Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31st – Proverbs 31: More Than Rubies

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” – Proverbs 31:10

Lots of single guys I know are looking for a stunning beauty to marry. It seems for some guys that the ONLY requirement for the women they are looking for is that she look great in a bikini. It is true, if a woman does not take care of herself and look her personal best, she may never get noticed by Mr. Right. In our culture, we are conditioned to recognize physical beauty above all things. Now, I am NOT one of those people that say physical beauty is unimportant, that’s just silly. Of course, physical beauty is important, but it being the sole requirement for a relationship is madness! A woman of great beauty is not difficult to find, especially in the south. But according to the scriptures, a woman of noble character is a rare discovery and worth FAR more than precious stones. If we had that kind of respect and admiration for character over looks there would be a lot less divorce and broken hearts.

I always encourage men to look at the heart (after noticing outward, physical beauty). If the chick they are interested in doesn’t love Jesus and isn’t totally committed to the Lord, WALK AWAY. There will be nothing but heartache if you pursue a woman that is worldly and carnal. Sure, she might look great in that miniskirt, but without character, what you gain having her as arm candy you will lose in confidence.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” – Proverbs 31:11

My wife is beautiful. I have no problem admitting it, it’s the first thing I noticed about her and one of the first things I recognize about her every day. But early on in our relationship, as I got to know her, what really attracted me to her was her hunger and passion for Jesus. Her commitment to the Lord is expressed to me in keeping her covenant. Because she fears the Lord, she’s a wonderful, faithful wife and I have never doubted her integrity for a moment. Now, that is priceless. I have known men married to total stunners without character that wonder every day if their wife will come home pregnant. What torture! Yes she’s beautiful, but without integrity, you aren’t sure she is all yours. YUCK!

Of course, overzealous Christians have all but made a rule saying that a woman who looks good is unfaithful, which is totally ridiculous. I was under this delusion when I first got saved. As I graduated high school I was looking for a wife and wanted to get married. After reading scriptures like this, I overreacted. I thought that the woman the Lord had for me would be a troll, with noble character. I found a young lady with whom I had NO physical attraction to who loved the Lord and determined she MUST be God’s choice for me. How silly. Thankfully, the Lord showed me that the woman He had for me would be drop dead gorgeous AND love Him completely.

“Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22

May 30th – Proverbs 30: The WORD

"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” – Proverbs 30:5

God’s word is absolutely amazing. Only God’s words could have power in them thousands of years after they were spoken. The bible is the most amazing piece of literature ever produced. Consistently, it’s been a bestseller as long as we’ve had the printing press. The lives of countless millions, including some of the wisest and most influential people of our time, have been guided by its message. Critics say that the Bible was written by men and they are right! But the Bible’s origin was not in the heart of men, but directly from the Spirit of God. The word of God says about itself:

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” - II Peter 1:20,21

Even in the church today we have an almost anti-word movement. These folks emphasize a relationship with the Holy Spirit apart from a living connection with the word of God. Many believers think that allegiance to the scriptures is somehow high treason against the Holy Spirit. But what they forget is that the Holy Spirit is the one that wrote the book! Our relationship is guided by the word of God. But even more than that, we must realize that the scriptures are not JUST a book. They are a person.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

This is why at times the scriptures seem to “jump off the page” and it seems as if the Bible was written just for us. He (the Word) is trying to reveal Himself to us. I am sure; there are many that reject a relationship with the Author of the Word (the Holy Spirit) for knowledge of the Bible. There are also some that reject knowledge of the scriptures for a relationship with the Holy Spirit. But we don’t ever have to make such a choice, we can have both!

If we will take refuge in the Word of God we will experience His protection like a shield. Remember, the Word isn’t just words on a page, it’s a person! We’re not hiding away in a book, but abiding in the shadow of the Almighty!

The Word is a person, not a book. By rejecting the book, you neglect the person.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27th – Proverbs 27: MAN Talk

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

This is probably one of the most over used Proverbs in the world. I am loathe to even speak of it since there are literally THOUSANDS of men’s groups called, “Iron Sharpens Iron”. Seriously, look it up online, it’s nauseating. Yes, I am no excited to say anything about it, but speak of it I must. I have no doubt that iron sharpens iron. There is also doubt that when iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. What I seriously doubt and see so very precious of is one man sharpening another. That’s because for the most part, Men are solitary creatures. You can be a in a group of guys and it’s rare that any of them will be honest about what they are feeing and how they are really doing. We have such a twisted view of what true biblical masculinity is all about and things seem to swing from one extreme to the next.

One extreme is the John Wayne persona. Many guys want to be like “The Duke”; tough as nails, no emotions and can be counted on in a firefight. Yes, many men want to be like him, but very few actually are. Here is what normally happens to the guy that isn’t honest about his feelings; maybe he becomes embittered against his wife or his boss. Instead of saving the day, he ruins it by sleeping with some whore or losing his life in a bottle. Part of the reason for that is because “The Duck” reuses to open himself to another brother and never hears a hearty rebuke or word of correction! Listen cowboy, even the lone Ranger had Tonto.

