No Other Name?

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My Musings – There once was a time, at least in the Western world, that people almost universally accepted that Christianity was the only true path to God, whether they took that path or not.  Today, this is no longer universally accepted even within “Christian” circles.  Outside Christian circles this premise is becoming more and more contemptible.  These three “scenarios” (see below) are being played out like a shell game.  But it’s anything but a game.

You’re Okay, I’m Not Okay – Your path to God looks like the right path to me and I’m on the wrong path.

You’re Okay, I’m Okay – Your path to God might be okay for you, but that doesn’t make my path wrong.

You’re Not Okay, Saying I’m Not Okay – Your insistence that you are on the right path to God and I am on the wrong path is arrogant, intolerant and hateful.

The reality is: that Christianity has always been the only true path to God or it never was. The reality is: that other paths to God  have always existed or they do not exist now.  The reality is: if other paths to God exist, then Christianity is not one of them – because Christ said He was the only path (John 14:6).  The reality is: that it is up to us to decide what we believe (who we believe in).  Some would have you believe that the reality is that there is no wrong answer here.  The reality is: do you really want to bet your (eternal) life on it?

My Advice – Eternal security is not determined by the democratic process.  The majority view is only right if it is right, not because most people believe it is right (or not).  Stakes are too high to just go along with the crowd.  Being politically correct is an insufficient justification in the life to come, one must be absolutely correct.  You owe it to yourself to  investigate these “truth claims” very carefully, then to choose wisely.  The “pea” of truth is only under one of these shells.

The Elephant In The Room

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My Musings – “People primarily respond not to what we do but how we’re being.  It’s not that we do the wrong thing necessarily, but that we do what we do – maybe even if it is the ‘right’ thing – the wrong way.” (Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute).

My great fear for the Church today is that a lot of us spend a lot of time and energy “doing” Christianity, while failing to “be” Christ-like.  We pride ourselves with saying, supporting and doing the right things (the modern-day equivalent of a tenth of our mint, dill and cumin), but neglect to be those things (the all-time equivalent of, “justice, mercy and sacrifice“).  In the process, we are well on our way to alienating an entire generation from “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  Given the appropriate “salt and light” there are many who would love to “be” like Christ, but are afraid of “doing” like “Christians.”  But unfortunately, the “salt” in many of us leaves a bad taste, and the “light” shining from us artificial and not a true reflection of its Source.

My Advice – There is nothing wrong with saying, supporting and doing the right things.  But we must practice these without neglecting “justice, mercy and sacrifice.”  Otherwise, we are merely a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Distracting noise and “fake news” in a world searching for the truth.  Woe to us, the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.

Don’t just do, be.  People still might not acknowledge the truth, but what they are rejecting will be plain.

Except Through Me

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My Musings – A few days ago, (July 26, 2019) the title of my musing was “On the Side of Truth.”  In the blog, I wrote that the truth is verifiable, not fabricated.  There are two primary means of verification:  reliable evidence (something that furnishes proof) and reliable testimony (firsthand authentication).

In the verses above, Jesus makes the bold truth claim that He is not just a way to the Father (God) and to eternal life in Heaven, but that He is in truth (fact) the only way.  To know Him is to know the way.  Apart from His own word, what evidence and what testimony do we have that corroborates His claim?

Evidence – The Old Testament records 356 prophecies concerning the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled (see https://accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html for a complete list).  All recorded at least 400 years before Christ was born. Here are just three:

His Birth – These prophecies included specific details surrounding the circumstances and location of HIs birth, something He could not have possibly orchestrated.  One of the details even required the proclamation to a disinterest pagan emperor (Augustus Caesar – see Luke 2:1), to ensure that Jesus was born in the town of His ancestor King David (Bethlehem -see Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1-6) and not the town where His mother and step-father resided (Nazareth – see Luke 2:4).

His Triumphal Entry – Another prophecy (see Daniel 9:23-27), involving yet another proclamtion of a pagan emperor (Artaxerxes, King of Persia), predicted Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the original Palm Sunday.  A span of 483 separated the proclamation and its actual fulfilment to the exact date (Pentecost, J. D. (1985). Daniel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1363). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.).

His Death – The predicted mode of Jesus’ execution described crucifixion in very specific detail (see Psalm 22), despite being recorded an estimated 600 – 700 years before the first recorded executions by crucifixion by King Darius I of Persia ca. 519 B.C (see https://www.gotquestions.org/crucifixion.html.).

