All posts by Roy Spears

“Hear instruction and be wise…”

“And now, my sons, listen to me:  happy are those who keep my ways.  Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.  Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting inside my doors.  For he who finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord…”  Proverbs 8: 32-35

The ear that is attentive to the wisdom that comes from the Lord is wise.  In contrast, those who neglect to listen to this wise and noble counsel are building their lives on the shifting sands of a popular, vapid culture.

“Happy is the man who hears the call of wisdom and follows in her ways.  He should attend daily to her instructions, waiting expectantly for the treasures which continually flow from her mouth.”  The Interpreter’s Bible on the Book of Proverbs, pg. 833.

Unfortunately, we have lost the art of the daily commune with our Creator, that setting aside a portion of our day to sit at His feet and absorb His teachings, striving to learn His ways.  Instead, many of us, far too many, begin the day with our minds wrapped inside of a newspaper, whether it be of the paper or the digital kind.  Or worse, we turn on the television and feed at the burned out husks of depressing, worldly newscasts and the mind-numbing foolishness of ubiquitous advertising.

We do this at the cost of development to our souls and the ruin of our spiritual natures.

Few things in life come without cost; the greater the treasure, the more difficult the extraction.  The more valuable is the jewel, the more costly will be the purchase.  It is a law of the spiritual.

In our pursuit of wisdom, we find there is a cost.  It is a cost of time, a carving out of our daily, hectic schedule that constantly demands our full and immediate attention.

Wisdom is a quiet pursuit, one that is forged in the halls of solitude and aloneness.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”  Mark 1:35 (NASB)

It is there in the quiet and secluded places that we find the wisdom of our Lord.  If the Scriptures felt it important to give the above details about Jesus leaving the house to find a secluded place to pray, doesn’t that tell us of something important for each one of us?  Clearly, if it was important for Jesus, it should even be more important for us, men and women stained by sin, laziness and an inclination to stay in bed and hit the snooze button for a few more minutes of sleep.

But see the glory of this pursuit of wisdom!  Communion with God and a spiritual nature that grows into His likeness.  As we spend this alone time with Him, our thoughts become His thoughts and our ways become His ways.  As we listen to Him, we begin to order our ways after Him and He directs our paths.

Aristotle has been attributed to saying that “nature abhors a vacuum.”  This has many interpretations, some more right than others, but I can interpret it to this post by saying that our morning quiet times, those blocks of minutes dedicated to being in God’s presence, should be filled with the truth of the Word of God.

I write to warn you of the danger of mindless meditation or repetitious chanting, of allowing your mind to be “emptied” only to be filled with some subjective spiritual presence.  “Nature abhors a vacuum,” and your mind, if left unattended, is at risk for being filled with thoughts and other things that may not be from the throne of the Most High God.

Saturate your mind on the Word of God, the writings from both the Old and New Testaments.  As I frequently make mention in my blog posts, one well I continually drop my bucket into is from the book of Proverbs.  Its ancient truths continually refresh and challenge me.

My hope is that they will do the same for you.  Take time to plumb its depths.  You will never regret it.

Godliness is its own benefit

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Reading wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs, is a favorite pursuit in my daily routine.   More than most things in my life, I need wisdom to guide and direct me.

My long stay in California is drawing to a close.  While here, in the room I am staying, is a set of commentaries on the entire bible, called “The Interpreter’s Bible.”  I have been blessed by the wisdom contained in its multi-volume set.

In browsing through Proverbs, I stumbled across the commentary for Psalm 92.  Here is a paragraph from William Morgan included for this Psalm from pages 501-502:

“A man’s sin comes back to him and finds him less in what he suffers that what he misses, and less in its external than in its internal results.  It comes back to him in the dulling of the moral intelligence, the deterioration of character, the impairing of the finer sensibilities and energies which are its inevitable consequences.  It is only to express the same truth in other words when we say that the real penalty of sin is alienation from God.  The soul loses is power to respond to the high, the pure, the generous; moral activity is paralyzed, and only the ignoble remain.  No external or mechanical order this, but on belonging to the nature of things, and from which there is no escape.  Must we not recognize in it a revelation of the Justice that rules at the heart of things?”  (Quote taken from “The Nature and Right of Religion [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926])

The “Interpreter’s Bible” also quoted from J. I. Hammond:

“…In a very real sense–the deepest–righteousness is success.”

Where do we hear such sublime truths today?  Certainly not in the broken cisterns of daily news sources where so many of us daily feed at.  No, those who regularly eat at the pigs troughs of internet news or print sources are subjected to an overload of base instincts and behaviors, from so-called “gay marriage” rights all the way to the twisted behaviors of Hollywood starlets and stars.

We hear nothing of godliness and righteousness from secular news sources but a continual drumbeat of hedonism and moral depravity.  Is it any wonder, then, that those we meet on a daily basis personify the very characteristics of those whom we daily read about?

Yesterday at UC Berkeley, I listened to a conversation between Zac, an open-air preacher, and a teen-aged male who came up to talk to him.  This young man, not more than seventeen, spoke typically of a youth in his age group, saying that boys his age where only concerned about “spreading their seed around.”  For this young man, any talk of sexual restraint or “saving oneself for that special someone in marriage” was as old school as the eight track player of long ago.

Of course, my generation, who spawned this present one, was nothing different; we spoke and acted precisely the same way.  We were the authors of “free love” lived out in the new hedonistic paradigm of “drugs, sex and rock n’ roll.”

But there was a slight difference between then and now:  we were still in the shadow of our previous generations Christian godliness and moral values, and though we wanted to wholly come out from within that godly influence, its restraining presence was still felt.  Now, that restraint is gone, and the young man such as the one I listened to is par for the course.

But godliness, as Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:6, is a means of great gain.  A life lived in godliness and in the pursuit of righteousness is a reward all in itself.  This thought struck me powerfully today, because I can wrongly believe that the rewards of godliness and righteousness are always future tense and cannot be something we tangibly experience now.

This thinking is incorrect, because godliness, as stated above, has its own rewards right now for those who pursue and practice it.  Some of the rewards we experience today are peace with God, harmony with Him, and the comfort that one has knowing that our fellowship with God is not strained and interrupted by sin on our part.

Godliness brings peace of mind.  When we are practicing righteousness, our souls are at rest, our minds are not troubled, and there is a real sense that God has us securely in the palm of His hand.  We may be going through incredible trials and sufferings, but this knowledge that God is in control allows us to rest in His sovereignty and perfect plan for our lives.  A godly life allows this peace and serenity to be the hallmark of our lives.

Are you living a godly life?  Are you pursuing righteousness?

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”  1 John 2:6 (NIV)  

What a challenge this verse is to those who wrongfully believe that a life of holiness is unattainable in this life.  On the contrary, it is the mark, the very evidence, of a regenerated life.  It is the birthright of every born-again believer.

 

A warning from the life of Solomon: Part 2

A 1967 InterVarsity article by Charles E. Hummel was titled, “Tyranny of the urgent.”  It is sobering and one that I recommend you read:

http://www.navfusion.com/assets/Tyranny%20of%20the%20Urgent%20[Hummel].pdf

Hummel writes:

“Several years ago an experienced cotton mill manager said to me, ‘Your greatest danger is let­ting the urgent things crowd out the important.'”

That is a profound statement and one that I feel Solomon was guilty of:  allowing the urgent business of running his kingdom to crowd out the more important matter of spending quality time with his God.

We know that none of us steps from intimacy with God and then immediately walks into a backslidden state.  On the contrary, spiritual declension is one slow, downward step at a time.  When Christian singer/songwriter Keith Green was alive, the ministry he started with his wife Melody, “Last Days Ministries,” put out a tract titled “The Dangers of Drifting.”  Here is the link:

http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Groups/1000087896/Last_Days_Ministries/Articles/Other_Authors/The_Dangers_of/The_Dangers_of.aspx

This is another excellent read, showing the process of apostasy from the Lord:

“First of all, look at how silent and unnoticed the pull of drift is. If it disturbed us, if it jarred or jolted us, if it drew attention to itself, this might be enough to put us on our guard. But, look! no such warning signal is ever given. No alarm bell is ever sounded. We drift away softly and silently, like a ship floating down the tide…

“…The life of drift is a pathetically easy course to follow. It takes no output of energy to float down a stream, or to be carried forward on the crest of a running tide. All that’s necessary for a life of drift is to relax, to do nothing, to let go, to cease struggling, to submit to the worldly influences within us and around us. ‘The gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction.’ (Matt. 7:13)”

This is no doubt the path that Solomon took:  one small step at a time away from the Lord, made possible because of the urgency of his kingly responsibilities.  How subtle were the deceiving voices that Solomon must have heeded when they said to him: “You are doing the Lord’s work and proving yourself a good and godly king by spending all that time on kingdom business.  Don’t feel guilty about neglecting your personal devotion with the Lord…He understands your responsibilities and will bless you for being faithful to Him through your ministry to those in your charge.  Your service to Him is your devotion.”

