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Archive for November, 2019

A Word to the Wise

11-30-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Humility
The highest kind of love has its root in humility. It is not difficult to learn the first part of mature love. That love which is able to deny self and care for the welfare of others, especially those whom it comes natural for us to be concerned about, and the caring for humanity in general. But when we get to the kind of love that is able also to love our enemies, here we find it necessary to have a deeper, stronger, character, and that strength is gained through humility. Humility can only be established by our personal relationship with God. When I behold God as my creator and really feel the significance of being the created, the honor of God becomes real; the acceptance of self-inevitable. Out of all of this comes the humility that enables me to love my enemy. Humility gives one a sense of worth, because it has its roots in our relationship with God. There is not a spiritual relationship between worthlessness and humility. Every man has his own gifts of God. To deny them, to call them worthless would be to defame God. Humility is knowing whom and what you are before God. Test what I say. Love your neighbor as yourself. Now if you are worthless you would see him also as worthless, but if you see your worth then you can also acknowledge his. Many people have such a case of inferiority that they are afraid to approach humility, though completely unrelated. God never said man was worthless – he said he was helpless.

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A Word to the Wise

11-27-2019 – A Word to the Wise – I have seen a great calamity in our day, parents who do not talk to their children and children who do not talk to their parents.
Parents whose lives are so full of foolishness they have nothing to share with their children, and children who think their parents have nothing to say worth listening too.
Part of this foolishness begins in childhood when the parent allows others to raise their children whether it be daycare, or self-care resulting in no communication between parent and child which in the later years becomes nursing homes, and lonely homes for the parent.
In our time it is the parent who allows friends, entertainment, television, or game screens to interact with the child because they are too busy or perhaps seeking immoral relationships or more likely because of just plain disinterest.
So how did all of this come about? Simply because we do not pay attention to a lesson taught thirty-four hundred years ago:
“The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6 (NRSV).
It is the loss of these verses so many years ago that brings ruin to us today. The command not only focuses one’s attention on the Lord and daily walking with him it also demands daily, minutely communication between the parent and child all of their days.
How may the child know the Lord in a close intimate way when the child has never experienced the parent walking with the Lord? If the child is never allowed to see the miracles that God brings about in the parents’ life, how are they to see the miracles, interventions in their own life?

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A Word to the Wise

11-26-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Sometimes our understanding of scripture demands an understanding of the original language and at times even the culture of the times. I will give two examples. The first appears in Luke 4. I present it only as an example that allows us to understand the second.
Luke 4:
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.
Focus please on the two sections 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” and 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.
Now if we are honest these two verses do not make good sense for one verse indicates acceptance and the other rejection. How do we solve the dilemma? In our time there has been an increased desire to translate the Gospels back into Hebrew the language Jesus spoke, and the language that it could have originally been written in. This conclusion is based on the many Hebraisms and Hebrew puns found in the Gospels. When we do this, that is translate it back into Hebrew, and then translate it into English look what happens with these two verses.
Hebrew sense of passage: “ And all testified against him and were shocked at the disgraceful words that were coming out of his mouth and said this is the son of Joseph.” This translation makes more sense when we consider the context of what is happening and the attempt to kill Jesus. (Suggested reading by David Bivin)
But I am not going to go into an explanation of why this looks different in Hebrew. Rather it is presented to better understand an off quoted Old Testament verse which confounds the reader. A verse as a family therapist I find myself confronted with frequently.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” This verse confounds us because we are able to give numerous examples of families where just the opposite appears to be true. One may see one or more children turn out faithful and good, and have brothers or sisters who are just flat evil. How can this be?
This is why it is important to be able to read or at the very least research in the original language. Our translators in practically all the various translations add the word “should”. It is not in the original text. But the addition is an attempt to clarify the proverb and in doing so completely changes the meaning.
If you read the verse in the following manner then reality sets in and confirms what one may see especially in our generation. So another way of reading this verse is: If you raise a child giving them his way, when he is old he will still insist on his own way. Now again this is not a word for word translation however the Hebrew text would allow such a reading.
This allows the parent of wayward children to understand what may have happened that allows us to understand why a child apparently does differently than how we tried to teach. We teach one thing and the child insist on his own way and the parent attempts to negotiate and acquire some form of obedience. Part of the problem of course is that a parent may give into a child and let them have their own way and in doing so actually trains the child to demand his own way. Either way, we as parent give in to the child’s demands or the child never submits the outcome is the same. A spoiled selfish self-centered child becomes the narcissistic adult.
חנך לְ · הַ · נַ֫עַר עַל · פֶּה דֶּ֫רֶךְ · הוּא גַּם
train · the · [the] child over · mouth way · his also
כִּי · זקן
לֹא · סור מִן · הִיא
when · he is old not · he will stray from · her|it

