Category Archives: counsel

The Father In the Window

Proverbs 7:6-9 

“[6] For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, [7] And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, [8] Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, [9] In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”

The Science of Sin    

In the New Testament epistle of James, chapter 1, verses 14 & 15, the author outlines the process of someone falling into sin.  In that passage James the Just tells how it begins with an “evil desire” by which the individual is “dragged away and enticed”.  Once that desire is conceived, says James, “it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

In a similar way, the Father (7:1) assumes the viewpoint of an intelligent observer of sin in today’s verses.  The Father watches from his window, not with voyeuristic delight, but as one who wants to see what lessons can be deduced from the sad spectacle in front of him.  Sin can be observed, studied, and understood.  There are definable, universal patterns at work in the fallen human nature leading to sin, and the wise son can and should learn from the costly mistakes of others.  If you skim on through the rest of the chapter, you see that ultimately the foolish youth being observed is “dragged away and enticed” by the adulteress (v. 21).  How did this tragic moral failure occur?  Proverbs 7:6-9 provides a case study in a young man taking three downward steps into the sin of adultery.

Step 1:  “I Know What’s Best for Me.”

            The young man is described as a “simple one” and “void of understanding”.  Here is a youth who feels no need for the blessings of moral instruction.   Were you to ask him if he thinks of himself as “void of understanding,” he would flatly deny it.  “No,” he would say, “I know how life works; I know what’s best for me; and I know how to achieve my goals.”  Were you to offer him counsel, he would scoff at the seriousness of your concerns.

Step 2:  “After All, I Can Come Close to the Sin Without Sinning.” 

Notice how the young man just happens to be walking in the neighborhood of the adulteress.  As he is “passing through the street near her corner” (v. 8).  He tells himself that he’s not walking anywhere in particular; no, he’s just out for an evening stroll.  Oh, how deceptive is the human heart!  Readers, how many times have we wandered into sin’s neighborhood, with one side of our mind rationalizing that we are fully under control and will not fall this time; all the while knowing deep inside exactly where we’re headed, and what we intend to do when we get there.

Step 3:  “I Can Manage This Sin and its Consequences.” 

            By the second half of verse 8, the foolish youth is no longer kidding himself.  Tonight, he’s going to the adulteress’s house.  He’s crossed the line of no return.  Does he recognize sin for what it is?  Of course he does.  He’s bears the Creator’s image, and his conscience screams for him to turn around.  But now, he is no longer merely entertaining the notion of sin; rather, he’s determined that he’s going into the situation full steam ahead, because, he believes, he can manage the sin and its consequences.  The lady’s husband?  He’s out of town (v. 19).  Witnesses to the immorality?  There’s no one watching, thinks the youth.

Ah, but here he’s wrong.  There is one watching – the Father in the window!

The Watcher in the Window

Is there a sense in which the narrator of the passage (the Father in the window) is a type of Jesus Christ?  If we take the narrator to be Solomon (and we have every reason to do so), and Solomon is a son of David, could Solomon here in a particular way be pointing us to David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ?

I tend to think so.  King Jesus allows us to make our own choices.  It’s difficult for us to get our puny minds around, but the Bible teaches both that Jesus is our Sovereign King with all authority at his disposal (Matthew 28:18), and yet we make our choices and we act freely, without coercion from God.  Dear reader, perhaps you are an adulterer or adulteress; then again, perhaps your sin of choice is of a different variety—gossip, slander, hatred, greed, and the like.  Whatever your sin is, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on.  He doesn’t coerce you into sin (James 1:13); no, you have chosen to walk those downward steps all on your own.  But neither does he typically leap in and interfere with the situation.  For many years Proverbs 7 troubled me:  Why doesn’t the observer in the window stop the foolish youth from rushing to destruction?  It has only been as I’ve come to recognize how many thousands of times Christ has watched me taking those downward steps – 1, 2, 3 – all the while gazing at me with love and sadness, that I’ve begun to understand.

