July 15, 2017

July 15, 2017


Focus Verse: He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
Proverbs 9:7-9


The difference between a wise, righteous man and a wicked, foolish mocker is all in how they accept correction. What is your first reaction when someone corrects you? What is your final reaction?


A fool gets angry when they are corrected. They immediately lash out (and be careful, because even if you’re only lashing out in your mind, you’re still lashing out). “Who does she think she is, pointing out all my flaws when she can’t even do this or that right.” That’s the wisdom of a fool right there and it leads to a life full of bitterness, rage and never growing. And if something isn’t growing, it’s dying!


A fool is too proud to accept that they are doing something wrong. They are an expert at everything that they put their hand to, so to try to even wrap their mind around the fact that they aren’t the best is unfathomable. And when they are approached with a product that proves that they aren’t the best, the excuses start to pour out. The attacks start to come out. Anything to bring someone else down to their level and bring them up to someone else’s level.


A fool who is trying to change (this is the category I find myself in most often) is very similar to the fool. They show all of the initial signs of being a fool. They get mad at being corrected. They think poorly of the person doing the correcting. They come up with excuses at to why they don’t really need corrected. In the end though, they reason that there is something wrong. They realize that they don’t have all of the answers, and deep down, they want to get better so they heed the correction and do their best to change. The first reaction is still broken, but the final reaction leads to wisdom.


And finally, the place we all should be aiming for is the righteous, wise man. This person looks inward first. When correction comes, they immediately look at themselves to see if there is a fault that needs corrected. Then, if there is, they change and learn and grow. If there isn’t a need to change, they don’t get angry at the person offering correction, but instead see the correction for what it is (insecurity from the other person, a misunderstanding, etc) and love the person through it.


The righteous, wise man not only accepts correction well, but he or she invites it. They ask others to openly critique their work. They desperately want to be the best they can, so they want to learn from their mistakes and are humble enough to admit that they indeed make mistakes. Yet there is also a balancing act in knowing when to stop critiquing and move on. This is a genuine aim to get better, not a backhanded way to be edified by others.


So what is your first reaction to correction?


July 14, 2017

July 14, 2017


Focus Verse: Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
Proverbs 5:15-20


Proverbs teaches to avoid a number of different sins and character flaws and adultery is one of them that it teaches the most frequently on avoiding. Now let’s be honest, Solomon was probably a pretty good person to be writing on this topic since he had roughly 1,000 wives and concubines. Now before you write me off as a lunatic, let’s think for a second on this. Who is a better expert on someone struggling with drug addiction, someone who has read a lot of books on drug addiction or someone who has struggled with and overcome a drug addiction?


Solomon knew what a disaster the whole multiple marriage thing was. If it wasn’t a disaster, why would he be telling his son to be content with the wife (of the singular variety) of his youth. Clearly Solomon had gotten down the road in years with these thousand wives and concubines and regretted 999 of those decisions.


So what is Solomon’s expert advice to his son on how to avoid adultery? Don’t look for it!


I’m going to dive into some birds and bees stuff here, so parents, hide your children and put on your PG-13 hats.


If you keep the home fires burning, you don’t have to warm yourself by the fire of someone else’s home. If you’re eating good at your dinner table, then you don’t have to wish you were eating at someone else’s dinner table. If you are having outstanding sex in your marriage bed, then you won’t be looking for it in someone else’s bed.


The key to this is practice and communication. Sex is such a taboo conversation topic, but it’s one that has to happen between a husband and a wife. If my wife makes something for dinner that I don’t like, I tell her that I don’t like it so that I don’t have to keep eating it. I learned this the hard way. I loathe French toast. Cannot stand it. But I never communicated this to my wife. Guess what we had for dinner for nearly three years of our marriage? I finally got up the gumption to tell her that French toast just really doesn’t do anything for me, and guess what we don’t eat nearly as frequently?


So why don’t we do the same thing with sex? If there’s something you really like, tell your husband or wife! If there’s some “French toast” in your sex life, talks about it! Maybe your husband or wife really likes the “French toast”, so you’ll still have it on occasion. But because you love each other, it won’t be the only thing.


Be happy with your husband, be happy with your wife, and you won’t have to look to someone else’s. If you aren’t happy, TALK ABOUT IT! Problems don’t go away by ignoring them and hoping they’ll get better. They go away by talking about them and making them better. The best way to get steer clear of adultery is to make sure it’s not an option in the first place. Marriage is hard. You will never get your marriage so “strong” that you won’t walk through hard times. But those times will be easier to bear if you have a solid, Christ-centered base to fall back on. And really a really great sex-life definitely doesn’t hurt anything.

