Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE SILENT LAMBS

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The culture of the world and our nation is going through many transitions. Things that were at one time unthinkable and intolerable are becoming legal and accepted. At one time, they were condemned and now they are being condoned. The rule of law is marginalized and moral standards are being eroded. We see evil, wickedness and atrocities abounding and the silence in that regard is deafening. Those who comment about events as they unfold are ignored because of the manner in which their view is expressed and presented. A person who decides to become a Presidential candidate indicates that in recent elections more than one half of professing Christians chose to sit on their hands and decided not to vote. The result has been that those elected have placed the values of the non-voter on the slippery slope that is heading toward oblivion and it is dragging the entire nation with it. The world is jeopardized as the blind lead the blind toward the precipice of destruction.

The Biblical Christian is as culpable as the marginal professing ones. In recent days, a friend posted a public domain graphic on her Facebook Page and had it removed by a FB censor. No reason was given but perhaps the misguided individual objected to the graphic content. It pictured an image on a cross and the use of John 3:16. It was sad that with all the Biblical and nominal “Christians” on Facebook, very few made any comment or offered a protest of any sort. The apathy is astounding and the silence is deafening. How well do we love The One who was suspended on the cross of Calvary? How well do we cherish the substance of John 3:16 that tells us of God’s love demonstrated by the gift of His Son who would be The One who was suspended on that cross and result in all who would believe in Him should never perish but have everlasting (eternal) life? Does that message mean anything at all to us? Is it something about which we should remain silent? Do we believe as the Apostle Paul did (Romans 1:16), “I am NOT ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (John 3:16) because it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, both the Jew and the Gentile alike.”

The sound Bible Commentaries reminds us that sheep/lambs are a species that cannot be driven by a cowboy as cattle but must be led gently and with gentleness to verdant (rich with vegetation) pastures. This idea and concept is demonstrated within Psalm 23 (paraphrased from NLT): “The Lord shepherds me and I have everything that I need; He leads me to a safe place to rest; He finds peaceful streams so I can quench my thirst; He renews my strength; He guides me along correct paths; in the darkest and most dreaded places, He delivers me from my fears because He is close beside me; He makes preparations for me even when I am surrounded by enemies; He overflows my life with multiple blessings; His goodness and unfailing love surround me always; and He will bring me into His eternal dwelling place where I will live with Him forever.” 

When Peter was being reestablished in his relationship with Jesus Christ, on three occasions he is asked by Jesus about his personal level of love for Him (John 21:15-17). The focus Jesus wanted Peter to have was the care and feeding of His sheep and His lambs. It is significant when Peter is writing to the believers who were being persecuted and scattered in 65 AD of The Lamb who had been slaughtered in their behalf.  In I Peter 1:18-19 (ESV), he reminds the persecuted believers: “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” The Good Shepherd (John 10) had given His life in behalf of the sheep and lambs. The words and music written by Twila Paris capture this message in the words…”Your gift of Love They crucified. They laughed and scorned him as he died. The humble King They named a fraud And sacrificed the Lamb of God.”

As we approach Palm Sunday, the song flowing from our hearts should be the words written by Matthew Bridges (1852): “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne. Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee, And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.” Is this the Hymn in your heart and the reality of your life? Don’t be a silent lamb any longer. Proclaim and Crown Him today as the King of your life! Consider these things with me!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WORTHY AMBITION

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It seems as though the media is saturated with reports about celebrities and their ambitions. Actors, politicians, athletes and newscasters become personalities that are constantly before the public. There are times when one of the basic childhood rules should be practiced, “Silence is golden!” However, certain people have the propensity for making comments about every detail and nuance of life. It matters little whether it is some local event that has occurred or an international crisis that is taking place, they believe the population of communities and nations are sitting on the edge of their seats just waiting to hear them pontificate about events as they interpret them. The media is complicit as well with their blaring banners and approach when they use terms such as “Breaking News” or “Exclusive Interview.” As one changes the Channel or Station, nearly all are claiming to have the official “Breaking News” and “Exclusive Interview,” Depending on who is reported or being interviewed, many times their words can inflame or exacerbate a situation. Facts become sacrificed to opinion or bias. Little consideration is given for a time to implement the words of wisdom in Proverbs 17:27, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.”

