Thursday, December 8, 2016

Less Talk More Wisdom - Martin Wiles

Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. Proverbs 17:28 NLT 

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Several have said it in various configurations. 

When I was young, I acted foolishly in a number of ways. One was talking during church. I suppose the church my dad pastored didn’t have a nursery. These were the days when children still cut their teeth on church pews and were taught to remain silent during church. Acting childishly resulted in a trip outside or to a back classroom for a learning lesson applied to the hind quarters. 

My saintly grandmother—who didn’t want her only grandson getting a spanking, brought along a pocketful of Hershey Kisses—or silver bells as I called them. Stuffing my mouth with them for 45 minutes probably wasn’t healthy, but it helped me keep my mouth closed. 

Wise King Solomon had a lot to say about when a person should and should not speak as well as what they should and should not say when they did speak. 

Less talk promotes selflessness. As a youngster—and for some years thereafter, life was about me. Kids are narcissistic; so are some adults. But life isn’t about me. By cutting down on the amount of words I speak, I learn to hear about what’s going on in other’s lives. 

Talking less enables me to actually hear what others are saying. If I’m doing all the talking, the other person doesn’t stand a chance. Nor can I hear them if I’m silent but mulling over in my mind what I’m going to say when they finish talking. That’s called lack of focus—or focusing on the wrong thing. Looking at the person speaking to me helps me listen and digest what they’re sharing. 

Being a person of few words also helps me consider the importance of my words. One of my college professors had an annoying habit of pausing before he answered a question—so much so that I wanted to answer for him. Later, I understand his reasoning. He thought before he spoke—which, by the way, saves me from making many foolish statements.

Listening more than I speak opens up opportunities for me to help others. I truly hear and understand what they’re saying. Then I can speak—and act, with wisdom. 

Are you speaking less so others can talk more?

Prayer: Father, give us wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent. 

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Road of No Return - Martin Wiles

For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return. Job 16:22 NLT

Roads are as different as people.

I’ve driven down mountain roads that twist and turn. Other roads are as straight as an arrow. Long stretches reach into the distance, and one can see for miles on end. 

Then there are the more common roads peppered with potholes. Recently, I’ve seen something new: variegated roads. Their appearance is explained by the cost-saving efforts of local highway departments. Instead of re-asphalting the entire road, the workers simply fill in the cracks, leaving an odd appearance. 

I’ve traveled on roads where towns are separated by many miles and on others where I encounter a town every few miles. 

But never have I traveled a road from which there was no return—a road that disappeared from behind me as I traveled it. Every road I’ve ever been on, I could turn around and go back the same way I came. Job, however, introduces a road of no return. 

Job’s road of no return was death. Once he traversed it, he could not return. Nor can I. And I can’t escape traveling it either. While driving, I can typically avoid certain roads by taking an alternate route. Not so with death. Unless I’m alive when Jesus returns, I will travel death’s highway.

When I travel this road, I can’t take anyone or anything along. No possessions or family members. No stocks or bonds. Or play toys. Not even my body. My immortal soul is the only thing I’ll take. The real me. I won’t enter into soul sleep nor will I be annihilated. 

The destination of this road is one of two places: heaven or hell. Which destination I reach is my choice—a choice made while I’m alive. What I do with Jesus in life doesn’t determine whether or not I travel the road of no return, but it does determine my final destination. 

Once I’ve traveled the road of no return, I can’t come back to warn others about where I’ve ended up or to encourage them to visit where I am. My chances of telling others about heaven and hell are over. 

I have no choice but to travel the road of no return, but I can choose where the road takes me. Where will it take you?

Prayer: Father, we thank You that the road of no return leads to an eternity with You when we make the proper preparations.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Throwback Tuesday - Martin Wiles

Temptation-Have To or Want To?

“Let’s get something to drink.” The offer disembarked from a deacon’s son who attended my church…and he wasn’t referring to a soft drink. 

My consensus began a long and shameful journey into the world of alcohol. Christians debate whether alcohol is permissible or forbidden. For me it was prohibited, but my philosophy didn’t prevent me from taking the trip.

For the next six years, I sporadically visited the bottle…sometimes in moderation, sometimes not. Read more...


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Monday, December 5, 2016

How Not to Be a Miserable Comforter - Martin Wiles

I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Job 16:2 NLT

Being a helpful comforter is more difficult than being a miserable comforter. 

When others share their painful situations, I’m sometimes a miserable comforter. Whether I ask them or not, I wonder in my mind what gruesome sin they have committed that has resulted in their dire straits. Or worse yet, I’ve uttered some infamous statements: “I know how you feel,” or “Let me know if you need anything.” Then I walk off, end the text, or hang up the phone never to check on them again.

Job’s situation was almost beyond description. He lost roughly everything he had. The comfort his friends gave consisted of “You have sinned against God. You need to confess.” Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. In the midst of excruciating circumstances, Job received a large dose of miserable comfort. 

If I want to avoid being a miserable comforter, I must show understanding. Perhaps the person I’m comforting has sinned and is suffering the consequences. Remembering that I’m not above sin myself enables me to provide proper comfort. Since no one is perfect, no one is beyond any particular sinful act. Often, as in Job’s case, the painful situation is through no fault of the sufferer. Suffering can merely be a consequence of living in a fallen world. 

Good comforters listen. Miserable comforters do all the talking. Those passing through troubled waters may need to vent. I should let them without judging. Venting can be a part of the healing process.

Miserable comforters don’t pray with the person who is hurting. Good comforters do. Not prayers of pomposity but sincere prayers for the person who is suffering that God would grant them comfort, wisdom, and guidance.

Good comforters aren’t afraid to cry with the one who is suffering. Shedding tears with them is one way to help them carry their burden. 

Miserable comforters use clichés and religious platitudes; good comforters avoid them. The one suffering doesn’t need to hear, “Time heals all wounds,” “I know how you feel,” or “God just needed another angel in heaven.” Clichés and holier than thou attitudes—even when given sincerely, won’t help the one who needs comfort. 

And when the timing is right, sharing comfort from God’s Word is always appropriate. Job’s friends tried this, but their interpretations were wrong. 

What steps can you take to avoid being a miserable comforter?

Prayer: Father, help us share with others the type of comfort You give us when we are hurting. 

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