Proverbs 4:10—23

proverbsToday in chapel we were blessed to hear God’s Word preached by Rev. Steve Schave, Associate Executive Director of the Office of International Mission. His sermon made the text very real and the Gospel message so wonderful to hear.


A Father’s Wise Instruction – Proverbs 4:10-23

If a father’s wise instruction be the safe path of uprightness then you will find me on the shortcut through bristle and thorn. If a father’s wise words are a lady to hold onto, then I have forsaken her and forgotten her; not guarding her as I should, but turned away.  If there’s an off ramp to evil, I’ve taken that exit rather than pass on by.  If they serve the bread of wickedness and the wine of violence, then I’ve been to that diner.  If the highway of wickedness leads to deep darkness, then I have crashed my car over the curb of instruction, careening in the dark with my head lights off.  I haven’t been attentive to my father’s words, I haven’t filled my ears with them, I let them escape from my sight, and my heart has been filled with an empty substitute.  I won’t rest until I have done evil and made someone trip over my own sins.  Crooked speech and devious talk are always near to my heart if not my lips.  My eyes are not on the road, my navigation is faulty, and I swerve right into the oncoming traffic of evil.  My steps to heaven are hampered by all the muck I have stepped in, and when I go running, I stumble and fall flat on my face.  And so it is with each us, for every person born sinful.


And when my father’s discipline comes to put me on the path, when I must die to myself or deny myself: I am the doubting Thomas, I am the denying Peter. I am the persistent widow, who cries “injustice” to the judge, for my suffering at the pain of a hangnail being pulled, kicking and screaming all the way to the cross.  Ah, the unfairness of it all!  For surely in my eyes, I am a knight in shining armor, the man of steel, I discipline my body to not sin, I am the fireman rescuing the kitten, the boy scout helping the elderly woman across the street, the heroic father up late last night at the hospital with my daughter.  I am the Good Samaritan who helps the one in need whom all else ignored… all to the honor of men and wise all unto myself. That is until this twisted stick is held up to the perfectly straight ruler and I see just how crooked I am.  Until this little lamp is held up to the very glow of the Sun.  My life compared to the Word and Instruction of my wise Father?  How can it be that my years will be many, in keeping with His instruction, and the path will lead to the light, and not into utter darkness?  It is terrifying for me to think upon the wise instruction of my Father and what a fool I’ve been in my life.  And if God would be fair to give what I deserve, I shudder to think… and so should it be with you!


Because what kind of foolishness is this, the wise instruction of a Father who would send His only begotten Son to suffer and die.  A Son who never forsook the teachings of His Father, whose heart held fast to every wise word, who kept each and every commandment, who took not one step outside the path of uprightness, who even in starvation refused to eat from the bread of wickedness, or in his persecution refused to drink from the wine of violence.  Because He would not walk in the way of evil or enter the path of the wicked, but followed the blood stained road that would lead to torture, and suffering and death.  The Lamb who goes uncomplaining forth without a word of protest.  What kind of foolishness is this!?  If this is what happens to the Holy One of God, what is to become of me?  For surely Satan watches on at the foot of the cross, and says with wicked tongue, “Oh Holy One of God, how quickly they went from chanting your name to chants of crucify… they mock you, they spit on you, they jeer you: this is how they treat their king?  Look at how they treat one another… they crucify each other and they crucify you!  What are you waiting for, dying on that cross, each labored breath and word one closer to your last… you’d be a fool, Jesus, not to save yourself!   Say the wise word, let them get what they deserve… curse them and live and leave them to me… don’t be a fool! ”


What foolish love is this upon the cross!?  What foolish love is this!?  Jesus Christ truly is the King of fools, of which I am the greatest – a poor miserable fool.  Oh Father, what have you done!  What have you done for me, your prodigal Son?  But, listen, listen to those wise words from the cross, O sons and daughters, and hold them close to your heart!  Those words of salvation, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” and then with his last when Christ pronounces, “It is finished.  The debt has been paid.”  These words are like a graceful garland placed upon your head, a beautiful crown bestowed upon you.  Be attentive to these words of grace, don’t let them escape your sight, keep them in your heart unto eternal life.  For these words are life to those who find them, and in them is the healing of your flesh.  Because, to be sure, from a pierced side we see the vigilance of the Son’s heart, from which flows the very springs of life, as these Words are poured out upon you from the font.  And with these words, He gives you the Bread of Holiness to eat, and the cup of Peace from which to drink.  Bread and wine, filled with forgiveness, life and salvation – through these words.


