Posts Tagged ‘truth’

We Don’t Have a Soul; We Are One

January 9, 2017

We are a soul that has a body; we’re not a body that has a soul. — John Ortberg, Sr. Pastor of Menlo Churches

We live in such a rationalistic age. Everything is about thinking. We believe in a proposition rather than experiencing God. We study the body in all its intricacies. We study the mind and the brain. We study words and repeat them.

Ancient peoples studied the soul.

What you find by reading the works of those ancient spiritual explorers and even those up until today that there is universal agreement across all cultures that there is a soul.

You, too, can get in touch with your soul.

Stop, pause, consider–who is the thinker of your thoughts?

When is it time to stop thinking, though, and just find that still point of communion with God. No need for words. No need for actions–that comes later. We finally slow down, open up, focus inward beyond thoughts and worries and plans, and bask in the light that comes from God.

Who Do You Say I Am?

December 21, 2016

Jesus is ________.  –sign at a church in downtown Seattle

Jesus and his guys were hanging out at a notorious pagan-influenced area northeast of the Sea of Galillee. They were just chatting around about what people were saying.

Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

One of my news feeds last night served up a headline that brought back up the “Jesus was a hoax” meme. That thought is hardly original. Paul the apostle refuted that one soon after the events.

I was at a technology conference several years ago where the company was showing off technology that could detect wave forms in a signal previously undetectable. The conference theme–“Some things must be believed before they can be seen.”

If your mind is fogged over by cynicism, doubt, negativity, ignorance (willful ignorance?), then you will not see.

John offers seven “I am” statements:

  • The bread of life
  • The light of the world
  • The good shepherd
  • The gate
  • The resurrection and the life
  • The way, the truth, the life
  • The vine

This week I offered the thought “for everyone.”

But this just talks around the issue. (And don’t we love just talking around the issue rather than confronting our own thoughts and feelings?)

How would you fill in the blank? Who do you say Jesus is?

The Secrets Will Be Exposed To Light

October 12, 2016

Is a lamp brought in to be placed under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen.  –Jesus (Mark 4)

In America any boy can grow up to be President. That’s what “they” said when I was young. It meant we had a somewhat egalitarian society where preparation and hard work could get you to the top–if you were a white male, that is.

It was later in my life when “they” changed the boy part to person. And now we have an African-American President with a woman who stands a good chance of succeeding him.

But seriously–would you want to be a candidate for President? Or even US Senator? Maybe even county Commissioner?

Do you want your secrets to come to light? In front of the entire world?

Maybe yes if you did your good deeds in secret and they were exposed.

Give me dirty laundry.  –Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd nailed it many years ago. People like to hear about and read about other people’s dirty laundry. And political campaigns where the candidate is trying to portray themselves as perfect, well, they are an easy target for sleaze.

Let’s bring it closer to home. What if your dirty laundry were aired in public? I have seen numerous people who slept with someone other than their spouse. It became public knowledge in the town, church, business, or wherever. I’ve seen some react angrily that their dirty laundry became public. Well, what did they expect?

I’ve traveled over much of the country on business. Many times I’ve seen people I know from back home. Had I been with another woman (not a business associate–you can tell the difference easily), it would have been exposed even though I were 2,000 miles away from home.

And what about God? Think that your secrets are not plain for him to see?

I wish we were all perfect. Lacking that, we can take Jesus’ words for what they mean and try to live like we’re following him. And our shortcomings will be less.

Not The Old Yeast of Malice

August 10, 2015

Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerety and truth. 2 Corinthinians 5:8

A friend posted a limerick full of hatred and malice on his Facebook page with a comment about the racism and hatred contained in the poem.

By the time I got to it, several people had posted comments attacking my friend (he’s used to it, by the way) and supporting the thoughts as either truthful or protected free speech.

The US Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution) are really what sets us apart in our governance. It limits the rights of the government to trample on the rights of citizens.

