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.”

The Truth About Truth

truthianmAs I watched the evening news last night and the skilled manner in which the politicians spun the truth, I thought of the words of 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

If the truth will make you free, can you make the assumption that a life of habitual deceitfulness leads to bondage?  To be free, you need to have the courage to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Some people have lived a life characterized by manipulation and deceit to the point that they wouldn’t recognize truth if it appeared to them as their firstborn child.  To help you recognize it and understand it, take note of a quote or two:

  • G.K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
  • George Orwell: “In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
  • 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.”

I’m not sure if Billy Graham had Martin Luther King, Jr in mind when he made the statement above, or if King was thinking of Graham; but the two of them made complimentary statements:

  • Billy Graham: “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
  • Martin Luther King, Jr: “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But, conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

I’ll close with Psalm 85:10 from The Message: “Love and Truth meet in the street, Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss! Truth sprouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies! Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Right Living strides out before him, and clears a path for his passage.”

A Monument to Washington

Washington Monument, Lincoln Reflecting Pool, National Mall, Washington DCThe Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, and during the ceremony a prayer was offered by Reverend Henderson Suter.

As you read the part of that prayer that I have excerpted, notice the high regard that Rev Suter had for President Washington. 

        As we stand beneath the lofty height of this memorial work, and mark the symmetry of its form, we would remember Washington’s high character, and all the virtues which in him, builded-up the man.

A leader fearing God; a patriot unstained by self; a statesman wishing only the right, he has left us an example for whose following, we supplicate thy help, for ourselves and for all who are now and hereafter be, the instruments of thy providence to this land and nation.

        O God the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, bless today, and henceforth, thy servant the President of the United States and all others in authority.

        To our Congress ever give wisdom.  Direct and prosper all their consultations.  May our judges be able men, such as fear God, men of truth—governed in judgment only by the laws.  May our juries be incorruptible, ever mindful of the solemnity of the oath, and of the great interests depending on its keeping.

        O God…Heal every wound opened by human frailty, or by human wrong.  Let the feeling of brotherhood have the mastery over all selfish ends, that with one mind and one heart, the North and the South, and the East and West, may seek the good of the common country, and work out that destiny, which has been allotted us among the nations of the earth.   

Rev. Suter described Washington as, “A leader fearing God; a patriot unstained by self; a statesman wishing only the right . . .” Contrast this description with the political climate and moral fiber you see in our elected officials of today. 

Either something is missing or I’m missing something, but I think there is a stark contrast between now and the time of Washington and his peers.  Many of these men were signers of the Declaration of Independence, and their resolve is seen in the final sentence of this cherished proclamation: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

The need of the hour is a spiritual awakening that begins with prayer: “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:1-4).”

Judge Scalia and Jiggery-Pokery

scalia2According to Justice Antonin Scalia, the decision of the Supreme Court to allow health care subsidies nationwide is nothing less than “jiggery-pokery.”

After a little research, I’ve learned that jiggery-pokery is associated with the dishonest manipulation of the truth.  This is what Justice Scalia felt the majority of his fellow judges had done when they twisted the truth and skillfully sidestepped it by misinterpreting the words of the law.

Paul gave a jiggery-pokery warning to Christians in several different churches.  He alerted them to the danger of being deceived by “persuasive words, fine sounding arguments, and those who change the truth into a lie.”

Recognizing the truth in a world filled with deceit can be difficult.  This is why we need to heed the words of Paul:  “Do everything you can to present yourself to God as a man who is fully genuine, a worker unashamed of your mission, a guide capable of leading others along the correct path defined by the word of truth.”

The Sinister and the Saint

eyeI’m not sure if I should label it progression or regression, but I have gone from wearing no glasses, to bi-focals, and for several years now I have moved into the tri-focal stage.

Each step in this vision process involved a trip to the eye doctor and a prescription for new glasses.  The last time I got a new prescription for eyeglasses, I noticed the abbreviations OS and OD. The OS is for the left eye, and it is a Latin abbreviation that means “oculus sinister.”   The right eye is OD and is the Latin “oculus dextrus.”

The fact that I have a sinister left eye, made me curious, and I looked at the etymology of oculus sinister and dextrus:

  • The Latin meaning of sinister speaks of that which is “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left.”
  • Dextrus has the meaning of being “right or ready.”

In these two words, we see the struggle that each of us face.  It is the conflict between evil and good or flesh and spirit.  In Romans 8:5, Paul said:  “For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

Since your “outlook” is determined by the flesh or the spirit, you may want to take an “in-look” at what the Bible says about desire:

  • James 1:14-15: Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him.  Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
  • Proverbs 27:20: Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
  • 2 Peter 2:14: Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, they entice unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices.

Which one of your eyes guides you?  Do you see the world through the sinister side or the saintly side?   I encourage you to take a look at your life, and consider using the words of Psalm 119:36-38 as your prayer for today:

“Turn my heart toward Your Law, so I will not earn money in a wrong way.  Turn my eyes away from things that have no worth, and give me new life because of Your ways.  Keep Your promise to Your servant, the promise You made to those who fear and worship You.”

In God We Trust

In-God-We-TrustIt jingles and jangles in a jar, and it rattles around in your pocket or coin purse.  It bears the message, “In God We Trust.”

While you are well-aware of the inscription on your coins, is that motto your life theme?  Do you trust in God?