The other extreme that has really gained traction in the last couple decades is something I call the “Effeminate Male”. This guy is SO in touch with his feelings that you can’t count on him to do anything… but cry. These Nancy boys are the Kryptonite to their wives libido and the essence of all that is wrong in our society. They are little boys stuck on a man’s body and the opposite of stable. They give real men a bad name and I despise them and the electric car they came in on. This guy would end up being a solid guy if he would take a little toughening up from another brother. Notice it doesn’t say that one man is sharpened by his MOM.

Neither of these personas is the person men are called to be. We have been called to look, act and BECOME like the Lord Jesus. And Jesus says that one man sharpens another!

Man up and let your brother sharpen your dull behind!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26th – Proverbs 26: You Hate What You Hurt

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” – Proverbs 26:28

God tells us the truth and sometimes it hurts, but the truth will set you free! This is one of those passages of scripture that tells us the truth and doesn’t mince words: “A lying tongue HATES those it hurts”.

I can’t tell you how many times, after being caught in a lie, the liar claims the lie and deception was intended to protect the lied to. This is our reasoning many times; we don’t want to tell someone the truth because it will hurt their feelings! But think about it, since when did lying to someone actually help them? We want to sound like these merciful benefactors, “I won’t tell them the truth because I CARE so much about their feelings.” But if we truly care for someone we will tell them the truth. A lie never helped anyone. Delayed the inevitable? Maybe. But truly helped? NEVER.

If we are going to get real, we don’t tell the truth because it makes US uncomfortable. We want desperately to avoid a situation where we and the person we confront are uncomfortable. Cowardice parades itself as merciful compassion, but it’s really this ugly, selfish thing that is totally self-absorbed. Lies never helped anyone because deception is the very nature of the enemy:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44

We tell ourselves the same lies when we flatter someone, “I just want them to be happy” or “I just want them to feel good about themselves”. Flattery may seem benign to us, but in the end it works to ruin the person we flatter! Flattery is defined as: Lavish insincere praise and compliments upon (someone), esp. to further one's own interests. It’s totally selfish and self-serving and does the opposite of help.

But probably the biggest reason we shouldn’t employ flattery or lies is because it’s contrary to the nature of the Lord Jesus. Jesus made an amazing declaration:

“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

To tell the truth is to walk in the nature and character of the one we claim as our King and Lord. To walk in deception is to speak the language of the devil. One leads to life, the other to death!

You HATE those you lie to & you RUIN those you flatter.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25th – Proverbs 25: A Heaping Plateful of Moderation

“If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.” – Proverbs 25:16

This proverb isn’t just about honey, although honey IS delicious. Honey was a decadent treat in biblical times and a symbol of something pleasurable. In fact the Amplified version translates this scripture:

“Have you found [pleasure sweet like] honey? Eat only as much as is sufficient for you, lest, being filled with it, you vomit it.” – Proverbs 25:16 - AMPLIFIED

Moderation is a central theme of scripture. So many people want to twist the scriptures to fit their cultural or experiential bias, but the Bible is curiously silent on many matters. People desperately WANT the Bible to forbid actions and activities that could be potentially harmful, but it doesn’t! Forbidding what God permits and permitting what God forbids is NOT a good idea.

Take alcohol for example: there is not one scripture in the Bible that says drinking alcohol is a sin, yet millions of believers across the world have imposed this extra biblical standard on themselves and others. Why is this? Well, for one thing it’s easier to forbid something outright than to do something with moderation and self-control. It’s funny, there are millions of Christians that wouldn’t think of touching a glass of wine, but have absolutely NO problem with stuffing their fat face at the buffet every Sunday after church! This is a great example of our Western cultural bias that we have superimposed on our religion. In American church culture, a 600 lb. fatty that eats 15,000 calories a day can see a 180 lb. guy drinking a beer with lunch and judge him in his heart as a good for nothing DRUNK. Worse of all, the church will applaud him!

"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” – I Corinthians 6:12,13

As a fat guy, this has been a personal struggle of mine and a fight I am committed to win. I discovered years ago that I was good at feasting and good at fasting. I can feast with the best of them! When it’s time to eat, I’m your guy. I can eat a lot and I can eat fast! I’m also pretty good at fasting. I’ve dropped 20, 30 and 40 days at a time without so much as a crumb of food entering my mouth. I can diet too and have done 6, 8 and 12 week programs where I strongly limited my caloric intake and dropped 30-40 pounds in a month no problem! The thing that has been a problem for me is a LIFESTYLE of moderation.

True spirituality expressed in my life is NOT going to be about not eating refined sugar, bacon or shrimp but eating just a little!

