Archive for the 'Wisdom' Category

(Posts Archive)

Overthinking

I’ve become more aware lately of how many costly mistakes I’ve been making by not taking the time to stop, take a breath, and think—and by my inclination to think too much. Am guessing you’ve noticed, as I have, that inspired words meet us on both sides of the road. The first Psalm urges us to meditate day and […]

Child-Like-Ish

What’s the difference between being childlike and childish? One gets higher marks than the other. We seem to speak warmly of childlike wonder, trust, and innocence while being less approving of those who are childishly impatient, demanding, and self-centered. According to the New Testament, God became a child who, upon becoming a man, overheard the […]

Nationalism

The resurgent nationalism that is testing international relationships and putting the brakes on globalism is a form of naturalism. It is normal and natural for us to have a protective family-like interest and love for our homeland. But what kind of nationalism and naturalism serve the common good? And to what extent do they affect our dual […]

In Honor of our Nitzevets

King David’s great-grandmother was a Moabite by the name of Ruth. But who was his mother? She is referred to in the Bible (1Samuel 22:3-4), but not named. Only by a tradition of the Jewish Talmud are we told that David’s mother was an Israelite by the name of Nitzevet, the wife of Jesse, and […]

Serious Comedy Then and Now

In the 8th chapter of 2 Kings, there’s a life and death story told in a somewhat comedic way. The king of Aram (present day region of Syria) has been trying to conduct raids on the neighboring nation of Israel. But whenever he would come up with a new plan of attack the prophet Elisha would […]

The Wonder of a Tree

A tree doesn’t need to look busy to get a lot done. Without apparent effort, it makes shade and oxygen while filtering the air of carbon monoxide. Without going anywhere, its branches slow erosion by breaking rainfall with its leaves even as it holds soil in place with its roots. Without conscious effort to make a name […]

The Consuming Fire

Seems like I’ve been so slow to learn that Jesus does more than change lives. He also gives new meaning to the way his followers use words and ideas. He gives us his own upside down and inside out vision for everything. He shows us how to think differently about big people, little people, life, death, family, […]

Life 101

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith […]

What is it About Jonah?

I don’t remember the first time I heard about Jonah. But looking back, I can see how differently his short story has played out in my imagination over the course of a lifetime. Early on, it was about a man who was swallowed by “a whale”. At some point I learned that it was a […]

Backstory

Words spoken or written have a backstory. So does everyone and everything. Without some understanding of what caused an event, or where a person has come from, it’s hard to make much sense of anything or anybody. That’s not to imply that anyone can collect all of the data, DNA, or background information that we […]

A Center— high and wide

Knowing when to settle for our agreements rather than trying to graciously forge through our disagreements requires the art and gift of wisdom. Beginning with our differences is a non-starter for getting anywhere together. But all too often finding agreement isn’t easy. Pope Francis’ visit to America, like Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, is a timely […]

Living with Imagination

While watching a PGA golf match on television the other day, I caught an interview with the professional who, at that point, was on top of the leader board. When he was asked, “Do you have a strategy for what it’s going to take to handle the pressure and win this tournament?”, I expected him […]

Foreshadowing in The Lottery

In 1948 the New Yorker Magazine published one of the most famous short stories in American literature. Titled “The Lottery”, and written by Shirley Jackson, it’s about a small town that held an annual drawing in which every family picked a slip of paper out of a black box. As town people look at one […]

News Without Borders

The ongoing debt crisis that has become such a defining moment for Greece and the nations of the Eurozone might be a parable for the world. What do you do with a debt that cannot be paid? Many believe that to cut Greece from the Union would amount to the imposition of a national foreclosure […]

Echoes of the Garden

While working in my yard the other day, I was startled by something moving in the bushes. Once I calmed down and saw what was happening, I ran to get my camera. A harmless (to me) garter snake had its jaws around a live toad and over the next half hour gave me a chance […]

Ubuntu

A story is going around the internet that, in some ways, sounds more like legend than fact. But the idea behind it seems to represent a cultural value that is real. As related on an Ubuntu website, an anthropologist made an important discovery after completing his study of a tribe in a southern region of […]

Why the Mystery?

In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we remember and celebrate events that no one but the Messiah, himself, saw coming. Even when Jesus began repeatedly telling his friends that he needed to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die at the hands of religious leaders— before rising the third day (Matt 16:21), it was […]

No Questions Asked?

