What is Wisdom?

I’ve begun this journey working through the “wisdom books” of the Bible this year and I think one thing that needs to be answered right from the beginning is the question of, “what is wisdom?”

The book begins with a call to wisdom:

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
– Proverbs 1:2-6

Wisdom is clearly important to the writer of Proverbs and it is stressed that it should be important to the readers. Longman writes, “Wisdom is a rich concept and is not easily summarized.” He’s absolutely right, as you read across the book of Proverbs wisdom is personified, it is attributed to many different kinds of people as well as animals, wisdom seems to extend to as many subjects as one can find. One’s first implication might be that wisdom is intelligence, but mere intelligence doesn’t always merit wisdom. For the author of Proverbs, wisdom is knowledge applied and knowledge lived. One doesn’t need lots of intelligence to be wise. If it is the ant planning for winter, or the young man staying away from the promiscuous women, to be wise one needs to apply what one knows to make right decisions and right actions. Again, I find Longman helpful in defining wisdom:

…we will begin with the basic idea that wisdom is the skill of living. It is a practical knowledge that helps one know how to act and how to speak in different situations. Wisdom entails the ability to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves. Wisdom also includes the ability to interpret other people’s speech and writing in order to react correctly to what they are saying to us.

If Longman has a right understand of what the author of Proverbs is trying to teach his readers, we’d be wise to heed the wisdom of Proverbs (and Ecclesiastes and Job). Wisdom is for living, and I’m thankful God has revealed wisdom through the word written and the Word incarnate. In days to come I hope to expound a bit on some of the types of wisdom that are revealed in Proverbs.

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. – Proverbs 4:2-7



Wisdom For Living – Reading Proverbs

As I’ve begun this journey through reading the wisdom books I decided to take advantage of a book that was part of the Logos Free Book of the Month program. The book is “How To Read Proverbs” by Tremper Longman. I’m not very far into the book but I thought some words from the introduction were worth sharing. I believe it was Johnny Hunt who called the Epistle of James “Shoe leather Christianity,” and if that is true of James in the New Testament it is certainly true of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Proverbs is an incredibly practical and “straight shooting” book of the Bible. It is a book full of wisdom that is to be practiced for living.

Longman begins his work on Proverbs:

Life isn’t easy. We may enjoy temporary rest from the battle, but no one is completely immune to the complexities of circumstances and relationships. These problems range from minor annoyances such as getting called to jury duty at an inconvenient moment, to major disasters such as a serious illness or a significant rupture in an intimate relationship. Sometimes we wake up in the morning and see the day as a series of obstacles to be avoided. We would love to be able to navigate life in a way that minimized the problems.

The Bible never suggests that the life of a follower of God will be devoid of problems. If anything, it says exactly the opposite. Life has its joys, but, according to 2 Corinthians 1:5 (“You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ”), even the joys are in the context of suffering. Unalloyed joy will come only in heaven. On this earth, we will have problems.

How do we handle life’s problems? How do we deal with difficult people or uncomfortable situations? What do we say and how do we act? How do we express our emotions? The Bible has a word to describe the person who navigates life well; that word is “wise.” A wise person lives life with boldness in spite of the inevitable difficulties.

We need wisdom in this life to handle its various situations. I’m thankful that the Lord has graciously given us these books we call “wisdom books.” Our God is a gracious God who hasn’t left us in the dark on matters of life now or eternal. If we lack wisdom, let us read and let us ask.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8 ESV

A Year of Wisdom – 2017 in the Wisdom Books

At the start of the new year many folks plan and make resolutions. For many Christians the new year is a time to start over with their Bible reading. For some it becomes and honest effort to actually read through the Bible when they stopped the year before. For others they’ll read through the pages of scripture in their entirety for another time. I’ve always encouraged Bible reading through the Bible. In the past I’ve read through the Bible cover to cover and it is certainly a very worthy endeavor. However, I always feel rushed when I attempt to do a reading plan. It’s difficult to not want to slow down and stick with a book or particular passage. This year I’ve seen several folks talk about how they intend to spend some specific time studying particular books rather than trying to read through the entire Bible in the year with a reading plan. I’ve decided to spend sometime in the wisdom books: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These are all books that I’ve read before, but I’ve not spent much time studying.

