Tag Archives: Book of Proverbs

Decision, decisions

My favorite apologist linked to this so I thought I’d re-run it.  Still the most practical biblical lesson I know of for daily living.  As Greg Koukl says, we are constantly either making decisions or living with their consequences.  I use this method and share it regularly.  I just used it with the high school kids at church to talk about careers, dating, marriage, college, etc.  

Click here to download a set of PowerPoint slides to read or to teach others.

And here is a new video of this lesson!

—–

Decision Making and the Will of God is one of my all-time favorite lessons to teach.  This is such a crucial topic, because we make big and small decisions all the time and are constantly living with the consequences of past decisions.

Does God speak to you about specific decisions when you are reading the Bible, such as whether you should pay off your mortgage, whom you should marry, what job you should take, etc.?  I think this is about how you apply the Bible to decision making and not about whether God sends individual messages through his word.

For example, if you want to know whether paying off your mortgage is the right thing to do, you have a couple options:

1. Ask God for a supernatural sign for the answer, whether it is a yes or a no (a la Gideon).  My guess is that He won’t decide for you that way, but it is always his option.  One thing we know about God is that if He wants to tell you something directly He isn’t very subtle.  There are zero examples of him trying to tell someone something in the Bible and not getting through.

2. Use the wisdom model of decision making.  You don’t have access to God’s sovereign knowledge (Will I lose my job?  Will interest rates go up or down?  Etc.).  You do have unrestricted access to his moral will via the Bible. Example: Is it immoral to pay off your mortgage early?  No, unless that means you won’t have enough money to feed your kids.  After moral considerations, look to the wisdom angle.  Ask God for wisdom, as He promises to deliver.  But as with Solomon, He doesn’t promise to decide everything for you.  Read Proverbs (and more).  Seek the counsel of others.  Consider the pros and cons.  That’s how to make wise decisions.  Finally, provided the options are moral and wise, consider your personal preferences.  We have tremendous freedom in Christ to do many things with our time and money.  Will paying off your mortgage make you happy?  If so, then do it.

Here’s a picture of what is looks like:

Decision making and the will of God

Really short version: Aside from direct and clear personal revelation from God, you don’t have access to his sovereign will when making decisions.  Therefore you must look at other factors.  If it isn’t moral, don’t do it.  If it is moral but not wise, don’t do it.  If it is moral and wise, then use your personal preferences.

Using this model you can end up with a wise and biblical decision, but you have avoided the traps of the “God told me to ____” routine.  People who run around saying that God told them this and that convey a super-spirituality that can leave less mature believers wondering if they really have a relationship with God (i.e., “God doesn’t tell me every little thing to do, so maybe I don’t really know him.”).

The “God told me ___” routine can also be outright blasphemy, as when “Christians” claim that God is moving in a new direction counter to what He revealed in the Bible.  The United Church of Christ “God is still speaking;” theme is a good example of that.  They didn’t believe what He said the first time around, so why trust them on allegedly new revelations?

Saturating yourself in the word is a key success factor in making good decisions. If we focus on worldly wisdom things go badly:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

But if we repent and do everything we can to see things from God’s point of view we will make better decisions.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This model will help you make good decisions in all areas of life — dating, marriage, college, careers, purchases, giving, ministry and more.  You can also use it to help friends, children, etc. make good decisions.  I even use it at work as a “faith flag” at times.  If people ask career advice, for example, I pull out this diagram and share it with them (i.e., “At the risk of getting all religious on you, here’s the method I use to make decisions like that.”)

Click here to download a set of PowerPoint slides to read or to use yourself to teach others.

P.S. A kid came into my wife’s elementary school library yesterday and asked if she had any books on how to make good choices.  She thought of the diagram above and laughed.  Let’s just say I refer to this model now and then.  She thinks I should write a children’s book on decision making.  I think she is kidding.

Hat tip to Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason for much of this, including the diagram.

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Decision, decisions

Uber-apologist Wintery Knight linked to this last week so I thought I’d re-run it.

And here is a new video of this lesson!

