Tag Archives: Book Excerpts

consists of quotations from more than one book author that add perspective or additional thought to the topic in the post

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

“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

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

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

Get Off the Treadmill ©

P.E.A.R.sPeriodic Encouragement And Reminders
Get Off the Treadmill ©
by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Last night, I was re-reading a book by Larry Julian (“God is My CEO”) on business planning and development. (Larry is a consultant who specializes in leadership development and has worked with both small and large companies, including: 3M, AT&T, and General Mills.)

In the introduction, Larry shared the following story:

I was recently asked to conduct a leadership program for a group of San Francisco sales executives.  As part of my preparation, the leader asked me to weave in a module on stress management.  During the program, I discovered that the entire group was on the brink of a collective nervous breakdown.  They were under relentless pressure to produce results.  All felt as if they were strapped to a treadmill whose speed kept increasing.

I wanted to help them find the root cause of their situation.  The group however, wanted me only to equip them with skills so I could help them run their treadmill faster and better.  In essence they wanted me to teach them how to go down the wrong path more efficiently.

The bottom-line had become their god.  It was insatiable.  No matter how hard they worked, it was never enough, nor could it ever be enough.  These executives were talented, intelligent, capable people who somewhere along the way, lost focus on what is truly meaningful and important.  They had become slaves to bottom-line pressure and, as a result, become professionally ineffective and personally burnt out.

* * * * *

I, for one, know it’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace and demands of life and feel the tug to seek out a quick-fix or some magic process that’s promised to produce more clients and more money.

There are, in fact, many organizations in the business and professional world that offer seminars and coaching programs each of which promise to teach systems and methods aimed at creating financial success.  Some are based on marketing techniques; some emphasize internal restructuring of the business or professional practice; some suggest personal testing for employees, and some recommend special customer or client interview processes.

Though each of them can serve as useful tools, they often become just another parallel target point (or as Larry Julian says, another god) used as a stepping stone toward what still remains their ultimate god – of bottom-line financial success.

These “solutions” don’t solve the underlying problem, however.  They may help us continue down the wrong path more efficiently, but…, it’s still with the wrong bottom-line focus on a treadmill that keeps right on turning.

The Bible, (as usual) sums it up best with these words: “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”  2 Peter 2:19b

Thus, whether it’s financial “success” and/or the systems and processes to pursue more of “it” at greater speed and “efficiency”, it will not remove our anxiety or stress if we stay enslaved to them as our gods.

Another good reminder is Psalms 46:10 – “Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God.”

Charles Stanley says in his book, “Success God’s Way”.

Friend, I wouldn’t swap places with anybody in the world who has money, notoriety, or power but doesn’t have God.  What he has won’t matter in the least five hundred years from now.

For I have never met a financially wealthy person who wasn’t a little fearful at the prospect of losing his wealth, or who didn’t desire to amass even more wealth [or to keep running on whatever treadmill he had placed himself] ‘just in case’.

[On the other hand] the God focused and spiritually mature person is freed from striving.  He lives in a state of steady confidence [off the treadmill] born of a relationship with God – while at the same time living in the hope of greater and greater things that God will unfold, reveal and bestow.”

Have a great week!

Bob Alderman

(and to my family, Love Dad)

original writing 4/13/04 – republished 2017/01/11

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 Magic of Stories ©

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

The Magic of Stories ©
By
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Do you remember when you were a kid how great it was to hear the words: Once upon a time…?

If you were like me, every experience that began with those words (or their equivalent)  immediately increased your adrenaline flow and brought your attention to a focus ten levels higher than it had been before you heard or read that wondrous, shorthand  pronouncement of “get-ready-something-great-is-going-to-be-shared”.

Why is it that for adults and children alike stories have such magic?

Some of the answer lies in the entertainment “packaging” which almost by definition is part of every story that’s ever been told.  (It’s somewhat like a present; meaning, the story form provides the same excitement created by bows and colorful wrapping paper covering a box with a gift inside.)

However, the real magic of the story process (like a beautifully wrapped present) comes from the value found inside.

Whatever the scientific explanation might be (and I’m sure there is one if we were interested in knowing it), just about every man, woman and child enjoys, learns more from and responds better to stories than they do to propositional instruction.

