His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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How Elusive the Truth

It can be staring me right in the face, and I’ll still miss it. It’s only after I find it, that I realize how obvious it was all along (duh).

I’ll give you an example from my engineering career. We were having lots of test failures, and I was in charge of finding the cause. With a pre-conceived notion in my head, I went in search of some complex root cause, pouring through all the data I could find. After a couple of days of fruitless labor, my boss came out to the production floor, surveyed the lay of the land for only a couple of minutes, pointed to some circuit boards resting in a holding tray, and dryly declared, “There’s your problem.”

And he was right! Boy did I feel dumb. The truth behind all the failures had been literally staring me in the face for over two days, and I never saw it. I had been looking for some complex problem, yet the truth was that the root cause was oh so simple. I wanted to show my engineering prowess and let people know how smart I was, but the truth didn’t require an engineering degree.

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Here’s another example (this one I think I got right):

I look at the data that surrounds me everyday: flowers, a blade of grass, a bird gliding across the breeze, the air I breath in that keeps me alive, the food I eat that somehow is converted to energy, the huge variety of animals that abound the earth, the human brain that defies explanation, the vastness of the universe and all that is in it, and my list goes on and on.

I marvel at all this data. It baffles and amazes me. And it tells me a truth; for me the truth is that none of this data just happened by chance. There is an intelligence behind all that makes up our existence. The truth is God.

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So, why? Why is it that the truth so often eludes us, yet it may be right in front of us? Why is it we have eyes, yet sometimes cannot see? Why is it we have brains, yet sometimes it seems we do not think? Why is it that sometimes I do not trade in my pre-conceived notions for reality? Why do so many of us ignore the data and instead go with our personal preference?

The answer I offer you today may not be easy to swallow, because it goes against our human nature. The answer is pride. Pride keeps us from going with the easy answer, when our ego is better boosted by the complex answer. Pride keeps us from admitting we are wrong. Pride keeps us from accepting that there is a being more powerful than we are. Pride keeps us in a prison of delusion.

Look at your own life. What has pride and ego done for you lately? Does it make your life easier, or perhaps more stressful, like when things don’t go your way? Open your eyes, try to consider the data again, and decide what you think the truth is. I sure hope you’re right.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)


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Religion – the Root of all Evil?

“The time has come for people of reason to say: enough is enough. Religious faith discourages independent thought, it’s divisive, and it’s dangerous.” Richard Dawkins made this statement in his 2-part documentary entitled, “The Root of All Evil?”

Apply the power of Google if you want to find out more about Dawkins and his documentary. My intent here is to look further into the question about what is the root of all evil. Is it religion, as Dawkins professes, or something else?

It’s actually quit simple to disprove Dawkins. Just look at the amount of evil conducted NOT in the name of religion. The murderer who knows nothing of God or religion – just one such example breaks down Dawkins’ assertions.

Yet history is indeed full of evil conducted in the name of some religion. It’s happening all around us, everyday. So what does all evil have in common; both religiously motivated evil, and evil of other motivations?

Are you ready? The root of evil is not religion, or secularism, or even money. The root of all evil is pride.

What motivates the parent to abuse their child? A need to exert power, to exercise authority, to appear in control, ego, selfishness… pride. What motivates the dictator to murder his own people? The answer’s the same.

Why does the religious extremist set off a car bomb in a crowded marketplace? Because they are not willing to allow others to be different from them – agree with them or die. I’ve greatly simplified the issue here, for the sake of brevity. But it all boils down to selfish pride; if you don’t agree with me, you must be WRONG. The only difference between the extremists and most of the rest of us is that they assign a much more severe punishment for being “wrong”.

I could go through an exhaustive list of more examples, but I would rather invite you to come up with your own examples of evil acts. Look at each act and find the motivation. If you dig deep enough, in the bottom of that pit of evil you will find pride.

But to give Dawkins another chance, maybe religion is the root of pride? That could be possible. Using my religion of choice, let’s see what God and Jesus have to say about pride:

“To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” (Proverbs 8:13)

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10)

“The Lord detests all the proud of heart.” (Proverbs 16:5)

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16)

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

Dawkins believes getting rid of religion will get rid of evil. What do you believe? Be careful not to let pride, selfishness, or arrogance motivate your answer.


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Your Choice – Sexuality or the Bible

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), bitterly divided over sexuality and the Bible, set up another confrontation Friday over its ban on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians.” So reads the opening statement of a recent AP article about the outcome of last weeks Presbyterian General Assembly meeting.

“… bitterly divided over sexuality and the Bible…” I believe that about sums up the issue that plagues not only the Presbyterian Church, but many others. I realize this quote is from the author of the article and not a church leader, yet perhaps it accurately reflects reality within the church. And what a harsh reality it is; our church leaders are divided over following the Bible or opinions about sexuality.

I must say, I’m feeling rather frustrated about his whole issue. Maybe it’s just my mood today. The more I look at examples of how various churches are not following the truth of Jesus Christ, the more depressed I feel about humanity. Our arrogance is overwhelming; constantly putting our own personal opinions above the commands of God. Sorry, just feeling the need to vent a bit.

Normally at this point, I would ask what Jesus might have to say. Yet I believe I’ve already captured His opinion in other posts, about another sexually charged issue within the Presbyterian Church (see “Getting Back to Jesus“). However, please forgive me; I’m going to continue to vent as I draw from more pieces of the AP article…

“My biggest concern is, ‘How does the church move forward?'” said the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the General Assembly. “There’s great disappointment in some folks and great joy in others, but it really does go back to how do we as a church model for the world a way to live together amid great diversity of opinion?”

Jesus gave the answer to Mr. Reyes-Chow’s question, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35) This is how you model the way to live together. Minimize personal opinions and maximize love.

“‘This week the General Assembly voted from faith rather than fear,’ Lisa Larges, minister coordinator of the advocacy group That All May Freely Serve, said in a statement. ‘They voted for a vibrant future of our church …'”

How about casting a vote for obedience to God? True faith expresses itself in obedience, not in letting go of God’s word and following personal opinion.

“Paul Detterman, executive director of Louisville, Ky.-based Presbyterians for Renewal, which opposes changing the ordination standards, said the debate is not about homosexuality but following the Bible.”

AMEN!!!! Thank you Paul.

One final vote for God’s side, from a letter on the pcusa website:

“The assembly left unchanged the definition of marriage found in the Directory for Worship (W-4.9000) – ‘a civil contract between a woman and a man.'” Wow, a small victory for God. The Presbyterian Church has decided to not (yet) change His definition of marriage.