The Good News

The good news is that the Watcher in the Window DID come down, not heroically to stop a foolish youth from his own stupidity, but to bear the guilt and shame of that youth for his sin and stupidity.  On Calvary’s Cross, Jesus died for all of our sin, guilt, and shame.  Yes, even for that sin that has just come to your mind, the one that you think nobody knows about, the one that makes you blush or break out in a cold sweat.  He did not come down to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved (John 3:17).  When you place faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation and turning away from sin, the most curious thing then begins to happen.  You begin to change from the inside out.  You find that you are still free to do what you want, but your “wants” begin to change.  You no longer “want” to sneak down the dark alley and knock on sin’s door.  You no longer “want” to eat another bite of the forbidden fruit.  What you want, is to be in fellowship with Jesus, the one who came down from heaven, and lived and died for you.

In tomorrow’s posting, we return to the sad saga of the foolish young man and the adulteress.  Hope to see you then!

Father God, forgive this writer the many times he has walked those familiar steps outlined above.  Be merciful and gracious to us, Father, for the sake of your dear Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Transform us deep within, that we might truly hate sin and love righteousness.  And may we never forget that it is not our righteousness, but the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, by which we have this relationship with you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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It’s a Heart Issue

Proverbs 4:23 

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

The Heart

The heart is more that just our affections, as some people think. The heart encompasses mind, emotions and will. The heart is often spoken of in God’s Word as our innermost being. You can say that our heart determines who we are.

Oswald Chambers said this about the heart…

The Bible term “heart” is best understood if we simply say “me,” it is the central citadel of a man’s personality. The heart is the altar of which the physical body is the outer court, and whatever is offered on the altar of the heart will tell ultimately through the extremities of the body.

The Bible informs us that the heart is a critical center of life which touches and impacts all we are and all we do. The NIV says it this way – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

When it comes down to it, our heart determines who we are and what we do. That is why, over and over in scripture, God talks about how we need to protect our hearts. The Bible warns us to avoid:

  • A Double Heart – Psalm 12:2
  • A Hard Heart – Proverbs 28:14
  • A Proud Heart – Proverbs 21:4
  • An Unbelieving Heart – Hebrews 3:12
  • A Cold Heart – Matthew 24:12
  • An Unclean Heart – Psalm 51:10

We all know that when we go to the doctor that he is going to listen to our heart. Just by listening, the doctor is able to tell if there is something wrong or not.

Each and every day, we need to listen to our spiritual heart! We need to listen to see if what we are, and what we are doing is matching up with God and what he wants for our lives. Above all else, we must keep our heart focused on God!

One little sin, what harm can it do?
Give it free reign and soon there are two.
Then sinful deeds and habits ensue—
Guard well your thoughts, lest they control you. —DJD

My prayer is that each day we would pray Psalm 139:23 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart…” 


Father Knows Best

Proverbs 4:1-2

“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”

Father Knows Best?

Mark Twain may have disagreed with Proverbs 4:1-2. He is widely quoted as having made the following statement:

‘When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.’

Few children willingly listen to a parent. I certainly didn’t, but my generation did not have any choice. Solomon obviously did take note of his father’s instruction and experience. Unlike Solomon, King David did not grow up in the opulent surroundings of a palace. He spent his early years in the fields and on the hills, where the instruction of his own father would have been supplemented by the hands-on experience he describes to Saul prior to his encounter with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-51).

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing that David could have taught Solomon from all his experience was to trust God. Trust/faith in God enabled David to fight bears and lions, to defeat Goliath, to manage Saul and his moods, to survive being on the run from the vengeful Saul, and to become a king who generally exhibited wisdom.

Before he died David again demonstrated great wisdom through the instructions he gave to Solomon from his deathbed (1 Kings 2:1-9). It is interesting that David says to Solomon; “Thou art a wise man.”

