Archive for August, 2018

Lie like the Devil or...

Lie like the devil or ….?

Truth isn’t truth? © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:1-2 – TRUTH ISN’T TRUTH? CONTEXT NEEDED.

Psalm 4:2 King David says, “How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” 

Recently, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that “truth isn’t truth” during a television interview. Even in context, this statement is a sad reflection on politics.

He was talking about a conversation between President Trump and FBI director James Comey in February 2017. Mr Comey’s account of that conversation is quite different from President Trump’s.

Guiliani said, “When you tell me that he (Donald Trump) should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”

Todd responded: “Truth is truth.” Mr Giuliani said: “Truth isn’t truth.”

Mr Giuliani then gave context to his comment – “If you’re just a genius, tell me what the truth is! We have a credibility gap  You’ve got to select between the two of them.”

In another interview, Mr Giuliani was commenting on facts. He said, “It’s in the eye of the beholder,”

“No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder,” Cuomo said.

“… yes they are. Nowadays they are,” Giuliani asserted.

Even given context, Giuliani’s “truth isn’t truth” and “facts are in the eye of the beholder” remarks, points to a worldview that everyone can have their own version of the truth and that there is no absolute truth. Relativism.

Lindy Keffer from Focus on the Family says, “In a society where ultimate truth is treated like a fairy tale, an outdated idea or even an insult to human intelligence, the motto of the day becomes, “WHATEVER!” Believe whatever you want. Do whatever seems best to you. Live for whatever brings you pleasure, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. And of course, be tolerant. Don’t try to tell anyone that their whatever is wrong.” 

The Press has had a field-day with Guiliani’s comments, but some people have pointed out that when Guiliani’s interview was broadcast by the newspapers and twitter comments, the headlines and some articles left out the context of his “truth isn’t truth” statement and are therefore also misleading, lies in themselves, their version of the truth of what was said without the context, and thus proving his assertion.

King David is more direct in Psalm 4:2 “How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” asks David but through him, it is God who asks this question today.

We are all capable of manipulating the truth to get ourselves out of a corner. The blatant lies of politicians have long been acknowledged. The slogan from the Bible that hangs over the door of many courtrooms, “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” appears to have been watered down to “I will have my version of the truth and you will have your version of the truth and one of us will be set free depending on what someone else’s version of the truth is.” 

Can we believe what Comey tweeted? … 

“Truth exists and truth matters. Truth has always been the touchstone of our country’s justice system and political life. People who lie are held accountable. If we are untethered to truth, our justice system cannot function and a society based on the rule of law dissolves.” Guiliani would say, “Truth according to whom?” What is the standard of truth in Comey’s statement? Does it come from an external source or from our version of the truth?

I want something I can be sure of. God’s Word is Truth, absolute truth. I am invited to test the truth of His Word by living my life according to its precepts, without uncertainty.

I particularly want to be honest and call a lie a lie. I want to be able to admit to myself when I am operating from deception (and not to start believing my own lies as being my version of the truth).

I want to be able to admit my deceptive behaviour to God and see it from His point of view. Admitting a lie to others is perhaps the most difficult thing to do. Better to operate from the Truth in the first place. This is one of the serious challenges of our times (and of my life personally). It has to do with admitting when I am wrong and have an external set of standards that don’t depend on me. I need God’s standard of truth to do this.

You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for Himself. The Lord will answer when I call to Him” (Psalm 4:3 NLT).

Answer me when I call to You, O God who declares me innocent” (Psalm 4:1 NLT).

It’s what God declares over my life that matters most. Just as David is declared innocent by God, I am declared by God to be forgiven because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross for me.

I have come to know the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the Truth has set me free.

I can come to Him at any time and He listens if I am willing to give an honest account.

Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

The Bible never says that I won’t face troubles, but it speaks of God undeserved favor (mercy) and that He hears my prayer.

Even David as a King faces challenges and needs God’s help. He asks humbly for God’s undeserved favor, knowing that God will hear his deepest prayers.

Through this prayer of David, God invites me to call to Him and acknowledge my need for His help, without the lies.

