STOVER: Have you read the instructions lately?

Published 2:42 pm Saturday, October 28, 2017

By LARRY P. STOVER | Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene 

Don’t you just love instructions? Those infamous words, “easy to assemble” arouse emotions of “anxiety and trepidation” in anticipation of assembling the pile of parts that surround you. I have decided that those words should be altered to read, “easy to assemble at the factory.”

When my children were young, we bought a swing set for the backyard. I will never forget that “easy to assemble” admonition that caught my eye when I opened the instructions. Two days later the project was completed with the added footnote that the “bolts needed to be tightened and adjusted monthly for the safety of children.”

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A few years ago, my son finished his coursework at Trenholm and became certified as a paint and body technician. Our family helped him get established with a shop. He was all excited after watching a YouTube video on the construction of this paint booth he wanted. The individuals were confident that two guys could assemble this monster in two days. The words, “Dad, we can do this,” still resonate in my ears.

The week arrived. Two tons of parts were delivered to the shop. After reading the instructions, we embarked on this miraculous journey. After the first hour, we knew that the guys on YouTube “needed a life.”

Four months later, and three-fourths completed, we hired a crew to finish the job. It took them a week. The electrician took two days and the modifications to the shop took another week. My greatest satisfaction was that there were parts left over and it still functioned.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “when all else fails, read the instructions.” That was written for guys who just know they can manage without them.

The truth is that instructions are meant to help us. Projects go faster; there are usually fewer frustrations; you don’t have to start over so many times; and, there are no leftover pieces.

This realization can help us spiritually as well. As Christians, we believe in the authority of the Bible. It is our foundation of moral and ethical behavior as well as the key to eternal life.

In my lifetime, I have seen America pay attention to those guidelines and I have watched as those guidelines have been “thrown under the bus” or ignored by a pluralistic philosophy of religion that has superseded those principles with humanistic ides that placate our emotions with a euphoria of instant gratification.

In the Old Testament, the two books of Kings give a detailed history of Israel’s pilgrimage from their leadership under King David until their fall at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. It is not only a historical document but a spiritual one as well.

The story of God’s people in the Old Testament is a great parallel for us today. Throughout the pages of each book, we learn how people struggle with everyday issues of life as well as the struggles that occur when people live in accordance with God’s principles and when they ignore them.

This spiritual roller coaster ride is well documented. The central message is very clear for us to understand. When people disobey God and chase after other religious ideas the consequences are disastrous. But, when God’s people humble themselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from their sinful disobedient ways, He not only forgives them but brings healing to their land.

Second Kings chapters 22 and 23 are a prime example. Josiah was eight years old when he became king. Israel had so strayed from God that the people had no idea what it meant to serve the Lord. When he was 26 years old a copy of the Covenant was found. He called the people to repentance and restored their relationship with God. They were blessed for many years because of his faithfulness.

Someone asked Mike Huckabee the other week what he felt was the greatest need in America today. One response was “a need for a revival in our nation.”

We need to read God’s instructions again. The Bible encompasses every instruction you need to become the person God intended for you to become. In an age when many Americans don’t like anyone telling them what to do, their lives have become a disastrous mess with too many left over pieces glaring into a face of hopelessness. Reading His instructions will make your life “Simply Beautiful.”