Friday, January 13, 2012

Stupid is as Stupid Does...

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid. 


a : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner
b : lacking intelligence or reason
c : marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting 

When did stupid become a bad word?  I mean, come on?!  There are a lot of really vulgar words out there.  I hear them all the time.  I'll admit it, I have said one or two.  But my regular vocabulary does not include those words.  But stupid seems to be new to the list of unacceptable language.  I actually remember a period of time, somewhere around 1999, that I began to realize stupid was a word that I was going to have to remove from my everyday vocabulary.  And I remember being baffled a little by that.  But stupid isn't slang.  It isn't a cuss word.  It is a very descriptive purposeful word.  So I began to get a little miffed that I had to relegate the use of that word to quiet conversations with my husband for fear that some kid was gonna say, "OOOHH! You said a baaad word!"  Believe it or not, I actually had a very long debate with a friend in the company of my incredulous family over the acceptability of said word.  And when I say very long debate, I mean VERY long, PAINFULLY long.  Yeah, you don't want to debate with me, cause I don't stop! 

Now don't get me wrong, I realize this word has been grossly misused.  Schoolyard bullies and abusive adults have damaged others by their cowardly name calling.  It is NEVER okay to insult others with any descriptive adjectives. But that is, in fact, what this word is, a descriptive adjective.  And as with any adjective, it can be hurtful and misused.  But do we still call it a bad word when it's in the Bible?  If you can't tell, this is a wee-little soapbox of mine.  When I was studying this morning and came across this verse, I have to admit, I felt a little swell of pride.  I didn't go looking for a version of the Bible that termed this in just such a way, it just so happens that the brilliant scholars that translated the ESV (version that I use) agree with me :)  

Okay, enough of that.  In all seriousness.  Nobody wants to be thought of as stupid.  So why is it that we so quickly reject sound counsel when it disagrees with our sensibilities?  Why do we puff up whenever we receive correction?  It's because we wanna be right.  Nobody wants to be right more than me, I can guarantee it.  But I would rather know His Words than be a know-it-all.  So I have to accept that, quite often, I am wrong and need correcting.

Throughout the Scriptures, the author warns about the consequences of resisting or rejecting reproof.  Reproof is defined as moral correction, that is, correction of character, decision-making, judgment or values. It isn't easy to have someone correct us.  But the Bible says that it is necessary for life and knowledge and growth.  It takes discipline and correction to grow in maturity and wisdom.  And yet, we fight it tooth and nail.  We think we know it all and have arrived.  We think we can't be taught.  And dangerously at times, we defend our actions by saying, "God told me to...." or "I heard a Word from the Lord."  To that I say, if it's not written in His Word and wise, Godly counsel is telling you that you are making a mistake that needs correcting, you should probably realize that what you heard was your own voice talking and not that of the Lord.  It's easy to pin things on the Holy Spirit just to justify our stubborn efforts.  But the Bible warns us about this.  Fourteen times in particular we see this specific use of the word "reproof" in the Book of Proverbs, and each time, the writer gives an unflattering, blistering description of the outcome when one does not accept such correction or showers of blessings to those that listen. Simple, foolish, evil, scoffer, the brink of utter ruin, shame, and stupid or praised, upright, way of life, blessed, loved, and wise?  Which list of descriptions do you want said of you?

Remember what Mama always says...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hey Alma...Check Your Battery!

Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold, 
for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. 

As a mom with three boys, I have been trying to learn to tune-out.  I am not trying to be a tuned-out mother, but you have to learn to tune some things out for your own sanity and so that they will learn to work things out on their own.  But the fact is, I have yet to perfect the tuning-out that my own mother was so, incredibly good at.  You know if you have, Mom, MOM!!!  My kids, however, do not approve of my tune-out venture. If I am distracted or ignore them even a little when they are trying to get my attention, they are relentless.  In fact, my sweet little Sebastian has even come over to me, patted me repeatedly on the arm and said, "M-OM!  DO YOU HEAR ME???  I was CALLING you!"  Maybe I'm getting better at it than I think...and maybe my Middle Son is gonna lose a hand if he keeps that up! No te metas conmigo!

Ever feel like you've gotten a little TOO good at tuning-out?  Ever have one of those moments when you know that God isn't just gently calling your name, but patting you repeatedly on the forehead to get your attention?  You know...those times when that still, small voice is just too still and small for your distracted and ignoring ears and it takes some serious stomping and shouting to wake you up?

This has never happened to me...I'm just askin'! (Thanks Mark)  

Well, the truth is, this has happened to me more times than I care to admit.  Quite often it happens when I stray from the basics.  Lately I have found myself fumbling through my quality time with God.  With school, and a new born, and the kids, and my marriage and so on, it's easy to get distracted and marginalize my prayer time.  Or I will thumb through the familiar pages of Scripture without really taking the time to digest the Words therein.  I know that the more I do that, the more my ears grow weak to His words.  Why is it that I allow myself to go through the motions without really listening?  A weak, lackluster spiritual life just makes me weak and lackluster in every other area of life.  And yet I do it anyway!

