My Life is Jammed Again (Part 1)

Sometimes I feel like my life is full of happiness and joy and other times it feels like it is full of grief and strife.  Many times my grief and strife is because of my own pride and sinful behavior.  Sometimes circumstances, that are beyond my control, cause me pain and sadness.

If you have felt this way before, you are not alone.  Everyone goes through times of grief and strife, sadness and pain.  In all this, I want you to know that you are just like a copy machine.  A copy machine?  Yes a copy machine.

There are many aspects of a copy machine that replicate your life and mine.  In this first part, I will show you an aspect that we are not in control of, but is very important to understand, to appreciate the lessons later.  First and foremost, copy machines are manufactured for a specific purpose.

In all my years repairing copiers, I have found that each type of machine is manufactured specifically to achieve some sort of specific purpose.  All copiers are divided into segments.  A segment 1 machine you can typically find in your home.  A segment 6 machine you will most likely find in a professional print shop.  Each machine has its purpose.

Some copiers are meant to produce a small amount of black and white copies while others are meant to produce high quality color prints.  There are copiers that scan to email, while others produce books.  Almost everywhere you see a print, poster or book, most likely it was produced on some sort of print or copier device.

When a manufacturer produces a copier, they go through a lengthy process of asking themselves:

“What can I improve upon from the last copier?”

“What can I remove from the last copier?”

What does the customer wish to see?”

“How can we make this copier more profitable?”

These types of questions, guide the manufacturer in how they produce their specific copy machine.  In fact, did you know you were made that way?

In the Psalms, Kind David expressed, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

Isn’t that awesome?  You and I have been “knitted” together.  Every strand of DNA has been placed there; every cell has been created, specifically for you.  Think about it for a minute.  The color of your eyes, the color of your hair, how tall (or in my case short) you, all specifically made just for you.  Science has also proven this to be fact.  If you ask a biologist about DNA they can explain that DNA are programmed with a specific function.  Yes, even our DNA is programmed specifically!

God has created us and we should know that we have a specific purpose in His mind.  Proverbs 16:4 states “The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”(ESV)  Even the wicked are made for a purpose.  Everything and everyone has a purpose, a specific purpose.

You and I are made by our Creator with specifics in His mind.  You and I are created by His hands, using His mind for His purpose.  For many years, people thought God was a judge or king sitting on a throne waiting for someone to do wrong so he can zap them with a lightning bolt or flood.  How mislead we are if we think that way.  God is not waiting for someone to mess up.  He is waiting for someone to open the door of their heart.

In Revelation 3:20 we see Jesus saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  He wants to have a relationship with you and I.  He is not waiting for us to screw up, but He is waiting for us to open our hearts and lives to him.

Just like a manufacturer creates a copy machine to do specific jobs, so you and I were made for a specific purpose in God’s mind and heart.  No matter how we may feel, no matter how our lives may be jammed, we must realize and know that God loves us and wants us to be in a relationship with Him.  Once we accept this, we then react by wanting and desiring to do His will, His purpose in our lives.  Do you feel like your life is jammed?  Look to God and ask Him, what purpose does my life have in your Kingdom?  Then wait, He will answer and remove the jam.


The Measurement of Truth

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

“How do I know what someone is saying is true or false?”

If you have asked this to yourself, congratulations!  You are not alone.  I ask this question all the time, especially when reading philosophy or theology.  However, this question may mislead you to a false sense of security.  Why?  Because you and I are asking the wrong question.  The question we need to be asking is:

“What measurement tool (of truth) am I using to evaluate what is being said?”

Why is this question better than the previous one?  The first question is subjective, where the latter is objective.  The first question has no known measurement to evaluate the person’s views.  When we ask the first question, we are saying, “No matter what the truth is, do I feel good about what is being said?”  However, when we ask the second question we show our objectiveness by stating “Regardless of how I feel, is what the person saying measuring up to the known truth?”

In today’s society, we hear that “Truth is subjective”.  But is it?  Is truth really subjective?  Let me reason the term “truth” has definitive and objective motives.  The word ‘truth’ is defined:

“The state of being the case: FACT” – Merriam Webster Dictionary (1985)

So if ‘truth’ is fact, then one question remains, is it objective of subjective?  Let’s start by seeing what objectiveness means.  The word “objective” can be defined:

‘A system (of thinking, ideas….) where multiple independent experiences are used to confirm factual data.’

The above statement, regarding objectiveness, will lead us to this conclusion…If truth is objective, then we cannot have various multiple competing arguments.  If something is fact (as stated in the dictionary), then it is truth.  If it is truth, then it is fact.  Logic states that you cannot have two (2) competing facts for the same subject and both are truth.  Therefore, there is no room for multiple competing arguments.  So can truth be subjective?