—–

Decision Making and the Will of God is one of my all-time favorite lessons to teach.  This is such a crucial topic, because we make big and small decisions all the time and are constantly living with the consequences of past decisions.

Does God speak to you about specific decisions when you are reading the Bible, such as whether you should pay off your mortgage, whom you should marry, what job you should take, etc.?  I think this is about how you apply the Bible to decision making and not about whether God sends individual messages through his word.

For example, if you want to know whether paying off your mortgage is the right thing to do, you have a couple options:

1. Ask God for a supernatural sign for the answer, whether it is a yes or a no (a la Gideon).  My guess is that He won’t decide for you that way, but it is always his option.  One thing we know about God is that if He wants to tell you something directly He isn’t very subtle.  There are zero examples of him trying to tell someone something in the Bible and not getting through.

2. Use the wisdom model of decision making.  You don’t have access to God’s sovereign knowledge (Will I lose my job?  Will interest rates go up or down?  Etc.).  You do have unrestricted access to his moral will via the Bible. Example: Is it immoral to pay off your mortgage early?  No, unless that means you won’t have enough money to feed your kids.  After moral considerations, look to the wisdom angle.  Ask God for wisdom, as He promises to deliver.  But as with Solomon, He doesn’t promise to decide everything for you.  Read the Proverbs (and more).  Seek the counsel of others.  Consider the pros and cons.  That’s how to make wise decisions.  Finally, provided the options are moral and wise, consider your personal preferences.  We have tremendous freedom in Christ to do many things with our time and money.  Will paying off your mortgage make you happy?  If so, then do it.

Here’s a picture of what is looks like:

Decision making and the will of God

Really short version: Aside from direct and clear personal revelation from God, you don’t have access to his sovereign will when making decisions.  Therefore you must look at other factors.  If it isn’t moral, don’t do it.  If it is moral but not wise, don’t do it.  If it is moral and wise, then use your personal preferences.

Using this model you can end up with a wise and biblical decision, but you have avoided the traps of the “God told me to ____” routine.  People who run around saying that God told them this and that convey a super-spirituality that can leave less mature believers wondering if they really have a relationship with God (i.e., “God doesn’t tell me every little thing to do, so maybe I don’t really know him.”).

The “God told me ___” routine can also be outright blasphemy, as when “Christians” claim that God is moving in a new direction counter to what He revealed in the Bible.  The United Church of Christ “God is still speaking;” theme is a good example of that.  They didn’t believe what He said the first time around, so why trust them on allegedly new revelations?

Saturating yourself in the word is a key success factor in making good decisions. If we focus on worldly wisdom things go badly:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

But if we repent and do everything we can to see things from God’s point of view we will make better decisions.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This model will help you make good decisions in all areas of life.  You can also use it to help friends, children, etc. make good decisions.  I even use it at work as a “faith flag” at times.  If people ask career advice, for example, I pull out this diagram and share it with them (i.e., “At the risk of getting all religious on you, here’s the method I use to make decisions like that.”)

Click here to download a set of PowerPoint slides to read or to use yourself to teach others.

P.S. A kid came into my wife’s elementary school library yesterday and asked if she had any books on how to make good choices.  She thought of the diagram above and laughed.  Let’s just say I refer to this model now and then.  She thinks I should write a children’s book on decision making.  I think she is kidding.

Hat tip to Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason for much of this, including the diagram.

Whom can you marry? An exhaustive list of Biblical rules.

wedding-rings2.jpgA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

According to the Bible, a Christian should only marry a person who is:

  1. A Christian
  2. Able to be married (i.e., of legal age, not married already, etc.)
  3. Of the opposite sex

Item 3 used to be self-evident (and still is, for most of us), but we had to add it to the list a few years back.

That’s it. Despite the stereotype that the Bible is just a giant rule book, many things are very simple.

The key constraint is usually item 1: The future spouse must be a Christian.  Ignoring God’s clear direction on this is a bad idea.  Just because God might ultimately bless it doesn’t mean He is obligated to.  That’s why it is called grace.  (Full disclosure: It is possible that my wife violated guideline #1 in marrying me.  Fortunately, she lost the receipt so she can’t return me now.)

