Thursday, 25 November 2021

Dangerous Fools

Proverbs 17:12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.

      It is a long list, but these are a few synonyms for the word fool - idiot, halfwit, blockhead, buffoon and dunce to name a few. Well, saints, according to the above proverb, it is better, and in some translations, safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to hang out, work with, or be married to a fool. I live in the province of British Columbia where bear encounters are common. The result can turn out very gruesome for anyone who has been chased, attacked, or mauled by a bear. 
      On one hot summer day, I had to pull over on the side of the highway at the top of the Kootenay Pass. It is common for car engines in hot weather to overheat as cars progress up the precipitous thirty-kilometre uphill grade to the summit. As I was waiting for the car engine to cool down a bit, two bear cubs came ambling out of the side forest crossing the road right in front of my car. The hair on the back of my neck started to point heavenward as I looked all around for the mother bear. It was not a secure or comfortable feeling to know that I might be in between a protective she-bear and her cubs. As far as I was concerned, the car engine had cooled down enough, it was time to go.
      It is unsettling to see the brute strength, agility, and speed that a bear can use to attack. The instinctive fierce clawing used to lash out can result in someone's permanent scarring and even death. Yet, God's word says that I am better off confronting a mother bear in her instinctive protectiveness than a fool who is bent on carrying out his foolishness. It seems that fools are more dangerous than a bear coming toward us with menacing intentions and territorial bravado. Prov. 17:12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly. It really makes one think about the hidden dangers that hanging around a fool can cause in one's life.
      On numerous occasions, I have counselled people to get rid of the fools, losers, and narcissists in their lives. For some reason, people think they can instruct a fool, and the fool will take the advice and change their life. The word clearly says that foolishness cannot be beaten, ground, or pulverized out of these people. Prov. 27:22 Though you pound the fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, his foolishness still will not leave him. This is a heart issue, and only God can fix a heart. A fool bent on foolishness is dangerous because the foolish sins they get involved with have an eternal effect and can bring damage to everyone involved with them.
      In 1Samuel chapter twenty-five there is a story of a foolish man named Nabal who was bent on being irresponsible in his decisions, regardless of the fact that his decisions would bring death to him and possibly his family. His wife's name was Abigail, and she was an intelligent and forthright woman. Nabal's name actually means fool, or, folly is with him. It did not matter that Nabal was married to a wise, influential, and courageous woman, he still remained stupid and made choices accordingly. The situation begs the question, how did Abigail end up married to such an idiot. I'm guessing that it was most likely an arranged marriage as was common in that day. Nonetheless, her wise and fast actions saved her people and servants whom David was on his way to destroy because of the foolish way Nabal had treated David's men.
      In this case, it truly was better for Nabal's family and staff to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than the swords of destruction that were coming down upon all of them. Abigail's courage over folly saved the day. 1Sam. 25:32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. Within ten days of this event, Nabal died of heart failure and remained a stupid man till the end. The account of his life is a demonstration of foolishness. Surely we can choose better.
      We live in a time when foolishness is praised and even rewarded. Sin is bragged about and flaunted on all forms of visual media platforms. Just because many people are living this way does not mean we have to be stupid too. God has given us the choice to choose His righteousness through Christ so that we are not counted among the dangerous fools who have chosen their own worldliness. To walk with God is to walk in wisdom. To walk with God is to receive understanding in our hearts. Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Let us keep clear of dangerous bears and fools alike, and allow God to instruct our hearts in choosing His life-giving wisdom. Amen!

Thursday, 18 November 2021

What Motivates You?

Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.
     
