Truth: A Graphic Contrast

truth-2One evening last week, I read Psalm 85 a few minutes before I watched the evening news.  There was a graphic contrast in the manner in which the two considered the subject of truth.

As I watched interviews of politicians and their proficiency in spinning the truth, I wished they had taken the time to read Psalm 85 and to consider the words of both Jesus and Solomon:

  • John 8:32: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
  • Proverbs 12:17: Truthful witness by a good person clears the air, but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit. ~ The Message

The need for honest assessments and truthful dialogue has been the subject of discussion since the advent of man, and I’ve selected a comments as examples:

  • K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
  • Albert Einstein: “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”
  • Augustine: “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

Stephen Covey has said: Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. Trust, however, can be victimized when we are too casual with the truth, and too comfortable with deceit.

The life motto of some people seems to be a question: Why tell the truth when a good lie will do?

The spiritual environment of Ephesus was a polluted atmosphere of toxic distrust due to a litany of lies perpetrated through the worship of Artemis. Because of this, Paul encouraged the church to no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes, but speak the truth in love, so you will grow up into Christ (Ephesians 4:14-14).

I will end this post where I started, and that is with the words of Psalm 85:

Mercy and truth have met. Righteousness and peace have kissed.

Truth sprouts from the ground, and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The Lord will certainly give us what is good, and our land will produce crops.

Righteousness will go ahead of him, and make a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13

Motor Mouths and Idle Chatter

 

ConfidentialWhen I purchased a new computer several years ago, Best Buy packaged it with a copy of a virus protection program called Kaspersky.  I liked the program and would have renewed my subscription except for the fact that it was a Russian company.

I was a bit puzzled by my reluctance to re-subscribe and wondered if it was due to living through the Cold War era. It just didn’t make sense to purchase a virus and spyware program from a country noted for its spying and corruption.

Kaspersky is making news again this week, and guess why—it’s for spying.  The company has developed a program that allows a government or an employer to eavesdrop on your mobile calls. InfoWatch, a subsidiary of Kaspersky, is using technology originally developed for the Soviet KGB, and, they’re trying to market it to businesses and government agencies around the world.

The Russian software company isn’t the only one who has been listening to confidential conversations.  God has been doing it for quite some time, and Jesus issued a warning to motor mouths and their idle chatter: I say to you that for every idle (careless or irreverent) word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

In his classic work, Matthew Henry offers an interesting commentary on the words of Jesus: The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Which is more unsettling to you: the eavesdropping of Big Brother Kaspersky, or the thought that God hears every word you say?  As you think about this, I’ll leave you with two other statements for your consideration:

  • 2 Timothy 2:16: Avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
  • Proverbs 14:13: Idle chatter leads only to poverty.

Boxing, Pampers, and Politics

trump-cruz-liar1Over the last couple of days, I’ve found myself thinking about Jim Mc Donald.  Mac was a gym teacher and a coach at El Dorado High School.

Mac was also a man of practical wisdom, and he had the solution to any problem between hot-headed boys when their disputes got too heated and feisty—boxing gloves.

After a few punches were exchanged, and arms were quickly wearied, the arguments were ended.  None of these matches lasted very long, and I can’t remember anyone getting hurt too badly.

If I could find those gloves, I’d encourage Trump and Cruz to get them on and to get after it.  After a couple rounds of physically pummeling each other, maybe they’d be willing to start debating policy and quit demeaning partners.

I’m sick of hearing Ted whine about Donald’s comments about Heidi, and I’m equally tired of hearing Donald whimper because Ted has slighted Melani. Instead of discussing the weighty issues, Ted and Donald are being characterized by a pettiness that’s ridiculous.

Their nauseating narcissism and infantile behavior is casting a dark shadow on the hopes of the Republican Party, and its effort to elect the next president.

As an old sage once said: “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common, they both need to be changed regularly—and for the same reason!”  The foul behavior of these men have left a rank odor in the air, and I think it’s time they make a change.

A Capital Problem in the Capitol

United-States-Capitol-Building-in-Washington-DCWhen a business begins to run low on capital, the wealth of the company is diminished, and it can eventually lead to bankruptcy.  A current example is the present tailspin being experienced by Valeant Pharmaceuticals.  The price of the stock has ranged from a 52 week high of $263.81 to a closing price of $69.04 on Monday.  Tuesday it lost another 50% and closed at $33.51 a share.

While this capital loss is a concern to the company, its employees, and the investors, it’s been a real punch in the gut to Bill Ackman.  Due to Valeant’s nosedive his hedge fund lost $1 Billion in a single day.

Bankruptcy is not limited to being just a capital problem.  It can also be a Capitol dilemma.  The legislative branch of our government is over its head in debt and at least knee deep in a bankruptcy of morals.

