wiser by Dilip Jest, MD., with Scott Lafee–Book Review

The author of this book is not Christian, but wisdom is a biblical topic, and of interest to all people of faith.  Dilip Jest is a doctor and for many years has been studying the neuroscience of wisdom.  His first step is to define wisdom.  What are the qualities of a wise person?  After consulting various religions and philosophies and rounds of surveys with experts, he came  up with the following list of items that are characteristic of wisdom:

  • Prosocial attitudes and behavior — these include empathy, compassion and altruism
  • Emotional stability with happiness –the ability to maintain self-control and positive feelings
  • Balancing decisiveness with acceptance of uncertainty–realizing that things can change over time with new knowledge and experience
  • Reflection and self understanding–this includes insight, intuition and self-awareness
  • Social decision-making and pragmatic knowledge of life–i.e. the ability to give good advice
  • Spirituality–a belief in something larger than the individual

He also concluded that wisdom does increase with age, and is uniquely human and personal.

He spends time on each component of wisdom and how it can be cultivated, as well as the brain and how the decision making process works.  He has developed a scale to measure wisdom — the San Diegeo Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE)– and the 24 statements used are included in one of the chapters.  However, Dr. Jeste suggests that you go to this interactive website — http://sdwise.ucsd.edu–and do the assessment online.  The site will automatically give you your Wisdom Index total score, as well as your score on each component of wisdom along with the mean and standard deviation of scores for people in your own age and sex group.  You will not be asked for any personal information other than age, sex and level of education, and your anonymous results will be used to further refine and improve the scale and its value.  I haven’t done this yet, but I plan to.

Of course, there are things about this book, that from a Christian worldview are simply incorrect.  It is subtitle, “The scientific roots of wisdom, and what makes us good.”  We know that we cannot be made good this side of heaven.  However, there are other conclusions that do not surprise or offend — for example, research supports we become healtihier people not by simply professing a religious faith, but by practicing it.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  I don’t know if everyone will find this book fascinating, but I did.  I love to learn about the brain and find it amazing that scientific research often supports biblical truth.

Personality or Character?

I’ve been musing about this idea for a while now.  With the election coming up, a friend directed me to a YouTube video of an “election sermon” (the term sermon is used loosely in this context, at least in my opinion).  The pastor said that once a year, he does this, in order to give his congregants advice on deciding how to vote.  He pointed out that our choices should be made of the basis of the policies supported and represented, not the personality of the candidate.  I certainly agree with this …. However…. what about a person’s character?  What is the difference and are those differences important?

So, I’ve been doing some research, and here’s what I found.  Personality refers to our outer self.  People notice and react to our personality all the time.  We may be impulsive or blunt, outgoing or shy, gloomy or cheerful.  Our character is our inner self.  It is less apparent, and is revealed by the way our deeply held beliefs and moral codes influence our behavior.  It may be harder to determine someone’s character because we must observe their actions over time. Character is more stable.  It rarely changes, unless the individual’s core beliefs change.  Personality is easier to manipulate, and has even been called a “mask.”

Having said all this, what does it mean, especially in a political context?  To me, it means examining a candidate according to both their views and behavior over time.  Are they consistent?  Are they loyal?  Do they lead a life that is worthy or respect?  Do they respect others, regardless of their political views? Do they demonstrate true compassion? Do they seek to promote unity and understanding or stir up discord?

Can a person espouse Christian values and positions and lack Christian character?  If that is what I see, I would doubt their trustworthiness and be uninclined to support them.  Over time, that person will advance those things that represent their true inner beliefs (whatever those are).  Unfortunately many of our politicians, in both parties, seem primarily concerned with self aggrandizement and personal power.

What kind of character are we looking for?  In my Sunday School class, we’ve been studying Colossians which says:

“… rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language …. Do not lie to each other … clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience …”  Colossians 3:8-9, 12

Election day is over.  We’ve made our choices.  Only time will tell if we’ve been wise.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established”  Proverbs 24:3

 

 

 

Martin Luther on Youth

“If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need those of us who are old.”

Martin Luther

For more quotes by Martin Luther see these posts:

Martin Luther on Heavenly Blessings

Martin Luther on Sin

Martin Luther on Witnessing

 

More on Loving One Another

Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) was a priest in the Church of England, as well as a novelist and poet.  In this quote, he urges us to “love one another.”

