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Why Am I Writing This Blog?

There is a proverb that goes: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” or as I memorized it a lot of years ago, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov 14:12, NIV & KJV). The proverb is a warning that we can only trust our human judgment so far. Human judgements, especially where human pride, desire, or brokenness are at work, are often poor. We need to maintain a healthy humility and skepticism concerning radical ideas, thoughts, and proposals. We need only look at some of the tragic failures of 20th Century political regimes to know that this is true. To a lot of people the rantings of Hitler and the strong-arm tactics of Stalin seemed entirely reasonable. It took a few million deaths before everyone could see the truth.

imagesOur culture is based upon an unreasonable trust in human reason. The leaders of the so-called Enlightenment distrusted tradition, religion, faith, and institutions like the Church. Coming from the Middle Ages, this may not have been an entirely bad idea. Unfortunately, human pride being what it is, it was not long before the Age of Reason became the Age of Arrogance. Today, we are in the Age of Arrogance Taken to Extreme Foolishness.

Kant’s dicta, “Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own reason!” was the motto of the Enlightenment. Unfortunately it  is now often used by those who seek an unreasoning rebellion against the wisdom of the past, against legitimate authority, against the entire experience of the human race, and even against reason itself. People everywhere conform to the latest intellectual and other fads on the notion that they are thinking for themselves, when in actuality they are simply following everyone else into the age of unreason.

We do not need to retreat to the Middle Ages, but we do need to recover a respect for tradition, for traditional wisdom, for faith, and for organs of society, like the Church, which preserve a tradition through centuries. It does not take more than a glance at the daily news or a bit of thought about much of what the media proclaims to see that this is the case.

This blog is dedicated to those who are journeying through life and desire to find the Path of Life along the way.  I hope that it is helpful.

Blessings to all,

Chris

Avoid a Meaningless Life

Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, NIV).

Ecclesiastes begins as if David’s son, Solomon, was giving us his final conclusions after a long, successful life. What did he learn? He begins with the conclusion: “Everything is meaningless, nothing matters” (Eccl 12:8). As the book goes along, we learn a bit more about what is meant by the phrase “everything is meaningless”. In the end, everything this world can offer in the way of physical success is meaningless, because this world and all of our achievements in it are doomed to pass away. What matters is love. Human relationships are what matters.

Near the middle of the book, the writer tells us that all of our efforts and achievements are to satisfy our natural desires. Unfortunately, our desires are never satisfied (Ecc 6:8). Here we have the ultimate commentary on our culture. All our work, all our scheming, all our attempts to get rich, comfortable, or satisfied by pleasure—they all fail to bring the true happiness our hearts desire, because they are all doomed to pass away.

Not so long ago a friend retired from a job after years of success. She spoke to me about the many visitors who came by her office to talk and give best wishes for the future. She ended our talk by saying, “Everything they mentioned was small and personal. Not one of them was a business achievement. People remember you for the small, personal things.” Wisdom remembers to take time for ultimately important things.

Copyright 2014, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

The Lesson of Solomon’s Life

These are the proverbs of Solomon, the Son of David, the King of Israel (Proverbs 1:1).

Three wisdom books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, bear some mark of having been written by or inspired by Solomon. The Bible describes Solomon as the wisest person who ever lived. Certainly, he was the wisest of Israel’s kings. The reason Proverbs begins as it does is to alert the reader to the fact that this is no ordinary book. It is a book of wisdom inspired, written, or collected by the wisest human being who ever lived.

Solomon’s life is both and inspiration and a warning. Solomon was a patron of the wise men of Israel while alive and remembered as a supporter of wisdom literature after his death. His personal wisdom in ruling Israel and in judging disputes was legendary. Every school boy and girl knows the story of the two women who disputed over who was the real mother of a baby and of Solomon’s order to cut the baby in half so that he could see the reaction of the true mother (I Kings 3:16-28).

On the other hand, Solomon was unwise in his choice of wives, in his selfish desire to satisfy every craving of this heart, and in excessively taxing Israel. He was not a great father–or at least he raised a foolish son. Ultimately, he was unfaithful to God who gave him his wisdom, his wealth, and his power.

His life is, therefore, both an inspiration and a warning: wisdom is important, but it is not everything. The deepest wisdom is not a wisdom of the mind, but of the heart. Only when our heart is fully centered on God can we become wise. Respect for God is not just the beginning of wisdom. It is the condition of its development, continuation, and growth.

 

Copyright 2014, Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

Pass It On

There is an older praise song entitled “Pass it On.” The one thing Jesus asked us to do was to pass the faith along (Matthew 28:19-20). The most important people to which we pass our faith is our children. In our society, this is becoming more and more difficult every day.

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That’s how it is with God’s Love,
Once you’ve experienced it,
Your spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on.”

Reflection on Psalm 133

God intended the world for shalom (peace). The LORD intended us to experience peace with God, peace with each other, peace with creation, and peace within our own hearts. When we find that peace, “How good and pleasant it is” and “There the blessings of the Lord are” (Psalm 133). When we find that peace, we have found the Kingdom of Heaven.

Beginning the Journey on the Path of Life

“A deep respect and awe for God is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10, GCS).

In every discipline there is a kind of “first principle,” something we have to get right at the very beginning or everything else will go wrong. In golf, for example, if you don’t hold the clubs the right way, no matter how hard you try you will not ever get your swing absolutely right. In the case of wisdom, our attitude towards God comes first. If we don’t get that right, we will never be wise.

In most translations, Proverbs 1:6 and 9:10 begin, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” The Hebrew word translated fear has multiple connotations, and “fear” is its most natural translation. Unfortunately, most people in our society do not think of “fear” as a positive emotion. We especially don’t think fear should motivate our obedience to God.

In my translation I have used the term “deep respect and awe” to describe the attitude towards God that ends in wisdom. God is infinitely more powerful that we are. God is infinitely wiser than we are. God is infinitely more loving, kind, and caring than we are. Such wisdom should cause us to respect God, obey God, love God, and put God first in our thoughts and actions. It is at this point that we are ready to receive the wisdom of God.

This Blog is designed to explore wisdom and leadership–how it is we move from one state of being in the world to a better state. The posts will deal with some aspect of wise living and wise leading. I normally do not comment on current events unless they lead to a clearer understanding of the necessity for wisdom in life, in community, and in leadership.

Copyright 2014, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved