When it comes to discerning truth from error, sometimes it’s in plain sight. The error sticks out like the ugly duckling. But oftentimes false doctrine is hidden with biblical words, Christian clichés, half-truths, and near-truths. Spurgeon’s words sum up discernment succinctly; it’s usually the difference between right and almost right. It’s like examining a well-done counterfeit painting—we need an expert, well-trained eye to see the tiny detail differences between the genuine and the fake. But how is this eye for detail trained? How do we strengthen our discernment muscles? We begin in God’s word—studying it well and hiding it away in our hearts—and we turn to church history and qualified sources to help guide us.
As natural as our feelings are, they don’t always communicate what is true. Our feelings often fall short of reality, though they can easily convince us of a different perception. But as believers, we are called to live by and think on what is true—not what feels true—and the truth of God’s Word must always prevail over our feelings.
When we think of ways to grow in our love for God and our neighbours, we often think of public or visible acts of service in which we give our time and resources: volunteering in church, donating money and clothes, babysitting for a tired mom, cooking a meal for a mourning family, and the like. But have we ever considered that loving God and loving our neighbours well means that we must know God’s Word well?
Maybe you have felt that too, that grasping in the air for faith while your hope is depleted. What kind of counsel and encouragement have you found in those times? Were you told that your miracle was in God’s hands waiting for your faith to be stronger? That you needed to work with God to get this miracle? That it’s time to brace up and just start trusting God more? This kind of counsel is similar to a mirage of water—from a distance it appears as a cool, refreshing drink, but in reality it’s only the sun beating down on the dry sand. Friend, if your faith is weak and you’re stumbling through a barren land in search of something to strengthen you, there is one who loves you, who supplies your every ounce of faith, even when you feel faithless.
Maybe this is only true for me, but I think when we spend too much time in our own heads, thinking about all that’s wrong and going wrong, our worlds magnify themselves beyond their true size. Small problems bloat beyond their true size. And while it’s valid to mourn and to acknowledge these difficulties, I’m seeing that sometimes what we really need is to take a step back and see how big everything else really is.
I struggled to find what I deemed to be adequate time in scripture with the tumbling of my “perfect” schedule. Meanwhile, I was still trying to figure out this new world of motherhood, breastfeeding and supplementing extra breastmilk through syringes, sneaking in sleep when I could, and throwing meals together in between. Rather than hours spent over God’s word, I curled up in bed at night to read a few chapters while guilt raided my heart. Moms at any stage can easily fall into the lie that says we must study the Bible a certain way, everyday. Though Bible study is essential to the Christian life, we must guard against Bible study legalism.
Rather than continuing to stumble my way through the same prayer each morning, I found a journal and started writing my prayers. At first, it felt awkward, almost forced, but soon it became my new rhythm. Maybe this is a practice you could take up, too. Though it may feel strange at first, doing so might grow you in ways you never expected through diversifying your prayers, focusing your mind, and preaching the truth to your own heart.
I avoided the Old Testament because I couldn’t make sense of it, and I really didn’t like how angry God seemed. There were times when the New Testament left me baffled and with more questions than answers (for example, the entire book of Hebrews). This disconnect begins when we forget the narrative arch of Scripture: the gospel. We need to read our Bibles with a bird’s eye view that sees how the gospel stretches over the pages of Scripture from beginning to end.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar circumstance, thinking to yourself, “If only I had [fill in the blank], then I could obey God better”? If only I had more time, friends who were more present, family members who weren’t so trying, a pet that wasn’t so needy, improved health, more resources, a good marriage, a church I agreed with on more theological matters, a mentor who had more time for me, this book that claims to change people’s lives, a seminary degree—then I could be a better Christ-follower. Have you ever heard that thought float through your head? I’ve heard it resound many times in my own, with a variety of things to fill the blank with.
The value of something can be proven when it stands the test of time. Like the hymns we sing at church on Sunday, or at home any day of the week. These theological melodies are timeless and are worth our time, attention, and voices still today. For me, the hymn He Will Hold Me Fast has greatly encouraged me and strengthened me through this first year of motherhood.
Do You Struggle With Anxiety?
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