“…we aren’t home yet.”

womans-wisdomFrom A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything by Lydia Brownback:

No matter the specifics of our desires or how we express them, all our longings are indicative of the fact that we aren’t home yet. We are unfinished women living in an unfinished world, and because of that, we aren’t going to find full satisfaction until we get home, until we are perfected in Christ and living with him in heaven. Until then, we are going to remain women who want.

 

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“Foolishness, on the other hand, is turning from God and listening only to yourself.”

just-do-somethingI’ve been reading through Proverbs lately (tweeting a verse here and there), and I’ve been thinking a lot about the contrast between a wise person and a fool. I’m also currently reading Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will, and I highly recommend it. He’s making a case that while we’re inundated with information, wisdom is something entirely different. And we’re called by God to seek wisdom, not “some hidden will of direction. He expects us to trust Him and be wise.” DeYoung goes on:

Wisdom is understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God. Wisdom, in Proverbs, is always moral. The fool, the opposite of the wise person, is not a moron or an oaf. The fool is the person who does not live life God’s way. Wisdom is knowing God and doing as he commands. Foolishness, on the other hand, is turning from God and listening only to yourself.

Here are just a few characteristics of a wise man, as described in Proverbs:

~ fears the Lord
~ makes his parents glad
~ diligent
~ walks in integrity
~ listens to advice
~ loves discipline
~ guards his mouth
~ hangs out with other wise people
~ exercises self control

Contrast those with characteristics of a fool:

~ brings sorrow to his parents
~ lazy
~ runs his mouth
~ despises wisdom and instruction
~ refuses to listen to others
~ hangs out with other fools
~ reckless and careless
~ is easily angered

It’s pretty easy to look at those lists and immediately think of people we know – either in person or from television or Twitter. But the trick is finding ourselves there and seeking God’s help to grow in the characteristics of a wise person.

I realize I’m not on to anything new here, but it’s been on my mind and in my reading, and it’s worth pondering. All day long, I’m making little choices to be wise or to be foolish, and I really want to be wise. I’m thankful that God’s doesn’t hide that wisdom from us. He tells us to seek Him and His wisdom, and His word is the place to find it.

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~ Proverbs 2:6

on the fear of the LORD

fearAs I’ve read through my Bible this year, my focus has unintentionally become the fear of the LORD. I noticed it early on this year as I began the 3650 plan, and I continue to mark it as I work through God’s Word. (It’s everywhere!) Recently as I was reading Proverbs 1, I noticed again something I underlined a few months ago: (emphasis mine)

Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.

Have you ever thought of the “fear of the LORD” as something you can choose?

As I prepare for my upcoming marriage, I read Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. These lines pointed me right back to the theme of my Bible reading this year:

“Fear” in the Bible means to overwhelmed, to be controlled by something. To fear the Lord is to be overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and his love.”

Later, Keller writes that “being filled with the Spirit and the fear of the Lord are basically the same thing. They both refer to an inner spiritual experience and reality, but each phrase brings out different aspects of it. They both take people ‘out of themselves.'”

If the Spirit has opened the eyes of our heart, we’re able to choose to fear our LORD. What would that look like? The negatives in Proverbs 1 are instructive. Choosing to fear the LORD would involve heeding His counsel and loving — not despising — His reproof. That would necessarily mean I’d know His counsel — His Word, and that would mean I’d have to devote time and energy to reading it, studying it, hiding it in my heart, and obeying it in the course of my days. And Keller’s words are helpful: Choosing to fear the LORD would mean I’m controlled by Him and His Words, overwhelmed with wonder, worshipping Him. This only happens as I choose to spend time with Him, humbling myself before Him, trusting Him, seeking His wisdom and insight.

It’s so easy to look at our current situation in life without contemplating the myriad choices along the way that got us here. Contrary to what our culture preaches, life doesn’t just happen. It’s the product of a gazillion choices — some small, some enormous — that lead us either to the wisdom of fearing the LORD or the folly of going our own way.

So today we have a choice before us. Will we fear the LORD or go our own way?

Praying I choose wisely,

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just a quick thought

I’d like to write more on this later, but this will have to do for now. As I read Scripture I can’t help but notice how real evil is. (And honestly, I can’t help but see it in real life, in the macro and micro.) Many professing Christians today (and some I actually know) dismiss evil, and even hell, as real. That’s because of our tendency in this age to believe that making judgments on behavior is wrong (“Who am I to judge?”). And this puzzles me because Scripture just doesn’t support those beliefs. Just about everywhere I turn in Scripture evil is a real presence. It is a reality in this world, this side of Heaven. The psalmists certainly understood this. And yesterday I read this in Proverbs 8:

I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. That’s really not how we Christians talk or act, is it? So many believe that hatred of anything is a sin. And if you won’t call any behavior or desire evil — if you won’t dare to make a judgment, you certainly can’t hate it. And if we don’t hate evil, I don’t see how we can really *love* people. For example, if some evil act is done to your children, and you won’t acknowledge it or dare to judge it as evil, you aren’t truly loving your children.

Evil is real.

Wisdom hates evil — the evil in the acts and desires of others and the evil in our own hearts.

That’s what God’s Word says, and if we don’t believe it, *we* have some adjustments to make. Instead, so often, we want to adjust God’s Word to fit our own preferences. But therein lies trouble…and evil.

Just thinking out loud,

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“…Jesus Christ does not say to you,’I told you so.’…”

proverbs wisdomFrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

If you have had your bellyful of sin and you feel wounded and it seems like nobody cares anymore and your heart is broken because you are experiencing the bitter aftertaste of death, Jesus Christ does not say to you, “I told you so.” He says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” There is nothing degrading or shaming in Christ. If we will come to him, he accepts us as we are, he loves us into obedience, and we find by experience that obeying him really is the path of life.

Turn

proverbs wisdomFrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1:23) The Lord is saying, “Sometimes I’ll disagree with you, I’ll correct you, I’ll rebuke you. I don’t work with perfect people. I work with responsive people. Here is the response I’m looking for: turn.” That word “turn” is the most important word in the bible for repentance. It is not a sentimental word. It is a decisive word.

“Each of us is in the middle of a story.”

A theme in my reading these days:

deathbylivingFrom N.D. Wilson’s Death by Living:

No matter how trendy it might be when some people say it, life is a story. All of history is a story. Every particle has its own story trailing backward until it reaches the first Word of the One and Three, and all of those trailing threads — those many — are woven into the one great ever-growing divinely spoken narrative.

In other words, no matter how trite we might be, no matter how much we might use the idea to inflate our own perception of our own personal autonomous self-worth, no matter how much we might swank about in trend-appropriate glasses and trend-appropriate jeans, flexing Story like that one word and the thoughtfulness it implies is all the mojo we could ever need. We are, in fact, on to something. Each of us is in the middle of a story.

But for some reason, we don’t show the slightest desire to read it, let alone live it with any kind of humble self-awareness.

And proverbs wisdomfrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

If your story is limited to the blessings of the here and now, you are in trouble, because your vats bursting with wine will also run dry. But if your life in this world is only the title page to your eternal story, and God also gives you some barns and vats for the present, okay. Just be sure you set your heart not on the gift, which will certainly fail you, but on the Giver, who will certainly never fail you.

a to-do list

proverbs wisdomFrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

You probably have a to-do list for this coming week. Here are the priorities God wants at the top of your list in terms of urgency. #1: Fear the Lord. #2: Turn away from evil. #3: As time permits, breathe. That is the urgency of your life this week. It will add greatness to your life. It will add life to your life. It will save you from a wasted life.

“In God you come up against something…”

proverbs wisdomFrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above.