Urgently Needed: The Right Perspective
If moms are to be faulted by their kids, I suppose it would be that they love their children too much. Of course, now that I look back on my childhood, I sure am glad that I was over-loved and not under-loved. I will take that any day!
But with over-love comes over-protection. I had my share of that with my mother’s super-protectiveness of her only son and baby of the family. There was a pasture-creek flowing nearby our house, and the neighborhood kids loved to go swimming in the deeper pools. But Mom found out and put a stop to it because the cows went potty in the creek. Of course by the same token, we shouldn’t jump into lakes or swimming pools because fish and people, ah, oh well, you know. If we are honest about it, there really is no completely hygienic swimming hole if push comes to splash.
SEEING THE DARK SIDE OF THINGS
In the old comic strip Calvin & Hobbs, Calvin approaches his mother and asks her, “Mom, can Hobbs and I go play in the rain?” Mother responds, “No Calvin, you may not go play in the rain.” Calvin asks, “Oh come on Mom, why not?” Mother answers, “Because Calvin, you’ll get all wet.” To which Calvin says, “But Mom, what’s so wrong with getting soaked?” And mother then shows her over-protecting love and says, “Because Calvin, you’ll catch pneumonia, get a terrible fever, run up a terrible hospital bill, linger a few months, and then you’ll die.”
Well that would take care of that idea for me too. I mean, is sloshing around in puddles worth the risk of getting deathly sick, running a high fever, being rushed to emergency and dying from a killer rain? Calvin, now looking out the window at the dangerous rain, says, “I always forget Mom that if I ask you about something, I’ll always get a worse case scenario.” And so Calvin goes and tells Hobbs what happened. To which Hobbs responds, “I had no idea that these little showers were so dangerous.”
Mom is like a lot of people. Their perspective on life is always gray to dark. One could say that they have a 3-D perspective – not three dimensional, but instead discouraging, disparaging and depressing. Only a mother could visualize her son in death throes when he is totally healthy and isn’t the least bit likely to get sick even if the rain does run down inside his shirt. Mother illustrates the choice that we all face, namely, having the right perspective or paranoia having us.
Which certainly illustrates how critically important it is to have:
“THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE.”
That is to say, the all important issue of how we see life and how we think about things! Are we pessimistic or optimistic, nay-sayers or yea-sayers, encouragers or discouragers?
SEEING THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THINGS
I love the story about the father who was so excited about his son’s upcoming birthday. All the more so because he had purchased for his birthday-boy a really neat tree house which he had ordered from a Mail Order Catalogue. It would arrive the day before his son’s birthday, and that day had now come.
Unfortunately the mail order company had made a mistake and sent the man a build-it-yourself sailboat instead. He immediately called the company and went into a tirade. The operator who took his call talked with an easy-going assurance and tried to calm the angry father down. She said to the Dad:
“PLEASE SIR, WE SINCERELY APOLOGIZE AND ASK FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS.
BUT LOOK AT IT ANOTHER WAY AND I THINK YOU WILL CONSIDER
YOURSELF BLESSED, FOR OUT THERE SOMEWHERE IS A MAN
TRYING TO SAIL YOUR SON’S TREE HOUSE.”
True isn’t it? The all important issue everyday of our lives, and especially in these dangerous and ominous days, is the way we look at life. Our outlook, our frame of reference, our perspective, the spectacles through which we see all of life! We are facing a great deal more than a botched mail order. Iran and North Korea threatening nukes! Israel hanging in the balance of radical Islamic anti-Semitism! The world economy going bad! Terrorism a daily way of death! Then national debt so colossal, that for generations yet to come to pay it off is going to be like an ant trying to eat an elephant. It will financially choke them to death.
It is so easy for all of us as Christians, in the midst of all of this plus the day-after-day mass murders across America, to find faith’s focus becoming very blurred. Christians of all people are the only ones in the world who should and can have a positive and hopeful outlook. After all, God promises His own in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Yet, in the midst of it all, I have sensed of late that my outlook on life can so easily tend to become miserable, morbid and moribund. Instead of being faith-filled I can become doubt-filled, and my entire Christian witness is then muted. Instead of being filled with hope, I can become saturated with despair. I have heard of late from my own lips lots of nervous chatter rather than calm assurance! So I have been praying more than ever as a good-news preacher in a bad-news world the prayer of Psalm 19:14,
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in
Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
FACING THE FACTS
No, no, no! When I talk about the Christian perspective, I am not talking about sticking our heads in the sand like ostriches and putting a rosy hue on sin and judgment. I have no doubt that God is in the process of judging America. We are no longer one nation under God! Rather we are trampling God under our feet! If we were one nation under God, our President, our congressmen and our judiciary would be seeking His face, obeying His Word, and honoring the God of our fathers. But they are not. You know it and I know it.