The word ‘subjective’ can be defined:

‘A system (of thinking, ideas….) where multiple independent experiences are used to determine the appearance of factual data.’

This statement leads us to a very different conclusion.  If truth is subjective then multiple competing arguments not only count but can give the appearance of factual data.  The appearance?  Yes.  Scientifically we call that theory.  So if subjective truth is theory, then it has not been proven to be fact (truth).

Think of it this way, if truth is subjective, then what you think may be truth, and if I think the opposite, then is my truth still valid?  I think a couple of examples will help understanding this.

The earth is round.  Is this fact or fiction?  We know this today as fact, but there was a time, where people thought that the earth was flat.  Many cultures believed that once someone went over the horizon, they would die or get eaten by a monster.  Over time, scientists discovered various observances and determined the earth was round.  Today, when we look at photos from satellites, we clearly see the earth is factually round.  Early cultures first observed something and then made a determination.  This was subjective.  When scientists discovered factual data about the earth, the observances once thought to be truth were no longer truth.  The scientists of that time used factual data and then measured the experiences against the data.  They used an objective approach.

The same can be done today.  When we are talking with people or learning in school, we can take factual data and compare it to the observances or experiences of others to see if what they are saying is truth or not.

In order to do this, we need a measuring tool (factual data) and measure the experiences against the tool.  It’s like building a chair or table without a diagram and ruler.  If we start cutting wood and then nailing it together, we may end up with what looks like a chair, but you probably won’t be able to sit on it.  It may be wobbly or even be dangerous to sit on.  It is only when we use the diagram and ruler to measure, cut and nail everything to specification that the chair is useable.

So what is your tool?  Is your tool your experience or are you using factual data?  It is clear that ‘absolute truth’ can only be objective.  Before any of us state anything, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I using a factual tool to measure my experiences?’  Go and search out for real truth!

Quantity of Knowledge vs. Quality of Understanding

You’ve probably heard the old saying “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”.  Although this may be true, there is another idea that we tend to forget.  How much you know doesn’t matter, but the depth of understanding does.

Today, one of my co-workers, stopped me in the hallway and started to talk about what he believes regarding liberals, conservatives and religion.  At first, I didn’t want to have the conversation, however, it became interesting as it appeared that he was open to gaining knowledge and understanding.

He expressed one thought that has stuck with me all night.  He mentioned that he notices that evangelical Christians tend to know a lot of knowledge, but the depth of understanding was greatly lacking.  I tend to agree.

What he expressed is a problem with the current evangelical church and is reflected in our society.  First, today’s evangelical Christian can state the Bible stories like, David and Goliath or Moses and the Exodus, but few can take those stories and apply them to daily life.  In fact, most evangelical Christians that I have met, can only site the stories without showing that they truly understand the meaning of the story.

Most times, when I ask someone why they believe what they heard, the typical answer goes something like this, “Well if this teacher/preacher said it is true, it must be” or “Because that is what my parents taught me”.  Without demeaning any preacher/teacher it is true that they go through a rigorous learning period where they learn Greek and Hebrew while reading the Scriptures.  However, we hear many of those same preachers/teachers share what is clear fallacy when it comes to biblical principles.  We hear things like “you must have faith if you are to be healed” or “without faith (and your giving) you will never get beyond your bills”.  Both of these teachings are clearly false.  (I will get into these teachings in later blogs.)

What my co-worker expressed to me was “I don’t want to hear what you believe.  I already know that.  I want to know why you believe.”  It took a bit of time and not all was discussed, but I was able to clearly define why I believed in the Scriptures.  Why I believed that Jesus claimed to be God.  Why, by historical evidences, Jesus did exist and He was crucified for claiming to be God.

In the end, my co-worker admitted to me that he was not willing to believe the same as I do, but asked if I would be open to reading a book that helped him believe what he believes.  I told him yes.  Why?  If we, as Christians, do not show that we are willing to learn the mindset of others, then most likely, they will ignore what we say and tell others how we don’t live what we believe.

Most Christians are faced with this dilemma, however, we can show the world the love of Christ by simply taking time to study.  Although, we all need to study Scripture, we also need to take some time to learn about biblical history and what others teach, even if it is not what we believe.  If we take the time to do this, then when we come across conversations, as I had today, we will be able to clearly do what Peter stated to various churches including Galatia.  “But in your hearts set apart God as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect….” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

It is true that people don’t care what you know until they see you care, but is also true that people know what you believe, they just want to know why.  Study, pray and reason but do it with the gentleness and respect that Christ gave to those around Him.  When we do this, we will show the world Christ cares for them, more than they know.