The wise get wiser, even if it means re-learning

God teaches me random things on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re lessons I already knew and had just forgotten. Other times it’s a new application of a Bible concept that I’d never thought of before. But every day, God reveals something to me that I need to know. But sometimes I don’t like talking about it because–well–what I learn often seems like common sense or like something I shouldn’t have to be taught.

Some of the most powerful lessons God has taught me are things that can be difficult for a “mature” Christ-follower to admit struggling with. Like forgiveness. Humility. Honesty. Those are all things a long-time Christ-follower should have down. No review necessary to take a pop quiz, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

animals-birds-owl-faunaToday’s verse is Proverbs 9:9.

Instruct the wise,
    and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
    and they will learn even more.

We should never stop learning. The moment we think we know it all, we’ll be in trouble because God will have to remind us how little we actually know.

The hallmark of a truly wise person is that he or she continues to learn. They seek instruction and grow wiser than they were before. That’s not an accident. Wisdom is a lifestyle, and once you have wisdom, you constantly desire to have more of it. Not so you can brag about how wise you are, but so that you can know and identify the things that really matter in life.

I’ve been writing for years. It’s just a part of my life and a part of who I am. And sometimes I write something that God uses to touch another person. Most of the time, it’s one of these random blog posts, but most recently it was a scene out of a novel I wrote years ago. Somehow the context of this scene was relevant to a conversation about following God. It blows my mind how God could use a scene from a novel to make a difference in someone else’s life.

But see, I know that. I know God does that. He does it every day. And still I forget it. I type my fingers off in my office, hammering away at my keyboard at all hours of the day and night, and in the back of my brain, my silly old insecure sin nature tells me that it’s all a waste of time. That I gave up a profitable career to chase a dream that will end in disappointment. That nothing I write will ever help anyone meet Jesus.

It takes a story like the one I heard yesterday to remind me that God can use anyone and anything to bless and encourage someone else. He can even use something I’ve written that I never expected anyone else to read. Wisdom spoken by a friend that I needed to hear. It was a lesson I already knew, but I needed to learn it again.

I want to be that wise person who keeps getting wiser every day, and I don’t want to be afraid to talk about what I’ve learned, even if it’s something I should have already known. Who knows? Maybe being honest about how often I have to re-learn what God has taught me will encourage someone else.

Has God had to teach you something you already knew again? Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Embrace it. If you’re wise, you’ll just get wiser.

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The tricky little bitty sign in my very strange hotel room, Las Vegas, NV

Hotel fridges and the tricks they play

My hotel room has waist-high black grass painted on the wallpaper and floor-to-ceiling mirrors at all corners of the room. This is one of the strangest hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and I’ll tell you what–these folks are sneaky.

As is normal for hotels of this caliber, there’s a fridge, and it’s full of alcohol, along with some juices and other things. I went ahead and picked up a bottle of water and a bottle of pop for dinner last night, intending to drink half for dinner and half when I woke up…. because there’s no coffee pot in the room (this place is weird). So I pulled out a bottle of juice and a can of Red Bull and set them on the counter, replacing them with my own drinks.

Didn’t even think about it. A little while later, I spotted a sign that said the fridge is full of sensors. And anything you move will be charged to your room. Of course, the sign is tiny and not on the fridge at all.

So, I replaced the drinks and drank my own stuff last night, and I’m going to talk to the desk people today and see if they will make an exception for a Kansas farm kid who missed their teeny tiny sign.

What really irks me, though, is that I’m pretty sure the girl who checked me in told me that taking anything out of the fridge will be charged to my room. I just wasn’t really paying attention.

The sign that says not to move stuff (if the word "sexy" bothers you, please ignore it; it's a label for marketing; this is Las Vegas, and you can't get away from it)

The sign that says not to move stuff (if the word “sexy” bothers you, please ignore it; it’s a label for marketing; this is Las Vegas, and you can’t get away from it)

Today’s verse is Proverbs 9:9.

Instruct the wise,
    and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
    and they will learn even more.

If you’ve ever tried to teach anyone anything, you know that wise people learn easily and foolish people don’t learn at all. That’s a principal you’ll see over and over again in the Bible.

