On the Knee of Jesus

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

My understanding of this proverb has been fluid over the years–especially after raising four kids.

At first, I took it literally. Teach your kid about God and he’ll be a believer throughout his lifetime. Then the family ministry folks stressed it meant to guide him in the way he (or she, of course) is bent. So if your kid is naturally strong-willed, take this into account. But what kid isn’t naturally strong-willed? Then with future vocations in mind, the philosophy was to resist trying to change a future artist into an accountant, but to make sure he’s a godly artist.

Well, I guess I’m back to what this verse likely means. How many ways are there that God really cares about? The correct answer: His way. We’ve only got a few years to “train up” and we’d better dedicate ourselves to teaching the essentials. What are God’s core values? Well, read the Proverbs for starters. The reality check to parents is, your child is bent towards evil. Face it.

So  model God’s ways, teach on all occasions, relying on God’s power and wisdom. And don’t go soft on discipline. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” I will let this verse stand without comment.

I like the way my dad handled various incidents worthy of corporal punishment. You tell the truth, or fess up, and he stopped after the stern lecture–which could itself be terrifying! But he was pleased that I told the truth. Think about the psychology of that methodology. Kind of like Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

One last thing. Pray a lot. Sure, kids have minds of their own, but we pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that mind as soon as possible. So account for the kid’s proclivities, but major on the majors. Get him to the finish line, and that’s on the knee of Jesus.

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Only Fools Rush In

3 The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.
4 The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches, honor and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
He who guards himself will be far from them. Proverbs 22:3-4

The perfect illustration of these verses is Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Hearing her alluring invitation and sizing up the situation, he bolted.

11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. Genesis 39:11-12

The prudent man is shrewd in a good way. He can sense danger and foresee consequences in the scenarios of life and get out before it’s too late. In Joseph’s case, his humility and fear of the Lord ultimately resulted in riches, honor and life, but he underwent punishment still, perhaps to show uswe get a glimpse of what the punishment could be. Obviously, he was protected by God, since most of us, if king, would have a would-be rapist strung up.

It’s easy to speculate that the naive, the fool, would have considered this a rare opportunity and gone for it. He’d think about the “thorns and snares” later.

Our attitude in everything questionable, certainly everything unquestionably evil, should be, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)

Guiding the prudent man is his reverential fear and keen understanding of God’s ways. Turning in the manual to this particular scenario, the explicit instruction is always run away and hide.

The question always before us is am I a prudent man or a perverse man?

We need to stop long enough to consider the ramifications of our actions, and then do the right thing. This is what God wants us to do.

Only fools rush in.

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Muckety-mucks and Bigwigs

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have a common bond, the Lord is the maker of them all. Proverbs 22:1-2

My dad used to remind me when having to confront the muckety-mucks, the bigwigs, the really “up there’s,” that they put their pants on the same way I did.

Here the Wise Man points out the obvious, that the Lord made both the rich and poor.

What’s to be coveted, protected at all costs, is your good name.

Everyone’s signed up these days with a service to find their roots. This emanates from a pride in one’s name. You hope to find someone famous in your line. It might be better to not find someone infamous!

I would hope that I check out of this life having not sullied the Reynolds good name.

Now that’s an inheritance you can pass on that will stand the test of eternity, one that “moths and rust will not corrupt.” (Matthew 6:19)

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Blind Ambition

Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man? Proverbs 20:6

Who can find a man more miserable than your average successful college football coach. They appear to be never satisfied. They can always do better. There’s always more work to be done. More film to be watched. More scheming. More recruits to call. More boosters to pacify. If there are roses near by, they won’t stop and smell them. They stay at an acute level of stress, with occasional wild fits of sideline rage, that would kill most men.

More to the point, they’re never content with where they are, yet they’re paid millions. They spend more time on the carousel than off it. And for what? The elusive unbeaten season? Obviously that’s not enough. A championship trophy? Nope. That’s hoisted one day and the next he’s handing the flight attendant his plane ticket.

All for a game. Perhaps all for money. Perhaps these men are blinded by ambition.

There have been legends who have worn distinctive fedoras–or visors–who have stayed long enough in one place for the field to be named after them. But by in large, coaches are a bunch of malcontents paid by malcontents (boosters, universities) to coach a team full of malcontents (athletes) to be watched and followed by thousands and thousands of perennial malcontents (fans).

Who would want that job? Who wants that kind of legacy? How can you break that many hearts and sleep at night? Maybe if your pillow is stuffed with cash. But the evidence is overwhelming that you’re anything but loyal!

If it’s your “dream job,” try staying put long enough for the boosters to break out the stencils.