When it comes to The Church and those who dominate the stage of religion, there is a word for the servant of the Lord in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.” The Apostle Paul was very clear in terms of what motivated him to speak and the topics he addressed. An insight into his ministry approach is given in I Corinthians 2:1-7, “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.mWe do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom.”

Those who dominate the religious platform and stage with their rhetoric and dogmatism about world events can and do cause delusion and discouragement among people who constitute their audience. Misrepresentations are repeated and become more diluted as they are repeated. As world events unfold and are interpret as being the end times, the delusion expands. It is at this juncture that one should give consideration to that which Paul shared in I Thessalonians 2:9-12, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The Lord expects His people to be knowledgeable of His Word and to abide by what it teaches and instructs. Men and their interpretations can gain them popularity and allow them to sell many books. Their popularity and interpretations should never be allowed to usurp one’s personal study of God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in to all of God’s truth. 

That which is lacking are those of whom it can be said: (1) This person walked with God (Enoch); (2) This person believed God and it was credited to him/her as righteousness (Abraham); (3) This person followed the Lord God wholeheartedly (Caleb); (4) This person lived an exemplary life before God “By faith” (Hebrews 11). There’s plenty of room and space for there to be an increasing number of people to be so identified before the Lord. One illustration that stands out is indicated in The Book of Job (1:1), “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Because of the consistency of his life and his reverent walk before the Lord, the devil even took notice of his exemplary life. In Job 1:8-10, we note: “And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” One of the things needed more than ever before are godly people who walk with fear before the Lord and who desire God’s hedge around them and their family. Is this your goal and worthy ambition? Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A NEW PROTOCOL

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The idea of a “protocol” implies there there is a set and distinct order that is followed within the framework of international agreements, as well as an understanding that all attendant parties in an agreement or an event have an obligation to abide by the historic and accepted modus operandi (the mode of operating - the way of doing or accomplishing). Inherent within “protocol” is the practice of courtesy, etiquette, formalities, manners and order. When a new protocol (or practice) was introduced into the Church of the first century, the Apostle Paul reminded the people of a simple and basic rule for behavior. It is recorded in I Corinthians 14:40 (ESV), “But all things should be done decently and in order.”

Whatever action is taken or behavior practiced, a couple of principles should always be adhered to: decently and in order is one of them and subjection to normal accountability is the other. If or when these principles are ignored or suppressed, disorder and indecency will surface and become the rule for the day. Within the area of politics, this generation is experiencing the activity and practice of people who believe they are immune from normal accountability. They drift toward operating by fiat (an authoritative decree, sanction, order) and have the anticipation that people will be disinterested or gullible when it comes to the mandates that ensue. When it carries over to the area of religion, the same strategy of modifying God’s protocols is employed and too few people seem concerned or interested in the ramifications that are or have taken place. One major historic denomination that receives the most attention is reported to be within seven votes of ratifying the Biblical definition for marriage to allow for same gender relationships. If someone raises the Biblical order of Creation, the new protocol dismisses it as a passé view and champion some form of theistic evolution (or just radical evolution). They dismiss the simple logic that God could’ve created a male companion for Adam in the Garden of Eden rather than a female companion who had the capacity for reproduction. 

Throughout Biblical History, there are numerous examples where the chosen people of God allowed themselves to embrace cultural norms rather than Biblical normalcy. Gradually, the things of the world became more desirable to those of the Spirit; the lusts of the flesh supplanted the fruit of the Spirit; carnality became more appealing than Spirituality; the enticements of the ungodly were embraced and enjoyed; and obedience to cultural mandates produced disobedience to God’s standards and the inherent moral values. The result is that Cultural Chaos is the rule of the day and all too few seem concerned about it. 

For those with common sense and a heart for the things of Almighty God, there is ray of hope in the words spoken by and recorded in Isaiah 30:18-22 (NASB), “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him. O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you: This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right or to the left. And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them: Be gone!”

