[forthright] Perspective

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 13 Feb 2010 20:25:21 -0200
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

In his book on Job, Mike brings another valuable
perspective to light.http://forthrightpress.com


COLUMN: FIELD NOTES

Perspective
  by Michael E. Brooks

"A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a
hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet" (Proverbs 27:7
NKJV).

A question I am often asked in Bangladesh or Nepal is,
"How do you like our country?" My answer is
invariably, "I like it very much. I enjoy its beauty,
and the friendliness of its people, as well as many
other things I find here."

It surprises me how often my questioner will respond
with harsh criticism of his own homeland, expressing
the desire to leave it to live elsewhere.

This is not an unusual phenomenon. There is much truth
to the familiar proverb, "The grass is always greener
on the other side of the fence." We focus on negative
experiences, the things we do not have or the
unpleasant features of our homes with which we have
become too familiar, overlooking the positive, good
things we could note if we were so inclined. We think
that other places must be better and are plagued with
dissatisfaction in our familiar circumstance.

Solomon states this truth in terms of appetite. A man
who is filled does not consider any food desirable, at
the moment. But to one suffering from extreme hunger,
any food is good, regardless of bitter taste or poor
quality. It is not the nature of the food that decides
our opinion, but rather the state of our appetite.

This is at least part of what Jesus meant when he
taught us that those who have a ravenous appetite for
righteousness will be blessed (Matthew 5:6). Why do
some find religious activities stale, dull and boring,
while others are fulfilled and blessed by the same
events? Is it that the two individuals have totally
different experiences? Oftentimes we see those opposite
reactions to exactly the same assemblies. The
difference is not in what they did, but in their
perceptions and responses.

Scientific experiments have proven the significance of
perception and expectation. In one case several years
ago placebos (pills with no medicinal content) were
given to two groups of people with similar symptoms.
One group was told they were taking a "miracle drug",
proven to have great effect on their condition. The
other was not told anything about the pill. Significant
numbers of the first group reported improvement while
virtually none of the second group did.

When I invite people to go with me on mission groups I
am normally met with one of two reactions. Some are
excited about the prospect, intrigued with exotic
locations and strange experiences. Others are
indifferent or frightened, having no interest in going.
Those excited about foreign travel are rarely
disappointed. They expect to have a wonderful time and
do. Those who think they would be frightened or bored
or uncomfortable do not go. In all probability, if they
did try it, they would be just as disappointed and
unhappy as they expected to be.

One of my all-time favorite sermons is entitled,
"Making Our Duties Our Desires". The point is simple.
When we learn to want to do what we ought to do, we
have laid the foundation for success and happiness. One
will never be content as a Christian when he wants to
do what he should not, and does not want to do what he
should. The world seeks to solve this dilemma by
changing the standard - making whatever we want to do
all right. Unfortunately we are not the maker of the
standard. We can choose what we want, but not what is
right. God has determined that.

True happiness comes when we learn that God is right
and that what he wants us to do is what will benefit us
most. He knows much better than we what we need, just
as he knows the results of all our actions. It is when
we do "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"
that we shall live (Matthew 4:4).

And when we learn that doing those things is both good
and enjoyable, obedience will come much more easily to
us.

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