Light and Truth

“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.” (Psalm 43:3-4, HCSB)

How often do I pray this? How often do I ask for God’s light and His truth to guide me in the decisions I make day in and day out? I’ve found that when I’m faced with a large, life-changing decision (like whether to move my family to a new community and take on a new role as a lead pastor) I tend to ask for wisdom more often. But in those in-between-years, when life seems manageable and there are no world-altering decisions staring me in the face, my tendency is to run with my own ideas, thoughts, and plans without asking for light and truth from God first.

And, even when I do ask for wisdom from God, do I seek it? Do I ask God to just download light and truth into my brain like an app update, or do I ask God for guidance as I seek His light and His truth in His Word? Sometimes we ask God to speak or give us direction and wonder why He doesn’t answer when in reality, He put that wisdom just in front of us if we’ll look for it. Have your kids ever asked you for something, and you put it just out of their reach, so they’ll have to work to get it? Why do you do you that? Because when they work to get what you have given, it’s more meaningful; and sometimes it sticks more than if you just hand it to them.

God has given us tools to seek His wisdom. He has given us His Word. He has given us the ability to reason and think rationally. He allows us to have experiences that shape us and should teach us more about life. And, most importantly, He has given us His Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). But that truth doesn’t just come as an update or a new operating system. It’s not downloaded and installed in our brains while we sleep. When we pray for light and wisdom, we need to look for God’s answer using the tools, gifts, and opportunities He’s blessed us with. And as we seek Him, He will guide us into all truth.

My prayer for us this week as that God will send His light and His truth to lead us each day, and that we will have the discernment to see and hear His voice.


Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Wisdom Plans Ahead

So many of us spend hours and hours playing strategy games, where we have to think several moves ahead, and yet when it comes to real life, we simply live in the moment and fail to plan for the future. It’s wise to think about tomorrow today. That’s one thing Solomon teaches in Proverbs 27:23-27. We should think about the future, and intentionally change our actions today in light of that.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 1/21/2018.

Prayer for the Fools

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1, ESV)

We live in a society that largely has declared, “There is no God.” While it’s true that the majority of Americans claim to believe in God, it’s also true that the majority of Americans (including the majority of Christians in America) live as though God doesn’t exist. When we fail to acknowledge God, we not only overlook an entire Universe of evidence that He is real, we also reject the foundation of right and wrong. If there is no God, there is no morality–no real justice to build a society on.

We’ve all seen where the path of denying God leads. This is true whether we say He doesn’t exist, or whether we claim to believe and yet live as though He doesn’t matter. To deny or forget about God is to be a fool, and that will ultimately lead to “every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. [Those who ignore God] are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32, NIV).

Sadly those words are a pretty accurate description of our society. This week, let’s pray for the fools who deny God (knowing that sometimes we’ll be praying for ourselves when our actions fail to acknowledge the Lord).

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Wisdom Guards the Heart

This week at LakeView Church we started a new series from the Book of Proverbs called Wisdom for the New Year. Proverbs 4:20-27 has a message written by King Solomon over 3,000 years ago—a message that is still relevant today. The Bible is filled with wisdom that will help us discover God’s design for life and live according to His plan.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 1/7/2018.

A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

Ahhh, Christmas is finally over!  Now you can relax and… wait for all the bills to start dropping in!  For many people, the pressure of post-Christmas bills is greater the stress of the busy holiday season itself.  Credit card payments from Christmas spending pile onto the car payments, utilities, data plans, TV packages, mortgage (or rent), and all the other bills you already feel buried under.  Time for a change!  The Bible is immensely practical (among other things), and one of the most practical books in the Bible is Proverbs.

Proverbs, the book of wisdom, has much to teach anyone willing to learn about how to use money wisely.  Consider, for instance, Proverbs 27:23-27.  Verse 23 instructs a farmer, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.”  In this little passage of Scripture, the flocks and herds are the farmer’s livelihood.  It is wise for him to know how his flocks are doing.  How many sheep are there?  How many lambs will there be this year?  Do they have enough food?  How much wool will they produce this year?

Why is it important for the farmer to know the condition of his flocks?  Verse 24 gives us the answer.  “For riches do not last forever, and does a crown endure to all generations?”  What the farmer has today may be gone tomorrow.  Who knows whether a drought will wipe out his crops or a new king will tax him into the ground?  Verse 25 teaches the farmer to carefully manage his pastureland and crops in order to ensure his flocks have enough food to last the winter.  And verses 26-27 describe the benefits of his work: when the future comes–whatever it brings, the flocks will provide wool, milk, and meat (think income).

In these verses, we find three very important principles for how to use money wisely.  (1) Know your spending.  (2) Plan your spending.  (3) Control your spending.

Know your spending.

I’m always a little amazed at how many people don’t “know well the condition” of their finances.  So many people have no idea how much money they spend on gas, TV, groceries, coffee, eating out, entertainment, etc.  They get to the end of the month and wonder, “Where did it all go?”  The first time I monitored my spending I was shocked.  I had no idea how much money I was wasting on little things, and quickly realized why I was struggling to pay my bills.  One of the most valuable things you can do financially is track your spending.

