Archive for the ‘Word of God’ Category



October 14, 2014

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.” 1 Kings 4:29-30

What is the function of a conjunction?

Volumes surround me; books standing in perpetual attention upon my shelves, clothed in dusty neglect. Familiar titles call out to me:

Process Geomorphology
Organic Chemistry
Applied Numerical Methods
Differential Equations
Probability and Statistics
Corporate Finance
Cost Accounting



The intellect of generations and genius are contained within these tombs of knowledge. I once communed among their concepts. I excavated their principles and deciphered their puzzles. I cursed the forced regurgitation of their laws and theories, consumed in short bursts of intellectual gluttony. Yet, I proved to be competent as an educated man.

I have the diplomas to prove it.

However, each text has found a forsaken place on my office shelf; set aside in a head-long pursuit of a profession. Years have swept aside those inquisitive days of study.

Theory replaced by practice;
Integration and derivation yielding to empirical;
Schedule triumphing over intellectual indulgence.

These books have become more decoration than source. They are a reassurance to visitors that the diplomas and licenses that hang on my wall have a foundation. I have learned my profession through years of practice. Yet, I have lost something through the years. Specific knowledge has faded to general in many subjects; conceptual understanding has replaced hard achieved competence.

Knowledge is not perpetual…at least not in my mind.

I do not have the mind of Solomon but neither does anyone else. God gave Solomon a wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and a breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore. The limits of my wisdom and understanding are easily delineated in a game of “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader”, and the scarceness of my mind is more like the occasional sand dollar on the seashore than the sand.

The typical mind has a very limited capacity for the specific. Time erodes away a mind’s competence, when study is neglected, leaving a hollowed relic to the practical. The scores of educated adults who prove that they are not “smarter than a 5th grader” is testimony to our mind’s inability to retain knowledge absence the reinforcing power of study.

The surrender of the knowledge of a conjunction’s function may be a reasonable acquiescence to the pressures of a busy life.

What about the gospel?
Are you willing to surrender the knowledge of the gospel to the pressures of a busy life.

What is the function of the gospel?
Can you clearly present the gospel to someone who has no knowledge of it?

 The ability to clearly explain a principle is demonstration of competent, specific, knowledge of that principle. If you can only generally explain the gospel, it demonstrates a general knowledge.

We have been called to more.

God has revealed Himself through His Bible. We can know our Lord and Savior more and more through the study of His Word. This is why David delighted in God’s commandments and law. It is why David studied.

 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)

 How are you doing studying the Bible?
Are you demonstrating your delight in God by studying His great works?

We must remember the minds we have been created with. We must remember that every moment that we spend away from the Word of God, time is eroding the razor edge of specific knowledge down to a blunt instrument of a general understanding. We must not acquiescence our time in God’s Word to the pressures of a busy life. We must not forget His Word.

 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:16)


PRAYER: Father, thank you for your Word.  Thank you for speaking to us perfectly even though we are imperfect.  Thank you for giving us everything that we need to follow you today.  Help me to glorify you from the place where I am today. Forgive me for thinking I need a special word from you. Teach me obedience in the everyday. Help me to live upon the nurturiousment of your Word, the Bible.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen







“WORLD CLASS” – Oct 16

October 16, 2013

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22

The moniker “world-class” has a very specific connotation to me.  It gets bandied about with other titles such as phenomenal, genius, and awesome, but just like those adjectives, it often loses its meaning due to a lack of context.  To be described as world-class, one has to be among the best in the world at a given activity.

There are some activities whose practitioners are world-class and I can appreciate what they do.  However, I cannot grasp the level of their achievements because I am a mere observer.

Jascha Heifetz is generally considered the greatest violin performer of the modern recording age. English: Russian violinist Jascha Heifetz in T...He is one of the very few players who was capable of hitting the high note at the end of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto .  I don’t play the violin, I don’t have a practical concept of how hard it really is.

Rembrandt: Self Portrait (Altman)I love Dutch Realist paintings.  So, it is not surprising that I have a deep appreciation of Rembrandt and his use of reflected light and shadows.  One of my favorite paintings is the Night Watch .  I am not an artist.  Reproducing a Dutch Realist painting is beyond my wildest optimism.

There are other world-class practitioners who I find incredible, precisely because I HAVE tried to do what they do.  I understand their level of achievements because I can compare it to my achievements in the same activity.

Mal Booth / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The Ironman World Championship was held in Kona, Hawaii this last weekend.  Mirinda Carfrae won with a course-record time of 8:52:14.  She ran a marathon in just 2:50:35.  That was very close to the 1971 marathon world record, but Carfrae’s marathon was after swimming 3.8 km (2.36 miles) and biking 180 km (111.85) miles.  I have never done an ironman distance triathlon but I do know my times for those separate distances, except for a full marathon.  She is awesome because I know the context of her speed;  she is world-class.

Chris Froome wins the 17th stage in the Vuelta...

