“Highly Subjective”

Lessons can and should be learned in every moment of every day, you just need to look for them.

Somewhat recently I wrote a fun little short story. It could be classified as a goofy adventure story, a mystery thriller, or a thought piece. Hopefully, it’s a bit of all three.

Well, after tweaking it, editing, asking friends to read it, and more editing, I finally decided to send it in and see if it was worthy of publishing. So, I sent it into four different short story publishers. (I will send it to more, but I wanted to start small since I’m not in a rush.)

A few days ago, I was sitting on the couch scrolling through my email when I came across a message from one of the publishers I was waiting to hear back from. My heart began to race, but I fought to keep my expectations small and my emotions in check.

I opened the email.

“Thank you for submitting blah blah blah…to the blah blah blah…” I read quickly and the words on my screen prompted me to look up and announce to my wife.

“Here it is honey! My first rejection letter!”

“Congrats babe! Proud of you!” was her response.

Yep. You read that right. I got rejected and my wife congratulated me. She was proud of me.

Why?

Because we had already talked about the probability of rejection. Back when I was deciding whether to send in the story or not she encouraged me to do so. And when I asked, “what about when I get rejected.” Her response was perfect. She told me about a famous author who had been rejected hundreds of times before her novel was finally given a chance. And she told me how that author went on to sell millions upon millions of copies of her books. She reminded me that getting rejected might just be the first step towards success and that I shouldn’t be discouraged.

I have a pretty awesome wife huh!?

Well, aside from the encouragement to persevere there was another lesson that I was reminded of. As I re-read the letter my eye was drawn to a specific phrase. “This isn’t a reflection on your writing. The selection process is highly subjective…”

Subjective is an interesting word. It is defined as something “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.”

Ok, that’s all well and good, but what would the opposite of subjective be? Is there anything that is not based on personal feelings, tastes, or opinions? Is there anything that is just universally real and untouched by the whims of people? Is there truth that is unchanged and unaffected by our particular views?

Yes.

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”

Hebrews 4:12 proclaims “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Hebrews 13:8 exclaims that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Malachi 3:8 reveals, “For I the Lord do not change.”

There is, thankfully no subjectivity when it comes to who God is and the truth that He has given to us.

He is God.

He is truth.

The Bible is God’s Word.

The Bible is truth.

I am thankful that there is a real truth that is not subjective.

I am thankful that the promises found in the Bible are not subject to the whims or opinions of people.

I am thankful that God’s love for me is not based on my own feelings.

And I am thankful that I have a Savior who does not change.

 

These are all great comforts to me in the midst of a highly subjective world.

While I Was Reading

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books, The Lord Of The Rings. Although it was broken up into, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Tolkien himself always intended for it to be a single book. If you have never read this literary masterpiece I highly recommend it!

Anyway, while I have been reading I have, again, realized just how quotable Tolkien is and how deeply relatable his characters are. As I read for fun I don’t want to read to just simply escape reality. (Read my thoughts on that topic here.) Instead, I want to read everything, even fiction, with purpose. I want my stories to teach me something and remind me of my own reality. (The good stories will always do just that.) Today, I wanted to share a couple of quotes with you that recently impacted me.

The first quote is the ever-wise Gandalf in response to Frodo’s questioning why he was chosen for such a great task.

“‘Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must, therefore, use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’”

These words greatly remind me of God’s interaction with Abraham in Genesis 12-17. God chose Abraham, not because he was a great man of great strength with great faith or great stature. God just simply chose him. After God chose Abraham He blessed him and, in turn, used him to bless the entire world. Similarly, God chose and used Moses, imperfections and all, to lead His people out of captivity and right up to the doorstep of the Promised Land.

In the New Testament, in Romans 8:30 and Ephesians 2:8-9 we find that God is consistent. People are not saved because of personal merit or works, but rather by the grace of God alone. And Ephesians 2:10 encourages those that have been chosen and saved by grace to produce “good works” as a result.

Frodo was very weak; however, he was still “chosen” for a great purpose -to destroy the evil ring. We are very weak; however, we have still been chosen for a great purpose -to glorify God and to tell the world about Jesus and His love.

The second quote I want to bring up is spoken by Aragorn when he is trying to ignite courage in the face of almost certain doom.

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”

As I read this I can’t help but ask myself the question, “Do I do what I do to get recognition and pats on the back? Or do I do it because God has called me to faithfully serve Him?”

Galatians 1:10 makes it clear that if our intentions are to please people then we cannot truly be servants of Christ. And Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

We need to do the right thing even if no one is watching and waiting to sing our praises.

The reality is that God is always watching, and His opinion of us is all that really matters anyway. Everything that we think, say, and do should be for God’s glory even when its not popular and especially when we do not receive recognition for it.

The purpose of sharing these quotes is to first, show how they remind me of great truth found in God’s Word. The second reason is to remind all of us how we can take everyday life and situations and think of them with a biblical mindset. That’s why I created this blog in the first place. Everyday life from a biblical perspective.

