choices (3)

An alarming report recently grabbed my attention:9570812857?profile=original

A seven-year study of the causes of death among teens in America observed that the top three causes of death were accidents, homicide, and suicide.* Almost half­ of those tragedies—about 68,000 deaths—were accidents, and most of those accidents—about 46,000—were by motor vehicle.

  Sit back for a moment and reflect with me. What led to those 131,000 deaths? Bad choices. The general principle: Bad choices take away life; wise choices add life.

  Those dramatic statistics help me focus on a vital priority in my “intentional grandparenting”: I need to help my grandchildren become wiser and wiser. They need to show in their attitudes and behavior that (1) they understand the consequences of their choices and (2) have the wisdom to choose well.

  My lead-off blog in this series about “intentional grandparenting” focused on the alarming message of Judges 2:10. It challenged us to engage intentionally in the ministry of “intergenerational discipling” by praying for—and influencing—each of our own grandchildren to begin their individual, redemptive relationship with God.

  Once they begin that relationship with Him, they need to nourish it by cultivating wisdom. God’s Word says much about living and choosing wisely. It is a lifelong commitment that builds on “fearing” the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) as a way of life.

  The Hebrew word in the Old Testament that is translated “wise” is used in various contexts. In the context of life in general, this word describes a person who is skillful and practical at living in harmony with God’s expectations. We find this word most often in the “wisdom literature”: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.

  How does wisdom show in our grandkids? Proverbs 3, 4, and 5 show us that the proof of our grandchildren’s developing wisdom is their increasing knowledge, understanding, and ability to make the right choices at the right time and in the right way. Are they understanding and choosing wisely in a few situations, or in many situations? Their consistency in this is a measure of their developing maturity.

  What difference does wise living make? Its impact is significant:

  • A lifestyle of walking wisely is our highest offering of worship to God (Ephesians 4:1; 5:1-2; James 3:13, 17).
  • Walking wisely brings personal peace in relationships and situations, rather than anxiety and chaos (Proverbs 1:32-33; James 3:14-18).
  • Our wisdom is a witness to those living in darkness who watch us (Deuteronomy 4:6).
  • Walking wisely helps our children and grandchildren set an influential example as they teach their future children and grandchildren the wisdom of loving and walking in harmony with God (Deuteronomy 4:9).

  Loving Father in heaven, please help    (name of each grandchild)    to take another step forward in Your wisdom this month. Please open my eyes to a way that I can be an example for them and an encouragement to them along their journey into the wisdom of honoring You by choosing well. For Your glory and in Jesus’ name, amen.


© 2019 John Garmo


* NCHS data brief, no. 37. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2010.

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Will You Settle for Less than the BEST?

If given the choice between a meal at the fanciest gourmet restaurant or McDonald’s, which would you choose? There are several reasons people frequently opt for fast food, and this points to some larger issues in how we make important, life-altering decisions in our lives.

Of course, sometimes you might just be having a Big Mac attack, craving greasy, high-calorie food instead of things that are better for you. Yes, there is some immediate pleasure, but how does that make you feel a few hours later?

At other times, your decision to settle for fast food may be a matter of cost. Hey, you can get LOTS of food at McDonald’s for the price of a good steak at Ruth’s Chris. But think about it: You also can buy dog food relatively inexpensively if that’s what you are willing to settle for.

Although I don’t eat much fast food these days, I’m sure it’s main attraction for me was simply SPEED and convenience. Even when I could afford Ruth’s Chris, I didn’t want to spend an hour or two to eat there. Usually, I was in a time crunch, on the way to some meeting or appointment. Sitting down for a gourmet meal wasn’t enough of a priority to carve out time in my schedule.

I’ve been challenged by these principles lately, for they don’t just apply to my diet, but to other priorities and decisions in my life.

For example, am I truly willing to practice delayed gratification instead of indulging my “sweet tooth” for momentary pleasures? Am I willing to patiently pay the price to receive God’s BEST for my life instead of settling for mediocre options and outcomes?

Many Bible stories speak to these issues, but I’m especially intrigued by the prophet Samuel’s quest to find the next king (1 Samuel 16:1-13). The Lord had instructed him to select the new king from among the sons of Jesse, which at least narrowed down his search.

