‘Charting’ Your Course [v144]


‘Charting’ Your Course

Recently Google released a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books, and made it freely available for searching online. It contains a staggering 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008, in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.

A simple online tool, Googlelab’s “Books Ngram Viewer,” allows anyone to create a graph that tracks the use of up to five words or short phrases over time, giving the frequency of use per year.

Since I’m a tech ‘nut’, and that last month I summarized “The BIG Story” sermon series our church just finished, I thought it would be interesting, using Google’s new ‘tool’, to find out how often important Biblical words and ‘concepts’ have been used in the past few hundred years, and how their usage has changed during that time.

So, I went back over last month’s ‘post’, and picked out some very specific ‘groupings’ of Biblical concepts—so as not to get confused with too many ‘secular’ usages (though that probably happened a bit). I focused on 1760-2008 (it showed the most dramatic changes for recent ‘trends’):

“Old Testament”
“New Testament”
“Jesus Christ”


“God created the Heavens”
“Kingdom of heaven”
“Father and the Son”
“the Holy Spirit”
“Kingdom of God”
“God of heaven”


“Adam and Eve”
“Garden of Eden”
“tempted by Satan”
“consequences of their sin”
‘full of shame’
“hiding my guilt”


“Ten Commandments”
“Law of Moses”
“Moses led Israel”
“drowned in the Red Sea”


“covenant with Abraham”
“covenant with David”
“Ark of the Covenant”


“Jesus of Nazareth”
“Sermon on the Mount”
“The Beatitudes”
“Jesus the Messiah”
“Resurrection of Jesus Christ”


“the day of Pentecost”
“gifts of the Spirit”
“Apostles of Jesus”


“Revelation of Jesus Christ”
“fire of hell”
“condemned to hell”


Then, I thought I would do the following all the way back, and chart the major religious ‘leaders’ of the major religions—from 1500-2008:

“Jesus Christ”


Pretty much, all of the ‘phrases’ were used about the same amount over the past few hundred years—and their usage ‘trend’ were very similar to the one below for the term “Jesus Christ”—‘peaking’ from about 1810 to 1840; then a steep decline until 1930; then not much said until 2000, where there has been a recent ‘up tick’ of interest.

Ngram Viewer-Jesus Christ Only-1760 to 2008

The following will give you a bit of historical context with a list of major events around the ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’:

1455: Guttenberg printing press
1500: The “Renaissance”
1660: Treaty of the Pyrenees (Louis XIV marries Maria Teresa)
1685: Louis XIV revokes Nantes Edict and begins persecutions
1763: “Seven Years’ War” ends
1776: Amer. colonies declare themselves independent of Great Britain
1784: “Age of Enlightenment”
1802: Treaty of Amiens
1812: “War of 1812”
1820: Start of “Industrial Revolution”
1859: Darwin’s “Origin of Species”
1861: American “Civil War”
1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents telegraph
1898: Hague Peace Conference (Spanish-American War)
1918: WWI over
1929: America’s “Great Depression”
1938: First “Holocaust” event
1945: WWII over
1946: First electronic computer
1063: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech
1969: U.S. lands on moon
1988: Hawking’s “Brief History of Time”
1999: “European Union” (ECC)
2000: “Y2K” ‘bug’ fails to bite
2001: “9/11”
2002: Euro Mark currency introduced
2003: “Operation Iraqi Freedom”
2004: Tsunami kills over 280,000 in 14 countries
2006: North Korea’s tests–nuclear weapon and long-range missile
2008: World-wide financial ‘melt-down’

1455: “45 Word” Bible printed
1517: “Protestant Reformation”
1611: King James Bible
1620: Puritans establish American colony
1634: First Roman Catholic colonists arrive in America
1700: American “Great Awakening
1791: U.S. Bill of Rights-“Freedom of Religion”
1799: “Romantic Movement” (emotions over rationalism)
1848: “Communist Manifesto”
1870: First “Vatican Council”
1901: American Standard Bible
1906: “Azusa Street Revival” (Pentecostalism)
1925: Scopes “Monkey Trial”
1946: “Dead Sea Scrolls” found
1948: Israel becomes a “state”
1950: Chinese communism attacks on Buddism
1960: Various “New Age” movements
1965: Second “Vatican Council”
1967: Israel’s “Six Day War”
1972: “Neopaganism” begins
1997: “Mass suicide of “Heaven’s Gate” cult
2001: Osama bin Laden declares “holy war”
2003: ACLU wins to remove Ten Commandments monument
2003: “Under God” in Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional
2004: “Passion of the Christ” movie
2005: Pope John Paul II dies; Ratzinger is new Pope

[ Of course, I missed many ‘major’ events—I just wanted to give you some ‘context’ ].