“Your service to Him is your devotion.”  How many of us have fallen for this half-truth?  Yes, it is true that serving others is part of our devotion to God, but the lie comes in when we believe that serving others can substitute for our personal devotion to God and can replace our daily quiet time with Him.

Are you dedicating a portion out of your every day life to fellowship with God?  Or are you, like Solomon, allowing the importance of your life’s work, ministry or family to place you in a situation where you are so busy that you don’t feel you have time for Him?

Friends, if you are trapped in the latter situation, I plead with you to immediately change course and set your priorities right.  I am convicted by writing these words to set aside my computer and get on my knees before the Lord and connect with Him.

The spiritual life we may save just might be our own.

A warning from the life of Solomon: Part 1

 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”  1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)

The story of King Solomon has fascinated me for decades.  You can read about him in 1 Kings chapters one through eleven in the Old Testament.  It is worth studying.

Here was a man who had everything going for him:  a godly father (David), an undivided kingdom given to him with no enemies to fight, wisdom and knowledge beyond measure, wealth, and other blessings too numerous to list.  He even had the God of the universe appear to him on at least two occasions.

To say that Solomon was a blessed man is an understatement.

But with all of his profound blessings, Solomon, known as the wisest man in the world, ended his life on tragic note.  Though his wisdom had blessed so many others, he failed to use that priceless gift for himself and he spurned the very One who gave him his great understanding.  This great man played the fool and his biographer takes pains to reveal why:

“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.”  1 Kings 11:4 (NASB)

And it wasn’t the case that Solomon had just a handful of wives who were instrumental in causing him to backslide; no, the bible says that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).  That’s an incredible amount of drama for just one man to handle, no matter how beautiful those women must have been.

It might be easy for us, acting as “armchair generals,” to harshly judge Solomon for his unspeakable backsliding and think, “That could never happen to me!”  But then the words of the apostle Paul slaps us back into reality:

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

The truth is, any one of us can end up like Solomon, because if it happened to the wisest man in the world, it can happen to you and me.  We need to take careful heed lest we also fall.

Someone once said, “Prayer will keep us from sin, and sin will keep us from prayer.”  In trying to understand Solomon’s shocking fall from grace, I believe some of the steps he took to reach the point where he was sacrificing to other gods was his failure to connect with God regularly in prayer.  As reigning sovereign over a vibrant kingdom, with all of its duties, emergencies, distractions and needs, Solomon no doubt failed to carve out of his daily life that necessary intimate and personal connection to his Lord.

My personal responsibilities are as nothing compared to Solomon’s, yet I can see how easily the distractions and responsibilities of daily living can cause me to neglect that all important time with Jesus in my daily life.  Failure to connect consistently with the Lord on a regular basis is a sure marker of walking on the “Solomon Road” to apostasy.

I confess to a certain amount of fear and paranoia when I read of Solomon’s downfall; if it happened to him, how can any of us be spared the same fate?

More in Part two.

 

 

Division among Christians ruins everything

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  Jesus in Mark 3:24-25

I have been thinking about the creeping spiritual darkness that threatens to overwhelm America’s colleges and universities.  Any unbiased person can see that our institutions of higher learning are in deep trouble.

One of the reasons for this continual decline lies at the door of the Christian groups on campus:  they are divided.  I have been doing ministry on university campuses for over thirty years and it is a rare day when, for example, Campus Crusade for Christ works hand in hand with the Navigators to conduct outreach or bible studies together.

Or when does one campus church work with another campus church on a joint venture?  According to my experience and knowledge, this does not happen…ever.  Why?  One reason is because “Church A” does not agree with everything “Church B” believes, even though it might only be a minor theological difference.  “We’re Reformed and they are Charismatic…we can’t allow our people to work with them because we don’t want our sheep speaking in tongues or becoming too emotional in prayer.”

