The Search for Wisdom and Knowledge

wisdom,mentor,JesusI have begun an earnest search for wisdom and knowledge.  I have always possessed a strong desire to discover, to ask why and to understand but lately I feel a sense of increased urgency.  Something, no, some One has built a fire inside my heart that is leading me in directions I never thought possible.

I believe that it is no accident that as I have prioritized my relationship with God, my search for wisdom and knowledge has intensified.  Indeed, the Bible tells us that God is the author of wisdom and has much to say on the subject of wisdom itself:

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5-6)  Solomon, the writer of Proverbs and one of the wisest men who ever lived, declared the value of wisdom and understanding in no uncertain terms.  Here, Solomon describes wisdom as protector and guardian and asserts that no price is too high to pay its acquisition.

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10)  I take satisfaction in how the Bible confirms that wisdom and pride are opposites.  Wisdom and humility, however, go hand in hand and work well together.

“To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26)  The Bible has some strong words on the matter of wisdom and in this case wisdom (along with knowledge and happiness) is given to him who pleases God.  Any search for wisdom must begin with the author of wisdom and He must be glorified by my search or I search in vain.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)  Our Father loves us so much that he always desires to give us good things.  God wants for us to be wise and He is waiting for us to ask!  I now begin each day by asking Him to grant me wisdom and understanding as I am able to receive it.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)  Earlier in his letter, James tells us that God grants wisdom to those who ask.  Here he describes the kind of wisdom that God gives.  I can’t speak for you, but I want more of all of these attributes in my life.

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)  Where is wisdom found?  Who provides the full riches of complete understanding?  Wisdom is found in God through His Son who is the Christ.

That makes the search for true wisdom the search for God Himself, the search for true knowledge the search for His ways and the search for true understanding the search for His love and mercy.  

As I learn to be a blogger, as I learn to be a faithful steward, as I learn to be a good husband, and as I learn to be all that I am meant to be I must hold fast to Him.  Let us commit, together, to a renewed zeal and a renewed sense of purpose for discovering “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that are found in Christ, our Savior and Lord.

5 Things We Must Teach Kids After They Are Saved

teaching, instruction, youth1.  You have a responsibility to grow:  Whether you are a teacher, a pastor, a blogger, a family friend or a parent this is the primary message that you need to be giving the kids around you.  Being saved is not an ending or a destination, it is a beginning.  We who are in the position to do so need to be stressing how important it is that people start young in learning to love God’s Word and spending time each day alone with Him.  We must encourage growth and we need to be consistent with our message and in helping those coming up after us in developing discipline and spiritual wisdom.

We love our kids, we provide for them and care for them the best that we know how.  And we assume that because biological growth comes naturally that spiritual growth will also.  This is not the case (far from it) and we would do well to spend as much time encouraging spiritual growth in our kids as we do caring for their earthly needs.  If we don’t do this then we are doing a disservice to our children and we are going to be called into judgement over it one day as we stand before the Lord.  Our responsibility is a serious one and it’s time we started making it a priority.

2.  Be humble:  Humility is not often modeled in our society, especially by the athletes and stars that our kids view as role models.  The Bible says “God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)  Not only do we need to teach our kids what the Bible says about humility, we need to model it in our own lives and in our interactions with others.  We stress personal accomplishments, team sports, high grades and the uniqueness of the individual but what if we spent just as much time stressing meekness and humility as character traits in our kids?  What kind of change would that make in the world of tomorrow?

3.  Find and develop your gifts:  We are in a unique position to see our kids grow and to get to know the people that God is making them to be.  We should be helping them identify their gifts and talents and then encouraging them to use them for the Lord.  If we teach our kids to love to serve the Lord with gladness while using their gifts and abilities then we will leave a legacy of workers who are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and understand the importance of a unified body of Christ working together.  God richly blesses those who joyfully serve him and the sooner our kids discover this the richer and fuller that their lives will be.

4.  Life is not about having fun:  Despite what the world tells us and the constant bombardment on television for toys and games that appeal to our kids, we were not put on this planet simply to play and have fun.  For many of us, this is a tough message but the sooner we learn it, the better off we will be.  We need to instill a strong work ethic in our kids and students and teach them how to study and be wise with their time and talents.  With the advent of smart phones and the rise of the technology age our kids have more distractions and more games to play than any generation that came before them.  Unless we teach them the value and the pleasure of working hard then we are robbing them of their full potential.

5.  Pray without ceasing:  Prayer for the Christian should be as natural as breathing.  This takes time to develop and is not something that will occur without training, instruction and more importantly, example.  The best way to teach a strong prayer life is to have and live a strong prayer life.  Yes, we need to pray in our prayer closets and in our quiet times but if we are in a position to teach and instruct young people then we also need  to pray boldly and unashamedly in front of them.  We need to tell them to be honest before God and to take everything to Him.  A Christian with a strong prayer life is a Christian that is experiencing a vital life of faith and that is something that we all need.

My people are destroyed (perish) for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)  We teach and instruct because if we don’t our students become easy prey for the evil one and are prone to all kinds of heartache and error.  We teach and instruct to keep our kids close to the Lord and to provide them with the tools they need to grow and flourish as men and women of faith.  It is our responsibility and we must take it seriously if we are to raise the next generation up to be strong for the Lord.

You Need Me and I Need You

discipleship, friendship, loveBelieve it or not, you are surrounded.  You are surrounded by ideas, by influences and by people.  And you are surrounded by spiritual forces working for your good and for your destruction.