As a nation we have forsaken God, we have offered incense to others gods, and we have exalted the ideas and philosophies of heathen men over God. And one of the main gods of paganized America is the “Almighty Dollar.” Along with the other gods of “Materialism,” “High Living Standard,” “Social Status,” and “International Pre-eminence.” And now God is knocking down all of those idols, starting with #1- the economy.
The entire world seems to be spinning out of control in a deteriorating and wobbly financial orbit. It is not only America that is in this fiscal mess, but now all the wealthiest nations of the world. as well. Somebody has to tell it like it is. God said to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:9-10,
“Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord
said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and kingdoms, to pluck
whereby they have forsaken me and offered sacrifices to other gods,
and have worshipped the works of their own hands.”
THAN SHE IS ABOUT WHAT GOD IS DOING.”
And now people are becoming tenuous about their own existence, and they don’t understand why! How does man handle it? Drink beer more than ever and have unending discussions about politics and sports. Theater attendance is at an all time high as man escapes into fictional worlds. Many men and women today, formerly in responsible positions in the business world, are considering suicide because their jobs and businesses have been plucked up like weeds! Coworkers have become the co-unemployed. What a difference a day makes. Suddenly America, still but a young woman on the historical and international scene, is looking more and more like the old-spinster’s mouse-eaten wedding cake in ironically Great Expectations.
THE RENEWING OF OUR MINDS
In all of this Christians like non-Christians, as circumstances decline and deteriorate, could begin to look ahead to the future as a life-sentence in prison rather than eternal life now in Jesus and climaxing in Heaven forever. Someone has defined Christian discipleship in the following way:
“CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP IS A LIFELONG PROCESS IN THE GROWTH
And let us hasten to add that nowhere in these days do we need this continual growth and maturing process than in our basic mentality and outlook on life. Are we seeing life through Christian eyes or through the world’s eyes? Are we seeing through God’s eyes or man’s eyes? Is ours a Christian perspective or a heathen perspective? Do we have the peace of God or the panic of man?
In part this is what Paul is addressing in the well-known Romans 12:2a where he commands us with very pointed words,
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your mind….”
There are other translations of Romans 12:2 that may be helpful to us, such as the Williams Translation,
“BY THE NEW IDEAS THAT MOLD YOUR MIND, CONTINUE TO
The 20th Century Translation which I really like here says,
“BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE COMPLETE CHANGE THAT COMES
OVER YOUR MIND.”
Then the always helpful Amplified Version says,
“THAT YOU BE RENEWED BY THE NEW IDEALS AND ATTITUDES
OF YOUR MIND.”
Paul’s command concerning mind-renewal is stated here in the present tense. Critically important! If we don’t do this constantly, our minds will become stagnant, cynical deceived. We are never done with Christian mind -renewal. It is not a one shot deal. If you will, not being conformed to the world’s way of thinking but to God’s way of thinking can only be done by a continual sanctifying and sharpening of our outlook, our perspective and our entire thought process. This is why we read the same present tense imperative in Ephesians 4:23,
RENEWED THROUGH TRUE KNOWLEDGE
But how? The only way we can live the transformed life in our thoughts, words and deeds in Chrislikeness is to constantly undergo a radical renewal of our whole point of view and outlook on all areas of living. And the only way to experience that daily renewing of our minds is through ever increasing and deepening knowledge of the Word of God. We read in Colossians 3:10 these words,
“and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge….”
And as we read in John 17:17.
“…Thy Word is truth.“
Here alone is true mind-renewal. Here alone is true Christian psychology, Spiritual psychology. There is no valid psychology apart from the knowledge of God through His Word. I have heard it said about people who are in the dumps of depression that the last thing we should share with them is the Word of God. Keep God out of psychology! This is all an echo of secular humanism.
Can you imagine anything more blasphemous than the thought that God’s Word is psychologically and emotionally bad for people? Have we lost our cotton-picking minds? I am afraid so, which is why they must be renewed in the true knowledge of God’s Word.
“ONLY THE WORD OF GOD CAN RENEW OUR MINDS WITH A
CHRISTLIKE MENTALITY AND PERSPECTIVE.”
The truth is:
“IF WE DON’T LEARN TO SEE THINGS AS CHRIST SEES THEM, THEN
WE WILL NOT DO THINGS AS CHRIST WOULD DO THEM.”
“IF WE DON’T THINK AND ACT LIKE CHRIST, THEN THE WORLD WILL NOT
SEE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT CHRISTIANS WHICH WILL
NEGATIVELY AFFECT AND DISTORT THEIR IDEAS
ABOUT CHRIST AND CHRISTIANITY.”
