How To Be Happier Than A Cow ©

P.E.A.R.s  Periodic Encouragement And Reminders

How To Be Happier Than A Cow ©

by Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

If you were to describe your ideal of a “happy” life, what would your description contain – and what would it exclude?

Would it be all leisure and no work?  Would it be endless days of sunshine swinging in a hammock under a big oak tree?

Is your concept of happiness related more to “great cheese comes from California cows” TV commercials or with the concept of “busy beavers” in the forest?

Finally, do you think Jesus was happy when He was on this earth?

Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” is how Christ described His life in Matthew 8:20.  In doing so, He inferred that people who follow Him will find themselves in a similar situation as to worldly comforts.  Yet, in John 10:10, He says: I came that they (people who follow Me) may have life and have it abundantly.

How can the paradox of having nowhere to lay your head be reconciled with a life of abundance?

And how does Christ’s statement in Matthew 19:21 “If you wish to be complete, go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come follow Me”  relate to happiness?

In the comic strip “Peanuts”, Charlie Brown once said, “I don’t expect to be happy; I just don’t want to be unhappy.”

Will you settle for what Charlie Brown hopes for OR you want the life of abundance Christ came to provide and offers?

John W. Gardner in his book “Excellence” says:

We fall into the error of thinking that happiness necessarily involves ease, diversion and tranquility – a state in which all of one’s wishes are satisfied.  [However] for most people, happiness is not to be found in this vegetative state, but in striving toward meaningful goals.  The dedicated person has not achieved all his goals.  His life is an endless pursuit of goals, some of them unattainable.  He may never have time to surround himself with luxuries.  He may often be tense, worried, fatigued.  He has little of the leisure one associates with the storybook conception of happiness.  But…he has found a more meaningful happiness.

“One of the great mysteries of the Christian life is that we can be very content and at the same time press forward toward more goals that the Lord has laid upon our hearts to achieve and accomplish.  Our relationship with Christ allows us to be content in all situations and at the same time desire to change our situation” says Charles Stanley in “Success God’s Way”.

Comfort, peace, tranquility, or someplace to lay your head may sound like happiness when viewed from the human perspective and teachings of this world.  But they often become distractions and misguided direction away from a more meaningful happiness and the true abundant life offered by Christ.

When the young man [with whom Jesus was speaking in Matt 9:21] heard what Christ said [that to become complete he would have to release all that he owned], he went away grieving for he was one who owned much property.

Thus, he failed to find the fullness of life he knew in his soul he needed, because his perspective and values as to where and how happiness is found were wrong.

Bruce Wilkinson in “The Dream Giver” explains it this way:

One day I realized that my desire for comfort was the enemy of my Dream, and that ultimately my desire for comfort was rooted in my selfishness.  Unfortunately, many people in all walks of life end up making personal comfort their Dream.  But, it is a false dream, because comfort turns into a prison.  A true Dreamer is a person whose life is in motion.  If they’re not encountering a comfort zone issue regularly, something is wrong.

* * * * *
Returning to John W. Gardner and the statement on happiness from his book “Excellence”, he concludes with this statement:

The truth is that happiness in the sense of total gratification is not a state to which man can aspire [on this earth].  Maybe for cows and possibly for the birds it might exist, but not for us.”

Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life.  [Matt 19:29]

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love.  These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be iyou and that your joy may be made full. [John 15:10 -11]

The happy cows from California may look like they have “the life of Riley” and are rolling in clover, but for me personally (and I hope for you as well), the green pastures, quiet waters, restoration of my soul and the goodness that will follow all the days of my life from dwelling in the house of God (Psalm 23) is the true definition of happiness and abundance.

Have a great week!  (And to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

Orig publication: 5/3/05 – modified and posted TruthPursuit101: 3/24/17

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com, www.TruthPursuit101.com

Quit Pushing the Car! – Post Script©

P.E.A.R.sPeriodic Encouragement And Reminders
Quit Pushing the Car! – Post Script©
by Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

There is so much encouragement to be found in the testimonies and lives of others who have gone before us that I think the best post script to “Quit Pushing the Car!”© and Major Thomas’s personal learning experience of that truth is to share the stories of two other authors I have enjoyed over the years of how they struggled but eventually reached that same point of blessed living:

Charles Stanley from – “Living the Extraordinary Life:”

Before the concept of abiding in Christ became a reality for me, I already had been a pastor for eight years.  I’d been to college and seminary, and I thought that the full Christian life meant preaching, studying the Bible, witnessing to people, serving people, and so forth.  After eight years, however, I knew there had to be more.

I was spiritually stuck at a dead-end road.  At that time, I was preaching from the book of Galatians, and when I came to the fifth chapter, I became genuinely concerned.  I thought to myself, “In two more Sundays, I’m going to preach on the fruit of the Spirit, and God will show me there isn’t a lot of peace, love, joy, and goodness in my life.”

I remember thinking that I felt a lot more spiritual on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday was a different story.  I knew something was missing and my heart was troubled.

In near despair, I prayed, “God, either there is more to the Christian life than I have ever known, or I have to stop telling people who You are.  How can I keep preaching if the Christian life is just a set of standards to believe in if there is no real victory?  I can’t keep going on like this.”

I had fallen victim to the trap of fretting, rushing, and striving.  I was working overtime trying to please God and finally came to a point of burnout.

God used the testimony of Hudson Taylor to minister to me.  He was a missionary to China who had also came to a point of spiritual weariness until God changed his life with Galatians 2:20 – which says: “I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (NIV)

From that, John 15 became a reality to Hudson Taylor and through my reading of his story, it became a reality to me also: “Abide in Me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing”.

Charles Swindoll in – “The Mystery of God’s Will”

In the summer of 1961, my life changed.  I was already a Christian.  In fact, I was between my second and third year in seminary, deeply entrenched in theological studies.

