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Posts Tagged ‘what is truth’

The Presidential Race is going strong here in the USA.  Sadly, that means dealing loosely with the truth is broadly on display for all to see.  At least two of the front runners in the race for our highest office are guilty of repeatedly lying.  And yet they are still in contention to be our next president.  I find myself becoming discouraged, not so much by the fact that the lying occurs, but that it seems like it is accepted by so many voters.  Truth is devalued.  When truth becomes so devalued that it no longer matters, the consequences are brutal.  Just look at Germany in the 1930’s…the Soviet Union in the early to mid 20th century…ISIS today.

Fortunately there is a remedy – an eternal remedy.  God is real.  His sovereignty is genuine.  His plan is being worked out.  Ultimately all lies and distortions of God’s eternal truths will be completely overthrown.  And if we chose, we do not have to wait for some time in the future for this to begin taking place.  Jesus explained this to a crowd of His followers and His antagonists in John 8:31-32.  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

I have lost count of the number of times God’s truth has given me a stable place to stand when it seemed the world around me was in upheaval.  Some of them stand out as stark reminders for me now and on into eternity.

When my company announced a merger and it was likely that the group I was in would be downsized.  The Lord clearly spoke Isaiah 41:10 to me.  “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be ashamed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Through the months of waiting as the merger unfolded and the office I was in was eventually downsized, I had God’s truth holding me.

Nine months into this process, when they called us in individually to tell us our specific outcomes, I was told my job was being eliminated.  This time Jeremiah 29:11 repeatedly came to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  I was totally buoyed by the truth God spoke.  I was immensely aware that the God of the universe was with me to see me through.  No matter how it turned out, He had my back… as well as my front, my sides, above and beneath.

Five days before this job was to end, they offered me a new position which was a significant promotion to do work that I really wanted to do.  I experienced the reality of Jeremiah 29:11 in a way so tangible that even as I write today I can’t help but smile.  I know a freedom that the world doesn’t know because I am certain of the truth – He is alive and He is living in me.

But let’s bring the story up-to-date.  A little over a year ago I was in a leadership role in a new company where I had worked for about 3 years.  I had significant responsibility in a brand new plant.  We were making steady progress on our goals, but my boss, the plant manager, and I were not on aligned.  While it was not a surprise, it was still uncomfortable to be told by your friend, the HR Manager, “I have to let you go.”  Since we are talking truth, I have to admit that there were bouts of anger, feelings of loss, and a number of times when I reviewed what I could have done differently.  I continually came back to the same place though.  I had continued to lead with the best interests of all involved to carry out my job in a manner that glorified God and met the company objectives.  In my heart, I could not perform my job the way my boss wanted me to and remain true to my moral and ethical beliefs.  And since he was the boss it was his right to fire me.

Through that soul-searching time the Lord repeatedly gave me signs of His love and peace.  Over and over as I would begin to sink into either anger at the unfairness or self-pity at the loss of a very good (compensation-wise) job, the Lord would whisper, “Trust Me.” 

Today I am at peace and even quite thankful for that situation.  I work part-time doing work that I enjoy, working with people that appreciate what I do.  The mountain of stress that I was under is gone.  My marriage is as strong as ever.  I am able to be much more involved in caring for people.  In fact this afternoon I am going to my grandson’s school to give a brief talk on Thomas Jefferson as part of their President’s month.  I am thrilled to get to do this.

Dear reader, I don’t know where you are in your life, but I want to encourage you today to look to the Truth.  Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  If you already know Him, as I am sure is the case for many of you, then commit yourself totally to knowing Him better.  Spend time every day seeking His face and fellowship.  Obey what He says in His Word and what He whispers to your heart.  He is there and He is not silent.  Love Him and let Him love you.  Freedom – amazing, awesome, peace-filled freedom is what awaits.

What are you waiting for?  Tether to the truth and hold on for the ride of your life.

Be blessed and be a blessing today!

 

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I am usually a very solid sleeper.  This morning sleep alludes me and thoughts of myriad concerns and big truths swirl in my mind.  It strikes me that if I were to fully rest in the big truths, the myriad concerns would shrink into insignificance.  So I think I will capture the big truths here and see what happens.

God is omniscient.

God is sovereign.

God is in control.

