Monday, January 16, 2017

Does Truth Exist Anymore?

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
 
Image result for picture for what is truth
 
I was just reading my last post, from just before the election of our newest president, and I admit I had to chuckle.  I meant what I said at the time, but I've had a little more time to watch and observe over the past couple of months, and,  I have to tell you, I am greatly concerned.  I'm talking about two things here:  first, the man who is so openly and freely cutting and slashing anyone and everyone who dares to disagree with him about anything; and second, and perhaps more importantly, this country that is so divided. 
 
Let's start with the man.  I had hoped, during the campaign, that a lot of what he was doing was to win votes and assure himself the presidency.  We have seen in the aftermath, that this is just the man.  I don't expect any human being to be perfect in every way nor do I expect him (or her) to always rise to the occasion and be 'presidential,' but I do expect my president, the president of the United States of America, to be a grown-up, to handle things in a mature and responsible way.  I don't expect that I will always agree with what this person does, but I do expect them to behave in a way commensurate with the office.  The campaign is over and the work needs to begin.  This president, our president, is not CEO of a corporation, he is the President.  How can I expect the children and youth that I work with to behave responsibly with the leader of the free world is setting the precise example I'm trying to teach them not to be?  You can watch him on video, you can read his tweets, you can read interviews that he has done.  His very words and actions are out there to be consumed. 
 
And here's where we get to the second concern. I just don't understand how those of us consuming this information can be so divided.  How can two people, good friends and family, sit and watch exactly the same thing and come away with such alternate universe interpretations of what we've just watched?  I know these people.  I know their hearts and they are some of the kindest, most loving people I've ever known and when they don't see what I just know I saw, I begin to question my own sanity.  I watched our president-elect mock and belittle a handicapped person, not once but three different times.  It wasn't a video that came later.  It was live at his events.  I watched.  I heard.  I wanted to find something in this man that I could support.  And instead I watched him, on live television, mocking a handicapped reporter who had written something this man didn't like.  
 
I watched and heard him on that bus talking about the way he treats women.  This behavior wasn't terribly surprising to me given that the man has been married three times and I've heard him in the past, not reported, I've heard him with his own mouth, talk about the way he ranks women.  While I don't agree with it or condone it, as a private citizen I guess he has the right to behave that way, just as I have the right to oppose that behavior, but as President of the United States, we would hope that this person would have better moral fiber than what we have heard and witnessed.  And yet, again, my friends who would never behave in this manner or condone such behavior, supported this man and still do as our president.
 
I just can't wrap my head around this dichotomy.  How can people so loving, kind and generous to everyone they meet, be so eager to overlook or just plain not see what this man blatantly is in every fiber of his being?  Those pictures just don't fit together in my head.  As troubled as I am about this man being our president, and believe me I have grave concerns about his emotional and mental health, I am more troubled by this lack of understanding between my friends and myself.  I ask myself how it is possible that they don't see what I see?  How can they not hear what I hear?  And, how did I not see this division between us before now?
 
I always knew that we disagreed on politics.  While I am not as far left as some of my friends, I'm fairly far to the left in equal proportion to my friends on the right.  And they are my friends, my chosen family.  I sit and listen to them discuss their concerns about the government and the economy and I always assumed that our differences were mostly political, but now I am wondering what I missed.  Because when I listen to them now, they are espousing 'information' and 'truths' that have long-ago been dispelled.  There is evidence to the contrary, many times over but they can't or won't let go of those beliefs that they heard and agreed with on some show or read in some book that has to be more correct than nine other sources telling them something different.  They don't even question.  They know.  They are correct and, poor me, 'she just doesn't understand.' 
 
How in the world did we get here?  Is there just so much 'information' available in our world today that we no longer know how to disseminate it?  How do you sift through all of the newsfeeds and the blogs and the books and the magazine articles and the television shows and...  How?  Well, we find those celebrities - news or otherwise - that we trust.  They have to know better than us, right?  It's what they do for a living so they have to know.  AND, they agree with me so they must be right.
 
Walter Cronkite is gone.  Huntley and Brinkley are gone.  Most of us trusted them.  They reported the news - period.  There were no personal views or ideologies given.  Just the news and if you wanted more information then you looked at the news magazines or the newspapers.  If you wanted someone's opinion you read the op-ed page, but you understood that it was just that - someone's opinion, hopefully based on facts, but it was their opinion.  Understood.  
 
It seems that now we just look for someone who's opinion matches our own and then whatever we agree on must be the truth.  So I wanted to know what the definition of truth was today. 
 
Truth:  1)that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality; 2) a fact or belief that is accepted as true. 
 
