Can Truth Be Twisted?

No. Truth is absolute. The “true truth,” as Francis Schaefer, calls it is unchanging. One might say that truth is narrow-minded and pigheaded. Any corruption to the truth, if that were possible, makes it false. In other words, that which is really the truth cannot be pliable, flexible or even be forced to alter its nature or state. Truth is unbreakable and more solid than any metal or material known to man. Truth cannot ever change. Truth corresponds to the facts. 

The so-called “relative truth” is unstable, unreliable, inconsistent, and plainly false. With respect to relative truth, in one moment it says one thing and then changes in another moment. In which state is it the truth? Whenever someone talks of bending and twisting the truth, they are in fact talking about changing or replacing the properties of that which they know as the truth. In other words, it is not the truth people are twisting but it is their perception, their understanding and or their rendering of the assumed perfect-reality-state they view as the truth.  

We know an object to be true by its specific properties. If it is the truth, such properties cannot and do not change; otherwise it is temporary, transient and consist of “untrustworthy qualities.” Truth stays the same; otherwise it is undependable. Once the properties have changed then the object as we first knew it is no longer what we claimed it to be nor said it was as a truth-claimed in the first place. 

What we do in twisting is to use synergy in creating or making a new object of new or different properties from the first. This we also do with ideas or information. Therefore, the first or prior object-state or fixed meaning where ideas or information is concerned, no longer exists.  

But more specifically or exactly, it is our current perception of it that differs from our previous. For if the object-state were really true, it will continue to be so—the same object-state—regardless of time change. An essential property of the truth is permanence. It is no wonder the Bible says that Jesus is “the truth,” (John 14:6). He will not, cannot, and never change. He, Jesus “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forevermore,” (Hebrews 13:8).

Not Only Your Heart

Dr Norman Geisler says, “while God does want to reach our hearts, He does not bypass our minds in the process.”[1] According to the Bible, God says, “My son, give me your heart,” (Proverbs 23:6). But God also says, “Come let us reason together,” (Isaiah 1:18). Therefore, the view that Christians must have blind faith is unbiblical and false. Both unbelievers and especially believers must know that God wants us to worship and love Him with our hearts and minds (Matthew 22:37).

In fact, the apostle Peter encourages us to, “always give reasons for[our] hope,” (1 Peter 3:15). So when we talk of salvation, everlasting life, heaven, and the work of Jesus Christ, we must be ready and able to “knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We [must] destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God,” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

So as we conduct our daily affairs, as we live in constant worship and overcome temptations of all kinds, we must reason, think, and be busy developing and responding critically in our understanding. These intellectual activities empower us all. They provide us with the foundations upon which we need to ground our beliefs.

Scripture tells us, to “examine everything carefully and holdfast to the good,” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This good is pure, permanent and the truth. These truths are the claims of Christianity. John says, “the truth sets us free,” (John 8:32). When we know the truth, we are no longer captives of sin and deceit. We gain clarity with truth and embrace knowledge with a clean conscience and confidence. There is no longer any doubt in us. This is the kind of heart God wants. But He challenges us to test everything, even spirits (1 John 4:1).

It is important to remember that from Genesis 2:7, God created man from dust and breathed into that dust so that man became a living soul. Thus man is not a dual being but became a “living soul.” This is a complete entity comprising mind, body and heart. So when Moses said: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 10:12), Moses meant to love God with our hearts as well as our minds.


[1] Norman L. Geisler, Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True, NGIM, Indian Trail, North Carolina, © 2016, pp. 2.

Know How To Stop

This isn’t about bringing a vehicle to rest; but it’s about control. More specifically, self-control. The clear implication here is that with the absence of self-control, we end up doing wrong things—making wrong decisions and choices. Most of us think we have self-control. We even boldly make such a claim. Are you one of those persons? But when we look in the mirror with honesty and ask ourselves, “Is there anything we do in excess? Aren’t there things we do or actions we take that we know we shouldn’t, and we just wouldn’t stop?” Finally, “do we really have self-control?” “Why haven’t we stopped what we know we should and keep procrastinating to do?”

Self-control is so important that the apostle Paul writes, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16, NKJV). Most of us in privacy and even when asked by another would say, “Yes. We do have self-control.” Surely now that can’t be true. Our relationships of all types in the world bear that out. It’s the absence of self-control why we have laws, the police, the justice system, counselling, arbitration, disputes, quarrels, and more. Due to the absence of self-control we are overweight, we attract diseases, lose money in gambling, become victims of all kinds of addictions, we are guilty of abusing ourselves and others.

