Trust

Trust, Part One
by Chuck Swindoll

Proverbs 3:5-6

Those folks who used to put together Campus Life magazine got my vote. With an incredible regularity they would put the cookies on the lower shelf so that any high schooler in America could thumb through the thing without getting turned off. One of their secrets was frequent humor, lots of jokes. You know, all kinds of stuff to laugh at . . . some a little gross, but all designed to scratch a teenager where he was itching. And most kids I know at that age are never very far from fun.

I’m sure they got as big a laugh out of Stephen Erickson’s article when it was published as I did. It’s called:

How to Choose a Dentist

Never trust a dentist . . .
. . . who wears dentures.
. . . who has hairy knuckles.
. . . whose drill is driven by a system of pulleys connected to three mice on a treadmill.
. . . who sends you a Christmas card and charges you for it.
. . . who chews tobacco and spits the juice into the sink.
. . . who uses the suction hose to empty your pockets.
. . . who is also a barber.
. . . who sprays his equipment with Lysol to sterilize it.
. . . who uses lead for fillings.

You can always trust a dentist . . .
. . . who has never chewed gum.
. . . who looks like Jack Nicholson.
. . . who doesn’t ask you questions when your mouth’s full.
. . . who puts you to sleep two weeks before your appointment.
. . . who uses a laser instead of a drill.
. . . who cancels your appointment to play tennis.
. . . who has mellow rock piped into his office instead of elevator music.
. . . who doesn’t strap you in the chair.

Anybody—high schooler or not—who has gone through the predental appointment shakes can identify with those crazy comments. How great it would be to find a member of the professional drill team who fits the latter rather than the former list!

As I smiled through the descriptions, I was struck with a sudden rush of insight hidden behind the humor. Basically, it’s the trauma of fear that makes us dread getting strapped into the hot seat. Fear of pain, fear of discomfort, brought on by seeing a grown man in a white outfit with a needle behind his back and that “I’m gonna gitcha” look in his eye. Such trauma calls for an antidote equally powerful. In a word, it is trust . . . reliance on character, skill, and competence. It’s having confidence. Being assured he knows what he’s doing. You don’t want some clown jabbing you in the jaw who has to consult a do-it-yourself-dentistry handbook while you’re getting numb. You also know you’re in for trouble if he comes at you as clumsy as a Sherman tank. The doc has to have class to put your mind at ease; otherwise, your trust is undermined. Trust calms trauma. It’s as simple as that.

What is true in the dentist’s waiting room and office is also true in everyday life. We must learn to consciously abandon ourselves to Someone who is trustworthy. More on that  in Part Two.

Keeping Confidences

by Chuck Swindoll

Psalm 141:3-4

Can you keep a secret?

Can you? Be honest, now. When privileged information passes through one of the gates of your senses, does it remain within the walls of your mind? Or is it only a matter of time before a leak occurs? When the grapevine requests your attention from time to time, do you refuse to help it climb higher, or do you encourage its rapid growth, fertilizing it by your wagging, unguarded tongue? When someone says, “Now this is confidential,” do you respect their trust or ignore it . . . either instantly or ultimately?

The longer I live, the more I realize the scarcity of people who can be fully trusted with confidential information. The longer I live, the more I value those rare souls who fall into that category! As a matter of fact, if I were asked to list the essential characteristics that should be found in any member of a church staff or officer on a church board . . . the ability to maintain confidences would rank very near the top. No leader deserves the respect of the people if he or she cannot restrain information that is shared in private.

Our minds might be compared to a cemetery, filled with graves that refuse to be opened. The information, no matter how juicy or dry, must rest in peace in its coffin, sealed in silence beneath the epitaph “Shared in confidence—Kept in confidence.”

You and I wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for a doctor who ran off at the mouth. The same applies to a minister or an attorney or a counselor or a judge or a teacher or a secretary . . . or a close, trusted friend for that matter. No business ever grows and remains strong unless those in leadership are people of confidence. No school maintains public respect without an administration and faculty committed to the mutual guarding of one another’s worlds. When leaks occur, it is often a sign of character weakness, and action is usually taken to discover the person who has allowed his or her mental coffin to be exhumed and examined.

