Wisdom from Within: Dr. Glen Collins

This week, guest speaker and new Executive Pastor Glen Collins teaches us the power and the neccesity of using our gifts for the body of Christ.  Glen is joining our Refuge.Church team as the Executive Pastor and will be involved in the planning, directing and evaluating of the ministries of the church.

Saturday Night Message Audio



Wisdom: Gray Hair of Experience

I (Brian) got the chance to fill in as a guest speaker this past Sunday at First Christian Church in Fort Myers, FL.  The topic was bridging the generation gap, coming from Proverbs 20:29, and a topic that has greatly convicted me in our preparations for the start up of Refuge.Church!

Audio Only


My wife and I recently took a trip to Vegas as we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.  We’re introverts, and so our ideal vacation is time at the pool, in a lounge chair, a fruity drink of some sort in one hand, and a good book in the other.

While sitting at the pool, I decided to read the entire book of Proverbs, cover to cover, hoping God would show me the one I should speak on this morning, maybe give me a sign of some sort.

There are so many good ones.  I felt like I should have all those reactions that Facebook has now…

  • Pr 22:6 // Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (like)Pr 3:5 // Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding (love)Pr 4:23 // Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (wow)And there were a few others that made me thankful for some of the new reaction options .
  • Pr 27:14 // A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse! (angry)You know how sometimes you just wake up in the mornings all refreshed and cheerful? Me either!  And I don’t trust anyone who does!
  • Pr 20:20 // If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness. (haha)You hear that kids???
  • Pr 15:17 // A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate. (sad)Jason Sabo: Rib-eye or Heidi, don’t make me pick
  • Pr 17:8 // A bribe is like a lucky charm; whoever gives one will prosper! (confused)Wait, what? So am I supposed to give bribes?  This is one of those verses that began with me reading it, then Googling some stuff, somehow ending on a Wikipedia page reading about Bernie Madoff … and much, much later on YouTube watching highlights of the Guns-n-Roses reunion tour.

So I’m reading all these Proverbs while at the pool in Vegas, I look up for a minute from my reading, and I see an older gentleman, gray hair, not in the best of shape, obviously from Europe … wearing … yeah, you guessed it … a Speedo.

I quickly try to divert my eyes, and look back down at my BIBLE hoping to erase any memory of such a horrendous event …

Anyway, I look at my Bible, and I kid you not, there it is …

  • Pr 16:31 // Gray hair is a crown of glory, except when wearing a Speedo.(that’s not what it says)
  • Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a Godly life.

And it was in that moment, as I quickly jotted this memory down in my journal, I took it as a sign from God, and picked our Wisdom to look at this morning.

As I continued reading, Proverbs 20:29 builds on this concept.…

  • Pr 20:29 // The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

In biblical times, this Proverb was kind of a like “yeah, duh”.  Old age was revered.  Having gray hair was a sign of wisdom, authority, life experience.  But in our culture, gray hair has become something we try to hide.

Anyone remember these commercials? This poor lady is only 38, had some gray hair, must have been living a horrible existence, but then she washed that gray right out of her hair, and now she’s got a new life and a new job as a decorator.

The Glory of the young is their strength, but the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

And so this morning, I want to look specifically at what this looks like in for us as a church.   How can we be a Church family who recognizes both the strength of the young and the experience of the old for the mission of First Christian Church … to love God, to love others, to serve the world?

We like labels … republican/democrat, white collar/blue collar, Cape Coral/Lehigh, young/old, black/white … but these labels can build up walls, and too often these walls can separate, and even divide us.

Walls works great for a house (you don’t want to see someone going to the bathroom while you’re eating dinner…. although for some reason Emery always decides she needs to go to the bathroom during mealtime, and for that reason needs her rear wiped in the middle of dinner, so my walls aren’t helping much).

However, walls are not a good idea for a church.

Jesus’s came to remove walls.  He talked to a Samaritan woman in public. Scandalous because of her race and gender.  He would not only heal leapers, but he would actually touch them.  Jesus spent his life tearing down walls, so that He could build a church that is UNITED in purpose.

Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 12:12-13 …

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free (some are old some are young). But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.   

Despite our uniqueness, despite our differences, whether old or young, rich or poor, black, brown, white or purple; We are all ONE in Christ Jesus. We are all many parts of one body.  We are diverse for God’s purpose.

