Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 22 May 2019

always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  2 Timothy 3:7 (NIV).

Are you a fan of college or are you a fan of high school graduates learning a trade?   I have three college degrees:   an associate’s in Intelligence Collection, a bachelors in Business Management, and a master’s in Adult Education.   If it weren’t for student loan debt, they wouldn’t be worth much.   Even years ago when I went, many professors were politically polarized.

And if you think about it, politics is pretty small.   It doesn’t mean much in the eternal, long run.   Can you tell me what most of the popular issues were in ancient Sumeria?   Or Babylon, Persia, Greece, or Rome?   We don’t even know most of the local politicians back then, or even most of the high-ranking advisors in those empires.   More and more, even though I spend much time talking about politics and political matters, this talk is wasted time.   It’s like I’m always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the real truth.

What about those professors and that collegiate education?  The most common critique I hear about college education is that, other than trade-related colleges (such as medical school and law school), most college degrees today don’t prepare people for critical thinking.   They no longer provide people with deep education on matters of common history, logic skills, or non-specialized topics.   We pay thousands of dollars for higher degrees that are fairly useless in a workforce driven by detailed skills, both white and blue collar.   Yet that topic is a third rail, an off-limits critique of academia intellectual decline.   Its like the people who run colleges are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

That’s because faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of all truth.  His truth that we are to love God and love our neighbor, that apart from Him we can do nothing, IS truth.   He, the I AM, IS, is truth, is reason.   Nearly all the great philosophers before the 20th century were religions (even those of antiquity).   And those between 1600 and the late 1800s were nearly universally Christian.  Only in the knowledge of God can we begin to truly learn things that are most necessary to succeed, especially in the hereafter.

As we age, we yearn for truth; as we age, we also don’t stop learning.  Brooks & Dunn sang about truth in believing, singing “I’m finding more and more truth in the words written in red.”   They were talking about the words of Christ.  There is much to learn in our world; thank God for that.   Thank God, most of all, that we can best learn the meaning of it by first learning the meaning of Jesus and His teachings.

For further reading: Mark 12:28-31, John 15:5, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Timothy 3:8.

Lord, You are the only real truth.   Forgive me when I’ve forgotten that.   Help me to remember it more today.

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Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 4 March 2019

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV).

No doubt, Paul is talking here about material wealth.   He says as much just a few words into the verse, then throughout it.  May I submit there’s more that makes us arrogant?

Politics make us arrogant.   “Our hope” is a wide path to hell, if we let it be.  Our differences of opinion put a wide gulf in-between us, so wide the perhaps only civil war can bring it together.   Yet before we go to such a drastic end, let’s consider that our politics – left, right, and indecisive – stem from where we put our hope.   If we put our hope in ourselves, we’re arrogant.   Nothing can stop us because, well, us!

Knowledge makes us arrogant.   This one is a stretch (from the verse) yet, if you think about it, is inherent to the verse.   We can’t put our hope into something of which we know nothing.   To put our hope in money means knowing what the accumulation of wealth can do.   It’s the knowing, not the ‘thing,’ that makes us arrogant.   The farther back you stretch it, the more you see that knowledge is at the heart of idolatry, of knowing (or think we are knowing) the difference between one thing and another.   Or right and wrong.  Take it to its academic extreme and knowledge breeds human arrogance.

The in-crowd makes us arrogant.   Got the perfect house; got the perfect school for the kids; got the cool car; got the new clothes.   The suburbanites have this in common with the urban hipsters:   they’re part of the in-crowd who have “it,” whatever “it” is.  If you don’t, well, God bless you but you just aren’t part of our party.

Ever met an arrogant preacher?   You’re a sinner who hasn’t been educated at a seminary, given knowledge that members in your church haven’t received.   Years ago, I belonged to churches where that was the case, where the pastors were arrogant and condescending.   One used to say he was just the son of a pig farmer, and he then usually expounded on seminary talking points to drown out whoever was challenging him.   Not very loving.  My friend, if I ever come off to you that way, please bring me up short.

What’s the common denominator in all this?   You know.   It’s you.   Or me.   The man (or woman) in the mirror who forgets that wealth, politics, knowledge, status and religion are fleeting.  They aren’t God, and there’s nothing any one of them – or us – can do to provide the JOY of the soul (in “enjoyment”) that God does.   Everything else isn’t God; everything else is arrogant.

