‘Doubting’ Spring is Here [v111]

MAY 2008

I’M “DOUBTING” SPRING HAS SPRUNG—The last few weeks here in Michigan it’s been in the 70’s—I thought, great, Spring is here—and the calendar ‘says’ so! But this week it’s been in the 40’s—was I right?

Even though sometimes we “know” the answer to something, sometimes circumstances are such that we start to “doubt” if we are really right (like “when” Spring has really come to Michigan).

“A friend of mine is a huge basketball fan and he was disappointed that he was not going to be able to watch the championship finals–so he taped it and would view it later without knowing the outcome. He then could have the suspense of viewing it as if it was live. But he was so anxious to see if his team won, he rewound the tape back just enough to see the final score. He was elated to find out that his team won! So he rewound the tape back to the beginning of the game and enjoyed the game “knowing” the final outcome. It turned out to be a very close and exciting game. In fact, with only a minute left, his team was down by six points and it looked like there was no way they would win—he began to “doubt” as to whether he read the final score properly. Did he want his team to win so much that he “flipped” the scores?

Well, he was right, and it took almost a miracle finish to win. Have you ever had an experience like that, where you begin to question something you know to be true? Some little doubts begin to creep into your head, and all of a sudden, you’re just not sure any more.” (1)

I’ve got to believe that you have heard of, or even used, the term “doubting Thomas,” to refer to someone that won’t believe something unless they “see” it for themselves. The term originates with the skepticism of one of the disciples of Jesus that doubted the reports of the other disciples that had already been visited by the risen Christ. So when Jesus appeared again and invited Thomas to touch his wounds, to “see” that his hope had become a reality, Thomas’s faith, his certainty, had been “resurrected.”

Thomas serves as a reminder of the similarities between doubt and faith–both originate from the same place: a confrontation with the unknown. Doubt concedes defeat, while faith claims the victory. Hope became Thomas’s reality. The Resurrection renewed his confidence in God and motivated him to spend the rest of his life proclaiming the certainty of the risen Christ—helping to dispel other’s disbelief and spreading the Gospel all the way to India.

Doubt is OK—if it spurs you on to look for a resolution. Webster defines trust or confidence as the “belief in the statement of another; fidelity of promises; honesty of intention; word or honor pledged; firm in adherence to promise, duty, allegiance; loyal, true to an original.”

So, if you are torn between the “twin” emotions of doubt and faith about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, or what it should mean to you and your life—investigate. The Bible says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” [James 1:5]. If you are willing to “honestly” consider the facts and spend some time “looking” at life and person of Jesus, your uncertainties are bound to go away. A confidence in the righteous character of God will foster trust and hope, and that He will do what is best for us even when our circumstances foster doubt and despair.

It is probably the most important “question” you can ask yourself. Who was Jesus? Was He a great moral teacher or was He the Son of God? C.S. Lewis asked this: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic–on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

Pretty strong words. Blaise Pascal, a seventeenth-century mathematician, scientist, inventor and Christian apologist asked a question in his book “Pensees” that is now referred to as “The Wager.” The question that demands to be answered, of course, is this: If our reason is inadequate to find God, even through valid evidences, how does one find God? Says Pascal: “Either God exists, or he does not. But which of the alternatives shall we choose? Reason cannot decide anything. Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance a coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you bet? Reason cannot determine how you will choose, nor can reason defend your position of choice.”

At this point Pascal challenges us to accept his wager. Simply put, the wager says we should bet on Christianity because the rewards are infinite if it’s true, while the losses will be insignificant if it’s false. If it’s true and you have rejected it, you’ve lost everything. However, if it’s false but you have believed it, at least you’ve led a good life and you haven’t lost anything.

But the unbeliever might say it’s better not to choose at all. Not so, says Pascal. You’re going to live one way or the other, believing in God or not believing in God; you can’t remain in suspended animation. You must choose.