In this room, if you are over the age of 70, would you stand up. This is the generation that has been deemed the Greatest Generation.  You were born before the end of WWII, you still dream about owning a ’55 Thunderbird, and these days you’re probably wondering, where the heck did we go wrong.

The next generation are the Baby Boomers.  You’re between the ages of 51-69.  I won’t ask you to raise your hands because you’re also the most likely to lie about your age.  Many younger people think you have no idea how to use technology, but the reality is, you’re the ones who created much of the technology we have today.  You used to be the largest generation in our country, but the Millennial’s have stolen that crown.

Now by every definition, I fall squarely in the middle of all the current generations. Gen X.  So named, because no one knew what to call us.  The MIDDLE CHILD generation stuck between the Baby Boomers and Millenials.  We’re between 36-50.  Some of us are having mid-life crisis’.  I’m not sure if we are young or old, strong or wise.  I feel stupid, and contagious, here we are now, entertain us.

Next up are the Millennials, which seems to be all the rage in the church blogs, books and conferences today.  How do we reach the millennials?  Why are millennials leaving the church?  You guys are between 15-35, you love selfies, and hope to someday invent an app and become a bazillionaire.

Not sure if there are any Survivor fans in the room.  My family is huge fans of that show.  But the upcoming season is actually called Survivor: Millenials vs. Gen X.  I guess no matter who wins the immunity challenges, every Millennial gets a participation necklace.  (joke)

And lastly, our newest generation … my kids … have been labelled the iGen.  This is the under 15 crowd.  There isn’t a lot we know about you guys yet, other than you all seem to be allergic to peanuts.

In our congregation this morning, we’ve got a diverse mix.  It’s one of the things I love about this Church.  We are a multi-generational body of believers.

Worship with Donna, Brittany, Kennedy, Mark LaRue.  Mission trips w/Presley & Connie.  Homeless Dinners & Car Care w/teenagers & retirees.

In a time where many churches have either chased after the younger generation, or have refused to make any changes to risk upsetting the older generations, the leadership team of FCC has tried to embrace people at every stage of life.

It hasn’t always been perfect, and it never will be.  Bridging the generation gap is a messy ordeal, because we’re all broken, imperfect people in need of God’s constant grace.  Sometimes there has been tension, where there should be harmony.

Proverbs 14:4 reminds us …

Where there are no oxen, the manager is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. (ESV)

Being a multi-generational church, with both old and young oxen, it’s not always clean.  There sometimes is a lot of poo to muddle through.

We’re family.  And in that moment, when we say we’re family, our differences begin to dissolve.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a Millennial, Boomer or gray headed man in a Speedo.  Families are UNITED in spite of what makes us different, because we are one in Christ Jesus.

In our western culture, we idolize the strength and energy of youth.  Many Americans feel like when they are aging there’s something wrong with them; they’re losing value, like a car that is depreciating as the years go by.

There are many cultures today that do a much better job than ours at honoring and celebrating old age.

Native American nations respect their elders for their wisdom and life experiences.  These elders are expected to pass down their learnings to younger members of the tribe.

In most Asian cultures younger members of the family have a duty to care for the aging family members.

In India, many families live in joint family units.  The old are supported by the younger members of the family.  Advice is always sought from the elders, from money to wedding details

Even in our own country, in prior generations the old (which is really just relative to your age, 13, 40, 80) was looked upon as experienced as we put great stock in their wise counsel.

But we modern Americans … in our pursuit of our American dream, the pursuit of our own happiness, have lost site of the commandment to honor our fathers and mothers, especially into old age.

This week, I was reminded what James says … Pure religion is looking after those who are oppressed and forgotten, and that surely includes a lot of our seniors today.  If we write off our seniors, James says, we’ve failed.  That’s a big deal.

… because the Bible honors age.  That’s not to say that the God despises young people, but that there is wisdom in the counsel of those who are more mature.

  • Leviticus 19:32 (ESV) // You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God
  • 1 Timothy 5:1–2 (ESV) // Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
  • Job 12:12 (ESV) // Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.

Over and over in the book of Proverbs this theme repeats, that true wisdom comes from length of days lived walking with God.  So while our physical strength diminishes with age, and I’m here to attest that it does, wisdom should increase with age.

Studying the church growth movement of the last couple of decades, I’ve read articles and books from church leaders that boast about how young their median age is, how they’ve been attracting Millennials to their churches, yet I haven’t read a single article or book that boast in the number of seniors or how to attract elderly members.  Not one.

