So, You Want the Truth? Well Maybe you Can’t Handle THIS:

“Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, ‘If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 ASV)

In a world where tons and tons of slanted opinions are tossed at us (read: Facebook, Twitter, CNN vs Fox, TV commercials, politics), the truth is becoming a rare and precious commodity. Every day you are presented with tons of information; how much of it is factual and how much of it is questionable? How do you know what is authentic and true versus what is twisted and spun? I still remember being encouraged several years ago because Congress declared that they were giving us a tax cut. Naturally I assumed that my taxes would therefore be lower. When my tax bill came, I found I was paying MORE in taxes! I actually called a congressman’s office to ask what happened to the tax cut. I wanted the TRUTH!

Their answer was classic congressional double-talk: they told me that even though my total tax bill was higher, I was paying “less” in taxes because they had reduced the amount my taxes were scheduled to go up! The art of prevarication is more sophisticated and subtle today than it has ever been in history. Over a century and a half ago, Mark Twain said “A lie will make it halfway around the world before the truth has had a chance to put its boots on.” And that was before we even had the internet. What is spin and what is factual? As Bill Clinton once said, “That depends on what your definition of the word “is” is… In our politics and in our culture, deception has been raised to an art form, and it is far more common and pervasive today than it was when Mr. Twain made his observation.

How do we know what is true and what is not? I have heard it said that when the Treasury Department trains agents how to detect counterfeit bills, they don’t waste time studying every possible variation. They invest time in knowing the original backwards and forwards. They are so attuned to the true original that they develop sort of an inner “truth meter” that detects flaws and irregularities in the counterfeit script. This sounds a little simplistic, to be honest, but the principle makes sense. By being intimately familiar with the real thing, they can then detect the phony variations of it. Most people remember Jesus said “the truth shall make you free.” What they forget is that he prefaced that remark not by saying, “read lots of men’s opinions”, or “watch the nightly news”, and certainly not, “get on Social Media”… He said to abide in his word. Give that a try. Know who Jesus really is. Bask in his words. Be intimately familiar with the truth. Then when you hear a variation of it your Truth Meter will go off like crazy!

The truth, I’ve said, and I’ll say it again
Is harder find than “A Few Good Men”,
When our culture tries to dismantle it,
And Jack Nicholson says, “You can’t handle it!”
It gets to be so strenuous, detecting the disingenuous
When things reported by the press
are not the truth, but something less.
Of all the things that come at you,
how can you tell which ones are true?
Things can be fake, if digital, so study the original:
Whether mature or just a youth, get to know the solid truth-
Know Jesus. Get to know His word, and out of everything you’ve heard,
Of everything that you can see, know this: The truth will set you free.

 

To buy my latest book, Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

 

There’s Plenty of Bad News Out There: Here’s Some GOOD News that’s the Gospel Truth

The Gospel simple means “good news”, and for many, many generations it was taken to mean something that is absolutely true. Even Mark Twain, who was critical of church-goers, often wrote colorful dialect for some of his western characters who, when referring to something being true or reliable, would say: “That’s gospel, pard.” The Apostle Paul changed his vocation, his plans, and his entire life because of the gospel, and he says this about it:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, NIV)

The Good News

The world all around me, I just have to say
Is full of bad news that we hear every day;
There’s real news, and “fake news”, and media spin;
There’s plenty of hatred, and judgment of sin–
[And that just depends on which church you are in!]
In all of our talk about “don’ts” and the “do’s”,
There are lots of Church words that we Church people use,
Such as “gospel”– which, Paul says, means very good news.
In Old English, it’s “God-spell”. So why is there passion
Stirred up by a word that is so darned old-fashioned?
Just what is the gospel? It’s something I’ve heard
In the Church all my life; it’s a Sunday School word–
Just the kind of expression evangelists say:
So why is the Gospel important today?
If your loved one’s in surg’ry, might not make it through,
Would you hope that the surgeon brings “good news” to you?
When a marriage proposal is made, does he fear
That it won’t be “good news” from the one he holds dear?
When your boss says there’ll be some reorganization,
Do you hope for “good news” about future vocation?
When you took a hard test, and you’re given your grade,
It’s only “good news” if a good grade is made!
But the Gospel is more than a grade on a test–
It’s not news that’s just GOOD, it is news that’s the BEST!
The headline reads: “Jesus Christ died on the Cross,
Giving Life Everlasting to all who were Lost”!
The Gospel is love. It’s about life and death.
It is every last heartbeat and every last breath!
The Gospel is power and passion combined;
It’s truth, transformation, and love intertwined;
Take a look at the gospel anew, redefined,
And let it sink in to your heart and your mind:
It is news just for YOU, of the very best kind.
Jesus died for the world, we all know that is true–
It’s the oldest of news, it’s the newest of new:
But the good news means He also died just for YOU.

 

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35, NIV)

 

To buy my latest book, Slaying Giants: Thirty Days With David, go here:  https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Abide in the Truth, Because “Wherever You Go, There You Are”

Abide is a word you don’t hear much anymore. I always think of it as coming from someone like Lonesome Dove’s Gus McCrae, who might have said, “I can’t abide a surly barkeep.” It was also used more frequently in Biblical times. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32, NIV) More recently, in “The Big Lebowski”, Jeff Bridges famously described his state of being by saying, “The Dude Abides”.

