Wisdom Day 7 April 2016: R-Rated T-Shirt

Hey, guys, collecting T-shirts can be great. There is one to stay away from though if you value your life. It is inscribed “I slept with Loosey Lucy!”

Loosey Lucy will take you down. You think it will be fun going down with Loosey? Think again. You are not the first. You will not be the last. But like all, you will pay the price. Loosey’s soul is linked to all the others who came before you. Your soul becomes linked through hers to theirs. She will have many after you. And for every one, a little of the best of your soul gives way to a little bit of the worst of the collective soul of a growing throng of  partners. And you will have no control over the choice of your new soul mates, just as you had no say in the choice of the ones who were before you. But they will gain more and more control over you if you choose this path. So what’s the take away? Paul of Tarsus puts it plainly:

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.(Paul of Tarsus, 1 Corinthians 6:18, The Message, biblegateway.com)

And whether you believe in God or not, at least honor yourself. Honor your body, mind, and emotions. Don’t go with Loosey. As I’ve heard, “Sin takes you further than you mean to go, keeps you longer than you mean to stay, and costs you more than you mean to pay.” Ever had that experience? Or maybe you don’t believe in sin? If not, at least consider that STD’s are real, regardless of your beliefs.

There is hope though. There is a way out and a way back.

13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (Paul of Tarsus, 1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message, biblegateway.com)

And the way back? Admit you were wrong. Determine that you want to change direction. Realize you can’t do it by yourself. Ask for for help. And whom do you ask? I asked Jesus.

How to ask? Some people call it prayer. If you don’t believe in prayer, than just address your request to “Whom it may concern.” When I first got started with prayer, it was conditional: “If you are real, I want to know. I need help.”

Even stoics sometimes end up with problems their philosophy can’t solve. I did have to set aside some pride, but at that point my intense need to really be good was greater than my desire to appear good.

So happy hunting in your quest for good. Better and great are better and great, but good is not bad for starters. It surely beats bad. If, though, you happen to believe that good and bad are irrelevant or all the same, I can’t help you there, unless of course you ask.

Meanwhile here are some good resources on the path to good, better, and best:

Hardcover
Takeaways
Audio
Kindle
Slimline
Study
Paperback
Hardcover
Kindle
Audio

 

Of service

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 10, Verses 42-45, New International Version)

 

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (Peter’s First Letter, Chapter 4, Verse 10, New International Version)

September 1, 2013

Over the past few months, two situations have changed my prayer life. First, it was a suggestion about two months ago from my friend and prayer partner Benson Agbortogo that set the stage. He said that to attack the problems facing me I should begin praying for at least 7 people who had worse problems than I. The number 7 is, of course, one of those special numbers in the Bible. The number 7 also related to the fact that I had done some demographic research and calculations indicating some 700,000 men in the U.S. are facing major problems similar to mine.

So over the weeks, I began adding names to the group of those for whom I pray during my morning prayer walk. I now have 16 new names on my list.

Then just a couple of weeks ago during my prayer walk as I prayed for individuals as well as the 700,000 I don’t know, a sudden insight flashed across my mind. It felt like a ray of sunshine piercing gloom and fog: Pray for how I may be of service to these people. I normally prayed for blessings and the will of God in the lives of these folks and for favor with them. But I never thought to pray to be of service.

I felt sure that I would soon begin to see answers to this change in my prayers. I wasn’t sure how I would know or how it would happen or when, but I was sure. Today, I realized that just within the last two days I have begun to see answers to these prayers.

In the case of one family, I was able to help them in their housing search after a recent job change and relocation. In another case,I was able to share some very important information with one fellow facing some problems similar to mine.

It was just last night that I learned a very good friend had intervened in a major way to help a lady for whom I was praying. So now I have the opportunity to support this friend in serving this lady whose needs are so great.

I am looking forward with great anticipation to the answers yet to come. This is exciting.

 

Cities overthrown

11 By the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favor [because of them] the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. (Book of Proverbs, Chapter 11, Amplified Version)

This passage made me think of Cairo this morning. The city surely was exalted for a period as happy crowds rejoiced. Now, it seems that wicked mouths have plunged the city and the nation into chaos. I pray for Egypt, the one-time home of Jesus and Moses. I pray especially for the families there with small children as violence and want threaten the fabric of the society.

Likewise, I pray for the other cities rocked by violence in the recent weeks, months, and year. Istanbul and Ankara come to mind. So do Damascus and so many other cities in Syria. So do Baghdad and cities throughout Iraq. So do Kabul and communities throughout Afghanistan. Mali comes to mind.

