Peacemaking Wisdom from Proverbs

Recently I’ve returned to a helpful practice I learned early on in my spiritual journey. Each morning I read a chapter of the book of Proverbs for that day of the month.

This time around I’m observing just how many verses contain valuable peacemaking insights. When I come across such verses, I often consult my favorite commentary on Proverbs by Charles Bridges.

Two days ago I paused on verse one of chapter 15:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Bridges’ thoughts make for a worthwhile read:

WHAT a mine of practical wisdom is this Book of God! Let us ponder this valuable rule for self-discipline, family peace, and Church unity. Scripture often illustrates the different effects of the tongue. The soft answer is the water to quench–Grievous words are the oil to stir up, the fire. And this is, alas! man’s natural propensity, to feed rather than to quench, the angry flame. We yield to irritation; retort upon our neighbour; have recourse to self-justification; insist upon the last word; say all that we could say; and think we “do well to be angry.” (Jonah iv. 9.) Neither party gives up an atom of the will. Pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints; and “behold! how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”  (Jam. iii. 5.) Thus there is the self-pleasing sarcasm; as if we had rather lose a friend, than miss a clever stroke. All this the world excuses as a sensitive and lively temper. But the gospel sets before us our Saviour’s example; imbues with his spirit; and imparts that blessed “charity, that is not easily provoked;” and therefore is careful not to provoke a chafed or wounded spirit. If others begin, let us forbear from continuing the strife. ‘Patience is the true peace-maker.’ Soft and healing words gain a double victory—over ourselves and our brother.

Two for the price of one. You can’t beat that.

To CO or Not to CO?

That is indeed the question.

As for this latest week in the saga of when in the world will OGC get into its new building, the answer is, I am sorry to say it, not to CO.

However, we are making progress. Next week may bring an entirely different response.

New handrails got installed today. We have requested a final building inspection. It may happen tomorrow or Monday. At this point, that remains undetermined.

As for the site, that work in regrading the approach should get finished over the weekend. A surveyor may or may not have to re-shoot the elevations which could lengthen the process of approval somewhat but not beyond next week.

The civil engineer needs to get what they call record drawings to the city from which they make something called Mylars. That might take a week. All depends.

All of that to say that we have a chance of having everything done by next Wednesday or so and then it depends on the city to answer the question of questions – to CO or not to CO?

So here is the deal. We definitely won’t be in the new building this Sunday, May 20. I plan to recommend to the board on Monday night in our leadership team meeting that we hold off on our first “soft opening” until June 3, just to be safe. Actually I have an ulterior motive in that suggestion. Nancy and I will be out of the country from the 27th to the 31st for our son’s wedding. Those plans have been on the books for months. I never thought they would conflict with the opening day of our facility. Just can’t imagine missing the first Sunday we get to take possession so I will ask for grace to wait until we get back.

So now you know what I know. I choose to believe that God has been working behind the scenes all along for His glory and our good in these delays. The timing will prove perfect as far as He is concerned. How could I conclude anything otherwise after what I preached last Sunday?

All I know is that we are in for a splendid time in our new digs. I can hardly wait. Can’t thank God enough for the privilege of getting to do this on our watch.

Man-O-Manhole Cover!

Strange way to intro this blog post, yes? It will make sense quite quickly, I’m afraid.

Wednesday saw us undergo a number of inspections on our property. We faired pretty well on the inside. We passed some items; others need a little more fixing. But overall things look good for the CO from that vantage point.

I wish I could say we got the same high grades on the outside. Turns out we have a problem with not just one manhole cover (we had some inkling about that already). Apparently we have multiple manhole cover issues, two to be exact. Something’s not quite right. Don’t ask me. I don’t even want to know. Smarter folks than I have got it covered (pun intended).

