Challenge Accepted!

It’s a balancing act…

Have you ever been forced to choose between two options when you really wanted both? Eggs or bacon? Peanut butter or jelly? Soap or water? Sometimes we want both. Sometimes we need both.

When it comes to truth and love, we really need a balance of both.

Truth is a big deal. Truth builds a strong, lasting foundation, holding up everything we do. Love is just as important as truth. As Christians, we are called to speak the life-changing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we are obligated to speak it with love:

“Then, we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:14-15).

What does a mature Christian look like?

A mature Christian knows the truth. We don’t believe everything we hear. We aren’t easily tricked by lies. We know the truth because we know God’s word. We may lose our debit card, we may lose our keys, but we must never lose our commitment to God’s word.

A mature Christian speaks truth in love. Yes, we know the truth. Yes, we speak the truth. But we aren’t careless about how we speak the truth. We don’t speak the truth harshly or in anger.  We speak the truth in one way only—in love.

A mature Christian is in the process of becoming more like Jesus. Jesus told the truth, even when it was difficult, but he always spoke truth with kindness and compassion. When Jesus met the rich ruler (Mark 10:21), he spoke the truth—the ruler was too attached to his possessions. But the Bible also tells us that Jesus genuinely loved him. Truth and love work together.

One of our great challenges is to balance truth and love. The Bible instructs us to, “always stand for truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8), but also emphasizes that, “whoever does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8). We must be concerned about lost souls, but when we speak the truth of Jesus we must also be concerned about being compassionate and kind. The truth of God’s word must be balanced by the goodness of God’s love.

Truth spoken with love builds up and heals. Every day, we encounter people who need truth and who long for love. Let’s be committed to sharing God’s truth and love with a world that desperately needs both.

Dear God, help me know the truth by knowing your word. Immerse me in your love so I am kind and gentle with the hearts and feelings of others. And, Lord, please give me wisdom to balance truth and love—telling the truth of salvation and doing it with tenderness and love. In Jesus’s name, amen.


When Truth Stumbles in the Public Square

It’s time to stand up for truth…

Most of us were probably taught as children to tell the truth, but we quickly learned the truth could be dangerous. Did you hit your brother? All of a sudden, the truth doesn’t sound like the best option. We try to frame the truth to make us look better. He started it. Or we flat out lie. Ummm…no?

Without truth, there is no justice. Without truth, there is no sure ground upon which to stand. Without truth, there is no freedom.

Isaiah, chapter 59, describes what happens to a nation when truth is no longer valued. When truth doesn’t matter, lives are filled with hatred, destruction, and desolation. There is no peace. Evil acts against God are rampant. Peoples’ words stir up rebellion and revolt.

“Justice is driven away and righteousness stands on the sidelines, for truth has stumbled in the public square and morality cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14).

When truth no longer matters, justice, righteousness, and morality disappear.

It’s time for God’s people to stand up for the truth.

Our culture no longer values truth. We hear statements such as, “truth is relative.” (That’s a lie.) Or, “that’s my truth.” (Lie.) Or, “truth depends on your perspective.” (Again, lie!) There is no such thing as relative truth. There is no such thing as your truth or my truth. Truth is found in God’s word. Truth is found in the person of Jesus.

As our society moves farther away from the unchanging truth, the world becomes more and more unjust, rebellious, and chaotic. In the midst of the turmoil, God’s people must stand up for the truth. Our world desperately needs an anchor, and godly truth is the only anchor that will hold in these stormy waters.

When truth stumbles in the public square, we do not cower in fear. We do not question what we know to be true. On the contrary, we stand strong in the truth of God’s word and the person of Jesus. We live out the truth in our every-day lives and speak it into the messiness of our lives and our world.

Everyone wants something true, something to believe in, something that is sure. Though they may not know it, that something they’re looking for is only found in Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He’s the answer to every question, the solution to every problem, and the wise navigator for every life.

Dear God, in the whirlwind of today’s society, plant my feet firmly in your word. Help me know the truth, live the truth, and stand up for the truth. Keep my eyes on Jesus. Fill me with love for others and the courage to share the truth. In Jesus’s name, amen.


What’s More Valuable than Your Soul?

Truth forces us to choose…

We meet Nicodemus in John, chapter three. He’s impossible to forget. He’s a moral man, a prominent religious leader among the Jews. He holds a powerful place in his community as a member of the Pharisees and the Jewish ruling council.

In spite of his lofty religious position, he was drawn to Jesus. He had seen the miracles and heard the teaching. He had to find out for himself. Were the Pharisees correct? Was Jesus an imposter? Or was Jesus the real thing?

Late one night, after dark, Nicodemus discreetly visited Jesus. He had much to lose. Aligning himself with Jesus would cost him his powerful position in the community. More than that, a follower of Jesus faced a very real risk of losing his life as well as the lives of his family members. To talk to Jesus was to jeopardize everything. Still, Nicodemus had to know. He approached Jesus, saying, “Master, you must be a teacher sent by God.”

As usual, Jesus responded in an unexpected way. “Jesus answered, ‘Nicodemus, listen to this eternal truth: Before a person can perceive God’s kingdom realm, they must first experience a rebirth’” (John 3:3).

Jesus blew Nicodemus’s mind by saying he must be born again. What is born of flesh is fleshly. To be spiritually alive, we must be born again by the Spirit. The need to be saved, to be born again, to be reconciled to God through Jesus, is an eternal truth.

Because of the truth of salvation through Jesus, every person alive faces a choice. Will we risk everything we have to follow Jesus? Will we jeopardize our positions, our wealth, our very lives to be born of the Spirit?

