An excerpt from Dr. Stan’s book “Walk in Wisdom”
Living Life As God Intended – by Intention
I had a thought the other day. I know that it could have been caused by bad pizza, but it seemed profound to me. Here it goes…
The ability to do all that we are capable of doing is wrapped up in our DNA from the time of conception. Of course, this does not guarantee that we will achieve our fullest potential, and who is to judge that but God? In similar fashion, the ability to be all that we can be in Christ is already in us by virtue of the DNA of God (Christ in us, the hope of glory; the Holy Spirit living in us). To achieve the fullness of God’s intended plan for us is not determined by an accident of birth, but requires our acknowledgement (awareness) of the fact that we are truly a new creation in Christ. We can be and do all that He desires us to be and do through Him; if we have the correct guidance in what is healthy and appropriate action, develop strong discipline, make a conscious effort at good choices and maintain loving relationships in spite of failures along the way (inevitable consequences of living). In other words, living life fully requires wisdom!
A Simple Testimony
Shortly after I opened my heart to the Lord at age 12, I met with my Pastor Lee Speakman. He instructed me to develop some disciplines that would become lifelong pursuits. He stated that in order to grow in one’s faith, there were four primary building blocks requiring daily attention; reading the word of God, prayer, fellowship and witnessing. I took these concepts to heart and began diligently and consistently to lay these building blocks down in my life.
The book of the bible that intrigued me the most was the book of Proverbs. I heard a sermon on the prayer of Solomon. He asked the Lord for wisdom rather than riches and power, it was a prayer gladly granted by the Lord. After hearing this message, I too prayed the prayer of Solomon. Following Solomon’s early example, I pursued God with the hope of avoiding his later lifestyle by learning to practice what I would eventually preach, while enjoying the blessings of God (see Ecclesiastes 3).
Well, I wish I could say I avoided the follies of youth based solely on my prayer, but I made my fair share of blunders. Yet, by the grace of God, I have learned a few things and have gained an appreciation for the simple act of submitting to the word of God. Developing a proper understanding of the word helped me to avoid early folly.
What is Wisdom?
Wisdom is defined as the quality of being wise; knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and the best means; discernment and judgment; discretion, sagacity (the quality of being discerning, sound in judgment, and farsighted), skill; dexterity.
I define wisdom from a biblical perspective, for the bible states that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and understanding, and we must seek it (see Proverbs 3:13-14; 4:7; 15:14…). Thus, from a biblical perspective wisdom is knowledge, or the accumulation of truth. This leads to understanding, or the “I know what to do,” added to application or activation = I do what I can and should do, or I live by faith in God and his word. Another way to state this is that wisdom is to do what God wants, which is generally revealed in the word of God, and more specifically revealed as we walk in daily faith, led by the Holy Spirit. It is not one or the other, either the word or the Spirit; but it is both the word and the Spirit. Both the word and the Spirit are needed to live the Christian life fully and joyfully. In the addendum at the end of this work, you will find an expanded definition of wisdom for those wanting to do deeper study.
Paul the apostle wrote in Ephesians 3:10-11,
“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Living in the manifold wisdom of God can mean that all of the inhabitants of heaven and earth, principalities and powers, workers of darkness, angels and demons, and all of the folks in between can be absolutely assured that Jesus is wisdom, and he has provided his wisdom to live life fully and completely to and through his church. Another view is that the Father, through the Son, empowered by the Holy Spirit, provided the multi-colored wisdom of God and made it accessible to his children. It is as though wisdom can be seen in a colorful display, such as red anger, blue days, green with envy or green pastures, light heartedness, dark days, etc. Of course, the color scheme of God is perfect and pure, not driven by mere emotion, but focused on our benefit and his glory. As we live our lives by God’s grace, we manifest God’s purposes. Through the Church, we learn wisdom, which is to:
Know him. This means much more than knowing about God. It really means to know his character and his desires for us; beginning with the knowledge that God is good, that he loves us, and has provided us with all that we need for an abundant life.
Trust him. This is a foundational truth that will be expounded upon shortly.
