Tags: wisdom

Origins and Outcomes

In our last post we talked together about how in the 9th century BC, the prophet Elisha counseled the king of Israel not to kill his prisoners of war. As a result, Joram (king of Israel) prepared a feast for the soldiers of Ben-Hadad (king of Aram/Syria) and sent them home. After that, we’re told, that […]

Reading in Low Light

The book of Ecclesiastes, like the books of Job and Psalms show how easily we confuse our own understanding with our thoughts of God. How else can we read “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless…” (Ecc 1:2 NLT), followed soon by, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every […]

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 […]

Her Father’s Zoo

June Williams was only four when her father bought seven acres of land to build a “zoo without bars”. Growing up with exotic animals, one of her closest friends was Mary the chimpanzee. June tried to teach Mary to tie a knot but never succeeded. She inherited her father’s empathy for animals and recalls his […]

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 […]

Hope in Regret

According to his mother, ML was a wonderful son who, at 14, turned to alcohol and drugs. In the years that followed, he made a series of troubled choices. Caught in a downward spiral, he eventually was arrested and convicted of armed robbery. To his parents’ relief, he got a suspended sentence and seemed to […]

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 […]

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 […]

Google Listens

The University of Chicago’s Wisdom Research website is presently featuring a news report about an 87 year old Zen Master who has been asked by Google execs to help  bring a sense of humanity back into their corporate work culture. According to an article in The Guardian, doors are opening for this elderly Buddhist monk […]

Solomon and Jesus

Long ago, a young king of Israel wrote, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, . . . she is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15 NIV). The Wisdom of Solomon: To this day, we still tell the story of how God appeared to him in a dream and […]

Mixing it Up

Syncretism is an interesting subject. We see an example not only in Dr Livingstone’s Sechele, but also in the life of Solomon. 1Kings 3 indicates that Solomon, the young king of Israel, took a peace bride by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter. Born in the home of a warrior king, Solomon probably had his fill of killing […]

Toxic Truth

Who among us hasn’t seen the pain we can bring to ourselves and others by thoughtlessly saying the truth without humility, love, or wisdom. Those who accused Jesus of being a sinner, or worse (demon possessed) weren’t all wrong. They were followers of Moses. They had heard the rumors about Jesus’ birth, and were not […]

Bully

When my wife and I walked into the small, darkened auditorium, we saw something that has been almost as unforgettable as the documentary we had come to see. Scattered and spread out among the many empty seats, a few parents sat with children in a manner that, as I recall, looked more like a visit […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Bible and Truth

In all of our lives there are defining moments that come with the realization that our world will never be the same again. Some of these events changed the course of history. We may have been around long enough to remember where we were when we heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Others […]

What Is Biblical?

What makes something biblical? The easiest answer may be that, “If something is found in the Bible, it’s biblical.” But that means polygamy, slavery, and genocide all qualify. Another approach is to say that an idea or practice is biblical if it is consistent with the values and nature of the Bible. That’s probably a […]

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 […]

Endless Knowledge

Never before have so many people had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google and Yahoo! at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. The horizons of knowledge—According to Reuters News Service, the Hubble Space Telescope has found 10,000 galaxies in a window of […]

God on Trial

After surviving the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, Elie Wiesel wrote a novel titled The Trial of God. Reflecting Wiesel’s own crisis of faith, he created a character who accuses God of “hostility, cruelty, and indifference” for silently turning His back on His people in their time of need. In this plot, the only one […]

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 […]

Gender and Spirituality

One of the reasons I have been so intrigued with Murrow’s book, “Why Men Hate Going to Church” is that his work explores the interrelationship between spiritual character and the real and perceived nature of masculinity and femininity. In the middle of such a discussion I find myself in wonder of both the self-evident nature […]

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, […]

Wisdom Personified

We’ve been thinking together about how Jesus is not only wisdom personified (1Cor 1:30), but also our best reason to pursue more of what it means to live wisely in him rather than less (James 3:13-17). While trying to flesh out the thought that James is actually telling us how to find and recognize the […]

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 […]