I don’t want to minimize theological differences; some groups who identify themselves as Christians are so off the theological wall that we cannot offer them the right hand of fellowship; to do so would dishonor Christ and the truth we cherish more than life itself.

But I’m not talking about these vast differences in belief but rather minor–even insignificant ones–that cause groups to refuse to work with one another.

As a matter of fact, I’m speaking with a brother on this exact point, a fellow evangelist who yesterday joined us on our campus outreach at UC Berkeley.  He goes to another church that is more rigid in their theological beliefs than mine and is more concerned with people being of the “right doctrine” than I am.  I told him that if we waited around to evangelize with people who thought exactly like we do, we wouldn’t be doing much evangelism .

Again, I need to emphasize that correct doctrine is essential and there are beliefs that cause us to separate from one another, but these vast differences are not what I’m talking about.

I live my life by this beautiful statement:  “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; but in all things, love.”  Nitpicking over non-essential doctrines, beliefs and practices only fuels the destructive machine of division, crippling the Great Commission and contributing to the spread of wickedness on campuses.

A house divided itself cannot stand.  Are Christians not the “temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:16 ESV)”?  The very “house of God”?  If so, we need to understand that this verse in Mark has application to believers.  If our house is divided, it will eventually collapse.

And our house is divided, shamefully so.  How many Christian groups are there on a typical university campus of any significant population?  I have listed two in the paragraphs above.  There are others:  Chi Alpha, InterVarsity, Christian Challenge, to name a few, along with a host of smaller, lesser known organizations more popular on universities and colleges with lesser student populations.

The issue is not that there are so many different groups but that they are in competition with one another.  Of course, spokesman for each of these groups would no doubt deny the truth of what I just wrote, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating:  all one has to do is to ask these groups for evidence that they are working together with other groups on campus to bring the gospel to their fellow collegiates.  Such cooperation among the various Christian groups is virtually unheard of, and again, the Great Commission suffers for this partisan mindset.

Worse, souls are lost to this carnal mindset that refuses to reach across the evangelical aisle and join hands in evangelizing the campus.  Darkness and sin gains an ever greater foothold as the light of truth is pushed farther and farther into the background, eventually being looked upon as meaningless and irrelevant to the campus culture.  “Out of sight, out of mind.”  As Christians retreat into the comfort and familiarity of their own groups, their influence as the salt and light on their campus suffers a continual decline into almost total irrelevance to the non-Christians that surround them.

Friends, this is a serious issue.  We need to call this what it is:  sin.  We need to understand that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been, is, and will continue to be hindered unless and until university and college Christian groups recognize the serious issue at hand and join in corporate repentance to eradicate this great hindrance to revival and a spiritual awakening that is long overdue.

Money is not the most important thing

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Jesus, Matthew 6:33 (NASB)

Money is a necessity, of course, but it’s not the most important thing.

Obviously, we need money to pay our bills and survive; to deny this all-important aspect of daily living would be to reject a fundamental part of being human.

If you don’t have enough money to live comfortably, it’s normal to worry about it.  The unhealthy aspect of this type of worry is when it becomes an all-consuming part of your life, when all you think about is where you will get more money.

If you think about money more than anything else, it’s safe to say you are out of balance and some needed correction is due.

Jesus understood that His people worried about how they would put food on their table, feed their children, and pay their bills.  He knew that money was a vital part of everyday living.

But He also understood how worrying about money or anything else robbed us of the joy that we need in order to live healthy, productive lives.  If anything, Jesus was a practical man.  He would have made an outstanding businessman.

To be “successful” in life, we must have our priorities straight.  It matters little how beautiful a building is if its foundation is weak, crumbling and haphazardly constructed.  Disaster looms ahead for this structure.

Where so many of go astray in life is wrongly thinking that money is the very foundation of life instead of understanding that it is part of the building I just referred to.  You can’t have a beautiful life if your foundation is built on money.

Jesus said some radical things, such as:

“… God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15 (NASB)

So much of what we hold dear and precious in life is detestable in the eyes of God; our trusting in riches is one of those things that I believe God hates.  When we have everything we need in  abundance, do we really need to trust in God?  Probably not.  Why should we?  Spiritually speaking, this is a dangerous position to be in.