“YOU CAN BE A CHRISTIAN AND YET HAVE VERY SUB-STANDARD
PERSPECTIVES AND SUB-CHRISTIAN OUTLOOKS.
THE WAY I SHOULD SEE THINGS AS A CHRISTIAN
Frankly, if I allowed the current national and international economic crisis to dictate my outlook, it would be one of gloom and doom, and I with many others would simply go daily from hysteria to hysteria. Instead of acting in faith, I would be reacting in panic.
The giant plane fell to the earth like a dying sparrow. Sirens screamed and men worked futilely around the twisted wreckage picking up bits and pieces of bodies. There were no survivors. The authorities concluded that the possible cause was VERTIGO.
Atmospheric conditions can tend to confuse pilots, even those of experience and tenure. They lose all sense of direction and perspective then, and they may even feel that they are flying upside down. Although all of the instruments point to the fact that they are flying ride side up! They then take the controls in hand, and from their own distorted outlook, try to right-side-up the plane and in so doing fly it into the ground.
Likewise, it is SPIRITUAL VERTIGO in these dark and stormy days that can easily lead us to a completely distorted viewpoint of our lives and circumstances. We then tend in reactionary panic to take matters into our own shaky hands and make very bad decisions. So I am learning now more than ever to keep my mind fixed on the instrument panel of God’s Word, no matter how things appear or what others are thinking and saying.
When everything around me seems to be spiraling out of control, and I am surrounded by confusing circumstances and confused humanity, doubts and questions begin to creep into my mind like, “Does God know me? Do I really matter? I mean, with all of the billions of people in the world, does He know what I am going through? When I pray, does He hear me? Psalm 139:1-4 comes to our rescue and enables us to fly right-side-up when it says,
“O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou dost know
when I sit down and when I rise up;
Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize
my path and my lying down, and art intimately
acquainted with all my ways.”
Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold oh Lord
Thou dost know it all.”
Before I think a thought, God knows it. Before I take the action of sitting down and getting up, He knows it. He understands and is intimately acquainted with all my ways. My words are spoken to Him in prayer before they are prayed by me. Not one moment or detail of my life is missed by Him or catches Him off guard. Nothing in my life slips through His fingers or escapes His attention. Nothing is out of control. He has it all covered in my life. There are no accidents, surprises or loose ends with God. He has it all in perfect sight. Awesome perspective on life! Christianity! If we really believed that, my goodness, we might not have anything to tell our psychiatrists except praise reports.
But there is so much uncertainty and danger in the world today. Economic threats, terror threats, nuclear threats and on and on the list goes. Threats to our basic religious and civil rights! I am protected with life and health and home and car insurance, but the protection all seems so fragile. I feel so vulnerable and alone now and then! I get an eerie feeling at times these days, and I am sensing queasiness in my stomach at times too.
I know in part where there sort of things comes from in many people’s lives., including me. We watch too much evening news between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. Trying to build up your faith watching television is like trying to build up your body and improve your health by eating donuts and brownies. God commands us hundreds of times and ways in the Bible, “Fear Not!” I have found it wise never to disobey a direct order from God. So it only makes sense not to feed on fear food, but to feed on faith food.
Listen as the psalmist goes on in Psalm 139:5-7,
“Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?”
Incredible! He is always with me. Always present! I cannot get away from Him and I don’t want to. I can’t escape Him even if I try to. If I go to the remotest part of the oceans, He is there. He has me protected from the rear when things sneak up on me, and protected from the front when there is uncertainty ahead. He protects my past and my future. His hand is laid upon me, and for anything or anyone to get to me to try to hurt me, it or he will first have to go through Him. He is guarding everything that concerns me.
I am not writing all of this from a distance. I shared this recently with my dear daughter Mary who is a single mom. She had a very good job as a legal secretary in a law firm in Hartford, Connecticut. She was called into the personal office this past week with 16 others, ranging from attorneys to paralegals to secretaries. They were all terminated, given a box to put their belongings in, and given $20.00 for a cab ride home. Now she faces finding work in a depressed economy with thousands of others. But how awesome it is to know that while she may feel alone at times, she never is? She loves Jesus, and she is engulfed in His love. Lonely perhaps but never alone! And as Paul writes in II Corinthians 4:8,
“perplexed but not despairing.”
Once a parent always a parent! I feel so unable to help and so far away. But oh the peace and joy of knowing that His hand is upon her! Such knowledge is too high for me too. This not only renews my mind, it brings the peace of God that passes understanding. Thank you Lord! Finally a renewed mind is beginning to blossom! Amen!