The Truth Will Set You Free. But What Truth?

The Truth Will Set You Free. But What Truth?

We’ve all heard the saying, “the truth will set you free.”  It’s possible we’ve even quoted it. But have you ever asked yourself, “what truth?” 

In this age of relativism, it’s also often said, “truth is whatever you believe it to be.” 

But how can both of these statements be true?  For if you or I want to be free, and truth is whatever we believe it to be, then can just anything you or I believe give us the freedom we seek or long for? 

Of course not. Believing such absurdity can easily be disproved. Consider this example. If the one struggling to free himself of his addiction to meth, also believes the cursed chemical frees him from his struggles, then the second “truth” will never lead the addict to the freedom he desires.  

So it’s incumbent for us to define and limit truth to its absolute claims, in order for truth to set us free.  

When Jesus stood before Pilate, just moments prior to His crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus a question every human must ask, “What is Truth?” 

It’s ironic that Pilate asked this question of the One who had earlier claimed, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (John 14:6) 

This would be akin to asking Elon Musk the question, “What is an electric car?” or Ronald Reagan, “What is a conservative?”  They were both authorities in their fields so they were equipped to answer their respective question.  

Jesus had spent His entire earthly ministry living and explaining Truth. His teachings revealed Truth.  And His life was a living example of Truth. So when the Authority on Truth shared the secret to being set free by the Truth, we should consider His words: 

“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) 

Did you catch that?  There is only one way to know the Truth, and that is:  1) to know the teachings of Jesus, and 2) to remain faithful to those teachings.  

Simple?  Yes! 

Difficult?  Yes! 

His teachings are both. But the teachings of Jesus are also profound. If you want to truly know those teachings, they will not be learned solely in a class, a YouTube video, or sitting in church (although these may all be helpful).  

Rather, the teachings of Jesus will be learned as we spend time daily in the book of Jesus’ teachings (the Bible).  They will be learned as we “pray without ceasing” (meaning live our lives in a constant state of prayer).  His teachings will be learned as we try them, stumble, get back up, and try them again. They will be learned as God’s Spirit reveals them to us, and empowers us, as we earnestly seek God.  And His teachings will be learned as we meditate on them, and share them with others. 

Ultimately, we will be “faithful to Jesus’ teachings” as they become the Truth that literally consumes and dominates our lives. As we faithfully do this, “the truth will set us free.” 

Are you ready to be set free from whatever entraps you? 

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”  (John 8:36) 

Greed: The Insidious Character Flaw of TVA’s Executives

Greed: The Insidious Character Flaw of TVA’s Executives

Greed is a character flaw that runs deep within the heart of America and one that we see too often in business, government and individuals. The sin of Greed is a powerful force that can easily infect us individually, and it’s one I have struggled with at times.  So we must constantly be on guard against it.  But we should also call it out when we see it reflected in our government and its institutions. 

In case you missed it, TVA just filed suit against several individuals to gain access to their farmland “for the taking of a temporary right under the power of eminent domain and award of just compensation to the owners and parties of interest.”  It has been reported that the owners of the subject land are not interested in selling their land.

TVA’s lust for the property of others is a sin. But an agency or organization does not sin on its own. Rather, sin is committed by individuals. So when we see an organization, agency or government committing insidious acts, we must resist the temptation to blame the entity alone.  Rather, we must look to its members, executives or representatives. Never let this truth pass you by. 

There are individuals within TVA who are individually responsible for the Greed that is being displayed in their unjust desire to take and to steal what is not theirs.  These individuals may hide behind the three letter agency name they represent, but they are personally responsible, and to blame, for the evil acts of the agencies they lead.  And yes, taking another individual’s personal property without their consent, otherwise known as stealing, is evil. 

There is a second truth that we can learn from TVA’s latest strategy. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because courts might rule that something is “legal” it is then just or right.  This includes ruling that a developer, agency or government can take land from an unwilling party. 

Declaring something to be “legal” has never set the bar of what is right, nor righteous. Whenever man establishes an arbitrary standard, that standard can always be reversed or revised, thus affirming the truth that man’s laws are fallible. 

