Truth

A Square Peg

square peg in a round hole

The majority of people that founded and formed our country were either God-fearing or God-leaning. However, it has been a long time since America began. Our society has undergone profound changes. Still, the truth is that Christians have never fit into any society. For God’s people to be considered immoral and dangerous to society is not new.

A Square Peg in a Round Hole

Christians have always been the square peg in this round world. Jesus was called the devil (Matthew 12:24). Matthew warned us that if they called the master the devil, they would call us worse things (Matthew 10:25). The Jews said, “Well, we’ve heard about this sect, Christianity, and it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:22). Peter said we would be called evildoers (1 Peter 2:12).

It should be apparent to everyone willing to look into the matter, that Jesus and His Church were never meant to fit into this world. The reason is not that Christianity is somehow wrong, somehow malformed, defective, or insincere. No, the fault is not the square peg, but the failure is with the round hole.

The Fault is With the World

The fault for Christ’s Church not fitting into the world is that the world is in a fallen state. This world has collapsed. It is malformed and, therefore, unable to receive God’s holiness, His righteousness, His salvation. His Son.

Therefore, be confident that we are not unloving, uncaring, or insensitive when we speak the truth of God. It would shock us if we, as ambassadors of Jesus, witnessed humanity shouting, “Amen!” to God’s Word. Each truth of God confronts humanity with their separation from God. We are, as God’s Word says, the smell of death. (2 Corinthians 2:16)

Defective Christians

The truth is that we are defective Christians if we do fit into this world. If we can pass through each day perceived as regular people, as upstanding members of our community, then we have failed Jesus. Why? Because Jesus said:

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. I they kept my word, they will also keep yours. – John 15:20

What we need to say to our neighbors, to our family, to our friends, is not unloving, unkind, or untrue. God’s truth is like a surgeon’s knife. We know the truth, the Spirit of Truth lives within us, so we need to speak it. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Truth is the only hope for people bound by sin.

Christianity is not Immoral

It’s not harmful or unloving or immoral to say, “God’s commands are necessary, useful and healthy for us, they are not harmful. Consequently, they are not immoral. It doesn’t matter what the world says. What matters is God’s truth.

What we say and how we live matters more to those around us than it does to us. We have received Jesus. We have been saved by grace through faith. We are secure in Christ, not so our worldly neighbors. It is for their sake that we speak God’s truth, suffer injustices, endure mistreatments, and are called immoral. These are but mere annoyances to us, but they proclaim to others that there’s something we have that makes it worth enduring these attacks that could easily be avoided. Through our rejection, others can see Jesus.

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FYI: A deeper article about this topic can be found on desiringGod.

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Drifting Away

Neon sign that says "Drift In"

God crossed my path with a man; I’ll call him John*, that was going to commit suicide. His wife was in the hospital dying, he had several young kids, no money, and no job. He had lost all hope. 

He came into the Christian outreach where I helped out and wanted prayer before he ended his life. Everyone in the office gathered around him, and we prayed. God moved upon him. The presence of God was palpable. John’s heart was changed. He didn’t kill himself. He went back to his kids. Later, when we checked on him, his life had turned around, and he saw hope. 

Fresh Start

God deeply desires a fresh start for anyone that has drifted away from Him. Jesus even chases after those that wander. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” – Matthew 18:12 (ESV emphasis added)

Jesus gives so many opportunities to those that wander. He calls for the apostate (backslider) to repent and come back. The Holy Spirit provides the wanderer with an awareness of their sin and the immediacy of deliverance. 

Drifting Away

Drifting away from Jesus has always been a temptation. We even find this problem addressed in Hebrews 2:1-4 (ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Our question to anyone that has drifted away from the truth of God’s Word should be this: will you neglect so great a salvation? For us, we must never forget that fervent prayer (James 5:16) within God’s will is unstoppable.

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Be Still

Be Still - Man reading the Bible in a wheat field.

As I’ve written in previous posts, truth is true no matter where you find it. And, by having the Holy Spirit within us, there is a resonance that we, as Christians, feel in our souls when we come across a truth. I am sure you have felt that way. 

Jesus, the Son of God, said that we receive the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). So just as a metal detector makes an audible sound when it gets close to metal, the Holy Spirit alerts us when we come close to something true.

However, if I try to use a metal detector without headphones while standing close to a busy street, i may not hear the detector’s alert. The same goes for us becoming aware of the Holy Spirit’s signals. If we have a cluttered mind; if we have a troubled heart; if we have a distracted life, then we very well may miss out on truths God wanted us to know.