Information is powerful. The person who receives it and dispenses it bit by bit often does it so that others might be impressed because he or she is “in the know.” Few things are more satisfying to the old ego than having others stare wide-eyed, drop open the jaw, and say, “My, I didn’t know that!” or “Why, that’s hard to believe!” or “How in the world did you find that out?”

Solomon writes strong and wise words concerning this subject in Proverbs. Listen to his counsel:

Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. (10:14)

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. (10:19)

He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (11:13)

The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (13:3)

He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip. (20:19)

Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot
Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.

Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit. (25:28)

From now on, let’s establish four practical ground rules:

Whatever you’re told in confidence, do not repeat.
Whenever you’re tempted to talk, do not yield.
Whenever you’re discussing people, do not gossip.
However you’re prone to disagree, do not slander.
Honestly now, can you keep a secret? Prove it.

Have Faith, Have a Plan

Read Exodus 2:1–10

Jochebed had faith. She also thought through a very creative plan. I’d like to pause to reflect on this tension between careful planning and full-hearted faith. Are they mutually exclusive? Not on your life! Yet to talk to some believers, you might be led to think otherwise.

I’ve talked with unemployed men and women who tell me, “I’m just waiting on the Lord to provide a job.”

“Fine,” I reply. “And where have you placed your resumé?”

“Well, I’m not going that route. I’m just waiting on God.”

“Oh really?” I say. “Then I hope you don’t mind remaining jobless for awhile.”

The old motto of soldiers during the Revolutionary War applies to many areas of life: “Trust in God, but keep your powder dry!” In other words, place your life in the Savior’s hands, but stay at the ready. Do all that you can to prepare yourself for battle, understanding that the ultimate outcome rests with the Lord God.

To walk by faith does not mean you stop thinking. To trust God does not imply becoming slovenly or lazy or apathetic. What a distortion of biblical faith! You and I need to trust God for our finances, but that is no license to spend foolishly. You and I ought to trust God for safety in the car, but we’re not wise to pass on a blind curve. We trust God for our health, but that doesn’t mean we can chain smoke, stay up half the night, and subsist on potato chips and Twinkies without consequences.

Acting foolishly or thoughtlessly, expecting God to bail you out if things go amiss, isn’t faith at all. It is presumption. Wisdom says to do all you can within your strength, then trust Him to do what you cannot do, to accomplish what you cannot accomplish. Faith and careful planning go hand-in-hand. They always have.

Start Where You Are

by Chuck Swindoll

Jonah 1-4

To start over, you have to know where you are. To get somewhere else, it’s necessary to know where you’re presently standing. That’s true in a department store or a big church, on a freeway or a college campus . . . or in life, for that matter. Very, very seldom does anybody “just happen” to end up on the right road. The process involved in redirecting our lives is often painful, slow, and even confusing. Occasionally, it seems unbearable.

Take Jonah. (No one else wanted to.) He was prejudiced, bigoted, stubborn, openly rebellious, and spiritually insensitive. Other prophets ran to the Lord. He ran from Him. Others declared the promises of God with fervent zeal. Not Jonah. He was about as motivated as a six-hundred-pound grizzly in mid-January.

Somewhere down the line, the prophet got his inner directions cross-wired. He wound up, of all places, on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea bound for a place named Tarshish. That was due west. God had told him to go to Nineveh. That was due east. (That’s like flying from Los Angeles to Berlin by way of Honolulu.) But Jonah never got to Tarshish, as you may remember. Through a traumatic chain of events, Jonah began to get his head together in the digestive tract of a gigantic fish.

What a place to start over! Slopping around in the seaweed and juices inside that monster, fishing for a match to find his way out, Jonah took a long, honest look at his short, dishonest life. For the first time in a long time, the prophet brushed up on his prayer life. He yelled for mercy. He recited psalms. He promised the Lord that he would keep his vow and get back on target. Only one creature on earth felt sicker than Jonah—the fish, in whose belly Jonah bellowed. Up came the prophet, who hit the road running—toward Nineveh.