The solution is not Hillary, nor is it Bernie.  The answer is not going to be found in Donald, Ted, Marco, or John.  I think the remedy to our woes is a fresh resolve to embrace godly principles.

Call me “old fashioned,” but I still believe the Bible, and what the Psalms and Chronicles say concerning the blessings of God on a nation:

  • Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Politics has never solved the capital problem in the Capitol, maybe we should give repentance and prayer a chance.

Lincoln Logs and Legos

legosTwo engineering behemoths engaged in some tit for tat this week.  The two heavyweights were the Pope and the Pompous. In a rare exchange with an American politician, the Pope expressed his displeasure with Saint Pompous—Donald Trump.

Pope Francis said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” I think the Pope meant Trump was not acting in a “Christian” way.

Donald, however, is never one to duck an issue, and he made one out of this when he complained the Pope said he was not “a Christian.”

While I’m not a Catholic, I do know that every Pope has been a priest, but only a handful of priests have ever been the Pope. When the Pope spoke of “building bridges” he defined the meaning of the word priest. In Latin “priest” means “bridge builder,”  and  several places in the New Testament focus on the work of priests:

  • Hebrews 4 speaks of the bridge building work of Jesus, and describes Him as a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted like we are; yet He remained pure.
  • I Peter 2:9 speaks of Christians as a “chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God’s own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light.”

When I was a kid, I would use either my  Lincoln Logs, or erector set to build something. Today, a child is more likely to dump his Legos on the floor and begin piecing them together.

Paul didn’t have Lincoln Logs or Legos, but he did know how to build bridges; and he spoke of this when he wrote to Christians at Corinth:

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Ambassadors for Christ share the story of salvation, and they build bridges of grace for God’s glory.  Which story are you telling and what bridge are you building?

From McGuffey to Scalia

gettyimages-72815109_wide-17ba1bcd0f4b1bf198c998306097f36a161abf37-s900-c85Justice Scalia died Saturday, and he will be mourned by many. I had a great appreciation for the judge, and the manner in which he interpreted the Constitution.

Tony Perkins paid tribute to Justice Scalia when he said Scalia “believed the Constitution had an objective meaning that could be understood and applied, and that as a nation we need to abide by it carefully for the sake of liberty, order, and justice.”

Scalia was consistent in his argument that the United States is fundamentally religious at its core, and he recognized the relationship between the Ten Commandments and our legal system: “The principle of laws being ordained by God is the foundation of the laws of this state and the foundation of our legal system.”

While the opinions of Justice Scalia seemed dated to some, they were timely statements that harmonized with some of our historic figures:

  • President James Madison:  We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments of God.
  • Patrick Henry: It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice: Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
  • John Adams: The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.

There was a point in our Nation’s history when it was influenced by William Holmes McGuffey, and his McGuffey’s Reader that was first published in 1836. The foreword of McGuffey’s Reader contained these comments by the author:

The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus are not only basic but plenary. The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.

In lesson 37 of McGuffey’s First Reader the author said:

At the close of the day, before you go to sleep, you should not fail to pray to God to keep you from sin and from harm . . . You should ask him for life, and health, and strength, and you should pray to him to keep your feet from the ways of sin and shame. You should thank him for all his good gifts; and learn while young, to put your trust in him; and the kind care of God will be with you, both in your youth and in your old age.

Sadly, McGuffey’s reader lost a little of its Christian emphasis each time it was revised.  The same is happening with the interpretation of the Constitution, the revisionists keep watering it down—much to the dismay of purists like Scalia.

I’ll close with the words of the Great Lawgiver who influenced both McGuffey and Scalia:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  ~Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-6

Ferhoodlums On The Loose

Truth-or-Lies_thumbThere’s a difference between blending for clarity and mixing things up for the purpose of confusion.  Ferhoodlum is a case in point.  Although you won’t find this word in the dictionary, you can find the two words I have blended to create it:

  • Ferhoodle: To confuse, tangle, or perplex
  • Hoodlum: a thug associated with crime or theft

A ferhoodlum is a person who engages in the premeditated confusion of the facts.  If you’ve watched any of the political debates, you’ve heard the voices of ferhoodlums.  Were these slips of the tongue, honest mistakes, or the crass acts of ferhoodlums?

  • Clinton exaggerated the facts when she claimed Bernie Sanders had benefitted directly from donations from Wall Street.
  • Trump exaggerated the unemployment statistics.
  • Cruz distorted Rubio’s position on immigration.
  • Clinton made misleading statements when discussing Sanders health care plan.

