You need a Nathan

One of my favorite blogs—The Resurgence—recently posted an entry called You Flat Out Won’t Make It Without These Two. I thought it was very practical, very insightful, and very challenging. Please take a moment to read it:

Jonathans and Nathans

The challenging part is to make sure that I’m open to Nathans. We would all probably claim that we want to have Nathans in our lives, but I doubt that’s the case. While in the Air Force, I’ve often encountered leaders who claimed they had an “open door policy” and if you ever needed to bring anything to their attention then they would be open to it. Yet, it was sometimes the case that when I took them up on their offer, even slightly, they didn’t respond well.
I’ve seen the same with myself and other Christian brothers. We claim we want that Proverbs 27:17 experience of “iron sharpening iron” but we don’t really consider what that might look like. We don’t consider the fact that we might actually get called on foolish or sinful behavior! I remember when I first became a Christian and got confronted about some foolish behavior. I really liked a girl named April and we were studying alone in my dorm room. Out of nowhere, my pastor called me; turns out that God had prompted him to. He told me I needed to be more careful, that it was unwise to spend time alone, in my dorm room, with a girl I was attracted to. He was right and I knew it, but I secretly resented him for months.
Truthfully, at that point I was too immature to appreciate how much he was trying to love me. He was trying to be a Nathan to me and I failed to submit to his authority or even appreciate the courage and integrity he demonstrated by confronting me about an area in my life that was not “above reproach” (Col 1:22). I realize now that my reaction to his confrontation  was prideful and rebellious and I’m still ashamed of how I responded. I was a fool (Pr 12:15; 15:12, 32; 19:20; 23:9; 29:1 and many others).
In fact, in the last year or so, this is an area where I’ve deliberately tried to grow and God has blessed me with at least one Nathan who I know isn’t afraid to speak hard truth into my life. It’s been a tremendous blessing and, by the grace of God, has challenged me to grow in several areas. I’m grateful for our relationship and truly appreciate his honest words.
But the point of sharing this is to challenge you to consider if you want a Nathan in your life. Are you willing to be confronted in areas where you’re immature or need to grow? Are you willing to be held accountable? In our individualistic culture, this is not a popular idea. We believe that no one has the right to tell us what to do; “you’re not the boss of me!” We’re a very rebellious culture and I think it’s cost us dearly.
It’s wise to actively, humbly seek council from others and to actually listen to their advice (Pr 17:10; 19:20; 27:9). It will require humility and a willingness to be honest with others. It will require the integrity to actually repent when you’re confronted about unwise or sinful patterns in your life. And it means you’ll need someone to love you enough to put up with you if you respond like a jerk…like I did. I pray that God will bless us all with wisdom, humility, and a Nathan!

Puffy Christians – 1 Corinthians 8:1

I’m so spiritual and enlightened!
I am all for learning more about God, the Bible, theology, and pretty much anything you can that will draw you closer to God. In my life I’ve noticed a problem that gets bigger the more I learn; the problem is pride. Specifically, the problem is pride as a result of knowledge. It’s easy to think, “wow, I’ve learned so much more than other people; I’m so spiritual and enlightened!” But really, does that sound like a humble heart? Are those types of thoughts even from God? I love my classes, but the biggest, most lethal pitfall I have to avoid is getting puffy.
How can they not know this?!

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is addressing the eating of meat sacrificed to idols and he starts his instruction by acknowledging that “we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.'” (1 Cor 8:1) The Corinthians had developed a prideful attitude with regards to the knowledge they posessed. They were thinking things like, “Well of course, everyone should know that idols represent a God that doesn’t exist. Duh!” Or maybe, “It’s obvious we can eat the meat because their gods don’t exist; how can they not know this?!” But really, does that sound like a humble heart? Are those types of thoughts even from God?
Are you a puffy Christian?

Paul lovingly continues his instruction by cautioning them that “This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1b) A modern way of saying this, and something I’ve heard several times is “The longest journey a man must take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart.” Paul continues teaching by explaining how the puffy Corinthians were causing less-knowledgeable Christians to struggle because they were eating food sacrificed to idols. They thought their freedom to eat a steak was more important than the spiritual growth of their brothers and sisters in Christ! This is not a real issue for us in America (although we could talk about alcohol as a modern example), but it’s the idea of being puffy I want to look at.
“The longest journey a man must take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart.” How very, very true this is for me! Maybe I’m the only dirt bag who struggles in this area, but I have to constantly check to see how “puffy” I’m getting. For example, when you read a verse, is your first impulse to use it against someone else or is it to see how it can be applied to your life? I’ll be honest: my first thought is not always how a verse relates to me but how someone else really needs to hear it! So ask yourself: Are you a puffy Christian?

