Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Truth and Nothing but...

I have four brothers, all of them younger, and we have had some fights over the years. Including one particular fight where I broke my hand. Most of the fights were not physical but instead they were mixed with a litany of insults, half truths, and flat out lies. The way that you knew you won the fight is if you could get the other person to cry or walk away first. This was usually accomplished by saying things that sounded like facts, but were not true. I would give you examples of some of the things we said, but I don't want this blog to be considered hateful or show up as a bad site on the spy software your parents installed so they can check up on you. In reality these comments were laced with opinions which were not valid. When we are walking the halls of our school, sitting in biology or social studies class, or hanging out with our friends at the mall we are bombarded with statements about all kinds of things including religion and spirituality. How can we tell what opinions are good or valid and which ones are not?

Several years ago my daughter came home from school talking about people's opinions and she talked about how each opinion was equal. We proceeded to have a rather long conversation about the value of opinions. America really is free in the sense that we can have whatever opinion we want. Having an opinion does not make it a good or valid opinion. Saying something is true doesn't make it true. Truth is a beliefe that represents reality.

Ya, I know it sounds kind of wierd, but if there is truth (and there is) and it can be known (it can) then it might be important for us to learn how to weed out bad opinions. Let me give some examples:
  • "I am typing this blog on a computer" This statement is true or it isn't. It can't be "kinda" true. You don't have to believe it is true if you don't want to, but that opinion would not be valid, it would not be good.
  • "Life is hard" This is an example where truth is subjective. In other words a persons perception of life is unique to them. Two people in the same situation might come to different conclusions about how hard life is and it would be true because the issue is the perception itself.
  • "I can fly by simply flapping my arms" This statement is either true or untrue and perception doesn't matter. If I think I can fly, but when I flap my wings I don't move then reality does not line up with my beliefe.
  • "The universe was created by the God of the Bible" Wow, that is a loaded statement. A lot of people have different opinions about how the universe began. Even if there are all kinds of different opinions this is either true or it isn't. In other words it is an objective statement not dependant on a persons opinion. We can develop an opinion abou this statement based on whatever we want (prejudice, evidence, emotion, sound thinking...) but in the end we will either find out that God actually did create the universe or we will find out He did not. There isn't a gray area.
So how does all this apply to our faith? It applies in this way. Jesus either was God or he was not. He iether did die on the cross or not. He either rose from the dead or he didn't. Those are factual statements. We can have opinions about them, but our opinions are either good or bad based on the actual fact of the matter. In other words we can have mistaken opinions. We should be Christians because we believe those things to be facts. Faith is not a blind leap off a cliff in the hopes there is a big cooshy mattress at the bottom. Faith (biblical faith) is when we consider the evidence and base our beliefes on the evidence available.

I believe the Bible is true and accurate. Because of that (along with my own observations about the world) I also believe all people are sinners and in need of salvation. I bleieve Jesus is the only means of salvation (Romans 3; John 14:6; Acts 10:43). It is for those reasons I tell other people about Jesus and what he did on the cross. I believe these things because there is good evidence. Check out these links for more info:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scammed by a Shoe Shinner

I'm sitting in my hotel room in San Francisco. Today I had a meeting with the CSM folks.  They are the organization we are working with on our mission trip this summer (  After the meeting my wife and I headed for an afternoon at Fisherman's Warf.  It was a blast.  The street performers were great.  The dancers, spray painters, and musicians were great.  There were two particular guys who really stood out.  Guy #1 you see in the picture to the left.  We'll call him Scare Tactics Guy.  His basic method for making money was scaring everyone who walked by.  He got both Christa (my wife)  and I.  You might look at the picture and think, "how could he scare people sitting on a bucket with just a few branches in front of him?"  I thought the same thing, but my wife and I sat and watched him scare person after person.  Ninety percent of the people who walked by didn't notice him until he grawled at them and moved the branches.  We watched and laughed as this guy scared person after person.  He provided us some great entertainment, so we tipped him.  He also taught me a lesson.  It is amazing what can sneak up on you if your paying attention to the wrong things!!

This isn't just about people on the streets, this is true in our spiritual lives as well.  Beliefes that are unbiblical often sneak up on us when we are focusing on good things, but not really focusing on God and His word.  We might be looking right over the top of some dangerous lies about God, us, or His word.  If we are not careful Satan will sneak up on us and we will not recognize those lies until it is too late.  The thing about Satan is this, he doesn't want to just scare us, he will bite and destroy us if he gets the chance.

There was another guy, this shoe shine guy.  He was pretty slick.  As we walked by he offered to shine my shoes.  I of course said no.  He then told me, "Let me see your shoes and I can tell you where you got your shoes."  I was intrigued.  The conversation went on and after a minute he was bending over to look closer and as he put his shoe shine liquid on my shoes he said, "you got your shoes on the bottom of your feet."  of course he was right and I had been taken.  I let him finish shinning my shoes and listened to him lecture me about not listening to my mom when she told me not to talk to strangers.  I then gave him five bucks and laughed at myself (my wife laughed at me too) for about an hour.  There is another spiritual lesson in this, don't get sucked in by smooth talkers.  He didn't have good grammer (actually it was terrible), but he has learned some tricks regarding working people.  This guy was a fun guy to talk to, and I would love to be his friend.  He is not evil in any way, he is just trying to make some money.  

Still Satan works in a similar way some times.  He will use people who can deliver a message in an attractive way and lower peoples defenses to decieve us.  Keep your gaurd up, don't recieve spiritual advice from people who are not strong in their Christian faith.  Always consider the source.  You wouldn't take advice about relationships from a person who has always had bad relationships, so don't take advice about morality, life decisions, or spiritual things from a person who does not know and understand God's word.