What is The Truth? Personal Motives

Last week we offered a standard definition of truth so that at least we would have a reference for our discussion concerning this often misunderstood topic. We defined truth as “The real facts about a situation, event, or person” and we applied that as a test for some well known groups of people. We talked about how there are people who want you to believe that everything they say is the truth and cannot be denied. We were rather hard on professors, politicians, and preachers but I want to make it clear that everyone who falls into one of those three groups do not necessarily think and act as the group was portrayed. I think we all realize that there is always those bad apples in any group we would decide to select but many times there are more than we would like to believe.

This brings us to the point where the rubber really meets the road. The fact is that we all are guilty at times of trying to make others believe that what comes out of our mouths and what actions we take are grounded in truth. The reasons for this misguided assumption can be many but they all are selfish in motive. When we started this series a couple of weeks ago, my son-in-law, Chad Holder, returned a comment to the post that really underlines some of those root causes. With his permission I have included in today’s post below.

Chad Holder: I came across a recent article in which someone stated they must “tell their truth.” It was a terrible reminder that truth is no longer just that, truth and true, but it has become a victim of relativity, indifference, and only gauged by the perspective in which it is viewed. No longer are we bent toward or away from truth, but rather we do all we can to bend truth to our whims and wishes. That makes us feel better, I suppose. Looking forward to this series. God help us be broken over His truth, and then help us transparently live it. P.S. Thanks for supper.

Chad has summed it up pretty well. We have made the word truth into something we can manipulate into what we want it to be and then spend our time trying to make others believe it meets the test of the standard definition we gave. And the only people we are fooling is our foolish selves. How foolish can we be?

Next week we will end the series by revealing the real facts about truth. With God’s Word as our standard there will be no doubt that truth is much more than just a word. So stay tuned.

What is the Truth? Facts or Opinions

Before we really can begin to look at what truth is, it may be wise to start with a standard definition that can be found in the dictionary. There are numerous dictionaries that we can refer to and I have looked up the definition of truth in several of them. They all may slightly differ but I believe they can all be summed up with the following one sentence definition;  “Truth is the real facts about a situation, event, or person”. So let’s keep this definition in mind as we move ahead with our discussion.

Now that we have a basic, standard definition of truth, we can put that definition to the test by looking at a few samples of what certain people declare to be true. First, let’s consider the teachers and professors in the world of academics. Most of us send our youngsters off at an early age to public schools and turn them over to educated people who we should be able to trust to teach them facts about many subjects. Then we send them off to colleges and universities as teenagers assuming they will get an education that is also based on facts. But what we are beginning to see today is that many of our institutions of higher learning are filled with demons disguised as professors who have personal agendas and are teaching based on opinion instead of fact, presenting those opinions as truth to their unsuspecting students. And before you know it, opinion becomes fact in their minds. And folks, it is getting worse by the day.

Now, let’s move on to another group. What about politicians? Especially some of those in positions of power in our government who want us to believe that homosexuality is a perfectly normal lifestyle and that we should accept it as such. They want us to believe that an unborn baby is not a human being and that abortion is not murder. They want us to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that Allah is God. They want us to believe that our system of capitalism should be replaced with socialism and that our trust should be in the government itself. And they are doing everything they possibly can to force all of the above on everyone of us. But the fact is that many people will believe them and accept what they say as truth. However, they wouldn’t know truth if it jumped up and spit in their face. They portray evil as good and are the essence of the very evil they portray.

Well, we find these type of people in our schools and our government but are these the only places? I wish it were so but no. I’m sad to say that we also can find them in some of our churches. Believe it or not, there are some preachers who have personal  agendas  and are using whatever means necessary to develop a following among the members. They compromise the Word of God or even twist it around to make it fit their perverse theology. And just because they are so-called “men of God” many will believe their lies as if they are the truth. We also find these charlatans all over the television and some of them with huge followings and even private jets. And they also are perverting and watering-down the Gospel to support their agendas. and most of the time they are driven by the desire for money. But I assure you my friend, all of these false teachers will be held accountable for the poor souls they have misled and there will be a special place in hell for them.

