Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beware The Fatheads' Parade

“Off with his head!” shouted the Red Queen of Wonderland, “Off with his head!”

The loveless and fat-headed queen, brilliantly played by Helena Bonham Carter in the recent iteration of the film, wanted to know everything about everyone, and, in her own twisted wisdom, dealt precisely and brutally with all who failed her scrutiny. Wanting to placate her, the subjects of the realm attached to themselves false and oversized features such as elongated ears and noses, and bulbous posteriors, completing the look of a kingdom in agreement and submission. The assembled court presented a fascinating and twisted parade.

Watching the movie, I wondered if I don’t unwittingly join a loveless and fatheaded parade as well. I’ll explain.

I have a long history of craving knowledge and insight, believing those qualities would be at the top of the gotta-have-it list for life. As I remember, grad school at USC was a seemingly endless immersion at the library, pouring through books and files and microfiche, interrupted only for fresh air and coffee. By necessity I learned how to research and found that knowledge was not only interesting, it provided protection against error as well. There’s a lot of value in that. Looking back, the fear of error became a big contributor to my desire for knowledge.

From those days to these, I’ve become a sort of glutton for knowledge that feeds insight so I can choose the best path, the right car, the proper foods, the most accurate and informative news sources, the correct candidate and the perfect position on anything and everything I should need to comment about. Oh, and it’s time I got a new cell phone, so I’m currently immersed in researching HSDPA+, LTE, UMTS, 4G, GMS versus CDMA, screen resolution, processing power, Android versus iOS versus Symbian^3, and which carrier has the best coverage, contract, and minutes for my bucks. This is SERIOUS! I don’t want to make a mistake and blow the decision, so I’ve got to get all the pertinent info I can, right?

But here’s what I’ve found: there is a knowledge and insight that renders the possessor as loveless as the fatheaded queen. It cripples its possessors by anointing them “Expert”, which, while making them feel good, comes with a heavy requirement: perfect judgments. We are not set up for that. Having become the crucified to this world, born from above new creation sons and daughters of God, we share now in the nature of our Father (2 Peter 1:3)—and that’s a nature of love. God is love (1 John 4:16); He doesn’t just have love or feel loving. God’s love never ebbs, it never is somewhere else, it never is too busy, and it never fails. He is love.

Love is in our DNA.

The Christian is set up for love—think about that—and the kind of knowledge and insight we’re to strive for is supposed to be the fuel of love.

The apostle Paul writes: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

What does God want for the Philippians and for us? Abounding love! You wouldn’t mind that would you? And what will happen then? We’ll be enabled to live—and live well.

What knowledge you’re going for today and what insight you’re getting will and is determining the abundance of love in your life.

Think of it this way: God knows absolutely everything there is to know about you. Does that sound scary? But what’s your favorite thing about God that He is always approaching you with? Isn’t it love? It is! Look, God has the goods on you—He knows all your dirt. He knows your heart, reads your mind (and your email), sees your activity—and loves you perfectly! And He doesn’t turn away from you so He can’t see your bad behavior or witness your ugly attitude. Ooh! I can’t look—Ralph looks awful today! God is always looking at the facts—He has all knowledge and all insight. And He loves endlessly. The facts He’s looking at affect Him greatly—I would say that what He knows and sees kindles His love! When He looks at you, love bursts forth from Him because He knows the facts!

Do you get it?

He sees you in Christ, His regal son, His magnificent daughter, His chosen vessel of and for His glory. That’s what He knows, that’s His insight, and love pours forth from Him for you. It abounds.

God knows all about Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He knows capitalism and socialism through and through, He knows there are differences between Nikon and Canon cameras, USC and FSU, corporate heads and government officials, and that there are benefits and risks to eating at McDonald’s. But so far, I’ve not heard a heavenly “Off with their heads!” (You may recall that He already sent Someone Else down that road.) Why not? Because His love, grand and happy, is never threatened. Something else fuels it—real knowledge and real insight.