The absence of self-control is evident of the works of the flesh. Paul mentions such evidence as: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, reveries, and the like,” (Galatians 5:19-21).

How do we develop self-control? We simply need to “walk in the Spirit.” To do so, we must “live in the Spirit” (5:25). When we become believers in Christ, the Spirit indwells us immediately—we are reborn just by our believing in the lordship of Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:3). God works miracles through us (5:5). Self-control, a Christlike behavior and quality, is one of the fruits and benefits of the very Spirit that indwells us (5:23). By this pure quality, Christlike self-control, we can stop all that is lawless that we need to stop.

 

Cultivate God-confidence

The Bible says, “Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence,” (1 Cor 10:12, MESS). Does this mean it is ok to be negative and walk about with a “can’t-do spirit?” Of course not. In the context of where this Paul is speaking, he is telling us to "trust God" rather than our "selves." This Scripture is telling us to ultimately remember that it is through God in Christ we can accomplish any task and overcome any challenge before us.

The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” (Phil 4:13). So this means we must first have self-confidence, we must first have the conviction and feel the assurance that God’s word is the truth (John 17:17). Next we must take stock of ourselves as believers and realize who we are--God’s sons and daughters (2 Cor 6:18). This means we have entitlements, inheritance. For he is our Father. Scripture says, “In him we have obtained an inheritance,” (Eph 1:11, ESV).

So once we depend on Christ and have him as our foundation; once we remember that his spirit inhabits us (Gal 3:3) and through that spirit we do miracles and more (Gal 3:5); once we remember that all we need do is to ask him in Jesus name for all that we need and he will give it to us (John 14:14), this is how we cultivate God-confidence. The Bible says, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ," (Phil 4:19). Further Jesus himself says, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” (Luke 1:37).

Sicknesses Rampant Worldwide

We have accepted human’s imperfection as a universal truth. Truth not in the sense that imperfection is supposed to be the natural and full state of the human being; but truth in the sense that it is true we all in reality are normally and merely imperfect. No one denies this.

The human being was not created to be imperfect. Contrary to our reality of existence, we were first created perfect. We ought to be perfect. After all, Scripture says we were created in “God’s image,” (Gen 1:27). After God’s review of His creations, He declared that “all were very good,” (Gen 1:31). Good by God’s standards is perfect, for He is perfect.

Then something bad happened. A wrong choice was made. We know that humans today are imperfect due to the inheritance of a corrupted version of our humanness. This was caused by the Adamic sin (Rom 5:12). The Bible says decidedly, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death,” (Rom 5:12, MESS).

This is how humanity, you and I, have ended up in a world where sicknesses are rampant worldwide. “Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God,” (Rom 5:14, MESS).

This same Scripture that identified the problem “why sicknesses are rampant worldwide,” that is through the ‘inherited sin syndrome;’ suggested the solution when it says, “Adam is the type of Him who was to come,” (Rom 5:14, NASB). More clearly another Scripture says, “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive,” (1 Cor 15:22, NASB). So there is no need to worry about “Rampant Sicknesses Worldwide.”

Persecution Today Is Real

I saw a very disturbing video a moment ago of how they persecuted some Christians in one African country. I do not know the country nor the background of the persecutors. But they kicked four old Christians, put them in a hole they dug for the public to see, and threw burning bush on them. The persecutors (young men) jumped into the hole on the victims at the beginning of the fire and when one Christian tried to come out they kicked her in her face back in. The public looked on and did nothing. No police was present.

Paul says, “my persecutions, and the sufferings that came upon me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:11-12).

In our so-called modern world there are still all kinds of persecutions. Not only of those with a religious lifestyle, but of those with lifestyles different from the majority of the public. Can we not agree to be disagreeable? If we respect the view of another that differs from our own, we are exercising our right and freedom to have our own opinion while we allow the other to live out their rights freely.

This is a truth that should be instilled in the hearts and minds of all. A recent news showed where three young men, without provocation of the victim who was autistic, they bullied him and beat and kicked him. The behavior of the person challenged with autism is not what many are accustomed too, this is why this month of April many countries celebrates and have programs on Autism Awareness. The 2nd April was declared by the United Nations, The World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). Activities are planned in many countries every year “to further increase and develop world knowledge of children and adults who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).”

But if the general and Christlike truth is known and taught and put into our hearts, minds and spirits that we must love all people regardless of differences in culture, creed, education background, and lifestyle, then we will be moving closer toward closing the gaps in reducing senseless and wicked persecutions. The Bible says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” (Titus 2:11-12, NIV).