I know what I’m writing is correct because I allowed a troubled heart to distract me just this week. I am without an excuse. I let my distraction cause me to miss an opportunity. I write this to remind you, so you don’t let yourself miss appointments that God has scheduled for you.

Psalms 46:10 reminds us to “Be still.” God isn’t our mother telling us to “sit still.”; God said to be still. Here’s the text:
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” 
Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

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Don’t Let Me Down – a devotional

We’re going to do some heavy lifting in this devotional. I sincerely hope and pray you gain some strength from this devotional.


Shortly after Apple released the first version of their Maps app, my wife and I were driving home. Being far from home and hungry my wife decided we should stop at a Cracker Barrel, her go-to place on a trip. Well, I retrieved my iPhone, opened Apple Maps, punched in restaurants, found a Cracker Barrel that was not far out of our way, and off we drove.

And we drove, and we drove. Following Apple, we’d left the interstate and were now on country roads. This just didn’t seem right at all. But in for a dime, in for a dollar. We drove on.

And In The End

Finally, the GPS said we were close. Hmm. This looked like a residential area, not commercial. Having made such a significant investment in our quest for food, we decided to see this to the end, and end it did. In some person’s driveway in a residential neighborhood, on a dead-end street where we could see the Interstate traffic go by. Apple Maps let us down. Not only did Apple Maps not find us a Cracker Barrel, I had no idea how to get back to the Interstate.

When I Get Home

Hey, I had Google Maps!! I typed in our home address and looked at the map it showed. The map made sense so off we went. I told myself, “When I get home I’m going to delete Apple Maps”. My mistake was that I trusted an untested (by me) mobile app and it failed us.

Apostle Paul urged his “son” in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 (ESV), Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Do You Want to Know a Secret

Just like me with the new Apple Maps, we all like “new” and we expect what is new to be better. That’s what the Early Church was wrestling with and it still is. The beginnings of Gnosticism had begun before the birth of Jesus but they quickly incorporated Jesus into their belief system. So, by the time of the Apostle Paul people were departing from the true, proven faith in the Gospel of Jesus to run after this new thing. This “secret knowledge” that Gnostics claimed to possess, this esoteric, mystical knowledge.

Chains

The old, chained Apostle Paul spurned his scribe and wrote the closing of 1 Timothy himself. He wrote, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust .”  Paul is literally saying, “guard the deposit.”

Paul saw that the frontal attack by the enemy of God was to be through pretentious knowledge. And so it has been and continues to be so. Science is observation of what God has created. Belief that creation is something God observed is hearsay. 

The Church has been thrown out of public institutions because of “separation of Church and State.” However, what has been done is to throw out “observable science” and replace it with a derivative. It is not actual science but a set of “truths” that are continually subject to correction or replacement. “Science” is now accomplished through mathematics with “fudge factors” justified by observation and adjusted through peer review. The actual truth no longer exists. 

Something

I have closely followed science for many years, having grown up on university campuses. Something I’ve observed is that scientists, working as they’ve been trained, add “correction factors” to their formulae to get their calculations to agree with the outcome they expect; not always, but often. They have also learned that adding Albert Einstein’s name to their work is very helpful.

As an example, here is an excerpt from a NASA article about “dark matter”: Then one version of Einstein’s gravity theory, the version that contains a cosmological constant, makes a second prediction: “empty space” can possess its own energy. Because this energy is a property of space itself, it would not be diluted as space expands. (https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy)

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Einstein and have read several books about him and about his theories. Now, I could say “suppositions” instead of theories because theory means supposition. However, in the media and in education theories are often presented as “truth waiting for proof.” I believe this is a disservice to the hallowed halls of education.

Anyway, please, please, please, don’t accept data, dressed-up as information**, mislead you or cause you to doubt. Guard the deposit God has placed in you. 

Just to show the silliness of “Gnostic Nonsense” when it’s exposed, I buried a secret in this devotional. What is it?

** By the way, Data and Information are separate things. Data is like, “16”, whereas information is “16 fluid ounces equals 1 pint.” My point is that data without context is just data. It doesn’t mean anything.

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Sounds like a fish story to me!

Fish Story:
Tom: I caught the largest fish of the day.
Fred: Really? When did you start fish’n?
Tom: I was in my boat by 4 am and fished until noon. You know, Bob, this might be the best day of fish’n I’ve ever had.
Fred: Well, I went this afternoon, and you didn’t ask me what I caught.
Tom: Oh, well, I didn’t want to embarrass you, Fred.
Fred: Well, what did you catch?
Tom: Now, Fred, it’s only right that you tell me yours, first.
Fred: Oh, I don’t mind, Tom. I caught a 17” Walleye. I’m gonna be fry’n it up for supper. So?
Tom: A Walleye! Wow, Fred, I was just talk’n about Bluegill. I nabbed me a 5” Bluegill.

