Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wisdom Bible-Style

Wisdom? The use of knowledge that can only come from experience.  Or, a heavenly gift to see beyond what's obvious and come up with a perfect solution to any problem. Right? Well, the Old Testament uses a word that reaches far beyond that. Lois Tverberg wrote a book with Bruce Okkema entitled Listening To The Language of the Bible, which holds eye-opening lessons.

The word used in the Old Testament is chakam.  The Hebrew definition is 'wise' which includes intelligent, skillful, artful, experienced, clever, cunning, prudent, wise-hearted man in it's application. A further look into the lexical definitions in the back of my bible shows it can refer to the skillfulness of artisans or diplomats or shrewd men. (Exodus 35:10; 1 Kings 5:7; 2 Samuel 14:2)

Lois Tverberg wrote that this word for wisdom works two ways. It applies to those who choose the right way to approach situations, and also to the ability to do a job well. Wisdom is practical not just something we get from heaven. Hmmm.

Listen to this from Lois Tverberg's book:
"As Westerners, we tend to believe that God is only involved in our 'spiritual' activities, such as Bible study or prayer. We imagine that the rest of our tasks are 'secular' and not God's concern. But here we learn that biblically it is considered 'wisdom' to do our jobs well, no matter what they are: using a photocopier, programming a computer, running a lawn mower, or even doing custodial work."
Lois also wrote,
"God is practical and down-to-earth. He cares about out credit card debt, about whether our house is a chronic mess, or about how much we watch television. His desire is that we have wisdom in all things in order to live the life he gave us to the very best."
Now I see why it's so important to God when I follow his directions to return to the path I just crossed and pick up a piece of trash on the ground. It's showing wisdom in the care of his planet.

God cares what I do and how I do it...this I've always matter what it is. I just never realized that it involved wisdom in it's practical, skillful, wise-hearted sense.  I can show wisdom in my actions, not just in answers to heavy questions posed to me.  And, not just in choosing the better path in life.

In many ways this is freeing.Yet, in other ways this puts more pressure on me to honor Jesus in all things, not just in my Bible reading or church attendance or prayer time. But then, I think, that's what being a christian is all about, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Making Room For Mom

In the process of making room for mom I am having to - get this - throw things away. Things I don't need anymore. I mean I haven't set eyes on some items in 10 years. So, I find no matter how it hurts I have to pitch it.

Some of these things have meaning behind them...they were important at the time. How and when did they lose meaning? It hurt, somehow, to toss them.

There was one treasure I came upon that will not be thrown dad's poetry.

How strange things work out. The first poem in the bundle hit home and here it is:

Among My Treasures

As I sit here among my treasures
Sports trophies, photo albums, certificates,
I realize ... nobody cares but me

My house with all its memories,
Tragedies, joys, and pleasures,
Nobody cares but me

Someday, someone will sit and look
At each precious treasure in turn,
Giving it a second, or maybe two,
Then consign it to a cardboard box
My life to be carried away ...
Nobody cares but me, but me,
Nobody cares but me

We all have our days of depression,
I think I've just had one too
As I sit here among my treasures,
I realize ... they are for me, not for you
Each brings a special memory
A sign of accomplishment, success, and joy,
Proof that God has blessed my life
So, go gather treasures of your own.

Ed Cloyd, 5 Sept 1996

So as we settle mom in, I will follow Dad's advice and continue to gather treasures that come my way. Things that will remind me that Jesus cares enough to bring rays of sunshine and blessings to my life, even if it's only for a short period of time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who Do I Relate To? Peter? (part 2)

Have you ever felt led by God to walk away from something you knew and felt secure with? To walk toward the slightly familiar, slightly unknown? Peter did this.

Though Peter is described as a plain man in Acts, by Luke the physician, he actually came from a family whose fishing business was successful enough they hired workers and were partnered with James and John. When he walked away from the fishing business he walked away from security, but he walked toward the work Jesus asked him to do. (John 21)

In fact, the often quoted verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13 NKJV) reminds me of Peter.