We don’t use the word “abide” very often, but it means to accept or go along with something. In a Biblical sense, a disciple not only learns the Words of the teacher, but they ABIDE in them.

The Greek word for “abide” is also translated “continue in, to dwell, remain, endure, or stand.” By encouraging his disciples to abide in him, Jesus is basically saying that they need to reconfigure their lives to listen to him and to apply what he said. He is asserting that you find freedom not from Google, not in sound bites or tweets, but by being disciplined in the truth.  In today’s culture, the idea of being someone’s disciple seems a bit old fashioned. Why follow a teacher when you have the internet?

If I were the devil, and could not destroy the Truth itself (even though I’d been trying for over 2,000 years) then I would take another tack and try to change the way people HEAR the truth. If ABIDING in a teacher’s words was the most effective way to receive life-changing wisdom, then I would distract and diffuse… I’d emphasize individual freedom so that people would question every set of teachings, and then I’d send them many messages from many sources to keep them from following the words that could help them the most.

Our culture is moving so rapidly that the idea of abiding and remaining seems really old fashioned, doesn’t it? Perhaps the closest equivalent we have today is in the world of sports, where athletes will follow a coach and abide in his words, but I don’t see that kind of disciple-producing progression happening in church. I wonder if the current generation could disconnect from media long enough to abide in something…But then everybody abides in SOME thing.

What do you abide in? I know guys who abide in sports or cars, I know women who abide in crafts or Pinterest, and people who abide in music or Snapchat or Instagram, but I don’t often meet someone who ABIDES in Jesus. Guys can remember how they played number 13 at such and such a golf course two years ago, but they don’t remember last week’s Sunday school lesson. Women talk about what they saw on Pinterest more often than they share the gospel. (Yeah I know, I’m trying to step on everyone’s toes, how am I doing?)

Jesus said, “if you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.” What does a disciple look like? Well first of all, they are familiar with what Jesus taught, and they embrace and inhabit his words. If, as Jesus claimed, he was “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, and if his words are truth, then it is only logical that Satan makes it his full-time occupation to try to replace, rewrite, or distract from what Jesus said. The Father of Lies works in every generation to destroy the truth. Is anybody else but me concerned that truth is in such short supply these days? It’s not in advertising, it’s not on the internet, it’s not on TV, it’s not in journalism, and it’s not in politics…. We do not find freedom in liberties, but in Truth. As truth diminishes, so does our freedom. Perhaps as we celebrate our freedom, we should remember to spend more time with the one who gave up His so that we could find ours. Abide. Remain. STAND.

 

Try this simple word, you've heard it said, it's in your head
But understand that this command makes a demand upon your time:
It wants your mind and if you see then you will find it sets you free
To be who you were meant to be by hearing what the Master taught,
He brought the truth to give us freedom, 
fought for us when we were beaten, 
bought our hearts so he could free them...
Without him we would have died, but he renews our hearts inside,
And simply asks us to reside in this one word: Abide. Abide.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

True Story: John Said his Best Friend was Full of Grace and Truth: Was He Lying?

This is a true story about lies… If your life depended upon knowing the truth, would you be happy with a lie? We generally don’t want to lead lives based on a lie, or feel that it’s healthy to engage in falsehood. (In fact, people who live lives based on falsehood are often called delusional, and locked away.) The Gospel of John takes great care to remind us that truth is important, and he even tells us where to find it. John says that we beheld the glory of that baby born in Bethlehem, and that he was “full of grace and truth.” I am willing to compliment a friend, and it’s good to say something nice about someone, but I can’t really recall ever saying, “Old Charlie is a good guy. He’s full of grace and truth!” I’ve known people who were graceful, and I’ve known folks who were honest, but I’ve never described someone I knew really well as the repository of veracity. Usually when we say, “He’s full of it”, we are NOT talking about grace and truth… Is it possible to say anything more descriptive and astounding about someone? John had observed Jesus at close range for at least 3 years, and certainly knew him well enough to be aware of any flaws he had to contradict this statement. Perhaps John is here echoing the claim Jesus made which was recorded in chapter 14: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.” Jesus said, “I am the truth”, and John BELIEVED him. In an era when journalists (who were once bastions of truth and objectivity) publish sensational stories and suppositions without checking facts, or present part of a story as all of the story, someone who personifies the Truth is rare indeed. In our culture, spin is more common than fact. Advertising agencies present stories and scenarios that will subtly convince you to believe whatever they claim about their products (even if those claims have no basis in reality). In an era where truth is watered down, twisted, and manipulated, truth is an endangered species. Think about this: almost every commercial message you hear tells a story that either makes claims that are not true, or creates a virtual myth-like environment in an attempt to alter what you think about reality. Christmas shoppers can avoid black Friday crowds and “save thousands” by buying a car.