There is only one standard that is true, right, infallible, and righteous. And God has weighed in on all matters of significance and consequence, including Greed in general, and taking someone else’s property in specific.  There are literally countless passages in the Bible that instruct us about this topic, including the ten commandments, moving boundaries, taking the property of the weak, and so many more.  To be clear, all of us are “weak” when compared with the multi-billion dollar budgets, holdings, and resources of TVA.

So, when it comes to TVA’s abusive effort to take what is not theirs, using the power of a court, via the threat and cost of a lawsuit, rest assured that evil intentions are at work. But remember that these decisions are not simply some impersonal government agency’s policies at play.  Rather, know that it is a man or a woman, or even several men and women, who are willfully conspiring to take what is not theirs to advance their own selfish desires.  

In this specific case, I have met some of the individuals responsible for this Greed via TVA. Some are members of local, bible-teaching churches. Yet their faith is at odds with their choices in their workplace.  They are doing to their “neighbor” what they would never want done to themselves.  In so doing, these men and women are violating a foundational value that they would likely say they embrace.  What a sad reality.  But they are not to be condemned but rather challenged in a respectful and even prayerful manner.  We should all remember that we are all frail and too often struggle with our own shortfalls and character flaws.  But we must still share truth regardless. 

Just as God judged Ahab and Jezebel for stealing a citizen’s farmland several thousand years ago, I believe He will judge these men and women who are seeking to steal the farmland of several of their local citizens and their families.  Since God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” He does not change with the whims of man, or the rulings of a court.  His Truths remain, as does His Justice.

So the good news is this.  Sooner or later Justice will prevail, and Greed will be exposed and punished.  Of course, most of us like to see justice prevail in the short-term though. So if you agree with these sentiments, please share this article with others.  Perhaps God’s Truth, or a groundswell of opposition in our community, will cause the men and women responsible for this latest TVA effort to reverse their course of Greed.  

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts…”  (Isaiah 51:7)

The Key to Life

The Key to Life

What if I told you that the Key to Life was just one word?  Would you believe it?  Could you guess the word?  

I believe most, if not all, of humanity has often wondered what that Key is.  The fact is most who have searched for the Key have never found it because they have gone down the wrong path looking for it.  Without the Truth to instruct them, they invariably realize the key they’ve pursued has failed to open the door to Life. 

So just what is that Key?  I believe we can find it over and over in God’s Word, but perhaps the following verses are as plain as it can be made:

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life…”  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Did you catch that?  The Key to Life is a Choice. And that Choice is a deliberate decision: “…loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him.”

It’s really that simple. A Choice. 

But to be honest, while simple, it is quite hard, as far as I’ve discovered — hard because we live in a difficult, broken world. 

This “Hard” is realized each day because, while we may make this Choice in the morning, by noon, or even earlier, the enemy (Satan) has likely tempted us to forget that Choice.  And because we are frail, and our “spirit is willing but our flesh is weak” we may fall, again and again. 

But God recognized this trait of humanity. He understood that “the godly may trip seven times, but he will get up again.” (Prov. 24:16)  To be clear, this is not because the godly are good, or better or stronger than others, but rather because God promised that “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

In my own life, I have found myself failing and falling way more often than succeeding. Why is this?  I believe it’s because we are truly engaged in the war of the ages. It has been going on since the beginning of time “for we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

I have often met to discuss God, the Bible and spiritual matters with friends who question, scoff at, or even reject God.  My heart is often heavy for them. But I believe if they are honest with themselves, they too will admit that they are engaged in an inner struggle — one which they most likely cannot understand or explain. Yet God did not desire us to be ignorant concerning Life or these deep personal struggles.  Because God “is not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9)

But God is also not one to demand or force someone to do something they do not want to do.  And so we come back to that simple truth:

🔑 The Key to Life is a Choice. 

And it’s our decision. No one else’s.  But even though we choose God once and for all for our eternal destination (heaven), we must also continuously choose God moment by moment in order to have the “rich and satisfying life” that Jesus promised (John 10:10).

So Choose God… and Live!

He is Risen… Today Too!

He is Risen… Today Too!