Evidence  – The Bible records over 500 eyewitness to post-resurrection appearances of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).  There is no evidence that the Jewish or Roman authorities responsible for Jesus death were ever able to discredit any of the witnesses testimony.  Many of eyewitnesses died horrible deaths as a result of their belief in a risen Savior. Yet if the face of martyrdom and persecution, there is no evidence that any of these witnesses ever recanted.

The New Testament is not the only source of testimony concerning the historicity of Jesus.  These include Jewish historian Josephus, Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius, Samaritan historian Thallus, governor of Bithynia Plinus Secundus, secular author Phlegon and Syrian philosopher Mara Bar-Serapion.  The Jewish Talmud also acknowledges the historicity of Jesus.  (see https://evidencetobelieve.net/history-of-jesus/).

My Advice – In “On the Side of Truth” I wrote that no matter what is being debated, there can only be one truth.  To me, there is more than a “preponderance (more likely than not)” of evidence and testimony that Jesus is the only way.  To me, it is beyond a reasonable doubt.  What about you?  What is the one truth to you?

 

On the Side of Truth

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My Musing – “What is truth?”  Truth has been defined as a proven or verified principle or statement (fact).  A fact is something that is known to be consistent with objective (not influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions) reality (the state of things as they actually exist).

What is truth?”  No matter what is being debated, there can only be one truth.  Unfortunately, it is often the case that those on both side of the debate are not really interested in the truth.  They are only interested in what they want the truth to be.  As a result, truth becomes an orphan.  Verification is replaced with fabrication.  Objectivity with opinion.  Reality with fiction.

What is truth?”  I am saddened that truth has become so inconvenient to so many.  I am saddened that lies and opinions (on both sides of whatever the topic happens to be) are driving so many people so far apart.  I am saddened that more and more people can no longer agreeably disagree.  I am saddened that we are increasingly being defined by what divides us rather than what unites us.  I am saddened that “wherever the truth leads” is so distasteful to so many.  I am saddened that what used to be a debate between what is true and what is not true has been largely replaced by a debate between “my” truth and “your” truth, when in reality neither are true.

My Advice – Keep seeking the truth “wherever it takes you.” When you discover the truth, embrace it.  Even if it turns out to be what you do not want it to be.  Finally, be nice.

Be That Voice

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My Musings – Leadership is not measured by the number of people that report to you. It is measured by the number of people that follow you. People may report to a title on a business card, but they follow a leader. People have to follow the boss. They want to follow a leader. So what makes a person want to follow, as opposed to having to report?

It is a responsibility that hinges almost entirely on character.  Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.  Leadership comes from telling us not what we want to hear, but rather what we need to hear.  To be a true leader, to engender deep trust and loyalty, starts with telling the truth.  (From “Leaders Eat Last,” by Simon Sinek).

My Advice – People will follow and be loyal to those they trust.  People will trust those who show integrity, honesty and accountability.   These are shown by being truthful, telling people what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not.  The “voice” of truth is the “voice” of trust.  People will “listen to” (follow) a “voice” like that.  Be that “voice.”

A Mind Full

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My Musings – Carl Sagan wrote, “There is nothing unusual about the earth. It’s an average, unassuming rock that’s spinning mindlessly around an unremarkable star in a run-of-the-mill galaxy – ‘a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.'”  Yet on this “unassuming rock” in this “great enveloping cosmic dark” God placed the crown-jewel of His creation – Man.  We know (Carl Sagan notwithstanding) this, because of all His creation only man was made in His image.

All of the other “work[s] of [His] fingers” are beyond our comprehension, because our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite.  And yet “these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14, NIV 1984).  Who indeed?  Incomprehensible to us, yet still “how faint the whisper we hear of Him!”  The infinite is still merely the “outer fringe of His works.”  Try and wrap your head around that!

Which brings us back to the Psalm above, which is attributed to King David.  In the midst of all that has just been so inadequately described, “what is man that [He] is mindful (Attentive; regarding with care; bearing in mind; heedful; observant) of Him?”  That my friend, is a mind full indeed!

My Advice – “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12, NIV 1984).

Every Knee and Every Tongue

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1 Kings 18:39The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God! (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The context of this verse is the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.  Having seen the utter failure of a non-existent god, and the awesome display of God’s mighty power, the people could do nothing but exclaim “The Lord – He is God!

Today, people worship all kinds of “gods,” fame, fortune, pleasure, and science, for example, not to mention a plethora of false religions all claiming that they are the true or an alternative path to God.  Then there are those who claim that there is no God at all.

That’s today.  A time is coming, perhaps very soon, when this will change and “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10–11, NIV 1984).

My Advice – For those who have confessed Jesus Christ is Lord beforehand, this will be praise indeed.  For those who have not, it will be too late.  Why not now? “The Lord – He is God!”