24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.
I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
25 You ignored my advice
and rejected the correction I offered.
26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
and anguish and distress overwhelm you.
28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.
Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
29 For they hated knowledge
and chose not to fear the Lord.
30 They rejected my advice
and paid no attention when I corrected them.
31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,
choking on their own schemes.
32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.
33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”
Proverbs 1:24-33 (NLT)
I was really busy yesterday and never got the chance to sit down and write. Today’s section picks up right where the last one left off. It’s part of the same plea that Wisdom cries out from the streets. In it you see God’s Wisdom (personified as a woman) lamenting the fact that the foolish refuse to listen to sound reason. They enjoy being ignorant. In these verses God reminds them that they have had ample opportunity to listen and respond. This wasn’t a one time thing. They have continually ignored her.
What is the result? When they finally do fall into grave danger and really need help it will not be there. They will be left alone to deal with the consequences. There will come a time when they will desperately cry out for rescue but they won’t find it. They chose to live a life that deliberately ignored God and sought out evil and eventually they will have to reap what they have sown. It will be too late.
Have you ever been in the middle of a mess that you made? I have. When I looked around at the trouble I was in I knew I had no one to blame but myself. In some of those situations people had done their best to steer me in the right direction but I stubbornly went about things my own way. I had to own it. It was all mine.
We are fortunate that there is grace. There is forgiveness. God will allow us to make a mess of things and He will let us go through the difficult consequences but He doesn’t abandon us. Like Psalm 40 says, He will lift us up out of the pit and set our feet on solid ground. I don’t know about any of you, but I sure am thankful for that.
Grace and peace.
20 Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square.
21 She calls to the crowds along the main street,
to those gathered in front of the city gate:
22 “How long, you simpletons,
will you insist on being simpleminded?
How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
How long will you fools hate knowledge?
23 Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you
and make you wise.”
Proverbs 1:20-23 (NLT)
Here we see wisdom described as a woman who is shouting out in the streets. She is begging people to stop being foolish. It is almost as if some people choose ignorance over wisdom and realize that they are doing so. When they are called out on it they seem to take delight in the fact that they are being ignorant. They cannot seem to get enough of it. They relish playing the fool. For some people it seems like the more attention they get, the more foolish they act.
Why do people act that way? Have you ever heard someone say or do something so ignorant that you know they had know beforehand? I have probably done some pretty stupid things in the past and was fully aware that they were stupid before I ever decided to do them. Verse twenty-two says that fools hate knowledge. Why do you think that is? Have you ever held on to a false idea so tightly that you absolutely refused to acknowledge the truth even when it was evident?
The sad thing is that in many cases, the truth is right there for everyone to see. It is not hidden. It is not hard to decipher. Wisdom is standing out in the open for everyone to see. She is screaming at the top of her lungs, “Look at me! Listen to me!” She asks, “How long?” I think that many of us can relate to that when we see some of the things going on around us. The answer seems so clear yet people refuse to see. I can only wonder how God must feel when we all do the same.
Grace and peace.
10 My child, if sinners entice you,
turn your back on them!
11 They may say, “Come and join us.
Let’s hide and kill someone!
Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave;
let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
13 Think of the great things we’ll get!
We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
14 Come, throw in your lot with us;
we’ll all share the loot.”
15 My child, don’t go along with them!
Stay far away from their paths.
16 They rush to commit evil deeds.
They hurry to commit murder.
17 If a bird sees a trap being set,
it knows to stay away.
18 But these people set an ambush for themselves;
they are trying to get themselves killed.
19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
it robs them of life.
Proverbs 1:10-19 (NLT)
Yesterday I shared verses eight and nine which addressed parental wisdom. Today’s selection sounds exactly like something a Mom or Dad would say. How many of us tried to convince our parents to let us do something our friends were doing and got this response (or something similar)?
If they jump off a cliff are you going to jump off too?
I have discussed peer pressure up here before. I have confessed that it is something I struggled with for the majority of my life. If I am honest I probably still deal with it on some level but not like I did when I was younger. I don’t know why it was so important for me to think that I had to fit in. I have put myself in so many bad situations because I just wanted to belong. I think a lot of us can relate to that.
King Solomon is speaking as a parent addressing a child. He’s simply saying, “Hey man, don’t do that just because everyone else is. Don’t let them con you into going along with them. Nothing good will come from it.” We all have needed to hear that message from time to time. Even if we don’t struggle with extreme peer pressure we probably still need to hear it. I know I do.
Grace and peace.
8 My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck.
Proverbs 1:8-9 (NLT)
You may remember way back in November of last year that I mentioned something about going through the book of Proverbs up here. Well, I never did. In fact, I haven’t written much of anything since then. I really do want to make an honest effort to post regularly even if it’s not daily. That being said, I thought I’d pick up in Proverbs where I left off. For those who missed it, HERE is that post.
I have been a father for nearly twenty-one years. I have been a grandfather over a year and a half. I believe that I do have wisdom to share with my children and my grandchild. I don’t believe that I am incredibly brilliant or that my instruction is on the level of Solomon but I do believe my thoughts and experiences are valuable.
Like most people, I learned a lot from my parents. Some of it was good and some of it was bad. That’s not an indictment of anyone. It’s the truth. It’s true of all of us. We are all imperfect people and we all can teach good lessons and bad. I believe that I learned how to be a good (not perfect) father by examining the way I was raised. Are there things my parents did that I don’t do? Of course. I can remember explicitly saying things like, “I’ll never do that with MY kids.” In some areas that is exactly what happened. My parenting style deviated from my parents. However, if I am honest, I am much more like my parents than I ever thought I would be.
