Wisdom for another year: “The Safety of a Great Friendship,” #8 of 10.

You know that you have found a great friend when you can share your deepest fears and happiest moments with. You also know that you have found a true friend when that person becomes a source of hope for you to live for Christ. For a Christian, your greatest friend will be someone who would love you enough to speak into your life if you were straying from Christ. For a Christian, your greatest friend will not be afraid of your rejection if they admonished you to repent of anger, or to turn away from selfish habits that are hurting others. Wisdom says,

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” – (Proverbs 27:6).

A true friend will point you to the safety of Christ;

an enemy will point you to something else.

When I was 18 [Fall of 1982], single, and somewhat afraid and lonely, God used a song to comfort and remind me how close and near Christ is to me – that he would be my best friend all my life. I was a new student at a bible college, in another state – far away from home and familiar faces. In those days, I was venturing out of my southern gospel roots for Christian Music of a different sound. I didn’t know who James Taylor was and I didn’t know that “You’ve Got A Friend” was not a “Christian” song. I heard the song [written in 1971 by Carole King], can’t remember where I was  – but I thought that this was a Christian song because as much as I knew of scripture in those days, that’s what Jesus would say to me if I was lonely. Jesus would say,

“When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothin’, nothin’ is goin’ right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come runnin’ to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

Listen to this song, and imagine that you have never heard it before. You’re lonely and troubled, and you think that you have turned your radio dial to a Christian station and you hear this . . .

The reason why this song became such a smash hit is because everyone wants and needs a friend who will come running when you need them. This world can be a very lonely and dark place at times. There is something wrong and we all know it – but we all don’t know Jesus. This deep desire to have a friend is because we were made to have fellowship and communion with God. I know of no friend who can fully keep a promise like, “anytime you need me for any reason – I’ll be there,” other than Jesus. Wise king Solomon also said this,

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” –  (Proverbs 18:24). 

In the scope of what Scripture was aiming at, Jesus Christ would become that friend who will and can do what no family member can: forgive your sins and love you forever, for it was King Jesus who said that he is here and is greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42).

I have been blessed to have several great friendships in this life: my parents and extended family members, people along the way of life in education and my church family, and especially my wife – but no has been a friend like Jesus. You will only have a few great friendships in your entire life. Your best friendships in your life should be someone who loves Jesus more than you. That way, if you begin to lose your way, your friends will risk losing you to point you back to Christ – your best friend. The safety of a great friendship in this life is priceless!

Wisdom for another Year: “Protect yourself from becoming a Scoffer,” #7 of 10

A scoffer is someone who will not listen to the wisdom of others. To the scoffer, all advice sounds silly. To the scoffer, he is wise in his own eyes. To the scoffer, anyone who disagrees with him is wrong. To the scoffer, if anyone does agree with him, it’s because you have seen the light. To the scoffer, all personal failures and slips are mere oversights of judgement that was due to a lack of information; scoffers always see themselves as doing right with whatever information is given them. To the scoffer, it’s always someone else’s fault. To the scoffer, special inside-knowledge is his privilege, not yours.

“Sadly, some people just don’t listen. They are too self-assured. Reasonable discourse leaves them unsatisfied, because they are unsatisfiable. They do not feel that you understand them until you agree with them. The only acceptable outcome is their outcome, which they will pursue relentlessly. The Bible calls this kind of person a scoffer (Proverbs 9:7-813:115:1221:24). He (or she) might be a highly impressive person outwardly. Very able. A strong personality. Convincing. But even in little ways (“. . . winks with his eyes”), this person sows discord in their church — small provocations with big impact.”

Here is godly wisdom,

“Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse . . . Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it” – Proverbs 9:7-12

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a real diagnosis in the Psychiatric world.

“Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing  pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration,  and usually a complete lack of empathy  toward others.  People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or  to anyone they meet . . . People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician.”