July 13, 2017

July 13, 2017


Focus Verse: My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6


I heard a quote once from Pastor Joel Schmidgall of National Community Church in Washington D.C. in which he said, “If you want knowledge, hit the books, but if you want wisdom, hit your knees.” We are all about information these days, but few people are interested in knowledge. It’s so much easier to just hit the share button on Facebook when it aligns with your particular social or political or religious view, than actually checking to see if what you shared has any factual substance to it. We’re all about information masking as knowledge because it’s easier.

Even more rare is wisdom. The same way that we let information settle in as a substitute for knowledge, we let knowledge stand in as a substitute for wisdom. Knowing a lot of things about a lot of things. Here’s the problem with knowledge, facts can never get personal. That’s not to say that facts don’t personally affect people, but they, in and of themselves, are not personal. Try telling someone who has lost a loved one to gun violence that more people are killed in automobile accidents than in cases involving firearms and see if that makes them feel any better. The knowledge might be true, but it’s not personal.

Wisdom on the other hand is personal. Wisdom can discern between the truth, a lie and then when neither the truth nor a lie is even appropriate. Wisdom chooses to keep her mouth shut when consoling someone who has suffered an enormous loss and just listens. Knowledge tries to make itself known no matter the cost.

The funny thing in all of this is that wisdom is actually very easy to find. Just turn to the book of Proverbs and you’ll see God’s answer over and over again. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A large chunk of the time, Solomon (the author of Proverbs) refers to wisdom as a person, using the pronoun “her”. There are times when wisdom talks and reveals truth that it sounds an awful lot like God talking. I don’t think this is an accident. Like Pastor Joel said, “if you want wisdom, hit your knees.”

Wisdom is found when you walk in the Spirit. This is part of the reason why so few people have it. They have plenty of knowledge, but they can’t attain wisdom because they are too proud to surrender what they think they know to the Holy Spirit in exchange for what He knows. To walk in the Spirit, to truly gain wisdom, you must be humble enough to acknowledge that God’s ways are always right, and that if we want to be like Him, we need to change the things that are in us that don’t line up.

It’s the hardest, easy thing you’ll ever do. And it starts with one prayer, the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet, not what I will, but what You will.”

Not my will, but Yours be done. That’s the beginning of wisdom in one prayer.

July 12, 2017

July 12, 2017

PSALM 146-150

Focus Verse: Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150


I love these last few chapters of the book of Psalms. I isolated Psalm 150 today, but all of today’s reading, Psalm 146-150, is such a cool way to end the book of Psalms. When reading through these chapters, especially if you read through them out loud, it has the feel of a fireworks show reaching its climax.


The entire book of Psalms characterizes a life of praise to God. There are ups and downs, good times and bad times, situations when it’s easy to praise God and situations where we have to shout at our souls to bless the Lord. So when we reach these last few chapters, you can’t help but get that same kind of feeling that one feels during the grand finale of a fireworks display.


Fireworks are such a fitting analogy for praise too. Praise is beautiful, praise is explosive, praise is a celebration, praise is loud, praise grabs everyone’s attention…I could go on and on.


I encourage you to read through these last few chapters out loud. Keep in mind that it’s the grand finale of the book of Psalms and read it that way. I’ll even give you the “goosebump challenge”: I dare you to read through this, increasing in volume and energy and emotion all the way until the end, and NOT get goosebumps.


It’s so powerful! But then again, praise is powerful, so why should the end of God’s book on praise be anything different.

July 11, 2017

July 11, 2017

PSALM 140-145

Focus Verse: Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
Psalm 145:3


This is my favorite characteristic of God: no matter how well you think you know Him, you don’t. Walking with God is so unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Most of the time, in life, we can look back at our younger years and see how much we really didn’t know, even though we thought we knew it all. It’s very similar with God. The only difference is, there is never a point where you feel like you have Him figured out.


The deeper I get with God, the further I realize how far I have yet to go. The NASB translation uses the word unsearchable for God’s greatness here. The NIV says, “His greatness no one can fathom”. The Hebrew word is the noun form of chaqar, the verb to search. Coupled with the negative, we come to the conclusion that the greatness of our God cannot even begin to be searched. He’s unsearchable.


The only chance we have of understanding the smallest glimpse of our God is by divine revelation. He has to open our eyes to see more of Him. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from A.W. Tozer, “Eternity will not be long enough to learn all He is, or to praise Him for all he has done, but then, that matters not; for we shall be always with Him, and we desire nothing more.”


For the rest of eternity we get to spend our days learning about the greatness of our God and praising Him for all He has done. I think we will look back and get to peek in on all of the ways He moved in our lives that we never even saw. He will connect the dots on events that happened thousands of years before we were even born that led to defining moments in our lives.


