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Evergreen Pastors' Blog

A Collaborative Blog About Life

What Do You Want From Your Church?

Jim Ladd

I find myself really curious to hear the answer to that question from active church goers. Here are what I suspect would be the top answers to the question:

- I want great teaching because I want to be fed.

- I want an outstanding kids ministry, so my children will both enjoy and learn in their faith journey, experiencing a safe place to also make new friends.

- I want excellent worship, that helps me connect to God in our worship gatherings

- I want a highly engaging student ministry, that isn't too radical, so my teens will grow in their faith and be equipped to be God-honoring, solid citizens, with a tribe of safe friends.

- I want a friendly church - and I want friends.

- I want a church that is making a difference in the world - helping the poor and changing the world.

So, here is the deal... I think the question itself, which we all ask ourselves when we move or need a church home, would be a foreign concept to the early church. Why?

- Because I am the church and the more appropriate question is, "What can I bring to the Body of Christ, using my gifts for the edification of the saints?"

- Because the mission of the church is Discipleship - so if the question is appropriate, the answer would be, "I am looking for the church that helps me become more like Christ and use my gifts to equip others to become more like Christ and make a difference in the world."

- Because the idea of approaching the church as a "consumer" is a foreign idea to the Scriptures.

I am not picking a fight, and I think it's critical for us to get our focus right, as the church of Jesus Christ, so we can be, pursue and become the Bride of Christ that He will be proud to embrace upon His return.

It Really Is That Simple

Jim Ladd

In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus boils down the essence of faith and obedience to God to two crystal clear commands: Love the Lord your God with everything you've got and love people the way you love yourself.

WOW! How complicated do we make Christianity when in reality it is this simple. No, it's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is simple.

Love God with everything you've got: Love him with your heart, emotions, affections, etc. Love him with your brain, intellect, imaginations, and memories. Love him with your body and how you use it. Love him with your relationships. Love him with your vocation, your money, your family, etc. Love God with everything you've got!

And, love people the way you love yourself. I confess that the one person I am super skilled at loving is me. For example, I judge others by their actions but I judge myself by my intentions. We are to love our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, enemies, strangers, foreigners - everyone!

I am beginning to believe that this simple focus of loving God and loving people can bring traction to our faith, energy to our lives, and joy to our hearts - and it might just change the entire world!

Go get 'em, my friend!! 

On Mission to the Fringes

Jim Ladd

When Jesus healed a man with Leprosy, he did so with some physical touch, even though he could have accomplished the same healing "with no hands". Or could he? The man not only needed healing from his disease, he also needed to experience love in his disease. How long had it been since he had been touched? How lonely it must have been to be exiled from your community becasue you are a physical threat to all?

Like Jesus' decision to touch this man from the fringes, we, too, can bring immeasurable healing to people who never get touched, loved, or dignified due to their location on the fringes of society. God has called us on mission with Him to bring love, dignity, and renewal to "the least of these".

But how? Here are some ideas:

- Join with us in the One Day Wage offering on Easter. This will feed over 160,000 kids in desperate places a daily meal for the next year.

- Keep small "homeless kits" in your vehicle to give the needy who populate our busy intersections every day. This could include bottled water, granola bars, tooth brush/paste, pop tarts, and any number of items that can help sustain their lives without giving cash. Of course, giving cash is also a great option when you feel prompted to do so.

- Seek God for a social issue to focus on. For me, this is at-risk kids. I spend my marginal time, energy, and resources on efforts that directly contribute to meeting the needs of these children who enter adolescence with a huge deck stacked against them.

What would you add to this idea list?

On Mission In Your Vocation

Jim Ladd

The church has a way of celebrating professional pastors, missionaries, and leaders and ignoring the people who work "secular" jobs or are stay-home workers. Here is a little surprise for you: Jesus wants you to do your vocation on mission with him - every bit as much as He expects a Pastor to.

Colossians 3:23 calls us to do whatever we are doing as unto the Lord Himself, and not for man. When it comes to your vocation, here are a few ideas to help you grow your missional focus on the job:

- Do you work with Jesus. Seek His guidance, be sensitive to His prompting during your day, and do your work God's way. This will deepen His partnership with you and blow you away with how often He has guidance for you that helps you win at work and multiply your impact.