Before the Spirit of God got a hold of him I notice his attitude takes on an "if he can do it then so can I" bent. Jesus walked on water, he wanted to do it also. (Matthew 14) Jesus said he was going to suffer, Peter offered to suffer until death with him.(Matthew 26) Of course, things being what they were Peter was shown he wasn't Jesus. He couldn't do the things only Jesus could successfully do.

Even still he was looked at as the leader. He is always mentioned first in the list of apostles. Was the one who inquired what kind of reward the apostles would receive. (Matthew 19) Asked for clarification of the parable in Matthew 15. Gave the confession of faith for the group in John 6 and Matthew 16.

And, have you noticed how often he shows a spastic energy causing him to speak and act before thinking: he was going to build tents on top of a mountain with no tools around (Matthew 17); he jumped off a boat twice, once to walk on the water, and once to reach Jesus before the others (never mind they were still a distance away from the shoreline so he had to swim the whole way) (Matthew 14, John 21); he wanted Jesus to wash his whole body not just his feet (John 13); he drew a sword and cut off a servant's ear as his form of attack on those arresting Jesus (John 18).

However, once the Spirit of God got a hold of him, he became the invincible man we know him to be. He spoke to a large multi-nation crowd right after the tongues of fire settled on him.(Acts 2) He was arrested for teaching and healing people.(Acts 4,5,12) He exposed the unrighteous pretending to be righteous.(Acts 5) He was thought of as a pillar of the church.(Galatians 2:9) He wrote two books to encourage and instruct believers. (1,2 Peter)

And, in the end, he stood strong when he was brought before the council in the sight of everyone. Not only did he admit he knew Jesus, he told the council he would not stop talking about him.

What a change! He did do all things through Christ. This makes me realize that if he can do it then so can we.

There are so many verses that talk about Peter. He is mentioned throughout the gospels, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Peter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Who Do I Relate To? Peter?

It's hard to believe but we are on our last apostle. Where has the time gone?

Peter is such a colorful fellow. He wasn't thundering-explosive like James and John but he holds a picture all his own.

This week I thought we could review what most of us know about Peter. He made a huge mistake...a great blunder...showed his weakness to all mankind. You can't miss it because it's in all the gospels.

What is it? What's he remembered for? His denial of knowing Jesus.

I suppose most people read the verses and think there's no way they would ever do that. But, unfortunate as it was, this has made Peter more real to me. I can relate to this weakness far more than I care to admit.

Perhaps you can relate to it this way. Have you ever changed your wording of an event or revelation based on who is standing in the room? Have you ever kept your mouth closed because everyone else in the room holds a strong opinion that stands against your beliefs? And, you felt you couldn't defend your beliefs? Have you ever failed to correct someone who's standing right in front of you, who curses using the name of God? The list could go on, but you get the picture. I think it's easy to drop the ball, just like Peter.

Just when he thought he had the guts to face all opposition he hit a wall in the self-confidence realm. Backing down and sniffling away. Regretting his failure.

Oh there were things that set him up for the failure, such as announcing he would 'never' abandon Jesus. Hello, can you say 'bring it on?' That opened him him up for an attack for sure.

Then he allowed the 'high' from the early passover meal to cloud his judgement and not recognize the seriousness on the face of his teacher; the indication that the huge change Jesus had warned them about was close to its realization.

And worst of all, he stopped in the courtyard, right in the middle of the people angry at Jesus. Of course, he was going to face opposition. Why didn't he follow John all the way in, to where he was standing? You know, to be by a fellow believer.

It is so much easier to stand strong if you have the support of another believer in the room, or if you realize something is about to happen so your brain is on alert, or if you think before speaking any definitive on yourself.

In the end, on the beach, walking with Jesus by his side, Peter discovered Jesus did forgive him. With each confession of his love for Jesus, Jesus asked more from Peter, giving him more responsibility in the care of the flock. (John 21)

Good to know: this same forgiveness is there for all of us, just like Peter.