One of my major battles in trying to come to terms with certain truths was the sovereignty of God. When you reach that point, you can no longer leave issues like that in the “unsettled” realm. [However], candidly, the doctrine of sovereignty frightened me.

On a practical level, I was grappling [at the same time] with several issues in my own life that seemed to relate.  My wife and I were uncertain about our future.  We had been married for six years, and while our marriage was not weak, it wasn’t as strong as it needed to be.  And she was carrying our first child, causing both of us to feel somewhat anxious about being parents.

All of this as well as other issues were troubling me.  So that summer I decided I really wanted to dig into a book of the Bible, ideally one with a dozen chapters or so to coincide with the twelve weeks we had away from school.  I chose the book of Daniel.

I was in the fourth chapter of Daniel when I came upon the truth that transformed my thinking, in fact, changed my life. Daniel 4:24-28:  [the revelation by Daniel of the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as to the sovereignty of all things lying with God and not the King – and because Nebuchadnezzar did not acknowledge and accept that, he was literally put out to pasture to graze like a cow until God’s sovereignty was acknowledged and accepted by him.]

[In those verses, God said to Nebuchadnezzar]: “you will be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven…until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes…[yet] your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.

A chill still runs up my spine when I read those words and reflect back on that summer morning.  I remember, as if it were yesterday, taking a pencil from my desk and underscoring two lines that were almost identical.  In verse 25, “until you recognize” and verse 26: “after you recognize”.

I sat and stared at that passage of Scripture for who knows how long.  My heart beat faster, and I broke out in a sweat as I struggled with what I had read.  Finally, I told the Lord that I would give up the fight and acquiesce to His plan [for my life rather than trying to make it on my own.]  I invited Him to take sovereign charge of my life.  I gave Him my marriage.  I gave Him my wife.  I gave Him the birth of our firstborn.  In fact, I surrendered my entire future to Him. And I finished the time on my knees weeping in wonder and with a sense of relief.  From then on it would be “God and God alone.”

* * * * *
This message, this truth, this reality is the very foundation needed by every Christian to live the life of fullness and purpose intended by God for them after they receive Christ as their Savior and Lord.  The former has to do with life after death and the latter has to do with life now!

As fortunate as we are to have encouragements and reminders like this from Major Thomas, Charles Stanley, Charles Swindoll and many other authors, we need to remember that the message they share is from the ultimate Author and Perfecter of our lives.  Even the reason for others before us (or contemporaneously with us) to share in written form their experiences is found in the Bible itself:

“These things happened to them (referring to the nation of Israel) as examples and were written down as warnings to us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand under it.”  (1 Cor 10:11-13) NIV

In Hebrews chapter 11 alone (sometimes referred to as the Halls of Faith), we are given example after example of people who through their acknowledgement, faith and acceptance of God as the sovereign force in their lives were used in mighty ways by God.

Charles Stanley and Charles Swindoll summarize their awesome discovery of letting God be sovereign in their lives (essentially, to “Quit Pushing the Car!”) with these words:

I discovered that it was not my responsibility to strive for anything.  My part was to submit my life to God and allow Him to live His life through me. – Charles Stanley

I believe that not until we embrace God’s sovereignty will we have the ability to reason our way through life theologically.  Until then, we will be too important in the plan.  Man’s opinion will be too significant to us.  And we will churn and wrestle and struggle our way through our Christian lives trying too hard to please people rather than living it relieved and relaxed in God’s plan. – Charles Swindoll

Have a great week!  (and to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

Orig writing 12/20/06 – blog posting 03/16/17

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

Quit Pushing the Car!©

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminder©

Quit Pushing the Car!©

by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Most likely, everyone who reads this article is familiar with the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt; its wanderings in the wilderness for forty years and eventually its entry into Canaan as the land of milk and honey promised to that nation by God.  It’s a great story, isn’t it?

There’s more to it, however, than just a story.

It’s one of God’s teaching metaphors about every Christian’s journey from captivity in sin (living under the devil’s control); the rescue by Christ’s death on the cross; and the sanctification process of moving our carnal nature of self-reliance into the promised land of paradise allowing Christ to live through us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

If you’ve been of the opinion that your acceptance of Christ as your Savior gives you an entry ticket to God’s Kingdom when you die, but gives no immediate empowerment here on earth, this P.E.A.R.™ is going to be both an “I-can’t-wait-to-implement-this” discovery as well as a “why-did-I-waste-so-many-years-in-the-wilderness?” experience.  At least it has been for me.

What opened my eyes on this was a book I actually read for the first time nearly twenty years ago.  However, at that first reading, I didn’t grasp the substance of what the author was saying even though some of what he said was helpful to me.

Its life changing message from the Bible didn’t reach my heart until I “happened” to come across the book again during my move to Arizona in October 2006 when I decided to read it for a second time.  It was from that second reading that the meaning of dwelling in Christ and having Christ dwell in me (as reflected in this P.E.A.R.™ title “Quit Pushing the Car!”) was both clarified and simplified for me.

Although I have had a peripheral understanding of that transformation blessing offered by God and have even experienced short periods of living in that mode, I hadn’t truly grasped the extent of that blessing or the importance of letting Christ work through me in every aspect of life.

My hope is that through this P.E.A.R.™, you will be encouraged to change from striving to live for Christ to instead allowing Him to live through you – if you have not yet attained the wonders and fulfillment of doing so – or perhaps to at least seek out the book and read it for yourself.

The book is by W. Ian Thomas titled “The Saving Life of Christ”.

Unfortunately, until the book is read, the title actually draws our attention away from the message it teaches rather than providing initial insight to what it contains.  At least it did for me as my tendency was to equate the saving nature of Christ’s life to the thirty-three years He spent on earth in human form and then to the death of that life on the cross and subsequent resurrection to open the way for yours and my eternal salvation.  However…the life of Christ that Major Thomas addresses is not of salvation alone but of the immediate fullness and strength of life we are capable of living on earth after our acceptance of Christ if only we would learn to let Christ’s life in the Person of the Holy Spirit live through us!

