In this new series, The Tablet of the Heart, I will share each week from two chapters of the book of Proverbs. These will be snippets from my devotional journal, some I’ll expound upon and others I might just share as my raw thoughts in the early hours of morning.

My Attempts to Contain the Beast

Proverbs 1:23 (ESV)
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

My second annual review at my first church in Toledo was a hard one to receive. The first year, that honeymoon year, had gone quite well. The second year not as much. My senior pastor and the executive pastor, with whom I primarily worked, were concerned about my inability to receive criticism concerning my area of ministry, much less respond and make appropriate adjustments. They said what I was lacking was a teachable spirit.

Since I didn’t have such a spirit, I rejected their observations that I did not indeed have one. Had I had one, I probably would have accepted their criticism. Of course, if I’d had one, they wouldn’t have needed to mention it.

(I’m not sure even I understood that last paragraph.)

Well, I took their words to heart in a moment of brokenness and humility. Even back then over ten years ago, when I would have never considered myself a writer, I put pen to paper in plumbing the depths of my own heart. I guess it’s always been a method of introspection for me. I wrote an essay of sorts called “The Beast,” where I described pride as a savage beast I’d tried unsuccessfully to keep chained in a dungeon. He kept getting lose at inopportune times. And sometimes he would stir just to remind me he was there.

Still now I go through seasons of containing the beast and others when he runs rampant. I believe I have grown in their realm of laying down my pride, but it would seem the closer you get to Jesus the more acutely aware of your sin you become. You realize you’ve grown but you also realize how much further you have to go.

I am trying more these days to welcome criticism. Much wisdom can be gained through correction. And even more than that, God promises to pour out his Spirit on those who receive reproof. How I do not want to grieve God’s Spirit for lack of a teachable spirit.

Beauty: Just Friendly or Flirty

Proverbs 2:16 (NLT)
Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman,
from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman.

Over the years I have been keenly aware of the “forbidden woman” (ESV) and have sought to protect myself. (If I haven’t been aware, then Cindy would let me know.) I think most men realize when a woman crosses the line from being merely friendly to overtly flirty. It’s what we do with such awareness that matters most. Do we allow our discernment to guide us away from danger or do we close our ears to such wisdom because it feels good to be wanted?

Men, we need to be especially aware of those times when temptation will be strongest, such as after (or during) a squabble with our wife. Or, and I don’t know if you’ve sensed this one, when traveling. Something about being away from the confines of home drives a man to do foolish things.

I’ll approach this subject again in a couple chapters, since Solomon devotes much time to counseling his son away from the immoral woman. Men, may we ever be devoted to God and to the wives of our youth. And women, may you be devoted to God and the man that has begun losing his hair only to discover it cropping up in other areas.