Their worth in study is reflected in the opening words of Proverbs:

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

– Proverbs 1:2-6 ESV

There’s great wisdom to be found in the pages of all of Scripture and ultimately the wisdom of God is found in Christ Jesus as the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 ESV

As such I believe in many ways that Proverbs isn’t just a collection of ancient Jewish sayings that might find their way into fortune cookies, rather it is a book about Christ. As are the books of Ecclesiastes and the book of Job. These books are books that deal with seemingly every area of life. They speak of joy and sorrow, life and death, pain and pleasure. I begin my journey in Proverbs and intend (Lord willing) to blog a bit in my journey through these books. I pray I’m a little wiser at the end and able to share a little bit of the wisdom found with all of you. Soli Deo Gloria.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7 ESV

P.S. I’ll also be sharing on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AYearOfWisdom if you care to join in on social media.

Be Patient Until the Lord Comes: Pondering Charlotte

The world we live in is chaotic. The world is broken. The world is fallen. It isn’t just humanity that is broken and fallen, the Apostle Paul tells us that all of creation is groaning as it awaits for the return of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:20-22). As an American and a North Carolinian this week has show how broken and fallen our world is. The city of Charlotte has been in turmoil this week. I’m not going to get political. I’m not going to put myself in the role of judge, jury, defense, or prosecutor in this post. I, however, am never hesitant to get theological. Men and women created in the image of God have lost their lives and have been harmed for reasons considered just and unjust. I’m not sure what the right response to all of the events that have taken place should be. I know many have made knee jerk reactions in the media and individuals on social media. There is one thing that I do know that I can do and that is to place my hope and trust in the Lord.

I was reading the book of James this morning and began thinking about the implications of James 5 on the current situation. James was writing to Christians who were enduring suffering and persecution, and I readily accept and realize that what is going on in Charlotte does not directly have an impact on me. I’ve not lost any loved ones or members of my community to the violence taking place. However, my heart groans to see the conflict in my country, especially when it hits so close to home. James wrote to these suffering believers:

 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.-  James 5:7–11 ESV

He tells them to be patient as they wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus. There is much work to be done in seeking reconciliation, peace, and justice with the seemingly constant shootings and responses in our country. I hope and pray by God’s grace we can begin to see some of that in our nation, but ultimately I know there will always be conflict because men are always going to be fallen. So, while I can share unhelpful memes on Facebook and make my pronouncements about what has happened or not happened, I think it would be of much more benefit to be a person of prayer, a pursuer of one trying to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18), and to be a person of patience waiting on the one who can bring peace. I have confidence that he can bring peace even now in the midst of chaos and hopelessness and I long with confidence that there is coming a day when he will bring peace eternal. He is our hope and he is our peace. May Charlotte, Tulsa, and the rest of our nation find their hope and peace in him, his name is Jesus and he is coming again.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. –  Revelation 21:1–7 ESV

On Mission in Montana: Day 5

Rain. They’ve been needing rain in this area of Montana as they’ve been in a drought and today we arose to rain. I’m not sure when the rain started but it rained from the time I woke up until just about time for our Bible Camp to start. That last part of the sentence is a testimony to God’s lovingkindness. The food team had it fairly easy this morning as it was cereal and oatmeal for breakfast.

I spent sometime reading John 13 this morning and reflecting on how our service in Montana is just a simple way of seeking to serve like Jesus. There isn’t immediate fruit and not everyone received or even understands the work of ministry, but that didn’t stop Jesus from washing the feet of Judas and Peter. Nor should a lack of immediate results stop th work of the disciples of Jesus in the Great Commission today. 

