THE UPSIDE DOWN SECRET

WHY DO I SO OFTEN RESIST THE FIRST PROMPTING OF HIS SPIRIT? I HAVE BELIEVED THE ENEMY’S LIE THAT GOD IS  BENT ON DEPRIVING ME. YET HE SAYS HE LOVES ME WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE I NEED NOT FEAR OBEYING HIM. ISAIAH SAYS THAT LOVING WHAT HE LOVES WILL  MAKE MY LIGHT RISE IN THE DARKNESS, WILL TURN MY GLOOM INTO NOONDAY, AND WILL SATISFY MY DEEPEST DESIRES! (ISAIAH 58:10-11) WE FEAR POURING OURSELVES OUT TO THE POOR, THE PRISONER, THE FATHERLESS… BUT IT’S HIS UPSIDE-DOWN SECRET. THE MORE WE FOLLOW HIS HEART THE MORE HIS HEART GROWS IN US SURROUNDING US WITH HIS PRESENCE.  When Steve took some extra training in Fargo for a year, we were blessed to have Greg Scharf, the back-up speaker for John Stott, as our pastor. (Our own Renee and Wanda were blessed by that […]

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HE WHO GOES OUT WEEPING

Last week, as we began this new journey, we considered times when God fills our life with such joy, that we feel like we are “dreaming.” In Psalm 126, the Israelites are looking back to those times, to that “reservoir” of remembrance, for now they are in the desert of suffering. This is a psalm we’ve studied before, and some of this will be review, but oh, a review we constantly need, for this life is full of trouble. We constantly need to remember, as the hymn we will hear this week says, “earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” One day, “he who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing, will return with shouts of joy, bringing sheaves with him.” Notice it doesn’t just say “he who goes out weeping,” but rather, “he who goes out weeping, bearing […]

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HE FILLED OUR MOUTH WITH LAUGHTER

               A NEW JOURNEY! AS I TELL YOU OUR STORY, I KNOW YOU WILL SEE THREADS OF YOUR STORY, FOR WE BELONG TO THE SAME WEAVER, WHO WEAVES THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES. AS I PONDER THE WAYS OF THIS WEAVER, I ASK YOU TO COME ALONG, AND PONDER WITH ME, THAT YOU MAY KNOW HIM AND LOVE HIM BETTER, AND BECOME MORE OF WHAT HE HAS CALLED YOU TO BE, NO MATTER YOUR CALLING IN LIFE. HE IS A WONDROUS GOD WHO HAS DONE GREAT THINGS, EVEN AT TIMES, FILLING OUR MOUTH WITH LAUGHTER! In the summer of 2010, all three of my daughters and my only daughter-in-law gave birth to baby girls. When the four mothers appeared together in public, each carrying a newborn snuggled in a sling, questions would fly from curious onlookers:             “Quadruplets?”             “No […]

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A WOMAN OF BEAUTY (PVBS. 31)

ARTISTS TELL YOU TO “DRAW WHAT YOU SEE,” NOT WHAT YOU “THINK YOU SEE.” AND BIBLE SCHOLARS WOULD TELL YOU TO READ WHAT IS THERE INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU THINK IS THERE WHEN YOU COME TO FAMILIAR PASSAGES. This week I want you to really look at the Proverbs 31 woman, for so many have come to this passage with a picture already in their mind of a mousy “Bill Gothard” kind of woman. Considering the patriarchal culture in which this was written, instead, she was a paradigm changer! She reminds me of the 7 women in the new book by Eric Metaxas: women like Susannah Wesley and Rosa Parks who cared intensely about their families, but also about a lost, hurting, and unjust world. What was their secret and the secret of the Proverbs 31 woman? She feared the […]

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AGUR! PAINTER OF PICTURES (#15)

PROVERBS 30 IS SOMETIMES KNOWN AS THE BOOK OF AGUR. HIS PROVERBS, FILLED WITH POETIC PICTURES, PENETRATE THE HEART, FOR IT IS TRUE, THAT A PICTURE CAN BE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, TAPPING INTO THE RIGHT BRAIN AND FALLING TO THE HEART. YOU MAY REMEMBER WHEN WE STUDIED THE SANCTITY OF SEX, LOOKING AT AGUR’S PICTURES: Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky; the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. Do you see the hidden pearl in Agur’s pictures? In each case, two different but complimentary creations become one, moving in a beauty that would not be possible without the other. The fourth example is so profound Agur […]

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HEART IDOLS & PROVERBS (P & P # 14)

