Category Archives: affection

Kindness to Animals

Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Wicked and Cruel

I will never forget a particular video I saw posted on YouTube. The owner of a large python purchased a fluffy, brown rabbit and brought it home. There, in his living room, he let this peaceful, tame rabbit meant to be a pet hop around while his sorry snake got closer and closer.

Snickering with anticipation, the owner of the snake filmed the unwary rabbit as it got accustomed to its new environment. Then, it happened – the python struck, coiled around the rabbit, and began its death squeeze. But what made me sick, as I am sure it did God, was when the snake’s owner got up close to the rabbit and laughed. He laughed because the rabbit cried.

There is a Difference

It is one thing to kill an animal for food, or even in self-defense. It is even understandable to kill animals when their populations get out of hand. But it is something totally different when a human is intentionally cruel to something helpless and trusting.

This proverb says that “a righteous man regardeth (knows, cares about) the life” of his animal. In contrast, the wicked are cruel. But some may wonder, “What does it matter?” It matters to the one who values life.

“His Eye Is On the Sparrow…”

It might surprise people to know that God cares about the lives of animals. When Jonah was upset because God did not destroy Nineveh, God said unto him,

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” – Jonah 4:11

Literally, the last words of God in the story of Jonah concerned the cattle of a pagan city. If God cared about these cattle, does it not stand to reason that He might disapprove of torturing pets? Remember, not a sparrow falls without Him knowing (Matt. 10:29).

This is the thing: let there be no mistake, if a human can find enjoyment in the suffering of helpless animals, then what is to keep him from harming helpless humans? Wickedness breeds wickedness.

A Prayer

Father God, help us to treat all life with respect, for it is You who created life. You made Man in the image of Yourself, but you also made all creation for your pleasure. Help us to be mindful and caring, not wicked and cruel. And thank you, Lord, for if you care about the beasts of the field, then how much more do you care for your children?

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Commended and Despised

Proverbs 12:8

“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.”

First Look

When I first read this verse, I thought “This is not how our world approaches a man of wisdom versus a man with a perverse heart.”

As of 2012 we can see a stark difference in how people see others.

Many people compare the 44th US President, Barack Obama, with the 40th US President, Ronald Reagan. Most Republicans view Reagan as one of the greatest leaders in American history, but most Democrats think he did horribly. Most Democrats view Obama as a great leader, but most Republicans think he has done horribly.

Depending on who you discuss these men with, they are either as seen as wise and adored or wicked and despised.

Second Look

Looking farther back, however, we see two different men generally respected. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is touted by both political parties as one of their own (even though he was the first Republican President), because he led the nation through a horrible civil war that helped free slaves (to an extent, at least). The other President, the 35th, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, is also generally seen as a wise leader. He managed to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis and balance the Federal Budget. Both men were assassinated.

Both men had faults – no one denies that. These men also were able to lead well during difficult times through wisdom.

The Church

People generally have good qualities, even the worst of us, but it may be harder for some people to see them.

Sadly, we see this kind of division within the Church, as well.

There are strong leaders who are not known by most people. There are nearly demonic leaders revered by the masses. There are people all throughout the spectrum in between and reversed.

Most of us know names like Billy Graham and John Stott. We also know names like Fred Phelps of Westboro “Baptist Church” and Jim Bakker of “Praise the Lord” fame. The first set are seen as great, holy men of God. The second set are seen as wicked and … perverse.

There are men and women throughout the Church who fall under these descriptions.

We must show grace to all, because even the best of us are weak at times (Even the Apostle Paul admitted so in Romans 7). Trust is always earned, but we must still show love. (There are other posts for discussing the reasons we fail)

Our wise King, give us wisdom to tell the difference between wise and perverse leaders. Help us grow in wisdom that we may be loved and respected, to Your glory.


Powerful Words

Proverbs 12:6

“The words of the wicked [are] to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.”
“The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.” (NLT)

The Power of Words

Words have great power. Words can build up, and words can tear down. Words can point in the right direction, but words can also lead astray. Words can encourage, and words can cripple. Words can heal, and words can hurt. There can be no doubt that words spoken thoughtlessly or without wisdom can cause untold damage. The statement in this proverb that words can be like a murderous ambush provides a serious warning about how we choose to speak, and the words that leave our lips.

Be Careful What You Say

As a teenager I can remember being told to put my brain in gear before opening my mouth! This was good advice. Before we open our mouths we have to consider how our words will be received. What is their purpose? Every word is important. Every word has the potential to be good or to be evil. Be careful what you say!

Say What You Need To Say

Then there are the words that we find difficult to say. These are the words that should restore relationships, or ‘save lives’ as the NLT translates this proverb. We all know what these words are, and we have all struggled to say them with heartfelt meaning. These are words for our families, and for our friends:

“I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.”

