Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: How to Gain Velocity
Preacher: Jenniffer Ogden
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 2:1-22 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “. . . indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding” (Proverbs 2:3).
“I guess that all depends on how bad you want it.” These were the words I laid on the lap of a young lady who spent the summer with us doing an internship at a local hospital. She was nineteen years old, but didn’t have her driver’s license yet. Her desire was to get her license and purchase a car so she would have a level of autonomy as she entered her adulting years.
She had successfully taken her written and driving tests to get a license. And now, after a day of test driving potential cars, she was looking at her bank account and weighing her options. Should she buy a car or not? I could tell from the look on her face, it was going to be a hard decision.
The biggest part of the decision was in how much debt she was willing to incur with her purchase. She had gone to purchase a car earlier, and because she hadn’t established credit, she was going to be charged 12% interest. So I offered to be her bank and only charge her 5%. She accepted my offer. She had $4,000 to put down. The options she was weighing? Whether to buy a $5,000 2002 Honda Accord, one owner, with only 60,000 miles on the speedometer or a $9,000 2015 Mazda 6 with more than 100,000 miles. The Mazda was sleek and modern and beautiful. It called her name. But the Honda was sturdy and practical and, though not flashy, was very well maintained.
She asked me to make the decision for her. I refused. I asked her to make a decision with her head and not with her heart. She weighed her options, and chose the Honda, knowing it would treat her well and she could pay it off in less than a year.
She wanted a car badly and after pursuing it, my friend had her own mode of transportation. When we want something bad enough, we can usually find a way to acquire it. Oh, that we would pursue wisdom with the same fervor that we do things that are more temporary in nature!
Recalibrate: Talk about a time when you were swayed by want over need. How did that decision pan out? Any regrets?
Respond: Pray these words: "Lord of light, give me that ability to weigh my options and separate want from need. Help me to be responsible with the things you have given me."
Research: Watch this Saturday Night Live skit on debt. (I show this in church once a year.)
Remember: “For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6, NIV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
What is your child’s favorite food? Is it something they can eat a lot of or is it a “sometimes” food? Plan to sit down with your child and eat what they like together. We have a cookie jar on our kitchen table full of chocolate chip cookies. Our granddaughter Zoe is now tall enough that she can see the jar, and whenever she comes in she makes a direct line for the cookies and points at the jar with expectation. Do I put the jar out of sight or do I teach her the meaning of “not now?” We want what we want. What we want and what we need are two very different things. Do we get stuck not being able to move until we get what we want? Is what we want any good for us? It is a beautiful thing when what we want and what we need is Jesus. He is so good and I don’t want to move on without Him.
Have you ever tried to get someone’s attention when they were upstairs in a different room? You might start off in a normal voice calling their name, then get louder and louder until they finally yell back, “What?!?” The Bible tells us that we should yell sometimes. Open up your Bible to Proverbs 2:3. It says, “call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding.” Find a time today when you can go outside and yell “wahoo!” super loud.
When I was growing up I lived in a pretty bad neighborhood. I remember hearing the sounds of car alarms and gunshots going off regularly in the blocks around my house. Sometimes, my imagination would allow me to think that I could hear people hiding in the bushes outside my bedroom window as they tried to think of a plan to get inside. Whether this was true or not, once I had decided it was and I was listening for it I could only ever hear the sound of rustling just outside. With it came the fear of not knowing what was going to happen next. I didn’t sleep well on the nights when police sirens sounded nearby.
Solomon teaches us in Proverbs 2:2 to make our “ears attentive wisdom and incline (our) hearts to understanding.”
I wish I had known then what I know now about how to listen and calm my heart. I spent too many nights thinking something bad was going to happen to me. But what might have changed if I had spent that time praying to God that He watch over the people who were truly unsafe somewhere?
How might changing how you listen also change how you pray? How could praying for other people adjust your own self? What does this sort of shift in mindframe do to your ability to understand God and the world around you? How might this understanding give you more clarity on what it means to be wise?
Making big life decisions isn’t always the easiest. Choosing where to go to college and what to major in was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to University of Washington, Southern Adventist University, or Walla Walla University. I also couldn’t decide if I wanted to be an elementary school teacher or a pastor. So naturally I turned to other people to ask them what they thought, and they pretty much all told me different things. It boiled down to prayer. And it wasn’t just a one time prayer; it was months of praying. I wrestled with God and asked Him to convict my heart about what I should do. Eventually, after about six months of praying, I found my answer. Are you struggling with making a decision? It could be wondering if you should ask that girl or guy out, or wondering where you should go to college! Proverbs 2:3 encourages us to cry out for insight and to ask for understanding. From my experience, we don’t always hear from God right away, but I want to encourage you not to give up on asking Him for understanding over your situation.
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.