Tag Archives: God’s wisdom

“Ready or Not, Welcome to Leadership and Center Stage”

“Preaching with you in the congregation made me nervous!” my younger friend laughed after worship a few years ago. Completely surprised, I laughed back: “Are you kidding?”

It was a rare Sunday for me, one when I was both away from my own pulpit and not preaching or singing elsewhere. My friend had done a great job preaching, and I don’t know any pastor whose work in a community I respect more. I’ve preached on occasions when I was nervous myself because I knew a veteran preacher/respected mentor was present that day. I knew that no one in the crowd would be more “for” me, but still . . . a bit daunting. I just couldn’t imagine having that effect on someone myself.

After the surprise came a feeling of humility and some trepidation. Why would anyone think I was much more than a wet-behind-the-ears apprentice in preaching, pastoral care, and church leadership?

And extend this to your own areas of life and expertise. Did it surprise you when younger colleagues started to look to you as a mentor? Or, though your kids have been on their own and doing well for a long time, isn’t it a little daunting to realize that they now look to you as you, not that long ago, looked to your own parents? “I want to ask Dad” fits well with my dad, G. B., but that it could be said regarding Curtis is still a shock to Curtis. Are you kidding? That’s above my pay grade, further up the ladder than my rung, isn’t it? (I still ache to call Dad.)

I’ve lived most of my life being able to count on and seek the wisdom of older and wiser folks who’ve paved the way for me. It’s always been good to know they were there.

I remember (forgive the political opinion) my sadness the first time when, though we still had a chance to elect a president from “the Greatest Generation,” we squandered a soon-lost-forever opportunity. I guess I wanted, felt like we needed, more than just a capable person in office. We kids needed a father, a role model of wisdom and maturity. I knew for sure my generation couldn’t be ready to lead. Anyway, how could it possibly be time?

At official graduations, we have ceremonies. But the kind of graduation I have in mind? At first, we almost miss the clues, but suddenly they come more rapidly and obviously, and we look around and realize—this is frightening—that we now occupy the role for others that our parents and mentors did for us.

The time really hasn’t come as quickly as it seems. We just could hardly imagine that it would ever come. We’ve always lived life feeling like we had a safety net. We knew theoretically that the time would come to grow up, but we had time, right? Even if we lurched toward something stupid, well, wiser, more seasoned, more mature adults were still there. They’d grown up fast, surviving a Great Depression, truly “saving the planet,” the free world, in World War II. If we messed up much, they’d pick us up and get us back on track.

Well, my generation almost forgot to grow up. “Greatest,” in any positive sense, will not be mentioned in the same paragraph with our bunch. Certainly, not “wisest.”

But here’s wisdom for any generation finding itself, like it or not, taking its turn to lead on center stage: trust the only One who doesn’t change and seek the wisdom he has promised to give to those who ask.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Only One Child Really Is Wisdom’s Child

If extraterrestrials were to land in our part of the world seeking intelligent life, I often think they’d return to their mother ship reporting that none exists. I do not believe extraterrestrials exist, but on this point, I tend to agree with their nonexistent little selves.

We pay for little plastic bottles filled up with water most often from municipal water supplies exotic because they are not ours. Refilling a bottle from our own tap is evidently unbearably difficult.

We pay appalling prices for devices designed primarily for use in communication, chain ourselves to them as their indentured servants, and allow them to snuff out real communication with folks we love in the very same room.

The same country that once sent barely-college-age kids to fight for freedom and dodge (or not) bullets and shrapnel in world wars now sends kids to colleges with “safe zones” lest reality and free speech be too much for them to bear.

Sorry for this picture, but in our culture, I could actually pull my pants down around my ankles, show off my underwear, and whine that people are “disrespecting” me. May I summon all the eloquence of the English language to comment, “Duh.”

In this land where most of us have way too much to eat, models starve themselves to try to look or be anorexic while over 20,000 people in our world die of hunger each day. Shrink wrap fashions in our land seem absolutely designed to make girls of normal weight suddenly look and feel like they’re twenty pounds over the “limit” and deprive them of their already lagging self-esteem. As a grandfather of some beautiful little girls approaching the teenage years, I confess that if I hear anyone say “weight” around them, I will be sorely tempted to nail his or her tongue to the wall and set the fool afire.