Chris Fromme won the Tour de France this year.  He won the Stage 16 time trial by averaging over 20 mph on a course with two category two climbs and a very twisting, technical route.  Based on my personal riding experience, I am under no delusion that I would have been anywhere close to Chris Fromme on that stage of the Tour (or any stage for that matter). His performance was simply world-class.

rphipps75 / Foter / CC BY-SA

Mo Farah is the current 10,000 meters Olympic and World champion and 5000 meters Olympic, World and European champion.  The time it takes him to run 10,000 meters is just slightly longer then what it takes me to cover half that distance.  C’mon, that is ridiculous.

Until you try an activity, it is difficult to appreciate how special world-class people really are.

We can be deceived into thinking that everything is fine by simply reading the Bible.  Many listen to the Word, don’t apply it to their lives in practical ways, and convince themselves that nothing needs to change.

It is not until you become a doer of the word that you realize the importance of grace and the long road of sanctification.

It is not until you try to forgive someone when you realize you have an unforgiving heart and need the Spirit’s help to forgive.

It is not until you try to keep your mouth shut that you realize you have a problem with gossip and need the Spirit to tame your tongue.

It is not until you go to give your money away that you realize that you’ve got the green monster of greed and need the Spirit to help you surrender the idol of money.

When the instruction of the Bible is academic, we can convince ourselves that we are a good people.  It is in the doing the commandments of the Word where we see all the unrighteousness that still is within us.

Being a doer of the Word reminds us of who we are;
Sinners in need of a Savior.

Being a doer of the Word allows the Spirit to do His work:
To be living and active in our lives.

Being a doer of the Word opens our eyes;
To reveal our self-deception.

We need to remember that we are world-class.  Those who are in Christ are world-class because they are children of God.  We are world-class because we are the only ones in the world who can please God.  The only way to please God is by living in the Spirit; that is possible only for a child of God.

That makes us world-class.

Being a doer of the Word reveals to us what being world-class means.

We are to be world-class in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  The good news is that we do not have to be born with those characteristics.  They are gifts.  Therefore, all we have to do to be world- class in pleasing God is to abide in Him,  to set our minds on things of the Spirit, and be led by the Spirit of God.

May we open our Bibles and actually do what it tells us.  Through that act of obedience, we will experience what it means to live as a world-class child of the King of kings!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for making very special people in this world.  Father, I praise you for the world-class abilities of the exceptional people in this world.  Thank you for allowing  exceptionalism to exist because it points to you.   Thank you for making me world-class in an activity that matters more than anything else – pleasing you.  Thank you for adopting me as your child.  Lord, create in me a desire to live by the Word that you have given us.  Help me to remember who I am and what you are doing in me.  Continue your work in me.  Help me to set my mind on you and to be a doer of your Word.    Help me to please you in all that I do, say, and write.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



September 17, 2013

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:11-13

I have an anniversary to celebrate.  This year is my ten year anniversary of being cancer free.

I am celebrating with a colonoscopy

English: Pictured is a physician using a remot...I realize that a colonoscopy is not much of a celebration but one thing I learned about cancer is that it is best to catch it early.  I hate getting a colonoscopy but that is the best method for catching cancer of the colon early.

I hated having cancer more than the procedure.  Therefore, I will drink the cocktail that will liquefy the contents of my gut.  I will allow a camera to travel a passage that should have remained secret.  I will relinquish a productive day to anesthesia’s groggy recovery since I have no desire to watch the live action.

I don’t get a colonoscopy because I like them.  I get a colonoscopy because I don’t want to die from colon cancer.

How foolish is it to refuse to have a colonoscopy because the procedure is uncomfortable and embarrassing?

How foolish is it to refuse to act when the colonoscopy reveals a growth?

Sometimes, the word of God feels like a colonoscopy.

“Oh Lord, don’t go there!”  is my thoughts when the Word pierces into the secrets of my intentions and thoughts.  I do not particularly like it when the duplicity of my heart is revealed.  I am not fond of being exposed to the eyes of Him to whom I must give account.

I come to the word of God and allow it to do its work because I don’t want die in unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19)

No one can fool the probing inspection of God.  All of our attitudes, thoughts, biases, and agendas are exposed to the Great Physician’s examination.  However, we can harden our hearts when we hear God’s diagnosis.  We can justify our disobedience.  We can rationalize our rebellion.  We can close His Word and refuse to acknowledge His authority.

How foolish is it to refuse to expose your heart to God’s word because you know the process will be uncomfortable and embarrassing?

How foolish is it to refuse to act when our unbelief and disobedience is revealed?

God has given us His word for our own good.  He has not left us in our rebellion.  Most of the time, I don’t like what His word shows me about myself but I know if is for my own good.  Therefore, I try to come to His word with a soft heart.  I want Him to do His work in me.  I know that polyps of unbelief still reside in me.  I want them removed.  I know that the remainder of my spiritual walk on this earth will entail the uncomfortable and embarrassing examinations of the word of God.