I’m sure some of you, if not most of you, have had specific names come to mind as I’ve described some of these types of folks. But there is no doubt that there are other groups of people with much the same motives as discussed above. And all of them are also far away from the truth and certainly fail the definition test we provided earlier. When we talk about truth there is confusion as to what truth really means or is. I think most of us understand what it is not but can we really put into words what truth is? In many ways we do the same things as those I have mentioned above to rationalize why we say what we say and act the way we act. So next week the focus will change and the spotlight will be on us as individuals and how we see truth. 

What is the Truth?

Although I had written part of the post during the week last week, I failed to complete it and send it out before we left on vacation this past Saturday. And to be honest with you, I simply forgot to finish it when we arrived at our hotel in Tifton, Georgia that evening. And in addition to that, it never entered my mind as we traveled on Sunday to our final destination here in Cape Canaveral, Florida. As a matter of fact, if I had not been reminded of it in a text from a good friend this morning it would probably have been this coming Saturday before I realized what had happened. So thank you Mike Bailey for holding me accountable to the task. And now that all of the excuses are out of the way let’s move on with last week’s post.

For some time now I have been considering doing a short series on what I believe is a very simple yet very important topic, but one that is constantly misused and abused by many people. And that is the truth! Yes, I mean the topic is truth and I want to take a look at what it means to different people in different situations and bring it all the way back around to its simplicity. For instance, if you look closely at the second sentence in this paragraph you will see an example of exactly what I am talking about. When I made the statement “And that is the truth!” it seemed obvious that I was referring to what I had said in the sentence before it. But which part? Is it that the topic is simple and important or is it that it is misused and abused? Is it all of the above or is it not even close to any of those things? Well, I think you see what I am talking about.

I can remember growing up as a child and being told by my parents and others that I should always tell the truth. Certainly, what they meant by that was that I should never tell a lie or much simpler put, an untruth. I’m sure most of you were raised being taught much the same thing. As a result, we developed an understanding that this is how the world around us should operate and in many cases set us up for believing some things others said out of respect for them. But we found out later that it was not always the case that what we were told by those we were taught to respect was not always the truth. And that is when we began to question who we could trust and have confidence outside of our parents. We just knew they would never tell us an untruth. So that brings us to the point of asking a profound question; “Who can we trust”? We will get to that answer by the time we finish the series.

In our post this coming Saturday we will take a look at a number of different people and what they stand for and make some recommendations as to whether they are speaking the truth and if we can trust them. So hang on, there is more to come.   

 

Memorial Day(s)

The day ran out on me yesterday and before I knew it, it was gone. After preparing for a birthday party at our pool for one of our granddaughters and then the party itself, it was very late before everyone finally got away. By that time I had gone as far as I could go and decided to wait until this afternoon for the weekly post so that I would have a clear mind. 

What I had on my mind all week was the upcoming Memorial Day and how so very thankful we all ought to be for being born in this great country, in spite of all its problems. In addition to that, how grateful we should be for those who were willing to pay the ultimate price to insure we continue to have the freedoms that have been afforded us over the past two hundred plus years. I believe most of us do not truly realize the magnitude of the sacrifice that these heroes provided for those freedoms. I can only speak for myself but I know that I am not as thankful as I should be and seem to forget about these great Americans until I’m reminded again when this time comes around. So let’s pause right now and say thank you God for emboldening these men and women to give their lives for the sake of freedom!

But also at this time I’m reminded of the One who paid the ultimate price by a horrible death on a cruel cross to pay a sin debt for us, because He loved us so much. For Jesus to lay aside His glory and come to this earth and be born to live as a man was a sacrifice in itself. Then to live on this earth and be tempted such as we are was another sacrifice He made. But, thank God, He refused to yield to any temptation and lived a perfect life without sin so that He could become that perfect Sacrifice required by the Father to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him. So even more should we be thankful for what Jesus did for us at Calvary and we should be constantly reminded that without Him there would be no hope for us or any man. So I say again let’s pause right now and say thank you God for your great salvation plan and give us the courage to keep sharing the wonderful news of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. To God be the glory and honor forever and ever! Amen.

