IN THE KNOW

Where do you look for information and instructions? Not news, weather, and sports information. Not instructions on how to build, bake, or fix something. But “in the know” information and instructions like:

How to deal with real life situations?

How to interact with difficult people?

How to handle challenging circumstances?

How to respond when unexpected events occur?

Here’s where people “in the know” look:

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way?

Or know when we play the fool?

Psalm 19:6-12

 

Where do you turn to uncover truth, to get help, to receive healing, to find hope?

Here’s where people “in the know” turn:

There’s nothing like the written Word of GOD for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live GOD’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks GOD has for us. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

People “in the know” know GOD’s Word is the best source for finding answers to life’s questions and in dealing with life’s problems. Nothing else is more practical, powerful, profound, and poignant. In the late 90’s a group named Burlap To Cashmere came out with a song titled Basic Instructions (Before Leaving Earth) which forms the acronym BIBLE (this song can be found on YouTube). Only The BIBLE reveals what has been, what is, and what will be. It explains who GOD is, who we are, and what this life is all about. GOD’s Word provides insight and understanding in regards to the happenings in our world today both near and far away. GOD’s Word puts life into life.

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people are not “in the know” when it comes to the Word of GOD, but rather just say “no” to it. The majority of people place no value on the information and instructions it contains, and believe it is archaic and irrelevant. This passage describes the state of affairs today:

 …because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

What is offensive about the Word of GOD? Why is it ridiculed, mocked, and ignored? How is knowing about GOD and knowing about ourselves a bad thing? Does learning to live fully and love fully have a negative side to it? Even people who claim to love Jesus and consider themselves to be Christians rarely or never read their Bibles – which is ludicrous. It’s like a person who claims to be a swimmer but never gets into the water; or a vegetarian who avoids eating vegetables.

So here are a couple questions:

Do you find information and instructions for living and loving from The Bible or from fancy fads, novel notions, and tired traditions? And when it comes to the Word of GOD are you “in the know” crowd or in the “no” crowd?

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WONDERS & WOWS

I’m at that age where I get to enjoy the blessings of grandchildren. This has helped me notice again how life is full of wonders and wows. Everything is new, special, and fun for children. This past week, my 6 month old grandson, Charlie, found out about the wonders of Cheerios. He looked them over, picked them up with his tiny fingers, and attempted to get them into his mouth to experience their texture and taste. WOW!  A couple months ago, I assisted my 5 year old grandson, Brady, in the wonder of riding a bicycle without training wheels. The look on his face when he knew he had mastered this was priceless. WOW!

Here are a few more wonders and wows of childhood you may remember: building a sand castle, catching a firefly, sucking an ice cube, hearing a cricket, picking a bouquet of dandelions, making a snow angel, losing a tooth, roasting a marshmallow, chasing a butterfly.

While wonders and wows seem especially true for little ones, they are present throughout our lives. There is still much to wow us and make us wonder, even as we grow up and move through adolescence and adulthood. Do you ever wonder now? Do you ever wonder enough to be wowed?

Take a good look at God’s wonders—they’ll take your breath away.  Psalm 66:5

Do you ever wonder about GOD and His creation? Things like a volcano, a coral reef, a galaxy? Do you ever wonder about the uniqueness’s of a walking stick, a sea horse, a humming bird, a giraffe, a blue whale? How about a rainbow, a snowflake, a shooting star, the morning dew, the ocean tides? Have you ever wondered about a spider’s web, a chicken’s egg, a bee hive? WOW!

Do you ever wonder how GOD gave us human beings the capacity, the intellect, and the ambition to imagine, invent, engineer, build, and manufacture? Things like the Panama Canal, the Great Pyramids, the Mackinaw Bridge, the Channel Tunnel, and Hoover Dam? Do you ever wonder how the power of hundreds of horses is harnessed into automobiles that everyday take us everywhere we want to go? How huge, heavy airplanes are able to fly through the air at unimaginable speeds and altitudes? How ships the size of a Midwestern town can float across the ocean? How we can communicate with people all over the world on devices that have no wires attached to them? WOW!

Wonders and Wows are all around, but most of us just don’t take the time to notice them. We’re too busy, too much in a hurry, too distracted, too dull. Instead of wonders and wows, our lives consist more of worries and woes. We can choose otherwise, though. And here is perhaps the greatest wonder ever:

 For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. 1 Peter 3:18a

WOW!  

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Pursuing happiness may be one of our inalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence, but is it really a worthwhile pursuit? How many people are truly happy? We have all heard others say: “If it makes her happy,” and “He deserves to be happy,” or “Do whatever makes you happy.”

