Friday, September 30, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (3 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Owning Our Responsibility

Despite all the comfort friends can give, when our children stumble or fall' we still ask ourselves questions such as "Why? What went wrong? What could I have done differently?" Some parents will be too hard on themselves, while others will find a way to shift the blame and excuse themselves of any responsibility. There is no shortage of well-intentioned fellow Christians who will assist in either errant di­rection. Some pile guilt on the parents while others exonerate them, in case they need the exemption for themselves later. And then there are those many well-meaning, sympathetic people who feel the pain of their suffering friends and simply want to give them comfort and relief. Nevertheless, if we are to grow in the midst of these trials, an honest assessment of the situation is called for—honest in light of the biblical standard.

So we must examine ourselves, not as an act of morbid introspec­tion, but rather to provide to the greatest extent possible a true as­sessment of what went wrong. This is part of our own sanctification. God gives children to parents who in turn are given the authority and responsibility for raising those children to the glory of God (Mal. 3). The Bible teaches that children are both a reflection of their parents as well as a reflection on their parents. Wise and godly children are a joy to their parents and reflect honor upon them, which is exactly what children are commanded to do toward their parents. Foolish and ungodly children bring sadness and shame to their parents. This is the nature of the covenantal relationship between parents and their children. The sooner we own this responsibility and accept the covenantal connec­tion, the sooner we can get on with recovering from our failures and repairing the broken relationships.

Keep in mind that the Bible teaches that our children bear the guilt for their own sins. They have their own sinful nature. Moreover, there are many other people and things that influence and tempt them. God makes it clear that they will be held personally accountable for their own sins (Ezek. 18). Nevertheless, parents are still responsible for what their children are taught, who and what influence them, and other forms of temptation they may be exposed to. This is exactly what God charges parents to do (Gen 18:19). Parental sins and the sins of the child are distinct but connected.

Before we can begin to fix what is broken, parents need to ac­knowledge their responsibility before God. We must stop making excuses for our children and ourselves and stop shifting the blame to others. The buck stops with us parents. There is a relief and even a joy that comes only by agreeing with God that these children are our responsibility. Now we can honestly evaluate, repent, confess, confront, forgive, and redeem.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (2 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Suffering and the Covenant Community
The church, the community of the saints and household of God, bears several responsibilities toward her members. These important responsibilities are both proactive, with prevention through covenant nurture, as well as retroactive, in repair and redemption for those whose children have rejected the faith. The church must proclaim the word of God as it applies to families and the rearing of children, teaching its standards and promises. We must not fail to lovingly lead our members to do what God required of our father Abraham: "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him" (Gen. 18:19).

Yet even the church that is faithful in this duty must still be pre­pared to serve its members in another way. People come to the church in various conditions, with a wide variety of needs. Many of these needs will be manifest in families that are in need of special help. The author of Hebrews reminds the Christian to "strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your, feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed" (12:12-13).

Chief among the evidences of a true church of Jesus Christ is love. Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn. 13:35). The apostle John sets love for the brethren as one of the essential proofs of genuine saving faith: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death" (1 Jn. 3:14). Biblical love is fervent, corn‑
passionate, persistent, and honest. Love covers a multitude of sins without covering up sin. Nev­ertheless, for those who are suffering the pain of a family wreck, binding their wounds must come before correcting their mistakes. Life is complicated and we must not presume that we can unscramble an egg.

One of the ways that love is tested is when one of our member households suffers failure or disappointment with a child. This is an opportunity to put love into action—to show friendship, compas­sion, and affection. Unfortunately, when personal problems arise, many people (even friends) are prone to retreat and withdraw while others find it the perfect occasion to judge, criticize, gossip, and ad­vance their own causes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (1 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

The above passage is not only the famous introduction to a famous Dickens novel; it is also not a bad description of child-rearing in many households. Those cute, sweet little bundles of joy will grow up, and sometimes they break our hearts. The disappointment and pain of a wayward child can be overwhelming. Few if any pains can compare to the loss of a child, physically or spiritually, and our hearts will al­ways go out in sympathy and pity to those who feel that stinging grief or disappointment. As part of the covenant community, we are es­pecially sad as we "weep with those who weep" and in some cases even share the responsibility for failures. Parental sins and corporate sins often contribute to these situations and so we must look to our­selves and our covenant communities as we seek remedies from God's Word and rely on the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

God's Word raises such high standards that we, in our weakness, might be tempted to become discouraged rather than encouraged. There is not one parent who has not failed at various points. Some of the failures are relatively minor, while others are major and even catastrophic. Regardless of our level of understanding when we be­gin our households, the one thing we are guaranteed is that we will fail to some degree. It is also certain, regardless of where we start, that we will learn many things during the lifetime of our household. Failing will be a big part of that learning process. The ultimate failure, however, is failure to learn from our failures. It is not so much a question of where we are today in our quest for the faithful covenant house­hold. Rather, in which direction are we headed?

