In the Pursuit of Knowledge, the Destination Should Be God!

Ecclesiastes1_14

In the Pursuit of Knowledge, the Destination Should Be God! 

I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied. I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. I said to myself, “Look, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped wisdom and knowledge.” I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind. For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases. Eccl 1:12-18 (HCSB)

God created us all uniquely. As a unique species of God’s creation, we have an insatiable desire to understand life and to pursue all knowledge. However, what we realize in the pursuit of all knowledge is this: The more we grasp, the deeper we dive into the mysteries of life, the more we come to the realization how little we actually know. The frustration is like pursuing the bottom of an abyss or the origin of a black hole in space — at the end of our never-ending pursuits resides all knowledge of God and eternity.

Knowledge is not finite, but infinite.There will always be more to learn, more to understand. The more we know, the more we discover that needs to be understood. That was the frustration that The Teacher in Ecclesiastes expereinced as he pursued God’s gift of wisdom. That gift became a curse. We can gain wisdom yet never attain wisdom. Wisdom is the proper understanding and application of the knowledge we attain during our lifetime. The pursuit of knowledge comes with the responsibility of wisely using it. Why? God holds us accountable to how we apply the knowledge He has endowed us to understand. In that accountability comes the frustration and sorrow of gaining what we have sought after.

I believe as God’s unique creation we should be open-minded to receiving more knowledge everyday and pray for God’s guidance in its proper application. Yet, the pursuit of wisdom alone is not what life should be all about. Living the abundant life that God promised is learning to be content in our present life circumstances; though remaining open to new knowledge and opportunities that God orchestrates into our life.

We should welcome the change new knowledge creates in our life and be willing to grow daily in our understanding of God and His Creation. However, that pursuit should not comprise the totality of our desires. One of the greatest realities we should learn to accept in life, as the Teacher of this passage says: What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. 

There are undeniably some things that no matter how wise we become, we cannot change or create what is God’s to control or create. God alone is the author of creation. We are limited to acknowledging what God reveals and to comprehending what we cannot change or create. There just are some things about life that God has chosen to make crooked because He had purpose in doing so, and there are some things God chose to limit because He decided that had an eternal purpose as well. Ours is not to try and understand the mind of the Creator, but to accept the limits of our own mind.

How deep is your understanding about the things of God? To what depths to you desire to know God? Are you in pursuit of God’s will, ways, and wisdom? That is all God asks of us. God will do the rest.

Ponder the wonder of God and His creation, but do not stop living within God’s plan and purpose for you, which includes treating others as we wish to be treated. Why? They are challenged the same as us in this lifetime we share.

Coach

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Words of Wisdom: Why Follow the Folly of the Fool’s Advice? Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

Scarecrow directionsWords of Wisdom: Why Follow the Folly of the Fool’s Advice? Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is folly, but the end of his speaking is evil madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. No one knows what will happen, and who can tell anyone what will happen after him? The struggles of fools weary them, for they don’t know how to go to the city. Eccl 10:12-15 (HCSB)

Confusion and chaos are the destiny of those who listen and follow a fool onto the path of his folly. Yet, so many people are susceptible to the tickling and tantalizing words the fool seems most adept employing. Most people struggle with selfishness which leads to shortcuts, ways that appear easier to get ahead in life. Even when they know better, they believe the lies and folly of the fool who paints a rosy picture of a better life.

Are the fool and his folly to blame? Or, should we brand ourselves as the fool because we have chosen to pursue the advice of the fool?

So how can we filter what we believe: the utterances of the fool versus the counsel that comes from the wise?

The Bible clearly puts it this way: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. Psalm 111:10 (HCSB) This fear infers “utmost reverence and respect” for the priority and perfection of the Lord’s guidance to mankind. It begins by committing daily to seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Within the Bible resides ample testimony to God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Our daily task is to dig these morsels of truth and apply them to our lives.

When we invest in hearing, reading, and meditating upon what God’s will, ways, and wisdom, then our ears and eyes become more sensitive to the folly of fools and their tainted advice. No matter how tantalizing their initial message sounds, the fool keeps talking to tickle ears and sway the curious to his alternative advice.

When you trust the Lord, you find his wisdom remains with you and he guides you away from the folly of the fool. However, the fool’s folly never entails the fool’s investment in his own plans. He gladly tells you how invaluable his way is to go, and challenges you to go his way, but the fool never goes with you. He is too busy swaying the ears and minds of others.

