Proverbs Reader

You could use a bit of wisdom today couldn’t you? Take a hint from these bits from the Bible’s Proverbs.  If the shoe fits…

“The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom” (4:7). Reminds me of Barney Fife. “Here at the Rock we have two rules.  Rule number one: obey all rules!” It’s wise to seek wisdom. How? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (9:10).

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him” (26:4). If you argue with an “information-deprived” person, others can’t tell the difference between the two of you.

Know when to keep your mouth shut. “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent” (17:28).

On seduction: “With her flattering lips she seduces him. Suddenly he follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter” (7:21-22). People and thoughts will tempt you with things that do not turn out well. Then there’s this: “The ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths” (5:21).

How to mar beauty: “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion” (11:22). On the other hand, here is true beauty: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (31:30).

Which is better, love or steak? “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred” (15:17). “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (17:17). Brothers are meant to show love in adversity, not cause it!

Manage your relationships. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1). It helps to manage your own anger. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (15:18).

This is funny: “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road!’ ” (26:13). For some, there’s always a reason they can’t show up or finish the task. Successful people find ways to get stuff done.

“He who has God and everything else,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “has no more than he who has God only.” You can’t take it with you, right? “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it” (15:16).

The best proverbs offer reasons to believe. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (3:5-6).

If the shoe fits wear it, and walk on the wise, straight paths.

The Way Back

From Columbine (1999) to Sandy Hook (2012) and now Uvalde, our nation’s schoolchildren are under attack by young men. Can we find our way back from this insanity?

Not every problem has a political solution. To be sure, gun control vs. school hardening is a political debate that will continue. But it’s a debate about political band aids when a tourniquet is needed. It’s an illusion to think politics can address the cultural trauma.

An election won’t fix this because politics is not the reason young shooters are psychotic, murderous, and suicidal. Chuck Colson often observed that politics is downstream from culture. So, if the problem of mass shootings is not because of political failure, perhaps it is because the culture has lost something.

Psychiatrist and cultural critic Iain McGilchrist says we are losing a sense of belonging and personal security. In The Matter with Things, he lists six ways the culture contributes to that loss. “If you had set out to destroy the happiness and stability of a people,” he writes, “it would have been hard to improve on our current formula:

(1) remove yourself as far as possible from the natural world;

(2) repudiate the continuity of your culture;

(3) believe you are wise enough to do whatever you happen to want and not only get away with it, but have a right to it — and a right to silence those who disagree;

(4) minimize the role played by a common body of belief;

(5) actively attack and dismantle every social structure as a potential source of oppression; and

(6) reject the idea of a transcendent set of values.”

To help you unpack this, think addictive social media and identity confusion. Replace common values with individual preferences, and natural family with transient relationships. Define oppressors by race and sex. Undermine our institutions. Call dissent “hate.” And ultimately, exchange that great cornerstone of Western Civilization, Christian faith and morality, for tolerance of anything but.

Yet you are not without hope for finding meaning and happiness in this cultural moment. For anyone looking, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He offers to connect you to the Father. In that relationship you find wisdom and purpose. Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). You “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10). You are valued, and not here by accident. He has determined your time and location, “that they would seek God…and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27).

The killing of children shouts a culture’s failures. Reject the noise and insanity. Believe in and walk with your Savior who loves you. Join your fellow travelers who know the Way.

Jastrow’s Logic

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)

Or did he?  Scientists in the 20th C. assumed there must be another explanation for the origins of the universe.  Many adopted the worldview of materialism, and believed it was their duty to relieve mankind of primitive notions about origins.  That’s why Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the red shift set many scientists on edge. They knew it had theistic implications.

The red shift indicated that stars are moving outward, expanding the universe.  As physicist Robert Jastrow put it, imagine filming this expansion, then running the film in reverse. Eventually all mass, energy, and space would be reduced to a finite singularity, i.e. a beginning called the big bang in popular parlance.

Jastrow founded NASA’s Goddard Institute. He was agnostic about the existence of God. But he didn’t mind pointing out the surprisingly theistic implications of the big bang. He calls it “an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.  He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

One of his contemporaries, Stephen Hawking, posited a mathematical explanation in the field of quantum cosmology as the cause of material world. Those who look for reasons to dismiss the God explanation put their faith in Hawking, who was no doubt a brilliant scientist. But Hawking himself identified the problem with his proofs. He asked, “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” In other words, equations do not create. He may have the right equation, and equations exist in minds. For quantum cosmology to have explanatory power, it needs a mind predating the material world. And that mind had to have the power to breathe fire into it, to make something (the big bang) happen!

Jastrow supposed Albert Einstein shared his thoughts about science pointing to God. He quoted Einstein, “the harmony of natural law…reveals an intelligence,” and commented, “The beauty and simplicity of those laws…suggest a design.  A design suggest a designer. That was (Einstein’s) back door approach to the question of belief in God.”

Here is what theologians know: “In the beginning was the Word…All things came into being through Him…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1). Jesus, God the Son, is that Word. Those who looked into His face saw the One who spoke the universe into existence. Those who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). And science keeps pointing us to that same Creator!


Amish fathers let their young adult offspring explore the world outside the boundaries of their faith community. It’s a rite of passage.

It’s their “rumspringa,” translated “jumping around.” It’s a time to experience the temptations of living among the “English,” to look for a spouse, or decide if they will embrace the faith of their parents. I admire the courage of Amish fathers who release their children to either exercise responsible choices or sow wild oats.

That’s not unlike a story Jesus told about a young man who could no longer bear living at home. He demanded and received an inheritance from his father, which he used to fund his rumspringa far from home. When money ran out, he took a job feeding pigs. He was hungry enough to eat the pig food. He knew his father’s hired men had it better than him, so he went home to ask his father for a job.

He was willing to endure the humiliation of the whole household seeing him return in such a state. It was an act of repentance after learning the hard lessons of life away from father. How did the father respond? “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him” (Luke 15:20), ignoring the stench of hog pen on the son’s tattered clothes. The father showed love and forgiveness as he welcomed his son home.

In a way, life on this earth is a rumspringa. The Creator designed the world to have beauty and purpose. But it is also a place you can sow wild oats and live life your way. Life can be harsh as it teases the aroma of happiness while you slog through the muck of pig pens. Life can stink, forcing you to consider what’s real, what matters.

How do you respond when life stinks?  “We were burdened excessively beyond our strength,” Paul writes, “so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). You have a Heavenly Father who loves you. Come home.