Are you one who is longing for that day and listening for the voice of the Lord saying to you and our cultural society, “This is My way! You must walk in My way!” When one responds affirmatively to Him and His Word and Way, then He will respond favorably once again to His people. If we continue to ignore Him as a nation, He will ignore us. How much longer will it be before we come to our senses and return to the Lord and seek Him? Consider these things with me!

Friday, March 6, 2015

WILL-O'-THE-WISPS

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A will-o’-the-wisp is a type of mirage. You think you see something that isn’t really there. It is a term used to describe “an atmospheric ghost light (also called: foolish fire) at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached. It draw travelers from the more safe paths” (see: Wikipedia). At any rate, it misleads one into believing there is reality to something that is fable rather than fact. Can you imagine the sadness and  disappointment for the one who had pursued what was believed to be light but the further one went the greater the darkness became. It is similar to the one lost and wandering in a desert. His water supply has been consumed and he becomes desperate for water to quench his thirst. He sees something on the horizon that resembles a pond and moves rapidly toward it. The further he goes the more he realizes that it is much further than he first thought and increasingly elusive.

In a world that is marked by Cultural Chaos, many have concluded that we are now living in a post-Christian era. From the immediate focal point in the USA, it appears that is a true evaluation and assessment of what is happening, especially in terms of the Judeo-Christian values. On the one hand, there are the current comments of Cal Thomas. According to an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with liberal Michelangelo Signorile, Cal Thomas was asked whether he believes the Supreme Court will rule (in June 2015) that states cannot ban homosexual marriage. He replied: “I think it’s going to go 5-4 or even 6-3 in favor of same-sex marriage. All of these things are not the cause of our decadence, they’re a reflection of it…We worship at the golden calf of the Dow Jones Industrials – in Dow we trust, not in God. Too many conservative Christian marriages are breaking up. So, if they can’t impose morality on themselves, how do they expect to impose it on the rest of the country?”

On the other hand, there is an opinion column from December 2007 by Tristan Emmanuel where he writes in World Net Daily (WND): “The theory is that because Christianity is in decline in the West, it is also losing its power to influence culture and shape the course of human history…The Third World church actually believes in the rightness of the historic creeds, which is why it is better equipped to deal with Islam than the relativist and multicultural church of the West. They also retain a very strong supernatural orientation and doctrine. They are far more interested in fundamental issues of truth and falsehood than in radical politics like the liberation theology of the ’70s and ’80s, And they are morally uncompromising. Granted, this faithfulness in the Third World church isn’t helping Christianity in the West – at least not yet. But it does shed some sobering light on the arrogant disposition of liberals and secularists who like to trump their so-called victory over Christianity. The notion that history has reached its climax with the apostasy of the West – that we are somehow living in a post-Christian era – is an indication not of how things actually are, but of how inflated our own sense of self-importance and geopolitical arrogance has become.”

The Church in the USA suffers from a “will-o’-the-wisp” constituency. You believe they are really there but when you head toward them one cannot find them. Despite the secularism and casualness of the professing Christian, the Biblical Christian, not unlike Gideon’s diminished army, will persevere and stand for Christ and His Kingdom. The Biblical Church and Christian is God’s idea, His plan is for a people who are uniquely His own. When Jesus Christ said the words recorded in Matthew 16:18 (ESV), (“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”), He had a definite plan in mind for the Church to function in a practical and expanding worldwide way. The ultimate goal and purpose is found in the words recorded in passages such as Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10, Psalm 72:11, all of which indicate: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is Biblical reality. Consider these things with me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MYOPIC MISMANAGEMENT

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In 1969, Laurence Johnston Peter authored the humorous book, “The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong.” Envision Software, Inc. Newsletter states: “The Peter Principle is the concept that in bureaucratic organizations, new employees typically start in the lower ranks, but when they prove to be competent in the task to which they are assigned, they get promoted to a higher rank, generally management. This process of climbing up the hierarchical ladder can go on indefinitely, until the employee reaches a position where he or she is no longer competent. At that moment the process typically stops, since the established rules of bureaucracies make it very difficult to demote someone to a lower rank, even if that person would be a much better fit and happier in a non-management role. The net result of this principle is that most of the management levels of a bureaucracy will be filled by incompetent people, who got there because they were quite good at doing different (and usually, but not always, easier) work than the work they are currently expected to perform.” According to L. J. Peter’s concept, “Work is accomplished by those employees who have not reached their level of incompetence.”

