Discernment

Seems like it has been a concern I have been wrestling with God since late last year…or maybe a lot longer.   We live in the age of an explosion of knowledge, ideas, input, opinions, theories.  There is every imaginable idea only a mouse click away on the internet or our smart phones.  What are we hearing?  What are we digesting and what are we giving out to others?

As a Christian the bible is clear that we are to test everything we hear and see….and ask questions like: Does this idea match what is in the bible? Or does it tickle our ears and make us just feel good?  The truths of the bible are challenging, perhaps impossible to live out.  The principles of scripture shake us to the core, challenge the ways we have known, and stretch us beyond what we ever understood.  I can tell you this truth is intended to challenge, change, conform us to new creatures, more like the image of god, and to shake from us the ways of sin and selfishness.

That is where discernment seems to be a rare quality among church going Christians. And that can be true for several reasons…..
1. We don’t know how to discern.
2. We have never been shown or modeled how to filter through everything using God’s Word.
3. Perhaps we prefer feel good, ear tickling, soft and fluffy things instead of being shaken to the core.
4.  Perhaps we prefer to not be challenged or perhaps we are not believers at all.

The idea of discernment keeps coming up over and over… and there is reason to give heed to it.  Last night i had the radio on when i was doing dinner dishes, and heard a talk by John McArthur that brought this whole thing home.  The illustration he gave was of driving through the south, and seeing a sign that said “Quilts for Sale”.  He followed the sign, thinking this might be a nice keepsake to take home to his wife.  When he arrived at the end of that driveway there was a run down shack.  He knocked on the door, and was beckoned in.  He looked at a man sitting on a recliner, with a huge selection of books about him… something from just about every philosophy known to man.  John said he commented on the book collection to which the guy said “Well, there is something good in every one of these here books.”  He shuddered to think that this man had no structure to his theology… that he was willing to embrace Mormonism, and Unitarian church beliefs as well as orthodox christian beliefs… a kind of smorgasbord of faith… a little of this, a little of that….  Then John said the woman appeared with a quilt that was absolutely ugly, every color imaginable, no discernible pattern, and not well constructed.   John thanked her, but declined the quilt.  As he drove out of the driveway it occurred to him that the quilt was just like the guy’s theology… a little of this, a little of that pieced together with no theme or goal.   Challenging to think that we can live a life without a goal, without direction, without ability to filter through all of the chatter.

Here is the link if you wish to listen to it yourself (click on the picture below to go to the grace to you portal – the message is 01/07/12):

gty_discern

This radio message only reinforced the concerns i have for the church as a whole, and for myself in particular.  Keeping the truth in center focus is critical, and spending time every day with God through reading the bible is essential to knowing what the truth is.  On our own we will run from things that are challenging, difficult, and uncomfortable.  I don;t want to ever be one of those people who once knew the truth and shirked it aside just like yesterday’s newspaper.  From the day I entered a relationship with the Lord my life has changed,and will never be the same.  And i like that.   I like the structure of having something that is absolute truth to rely upon… to use as a measuring stick for all other ideas and thoughts.

The message solidified in my mind how critical a skill discernment is, and how critical our leaders must  grab hold of it to filter out the many other messages out there.

As i grow older i realize just how fast time is passing, and how critical it is to cease every moment given to share truth, life, hope.  Having taken the time to spend with the Lord in his Word, discernment grows strong, and the ability to see through errors, to crush the ear tickling messages, and to refuse to be part of the fluff diet should be a normal progression of growth.

I also realized how appearances are not always as they seem.  We want to look at those who are put in leadership as having attained a greater understanding, filtered life more finely through the bible, or discerned how they are to minister to people through God’s Word.  In most cases the appearance and the actuality match.  But every now and then someone comes along to suprise us.  They seem like their walk and their talk are strong, but then they open their mouth and everything flies out the window.  It is these people that I plan to pray hard for.  Pray that God will discend upon them and give them a deeper sense of their calling, their purpose, and their platform.  And that God will resound in their soul so much that the only thing they can speak of is God, and the work he is doing in their life.

A while ago I attended a function and looked forward to the speaker, knowing their life had been filled with challenges, and deeply stretching life changing experiences.  It is in those turbulent life experiences that God molds us, bends us, perhaps even breaks us and heals us.  I was waiting for those nuggets, those “how i survived and now thrive because God…” but what came out was fluff…   They had a wonderfully attentive and seemingly hungry audience there, waiting for morsels, for truth.  It was at that moment I realized that looks are deceiving, and the ways that people resolve difficult times does not always give voice to God’s word.  It was much like John’s desire to find a beautiful country quilt to buy for his wife, only to discover the quilt was nothing he wanted or expected.  I hoped and prayed for a word of encouragement, a testimony of God’s sustaining power, or a verse that promised hope… and found psychology laced with feel good fluff…

So for this year of 2013 I renew my commitment to be faithful to God’s word, and to filter everything through a strong sense of discernment.   And i realize how critical it is to pray for others, and where possible encourage biblical literacy to combat all of the untruth out there.  Will you join me this year to raise the bar, toss out the fluff and begin to live every moment yielded to God?

Lord, I thank you for your word, the Bible, and for the truth for living that you give us.  This rich treasure accompanied by your spirit is all we need.  Help us to toss out all of the fluff, and to take up the practice of discernment, to speak the truth in love to those who may not know better, and to challenge those that do to grow stronger, deeper and more in love with you each day.  Forgive us for dabbling with other philosophies, for allowing people to tickle us or make us feel good… if it is not part of your plan.  Help us to grow stronger and more centered on you.  Amen

In keeping with building up your faith, i found an article that I wanted to encourage you to read… and do – it is practical advice that is easy to put in motion and to monitor:

 

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