現在,給你帶來一些大好消息──AND NOW, FOR SOME VERY GOOD NEWS

MONDAY MANNA

我不知道你是如何,但我是個隨時預備好接受好消息的人。尤其是最近每天看到或聽到的新聞都充滿挑戰、令人不安,甚至恐懼的時候。

根據報導,一個好消息是義大利威尼斯的運河幾百年來第一次變乾淨了,甚至清澈見底。世界主要城市的空氣品質也因為用車減少,變得非常乾淨。許多科學家視為氣候變遷成因的溫室氣體,也隨之減少,減緩全球暖化。甚至有證據顯示,鳥兒的歌聲比平時更大聲了。

當然,新冠肺炎現在仍然在世界許多地方肆虐,失業率比我們一生中經歷過的都還要高。但令人鼓舞的是,我們能確信這些情況是暫時的。隨著時間的流逝,我們能為自己的生活建立「新常態」。

所有發生的事都讓我們再次意識到,想法—佔據我們腦海的事—能決定我們是誰、如何反應以及採取什麼行動。換句話說,我們「所想」定義了「我們是什麼樣的人」。我們的身體會因所吃的食物而影響,而我們的生命卻深受我們「所想」而影響。這就是為什麼聖經在腓立比書 4章8節中告訴我們要思想真實的、可敬的、公義的、清潔的、可愛的、有美名的,有德行甚至可稱讚的事。

明顯的問題是:我們怎麼知道什麼是真實的、公義的、清潔的等等符合聖經準則的事呢?也就在不久之前,多數的新聞都在競爭誰的消息比較準確,媒體人花費大把時間確保新聞的準確性。即便如此仍難免會有錯誤通常都來自不可靠的消息來源。

然而今天,我們很多人從不可靠的消息來源獲取訊息,更糟糕的是,有些來源是在推廣某些特定的偏差議題。據觀察,社交媒體上70%的信息是錯誤的,而另外的30%真實訊息還包含了我們對媽媽的愛,或我們所享用的美味午餐。這就是我們必須要謹慎和提高警覺之處。如果有些東西看起來很奇怪、有違常理、明顯是在推廣某特定議題,或企圖說服我們買東西,那麼我們應該對它們表示懷疑。可敬、可愛或有美名的事不會摧毀人;有德行和可稱讚的事既不負面也不惡毒。

電腦會依內建的程式運轉。同樣的,我們的想法取決於我們如何被內建的程式所主導——我們允許放入思想中的內容。正如箴言12章18節所說的:「說話浮躁的,如刀刺人;智慧人的舌頭卻為醫人的良藥。」另一段經文則如此說:「溫良的舌是生命樹;乖謬的嘴使人心碎。」(箴言15章4節)我們所說的—及所聽到的—會深刻影響我們的生命。

聖經中的前輩在這個世界上活過更久遠的生命,比我們有更長遠的眼光,因此,我們可以相信情況只會變得更好。記得要專注於真實、可敬、公義、清潔、可愛、有美名、有德行和可稱讚的事上。這是謀求生存,並且比過去更加強壯的唯一途徑。

©2020JimMathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

反省與問題討論

  1. 在過去的幾個月裡,你如何處理那些似乎不間斷的壞消息的衝擊?你的情緒和態度是否受到周遭所聽到的而影響?
  2. 你如何避免被這種消極的情緒淹沒?把消息來源關掉嗎?轉向其他更積極的消息來源?或是讓「新聞」主導你的想法?請解釋你的答案。
  3. 你如何看待腓立比書 4章8節中的告誡:「弟兄們,我還有未盡的話:凡是真實的、可敬的、公義的、清潔的、可愛的、有美名的,若有甚麼德行,若有甚麼稱讚,這些事你們都要思念。」?
  4. 我們該如何做呢?定睛在積極、令人振奮和充滿活力的事物上,而不是那些可能會讓我們喪失勇氣、傷心甚至沮喪的消息和想法。

備註:如果你手上有聖經,想要閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:

