Category Archives: Relationships

Dam Busters

Proverbs 17:14 

“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” (NIV)

In Proverbs 17:12 Solomon used ‘bear wisdom’ to make a point. While this verse advised that it was better to confront a bear robbed of her cubs than an idiot indulging in foolishness the point is the same. There are things we can say or do that once initiated are unstoppable. Get in the way of an angry bear searching for her cubs and you probably will not live to tell the tale. If you stand in front of a dam as it breaches you will get swept away, never to be seen again.

Dam 2Dam breaches have featured in several movies. The most obvious, and perhaps the most memorable for me, is the wartime story of The Dam Busters in which bouncing bombs were dropped to breach important dams with the aim of interrupting hydroelectric power generation and flooding an important German industrial area. Superman dealt with a dam breach in a movie, and X-Men 2 concluded with a dam breaching threatening lives and taking lives. Poor workmanship lead to a dam breach in the movie Evan Almighty, with a torrent of water flooding a valley and sweeping Evan’s Ark away and through the streets of Washington all the way to the United States Capitol.

The problem in comparing the movies with real life is that either we don’t get the full story, or it never quite happened/happens that way. The German dams that were breached were soon rebuilt as the Allies failed to carry out any follow-up raids. The other three movies mentioned above all involve fantasy rather than reality.

What is reality? Anyone who has ever had a heated argument knows the reality is that there are no winners, only losers. A wise person should understand that arguments do not deliver peace. With two opposing views, one person must always compromise.

Strife is never good. Not at home, not at college, not at work, and not at church. So drop the matter – before a dispute breaks out.


Unity of Purpose

Proverbs 4:25-26

“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Parts of the Body

Recent verses discussed in Proverbial Thought have dealt with different parts of the human body and their importance in developing and maintaining a relationship with God. The ear is the focus of Proverbs 4:20 and this is followed by a brief mention of the eyes in verse 21. Two days ago in Proverbs 4:23 the subject matter was the human heart. Yesterday in Proverbs 4:24 it was the mouth.

Solomon returns to the eyes in Proverbs 4:25 but this verse has to be considered in conjunction with verse 26, as Solomon moves to the opposite end of the body and deals with the feet. Eyes and feet may not seem to have much in common, but our ability to see where we are going is essential to the performance of our feet in taking us there.

Unity

While the above verses give a clear message of fixing our eyes on what is ahead and not deviating from the path God has placed us on, these two verses and those that precede them build another picture. As this blog gets deeper and deeper into Proverbs the more I appreciate the imagery used by Solomon. Read verses 20-25 again and see if you see what I see:

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

This is a picture of unity in which each part of the body, when acting in accordance with God’s will and instruction, will achieve all that He desires. The message in Proverbs may be directed at individuals, but New Testament teachings (1 Corinthians 12) show that it is also a vital message to the church. The message is that while every part of the body is important, it is equally important that each part of the body functions together as intended by the Creator.

The Challenge

On an individual basis the challenge for those who follow God is to ensure that every part of their daily life reflects the hand of the Creator upon that life, to the extent that others are drawn irretrievably into a similar relationship with God.

The challenge for the church is the same. Every part of the daily life of every church should reflect the hunger and desire of God for all humanity to be in relationship with Him. If the church is the body of Christ then why is it so difficult for it to point the way to God? Casting Crowns put it like this:

But if we are the body

Why aren’t His arms reaching

Why aren’t His hands healing

Why aren’t His words teaching

And if we are the body

Why aren’t His feet going

Why is His love not showing them there is a way

There is a way

Casting Crowns. If We Are The Body.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 7

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. -John 18:36-37, KJV

mountains with crepuscular ray

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As we round out the third week of Advent, we shift our focus from the earthly ministry of Jesus to His Kingdom.

This world will never fully see the Kingdom of Heaven, just a taste through its subjects, we Christians who spread the Kingdom throughout this fallen world. We carry His voice to every corner of the planet.

