Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Can Depend on You

            At the Arnold Youth Retreat in Bloomfield, MO, Andy McDonald had everyone take a favorite song and rewrite it in their own words for one of the activities.  The song entitled “I Can Depend on You” written by Pat Moon in 2002 is very encouraging.  The song gains inspiration in part from Isaiah 41:10, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV).  I reworded the song like this:

            1.  When I’m in an airplane looking out over the puffy white clouds, Lord, I find you.  When I snorkel in the clear blue Caribbean, there you stand.  From snowboarding in the Colorado Rockies to fishing in the deep Atlantic Ocean, you made them, Lord they are yours to command.

            2.  On the warm sunny beach, Lord, I find you.  And in the starry moon-lit night there you stand.  Every sun, moon, star, and solar system…the universe brags on your brilliance because they fit in the palm of your hand.

            3.  In the innocence and mouths of babes, Lord, I find you.  And by your Spirit and Son, there you stand.  You sent your Son at such cost and left your Spirit to seek the lost, such love deserves nothing less than my all.

            Chorus: I can depend on you, Lord.  I can depend on you.  No matter how high or low, far or near I go, Lord I can always depend on you.

            This was a fulfilling exercise that helped bring the words of a song into focus and reshape them to relate to personal experiences.  God can be seen all around if we will just open our eyes to his glory.  In the visible attributes obvious all around and throughout history, the fact that God is dependable screams to humanity.  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19–20).  Strive for the point where you say, “I can depend on you, Lord.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hatred, Love, and Everything in Between

            Hate is a strong word.  The words “I hate you” should never come out of the mouth of Christians.  Children ought to associate the use of that phrase with a mouth full of soap or a swat on the rear-end.  How can a Christian possibly fulfill the great commission of Christ with hate for another human dwelling in their heart?  The natural opposite of hate is love.  One simply cannot uphold these opposites and still follow Christ.  It is with this in mind that Solomon wrote.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense. The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near. A rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the poverty of the poor is their ruin. The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin. Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray. The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:12–18, ESV).

            Hatred infects the heart like a cancer.  The only thing in this world we ought to hate is sin.  No matter what evil someone has done against another, Christians are called to love instead of hate.  Jesus even said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:43–45).  The ironic thing about this statement from his Sermon on the Mount is that nowhere in the scriptures is the command to “hate your enemy.”  Leviticus 19:18 commands us to love neighbors, but the concept of hating enemies was fashioned only in the minds of people, never from the mouth of God.

            Peter quotes this Proverb when he too emphasized the importance of love, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  Much more can be said for the wisdom between this inclusion of hatred, but the bottom line is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How Will You Be Remembered?

            Sunday, September 25th, a great warrior in the kingdom of God headed to Paradise.  Brother Neale Pryor will be remembered by countless people for many different reasons.  The Proverbs writer talks about two different perspectives of how someone’s life may be remembered, Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin. Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, but a babbling fool will come to ruin. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Proverbs 10:6–11, ESV).
            It can be said without a doubt that brother Pryor had blessings on his head while he journeyed through life.  As the Proverb says, our memory of him is a blessing as well due to his righteous life.  Even while he is in eternal rest, his memory inspires and convicts people to be better.  His name will be cherished in the years to come because of his character, example, and role he played in the life of the church and the world by showing others Christ.  His wisdom was evident with his diligent pursuit of God’s commands.  He shared those instructions with others in the classroom, from the pulpit, and with personal relationships speaking with grace and truth.  He certainly walked with integrity and because of that people trusted him.  He was not one to stir the pot of discord, but had a mouth of righteousness which was a “fountain of life” for all who were around him. 
            The passing of loved ones makes people consider how they themselves will be remembered.  The Proverb above has an inclusio “…the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”  When something is concealed it is covered completely or overwhelmed by something.  This is the idea here, that the mouth of the wicked is overwhelmed with violence.  There are two ways people can be remembered by: righteousness or wickedness.  Brother Pryor is remembered in righteousness.  How will you be remembered?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Which Son are You?

            A method used by Solomon in some of his proverbs included what modern commentators call an inclusio.  This technique mentions similar things at the beginning and ending of the proverb.  There is a theme between these two verses that are sealed by these book-ends.  Proverbs 10:1-5 uses this technique with the theme of a prospering family between the inclusio of a wise/prudent son and a foolish/shameful son in verses 1 & 5. 
Hear the wisdom, “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.”  Notice with each positive statement there is an adverse statement to accompany it.  Both types of sons play a part in the make-up of a family.
Godly children desire to please their parents.  Sometimes their actions may say otherwise, but they generally seek to please.  On the other hand, there are children who have no delight in making their parents proud and their actions and words speak loudly about their lack of desire.  These verses have much in common with the child who shows honor to his family and that family prospering as a result.  Not only prospering financially, but also medically.  Righteousness delivers from both death and hunger!  This reality makes one consider how raising children plays into the well-being of the family.
There are many get-rich-quick schemes out their and pills that claim to melt the weight off an unhealthy body, but Solomon enlightens us with true wisdom.  Live righteously and work diligently to bring wealth and health to you and your family.  The problem Satan poses is an alleged “quicker” way to get what we want.  Remember his deception from the very beginning though.  Anything worth having will not require you to risk your soul and will very likely take time.  Which son are you?