Posts Tagged ‘Understanding’

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QUOTE (Dominique Pire)

February 10, 2016

800px-Georges_Pire_1958“Let us not speak of tolerance. This negative word implies grudging concessions by smug consciences. Rather, let us speak of mutual understanding and mutual respect.  There is perhaps no surer road to peace than the one that starts from little islands and oases of genuine kindness, islands and oases constantly growing in number and being continually joined together until eventually they ring the world.”
~ Dominique Pire

In honor of Dominique Georges Pire, a Belgian cleric and Noble Prize winner for helping refugees in post-world war II Europe, who was born on this day in 1910.

Resources:

Father Dominique Pire
Today in History

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LOSING KNOWLEDGE – Oct 14

October 14, 2014

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.” 1 Kings 4:29-30

What is the function of a conjunction?

Volumes surround me; books standing in perpetual attention upon my shelves, clothed in dusty neglect. Familiar titles call out to me:

Process Geomorphology
Organic Chemistry
Applied Numerical Methods
Differential Equations
Probability and Statistics
Corporate Finance
Cost Accounting

 

 

The intellect of generations and genius are contained within these tombs of knowledge. I once communed among their concepts. I excavated their principles and deciphered their puzzles. I cursed the forced regurgitation of their laws and theories, consumed in short bursts of intellectual gluttony. Yet, I proved to be competent as an educated man.

I have the diplomas to prove it.

However, each text has found a forsaken place on my office shelf; set aside in a head-long pursuit of a profession. Years have swept aside those inquisitive days of study.

Theory replaced by practice;
Integration and derivation yielding to empirical;
Schedule triumphing over intellectual indulgence.

These books have become more decoration than source. They are a reassurance to visitors that the diplomas and licenses that hang on my wall have a foundation. I have learned my profession through years of practice. Yet, I have lost something through the years. Specific knowledge has faded to general in many subjects; conceptual understanding has replaced hard achieved competence.

Knowledge is not perpetual…at least not in my mind.

I do not have the mind of Solomon but neither does anyone else. God gave Solomon a wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and a breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore. The limits of my wisdom and understanding are easily delineated in a game of “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader”, and the scarceness of my mind is more like the occasional sand dollar on the seashore than the sand.

The typical mind has a very limited capacity for the specific. Time erodes away a mind’s competence, when study is neglected, leaving a hollowed relic to the practical. The scores of educated adults who prove that they are not “smarter than a 5th grader” is testimony to our mind’s inability to retain knowledge absence the reinforcing power of study.

The surrender of the knowledge of a conjunction’s function may be a reasonable acquiescence to the pressures of a busy life.

What about the gospel?
Are you willing to surrender the knowledge of the gospel to the pressures of a busy life.

What is the function of the gospel?
Can you clearly present the gospel to someone who has no knowledge of it?

 The ability to clearly explain a principle is demonstration of competent, specific, knowledge of that principle. If you can only generally explain the gospel, it demonstrates a general knowledge.

We have been called to more.

God has revealed Himself through His Bible. We can know our Lord and Savior more and more through the study of His Word. This is why David delighted in God’s commandments and law. It is why David studied.

 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)

 How are you doing studying the Bible?
Are you demonstrating your delight in God by studying His great works?

We must remember the minds we have been created with. We must remember that every moment that we spend away from the Word of God, time is eroding the razor edge of specific knowledge down to a blunt instrument of a general understanding. We must not acquiescence our time in God’s Word to the pressures of a busy life. We must not forget His Word.

 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:16)

 

PRAYER: Father, thank you for your Word.  Thank you for speaking to us perfectly even though we are imperfect.  Thank you for giving us everything that we need to follow you today.  Help me to glorify you from the place where I am today. Forgive me for thinking I need a special word from you. Teach me obedience in the everyday. Help me to live upon the nurturiousment of your Word, the Bible.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

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“KNOWING GREATNESS WITHOUT SIGHT” – August 31

August 31, 2013

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”  2 Timothy 2:7

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington, USA.Mount Rainer garners the coveted acclaim of being the most prominent peak in the continental United States.  On clear days, the mountain dominates the Seattle horizon and can be seen as far away as Portland, Oregon.  Climbers come from around the world to ascend to its summit.  The fact that Mount Rainier became the fifth national park attests to the reality that it is a very special place.

I had the opportunity to visit Mount Rainer National Park last week as part of a business trip for the National Park Service.  I had never been to the mountain so I was very excited about getting to behold its grandeur up close.  As I began my seven hour drive across eastern Oregon and south-central Washington, I anticipated a continual procession toward the Cascade Mountain Range, anchored by Mount Rainer.  That was not the experience of my travels.  I drove through valleys and over hills that were crafted by the semi-arid climate caused by a mountain range in the west that I could not see.Mt. Rainier reflected in Reflection lake I thought that I would surely get a view of the mountain by the time I reached Yakima, Washington.  I was once again disappointed by a western horizon obscured by clouds and the obstruction of trees and lesser hills.   My ascent of Mount Rainer began shortly after leaving Yakima.  The highway clung to the edge of canyons and pierced through thick forests.