I was deeply convicted preparing for this sermon.  Most of you are aware, a small group of us are planting a new church just down the road to reach what we call the “nones and dones” … but I have to be honest, for the most part, my thought process and planning has been on those in the younger generations.  I had completely missed the Bible’s emphasis on honoring age.

This hit me hard a few weeks ago while visiting Karen’s parents in Indiana.  Karen’s mom is suffering through advanced Parkinson’s, her dad is having health issues as well, and they’ve entered into a new season of life, where the majority of their week is planned around doctor’s visits, and literally just surviving some days.  I know some of you here this morning, are familiar with this season of life.

Karen’s parents are devout Christians, and have been strong members, even leaders in the body for so many years.  But in recent years, they’ve began to disconnect from their local congregation.  Some of this has to do with their declining health, and it being tough to get out and about.  But I also think it may have to do with how foreign church feels to them today.

In the past I would mentally roll my eyes as they’d complain about how loud the music was, or how they wished we’d still sing Hymns, or how they wished it wasn’t so dark in the sanctuary, or how the young people didn’t dress respectably for going to church.  And I’d think to myself, how self-centered! They must not care at all about saving the younger generation.

And so I visited their church, even though they didn’t feel up to going that evening.   But I tried to experience that evening from their perspective.

Their particular church is doing amazing work in reaching the young.  The music was rock style through a state-of-the art sound system, in fact, they even threw in a top-40 secular song to kick things off.  The room and graphic art was hip and cool.  The pulpit and communion table had been thrust aside.  Attire was casual.  All the events in the bulletin sounded like loads of fun … that is if you fit the target demographic.

But James speaks some powerful words of wisdom I think we must consider as a church …

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1–4)

Whether it’s fine clothes or filthy clothes.  Or Skinny Jeans or New Balance sneakers.  Favoritism has no place within the body of Christ.  But if we cater our services to one age group more than others, are we not showing favoritism?  I honestly don’t know that answer.  I’m still wrestling with it.  It may require some of that nuanced thinking we talked about a few weeks back.

But sitting there, putting myself in their shoes … I felt a spirit of repentance.  Not a single activity (at least that I saw, and keep in mind, this was just a one-time visit), from the songs, to the message, to the events, to the lighting, was designed to give honor to the gray hair of experience.

Do you see how quickly walls can go up?  Do you see how they can divide us because of our age?

And please here me, I desperately want to reach the young.  I want the church to continue to evolve its methods for reaching the lost as Paul teaches …

I want to become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor. 9:22-23)Most of my Christian life, I’ve been one who thought the church wasn’t adapting fast enough to new realities, technologies & trends.  But on this evening, in Indiana, God humbled with the reality of my own favoritism.

Even the absence of pews, and yes, even the absence of hymnals, caused me to pause and just honor the sacrifices our seniors have made to continue showing up on Sunday to churches that feel foreign to them.

When I got home that evening, again God’s amazing timing, I had a text from Austin Church that asked if I had any special songs I wanted for this morning, since he was going to be leading worship, and I said … YES … let’s sing some Hymns to HONOR our seniors.

This past week, I’ve thought a lot about First Christian Church.  A church founded in 1923 Mr. & Mrs. J Lindley Adams.  I thought of all the people who had gone before us this morning.  Who were the builders.  Who gave tithes and sacrifices and muddled through the poo.

I began to think of my older friends here today who have 70-80-90 years of EXPERIENCE to teach us of fighting for a marriage, seeing God in dark times, of raising kids and grandkids, of adapting to changes in the church … and why God says that the gray hair of EXPERIENCE is the splendor of the old.

You guys have seen it all.  You have so much experience.  And we younger folks, if I can put myself into that group for a moment, we desperately need your experience poured into our lives.

Psalm 92:13-14 says:

Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.

Last week, Gary talked about that “if we need help, the wise thing to do is ask”?  I’m asking seniors.  We need your wisdom. You have that experience.  Share it with us.

I know the church looks a lot different today than it used to, and how hard that must be. But if you’ve been in the church most of your life, remember the changes your generation moved the church through.  As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, there’s nothing new under the sun.

