In today’s society, we are driven by titles. The military is very strict on titles, having everyone called by their rank and then their last name, e.g. First Sergeant Walker, or Chief Walker. But sometimes titles can be very misleading. As an example, a person we are all familiar with, the school head janitor can be called “Director of Refuse Relocation.” While this is a little amusing, here are a few titles that actually exist: “Wizard of Light Bulb Moments” (Marketing Manager), “Beverage Dissemination Officer” (Bartender), and finally “Genius” (Sales Associate at Apple), which isn’t far from the truth for us technically-challenged adults!!
Professionals in the workplace have nameplates on their desk, placards on their office door, and business cards with their names on them and of course, their title. We define ourselves by what we do, especially by titles. We’ve become accustomed to hearing a person’s title and making an immediate judgement, thinking we know the person.
Years ago, a politician I was engaging with became a little short on patience while discussing a statute. He said, “Do you know who I am?” In reality he should have said, “Do you know what I am?” I responded (gently) to his question, “Sir, I know what you are, but I do not know who you are.” He was taken aback and asked what I meant by my response. I quickly smoothed his ruffled feathers by telling him I knew what he was, but I didn’t know WHO he was! I knew nothing about his character or his person, only what his career path was. Face it, it’s easy to identify each other by our titles. But they only define what we are, not who we are.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Ephesus for the purpose of strengthening the believers in their Christian faith. To remind them who they were, Paul wrote “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God has a plan for His creation from the first moment of His creation until, well, for eternity. Paul is reminding the people in Ephesus they were created by God’s wonderful craftsmanship to carry out His plan, which is good works through His Son. This is who we are. God continues to have a plan, and created us to carry out the workings of that plan.
If someone wants to define what you are, first and foremost you are the result of the Master Craftsman; the same Craftsman who created the entire universe and all that is in it. We are a product of God. And remember, Christ Jesus defines who we are by His sacrifice. We are His workers, bought by His blood, for a life in eternity with our Heavenly Father! Therefore, be strong knowing who, and whose we are!
Mankind cannot live by bread alone; we must have relationships! Or maybe you’ve heard this one – no man is an island. It’s a funny way to state it, but we need to have relationships in our lives. Even though some may dream of living all alone in the mountains in a little log cabin, isolation can be maddening. But we’ve seen the documentaries of men living alone in the woods or mountains, and how they interact with the animals! Ha! Gotcha! Relationships!
In the movie “Dances with Wolves” Kevin Costner plays a Lieutenant sent to a far western outpost. He alone in this small, one building camp with only his horse. He spends his days repairing the deteriorating building, writing in his journal, and talking with his horse. He befriends a wolf which he names Two Socks, and eventually develops relationships with members of the nearby Sioux tribe. Even though the Lieutenant was disillusioned by his experience in the Civil War and wanted to get away from it all, being alone was not the way.
We can search for meaning in relationships. We have relationships with new friends, life-long relationships with best friends, relationships with our favorite business, and relationships with our neighbors, as well as many more.
Each type of relationship fulfills a specific need in our lives. Our best friends fulfill the need of trust and honesty. We need to have someone in our lives with which we can tell all, whether that is that life-long best friend or a spouse. Non-judgmental confession and acceptance can only come from a person we trust. The business relationships also have a thread of trust within them. We trust our favorite mechanic to repair our car correctly, and not add a lot of unneeded repairs. We have our favorite restaurants we patronize knowing the atmosphere is good, the food is consistently good, and even a welcome smile from the owner as you walk in on your regular evening makes us feel good. We all have the need to not only trust and be honest in our actions, but to be treated in the same manner by others. Kevin Costner needed the company of Two Socks, and over time each trusted and relied on each other’s abilities to spot trouble on the prairie.
Were we created for relationships? God’s Word says we were. Man (Mankind) is the only part of creation that was created in God’s image. In the book of Isaiah, we find man was created to glorify our Creator. But exactly how do we glorify God? In Psalms, we are told to worship God with gladness and “know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Part of what it looks like to glorify God is to acknowledge who God is (our Creator) and to praise and worship Him as such.
The purpose of glorifying God is when we live our lives in relationship and faithful service to Him. If we keep the relationship with God first, the one for which we were created, all other relationships will be established, guided, and sometimes even tested through the revelations God gives us.
Messages and opinions seem to abound these days. Or it might be more accurate to say they take up most of the news cycle and talk shows. Everyone has an opinion about issue “du jour” and are all too ready to give it to the listening public. As a listening public, we need to be keenly aware of several aspects of the issue, such as the message, the messenger, and sadly the motive in the delivery. Suffice it to say we need to be an educated listening public, taking in as much data as possible before forming our own opinion.
In the scientific and research community, a research design must first be established that will discover new theories, test or validate old ones, or the findings used to set new policies. There are many other uses of research, too many to go over here. The reason for setting the paradigm in the beginning and then gathering data is to test your theory with the interpreted findings, not determine your findings and write out a theory that validates your paradigm! There are many ways to ensure research is done in a proper way by setting a good paradigm, but such is not the case with the issue “du jour.”
So many times on our news programs, a subject matter expert is brought on the broadcast show to give their opinion of a past event and speculate as to its impact in the future. The credentials of the expert are usually seen on a banner below them to add reliability and validity to their message. But it sometimes seems opinions are given by these experts that are neither valid nor reliable, because the news program wanted to be the first to break the news story or push what they think matters. As a result, very few actual details are given and the majority of their opinion is speculation. I would call this “data blindness” or “knowledge malpractice.”