If you see me stuffing my FAT FACE, remind me of this scripture… just say, “Ryan, Proverbs 25:16!”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24th – Proverbs 24: The Righteous Man Falls, the Wicked Are Brought DOWN

“Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against a righteous man's house, do not raid his dwelling place; for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” Proverbs 24:15,16

The purpose of hanging out in Proverbs and learning all we can from the wisdom found here is to keep righteous people from making common mistakes and falling into sin, making huge errors that cost us years of our lives and tons of turmoil. But the fact is that good, righteous people make mistakes and even sin. Ultimately, we’re pressing in to be like the Lord:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

But righteous people sometimes sin and miss the mark. Our goal is perfection, but it sometimes eludes us. This scripture shows us the difference between the wicked and the righteous. Righteous people may stumble and they may fall, but they get back up! I’ve never claimed before unbelievers (or believers for that matter!) to be perfect and without sin. I’m striving for perfection, but miss the mark on occasion. But I do something the wicked don’t do, I GET BACK UP!

A truly righteous person will get back up. They will acknowledge their sin, repent of it and make it right. Wicked people don’t do this. They go on and on in their sin, it multiplies and grows until it defines them. A righteous person isn’t defined by their sin. Yes, they are capable of sinning, but they aren’t good at it anymore! The Bible talks about those that PRACTICE sin:

“Therefore you are without excuse, O man, everyone who judges; for in that in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge do the same things. But know that the judgment of God is according to truth on those who practice such things.” Romans 2:1,2

There is a HUGE difference between those that sin on occasion and those that PRACTICE wickedness. Practicing sin is talking about a habitual, ritualistic commitment to doing wrong. Wicked people PRACTICE sin, the righteous may sin, but quickly dissociates himself from the practice, repenting of their wicked behavior. The mercy and grace of God is there to pick up the righteous person, but not so the wicked! The wicked ultimately fall into calamity, never to get up again.

Walking in righteousness is much more forgiving than practicing wickedness.

May 23rd – Proverbs 23: Give Your Heart, Keep Your Eyes

“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways” – Proverbs 23:26

I love the opening line of this discourse in Proverbs 23: “My son, GIVE me your heart”. This is the call of wisdom and understanding; we must GIVE our hearts to the discovery and application of wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Casual observers don’t get the benefits of wisdom and understanding, only serious seekers.

But the second part is incredibly important and often overlooked. In addition to a diligent heart seeking of wisdom and understanding there is one more critical component, “Let your eyes keep to my ways.” Keeping your eyes speaks of focus. You can KNOW the right things all day long, but what we focus on and look to is important to our development. One major theme in scripture is, “You become what you behold”. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in II Corinthians:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – II Corinthians 3:17,18

This scripture tells us something simple, yet profound. It’s as we look to the glory of the Lord, that we are changed into that very same image! Many people seek the Lord with all their heart but allow their focus to drift off of Him and onto the things of this world. In this scripture, the gaze drifts onto the prostitute or wayward wife. I can’t tell you how many believers I have encountered who seek God with their heart but allow their focus to “linger” on things of this world, like lust.

But look at what is waiting for the man who lets his gaze linger:

“For a prostitute is a deep pit and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait, and multiplies the unfaithful among men.” – Proverbs 23:27,28

The unfaithful woman waits like a bandit for the man whose gaze is off focus. Her “goal” is to multiply the unfaithful among men. Sin never seems that bad until it grows up:

“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” – James 1:15

GIVE the Lord your heart, but KEEP your eyes fastened on Him!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 20th – Proverbs 20: Known By Your Deeds

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” – Proverbs 20:11

I remember being a young, fresh faced pastor once. I’m still young, but the face has been a bit worn from many years of dealing with crazies. I started working with the kids, but before long my wife and I were meeting with other couples, trying to help them with common problems in marriage and relationships, etc. The one thing I would hear time and time again and frankly the thing that frustrated me the most was this comment: “Now please, hear my heart.” What bothered me about the comment is that the person saying it would almost always make that appeal after detailing their exploits and bad behavior that were the EXACT OPPOSITE of what they claimed was “in their heart”.

This Proverb skewers that kind of reasoning and tells us that even little kids are known, recognized and acknowledged by what they do. If they do bad stuff, they are known as a rotten little monster. If they do good stuff, they are known as a good kid. Somehow when we grow up I think many folks feel that this principle no longer applies. I can’t tell you how many drug dealing, crack addicted, homosexual, wife-beating, alcoholic deadbeats I have talked to over the years that will tell you, “I’m really a good person!” No, you’re not. You’re a horrible, evil MONSTER… and that’s not a judgment, it’s a fruit assessment.

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:15-18

Jesus told us that we would know people based on the FRUIT of their life, NOT their words. Many people honestly think that because they can form the words “I love you” to their spouse, that they are walking in love with their spouse. Many times they will SAY “I love you” while they DO actions that express the exact opposite sentiment. So what are we to believe?

I’m sorry to tell you, but we are to turn a deaf ear to people’s proclamations of their own faithfulness and look to their ACTIONS. You see, we are not a product of what we KNOW, but what we DO with what we KNOW. KNOWING the right thing and DOING the right thing are completely different concepts. You can try and beat the system, but it’s ironclad. You are KNOWN but what you DO, not what you SAY.

Prison is full of people who knew the right thing to do, but didn’t. So is hell.

May 19th – Proverbs 19: What Does It Take For YOU To Learn?

“Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.” – Proverbs 19:25

There are two basic types of people out there; those who listen and those who don’t. Some like to call it the “school of hard knocks” but in reality it’s simply a confession, “I DON’T LISTEN”. We don’t HAVE to be utterly destroyed by the rigors of life before learning something; in fact God would rather we learn it verbally than physically. Simple people, mockers and the foolish pretty much require physical pain to learn a lesson. Wise people require a much softer touch.

So the question is, which are you? What does it take to alter your course? You should ask yourself, MUST I feel the pain of my bad decisions and suffer to learn a lesson or can I take a rebuke to learn the same lesson? Stupid Simple people REQUIRE pain to change. Wise people will take a verbal rebuke to accomplish the same purpose. In fact, they view rebuke and correction as LIFE GIVING:

“He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” – Proverbs 15:31

Several years ago I was running a full time Design firm to substitute my income working at the church. Both were full time jobs and for several years I lived out 80-100+ hour weeks, trying to juggle both responsibilities. I never did manage to do it well. In fact, in business I only managed to lose money! But one account came up and I got excited about it. It was a big hotel in Atlanta and the client wanted me to replace a bunch of existing signage with new designs.

I remember telling my Dad about the big account. I was excited and was sure to make some good money. He patiently listened to the details of the account and told me, “Ryan, I think you should pass on this one. It sounds complicated and I think it’s over your head. You REALLY need to be careful on this one.” I responded badly. “What?! This is one of the biggest accounts I have landed, I don’t want to give it up, I need the money!” But he persisted and over the course of the next couple weeks added a couple more warnings, telling me to watch my back, etc. Well, I didn’t listen; I thought I could handle it.

I was WRONG.

The job WAS over my head. I had to bring in a big sign company to help me manufacture the signs. Long story, but my salesman was a complete snake. The company was run by a beady eyed old man that had ZERO Integrity. After missing multiple deadlines, producing the wrong product and installing the WRONG SIGN on the front of this hotel they REFUSED to make it right. My client was nice about it, but patiently informed me that they wouldn't pay one cent to rectify the error. All in all, after several weeks of my life spent in anxiety and under threat of a lawsuit, I ended up paying $12,000 out of my own pocket (money I didn't have) to avoid getting sued. It was an unmitigated disaster.

I could have learned with a word. Instead, I was an idiot and required PAIN to teach me a lesson. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18th – Proverbs 18: What Do You Run To?

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10

This Proverb is so basic and its message so fundamental that I believe many times in our quest for the newest, latest and greatest we miss this very simple principle. It could be translated: “The honor, authority and character of Jehovah is an elevated place of safety, a stronghold; the just and upright person flees to it and is inaccessible to the enemy, safe from all attack.”

Many times we think of righteous people as being people that never retreat and never back down from the enemy, yet scripture is clear that sometimes the wisest thing to do is FLEE! Take sexual immorality for example: many sins and temptations we’re encouraged to stand up and resist, but we are encouraged to RUN from sexual immorality!

“Flee from sexual immorality.” – I Corinthians 6:18

But when we run, whom do we run to?? I’ve known many men who when tempted sexually run TO things like pornography. How dumb! When a righteous person flees, they run TO the Lord! He is the only real place of safety and protection. I’ve known men that have difficulty in their marriages to run TO things like alcohol or stupid hobbies that end up consuming their life. It’s like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire!

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

We are called to resist the enemy. But notice in this passage, it’s only after we submit ourselves to God! Before you can resist the enemy like a grown up Christian, you must learn to flee to the Lord like a little child. Over the years I have worked on developing the habit of taking any and everything that troubles, tempts or tries me to the Lord. Yes, it’s humbling, but it’s exactly that humility that releases grace to help me! Jesus said that we should become like little children to enter the Kingdom.

“And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

I remember when I was getting free from anxiety about finances I would take every little anxiety to Jesus, asking for His help and comfort. It was embarrassing to be that weak and needy, but I needed the peace that Jehovah Shalom provided! In running to Jehovah Shalom (Peace) I discovered that He was also Jehovah Jireh, my provider! These days, I am entirely FREE from anxiety regarding finances, I have run to Jehovah Jireh and He has comforted me!

Many folks are trying to bear up under something they need to run from.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17th – Proverbs 17: Of Tongues & Tempers

“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” – Proverbs 17:27

Who would have thought that our level of knowledge would directly correspond to how much we talk? Likewise, who would have thought that our temper being under or out of control is directly tied to the amount of understanding we possess? I am a firm believer that wisdom and understanding have real, tangible results and benefits in our lives and this Proverb lists two more.

The ability to use words with restraint and not spout off every little thing you know is a direct result of possessing knowledge. People that do not possess this ability also do not possess knowledge. Why then would knowledge give us the ability to hold our tongue? Maybe instinctively those with knowledge understand this verse:

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” – Proverbs 10:19

It’s simply impossible to say much without stumbling in what you say. The antidote is not to watch carefully what you say as it is to simply say less! People with wisdom and knowledge know this. That’s why you can many times gauge people’s level of knowledge based on their output of words. I don’t know about you, but I want to be known as a man of knowledge and understanding, this means that I have to continually work on saying less and less.

