Teaching Series
Wisdom That Works
Wednesday—A Storm Is Coming

Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: A Storm Is Coming
Preacher: Mark Johnson
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Proverbs 1:20-33 in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: “Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord” (Proverbs 1:29). 

My first job in the denomination was as a boys dean and Bible teacher in a little twelve grade boarding academy in Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada. Look it up on a map. If you can find it.

The school had around 60 high school students at its peak, and was a unique learning environment. One of the unique things about the school was its Physical Education (PE) program. There was no gymnasium to speak of, so the school’s classes consisted of monthly backpack, mountaineering, and outdoor survival weekends. 

One of the entertaining aspects of involvement with these learning experiences was observing kids who grew up in a city learning to enjoy surviving the great outdoors. One such girl was Sharon (not her real name). 

Sharon was a city girl through and through. Hair perfect. Makeup perfect. Nails polished (fingers and toes). Clothing designer label. Sharon didn’t enjoy dirt, bugs, wild animals, and sleeping in tents. At all. 

I remember the horror on her face as our principal described our first joint backpacking trip. It was a one week excursion that would consist of about 25 miles of packing, canoeing, and portaging (carrying our canoes between lakes) six lakes, along with packing our food, clothing, and toiletries, and learning how to catch, clean, and cook a fresh trout over an open fire (just like Jesus did—for my vegetarian friends). 

While all the training about packing packs and hiking was delivered, Sharon simply didn’t pay attention. She wasn’t interested. She didn’t think she needed to know any of it.

When the trip finally came, because she didn’t pay attention, Sharon’s pack ended up being 20 pounds too heavy. She also sunburned her neck, twisted an ankle, and got lost on the trail because she tried to cut switchbacks on the way down the mountain. 

Sharon’s attitude before the trip was a complete disinterest in knowledge. She not only didn’t think she needed to know, she didn’t want to know. 

As a teacher, I would hear these words in class: “Do we have to know this?” My answer was always the same. With excitement I would reply, “Why wouldn’t you want to know something that you didn’t know before?”

One of the best things about being human is that we get to know stuff we didn’t know before! A thirst for knowledge is vital to the soul. Willful ignorance is, in this writer’s opinion, a road to boredom and intellectual lethargy. 

Recalibrate: Have you ever learned a new thing you regret? What was it? Could it still benefit you?

Respond: Pray these words: “Father of my brain, help me to continue to strive for knowledge. Bring me to new heights of understanding.” 

Research: Read 11 Benefits to Learning Something New by Natalie Sisson. 

Remember: “Whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:33, NIV).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.

Listen to Jesus Loves Me by Listener Kids with your little one. Look and listen for the animals and birds. Look and listen for the sounds made by a carrot and some acorns. We can see that the rabbit plays a carrot and it sounds like a flute and the acorns sound like bells. Do the carrots at your house sound like a flute? No, mine don’t either. However it seems appropriate for a rabbit to be playing a carrot, right? If you were raised in church, Jesus Loves Me is a song you probably learned; we all did. I often sing this song to myself when I’m struggling to love me. All Jesus is waiting for is for us to say that we love Him too.

The last part of Proverbs 1 actually is a bit scary. It tells us what happens when we don’t take the good advice and wisdom offered to us. Proverbs 1:29 says, “You rejected knowledge. You did not choose to respect the Lord.” How do you know when you are respecting God? That’s a tough question. Have your parents ever told you how you can respect them? What are some ways you show respect to your parents? Brothers and sisters? Friends? If someone were trying to tell a story, but you didn’t listen and were looking at something outside the window or thinking about something else, would that be respectful? No way! Get some paper and pens and write one letter on each piece of paper. So on one sheet “R” then “E” “S” “P” “E” “C” “T.” Write a story, or draw a picture of what respect looks like on the back of all the papers.

I had a cat that I loved dearly named Spike. Spike was a kitten and loved to hide underneath the bed and wait for unsuspecting feet to wander by for him to attack. Spike wasn’t a big fan of toes and spent his days making sure that all toes were unsafe in the house. Once Spike found my feet under the bed and dug his kitten-sized nails deep into my toe so sharply that he couldn’t pull them back out on his own. It hurt so badly! After I finally managed to remove his kitten talon from my bleeding toe, I kicked Spike away from me in anger. Even though it felt justified in the moment, that was a turning point in our relationship. After putting on a Band-aid and cleaning up the mess, I tried to find Spike but he was nowhere to be seen. After a day of looking, we figured he was just hiding under another bed and would be found soon enough once someone walked by with their toes exposed. 

But he never appeared. I never got another chance to see Spike or survive another attack from under the bed. I never got the chance to say “sorry” for kicking him. 

Spike had run away.

Proverbs 1:28 tells us that our friend Wisdom may someday be like Spike if we don’t treat her well. She says, “They will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.”

Have you ever made someone so mad that they wanted to stop being your friend? What happened to make them leave? What might you have been able to do to change their mind? How can you be a better friend in the future?

For years my parents have told me that I need to be more careful with my money. And there is  a reason why: it is because I struggle with how I spend my money. Time and time again, I will spend too much on food when I go out with friends or by cooking big meals for people. Often I try to ignore the truth that if I am not careful with how I spend my money there will be consequences. And, to be honest, I usually try to avoid the reality of confronting my finances. Proverbs 1:29 is about those who “hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord.” I can relate all too well with these statements. There are many other situations, outside finances, in which I find myself hating the truth that is presented to me. Are there any “truths” you have been rejecting in your life? Advice given or criticism you don’t want to hear?

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.

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