Treasure Hunter’s Field Guide

Paul says that in Christ “are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). He writes this out of his belief that the Jesus who died in our behalf on a Roman Cross is no less than (yet far more than) the Creator of the universe (Col 1:16). Seems to me that […]

With or Without Proverbs

Woke up today feeling mentally tired and spiritually cool. Started reading from the 18th chapter of proverbs with a shaky prayer for God’s help. Suddenly found my imagination captured by statements like: A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment (18:1). The name of the LORD is a […]

Talk Radio Tactics and Attitudes

I wish I could remember all of the conversations I’ve had over the past year that have left me with the distinct impression that, by mirroring the values and attitudes of Talk Radio or Talk Television, followers of Christ have unintentionally left him for someone else. As a rule I don’t think the labels “conservative” […]

On Returning Home

Over the last couple of weeks, work assignments have taken me to Singapore, Taipei, Taiwan, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Along the way I’ve had a chance to spend time with co-workers, meet friends of RBC, and see some of the ways that East and West are closer than they are far apart. In Taipei I […]

Knowledge Without Wisdom Can Drive us Crazy

Knowledge without wisdom can make us naïve, foolish, or crazy. Have been thinking about this after rediscovering a book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend that is titled 12 Christian Beliefs that Can Drive you Crazy (Zondervan 1994-1995). The first false assumption that they list is “It’s selfish to have my needs met”. In a […]

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 […]

Sobriety

More than a few times, I’ve been inspired by those who have learned the hard way to understand the meaning of sobriety. But what if we said together… OK, some of us get the thing about misusing alcohol, street drugs, or even prescription meds. Maybe it’s time to take our story to the next step… […]

Four Kinds of 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 […]

Better than Gold

Do we associate wisdom with  Confucius or Buddha rather than with Jesus and Paul? If so, we might miss the significance of what Solomon recommends when he writes, “Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding. For the profit of wisdom is better than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom […]

The Wisdom and Foolishness of Simplicity

The Proverbs talk about the foolishness of “simplicity.” Paul talks about its wisdom. 2 different kinds of simplicity are in view. The wisdom of the Psalms and Proverbs warn about the danger of being naïve, gullible, and unaware of danger lurking behind the false claims of deceitful or misguided people (Psalm 119:30; Prov 14:15). Paul […]

Could This be True?

Just read something I find hard to believe. Found it in a short article by Liz Szabo writing for USA Today. She says that, according to a report released online in  The New England Journal of Medicine, “Eight hospitals reduced the number of deaths from surgery by more than 40% by using a checklist that […]

Black, White, and Grayscale

Some of us tend to think in terms of black-and-white, clear-cut categories. To us, a statement or a conclusion is either true or false. Others are more likely to see how the same statement might be either true or false depending on the circumstances. Some of us work from a truth model which might say, […]

Four Kinds of Wisdom

While in Asia recently I saw examples of eastern religion that were foreign to faith in Christ. My heart went out to mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who have not yet discovered the incomparable and unparalleled life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Thinking back, however, I also remember how, on another trip to the region, […]

Pastors and Counselors

A man, much my senior, and someone I consider especially wise, once reminded me that followers of Christ “are called to be “saints”, but not necessarily “sane”. Looking back, I believe his provocative comment reflects the complexity of life in this broken world. The few words that stuck in my mind seem to reflect the […]

Pendulum Riders

One of the characteristics of our human nature is that we spend a lot of time reacting to, and trying to distance ourselves from, the sins of our fathers. As we react, it is as though we were jumping up and grabbing a great pendulum as it swings away in the opposite direction. In the […]

An Open Letter to Old Friends

If I could write an open letter to some of the friends I’ve had who didn’t buy my reasons for faith in Christ, I think I would imagine them as a person I’ll call Aaron and write something like this. “Dear Aaron, I hope you are doing well. I miss our conversations. Even more, I […]

Word Puzzles

To love well, we must also learn to hate. Some of what we hate, we must learn to love. Much of what comes easy will be difficult to endure. Some of what comes with work will give us rest. Riches are discovered in seeing our real poverty. Safety in a place of risk. More in […]

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 […]

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