And with these words that absolve all your sin, the Father places you back on the path of uprightness and the way of wisdom.  So when you walk, your steps will not be hampered, and when you run, you will not stumble!  For surely, the prodigal’s father comes running down the path, to embrace His foolish son brought to his senses.  And the path of God’s righteousness is the light of a new dawn.  And while the world grows darker and darker, Christ grows closer and closer, shining brighter and brighter until the full day when He returns again.  He has promised to come again that you might eat His bread and drink His wine: and to fill your ear and eye and heart with His Words that last forever.  Because, if there be wisdom it is Christ… if there be righteousness it is Christ… if there be life and healing… it is Christ!  Those are the Promises of your wise Father, the words that you can cling to until you are crowned with eternal life.  In Jesus name, Amen.


-Barb Below

Camp Between the Rivers

From August 20 to 23, we stayed at the “Camp between the rivers,” a camp of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The camp is located between the White Ius and Black Ius Rivers.

The Ius River is beautiful and considered to have pure water. It served as a good location for the camp near the village of Efremkino (Ефремкино) in Khakassia, Siberia, Russia.

A map of the area. The town of Efremkino (Ефремкино) is pictured in the lower left corner of the map. Near the camp is the “Path of the Ancestors,” which is a place where a Paleolithic culture lived.

Inside one of the caves, were cave paintings nearly 4,000 years old. The paintings on the wall represented human beings and a god with four eyes. The caves were discovered by Pyotr Proskuryakov in 1883. Animal bones were found inside the cave indicating that sacrifices had been made to the god in the past.

Further along the trail, a Shaman’s tree had ribbons on it indicating petitions to the spirits. This is similar to the other places in Siberia where sacrifices were made to the spirits.

The trail itself was rugged at times. However the view was worth the effort.

At another portion of the trail, we came upon an unusual artifact.

Nearby a cave that we came out of was some runic writing on the rock face. It was discovered in 1883 by Pyotr Proskuryakov’s expedition, but the runic script was not deciphered until the early 20th century. The runic script encoder a Turkish based language. The inscription reads: “I greet you Altu Shan, my state and my Han (prince). I am Agdam Enal. My people are Tersye. I have come down from the mountains and have found out .” A debate ensued among scholars regarding the name of Tersye. This is a Khakassia word of Turkish origin. This is from a Syriac word used to designate a Christian. Other Syriac words such as Mar for teacher appear in other texts. Kyrgyz people were Christian around the 7 – 10th centuries. Additional evidence for Christian roots can be found in Khakassia language, for instance the Tarcha River, literally means “the Christian River.” The name of this river comes from Tarcha Khyz. Khyz means young lady. According to Khakassian tales, Tarcha Khyz was the young woman who lead the Kyrgyz people in battle against the Mongolians. She was shot by an arrow and killed on the banks of the Tarcha River, hence it’s name. This legend goes back to the 10th century. The history of Christians in Khakassia ends with the Mongolian invasion. This invasion drove the people of Kyrgyz Kaganate (predecessors of Khakasian people) into Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. How did these people become Christian? Most likely by the Nestorians who were forced out of the Persian Empire onto the Great Step. They came to Khakassia as missionaries.

Pastor Pavel Zayakin explained the history of the “Path of the Ancestors” to us as we hiked along the path. It was very fascinating hearing the story of early Christianity in the 7 – 10th centuries.

Back at the “Camp between two rivers” each day was book ended by morning and evening worship. Lectures were held during the day.

The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church’s “Camp Between the Rivers” is structured after a Poligon, literally in English, a polygon. It has the practical sense of a training field or proving ground for soldiers or athletes. The camp is set up to train the hearts, minds, and bodies of young people to be Christians in this world, hence hiking, works of service, worship, study and camping.

The camp is rustic, but a wonderful opportunity to study, meditate, and enjoy the Lord’s creation.

Pastors Pavel Zayakin and Alexey Streltsov of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) hosted and accompanied (listed alphabetically) Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations; Rev. Randy Golter, Executive Director of the Office of International Mission; Rev. Daniel Johnson, Catechist to Siberia and Baltic churches; Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, LCMS Director of Theological Education and Professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne.

- Posted by Dr Albert Collver in Tuim, Russia using BlogPress from my iPhone