Live life to its fullest, for the glory of God. For all that God has created is for our enjoyment (in moderation, a commonsense principle of wisdom), for again, God is good, all the time, in spite of what life might throw at us.
Trust is the Foundation
“Proverbs 3:5, 6…”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on what you know, but in everything you do, give God thanks, and he will direct your path.”
The very first verse of scripture I memorized after giving my life to Christ was Proverbs 3:5, 6. I suppose the Lord knew that given my background and inclinations, I needed this verse more than others did. It is helpful to remember the steps of the righteous are put in order, or set straight by the Lord himself. So, we must remember:
Trust is the Key. In any relationship, human or divine, trust is an essential foundation. For how can one develop a relationship between two if one doubts the character or trustworthiness of the person they are relating to? A simple trust in the goodness of God, based upon all he has done for us, is a necessary first step in learning wisdom. The bible states “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (the first step in gaining wisdom; you have to know a few things); fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Thus, determining in our hearts to fear (trust) in the Lord is an important first step, one which cannot be minimized. Of course, it is not trust alone that matters, but it is…
Trusting in the Lord, for he is the only one who can be fully trusted. Most of us have been severely disappointed by past relationships, even well meaning, loving people can fail to meet our expectations, legitimate or not. Only the Lord, who never sleeps or slumbers, who is ever watching over us, who cares for us with an eternal and comprehensive love, can be fully trusted to have our backs in every situation, even when we are rebellious or foolish. He is trustworthy. He requires of us as his sons and daughters, that we learn to trust him fully in order to gain the multicolored wisdom of God. Our trust is to be in the Lord, and must flow from our hearts.
Trust him with all that we have and in all that we have. Our hearts, souls, minds and strength, with our time, talent and treasures, with our hopes and dreams, in our fears and lack, we trust him in everything. This is demonstrated by giving thanks, not for everything, but in every and all circumstances. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it can be done. God would not dangle a promise before us that we had no hope of achieving with his help. Finally,
Recognize the limitations of our own experience, or the experience of our mamas or daddies. Our friends, family, and even spiritual leaders are all limited in their knowledge and wisdom; especially in regards to the personal life of one of God’s uniquely created women or men.
What God promises, he will fulfill, but of course, we must make sure we have clearly heard a promise, knowing it is from him, in a still small voice or from his word; more on this below.
Blessings Follow Because you are Blessed
One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in Romans 8:31-39:
“What then shall we say to these things? (The reality is that we have been adopted into the family of God, and are now co-heirs with Christ). If God be for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (including, and especially wisdom). Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God (and we with him, see Ephesians 2:6), who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written ‘for your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We have all blessings already in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), but we must appropriate them, which is done by faith. For example, we have the blessed knowledge of kingdom life, depicted by Paul the apostle as righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thus, if we are to have the peace that passes understanding, then we must stand in the knowledge of our right standing in Christ. We are forgiven, cleansed, delivered, and made right; and we must also work to have a right relationship with our spouse, our children, friends, etc. Knowing that we are forgiven and thus righteous before God through Christ is wonderful, but peace will escape us if we are not in a healthy relationship with others (love God, love your neighbor as yourself). Further, we are told, “our God will supply all our needs.” (Philippians 4:19). This presupposes that we are generous in heart and wallet, which is difficult if not nearly impossible if we have nothing to give, which is the case if we sit and vegetate rather than working diligently; well I assume you get the point. All blessings are some of the many conditional promises of God. They are conditional based upon a number of things, such as time and chance, and our willingness to cooperate with the principles found in the Word of God.
The beginning of Vision International University was first birthed in the hearts of Dr. Ken and wife Alison Chant. Listen as Ken recounts the humble start and the meeting of two like minded chaps, long from the Australian shore, in San Diego. The rest is history, Vision history that is.
Our topic of the month is wisdom, and who is better suited to share a bit of insight from his vast array of knowledge than our own Dr. Chant. Please enjoy his article, Provident Pastors.
