A Little Wisdom from Dogs

puppies

“The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.”

– Charles de Gaulle

I love dogs, as my wife and I refer to our dogs, Maggie, Henry, and P.J. (who passed away in 2013), as our “fur babies.” I’ve often looked at my dogs and wondered how awesome it would be if they could talk and converse with us. What would they say? “Hey, we’ve been through this-I don’t like the brown triangles in my food.” “You gonna let me out or can I just go on  the rug?” Or maybe they would vent their frustration by saying,  “That little yapping dog next door gets on my nerves.”

If I may engage in a bit of whimsy, dogs already teach us a lot without saying a word. As evolved from their wolf ancestors, dogs, even as domesticated as they are, consider themselves as part of a pack. Besides the protection that comes from being a pack or family offers a place of acceptance and unconditional love. For me, the unconditional love is what is best about having a dog.

-Dogs don’t care what you do for a living or how much money you make.

-Dogs don’t care who you voted for or get upset when there’s political disagreement.

-Dogs don’t discriminate because of your skin color, age, background, religion, orientation or anything else we use to divide each other.

-Dogs teach us not to take things so seriously- just throw the ball, tug on the rope, go take a walk.

-Dogs are grateful for life’s little pleasures-some good food, clean water, a warm bed, and good company.

-Dogs teach us to stay alert to our surroundings.

-Dogs teach us the importance of frequent naps.

-Dogs use their limited years to get the most out of this life.

Maybe, just maybe it was the dog who domesticated us and not the other way around.

The Deeper Wisdom

By Michael W. Raley

We live our lives amiss

When we believe that ignorance is bliss.

It is when we purposely shut out the possibilities of  our minds

That we live life stuck in an endless loop of time.

It’s safe and we loved being back there,

Thus anything new we don’t want to know nor do we care.

It is through life, experience, and learning that knowledge can be revealed,

But to the deeper wisdom, we must yield,

For truth is wisdom applied.

Thus, we must shine our light and not hide.

Since we are on such limited time,

Let us seek out this wisdom, both human and divine.

 

Discovering and Using our Talents

Imagine for a moment you are given an extravagant gift- it could be anything. The person who gave you the gift waits for you to open it, but you just set it aside and say “Thank you.” The Gift Giver leaves and the gift sits on the table where you left it. The next day, the gift is still on the table, unopened. A week goes by and dust is beginning to settle on the gift. The next thing you know is that a month goes by, then a year, maybe longer, and you have yet to open the gift. As you are sitting down watching TV, there’s a knock on the door. It’s the Gift Giver and he wants to know how you enjoyed the gift. You show him the gift sitting on the same table and talk about how you were not sure how he would respond to your opening it. The Gift Giver becomes angry and takes the gift away from you, giving it to someone else.

The above story is an oversimplified, fictionalized, and partial version of the Parable of the Talents, as described in Matthew 25:14-30 (the Parable of the Ten Pounds is found in Luke 19:12-27).

Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents within the context of His Mount Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25), where He describes the prophetic signs of His return and what believers must do in order to be prepared. The parable describes the rewards received when one does his or her work for the Kingdom of God.

However, what if we were to examine the Parable of the Talents without the eschatological layers? What would we see? How can we relate this parable to discovering and using our gifts in everyday lives?

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.” (Matthew 25:14-15, NKJV).

Of course, the man traveling to the far country is Christ ascending to heaven until His second coming. The servants represent all of us. The word “talent” is a term for a substantial amount of money. However, let us use the word talent to indicate our skills, gift and abilities.

From the onset, Jesus is telling us that life is not fair. Unfortunately, not all of us are born into wealth and privilege, nor do we choose the family we are born into, just as we cannot choose our skin color or country of origin. Not all of us have the same talents, skills, gifts and abilities.

The Bible states that the servants were given gifts according to their abilities. Hence, one servant received five talents, another received two talents, and the other received just one talent. The first two servants doubled their money and were commended and rewarded for their faithfulness, while the third servant buried his talent. The third servant let his gift sit on the table.

Listen and read carefully to the words of the third servant:

 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’” (Matthew 25:24-25, NKJV).

The servant’s response of hiding his talent indicates two key factors in his decision: an improper understanding of his relationship to his boss (Christ) and fear. When we are not related correctly to Christ, we do not understand our freedom in approaching Him. If we have accepted Christ, we can come boldly to the throne of grace, yet we can hold ourselves back because of guilt and condemnation, believing God is going to “throw the book at us” like some harsh judge. The Bible disproves this unworthy mindset because:

*We can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

*There is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1).

*God took the book of your sins and nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).