I want that.  I need that, daily.  Therefore, I will echo the words of David:

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 4:7b)

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for softening my heart.  Thank you for your Spirit and your Word that reveal the unbelief of my heart.  Help me in my unbelief.  Continue to remove the cancer of disobedience and rebellion from my being.   Do your work in me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



March 20, 2013

“But some believers, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5

Stretching before the 2006 NCAA Men's Division...It is the first day of spring.  Spring brings a very sacred time at the office where I work.  The first day of spring inaugurates March Madness and our office NCAA Basketball Tournament pool.

I stare at my bracket in befuddlement.  There are some schools on there that sound more like some bureaucratic anachronism; LIU Br/JMU, is that a college or some new pharmacological wonder.  My problem is that I have not followed college basketball very closely this last season.  My interest in college basketball has waned down to March Madness.

Therefore, I have very limited information upon which I can build bracket certainty.  I default back to what is familiar:

Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina – they are always good

Pac-12 Teams – they usually choke under the tournament pressure

Gonzaga – I have a soft spot for the small, Northwest school

Butler – Do they have some magic for another run?

I know that the bracket that I complete will be wrong.  There will be some Cinderella team that comes along and ruins a whole branch or the quality that I assume in some teams will be based on decade old traditions and misplaced.  Here are my  picks.

My bracket is made up of some knowledge and a lot of wishful thinking.

It seems like that many folks approach their faith much like the NCAA Tournament.  They pick out what they are going to believe based on a little bit of knowledge and a lot of wishful thinking.

We have enough evidence in the physical world around us to inform us that there is a God.  Beyond that, what can we really know about God?  Man’s rational approach to reasoning is based upon man’s own experience.  We apply evidence from our senses and make logical inferences to broader meanings and principles.  What if the truths that we seek are beyond our experience?  What if the true reality of the universe is beyond our senses?

God is beyond any man’s experience and senses.  Therefore, it is impossible for man to discover God.  A scientist will never be able to conduct an experience and proclaim, “I have discovered God.”  God had to reveal himself to us.  That was the only way for us to know him in a way beyond the fingerprint of creation.  God made himself known to mankind through His prophets and apostles by his own initiative.  He preserved that sacred revelation in His scriptures.

We get ourselves in all sorts of trouble when we think we can know God on our own.

The reality is that we will sometimes have strong debates about the revelation of God.  The early Church had such debates.  We are told that the early Church engaged in “no small dissension and debate” (Acts 15:2) and “much debate” (Acts 15:7).  These were debates between believers.  There was Paul and Barnabas on the one side and believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees on the other side.  The debates in the early Church were resolved by those who had received the direct revelation from God – the Apostles.  They relied upon God’s revelation.  We no longer have the apostles but God’s revelation through them is now within the wonderful texts of our Bibles.

There is much debate in the Church today.  There are people who assert that which the scripture calls sin as mere cultural remnants of an ill-informed past.  There are people who preach theological gymnastics to support realities that are clearly denied in the scripture.  They are creating a faith based on a little information and wishful thinking.  They have much less hope of discerning the thoughts of God than I do of picking the NCAA Basketball Champion.   I might get lucky; they won’t.

The debates that arise in the Church can be resolved in one place and one place only – the revelation of God.

Sola Scriptura – by scripture alone.

Any argument that runs counter to what is clear in the scripture is built on the foundation of human reasoning.  Those who follow their own knowledge and wishful thinking do so at their own peril and the peril of those who follow them.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your word.  Thank you for the scriptures that You have preserved for me in my Bible.  Father, do not let my pride lead me to beliefs and understandings that are not grounded in your revelation.  I know that it is by your grace and mercy that anyone can know you.  Thank you for revealing yourself to us, your creation.  Father, continue to protect your Church and your people from those who try to lead many astray by their own knowledge and wishful thinking.  Amen



March 8, 2013

“And the king (Josiah) stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book.  And all the people joined in the covenant.”  2 Kings 23:3

“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all that Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” 2 Kings 23:25


Read Part 1 here at “THE DUESENBERG – PART 1

Traveling SalesmanHis son, the fortunate man’s grandson, discovered that he was owner of the Duesenberg when the family attorney handed him an unfamiliar key during the reading of his father’s will.  “A Duesenberg” he snorted under his breath. “A car from a by-gone era, just like this empire my father has left me,” was all he thought.  The grandson was consumed with the worries of transforming a business in a vastly different economy than that of his father or grandfather. The years of prosperity were gone and he was fighting to retain the family’s wealth.  He had no time for an old Duesenberg.  The beautiful car was tucked into the back of the old carriage barn and covered.  The grandson forgot about the elegant car as the wealth of his grandfather slipped from his fingers.

