Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. His tombstone will read, "I Can't Believe He Actually Said That!" Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him.

“I Pity the Fool!”

Proverbs 28:8

“He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.”
“Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.” – NIV

Pitying the Fool

When I was growing up in the 1980’s, my family and I loved to watch The “A” Team on television. Each week we would look forward to how a group of former Green Berets would battle bad guys, firing thousands of rounds of ammunition and wrecking multiple vehicles, all without ever killing a single person.

One of the most lovable characters on the program was Mr. T. He was a large, tough, black man with a Mohawk haircut and enough gold necklaces to finance a small army. Any time he was challenged, his famous catchphrase was, “I pity the fool!”

Today’s proverb, however, describes how a hero will one day come along and avenge the ones who have been taken advantage of by the rich. The hero will have pity on the “poor,” not the loan shark.

Pitying the Poor

There are many that claim to be doing the poor a favor by loaning them money. Yet, once the money is loaned, the rich take advantage of the situation, binding the poor to an even greater debt. If there is a warning to be had, Solomon makes it clear that God does not approve of taking advantage of the poor, especially by inflicting unreasonable interest rates and fees.

I wonder, then, what Solomon would have to say about places that offer payday/advances? What would he think of locking the poor into 300+% interest rates? Those who offer these “services” should be very careful, for one day their profits may end up in the hands of a “Mr. T” who pities the poor.


Justice Understood

Proverbs 28:5

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
“Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the LORD understand completely.” – NLT
Media Courtrooms

One of the greatest hindrances to the legal system is the media. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that the public can find out what goes on our courtrooms. However, when the public relies solely on the media (especially social media) to keep them abreast of all the details of a trial, nothing but confusion, misinformation, and bad judgment can come from it.Conscience and law

Depending on who is reporting the news, one arrested for a crime might either be portrayed as a monster, or the second coming of Ghandi. Then, when one adds the prejudices of certain segments of society, it wouldn’t matter who did what, just as long as justice is seen to favor the group prejudiced against. In the meantime, as Rome burns, the media fuels the fire for the sake of ratings.

Perspectives

No matter the case, this proverb tells us that from an evil person’s perspective, compared to one who “follows the Lord,” he cannot, under any circumstance, be made to understand justice. No matter the reason for the verdict, if one is convicted for a crime, the evil will always cry, “Foul!

On the other hand, even good people can unwittingly align themselves with evil men. Without knowing all the details, only being fed what the media wants to dish out, they can resort to aberrant behavior. I have seen this happen many times, and have even been on the receiving end of unwarranted righteous indignation. Whatever happened to hearing both sides? Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Whatever happened to mercy?

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8 KJV

Whom Do We Seek?

When we seek our own, selfish desires – the ones that cause us to have the verdicts turn our way – our understanding can be darkened. It is only when we seek the Lord and let Him handle the situation that our eyes and hearts are open to better recognize true justice.

However, crazy as it may sound, for the believer and follower of God, the most outrageous verdicts handed down by the most insane judges are only lower court rulings yet to be tried by the Judge of the Ages. His judgment will be true, righteous, and clear enough for the vilest to understand.

In the meantime, the wise man will never forget these words: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).


Constant Contending

Proverbs 28:4

“They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.”
Entertainment Shock

The entertainment world is a never-ending circus display of freaks and oddities. Normal is never good, only what is abnormal and shocking. The more outrageous, the more likely it is to get ratings.

At the time of this writing, several female entertainers have been competing with each other over how far one can go without going too far. Long gone are the simple, clean-cut days of Elvis’ gyrating hips and the mini-skirts of the 60’s. We are even beyond the days of “wardrobe malfunctions.” Today is the day of full nudity, graphic sex, and animalistic behavior – at music concerts!

How could things have come this far? Why aren’t people like Miley Cyrus , Lady Ga Ga, and Madonna arrested for public indecency? It is because their fans have long forsaken the law of God and have learned to praise what is wicked. The critics are only critical of those who “contend” with them.

