Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor, artist, and musician. Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Holds a Doctorate in Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him! Matthew 5:16

Paranoid?

Proverbs 21:8

“The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.”
“The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright.” ESV

Paranoid?

Have you ever known someone who was paranoid? People who suffer from paranoia exhibit irrational, unwarranted fears that others are out to get them. They act evasive, stealthy, and cautious. For example, some people wear aluminum caps on their heads in order to keep space aliens from reading their minds. Little do they realize space aliens have better things to do.

foil hatBut…one is only paranoid if his fears are unfounded. It’s not paranoia if someone’s really out to get you. Those who were afraid to use cell phones because the government might be listening aren’t considered paranoid anymore, are they?

Dodging

Some people may act a little paranoid, but they could have real reasons to fear. The one who is running from the law is always the one dodging and swerving, constantly on the lookout for blue lights and unmarked cars.

I used to know a guy who never drove on main roads. Every time he went anywhere he always took back roads, “short cuts”, and scenic routes. The reason was because his driver’s license had been revoked. He wanted to stay off the main roads because he knew the police were after him. He was not paranoid; he was guilty.

The man being described in this proverb has something to hide. He moves in “forward and strange” ways, not because he is crazy, but because he is trying to avoid being caught. His evasiveness is a dead giveaway.

In the Open

The guilty are always sneaking, shifting, and dodging in and out of arguments, discussions, responsibilities, and obligations. The pure of heart, however, are predictable and straight, never having to fear being found out. They know that God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12), so they have nothing to hide.

It is so much better to live in righteousness. Doing what is right allows one to take the main roads, the straight roads, and the visible-to-all roads.

“Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” – Daniel 12:10 ESV

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8 ESV

Walk in grace and truth and it won’t matter who’s looking over your shoulder.


The Here and Now

Proverbs 21:7

“The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.”

Karma

Maybe you’ve heard people say, “What goes around comes around.” The meaning is, like a big circle, life has a way of coming back around. Some people call it karma.

I don’t believe in karma, however. As a matter of fact, karma is a theological idea that is linked to the unbiblical teaching of reincarnation. Karma doesn’t deal with the hear-and-now, only the yet-to-be-known. It pushes the consequences of this life into the unknown of tomorrow, leaving one never knowing for sure what tomorrow holds.

Some may read this proverb and conclude that it is similar to the idea of karma, but it is not. The consequences in this verse deal with the ones committing the wickedness, the judgement of which will be known in due time. In other words, this proverb deals with consequences that will be felt by the wicked doing the crime, not their poor, unwitting, future incarnations.

Consequences

One of the hardest things to do is convince children that their bad actions may result in painful consequences – in this life. Recently, a father I know (not me) was telling his daughter that she was being rude to others and that her selfish, hateful comments would get her in to trouble. No sooner than he warned the young girl, a cry of pain rang out. The little girl had gotten slapped by her older sister, which then resulted in the little girl getting a spanking, too.

When we refuse “to do judgement” and go about with our “robbery” like nothing in this life will ever happen, we live as fools.

“The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves. The trouble they make for others backfires on them. The violence they plan falls on their own heads.” – Psalm 7:14-16 NLT

It is unwise to think that we can live however we please and push the consequences down the road. The end of the road may be just around the corner, and there a toll must be paid.

 


Think Before You Promise

Proverbs 20:25

“It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.”
“It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows.” – NIV

Bad Deals

Have you ever made a bad deal? For instance, have you ever committed to an agreement thinking you were going to make a profit, only to find out later that you lost money? If you have been in that position, when did you figure out you were on the losing end of the deal?

Some people sign contracts and then once the job has begun try to renegotiate every little detail. Others will agree to do a project of some sort, agree on a price, but in the end haggle over the agreed amount. One person I know was promised a certain amount for a job, but then when it was completed, the person for which he worked decided to pay him less. He was told, “I have been thinking about what I promised, but now I don’t think the job was worth that much.”

Bad Vows

There are people who treat God the same way. The make promises, but then, when the real cost is figured, try to renegotiate.

For example, a businessman might say, “God, if you bless my investment, I will give you fifty percent of the profit.” He may even call a meeting with his staff and proclaim, “I am dedicating fifty percent of my business to the Lord!” But then, later that evening, he sits down and starts planning for the future and realizes he could have used that extra money. The next day he goes into the office and says, “You know, I think I promised God too much.”

