"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Monday, August 26, 2013

JOB’s Serpentine Truths

imageAfter reading over half-way through the Book of Job—I want to pronounce it Jäb, as  in Bob—I’ve found three surprises: First, much of Job’s friends’ prattling is true, even if wrongly applied to the poor guy. Second, at times, even the godly revert to self-pity when the going gets really, extremely, bone-crushingly rough. And related to #2, God is gracious even to those who accuse him wrongly. Third, the whole book is the perfect text on how not to “minister” to one who is in dire straits.

The whole story clearly reveals the fact that profound truths, when tossed about carelessly, quickly become truisms, destined to be just as carelessly tossed aside. History reveals a few Bible preachers who, by God’s Holy Spirit, led great revivals, and yes, they were technically Bible-thumpers. Experience, however, reveals far more Bible-thumping preachers who wield God’s Word not as the two-edged sword that it is, but as a spirit-bashing bludgeon.

God’s Word directs us to be personally inoffensive(1 Corinthians 10:32), but to allow  his gospel to do the offending(1 Peter 2:8).

Friday, August 09, 2013

Appearances Are Deceiving

A woman walked past my volunteer post at the hospital holding papers up in a way that hid her face. Without a second thought, I wondered why she was hiding her identity, and my mind began producing possible scenarios that would explain the suspicious behavior. As she turned to exit, though, I noticed a small mobile phone held to her ear. An action that appeared intended to conceal nefarious purposes was, in fact, an effort to multitask with her left hand.

That trivial example of misjudging appearances illustrates my tendency to jump to conclusions. But if I were the only one who made such leaps of assumption this world would be a far better place. I think the limb upon which I stand is strong enough for me to state one generalization: All of us make judgments based on partial or wrong information. And my justification for climbing out on that limb? Only God knows a person's inner thoughts and motivations. Those of us who presume upon such insight are, perhaps without realizing it, trying to usurp God's unique authority.

I think I've established beyond reasonable doubt that much of what we think we know about others and their actions is partially or wholly untrue. So, where do we get that bogus info? Much of it stems from appearances that suggest stereotypes we've accepted as true throughout much of our lives.

Maybe a stocky, blond kid bullied you in school, so now you don't like stocky, blond people. Put a stocky, blond person next to you at work and everything the guy does rubs you the wrong way. Or you've moved, and you're visiting churches to see if you can find a good fit. To your dismay, you discover that the stocky, blond person over there smiling and shaking hands with people is the pastor. Your reaction? "Oh man! And I thought these folks were so nice ... must be a cult."

While most folks harbor unintentional or rationalized prejudices, there are Those among us for Whom personal error is inconceivable. Anyone who disagrees with Them, or in any way fails to live up to Their God-given standard of perfection can't be tolerated.

Don't you just hate people like that? If you agree, stand up and hang your head in shame; you've just judged those who seem self-righteous. And whose job is it to judge? That's right.


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