Are You Veridical?

How do you respond when the spotlight of truth shines on you?

A natural reaction to my question would be, “What the heck is that?”

If I answered, “Why, it’s simply the product of my virtually endless vocabulary,” I would not be veridical; I would be a liar. Veridical is one of the words I’ve received from Dictionary dot com’s Word of the Day. This particular word is noteworthy because it succinctly encapsulates (okay, now I’m just showing off) a character trait that I long to embody, just like Jesus did.

An example of varidicality cites the George Washington mythos that has the six-year-old little man chopping down a cherry tree, and when his father Augustine challenges him about it, little George is reputed to have said, “I cannot tell a lie; I did cut it with my hatchet.” As he sported the very highest of manly character from an early age, his taking a swing at his father’s cherry tree seems unlikely indeed, though if he had, he certainly would have confessed it.

Speaking of confessions, I must not tell a lie: I am a natural a liar. Truth has always seemed a luxury I couldn’t afford when it would expose me to my actions’ consequences. Even since accepting Christ’s Lordship and realizing the necessity of truth-telling, the temptation to lie has plagued me. Temptation, however is not a sin, so when I feel that old urge to polish the truth just a smidge, the prospect of violating my Savior’s sacred trust repulses me.

Truth is such a rare commodity in this fallen world that it seems like a luxury when just a little white lie could smooth life’s path. When you’re tempted to to polish the truth, just remember what Jesus said to the self-righteous, religious Jews in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Notice how Jesus grouped lying with murder, for lying indeed murders the truth.

So, am I veridical? Truth be told, not at all in my own power. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Bible Doctrine—What Really Matters?

Huh?

Today I happened upon two words that intrigued me: Supralapsarianism, and Infralapsarianism (just sound them out). Only a theologian could come up with stuff like that. So I Googled them and found they are two schools of thought about “ordering the soteriological elements of God’s eternal decree.” That enlightening information simply lit the mud-puddle more brightly. But wait! There are two more, for no extra charge: Amyraldism and Arminianism (don’t ask). Here’s a sample of what the first two describe, as far as the order of events in God’s Plan of Salvation (soteriology):

Supralapsarianism
1. Elect Some, Reject the Rest (before creation)
2. Create
3. Permit Fall
4. Provide Salvation for the Elect
5. Call Elect to Salvation

And just for comparison, here’s another:

Infralapsarianism
1. Create
2. Permit Fall
3. Elect Some, Pass Over the Rest (after creation)
4. Provide Salvation for the Elect
5. Call the Elect to Salvation

As you can see, there’s not a whole heck of a lot of difference between them, and Calvinistic theologians get into long, involved debates over which is God’s honest truth. Funny thing is, most of those fancy, theological words aren’t even in the Bible.

Actually, that’s not funny at all.

My question: Does splitting theological hairs really matter, except for proving oneself right and another wrong? Tell you what, that smacks pretty strongly of vain pride.

Apostle Paul stated this soteriological thing most simply:

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Sure, other Biblical teachings matter a lot, but once you are reborn by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s all a matter of growing toward spiritual maturity. Should you put yourself before the brethren? Of course not; God’s Word teaches us to love others, and put their welfare before your own. In fact, that’s pretty much the bottom line of spiritual maturity.

Trouble is, you and I have witnessed lots of church folks who don’t seem to have grasped love’s importance. Sure, they’re religious enough, but Apostle James had some choice things to say about that:

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:26-27)

See that last part, about widows and orphans? That’s called putting others first. God’s requirements are all fulfilled in one word: LOVE. Apostle John put it best:

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:10,11)

And that’s what really matters.

Warning, you may find this post offensive …

But only if you’re part of the problem.

God’s church has the bad habit of sweeping sensitive or distasteful issues under the tabu-rug. Such issues vary by denomination and congregation, but perhaps the most universally swept issue is pornography use.

A quick definition of Porn is: printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. Usually, “printed or visual material” is interpreted as photographs or graphic images, but is that assumption realistic?

Years ago, I enjoyed reading thriller-type novels by such authors as Ludlum, Cussler, Patterson, King and Sheldon. And don’t get me started on the movies of the same genre. One common element in such fiction is vivid portrayals of violence and gore, usually motivated by “righteous” revenge. Brothers, “righteous” and “revenge” are oxymorons. The enemy of your soul places those stories before your eyes to elicit your sympathy, causing you to justify violent vengeance. Another common element of such fiction is erotic descriptions of sex and seduction. If you call yourself a Christian, you have no business placing such words and images before your eyes. Just because it isn’t technically porno doesn’t mean it’s okay.