It’s amazing, but our level of understanding has an effect on our temper. People with big tempers generally have little understanding and a person with an even temper has greater understanding. People like to think that things like their temper or the fact that they talk too much are just personality, something maybe inherited from Grandpa. The only problem with that is that the Bible says differently! Sure, Grandpa probably did have an explosive temper, but that was due to his lack of understanding, not your genes! Your older sister may be a wonderful person, but she runs her mouth like a motor, revealing her lack of knowledge. Don’t embrace their weakness by claiming as your own one of their major flaws. Instead, ask the Lord for more knowledge and understanding!

If you see yourself in a scripture like this, it’s like playing Cinderella, if the shoe fits, kick it off!

Lots of people claim character defects as their personalities. Wise people sit by speechless.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16th – Proverbs 16: BAM! Down Goes the Tower!

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

This is a rock solid principle in scripture that if you watch carefully, you can see play out time and time again in life. The scripture could be translated: “A great swelling and growing sense of self-importance comes before a great crash of destruction and an exultant, lofty spirit before the teetering tower comes to ruin.”

This scripture reminds me of the Todd Bentley fiasco in Lakeland Florida in the summer of 2008.

In early 2008, reports started circulating around the church of a move of the spirit taking place at Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida. This move of God was being led by Todd Bentley, the heavily tattooed Canadian evangelist who was no stranger to controversy. His unusual methods for praying for the sick and constant use of the word “BAM!” when ministering to folks gave the meetings a carnival atmosphere. Several weeks into the meetings, I received a phone call from one of Todd’s associate ministers and he told me that Todd was “working it” and it wasn’t a Sovereign move of God, just a lot of energy being expended in try to get “something” going.

A couple months later I watched as God TV televised a service where John Kilpatrick and Steve Hill, the leaders of the Brownsville Revival stood on stage and proclaimed “The glory is here!” Now, I may not necessarily agree with everything that John Kilpatrick and Steve Hill do, but I believe that they know what the glory of God is all about. I attended the Brownsville Revival for a couple nights in 1995 and was greatly impacted by the presence of God in those meetings. So when these men proclaimed that God was doing something, I quickly organized a group from our church and we went down there expectant. What we experienced was a profound sense of the Lord’s presence in the worship.

Enter Todd Bentley.

No sooner had Todd taken the mic than it seemed that the life of God was sucked out of the place. The carnival atmosphere took over and the theatrics started in force. We were greeted by outlandish reports from Todd and his team, taking credit for 25+ resurrections and thousands of miracles, most of which they had little to no evidence to support. Todd at one point proclaimed that this was perhaps the “greatest revival in history” since it was being televised on God TV and “100 million+” were watching. The kicker for me was no sooner than the TV cameras were shut off, Todd did one of the most offensive and manipulative offerings I have ever witnessed. They would honor and pray for the truly committed ones that gave a “$1,000 revival seed” in the offering.

I knew then and there that this “revival” was doomed.

The straw that broke the clown’s camel’s back was the praise of men (Proverbs 27:21). In June of 2008, many leaders in the Charismatic movement coronated commissioned Bentley and recommended him and the move of God in Lakeland to the Body of Christ. What they didn’t know (and have yet to apologize for) is that they were endorsing a man who was an alcoholic and adulterer. The tower had crashed and they didn’t even know it. Just a few weeks later, the news was out, Bentley was divorcing his wife and in an adulterous relationship with one of his female interns. The “revival” quickly ended in total disgrace and the dust has yet to settle on the charismatic church.

But for anyone who understands this Proverb, you could have seen it coming miles away.

None really, I’m still waiting for an apology from the leaders that endorsed and recommended Bentley to the church.

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 13th – Proverbs 13: What You Seek, Seeks YOU!

“Evil pursues sinners, but to the righteous good shall be repaid.” – Proverbs 13:21

I spend a decent amount of time with unbelievers. Lots of folks reach out to me when things are going bad and I’m more than happy to do whatever I can to get them back on the straight and narrow. Then there are the many sinners that I pursue, actually going to them in their neighborhoods, etc. No matter how many years I have under my belt doing this, I am always amazed at the complete and utter devastation that sin can wreak on a person’s life. But I have also noticed that calamity and trouble seems to come after them in a way that it does not people walking with the Lord. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

This scripture says that evil PURSUES the sinner. Another way you could translate that is: misfortune, adversity, calamity, sorrow, trouble and misery runs down, hunts and persecutes the guilty. It’s a terrible sight to behold as thing after thing comes on these poor people. As they run FROM God, calamity and heartache runs AFTER them. They don’t understand the importance of the shelter of the Most High:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1

Conversely, the righteous are compensated or repaid with goodness! As they pursue the ultimate good, God, goodness and mercy is returned to them. We really do reap what we sow! As we pursue good, we find goodwill!

