It’s a Thanksgiving Sermon, Charlie Brown

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Do you have any holiday traditions? I haven’t been to a family thanksgiving get-together in a while, but I imagine things like watching football with my uncles, if there was no snow – maybe playing horseshoes, and of course my aunt’s delicious pies. Family would gather in different areas of my aunt and uncle’s home and talk and catch-up. When I was really young, my sister and I would play games with our cousins – “Chutes and Ladders” and “Chinese checkers” were some of my favorites. One thing that we would do once we got home that night…if we hadn’t missed watching it on TV was the “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” Special. Originally broadcast in 1973, this family favorite was such a tradition for so many families, TV stations just had to play it on Thanksgiving. Of course now, we have it on blu-ray but back in the day the best you could do was to record it on your VHS tape and watch it back next year…commercials and all.

Jacki, the girls and I watch this on Thanksgiving and the story is a typical Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang cartoon. (You can get a bit of side-shenanigans from Snoopy and Woodstock as well.)

Today I wanted to reflect on the biblical topic of giving thanks and use this film as a frame of reference. If you haven’t watched it yet: spoiler alert! The movie’s been out for 48 years! What have you been waiting for? 

The word “Thanksgiving” begs the question:

Thankful for what?

I’m sure if Charles M. Shultz was still alive, he’d be thankful people still watch and enjoy his creations. What might Charlie Brown be thankful for?

In the film, Charlie and his sister Sally are going over to their grandmother’s for Thanksgiving meal. They’re just kids! They probably don’t need to do anything other than show up. 

Question: Have you ever been invited to something and felt like you needed to do something, bring something…contribute in some way to justify your invitation? 

IF your answer is yes, then I have news for you: you don’t have to do ANYTHING.

Just like Charlie and Sally, guests aren’t required to do anything other than show up and enjoy the meal set before them. Now perhaps Sally and Charlie helped and maybe there was an expectation of everyone pitching in…but all we know for sure was that they were invited to enjoy a meal on Thanksgiving day. And when you receive something, especially one you did nothing to earn or deserve – (like a thanksgiving meal) Hopefully you respond with thankfulness for what was provided.   

“Dear Lord, thank you for providing this food. Amen.”

You may hear something like that on Thursday. You might hear something like that every time you sit down for a meal. Thankfulness is a response for… 

What has been provided.

Let’s look at a biblical example for a moment

Daniel prayed to God a prayer of thanksgiving for what God had given him. What was that?

Wisdom and Power

“I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:

    You have given me wisdom and power,

you have made known to me what we asked of you,

    you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 2:23 NIV

So Daniel recognized his wisdom and power were not from his own hard work and determination. He didn’t play his cards right and the result is wisdom and power. Daniel received them as a gift and his response was thankfulness.

In another example, King David was thankful for God’s…

Wonderful Deeds. Psalm 9:1-6 says: 

1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;

    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;

    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

3 My enemies turn back;

    they stumble and perish before you.

4 For you have upheld my right and my cause,

    sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.

5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;

    you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,

    you have uprooted their cities;

    even the memory of them has perished.

Psalm 9:1-6 NIV

For context, that selection says that it is set to the tune of “The Death of the Son.” I can’t imagine it would be an upbeat, number one pop song of it’s time. Yet in the midst of sorrow and sadness, David can remember all the good God has done for him. Not only remember it, but verbally recount and give thanks to God for it.

Yet another example comes from Psalm 100.

Psalm 100 isn’t attributed to anyone in particular, but it does have a clear purpose. Before verse 1 it says, “A Psalm. For giving thanks.” This is a tune of worship and thanks to God. It’s shared here in this hymnal called “The book of Psalms.”

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2 Serve the Lord with gladness!

    Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

    It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    and his courts with praise!

    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,

    and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:1-5 ESV

This psalm was for all to use in their times of giving thanks. Let’s zero in on what this psalm is saying we should be thankful for:

  1. God being good.
  2. God being God.
  3. God having made us.
  4. We are His – (people, sheep)
  5. God’s forever-enduring love
  6. His enduring faithfulness

So we are thankful for what was provided. But that then leads to the next question…

Thankful to Whom? 

