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The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-19

wonkaIn ‘Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” there are a couple of instances where ‘Willie’ implores certain misbehaving children to come back, or to stop some activity. It’s humorous because he makes no effort to stop the child. He simply asks them to stop and leaves the ultimate decision up to them. Each child to whom this admonition is given refuses to listen and finds themselves in some predicament needing rescue…and expulsion from the tour.

We can laugh at those antics and choices, but we also need to be aware of the truth exhibited in human nature. The Old Testament story of Noah and the Ark is similar. In Luke 17:27, Jesus is quoted as saying “In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

Will it be the same for us? Paul says that we are without excuse in our refusal to follow God. He has shown us through the heavens (which we have explained away as chance); He has shown us through his Word (which we have labeled as irrelevant stories and information); He has shown the ultimate example through his son Jesus Christ (who we executed, not because of his crimes, but because of his refusal to follow the status quo).

One of the last things Jesus told his disciples is that someday he would return for us. The Apostle John tells us more details about this when he says that every eye will see him and every knee will bow before him, regardless of whether they believe or not.

So we are met with two challenges. First of all, will we reject the offer of eternal life with Christ because we’ve refused to accept his free gift? No one will go to hell because of their sin. That was taken care of on the cross. However, we will go to hell for rejecting the free ticket to heaven.

The second challenge is for those of us who know we will enjoy eternity with Christ. Right up until the day Noah entered the Ark he pled with people to accept God. Will we do the same? Will we pray for our enemies and plead with those we love to come to Christ? Or will we simply watch them continue on a path of self-destruction and utter the words of Willie Wonka “No. Stop. Please Don’t.”

There will be many who will mock us during our walk on earth, just as they did Jesus. How will you respond?

PRAYER: Father God. Thank you that I can know I’ll spend eternity with you. Give me the passion to reach others and the opportunities I need to share Jesus. Amen.

*Photo courtesy of Google Photos


the easy pathThere is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 14:12

When I was in high school I remember leaving my girlfriend’s house and heading home. I was one of those first nice days of early spring and even though it was well past sunset, I decided to take the long road home. There was a road, well, more like a path through a section of woods that I decided to try. This path was a favorite ‘stopping point’ for high school couples. I was never plowed, so it was closed in the long winter months.

I noticed some tire tracks so I decided it must be open and turned cautiously down the road. At first, it was nothing but mud and ruts. The tire tracks stopped and it was obvious that whoever had been down this road had turned back…but not me.

As I rounded the curve I began to have second thoughts. Then my headlights showed what appeared to be clear sailing over a smooth level bed of snow. What I didn’t know, but would soon find out, is that the snow covered a thin layer of ice incapable of supporting the weight of my car. I came to a stop. There car refused to go forward or backward. I realized I was stuck so I opened the door to get out. When I did so water and chunks of ice flowed in. I closed the door, opened the window, climbed over the car and jumped to safety.

The next day we called a tow truck and had the car removed from the water and ice. I learned a valuable lesson that day. The road that looks smooth isn’t always what it appears to be. Sometimes the rugged road of ruts and mud is much safer.

Life is a lot like that road I traveled. Sometimes we struggle to get through the mud and ruts and shout with glee when the road ahead appears to offer smooth sailing. Then, we find out that smooth sailing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

It’s no wonder that Jesus warns us about tough times ahead. It’s no wonder that New Testament writers encourage us to rejoice when we go through trials. The narrow, rugged path is often best because it forces us to rely on God to see us through.

The world screams at us to look for the easy way out. The age of entitlement tells us what we deserve and it’s always good…at first. But God’s ways, even though they are hard, are always the best ways.

Be encouraged. Whatever struggle you are going through now isn’t meant to defeat you. Rather, it is brought into your life to make you stronger and to show you how strong your God really is. God’s way isn’t the easiest way, but it’s always the best way.

PRAYER: Father God. Even though it’s hard to do, I thank you for the ruts in my road because they remind me I’m much safer with you than I am on the road the world tells me is easiest. Thank you for the strength I receive through Jesus Christ and your Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 


Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Proverbs 2:3

“She’s leaving for home tomorrow. I don’t want her to go. I love her, but she says we’ll never work out. What can I do?”

Slide1That phone call happened over ten years ago but I still hear the panic in his voice. My friend Bill (not his real name) was several years younger than I was. He was just starting out in life and had finally met the girl of his dreams, although she may have referred to it as a nightmare, not a dream.

Bill had a heart of gold but his youthfulness often got him in trouble because he would often act first, think later (and rarely listen). The woman of his dreams had moved to the Midwest for the summer to stay with a friend and see if things could work with Bill. Obviously, things weren’t going well.

As Bill and I talked on the phone I gleaned a few more details about the situation. His girlfriend told him that the summer had been one of frustration and futility. She was going home because it was obvious things would never work out between them and she didn’t want to waste her time trying to get Bill to listen to her.

I’m no ‘Abigail Van Buren’ but I told Bill that if he really loved her he needed to sit her down, ask her to tell him what needed to happen to make things work, and keep his mouth SHUT. This was not an easy skill for Bill. He would often revert to making excuses, or defending himself or pointing out other people’s weaknesses. Silence and listening weren’t a skill he excelled at.

