Tag Archives: wisdom

Nuggets of Hope 23 – Keeping the Peace

The job of a hockey official is not always easy – especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs which we are currently missing. One of the more challenging aspects is keeping the peace between opposing players who get a bit hot under the collar in the heat of the game.

The COVID-19 pandemic, like a hockey game, could be likened to a battle between two opposing forces. But as with a hockey game, there are often various secondary skirmishes that take place on the sidelines. People have different points of view on the origins of the virus; the actions of government, public health and law enforcement officials; the wearing of masks; the rules for social distancing; the extent to which one should disinfect all surfaces – and they express them with great passion and conviction. This often leads to useless arguments.

Christians are not immune from such conflicts. We can get drawn into them like anyone else. Writing to the church in Colossae, Paul had this to say on how to avoid needless and unproductive quarrels.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15)

The literal meaning of the Greek word for “rule” refers to the function of a referee or umpire in an athletic contest. Part of the assignment of officials at sporting events is to keep the players from fighting with each other. Hockey officials usually do this by trying to talk the players down. However the players don’t always listen. Sometimes they just seem to be intent on a fight.

Handled constructively, the expression of different points of view can serve a positive purpose. Unfortunately, some are so committed to making their point that their statements are like declarations of war, seemingly calculated to provoke an explosion. Even those who frame their comments in an entirely reasonable tone find that they sometimes land in a minefield of emotion and the result can be a raging conflict.

I have learned that although I have freedom of speech, it’s wiser to remain silent when a productive dialogue seems impossible to achieve. Even valid insights are of little value if they are hurled at others like weapons of warfare – or even if they are uttered peaceably, but unlikely to be well-received because of the mental state of the hearer.

A wise man wrote that one who is able to rule his own spirit is better than one who can capture a city. I have found that when I take time to listen to Holy Spirit He always leads me into the peace of Jesus.

The other day I went for a bike ride after a long day. I was feeling worn down from work but also from hearing too much information and too many opinions. The Internet can do that to you, especially during a contentious time like this. I told Jesus that I needed Him to speak to me. I think He already knew that, but I needed to say it because I needed to position my heart to listen. It was a beautiful afternoon and as I cycled alongside farm fields, I saw a small bright yellow goldfinch flying just above the drainage ditch. The beauty immediately caused a prayer of thanks to rise from my heart.

I heard the Spirit ask me a question.

Who made all this?

You did, Lord.

The turmoil that I had been carrying in my heart subsided as I recognized the amazing wisdom and power of God that is displayed in His creation. I saw again that God, who made all things, will bring in His Kingdom in His time. He uses storms like the present COVID-19 crisis to bring the nations to submission. Some recognize this and some fight it. I am asking the Lord to discipline and instruct my heart so that I am quick to recognize His wisdom.

We have to choose to abide in the peace of Jesus. It doesn’t come automatically. We can choose to recognize His authority over our lives, and allow His peace to rule our thoughts. When we do this, the result is a fruitful life and open doors to share the life, peace and joy of Jesus with others. This is the wisdom on which I choose to build my life. Nothing else will last. His ways alone will endure.

Come, Lord Jesus.




Pride and Humility

Child of God, Abba is pleased when you do well, but He is not impressed with your pride in your abilities or accomplishments. Every ability is a gift from Him. He delights in humility. This is what attracts His favour.


Fear of the Lord

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fear of the Lord.

The immediate impetus for my reflections has been the recent spectacle of Canada’s political leaders playing games with each other, one threatening to bring down the government, another offering to prop it up, a third saying that disaster will strike our economy if the government falls.  The stated message is “we are doing this for the good of the country”, but all too often the truth is more like “we are doing this because we want to be in power”.  I wrote in a previous post that it is important for Christians to honour and respect our leaders as well as pray for them.  I still believe this, but sometimes honouring our leaders also means calling them to account.  It is a sad spectacle to see politicians of all stripes saying one thing and meaning another.   Sometimes honouring and respecting our leaders means saying “Come on folks, surely you can do better than this”.

But what does the fear of the Lord have to do with any of this?  Isn’t it some outmoded Old Testament concept, that got thrown out when Jesus died on the cross?  Well, no, it’s not.  The fear of the Lord is actually a truth that we badly need to rediscover.  The very fact that many North American Christians think it’s outmoded shows how much our Christianity has been watered down to accommodate popular culture.   If we’re going to hold our political leaders to account, we’d better also hold ourselves to account for the calibre of our church life and our personal walk with God.  A healthy understanding of the fear of the Lord can help us to do this.

Over and over, well over 200 times, the Scriptures instruct us to fear the Lord.  Interestingly enough, despite the use of the word “fear”, which we usually think of as negative, most of the references I checked promised great blessing to those who fear the Lord.

