Messages and opinions seem to abound these days. Or it might be more accurate to say they take up most of the news cycle and talk shows. Everyone has an opinion about issue “du jour” and are all too ready to give it to the listening public. As a listening public, we need to be keenly aware of several aspects of the issue, such as the message, the messenger, and sadly the motive in the delivery. Suffice it to say we need to be an educated listening public, taking in as much data as possible before forming our own opinion.
In the scientific and research community, a research design must first be established that will discover new theories, test or validate old ones, or the findings used to set new policies. There are many other uses of research, too many to go over here. The reason for setting the paradigm in the beginning and then gathering data is to test your theory with the interpreted findings, not determine your findings and write out a theory that validates your paradigm! There are many ways to ensure research is done in a proper way by setting a good paradigm, but such is not the case with the issue “du jour.”
So many times on our news programs, a subject matter expert is brought on the broadcast show to give their opinion of a past event and speculate as to its impact in the future. The credentials of the expert are usually seen on a banner below them to add reliability and validity to their message. But it sometimes seems opinions are given by these experts that are neither valid nor reliable, because the news program wanted to be the first to break the news story or push what they think matters. As a result, very few actual details are given and the majority of their opinion is speculation. I would call this “data blindness” or “knowledge malpractice.”
This phenomenon is not new in our day and time. During Jesus’ day, there were several groups who refused to see prophetic writings of the prophets being fulfilled before their eyes. They believed their knowledge to be perfect and complete, and anything to the contrary was just plain wrong. This led to the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees experiencing spiritual blindness. They just didn’t believe what was going on in Jesus’ ministry, nor did they want to because it threatened their power and authority.
In the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus has returned to his hometown of Nazareth in the region called Galilee. As was his custom, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. On this day, he stood to read and was handed the scroll which contained the writings of the prophet Isaiah. The words he read very vividly described the reason and ministry for which he was sent by the Father. Once completed, he told those gathered the words he had just read were fulfilled that day before their very eyes. But all they could do was ask “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” The leader’s failed to see the outcome of all the data they had been studying for years! They wanted a different outcome regardless of all the evidence; one where they stayed in power and control!
It’s easy for us to form opinions about a great many matters, even using other’s opinions as our own to serve our own means. When in question, we should go to God’s Word to see what He says about matters, because in the end off all things, it’s only His opinion that really matters!!!
A word that can bring fear into students everywhere at any level – STUDY! Teachers and professors do their best to convey subject matter during classroom time, but work outside the classroom is needed to be successful. But try as they may, the professor just can’t get some students to understand it’s important to not only study classroom notes, but to also read the book!
Don’t think for a moment text books and instructional materials aren’t read. Students who are driven to achieve graduation honors will digest every page in the text. Professors will even pull one or two questions out of the text to place on test to reward those students who heed the warning to study. And of course, let’s not forget those professors who write their own textbook. They want a return on their investment of time and research to compile a tool for learning; to teach as much as they can to the students in their class.
I heard about a high school history teacher admit to his students “eighty percent of everything I told you in class is true, and the other twenty percent is made up!” The reason he admitted to this is history is elusive and no one has all the facts. Therefore, subjectivity comes into play in an attempt to fill in the gaps. History is like a paved road which has some of the pavement missing. We can see the trail, but some of the surface is gone forever from point A to point B.
Can the same be said about the Holy Bible? Some say it has been embellished in places and true in others. But how can we know if this is correct or not? To determine what the Bible is, we have to say what the Bible is not.
First, the Bible is very philosophical, but it is not a philosophy book. The Bible contains proven historical facts and events, but it is not a history book. It contains laws under which the nation of Israel was to live, but it is not a law book. It contains scientific facts as proven by leaders in the scientific field, but it is not a science book. The Bible is a book given to man from God revealing His Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Christ is the center and circumstance throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
There is so much more that can be said about what the Bible is and what it is not. Suffice it to say, it is a difficult book to fully understand. But if we agree it was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then one inarguable point remains – it is a spiritual book, one which can be best understood or discerned spiritually.
To read the Bible as an academic text is altogether possible. However, if we approach it in this fashion, we miss the intent of it, which is to come to a greater understanding and relationship with the creator of the universe – our Heavenly Father.
So get into the “Text” and study! We can learn a great deal in the “classroom” on Sunday mornings. But the Author wants us to study every day, and prepare us for the ultimate graduation to a place Jesus has personally prepared, and receive the riches stored up for us!
We see many things in our daily lives, some minor and some major. We get so complacent in our regular travels we sometime realize we don’t remember the last few miles we’ve driven, especially on Highway 5! Our mind wanders and we relegate the task at hand – driving – to second-level cognitive processing because we’ve become too used to traveling a certain road it’s almost like muscle memory, or as some would say second nature.
At one point in our lives most of us have been a witness to an automobile accident at an intersection. Even though we see the crash clearly, others standing on the adjacent and opposite corners see things differently. They have a perspective different from ours. For this reason, those conducting the accident investigation try to keep all witnesses separated before the statements are collected. It’s in this fashion the police can piece together the accident like pieces of a puzzle.
A courtroom is no different. Witnesses are kept outside the proceedings so as not to hear the testimony of other witnesses. They are brought in, one at a time, sworn in, and questions are then posed in a congenial way from counsel and a not so nice way from opposing counsel. Suffice it to say the experience of being a witness in a courtroom can be a daunting and sometimes traumatic experience.
