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It’s in the News

30 Oct

Read: 1 John 4:1-6

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Acts 17:11 KJV

 

Information.  Our world is full of it and, unfortunately, it isn’t always accurate.  (Just ask any college student who has used Wikipedia as a source for a term paper!)  While we may be quick to point to politicians, academics, and the news media as prime examples of truth twisters, they aren’t the only parties who are sometimes guilty of manipulating information.  Intentionally or not, Christians often fall prey to the same temptation to slant a story to elicit a specific reaction from others.  And in few places is this as evident as in the world of politics and government.

I won’t pretend that I was surprised at receiving calls urging the Senator to vote against bills which would result in the arrest of anyone carrying a Bible in public or fines for those who quoted its words.  I was, however, deeply surprised at the frequency of such calls… especially given that no such bill was ever considered either on the floor of the Senate or in committee. Perhaps even more surprising was that, when asked where they had received their information, nearly every constituent named a usually reliable Christian source!

It didn’t take long before I was checking the named sources for myself and, sure enough, many of them did warn of the threats posed by current legislation. Unfortunately, few of them took time to explain what the bills currently under consideration were actually designed to accomplish or how they were presently worded.  Indeed, without an extensive series of events (often involving the complete reworking of the English language, the passage of successive legislation with blatant malicious intent, and/or the abolition of our present form of government), the prophesied outcomes were unlikely to ever take place.  In failing to clarify their concern over the legislation (or the path by which they arrived at their concern), these “reliable” sources had created a panic.  And those acting upon their information rather than taking time to read the bill for themselves, looked more like fools than concerned citizens.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the New Testament writers took such care to commend the early Church for seeking truth in the original source documents.  While many pastors and teachers are both competent and faithful, there will always be a few who are not.  Only when we take time to confirm information for ourselves can we be certain that our words and actions represent truth and honor Christ!

Challenge:  This week, commit to discovering the truth.  Make a list of beliefs you consider to be “fact” then take the time to research them for yourself.  You may be surprised at what you discover!

Two Strikes

9 Jan

Read: James 5:7-11

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” – Romans 14:13 NASB

As a retail worker, one of my greatest frustrations has always been the abundance of customers willing to judge me not according to my knowledge or qualifications, but by my sex.  Long ago it was determined that women should be permitted to vote, hold down a steady job, and compete with others on an academic level.  Still, there are some people who seem totally unaware of this development and treat women as though they are less than competent to answer their questions… simply because they are not men.

Not too infrequently, I would respond to an inquiry about our product only to hear my customer utter the words, “Isn’t there a man I can talk to?”  And, not too infrequently, I would be forced to search the store for “a man” with whom the customer could converse.

One of the greatest pleasures when dealing with one of these customers is standing quietly to the side while “the man” shares exactly the same information with the patron that I shared just moments earlier.

I was discussing my frustration with the owner of the company one afternoon after he had adequately filled the role of “a man”.   “You see,” he explained, “It’s unfortunate, but with a lot of men, if you’re a woman, that’s one strike against you and if you’re under fifty, that’s two strikes.”

Sadly, as Christians we can also fall prey to the same attitudes.  While age, race, sex, denomination, or religious history should not be allowed to invalidate a person’s witness, we often allow them to cloud our vision – and miss what God would share with us through the lives of other believers.  Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul took such pains to warn the early Church not to judge one another, but to do their best to support each other in their walk.  The Church today, must do the same!

Challenge:  How do you judge those around you?  Do you make determinations about them based upon presuppositions about “people like them”?  Or are you taking the time to get to know individuals?  This week, commit to pay special attention to the other Christians in your life – and get to know them for who they really are, not just who you (or others) perceive them to be!

The Chill Before Dawn

12 Dec

Read: Matthew 4:12-17

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

2 Peter 1:19

I pulled my robe more tightly about me as the chill air swept across the deck… and waited.  Moments passed and then I felt it, the warmth of the sun as the golden glow of its beams illuminated my journal.  It is the same every morning: I step onto the deck for my devotional time and sit there in comfort until the rising sun ducks behind the house.  At that moment, the chill comes, sometimes so frigid that it feels as though winter has come early.  Then, just as quickly, the sun reappears, chasing away the cool air and bathing everything in its warmth and radiance.  I can’t help gazing upward as I ponder the old adage, “It’s always darkest just before dawn.”

So many times throughout my Christian walk, I have experienced the truth of this.  Trials, hardships, and misfortunes block my way, often leaving me feeling cold and in the dark, incapable of seeing my way forward.  Yet Scripture has promised that, even in the deepest shadows, Hope remains.  God has given us His Word as a light, a reminder that our struggles are only the precursors to that glorious dawn when we will find ourselves standing in His presence forever.  This is hope, indeed!

Challenge:  Today, take the time to seek God – especially in difficult circumstances.  You may be surprised at what you find!

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