To me, the best part of The Good News is that it doesn’t matter to Jesus what our outside looks like.
The above is a picture of one of our local “fast food” chains. It’s also one of the homes for “Old Coots Giving Opinions”. Yes, I have sat among them. This location is in the middle of a remodel and update. The outside is going to look “brand new”. But what about the inside? Honestly, I do not know how it passes it’s monthly inspection. Sometimes the food is lukewarm, and I’m with God on what lukewarm makes you want to do. The culture of the management, well, it doesn’t fit in with the best examples. Some employees make the effort to do a great job–the others are just there to get a paycheck. And the floors? Not very clean–especially in the food preparation area.
But the outside is going to look great! And a lot of people today live by the same attitude. As long as the outside looks great, that’s all that matters. Many even believe that if they can get the outside looking great that the inside will automatically look great. Others vainly believe that if they successfully tackle the outside appearance, then they can do something about the inside.
It might be, mind you, I said “Might be”, great if this formula really worked. But it doesn’t. Think about the encounters between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were all about the outside appearances. They worked diligently on the outside. And here’s what Jesus had to say about all that sincere effort: “27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew chapter 23 verses 27 & 28). Around here we have this thing called “Decoration Sunday”. Cemeteries are cleaned up and new floral arrangements are put out by families and friends. It’s looks good on the outside–but in a few months those arrangements are faded. And what lies beneath the trimmed sod, hasn’t changed.
So, what’s a person to do? Well, may I suggest what King David did? For the most part his “outside” looked pretty good. But his inside needed help; a lot of help. So he penned in Psalm 136 verses 23 and 24 (NLT): “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Someone may be thinking: “God doesn’t want to see what’s inside me!” But He has already seen it. David trusted God with the mess inside him–and so can you!
To me, the best part of The Good News is that it doesn’t matter to Jesus what our outside looks like. He starts in the places we need Him most–on the inside. He wants to lead you from the inside to the outside in a journey that will radically transform you more than any “curb appeal” work you can try. As far as that “fast food” location here? I can only hope they will eventually get to the inside. After all, that’s what matters the most!
We love the Smoky Mountains. The hills and the peaks are magnificent to us. We go there once a year. After going through Maryville on the way towards Townsend, we catch a better glimpse of our destination ahead. We go, not as tourists, but to rest ourselves. We venture out one day–but the other 6 days are spent in the cabin. And I was think how refreshing those mountains are. But something, rather SOMEONE, just reminded me: “Oh, really? What about the ONE who made those mountains? Reckon He has anything to do with it?”
And I immediately thought of Psalm 121 and Verses 1 and 2: “I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” Mountains are part of life–both those found in nature and those who rise up in life’s difficulties. As we face mountains, whether they are the beautiful ones like those in the Smokies, or the ones more rugged and difficult, there are two ways of looking at them; as I was just reminded.
We can look at them and think they are going to define us. That they will ultimately either rise us up to the peak, or send us crashing down to the bottom. When those mountains are made of pain, suffering, difficulties, and challenges rise up–we falsely think we have only two choices. We can roll up our sleeves and give it our best try. But most of us are not mountaineers. Or, we can bow down in surrender and believe (again falsely) that we are defeated by those mountains.
But there’s a third choice. We can look for help–but not just anywhere. Look to the God who created the beauty of the Smokies, the Rockies, the Alps, the Himalayas, and every other mountain made of rocks and dirt. If He can make such beauty (sorry, I don’t have enough faith to believe such beauty and majesty happened because of some big explosion) then He is more than able to help you when those ginormous mountains of pain and problems rise up like it’s Goliath. And He is willing! Though He did not make those mountains of problems and pains–if we look to Him and ask for His help by surrendering completely to Him, then one of two things will always happen. Either the mountain collapses in front of you like Goliath did before David, or His strength will turn you and I into mountaineers.
Snarky! The dictionary defines snarky as “having a rudely critical tone or manner“. I prefer my own definition of snarky: “it’s the combination of a lot of common sense and frustration fueled by the stupidity of others.” For some snarky is an ability; for others it’s a gift. I have been doubly blessed with both the ability and gift of snarkiness. This is also a curse because I have to fight the battle every day to use it at the most inappropriate moments. Most days I manage to keep Snarky locked up in the closet. But this morning Snarky is banging on that door, begging to be let out. And I can’t keep it locked up. So fasten your seatbelts, it may be a bumpy flight.
