phoenix galaxy cluster

The Phoenix Galaxy Cluster

The thirtieth chapter is quite different from the previous ones.  First, the author of these proverbs is Agur, son of Jakeh.  Who’s that, you ask?  Well, scholars don’t really know, other than to say that they do know he wasn’t an Israelite.  Besides that, there are some interesting sayings within this chapter.  If you have time, check it out, and see for yourself.

Here’s the proverb that intrigued me.

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.

If there’s one thing I am learning as I grow older, it’s the realization that I don’t know as much as I would like others to believe.  What has particularly intrigued me the vastness of the cosmos.  One of my side interests is astronomy.  I love learning about what astronomers and astrophysicists are discovering day in and day out.  The knowledge that is being gained is phenomenal!  However, even the vast majority of scientists will acknowledge that there is so much more that they don’t know, then what they do know.  I love that humility when I encounter it.  I am reminded again and again of just how little I really do know.  If scientists can make the admission that with what they’re able to see, there is so much they don’t know, then just how much of God, who I can’t see, do I really comprehend?  Like, really!!

I find it odd that us pastors/preachers talk like we know more about God than others. Sometimes I catch myself when I am speaking in that ‘all-knowing’ tone.  If I am honest with myself and with others, then all I can really tell you is what I discern from Scripture and how that speaks to us in the time we live in.  Outside of that, I really don’t know the mind of God.  His mind is infinite…mine is finite.  Sometimes I think it is better if I remain quiet.

And that is the whole point of this proverb.  Every word of God is truth.  Or perhaps another way to put it is, all truth is God’s…and belongs to God.  Most of the time I try to be aware of how I come across when I speak.  I never want to convey that I have the inside scoop…because I know that I don’t!

While there are many things that I don’t know about God, the one thing I do know is that it is always better to be with God, than it is to just talk about him.  As Agur writes, he is a shield from all that comes at us from life.  While we may not know and understand everything about him, the one thing God has made sure we do know is his passionate love for humanity.  At the end of the day, is that not enough?  If so, then let’s speak of that!

God Is Safe

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.  Proverbs 29: 25

safegirl

Do you fear people?  I think many of us do to one degree or another.  One way to tell is to ask yourself, “If I was having problems with my boss, would I feel comfortable going to her and airing my grievances?”  Or how about this one: your neighbour’s cat continually comes onto your property and does their business on your lawn.  Would you be comfortable in going over and talking to them about the issue?  I’m not saying that either of these situations would be easy, but would you be willing to do it if it’s the right thing to do?  You see, it’s these type of situations where fear can easily slip in and paralyze us.

It’s much like jumping off cliffs into a lake with your buddies or kids.  If you stand at the edge and ‘think’ about it, it actually becomes easier to not do it, than to jump.  And in the end, you walk away.  It’s the same when you need to confront someone, if you overthink it, it becomes easier not to talk to them and just walk away.

Solomon says that fearing people (regardless of the reason) is a dangerous trap.  I love that the word ‘trap’ is used.  One of the definitions given for ‘trap’ states: “…a literal or figurative contrivance for deceiving or catching an animal or person.”  Have you ever considered a trap as a tool used to deceive?  Isn’t that a lot like fear?  Fear makes you believe that it’s better to back away, to stop dead in your tracks, to doubt yourself.

When it comes to people, fear puffs the person up in your head making them look larger and more menacing than they really are…and so we back away.  It’s when we back away that fear bites.  Once we back away, we diminish and dishonour ourselves, and end up not giving the other person the opportunity to grow and mature.

Sure, by retreating I have avoided the difficult situation, but at what cost to myself?  And that’s where the danger lies.  In backing away, I am training my brain to respond to difficult conversations by avoiding them all together.  It’s that practice that is detrimental to my spiritual, mental and emotional growth.

Solomon says that there’s a way better way to deal with all of this.  Rather than putting my energy into fearing people, it is much safer and healthier if I simply trust God.  Trust means seeing myself as God sees me, and seeing you as God sees you.  When I look at myself, and when I look at you, I see the image of God.  It’s in that place where love overtakes all fear.  It’s in that place where honesty and honour rule.  God can be trusted because God is safe.

THE SECRET TO EARNING AN EXTRA $10,000!

smilingman

Proverbs 28

19 A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.

20 The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.

21 Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.

22 Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.

So if you were intrigued, even just a little bit, by the title of this post and the pic, then what the proverbs say concerning the allure of wealth is true.  Wealth, money, riches, etcetera, all need to come with a warning on them stating something like, “WARNING: Be careful what you long for!”