“Missionary dating” (that is, dating someone in hopes of converting them) is un-Biblical, as it is based on false pretenses.  God might bless your relationship and your spouse might become a Christian, but there are no guarantees of that in scripture.  You just don’t want to start your marriage in clear violation of one of God’s commands.

Marrying someone outside your faith is problematic.  You will have vastly different views on what should be the most important part of your life.  It will send a horrible message to your children, namely that you and your spouse thought it was important to agree on where to live, how many kids to have, where to vacation, what to eat, etc., but it wasn’t important for you to have even a general agreement on who God is and how that should impact your lives.

A good Christian friend realized the error of his ways and broke off a relationship with a non-Christian.  It was pretty painful, but certain things validated why he needed to make the break: She specifically tempted him to deny his God, “Just this once” – proof enough as to why such relationships are a bad idea.

Sadly, I know countless church-going parents who don’t teach their kids to only date Christians, and who think little or nothing of their kids marrying non-Christians.  And countless pastors officiate at these ceremonies without ever counseling people about what God says.

Of course, just because it is moral to marry someone doesn’t mean it it wise.  There is a lot of wisdom and advice about how and whether to marry in the book of Proverbs and in 1 Corinthians 7, among other places.  These passages were directed to Solomon’s son but they apply to both sexes.

Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

Proverbs 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Best. Playlist. Ever.

I’ve really enjoyed a new Bible playlist on a my iPhone.  It took some time to set up but it was worth it.  It covers the entire Bible in 150 days (with Proverbs repeating every 30 days — one chapter a day except for the first day, which has two).  It includes a variety of areas each day.  It is roughly 36 minutes per day, which is about the length of my morning commute.

Each day has:

  • 1 chapter of Proverbs
  • 1 Psalm
  • 4-5 chapters of the Old Testament (I used the chronological version)
  • 1-2 chapters of the New Testament (basically in order, though I spread the Gospels out so it has Matthew, then Acts, then some letters, then Mark, then some letters, etc. and ends up with John)

For example, day 1 had chapters 1-9 below, day 2 had 10-17, etc.  To state the obvious, you could still enjoy the variety even if you don’t listen to 8-9 chapters in one day.

itune

You can get free audio Bible downloads in a variety of translations at Faith Comes By Hearing.  You can also contribute to them to help get the audio Bible out in hundreds of languages around the world.  This is vital for people who can’t read.  If you ever go on a mission trip be sure to take some of their Proclaimer audio devices.

If you haven’t tried listening to the Bible, give it a try — even if it is just a chapter per day.  Redeem your commute, or your workout, or your chores, or whatever else you do!

God and money — where’s the balance?

Studies show that aside from those in true poverty, money cannot buy happiness.  But mismanaging money can definitely lead to unhappiness.

See Money and Possessions in Proverbs – Kevin DeYoung for a thorough and well-balanced take on what God says about money.  I often see people go to either extreme:

On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Prosperity Theology comes from. Take a few promises of the Mosaic covenant out of their national context, take the promise in Malachi 3 about throwing open the storehouses of heaven, mix in some of Jesus’ statements about receiving whatever you ask for in faith, and you can bake up a little health and wealth gospel.

On the other hand, it’s possible to come up with an imbalanced Austerity Theology. Point out that Jesus had nowhere to lay his head, turn to the story of the rich young ruler, stir in the parable of the rich fool, and you’ll have a theology that says money is bad and so are those who have it.

As always, you want to read the passages in the immediate context and the larger context of the entire Bible.

If you take these tips seriously I think your odds of esteeming money properly will be very high:

Ten Principles on Money and Possessions from Proverbs

1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).

2. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (Prov. 12:913:7).

3. The rich and poor are more alike than they think (Prov. 22:229:13).

4. You can’t out give God (Prov. 3:9-1011:2422:9).

5. Poverty is not pretty (Prov. 10:1514:2019:4).

6. Money cannot give you ultimate security (Prov. 11:711:2813:8).

7. The Lord hates those who get rich by injustice (Prov. 21:622:1622-23).

8. The Lord loves those who are generous to the poor (Prov. 14:213119:728:21)

9. Hard work and good decision-making usually lead to increased prosperity (Prov. 6:6-1110:413:1114:24;  21:172022:41327:23-2728:20

10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-1118-1924:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:1717:1).