The grandson died sooner than others his age.  The stress of being the patriarch of a declining house had stripped years from his life.  He had compromised all of his ethics in search of the deal that would turn everything around.  He had built a reputation throughout the business world as that of a swindler due to his relentless desperation to hit it big.

His son, the fortunate man’s great grandson, inherited assets consumed by creditors. His first action was to prepare for the bankruptcy of the family businesses. He knew his family was bankrupt of wealth and hope.

On a sunny day, after a gray meeting with yet another bankruptcy attorney, the great-grandson took a walk through the family’s country estate; the home that his great-grandfather had built.  He poked through the various out-buildings in an attempt to ease his mind.  That is when his eyes were drawn down a shaft of sun streaking through some dilapidated boards of the barn.  The sunlight was illuminating a familiar form.  It was the forgotten Duesenberg.  He had remembered his father haphazardly showing it to him years ago when he was a boy.  Just the glimpse of the stately car as his father jerked the tarp back had been enough for him to fall in love with the automobile.  The Duesenberg had been the center piece in many of his day-dream adventures of his youth.

It immediately dawned upon him that he owned this Duesenberg.  This elegant masterpiece of craftsmanship was now his.  With an excitement he had not felt in a long time, he immediately set to the work of removing years of discarded debris to free the Duesenberg from its confinement of neglect.  He cleared a path through the collapsing barn, attached a chain to his prize and pulled the Duesenberg into sunlight for the first time in decades.  Time had not been kind to the old car.  It was broken down.  The finishes had faded and dulled.  The leather and fabric had cracked and fragmented.  The gears had bound and refused to turn.Olddues

The great-grandson was not detoured.  He knew what he had.  He had a treasure.  He could feel the rightness of this automobile and he could not wait to get behind the wheel.  He carefully opened the door and gingerly slipped behind the large steering wheel being careful not to cause any more damage.

He knew he had a treasure but he was unsure of what to do with it.  He inspection every inch of the car and become more enamored with it as he become familiar with its subtleties.

Dues OwnersHe cleaned the years of grime away.  When he was looking under the passenger’s seat, he saw an object that appeared to be a book tangled in the springs of the seat.  He reached the length of his arm and carefully removed the book.  He swiped the dust and spider webs from its cover and read, “Owner’s Instruction Book – Duesenberg – Model J.”  With delicate fingers, he opened the cover to the table of contents.  At the top of the page, in elegant cursive writing from a by-gone time, were the words,

“This is a treasure that you have been given.  I have chosen you for this gift.  You have not chosen me.  I have chosen you not because of who you are or who you will become.  I have chosen you because you are the least of all men.  I have chosen you for my own reasons.  You are blessed to receive this gift as will all the generations that follow you.  Only be careful to follow this owner’s manual.  This manual is a gift intended to help you and all subsequent owners to know how to care for this special blessing.  You are very blessed; never forget where you were.”


Duesenberg (Photo credit: Venom82)

The great-grandson wept as he sat on the Duesenberg’s fragile running board.  He knew that the blessings of his family were somehow tied to this automobile.  He knew that his father and grandfather had not followed the owner’s manual.  They had not valued this incredible gift.  He resolved, as he wiped the final tear from his eye, that he turn away from the ways of his father and would walk in the example of his great-grandfather.  He called his son to him and opened the instruction manual and began to read, “Instruments and Controls…”The days rolled into each other as the father and son worked to restore the old Duesenberg.  They read the owner’s manual day after day and their gray pessimism of the future turned into golden rays of hope.


Our Father in heaven has given all who are His, the gift of faith.  It is a treasure of indescribable worth.  The Bible, God’s Word, is our instruction manual.  His words are our guidance in how to follow Christ as we have been called to do.  Let’s not be like the Israelites who so neglected God’s instruction that they misplaced and lost God’s law.  Let us not neglect to follow the instruction that God has given us.  He has given it to us for our good.

May we be like Josiah and turn back to the Lord with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our might.

May the value that we place in the gift of our faith be demonstrated in the diligence of our adherence to the instruction of the Bible, our owner’s manual.

PRAYER: Lord, I find it hard to comprehend how a people could lose your law but it did happen.  I know that it can happen again.  Father, write your words upon my heart and the hearts of my family.  Lord, give us such an appreciation for your gift of faith that we will love your word.  Create in us an affection for your word that we desire to keep it near to us at all times.  You have give us your instruction for our good and enjoyment.  Spirit, guide us in the word.  Lead us back to you and your word with all of our hearts and all of our souls and with all of our might.    Amen



March 8, 2013

“And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it…Then Shaphan the secretary told the king (Josiah), “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.” 2 King 22:8, 10

“For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:13b


English: 53227(293) Works Progress Administrat...

