Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can You Handle The Truth?

"I want the truth!"
"You can't handle the truth"

Do you remember the scene? Tom Cruise is hammering Jack Nicholson on the witness stand in the climax of the movie, "A Few Good Men." Tom Cruise is a young lawyer and Nicholson is a seasoned Marine of many years. Cruise is going after him with some heavy questioning and the tension in the court room gets so thick you could cut it with a knife. Nicholson of course the prideful man that he is, refuses to back down from this young punk and spills the truth pretty much convicting himself.

We live in a world much like that. One where the truth is so often hard to find. Much of the time its because we're not looking for it. We don't want to really know the truth. What so many of us want is someone to put a mask on it. Cover it up so we won't really have to face it. We walk through life with this crazy ideology that what we don't know won't hurt us. How many people do you know that are hesitant to go to the doctor for fear of what they might find? It's crazy isn't it?

On the show American Idol, Simon gets a lot of flack for being so rude. Sure, he could tone it down a bit, but I'm convinced much of that is for the cameras. Still, the fact remains he tells the truth. I can't believe how many young people show up who really think they can sing only to be heartbroken when they are told they can't. All their life, they've been convinced by people who don't want to hurt their feelings, that they can sing. I don't know about you, but I would rather somebody hurt my feelings before I get up in front of a crowd of people and make an absolute fool out of myself. When we coddle people, we do them a great injustice. Sure, we can determine to speak the truth in a much more pleasant way than Simon, but still we should speak the truth.

We live in a culture today that is so wrapped up in fear over hurting somebody's feelings. What is this crazy philosophy that is prevalent in our culture today that casts shame on those who might say something that offends another? We have a whole generation that has been coddled and God forbid we do anything or say anything that might upset another. Tell me, who does that help in the long run? Why is it that having a differing opinion so threatens people? So, someone disagrees with me, what's the big fuss. So many try so hard to be "politically correct" that they fail to be correct. They fail to be real or share how they truly feel or what they really think. And of course, we think that makes everything so much better.

We try so hard to walk on pins and needles in an effort to make sure nobody gets offended. Are there really people who get offended by a Christmas display of a baby lying in a manger? I mean really? That offends somebody? Or, worse yet saying Merry Christmas truly ticks somebody off? Or, God forbid someone disagrees with somebody else's lifestyle choice. Do we honestly believe that everyone is going to be down with everything we believe and how we do life? Come on! The truth is, we as a people need to grow up and quit wearing our emotions on our sleeves. No matter how you choose to live life, there are going to be those who oppose it.

As a believer, there are those who have never met me that already don't like me. Trust me, I won't lose sleep over it. There are those, both believers and non-believers, who disagree with some of my theology and life philosophy. Again, I won't lose sleep over it. There are very few people who's opinions matter to me. Yes, there are some, but not a great number. Trust me when I say, I am not in the least threatened by someone who believes different than I. I know what I believe and why I believe it.

My life's journey is a constant search for truth. I despise lies, half-truths, and deception. That could be why the older I get the less confidence I have in politicians, but that's a different topic altogether. Naturally, as a follower of Christ, my philosophy in life has been greatly influenced by Him and the Word of God. Because I believe God's Word to be true, I hold fast to it. If I believe Jesus to be the one and only true way, even if it's not "politically correct," why does that bother anybody? Why should anyone get up in arms about that? I'm simply holding true to what I believe to be truth. Does that really threaten people?

Could it be that those who it threatens aren't confident in what they themselves believe? There are all kinds of differing religions and philosophies, none of which threatens me in the least. Naturally, I believe that what I believe is right. And that's really the point isn't it? That everyone believes their way to be right? Which brings us back to the truth. Do we really want to know the truth? Or, do we just want to live our life in such a way that we just assume what we believe to be true? Can we really know the truth? I believe we can. I believe that whoever truly searches for the truth will find it. The real question is can you handle the truth? What if in a moment of time all that you've ever believed, you discovered to be nothing more than a carefully disguised deception? Do you continue in the deception or to you run with the truth? Believe it or not, many choose the false deception because that's what they are comfortable with.

It's like that crazy stringed quartet playing music on the deck of the Titanic while it's sinking. Or, it's like the religious leaders of Jesus day that determined to pay the guards at the tomb of Jesus to perpetrate a lie rather than face the music that they were wrong about him. After all, they would have to admit they crucified the Savior they had been praying God to send them. Much easier to continue in the deception, huh? Trust me when I say the truth is out there. You have to determine though if you can indeed handle the truth.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Face To Face Encounter With A Deadly Beast

Have you ever found yourself face to face with a ferocious beast? I'm talking about a beast that could devour you for his between meal snack. One whose claws could cut you like a razor and whose teeth could rip your flesh from the bone. I had such an encounter yesterday. Believe it or not I found myself literally inches from the claws, jaws, and teeth of a ferocious lion. What's so amazing is that I stood there without an ounce of fear. Perhaps it was the power of God flowing through me, or maybe it was just that thick piece of glass that stood between me and that killer beast. Yep, it was at the zoo that I encountered this big cat.

