There has been a gap in my writing and posting in the past week. I had a posting written on the January 5th, but It just did not fit, and clearly, God felt the same way about it because every time I thought of publishing it something prevented it from happening. That and Pat getting sick Sunday morning got me out of the rhythm. But this morning was more back to normal. My wife Pat is better, and my focus is better.
Head of Trail
The past few weeks during the cold snap, (anything for me below 20º is a cold snap), I have been listening to YouTube videos with quite a bit of open-air preaching. Other teachings came from some of my favorite preachers, and the thing that has been nagging at me has been the response by “Christians” to the open-air preachers. The responses are heartbreaking.
These guys are not threatening their audience; they are preaching the Gospel. They preach the absolute authority of the Bible. They preach;
John 14:6 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
But the reaction of the “Christians” just messes me up. They talk about “their god” is not that way. They claim that there is more than one way to heaven. They claim to be “good” people… at least better than most.
As I listened to these videos, all I could think of is Biblical Illiteracy.
As I listened to the responses, I was humbled by the lack of understanding people had for the Word of God. Then I looked back on my 52 years preceding my rebirth, and I was in that same boat. I had been confronted by the same folks, (not on camera), telling me the same things and I responded the same way with maybe a bit more attitude. I was so sure of myself. I didn’t need a preacher to tell me about anything. I knew what I needed to know about God. I prayed when I was in enough trouble and the rest I handled on my own: at least that is what I told myself.
But that all changed, and I thank God for it every day. He drew me in, and the old man died, and the new man was born again in Christ Jesus and to say I am thankful is an immeasurable understatement. But because of the work, the Holy Spirit does in me He revealed a piece of the puzzle I have been struggling with in Proverbs.
Proverbs 1:22 with the Help of Timothy Keller
I had gotten behind on reading my Keller devotional “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life.” But I am thankful for that because I may not have put the 8-10th together had I read them every day, and I think this is something God wanted me to see all together. These three days covered Proverbs 1:22
Proverbs 1:22 (ESV)
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Keller provided the Hebrew word for the fools mentioned in verse 22 and explained them each. And as I read each day all three were far too familiar, but for me to face them honestly was important for me.
The Mocker or Scoffer
Keller explains in the January 8 devotional that foolishness is not a mental disorder but a function of attitude. The goal of the mocker or scoffer is to debunk everything. At their core is pride. Keller called it High Pride. He also pointed out that often these folks are seen to be wise in the eyes of the world while being foolish in God’s eyes. We are not wise when we take things down. We are cynical and hanging around with people like that can harden us and close our minds to seeing the good in anything.
I was so there for so long. I had such a sharp tongue and could be so cynical. But until Christ Jesus entered my heart I did not see it. I was blind to the pride that drove the cynic in me. Now I look back, and I see that the negative attributes are easy to pick out of things. If you are wrong nobody is angry. In fact, often they are glad you pointed out something that could be a problem. But after a while, that becomes all you see, and when Christ Jesus opens your eyes, there is so much more to see.
The Mocker and the Word
The frightening thing about who I was when I fit so nicely in the place of the Mocker or Scoffer was that I did not think I needed the Word. I knew enough to get by. I had gone to church, and I knew who God was. I was the guy James spoke to in his letter.
James 2:19 (ESV)
19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
The only thing is that I was not smart enough to shudder. I was filled with pride that I did not even understand because I had spent no time in the Word.
Had I been in the Word I would have known how futile pride is. I would have known Proverbs 8
Proverbs 8:13 (ESV)
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
But those things eluded me because I knew God and had no time for His Word. He was my emergency device, not my Lord. He was there to get me out of a tight spot.
The Gullible Fool
The Fool the Keller covered on the 9th was the gullible fool. The Hebrew word meant Simple or Gullible. If you are this kind of fool, you believe anything. I never really thought of myself as gullible, but you know as I thought about it this morning there were times when I experimented with religions. Sort of like Paul said in Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
My parents will attest to that. In my youth I was crazy, and I did get wrapped up in some crazy religions. But until I thought about it this morning I had not considered having a weakness here in being simple or gullible, but I did.
The main Hebrew word used for fools in proverbs according to Keller means to be obstinate. This fool was unable to gain sufficient knowledge to be corrected because he was wise in his own eyes. He isn’t open to new ideas. I cannot help but see pride at work here too. A closed mind is so easy to lock down. We get so busy in a discussion (or argument) planning what to say next we do not hear the other persons response. We hear only enough to jumble it up to match our preconception.
This was hard for me. I would argue to win in any situation. Now I realize that nobody wins in those situations… nobody. The only difference between that kind of a debate and a fist fight is that there are no visible cuts or bruises.
Our example is Christ Jesus. We stand on the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit guide us in love. I like what Paul told the Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As I reflect on all of this that I studied and read this morning, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for God’s Word and His Holy Spirit that guides me to a better understanding of His Word. I know that without daily study and prayer it would be like going without food or water. How do I know? January 7 in Keller’s book covered Proverbs 1:22 as well, but I had read it Saturday and forgot that quickly.
I must be in prayer and the Word every day as much as I must drink water every day.
Father, I pray that I will stay focused on Your Word and Prayer. I pray that you will strengthen me that I do not fall into distractions of this world and return to my old ways but hold fast to you in all that I do. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen!