Category Archives: Truth

Truth – Jesus tells us the

Well, everybody’s friend Charley Brown goes to dark-haired Lucy Van Pelt.  She offers psychiatric advice at 5 cents a clip.  Charley’s question is the usual—will he ever be mature and well-adjusted?  Lucy says she’ll have to have her fee in advance.  Why in advance? he asks.

Because, she says, he won’t like the answer.  San Diego U-T, 5/23/17

A very timely story relating to people in their search for happiness, fulfillment, pleasure and prosperity.  How can they find any, or all, of those things?

If they want a preacher’s feel-good answer, ask that guy in Houston—or any number of other guys preaching “feel good” sermons.  If they want a secular psychologist’s answer, ask any degreed doctor.  He’ll say the same as the guy in Houston.  If you want a financial wizard’s answer, ask Buffet or Dobbs.

But if you want the truth, go to Jesus and ask, “Lord, how can I be happy, well-adjusted and secure?”  You won’t like the answer, but it will be the truth.  For Jesus Christ says the way to receive all that people seek in vain in every other way they seek, he gives free of charge at our personal self-denial and service in his kingdom.

Understand that Christ’s promise comes certainly and surely, but also conditionally.  It comes easily, without looking or working for it.  But it also comes with the hardest challenge we’ll ever face at the highest cost we’ll ever pay:  Denial of self!

Give up the right to rule yourself.  Turn over the mortgage on your life to Christ’s sacrifice.  Let him determine what you believe, how you think, how you live.  He’ll provide all you need for a successful life.

We won’t like the first condition.  It’s unnatural.  But we’ll like the result of paying its price.

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Truth – twin from two scriptures, Part III

Philippians 1:20-26 and II Timothy offer complementary truths about discipleship.  The former refers to in-life and the latter to end-of-life discipleship.  They teach that all Christians are important Somebodies to God; and that our inheritance in Christ is real, if not easily gained. 

Third – We Can Always Look to the Future

When famous Western explorer and scout Jim Bridger grew old and blind, his daughter took him to her home in Missouri.  He customarily walked into the backyard and looked westward.  To a world he had known and mastered.  Seeing visions of discoveries made.  Remembering dangers experienced and survived.  Imagining high mountains mantled in snow and great valleys carpeted in green.

A world he had known but would never again personally experience:  gone by reason of time passing and age increasing; of friendships and enmities past and forgotten; of trails traveled and rendezvous vanished.  Memories that could never be taken from him.  But only memories they were and memories they remained.

However young or old Christians are, we’re not standing in the backyard of life, remembering.  We’re in the front yard looking in Anticipation to Heaven’s frontier.  We don’t want to become again what we can’t have and can never again be.  We want to move forward to all God has for us.  We’re even now looking beyond what is to what shall be:  beyond suffering to joy, beyond tears to laughter, beyond aging to agelessness, beyond our mortality to immortality, beyond experiences that come and go to those that come and STAY forever.

As he nestled in wife June Allyson’s arms, the dying Richard Powell opened his eyes, took a deep breath and sighed that he was sorry, so sorry.  He took a deep breath and died.

Sitting by his bed, Kitty heard her dying missionary husband Jim McKinnon stir.  She quickly stood at his side and dropped her head to listen as he whispered.  And this is what she heard:  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…Hallelujah!  Then he died.

While we live, and when we die, will we settle for regret when we can embrace JUBILATION?  Will we leave this life feeling sorry or extolling the Lamb of God who loved us and gave himself for us?

Won’t we let the glory of our future radiate its glow over our daily experience, living in the fullness of Grace Jesus offers even here, even now?  Knowing we haven’t seen ANYTHING YET!  – Finis –

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Truth – twin from two scriptures, Part II

Philippians 1:20-26 and II Timothy 4:6-8 relate to in-life discipleship and end-of-life discipleship.  Both relate to our faith in Christ, our work for him and our reward for it.

First, we are always Somebody to God.

Second, Our Inheritance is Real, if Not Easily Gained 

The late humorist Art Buchwald professed ignorance of what happens after death.  Yet, during his hospice stay, he continued to speak of Heaven as the place where he would continue after death.