No matter what the view appears to be at the current moment, in the big picture God knows how He is going to bring good out of the present situation.  As I write this a scene from a movie comes to mind.  In the movie Sahara, Penelope Cruz has been lowered into a well in the desert.  While she is in there the bad guys come up and reek havoc.  She can only see a small sliver of sky but she hears the commotion and she knows the situation is dire.  As the scene continues to develop we see the two good guys coming up with a plan (albeit a seat-of-their-pants plan) and they save the day.  The analogy here is about Penelope in the well.  She can only see and hear a small part of what is unfolding much like we are in our times of distress.  But God is never surprised by the difficulties that we experience.  He is ready to meet us in the hard place and help us through it.  By the way, the analogy breaks down about the seat-of-the-pants plan.  God’s already aware of what He is going to do.  He is just waiting on us to exercise faith in Him to execute His plan.

God is good.

Now this big truth can only be handled exercising that faith I mentioned above.  A week ago today, a vile act was perpetrated upon college students in Roseburg, Oregon as a troubled young man took the lives of 9 college students and wounded 10 others.  He specifically targeted Christians.  “But wait a minute,” you might say.  “Aren’t they supposed to be the ones in the bottom of the well exercising their faith to be saved?”  Excellent and very important question.  The answer is that many times they are, but sometimes our purpose on this side of eternity is not to be saved so much from physical death, but to help save others from eternal death.  Let me get to the next big truth before I finish answering.

God sees the BIG Picture and He moves in accordance to our ultimate good.

The big picture includes the time we live on this earth AND eternity on the other side of death.  I guess you can add this to the list of Big Truths – there is life beyond the grave.  God knows this because He created it.  He has laid out a very clear way for us to enter into His joy in this place called heaven.  It is through faith in His Son, Jesus, whom He sent to die in our place on the cross.  Part of the big picture is that God wants that message to get out to all people.  Back to the victims of the violence in Oregon, they were killed because they stood up for Jesus.  I have asked myself a number of times, would I have that kind of faith.  I would hope so but as they say you don’t know until you are in it.  The Lord promises that He will help us in our hour of need.  I believe that means I would have the faith to stand regardless of the price I would pay.  Those victims had a reassurance that God was with them whether they lived through it or they went on to heaven.  The same is true for several victims of the shooting in Columbine, Colorado.  They were killed because of their faith.  Yet we can look to what happened in Columbine to realize that God used that terrible tragedy to bring many to faith.  I am confident that the Lord will use the sacrifice of those brave believers in Oregon to open many hearts to His redeeming love and grace.

There is an invisible war raging around us in the spirit realm and God has a role for us to play.

This is summarized in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Paul, the writer of this letter, goes on to explain how the believer is to put on the full armor of God.  He ends his description with a call to pray.  Ephesians 6:18  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  We do not have to stand idly by and watch the enemy run rough-shod over God’s people or over the many who have not yet come to faith.  In fact we are specifically called to intercede, to stand in the gap, to faithfully articulate the Gospel, to exercise the rights and duties as citizens for the common good.  If those who know God will exercise their faith in listening and obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit, God’s plan will unfold in an amazing way.

Truth is not relative.  God is and truth originates in Him.

Islam and Christianity are not the same, they do not worship the same God, and they are a direct manifestation of that invisible war that Paul mentions in Ephesians.

Islam is not our friend, no matter how influential it’s proponents might be.  It is a man-made religion that promotes a strong deception wrapped in a maze of impossible to fulfill rules.  Sadly, it’s use of intimidation, manipulation, and power appeal to the baser instincts in man.  What perplexes me is why any thinking woman would ever willingly submit to the terrible dehumanization of Islam.  I understand the psychology of it a little… the constant repetition, the unrelenting intimidation to accept the belief system, the concern of being ostracized if you don’t conform and accept, these force women to a place where the only hope seems to be in acceptance.  It is no wonder why they do not want women to be educated.  Yet we who live outside that dark shadow know the truth.  Male and female where created by God to be partners, not master and slave.  Different strengths and weaknesses, different roles in many cases, but equally loved and cherished by the one true God, the God of the Judeo-Christian faith, the God of the bible.

The Christian faith is about a relationship with God the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, by the power of His Holy Spirit who lives within us.

It is possible to have the outward appearance of Christian faith, i.e. go to church, read the bible, pray, wear Christian jewelry, etc. and not have the relationship.  I can say that from experience.  I did all those things for several years, but in my heart I had areas were I chose to do what I wanted to do.  When I finally said yes to God and I gave my life fully over to Jesus’ Lordship, dramatic and wonderful changes took place.  I experienced a transformation as His Holy Spirit moved in.  I experienced salvation immediately and the process of sanctification of my life began.  I recently past my 32nd year of new life in Christ and I love Him more today than ever.  And He is still pointing out areas where I can manifest more of His love, His mercy, His grace.  Step by step He leads me in a love relationship that just seems to get better and better.

