Category Archives: Worldview & Truth

Judging a tree

“No one is so deceived as the person who believes
he has everything figured out.”

“Every tree will be known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33). Recounting his personal journey towards the end of his life, the brilliant British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton told of strolling through London as a young man in the turbulent sixties, and stumbling into an angry mob of demonstrators: “I saw a group of radicals destroying and throwing stones at policemen, and I said ‘Whatever these people are for, I am against.” That inflection point set Scruton on the path towards becoming one of England’s premier thinkers and cultural influencers. Sir Roger looked at a “tree” and judged it by its fruit.

Those who are serious about apprenticeship to Jesus take truth seriously; we want to stand squarely on the side of integrity. So it follows that faithful disciples will always live welcome correction, repentance and the opportunity to change our minds when necessary. (No one is so dangerous or deceived as the person who believes he has everything figured out). But when we live in a culture of contradicting narratives, censorship, disinformation, and media-shaming, it can sometimes be difficult to know which narrative is “truly” true.

I believe one reliable indicator of truth is the fruit test: Does this group, this news organization, or this ideology promote peace and order, or violence and chaos? Does it build-up, or tear-down? Does it produce anger and bitterness, or gentleness and love? Can I see in these people a humble hope in God, or the pride of arrogance? Even a child can tell good fruit from rotten.

Undeniably, two worldviews are locked in a brutal competition for the future of the world. It’s a terrifying sight. But the disciples of Jesus will remember that we are called to be a “tree of righteousness”, a tree whose fruit will be given for the healing of the nations.

“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22-23

(A good introduction to Sir Roger Scruton is his timeless documentary, “Why Beauty Matters”)

Worldview and the Coronavirus

Worldviews inevitably go astray when they depart from the middle way of truth: Materialists are half correct when they say the world is material. But it is more! Spiritualists are half correct when they say the world is spiritual. But it is not only spiritual. The world is a glorious mix of both spiritual and material. That is the truth and the natural order of creation.

As we followers of Jesus approach the coronavirus we stand in need of recognizing the middle way. Already I am hearing some friends say reckless things like, “I’m not concerned. God will protect me.” God does protect us. But that is only half of the truth. The other half is that God has given us an understanding of how viruses are spread, and we need to honor the natural component of the sickness as well.

One friend mentioned that it’s not “unbelief” to wash up, avoid crowds, and take precautions any more than it’s “unbelief” for a Christian surgeon to scrub-up and wear a mask for surgery. No one wants to be operated on by a surgeon who simply “trusts in the Lord” to keep infection away.

A Biblical worldview honors both the spiritual and the natural. Foolishness sees only one end of the equation. The Old Testament is full of laws about social distancing from lepers, avoiding unclean foods, and practicing proper sanitation. These are legitimate injunctions regarding the natural world. But at the same time, we are admonished to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. That is the spiritual end, and both sides are important. As we plot our way through the challenge of coronavirus I encourage you to keep social distance inasmuch as you are able and to practice good hygiene. But I also encourage you to trust in God. Do not be afraid! God’s Word is full of promises about these sorts of situations.

As you distance yourself and take wise precautions capitalize on the time to memorize Psalm 91, and the many other promises God has given to us. And don’t fall into the foolishness of half-truths! We are in this situation with God at our side.

Leftism and the Kingdom

Someone has said, “When the church does not disciple the world, the world disciples the church.”

For nearly two weeks now I’ve had a growing sadness and alarm in the depths of my spirit:  The news of the church shootings in Charleston was a well-placed punch in the gut for most of us.  And quickly on its heels came two Supreme Court decisions that severed America from Constitutional clarity and set it adrift in the tides of relativism, public opinion and political expediency.  Facebook and web forums predictably erupted into vicious denunciations and hostile invective.  And now we have entered a contentious new territory which – apart from a great turning – could explode into unimaginable destabilization and bloodshed.