- Lean into His empowerment for your job. I have found that you can go as far as your talents will take you, OR you can go as far as your talents + Jesus can take you. When you do your work as unto the Lord, and follow His guidance, He takes your results about three clicks further than your talent can go alone.

- Leave the profits and rewards where they belong - surrendered to Jesus. Don't become conceited due to the outcomes and don't get materialistic when He prospers you. Keep letting Jesus grow bigger in your heart and possessions and results grow smaller in their allure.

- Seek to give God glory in your work. Watch for opportunities to give Him glory, honor and credit among those open to seeing it.

What ideas would you add?

The Awesome Power of Knowing Your Mission

Jim Ladd

When you know the purpose for your life - the mission of it - you gain extreme clarity and life becomes far less confusing. This is a powerful reality and the light that illuminates your paths, your decision-making, and your values.

Without knowing that you were made by God to enjoy and glorify Him, and to love what He loves (people), you will search impulsively for a purpose or mission worthy of your life. You need purpose and you need a mission. You need to know that there is something greater than you worth living for and that your life matters. The only empowering way to discover this is through full surrender to Jesus and His Lordship in your life.

Short of this kind of surrendered clarity, you will grasp for far less worthy missions - like personal wealth, popularity, possessions, success, pleasure, existential experiences, and relationships made dysfunctional by your utter dependence upon them.

You were made for so much more.

You were made to glorify God and love people. It really is that simple.

Your soul will not find peace, joy or fulfillment until it rests in the unconditional love and Lordship of Jesus and joins Him in His mission to redeem all mankind to Himself.

What are you living for?

Is it worthy of your submission?

Is it worthy of dying for? 

We Must Move From Seeing to Realizing

Jim Ladd

The things we fear, we demonize. The things we don't understand, we trivialize. The things we don't really like, we minimize. But true life-change and progress require us to realize; to see what God says and allow the Holy Spirit to make it real to us.

The sermon on the mount, globally accepted as the greatest body of moral teaching in history, opens with Jesus describing the Beatitudes - the beautiful attitudes that open the door for us to grow, learn, love, and live. It begins with, possibly, the most important one: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God."

Blessed (happy) are those who realize their spiritual poverty - that they are poverty-stricken in spirit - utterly incapable on their own and completely dependent upon God. This is the entry point of a transformed life. It's the first of all 12-step programs because of it's potent truth.

Why are they blessed or happy? Because theirs is the Kingdom of God! God graciously and bountifully gives His Kingdom to those who realize their dependency upon God and stop trying to save themselves. He saves us and delivers us into a Kingdom without boundary, limit, or resource - to give us life that is reallly life.

You know you sin, but have you realized you are a sinner? Do you realize that you are incapable of living without sin? Do you realize that the reason you lie is that you are a liar? Do you recognize your spiritual bankruptcy?

When you do, you can cry out to God who lavishes you with His righteousness and grace. See Jesus on the cross and realize that He put Himself there - to experience the wrath of disobedience and sin on our behalf. Realize that your debt is paid in full and that you are free.

Now that's living!

Never Do Life Alone - Or With The Wrong Community

Jim Ladd

Life was designed by God to be lived in community. When you think about it, a huge percentage of issues we face include a community component.

For example: 

- Isolation and no community leads to uninformed decision-making, isolation and loneliness, and a huge loss of energy that community can create.

- The wrong community leads to mis-informed decision-making, misplaced priorities being celebrated, lack of support for godly direction, and energy in the wrong direction.

- The right community leads to powerful decision-making, connectedness and love, and an exponential boost in energy that comes from healthy community.

We need family. We need a tribe. We need unity, shared stories, the wisdom of many, people to help carry our stretcher, and people to love.

If you are missing out on community, you are missing out on pieces of God Himself. Don't settle for no community and don't be seduced into unhealthy community. Keep trusting God and working toward healthy community. Best way to get started? Be a healthy, empowering, loving person whom others can trust, depend upon, and learn from.

