“Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:13, NKJ
“Grip it and rip it!” I hadn’t ever heard that one. A kid, a frikk’n kid, who still holds a few NCAA Division 1 passing records, a gifted athlete, was taunting me like the baggie jeaned old coot I felt that I was during that round of golf. I was about to hit my best shot of the day, off an elevated tee-box in the clean, thin mountain air, and the wind was at my back. He had out drove me almost 20 yards on a consistent basis all day. I was getting tired of this heckling. As I approach my ball, I heard him, “Grip it and rip it!” The interpretation in my mind was, “Don’t have a heart attack gramps. Go ahead, risk fudging your Huggie and swing hard!” So, I rehearsed in my brain, “normal swing… head down… good contact… don’t try to kill it” and obliged him with a smoking drive right down the middle. I’ve been playing the game for most of my life! My ball was easily 290-300 yards out there. Daddy was feeling good! So Cody tees it up next and I said, “Rip it yourself.” So he did. About the time we drove up close enough in the carts to see that his ball was probably 35 yards in front of mine, Cody asked me, “Hey Mike, have you heard about the new Walmart that’s going to be built in this neighborhood?” I should have seen it coming, “No. What about it?” With a charming grin and devil-like shark eyes glaring, “They’re going to build it on the parcel of land between where your ball is setting and where mine flew over.” Of course our cart partners are laughing their butts off. I grunted, “That’s what this world needs, another smart-ass kid.” You would have thought he’d just won the Masters. Long day. Where the crap is that frikk’n beer cart?
“Grip it and rip it!” works. Wisdom is the subject. Solomon is talking to his kids and telling them to hold tight to the truth, build their lives around those precious helps and guard those delicacies of God as if their life depended on it. I had Nicole (my eldest daughter) with me one time in Africa. She was young, beautiful and quite the novelty. I would get slightly nervous for her to be too far out of my sight. When we would get into ministry situations where hundreds of people would line up for prayer, I would make arrangements with the pastor for someone to watch Nicole. I couldn’t be in two-places at a time. I didn’t think too much about my defensive posture while we were in Africa. A couple months later, that same African pastor was in Texas at the church I had started. He told my congregation, while laughing, that I protected Nicole in Africa like she was an egg. At first, I thought that was a silly analogy, until I remembered that most of my compensation in those villages was eggs and chickens. What they gave was indeed fragile, but precious to them. My daughter was precious to me, so I’ll admit I could have been a bit paranoid and grossly over protective, but we usually take care with what is precious to us. Solomon wanted his sons and daughters to clutch tightly to wisdom. He knew the course that lay before them had challenges, traps and peril. Wisdom is long and straight… right down the middle. Keep your head down and ignore the chatter. Focus. Grip it and rip it!
I have a buddy that likes to post images that make him chuckle. Most of it feeds his techno-warped dry sense of humor, and they are indeed funny. I’m sort of the same way about statements that I read that unmask vain religious spirits. I have a good radar for this sort of thing, because I have a closet full of this nasty stuff. If I’m not real careful, I’ll pull those things out and wear them… until I hear God chuckle at me and I realize He’s not impressed. I’ll hear Him say things like, “Doofus, that mask you are wearing is impressive.” That pretty much sends all the message I need to hear. Here is something that I read early this morning in my Rohr devo:
“There is no more effective way to run from God than to be overly religious, to be involved in pious and holy things only for our own sake.”
No reason for me to hammer on that. Read it a couple times, settle your spirit, be quiet and the lessons will bubble to the surface.
Yeah, this is the stuff that makes me smile.
“He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” Proverbs 18:13, NKJ
I’m bringing personal baggage today, but let me lay down a disclaimer that I am working on this issue in my life. Although I can pinpoint the trait back to how my family rolls when we get excited, the blame is squarely upon my shoulders now. I know better and my sweet wife helps me keep it in check with loving critiques. I’m referring to the nasty habit of talking over another person when they’re trying to make a point or just sharing information. If I don’t pay attention, I’ll cut you off in a heartbeat with my own grand exposition. Of course, what I’m talking about is of major importance, so it’s more important that you pay attention. Over the years, I’ve watched how we (some members of my birth family) roll in communication. It’s not that uncommon for everyone to talk at the same time. Then, if we realize that no one is listening, the only tactic left it to just talk louder! It’s quite comical but extremely frustrating at times. Sometimes, you just know that needed phone call is going to require you to listen carefully and say very little to actually get through it without ripping the phone cord out of the wall. It’s our way, but it’s not too effective. As I said, I’m working on it.