Easter… A week has passed since the day that people around the world celebrated the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was a day of victory and triumph. But unlike other holidays, which come and go until a year later, the truth of Easter is one that followers of Jesus should acknowledge and celebrate every day of the year.

The disciples had spent nearly every day with Jesus, for the three years leading up to the crucifixion. He had become not just their constant companion and Friend, but also their Teacher and God. So when Jesus fulfilled His own prophecy, and arose from the dead three days after His death, the disciples’ grief turned to joy and exhilaration. 

The example of the disciples over the next several weeks following the Resurrection, is one from which we could all learn. As we read in the Gospels of the interactions between the followers of the Messiah, and Jesus, we see men and women who were continuously joyous at being reunited with their Savior. But their joy and celebration was not limited to a singular day or even those few weeks.  Rather, “He is Risen” became the Truth that defined the rest of their lives.  

That Truth also became the reason that fishermen became apostles, uneducated men became giants in the faith, and those dozen men ignited a worldwide spiritual flame that would never be extinguished.  Even agnostics and unbelievers who heard them were astonished at these unlearned men, who had spent three years with the Author of Life.  Within years though, that truth of the first Easter morning ultimately sustained them as they were eventually martyred by a world who rejected them and their risen Savior.

Fast forward though a couple thousand years to our present day.  We just finished up another Easter week.  But is Easter over for you?  Was it just another holiday?  Was it merely a time to spend with family and friends, and perhaps a quick visit to an Easter service somewhere?  Or are you like the early disciples, whose lives were forever changed by their resurrected Savior?  

If you profess Christ, then remember that He is Risen today too, and He is ever present with you as He was with His disciples, regardless of the circumstances or trials that might momentarily overwhelm you.  But if you are walking this life apart from the Messiah who defeated death when He arose from the grave, then I urge you to open your life and heart to the One who not only died for you and me, but who also arose to give us that same victory over death.

He is Risen… Today too!

Thriving in the Midst of Life’s Storms

Thriving in the Midst of Life’s Storms

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

If you’re alive, troubles will come.  If you’ve been alive long, you’ve seen a lot of troubles.  Some are our own doing and some are simply a part of life, and may be completely unrelated to anything you or I have done.  How you or I prepare for and respond to those troubles though, can make all the difference in the world.  

Do you just float along, and deal with troubles as they come? 

Do you dread troubles, fearing them, as a howling storm headed your way?

Or do you understand that troubles, like the setting sun, will come?  If so, you prepare yourself properly; building your character; developing relationships; drawing close to God; cultivating that one-on-one time with the One who sustains everything by His very Word.

If you do prepare for life’s storms, you will be like majestic hardwood trees that stand strong and erect, driving their roots deep into the soil, finding the water far below.  It’s a known fact that as the wind blows against a tree, the tree responds by driving its roots deeper into the soil.  

Because of their years of preparation, these trees can and will withstand the storms that will undoubtedly come their way; winds, rain, storms, lightning.  Sure, they may bend during their times of trouble. They may sway. They may even lose branches.  But if they are tied into the very foundation that enables their strength, they will stand to see another sunny day, and grow even stronger from these storms, preparing them for the next trials that will certainly come.

Are you and I going deep in our relationship with God? Do we seek the “living water” that God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ?  Are we tied into Him daily?  Do we drink the nutrition that only He can give us, that will strengthen us like only God can do?  

When we do this, we will be prepared to not only withstand the trials that come our way, but we will thrive in the midst of life’s storms.  And as we do so, we will not only grow stronger for the next storm, but we will also be an encouragement to those around us who may not be preparing as they ought.

Go deep. Grow strong. Don’t fear. Drink Him in. God is your Hope and Confidence.

Possessions, Wealth, & Stewardship: Truths That Should Compel Change

Possessions, Wealth, & Stewardship: Truths That Should Compel Change

“My houses. My cars. My bank accounts. My businesses. My properties. They are all mine. I’m a self made man.”

These phrases are frequently referenced and even celebrated in America.  We use them so routinely that it’s almost second nature.  But truthfully, in the nation that prides itself on capitalism and entrepreneurship, it should come as no wonder.

