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The Lenten Discipline of Seeking a Rebuke

March 5th 2023

All Saints Crescent Beach

The Lenten Discipline of Seeking a rebuke (Proverbs 27:1-13)

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Dreams are funny things. Last night I dreamt that I was doing substitute teaching, but left early without checking with the principal. Today, as I substitute teach for Bishop Peter, I will make sure not to check out early 😉

A great Lenten discipline can be to do prayer walking. As many of you know, I am in a Christian walking group that walks Mondays & Wednesdays on the White Rock Promenade and on Fridays at Crescent Beach. While we were walking, we discussed about President Eisenhower being raised JW before being converted to Christ by Billy Graham. Out of the blue, I saw two JWs standing by the Beecher street turnaround. I had a wonderful chance to share with them about Jesus being our Lord and God (John 20:28). We even chatted about the meaning of Proverbs 27, today’s passage.

I have a question for you related to today’s Proverbs teaching. What happens when politicians surround themselves with yes men? Have you ever noticed that it never ends well. What might happen if Putin or perhaps Canadian federal leaders surrounded themselves with people who could constructively disagree with them without losing their jobs or perhaps even their necks?

You may have noticed that those who always agree with us, those who celebrate our sinful, destructive behaviours, are not true friends. You will remember Bishop Peter’s excellent series on spiritual friendship. Genuine spiritual friends want the best for us. Real spiritual friends will even risk a friendship if it means saving us from destruction. Do you have a spiritual friend that you can trust to tell you the truth in love? Does anyone have permission to speak honestly into your life? Can any one disagree with you and even privately challenge you without losing your friendship? Without the rebuke of such spiritual friends, we can easily become dangerous, particularly if we are in positions of power.

Many Christians switch churches every time anyone gets close and speaks into their life. We are a culture on the run. So many even as Christians are in hiding, sometimes in plain view. Some husbands have been hiding from their wives for years, even when they are in the same room, perhaps hiding behind a newspaper, tv, cell phone, or video games. Instead of seeking, we are isolating and hiding from the Lord and one another.

Proverbs 18:1 says that “whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.” To isolate ourself against such friends robs us of life-giving wisdom. So many of us, even as Christ followers, are scared to death of vulnerability, of letting others speak into our lives. How many of you, as Proverbs 27:17 puts it, want iron to sharpen iron in your relationships?

You may remember when the prophet Nathan rebuked David after he killed Uriah. Who can forget Jesus rebuking his disciples in Matthew 18 when they bickered about who was the greatest? His rebuke was to show them a child. The least is the greatest. Jesus rebuked lovingly, kindly, and gently. Matthew 12:20 , quoting Isaiah 42, says of Jesus “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Jesus did not crush people with his words. Jesus’ rebuke is not rejection.

Be careful who you seek a rebuke or feedback from. Don’t go to gossips or bad tempered people to seek a rebuke. Go to someone who respects and loves you enough to tell you the truth.

You will also remember in Luke 9:56 when James & John, Zebedee’s sons of thunder, wanted to call fire down to destroy an unfriendly Samaritan village, and Jesus rebuked them. Jesus’ rebukes flipped everything on its head. Significantly, Jesus in Revelation 3:9 said to the Laodiceans, “As many as I love, I rebuke”. Proverbs 3:11-12 says: “Don’t resent his rebuke for the Lord disciplines those he loves.” Don’t harden your hearts to Jesus’ rebukes. When we receive his easier rebukes, then he won’t need to turn over our tables or rebuke us like he did when Peter forbid Jesus from going to the cross.

Proverbs 29:1 says that whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.” How many of us have struggled with being stiff-necked? You may remember that the resurrected Jesus rebuked his disciples in Mark 16:14 for their slowness to belief and their hardness of heart. Has Jesus ever rebuked you? Do any of you want to share? (Pause)

Seeking a rebuke may feel very countercultural. We live in a cancel culture that so easily takes offense, and then cuts other people off. Have you ever felt like you have to walk on eggs shells around certain relatives or friends? What if we stopped resenting and despising other people’s advice? What if we admitted, as Proverbs 19:20 teaches, that we actually need their wisdom to live a more godly healthy life? No Christian is a solitary island. We need God’s family. Part of belonging to a Christian community is about learning about the Lenten discipline of seeking a rebuke. Titus 1:13 says that such rebukes will make us healthy and sound in the faith.