Solomon says that we fall into a “trap” when we make rash vows or promises unto God. It is our responsibility to think about these things beforehand, not afterwards. Once we make a vow to God, we are wise to keep it.

“A man who makes a vow to the LORD or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do.” – Numbers 30:2 NLT


Watch Your Mouth or Get Your Lights Turned Out

Proverbs 20:20

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

My Daddy Used to Say

My father has been mentioned before, but I am going to talk about him again. You see, my dad had a very simple way with words – he said what he meant and he meant what he said. I rarely heard him raise his voice, and I didn’t want to.

One of the things my father used to say was based on the stand-up comedy of Bill Cosby (before he became infamous). He would tell me, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” But unlike modern children who never hear talk like that, I believed him.  And believe me, he was very capable.

Respect

Once I said something disrespectful to my mother and quickly regretted it. Another time, when doing some martial arts sparring, I struck my dad a little too hard in the jaw (doing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine). That was a big mistake.

I loved my daddy. He was my best friend and my hero. But my dad was quick to remind me that he was my father. He expected and demanded respect for both my mother and himself, and I gave it. I would have never considered “cursing” either one of them.

Cursing

When we look closer at the word “curseth,” we see that the meaning has more to do with making little of, or showing contempt for one’s parents, which is more than simply hurling bad words. Cursing one’s parents is showing utter disrespect.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where children think they have the right to fire off obscenities and make demands of their parents, like parents were meant to be their slaves. And what makes it worse, many laws encourage this type of “cursing” by punishing parents who exercise any discipline.

Consequences

Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The “cursing” that Solomon mentions, then, is seed which will one day reap a harvest of darkness.

Irony can be a wonderful tool, and Solomon uses it beautifully in this proverb. Just take a moment and think about it: the cursing children wouldn’t even exist without the parents they deem so invaluable, so who needs a progeny with no predecessors?

Our Father in heaven brought us into this world, and He can surely take us out.


Private Stock

Proverbs 20:15

“There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

The Salesman

I can’t help but grin as I read this verse. I can almost hear the voice of a salesman showing off his wares, but starting with the common, ordinary brands…

“Now, over here you got your gold, which is pretty good, and a lot of people like it, but I don’t think it’s what your looking for. It’s a little heavy, commonly used on teeth, etc. Just follow me to the next isle.

photo (11)Now, what you have here are the finest rubies money can buy. I have seen ’em worn by those Proverbs 31 women; sold a bunch to some watch makers; heck, I even sold a box full to Lady GaGa – she’s gonna glue ’em to herself.

But, you know, I got a feeling you want something a little more special, correct?”

That’s when the salesman would take on a serious tone and retrieve a single, velvet box from out of a locked safe. Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, he would open up the box and say,

This is what you really want…it’s far more valuable than the gold or rubies. Isn’t it beautiful? Nothing like it, huh? It’s called…wisdom.

It’s from the Owner’s private stock.”

The Owner

Gold and rubies are wonderful to look at. They’re even more wonderful to have in one’s possession. But if one had enough wealth he could have rooms full of both – all it would take is money.

When it comes to wisdom, however, no amount of money can buy it. You can’t even rent it. It has to be given or shared.

Fortunately, God wants us to walk into His store with nothing in our hands. He wants to give us something far more valuable than gold or rubies. All he wants us to do is ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 ESV

 


Weighty Truth

Proverbs 20:10

“Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.”
“Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both.” (NIV)

Flattering Scales

I know some people who hate being weighed. They cringe at the thought of stepping on scales. So, to  make things a little easier, they find ways to make adjustments.

Believe it or not, some people (and you know who you are) adjust their bathroom scales to show less than their actual weight. In other words, some people, after stepping out of the shower, would prefer that their scales lie.

They like being flattered, not fattened.

Lying Scales

Balance à tabac

Balance à tabac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This proverb has to do with scales, but here they are called “diverse weights, and diverse measures.” They were used back in the old days for determining the value or authenticity of an item.

For example, if someone said he had an ounce of pure gold, a standardized ounce of pure gold, when set on the other side of the scale, should balance out. If something was off then the scales would tip.

Many times dishonest merchants would cheat their customers by using “diverse” weights, or weights that said they weighed a certain amount, but didn’t. God hates lying, even when it involves weights.

Heavy Truth

Sometimes the truth may seem too heavy to bear. It may be disappointing to know how much we actually weigh. Those who have flattering scales in their bathrooms are often brought back to reality when they have to visit a doctor – their scales don’t lie.

