Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 30

Today's Proverbs change authors. Instead of Solomon, we are hearing from a guy named Agur. He was speaking these proverbs to Ithiel and Ucal. Nothing else is known about them (according to the footnotes in my fancy study Bible) But the ones who compiled the book of Proverbs obviously found the words of Agur to be on par with those of Solomon since they are included.

Verses 5-6
5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6 Don't add to His words, or He will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar. Holman Christian Standard

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) translates v. 5 this way "Every word of God is tested"The NIV says, "flawless."

I think that has the same meaning when you think of pure metals and how they are tested with fire and made pure.

Either way, Agur is reminding us that we can totally trust in God's word because it is pure, tested, flawless.

There has been a consistent attack on the Word of God over the past 30-40 years. Many who want to justify their personal sins will say something like "Well. That just applied to people of the time when the Bible was written. Times have changed. Paul wouldn't say that now."

These people should heed the warning found in v.6 "Don't add to His words, or He will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar."

The Apostle John in Revelation gave this warning.
22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book.

God is serious about His Word. We should be too.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 29 - and an old song

Someone asked about Proverbs 31. Good question. In many months you can read a Proverb a day and it works out just fine. But if you know the song ♪ ♫ Thirty days has September, April, June and November, But who needs to remember? My days belong to you. ♫ ♪ Then you know there are several months where you don't have enough days to get all the way through the book.

So... you have two options. Read chapter 31 on the 20th or read it on the 1st of the next month. (No. Just totally skipping it is not an option.) I'm going to blog about Proverbs 31 on July 1.

I read through this chapter several times in a couple of different translations. The verse that keeps standing out to me today is verse 7

7 The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern.

Poor people often don't have access to lawyers or other advocates. They can be taken advantage of by landlords or loan sharks or others. Sometimes they are poor from their own bad choices in life. Sometimes they are poor because of their upbringing or lack of education. But no matter how they got there, all through scripture we see that God is concerned for the poor and expects us to be also.

Other verses form Proverbs 29 to consider:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rand McNally (the map people) and USA Today are on a road trip to find the most patriotic city in America. Article from USA Today and Rand McNally

Clarksville is one of the finalists! Here's a note from their team that's scouting out the "most patriotic" cities.

" It's Tawny and Chris (aka Captain and Clark) from Rand McNally and USA Today's Road Rally.

We wanted to give you a heads up to our schedule for the next three weeks so that you'll have a rough estimate as to when we'll be arriving in your patriotic towns. We're currently in Williamsburg, Virginia and if the other contestants have anywhere near the enthusiasm that we've experienced so far, we'll burst in air with excitement. It's been a great start to our trip. "

Captain and Clark's Website

They'll be in Clarksville THIS weekend and even more exciting than that !!! They are going to be in our service Sunday morning and are going to video the entire service so they can show everyone how our church is helping make Clarksville the most patriotic city in the USA.

How cool is that?

So….. We need everyone who has ever sung, thought about singing, sings in the shower or with the car radio to sing with us Sunday morning. Call your friends who used to sing in choir and tell them we really need them. The orchestra sounds fantastic and we need to match that with the choir. Don't forget your teenagers and older children can join us too.

Help spread the word. We need you in choir Wednesday night and Sunday morning. The music is easy to learn. We'll use our books so you don't have to memorize anything.

Hope to see you all tomorrow night! (Bring more singers with you!)

The Proverbs Challange - Day 28

Have you ever been talking to someone - maybe even a group of people  - and you mention something that happened and someone quickly says, "It wasn't me!" or something to that effect, and you weren't even thinking about how that person was involved or "guilty" of anything? It happens a lot with children talking to their parents or parishoners talking to a pastor, so I've heard it a lot.

I always love to quote Proverbs 28:1 in those instances.

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Hahaha. Then the person looks at you and says, "What does that mean?" to which I reply, "You're running and I wasn't even chasing you. You must be guilty of something. haha."

But the verse I want to choose for today is verse 6.

Better a poor man who lives in integrity
than a rich man who distorts right and wrong.

I heard a conversation between a 20 something y ear old and an older person and they were talking about signing contracts. The 20+ year old said people his age just signed contracts to get a job, that they didn't ever intend to actually follow it if they didn't want to. Oh my! This is from the Christian 20+ year olds.

