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Tag Archives: Discernment

Letting the Donkey Make an Ass Out of You this Christmas

donkey[1]

What animal does the Bible say Mary rode while heading towards Bethlehem?

Easy trivia….but look it up and prove it.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Are you surprised?  How can the donkey not be there?  That is what we all picture and believe to have happened!

The idea that Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey comes from speculation and assumptions.  People do it all the time and it is dangerous.  Consider these thoughts held by many to be true: “God helps those who help themselves”, “wives must obey their husbands”,  and “God will never give us more than we can handle.”

Sure, if Mary didn’t walk she probably rode in on a donkey but we are never told that. We assume that. Assuming anything when it comes to God or the Christian life can be a dangerous thing.

Take heed of what you assume.  Chances are, something, somewhere,  has falsely crept in and it will make an ass of you if you stand dogmatically on it.  Maybe not in the nativity story, but when bigger ideas are wielded as if they were the sword itself it will always cause damage somewhere.  Remember that every time you see a donkey under Mary this season.   Remember to recognize and differentiate between assumption and truth.

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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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Out of the Closet: Deceiving Ourselves

I have met many people who deceive others but I have never met someone who wishes to be deceived.  All acknowledge that they want to know the truth and do not want to be tricked into believing a lie.  Furthermore, no one I know is willing to readily admit that they may have believed a lie.  It is shameful in a way and exposes a weakness.  Thus most people believe that what they believe is the truth.

But many unwittingly do believe lies.

Our extended family is a bit of a mess at the moment.  A nephew who has dropped hints of homosexuality for years used his college graduation party this last week to fling his closet door open in the presence of all who love him.  He emerged from his closet and his relatives had mere hours, some only a fraction of minutes, to formulate a response.

One uncle, only hours before the party, threatened to not show up on moral grounds.  He did not believe that homosexuality was right and did not want to appear to be condoning it.  His stance appeared hypocritical and narrow-minded even to me who also believes homosexuality is wrong.  What made it seem so hypocritical was it was merely his opinion.  It was not based on anything besides his perception:  he didn’t think being gay was right but he viewed what he does as right, just because he felt that way.  Unfortunately, there are many other things in his life and in his children’s lives that others could easily point to as being wrong based on some vague understanding of cultural norms.  And there-in, enters the rub.

The rest of the family lined up against him.  Who is he to call the kettle black?    On and on the self-righteous tongue wagging went until all, either politely or pointedly, agreed that the nephew was not doing anything wrong by living a gay life style.  The uncle who refused to accept it was considered to be wrong and needed to be chastised.

I commend my in-laws, nephews and nieces for wanting to be open-minded about something that they are in many ways uncomfortable with though none of them are big enough to admit it-they contend that it does not pulse them one way or another but the fact that they had to think through it exposes this lie.  I suspect they feel rather good about themselves for being willing to accept something they themselves would not do.  They feel good about themselves for they have not judged but accepted my nephew for his differences.  More importantly, they feel SAFE because they have eliminated through their tolerance any possibility of the finger being pointed at them in the future.   They went home congratulating themselves for taking such a loving stance opposed to the narrow minded one that insisted some sort of moral line was being crossed.

As for me, I sought to remain outside of the conversation because it was obvious no one was really trying to figure out the truth and it was therefore pointless to enter the debate.  Each had assumed they already knew what truth is.  Each was convinced of it.  Yet obviously one of the opposing sides has to be deceived because both can’t be right.  The strange thing is, if I have any discernment at all, all of them on both sides are deceived.

We all want to know the truth but what we want more often is for our pleasures to be granted and we get all bristly when someone wants to stand in our way.  People tote tolerance because they realize what goes around, comes around.  If I take the high road here, they might come back at me with the same high road.  So they all agree to allow everyone to do as they please.  Yet we each have this unexplained need to live rightly.  The only way to do that and allow people to live differently is to remove any moral grounds and replace it with something different-what makes one happy.

We welcome truth when it is on our side and dismiss it when it points the finger at us.  When it accuses us, we would prefer to live in a lie than accept truth.  One cannot reason with a stubborn heart bent on pursuing what they want.  They will find a way to justify their course in their conscience because nothing is more sacred to them than achieving what feels pleasing.

The truth however is often uncomfortable.  It will make us unhappy at times.  We love truth when it enlightens us but hate it when it accuses us.  To truly be happy, one must love truth itself, not how it affects us.  Deception happens when we regard what we love to be truth.

The folly of my family is probably obvious to most of you reading this but my folly is probably not.  I have found that there is no thought that I hold dear that should not be minutely examined.  Where have I allowed myself to be deceived?  What principle, right or pleasure do I cling to so tenaciously that the thought of releasing them makes me ill or despondent?  Why?  Look closely at what you love and determine how you guard it and why you guard it… never assume that the father of lies could not deceive you, even you, holy and blessed by God our Father!  Be careful, circumspect in all things, lest you fall.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Discernment, Spiritual Growth

 

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Deceived Discerners

On any given subject, I think it would be fair to say that people generally think their conclusions are right more than not.  As a result, most think they see more clearly than others, at least more clearly than those that disagree with them.   Absent of confusion, we believe we see clearly, and if there is a disagreement, that we see more clearly than others.

All Christians should have a growing ability to discern, just like all should be growing in evangelism, helping and generosity.  Having discernment though is not the same as having thoughtful convictions nor is it the same as having the gift of discernment.  One can be convinced of something and not have discerned anything.

There are those who think they have the gift of discernment but actually just have a conviction that they are right about most everything.  They don’t have discernment, they have pride.  In truth, they discern little.

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. It is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.  The gift of discernment often goes beyond that though and sees the source behind a word, deed or appearance: it determines if the thing in question is of the Holy Spirit, a mere natural imitation of the Spirit or a demonic counterfeit.

Out of all the gifts, I think this is one of the trickiest gifts to identify.  The reason is because we all (should) have it to some degree and (here’s why it is tricky), we all think we have it more than others do.  Crazy thing is, I think one needs to have the gift of discernment to even know if they have the gift of discernment.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Spiritual Gifts

 

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