In our last study on the fool, one of you asked: “Since fools are so dangerous, why would we ignore the warning signs?” I thought about the young woman who saw the warning signs weeks before the wedding that she might, indeed, be marrying an abusive fool. All the preparations had been made for this destination wedding. It was too late to cancel: the airplane reservations, the dresses, the flowers, the banquet… Her idols of comfort and approval rose up. So she deceived herself, justifying his temper tantrums, his swearing, and his abuse. She kept silent and married him. TO HER GREAT REGRET. WHY DO WE IGNORE ANY OF THE WARNINGS OF PROVERBS? It’s always a heart idol. The sin beneath the sin that causes us to deceive ourselves and sail into disaster. This week, for example, we’ll study this […]

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WHY WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THE BIBLICAL FOOL (2 Week Study)

WHY IS IT VITAL THAT WE DISCERN WHEN WE ARE DEALING WITH A TRUE FOOL? FIRST, WE MUST BE SURE, FOR JESUS SAID CALLING A BROTHER A FOOL CAN PUT YOU IN DANGER OF HELLFIRE. A TRUE CHILD OF GOD CANNOT BE A FOOL, AS YOU WILL SEE, THOUGH SOMEONE MAY BE RELIGIOUS AND BE A FOOL. WE MUST LEARN TO DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEHAVING FOOLISHLY (which we all, even children of God, do) & BEING A TRUE FOOL. SECOND, WHEN WE SEE ALL THE RED FLAGS FOR A TRUE FOOL, WE MUST BE ON GUARD, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS US HOW DANGEROUS FOOLS CAN BE. IGNORING THE DANGER OF FOOLS IS AKIN TO WHAT THESE PARENTS DID IN PHOTOGRAPHING THEIR BABY CRAWLING NEAR THIS PRECIPICE. Author Jan Silvious told me once that she thought she was born to […]

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THE HEART, THE HEART, THE HEART (P & P 12)

PROVERBS KEEPS TELLING US: IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE HEART OUR OWN LIZZY PLEADED FOR A PLAY–DOH HEART: MALLEABLE IN THE HANDS OF THE POTTER   IT’S NOT JUST IN PROVERBS — IT’S THROUGHOUT: EZEKIEL: A HEART OF STONE OR A HEART OF FLESH SOLOMON: A FOOLISH HEART OR A WISE HEART JESUS: A HEART THAT IS LIKE POOR SOIL OR RICH SOIL THIS SUMMER I SAW THAT GOOD SOIL IN AMY, A YOUNG WOMAN WHO JOINED OUR WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY. IT WAS SO STRIKING, SO RARE, AND SO BEAUTIFUL, IT TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. Amy is young, vibrant, and passionate. When she said she’d like to join our evangelistic study I was both pleased and cautious, for she’s like this little flame that can light up the room or overpower it. The first time she came I could tell […]

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WHEN THE FAMILY UNRAVELS… (P & P # 11)

AFTER CENTURIES, THE ROAD FROM FATHER KNOWS BEST TO MODERN FAMILY HAS BEEN SHOCKINGLY SHORT AND WHEN THE FAMILY, THE CELL OF SOCIETY, UNRAVELS, SO DOES THE WORLD. (For those interested, here’s an excellent secular article from a British scholar) THE EFFECTS OF REDEFINING THE FAMILY BUT THIS ISN’T JUST ABOUT REDEFINING MARRIAGE, IT IS ABOUT A LACK OF RESPECT WITHIN THE FAMILY. IT’S ABOUT CHILDREN NOT HONORING THEIR PARENTS. IT’S ABOUT PARENTS NOT HONORING GOD’S PLAN TO TRAIN THEIR CHILDREN IT’S ABOUT WIVES NOT RESPECTING THEIR HUSBANDS IT’S ABOUT HUSBANDS NOT SACRIFICING FOR THEIR FAMILIES WHY IS IT THAT WHEN THE FAMILY UNRAVELS, THE WORLD UNRAVELS? BECAUSE WE’VE UPSET GOD’S NATURAL ORDER. I LIVE ON A GREAT LAKE. HOW I REMEMBER DECADES OF DEAD ALEWIVES COVERING THE SHORE They fouled the air, they fouled the beauty, and they changed […]

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IS IT REALLY POSSIBLE TO EXPERIENCE FRIENDSHIP ON THIS BLOG? (PROVERBS AND PARABLES #10)

What we long for, Proverbs tells us, is faithful friends who will let us in, and who won’t let us down. (Pvbs. 20:6) Who of us cannot identify with the yearning Anne of Green Gables expressed? I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life… a bosom friend — an intimate friend, you know — a really kindred spirit friend to whom I can confide my inmost soul. Our natural tendency, however, is to turn a good gift into an ultimate gift, expecting the gift to be what only God can be. And when we do that, we smother the friendship, and the friend flees for air. This proverb, while it makes me laugh, is all too true. We’ve crossed the line into relational idolatry when we expect someone to be what only God can be, and press in so close […]