And what is Jesus saying through us?

“You have rebelled against your Creator, and your sins are immeasurable. But I came to redeem you back to Me, to cleanse you of your sins, and one day I am returning to bring you home.”

Be of good cheer, dear Christian. You are cleaned and redeemed, and He is coming again soon!

King Jesus, continue to make us faithful citizens of Your Kingdom, and move through us to reach this world for Your glory.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 3

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. -Matthew 1:19-25, KJV

advent apple balls basin

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With Jesus’ first advent, we can not forget that His mother was yet unmarried at His conception . . . but she was betrothed to be married.

Just as Mary sought understanding about how she could be able to conceive without a man, Joseph wanted to do the right thing, and understanding was needed.

He had the understanding that Mary had cheated on him, because that was the obvious perception. Being an upright individual, he planned to discretely break up with her to prevent her having too much shame. It took God sending an angel to correct him, to see that God had indeed made this pregnancy happen to bring about the coming salvation of God’s people. He quickly changed his mind, and married Mary, even knowing he would have to wait until Jesus was born “to know her” and that it might even bring ridicule on himself, as well. (Either it appeared Mary was unfaithful, or that they had not waited until their wedding.)

Likewise, we should be slow to assume things about people based on appearances and ready to show grace and love toward them. We may go against what everyone else is saying and make ourselves look silly or “condoning of sin,” but it is what our Lord and His earthly parents did.

And claiming He is coming again looks foolish to our fallen world. (See 2 Peter 3) Following Jesus has a cost. (See Luke 14:25-33)

Lord, help us to be faithful servants who love the unlovable, as You did us, and to proclaim Your coming again!


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent – Day 6

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.
For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree. -Zechariah 3:8-10

close up of fruits hanging on tree

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close up of christmas tree

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The great news of Zechariah is that the Branch of Jesse, the descendant of David, the Servant King of Israel, would be coming to His people, and in a single day He would manage to remove all the sins of His people.

Through this Branch, all people will be able to come together in peace and love, living by the fruit of the Spirit in all facets of life and relationships.

This is not simply some feel-good story, but the source of the peace we celebrate at this time of year.

It is also the hope that we will one day see this fulfilled completely. It will be fully realized when our Lord returns to reign on Earth for eternity.

Lord of hosts and Righteous Redeemer, thank You for taking our sin upon Yourself and reuniting humanity with You. Guide us in bringing Your Kingdom to this world.


Loving Our Brother-Neighbor

Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off. -Proverbs 27:10, KJV

I have moved at least a dozen times in my life. A few of those were across big distances, some were relatively close (one was from one end of a building to the other).

I have also moved churches. In most of these instances of moving, there is pain. Friends are not as near. Some are even lost after communication is broken for one reason or another.

Some friendships have been bolstered. My wife and I had to move in with friends (such as in that move across a building), including where we are living as I write this.

It is because of instances like this I see the truth of this proverb. You see, my wife and I only have one family member in state – her grandmother. It would make very little sense for us to try to live with one of our brothers or sisters who literally live across the country.

However, this proverb sort of breaks down when we acknowledge that our neighbor who is a Christian is also our brother in Christ.

We should be able to rely on our Brothers, in this case.

In fact, my wife and I have been blessed to struggle through some difficulties, because we were forced to rely on our Brothers and Sisters, Christ’s body, the Church, to get by. We have seen God’s love and provision through those who are faithful to Him, including our current roommates.