Shaving commercials show guys lathered up like Santa with a shaving cream beard, when only about 1/3 of that amount of shaving cream is needed to actually shave– but they are trying to implant a false idea of how much cream a guy should use on every shave. (Same thing happens with pictures of toothpaste slathered on top of the toothbrush!) In the commercial story, if a guy uses a certain cologne, women go nuts over him. In reality a good smelling nerd is still a nerd. In the ads, beer drinkers are all hot, slim young people for whom life is a party (and Alpine climbers live in the cooler to bring up some cold ones from the pristine mountain waters.) I know a few beer drinkers whose actual profile is somewhat different, and up in the mountains you can’t even drink the stream water because you might get infected with Giardia, a particularly stubborn and nasty little parasite… Messages on social media are full of outright balderdash presented as fact, or partial and biased stories that pretend to be the whole truth. Based on the amount of exposure we have to advertising, you hear WAY more lies every day than you hear truth. Even if you don’t believe the story they are throwing at you 100%, the ads are designed to move your needle just a little bit over towards their version of reality. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, said “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” Ironically, that’s still true. In a world filled with subtlety and spin, be careful that your needle isn’t moved too far by falsehood. I’d say this: find truth in your world; read it, listen to it, cultivate it, and rejoice in it. If Jesus was the truth, as he claimed to be, he is worth far more of your time than all of the newscasts, FB posts and commercial messages you will ever hear. According to John, Jesus was also full of grace. Would the world be a better place if there was a little more grace in it? Could YOU ever use a little more grace?  Well here’s the deal: I’m willing to bet that if you seek the truth, you will also find grace.

The truth about lies is they're hard to see,
Bombarding us from everywhere,
Reshaping our reality with subtle falsehoods that we share...
Lies come at us from every place--
From ads that do more than they seem--
Convincing us to load our face with 3 shaves worth of shaving cream.
We're surrounded by these lies from cradle through impetuous youth
While subtle Falsehood in disguise disparages important Truth.
Grab hold of Truth! Don't let it go, 
And don't let Falsehood take its place.
Beauty may be Truth, but know 
That more importantly, Truth is Grace.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

You Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Free

Yesterday we focused on “I am the WAY” in John 14:6; today we will look at “I am the TRUTH”, which is a little more complicated these days than it was when this was written… Veracity today is treated much too casually, and we are lied to all too often. Our perception of truth is colored far too much by culture, advertising and media. After a Presidential election season in which we found that Candidates lied, Social Media lied and the news media lied, why does this matter?Here are a few random scatter-shot thoughts about that:

First, think about advertising, which is ALL slanted to try to influence you or change your opinion. “The average American is exposed to 500 to 1,000 commercial messages a day (Arens 1999). That’s anywhere from 182,500 to 365,000 commercial messages that a person will view this year alone.” (And that’s OLD research, so it’s a very conservative number, what with internet banners and Facebook ads bombarding you as you surf online or use your phone…) We see, read and hear hundreds of lies every. Single. Day. Do you think that doesn’t blur the line even just a little bit?

Second, and totally unrelated, basketball player Allen Iverson’s nickname was “the Truth” because he was tough and played with heart; yet he’s famous for a rant complaining about how hard his coach expected him to practice. Now, Iverson was a little guy in the midst of a grueling NBA season, and his point was that he was leaving it all on the floor during games; but for the rest of us, the truth is this: Practice like you want to play, or you’ll play like you practice. The habits we build every day becomes the behavior we use under stress. Plus, even though he has my respect, knowing Allen Iverson won’t make me free; but knowing the Man who made this claim certainly has.

Third, I think of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”: “You want the truth?! You can’t handle the truth!!” (Kind of ironic when you think of the fact that he is an actor pretending to be a Marine, but we believed it…) If the absolute truth was presented to you, could you handle it? Would you really even want to hear it?

And finally, Zig Ziglar used to ask an audience, “How many of you read the newspaper every day?” (Lots of hands went up) then, “How many of you believe everything you read in the newspaper is true?” (Almost no hands) “Ok, how many of you believe everything in the Bible is true?” (Lots of hands) “How many of you read the Bible every day?” (Almost no hands) Point made. Then think about those thousands media messages you absorb; how much ‘less than true’ information hits your brain there every day? With all media combined—you have commercials, politics, Facebook posts, magazines, the news…. Really, there’s an amazing amount of stuff. How well do you know the truth? How much time do you spend getting to know it? In Politics, in Social Media, or even in commercials, every side seems to have an agenda that obscures truth and promotes self. In all of the subtle (and blatant) misrepresentations in commercials (a deodorant is so good that it makes girls attack you, or all beer drinkers are fit, active people), in news (we’re objective journalists) and in politics (pretty much everyone talking in fifty shades of falsehood), we forget John 8:32: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Here is a man who said, “I am the Truth”: maybe it would make sense to listen to what he taught. Seek the truth. Live by it, and be free, America.

Today you'll see a thousand things that really just aren't true;
Facebook Ads and stores will try to sell their stuff to you.
Out of all the messages and ads that you will see,
Remember, no one ever said, "The Spin will make you free."
So out of all the things you'll hear, and stuff that you will read,
Just get to know the Truth, and He will make you free indeed.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread