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“Filtering Learning”- 9/13/15 Mt 22:37; Pr. 4:5-7; Rom. 11:33-34

?The Witness of Filtering Learning? Matthew 22:37; Proverbs 4:5-7 Romans 11:33-34 9-13-57

To see a video of this sermon click here:

v=b9zHpEKxPbE Have you changed your filter lately? Is it is strong a filter as the one you used to have? I am not talking about your air conditioner filters or your oil filters for your car. I am talking about what you allow to filter into your mind.?? The converse of that is what you filter out. ???? I. THE PROBLEM OF TOO MUCH INFORMATION- in the 1980s the band ?The Police? had a song that said, ?Too Much Information running through my brain. Too much information driving me insane.? Instead of just a few options today- we relish in thousands of options. So your cable TV will promise you hundreds of channels instead of three or four that I had when I was a child. I am sure that I do not watch 90% of the channels that are available to me. The internet has innumerable places to go. A year ago- 9/27/14 the number of websites hit a billion. In January 2013 there were only 630 million. In 1970 Alvin Toffler coined the term ?Information Overload? describing more information than the brain can handle at one time. Information overload leads to indecisiveness, stress, and even depression. The world will tell you that you should know everything. Reality is, only God knows everything. Learning is a great thing- but it is important to realize its limits. Our knowledge is not designed so we could build another Tower of Babel or become ?like God.? There is much truth to the verse in the Bible says, ?Knowledge puffs up but love builds up? (1 Cor. 8:1). One of the wisest men in the history of the world, Solomon, said ?I applied my heart to learning. But this was a chasing after the wind? For with wisdom comes much sorrow; and the more knowledge the more grief? (Eccles 1:17,18). He also said long before we heard of information overload or the printing press, or the computer or web publishing: ?of the making of many books there is no end? (Eccles. 12:12).?? In our day we have elevated knowledge to god-like status. There was even a movement among some who were teaching seminaries a few years ago to set up a goddess named ?Sophia? or wisdom; Gnosticism is an ancient heresy that believed knowledge about God gets us into heaven (not knowing God personally). Presbyterians have always valued knowledge, education, and wisdom as we will see in a moment. I am not an obscurantist who believes in hiding knowledge. I believe that if we knew fully we would know the truth about God and that this universe points to Him- however dimly and clouded with the shadows of untruth and pride. But too much of a good thing can become our God. Americans are spending more on higher education than ever before. Just last week there was an insightful program on NPR about how parents are promising their children they can go to any college they choose only to find out when they grow up that they really can?t afford ?any college.? The Wall Street Journal noted that the average student loan debt is a record $35,000 per graduate in 2015. The number of people requiring student loans has gone from 40% ten years ago to 70% today. The idea that the lottery will enable people to make colleges more affordable is a farce. 60% lose their lottery scholarships the first two years of college. The inflation rate for education has increased far greater than any industry- greater even than healthcare costs. Something is out of control here. The mind is important, but we should never elevate knowledge to god-like status nor should we sacrifice our souls in order to gain knowledge. This is where wisdom comes to play.

