Thursday, January 16, 2014

Baby Elephants

Guess where I saw these baby elephants playing in the edge of the river?  No, I haven't gone on an African safari.  I did, however, go on a Jungle Safari -- in Disney World, that is.  These animatronic elephants looked so real as they moved around and shot water into the air from their trunks that I wondered if they'd slipped a ringer in for the fun of it.  It's downright fascinating to see all of the many animals and plants and props around the vast Disney parks that look so real you sometimes need to touch them just to be sure.  In fact, there are sometimes real plants scattered among the fake plants to such an extent I can get confused.  What's real and what's not real?

While you expect such unreality in a theme park, the sad and scary fact is that the day to day we live in is also scattered with the fake and unreal.  Satan has rigged our modern culture in such a way that many people are fooled on a regular basis.  What's right and good is often twisted to appear narrow minded and politically incorrect, while that which is wrong and sinful is accepted and lauded as freedom of expression and open-minded behavior.

We're not surprised when the World offers up twisted values and skewed half-truths, but when we see it in the "religious" arena it can confuse even those who are Believers.  Such deception has been around since the beginning of time -- note Satan's words to Eve when he tempted her beside the tree in the Garden of Eden, "Did God really say..." Genesis 3:1.  From that time until today, the great deceiver continues to question God and throw doubt into every heart and mind he can get his wicked claws into.

God is well-aware of Satan's unrelenting attempts to deceive and confuse.  That's why Jesus spoke of Satan, saying, "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is not truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" John 8:44.

Further, God spoke through Peter, warning us of false teachers, preachers and prophets:  "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.  They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them...Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.  In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up...For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error" verses from 2 Peter 2.

So, what's a Christian to believe when faced with slick speakers who sound so sincere and godly, but preach a message that sounds too good to be true, or on the other hand, too frightening to contemplate?  How can you know what is real and what is fake?  The apostle John gives good advice, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" 1 John 4:1.

You might ask, and how do you "test a spirit?"  John answers that question in the next verse, "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus, is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist..."

Those little fake baby elephants playing in the water are absolutely adorable and fun to watch.  We know they're not real and so we can judge them for what they are.  As Christians inhabited by the Holy Spirit, we need to ask Him for discernment when we are faced with a situation or a message of which we are unsure.  What is real and right, versus what is fake and wrong?  Just ask yourself, does this thing glorify God and uplift Jesus Christ -- or not.  Let the Holy Spirit be your guide.

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