In an animated film that could be all about going to grandma’s for Thanksgiving, Something quirky occurs. Charlie gets a call from his friend Peppermint Patty. Through his wishy-washiness and her kind of pushiness, Patty has invited herself over for a thanksgiving meal at Charlie Brown’s house! Charlie has to think fast…since he’d rather not try to uninvite Patty and explain the misunderstanding between the two of them. (I mean, hey! The movie’s got to happen, right?)

So he attempts to come up with a plan. With the help of Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock, Charlie Brown begins making a feast and scheduling it earlier in the day so He and Sally can still go to their Grandmother’s. Patty calls back at one point and has invited Marcie and Franklin to join her at Chea’ Brown. Charlie of course needs to make more food and Snoopy set up more chairs around a very special table.

If you were a guest somewhere, the proper manners dictate that you thank your host. For dinners, it’s who’s providing the meal. In life…with so much to be thankful for you and I thank …

  • The one who provided it. Of course in a biblical context, it should be VERY obvious who we are talking about.

It’s hard to read a verse from the bible about thankfulness, giving praise or thanks and the recipient isn’t God. James had his eyes wide open when he wrote the following: 

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

(James 1:17 NIV)

If God is the ultimate provider, then he is the one who receives thanks, praise, exaltation, and worship. Here’s some more examples from scripture of thanking God:

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”

(1 Cor 1:4 NIV)

“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.”

(Psalm 7:17 NIV)

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.”

(1 Thes 1:2 NIV)

We know who to thank and there is so much to be thankful for, however…

What if my circumstances…stink?

And now we come back to the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. Circumstances were rough. Rough for Charlie, with unexpected guests coming for Thanksgiving. For Peppermint Patty who, for the show’s story to happen, her dad left her alone on Thanksgiving. For the friends like Marcie and Franklin who might have been in a similar situation as Patty. No plans with the family. 

We’re not done with “Chuck.” He’s in another rough situation: He doesn’t know how to cook or how to please his guests. What does he do?

He does the BEST a kid can do at his age: Pops some Popcorn, Toasts some bread, Finds the leftover Easter Candy and includes some Jelly Beans and brings in some pretzel sticks for good measure. 

When Charlie Brown’s circumstances stunk, he did what he could.

When our circumstances smell so bad they haven’t taken a shower in years, we do what we can do:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thes 5:16-18 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Phil 4:6-7 NIV)

We bring all these woes, troubles, aches, pains, emotions, loneliness, heart break, inadequacies and lay them at the Lord’s feet. But not just any old way…We just read it. We offer our request to God with thanksgiving. The Manner of giving thanks. The attitude of thankfulness. The belief that the one you are thanking in advance will do what you are thanking him for.

You know who didn’t have a thankful attitude? Peppermint Patty. She invites herself over, she brings two additional guests…and she is displeased (to say the least) with the food that Charlie and the others provided. 

Maybe you’d react the same way. You pull back the cover of the platter for the big juicy turkey and find buttered toast and jelly beans. Where the Green bean casserole is supposed to be, you find those pretzel sticks and popcorn. If you are familiar with Patty’s reaction, She lays into “Chuck” and really complains at him for such a poor choice of food. Charlie Brown leaves the dinner dejected, believing he can never do anything right. Marcie tries to go and smooth things over and Patty and the others apologize for inviting themselves over and Patty for reacting the way she did.

She did not act very thankful. She let her stinky circumstances dictate whether she was going to have a stinky behavior. In the end, forgiveness and restoration occurred when she looked beyond those circumstances.

I think we all have times when our circumstances stink. No one wants to endure the pain of losing a loved one, of a family member being sick. Of a job that’s lost, a home that’s foreclosed on, and a relationship on the rocks. But regardless of our circumstances we can choose how we respond. Will we recognize the good things provided right in front of us? Like brown paper packages tied up with string. We need to thank the one who did the providing. We need to be thankful in all circumstances.

Regardless of our circumstances we can choose how we respond.