What is something that you have read, or seen, or heard lately that reminds you of our awesome God?

Believing The Bible

The Bible is full of incredible events, people, and transcendent truths. It tells of God’s unfailing and unchanging love for people, and of His incredible freely-given grace.

The Bible, as God’s own Word, is inerrant (contains no errors) and infallible (incapable of containing errors of being wrong) in its original manuscripts, and it is authoritative in our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” One of the keywords in that verse is the word “all.” There have been some who have come to think that the Bible is a mere collection of helpful stories or ideas some of which may be true, others, however, not so much.

The idea is that there are some stories which are just too hard to believe because they are too fantastical or too imaginative. “Surely a sea could not be split in two. Surely a donkey is incapable of speaking. Surely a man cannot rise from the dead…wait, no we like that last one.”

Nope. It’s all of it or none of it.

You see, we cannot just pick and choose parts of the Bible that are easy to digest and only believe them. We must be consistent. If we believe part of it, we must believe the whole.

For example, some have begun to believe that Adam was not a true historical figure, instead, the thought is that he was some sort of allegory. The idea behind this thinking is that it is easier to believe that the human race came from a group of people rather than from just one man. Now, it is not my intention here to fully debunk the allegory theory, but rather to remind us of the interconnectedness of the Bible.

With that said, one problem with thinking that Adam was not a real historical person is that in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 we find these words, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

It becomes quite clear that the first man talked about in verse 21 is Adam. His real-life choice to sin against God brought about sin, death, and destruction for all of mankind. And that rebellious choice thrust us all into sinful separation from God.

But then, the second man, Jesus Christ, came and His life, death, and resurrection undid all the harm that was done by Adam. (*Insert Amen-Halleluja here*) Because of Christ, there can now be life and eternal relationship with God. If Adam did not exist as a real historical person then it becomes unnecessary for Christ to come in order to undo what was done, since Adam would not have sinned if he was simply an allegory.

Scripture is interconnected.

The parts that we may think are not as easily verified need to be trusted and paid attention to just as much as the parts that are “easily” historically verified. All Scripture is equal in its authenticity and authority.

If we want to believe the words, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only son,” then we also must believe the words, “then the Lord God formed the man from the dust.”

Tim Keller has a wonderful quote about the believability of the incredible miracles that we read about in the Bible. He says, “We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it… Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.”

What an amazing thought. I pray that God would reorient our hearts and mind to see things the way He intends us to see them. And that He would give us greater faith to take Him at His word.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26

And Then There Were Monkeys

There we were, roasting in the Caribbean sun, covered in sunscreen and looking for adventure.

A few years ago, my wife and I went on a family cruise. It was an extremely fun time. We ate food, walked on beaches, ate food, went to shows, ate food, visited a volcano, ate food, went parasailing, ate food, snorkeled, and oh…ate food.

As we were making our way into one of the island’s ports I remember we were immediately hit with a barrage of people looking to sell us something…anything really. There was no point in trying to hide the fact that we were tourists, so we decided to just smile, nod, and try to make our way through the crowd.

Now, I honestly can say that I have no clue how it actually happened, but before I knew what was going on there was a monkey on my back….literally.

My wife was laughing as a monkey suddenly appeared on her as well. Our smiles grew as the monkeys increased. There was a local man smiling and laughing with us as he egged our furry little friends on. Then he asked me if I wanted him to take our picture.

I should have known better.

After he snapped a couple of photos of us his smiled faded, the primates jumped from our shoulders to his, and he held his hand out.

He got me.

Now, I want to be clear, I don’t begrudge this man for trying to make a living. My wife and I certainly aren’t missing the few “American dollars” our monkey pictures cost us. But I think what irritates me (only a little bit honestly) these years later is that fact that I had been “gotten.”

I should have seen it coming. I should have been ready. I should have just kept walking.

It could have been the scorching sun, the fresh air, my wits dimmed from the all-you-can-eat buffet, or just simply the excitement of the day. Whatever the reason, the reality was that I had been suckered into paying for something I didn’t need.

My defenses were down and it happened so fast.

We need to be careful how we live our lives, because the monkeys on our back can be crazy dangerous.

It’s frustrating, but this is usually how sin works in our lives. It jumps on to us (or we willingly put it on) and before we realize what is going on, payment is due. There is a quote from Ravi Zaccharias (although it has been attributed to several people) that goes like this,

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

That quote is, unfortunately, so terrifyingly true. We can get caught up in something, and before we even realize it, we are neck deep in the consequences of our actions.

James 1:14 reminds us that, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Those words “lured” and “enticed” could even be translated as “dragged away by.” That’s an unpleasant thought.

So what do we do when we are faced with temptation?

We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

We remember the truth of who we are in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We put on the protective armor that He has supplied us. (Ephesians 6:13)

Run away from those monkeys. They may be fun, cute, and cuddly at first…but they will always end up costing you.

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9