Let’s admit it, I think there is something in all of us that wouldn’t mind if a few zeroes were added to the balance of our bank account or investments (unless of course your statements are at zero).  Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery?  What about when you bought that lottery ticket?  How much time did you spend thinking of all the things you could do with all the free time that would be available to you?

Have you ever been drawn to the multi-level marketing companies?  “You too can have it all!!  But you must act quickly so that you don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”  No?  I have.  When I was seventeen, my older brother became a ‘distributor’ for cleaning products and was telling me how easy it was to sell, and how much I could earn by selling one bottle.  I was sold.  And so I too became a ‘distributor’ and went and found my first customer – our church custodian.  The product said that it could take coffee stains out of cloth covered chairs.  Our church had both the chairs and the coffee stains.  I mixed the proper strength up, sprayed it on the chair, rubbed it in, waited, and then wiped it off. Voila!  The stain was still there!  Grrrr.  Clearly I didn’t make a sale.  I went back to my bro and asked him what was up.  He explained that I just tell the customer that I will go back to the ‘lab’ (read – kitchen) and instructed me to double up on the strength, but just don’t say anything to them.  Right!  So much for getting rich!

There is a particular path we are to walk in this life, and if we choose to walk it, then we will find success in whatever we put our hands to.  That path is called, ‘hard work’, and no, it’s not super-attractive, but it will work for you just about every time.  The temptation is when someone or some thing comes along and suggests that there is a shortcut that you can take.  But remember, when you say ‘yes’ to a shortcut, you are also saying ‘no’ to wisdom and common sense.  When you veer off the well-worn path of wisdom, you are entering into the dense forest of disappointments, pitfalls, and poverty.  Anything that poses as the secret to everything you’ve always wanted – just toss.  You don’t need it and you definitely don’t want it.  Take the path of wisdom, because on that path you will not only gain wisdom, you will also mature as a human being and be known as a person of godly character.  In the end, you will be known as a rich and wealthy person, in more ways than one!

Stay on the path and watch your life grow!

 

wildhorse2

20 Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied. Proverbs 27

I’m back in the saddle!  We had a great Good Friday and Easter, both at our awesome faith community at the thevineyardchurch.ca and with my family.  Enjoyed the time off and did some yard work and puttering around the house.  Here’s an interesting tidbit for you.  On Easter Sunday I pondered the resurrection and I came to the conclusion that Jesus is the ‘Beautiful’ that the world longs for.  I say that because I tend to find that most people don’t have a problem with Jesus. It’s the ‘church’ that they have issues with, but again…I’m rambling.  Onto the sayings of the wise!

The 27th chapter of Proverbs has a potpourri of wisdom sayings that should be allowed to marinate in our minds and hearts.  However, this one stood out for me for whatever reason, and here’s the point that hit home…

Thank God (literally) that desire is never satisfied, otherwise, we’d never long for more and more and more.  That’s what makes desire…well, desire!  I wouldn’t want desire to be satisfied forever.   Sure, there are times when we attain that satisfaction, and the satisfaction is good…temporarily…but then we want more.  And that’s the beauty of desire.  That’s also it’s downfall.

Because desire is never satisfied, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that if desire hits, we then need to satisfy it or ‘quench’ it.  But the truth is, it always wants more.  We have a better understanding of that today with the advances of science and the study of the brain.

Which is all the more reason why we must practice the art of self-discipline.  Desire must be disciplined. It needs to be restrained to be healthy.  Desire must be mastered, otherwise, it will master us, and when that happens, there is the potential that all hell will break loose.

So, don’t try to pray away your desires because you need them.  Rather, bring a good dose of discipline to the situation and rein in those desires.  You’ll be a much better person for it!

Soul Slayers

WoodyandgossipProverbs 26

20 Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

22 Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.

If you’re one who follows the news, then you are probably aware of the tension that is rising with the conflicts between various countries.  At times, it almost seems that if one more thing was to happen, a leader would snap and all out war would break out.  The world is concerned, and rightly so, who wouldn’t be?  However, while the vast majority of the world’s population feels helpless at being able to do anything to avert such a crisis, there are personal wars that rage across our world in homes, offices, factories, community groups and even in churches.  The war I’m talking about is gossip.

Gossip is the act of spreading unverified information about someone to others. It’s generally idle talk about the private affairs of someone else who is not present to defend themselves.

I’m sure most of us have participated in it, listened in, and even been the subject of it at one time or another.  On top of all that, we have magazines that are devoted to ‘celebrity gossip’, ‘entertainment’ shows on TV and on the internet who traffic in it.  We are a gossipy culture.

If you’ve been reading along through the book of Proverbs, then you will have picked up that gossip cuts three ways.

