Category Archives: Animals

Beyond Me

Proverbs 30:18-19

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

Too Wonderful?

In this modern age, there are a lot of wonders to behold. The majority of those wonders consist of man-made technologies that capture and hold our attention only as long as they are new. Once the newness is gone and another gadget or upgrade hit the market (which is about every thirty seconds), the “wonderful” suddenly becomes boring and old.

Is there anything in this world that is made by man that is “too wonderful” to understand? For some people, the answer would be “yes.” For example, I will probably never understand how a person can manage to play a whole symphony on a horn with just three valves, much less how a rocket gets to the moon and back. But anything that is made by man can be understood by man, duplicated, and marketed. And once something is fully understood, the awe is gone.

Yes, Too Wonderful!

However, there are some things, no matter how much we learn, that will still be “too wonderful,” so much so that it will elude the wisest men alive (or ever lived). Not even the writer of this proverb could figure these things out.

Some things seem simple on the surface, but wind up far more complicated and intricate once we begin to examine them more closely. But even when we figure out the mechanics of some things, we later realize that there is a “way” about them that defies explanation: the way of a soaring eagle; the grace of a serpent moving across a rock; how a little boat survives in the midst of the sea; how ugly men attract beautiful women (Seriously!).

There are some things that are just beyond me, and I’m glad.

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The Stinky House Connection

Proverbs 30:10

“Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.”

My Story

The following story is not a perfect example of Proverbs 30:10, but it is close. Let me tell it to you, after which I will try to make a connection.

A little more than a decade ago I was an insurance agent for a large, well-known life and health insurance company. My primary job was selling life insurance, which sometimes required I simply knock on doors in search of new clients.

One day, as I was canvassing a neighborhood, I came to a house and immediately smelled a very strong, nauseous odor, accompanied by the loud barking of dogs inside. The odor coming from inside the house was so bad it made me worry something was terribly wrong.

I left the house, continued to knock on doors close by, but inquired of neighbors if they had recently seen the homeowner coming or going. None had, which led one neighbor to tell me he’d ask another neighbor, a policeman, to go check things out. I did not stay, but went on my way, returning to my office a few hours later.

Upon arriving at my office in Nashville, Tennessee, I was immediately called into a meeting. My sales manager was very angry and began berating me for “sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.” Come to find out, the one living in the house that stunk was alive and well and very upset that the police had paid him a visit. The resident demanded that I be reprimanded for invading his privacy and causing him trouble.

After several minutes of being yelled at, I was told to go to my desk and stay out of other people’s business.

The Rescue

I went back to my cubicle feeling completely defeated. I had only tried to be a good citizen, but now I was about to lose my job! Just then I received a phone call…it was the father of the man living in the house…the father of the man who wanted me to be fired.

“Are you the one who visited the house on _______ Street?” asked the man on the phone. “Yessir,” I answered. “And did my son call your boss and get you in trouble?” he asked. “Yes, sir, he did,” I replied.

“Son, my boy has been nothing but trouble for me, and I have threatened to throw him out,” said the father. “He stays there rent-free, but he’s nearly destroyed my house, and I’m tired of those stinking dogs!” The man on the phone then told me not to worry about my job, or my manager, or about getting into trouble. “I’ll take care of it for you…you did the right thing…don’t worry,” he said.

The old man on the phone then told me, “Young man, I am a federal judge. Give me your boss’s phone number and I promise he will not give you any more problems. That’s my house, and I overrule my son.”

Ten minutes later I was called to my sales manager’s office once again. He was very nice to me, to say the least.

The Connection

Honestly, I don’t know what that powerful federal judge told my sales manager, but it was enough to make him act like a whipped pup. And I don’t know whatever happened to the son who lived in the house that smelled horrible, but my guess is he was made to move.

Were my actions appropriate? Was it right to report that house? I don’t really know.  All I do know is that when I was accused to my “master,” somebody besides me was found “guilty.”


Lions and Bears

Proverbs 28:15

“As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”
“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.” – NLT

Tyrants

Plenty of tyrants have no regard for their subjects. One only has to review the last one hundred years of history to come up with scores of individuals who preyed on the poor, helpless, defenseless masses; each one a mad, blood-thirsty animal.

“[They are] brutish, barbarous, and blood-thirsty; [they are] rather to be put among the beasts of prey, the wildest and most savage, than to be reckoned of that noble rank of beings whose glory is reason and humanity.”[1]

Lion

Lion (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Even worse are the kind that convince their victims that the carnage being inflicted is supposedly for their own good. As self-proclaimed kings of the beasts, they claim it is their right to thin the herd, to remove the weak, so the strong can survive. But they are only hungry animals, void of compassion, fulfilling their natural desires.

Tyrant Topplers

To many it would seem like lions and bears are unstoppable. To be sure, those who value life run in fear from them, or at the very least give them what they want whenever they growl. But lions and bears are not invincible.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-35 KJV

Lest the tyrants become to smug and confident in their power, it would be wise of them to remember all it takes to topple them is nothing more than a little boy with a big God.


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1018.


Birds and Money are the Same…

Proverbs 23:4-5

“Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for [riches] certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (KJV)

“Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” (NASB)

The Birds

In the movie Rio, Blu is a blue macaw with a human friend, Linda. Blu is the last male of his kind, and he is sought out by an ornithologist from Brazil, Túlio, who intends to take the bird back with him to save the species. Linda is convinced by Túlio to travel to Brazil with him and to take Blu to meet the other bird.

