One of the tigers at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

Why it’s important for God to be the boss

Sometimes in life, you meet foolish people. And I’m not talking about silly people or goofy people or even immature people. In many cases, people who are silly or goofy or immature are just young or young at heart or don’t have the life experience you do. But that doesn’t make them fools.

The Bible has a very specific definition of a fool. A fool is basically a person who knows what’s right and chooses to do what’s wrong anyway.  A fool is someone who refuses to learn from his/her bad choices.  A fool is someone who won’t listen, not to you, not to authority, not to God.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a fool. The opposite of a foolish person is a wise person, so the next question we need to ask ourselves is what does it mean to be wise?

One of the tigers at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

One of the tigers at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

Today’s verse is Psalm 111:10.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

This is one of those verses Sunday School teachers make kids memorize, but I’m not sure if people really take the time to explain it or understand it. As a child, I didn’t really get what it meant to be afraid of God.

God has always been a huge part of my life, and I’ve never been afraid of Him. But my mom helped me understand the concept of what fearing God looks like.

I’m not afraid of my boss. Not really. She’s intimidating in her own way, but only because she has authority in my life. So because I recognize her as my authority, I do what she asks me to do. And that’s the same way with God.

God is our authority. God has the right to tell us what to do. But it’s up to us to accept that authority or reject it. But what this verse means is that if you accept God’s authority, you’re on your way to becoming wise. So the the opposite must be true too. If you reject God’s authority, you’re on the fast track to foolishness.

One of the first steps to not being foolish is having an attitude that is teachable.

Have you met teachable people? They’re awesome to be around. They’re willing to learn. They don’t insist on getting their own way. They quietly allow you to explain yourself, your point of view. They don’t act like they already know it all. That’s the kind of person I want to be. That’s the kind of student, friend, daughter, sister I want to be.

How does your attitude check out? When God tells you to do something, do you automatically reject it? And I’m not talking weird, creepy voices in your head. I mean out of the Bible. That’s the way God communicates with us the majority of the time.

If the Bible says to live a certain way, do you do it? If you don’t do it, why not? Is it because it’s uncomfortable? Is it because it’s unpopular? Is it because you just don’t want to?

It’s okay. Everyone’s been there. I’ve been there in the last few weeks. Where God has obviously told me to do something, and I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to.

That doesn’t mean I’m not His child. That doesn’t mean He’ll throw me away. But it does mean that He’ll go out of His way to show me that living that way isn’t in my best interests.

Respecting God’s authority in your life is the very foundation of wisdom, because when you accept who God is to you and who you are to Him, it changes your perspective on everything. Or it should.

Do you respect God’s authority? Do you recognize that He is God and you aren’t? And if you do, do you accept what that means? That His way is best? Just because you believe one doesn’t mean you act on the other.

It’s difficult to do. It’s hard to live the way God wants sometimes, especially when you want to do things your own way. But live long enough and you’ll learn that God really does know what He’s doing. And your life will be so much easier if you just stop being stubborn and do what He says.

Maybe people say being foolish is fun, but it isn’t really. When you’re a fool, you plateau. There’s only so much foolishness a person can achieve. But wisdom? Wisdom opens doors. Wisdom stretches out farther than your eyes can see. Wisdom is a great adventure that never gets boring, never grows old, and never ends.

So which one do you want?

 

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Spires of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

The danger in being full of your own advice

 

I’m stubborn, in case you didn’t know that about me. I’m obstinate to the point of the ridiculous. I like doing things my own way, and I hate–I hate, hate, hate–asking for help. You always hear the stereotypes about men hating to ask for directions? I’m worse. I’ll waste an hour in the grocery store trying to find something before I’ll even consider asking someone to tell me where to find it.

I like going my own way, and I don’t particularly want other people to tell me different. So what am I supposed to do with the verse God led me to today?

Spires of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Spires of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Today’s verse is James 3:17.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

I get the peace loving and the gentle part. And the mercy and good deeds and fairness and sincerity, sure. But willing to yield to others? Seriously? How is that God’s wisdom?

I’m being sarcastic. If it’s in the Bible, I’m going to live by it, but that doesn’t mean I always go without a fight. I’m quite Scottish, after all.

But let’s just be gut level honest here. How often are you willing to yield to other people? How frequently do you submit to your authorities? Or maybe not even your authorities. How frequently do you submit to your friends? And I’m not talking about yielding to your friends to go do stupid stuff. That’s not wisdom, and that’s obvious.

I checked in the Amplified version and the phrase is uses is “willing to yield to reason.” So this verse isn’t saying that you have to give in to every person who comes along and surrender your will to the next fellow who claims to know everything. Absolutely not.

But if you have people in your life who love God and follow Christ and try to live by His Word, yielding to them isn’t a bad idea. Why? Because you don’t know everything.

This is the part I struggle with. I’m supposed to know it all. I’m supposed to be the smart, independent one who doesn’t need help, and yielding to someone else’s opinions automatically makes me weak (in my mind). It means I don’t know everything. It means I need help. It means I’m flawed.

Sound like pride to you?

Pride is the enemy of wisdom. Pride tells you that you can do it yourself. Pride tells you that you know better. Wisdom is the quiet voice at the back of your head whispering that taking someone else’s advice isn’t such a bad idea.