Many Americans today, however, in this rebellious and individualist time, confuse freedom with irresponsibility. Many have adopted a lifestyle and opinion that the world revolves around them and that therefore they can talk and act with impunity.

With freedom comes responsibility. No responsibility by the people means eventually no freedom.

Paul wrote a whole letter about freedom. The letter to the Galatians is packed with advice about freedom and what it means. We are free in Jesus, but not free to run around and do anything we choose or say anything we wish.

But I’ll stick with the Corinthians quote.

Many people posted that they knew the truth of the incident (this discussion revolves around the incident in Ferguson, MO).

I beg to differ. From the comments I gather that none had been there as an eyewitness to the events. Even had they been eyewitnesses, all criminal attorneys and police know that eyewitness accounts are the most unreliable versions of the facts of the matter.

It was a truism in a politics class I took in the late 60s and remains true today–almost everyone reads the source of news that most agrees with their predisposed opinions.

If all your knowledge comes from newspaper, TV, and Web news, then you know nothing. You know not one true fact of an incident. Well, maybe one or two, such as the names of the people involved.

Beyond that, when you take up opinions and voice them publicly, then you should beware lest you are partaking of the yeast of malice and evil instead of the unleavened bread of sincerety and truth. I believe that means acting and speaking responsibly.

Leadership Example Speaking Truth With Love

August 22, 2014

Ever have a boss who was ever eager to speak the truth (at least as she or he saw it? They were always ready to point out flaws, failures, something they didn’t like?

How did it feel? Especially if they were emotionally unpredictable? There is probably nothing worse that a leader whose emotions are on a roller coaster and you have no way to predict what the day/hour/minute may bring.

Ever have a boss who refused to speak the truth? Refused to speak up? Made you wonder if they were disconnected? Or interested? Could not present their point of view or confront someone who needed pulled back into the fold?

In the first case, you are probably living in fear. Or at least great uncertainty.

In the second case, if you have initiative, then you just go your own way. Each team member goes their own way. There is no semblance of team unity or focus on mission. If the team members get along with each other, then things will survive for a while. If a team member senses a power vacuum and tries to take over–then there could be critical problems.

I’ve been writing about the apostle John lately. He started out as the first type of leader. Fiery. Combative. The team member in example two who senses the power vacuum and wants to step in.

But John was mentored to speak the truth with Love. Not mushy, sentimental love. But the love that looks at other people and meets them where they are. They give the truth (or instruction or mentoring) aimed at where the other person is in life. Guides them. Mentors them. Reminds them.

A leader firm in vision yet understanding of others in the organization/committee/company leads well.

Sometimes Talking With Someone Is Better

August 20, 2014

John, writing some advice to his church in his second letter, concludes by saying, “There is much I have to write to you, but I would rather not use pen and ink.”

Sometimes talking is better. Today we use electrons flowing through a wire and projected upon a screen rather than the much simpler pen and ink. And that is often worse than any other means. How often have we written hurriedly about some random emotion, pressed “send”, and then lived to regret it? For me–way too often.

I was just on the receiving end of one of those emotional tirades. No thinking through the implications or the reality of the situation. Just a reaction based upon half-truths and then a reputation shot by hitting send.

The appropriate response is to use John as a guide–speak truth in love in person not with pen and ink (or electrons on a screen).

This is not my forte. I can present a speech. I can get by a little with idle chit-chat. But that is difficult. When I was young, I must have been somewhere on the autistic spectrum or something. I wanted to relate, but I couldn’t. Outside of a brief period in adolescence when I was argumentative, I was usually silent. The upside is that people thought I was smart. I remember in my second year of college that I could go entire days without ever speaking a word.

Confrontation is not within my comfort zone.

Recently I was in a situation with a guy who evidently loves argument. He’d get all mad and red-faced. Somehow mentally I’d step back and look at a bigger picture and see it didn’t matter in the long run.