      I have been asked many times, "What motivates you?" Well, the fact that I died for a short moment in time while having a stroke, and was prayed back to conscious life by my wife, is a major factor in what motivates me. Stepping into eternity for what seemed a long time but apparently was only milliseconds motivates me. Knowing and feeling God's pure love and presence during that infinite moment motivates me. The Lord's assignment that He has sown in my heart motivates me.
      Not that I wish any harm upon anyone, but I think it would be a good experience for a lot of people to die for a moment in time and be resuscitated back to life so they can truly see how valuable their lives are. Plus, to clearly see what a gift of God life is. Deut. 30:19 Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! It is hard to understand the depth of life that God has given us. The Lord has literally put His eternity within us so we could be eternal beings. Eccl. 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end.
      You would think that God's eternal life, which is alive within us, would be enough to motivate people to want to live a full life. But, it is not that way. It seems that we have to choose life and engage with it to find its hidden secrets that keep motivating us forward throughout our time on earth. Prov. 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. We have to be involved in choosing life to have a meaningful purpose for our walk with God. Maybe this is why there are so many young people who are diagnosed as clinically depressed and have stopped reaching for life. They find themselves reaching for their prescriptions to give them relief from the numbness they live with all day long. They have stopped choosing life and are suffering the consequences. What motivates you to want to participate in this new day? It has to be something of eternal value and quality.
      Elijah had to deal with depression and had to overcome the desire to die because of the events in his life. He was being chased by Jezebel's forces because she had sworn to destroy him. Elijah had a lot on his mind, and the pressure was getting to him. It was manifesting as a depressive death wish. 1Kings 19:4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, travelling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” His defeated self-image was now blocking the truth of what God thought of him.
      Only after Elijah had a genuine encounter with God and spent some quality alone time with the Lord, did Elijah get his motivation back. He was given new instructions that were in line with his calling. Elijah was to pass on the ministry mantle to Elishah. Purpose, motivation, or inspiration has to come from within our hearts as the Lord brings life to our souls and leads us into ministering His will. The reward that Elijah received for recovering from deep depression, was to see the mantle of the Lord passed on to the next generation. We are all here for a short time and we would be wise to make our time count because life truly is short. James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapour that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.
      I have been fortunate to have survived a stroke and come back with good health that has allowed me to live life well. I’ve participated in a lot of blessed events since my recovery and have engaged in many projects God lined up for me. From writing blogs and having numerous books published to ministering and reaching people through social media platforms. These events have all been rewarding and encouraging to my spirit. However, the thing that blesses my heart the most for being here today because I responded to God's motivation, is the privilege to have seen my sons become fathers - and good fathers at that. To have seen them become great dads to their children has blessed my heart with abundant fatherly pride and joy. Prov. 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly, and the pride of children is their fathers.
      What is the reward you might miss out on because you did not respond to the motivation God offered you? What motivates you? Find the answer to this question and live to its fullness. If there is nothing that comes to mind when asking this question, then ask God to reveal your purpose to you, so that you too can choose life and live. Don't wait until you are almost dead to start looking for life. Just think, if I had not been motivated to choose life. I would have missed out on that glorious moment in my life and my sons' lives. May we live long and prosper in what God has moved our hearts to do. Amen!

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Three Sharp Whistles

Proverbs 16:20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful.

      In the late 1950s when I was a kid playing out in the neighbourhood, all my friends, and I mean all of my friends, could hear my mother's loud and piercing whistles calling her kids home at day's end. As I rolled my eyes, everyone would look at me and say, "Hey Sawyer, looks like you got to go home, your mom is calling you." That was fine because it was a sign that they all had to go home too. 
      No saints, there were no long-lasting traumatic effects on my psyche. I know that today's sensitivities to every imaginable excuse and reason for therapy are out there. Called home by being whistled at may be detrimental and cause permanent scarring in today's child diagnosis handbook, but it was not that way back then. Being called home with the neighbourhood dogs who had also heard the high decibel whistles did not affect my charming nature or cool disposition. I may pant and howl when a fire truck goes by, but that is no reason to diagnose me as flawed or commit me to therapy. 
      Those three trilling high-frequency whistles that could clearly be heard, was a direct instruction that needed no words to accompany the sounding blast. It was distinctively my mother's whistle, and it was saying, "Time to come home, and do it now!" We are the Lord's children, or as such, His kids. We also have to keep the ears of our hearts open to hearing what the Spirit of the Lord is saying and to respond when He is calling us. Whether God has a type of whistle or gentle nudge that awakens our heart when He calls, we need to know that the instruction is clear and safe to follow. John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
      To hear the voice of the Lord is a tremendous blessing. Why would God make it difficult to hear His voice if He instructed us to obey His voice? Deut. 28:2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God. Responding to God's voice should not be confusing as so many make it out to be. God's leading is clear, but on the other hand, the enemy's deceptive directions always come with condemnation and confused dysfunction. God's voice and guidance bring peace. Prov. 16:20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful. 
      During one of Elijah's vulnerable times in his life, he needed to hear the voice of the Lord to know what to do next. Like many people who look for monstrous signs and wonders to be led, Elijah looked for God's voice in a cyclonic windstorm that scattered rocks on a mountainside and then in an earthquake, but it was not there. After the tremors, Elijah looks in a blazing fire but the Lord's voice was not there either. It was after all the noises had settled down did he finally hear God. 1Kings 19:12b And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. Elijah knew that he knew he was hearing from God and he was able to proceed with the mandate of his calling.
      The word of the Lord says that God speaks to us through His son Jesus. Heb. 1:2a Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things.  Much confusion comes to people when they stop reading the word of God and stop inquiring of God through prayer. People forget that the word clearly says, "Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and it is through Jesus that we will have fellowship with our heavenly Father." Keeping our ears and hearts tuned to the still soft voice or whistle God uses to get our attention is an acquired skill we are to keep learning throughout our walk with the Lord as long as we are on this earth.
      As I had to learn to hear and obey the hair-raising whistle my mother used to get us home, I must keep learning and hearing the voice of the Lord that will make sure I make it to my heavenly home. Heavenly Father, your voice is a wonder to behold. Thank you, Lord, that you speak to your children clearly and precisely with love. Jude 1:24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. Amen and amen!

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Pandoomic

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

      The Australian bush poet Patrick Joseph Hartigan wrote a funny poem about a pessimistic character named Hanrahan. Everything Hanrahan talked about was a doomsday warning. "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out" was his constant response to anything that was said with a positive outlook or hopefulness towards the future. As I listen to the dire predictions of the twenty-seventh or thereabouts wave of the worldwide pandoomic destroying our society as we know it, I cannot help but think of Hanrahan and his alarming warning of, "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."
       The fearful and alarming events happening these days should not come as a shock to those who read their bibles on a regular basis. The word of God clearly explains that there will be earth-shaking events that will paralyze the hearts of many because of the numerous world catastrophes that are taking place these days. Luke 21:26 Men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. One of the indicators revealing the end times is that the love of many would grow cold. Matt. 24:12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. The sad thing is that this coldness is also seeping into the church. I believe this is vexing the Holy Spirit. 
       It is difficult for people to be kind, or even optimistic because the fears within nations are being felt on a world scale. This catastrophic global epidemic is being felt by everyone and in a lot of cases is causing a reaction of numbing coldness in people's hearts. This frigidness of the heart is causing harsh decisions in government policies as well as individual tolerances toward one another. Matt. 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. 
      There seems to be a lot going wrong in this world. However, we do not have to be persuaded or affected by Hanrahan's way of seeing things, or walk around saying, "We'll all be rooned, before the year is out." No saints! We have the Lord of lords and the King of kings living within our hearts, and we can say what God says we are to say. "I am strong!" Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. Why can we confidently say this? Because if God is for us, what can the world do to us? Rom. 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
      The Lord said there would be trials and struggles, but to take heart because our Lord has overcome the world and all that the world can throw at us. John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. I have to ask you as well as myself an important question. If we are having such a hard time loving and being kind to each other during this world pandemic crisis, what will we be like when the anti-Christ shows up with death threats? History shows us that what we are going through right now has happened many times before, and with the courage of heart, people got through it. We can also get through it.
      There is nothing new here. Wars and pandemics have affected societies throughout history. At no time did God get dethroned or killed off. The Lord is still in charge of our soul if we have given it to Him. Jesus is still the Lord of all. Those who are running around in fear and proclaiming, "We'll all be rooned, before the year is out," and are controlled by their fears and unbridled angry emotions are not to be followed. Prov.10:12a Hatred stirreth up strifes.
      We who are in Christ are to keep our hearts tuned to the Holy Spirit so that we can do the things needed to get through these times. Dan. 11:32b But the people who know their God will be strong and take action. We are the ones to set the precedents of what the love of God looks like during troubling events. The love of God is not cold but rather warms the hearts of man. 1Cor. 13:4a Love is patient, love is kind. Maybe there is a lot of Hanrahan type of people out there who continually say, "This pandoomic will be the end of us all," but we do not have to take part in their narrative. We belong to the Lord, and He has set our future in His eternal plan. Jer. 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. So be it, Lord, I'll take your plan for my life. Blessings be upon us all.