Let us all join in prayer for those who are suffering in all those cities and nations and others across the world. Let us pray especially for the very young, the very old, the families, and the ill and wounded. Oh, God, help them. Oh, God, let us take their plight to heart. It is not just theirs. It is ours. There but for Your Grace, Oh God, go we and our cities and this nation. Let us humble ourselves and repent as did Daniel and Nehemiah among others who knew how to pray for their country. Teach us, Oh Lord,  how to pray for our country and for all others. Give us, Oh Lord, a heart for the poor and oppressed at home and abroad.

We in this blessed nation can be so calloused. Yes it is very sad that a dog is run over in the street. It is infinitely sadder when innocent children are gunned down in their schools or when runners are mowed down by shrapnel. But let us also remember that others suffer throughout the world horrors that we can barely comprehend. Let us face into our problems and theirs. Let us pray. Let us work. Let us sacrifice for those less blessed than we, next door and around the globe.

Execute

Imagine the situation of John Smith. He wants a raise. He makes an appointment to talk to his boss. In the meeting, he prefaces his request with some comments on his satisfaction with being part of a great team with a great mission. Then, he does not ask for a raise. Rather, John asks his boss to please let him know if he has any guidance on how John could improve his contributions to the team and the mission. He adds that he’s had a few ideas himself but would really appreciate insight from the boss’s perspective. Now, let us imagine that the boss immediately asks John to share a couple of his ideas on how he might improve his work. John gives the boss a list he has brought with him of the top three initiatives he had been contemplating. After a few minutes of discussion and clarification, the boss tells John he thinks items 1 and 3 on his list are very important. Then, the boss adds another item to the list, one he sees as most urgent from his perspective. The boss then thanks John for sharing his thoughts and encourages him to pursue the three important items they have prioritized together.

The following week at the staff meeting, the boss brings up the three initiatives he and John had discussed. He turns to John and says, “Hey, John, how about a quick update on how you’re doing with those initiatives?” John is sweating. He looks embarrassed. He confesses he has done nothing at all. Will John get the raise he was hoping for?

In our prayers when we get as far as John got in the meeting with his boss, it is important to implement. Here is what I mean. Several months ago in prayer I got some input on what I needed to do regarding some specific health concerns. I wrote the priorities down. I put them on my to do list. Then for several months I kept rescheduling the priorities. Now my pain is the price of my procrastination. Can you  benefit from my error?

When God talks, it’s essential to write down his directives. It’s great to put them on the to do list. But if you don’t schedule them and DO them, they will not just happen. They will not get done. You want a raise in income, health, relationships? Listen to The Boss and EXECUTE!

Some people believe that God is infinitely patient. Even if we don’t execute in a timely manner, can’t we expect grace and mercy? The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 1, Verses 20-33 (Amplified Version), seems to convey a very different message.

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the markets;

21 She cries at the head of the noisy intersections [in the chief gathering places]; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

22 How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge?

23 If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you.

24 Because I have called and you have refused [to answer], have stretched out my hand and no man has heeded it,

25 And you treated as nothing all my counsel and would accept none of my reproof,

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when the thing comes that shall cause you terror and panic—

27 When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

28 Then will they call upon me [Wisdom] but I will not answer; they will seek me early anddiligently but they will not find me.

29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord,

30 Would accept none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.

32 For the backsliding of the simple shall slay them, and the careless ease of [self-confident] fools shall destroy them.

33 But whoso hearkens to me [Wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil.

No win

4 Answer not a [self-confident] fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.

5 Answer a [self-confident] fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes andconceit.

6 He who sends a message by the hand of a [a]fool cuts off the feet [of satisfactory delivery] and drinks the damage.

7 Like the legs of a lame man which hang loose, so is a parable in the mouth of a fool.

8 Like he who binds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honor to a [self-confident] fool.

9 Like a thorn that goes [without being felt] into the hand of a drunken man, so is a proverb in the mouth of a [self-confident] fool.

10 [But] like an archer who wounds all, so is he who hires a fool or chance passers-by.

11 As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.

12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes and conceit? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him. (Book of Proverbs, Chapter 26, Verses 4-12, Amplified Version)

Many times have I read these verses. Initially I had some problems with the fact that Solomon would call anyone a fool. But life has brought me to get over my objections on the point.

The obvious contradiction between verses 4 and 5 often caught my attention. The take away became clear: No matter what you say to a fool, you lose.

Now it is clear that these nine verses, from 4 through 12, constitute a nicely crafted warning for anyone faced with dealing with a fool: You will lose!