The fool’s ways are lonely ways. It is far too easy to discover that instead of a shortcut his misleading way gets us lost. Even our sacred manmade GPS system has its faults and shortcomings. and we can certainly get misdirected when we blindly rely upon our Google map or another navigation device to choose our way. Only God wisdom is absolutely reliable. He resides within us to prevent us from going down the wrong ways. We only get lost when we stop listening and trusting in the Lord’s direction.

What are you relying upon to guide through the days that lie ahead in your life? God offers his counsel to us, but he also allows us to make the ultimate choice.

Coach

Understanding the Psalms, Proverbs and Parables – The Source of Godly Wisdom

Book-of-Proverbs-Revised

 

Understanding the Psalms, Proverbs, and Parables – The Source of Godly Wisdom

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: For learning what wisdom and discipline are; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man— a wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance— for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise, and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:1-7 HCSB

Reading the psalms, proverbs, and parables found throughout the Bible is highly recommended for a daily study of God’s Word. So many common sense truths reside in them. Yet, beyond what is deemed as common sense, one discovers the spiritual connection within each of us that instinctively links truth with living rightly before God. However, how many of us take the time to truly explore the depth and breadth of wisdom found amongst the Bible’s proverbs and parables. Even Jesus referred frequently to the psalms and proverbs to justify His teachings. His parables are a legendary part of his tradition of speaking truths in riddles and proverbial truths. So what is the value of psalms, proverbs, and parables?

for receiving wise instruction [in] righteousness, justice, and integrity – In other words: they help us to become more receptive to gaining godly wisdom within the Bible, which guides us in living our daily lives in ways that please God. They offer evidence of what is the truth and how to apply it in our relationships with others, in a manner pleasing God. In essence, it helps us to live our lives according to the perfect, pleasing and good will of God.

for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced – The words of wisdom found in the psalms, proverbs, and parables help us to walk more confidently through life as a child of God. In circumstances when we lack the practical experience to deal rightly with life issues, the Bible provides the godly advice we need to choose wisely the right course of action. Shrewdness or astuteness comes with experience unless a wise mentor steps forward offering advice. However, in the absence of a mentor, the psalms, proverbs, and parables offer the shrewd counsel to help you to handle daily situations and relationships with sound judgment.

for teaching knowledge and discretion to a young man – A teacher’s goal with any student is to become obsolete, ergo every worthy teacher desires to become obsolete because their pupil has learned how to learn for themselves, thus eliminating the need of the teacher – the foremost goal of education or knowledge one can achieve. Once one has increased in knowledge, discretion defines the proper use of knowledge to navigate life’s situations and relationships.

a wise man will listen and increase his learning – This is the test that one has grown in his or her spiritual maturity: the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and the understanding. A spiritually wise man or woman acknowledges their responsibility to pass-on understanding and knowledge with others. Yet, wisdom also reveals to a godly person, no matter how much we have learned, we will never know it all! In fact, the more we learn, the more we realize there is more to understand and learn! Only God is omniscient, or all-knowing! Wisdom is but a journey, not a destination.

and, a discerning man will obtain guidance – A wise person never attempts to walk through life alone. He or she realizes more than anyone that God provides signposts and mentors for us to seek out and acknowledge for our own good. Only an ignorant person, or a fool, walks through life eyes-closed and stumbles and falls at every twist and turn throughout life’s journey. A wise man is a discerning man, choosing his or her way without haste but with confidence.

It is for this reason the passage concludes with this statement of truth: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. This “fear” is not fright or horror but in the sense of reverence and honor. It is the fear that we would miss out on knowing and understanding how much the Lord loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. It is the fear of never knowing the truth and not receiving the blessings that come from living truthfully before the Lord, seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom.

How about you? Have you made the investment in seeking to learn by investing time each day in the psalms, proverbs, and parables, seeking a fresh “aha” moment of truth and understanding? Remember, the first step of wisdom is the fear of never knowing God and His love.

Coach

He (Jesus) would speak the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand. And He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples. Mark 4:33-34 (HCSB)

What did the Lord want His disciples to learn by teaching them in parables? The closer you are to the Lord, the clearer the parables and proverbs become to you.

NOTE: For more information about how I transformed psalms, proverbs, and parables into entertaining fictional stories filled with truths about life’s challenges and choices please visit TMBrownAuthor.com.

The Pursuit of Wisdom

The Pursuit of Wisdom
The pursuit of Wisdom is a most worthy and desirable journey. These facts remain true about the pursuit of it.
 
There will always be those wiser than ourselves. Conversely, this should become true too, others will see us as wise to them.
 
Wisdom is the application of goodness, righteousness, and justice, ergo godliness, in all choices of life.
 
