How to be wise–and a few applications

Everyone old enough to read should study the biblical book of Proverbs. This is the second installment in our series. (You can read the first one, here.) As you know, the book of Proverbs is mostly written as if Wisdom is a person. She talks to Solomon and tells him how to be wise. This book of the Bible is just as valid today as it was in Solomon’s times.

Let’s open Chapter 2 and see what kind of advice we find.

I love the first part. It says that in order to have wisdom the son needs to listen, incline his ear, apply his heart, and even cry after wisdom, knowledge and understanding (verses 1-3).

It goes further. The son is to search for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding as if it were silver (money) or hidden treasure (verse 4).

The benefits of looking for wisdom: understanding and respecting the Lord, finding the knowledge of God (knowing Him), and wisdom (verse 5).

The source of wisdom is the Lord and His Word. Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (6).

Again, we see the benefits of wisdom:

  • God is a shield (Protector).
  • He preserves our way.
  • When you have wisdom and knowledge in your heart, you’ll have discretion, understanding, and be delivered from evil (7-11).

There are two parentheses in Proverbs 2. One describes an evil man. Wisdom will deliver us from this kind of a person. The evil man speaks perverse things, leaves the good path and walks in the ways of darkness (13). He rejoices in evil and enjoys the perversity of wicked people. His ways are crooked and perverse. It’s not a pretty picture.

The next parenthesis is a portrait of an evil woman, obviously immoral and possibly a harlot. She flatters. She has forsaken her parents’ guidelines and forgotten the covenant of her God (17). Her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life (18-19). This speaks of the moral consequences that await someone who has a relationship with a prostitute or adulteress.

Proverbs 6 describes the same scenario this way: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent (6:24-29).

Proverbs 2 now admonishes the son to walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous (20). There’s a reward for good men.

The end of this chapter is a warning. The wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it (22).

How practical! We’ve learned the difference between evil men and women and the righteous. We’ve found out where to find wisdom—in the Bible—and its value and benefits.

May the Lord bless you, today!

Fiction review: Kill Order

I recently featured an interview with Author Adam Blumer, which you can access here. Today, I give you my review of his suspense novel, Kill Order.

The diagnosis is brain cancer, a tumor, operable but not curable. Landon Turner is a concert pianist. He’s already lost peripheral vision, and it appears he might lose his life. The only hope is in a “miracle worker surgeon,” one who claims to have healed others.

Can things get worse? As in most thrillers, they do. Instead of healing medicine, the surgeon implanted Landon’s brain with some kind of chip that enabled the bad guys to tell Landon what to do—even when he should be sleeping.

He wakes up with blood all over his clothes and turns himself in to the police. The officer takes him away, and soon, Landon realizes that this policeman is on the wrong side. He’s in league with the enemy—whoever that is.

Landon knows he must flee. He’s not sure how to escape, but he knows he will be killed—and maybe even kill others—if he doesn’t.

I’ll let you read the rest. I could hardly put this down. Kill Order is scary, exciting, full of action, and has heart. There’s everything: romance, spiritual growth, concerned parents, memory repression and recovery, and of course, the kill order.

I loved it, loved it, loved it.

Adam Blumer’s writing is excellent, and this plot will keep you turning pages until the very end—which is satisfying and leaves you thinking.

Rest Day Survey Results

Not long ago, I asked my friends to complete a totally anonymous survey about taking a rest day each week. First of all, thank you to the 58 friends who filled out my survey. I value your input.

Here are the results:

Do you take one day off each week?

  • Yes. 52%
  • No. 16%
  • Sometimes. 33%

If you do NOT take a day off, why not? (37 answered this question.)