English: 53227(293) Works Progress Administration: unemployed shown at volunteers of America Soup Kitchen in Washington, D.C., 1936. (27-0637a.gif) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There once was a man of poverty who struggled to find his daily meals.  The gray of the days of a prolonged depression matched his pessimism of the future.  Tomorrow was bleak for this man of poverty.  Hope was indeed dim for a man without means.  That all changed for him in a soup kitchen at the lonely end of a long table.A strange figure silently approached this man of poverty as he hunched over his charity soup.  This well-dressed man, who quietly sat dawn opposite him, inexplicably stretched out his arm.  At the end of his hand, there dangled a key.  “It is yours my fortunate friend; only be careful to follow the owner’s manual,” was all that he said as he dropped the key into the palm of this bewildered beneficiary.  The man of “means” lead the man “without” to the edge of the street.   With a sweep of his arm, he said, “She is yours; only be careful to follow the owner’s manual.”  The desperate man’s eyes followed the long sweep of his arm; from shoulder, to elbow, to the tip of his fingers.  What lay beyond was a dream.  A Duesenberg; it was the quintessential car of luxury and speed.

Duesenberg Convertible SJ La Grande Dual-Cowl ...

Duesenberg Convertible SJ La Grande Dual-Cowl Phaeton 1935 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He stood in amazement. He slowly turned to his companion, hoping a coherent question might form by the time he faced him, only to discover that he was gone.  He stood on the sidewalk in stunned astonishment as the crowds pushed around him.  “This must be a prank; how can this be real?”, he thought as he rolled the key in his now perspiring palm. Finally, he reasoned that he would play along even if this were a mischievous joke.  At the least, he would get to drive a Duesenberg.  Therefore, he slipped into the driver’s seat, across the custom-made interior of the most elegant automobile he had ever seen.  He started the car and pulled away from the soup kitchen with acceleration and power that he had not known were possible.This fortunate man discovered that he wasn’t the punch line in a cruel joke.  No one ever came for his Duesenberg.  It was his and he cared for it with a passion.  He followed the owner’s manual with precision for he knew the treasure that he had.

He found that owning a Duesenberg changed everything in his life.  It was generally assumed that he was a man of means due to his ownership of such a car but he knew it was something more.  Other men of ability and wealth befriended this fortunate man and opportunities were soon laid at his feet.  Prosperity changed his gray pessimism into a golden hope of the future.  As years slipped by and his wealth accumulated, he never forgot his poverty and who he was under all the fine clothes.  He was appreciative of all that he had been given and he cared for his Duesenberg with a devotion that none in his family could understand.  He followed the owner’s manual in such detail that he had it memorized.  His efforts were evident.  When he lay grayed, wrinkled and dying, the Duesenberg looked the same as that fateful day when a key was dropped into his youthful hand.

English: Duesenberg J Murphy Convertible Coupe...Just before he died, this fortunate man dropped the key of his beloved Duesenberg into the youthful hand of his eldest son. He whispered to his son in a voice stolen by age and illness, “She is yours; only be careful to follow the owner’s manual.”

This young man loved his father.  He grieved long and hard at his passing.  It took many years before he could even look at the Duesenberg because all he saw was a father, whom he missed dearly.  However, that become the reason the son grew to love the Duesenberg.  It reminded him of the man he loved.He would go into the expansive garage and just sit in the Duesenberg, which was now relegated to the last stall since it was rarely driven.  He maintained the car to keep it functional.  He would run it regularly to keep the myriad of mechanical parts well lubricated.  However, he perused the owner’s manual mostly to see the clear and decisive handwriting of his father in the margins.  He remembered the times with his father of caring for this car.  The time when his father stopped him while he was cleaning the upholstery and said, “No my son, that is not how the manual tells us to clean the leather.”  He then quoted from memory exactly how the process was to be completed and he concluded with, “we must be careful to follow the manual. It was given to us to help us keep this wonderful automobile.  If we are careful to follow the manual, this automobile will be a blessing to countless generations of our family.”

The son faithfully followed his father’s instruction but without his father’s earnestness, which he never fully understood.  The years passed and the son died after owning the Duesenberg for half a century. 

Continue reading “THE DUESENBERG – PART 2



February 16, 2013

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsel. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Psalm 81:11-13

When I was young, I could not wait to grow up.  I remember day dreaming about the time when I could have my own things and make my own decisions.  I felt very constrained as a child.  My parents decided when and where we would go.  They decided what I would eat and what I would wear.  They decided what activities that I was allowed to be involved in.  They made my work schedule.  They treated me as a child when I wanted to be treated as an adult.  I could not wait to be an adult and to experience the associated freedoms.

I realize now that I had a wonderful childhood.  I would not want to change any of it.  My parents loved me and nurtured me.  I am deeply grateful for the childhood that they gave me.  Yet, I still wanted to grow-up even though I had a wonderful childhood.

Adulthood was my escape.  In adulthood, I would be allowed to make my own decisions.  It was not that my parents were poor decision makers.  They made very good decisions.  I just wanted to make my own decisions.  However, it was never about decisions.  My desire for adulthood was rooted in control.  I wanted to be free to do what I wanted to do.