So, what do these trends mean? Well, it seems that our culture is increasing in ‘skepticism’—but where does that come from? Do these comparisons give us any clues?

You would think, with all of our technological ‘prowess’, that the more ‘evidence’ we humans have available, the greater certainty we should have—right?

Well, instead, it seems we have less and less certainty: less “faith,” less assurance of “proof,” even as we rely more on our “logic.” Therefore, there must be a ‘missing dimension’ in our culture’s thinking. Are people simply forgetting the correct ‘relationship’ between faith, evidence, proof, and logic, is the ‘foundation’ of knowledge and wisdom?

So, I searched the ‘frequency’ of the terms “knowledge” and “wisdom” in the Bible, and found that it ‘referred to’ the “Word of God” (the Bible) and the “fear of the Lord” the most. So, I used the Ngram Viewer once again to try to determine any trend:


Notice that the trend increase started in about 1650 (when Puritan/Catholic preaching started to take ‘hold’), and peaked in about 1710 (during the “Great Awakening”), but ‘plummeted’ in about 1780 (during the “Age of Enlightenment”)—and these phrases have all but ‘disappeared’ from any mention since.

In the Bible, one will discover that “the fear of the Lord” is the beginning, even the ‘essence’ of wisdom [Job 28:28; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 9:10], the beginning of knowledge [Proverbs 1:7], endures forever [Psalms 19:9], leads to life [Psalms 34:11-14], and leads one to depart from evil [Proverbs 16:17]—and it’s all founded in ‘obedience’ to God’s ‘Word’ (also “word of the Lord”) [Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 30:5; Luke 11:28; Ephesians 6:17; 1 Peter 1:25].

Could the increasing de-emphasis on “the fear of the Lord” have anything to do with that ‘missing dimension’ I suggested? I think so.

One of the recurring ‘concepts’ of “The BIG Story” was about when one obeys the “Word of God” and uses it as one’s logical ‘framework’—life, the universe, and everything else makes much more sense, and one’s personal ‘culture’ adapts accordingly. At least for me, the Bible’s ‘message’ gives me a bright hope for today, and a certain promise for tomorrow.

There’s a song that says this succinctly, by “Burlap to Cashmere” called “B.I.B.L.E.” (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), telling about how God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to ‘save’ us from eternal damnation, and offer us a ‘COURSE’ to live with Him forever—if we ‘decide’ we want to do it [Lyrics and link to song below].

From God’s point of view, when the “Word of God,” however it is ‘termed’, is less and less emphasized—and when our popular culture’s overall “knowledge” has no meaningful causal or even statistical correlation with the “Word of God”—then I submit that—as historical trends show—something is fundamentally ‘wrong’ with our popular culture.

So, let me encourage you not to just ‘drift along’ (knowingly or unknowingly) with cultural trends. Rather, honestly investigate and discover what God values now and forever—and ‘CHART’ THE COURSE of your life accordingly!

[Excerpts from: John Wheeler]

To investigate whether the Bible is merely human of Divinely inspired, then visit the following link:


(Note: If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net)

I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all will send it to me…


Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth . . .

For God so much loved the world,

That He gave His one and only Son.
That whoever believeth in Him,
Shall not die but live on.

Living on . . .
Through the Son
Peace almighty
Living on,
Let your heart go
To the one.

Yes the road is narrow.
Yes the road is tough.
But whoever remaineth in Him,
Shall not die, but lift up.


Basic instructions before leaving earth [4X].

[Burlap to Cashmere]


This is a column about two ways of thinking about your life. The first is what you might call the Well-Planned Life. It was nicely described by Clayton Christensen in the Harvard Business Review, in an essay based on a recent commencement talk.

Mr. Christensen advised the students to invest a lot of time when they are young in finding a clear purpose for their lives. “When I was a Rhodes scholar,” he recalls, “I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking and praying about why God put me on this earth.

“That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.”

Once you have come up with an overall purpose, he continues, you have to make decisions about allocating your time, energy and talent. Mr. Christensen, who is a professor at the Harvard Business School and the author of several widely admired books, notes that people with a high need for achievement commonly misallocate their resources.

If they have a spare half-hour, they devote it to things that will yield tangible and near-term accomplishments. These almost invariably involve something at work—closing a sale, finishing a paper.

“In contrast,” he adds, “investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. … It’s not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, ‘I raised a good son or a good daughter.’ ” As a result, the things that are most important often get short shrift.

