Have you ever been really wrong about something, so much so that you ended up looking like a total idiot?
Big Rob: the “TubCrusher”:
For everyone reading this, I am a very large man. My whole life I’ve been tall and big, but unfortunately I’ve ballooned in weight over the last 3 years. I’m WAY too heavy, and even when I’m in good shape, I’m heavier than your average person. I’m 6’4’’ and a former offensive lineman.
I always joke that I have an intimate relationship with the integrity and make-up of chairs, couches, beds, and other pieces of furniture. Too many times I’ve sat down on a chair, only to have it collapse on me out of nowhere when I lean back in it. It’s something that I find quite funny, and when I break a chair, the tears of laughter running down my wife’s face are PRICELESS.
This past December, we moved from our townhouse in Lakeville, to a house in the Elko/New Market area. I really love the house, but I’m not super wild about the bathrooms, primarily because the showers are small and built for normal sized people. The shower in our old town-home was really big, spacious, and we loved it. We’ve known that the showers are a pain, but we just say “oh well” and have enjoyed our new home greatly.
The other day I was in our upstairs bath, taking a shower. As I was washing and rinsing like baloo the bear from Jungle Book, I stepped toward the back of the bath and kind of leaned all the way onto one foot, and then suddenly, under the crushing weight of my rotund booty, the thin fiberglass of my bathtub cracked.
I looked down, and here was a small little crack that seemed like it might not have even mattered that much, and I wasn’t even sure it had gone all the way through the tub. I was off to work, so I just finished my shower and I left.
I had to tell my wife Heather, but because I was sure it meant replacing that tub insert and some sheetrock work, I was hesitant to just call and tell her because I wanted to wait till she was in a good mood and the timing was right. Well, after we all got back from work, Heather told the kids to go and get ready for a bath……..
I heard the water start and I had a decision to make…. I hadn’t taken the time to prime Heather for this news, and I really had hoped I could do it later somehow…….. As I debated in my mind, I could tell the tub was filling, and for some STUPID REASON, I had VERY little concern that a GIANT TUB OF WATER, on the second floor of my house, had a crack in it…. My ignorance about the crack, and my hesitancy to investigate it differently, meant that I could hold onto the assumption that the crack MIGHT NOT have gone all the way through and that it might not leak water.
I didn’t investigate the crack in my tub thoroughly enough, which lead to ignorance and then not acting in the proper manner.
I finally looked up at Heather and said “Heather, I have something I need to tell you”…. she looked at me with a strange face…..” And I slowly and deliberately said, “Yesterday I was taking a shower, and I kind of stepped in a bad spot or something, and as I stepped toward the back of the tub, I cracked the bottom of the tub…. and I’m not sure with all that water going in to the tub, if it’s a fine or not because i didn’t look at it really hard to see whats up”.
Heather asked “what? Oh my gosh Rob, seriously?” and she laughed Her preciously cute gut laugh…. and we went into the bathroom to check on the girls.
From where we were looking at the tub, it didn’t seem too bad – but when Heather went downstairs, she screamed “ROB, COME HERE NOW!” and we could hear the trickling of water coming down from the tub……. behind the walls of our home….
My ignorance from not investigating the crack thoroughly, caused me to make a fatal flaw and there might be some major consequences.
Because I didn’t investigate, I acted out of ignorance & Ignorance causes us to act in ways that can wreck our life, can’t it?
Here’s another example where ignorance causes pain not only for us, but for the people around us.
Example #2 – Ignorance about Zipper Merging:
How many of you know about the Zipper technique when there’s an approaching single lane shut-down on the freeway?
The problem is that our tendency is to get over into the lane which won’t be shut down, rather than use both lanes for a really long time and then merge right at the end. Studies have shown that if we resist the urge to merge into the open lane early, and instead use both lanes and merge just at the end like a “zipper”, congestion and traffic jams are far less severe.
But the other day, I was approaching a situation where EVERYONE was ignoring the principle of the zipper. None of these people had seen the video that the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation has put on youtube, and the closing lane was totally open for a number of miles before the merge.
So, being the informed and competent driver I am, I started driving down this open lane, which kind of feels like cheating in a way. Suddenly, as I was driving, a guy that was patiently (but ignorantly) waiting, swung His car into my lane to try and stop me, because He thought I was cheating. I had to slam on the breaks and swerve onto the side of the road to get out of the way.
Because of the ignorance of the truth concerning traffic management and the superior results of the zipper technique, this guy nearly caused my to have an accident.
