Observations on Life, Faith, Media & Technology

Getting It Right

All of my life, folks have asked me if I could predict the future – at least in terms of the weather – because today, February 2, Groundhog Day, is my birthday.

Groundhogday Groundhog Day dates back to an early 1700s celebration called Candlemas Day, which fell halfway between Winter and Spring, usually around February 2.  Superstition held that if the weather on Candlemas Day was fair, the rest of Winter would be stormy and cold.  German settlers brought the tradition of Candlemas Day with them to the new world, and somehow it became intertwined with the belief held by the Delaware Indians – who settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania – that the groundhogs were their “honorable ancestors.”  By the mid 1800s the legend had morphed into the idea that if the groundhog saw his shadow on February 2, there would be six more weeks of winter.  Sometime later the day came to be known as “Groundhog Day.”

We have always been enthralled by the idea of predicting the future.  That’s why so much attention is paid to the rambling writings of Nostradamus, why otherwise reasonable people will call the Psychic Friends Network, and why there is a fortune teller/tarot card reader in almost every town in America. 

There is a lot of predicting the future in the Bible.  We refer to it as ‘prophecy’ even though in the strict sense of that term it means to declare truth, not necessarily to predict the future.  The Bible is unsurpassed in accurately predicting the future.  There are over 1,000 predictions made in the Bible.  Of those, 668 have come to pass.  Some have not come to pass yet, but none have ever been proved false.  That’s 100% accuracy!

The test of a prophet in the Old Testament was a simple one: If your predictions came true, you were a prophet; if they did not come true, you were a false prophet and were subject to the death penalty.  It’s harsh sounding, I know, but God’s standard for prophets was 100% accuracy.  There’s two reasons that God set the standard for prophets so high.  The first reason is pretty obvious: if you are speaking for God, you need to be declaring truth faithfully and accurately.

The other reason is that God takes very seriously the protection of his children.  A false prophet can easily lead God’s people astray by claiming to speak for God while making false claims, false predictions, and teaching false doctrine. While the death penalty for being a false prophet may not apply today, God’s standard has not been lowered.  He still demands absolute truth and accuracy. 

I’m afraid in our world today, many of our leaders don’t take seriously enough what a fearful and awesome responsibility it is to teach, lead and guide the family of God.  Any time we are given the opportunity to exhort or to teach others we are in essence speaking for God.  If that thought doesn’t scare you, something is wrong.

A friend of mine is confined to a wheelchair but still has a popular and effective teaching ministry. He is revered by all who know him not just for his considerable communication skills, but also because of what he has overcome to be able to teach and preach. 

He tells of a sobering thing that happened to him one day while attending an outdoor church fellowship.  A little child wielding a “super-soaker” water gun came up to him and blasted away.  David laughed heartily as the child emptied the toy of all its water on him.  The horrified parents ran toward the child. As the child saw his parents coming he looked at them and said while laughing, “Look Mom, I soaked God!!”

David laughed even more heartily at that until it sunk in that this little child thought he was God.  The thought sent a chill over him as he realized what an awesome responsibility it was for someone to think you were God – or that you represent Him.

If you are a leader, people are looking to you and at you to see what God is like.  You may not have a little child who literally thinks you are God, but I guarantee you have a lot of people who think you represent Him. 

Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog can be forgiven if his prediction today is wrong. No one seriously believes him anyway.  But you and I need to remember we are speaking for God and speaking to the apple of His eye – His church – so we better get it right!

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