Plan your spending.

You will either control your money or your money (and your bills) will control you.  Knowing what you spend your money on is good, but it’s not much help unless you also “give attention” to how you’re going to spend your money.  You need a budget (yes, I said the “b-” word).  If you don’t create a budget, you’ll waste money, and when life throws you a curveball, you won’t have any resources to get you through.  There are many budgeting tools available, and I use a program called “You Need A Budget” that both tracks my spending and helps me plan it each month.

Control your spending.

This third principle is super-simple, yet almost no one does it (especially the government).  The basic idea is this: spend less than you make.  If I bring home a paycheck of $1500, and I spend $2000, what happens?  I end up $500 short, which I probably end up putting on a credit card.  If I do that every paycheck, pretty soon I’m going to be thousands of dollars in debt with little hope of ever digging out.  But what if I make $1500 and I only spend $1250?  I end up $250 ahead.  Do that for a little while and pretty soon I’ll have thousands of dollars in the bank!  As simple as it is, it’s not easy.  It means saying no to some things you want.  It means saving to pay cash for something instead of putting it on a credit card.  It might mean canceling your ESPN package so you can pay your water bill, or downgrading your data plan so you can actually give a tithe (10% of your income) to your church.

Here’s my challenge to you as we approach the New Year.  Consider the practical wisdom of the Book of Proverbs when it comes to money.  Either you will master your money or your money will master you.  In a notebook, track and know all your spending this month, even little purchases.  Mark which items were unnecessary expenses, and prioritize.  Download a budget worksheet from Google and plan your spending for the next month.  Then, stick to your budget.  Control your spending and it won’t control you!  And, when you get the chance, give a little of what God has blessed you with to someone in need (ask your pastor for ideas).

How Christians Should Use Social Media

Proverbs 8:1–7 (ESV)

1 Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?

2 On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:

4 “To you, O men, I call,
and my cry is to the children of man.
5 O simple ones, learn prudence;
O fools, learn sense.

6 Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right,
7 for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

For the record, I’m not a big fan of social media.  Most of what I see online is exceptionally narcissistic, rude, profane, trying to sell something or push a political agenda.  However I do use social media because I believe Christians should.  In the verses above from Proverbs 8, we see biblical reasoning for both why and how to utilize Facebook and other social media outlets as Christians.

These words are part of a speech given by “Lady Wisdom,” the very personification of wisdom in the Book of Proverbs.  She is going to teach people how to be wise and she is inviting them to come listen and learn.  Notice where she goes to make her speech (see vv. 2-3)?  She goes to the heights of the road, the crossroads, the city gates, the entryways.  She goes where the conversations of her day are taking place.  She goes where the people who need to hear her message can be found.

That’s exactly why Christians need to be on social media.  We need to go where the conversations of our day are taking place.  We need to go where the people who need to hear the gospel can be found.  That’s social media.

Christians need to be on Facebook and Twitter because that’s where the people who need to hear our message exchange ideas.

The verses above also give us some pointers about how to use social media in a Christian way.  We’ve looked at who is speaking and where she’s giving her speech.  Now consider what Lady Wisdom says in vv. 4-7.  She says that her speech will teach “prudence” to the simple and “sense” to fools. She will speak “noble things” that are “right” and her words will be words of “truth.” Not only will she speak these things, she will also avoid “wickedness” in what she says.

How can we learn from Lady Wisdom in what we post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc, etc, etc? Harness the power of social media for ministry, not narcissism! I’m not saying you shouldn’t post pictures or personal updates, but think of Facebook as a tool you can use to encourage people, share the gospel, and shine a light of hope in a dark world. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Post Scripture.  A verse or two from your daily reading is great.
  2. Post prayers.  When someone shares they are struggling, instead of posting something generic like, “Praying for you,” actually post a short prayer.  “Lord, please give my friend peace and be with him at this time.”
  3. Post positive stories about how God has helped you or a friend.
  4. Avoid attacking people through social media.  I’ve seen relationships destroyed when people took an argument to Facebook.  It’s awful and embarrassing.
  5. As Christians we should also avoid attacking other Christians we disagree with.  There is a time and place for Christians to debate theology and politics, but Facebook is not it!  Fighting with each other online not only makes us look petty, it gives our whole movement a bad name in the eyes of unbelievers.
  6. Don’t be arrogant.  Just because you know Jesus is the light of the world doesn’t mean everyone knows that.  Avoid being a religious know-it-all jerk.
  7. Think before you post.  How will your post affect others?  How will it make you look?  How will it make your family look?  How will it affect your job?  How will it affect your church?  What will others think about your faith in Christ when they read your post?
  8. Avoid liking, posting, re-posting or sharing things that are full of trash, profanity, perversity, or a message that is contrary to the gospel.

You may not like Facebook, but the fact is, that’s where the people are. Instead of seeing social media as an annoyance or an opportunity for narcissism, why not use Facebook and other social media sites as a tool for encouraging people, sharing the love of Christ, spreading the Word of God, and proclaiming the greatest story and the best news to ever hit the “Timeline” of human history?