Discerning Eye

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Greeting to all Linwoodites!

Last Thursday I was driving to graduation (my LAST physical therapy session for my replaced right knee), and I watched something from my car – something that has stuck in my head ever since.

There was a man – I had never seen him before and I am sure I will never see him again – that I watched for about 15 seconds while I was stopped at a traffic light.  He may have become my new image of wisdom.  To understand, you have to picture this scene:

There was a garbage strike last week, and garbage cans had been left out for a number of days.  This man’s garbage can was placed within about two feet of his mailbox, both at the curb.  The homeowner had come out to the mailbox.  As I watched, he opened the mailbox, took out the contents, opened the garbage can, and right there before me and the rest of the world, he sorted his mail, discarding about 2/3 of it into the waiting trash can!  I was tempted to honk my horn and cheer!

Why?

We live in an age when we have access to more information, more viewpoints, more ideas and agendas than ever before.  “That’s good!” is probably your response.  Yes…and no!  Access to information is often very helpful – even critical.  However, along with that access there needs to be an ability to discern.  What is good?  What is helpful?  What is irrelevant?  What is destructive?

What we get from the US Postal Service is not the big challenge.  The challenge is what comes to us through the internet.  Again I am in awe of the amount of information that is quickly and easily accessible.  However, that growth of accessibility has far outstripped our ability to discern.

A pastor friend of mine tells about attending the Middle School orientation for his daughter.  She was attending a rather prestigious and progressive school.  During the orientation the Principal stressed that they strongly encouraged their students to think for themselves, and express their own ideas.  “We believe in the freedom of expression,” she said.  “That’s good!” my friend said to himself.  Then the Principal said, “We are committed to the belief that there is no such thing as a bad idea.”

“WHAT!” was my friend’s reaction (silent, of course).  And he thought to himself, “There are lots of bad ideas.  In fact, I had I had a bunch of them today.  There are awful ideas!  Slavery was a bad idea!  In fact, the idea that there is no such thing as a bad idea is itself a really bad idea!”

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8 offer some desperately needed advice to us.  This does not mean that we are never allowed to think about things that are bad!  It is not asking us to stick our heads in the sand.  But it is telling us that to discern God’s best, we need to dwell on the things that we know are of Him and His purposes.

What thoughts – what information – what influences fill your mind on a typical day?  How well are you able to tell the difference between the wonderful and the ridiculous?

When Solomon was asked what was the one gift that he wanted from the Lord, he answered, “Wisdom.”  If I were asked what was the one gift that I would want bestowed upon Christians (including myself) today, “discernment” would be at the top of the list.

Linwood provides many blessings for us each season.  I would hope that one of those blessings would be the opportunity to slow down, step back, and gain a better perspective on our lives – one that opens us to greater discernment.

Everyday there are treasures that come our way – truths, insights, experiences that can deepen our faith and the impact of our lives for Christ.  Yet, they are often found in the midst of a lot of stuff that needs to go directly into the garbage can.

May the Lord grant you this day the discernment to recognize what are treasures and what is trash!

The 2013 season is fast approaching!

In Christ,
Hu Auburn
Linwood Park Pastor

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