約書亞記1章8節
1:8 這律法書不可離開你的口,總要晝夜思想,好使你謹守遵行這書上所寫的一切話。如此,你的道路就可以亨通,凡事順利。
羅馬書12章1-2節
12:1 所以,弟兄們,我以 神的慈悲勸你們,將身體獻上,當作活祭,是聖潔的,是 神所喜悅的;你們如此事奉乃是理所當然的。
12:2 不要效法這個世界,只要心意更新而變化,叫你們察驗何為 神的善良、純全、可喜悅的旨意。
加拉太書5章22-23節
5:22 聖靈所結的果子,就是仁愛、喜樂、和平、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信實、
5:23 溫柔、節制。這樣的事沒有律法禁止。
腓立比書4章4-7節
4:4 你們要靠主常常喜樂。我再說,你們要喜樂。
4:5 當叫眾人知道你們謙讓的心。主已經近了。
4:6 應當一無掛慮,只要凡事藉著禱告、祈求,和感謝,將你們所要的告訴 神。
4:7  神所賜、出人意外的平安必在基督耶穌裏保守你們的心懷意念。
帖撒羅尼迦前書5章16-18節
5:16 要常常喜樂,
5:17 不住地禱告,
5:18 凡事謝恩;因為這是 神在基督耶穌裏向你們所定的旨意。


AND NOW, FOR SOME VERY GOOD NEWS

By Jim Mathis

I don’t know about you, but I am always ready for good news, especially in a time like this, when every news report we see or hear is challenging, disconcerting, and even terrifying.

One bit of good news is that, according to reports, the canals in Venice, Italy have been clear for the first time in hundreds of years. They say it is possible to actually see to the bottom. The air quality in major cities has become dramatically cleaner due to diminished driving, and the reduction in greenhouse gases that has resulted could be a big step in slowing conditions that many science experts attribute to climate change. There is even evidence that birds are singing louder than normal.

Of course, the COVID-19 virus continues to rage in many parts of the world, and unemployment figures have been higher than ever experienced in our lifetimes. It is encouraging to hear assurances that that these situations are temporary, that we can create a “new normal” for our lives as the time passes.

All of this causes us to realize again that what we think about – what occupies our minds – largely determines who we are, how we react, and what actions we take. In other words, we are what we think. Our bodies are greatly affected by what we eat – but our lives are influenced by what we think. This is why the Bible, in Philippians 4:8, tells us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and especially anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.

The obvious question is, how do we know what is true, right, pure, and all the rest? Not that many years ago, most of the news came from sources that challenged and competed with each for accuracy. News agencies went to extreme lengths to ensure the accuracy of the information they presented. Even then there were mistakes, but they usually came from unreliable sources.

Today, many of us get information from sources with no accountability, or worse, have a particularly devious agenda to promote. It has been observed that 70 percent of the information on social media is false. This is even more alarming when we consider that the other 30 percent that is true includes how much we love our mom, or the good lunch we had. This is where our need for discretion and awareness come in. If something seems outlandish, differing from general understanding, or has an obvious agenda of promoting a cause or wanting us to buy something, we should be suspicious. Things that are noble or lovely or admirable do not tear down other people. Things that are excellent or worthy of praise are neither negative nor vicious. 

Computers function according to what is programmed into them. In a similar way, our thinking depends on how we “program” them – the content we allow to go into them. As Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Another passage says, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). What we say – and what we hear – has a profound impact on our lives.

Those of us who have been on this planet longer than most have a longer perspective. Because of this, we can trust that things will get better. Remember to dwell on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. It is the only way to survive and come out stronger than before.

© 2020. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. How have you been handling the seemingly constant onslaught of bad news over the past months? Have you found your moods and attitudes affected by what you have heard? 
  2. What do you do to keep from becoming overwhelmed by this barrage of negativity? Do you just turn it off; do you turn to other, more positive sources of information, or do you simply let the “news” dominate your thoughts? Explain your answer. 
  3. What do you think of the biblical admonition, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”?
  4. How can we go about doing that – focusing on things that are positive, uplifting and energizing, rather than information and ideas that can discourage, dishearten, even depress us?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
Joshua 1:8; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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