Category Archives: Instruction

Have a plan

moses-2628535_1920Moses, what a guy.  Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards.  (And I think I have tough days!)  At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that.  God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!

One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land. 

He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night.  Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me.  When He moves left, they move left.  When He stops, they stop, and up go all the tents.  Kind of like a cosmic GPS.  What could be easier?

Then I read this short conversation sandwiched in the account of the Israelites getting ready to leave.  It’s between Moses and his brother-in-law, Hobab, (who is not an Israelite).  Moses is inviting him to join them on their journey, and that they will share all the blessings that God will give them. 

“But Hobab replied, ‘No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.’  ‘Please don’t leave us,’ Moses pleaded. ‘You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide.’”

Hold on.  I thought God was their guide…?  Has the great leader of the Old Testament who walked his people through the sea on dry land and spoken to God Almighty in the burning bush suddenly gotten cold feet?

As much as I love the “humanness” of our biblical heroes, I don’t think that is the case.  We’re talking about over a million human beings here, so “camping out” isn’t just a matter of taking over, say, an entire State Park.  It’s more like taking over Chicago.  God was going to guide Moses to a general area; a good leader was needing to prepare for at least some of the particulars.

Now, I’ll admit that one of my failsafe, fall back phrases is “God’s got a plan”.  Okay, true enough.  But many times, the very real question of the moment is,… do I?

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In other words, God’s guidance does not preclude my personal responsibility.  Reasoning brain and redeemed spirit work hand-in-hand.  It may seem like push and shove sometimes, but God can still get His end result accomplished.

ThreadBecause sometimes He may just give us the pattern and let us pick out the color of thread.

Numbers 10:30; Proverbs 16:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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I Told You So

A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. -Proverbs 13:1, KJV

My dad recently told me how proud of me he is. Of course, I took his advice on a few things, so there is that.

I guess it helps show I can be wise and just a wiseacre!

There have been times I have not listened to him. He and my mom would tell me what would happen if I followed through with my plans.

Then I would hear it: “I told you so.” I usually felt pretty silly, too, but my parents did help me to know that they took no pleasure in my pain nor being proven right.

The Big Rebuke

The biggest rebuke in history came when Jesus came to live and die for our sins.

He told us that the Father’s standards are not ours, and we need help. He told us He would send a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would convict us of our son and lead back to Him. He told us He will return to finally judge us.

If you reject the Spirit’s prodding and Jesus’ warnings, one day you will hear Him say very sadly, “I told you so.”

And there will be no more time to change your mind.


The Avengers ride again!

admission-2974645_1920I had a hot date last night. 

Actually, it was a little chilly in the restaurant, so Bob (gentleman that he is) had me put on his jacket.  After dinner, we went to our town’s local Century 6 for a quick game of foosball in their arcade room, then entered with several others into the Marvel Universe to watch yet the next installment of the Avengers. 

Yeah, we’re old.  No apologies.

And no spoilers here, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, not that I’m recommending it, (because I’m not).  I’m sure there are plenty of critiques flying around anyway so folks can do their own research if so inclined.  As with any of these flicks, there are elements both worthy and otherwise.  The take-away for me might be a little different, however—it seems like even Hollywood admits (whether or not they realize it) that when you set yourself up as God, you end up destroying life instead of giving it.

Thanos is a really bad guy, the quintessential, hyper-super-villain.  He does more than tie the damsel to the railroad tracks; he does it to the whole universe.  It’s a superb perversion of the biblical concept of life from death, since this self-proclaimed protector thinks there are too many beings for the universe to support, so his plan is to kill off about half of us, but randomly, so that it’s “fair”.  This is his divine mission, bringing more life to those who remain. (Naturally, he’s not one of the random.) 

Thankfully, if you listen closely amid all the explosions in space, there is a short conversation between this erstwhile savior and his adopted yet defected “daughter” when she says that she had been happier with her own parents, despite their poverty.  Before Thanos off’ed them along with half of her planet, that is.  His concept of life from death really just ends in death—of the soul and heart, as well as the body.

And God is about life.  Always. 

