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Friday, February 10, 2012

If wisdom isnít equated with intelligence, how do I get it?
  
Einstein.jpg
 
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” ~ Albert Einstein

Fine for Albert to say as he was one of the smartest people that ever lived but it is interesting that he says wisdom is not gained by schooling.

So many of us think if we can get that next degree or be able to achieve that next academic award, or write that thesis or rub shoulders with the academic elite we will be wiser. Albert says that’s not how you get it!

Wisdom is deeper! Even the online dictionary[1] says this in its definition

wis·dom (w z d m)
n.
1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.
2. Common sense; good judgment: "It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things" (Henry David Thoreau).
3.
a. The sum of learning through the ages; knowledge: "In those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations" (Maya Angelou).
b. Wise teachings of the ancient sages.
4. A wise outlook, plan, or course of action.
5. Wisdom Bible Wisdom of Solomon.

 

So if we cannot get wise by learning stuff and common sense is something that has to be gained and cannot be learned, are we lost?

How do we go about getting wisdom?



The bible says this:

Proverbs 1:5-7 (NIV)

  5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
   and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
   the sayings and riddles of the wise.

 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
   but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Note that a fool in this context refers to a morally deficient person.

Here it says fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This is the start point. So those academics who do not fear God are not wise as they have not yet reached the starting point of wisdom.

We have to come to grips with the fact that God is before all things, created all things and sustains all things. Respect for God is the start of wisdom.

Note, I didn’t say accepting God as a personal saviour (our modern war cry that is overused and become a platitude) since that is NOT what the bible says. All it says is fear of God is central to starting to get wisdom.

Fear grows from respect and understanding consequences, doesn’t it?

We need to respect God and understand the consequences of mocking the God of the universe.

So where do we go from there?

Well God once asked a man who was an ancient King something. Here is what was said:

1 Ki 3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Now the reason I mention this is that Solomon wanted wisdom, a discerning heart.

God says : I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.

So here is the ultimate wise man!

The reason I point this out is he had a book of the bible written about how to gain wisdom. It is proverbs!

There are 31 chapters and that is interesting because there is a maximum of 31 days in a month.

So, if we want to get wisdom, perhaps reading one chapter a day, and repeating it for a year would mean we read these deep words twelve times.

 During that time we will live life and be able to apply them!

Then, our life experience and God’s word will work together to increase our wisdom (provided we have started out fearing God).

This is worth more than academic degrees and is freely done.

Think about it!

What is more important than being able to discern the right paths through life?

Perhaps only one thing . . .walking along them!

Let’s do both today!


[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/wisdom
Fri, February 10, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why does Jerusalem have such trouble? The cooking pot parable.
cauldron.jpg

 
  Understanding what a parable is, is not an easy exercise. In fact I have written a whole paper to explain the details of doing so. See Interpreting the parables of Jesus.

Parables do not only belong to Jesus and New Testament times! Rabbi’s of the time were competent in the art of telling parables. Prophets told parables. One example of a parable is an Old testament description of the terrible pain Jerusalem would undergo for rejecting God by Ezekiel.

 Here are the words from the NIV, Ezekiel 24

In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day. 3 Tell this rebellious people a parable and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
   “‘Put on the cooking pot; put it on 
   and pour water into it.
4 Put into it the pieces of meat, 
   all the choice pieces—the leg and the shoulder.
Fill it with the best of these bones; 
 5 take the pick of the flock.
Pile wood beneath it for the bones; 
   bring it to a boil 
   and cook the bones in it.
 6 “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
   “‘Woe to the city of bloodshed, 
   to the pot now encrusted, 
   whose deposit will not go away!
Take the meat out piece by piece 
   in whatever order it comes.
 7 “‘For the blood she shed is in her midst: 
  She poured it on the bare rock;
she did not pour it on the ground, 
   where the dust would cover it.
8 To stir up wrath and take revenge 
  I put her blood on the bare rock, 
  so that it would not be covered.
 9 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
   “‘Woe to the city of bloodshed! 
  I, too, will pile the wood high.
10 So heap on the wood 
  and kindle the fire.
Cook the meat well, 
   mixing in the spices; 
   and let the bones be charred.
11 Then set the empty pot on the coals 
   till it becomes hot and its copper glows,
so that its impurities may be melted 
   and its deposit burned away.
12 It has frustrated all efforts; 
  its heavy deposit has not been removed, 
   not even by fire.
 13 “‘Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided.
 14 “‘I the LORD have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”

We can see here the pain Jerusalem was to have. This was the last warning before Jerusalem fell. The date is date of this chapter is January 15, 588 B.C. which is based on information 2 Kings 25:1,

1 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.

 and in Jeremiah 39:1

1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it.

as well as Jeremiah 52:4 describing the start of that event.  Notice God warns them and gives them a chance to change.

Ezekiel wrote these words down the day God gave them to him, see verse 2.