  • No time. I work full-time and work at home when not working outside the home. 14%
  • I work seven days a week. 5%
  • I never really thought about taking a day off. 8%
  • Other. 73%
  • Comments:
  1. I am a housewife. How do you take a day off? We go out to eat on Sundays but Sunday is the biggest day as far as other activities.
  2. Needs often come up to change my schedule.
  3. I haven’t figured out how to take a day off from household duties. Hubby doesn’t take a day off.
  4. We try to take a day off … but one phone call can change that—and usually does.
  5. We don’t have a set day off, but we try to have some down time one or two afternoons a week.
  6. We do what we can’t on Saturday, if it needs to be done immediately.
  7. Sometimes something comes up in the ministry that does not allow me to take a day off.
  8. We usually work/do ministry at least a part of every day. We take time away for doctor appointments or to have meals with friends periodically.
  9. Too busy with homeschooling and ministry.
  10. Minstry schedule does not usually allow for a full day off. I try for a half day once a week, and the occasional full day when I can.
  11. We have not been intentional about it or sticking with it.
  12. It depends on what needs to be done.
  13. This rarely happens, but some weeks get so demanding with what others need that I can’t find one. I do sometimes try to keep half a day restful if this is the case.
  14. We try to take days off but there is always something that interrupts
  15. Mostly I do, but there are occasions that my job does not allow me a day off.

If you DO take a day off, which day is it?

  • Monday 40%
  • Tuesday 10%
  • Wednesday no one
  • Thursday 2%
  • Friday 10%
  • Saturday 14%
  • Sunday 25%

Do you believe that the Sabbath Day command in the Ten Commandments is for today?

  • Yes. 57%
  • No. 32%
  • I hadn’t thought about it. 11%

Answer only if you are in a ministry family: do you take a different day off, since Sundays are very busy for you? (46 answered this question.)

  • Yes. 74%
  • No. 7%
  • Sometimes. 20%

If you do NOT regularly take a day off, how do you rest? (36 answered this question.)

  • We take short holidays. 28%
  • We enjoy our vacation once or twice a year. 17%
  • Other. 56%
  • Comments:
  1. I do not feel like I am overworked. Our ministry is quite small. I feel like this survey is better given to the husband than the wife. The problem, of course, is that, “What is work?” Is doing laundry work? Is answering a personal message work? Is asking someone on social media how their dog is doing work?
  2. Daily rest periods and Sunday afternoon naps.
  3. Try to take one day off but if the day has to be changed I can’t go too long without some alone time.
  4. I take rests on days I feel overwhelmed. Take a nap read a book watch a movie.
  5. Rest at home.
  6. (A foreign missionary) We don’t rest enough and came back to the States this furlough completely exhausted.
  7. I try to take a couple of hours here and there. Sometimes I sleep in so I can get caught up.
  8. We take half day breaks as necessary to do errands or appointments. We also have a coffee out at least once a week.
  9. By staying at home.
  10. We take a half-day on Monday and half-day on Friday, which allows my husband to answer necessary correspondence or “clean up” issues from Sunday on Monday morning, and then we do something as a family. We mostly have a four-day homeschool week but we do math and English on Monday morning while Daddy is “working.” We do usually sleep in, have brunch and dinner only, and take a relaxed approach to the day. Also regarding the sabbath question we observe it as a command to rest and cease from our everyday labors, but it’s not always the same day or a 24-hour period. It does include fixing meals and such, but I try to avoid other housework like laundry and bills and shopping.
  11. I do take short vacations. And Saturday evening through Sunday evening, I try to have the Internet off and not be doing prep work for ministry. I might be teaching Sunday School on Sunday morning or doing something with ladies Bible Study on Saturday, but all my studying and printing etc. will be done ahead to not be last-minute frenetic, to set my heart ready for church. I (usually) do not go on social media during that time. If I were elsewhere, it would be more feasible to have a full Internet fast, but needing the Internet for communications, and with different time zones, I don’t adhere to that. But I do not actively seek out online recreation/time.
  12. Although I do take a day off from ministry related work, my day “off” is spent doing laundry, housework, and grocery shopping. What is rest?
  13. Some weeks it’s Monday some weeks it’s Thursday. We try to have some down time each week.
  14. Sad to say, we don’t do much.
  15. We try to find days or moments here and there to rest, but dedicating an entire 24-hour period is very difficult in our cross-cultural ministry. We try to set reasonable boundaries, but when someone calls or texts or stops by and needs something, we don’t tell them that we can’t because it’s our day off. We honor Sundays as special days for service and worship, but Sundays are very busy and tiring for us most of the time. I don’t believe the actual laws for honoring the Sabbath are for today, but the principle of setting aside a day for worship and reflection/rest in the Lord still stands.
  16. Sit at home in quiet and read, take a book on a hike to get away, enjoy time with friends. (I’m single, so sometimes being around people is restful and calming for me.)
  17. We take a day off each week and a bit longer breaks a few times throughout the year.

As you can tell, my friends are all over the place on this question. Some take time off regularly, and some don’t. Many ministry friends are willing to change their schedule and go help people at the drop of a hat. Two asked the valid question, “What is rest?”

Well, what is rest?

The dictionary definition is: “cause (someone or something) to stop doing a particular activity or stop being active for a period of time in order to relax and get back your strength.” Cambridge Dictionary.

To me, the next important question is about the Sabbath rest. Is this a principle for today—or not?

I was brought up in a family that always attended church on Sundays. We also had several rules for that day. One was that it was usually spent at home and with some kind of rest. It might mean playing games with our grandparents, taking naps, or reading a book, but there was no raucous behavior permitted. From my junior high years on, we attended evening services at church, and that cut our afternoon time to a minimum, especially since we sang in the choir and had a practice before the service.

When I was in college, because of the demands of studies—many quizzes on Mondays—I found it hard to rest at all on Sundays.

As a newly married couple, my husband and I had to figure out our own preferences for Sunday. I remember being in a pastor’s home on a Sunday afternoon, and he turned on the TV to watch a football game. Neither my husband nor I had “indulged” in watching sports on Sundays before. My husband and I had a conversation about this afterwards.

Is it okay to do things on Sundays—or not?

Let’s look into the principle of the Sabbath rest in the Bible and see if we can come to some kind of a conclusion. Are you ready?

The Fourth Commandment says, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).

This is the Old Testament Law, and it explains exactly what was expected: people and even load-bearing beasts were expected not to work on the Sabbath Day—which was Saturday. It was a holy day, meant for worship.

Further, Exodus 31:15b says, whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Let’s go to the New Testament now.

Matthew 12:1- tells the story of Jesus’ disciples plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. The Pharisees saw this and criticized them to Jesus for breaking the Jewish law and “working” on the Sabbath. Jesus answered them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day (verses 3-8). So, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and even in the Old Testament, there were times when people broke these laws but were blameless.

Matthew 12 continues to address this subject: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him (Jesus), saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days (verses 10-12). Here, we see that Jesus says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.

There was a blind man, and Jesus made clay and healed him on the Sabbath. Again, the Pharisees were critical. They said, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them (John 9:16; Complete story in verses 6-16).

After the resurrection of Jesus, believers began to gather for worship on the first day of the week, Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

The Apostle Paul addresses convictions about eating meat offered to idols and the Sabbath in Romans 14. I believe it’s important for us to know what the Bible says. (I’ll skip the part about food.) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it…. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:5-12).

What a concept! If you make Sunday a special rest day or if you don’t, you are responsible to God alone for your actions. No one should judge you whether you do or don’t. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

We find this same teaching in another passage: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days (Colossians 2:16).

The truth is, everyone needs to rest, or they will burn out physically. It’s also true that the New Testament leaves it up to you how you observe Sundays and when you relax.

Thoughts?  Please feel free to comment.

Women of the Bible 9: Who am I?

I became a believer just beyond the city walls. There were regular services with Jewish God-fearing people, meeting beside the river on the Sabbath day. Women sat on one side, and men on the other. On this particular Sabbath, a teacher approached our women’s group, sat down, and clearly shared the good news of Jesus with us. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but God opened my understanding. I felt so dirty and unworthy because of my sins. The way the teacher explained what Jesus did for me, I could only cry out to Him for my soul’s salvation.

My heart was unburdened in that moment. Joy and peace filled me, and I began to praise God. It wasn’t long before my whole household believed in Jesus as Messiah. I was baptized, and so were they.

I am fortunate to be a woman of means. Knowing Jesus makes me want to serve Him. One way I do this is by opening my spacious home to God’s servants. I began showing hospitality to the teacher who led me to Christ, along with those traveling with him.