Wisdom in Action

The fact that Solomon had learned from David is evident in the words of 1 Kings 3:3: ‘And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father.’ It may have been the wisdom passed on by David that led Solomon to answer in the way that he did when God appeared to him in a dream and asked; “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5 NLT)

Solomon answers God by acknowledging his inadequacy for the task ahead. Instead of putting in an order for fame and wealth, Solomon asks for an understanding heart, i.e. wisdom. It is evident that Solomon had listened intelligently to his father, and that he had already sought to be a man of knowledge and understanding. What an example! I wonder how I would have answered such a question from God when I was Solomon’s age?


No Shortcuts

Proverbs 3:7-8

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

An advertisement on the side of my web browser promises that if I “click here” I can learn a “weird old trick” to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Oz hosts a show advocating the addition of blueberries, seaweed and other “super foods” to fight off cancer and heart disease. A billboard overlooking I-24 in my city displays a lean and tightly-muscled torso, suggesting that a few quick visits to the fitness center are all it takes to achieve such enviable results.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

The achievement of health: Everybody’s looking for a shortcut! And yet, we know that it is the slow, plodding discipline of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the elimination of detrimental bad habits (smoking comes to mind) which yield the healthiest bodies over the long haul.

The achievement of wise living is no different! There are no shortcuts (“Be not wise in your own eyes”). Rather, wise living is the fruit of good old basic faith (“fear the LORD”) and repentance (“turn away from evil”). This, says the wise father to the son (3:1) is the only sure path to spiritual health (3:8).

NEED HEALING?

By the way, these verses suggest that by following the way of wisdom, it is in fact possible to extricate yourself from a situation of moral and spiritual “disease”, and gain spiritual health in Christ. Those who are spiritually sick can find healing and refreshment, or as some translations put it, nourishment. One thinks of Subway’s marketing front man “Jarrod”, who lost a couple of hundred pounds simply by “eating fresh”. Praise the Lord, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).


Lean Not On Your Inner Counselor

The following is a sermon I just recorded for radio. It will be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019 at 2:45 pm (Eastern).

I would appreciate your prayers, both for those who might listen and for myself.

God knows what we all go through, and just like the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, He is walking with us, whether we recognize Him, or not.

If you have a moment, listen to this short sermon covering Proverbs 3 and Psalm 13. If it is a blessing to you, share it with someone else who might be going through a difficult and trying time.

https://anthonycbaker.sermon.net/main/main/21329008

 


Motivational or Motivated?

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. -Proverbs 28:23, KJV

This verse reminds me of a couple different people today.

One is many pastors today who preach a message of happiness, comfort, and/or wealth. They are quick to speak well of others, yet they hesitate to speak of sin.

The second are those who do a better job of calling out wrong behavior, such as Jordan Peterson and Simon Sinek.

I bring them up because they are popular. Why are they popular? Because of what I just said: they are not afraid to tell people that something is wrong and needs to change.

Regardless of whether you agree with them, these men (and others like them) show that people are hungry for direction.

Simon Sinek in particular has very few detractors, and all he basically says is stop being lazy, stop making excuses, and interact with people in this world … in person, not online!

I have met many people who used to belong to one of those churches in which they were taught that God wants us happy. They left when the only response they got to difficulties in life was that they lacked faith or hadn’t go en enough money to the church.

It was people like Peterson and Sinek that turned their lives around.

We, as Christians, should not be afraid to lovingly call out sin while drawing others to faith in Christ. If we have the truth, we should be bold in proclaiming it, not worried that we might offend someone.

This is the truth that will change their lives, both now and for eternity.

Are we being more like motivational speakers, or are we motivated by the power of Christ to change our world?


Thank you, Duolingo

international-2684767_1920I’m learning Swedish.  Slowly.  I have a working vocabulary of, I dunno, 70 words?  Our second granddaughter is 50% Swedish (our son-in-law is 100%), and they live about an hour outside of Stockholm. 

Now, when my son-in-law heard of my little project, he informed me that only 10 million people on the globe speak his language, as compared with the 1.5 billion that speak some form of English, his point being that it wasn’t necessarily practical to learn his native tongue.

Since when does a grandmother need to be practical?? Continue reading