When you were the younger generation, those new hymns,  that are now old, were once terrible new songs that didn’t use the proper instruments.  That wall was so big, it actually divided our tribe in 1906.  KJV – Common language

I’m not sure what the future of the church is going to look like.  I imagine, someday, our corporate gatherings will feel completely foreign to me.  I’ll tell you right now, if you start singing country music and line dancing, I’m out.

But I hope, the young then, will recognize the work we’re doing in the church today.  I hope they will recognize the sacrifices I’m making to be OK with all their new ideas and directions.  I hope they will seek my gray haired advice and counsel.  I hope they recognize how difficult my season of life is, and I hope I remember how difficult their season of life is too.

And so as we wrap up this morning; How can we make sure we don’t build up walls that separate us.  I think it’s right here in our verse this morning.

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. 

I preached a few weeks ago, and most of the feedback I’ve gotten from that sermon was about my dislike for cats.  I must admit, they are stinking cute as kittens.  And thankfully, I think we have them all adopted out, and some of you will be glad to hear, we’ve decided to let our kids keep the momma.

But I’m really more of a dog person. That strong young pup you see is Yogi, and that gray hair of experience is Hershey.  They sort of embody this verse for me.  We got Yogi a little over a year ago.  Our hope was that our wise old Hershey would instill some wisdom into this young pup.  And you know what?  He did.

I’ve had a dog as long as I can remember, and Yogi has been the easiest ever to train.  He looked to, respected, and modeled his behaviors after his gray haired buddy.  They aren’t related by blood, but we’ve adopted them into our family, and so now they are brothers doing life together.

Yogi has much respect for Hershey.  I’ll go so far as to say he honors him.  Each morning when I feed them, Yogi stands to the side and lets Hershey have the first bowl of food I pour out.  But Yogi’s energy also pushes Hershey, who at his age would probably just lay around all day, but instead, each morning has a wrestling match with Yogi.

They love to go for walks.  Yogi starts out every walk full of energy.  We put him on a long retractable leash so he can just run from place to place, sniffing everything he goes by.  This week, in the ignorance of his youth, he ate horse manure on our walk.  In the splendor of his experience, Hershey did not.

Hershey, with his gray hair, he does often get very tired on the walks, and has to be encouraged or coached along to keep moving.

Both dogs seem the need to pee on everything go by, so they have that in common.  But you know what else they have in common?  At the end of the walk, they are both worn out and exhausted.

That’s us isn’t it?  At the end of the journey, we’re all exhausted.  This life is hard.   Whether you’re 13 and dealing with the mean girls in middle school.  21 and newly married eating ramen every night for dinner.  30 and trying to balance 3-kids and a career.

A midlife crisis, and raising teenagers in your 40’s.  Empty nester and retirement in 50’s & 60’s.  Dealing with our failing bodies and loss into our 70’s and beyond …

Recently after reading an article about how hard life is for mom’s in their 30’s … I Googled what age of life is hardest?  As you can imagine, each person who was writing the articles I found said their age was the hardest.  But again, God in his humor and timing, as I switch back over to Facebook, my friend Helen, who is a mature friend I greatly admire and consider wise, was celebrating her 67th birthday that day, had posted the answer to her timeline

The First 100 years are the Hardest. 

Life is hard.  And can be exhausting.  That’s why God gave us each other.  Young and old.  Strong and Experienced.  Working hand in hand.  Side by side.

We have to get involved in each other’s lives.  We have to invest in one another.  We’re a family … because we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Wisdom: Expectations & Boundaries

On this Saturday night (July 21st, 2018), we continued our summer of wisdom as a church, as we looked at and discussed the wisdom found in Proverbs in regards to expectations and boundaries.  This week was for those who too often confuse the command to love, with the disease to please.






Wisdom for Marriage (week 2)

On this Saturday night (July 14th, 2018), we continued our summer of wisdom as a church, as we looked at and discussed the wisdom found in Proverbs for our most intimate human relationship: marriage.  This week we explored we see that a Godly marriage has both the power of TRUTH and the power of LOVE.





Wisdom for Marriage (week 1)

On this Saturday night (July 7th, 2018), we continued our summer of wisdom as a church, as we looked at and discussed the wisdom found in Proverbs for our most intimate human relationship: marriage.  This week we discover the we all married the wrong person.  That marriage is two broken people, becoming one flesh, going to battle … together.