Today I simply want to remind my friends of two things:

#1. People are never the problem.  I know it’s quite easy to feel that way, and in fact there is a large segment of America already practiced at maligning others as “evil”, “racist”, and “standing in the way of progress.”  Jesus followers must never allow themselves to descend into that mindless approach, for whenever a culture has demonized people, it inevitably falls into the blackness of genocide, gas chambers and “final solutions.”

The problem is not people, but the lies people believe.  Let me go a step further and say it’s the lies we believe, because whether we know it or not, there are always vestiges of deception lying around in our own thought processes, and that realization ought to keep each of us perpetually humble before God.  For this reason Kingdom-seekers ought to forever champion humility, understanding and Truth.

#2. There is still the great untried truth of the Kingdom.  Leftism has gained such staggering ground in America because the leftists have learned to articulate their story and sought out the places of cultural influence to tell it.  They preach from hollywood sound-studios, academic halls, and media outlets a story that offers a hope, (false as  it is), to the hungry masses.   Their story has been told well, it’s being tested at this moment, and it will ultimately usher us into a living hell on earth.

And meanwhile…  we stand before church congregations and preach a shriveled narrative of forgiveness and escape from this world of darkness – a story that cannot even be tested until we die!   This narrative of getting into heaven when we die has played itself out; It will NOT capture the minds and hearts of this confused generation.  But the story of the Kingdom will!  How do I know?  It’s the same story that has fueled our hearts from our earliest years, and it’s the very story the King himself told to invite the world into life and blessing.

Jesus and facts

I’m thinking today about how totally comfortable Jesus is with facts. Too many sincere Christians become skittish in the face of science and scrutiny.  We fret and worry that if the right yarn is pulled it might be the one that unravels the whole sweater.  The Son of God is not some fragile gift shop curio that needs to be kept under glass.  And the sooner we see it, the better off we’ll be.

The great missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones, wrote that he made the happy discovery in that continent of inquirers that he could put his faith in front of the world and say, Here he is, brothers.  Break him if you can.”  The difference between Jones and many in the church today is that He did his homework; He asked the difficult questions, and discovered a case robust enough to stand up under the critics.

The carpenter of Nazareth built more than tables and chairs.  He fashioned the world of reality from the ground up, and has nothing to fear under investigation.  The one who rebuked the storm is not intimidated by the facts of his own universe.  He owns the facts!  He invented them!  “All things were created by him, and apart from him nothing was created that has been created.”  When the evidence is torn apart and examined under the microscope, the telescope, or the petri dish, he will be standing right there behind it with a knowing glimmer in his eye.

“He was there before any of it came into existence, and he holds it all together right up until this very moment.”   – Colossians 1:17 (Msg)

There’s nothing fragile about this Christ.  Though the world may cave in upon itself and the stars be sucked into a wormhole, He will remain towering above the ruins.   Let’s do our homework and invite the neighbors to present their best questions!

Born-again hearts and Babylonian brains

I first heard Darrow Miller say it in a 1997 Worldview Seminar that changed my life: “Many Christians today have born-again hearts but Babylonian brains.”  That’s not a crack on the intelligence of anybody, but rather a sad commentary on the condition of the church.  We’ve given our hearts to Jesus and our heads to universities, politics and pop culture.  

Much of it happened during the twentieth century when our enthusiasm for Heaven began to eclipse our vision of the Kingdom.  Faith divorced reason, and the children went up for custody.  Genteel Heart went to Jesus, where the church tickled her emotions, coddled her feelings, and told her magical stories of Heaven.  But the troubled sibling – Mind – got fostered out to whoever would do the hard work of challenging opinions, digging for truth, and searching out answers.

Now the world is in free fall, and few of us have done our homework.  We can tell you whatever you want to know about sin, heaven and the cross.  But when questions arise about government, poverty, economics, education and such, we divert our eyes like school children from a teacher’s gaze.  What do we know about these things?  Does God even have opinions about that?  Gosh… I wish I’d done my assignment.