Changing directions requires knowing where you are. It necessitates taking time to honestly admit your present condition. It means facing the music, standing alone inside the fish and coming to terms with those things that need attention, fishing in the seaweed for a match. Before you find your way out, you must determine where you are. Exactly. Once that is accomplished, you’re ready to start over.

Three cheers for our unsung heroes!

It recently occurred to me that every significant event is made possible by “supportive unknowns.” We know those who are up front, but we seldom acknowledge those who provide the wind beneath their wings.

Battles are fought and won by those on the front lines—top-gun pilots, brave paratroopers, and heroic warriors who strategize, practice, and confront the enemy, fire heavy weapons, and carry compatriots to safety.

But we seldom consider the “unknowns” who build the planes, sew the nylon used as parachutes, or forge the steel for making rifles and rockets. Those on the front lines could not survive without these unknowns.

Open-heart surgeries are performed every day by well-trained and often well-known cardiac surgeons. We respect their knowledge, and we applaud their skill as they do intricate surgeries and save lives.

But what about those “unknowns” who sterilize the instruments, assist as nurses, or make certain the operating room is ready and clean sheets are on the beds? The lead surgeons could not be successful without the full support of unknowns on the staff.

What powerful roles are filled by those hidden heroes!

First Samuel 13 and 14 reveal just how important supportive unknowns can be. The Israelites were outnumbered and undersupplied. The Philistines not only had all of the iron weapons, one battalion occupied a strategic position at the top of rugged cliffs that were next to impossible to scale. While his dad, King Saul, sat under a tree, Jonathan refused to accept defeat. He decided to do what most would call “the impossible” . . . to climb those cliffs and confront the enemy . . . but he could not do it alone.

So he said to his armor-bearer, “Let’s go!” This unknown armor-bearer’s response was magnificent! “Do all that you have in mind . . . go ahead; I am with you heart and soul” (1 Samuel 14:7). Success followed, even though the odds were ten to one. Not only did they scale the steep cliffs together, they attacked the Philistines. Killing twenty, they caused the entire Philistine army to panic and “melt away in all directions.”

Most Bible students know of King Saul and his fine son, Jonathan . . . but today, nobody knows who Jonathan’s armor-bearer was; we don’t even know his name. But Jonathan did . . . and he trusted this man with his life. However, we only know this about him:

He was committed to Jonathan “heart and soul”!

He played a significant role in the success of that mission.

What Jonathan’s armor-bearer meant to him, friends like you mean to us. Your prayer support helps us scale “impossible” cliffs, to stay in the fight for a lost world.

 

Avoiding an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7

I heard about a little old lady who was at church for a Wednesday night prayer meeting. And when it came time for her to pray, she said, “God, bless all of us who are here in this prayer meeting. And be with all those evil people out there in the world having such a good time.”

You know, there’s a real problem among Christians today. It’s not a problem of performance or obedience necessarily. It’s a problem of attitude. There are so many men and women in the church today who have an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. They think that because they go to church, then they’re the ‘in’ crowd and everyone else is just going to Hades in a hand basket. They forget that God is not done with his story of redemption!

It’s my prayer that the people of God today will be a people of unconditional love and acceptance. I’m not saying there aren’t standards. But at the same time we must never forget that we’re to be a hospital for sinners; we’re to be a refuge for people who need to come home.

Jesus said there’s more rejoicing over one lost person who’s found than over 99 righteous people who need no repentance. So when it comes to welcoming others, keep your heart and arms open and never underestimate the work Christ wants to do among the lost!

INSTEAD OF SEEING THE WORLD AS ‘US’ VERSUS ‘THEM’, LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH YOUR ARMS OPEN AND READY TO WELCOME ANYONE TO LIFE IN CHRIST.

Romans 3:31

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31

When the believer is adopted into the Lord’s family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant.

Believer, you are God’s child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father’s faintest wish, the least intimation of his will. Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”?

Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness. Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, “Love thy neighbour,” but because Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, “that ye love one another.” Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, “Give to him that asketh of thee.” Does the Word say, “Love God with all your heart”?