Back to the Peanuts Gang. The kids don’t head back outside to the ping-pong table to finish lunch. The phone rings and it’s Charlie Brown’s grandmother. She ends up inviting all of Charlie’s guests. As they ride together in the back of a car, they merrily sing a song. I can only imagine, they sing it with a great deal of thankfulness. Someone thought of and included them. They were heading over the river and through the woods…to Grandma’s house.

Conclusion 

Have you felt left out? Maybe you identify with Patty. You might not tell your friends and family, but you’re lonely. You’d like to be invited. 

  • Even in the midst of those circumstances, you can practice the attitude of Thankfulness. 
  • The only other option is something that comes quite naturally to us: stewing and having a pity party.
  • You never know when you circumstances might change, but if you always have an attitude of thankfulness, sudden shifts in your life won’t phase you.

Maybe you connect with Charlie Brown.

  • You’ve done your best and people are still not thankful for what you provide. 
    • Dwelling on that causes resentment and bitterness to grow. 
  • If you are thankful for the one who provides for your every need, you may not get so worked up about how others react to your best attempts to please them. You might remember it is only what God says about you that matters.

How do we thank God in all circumstances? It may be helpful to join those who have gone before us and sing and pray Psalm 100.  (Read this psalm again to yourself or say it out loud.)

1“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2 Serve the Lord with gladness!

    Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

    It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    and his courts with praise!

    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,

    and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100:1-5 ESV

  • We remember to be thankful for what was provided.
  • Give all thanks to the Provider.
  • And not allow our circumstances to control our ability to be thankful.

Faith Basics: Salvation

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Sermon Sept 3, 2021

Today we are going to begin talking about the Basics of the Christian Faith. If you are a Christian or if you are not, this series entitled Faith Basics is for you. If you don’t know anything about the Christian faith, I assume you are open to learning more about it since you are listening to (reading) this message today. Perhaps you come from a background where religious groups have distorted the message of the bible. Maybe you came from a family or church that preached things that it didn’t live out. My hope is that at Viroqua Nazarene you will find that not only do we understand and believe what the bible says about God, Jesus, Sin, and salvation…but you see it reflected in the love and fellowship of believers who gather regularly here.

If you are a Christian, these messages are still for you as well! I find the toughest thing that most  Christians deal with is being bogged down by discouragement when it comes to sharing their faith. So the methods I’ll use each week to share the message about the Faith, you can use them as well. 

I’ll try not to over complicate things with big words, but know that if I do use these words I will define them for easy use. I went through numerous courses in college and kept forgetting what the meaning of this one word ment. The word was “Soteriology.” Any time you hear the ending “ology” it means “to talk about or the study of.” But what does Soteri mean? (Bible.org source)

It comes from the Greek word “sorteia” which comes from another Greek word “soter” (σότερ) meaning savior. So Soteriology is the study or the talk about Salvation or the work of salvation.

Whether you grew up in church or this is your first time, you’ve probably heard Christians talking about the need to “get saved.” Today, that’s what we are going to talk about and I hope to illustrate it in a way that this act of God (Salvation) is clear enough that we could easily share it with someone else.

Mankind’s main problem in Life is SIN.

Sin separates us from a relationship with God. Sin says, “I want what I want…even if it’s not what God wants.” Sin Says, “I know what is right, but I’m doing otherwise because It’s convenient.”

Around here, our beliefs and teachings are guided by God’s word, the bible. So don’t be surprised if I quote it to support each week’s Faith Basic. We look to The Bible because we believe it is the authoritative Word of God and the only perfect guide for all things concerning salvation. We’ll talk in more detail about the Bible in a different week, but I think you need to know this…before we go any further today: Christians believe in the authority of God’s Word. In God’s word we find all the details for God’s perfect plan of salvation. 

And God’s word tells us that mankind has a problem and it’s called SIN.

James, Jesus’ brother once wrote:

 “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

James 4:17 NIV

Former persecutor of Christians, Paul of Tarsus wrote about how all mankind has had to deal with this sin problem.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—”

Romans 5:12 NIV

So not only do we have a sinful condition because one man (Adam) sinned…it leads us to make sinful choices which ultimately lead to death. 

