Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Truth - Where Is It?

It has been awhile since I last posted a blog.  Most of this month has been consumed with the needs of making another major move - this time from Iowa back to Minnesota.  We sold our townhouse in Ankeny, IA and bought a townhouse in Buffalo, MN.  Marlys and I have decided that making two major moves in 13 months should not be something that is aspired toward.  We are hoping that God will give us a nice, long stay in Buffalo - and I know that the folks in my church hope so as well.

These are very interesting times, aren't they?  Last week was the Republican Convention in Cleveland.  I believe we may have seen the creation of a new form of Republicanism.  While I did not always agree with decisions made during the convention, I did admire that the emphasis was upon "Making America Great Again."  It was interesting to visit with one of the men who helped us in our move from Iowa back to Minnesota.  He and his family were refugees from Bosnia and came to Iowa in 2006.  His family learned English right away.  He was able to get a job and not to depend upon governmental handouts.  He asked me why all refugees and immigrants did not do as he and his family did?  He and his family are productive citizens because they have earned that right because they have followed the laws and protocols.  I may not agree with everything Donald Trump stands for, but I believe many middle-class Americans will resonate with his desires to build a stronger military and to get back to the basics of an economy driven by American production. 

This week it is the Democrats turn in Philadelphia.  It is a party that is not as united as it would have us to believe.  But history was made with the nomination of Hillary Clinton to be the standard bearer for them.  Now the race can begin with two candidates that the majority of Americans do not like, nor do they trust.  How did we get into this predicament?  What happened? 

I believe the answer is as simple as this: we have abandoned absolute truth.  Truth today is all relative.  Truth is always changing.  Truth is personal, crafted for each individual.  What are perceived to be lies to one person are truths to others.  When there is no absolute standard for truth, if there is no solid foundation upon which truth is established, then is it possible that there really is no truth?  In the absence of truth all becomes merely opinions.  For example, Hillary Clinton has her opinions as to what happened that night in Benghazi.  The family of those killed that night have their opinions.  The media has formed its opinions.  And the American people are left to wonder: what actually happened that night?  What is the truth? 

Where does a person turn today to find truth?  Opinions are everywhere - everyone has one just about everything.  But what about truth?  As a Christian, I believe that absolute truth is found in the Word of God, known as the Bible.  Jesus, in His High Priestly Prayer, recorded in John 17, said these words, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."  Furthermore, this same Jesus said to His disciples earlier that evening, as recorded in John 14, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."  To know Jesus is to know truth.  To read the Bible is to know truth.  To know God is to know truth because God is incapable of telling a lie. 

Friends, in the absence of absolute truth - of absolute morality, bad things happen.  A priest is murdered while he is performing a mass at a church in France.  Five policemen are gunned down while patrolling a demonstration in Dallas.  Eighty-four people are mowed down by a madman driving a truck in Nice, France.  And the list goes on and on.  In the absence of truth, almost anything is permissible. 

Personally I have decided that I need to spend more time in my own personal Bible study.  I need to spend more time in prayer for my wife, for my children, for my grandchildren, and for my church family.  And every time I step behind that pulpit, I need to be reminded that I am to help people to understand God's truth for the days in which we live.  It is only that truth that truly sets people free.

Monday, July 11, 2016

What Is Going On?

The Fourth of July weekend has come and gone.  The celebration of the birthday of that nation whose foundations were laid upon the strong principles derived from Judeo-Christian teachings, soon descended into the chaos of racial tensions across our nation.  The riots that have occurred over the past few days have not been seen since the 1960's.  It seems that our nation stands poised near the brink of a potential civil war. 

As I have shared with you before, I love studying the era of the American Civil War.  What we are seeing today is not entirely unlike those days preceding that conflagration that literally tore our nation apart.  There was a lot of discrimination in those days - not necessarily between blacks and whites, but between whites who opposed slavery and whites who supported slavery.  It was North versus South.  Our nations leaders, who adamantly held to one opinion or the other, tried to stave off the inevitable with one compromise after another.  Yet, the more the compromises that came from Washington, the more sharply divided our nation became.  America had become a nation where trust was lacking.  The North did not trust the motivations of the South, nor did the South trust the North.  All that was needed was for someone to ignite the fuse that led to the barrel of gunpowder.  And that someone was John Brown whose raid upon the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in October 1859, shouted that the division was so deep that no civil conversations could bring about healing.  Thus, when those first shots were heard at Fort Sumter in April 1860, they were not unexpected. 

Now I am not saying that Americans are ready to take up arms against their fellow Americans.  But I am saying that America has become a deeply divided nation.  We continue to witness racial divisions which have persisted for centuries.  We now have gender divisions - something that no other civilization has experienced before.  And that gender division is become more pronounced and the chasm is expanding almost daily.  We have economic division between those who have and those who do not have - and, that divide is expanding as well.  We have divisions concerning matters of life - when it begins and how does it end.  And all of these create a political division that is most pronounced today.  Unlike the America from 1820-1860 which was basically divided into anti-slavery and pro-slavery groups, today's America is divided into many different camps.

Can there be a healing of America?  That is the question that is so critically important to ask and seems to be more difficult to answer.  I believe the answer is found in a return to absolute truth.  And that absolute truth, I believe, is only found within the Word of God - the Bible.  In the early days of the twentieth century, American educators and political leaders began to question absolute truth.  Instead, they anchored to opinions.  Absolute truth was cast aside as being irrelevant.  Truth became personalized.  It become "my truth" or, as they would say, "what is true for me."  Now, let's translate what this might look like in a nation of over three hundred million people: that means that there are over three hundred million "truths" that are held and deemed as being "right."  Is it any wonder that there is division today?

As I shared with my church family yesterday, in the absence of God all that remains is chaos and confusion.  Friends, that is what we are now experiencing.  Back in the 1950's our Supreme Court judges said that God was no longer openly welcomed into the public school classrooms.  Then that same Supreme Court ruled that murder within the womb was acceptable under law - it made no difference what God said about the beginnings of life.  And a year ago the Supreme Court said that God's ethic concerning marriage was no longer the only ethic to be followed - again, an act of willful arrogance against the words of God.  We have lost respect for each other because we have no respect for a holy God who made us in His image.  We have lost trust with each other because we have no common anchorage - all we have are personal opinions.  We have lost hope because our future is only dependent upon ourselves not in a relationship with the holy God.  We have become a nation that is filled with rage and with fear and with uncertainty.  These are the consequences of a nation that turns against God. 

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are not called to despair but to hope.  We are to shine as "stars in the universe" as Paul says in Philippians 2.  And the greater the darkness of our age, the brighter should our lights be.  May we be as "lighthouses" to guide people from the darkness of this age into the light of God's glorious kingdom that is soon coming.