Category Archives: Wisdom

Wait for It

Suddenly and unexpectedly slammed with grief, I prayed for comfort. God’s response was specific, clear and effective.  But it was not immediate.  I had to wait. I felt like the guy who prayed, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now!”  For whatever His reasons, God let me wait a bit.  When His comfort came, it washed over me in a sustained way.

But why would God delay, why make me wait?  It’s not as though comfort was on back order.  The All Sovereign Lord of the Universe could have responded instantly.  Why wait? Perhaps it is to help us build faith.

Peter wrote about waiting for God’s promises, saying:

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (`1 Peter 1:6-7) 
James wrote about waiting after praying for wisdom, saying:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)  
As we wait for God confidently and then have that trust vindicated, our “faith muscle” is developed.  As our faith grows, our relationship with God grows stronger.

Perhaps God also makes us wait to give us time to be spiritually strengthened and matured. Isaiah knew about waiting.  He wrote:

“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strengththey shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

Good comedians have a well developed sense of timing.  When one says, “Wait for it…” you know it’s worth the wait.  Better yet when God does.

As Good as His Word

When I watch basketball, mostly what I see are the shots and whether or not they go in.  The rest is a blur.  Players obviously are aware of more, but they too, in the midst of the hustle and bang, can’t really know what’s happening as a whole.  Coaches really “see” the game.  From their vantage point they can see things the players cannot.  From years of training and experience, they understand things about the flow of the game that are invisible to the casual spectator.  Beyond that, they know each of the players’ strengths, weaknesses and habits.  Coaches see what’s going on with  whole different level of understanding.

Jesus “sees” all of reality much more completely and accurately than any of us.  He sees all that is happening and knows all that has happened through the lenses of God the Father.  He understands the big picture as it flows from Creation to Perfection.  He knows all the “players,” our strengths and weaknesses and what has been happening in each of our lives.  How He understands reality therefore, is very different from us folks who can only see for a short time through a very limited knothole in the fence.  The way someone “sees” shapes his mindset and understanding of  reality.  This mindset or frame of reference is what Greek philosophers called one’s “logos.”   Our logos shapes how we understand everything.  You can see why logos gave rise to the word logic.   There is no good English word for logos.  It is most frequently translated as “word.”  Pretty clumsy, that.  “Word” does not come close to the full meaning of logos.  

That’s why this familiar verse is frequently misunderstood:

In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Instead of thinking, “word,” a combination of letters, think, “mindset” or “understanding of reality.”  And not just any old mindset, but THE mindset, God’s mind  God’s way of understanding reality as it really is.  Jesus, this says, embodies God’s true Logos.  In the beginning, before Creation, Jesus was The Logos.  That is to say, He existed with God in the beginning because He was God in the beginning.

When a coach calls a time out, it’s usually to give the players his perspective on what is happening in the game and instructions on how to adapt.  His logos gives them valuable insight as they head back out to the frantic action of the game.  In Jesus, God has called us to the sidelines.  He says, In all the hubbub of life, you’ve gotten a distorted idea.  I want you to really know what’s happening.  Here is My Son, Who has been with Me since the beginning.  Listen to Him; He knows; He has the right logos.  So much so, He is the Logos.

I give you My Word.

Better Words

Ready, Fire, Aim!  Way too often, that’s how my mouth works.  Before I know it, I’ve blurted out something stupid.  Or hurtful.  Just this morning a good friend told me about how I had thoughtlessly hurt his feelings.  I had thought what I’d said was funny.  He felt wounded.  How I wish I had paid more attention to the wisdom of this proverb:

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  (Proverbs 12:18)

The dictionary says “rash” means acting without forethought or due caution.  That nails it – right between my eyes.  Imagine how differently I’d be feeling if my friend had said, “Your words seemed to heal my heart.”  Instead of trying to find funny words, I’m going to work on finding words that heal, build up or strengthen others.

It’s not that I want to lay my struggles on you.  But, maybe you know someone like me, who could use to pay closer attention to that proverb or to this similar thought from the New Testament:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  (Note: – The original word for “unwholesome” doesn’t mean cussing.  It means something that causes rotting to occur!)  (Ephesians 4:29 – my added note)

So here’s my goal: Ready, Aim, Speak!

