Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wisdom is a public speaker

Proverbs 1:20, 21
Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:

On the first day of school, a high school speech teacher stood up behind his podium, cleared his throat, and in a clear loud voice he startled the students with, “You can gave the most eloquent, purposeful, speech in the privacy of your living room, but who’s going to hear the message.” All forms of communication are to express an idea, belief, or purpose to others. Why would you try to teach yourself something you already believe? There was a lot of wisdom in the teacher’s words.

Many people think that wisdom is elusive. They think they have to travel around the world to temples, mountains where old men live, and even schools, to seek some hidden wisdom on the meaning of life. There is an old saying, “Some day my ship will come in, and with my luck I’ll be at the airport.” The reason there are men spending years on mountains, seeking wisdom, is that they rejected it when it was screaming at them from public markets, and street corners.

Wisdom is not silent, or in some far off land, it’s right in front of us trying to get our attention. It screams, it yells, it holds up its hand in front of us saying, “Ooh, ooh, mister Kotter, pick me.” Wisdom makes it easy to hear what it wants to say, we just have to accept its message.

Challenge: Learn to listen to the message of wisdom, and when you hear its call, don’t look for a second opinion.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Beware of the bad leader

Proverbs 1:10-19
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, "Come along with us;
let's lie in wait for someone's blood,
let's waylay some harmless soul;
12 let's swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot with us,
and we will share a common purse"-
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
in full view of all the birds!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they waylay only themselves!
19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
It takes away the lives of those who get it.

I remember in high school how fitting in meant so much to so many people. The cliques would usually have a leader, and the rest would be followers. The leader’s role was to tell the followers what to do, and how to do it; how to dress, talk, or what they were going to do after school. The only reason that people belonged to such a clique was, that was where they felt they belonged, and the leader would be so welcoming.

These cliques, though seemingly harmless, had a big problem. The leaders made all the decisions, which left the followers without the need to think for themselves. Any decision the leader made was acted on without question. If the leader said, “let’s ditch.” all the followers did it. Without the leader, the followers lost their identity.

Bad leaders will entice a follower with promises of money, popularity, or a place where they’re always welcome. The followers of these leaders have very little initiative to get what they want on their own. They’re usually lazy, and in some cases greedy. The enticement by the leader is money with half the work, and twice the speed. These followers are the first ones in line for the get rich quick schemes. They will usually do what ever the leader says no matter what the cost, even if it takes someone else’s freedom, or life.

The greedy man’s golden rule, “He who has the gold, makes the rules.” is a prime example of someone preying on another person’s envy and greed to force that person to follow them. These leaders think that just because they have money, or a quick way to get it, that it gives them the right to be in charge. They constantly make empty promises to their followers. They will use the promises to string the followers along without any genuine concern for the safety or happiness of the follower. If they ever get caught for theft, or for any crime, they will try to make their followers the scapegoat.

According to Proverbs 1:10-19, you should never follow these types of leaders. Not only will they pay for their crimes, but by association, their followers will as well.

Challenge: Learn the difference between a good, and bad leader, then learn how to avoid the bad leader. Following the good leader will lead to a successful life. You won’t ever be caught for a crime you didn’t commit.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The accessories of the garment of salvation

Proverbs 1:8, 9
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

In the fashion world, accessories are just as important as the clothes you put on your back. We have all heard the saying, “Accessories make the outfit.” This is true in the fashion world, and the same can be said in the Christian world as well. The bible mentions clothes numerous times. Isaiah 61:10 says I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Is it any wonder that the garments of salvation would have accessories?

During the first several years of our lives, our parents teach us, and shape our character through their teaching. They just want what’s best for us, so they will try to point us in the right direction. As teenagers, we realize that they weren’t always right, they are only human after all, but that doesn’t mean we should turn our backs to what they said.

Most of us will grow out of the phase when we get embarrassed by our parents, and realize, “They may not always be right, but a lot of what they said was true, and we are the better for it.” Therefore, we go through life happy, healthy, and productive. Others will turn their backs entirely on what their parents taught them and they will spend their lives searching for a happy, productive life, but they will never find it, because they didn’t give their parents the chance they deserve.