Ignorance causes us to make bad decisions, do stupid things, experience pain, hurt others, and be stuck in life.
My ignorance concerning some of the most fundamental principles in life has caused some pain throughout my life, but back during my high school years, my ignorance about the true nature of God and His ways, caused me to experience gobs of unnecessary pain and agony.
Growing up a Christian, but ignorant about God’s true heart:
I grew up a Christian, and for my entire life i have believed in the God of the Bible, and feared being cross with Him. The denominationalism of my youth was a very truth-filled, and somewhat legalistic Church. I believed the God of the Bible, and I remember picking out my very own Bible at the Northwestern Bookstore in Burnsville. My Dad asked me which version I wanted, and I opted for the King James Bible, because I knew it was the most accurate version which meant it was more truthful than the others.
I brought my Bible to church all the time, and I was super involved in our little congregation. I was kind of a little apologist for God. I believed in Him and trusted Him, but for some reason I never got the overarching themes to understand how a relationship with God worked. I never understood clearly what Jesus’ message was, or anything because while I believed IN THE BIBLE, I was never reading it or being taught how to read it.
This resulted in me having some pretty incomplete beliefs, which caused Me to ignorantly allow certain attitudes and behaviors in my life to grow which caused some pain, loss, and destruction for a period.
I missed some of the main themes from God’s message such as:
- God wants to have a relationship with Us, and if we call out to Him, He will respond. He asks us to Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. By Loving God and Loving People, we fulfill all of God’s commands in the entire Bible.
- I didn’t understand exactly what Jesus’ attitude, philosophy, words, and ministry really were. I didn’t know He did “His thing” for only 3 years, and I had no idea what each book of the Bible actually was. I remember WANTING to understand God’s ways more, only to open the bible with utter confusion about what I was reading.
- I thought that we were Christians because I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life, and that I had to try to live a life free from sin. The only problem was, I SINNED ALL THE TIME! I knew I shouldn’t have sex before marriage, support abortion, believe in evolution, and listen to death metal, but I was always riddled with guilt because I continued to fight with my brother, Mom, and I struggled with lust.
- I missed that Jesus atones us to God, and that He is a good father that we can always return to in repentance.
- I missed humility, kindness, turning the other cheek, and I was rooted in an idolatry of sports and self-exultation.
I believed the Bible fully, I just never read it or understood it.
My ignorant belief was like Trump/Hillary supporters being tricked to support opponent’s policy:
I have one more story or illustration to show what my ignorance was like. Looking back on it, it was like the man on the street videos where a reporter asks Trump or Hillary supporters if they support their candidates policy, then trick them by getting them to agree with the opponent’s policy. If you watch those videos, it’s exactly what it was like for Me, I claimed to be a Christian but I didn’t really understand God’s heart, truth, attitudes, or story.
My ignorance about what God’s heart was like, and understanding what the pieces of the story were, meant that I ended up in foolishness; and I had all the right things going for Me! I had successful parents that loved God and understood the Bible, I had a great Church, I had friends that were Christians, and I was surrounded by great Christian stuff! There was no reason why I remained in such ignorance.
I had exchanged knowledge about God for a lie. I had built up a set of false beliefs. The God I believed in was essentially not the true God because I had made lots of it up. I believed that the God of the Bible existed, I just didn’t really know Him.
When I would speak about God’s character, it’s kind of like if I were to make some statements about Joe Montana’s character, what He was like as a father, and His attitudes; I’d be completely clueless! Joe Montana was my favorite NFL player growing up, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him at all, so anything I’d say about hIm was second hand or pretty much made up but if I read a testimony about Him from His closest family, friends, confidants, coaches, and students; maybe an authentic understanding would germinate.
I hope that most people don’t struggle with the ignorance about the Heart of God like I did, but watching culture and humanity indicates that most people are probably even MORE ignorant than I’ve been.
Do you think that maybe your suffering from the same ignorance that I was?
If you were to be honest, could you stand up and give a presentation on what the teaching of Jesus is, what the disciples of Jesus taught, and the main themes of the Bible? I sense many people can, and I don’t want to diminish this.
I wanted to write this because I suspect that there are lots of Christians who just haven’t really had the opportunity, mentoring, or teaching that could help them fill in some of the gaps that might exist in their knowledge about God. I’ve watched myself and a couple of my closest friends have our faith and lives blessed in tremendous ways because we pulled up closer God by trying to really understand His story, His ways, and most of all, to understand what His heart is really like.
If you’d like to understand the heart of God more, here’s what helped cure some of my ignorance.