Here is how he describes his own discovery of this reality:

At the age of twelve I received Christ as my Savior and by fifteen I decided I was meant to devote my life to His service.  I began to preach in the public; was engaged actively in Sunday school work and was aiming to become a missionary to Africa. And in my early years of university studies, I became a leader in an intervarsity group and I even started a club on the east end of London with the focused purpose of saving souls.

However, by the age of nineteen, I had reached a point of complete exhaustion spiritually and felt there was no point of going on.  Thus, one night in November that year, right around midnight, I got down on my knees before God and wept in sheer despair.  I said, “Oh, God, I know that I am saved.  I love Jesus Christ.  I am convinced that I have been adopted as a child of Yours.  And with all my heart I have wanted to serve You.  I have tried my utter most to do so, but am a hopeless failure!”

In response, God focused me upon the Bible message of “the Christ Who is our Life” and made it as clear to me as if He was actually speaking these words:  “Ian, for seven  years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.”

What Major Thomas discovered, and thereafter began to live – resulting in true glory for God as well as true joy for his own life – (and what finally got through my own stubborn nature as well) is that we are not intended to live for God and His glory on our own power, but to instead ignite and allow His power to work through us for that purpose.  That’s why we are instilled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation and acceptance of Christ as our Savior and Lord.

The problem is that many Christians, as have I, (and as did Major Thomas for seven exhausting years) insist on trying to use our own strength to serve and glorify God rather than letting the Holy Spirit do that work through us.

There are two great analogies given in the book to illustrate this:

The engine in a car: How stupid would it be to buy a car with a powerful engine under the hood, and then to spend the rest of your days pushing it around town!?  Thwarted and exhausted, you would wish to discard it as a useless thing.  Yet to some of you who are Christians, this may be God’s word in your heart.  When He redeemed you through the precious blood of His Son, he placed, in the language of this illustration, a powerful engine under your hood – nothing less than the resurrected life of God the Son, made over to you in the person of God the Holy Spirit.  So, stop pushing!  Open the door, step in, turn on the ignition and step on the gas pedal to that divine energy that is available to us to overcome every hill of circumstance, every opportunity, every temptation and every perplexity of life.

A glove without a hand inside: I may say to a glove, “Glove, pick up this Bible,” and yet somehow, the glove cannot do it.  It has a thumb and fingers, the shape and form of a hand, and yet it is unable to do the thing I command it to do.  You may say, “Well, of course not.  You never told the glove how!”  But I may preach to and instruct that glove until my patience is exhausted, but the glove, try as it might, still cannot pick up the Bible.  Yet I have a glove at home that has picked up my Bible dozens of times! – but never once before I put my hand into it!  As soon, however, as my hand goes into that glove, the glove becomes as strong as my hand.  Everything possible to my hand becomes possible to that glove – but only in measure to which the glove is prepared simply to clothe the activity of my hand.

That is what it is to have Christ, by His Spirit, dwelling within our redeemed humanity.  We are the glove and Christ is the hand.  Everything that is possible to Him becomes possible to us.

* * * * *
“Quit pushing the car!” is the message every Christian has to hear and learn to live before we can experience the joy and power of Christ dwelling within us or to truly live a life that glorifies God.

Oh, sure, we can escape eternal captivity to the devil by accepting Christ as our Savior – much like Israel escaped captivity in Egypt.  But, we will never enter the promised land of fulfillment in this world and will not have lives that glorify God if after our salvation we continue to rely on our perceived individual wisdom and strength rather than permitting Christ to be Lord of our lives and to completely live through us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Such is the mistake Israel made thereby finding itself exhausted and wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  Even Moses failed to physically experience the promised life of Canaan in this world, because he choose to rely on his own efforts rather than following God’s instructions – meant to glorify God and not Moses.

In other words, getting out of captivity is great, but…it’s also God’s intention and offer for us to have a life in Canaan on earth with Christ as Lord rather than a life of wandering lost and exhausted in the wilderness when we accept Christ as Savior only!

Get out AND get in is the message of Major Thomas in “The Saving Life of Christ”.

Both progressions require complete reliance on God.  The first is provided in the death of Christ on the cross and the second is provided in the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit.  This is reflected, respectively, in God’s parting of the Red Sea bringing death to the Egyptian army as Israel’s captors, and then in God’s parting of the River Jordan for entry into the promised as representation of Israel’s return to reliance on God’s strength rather than it’s own.

I will come back to this important subject again, as I have found the same exhortation over and over again in many of my readings.  It is probably the most important reality for every person who wants to live a blessed and joyful life in the bosom of God to not only observe and understand, but to also apply.  As one author has said, “Observation and interpretation without application is abortion.” (Howard Hendricks in “Living by the Book”)

Major Thomas sums it up this way:

There is nothing quite so pathetic as a Christian who has been vested with all the fullness of God through Christ, and to whom has been made available all the illimitable resources of Heaven, yet who in ignorance, or in defiance of this fact, scratches out a mere existence using the meager resources which he brings with him out of the Egypt of his unbelief, with no sense of direction or finality of purpose – for he will not take what God has given.  He as gotten out, but he has not yet gotten in.

He has received the Holy Spirit and all the fullness of Christ, yet ignores Christ’s indwelling within him and struggles to live the Christian life as though Christ was not there.  He begs and pleads for all that God has already given him, but which he will not take.

The truth of this is applicable to you and me in our lives, just as it was to Israel.

A car provides very little value or benefit if it has no engine – which, metaphorically, is what we are if we are living without Christ as our Savior.  Thus, the first step to a fulfilled and abundant life is to admit our sinful, empty nature and receive Christ as the only power that can save us.