Homework for Next Week: Values





Wisdom // Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

I (Brian) got the chance to fill in as a guest speaker recently  at First Christian Church in Fort Myers, FL.  The teaching was on Proverbs 14:15

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

Audio Only


  • Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright // Bob Marley
  • Your time is limited. Don’t waste it living someone else’s life // Steve Jobs
  • And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate // Taylor Swift
  • Do or do not. There is no try // Yoda
  • Let it be. Let it be. Speaking words of wisdom; let it be // Paul McCartney
  • I pity ‘da fool // Mr. T

WISDOM comes from a variety of sources.  In Genesis we read that our world was CREATED.  From nothing, God created everything, including the way the world was to work.  He took chaos and gave order to it; there is a given-ness to how things work best.

Proverbs 3:19 (NLT)  By wisdom the LORD founded the earth; by understanding he created the heavens.

Proverbs 8:22 (NLT)  The LORD formed me (WISDOM) from the beginning, before he created anything else. (slide 15)

Romans 1:20 (NLT)  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.

That’s why we can see wisdom from a variety of people and sources.  It’s built in our DNA, in all of us, there is a natural instinct/attraction to wisdom.

There is a physical component to this wisdom. If we eat McDonald’s every night for dinner, wisdom tells us, we are doing to die early, but if we eat wisely, we will have a longer life.

There is a moral component to wisdom.  We know that if we constantly put the individual’s happiness above the community’s happiness, there will be a social break down to society.

And there is a spiritual component to wisdom.  That if we put our identity and hope in anything more than God, we will psychologically struggle.

There is a given-ness about the world, and if we try to live another way, then we are fools, and bad things are going to happen to us.

But, not only are we told in the Bible that the the world was CREATED, with order and a wisdom, but that the world has FALLEN.  Sin and evil have broken the world, and so matter what we do, or how hard we try, or how wise we are, at times, bad things are going to happen.

We must see that this is a fallen world.  No matter how hard you try to raise your children right, they might still through a tantrum in the fellowship hall of the church that ends with your wife being smacked in the face by said child (true story).

Job’s friends … they understood that the world was created, but not that it was fallen.  They were moralist, they thought that if you lived right, life would go well.  They missed the basic theology of the creation AND the fall, and if we do this while reading the Proverbs, we’re in trouble.  We’ll only end up disillusioned and disappointed when things don’t go as expected.

So this morning, as we talk about some specific words of Wisdom from Proverbs, let’s be sure not to turn this into a to-do list of good behavior.

1: because I don’t know if you’ve actually read Proverbs, but it’s a pretty impossible list.  Only one person who has ever lived has utilized the wisdom in Proverbs perfectly, and that’s my wife Karen (I mean Jesus)

2: No to-do list can ever cover every situation of life.  Proverbs is there to teach us Wisdom; how to think, how to use our brains.

Proverbs meant to be read in community, working through the book, piece by piece, bit bit and discussing as a group.  That’s why on the bulletin I’ve not given any bullet points, but a few discussion questions for you to take home, and discuss with your smaller community, whether it be your family, a discipleship relationship you’re in, or a small group.

The wisdom writings (James, Ecc., Job, Proverbs) of the Bible are much more than dictated moral code; They form a prescription for loving other people, and bringing us into step with God’s ways, in God’s world.

Are we clear?  We got that?  OK Good.

 For the last 3-weeks, we’ve been talking about Wisdom.  But this morning, I thought, we’d go another direction.  We’re going to look at the F-WORD.


I have to use the word FOOLISH this morning, because my 4-yr old Emery somewhere has picked up that the word STUPID is a bad word.  So I could literally drop the real F-bomb, the king of all bad words, and she wouldn’t say a thing, but if anyone ever utters the word STUPID in our home… plan on being called out and demoralized.

Sometimes, to understand lady Wisdom, we need to look at her antithesis.  And so the Proverb I’ve pulled out to do just that this morning is Proverbs 14:15 …

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!  The prudent carefully consider their steps.

And I realize there are some already going, but that didn’t include the words fool or foolishness.  Hang with me this morning, we’ll get to that, because we’re going to look:

  • What a fool is.
  • What kinds of fools there are.
  • How to be a fool no more.

What is a fool? 

A fool is someone who is seriously out of touch with reality … WHO … should know better. 

