Thursday, July 31, 2014

Don't be worse than stupid.

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 

Proverbs 26:12


We've all met this guy. He is the know-it-all, the blowhard, the dude who talks uninvited about himself and won't shut up. He is a rude, self-consumed, arrogant person who is never content to have any conversation that isn't about himself. He'll tell you how he would handle your life, without you ever asking for his input.


Proverbs says such a person is hopeless. He is worse than a fool, and fools should be avoided! In fact, given a choice between a wise-acre boor like this and a fool, take the fool... you'll be better off! That's how bad self-wise people can be.


I am afraid the world is cranking these men out now by the trainload. Many people over value their personal insight. And it is detrimental to society. Self-made men draw their own blueprints, unaware of fatal design flaws. That is not a good thing. Human insight, flawed by sin, inevitably fosters serious defects into self-wise men.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

golden words

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. 

Proverbs 25:11-12


Sometimes we need a word of encouragement, perhaps of rebuke, from a friend, a trusted mentor... someone who obviously cares. And when we get that from someone who has been there, we get a very precious gift. The priceless moments of our lives arrive with the words that come to us from people we trust.


The reason such words are treasures is because they come from a person of wisdom that we respect. And our ears are ready to receive them. Because of the wisdom of the person, and our heart's readiness, the impact has precious meaning. There is little else we can build our friendships and key relationships upon. This is the good stuff of life.


Lord,

Thank you for the golden words and actions of friends and mentors. I know of key times, particularly in my youth, when such words were used by You to set my life in the direction that You provided. Those words along with Your work changed my heart. They are now priceless to me.

Amen


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Relax. God's got this.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out. 

Proverrbs 24:19-20


I realize that I have not considered this passage enough as I think about my place in this world. Like many evangelicals I can get caught up in the fretting frenzy and paranoia over the wrong that is occurring at this moment in our society. Evangelicals were good at this 60 years ago as well! But the reality is that God knows what and who is wrong. He is the righteous judge. And even though it may seem that wicked people prosper, they do not. There is no future in mocking God.


I have God's revelation, His book, in my hands. It gives me a picture of where mankind has been. It shows me where we are going and just how God has put an end to sin's dominion through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lamps will be put out. In the end all the wrong in this world will swirl up like candle smoke.


So, I will pray. I will proclaim the gospel. But I will not worry over the evil actions of people. God's got that.

Monday, July 28, 2014

working to be wise

Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. 

Proverbs 23:12


It takes work to be wise. It comes from a careful commitment to receiving God's instruction and paying attention to those situations that can make one wiser. It is important and serious business. More than just education, true wisdom is a kind of obsession. The heart must drive the life toward pursuit of what is wise.


It seems that exposure is very important. A wise person makes conscious commitments to surround himself with input that increases wisdom. It must start with scriptural intake. It can include solid knowledge of the universe around him. It must also include befriending, sitting under, and learning from other wisdom mentors who commit to doing the same.


Wisdom is an obsession that requires a diligent heart that never stops being a stellar student of life. It requires a willingness to cut some input sources in favor of solid wisdom that bears the stamp of God's authority so that maturity and growth always happens. The mudane is avoided in favor of that which has eternal inpact. Amusement is replaced by thoughtful challenges. Hobbies become practical avocations that bring joy and increase capacity for productivity and praise. Knowledge brings to realization a very fulfilling experience of power and contentment in the life of a person whose heart is applied to instruction.

Friday, July 25, 2014

the reward of scripture memory

Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. 

Proverbs 22:17-18


This is a good passage encouraging the memorization of scripture, particularly of proverbs. It is good to have wisdom in our hearts and to keep it close on our lips. The best way that I know to accomplish this is to memorize it and through review keep it fresh within my thinking.


Scripture is immensely rewarding in this way. It does however require diligence. Scripture memory is the hardest part of biblical intake. But it also has the deepest power to change us. For that reason I see it not as an expenditure, but rather as an investment that yields much reward.


The net affect of such exposure is grace-filled thinking and action. Scripture memory should instill God's character in us if we dwell upon His Word. The promise here is a "pleasant" life when God's Word is ready on our lips! I take it to mean that Word saturated people are pleasant, gracious, and wise with the truth that God gives. That is the person I want to be. And knowing God's Word by heart will get me there.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

inadequate reason

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. 

Proverbs 21:2


There is always a way that seems good... well reasoned... or wise in my own estimation. Part of the image of God in us is found in our reason and intelligence. It is amazing. But these have been affected by sin. The theological description of this part of us is to refer to "the noetic affects of the fall of man." My own way may seem right, but it not right by virtue of its own measure. It must pass divine scrutiny.


That is why some social concepts like the rule of law or representative democracy, though excellent ideas, can be warped and twisted and can actually damage humanity. It is an affect of our brokenness when good concepts get warped by evil. The Lord must set a higher standard than our broken selves can achieve or even see.


So I must purpose to not just do what I see as right. I must follow what God sets out as right. And that knowledge is plain in scripture. It is trustworthy. It is good. And it will not fail me like my own reason often has done.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

on purpose

The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. 

Proverbs 20:5


Why is it important to know the purposes of a person's heart? When you know what drives them, you know them. The heart will worship and want something. It is always doing this. Always. When we know that, we know what is directing the life of the person. Purpose is important.


But we are collecting shallow relationships these days. We talk less directly with one another. We post our thoughts to the world in fascinating 140 character snippets glimpses of the purposes in our hearts. Sometimes those purposes are clear. And other times they are covered up like Instagram filters over photos.


Deep friendships take time, because purpose is brought up from a deep, cold well. It takes time for the bucket and rope to be lowered down to pull up the water of purpose. It is work to do so. But it is worth the investment because people are the most valuable commodity on this planet because they last forever. So I will purposes to know people at their heart's purpose, and to let myself be known in that way.