I’m not talking about the minute intricacies of theology, but the heart and meat of the Christian faith.
I was delusional in my past, because although I really didn’t know the truth about God, I was convinced I did…. I want to provide some questions that really helped me asses whether I was acting ignorantly and therefore hypocritically…..
I exposed my ignorance by asking myself questions like these:
- If I were to audit the last year of my life, how much time did I REALLY spend reading and studying the Bible?
- If I were to be honest, in comparison to the time I spent on entertainment, sports, tv, etc. How much effort have I put into understanding God, His message, the testimony in the Bible, and the evidence for Him?
- Do I really know the heart of my Heavenly Father?
If you’re like I was, and you feel unsure about what the Bible actually says, if you can’t really articulate what the main themes are, then you’re in good company! ITS OK I think to be in that situation. But I think you should go an endeavor to discover the true heart, message, and beliefs of our Heavenly Father.
If you’re pretty ignorant about God, the Bible, and all this stuff, but you believe in God, then I’m super encouraged! Jesus taught us that it’s a simple, child-like belief in Him and following Him that leads to salvation; not having complete knowledge.
In the beginning, simple faith is all that’s necessary, but we need to mature over time.
But we’re also taught that we need to mature our faith, to try and supplement our faith with knowledge, to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, and to initiate our transformation into the likeness of Christ through changing the way we think. Jesus said that we’re saved by faith alone, and then He tells us to set out on a life-long journey to more deeply understand God’s heart, His ways, His commands, and His character. Ultimately, this helps us to be better at Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I get really encouraged when I meet immature believers like I was, because I know that as they dive into this endeavor, they’re going to experience tremendous blessing; and their relationships, careers, marriages and kids are absolutely, positively, going to benefit.
I’m encouraged when I meet believers who have lots of room to improve, because their entire life has the potential for major blessing as they grow!
If you’re not engaging in the scriptures to love God with all your mind, I think you’re going through life with a tremendous burden and weight-jacket on.
When you engage in deeper intimacy with God through learning and prayer, I KNOW FOR A FACT, that you’re life is going to benefit and you’ll experience more of the good stuff in life.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Self-Control are all things that our “human desires” might call “silly, wussy, fruity or wimpy”, but in the end; these are what create a good life and sustain a prosperous person or family.
I’m 100% confident that anyone’s life will increase in all these things as they start to conform their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to comply with the heart of our Heavenly Father.
Knowing the heart of the father comes from learning about Him.
Just like how I could learn about Joe Montana from a “testament” about Him from eyewitnesses and informed testifiers, I can learn about God from the testimony found in the Old and New Testament.
I have three ways to start knowing the heart of God, but I want to remind you that Christianity is all about becoming a disciple of JESUS, which is all about Loving God and Loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Trusting in Jesus & Becoming a Disciple of Him:
When we believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be, we acknowledge that He was the promised messiah that lived, died, and rose again. If you believe that, you’ll trust in Him.
Trusting in Jesus means that we are in a relationship with Him AND that we become His disciple.
Being a disciple of Jesus would be a lot like if we suddenly wanted to become a skilled craftsman in the ancient days.
For example, in Venetian glass makers have been the most skilled, most productive, most profitable glass craftsman since the middle ages. This continues up to this day, because the apprentice/master relationship.
A Master artisan takes people under HIs wing who want to be just like Him, and will say “yes” to everything the Master says. The apprentice will develop throughout a lifetime, the abilities, the thoughts, the acumen, the heart, and the relationships akin to the master. In short, He will be His disciple.
In the same way, following Jesus is all about being His apprentice in the craft of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus told us that this is our main concern and that His ways are meant to atone us to God the father AND to show us how to love.
Jesus says that He’s going to transform us from ignorant rubes to professionals in His craft. His craft is the loving of God and Loving of others as ourselves.
Everything that is Christianity is rooted in just, true, redeeming love with God and others. But there’s a million life-time’s worth of depth, breadth, and intricacy to it, so that we can never stop learning if we choose to continuously pursue mastery in this craft.
So as we start to apprentice under Jesus, to mature in the craft of Loving God and Loving our neighbor as ourselves, here are the three things that helped me understand the heart of God the most!
Three things that cured Rob’s ignorance concerning God:
1 – Listen to good teaching.
The best way you can start to understand things is to take some time to listen to good, compelling, and biblically focused teaching.