And so if my 4-year old Emery does something foolish like shove an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet, we wouldn’t call her a fool because she doesn’t know any better (although she’s used her get out of jail free card for that one).  But, if my oldest Kennedy (who turned 13 today) were to do the same thing, we would call her a fool because she should know better.

The Bible talks about a variety of kinds of fools.  I’m not great with my Hebrew, but, I’m pretty good with my Google, and so through commentaries I’ve learned that there are three types of fools talked about in Proverbs.  Most of us are pretty good at spotting the fools in the “other” variety, but never think of our own as foolish.  But the fact is, each of these types of fools are out of touch with reality.

Stubborn or Obstinate fool.

Proverbs 15:5

A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

These fools can’t take criticism; they shrug it off.  They are opinionated.  They are only willing to do things one-way, very inflexible.

Ruthless Fool, or Scorning fool, frequently in Proverbs we see these fools referred to as Mockers or Scoffers.

Often these fools, don’t even look like fools to us at all.  They look incredibly savvy.  They are very smart with money, relationships.  But be careful, they are only in the relationship for how it benefits them.  They can be exploitive and drop you like a hot potato when they no longer need you.  While the obstinate fool ignored criticism, the ruthless fool seeks revenge when criticized.

Prov. 9:7 // Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return.

The Ruthless fool loves practicality.  Everything needs to PAY OFF for them.  A high percentage of people who are successful in business, the arts, politics, even at times the church are these types of fools because of their ruthlessness.

But in the end they are fools, because we need relationships, and these fools sacrifice relationships to get ahead.

Lastly, what we’ll look at for our time today, is the 3rd kind of fool in Proverbs, and that’s the Simple Fool, or as our verse today translates the “Simpletons”.

Let me be clear, not all simple people are simpletons.  I’m from a small town in Indiana, where life is a little slower, where simple farmer’s like my grandparents moved to carve out a simpler way of life.  Living a simple-unsophisticated life isn’t the problem, these may be the wisest people of all; this Proverb is speaking to being SIMPLE-MINDED.

To be so unformed intellectually so that you can’t discern between good and bad ideas.


To be so unformed psychologically (so unsure of your identity, or have such a high need to be cool or fit in) that you can’t discern between good and bad leaders.

Simple fools are easily lead; they are influenced easily like children who haven’t grown up. They like the spectacular. The most dramatic.  They aren’t moved by the best arguments, but by the most forceful, dramatic or sensational, or best presented.  If it sounds good, and they want it to be true, they believe it.  If others are enthusiastic, they get excited.  If a perceived authority says it, then they trust completely without evidence. If a simple fool is criticized, they are devastated.

Simpletons tend to not stick at things; there is no long obedience in the same direction.  When simple fools become Christians, they often jump from church to church.  They look around constantly for someone who is going to impart some easy knowledge to them, or wow them with the best show.

Remember these guys?  (Jim and Tammy Fay)

Ever heard of this guy?  (Creflo Dollar, $65M Airplane)

And listen, I put myself into this simple fool group.  Recently, I was even swindled by one of the Elders here at First Christian Church.  That’s right, a wolf right here in our very midst.  Where is Brandon Scribner?

My kids have wanted a cat for a long time, but I’m allergic to cats, and even more, I think cats are from Satan.  We have a big 100-pound chocolate lab at home … if a cat ever grew that large, you know what it would do?  Kill you!  Think about it, every cat that is in fact big enough to kill us, does in fact try to do so.  Tigers.  Lions.  Panthers.  Even the smaller ones like bobcats are going to mess you up if given the chance.  Point is, I’m not a fan of the felines.  But I finally gave in, and said they could get a grown cat, keep it outside, maybe it would keep away other varmints.  So I call my “friend” Brandon Scribner, respected Elder of this church, who is the manager at Lee County Animal Control, he says come on in, we’re overloaded with cats.  We get there, he shows us a nice feral cat or two to keep outside, the kids seem moderately enthused.  Before you know it, he’s got me in some back room, showing me a momma cat and a bunch of kittens, telling me … man, this is the way to go … you won’t have to do any of the work, the momma cat does everything, and your kids will love you for having kittens to play with.  Once they are a little older, you simply bring them back, and you’ve made your kids happy, and helped us out by fostering these cats, and again, let me remind you the momma cat does everything, no work at all.

LIAR!  I was a simpleton and believed him.  Now we got this mess (slide/picture of cats), they stink up the lanai, they’ve had all kinds of vet appointments, cage has to be cleaned everyday, and of course my kids love them all, and want to keep them all.