The Biblical meaning of the fear of the Lord is far more than just being afraid of God.   It is an attitude that stands in awe of God, that trembles at His power and holiness, but at the same time trusts in His goodness and mercy.  The fear of the Lord is associated with a worshipful disposition and approach to life, including :

The fear of the Lord is not just an Old Testament concept.  The description of the first Jerusalem church, immediately after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, describes these believers as walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit ! True conversion will produce a heart that is in awe of God.

But doesn’t the Bible also say that perfect love drives out fear?  Yes – but the fear that is driven out is the fear of punishment, not the fear of the Lord.  When we know that God loves us and has accepted us in Christ, we have peace with God, but this doesn’t mean that our hearts are no longer in awe of Him.   If anyone is inclined to doubt this, consider the example of the Apostle John.  He knew Jesus on earth as intimately as anyone.  Scripture calls him the disciple whom Jesus loved, indicating an especially close relationship.  He is also the one who wrote the words that perfect love drives out fear.  Yet in describing his vision of the risen and glorified Christ, he writes : I fell at his feet as though dead.  Although he had known Jesus intimately on earth, when he saw him in his heavenly glory he was terrified and had to be reassured that he was not going to die.   So apparently even apostles still have room for the fear of the Lord in their lives!

The Scriptures identify a number of excellent character qualities in the lives of those who fear the Lord – qualities such as hatred of evil, integrity, loyalty, humility, faithfulness, and wisdom.   Contrary to most of our contemporary politicians – and some church leaders, sad to say – leaders who lead in the fear of the Lord will not make decisions based on popular opinion, which the Bible describes as the fear of man.  They will not judge by outward appearances; instead they will make righteous decisions.  The ultimate embodiment of one who fears the Lord is the Messiah, Jesus, who is coming to govern the earth at the renewal of all things.

I am longing for his government – for the day when Jesus reigns on earth as King!  In the meantime I will continue to pray for my leaders – both in the church and in the world – that by God’s grace they would lead in the fear of God.  All of us who have any leadership position – small group leaders, ministry leaders at any level, heads of families, business owners, team leaders in workplaces – need to recognize that the position we hold is a trust from the Lord, that the people entrusted to us are precious to Him, and that we are accountable to the Lord for our leadership.   Whatever kind of work we are doing, we need to remember that we are doing it as unto the Lord, as people who are accountable to Him.   Far from being oppressive, this kind of awareness is liberating.   The fear of the Lord sets me free from the curse of meaningless – it invests everything I do with meaning and significance, because I am doing it in the light of eternity.


Wisdom and grace

God seems to have this habit of messing up my plans.   He seems to prefer His plans to mine … funny thing, He seems to think He can act like God …  This happens in many areas of my life, but at the moment I am thinking of this blog.  Just when I had a nice little pattern going  (I was going to write a well-planned series of posts on being made in God’s image – for His glory, of course) God kept interrupting my series by interjecting other topics !

The most recent interruption came in the form of the birth of my first grandchild, Sophie Grace, born yesterday.  So of course I have to blog about it – after all everyone brags on their grandchildren, don’t they?  And since she has been on the earth for a full day now, I can say without a doubt that Sophie is the smartest, nicest, cutest baby that ever lived …of course I haven’t seen her yet, but how could she not be?  She’s my granddaughter!

All kidding aside, I find this a very moving experience.  I once heard Ed Piorek say that our children are like arrows that God uses to get past our defenses and reach our hearts.   It seems to be the same with our grandchildren.  God is definitely using Sophie’s birth to speak to me.

Today was a busy day, full of necessary tasks that had been put off over the past couple of weekends.  At the end of a long day, needing to draw near to God, I picked up my guitar for a few minutes of worship.  I sensed such a hunger for the presence of God.  I desire a season of refreshing like – no, greater than – the one that was poured out on Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship 15 years ago in 1994, greater than the Jesus People revival of the 1960s and the charismatic renewal of the 1970s, greater than the Hebrides revival of 1949-1952, greater than – well, you get the picture.  I want my children and grandchildren – and the young adults that seem to have adopted Marion and me as spiritual mentors – to know God as He really is.   There are so many wonders in our generation that are invented by human ingenuity (even though that ingenuity came from the hand of an infinitely wise and loving Creator God).   I want my beautiful new granddaughter to know the wonders that point unmistakeably to God alone.

Sophie Grace is a beautiful name.   Sophie is derived from the Greek sophia, which means wisdom.   This evening when I was thinking about her name, I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

It sounds like a paradox, but true wisdom is to recognize that we aren’t wise at all.   True wisdom is to humbly recognize our dependency on God, and our need for a Saviour to wash us, cleanse us and heal our broken, sin-shattered hearts.  True wisdom is to recognize that we depend totally and completely on God’s grace – His amazing, undeserved kindness and generosity.  That’s the kind of wisdom that I pray my granddaughter Sophie will cultivate as she grows in faith – true wisdom that leads us to the grace of God.