 Coffman commentaries[1] explain the symbolism as follows:

“the caldron is the city;

 the flesh in it is the people;

the immense fire under it is the fire of war;

the setting of the caldron on the fire is the beginning of the siege;

the rust in the pot (introduced later) is the inherent wickedness of the people;

the "choice bones (Ezekiel 24:4)" are the bones with meat attached to them; their being "choice" bones indicates that the nobility and the landed gentry will also be ruined by the war;

 the "bones under the caldron (Ezekiel 24:5)" are the large bones used, along with the logs for fuel; the removal of the flesh from the caldron indicates the destruction of the whole city, rich and poor alike, high and low, indiscriminately, whether by sword, by pestilence, by famine, or by deportation;

 the emptying of the caldron indicated the removal of Jerusalem's population;

the caldron's still being rusted indicated Jerusalem's worthlessness, at that time, as regarded God's eternal purpose, entailing, of course, the necessity for its complete destruction;

the severe burning of the caldron in intense fire after it was emptied speaks of the burning and destruction of the city itself and the Temple of God.

I have said consequences count yesterday, they do! For those people in Jerusalem, ignoring the warning of this parable was devastating.

Jesus warns us in many parables of many things. We ignore God’s words at our own expense.

So today, let’s plan to read some of God’s word, apply it to our lives, and live knowing we are led by God’s Spirit. Let’s also learn to understand parables. That why I wrote the paper in the “heavy stuff” section, to help us get to grips with what Jesus said.

Have a great day!


[1] http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=eze&chapter=024
Thu, February 9, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Consequences count!

DecisionOK.jpg

 
 
“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.”

Alfred A. Montapert

 
To be forgiven is one aspect of God’s love, to escape the consequences another!

Many people consider the Christian religion to be inappropriate and even unjust!

Particularly when they review one of the messages the popular media puts out about us. There is a view that we are a people who take the easy way out of doing the wrong things (i.e. that sin, the selfish, ignorant and nasty things we do is ignored) and then we have this blind faith in a dead guy taking away the sin, and then there is a belief that we never really face the consequences of our actions.

Fortunately, that is not true, and it is only one perspective!

We, as Christians believe, in a guy who died as a criminal. We believe that this event was a miscarriage of justice and that he was willingly sacrificing himself for us at the time. We also actually believe he was God in human form at the time.

Yeah! I know, that is a bit weird isn’t it!

Yet when investigated, the facts do stand up to inspection!

 We also believe that his death releases us from the effect of sin! So that, our selfish, ignorant and nasty actions are cleared away in God’s eyes.
 
The power to be able to do this was shown when this man, came alive after being horribly tortured and killed. Jesus, that guy, not only came alive, but his friends saw him going up from the Earth in some supernatural way. Then he left a Spirit on earth for each of us to experience. That Spirit helps us know true right, from wrong, if we love God! When we do something wrong, we ask for forgiveness for that “sin” and it is forgiven by God.

One thing that we do know is that the sin we do, although forgiven, has consequences.

 Even if forgiven, we are still faced with the impact of the events we set in motion by doing those selfish, ignorant and nasty things.

How do we know that?

The bible says so!

Remember the story of David and Bathsheba. . .David is a king, spots his neighbours wife on her roof bathing naked. He gets all lustful and sneaky. He organizes an affair while her husband is away at war, and then has her husband placed in front of the battle where he is killed.

Talk about selfish, ignorant and nasty! This is a prime example!

Okay! So there is prophet of God, Nathan, who comes and in a smart way explains to David he is in the wrong, and God is not happy.

It goes like this. . .

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

So God is not taken in by David’s horrible behaviour and sends Nathan the prophet to tell him.

Notice that David doesn’t waste time denying it, or ignoring it. He faces his God and admits guilt. Remember a king in those days was a supreme authority, so he didn’t need to.

That’s the heart of a person who loves God!

When we get faced by the hard truths about ourselves, we admit them and try to make amends.

So what happens next?

This is the interesting part! Nathan the prophet says. . .

“The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die.”[1]

See! David’s sin is forgiven!

But, the consequences are not avoided completely!

Notice if he didn’t admit the sin, he would have died!

Serious consequences! Asking forgiveness reduces the impact of the consequences, but doesn’t take them away!

The consequences also can extend past impacting only ourselves!

Today we are so individualistic in the west, we think everything revolves around us. Our decisions impact us only! Our sin can only impact us! That’s what we think and we are wrong!

Our sin can impact those around us! David’s sin caused the death of an innocent child! That is what I call impacting others!

God made sure that child went to heaven, because once the child dies David comments . . . “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”[2]

Yet, the impact was directly on that child’s earthly life.

Our selfish, ignorant and nasty acts can have consequences, even if God forgives them.

We need to know that! Because God is a loving God, we are forgiven!

Because we are alive, we live on with the events we set in motion and some of these are not pleasant.

It takes a good strong, courageous person to admit their faults and accept the consequences.

That saying of “be saved by God and to hell with the consequences” does not apply to Christians. We know living with God is a daily submitting to his will, so that others will not bear the consequences of our sin!

So let’s do the right things today, and in so doing bless and protect those around us.

Have a great day!