Not sure if you can see the screen or not, but how many remember this little Facebook thing going around last September.  Some of you are acting innocent, but I saw this shared a LOT by many of you sitting here.  Of course this was yet another FB hoax that many simple fools believed.

In the information explosion that we live in now, it’s so easy for the simple fool to latch on to whatever point of view or argument that supports their current point of view, or seems the most exciting or sensational.

One article I read by Brett McCracken entitled “Facts are a Horrid Thing” said this:

Part of the speed with which the post-facts, post-truth world has come upon us has to do with the Internet. The infinite and indistinguishable glut of opinions, facts, spin and commentary online has a numbing effect that, in the end, leaves everyone less certain about everything.  If one can Google to find facts to back up any position they might take on a contested issue (and they can), then clearly “facts” have ceased to mean anything.

Just this week I saw hoaxes that a woman got pregnant by a flu shot, that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was giving away millions of dollars if I’d copy and paste a message, and that Donald Trump had won the republican nomination for President.

Earlier this month the satirical news site the “Science Post” published a block of “lorem ipsum” text under a frightening headline:

“Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.”

Nearly 46,000 people shared the post, some of them quite earnestly.

According to a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked: In other words people are more willing to BELIEVE and SHARE an article than to actually read it.   And so what happens then is we believe things, we form opinions based on a summary of a summary of a summary …

A summary, of a summary, of a summary, with twisted facts … hum … doesn’t that sound a little like church gossip?

And I know a few of you sitting here are feeling really self-righteousness right about now, because you stay off Facebook and Social Media or the Internet … maybe you even stay off of the Cable “news” outlets who follow this same trend of opinion and selective usage of fact; But if you’re a part of our society, you are being impacted by this disturbing post-fact, and post-truth, believe anything culture.

And you may say, Brian, what does it really matter.  So what if I believe that the new Finding Dory movie features a transgendered stingray?  (it doesn’t btw)

Being so gullible hurts out ability to share the gospel with others because we look like we will believe anything, so our claims to some special Good News looks like nothing more than sharing a post we haven’t even read.

But even more important is that in our post-modern society, where truth is relative, we can easily slide into thinking it doesn’t really matter what you believe.

Jesus says I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life, no one comes to the Father except through me. He doesn’t say go to heaven for being a good person.  He doesn’t say the goal of life is to be happy.  He doesn’t say there are many paths to salvation.  There is but one Way, Truth and Life … and when we are simple fools, who believe everything we hear, we run the risk of being fooled away from the truth of the gospel.

Paul wrote about this to the Galatians when he says …

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.  You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. (Ga 1:6–7 NLT).

So how do we deal with this information overload?  How to be avoid being fooled?  Let’s go back to our Proverb for Wisdom.

Simpletons believe everything they’re told, BUT the PRUDENT (sensible, judicious, well advised, wise) CAREFULLY CONSIDER THEIR STEPS. 

This past week, we headed north to visit family in Indiana, and on our way, we stopped over for a few days in Gatlinburg to do some hiking and take in the beauty of God’s creation that wasn’t palm trees and beaches, although we’re always glad to get home to those.  As we embarked on a 3 mile hike up the mountain to see Rainbow falls, that took WAY longer than we expected, I couldn’t help but think of this verse.  As we climbed the mountain, we had to carefully consider our steps.  The terrain was rough.  The rocks were slippery.  I’m clumsy anyway, so it seemed like I was stubbing my toe or tripping every other step… But as we continued to climb, I became wiser and more careful as we considered the next step and we eventually made it to this beautiful waterfall.

On our hike, some of our non-prudent steps weren’t a big deal, just a little trip, some bumps and bruises, one of which resulted in our 4-year old ending up covered in mud, and she hates being dirty (drama).  But no big deal, the bump and bruises that would quickly heal.

Some wrong steps are a little more troublesome.  The pain a little more severe, and longer lasting.  Like believing a network marketing scheme, or believing you should take out a mortgage that you can’t afford.

But there were some other foolish steps, had we taken, could have resulted in much much worse, including at a few points along the hike falling to our death off the side of a cliff.

A wise believer must be prudent, must be careful, must consider their steps wisely.  When I teach, I don’t want people to believe me, I want them to believe the Bible, and I know pastor Gary feels this same way.  No 30-minute summary on Sunday morning can ever substitute for prudent and careful time in God’s written word.