No matter how well we begin, no matter how much we know, it is impossible to raise a child for twenty years and not learn a good deal. Who would not change some things if they could start over? Our improved theology, experience, and wisdom would surely enable us to         
do a better job. Often, by the time a serious problem becomes evident, it seems too late to do much about it. Perhaps others saw it coming or the parents had some kind of warning, but frequently parents feel blindsided by their child's bad attitude, unruly behavior, or lack of faith.

Sermons, lessons, or books about covenant succession can add to the heartache of parents who are not experiencing such covenant blessings. As a result, many pastors are reluctant to speak out on these issues for fear of further injury to their suffering sheep. Yet a different perspective might be helpful for both pastors and the par­ents who are dealing with such problems.

Parents who are suffering should desire the message of covenant succession—"If only someone had warned and helped us sooner!" I remember a particular couple that was deeply grieved over their adult unbelieving children. I felt great concern and compassion for them as I prepared to preach on the Christian household. They came to me after one particularly difficult message on covenant succession and said to me, "Thank you. We wish we had been taught these things when we were raising our children. We are so glad that these young couples will be better equipped than we were."

Many failures come on a daily basis and are common to every Christian parent. With these kinds of failures we have the opportu­nity to receive forgiveness, correct the mistakes, and move on. This is one of the blessings of having such a long time period for raising our children. However, other failures are more systemic in the house­hold and become habitual. This kind of perpetual covenant irrespon­sibility, due to ignorance and/or rebellion by parents, produces far more serious and long-lasting problems in the home.

Since it is certain that we all fall short of God's standards for the covenant household, how do we handle the failures? How do we deal with the past? How do we respond in the present? How do we pre­pare for the future? Will we learn from our failures, or will they de­stroy us? Is there hope for those who have failed in the past, or is all lost? Let us consider a biblical response.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Valuable Inheritance

The Bible asks: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). We might add to that question by asking what shall it profit our children if we leave them whole world but they lose their souls? Now material wealth can be a blessing to leave to our children (Gen. 13:2), but it might also be a curse if it’s not accompanied but some things of far greater value. Solomon points out that “Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun” (Eccl. 7:11). The simple point I wish to make is that there are some very important things that Christian parents should be focused on regarding their posterities’ inheritance. Peter said to the lame beggar: “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). This, of course, was a demonstration of the saving power of the Gospel, and our lives should provide a similar demonstration of the grace of God for those who come after us; they will need healing as well. We all leave a legacy; an inheritance for our children and our children’s children. Some of that inheritance might include material things; but it always includes much more. A few things come to mind right away:
  • First, your children should have no doubt, whatsoever, that their parents love the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. That must be a settled issue in your mind and theirs. They will see this in your commitment to Him, His Word, His worship, your giving, your sacrifice, your hospitality, etc. They will carry those images with them forever.
  • Second, perhaps the next most important thing you can give your children is a mother and father that love each other. This is something that will make up for many other parental shortcomings. Education, competence, manners, money; all of these pale in the light of parents who love each other. While you probably show your love for your children in many other ways, it’s more important for mom and dad to demonstrate (by their love for one another), the love between Christ and His Church than in any other way. Your children need to see this regularly.
  • Third, leave your descendants a legacy of integrity; a good name. Always tell the truth; always keep your promises; always keep your commitments; not only to them but to everyone. They’re watching and they’ll remember. You want them to recount: “If my mom, or my dad said they would do something, you could bank on it.”
  • Fourth, may your children inherit a legacy of respectnot only for you, but because of youbecause they saw continually how you respected others. They will always remember how you treated authority and how you treated the lowly; they will inherit that from you. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