Truth Needs Both Facts and Context

The facts are never enough to know the truth. You must have the context along with the facts before you can discern the truth. Many times in life, we may be tempted to present the facts of a problem or event to our spouse or boss or friend in a way that exonerates us or casts doubt on someone else. This change of context is what we read in Acts 23:26-27. Claudius Lysias took the facts of Paul’s arrest and changed the meaning to make himself look like he did everything correctly. However, if we read Acts 22, we will see that what Claudius Lysias wrote in his letter to Governor Felix did not agree with what happened.

Acts 23:26-27, 
Claudius Lysias,
To His Excellency, Governor Felix:
Greetings.
This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen.

The only thing more difficult than telling the truth is explaining a lie.

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It will be okay

It will be okay. I know. I have a bunch of kids. God blessed my wife and me by spacing most of their births apart by several years. But, just for His fun, we finished off our family with unplanned twins. I’m sure God got a big kick out of that! Although I do have to say that the twins were and are a great blessing to our family.

One of my “Dad” sayings is that the teenage years are for parents so when the time comes for their little bundle of joy to leave the nest, the parents say, “Bye!”

I commend you to God and to the word of his grace

Still, parents are concerned when they send their naive child out into this world filled with evil. I’m sure this is how the Apostle Paul felt when he left the church at Ephesus for the last time. Paul called the Ephesian elders to him and taught them. And, in Acts 20:32 (ESV) Paul says, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

A Biblical mechanism is at work in Acts 20:32. Depositum fidei is the Latin term for this mechanism. Our Christian translation for depositum fidei is “substance of faith” or “treasury of revelation.” However, the implication is a bit deeper. Depositum fide stems from ancient estate and trust law and probably has something to do with “good faith” or “earnest.”

“Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers” states, “Teachers are to “commit” the truth they have received to others (2Timothy 2:2), and the truth so committed is the depositum fidei which they thus hold, as it were, in trust (2Timothy 1:14).” Therefore, Scriptural truth is the “substance of faith” or “treasury of revelation.” This truth from God abides within teachers. And they hold this “trust” to place, engraft or implant God’s truth in people who are sanctified (i.e., set apart for God).

Quick and Powerful

As for “the word of grace, which is able to build you up” this is undoubtedly the same “word of God, quick and powerful” of Hebrews 4:12.

So, Paul was saying to the Ephesian elders that even though he would not come back to Ephesus. And the Ephesian church was surrounded by evil people with the desire to rip apart their infant church, they would be okay. For, the church had the presence of God, and they had the word of God’s grace which in itself contains life to build up their church and to give them an inheritance in the kingdom of God.

It will be okay. For every Christian child, friend, loved one, or missionary that launches out or is left behind, we “should together share the conviction that each of us is safe because God and the ‘word of His grace’ will go and remain with us.” – MacLaren’s Expositions

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Truth can be hard but lies live forever

EU car license plate that spells LIES

Truth can be hard. I happened to read the article, “The Death Of The Family Secret,” by Jeffrey Young in a HuffPost article. The report delves into the fall-out for two friends that took DNA tests. The subheading of the article is, “Ancestry and other DNA-testing companies are bringing old family secrets to light. These friends are now dealing with the truth about their fathers.

It’s just one of multiple accounts about people uncovering family secrets through DNA testing. In the HuffPost story, there is a compelling statement that reads, “Family secrets are as old as families. The reasons for keeping them haven’t changed much. To cover up a lie or to protect someone or to avoid social stigma. While revealing secrets can cause harm, so too does deceit.”

While there is a difference between family secrets and lies, they often go hand-in-hand. Lies can seem helpful when we tell them. The perpetrators of the crucifixion of Jesus and to think fast when they learned of Christ’s resurrection. So, the concocted a lie. We can read about this in Matthew 28:12-15 NIV:

When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

A lie is such a handy tool

Even today, this specific lie still circulates. A lie is such a handy tool. We believe we can protect ourselves with lies, promote ourselves with lies, or justify our actions and condemn others with our lies. A lie is so easy, but the truth is God’s nature.

We must do as God’s Word says in Ephesians 4:25 (ESV), “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” We can’t help others with lies and lies that we tell will live forever. Even when we confess them, the lies we birth will never go away.