Wisdom can never be fully reached in one’s lifetime, but its pursuit remains a worthy destination. The further one travels acquiring and understanding it, one’s relationship with God grows.
 
Wisdom defines one’s spiritual maturity.
 
Sadly, each of us recognizes wisdom residing in others long before we recognize it in ourselves.
 
I believe before one can truly attain wisdom one must grasp the dichotomies in the possible consequences for choices we make in life: Goodness against evil. Righteousness opposed to wickedness. Justice in contrast to injustice.
 
Yes, my younger friends, the pursuit of wisdom is a most worthy goal in life, and as you likely have recognized some degree of wisdom in others, others will look up to you as you look to your far wiser friends.
 
Wisdom should be a cherished destination in one’s life; the pursuit reveals God. The further you progress along the way of wisdom fading regrets will lose their grasp; any notions of retreat dissipate; all reserve left behind.
 
Again, no one attains wisdom, but the pursuit makes you wiser. Embrace the quest it takes you for the rest of your life.
 
Coach
After many years studying God’s Word, I wrote my Shiloh novels about a time-lost South Georgia town with colorful, realistic characters dealing with choices and consequences in life, and the response of others to our choices. I pray my grandchildren will eventually grasp the lessons that reside in the stories and become wiser as a result, and hopefully long before I discovered the value of wisdom in one’s life.
If you choose to read any of my inspirational Southern mysteries, please let me know what lessons you found within the twists and turns between the covers of each story.
Southern Fiction with a message.

Don’t Pretend to be What You are Not!

bold-as-a-lion-28-1-fav1Don’t Pretend to be What You are Not!

Three things are stately in their stride; even four are stately in their walk: a lion, which is mightiest among beasts and doesn’t retreat before anything, a strutting rooster, a goat, and a king at the head of his army. If you have been foolish by exalting yourself, or if you’ve been scheming, put your hand over your mouth. For the churning of milk produces butter, and twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife. Prov 30:29-33 (HCSB)

There is a difference between “strutting your stuff” before the victory and after the victory. In one case you are standing tall in confidence after the convincing victory has been won. The other is cocky swagger attempting to ward off any challenges that you may not be able to overcome. This passage has the imagery of the animal kingdom whereby confidence comes from experience, not from fear or intimidation.

To be “stately” means to be walk majestically in full confidence knowing who you are and what you truly are capable of achieving in life. You have been crowned the champion and are recognized and acknowledged as such because of your accomplishments. Such confidence comes also when you know you have worked hard and walk onto the field of competition with the best trainer and coach also on your side. In life, we can realize that confidence when we allow God to guide and direct our lives, because he promises us the crown of victory, if we do not give up and persevere in the struggles we face.

In stark contrast, there are those who “strut their stuff” only to pretend to be what they know deep inside they are not. They may dress the part, and may even appear intimidating, however their strut is founded upon their fear of failure; their fear of being exposed for what they really are! Their bark is loud; their threats fierce, but they will do about anything to not actually engage in the contest. They are more of the fool exalting one’s self and the schemer trying to get away with more than they are capable of actually accomplishing. However, all they manage to accomplish is to agitate and stir up others and to create strife.

A real champion walks in humble confidence because he or she has nothing to prove, and their reputation precedes them. All the challengers know who is on his or her side, and little needs to be said – no boasting, bragging; scheming or deception. A Christian anchored in God’s will, ways, and  wisdom can realize the same confidence in life. As Paul said to Timothy:

But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. 1 Tim 4:7-10 (HCSB)

Exude the confidence of the Lion of Judah! When we have total faith, all fear is gone; our faith contributes to our confidence as we persevere through this life wearing the crown of victory which God promised. Do not be deceived by those who strut their own stuff, even within the Church. There are some who claim to be Christians; they openly boast and brag, even foolishly scheme in hopes they will be seen to be what they are not. But, strife and anger usually follow in their wake. Time adn trials reveal their fear, not their brandished faith.

Which are you? Humbly confident or foolishly arrogant? In the end, it matters only that God knows who the real victors are!

Coach

www.TMBrownAuthor.com for stories which identify with this message.

Only Takes One Bad Apple

Can you identify the bad apple among the good? Why should you care?
Can you identify the bad apple among the good? Why should you care?

Only Takes One Bad Apple

Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart [goes] to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his heart lacks sense, and he shows everyone he is a fool. If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place, for calmness puts great offenses to rest. Eccl 10:1-4 (HCSB)

When shopping in a farmer’s market for a bushel of apples, it is hard to realize at first glance if the bushel you are looking at contains a bad apple that could infect the others. If you do not take the time to inspect all the apples, there is the chance one bad apple could become a host of bad apples in no time.