And on the distaff side …

Ladies, stop poking your husbands if you read “steamy” romance novels, which are nothing less than verbal porn. You read them for the stories and not the sex? That’s like your husband’s claim of “reading” Playboy Magazine for the literary value alone. Ladies, those stories are nothing more than “cookie-cutter” literature, mass-produced to separate you from both your money and your morals.

Confession Time

Apostle Paul suffered from a physical “thorn in the flesh.” My biggest thorn in the flesh is my addiction to “soft porn.” Some would say, “Why, that’s not so bad; could be worse.”

Indeed it could, but it doesn’t have to be worse to stand between me and my Savior. Even though it may not cost my eternal salvation—note, I said “may not”—that garbage stunts my spiritual growth. By now I’ve realized that I’m stuck with my taste for “morality’s booze,” but by Christ’s righteous power it doesn’t have to rule my life.

I’ve coined the phrase, “Soft porn makes soft Christians,” and I don’t want to be a soft Christian. I praise my Lord and Savior for opening my spiritual eyes to what I place before my physical eyes, allowing me to fully appreciate its ugliness. Any victory God is giving me hasn’t come easily; I still struggle with the temptation, but through my persistent supplication he is giving me victory over that particular tool of Satan.

The Bible never mentions pornography, but it does cover fornication quite well. Not the same thing? The Greek for “fornication” comes from the same root word (porneia) as our word, “pornography.” Below, find listed some of the Biblical passages dealing with fornication and lust:

1 John 2:16[Full Chapter]
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Matthew 5:32
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Matthew 19:9
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

John 8:41
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Proverbs 11:6
The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.

Matthew 5:27
[ Lust ] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

1 Thessalonians 4:5
not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

2 Peter 2:10
and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,

If you feel condemnation for your use of porn, that’s just your enemy hitting you with the ol’ one-two. First, he stunts your spiritual growth, then he turns your God-given conviction into condemnation, gaining two victories for one sin. Pretty clever, eh? Resolve to accept and submit to God’s conviction, but tell your sneaky enemy, “Be gone, Satan!” By God’s redemptive power, Satan’s ploys are wasted on you.

 

C.S. Lewis on the Impermanence of Feelings

If “falling in love” happens, so will “falling out of love.” As C.S. Lewis said, “The great thing is to continue to believe when the feeling is absent: and these periods do quite as much for one as those when the feeling is present.”

It’s all about trusting in God, and not in feelings. Christ-followers are just as apt to “fall in love” as flesh-followers. The difference is the foundation upon which said love is built.

We fallible, human-type beings are going to feel emotions, but we must remember that said emotions are just as fallible as anything else in our lives—probably more so. If we think of emotions as nothing more than a temporary effect that endorphins have on our brains, we may be able to assign a more appropriate priority to them.

Does that sound cold and heartless? Actually, it’s anything but. Think about the “good” feelings you experience after exercise; you feel pumped, ready to take on the world. But what about the next day? You go back to the gym and repeat the process.

The emotions associated with love and hope are similarly transient, even though they effect your life far more profoundly than the generic, “good” feeling from exercise.

What I’m saying is, we must take the sensations of love and hope, and of any other emotional responses to spiritual facts, with a grain of salt. They are the icing on the cake of Biblical spirituality.

We must expect, and guard against, the natural discouragement of failing to see in ourselves all that we want from God. I can think of two Bible passages that bear directly on that: “Hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24) and, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8).

Remember, dissatisfaction with your spiritual growth is great, but discouragement is from the flesh, and condemnation is Satan’s specialty.

C.S. Lewis on Crushed Hopes

C.S. Lewis’ wife Joy

From a letter to Mary Van Deusen dated April 10, 1959

I know all the different ways in which [misdiagnosis of terminal illness] gets one: wild hopes, bitter nostalgia for lost happiness, mere physical terror turning one sick, agonised pity and self-pity. In fact, Gethsemane. I had one (paradoxical) support which you lack—that of being in severe pain myself. Apart from that what helped Joy and me through it was 1. That she was always told the whole truth about her own state. There was no miserable pretence. That means that both can face it side-by-side, instead of becoming something like adversaries in a battle-of-wits. 2. Take it day by day and hour by hour (as we took the front line). It is quite astonishing how many happy—even gay—moments we had together when there was no hope. 3. Don’t think of it as something sent by God. Death and disease are the work of the Devil. It is permitted by God: i.e., our General has put you in a fort exposed to enemy fire. 4. Remember other sufferers. It’s fatal to start thinking ‘Why should this happen to us when everyone else is so happy.’ You are (I was and may be again) one of a huge company. Of course we shall pray for you all we know how. God bless you both.

I desperately hope many will read those words of hope from C.S. Lewis. Of course, my little blog has far less exposure than other on-line Lewis enthusiasts and resources, but if even one hurting individual reads this for the first time, this post is worth the effort.