And the best part, even with an eternity to spend doing it, we still won’t be able to reach the end of who He is. We still won’t be able to praise Him for all that He has done. But I’m sure going to have fun trying!

July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017

PSALM 133-139

Focus Verse: Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24


I love Psalm 139. It has very much become the “pro-life” Bible verse (but let’s please be careful in affiliating any sort of political stance with the word of God. LIFE is sacred and supported by this Bible verse, not the Democratic or Republican parties). But let’s not forget that this chapter applies to us as well.


God knows us, and yes, He knew us before we were even born. He made us, so He knows us better than we know ourselves! He knows what makes us tick, He knows what we need, He knows how to make us ‘run efficiently’ and to the best of our ability. Who else can you say this about?


I love my wife, and the longer we are married, the better we get at being able to tell what the other person needs – not wants, but needs. Other times though, we get confused…well, I should say I get confused. I walk past a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink and it never once crosses my mind that my wife might need me to wash them. There’s a mountain of dirty clothes in the upstairs hamper and I just toss another set of on top without thinking that maybe my wife needs me to take that hamper downstairs and start a load of laundry.


I know my wife…but I have limits to how well I know her. Not so with God. He knows our deepest thoughts before we even think them. He knows where we have been and what we have done. Even more so, He knows where we are going – who we will be, what we will do, who we could be if we give our life over to Him. He sees us from every angle, past, present and future.


All of this should give you an incredible amount of trust in Him. He not only knows you this well, but everyone else on the planet. And He knows how you fit in with all of those other people He has brought you into contact with. He sees the entire puzzle of you life and knows how to put it together perfectly. Which means, for those of you following Christ right now, where you are and what you are doing at this exact moment, no matter how messy it may seem, has been ordered and ordained by God to ‘fit’ into your ‘puzzle’. You are here for a reason and a purpose. Trust it. Trust Him.


What it also means is that we can pray these two verse and trust God. “Search me and know my heart”, “Test me and see if there are any faults in me”, “God, show me where I am wrong and tell me how to fix it.” I’ll be honest, I used to pray these two verses every morning for a season. I’ve gotten away from it, and I need to get back to doing it.


Do you trust God to correct you? None of us likes correction. None of us likes being told that we are wrong. But if we will accept the correction from the God who knows us better than anyone else, the God who makes our whole life fit together, we will become the best version of us as we can possibly be.


When is the last time you let God correct you? Why not ask Him to start today?

July 9, 2017

July 9, 2017

PSALM 126-132

Focus Verse: O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
Psalm 131


It’s ok to have blind faith. It’s ok to believe like a child. To ask a ton of questions, but when your mom or dad says, “I don’t know, it just is!” to the constant stream of “Why?” questions that you ask, to simply say, “Ok” and then run off and play. That always amazes me about my children. They always ask questions about everything, but in the end, I don’t know that they even really care what the answer is.


When does that change in us? I wrote two days ago about the Gospel being a simple truth; something easy enough for everyone to grasp, something that, in fact, we can’t reason ourselves to. We see something very similar here.


I think our pride is what demands answers. At some point, we, as masters of our own universe, want to understand everything. We think we know best, so we want to be intelligent enough to get to the answers on our own. But this just isn’t possible. NO MATTER WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN. Every belief, even non-belief, requires certain leaps of faith. To believe that we are all here because two atoms appeared out of nothingness and smacked together to start a cataclysmic process of energy transference (I’m trying to sound really smart and scientific…can you tell?) that created everything you see before you requires a leap of faith that something can come out of nothing.


I’ll be the first to admit…all that’s over my head. In other words, I don’t need to involve myself in great matters or things to difficult for me. And my soul is ok with that. Before I was walking with God, I would think about that stuff all the time. It would keep me up at night as I wondered about the mysteries of the universe.


But now, all my eggs are in one basket – HIS basket – and I have so much more peace. Sure, I have my core beliefs. I believe in the Gospel with all of my heart and soul. I can tell you why I believe in the Gospel and show you the proof of how it has changed me. I can prove my relationship with God by the things I’ve heard and seen and experienced, and what others have seen and heard and experienced through me. I’m not the man I used to be (praise God!), and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the reason for that.


For some of the side streets of Christianity though, I choose to believe blindly. I can tell you why I think what I think, but at the end of the day, I’m like that kid asking “why”. If my Father in heaven says, “It just is”, I’m completely ok with that.


Choose the things that are worth involving yourself in, and let the other matters go. Focus your energy on loving on other people and helping the poor and needy, not fighting over whether the earth was literally created in 7 days or not or whether grape juice and unleavened bread can actually turn into someone’s body and blood.