This phenomenon is not new in our day and time. During Jesus’ day, there were several groups who refused to see prophetic writings of the prophets being fulfilled before their eyes. They believed their knowledge to be perfect and complete, and anything to the contrary was just plain wrong. This led to the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees experiencing spiritual blindness. They just didn’t believe what was going on in Jesus’ ministry, nor did they want to because it threatened their power and authority.
In the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus has returned to his hometown of Nazareth in the region called Galilee. As was his custom, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. On this day, he stood to read and was handed the scroll which contained the writings of the prophet Isaiah. The words he read very vividly described the reason and ministry for which he was sent by the Father. Once completed, he told those gathered the words he had just read were fulfilled that day before their very eyes. But all they could do was ask “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” The leader’s failed to see the outcome of all the data they had been studying for years! They wanted a different outcome regardless of all the evidence; one where they stayed in power and control!
It’s easy for us to form opinions about a great many matters, even using other’s opinions as our own to serve our own means. When in question, we should go to God’s Word to see what He says about matters, because in the end off all things, it’s only His opinion that really matters!!!
A word that can bring fear into students everywhere at any level – STUDY! Teachers and professors do their best to convey subject matter during classroom time, but work outside the classroom is needed to be successful. But try as they may, the professor just can’t get some students to understand it’s important to not only study classroom notes, but to also read the book!
Don’t think for a moment text books and instructional materials aren’t read. Students who are driven to achieve graduation honors will digest every page in the text. Professors will even pull one or two questions out of the text to place on test to reward those students who heed the warning to study. And of course, let’s not forget those professors who write their own textbook. They want a return on their investment of time and research to compile a tool for learning; to teach as much as they can to the students in their class.
I heard about a high school history teacher admit to his students “eighty percent of everything I told you in class is true, and the other twenty percent is made up!” The reason he admitted to this is history is elusive and no one has all the facts. Therefore, subjectivity comes into play in an attempt to fill in the gaps. History is like a paved road which has some of the pavement missing. We can see the trail, but some of the surface is gone forever from point A to point B.
Can the same be said about the Holy Bible? Some say it has been embellished in places and true in others. But how can we know if this is correct or not? To determine what the Bible is, we have to say what the Bible is not.
First, the Bible is very philosophical, but it is not a philosophy book. The Bible contains proven historical facts and events, but it is not a history book. It contains laws under which the nation of Israel was to live, but it is not a law book. It contains scientific facts as proven by leaders in the scientific field, but it is not a science book. The Bible is a book given to man from God revealing His Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Christ is the center and circumstance throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
There is so much more that can be said about what the Bible is and what it is not. Suffice it to say, it is a difficult book to fully understand. But if we agree it was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then one inarguable point remains – it is a spiritual book, one which can be best understood or discerned spiritually.
To read the Bible as an academic text is altogether possible. However, if we approach it in this fashion, we miss the intent of it, which is to come to a greater understanding and relationship with the creator of the universe – our Heavenly Father.
So get into the “Text” and study! We can learn a great deal in the “classroom” on Sunday mornings. But the Author wants us to study every day, and prepare us for the ultimate graduation to a place Jesus has personally prepared, and receive the riches stored up for us!
We see many things in our daily lives, some minor and some major. We get so complacent in our regular travels we sometime realize we don’t remember the last few miles we’ve driven, especially on Highway 5! Our mind wanders and we relegate the task at hand – driving – to second-level cognitive processing because we’ve become too used to traveling a certain road it’s almost like muscle memory, or as some would say second nature.
At one point in our lives most of us have been a witness to an automobile accident at an intersection. Even though we see the crash clearly, others standing on the adjacent and opposite corners see things differently. They have a perspective different from ours. For this reason, those conducting the accident investigation try to keep all witnesses separated before the statements are collected. It’s in this fashion the police can piece together the accident like pieces of a puzzle.
A courtroom is no different. Witnesses are kept outside the proceedings so as not to hear the testimony of other witnesses. They are brought in, one at a time, sworn in, and questions are then posed in a congenial way from counsel and a not so nice way from opposing counsel. Suffice it to say the experience of being a witness in a courtroom can be a daunting and sometimes traumatic experience.
Sharing your faith or “witnessing” to another can sometimes be just as daunting, and sometimes traumatic! The experience can be so unpleasant some have stopped sharing altogether. We’ve had doors slammed in our faces, been verbally rebuked, or had backs turned to us. It is not the reaction we had hoped for. But when someone is eager to listen, things go miraculously smooth. Words and scriptures pop into our mind like a script in a well thought out play, like someone was speaking the words into our ears. But just how can we determine beforehand how the encounter will go?
The sad thing is we can’t. When things go bad, we feel alone and like we’ve said the wrong thing. The opposite is true when things go well. Jesus called His disciples to do one thing above all others – witness. When Jesus called His first two disciples, Peter and his brother Andrew, He told them He would teach them how to be “fishers of men.” Jesus spent many hours teaching His disciples how to spread the Good News. He allowed them to stumble and learn. At the end of His earthly travels, Jesus gave all of them this charge – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We are commanded to share our faith to others by Jesus. So always be ready to share your faith so much so it becomes second nature to you. Study the Word and God will train you to spread the Good News. Sometimes we will stumble just like the disciples. But we can rest assured we can witness with authority, and we will never be alone; Christ is always with us when we spread HIS Good News!