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A Word to the Wise

11-25-2019 – A Word to the Wise – What is the worse sin that you have ever committed? Does the answer strike fear in your heart? A three dimensional review of what you said or did?
How do you think the apostle Paul would answer that question? I suspect he would immediately say “I was responsible for the death of many Christians.” It was no longer in later life guilt, but awareness of what he had done.
So for you how would you answer the question what indeed is the worst thing you have done that easily comes to remembrance?
I know some who would say they do not remember, others who require a lot of time to answer. But a few know what they have done. Adultery, abuse, murder, false witness, covetousness? The difference in these two groups is truly amazing.
For those who have no sin, to speak of, will find judgmental attitudes toward others easy. In contrast for those who have indeed sinned, knowledge of it is always there. Not necessarily guilt. Rather awareness before the Lord they never, ever want to do that again.
Moreover, I suspect with this latter group you will find their life is full of kind deeds, kind words, a gentle spirit.
Notice please the difference with the apostle Peter. Before the death of Jesus a brash, judgmental person. Quick to find fault. Abrasive. Now, post his betrayal of Jesus we find in I and II Peter, a gentle spirit, kindly watching over the children of the Lord.
The awareness of the gravity of past sins makes us aware the Lord did come to seek and save the lost. Like Paul some of us may say I am one of the chief among sinners. Yet these sins impales us to daily live our lives as a testimony to others of the gracious forgiveness of the Lord.

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A Word to the Wise

11-23-2019 – A Word to the Wise – How long has it been since you heard a lesson on envy? What is envy anyway? Something bad? Some, unthinkingly even may conceived of it as an admirable trait. Well let me have you judge for yourself. Would you have known that envy is one aspect of the first sin? Eve wanting something she had no right to. The end result affects all humanity.
The problem gets even worse, the first criminal act involved Cain envying his brother, which resulted in murder. The reality is that envy always seeks to destroy its object.
Sometimes envy is confused with jealous. However, while at times jealous may have a positive connotation, as the Lord being jealous over his creation, envy never has a positive outcome.
Envy is such a serious violation that it is even included in the last of the great Ten Commandments. Envy, you see, is a chief aspect of covetousness.
But to get a fuller understanding of just how great a disaster this quality is let’s look at some biblical examples. The following passage gives an in-depth look at the emotions and depth of depravity of envy:
Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’” So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. And when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight that I may eat from her hand.”
Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. And she took dough and kneaded it and made cakes in his sight and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing as for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.
Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” (ESV)
Notice please the absolute obsession of Amnon with something that he should not have. By the way you frequently see this same type of obsession today in immoral relationships. Regardless here Amnon demands, connives, and gets what he wants then look what happens. After violating Tamar the text says now he hates her and kicks her out condemning her to a life of shame. Notice please how envy seeks to destroy.
You see a similar pattern with David and Bathsheba. After he takes her from her husband he then has her husband murdered. Envy is emotionally, and physically destructive with no redeeming qualities.
Turning to the New Testament we see the covetousness and envy of Judas in betraying Jesus. Getting what he wants the death of the Lord is the result.
Finally, out of the mouth of Pilate comes the fateful recognition concerning the Jew’s deliverance of Jesus “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.”
These examples reveal to us the horrible effects of envy and why scripture so roundly condemns it. The question for us today is do we exemplify this same trait in our life as well?

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A Word to the Wise

11-22-2019 – A Word to the Wise – The importance of the first year for the marriage is emphasized by God when He mandates that during the first year the man is exempt from everything–to allow him to tend to the marital relationship.

What is discovered by the couple during that first year? First, though the idea is appealing the chief purpose of sex is not to have children. Sex was given to meet a central need of the man for companionship and is a reminder of those days in the garden when man communed with the Lord about the deeper things of life. One needs only to recall to mind the intense satisfaction of discovery of spiritual truths to acknowledge the truth of this.

Moreover, during the first year of marriage a fit is made. A multiple of factors are involved, size, shape, depth, smell, and our brain cells commit to memory every little detail. Our spirits bond to that person in such a manner that can never be duplicated. Sure you can find the cheap variety pack that fits everyone. But it is just not the same. With what can we compare the fitting process that takes place in the marriage relationship? The embryo that grows in the mother’s womb for nine months–the immune system accepts the fetus and it grows to fit the mother. The fitting process might also be compared to buying a pair of shoes. As they are worn, they are broken in to fit that particular foot. A physical fitting occurs sexually in much this same way.

