Wisdom about Sin

I have been really enjoying my times praying through the psalms.. the structure has been a beneficial one for me. So I thought that it might be beneficial to do something similar with the book of Proverbs. Over the years I have read the book of Proverbs many many times.. for years it was my practice to read a chapter from it each day. So beginning today with the first chapter I'll briefly comment (maybe ramble a bit) about the thoughts and impressions I have as I read.. and I'll use the English Standard Version.

The first chapter of proverbs introduces the value of wisdom in the life of a believer. It also addresses sin and how it is wise to steer clear of sin.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (v7)

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is an awe inspiring event.. one that produces a righteous awe or fear in me. Knowing that God did not spare even His own son causes an awe to arise up in me. In a sense spiritual wisdom hinges on this fear or awe.

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (v10)

Being born anew does not free us from sinning. Our ability to resist sin's enticement is often depend on having our heart (innermost being) stronger than our flesh. When our heart is strong we will have the wisdom and power to not only resist sin but also to flow with God's Spirit.

Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. (v19)

Just as greed takes life away generosity gives it back to us. Developing a generous heart is the only way that we can defeat greed and the temptation to be stingy. Being generous is so much more than giving to the church.. it is a habit we develop when we tip our waiter/waitress after a meal.. it is reflected by the grace we give others when they are late for an appointment.. it is responding with gratitude when you don't have to.

If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. (v22)

This verse shouts to me of how much God wants to be a part of our lives. If we will simply cooperate with Him he will respond lavishly. I love the imagery of Him pouring His spirit on us.. not a sprinkle but a waterfall.

Creation: Literary or Literal Interpretations

Karl Giberson, executive vice president of The BioLogos Foundation, teaches a Forum on Faith and Science at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. Today he writes about the tension between the ways that we can interpret creation using two different perspectives. Here is a true story that he tells to illustrate his point:
"Wilson, ranked by Time magazine as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, grew up in a Southern Baptist home. He had a conversion experience as a child, read the Bible cover to cover more than once and worshiped with his family in a local Alabama congregation throughout his childhood. He believed in and worshiped a traditional biblical God. He affirmed creation and denied evolution.

After studying biology at The University of Alabama, however, Wilson was convinced evolution was true. He rejected his creationism and the Baptist faith of his childhood, became agnostic and even began to crusade against traditional religion. At first glance, his story seems to support the Answers in Genesis argument.

But what if Wilson had not been primed to believe that evolution was incompatible with his faith? What if he had been raised believing there are two ways to approach Genesis: an ultraliteral interpretation that assumes the text is teaching science, and a literary interpretation that assumes the text is teaching theology? The ultraliteral reading is incompatible with evolution, but the literary reading is not. Wilson could have embraced evolution and simply altered the way he read Genesis, rather than rejecting his Christianity.

Wilson's Christian faith was not destroyed because it was incompatible with evolution; it was destroyed because it was attached to a narrow ultraliteral interpretation of Genesis that made it so rigid it could not adapt."
I found the story to be an interesting one.. one that I was confronted with in my youth. I think that the problem with many on both sides of this issue is rigidity. When I think about creation I think about this verse in Hebrews:
"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."
I think that the issue is not so much the "how" of creation but the "Who" of creation. By faith we can understand that God created all things but dogmatic faith does not dictate the science of creation.. and neither does dogmatic evolutionism. I think that there is a mystery to the creation story.. we only understand in part.. we see it in glimpses through that proverbial cloudy glass.

I guess the main thing that I am trying to communicate here is that there is a unity of faith in both interpretations of Genesis.. both views agree that God is the creator.

I realize that many might hold tightly to one of these views and may want to enter into a debate on the "how" of creation.. feel free to comment but please do not expect me to debate for either interpretation.. I am not all that smart :)

Courage of the Heart: Jill's Story

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled Courage of the Heart. This morning I read Altered, the blog of Jill Hollis, and was once again blown away by the courage, transparency and vulnerability of this giant of a Christian who is dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Here are a few clips from her blog that give us a peek into the heart of this courageous woman:
I am scared. Of everything related to ALS. But also, and this is huge, really really huge for me to admit this...... That people will think less of me if I share negatively. I am sad. A lot. Will the tears ever stop? I am negative. Thoughts bombard my mind of my inability to handle this. I worry. At this particular moment, the list is long. I struggle with my humanness taking over.
I'm not eating enough and getting the nutrition that I need, so at my next clinic visit at the end of this month I will listen with a different attitude as my doctor talks about a feeding tube. I can’t even write that without freaking.
The difficulty with each of these is living with the knowledge that I am just one day closer to a horrible death with this disease that has no cure.
God is so good to me and has blessed me with just the right people in my life at just the right time.
I am thankful that I can unashamedly cry and that God always comforts me. I feel His love through people.
I’ve also mentioned before that realizing and admitting weakness is our much easier than the actual transformation.
One of the symptoms of ALS is muscle twitching. Constantly. It's hard to ignore and almost impossible to not dwell on the deterioration of another muscle. Especially as I watch it twitch and know what's coming. But I decided this morning that every time I felt a twitch, I would think of something to be thankful for.
I think emotional darkness is different than spiritual darkness. I’m not sure if I really understood that until recently and maybe that was part of the reluctance. I don’t know. But what I DO know is that each day I am feeling more and more like myself. Who I thought I lost forever.
Sometimes someone comes along that helps us remember what it means to be courageous.. what it means to be a Christian going through a horrible trial. I am thankful that I found Jill's blog several months ago.. her life has been so inspirational.. she encourages me to count it all joy as I go through trials of my own.

I recommend Jill's blog to you.. add it to your blog reader. Click here and leave Jill an encouraging comment.


I think that disappointment is rooted in two types of expectations – ‘people expectations’ and ‘life expectations’. People often do not act the way that we expect them to … they let us down and disappoint us. I think that this kind of disappointment is addressed by forgiving people, renouncing lies and repenting behavior. In the last several years the Spirit has done several deep works in my life in this area.

Life expectations however are different.. they are deeper.. they have a somewhat direct link to our expectations of the Lord. We read..

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

..interpret it with rose colored glasses.. and we are disappointed when harm comes to us, prosperity escapes us and our future seems bleak. I still struggle with this kind of disappointment but not as much as in the past.

I think that we set ourselves up for this kind of disappointment when we are young and naive. We take religious formulas and thinking to ‘logical’ conclusions and are disappointed when they don’t work for us. I think that we sometimes use faith to ‘escape from’ instead of ‘deal with’ hard reality. Interpreting present painful life in light of the truth of God’s love and providence is difficult at best. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says:

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?”

Paul’s response to this hardship is found a few verses later when he says:

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The older I get the more I can resonate with Paul in a small way. Paul accepted sufferings not only as a part of life but also as God’s plan to refine him in weakness. God seemed to have brought him to a place where he embraced every aspect of life and did not lose hope when it was not as he expected it to be. I’ll end with an insight into Paul’s life perspective from Philippians:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

May the contentment of Jesus Christ be with you today through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.