Remember that it is not only the words we speak, but also how we say them. I know when my children are sorry, and I know when they are not. They know when I have forgiven them, and they know when I haven’t.

Then there is God and the things we say to Him. God knows our hearts completely. He knows when we are sorry, and He knows when we are not. He knows when we are hungry for Him, and He knows when we have no space for Him in our busy lives. Here are three words we need to say to Him with meaning.

“I love You.”

Say what you need to say.

Listen

Say what you need to say (Say – John Mayer).

Be careful little lips what you say. For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray (Casting Crowns – Slow Fade).


Be the Good Wife

Proverbs 12:4

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Two Paths

I was engaged to be married once, before I met my wife.

The Ex

There were a lot of good qualities about my ex-fiancé, such as being intelligent, beautiful, and creative. She also had some qualities that were not so good, and we were not a good match.

During our relationship, we both walked dangerous paths. We drank a lot of alcohol, together and separately, much of the time. We got into smoking many things (all of the legal variety). We began “sleeping together” about half way through our relationship. We became bitter, even mean toward others and eventually ourselves.

That relationship wore me out: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I call much of our relationship “the time I should not have called myself a Christian,” because … well … read Galatians 5:19-21. My ex and I either considered or did almost everything on that list.

My Wife

When I met the woman who became my wife, we did things differently.

The relationship began with a promise of purity and a dedication to God. Even when we are angry with each other (yes, it happens in good relationships, too!) we still find good things to say to each other. (To be honest, our “fights” last mere moments, and our anger subsides in even less time … often instantly)

We lift each other up in prayer, worship God together, and find ourselves sacrificing in some way for the other on a regular basis … only to receive the greater blessing of joy and happiness, as we both enjoy much of the same things, anyway!

This may not be the exact picture of all strong couples, but there will always be similarities.

The Church

Now consider this: Jesus Christ has called the Church His Bride (As evidenced in Ephesians 5 and Revelation 21-22).

How do you treat the Husband?

Do you lift up and bless? Or, do you cause shame and bitterness?

O God, strengthen our relationships with love and grace. Give us the wisdom to know when a relationship is healthy or not. Guide us in all righteousness that we may bless You with our lives.

 

 


Another Perspective on 10:12 (Web Exclusive)

Proverbs 10:12

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”

Hatred

One of the problems with people is that they can’t tell the difference between love and hate. Even recently a now-former professional football star’s wife came out in his defense after punching her in an elevator. She thinks he loves her!

False love can take many shapes. Envy, lust, jealousy, and possessiveness all dress up like love, but underneath the woolly exterior is a hungry, deadly beast. In reality, what many call “love” is actually hatred. The love of a man towards his wife, as explained in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, is clearly defined as a sacrificial one, the kind that would no sooner strike his wife than himself.

Real Love

True love can be seen in the last part of 10:12. True love would rather deal with hurt privately than publicly. A real love would bear reproach, suffer shame, and seek the greater long-term good rather than immediate retribution.

Jesus showed true love for the world by going to the cross, bearing our sin, our shame, and our blows.

Now that I think about it, maybe Mr. Rice’s wife loves him more than he loves her.


Sin, Sweet Sin

 Proverbs 9:16-17

“Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

In previous verses we have read about foolish young men who got into trouble simply because they wandered into the wrong part of town. In this case, however, what we are looking at is the baiting of a righteous man.

The Prey

In verse 15 we read that the foolish woman calls out to “passengers who go right on their way.” In other words, these are men who are “minding their own business” (NLT), or “going straight on their way” (ESV). They are the picture of travelers who have no intention of falling into sin, but are intent on following the “right way.”

Let there be no misunderstanding, those who want to stay on the right path of life are always going to be under attack. They are always going to be considered prey. Like a fisherman seeking a trophy catch, the foolish woman longs to mount the virtuous, the pure, the right-walking man on her wall.

I have personally seen and heard both men and women brag of their hellish plans. Men say, “If you really love me, you’ll give it up.” Women say, “I know he’s married, but I’ll make him give in.” Professors say, “This semester I will break your faith in God.”

The Problem

Sadly, so many that have been taught to live pure lives, who have tried to walk in the “right way,” have no idea what is out to get them. They assume that good and bad is obvious: good things are sweet; bad things are sour. They are unaware of poisons like automotive engine coolant, the sweet fluid that has killed many a wayward pet.

It is not to the stupid that the foolish woman calls, but to the naive. Because they have not been exposed to or stained by the evils of the world, the “simple” can be easily tempted. They are essentially “fresh meat” for the temptress.