Adulthood has not turned out to be as magical as I had thought.  The freedom of making my own decisions is not as liberating as I thought it would be.  Escaping the shackles of my parents has only revealed the heavier yoke of adulthood.

I never realized the weight of adult uncertainty until I became an adult.  I had always thought that adults just did whatever they wanted to do.  I now know that is not true.  Adults have to do a lot of things that they don’t particularly care to do.

I had always thought that adults just knew the right thing to do.  I think that is one of the greatest ruses that adults play on children.  I always thought my parents knew what they were doing.   They did not.  They were figuring it out as they went along.  I have come to realize that clarity does not accompany adulthood.  We all are doing the best we can with the information and resources that we have available to us.

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

Just as my childish view of adulthood revealed my desire for control, how you view the Bible reveals your attitude about God.

There are many people who view the Bible as a book of “don’ts”.  They view it like a child views his parent.  It is a book that is removing their freedom. It is a book that tells them what they can’t do and what they have to do.  It is a book that treats them like children when all they want to be is an adult.  That sort of attitude can lead to day-dreaming about activities and a life free from those oppressive constraints.  Many have felt that if they were just free to follow their own counsel then they would be happy and satisfied.

The refusal to walk in the ways of the Lord is not about decisions it is about a heart battling for control.  We want to do what we want to do.

How do we know what is the right thing to do?  We all have a choice.  We can either follow our own counsel or the counsel of God to decide what the right thing is.

My counsel comes from me.  I don’t know anything beyond my experience.  Therefore, my counsel is an undulating wave of feelings and convictions evolving from my attempt to figure this world out as I am passing through it.  My counsel involves trial and error.  It requires me to make to decisions on how the universe works that I can’t know.  My counsel speculates what the future holds with multiple layers of assumptions and inferences.

My counsel is a guess,  biased by a stubborn heart.

God’s counsel is from the One who created this world.  He is the One who knows the purposes and meanings of this world.  He is the author of this world’s purposes and meaning.  God knows all that happens. He is in control of all creation; taking it along His divine plan.  God’s counsel entails the most complete and deepest understanding of the past, present, and future.

God’s counsel is the most reliable source of guidance available to us because He has a perfect understanding and knowledge of all things.

Why would anyone choose their own counsel?

A stubborn heart has a deleterious effect on our decision-making.   A stubborn heart will elevate our own counsel because that will get it what it ultimately wants.  A stubborn heart demands the freedom of selfish pursuits just like a child can long for adulthood.  The achievement that perceived control is merely a life of eternal insecurity because it is inevitably based on a heart that is trying to figure it out.  Clarity and certainty is impossible. There will come a day for all people when they realize that they are still subject to the requirements of this world.  Just like adults don’t get to do whatever they want to do, this world has consequences for the actions of every person.  It doesn’t matter what we day-dream the world to be like.  Reality has a way of waking us up.

When it comes to the knowledge of this spiritual universe, I am a child.  I can’t figure out how it works on my own.  I don’t want to rely on my day-dreams of what I hope it will be like.  I need a trustworthy Counselor.  I have a Father in heaven who loves me and knows how to give me good things.  He has given me His counsel.  Why would I reject His counsel?  Why would I think that I could know better than Him?

We need to cling to the good counsel of our God even when we really don’t like what it might be saying.  Don’t trust your feelings.  The discomfort that we may feel from God’s counsel is merely the abrasion of a stubborn heart; a stubborn heart that needs to be daily worn down by the Gospel.  It is the Gospel that softens our stubborn hearts and creates a desire for God’s word and a disdain for the contrary counsel of this world and our own mind.

Whose counsel will you seek this day?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for not leaving us on our own.  Thank you for providing us with your Word and giving us your Counsel.  Forgive me for acting like I know better.  Forgive me for not following your Word like I know that I should.  You have given it to me for my good.  It is a wonderful gift.  Father, I delight in you Word; write it upon my heart.  Weave your counsel into every part of my life.     Amen



December 24, 2012

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”Judges 17:6

I think that I may need to reduce my consumption of wordpress blog reading. A tear has come to my eye on several occasions while reading the words of the lost.  Their own words cry out to their hopeless condition and need of a savior.

I have been shocked at the number of atheist blogs whose sole purpose is to attack people of faith, particularly the Christian faith. In general, these atheistic blogs rage against a god that they don’t believe exists, cast insults at me for beliefs that they don’t really understand, and scoff at a book that they have never studied. I tend to recoil from their aggressive hopelessness.

I stumble through a consistent stream of blogs pouring forth a confusing volume of spiritualisms that are probably best described as agnostic; an expression of a futility in searching for the absolute truth. Their words express to me a sense of defeat. They cannot use their own reason and logic to prove or disprove God so they punt – they settle for second best. A life of principles developed on what suits them the best.  I am astounded by the gamble they take in a belief system of their own creation; it will all work out if I am just a good person – that is a monumental gamble. It is a desperate hope.