Life & Death Reminders

This week I have again been reminded of some of the fundamental truths of life that, without certain events taking place, I would have surely missed them. As we journey through this life we get so caught up in the everyday details that we fail to recognize some of  the more important things that God wants to teach us. But He has a way of using things outside our normal routines to do just that or, at the very least, remind us of the truths that we have almost forgotten. And He has done that for me this past week.

Here is truth number one. Physical death is imminent unless our Lord returns. This week Reassurance had the opportunity to minister to someone who has been advised that they have a terminal illness and time is short for them. But as we shared our time and our music with him, I was reminded that we all are terminally sin sick and only Jesus has the cure. And we need to be about the business of sharing that cure with others. And this leads me to truth number two.

Truth number two is this. Life is precious and time is valuable. This week we attended the Honors Day ceremony for the graduating class that our grandson is a member of. And next week will be Graduation Day for all of them. But as I watched the presentation of awards and scholarships it was obvious that these kids were excited that this part of their journey was ending. But I wondered to myself if they realize how precious life is and that the way they use their time will have a major impact on their successes and yes, even their failures. In a way, life is just beginning for them and they all have their own dreams of how they want life to be. I was reminded that many years ago I was in the same position as they are but little did I know that events in my life would alter the course I had chosen. God certainly had other plans for me and I’m so thankful that He intervened in my life to direct me on the path He had for me. I hope and pray that these kids, and especially our grandson, will allow Him to do the same for them.

Some of us are growing and some of us are fading but we still have lessons to learn and a great teacher to share His truths with us. And for that we should be thankful. To God be all the praise and honor and glory forever and ever! 

Whosoever Will

I have noticed a disturbing trend that is beginning to occur on social media, especially Facebook, and I want to make everyone aware of it. In the last couple of months I have read posts by several people that seem to be using the social media to push their obvious favorable view of reformed theology. For those of you who are not familiar with that term, I’m actually referring to Calvanism. Some of the posts are certainly for a the purpose of trying to convince someone that it is the only acceptable theology in today’s world because it is the only true theology. Some of the posts have been out of sincere ignorance that they would be a help to someone else. And the fact is, I have not heard one person voice any rebuttal or read one word of rebuttal by anyone. I don’t know if it is because it is so subtle that others are not seeing it or that those who do see it don’t consider it a problem. But for the record, it is a problem for me.

I’m not one to carry on a debate on social media or debate theology at all because it serves no real purpose. But I’m certainly opposed to anyone who uses social media to prey on people who may not be knowledgeable of the scriptures and thus are misled by that person’s post. And for that person I say that you need to study God’s Word in its entirety and in context instead of hanging your hat on a few verses in one book of the Bible. 

I agree with the words of one our local pastors; “When you remove whosoever will from the gospel, you have just perverted it.” And friends, a perverted gospel is becoming more common place. I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus died for all, shed His blood for all, paid the sin debt for all, and desires that all men come to Him in faith and repentance. But all men have a choice to make because He did that. When a man rejects Christ he has brought condemnation on himself and becomes without excuse. Jesus paid it all!

I am so thankful that my parents raised me to believe that John 3:16 says it all. I am so thankful that other folks in my life reinforced the same gospel and the good news became real to me. I am so thankful for a godly Sunday School teacher that told us the story of His death on the cross because He loved us so much. And I thank God that he spoke to me as young boy and I said yes to His call. His precious gift of salvation came to be a reality in my own life.

So if I seem to be frustrated and on the defensive you can understand why. God desires that all men come to Him but knows that all won’t. So I don’t won’t to hear about unconditional election, limited atonement, or irresistible grace. I just want to hear “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. And that is the true theology. To God be the glory forever and ever!

He’s Everywhere!