Look at the commandment and reply, “Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already — I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute.”

May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ’s love, that your prayer may be, “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.

Woe is me

“Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar.”

Psalm 120:5

As a Christian you have to live in the midst of an ungodly world, and it is of little use for you to cry “Woe is me.” Jesus did not pray that you should be taken out of the world, and what he did not pray for, you need not desire. Better far in the Lord’s strength to meet the difficulty, and glorify him in it. The enemy is ever on the watch to detect inconsistency in your conduct; be therefore very holy. Remember that the eyes of all are upon you, and that more is expected from you than from other men. Strive to give no occasion for blame. Let your goodness be the only fault they can discover in you. Like Daniel, compel them to say of you, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

Seek to be useful as well as consistent. Perhaps you think, “If I were in a more favorable position I might serve the Lord’s cause, but I cannot do any good where I am”; but the worse the people are among whom you live, the more need have they of your exertions; if they be crooked, the more necessity that you should set them straight; and if they be perverse, the more need have you to turn their proud hearts to the truth.

Where should the physician be but where there are many sick? Where is honor to be won by the soldier but in the hottest fire of the battle? And when weary of the strife and sin that meets you on every hand, consider that all the saints have endured the same trial. They were not carried on beds of down to heaven, and you must not expect to travel more easily than they. They had to hazard their lives unto the death in the high places of the field, and you will not be crowned till you also have endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Therefore, “stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

The Fine Art of Blowing it

by Chuck Swindoll

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

It happens to every one of us. Teachers as well as students. Cops as well as criminals. Bosses as well as secretaries. Parents as well as kids. The diligent as well as the lazy. Not even presidents are immune. Or corporation heads who earn six-figure salaries. The same is true of well-meaning architects and hard-working builders and clear-thinking engineers . . . not to mention pro ball players, politicians, and preachers.

What? Making mistakes, that’s what. Doing the wrong thing, usually with the best of motives. And it happens with remarkable regularity.

Let’s face it, success is overrated. All of us crave it despite daily proof that man’s real genius lies in quite the opposite direction. It’s really incompetence that we’re all pros at. Which brings me to a basic question that has been burning inside me for months: How come we’re so surprised when we see it in others and so devastated when it has occurred in ourselves?

Show me the guy who wrote the rules for perfectionism and I’ll guarantee he’s a nailbiter with a face full of tics . . . whose wife dreads to see him come home. Furthermore, he forfeits the right to be respected because he’s either guilty of not admitting he blew it or he has become an expert at cover-up.

You can do that, you know. Stop and think of ways certain people can keep from coming out and confessing they blew it. Doctors can bury their mistakes. Lawyers’ mistakes get shut up in prison—literally. Dentists’ mistakes are pulled. Plumbers’ mistakes are stopped. Carpenters turn theirs into sawdust. I like what I read in a magazine recently.

Just in case you find any mistakes in this magazine, please remember they were put there for a purpose. We try to offer something for everyone. Some people are always looking for mistakes and we didn’t want to disappoint you!

Hey, there have been some real winners! Back in 1957, Ford bragged about “the car of the decade.” The Edsel. Unless you lucked out, the Edsel you bought had a door that wouldn’t close, a hood that wouldn’t open, a horn that kept getting stuck, paint that peeled, and a transmission that wouldn’t fulfill its mission. One business writer likened the Edsel’s sales graph to an extremely dangerous ski slope. He added that so far as he knew, there was only one case on record of an Edsel ever being stolen.

And how about that famous tower in Italy? The “leaning tower,” almost twenty feet out of perpendicular. The guy that planned that foundation to be only ten feet deep (for a building 179 feet tall) didn’t possess the world’s largest brain. How would you like to have listed in your resumé, “Designed the Leaning Tower of Pisa”?

A friend of mine, realizing how adept I am in this business of blowing it, passed on to me an amazing book (accurate, but funny) entitled The Incomplete Book of Failures, by Stephen Pile. Appropriately, the book itself had two missing pages when it was printed, so the first thing you read is an apology for the omission—and an erratum slip that provides the two pages.

