Page Two

Proverb 14: 7

Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.

I borrow today from Paul Harvey who used the expression “Page Two” to denote the other side, or the conclusion of a story. Today I want to use that model to reveal another key element towards guarding yourself.

As I wrote yesterday it is quite easy to confuse foolishness with faith. How are you to choose right path? Well, we know the first step is always to inquire of the Lord. The reality, I find, is that we choose to listen to men rather than to God. Frankly, it is easier to hear the voice of a person than to hear the voice of God. Listening to God requires some quiet and some patience. Hearing humans requires only that you stop moving for a moment. Everyone has something to say and they will gladly burden you with their brilliance. The key, though, is don’t listen to fools. The verse is more specific than that, however. It says, “Leave the presence of a fool.” Other versions say, “Stay away from a fool.” This is strong language. I suspect Solomon wrote in this declaratory style to prevent any confusion or misreadings.

How do you know a fool? This can be very challenging because they come in sheep’s clothing. Many are even well intentioned. They are just foolish. They rely on their own wisdom. That is a key sign. They believe themselves to be smarter than experts. I knew someone who always acted and spoke like he knew more and better than lawyers. He knew more than ministers and he knew more than doctors. In fact, I don’t know that he thought anyone was better informed than he despite the disparity in education and experience. He is probably the biggest fool I have ever known.

Here is another test, look at the fruit on their tree. Pay less heed to what people say and more to what they do. I don’t mean do they sit on a pew on Sunday. Whoa but that is a bad test. Look at the fruit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5: 22). If a person is not demonstrating or growing in these characteristics, then not only should you not listen to a single word they have to say but you should “leave the presence of a fool.” I have one other test I use which is imbedded in all of the fruit above. I look at a person’s generosity. If they are not givers, then I know they are not intertwined with Jesus. God so loved that He gave. Love causes one to give. If one is a taker and not a giver, then that is a significant character defect and an absolute clue as to their foolishness.

Last, what do you do when you think the fool is a minister? This is hard and it has absolutely challenged people in the last two years. We have had ministers of the gospel saying the craziest things! Alright, let me see if I can help with this. The first thing I have noticed is that they often quote odd sources. I have listened to them quoting crackpot doctors or even non-medical personnel about medical issues. That is a clear sign. Second, look for love. If there is anger and rancor it could be because they too are frustrated, but here is what I know beyond doubt. When I become frustrated and angry to the point that it begins to show it is a clear indication that I have not been spending enough time with my Father. Next, does this person’s speech tend to edify or tear down? God’s Word teaches us to only speak that which edifies others. Now, I know it has been a tough two years on everyone and I have not always maintained my composure either, but we must be wary of these foolish people even if they are ministers.

I hope this helps you. I know you have been challenged and haven’t known in whom you could trust. Follow me as I follow Christ but only as I follow Christ. That’s a recharacterization of something Paul said. First, follow our Lord and our God. Second, if you are going to listen to the voices of humans, I strongly advise that you make sure first that they are listening to God. These truly are perilous times and the advice of a fool can kill you. Solomon knew how dangerous foolishness was and how hazardous the presence of a fool can be. That has not changed. So, judge wisely.

God’s Protection

Psalm 91: 1

One who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will lodge in the shadow of the Almighty.

This psalm is the most often quoted passage regarding God’s protection, but there is something we need to understand about this protection as I find Christians are woefully mistaken about what it is and how to live in it.

This first verse tells us exactly how to live in God’s protection. It says we will lodge in the shadow of the Almighty. To lodge in God’s shadow means we live where we are hidden from trouble. However, this is not automatic. You don’t just say the sinner’s prayer and then the shadow of God follows you around protecting you from harm. No. This is a Christian lifestyle. You have to live in this and that means you make a choice to live in His shadow. To see this more clearly, you have to read the first phrase of the verse. That is where you see that this is purely elective.