My absolute FAVORITE teaching to listen to is Andy Stanley. He is the son of a successful pastor in Atlanta Georgia, and I believe Him to be one of the best speakers in the entire world. If you think that TED TALKS have some good stuff, this guy blows it out of the water.
His Church is called North Point Community Church in Atlanta Georgia, and He has a couple of different podcasts out there.
My 3 Favorite Christian Teachers
1 – Andy Stanley
Andy Stanley’s Greatest Hits: Your Move Podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/npm
North Point Community Church in Georgia’s Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/WeeklyPodcastNorthPoint
Andy Stanley’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/yourmovewithandystanley
Here is a link to Andy Stanley’s iTunes App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/christian-part-one-brand-recognition/id211872550?i=1000346402762&mt=2
Specifically, I LOVE these messages:
2 – Eagle Brook Church:
I also love Eagle Brook Church’s messages from Bob Merritt and Jason Strand. This Church is located all along the northern half of the Twin Cities, in Woodbury, Lino Lakes, White Bear Lake, Spring Lake Park, Blaine, and Anoka.
Eagle Brook Church Podcast https://eaglebrookchurch.com/mediafiles/eagle-brook-church-podcast.xml
Here is Eagle Brook’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eaglebrookchurch/
Here is Eagle Book’s iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eagle-brook/id602353806?mt=8
The third resource I really like is John Piper’s Desiring God podcasts and blog. John Piper is a retired pastor that’s made a prodigious impact in the world for Christ. His stuff is accessible to people who aren’t into super complicated stuff, but it’s definitely more COMPLETE than the other two pastors. Andy Stanley and Bob Merritt tend to opt for a very clear, concise, and easy to remember message while John Piper tends to have a more precise, complete, and fully-orbed message. They’re all really helpful, biblical, God honoring speakers that help people live a life obedient to Jesus.
3 – John Piper
Here is Desiring God’s Podcast for your iPhone:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/john-piper-messages-audio/id196050704?mt=2
Desiring God Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/DesiringGod/
Desiring God iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sermon-of-the-day-by-john-piper/id1055046727?mt=8
Desiring God website: http://www.desiringgod.org/
2 – Start reading the Bible, particularly one that’s easy for normal people to read.
New Living Translation (NLT) & English Standard Version (ESV)
The Easiest Bible to Read and Understand is the New Living Translation or the “NLT”. It’s the one I like for easy, plain, reading because the vernacular is modern while it captures the key ideas.
This is advice that might cause some people to comment negatively, but my goal is to help people get started in the bible here. There are many different translations of the Bible, which are meant to do different things but convey the same message. Our language is constantly changing, if you don’t believe me, then go read the American Founding documents in their entirely and tell me how this compares to C.S. Lewis, and then to John Maxwell. Our vernacular and phrasing changes tremendously over time, and it actually happens quite quickly. The different versions of the bible are meant to be used in various ways.
I like the NLT for devotions because when there’s words or ideas that can be missed unless deep context is understood, the NLT communicates the idea behind it. It’s the most accessible version of the bible in my opinion, followed by the New International Verison or NIV.
Once you start to engage with the NLT version, it can be useful, but when PRECISION is paramount, it’s good to engage with the English Standard Version or ESV. This version is highly precise, and has the most relevant word choice for the original greek words. The ESV is highly precise, as is the King James Version. What needs to be remembered, is that the New Testament is written in Greek, which uses goofy sentence structures kind of like how Yoda does in Star Wars. It’s also good to note that the old testament was written in Hebrew, and Aramaic after being passed orally for centuries. The jews lost influence over the region, and eventually Greek became the prominent language of the entire middle east. Because of this, the Hebrew holy book of the Old Testament was then translated into Greek by “the seventy”. The seventy, is a group of Hebrew Rabbi’s about 300 years before Christ, who took the old Hebrew books and translated them into Greek so they would be accessible to their culture. That would be like taking latin and turning into english so we can read it. This book is called the “Septuagint” which means the 70, this is the version of the old testament that Jesus and His disciples were quoting most of time in the new testament.
What I want to convey is that you shouldn’t have much concern about the accuracy of the different versions, because the academic source criticism that’s been going on for centuries has proven they are the most relevant and bullet-proof documents of all antiquity. It’s important to know that the different translations are meant for different audiences and eras. Starting out with a New Living Translation is great and if you’d like, you can “graduate” to the ESV.
The bottom line is that reading the Bible is critical in helping understand the heart of God! There’s also some amazing Bible Apps out there, such as Youversion, which are free for android and IOS. Youversion provides every translation of the bible, AS WELL AS recorded readings of the bible, so you can listen to the bible in the car while you drive.