I first learned about seeking a rebuke from our first Anglican Coach Dr Gil Stieglitz who emphasized how key this was for husbands who want a healthy marriage. Gil suggested that for those who don’t like the biblical word ‘rebuke’, think of the word ‘feedback’. Ask your wife for feedback on how you can improve and grow. Your wife already knows what it will take. You just need to have the courage to ask her. If you non-defensively listen and apply her wisdom, you will be amazed how the intimacy in your marriage will increase.

As Proverbs 15:4 puts it, a Christlike rebuke, needs to be with a gentle tongue. Gentleness is a tree of life. Colossians 4:6 says that our speech needs to always be gracious and seasoned with salt. Galatians 6:1 calls us to restore people in a spirit of gentleness. 1 Peter 3:15 likewise calls us to gentleness and respect. 2 Timothy 2:25 speaks of gently instructing others. A Christ-centered rebuke is quietly and kindly spoken. It is not about yelling, accusing, or finger-wagging. The receiver would not necessarily realize that they had been rebuked. It is too easy to win an argument and lose the person. You will notice when Jesus rebuked and challenged people, he often used a question. You may remember Jesus’ probing question in Luke 9:41 when the disciples couldn’t heal the convulsing boy: “How long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” Have you ever noticed how patient Bishop Peter is with how slow we often are to get things? Have you noticed how from time to time, he will repeat key concepts like the importance of self-awareness, waiting for the penny to drop? Bishop Peter’s rebukes are very gentle. We often don’t even realize when Bishop Peter is rebuking us.

The most effective questions are not usually angry why questions, but rather observational who, what, where, when and how questions.

While doing my doctoral thesis, my professor asked me two breakthrough questions: Have you ever thought of including a glossary? Have you ever thought of including colour pie charts for my data results? On both occasions, I defensively deflected, saying that it wasn’t needed. The rebuke was a very gentle “you might want to think of it.” The gentleness stopped me in my tracks. Why was I so resistant? I decided to do both changes which became the two most complimented parts of my thesis.

Matthew 18:15 suggests that privacy is key, initially just between you and him alone. One of the most loving things anyone can do for you is tell you when you’re wrong. A true friend tells you the truth, even when it hurts. A loving friend will help you identify and remove any logs in your eyes.

How many of you love the Bible? Is it really only full of warm fuzzies? Have you ever heard this verse from Woke 3:16? “Thus says the Inclusive One, I’m ok and you’re OK and that’s Ok. Go and sin some more.”

2nd Timothy 3:16-17 however says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (…)” Is it okay for the Bible to not only affirm us but also rebuke and correct us? As 2 Timothy 4:2 puts it, correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

In our highly secular culture, we have lost sight that a Christ-like rebuke is an act of great love that may turn us back from a destructive path. How many of you have ever embraced a rebuke as a blessing?

How defensive are you? Can you welcome a rebuke? Are you willing to seek one from a trusted friend? It takes humility to receive a rebuke.

Proverbs 1:23, 10:17, & 15:10 both teach that correction and rebuke are actually the way to life.

Proverbs 5:12-14 tells us that those who spurn correction will soon be in serious trouble.

Proverbs 6:23 says that if we repent at God’s rebuke, He will pour out his spirit to us.

Proverbs 9:7-9 says that rebuking mockers is a waste of time because they will hatefully insult and abuse you. The wise however will love you when you rebuke them, and become even wiser and learned. How many of you today are willing to learn how to love being rebuked? This has to come through surrendering our will to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 10:17 teaches that those who ignore the rebuke of correction will lead others astray from the way of life to death. Seeking a rebuke is actually a life and death Lenten discipline.

Proverbs 12:1 teaches that those who hate the rebuke of correction are stupid.

Proverbs 13:1 teaches that mockers do not respond to rebukes.

Proverbs 13:8 says whoever heeds the rebuke of correction receives honour. Few people make a positive correlation between seeking a rebuke and being honoured.