Luck or Prayer

Do you rely on luck or prayer? I was rushing to the hospital to get to my pre-screening surgery appointment on time. I sat in the traffic pondering and reviewing my anxiety. Why worry I thought? Why the rush? Why the anxiety?

Scriptures says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God,” (Philippians 4:6). The more I contemplate Scripture, the more I relaxed. Why? My faith is based on the fact that Jesus is alive and he is always advocating for me (1 John 2:1).

I am a Christian partly because I know that more than 500 persons had seen Jesus after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6). Even unbelieving historians wrote of his crucifixion and death. The Bible, archaeologically proven to be a sound document, says Jesus’ Holy Spirit mediates for me in my prayer (Romans 8:26).

All I need to do is to ask for anything in his name (that is, in the name of Jesus) and he will answer me (John 14:14). A sinner like me can always go to him sincerely in repentance seeking forgiveness and he will grant it to me (1 John 1:9). Through him, in the grace of God, I have the gift of salvation and eternal life (John 3:16).

So in the traffic I had hope. I relaxed. The outcomes to my pre-screening and surgery will not be based on luck, which is prosperity through chance according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Whatever they may be, I have hope in Jesus Christ as he’s the healer (Psalms 103:3) and is in charge of all circumstances. He says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” (Matthew 28:18).

 

Implication of the Power to Choose

Because we can think and reason, because we can be rational, this means we have free will. The ability to exercise our free will means we are capable of discernment and doing logical and critical analyses and decision making. This means we have the ability to ascend to greater heights. For our understanding can deepen, our view of the world can be broadened. We can contemplate and meditate.

In the Genesis story, God granted Adam and Eve the freedom to choose and they exploited it. He told them that they were free to eat of all the fruit trees except a specific one he identified (Genesis 2:16-17).

What a grand opportunity! The world, the garden was theirs for their complete enjoyment. But with free will, humanity is ever nagged by its curiosity instinct to exploit other options.

Adam and Eve had instructions from the all-powerful, all-wise, Sovereign of the Universe. Yet Eve listened to another perspective and interpretation to what she had heard, and thought it to be the truth—the better option from lesser authority.

She was convinced and chose to believe the other interpretation—which Satan gave. She shared her excitement about the new or fresh interpretation with her life partner so empoweringly and persuasively that the partner Adam agreed with her fresh view.

Here is the question we need to ask as we review what happened: "Was the new perspective that Satan presented to Eve wrong?" Satan says (1) God knows; (2) her eyes will be opened; (3) she will be like God; and (4) she will know both good and evil. That is what it says, isn't it? See Genesis 3:5.

Now why would a perfectly just, all-wise, and all-loving God curse humanity for freely following the new perspective when later we note a Scripture says, “God our Saviour ... wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)? The answer to this question we know it was disobedience that God punished. In summary, “Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey and you will be cursed,” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

 

Good Pain Bad Pain

No one likes pain unless she’s a masochist or mentally ill. But I am talking about normal people—I am assuming we still have some standards we can consider somewhat universal. So the average person does not like pain. The existence of painkillers which doctors prescribe is a sure indicator that most of us prefer not to have it and doctors who are scientists agree.

But these same doctors, while they practice their medicine to get us well or healed, would often, if not always ask us (the patients), “where do you feel pain or discomfort?”

And why would they do so? Common understanding is that pain indicates something is wrong. Since it was not there before, then it means that something went wrong. As a result, we have the view that pain can be seen as positive in this sense—it tells us when we are to fix something and at times, which specific thing needs fixing.

Sometimes we do not even know what health problem we have, or that one existed in us, until pain begins giving out signals. This is indeed good pain—we may not like it at all for the misery, not mere discomfort, we experience. But no one will argue that the existence of the pain is helpful when something goes wrong.

But without signals as with these types of pain, there can be no effective preparations to save lives; to stop or prevent disasters, to avoid property damages or at least minimize, the level or size of destructiveness.

Can you imagine, if we do not feel pain and we have a tact or piece of glass or sharp object stuck in our bodies? We would be bleeding continuously and not know it. It may even be detrimental and we would be unaware that our lives are at risk. So we do need to have this pain and to feel it. But there are other times, we violate laws of nature or of good relationships and we bring emotional and other pain in our lives. Bad pain. This kind of pain we must do our very best to avoid. No one wants it. But Jesus says, we will have tribulations or problems in our lives, as we cannot stop it. But when we do have it, seek him and we can find peace (John 16:33).