The truth is, the church has been given a road map and a commission to declare the Way home to a lost world.  “You are the light of the world.”  (Matthew 5:14)  Instead we’re like last night’s TV drama, where the Native American guide abandoned the greenhorn explorers in the Everglades without food and water among the alligators and wildcats. We’ve done as much, leaving godless academics, corrupted politicians, failed Marxists, and Comedy Central entertainers to lead the way.

Today I have an assignment, if you’ll accept the challenge:  Take a Bible in one hand, a pen in the other, and with the help of the Spirit begin formulating what you believe about:  People, Government, Hope, Calling, Poverty, Education, and any other thing God brings to mind.

Finding my voice

VoiceIn case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been pretty silent both here and on Facebook for several months now.  But I think I’ve found my voice again.  I realized today that it’s an old tactic of the enemy to silence the people of God.  They crucified Jesus, beat Paul, imprisoned Peter, and sent the early Believers to the lions all because of the inconvenient and unacceptable things they had to say. And then there’s me. Like the weenie-warriors in Saul’s army it took only a few taunts from a perceived Goliath to intimidate me into retreat.

The irony first hit me when I was in Romania and Lebanon last month.  I suddenly felt a greater release to speak freely in these two former Soviet and Middle Eastern countries than I do here at home.  It was the beginning of a wake-up call.  Freedom is a spiritual thing that lies at the heart of the Trinity, and it’s a defining characteristic of the Kingdom.  While Jesus hushed his enemies with a simple word of Truth, Satan employs threats, fear and brute force to silence those who oppose him.  The suppressors of free speech are enemies to God.

One of my commitments at the beginning of this year was to renounce the false god of Political Correctness.  PC is an idol that demands absolute obedience.  It tolerates no other God, shuts down opposing voices, and punishes it’s defectors with false charges, lost employment, scorn and social stigma.  Political correctness wars against the Kingdom of God by opposing truth.

Today I’m reclaiming my voice.  I will not be ugly or judgmental, but neither will I be bullied into silence.  “Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.” – Jacques Barzun

Truth and the battle for the Kingdom

The Kingdom is Truth, total Truth permeating every facet of God’s creation from relationships and government to economics and environment.  When the King identifies himself as “Truth” (John 14:6), you can be sure His Kingdom will reflect the flawless reality of His original intention in all of our living, loving, working, playing, and laughing.

Lucifer, the World-Hater, has only one real weapon in his arsenal of destruction, and that is the simple, yet effective strategy of deception.  Daily He disseminates lies like dandelion seeds, which in turn poison everything they touch:  Lies about neighbors contaminate communities.  Lies about government sabotage our freedoms.  Lies about morality breed slavery and destruction.   Lies about health metastasize into cancer and disease.

Recently God has been teaching me to pray for the Spirit of Truth to expose lies and to stir up an appetite for Truth in the church and in the nations.  Picture how effectively wars can be turned when the enemy’s plans have been laid bare.  It’s a non-partisan prayer, really.  Whether the lies are liberal or conservative, yours or mine, church lies, media lies, or Hollywood lies, they all must be rooted out before the Kingdom will emerge with great glory.

An additional bonus to this kind of prayer is the transformation of the way I read the headlines.  Instead of daily discouragement, I take heart when one more instance of corruption, infidelity and greed has been exposed to the naked light of Truth.  Imagine with me what God might do if His people banded together in asking that – come what may – the Enemy’s hidden agenda would be exposed like cockroaches to daylight for all to see.

Everything matters

Back when I was religious, I had my life all sorted into neat piles of “things that matter” and “things that don’t”.  Church, Bible study, prayer, and Christian music had value because those things were “sacred” and eternal.   But other things, “secular” things, were essentially meaningless:  Hollywood and hobbies, politics and parties, the way I dressed and the way I kept my yard.  It was easy in those days to prioritize: I merely had to sort the sacred from the secular and turn my focus full onto the sacred.  Now that I see the Kingdom I’ve come to realize that my twisted thinking was just one more remnant of hyper-religious, super spiritual yada yada.   The truth is, Everything Matters!