There was a season when the signs outside a business said things like: Clearance Sale! Buy One Get One! Inventory Liquidation! Mattresses 50% Off! Going Out Of Business! But do you know the most frequent sign seen today in front of businesses? HELP WANTED! Some are even offering sign on bonuses. What’s happened? Has the pool of available employees been abducted by an armada of UFOs? Nope! And thus Snarky has a message today.
So many people do today not want to WORK! Every day I see a boatload of people who appear able to work, but they aren’t! Those who do show up only want a paycheck. Earning that paycheck for them is as foreign as reading and properly pronunciate the Classical Greek language. The concept of hard work is anathema and they are having no part of it! It’s like 3 day old chewing gum–they find it tasteless.
Why? Why? Why? Would you believe I have some theories kindly given to me by Snarky? One reason is PARENTS! Every day I see some snooty-nosed kid with a $50,000 truck with $3,000 rims and tires, and the front end jacked-up. How do high school kids afford it? They don’t! Daddy and/or Momma wants them to have it, not earn it! I don’t know if they do it out of love or whatever reason. It’s not love giving someone whatever they want. Doing such harms them and takes away from their potential.
Another reason Snarky gives me is the U.S. Government. They reward people for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Instead of giving incentives to become productive citizens, they hand out money as quick as their intaglio printer can spit it out. I’ve heard people laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic say, “I can earn almost or even as much staying at home as I did working.” Now tell me, WHERE IN THE NAME OF GOD’S CREATION DOES THAT ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO WORK? Sorry for the yelling; I momentarily lost control of Snarky.
So what can be done? Well, parents can shut off the muck of showering their love for those kids with money and trying to make it easy for their kids. Life ain’t easy–but it can be very good! I always told my kids: You can work hard, or you can work smart! I still remember to this day back in 1992 at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. My son had just finished Basic Training, and one of the first things he said to me was: Dad, you were right! He may not remember it, but Dad sure does. Parents, teach your kids that work, even hard work, isn’t a curse–it’s an opportunity to grow and improve yourself.
Government can turn off those intaglio presses and remind everyone that nothing important, significant, or valuable is ever achieved without both determination and hard work. This may well be the thing least likely to happened. It seems our government was us to depend on THEM! Seems to me, back in the 1770’s this was one of the things that the King of England wanted–in addition they want money from those who actually worked so they would not have to work.
Finally, for those of us who understand the value of hard work, let’s doing something different. Instead of complaining about all those people sitting at home doing nothing or shopping at WalMart with their government incentives to do nothing when there are all these HELP WANTED signs–we create opportunities for teaching moments. If you’re always telling how useless they are they will not embrace those teaching moments. We need to re-teach people that there is no shame in applying themselves and that hard work is not a curse or a sin. Excuse me, I need to shove Snarky back in the closet!
Today is the Official First Day Of Fall! Unless you live in Alabama, where the weather never looks at the calendar–except summer, it doesn’t care about calendars, and it’s always lurking about some tree waiting to pounce on us. That’s all I’ve got to say about seasons and calendars.
For many folks, maybe you, their Today is not about meteorological seasons. Their day is not about revolving around the sun and how the earth is tilted in relation to that sun. Here is the Today for many–maybe you.
- It’s getting dressed to go to a funeral
- It’s another appointment with the oncologist
- It’s another lonely day in the nursing home
- It’s another day worried about that loved one battling for their life in a critical care unit
- It’s another day of living with, maybe I should say without, their Prodigal Child
- It’s the day they meet with their doctor to hear the results of their tests
- It’s the day they clean out their personal belongings at work because they have been terminated
- It’s another day of battles and despair for the addict
- It’s another day of looking at a family member with dementia wondering, “Do they recognize me?”