Don’t Let Oppositions Hold You Back?

When good ideas are fired up in you, don’t let oppositions hold you back. First we are imperfect and we do wrong naturally. As a result, the easy way out of a good idea or dream, is to think negatively saying, “I don’t have enough resources so what’s the use pursuing my dreams, my good idea?” So before we try or when we are at the start of our efforts we give up, we fail.

If you are guilty of this like most of us, read on about one who was a servant and who came face to face with a grand idea for which he needed massive and national resources. That can be overwhelming.

But Nehemiah was totally absorbed and passionate about the idea-matter that he “sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; fasting and praying before the God of heaven,” (Nev 1:4, NKJV).

He could not hide the intensity of his absorption with the problem that consumed him. Others saw it and knew he was not ill so it must have been something burning in his heart. This is what the king he served said (Neh 2:1).

Nehemiah thought, sought and prayed for a resolution with the same intensity; and before going to human authority to seek a way forward and out, he asked God. His request was granted by the king (Neh 2:4-5). Even the grand resources he needed were provided. This assured him that the hand of God was at work. God placed the desire in his heart, he felt (Neh 2:12).

Surely enough, he was faced with oppositions—false allegations that’s he’s a rebel, jeering and laughter, along with  those who despised him (Neh 2:19). Nehemiah ignored his opponents’ accusations and he asserted that God was involved in what he was doing. His motives were to submit to God. So he unwaveringly pursued his goal.

No matter what we are doing, once we are sure our motives are godly and constructive to our fellow men and women, we should move ahead in confidence and toward successful completion. We must not allow any opposition to slow or stop us.

The Burden of Truth

The word burden normally alludes to weight, load or responsibility. The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiage Dictionary defines it as, “something that is carried; duty or responsibility. Something oppressive or worrisome.” The dictionary continues to say, “’The burden of proof’ is the duty of proving a disputed assertion or charge.” What then is the “Burden of Truth?”

The word “burden” in the Pocket Dictionary of Canadian Law by Daphne A. Dukelow means “the duty to perform an obligation.” (Thomson Carswell, On, Canada, © 2006, pp 58). And the word truth explains, Dr Norman L. Geisler, ‘is fact that corresponds to reality, it is noncontradictory, absolute, inescapable, unchanging, and discovered’ (Unshakable Foundations, Bethanyhouse, MN, USA, © 2001, pp. 52).

The claim by anyone that a view, opinion or situation is the truth, then requires that the person show that their declared truth has such qualities as noncontradictory, unchanging, discovered not created, absolute, corresponds to reality, and to deny its existence is to affirm that it is.

Truth concerns us all. Not only in the courts of law where it is formally argued, but in our daily interactions with one another in homes, in businesses and in the public places. We compromise for peaceful co-existence, we let others freely exercise their views and impressions on the grounds of free speech, we promote tolerance of the differences in the practice of religions laying out our path and methods of worshipping our personal view of God, and today we conclude that all truths are equal for this is fair, peaceful and respectful. Therefore we say it is the right approach to adopt.

But is this compromise we practice in our living, really the correct way of the truth? This question put all views on the same issues in one pot. Now we need to review our conclusions in our compromise where we state that, in fairness, all views and truth claims are equally valid. But we soon realize, in all honesty, that this conclusion must be false logically. For many of the views oppose each other on the same, single issue. What then must we do?

The answer lies with the burden of truth. That is to say that the claim meeting or having all the properties of truth, must prevail. There can only be one. Truth cannot be compromised nor should tolerance be used for peace’ sake and permit that which is false. Eventually the so-called peaceful co-existence will fail. Which way do we instruct our children to go and choose? Which do we stand up for and say is right when views are competing and are opposite?

No matter how reasonable we may think we are, truth must be one. It is exclusive. There cannot be two or more truths regarding the same fact or incident; but there can be two or more versions of the said fact or incident. We often confuse personal or group versions with the truth. With personal, self-importance is very high; with group, there is the wrong tendency to feel that the popularity of a thing is proof that it is true—the majority rules. This view is false. For the world, the crowd, the culture can be wrong.

Truth must be logical. For as reasonable as we may want to be and no matter how much we may think that compromise is suitable for peaceful co-existence, truth must be absolute and unchanging. Its burden is as follows:- (1) it must not violate the basic laws of logic; (2) it must not be dependent upon any times, places, or conditions; (3) it must exist independently of our minds for we do not create it; (4) it must have agreement of the mind with the reality; (5) if denied, its existence is affirmed; and (6) it must be a firm standard by which truth claims are measured. (Norman Geisler, pp 52).