[1] 2 Sam 12 NIV
[2] 2 Sam 12:22
Wed, February 8, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Motivational morbidity
MOCKED.jpg


 
  Ever hit those times when life seems bland, energy seems to evade our abilities, and the sluggish thoughts and decisions we take seem to leave us standing still in that whirlwind of life?

I have!

It’s so hard to move, to put one foot ahead of the other and to get going. It is so easy to simply curl up into a ball in bed and try and ignore existence.

Sometimes we just seem to fail to connect with life correctly, it seems too hard and the effort too great.

I wonder if that is how Jesus felt that night before he died. We know he joined his disciples for a meal and then they sang a few songs (that’s what you did at those meals on that holiday). He announces. . .

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” [1]

 . . .one of his friends was to turn on him. Nasty! Then after the meal he goes out to that garden called Gethsemane.

I guess there were a lot of olive trees there because I googled the name to find out “Gethsemane is a Hebrew girl name. The meaning of the name is `Vat of Oil, oil-press`”[2].

So here he is, our God, standing in grove of gnarled old olive trees and he knows he is in for the pain of his life. Faced with this pain he only wants to talk to God, his Father.

Is that what we do when we are downcast and scared, tired of facing life?

I sure hope so!

We read that account. . .

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” [3]

Sorrow that overwhelms to the point of death! Jesus wanted to die he was so sad!

Sometimes sadness grips us in a tight vicelike grip. It is at times like that, that we need to do what Jesus did, that is go to his father and keep friends nearby. We should ask friends for help! Jesus asked his friends to keep watch with him. He asked for their help.

How does that turn out? We are told. . .

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Now he thinks of his friends safety! He offers them advice on how to keep up the watch. Try praying he suggests!

We need to have praying friends when times get tough! If Jesus did, so do we!

So Jesus goes back to his Father. . .

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

He repeats himself!

Don’t we find in times of anguish and inability to decide, that thoughts keep going around in our minds. Jesus had the same problem! Sometimes we just cannot find new words to explain our feelings to God. In this case, the old words will help.

I know that even finding someone else’s prayer that describes our feelings, and using it, can help in these times. Prayer is powerful, but if we don’t have energy to create our own words, we can use others. Jesus words above are a wonderful example.

So what about those friends he trusted? They let him down!

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

  Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Friends don’t always do what we want, but we should love them anyhow. Jesus did! That death he faced, he did for those same people who had just let him down. He also died so that you and I would know Father God’s great love for us, mirrored in Jesus as he submitted to Father God’s request for his life.

Through facing the difficulty of his life and death, Jesus was victorious. He didn’t turn away from the difficult task!

When we are down, tired and lacking joy, we need to turn to God the Father, ask him for guidance and help. Then, when we get His leading, we need to go forward and do it, no matter how difficult or slowly we do the task. As we step forward with the power of Holy Spirit helping us, we will gain strength and spiritual fortitude. We will become victorious and overcome the strain of the world.

We will join Jesus and the many saints of the past who facing difficulties not only marched through them to victory, but also showed us the way to do the same.

So let’s go and have a victorious day!
Tue, February 7, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heavenly Superbowl!
Football.jpg
 
 
"Sports is human life in microcosm."

Giants 21, patriots 17 and the whole of North America went a little crazy yesterday as the American day of great football passes for another year!

This is an event where there are two teams in conflict and we all wait in baited breath for the result.

This got me thinking of this conflict between good and evil!

It’s far more complex than a football game, it has strategy that is beyond our comprehension and there are a number of different periods in which the play takes place.

This super game is however a game with a certain outcome! God’s team are the professionals and they are playing Satan’s team who are a local high school team. We know the result, but we also know that even when the result is known, the game will be worth watching. Mainly because we have no option, we are the players!

Yes, back in the beginning a short while after God created time, he created man and women and in some way the battle started. Satan convinced Eve to sin and she handed that onto Adam getting us all embroiled in the opening period of the game.

This first quarter was the period before the nation of Israel got the ball. In this first quarter the game was fought by the men of old, the patriarchs and the world of their time.

In the second period, Israel and the sacrificial system was the play. Now Satan and God played a different game.

The Old Testament describes the ebb and flow of that battle.

The third quarter is where the game changes course forever. God puts the greatest player that has lived or would ever live onto the field. Jesus arrives and the game is basically over. He brings in such a change to the game that there is no longer any chance for the opposing team. All they attempt to do now is to hurt their opponents as much as they can as the game play crushes their hopes. Those on God’s team are sure of victory!

This is the third quarter, the one we are living in! Each of us gets asked which team we will play for and each of us makes a decision since not making one by default puts us in Satan’s team.

The final quarter comes after we all die and go to the judgement. It is played at that final Judgement as we stand in front of God the Father and he judges us.

This is where Satan and his followers will finally loose and those of us who love Jesus and play the game with Him are rewarding by winning, not only everlasting life (both winners and loosers get that), but we get to live with God and celebrate in an eternal party in the new Heaven and Earth.

We get to live in a place called the New Jerusalem. There is no pain because the games over and Satan and the demons have left the stadium, forever!

Now, if I need to pick a team, I want to be on God’s team.

How about you?

Mon, February 6, 2012 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

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