That’s a problem in our culture:  we exaggerate irrelevancies such as politics and trivialize essentials such as Heaven.  Our instinctive belief is:  you live, you die, you go to Heaven.  When Yankee great Phil Rizzuto died, George Steinbrenner said that Heaven must have needed a shortstop.

As if Heaven isn’t complete until WE get there.  As if it’s simply MORE of what’s now going on here.  As if God won’t punish the unbelieving or reward the faithful.  And, most importantly, as if Heaven is easy to find and easier to enter.

But no…Heaven is hard to find unless we know the ONE who knows the way there because he IS the Way.  Jesus is the Way.  And it’s impossible to enter Heaven unless the ONE who determines who’s worthy to enter SAYS we can.  And Jesus is the Judge.

The heathen ancients had no clear understanding of why each human generation in its turn died.  Aesop spoke for them when he made Death a supernatural being.  Aesop’s Fables #261, p. 245.  The Hebrews had a very clear understanding:  every human generation died because Adam forfeited eternal life by disobeying God.  In I Corinthians 15:49, the apostle referred to that reality and to Christ’s reversal of it:  “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”

Yes, we must follow Adam into the grave.  But believers shall follow Jesus Christ out of the grave and into everlasting life:  where no graves exist because death has died forever; where no sick rooms exist because no illnesses besiege; where no rehab centers exist because no accidents befall; where no one ever had to get better because everyone is always at his BEST!   –  End Part II –

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Truth – twin from two scriptures, Part I

The blogs this week come from a memorial service for a Christian lady.

Since God’s Spirit inspired holy men to record God’s word, appropriate lessons can be found by studying different texts relating to a common subject.  Consider the scriptures in Philippians 1:20-26 and II Timothy 4:6-8.

Both were written by the apostle Paul approximately 5 years apart.  Philippians is to in-life discipleship what II Timothy is to end-of-life discipleship.  The former keeps our present life committed to Christ-honoring service.  The latter assures us that the end-of-life discipleship achieves all that in-life discipleship heralded.  Both stress being with Jesus, whether in the body and away from the Lord, or away from the body and at home with the Lord.  A few illustrations reveal the truth common to both.

That We are Always Somebody To God

In one of his short stories Somerset Maugham wrote about a man being so invisible that if he walked into a room, and you instantly looked in, NO ONE would be there.  Each Christian is always distinctly SOMEBODY, as Paul indirectly noted.  Everyone agrees he was SOMEBODY.  And the crown of righteousness he received at death proved it.  But note:  he said that every disciple received the same crown at death.  That makes even the most unknown disciple SOMEBODY.

In fact, as C.S. Lewis wrote, no invisible saved people exist; only splendid redeemed people presently unseen by us.  In The Great Divorce, Lewis saw a procession flying across the earth—obviously celebrating the life of some important person.  But when he asked an identification, his guide George MacDonald replied that it was no one of importance on earth, though in eternity she proved one of the great ones.  pp. 106-107.  Indeed, as Lewis wrote in another place, should we now see in his eternal body the lowliest, commonest Christian we hardly notice, we’d instantly swoon in his presence.

An even greater illustration is found in Revelation 2:26-27.  Jesus declares himself the Owner and Ruler of time and eternity.  Then, in a stupendous declaration of our worth to him, he offers us rule in the world to come.  HE is altogether ESSENTIAL.  And considers his people heirs of his nature.   – End Part I –

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Truth – never compromise Gospel

Well, Sears, Roebuck and Co. is in deadly danger of bankruptcy.  How sad.  Years ago its store occupied the southeast corner of the square in Lincoln, Illinois.  (San Diego U-T, 3/23/17)  As a high school student I worked there as stock boy.  (By the way, J.C. Penny’s then occupied the middle of the block just northwest of the square.)  Those were the days when Lincoln and Logan County people came to town on Saturday nights.  This kid usually stole pop bottles from a neighbor’s alley to get 10-12 cents to spend.  Mary Schafer would see me and shout, “I see you Virgil.  Don’t steal my bottles.”  She would have given them had I asked.  But the adventure was worth her verbal shellacking.

Now…with bad business decisions and a changing market scene, Sears is about to vanish, with other “bricks and mortar” retailers.  Some of us want everything people order on line NOT TO FIT, so they’ll have to get in their cars and drive to the Mall and SHOP!  A sign of the times:  a picture taken in the Chicago Sears store in 1964 had (gasp) only WHITE faces.  What a change.