The Ruined Self

Jim Ladd

"Then he (Jesus) said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."'

Deny yourself. Deny yourself of what, exactly? Is self-denial a virtue all on it's own or is there something more specific Jesus is driving at? These are the questions I have wrestled with after reading this passage a few days ago.

And then it hit me - Deny your SELF. Jesus is reminding us of a few fundamentally powerful parts of our faith journey - in fact our journey of LIFE:

1. The self is dysfunctional and ruined. There has only been one perfect person and that was Jesus. The rest of us have been severely damaged by sin and born broken. The self is not trustworthy. It is dysfunctionally selfish and deceptive. It is, in fact, ruined.

2. The self cannot be repaired or improved - it must be replaced. The Old Covenant - and every religion on earth, for that matter - is about being a better self so God will be happy with you and you can earn your way back into His favor. But Jesus taught us that the self is so ruined that it cannot be improved; it must be executed. Take up your cross, deny your SELF and follow Jesus.

3. The power of the gospel is the power of being born all over again - having a new self, made in the image and power of Jesus. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who gave himself for me."

4. While I reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God, my sinful self is very much able to be called back into duty. In fact, it constantly begs to be put back in the game. Therefore the key to my daily life is to put off the old self with it's sinful and deceptive ways and put on the new self, created in Christ Jesus. My daily opportunity (often called a challenge) is to walk closely with Jesus and allow the Spirit to live the life of Jesus in and through me.

5. So, my highest priority is to keep the old self crucified and walk in newness of life with Jesus, by His Spirit in me. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Focus is the powerful friend of the follower of Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him!

Shameless Audacity

Jim Ladd

In Luke 11, Jesus asks you to imagine that you have friends drop in on you at about midnight and you don't have enough bread to make them a sandwich. You ask your neighbor for some bread and he shouts down from his room, "I'm already in bed and it's very late. Go away". Jesus says that the friend will not get up and give you bread because of your friendship but because of your "shameless audacity".

He continues, "So I say to you: Keep on asking and it wil be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps asking receives; the one who keeps seeking finds; and to the one who keeps knocking, the door will be opened."

God invites you to call on Him with shameless audacity, man! Do it! Keep knocking. Keep seeking! Keep asking! Be shameless and audacious!!!

And may the God of all comfort, provision and power meet you at your point of need today!

Learn The Condition of Your Heart

Jim Ladd

I keep thinking about Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it."

Above all else! Wow. Is that really what God means? That's a profound thing, if it is. And what does it mean to guard your heart? How do you guard it? Guard it from what, exactly?

As I've been thinking about this lately, I found myself in Luke 8 and a conversation Jesus has about seeds bearing fruit based on the condition of the soil. The seed is the Word of God - powerful stuff all on it's own. Yet the soil determines the impact of the seed. Here'a how:

- Some soil is like a pathway. So heavily traveled and walked upon that the ground is hard and compact - no seed can penetrate it, nor water to grow it.

- Some soil has so many rocks in it that the roots of the plant can't go deep, thereby making the plant vulnerable to heat or drought because it doesn't have deep roots to draw nourishment.

- Some soil grows everything and is un-tended by a gardener, so it's full of weeds that compete for resources with the fruitful plant. Those weeds, we are told, are worries, riches and pleasures of this life.

- And some soil is a "good heart" that receives the seed, feeds it, nurtures it, and produces a massive crop.

I don't have to take you any further. Reflect on this and guard your heart with  all diligence, for from it flow the very issues of life!!!

The Battle You Must Win

Jim Ladd

The great theologian, Popeye always said, "I yam what I yam". That's an attractive idea - to have a simple understanding of who you are and never feel obliged to change, grow, or adjust your "self" for the sake of another or a situation. But we all know life is not that simple.

The reality is that most people battle to truly know, accept, and lead themselves with a whole heart. The knowing is the first battle - I mean do you KNOW who you are? People define themselves from one of two sources: either by what people say they are or by what they convince themselves they are. More accurately, we use a combination of those and never get to escape the influence of what others think about us. Psychologists call this having an external or internal locus of control.