While they are there, Blu and the female macaw, Jewel, are bird-napped and sold to three men who are bird smugglers. The leader of the group plans to sell the birds for an insane price and therefore become rich.

RioA very long journey takes place to try and get back to Linda, and Blu and Jewel escape and everything turns out just fine. However, the thieves didn’t plan on their way of income literally flying away from them. After all, the birds were locked up in a cage!

The Verses

It’s like this movie was made for these verses! The thieves were so concerned with their wealth, they didn’t stop to consider losing it all even when they thought they were set and everything was working to their advantage.

When you have wealth, do not set your eyes on it and continue to weary yourself to get more. Money is losing its value at an alarming rate, and even the wind can carry it away if you are not careful.

Don’t forget that your wealth may just fly way. Instead, consider these verses:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” -Matthew 6:19-21


A Good Excuse?

Proverbs 22:13 

The slothful man saith, “There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.”
The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (NIV)

The chances of seeing a lion outside my house or anywhere in the vicinity, is extremely unlikely. I live in rural England, close to the border with Wales, where the largest creatures around are usually cows, which are not known to be carnivorous. There are occasional reports in the media that large cats of African origin have been seen, although this often appears to be an excuse made by farmers when they cannot locate all of their stock. But this proverb is not about lions, it is about laziness and the excuses human beings make to justify bad attitudes.

I wonder what would have happened if Jesus had been lazy? I guess that His ministry on earth would have been seriously curtailed. Fewer miracles, fewer people brought into the Kingdom, and demoralized disciples perhaps? And that is exactly what happens when modern day disciples are lazy. If more people in each church decided to get involved in the various ministry areas, spreading the load might just ensure that the word is spread more effectively.

If you want to know what Jesus thought about lazy people turn to Matthew 25:14-30 and read the parable of the talents. The key verse is the master’s response when he found one servant had buried what he had been given in the ground. Jesus told it like this:

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:24-30 NIV)

Avoid the Thorny Way

Note: a post for Proverbs 22:4 was never published the first time around. It’s a great verse, so would anyone else like to give it a shot? – Anthony

Proverbs 22:5

Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. – NLT

Whose Fault?

People who drink and drive should expect problems down the road. People who use illegal drugs should expect problems, also. Why is it, then, when these people get caught, harassed, or arrested by law enforcement, they blame the whole thing on the police?

Recently a man’s dog was shot and killed. After seeing his owner arrested for mouthing off to machine gun-toting policemen who had surrounded the house of a criminal, the 80 pound Rottweiler decided to attack. What was the arresting officer supposed to do but defend himself? Yet, the community where this happened is calling for the policeman to be punished. Why? Because a fool who couldn’t keep his foolish mouth shut forgot to restrain his killer dog?

Taking a Different Path

The simple fact that Solomon is teaching is that if one wants to avoid the pain and suffering of thorns and snares, take a different path.

The above story reminds me of something that happened to me years ago. One night our German Shepherd was acting like a stranger was close by. There had been some suspicious activity down the street already, so I took my shotgun (we lived out in the county) and walked with my dog through the shadows around our house over toward the street. Just before we came out of the shadows, I saw six policemen with M-16 assault rifles walking in my direction. Little did I know they were looking for a criminal who had just shot at another policeman.

My heart nearly stopped. “Oh God…please don’t let them see me…for the love of all that’s holy, dog, pleeeeezzzzz don’t bark…”

The dog stayed silent – I took a different path – and we both survived.


Stepping on Snakes

Proverbs 17:24

“Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”

If It Had Been a Snake

I have heard this saying all my life: “If it had been a snake, it would have bit you.” What exactly does that mean?

One time I heard it after I had been searching for a water hose in some tall grass I should have mowed earlier. My dad and I had to look for the missing hose, so when my foot slipped on the round rubber tube, my dad said, “If it’a been a snake, it would’a bit ya’.”

The meaning is that sometimes we miss the most obvious things, even though they may be right in front of our face.

It Was a Snake

800px-Copperhead05

Credit: Wikipedia

Because we lived next to the woods and near the Tennessee River when I was younger, rattle snakes and copperheads (venomous snakes) were common. One day, when a friend of mine came to visit for the evening, he walked in front of me to the front door of our house. What he failed to see stretched out on the ground in front of him, right below the door, was a 3-foot copperhead. He didn’t see it, but I did – just in time – so I threw him (my friend) off the porch and into the yard (I guess it was the adrenalin).

The reason my friend did not see the snake was because he was looking other places.

Not a Snake

Wisdom is not a snake, but you probably knew that. Yet, why is wisdom so hard for some to recognize? Solomon previously described Wisdom as even crying out in the streets (Prov. 1:20). It’s not like we can call wisdom elusive, can we?

I am reminded of what God said through Moses,

11 “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. 12 It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 13 And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 14 But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it.[1]

Wisdom is as close as our face, if we would just pay attention. All it would really take is for one to want to see it.

The Fool Will Get Bitten

Unlike the man with understanding, the fool has his eyes looking around for anything and everything that doesn’t matter.  Instead of recognizing what is in front of his face, he looks up to the stars and across the seas.

In the end, it won’t be wisdom that bites, but another kind of Serpent.


[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Dt 30:11–14.