But in an era that condemns #FakeNews and seeks #Truth, are these statements accurate?  Are they true?  Or is there something deeply misleading about them?

In my years of pursuing the “American Dream” and seeking a bigger house, faster cars, larger bank accounts, and more profitable businesses, I have come to understand that there is a truth to these pursuits that sadly too often escapes our understanding. 

As I’ve taken time to ponder, research and seek the meaning of life as it relates to possessions, wealth and stewardship, the following key truths have become clearer to me.

Truth 1:  It’s not yours or mine 

The first truth is that you and I don’t own what we routinely call ours or “Mine.” That home, car, property, bank account, business, or fill in the blank, is not yours or mine. There is a higher Power and Authority to whom it all belongs. The same One who created the universe, and you and me, also entrusted you and me with the possessions we have that we call our own. There are so many references in the Scriptures that affirm this truth, but here are just a couple:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.”  (Psalm 24:1)

Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.”  (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

Truth 2:  The “self-made” man does not exist. There is no such man 

The idea that a man makes himself, as in his achievements, possessions and such, and they are are all his own creation, and it is he who is solely responsible for them, is false.  In fact, it is the epitome of arrogance and it’s highly disingenuous to ignore every other person and circumstance that came together to enable such a person to achieve and possess. But worse, the idea of a “self-made” man ignores the One who breathed into each of us the gifts, skills, intellect, and health, and orchestrated the right circumstances that led to what our culture defines as success. 

There are numerous examples in Scripture that speak to the flawed concept of a “self-made” man but in Deuteronomy 8 we read this warning from God:

“He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…”  (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

Truth 3:  Gifts do not appear out of a vacuum

Along with the misunderstanding about someone being “self-made” is the idea that our unique giftedness is simply our own doing.  It’s true that gifts can and should be cultivated, but they are initially embedded in us by a Power much greater than ourselves.  Again, we see this truth playing out repeatedly in Scripture.  For instance, when God led Moses to build the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, God singled out a man named Bezalel to be responsible for all the work involving precious metals, gemstones, and woodwork and also appointed Oholiab to be his assistant.  We read this about these two men:  

“Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel… I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!  I have personally appointed Oholiab… to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make.”  (Exodus 31:2-6)

Truth 4:  You and I will give account someday for all the assets that were placed within our control

Perhaps this is the most sobering truth of all, at least for me.  Whether we acknowledge that God owns it all, or that a “self-made” man is a delusion, or that our gifts come from God, someday you and I will give account for all that God placed within our control.  The bank accounts and every other tangible asset and intangible gifts that we have controlled or will control are being monitored by our Heavenly Father.  We will give account to Him for how we have managed and stewarded them.  This also includes our time.

When I personally think about this truth, I am greatly disheartened as I recognize the many times I have mismanaged God’s resources, finite ones that He entrusted to me.  But this truth also compels me to not merely look backwards but more importantly to focus on what is ahead.  I cannot change yesterday but I can impact today and tomorrow.

What about you? Do you recognize that someday you will be called to account for every asset that is within your control?  And if so, does that cause you to reevaluate your actions and priorities, and how you are using the finite resources in your life?

One of my favorite stories from Scripture relating to the topic of Stewardship is the Parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25. The quick summary of the story is this.  

A master goes away for some time but before he leaves he provides his three servants with funds to work with while he’s gone. To the first servant he gives five bags of silver; the second he gives two bags of silver; and the third he gives one bag.  While the master is gone, the first and second servant get to work. When the master returns, they both doubled what the master gave them, with the first earning an additional five bags of silver and the second earning two more bags. Consequently, both servants are amply rewarded.

However, when the master calls the third servant forward, he is only able to return the original one bag of silver, having earned nothing for his master.  The master rightly becomes very angry, takes away the one bag of silver that had been entrusted to him, and the third servant is severely punished.  

So we come to understand that just like these servants, we are all given varying amounts of resources, but someday we will be required to account for everything that God gave us, whether a physical asset or an intangible gift, or even an opportunity or our time, that we may have squandered.  Recognizing this truth should cause us to reevaluate our view of possessions, wealth and stewardship.  And as you and I do this, I trust we will become the kind of stewards for whom our Master will someday say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”