First, gossip is a tantalizing tidbit that when it tickles our ears, there is a natural tendency to take it right into our very souls.  There is just something so attractive about hearing third hand news about YOU!  Somehow, when I hear this juicy tidbit about you, in a way, you have been diminished in my eyes, and the fact that I have this ‘dirt’ on you, makes me feel superior.  When you think about it long and hard, gossip is actually quite insidious.

Now for the one who is passing on this little tidbit, understand that you have now taken part in bringing judgment on someone without any evidence.  If our courts treated people in that manner, we would vote to toss the whole system out.  Because who would want to live in a society where you can be judged without the necessary evidence?

And finally, for the one being gossiped about, it is tantamount to being betrayed and ostracized from the very people you thought you could trust.  That’s the time when divisiveness enters, and loyalty vanishes.  In essence, you have been marginalized…the very thing that God hates.

The wise person recognizes gossip for what it is, and rather than following the crowd and getting caught up in the tantalizing chatter, they douse the ‘fire’ out.  How?  They refuse to participate, and when appropriate, they speak up.  Douse that fire!

Note: I will not be blogging over the Easter holiday, but will resume on Monday.  As you take some time to ponder the suffering, humiliation and death of Jesus, may it lead you to the empty tomb and the glorious joy that death and the grave have been defeated!

He is risen…He is risen, indeed\

 

winnie-the-poohFrom Proverbs Twenty-five

16 Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!

17 Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.

27 It’s not good to eat too much honey, and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself.

Ya have to like Pooh Bear…honey pot and all.  One thing about Pooh, he does make honey look wonderfully yummy.  While Solomon may think Pooh Bear is cute, floating in his honey pot, when it comes down to the reality of life, too much of a good thing is really not a good thing!  And that’s the point that Solomon is trying to make.  I think we can all recall a time when we ate too much of a good thing.  Rather than having the effect we were chasing after, it did quite the opposite, didn’t it?  If you gorged yourself, then you probably ended up hugging the toilet bowl.  Remember the adage…everything in moderation.  EVERYTHING!

Solomon uses two examples throughout this chapter of too much of a good thing.

  1. Wearing a path from your house to your neighbour’s house (or vice versa), does not inspire close relationships. Think of it this way: as you ‘wear’ a path to your neighbour, so you ‘wear’ out your friendship. We know what it feels like when someone begins to wear out their welcome – tiresome!
  2. The proverb in verse 27 goes without saying. Needing to be noticed, applauded, and recognized for this, that and the next thing, ranks right up there with the person who tells you how humble they are. The minute they thought of telling you that they were humble they immediately disqualified themselves. So it is with the person who needs to be recognized and applauded.

So the next time you’re hankering to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours, remember that ‘less is more’.  Too much and you may end up finding yourself embracing the proverbial toilet!

Even Pooh Bear would agree with that nugget of wisdom!

Mind My Own Business? Nope!

GoodSamaritan

Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.   Proverbs 24: 11-12

I know, this proverb is a bit of a heavy, isn’t it?  Well, not all of it.  There are actually two nuggets of wisdom here that a wise person practices.

The first is that a wise person will put themselves in harms way if they see an innocent person being treated in an unjust manner.  But the question underneath that is “Why would a wise person become involved in matters of injustice?”  It’s a good question.  We are told to mind your own business, don’t talk to strangers, be careful who you associate with, and that it’s better not to trust people you don’t know.  In other words, people are to be feared, and so we have become adept at looking the other way, minding our own business and side-stepping the issue (sometimes literally).  But the wise person knows differently.

The wise person knows that every person has a story, every person comes from a family, and every person has the same needs as we do.  The wise person knows that they simply need to ask themselves, “How would I want someone to treat me if I was in that position?”  The wise person is more interested in others than they are with themselves.  They remember that God’s love extends to everybody, not just a select few.  They know that it could just as well be them that’s in that situation needing help.

Here’s a thought that crossed my mind, which I am currently pondering.  I wonder if just as every human being has the image of God imprinted on them, if also imprinted on every human being is a little piece of me.  I wonder if when I ignore a person in need, if in fact I am ignoring myself, and in turn, ignoring all of humanity and ignoring God.  If so, then that feels like a sin against you, me and God.

The second nugget of wisdom is that the wise person lives with the attitude and belief that for God to be God, then he must know our inner thoughts and motives.  If that’s the case, then it’s best to live accordingly.

“Lord God, help us to be wise and when we see a person suffering the injustices of this world, help us to remember that my fellow human being’s needs are my business.”

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  The Gospel of Matthew 25: 40