Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thinking About God

Richard Fairchild tells the following story in his book, "Not Far From the Kingdom of God":

In the days of the circuit riders a minister was out riding one afternoon and came upon a man out working in his field.

"Fine day, isn't it?" the minister called out.

"It's fine for you", the man replied, "All you have to do is ride around on that horse thinking about God all day long, while I have to sweat here in this field and then walk home afterward. I don't think it is right you should have things so easy while I have to work so hard."

"On the contrary", the minister answered, "thinking about God is one of the most difficult things you can do. And to prove it, I'll give you this horse if you can think about God and nothing else for one minute."

"You're on," said the man and immediately he sat down in silence. Thirty seconds later he looked up at the minister, and said, "Does that include the saddle?"

I would agree that thinking about God and nothing else is a very difficult thing to do. I would also add, though, that it is just as hard for ministers as it is anyone else!

The apostle Paul wrote, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2).

But our mind is filled nearly every minute of the day with things on this earth -- concerns about things that have happened, concerns about things that will (or might) happen, concerns about what we have (or don't have), concerns about how to get what we don't have, concerns about people that have done us wrong, concerns about what we want others to do for us.

And our mind is so crowded with the things of this world, that there's just not much room left for God. It's hard to think about God and God alone, for there is so much competing for our attention.

Allow me to give you this challenge -- think about God and nothing else for one minute. If you can achieve that goal, strive for five minutes. May thoughts of God increasingly fill your mind so that you can eventually say with the Psalmist all day long, "I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works." (Psalm 145:15)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Pursuit of Wisdom

There was once a small boy who banged a drum all day and loved every moment of it. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did. Various attempts were made to do something about the child.

One person told the boy that he would, if he continued to make so much noise, perforate his eardrums. This reasoning was too advanced for the child, who was neither a scientist nor a scholar.

A second person told him that drum beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only on special occasions. The third person offered the neighbors plugs for their ears; a fourth gave the boy a book; a fifth gave the neighbors books that described a method of controlling anger through biofeedback; a sixth person gave the boy meditation exercises to make him placid and docile. None of these attempts worked.

Eventually, a wise person came along with an effective motivation. He looked at the situation, handed the child a hammer and chisel, and asked, "I wonder what's inside the drum?"

Ah, the wisdom of that man! It reminds me of the wisdom demonstrated by King Solomon when two women came to him fighting over which of them was the true mother of a baby (I Kings 3:16-28). Solomon was, of course, known for his great wisdom.

Solomon wrote, "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her." (Prov. 3:13-15)

We need to understand, though, that knowledge and wisdom aren't the same thing. If you want to measure a person's knowledge, you give them a test. If they score 90 or above, they have a lot of knowledge. If they score below 50, there's not much knowledge there. But determining the measure of a person's wisdom is much more difficult. You have to look at how he lives and the decisions he makes.

James Draper has said, "Wisdom is the skill to live in a way that is pleasing to God. It is not simply information in our heads. It is information that we put to use -- where we live, where we work, and where we play."

We live in a world where everyone seeks knowledge. We value educaton. We read books. We watch news channels. But how many of us pursue wisdom to the same extent?

Be assured that wisdom is not something that you will stumble into by accident. It's a pursuit. It's a search. It requires an attitude that says, "I want to learn from God how to live, and I want to apply those principles to my life."

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

Friday, October 9, 2009

How to Give Advice

The wife was busy frying eggs, when her husband came home. He walked into the kitchen and immediately started yelling. "CAREFUL!!! CAREFUL! MORE OIL! TURN THEM! TURN THEM NOW! WE NEED MORE OIL! THEY ARE GOING TO STICK! CAREFUL! CAREFUL! TURN THEM! TURN THEM!!! HURRY UP! ARE YOU CRAZY! THE OIL IS GOING TO SPILL! USE MORE SALT! THE SALT!!"

The wife was very upset, "What is wrong with you? Why are you yelling like this? Do you think I don't know how to fry an egg?"

The husband calmly replied, "I just wanted you to know what it's like for me when I am driving the car and you're sitting next to me."

Without making specific judgments about wives giving advice to their husbands while driving (or about husbands giving advice to their wives while cooking!), let me simply say that we all need to be conscious of how we give advice to others. The author of the book of Proverbs has much to say on the subject. In fact, the words “tongue”, “mouth”, “lips” and “words” are mentioned in Proverbs almost 150 times!

Consider these thoughts:

Know all the facts before you give advice – “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Prov. 18:13)

Give advice in a calm manner – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov. 15:1)

Be careful about giving unsolicited advice – “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Prov. 10:19)

But when advice is needed, be prepared to give godly advice – “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” (Prov. 15:28)

Above all, give advice out of a sincere love for your friend – “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Prov. 27:5-6)

When you give advice, may it be "a word fitly spoken" (Prov. 25:11) because "a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" (Prov. 15:23)