One day, Jesus was trying to explain to some people that what comes out of a person, their words and actions – that’s what defiles them and makes them unclean…rather than eating or drinking the wrong thing. Gospel of Mark chapter 7:20-23 NIV

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:20-23 NIV

Jesus spells it out for us, just in case we didn’t know what some prime examples of sin were. So we’ve all got this sin problem. We have desires to live in ways opposite of what God’s best is for us. But that’s not the worst part about sin.  

Sin Separates us from God

I know, forgive this very rudimentary drawing. We’ve got a cliff on either side. God’s on one side and we are on the other. I’m going to tell you right now, no illustrations are 100% perfect. So go with me on this one, if you will. 

Sin gets between us and God. 

A very good example of this comes from Isaiah 59. Isaiah was a prophet of God. God would tell him what to say to the Israelites and he would tell them. What he said wasn’t always pretty or even encouraging. He tells them:

“But your iniquities have separated

    you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you,

    so that he will not hear.”

Isaiah 59:2-3 NIV

You might say, “I didn’t do anything wrong!” “My mama says I’m perfect! My Granny says I’m perfect.” Maybe you just say, “Well I’m a good person, I don’t know anything about this ‘sin’ stuff of which you speak…”

I’ve got news for you. Romans 3:23 makes it very clear:

“23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Romans 3:23 NIV

Not only are we born with the desire to put our desires before others’, especially before God’s desires, but we practice it regularly!

It’s that sin that creates a chasm…between us and God. Our Sin…His holiness. And the thing we dislike most about this situation is that…

We can’t fix this problem ourselves.

Are you an Olympian or a track and field star? No? Awesome. No one can call me out for not knowing what I’m talking about. 

So, in Track and Field there are various events with similar goals:

With the Long jump it’s all about who can go the farthest. With the High Jump and Pole vault, the goal is to get over the bar without knocking it over. They keep raising the bar to see who can get the highest jump or vault.

With our illustration here, we try things to get to God. We try “being good” or being a nice person. We back up really far, we take off in a dead sprint, we jump forward with all our might and all our goodness and niceness…and we fall short. We can’t get over that Sin pitfall by being nice or “good.” 

What if we jumped and put an extra little flourish to our jump, jumping higher. What if we said this was going to church…maybe saying “I’m religious” or even “I believe in God.”  These are things we might say that look like we are putting in a bit more effort to reach God…But just like before, we fall short. The pitfall of sin is what we can’t get past through being religious or being a church-goer.

What if we used a tool like pole vaulters use a pole to get over that super high bar? This might be doing good things: “I volunteer at a (fill in the blank). I DO lots of good and nice things. I teach Sunday school.” What about “I’ve dedicated my life to being a missionary” or “given it to religious service? I always recycle. I help clean trash on the side of the road. I encourage others to do good and nice things. I don’t just say I’m good or nice, I do nice things!”

OSLO, NORWAY – JUNE 28: Jeff Hartwig of the USA comes second in the mens Pole Vault during the IAAF Exxon Mobil Bislett Games at the Bislett Stadium in Oslo , Norway on June 28, 2002. (Photo by Christopher Lee / Getty Images )

This is that Pole in Pole vaulting. Have you ever seen a vaulter who fails to cleanly get over the bar? It’s disheartening. It’s sad. It’s embarrassing. It is the same with people who equate good works with a way over or past Sin. If that is their method, rather than the fruit of a tight relationship with God, they will knock that bar off everytime. They will not make it.

So believing we’re good enough isn’t enough. Being religious isn’t good enough. Doing “good” things isn’t enough. What’s it going to take to get over sin and to God? 

Fixing our sin problem takes an act of God 

God wants us to be close to Him. He wanted it so much that he took steps to help us cross that ravine. In the middle of the night, Jesus is teaching a religious leader, Nicodemus, about the Kingdom of God and the extent that God has gone to get us to him. He tell Nicodemus in John’s gospel, chapter 3 verse 16-17:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17 NIV

Jesus was of course talking about himself. What was the Son supposed to do to save the world?