I know I get wordy.  Please forgive me.  However if you have read this far let me tell you one final story.  Twenty six years ago I was awakened one minute earlier than I awoke this morning, 2:22 am.  On that occasion I assumed God wanted me to pray for something or someone as I had become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudge usually being linked to a prompting to pray for someone.  I rolled out of bed onto my knees that night ready to pray, but it was quiet in my Spirit.  I waited several seconds and then I asked, “What is it Lord?”  To which the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to my Spirit, “Dan, I am going to have you say special things to special people.  And to prove it I’m going to take care of your house today.”  God produced the miraculous provision of a home that we then owned and raised our family in for 18 years beginning the next day.  I may share the full story at some time, however my point this morning is that the miracle was to validate to me that God would give me special things to say and I needed to say them.

If you are reading this then I am confident you are one of the special people God was referring to.  Ask Him to show you the BIG truths that you don’t already have a firm hold on.  Ask Him to help you see Truth and accept it.  Most important, ask Him to make Himself, clear to you.  Because He is real and He loves you, I am totally confident He will begin to move in ways that provide you with increasing faith to know and to grow into Christ Jesus – the One Who loves us more than we can comprehend.

Now unto Him Who is the truest, most ardent lover of your soul and mine, be glory, honor, praise and dominion, forever and ever. Amen!

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Good Morning this Maundy Thursday of Holy Week 2015.  For much of the night I pondered and prayed about what to share this morning.  Holy Week is climactic in the life of a believer as we relive Jesus final earthly hours and culmination of why He came.  As I alluded to yesterday Jesus came with a primary purpose and a number of secondary purposes.  Some of His secondary purposes were to give us an example of how to live, to touch lives in His day that were later recorded so we would know how to minister, and to send the Holy Spirit to live within us who would further our living and ministering in faith.  His primary purpose was to give Himself up as a perfect sinless sacrifice for sin so that through Him everyone would have a path to forgiveness and restoration with God the Father.  I heard on the news this week that a recent study found that over 50% of youth and young adults do not know the reason for the Easter season.  That is sad.

I am praying for a groundswell of truth seeking for I am convinced that if people seek truth, they will find God.  This is never more accurate than if they simply look into the facts about Jesus.  I have spoken with unbelievers and invariably their response has fallen along a couple of distinct lines.  Either they don’t want to be bothered by seriously considering the claims of Christ or they simply have never taken the time to weigh the evidence and apply logic to determine what is true.  In my experience the root of unbelief for those who have heard the gospel and not accepted it has always been a sin they were not willing to give up or look past long enough to consider is Jesus who He said He is.

One of the things I have done a lot in my career as an engineer is Root Cause Analysis.  The most effective way to get to the real reasons a failure occurs is to diligently gather all the evidence, make sure it is valid and accurate, and then put those pieces of evidence together to see what story it tells.  I have been involved in hundreds of these investigations and if this process is followed, we always resolve the issue.  However I have seen a number of situations where the investigator approached a failure with a preconceived idea of what the root cause was and the investigation did not go well.  You see, if we approach a question with a bias ahead of time, it becomes much more difficult to accept the evidence at face value.  We look for evidence that supports our hypothesis.  In many cases unconsciously.  In others it is conscious and willful.  We will overlook or dismiss evidence that does not fit our hypothesis.  Additionally when we have a bias from the outset, we are not able to effectively apply logic.  Remember that one of the key principles of logic is that when all the evidence is weighed, if all other options are eliminated, then the remaining option, regardless of how unlikely, must be true.  (I think I heard the character Sherlock Holmes say that recently.)

The ultimate question then becomes “Who was Jesus?”  People who haven’t investigated all the facts and applied logic will often respond, “Oh Jesus was a good man.”  “He was a wise and good teacher.”  Or perhaps they will even go so far and say what Islam says about Him, “He was a great prophet.”  However those are not valid choices as the ultimate declaration of who Jesus was.  To make the claims He made and to suffer an indescribably cruel and painful death as He did, there are really only three choices.  One he was insane and delusional in the most extreme sense.  Two He was the greatest deceiver who has ever lived.  Or three, He was who He claimed to be.  Jesus claimed to be God’s Son – to be One with the Father.  He claimed to be able to forgive sins.  In John 14:6 we read “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one come to the Father except through me.'”  These are extremely bold claims.  A good man does not make Himself equal to God unless that is Who He truly is.  Otherwise He is either a deceiver or mad.

The evidence is pretty substantial.