Tonight’s post is coming live to you from Desoto, Missouri, a small town just south of St. Louis. Becky and I are on a weekend getaway, something we very seldom get to do. We spent most of the day today at Six Flags walking around and watching all the young folks enjoying themselves. Later in the afternoon we went downtown St. Louis and made a short visit to the Gateway Arch. It has been nearly forty years since we first saw the arch and it still remains an unbelievable engineering feat. Man has accomplished many things that on the surface seem to be impossible but we must not forget that the talents and abilities along with the knowledge are simply gifts from God. He is the creator and sustainer of all things and all that we are and all that we have and all that we do that is good comes from His bountiful grace. Man has accomplished nothing on his own!

Later in the evening we had dinner at a local restaurant the specializes in Mexican food and it was as good as any we have had anywhere. And as we were driving back to the condo we saw a beautiful site that most people have never seen. We actually saw what is commonly called a shooting star and it seemed we could almost reach up and touch it. As it fell it left a train in it’s wake and it was extremely bright. We had never seen anything quite like it before. And as I watched it finally disappear, the thought came to me that God had placed every star in place and named them one by one. And when one falls it is not without His knowledge and even his direction.

With all of this said, I know you are not that interested in our short vacation excursion but there is a point to all of this. As we watched those people at the amusement park today, we saw God’s handiwork in each one of them. As we gazed at that mighty arch this afternoon we saw God’s willingness to bless folks with abilities to perform great things. And as we watched that star and the beautiful trail of its final voyage we saw God’s hand in control of HIs universe. In other words, when we stop and look around us, we will see Him who is Lord and Master over all. He’s everywhere! 

The Real Thing

It has been a very busy week for me as Spring brings with it quite a number of tasks that need to be done to prepare for the Summer ahead. Back to mowing grass, weeding shrub beds, cleaning gutters, washing windows, and making the pool ready for the swimming season. It also seems my job has brought with it a whole different set of tasks that has required a great deal of my attention not only this past week but the week before. All of this has left little time to prepare this week’s post so, like last week, it will be short but it will be to the point.

This evening our quartet, Reassurance, had the honor of ministering to and worshiping with the group of fellow believers at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. It is a small church in the Petersville community with small numbers yet with a worldwide outreach. They presently have folks on the mission field in Honduras doing short term work. In spite of their small numbers they are playing a role in making the Great Commission a reality. And it is sad to say, but there are other much larger churches that don’t take serious the task at hand. I think a lesson could be learned here.

But what I really want to point out tonight is the character of these people and many others like them in small churches everywhere. As we minister in these places we find out how much these people love Jesus and are not afraid to voice it and show it. There is no facade or mask they hide behind.  They just live their life as if it is natural to serve Him because of what He did for them. It takes me back to a time when you could find this in just about every church and it really didn’t matter what the “denomination” was. I don’t know for sure what has happened but I would venture to guess that the church has become so much like the world that you can’t tell the two apart. I think that there are a whole lot more people “playing” church than we really want to admit. God help us!

I long to see those earlier times again. I want to be around those kind of people that we were with tonight. I love seeing the love of Christ in their faces and experiencing it in their actions. Thank you God for using this small group of believers to remind me what real Christianity looks and acts like. Make me more like them. 

Rising and Reigning

This evening’s post is relatively short as we prepare to celebrate Easter Sunday. I just wanted to remind all of us how important the resurrection is to our faith. So hear it is. 

Tomorrow is the greatest holiday celebrated in the world of Christianity because it was the final nail in the Devil’s casket. From the beginning, if there was one, Almighty God had a plan to reconcile man to Himself. Before He created man, He knew man would lose his innocence by giving in to his own pride. But He had prepared a way for us to return to His fold like sheep who have gone astray. It was a plan that included a perfect sacrifice, One that would become sin for us so that we could receive His righteousness. The man Jesus, God’s only Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, living a sinless life, dying on a cruel cross, being buried in a borrowed tomb rose on the third day just like He said, just like God planned, defeating death and hell, ascended back to Heaven and sat down at the Father’s side awaiting the time to return for His bride and begin His reign forever and without end. What a glorious day was Resurrection Day!