The bottom line I want you to consider is that it's essential that you win the identity battle because what you think about you will shape a ton of your life, potential and relationships. And the treadmill of the identity battle is exhausting.

The real truth about you, though, is that you are not who others say you are and you are not who you think you are. You are, in fact, who God says you are. You are a blood-bought son or daughter of the Living God! You are redeemed. Your sin has been dealt with and you are adopted into God's family; a legitimate joint-heir with Jesus whose enemies have been made a footstool for your feet!

Embrace the Truth about your identity and force all opinions, including your own, to submit to and adjust to this amazing and wonderful reality.

Guard Your Heart

Jim Ladd

Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

What a massive introduction! I mean, "above all else"? Why so urgent and important? Because the heart is not just the place of your emotions. The heart, biblically, is interchangeable with your spirit or your soul. It is that deepest part of you that is the truest you. It is in your heart that you hold on to your deepest convictions about what you must have to receive life joyfully. Your heart is where you hold the convictions that determine how you view yourself, interpret events, determine value, understand the world, and so much more.

Oh yeah, you better guard that, for sure. Here's why: What the heart chooses to believe, the mind perceives and finds reasonable, the emotions desire and find beautiful, and the will does and finds practical. What your heart believes, you must have. Unless you get down to this, you'll never fully understand yourself.

And, if outside forces or cultural messages are allowed to form this deepest part of you, then you surrender the captain's chair of your soul to an alien invader. No, that chair is reserved for you alone, as you surrender your own authority to the One who created and redeemed you.

Why is this critical? Everything you do flows from this! Change is hard, and it's near impossible without experiencing deep convictions and changes in your heart, and then allowing your heart/soul/spirit to rule over your emotions, will, and body.

There is gold right here in this proverb. Spend some time reflecting on your heart and the convictions it deeply holds that are shaping everything you do.

How People Can Tell Who You Really Are

Jim Ladd

I have had an idea I can't stop thinking about. It's quite discomforting, actually, but it's undeniably true, so I know it's important that I get my mind around it and let it guide me.

Here's the idea: People don't know anything about who you are, if they stare at your talents, abilities, and gifts. Those were given to you. If they want to know about YOU, they only need to look at your choices.

It is your choices, not your abilities, that reveal who you are.

Think about that for a bit. Reflect on the choices you make on a daily basis - and how many of them there are. Choices to put yourself first or last, to give or take, to fight temptation or to give in, and on and on it goes.

So as you move forward today - as you continue to seek to be the best version of yourself - pay attention to your choices and make them intentionally. Let the redemptive work of Christ and His grace empower you to make the choices that the you that you yearn to be would make.

Take a 30-Day Challenge

Jim Ladd

Do you ever get overwhelmed with trying to change too many parts of your life at the same time? Or, you have so many things you want to change that you just don't know where to start? Or maybe you just feel a little stuck, or bored, and you can't figure out how to get moving again.

One powerful idea is to take on a 30-day challenge to add a new daily habit to your life. Rather than fix multiple things at once, just pick one and establish a new habit that brings some new energy to your life. Our daily choices establish patterns. Those patterns establish habits and those habits will determine our destiny. Powerful things, habits are!

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

- Read a portion of the Word of God every single day.

- Exercise 30 minutes per day, every day

- Eliminate one item from your dietary patterns for 30 days

- Spend 15 minutes per day in quiet, reflective solitude

- Journal your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and prayers with daily journal entries

- Choose an accountability partner to choose a habit with and compare notes as you go

- Eliminate all social media or television from your world for 30 days

You get the idea. Pick one and go on an adventure to bring some new energy, joy and renewal into your world. I'd love to hear what you choose and how it goes!

None of the Above

Jim Ladd

As I write this, the election is 20 days away. I chose the title of this post because I want to encourage you to place your hope in none of the candidates running for office, in any election. We are the people of God and our hope rests supremely and confidently in the One who rules over all.

I have been embarrassed by much of the behavior during this election cycle. There has been disrespectful language, hateful attitudes, intense fear, and statements that this election is essential to the saving of our nation. I have remained largely silent in the public arena because the ability to have simple, direct, respectful dialog has been rare.