More From Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • You have granted me many blessings; let me also accept what is hard from your hand. Prayers from Prison
  • The first call which every Christian experiences is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. The Cost of Discipleship
  • Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of anxiety. The Cost of Discipleship
  • In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give; life can be rich only with such realization. Letters and Papers from Prison
  • Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as ourselves. The Cost of Discipleship
  • I can no longer condemn or hate a brother [or sister] for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed through intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died. Life Together
  • We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility. Letters and Papers from Prison
  • Our enemies are those who harbor hostility against us, not those against whom we cherish hostility… As a Christian I am called to treat my enemy as a brother and to meet hostility with love. My behavior is thus determined not by the way others treat me, but by the treatment I receive from Jesus. The Cost of Discipleship
  • In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things, the figure of him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger. Ethics
  • The believer is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. To be either is illusory. The believer sees reality not in a certain light but as it is, and believes only in God and God’s power towards all and over all that is seen. (in No Rusty Swords)
  • There is no way to peace along the way to safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture. Address at Fano
  • The followers of Christ have been called to peace. . . . And they must not only have peace but also make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. . . . His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they over-come evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate. The Cost of Discipleship

Christin's Quote Book

  • Go sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here. – Jack Nicholson
  • Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard, and he had never been handsome. – Jane Austen
  • I learned long ago never to wrestle a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. – George Bernard Shaw
  • Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt. –Mark Twain
  • Only presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial “we.” – Mark Twain

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Discipleship and the Cross

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Jesus Christ must suffer and be rejected. (Mark 8:31-38) This 'must' is inherent in the promise of God—the Scripture must be fulfilled. Here there is a distinction between suffering and rejection. Had He only suffered, Jesus might still have been applauded as the Messiah.[95]
  • Jesus is a rejected Messiah. His rejection robs the passion of its halo of glory. It must be a passion without honor. Suffering and rejection sum up the whole cross of Jesus. To die on the cross means to die despised and rejected of men. Suffering and rejection are laid upon Jesus as a divine necessity, and every attempt to prevent it is the work of the devil, especially when it comes from his own disciples; for it is in fact an attempt to prevent Christ from being Christ. (Peter in Matthew 16)
  • That shows how the very notion of a suffering Messiah was scandal to the Church. … Peter’s protest displays his own unwillingness to suffer and that means that Satan has gained entry into the Church, and is trying to tear it away from the cross of its Lord.
  • Jesus must therefore make it clear beyond all doubt that the "must" of suffering applies to his disciples no less than to himself. … Discipleship means adherence to the person of Jesus, and therefore submission to the law of Christ which is the law of the cross.[96]  [See John 15:20-21]
  • To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only Him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. … All that self-denial can say is: "He leads the way, keep close to Him."
  • "…and take up his cross." … Only when we have become completely oblivious of self are we ready to bear the cross for His sake. If in the end we know only Him, if we have ceased to notice the pain of our own cross, we are indeed looking only unto Him. If Jesus had not so graciously prepared us for this work, we should have found it unbearable.[97]
  • To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity. … the suffering which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.
  • It is not suffering per se but suffering-and-rejection, and not rejection for any cause of conviction of our own, but rejection for the sake of Christ. If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, if we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regarding the cross as an ordinary everyday calamity… We have then forgotten that the cross means rejection and shame as well as suffering.
  • The Psalmist was lamenting that he was despised and rejected of men, and that is an essential quality of the suffering of the cross. But this notion has ceased to be intelligible to a Christianity which can no longer see any difference between an ordinary human life and life committed to Christ. The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest.
  • Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross. The cross is there, right from he beginning, he has only got to pick it up, there is no need for him to go out and look for a cross for himself… Every Christian has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection.[98]
  • But each has a different share: some God deems worthy of the highest form of suffering, and given them the grace of martyrdom, while others He does not allow to be tempted above that they are able to bear….
  • The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. …death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man [or nature] at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die…
  • The call to discipleship… means both death and life… [It] sets the Christian in the middle of the daily arena against sin and the devil. Every day he encounters new temptations, and every day he must suffer anew for Jesus Christ’s sake. The wounds and scars he receives in the fray are living tokens of this participation in the cross of his Lord.[99]
  • But there is another kind of suffering and shame which the Christian is not spared. While … only the sufferings of Christ are a means of atonement, yet since he has borne the sins of the whole world, the Christian also has to undergo temptation [and] bear the sins of others; he too must bear their shame and be driven like a scapegoat from the gates of the city. (Heb. 13:12-15) …The passion of Christ strengthens him to overcome the sins of others by forgiving them. "Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2) …
  • Suffering then is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master… That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church… If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow Him. But if we lose our lives in His service and carry out cross, we shall find our lives again in the fellowship of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ and His cross and all the offense which the cross brings in its train.
  • Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ… It is a joy and token of His grace. … Christ transfigures for His own [the early Christian martyrs] the hour of their moral agony by granting them the unspeakable assurance of His presence. In the hour of the cruelest torture they bear for His sake, they are made partakers in the perfect joy and bliss of fellowship with Him. To bear the cross proves to be the only way of triumphing over suffering. …
  • Jesus prays to His Father that the cup may pass from Him, and His Father hears His prayer; for the cup of suffering will indeed pass from Him—but only by His drinking it.[101]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Call to Discipleship