The same is true in a group of people – it only takes one ‘bad apple’ to harm others. The ‘bad apple’ can disguise himself and blend in among the others, but sooner or later he begins to unveil his miscreant nature.

Because it is the natural instinct within mankind to follow (guess that’s why we are identified so often as sheep), there resides in our nature a constant risk of choosing the wrong leader to follow. However, time unmasks the folly of the fool, and those who have blindly followed him begin to wake up to their precarious state unless they change leadership and dismiss the fool’s folly for others to see.

So choose wisely the leaders you choose to follow. Even if you discover the error of the choice at some later time, a price will be paid for the time you followed the fool. Just a short exposure to the ‘bad apple’ puts a ‘good apple’ at risk.

What can we do? When you are at the farmer’s market selecting apples, reminders of past experiences discovering ‘bad apples’ will guide you to root out even one bad apple from the bushel of apples you decide to bring home.

The same is true in life. The closer we are to God’s will, ways, and wisdom, the more likely we are to recognize the ‘bad apples’ who are opposed to following anyone else’s way of life except their own, their own selfish folly. Whenever anyone claims to be a leader with all the answers: RUN!

We may strive to become wiser and more mature, but we will never be fully wise or fully mature. Those who believe they are all-wise and mature become their own god. The wise man realizes the wiser we become, the more dependent we become to pursuing God and following him alone. When we reach that point in our life, God helps us identify the ‘bad apples’ to avoid their folly.

How careful are you about sorting out the “bad apples’ from the ‘good apples’?

Coach

Words of Wisdom #249-33EC

The Wiseman, the Madman, and the Fool

Do you which is the wiseman, the madman, the fool?
Do you which is the wiseman, the madman, the fool?

The Wiseman, the Madman, and the Fool

Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the man be like who comes after the king? He will do what has already been done. And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness.

The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.

Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both. So I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise?” And I said to myself that this is also futile. For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies just like the fool? Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 2:12-17 (HCSB)

Consider the differences between the wise person, the mad man, and the fool. At the same busy street corner, the wise person will look both ways before proceeding across the street, making certain there is no oncoming traffic. The mad man will look as he begins walking across the intersection even though he sees oncoming traffic but in his estimation he can walk safely across without being hit. The fool, well, he starts walking without hesitation assuming no one would certainly hit him, and never bothers to look either way for oncoming traffic. Which of the three will likely live longer or at worst avoid injury? Yet, which will likely avoid death all together? The answer is clear:The wise man may out live the other two, while the mad man likely will out live the fool, but all have the same destiny with death! So, should then choose to live the life of the fool or the mad man, and not bother to walk in the light of the wisdom that God offers us?

There are many people in this world that you may know who are like the mad man or fool; they walk through life at a brisker and riskier pace, throwing caution to the wind. They believe they are invincible, only to discover after it is too late that such a reckless lifestyle eventually comes at a price. So, why do we espouse that life is too boring and mundane without some inherent risk? If God’s wisdom is so good for us, why do we opt not to apply it to our own lives? Why walk like the madman and the fool, turning from the pursuit of God’s wisdom? Why prefer the thrill of walking on the brink of danger at every intersection of life? Do we prefer the madness or folly, or have we been turned off by the drab notion that God desires us to only choose a totally safe and cautious lifestyle? Actually, I believe the Bible testifies otherwise. One can be wise yet still walk boldly and with confidence in the face of danger, if it is for the right purpose.

When we walk in the light of God’s will, ways, and wisdom, we discover times when God sets before us a mission that will take us out of our comfort zone. However, when on mission from God, though we may very well face inherent risks and imminent danger, we are never alone. When we walk daily with the Lord’s guidance, we are never alone, especially when latent dangers lurk among the shadows of death along the journey. The Lord promises to comfort, guide and protect us whenever we follow his will, ways and wisdom. There lies the difference between a godly wise man, the mad man and the fool.

Solomon recognized the folly in trying to avoid the risks and dangers in life, because in the end, we all face the same inevitable death. However, when we walk with the Lord in His will, ways and wisdom in this lifetime, death is nothing more than a portal to a much greater eternal mission. The mad man and fool are blinded and thus lost as to their destiny beyond death, and even the wise man who seeks his own will and ways sooner or later discovers the folly of his choices.

Are we chasing the wind, or being guided through life by it?

Coach

Words of Wisdom #221-5EC