Pastor Ross

Related Article

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/teens/absolute-truth

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Was Blind1

Was blind, … © Created Images by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79b Cycles

Matthew 20:29-34 -  INTERVIEW  – ONCE BLIND 

As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind.Two blind men were sitting beside the road.  

I interviewed Daniel in a Church service recently. He is completely blind. Daniel said “I was not always blind so I know what I have lost. Being so much older now, I have lost a lot of my mobility and my blindness adds to my lack of independence. Simple things can be difficult for me. For example, I still cannot use my phone and at times I can’t even find the cradle in which to replace it.”

Together Daniel and I related his story to this passage of the Bible in Matthew 20. I didn’t record the interview but you’ll find many of his thoughts in the story below …

If I went back in time with a Camera crew and met and interviewed the 2 blind beggars on the side of the road before Jesus came along, the interview might go something like this… 

Was Blind2

Was Blind, … © Created Images by Ross Cochrane

I am here just outside Jericho, on a very busy road, and in a short time, we will try to get an interview with Jesus as He passes this way. In the meantime, we are speaking to Azriel and Efraim (not their real names), both believers and both completely blind. 

I am interested in what life is like for you and what is your take on the events of this day. Azriel, may I start with you. You went blind in your 20’s as a result of cataracts. May I ask you first what problems you face in everyday life and how your blindness restricts you?

Azriel: Yes, Of course. As you can imagine, I have lost a lot of my independence. I can’t work so I have experienced a dramatic loss of income. This means I have been reduced to begging and relying on others for my livelihood. The money I make from begging is often inadequate. That’s partly why I am here.

How did you find your way here today?

Azriel: It was a challenge, but I know this road and I just had to follow the noises of the people and ask for directions. This is the major road out of Jericho.

Mostly, my life is monotonous, sitting near the city gate begging, but at this time of year, everyone is going to the Passover in Jerusalem. Jericho is a major roadway to Jerusalem and everyone has a story to tell or news to share. That’s how we discovered news about Jesus passing this way.

I can beg by the roadside and listen to the conversations. I make a lot of money with so many people going by and learn a lot about what is happening in the world.

Ephraim: I don’t like going outside but I have to if I am going to survive. Azriel and I travel together. It’s a little like the Blind leading the Blind and the trouble is, it’s not always safe, with ditches, wagons, animals and Roman soldiers. People expect us to get out of the way. We know the best places to beg but often they are also the most dangerous.

It must be difficult to get through the crowded areas

Ephraim: Being on the road to Jericho at this time of year is always exhausting. Too many people roaming about, bumping into us or tripping over us. But we have to contend with the crowds to survive. We have no judgment to react quickly to any dangers so we are accident prone.

Some people give bad directions to us and others just don’t have time for us. We can’t venture out too far or we will get separated and lose our way without help. Sometimes people say “follow me” but unless they are watching us we will get lost in a crowd like this.

How do you cope emotionally with your blindness?

Efraim: I guess we cope because we don’t only rely on our hearing; on touch and smell and on taste to navigate our way through life (although my hearing is particularly good).

Before I had faith in Jesus, I found myself continually grappling with loneliness. My family seemed to be embarrassed by me and I lacked any sense of dignity. I felt as if I was not important to anyone. I felt isolated and I must admit, I still get depressed at times, but I am absolutely sure that I can rely on God and on His mercy.

I get frightened easily when I am alone outside. Rather than thinking the best in people, I can become suspicious of them. Sometimes I am not sure if I am being helped or being mugged. Azriel is fairly positive, so his friendship helps me, but I don’t make a lot of friends.

Since I believed in Christ, I have realised that I can’t trust completely in my own abilities or judgments and I can’t rely on others all the time. We can’t always just go with the crowd.

Azriel, What gives you hope?

Azriel: Our belief. As Ephraim said, we believe in Christ. We heard Him speak once and since then we have both come to believe that He is the promised Messiah, the Son of David. We will cry out for His mercy if ever we hear Him again. His mercy will give us a reason to live.

Was Blind111png

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Azriel: If Jesus is going to the Passover in Jerusalem, then we don’t want to be so blind as to not recognise Him.  He will probably come along this road and we are keeping our ears open. Without Jesus, we are even more blind and helpless and with nowhere to go. But God is always near to us since we believed. I pray that He will give us the eyes of faith to see Him, and the humility to shout out for His touch and His mercy. We want to understand more of who He is and what that means for our lives.

