When I was growing up, the preacher in our small-town church used to quote this line from a poem by Robert Frost often,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one least traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
I wonder if Frost had read Solomon. For centuries before his poem, the Israelite King presented a similar picture. He confronts us with a choice—not of two roads, but of two houses on either side of the road. He paints a picture of stark contrasts.
On one side of the road, there is a beautiful, luxurious home, standing tall and strong with seven pillars dominating its face. Standing in the door is its builder, the elegant lady named Wisdom. She has prepared a feast for us to enjoy—roast beast and fine wine mixed with savory spices. And she has a host of maidens inviting us in to a home filled with warmth, insight, and life. (Proverbs 9:1-6)
On the other side of the road, a simple, plain, windowless home that is on the edge of the sketchy part of town. In its doorway is the shady-looking, smooth-talking seductress, Woman Folly. She offers no feast—only simple bread and water will be found here. She promises pleasures, but sucks people in to a home filled with coldness, foolishness, and death. (Proverbs 9:13-18)
And both sides are calling, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (Proverbs 9:4,16)
It’s decision time for the simple.
And just who are the simple? Well, friend, that’s you and me. Here’s how Ray Ortlund puts it:
Anyone can join the party: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” Remember that “the simple” is the beginner who lacks commitment. But Christ [the Wise] is so humble to welcome us in, just as we are. Here is a simple gospel mantra always to keep in mind: “One, I am a complete idiot. Two, my future is incredibly bright. Three, anyone can get in on this.” All we have to do is turn to him: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” That is repentance. Gospel repentance is more than turning away from sin. Gospel repentance is, first and foremost, turning toward [wisdom, namely,] Jesus Christ. How can you and I ever turn completely from our sins anyway. As the old hymn says, “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.” Christ is inviting us to come now and receive his very best: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed” (Proverbs 9:5).
Ah, that’s what the sacrament of the table shows us, doesn’t it? We regularly observe the sacrament of communion as a symbol of the feast that awaits us in the new heavens and the new earth. The cross is foolishness to men, but to us, it is the wisdom of God.
So, it’s decision time.
In one sense, it’s a one-time decision. Which house will we choose? Lady Wisdom or Woman Folly? Life or Death?
In another sense, I think we know that we keep running back and forth between these two houses all the time. Because we are human. Because we are sinners, and we can “never completely turn from our sins anyway” in this age. But praise God, in Jesus, forgiveness can always be found! We are always welcome in the house of seven pillars when we have been marked and covered by the blood of the Wise One.
It’s decision time again today. Give us eyes to see and spiritual senses to taste that all you offer is what is truly good. Help us to choose you. Again and again. And when we fail, remind us that you always receive us and are quick to forgive your repentant children. We love you Father.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.