Once we do that (or, if you already have), don’t settle any longer for a life of pulling and pushing your car aimlessly in the wilderness.  Don’t just get out of the restricted, empty life of captivity as a car with no engine, but also get in to living the kind of life that Christ as your engine gives you the power to live.

In other words, “Quit pushing the car!”

Your life is not going to cover much ground operating under your own power and will never truly provide any glory for God in that mode of operation.  The Holy Spirit is dwelling under your hood; turn on the ignition; step on the gas and go!  Let God’s power work through you to live a life in Canaan as God intended you to live!

Have a great week!  (and to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

Orig writing 12/05/06 – modified 8/31/08 – blog posting 03/01/17

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

More Than Claritin Clear – a vision reality check©

P.E.A.R.sPeriodic Encouragement And Reminders

 More than Claritin Clear – a vision reality check©

by

Robert E. Alderman,Jr.

I know you’ve probably seen the commercials on TV – where a clouded and out of focus covering is pulled back to reveal an improved picture of life with high contrast and bright objects.

“There’s clear and then there’s Claritin clear” – is the verbal message that accompanies the visual presentation.

The idea conveyed is that irritants and allergies can affect our senses causing us to feel miserable and not to see or live clearly.  But we’re told with the right product we can enjoy life the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

Every time you see this commercial in the future or others like it such as Visine’s “It gets the red out” and those promoting contact lens cleaning solutions, I encourage you to relate them in your mind to a similar but greater truth regarding clarity of our senses found in the Bible at Matthew 6:22-23:

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (NAS)

What Christ was teaching to those around Him when He made that statement (and is teaching you and me today through the Bible) is that our spiritual vision and senses are more important than physical sight.

The commentary to these verses in my applications study Bible expresses it this way:

“Spiritual vision is our capacity to see clearly what God wants us to do and to see the world from His point of view.  But this spiritual insight can be easily clouded.  Self-serving desires, interests and goals block that vision.  Serving God is the best way to restore it.  A ‘clear’ eye is one that is fixed on God.

The difference between the two (having our “eye” fixed on this world rather than on God) is the difference between darkness and light; it’s the difference between deception and reality.

Additional teaching on this truth is found in “The Divine Conspiracy – rediscovering our hidden life in God” by Dallas Willard:

“The person who treasures what lies within the Kingdom sees everything in its true worth and relationship.  The person who treasures what is ‘on earth’, by contrast, sees everything from a perspective that distorts it and systematically misleads in practice.  The relative importance of things is, in particular, misperceived.

Thus, if your eyes are bad, your body as a whole is in the dark.  If the eye of your soul, ‘the light within you, is not functioning, then you are in the dark about everything.  You are simply lost.  You don’t know where you are or where you are going.  This is what it means to be a ‘lost soul’, a dead soul.

So, how do we find this light – in order that we can lift the veil of darkness and begin to see clearly to fill our hearts with reality?

The answer is the same as it would be for learning and gaining knowledge of any topic of importance or of growing closer to someone such as a teacher who has the ability to tutor and lead us – we study the manual and we spend time with the teacher.  In this instance, it means reading the Bible (perhaps with support from others) and spending prayer time with God.

In other words it takes some effort on our part as it’s not going to happen by osmosis!

People who are best able to recognize God’s Will and direction in life (to see His Light and walk in it) are those who know His Word best.  As God said Himself, “You will find me [and the light of reality I provide] when you seek me with all of your heart.”  (Jer. 29:13)

* * * * *
The allergy commercial by Claritin can tell us, “There’s clear and then there’s Claritin clear” regarding the physical condition of our senses.  However, absolute clarity – clarity that means the difference between light and darkness in our soul – is found only through Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

Such provide a great deal more than Claritin clear!

Have a great week!  (and to my family, Love Dad)

Bob Alderman

P.S.  There are many wonderful ways to develop individual Bible studies and prayer time with God.  It’s also important to have the support and encouragement of a small group or of an individual study partner.

If there’s anything I can do to help you move forward on these activities (perhaps recommend a Bible translation to use, or even establish individual time together – by phone or email if we are geographically separated), please let me know as it would be my privilege to help if I can.

2/23/17 reprint from orig publication of 2/14/05

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

Content, But Never Satisfied©

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders

Content, But Never Satisfied ©

by

Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Many readers I’m sure have some familiarity with the Apostle Paul’s declaration of contentment in Philippians 4:11 as well as his similar teachings for peace that surpasses understanding.  What is frequently overlooked, however, and seldom expressed as serious exhortations or admonishments in Bible studies and/or from the pulpit is the underlying foundation or side companion by which the contentment and peace of Jesus Christ is “learned” (as Paul says in 4:11) and then continually expanded.

The foundation and constant companion for such is: dissatisfaction – i.e. a state of never being satisfied or becoming passive in one’s desire to gain more and more and more of God once we have tasted and experienced the wonders of His presence in our lives!

The Apostle Paul, of course, repeatedly exhorts us to that kind of mindset and passion in virtually every one of his letters.  (Philippians 3:8 is one example immediately at hand if you already opened a Bible when you began to read this P.E.A.R.)

John 17:3 is the “cherry on the icing” statement for knowing God…eternal life through an intimate, abundant, joyful, fulfilling and wondrous, indwelling, all consuming relationship with the three Persons of Almighty God that is beyond description in any human language.

Here are a few excerpts from several authors pertinent to the plight and privilege given to Christians of being “content, but never satisfied” during their life on earth after receiving Christ as their Savior and Lord:

“Disciples are made not born” by Walter Henrichsen

The disciple himself is not one who has arrived.  On the contrary, he is a learner, a pilgrim, one who is on a quest to make his life all that God would have it be.