Is that really the case? Have we as a nation really raised a generation that has zero integrity? Well, why wouldn't we have? The Baby Boomers starting it and perfected it in their children and now it is being passed on to the next generation. We should consider more of the proverbs in this chapter.

18 The one who lives with integrity will be helped,
but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.

20 A faithful man will have many blessings,
but one in a hurry to get rich will not go unpunished.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Wounds from a Friend - Day 27

Yesterday's chapter in Proverbs had several verses that talked about fools. Today's chapter has several verses that talk about friends and how they help make you a better person (and I think you can logically conclude keep you from being a "fool").

5 Better is open rebuke

Than love that is concealed.

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad,

So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.

10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,

And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.

17 Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.

We all need friends in our lives who we will allow to be totally honest with us and tell us when we are messing up our lives. To have that kind of friend you have to be that kind of friend. You must be able to tell your friend the truth when he needs correction. I suppose we all would prefer a kind and gentle correction, but if correcting with kindness doesn't work we sometimes have to be more forceful. (look again at vs. 5-6)
If you don't have an iron sharpening iron relationship with anyone, let me encourage you to pray and ask God to send someone your way (and don't forget that you must be willing to be that kind of friend yourself.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 26

Proverbs 26 is pretty hard on the fools. Verse after verse (10 of the first 11) give various comparisons that make it very plain to all that a fool is not something you want to be or someone you want to spend any time with.

But look at verse 12

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?

There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Wow! A fool returning to folly is compared to a dog returning to his vomit but there is more hope for a fool than a man who is wise in his own eyes! I'm not even sure what I can say as further commentary. Perhaps that is because someone who is wise in his own eyes can't be taught anything, can't be bothered with facts or truth, doesn't listen to reason. He already has all of life figured out (in his own mind) and  because of that, there is more hope for a fool.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 25

Once again in this Proverb there are many verses that have to do with what we say. If you think about it, I guess most of the conflict in your life is probably because of something you said to someone or something they said to you.

11 A word spoken at the right time is like golden apples on a silver tray.

12 A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold.

13 To those who send him, a trustworthy messenger is like the coolness of snow on a harvest day; he refreshes the life of his masters.

14 The man who boasts about a gift that does not exist is like clouds and wind without rain.

15 A ruler can be persuaded through patience, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 24

I was first going to write today about verse 10
If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited.

How often do we quit because the task ahead of us is difficult? 
It could be something on our jobs, but usually the things we quit working on when they become difficult are relationships: marriages, friendships, etc.

I think a lot could be said along these lines. (Don't make me do everything for you. hahaha. Let God talk to you about this.)

But as I reread this verse and then the verses following it, they reminded me of how the world reacted during the Holocaust.

10 If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited. 11 Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter. 12 If you say, "But we didn't know about this," won't He who weighs hearts consider it? Won't He who protects your life know? Won't He repay a person according to his work?

If you have followed my blog for ery long you know that one of the things I care about is the Persecuted Church. There a MANY places around the world where being a Christian can cost you your life. Here are a couple of web sites that will not onlyl help you see what is going on around the world, but they also give ways that you can make a difference and actually do something in a difficult time.

Voice of the Martyrs You can get a free copy of the book "Tortured for Christ"

Persecuted Church This site has links to a whole lot of organizations that work with those who are persecuted.

Here are some other great verses from Proverbs 24

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 23

It was difficult for me to pick a verse today. I certainly don't count myself to have arrived, but many of the warnings that are given in this chapter are things that God has already done in my life or things He protected me from in my younger days. I haven't had opportunity to eat with really rich people, I've never drunk alcohol - much less been drunk, I followed my parents teachings and my children followed mine...

I suppose the reason I can say this is because I had parents who not only spoke of the things of God, but actually lived lives that followed Him. And because I listened to them and followed them I was able to teach my children the same way. Now I see them bringing up their children to love God and follow Him with all their heart. So I guess I'll chose these verses as my verse for the day because I have found them to be very true in my life.

15 My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will indeed rejoice. 16 My innermost being will cheer when your lips say what is right.

It brings great joy to my heart to see my children and grandchildren living godly lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 22

Here's the verse I chose for today.
29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.