As I navigated the southern edge of the National Park, I precariously tried to stay in my driving lane as I leaned forward, craning my neck to peak across the car’s passenger window in hopes of catching a glimpse of this magnificent mountain that I knew to be there.  I observed beautiful lakes, canyons, waterfalls, and forests but I never got a glimpse of Mount Rainer.

445My meeting with the National Park Service was on the slopes adjacent to Paradise Inn.  This is the starting point for many of the climbers, intent upon summiting.  A slight drizzle welcomed my entrance to the National Park.  I thought that I would see the mountain around every bend in the road as I continued to climb in elevation.  However, the thick groves of Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar towered above me.  These 200 foot giants block all views of the horizon as effectively as any urban avenue, flanked by skyscrapers.  I knew there was a mountain that was not far from me.  In fact, I was driving across its base but I could not see it.

288I figured that I would at last behold the great summit from the parking lot of Paradise Inn.  The giant Douglas fir were below me and I was beyond all lesser mountains so there would be nothing between me and the mountain.  I immediately looked up as I stepped from my car.  I was greeted with raindrops upon my face and a magnificent view of clouds.

I never saw the summit of Mount Rainer.  I hiked across many of the trails on the mount’s base but never beheld what I knew to be there.  I had to rely upon my reasoning to determine that there was a great peak occupying my entire view but still hidden from my eyes.  The deer that I shared the slopes with had no concept that they were treading across greatness.  The grouse, whooing in the underbrush, had no ability to reason beyond all the obstructions and understand that he was on the edge of magnificence.

Man is the only creature who has the ability to think beyond the senses and understand that there is more in this world than what we can perceive.  It takes thinking to have an understanding beyond what five sensory inputs can tell us.

God created us with the special ability to think.  Just like I was in the presence of a great peak, we are all constantly in the presence of the greatness and magnificence of our Creator.  Yet, we rarely get to see more than a glimpse of Him.  We are blinded by obstructions.  We are distracted by the immediacy of life’s demands.  He is obscured by the haze of our flesh.

Thankfully, God did not leave us in condition where we could never know of him.  He gave us the ability to think.  It is through this gift of thinking that God works beyond our senses to give us understanding.  Paul was confident that when Timothy gave time to meditation and contemplation in reflection upon what he was taught that the Lord would grant him insight and knowledge into the wisdom of the scriptures.

Faith is not mindless.

The Spirit informs our contemplation to grant us understanding of what is all around us but hidden from our senses.  We often expect God to reveal himself to us without doing our part – thinking.  Just like Timothy, we need to think about what we are told in the scriptures, which means we must spend time in the scriptures; meditating upon them, praying through them, and studying them.

Let’s spend more time with the Spirit; thinking over the gift that we have been given through divine inspiration.  I am confident that we will be amazed at the understanding  given of the spiritual world that we are trekking through but rarely see.

PRAYER: Lord, teach me to think.  Bless the time that I take to think about the things of the Spirit.  Reveal yourself to me in my times of contemplation and meditation.  Forgive me for neglecting and undervaluing the time that I spend with my thoughts devoted to You.  I know that I don’t do it as often or a faithfully as I should.  I need your help, Father.  Help me to set my mind wholly upon you.  I want to know you more.  I want to understand all that I cannot see.  Thank you for not leaving me to my senses.  Thank you for giving me the understanding and wisdom that can come only from You. I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“CALLING WITHOUT KNOWING HOW” – July 16

July 17, 2013

“To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? … To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”  Isaiah 40:18, 25

Girl on a Cell Phone & Street Scene - Hoi An, ...

I am amazed by my cell phone. These ubiquitous mobile devices have become so common that few marvel any longer at what they do.

I can receive a telephone call while standing in the middle of the wilderness;
I can speak to my daughter as she speeds (as a passenger) along the interstate;
My wife can send me a shopping list as I walk into the grocery store;
I can see pictures from the other side of the world a few moments after they’re taken;
I can surf the internet while flying through the air (not that I have ever done that).

English: Cut-away cell phone

Cell phones really are phenomenal.  Yet, I don’t know how they work.  I understand that sound, images, and data are transformed into 1’s and 0’s and then transmitted via radio waves through the air.

There are an untold amount of unseen waves that are passing through us at this very moment.  We are surrounded by the waves containing the explanations of a people’s day.  We are awash in all sorts of unseen information every moment of our existence.  However, we would be oblivious to it all if it were not for our little devices that translate this unseen world.