- It’s another day of trying to figure out how will they be able to buy groceries, or rent, or utilities, or all of the above
- It’s another day of gloom and depression
- It’s another day in the prison of fear
This, and so very much more, is the Today that people are facing. You have heard me say it so many times, but I will say it again: Much of what happens to us is beyond our control. But there is good news. While we live Today in the middle of some paroxysm, we can choose to hope in the face of anguish. How, you may ask? By remembering what David wrote:
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.Psalm 118:24 (NLT)
We do not know what kind of Today he was facing when he penned these words. It could have been a Today filled with trouble and problems. David faced many such Todays. But he also remembered he wasn’t alone in that turbulent Today–and neither are you. We never rejoice for what happens in those painful Todays, but we can rejoice that if we so choose, we are not alone. The ONE who faced that wretchedness of the Cross, will walk with us Today if we allow Him.
As difficult as any Today may be, begin your Day with the ONE who will always be with us to sustain us, guide us, and deliver us from the dominion of anguish–and replace that anguish with hope–hope that doesn’t rely on Today–but the ONE who loves us–even on a Today like Today. And hold on to HIM every second of TODAY!
And if you can’t relate to David’s song, maybe this one by Lauren Daigle will connect with you:
If the directions you have been following hasn’t gotten you to where you long to be, then may I suggest you turn to God’s Word
Garmin. Waze. Tom-Tom. Google Maps. et.al. All of these GPS based systems promise to get us to a destination we are looking for. Right? But! Have you ever had the experience of using one of those GPS things and it tells you You Have Reached Your Destination only–it’s not the place you’re looking for? Yes or No?
That you are looking for a place you really want to be–so you enter it into your GPS. It does its calculating and off you go. You turn left. Then turn right. Then turn left. Then turn right. Go 5.2 miles. You hear the glorious words, “Your destination is a quarter of a mile on your right. In 100 feet turn right. TURN RIGHT!” Then! You find yourself at a cemetery and the GPS proudly announces You have reached your destination! Wha?????
While this parable (maybe it’s happened to some of you) would make a great episode of “The Twilight Zone”, it’s an every-day-often-all-day-long experience for people today. And it’s not a GPS thing. It’s a life thing. They try to find more than a tourist attraction or great restaurant. It’s trying to find satisfaction for their life. They seek The Promise but only find a cemetery. Solomon warned us about this in Proverbs 14:12–“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” So they think, “Well, Google Maps was wrong–I’ll try Waze!” More left turns. More right turns. But they end up in the very same cemetery. What’s a person to do? Isn’t there anything that can get us to where we long to be?
I’m probably about to appear to some to be a simple-minded dolt, but if nothing in this world gives us what we long for–then perhaps we should try God’s Word–The Bible. We read in Psalms 119:105–“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” If the directions you have been following hasn’t gotten you to where you long to be, then may I suggest you turn to God’s Word–The Whole Word–And Nothing But The Word? After all, isn’t insanity defined as trying the same thing over and over expecting different results?
Surrender your life to God. Then, when the undertaker reaches that final destination, it won’t be your final destination. With Jesus leading the way, our final destination is life!
it’s crazier to be convinced–much less think–that we human beings are capable of fixing all that’s wrong in our culture.
It was Saturday, somewhere around 3:30 p.m.; during the Alabama-Florida football game. Bama (Roll Tide!) started out real good. At the end of the first quarter THE Crimson Tide was ahead 21 to 3. Then Florida started a comeback, and it looked like Alabama was stumbling hard. And I began thinking, “What did I miss in my pregame rituals? Did I wear a Bama shirt on Friday? Yes! Did I put on a Bama shirt Saturday morning? Yes! Did I have on my gameday underwear? Yes! Did I follow my pregame menu? Yes! Did I have on my Gameday Shirt? Yes! Did I have the correct snacks and beverage? Yes! Did I let down my ponytail? Yes, Yes, and Yes! So what did I forget??? It must be my fault that Bama is slipping!” This may sound crazy to some, but do you remember this Budweiser commercial?
Somehow, I was convinced that Bama wasn’t performing at its best because of me–and something I didn’t do right! Crazy to think that the outcome of an epic contest between two teams somehow depended on me and what I did, or didn’t do! And it’s crazier to be convinced–much less think–that we human beings are capable of fixing all that’s wrong in our culture. Yet this fatuous, frivolous, and futile half-baked conviction is driving so many today. And it’s driving us off that proverbial cliff.