It is easy to bridge this concept over into other areas of endeavor. There is application for the civil-cultural  government, as well as the ecclesiastical forms of governing that oftentimes has been influenced by a cultural intrusion into how spiritual effort is to proceed in a secular culture. At present, we are witnessing an illustration of Myopic Mismanagement on the part of the civil-cultural government. It is Myopic in the sense that it is dysfunctional. It causes individuals in positions of power and authority to be “unable or unwilling to act prudently; shortsighted; lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded” (dictionary.com). In terms of Mismanagement, they are demonstrating how they manage incompetently and/or dishonestly. The major issue is that an equally incompetent number of the conditioned citizenry continue to elect and reelect those who will promise them the most from the largesse of the civil and cultural government. In that sense, the conditioned citizenry itself has become myopic so they can benefit from the immediate without any thought of a looming civil-cultural bankruptcy where nothing is left to promise or distribute. 

We are witnessing Myopic Mismanagement play out currently as the Prime Minister of Israel has come to this country to express the concern of Israel regarding the Nuclear capability of Iran, a nation that has stated their objective to totally annihilate Israel so that it no longer exists. Israel, a nation of 7.5 million people, is surrounded by nations containing more than 100 million Arabs. Geographically, Israel is comparable in size to the State of New Jersey. New Jersey is the 5th-smallest US State, covering about 7800 square miles or 20,000 square kilometers.The land currently controlled by Israel (including disputed territories) is not much larger. Israel in its pre-1967 borders was 8,019 square miles or 20,770 square kilometers, just barely bigger than New Jersey. Some within our civil-cultural government will myopically and foolishly boycott the Prime Minister’s address to the United States Congress. 

The mission and message of the ecclesiastical segment of the populace has itself become compromised by an insipid (without distinctive, interesting, or stimulating qualities; distasteful) accommodation and a readiness-willingness to adapt to the cultural influences. The political factions with ecclesiastical bodies does not see a Biblical viability for the nation of Israel. One of the misconceptions is that The Gospel came to the Jew first (John 1:11-13; Romans 1:16); the Lament of Jesus as prayed and wept for Israel-Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39); and the lament of the Apostle Paul in the opening verses of Romans 9, 10, 11, where he prayed: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel…” One can see in the social media several negative discussions regarding Israel. Those who raise such dissent may themselves be as myopic as the civil-cultural government. The Bride of Christ, the Church, needs to become more focused on the mission and message the Lord Jesus Christ wants communicated to this generation. The Jew has suffered greatly and still needs to hear God’s message of Shalom through and by Jesus Christ. Consider these things with me!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

VENGEANCE OR RETALIATION

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In recent weeks and months in this nation, there have been several occasions where a form of vengeance or retaliation surfaced and riots ensued. The basic idea of vengeance is “The act of or desire for taking revenge and/or the execution of retributive punishment.” An unarmed young man who posed a threat to a police officer is shot and killed. Without seeking to understand the facts of the case, organizers decide they should stir up riots in the streets. As and when this occurs, some of the rioters use it as an opportunity to burglarize stores and steal from merchants in the immediate area. Why? It is alleged that the public is expressing its frustrations and the many injustices it feels it has had to endure. This similar type of behavior also occurs in many places in the world.

A greater concern is when similar behavior occurs within the visible Church. People become frustrated about some issue and a spirit of vengeance or retaliation becomes evident. It usually results in people being (a) expelled from the church membership, or (b) a local Church entity experiencing division and a split. Without consideration of the implications of such actions, the attitude unfolds with an expectation that other Church entities or people will choose sides and identify with one group of people or the other. Facts usually have very little to do with the action that has transpired. It generally has to do with internal power and who has it, as well as who is in control of the Church entity. Sadly, there is not even an afterthought of the visible Church and its duty to be a credible reflection of the Invisible Church, the Bride of Jesus Christ. The idea of the visible Church being "holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4) is not even considered as the controllers and power people exert their will to achieve their goals. The Church becomes divided and a small group establishes a Church entity so that they can control and exert their will. 