Whatever about all that, what started as a mail-order catalog company—the internet of its day I guess—once owned the tallest skyscraper in the world but now teeters on the edge of and will likely soon fall into the abyss of bankruptcy.   Through the years it has divested itself of trademark possessions:  Sears Tower in Chicago; also gone is the Craftsman trademark tool line, acquired in 1927, sold in 2017.  And the Allstate Insurance Co., launched in 1931.  And the Discover Card Sears introduced in 1985.  The Company divested it in the 1990’s.  The Catalog died in 1993.

Sears assured its destruction by eliminating the very products and lines that gave it public identity; that gave people reasons to trust the Company.  Whatever the reasons, and however necessary they seemed at the time, Sears lost the very reasons it was attractive, sought, prosperous.

A spiritual powerhouse point!  When we sell our soul—our identity as a mortal made in God’s image, our reason for being, what motivates, inspires and energizes us—the essence of our self—we lose what makes us objects of God’s creation and Christ’s Sacrifice.

To make peace with unconverted sinners who don’t want Jesus Christ cluttering their life, many churches mention him sparingly, and in the most innocuous context as a servant wanting to help, to advise, to encourage.  But not as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, mouth open, fangs exposed, claws extended!  Christians, be warned.  Don’t sacrifice the Deity, the Virgin Birth, the Miracles, the Message, the Sacrifice, the Resurrection, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to keep peace with a fallen world.


Sears Roebuck can perish.  The Church, NEVER.  If we commit the catastrophic sins listed above, God will find others to replace us.  Jesus Christ will be praised as revealed in the Gospels.  If we don’t want the job, God will employ those who do.  If we surrender the very Bible doctrines that characterize Christianity, God will fire us and recruit new people who’ll embrace them.  And we’ll lose our souls while God retains the distinctives that set Christ and Christianity apart from all others in history.

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Truth – spiritual comes only to God’s chosen

God graciously shines his light and drops his rain on all people.  That makes life on earth possible.  God periodically revealed his truth to and through wicked men.  His statement to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16 stresses that.  That’s necessary since even the depraved serve God’s purpose.  God rules Satan and any person Satan uses.  Nebuchadnezzar also experienced that harsh reality Daniel 4.

When, however, God reveals positive Spiritual truth, he chooses particular messengers as his conduit.  As examples, Abraham as the father of the faithful; Moses as master of Law; David as prototype king of God’s people. And when Joseph and Mary came to dedicate the 40 day old Jesus in the temple, God revealed Christ’s nature and mission to a pair of SENIORS—old Simeon and old Anna!  Take that, youth culture, you who think the future belongs only to you.

Simeon and Anna:  humble, ancient, overlooked, disregarded.  But chosen by God in their latter years to recognize the future of the baby Jesus.  Chosen by God to KNOW Jesus because they had made a habit of LOOKING for God’s Son.  Let us, whatever our age, go and do likewise.

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Truth – in sound-bites

Abraham Lincoln as a young man reputedly said that he would study and get ready and perhaps his chance would come.  (This writer remembers memorizing a slightly more euphonious version posted on a wall of his High School in Lincoln, Illinois.)

Anyway, some of us have to say:  We have studied.  We are ready.  And we fear our chance has passed.

Life sometimes treats us roughly.  One day Judy paraphrased Luke 6:38, “pressed down, shaken together and running over” into feeling she had been “knocked down, beaten on and run over.”

“The Furious Fifties” describes the seas off southern Chile where Antarctic waves collide with Pacific swells.  They were and remain dangerous to shipping.  I John 3:8 urges Christians to vow that anytime Satan crawls out of his hole, he’ll certainly see more than his shadow.  For faith in Jesus Christ isn’t merely a subjective inspiration evaporating when publicly exposed.  It’s a fixed determination to be as dangerous to Satan as the Furious Fifties to shipping lanes.  We need to hang that up and nail it to our minds like a horseshoe.  It will bring us much more than good luck.

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Truth – in sound bites

Trevor Denman, perhaps the best race-caller ever, came from semi-retirement to call the 2016 Del Mar Racing season.  Interestingly, he said he’s spent about 22,000 days of the 32,000 he should have on earth and now wants to make the last 10,000 “count.”

