Chasing the Wind

Leviticus 21; Psalms 26–27; Ecclesiastes 4; 1 Timothy 6

And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. -Ecclesiastes 4:4

Eccleiastes has been proclaimed to be one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time. King Solomon, the author (and son of King David) was considered to be one of the wisest and richest men who ever lived. He knew very well what he was writing about. I on the other hand am neither wise or wealthy, but I have been familiar with both through most of my life.

Please forgive me if this sounds boastful, but in my extended family I have seen or been made aware of fortunes that have come and gone. At times I have experienced the effects of both the windfalls and fallout from wealth; witnessing pride from accomplishments of innovation and industry.

Not surprisingly a sense entitlement had grown through the generations, it moved past sustaining yesterday’s achievements to the decadence of wealth without work. Like the withering vine of yesterday’s will to create enterprise, the generations grew into a future where they placed more value upon the worldly gains that had come before, than on the faith of the past. One by one they fell into despair and confusion. Their trust funds couldn’t save them from the emptiness that crept into their souls.

Despite the growing darkness, there was always a flickering light of truth in the distance. The family’s acts of philanthropy had brought hope and opportunity to the underprivileged and outcasts, and inspiration to the generations. Schools, colleges, centers and clubs were funded along with research to enhance life through science and service. In their acts of kindness and sacrifices of time and treasure, the light grew stronger.

I have witnessed the powerful reach of wealth beyond the grave, trying to control the destiny of future generations. Personally I was invited to live a life devoted to the power of self and the wisdom of the world, but I have also seen the power of a different legacy in the lives of those who pursued the true light of the world — Jesus Christ. Their lives reflected the light of personal transformation, one that was only possible in the surrender to the will of God. This offered a different life and a legacy for future generations.

Everyone I have known, including myself who have chased after the wind, to the best of my knowledge, have never found what they were looking for, only vanity.

Life’s Journey

Concept of time with funny businessman running in a hurry

Leviticus 20; Psalm 25; Ecclesiastes 3; 1 Timothy 5

Did you know Apple released the first iPhone on June 29, 2007? Over the last two quarters of that year, about 1.4 million iPhones (units not dollars) were sold.  By the end of 2015, only 8.5 years later, Apple had annual iPhone unit sales of more than 230 million.  Isn’t it absolutely crazy to think sales went from 0 to 230 million, and the iPhone went from a luxury to a mainstream device, in less than a decade?  Ten years ago, would you have ever dreamt you would be carrying ONE device that provides access to a wealth of information, can take and store pictures, can translate your speech into text messages, can track your heart rate, can pay for your groceries, and so much more…in your pocket?

This storyline isn’t unique to the 21st century.  Between 1908 and 1927, the development and adoption of Ford’s Model T car illustrated the same point – this world changes at a rapid pace.  It can, at times, be a little overwhelming.  (Just ask those connected to Kodak and Blockbuster, two great companies who couldn’t change fast enough to stay in business.)

I contrast the story of frenzied technological change, which we experience every day, to the words of truth recorded in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. This passage naturally stirs my heart. Maybe because I hear it most often at funerals.  Read it aloud, do you feel a sense of calm and comfort?  The rhythm, “a time to… and a time to… a time to… and a time to…” is soothing as Solomon takes the reader on a poetic journey through a range of life’s activities.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

The sense of comfort, however, comes from something more impactful than poetic patterns or meters. It comes from the foundational truth that God is sovereign, meaning he has supreme power or authority.  Solomon begins chapter 3 by reminding us that there is a season or time for EVERYTHING.  Notice verses 2-8 don’t just list good things.  They talk about death, weeping, mourning and hatred as well as life, laughing, dancing and love.  All these things, both good and bad, exist in this world.  God uses his supreme power and authority to work ALL of them together to accomplish his purpose.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time.

The first verse and chorus of Colton Dixon’s song Through All of It provide a comforting reminder that He is our God through all life’s seasons, both good and bad.

There are days I’ve taken more than I can give.  And there are choices that I made, that I wouldn’t make again.  I’ve had my share of laughter, of tears and troubled times.  This is has been the story of my life.

I have won, and I have lost.  I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not. Life’s been a journey, I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret.  Oh and You have been my God through all of it.