I do my best to teach my children (and now my grandchild) how to do things the right way. I don’t always succeed. When I fail I do try to be honest and admit my shortcomings. I try to apologize when I am wrong. I want them to be able to learn from my mistakes just as much as they learn from the things I get right. I think that’s the way it should work. I will be brutally honest, there have been times when I second guessed my parents and questioned the reasons they did some of the things they did. Once again, I think we all have done that. Did my parents always get it right? Of course not. No one does. Do I believe that I learned from them and that I am a better person because of those lessons? Yes. Yes I do.
My prayer is that my own children (and grandchildren) will be able to sit down one day and say the same about me. They won’t look back and see my perfect record as a Dad. I have messed up more times that I would like to admit. Hopefully they will be able to look back and see that there were times when I actually did know what I was talking about. For those times when I didn’t, I hope they see the grace and mercy that I so desperately try to live by.
Grace and peace.
I wrote this song last year while sitting at the piano in the sanctuary. At the time I considered it a demo and thought I would come back to it. I planned to rework the lyrics and the arrangement. After listening to it last night I think I’m going to leave it alone. It doesn’t have the potential to be a hit or anything like that but it is honest. It came from my thoughts and feelings at that exact moment. I would like to properly record it but I guess I will live if that never happens. The vocal performance isn’t stellar but that’s the way I sing.
Grace and peace.
As I have gotten older I have become more interested in the feast days that are celebrated by the more liturgical flavors of Christianity. Growing up I didn’t know very many people outside of what would be considered evangelical churches. I had one friend who was Roman Catholic but I knew very little about the traditions of that group. It wasn’t until I took courses on Church History and Denominations & Cults that I learned more about those who practice Christianity much differently than I do. I now have friends from many different branches of Christianity and it is always interesting to watch them discuss traditions and holidays that I really am not familiar with.
Today is Epiphany (or Theophany or Three Kings Day). It is celebrated to commemorate God revealing Jesus as His Son. In many branches of Christianity the feast references the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. This represents God’s revelation of Christ to the Gentiles. Others commemorate Jesus’ baptism. It is also important to note that not all groups recognize the same date. Eastern Christians celebrate on January 19th.
The first time I really became aware of Epiphany was back in 2008-2009 when we were living on the Gulf Coast. I remember seeing the brightly colored cake rings in stores and asked what they were all about. That is how I got hooked on King Cake. It was very interesting and weird at the same time. The little plastic baby hidden in the cake was especially confusing but after learning the significance of it I thought it was pretty cool.
The grocery up here in Pennsylvania had King Cakes last year and I was amazed. I didn’t expect to see them. I have already started looking to see if there will be any this year. I admit, I don’t eat King Cake because of the religious symbolism. To me it is just an incredible desert. I am glad that I know the background and can better understand those who see it in a more spiritual light. So, to all of my friends out there who are celebrating, Happy Epiphany. To those who will join in later this month, I will do my best to remember.
Grace and peace.
I am only five days in to the new year and have already missed two days. In my defense, I said I was going to “try” to write every day. I did sit down and make an attempt yesterday but I kept getting distracted and having to get up. By the time Bible study was over last night I just didn’t have anything thing to say. I don’t know that I have much to say today but I didn’t want to miss three in a row. The more days I miss, the harder it is to sit down and start writing again.
The memorial service for Mark is today. I’ll be keeping his family in my thoughts and prayers today. Mark was right about the same age my uncle Neil was when he passed away a little over five years ago. When I was younger I thought turning 50 meant that someone was ancient. Now that I am less than four years away from hitting it, I realize just how young it is. I realize that there is sickness and that there are accidents but that’s just too young. I have never needed much to help my keep my own mortality in mind but this definitely cements it.
At the same time. I don’t want to be morbid or sound as if I am depressed. Within the last week I have spent time with two families who lost loved ones. Even though there was legitimate sadness, I was encouraged by the love and joy both families shared as they remembered the good times. I imagine Mark’s service today will be sad but I know there’s going to be lots of funny stories and lots of laughing even in the midst of sorrow. Mark was that kind of guy. He will be sorely missed.
Grace and peace.
I started a new sermon series yesterday about how we can make our mark in this world while we’re here. I mentioned some people who made a positive influence on me when I was younger. I talked about leaving a legacy. While preaching I had a lot on my mind. Some good friends from North Carolina had just buried their mother on Saturday. Another family here is dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one. To say that I have been examining my own mortality and my own contributions to the words would be an understatement. I came to the office today just to check some e-mail and look at some stuff on ESPN. While here I received two phone calls. I was not anticipating either of them and both of them left me rattled.
One was in regards to a young man struggling with some personal issues. The caller wanted me to be aware of the situation. I appreciated the call but it left me wondering what I should do next. How can I make a positive influence? How can I help this guy? I don’t have the answer yet but it had got me to thinking. The second call floored me. In fact, I am still sitting here in disbelief. A buddy from North Carolina died suddenly this morning and I just don’t know how to process it. I am stunned. Literally. This guy was making a mark in this world. He was making an impact and now all we have left is his legacy. His physical work here on earth is done but I imagine that we’ll see the effects of his life for many years to come.
That’s all I can manage at the moment.
Grace and peace.
I am going to make a determined effort to write something every day this year. I thought I would start off by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I also thought I would share ten of my favorite albums of 2016. This is not a definitive Top Ten list because I haven’t put them in order. I don’t know that I could if I wanted to. I keep bouncing back and forth between #1 and #2 so just take this as a list of ten albums I listened to a LOT this past year.
- Crowder – American Prodigal
- Needtobreathe – Hard Love
- Switchfoot – Where The Light Shines Through
- Michael Sweet – One Sided War
- Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
- Relient K – Air For Free
- Megadeth – Dystopia
- The Jelly Jam – Profit
- Steve Taylor & The Danielson Foil – Wow To The Deadness
- Sho Baraka – The Narrative
Grace and peace.