Thursday, February 23, 2012

Open Minds

When I taught in a Christian School in Virginia, our school administrator was originally from Buffalo. When it came to snowy days in the wintertime, we knew there would be no days off unless the conditions were really bad. There would be the most ominous of weather reports but, Mr. S would say, “Let’s wait to see if the snow really comes, before cancelling school”. And often, despite the predictions, no snow came and we had school. One winter was exceptionally snowy for Central Virginia. We actually did have some school snow days, but Mr. S still held his ground and would not issue a school closing until there was significant snow on the ground. After all, when you are from Buffalo, what is a few inches of fresh white powder? One day Mr. S was out of town. The high school principal was in charge. There was a forecast for heavy snow. This man, who had been raised in the South, called off school for the day. No snow came. Not even a flake. Upon his return, Mr. S was not happy.

How many times do we make decisions as did this Southern gentleman, before we have all the facts? We hear rumors and pass judgment. We see clever advertisements and vote for an attractive candidate. We read about proposed changes to our society and jump to conclusions. How much difficulty, we could have avoided if we were only willing to wait until we had all the facts? It pays to be reserve judgement and our decision until we have all the facts.

However, is this what being open minded is all about. All too often, there are those who have the necessary facts but refuse to make a decision. They pride themselves at being open-minded when in actuality they are just being indecisive. What they see as an indication of having a strong character is a sign they really have a weak one. There is reason to be open-minded until all the facts are in as was the man from Buffalo, but note he did not stay open-minded, but made a decision, and once his decision was made, he stuck to it. In this way one he avoided the a hasty decision made by the Southern gentleman. Open-mindedness must not be a cover for not making a decision when facts are available.
One’s open-mindedness can also be a cover for laziness. When the necessary facts are available, but the person refuses to gather them, perhaps he is just being lazy or procrastinating refusing to make a decision. In effect, though he already has made one. Open-mindedness can be of value, but can keep us from taking actions we ought to take.

One cannot be truly open-minded about God. When you think about it, you either believe in Him or you don’t. You either receive Him or you don’t. The facts necessary for a decision are all around us according to Romans chapter one. In this case the non-decision is a decision to reject God’s invitation to a relationship with Him. To say one is open-minded only covers up the matter.

God does not seek to prove His existence. He simply states it as in Genesis 1:1. However, God does invite us to prove His goodness as we accept His promises. The only proof we receive is when we receive God into our lives. All Creation points to His existence. His Word points to His goodness. His Son on the Cross points to His love. One either rejects or receives. Any delay only brings unnecessary heartache, loss and pain.

Some wise guy has said, “Show me a person with an open mind, and I’ll show you a person with a hole in his head.” In the case of receiving or rejecting Christ, this statement is not far off the mark.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cheer Up, Things Could Be Worse

When I was down in the dumps a friend told me, “Cheer up, things could be worse.” So I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.

So you’ve heard that one, right? But how many of us are afraid of getting our minds off our problems because if we do so, somehow according to our thinking, things might get worse, as if our worrying somehow fends off disaster. The believer in Christ does not need to bear his burdens alone in fear and worry. As the old song says, “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” God has promised to be with us, to guide and protect us. So, why do we have such a difficulty in worries about tomorrows and in particular things that never come about. We worry about the “could be” so much that we miss out on the blessings that are all around us.

Now I want to be clear on something, before I go much further. At this point I may sound to you like I writing the Positive Thinking Doctrine, and this might be the case except for one thing. I am writing about the promises of God, but in order to have the promises of God you must be the child of God. To be the child of God you must repent and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, Who died on the Cross in your place for your sin, and in believing you receive Him into your life. To give the promises of God without preaching the Cross is a deep error that has tremendous consequences. Without the Cross we have no claim to the promises of God.

But what are God’s promises? Some teach that if we think rightly and claim it that God will make us prosperous in all our ways. However, 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us taht we will go through testings (difficult times) just as do unbelievers. There is no promise of unending prosperity for the believer in this life. On the contrary, there is the reminder that we will often have conflicts, persecutions and distress. And why should we think otherwise, this is after a world of sin that will someday melt away and be created anew. So what advantage is there to being a believer in Christ? The answer is in the second part of 1 Corinthians 10:13. With the difficulties, God make a way for us to escape. In other words, we are not apart from His love.

I never realized this truth of God’s presence during the middle of adversity as much as I did during the days that followed Hurricane Irene. The night before the storm, I prayed for God’s protection over us and that the storm would dissipate before reaching us, that is, I asked the Lord to spare us any difficulty from Irene. This was not to be so. The night following the storm I had every reason to expect from the reports of the extent of the flood that everything we had, was probably gone. However, I had an unexplained peace, that even if we had lost everything, it was ok. The day after the storm, I found, yes, there would be hard days of work ahead to repair the damage left from Irene, but that most of what was important to us had been spared. I felt an overwhelming presence of God’s love and that He was teaching me, “I love you. Do you love me enough to trust my love?”

1 Corinthians 10:13 proved true for us. We were not spared the difficulty of Irene. But God did provide a way for us to overcome. In the weeks that followed the storm, we continued to have difficulties, and I did my usual amount of worry about each one, until I remembered how God had spared our house. Wouldn’t He take care of these relatively minor difficulties as well?

If you know Christ, cheer up. Even if things get worse, He will be with you. Turn your worries over to Him.