My advice must have worked. Ten years and three kids later Bill and his bride are happily married. I’d like to take credit, but my advice really wasn’t magic. Each of us need to learn the skill of listening in our relationships with each other and especially with God.

Proverbs 2:3 tells us to “Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.” If you are like me, my prayers are often a list of requests for myself or others. I pray for things and events, but not insight and understanding.

It’s interesting that Solomon would pen this proverb. He chose insight and understanding over power or wealth because he knew that with insight and understanding the rest would probably naturally fall into place.

Bill learned a valuable lesson each of us need to learn. We serve a God that is all-wise and all-knowing and his desire is to share with us what he knows so we can make wise choices in life. We will learn far more about God by listening to him than talking to him. Using his word as a foundation be deliberate and passionate about coming to him. Hebrews says we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, not timidity. (Hebrews 4:16)

PRAYER: Father God, life at times confuses me. Other times it scares me. Help me learn how to listen to you so that I can gain the wisdom I need to approach the issues I’m facing in life. Thank you for your passionate desire to help me through. Amen.

 

 


Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Ecclesiastes 7:11

Small town logic is brutal but often true. This was made evident to me path of wisdomduring a conversation I had at a local coffee shop. Our discussion turned to a local tragedy. A young adult had been killed in a single-car rollover. Reports were that the victim was under the influence at the time of the accident that claimed his life.

One of the men sitting at the table asked the name of the deceased. When he was told who it was, he shook his head and responded something like this, “Yeah, it’s a tragedy, but you know, his father was a drunk.”

His statement bothered me at first. It didn’t seem fair to minimize the accident by pointing to something that happened to someone else in the past. The more I thought about that conversation, the more I realized that while my feelings of injustice were true, the reality was, the reaction of the older gentleman at our table also carried truth to it.

Like it or not we are, in a sense, victims of our past. We’ve learned certain habits, thoughts and tendencies from our parents or others that went before us. We really have two choices in life. We can learn from those who have gone before us, or we can fall victim to the negative things we’ve gleaned from them.

There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

King Solomon said it a different way. “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.” We all hope to leave our children a big inheritance. We want them to be better off than we were. But the reality is, leaving them an example of Godly wisdom will be of a bigger benefit in the end.

Don’t just spend your entire life striving to provide your children with an inheritance that can be easily squandered. The wisdom you leave them will be of far greater value than any material possession you have.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine the kind of inheritance you are preparing for those who go behind you:

  1. What do you worry most about? Spiritual growth or physical/financial health?
  2. Where do you spend your time? The golf course or your knees in prayer for your kids and grandkids?
  3. Will those who come behind you remember you for being an encourager or a judge?
  4. Do you talk about the weather and sports more than you do topics of faith and grace?
  5. Does your Bible suffer from dust or worn pages?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to strive daily to leave an inheritance of wisdom that others will be able to use to guide them through life. Amen.


Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. Daniel 12:3

“Would you rather have wisdom, or knowledge?”

Some may say knowledge. In fact our society is enraptured with the idea that gaining more knowledge will solve our social ills. Millions of dollars are spent each year in the United States on studies to see how we can increase the knowledge of our children.

Ironically, the more money we spend on education, the worse society seems to be. Even within the church we see a plethora of resources to guide Christians in a closer walk with Christ. Yet Biblical illiteracy is at an all time high and church attendance in many areas is sagging. Knowledge alone is obviously not the answer.

Perhaps that’s why Solomon, considered to be the richest King in history, didn’t ask for money or knowledge, he asked for wisdom.

Daniel says that the wise, not the knowledgeable, will shine like the light of the heavens. Here in the northern hemisphere we look forward to the no-so-frequennorthern lightst appearance of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. On a good night, the sky seems to be aflame with lights dancing and waving across the heavens.

As believers in Christ, we are called to be wise. It’s not an option. It’s not set aside for those who have been more blessed with riches and resources. Wisdom isn’t measured by what I have, but how I use what I have. I know many people of simple means who are by far wiser than those with fancy titles after their names.

So, how can I be wise? Here are some tips go gain wisdom.

First of all, ASK. That may seem too simple, but James tells us in James 1:5 that “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” It may seem too simple, but who better to ask than the creator of the universe. Growing closer to Him helps us to see life as he sees it which, by the way will be markedly different than many ‘experts’ of the day.

Secondly, SEEK out those who seem to have wisdom glean from them by listening and learning. Don’t simply seek out the people with fancy cars and fancy titles. Seek those who exhibit on a daily basis the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. There is no real wisdom aside from Christ.

Lastly, and this is the most difficult, KEEP ON! Teachers can teach you knowledge. Preachers can teach you Godliness. Only life can teach you wisdom. As you seek a closer relationship with God; as you learn from those who have gone before you, be patient with yourself. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Soon you’ll find you are shining like the very stars in heaven and people will Give God the glory for who you are.

PRAYER: Lord God, there as so many times when I fail. There are so many times when I live according to my own expectations or the expectations of others. Empower me with your Spirit so that I can live according to your wisdom so others will see you in me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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