There is a battle being fought for your heart and mind every single day that you live on this planet.  Some of this you are aware of and some of it is out of the realm of your perception.  The goal, however, remains the same: your allegiance.

We’ve been given the awesome gift and responsibility of free will.  Choosing Jesus and placing ourselves under His Lordship creates a great force and influence for good.  Human beings who humbly submit themselves to Him and repent from their sins can be used in mighty ways to the glory of God and to the great blessing of others.

The opposite is also true.  Choosing a life of selfishness, gratification and adherence to the god of this world creates painful consequences and ruined lives.  Sin is sweet for a season but the ultimate fruition is much worse than the brief pleasure that it brings.  Choosing such a life creates a force and influence for evil, always to the detriment of everyone it touches.

We human beings are easily influenced and will model what we have been taught and what we have seen in others.  And what are we seeing all around us right now?  Lives destroyed by adultery, poverty, drugs, greed and every sin under the sun.  Consider this:

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”  C.S. Lewis

With so much evil receiving so much attention and glorification in this world we have never needed each other more than we do right now.  I desperately need to see Christ in those around me and those around me need to see Christ in me.  We must make it a priority to lift each other up in every way that we can and to show God’s love every opportunity that we get.

“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galations 6:10 NASB)

The apostle Paul knew the importance of this and he exhorted the Galatians to take make the most of every single opportunity they were given to love each other.  In doing so they would act as visible examples of God’s love and grace to those who needed that encouragement the most; their brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is no different for us today.  We are hard pressed by our enemy and we need every ally that we can get in this fight for good.  By your decision to take a stand for what is right and live a life that visibly glorifies God, you may be the light that helps an ailing brother or sister find their way back home.  Your witness will be the blessing that God uses to strengthen and encourage those around you and to ultimately edify the body of Christ.

We must stand together.  We must pray together.  We must love each other as Christ first loved us and we must be lights first to each other and then unto the whole world.

What does “discipleship” really mean?

discipleship,christianity,faithI recently attended a seminar called “D21”, short for “Discipleship for the 21st Century”.  I really didn’t know what to expect but I decided it would be a good thing to go and learn all that I could.

There were 5 different classes offered.  After a brief introduction in the main sanctuary we all chose a class to attend for the evening based on what was most relevant to us.  I chose the “Simple Discipleship” course which was aimed at small group bible study and Sunday School teachers who were looking to learn more about discipleship.

Over the course of about 2 hours we discussed the state of discipleship in our modern churches (more on that in a minute) and then focused on a few very easy questions and methods that literally anyone can use to help someone else in their walk with Christ.  Stories were shared.  Ideas were verbalized.  Real love and real prayer for one another occurred in that classroom before it was all said and done and it was a great experience that I hope I never forget.

But let’s back up for a second.  What, in its purest form, is discipleship?  Simply put, it is one individual sharing of themselves with another individual for the cause of Christ.  We simply need to tell of God’s great mercy and provision in our own lives and then ask what God is doing in their life.  It doesn’t require programs.  It doesn’t require literature.  It doesn’t even require education or training.

Don’t believe me?  Go check out Mark 5: 1-20.  This is the passage of scripture our teacher for the evening opened up with and it gives a powerful example.  It tells the story of a demon possessed man who accosted Jesus almost as soon as he got out his boat in a region called the Gerasenes.  If you know the story then you know that the man was in a bad way and no one could restrain him and he spent his days by wailing and shouting and hurting himself with stones.  Jesus healed the man and set him free from his demonic possession and the man wanted to stay with Jesus and worship Him.

But Jesus didn’t let him.  Jesus said in verse 19 “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”  Jesus was asking him to become a disciple and a witness and to tell his story of redemption and freedom.  The really important part is this: How much discipleship training had this man had? (zero)  How many days had this man spent in church and Bible study?(zero)  How much time had passed since he became a believer before the Lord asked him to go? (not very much)

What this man had was a powerful encounter with Lord Jesus Christ that forever changed his life.

Right now, today, we have even more than that man had.  We have the living Holy Spirit who, if we allow Him, moves and works in our lives.  We also have our own individual stories of how the Lord saved us and called us out of darkness and we need to share them with each other as a way of strengthening and encouraging other believers.

And to show you an example of how God works, I recorded Monday’s video blog that Thursday morning.  At the close of that blog I talked about how we need to share what God is doing in our lives because it shows us a fuller picture of God’s great love and is so very encouraging.  Thursday evening I went to the discipleship seminar and what did we end up talking about?  We talked about sharpening each other spiritually by sharing what God was doing in our lives!

Do you think God is trying to tell me (and us) something?

Now ask yourself, how much of this type of simple discipleship is going on in your church.  How much of this type of simple discipleship are you personally involved in?  And, if the answer to either question is “not very much” or “not any” then where do you start?

What this type of simple discipleship requires is relationship, connection and trust.  It requires getting to know someone a little bit by making an effort to be friendly, helpful and concerned.  It requires us asking questions about another person’s well being and actually being interested in what they say.  It also requires that we open up about what’s going on in our lives.  And then, as we begin to forge connections with those around us we are given the opportunity to share Christ; with another believer for edification and with an unbeliever for salvation.

So, I have a challenge for you and for me.  The challenge is this: Ask someone how it’s going with them spiritually.  And then be ready to follow up if they don’t have an answer to that question or if their answer is not a good one.  Start with someone you already know well, like your spouse or a close friend and work from there.  Take small steps towards sharing the God that is alive in your life and and I guarantee that God will bless your effort.

So, are you ready to start practicing simple discipleship?