In Mark, chapter 8, Jesus lays out what it means to follow him. He says if we truly want to follow him, we must dethrone ourselves and place him on the throne of our lives. We must continually surrender our will to him. Mark 8:36-37 says, “For what use is it to gain all the wealth and power of this world, with everything it could offer you, at the cost of your own life? What could be more valuable to you than your own soul?”

Nicodemus chose Jesus. We see Nicodemus again in John, chapter 19, taking Jesus’s body from the cross and preparing it for burial. Maybe we’ll get to shake his hand some day in heaven. He made a dangerous—but wise—choice.

The choice still faces each of us today. If we are wealthy and powerful, but lose our souls, what have we gained? What is more valuable to us than our souls? Are we willing to take the crown of lordship off our own heads and throw it at the feet of Jesus?

Missionary Jim Eliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Choose to be born again. Choose eternal life. Choose Jesus.

Lord Jesus, sometimes it’s hard to lay down my own desires to follow you, but today I choose to totally surrender. I want to follow you. I want you to use me and my life as you see fit. Nothing is more important to me than my soul. Thank you for making a way for me to be born again. In your name I pray, amen.


Earth’s Very First Lie

Knowing the truth matters…

God created a paradise on earth. He placed Adam and Eve in this paradise filled with trees that were beautiful to look at, fragrant to smell, and filled with delicious fruit and nuts. Four rivers ran through the garden, and gold filled its soil. It was perfect.

There was only one caveat. In the middle of the garden, God put a tree that bore spectacular fruit. It was the only tree from which Adam and Eve couldn’t eat.

Genesis 2:16-17 is very clear: “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

One day, the biggest liar of them all showed up in the garden. He spoke the very first lie recorded in the Bible: “You won’t die…God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).

Adam and Eve wanted that fruit. Why shouldn’t we eat it? It looks delicious. It will make us as wise as God. God is so unfair not to let us eat it. So Eve slowly reached out and touched the fruit with one finger, then wrapped her hand around it, and pulled it off the tree. She stared at it for a few seconds, and finally took a huge bite. She handed it to Adam, and he had a bite, too.

Just that quickly, paradise changed. Adam and Eve changed. Mankind changed. And nothing was ever the same again.

What can we learn from the very first lie?

  1. God’s word is truth. Satan is the father of lies. John 8:44 says that the devil is full of nothing but lies. When he speaks, he speaks his native language of lies and deception. In contrast, God’s word is always true. Hebrews 6:18 says it is literally impossible for God to lie. That’s why we absolutely must immerse ourselves in the Bible—because we must know what is true. Our eternal destination depends on knowing the truth.
  2. We tend to justify our sinful desires and actions. Adam and Eve wanted to eat that fruit, so they justified their desire to disobey God. When we start thinking God’s word doesn’t apply to us because our situation is so unique, we’re in trouble. When we justify desires and actions we know violate God’s word, we’re heading down a dangerous path that will lead to our destruction if we don’t change direction.

God’s word is the source of all truth. God’s word in our hearts prevents sin. God’s word keeps us moving in the right direction. It reveals the lies of the enemy. We ignore the truth of God’s word at our own peril.

In John 17:17, Jesus prayed for us. He said, Your word is truth! So, make them holy by the truth.” Amen and amen. Let it be so.

Dear God, teach me the truth. I know your word is the source of truth. Give me a desire and determination to read and know your word so I will not be deceived or confused about what is true and what is a lie. Order my steps in your word. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.


The Most Dangerous Lie of All

This lie has fooled so many…

Two Truths and a Lie is an icebreaker to help people get acquainted at a party, a training session, or a meeting. If you’ve never played, the title gives it away. Each person prepares three statements—two of which are true and one of which is false. The group has to guess which statement is untrue.

When the group discovers which statement is the lie, some people are happy because they weren’t fooled and others perhaps disappointed because they didn’t spot the lie. Everyone is a little better acquainted and no one is hurt. After all, it’s just a game.

But sometimes the truth isn’t a game. There are some lies that hurt us. There are lies with the power to destroy us forever.

Here’s one of them:

Good people go to heaven. Bad people go to hell.

This is absolutely FALSE, and is one of the most dangerous lies.

The truth about salvation matters more than anything else because it determines where we will spend eternity. If we’re wrong about tithing, we may miss a blessing. If we’re wrong about forgiving people, we carry grudges we weren’t meant to bear. But if we’re wrong about salvation, that’s forever. Nothing matters more than knowing the truth about salvation.

If we’re not saved by being good, how are we saved? The answer is in Acts 16:31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

This is more than believing Jesus existed. To believe in the Lord Jesus means we believe Jesus’s death and resurrection is the only way to be forgiven of our sins and to receive eternal life. We accept Jesus as our Savior and as Lord of our lives. When we do this, we are saved.

And when we’re saved, God is preparing a home for us in heaven. We’ll spend eternity in the presence of God in the city he planned and built just for us.

Don’t be fooled by a lie. Heaven isn’t for people who donated lots of money to charity. It isn’t for kind people. It isn’t for people who are better than that one guy at work. Heaven is for anyone who calls on Jesus for forgiveness and chooses him to be Lord of their lives.

If you aren’t sure you’re saved, Jesus loves you and wants to forgive your sins. You can be saved today by praying the prayer below from your heart. When you do, Jesus forgives your sins, saves your soul, and prepares a home for you in heaven. Friend, nothing matters more than that.

Dear Jesus, I believe you died on the cross to pay the price for my sins. I believe you rose from the grave. Forgive me of my sins. I want you to be Lord of my life from this day on. Thank you for forgiving me, saving me, and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’s name, amen.

 If you accept Jesus as your Savior, we want to celebrate with you. Let us know in the Reply section.