But it turned out that Jesse had many sons, so it potentially could be a long day to determine which of them was God’s choice.

Starting with the oldest son, Eliab, the prophet began his review process. “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” he said enthusiastically (v. 6).

This misguided assumption by Samuel should cause each of us to pause and realize how we might be prone to the same error. Like a McDonald’s drive-through, the easiest decision would be to simply anoint Eliab and be done with it.

Yet as the story continues, God tells Samuel his perspective is all wrong:

Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (v. 7).

Think of how this might apply to your own life today. If you’re considering a business deal or new career offer, are you content to merely examine how it appears on the surface? If you are seeking a wife or husband, are you prone to be swayed by their physical appearance rather than what God has done in their heart?

One by one, seven of Jesse’s sons came before Samuel, and the Lord surprisingly turned each of them down. From a human perspective, each of these young men probably seemed like good candidates: handsome, strong, and with a good upbringing.

But could you imagine how Israel’s history might have been different if Samuel had settled for one of these first seven options? It would have been quite easy to do so, especially when Option #8 hadn’t even appeared on the scene yet.

Samuel must have been puzzled when God refused to put His stamp of approval on any of Jesse’s first seven sons. “Are ALL the young men here?” he finally asked in frustration (v. 11).

No one had even thought to invite David to the big event. After all, he was the youngest, assigned to the menial task of caring for his father’s sheep.

Like Samuel, perhaps you’re looking at your options today on some important matter. Maybe you’ve already discarded the first seven possibilities, and you see no other prospects on the horizon. So…will you wait for Option #8—the option that’s still hidden from your view?

It had been a long day for Samuel, just as our selection processes in life may seem long and arduous. But when David finally appeared, there was no doubt that He was God’s man. “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Samuel said, certainly with great relief.

My friend, God has wonderful plans for you. He wants to give you His best. But that means you’ll have to be patient, waiting for the other options to pass by.

Your “David” is right around the corner. I hope you won’t settle for anything less.

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Choose Wisely

Life is all about choices. Every choice has a consequence of one kind or another, either positive or negative. And sometimes the consequence is not apparent for a long time after the choice has been made.

There’s a stunning scene toward the end of the 1989 movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Both Indiana Jones and a Nazi named Walter Donovan had been in search of the Holy Grail, the legendary chalice Jesus and His disciples used in the Last Supper. Indy wants the Grail so he can save his dying father, but the Nazi selfishly wants the Grail as a fountain of youth to give himself eternal life and an advantage over his enemies.

After passing through an assortment of traps and tests, both men encounter an ancient knight who is guarding the Grail. To their amazement, there isn’t just one chalice on the table before them. The numerous choices include cups of gold, platinum, silver, clay, and wood.

Bewildered by all the choices, Donovan asks the knight which chalice is the Holy Grail. In one of the classic lines in movie history, the knight replies, “You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”

The Nazis in these movies always make wrong choices, and Donovan was no exception. Attracted to the most glittery and expensive-looking chalice on the table, he smiles and says, “Truly the cup of a king.”

Donovan fills this cup with water and takes a drink, expecting instantaneous eternal life. But to his horror, he instead begins to rapidly age and decompose, leaving nothing but bones, dust, and his metal Nazi pin.

At this point, the wise old knight observes, “He chose…poorly.”

Our hero, Indy, fortunately has more sense than this. Surveying the options before him, he selects a simple wooden cup, concluding that it must be “the cup of a Galilean carpenter.” With much fear, based on the grim consequences to Donovan, Indy drinks from this humble chalice.

“You have chosen wisely,” the knight tells him, much to Indy’s relief.

There’s an old maxim that says, “Not everything that glitters is gold.” In fact, as the Nazi discovered in this movie, some things that glitter are actually fool’s gold.

Years ago, I heard a great Christian song based on Proverbs 8:1-2 (ESV): Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand.”

Every day, we face a crossroads of whether we will choose wisely or choose poorly. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God challenged His people long ago: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16 NIV).

Today God is offering us rest for our souls, but we must choose wisely. Instead of opting for what seems right in our own eyes, we must “ask for the ancient paths.” The Holy Grail stands before us, but the table is increasingly cluttered with other options.

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