Teachable

Four young guitarists were selected to receive a lesson from one of the most famous and skilled guitarists on the planet.  As I watched the film of this amazing experience, I saw great variety in their emotions and attitudes.  Some looked terrified to be in the same room with this “guitar god.”  One eagerly soaked up his every word, hoping, I suppose, to be dusted and transformed by the pixie dust of his talent.

But, one guy seemed to want to impress the “guitar star.”  When it came time for him to play a few bars, he laid into it with a great deal of confidence and arrogance.  The instructor listened, thought for a few moments, and then quietly offered a suggestion on how he might adjust the tremolo bar on his guitar to use it more smoothly.  I was stunned by the precision of his insight.  But the kid argued, saying, in effect, “I just like to do it my way.”  What a wasted opportunity!

I remembered that kid when I came across this proverb a few days later:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.”  (Proverbs 12:15)

Don’t be Lunch

What’s your worst temptation, the one that has repeatedly taken you off at the knees?  Discouraged?  Yeah, I know.  Maybe you thought, if you just trusted in Jesus, all that stuff would be over and done with.  Instead, maybe it got worse.  That’s because of this truth:

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8b)

If you go hiking in certain parts of Africa, you have to know lions see you as pretty tasty lunch.  Knowing that, you take precautions.  The same is true for how we must prepare to fend off the persistent attacks of Satan.  What sort of precautions?  Look at the first part of the verse:

Be sober-minded; be watchful.  (1 Peter 5:8a)

There’s a reason it says on the pill bottle “Do not drive or operate heavy machinery.”  If you can’t think clearly, you cannot react quickly. That’s why so much trouble comes to those who are drunk or stoned.  Lions don’t attack the prey who are alert and ready; they go after the ones who are distracted, asleep or slow.  Being clear-headed alone is not enough.  You have to also pay attention.  Don’t text and drive; don’t go bopping through life without staying alert for dangerous situations.

A buddy of mine has been sober for over 30 years.  He told me the temptation to imbibe “never sleeps.”  So, he stays alert, watchful, so he can steer clear of any temptation that might prove too much.  Good advice for all of us.

Staying clear-headed and watchful are good defensive measures against the constant temptations of life.  But there are offensive measures given in this passage as well.

More, next time.

Blinders

If you are lost and pull out a map, do you ignore the parts of the map that don’t fit with where you think you are?  Of course not.  If you did, you’d still be lost.  If you are typing in an internet address, do you decide for yourself which letters are really necessary, skipping the others?  Doesn’t work so well, right?

Which parts of the Bible are trustworthy and which parts are not?  The Jesus Seminar presumed to decide that question, as it pertained to the sayings of Jesus.  They black-balled a good portion of the Gospel accounts.  For example, in their lofty wisdom, they declared Jesus never said, “I am the way and the truth and the life…”  On what basis?  They began with the assumption that Jesus would never have referred to Himself.  In other words, they crossed out everything from the Gospels that did not conform to their own ideas.  It is no surprise that the portion of the New Testament they found to be authentic closely resembled their own thinking.  And was very short.

If you come to the Bible unprepared to let it challenge you and change you, it won’t.  If you ignore everything you disagree with, what’s left will simply look a lot like you.  God spoke about that kind of audacity through His prophet, Jeremiah:

“‘How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?
The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
what kind of wisdom do they have?   (Jeremiah 8:8-9)

 

 

 

The Meaning of Meaninglessness

Here’s a special treat.  In the last several posts we have chewed on Ecclesiastes, but how can we scoop its message all together?  It seems so full of contradictions – just like you!  Scholars have tried for centuries to make sense of it.  But, Ecclesiastes is about real life, real life that throws curve balls.  Recently, my son sent me a wonderful You Tube about Ecclesiastes.  These guys really get it.  I couldn’t summarize the book any better.  Check it out.  But do yourself a favor and wait for a moment when you can really watch and listen.  It begins with a short Hebrew song and then goes way deep.   Click HERE.

But wait, there’s more!  No, not steak knives…    This same group produced a beautiful song based on the teachings of Ecclesiastes.  You’ll find it HERE.

And, If you missed this short series, the first one is found HERE.

Grace and peace.