Faith Like A Fake Truffle?

Thievery, knockoffs, and sabatoge…welcome to the treacherous world of truffles. It is, truly, a shady business.

Of course, truffles grow 3 feet under ground in forested areas, so it has always been “shady.” But something truly shady is going on – fake truffles! And they are causing a stir.

Truffles are big business. Italian truffles fetch around $3,000 per pound. Some White Truffles recently went for $120,000 at auction!

But the truffle industry is facing its biggest challenge ever – Chinese knockoffs. You see, Chinese truffles don’t really have a smell or taste so they aren’t worth much. But Chinese farmers have learned a trick to cash in on the truffle craze – mix their truffles in with expensive Italian ones!

First, they artificially color the truffles. Then, they place them in with the more pungent Italian truffles. That way, they take on the look, smell, and flavor of the expensive truffles.

On close examination, fakes are discovered. But often it is too late. Buyers pay big money only to be duped by the counterfeits.

I can’t help but think of a parable Jesus told about wheat and tares growing next to each other (Matthew 13:24-20). The workers wanted to pull up the tares, but they would have torn up wheat as well. Rather, the master said to wait until both were fully grown; then they could easily separate them.

Just by hanging out at church,  “Christians” might seem authentic. Read about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 for a good example. They may sound Christian, act Christian, and look Christian.

But a more thorough examination is coming. And counterfeit Christians can’t hide among true disciples on that day. You can’t “fake it till you make it” with God.

No Christian is more valuable than another. There are no lesser Christians who will squeak into heaven. There are no fake Christians who will sneak into heaven either.

Only those who are truly known by Christ will enter into the Kingdom. Each of us should examine ourselves and ask, “Is my faith authentic? Or am I just hiding among Christians, hoping to blend in?”

Practice “Divestiture Aversion” With Your Soul!

Richard Thaler, professor at the Booth School of Business, won the Nobel Prize for Economics this year. Thaler is known for his work on the “endowment effect.” Basically, It is the principle that people have a “divestiture aversion.” Or, in other words, people are unwilling to sell, or ascribe more value to things, merely because they already own them.

He and his colleagues ran an experiment in which they gave half the students in a class a mug for 22 cents. Then they told them to sell their mug to the other students if they wanted. Most would not sell, or they attributed a higher value than 22 cents to the mug they had just bought.

I heard a great interview the other day about the application of this theory: Bruce Springsteen tickets. Springsteen was playing, for a limited time, a 960-seat theater on Broadway. Tickets sold-out fast. A man, who got two tickets at face value ($400), was being interviewed about them.

The interviewer told the man tickets had gone for as much as $4,000, but the man wanted to keep the tickets and go to the show! He asked, “would you pay $4,000 for tickets?” “Of course not” was the quick reply. But, by keeping the tickets, that is exactly what he was doing, “buying” tickets and not getting $4,000 dollars.

Now, most of us would say, “that’s crazy, SELL!” But that is where endowment theory kicks in. You see, you don’t own them; he does.

Jesus once asked, ““For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” Do you have a price for your soul? Would the pursuit of physical “happiness” cause you to sell? Less pain? Fame? Nothing is worth a soul.

Most of us could stand to get rid of some stuff. But no price is worth an eternal soul. That’s where a little divestiture aversion goes a long way!

At least one person would not sell tickets to see Bruce, at any price. Shouldn’t we refuse to sell tickets to be with Jesus forever?

Banning Bowed Heads Is Not The Answer

“It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer. Coach Small’s conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee.”

Those were the words written in a complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) attorney, Christopher Line. They were a direct attack on East Coweta County, GA High School football coach John Small. The complaint resulted in the School District banning all coaches and employees from: “joining hands, bowing their heads, taking a knee or committing another act that otherwise manifests approval with the students’ religious experience.”

His crime? He bowed his head while the kids led a prayer. That’s all.

There are many terrible and confusing things going on in our country today. It is sad that many people don’t feel safe at concerts, churches, and in their homes. There are real problems with terrorism, mass-shootings, and violence.

What is the solution? How will we leave this world better for our children? Stop showing respect during prayers? Really?

Yes, I know the words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Is Coach Small Congress? Is he establishing a specific religion? Is he forcing others to bow their heads because he has?

Is there any serious individual who thinks that a respectfully bowed head is sending kids a bad message? As one mother responded, “What kind of leader would you rather have than somebody [who] would pray for their children, for your children, [and] for all of our children?” It just makes sense.

What if he had taken a knee in protest to their prayer? Ah, the irony!

Eventually, “every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:23). Bowing our heads when someone prays is not only a sign of respect, but it just makes sense. More bowed heads would produce more “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law” (Galatians 5:23).

“It’s For the Children” May Be Harming The Children!

India recently celebrated Diwali, a holiday which marks “the homecoming of the Hindu god, Lord Ram, from exile.” In the past, it was celebrated by illuminating clay lamps. These days, it is a massive fireworks show, approximately 50,000 tons. Now that’s a show!

But there’s a problem. Delhi’s air quality is poor. A study found that “half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have diminished lung capacity.” And fireworks exacerbate the problem. In fact, last year’s show caused so much smoke that a “toxic haze blanketed the city” for a week. Many citizens suffered health issues.

So India’s Supreme Court stepped in. They banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi. Of course, the ban went over with a hiss, crack, and boom among local merchants. Nevertheless, people find a way, and enough fireworks went off that it took over 3 days to return to pre-Diwali air conditions!

When asked about the decision to ban the sale of fireworks, one merchant said, “what do we tell the kids on Diwali: ‘Go pray, eat your food and go to bed? How will they enjoy that?” Another said, “If there are no crackers, then Diwali doesn’t mean anything – only lights and sweets. It’s too boring!”

Doesn’t mean anything? Even though fireworks are a modern addition, many said they might as well not celebrate Diwali without them. It would be too boring.

Hmmm…sound familiar?

I love a good fireworks show. But we can learn a lesson from the Hindu dilemma. More harm than good is often done when invoking the plea, “it is for the children!” The fireworks in Delhi add to pollution that is literally killing the children.

Has the church fallen victim to the same irony? In a rush to entertain, do we create apathy toward true, yet simple, worship? If we remove modern entertainment, is it “too boring” to worship God? Is, “for the children,” harming the children in the church?

I do enjoy a good fireworks show. But there’s a time for entertainment, and there’s a time for the pure milk of the word. May we use wisdom to discern the two.

#forthechildren