Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
June 15, 2011

When bad news is good news
Here’s your good news for the day, courtesy of this morning’s Wall Street Journal: “U.S. stocks rose sharply on Tuesday as investors cheered a reading on U.S. retail sales that wasn’t as bad as expected.” The Dow rose 166 points on news that U.S. retail sales dropped only 0.2% last month, smaller than the 0.6% decline which was expected.

You know things are dicey when bad news is good news so long as it’s not as bad as it could be. As one economist explained, “we finally got some numbers that were a little bit better than people had feared and the market reacted accordingly.”

Hewlett-Packard is adopting the same psychology in shaking up its administrative ranks. According to this morning’s USA Today, the world’s largest personal computer manufacturer is eliminating several senior positions. HP explains that its moves are not motivated by its financial challenges, but so the company can focus on customers rather than administration. Or so we’re told.

We’ve taken a similar approach here in Dallas on the eve of the Mavericks’ victory parade. When the NBA champions leave City Hall at 10:00 tomorrow morning, we’ve been assured that temperatures won’t yet have reached 100 degrees. To those of you who don’t get to enjoy the Sahara-like Texas heat, the thought of triple digits so early in the season must be horrifying. To us it could be worse.

When I found these stories I thought they would lead me to write a devotional which criticizes our perception-based worldview. Our postmodern culture is adamant that truth is personal and subjective (though its denial of absolute truth is itself an absolute truth claim). This outlook has led to a crescendo of immorality and widespread rejection of authority in my lifetime.

At the same time, reality does often turn out to be what we perceive it to be. Economic data which was not as bad as feared led to a market rally yesterday which was better than expected. A stronger focus on customers will probably lead to a stronger bottom line. If people in the Mavericks’ parade don’t think the weather is unbearable, it won’t be for them.

We find this principle repeated throughout Scripture. Pharaoh was the most powerful man on earth to everyone but Moses, who compared him to his more powerful God. The flooded Jordan River was impassible to everyone but Joshua, who believed that his Lord was stronger still. Goliath was a giant to everyone but David, who was convinced that “the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

Fear knocked at the door; faith answered; and no one was there. Who is tapping on your soul this morning?


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