What do the questions we ask, or don’t ask, say… About us? About our thoughts of one another? About what we think we already know? What about the questions we ask,  or don’t ask, about God? Why am I asking? Maybe because I’ve been listening to conversations, to the way people like us sometimes talk […]

Rectification of Names

I found a quote the other day that intrigued me. Attributed to Confucius, it read, “Social disorder often stems from the failure to perceive, understand, and deal with reality. And that social reality is tied up with language.” Since I was reading words out of context, I did some checking to see if there was […]

The Ways of the Cuckoo Bird

In a list of latest headlines this morning I found one that stood out from the rest, being different in kind— yet similar in nature. Appearing in the BBC Nature News, the headline is Cuckoos’ Shameless Egg-laying Tactics Revealed. Before reading the article, I thought of the cowbird that is known for laying its eggs […]

A Time to Listen

My guess is that more than a few of us remain pretty amazed at the opportunity to drop by once in a while, check out the conversation, and as we care to, compare notes, anonymously, with people from all over the world—about matters that are important to us. But having said that, I wonder how […]

Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner?

There may be a point in the distinction between hating the sin and loving the sinner. But it’s risky business. And some of us might be better off leaving the job to someone else. By now, more than a few of us have probably discovered that it is hard to point our finger at anyone […]

Looking for Wisdom

From Eden until now, one of life’s great challenges has been to see our need not just for knowledge… but for wisdom. The difference is just as needed when it comes to our understanding of the Bible—and maybe more so in our information age. It doesn’t even take a knowledge of the Bible to see […]

Elementary Watson

In the TV series Elementary, a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes, I find an interesting bit of dialogue in an episode called The Rat Race. Detective Holmes is talking to Watson about something that Watson, played by Lucy Liu, says she hasn’t noticed before. Holmes asks Watson about a recent date. She tells him how […]

A Signature Mark of Work in Progress

If there is a progression in Jesus’ Declaration of a New Day, then hungering and thirsting for righteousness bears the seeds of what he says next. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt 5:7) Showing up for this Operation Rescue is an indication of having seen the undeserved relief of misery that […]

Jesus’ Manifesto

The word “manifesto” is often associated with the Socialist Manifesto of Marx and Engels (1842). But in a more general sense it is a public declaration of intentions as issued by a government or a political party. If Jesus had a manifesto, or inaugural address, it probably would be what we now call his Sermon […]

Getting Personal

I’ve been involved in some conversations the last few days that might have a bearing on what we’ve been trying to work through together. One of those discussions had to do with the way the Scriptures point us—sometimes in very subtle ways— to Christ, and to our need of the God he reveals. For example, […]

Persecution Complex

In general usage the idea of a persecution complex refers to an unhealthy state of mind that causes persons or groups to assume that they are the victims of an evil conspiracy that has singled them out because they are different than the mainstream. The term therefore is apt to cause many of us to […]

Politically Correct?

In reading over the conversation about the last post, I’ll admit that I too have been bothered by what Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes. Am thinking there are some of us who would rather that our daughters or wives not hear Solomon saying,  “This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at […]

In Search of a Safe Place

In Old Testament times, innocent people could find temporary shelter by running to “cities of refuge” or by getting to and hanging on the “the horns the altar” of sacrifice. But that was for those who i.e. unintentionally harmed others. What about those who were guilty? Only with the Cross of Christ do we see […]

A Time to Speak

Some of us have been around long enough to see that the Bible we treasure has been used to multiply the pain of racial minorities, women, the poor, the mentally ill, the divorced, abused, addicted, unemployed, and prisoners. This past week I attended an event that showcased the stories of people who have repeatedly heard the […]

The View from There

On May 13 Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield returned to earth after almost 5 months in the International Space Station. After 144 days of weightlessness, Chris said his return to earth felt like a car crash. Suddenly he and his two crew members were lying on their side, looking out the window of their Russian space […]

What’s the Difference?

As baseball season returns, I bumped into an old story that still makes me smile. My apology to cricket fans, and the March Madness of college basketball. Three baseball umpires are each asked how they call balls and strikes. The first explains,”If a thrown pitch crosses the plate between the knees and the shoulders, it’s […]

Notes on a Diplomat

Last night I had a chance to hear a lecture hosted by our regional World Affairs Council. The speaker was an articulate member of the international diplomatic core who walked us through the complex issues of: Rhetoric and reality—the difference between what is said and done. Interests vs values—the tendency to act in the interpretation […]

Looking for a Proverb

Somewhere I picked up the idea that the Bible says, “You can learn more from your critics than your friends.” Seemed to make so much sense that enemies are more likely than our friends to point out our faults, mistakes and blind sides. But I’ve just spent some time trying unsuccessfully to find “what I […]

