Proverbs in Light of the Cross; The Perils of Being a Creative Thinker

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.Proverbs 2:2 NLT

In grade school, my teacher was talking about the possibility of solar powered cars. A sincere question came to my mind. I raised my hand and asked, “How would these cars run in the dark?” My teacher was angered by my question. I can’t recall if she actually called it a stupid question, but she sure made me feel stupid! She told me that, obviously, there was a battery that stored power for night time, and then said I should stop thinking of stupid questions.

I was hurt. I thought I had asked a good question. (I just now took a moment to Google it, and it appears I am not the only person who has ever asked that question.) Tuning your ears to wisdom and concentrating on understanding can take you outside of the box. I have learned a lot of people don’t like to think outside the box.

I have had several people over the years tell me that they love my sermons and writings because I make them think of things they have never thought of before and see things in a different light. People call that creative thinking. It’s a good thing, but it comes with risks. When some people say, “I never thought of it that way before” they mean that is brilliant. When others say, “I never thought of it that way before” they mean that is stupid!

My grade school teacher is not the only one who has ever treated me that way. I have paid people what I thought were sincere compliments, only to have them snap back and call me a smart aleck or worse. I felt stunned, wondering how in the world did they turn that into an insult? I have raised ideas in church meetings only to have people laugh at me.

I first served as a head elder of a church when I was 22, and some people thought I was too immature to be a head elder. I probably was. Probably still am. Some of my ideas they thought were silly. For example, I started prayer meetings at 7:23. Why such an odd time? Because that way people would not have a hard time remembering if it was 7:00 or 7:30. 7:23 sticks out in the brain. Plus who says you have to start at 7:00, 7:15 or 7:30? Since then I have noticed how many sporting events and things start at 7:07 and other “odd” times.

My point is that a lot of ideas some people find laughable, others find brilliant. So I am happy when people tell me I make them think outside the box. I think the box should be thrown away.

I am not comparing myself to Jesus, but He lived outside the box Himself. Off-beat ideas like praying for God to bless your enemies, going the extra mile, and a little child being the greatest, really had people thinking in ways they never had before. But with a little wisdom and understanding, people realized He was not so crazy after all.

I’m writing this just to let those who think outside the box know they are not so crazy. God created us in His creative image. We see His creative thinking both in creation and in the plan of redemption. Therefore when we “let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) we will have minds that think creatively like Jesus.

So, no matter how stupid a teacher may have made you feel, keep up the creative thinking. Keep asking creative questions. I have learned that when some people are asked a good question they can’t answer, pride won’t let them say they don’t know. Instead they try to minimize the question, and make it look like a silly question that should not be asked, when in reality it is was a great question that warrants an answer, maybe even a creative answer.

Keep up the creative out-of-the box thinking. People loved Jesus for it. People have told me they love me for it, and they will love you too!

you may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Search, Study, Seek

 I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver;  seek them like hidden treasures.  Proverbs 2:3-4 NLT

Sometimes I will be hanging out with a friend, who will ask me a quick Bible question, requesting a quick and simple answer. Still, as I go to my Yourversion Bible app to show my friend the Bible answer, I pause and pray with my friend, asking God to give us insight and understanding, even for one simple verse.  I have read in Steps to Christ, Page 91 by Ellen White, “Never should the Bible be studied without prayer. Before opening its pages we should ask for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and it will be given.”

As I give Bible studies on how to study the Scriptures, I discover words like “Search” (John 5:39, Acts 17:11) and study, (2 Tim 2:15)  I share with my Bible study student that we are not encouraged to simply read the Bible like you read a newspaper, but to search and study it prayerfully, asking God for insight and understanding.

When I moved to Florida, my GPS told me to turn down Elm street till I came to Maple street where my new home was. So for several years I lived in that home telling people I lived on the corner of Elm and Maple. One day I was sitting at the light at Elm and Maple, just like I had everyday before, when I realized something I never had before. The cross sign did not say “Elm.” It said “Oak.” I then realized that Elm street later turns into Oak street. So for years I was telling people I lived at Elm and Maple when in reality I lived at Oak and Maple.  By just glancing around I assumed I was somewhere I really was not. One day I looked a little closer at the sign. I realized where I really was.  Searching and studying makes a much bigger difference than when we just read and glance at things!

Proverbs 2:3-4 reminds us to ask God for insight and understanding, and it will be given as we, not just casually glance at the Bible, but as we study, search and seek the Bible.

The story you just read is true. The street names were changed to protect the innocent.

Proverbs In Light of the Cross; Understanding

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 NLT

I remember several years ago I got to thinking about the fact that I had not really learned anything exciting or new in the Scriptures lately. Since I love studying and finding new things, I asked God why that was. The thought came to me. Have I been doing all that God already showed me? If not, why would He bother showing me more, when I am not even doing what I already know to do?

The story goes of a pastor who preached the same sermon three weeks in a row. After the third time, an elder told him, “you do realize this is the third time you’ve preached the exact same sermon?” “Yes,” the pastor replied. “And you still have not done what I told you.”

Understanding means obeying. There is no reason for God to give us more wisdom, if we’re not using the wisdom we already have.

“Disobedience has closed the door to a vast amount of knowledge that might have been gained from the Scriptures. Understanding means obedience to God’s commandments. The Scriptures are not to be adapted to meet the prejudice and jealousy of men. They can be understood only by those who are humbly seeking for a knowledge of the truth that they may obey it.”  Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, page 111

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; The Two Paths

I am writing tonight from beautiful Florida.

I am writing tonight from beautiful Florida.

 

Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Proverbs 3:15-17 NLT

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. Proverbs 4:18-19 NLT

The only thing that is harder than being saved is being lost! The only thing harder than obeying God is disobeying God. The upward path may be more narrow but it is also more pleasant. The downward path may appear to be easier but it is hard and painful.

In order to go in the path that leads to destruction, there is no need of searching for the way; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad, and the feet naturally turn into the path that ends in death….

But the way to life is narrow and the entrance strait. If you cling to any besetting sin you will find the way too narrow for you to enter….

Yet do not therefore conclude that the upward path is the hard and the downward road the easy way. All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on. God’s love has made it hard for the heedless and headstrong to destroy themselves. It is true that Satan’s path is made to appear attractive, but it is all a deception; in the way of evil there are bitter remorse and cankering care. We may think it pleasant to follow pride and worldly ambition, but the end is pain and sorrow. Selfish plans may present flattering promises and hold out the hope of enjoyment, but we shall find that our happiness is poisoned and our life embittered by hopes that center in self. In the downward road the gateway may be bright with flowers, but thorns are in the path. The light of hope which shines from its entrance fades into the darkness of despair, and the soul who follows that path descends into the shadows of unending night…..

If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely. The veriest sinner need not miss his way…

Christ Himself has trodden the rough way before us and has smoothed the path for our feet.  Ellen White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, Pages 138-140.