That’s not funny, but, forgive me, this tickles my “truth is stranger than fiction” funny bone: In Texas, we just witnessed a Senate race between a Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke and a Rafael Edward Cruz. It’s not hard to figure out which candidate leans pretty hard left and which leans pretty hard right, or, for whatever difference it makes (none), which is of Irish descent and which of Cuban, but it was a good reminder to avoid stereotypes. If an Ian Alexander Sean O’Guitierrez runs for governor, I’ll not try to guess his politics, but I’ll likely vote for him just to get to chuckle—and for that aforementioned reminder.

And, back to the “Emperor Has No Clothes But We Buy Them Anyway” fashion category, we’re quite used to folks, mostly with no more holes in their heads than the general population, buying jeans with put-there-on-purpose rips for which they pay good money in pursuit of holey-ness. My favorite old Henley shirt has developed gaping holes in the sleeve-ends. I hate to part with it, but I’m tempted to jack up the price, pay someone to sneak it in to a teeny or tweeny section of Macy’s, start a trend, and start raking in the profits.

Long ago, Jesus said basically that Wisdom was everybody’s mama, or at least that everyone claimed to be her (wiser than average) child. We do crazy things in her name.

Yet how’s this for universe-class crazy, completely “over the top”? God sending his only Son as a baby in Bethlehem! But it wasn’t crazy at all. Within it was the breathtaking wisdom of God himself, mixed with unimaginable love.

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Stars Speak Loudy, Wisely, in Silvery Silence

The yard mowing was finished. One more time. A personal best, by the way. Two hours. Mowing our 10,000 square foot yard usually requires almost three hours.

The last part of the job had pretty much been accomplished in Braille. It was a Wednesday evening. We’d gathered, as usual, with our church folks for a meal, etc., 6:00-7:00. (I am so very glad we meet that early.)

But Daylight Saving Time, a very mixed blessing, meant that I faced a decision at about 7:30. To mow or not to mow. That was the question. I did not want to. That was not in question. But this was the window I had for mowing for the next several days. If I waited, the yard would be, even this early in the season for us, a jungle.

So I mowed, figuring I’d get at least part of it done. I was amazed to finish the whole thing. (Only because I had trimmed pretty seriously on the previous mowing and got away with very little of that on Wednesday.) As I mentioned, darkness was coming on as I throttled down my mowing machine.

It really was a beautiful evening. So, once the rumble of the engine was silenced, I decided to sit out on the patio for a few minutes, partly to nurse my aching feet, and mostly to enjoy the quiet and the stillness.

The slivered moon was headed down behind my friend and neighbor’s workshop. Optical illusion, I know, but it surely seemed to head down faster the closer it got to the horizon. A lunar voyeur, I spied on it, lest it sneakily rebel and head back upward with no one watching. In the space of ten long breaths (I was counting), it slipped away, down for the count.

And, of course, as the moon went under, the stars, always there but needing the darkness to make their shimmering silvery presence known, began their sparkling dance.

The canopy of two huge trees in the backyard obscures part of the sky (blessed shade in the heat of the day), but the Big Dipper was shining through brightly. A very elementary knowledge of astronomy will reveal that drawing a line from the “pointer stars” (Merak and Dubhe), five times the distance between them (about twenty degrees), will land your eye on Polaris, the North Star, the anchor of the northern sky and friend of long generations of sailors.

The second star from the Dipper’s bowl is Mizar, and right beside it, if your eyes are good (this was an ancient eye test) you can make out Alcor.

The Big Dipper hasn’t changed recently. In about 50,000 years, I’m told, a bit of a shape change may be apparent. But on Wednesday night, I noticed what looked like another bright star in the pattern. What?!

And then the “star” moved. Jet airplanes do that. And that’s what it was. I had momentarily confused a few-years-old man-made object flying six miles high with God-made stars billions of years old, 51-123 light years away.

We should spend more time sitting in the darkness looking up at the stars. That night their silvery silence spoke loudly. My “airplane” difficulties may masquerade as stars, but they flit away, and God’s love-lit starlight remains.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Knowledge and Wisdom Are Not the Same Things

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same things. As has been wisely observed, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. On a deeper level . . .

Knowledge has to do with knowing about created things; wisdom means knowing the Creator.

Knowledge means knowing facts about the past in order to make a good grade on your history exam; wisdom means learning the lessons of the past to plot a course for the future.

Knowledge knows how to make stuff, lots of it really cool; wisdom means knowing how to use what is made for the best purposes.

Knowledge may think that simply knowing facts equals wisdom; wisdom knows that only the incredibly foolish ever think of themselves as being wise.

Knowledge is tempted to be arrogant, puffed up because of what it knows; wisdom lives in humility knowing that everything it knows is evidence of how very little it knows, even as it is always seeking to learn more.

