Friday, August 5, 2011

It is a well-documented fact that men and women are very different!  This difference is frequently at the heart of jokes, anecdotes and plenty of good-natured ribbings.  The truth is that there are actual physical, emotional, mental and relational differences that have been observed and can be quantified.  There are actual differences in the way women’s and men’s brains are structured and the way they react to events and stimuli.  This is what has given birth to various “man-isms” that we've heard over the years that have taken on cliche-status.  The reason something becomes a cliché is because it contains a certain degree of truth!  One such man-ism is that “men hate asking for directions.”  They will drive out of their way for miles rather than stop and simply ask for directions.  As a man, we don’t always like to be asked or corrected in these areas.  We have a ready answer, “Of course I know where I’m going!”  I have a friend who told me that once he actually ended up in another State because of this quality (he told me it “cured” him).  Closely related to this is men don’t like to read the instructions. Sure, I know how this works, or how to put it together, why do you have to ask?”

Call me delusional (it’s actually pride), but I thought that I was somehow above the fray, and had moved beyond mere clichés in my actions.  Well, I had a little wake-up call last week!  For almost three years I’ve driven a Volkswagen Passat station wagon (there’s another story here: the transformation of Pastor Warner into driving a “soccer mom” car).  The car has actually grown on me, where now I kind of like it, especially when I have to fill up the gas tank.  My only complaint was the air conditioning that wasn’t really that good, and it took a long time to cool the car down and make it comfortable, which is a big deal in Tucson summers.  This was all true in my mind until last Sunday when I was coming home from church.  Leonard Gastelum was driving, and he started looking at the various buttons on the console, and pushed what turns out to be the  re-circulating button and voilà...much cooler air!  It turns out I had been trying to cool the car using outside air (really hot) instead of re-circulating the already cooler air in the car.  All this was confirmed and reinforced when we read the car’s instruction manual.  You know...that big, thick book that comes with the car when you buy it.  Yeah, that book.  The one I never took the time to read, and now it’s almost two weeks shy of having the car for three years!?

Sometimes things in life can be simplified to this: read the instructions!  The Bible is God’s instruction manual for all of life!  It’s not all that complicated, really.  John spells this out, “As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn.8:30-32) Discipleship is about sticking and following His manual.  If that is not enough, then what about “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” (Jn.13:17)  Oh, if we want to go back even farther, didn’t God tell Joshua what was the key to success?  It was not attending the latest Tony Robbins success seminar, or developing a positive mental attitude (PMA) because “your altitude is determined by your attitude.”  Instead, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Josh.1:8)NLT 

The Book of Proverbs, the book dedicated to wisdom or skillful living, emphasizes this as the bottom line. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments [read & follow the instructions], for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl.12:13) The dividing line between the wise and the foolish boils down over and over again to those willing to listen to and receive instruction and discipline, and those who are not.  The opening chapter of Proverbs sets the stage to all that is going to follow:

"I called you so often, but you wouldn't come.  I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.  You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.  So I will laugh when you are in trouble!  I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.  "When they cry for help, I will not answer.  Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.  For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord.  They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.  Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes.  For simpletons turn away from me—to death.  Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm."  (Prov.1:24-33)NLT

If we want the favor of God in our lives, then we must learn to seek and value (pay attention) His counsel, instruction, discipline and correction, and keep from becoming complacent.  Otherwise, as I discovered, your car doesn’t cool off like you’d like in the middle of the summer!  Instead, now, I’m definitely a lot cooler in less amount of time. This certainly makes August in Tucson a lot more enjoyable.  Plus, in the future I’m determined to take the time and effort to read the manual!  This is true whether you’re a man, a woman, young, old, no matter what your ethnicity or background.  It’s pretty simple, God’s put it all in His Word to help us, so He can bless us, and we can glorify Him by fulfilling our potential.

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