Therefore, it is so important, when we “train up a child in the way that he should go,” that we speak truthfully about sin. Children need to know why sin is tempting. They need to know it can taste really sweet. They need to believe we’re not depriving them, but preparing them.

The Pan

The reason sexual/sensual sin is so dangerous is because it initially fulfills what it promises. There is a rush that comes from drinking stolen water. The thrill of eating bread in secret is hard to compare. Therefore, the temptress is not lying when she throws out the bait. What she is saying is true, so the one being tempted starts to think, “What’s so wrong with it?”

But just like a baited hook, there is a line attached to every sweet temptation. Once the hook is set, one rarely gets free, but ends up either in hot water, or the frying pan.

A Prayer

Lord, give us wisdom and discernment. Help us to avoid temptation, especially when the bait looks so sweet, so promising. Give us holy x-ray vision so that we may see the hidden hooks.


No Comparison

Proverbs 8:10-11 

“Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”
Can’t Buy Me Love

I was only a tiny tike when the Beatles made girls scream and cry like someone was burning them with a hot iron. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even born when their music hit American shores. But the first thing that came to mind as I read these verses for today was a song that the Beatles recorded back in 1964, Can’t Buy Me Love.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The song talks about money and all the things it can buy; everything, that is, except love. Love has to be given freely, or else it’s something else (like discussed in chapter 7). True love cannot be bought with even the most valuable stones or purest gold.

On the other hand, it is reported that after the Beatles became superstars, Paul McCartney thought it might have been better to rename Can’t Buy Me Love. When looking back on all the pleasures that money did bring he said, “It should have been ‘Can Buy Me Love.’ ” I guess if one’s definition of love is based on the world’s wisdom, anything’s for sale.

No Comparison

In verse eleven we read, “all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to [wisdom].” No matter how shiny or fulfilling, nothing compares. No matter how expensive, rare, or desirable, nothing compares to the value of wisdom.

Money can buy a lot of things, including a Proverbs 7 kind of “love.” The finest gold can open doors. Silver can put a house over your head. Rubies can even inspire others to stand in awe as you strut by. Yet, none of these can compare to wisdom.

We need to be careful what we seek in life. The things that seem most attractive may be things that fade away with time, or even lose value.  “Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.” – Ecclesiastes 7:12 NLT


Brazen Church Girl

Proverbs 7:13-15

“So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”

One of the greatest myths is that all church-going girls are “good” girls. These verses are a good example. Not only has this woman been waiting in the dark for her prey, she is openly religious, and uses her surface piety to lure the fool. But let’s break down these verses one at a time.

“So she caught him, and kissed him..”

Look who is the aggressor; it’s not the man. Conventional wisdom (not godly wisdom) has taught us that men are always the aggressor and that women should be wary. However, there are plenty of young women, as young as middle school, who know exactly what they want, and how to get it. Consider the words of this mother…

“I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. … The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?” (source, Family Life Today)

“Impudent face…”

It is amazing how people can look you right in the eye and tell a bold-face lie. That is what this woman was doing. The Hebrew word translated here as “impudent” could also be translated as brazen. She just looked this naive boy in the face and told him what he wanted to hear.

“Peace offerings…vows…found thee.” 

It is obvious in verses 14 and 15 that something doesn’t add up. Why is it that a woman of the night would be telling this young man about how she went to church? Oh, it’s pretty simple, really. She was just saying what a good Jewish boy wanted to hear.

Here was the total, irresistible package: a young, gorgeous and religious woman calling out to be rescued from breaking the Law. “I am so glad I found you! You’re the answer to my prayers! This must be God’s will,” she essentially said.

In the Old Testament, when a peace offering was made, the leftover meat was to be eaten that night, and no later (Lev. 7:15). She presented her case in such a way that said, “We have to do this now!” She played to his religious chivalry.

When this woman grabbed the man, kissed him, lied to him, and trapped him, she did it with everything that said: “This must be a good girl – she’s only trying to do the right thing – and she likes me!” I can almost imagine him repeating the words of an old Debbie Boone song, “This can’t be wrong when it feels so right.”

A Prayer

Oh, Lord God, open our eyes to the tricks of the Enemy! Give us the wisdom we need to discern between a treasure far above rubies (Prov. 31:10) and a trap. Help us to teach our sons and daughters to be godly. Help us to be parents who set the example.


Get Drunk On Love!

Proverbs 5:18-20

“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”

A Sweet Spring

It’s the sweetest spring in the world, that spring seeping from the foot of Wolf Creek Mountain in the South Gap region of Bland County, Virginia.  The water of that spring is so delightful that my ancestors built their two-story log home next to that spring some 200 years ago.  At that time or shortly thereafter, they dug down around five feet, and encased the pool in stone. Later still, they built a log “spring house” to enclose and protect the spring itself, and to create a safe haven for the jugs of milk and tubs of butter which they kept chilled in the pool.  My father grew up fetching buckets of water from that spring every morning, and when he became a man and built a house of his own nearby, he tapped into that same ever-flowing source of sweet spring water to supply his new home.