Proverbs 15:5 teaches that whoever heeds the rebuke of correction shows prudence.

Proverbs 15:32 teaches that those who disregard the rebuke of correction actually despise themselves. Self-hatred cripples us from becoming more self aware & Christlike.

Proverbs 17:10 teaches that a discerning person is actually impressed by a rebuke.

Proverbs 25:12 poetically tells us that like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. Have we ever turned a deaf ear to God’s golden wisdom?

The book of Proverbs teaches again and again that the wise welcome a rebuke. Fools however despise reproof while welcoming flattery.

In this key passage of Proverbs 27:5-6, we are told that “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

Some people deeply appreciate and value you, but they will never tell you. It is hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

The more open and honest, the more effective is the rebuke. Enemies wound you to hurt you. It takes a genuine friend to wound us in a way that heals and brings greater Christlikeness. A healthy rebuke is like healthy surgery.

Proverbs 28:23 teaches that “whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.” Flattery initially feels very pleasant. Proverbs 26:28 tells us that A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 29:5 says that those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.

Romans 16:18 says that divisive people deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.

How many of you remember the unctuous clergy William Collins in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, who was always flattering and buttering up Lady Catherine De Bourgh?

The well-known evangelist DL Moody said that there are more people ruined by flattery than by telling them their faults. The Holy Spirit never flatters, but convicts us of sin, and that is the reason, said Moody, that many don’t like Him.

Psalm 141: says that for a righteous man to rebuke us is kindness like oil on our heads. How many of us today are willing to seek such a kind anointing?

Let us pray.

Proverbs 27:1-13 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/pro.27.1-13.NIV

1. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

2. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

3. Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

4. Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

5. Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

6. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

7. One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

8. Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home.

9. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.

10. Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—

11. better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away. Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.

12. The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

13. Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.”

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Pigs in the Ocean: the socialism of Dostoevsky’s Possessed

By Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

-an article for the March 2023 Light Magazine

One of Dostoevsky’s most brilliant, darkest and least known novels is The Possessed, also called Demons or The Devils. Dostoevsky, as a devout Christian, often grounded his novels in particular biblical stories. The opening scripture in this novel is about the pigs being cast into the ocean (Luke 8:32-37).

Have you ever wondered what possessed Putin to invade Ukraine, and why he won’t just go back home to Russia? The Russian people still deeply remember the attacking of Moscow by Napoleon and Hitler, as if it happened yesterday. They are possessed by the idea that they are merely defending their fatherland against Western aggression.

Ideologies (fixed systematic big ideas) can easily become idolatrous and possess a nation. That is why Dr. Jordan Peterson wrote a chapter in his latest book Beyond Order entitled “Say No to Ideology”. Ideologies like Marxism, Nazism, and Fascism have caused over a hundred million people to go over the cliff and die like the Gadarene pigs. Tragically, some of these far-left and far-right ideologies are again romantically possessing many young people around the world. The far-left and far-right, being both totalitarian and haters of democratic freedoms, have much more in common than most would imagine.

The Possessed is the most political of all of his Christ-centered novels. In the very year of 1870 that Dostoevsky was writing Possessed, Vladimir Lenin was born.  Lenin sadly refused to read Possessed as he considered it reactionary garbage. Might the Possessed possess and transform Putin, who is reportedly a Dostoevsky fan?

Dostoevsky, like a John the Baptist or a weeping Jeremiah, cried out in this novel to a younger generation about to go over the edge into socialist chaos and destruction. He was a former revolutionary socialist sent in 1849 to Siberia for ten years. Dostoevsky prophetically warned in this book about the destructive whirlwind of communism that would swallow Russia fifty years later.

The protagonist in this book is Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky, a so-called champagne socialist of the 1840s generation who liked to flirt in secretive artist groups with trendy new ideas coming from the West. Significantly, he spoke French like a Parisian, giving him great influence among the nobility. None of Stepan’s obscure writing projects were ever completed.  He was a caricature of Alexander Herzen, the father of Russian socialism, who had been in exile in London with his friend Karl Marx.

