Before we start, let me say that I am going to try my best to approach this subject in a way as balanced as possible and in a way that attempts to not give indication of how I feel about Christmas. That being said, I think it is important for Christians to know some reasons…
I wrote recently on the fact that life does not always go as planned, and that can be frustrating if you are a planner like myself. Another week of homeschool has gone by and we are about to make some more changes to the plans that I made for our family. While I believe this change is going to be good, it is also a little frustrating because I put a lot of thought into the original plans. With that being said, my thoughts have turned to the idea of being flexible. Sometimes this can be good, and sometimes – not so much.
What situations are best to be flexible in?
Like I mentioned in my last post, plans will change, and you have a choice in how you react to this. For example, it could be that a flat tire means you can’t go meet a friend you haven’t seen in a while. While this is disappointing, you have a choice. You can let this completely get you down, or you can realize that these things happen. I encourage you to study and implement Philippians 4:8-9 and pray about your disappointment.
What if the change you are dealing with is bigger than just this? Perhaps sickness, job loss, people breaking promises, or even death has come your way. Maybe you are being hit by more than one of these. On the other hand, it could be that someone is treating you badly because of your faithfulness to Christ. If it is persecution, know that “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12”. While this is an intimidating thought, it is going to happen. While this is something that needs to be accepted, so also is the fact that God promises to never give you more “fiery trials” than you can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). That includes the everyday things as well as pointed oppression. As painful as trials are, they serve a purpose. I encourage you to study 1 Peter. There are some really great verse by verse lessons available through Tullstar from the 2016 TLC Retreat that were a great encouragement to me that you should check out.
God wants us to know that we are not here alone. He did not leave us to figure it all out on our own. When you don’t know what to do – ask Him (Proverbs 3: 5-6 & James 1: 5-6)! God gave us His Word, and when we, in turn, put it into our hearts by studying it, He is telling us what to do. This requires trusting Him. To be perfectly honest, that is something that has been on my mind a lot lately; and I understand is not always easy. Something that has brought me much comfort is Christ’s words at the end of Matthew: “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Amen. Matthew 28:20.
When can being flexible be bad?
While many situations call for flexibility, sometimes we need to dig in and see something through. You need to be able to commit. Without commitment to an ultimate goal, your flexibility can turn into fickleness. I smile as I write this because of some of the changes we are making with our curriculum choices and scheduling issues. I need to trust this decision and not be ready to flip flop next week. If I don’t, I would not be a good steward of my time or money. So, believe me, I am writing to myself here.
Before I sign off, I also want to mention another time it is not good to be flexible, and that is in your faithfulness to God. God’s Word is infallible. There are some who are flexible in their interpretation of Scripture or the need to submit themselves to it. Perhaps somebody you love has decided to indulge in something God spoke against, and you are wondering if maybe you have been wrong about the issue. I mean – if He really meant that was wrong there sure would be a lot of condemned people! The simple fact is, sin is pleasurable. If it wasn’t – no one would do it. It is also a fact that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If you bend the Scriptures to suit your life, as opposed to bending your will to His, it doesn’t actually make evil things good. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.
There is more that can be said about this, but I will end by encouraging every soul to remember that life is going to pack some punches. Roll with them…and when it happens turn to the Lord and His Word. It is literally epic.
Becoming A More Discerning Reader
The proliferation of fake news sites, YouTube faux journalism, and social media has produced an atmosphere online where people simultaneously post anything and believe nothing. Websites for news organizations fill their pages with click bait links designed to increase web traffic while placing important stories so deep in the recesses of the menus that a reader must search desperately to find anything of importance. The internet has leveled the playing field in such a way that writers of every stripe can now offer opinions, insight, and outrage on every topic in existence, plus several more, with all the accompanying ignorance, overreactions, and typos.
The internet has thus rendered the legitimate gatekeeping role of the editorial process inert, sacrificing quality for equality. Granted, editors have contributed to their own demise by their heavy-handed massaging of news stories throughout the years, relentless polling to influence rather than understand, and constant force-feeding of viewpoints that often ignore reality. In response, many today are calling for government organizations to start censoring whatever they deem to be “fake news sites” – even when they report legitimate news.
Herein lies the great and subtle danger as the Information Age gives way to the Misinformation Age. Judging the truthfulness of information and quality of writing solely by the viewpoint, personality, or style of the writer means that too many of us have abdicated the most important role in reading: discernment.
The current online climate encourages hype and sensationalism over analysis and substance. Writing controversial headlines simply to spice up rather mundane opinions has become the norm. In the drive to be noticed, writers increasingly become controversial, and – as they wade into controversy – often put their ignorance on full display. Of course, that only matters if people notice (and people only notice if they are discerning).
So, dear reader, next time you click on a link to a blog or new site, take the time to have a discussion with the author, if only in theory.
- Decide the purpose of the author in the first place. In some cases an author presents an argument; in others he only seeks to provoke a discussion. However, you must recognize the difference to appreciate and gain from having read his work.
- Examine the article and determine what assumptions the author has made. When the author suggests a course of action, ask what the motivation for doing so might be and what fundamental changes in thought it would require.
- Analyze the reasoning offered to see whether it is grounded in logic or built upon the author’s presumptions and pushed mainly through emotional appeal. Look for any potential flaws in the reasoning. The fewer flaws you find, the stronger the reasoning becomes, and therefore the more persuasive the argument.
- Think about what the author failed to take into consideration. Consider what you would have added or said differently. Then, at the end, be as critical of your own views and opinions as you have been of the author’s.
We must approach any author’s words actively rather than passively. We have the responsibility to do more than accept or reject; we must analyze and synthesize. Discerning readers discard verbal fluff so as to inspect the value of the author’s thoughts. This does not mean we should ignore the difference between (a) a well written piece filled with beautiful language and words that sing, and (b) a blog that stumbles over itself just to avoid basic grammatical flaws. To the contrary, at the heart of good readership lies the ability to appreciate the efforts of the author in all their depth by treating reading as a rigorous intellectual activity instead of as the mere imbibing of words.
In an age where the market has flooded the world with words, our job has in one way gotten harder. No longer can we rely on a highly trained expert to discard poor quality writing and immature thinking. This we must do for ourselves. While the rise of the internet and its related field of self-publishing has provided people like me a greater opportunity to have a voice, the cost for the reader is all of the noise this creates in the process. Therefore, curate what you read carefully, whether books or blogs. Become a discerning reader.
Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 – What God Desires
Tagged: 1 Timothy 2:3-4. God’s Desires, Salvation
A Son, Reading, and Encouragement
This morning I had one of those moments that makes me love being a dad. Our middle son is smart, intelligent, goofy, and loud; but he has trouble getting things to stick in his mind. It is not that he … Continue reading
1 Timothy 2:1-2 – 4 Kinds of Prayer
Tagged: 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Prayer
Tagged: 1 Timothy 1:18-20, conscience, Faith
Tagged: 1 Timothy 2:8, Anger, Prayer, quarreling
Sermon – The Brevity of Life
The last two days have been difficult for my family. First we learned of the hit-and-run death of the oldest daughter of some friends of our in Georgia. Then, we were very nearly in a life-altering accident on the way home … Continue reading
Tagged: 1 Timothy 2:7, Preaching, teaching, The Word of God
You must be logged in to post a comment.