Sure two people can have sex with many other people-they do it all the time, but it is not the same. Have you ever noticed the shape of women’s stockings when they come out of those little eggs? What happens when she puts them on? They now fit her. What if someone else puts her hose on? They do not fit the same. Sure they sell hose where one size fits all. It is just not a perfect fit. Sure a woman can have sex with more than one man, but the fit is now generic, not unique.

So what occurs when there is a number of partners? A very poor fit. You can use pliers to loosen a bolt or the proper size wrench made to fit it. The pliers do the job-but the risk of damage is much greater. One can put a 100-watt bulb in a forty-wall socket but the risk of fire is much greater. One may put a 100-watt bulb in a 300-watt socket but the output is much dimmer. Notice, please, that David met several wise women of reputation before marriage. These women were smart, intelligent, and wise until they married David. Then they disappear from the pages of history. One among many means the woman has far less influence in the life of the husband. There is limited ability for fitting when prior relationships have occurred. However, if that fit never occurred, there is a mismatch. Then the situation can be corrected, even late in marriage, as long as no one else has been brought into the relationship.

But I assure you that if two people spend that first year putting their mate first, sacrificing, discovering, and providing, there will not be any other person who can seriously challenge that marriage.

If sex is so important, who would you suppose is the best person to instruct in sexual matters? Some men and a few women would suggest a prostitute might be a good candidate, someone well experienced in the sexual appetite and how it is to be satisfied. Someone trained perhaps like the courtesans of Oriental background. They possess superior knowledge, or do they?

I would submit that the most naive virgin possesses more pure knowledge of such things than any of these. How can this be? Our age has given birth to the immortalization of whoredom. In past ages whoredom was considered evil-today we tend to glorify it. Men and women alike search out knowledge of the sexual relationship from those who trade in the sordid way of life. As startling as it may seem, those who misuse and abuse sex have no real knowledge of sex.

Since sex was created by the Lord and not Satan, true understanding must flow from the source. Certain things are known about God and may be trusted. One of the most trust worthy is that God does not reveal his truths to the evil one, nor in the hands of the evil will one discover the paths of life. One must seek knowledge of sex from its Creator not its perverter. God is the source of all knowledge. I do not think for a moment that He would trust such knowledge to such wickedness. He would give it to the person who in marriage needs and desires such wisdom.

As a counselor I have seen many times newly married people unable to understand why they feel incompatible. After all, they say we lived together two years before we got married just to see if we would be compatible. It seems marriage wipes out the prior adjustment. The nature of the marriage relationship begins with a covenant, which has certain pledges, privileges, and responsibilities. These pledges form the foundation for intimacy. One finds intimacy difficult in an atmosphere of insecurity.

Satan knows he cannot duplicate this sense of pleasure and contentment; thus he masks the purpose of sex by focusing on the outward appearance of the woman entangling the man in a web of lies. These lies lead to sexual addiction, for the imitation lacks the satisfaction of the real thing. In contrast the real thing brings fulfilling companionship. Because Satan’s substitute does not work, it is sought over and over in hopes of attaining that which it promises but fails to deliver.

Understanding this principle leads to the discovery that no immoral person possesses true knowledge of the Lord’s precious gift. God does not give knowledge of good to evil people. Satan perverts good and delivers as a substitute an immoral act incapable of providing a real sense of companionship. Rather it provides just the opposite–a deep sense of emptiness and loneliness making one’s hunger and yearning even more intense.
Thus, we say if two people live together before marriage, what they find after marriage is that no fitting took place prior to marriage because there is no commitment, and therefore no surrendering. If sex occurred with someone else, the fitting process is affected.

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A Word to the Wise

11-12-2019 – A Word to the Wise – It is amazing how often the Lord blesses me with insights as I work with people. Example: for years I have told people how to keep a prayer journal (date, time and simple prayer request on one side of the page the other side date, time and His answer and how it comes) well I was repeating that and the person was telling me about teaching her children to pray.
The Lord prompted this reply. Keep prayer journals for your kids. Have them asking the Lord and writing it down for them when those request are answered. After a great number of answered prayers give it to them so they can see what he has done and let continue to keep it themselves. This is how the child learns the power of prayer.
When should a parent stop keeping these journals? When the casket hits the bottom of the grave.

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