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • "The call goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience. …. It displays not the slightest interest in the psychological reason for a man’s religious decisions. And why? For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ Himself.[61]
  • "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son. … There is trust in God, but no following of Christ."[64]
  • "The disciple places himself at the Master’s disposal, but at the same time retains the right to dictate his own terms. But then discipleship is no longer discipleship, but a program of our own to be arranged to suit ourselves..."[66]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Costly Grace

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
  • Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
  • Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
  • On two separate occasions Peter received the call, “Follow me.” It was the first and last word Jesus spoke to his disciple (Mark 1.17; John 21.22). A whole life lies between these two calls. The first occasion was by the lake of Gennesareth, when Peter left his nets and his craft and followed Jesus at his word. The second occasion is when the Risen Lord finds him back again at his old trade. Once again it is by the lake of Gennesareth, and once again the call is: “Follow me.” Between the two calls lay a whole life of discipleship in the following of Christ. Half-way between them comes Peter's confession, when he acknowledged Jesus as the Christ of God....[48]
  •  This grace was certainly not self-bestowed. It was the grace of Christ himself, now prevailing upon the disciple to leave all and follow him, now working in him that confession which to the world must sound like the ultimate blasphemy, now inviting Peter to the supreme fellowship of martyrdom for the Lord he had denied, and thereby forgiving him all his sins. In the life of Peter grace and discipleship are inseparable. He had received the grace which costs.[49]
  • As Christianity spread, and the Church became more secularized, this realization of the costliness of grace gradually faded. The world was Christianized, and grace became its common property. It was to be had at low cost.[49]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cheap Grace

As I often have to do, allow me to preface the series of Bonhoeffer quotes with a disclaimer. Every man lives in a context -- historical, theological and personal. Context helps define us and it also limits us. While I like what Bonhoeffer had to say in the statements I cite, I'm not endorsing all of Bonhoeffer's theology or his life. I don't know enough to do so. My friend, Pastor Ben House, who is much better read than I am on this (and most other subjects), has written a review of the Eric Metaxas biography wherein he raises some serious questions about Bonhoeffer and some of his theology. You can read that review HERE. Bonhoeffer, no doubt, got some things wrong (perhaps very wrong), but he also seems to have gotten some things very right. I found much of what he had to say to be very convicting to me.

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing....[45]
  • Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian 'conception' of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.... In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.[45-46]
  • Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. 'All for sin could not atone.' Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin....
  • Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.[47]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Could anyone stop the Nazis? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and author whose works, including The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, are still widely read today stood valiantly against them. I have been enjoying the audio version of this new biography, which provides a powerful picture of a twentieth century martyr. Bonhoeffer first stood against the rising tide of theological liberalism, holding fast to the truth that the Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God. Later he stood against the Nazi takeover of the Lutheran Church, calling his fellow pastors to stand firm with him. And like a true prophet, his warnings were unheeded—until it was too late.  Bonhoeffer was a man who lived out his theological convictions:

If we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for whose sake Christ suffered. (p. 447)

In a review of this book, written by Aaron Armstrong, he observes: “We’re entering a time where there are some cultural similarities are beginning to arise. Faith is increasingly privatized and actively despised. To be a Christian—unashamedly proclaiming that Jesus alone is our God, our Lord and Savior—is not popular. It’s “intolerant.” It grows closer every day to being dangerous. But it’s true. It’s right. It’s the truth that changes everything. It’s what we must stand for, no matter the cost.”