So, if you must rely on a brother, may it be a Christian brother (or sister or both). Do not forsake these friends of our Father through Christ, for this is how we share His love, as Christ commanded. (John 14)


Searching the Unsearchable

The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Proverbs 25:3, KJV

There are three ways to understand this verse, I think:

  1. Very few throughout all of history can understand the pressures, stresses, and rewards of leading a people as ruler or even elected official. Some of us may get an inkling of some idea, but without doing it we will never have a full understanding. (Consider the presidents and prime ministers who enter office with dark hair that turns gray during one term.)
  2. God, the Creator of all of space and the Earth as well as our Eternal King, can never be fully understood. How can finite creatures understand that much power and majesty or that this God would want to save people who willfully rebel against Him? It will never happen.
  3. As I mentioned the other day, Christians are are a royal priesthood following our King of kings and High Priest. Unbelievers will try to understand all of space and our Earth, but they may never understand how we can believe in the One who made it all. They will barely if at all attempt to search out our heart for our King.

Most of us will never understand leading a nation, and none of us will ever comprehend the fullness of God.

If we are wise, we will seek out God and contemplate His truths and all He has done for us. We may not understand all He has done, but diving into those unsearchable truths will only bring us closer to and more like that God.


Church is not about you.

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house. –Proverbs 24:27, KJV

Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. –Proverbs 24:27, ESV

Are you a member of your church?

Do you even attend a church?

If you do not have a legitimate physical reason for not going, why? (Disabilities or a work schedule can be good reasons.)

Not liking the decorations or the music are not good reasons (unless, maybe, because the music is theologically horrible! That usually happens in churches teaching the same fluff.)

If you claim that you are not being fed, there is good reason to believe that – sorry to be the bearer of bad news – you are the problem.

If you find yourself saying things like “The message just doesn’t resonate with me” (unless it is for the reason mentioned earlier) or “I have not found something to plug in to,” this is not good enough.

Perhaps the issue is that you keep looking for all of your needs to be met. That is not the purpose of Church.

Church is not all about you.

Maybe you need to start meeting the needs of others, start a Bible study (and, based on your approach thus far, ask a pastor, elder, or someone who is spiritually mature to help), or start asking your pastor questions about the lessons and messages.

If you refuse to actively work the ground of your faith, you may never “feel it” in any church – at least not for long. The most surefire way to “feel it” is to build up the church, to make those around you better by pointing them to Christ.

Then you will find that you have also been building up your house for worship.

Church is not about you. It is about letting Christ use you for His Church, to work the field of souls and build up His Temple of saints.


Knowledge Grows In Community

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. -Proverbs 23:12, KJV

People wonder why our Western culture is slipping deeper into chaos and hatred.

The short answer is that we largely have given up on listening to instruction and seeking knowledge. We have promoted an individualistic approach to life, that we are each special and can make our own truth. If we just look I side ourselves, they say, we can find real truth.

It has even infiltrated the Church.

In truth, God’s Word tells us that we are all sinners in need of repentance (changing our way of living and thinking), and we need a Savior to help us … according to His standard, not our own.

If you do not have knowledge of the Savior, seek out a friend (like a pastor or another devout Christian) who can show you Christ.

If you do not follow the instructions laid out in the Bible for godly living, you need to repent.

If you are unsure of what the instructions mean – or even what they are – start by going to church. We learn to listen to others without injecting our own truth and to interact with others meaningfully.

In fact, go to church. Knowledge grows in community. And God is all about community.


Ransomed and Redeemed

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. -Proverbs 21:18 KJV

I see two ways the wicked can be a ransom for the righteous and the transgressor for the upright.

First, the fulfillment of “you reap what you sow.”

Think of Haman from the book of Esther, who hoped to hang Mordecai, but was instead hung on the very gallows he had built.

Or the men who tried to trap Daniel and were themselves thrown into his pit of lions to be devoured.

In other words, if you plan evil against someone, you may very well find yourself suffering that fate.

Secondly, the ransom is not the payment but the prize.

Think of the kidnapped child. The “ransomed child” is paid for and redeemed.

(You probably see where this is going …)

Jesus Christ is the only truly righteous and upright One, and He sacrificed Himself for our ransom. Praise be to God that we wicked transgressors are the ransomed of Christ.

Likewise, we should go out and be willing to sacrifice everything to bring others to the knowledge of our Great Redeemer.