If you’ve got people in your life who are wise according to the Bible, listen to them. More than just listen, consider doing what they tell you. Granted the verse doesn’t say you must do what other people tell you; it says be willing to yield.

This all stems from your heart attitude. If you walk through life thinking that you have all the answers and you don’t need anyone’s help, you’re going to make a lot of foolish mistakes. But God has strategically placed people in your path who can teach you what you need to know when you need to know it. But if you’re so full of your own advice, you won’t have room for theirs.

Choose wisdom. Listen to reasonable advice. Be willing to take it. And watch how God transforms your life.

Delusion, indolence, and the American Way

I don’t want to go to work today. So, I am going to stay home and watch DVDs of Batman: The Animated Series. And I’m going to believe that my boss won’t care if I don’t show up today. After all, she’s just another person working at the company, and she doesn’t have any real authority over me. Boss is just a title, and it doesn’t mean anything. And it’s not like they can fire me. Right?

What would you think if I said something like that? And what would you think if I said something like this:

  • “My seatbelt rubs my neck raw and it’s more trouble than it’s worth, so I don’t wear it anymore. People are just exaggerating about how it can save your life in a wreck.”

Or what about this:

  • “All the stuff people say about smoking cigarettes is so overrated. People just make a big deal out of it because they can. Maybe it’ll increase my chances for cancer, but they won’t kill me. And it’s my choice to smoke or not and it makes me feel better, so I’ll smoke if I want to.”

So . . . are you paying attention yet? If I were to say any of those things, I think people would believe I’ve finally had that nervous breakdown my brain has been threatening. But these statements are fairly common in our culture, don’t you think? I don’t know about you but I hear things like this all the time.

I don’t care who you are. If you think smoking won’t hurt you, you’re an idiot. I’m sorry to be so brutal . . . . well, no, I take it back. I did a post a little while ago about saying you’re sorry when you really aren’t . . . . so, I won’t apologize. I’m sorry if you get your feelings hurt, but I need to be honest here and I’ll do my best to speak the truth in love.

When you smoke, you’re inhaling chemicals into your lungs and you’re holding them there. That just doesn’t sound healthy to me. People die of smoke inhalation in fires all the time, and we still have this concept that smoking is okay?

The interesting thing about smoking, though, is that people who smoke oftentimes know the risks involved and they just don’t care. I don’t know if they think they’re like Superman — that the consequences of smoking don’t apply to them? Or maybe they need the drugs in the cigarettes more than they care about living. I don’t know.

And what about wearing your seatbelt? I’d say it’s pretty obvious that seatbelts save lives. I’m not a paramedic, but common sense suggests that seatbelt prevent people from getting hurt worse in an accident that could claim their lives. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt when I had my wreck. I probably would have been splattered all over the pavement.

Again, if straightforward communication about this offends you, don’t take it personally. I’m just trying to get people to think.

And what about your boss and your job? I don’t know about you, but if I suddenly decided that I didn’t feel like going to work and decided to stay home (especially without notifying anyone), I’d be in deep trouble. And my boss wouldn’t care that I’ve had a horrible week. I have responsibilities, and I can’t just drop everything and do what I want to do. They hired me for a reason. And they absolutely can fire me if they want to. Telling myself anything different is moronic.

And that’s the point I’m getting to this morning.

Any thinking person can take these three examples and see immediately what the right thing to do is. Any person who is thinking can see the truth here.

Smoking will kill you. Not wearing your seatbelt is inviting danger. Shirking your responsibilities at work will get you fired. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself to rationalize your actions in these situations. This is the truth.

Someone once told me that a statement becomes truth when you believe it.

That’s a load of balogna. (It’s actually a load of something else, but I won’t say that here.)

Truth by its very nature is exclusive, and it doesn’t matter how much you deny it, if something is true, it’s true whether you believe it or not. And you deciding that you don’t want to believe it is like a child having a temper tantrum because they want to believe a red balloon is blue.

This is today’s verse:

Psalm 14:1

1 Only fools say in their hearts,
      “There is no God.”
   They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
      not one of them does good!

I know people who say that there is no God. Most of the time, they’re like people who say the things listed above. The know the truth. But accepting the truth means they have to be accountable to Someone who knows more than they do. So it’s easier to deny the truth and make up some other story to believe.

The Bible says those people are fools.

The sky is red. The grass is purple. Drinking doesn’t hurt you. Having sex before marriage is a good way to know if you’re compatible with someone else. A baby is just a wad of tissue until it’s fully born. The terrorists on September 11 had every right to attack the U.S. because they were doing what was right for them.

Evidence of God’s existence is everywhere. People who say they don’t believe in Him are lying to themselves because they want to live in a way that is contrary to what God has declared is right. It’s the same as knowing that smoking will kill you and doing it anyway. It’s the same as driving around without wearing a seatbelt. It’s the same as not going to work when you know your boss will be angry.

But it is your choice. Absolutely. But Newton was right in more ways than one. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You push something, and it will push back at you. Every choice you make has consequences. And you might not experience those consequences until you’re a grandmother or a grandfather. But they will come.

You can lie to yourself all you want, but it doesn’t change what’s true.