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THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 9)

  I think back to those first moments of a new friendship, when my heart flutters like a school girl, for I have the sense that God is intertwining my heart with a kindred spirit friend. That’s how it was with Ann. We were having coffee together for the first time. She was telling me her story, how she had read T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” in college and didn’t want a hollow life. I told her I’d read John Donne’s “Death be Not Proud,” and wondered how he could be so unafraid of death. We smiled at each other, warmth welling up from hearts full of Him. Then we talked about the topic that was huge in the seventies: feminism. I asked her where she stood as a Christian. She said, “I’m somewhere between Marabel Morgan and Letha Scanzoni.” […]

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THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH ARE IN THE TONGUE (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 8)

SWEET SUMMER DAYS MY CHILDREN AND MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN ARE VISITING THE CABIN  BUT I CAN RUIN A PERFECT DAY IN A MOMENT  WITH A CARELESS WORD TO MY ADULT DAUGHTER: FORGETTING THE POWER OF THE TONGUE TO PIERCE THE HEART. DEATH AND LIFE, PROVERBS TELLS US, IS IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE AND WILL AFFECT NOT ONLY OUR HEARER’S HEART, BUT OUR OWN. THIS WEEK’S LESSON APPLIES TO ALL, BUT I HAVE BEEN REFLECTING ON THE ADULT MOTHER/DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP. MY MOTHER HAD THREE DAUGHTERS   AND I HAVE THREE DAUGHTERS SO I SHOULD REMEMBER HOW I LONGED FOR MY MOTHER’S BLESSING, AND HOW A CARELESS WORD FROM HER COULD CRUSH ME. SO WHY CAN I NOT CONTROL MY OWN TONGUE CONSISTENTLY WITH MY OWN DAUGHTERS? ONE OF MY DAUGHTERS TOLD ME LAST WEEK HOW SHE LONGED FOR MY […]

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HEALING A WOUNDED SPIRIT (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 7)

“IN THIS WORLD,” JESUS SAID, “YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE.” BUT WHEN THE SKY OPENS UP, AND TROUBLE COMES POURING DOWN, OUR SPIRITS CAN BECOME WOUNDED. WHEN WE ADOPTED OUR DAUGHTER ANNIE, OUR ELEVEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER SALLY WAS EXCITED AT FIRST. SHE HAD LONGED FOR A SISTER. But then Sally said, “I felt like all the attention shifted from me to her.” She slipped into a deep depression. Her cheerful spirit disappeared. Her weight dropped. Her nights were sleepless as she wept into her pillow. I couldn’t understand for we were trying so hard to shower love on Sally as well as Anne, and we loved her so. I said to Steve, “I don’t understand why she can’t just snap out of it!” Steve said, “Would you tell a person who has the flu to ‘just snap out of it?’” He […]

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APPLYING THE GOSPEL TO PROVERBS PROPER (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 6)

THIS WEEK WE MOVE FROM THE INTRODUCTION (1-9) INTO PROVERBS PROPER (10-31):  ABSOLUTE TREASURES OF WISDOM THAT WILL LEAD TO A FRUITFUL LIFE. PROVERBS ARE NUGGETS OF WISDOM  OTHER RELIGIONS HAVE NUGGETS OF WISDOM AS WELL The other day I was sharing in study that I had not really intentionally witnessed to Vicki’s husband at pickleball, but that instead he kept coming to me with questions as we sat on the sidelines. Vicki quipped: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Someone asked, “Is that in the Bible?” “No,” Vicki said, “It was Buddha.” We laughed. And yet I thought about how I have seen that happen. I thought about the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch! He was ready and God whisked Philip to his side.  Teachers of world religions have wisdom, for there is “common grace.” Sometimes there […]

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HOW DO WE DISCERN THE VOICE OF WISDOM IN THIS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE OR IN LIFE IN GENERAL? (Proverbs and Parables # 5)

WHO IS THE WOMAN IN MICHELANGELO’S PORTRAIT WHOM GOD HAS ENCIRCLED WITH HIS FREE ARM? Dr. Ellen Davis, in her Westminister Commentary, believes it is “the woman wisdom who was at his side in creation.” We are coming to the close of the first part of Proverbs, the introduction that keeps contrasting the call of the woman folly with the call of the woman wisdom. Many believe that it is Jesus who is described in Proverbs 8. Others believe it is the wisdom of the Lord personified. Either way, it is the voice of the Lord. But how do we hear His voice? How do we discern if He is really speaking to us or if we are imagining it? I see two very important principles. 1. It must agree with God’s Word. (And we must know how to interpret Scripture — […]

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