A recent survey taken in the Australian denomination in which I hold my credential, showed that the average tenure of its pastors is about 7 years! Since the survey included pastors like myself (in ministry for more than 60 years), it showed that many pastors, after beginning with high hopes and sparkling dreams, abandon the rôle within much less than 7 years! Here are some thoughts that may help to extend those years greatly, not only for pastors, but for every servant of God, beginning with the question –DOES GOD WANT US TO SUCCEED? See Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:3; 118:35; Isaiah 65:21-22; John 15:15-16; 3 John 2, which all, along with many other passages, promise prosperity to everyone who serves the Lord with joyful zeal.
BUT WHAT IS “SUCCESS”? Mark this: godly success is not the same as “fame”! We have no guarantee of renown, but we have been promised success, which comprises three things –Completing the work the Father has given me to do ( Psalms 40:7-8). Never forget that a Christian can be called “successful” only when he or she has discovered the will of God and done it! Not more than God wants (which is arrogant presumption); nor less than God wants (which is lazy unbelief); but simply what God wants. Fulfilling the potential of my own being. If God had wanted me to be someone else, he would have made me that person! Don’t waste time and effort trying to be someone you are not, and will never be. Follow Paul’s admonition and think neither too high nor too low of yourself. Rather, have a sober knowledge of just who you are and who you are not (Romans 12:3). Hence, there are things you may reasonably expect to achieve; and there are things you will never achieve, no matter how much you fast, pray, sacrifice, and toil.
Focusing on character, not achievement. Think about Paul’s exhortations to Timothy and Titus – how little he was interested in their material success compared with his passionate concern that they should always display the beauty and grace of Christ. Yet, for all that, we must work, and work well, and work successfully. How shall we do it?
I could cite many references, but one of the most colorful is Proverbs 6:6-11.
Know when to rest (Mark 6:31); the Lord will hardly be pleased if you wear yourself out and arrive at the Golden Gates decades before your time! One way to avoid working yourself to death is to avoid taking yourself too seriously. –
Then let us mock with ancient mirth this comic, cosmic plan;
The stars are laughing at the earth; God’s greatest joke is man.
For laughter is a buckler bright, and scorn a shining spear;
So let us laugh with all our might at folly, fraud, and fear.
Yet on our sorry selves be spent our most sardonic glee;
Oh don’t pay life the compliment to take it seriously.
For he who can himself despise, be surgeon to the bone,
May win to worth in other’s eyes, to wisdom in his own!
Likewise, Lord Byron, in Lines to Mr. Hodgson (written while sailing to Lisbon), insists that life is just a cosmic joke –
Breezes foul and tempests murky,
May unship us in a crack,
But since life at most a jest is,
As Philosophers allow,
Still to laugh by far the best is,
Then laugh on – as I do now! (Lines 67-72)
For the same reason, Oscar Wilde voiced his paradox – “life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it” – which is more true than most people want to believe. Part of the problem with the church is that Christians have a view of themselves and their mission that is much too inflated – remember that the Lord can actually do quite well without any of us! – “I tell you (said Jesus) that God can make as many children as he wants out of these stones!” (Matthew 3:9). Shall we then treat life and ministry flippantly? God forbid! We are engaged in the noblest task in the world; we are about the King’s business! Yet the task is so immense, and we are so inadequate, that the only sensible thing to do is laugh!
Do you remember the time when Jesus found his disciples filled with happiness for the wrong reason (because their ministry had been successful), he rebuked them! (Luke 10:20). He knew well enough that they would not always succeed as preachers; but there was no reason why they should ever fail as Christians!
Be done with the frantic frenzy of ambition, nor ever confuse it with a God-given vision. Human ambition tends to stress and despair. A divine vision is an easy yoke and a light burden! (Mathewt 11:30).
O sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains pil’d on mountains, to the skies?
Heav’n still with laughter thy vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Indeed, it is imperative to learn the difference between a God-born vision and mere earthy ambition.
Develop a sound money policy −
• don’t borrow if you can avoid it
• never borrow beyond the value of your assets
• borrow only if you can earn (in cash or value) more than the money costs
• maintain a generous spirit.