Sowing and Reaping

We may argue as much as we like against truth that is absolute. We may join with the world promoting the view that 'truth must be relative,' if we are to respect other people. But can we deny and argue against our own realities? Sure we can. For it is like seeing and stating we do not see. Yet when we do so, we lie to ourselves and others.

Scriptures says, “And those who sow trouble harvest it,” (Job 4:8, NASB). Shall we deny the universality of this life reality? For even nature testifies to the truth that there is harvesting after we sow. Gardeners look forward to this reality, less they do not eat. This is a law they know centuries old which has never and cannot err. If it does we suffer.

No matter the country, class or creed the law of sowing and reaping, an action followed by a related reaction, never errs. It is a truth that no religion nor country can patent. It is timeless. It has been here before you and I. It neither discriminates nor shows preference. No amount of bribery may sway it to this side or that.

It’s judgement is impartial and just. Science knows about it and so too does history, and archaeology. Yet no one can say when exactly it came to be and when exactly it may cease to exist or lose its power. We can only guess it’s end, if it has one, by the laws of thermodynamics.

Things are coming to an end--at least usable energy. But being transformed does not mean becoming non-existent. The energy is still there, though we may not recognize it; just like the reality of this truth. It's law, it's absolute and not relative. In "sowing and reaping," the law of causality is fulfilled.

What Underlies Diversity

Issues regarding diversity seem to have captured the news media over the recent times. We see front and centre meetings convened at top levels of organisations and governments about what has been now popularly known as LGBT* rights. The core of this is the ugliness and evil when systematic discrimination is met out to LGBT community members by some laws, policies, practices, and violence. But racial minorities for years have been targets as well. Such persons of African, Indian and other descents as well as persons of various religious beliefs have been targets of discrimination evil for years.

For centuries, minorities of every kind have been targets of evil from those persons in the mainstream. So the issues and challenges faced by the LGBT community in principle and reality are no different. These problems faced by the LGBT community members are not new at all. Our societies have from the beginning of time been diseased by evil discriminations of all kinds. These discriminations lead to unfair and partial practices at all levels in organisations, governments, and societies.

The core issue is respect. If we have no respect, we will not treat others fairly; if we have no respect, we will not impartially make judgements in hiring, firing, promoting, and in our general dealings with others. Respect is to unbiasedly recognize the differences of others and give each person equal weights or ratings from the start. Respect is to declare in our thinking and actions that others have equal rights and freedoms as ourselves and to acknowledge the values they ascribe to their views, thinking, choices, and orientations.

It matters not if we disagree with their views and lifestyles, we must let God be the judge and treat others with the love that God treats us all. He gave His One and only Son Jesus to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). What is more, the Bible says, we were all ‘enemies of God before we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior’ (Romans 5:10). So this God of love (1 John 4:7-9) is impartial (Romans 2:11). We need to follow His example (Ephesians 5:1, NIV).

* LGBT or GLBT is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

Everyone Pays

The cry for justice is universal. The cry is deep seated in our hearts for the existence of a fair Universal and Almighty God. This cry comes especially from the oppressed, the captive, the disadvantaged, the bullied, and the abused. Their hope and comfort is in the law of compensation or in some universal understanding of a law guarantees fairness of accountability and blame. No evil goes unpunished, no good goes without reward.

The Bible says we will be judged for our good or evil deeds (Rom 2:6-8). Just as death does not cheat us of the blessings we should be rewarded with and those we were promised by grace; so too, death does not allow the wicked to escape punishment. Scripture says, “the wicked will not go unpunished,” (Prov. 11:21).

Jeremiah asked God, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? “Why do all the faithless live at ease?” (Jer 12:1). Divine discipline is inevitable. God told Jeremiah not to pray for the wicked. God “will remember their wickedness and punish their sins,” (Jer 14:10-12). The psalmist says, “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked,” (Psalm 73:3). But God says that ‘The prosperity of the wicked will not last. Their wealth will have no value in the next life’ (Psalm 73:15-17).

Today let the righteous know God is good, faithful, fair, and eternal. All will be held accountable for their deeds--good or bad. None shall escape. Whether the righteous or unrighteous an individual, group, culture, religion, creed, country, class, race, gender, or community--none will escape. The law of compensation is universal and cannot change nor discriminate.