Jesus commanded that we “seek first the kingdom of God.”  Number two on this rather short list is righteousness.  If we are faithful in obeying both these precepts, then His promise is that “all these things will be added unto us.”

Jesus said to seek first His kingdom, but what exactly does this mean?  Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture, and Paul writes in Romans 14:7 that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (NASB)

Seeking His kingdom, then, would be seeking the things of the kingdom, as opposed to seeking the things of this world.  People of the world seek money, power, possessions, security, comfort, etc., while people of the kingdom of God seek righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

We find the things of the kingdom by being in communion with the Spirit of God.  This is done by prayer and reading His Word, while constantly examining our lives and keeping sin away from us and our thoughts.  It is not enough to want the things of the kingdom; we must actively and aggressively seek them in the same way you would hunt for buried treasure if you knew the general area of where you would find it.

The Greek word for “seek” means to “covet earnestly; strive after .”  We can translate Matthew 6:33 in this way:  “Covet earnestly and strive after the kingdom of God…”  This puts this in new light, for it signifies an active, aggressive and continual striving after the things of the kingdom.

Do you crave for the kingdom of God in the same way you crave chocolate or ice cream?  Often our mouth’s water when we think of a particular tasty food; do we do the same over the things of the kingdom?  Do we plan to meet God with the same zeal and attention to detail as we do our upcoming vacation?  Or with the same carefulness of what we will wear today?

I want to encourage you to seek first the kingdom of God.  Before you start your day, even before you make that first cup of coffee or tea, get on your knees with a Bible and seek His face.  Start with Psalm 145 and worship and praise Him for who He is.

There can be no better way to start your day.

The intolerance of the “tolerant”

There is perhaps no greater hypocrisy in the world today than with those who espouse “tolerance” and “diversity.”

More specifically, champions of so-called “LGBTQ” rights are among the most intolerant and hypocritical of people:  these individuals are only tolerant and accepting of those who agree with their perverse morality and twisted ideology.  Anybody else,  and in particular Christians, are the targets of their hate, intolerance and bigotry.

As evidence of my statements, allow me to give two names of individuals whom I will offer as proof :  Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and Peter LaBarbera.  So that I do not waste valuable time rehashing already established facts, below are two links to articles that will delve into some of the particulars of the two cases:

For information on Brendan Eich, cut and paste the link below into your search browser:  http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/0405/Mozilla-s-Brendan-Eich-and-gay-marriage-Intolerance-over-tolerance-video

Do the same for information on Peter LaBarbera:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/u-s-anti-gay-activist-peter-labarbera-arrested-in-regina-1.2610123

When gay activists, who are the “champions” of tolerance and diversity,  can put sufficient pressure on a man like Eich to cause him to resign over a donation he made to a political campaign, this should cause all lovers of true liberty and freedom to recognize a very dark and dangerous train coming out of the tunnel of intolerance and hypocrisy.

Remember:  those trumpeting tolerance are the most intolerant of all.  The stench of their hypocrisy rises to the heavens and demands exposure.  As long as you agree with them, they are your friends, but woe to any who don’t goose-step to their immoral agenda.  What is curious is how blind they and their supporters are to the blatant hypocrisy of their positions.

The case of LaBarbera is the most disturbing because he was arrested.  It is one thing to be fired from your job, like Eich was, but an entirely different matter to be incarcerated for your beliefs; this takes intolerance to a new and frightening level and puts an effective chill on how one will choose to publicly express their views in the future.

As the article on LaBarbera states, he was arrested on the University of Regina campus and charged with “mischief.”  In the eyes of the Canadian authorities, LaBarbera was guilty of promoting hatred because he was passing out literature dealing with the dangers of homosexuality.

Note the utter hypocrisy of the statement made by Tom Chase, the vice president of the university:  “We are a diverse campus, we are a welcoming campus,” said Chase.  “We celebrate that diversity and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave.”

In other words, Chase said, “We welcome all views except those we disagree with.  Then we will arrest you and kick you off campus if your views don’t precisely line up with ours.”

So much for being tolerant and welcoming, Mr. Chase.  Your hypocrisy can be cut with a knife.  Canada is rapidly rushing on the same road that Germany took when it elected Adolph Hitler as chancellor in 1933.  America is following suit under the present Obama administration.