You can’t understand the biblical view of money unless you are prepared to accept a number of truths held in tension.

  • You’ll probably acquire more money if you work hard and are full of wisdom. But if all you care about is getting more money, you are the biggest fool.
  • Money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away.
  • God gives you money because he is generous, but he is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you.
  • It is wise to save money, but don’t ever think money gives you real security.
  • Wealth is more desirable than poverty, but wealth is not as good as righteousness, humility, wisdom, good relationships, and the fear of the Lord.
I encourage you to read the whole post and subscribe to Kevin’s blog.  He does great work.

Decision, decisions

Decision Making and the Will of God is one of my all-time favorite lessons to teach.  This is such a crucial topic, because we make big and small decisions all the time and are constantly living with the consequences of past decisions.

Does God speak to you about specific decisions when you are reading the Bible, such as whether you should pay off your mortgage, whom you should marry, what job you should take, etc.?  I think this is about how you apply the Bible to decision making and not about whether God sends individual messages through his word.

For example, if you want to know whether paying off your mortgage is the right thing to do, you have a couple options:

1. Ask God for a supernatural sign for the answer, whether it is a yes or a no (a la Gideon).  My guess is that He won’t decide for you that way, but it is always his option.  One thing we know about God is that if He wants to tell you something directly He isn’t very subtle.  There are zero examples of him trying to tell someone something in the Bible and not getting through.

2. Use the wisdom model of decision making.  You don’t have access to God’s sovereign knowledge (Will I lose my job?  Will interest rates go up or down?  Etc.).  You do have unrestricted access to his moral will via the Bible. Example: Is it immoral to pay off your mortgage early?  No, unless that means you won’t have enough money to feed your kids.  After moral considerations, look to the wisdom angle.  Ask God for wisdom, as He promises to deliver.  But as with Solomon, He doesn’t promise to decide everything for you.  Read the Proverbs (and more).  Seek the counsel of others.  Consider the pros and cons.  That’s how to make wise decisions.  Finally, provided the options are moral and wise, consider your personal preferences.  We have tremendous freedom in Christ to do many things with our time and money.  Will paying off your mortgage make you happy?  If so, then do it.

Here’s a picture of what is looks like:

Decision making and the will of God

Really short version: Aside from direct and clear personal revelation from God, you don’t have access to his sovereign will when making decisions.  Therefore you must look at other factors.  If it isn’t moral, don’t do it.  If it is moral but not wise, don’t do it.  If it is moral and wise, then use your personal preferences.

Using this model you can end up with a wise and biblical decision, but you have avoided the traps of the “God told me to ____” routine.  People who run around saying that God told them this and that convey a super-spirituality that can leave less mature believers wondering if they really have a relationship with God (i.e., “God doesn’t tell me every little thing to do, so maybe I don’t really know him.”).

The “God told me ___” routine can also be outright blasphemy, as when “Christians” claim that God is moving in a new direction counter to what He revealed in the Bible.  The United Church of Christ “God is still speaking;” theme is a good example of that.  They didn’t believe what He said the first time around, so why trust them on allegedly new revelations?

Saturating yourself in the word is a key success factor in making good decisions. If we focus on worldly wisdom things go badly:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

But if we repent and do everything we can to see things from God’s point of view we will make better decisions.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This model will help you make good decisions in all areas of life.  You can also use it to help friends, children, etc. make good decisions.  I even use it at work as a “faith flag” at times.  If people ask career advice, for example, I pull out this diagram and share it with them (i.e., “At the risk of getting all religious on you, here’s the method I use to make decisions like that.”)

Click here to download a set of PowerPoint slides to read or to use yourself to teach others.

P.S. A kid came into my wife’s elementary school library yesterday and asked if she had any books on how to make good choices.  She thought of the diagram above and laughed.  Let’s just say I refer to this model now and then.  She thinks I should write a children’s book on decision making.  I think she is kidding.

Hat tip to Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason for much of this, including the diagram.