Godly But Not God’s Will

Can we take actions that are godly but in which God isn’t pleased? Yes. Adam and Eve had done so. In their actions the sin of pride hid itself. We sometimes don't easily see our sins. And very often as believers and ministers the enemy fools us. But God wants us to know good and evil but for us to choose good.

Now this is why we need the wisdom of Christ and the empowerment of his Holy Spirit. Paul tells us the battle is all against spiritual wickedness in high places. We need the armour of God to which we have easy access as believers through Jesus Christ. We can’t overcome the devil with our own strength. Look how the apostle Peter and the other disciples, without the Spirit, handled the arrest of Jesus Christ--though he repeatedly told them what will happen. They hid in fear and we know even Peter on three occasions publicly denied that he knew Christ.

But once he had the Spirit of Christ he wasn’t afraid at all. This Spirit came upon him at Pentecost. Peter was the one who stood up boldly saying to people and defending the speaking of tongues when the Spirit came upon them like a gushing wind. He was brave, bold, confident and unafraid to speak on behalf of Christ and the gospel.

Jesus had to tell his mother at the wedding of Cana that it wasn’t yet his time, though he later performed his first miracle there. Often the Bible records how he disappeared from the crowd at some points of danger to his life. Was he afraid? Of course not. He still had much to do according to prophecies and the will of the father. Notice that just before he died on the cross he said "it is finished."

Scripture explained that he uttered these words as he knew that he had fulfilled all the prophesies he was called to do and that he did all that he was commanded to do by God the father. So timing was important for we notice too that he didn’t run from the incoming soldiers who came to arrest him. That was the time for that to happen. So here Jesus demonstrated that obedience to God is better than life itself--he showed the importance of staying in the will of God even to the point of death--even death on the cross.

Normally, and that is what King Saul knew, in Old Testament times, sacrifice and animal burnt offerings were made to The Lord. So when Saul had conquered the Amalekites under Gods commands, he kept back some of the best animals in spite of God's commands and told Samuel when challenged for doing so, why he didn’t kill all the animals. Samuel made a point in telling Saul that God prefers obedience to sacrifices.

So the point here again can be seen that though Saul had done what would have been normally considered a righteous and holy act, it wasn’t what God desired at that time--it wasn’t in accord to his will and purposes at that time. So it was godly but not God’s will.

We make this mistake even in our secular lives. The best guideline is that we must keep in sync with God's purposes. I think the most classical example on this point is the action of Adam and Eve. God punished them as they violated his command. He specifically told them not to eat of the tree of good and evil. They disobeyed him and now humanity is in the mess in which it is today. But throughout the Bible God encourages us to know good and evil but to choose good. In our choices today, choose Christ as Lord and Saviour (John 14:6).

Be Better

As I entered the subway car in North York, Ontario, Canada, I saw an elderly lady with a cream handbag and on it marked in red "Be Better." I smiled immediately. As the underground train-ride in the subway car continued, I kept thinking about “Be Better.” That is a wonderful and positive declaration. People should always seek to "Be Better," I thought.

We should try to be better always in body, mind, soul, and life circumstances. But another thought came to me: "How can we be better when Jesus says only God is good?" And “better” is an improvement of “good.” The natural question that followed was: "In what sense should we understand this “good” of which Jesus speaks and the “better” everyone should seek after to be?"

We must re-visit in Scripture where Jesus said that "no one is good except God alone” and find out what Jesus meant by that 'good.' We read the following in Scripture regarding a rich young ruler who questioned Jesus about how we can inherit and have eternal life. The Bible says, “A ruler questioned [Jesus], saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone,” (Luke 18:18-19, NASB).

Now this man rightly called Jesus “good,” for Jesus is God. But in the Scripture is it clear that the man did not know who Jesus was. No wonder Jesus asked him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” The Psalmist says, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you,” (Psalm 16:2, ESV). Not only is God good; He does good. Here the Psalmist links them: “You are good and do good,” (Psalm 119:68, ESV). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are good; do good; and create good.

Now God’s people are not good in themselves but become capable of doing good through the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit and the presence of God in their lives through Jesus Christ. We are born sinful (Psalm 51:5); and we are all sinful by nature (Romans 3:23). But if we are “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18), we will have in us “the fruit of the Spirit” such as “goodness” (Galations 5:22). And through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13) who is good we can do good things. We must “not grow weary of doing good,” (Galatians 6:9).