But, there is too much that needs me to be strong in every way to let myself dwell in this pattern.  What I need is a wise approach to getting back into the meat of the Word.  What I need is a hearing aid..with a STRONG battery! So, I go back to the basics of an old fashioned quiet time.  A quite time in my teens consisted of a time of prayer and meditation and a focused time in a devotional book by Oswald Chambers called My Utmost for His Highest or using some reading plan.  One of my favorite plans for going straight to the Scriptures is The Proverbs Plan.  Yes, I admit it, I am a Proverbs junkie!  But it is, after all, the Book of Wisdom.  Did you know there are 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs?  What makes this great is that by reading one chapter a day, you can read through the book in a month, thus, The Proverbs Plan!  In case we've all forgotten, a wise approach to reading the Bible is not holding it in your hands, letting it open, and reading where you land!  A wise approach is diving into God's Word and reaching for every morsel you can get.  I love Proverbs because it seems as though it doesn't matter how many hundreds of times I read it, it speaks to me in a new way.  Remember that wisdom is more than's the maturity to know how to apply that knowledge.  And as I grow and mature, the Words of Proverbs have taken on new meanings. 

You know how I said that God sometimes has to speak a little louder to get my attention?  Well, I included the above Proverb for that very reason.  I have been wrestling with my own selfish desires...letting my priorities and my self sit squarely on top of my desire for Godliness and glorifying Him.  This morning I opened to Proverbs 8 (as it is the 8th of January) and here were His Words.  Take a second and read them again.  Funny thing is that my nickname of sorts is Jewels.  Not Jules, the way most "Julie"s would spell it but Jewels because my dear friend Nesha always said, "I like to spell it this way 'cause you're like a jewel!" (It's way better in her thick Texan accent!)  So here are God's words to me telling me that, in no uncertain terms, Wisdom is better than ME!  Yeah, I hear ya, Lord....LOUD AND CLEAR!  

The thing is, there are always going to be distractions and things pressing for our priorities, but sometimes we need to practice tuning-out those things and turning up our hearing aid.  Prayer and studying His words are the way to be completely tuned-in to Him. Our growth, our maturity in the Lord, and our desire to glorify God have got to come first.  We have to want wisdom more.  More than silver. More than gold or anything else.  Yes, even more than ourselves.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Heed the Call

The Call of Wisdom

Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Lately my heart has been broken.  On more than one occasion.  This condition has nothing to do with my relationship with my husband.  It has come from seeing Christians struggle with the consequences of their choices.  My heart aches every time I shed a tear with a friend whose life is falling apart at the seams, and the common theme is, "I just wish I knew what to do!"  The infamous statement which, if brought to its conclusion, would hold all the answers to happiness and fulfillment.  I have to admit, I cringe a little when I hear a sister in Christ utter those words.  Not because I have no compassion for her situation, but because I have heard those words spoken more to gain validation for her poor decision making than sincere desire to walk in Godly knowledge. "O, sad me!  Look at this situation I am in!  It is hopeless!  I have tried everything, and I just wish I knew what to do! I have tried everything....feel for me!"  I say this all the time, but it takes one to know one, and I have definitely been one!  I have been on the other side of that line of thinking, so I recognize the struggle all too well.  And although I, too, have lead myself down far too many destructive paths and cried out for direction, all is not lost.  There is, in fact, a very real way of knowing exactly what to do; each time, every time, in every situation. 

What I had to recognize, however, is that the path of walking in Godly knowledge isn't something I can just run to in times of chaos and expect to find conclusive answers that solve my problems.  I had to make the decision to get out of my simple way of thinking and run headlong into wisdom.  Wisdom doesn't happen overnight; it isn't just getting knowledge.  Wisdom is gaining knowledge and understanding and the maturity to know how to apply it.  And the only real Source for knowledge and understanding is the Word of God.  One of the first chapters of scripture that I memorized was I Corinthians 13.  Verse eleven says, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."  That is maturity.  That is acquisition of knowledge and understanding.  That is the path to wisdom.  Put those childish ways behind you once and for all!

The problem is that our culture doesn't make this easy, even for Christians.  Our culture wants to spoon-feed babies.  Our culture wants to feed our selfish, what-makes-me-happy attitudes until we are fat and unhappy and surviving on anti-depressants.  Our culture wants to draw us as far away from wisdom and truth as possible by distorting the very foundation of God's Word.  Our culture has dictated a reinterpretation of the very core of who we were designed to be to the point that instead of maturing into Christian adulthood, we have lead ourselves down paths of spiritual immaturity and folly (more on that in a later post).  We have embraced our simplicity. We have rejected our foundational truths. We have rejected Wisdom.  And then we have cried aloud, "I wish I knew what to do," and felt frustrated when His words have seemed like riddles.

The way to "know what to do" is to seek Him.  It sounds so easy, but it isn't just a matter of saying, "I'm just trustin' the Lord."  It is seeking Him.  Pursuing Him.  Running headlong into the Word and finding out the Truth of Scripture.  It starts with knowing who you are in Christ.  Once you know who you are then you can begin to know what He wants you to do.  And not just during the difficult situations...because those will still come...but every day.  Seeking truth and applying it to your life is what wisdom is all about. That is how we mature and leave our folly behind.  That is how we step off of the path that leads to heartbreak and destruction and onto a new path that leads to abundant life.

This blog is about that abundant life.  This blog is about seeking truth and knowing who you are in Christ.  This blog is about journeying together on the path towards spiritual maturity.  And about seeking wisdom when she cries aloud.  This blog is about remembering that there is a Guide when we don't know what to do.  God wants us to be wise. Wisdom is calling.  In 2012, I am committing to reject simplicity and go deeper into His Word and into His heart.  I am committing to be useful.  I am committing to be so filled with His love that it pours out of me like a salve for the brokenhearted.  I am committing to be a wise girl so that I will know when and where to turn and so that He can pour His Spirit out to me and make His Words known to me.  Wanna join me?!  Heed the Call!