Constant Contending

Those who stand in opposition to the wicked in a society that praises vulgarity, violence, and vice will always find themselves in conflict. The mom that opposes sex education for her young child will always be considered the enemy of “good.” The dad that tries to prevent his daughter from leaving the house looking like prostitute will always be considered a prude. It never ends.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:15-17 NIV


Leaving Mayberry

Proverbs 28:2

“For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”
“When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.” – NIV
Mayberry

Have you ever noticed that where you see peaceful, law-abiding, respectful, and neighborly people, you rarely see police? Who needs a patrolman at every corner, a police car on every street, and a S.W.A.T. team on stand-by when there’s no crime to speak of?

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith and Don Knott...

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts from a Jim Nabors television special. Griffith and Knotts revive their Andy and Barney roles for a skit on the show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember Andy Griffith’s old show and the town of Mayberry? Mayberry was a fictitious place where Andy was the sheriff and Barney Fife was the deputy with one bullet. The jail in Mayberry was usually occupied by a drunk named Otis, but he had access to the key and could “check out” as soon as he felt sober.

Do you ever remember Andy and Barney having to bust Meth dealers and prostitutes? Was there ever a cry for gun control or government-run healthcare? Was drunk driving a big problem? And, do you ever remember seeing a camera sitting atop the lone red light downtown?

My City

My city…your city…there’s not much difference: none are the Mayberry of the past. There are small towns here and there that resemble Mayberry on the surface, even ones that maintain low crime rates. However, I would dare say there are very few places these days where the sheriff and his lone deputy take the evenings off.

Everywhere we turn there are people calling for more police, traffic cameras, and surveillance of all kinds. Voices from every corner cry out for more supervision and less freedom – for more “princes” in a land lacking “men of understanding.”

“For the transgressions of the land…” Why are there so many laws and lawyers? Why are there so many who feel they need to rule over us? Could it be that we refuse to abide by a higher law? A law written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10)?

It looks like we’ve left Mayberry far behind.


Reflections of Reality

Proverbs 27:19

“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” – ESV

A Little Complicated

Today’s proverb, especially in the King James Version, is not for the casual reader. The wording is complicated, to say the least. But even when we look at other translations, the truth of this proverb, like a flower in mid-bloom, is never fully revealed.

It seems that verse 19 is an extension of verse 17, but it takes “iron sharpeneth iron” to a deeper level, “where one is to seek out and discern good advice, but also to heed the counsel of one’s heart (as well as pray!).”[1]

There are evidently several ways to interpret this passage. The New American Commentary explains: “Some take it to mean that one sees one’s inner self reflected in the face of a companion; and others, that one comes to self-understanding by introspection.”[2] However, the explanation of this proverb may be no more complicated than the need to see ourselves for who we really are.

Exposing Reality

A friend once had some things happen that caused him to react in a very fleshly, un-Christian way. Because of the circumstances that led to his angry response to an obvious injustice, I was not going to judge him or think less of him in any way; I might have done the same thing had I been in his shoes.

But that evening, after reading Proverbs chapter 6 in preparation for the next day’s Sunday school class, my friend called me on the phone to apologize for his actions. Then, the next morning in class, as we talked about how reading the Bible exposes who we really are, my friend said, “But sometimes what I see in the reflection is not really me.”

mirrorAh, but that’s not so!” I replied. The fact, I explained, is that when we peer down into the water of God’s word, the reflection we see is the only accurate reflection available. While other mirrors show us what we want to see, the Bible reflects our reality.

“But that’s not who I want to be…I’m not that way,” he said. “Oh,” I replied, “but that is who you are…who we all are…The heart is wicked and capable of all kinds of things, and God’s word reminds us of that.”

The Point

So what’s the point? Is there any hope? Sure there is! It is only when we are able to reflect on who we really are, when we can see ourselves face-to-face, than we can move beyond the pretenses of our own pride and self-righteousness.

But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” – Colossians  3:8-10 NLT


[1] Rowland E. Murphy, Proverbs, vol. 22, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 209.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 220.