Thus you will make money your servant, not your master!
James Boswell once asked Dr Samuel Johnson what works of Richard Baxter he should read. Johnson replied: “Read any of them, they are all good!” Then he added–Get as much force of mind as you can. Live within your income. Always have something saved at the end of the year. Let your imports be more than your exports, and you’ll never go far wrong. In the same vein, focus on what you can do well, and find others to act where your skills are at best mediocre or at worst non-existent. Remember the precept: “you can achieve almost anything in life if you don’t care who gets the glory!”
Oh thoughtless Mortals! ever blind to Fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate! We must all learn the mental discipline that will hinder us from being too glad when we win and too glum when we lose −If you can dream – and not make dreams your master; If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two impostors just the same You’ll be a man my son! Or, as Paul said, “Whatever happens, always keep a cool head!” (2 Timothy 4:5) And crown each day with steadfast believing prayer (Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:4, 14).
Hearing Her Voice in a Noisy World
An excerpt from Kathy’s new book.
There are many voices in the world. Although many other versions translate the word voices as languages, the King James Version is more true to the original Greek word in this verse… it means voices or sounds.
I am reminded of a country song that recently became a hit, the title of the song is, “Noise.” The song was recorded by Kenny Chesney. As one listens to the lyrics, the subject of noise, which includes voices, is addressed. In many ways, he is speaking a similar truth; in the world there are many sounds and many voices, in his own modern day vernacular he sings:
“Wrecking balls, downtown construction
Bottles breaking, jukebox buzzing
Cardboard sign says the lord is coming
Tick, tick, tock
Rumors turn the mills back home
Parking lot kids with the speakers blown
We didn’t turn it on but we can’t turn it off, off, off
Sometimes I wonder how did we get here
Seems like all we ever hear is
Yeah we scream, yeah we shout ’til we don’t have a voice In the streets, in the crowds, it ain’t nothing but noise Drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy”
As the song reiterates, all we ever hear is noise. We did not turn it on, but we can’t turn it off. The noise, and the multitude of voices in the streets and in the crowds, can drown out the sound of our own voice and thoughts.
Another verse from this song reads like this:
“Every room, every house, every shade of noise
All the floors, all the walls, they all shake with noise
We can’t sleep, we can’t think, can’t escape the noise
We can’t take the noise, so we just make
Noise, as this song suggests, threatens to drown out our hopes and dreams. We find ourselves surrounded on every side, day in and day out, with the sound of noise, and the sound of a multitude of voices.
1 Corinthians 14:10 states that all voices are significant, but we need to understand that some voices will lead us astray; they will lead us down the wrong path. We cannot come into agreement with every voice that we hear. There are many voices in the world.
I am reminded of the scene at a local fair or an amusement park. Walking down the midway there is booth after booth of games that one can play to win a prize. At each booth a barker calls to entice us to play the game. Wisdom tells us that we cannot respond to each one that calls, they would merely rob us blind for a couple of stuffed animals.
Wisdom has a voice; but discerning her voice can be challenging. There are so many other voices. There are the voices of our parents, children, or a spouse. There are the voices of employers, friends, neighbors, politicians, teachers and government officials. They vie for our attention and place a demand on our time, our energy, and our emotions.
Some have our best interest at heart, others have more personal agendas. They seek to be heard. They desire to influence; they desire to impart their own wisdom and knowledge, they desire to challenge one’s sense of reason. Some wish to make a withdrawal from your person; your time, energy, emotions, or resources. If they are making a withdrawal, what is it, if anything, they have deposited? Do they take without giving, or do they give without taking? Or is the relationship mutually beneficial?
The Voice of Reason
Reason has a voice of her own with which she speaks. She may borrow the voice box of your mother, teacher, or employer, but nevertheless she speaks through whichever vessel that she can.
Have you never been confronted by someone who wanted to talk sense into you? This confrontation may have been triggered by a disagreement with an opinion you voiced, or by one of your decisions or actions. They often begin with, you must listen to reason… what you are doing is not right. The voice of reason can be a weighty opponent indeed.