Once you’ve tasted the best, no other water in the world is going to satisfy!

A Blessed Fountain

I think that’s what Solomon has in mind in Proverbs 5:18.  The precious union between a husband the wife of his youth is a satisfying, life-strengthening fountain to be enjoyed deeply and guarded faithfully.  As I type these words, my mind goes back to the many summer mornings I spent doing farm work in the environs of the spring house, and I recall the immense joy of plunging my sun-burned, sweat-streaked face deep into the pool and gulping down that sweet water.  Twenty-one years into marriage with the wife of my youth, I can affirm that the fountain of union with my precious wife is just as blessed and precious today, as it was on June 15, 1991, when we exchanged our vows of marriage.

Drinking to Intoxication

Did that heading get your attention?  Perhaps a closer examination of the verses above will make you think about the marriage relationship in an exciting and intriguing way.  In verse 18, the sexual union of husband and wife is described as a delightful fountain from which the couple is urged to drink deeply.  In verse 19, that union is depicted in even more intimate terms, with the metaphorical image of drinking from her breasts.  In verse 20, the “drinking” image is re-visited by a rhetorical question which the father asks the son, “Why would you want to be intoxicated in the embrace of a woman who is a stranger?”  (The ESV and the “new” NIV both pick up on the translation of the Hebrew “tis-geh” as “intoxication”, which I believe is preferable to the KJV “ravished”, in light of the author’s chosen metaphor of ‘drinking’.)

What’s the overall message? 

What’s the overall message? Within the context of marriage, to drink and get drunk on love!  Of course, Solomon develops this theme much more deeply in the Song of Solomon, in which the husband describes his union with his wife in similarly poetic language,

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk

And the community urges the couple to indulge in the joy of marital union,

Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved. (Song of Solomon 5:1)

Can Marriage Really Be that Great?

Can marriage really be that great? Absolutely!  But first, re-visit the implicit warning.  If you’re not happy at home, then you’re most certainly not going to become happy through an affair.  An affair is a sure path to personal destruction.  (Many entries in this blog teach as much.)  If you and your spouse find yourselves struggling to make your marriage work, please know that there is hope and healing in Jesus Christ.  Locate a solid Christian marriage counselor.  If your spouse won’t go with you, then go alone.  You can work on “your stuff” even if he or she refuses to work on “his or her stuff”.  Attend a marriage conference together.  Family Life Today’s “Weekend to Remember” marriage conferences are phenomenal places to re-connect and start over.    http://www.familylife.com/weekend

Father God, I pray for those readers who have taken the time to read this entry.  I ask that by your Spirit, that their marriages would be strong, and that they would drink deeply from the spring of marital love.  Bless them I pray through Christ our Lord, Amen. 


Deadly Lips

Proverbs 5:3-5

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

Still Relevant 

Many question the ability of a 3000 year old text to address the issues of modern life. They wonder how something written so long ago can have any relevance today. Yet, the wisdom of Proverbs came from the same Source that could see all of time in a glance.

The advice Solomon shared with his sons in these verses (and the next three) is as true today as it was back then. The siren song of a temptress can still woo a foolish, gullible man into the depths of hell.

Don’t Be Fooled

Unlike the modern intellectual who insists “perception is reality,” Solomon warns that false perception can kill. In effect he says, “Boys, don’t let a harlot fool you; she’s not what she seems.” In reality, her pucker is poison, and her “sweet nothing’s” a sword.

I’m reminded of the way Indians used to kill wolves. They would repeatedly dip a sharp knife in blood, freezing each layer, until the blade was completely covered. When a wolf smelled the blood it would find the popsicle and lick away. As its tongue became lacerated, its own blood made it lick more, until it bled to death.

In much the same way, a man’s desire for beautiful women is as natural as a wolf’s craving for blood. And because the Enemy knows our weaknesses, he places lipstick-covered blades in our path (and on our computer screens). Only wisdom can discern the danger.

Heed the Warning!

An old country song said, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” Sadly, that’s what many men say when captured by her spell. Translation: “Her lips are sweet; her mouth is smooth; and I will partake of her pleasures all the way to the grave.”

Oh, that men would heed this warning! Oh, that our sons would remember “favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain” (Prov. 31:30). A woman that feareth the Lord is not only worthy of praise, but she probably won’t poison, stab, and waltz you through the gates of hell.

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. For what has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked and misfortune for those who do evil? Doesn’t he see everything I do and every step I take?” – Job 31:1-4 NLT