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Inside Truth

Tim Jackson —  October 16, 2012 — 10 Comments

I recently reread the words of David penned about a year after he’d perpetrated the inconceivable—adultery and murder.  This lauded king of Israel—the sweet lyricist who’d earlier written, perhaps as a shepherd boy in the pasturelands of Judah, what may be the best known and beloved psalm  (Psalm 23)—stole the wife of one of his closest colleagues and then had him killed to cover it up.

This is what David wrote: “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Psalm 51:6).

What motivated him to pen these words?

David came face to face with the inescapable awareness of the depths of his sin (v.3). With the help of Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 12:1-14), David became deeply aware and convicted of how he’d come to despise the word of the Lord (v.9) and perpetrated such an unthinkable evil for which he had no excuse or remedy. It was something he was powerless to uproot. It required the healing touch of the Divine Surgeon to expose, cut out, and forgive his sin.

But what struck me the most about this passage wasn’t the darkness of David’s heart. Anyone who is honest with one’s self knows what darkness lurks within. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s conviction echoes this sentiment when he clarifies that “the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.”

What it exposes most is the heart of God. It’s God’s desire that we be honest with ourselves. Telling the truth is fundamental to the heart of God. That makes it easier to see why self-deception is one of the greatest threats to our personal integrity in relationships. It’s the lies we tell ourselves that are often the most convincing and most stubborn to uproot. And it’s the lies we tell ourselves in secret that give birth to the kinds of actions we’d normally consider despicable. Somehow, in the darkness of self-deception, otherwise reprehensible behaviors become justifiable over time . . . until someone shines a light into the dark crevices of our hearts, revealing the truth and causing us to remember.

Learning to tell ourselves the truth—no matter the consequences—helps us avoid far more devastating consequences resulting from embracing lies. I think telling ourselves the truth will change the way we treat others. Don’t you? Love to hear your thoughts.

Just Tell the Truth. Please.

Tim Jackson —  February 27, 2012 — 7 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I’m so fed up with the shenanigans and the mudslinging attacks of the political climate in this major election year that I just turn it all off. I’m sorry, but I’m tired of the lies. Whether it’s shading the truth, telling half-truths, not telling the whole truth, or just outright bold-faced lies, I’m sickened by it all.

Would somebody please just tell the truth!?!

In his opening lines in a letter of encouragement to a young church leader he was mentoring, the apostle Paul penned these words: “for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:1-2).

In our desperate hour, the only hope we have of authentic truth is the non-lying God. All others—even those we love who are well-intentioned—will eventually fail us. God alone can be trusted to tell us the truth—always. While at times we may struggle to embrace the truth He speaks, God was, is, and will always be truthful, faithful, and loving. That’s simply who He is. He can do nothing less.

Call me a skeptic or maybe even a cynic at times, but I’m just not hopeful of hearing much truth spoken during political campaigns. Not from either camp. But I’m confident that I can count on the non-lying Jesus who came to speak “grace and truth” (John 1:14) to restore our hope when all feels lost.

So, no matter what happens in the predictably uncertain world of politics and world affairs, don’t lose heart (John 16:33). If you have lost heart, I encourage you to refocus on the One who is the Truth, the non-lying God.

 

Truth & Consequences

Tim Jackson —  December 5, 2011 — 11 Comments

“But I told the truth!” Through her sobs it was clear that she understood how wrong she was in what she’d done. She’d broken the trust of her husband yet again with another affair. This one she’d managed to keep hidden for the past 5 years.

“I’ll never do it again!” she promised, pleading with him to not follow through with the separation. “I told the truth! Why won’t you believe me?”

In spite of her pleading, her husband had had enough of her lies. She had violated his trust one too many times and this time she lost him for good.

Unfortunately, this scenario is played out in numerous venues and relationships far too often. People who have done something wrong, finally get caught, “tell the truth” after a litany of lies and then are shocked that there are still consequences for their choices.

Some Christians will often respond with indignation, “Why won’t he just forgive her? He needs to show her grace! Jesus came to demonstrate truth and grace (John 1:14) and so should he.”

Somehow this distorted idea has crept into our present value system. What idea? That once I confess to the truth of what I’ve done, that all painful consequences should magically melt away like the dew in the morning sunlight because I “fessed up.” The rationale goes something like this:  “After all, we are to be gracious and forgiving of one another as Christians.” Sounds good. Right?

Sorry. While that may sound biblical, it’s not. A biblical understanding of Truth and Grace is that grace doesn’t exempt us from consequences for foolish choices. Grace means we don’t throw someone away and brand them as worthless.

Forgiveness can be offered to us when we finally confesses to what we’ve done, but what we must also accept is that we may still lose our job, our marriage, our home, our children, our reputation and our friends because of our choices.

Telling the truth doesn’t exempt us from the painful consequences of the truth being known. It’s not Truth or Consequences but Truth And Consequences.

Staying Grounded

Jeff Olson —  June 9, 2011 — Leave a comment

Last week I was reading through a monthly newsletter from John Eldredge, founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries. Eldredge, who has recently written a book about Jesus, said that one of things that  struck him the most going through the life of Christ again was how grounded of a person Jesus was.

Eldredge wrote that Jesus’ “ability to navigate praise, then hatred, false flattery, then adoring crowds, vicious slander and then people who simply don’t care — all with a grace and a sense of self that was simply stunning. Here was one grounded man.”

Yes indeed…Jesus was one centered dude.

Eldredge’s observations about Christ made me ask myself, “What am I grounded in?” Perhaps a better question to ask is “Who am I grounded in?” & “How am I staying grounded?”

In order to stay grounded, Eldredge suggested, “Cut the insane busyness. Do not live for tweets, texts, Facebook or email. Unplug the TV. Read Christian writers…Practice solitude and silence (five minutes a day will rescue you)…Get back in the Scriptures.”