Are you happy? Am I happy? What makes us think we are even supposed to be happy?

Happiness is subjective, as well as a shifting target. One day it’s here, the next day it’s there. It fluctuates like the wind, flows in and out like the tide, then flees the second problems arise. Happiness swells from a selfish, rather than a selfless perspective, and what makes you and me happy today won’t make us happy tomorrow.

Happiness is elusive until it has this or does that…then it changes again.

Happiness desires prime rib and lobster until it has it;

Happiness wants a Manhattan penthouse, a beach-front cottage, or cabin in the mountains until it has it;

Happiness longs for a Lexus until it has it;

Happiness is often found waiting for the weekend or retirement until they arrive.

But something newer, nicer, bigger, and brighter will appear and then we will want that instead, because happiness lives in the immediate and lasts only until it sees the next thing. Likewise, happiness only stays around when our happenings are kind to us, once our happenings get nasty, it is nowhere to be found.

 

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

Godliness with contentment pursues the eternal and welcomes the present. It doesn’t dart when difficulties come, but intentionally moves god-ward, on a steady, lifelong quest seeking to know GOD and be known by GOD. Godliness with contentment tries to carry a Christ-like attitude and produce long-term Spiritual fruit – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) – no matter what happens to be happening to us. Nobody does this perfect, or even close to it, but godliness with contentment embraces all of life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – causing an increasing level of satisfaction and significance.

For godliness with contentment is okay with what it has and where it is…

Godliness with contentment can enjoy a cup of soup and crust of bread;

Godliness with contentment can live very well in a tar-paper shack, a studio apartment, or a mud hut on the Serengeti;

Godliness with contentment likes the old Buick LeSabre just fine;

Godliness with contentment doesn’t expect to retire, but to transition into its next assignment.

While happiness is about right now and what’s next, godliness with contentment makes the most of today while preparing for tomorrow. It is both responsible in this life and ready for endless life, allowing for peace and joy through it all.

 

Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!  Psalm 144:15

POLITICALLY CORRECT

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” – George Orwell

Can anything “political” be considered correct? Supposedly, politically correct speech attempts to be nice, neutral, and non-offensive, but in reality, this is an impossibility. Just take a look at Jesus. He was the most caring, compassionate, and helpful person who ever walked and talked, and certain people still hated Him enough to beat Him ruthlessly, mock Him relentlessly, and then murder Him on a Roman cross. No, people are not neutral over important or even unimportant issues. People have real opinions and it is imperative to know what they are. So instead of trying to be politically correct, how about this: 

…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,   Ephesians 4:15 

Political correctness attempts to conceal the truth and coerce its listeners. It is interested in giving an image, gaining supporters, and getting votes. In doing this, political correctness does not present a neutral position, but a neutered one. It is both impotent and irrelevant since it won’t commit to anything. Sure, there are times when the truth can hurt, but as Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho said: “Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.” 

Speaking the truth in love focuses on enhancing trust, edifying relationships, and encouraging dialog. It places a priority upon protecting the character of others, not silencing the opposition. Speaking the truth in love emphasizes communicating in a way that is not boastful, proud, nor rude, and it is also quite simple to do.

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”  Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe

So how about we put an end to all this patronizing and placating one another with political correctness – which isn’t correct at all – and commit to doing as Great Grandpa reminded us to do, “Always speak the truth but don’t always speak.”

 

OPINIONS MATTER

There is a barrage of opinions being aired everyday about everything and this is good. Everyone is entitled to both have and to voice their own opinion about the various issues, items, and happenings going on, and everybody’s opinion is a valid one. Some opinions are right, some are wrong, and some are totally irrelevant, but still, opinions do matter. Differing opinions are not a problem, people should have different opinions about various matters because we are different – we have different needs, we have had different upbringings and experiences, and we view the world in different ways. Differing opinions drive people to talk, to test, and to try new approaches.

Yet few things in life are worse than having an opinion without knowing why you have it.

Problems arise from people without their own opinions who attempt to silence those opinions which oppose theirs. These people can provide no reason of their own for supporting the opinions they have adopted because their opinions belong to somebody else, i.e., they have an opinion without knowing why they have it.

Thus, these people are threatened because they know they cannot accurately explain or defend their opinion, since they have never really thought it through, so they resort to using force, generating fear, employing terror, and/or playing the role of the victim to accuse those who differ in opinion as being haters.

Really? Because I have a different opinion about a matter means that I hate? How and why can I hate people I don’t even know?