This unworthy mindset leads to fear. Fear of failure. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of what other people are going to think. Fear that we are diluting ourselves. Fear then drives us to inaction. Fear then causes us to lose out on the opportunity to use our talents. At the end of the parable, the man takes away the talent from the servant and gives it to the man who had ten talents, casting the servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:26-30).

Not only was the one talent servant paralyzed by fear, but he also failed to seek wisdom. The first two servants had wisdom on how to trade and invest. We must seek out wisdom and resources when it comes to using our gifts and talents. Wisdom is not reserved for a few people: wisdom is available to all. Godly wisdom is crying out in the streets, but so many reject it (Proverbs 1:20-24). Wisdom is simply applying knowledge and experience to a particular situation.

If you do not know what your talent is, take a personal inventory of what you enjoy. You may discover that you have more than one talent. Do not be afraid to try something. You cannot control what other people will think. You cannot control market conditions, the weather, or anything else outside of your thoughts, emotions, judgments, perceptions, and responses. Do not compare yourself and your opportunities to those of others, because that will only bring discouragement, doubt, and jealousy. God has equipped you for your mission or missions in life. You got this. God bless you all.

Wisdom- The Key to Treasure

No one is immune from making an unwise decision. No matter how educated, respected, or deliberate a person is, at some point he or she will make a bad choice. Our daily lives are filled with choices to make. Though some choices are more life-altering than others, the risk to make a bad choice exist nonetheless. In a perfect world, no one would make a decision unless he or she had all of the information needed about making said decision. However, as we live in this fallen world and face the constant struggles from our sinful natures, or flesh if you will, the temptation to take sole control of our lives will be there. Unfortunately, when we make bad choices, these can result in the loss of respect among peers, broken family relationships, the loss of a job, or even the loss of personal freedom. If you are in a season of dealing with the consequences of a bad choice, there is not guilt, shame, judgment, or condemnation here. I would encourage you to seek the love and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Repent and be restored.

We are bombarded daily by temptation. The Bible tells us that these temptations come from within ourselves (see James 4:1-6) and the world around us (see 1 John 2:15-17). How can we as Christians stand strong against temptation in an ever increasing morally relaxed world? Wisdom. Wisdom shows us the path we must walk in order to avoid the landmines of temptation and bad decisions. What is wisdom? The dictionary defines wisdom as “The quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true and right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”[i] For the purposes of this article, I would define biblical wisdom as the application of God’s Word to a particular situation. In order to apply God’s Word, we must study it diligently. Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeking the wise counsel of a pastor, spouse, or close friend, but we should seek God first in all things pertaining to our lives. In order to understand and apply biblical wisdom, there are things we must know about wisdom.

Wisdom Comes from God and is Part of God’s Character

            “To God belongs wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.” (Job 12:13, NIV).

“By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; By His knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” (Proverbs 3:19-20, NIV).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:7-9, NIV, emphasis mine).

God’s Wisdom is Available to everyone who seeks after it

            Biblical wisdom is not something hidden, revealed to only pastors or a select group of people. No, God has made His wisdom known to everyone.

“Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.” (Proverbs 1:20-23, NIV).

“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:11-12, NIV).

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Listen! The Lord is calling the city- and to fear your name is wisdom-‘Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.” (Micah 6:8-9, NIV).

When We Acknowledge God, He Will Give Us Wisdom

            Just as the above verse from Micah states, God makes it known what is expected of us, and when we honor and reverence Him and His Word, He will give us wisdom.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6, NIV).

God Expects Us to be Wise

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16, KJV).

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16, NIV).

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5-6, NIV).

Benefits of Heeding Wisdom

            Just as there are consequences for doing the wrong things, there are benefits when we do the right things. For example, if we exercise and take care of our bodies, we can live longer, healthier lives. If we manage our money well, we will have adequate savings and won’t be strapped down by excessive debts. The Bible is very clear about sin and its consequences. However, the Bible also teaches us about the benefits of obedience and heeding God’s wisdom. Though time and space do not permit me to list each Scripture reference, I would encourage you to seek the Lord in the book of Proverbs. Though not a comprehensive list, Proverbs does list the benefits of heeding wisdom:

*We will avoid trouble.

*We can live a blessed life.

*We can live a life free from fear.

*We can find the favor of God.

*We will have understanding.

*We will walk with integrity.

*We will develop patience.

            My prayer for all who read this is that you will seek the Lord’s direction for your life- whatever that may be. Do not reject the free gifts of God- His love, salvation, mercy, or wisdom. Grace and peace unto you.

[1] www.dictionary.reference.com/browse/wisdom%20?s=t/ Accessed 17 January 2015.