Among the many wild and crazy reports are such things as the least successful weather report, the worst computer, the most boring lecture, the worst aircraft, the slowest selling book, the smallest ever audience, the ugliest building ever constructed, the most chaotic wedding ceremony, and some of the worst statements . . . proven wrong by posterity. Some of those statements, for example, were:

“Far too noisy, my dear Mozart. Far too many notes.” —The Emperor Ferdinand after the first performance of The Marriage of Figaro

“If Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is not by some means abridged, it will soon fall into disuse.” —Philip Hale, Boston music critic, 1837

“Rembrandt is not to be compared in the painting of character with our extraordinarily gifted English artist Mr. Rippingille.” —John Hunt (1775–1848)

“Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant . . . utterly impossible.” —Simon Newcomb (1835–1909)

“We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.” —Decca Recording Company when turning down the Beatles in 1962

“You will never amount to very much.” —A Munich schoolmaster to Albert Einstein, aged ten

And on and on it goes. The only thing we can be thankful for when it comes to blowing it is that nobody keeps a record of ours. Or do they? Or do you with others?

Come on, ease off. If our perfect Lord is gracious enough to take our worst, our ugliest, our most boring, our least successful, our leaning-tower failures, our Edsel flops, and forgive them, burying them in the depths of the sea, then it’s high time we give each other a break.

In fact, He promises full acceptance along with full forgiveness in print for all to read . . . without an erratum sheet attached. Isn’t that encouraging? Can’t we be that type of encourager to one another? After all, imperfection is one of the few things we still have in common. It links us close together in the same family!

So then, whenever one of us blows it and we can’t hide it, how about a little support from those who haven’t been caught yet?

Oops, correction. How about a lot of support?

The Tailor’s Name Is Change, Part Two

by Chuck Swindoll

Colossians 3:1-17

As I mentioned yesterday, as stimulating and invigorating as change may be—it is never easy. And when it comes to certain habits that haunt and harm us, change can be excruciating. But it isn’t impossible.

I warn you, the number one enemy of change is the hard-core, self-satisfied sin nature within you. Like a spoiled child, it has been gratified and indulged for years, so it will not give up without a violent temper tantrum. Change is its greatest threat, and a confrontation between the two is inevitable. Change must be allowed to face and conquer the intimidations of inward habit—and I repeat the warning that a nose-to-nose meeting will never be an easy one.

The flesh dies a slow, bitter, bloody death—kicking and struggling all the way down. “Putting off” the clothes of the old self (the old, habitual lifestyle) will not be complete until you are determined to “put on” the garment of the new self (the new, fresh, Christian lifestyle) [see Colossian 3:9–10]. The tailor’s name is Change, and he is a master at fitting your frame. But the process will be painful . . . and costly.

Change—real change—takes place slowly. In first gear, not overdrive. Far too many Christians get discouraged and give up. Like ice skating or mastering a musical instrument or learning to water ski, certain techniques have to be discovered and developed in the daily discipline of living. Breaking habit patterns you established during the passing of years cannot occur in a few brief days. Remember that. “Instant” change is as rare as it is phony.

God did not give us His Word to satisfy our curiosity; He gave it to change our lives. Can you name a couple of specific changes God has implemented in your life during the past six or eight months? Has He been allowed, for example, to change your attitude toward someone . . . or an area of stubbornness . . . or a deep-seated habit that has hurt your home and hindered your relationship with others for a long, long time . . . or a pattern of discourtesy in your driving . . . or a profane tongue . . . or cheating . . . or laziness?

Perhaps a better question would be, “Exactly what changes do you have on your personal drawing board?”—or—”What are you asking the Lord to alter and adjust in your life that needs immediate attention?”

The tailor’s real name is the Holy Spirit. You can count on Him to dispose of your old threadbare wardrobe as quickly as He outfits you with the new. By the way, He’s also on call twenty-four hours a day when you have the urge to slip into the old duds “just one more time.” If you ask Him, He’ll help you remember what you looked like on the day you first walked into His shop. He has a mirror with memories—the Bible.

‘Nuff said.