“Let us see that whenever we have failed to be loving, we have also failed to be wise;  that whenever we have been blind to our neighbors’ interests, we have also been blind to our own;  whenever we have hurt others, we have hurt ourselves still more.  Let all of us at this blessed Whitsuntide, ask forgiveness of God for all acts of malice and  lack of charity, all blindness and hardness of heart;  and pray for the spirit of true charity, which alone is true wisdom.  And let us come to Holy Communion in charity with one another and with all;  determined henceforth to feel for one another, and with each other;  to put ourselves in our neighbors’ places;  to see with their eyes, and to feel with their hearts, so far as God shall give us that great grace;  determined to make allowances for their mistakes and failings;  to give and forgive, even as God gives and forgives for ever;  that so we may be indeed the children of our Father in heaven, whose name is Love.

For more on loving one another see these posts:

Love One Another

Wash One Another’s Feet??

Keep Loving One Another

 

Where is Wisdom by Scott James — Book Review

This attractive picture book is beautifully and colorfully illustrated by Hein Zaayman.  The text is inspired by Job 28 which begins:

“Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold that they refine.  Iron is taken out of the earth and copper is smelted from the ore.”

Subtitled, A Treasure Hunt Through God’s Wondrous World, author Scott James uses the analogy of mining to describe how we must “dig” to find wisdom, which is a valuable treasure.  The information given is biblically correct, and there is a final page with a theme verse and thought questions for parents or teachers to use in discussing the material further.

Those good things being said, I do have a concern about this book.  It seems designed to appeal to younger  children (I would say age 10 or below), but the concept of wisdom is abstract and will be difficult for this age group to grasp.  The use of the literal image of mining, in my opinion, would likely be confusing rather than illuminating for young children. On the other hand, a twelve year old would understand the concepts, but find it too babyish in format.  I’m not an educator, but as a parent, grandparent and former Sunday School teacher, I believe I am correct in this evaluation.

For other Christian books for children see:

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

The Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell–Book Review

VERDICT:  2 STARS.  Appealing to look at, but not suited to the targeted age group.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, follow the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/where-is-wisdom-P005816992

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.   Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

 

 

In the Beginning — Wisdom

“The Lord brought me (wisdom)  forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;  I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.  When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water, before the mountains settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before He made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world.  I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the dee, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep His command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.  Then I was the craftsman at his side.  I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence and delighting in mankind.”  Proverbs 8: 22-31

Did you know that wisdom was present at the creation and works with God, the creator?  I had not thought about this before, but it’s in the Bible and was one of our readings in the worship service last week.  And what is wisdom? The biblical definition of wisdom is the fear of the Lord as that’s where it begins and God is the source.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”  Proverbs 9:1

Sounds to me as if we should study the Bible first, last and always.  Without it, we’ll never have true wisdom, and wisdom is the only firm foundation on which to build our lives.  We can’t know God unless we read His Word.  Put that first, and your life will fall into the right order.

Admonition

The origin of admonition is from the Latin word admonitio, which means (cautionary) reminder. Further the word Admonish means: to warn or reprimand someone firmly.
Why do I bring this up? Because a couple of the many ‘one another’ verses tells us to do just that. Admonish one another. Romans 15:14 and Colossians 3:16.
Still this word seems harsh to our modern ears. No one likes to be reprimanded, it feels like an insult to our ‘be true to yourself’ culture. We want the freedom to indulge in our vices and pleasures of this world. Much like a brooding teenager, we bristle at anyone who might dare tell us a thing is not good to do. And often an attempt to warn someone else (these days) will end in an argument or a one sided verbal lashing.
Why then do we read in Romans 15:14
“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”
How can we be ‘full of goodness’ and reprimand someone? Isn’t that just people wielding whatever power they might have over someone else? Like a boss or parent wagging their finger at us?  But why shouldn’t we want and welcome constructive criticism? Don’t we need to know our weakness if we are to improve, learn and grow? It appears we can’t have it both ways. If one doesn’t want to be admonished then they have that right; but they will then find themselves in a rut. No longer seeing what it is that may be keeping them from personal growth. Similarly if you accept admonition, you must also accept that a change in habit (or complete halt in activity) must take place.
As is said in Proverbs 9:8 “Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”
Why? Because a wise man knows rebuke equals improvement. They also know that improvement makes us feel better. There is a huge difference between pleasure, and happiness. Everyone is capable of indulging  in some sort of pleasure, but pure, content, happiness eludes many.