God can use the lessons of our parents as the foundation of a happy, healthy, and productive life for him.

Challenge: Remember the instructions of your parents and be grateful for their influence, for they are the reason you are what you have become.


Monday, April 20, 2009

The beginning of knowledge

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

When I first heard this verse, I didn’t know the word fear has three distinct meanings. I would always imagine a person cowering before God, or he would face death by lightning bolt. Of course, I no longer have that vision. I now see God as a loving creator who sent a part of himself to suffer and die on the cross so that we can have life.

If you’re still confused on the distinction, here’s a brief description of each. One kind is an emotional response to a real or implied threat. This fear may not paralyze you, but it can stop you from accomplishing something. You could have a fear of going outside because you think pollution will kill you.

The second type is a fear induced by something or someone. This is where you get your phobias. Mine was always spiders. This type of fear will have a paralyzing effect on you if you allow it to persist.

Both of these are negative fears that can rip our emotional core to shreds. The good news is they can be pulled out of, by research, and facing them. That is what I did to get over my fear of spiders. I turned it into a research project, and I took close-up photos of them. Over time, I started respecting them and appreciating what they do for the world.

The last type of fear means awe, reverence, and veneration. This type of fear always has a positive outcome. Because of this fear, you are motivated to learn everything you can about God, and understand what he wants for your life. You are never paralyzed, and your self-esteem is strengthened.

The more you learn about God, the more you realize that he will always be with you, and you don’t have to cower before him. God wants you to revere him, and love him. He doesn’t want you dread him, or live in terror.

The way I learned to see it; reverence leads to learning (instruction); learning leads to knowledge; knowledge leads to discipline; and discipline leads to wisdom; and wisdom leads to God.

Foolish people always hate discipline. They feel like education is a joke, and that people who try to teach them are intruding on their good time. They always think about the short term. Live in the moment, never plan for the future, education does nothing for them.

The worst part of this philosophy is that they will search for meaning in their lives, but they’ll never find it. Their entire life becomes a seduction to emptiness. Their lives seem exciting, and full of intrigue, but that kind of life will eventually fade, and they will be left with nothing to show for it.

If you want to avoid a meaningless life, arm yourself with wisdom, discipline, and knowledge. This way leads to God, and a real life.

Challenge: Start a discipleship journal. It will help you keep track of what you learn, and your spiritual growth.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Our one, true freedom

Proverbs 4:13
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

When I was younger, I was told by a good friend that when reading the Bible that I should start with Proverbs. As a whole, the entire Bible is important. Every verse serves a purpose, but Proverbs provides you with a basis for learning and wisdom that can carry your learning of the Bible to a higher level.

I am reminded of the analogy of building a home. I know, it’s a little cliché, but it is still true. In order to build a home that will withstand the elements, you first have to build a strong foundation. If you start from the roof, the home will collapse in the first wind.

The book of Proverbs, as a collection, is a perfect foundation for knowledge and wisdom, on which to build your understanding of the Bible.

Another thing my friend said was Proverbs 4:13 is a great place to start. You can always go back to the beginning, but this verse gives you a purpose for knowledge, and therefore motivates you to keep learning.

A wise man once said, “Knowledge is power.” How right he was. With knowledge, ordinary men have become rulers. They have shot through technological barriers to create new technology. Knowledge has given us medical breakthroughs, without which people are defenseless against physical threats.

Without knowledge, we would not exist. It’s no wonder Solomon added this in the proverbs. We must hold on to instruction because instruction leads to knowledge, and knowledge is power. Therefore, we mustn’t let go of it. Instruction can come from anywhere, even from life itself. Try to learn something from everything around you. Learning is just a matter of paying attention to the details.

I hear a lot of people panicking because the government is “Taking away our freedoms.” The government has been doing that for nearly one hundred years. This is something we, as individuals, have no control over. It’s not wise to worry about things you have no control over. The thing we do have control over is what we learn, and how we use it. This is why it is important to guard our knowledge. It’s one thing no one can take away from you, even if they take all your freedom and put you in prison for your beliefs, you will still have your knowledge.