Proverbs 28:26 The righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
But the way of the wicked leads them astray.
In the world there are many sights, sounds, and voices.
Paul, in Acts 21:12 – 14, found himself being advised by friends who loved and cared for him.
12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”
The counsel of friends was just and reasonable. Their intentions good, they cared. The voice of reason spoke through the voice of friends. They warned him, do not go to Jerusalem; yet Paul refused to heed the voice with which reason spoke. Was he wrong? Of course not, he heard the voice of wisdom speak and so he responded.
In Number 13 and 14 twelve spies were sent into the promised land by Moses and told to return with a report. Ten spies returned with a discouraging report, but two came back encouraged. Hearing the fear of the ten spies, the people rebelled and refused to go any further. The voice of reason had spoken and they listened.
Reason’s Voice may Contradict What You Know in Your Heart
I have heard the voice of reason speak many times, and often what she says makes total sense, and I go with it. But then, there are times that she contradicts something I already know in my heart, something spoken by another voice.
One such occasion was when I first began contemplating international ministry, and even more recently, when I was preparing to go to Austria. A person close to me, one who was concerned about my own personal wellbeing, called to speak to me. We had a conversation regarding my decision to go to Austria to teach. They advised me that it was not safe and there was no significant purpose for me to go to a foreign land to teach. After all, there were plenty of opportunities in the states, and even in California to do ministry. There are plenty of people who need help and teaching right here in the good old US of A, and there is no reason to travel abroad; after all, it costs too much money.
I knew that the voice spoke their own truth, and had arrived at their opinion through facts that could be substantiated. They spoke the truth as they knew it. The voice of reason had made her case. However, I had already heard another voice; one that spoke directly to my heart.
She spoke her truth, and what she spoke was of far greater significance than anything the voice of reason had to say. It was the voice of wisdom that had called to me to go to the nations and teach. I had heard her speak, and knew in my heart, that I needed to go.
We are confronted on every side, from without and within, by voices vying for our attention.
In a multitude of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 24:6), but we must have the wisdom to know the difference between good counsel and bad. We cannot respond to every voice that speaks. Some speak out of ignorance; others seek fulfillment of their own agendas, not ours. We need to filter the sounds that we hear, to know the one with which wisdom speaks.
If one wanted to watch the news they may turn to Fox or CNN. If they wanted to follow sports they would turn to ESPN. If they wanted to learn more about cooking, perhaps the Food Network would be helpful. Where do you turn to hear the voice of wisdom?
Isaiah 30:21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Wisdom has a voice; do you have an ear to hear what she speaks to your heart?
Kathy is the Director of Vision Publishing and the Communication Coordinator for Vision International. She is the author of three books: Treasures of the Heart, Wisdom Speaks, and Effective Pastoral Care in the Local Church.
We have a three book bundle for you this month for a limited time and the topic is wisdom. See all of the product descriptions below:
Walk In Wisdom –Wisdom is the principle thing, get wisdom. Walk in Wisdom, based upon the 2013 sermon series preached at Pastor Gary and Gina Holley’s Fontana Christian Center International Ministries, in Fontana, California. The focus of the book is to provide insight into the important topic of wisdom.
Author — Dr. Stan DeKoven
Regular Price is $9.95
Journey to Wholeness — Dr. DeKoven, a professional counselor & educator, presents through a typology of child development, a process for growth and change. That all God’s children are to process through. The three stages of growth are: -The Intimate Relationship -The Healing Community -The Compassionate Life
Author: Dr. DeKoven
Regular Price: $19.00
Wisdom Speaks, Hearing Her Voice in a Noisy World —No one sets out in life to fail. No one puts failure on their bucket list. No one wants to be known as a failure. Yet a certain amount of failure is inevitable. Failure is not who we are, but merely an unfortunate situation through which we must walk; it is a circumstance, not an identity. We can choose to make set backs and mistakes a mere stepping stone to a successful and prosperous future.
Author: Kathy Smith
Regular Price: $8.95