Modern Cowboy, Talks on His Cell Phone

Modern Cowboy, Talks on His Cell Phone (Photo credit: Lance and Erin)

I am very thankful to the people who invented my cell phone and all the associated technology because I am not able to build a cell phone.  The technology is beyond me.  In fact, I accept their explanation of how my cell phone works.  I have taken physics classes and understand radio waves but I don’t have a clue of how to practically get sound to be transmitted in a way that can neither be seen nor heard.  I really have no personal evidence that my voice actually flies through the air on a wave after I speak into my phone.  I believe what I am told.

Biking and Talking on Cell Phone...

Biking and Talking on Cell Phone… (Photo credit: MyEyeSees)

In fact, I think that there are very few who know how a cell phone actually works but that has not stopped 6 billion of us from using them.  How many of these 6 billion people do you think have the knowledge to construct a cell phone and its appurtenances from scratch?  Probably, only a minuscule percentage has that sort of knowledge.  Yet, billions of people pick up their cell phones every day and make calls.  They will dial numbers into their mobile devices and expect the calls to go through.  They use their cell phone because they don’t have to know how it actually works. Consider the depths of God and how vastly more complicated are His works.  God transcends my understanding beyond any lack of knowledge about technology.  I might be able to figure out how to build a cell phone but I am incapable of figuring God out on my own.

How can I?

What are the implications of being beyond time?
How can He be in all places at the same time?
What is it like to hold all knowledge?
What does it take to create something out of nothing?
How can physical properties change with a spoken word?

All of those attributes of God are beyond my comprehension.  Therefore, I am incapable of figuring Him out.  The only way for me to know God is for Him to show Himself to me.

Many refuse to believe in anything that cannot be confirmed by science or their own eyes.  Often, they believe what they are told about how the world works yet they never confirm anything on their own.  They accept the explanations of those who know how the physical world works.

What about when the explanation of the workings lies beyond the understanding of this world?

How can we know how God’s world really works?  There is no one on this earth who knows that.  That knowledge can only come from God.  He has to show us.

Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?  Isaiah 40:13-14

Fortunately, God has revealed Himself to us through His Word.  He has not shown us everything.  I still have a lot of questions about how things actually work but apparently I don’t need those answers.  We have been given  what we need to come to Christ in faith.  Just like we don’t need to know how our cell phones work to use them, we don’t need to know all the answers to how God works.

We will never have all the answers. 

We must come to Christ realizing there is a level of understanding that is simply beyond our comprehension.  We still must make a decision to receive Jesus Christ as our personal savior and Lord.  We have been give sufficient knowledge for that decision.  Therefore, our first step is to give up on our own understanding and cry out to Him.  Call upon Christ without worrying about how that works.  He will answer.  He always does.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.  These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.  Isaiah 42:16

PRAYER: Lord, help me to accept that there are some things that I can’t understand.  Help to accept what you have given me to understand.  Lord, keep me in the Truth that You have given to us so that we may know You.  Give me discernment to recognize what is of You and what is a fabrication of our enemy and man.  Lord, keep me from straying from your Word.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“KEEPING THINGS RIGHT SIDE UP” – July 12

July 12, 2013

“You turn things upside down!  Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?  Isaiah 29:16

My Coffee Mug 002As I contemplate my morning Bible reading, my coffee cup has drawn my eye.  I have written of my love for my coffee cup before (Filled for Purpose).  We all understand that the value of this wonderful cup resides in its orientation.  Attempting to pour coffee in my cup when the bear is on his back will only result in a mess.  Coffee will cascade down its sides.  The entire exterior of the cup may become encapsulated by the overwhelming flow of coffee being poured upon it but nothing will get inside my cup if it is upside down.

Humanity has been unable to get beyond the error of turning things upside down.  People have been applying their flawed reasoning for centuries.  There is nothing new to this world.  In Isaiah’s time, people were denying that God was their creator.  Today, the atheist’s main premise in their attack against God emanates from the belief that God is not their creator.  They embrace the belief that their existence is the product of evolution.  They deny God by reasoning that they no longer need a god construct to explain our existence.  Evolution is merely a modern version of the belief of Isaiah’s day, “He did not make me”; clay regarding themselves as the potter.  It is upside down.

In Isaiah’s time, people were denying that God had understanding.  I do not know how they were doing that but I know how it is often done today.  The instructions of the Bible are often dismissed under the cultural context argument.  Many conclude that they are free to engage in what the Bible calls sin because they believe that the author did not understand our present cultural environment or the author did not understand what makes them happy; potter being regarded as the clay.  It is upside down.

Just like my coffee cup, a person will not be filled with the Spirit until they get the orientation of their hearts correct.  God created man.  God created me.  Since there is a creator God, then I am subject to Him.  I am the clay and He is the potter.  The potter has the right to form and use the clay as he wants.