We can break others down or build them up.

If you think you might be a little puffy from time to time, then I encourage you to use your knowledge to love people and build them up, not to inflate yourself and stay puffy. There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. A wise person will use their knowledge to build up those around them. Warren W. Wiersbe, in The Bible Exposition Commentary, says it like this:
“The little child who is afraid of the dark will not be assured by arguments, especially if the adult (or older brother) adopts a superior attitude. Knowledge can be a weapon to fight with or a tool to build with, depending on how it is used.”
Do you see the two options we’re given? We can either use knowledge against others or for them. We can break others down or build them up. Do you use knowledge to puff yourself up or to build others up? Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. In 2 Peter 3:18, Peter closes his teaching the same way I’ll conclude this entry: by urging us all to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Wise guys

This is part nine of a multi-entry blog series titled “Lessons I Learned in the Desert.”

James 1:5 almost sums it up entirely: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” We live in a world where information is more available than it has ever been. They call our age the “Information Age.” Just look at what smart phones have done to us. Now, if I want to know the Hawaiian word for “money” I can grab my iPhone, open the Google app, speak the words into my phone, and it will give me the answer. (As an experiment I actually tried this and it worked. The Hawaiian word for money is “kala.”)

This availability of information and facts have lead us to believe that we are wise. Proverbs 3:7 warns us against this mentality. Instead, we are to ask God to bless us with wisdom. Wisdom is not the same thing as information. Being informed is simply knowing something; wisdom is knowing how to live. Proverbs 1:3 says that wisdom is “doing what is right and just and fair.” I love the way Richard J. Foster puts it in Celebration of Discipline:

 “All of us know persons who have taken some course of study or attained some academic degree who parade their information in an offensive manner. We should feel profound sorrow for such people… They have mistaken the accumulation of information for knowledge. They equate the spouting of words with wisdom. How tragic!”

James 1:5 teaches us that God is the giver and source of wisdom. We must ask Him for it and only from Him can we receive it. Proverbs 4:6-7 say that we should get wisdom above all else. Wisdom is supreme. I think it’s safe to say that attaining wisdom should be on every Christian’s to-do list! Without wisdom, we will all live very hard lives individually. And without wisdom, as a society, we will collapse.

We live in a culture that is growing less and less wise. We must learn to think critically about the messages that culture throws at us and the methods through which we receive theses messages. For example, I recently heard Four Minutes by Madonna. It had a catchy beat so it kept me listening and I heard the line, “If you feel it, it must be real.” Those simple 8 words, while they sound harmless, are toxic. Thing about the repercussions of that mentality. It means that our feelings are the way we should define reality. Do what you want, as long as it feels good. Is this a way to live life? This is just one example, but listen to the radio, go to the movies, watch TV and you will be inundated with all sorts of bizarre and unwise messages about sex, money, drugs, violence, etc. Our culture is saturated with unwise thinking.

Christians, I urge you to be wise about what you let dictate the way you think about the world. If you’re not sure where to go, here’s a hint: read your Bible! I also urge you to “get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7) First, ask God for wisdom. James 1:5 promises that God will give us wisdom if we sincerely ask. Another great way to deepen your wisdom is to read Proverbs. The book has 31 chapters, so read one chapter a day. You’ll be amazed at the practical wisdom contained within Proverbs!

Ephesians 5:15-16

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”This is a great verse for me because it motivates me. As followers of Christ, we are called to live our lives intentionally. The verse says to be “very careful” how we live. In other words, carpe diem! The days we live in are evil and we have a world that’s watching us, waiting for us to drop the ball, waiting for us to disgrace the Cross of Christ.

But we are called to live, not as unwise, but as wise! Life is short…very short and I just had a reminder of that this weekend. We only get one shot at this life and we need to make the most of it. I want the Spirit to guide me and help me see the opportunities place before me. I hope to make a difference for the Kingdom.

Here is a song this verse makes me think of (ignore the pictures).

So the question is simple: How will you live your life?

God bless,
daniel

Ephesians 3:10-11

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”This verse is DENSE, so I’ll go through it line by line.His intent: This means that God had a plan the moment He created everything. He is intentional.was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known: This line has three elements. First, it is NOW not later and not before but now. Second, something is being accomplished through the church–through God’s people. And third, we are to make God’s multifaceted wisdom known.

according to His eternal purpose: once again, God has had a plan since the begining.

which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord: Pretty simple: mission accomplished.

This verse is great for me and I wish I had more time to elaborate, but I gotta run.

God bless,
daniel