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Process Crime

A trustworthy witness will not lie, but a false witness utters lies. Proverbs 14:5

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will not escape. Proverbs 19:5

A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous. Proverbs 14:25

One of a prosecutor’s favorite tricks is to catch an otherwise innocent man in a lie. This “process” crime is used as leverage to obtain evidence against an even bigger fish.

Going in, the witness should know that perjury is a serious crime, just by reciting the oath. But invariably, they think they can get away with it. And they don’t.

Time and time again we’ve seen this trick used in this era of special prosecutors, with grand success.

The maxim is, always tell the truth. Not only is it easier to remember, it’s the quickest way out of a jam.

Why can’t the best and the brightest understand this? It’s baffling.

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Obsession

The saying, “the bigger they are the harder they fall,” is true only in the sense that it’s harder to escape notice. Lately we’ve witnessed a series of famous men plummeting from the peaks of fame and fortune in one fell swoop.

Some say this is all about an obsession with power and control. Yes, but this is the half of it. It’s all about an obsession with sex, the abuse of power to acquire it, and the absence of any semblance of self control. These are, pure and simple, clear cases of men in perpetual states of unbridled lust.

…this natural drive must be reined in early or it will reign supreme.

Every man has been naturally wired to reproduce. But this natural drive must be reined in early or it will reign supreme. Unabated preoccupation with sex will certainly drive a man to take greater and greater risks. Sooner or later he’ll be caught with his pants down.

And don’t think for a second it’s just the rich and famous perpetrating these acts. Jesus set the bar high with his comment made famous by an ex-president about “having lust in your heart.” There are millions of men out there “groping with their eyes,” around the clock. In fact, the road to perdition can start with one curious Google search.

In this God-ordained union exhilaration can be experienced at “mind-blowing” levels without guilt or repercussions.

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God has provided a perfect way to satisfy this drive, and it’s a lifelong obsession with one woman. There are no restrictions in this realm within the boundaries of mutual love, honor and respect. It’s called the undefiled marriage bed. (Hebrews 13:4) To keep it that way requires supernatural self control, the kind only God can provide. This power redirects the primal urges back to one woman. In this God-ordained union exhilaration can be experienced at “mind-blowing” levels without guilt or repercussions.

Outside of Jesus, Solomon was the wisest man who ever tread this earth. He had thousands of women. None of his passions went unfulfilled. Yet, he wrote these words in Proverbs 5:15-23 of the way it really should be. Too bad he had to learn the hard way.

15 Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
20 For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He watches all his paths.
22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
23 He will die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

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Five Stars

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:3

StarsIf you’re like me, your purchases are value-driven. You want to know what’s the best thing out there. Past generations just stuck with a trusted brand from a department store. Nowadays we seek advice in the on-line opinions of others–even with sales people all around us. We studiously read the reviews. Truth is, stars matter! Here in Psalm 18–please read it all!–David gives the Lord five stars.

Some background on David’s dilemma first.

This ruddy young upstart, reported to have killed wild animals with his bare hands, even a giant with one smooth stone, yet a minstrel and poet laureate, was caught in the snares of death. He’d been hunted down by a king bent on vengeance, fueled by bitter jealousy, and he was terrified. With the “torrents of ungodliness” about to engulf him, he cried out in his distress to his God, and his God heard him. Immediately, the Lord “sped on the wings of the wind,” under the cover of darkness, to David’s aid, and crushed the opposition.

David was blown away, and he wanted to sing the Lord’s praises. He said this of his God. He’s my strength. He’s my rock. He’s my fortress. He’s my refuge. He’s my shield. He’s my stronghold. And he’s my salvation. He’s “worthy to be praised.” No doubt a favorable review. But he went on.

My God made my steps sure and agile like those of a deer on the crags of a mountain. Where there was no footing, he made a foothold. When there was no light, he illumined the way. He guided me with his right hand on the slippery slopes.

Then his review turned to the nuances, what the buyer needed to know to get the most out of the Most High.

You’ve got to read the manual, he wrote. You’ve got to follow the instructions! “For all his ordinances were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.” (v. 22) There’s no guarantee that you’ll be delivered just because you’re righteous and blameless. I recall Christ on the cross as an example. But you can pave the way for rescue, reward and repayment by keeping his ways (v. 21), by staying humble, faithful and obedient in times of trial. We want maximum blessings don’t we?

Today’s technology has made every thing you might buy “smart.” To get the most out of our purchases, you need to know and employ all the features. Here we have first-hand testimony of what God can and will do for us.

I don’t know about you, but I want to navigate life sure-footed and blessed.

From what I know from my experience, I give him all the stars in heaven!

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