He was to lay down his life as a sacrifice to fix the sin problem in our lives. That pesky thing that drives a relational wedge between us and God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Cor 5:12 NIV

Peter, an early leader in the Christian faith proclaimed this boldly:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12 NIV

This is one of the most challenging pieces for some folks. 

  • I want to be saved, but I’m going to get it by being good
  • Or I’m all good for the “afterlife” because I believe in this god or that god. I pray three times a day to that god.
  • Oh my salvation is found at the bottom of a bottle.
  • I’m part of a secret society that does good stuff for the community. I can’t tell you anything about it, but I’m sure that’s enough to get wherever I’m going.

There are countless other examples. 

So fixing our sin problem takes an act of God. God sends his Son, Jesus… 

And Jesus lays down his life as a sacrifice for you and me. He makes a way for us to get to God.  That bridge comes by his sacrifice on the cross. 

John 14:6 paints a clear description of what we see here today in this illustration.

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 NIV

The Key point to this message of salvation is this: JESUS is the only way. This is an essential basic piece to the Christian Faith. If someone believes or acts as though they believe something other than Jesus fixes the sin problem and restores our relationship with God, they are incorrect. 

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 3:36 NIV

Jesus also describes himself as the gate in John 10:9

9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

John 10:9 NIV

There is only one way to:

  • God
  • Heaven
  • Salvation
  • Forgiveness
  • Redemption
  • Wholeness
  • Holiness
  • Restoration

That is through Jesus Christ.

The question is, where do you see yourself in this illustration? Firmly planted on your side? Trying to run and jump over the chasm? A couple inches onto the bridge? Half way? All the way?

Proverbs 28 – That turned real quick

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“Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back.”

Proverbs‬ ‭28:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I was considering a few other verses to write on until I came across this one. The thing I like most about proverbs is that most of them are “common sense” commentary. However when we say some of these things out loud, some might be taken aback! We know these things happen…but we don’t talk about such things in polite society.

This verse is like so on the nose. It’s in your face. It’s an observation that the writer may have had personal experience with.

People who are guilty, especially of murder…find no relief from their guilt until they find their way to their grave.

The good news for us is that we can be free of sin, shame and guilt. Jesus can provide that freedoms for the liar, the thief, and even the murderer. Earthly consequences still stand, however the guilt that drives people to kill themselves…doesn’t have to stick around or lead them to a self imposed ending.

Proverbs 26 – Bad Archery

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“Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.”

Proverbs‬ ‭26:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you ever hired an employee before? More likely you’ve been an employee. Perhaps you’ve worked with someone that you just wonder why was that person hired?

I can imagine being Human Resources at a business is a hard job. But, sometimes you just need people who might not be the best skilled or experienced at the job they are hired for (but hey, you got to get experience somewhere and sometime.)

This passage stresses the importance of hiring the right person for the job. Don’t hire fools. (Hopefully the interview process weeds out the fools) and passerby’s just might not be faithful.

I think as a person who has been hired for jobs (you probably can relate) I want to be the kind of person who isn’t a fool. And I want to be wise (and not harm my team) when I hire new people.

Question for you: have you ever worked with a person and felt, “did HR fire at random?” What was your experience?

Proverbs 25 – Refreshing News

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“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.”

Proverbs‬ ‭25:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you noticed that we live in a world saturated and obsessed with bad news? When I was a kid, I always wondered why my parents read the newspaper at night or bothered to watch the evening news. Now I’m an adult with a family of my own and I find myself drawn to news and info. And 99% of it is bad or at least sassy news. YouTube news videos and news article frequently have “so and so destroyed this person who has bad ideas and does bad stuff!”

If we start to drown in all that bad news, it can make us weary. We need to be refreshed. Enter: Good news. Good news from afar doesn’t care about your cynicism. It just is good.

I felt at church we were focusing on negative and sad news. We needed a counter balance. I found some by looking at Nazarene News. I found news stories there of encouragement. People and churches who were learning to care for their community in new an desperately needed ways all across the globe.

Perhaps you need some good news today. Here is a link to their site so you can see for yourself how God is refreshing people with His good news all over the world.

https://nazarene.org/news

Proverbs 23 – “Sorry to inconvenience you…”

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“Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.”