For further reading:   Psalm 62:10, Jeremiah 49:4, Luke 12:20-21, Acts 14:17, 1 Timothy 6:13-21.

Beautiful God, only You are God.   Bless You.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 17 March 2017

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.  Hebrews 9, verse 13.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves and assume that, because we live in a modern world, we are intellectually superior to people from the past.  After all, if you lived in 1917, you lived in the most modern time ever known to man.   Ditto 1817, 1717, 1617 and all the way back in time.  The time in which you live now is the culmination of all the technology and learning that took place before you.   Some day, if we live long enough, we’ll see that, indeed, that time will become the culmination of all the technology and learning before it.  The timeline of man mostly shows gradually increasing mastery of knowledge and technology over time.   Yes, that includes the massive losses of knowledge and technology that came with the declines of the ancient Egyptian and Mayan cultures as well as the descent into the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.  Generally speaking, as time goes on, our knowledge increases along with our ability to capitalize on that knowledge by improving our technology to accompany it.   We may not know how the Great Pyramid was stacked together (or why) but we have split the atom, cured polio, and sent humanity’s knowledge far beyond the edge of our solar system and all that in just the last 80 years.   We’re pretty darn modern!

So how come so many people in our world haven’t gotten beyond the ancient concept of animal sacrifice?   It was superseded at Calvary by a one-time-only human sacrifice of the only divine being ever born here.   The idea of sacrificing animals to atone for man’s sins seems primitive.   Don’t the Jews get it?   No, they don’t sacrifice bulls, sheep or doves anymore either, though there is a serious movement abroad to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and resume animal sacrifice after a 2000 year hiatus.   Don’t they understand that isn’t necessary anymore?  Don’t the Muslims understand that their religion is pagan and primitive even if it doesn’t require animal sacrifice?

Don’t they indeed.   And don’t you or I get ‘the big head’ about our faith, assuming we are better than people who don’t follow Jesus.  We aren’t.   God sees through us and our self-righteousness.   And He sees that all of us, blood or ashes or none, are outwardly unclean.   Sure, we can clean up pretty but that stink on the outside only sinks deeper through the skin.  It’s what comes out of a man’s heart that makes him unclean.   Sure, animal sacrifice is a primitive thing.   It’s brutal, nasty, and violent.   So, too, is your average Snoop Dogg concert…or maybe even Jimmy Buffett.  But even Calvin Broadus, Jr and Mr. Buffett need saving.   Jesus died for them as much as He died for you or me.   He died for intellectuals, too.

All of whom are still unclean, just like self-righteous me.  I’m as self-righteous as you can find, and I’m ashamed of it.   Every time I try to get in the last word (as recent as this morning online), I’m ashamed again of how badly I fail at this.  Yet I’m supposed to be educated, enlightened, and a follower of Jesus.

In ancient days, God gave His chosen people commands on how they should worship Him.   He did this to allow them to worship Him in ways they could understand based on the world in which they lived.  By our standards, it was crude, barbaric, and primitive.   How much more civilized, then, are we to periodically partake of bread and wine in sanitary little cups?   It’s praise to that same God, accepting Jesus’ admonition that “this is my body” and “this is my blood.”   That isn’t a little bit strange?   Whether you look at communion as the exact presence of Christ or a representation of Him, don’t go away thinking that, by modern standards, this ancient ritual isn’t a veiled celebration of a barbaric sacrifice…

…a barbaric sacrifice that made mankind whole again.   It made man sanctified, justified, and made righteous again, clothed and bathed in the holy blood.  I said it just the other day:  I don’t fully understand the connection.   We don’t have to.  Instead, we GET TO see that, however He did it, God purified us from the inside out by the holiness of that sacrifice.   Blood and heifer ashes aren’t needed anymore.   Quite honestly, more blood isn’t needed, either.   There’s nothing you have to do to make it better, and nothing you could do.   We might have quicker technology than our ancestors, but we need Jesus to save us just as much as they did.  We may look clean on the outside, but deep down inside, without Jesus, we’re modern filthy dirty.

For further reading:  Hebrews 10:4, Numbers 19:9 and 17-18, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 15:19.

Lord, Your sacrifice was once for all.   It was brutal and I can’t imagine how You even went through with it.   Thank You.