Those who choose to dwell in the shelter of the Most High will be hidden in the power of the Almighty. Notice that the psalmist used names for God which reflect His awesome power. We are talking about power in this psalm. If we wish to fall under God’s awesome protective power, then we must choose to dwell in His shelter. What does that mean? We are talking lifestyle here. Where you dwell has everything to do with the lifestyle you choose. Do you live in the country, or do you live in the city? You have made a choice about where your home is. The same is true here. We must abide in the shelter of His Word, His teachings, and His guidance.

During the 911 crisis, there were stories about people who diverted from the towers that day. They had a funny feeling, heard God in their hearts, etc. They followed His guidance and didn’t go to their office. The point is that God leads us out of the path of danger. He constantly speaks giving us advice, counsel and wisdom.

Now, suppose you were one of those people headed to the twin towers that fateful day. In your heart you hear God speak, “Don’t go to that building. Turn around right now.” But you are a person of faith, right? So instead of heeding God’s advice and warning, you march on, in faith, to the twin towers. You say, “I have faith! God will protect me.” Please understand me beloved, as I say this with all the love of Christ in my heart. That is not faith. There is a word in the Bible for it, though. It is called foolishness. Faith is following God. Faith is the assurance that what God tells you is truth. If you went to the towers that day, you would be as dead as the worst heathen there. You have not availed yourself of the wisdom of God and are not abiding in the shelter of His protection.

Faith is not making a decision and expecting God to back it. Faith is only found in following Him. This psalm clearly speaks about our protection, but you cannot get past the first verse. The psalm and the protection promises only apply to those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High. We have to get out of our heads and submit to His wisdom, counsel and advice. Only those who will give their will over to God’s guidance will be under the umbrella of His protection.

Understand this clearly. God’s protection is for each one of us. Further, God gave us His Word so that we would understand how to avail ourselves of this gift. But be clear, the umbrella is there. It is your choice whether to stand under it or not. Do not blame God when you go your own way and fall into grief. If we step out of His protective measures, we may get hurt but that is our own fault. Not His. He has provided. It is up to us whether we will follow our “wisdom” and argue our positions or whether we follow the Father. Faith is not believing God will back our play. It is having the full assurance in our hearts that what He says, He is able to bring to pass. It is the complete confidence that if we listen to Him, He will guide us to safety and keep us forever in the shadow of His might. Let this be a revelation today.

Foolish Wise Men

1 Corinthians 3: 18 – 19

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.

These two verses are under a heading Foundations for Living. This is part of God’s foundation teaching series. I should begin by telling you that these two verses are just a small part of an expansive teaching from the Apostle Paul. Paul had a huge revelation about the wisdom of God having been sent into the earth and how we all are partakers thereof but not in ourselves but rather through our integration with Jesus for in him and because of him, we now have the mind of Christ.

The wisdom of the world, on the other hand, is utter foolishness. To God it must sound like mindless chatter, for nothing in this world has come into being apart from God. He understands all of the science; all of the biology and physics that make this universe in its great expanse and every cell of our bodies work. He created all of the laws of physics. We are just trying to discover them. So, how foolish is it for us to catapult our estimation of our intellect above that of the Father. None the less, I hear people talk about our intellect and frankly, many of them have their intelligence on the throne of their lives rather than Jesus. I knew one person who could often be heard repeating the God gave us an intellect for us to use. While I do not disagree, this person used it as an excuse to defy the Word of God. Now how smart is that? The celebration of human intellect begins to sound like foolishness. Don’t get me wrong. I do not find any virtue in ignorance. I believe in both formal and informal education. In fact, I think the moment you stop learning, you begin to die. Life should be an ongoing adventure. That adventure, however, shouldn’t be spent basking in the glow of our grand intellect. It is a venture with God and with the Holy Spirit who knows all of the thoughts of God. It is a quest into the heart and mind of God, a journey which we have been specially equipped to take.

The only wise person is the one who seeks God and His wisdom. All else is foolishness. If we will abandon human reasoning in favor of divinely led revelation, we will come to understand the universe. All knowledge is at hand. If we will humble ourselves we can have it all. The intertwined life with the Holy Spirit is truly one of inspiration and revelation. We don’t even have to be that smart, just smart enough to realize we’re not.