I know, that little fact changes the dynamic of the story just a bit, but as I stood there glaring into the eyes of that creature I couldn't help but think how different this encounter would be had it happened in the wild. Truth is I would be toast. Checking the size of this lion's paws, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt one swipe from one of those is all it would take to bring me down.

But here, on this day there was no chance of that happening. As a matter of fact, the lion was actually laying down as I approached and before I left had fallen asleep. I couldn't help but think how boring this life must be for him. I don't know his story, but I do know that the wild animals you find at the zoo are often pets of private owners or have been found injured in the wild. Regardless of where they came from, the truth is zoo life was not the kind of life they were created for. It makes no difference how hard designers try to make the "cages" in the zoo represent the animals natural habitats. The fact is, they are still cages. So, here we have a wild, ferocious beast tamed, and bored out of his mind. He's got no antelope to stalk, chase and bring down. His biggest challenge is finding shade in the hot Houston heat. What a tragedy!

As I stood there gazing into this lion's eyes, I thought to myself I've seen that look a million times. Not in the eyes of a lion, but in the eyes of people I meet. Life has a way of taming us. It can strip us of our zeal and passion for living. It can reduce our life to little more than a routine. A series of events put together in a boring cycle that seldom deviates from the norm. Just like the lion, we can find ourself doing life in a way we were never created to live it. We were created for adventure. We were created to dream big and to strive to see those dreams come true. Scripture tells us that without vision, people perish. Can I say it another way? They become tame and bored. Their life becomes void of life.

Do you find yourself there right now? If so, determine to dream again. Determine to engage in life. Refuse to allow circumstances in life to steal your passion and zeal for life. Jesus came to give you abundant life. He came so that you could enjoy the life that you live. He longs for you to live life to it's fullest. Don't be like the lion whose life has been reduced to a meager existence. Engage in life like you never have before. Shoot for those dreams that have been on the back burner for years, engage in those relationships you hold dear, and determine to enjoy living your life.

I'm just wondering, what God can do with individuals who a fully alive? Men, women, boys and girls, who just refuse to be tamed by the world around them. I'm thinking the possibilities are endless.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Do You Think God Is Worried?

Do you think God is worried? I mean, after all, things are getting a bit crazy. Oops, did I say a bit crazy, I meant extremely crazy. It's like with each passing day, something else happens that makes you stop and think, "What in the world is going on here?" The Middle East is as unstable as ever, the world's economy is tanking, and our government, well lets just say needs the wisdom of God and leave it at that. Ok, I can't just leave it at that. Think about this, we now have a national debt that if you counted by ones, you could never count in several lifetimes. Then, there's the never ending insistence that we move further and further away from God and the Biblical principles upon which our nation was founded. Ok, now we'll just leave it at that. Add to that the current threat of the swine flu, natural disasters, the new nuclear arms race, talk about a one world currency, and God has to be worried, right?

After all, this can't be part of his ultimate plan, could it? I mean certainly, things in the world have gone in a direction God had not planned, right? Hardly. While we sit around wringing our hands, God has propped His legs up on His footstool and is at perfect peace. Worry is not an emotion, He is acquainted with. His plan was established eons ago, and nothing and no one, can keep it from playing out. Trust me, God's not worried, stressed out, or running for the hills. His anxiety level is not increasing, and He's not losing sleep. He's not concerned about how global warming or a possible ice age could mess up His whole plan for His Son's 1000 year reign.

In Matthew 24, Jesus instructs us not to become troubled or worried when we see things getting crazy, because all these things must happen for the end to come. He says that because he wants us to understand that God has everything under control. He wants us to understand that God is God and everything will play out according to His plan.

The challenge for believers is to live as though we believe it. When we get worried about all that's going on around us, we are really saying that we don't truly believe that God's at the helm. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be involved in the great political process here in our country and doing our part. What I am saying, is that when we totally trust God, we shouldn't get bent out of shape when things don't go the way we think they should. It's at moments like that, when we need to hit our prayer closet. Being involved in the political process, engaging in prayer and fasting, is our responsibility. The only thing left after that, is to trust God. Worrying and freaking out will not change one thing. Trust me, I've tried.

As believers, its time we learn how to completely trust God. He's got things mapped out, and they will go exactly the way He's planned. He's not worried. He never has been, and He never will be. Come on, He's God, remember!