In another screenplay, the concepts of Life and Death are also superbly contrasted in chapter nine of Proverbs.  In fact, they are seen as two women, both vying for our undivided attention, both calling from their respective domiciles, both with enticing offers:

Wisdom has built her house…
She has prepared a great banquet,
    mixed the wines, and set the table…
“Come, eat my food,
    and drink the wine I have mixed.

And her counterpart, Folly, has done the same:

The woman named Folly is brash.
    She is ignorant and doesn’t know it.
She sits in her doorway
    on the heights overlooking the city…

 “Come in with me,” she urges the simple.

door-3264790_1920This is a drama being played out like no other, 24/7. There is no stopping up my ears, either; will I choose Door #1, or Door #2…??  

Thanos is waiting behind one of them, so I’d better choose wisely.

Proverbs 9:1-2,5,13-14,16 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


How Do YOU Respond To Correction?

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:8‭-‬9, KJV

Schooling

I taught 7th Grade mathematics last year. There were a handful of students who, whenever corrected or disciplined, would lash out. One in particular said he hated me. Who was I to tell him how to live his life?

Most of the students in the class reacted negatively to correction, to be honest, but a few (and eventually more) saw the benefits of following through with the correction. Somehow, I became the favorite teacher of many students.

The Church

Now look at the yourself and even others in the Church. When presented with biblical truth about sin, what is the response?

If your reaction is to lash out, deny, or get angry, ask yourself, Why? If it is not true, why get upset?

Fighting a correction can cost more than listening, such as hurt/broken relationships and/or wasted time.

The wise person wants to change, for the goal is to be Christ-like, perfect as God is perfect. You may even find you love that person more for helping you grow closer to Christ.

That is not possible if we continue in sin.

Refusing to even acknowledge the need for correction could imply you are heading the opposite direction, and you come to hate those who offered the correction.


Luke, I am your…um, sister.

My husband, Bob, is a (soon-to-be emeritus) biology professor at our small local college.  He has always been so good about his availability to his students, not only with posted office hours, but also by allowing students to call our home with questions prior to the next day’s test. 

His classes are difficult; it is, after all, college.  In the study of biology, there are things so tiny, one needs to learn to use a microscope effectively, as well as learn exactly what you’re looking for, distinguishing that from all the other crud swimming around on the glass slide.

At the same time, The Prof likes to have some fun in class, and his sense of humor can’t stay in the background for long.  One year on the day of the final exam, he dressed up like Darth Vadar and came strolling down the hallway to a group of students waiting outside the classroom door.

You couldn’t miss him if you tried…

Likewise, I’m impressed with the availability and exposure of wisdom expressed in this eighth chapter of Proverbs.  I really think it’s more than mere poetic personification. 

“Listen as Wisdom calls out!
    Hear as understanding raises her voice!”

It goes on to innumerate all the v-e-r-y public access points where wisdom seeks us out: on the hill, along the highway, at the crossroads, by the town’s entrance…

“I call to you, to all of you!
    I raise my voice to all people…

The operative word is “all”.  There is no discrimination here.  Which is really quite interesting, considering this was written by a man in an extremely male-dominated society, and a Jewish man where any non-Jew was considered less than necessary.

“I love all who love me.
    Those who search will surely find me…

The end of the chapter shows a different aspect, however.  Instead of wisdom searching for me, I’m the one who is waiting and watching for wisdom—

Joyful are those who listen to me,
    watching for me daily at my gates,
    waiting for me outside my home!

All of this brings to mind a cooperative effort between the teacher (Wisdom) and the student (me).  Wisdom makes herself available; sheesh, she even gives me her home phone number!  (Prayer.)  At the same time, I have some personal responsibility.  This is, after all, “college”, and a good student is expected to grow up.

I can be confident, however, that when I put my eye to microscope, (because, let’s face it, some things I need to see in life take more than a little magnification to figure out), Wisdom will be leaning over my shoulder for correct identification, bringing things into proper focus. 

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”

batman-1293525_1920Easy to see or situations more challenging, either way, Wisdom is available; it’s a promise from a good Teacher.  (With or without the cape.)

