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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.

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” Philippians 2:1

Slide1I was at a meat market one time and watched as one of the butchers in the back was pounding away on a piece of meat. He wasn’t just touching it. He had a huge mallet and was obviously putting every ounce of energy into every swing. Once he finished, the piece of beef looked battered and beaten. “That,” he said looking up and catching my watchful eye, “Will be one tender steak.”

Later, as I sat down to dinner, I realized he was right. It was, perhaps, the most tender and tasty piece of steak I’d ever eaten.

Later, I sat down to read from the book of Philippians. This book has always amazed me because the Apostle Paul wrote it in perhaps the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. Philippians 2:1 jumped off the page as I read it. “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?”

What caught my eye was the question, “Are your hearts tender and compassionate.” In order to enjoy the steak I’d just eaten it needed to be beaten and bruised. I wondered, “Is the heart the same? Is the best way to get a tender heart is for it to be battered and bruised beyond recognition? Is that the best way for us to become truly palatable to those around us?

Further reflection tells me yes. When we are faced with trials and struggles, whether they are the result of our own stupid actions of the vengeful actions of others we have two options. When we come under attack we can either become bitter or tender.

When we come into a relationship with Christ, we must first come to grips with our own failure and the realization that our own strength offers no hope. That’s brokenness. When we come to this realization we can have a better grasp of the pain others are going through. Our own brokenness leads to tenderness.

We can not effectively comfort others until we ourselves have been comforted by the healing salve of Jesus love. Until we lose hope we can not be encouraged by the hope he offers. Until we realize our utter dependence on one another we can not sense the power of the Holy Spirit and its bond in our lives.

A broken heart is a tender heart. A tender heart is one that is attractive to others just as a tough cut of meat becomes a delicious meal. Jesus allows us to be broken because He knows we will never be tasteful until that happens.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to become tender and not bitter as a result of the trials we go through on a daily basis by strengthening us through your Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Lord is a mighty rock, and he never does wrong. God can always be trusted to bring justice. Deuteronomy 32:4

Beach and rockMy family and I were playing on the beach near San Diego, CA on vacation. It was a beautiful Southern California day and exciting for us ‘northerners’ to be able to enjoy the surf. My daughters enjoyed racing waves into shore and then, as the wave receded, looking to see what had been washed onto the beach.

It amazed me how each wave changed the topography. Shells would appear for a moment until the next wave washed it away or buried it out of sight. The footprints of my daughters were only momentary dents in the sand erased forever by the next wave. Sand has no chance over the mighty power of the waves.

In so many ways, life is like that. People come into our lives and leave again. In some cases all too soon. Relationships bring excitement for a time, but time also tends to threaten the security the relationship offered. People, places and things we once thought secure can be washed away in a moment.

Whether we admit it or not, the one thing each of us seeks is security. That’s why we look for a good job; why we pressure out kids to get a good education; why we work so hard to get a retirement account that will take care of us when we get older.

The security the world has to offer is like the shifting sand on the beach that day. It is in a constant state of flux and offers no guarantees. Jesus once said that trusting the world was our own strength was like building a house on the sand. When trouble comes, our security gets washed away in a moment.

Near the beach we played on that day was a large cliff. It stood there for years holding back the sea from escaping it’s boundaries. The water’s power was no match for the rock. It stood strong and tall, seemingly oblivious to the water’s puny, relentless attacks.

God is described as a rock in scripture. Regardless of what you throw at a rock, it stands tall and strong. In the same way, when we trust God with our lives, nothing the world throws at us will have any effect.

What waves are crashing against you today? Are you focusing your attention on standing strong on the shifting sand of your own strength or are you standing on the rock that won’t fail and won’t change regardless of the size of the waves?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the fact that you know that battles I’m fighting now and those that will come in my future. When I get discouraged please help me to stand firm on you. Thank you for never letting me down. In your name, Amen.

Great thoughts for a day of rememberance.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

One day my family and I were driving down a logging trail deep in the forests of northern Minnesota. As darkness fell we kept our eyes open for any wildlife that may be roaming in the woods alongside the road, or better yet, on the road we traveled. We were disappointed. Our trip didn’t produce any success.

As we returned to our campsite my wife made a statement that struck me as being far more profound that she may have realized. Her statement was simply this, “We didn’t see any animals, but I wonder how many saw us.” It was a point well taken. God has given animals tools to keep them safe from enemies. Some animals would be easy prey if it weren’t for the camouflage that hides their true identity from the enemy.

While camouflage may be a good thing for animals, it has no place in the Christian life. There have been a few times recently when celebrities have spoken openly about their faith and it came as a surprise to me. Then I thought, why? Why should I be surprised that someone is ‘bold enough’ to speak about their faith? Why should that be considered a courageous thing?

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, makes it clear that a person who claims to be a child of God should show by their lives who they are. Disciples of Christ should never be camouflaged by the world. People should recognize them easily just as they recognized Jesus.

Slide1Jesus wasn’t known because he ‘had all the right answers’. Jesus didn’t stand out because he spoke out against the evil rule of the Roman government. He didn’t spend his time demanding other people follow his way. Jesus didn’t call people by their sin, he called them by their names. He didn’t point out their failures, he healed them of their pain.

What will you wear today? Will you wear the camouflage of ridicule and condemnation or will you wear the name of Jesus proudly and show it through graceful living. Will you notice people by their sin or reach out to them because of their pain?
Lord Jesus, help me to show others your love and grace. Keep me from hiding behind the camouflage of judgment and religion so others can see you. In your name I pray, Amen.

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September 2015
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