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A million lies cannot produce a single truth

Mints shaped as hearts that say "Be True"

This is a true story: I was recently chastised because I pointed out that a favorite Scripture that is claimed as a promise from God for any believer is not a promise from God for everyone but, in context, was for a specific people at a particular time. Oh no! Too many sermons, too many devotionals, too many Sunday school lessons have taught people that they can acquire that passage for themselves. I would hurt people if I told them the truth.

It makes no difference how pervasive a heresy is, it’s still a lie, and it cannot provide life. A lie cannot be transformed into truth even if some good may come from the lie. From the Church’s very inception, it has continually been called on to build up Christians to withstand heresy.

It has been said that the best lie is one that is mostly true. Church heresies incorporate Truth but then defile it by adding to Truth lies based on human desires.

Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Therefore, it is impossible for a lie to strengthen the Church. Truth maintains its integrity in all circumstances and situations.

Many modern churches seem to be acquiring heresies faster than Microsoft acquires companies. These feel-good lies can never feed people real nourishment. Many theologians know these lies, but they look the other way, fearing retribution or merely thinking the lies will make people feel better.

A lie cannot improve truth because it is born from the flesh. Only God’s Spirit can birth truth that strengthens the Church.

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When they had sung a hymn

There is a small lesson I’d like to share with you. It amazes me how little things in life can craft our most meaningful moments and alter our lives. Society tells us we must do things on a grand scale, go big or go home, and to seek life-altering extravaganzas to create life-affirming experiences – they rarely do.

A few meaningful moments with a family member, friend, or even a passing stranger can often teach us more than the big events in life. For example, my son, daughter-in-law, and I took a selfie a couple of years ago when I traveled to their home for a visit. That selfie captured a special moment that will live with me forever.

Just such a small piece of family history is what I want to share with you today. Growing up with Godly parents was a real blessing. So, to my joy, while reading God’s Word today, a little jewel plopped out. The verse related to a childhood memory I had recently shared with my wife .

My wife and I were talking about the Bible and something triggered a memory. I remembered something my Mother said after every, and I do mean every, communion service. She wasn’t a Bible teacher like my Dad, but she sure knew the “where and why” for her beliefs. Anyway, the Scripture I read this morning was Mark 14:26. It’s about the Lord’s Supper, and it states, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

That verse made an indelible mark on Mom. She always was frustrated with the way most communion services were performed. The church (small “c”) would typically throw communion somewhere into its standard service; the beginning, middle or end; it didn’t seem to matter. That riled Mom.

After the service, she would be sure to tell us how communion was supposed to be performed. She would say, “You share communion, sing a (i.e., one) hymn and leave – no chatting in the sanctuary. That’s just how it’s supposed to be done; that’s how Jesus did it.”

She was correct, as we just read in Mark 14:26. When I read that verse today, I could hear her voice, see her face, feel her conviction. Mom has been gone for quite a while, so this morning’s verse sure felt good.

You know, I remembered her lesson and still believe it. That’s the power of small things from human lives. We each have these opportunities nearly every day. Let’s not overlook them while we’re looking for the “big thing.”

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Unchanging Word

Christians around the world are experiencing growing pressure to be silent, not to preach, not to speak what Jesus taught, and to edit the Bible, so people don’t read out loud a Bible verse that offends someone or their government. Even in our neighbor to the North, Canada, there are portions of the Bible which cannot be read aloud in public or preached.

Recently, I was shocked when reading an online New International Version of the Bible because it didn’t align with the book copy I held in my hand. Very significant changes have been made to the NIV. So much so that I will probably be switching the English Standard Version (ESV).

Astonishingly, the very concept of countries is rapidly disintegrating with the vacuum filled by philosophies, religious alliances, and multi-national corporations. After all, with auto-language translation, automatic currency conversion, and even sans-national currencies like Bitcoin, the “group think” seems to think, “Who needs sovereign nations any more?”

So, what can we expect? Since history repeats itself, then we might find ourselves as those Christians the writer of Hebrews addressed, saying, “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:32-35)

So, while we’re alive, be an imitator of Jesus. Speak truth when silence is expected, show mercy when judgment is expected, show grace when nothing was earned, show temperance when willfulness is expected, show piety when foolish arguments are expected, show boldness when fear is expected, show humility when exultation is offered, remain steadfast when compromise is offered, fall to your knees in prayer when temptation assails, preserve when powers assail, rejoice in the joy of others, mourn when others mourn, love no matter the cost, and above all, be obedient to Jesus.

The world we grew up in is rapidly changing, but God’s Word never changes. That’s why we see in Hebrews 13:14, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Don’t worry; help is on the way.

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