God has complete understanding.  He understands what I am facing today.  He knew my current condition when He was inspiring Isaiah.  He has an understanding that is greater than my own.  I can trust His understanding of what is good for me.  His guidance is faithful and true.  I can trust that He knows what will make me happy.

There is nothing new under the sun.  Our enemy has used the same old tricks throughout the generations.  Therefore, let us not be naïve to these tricks because they are very effective in turning things upside down.  The saving grace of the gospel has washed over the exterior of many who have gotten turned upside down from these tricks.

The wonderful truth is that we have a Creator with complete understanding.  Troubled waters await those who play at flipping these truths about.

Let’s stay grounded on these truths so that the Spirit of our Lord flows into us and fills our hearts to overflowing.

PRAYER: Lord, remove the gloom and darkness of my eyes; give me eyes to see.  Father, enable my deafened eyes to hear the words of your Book.  Do not allow me to become confused into getting the things of You turned upside down.  Jesus, open the eyes and ears of the lost; may you reveal to them how upside down they have become.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“GIFT OF UNDERSTANDING” – Mar. 28

March 28, 2013

“Only, may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God.”  1 Chronicles 22:12

We would say of a man who drives his car 70 mph through a 25 mph school zone, “Does he not understand the danger he is posing to everyone?”

Of a mother who prepares her family’s meals seasoned with arsenic, we would ask, “Does she not realize that will kill her family?”

The young man who takes his inheritance to Vegas for one bet on the roulette wheel would cause us to shake our heads and question, “Does he not understand how irresponsible that is?”

We would say of the middle-aged man who, on national television, assaults a beautiful young woman, “He has lost his mind.”

Of the employee who berates, insults, and curses her employer in the company newsletter, we would ask, “Did she not realize what they would have to do?”

The couple who moves all of their neighbor’s belongings into their backyard would cause us to wonder in disbelief, “Do they not understand that we can see that they stole these possessions?”

Discretion is the ability to make responsible decisions. 

Discretion is a fundamental ability necessary for a society to function under the rule of law.  The rule of law has the assumption that people will understand the law and the consequences of not adhering to the law and choose the appropriate response.  However, the news is full of people whose arrest, prosecution and conviction demonstrates that they lacked discretion and understanding in the activities that they pursued.   Many folks bear the burden of ill consequences due to their lack of understanding and discretion.  Discretion and understanding are essential skills to function appropriately in the world of the physical.

Likewise, we need discretion and understanding to function appropriately in the world of the spiritual.  God gave us His law not to hurt us or punish us.  He gave us His law because He loves us and cares for us.  His law is for our own good.  However, there are many people who live as if the only consequences are associated with the tangible.  They don’t understand that they need a savior.  They lack discretion in their decisions because they don’t recognize that the law of God is over them.

Understanding our position under God’s law is a gift granted by God. presenting

When we understand that we face condemnation because of a life of indiscretion and that leads us to repentance – it is a gift.  It is the first act of God drawing his children to Himself.  No one will ever seek a savior until they understand their deep need for one.  It is indiscretion to think that God will be appeased, as long as the good works of our lives, out-weighs the bad.  That is not a responsible decision.  That is a decision that does not understand the holiness and righteousness of God.  That is a person who does not understand the law and the consequences of not adhering to the law because they are clearly not following the appropriate response that comes from understanding.

When Christ hung on the cross, He prayed for the Father to forgive those who crucified him because they did not know what they were doing.  They did what they did because they lacked understanding and discretion.

That lack of understanding continues on a daily basis.

I have read many articles written by atheists.  They tend to be some of the most mean-spirited, rude, and insulting articles in the blogosphere.  They reject the idea that there is a law from God that applies to them.  They make condescending jokes about those who believe such foolishness.

They are demonstrating a lack of understanding.  They are people of indiscretion.  They do not know what they are doing because they have not been granted the understanding and discretion of God’s law.  When God opens someone’s eyes to the consequences of His law, it leads to repentance because it is the only logical choice.  It is the only responsible decision.

This is why we should have compassion for the lost.  They do not understand what they are doing.  We need to pray David’s prayer for them, “Lord, grant them discretion and understanding, that they may keep the law of God.”  The only why for that to happen is to repent and accept the One who kept that law perfectly, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for showing me the condemnation that my indiscretion had earned.  Thank you for opening my eyes to my need for a savior.  Thank you for drawing me and saving me.  Thank you for continuing to reveal to me what it means to follow you in grateful obedience.  Lord, I pray for my friends and family who do not understand the true condition of their souls.  Father, grant them the understanding that they desperately need Christ as their savior.  That they must be born again.  Please draw them to yourself – to repentance and everlasting salvation.  Lord, adopt them into the family through the power of your Spirit.  They are stiff-necked just as I was and still have a tendency to be.  Soften their hearts to receive the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

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