Tuesday Truth: Read the Manual

3D cartoon illustration of smiling african american female barista, standing at counter in coffee shop, taking order for cup of coffee. Generative AI

“Guess who I just talked to?!” I asked Jessica, with a huge grin on my face. She was a high school freshman who had just applied at her local coffee shop for her first job.

“The manager?” she yelled, excitedly jumping up and down in her seat. Her mom knocked on the office door to make sure that we were okay. Jessica came to the door and told her mom to calm down.

I laughed out loud, apologized to her mom, and told Jessica the tale of the interesting conversation I had about…Jessica.

First, Some Background

Jessica was came to see me because she was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and had been having a difficult time transitioning from being home-schooled to beginning public school. Admittedly, she had also just started high school as well—so I was shocked at her request.

Exactly two weeks ago Jessica had said she wanted a part-time job because she thought that it would assist her in improving her ability to “read the room”,  aka social skills, and receiving much-needed college “application filler” experience. I, wanting to be supportive of her request, decided to explore further the extent of how this change in her schedule would affect her present stress level and her general life. She assured me that she could handle all the resulting changes and the stress that would come with it. And, never being one to turn down a teenager’s positive attempts at “adulting” I reticently agreed.

Jessica is like a human stick of dynamite.  She’s intense, witty, intelligent, driven and persistent. When she made up her mind to do something, there was no stopping her. She took things very seriously and ended to take things literally.  That was one of the reasons why she finally decided to pull the trigger on getting a job. She meant well, but she kept having minor mishaps when misinterpreting social cues. She was a popular person at her school, and all her friends and teachers resoundingly labeled her as one word: “extra!” But, I’m sure we can all agree, that’s not always a good thing—and that’s the main reason why she was coming to see me, and I was concerned.

First Job Jitters

I was concerned because I knew how hard it would be for Jessica to manage all these changes.  I was also concerned, because, although she listed me as a reference on her employment application, and gave me permission to speak on her behalf, and share specific information about her to her prospective employer, I worried about how I would. I mean, I didn’t want her to fail.  I wanted her to succeed, but, realistically speaking, when you are looking to hire a high-school freshman, in her first job ever—who also has ASD, in a loud, busy shop, that sells scalding hot liquids, well, it’s a long-shot.

The First Manual

So, following that first conversation two weeks ago, she applied at the local coffee shop—a long shot for sure, but we were hopeful. In the interim, I assigned Jessica a thick book on interviewing skills. She began studying the book. I was shocked to learn that by the next week, she had read the entire book and came to the session with a BA-zillion questions for me. I answered her questions and we spent the rest of that session addressing the very real concern of how she could juggle all these realities.

The First Phone Call

Fast-forward to earlier today, when I spoke with the coffee-shop manager. The manager was a nice guy and, being a father of two teenagers himself, was very realistic and understanding. He only had two questions for me and both were related to the character of Jessica. His biggest concern was for the simple fact that the location was extremely busy, fast-paced, and somewhat loud, and due to his concerns for her ASD, he wanted to be sure that she would be fine with this. The second concern was for her attitude.

“People can sometimes be really selfish, petty, and mean—even to teenagers, and she’s gonna need to have thick skin,” the manager began. “I’ve just got to be sure that she’s not gonna…you know, snap on someone.”

“Thanks for your honesty,” I said when we both concluded that the job would be a great learning experience for Jessica.

My First Job

As I recounted that phone call to Jessica, she asked me about what I remembered about my first formal job—where I had to pay tax. I told her that I worked as a burger flipper at a fifties-themed McDonald’s in Apopka, Florida. Frankly, I thought it was going to be a simple job to learn and perform…but I was wrong! On my first day, I was told there would be an entire week of training that would consist mostly of my sitting in the back room and reading through, not one, but multiple binders that were each six to eight inches thick!

Well, I ended up reading every page in every one of those binders. Then, to make sure that I had actually read the information, I was required to take—and pass—a written exam on each binder. And I wasn’t told about this in advance! I guess McDonald’s was serious about me knowing my job.

Basic Instructions

In his book BIBLE: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, author James Rossetti describes the importance of interacting with the Bible in order to live an effective and happy life. Following the principles of the Bible will indeed make your life better (and make you better at life), but that isn’t the only reason to read it daily. The apostle Paul (who, before becoming a Christian himself had participated in persecuting, imprisoning and killing Christians) wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17, NLT).

Many inspirational books of many different faiths will help make your life better, but it is the Bible that will give you the key to eternal life. Correction: only the Bible will introduce you to Jesus, the key to eternal life.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16,17, NLT).

Jesus, through His Word, the Bible, shows the path to salvation. “But to all who believed him and accepted him [Jesus], he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:12,13, NLT).

Jesus, not long before His arrest and execution, prayed to God for His followers: “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word [the Bible], which is truth” (John 17:17, NLT).

All Time Best-seller!

The Bible is ancient and timeless, a masterpiece of literature. It reveals God’s role in human history, our place in God’s plan and the truth we need to guide us through life and shield us from deception. Here’s one clear expression of confidence:

“The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration. The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to humanity the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the supreme, authoritative and the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the definitive revealer of doctrines and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history.”

Is that a statement you can agree with? Billions of earth’s inhabitants, both currently and throughout history, have certainly done so.

The G.O.A.T.!

What if I told you that the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.), best-selling book was written over 1,500 years by 40 authors, including many who didn’t know each other? Furthermore, it’s the only book you not only read, but it reads you. One New Testament writer put it like this: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT).

God’s Word, the Bible, is not like any other book. It is not full of human ideas; it is full of God’s ideas. It is God’s love letter to us. “Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NLT). In effect, the Bible is God’s training manual for each of us as we discover how to develop a successful, effective and blessed life—both now and for eternity!

God, through His Holy Spirit, inspired Peter, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, to write, “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20, 21, NLT).

And God promises that daily interacting with His Word will guide you: “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105,  NLT).

God’s Word, the Bible, lets us know His will for our lives: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

God assures us that, through His Word, the Bible, we can know, without a doubt, His will for us. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).

The Golden Spatula

I ended up working at McDonald’s for six summers in a row and into my first year of college. I learned some valuable skills about working—and, don’t laugh—I even earned a 24-carat golden spatula! This recognition is reserved for only those cooks who achieve “expert” status at their job!

You, like Jessica, can not only achieve at work, but also achieve expert status at life and salvation as well. Sure, you won’t get a golden spatula. You’ll receive something even more precious and priceless: an eternal relationship with Jesus, and His peace, power and purpose in your life. God promises that, through His Holy Spirit and His Word, the Bible, He will save you! “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6, NLT).

Peter put it like this: “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (2 Peter 1:3,4, NLT). Don’t wait any longer. Connect with Jesus today through His Word, the Bible! I promise it will change your life for eternity!

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