  1. THE TURNING OF KNOWLEDGE INTO WISDOM Wisdom is as psychologists define it crystallized intelligence. It is being able to sift through information, filter it, and bring it together to make sense. The fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom-why? The fear of the Lord- respecting Him enables us to make sense of life and what we know. Belief and respect for God is like the board on which the puzzle pieces fit together. When you have this wisdom, then you are able to discern what information is garbage and what information is valuable and what is in between. ?? If you have the fear of the Lord in you, and you want to please Him, then you begin to filter things through your faith. So that you see things differently. You do not see people simply as competitors for the resources of earth, but you see them as souls that Jesus cares about. The thing the world tells us to care about money, power, popularity, beauty and sex are not necessarily the most important things.?? Instead things like love, peace, joy, hope are more valuable. The wisdom of the people of God is that we look at life not merely like you got to get everything and have every experience right now because you may not get another chance. Instead- our perspective is that we will have eternity to see more than we are ready to be aware of.?? We are to use the minds God gave us not for our own benefit or even for just the benefit of humanity. We are called to go deeper and greater- to use our minds for the glory of God. Do the best we can with what we have. ? ???? Wisdom invites us to turn our filter on. Filter out the things the world thinks are important. There was a time when society believed in helping you filter out things- but that is gone. The Victoria Secret Commercials and the Viagra come on at news time. The internet is wide open and we cannot depend upon parental control mechanisms to limit TV or internet nor the friends our young people hang with. We cannot depend on people with power to be responsible any more. In some ways this gives us opportunities to teach our children and youth to filter out things that are destructive to the soul. In the previous era we could hide from talking about things- but now we must talk and we must filter. A wise person knows when to say no. It is the foolish who have no filter and have to say yes to everything if their friends are doing it or if it is in front of them. ???? George said he loved his wife. But the problem was George couldn?t say no. It started with one affair. Then it played itself out into an addictive lust with pornography. Soon his wife and four kids that he supposedly loved were left behind. Susan, had a different problem. Her problem was she could no

t say no to sale ads. If it was a bargain, she had to have it. She was addicted to saving money by spending money. Soon a large wall grew up between her and her family. She lost her home because she couldn?t say no. Now this is not just for Christians- but Christians are called to be particularly careful. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.

III. THE LIFE OF THE MIND IN THE SERVICE OF GOD- Wherever Presbyterians or Reformed folk have gone, education has also gone.?? The point is to use the mind in the service of God ? not use the mind for the service of ourselves or even simply the service of others. ???? Protestantism lives and dies by literate people who have faith- so that they can read the Bible for themselves but combine it with faith. Calvin Scholar John Leith pointed out that the crowning achievement of John Calvin was in founding the Academy of Geneva (now the University of Geneva). He also pointed out that Presbyterians and Reformed churches built 75 colleges before the Civil War. It is not insignificant that Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were founded by reformed/Presbyterian thinkers. The declaration of the Puritans upon the establishment of Harvard is telling. ?After God had carried us safe to New England, and we had built our houses, provided our livelihood, reared places of worship, and established a government, one of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust. An as we were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard (a godly gentleman and a lover of learning, there living amongst us). In the Carolinas we have Presbyterian College, Montreat, Queens University in Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith, St. Andrews, Davidson, Lees-McCrae, Warren Wilson, William Peace University. Presbyterians have valued and still value the life of the mind. The problem is that too many have taken their studies and left God out- and others have kept God but refused to study. ? ???? Sometimes you will hear someone middle age say, ?I wish I knew then what I knew now.? What they mean is they wish they had the experience and the perspective- the wisdom. Part of growing as a person is growing in perspective and being able to turn information and knowledge into wisdom and having the ability to filter out the noise to hear the music. ???? Francis Collins was one of the founders of the Genome project that mapped out the human DNA that allows us to trace DNA and also help us with genetic treatments. He is now head of the National Institute of Health. That is one of the greatest human achievements of our generation. He grew up as the son of two Yale grads who never encouraged belief or going to church.?? He was a self-proclaimed agnostic until he began to think he should at least explore the possibility of the Christian faith. He wrote a book called, ?The Language of God: A Scientist PresentsEvidence for Belief.? He believes the Bible best explains the God of the universe and that we should not separate science from faith nor faith from science. But he had many who would tell him that he should always filter faith through their particular lens of science. For Collins, he seeks to examine the world as it really is- for God made it. He also seeks to examine the Bible and scriptures because God made the scriptures as well. Where is your filter for life? How strong is it? God can give you power to sustain your marriage to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs. God can give you the grace to say no to things you know are not helpful or healthful to you. He can help you to filter through the muck of life by the Holy Spirit speaking to you through Holy Scripture. Fear the Lord, and let Him help you filter things through.