Proverbs 8:1,4,7,29,30;34; James 1:5 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


“My son…”

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments…” – Proverbs 3:1

In order to fully appreciate the first two words of Proverbs 3:1, you need to either be a loving parent or the child of one. I don’t know how else to put it.

But if you are not a parent, or if you have never experienced the love of a caring father, let me see if I can explain the emotion I sense in these opening two words.

I hear begging. I hear pleading. I hear crying.

I can feel the tenseness in the temples. I can feel the tightness in the chest. I can feel the weight on the shoulders that push one down to the floor.

I can feel the pressure put on knees as prayer is being offered up. I can feel the grip on the pen as it’s squeezed mid-sentence, the fingertips turning white as one searches for the right word to pen next.

My son…” It’s an address used 27 times in Proverbs; three times in this very chapter. They are the words of a parent who has been down the road of life, found the potholes, suffered the pain, and longs for nothing less than his children to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Can you put yourself in that position? Imagine knowing the worst that life has to offer: all of the people out there who want nothing more than to destroy your kids, the most precious people in your life, those gifts from God…and you’ve now got one shot to give them the best advice you know.

“My son!” “My daughter!” Do you have children? Do you ever wish you could know just for once that they were really, truly listening to what you are saying? You pray that they will enjoy long life and peace (v. 2), but the odds are they will forget what you tell them, so you say “tie this around your neck” (v. 3).

And yet, we have the Word of God…

…a letter from our Father…

How often we must break His heart!


The Preciousness of Wisdom

Hello, Dear Reader. I am a rarity to this blog, but I have come to share with you some truths of Wisdom which I have gleaned.

Last Summer, I found myself in a particularly tough place in regards to dating relationships. The person I was with for a period of three months was someone of immoral character and rebellion. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, and I, being the naïve woman looking for a nice and caring fellow, fell into the trap of enticement.

During the last couple of weeks of my relationship, I was interested in reading Scripture, but it was rooted in how I wanted to prove to my parents that this person I spent time with was worth the time I had invested. I began to read through Proverbs for a short time, but once my relationship ended I began to have a bitterness fester within my heart due to some underlying problems with self-image and self-value.

I have always hated the possibility that one day I would live up to my middle name which means “bitterness,” yet that is exactly what I had become: a bitter young woman, full of rebellion against my upbringing. I spent a majority of my time during the last half of last year and the first part of this year in hate and corruption of the mind and heart, and the worst part was that I knew exactly how to remedy that pain I put myself through.

In a paper I wrote at the beginning of this semester, I stated:

“I know that God is real and loving and forgiving; I know with all certainty that He wants me to come to Him. Even so, I do not want the help that He has to offer my wounded and rotting spirit. I do not want to muster up the courage it takes to allow Him to scrape the putrid rot from my soul, just as a doctor must scrape and clean a burn victim. I do not want the comfort that He sends me through the gracious acts of others as they hold me and speak life into my heart. I do not want what I need. I want my own efforts to win over. Never have I understood so clearly how a dying man fights for his last breath – until now. I know that God is real, but I would rather trust my fingernails for security.” – The Strength of My Own Fingernails

Now, as I am recovering from this season of life, I can look at Scripture again with a refreshed mind and soul. Here is what I have learned from Proverbs 2:

Wisdom is:

  • A protector via discernment (v. 3)
  • A saving grace from wicked people (v. 12-19)
  • Something which only comes from the Lord (v. 6)
  • Something which must be sought out (v. 1-5)
  • Something which has value (v. 4)

Sterling Silver

In verse 4, Solomon refers to the value of Wisdom as being like that of the value of silver. This precious metal has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, including a piece which is now on my left ring finger. I wear a sterling silver band for several reasons, one of which to serve as a reminder that God’s Wisdom is something to be cherished. If only I had listened to the teachings of this Word and my parent’s concerns before taking my course of actions last year! I would have saved myself so much heartache and regret!

Wisdom is worth seeking out; it is a treasure to obtain. The catch is this: you must be willing to sacrifice your personal agenda in order to journey to find this treasure. It was only after I sacrificed my lifestyle and my hurt to Christ that I was able to access the Lord’s Wisdom again. If you want this treasure, it must be the only thing you seek.