With respect to doing and being better, the prophet Samuel emphasized to King Saul that “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.,” (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV). For sincerity and obedience were the prerequisite for worship that pleased God. To “Be Better” is more than merely doing more or doing greater sophisticated things.

One NIV Bible reference explains: “Was Samuel saying that sacrifice is unimportant? No. He was urging Saul to look at his reasons for making the sacrifice rather than at the sacrifice itself. A sacrifice was a ritual transaction between man and God that physically demonstrated a relationship between them. Religious ceremonies are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. ‘Being religious’ (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity, and tithing) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.

In being better, we must seek an increased holiness by constancy or intimacy with God by regularly praying and doing godly actions. This then is the obedience level Christ desires of us. Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands,” (John 14:15). Being better physically is in the performance of regular exercises to maintain and improve health. It is wise to “Be Better” since every work of man will be brought into judgement, even every secret thing, whether it be good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Too Busy To Pray?

The apostle Paul says, “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But does he mean that we must pray all the time? Not at all. Paul was talking to the people of Thessalonica. It was one of the first places for Paul and Silas to evangelise. Paul had great success there—not only with the Jews; but also among the God-fearing Greeks. Of course, the Jews who did not believe and those who were envious, hired thugs to attack him. As a result, Paul and Silas left Thessalonica.

What Paul meant by “praying without ceasing” is to encourage the Thessalonians to maintain a faithful prayer life as his own. Praying without ceasing does not mean to pray constantly; but to be consistent and persistent in our prayer life. Paul in this epistle gives us an intimate introduction of how he mentored young believers. In fact, he explains briefly many of the basic Christians doctrines in 1 Thessalonians. These include the doctrine of Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, the nature of Scripture, the timing and events of the Second Coming and much more.

Finding time to pray and ask God to open our minds and hearts to best understand the Scriptures is important. We need to understand why we need to be assured of our salvation, conversion, resurrection and more as we live out our Christian life. But from sunrise to sunset our lives are filled with events and activities that have a beginning and ending. Also events follow one another and at times happen at the same time or period. Even when we fall asleep, things happen, the earth revolves around the sun and the moon around the earth. The systems and organs in our bodies work and thoughts and ideas cross our mind and consciousness.

So whether we attend school or university; or work at home or not; our mind and consciousness are constantly active. We are all busy in some form. If we are not paying attention to what we do or what comes to the fore of our mind, there will be some activities that are important to us we would forget to do. Prayer is one of those. So it is best we plan so we can use our days and times effectively.

Therefore, let us put prayer into our plan and schedule—after all, God our Creator sustains all life and systems on earth, It is Him to whom our prayers are directed for support, worship, guidance, and thanks. We must not be too busy to pray. Let us not take God for granted. Those who say “there is no God,” they take Him for granted; but He has a message for them: “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” They are corrupt.” (Psalm 14:1, NKJV).

 

Is The Good Life For Everyone?

To make sense of this discussion, we have to begin with a common understanding and meaning of the phrase “the good life.” But we have limited our discussion by the use of the definite article “the” as we have said “the good life.” There is bias here, some would argue because we should instead say “a good life”—using the indefinite article “a.” For them the phrase pertaining to “good life” best lends itself to a relative rather than an absolute meaning. For good may mean different things to different people—like ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison.’

I am not going to argue relative and absolute truth claims or perceptions here. The Bible declares that truth must be absolute. For God is truth—permanent, eternal, and absolute. Let me add here that many confuse personal perceptions or views of the truth and the “true truth.” So I go back to the question as it is correctly written as “the good life” rather than “a good life.” Since the beginning God created everything “very good,” (Genesis 1:31). So here our absolute and perfect God can only produce that which is perfect and properly good. The life of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning, must have been therefore “the good life.” Imagine they walked with God in the garden of Eden—in His presence and holiness.

Their sin has corrupted the world (Genesis 6:11) and all in it (Romans 5:12). Jesus told us that “In this world [we] will have trouble,” (John 16:33). But our life now and eternally can be good if we accept him as our Lord and Saviour. The Bible says, “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).  On top of this we see that God our Saviour “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). I would argue that with the knowledge of God’s truth as we are filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), we can live “the good life.” After all, being filled with the Spirit we can be righteous,

 What is really the good life and how is it defined? The good life must be the life we all aspire to live being empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. We are renewed in that state. One can define this good life as being a life lived in Christ. Is this life for every human being so that no matter the choices and outcomes we have now in our lives, we can still make this claim?