In the novel, Stepan, a former University instructor, was exiled for his socialist ideas by the Tsar to the fictitious back-water town of Skvoreshniki. There, being funded by the bitter and controlling heiress Varvara, Stepan spends twenty years training up the 1860s generation of younger revolutionary socialists.

Stepan is shocked when these younger people, including his own son, Pyotr and Varvara’s son Stavrogin, are swallowed by the ideologies of nihilism, hedonism, and suicide. Pyotr and Stavrogin are both deeply alienated from their parents, having being sent away to residential schools in Petersburg.  Education trumped family. All the 1840s fathers were either dead or entirely absent from their sons’ lives.  Stepan had only met his son twice in his entire life.  The younger radicals dismiss Stepan and Varvara as outdated fools.  Pyotr said to his father Stepan: “I curse you henceforth!”

 As hard-core atheists, the young men rejected morality, church, and family as forms of patriarchal oppression. Stepan had taught the younger generation that:

marriage is the moral death of every proud soul, of all independence. Married life will corrupt me, it will sap my energy, my courage in the service of the (socialist) cause.  

The 1840s champagne socialists were mortified by the violence: “we first sowed the seed, nurtured it, prepared the way.” Stepan is so appalled by the destructive fruits of his intellectual labour that he flees on foot from the town. There, among the peasants, he meets Sofya, a Gospel woman who sells him a bible. In the midst of the chaotic suffering of his life, Stepan reads the bible for the first time in over thirty years. He learns from the Sermon on the Mount that “we must forgive, forgive, and forgive.” He encounters God and turns from his ideological possession:

I’ve been telling lies all my life…The worst of it is that I believe myself when I am lying. The hardest thing in life is to live without telling lies.

He receives communion, and decides to also become a travelling bible salesman. Dostoevsky noted: “Even fools are by genuine sorrow turned into wise men.”

In this age of MAID and full-term abortion, it is chilling to see young people in the novel imagine that death is the solution to life’s problems: “I am killing myself to prove my independence and my new terrible freedom.” All the key young men in this novel foolishly end up dead, either from murder or suicide. Dostoevsky is fascinated by the biblical themes of wisdom and foolishness: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).  Only the women are left to pick up the pieces, as the town is thrown into chaos by revolutionary arsonists.

After Stepan dies three days later, Sofya is ‘adopted’ by Varvara who also wants to spread the gospel. Varvara and Sofya remind us of the women who first saw the resurrected Jesus, becoming the original evangelists. What if women became the key evangelists in the next coming revival?

Dostoevsky passionately wanted everyone, especially his Russian people, to experience the love of Jesus Christ:

If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.

Thank God that we don’t have to choose between Christ and the truth. Are you willing to let go of your ideologies and share the Truth with a younger lost generation?

Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

Co-authors, God’s Firestarters

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Join us this Sunday at 10am

Greetings from “Down-under.” We continue in the season of Lent and pray that your journey through the desert is fruitful. This week, the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird will be preaching on Proverbs 27 about “The Lenten Discipline of Seeking a Rebuke” while Kareem will be leading our music worship.

So come, join us as we worship the triune God together. Here’s the announcement:

Church @ Church this Sunday—the 5th March at 10:00am

In case you missed it, you can find our Ash Wednesday service by clicking HERE.
We’ll let you know about last Sunday’s service as soon as possible.

Important Dates:
Ladies’ Refresh every Tuesday at 10:30am at the church. All ladies are welcome.

Thursday Support Group and bible study: Dinner together at 6:00pm and bible study at 7:00pm Everyone is welcome.

Jenny and I will be on holidays visiting our parents in Australia from the 1st March till the 23rd March.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird will pastor the church while I’m away. In case of an emergency his contact phone number is: (778) 881-3857‬.

Maundy Thursday Seder Dinner with Marty Shoub. 6:00pm At All Saints. Sign-Up; everyone welcome

Thank you Church.
Stay vigilant and prayerful.
Love each other deeply and keep Jesus at the very centre of everything you do.
Blessings on all you do.

The peace of our Lord,

Peter Klenner
Bishop and Pastor
All Saints Community Church
Crescent Beach