  • We have eye witness evidence from multiple sources of the life and miracles of Jesus.  They are amazing stories.  And if we do not allow our biases, either for or against to sway us, then we put those into the “validation bin” to determine a little later if we admit them as true and valid.
  • We have the number of prophesies in the ancient Hebrew sacred texts (the Old testament of the bible) written 400 – 1000 years before Jesus’ birth that fit what we know about His life perfectly.  Many of these were fulfilled completely independent of any thought or action He could have taken.  Here are a few of the 100+ prophesies fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
    • Virgin birth
    • Born in Bethlehem
    • Herod’s killing of all male babies in Bethlehem (except Jesus who had escaped to Egypt) after Jesus birth
    • From the lineage of David
    • The manner of His death
    • The advent of John the Baptist
    • Plus many more to numerous to capture here.
  • The fearful disciples who hid themselves after the crucifixion were transformed into life long evangelists after His resurrection.  Eleven of the twelve were martyred with John the only one to suffer a natural death albeit in exile because of His faith.
  • Jesus’ body was never found.  This is really huge. Remember the key principle about logic mentioned above.
    • If the disciples had stolen the body (highly unlikely) one of them would surely have broken and confessed when under the threat of death.  And while it is possible a person might die to cover up a lie, that such a large group of people maintained the same story speaks to the truth of the tale.
    • If the authorities had taken the body all they had to do was show the body and the movement would have been stopped at the outset.
  • The number of post resurrection appearances Jesus made.  All told Jesus appeared to over 500 people after He was ressurected.  And because of this they were transformed into faithful followers even through persecution and death.
  • The accuracy and validity of the bible.  This is actually evidence to support the validation process.
    • The bible is far and away the most studied book of antiquity.
    • There are more high quality ancient manuscripts of the bible than any other book from antiquity by far.  Some of these manuscripts are from within just a few decades of the original documentation.  A recent ceremonial mask from Egypt was found and carefully studied.  I believe the date was from around 80 AD.  The mask was made from papyrus that had short selections of the Gospel of Mark in it that authenticated current texts.
    • The dead sea scrolls found in the Judean desert in 1947 had a large number of Hebrew texts that proved the accuracy of current texts.
    • Along these lines, an understanding of the absolute rigor and holy reverence with which the Jewish scribes approached the copy of the texts ensures the highest level of accuracy and attention to detail.
    • The secondary sources such as the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus that support the historical details surrounding Jesus and the time and place He lived.
    • Even the manner of the biblical writings supports its authenticity.  A consistent message and story is presented with enough variability to show it was compiled by different persons with slightly different perspectives.  The minor differences do not in any way take away from the central tenants of the faith, but they do reveal an integrity in documentation and copying.  This supports the argument that what we have today is in the same form as the original writers, some eyewitnesses and some recorders of eyewitness accounts, intended.
  • The growth of the church from the humblest of beginnings, ie. one man crucified upon a Roman cross after only a three year itinerant ministry in a very small, remote, and isolated province of Rome, to the 2 billion Christians in the world today.
  • Lastly, the lives of people throughout history and continuing today, who are changed because of knowing the risen Lord.  Jesus is alive today and He is still meeting people and transforming them through His mercy and grace.

I am one of those people Jesus has changed.  I have met the Lord.  He has saved me.  He has brought much positive change in me.  I would love to say I am totally faithful and complete in every way, but I am not…yet.  I, like all faithful believers, am a work in progress.  But I am growing because He is real and He is walking with me, helping me to become more and more like Him.

Dear friend, I hope this has encouraged you today.  If you are a believer my desire is that this provide a reinforcement of your faith and help you share that faith with others.  If you are not yet a follower of Jesus Christ I invite you to dig deeper and see if what I have written is true and accurate.  Ultimately I was convinced by the life that I saw in people who claimed to know Jesus and lived with a vibrant, tangible faith.  The rest of the information just solidified my faith once I accepted and started following Him.  Since this is Easter, I encourage you to go to a bible believing church this Sunday and ask the Lord to speak to you.  See if He won’t speak a message of love to you heart.  What do you have to lose?

Be blessed today and be a blessing.

Oh, one more thing.  Three year ago I wrote a blog that is really cool family story called Quest for Truth.  If you want to read about a practical application of Truth Seeking.

 

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When Lisa came home from the hospital one of the challenges was getting sleep. I was reminded of the days when we had little ones in the house because every night was a series of short naps broken by tending to various needs Lisa had. When she spoke with the doctor he said the mind protects itself after a major trauma by not allowing you to get into the deepest sleep where you might dream and relive the trauma. He recommended that we get some “white noise” in the room to help calm Lisa’s mind. So I bought a white noise machine.

The machine I brought home simulates many different sounds – an ocean crashing against the shore, a waterfall, a summer night with crickets chirping, a rain forest with birds calling, a steady rain, etc. Lisa latched onto the steady rain and she (and I) have gone to sleep with a steady rain falling every night for the past 4 weeks.