God, who is good, desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth; but we have free choice which is good. Many will not obey God so the life they will have will not, by God’s Holy standards, be good. Of course we will have trials or tests (by God) and tribulations (what we bring about). Our quality of life, good or bad, depends on our responses to the Holy Spirit promptings. The good life God wants for everyone; but God with His perfect foreknowledge knows that not everyone will make the right choices to avail themselves of this good life.

 Of course those who are caught up with the doctrine of predestination will say “No.” They will argue that some are predestined to hell. Surely God has the right and sovereign power to predetermine any life as He so chooses. How can the clay tell the potter how to fashion itself? Can it say it wants to be a bowl or cup and not be discarded? Still, what then is free choice or will to those preordained—a farce or joke? 

The Problem with Heroes

When we were children, our heartbeats quickened and our adrenalin rushed as we read the epic stories of our heroes. Today adults need to have the imagination of a child. If adults need to master the mystical and spiritual exercises in meditation and contemplation in their drive to spiritual maturity, their ability to imagine must become like the child. Such a world needs to become real to them.

 

The lives and journeys of heroes motivate us to emulate such levels of bravery and daring. Heroes face challenges no matter if they experience fears as they face overwhelming situations. Heroes never quit. They strike out against the odds. Where others may hesitate, heroes make the quantum leap. They go the extra mile. They are monuments of faith and self confidence. They adjust as flexibility is needed; but they do not yield to circumstances. They are not victims of circumstances but masters of the facets of life before them.

Now all this sounds to me very much like the minor and major prophets of the Holy Bible. They are all heroes. We can add the list of kings who were lovers of God and called on Him in their times of need and prayed and even ordered their citizens to honour God as the king of Nineveh.

But in spite of their daring, all our heroes are fallible human beings--finite, mortal, limited, and imperfect. While it is true they motivate us and many of us aspire to be like them--in a manner of speaking, heroes most times demonstrate reliance on self rather than reliance on the Holy Spirit. The exceptions, would in the main, be those heroes who were prophets or men and women of God.

Truth be told, we ought to strive to emulate, or imitate perfection. After all, we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the heroes--who we know are imperfect human beings. As Christians we are taught and are encouraged to follow Biblical instructions and the apostle Paul says, "imitate me as I imitate Christ," (1 Corinthians 11:1). So the apostle has been guided by the Holy Spirit to encourage us to do as he did: 'imitate Jesus Christ;' but not him."

In the end, the true hero to copy and really imitate is Jesus Christ. He was and is perfect. So his virtues, standards, actions, thoughts, and how he relates to God the Father, and humanity we need to copy. The world would have us emulate the human heroes and even argue that we may better be able to relate to them as we too are limited and fallible as they all were and are--with the exception of Jesus. But God's Word--the Bible--tells us plainly to imitate Jesus as we have quoted but also to "imitate God," (Ephesians 5:1, NIV).

Is God’s Wrath an Aspect of His Love?

The word wrath normally gives us images of anger and destruction. We think of wrath as evil and as wicked revenge. How can such an act be considered to be a lived out demonstration of an aspect of God’s love? God who is holy, does not and cannot do evil. If his wrath is an aspect of his love, then its intent and outcome must be constructive and positive. For all of what God does or directly causes motivates, stirs, and nurtures for goodness sake. His creative action in the formation of the universe was all good—in fact, very good (Genesis 1:31).

 The dictionary meaning of wrath is: “strong vengeful anger or indignation; retributory punishment for an offense or a crime; divine chastisement.” This is taken from the Meridian-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. What then of God’s wrath as an act from a holy God? Perhaps we should look at God’s Wrath as a latter part of his disciplinary process that seeks to encourage behaviour change towards his view of what it means to be good—by His holy standards.

 Let us begin with Scripture saying, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink;” (Romans 12:18-20, NKJV).

 So as Christians, we need to focus on good and not “repay no one evil for evil,” (Romans 12:17).  We leave vengeance to God. After all, “Does not the potter have power over the clay,” (Romans 9:21)? So God, the potter, has sovereign power over all humanity, the clay. Therefore he has the right of vengeance as creator in his implementation of his procedures to correct human behaviour and conduct..

 Since he created all things and said they were good then very good, then his intentions clearly are good. Following the sin that entered the world, Scripture says, that he wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) so clearly His intentions and actions of sustenance and even his goal for the end of life are all constructive. Thus it is reasonable to assume, God’s Wrath is all a part of this culminative set of activities that are constructive and positive and given to love. This love describes his divine state of peace, harmony, and justice.