Did you know that this definition has changed over the years?  It's true (pun intended).  The definition of truth from the 1898 Merriam-Webster dictionary says this: 
Truth -
     1) ...exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be...
     2) True state of facts or things.
     3) Conformity of words to thought, which is called moral truth.
     4) Veracity; purity from falsehood.
     5) Correct opinion.
     6) Fidelity, Constancy.
     7) Honesty, Virtue.
     8) Exactness, Conformity to Rule.
     9) Real fact of just principle.
   10) Sincerity.
   11) Jesus Christ is called the truth, John 14.
  
Now, I guess I need you to help me.  I don't understand how 'truth' can change.  It seems to me that if you look at the first two definitions, the modern ones, we have taken  the second one moreso than the first.  Instead of looking at 'that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality', we have decided that 'a fact' or, more importantly, 'a belief, is accepted as true.'
 
I understand that two of us can watch the same accident and come away with two very different stories of the event.  Our life experiences have left us to interpret those events in our own, unique way.  But somewhere in the midst of those varying accounts, is the truth, the actual event. 
 
When that kid stole that car that morning in Kansas City and ran from police through an intersection and t-boned the car my son and his father were in, there were lots of witnesses, with lots of versions of the story, but there was one truth to the event.  There was the lady whose apartment this young man entered in an attempt to hide from the police.  Her version of the story was not the same as the lady whose car had been hit by the car my son and his dad were in.  Different stories, but one truth. 
 
When did it become accepted practice to only accept MY version as the truth? "I am right.  You are wrong.  Always.  In every circumstance. Period.  Just you wait.  I'll find someone who will agree with me and we'll show you truth."  When did that happen?
 
The Father in heaven must be so saddened, yet again, at our failure.  Jesus Christ is THE Truth and I know that looking for answers here in this world is probably a futile effort and yet, I am human, and I want to know how this happened?  What did I miss?  What happened to Veracity, Correct Opinion, Fidelity, Honesty, Virtue, Exactness, and Real Fact of Just Principle?  There can be none if your 'real facts,' your 'exactness,' and your 'just principle' cannot find common ground with mine.
 
I used to always believe that there was nothing our country couldn't survive. We were a godly people.  We were a just people.  We were a people founded on the love of God and love of the independence to practice our beliefs in our own way.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit would lead us if we would only submit to their authority.  We would always be invincible because we allowed God to show us the way.
 
But your God has become different from my God.  Your God is judgmental and vindictive.  My God is loving and kind.  My God says, "Let him without sin cast the first stone."  Your God says, 'An eye for an eye.'  If that is what we all believe and practice, how will we not all end up blind?  Or are we blind already and I just didn't recognize it?
 
When Pilate asked Jesus, "But you are a king then?"  Jesus responded, "Yes, I was born for that purpose.  And I came to bring truth to the world.  All who love the truth are my followers."  Pilate then asks, "What is truth?"
 
Matthew Henry's Commentary says this:  Christ gave an account of the nature of his kingdom. Its nature is not worldly; it is a kingdom within men, set up in their hearts and consciences; its riches spiritual, its power spiritual, and its glory within. Its supports are not worldly; its weapons are spiritual; its needed not, nor used, force to maintain and advance it, nor opposed any kingdom but that of sin and Satan. Its object and design are not worldly. When Christ said, I am the Truth, he said, in effect, I am a King. He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth; he rules by the commanding power of truth. The subjects of this kingdom are those that are of the truth. Pilate put a good question, he said, What is truth? When we search the Scriptures, and attend the ministry of the word, it must be with this inquiry, What is truth? and with this prayer, Lead me in thy truth; into all truth. But many put this question, who have not patience to preserve in their search after truth; or not humility enough to receive it. 
 
I think I find the most peace in this statement.  We are all of us, we human beings, looking for TRUTH in the world.  We are so very busy looking and doing, that we have forgotten to be.  We're trying to fix it.  We're trying to convince others.  We're fighting for our beliefs instead of allowing the King to fight for us, allowing us to rest in his Truth, the only Truth.  We 'have not patience to preserve in our search after truth; or not humility enough to receive it.'  Truth is freely given to those who are willing to just be in it.  It is not of this world.  Thank God!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Enough!



 

There’s an election coming up in a few days.  Whew!  Aren’t you glad I reminded you?   

I have to admit that I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that either one of these people is going to be our president.  I’d like to ask for a do-over, but since that is not possible (and who wants two more years of this) I’ve been trying to assimilate the fact into my head that I will need to support whichever one wins, because here’s the thing…I want the President to be successful in his/her efforts to be a good leader of our country.  If they aren’t, the country isn’t.  The reality is people are already deciding how they’re going to fight the winner (for four years) before they’ve even won and I am certain that the one thing I don’t want is four more years of fights. 