Here is my statement: Jesus Christ is Lord of all! The hope of the world is Jesus and His Church! We need the people of God to cry out to God for the redemption of our land and a revival in the hearts of our people. We need a documentable move of God! The greatest thing we can do for our country is live for Jesus and cry out to God for revival.

And we need to vote responsibly. Please, seek God's guidance for your voting decisions. Assess the issues with intensity. Pray over the priorities God would have for our country. Make a prayerful, thoughtful and informed decision and go to the polls and vote in alignment with your convictions. 

Then, go to bed on election night knowing that Jesus Christ is still the ruler of all, that the plans of God cannot bed thwarted, and that the Kingdom of God holds your primary citizenship. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts! Don't worry about anything, pray about everything, and let the peace of God rule.

The Church is Supremely Important After All!

Jim Ladd

Our culture is floundering! Fear, hatred, political correctness, broken marriages, addiction, and so much more are growing like weeds due to the absence of a strong sense of Truth or willingness to submit to God.

Today I feel like God reminded me that what I do is super important. That what every follower of Jesus does with their life, words, friendships, and actions is super important. The world is lost and we hold on to Truth that is essential to help blind people see, dead people live, and lost people get found.

Jesus is the KING of all creation. His is the name that is above every name. His is the only name given among men by which we can be saved. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

God's grace is real and changes everything. The removal of condemnation is permenant and makes joyful living possible. No shame. No guilt. Freedom in Jesus Christ alone and forever!

The Holy Spirit is with us and in us. His Presence is a constant source of Help, Comfort, and Guidance. We are not alone. We are not orphaned.

The Word of God is absolute Truth. It is without error. It is alive and active, like a double-edged sword and it divides the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. It is THE guide for life and conduct. It does not return void and is powerful in our lives.

These things matter profoundly!!! Stand tall in them. Hold fast to them. Lean into them every moment of every day. Proclaim them to your friends. This is the stuff of eternity. These are the things that empower every other valuable thing in life. Eternity hangs in the balance.

Stand tall today. Be strong today. Don't get distracted, discouraged, defeated or disqualified.

Living in the Unknown

Daniel Sabo

Life comes in different seasons, and each season brings its own set of challenges. I have always been one who enjoyed a good challenge. Show me a mountain that can't be climbed, point out a wall that wont come down, and I am in. 

However, recently there has been a glaring reality that I am having to face. The challenges I enjoy are the challenges I go after, but these are not necessarily the ones I need to face. 

The truth I am facing is, I enjoy living in the known. I want to work on things that I understand, I want to grow in areas I am passionate about, I want to take up causes I have experience in. 

God is showing me, there is also value in spending some time in the unknown. Growing in areas that I have no idea what to do, taking on challenges in arenas that I am completely unfamiliar. 

Psalm 37:4-6 says "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as light, and your justice as the noonday."

This passage is pretty powerful, especially when you really slow down and look it. 

"Commit your way to the Lord" It's not about asking God to bless my way; it's about committing my way to God and His will for me. 

"Trust in him, and he will act" It's not about me conjuring up strength to do great things in the name of Jesus; it's about trusting Him, and knowing He will do what's needed. 

The reality is, my focus, my trust, my eyes need to be on Jesus.

If I really believe that, I won't avoid the unknown. 

I won't avoid the unknown because it's not about what I know. 

Please allow me to encourage you with this thought, don't get preoccupied and focused on your comfort and knowledge. Instead, cling to Jesus. Cling to Him in every circumstance and in every season. Trust Him, and He will act.

Community for Both of Us

Daniel Sabo

I was sitting in our monthly staff meeting today, and as I looked around the room, I was reminded of how much more comfortable I feel now sitting in that room, than I did a year ago. 

I remember my first all staff meeting, looking around the room as people talked and laughed seemingly connected and comfortable. I however was completely intimidated feeling like I was sticking out like a sore thumb. 

Over the last year, I have gotten to know the people in that room, heard their stories, met their families and gotten to know who they really are. Knowing them, has made me feel so much more comfortable around them. As they have let their guards down, and been vulnerable enough to be honest with me, I have felt more at ease. 