The Work that Consumes Us

Labor can mean many different things: 1.  The pain women endure to be the bearers of life. 2.  The work done to bring in a harvest. 3.  The history of workers standing together against unfair practices. Freely chosen, it can be the source of some of our greatest joys. Forced, or withheld,  it can break […]

Oylmpic Tattoo

Was interested to read a BBC article today about an Atlanta woman who got a tattoo to celebrate her participation as a 2012  Olympic torch bearer.  Only after sending a picture to a friend did she discover that her badge of honor was misspelled. The good natured woman said that, even though the parlor artist […]

The Gambler

How much of the world beyond has echoes, or reflections, in the world we know? While thinking about the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I’ve been thinking again about The Gambler, the Don Schlitz song that Kenny Rogers made famous in 1978. While The Gambler isn’t Bible, the perspective it offers from the mouth […]

The Ostrich and the Cross

Your responses to the previous question have been so good! Let me see if I can pull our thoughts together and move us a bit further. Together, we have found a man named Job at the end of his moral and mental sanity. His stature as the wealthiest, most influential, and most blessed man in […]

Fishing in Deep Water

What do we do with a proverb that could have several translations and meanings? That’s the case of Proverbs 20:5 which is translated by the New International Version as, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” One reason that the meaning is not certain is […]

What Else is God Hiding?

In our last post we saw how a proverb can help us reflect on the wisdom and ways of our God. By giving us a saying that functions like a riddle, our minds are stretched to consider more than one possibility. Yesterday we thought together about the proverb “It is the glory of God to […]

What is God Hiding?

Could it be true that the greatness of God lies not only in what he has revealed, but in what he has concealed? If so, what is he hiding? Prov 25:2 gives us what amounts to a riddle. There we read that the glory of God is to conceal a thing but that to search […]

Implications of Supporting Israel

This question is important not only for followers of Christ, but for people of all religions and points of view. Ultimately, it is not just about God’s promise to Abraham that he would bless those who blessed him, and curse those who cursed him (Gen 12:3). It also raises the question of what the Apostle […]

Still Trying to See What Matters

It seems increasingly clear that wisdom involves the ability to see what matters in the middle of confusing and conflicting information. But what keeps unnerving me is the realization that when it comes to seeing what matters, it’s so often something that cannot be seen by our natural eyes and understanding. We talked about this […]

Unexpected Answers

The Bible answers the most important questions we can ask: Where did we come from? What matters? Who can we trust? Who is God? Is he good? Who is Jesus? Why did he die? Did his life end in failure? How can we be counted among his followers? How should we treat our enemy? Where […]

Real and Good?

What is real? And what is good? Those two questions, according to Dallas Willard, professor of philosophy at The University of Southern California in Los Angeles can help us think about what is at stake for us personally in this amazing journey we call life. In an interview for an future Day of Discovery program […]

Who or What is More Biblical?

Proverbs 18:18 says, “Casting lots can end arguments and settle disputes between powerful opponents.” Another proverb says, “We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall (Prov 16:33 NLT). So is it biblical to settle an argument by drawing straws, flipping a coin, or rolling the dice? And…why is it that few […]

Counsel of the Columns

The counsel of the Bible can sound contrary to all reason—and against our best interests—while showing us the meaning of wisdom. For instance, the Apostle James says something that could sound more like mental illness than spiritual health.  He encourages his readers to “count it all joy when they fall into various kinds of trials […]

Rumors on Steroids

A few days ago, online communities lit up with pre-publication rumors about a book that is coming out by Rob Bell on the subject of heaven, hell, and the destiny of all. Overnight, a video teaser, and cover copy released by his publisher stirred up enough furor (over what Rob might say) to earn his […]

Lost You!?

Let’s talk about what’s happening in the conversation following my last couple of posts. By using the literature model of author intention, plot, subplot, character development, mood, setting, conflict, resolution etc., I’ve left some of you with the impression that I’m being disrespectful of the sacred page. That’s what I don’t want to do. I […]

Book (Reading) Club Experience?

I have some questions about how book reading clubs work and am hoping that some of our friends may have had experiences in them that might throw some light on how we read the Bible. If you’ve ever participated in a book club that has gotten together to discuss books (not a Bible study), I […]

Slippery Slopes

Many of us know what it’s like to find ourselves on a steep roof or on some other slick incline of mud, ice, or loose gravel. So when someone uses the argument of “the slippery slope” to caution against taking even a small misstep in a dangerous direction, we do more than understand the warning. […]

Why We See Forgiveness Differently

In reading over the previous conversation it’s apparent  that there is still disagreement about the nature of forgiveness. We all know that we need it. But we disagree about when it is appropriate to give it. Our problem is that the Bible, in wisdom, says at least two different things: (1) That forgiveness is to […]