Is that what you’re seeing when you look around?

If love is missing these days, then I suspect it’s because you’ve been looking at the wrong facts. If your recent history includes hot anger at Obama/Bush/Palin/Pelosy, and you’re convinced that you’re RIGHT about that lousy SOB, O/B/P/P; if your blood pressure boils when thinking that some people actually believe global warming is real (or fake), cap and trade is a good (or bad) idea, gays should (shouldn’t) be able to marry, the SEC is the best (worst), Apple is better (or not) than Microsoft, the Yankees are baseball’s best (worst), Brazil will win (lose) the world cup, and Obama bows too much (too little), then I think you’ve likely fallen into the parade of the fat heads. You’ve been too much about this world’s knowledge, and not only is love missing, but so is discernment, purity and confidence in Christ.

You may not be shouting “Off with their heads!” but you’re not far off.

Get out of the parade. How? In faith that Love is waiting and available, turn off the television for a few days. It might not be easy. By faith don’t read the newspaper or go to that newsy web site tomorrow—and for a few days. Instead, talk to God. Ask Him what He knows about things visible and invisible. Ask Him what His heart is for you. Ask Him what it’s like for those your flesh has lately been railing against. Crack open the book of Colossians, throw on some Steven Curtis Chapman or Tenth Avenue North. Take a walk. Get a great book—check my web site for recommendations (

It won’t be long before you’ll begin preferring the knowledge and insight which fuels love, and your appetite for that which makes you a worldly expert will diminish.

And you’ll be out of the parade of the fat heads.


  1. Stephanie Park Mendrala7:44 AM

    Love is in our DNA. So true...and I needed to be reminded of that. Thank you Ralph!

  2. Leonard Fredette7:45 AM

    OK then , but can I cut em just a little ????

  3. Joel Brueseke7:45 AM

    You had me at "there are benefits and risks to eating at McDonald’s." But why'd you take so long to get there! =D

  4. Christina Wing9:51 AM

    Fantastic! I really enjoyed reading this Ralph. This describes my hubby and it's a family joke..I tend to be the compleate opposite. Thanks for sharing and tagging me!

  5. Dave Lesniak11:45 AM

    Great insight Ralph, on the need to share the truth in love and from our weakness and from our level of vulnerability .... relationally with the dear folks whom Father leads into our lives, day by day.

  6. Sheila Vertoli11:46 AM

    Thanks for tagging me Ralph. Great word and reminder that 'Love is in our DNA.'
    I'll have to admit, I have said 'Off with their heads' during election seasons, in my heart. But, the Lord is so faithful when we allow ourselves to yield to His tugging on our hearts and begin to stir ourselves up in Him and prefer the knowledge and insight which fuels love. Once I did that my God became 'BIG' again and the fear of this world diminished.

  7. Mike Roncaglia11:47 AM

    Thank for the tag Ralph! Isn't it awesome that Father knows us better then we know ourselves and he's faithfully teaching us who we really are even when we act ugly, fleshly and fatheaded!

  8. Charles Spoelstra11:47 AM

    Ralph, I love what you have to say about the real reality. It's always inspiring, encouraging and intriguing. I'm going to chew on that verse some more. Love abounding in knowledge and depth of insight. That's beautiful, I don't think I ever stopped to stare at that one before. Thank you for tagging me, and thank you for being you.

  9. Melody Kimberlin12:09 PM

    Wahoo!!! I LOVE this!!
    I’ve been in the Fathead Parade and I’m falling out of line. This is so timely for me.
    Do you think God actually talks to both of us….at the same time…??? J

  10. Bryan Sullivan12:56 PM

    Have been guilty of the judgment part walking this path called 'divorce'. And its funny that you mention Steven Curtis Chapman... His "Beauty Will Rise" cd has been on my playlist rotation for about the past 9 months as I tread this path through my divorce. His song "Jesus Will Meet You There" has spoken the greatest to me.