Sometimes people just hit the nail on the head. They say the right thing. They give a wonderfully surprising answer to the questions of life.
Here is one of my favorite examples.
Recently I had two separate conversations about the ministries of my Church with people. Both of them described what we were doing as a Church and neither of them was right about what they said. As we continued to talk I realized how misinformed the person actually was about the ministry. Those encounters got me thinking about a couple of problems with information.
1. Lack of Information. Neither of these people had any first-hand information about what they were talking about. They had heard bits and pieces from several people but simply did not have the whole story. I find that all people, including Church people, form opinions about people and ministries without having accurate information.
2.Biased Information. When you get your information about people and things from other people, you need to understand that it is coming through their personal lens. This can work two ways.
-First is the Negative Lens. It is hard to imagine but some people have negative views of people and ministries no matter what actually happens. As my friend used to say, “Some people are not happy unless they are unhappy.”
Honestly, sometimes this is deserved. I have held ministry events that were terrible. Things went wrong in every way and it was not a good experience. That does not mean all of my events are poor or that the people involved are incompetent.
-Second is the Positive Lens. There are some people who see the good in everything. The glass is always half full and they see the best in all events. Sometimes this is a personality thing and sometimes this is the result of their confidence in the leader. If you were a part of a life changing event then the next time it happens you know it will be great.
One of the hard parts of life is forming your own opinions and ideas about people and events. For you to form accurate concepts you need to experience it for yourself. You even need to ask questions about your own personal bias.
So the next time you start to praise a person or event. Ask yourself if you are being biased and have the right information. Then spread the praise.
And the next time you start to bad mouth something or someone, ask yourself if you have first-hand accurate information that is not biased. If you do, then take your right hand and lift it up and put it firmly over your mouth. I was taught, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
There is a great photo that is circulating the web…and the story behind it is just as good.
The picture is below and HERE is the story
I love to fish. I mean, I LOVE it. Over the Memorial Day weekend I was able to go fishing three times. I went early Saturday morning and late evening on Sunday and Monday. On my fishing trips I was able to see dozens of other people who enjoy fishing. I say that many of them “enjoy fishing,” but very few of them love it.
Let me tell you the whole story. On Friday I went and purchased bait because no bait store opens before daylight. Then I woke up at 3:30 am on Saturday and loaded everything up and took off. I drove for an hour to the dock and arrived just before the sun came up. The public fishing docks were empty and there was no sign of anyone for another hour. Most of the people like sleeping in, then grabbing breakfast, hitting the bait store before heading to the fishing hole. They don’t mind arriving later in the morning.
On my evening trips I headed down in the late afternoon and waited for the spot I wanted to open. I purchased extra minnows so that I would not run out and have to run and get more. Then I stayed until it was totally dark. I had even packed a light in case the fish were still biting after dark. Both nights I watched as people left the dock around six so that they could go home and get something to eat. But the end of the night there was only a couple of people left fishing with me. Oh, and the rain really drives them away.
On all three occasions the fish were biting the first hour of the day or the last hour of the evening. The majority of people totally missed it. They came to late or left to early to really get in on the good fishing. I am convinced that is because most people only like to fish if it is convenient. They like to fish and enjoy doing it, if it is easy and fits their schedule. They would never get up early or stay out late just to catch a fish.
I tell you all of this as a metaphor. I think the Church is full of people who enjoy life with Jesus, but they do not love him. They are never willing to rise early or stay up late. They like Church and will go, if it fits their schedule. Sacrifice is not part of their language or lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the Christian life is not very convenient. The greatest rewards of faith are given to those who sacrifice their time and treasure.
An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
“Well,” said the farmer, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.”
“Praise choruses?” said his wife, “What are those?”
“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer.”
“Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.
The farmer said, “Well it’s like this – If I were to say to you: `Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
`Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, MARTHA, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN.’
Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus.”
A young, new Christian went to his local church one weekend and attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
“Well,” said the young man, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.”
“Hymns?” said his wife, “What are those?”
“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young man.
“Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.
The young man said, “Well it’s like this – If I were to say to you, `Martha, the cows are in the corn,’
Well that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.
Then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on
the last verse, well that would be a hymn.”
Here are a few posts worth reading if you get stuck inside by the rain this holiday weekend.
* BONUS – We will doing a sermon series over this book and concept in the fall –
Finding Your Way Back to God