Daily Devotions

"To Change or Not to Change, That is the Question"

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They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. (Psa. 112:7)

We live in a complex and conflicted world. The only way to make sense of it all and keep our sanity is to put our beliefs in a box we can understand which makes sense of our world. Trying to change someone else’s mind is incredibly difficult, because it feels like it upends our entire worldview. So, what makes us think that one conversation, or one political commercial, or one Bible quote, will fundamentally change someone’s mind.

This is hard for a pastor to accept. We get up each week and preach a Gospel message that we throw ourselves into. We intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally give ourselves over to others in an attempt to offer God to those listening. Actually changing someone’s mind with my sermon is difficult and can be disheartening.

Thomas Oppong, in this article, “Motivated Reasoning: Why It’s Hard to Change Your Mind,” points out, “that ‘motivated reasoning’ is to blame-and we’re all guilty of it. It’s difficult to persuade people with strong beliefs, values, or ideologies.” The more we learn and grow, the harder it can be to re-open decisions already made. It can feel like pandora’s box opening, not knowing how one change could impact all the other ideas we hold as truth.

We are also just as susceptible to resisting change as anyone else. It takes courage to face change. It can feel like the floor has fallen out from under us. The way I am able to be open to change, without the fear of losing my values or my faith, is to affirm a few foundations of belief. For me everything else can be considered, but Jesus will always be the Messiah for me. The Church is the “Body of Christ.” I am called to affirm and share the life-giving message of God, through Jesus Christ. Just about everything else can be open to a change of mind. I can consider change without fear, as long as those basic foundations are sacrosanct. Consider the foundations in your life. Change just might be easier to face, if we do.

"A Deer Longs..."

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As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

My wife, Jill, is such a compassionate person. We have deer in our yard regularly. We moved into our home in November, and we watched the deer get thinner by the day. Jill couldn’t take it, so she purchased corn and bins, and we became parents to the neighborhood deer. We’ve had more than 25 deer in our yard at a time. We have big bucks and little ones.

We love to watch the way the first one to the feeder calls the others. The way they save corn for the ones who are running late. But they also have a few less than flattering rules. Many of which upset my moral sensibilities. The females must stop eating and step away until the bucks are finished. The young ones must wait for the older ones to finish. If anyone attempts to break the rules, there is fighting.

They are so much like us that it hurts to watch them hurt. The biggest issue for our deer is their legs. It is amazing to watch the young ones run through the woods on their spindly legs, without fear of injury. Sadly, living in the city, the deer must face urban obstacles that often break their legs. In the past couple weeks, one of our young fawns broke her leg badly. Her back leg just dangles. It is painful to watch her go through such pain. Sometimes I wish we didn’t feed them, because then we wouldn’t have to watch them suffer.

The same is true with those of us who live our faith in the church. We embrace our church as a family. We pray for each other. We love each other. When some of us hurt, we all hurt. Why do we put ourselves through it? God came to us as Jesus, to embrace us, and hurt with us. He even suffered his own pain and death. We are called to be loving enough to reach out into the pain and be present with others in their hurt. To be Christ-like is to be brave enough to walk the hurt-filled road with others. The deer are a Divine reminder of how we are to live by faith.

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