Maybe your desire will come more quickly than you realised. I have just received news that Jesus is coming this way. 

As you can hear, the moment I said Jesus was coming, these two blind men are shouting out “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd doesn’t seem to like them calling out

“Be quiet!” 

People from the crowd are yelling at them. Let’s talk to one of them. Excuse me, can I ask you why you don’t want these blind men to get Jesus’ attention? 

Crowd member:  They are calling Jesus the Son of David. That’s a term used for the Messiah, the coming King who will one day free us from the tyranny of our enemies. Jesus may be a respected teacher but He is not the Messiah. Talk like that is almost blasphemous.

Another Crowd Member: Besides, they are beggars. As if Jesus will want to speak with beggars. It’s embarrassing.

Despite the crowds yelling at them to be quiet, Azriel and Ephraim are shouting even louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Azriel and Ephraim, you seem intent on getting this crowd a little angry. Why do you continue shouting? They want you to remain silent and go back to asking for alms. 

Azriel: This is our only opportunity to see Jesus so we cannot give in to their demands. We intend to shout even louder for His intervention of mercy, even if it is undeserved and even if they are embarrassed and have no sympathy or compassion for our desperation. We are going to “Seek the LORD while He may be found” We are going to “call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6 NLT).

Well, it seems these two blind men cannot be dissuaded. They are shouting even louder. And Jesus is approaching. Let’s see what He does. 

Jesus hears them, and surprisingly, He is stopping to talk to them. 

“What do you want Me to do for you?”

Jesus has stopped and has asked them to articulate their needs. He seems to have accepted the title they have given Him, “Son of David”. Perhaps they are not so blind after all. It will be interesting to see if He will give them any money. They need a handout and they have already asked Him for mercy.

“Lord, we want to see!”

Well, you can see that Azriel and Ephraim are desperate, even to the point of believing that Jesus can perform a miracle and enable them to see. Jesus stands with them and the crowd have gathered around Him. They cried out for mercy desperately, but when Jesus stopped, they didn’t ask Jesus for money but for their sight. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for them, these poor beggars. Everyone has gone silent, wondering what Jesus is going to say or do. Perhaps he’ll encourage the crowd to give. How sad.

Of course, there are many desperate people on this crowded road who need the mercy of God. Not all of them are as demonstrative as these 2 beggars. Perhaps this is a reminder that none of us should be so blind as not to see the needs of those around us. Over to you…

… Wait, something is happening. 

Jesus is reaching down and touching their eyes. (Quickly, get a close-up of this.) Something is happening to their eyes. The moment Jesus touched their eyes something incredible happened! Their eyes are no longer clouded and white with cataract damage. They are clear and bright. (Did you get that?) 

The crowd have breathed a collective breath of amazement. People are gathering around. The crowd is getting a little thick around here. We can’t see what is going on. (Reporter talks to a man on a wagon) Excuse me, can you see what is happening? 

Man on wagon: Yes, Jesus was moved with compassion for two beggars and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! They are following Him. All praise to God! (Matthew 20:34).

There you have it. We did witness something remarkable. There are too many people around for us to get through to interview Jesus and these blind beggars who apparently have been completely healed, but we will keep trying. 

Please, let us through. We are reporters. We desperately need to speak to Jesus. Please, show a bit of mercy. We can’t miss this opportunity. Not now, after what we just witnessed… 

Forget the camera, guys. We need eyes to see Him too…  

Reporter begins shouting: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

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This story needs still the words of someone like Adam Clarke, born in 1763, who wrote a commentary on this passage from the Bible and gave what proves to be a timeless invitation. He says,

Reader, whosoever thou art, act in behalf of thy soul as these blind men did in behalf of their sight, and thy salvation is sure. Apply to the Son of David; lose not a moment; He is passing by, and thou art passing into eternity, and probably wilt never have a more favorable opportunity than the present. The Lord increase thy earnestness and faith!

Pastor Ross

Related Articles

http://www.thewellatspringfield.org/a-blind-beggar-who-sees/