What is wrong with a little scale tampering every now and then? The problem is that a lying scale leads people to believe a lie is the truth. With God there is no room for error or falsehood. Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.

There is no coming to God by way of a faulty scale.


Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.


Well Water (Cool Counsel)

Proverbs 20:5

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Well Water

Once when I was on a mission trip to Romania, a few of us spent a couple of days in a little town called Beuj. I remember not having a canteen or thermos (water bottle) to carry with me as we traversed the little roads around a farm in 90+ temperatures. We could only go so far away from a well.

You see, there was this little well in the town. We knew that we could walk a mile or two away, but only a mile or two. Any more and we would die of thirst before we got back. We were walking around handing out Bibles and hymnals, along with invitations to a community service at which I was going to preach. That well water was so cool and refreshing in that summer heat of 1992.

Cool Counsel

well-w-bucketThere is refreshing counsel deep inside a wise man or woman, and there are many dry and thirsty souls who need it. Sadly, many of those would-be wells of wisdom are covered, blocked, or labeled “unworthy” by the wells themselves.

If God has done a work in your life, let the Holy Spirit use you, your past, and your insight. God never wastes a tear. The pain you have gone through may have produced a deep well a struggling soul may need to make it another mile.


Of Salt and Slugs

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

Get a Job

You’ve probably heard someone yell out the window of a car, “Get a job!” I know I have. And if I had never heard it I know I have thought it. Every once in a while I see a person with a cardboard sign and think to myself, “Why don’t you get a real job, instead of making more than me?”

We should really be careful when we see people begging for work, for food, or for money. Unless we have followed a person around for a while, we don’t know what he has gone through. We should be more careful before we pass judgment.

Really, Get a Job

BUT, there are many people who really do end up begging others for basic needs all because of their laziness. There are people who refuse to spend any energy doing whatever it takes to feed themselves, much less their families.

I don’t want pity, nor am I bragging, but there was a time when I had to work 3-4 jobs at a time in order to keep my wife and daughters out of a shelter and in a house. I know what it is like to work in a dangerous factory during the week, deliver pizzas at night, wash dishes all weekend, and deliver news papers on Sunday morning. I know what it is like to plow in winter.

Salt or Snail?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The lazy person is called a “sluggard.” The name causes one to envision a long, slow-moving, slimy snail. The “sluggard” refuses to get up an do anything because work is hard. He chooses to wait until the “time is right,” but the right time never comes. Then, when hunger comes, he begs, complains, accuses others, and demands his “rights.”

Unfortunately, many societies encourage “sluggards.” They reward them with everything they want, including food, shelter, clothing, and cell phones. Sadly, some healthy Christians think it is appropriate to live off of certain programs, rather than work, but…

You can’t be the salt and light of the earth while acting like a snail.

 


Forfeit by Sin

Proverbs 20:2

The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. (KJV)
A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives. (NIV)

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart

What happens if you break the rules?

That seems like such a simple question, but for some reason we, humanity as a whole, seems to disregard the answer to this question on a fairly regular basis.

We prove this by keeping the wrong change when given too much by the cashier, posting a stupid and mean comment online, or speeding while driving down the road.

Yet think about this: what tends to happen when we see a police car on the side of the road? We have a minor panic attack thinking about the trouble we may be in!

It is evidenced by our children disobeying established rules, like throwing a ball in the house, playing with toys instead of doing homework, or doing something wrong and blaming a sibling or a friend.

How do the children feel? Afraid of the coming punishment, because they know they did something wrong. They hear their parents coming a mile away!

How do parents feel? Heartbroken that their child cannot follow simple rules.

God Hates Sin

Every time we sin, it is like telling our Heavenly Father His rules are stupid. We invite His punishment, and often with reckless abandon.

Sadly, it is our reckless abandon that invites His wrath, as well.

The good news is that God loves us so much and hates our sin so much that He stepped down into humanity to save us from His wrath by dying on the cross and rising from the grave.

Those who continue to disobey His laws and refuse to acknowledge His sacrifice remain under His wrath.

In effect, they choose to “sinneth against [their] own soul” and “forfeit their lives” to the wrath of the King.

Just King, thank You for saving us by taking the wrath due us on Your own shoulders. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to obey Your commands to love each other. Help us to love those who are still under Your wrath and lead them to Your grace and forgiveness.