Like a herd of lemmings, we continue to run even harder, only to fall of that cliff. You see, us hard-headed, pea-brained vacuous human beings–the only control we have in this vertiginous world is our will and our choices. Oh, these is one other thing we can control and fix: Our Reactions to what happens. No one but YOU has control over these three maxims. But the problems in our world? It matters not how many titles are after your name; it matters not what you think about yourself or another; and it certainly matters not how many initials you have after your name. It’s all BS when it comes to resolving our current crises.
So, am I suggesting that we throw up our hands in surrender to despair? Heaven’s to Betsy, NO! To relinquish and renounce hope is definitely NOT the ticket to a better world. Back to my Crimson Tide. They did win the game–but not because of my Gameday Rituals. Coaches coached to the best of their abilities. Players played hard and proved themselves at those critical junctures. I had nothing to do with the win–but I did enjoy it!
So what do we do? What CAN we DO? The remedy to this enervation? It’s not to be found in more sedation. It’s not found in the red or blue pill. While the Bible student may desire to blame Adam and Eve for this discombobulation, the castigation lies closer to home. We messed it up–and though we can fix some of our messes–this one lies outside our abilities and way beyond our capabilities. But it is not, I say NOT beyond God.
It’s NOT above His abilities. It’s NOT beyond His capabilities. And it’s NOT on the far side of His willingness. Oops, my ESPN kicked in again. One of you were just thinking: “Well, if God is able, capable, and willing–why hasn’t He done something?” And it’s a valid question that is worthy of a truthful answer, not some vapidity. He’s waiting! “Waiting for what???????” You and I.
That’s right. He’s waiting for our unconditional and absolute surrender. One day a young man who could easily be called a “religious man” came to Jesus seeking unending life. Jesus reminded this young man of how God said we are to live. And this religious young man saw those “rules” as a formula, not a lifestyle. He admitted to Jesus something was still missing, and dared to ask what was missing in his life. And Jesus told him: “Get rid of all your possessions, give the money to the poor, it will produce eternal wealth, and then follow me.”
Jesus wasn’t speaking against this religious young man’s wealth–Jesus was speaking into his surrender. We see in Matthew chapter 19 verse 22 the response of this religious young man: “But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” I love how The Message rendered the text: “That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”
He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go. Do you get the point Jesus is making? If we want to see real change in the culture, it begins with absolute and unconditional surrender to Jesus. Then, as Jesus told the disciples: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Quit looking for the formula to cure these many ills. And start surrendering to Jesus and God will do the impossible–Beginning With Us! I leave you with a song:
Every moment of every day every person is sowing seeds of some type.
The title is not a typographical error nor is it an example of using a wrong word that sounds like another word. The word is: Sow! Early this morning, while it is still dark, I was wondering what to write about today. And there wasn’t any idea floating around in my gray matter. Then it hit me! Not an idea! But a pain–a pain caused by yesterday’s activity.
Rain was coming, and I needed to get a green field planted for the upcoming deer season. I do not have a tractor–but I do have a tiller and hand tools. I loaded up the tiller, fertilizer, and seeds and off I went. I tilled up the soil, fertilized it, tilled it again, then planted the seeds. Not just one kind–but a variety of seeds. Oats. Winter Wheat. Rye grass. A variety of clover. And turnip greens.
Though the air temperature wasn’t all that bad yesterday, we did have typical Alabama humidity of somewhere around 110-125%. There were more than a few moments when I just wanted to stop and wait until another day to finish this project. But I set myself a goal–and I completed it. And now my bones, joints, and muscles ache–oh, brother do they ache! But it did get me to thinking–about Sowing Seeds as well as the end results.
Why plant such a variety of seeds? I want the deer to see a smorgasbord of great and wonderful things to eat–things that are proven they like to eat. I want to attract them in–so why plant anything they won’t eat? And what does all this have to do with Kingdom Living? This is what.
Every moment of every day every person is sowing seeds of some type. And those seeds will produce something that will either attract or repel. You can’t plant saw briars and hope to produce roses.
Even The Bible teaches this horticultural principle. Look at Galatians 6:6-7 (NLT)—“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” Many people are sowing seeds of:
- ad infinitum
- ad nauseam
Just look around! Watch the news! Listen to people talk! Such seeds as the aforementioned are growing everywhere. They repel people. They are repulsive and destructive. The fields look like kudzu patches–choking the life out of anyone and everyone. It’s not surprising to see what grows from such sowing. It’s that horticultural principle–sow seeds, add nutrients and water–and they grow into their nature. You can’t plant spinach seeds and expect to see watermelons.