We fall into the error of thinking that happiness necessarily involves ease, diversion, tranquility – a state in which one’s wishes are satisfied.  For most people, happiness is not found in this vegetative state, but in striving toward meaningful goals…He may often be tense, worried or fatigued…But he has found a more meaningful happiness.  (Quoting John W. Gardner from “Excellence”)

“The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson

I tell motivated Dreamers [those who are pursuing God’s plan and purpose for them] that if they are not encountering a Comfort Zone issue regularly, something is wrong…Maybe they need to check their pulse!

“Changed into His Image” by Jim Berg

“Of late God has been pleased to keep my soul hungry almost continually, so that I have been filled with a kind of pleasing pain.  When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of Him are more insatiable and my thirstings after holiness are more unquenchable.”  [Quoting David Brainerd)

“How people change” by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp

God calls you to be dissatisfied.  You should be discontent, restless, and hungry!  The Christian life is a state of thankful discontent or joyful dissatisfaction.  Why? …Because when I look at myself honestly, I have to admit that I am not all I can be in Christ.  I am thankful for the many things in my life that would not be there without His grace, but I will not settle for a partial inheritance!

In this sense, it is right for me to be discontent.  It is right for me to want nothing less than all that is mine in Christ.  He does not want us to enjoy only a small portion of the riches He has given us.  He calls us to wrestle, meditate, watch, examine, fight, run, persevere, confess, resist, submit, follow, and pray until we have been transformed into His likeness.

Have a great week! (and to my family, Love Dad)

Bob Alderman

Orig. Publication 11/18/10 – 1st blog posting 2/15/17

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

“The Truth War” – Book Review

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders

“The Truth War” – Book Review ©
by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

The Truth War addresses the constant battle in our minds between true or false, right or wrong, good or evil, our way or God’s way, and God or Satan.  It’s a war that has been raging openly and subtly since the Garden of Eden in churches and every realm of secular life.

A concise statement of the substance of this war is found in the book’s subtitle: FIGHTING for CERTAINTY in an AGE of DECEPTION.

The author is John MacArthur – host of Grace to You radio, senior pastor/teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, a frequent guest on both secular and Christian talk shows, a speaker at national and international conferences and summits (including the annual Shepherds’ Conference he oversees at Grace Community Church for thousands of pastors who attend from all over the world) and author of more than fifty books – including a Study Bible and Commentary.  This particular book was published in 2007.

What I personally like about John MacArthur’s books and other teaching is he never engages in euphemisms; is clear on what he is trying to share and always provides substantive support for his position.  In The Truth War, he does not deviate from that approach.

In the introduction and first chapter, he lays a brief, historical back-drop to this war and summary descriptions of the three primary, present day combatants against the Christian faith – which are:

Modernity: primarily the belief that truth is a phenomenon defined by science and human reason as the final arbiter without supernatural basis.  Such is the secular religion/faith upon which Darwinism, Humanism, Marxism, etc. and theological liberalism are based.

Postmodernism: somewhat of a one-eighty turn away from modernity in the sense that its basic position is that absolute truth in any form is an impossibility – meaning it does not exist at all or at least cannot be known by the human mind.  Thus, its faith system claims nothing is true, false, good, bad, right, wrong or subject to certainty in and of itself, but rather everyone is entitled to his or her own determination of truth according to their individual feelings.

The Emerging Church movement: is the “religious” application of postmodernism in that it asserts truth, at best, is a hazy and uncertain concept, with the additional caveat that the inability to know truth in any form is equally applicable against knowing even somethings absolutely as it is to knowing everything completely.

All three, the author points out, are simply the most recent atheist, agnostic, false prophet and apostate attempts to discredit the existence of an eternal, completely sovereign, divine Being as the creator and overseer of all that exists and occurs.

Although not in The Truth War itself, the following statement by C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity is a quick peek at what is ultimately the central issue in this war:

God designed the human machine [and all of creation] to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. [John 6:53-58] There is no other.  That is why it is just no good [seeking] to make ourselves happy in our own way.  [There is no] happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there.  There is no such thing.

The need for advocates who understand that application is the bottom line discussion in The Truth War.  In other words, ambassadors to carry forward the reality of God as the ultimate source of all Truth and soldiers to defend against those who attack that Truth are urgently needed. Too many Christians have already been deceived and taken captive to the point of being apathetic toward and/or unprepared to engage in this battle.

The springboard exhortation of the book (or re-exhortation) is Jude 3-4 with an emphasis on this statement:

I felt I had to write [a sense of compulsion] and urge you to contend for the faith that was once and for all-entrusted to the saints.

This, John explains, was and is a battle cry – an unequivocal Paul Revere the-British-are coming-the-British-are-coming kind of warning and call to action as a life and death issue.

If I had more space than is available in a blog, I would share similar warnings expressed by  many other godly authors – including the consequences if we jointly or individually ignore it.  However, this one from John Piper in Don’t Waste Your Life will need to suffice for now:

The phase [wartime mentality] tells me there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief…that the stakes of this conflict are higher than any other war in history; they are eternal and infinite; heaven or hell; eternal joy or eternal torment.  I need to hear this message again and again [else] I drift into a false, peace-time mindset

John MacArthur’s admonishments in The Truth War with respect to our churches, politics, social culture, business and family are similar as illustrated in these excerpts:

The Bible sets forth two, and only two ways: God’s way, and all others…people are said to be saved or lost…belong to God’s people or the world…there is the narrow way and the wide way…truth and falsehood, good and bad; light and darkness. [Quoting Jay Adams on what he terms the principle of antithesis]

There is no third option between true and false – [with that fantasy option being described in the field of logic as the “excluded middle”].

[This war] has happened in every major era of church history…we cannot afford to be apathetic about the truth…[and] the reality of the battle raging all around us.

...reality is created and truth is defined by God...[and]...what is true is true for everyone regardless of anyone’s personal perspective and individual preference…it’s the way things really are...[and]…is what is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God.