Standing in a Storm

Matthew 7: 24 – 27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”

Jesus spoke these words. He says that anyone who hears his words and acts on them is like a wise man. The rain, floods and wind represent the storms of life. Those people who hear and act on Jesus’ words will be able to withstand the storms of life. Those who do not listen to and act on Jesus’ words get battered and destroyed by every storm that blows. Do you want to be able to stand in the roughest of times? Then you must commit yourself to the Word of God. God’s wisdom is contained in these pages and through your relationship with him, he reveals the deep truths contained therein. Is there anyone foolish enough to say that he/she does not want God’s wisdom? There probably is though it is very difficult to understand. Obviously, he is without wisdom if he would say such a foolish thing. Therefore, since most of us do want the wisdom of God, let us dedicate ourselves to reading his word. This need not be tiresome. Get a version that is more readable than the King James if it helps you. Go to any Christian store and read the same passage in several different translations. There are plenty out there these days that are not written in Elizabethan English. There is also the One Year Bible if you are ready to commit to reading the entire Bible. It also comes in a couple of translations. Do yourself a favor; start reading a little each day and let the Lord of Hosts bring life and wisdom to you.


Proverb 1: 7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I am listening to a CD series by Dr. Jim Richards. The first CD is entitled Wisdom: The Principle thing. In this teaching Dr. Richards leads us to Proverb 1: 7. Now, I already have that one highlighted in my Bible so as I turn there I feel pretty good. That is until he started teaching it. I will say I have never heard this verse so loud before. However, I did immediately think of how often I have encountered this problem in society as well as in my own heart. Therefore, when I teach on this problem of rejecting wisdom, know that I am preaching to myself.

The Living Bible says, “Only fools refuse to be taught.” Not one of us wishes to be a fool. We have not made it our life’s ambition. None the less, so many of us get our backs up when someone tries to teach us. Somewhere in the great scheme of things we have decided that we already have all knowledge. Of course this is foolishness itself. The resolution of our inherent knowledge isn’t cognitive though. If I were to ask a person if he had nothing left to learn, he would of course answer in the negative. So what is really going on here?

I believe the truth lies in a weak self-esteem. We know that there is much we do not know but our hearts do not allow us to admit it to others. Our sense of inferiority makes us puff up like an old rooster and strut around in a way to deflect the shame we feel. To submit to the teaching of another is an admission of lowliness. The truth of the matter is that those who are strongest are most likely to submit to the teaching of others. They know that each person has specific knowledge from which they can benefit.

The reality of this problem is nowhere more obvious than in the church. To many, submission to the teaching and leadership of another is almost synonymous with hedonism. This should not be. Again I have noted that the most spiritually mature people do not suffer from this foolish delusion. They are the first to ask to be taught. They pull on you to get you to reveal your insights even though you know in your heart they know much more and have experienced much more than you. They are students and they always will be. They are students of life and they look for God’s epiphanies everywhere. Ego is replaced with zeal. And, it seems they are always a delight to be around because of their hunger for enlightenment.  

I really believe it is important for us to accept that God has placed people in, not only the body of Christ, but in our lives also, for the purpose of bringing us light. They are light bearers, if you will. Our pastors may not know everything we know, but they may know something we don’t. Isn’t that enough? And I have to admit that if I cannot sit under the anointing and teaching of another, then I am not as spiritually mature as I may wish to pretend. Worst of all is that my refusal to be taught is a loud clanging cymbal announcing my foolishness. My need to be right is as loud a report as a cannon blast.

Oh God, save us from our own foolishness. Touch our hearts and heal our brokenness that you may speak life and light into our lives. Give us, dear Lord, the strength of submission and lead us into all truth and knowledge through the power of your blessed son and Holy Spirit. Let the fire of your Spirit burn hotly within us; the fire, Father, of unquenchable yearning for more of you and lead us to those who can teach us. Amen.