The time for ministry work didn’t start until later in the afternoon, so our team from Oak Grove borrowed a vehicle and did a little sight seeing at the local WalMart and then upto see Flathead Lake. Montana is beautiful. I’m not sure I can emphasize that enough. We also spent sometime at the People’s Museum in Pablo. It was really helpful in understanding more about the history and culture of the people that make up the Flathead Confederation. 

Ministry this evening consisted of cooking lots of chicken burritos and working at the Bible Camp. After serving supper Kevin and Tracie worked with the kids at the archery station again. I was given a new task this evening. My role was that of grandfather. This meant spending sometimes talking about the story we had heard and really another opportunity to share the gospel. Each age group spent a little time in the tent. I’m praying those who said they had received the gospel truly had and that those who haven’t will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

We ask that you will keep praying for our teams and the people we are ministering to. 

soli deo gloria 

On Mission in Montana: Day 4

I’m not sure you can go on a Mission trip without having biscuits and gravy. This morning was no exception as my recommendation to make them came to fruition. Kevin is our designated biscuit maker at all breakfast functions at Oak Grove and he did a dandy job making biscuits for our team this morning. Tracie has become our designated coffee maker as there is no room for weak coffee in Montana. I do confess it has been different spending more time serving in a support role rather than an “on the field” role, but today proved to be a day filled with both. 

Part of our duties for the day on the food team was to head into Missoula to Costco. We all divided up and before it was all said and done we had two flat carts and two regular carts full of supplies for the team and our Bible camp in St. Ignatius. Tonight was the first night we cooked for the Bible Camp and we kept things simple with hot dogs and chips. Following serving dinner we all found ourselves working with the kids at the camp our team is hosting along with a local pastor. 

Kevin and Tracie headed up the archery station. The kids really seemed to enjoy taking a few shots and some had never shot a bow before. I ended up helping one of the interns with a group of kids and floating around wherever needed. I can honestly say I’ve never been in a Tipi before to do ministry, but today we sang and heard Bible stories inside of one. 

The theme and story for the night was the Prodigal Son. The crafts, snack, skit, and stories all reflected the story. It was not only a joy to see the kids hear the story it also was good to be reminded of God’s grace and forgiveness myself. 

Even now as we head back the work for the day isn’t all done, but knowing that Jesus is being proclaimed and honored helps keep the tiredness and frustrations in perspective. 

We ask that you would pray for us in the next coming days as we continue to minster to the kids and their families at Bible Camp. 

soli deo gloria

On Mission in Montana: Day 3

Coffee, Pancakes, Short-handled shoves, and Bison are the things of our third day in Montana. Our Oak Grove team is on the cook team and is cooking and making sure lunches are packed for our team. Today that will step up to cooking for food the team an an estimated 120 kids at the day camp.

Following breakfast we made our way to St. Ignatius to help with preparations for the kids camp that begins this evening. The major portion of the preparation yesterday was putting up a rather large tent. This allowed us to work closely with some of the team from Tennessee and Montana. The tent is held by tension on all sides by a large number of stakes and ropes. In the process of driving this stakes into the ground the handle of the sledge hammer managed to break. Thankfully after some ingenuity and a little whittling we managed to have a short handled hammer that got the job done. 

After we put up the tent we went back to the final day of the Pow Wow in Arlee and observed quite a bit of the celebration including an honoring of all the veterans who had served from the Tribes. The sense of honor and respect the Tribes have is quite admirable. 

After cooking supper for the teams we were given quite a treat. Pastor Allen of the River Church in Hamilton took us to the National Bison Range. The Mission Mountains are nothing short of breathtaking and being able to see Bison, Antelope, Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, and Elk was just icing on the proverbial cake of being able to ride through the Range. There’s no doubt in my mind why the native people readily acknowledge a creator as we observe the natural beauty of this area. 

Today we are headed to Missoula to purchase food and supplies for the camp this week. We ask that you pray that we can reach the children we anticipate and their families with the gospel. Every bit of progress made during the camp and benefit the churches in the area in their ongoing work as missionaries in a very lost region. 

soli deo gloria