When I opened my home and my heart, believe me, I received more from my visitors than I could ever have given. The talk around my table—teaching, laughter, sharing blessings and experiences—I learned so much from my new brothers and sisters in Jesus.

Not long after my decision to follow Christ, two of the teachers were jailed in my city. They were flogged and locked in a cell, their feet clamped in irons. They actually sang and praised God after experiencing that. Instead of bitterness, they demonstrated their joy in Jesus. That’s not all. These two men used the opportunity to preach to the other prisoners. Hurting and bleeding and not able to move, they cared for other peoples’ souls.

God honored their faithfulness and sent an earthquake. I felt it in my home. Water sloshed in the fountain, and a large oil jar tipped over and broke. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of oil in that pot, and that was the extent of it. Apparently, the earthquake inside the city was strong enough to free all the prisoners. The prison keeper saw that the gates were open and was about to kill himself, surmising that all had run away.

But the prisoners hadn’t left. They called out to the jailor. He was later saved when he listened to the gospel. When he invited the teacher to come to his home, the prison keeper’s family and household were saved—just as mine had been. The jailor washed the teachers’ stripes and cared for them.

Unfortunately, the governors expelled the teachers from our city. They lodged at my house outside the wall, where one of my servants tended to their physical needs until they were well enough to travel again. All the while, the teachers invited our church members into my home and comforted them. These men were suffering, yet they comforted others.

What a blessing it has been to host these men of faith!

Who am I?

Outside which city do I live?

I’m a working woman. What do I do for a living?

Who were the two teachers that went to jail?

What spiritual lesson can we learn from my story?

And, for added credit, do you think this biblical woman was married, a widow, or single–and why?

Fundamental rights

My country’s Constitution states, “all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”*

Today, I keep hearing about other “fundamental human rights,” such as:

  • freedom from slavery and torture
  • right to have an abortion
  • freedom of expression and opinion
  • freedom of movement
  • right to a fair trial
  • 4G Internet service
  • freedom of religion
  • right to work
  • LGBTQ etc. rights
  • right to education
  • freedom from discrimination
  • travelers’ rights
  • right to personal ownership
  • right to marriage and family

While many of these should be included in basic human rights, some shouldn’t for various reasons, for example: should all people of the earth expect 4G Internet service as a fundamental right? For many of us, we can only dream of fast Internet. Many of my friends live in third-world countries, where they’re fortunate to have electricity. Yet, I’ve never heard of the right to reliable electrical service or the right to clean water or the right not to have to soak veggies in a special solution. How about the right to nutritious food? I didn’t find that in anyone’s list.

Years ago, I read a book titled, Have We No Rights? by Mabel Williamson, who was a missionary in China. It is thought provoking. She discusses the issue of being willing to give up all personal rights for the spreading of the gospel. I decided both to agree and disagree with her.

The Apostle Paul referred to his rights as a Roman citizen, and we know Jesus and Peter paid taxes. God gives authority to governments.

Do Christians have fundamental rights?

I think so. We have the rights afforded to us by our government, companies, and laws worldwide. We have rights as citizens. Citizens can appeal to government leaders, embassies, and other entities and ask for protection and help. Persons can take matters to court, if need be.

We have rights as Christians, as well. The right to:

  • prayPray without ceasing (1 Thesalonians 5:17).
  • exercise our faithAnd herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men (Acts 24:16).
  • follow ChristAnd he (Jesus) said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).
  • meet with others in a local churchNot forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Hebrews 10:25a).
  • give a personal testimony of God’s graceFor we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).

Some governments prohibit a Christian’s owning a Bible and exercising one’s faith in public, especially meeting together with other believers. The Christian must then choose whether to obey God or man and, if necessary, pay the cost of non-compliance. About sharing the gospel, Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We see examples of this all through the New Testament. Some paid the ultimate price. Hebrews says of those tortured, exiled, and killed for their faith: the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38a).

No one can take prayer and a relationship with the Lord from a Christian, since the Holy Spirit dwells in his heart. This intimacy between a believer’s heart and God is what being in Christ is all about.

A Christian also has the right to live his daily life to please God—every day. Whatever the cost, he can choose to obey the Lord.

Do Christians have rights?

Yes, I think so.

* Constitution of the United States.