“He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” – Proverbs 11:27

The sinner may not think of it this way. Most sinners seem to think they are good people that “fall” into sin. But in reality, sinners are ones that seek out sin. No one gets drunk because a bottle of booze “falls” into their throat! No, they have to get up, get dressed, get in the car, GO to the liquor store, buy the booze and then drink it… ALL! There isn’t one person who has truly “fallen” into sexual sin. No, you have to find someone else to do it with, convince them to do it with you, find a place to do it and then actually DO IT! At ANY point on that list you could bail out, realizing that you are SINNING! It doesn’t connect with many unbelievers that as they pursue sin, they are also pursuing its ugly cousin, calamity and destruction. They both come from the same Father, the devil!

In the same way, I don’t think that believers are conscious enough that when they pursue the ultimate good, GOD, they are also pursuing everything He IS. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost are just the start! When you pursue Jehovah, the great I AM, you pursue everything He IS. He IS Provision. He IS Peace! He IS THE Truth! He IS our LIFE! You reap what you sow!

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” – Galatians 6:7-8

Seek God and you will be run down with blessings! Seek sin and evil will run YOU down!

May 12th – Proverbs 12: “Psst! I Think God Just Called You Stupid”

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1

One of the many reasons I love the Bible is because it pulls no punches! It just calls things like they are. If the Scripture was a person, (and it is) He would be very straightforward and brutally honest, like this passage. This scripture simply tells us that the person that hates correction is stupid. This scripture could be translated just as easily to say: “The person that cherishes and loves reproof, warning and rebuke like a friend intimately understands knowledge and wisdom; but the person that utterly despises and treats as an enemy all correction, reasoning and rebuke is like a dumb cow!”

We’re not just to endure correction, instruction and rebuke, we’re to love and cherish it and become intimate with it like a friend. This isn’t a passive thing, it’s active. When we have a friend we go out of our way to schedule time with that person, setting up a lunch here, a dinner there because we enjoy our friend’s company. In the same way, a wise person looks for correction, adjustment and yes, even rebuke. I think it’ interesting that we are told that the person who loves correction also loves knowledge; the two are vitally connected! Knowledge and understanding are found wrapped in correction and rebuke. As I think over this, it’s true, I have learned far more from a rebuke than someone telling me I’m awesome. I’ve been paid a bunch of compliments and I’m not sure they have taught me anything. In fact, the scripture says they are a test!

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.” – Proverbs 27:21

But the person that despises and treats correction, chastisement and rebuke as something of little value is stupid. The word stupid here could be translated “brutish”, like an animal; specifically a cow. That’s not exactly a compliment, is it? Yes, correction and rebuke hurts for a second, but in the long run, it serves us well. We have to learn to love it. It’s counterintuitive to our flesh but second nature to our spirit. My flesh hates it when I’m corrected or adjusted but my spirit loves it. We have to learn to LOVE the truth more than we love our convenient little lies. If we don’t, it’s not a good thing:

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” – II Thessalonians 2:10-12

YOU: “What, are you calling me stupid?”
ME: “No, God is.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11th – Proverbs 11: When Wicked Men Perish *HIPPIES BEWARE!*

“When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” – Proverbs 11:10

On Sunday May 1st, the news broke that the US Government had killed Osama Bin Laden, undoubtedly one of the most evil men of our time. Bin Laden was the head of an organization whose charter was to cause as much terror and unrest to their enemies using any and all means necessary. Al Qaeda was responsible for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in East Africa, the 2000 U.S. Cole bombing and of course the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. Nothing is off limits to Al Qaeda, including the killing of innocent women, children and civilians. In addition, Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda recruits thousands of young people every year to be trained as homicide bombers with the false promise of an Islamic Heaven as a reward.

In short, Bin Laden is evil.

Understandably, many in the US and abroad rejoiced when his death was announced. Personally, I find the idea of screaming, shouting and dancing in the streets over an evil man’s death as distasteful and would never do it personally. But more disturbing to me was many Christians response to Bin Laden’s death. The self-righteous hippie “don’t judge, love” police were out in force, condemning anyone for being happy that one of the most evil maniacs of our time received the justice he most certainly deserved. Worse than that, many believers had the audacity to “mourn” his death because he was an unbeliever! As if they care that much about unbelievers! (If they did, they might actually talk to some and win them to Jesus!) The response of many Christians revealed just how little they understand justice, one of the foundations of God’s throne:

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; ” – Psalm 89:14

If God is anything, He is JUST. Most Christians don’t believe in justice, they believe in some syrupy creation of their own depraved mind they call “love”. This “love” espoused by many believers has no standards, in fact, it’s not love at all. But God’s throne is not founded on Love; the one who sits upon it IS love. God’s authority is derived from His righteousness and justice. Justice required the sins of man to be atoned for by the spotless blood of a perfect lamb. Justice nailed Jesus to the cross. To reject justice is to reject the rule and reign of God. On the last day, the Lord Jesus will sit on his throne and JUDGE all believers based on what they did in the body, whether good or evil. Sadly, this will be the first many Christians will experience and understand what justice is all about:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” II Corinthians 5:10

Bin Laden was an evil man responsible for the death of thousands of people. By killing Muslims and other unbelievers he has condemned thousands to an eternity apart from God, populating hell. His death is a GOOD thing. He most certainly deserves the punishment he received here on earth as a US Navy Seal team, under cover of darkness penetrated his compound and ventilated his head and sternum. More than that, he most certainly has earned the punishment he will receive in eternity.