Have you ever stopped to think about why you believe what you believe? Sometimes we’re scared to give our beliefs much thought, to study through the difficult sections of scripture, because we’re worried we’ll have doubts and question what we believe.

But as Oswald Chambers said …

Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.

Be prudent.  Be diligent.  Don’t believe everything you hear.  Before you form an opinion on immigration, read the 92 bible verses about it.  Before talking about the politics of poverty in our country, start with the 2000 bible verses about poverty.

We’re in an election cycle.  What an opportunity practice some prudence with what we believe.  You think these political candidates and their campaign manager aren’t aware of the Social Media statistics I shared earlier?  Do you think they don’t know that MEME’s and Sound Bites shape public opinion?

Generally speaking, most either believe the republicans or democrats.  We think Fox news is either brainwashing or Truth-telling.  There is either right/wrong, good/bad on every political issue … but such reasoning wouldn’t make it through the door of an undergraduate course on logic.  Sometimes not believing everything we hear requires nuanced thinking, which is much more gray that black and white.

We like black and white thinking because it simplifies everything; we don’t have to really comprehend, so we don’t feel the need to be prudent in our thinking.  Black and white thinking allows us to feel intelligent without understanding, and once we feel intelligent, we feel superior.  People who don’t agree with you are just stupid.  Does this sound a little like our current culture?

Disengage your ego from your ideas.  Understand there is much that you don’t understand.  Let’s become experts are recognizing the slants in the news and commentary we come across, whether it be right or left.  Don’t be afraid to read news and websites with opposing views to yours.

Have discussions not debates with those who disagree with you. In a debate we’re trying to win an argument, but in discussion, we’re trying to understand the other persons point of view, and that’s where real learning occurs.  Let’s be able to express the beliefs of those we disagree with so well, that they can agree with our characterizations, even if in the end, we still disagree.  As James says, be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to anger.

Only simpletons believe everything they are told, but the prudent carefully consider their steps.

And so as I close, our natural response is, like, OK, I’m going to work real hard, I’m going to pray, read my Bible and I’m going to get wise.  I’m not going to be a simpleton.  But we can’t reduce it like that.  Everybody is a fool, it’s only a matter of what kind of fool you are.

You can be a ruthless fool, an obstinate fool, or as we’ve been talking about a simple fool.  But there’s one more fool that scripture talks about … God’s fool.  And it’s the way to be a fool no more.

As we’ve seen in past weeks’ wisdom is often personified as a woman who calls out to the simple.

But when Jesus came he had the audacity to take those words away from lady wisdom and put them into his own mouth, and talk like HE is the personification of Wisdom.

Mt 7:24-26 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

How dare Jesus do that?  How dare he speak with such authority as if he IS the actual WISDOM of God?

Paul teaches and expounds upon this idea to the Corinthians …

1 Cor. 1:24–25

Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

The foolish plan of God that Paul is speaking of is seen most clearly on the Cross.

On the cross we see CREATION, with a moral order and divine law that must be honored.  On the cross we see that we are FALLEN, so incredibly fallen and utterly sinful that Jesus had to die for us.

But there’s a 3rd reality of the cross.  Not just creation.  Not just fall.  But REDEMPTION, at the infinite cost of his own blood.

1 Cor. 3:18-19

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.

 We’re all fools. But the minute you grasp that you have lived your life as a fool, and turn to the cross, you become God’s fool.  You become a part of his upside and backwards wisdom.  That power, recognition and status doesn’t matter.  That God works through pain and suffering and difficulty, in fact that you were saved through pain and suffering.

At that moment, the moment you accept this foolish plan of God, you become a fool as far as the world is concerned for the rest of your life.

Are you willing to do that?  Are you willing to be a fool, to be made truly wise?  You can’t be wise, if you’re not willing to become a fool.

And when I take the foolish power of the cross into my life I’m too humble to be mocker.  I’m too confident to be a simpleton.  Finally, I’m in touch with the ultimate reality.  Finally, I’m wise!

I’m going to go ahead and ask the servers to begin passing our communion emblems this morning.  Let’s remember this truth.  Let’s celebrate the foolish plan of God, to send his son to redeem our foolish ways.  Let’s remember and celebrate the personification of wisdom in Christ Jesus.