Foolish and Stupid Arguments

Have you ever been in a foolish or stupid argument? I’m guessing you know what I mean — if you’re a human being, that is. I like how Dr. Emerson Eggerichs describes these kinds of disputes in his book Love and Respect. One person reacts to an event without love. This causes the second person to respond with disrespect. And thus “The Crazy Cycle” begins.

Dr. Eggerichs goes on to say, “The point is simple: Craziness happens when we keep doing the same things over and over with the same ill effect. Marriage seems to be fertile ground for this kind of craziness. Ironically, there are more books being published on marriage today than ever before… but with all our knowledge, the craziness continues” (Love and Respect, p. 29).

Intriguingly, when we look in the Bible we find that another fertile field for this kind of craziness also exists. It happens to exist in the church. Maybe that’s because the church is also “family.” We can so easily and inadvertently fall into the crazy cycle with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and keep on having the same foolish arguments over and over with ill effect.

As Paul writes this message, he realizes he is about to be martyred. So when he counsels a much younger pastor Timothy, he is giving him the benefit of his many years of leadership experience in the church. And he is doing this from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have much time left, so it pains him greatly to see anyone investing precious resources in the pursuit of foolishness.

“Don’t waste time and energy on quarreling over dumb things,” he advises Timothy. Paul was always up for a good fight when it involved important matters. He was not one to shy away from conflict by any means. But inane arguments and discussions? Paul tells Timothy: “Have nothing to do with them!”

“Replace an argumentative bent with kindness,” Paul encourages Timothy. “And don’t let anger take root in your heart. Because that will only lead to bitterness and long-term resentment.”

“When someone stands up to oppose you, be a gentle listener — a teacher who keeps his cool. Be firm, but very, very patient with those who refuse to listen to you.”

“After all,” Paul reminds Timothy, “God is intimately involved in all the affairs of his church. He is present. So we should always remember that God might wake them up and turn them around to see that what they are doing and saying is really from the devil. And then, with their eyes opened, they can escape the trap Satan has set for them.”

Great advice for the church in Paul’s day! And it remains wise counsel for us in the church (or the Christian family) of today!

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26, NIV).

Lord, I am sorry for all the time I’ve wasted in foolish and stupid arguments. Please forgive me, Jesus. Thank you for shedding your blood to forgive me for wasting valuable time. Help me to rid my heart of all bitterness and resentment. You had every right to stay angry with me forever, but you did not. You forgave me, as the prophet Micah proclaimed long ago: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, October 23, is Jeremiah 49:7 – 50:10, 2 Timothy 2:1-26 and Proverbs 25:21 – 26:2.

Header image based on "Argument" by Kurt Bauschardt, CC By-SA 2.0

Wisdom or Foolishness?

Enrollment in degree-granting post-secondary school institutions increased by 15 percent between 1992 and 2002. And in the ten years following that, enrollment increased an additional 24 percent, from 16.6 million to 20.6 million.

We are quickly becoming the most highly educated society in history. Just think about it. That’s not to mention all the resources available to us to gain knowledge on our own — resources like modern libraries, seminars, conferences, and especially the internet.

Sadly, much of this modern education exalts various forms of humanism. It holds that human thought and wisdom is all there is, and really all that is needed. It’s a full-on embrace of human reason and the things that human reason can produce — so much so that humanists typically have little need for God.

Paul dealt with the same struggle 2000 years ago — long, long before modern universities and the internet. Greeks exalted knowledge, wisdom and human inquiry. We still refer to the “Socratic Method” as great instructional methodology.

Certainly, Paul had no great beef with learning. He was a very learned man himself, perhaps one of the most learned of his day.

But he did put human reason in perspective. To Paul, human reason makes a great servant, and a lousy master. We can use our reason all we want in the service of God. Reason is a great tool to bring glory to God.

But once our human reason — the wisdom of this world — exalts itself over God’s reason that’s when the problems begin. When our human logic demands precedence and control over the revealed knowledge of God, then we soon find ourselves moving away from God. We are already on the way to being separated completely from our trust in God.

Why go that direction, Paul inquires. The important things are already ours, he emphasizes. Jesus is ours. And we are his. And that makes us God’s.

To put a slight twist on words Jesus once spoke, it’s really just foolishness to gain the knowledge of the whole university (or the whole internet, even), and forfeit your soul.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’ So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-23, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, August 7, is 1 Chronicles 24:1 – 26:19, 1 Corinthians 3:1-23 and Psalm 92:1-15.

Lord, grant me your divine wisdom and knowledge. Help me to set aside my own human wisdom and logic and humbly realize that these make great servants, but lousy masters, for my heart and mind. I want to have the mind of Christ, because I want to be of Christ. Help me, Lord!

Header image based on "Harvard" by angela n., CC By 2.0

3 Things To Do With the Bible

Maybe you have a Bible sitting somewhere around the house. But you’re not sure exactly what to do with it. Well, we can help with that.