                                 Enough, already! 

How about this?  How about all of us proclaiming to be ‘good’ Christians, just ask God to do whatever and with whomever He chooses and TRUST that He will handle it.  We don’t have to scream or holler or threaten or pout or worry or hide in our rooms for four years. 

How about we show the world what Christians really are?  And have FAITH in our God.  Could we all just please do this?

This is from Bible Gateway's Encouragement for the Day... 

How to Hug a Porcupine and Squeeze a Skunk (not saying which candidate is which)
KAREN EHMAN

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)

I once worked as a substitute teacher. While that evokes images of chewing gum stuck to chairs and strategically placed “Kick me!” signs, this was not my experience. Sure, many of the kids were squirrely, but I never had an ounce of trouble with any of them.

Until one day.

That was the day the principal told me, “In third hour you will have a student named John Smith. Just send him down to the office before class starts. He’s known as Big Bad John, and he’s never successfully made it through even one hour with a sub. He will disrupt the class, bully others and try to make you look stupid. I want to spare you any confrontation.”

I knew exactly which student he meant and really wanted a chance to reach this troublemaker. So I petitioned the principal: “May I attempt to keep him in class and then send him to the office if he causes trouble? I’d love to try, if you don’t mind.”

“Be my guest,” he laughingly replied. “I’ll expect him shortly after class begins.”

Just before third period, a towering, husky student appeared in the doorway. He had on ripped jeans — before they were fashionable — and a soiled light blue T-shirt. I could tell from the way the students stayed back that his odor was as unpleasant as his appearance and personality. I shot up a quick prayer and greeted him.

With a smug look on his unwashed face, he boldly declared, “I suppose you’ve heard ’bout me. I’ll bet the principal told you to send me right to the office ’cause ain’t none of you subs able to handle me.”

“Nope,” I replied, just as quickly and confidently. “I heard you were going to be in my class, and I also heard you are a great kid. Do you mind helping me pass out these papers?”

Big Bad John wasn’t sure what to do. Some he threw on the floor. Another he used to play a game of keep-away with a girl in class. I followed behind him, corrected whatever he did, picking up the papers or gently taking one from his hand to give to a student. I thanked him when he was through, making no comment on his behavior.

Next, we watched a movie, and John began to act like his nickname. He was disruptive — not just talking but also taunting other students.

I walked over to his chair, squatted down, looked him in the eye and firmly but gently said, “Hey, look, John. I know that you have a reputation of never being able to make it through an hour with a substitute teacher. But I say today we show the principal a thing or two. I know you can cooperate. I know you are a good kid deep down inside. I’d love for that good kid to come out today and for us to be friends. Are you willing to give it a try, just this once?”

His countenance softened. For the last 15 minutes of class, John actually watched the movie without incident. After class, the school’s office staff buzzed with the news that this school bully had made it through an entire hour with a sub. After that, whenever I had John in class, he behaved well. In fact, when he saw me out at a basketball game or the grocery store, he smiled, waved and hollered, “Hi, lady.”

It’s easy to love those who are lovable. It’s a breeze to be kind to people you like. But to truly be patient and gentle toward someone who acts unloving or unbecoming is an altogether special assignment — one Jesus not only taught, but modeled.

He spent much of his time on earth with the not-so-popular people. He touched the leper. He granted dignity to the prostitute. He welcomed children and the tax collectors and those whom society rejected. Jesus modeled upside-down living and loving. And He urges us to do the same.

Let’s make it our aim not to just love the easy-to-love, but to hug the “porcupines” and squeeze the “skunks” in our lives, reaching those whose behavior and demeanor usually pushes people away rather than draws them in close.

Father, give me eyes to see through others’ tough exteriors to their hearts — hearts that so desperately need a loving touch from You through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 15:17, “This is my command: Love each other.” (NIV)

Romans 12:9a, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” (NLT)

 

I had a John, only his name was David.   He was in my last fourth grade class.  I’m trying hard to love either or both of these candidates and let me tell you it is not easy! But I know what God calls me to do and that is to love them and support whichever one wins.  I don’t have to agree with them always and I can peacefully and thoughtfully support the issues I believe in, but the Bible tells me I am to support them…Romans 13:1; Acts 5:29; 1Peter 2:13-17; Titus 3:1; 1Timothy 2:1-3; Daniel 2:20-21.

 

Because it also says in the Bible… If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  Mark 3:24   It wasn’t the founding fathers who said it first…

 

Jesus did!