When Solomon was building the temple he said this:
"Now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings, to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided. 2 Chronicles 2:7 NAS
I'm afraid we - meaning modern American Christians - no longer care (as a whole) about people being "skilled" in their work. Actually, that's just a reflection of our culture in many ways. There are some people who care about skill and quality, but pop culture and the dumbing down of our culture has led to mediocrity in our culture and in the church.

There's an excellent book titled "Addicted to Mediocrity" by Franky Schaeffer, son of the famous theologian, Francis Schaeffer.

Quoting from the back of the book
Franky Schaeffer shows how Christians today have sacrificed the artistic prominence they enjoyed for centuries and settled instead for the mediocrity. The evidence for this sad state of affairs abounds. We are flooded with "Christian" doodads, trinkets, tee shirts, bumper stickers, etc., that use God's name as an advertising slogan - "Things Go Better with Jesus" - putting the Creator of the universe on the same level as soda pop!
... But it doesn't have to be this way...
Schaeffer offers not only an unflinching critique, but specific and practical direction for becoming "unaddicted," and for recovering artistic excellence. The punch, humor and satire of the text is effectively enhanced by nineteen original drawings by Chicago artist Kurt Mitchell.

A man "skilled in his work" doesn't just happen by chance. People who are skilled as doctors, painters, lawyers, teachers, machinists, musicians, gardeners, pilots, whatever spend quality time learning and perfecting their skill.

What are you  doing to become skilled in the things you do? Are you studying, reading, practicing, improving? Don't settle for mediocrity. Be great!

Here are some other wonderful verses from Proverbs 22


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 21 Happy First Day of Summer!!

It's the first day of Summer! Woohoo! (of course this has to do with meteorological summerness, not when the heat actually began) It's the longest daylight day of the year. This gives you more time to play outside or time to take your Bible out on the back deck and read Proverbs 21 if you haven't yet today.

Today I chose verse 3

To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.

God actually said this (or something similar) on more than one occasion in scripture. He told Saul through Samuel "to obey is better than sacrifice." Read the story here if you aren't familiar with it

Here is what God said through the prophet Micah (chapter 6)

6 With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? 7 Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God

You can see what I wrote about these verses here Blog post from January 2010 - Micah 6:8

Well, there you go. After seeing the two passages this verse reminds me of I've let scripture be it's own interpreter - which is always best anyway.

Other verses from Proverbs 21

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 20

I hope you all are enjoying reading through Proverbs. There are so many truths covering so many areas of life.

Here's the verse I picked for today.
Proverbs 20:5
 A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out.

As a pastor, many people over the years have shared their plans and dreams for the future with me. Some have been small plans. Some have been grand plans. Many were plans that that person felt like God had given him. Unfortunately, very few of these people followed through with their plans or dreams. Why?

This verse has part of the answer. Big dreams most often require big effort or more knowledge or perhaps things that haven't even been thought of yet. As we've seen from so many verses in Proverbs, a man of understanding fears the LORD, consults many counselors, seeks wisdom and knowledge and lets God direct his path.

To bring forth a grand plan from your heart you need all of those things. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It actually takes work to gain wisdom, consult counselors and live in fear of the LORD.

What dream has God put in your heart? You can bring that dream out of the deep well. Seek the LORD, consult wise counselors, make plans and let God direct your path.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 19

Happy Fathers day

I'm at home, still sick to my stomach and the electricity went off about 8:15, but I still have my trusty iPhone.

Here's the verse I picked for today from Proverbs 19
11 A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

This is so un-American right now. Half of the news is someone being offended by someone else - usually just by something they said. How much more civil and pleasant would our society be if even just the Christians lived by this verse?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - 35 Years - Day 18

Today's verse was easy to pick.

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.

The reason this was easy to pick is because today is MLW (My Lovely Wife) and my 35 wedding anniversary. (I've got to stop telling people I'm 37 years old. Hahaha.) I definitely found favor from the LORD when He brought Cheryl and I together. We first started sitting by each other in church - Eastwood Baptist Church, Tulsa, OK - when she was in 8th grade and I was in 9th. We've had a wonderful life together and I look forward to many more years together.

Here's a picture of one of my favorite picture frames in the house. The picture in the middle was taken when Cheryl turned 15. My heart still goes flitter-flutter when I see this picture.