The Gift of Wisdom, Part 1

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, if you call out for insight, and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…..Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”  Proverbs 2:1-6; 9-10

This is taken from my husband’s sermon on the gift of wisdom and used with his permission.

It’s reported that the most beautiful church ever built in the ancient world was named the church of the Hagia Sophia—the Church of Holy Wisdom found in Constantinople. Reports from multiple visitors spoke of the awesome character of the building, the beauty of the services held there, the sense of the presence of the living God that was palpable to everyone. Russian visitors said they were so impressed that they didn’t know if they were in heaven or on earth. No one will ever write such things about our little church. But one thing we hope that could be said of St. Paul’s just as well as they said of the great cathedral in the east—therein was found the holy wisdom of God.

Discussion of wisdom, holy wisdom, is found throughout the Scriptures, but is most evident in some of the Old Testament writings, especially in Psalms and Proverbs. Indeed these 2 books are part of what is generally called Wisdom writings, along with Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, and, occasionally the book of Job. Jesus also speaks of the people of God having wisdom as do the writers of the epistles in the New Testament. The people of God are called upon to be wise, not just in the ways of the world, but wise in the wisdom that comes from God.

In the reading above from Proverbs Solomon calls upon us to be attentive to wisdom, to seek it out as a greedy person seeks wealth or as a vain person seeks attention from others. But the type of wisdom Solomon discusses is not wisdom of worldly things. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians that Greeks—worldly people—seek after wisdom. But the wisdom they seek is how to get the most they can from this world. How you can be admired and feted by others and how you can accumulate the things of this life, that is the sort of wisdom the pagans seek out. The search for self betterment is pagan. All of those books in the self help aisles of book stores and self help programs on TV, they are all about seeking a good pagan life style. But for us, the search for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life in Christ—that is wisdom sought by us and by all believers.

 

New Month/New Theme

It’s hard to believe that summer is over, and all over the country young people are going back to school.  It seemed like a good time to turn to the topic of teaching and learning.  Life is a journey, and we never stop learning.  Sometimes we want to learn something new because we’re interested and intrigued;  other times, learning seems to be forced upon us –we have to familiarize ourselves with new technology, navigate around a new area, or learn how to deal with a health concern.  Learning doesn’t just happen in school.  Teaching doesn’t have to be an academic exercise, either.  Parents and grandparents are teachers by virtue of their life experience.  Difficult situations teach us lessons we may not want to learn.  Relationships teach us how to get along with others –those who are like us, and those who are different.

So I am hoping this month, the Lutheran ladies will post about what they are learning and who or what is teaching them.  They may want to blog about their Bible studies.  They may also blog about life experiences that have taught them important truths.  What is the most important lesson you have learned?  Who or what was your best teacher?  Who have you taught?  Do you enjoy learning?  What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?  All of these questions are food for thought.

As always, the ladies are free to go off topic and post about the things that are close to their hearts.  We always want to be open to God’s leading.  He loves you and so do I.  Happy blogging!

 

Here on Earth.

What I’ve been given is time. Not life, not really. If I believe in what the bible says (and I do) my life, as it were, is a blink compared to the life that awaits me in a very real kingdom finer than those described in any legend or myth. Still, the time I’ve been given here is such a great gift that I can’t even grasp it. What do I do with it? How am I to spend it and with whom?

I’m still trying to work out the first question for myself and my family, and with a firm assurance I can tell you I am a terrible steward of time. I waste it, and mock it, and complain about it either dragging on too long. or flying by too fast. I often wonder what I could’ve done better in time past. Then I turn around and wonder what I can do to improve my future, and promptly begin scheming. How utterly human of me.

Why not live in the moment? Now is the best time of all. Insight is all we need, a.k.a prayers of wisdom. To remember we aren’t given a spirit of fear is to resolve to use our time wisely. We profit nothing when we fear what the future holds, or fear what some might think of our past. It does no good at all, yet it is done everyday. Certainly time should be thoughtfully and lovingly spent with a large dose of bravery in the mix. Because here on Earth we have little time to decide where we’ll be spending eternity. As to who we should spend time with . . . time will tell.