As I seem unable to leave well enough alone, I’ll list my thoughts on Lewis’ sage words below:

Even in this day of unprecedented diagnostic accuracy, doctors still make mistakes that are no less devastating than in Lewis’ time. We can’t help entertaining wild hopes, even in the face of grim probabilities. When those hopes get dashed, we naturally feel violated, even victimized. While that’s a natural, human reaction to misfortune, we must absolutely guard against self-pity, as it places us in judgment over God’s greater purposes for us.

Lewis’ wife Joy was one who wanted the brutally honest truth of everything. That’s how she came to believe in God and accept his gospel of redemption in Christ Jesus. Seems like most people, though, want only good news about their physical condition, and live in denial of the bad stuff. Even their outlook on national and world events suffers from such foolish optimism, leading them to support political candidates who pander to their unrealistic expectations.

Too often, we ruin the happiness we once had, and could still have, by agonizing over what might happen. Tragically, even Christians, who should actually anticipate physical death, worry about dying. Personally, I look forward to meeting my Savior face-to-face; it’s just the transition that bothers me. Lewis’ reference to Gethsemane is so true, even though Jesus’ prospects were infinitely worse than any we might face.

I love Lewis’ help #3 above, especially his analogy of a fort under siege. We must also remember that our loving God never allows misfortune lightly, but always for a redemptive purpose.

Very few of us will ever face the level of faultless heartache that C.S. Lewis faced. And even if we do, we know that Jesus suffered infinitely worse heartache, and physical torture than we ever will. At least be thankful for that.

Pitfalls

On Monday, June second, Our Daily Bread presented, “The Careful Walk,” in which Dave Branon built on Ephesians 5:15 to show that we must be careful where we step in life.

For Christians, this material world is enemy territory, ruled by the prince of the power of the air. We should be among the most circumspect of people, for as long as we walk in these mortal bodies we’re the enemy’s target. One of his best strategies is to use his darkness (lies) to confuse us; as he is the father of lies, he’s so good at it that he blinds even the most careful of Christ-followers occasionally.

The best defense against darkness is a great flashlight with batteries that never wear out. God was good enough to provide us with both a lamp for our feet and a light for our path, all in one.

Today’s warfare threatens us with land mines, IEDs, snipers, and biological weapons, but the first century threat was arrows and swords. That’s why Apostle Paul told us to don God’s whole armor, that we might stand against the devil’s schemes.

So we see three essential aspects of survival in our enemy’s territory: Carefully assemble and put on the armor God has provided, walk circumspectly, and don’t forget to use God’s inexhaustible flashlight when your next step seems a bit shadowy. Or use it anyway, as natural light is often not as good as it seems. Climbing out of life’s pits can be really hard.

Eye Test, or I Test?

Aren’t I Gorgeous!

So, would you prefer the “Eye” test, or the “I” test? But that’s a trick question; you’re scheduled for both. Don’t worry, though, if you fail it only hurts for eternity. I’ll give you a crib-sheet for both exams, and don’t worry about that; they’re both open-Book tests.

So here’s the complete skinny, the straight dope, the inside story:

First, the “Eye” test, and it starts in front of a mirror. What do you see? Is that mirror-image God’s gift to the human race, as in the photo above? Or do you see all the faults, both big and little? (Hint: Both extremes fail this question.)

Next, we move to the man/woman on the street portion. How do you see the people around you? Are you glad you’re not them? Or do you wish you were them? Do you feel satisfaction when they look to you with appreciation? Or do you wish you could hide? (Hint: Both extremes fail this question, too.)

Finally, we switch to the showroom, and the particular product on display doesn’t matter. Do you want that shiny, new Mercedes-Benz SL500, knowing your fine-running Rover will catch a good price? Is that Maytag laundry set just the cat’s pajamas, even though your old Whirlpool set still works well? Does your old Macintosh stereo wall-shaker seem a bit long-in-tooth when you catch sight of the new Manley Steelhead equipment? (Man, you deserve a Manley! And, “yes” answers fail this question.)

Now, for the “I” test, and it begins with the “Big I, little u” question. Do you require people to earn your approval before favoring them with your acceptance? That’s actually a trick question, because if you are the “Big I,” you won’t admit to treating people that way. In fact, you’re sure to think of at least a dozen others with that problem. (Hint: Each person you know to whom this applies counts against your score.)

The second half of that question is: Do you grudgingly defer to those in authority over you, deeply believing that if you were in charge, you wouldn’t make their stupid mistakes? Do you feel deference should flow only one way: toward you? (Hint: Please answer “no,” and mean it.)

And the third half(?) of the “I” test: Do you feel you actually deserve to always know the complete skinny, the straight dope, the inside story, of whatever you involve yourself with? (Hint: Do you want the straight dope? If yes, you failed this one, too!)