Who stands fast? Bonhoeffer said:

Only the man . . . who is ready to sacrifice all when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God—the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. (p. 446)

Over the next few posts, I will share a few Bonhoeffer quotes from some of his writings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Most Extraordinary Ordinary Thing in the World

Baking soda is so much more than a digestive that the mind boggles. Your roll of pills will do one thing and one only; your box of sodium bicarbonate will do a hundred and still have talents left to spare. Since this book is above all a celebration of the ma­terial and the common, I would like at this point to enter baking soda as a candidate for the title of Most Extraordinary Ordinary Thing in the World. Firmly convinced that it will win hands down over all comers, I take the liberty of com­posing the citation to be read in the ceremony at which the title is bestowed.


Longtime and steadfast retainer of the human race, your many names betokening not only varied talents, but also in­numerable kindnesses for which men hold you dear: Friend of the flatulent, Soother of the savage, scotch-soaked breast, and blessed Bestower of peaceful sleep after four beers, two heroes, and a sausage pizza;

Sweetener of life in general and of organic disagreeabilities in particular: Cleanser of vile coffeepots and putrid refrigera­tors, Tamer of gamy bones, Purifier of school lunch vacuum bottles whose milk has turned to cheese, Polisher of teeth, Gracer of breath, Remover of smells from diapers, nursing bottles, smoking pipes and old hair brushes, Deodorizer of floors made foul by messing cats, Sweetener of urine-soaked mattresses, and Restorer of freshness to automotive interiors rendered uninhabitable by retching children;

Leavener, and nearly omnicompetent Lifter of the otherwise forlorn flatness of our lives: Raiser of biscuits, muffins, cookies, cake, and bread, and faithful member, in this capacity, of many committees—notably of Baking Powder- and Self-Rising Cake Flour;

Last, but far from least, sovereign Extinguisher of conflagra­tions of all sorts, from the metaphorical burning in the stomach to the literal flaming of the fat that falls in the fire: Soother of sore throats and bee stings, Cooler of prickly heat and sun­burn, Smotherer of grease fires, Protector of the home and Very Present Help in all our troubles;

We who stand so deep in your debt praise your generosity; we who play not more than two instruments, who understand only four languages and can hardly express ourselves in any of them, salute the range of your abilities; we who require praise and publicity for what little we do stand in awe of your humility;

ACCEPT, THEREFORE, at our hands, this ORDER OF MERIT which we, though unworthy, bestow: If we were half as faithful as you have been, we would be twice as good as we are. May God hasten the day.

Robert Capon, The Supper of the Lamb

Monday, September 19, 2011

Christin's Quote Book

  • Short visits make long friends. – Hilaire Belloc
  • Speak when you are angry and it will be the very finest speech you will ever regret. – Raymond Asquith
  • Books and friends should be few but good. – Patrick Henry
  • Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it not at present. – Ben Johnson
  • But there are certainly not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women who deserve them. – Jane Austen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Extraordinary Men

Most of us learned at an early age to say “thank you” when a person gives you a gift. James tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Moreover, He has specifically given gifts to men, and he has given gifted men to the church (Eph. 4). And so, I personally want to thank God, and I also want to thank Him on behalf of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, for giving us gifted and qualified men to serve in the offices of elder and deacon. Today we will ordain and install two outstanding men to these offices: Lee Hill will become an elder (he has served faithfully as a deacon for many years), and Jonathan Landrum will become a deacon (having faithfully served another congregation for many years as a deacon). We are truly blessed to have these bondservants of Christ to serve the Body of Christ. May the Lord bless them and use them mightily to His glory, to our benefit, and for the good of the world! AMEN.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Song of Ruth

A little over 37 years ago I asked a friend of mine (Gary Hallquist), to write a song for our wedding, based on the text from Ruth 1:16. He not only wrote it, he sang it at our wedding. A few years later it was recorded by the Lennon Sisters (and others). You can listen to the Song of Ruth HERE

Friday, September 16, 2011

Heaven and Hell on Earth

“But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.” ―C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Love Yourself

The narcissistic person (the man who allegedly loves himself), actually hates himself because he makes himself his own idol. People often do the same thing with their families or friends and with their material possessions. Such idols will fail them. Indeed, they lead to death. In the fourteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus tells the multitudes that are interested in following Him that they must first deny themselves, forsake their closest relationships and give up all their possessions or else they cannot be His disciples. When a man does what Jesus says to do (and does it from the heart), Jesus sends him back to himself, his relationships, and his things, enabling him to see them and hold them from a new perspective. So, it turns out that real “self-love,” starts with self-denial. We’re then called to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” C.S. Lewis offers an interesting take on how to go about doing this:

Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feel­ing of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently 'Love your neighbour’ does not mean ‘feel fond of him,’ or ‘find him attractive.’

… Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find out that I was the sort of man who did those things.

…we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves—to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.

I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them. But then, has oneself anything lovable about it? You love it simply because it is yourself. God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but He has given us the sum ready worked out in our own case to show us how it works. We have then to go on and apply the rule to all the other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us. Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves. For really there is nothing else in us to love: creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco…
[Mere Christianity]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Being of One Mind

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” ―Philippians 2:1-4

Too often the attitude is: “Let’s compromise; we’ll do it my way” (and if we’re not going to do my way, then I’ll stay home, or I’ll pout). Paul’s exhortation (or admonition) to “be of one mind” is, however, one of the many calls in the Bible for us to be unified; to actually live in a state of communion (now how mature is that?). This is far more than some idealistic, unattainable goal of the Christian community; it’s a practical call for real sacrifice and love. It’s really not all about me. We’re frequently waiting for the BIG opportunity to deny ourselves when the occasion that matters most is right before us. Doing the little thing now is what will prepare us to do the big thing later. Walk across the room and talk to someone. Invite them over. Take them for coffee. Offer to help with the chore. Send them a card. Do something for someone… it today!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Something to Learn from Everyone

“Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” ―Romans 12:16

God places us in families and churches to change us; to use the strengths and weakness of others to shape us into more mature persons. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Pr. 27:17). He gave Adam a wife because he needed help. He gives us families and church communities because this is one of the main ways He supplies all our needs. We have something to learn from everyone, great and small, young and old, rich or poor, wise or foolish, educated and uneducated, etc. When we self-consciously embrace this fact, we find ourselves maturing; becoming more and more like Christ. God does not want me to be them, but He does want me to be more like them than I am. He at least wants me to learn from them. I might need to know what they know or do what they do (positive learning); or I might need to learn from their foolishness and not do what they do (negative learning). In either case, I need them a lot.

Moreover, I have a Christian obligation to love them, serve them and help them grow as well. I am called to strengthen the weak, encourage my brothers, and to assist in their Christian maturity. People, who are all made in the image of God, are fascinating. G.K Chesterton said, “There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.Quentin Lauer, in his book, G. K. Chesterton: Philosopher Without Portfolio, writes:

Apparently Chesterton was incapable of finding anyone as uninteresting or a bore. The responsibility, it would seem, for any one being a bore lay with the one who found him or her boring. Maisie Ward quotes an unnamed man friend as saying, “When you talked with Chesterton you didn’t feel how brilliant he was but how brilliant you were.” …Chesterton comes across, not as one who made an effort to help people find themselves interesting, but as one who himself actually found them interesting. It was because he found people intelligent and interesting that they could find themselves so. In any event the picture that comes through is of one who found life so interesting that he could not find people uninteresting. He undoubtedly saw in them more than was there, but it is also undoubtedly true that, when they were with him, there was more in them than there usually was. The point it that Chesterton did in fact find the world and the people in it wonderfully excitingwhich is to say real: “It is, in short, the man who thinks ordinary things common who is really the man who is living in an unreal world.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Better Than I Deserve

How are you? “Better than I deserve.” Now that’s a reply (when taken to heart) that’s indicative of a mature perspective. It not only helps us remember where we have come from [fallen, broken, and needy], it also places us in a place of grace [i.e., ill-deserved favor], and makes us thankful for where we are and what we have. Moreover, if we can maintain that perspective, it will likely take us far in the future. A thankful person is a humble person. A humble person is dependent on God and others. When we recognize our dependence on others we tend to love them more and to offer our gratitude and service to them. Maturity knows its place.

Christin's Quote Book

  • It used to be thought that children should behave like little adults. Like many things that used to be thought, this is true. – P.J. O’Rourke
  • Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics. – Fletcher Knebel
  • Where subtlety fails us, we must simply make due with cream pies. – Unknown
  • It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen
  • The more arguments you win, the fewer friends you will have. – Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Political Victory in Jesus

We are commissioned by Christ to go into the entire world and teach them to observe everything He has commanded. It’s the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, that conquers men and nations. Jesus is the “light of the world,” and we too are to be light and salt, illuminating and preserving. The Bible, and therefore the Church, speaks to every area of life. The civil and political realms are not excluded. While we don’t find a savior in politics; politics does, like everything else, finds a Savior in Jesus Christ. He is the “King of kings, and the Lord of lords.” “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2:10-12).

