A Rod for the Fool’s Back

Proverbs 26:3 – A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

Oh Lord, the rod of your caring correction has been upon this fool’s back. Thank you for opening my eyes to see that the hardships in my life have not been merely disconnected incidents of random happenstance. Rather, they have been manifestations of your fatherly providence: chastising me, guiding me, persuading me, protecting me (from myself and the evil one), leading this prodigal back to Your house.

Lord, forgive my stubbornness. Lord, please do not take Your rod away from me. The rod of your correction comforts me, though painful for a season. Please do not leave me to my wayward passions. Too much foolishness is still in my heart. Lord, help me to learn the lessons You have designed for me in Your providence. I pray for Your wisdom.

Lord, forgive my sins for the sake of Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The Snare

On this date in 2005, I wrote the following blurb:

What is it but a mad dash? A stumble through the darkness? A bashed knee upon the pavement? A “fuck you” in the bitterness and a knife in the throat? A smile in the halls of the office.

My perspective has changed (thankfully) from what it was 16 years ago.

This morning, I am up early, reading the Proverbs, just finishing my first cup of coffee. Part of the reason I’m up so early (4:30 today) is that I am 16 years older. Boy, do I feel it in my neck! It feels better to be upright. (That’s not a statement on morality. But it is true in a moral sense too.)

I logged onto my website to update the page for Proverbs 16 and noticed the above blurb under the “Posts on This Day” section. This is what came to mind as I read my previous, dark, unhappy words:

Proverbs 29:6 – In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.

Previous to 2005 (more accurately, previous to 1999), I enjoyed many years of singing and rejoicing because I lived differently. I lived as a sincere Christian. I had faith and hope so that, even in very trying times, even through sadness, I had joy while trusting Jesus and living in His ways. (See my post, “Where I Used to Live” for more.)

But by my own evil transgressions, I forgot the Lord. I stopped trusting Him. I walked in darkness. I stumbled. The bloodied knees were of my own doing. That knife at my throat was held by my own hand! Sinister forces in the darkness were eager for me to plunge it into my own neck. The phony smiles in the office were the lackluster facade of a man with a guilty conscience. I was not engaging with people with sincerity, courage, and love.

During 2021, the “mad dash” stopped for me. I am so thankful that the Lord’s light began to shine in my heart again. His word became alive again. Now when I read it each day, I am able to connect to it. I am able to pray. I am even able to sing to the Lord with sincerity. That had not happened for many years. I am also able to see my sins in that light. I see that they only bring a snare for my soul. They rob the joy out of my heart.

These words, also from the Proverbs, sum things up nicely:

Proverbs 4:18, 19 – But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

A Soft Answer

Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Yesterday, while waking through a busy Walmart parking lot with my family, I witnessed something that reminded me of Proverbs 15:1. Cars were pulling in and out. People were walking in various directions. It was a bit chaotic.

A family was walking in the opposite direction to us as a car was turning into the lane. There wasn’t much room for cars and pedestrians. The car stopped. The passenger window lowered. I heard an angry voice. The father of the family coming toward us was surprised and stopped for a moment. A person in the vehicle was angrily talking to him.

The situation made me nervous. You never know what someone might impulsively do when they are angry, especially behind the wheel of a vehicle. Something tragic could easily happen given how many people were walking and how close the cars were to us.

To my great relief, the man walking kindly said to the person to the angry person in the car, “I am very sorry. I did not know. It wasn’t intentional.” He then continued to walk with his family. The driver slowly continued and calmly parked in the next open spot.

I have no idea why the driver was angry. Even the man he yelled at didn’t seem to know. I admired that man for softly answering, thereby turning away the other man’s wrath. Where some people would be ready for a fight and would have let some grievous words fly in reply, this man humbly apologized and moved along. It all happened in a matter of seconds. But it was refreshing to witness.

Boulder Beast – 2021

Lock Haven
View of boulder field from downtown Lock Haven, PA
Bald Eagle Mountain
Jupiter and Moon above Bald Eagle Mountain
Race start/finish line
Bald Eagle Mountain emerging from the fog
Trail on the way to the boulder field
boulder field
Out of the woods and onto the boulder field
Boulder Field
Boulder field in the fog
Boulder Field
Boulder field (seems unending)
Boulder Field
Boulder Field with view of Lock Haven

Beware of an Unsanctified Knowledge of Christianity

Good Reading

I’m posting this here as a reminder to myself. The following words from J. C. Ryle on Luke 4:33 – 44 grabbed me this morning.

First, the section of Luke about which Ryle writes:

Luke 4:33 – 44

33. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,
34. Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee; thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
35. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
36. And they were all amazed, and spake among theselves, saying, What a word is this! For with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
37. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
38. And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
39. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her; and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
40. Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
41. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
42. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.
43. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.

Ryle’s remarks:

We should notice, in this passage, the clear religious knowledge possessed by the devil and his agents. Twice in these verses we have proof of this. “I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God,” was the language of an unclean devil in one case – “Thou art Christ the son of God,” was the language of many devils in another. Yet this knowledge was a knowledge unaccompanied by faith, or hope, or charity. Those who possessed it were miserable fallen beings, full of bitter hatred both against God and man.

Let us beware of an unsanctified knowledge of Christianity. It is a dangerous possession, but a fearfully common one in these latter days. We may know the Bible intellectually, and have no doubt about the truth of its contents. We may have our memories well stored with its leading texts, and be able to talk glibly about its leading doctrines. And all this time the Bible may have no influence over our hearts, and wills, and consciences. We may, in reality, be nothing better than the devils.

Let it never content us to know religion with our heads only. We may go on all our lives saying, “I know that, and I know that,” and sink at last into hell, with the words upon our lips. Let us see that our knowledge bears fruit in our lives. Does our knowledge of sin make us hate it? Does our knowledge of Christ make us trust and love Him? Does our knowledge of God’s will make us strive to do it? Does our knowledge of the fruits of the Spirit make us labor to show them in our daily behavior? Knowledge of this kind is really profitable. Any other religious knowledge will only add to our condemnation at the last day.

– Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1
– J. C. Ryle, 1858