We are living in dangerous times here in the United States; our freedoms are systematically being chipped away.  Our cherished first amendment is under serious attack and its demise is on the horizon by the enemies of “tolerance” and “diversity” who have brilliantly used that first amendment to hoodwink an entire nation into believing their redefinition of the terms.  It is nothing short of astonishing in how effective they have been.

I am thankful that the “sleeping giant,” that vast majority of Americans who reject the lies of the GBLTQ community and their allies, are finally waking up and are beginning to push back.

Unfortunately, it might be too late.  We have lost so much ground in such a short time that I’m not at all convinced we can regain our lost position.  It is well past the time for Christians in this country to wake up and understand the battle we are in and just how close we are to losing.

 

 

 

 

 

The way of wisdom

“I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of righteousness.” Proverbs 4:11 (ESV)

Taking public transportation is a living classroom to observe some people who do not walk in the way of wisdom.

Since living in Oakland for a little over a month and ministering on the campus of UC Berkeley, I rely on the city bus to get me to and from the ministry house  where I rent a room.  This is the first time in my life I have done this and I must admit it is not my favorite thing to do.

There are many strange people that take the bus.  For example, just this morning, on my way to church, a man was sitting in front of me who was having long conversations with himself.

When I got off the bus to transfer to the next one, the bus stop benches were almost completely taken by homeless people who were sitting and sleeping on them, their shopping carts full of junk parked haphazardly around.

I’m not quite used to this.  Though I cannot claim to live a sheltered life, this is stretching my bounds of comfort.  The Lord is teaching and showing me things through these experiences, but again, I’m outside my comfort zone.

There is a man who rides the bus, sits in the back, and listens to the baseball game–loudly–on his radio.  The first time I saw this he was staring blanking in front of him while his radio droned on for everybody to hear, acting as if everybody on the bus wanted to hear the details of the game as much as he did.  Then he fell asleep, with the radio still blaring.  Evidently, he couldn’t care less who he was bothering.

Oftentimes, we learn the positive side of a biblical precept (in this case the way of wisdom) by observing its negative enactment in realtime (like this guy playing his radio).

What would be a visible example of the “way of wisdom” in the above scenarios?  Clearly, using headphones to listen to the ballgame so others, forced to sit in close proximity to you,  would not be bothered would be a “no brainer,” but I guess some people are so out of touch with reality that they can’t see the obvious.

The way of wisdom is closely aligned with what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment:  love your neighbor as yourself.  When we live our lives being concerned about how our actions affect our neighbors, we are walking in the way of wisdom.

The way of wisdom would not be using the public benches at bus stops as crash pads or long term sitting places.  They are placed there using tax-payer dollars so the people using public transportation can rest, or seek shelter when it is raining.  No rocket science involved here.

Selfishness and self-centeredness are at odds with the ways of wisdom and are mutually exclusive.

How can one break free from the strong chains that bind and blind a selfish and self-centered individual?   Proverbs 9:10 gives us the answer:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (NASB)

Are you thirsty for this “way of wisdom”?  This is a key ingredient to becoming a wise man or woman:  you must yearn for it, much like someone who has just labored out in the hot sun for hours longs for a cold glass of water.  Without this prerequisite thirst, one will never step foot on the path of wisdom.

I encourage you to pray and ask the “Lord of wisdom” to open your eyes to see your spiritual need in this area and to give you a longing for it.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,  being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  James 1:5-8

UC Berkeley students on fire for Jesus!

I must report on an astonishing development happening on UC Berkeley that is perhaps unprecedented on any university or college campus in the United States:  Christian students are boldly preaching the gospel.