Knowledge points to glitz and technology and cool engineering tricks to amaze and thumb its nose at the past; wisdom knows that the glut and the glitz of its age (industrial or technological or informational) makes it not one bit truly wiser than ages past.

Knowledge knows stuff—and lots of it; wisdom knows that what is true and real and lasting is rooted forever in the One whose existence holds this world together, the only One who is constant, unchanging, forever true.

C. S. Lewis is the one, I think, who coined the term “chronological snobbery.” We are so easily—at all times and never more than now—tempted to think that increasing knowledge and information and, especially in our time, amazing technological advances, mean that we are wiser than those in all preceding ages. Really?

Oh, I love technology (and cool gadgets). I love being able to access incredible information at the click of a few keys. But wisdom is not dependent in the least upon technology, and burgeoning levels of information are no evidence at all of any increase in wisdom.

I may be afflicted with chronological snobbery in reverse. I can’t imagine how we can be such fools. Even ancient pagans, foolishly worshiping rocks and carved pieces of wood, were “wise” enough to worship something outside of themselves. How many of us today breathe God’s air, live on his spinning world, “thank” him by doubting, denying, or laughing at his existence, and crown our idiocy by worshiping ourselves? In our arrogance, we seem to think that everything from our gender, to the multiplication tables, to whether up is up or down is down depend our mood or the latest opinion poll. After all, it’s 2018, and technology and information abound. Are we not wiser than all who’ve come before us?

No, we’re not. I wonder if any society has ever been more foolish. The Apostle Paul pointed to the cross and told the truth that “even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Conspiracy Theory and Grocery Store Revelations

 

 

grocery-store

“Honey, if you’re going to the store, would you pick up . . .” asks my wife.

Well, first of all, I try to avoid going to the store. I’m not good at it. And I’m easily distracted.

I see prices on the rise, and I’m suspicious. It may be low on the sights of conspiracy theorists (and Andy Rooney isn’t around to expose this), but have you noticed how toilet paper rolls wobble around on standard holders? Why? Because the rolls aren’t as wide as they were, say, a day or two ago in the 90s. I didn’t measure any corn dogs back then, either, but I think the little guys have been bobbed. Same thing with ice cream “gallons” and coffee “pounds.” I wonder when a dozen eggs will be 10.

Then the store changes its floor plan, its “here’s where the stuff is” layout, on purpose, to get more of our dollars as we wander around (my theory), even though shoppers despise it, and a guy like me can stumble around fog-fritzed for months in search of a jar of olives.

I also subscribe to the “deadly rays” theory of store lighting. (Another conspiracy.) Something in those lights is designed to befuddle and bedaze you, and as you wander, lost, you don’t even notice yourself tossing into the basket jars of pickled okra and other stuff you don’t need.

I figure the shopping cart handle has been surreptitiously salted with genetically altered viruses to go straight to your brain and turn off sales resistance neurons. The viruses on the handles of those small grocery “baskets” must be particularly strong because you always end up loading them down and trading them in for a ginormous cart. I figure, too, that the lighting rays near the checkout stand are the most powerful in the store. Why else load up baskets with 12 packages of breath mints and a “magazine” that should only be used for toilet paper?

Anyway, my wife says, “Pick something up.” I say, “Sure.” And I forget it. She could staple a note to my forehead, and unless the blood trickling down forced me to remember the note, I’d still forget “it.”

She says it’s because I’m absent-minded. I say (maybe borrowing from a Chesterton quote, but I don’t remember) that I forget stuff not because my brain doesn’t work but because it’s always working (I didn’t say “working well.”) I’m “pre-occupied” with way more important stuff than getting fiber laxative that is/isn’t orange or does/doesn’t contain sugar.

I blame part of this on gender. I know it’s politically correct to assume that men and women are exactly the same except for plumbing, even if, chromosomally speaking, guys and gals differ in every cell of their bodies. If I have a PC bone in my body, I’m not aware of it, but is anyone really surprised by research that says women are wired to be much better at multi-tasking than men?

The guy under my hat has multi-stuff to think about. I’m forced to think some of those thoughts pretty much at the same time. So don’t be surprised if while at the store pondering the various views of interpreting biblical apocalyptic literature, I forget the fabric softener.

I’m thankful our Father has no trouble at all remembering every sparrow, numbering the hairs on our heads, and loving each of us completely—all at the same time. And I figure He is immune to grocery store light rays and viruses.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


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