Authority, power and lordship are necessary prerequisites to any form of salvation. We cannot save what we do not control. None can be savior who is not also lord. Our own civil government, and both major political parties, offer rival plans of salvation: cradle to grave security, the conquest of poverty, disease, death, and war. All these and much more are promised by candidates who often point to the messianic state as our only hope. Our civil government increasingly asserts the right to control every area of our lives. If it exempts any area, it does so by sovereign grace, so that the exempted area is merely tolerated, not free.

When the state becomes our sovereign provider, it has become our idol. The crowds that accepted the loaves and fishes from Jesus were ready to receive Christ as their ruler. Our paternal state not only feeds its children, it nurtures, educates, comforts, and disciplines them. It provides all they need for their security. This transforms the state from being a gift of God, given to protect us from violence, into an idol. It supplies us with all blessings. We look to it for all our needs. Once we have sunk to this level, as C. S. Lewis points out, there is no point in telling state officials to mind their own business. “Our whole lives are their business.”

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” ―Revelation 11:15

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What's In It for Me?

God made individuals to be part of communities. It’s in these communities where the individual learns to sacrifice and serve, while being served by the group. Maturity always involves living in terms of the needs, and even many of the desires, of others. In other words, individuals receive benefits from being part of the community while the community receives benefits from her individual members. Moreover, the individual members have duties and obligations to the community that transcend their personal and individual interests. Therefore, when the community or the leadership (e.g., parents, elders, etc.), has determined that a certain activity is good for the group, the question the individual member should ask is not, “What’s in it for me?” but rather, “What’s my duty to the community?” or, “How can I contribute to this activity?” To sit it out (without good reason), is to act in a selfish or immature manner and to hold the community in contempt. Now contempt can be overt and hostile but it can also be careless and passive.

Friday, September 9, 2011

We've Always Done it This Way

Tradition is often a very good thing. It provides a type of liturgy for our lives; a regularity that is instructive and comforting. We like what we know and we don’t like what we don’t know. However, when we take the time to learn and do some new things (with good attitudes), we come to know and like many of them as well. Traditions can both be born and die. Becoming members of a group (e.g., a family or a church, etc.), means we should adopt the traditions of that group. We also have to recognize that as the group grows it also changes; that’s what living things do. If we’re going to grow with it, we too have to adapt to certain “new” things. New things, at some point, become old things. Every tradition had a beginning (and was probably resisted by some when it was new).

There are overarching traditions that most families or churches celebrate (e.g., birthdays, or Easter), and there are local traditions that develop with a given family or congregation (we always sing a certain song, or we have an annual family camp, etc.). One thing to remember in the midst of these traditions is the distinction between law and liberty. God requires certain things e.g., in worship; these are not optional. He also allows many other things for us to freely enjoy. We may not, however, turn our traditions into obligations. Traditions, within a biblical framework, are good things. Traditionalism, on the other hand, elevates traditions higher than they were meant to be. It’s another form of formalism, which the Bible prohibits. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It Ought to Be Done My Way

I am taken back sometimes by how often people confuse their personal preferences with what they think others ought to do. They might have excellent reasons to support their preferences; perhaps even convincing reasons. Nevertheless, when preferences get elevated to the level of an oughtwhen people are offended because others don’t prefer what they preferthis is a form of selfishness or immaturity. Wisdom and grace recognize, that while God does require some specific things, He also allows a great deal of liberty and variety. To live in community with others, which is what God created us to do, means I not only don’t always get things done the way I would prefer them to be done, but that I am called to something much higher; to show grace and kindness toward others and to even get happy about things being done in manner that I do not prefer. Sometimes, there’s a greater right than being right.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pretending to Be Mature

Sometimes we have to “fake it,” that is we have to do what we don’t feel like doing. We often need to act right first. In other words, we shouldn't simply “be ourselves,” we should be the person we ought to be; we should be the person we want to become; to be bigger than ourselves; to be  adults when we would much rather be children. In this sense, “faking it” is not dishonest; it’s self-denial, which is a step toward greater maturity. Not everything that can be said should be said. Not everything that can be done should be done. Self-restraint is a discipline. Pretending is also good practice.

C.S. Lewis observed:

“What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, even on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind, where the presence is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretense leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children's games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown­ups —playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretense of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.”
Mere Christianity

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Humility is a Sure Mark of Maturity

If you want to blow away your parents and other adults with your wisdom and maturity, then demonstrate genuine humility. Remember, the way up is down.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6

“You will save the humble people; but Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.” 2 Samuel 22:28

“The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.” Psalm 101:5

“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Proverbs 27:1-2

True wisdom always has humility as a companion.