Drip…Drip…Drip…

Proverbs 27:15-16

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.”
“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.” – NLT

Water Torture

Chinese water torture is a process where a person is strapped down and forced to endure a steady, continuous dripping of water on one’s forehead. I have never experienced it, but I’ve read that it’s pretty horrible.

mythbusters.jpg

mythbusters.jpg (Photo credit: LVCHEN)

As a matter of fact, a popular television program decided to put water torture to the test. MythBusters (seen on The Discovery Channel) convinced a couple of their people to allow themselves to be subjected to Chinese water torture, and the following is from their official website.

“The MythBusters racked and restrained Kari, then turned on a leaky faucet, while Adam endured the drip sitting upright and unrestrained. Throughout the process, both took psychological assessments to track their mental states.

After nearly two hours, Kari started to seriously crack and experienced claustrophobia and shoulder spasms. Adam sat through more than three hours of water torture, and while he wasn’t as shaken as Kari, the procedure proved uncomfortable.

In fact, the preliminary torture trials rattled the MythBusters enough that they called the experiment quits early. Even in a safe environment, the myth of Chinese water torture was deemed too plausible to risk complete confirmation.” *

It would seem, then, that a continual dropping would not be an easy thing to endure.

A Contentious Wife

I can only imagine the inestimable horror that Solomon must have endured. This man, despite his wisdom, took care of nearly 1,000 women (wives and concubines). Out of that number, there had to have been a few who would not stop nagging. He must have had to endure a lot of “rainy days.”

The problem with a contentious, quarrelsome, nagging wife is that she gradually, over time, wears a man down. And no matter what he does to try to console her, every effort is as worthless as grabbing something with greased hands.

All women, including my precious wife, have a unique, God-given ability with words. They know they have this power, too, and often use it to their advantage, especially when they are angry.

But the woman in this proverb is one who never gives her man a break; she’s always on his back about something. Sadly, the results are never what the woman wants. Usually, if the husband doesn’t simply lock himself away in the garage or out on the lake, he will end up leaving her for a woman who flatters his wounded ego.

Drip, Drip, Drip

I have never experienced Chinese water torture or a contentious, quarreling wife. However, I know how annoying a leaky faucet can be, especially when one’s trying to sleep. Drip…drip…drip…drip…drip…

Women, the best advice I can offer is to speak your peace, let your husband know your feelings, then turn it over to God. Then, men, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church, and give yourself for your wife. Mutual respect can go a long way toward avoiding the torture of a long, rainy day.

Source: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/is-chinese-water-torture-effective.htm


Time to Think (or I’ll be in trouble)

Proverbs 27:15-16  

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.”
Changing Schedule

On a practical note, Proverbs 27:15 and 16 were originally scheduled for two separate posts. But on further reflection, they seemed to be better suited to be covered in one post. At first I did not think this was a wise idea, having always read verse 15 by itself. However, when I began reading these two verses together, it seemed obvious they were meant to be that way.

Therefore, instead of having a day with nothing said, you are receiving a bonus! Tomorrow we will look at these verses in more detail.

In the meantime…

Choosing Words

One of the greatest lessons a wise man can learn is when to speak…and when NOT to speak. This is especially true for men who are married (to women, that is). There is always a price to pay when we fail to choose our words carefully.

When I shared with my wife what I was going to be addressing for today’s “thought,” she made her thoughts very clear: “I hope you let everyone know that your wife is NOT like that.”

So, if I am supposed to write about Proverbs 27:15-16, how am I supposed to do it as one with any experience? If I say, “I know what Solomon’s talking about,” then I am certain to suffer. If I confess that I have never experienced the continual dropping of a very, very, almost endless rainy day, then my wisdom might be called into question. What should I do?

Suggestions

Dear friends, what are YOUR thoughts? How do YOU think I should handle this?

But before you make any suggestions, read the selected passage in the New Living Translation. I would hate for you to underestimate the gravity of the task ahead of me.

“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.” – NLT

If I get this wrong, my lovely, pleasant, peaceful, easy-going, wife could choose to make my days very rainy, indeed.