People will remember the model of your life in how you lived it, much longer than they will the glitter of your financial “successes” and accomplishments. Or, returning momentarily to the gift analogy, it’s the thought that matters.

I personally, however, like the way John Eldredge explains the reason for the effectiveness of the story process in his book, “Waking the Dead”: Propositions [straight statements of fact] speak to the mind, but when you tell a story, you speak to the heart.

A proposition is helpful for certain things.  Sacramento is the capitol of California; water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, your shoes are in the front room, under the sofa. But propositions fail when it comes to the weightier things in life.

While it is a fact that the Civil War was fought between the years 1861 and 1865 and that hundreds of thousands of men died, you don’t even begin to grasp the reality of the Civil War until you hear the stories.

This is even much more so the case when it comes to the truth of the Bible.  God loves you; you matter to Him.  That is a fact, stated as a proposition.  Why then, aren’t Christians the happiest people on earth?  It hasn’t reached all their hearts.  Facts stay lodged in the mind only – they don’t speak at the level we need to hear, which is the heart.

When you hear or read the greatest story ever told, the Bible, the message is shared in some instances as propositions.  However, in far greater frequency, its truths are presented as stories and parables.  I don’t think anyone would ever doubt that God knew what He was doing when He presented His instructions for living an abundant life in story book form more so than as a text book.

True stories, of course, as used by God in the Bible are always of greater impact and value in the long run than are fictional tales.  Also, the greatest stories of all time in the sense of how they capture our attention and move our hearts, share virtually the same plot.

Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy fights for girl, boy wins girl back – is perhaps the most moving story line of all.  The second most compelling to us (founded not really on a different plot, but only a variation of the first), involves covert battles in which an inconspicuous hero begins a rebellion and then fights a war to overcome injustice, transform a wrongful condition and restore his people to their rightful glory.  Sometimes the story line is about an individual person and his or her struggles, yet the elements and steps are the same.

Think for a moment about some of your favorite stories.  For children they might include Beauty and Beast, Cinderella or The Chronicles of Narnia.  Teens and young adults may gravitate to Star Wars, The Matrix, or The Lord of the Rings.  Perhaps for the older generation it would be Titanic, Braveheart, Gladiator, Cutting Edge, Hoosiers, etc.

Using the titles you might put on your own list of favorite stories, see if you can identify the theme, the message, the moral, the hope and the triumph running through them that grabs your heart and moves your inner most feelings of rightness.

You know why that is and where it comes from?  God.

In our very being, spirit, soul and heart, God has planted in us the inherent knowledge that we once enjoyed a closeness with Him; have fallen away from that rightful position; are in a war to recover our glory as children of His family and image, and that a covert battle occurring on our behalf and to which we are invited to join, is being lead by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Transformation, rescue and restoration with hard fought victories when the focus is consistent with God and His holiness are found in the theme of virtually every story in the Bible – and more importantly, in the overall message and offer of the Bible from beginning to end.

* * * * *
Why are we enchanted by tales of transformation?, asks John Eldredge in his book.  Why is it the essential part of any great story?  Because it is the secret of Christianity, and Christianity is the secret to the universe.

He then shares several lines from Cinderella where the prince, after searching all through the kingdom for the maiden whose foot would fit the glass slipper, finds her and  overcomes the resistance of the evil stepsisters (representing the devil) who had tried to keep them apart:

And Cinderella had to be called and then went and bowed before the King’s son, who gave her the glass slipper.  Then she seated on a stool, drew her foot out of the heavy wooden shoe, and put it into the slipper, which fit like a glove.  And when she looked up and the King’s son looked at her face, he recognized the beautiful maiden who had danced with him and he cried, “This is my true bride!” He then took Cinderella on his horse and rode away with her.

As in Titanic – when all the glory of that wondrous ship was gradually restored at the end of the movie in the majestic ballroom within its steel hull at the bottom of the ocean and the young maiden all in white walks down the stairway to resume the joy of life in spirit that had been lost with the iceberg sinking – God’s story and offer in the Bible is even greater.

May you read His Book with all its chapters, adventures, propositions and teachings – not just for the magic of its stories, but as the Greatest Story Ever Told and receive into your heart His offer to restore your glory in Christ forever.

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

Bob Alderman

Orig. publication 5/13/05 – Updated 1/3/17

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

THANK YOU!