From the majesty of a sunset to the stripes of a caterpillar, ours is a world designed for glory and destined for redemption.  Every little piece of it.  Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch theologian captured it perfectly when He said,  “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!'”  There is no division between sacred and secular because there is no secular.  It all belongs to a holy King, from the tidiness of my car, to the trimming of my shrubs, to the brightness of my smile.  In fact, everything I do carries the seeds of significance.

I’m reminded of “The Broken Window” theory that became a crime-fighting strategy of former Mayor of New York City, Rudi Guilanni.  The theory says that there is a direct correlation between broken windows and crime rates.  When people go into a neighborhood and simply replace the broken windows of the vacant buildings, crime rates will drop measurably.  Glory begets community health as surely as neglect and broken windows beget crime.

So while our postmodern neighbors suffocate under the lie that says “nothing really matters”, we believers have inherited a message of hope, the glad news of a Kingdom where everything matters!

Jesus and the one percent

This morning it occurred to me that the Gospel of Luke tells a delightful story about Jesus’ encounter with a 1%  Wall-Street-type rich man.

Jesus was passing through Jericho.  A man named Zacchaeus was there. He was the director of tax collectors, and he was rich.  (We’re traditionally reminded that these tax collectors acquired their fabulous wealth by extorting money from the “ninety-nine percent”).  He tried to see Jesus, but Zacchaeus was a small man, and he couldn’t see Him because of the crowd.  So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a fig tree to see Jesus, who was coming that way.  When Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down! I must stay at your house today.”  Zacchaeus came down and was glad to welcome Jesus into his home.  But the people who saw this began to express disapproval.  (Maybe they made signs and occupied tents out in front of Zaccheaus’ house)?  They said, “He went to be the guest of a sinner.”  Later, at dinner, Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Lord, I’ll give half of my property to the poor. I’ll pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way.”  Then Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “You and your family have been saved today. You’ve shown that you, too, are one of Abraham’s descendants.  Indeed, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that  which was lost.”   (Luke 19:1-10)

The obvious truth lies in the details of how Zacchaeus was changed.  It wasn’t shame nor legislation that loosened his purse strings, but the love of a man named Jesus.  To my Christian friends tempted to “occupy” Wall Street, I remind you that the Kingdom begins not in anger and protest, but in love, witness, and the declaration of a new Kingdom.

The great lie about people

I’m feeling both sad and concerned at the growing animosity between American liberals and conservatives.  As the budget debate intensifies both camps are busy slinging slurs and pointing fingers in a growing chorus of anger.   It hit me especially hard this morning reading Facebook comments that were stoking hatred like a blacksmith bellows.

Lies kill, and there’s probably no more deadly lie than the notion that the trouble with the world is people.   It’s a subtle worldview that insinuates that “if we could only eliminate those ‘damned’ Atheists, Tea-Partiers, Christians, Muslims, Liberals, or Gays, then all would be right with the world.”   This same thinking permeates the doctrines of Nazis, Islamists, (those Muslims who take up the ideology of bombing infidels), and Marxists who sort through enemies like socks.  It’s OK to hate their ideology, but never the people.

Followers of Jesus must stand in the solid truth that people are not the enemy!   Sin is the enemy!  Pride is the enemy, judgment, arrogance, and lies are the enemy!  These are the things that divide communities and choke the life out of our souls.  And these very attitudes reside in the fallen flesh of each of us.  Will you purpose together with me to lay down the accusing finger and attack the problem not in the face of a friend, but at the level of truth and deception?    God’s word tells us “The thief comes to steal, to kill and destroy.”  (John 10:10)   The great enemy of God and of the human race carries out his work through lies and accusation.  Let’s purpose in our hearts to live in the opposite spirit of blessing and affirming others while standing firmly on the truth that sets people free.