In the story of Job, God allowed Satan to take everything from Job, money, family, health, but he was not allowed to take his faith and knowledge. This left Job to make the observation, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” God gave Job the freedom of knowledge and how to use it, and this is the only true freedom we have today. So hold on to it, guard it, don’t let anyone else take it from you, for if you lose this, you lose your freedom completely.

Challenge: Write this verse down and put it where you will always see it, and use it to motivate you to learn.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't hide your talent.

Matthew 25: 14-30

Due to the length of this passage, I decided to put a link to the verses.

When we speak of talents, we are talking about a person’s ability. When Christ told the parable of the talents, it referred to a unit of money totaling over 1000 dollars. It was this parable that gave us our current meaning. It went from meaning money, to something of great value, to something special, and then to a special ability given to a person for use and improvement.

In this parable, a man goes on a journey. Before he leaves, he gave talents to each of his three servants based on their abilities. I believe that when Christ told this parable, he was preparing them for the day he was going to leave them to “prepare a place” in his father’s kingdom.

God only gives us the abilities we can handle, and he gave them to us for a reason. The only way for those gifts to increase, and become more productive for him, is by using them. This is what the first two servants did. The first servant was given five talents; he went out and got five more. The second servant received two talents; he went out and got two more. When the master returned, (the second coming of Christ) the first two servants proved they were worthy of his calling.

The third servant knew what his master had called him to do, but fearing failure and his master’s wrath, decided to hide his one talent. When he tried to give the talent back, the master took the talent, gave it to the first servant, then told the third servant he was wicked and lazy, and threw him out in the darkness.

When we hide our talents, they become dormant, and don’t produce anything. They don’t disappear, but by the same token, they don’t grow either. Since our talents and abilities give us a purpose, when we hide them, we live without purpose.

The good news is since we never really lost our talent, we can get it back. We need to acknowledge that we have a talent, figure out what it is, start to practice. If we follow these steps, our talent may come back slowly, but it will soon grow until it goes beyond anything we thought we could handle.

By bringing our talents out in the open, and living our lives with purpose, others will start to see the change, and become encouraged to do the same.

Challenge: Use your talent as often as possible, so that others can follow your example.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Different gifts, one purpose

Romans 12:3-8

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

I admit it, there were times in my past when I used to feel superior to so many people I worked with, because of my creativity, and ability to learn fast. As time went on, I started looking at those people, as people, and I didn’t feel so superior. Yes, I had a lot of book learning, and I could come up with creative solutions to problems on the spur of the moment, but they had other abilities. I worked with one person that, no matter how hard I tried, he was much faster at the job than I was while maintaining a decent level of quality. The more I looked the more I realized that everyone is a genius at something, which is why no one is any better or worse than anyone else.

God has given each one of us a different set of gifts to serve him, and others, in different ways. Like the verses Romans 12:4-5 says, we are all part of one body, but we each serve a different purpose. Not everyone was given my level of creativity just as I wasn’t given someone else’s physical agility, and while I was given the ability to learn quickly, there are others who can learn much quicker.

Our differences make us so valuable to each other, and give us individual focus towards one purpose in God. I am always amazed at work when the night crew complains about the day crew, and the day crew complains about the night crew. This is not an isolated incident; it’s the same with every company I’ve worked for, where there are three shifts. The night crew has no idea what the day crew does, and the day crew doesn’t know all the different things the night crew has to put up with to get the store ready.

The point of this is, instead of complaining about others to make themselves feel better about themselves, maybe they should look at the other person’s strengths and weaknesses to see where they can work together for a common goal.

Challenge: Look closer at the person you’ve been criticizing lately and see them for their individual strengths, how can you work with them, instead of against them.


Friday, April 10, 2009

The quality of life

2 Peter 1:5-11

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self control; and to self control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Living the Christian life is not always easy. Sure, when things are going great, and life is wonderful, it may seem easy, but our everyday lives are filled with schedules, deadlines, bills, stressful jobs, and families to take care of. This chaos can be both stressful, as well as distracting, it is no wonder that some people stray a little.