If I could wish anything for you it would be first, of course, that you know the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal relationship and second, that you could have a marriage as wonderful as ours.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 17

Feel free to leave a comment.

I guess Proverbs 17:17 has been quoted thousands of times, it looks great on greeting cards and posters and everyone wishes for a true friend that "loves at all times."

The best way to have that kind of friend is to be that kind of friend. For a refresher course on what true love really is, read I Corinthians 13

Here's another verse from this chapter that I really like. First, let me say I am not elderly!
I do, however, totally relate to verse 6

Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly.

In case you've somehow missed seeing them, here are my grandbabies.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 16

Wow! June is more than half over. If you've missed a day or two of our Proverbs Challenge you can either read a couple of chapters one day or go through again next month and try to miss different days. haha

The verse I chose for today is a very popular verse. People really like to quote it when they are making big plans. Here it is in a few translations.

"Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved." CSB - Homan Christian Standard
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." NIV -  New International Version

"Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established." NAS - New American Standard

"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established ." KJVPeople like to use vs.3 like it's a magic charm or something. "Oh, well, I've committed my activities to the Lord, so He's going to make me succeed." "Lord. I'm doing this for You. Help me achieve my plans."

I think a good passage of scripture to help understand this is Psalm 37
4 Delight yourself in the LORD ; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Here's the way these verses work. You don't just sing a song that says how much you delight in God and then expect Him to do whatever silly thing pops into your head. If you truly delight in the Lord then the desires of your heart will be His desires. It's the same with these verses from Proverbs. If we commit our way to the Lord then we are seeking His direction, reading His word, spending time in prayer and then our desires for the way we should go will be His desires and then he will establish our steps.

Here are some other great verses from Proverbs 16

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 15

I noticed again in this chapter how our tongues can get us in a lot of trouble or they can bring healing and joy and turn away anger.

Controlling our tongues is a discipline we must practice and learn. The best way to do this however isn't to learn to count to ten before we speak or memorize a bunch of pretty words to say to people - even when we don't mean them.

The best way to control our tongue and be a blessing to others is to have a change of heart.

Jesus said in Luke 6: 43 "A good tree doesn't produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn't produce good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren't gathered from thorn bushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart."

However... the verse I'm going to choose for today's verse is 15:

13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.

Why? Because I have used this verse in previous church ministries as the name and theme of a clown/puppet ministry. This Fall I would like to begin a clown troupe and a puppet team and take this ministry team out into the community.

I was first introduced to clown ministry at MissionFuge many years ago. We didn't have real clown costumes and just tried to wear our clothes funny. We had some makeup and we got ourselves all fixed up as clowns. We then went to a local nursing home to visit. Wow! It was so incredible to see the reaction from the residents. Even those who were strapped into wheelchairs and couldn't talk - their eyes would light up when we came in the room. We brought a lot of joy to that place and I knew then that a clown ministry was a wonderful way to visit.

I've been to backyard Bible clubs, nursing homes, children's events, church picnic and more over the years.

I'll let everyone know when we're ready to launch a "Joyful Hearts" clown/puppet team. You can go ahead and send me an e-mail if you think you might be interested in being a part of this ministry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 14

Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite verse from Proverbs 14.

15 The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.

There are so many areas of life where dishonest men try to -and often succeed - take advantage of the naive. Wisdom is needed in every area of life. I think a wise man/woman should study, have counselors, read books etc so wise decisions and clear direction in every area of life: spiritual, financial, mental, emotional, relational etc etc.

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 14

Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite verse from Proverbs 14. I'll leave my comments later

Monday, June 13, 2011

VBS Kids and Bro. Lyndel

I love doing this every year!

The Proverbs Challenge - Day 13

Many of the verses in Proverbs 13 - at least the ones that I remember while writing this - had to do with wise men (and women) listening to advice, discipline and instruction. There is a rebellious streak in each of us. It's the old sin nature that wants to go its own way.

The verse I chose as my verse from the chapter for today is v. 16
Every sensible person acts knowledgeably,
but a fool displays his stupidity.

I guess I picked this one because how we act shows whether or not we have listened and taken to heart advice, discipline and instruction. Hearing instruction is just the first step. We have to make changes in our behavior if we are going to be wise in what we do.

Here are some other great verses from Proverbs 13.