All Posts in Category: (01) The Manual of Life

Faith and facts

Abraham went on hoping in faith, relying on the promise of God that he would become “the father of many nations”.  With undaunted faith he looked at the facts: his own impotence and his Sarah’s barrenness. Yet he refused to allow any distrust of God to make him waver. He drew strength from his faith, absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise.  Romans 4:18-21

Many suppose that belief is contrary to reason, that to believe one must bury one’s head in the sand; you know, blind faith. After all, faith and facts don’t mix. Well, the story of Abraham and Sarah indicates otherwise (cf. Mechanics of Life). Note the words—“he looked at the facts.” The Greek word means: 1) to consider from the bottom to the top; 2) to concentrate by fixing one’s thinking; 3) to perceive clearly; and 4) to understand fully and closely. So, at least in the Manual faith looks facts squarely in the eyes; BUT ….

Consider the Law of Gravity, simplified. There’s a force that draws objects to the center of the earth … unless another object of equal or greater force intervenes to inhibit the downward thrust. If you throw a ball in the air, it will drop to the earth unless you catch it in your hands. Your hands act as a greater force than the downward thrust of gravity. Similarly, faith confronts facts with greater potency, rendering the facts weak, comparatively speaking.

These were the indisputable facts: Abraham was impotent and Sarah was barren. According to the laws of physiology the odds of having a child were ABSOLUTELY ZERO! “Yet Abraham drew strength from his faith, absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise.” When Old Abe was confronted by the downward thrust of the facts (impotence and barrenness), he injected the promise of Father that “he would become the father of many nations.” The power of faith trumps the laws of nature (review Peter’s water-walking.) Please don’t think this vulgar or crude—it’s reality according to the Manual!—Abraham’s insertion of faith produced physical insertions for twenty five years!

As is often the case, if the facts of your life are exceedingly downward, please consider: “Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope!” (John Piper)

Perspective on work

In America there’s no better time than to talk about work than around Labor Day.

A word of caution—as with all aspects of God’s creation we now experience work as flawed: “Because you ate from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from, you’ll be working in pain all your life long” (Genesis 3:17). Consequently, it’s imperative that we anchor our perspective upon the solid ground of Father’s original intention. So, here are the Basics about work located on the first pages of the Manual!

First, God is a worker: “God finished the work He was doing, so on the seventh day He rested from His work.” With the exception of one day off per week God has never stopped working His original plan. Jesus said, “My Father has never stopped working, and that is why I keep on working.” Furthermore, God’s not afraid to work with His hands: “One day God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.”

Second, “reflecting God’s nature,” man was designedphysically, mentally, emotionally and spirituallyto be a worker. “I have filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God—I have given him the skill and knowledge to do all kinds of things.  He is a very good designer. And he can make things from gold, silver, and bronze. He can cut and set beautiful jewels. And he can work with wood. He can do all kinds of work” (Exodus 31:3-5). “Man, made in God’s image, should make things as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing” (Dorothy Sayers). “God calls upon man to collaborate with Him in the great adventure of work” (Paul Tournier).

Third, work produces a fulfilled spirit: “God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good!” Work brought satisfaction, pleasure and joy to the Maker’s heart! So it is to be for us. “So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are gifts from God” (Solomon). “Work is a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God” (Dorothy Sayers). “Being productive gives people a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that loafing never can” (Zig Ziglar).

Troubleshooting

My wife’s sewing machine Instruction Booklet has a Troubleshooting section: condition, cause, reference page. For example, “the needle thread breaks.” Six possible causes along with reference pages are listed. The manufacturer assumes two facts: minor glitches may happen and the consumer can be guided to and through a solution.

Here’s a classic troubleshooting section of the Bible: “If we admit our sins, He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” Notice—our Father assumes that we’ll screw up. “The Lord is as kind to His followers as a father is to his children. He knows we are made of dust.”[1] Case in point: Peter. In the Upper Room Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with You. I’d go to jail for You. I’d die for You!” However, in the Courtyard a few hours later he crumbled: “I don’t even know the Man!”

If we admit our sins….” The first step in problem solving is identifying and admitting the problem. Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous is: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol…” If the problem is objective, acknowledgment is rather easy. However, it’s a different story if the malfunction is personal. Did you ever watch a young child in the throes of owning a failure? It can be rather humorous.

“He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” The Screw-Up in Luke 15 experienced this firsthand. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned ….’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. We’re going to celebrate!’”

Warranty

For years I have shopped at a national tool store that promises a 90 day unrestricted warranty on every product. They’ve always delivered on their promise!

The Bible contains a warranty that includes over 3000 promises (check out the Mechanics of Life). I want to examine the first and most important promise in the Manual (cf. Genesis 3).

You’ve probably seen a TV commercial that ends with the line: “But wait! There’s MORE!” That’s the hook “the ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan” used on Eve. The fruit of the forbidden tree held the MORE! “When the Woman realized what she would get out of it, she ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband.  At that moment they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”[1] Immediately Life was damaged causing dis-ease and death. What would the Manufacturer do?

With compassion Father entered the Garden with a warranty. He promised to free His kids from the shackles of Satan. “God spoke to Satan. ‘I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound His heel.’” The Old Testament is a prelude to the Big Battle: “But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born of a woman so that He could buy freedom for the slaves of Satan.” “At the Cross Jesus was wounded for our rebellious acts …”[2] At the Cross the Serpent’s head was crushed: “The battle was won over Satan and his minions through Christ.”

So, “If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?[3] That’s an UNCONDITIONAL WARRANTY!

Warning!

Here’s a challenge: page through some of your Owner’s Manuals associated with energized products. Everyone will contain warnings about the product. Furthermore, you will discover that the quantity and strength of the warnings is proportional to the danger in using the product. The cover of my chain saw manual reads: “WARNING: Read and follow all Safety Rules and Operating Instructions before using this product. Failure to do so can result in serious injury!” In 21 pages the word “WARNING appears 30 times. While the chain saw is an exceedingly beneficial tool for cutting trees, it’s also extremely dangerous! Yes, I know from experience!

So, the Bible contains many warnings about humans! Here’s an example: “A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, and send the whole world up in smoke. This is scary! With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in His image!

Who is more qualified to speak about the power of a product, both for good and ill, than the inventor? On September 27, 1905, Albert Einstein published what would become the world’s most famous equation: E = mc2. At the time he alone understood the power of the atom. So, not surprisingly he issued this warning: “When men are engaged in war and conquest the tools of science become as dangerous as a razor in the hands of a child.”

So, our Creator warns: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”