Proverbs‬ ‭23:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you ever had this happen to you? (I know I sound like an infomercial). You are invited for dinner or a party, but the host only talks about how much it is costing them?

I can picture this being something the father of the bride who is paying for a wedding reception might say. They love their daughter, but begrudgingly fork over the cash to pay for various guests at the wedding meal.

Only advice I have: don’t be like that guy. If you give something away out of love (or any reason, really) it’s not longer yours to control or be upset with how it’s spent. Essentially, if you’re going to be generous, don’t attach strings. If you’re not going to be generous, don’t pretend like you are. Or your guests will sarcastically reply, “sorry to inconvenience you…”

Proverbs 19 – The Judge

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Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

“A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and whoever pours out lies will not go free.”

Proverbs 19:5 NIV

Boy do we wish this was a passage that clearly describes all legal systems in the world. More often than not, we see false witnesses (and false accusers) walk away with little to no prosecution. However the Bible isn’t a book that’s interested in our concepts of justice. God is the ultimate judge and that judgement is final.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

It may be no comfort to us now, we who want the liars to pay now for the lies they’ve spread. But we’ve got to remember that God is not only the ultimate judge, He is patient. He is patient with them and with you and I. He is waiting, patiently for us to come back to him and stop pouring out lies.

Proverbs 18 – Man Caves and She-Sheds

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“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Proverbs 18:10 NIV

Did you ever have a club house or a treehouse when you were a kid? Maybe you still do. I’ve heard of “Man Caves” and also more recently “She-Sheds” when people can unwind and enjoy things like video games or working on their hobbies. (I have NO idea what goes on in a She-shed. I’ve never been invited.)

In this passage the imagery is likening the NAME of the Lord (Yahweh) with a fortified tower. A tall, secure structure that grants safety to those it lets in. The verse says, “The righteous run into it…”

Righteous means being in right relationship with God. If you are in right relationship with God should be clear who you can trust in, in who’s name you will be safe. (Hint: it’s God’s!)

Proverbs 15 – Don’t Hulk Out

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“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1 NIV

Thanks again for joining me. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one getting somethings out of the Proverbs this month.

I think the sheer relatability of the wisdom contained in Proverbs is why I like it so much. Even if its historical setting is ancient to us, it is extremely applicable. Today’s passage reminds me some of the training I had when I was becoming a foster parent.

Little kids will either defy you or throw a fit when you sternly correctly. A foster parent I was learning from would always encourage her little children “let’s be sweet.” And she would highlight the behavior of that “sweetness”. Being kind, not pushing or especially not biting. “that’s not being sweet…”

As we’ve grown and so have our girls. And we’ve tried to not fly off the handle and yell when correcting them. The poor choice they made has consequences but all I’m doing is tearing apart our relationship when I’m adding a new consequence: making dad “Hulk out.”

They problem with reacting emotionally and in anger to problems before you is it usually begets more anger, causing more problems. We can see this in parenting, but also in interpersonal relationships between adults.

We you yelled at or were you calmly talked to when being corrected? How did that approach make you feel? Let me know it the comments.

Proverbs 14 – “I know just how you feel!”

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“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”

Proverbs‬ ‭14:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In the middle of your grief, stress, sadness, has some well meaning person ever said to you “I know just how you feel” ?

I believe most people are trying to help, but they don’t understand how damaging and dismissive that phrase is. The truth is found here in Proverbs 14:10. No one can truly know or under our bitterness (sorrow) or really feel and enjoy our joy, quite like we do in our own hearts.

What to do with that person who constantly projects their own life and troubles when all you are trying to do is share yours?

1. Forgive them – the most likely don’t realize how what they are doing is not helpful

2. Kindly explain to them why it’s not helpful. “When you jump in with yourself own story, I fell like you are not listening and caring about mine.”

3. Find someone else to share your heart. People will get the drift when fewer people confide in them. They don’t have anyone’s confidence.

One last thing: unlike your average Jane or Joe, there is someone who can understand our every hurt. His name is Jesus and he’s just a prayer away.