Mr. Christensen is a serious Christian. At university, he was the starting center on his basketball team and refused to play in the championship game of an important tournament because it was scheduled for a Sunday. But he combines a Christian spirit with business methodology. In plotting out a personal and spiritual life, he applies the models and theories he developed as a strategist. He emphasizes finding the right metrics, efficiently allocating resources and thinking about marginal costs.

When he is done, life comes to appear as a well-designed project, carefully conceived in the beginning, reviewed and adjusted along the way and brought toward a well-rounded fruition.

[David Brooks – New York Times]

Proverbs is a textbook of wisdom. Throughout, the book contrasts archetypes, the fool and the wise person. From these archetypes we learn what God expects from us. What does a wise person look like? The book of Proverbs was written almost entirely by King Solomon. Solomon has been known through the ages as a wise man, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book is a collection of his wisdom. It is unknown when the book was written except that it was early in the reign of King Solomon.

Solomon defines wisdom by example. Throughout the book, at least five major themes emerge: obtaining wisdom through knowledge and understanding, striving for holiness, avoiding anger and strife, keeping our own counsel and valuing hard work. The person that can apply these values achieves wisdom. In contrast, the fool is the antithesis of one who values these things. This comparison is made repeatedly, reinforcing the value of wisdom.

Obtain knowledge and understanding
More than all others, the point that Solomon tries to drive home is that wisdom comes from knowledge and understanding. Knowledge is the acquisition of a set of facts. Understanding is the ability to apply and build on facts. One without the other has little value.

He also makes the point that we obtain knowledge from listening. Over and over Solomon stresses that hearing instruction leads to wisdom. He further advises receiving constructive criticism willingly. These two pieces of advice are easily given but hard to follow. In order to do so, we have to set aside our egos and that is a monumental task. Here are some of Solomon’s teachings:

• “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:” (Proverbs 1:5)
• “Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (Proverbs 8:33)
• “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:9)
• “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15)

The cycle of holy wisdom
Solomon understood that all things come from God. He also knew that to learn about and understand the teachings of God was to gain knowledge. Beyond learning is the application of knowledge. He teaches that to understand God’s lessons is the way to salvation and that leading others to understanding is a mark of wisdom. We can gain this kind of holy knowledge and understanding by paying attention to the company we keep. If you seek understanding, follow those that demonstrate understanding.

If you imagine a circle you can visualize how wisdom and salvation are achieved. At the top of the circle in the 12 o’clock position, place yourself with a spiritual mentor. Moving around the clock to the 3 o’clock position, you’ve gained respect for the Lord and are learning to understand His holiness. At the 6 o’clock position, you’ve gained knowledge, understanding and salvation. At the 9 o’clock position, you are ready to witness and lead others to understanding. Back to the 12 o’clock position, you are ready to serve as mentor. We never really complete the circle. We will be perpetually the student and the teacher as there is always something new to learn and gain understanding of in the Word of God.

• “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
• “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)
• “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)

Avoid conflict and anger
More energy is wasted on conflict than anything else. Conflicts and anger are seldom righteous in nature. Even when they start out over a righteous cause, the problem quickly becomes the conflict and not the righteous cause. Entire churches and nations have been destroyed over foolish conflicts that could have been dropped had anyone been wise enough to walk away. Solomon teaches us to avoid conflict, strife and anger. Even the best argument is wasted on a fool.

• “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” (Proverbs 14:16)
• “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” (Proverbs 20:3)
• “It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:23)

Keep your own counsel
Sometimes the very best thing you can do is stay silent. It’s also good to reveal yourself to only a few people where opinion is concerned. Avoiding conflict is most easily done by not being drawn into it in the first place. This is achieved effectively with silence.

• “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” (Proverbs 29:11)
• “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs

Work hard
Most everything worth having has to be worked for and so it is with wisdom. We don’t gain knowledge and understanding by sitting idle. Solomon understood the value of hard work and made it a major theme of the Proverbs.

• “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” (Proverbs 10:5)
• “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:” (Proverbs 6:6)

With wisdom comes reward. Solomon’s teachings were aimed mostly at our spirit, because he understood that feeding our spirit would benefit our lives. Beyond the physical life, gaining knowledge and understanding, learning holiness, keeping peace and working hard are all goals of those who seek the Kingdom of God. The Proverbs of Solomon will help us reap success in this world and the next when we understand them and apply them.

• “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” (Proverbs 3:35)
• “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” (Proverbs 24:5)
• “He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.” (Proverbs 19:8)

[Cheryl Stotesbery – 2002 Pagewise]

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”
[Marian Wright Edelman]

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”
[Sandra Carey]

Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” [Proverbs 9:10].


Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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