Training Plan

Leviticus 19; Psalms 23–24; Ecclesiastes 2; 1 Timothy 4

Last Wednesday around 3:30 AM I was lying in bed wide awake. The alarm was set for 4:30 AM and I wanted to go back to sleep, but thoughts of the new day were creeping in. The thoughts started with my excitement for that day’s workout; first a spin class (indoor cycling as part of a classroom format) then Tabata (high intensity interval training), then finish with 10-15 minutes of deep, intensive stretching. While this for some might sound like pure torture, for me it has become exhilarating and extremely rewarding to push my body to its limits – I love it! I hadn’t had an intense workout in four days and was really missing it; my body was rested and ready to go.

Except it wasn’t time to go yet, so I started praying. Since I was thinking about exercise, I started by thanking God for making the human body with purpose. I was thanking him for giving me the strength to exercise, for the joy that it brings to me, for what the human body is capable of, and for the health benefits that come with exercise.

My medical understanding of exercise is that it benefits us in many ways such as controlling blood pressure, helps keep cholesterol at proper levels, strengthens the heart, and helps us maintain a healthy weight (and much more). From my own experience, when I think of exercise I enjoy “sweating out my problems”, where I’ll go for a long run and really process a situation; it helps me think positive and oftentimes brings clarity through the fog. I also love the after-effects of exercise; increased energy, the feeling of accomplishment, and the post-workout shower is a great reward.

There is a problem though. Exercise involves physically training a human body, and human bodies are not built to last forever. Physical training is a temporary investment in something that will eventually fail and die. Just like Ecclesiastes 2 where we read about the futility or vanity of pleasure, work, or even living wisely; while enjoyment of these things is a blessing from God, they all will fade in this life.

There is a solution to this problem. It is called Godly training. Godly training is a spiritual investment in something that will last for an eternity.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Godliness is of value in every way. What a great promise! I’m reflecting on the post God Speaking to Us where David LaFrance mentioned that Godly training has strengthened his soul and state of mind. He also uses words like revived and restored, and shared that God’s word breathes “new life” into him.

Training in Godliness trains us how we should live so that we can live abundantly. Today’s scripture reading has numerous, valuable training instructions as an explanation of the ten commandments including:

  • Revere (honor) your mother and father and observe God’s Sabbaths (days of rest). Leviticus 19:3
  • Do not turn to idols; Leviticus 19:3.
  • Give to the poor; Leviticus 19:10
  • Don’t steal, don’t lie; Leviticus 19:11
  • Don’t swear falsely using God’s name. Leviticus 19:12
  • Don’t oppress or rob your neighbor. Leviticus 19:13
  • Treat people with disabilities fairly. Leviticus 19:14
  • Judge in righteousness; not out of partiality. Leviticus 19:15
  • Don’t gossip. Stick up for your neighbor. Leviticus 19:16
  • Don’t hate. Leviticus 19:17
  • Love your neighbor. Leviticus 19:18

Spending time thinking through that list reminds me of much room for improvement and some necessary repentance. How about you?

God, thank you for the instruction you give through your word as it guides us, corrects us, and points us toward you. Thank you for allowing us to experience pleasure and joy here on Earth. May we experience these gifts in a way that honors you. Please show us where we may be idolizing earthly pleasures and experiences so that we may put you in the rightful place in our lives as our first and foremost. We recognize this life on Earth is temporary, but your kingdom is forever; thank you for the grace and mercy that we receive through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.


Young stray dog sleeping on pavement in india

Leviticus 18; Psalm 22; Ecclesiastes 1; 1 Timothy 3

Psalm 22 is known as a prayer of lament.  What does that mean?  Lament, according to is “a formal expression of sorrow, or mourning.”  You hear these clearly in David’s words, right?  At the time he is writing this, his very life is in danger.  His own son has taken over the kingdom and now wants David permanently eliminated.  Knowing this, David cries out in anguish for God to help him, saying “why have you forsaken me?” Yet, God’s help doesn’t show up.  Have you ever had a similar experience?  Maybe your circumstance was not as extreme as David’s, but we all have times that we simply need help.  There are two things about David’s plea that capture me.  First, he is brutally honest and second, even in desperation, he acknowledges that only God can provide what he needs.

