Tag Archives: Exhortations

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

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

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