If you think you are wise enough to deal with a fool and get away without harm, you are the greater fool. The dog will return to the vomit. The fool will return to the folly. You may try to teach a fool the wisdom of a proverb. The fool may mouth it but the wisdom will not sink in. You may try to honor a fool and build up the self esteem. That will come back and whack you in the head like a rock.

What’s the overall message? I guess it will depend on your personal situation. If you are contemplating marriage, though, remember fools can be handsome. They can be beautiful. They can be educated. They can be smart. They can be rich. They can be sweet at first taste, like the fast food that later leaves you toxic.

Fools do not go around with a sign saying “Beware, Fool on Board.” This begs the question: How the heck do we steer clear of them in the first place? Well, the answer that comes to my mind, is to recognize that each of us is a fool in his own way. That is why we must seek wisdom at all cost and continually. As soon as we think we are wise, we become fools and will dwell with fools.

So the take away for me, at least is a prayer: Oh Lord, overcome my foolishness daily with your context appropriate wisdom for the day. Amen.

How does this all strike you? Please let me know. You can post a comment or use the form below to send me a direct message.

 

Accounting diligence

Oh Lord, I procrastinate! Please attune me to your priorities, today and every day. Let the power of your Word guide me at every step. Not my will but thine be done. I especially need your help in getting caught up on accounting, tithing, budgeting, and prioritization of income generation activities. Make me a good steward of the resources you provide. Help me mend this leaky bucket. Enhance my Quicken skills! Please provide me a sheltered work space and time where I can focus and advance.

Mining Proverbs

For more success, better health, greater happiness, and a finer path to eternity, mine the Book of Proverbs. It is a gold mine of buried wisdom.

Here are some tips that help me:

  • Read a chapter a day. There’s a chapter for each day of the month. Works out  nicely.
  • Consider yourself a fool in search of wisdom. It’s safe to say we all play the fool from time to time. This attitude will guard you from arrogance.
  • Pray every promise that you wish to claim. The promises of success in Proverbs are not automatic. On the other hand, the warnings against failure are automatic.
  • Start each reading of a chapter with prayer. Pray for a humble and open heart and mind. Thank God for providing you another opportunity to enter into the very heart of his Wisdom. Thank him for your access to the Book of Proverbs.
  • Read from the Amplified Bible. This translation has revealed insights into the Proverbs I had never found before despite having read through the book many, many times in other translations. I have my friend Benson Agbortogo to thank for this insight.
  • Start your day with this reading.
  • Read through the whole chapter, aloud if possible. Pause only to jot down the verse numbers of any particular verses that catch your attention, and why. Then come back to these verses and reflect on them, pray about them, ask for deeper insight. Write down the thoughts that come. Do so on the computer if possible. Blog them if you can.

These are some things that help me. Please feel free to add a comment with tips that work for you.

 

Simple one

22 How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge?

23 If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1, Amplified Bible)

I count myself among the simple ones but I do not love it. I do not delight in scoffing. I love knowledge rather than hate it. Even so the knowledge I need often escapes me. So I do repent. I will heed reproof. I want a continual flow of the spirit of wisdom. I want to know her words. The alternative is bone chilling.

24 Because I have called and you have refused [to answer], have stretched out my hand and no man has heeded it,

25 And you treated as nothing all my counsel and would accept none of my reproof,

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when the thing comes that shall cause you terror and panic

27 When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

28 Then will they call upon me [Wisdom] but I will not answer; they will seek me early and diligently but they will not find me.

29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord,

30 Would accept none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.

32 For the backsliding of the simple shall slay them, and the careless ease of [self-confident] fools shall destroy them.

33 But whoso hearkens to me [Wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil. (Book of Proverbs, Chapter 1, Amplified Version)

Oh, Lord, please remind me to always give your Wisdom heads up attention and instant obedience.

Proverbs for Success

Read the book of Proverbs humbly and prayerfully. Let’s look at Proverbs 16: 32 as an example.

 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, he who rules his [own] spirit than he who takes a city.”

The arrogant and foolish way to think when reading this goes something like, “I am better than the mighty because I am slow to anger. I am better than a conqueror of cities because I keep my own spirit under control.” The wise and humble reading yields something like “I really need to guard against sudden anger like the other day when I really got miffed. I would like to have my spirit under control but plenty of times I don’t.”

The humble and wise approach leads to powerful prayer to claim the golden treasure Proverbs offers. In this case the prayer goes something like this. “Lord, thank you for this opportunity to improve my life. I ask you to lead me into victory over my anger and control over my spirit.”

If you try this out, please let me know how it works for you.