“When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Romans 12:16

“Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. 5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused. 6 So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said:  “I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you. 7 I said, ‘Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.’ 8 But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. 9 Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice. 10 “Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.’ 11 Indeed I waited for your words, I listened to your reasonings, while you searched out what to say. 12 I paid close attention to you; and surely not one of you convinced Job, or answered his words—13 Lest you say, ‘We have found wisdom’; God will vanquish him, not man. 14 Now he has not directed his words against me; so I will not answer him with your words. 15 “They are dismayed and answer no more; words escape them. 16 And I have waited, because they did not speak, because they stood still and answered no more. 17 I also will answer my part, I too will declare my opinion. 18 For I am full of words; the spirit within me compels me. 19 Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; it is ready to burst like new wineskins. 20 I will speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. 21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; nor let me flatter any man. 22 For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.” Job 32:4-22

Monday, September 5, 2011

Christin's Quote Book

  • There are some experiences in life which should not be demanded twice from any man, and one of them is listening to Brahms’s Requiem. – George Bernard Shaw
  • Nothing is wrong with California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn’t cure. – Toss MacDonald
  • I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. – Woody Allen
  • It’s as easy as 3.14159265358979323846264334832795052241. – Unknown
  • I think that’s how Chicago got started: a bunch of people in New York said, “Gee, I’m enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it's just not cold enough. Let’s go west.” – Richard Jeni

Arrogance is Always Ugly

Wise men are humble men—humble men are godly men.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Humility is attractive, both to men and to God. There can be no wisdom without humility; it is the mark of wisdom.

Arrogance defined: Pride is what R. L. Dabney calls “self-applause,” or the feeling that a man gets when he makes a comparison between himself and some other person he considers to be his inferior. Arrogance seeks to display and gratify this feeling of pride by showing its superiority to others and by making others painfully feel their inferiority. It takes a low view of others and a high view of self.

Humility defined: Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance, and results when a man views others as more important, or as superiors. A high view of others and a low view of self. Genuine modesty adorns humility.

The proud man is always looking down—the humble man is always looking up. And so, it turns out that humility is, in fact, the elevating emotion, and pride the degrading emotion.

“A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.” Proverbs 14:16

Consider but a few examples of humility from Scripture:

Job: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job: 42:5-6

Abraham: “Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord.’ ” Genesis 18:27

Jacob: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.” Genesis 32:10

Moses: “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)” (Num. 12:1-3).
David: “So now, do not let my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains.” 1 Samuel 26:20

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Connection Between Wisdom and Humility

As it turns out, the way down is up, and the way up is down.

“When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

We have an example in the Bible of this connection between humility and wisdom, in a man by the name of Agur. His words are included in the “wisdom literature” of the Proverbs, in chapter 30.
Notice the humility of this wise man: 

“The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, his utterance. This man declared to Ithiel—to Ithiel and Ucal:  Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the Holy One.  Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?  Who has gathered the wind in His fists?  Who has bound the waters in a garment?  Who has established all the ends of the earth?  What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?  Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God. Do not malign a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be found guilty. There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!  And their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.” Proverbs 30:1-14

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Beauty of Humility

Humility is always attractive and is a sure sign of maturity. There is a connection between wisdom and trials. Most wisdom is gained by experience, and that experience is often in the form of learning how NOT to do something. We might say that wisdom is applied knowledge. It's not just what we know but also how we know it, how well we know it, and how that knowledge stands in relationship to the other things we know (or need to know).

“…And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment…” Ecclesiastes 8:5-6

Note also that James says the gaining of wisdom will require patience i.e., if a man is to be brought to maturity. This is one of the reasons why the smartest and the brightest people are not always the wisest. They come to trust their own abilities and strengths rather than their weaknesses. But God tells us,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” [And Paul responds] Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthains 12:9-10

And, this is why the Scriptures warn: 

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:7

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15

Wisdom transcends knowledge just as it transcends beauty or charm—they are very different things.

“Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-2

“A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.” Proverbs 12:23

Since wisdom is related to experience, young people might be more tempted to express a lack of wisdom (and even arrogance), and to exalt themselves beyond their own ability. This is not simply my assessment, but it is the assessment of God’s Word as it addresses the special temptations of youth.

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6