in our living rooms through television, VHS, or DVD. It may be in our bedrooms through the radio. It may be in our offices or homes through the internet. The point is that pornography is no longer 'geo-graphically' limited (pun intended). We must apply every precaution.

5. He was seduced by the ‘whorish woman’ (Chapter 7:10-22). The Bible makes a strong case about the fact that clothing indeed communicates (in verse 10 ‘attire of an harlot’). How important it is for ladies to wear modest apparel. And how wicked is our culture today to provide clothing for women that are absolutely suggestive, even for young girls. The question that comes to my mind is do her parents really care about her in allowing her to wear the latest fashion trend? I think not. Back to the whorish woman, she was acting holy – (v.14), but that was just false piety. She wanted nothing to do with God, and she really did not care about her husband, nor for the young man, nor for herself, nor anyone for that matter. She probabbly wanted his money and his life. True, godly romance belongs to the married couple. Any intimacy that is outside the marriage bond is a perversion.

6. Just like the young man was seduced by the whorish woman, so it is with our culture through bad entertainment, bad movies, bad music, and even through the internet. We are constantly pressured everywhere to act according to our lusts. Not only do we get pressure from the outside, but also from within. Temptation is a powerful invitation to sin, and so we must carefully guard our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

Proverbs does not just cover the negative aspects of fighting lust, but it also shares positive insights:
Proverbs 5:15-18 -

"15Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. 18Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth."

In fighting lust we become faithful men and women, particularly to our own spouse. We will also prove faithful to our faithful God. There is great wisdom in fighting lust.