But now there is a situation that the only way to handle is to speak the truth in love. That means confronting my own fears and realizing that I probably won’t be loved in return. But Henry Cloud, author and psychologist, would call that growing up.

Do we know when and how to confront others and when mere argument is just worthless exercise?

Leaders Need To Know Their Place

August 19, 2014

Yesterday I taught on the positive side of 3 John. Gaius was a strong leader, and John had heard about it and complimented him.

But just as our good deeds get talked about and passed around, so do our bad. Diotrephes is singled out as the example of poor leadership in the organization. How would you like to be known and talked about 2,000 years after your death as the guy “who likes to put himself first.”

Diotrephes was the type of person who knew everything. He even knew more than the apostle who walked with Jesus himself! Just as I wrote the other day about if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, so Diotrephes liked thinking he was the smartest guy in the room.

A leader needs to know the purpose and foundation of the organization. Even in leadership, the leader needs to know when to put herself or himself second to someone else. Jesus taught leaders serve. He also taught that leaders teach the truth.

We know this in business. It’s even more important in churches. Leaders must be humble–that is, putting God and others before themselves. The self-promoters are like the wheat on the poor soil in the parable that shoot up quickly but have no staying power. They wither and die.

In whatever we are leading, we must have the perspective of serving others–whether they are customers and employees, or people on our committees, or family members.

I just listened to Andy Stanley talk about how your decisions determine your life story. Do you want your story talked about for years after your death the way Diotrephes’ is?

Your Faith and Witness Speak More Than You Know

August 18, 2014

In this era of the US NSA spying on everyone, we should be aware that people are watching us. All the time.

We had the grandkids for a week a few weeks ago. Their sharp little eyes pick up everything. They are watching.

But even 2,000 years ago, people were watching. John (the Elder) writes in the 3rd letter to Gaius that he has heard reports about how good and faithful to the truth he has been. And he talks about another faithful witness and one who is not a true follower.

John was the last of the apostles alive. He was always concerned with the Truth. As the Elder in the church, he was even more concerned that the essential truth was taught–Jesus lived as a human, Jesus died, Jesus rose from death to live again.

John was also concerned with love–a lesson taught to him by Jesus. A lesson that it took John a few years to learn and incorporate into his life.

You see both in the three letters. And you see both as John writes in love to his friend and compliments him on his work and his life.

Paul also was aware that people are always watching. He writes that he is concerned that he might do something because he is free in the grace of God, but that freedom to do that thing (say eat “unclean” food) might corrupt another who is watching him and who has not yet experienced grace.

I’m always surprised when I hear reports back to me that others are talking about me. Happens professionally all the time–“I heard that you….” I think, “Whoa, am I that important that people talk about me?” I just go on my way daily with no thought that people are watching. But they are.

I hope I’ve been good 😉

A Living Contradiction

July 24, 2014

When you think of the Apostle John, you know, the one who wrote a Gospel, three letters and an apocalypse, what is your vision?

Is he the messenger of love? Or a Son of Thunder?

John MacArthur wrote in his book on the apostles, Twelve Ordinary Men that John grew from a strong, opinionated, ambitious person to someone who could also embody the type of love Jesus pointed to.

MacArthur says that John learned to temper his passion for Truth (one of John’s favorite words) with Love (his other favorite word).

How often are we as young people, perhaps freshly educated (or semi-educated) from the university, so full of truth and ourselves that we just want to command everyone into the proper ways?

Then we grow up at some point in our lives and learn that this truth needs to be tempered by patience, empathy, joy, grace (love). Then we are a complete person.

John has always been my favorite, but not so much for either truth or love, but because he seemed the most “spiritual” whereas Peter seemed the most “practical” of the apostles. Paul also was more of a practical preacher than a spiritual teacher.

MacArthur rightly points out that being a walking contradiction is not a bad thing. Strongly defending truth yet showing love to our neighbor–they go together.