But here’s the thing. There are a lot more varieties of seeds that can be planted, other than the aforementioned list. And these seeds live by the very same horticultural principles. Humor me with a few examples:
- And so many more wonderful seeds!
These types of seeds are far more attractive than repulsive. These types of seeds come from Jesus Christ. And Jesus promised that if He was lifted up, people would come to Him. I want to close out with a word to those who think they are or self-identify as “Christians”. Make sure the seeds you are sowing are the seeds that produce the character of Jesus. When Jesus was walking in the midst of His creation as one He created, sinful, messy, broken people were attracted to Him. Religious folks, not so much–with a few exceptions. There’s another verse in Galatians 6 related to sowing. Verse 9: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
After 4 hours of working on my greenfield, I was giving serious contemplation to giving up. But I let the thought of what it will produce override my pitiful desire to quit. So, what are you sowing today?
People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing
I chuckle a bit when looking at the above image. One would have to be an electrician or electrical engineer to get it–I’m neither, but I get it. It’s the symbol for resistance. So, it means Resistance Is Futile! And in case you were wondering about the title of today’s musings–they are synonyms for Futility! Today’s culture has many issues; even more problems. Among those is Futility; more accurately–the failure to recognize Futility.
Allow me to share what a certain author once wrote. This particular author had the means to do anything he wanted–without anyone telling him he couldn’t. Ever imagine winning the biggest lottery and what all you would do? This author lived his life doing anything and everything he wanted. And after the fact–he writes with brutal honesty about that experience. Here is what he had to say:
“Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.” A few lines later, he adds this: “But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.”
Do these words sound like a cynic? Do these words sound like what is in your own heart, but you are either too stubborn to admit it; or too afraid? Our culture is that proverbial hamster on a wheel. Running as fast and as hard as we can, spinning that wheel, but going and getting nowhere. People try and try to make their own way work. They live by the opinions of others. They live by their feelings. And they live by their own sincere beliefs–be they ever so ineffective. No wonder there is so much hate, frustration, anger, distrust, resentment, and yes–Futility.
It’s going to take more than getting the hamster off the proverbial wheel. When the hamster gets off that wheel, he’s still in a cage–imprisoned. So he gets right back on that wheel hoping it will free him from his prison. So he runs a little faster; tries a little longer; hopes a little more. And when he finally gets too tired to run anymore, he’s still in that cage. Rest a moment, then try again. Rest again. Try again. Listen again to the thoughts of the aforementioned author: “The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.“ And the resulting sensation after all this? Try these words on for size: “Everything is wearisome beyond description.“
If you listen very carefully you will hear that Sigh Of Futility when we writes: “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.“ Is that how the world looks to you? Is that how you feel about your life? Sounds like he wrote this just this morning.
Oh, would you like to know the name of this book and the author? Get your pen and paper; write it down so you can get on Amazon and order the correct book. Here it is: Ecclesiastes is the book and the author is King Solomon. And to think, some believe the Bible isn’t relevant for what we are face any and every day. Granted, this all sounds like doom and gloom–because it is. Without understand the Key to what he writes, it seems like we should all give up and live in loud desperation.
I am thankful to Chuck Swindoll for helping me see and understand exactly what Solomon is writing about. I give credit where the credit is due. The key phrase that makes sense of all this “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless” wretchedness is this repeated phrase: UNDER THE SUN! It comes from living a life completely detached from God–the God revealed in the Bible through The SON.
Life without surrendering to God always feels like, using Solomon’s image, we are chasing the wind. Chasing the wind only gets us winded–and gives us that tsunami of Futility. The Futility of life without The SON isn’t God punishing us for ignoring Him. It’s the reality of life without the Lordship of Jesus over us–how we think, what we say, and what we do. It one of those moments of true cause and effect. Until we quit living under the sun and start living under the SON we will be plagued by Emptiness, Frivolousness, Measliness, Paltriness, and Triviality–which means Futility!
And if you doubt this Wise Man’s opening remarks, then listen to this: “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.” Futility ends when we kneel at the Cross and surrender everything under the sun and begin living life under the Kind Rule of The Son!