To some, David’s honesty might seem disrespectful.  Can we ask God why he has forsaken us?  I actually catch myself thinking that this is a selfish prayer.  Aren’t I suppose to shut up and endure?  Isn’t that what faith is?  Who am I to question God?  Additionally, when I come to him that way, don’t I sound like a selfish and spoiled child?

The answer to those questions come from David in verse 3 as he formally acknowledges God’s position of authority and deity.  He says, you are enthroned as the Holy One, you are the one Israel praises.  Don’t you see David’s true heart here?  Yes, he is crying out to God for relief, and, at the same time his heart is submissive.  How could God accept this as anything but absolute worship?  Furthermore, by acknowledging God and identifying with who He is, David effectively removes any selfish motives from his heart.  Basically saying, since you are who you are, I am willing to endure whatever you have me endure.  Do you hear the echo of Jesus in this?  Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane?  He is under intense stress because of the burden upon him asking God for the same relief.  Luke 22:44 suggests that Jesus’ stress was so great, he was sweating blood!  Despite the agony, Jesus embraces his lot saying, “yet not my will be done, but  yours.”  At that moment, Jesus gave God his greatest possession.  His very life.  Pure Worship.

Virtuous Woman: Man’s Call to Action

Originally published on

Today’s reading: Leviticus 17; Psalms 20–21; Proverbs 31; 1 Timothy 2

April 13th, 2016.


The Virtuous Woman is a passage that I am afraid may often be misunderstood. If you read this passage and hear a to do list, you are not alone. It was a year or so back that Jamie and I got a bit of advice from a good friend in reference to this scripture. Jamie had felt a need to ‘check the boxes’ when reading it, but it seemed impossible. The advice came in the form of a simple story that revealed a new perspective on the purpose of this passage. It begins with a woman feeling like she is not measuring up to the Virtuous Woman. As she bears her heart to her friend, her friend tells her that she had never read the Virtuous Woman in that way. Her friend went on to explain that each Friday night at the dinner table her father would read this passage aloud to her mother, not as a measure but as a blessing. In this way the passage is not inserted into the home as an impossible to do list for the wife but a picture of the future full of encouragement and support. We have since learned this is a Jewish tradition called Eshet Chayil. It is an interesting observation that this passage was not written to a woman but to a man. I wonder then, what is a man to do with it?

God Speaking To Us

Today’s Reading : Leviticus 16; Psalm 19; Proverbs 30; 1 Timothy 1

Last Sunday Cal Jernigan talked about our times of darkness, dryness, despair, doubt, and discipline and reminded us about the Lord being our True Vine. Eleven times in John 15 Jesus tells us to, “abide in me.”  In order for us to abide, we need to submit and be patient.  Reading this passage about “abiding in me” helped me to reflect  on parts of Psalm 19.


Psalm 19: 7-9 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 


As I reflect on these few verses often I would  think of “the law” and look at it as something that kept me from doing something or handcuffing us from fun. Except, in the case of His law that actually converts us, makes us wise, rejoices our hearts, enlightens our eyes, warns us, and rewards us.  This is our law provided by Him, for us, and a way we should live.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: 

This Law of the Lord, is perfect, it provides us with the direction we need to move from our fallen state to a fulfilled eternity with Him. If our last sunrise or sunset is today, His perfect Word can revive your soul, giving you the hope you need to make it through anything.  Since I have created a habit of being in the scripture daily I can not begin to explain the difference it has made in my life. It has truly strengthen my soul and state of mind.  I would encourage spending time in the word throughout your day. Currently, my best time is in the morning before everyone is up with a nice cup of coffee. This time revives my soul and reminds me of His will for my day. Being revived or restored allows one to give his or her soul back to God and not try to use one’s own moral compass that often can point the wrong way. For myself when my soul is struggling during moments of the day where I try to do it all myself, I can turn to His Word and the right verse helps me in that situation. It truly breathes new life into me.The definition of sure is: confident in what one thinks or knows; having no doubt that one is right. For believers having this confidence in the Lord is different then when we didn’t have this faith.  Our physical, fleeting lives have been filled with instability and change. When we are without understanding of the scripture, it can leave you unsure of everything.  As my earthly, carefree, young, adult superman years fly lower; I realize it is less about me and more about Him. Life is different when you have faith in His Word. The promise He has made to us in Christian confidence is to be ready for our next life no matter when our time may be.  I’m thankful for the simple and perfect example of Grace and Love our Lord poured out for all of us.  At times I have and still let the world get the best of me and control my attitude and thoughts to the point where I’m trying to please everyone. This verse reminds me I need to focus on the Lord and  be humble and teachable through his Word. Always continue to be a disciple. Jeremiah 17:7 says But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,whose confidence is in him.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The Bible gives us an example of what is right and has always has been pure.   Knowing the law is perfect reminds us that his precepts and decrees are founded on righteousness. Free Grace given to us sets our hearts free. His Word converts our hearts and pours out joy into everyone and everything. Our eyes that were once blind, can now see. Psalm 33:4 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. This fear of the Lord is what washes us away from sin and sanctifies our heart.  God has provided us with His Word, and His commandments. He reminds us there will be a judgment for us all. The fear of the Lord is internal and lies in our heart, mind, and soul. God is never changed or shaken. He has gone before us and will never leave us. Deuteronomy 31:8.