The “Christian” blogs present a surprising wide spectrum of beliefs. I have read the words of those who have been hurt deeply, those who have been excluded, those who are running, those who are in rebellion and those who are wolves trying to destroy and tear down all in the name of true faith.

I don’t know how God handles it all because the magnitude of the lost and seeking is overwhelming to me.

One would have hoped that with all the fulfilled prophesies and proofs of the Bible that the times of doing what was right in our own eyes would be diminishing. From what I can see, “everyone did what was right is his own eyes” can be a motto for our generation. I am not sure how the Israelites of Judges can have us beat at doing life our own way.

I have become a little numb to conversations starting with “I think” or “can’t mean that” or “my god wouldn’t do that” but contain no or only selective scriptural support.  I am no longer surprised by the disregard shown to faithful theologians of old, who have searched the scriptures with much more vigor than I have, by being tossed aside as relics of an uninformed or intolerant past.

I guess what I am most confused by is trust that people place in themselves.

I know myself.  I know that I can be deceived. I know that I have inherent biases that will skew my decisions. I know that there is so much that I don’t know. I know that teachers of God’s word will be judged based on what they teach. I know that wolves will come into the faith and lead many astray. I know that I am to be examining myself.

Most of all, I know that my sanctification is not complete. Therefore, what seems right in my own eyes is probably wrong. My sinful nature is not inclined to follow God. Why would I trust it?

English: The Bible

English: The Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I need a sure foundation.  I need something absolute that I can trust.  I need a filter that I can use to sieve all the opinions of this world to discover the nuggets of truth.  We have been given such a tool. The Word of God, the Bible, is our standard. God has given us what we need so that we will not be deceived by ourselves or others. We need to be like the Bereans in Acts.

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11

This is why we need to know our Bibles.  God has given us his Word for our own good. I want to be like the Bereans – the only way I examine myself and have assurance is to be a man of the Word. The only way to be a man of the Word is to be in it daily.

Let’s learn how to use His word for His glory and our benefit.  Let’s dedicate ourselves to being people of God; a people of the Word.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for your word.  Thank you for not leaving me on my own to try and figure this confusing world out.  Thank you for protecting me from the wolves that roam about trying to lead me astray.  Lord, open my eyes to the truths of your word. Father, fill me with your Spirit – teach me to know your ways; help me in my unbelief.  Don’t leave me like I am. Transform me more this day into what you want me to be.  You are so good to me, beyond anything I could ever merit. I praise your name for you are my God.   Amen



November 25, 2012

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

According to Steve Cochrane in an article for Tech Republic, you should avoid Russian tractors if you’re in the tractor market. At least you should strike soviet-era tractors from your list. That is unless you enjoy doing mechanic work on tractors, then this might be the tractor for you.

The soviet tractor was the product of a mindset that did not value continual improvement and quality. There was no competition, only quotas, so design rarely changed and flaws persisted. They just kept doing what they did to meet the expectation of the state. The result was a product that did not fail to disappoint. Russian farmers had to continually invest their limited income into repairs of an inferior product.

The contrast is a vehicle manufactured by Toyota. Toyota is a company with stringent quality control. They are continually seeking to improve their product and maintain a high level of quality. Toyota has even developed their own production method called “lean production” and the result is a vehicle that rarely disappoints. It is why a Toyota is… well, a Toyota.

I was wondering how you would describe your faith; would you describe it like a Russian tractor or a Toyota?

There are folks who just continually struggle in their faith; it seems like their spiritual lives consistently fall apart on them. They seem to spend all of their time working on themselves and can never be used. They practice their faith in a manner to simply please the expectations of others. They seem like a Russian tractor.

That may be due to a fundamental flaw in their mindset.  Many folks “get saved”, mark it off their bucket list and just keep doing what they have always done. “Getting saved” is only the start of the Christian life. It is the start of a life of continual improvement and an obsession on quality control that in Christian talk we call sanctification. However, sanctification, like quality, doesn’t just happen. Toyota has invested billions into their production process to get the results that they now enjoy. The soviets never did and now they are gone.

We need to be willing to invest in our own sanctification. That means we need to be willing to put the time in. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit but that does not free us of responsibility. We can’t just keep doing what we do. We need to knock, seek, and ask.  All of those words are verbs; action words. When we do all of those actions with our Father in heaven and He will never fail us. We will never be let down by our Father when we invest in our own sanctification.

There may be some folks that go – how? I have been there and have been discouraged by trite answers. I have wondered how this all works because I am tired of being…me.  Maybe, the tools of Toyota’s lean production process can lend us truths in the pursuit of quality in our faith.