Ferhoodlums are not a phenomenon of 2016, they’ve been misrepresenting the truth for ages, including the New Testament era.  Paul warned the Ephesians of their deceitful tactics: Don’t be “tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit].  But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15 Amplified Bible).”

Unwilling to compromise the integrity of the Gospel, Paul was determined to speak the truth: “Since we are joined together in this ministry as a result of the mercy shown to all of us by God, we do not become discouraged.  Instead, we have renounced all the things that hide in shame; we refuse to live deceptively or use trickery; we do not pollute God’s Word with any other agenda. Instead, we aim to tell the truth plainly, appealing to the conscience of every person under God’s watchful eye (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).”

Proverbs 12 is a clear contrast between those who speak the truth and those who lie: “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue, only a moment. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy (17-20).”

Ferhoodlums should give some careful consideration to Psalm 15: “Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart—who does not slander with his tongue, who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor, but honors those who fear the Lord, and one who keeps his word whatever the cost.”

Lip Service: In Name Only

rhino-trumpI guess it’s somewhat fitting that the date of the Iowa caucus is just a few weeks ahead of Valentine’s Day.  Both are love-hate events, and the language of the participants is characterized by loving phrases of praise or acerbic accusations that are as sharp as Cupid’s arrows.

When lovers and politicians just talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk, they’re labeled as an in-name-only person. This type of false sincerity was the focus of John’s admonishment to young Christians (I John 3:18):

  • Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. ~NKJV
  • Don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. ~The Voice
  • Let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words]. ~Amplified

Donald Trump and a few others vying for the office of President have been accused of being a RINO or a Republican In Name Only.  Individuals like these paint themselves in the colors of the Republican Party and sport a freshly inked GOP tattoo, but they don’t walk the party line.

On Valentine’s Day, a spurned loved may be accused of being a LINO or a Lover In Name Only.  The offender can try to persuade the offended with a box of chocolates and a dozen red roses, but the scent of the flowers can’t undo the smell of betrayal.

My concern is not so much that you might be a RINO or a Lino, but whether or not you are a CINOChristian In Name Only.  Are you a lip-serviceChristian, or are you sincere in your commitment to Him?  As you think about this question, you might want to examine your love-lines and wrinkles in the mirror of John 13:34-35:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Faith, Values, and Politics

fox-debateA recent survey that was conducted by the Pew Research Center involved a national sample of 2,009 adults. The results of this survey, that was take earlier this month, offer some interesting findings:

  • Being an atheist is a big liability for anyone who pursues the office of president.
  • 51% of adults indicate they’d be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who is an atheist.
  • 37% of the respondents say they would be less likely to support a candidate who has been involved in an extramarital affair.
  • 41% of the participants say they would be less likely to support a candidate who has a history of financial struggles.

The chart below looks at the public’s perception of seven of the the people who have tossed their hat into the ring in an effort to become the next President of the United States.

reltableIs it important to you that the President of the United States is a person of strong faith and high moral character?    Do verses like Psalm 33:12 hint that our leaders should be people of faith, and do they influence how you would vote?

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

While the hope of the United States is found in Christ and not the President, the actions and decisions of those we elect to office will either help or hinder the health of our nation.  This is why we should heed Paul’s instructions to Timothy:

I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior  

~2 Timothy 2:1-3

North Korea and a Wee Little Man

 

NKOREA-US-POLITICS-RODMAN-BASKETBALL

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s Supreme leader towered over his father who was just a little over 5 feet tall; however, he appears to be a wee little man when he stands beside his idol Dennis Rodman.  Even though he’s small in stature, Kim caught the world’s attention earlier this week when there was an earthquake near a nuclear test site.

While the focus of the world was on the terrorism of Iran and the mindless madness of the Middle East, North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb under the cloak of darkness.  These claims have been met with suspicion from the rest of world because the seismic wave left by the explosion was smaller than what occurs when a real thermonuclear weapon is detonated.

The narcissistic Supreme Leader of North Korea has a heart that’s as shriveled as his ego is big. He could learn an essential lesson by considering the example of  Zacchaeus (Luke 19), the wee little man who encountered the King of kings and Lord of lords.

As a tax collector, Zacchaeus had some authority, and He was rather rich.  Like Kim Jong-un, Zacchaeus had run rough shod over people, and he had enriched himself at their expense.

The life of this miserable tax collector began to change when he realized something: The wealth of the world can fill your pockets, but it will leave your heart empty.  When he began to examine the life of Jesus, the embezzling heart of Zacchaeus was embellished by the love of God.

The proof of his new found faith was seen in his statement to Jesus: “I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!

Jesus joyfully responded: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

Even though Zacchaeus was a wee little man in the eyes of his peers, he became a prized possession in the eyes and heart of God.  Hopefully, Kim Jong-un will learn this lesson someday.