Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's a Law You Can't Escape

Proverbs 5

Some time in middle school I learned the basic scientific law that says, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". So, if you throw a baseball into a window it will create a significant reaction - a loud sound wave will reverberate, shards of glass will fly down, out and in, and some unhappy home owner will have a sudden spike in their blood pressure. God's law says, If we mess with immorality, especially adultery, we will experience devastating consequences. We need to get it in our thick heads that we will not get by with immorality and we will not escape the on slot of its ravishing results.

Let these words echo in our mind from Proverbs 5. Adultery will end in bitterness (4a), mortal wounds (4b-5), instability (6), depletion of your strength, your wealth, and the best of your youth (9-10), your physical health will be ravished (11), your character will be left in utter ruin (14), and in the end it will kill you (23).

The tools for victory are simple: 1) give yourself fully to the words of wisdom (5:1-2, 7). Remember all the active words of a wise listener in chapter four? 2) Take drastic measures to stay away, avoid, run from temptations to immorality. "Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house" (5:8). Jesus said it even stronger, "cut off the hand that makes you stumble" and "tear out the eye that makes you stumble" (Matt. 5:29-30). Turn off, unplug, throw out, close your eyes, look the other way, bounce your eyes, run, flee - you fill in the rest. Just do whatever it takes. 3) Fill yourself up with intimacy and love for your wife (15-19). Spend quality, undivided time with her. Love her fully. Express your gratitude to her and for her. Give yourself fully to her in every way - your time, attention, affection. Have sex with her frequently. 4) Finally, and most importantly, be aware of God's watchful eye (21). He knows and sees and is not winking, ignoring or avoiding. He will respond to our rebellion and rejection of His ways in righteousness and justice. The "when" and "how" is determined by his sovereign grace and mercy.

Don't push it, men! Don't push Him!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Listening to the Voice of Wisdom

"Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding" (2:2).

Wisdom flows out of a right relationship with God (1:7;2:6) and key to any relationship is the skill of listening. Repeatedly wisdom calls for a listening ear and a receptive heart (2:2; 3:1; 4:1, 4; 5:1). When I think of a good listener I think of skills like discipline, self-control, self-denial, a love and respect for the person talking, a hunger to learn, a zeal for knowledge, time, patience, freedom from distrations, effort, focus, intentionality, and humility. Indeed you will find these same qualities as prerequisites to the pursuit of a life of wisdom. Look at the action words used in chapter four used to describe the pursuit of wisdom and her words.

  • Hold fast; keep (4)
  • Acquire; Don't forget (5)
  • Don't forsake; love her (6)
  • Prize her (8)
  • Accept my sayings (10)
  • Take hold; guard her (13)
  • Give attention; incline your ear (20)
  • Keep them in the midst of your heart (21)
  • Look directly ahead (25)
  • Gaze fixed straight in front of you (25)
  • Watch the path (26)
Is this the kind of focused, aggressive, intentional listening that I'm engaged in on a daily basis? Not only, how am I listening, but who am I listening to? As I've pa roused Proverbs these past few months I've noticed these sources of wisdom.

1. God and His Word (1:7; 2:6-7; 8:22; 9:10; 15:33; 16:20). He is the origin of all wisdom. But he also uses people as His channel to disperse wisdom.
2. Fathers and mothers (1:8,9; 23:22-25)
3. The Humble (11:2)
4. Wife (12:4, 14:1; 18:22; 31:10-11)
5. The Righteous (12:5-6, 26)
6. Counselors (12:15; 13:10; 19:20)
7. The Wise (13:14, 20)

Am I actively engaging, inviting, pursuing, seeking these voices of wisdom? This all requires time, discipline and selfless living. Most importantly, it requires me to listen with my heart.

Here are some practical ways I've sought to engage the voice of wisdom.
  1. I regularly download sermon podcasts and listen to them while I'm exercising, running, mowing the lawn, etc. My favorites are John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler and James McDonald.
  2. I have a couple older, wiser men that I meet with on a regular basis to receive their counsel, advice and knowledge. When I first came to my most current ministry position I asked several people who they thought were the wisest and most respected men in the church. I asked two of these men to meet with me on a monthly basis.
  3. My wife is probably my best source of wisdom. No one knows me and my life circumstances better than her. We love to walk our neighborhood in the evenings and talk about life.
  4. A couple years ago I began the discipline of writing in a notebook in conjunction with my other spiritual disciplines. You'll notice I didn't use the word "journal" intentionally. I've tried journaling in the past with a very minute measure of success. The majority of us men are not writers. What I'm talking about is engaging God and the Scriptures with pen and paper. This is very broad in scope. Sometimes I write a prayer in response to my time with God. Other times I will write out a verse that has been meaningful. Most frequently I will write down one thought that God has spoken to me from His Word that I need to apply and carry with me that day. Many times I'll incorporate different Bible study techniques, like recording observations, key words, key verses, outlining, summarizing, etc. The bottom line is writing engages my ears, my mind, and my heart.
  5. Reading books, especially in conjunction with others has been a wonderful source of wisdom. Currently, my son Kyle and I are reading Crazy Love by Fancis Chan. I just began reading Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughs with a group of men I meet with every other Monday morning at Panera.
  6. This blog has been a source of wisdom for me as it has encouraged me to dig deeper in Proverbs.
Are you listening to the voice of wisdom? She is a voice that will lead you to God and to the fullness of life He offers (see Proverbs 2:10-21).