In today’s reading we also read;  Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Followed by multiple verses in 1 Timothy 1 not to teach any other doctrine and that this law was not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient.  This law is good and the aim of our charge is love. Abide in the Word

Dear God,

Thank you for your law you have provided for us. Help us to use the Bible as a guideline for our life. Thank you for giving us your Word that we can go to at any moment and be in the presence of you. Thank you for giving us the light for our path that warns us of danger, and points us to the path that will lead to eternal life with God. We ask to keep us attached to the living Word throughout all our times of need.



“Parousia (greek): presence or coming. Referring to physical proximity…occurs most often in relation to the coming of the Lord Jesus as human history moves to closure.” (HCSB 2 Thessalonians)

Today’s Readings: Leviticus 15, Psalm 18, Proverbs 29, 2 Thessalonians 3

 Were you hoping I’d write about Leviticus 15 this morning? In my mind I see thin sheets of bible pages flapping furiously as folks rush to that page…not quite sure they remember what that chapter was all about! It was definitely the first read for me and after some research I was able to put a few of the pieces together in terms of the historical context. My take away from Leviticus 15 is really that fundamentally, God wants us to go through the process in order to achieve salvation. Once I got my snickers out (it helps if you actually eat a Snickers bar while reading) I really gained an appreciation for what the Israelites were going through. I learned that the frequent mention of “discharge” isn’t sexual in nature but rather refers to a chronic infection that affected much of the community. There are so many references to both men and women being considered unclean. Then there are so many steps in order to get clean. Of course the Israelites were human just like us, so surely a few short days after getting “clean” they made the same mistakes and were right back to square one of uncleanliness.

All of this ritual cleansing got me thinking about my own attempts at getting “clean.” My most recent trials have been related to clean eating. Inevitably, I last about a week scrupulously monitoring what I put into my body and making sure that I am following all the laws of clean eating. Then, when my time is up I go nuts. Sugar and carbs and high fructose corn syrup, oh my! As I think through this very real pattern that we all indulge in one way or another, I’m reminded again that I’m nothing but an Israelite in jeans and a t-shirt. I’m as unclean as it gets, stained by the chronic infection of sin. It’s all pretty overwhelming when I think it through, realizing that I’m going to continue to fall day after day. How can we change this pattern, this very human tendency that we have to fall into uncleanliness.

Then I arrived at second Thessalonians. Early on in the book this word parousia [pah roo SEE ah] appears. Paul uses it first to describe the glorious coming of Jesus Christ and the destruction of all his enemies. In today’s reading, chapter 3, he is warning the Thessalonians about irresponsible behavior. He reminds Christ’s followers to

“…keep away from any brother that is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6)

He goes on to say that we should not grow weary in doing good. He closes his letter to the Thessalonians by assuring them of his genuineness and that Christ is indeed near. When I think of this word parousia, I think of how I need some of it right now.