These tests are pass/fail, and they’re not graded on a curve. As I suggested above, you probably won’t know your excuses haven’t worked and you’ve failed the test, until you find yourself running the fifty-yard dash into the pit designed for the devil and his angels.

But, if you’re among the fortunate few who correct your spiritual vision in time to turn away from your self-centered perspective, the fifty-yard dash you run will be straight into your Savior’s arms. And don’t worry, you won’t knock him over.

Flip Wilson’s Geraldine

I’m not vain! I’m just gorgeous.

The line got laughs, but fact is, the devil didn’t make him/her do it.

You young’uns probably don’t know old Flip, so I’ll tell ya; Flip Wilson is the comedian who invented the iconic character named Geraldine, a young black lady whose escapades, if Flip had not been black, would have gotten him blackballed(no pun intended) by the civil rights community. Geraldine’s signature line was, “The Devil made me do it!”

Jesus, who might be considered the authority on the devil’s tricks and deceptions, said:

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”(Mark 7:21-23 ESV)

That pretty much eliminates all our excuses.

DUAL WITH EL DIABLO

I reckon most folks aren’t old enough to remember the 1966 James Garner and Sidney Portier movie titled Dual at Diablo. To spoil it completely for anyone who might go back to the archives to watch the movie, only a small handful survived the battle of Diablo Canyon, until the cavalry arrived to save the day.

Diablo means devil in Spanish, which is an interesting coincidence, considering each of us, whether we know it or not, are at war with el diablo. Each moment of our lives, el diablo stalks us like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Have you never seen the devil? Perhaps you just didn’t recognize him.
The devil is alive and well in the attitudes that place “Me First!” 


Like the valiant, fictional soldiers who died with arrows in heir backs, many—if not mostof us will die much as they did, attacked from the rear. Yes, the cavalry is on the way, but in the true story, it’s spelled Calvary. And the company of troopers who will save the day is just one man, but WHAT A MAN. He happens to be the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the eternal Word incarnate, and the self-existent, eternal God’s only Son, all rolled up into one Savior.

Only one problem: He, the only perfectly innocent One, had to die as a sinner to save a sinner. That would be me, and you.

Yes, of course we aren’t the only sinners in the world, but even if we were, it would have made no difference to the Savior. Being God, he knows you personally, from among all the people who have ever lived. In fact, he knows you so well, you can’t hide anything from him. Think of the most secret, darkest thoughts that have occasionally plagued you, or the one thing about yourself that no one knows. That’s right; it’s all clear as day to the Savior whose name means God Is Salvation. But as hard as it is to imagine, he loves you anyway. He loves you with a depth and breadth we humans can’t begin to conceive, because as the Bible says, God Is Love.

So quit fooling yourself. Though you may have all your weapons at the ready to fight the enemy of your soul, there is no way you can stop him. Your enemy is quieter than an Indian warrior. He is more stealthy than an assassin with a garrote. And if you think all this doesn’t apply to you, he already has you lulled into a complacency deeper than that of Rip Van Winkle.

 

If you decide to wake up–which is your choice–you’ll find that Jesus did all the hard work for you; all you have to do is appropriate(that’s, grab hold and never let go) the amazing salvation He offers. Come just as you are, sin and all. No sin is too big for His forgiveness. Even if you’re penniless you have the price of admission, and even if you’re wealthy you don’t have enough money to buy what He offers. Jesus said, I am the Door, and, I am the Way. He said nothing of a gate fee.

If you’re thinking, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” you are wise. Though the redemption He offers is free of charge, nowhere in His word did Jesus say it would cost nothing. When a wealthy man asked Jesus, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus gave him a brief rundown of the commandments, which the guy had followed since his youth. Then, though Jesus knew the young man was sincere, He also knew he was rich in worldly possessions. So Jesus challenged him beyond what he was willing to give. “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”(from Mark 10:17-23) The price was too steep, so the guy shuffled away, dejected.

Whether you’re rich or poor by the world’s standard, the salvation that Jesus bought for you with His life requires the same investment: Everything this world has to offer. Thing is, once your heart stops, somebody here on Earth will smile all the way to the bank with everything you own. And it won’t be you, ‘cause you’ll be d-e-a-d, like a doornail. And the fun you don’t want to give up? When you pass to the other side you will see it for what it is: stupid foolishness. You’ll be like the kid who spent his allowance on candy, and all he got that lasted was a bellyache and cavities.

So, back to Diablo Canyon. The few who lived were those who faced the enemy and were willing to give everything to live. If you want to survive your “Dual With el Diablo,” Give your life to Jesus, and Calvary will come to your rescue.