2 Peter 1:5-11 talks about the qualities that make up the Christian life; Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. These qualities are not actions, or things that you DO, they are lifestyle choices that we need in order to live productive and effective lives for Christ.

Many people try to compartmentalize each quality, and prioritize them, but we can’t. Each one is just as important as the other, and if we are missing even one quality, we will become blind to it. If it continues, it won’t be long before we lose sight of the other qualities.

By following these qualities, you will stand strong in the knowledge of Christ and the sacrifice he made to cleanse us from our sins. We will also make ourselves open to hear what God has called each of us for. If we strive to nurture and cultivate these qualities in our lives, we will never fall, and Christ will welcome us into his kingdom with open arms. If we keep these qualities in our heart, we will still have the sources of chaos, but they will no longer be a cause of stress or distraction.

Challenge: Keep these qualities close to your heart, and share them often.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A dream of fish

I don’t always subscribe to the belief that there are hidden meanings in dreams, but I do believe that dreams are our minds ways of working through life’s problems, and making sense of our questions. I believe if we pay close attention to them we will see the meanings clearly. There is an old proverb that says, “Only the most foolish of mice would hide in a cat’s ear, but only the wisest of cats would think to look there.” In other words, don’t overlook the obvious. The meaning is there, we just have to be willing to listen.

I remember, when I was 15 I had a dream that ended up teaching me a lesson. I was walking down the street, next to some businesses, when Christ came out of one of the doors and started walking with me. We were having a great conversation, when I asked if he had a fish tank. He stopped and pointed behind me. “Look behind you.” he said.

I looked behind me and within seconds we were surrounded by fish floating in the air. He informed me that each fish represented the spirit of every person on the Earth. “Which one is mine?” I asked admiring the different shapes and sizes of the fish.

He pointed at a brightly colored fish, with yellow and red stripes. I reached my hand out, and the fish floated into it. When I closed my hand, I could feel the fish shrinking, so I opened my hand and saw that the fish had disappeared. The longer I left my hand open the fish started to grow and eventually floated back up to join the other fish.

About two years after having that dream, the meaning became clear, when I ended up turning to Christ to solve a problem.

The meaning is this. The fish represent us, and as long as we give control of our lives to Christ, he will take care of us, and we will stay healthy and strong. When we try to take control of our own lives we lose our strength and kill our spirit. Only when we give the control back our spirit can regain its former strength.

That is what it means to me.

Challenge: Take a look at some of your past dreams and see if there might be a meaning in it.


Monday, April 6, 2009

The door of Love

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you that our god may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in him, according to the grace of God and the lord Jesus Christ.

I remember when in elementary school gym class how we would always do sports that required two people picking their teammates. Of course, with flat feet and pronation, I was always one of the last ones called to be on a team. This process never really bothered me though because I had a mental strength that helped me to learn fast, and a creativity that wouldn’t quit. As I grew older, I realized that I was called before I was born to a purpose that only God knew.

God has given each one of us different gifts at different levels of ability. Some he has given creativity, some he’s given logic, just to name two. What he wants from us is to be worthy of his calling.

How can we be worthy? We can only be worthy through our faith in him, and it’s through our faith in him that he can show us the potential of our gifts. Faith is an act of free will. According to Revelation 3:20 Here I am, I stand at the door and knock, If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

God will never force us to let him into our lives; it is only through the strength and courage of faith that we are able to open the door to him. Once we open the door of love by our faith, Christ can bring fulfillment to our purposes and acts of faith so that he can be glorified in us and us in him.

Challenge: Open your heart to Christ and listen for his calling.


Sunday, April 5, 2009


My name is Allen Bradford. Since before I can remember, I have gone with my family to church, and learned the stories of the Bible. It wasn't until much later that I started taking in the meaning. Having a curious, but somewhat sceptical mind, and an unquenchable thirst for the truth, I dove head first into my studies of the bible and all that entails.
There is one other part of my spirit that is equally prominent, and that is my desire to share what I learn. That is what this blog is about. My hope is that you will enjoy this blog, and come away with a new and helpful insight into what the Bible has to offer.