So what’s the bottom line? This I do understand. It will take seven to ten construction days to fix the problem. Best case scenario now for our first soft opening looks like May 20. Wish I had better news for us, but I simply don’t. All I can tell you is that we are doing all that we can and working every angle possible to get closure on this deal. Please pray for wisdom to that end. And of course, please continue to pray for favor with the city.

I thought about concluding by saying something spiritual about the virtue of patience from texts like Romans 2:6-7 and James 4:7-11. But I have to be honest. I’m not feeling particularly spiritual at this moment. Think I’ll go look for a working manhole cover and crawl inside for a pastoral pity party.

Just kidding . . . I think.

So Good & Yet So Hard

I refer to the discipline of waiting on God.

I don’t have to tell you how excruciatingly difficult it is. I often remind people, “Wait is a four-letter word.”

But God’s word assures us though hard it is good. Consider Lamentations 3:26: It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Note the modifier on what kind of waiting counts as good – quietly. Fussing and fuming while we wait doesn’t cut it.

Octavius Winslow, wise man of old, said it well:

The Lord would now often have us wait His time in answering prayer. And, if the vision tarry, still let us wait, and hope, and expect. Let the delay but stimulate hope, and increase desire, exercise faith, and multiply petitions at the mercy-seat. It will come when the Lord sees best. A believer may lose the answer to his prayer, by dictating to the Lord the mode, as well as the time, of answering. The Lord has His own mode of blessing His people. We may prescribe the way the Lord should answer, but He may send the blessing to us through an opposite channel, in a way we never thought of, and should never have selected. Sovereignty sits regent upon the throne, and in no aspect is its exercise more manifestly seen than in selecting the way and the means by which the prayers of the saints of God are answered. Dictate not to the Lord. If you ask a blessing through a certain channel, or in a prescribed way, let it be with the deepest humility of mind, and with perfect submission to the will of God. Be satisfied to receive the blessing in any way which a good and covenant God may appoint. Be assured, it will be in that way that will most glorify Himself, and secure to you the greatest amount of blessing.

Does God have you in wait mode over something, several things during this season of your walk with Him?

Remember. It’s good to wait quietly for His salvation. Beware trying to manufacture a salvation of your own.

Strength from the God of Keen Senses

Today’s message from Genesis 16 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Charles Spurgeon made this comment about the grace of God that pursued Hagar through the angel of the Lord:

I think I see her there, her eyes red with weeping, her spirit broken down with the hunger of her journey, sitting a while and refreshed a moment, and resolved not to stoop and never to go back—and then, again, shuddering at the darkness that lay before her and afraid to go on. It was in such a state as that that God met with her! To all intents and purposes she was a friendless, outcast woman. She had left the only tents where she could claim a shelter. She had gone into the wilderness—no father, no mother, no brother, no sister to care for her. She turned her back upon those who had any interest in her and now she was left alone—alone, alone in a desert land without an eye to pity or a hand to help! It was then, under those peculiar circumstances of trial and of sin commingled, that God met with her.

When you least expect it, when you least deserve it, the God of keen senses will find you and give you strength.

When Deity Delivered from Dying (Part One)

Today’s message from John 11:38-44 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I reiterated the theme this way:

Because Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we should believe on Him as the Messiah, God’s Son.

We covered four of seven observations about Jesus from the text that present Him to us as undeniably true and strikingly beautiful:

  1. His passion – deeply moved with anger over death.
  2. His pattern – test and grow faith.
  3. His patience – with our slow-to-learn unbelief.
  4. His precept – believing is seeing not seeing is believing.

I closed with this incisive quote from Oswald Chambers:

Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict. What is your faith up against just now? The test will either prove that your faith is right, or it will kill it. “Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” The final thing is confidence in Jesus. Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith, and the last great test is death. May God keep us in fighting trim! Faith is unutterable trust in God which never dreams that He will not stand by us.

Next Sunday, Lord willing, we will finish the account of the seventh sign with three more observations – His purpose, prayer, and power.

And we will finally get poor Lazarus out of the ground, so to speak!