The Eighty Informer (Matthew 6:31-34)

The familiar pungent aroma of mimeograph ink filled the room as I took possession of two hundred copies of our publication. It was my junior year in high school and I was the new editor of our class newsletter. The previous editor created a popular newsletter he dubbed the “Sophomore Sentinel.” In an attempt to place my own stamp on this newsletter, I renamed it “The Eighty Informer” since we were the graduating class of 1980.

In spite of this promising beginning, complaints soon arose from my classmates. The articles were boring and not relevant. The format was uninspired. Even my best friend told me it was a failure. Desirous to help me, he wrote out a short message and instructed me to insert it into the next edition. It was an apology to my classmates asking for suggestions and understanding. It only succeeded in fanning more hostility from most of my classmates who refused to read later issues. Discarded newsletters were a common sight around the campus.

All this drama over a high school class newsletter! Over forty years later, it seems trivial but at that time, it was a source of great emotional distress. It was one of many episodes that inflicted havoc in my life at such a young age. With the hindsight of time, those memories have faded, displaced by more serious life experiences. The long painful death of my mother from cancer; the sudden unexpected death of my father from a heart attack; the neurosurgery that my daughter underwent in high school-all of these and more occupy a much higher priority in my memory. I am sure there will be more painful experiences. How will I deal with these future setbacks?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. 

Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT)

Today’s trouble is enough for today. Truth, indeed. When I was in high school, it always seemed as if the troubles of each day were out of control, inevitably collapsing upon me. I could not comprehend that better times were ahead or that the issues that confronted me were not that serious. After I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, my outlook on life changed. I was no longer held captive by each painful episode. My outlook was not focused upon my plight but embracing the glorious reality of walking with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By abiding in Jesus Christ, God replaced the pain of my sorrows with the joy of His fellowship. Even as more painful experiences were encountered, I learned that it is yet another avenue for God to show me that He knows all of my needs and exceedingly abundantly supplies them.

Praise God!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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MENSA (1 Kings 4:29)

In one of the pathology groups in which I previously worked, I was delighted to discover that two of the pathologists had graduated from college at age 18 and completed medical school at age 22. Upon further investigation, I learned both were members of MENSA. Membership in this elite organization rests upon having an I.Q. of 130 or greater, generally considered to represent the top 2% of the general population. The general public sometimes refers to MENSA members as geniuses or gifted.

I am certain I have unknowingly met many people who are either MENSA members or qualify to be included in this elite organization. However, this was the first time I was aware that I was working with two MENSA members. Whenever I was paired with either of them at work, I examined their approach to both diagnostic and managerial problems. How do geniuses solve problems? Can I learn and benefit from their approaches?

The irony is I would not have scrutinized their thought processes and problem solving skills had I been unaware of their MENSA status. In fact, I had many colleagues whom I thought were equally intelligent and creative, but I did not analyze their thought processes because they had assured me they were not MENSA members. I succumbed to a confirmation bias. If I thought their solutions were innovative, I assumed it was because of their high I.Q. If mistakes were made, I glossed over them, assuming that geniuses were not subject to the same frailties and weaknesses that plague the other 98% of the population. To my surprise and chagrin, I discovered that they made many of the same foolish mistakes that myself and others made.

God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. 

1 Kings 4:29 (NLT)

The Bible does not record any I.Q. scores since such measurements did not exist until the early 20th century. However, it is likely that King Solomon was the most intelligent person of his day and perhaps even in our day. The Bible lists some of his impressive accomplishments including those that exceeded other wise men, who were undoubtedly known to everyone during that time.

In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. 

1 Kings 4:30-34 (NLT)

In spite of his intelligence, Solomon still made foolish mistakes and allowed his heart to be led astray to worship the gods of his many foreign wives. My MENSA colleagues were atheists and disavowed God at a very young age. God has shown me that good judgment is superior to intelligence. If you have been blessed with superior intelligence, utilize it to critically analyze the claims of Jesus Christ who lived a sinless life, was crucified and resurrected. He showed that all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior will obtain salvation and eternal life. 

One does not need to be a genius to understand this, just good judgment. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Satisfy My Curiosity (Isaiah 50:4)

“So what are you going to do when you retire?”

“Believe it or not, going back to school!”

“Are you going to audit courses?”

“Better, I am going to pay a professor to sit down with me and answer questions that I have been collecting over the years.”

I was speaking to a surgeon colleague who was reveling in his future retirement plans.His answer was intriguing since it was not the usual retirement activity that I was accustomed to hearing. 