Sharing your faith or “witnessing” to another can sometimes be just as daunting, and sometimes traumatic! The experience can be so unpleasant some have stopped sharing altogether. We’ve had doors slammed in our faces, been verbally rebuked, or had backs turned to us. It is not the reaction we had hoped for. But when someone is eager to listen, things go miraculously smooth. Words and scriptures pop into our mind like a script in a well thought out play, like someone was speaking the words into our ears. But just how can we determine beforehand how the encounter will go?
The sad thing is we can’t. When things go bad, we feel alone and like we’ve said the wrong thing. The opposite is true when things go well. Jesus called His disciples to do one thing above all others – witness. When Jesus called His first two disciples, Peter and his brother Andrew, He told them He would teach them how to be “fishers of men.” Jesus spent many hours teaching His disciples how to spread the Good News. He allowed them to stumble and learn. At the end of His earthly travels, Jesus gave all of them this charge – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We are commanded to share our faith to others by Jesus. So always be ready to share your faith so much so it becomes second nature to you. Study the Word and God will train you to spread the Good News. Sometimes we will stumble just like the disciples. But we can rest assured we can witness with authority, and we will never be alone; Christ is always with us when we spread HIS Good News!
Growing up my grandmother and mother both told me “don’t point fingers!” It was hard to understand at an early age just exactly what they were trying to teach me. And no, I didn’t learn after the first warning!! Many times, my hand was slapped when I continued to point because I didn’t heed the teaching point, no pun intended.
As I grew, I realized pointing a finger toward another was an outward sign of disrespect and in some cases aggression. A finger “poked” to the chest on the playground was just a way to either silence a classmate or to invoke a physical response. Regardless of the reason for the “poking”, it made both individuals appear less respectful to others.
In our world today there is a lot of finger pointing. We can open the paper or watch the news broadcast and hear about one country blaming another for violating their coastline or their airspace. Tensions then escalate and the verbal finger pointing turns to physical finger pointing, and the whole world hopes the finger pointing doesn’t turn into a “finger poking.” We all hold our breath in hopes cooler heads will prevail, whether between the two countries or with the help of a third party.
We seem to have a lot of finger pointing in our nation’s Capitol these days, both verbal and physical. One side of the aisle points an accusatory finger at the other, and it even occurs between the different branches of our government. Whether it is to draw attention away from one’s own actions, or to bring attention to another’s actions, the same disrespectful behavior initiates the controversial rhetoric – a finger point! If my grandmother was alive today, she would be doing a lot of hand slapping!!!
Finger pointing is not new to our times nor our society. In Chapter 3 of Acts, Peter and John stand before a gathering of people in a place called Solomon’s Colonnade, a place not far from the temple, and a place where Jews and Gentile alike could gather together. Peter had just healed a man who was born lame. The lame man was a beggar, and expected money but Peter and John had none. Peter told the man to stand up and walk in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to which the man did. His leaping and praising caused quite a stir inside the temple. This didn’t set well with the religious establishment of the day.
Peter and John moved from the temple to the Colonnade, where he was able to address Jew and Gentile alike. Peter begins to speak boldly to everyone, and it appears he places blame for the crucifixion on the Jewish people – but that’s not the case. Peter calls them “friends” and acknowledges their actions were out of an ignorance of the prophets and Jesus’ own teaching. He called all to come together, repent, and turn to God.
Peter’s message is still very true today. We need to stop the finger pointing in every aspect of our lives, and find ways to call each other “friend”, repent of our disrespectful ways, and let the presence of God guide our actions toward one another and in our worship to Him!
Twenty years might not seem like a lot in terms of church birthdays. Take for instance the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico which is somewhere around 400 years old. Some could argue that the oldest church is somewhere in modern day Israel, having been established immediately following the death of Christ, which would place it in round figures, around 2000 years old. Be mindful that no such church building exist today, only a mention in the Bible of a remnant of Jesus’ followers who had gathered somewhere around Jerusalem. (Acts 2)
So twenty years is a drop in the bucket when it comes to church age. But for those of us at the Mountainside United Methodist Church it is a milestone.
A Google search reminds us that the Romans created the idea of “milestones”. Long before the signs heading out of town indicating the distance to the next crossroads or the next community, there were stone markers the Romans placed at certain distances on a road to indicate how far a traveler had gone.
And now, thousands of years later, this practice is observed on interstate highways by those small green number signs (stones) every mile.
A milestone is the marking of a significant event in the life of individuals, families, organizations, and even churches. These events are to be remembered and honored.
On Sunday, April 7 the Mountainside United Methodist Church will observe and celebrate a significant milestone – 20 years of ministry in Hot Springs Village. It’s a BIG deal and hears why.
20 years of supporting local missions
20 years of providing biblical instruction to children and youth
20 years of offering comfort and hope during times of grief and illness
20 years of helping families “Start Over”
20 years of providing a place to worship God
You are invited to help us celebrate this MILESTONE on April 7 at 9:30. The founding pastor, Rev. Lyndol Loyd, will be retuning to bring the morning message.
There will be a reception following the Worship Service. When you stop and think about it, this could be a milestone in your life!
-Dr. Walter (Bubba) Smith