When I arrived on campus for the beginning of the “Berkeley Blitz,” I quickly got to know several students from a fellowship called “Living Waters.”  Predominantly comprised of Asian students, Living Waters members, from what I have seen, are charismatic.   They are enthusiastic and joyous in their faith and expression.
Someone in their group had the wonderful idea to gather some of their members and go out every day on campus between 12 noon and 1:00 pm, until Easter, in a bold display of their faith.  They would do this by singing Christian songs, preaching, and holding a sign that asked, “Can we pray for you?”
I learned about this through Mollie, one of the members of Living Waters.  She has only been a Christian for five months and is a firebrand for Jesus.  This young woman exudes the love, joy and passion of Christ in her life, and to be around Mollie is like breathing a breath of fresh air.
Though I had known about this for a couple of weeks, I was so busy with my own evangelistic work that I forgot about it until last week.  Then, I decided I needed to show my support for what they were doing and perhaps even encourage them.  Being bold in one’s faith on UC Berkeley does not make one popular with most of the student body.  I knew they needed moral support.
I began to show up while they were singing in a group, standing by them, off to the side, listening, and encouraging them.  Then, I offered them the use of my portable sound system that I use in my open-air preaching for whoever wished to preach themselves.
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(Photo above:  The group of students gathered to share their love for Jesus.  Mollie is playing the guitar.)
At first, they were hesitant.  I approached Mollie and encouraged her to give a short testimony of what the Lord had done in her life.  Though she seemed a bit frightened, she quickly warmed to the idea and was soon giving an impassioned talk, using the sound system, on what the Lord had done in her life.
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(Photo above:  Mollie giving her testimony.)
I encouraged Daniel next; he, too, was at first hesitant, and though he had preached in front of Dwinelle Hall a couple of weeks prior, he had not done so since.  Boldness came into Daniel’s soul and he began preaching.
The location of where these students were ministering is important to my report.  They are not in some obscure, lightly traveled area of the campus, but plant themselves in the heart of the action, in the middle of one of the main arteries that students use to go to and from their classes.  This takes both boldness and courage, friends.  The crowds passing can be large.
Jinn, another Living Water member and Cal student, preached next.  This young man has been preaching before on campus, and has fire in his soul for the Gospel.
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(Photo above:  Jinn, far left holding up his bible, preaching.)
Finally, Vieng Wong, the pastor of “In Christ Alone,” an on-campus fellowship, capped off the hour and preached.  It is true that “fire begets fire,” and this time of boldly proclaiming the Word of God on the campus of UC Berkeley was astonishing.
The following day was more of the same, with students again singing and preaching.  Yesterday, another student who I never heard preaching before approached me and said he felt it was no his time to speak publicly for the Lord Jesus.  He did, and though he only spoke for about five minutes, that was five minutes of glory for the Name of Christ!
So much more has happened that it is impossible to relate even the tenth of it.  For those who feel burdened to continue praying for this work, I thank you.

The way of wisdom

“I have taught you the way of wisdom…” (Proverbs 4:11 ESV)

The way of wisdom is contrasted with the way of foolishness.

Many people do not understand the existence of either of these two paths in life.  This is unfortunate, because not knowing about these two paths reveals that one is probably walking in the path of foolishness.

My continuing fascination with the “way of wisdom” never seems to end; you might say that I am obsessed with it.  One reason for this is because of the reality that I have walked far too long in my life in the path of foolishness; this is a disturbing reality.

It is easy to look at others and think, “That person sure acts foolishly,” but it is far more difficult to peer into the mirror and make the same judgment about ourselves.  The facts, though, are clear:  most of us are not walking in the way of wisdom.

The way of wisdom affects every area of our lives, as does the way of foolishness.  One or the other, wisdom or foolishness, will mark the course of our daily lives and determine the quality of our earthly existence.

The way of wisdom can only be realized when our lives are grounded and centered in the Word of God.  More specifically, the way of wisdom is discovered in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“…attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Colossians 2:2b-3 (NASB)

So many of us spend inordinate amounts of time on vain and foolish pursuits and activities instead of concentrating and cultivating the way of wisdom.  Like a diet that consists of only sodas and junk food, a life that is fed on only foolishness cannot be expected to be one of health, happiness and purpose.

If you are a young adult male (12-30 years of age) reading my blog, there is perhaps no better advice I can offer you than a systematic study in the book of Proverbs.

A wise pastor I had the privilege of studying under gave us young men in the congregation this excellent piece of advice:  there are approximately 31 days in every month and 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs.  Whatever the day is in any given month, read its corresponding chapter in the book of Proverbs.

For example, today is April 7; you would then read the seventh chapter of Proverbs.  I have tried to follow this advice as much as possible in my life, and now, in my fifties, I still read the book of Proverbs because I desperately need godly wisdom to direct my daily paths.

My hope is that you will discover at least two things in your life:  one, that you need wisdom to guide your life and, two, that this wisdom is personified in the life and teachings of Jesus.  The Bible says He is the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14), and devoting oneself to Him is the best way to starting and staying on the path of wisdom.