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following  symptoms:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

To date, there is no real diagnosis for what causes NPD, nor is there a real successful treatment, though professional counseling does help some. The only proven treatment to break the arrogance is for God to completely break down the person’s life to the point that he or she has nothing to boast about at all – like Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel, where God took everything away and made him live like a crazy bird in the forest (Daniel 4:28-37).

So let us heed this advice from the Lord:

“You guard your heart from becoming a scoffer by comparing yourself to me. In My Presence, what is there that you have done or possess or accomplished, that you can boast as if you have gained or achieved without me? What is it that you have that you did not get from me?”

This is where wisdom begins and scoffing ends – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

What The Abortion-minded Do Not Want

The Abortion Industry is not shy about finding a way to discover genetic abnormalities before birth so that they can have a legal right to abort your baby against your will – it’s too costly upon the welfare system to take care of handicapped humans.

But watch and listen to this clip and ask yourself: What else in the world would generate such compassion, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness, devotion, admiration, perseverance, love, faith, hope, joy, peace, and self-control – in a young boy?

This is what the Abortion Industry is destroying: Not only a human, but our humanity!

Wisdom for another Year: “Give it away and you will not lack,” #6 of 10.

Godly wisdom says,

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.” (Proverbs 11:24-26)

A few things have I noticed about this advice from him who gave his very best:

1. Stingy people live a tight-fisted, claustrophobic life. Even the very, very wealthy ones. A wealthy person is not necessarily an “enriched” person. Many wealthy people are not lovely people.

2. Of the few godly and wealthy people that I have known, they are great givers. They love to water the lives of others. They do not hold back their resources to enrich the lives of others. Consequently, they are both lovely people to be around and there seems to be a blessing upon their lives. They could live a more opulent life, as the world defines high-class living, but they do not. Yet, their lives speak about and point the way to something that seems to be more pleasurable to them than what this world has to offer.

3. People who make giving to God through the local church a priority, often have less or no debt at all (other than the house, or a modest car), no matter their level of income. The reason is not so much that God has made them wealthy for giving, but because their main affection for God causes the affections for material stuff to shrivel. Things of this earth do not have the same satisfying appeal that they once did and so they do not keep swiping the charge card for things they don’t need. (this has been documented in a variety of polls and surveys)

4. The Mathematics of Heaven cannot be altered here on earth. Giving freely does cause one to become all the richer for it, and it all started in heaven when God the Father sent his Son. As a result, Our Father in heaven is all the richer for it because the Son will purchase a bride, and the Father will dance and rejoice over the joy of his Son’s marriage to his lovely wife. If here on earth we think that we can break away from the Equation of Heaven, it is foolish! If you want a great harvest of corn come mid-August, then early June, put a couple handfuls of corn seed into the ground. You see . . . you are all the richer for giving away what was in your hand. (10 – 10 = 100)!!!!!!!!!

5. Observe some of the happiest people around you. They may not have much yet they are content. Why is that? Or if they do have much of this worlds goods, why are they lovely people? Odds are, they do not trust in their wealth for their value or their happiness. They are other-centered, seeking to enrich the lives of others. Take note and make a change for yourself.

Finally, if these things seem to be a consistent pattern of life here on earth, generally speaking, then you should consider that the reason it is so, is because there really is a Father in heaven who freely gave everything that he had so that his own joy would be fulfilled in what he gave away:

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all [that is, all who have been predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, vs. 29], how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

Wisdom for another Year: “The Value of a Good Reputation,” #5 of 10.

The following are a few comments from sports writers over the last few days.

“Richard Sherman, who was defending 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree near the end of the tight contest, batted a ball to a teammate. That move ensured the Seahawks a trip to the Super Bowl. “I’m the best cornerback in the game,” he screamed during the post-game sideline interview. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like (the 49ers Michael) Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me.”

“Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews asked, “Who was talking about you?” “Crabtree,” Sherman angrily responded. “Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick.”
                                                                                                                                                In his CNN interview on the following day, Sherman said it takes certain characteristics to become a successful football player: “It takes intensity. It takes focus.” And, he said, “it takes anger.” He said he was in that emotional state after the play Sunday. “If you catch me in the moment on the field when I am still in that zone, when I’m still as competitive as I can be and I’m trying to be in the place where I have to be to do everything I can to be successful … and help my team win, then it’s not going to come out as articulate, as smart, as charismatic — because on the field I’m not all those things,” he said.

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity, the saying goes. And to hear Sherman’s agent tell it, the controversy has been good for him. Sherman’s Twitter follower count has exploded in recent days. And the agent says his phone is ringing off the hook.”

“Corporate America knows who Richard Sherman is,” said Jamie Fritz, who manages Sherman’s marketing deals. “I talked to brand managers this week and they are fired up. They love it. They say this is real. This is true. We finally have a player who is willing to speak his mind.” “He deserves all the marketing money he gets,” Hill told CNN’s Don Lemon. “My concern though is when they use this image, will they see him as an extraordinary athlete who has a knack for talking trash or frame him as another angry, violent athlete?” Fritz admits there are two Shermans: The one who stormed off the field, and the one he wants America to see.

But here are some eternal words of wisdom:

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble”       Proverbs 21:23

And:

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold”  Proverbs 22:1

I want to keep this close to my heart and mind:

I can ruin a good reputation in 2 minutes that took 10 years to build. That’s how quickly the tongue can self-destroy a good name. And no matter the wealth and fame one may acquire for trash-talking, no one wants their name to be associated with bile. But that’s the consequence if bile is already in the heart. It’s just a matter of time before the heart will open its mouth, and out of the orifice through shining teeth comes a putrid and noxious sound. What Sherman needs is what everyone needs, including me: an inner cleansing that replaces a love for self-boasting with a love for boasting in Christ. This is what is truly valuable and attractive in the end.

 

Wisdom for Another Year: “Don’t try to fix every quarrel” – #4 of 10

Having now provided housing for two married daughters in my own home, and pastoring a church family with every personality trait and disorder described in The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and living with a wife that often tells me I’m crazy, hear ye this: everyone is a little whacked in the head! And since we’re better in seeing the “faulty logic” in others’ quarreling, the temptation then is to get sucked into fixing every feud and falling-out that is within earshot.

But Wisdom says, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” – Proverbs 26:17

So here is my advice:

1. Before you enter into the fray to help a friend, think about this picture:

OUCH!!

2. Is this a person who has repeatedly blown off serious, friendly, kind advice as a habit and refuses to “hear”? If so, then stay out of it and remember more wise advice: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” – Proverbs 26:4.

3. Wait until it is over if you can, about a day or two. To enter into the heat of a quarrel and give counsel is rarely ever fruitful. Emotions are too out-of-balance and quarrels rarely ever stay on subject.

4. As a principle, don’t get involved if you weren’t invited. To offer counsel where there was no invitation to speak usually means that they do not want to hear you.

5. Accept the fact that many people do not want help, even though they need it. Their pride is in the way and it may take a really bad fall to open their ears.

6. If you’re the kind of person who keeps getting bit, ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to “help” everyone fix their problems?” Often the reason is that it feeds some kind of self-assurance/worth, or control issue, or the pursuit of a “perfect” world obsession.

7. Finally, if the quarreling is too close to your doorstep and is harming others near you, and this person just doesn’t get it, though many have tried, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” – Proverbs 27:5. This may mean that when trying to offer advice becomes meddling, then a stern and short rebuke of truth is the medicine. Sometimes, the best thing to say is, “Your selfishness is ugly and sinful. And until you see your contribution to this mess you are going to continue to hurt yourself and everyone around you.” Full stop. Walk away. Don’t respond to the slander. Stay silent. Move on. Pray for them. Be open and ready if and when they want to talk.