There is nothing passive, peaceful or easy about it.  Jude’s exhortation [is] to wage a mighty battle.

Unfortunately, the visible church today is filled with people who have decided that biblical discernment and divinely reveled truth…are warn-out relics…They are weary of the battle for truth, and in effect have already unilaterally ceased resistance...[and] often seem more distressed about believers who think the Truth War is still worth fighting about.

Lest we think this book and its message have only abstract or academic application in our lives,  the following words written in it ten years ago are directly pertinent to the current rioting related to Donald Trump’s election as President; the overall decay of our country in recent decades, and the increased violence throughout the world against Christianity.

I see a close analogy [says MacArthur referring to his discussion of the postmodern spiritual war] in the political situation that dominates the secular Western world today.  The West loves openness, tolerance, freedom, and acceptance.  That is understandable on a certain level, of course.

But, abandon moral values, throw a few lawless terrorists in the mix, and the situation changes.  Terrorists don’t yield to any law.  They hide by simply mixing into a free society, pretending to be other than they really are, taking advantage of society’s openness in order to gain access to places where they can attack the very foundations of society that grants them such freedom.

Western society, by and large, [however] does not have the will or the inclination to construct boundaries for its own self-defense.  Years after the terror war supposedly got serious, America’s borders are still basically open to all comers.

Much of European society still opposes the idea of any military response to the terrorist threat.  Postmodern values and political correctness rule out profiling, monitoring the conversations of suspicious people, targeting illegal residents, and other means that would help identify who the terrorists are.

Analysts in the media perform all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to avoid saying that the roots of terrorism have anything to do with a particular culture or religion.

[Remember, this was written ten years ago with the situation being even worse today because the writing that has long been on the walls of history, reality and in God’s Word have been ignored by the titled leaders of America and elsewhere around the world .]

* * * *

In closing this book review, I say simply this:

Of all the books I’ve read, studied and considered on the subject of Truth (of which many will be reviewed in this blog, time and God willing), The Truth War by John MacArthur is the best, single overview of this battle and its eventual consequences – if the warnings and call to action are not heeded.

Thus, if you are looking for just one book that addresses the ultimate issue in this war and gives a sufficient overview of its history and the basic substance of the attacks against all-encompassing, divine Truth – this is the book I recommend you read.

Have a great week!
Bob Alderman (and to my family: Love Dad!)

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

We are to be Actively-Passive©

To go with God, we have to leave our hammocks.

P.E.A.R.sPeriodic Encouragement And Reminders
We are to be Actively-Passive©
by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

(After reading this post, please take the sequence challenge in the P.S.)

The subject I want to address this week is not exactly heavy on my heart, but it does involve an issue with which I seem to have a constant struggle.  Basically, it comes down to this: how much of my growth and walk with God depends on me and how much depends on Him?

Perhaps you’re facing the same quandary.  If so, I hope the thinking-out-loud I am about to engage in will give you some thoughts to consider as you try to find God’s purpose and fulfillment in your own life.

It’s quite clear from the Bible that our salvation and adoption into God’s family, through which we will inherit the glorious riches of His eternal kingdom, are gifts of grace from Him and not something we can earn on our own.  Nevertheless, we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  [Philippians 2:12]  The next verse reads: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:13]

We also find: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things which you do not know.”  [Jeremiah 33:3]  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” [Jeremiah 29:13]  “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  [Hebrews 11:6]

When Charles Swindoll in his book “The Mystery of God’s Will” briefly mentions Philippians 2:12, he says, “…, be discerning, think it through, use your head, pay attention, get serious about your Christian walk.”  What he means is that even after we believe in Christ and are saved by His grace, there’s still more for us to understand; more growth for us to achieve, and more service and purpose for us to fulfill in God’s plan here on earth.

Are we left to struggle with this on our own?  Absolutely not!  For we will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon us. [Acts 1:8]  “I will ask the Father”, said Jesus, “and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world [those who reject Christ] can not receive because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” [John 14:18]

Still, there is initiative for us to take.  If we want to learn great and mighty things, we must “call” on God.  To find Him [to learn from Him and grow in Him], we have to “seek” Him diligently and seriously “with all of our hearts”.  And…we have to have faith that He is the great I AM, Almighty God with the desire, ability and irrevocable commitment to provide the rewards He has promised.

Dallas Willard in “The Divine Conspiracy – rediscovering our hidden life in God” puts it this way:

When we receive God’s gift of life by relying on Christ, we find that God comes to act with us.  However unlikely it may seem from our current viewpoint, God equipped us for the task by framing our nature to function in a conscious, personal relationship of interactive responsibility with him.  If we are faithful to him, we learn his cooperative faithfulness to us in turn.  When we submit what we are to God and where we are to God, our rule or dominion then increases.  He constantly invites us into an ever larger share in what he is doing.

Where the problem with this paradox often exists is that we sit like a lump of coal waiting for God to provide the flame and also stoke the fire.  He will provide everything we need to fulfill our part of the partnership (there is no doubt about that), but He does not force it on us.

Does this mean we are to step out on our own and then wait for Him to catch-up and provide us with what we want?  No, it doesn’t mean that either.  Confusing, isn’t it?

Doing the will of God is rarely easy and uncomplicated.  Instead, it is often difficult and convoluted.  Or, back to my preferred term, it is mysterious.  Yet, God’s will is not passive, it isn’t a matter of just lying back and waiting for him to move us from Plan A to Plan B. (Charles Swindoll, ibid.)

Many of the authors I’ve read speak to this dilemma.  “God is not going to help you set goals and then be uncommitted to and uninvolved in their attainment.  The Holy Spirit has been imported to you to give you a built-in divine ability to help you succeed.” (“Success God’s Way” by Charles Stanley)

Also, J.I. Packer in “Knowing God”:

Even with right ideas and guidance in general, however, it is still easy to go wrong.  The Spirit can be quenched, and we can all too easily behave in a way which stops this guidance from getting through.  Moreover, it does not follow that right guidance will be vindicated as such by a trouble-free course thereafter.

