“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Inside God’s Truth, by Betty Carlson

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The late Charles F. Kettering, famous industrial pioneer, engineer, and one of the most successful and happy inventors of our century, stopped in a bookstore one day. The manager came over to talk to him. “I have a new book on thermodynamics,” he said. “I think you’d be interested in it.” Mr. Kettering replied in the Kettering way, “I’d like to look at it, but I don’t think it will be interesting though.”

In the book on thermodynamics there were about seventeen pages of differential equations on the second law of this technical subject, all complicated and obscure, as Inventor Kettering said, “… so dry and dusty that if you put a pile of them in a hydraulic press and applied a million pounds of pressure to it, not a drop of water would run out.”

One of the most refreshing qualities of this man whom so many people enjoyed was that he always spoke his mind. A friend once reproved him for his frankness. “You have no respect for authority,” said the friend. To which Mr. Kettering replied, “No, you’re wrong there. I have no respect for what someone thinks is authority.”

Truth: Simple & Straight-Forward
One of the keys to the success of this unusual man and the reason he communicated so well to others (he was one of the most popular banquet speakers in America) was that he believed in saying things in a simple and direct way. “A man’s language,” he said, “as a rule, is an index of his mind. … Personally, I believe you can simplify anything you understand.”

No wonder Kettering found the seventeen pages of equations dull and dry. He, in his direct method, had reduced the second law of thermodynamics to a dozen plain words that even a poet could understand: “You can’t push on something that is going faster than you are.”

One of Kettering’s strong beliefs was that engineers (and surely it is true of most of us living in this age, and not least of all, the clergy) are inclined to put formulas ahead of facts, and they lack the ability to transfer their thoughts in simple language to the general public. Mr Kettering, the chief of engineers, thought it was a great mistake for engineers to speak in the language of their trade and not the language of their listeners or readers. “After all,” he said, “it is well to remember that it is the customer, not the engineers nor management that runs this country.”

Nearly everything Kettering said has a lively spiritual application. If you and I want real answers to how to be happy and content, we had better go to the right source, and not to what the misinformed of our generation say is authority. The most authoritative book in the world is the Bible, and the best way to test whether or not that is a true statement, is to study the Book itself. Then examine the lives of those, past and present, who have believed the Book and the One about Whom it speaks. And most important, heed the words which open the door to fulfillment:
“He who believes on the Son has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

Much of our unhappiness hinges on the fact that we are apprehensive about tomorrow. But God has given us His sure Word in the life and death of Christ and in the true words of Scripture that we do not have to be afraid. As the Apostle John wrote in his simple and direct way under the guidance of the Spirit,
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).

Truth From The Inside Out
Kettering’s reduction of the second law of thermodynamics to, “You can’t push on something that is going faster than you are,” is pregnant with meaning for those of us interested in getting more out of life than a little food, drink, fun, security, and approval. It is not enough for us to read books about faith, go to church, attempt to do “good,” pretend to be happy, etc., no, then we are only pushing on that which is going faster than we are. What is needed is to be on the inside of God’s Truth and to be moving along with it.

To the believer, these are beautiful, happy words: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). In the position of faith in a real God who sent a real Savior there is no frustrating “pushing against,” but a real sense of being secure and a happy part of that which “is going faster.”

Right Side Up
Even back in the days when Charles F. Kettering was a country schoolteacher, he used his simple, direct approach. One of his first grade pupils was a child who could read, provided that she held the book upside down. The explanation and correction was simple once Kettering put his mind to it.

The child had an invalid grandmother, and she sat on a stool in front of the grandmother as she read to her, and as the little girl followed along, she learned to read. As Kettering said,“The question of right side up and upside down depends on which way you start to hold the book.”

The future inventor got a music rack, turned the book a few degrees each week, and so taught the upside down child to read right side up, because, as Kettering said, “You can’t go through life reading newspapers upside down.”

Quite a few of us today need to stop reading our Bibles “upside down,” and begin to understand the truth of His Word. It is vitally important that once we have truly gotten the truth inside of us (and have positioned ourselves solidly inside of it) that we put before the people we come into contact with on a daily basis in plain language the grand, glorious truth that in Christ only is there hope and a setting free for all, no matter how black and confusing life might seem on the surface.
“The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 121:8). Need we know more? May this suffice to keep us happy and hopeful yet another day.


Betty Carlson was part of the L’Abri Fellowship in Huemoz, Switzerland (founded by Dr. & Mrs. Francis Schaeffer) for nearly forty years. She has authored or co-authored numerous books, including: No One’s Perfect, Right Side Up, and The Gift of Music. In 2011, she passed from this life to be with her Savior.

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