A question for all:  however far along the “days of our lives” are, what are we presently doing that “counts” for ever and ever?  The day that “counts” begins when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  Only then do we begin to live forever.  In every other day we merely exist.

Someone said that Denman’s race-calling soared to new dimensions.  He not only built suspense in a race.  He not only told where the horses were in the race.  He also told when a horse was finished, wherever in the race it ran.  One jockey heard him and knew his horse was “finished.”  What shocked him was that Denman knew it.

Jesus Christ authors Christian FAITH by sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  He also finishes the rule of faith by returning from Heaven.  In the meantime when God says we’ve finished, whether an individual dying, a nation careening to its demise, or history screeching to its close, we STOP.  We’re DONE.  KAPUT!

Denman also admitted to being “a little bit nervous” for Opening Day, 2016.  That would be natural, especially in the first race.  Then, confidence glowing, by the fourth race, he’d have his “feet up reading a newspaper.”  San Diego U-T, 7/14/16

Should any Christian have such self-confidence in discipleship he’s at least reached the beginning of the end of useful service and maybe the end itself.  We must have a continual, daily “nervousness” in our commitment to the Lord.  In that state of anxious self-doubt, the Holy Spirit endows us with magnificent Christ-compelled confidence serving his will.

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Truth – the hard

You may have read that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has added a hard-line politician to his Cabinet.  While it strengthened his position in Israel, the news story said it antagonized “the international community” and the Israeli military.  San Diego U-T, 5/26/16

I’ll comment on the “international community” and let the Prime Minister and his Generals haggle over their relationship.  When, since God in 1948 brought international agreement to grant the Jews a homeland, has Israel had “international support”?

Since that “happy time”, when even Soviet Russia agreed, Israel has stood alone in the Middle East against a congeries of Moslem states seeking her destruction.  Until the Obama administration’s de facto withdrawal from supporting Israel, every American Administration has been her staunch ally.

To this day and time, European opposition to Israel remains fixed.  Shamefully, American churches, most every liberal group, and not a few conservative groups, are hostile to Israel.

The point is, Israel knows it stands alone against world opinion.  In its search for safet, the Israelis have given up seeking recognition and the right to exist from anyone.  It knows it faces a Moslem world dedicated to eliminating it and can’t count on even America in a crisis.  Israel doesn’t know God is in control and will protect his ancient people till they have fulfilled his ultimate purpose for them Romans 11:11-32.

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Truth – message essential, not messenger

Whether or not Christ’s messengers live their teaching, they must teach his truth.  He made that clear in Matthew 23:1-3a.  Should we say, “don’t teach anything you haven’t experienced,” we immediately have too little to say; indeed, little more than people already know.

The experience of Cortes’ men in Mexico explains why.  While the Aztecs slowly responded to the Spanish invaders, they fought ferociously once aroused.  Skillfully led, their warriors retook at night positions lost by day but left unguarded.  By night the Aztecs deepened holes in the canals into which the enemy would fall and drown.  They planted stakes in the water on which Spanish launches were impaled.  They replaced warriors exhausted by the day’s fighting with men anxious to contest the invader.

Unable to replenish his strength, Cortes kept all his troops in the line.  As the battles continued, they had to fight all day, every day, wounded or not.  Then, at night had only oil to rub on wounds.  Every soldier possible, even the wounded, would turn out at daylight, for without the wounded fighting, few company’s would have enough troops.  They returned to bivouac each night exhausted, in pain, clothes torn.  But, at each reveille, reported in their rags, to fight again.  Prescott, Conquest of Mexico, 416

The spiritual lesson:  no Christian ever serves on the line contesting Satan without being hurt or wounded.  While our sins are forgiven, the limitations posed by our humanity remain.  We make mistakes, draw wrong conclusions, put too little or too much into any particular effort.  And sometimes, despite every effort to succeed, we fail.

We never serve Jesus because it’s always exciting, easy, or rewarding.  Or because we invariably conquer and never lose.  Indeed, all Christians are wounded in some way.  When the battle cry sounds, and Jesus looks for warriors, he never expects spit-and-polish volunteers to step forward.  The ragged, wounded, and exhausted will do just as well.  He never wants us to find an excuse not to serve, nor a reason to be exempt from THIS day’s trials.