GOD-FEARERS & FOOLS

The wisest and richest human being who ever walked this earth, King Solomon of Israel, said these things:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.   Ecclesiastes 12:13

King Solomon’s father, King David, who is known as “a man after GOD’s own heart” and also a great leader and warrior, said this:

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.   Psalm 14:1

Thus, human beings who inhabit our planet can be broken down into pretty simple groups: We have males and females, and we have GOD-Fearers and Fools. The differences between males and females used to be as obvious and basic as anything can ever be, but even now that is being dissected, debated, and determined by high courts and science laboratories. So this post will focus on the main differences between GOD-Fearers and Fools:

  • GOD-Fearers acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth. They proclaim that He is the One, True, Triune GOD who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of life.
  • Fools make up a god of their own by forming an image, fabricating a notion, or formulating a scheme within their own imagination.
  • GOD-Fearers attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD.
  • Fools give credit to Mother Nature, Father Time, Lady Luck, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy – just to name a few.
  • GOD-Fearers admit dependence upon GOD, openly surrender control to Him, and yield their free will to His will.
  • Fools boast of their independence, strive for power, and force their will upon others.
  • GOD-Fearers accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters – the good, bad, and ugly, as well as life and death. They allow and invite GOD to work through all things for their good and His glory whether or not they agree with or understand why.
  • Fools panic, complain, and attempt to control and manipulate situations and circumstances in order to “fix” things and “avoid” all pain and strain, so they forfeit their opportunities to grow and develop through such happenings.
  • GOD-Fearers worship GOD. They give Him thanks and praise for who He is and for what He does.
  • Fools worship and praise the things GOD created – nature; people who are popular, powerful, and peculiar; and themselves.

So what group are you in – GOD-Fearers or Fools?

GREATNESS

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Matthew 18:1 

It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request. “What do you want?” Jesus asked.  She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”   Matthew 20:20-21

 

James and John wanted greatness for themselves. Their mother wanted it for them (and herself) as well. Jesus’ followers today are no different either. We all seek greatness for ourselves. We want respect and recognition, along with a little applause. But Jesus was (and still is) seeking a different type of greatnessgreatness for His Father, not Himself. It is greatness defined in an entirely different way.

 

“I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is great than John. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of GOD is greater than he is!”  Luke 6:28

 

Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies. “I assure you, He said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”  Luke 21:2-4

 

Both John the Baptist and the Widow would not be considered to be great people in our society. They were poor in worldly goods, but very rich in godliness, and that is what made them great. Our culture, and our Church, has a flawed foundational problem in how we define greatness. We think great people are those who hold prominent positions, draw large crowds, write best-selling books, give big donations, get their faces on magazine covers and silver screens, and win the most championships. Thus, our thinking is the problem, and we need to repent (change it) in regards to what greatness really is. We need to turn around and reform our attitudes and actions.

True greatness is not a place of affluence, accomplishment, or advantage. It is not a matter of getting the most, gaining the most, nor grabbing the most. Greatness is associated with sacrificing for, sharing with, and serving others. It is demonstrated by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness – all traits of Jesus (Colossians 3:12-13). Jesus was also characterized by His meekness, which was mistakenly confused as weakness. But meekness is far from weakness. Meekness is confident, certain, assertive, gentle, humble, powerful control. Meekness doesn’t have to talk or act big, since it has nothing to fear or prove.

Few people thought of greatness when they saw Jesus two thousand plus years ago, and few people think of greatness concerning Him now. That’s because He spent His time touching lepers, healing the disabled, caring for the troubled, encouraging the outcasts, hugging the children, and spreading the GOOD NEWS message of His salvation – all the stuff that we don’t like to do. For we really don’t like Jesus stuff, and we don’t value the people He spent His time serving or spreading the Message He shared.

We don’t even go near the diseased – let alone touch them.

We don’t associate with people who are disabled.

We don’t have time for little kids.

We don’t interact with homeless people.

We don’t inconvenience ourselves by caring for orphans and widows.

 

While we try to flaunt, force, and finagle greatness, Jesus’ example is serving greatness.

 

So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”  Matthew 20:25-28 

 

In light of Jesus’ perfect example, true greatness seems to be this: willingly and cheerfully looking for opportunities to do the dirty work of sacrificing for, sharing with, and serving those in our society who have been labeled as problems, defined as troubled, and viewed as unnecessary – and do this for the honor, praise, and glory of our Father in Heaven.

 

May you and I strive for greatness today and everyday!