Posts Tagged ‘Great Controversy’

Battle for the Mind

YES, I REALIZE THAT THIS phrase is far from new or original. It’s been used often in book, article, and sermon titles. But truly, as never before, your mind and mine are each the focus of a pitched daily battle. Everyone, it seems, wants our attention—wants us to think about their stuff, their products, their needs, their cause, their points of view, their loyalties.

  • Madison Avenue marketers want to snag our attention with their products and move us to exchange our money for those items.
  • Preachers want us to focus on the things that matter to God.
  • Our families want us to focus on them.
  • Teachers hope we’ll pay attention to our studies.
  • Our employer wants us to think just a whole lot of the day about our work.
  • Political parties want us to side with their points of view.
  • The doc wants us to think more about taking care of ourselves.

We’re surrounded by voices calling out to us—enticing us, commanding us, challenging us, inviting us, pleading with us, and yes, tempting us. And right now, I’d like to add to the hub-bub by suggesting you think of all the thousands of things that pass through your mind in any given day.

Remember that little ditty: “Good, better, best—never let it rest—till your good is better and your better is best”? Well, I’d like to suggest too that in this daily battle for your mind and mine, the great enemy in the tug-of-war called the “great battle between good and evil” doesn’t care if you focus on the good or even the better, if he can keep you from focusing your thoughts on the best.

The Bible says that before the great Flood, they were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” Now, none of those things is intrinsically evil. God created us to eat, drink, and marry. But the pre-Flood residents of Earth didn’t do these things within a relationship with their Creator but instead of that relationship. Today, we have diversions aplenty in addition to eating, drinking, and marrying. For example:

  • The entire world of politics and political “debate.”
  • TV, with its “reality” shows and “idol”-style competitions.
  • Money concerns—making it, keeping it, spending it, protecting it.
  • Health concerns—coping with disease, trying to avoid disease, staving off the ravages of time.

Not all of these are “bad” (though some can be). But we each have only 24 hours in a day, and something will fill our thoughts and win the allegiance of our mind. The enemy doesn’t mind if we spend lots of time on the “good” so long as we don’t focus on the best. And the best? It’s that connection with our Creator and Savior that ensures not only our eternal life but our most abundant life now.

Today, the battle continues. Who today will win the thoughts and attention of your mind? Of mine?

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Why Andy Won’t Eat Watermelon

EVERY DAY THAT PASSES, the media brings its drumbeat of bad news—of sad, tragic, heartbreaking, horrifying news. Abused children, genocide, suicide bombings, campus shootings, torture, starvation, and more.

With all this pain, suffering, and violence, isn’t it a reasonable question to ask why God seems to be delaying on the Second Coming of Jesus? If He’s a good God, how can He look on and watch the misery continue and do nothing about it? Why hasn’t He stepped in to end it?

I hear the daily news and often recoil in shock and revulsion. So if that’s my reaction as a sin-damaged human being, how can a perfect God seemingly stand by in silence and apparent disinterest?

I say God had better have a mighty good reason.

I don’t, can’t, and won’t presume to know the mind of God, except as He’s shared some of it with us in His Word. But by considering the Bible’s overall message rather than cherry-picking isolated verses here and there, the Big Picture of the Great Controversy emerges.

And against that backdrop, I’ve personally decided that God does have a mighty good reason for letting the sin experiment play out to its conclusion. And at least one part of that reason has to do with immunity. Which brings me to Andy.

At an after-church, good-weather outdoor potluck, Andy moved down the line of tables groaning under the burden of casseroles and desserts, and near the end were some ripe watermelons. Nearly everyone sliced off a piece—but not Andy.

“You sure you don’t want a slice?” asked Andy’s friend next in line.

“No,” Andy replied. “I don’t eat watermelon.”

“Why ever not?” asked his friend.

Andy then shared a story.

“You see,” he said, “when I was just a kid, I lived next to a farmer who grew watermelons. One moonlit night, I and a couple of my friends decided to sneak through the fence into his watermelon patch and help ourselves to some fresh watermelon.

“We found a good one, but had forgotten to bring a knife to open it. Fortunately, scattered around the patch were some old tree stumps. The moon had slipped behind some clouds, so we couldn’t see very well, but we found a stump and brought the watermelon crashing down on it to split it open.

“That’s when—the stump moved! Just then, the moon emerged from behind the clouds, and we saw the old farmer sitting there, watermelon seeds and juice streaming down his face—and a shotgun in his lap.

“ ‘Hi, boys,’ he said. ‘I see you like watermelon. So please have some more.’ And with that, he pointed his shotgun at us. And he kept it there, making sure we kept right on eating.

“Well, we ate watermelon till we began to look like watermelons. Finally, we staggered out of the patch, looking probably as green as watermelon rinds. And I’ve never eaten watermelon since.”

You see, sin is so terrible that God never wants it to happen again. So through what we might call a form of divine aversion therapy, He has to be sure that human beings, angels, and the onlooking universe become so sick of it that once it’s gone, no one would ever consider even the first step down that path again. God has to be sure that the universe is totally immunized against the possibility, so that sin can never arise the second time.

God may have other reasons for the apparent delay in ending sin, but I rather suspect that this is one of them. And I trust that God knows what He is doing—and that He never does anything too early or too late, but always right on time.

Still and all, I so hope the Second Coming is soon!