With that said, I also want to pass on something I received from my pastor after last week’s post. He had read it in SBC Voices and I think it is a great addition to the series on satellite churches we just completed. I have included it in the following paragraphs. 

The Shepherd and the C.E.O

Below is a comparison between the Shepherd and C.E.O. I pray God moves in our hearts and we reflect the heart of The Good Shepherd.

  • E.O. Leaders use people for progress
    • Shepherd Leaders love and invest into people
  • E.O. Leaders see friendship and pastoral work as an obstacle to success.
    • Shepherd leaders see friendship and pastoral work as success.
  • E.O. leaders see accountability as a challenge to their authority.
    • Shepherd leaders see accountability as caring for their heart.
  • E.O. leaders know how to work the system and manipulate to get their way.
    • Shepherd leaders know how to work through things with others to get God’s way.
  • E.O.  leaders build a talented team to carry out their vision.
    • Shepherd leaders build a talented team to cultivate the church and each other.
  • E.O. leaders see other churches as competition.
    • Shepherd leaders see other churches as family.
  • E.O. Leaders use the Bible to reveal their vision
    • Shepherd leaders use the Bible to reveal Jesus

I believe that this speaks volumes and like I told my pastor, it is apparent to me that there are not enough Shepherds and way too many CEO’s. I also pray that God moves in our own hearts so that we can reflect the heart of The Good Shepherd, the very One we celebrate tomorrow.

Thank you Brother Mark for sharing this.  

One Church, One Lord!

We have spent the last three weeks discussing what I refer to as satellite churches in an attempt to determine if their presence have a real place in the evangelical church world of today. However, as I have previously pointed out, the real question is whether or not their existence is supported by scripture and then what are the real motives behind the start of one. As we close out this series tonight, I will be the first one to admit that I don’t have all the answers but I certainly have my opinions as everyone else does. But I endeavor to base my opinions on what the Word of God says because it is the authority.

In last week’s post I listed a few potential motives that could be involved in the rapid growth of these churches. And I use the term “church” rather loosely in this case because a believe it lacks several things that meet New Testament criteria. From the information I have gathered, there is no resident pastor for the local congregation and there are no serving deacons/elders that have been selected by the local congregation just to name a couple of concerns. It doesn’t appear that to me that there is an avenue for the believers to use their God-given spiritual gifts to edify the church body. I do not know how tithes and offerings are handled and who is accountable for the stewardship of them. I don’t know how systematic group bible study is conducted and how discipleship of new believers is undertaken. So I am rather skeptical about the bible based validity of these organizations and the motives for their being established.

I will certainly admit that I am very old-fashioned in my ideas and convictions regarding the  structure and purpose of the local church. I believe local evangelism is number one, outreach to the rest of the world with the gospel through missions is next, and the necessity and criticality of the spiritual growth of believers through fellowship and bible study is essential. I will also admit that the dramatic growth in communications technology has brought to the table some new ways to conduct business but I’m not sure it is all that useful in the church world for anything but sharing the gospel. And even then it will never take the place of face-to-face interaction and one-on-one witnessing. So, for me, I am so thankful that I have a wonderful church family that comes along beside me to bear my burdens but also hold me accountable for the way I live my life.

In closing, I would like to point out that as we look at God’s Word there are things that seem to lend themselves to a different interpretation and/or formation of differing opinions by folks but we need to be careful that we don’t take something that in the great scheme of things is nonessential and try to build a theology on it. We certainly need to stand firm on the essentials of correct theology and make no apologies for it. But sound theology is not based on opinion but on the authority of God’s Word.

Well, I warned you that this would be an interesting series and I think it has proved to be such. Most of the time, discussing something like this leads to more questions than answers. There is one thing is for sure; there is coming a day when everything will be revealed and answers to questions we have had will be available. However, I doubt we will care about many of those answers because we will be so caught up in the presence of Jesus that those questions won’t matter. Can I get an amen?