Sounds likes some good ways to become and stay grounded.

No matter what we are going through, intentionally abiding in Christ and staying centered in His truth and grace is the best place to be. It may not change our circumstances, but it will help us be who we truly are in Him.

Letting pain breathe

Jeff Olson —  January 13, 2011 — 5 Comments

Recently I watched the movie Open Range. It was a Christmas present.

Westerns don’t normally interest me, but this film drew me in. There was one scene, in particular, that grabbed my attention.

One of the main characters in the film is Charlie Waite (played by Kevin Costner). He’s a Cowboy trying to escape a past filled with pain and regret. During the night, he has a nightmare of being attacked by a masked gunman. The woman, whose house he was staying in, heard Charlie stirring and tried to wake him up. Startled, Charlie momentarily mistook the woman for the man in his dream and drew his pistol on her.

The next morning at breakfast, Charlie apologized to the woman. He went on to explain that he was trying to put some bad times behind him “but sometimes they don’t stay put.” The woman paused for a moment and then spoke these profound words to Charlie,

“Always make me feel better to let things breathe a little—not bury them.”

As a counselor, I couldn’t have said it better. When we bury and try to suffocate the painful realities of life, they start to own us in ways that are not good. It’s best to let them “breathe a little.”

Facing our pain is not about becoming bitter and angry. It’s about putting our hearts in a honest position where we can begin to heal.

Whatever it is, leaning into our pain and letting it breath allows deep lies and false interpretations of events to surface so they can be identified, challenged, and replaced with what it is true. It’s a difficult process for sure, but it allows God to speak into our painful places and bring truth that heals our wounded hearts.

Is there a pain you need to let breathe?

Family Denial

Allison Stevens —  December 28, 2009 — 5 Comments

Especially during the holidays, we sometimes notice serious issues or problems in our family that we don’t want to admit or acknowledge. It’s painful, so we put our heads in the sand and live in the land of wishful thinking, instead of reality.

headinsand

 

As I was reading in I Samuel today about the story of Saul, Jonathon and David, I was struck by Jonathon’s denial of how badly his father, Saul, wanted David dead. Saul was insanely jealous of David and tried on several occasions to take him out. I recommend that you read this dramatic story (I Samuel chapters 17 through 20.)

Jonathon loved David like a brother. They were so close and Jonathon didn’t want anything bad to happen to David.  But he told David more than once, “My father would have told me if he was going to kill you. He tells me everything, but he hasn’t said a word about it, so I don’t think he’s going to do it. And I would have told you if I heard of any plans of killing you.”  At one point, Saul even vowed not to kill David.  But Saul wasn’t exactly a man of his word.

David wasn’t convinced that Saul didn’t want him dead. Having a spear thrown at him several times told him otherwise, and I’m sure that there were other behaviors that Saul exhibited that made David think twice about Saul. David finally convinced Jonathon that he needed to find out for sure if Saul was going to kill him. It’s at this point that Jonathon’s eyes were opened and he saw how fiercely his father wanted David dead and out of his life.

Thankfully, Jonathon was no longer in denial and giving David bad information. No more excuses for Saul’s behavior. No more believing that Saul had good intentions and that he’d keep his word. Saul had a track record of doing things his own way and being in denial himself (1 Samuel 15:3-15.) Because Jonathon finally saw the truth of the situation, he was able to help his dearly loved friend. He helped save his life.

Who can blame Jonathon for not wanting to believe that his own father wanted his best friend murdered? But his denial was putting his best friend at risk. Once he fought the urge to overlook the seriousness of the situation, and he looked for confirmation of the truth, he saw things as they really were. No more wishful thinking.

We, too, can make a difference in someone’s’ life, if we’re willing to see and accept the truth.   Jesus says that the truth will set us free! (John 8:32.)

Telling the Truth

Tim Jackson —  July 23, 2009 — 1 Comment

carfax.comDon’t you long to have people tell you the truth? I sure do. When it came time to replace my vintage Honda recently with a new one (well, it wasn’t “new-new”, it was “used-but-new-to-me-new”), I did my research. Computer searches galore in the evenings when I got home. CARFAX, Blue-book, you name it. I ran VIN numbers and talked with salesman and owners of the models I was considering. I just wanted to know the truth: Was it reliable? Repair costs? Miles-per-gallon?

Once I narrowed my search down to a specific vehicle, then I had to ask: Has it ever been in an accident? Does it burn oil? Has the transmission ever been repaired? Was this a one owner car? I just wanted to know the truth about what I was getting into before plunking down some cold hard cash for a new ride. I really wanted to know what I’m getting. Don’t you?

But truth-telling when it comes to a new purchase is one thing. I don’t want a lemon or to get suckered on the deal. But what’s hardest for me sometimes is telling myself the truth. I find that I’m often far more demanding and intentional in ferreting out the truth about something I want to purchase than I am about what’s going on just under the surface of my skin. What’s more disturbing is that what I often demand from others is what I’m just as reluctant to require of myself. Ouch! And if I’m honest (and I guess I should be if I’m writing about truth-telling), what’s even more unsettling is listening to others tell me the truth about me. Whoa! Now that’s a tough one! (Whew! too much for this brief posting)

But what David wrote in Psalm 51:6 reminds me that God wants me to be a truth teller on the inside first so that I can be a truth-teller on the outside: “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (NIV) Where God wants us to start is being brutally honest with ourselves about ourselves. Truth telling about what’s going on inside sets the table for us to really begin understanding the deeper wisdom about who we are and where we struggle that leads to truthful living on the outside. And that changes everything–the way we treat others, our goals, our desires, our behaviors, our choices–everything.

So how about you? Does this have a “ring of truth” to it for you too? Any thoughts?