Here is another cause of deep perplexity for Christian people.  They have sought guidance and believe it has been given.  They have set off along the road which God seemed to indicate.  And now, as a direct result, they have run into a crop of new problems which otherwise would not have arisen – isolation, criticism, abandonment by their friends, practical frustrations of all sorts.

Trouble, however, is not necessarily a sign of being off-track at all.  [Twice, Jesus’ disciples were caught by night in bad weather on the Sea of Galilee and both times, the reason they were there was the command of Jesus himself.]

* * * * *
The thing to remember about all of this is that we are never going to be privy to the entire travel itinerary.  God will definitely light our way, but it generally will be only enough light to take the next step or two – not to map out the entire trip and all the detours to be encountered during the journey.

Where the phrase “actively-passive” fits into the process can, to a certain extent, be simply stated as this: God is not generally inclined to do for us that which we can do for ourselves.

The process will certainly require effort, faith, diligence, perseverance, and sometimes struggle on our part but, in a “actively-passive” form – meaning the results and benefits remain under God’s control. When good works are begun in us, God will be faithful to complete them.  [Philippians 1:6]

My final thoughts come from Charles Stanley, “Success God’s Way” and one of my favorite Bible verses on this subject:

God never asks any of us to sit down and wait idly for Him to vault us into success.  He asks us to trust and obey Him day by day, day in and day out, by doing the things He entrusted us to do.  He asks us to learn the lessons that He set before us – some of which may be painful, some of which may be difficult, and many of which may seem unimportant.  Often we cannot see that God is building a strong pattern of experience, skill, trustworthiness, honesty, integrity, and character into us, so that when the time comes for us to be in a position of authority or influence, we will be ready.

2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” – Hmmmm, sounds to me like partnering in an actively-passive way with God!

Have a great week!  (and to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

P.S. Sequence challenge: Every time I review or share this subject, I wonder which of the two  elements (activity or passivity) should be stated first in the title. E.g.: Actively-Passive or  Passively-Active.  Although the distinction doesn’t make any real difference since in either order the prompter and the doer is the Holy Spirit, I am still curious to know in what order each reader would express those elements. Thus, please share with me in the comment box at the end of this page how you approach them – and why.  Thank you.

Original Publication 101205 – revised 2017.01.31

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

The Difference – Between Secular and Biblical ADR©

P.E.A.R.sPeriodic Encouragement And Reminders

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SECULAR AND BIBLICAL ADR ©
by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.,

It’s been my experience that only a small percentage of the general public, church leaders or even attorneys and judges are familiar with Christian Conciliation (i.e. Biblical ADR) as a more comprehensive and productive option to secular Alternative Dispute Resolutions in place of civil litigation.

Depending on the nature of their jobs and social or religious relationships, some people do have a basic sense of the ADR concept – for saving time and expense when conflicts or disputes arise between individuals, companies, etc., – but seldom have any extensive understanding of the intricacies, nuances and benefits that are possible within the secular process AND virtually no knowledge at all regarding the biblical approach.

Although secular and biblical ADR both utilize private negotiations, mediations and arbitration in lieu of civil litigation (though not with the same structure or focus) to resolve disputes and conflicts involving monetary recovery, contract performance, real estate matters, landlord/tenant obligations, trust and will validity issues, inheritance entitlements and marriage discord, the biblical approach incorporates the relationship issues as well to produce a more comprehensive and positive final result.

Thus, ultimately, the difference between Secular ADR and Biblical ADRAC can be summarized accurately (though over simplified) with the conjunctive word “and”.

Biblical ADARC pursues resolution and conciliation; addresses material and relationalship issues; creates immediate and long term solutions; focuses on the centrality of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit; provides glory to God and abundant life to the participants.  All of which Secular ADR does not and cannot offer.

It’s a: what’s-impossible-for-man-is-possible-with-God difference. (Matt 19:26, Mk 10:27 and Lk 18:27)

Although the setting of those verses is a young, rich man asking Christ what he must do to enter heaven, Peter’s subsequent inquiry and Christ’s response encompass the broader subject of our values and priorities in life.  This includes our tendency to focus on and place our trust in the limited capabilities of men to accomplish a task rather than in God who has no limitations whatsoever.

(NOTE: The fact that this teaching is found in all three synoptic Gospels signifies the breadth and importance of what it conveys.)

In the realm of conflicts and struggles, this means we usually find ourselves defaulting to Secular ADR – and when we do that, we are declaring a willingness to accept less in the way of complete resolution even though Biblical ADRAC with its far greater reach and production is available in every situation.

The following statements succinctly capture the difference between secular and Christ-oriented approaches:

I don’t expect to be happy, I just don’t want to be unhappy – Charlie Brown Peanuts

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that God finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.- C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

Ugh!  Being willing to settle for less, when much more is possible.

Unfortunately, less is all that Secular ADR can provide.  It can give relief, but not joy or personal fulfillment. It can produce an end to hostilities (at least for a while), but cannot cure the underlying cause. And, because the problem source has not been eliminated, somewhere, sometime, somehow and with someone, that volcano is going to erupt again.

Biblical ADRAC on the other hand, never accepts the mere end of current hostilities between parties as real peace.

In fact, the hostilities factor is a secondary target ultimately dependent on achieving the higher priority of identifying and replacing the root cause of the conflict.  Only when the root cause has been identified, removed and replaced will a foundation exist capable of supporting real peace for the parties in their present situation as well as all future interactions they may have between themselves and/or with third parties.

True resolution of conflict must always be built on the two step process of: getting out and getting in; taking off and putting on; removing the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh.

