I’m a little amped up tonight. In fact, I am pretty annoyed. But before you can understand why, it’s probably better if I give you the back story. And to really understand it, you should probably know that there are several types of stores that I really like. The top two are luggage stores and hardware stores. Each time I pass a place that sells luggage, I’m drawn to it like a moth to a light bulb. In fact, I kind of fancy myself as something of an expert on the subject of luggage. And let’s face it, Janet and I could take a cruise around the world and not have to buy any more luggage. We have it pretty well covered.
Anyway, back in January, we went to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. It’s our favorite resort in the world and we try to get there once or twice a year. It’s also the place that sells the Chocolate Rocks that Janet likes so much – I have written about that before. While we were there, we visited the outdoor store that handles very well known, high end brands. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that the Greenbrier had decided to handle the Filson brand – one of the finest brands in the world for outdoorsmen – great coats, luggage and a company that has been in existence since the west coast gold rush in 1848. A true American success story. I grew up on the stuff – my grandfather wore Filson coats and they last a lifetime – just fine stuff; in fact, I have had one of my Filson hats for thirty years and it’s still terrific. And it’s sold at the finest resort in the country. What’s to not like about this?
Anyway, they were closing out some Filson briefcases – I couldn’t believe it – so I bought one. A slim padded computer case, just big enough to hold my Macbook Air, a folio, power cords and a pen. Perfect, and from a great company. What a deal!
Until today…… when the handle started to come undone. I was so disappointed. Filson – it can’t be…. yep, it was…. So I called the Greenbrier to let them know and see what could be done about it. They were gracious, as always, and offered me a full refund or the ability to trade the bag on something else. I asked about a replacement bag and was told that although it was a little embarrassing, they didn’t handle my particular bag anymore. Why? Because they found out that although it said Filson on the outside, it was made overseas and it is a lower quality line that was started when Filson was sold several years ago. They assured me that the imported bag had not been spotted before it was on the shelf; and of course, I don’t think the Greenbrier did anything wrong – they were as taken in as I was.
In other words, the new owners of Filson were trying to play off the Filson name, but, with this particular line, were selling an inferior product. And those of us who knew the brand were none the wiser, unless we happened to visit the website and see the word “imported” at the bottom of the product description. I never did that – I was in a trusted store, buying a trusted brand, and had no idea that I wasn’t getting the real “made in America” thing. So tonight I’m getting ready to send it back. Another thing – I am a little embarrassed. Here I am, a guy who has purchased luggage and briefcases for 40 years, and I didn’t do my homework. I was taken in without checking it out. A rookie mistake…..
But it occurs to me that sometimes, we get sucked into teaching or preaching that isn’t the real thing. Oh, it looks real from the outside, but it’s an inferior product – not God centered, but trying to look like God. Tonight, I did a little research. I found out that there are more than 1700 occurrences of the phrase “I will” in the Bible. And the overwhelming majority of them are verses where God is speaking to His people. We call them the promises of God – things like “I will be their God and they will be my people.”
But you know what? There are 5 very famous “I will” statements in the Bible. You can find them in Isaiah 14:12-14. Here they are, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Sounds like some pretty lofty language, doesn’t it? Only one problem, read the last line again – “I will make myself like the Most High.” Like the Most High? These words weren’t spoken by God – they were spoken by Satan… Wow! Looks like the real thing – but isn’t.
My encouragement tonight is to be alert about who you listen to. It’s easy to get fooled – false theology is all over the place and it is important to know that you can trust your teachers. My prayer is that God will put the right people in your life to help sustain you during your journey as you grow in your relationship with Christ. After all, we don’t want an imitation – we want the real thing. And by the way, don’t look for a deal – because if it looks too good to be true, it probably is a cheap imitation…. I learned that lesson today. Grace and peace…