When God is trying to teach us something, people who are wise will listen, and people who aren’t will just do their own thing. What’s nice about being wise and being foolish, though, is that you can choose which one you’ll be.

Yes, you have a choice whether to be wise or foolish. It’s not just something that happens. You aren’t born one way or the other. You are wise or foolish based on what choices you make in your life.

The verse right after this one says: Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. So if you want to be wise, you need to start fearing the Lord. Not the kind of fear that keeps you cowering under your covers at night. That’s not what this fear means.

Fearing the Lord is reverence. It’s recognizing His authority and His sovereignty, which is basically His right to do whatever He wants with the universe. You understand, don’t you, that God doesn’t have to explain Himself to us? He made us. He made everything. And if He wanted to start over, He’d be within His rights (even as we understand them) to wipe everything out and begin again. We do it with our own creations all the time.

We need to recognize that God can do that if He wants to. But He doesn’t. And He even chooses to tell us about His plan and teach us how to live. It’s up to us whether to accept it or not.

If you fear God, you will learn how to be wise, and if you are wise, you will grow wiser every day. If you don’t, you’ll be foolish, and you’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over again. And that’s how you end up with a sky-high hotel room bill, because you move the things in your fridge after the girl at the desk told you not to.

So don’t be foolish. God has showed us how to be wise, and it’s so much better (and much less expensive) to be wise.

Beautiful jar of canned pickles at the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Show me the pickles!

I hate not having the answers, but even more than that, I hate revealing to other people that I don’t know the answers. I won’t even ask for directions in the grocery store. Even if I spend an extra five minutes looking for that jar of pickles, I’d rather find it myself than demonstrate to someone that I don’t know where to find it. Isn’t that silly?

It’s probably my pride, which is something I struggle with constantly. I’m the clever one, the smart one, the one who always has everything under control, and I can’t find the pickles at the grocery store? Really? How embarrassing is that?

Now other clever, brilliant people I know can’t find the pickles either, but they don’t have a problem asking anyway. And if you think about it, which is a sign of actual intelligence? Asking where the pickles are? Or making a show wandering up and down the grocery store looking for it, where everyone can see you?

Beautiful jar of canned pickles at the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Beautiful jar of canned pickles at the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 9:9.

Instruct the wise,
    and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
    and they will learn even more.

Last night, I got to have coffee with a wonderful new friend. It was a great time of encouragement, and I got the opportunity to ask questions about a very large, as-of-yet-unrevealed adventure I’m going to be embarking on this year. The thing about this adventure/project? I’ve never done anything like it before. I’ve never even come close to doing anything like this before, and for the first time ever I am completely at a loss of how to proceed. Oh yeah, I know the basics. I know the simple outline of how to do it, but the details? The possible pitfalls? The way to manage success or failure? It’s all new.

Not knowing what to do and being honest about it is new for me. Not to say that I always know what I’m doing. That’s rarely the case. But I never ever openly admit that I don’t know what the next step is.

But this is important. This is something I feel like God is calling me to do, and I want to do it right. I want to make wise choices, so I want to talk to people who have previous experience, even if that means I have to reveal that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

Throughout our conversation last night, I kept thinking about this verse. This is the kind of person I want to be, which is ironic because this is very much the message series that my pastor is speaking on right now. Wisdom. Getting more wisdom. Being wise. Being teachable. I want to be teachable. I want to be the kind of person who can learn new things, but to be that kind of person I have to admit (to myself and others) that I need instruction.

There’s a funny scene in The Forbidden Kingdom, a funny Kung-Fu movie with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, where the little teenage tag along is asking questions about Kung-Fu. Jackie Chan’s character has agreed to train him, but this crazy kid is so full of things he thinks he knows that he’s not learning anything. I think it’s relevant to this topic today.

If you want to be wise, truly wise, you have to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Trying to come off like you know everything just demonstrates how little you actually know. Wise people want to be wiser. Wise people never stop learning, so that means they have to be willing to admit they need help.

That’s what I’m working on. Being open about how little I actually know, asking for help when I need it, and not being afraid to admit that I don’t know the answers.

But I probably still won’t ask for directions at the grocery store, because–well–spending a little extra time walking around is probably good for me anyway.