“What kind of questions?”

He smiled. “I am going to find professors to explain things like String theory, superconductivity, and nuclear fusion.”

“Interesting…but can’t you just read a book?”

“I have, but books can only take you so far. I want to pick their brains.”

“I see. And when you get the answers you want, what will you do with this information?”

“Nothing. This is just to satisfy my curiosity.”

I admired my colleague’s willingness to do this. I have thought of doing something similar such as auditing college classes in subjects that I wished to explore in greater depth. Yet, is it just to sate my curiosity or is there a greater purpose for this learning?

The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. 

Isaiah 50:4 (NLT)

When I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, God reoriented the goals and objectives in my life. No longer was I learning simply to advance my career. He gave me a greater purpose, learning to advance the Good News of Jesus Christ and His promise of salvation and eternal life. Knowledge in areas outside of my occupation enables me to speak to others whom I may not normally encounter. He enables me to obtain this knowledge so that I may comfort and enlighten others to see God’s purpose in everything we do. 

Knowledge is a gift from God. It becomes wisdom when it is used to help others and lead them to the source of all knowledge-Jesus Christ.

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Moved To Tears? (Luke 7:37-38)

When I sin, I feel bad, even remorse, but am I ever moved to tears? Sadly, this does not happen very often. Yet, there are many examples in the Bible that record such deep repentance but perhaps none more moving than this one, recorded by Dr. Luke in his Gospel. 

And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 

Luke 7:37-38 (NKJV)

It was surely a startling display of repentance for this woman to wash the feet of Jesus Christ with her own tears and wipe them with her hair. She understood the depth of her sins. She knew her Savior whom she worshipped could forgive her. These were tears of sorrow, repentance, and gratitude. 


Susanna Wesley, the godly mother of John and Charles Wesley, who would later start the Methodist Church in England, wrote, “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”

Amen!

If I fail to understand what sin is, I fail to understand the depth of depravity that I am in. Sin is more than a slight wrong, it is an affront to God. Each time I sin, it should strike at my very core and move me to tears of sorrow and repentance. 

How desperately I need my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Only by continuing to surrender myself to Him will I gain the mind of God, recognizing my sins, even when they seem innocent. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Inclusion Implosion (2 Kings 17:32-34)

The city of Boston recently elected their first mayor who was not a male. She is a woman of color, an Asian-American. Most minority groups and women’s rights groups rejoiced. However, one popular media outlet, that previously championed inclusion, recoiled at the outcome, implying that it wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Why Boston will need to wait longer for its first elected Black mayor : NPR

The same thing happened with the “Me Too” movement. When former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment, he allied himself with Roberta Kaplan, the leader of Time’s Up, an organization that was birthed from the “Me Too” movement. Kaplan advised Cuomo how to attack the credibility of some of his accusers, protecting him and shattering the credibility and trust of the movement she led. 

Time’s Up leader resigns after criticism about Cuomo ties | AP News

Many groups champion inclusion, supporting the demands of disparate groups clamoring for attention and representation. However, when an outcome like the Boston mayoral election occurs, their true intentions are exposed. These groups support inclusion but only if it supports the inclusion of their choosing and their ulterior motives. It is of little consequence if their choices flies in the face of the majority of their supporters.

These new residents worshiped the LORD, but they also appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests to offer sacrifices at their places of worship. And though they worshiped the LORD, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came. And this is still going on today. They continue to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the LORD and obeying the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel.

2 Kings 17:32-34 (NLT)

When these Bible verses were written, it was describing the forlorn state into which the former northern kingdom of Israel had descended. After being taken captive by the Assyrian empire, the remaining Israelites were influenced by numerous foreigners who were moved into the area. While they worshipped their own gods, the Israelites also accepted them and created a strange hybrid religion, one that paid homage to all of the religions. This was inclusion taken to an extreme!

On the surface, it may appear that this was a clever way for the Israelites to foster peace with their new neighbors, in reality, it drove them deeper into the spiritual abyss that initially led them into captivity. Inclusion is a noble goal. However, one cannot be all-inclusive since there will always be a point when the beliefs of one group will conflict with another. 

Inclusion means giving all people equal access to the same resources allowing for representation. Beneath our racial, cultural, and religious differences, we are all created in the image of God. This is our common bond and one that should give us hope. Inclusion will not succeed only through human organizations. Real change can only come from God who gave us equal access to the promise of salvation and eternal life through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Only in God will inclusion truly be harmonized, free of prejudices and those who seek to advance their own agendas under their definition of inclusion.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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