Doubt sees the obstacles,
Faith sees the way;
Doubt sees the darkest night,
Faith sees the day;
Doubt dreads to take a step,
Faith soars on high;
Doubt questions, “Who believes?”
Faith answers, “I”
[Author unknown]

[Excerpts by Ken Larson (1) and Jennifer Rosania]

Blessings….
Mark

[Click this link to read about the role reason and doubt in faith in God:
http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/sfm_pres/sp_q10_d3_1of10.html ]

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v111) for MAY 2008
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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THE STORMS OF SPRING
Spring is the greatest season of the year, isn’t it! What a delight to see the cold, freezing snow-cover melt away into the many rivulets of water. It is wonderful to feel the ground again under your feet, warmed and softened by the warm sunshine. Daylight lasts later and later into the evening. We can finally open the windows again to let the fresh air flood our houses.

Spring is also a time of unstable weather patterns, sudden showers, and changes in the winds. Spring awakens our hearts to a promise that warmer days of summer are on the horizon. It is a season of planting with the hopeful anticipation of a harvest. Along with our hopes go our prayers for rain and sunshine in appropriate quantities. We realize that all the efforts put into planting mean nothing unless God’s grace provides for a fruitful growing season, and a plentiful harvest in the end.

I have watched the development of thunderstorms on the horizon many times. A day full of sunshine can finish with a sudden squall in the cool of an evening. How often I have watched the dark, gray clouds on the horizon and thought to myself, “They’re really experiencing a heavy rainstorm over there. I’m thankful it’s not happening over here!”

A sudden change in the wind’s direction let’s me know I’ve spoken too soon! The clouds that once looked far away drift in my direction, billowing higher and becoming darker as they draw near. Flashes of lightning and a low distant rumble are becoming peals of thunder and jagged flashes of lightning. The storm is drawing ever closer. After scurrying around trying to tie down or put away everything in the yard that needs to be, I run toward the house and the first big drops of rain begin to smack against the ground. Through my windows, I can safely watch God’s natural light show proceed, as the rain washes the last dirty remnants of winter down the gutters.

One particular storm left an indelible imprint on me, completely changing my perspective ever since. The lightning and thunder were so intense, I was actually afraid. The lightning was striking so close to home that the flash and the bang occurred simultaneously! It shook me to my very core. I was in the presence of a force way too big for me to comprehend, much less control. I was at the mercy of these elements. I found myself feeling very, very small.

A thunderstorm can wreak great havoc on the earth, bringing awful destruction. At the same time, the same storm can provide much needed moisture and nourishment. Havoc and hope, fear and freshness – there is a wonderful balance to the ebb and flow of a thunderstorm. Job’s friend, Elihu, had obviously encountered such storms. Out of the storm he found an awesome revelation of God!

Have you ever known someone going through a great “storm” and thought, like Job’s other friends, that God must be really “working on” that person to cause them such trials? Perhaps God is chastening or punishing them for some reason we can’t see? It’s often our misconception that lulls us into a feeling of false comfort that God “wouldn’t do that to me.” We view life’s storms as harmless as long as they remain distant to us.

What a difference a day makes when the storms of life begin to draw closer and closer, until they crash upon us seem like they will drown us in a sea of troubles. In our arrogance we thought ourselves to be “untouchable,” yet in the midst of troubles we are brought to a place of helplessness, weakness, even defeat.

In times like these, we need to be reminded of who God is and what His purposes are. Sometimes, when God wants to do something new in our hearts, He brings in a storm to clear out old, dead rubbish while at the SAME TIME planting something new of HIMSELF in our hearts. How we need to be reminded of God’s unfailing love and wisdom, His superior perspective on our circumstances, His all-encompassing control over our troubles. How we need to learn to rest in Him, open our hearts to learn from Him, surrender our lives into His capable hands.

Sometimes God will calm our storms. Often times He will allow them to continue to call us to draw near Him. Either way, we can only find peace and calmness for our spirits in Him. Press in to God. Draw near to His presence.
[Paul Fletcher]

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PHRASE MYSTERY
What do these phrases have in common?

Dennis sinned.
Live not on evil, Madam, live not on evil.
We panic in a pew.
Do geese see God?
God saw I was dog.
Dogma: I am God.

They are all “Palindromes”—sentences spelled the same forward and backwards!!!

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DEEP THOUGHTS
If you get to thinking you’re a person of some “influence,” try ordering somebody else’s dog around!

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I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him” [Mark 11:23].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes and inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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