Wonder, Worship, and Wisdom

Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus are known for their wisdom. All three reflect the characteristics of wise teachers. They use short stories and memorable one-liners to help others think for themselves. They help their followers see below surface issues to matters of the heart. They teach their followers to live with priority and perspective. All three, […]

The Goal and Means of Wisdom

In the last couple of posts we’ve been thinking together about the relationship between what Paul says about Christ “being made wisdom for us” (1Cor 1:30) and the description of wisdom James gave us when he wrote, The wisdom that comes from above first of all pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield (deferential), full of […]

Fool’s Gold

The California Gold Rush of 1848 created its share of prospectors who thought they had struck it rich—until learning about a glittering rock that came to be known as fool’s gold. More than a few saw their dreams fade in the metallic luster and brass-yellow hue of a relatively worthless mineral called iron pyrite. Such […]

Relatives and Absolutes

In matters of truth and morality, some of us tend to think in black and white. Others see in shades of gray. The first group is more inclined to use words like always or never. The second is inclined to say, “But sometimes. . . .” The difference can easily affect the way we see […]

Solomon’s Messed-Up Life

From a distance, it would be easy to idealize Solomon. The Bible tells us about his wealth and accomplishments. His national building projects are a tribute to his vision. His collections of proverbs and reflections on the meaning of life show his lifelong pursuit of knowledge. On closer look, though, we see that Solomon had […]

The Wisdom of Agur

It’s painful to be misquoted. I remember how I felt when someone used the Internet to accuse me of saying that Matthew was wrong in applying Hosea 11:1 to Jesus (Matthew 2:15). I had not said Matthew was wrong, but wrote an article to show that Jesus gives fullness of meaning to events and principles […]

Enlightenment

What does it take to be wise? In a television commercial for online yellow pages, actor David Carradine plays a guru to a young seeker. When the student asks, “How do I find enlightenment?” the master says, “Yellowbook.com . . . Everyone is searching for something . . . . After all, it is a […]

A Shuffled Deck

Life is like a game of cards. We have to work with what we’re dealt. But what happens if we make up the rules as we go along? What if we assume that there is no real order or purpose to the shuffled deck of circumstance? Questions like these were raised in 1990, when American […]

The Urge to Jump

In April 2006, a man attempted to jump from the top of the Empire State Building. At the last minute, security guards physically restrained him and New York City police charged him with first-degree reckless endangerment. A judge later dismissed the charges, noting that the man had taken steps to ensure the safety of others. […]

Higher Ground

Do any of us think we are on the wrong side of a disagreement? Isn’t it ironic that, in times of conflict, we all think we have right on our side? It doesn’t matter if the disagreement is marital, political, or international. Together with our allies, we all are convinced that our side holds the […]

Words To Remember

A few years ago, I began collecting memorable thoughts and quotes. My regret is that I didn’t start earlier. I’d be willing to trade my stashes of WD-40 and duct tape for those message outlines, good jokes, and countless facts I’ve heard and forgotten along the way. Recently, while looking over the few hundred I […]

Imponderables

Where did God come from? Could a creator who made the earth out of nothing come from nowhere? Even a lowly mosquito doesn’t just happen without a spawning pond or puddle. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer. I see the logic of believing in a first cause great enough and personal enough to explain […]

Wisdom

ACCORDING TO BUDDHIST FOLKLORE, two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other […]

Information Overload

Never before have so many had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google, Alta Vista, and Ask Jeeves at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. Ironically, much of what we are discovering helps us to see how little we know. According to Reuters […]

Religious Conservatives

Why are the villains in the greatest story ever told a group of religious conservatives? The question is personal. I am a religious and biblical conservative. I believe in the importance of the family and am convinced that our children need to learn the dangers of Darwin, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Theologically, I’m a fundamentalist. […]

Unfairness

Life isn’t fair. Helpless children suffer for their parents’ mistakes. Some who work hard are cut down prematurely by accident or disease. Others who hardly work inherit the wealth of someone else’s labor. People of faith seem as subject to the luck of the draw as the weekend gambler. As if by a random dealing […]

Ten Things I Learned From My Dad

In the memories that come with a parent’s passing, I’ve been reminded of what my dad taught those of us who lived and worked with him. In many ways, Dad didn’t have an easy life. Long before his problems with a detached retina, heart surgery, and Parkinson’s disease, he lived in the shadow of his […]

The Voting Booth

How do we, as followers of Christ, vote in a way that is consistent with our faith? Some believe the answer is to cast our ballot in favor of candidates who will try to make the morality of the Bible the law of the land. Others believe the most Christlike vote is the one that […]

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