I need to feel that in the darkness of my jeans and t-shirt days that there is a feeling of parousia. We all need to feel that this process of building and testing our faith through our struggle is drawing us closer to Jesus. Sometimes, he just doesn’t feel so near. The truth is that he wants us to work and strive and fall down now and again in our attempts to be with him. This letter from Paul to Thessalonians is tangible piece of evidence to which we can hold fast. He is near. And so, friends, on this Monday morning we must not grow weary of doing good. Instead, let us continue in His work whether it be 7 acts of kindness for 7 precious lives lost here in Bloomington/Normal or just showing grace one more time when you just don’t think you have it in you. Yes, there is darkness but He is near, He is a presence in our lives and He is coming.


Breaking The Rules

Leviticus 14; Psalm 17; Proverbs 28; 2 Thessalonians 2

Don’t tell me what to think or do!

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.-Proverbs 28:14

I was never one that could follow instructions very well. If I had to read them, forget it, I never did. From my earliest memories the way I went through life was to do as I pleased. If I had to figure something out, I just jumped in usually failing. One thing I was really good at was taking things apart. The putting back together part, not so much.

“How did that all work out?” You might ask. Honestly, in some ways very well. I learned self reliance, how to adapt and innovate. I was a creative type and received some attention for that too. But that’s where the story turns. You see for me, and perhaps all of us, despite my independent spirit, I needed something more. I was searching for truth. Within my heart was the need to worship God, but even in the absence of God I was still made to worship something.

Without God, my purposes were self directed. Born to be a rule breaker, the idea of law to me was more like a game or a puzzle than something to take seriously. Discipline was a disruption to the freedom of my rebellious spirit.

Since I didn’t really know God, I was missing the point of it all. Surprisingly life really wasn’t about me, it was about God and other people. When I came to this understanding I wanted to know who God really was, and in that exploration, I came to know that God was Holy. Everything about God was above us. He was set apart and pure — flawless in goodness and righteousness.

To have fellowship with a holy God I needed purification because of my unholiness. For the Israelites this sanctification came from ritual sacrifice. And all the ritual sacrifice prescribed in the law of the Old Testament demonstrated how far from God even His chosen people were. There was intentional and unintentional sin. Even the the need for purification from contact with anything or anyone that was “unclean.” God’s ways were above ours and it was impossible to earn the right to have fellowship with God. Stay with me now.

When I was introduced to the idea of grace through faith, things started to change. I came to see God’s law as a representation of who He was compared to who I was. It wasn’t possible to earn my way back to God. If I was to be restored to fellowship with God that existed before sin came into the world, I needed grace — the grace that God poured out on the world through the blood of Jesus. Reconciliation with God was offered to everyone by grace, through faith. The righteousness through faith that Abraham received (Romans 4:13) was the same thing offered to me and all creation through Jesus. This was the freedom I was looking for and it came from love, not from following rules.

Eventually I understood the law for what it was which wasn’t just following a bunch of rules (important as they are). We are called to pursue holiness in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We are called to follow the righteous path which turned out to be the path back to the God who had already restored me in fellowship. It was the path of love. As God loved me I was supposed to love others as I loved myself. I was supposed to seek God first in all things. This was the actual path to God that I could walk in freedom and in truth.

The Bible is the story of how God in the flesh reconciled the judgement of the law with the power of grace. It was in His sacrifice that God demonstrated His love of the world and by which he perfected His creation. In this transaction, God for man, he allowed us to be united with God, by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16

God please make me whole. Restore me to your perfect will in the knowledge of your love and grace, by faith and through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Carpe Diem

time concept passing , hourglass on wood

Leviticus 13; Psalms 15–16; Proverbs 27; 2 Thessalonians 1

Psalm 16:5-8

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;  you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;  even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

This past Thursday, I read B.J.’s post and reflected on last year’s tragic plane crash and the impact it had on families, friends and our community as a whole.  It is really hard to believe a whole year has passed.  After our morning routine, my children and I got in the car and drove to school, just like we do every Monday – Friday.  But on this day, I was reminded the ordinary, mundane routine of everyday life was a blessing I got to enjoy.  Not everyone did.  I thought about seven families for whom the last year was anything but ordinary as they figured out new routines and a new cadence to life without their loved ones.  We paused to talk to God on our drive Thursday morning, and asked for his continued care and healing for these families.  This day was going to be an extra hard one for them.

As I dropped my kids off and pulled away from the school, Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) came on the radio.  I cried the rest of the way to work as I listened to and sang the words of verse 3 over and over again:

The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be,

As long as life endures.