“I’m just trying to make sense of it all.” When we see, hear, think or read about something that defies human logic–the brain wants to kick in and wants to do something, do anything, that will make sense of it to us–so that it becomes more copacetic and saporific for us. After all, that’s the way life should be, right? And that’s how the fight started!
For example, take the above quote from Leslie Weatherhead’s book The Will of God. I don’t know what was going on in his gray matter when he wrote this; and I don’t want to know if there’s more swill like this in there. My hunch is that Weatherhead was trying to make sense of why Jesus was killed. I mean, who in their right mind would leave the perfect eternity and step into time with the intention of dying on a cross? It just didn’t make sense to Weatherhead.
So, to make sense of it all, Weatherhead concludes that Jesus’s intention wasn’t to die, but to get all of us knuckleheads to follow Him. Somehow, that made sense to Weatherhead. Bless his heart! And I say this with all the Southern that lives within me. Those from the South know exactly what I mean. It didn’t make sense to him that The Creator would intentionally (using Weatherhead’s terminology) choose to die for who He created. I’ll say it again with emphasis: Bless his pea-pickin’ heart!
I’m not picking on Weatherhead and his pea-sized brain alone–but the sophism and absurdity that somehow we human beings are qualified and capable of making sense of. . . well . . . anything and everything. Here’s another example: The government’s responsibility is to take care of our needs and wants from cradle to grave. Making sense of this is like trying to nail a poached egg to a tree. Or how about all those other ludicrous, ill-advised, and doltish things people believe, say, or do? How do you make sense of things that just don’t make sense?
Try this on for size:
“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.”
Here Solomon doesn’t say God will help us make sense of everything. But he does say that God will guide us to the right path. I don’t know about you, but this here wisdom of Solomon–It just makes sense to trust God! Especially when nothing else makes sense!
What if we designed our church according to God’s Specifications rather than our own?
Are specifications important? Ask an engineer! Commercial jets are manufactured to exacting specifications. In the manufacturing and in the maintenance of an airliner each and every part must match the specifications in the design. If any part falls outside the tolerance levels, then we get to watch how it affects that plane on the show Air Disasters!
Why this musing about specifications and tolerance levels? Because I’ve been thinking–seriously thinking–deeply thinking–about the malaise of the church in the U.S. and throughout Western Civilization. Civilization! Now there’s an oxymoron–ain’t much civilized in the Western Culture. Let’s go ahead and address the pink elephant in the room–Western churches are in a state of decline. Truth is–this isn’t a recent phenomenon; it’s been happening for decades. And it breaks my heart.
My conclusion? The church has been built to the wrong Specifications–and it is way outside the tolerance levels. And like that jet headed towards that Air Disaster, so are we. In fact, many local churches have already crashed and burned–debris and dead bodies lying everywhere. They have built the church according to their specifications rather than God’s! The color of the church carpet? Our Specifications! The kind of music to sing? Our Specifications! Use of church building facilities? Our Specifications! The type of preaching? Our Specifications! The kind of people they want in? Our Specifications! Who’s in leadership? Our Specifications! The mission? Our Specifications! The expectations of members? Our Specifications! Got the point yet? Good!
When we build a church on Our Specifications it falls way outside the tolerance ranges established by the One who designed it, and the One who owns it. Instead of building by Our Specifications, what if we started asking those OUTSIDE the building what THEY would like to see in a local church? WHAT IF we designed a church that those who don’t like church would like it instead of designing a church that WE LIKE? I’m not talking about changing The Message! That would fall way outside the Specifications! Besides, look at many United Methodist Churches in The West who have changed The Message, and see the disaster that’s happening. In North Georgia, the largest United Methodist Church is being accused of not kowtowing to the progressive agenda and the Conference is attempting to take it over. They are accused of having closed hearts and closed doors–even though they are the largest congregation in that Conference. Madness, I say, Madness!
What if we designed our church according to God’s Specifications rather than our own? The church is designed to be a refuge for the messes (that’s not a typo–messes not masses). After all, that’s the kind of people that were attracted to Jesus when He walked His Creation in the form He helped create. Jesus attracted crowds of people who were messed up, broken up, and confused. They were drawn towards Him! And those Pharisees and Sadduccees, operating accord to their Own Specifications? How many were drawn towards their Specifications? Figure it out for yourself–and see if you are using the Wrong Specifications.