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A Beautiful Woman Too Often Scorned

 20 Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city, she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.
24 “Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel, And did not want my reproof;
26 I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm, And your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come on you.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD.
30 “They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them, And the complacency of fools shall destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely, And shall be at ease from the dread of evil.”

 (Proverbs 1:20-1 NASB)

I don’t want to write much here for the lesson is clear but I do want to make a few simple observations that are on my mind.

  1. Calamity and dread in the lives of those who love God are a given.  Following and loving Jesus does not mean that the life you will experience will now be free of trouble.
  2. God’s voice is not silent.  Frankly, it is never silent.  It is crying out daily for us to bend our minds and hearts to hear and heed.
  3. The fool is not the one who does not know, but the fool who hears and does not heed God’s word and wisdom.
  4. The time to learn true wisdom is when the good and peaceful times are present.  But for the fool those times are for play, not work.
  5. There is little sympathy to those who have had ample opportunity to store up wisdom but do not.  When the pain of folly washes their feet from under them, this beautiful woman of wisdom laughs.  This is painful to read, but it is even more painful to experience.
  6. The only thing worse than being a person who has spurned wisdom and now desperately seeks it is the person who, in the midst of calamity hardens their heart even more.  Oh what a broken and contrite heart before the Lord accomplishes.

Pastoral Prayer from Psalm 11

Summary of this Psalm: David is in danger of his life; and fearful and faint-hearted counselors are trying to get him to flee and find safety by running away.  But David is full of unshaken faith in God.  The result is that he rejects the counsel of the friends, believes that the Lord is still the sovereign King and speaks accordingly.  He knows that God may try and test His servants, but He shall never forsake them.  Therefore, David understands that it is not the righteous, but the wicked who truly should fear. (from The Book of Psalms, Perowne, p. 171)

Father, You are my refuge

A fortress that cannot be shaken

A stronghold that cannot be breached.

A hiding place that is truly hidden

From the searching eyes of my enemies.

But,

I find that there are so many voices

Innumerable whispers

To flee and not run

To wander and not focus my eyes upon Jesus

To trust in man, when man always fails

To give up when I know my Lord has won the battle.

So,

Silence these calls to flee

Let your unfailing promises ring in my ears

And the glory of the bloody Cross stand before me

As I contemplate my Risen King.

Father, the foundations of our land are failing,

We stand on the precipice of failure

Good is now bad and bad is now good.

Lips are loosened that should be silent

While, mouths are closed that should be crying out as one in the wilderness

Father, may your Spirit open our eyes to your settled gaze

You who sit above the vain murmurings of man

You who test the hearts of man

Knowing what they don’t even know themselves

Seeing what only the Creator can see.

Let your wrath be kindled in due time

That judgment and justice might flow like a river

Sweeping all who love wickedness in the lake of your wrath.

Finally Father, cause your face to shine up your children

Let our sorrow be turned back to joy

Our burdens be fully lifted,

Our tears be wiped away.

Until that time, let us continue to proclaim in life and deed

That our Lord reigns

In righteousness

In mercy

In faithfulness

And in love.

The Wilderness Wanderings

It is funny how your perspective as a young child is incredibly small and self-focused.  Or maybe it was just me.  I assumed I would be fed and I assumed I would have a home to go to and a bed to sleep in.  Though my father traveled a lot I assumed he would come home and I always knew my mother was there, ready to give a hug.  What I didn’t know what that as a youngster my father struggled to pay our bills.  I was number six of seven children and times were very tight.  We would drive to church each week and would pass our second car parked in the parking lot of a gas station, waiting to be repaired.  We would wave at it and us small ones would laugh, thinking how fun it was to see our car there.  Never realized it was there for months simply because there was no money to fix it.

I say this because there came a time when my Dad told the family that we were moving to California, someplace called Carmichael (a suburb of Sacramento).  Littleton, Colorado was soon a place of my past.  To me, it was an adventure, something filled with excitement.  Unknown to me it was because my father was  transferred by his company.  Even more unknown was that he was transferred to get him out of the “way” since he was creating problems by standing on actual principles rather than merely a pursuit of profit.  I never gave it a thought that my parents were leaving the church they loved.  We were just moving.

Once we arrived in Carmichael life changed a lot for me.  My two oldest brothers moved out and things were just different from there on out.  The 60’s were in full swing and the Henry home was not immune to its effects.  We went to another Brethren church but it was not the same.  It was small and cold and we never seemed to really connect there.  We eventually left it and started, for a short time, to meet with a few other families in a home.  All I remember from that time was that when we celebrated the Lord’s Supper that we used a common cup and it was real wine–something they forgot to tell me.  A ten-year-old needs to know that sort of thing before he takes a swig of something he believes to be grape juice.  I doubt the stain ever was removed from that carpet.  Again, in my youthfulness I was unaware that the reason we had left the church was due to open racism against a black family.  My dad stood against it and paid the price.

We then left the Brethren and ended up in a E V Free church.  Again it was just a church and we just sort of went there.  Nothing stands out in this church because it just existed.  And so did we.  We continued to live in Carmichael until the middle of the 7th grade for me.  From there we left for Idaho, where my father had left the company and bought a partnership in a insurance agency, a long time dream of his.  But, spiritually speaking we still just wandered.  The town was Nampa, and there were only 34,000 people living there (second largest city in Idaho) and so there were not a lot of churches to choose from.  We tried Brethren churches, the few that were there were colder than ice.  Then it was Bible churches, but no help there.  Ultimately we landed in a Nazarene church, a huge one of over 2,500 people.  It was the best we could find but it was not much when it came to breathing the gospel into the hearts of its people.  Mostly it was about the “Manual” and keeping all of its rules. It was this church where I stayed until I was 21 and moved out on my own.

I write all of this history not to bore, but to contemplate the effects a father has upon his home.  My father loved and still loves Jesus.  But when that company kicked him down for doing right it was the entrance into a time of great spiritual depression for my father.  And the result was a great famine in the life of his household.  He kept pressing on, but for some reason the Lord did not see fit to bring him and us into a sound, gospel-centered church  It is sad that I cannot look back over almost 13 years of living and have any significant spiritual memory.  But that was the way it was.  Not only was my dad in a funk, but I ended up there as well as I entered into adulthood.

I threw myself into karate and tennis.  I love my dirt bike and my freedom.  And I thought I loved a girl whom my father forbade me to see.  Just before my 18th birthday I saw her drive by me while I was on my motorcycle.  I knew she was headed to her home and I turned quickly around to catch up to her.  A couple blocks down and suddenly a car was in my lane coming the other way and I struck it head on.  The injuries where ones filled with grace, for they removed by force some idols of my heart.  But there were many more in there and over the next few years the Lord faithfully and painfully scourged me.

I look back now and I see also something else happened that was devastating to my spiritual growth and health.  The gospel got lost somewhere.  I am not sure where, but I am pretty sure that our seven years in a Nazarene church did not help.  The faithful believers there were always busy trying to be “entirely sanctified;” while the others were busy either just playing by the rules of the Manual or getting re-saved every other Sunday.

The gospel became cheap and I began to view is as a way into the Kingdom of God but not something I needed to continue in.  Now it was time to be busy doing Christian ‘thing’ and get holy.  And over time the cross became less and less in my vision, and my soul suffered deeply for it.  Sad really, every Sunday I would attend church, and somehow my soul is not washed in the gospel.

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