discernment

How to Grow Wisdom

  • 23 November 2017
  • Keith Reed

Michelangelo's Creation of AdamThe alarm on my phone goes off every afternoon at 1:05, serving as my daily reminder to pray for wisdom. This idea came from Mark Wessner, MB Seminary President, who chose the time because of its closeness to James 1:5 which says, "If anyone lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all and without finding fault, and it will be given to you." 

If you want to become wiser, praying to receive wisdom is the logical first step. But there are additional ways we can develop wisdom and help others do the same. Here are some suggestions for growing greater wisdom in your life. 

Pray for Wisdom

Asking for wisdom is the very foundation of wisdom. Praying for wisdom is an honest confession that greater insight and perspective is needed before being able to act with proper understanding. This request requires humility and earnestness and shows reverence for God from whom wisdom flows.

The wisest people I know are the same people who continually ask God for wisdom. And yet, those who need wisdom the most are the ones who despise it (Proverbs 1:7). This contrast goes beyond irony―it is the distinguishing mark between the foolish and the wise. The wise look beyond themselves but the eyes of the foolish see only themselves.

Key verses: James 1:5; 1 Kings 3; Proverbs 1:7
Possible next step: remind yourself to pray for wisdom by setting an alarm for 1:05.  

Study the Bible

Wisdom flows from God's character and represents His knowledge and understanding. We encounter wisdom when we encounter God. Reading and meditating on God's Word allows us to soak in God's thoughts so His perspective becomes our own.

Reading with Discernment

  • 28 July 2017
  • Keith Reed

men reading with magnifying glassIn 2014, it was reported that 90% of the world’s data was created within the past two years [1]. The exponential rate in which information is being created not only floods us with options, it surrounds us with content that is extremely recent. Many of us read articles and blogs that are written by authors we’ve never heard of or published by organizations we know little about.  

This requires us to develop guidelines to determine what is truthful. As we encounter volumes of new content each day, it is important to develop criteria to assess what we are reading. New is not necessarily better. Not all opinions are equally valid. Choosing to consume information without a critical eye is a recipe for being deceived.  

Let’s remember that Jesus called himself "the truth" (John 14:6) and that he was sent into the world to "testify to the truth" (John 18:37). He also highlighted the importance of discernment by warning his followers of being deceived [2]. 

  • "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matt 7:15-16a) 
  • "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matt 10:16)  
  • "Watch out that no one deceives you." (Matt 24:4) 

How do the warnings of Jesus apply to our current context?

Let's remember that much of the content we read today is designed to create a following. Individuals with the largest followings are typically regarded as experts, even if their message is Biblically flawed or misleading. Expertise is attributed to those with an established platform, regardless of whether the subject matter has anything to do with that person's actual expertise. The more followers a person has, the more credibility they receive. This is the formula that empowers actors to sell their nutrition books and athletes to rally support for their political campaign. It's not always a bad thing, but it does carry the risk of having questionable content influence many people over a short amount of time.  

Every reader should also be quick to consider the source of what they're reading. Considering alternative perspectives can be a fruitful experience, so long as we're reading critically. The danger comes from digesting and adopting whatever we come across without comparing it to Biblical truth and time-tested doctrine. 

Here then are my suggestions for reading with discernment:  

1. Consider education – what have they studied? 

How to Discern Your God-Given Call

  • 29 January 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Man walking alone in thoughtUnderstanding God's personal call is an important part of living fulfilled and productive lives as Christians (see Why Understanding Your Personal Calling is Important blog). Of course, Scripture describes God’s moral calling for every Christian―biblical principles guide us and help us know how we should live. Yet, it seems that God also has a more specific calling for each person―a job for them to do. Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. What "good works" does God want us to do in our lifetime? Let’s look at three steps for discerning God’s calling.

Life Purpose

Simply stated, our life purpose is the reason we exist. It’s what gives our lives meaning. I’m sure we can think of many people who had a strong sense of purpose. Mahatma Gandhi sought to promote peace and equality in non-violent ways. Mother Teresa devoted her life to loving the least of these; to touch the dying, the poor, the lonely, and the unwanted. A Canadian hero, Terry Fox, set out to run across Canada on one leg to raise money for cancer research.

To discern your life purpose, prayerfully identify 6-10 Scriptures that are meaningful to you. Why do you think that God has emphasized these verses in your life? How do they connect with activities that give your life deep meaning? Write down single words or themes that stand out to you from these passages. Now, use those ideas to create a one-sentence purpose statement that captures at least something of why you believe God created you (see the Three Steps to Understand Your Life Purpose in a Deeper Way blog for a more detailed description of this process).

My life purpose is to build capacity in myself and others so that we can love God deeply and serve Him more effectively. My purpose statement went through numerous revisions, so don’t feel that you have to figure it all out at the start.

Core Values

Our core values are deeply embedded assumptions and beliefs that continuously influence our decisions. They are extremely important! They will either support or hinder the living out of our life purpose.

Pages