It made me think, how willing to be vulnerable have I been? How much have I let my guard down? How much effort have I put in to make others feel more at ease?

My first thought, probably sounded a lot like yours. I don't like vulnerability, it makes me feel vulnerable. It's scary, it's risky, and it goes against my nature of self-preservation. 

The stark reality however, is that is exactly how healthy community is built and is able to thrive over time. It's a conscious choice by the group to be real, to be honest, and to be vulnerable. In order for it to really work, those choices by whoever goes first, need to be reciprocated by the rest. 

So that's my challenge to you and me today. Consider how vulnerable you have been. How willing have you been to let people know who you really are? How much risk have you been willing to take in order for others in your community to be a little more at ease? 

There is so much encouragement and strength that is drawn from living in community, but in order for there to be community for both of us, we both need to put some work into it. 

If You're Going to be There a While...

Daniel Sabo

I have always been so amazed by the story of Paul and Silas in prison. It's found in Acts Chapter 16. These two are preaching and telling people about Jesus, and it upsets the religious leaders. So they are questioned, then beaten, arrested, and thrown in prison.

 

I have experienced judgement for my faith. I have been teased because I am a Christian. I have been left out of things because of what I do for a living. I have been called names because of what I believe. All of those things are basically nothing compared to what Paul and Silas are experiencing in this story.

 

These guys were beaten badly and then shackled. 

 

How would I respond in that moment? I wonder if I would be angry? I wonder if I would feel sorry for myself? I wonder if I would be upset with God for allowing me to experience such a thing? 

 

Look at how Paul and Silas responded. Acts 16:25 "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."

 

They responded by praying and praising God. 

 

That's crazy. 

 

More than the obviously amazing reality of how they responded with love for God, we see others saw their response as well. 

 

I don't know what you're going through, or what you're facing right now; but I know there are many ways you could possibly be responding to it. 

 

You and I may feel justified in our feeling sorry for ourselves in difficult seasons, we may feel justified in being angry for our circumstances, and maybe we have every right to be. 

 

Yet, if we change our focus a little, God can do something pretty powerful with our circumstance. 

 

If we choose to love God, to praise Him, and refuse to become bitter, people will see something really remarkable in us. 

 

Find a Bible, or look it up online what happens next. Acts 16:25-34. 

 

You may be walking through a difficult season or circumstance, you have been there a while, and you may be there a while longer. Since you're there, you might as well praise God where you are, you never know what He might do in you, for you, or in the life of someone else. 

What I Would Say to the 20 Year Old Me

Daniel Sabo

I have thought so many times, if I had a way to go back in time to talk with the 20 year old version of me, how many things I would say.

I would likely start off by just smacking me around for a while, but afterward, I would talk about priorities. 

I would talk about what really matters, and what really doesn't. I would talk about marriage, and what it means to be a great husband, how it will feel a lot like hard work, but a spouse that you love unconditionally becomes your closest friend. I would talk about being a Dad, and what it takes to be consistent, how to love your kids how they need to be loved, not just what comes easy to you. I would talk about how you will never regret any effort you put into supporting your kids, but you will regret every opportunity you missed. I would talk about friendship, how the friends that selflessly want to see you grow are hard to find, so give back to them, and lean into them when you need to. I would talk about how no one was meant to be an island, and great friends make the most difficult of seasons much more bearable. 

How much heartache I would save myself and others if I could go back and speak those things to the younger me. 

Unfortunately, that opportunity is never going to come to me, or to you. 

But don't just get frustrated, there is something great that you still can do. 

Proverbs 13:20 says "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffer harm." 

Even if you can't take all this information and share it with the 20 year old "you"; you can take this information and share it with a 20 year old someone. 

God has given all of us a measure of wisdom. Through mistakes and victories, we learn things that help us to live more effectively. So share that information with the younger generation God has placed around you. Save them from some of the heartache you experienced. Save them from making the choices you made that caused you to hurt others. 

In addition, God has given a measure of wisdom to those who are further down the road of life than you, listen to them, learn from them. After all, sticking solely to what you know, and only spending time with those who are in the same place as you, will cause you to "suffer harm."