I have to admit the sound is rather calming when I just relax and accept the sound as the reality. But sometimes I can’t do that. One of my tasks is to make sure the dog is put up. When I step inside from a glorious winter night with no clouds in the sky and then climb into bed with a steady rain falling, my mind will sometimes begin an analysis of the obvious deception we are playing on ourselves. Perhaps even worse is the morning when I am trying to get up. Rising early has never been a big chore for me. Somehow when it is raining or at least when my mind perceives it is raining the waking is much more difficult. And in the first moments of morning consciousness I struggle to distinguish that the rain I hear is not the truth, but only a manmade “reality”.

Listening to our noise machine is not the only time that I am faced with deciding what is truth. Every day we are bombarded with hundreds, perhaps thousands of messages proclaiming things as truth. Advertising is predicated upon convincing us that a particular product is right for us so we buy it. We are in a political campaign and the candidates are seeking to convince us that they are persons who understand what is true and will fight for that truth. Okay in the political campaigns they may spend more time trying to convince us the other guy doesn’t have a clue about the truth, but the point is we have so many messages out there that it is hard to distinguish what is the ultimate truth.

There is also a mindset that all truth is relative, that there is not ultimate truth.  Perhaps it is because of my background as an engineer but I have never had much of a difficulty with the relativistic mindset.  I know that 2 + 2 = 4 and will not = 5.  There are things that are ultimate truth.  Admittedly that makes me stubborn at times about things that I have accepted as truth and I am wrong about, but I am convinced that my occasional inaccuracies about the truth does not change the veracity that ultimate truth exists.

The questions then is how do we know truth and how do we avoid all the deceptions that exist?  There are a few things that I have found helpful in this regards that I can share.  I am also interested in what others have to say so please sound off in the comments.

First as I mentioned above I am convinced that there is ultimate truth.  It begins with God and it is revealed through His Word – the Bible.  Now God chose to reveal himself through a book written over more than 1000 years by approximately 40 different authors so it does provide some interesting challenges to interpretation.  The Bible was written to be taken within the context of the whole and interpreted with Holy Spirit guided understanding.  John 16:13 says: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes He will guide you into all truth.”  I have found guidance and comfort in the Word of God countless times.  It has never failed to provide reassurance for me in trials I have faced and questions that I have had.  This reliance upon the Word has been a trait that has been cultivated since I accepted Jesus as my Lord in 1983, so it is not necessarily a flip-the-switch action that automatically makes truth so much more clear.

Another help I have found is to hold onto times when Life Truths were clearly communicated to me.  In many cases these have become family stories that we frequently share.  As I sit and ponder this point I can easily picture a dozen times when God has showed up in our lives in real and tangible ways.  These Life Truths reinforce that 1) God is, 2) that God cares for us, 3) that God’s timing is perfect, 4) that God is more than enough to meet our needs, 5) that God has a sense of humor, 6) that God has a plan for every one of us… I could go on and on with truths that God has reinforced through direct interventions in our life.  I expect I will get to share a few of these stories over the coming weeks.  The point is if we ask God to get involved in our lives He will.  And each of those interventions becomes a touchpoint where we can say God taught me this truth… He is faithful, He is Love, He is Great beyond measure, He is!

The last help that I rely upon is the counsel of those I know to be persons of humility, integrity, and truth.  There are authors that I put in this category such as CS Lewis and Chuck Swindoll.  I put our pastor in that category.  My father is another that I look to with a high degree of regard.  I meet with my brothers and we often discuss different topics.  I have come to value their input in helping me to clearly see the big picture.  And being the father of adult children, I have learned that they have wisdom to share that often illuminates the truth better than if left to my own devices.  And finally the greatest human help in identifying truth is my wife.  Lisa knows me better than anyone now.  She understands how I think (and she loves me anyway), she understands my moods (and loves me anyway), and she knows my blind spots.  Because of this she is in a unique position to help me see situations and questions outside my normal paradigm.  Yes it takes tact and humility, but when we walk in love this becomes more the norm than the exception.  And the benefits in terms of seeing situations more clearly are amazing.

My time is up this morning, but I hope I have shared a few things that can help you in your search for truth.  As a parting thought, I encourage you to ask God to show you truth.  He loves it when we ask for this and then diligently seek to know truth, because the first thing we find is Him.  He is the ultimate truth.  When all else fades away, and all else will one day fade away, God remains.  If you do not know God it does not really matter because He knows you and if you want truth you will meet Him.  Just keep looking for truth and you will find it and you will find Him.  God bless you.

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