Let me rephrase the question:  “Can you trust in God?”  Is the character of God worthy of your trust?

When you read the Psalms, it is very clear that the writers of Scripture believed in the trustworthiness of God:

  • Psalm 9:10: Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
  • Psalm 13:5: But I trust your mercy. My heart finds joy in your salvation.
  • Psalm 37:3,5: Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness . . . Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
  • Psalm 56:4: In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?

After you have given some consideration to the verses above, the next question for you is, “Will I trust in God?”

Solomon said that you are to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).”

When the wise sage said you are to “lean not” he was saying that you are not to prop yourself up with you own wisdom.  Instead you are to “acknowledge” or trust God and allow Him to “direct your paths.”

The next time you pull a coin out of your pocket, take the time to read the inscription: “In God We Trust.”  Then examine your life and ask yourself:  “Am I trusting God?”

A Normal Failure

images (2)Success and failure are the topics of many discussions.  In the Proverbs, Solomon draws a contrast between the “God-loyal people” and the “wicked” and how they manage the difficult times they face:

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” ~Proverbs 24:15-16

When a person is successful, he hears the cheers of the crowd; however, when he fails, the whispers of the same people are heard as an agonizing shout.  Failure is, however, a normal part of a person’s life.

With this in mind, let me share my Top Ten Failure Quotes:

  • Failure is not falling down: It is staying down.
  • “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
  • “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
  • Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
  • Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. ~Lloyd Jones

When I think of a God-loyal person, I think of Tim Tebow.  This young man had a stellar career as a college quarteback.  When his professional career came to an abrupt halt, some peole labeled him as a failure.

Tebow stayed in shape, continued to work hard, and he signed a contract with the Eagles this week.  He is anything but a failure, and he is a living example of Solomon’s words: “God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet . . . “

Follow the Leader

Follow_the_Leader_Photo1When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word.  I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.

In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said:  “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

  • Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
  • Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.

In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

  • Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
  • Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.

In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

  • Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
  • Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.

Here’s the simple truth:  You can follow or be hollow.  When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places.  When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.

The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion:  “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”

Who is Jesus?

easter01This is a momentous week in the life of the church.  Because it has been framed by two monumental events of history, it is the week traditionally referred to as “holy week.”

It’s a week that began with Palm Sunday, and it will end this Sunday with the celebration of Easter.  Palm Sunday is associated with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and Easter is the joyful recognition of His resurrection.

There’s a three word question that was asked by those who observed Jesus on Palm Sunday. As He rode a white donkey through the narrow and dusty streets of Jerusalem, they asked:  “Who is this?”

The Gospel of John presents a group of witnesses that offer a line of testimony that answers this question:

  • John testifies that Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage supper of Cana.
  • The nobleman gives a detailed account of how Jesus simply spoke and his dying son was healed.
  • The man who had been crippled for 38 years jumps in the air and clicks his heels together to show the miraculous manner in which Jesus healed him.
  • The little boy holds up an empty lunch pail and says: “It had just enough food for my dinner, but Jesus blessed it and there was enough to feed 5,000 people.”
  • The seasoned fishermen relive the moment when they thought their boat was going to sink and they were going to drown: “The Master appeared out of nowhere, walked on the waves, commanded the water to be still, and we were saved.”

After listening to all the testimony, a man rises and says:  “May I speak?  I think my evidence is conclusive.  You see, I was dead, but somehow I heard the clear and loud voice of Jesus:  ‘Lazarus come forth,’ and I shook off the chains of death.  I’m living proof of who Jesus is.”

Who is this?  Jesus is:

  • The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
  • The Bread of Life.
  • The Light of the world.
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  • Resurrection and the life

Who is Jesus to you?

A Joyful Heart

Beautiful smiling cute babyMy concept of God might be different than yours.  I believe God is loving, caring, and full of joy.  God gave us our sight so we can have the pleasure of seeing rainbows,  butterflies, and majestic mountain ranges.

I thank God that He blessed me with the sense of smell, so I can enjoy the aroma of a freshly baked cake; and I am overjoyed that He created me with taste buds, so I can savor the flavor of apple pie topped off with a big dip of vanilla ice cream.

On my journeys into the wilderness, I’ve enjoyed the solitude of silence that is only interrupted by the chirping of a bird, the whistle of a quail, or the refreshing sound of a flowing river.

I’m glad that God wants His people to experience the wonder of joy and the fruit of happiness.  Solomon wrote of this in the Proverbs: “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit . . . a cheerful heart has a continual feast (15:13, 15).”

A couple of chapters later, Solomon draws a contrast between the joyless and the joy-filled:    “One with a twisted mind will not succeed, and one with deceitful speech will fall into ruin. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (17:20, 22).”

Since a joyful heart is good medicine, here’s a medicine chest full of quotes:

  • The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. ~ Booker T. Washington
  • If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it. ~John Templeton
  • You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God has anointed you with the oil of joy. ~Hebrews 1:9
  • I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. ~John 15:11-12

The key to living a life of joy is found in the words of the Psalmist:  “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” ~Psalm 16:11

Three questions come to mind when I think of the verse above:

  • Since God reveals the path of life to you, why take a detour?
  • If abundant joy is found in His presence, what do you have when you refuse it?
  • If eternal pleasures are in God’s right hand, what is left? Temporary and unfulfilling worthless worries?

I’ll close with the words of Paul:  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” ~Philippians 4:4