I give you what appeared on one of my friends Facebook page the morning after Bin Laden's death was announced:

"For he (Navy Seal) is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword (M16) for nothing. He is God’s servant, an (Black-ops) agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (Osama)." - Romans 13:4

Go God! Mission accomplished!


In my house, May 1st will be a holiday. We’ll eat seafood to commemorate Bin Laden’s demise as he now “Sleeps with the fishes”.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10th – Proverbs 10: Blessed Memories, Rotten Names

“The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” – Proverbs 10:7

Wickedness is fun for a minute, that’s why everyone does it! But the allure of unrighteousness quickly fades away. Righteousness on the other hand may not be especially appealing at the onset, that’s why so many neglect it! But over the long haul, the benefits of righteousness prove out. This scripture says that the very memory of the righteous will be a blessing to the one remembering. In contrast the name of the wicked will rot. This is the nature of wickedness. It’s constantly devolving like a bunch of ripe bananas you get from the store. Sure, they look great when you buy them, beautiful, yellow and delicious. But over time that pretty yellow becomes spotted with dark brown and black spots. The inner flesh starts out firm and flavorful, but quickly degenerates into an inedible mush (unless you are cooking banana bread)!

Righteousness on the other hand gets better with age. Righteousness is more like wine or cheese. Age actually enhances its character. Its value increases with the passage of time! Some people are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for an older bottle of wine, keeping it like a prized possession in a wine cellar. Initially it’s not that appealing, but over the years, it becomes a priceless commodity! In our quick fix, instant, gotta have it now culture, it’s no wonder why wickedness gets all the attention. Wickedness provides instant gratification, while righteousness is proved out in the long term.

I think of Hollywood, to me the glorification of all things stupid. For months and maybe even a couple of years stars in Hollywood have names that command millions of dollars in box office sales. But sooner rather than later that star of the silver screen becomes a “has-been”. Their name rots! Next thing you know they go from doing gazillion dollar summer blockbusters to a “direct to video release!” Contrast that with the righteous, even many in church history. Sure, when they walked the earth they enjoyed some level of respect, but the longer we live without them, the more they are appreciated. I think of someone like Smith Wigglesworth, when he walked the earth he wasn’t particularly liked. Yet nearly 100 years after his death, the man is revered and an example to many in the church! His memory is a blessing!

Maybe that’s why Jesus said:

“He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." – Matthew 13:31-32


Most things that start with a bang end with a fizzle. Many things that start with a fizzle end with a bang!

May 9th – Proverbs 9: The Fear of God

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10

This scripture could be translated: “The terror and reverential fear of God is the doorway to experience wisdom; and intimate knowledge of the sacred and holy one is the essence of knowledge and understanding.” Not a lot of people today like to talk about the terror of the Lord. Probably because a spirit of fear is not from God:

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – II Timothy 1:7

We’ve also been given a promise in the New Covenant that we could serve the Lord without fear:

“to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear” – Luke 1:74

But the fear that the scriptures are talking about here is not the same thing. Again, our English gets in the way of interpreting the nuances of both the Hebrew and Greek languages. We have one word to describe fear, when the Hebrew and the Greek have several different meanings. In the Hebrew the word fear here is more about a reverential respect and awe, a holy terror. Imagine waiting to have an audience with the Queen of England. As you wait, you view the elegant surroundings and hundreds of years of history evident on her residence and possessions. You are briefed on the proper etiquette in addressing her and given strict instructions about your encounter. As you wait, her entrance into the room is announced, the doors swing wide and… What are you feeling in your gut? That sense of awe and respect for the office and country causes your knees to shake and tremble. Why? Because you think she will say “Off with his head!” No! Your respect for the office, the land, the country and its history creates a deep, reverential awe.

For a believer, it’s the same way with God. God, our friend and Father is also the creator of the Universe! Jesus, the author of our salvation and elder brother is also the glorified Son of God! John the apostle who leaned on the breast of the Lord Jesus as He reclined at the table (John 21:20), when he saw the Lord in His glory fell at His feet like a dead man (Revelation 1:17)! This posture of reverence and respect is the doorway to all of Wisdom. It’s no wonder why so many Christians wander in the wilderness of foolishness and stupidity! We are so glib with God and so casual with the Holy Son of God! We treat things that are Holy and set apart as common! The Glory of the New Covenant is not that the Holy has become common, but that the common has access to the Holy!


The doorway to all wisdom is a low one; you get through it on your knees.

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6th – Proverbs 6: WHORES!!!