Jesus tells us how to handle a Bible. And his instructions are relatively easy to follow:

1. We should listen to it.

In today’s world there are so many ways to accomplish this first one. You can go to church. You can listen to a message online. You can attend a growth group or Bible study. You could begin to subscribe to a daily devotional from or You could sign up to this daily blog and read along with us.

2. We should accept it.

Jesus honors the faith of little children, because they are trusting and accept the claims of others at face value. We can do the same with the Bible. It’s easy to be skeptical in today’s world. But Jesus says that we can take the Bible at face value. It is what it says it is: the word of God. It has a lot of wisdom in it. It’s useful wisdom for this life. And it’s eternally-saving wisdom.

3. We should produce based on the Bible’s wisdom.

Faith will make us more productive people. Even better, it will make us productive in all the right ways. When we read the Bible and trust it’s words, we begin to produce “fruit” from the faith in Jesus that takes root in our hearts. Our words and our actions will be transformed by Jesus’ love and forgiveness. And when that occurs — who knows what might happen next?!

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20, NIV).

Lord, when I open my Bible, help me to really listen to what I am reading and studying there. And then, give me trusting eyes and ears. Remove the scales of skepticism from my eyes. Finally, change me from a person who acts with a selfish heart into a person who acts with your selfless heart.

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, February 18, is Exodus 23:1 – 24:18, Mark 3:31 – 4:29 and Psalm 22:22-31.

Header image based on "The Bible" by Yarzab, CC By 2.0

Found, and Held Fast

Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit, calls them “keystone habits.” These are single habits or patterns that, once successfully established, will “pay forward” and help us create other positive, productive habits and patterns in our lives.

It can be something apparently small. Did you know, for instance, that people who have the keystone habit of making their bed in the morning tend to be more organized and focused in other areas of their lives–making them more successful than the general population?

It can also be something very big. Making a habit of searching for God’s wisdom is one of those keystone habits, according to Solomon, the author of Proverbs. It’s extremely profitable to find and hold on to wisdom, he says. In fact, “nothing you desire can compare with her” is Solomon’s big claim for the Lord’s wisdom.

Really? Nothing?

That’s what Solomon says. And he guarantees that blessings will follow our acquisition of that wisdom.

As you’ll see in just a moment, Solomon makes a lot of promises about wisdom. They are huge promises. The thing is, right now in our daily readings (see below), we are also reading the book of Job. So we know that sometimes these blessings are not received immediately. Sometimes, in fact, big blessings from the past can even be stripped away.

That’s why it’s important to remember what Paul tells us in the book of 2 Corinthians: “For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV). And that applies here too. We seek God’s wisdom and its accompanying blessings by faith. Even when we don’t see the results right away, we know that they will come. If they don’t come today, then tomorrow they will. If they don’t come tomorrow, then next week, next month or next year.

And even if they never come in this life, faith in Christ teaches us that they will certainly come in eternity. So find wisdom, and hold it fast!

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed” (Proverbs 3:13-18, NIV).

Jesus, I believe that when I find your wisdom, I find everything. Your word is the one thing necessary. Bless me with your wisdom as I read your word and put it into practice in my life–by faith.

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, January 28, is Job 8:1 – 10:22, Matthew 19:16-30 and Proverbs 3:11-20.

Header image based on "Bible" by Sebastian, CC by 2.0

Broadcasting Repentance

Once Jesus settled into a base of operations in Capernaum, he began to do what he came to do: broadcast the news. And the news that he came to broadcast was not the evening news. (Thank goodness. Have you ever noticed how relentlessly bad the evening news can be?)

The news Jesus came to announce was very good news. The news was that he is the Light of the world and Life to those living under the shadow of death (Matthew 4:16).

As the light and life of the world, Jesus had wisdom that needed to be heard. But to be received this wisdom would require a change of mind on the part of people.

By nature, people’s minds are not on a receptive track, as Moses clearly indicates in the book of Genesis: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5, NIV).  

Jesus wants to get people back on track, receptive to God and to God’s loving plans for them. And he knows that getting on track begins with the fear of the Lord: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV).

So what’s the best characterization of Jesus’ teaching? Matthew tells us what it is: Changed minds. Changed hearts. Changed lives.

Repentance, in other words. Receptiveness. Because when Jesus comes near, his kingdom comes near, too. That’s why wise people tune in when Jesus is broadcasting.

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near'” (Matthew 4:17, NIV). 

Lord, change my mind and heart. Make me receptive to you and your wisdom. Get me back on track by shining the great light of your salvation into every corner of my mind and heart. May listening to you give me a repentant mind and heart. You are my Savior. You are my Lord. You are my light and my life.

Our reading for Sunday, January 4, is Genesis 7:1 – 9:17, Matthew 4:1-22 and Proverbs 1:1-7.

Header image based on "Radio" by Godber, CC by-SA 2.0