Here is a link to the Amazon search for NLT bibles: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=nlt+bible
The Best Bible iPhone App or Android App:
You can read on a mobile device with this FREE and amazing app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible/id282935706?mt=8
Here is the Youversion website: https://www.youversion.com/
The Bible Project:
The Bible Project is a really great resource to understand the basics of each book of the Bible. They have taken time to create short, clear, and helpful instructional videos and uploaded them to Youtube.
Looking for an overview of each book of the bible? What are the main ideas in the bible? These will show you.
Summaries of the books of the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/user/jointhebibleproject
Right Now Media, the Netflix for Christian resources:
This is the netflix of Bible Studies, video series, etc. For those of us that are Eagle Brookers, our Church provides access to this resource (and pretty much anyone could have an account here as it’s open to all)
Go here for a free Rightnow Media Account.
Once you have an account, here is their IPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rightnow-media/id925747028?mt=8
Remember, the Bible is not one book, it’s actually 66 different documents, that have been pulled together in one handy book. The old testament is the the story of God from the nation of Israel or Hebrews, that talk about God from about the beginning until about the year 300bc.
Jesus was born in about the year 3 AD. The New Testament is a collection of a whole bunch of ancient documents that were written by the eye-witnesses of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was born and grew to the age of about 30, and THEN He made Himself known, did all His miracles, and preached His message. Three years later Jesus was crucified on the cross and rose again.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the four “Gospels” or first hand accounts from different perspectives of Jesus’ life.
There was a doctor who documented in a very precise way, named Luke, who wrote the book of Luke and then the Acts of the apostles. ACTS is the story of the beginning of the Church from right after Jesus died.
After Acts, the rest of the New Testament (except Revelation) are letters written by the Apostles and a convert named Paul, to different groups of believers. These are epistles that tell us all about how to live as Christians.
Lastly, the book of Revelation was written by John, one of the closest people ever to Jesus, and He shares the vision God gave Him about when Jesus will return.
So listen to good teaching from someone like Andy Stanley, read a Bible you can understand, and then the final part is to get plugged into a good Bible Believing Church.
3 – Get connected to a Bible Believing Church
These three behaviors helped me a ton, and I started to implement listening to good teaching, reading the bible, and getting involved in my church all at the same time.
A local Church is a congregation of people who are gathering in the name of Jesus to hear the teaching about Jesus, to build friendships and even helpful acquaintances (I don’t think you need to be best friends with all believers, but we’re connected to each other more than we are to those who still belong to the world).
Get plugged into a Church, and make going to Church a NON-NEGOTIABLE!
Never miss church! God will honor it, and you’ll NEVER regret going.
When you’re looking for a church, I think the key is that it’s a place that doesn’t compromise on what the bible teaches.
But taking a high view of scripture doesn’t mean that you are flippantly trying to score religious or political points among believers; a Church should be working hard to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the lives of the listeners both believing and non.
The key, in my opinion, is that a Church needs to a place that’s helping believers live out what the bible teaches, and also trying to “seek and save the lost”.
Your church should be a place that’s working hard to be a place that you could invite your neighbor to hear a compelling presentation of the Gospel as well as a place where you’re building authentic, biblically functioning, community and relationships.
If the Church is more about tradition than seeking and saving lost people, that usually means that they require un-convinced people to conform to irrelevant approaches rather than adapting approaches to remove barriers for the listener who doesn’t believe.
Approach is different than the message or God’s truth; it’s how you present things. Churches can stay relevant to the people by addressing sin, which is a common thing amongst all people and builds common ground for listeners; believers or not.
Bottom line here, find a Church and get plugged in. The Church should be distinctly positioned to be like Jesus and “seek and save the lost”, which means that they’ll have the humility to tinker with their approach in order that they become an environment you can consistently invite your lost friends and family to.
Churches who aren’t constantly trying to improve in their delivery, approach, and presentation of this most important information are not stewarding their responsibility well. IF they care so much about the message, they will work hard to remove all barriers that get in the way concerning approach SO THAT you feel good about inviting your neighbor.
Being ignorant about the things of God caused me to live a lie; claiming I knew the heart of my Heavenly Father when I was actually just making it up.
Reading the Bible, listening to great teaching, and getting plugged into an amazing Church are three ways that helped me start to be transformed into a much better version of myself.
In short, a good church will create a context where people feel comfortable in terms of the environment so that the message is the only thing that confronts them. I’ll write an entire other post about this, but