“For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,” – Proverbs 6:23

The wisdom revealed in the book of Proverbs has MANY benefits. The teaching of wisdom and understanding revealed here is called, “a light”. When so many walk in darkness, not knowing where they are going and not understanding where they have been, the Gospel comes in and shines a light on our ways. When we walk according to wisdom and understanding, our path is illuminated! We KNOW why we are stumbling and we can CLEARLY see the path ahead of us! The corrections of discipline are the path of life. I like to think of discipline, correction and rebuke as the guardrails along the road of life. When you keep the vehicle in the right lane, you may never encounter them, but when you drift, correction is there to make sure you don’t go over the cliff!

“keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.” – Proverbs 6:24

One of the primary benefits of wisdom is that it, when properly applied, will keep us from the immoral woman. This may not seem like a big deal to many Christians, but it is! The immoral woman (and there are many of them!) draws people in with her beauty and then destroys them. The literal application of the wisdom and understanding in the book of Proverbs will keep us from being seduced by her.

“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes,” – Proverbs 6:25

When I see a woman dressed or acting seductively, either in real life or on television or internet, before my hormones get engaged and I begin to think of how great she looks, and before appreciating God’s beauty turns into lust in my heart, I remember this passage:

“for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.” – Proverbs 6:26

This WHORE (literal Hebrew translation!) can and will reduce me to a loaf of bread and is trying to kill me! How descriptive is that? I look at the top of my refrigerator and see the loaf of bread sitting up there, just waiting to be eaten. So is the man given to lust after whores, they are a meal waiting to be eaten, nothing more.

When my Dad was teaching me how to drive, he told me something that’s stuck with me to this day, many years after the fact. He said: “Treat EVERYONE on the road like they are trying to kill you!” Now that may be a little overzealous defensive driving training, but it’s had quite an effect! In the same way, instead of being drawn into a whores gaze, we should tell ourselves, “This woman is trying to turn me into a meal, and my life is in danger! RUN!!!”


Many a man has had dreams of an illicit meal, only to become lunch.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco De Mayo – Proverbs 5: Your Own Dumb Fault

“His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin.” – Proverbs 5:22

Wicked people are ensnared by their wickedness. It’s the wicked man’s OWN sin that holds him captive. If this is the case, and it is, then why do wicked people spend so much time blaming others for their faults? In our country we have created mass industries to basically shift the blame from the sinner to those around him/her. In many cases, counseling and support groups has become institutionalized finger pointing! If psychology has taught us anything it’s that you can blame your Mom or Dad for anything you do as a responsible adult!

But the Bible cuts though all the pop culture gobbledygook and tells it like it is. It’s his OWN iniquity that holds the wicked captive. It’s the chords of his OWN sin that hold him fast. Our sin got us into this mess, it’s time we just belly up to the bar and own it.

God isn’t trying to make us feel bad by identifying the cause of our bondage; He’s trying to empower us! It’s ONLY by taking responsibility for our faults and sins that we can receive authority to change them. All authority comes from responsibility. Think about it, the most powerful person at the company you work for is the person who is responsible for the most in that company. The person with ultimate hiring and firing power is many times the CEO, or the person responsible to the shareholders or themselves to turn a profit! No profit, no company. Many folks want authority to change things like our proverbial CEO, but refuse to take responsibility. Think about it, most of the time you would receive a raise, your responsibilities increase, you become accountable for more.

No responsibility = no authority. This is why so many believers feel powerless against the sins that beset them. They bemoan the bondage, but rarely take responsibility for forming the chains! Our lack of discipline and choice to sin were the forge for our chains!


Own your failures, and stop blame shifting; it’s the only way to get free!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4th – Proverbs 4: Looking Straight Ahead

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:25-27

The Gospel is simple and uncomplicated yet deep and profound. A child can understand it, but many older folks have difficulty actually DOING it. It’s a straight, narrow way that is firm and unmoving. The path of the righteous goes directly ahead with no deviation to the right or left. John the Baptist was called to blaze this trail ahead of the Lord’s coming. It was prophesied that he would:

“As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'" – Luke 3:4-6

John the Baptist came on the earth and spoke the truth to all who would listen. The Gospel of righteousness is the great equalizer and applies to kings & paupers, the haves and the have-nots. John the Baptist spoke the same to the King (Herod) as he did the common man. He lost his head for it too. Our culture differentiates between rich & poor, those with influence and those with none. But the Gospel does not. The Gospel says things like:

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:22-24

The straight, narrow and level way of the Gospel unsettles those who have built their lives in the valley or on the mountaintop. It upsets those that camp out in the bends and dips on the road of life. But it’s the path we are called to walk on. You will find that almost ALL of the difficulty or turmoil we have in our lives comes as we try to hold on to both worlds at the same time. A LOT of what we call “transition” is simply compromise. That funny feeling you have in your gut as you flirt with compromise is the same feeling you have when going down a hill on the roller coaster! You’re on a hilly, winding path, not a straight and level one! The reality of the Gospel and the realities of this present world are NOT congruent! We must decide today whom we serve, the Lord or the rulers of this present world. I for one have made my choice: the straight, narrow and level way of the Gospel.

I may lose my head for it too.


The path of righteousness is firm, straight and level. What are you walking on?