Part of the problem is the “me monster” effect. When that bad boy begins to manifest, people get offended. Not everyone has the stomach for our kind of entertainment or drama. Overall, we need to kill the “me monster” and genuinely get interested in someone else’s ideas, besides just our own. We have all this technology and means of communication, but it’s actually not helping our manners. In fact, it may be inflating the problem. My wife recently told me that she thinks people who do not respond to phone messages, emails, texts or any other attempt to be reached for communication, and I quote, “It’s rude! Downright rude!” It’s like being in your house and a friend or family member drops by to check on you. They ring the doorbell, but you won’t answer the door because you can’t take the time to be inconvenienced, all the while, your guest stands on your front porch, knowing you are in the house and you won’t come to the door! She’s right, it is “downright rude”. It could be that we have jammed our lives with so much chronos eating activity that we don’t think we can spare time for those we really do love. It’s probably about time that we rethink the messages that we are projecting.
Solomon is laying down some real practical help here. One of the side notes in the NET Bible, mentions that the Mishnah (the oral traditions of the Law) taught that a person who will not listen, over talks in communication, over states facts, and impatiently cuts off another person’s dialogue with their own responses, gives evidence to a lack of manners and culture. Wisdom says, “It is shameful” and yes Ms. Patti, it is rude! It definitely conveys the signal that we are too engrossed in our own ideas. We need to do better. “I’m sorry… what did you say?”
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Proverbs 1:10, NAS
Solomon begins a twelve-verse warning (Proverbs 1:8-19) about negative peer pressure with the words, “Hear, my son… ” Proverbs 1:8, NAS. It’s the first time we hear Solomon bring the affectionate designation. Solomon goes there again in today’s text, “My son… ” Proverbs 1:10, NAS. He is establishing the love connection between himself and his child! He wants what He loves, to know deeply that truth before anything else is communicated. Once that connection is solid with his son, the information can be relayed and received without controlling strings attached.
I began writing this devo a couple days ago, but multiple interruptions wouldn’t allow me past that first paragraph. It is a few days later now, very early in the morning. I had a dream last night and was lying in bed thinking through that dream, when suddenly He begin to remind me of the last couple of weeks of my life. Patti and I currently work with a foreign missions organization and the bulk of our duties are pastoral in nature, which primarily manifest in mentoring and discipleship with the staff of the organization. Although they have each other for hanging out in friendship context, our directives and personal life mandates have more to do with going spiritually and emotionally deeper with those who pursue that from us. The more aggressive they are, the more permission we have to go deeper. It frees us to “call them out” into a higher purpose! We do “call them out”, but God is the only one that can get them to where they are supposed to go! All of this to say, the Lord showed me a few scenes from this past few weeks that revealed what happens as we (the learner and the teacher, the disciple and the one who disciples, or the spiritual parent and spiritual son or daughter) go deeper. I didn’t realize it when it happened, but it happened. He showed me a few scenes where I actually called the person I was talking to, a name of affection, that is not their birth name. My natural daughters, who are married women, rarely hear even now, me call them by their birth name. They hear me call them, either a rendition of their birth name or another name I gave them in their childhood; a specific name that has more “heart” in it than anything else. I remembered this morning, specifically using that “heart” name a couple of times while counseling a few individuals through some moderately painful processes. I didn’t notice it at the time, but I’m guilty. I did that. I seriously doubt they or anyone else would ever get the “heart” in it, but this source gets it, loud and clear.
Patti and I are deeply southern. We can dish out “Baby”, “Sweetie”, and “Honey” like fried chicken at a Baptist picnic! We grew up in homes where guest, new friends and old friends were greeted with a kiss and a Schlitz or whatever else the bartender had stocked. Affection, kisses, hugs and lovey nicknames are just our way. Our northern friends think we’re strange and religious folk deem us bound, but we know how our Father greets us (let me assure you that it isn’t with a stiff side-hug) and what He calls us. You’d blush if you really knew how the Lord addresses me when he wants to download. It is so real and so un-religiously raw, it makes me laugh. I forget sometimes that not everyone sees and hears like that also.
Have you ever believed that you live in a season that has a theme? The past two weeks, there has been a reoccurring theme that keeps surfacing. It prompts me to believe that most people do not know who HE says they are and more specifically, they don’t know their name of affection from the Father. There is nothing more life altering than hearing what your Heavenly Father says about you. Natural parents, spiritual parents, pastors, mentors, lovers, BFF’s and even soul mates, can only implant love and truth so deep. We need to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit, the voice of our Father, say our name. After we hear our name, we can easily receive His deeper truths about who we are and where we are to go.
Nothing feels better than to watch and hear your natural and spiritual children bring Truth! As the mother of three children herself, Lorna Hering has learned what it means to be a “good” daughter, regardless of the good, bad or ugly raising she got spiritually. Patti and I actually point to her as the catalyst of our post-desert ministry! We were floating down stream until she called us out again! In truth, Lorna was born for this kind of stuff! It is worth your time to listen to the message she preached at ECF on Sunday, February 27th, entitled: DNA. Sista girl went off! Thanks Lorna! You bless our heart! -MDP-