Lost in all of this is a desire for oneness within the visible Church. A principle of governance that has never been known, or is either forgotten and ignored is the prayer of Jesus Christ for the visible Church. In John 17:20-21, Jesus is praying to the Heavenly Father and says: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The world today is losing interest in the message and manner of the visible Church because they fail to see the reality that Jesus Christ was desiring! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ gives a guideline on how the visible Church should learn to pray. The words that immediately follow His prayer guideline are universally ignored. Matthew 6:14-15 indicates the attitude and behavior that a follower of Jesus Christ must exhibit, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Why should these words of Jesus be implemented and adhered to today? It is because fractured application of God’s Word has repercussion and consequence. One consideration is given in Ephesians 4:27, “…do not give the devil a foothold.” Another primary area is stated in Ephesians 4:30-32, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” While individuals may claim this is the practice and reality in their Church now, they are living in a realm of deception because they fail to “forgive, just as God in Christ forgave you.” When you find a Church that is living according to God’s Word in these basic practical areas, you will find a Church that people will want to attend. What most people find obnoxious to them in local Churches is the degree of facade and hypocrisy that is packaged as the life and message of Jesus Christ. The Church is long overdue to amend its ways (Jeremiah 7:5, 26:13).The Church needs to live by the Standards of God and not the whims or devices of man. Consider these things with me. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

PREVARICATION PROPENSITY

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We live in a day when unvarnished truth is held in obeisance and deceit, deception, lies and falsehood are easily embraced. For some, prevarication (a false or deliberate misstatement, lie) comes too easily. Those who have become easy prey for prevarication begin to manifest a propensity (a natural inclination or tendency) to perpetuate something other than truth. Within any culture, there will peaks and valleys regarding justice, righteousness and truth. Isaiah 59:12-15 (NASB) may be an apt description for our contemporary culture: “For our transgressions are multiplied before You (the Lord), and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: Transgressing and denying the Lord, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.”

If you take the time to search the internet for submissions about truth, you will find that many are content with it being subjective. It allows that it is more a philosophical approach and one persons truth may be deemed better to someone else’s truth. The subjective truth opens the door for everyone to do whatever they subjectively embrace as being truth for them. It has become too easy for some people to have no qualms when it comes to looking directly into your eye (or a television camera) while their mouth is spewing deceit, misstatement and lies. There is an old statement attributed to Sir Walter Scott that indicates: “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” Any parent can identify that statement as they endeavor their child (or children) to be a person of good character and integrity. However, with wide-eyed innocence, our children will spin a yarn about some misdeed or misleading statement in their attempt to get the parent to believe their prevarication. 

Where did this prevarication propensity originate? At the creation of the world, God created a man and woman, placing them in a perfect atmosphere where they could willingly comply with just one command/directive. Even in that perfect atmosphere, since the man and woman were created with a will and conscience, there was the innate possibility for making a wrong choice. When Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, he included the following (I Timothy 2:9-15, NASB): “…A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness…For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression…” Paul did not elaborate on the perfect atmosphere of The Garden of Eden nor the presence of the serpent who instigated the temptation to which Eve succumbed. 

Throughout various stages of Biblical History, the following is recorded about God: Hebrews 6:17-18, “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” In a similar way, in Titus 1:1-2, “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago…” There are other references to consider: Numbers 23:19, I Samuel 15:29 and Romans 3:4. In a very basic way, Jesus declared (John 14:6), “I Am the way, the TRUTH, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 18:37-39 demonstrates how easily men can avoid the truth, even when the One Who is TRUTH is standing in direct proximity to the interrogator. How sad when one, either philosophically or pathologically, would persist in asking: “What is Truth?” You must believe in Jesus Christ Who is the only way, the on;y truth and the only life! Consider these things with me.