My small group has been studying Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan, over the past few weeks.  The book, which challenges readers to engage in a passionate love relationship with God, includes a discussion about Judgment Day in Chapter 10.

Romans 14: 10, 12 – For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…each of us will give an account of himself to God.

After citing this passage, Chan challenges his readers to reflect on the following question: “How will you answer the King when He says, “What did you do with the Life I gave you?””  Ouch, that stings.  How would you answer? Are you confident about your response?  I’m not sure I am.  Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t void of God-honoring activities, but am I comfortable admitting I shopped on the internet for 3 hours, read a brainless spy novel, and watched more than 40 hours of basketball over the last 3 weeks?  After our group studied Chapter 10 on Wednesday night, it stands to reason why I couldn’t get the lyrics, “as long as life endures” out of my head on Thursday.  Jesus came so that we could have life and could have it abundantly (John 10:10).  But he does not promise us how long we get to stay here.  We are not guaranteed another single moment, hour or day.  As such, we should be compelled to challenge ourselves with a sense of urgency – what are we doing, today, with the life God gave us?

Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace closes with this final verse:

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine.

But God, Who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

We may or may not live until the end of time when Jesus’ returns. We may or may not have our lives cut short by tragedy.  What I do know for sure – we will all die at some point.  What we do between now and then is our choice.  Choose wisely.


The word detest (or detestable) is used eleven times in Leviticus 11. This word was used in describing the animals and insects that the Jewish people were to abstain from touching or eating.

Leviticus 11–12; Psalms 13–14; Proverbs 26; 1 Thessalonians 5

God was conveying that these detestable things would make them unclean, defiled, and the people would become detestable themselves should they break God’s commands within this realm. I see this as another example of what I like to refer to as “binary”; it is one thing or the other, and nothing in between. God is holy (set apart) and therefore he expects us to be holy because he is holy. We can be either holy or unholy, clean or unclean.

For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44-45)

One of the unclean animals was the pig and reading this reminded me of a verse from the Sermon on the Mount that had previously been confusing to me:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6)

Dogs and Pigs

In the east, dogs are much more viscous; they are considered dirty and detestable, similar to how the pig was detestable. Picture yourself passing by a fence, and a big nasty looking dog comes running, snarling, growling, barking, and jumping at the fence with the intent to attack you. This actually happened to me just the other day and it scared the heck out of me!

Holy and Pearls

Things that are holy to us, or our “pearls” are God’s word and his precious truth. We need to treat God’s word as sacred and use it with the special intent that it was given. Tying this all together, the verse is saying that we should not be attempting to give God’s precious truth to those who have the intent to twist or abuse the truth or to use it to attack us. It might seem odd to suggest not sharing Biblical truth with those who may need it most, but I believe there is a time and situation for everything. For example…

A Biblical contradiction?

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5)

First it says not to answer a fool, then it says to answer a fool. What are we supposed to do about that?

Verse 4 is talking about arguing with a fool; it becomes pointless when someone clearly doesn’t want to listen to you, or if they are twisting your words and trying to use them against you. Verse 5 is saying that if someone says something unwise, hurtful, or perhaps the opposite of sound spiritual doctrine, we need to respond at some point. We shouldn’t for example, argue with someone who is a drunken rage. They won’t listen, they would be much like the pig or dog who turns to attack us. We should however, wait for an appropriate time, when the person has sobered up or calmed down.

As I consider today’s readings there were a lot of negative, depressing words like detest, fool, sluggard, wicked, and hatred; the list goes on and on. These words remind me of the light overcoming the darkness that Mike Somers and BJ Armstrong have recently posted on. Alas, let us be reminded that we need not live in the darkness, and God has destined us for salvation through Jesus.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:5, 9-11)

I want to close today with saying thank you to our readers and to my Bible Journal team, to build you up as you have built me up. Thank you for all of the encouragement and feedback, and for some of the stories people have shared personally regarding the impact that Bible Journal has made on their spiritual journey already. These posts are extremely challenging to write, from a mental, spiritual, and time perspective but I cannot imagine my life had I declined to be part of this. The overall experience is so far beyond rewarding, words cannot explain, so all I can say is thank you all, and give God all the glory for He has great things in mind for ALL of us!