  1. Sort through items keeping only what’s needed: Let’s face it; our lives are full of things that we don’t need. There are some things that simply have got to go. They are keeping you bound to this world. They are sources of unholy desires that simply have to be removed because they will continually bring you down.  All things are free to you but all things are not beneficial. You know what those things are. It is time to deal with them.
  2. Straighten – a place for everything and everything in it’s place: Organize your life. As an example, if you find it difficult to have a consistent time in prayer and Bible reading, then organize it. Set aside the same time every day. Don’t try and fit it in; you will never find the time. Get all your Bible stuff in the same place. We can find all sorts of excuses to get up and waste the precious little time that we have. Do this sort of organizing throughout your life and you will be amazed at the consistency that will come from it.
  3. Shine – cleanliness:  Be passionate about purity. It can be so discouraging to fall into that same old sin. Be quick to go to our Father and confess that sin, once again, and be reminded that your sins are forgiven (cleansed), and turn to him (setting your mind on the Spirit) ; become a spiritual neat freak. We can become comfortable with filth in our lives. We need to check our desires and continually clean. We live in a corrupting world that can cling to us like dirt. We need to continually be cleaning the desires of our heart and setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.
  4. Standardize – develop systems and procedures to maintain and monitor the first three: We need to create an examination process in our lives that helps us evaluation how we are doing. This takes humility. We need to remember that we have never “made it”. We are all works in progress. I think that it is healthy to daily evaluate: do I need to sort through things, standardize, clean. A heart that desires Christ more than anything else should always be humbly seeking the Father to make sure we are still moving; constantly desiring more and wanting to go deeper.
  5. Sustain the new level of performance:  Many Christians have this idea that the Christian life is a rollercoaster.  That is a defeatist trap. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit; it is a gift of our Father that he gives us when we seek him. Why would that go up and down? That doesn’t mean that we will not experience disappointment and suffer. However, circumstance should not affect our maturity. It should enhance it. We need to have an expectation that this new level of fellowship with our Father is the norm. If it even begins to wane, we need to fight to sustain the new normal for our lives. Dig in and fight for it; don’t be content with the way it has always been.

When we get serious about our own faith, we will find that we can have a faith like a Toyota. A faith that will never fail us. All we need to do is start by asking, seeking, and knocking and our Father will give it to us.  Our Father is the best Father ever. He knows how to give good gifts. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)  Do you believe that?  Claim it! Do it! Prove it!  Take God at his word and you will never be disappointed in his faithfulness.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for begin such a good Father to me; thank you for giving me every good thing that I need.  Lord – I desire more of you. I desire to know you more. I desire to know you deeper. Lord – I ask that you will fill me with your Holy Spirit; overflow in me. Lord – show me those areas of my life that I need to sort through; show me where the filth in  my life is hidden; give me strength to organize my life with you as the priority. I can’t do this without out you. Thank you for not expecting me to; Lord make me into what you desire – I am willing.   Amen



November 24, 2012

“For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over to the Jordan to possess.” Deut. 32:47

Diplomacy fascinates me. I am amazed by the volume of words that can be used to say nothing. At least, it appears that they are saying nothing. Diplomats speak in a language all their own. I realized, after reading Henry Kissinger’s book Diplomacy, that diplomats usually don’t “wing-it”. They have committees that agonize over the use of precise words in the crafting of every diplomatic statement. Problems tend to arise in international politics when a diplomats carefully selected words are viewed as empty. There have been dire consequences for mistaking real intent as empty words. Hilter laid out exactly his intentions in Mein Kampf. The whole world suffered from thinking that he didn’t really mean it. Stalin and Kim Il Sung interpreted a speech by then Sec. of State Acheson as American intentions to defend the Korean peninsula as empty words. The Korean peninsula is still paying the price of that miscalculation.

I don’t know of any other words that have been more misinterpreted than the Bible. There is a significant amount of theology out there that is based on the premise that God couldn’t have meant that – they must be empty words or they must mean something different.  That is a dangerous mindset.

I have a tendency of approaching my Bible reading seeking the parts that are “for me”.  That implies that there are parts that are not “for me”. That is a dangerous mindset.

God’s word is more carefully crafted and designed than any diplomatic policy. I need to remember that all of God’s word is a gift. There are no empty words within it. All of the Word of God has been given for my very life. It is not a self-help tool – it a self-preservation tool. God is not engaging us in diplomacy. He is not negotiating with us. God warned the Israelites what would happen to them if they mistook his warnings as empty words. It did not work out for them – God did what he said he would do.

The Bible continues to have plenty of warnings for our current time. They are not empty words. Empty words do not exist in the Bible. God says what he means and means what he says. How we respond to God’s warnings reveals whether we think his words are empty or not. Do not expect a de’tente with God. It is your very life that you are playing with.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for reminding me that I am a servant – that I am not a sovereign equal. Thank you for being a God that does not play games with me – a God that I have to figure out in order to appease. Lord, forgive me for treating your words as empty and without meaning and give me the understanding to apply all of your word to my life, for your glory.   Amen

%d bloggers like this: