Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

Praying For Discernment And Changed Hearts

November 24, 2015

The headline was made for clicking–“Rick Warren: Paris Happened Because We’re at War with God.” I clicked. The article really wasn’t like the headline. Watch what you click online.

But it made me think.

There is evil in the world. We read it in the Bible. We can see it if we only keep our eyes open. I don’t blame Islam. Many followers of The Prophet are offended and aghast at the atrocities supposedly done in his name but which are just pure evil.

We also know both from the Bible and from experience that the only good comes from changed hearts. We need changed hearts to guide our reaction to circumstances.

A serious  question is whether people caught up in evil can escape and have a changed heart. Our only response from a distance is to pray for those changed hearts.

As for the article, there is no explanation for the comment. It came during a prayer. That is where we need discernment. There is so much sloppy thinking, uneducated opinion, cynicism, and bait for page views (and advertising money that come with them) on the Web, we really owe it to ourselves to practice discernment.

Praying, discernment, changed hearts (especially our own). Spiritual formation. It never ceases.

When Studying Practice Discernment Using Sources

May 20, 2015

Look at this, she said bringing out a printed page from a Website. Look at what they say.

“The NIV [New International Version] says this.”

This Website says this.

I’m not sure when they removed rigorous study from university undergraduate courses. These days, I often think many graduate courses of study are the same.

Not that I was a great scholar back then, but I have met and hired people for many years who will tell me, “I took a course on that in college, so I am an expert.”

My comeback in 1982 is what I would still say today, “You took an undergraduate course. You barely have an introduction to that field.”

More and more I’m coming across people with seminary degrees, M.Div., who seem to have only a superficial understanding of the Bible. Take a look at the curriculum of many seminaries today. What in the world are they really learning? Are they getting a proper foundation for a strong faith with ability to teach. (Not to mention my real pet peeve–no leadership training and experience. They send their students into churches to be leaeders when they have no clue. And those of us in the congregateions are much the poorer for it.)

But with Bible studies popping up like dandelions in the spring, where are the teachers with a background of serious study?

Oh, let us just Google it.

Google helps us find stuff that you could never find. When I was a graduate assistant, my professor had me researching for a chapter of a book he was writing. I lived in the library for a while. Found little.

But….

Google is only discerning when it brings you ads that the algorithms suggest would be interesting to you. Especially in Bible study, it will give you what it finds.

If you are using that for your education, you could easily be led astray. Theories and half-truths abound like an exploding rabbit popoulation. 

Picking your best guides should not be left to chance. Don’t believe everything you read. As I writer, I understand the irony.

By the way, the footnotes in your study Bible–they are not part of the Bible. They are the words of a scholar. Mostly they are of great use, but still consider the comments carefully.  And paraphrases. Beware.

Take care. Use your God-given brain to think about things before just clinging to a theory.

Again I warn, be careful and think thoroughly about what you read.

Don’t Turn a Spiritual Problem into a Political One

December 2, 2014

My heart continues to break over the fallout of the Ferguson, MO events.

One thing that really affects me is the number of posts on Facebook from my “Christian friends” that perpetuate a meme making the situation a political one. It goes something like this, “If you are a true Conservative, then you will back the police officer. Only the nasty liberals back the black man.”

The situation is far more complex than that.

Sunday I worshipped at Willow Creek Community church. Senior Pastor Bill Hybels read a carefully composed statement about the situation. He noted that there are stories. These stories may not contain all the facts of the situation (many of which may never be known). But the stories are different for each of the actors in the drama.

He was correct. People tend to believe a story. Trouble is, there are usually many stories. Each person believes his or her own story.

It takes vast amounts of courage to step back and look at other people’s stories. See how they believe them. And then start the work of reconciliation of the various stories into a common one.

That is part of the work of the Spirit. Politics only constructs sides to an issue so that everyone can complain about the other. The Spirit draws together so that one side of the many can begin to at least see the other sides. And then see that they need not be enemies. They could be co-workers for good and growth in the community.

Those of us who want to politicize the issue should just stay out of it. If you don’t have a solution, you’re part of the problem.

For those of us far away, prayer is a powerful part of the solution.