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Al Earley | Don’t confuse me with the facts

In Plato’s book “Republic” is the quote, “I’m trying to think. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” 

Since then, people have marveled at how we humans can look at evidence, which seems to clearly point to one, and only one conclusion, and stick to an opinion that has been thoroughly discredited. Today, Plato’s quote has been more commonly stated, “I’ve already made my mind up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

I found this simple list of 12 tests that determine whether you are able to learn or not, because your mind is made up. Marty Williams, a pastor of Family Ministries, asks the question that we all must ask ourselves today; “Am I Teachable?” He has 12 thoughts to help us discover if we are teachable:

1. I am willing to listen more than talk. 

2. I admit when I am mistaken. 

3. I observe before acting on a situation. 

4. I am able to agree to disagree. 

5. I desire information more than answers. 

6. I enjoy asking questions. 

7. I am open to suggestions and new ideas. 

8. I feel comfortable asking for advice or directions. 

9. I am patient and a willing “Student.” 

10. I enjoy reading for information that is practical and applicable. 

11. I seek out new perspectives on the questions of life. 

12. I can appreciate criticism without being deeply wounded.

As I went through college and seminary, I learned all my lessons well, as I came to a fairly skeptical view of the authority of scripture. I was pretty proud of my high GPA, and my professors spoke well of me. I could grasp and use tools to critically study the Bible and find all of it’s seeming errors, contradictions, and superstitious teachings. All the twelve points outlined above were statements those professors would use to describe me. I was teachable.

When I started actually applying what I had learned, things did not go so well. I had a very patient Senior Pastor who listened and encouraged me through those first frustrating years as I functioned in my own wits and wisdom. 

Why wasn’t all the good information I learned in college and seminary helping me be a good pastor?  Why didn’t people listen to how wise I was, at the young age of 25? Why did it seem like I was just going through the motions of doing church?

After about two years, I had that memorable day at the hospital where I prayed my standard hospital prayer. I didn’t expect anything to actually happen. I prayed for people in the hospital because I could coin meaningful phrases, and it seemed to make them feel better. But on this day, God clearly used my standard hospital prayer to bring healing.  Something actually happened to change someone’s life, strengthen their faith, and help them heal from a physical problem. 

In stunned amazement, I spent a lot of time in prayer, and finally made this promise to God, “I am going to start doing ministry as if the Bible were true.”

I began to apply the teachable side of myself to learning ministry as if the Bible were true. As I slowly changed the way I did ministry, I slowly saw God’s miraculous hand at work in the people I ministered to. God had me where He wanted me, and I have absolutely no regrets. I no longer struggle with the truth and authority of scripture. I see the miraculous hand of God at work in my life and ministry every day. It is a wonderful place to be!

So I give each of you this challenge today. Decide to live as if the Bible were true for one year. I will let you work out all the details of how you apply this, given how the world at the time the Bible was written and the world of today are so different from one another.  Don’t get bogged down in that.  Focus on things like faith in Jesus Christ, salvation to eternal life, trusting God with everything, being a cheerful giver, noticing the countless miracles going on around you every day, and developing a servant’s heart. These are all good places to start. I feel confident in saying that a year from now you will not have any regrets.  

What barriers do you foresee in taking the “Bible is True” challenge? What can you do to overcome those barriers?  Do you want to overcome them?  Are you tired of having an average faith that depends on your own wits and wisdom to experience anything that approaches being meaningful? 

(To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.)