The analogy I like to use is home construction. (Matt 7:24-27) Lay the right foundation; construct the walls and ultimately put the crowing roof of success in place.  (A process that syncs or parallels: justify, sanctify, glorify.)

(For some additional, Scriptural teaching on the benefits and consequences of choosing to act with rather than apart from God, see John 15:5, Matthew 7:21-23, John 14:27, Philippians 4:7, Mark 8:36, 1 Corinthians 3:11-13)

* * * * *

Bringing this article to its end, I want to emphasize that Secular ADR is not a bad thing. (In fact, for many years as an attorney I provided secular mediation and arbitration services to the Los Angeles Court system, the California Bar association and in my private law practice.)

BUT, secular ADR is incomplete.  And because it is incomplete, the source cause of the conflict continues to exist.  And as long as the source is not identified, removed and replaced, true and final resolution cannot be achieved.

Lyrics from Sunday School song Sandyland that my kinds used to sign sum it up well:

Don’t build your house on the sandy-land; don’t build it too near the shore.
Well, it might look kind of nice, but you’ll have to build it twice;
Oh, you’ll have to build your house once more.

God’s blessings AND peace to you,

Bob Alderman  (and always to my family: Love, Dad)

PERMISSION is given to reproduce any of my articles, “P.E.A.R.s”™ or Blogs in any format – provided they are not altered in any way including retention of the author “by” line and © in the title; no cost is charged to the recipients beyond the cost of reproduction, if any; not more than fifty hardcopies are reproduced without my further written permission; AND “Reproduced with the express permission of Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  On the Rock Conflict Conciliations – all rights reserved” is provided at the end.

Testing Auto Fb Posting

 

Good morning, everyone!

I have been trying to get the kinks worked out of a plugin for my  Bob’s P.E.A.R.s blog-site that is supposed to automatically place each new article I write to my Facebook page as soon as the article is published.

However, because of my ignorance with the workings of social media and much of the jargon within that world, my efforts with this plugin have so far been unsuccessful.

God willing, perhaps it will work with this “test posting”.  If it does, please excuse the intrusion of this somewhat nonsensical message into your day.

Of course, if you don’t receive it, you can disregard the preceding explanation entirely – as well as this line.

How’s that for legal reasoning?

Bob Alderman (and to my family, Love, Dad)

The Wisdom of the Old Woodchopper © – Prov. 3:5-6

P.E.A.R.s  Periodic Encouragement And Reminders
The Wisdom of the Old Woodchopper ©
– Proverbs 3:5-6 –
by:
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Having the patience to wait for God’s timing and the benefits He intends for my life is not one of my strong points – even though I can remember situation after situation in which positive results rose from what I initially thought were disasters.

Thus, I constantly have to remind myself: Be cool, Bob. God’s in charge and He knows what He’s doing.

My favorite Bible verses in which proper perspective, correct practice and final providence are laid out in simple to understand one-two-three-four order are Proverbs 3:5-6.  The best teaching of this truth, however, is shared by Max Lucado in a story about an old woodchopper and a wild stallion I found in one of his books many years ago.

This is that story:

*** Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village.  Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse.  Even the king coveted his treasure.  A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused.  “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them.  “It is a person.  How could you sell a person?  He is a friend, not a possession.  How could you sell a friend?”  The man was poor and the temptation was great.  But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable.  All the village came to see him.  “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse.  We warned you that you would be robbed.  You are so poor.  How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal?  It would have been better to have sold him.  You could have gotten whatever price you wanted.  No amount would have been too high.  Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly.  Say only that the horse is not in the stable.  That is all we know; the rest is judgment.  If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know?  How can you judge?

The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools!  We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed.  The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.

The old man spoke again.  “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone.  The rest I don’t know.  Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.  All we can see is a fragment.  Who can say what will come next?

The people of the village laughed.  They thought that the man was crazy.  They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money.  But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it.  He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty.  No, he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned.  He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.  Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him.  Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke.  “Old man, you were right and we were wrong.  What we thought was a curse was a blessing.  Please forgive us.”

The man responded, “Once again, you go too far.  Say only that the horse is back.  State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge.  How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment.  Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge?  You read only one page of a book.  Can you judge the whole book?  You read only one word of a phrase.  Can you understand the entire phrase?”

Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word.  All you have is a fragment!  Don’t say that this is a blessing.  No one knows.  I am content with what I know.  I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another.  So they said little.  But down deep, they knew he was wrong.  They knew it was a blessing.  Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse.  With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son.  The young man began to break the wild horses.  After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs.  Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

You were right,” they said.  “You proved you were right.  The dozen horses were not a blessing.  They were a curse.  Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you.  Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man spoke again.  “You people are obsessed with judging.  Don’t go so far.  Say only that my son broke his legs.  Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse?  No one knows.  We only have a fragment.  Life comes in fragments.

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country.  All the young men of the village were required to join the army.  Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured.  Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken.  There was little chance that they would return.  The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle.  They would never see their sons again.

You were right, old man,” they wept.  “God knows you were right.  This proves it.  Your son’s accident was a blessing.  His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you.  Our sons are gone forever.

The old man spoke again.  “It is impossible to talk with you.  You always draw conclusions.  No one knows.  Say only this:  Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not.  No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse.  No one is wise enough to know.  Only God knows.

* * * * *
The old man was right.  We only have a fragment.  Life’s mishaps and challenges are only a page out of a grand book.  We must be slow about drawing conclusions.  We must reserve judgment on life’s storms until we know the whole story.

I don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience.  Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee.  For it was the Carpenter who said it best:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (See all of Matt 6:25-34)

He should know.  He is the Author of our story.  He has already written the final chapter. And, therein lies our hope and the reason we can and should live the way of the Old Chopper’s wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Have a great week!

Bob Alderman – (and to my family, Love Dad)

Original publication 4/19/2004 – modified 1/17/2017

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