Thursday, July 27, 2023

It Takes More Than Success to Be a Successful Person


I recently saw a video clip of Rainn Wilson (the actor best remembered as Dwight in the U.S. version of The Office) talking about a period of great disappointment in his life.

He said that he was living his dream life: living in New York City, making a living as an actor, and collaborating with wonderfully-talented people. On paper, he seemed to have it all, but in his heart, he was miserable.

Getting everything he ever wanted and finding that it wasn't what he needed set him on a course to rediscover faith in God and a life of growing spirituality.

And I picked up Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ (compiled and edited by James N. Watkins) and read the following words (written as if Christ were saying them), I was reminded of Wilson's experience:

Why are you consumed with futile sorrow? Why are you weighed down and wearied with unnecessary cares? Desire my good pleasure, and you will suffer no loss. If you seek after this or that, and go here or there according to what seems advantageous to you or what fulfills your own pleasure, you will never be at peace nor free from care. In everything, something will be found lacking, and everywhere there will be somebody who opposes you.

Therefore it is not gaining or multiplying of this or that thing which brings you satisfaction but rather the despising of it and cutting it by the root out of your heart. You must understand the worthlessness of money and riches. You must not chase after honor and fickle praise. These things all pass away with the world, and they bring no joy if the spirit of devotion is missing. Neither will you experience peace if it is sought from anyone or anything but God. If you do not live in me, your life is without true foundation. You can change without me, but you cannot better yourself without me.

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Truth is...The more I look at me and not Jesus, the more miserable I will be.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Using Science to Explain Scripture


Previously on Truth is... I have tried to express a certain correlation between a popular scientific theory and a Scriptural text, with perhaps less-than-stellar results. In an attempt to allow science to give it a shot, I gave ChatGPT the following instruction: "Explain the connection between the scientific concept of dark matter and Colossians 1:17."

This is the result of that exercise.

Colossians 1:17 is a biblical verse that states, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." This verse is often interpreted to refer to God's role in sustaining the universe and maintaining its order.

On the other hand, dark matter is a scientific concept that describes an invisible form of matter believed to make up a significant portion of the total mass in the universe. Although it does not interact directly with light or other electromagnetic radiation, its presence is inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter and the structure of the cosmos.

The connection between Colossians 1:17 and dark matter lies in the idea that both concepts point to an underlying force or presence that holds the universe together. While Colossians 1:17 attributes this role to a divine being (God), dark matter is proposed by scientists as a potential explanation for the gravitational forces that shape galaxies and galaxy clusters.

Although it's important to note that these are two distinct perspectives—one theological and the other scientific—they both touch upon the mysterious nature of the universe and the fundamental forces that govern its existence.

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Truth is...I'm not sure I could say it any better, other than to add that both perspectives involve exercising faith.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

"Well, As I Recall..."


The human memory is not all it's cracked up to be.

From the book, This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin:

In study after study, people are not very good at re-creating a word-for-word account. They remember general content, but not specific wording. Several other studies also point to the imperfection of memory. Seemingly minor interventions can powerfully affect the accuracy of memory retrieval. An important series of studies was carried out by Elizabeth Loftus of the University of Washington, who was interested in the accu­racy of witnesses' courtroom testimonies. Subjects were shown video­tapes and asked leading questions about the content. If shown two cars that barely scraped each other, one group of subjects might be asked, "How fast were the cars going when they scraped each other?" and an­other group would be asked, "How fast were the cars going when they smashed each other?" Such one-word substitutions caused dramatic dif­ferences in the eyewitnesses' estimates of the speeds of the two vehi­cles. Then Loftus brought the subjects back, sometimes up to a week later, and asked, "How much broken glass did you see?" (There really was no broken glass.) The subjects who were asked the question with the word smashed in it were more likely to report "remembering" bro­ken glass in the video. Their memory of what they actually saw had been reconstructed on the basis of a simple question the experimenter had asked a week earlier.

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This makes me think about how sly Satan was when he asked Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” Now, the answer is no...God did NOT say that, but it got Eve asking herself about what the Lord actually DID say and what did he actually mean and did she hear it correctly and the train of doubt has left the station.

Truth is...It's okay to question. It's okay to doubt. But to rely on our own recollections, experiences, or opinions instead of the never-changing word of God is traveling a road to ruin.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

A Prayer of Repentance Leading to Revival


It's been said that every God-sent revival starts with prayer and personal repentance, and “The depth of revival is determined by the depth of the repentance”(Revivalist Frank Bartleman).

I can't imagine a better prayer of repentance to send us in the direction of revival than this one from John Baillie's A Diary of Private Prayer (updated and revised by Susanna Wright):

I Repent

Holy God, I have dedicated my soul and life to you, yet I lament before you that I am still so inclined to sin and so reluctant to obey:

So attached to what makes me feel good, so neglectful of spiritual things;
So quick to gratify my body, so slow to nourish my soul;
So greedy for present delight, so indifferent to lasting blessing;
So fond of being lazy, so unprepared to work;
So soon at play, so delayed at prayer;
So quick to look after myself, so slow to look after others;
So eager to get, so reluctant to give;
So confident in my claims, so low in my performance;
So full of good intentions, so unwilling to fulfill them;
So harsh with those around me, so indulgent with myself;
So eager to find fault, so resentful when others find fault with me;
So unfit for great tasks, so unhappy with small ones;
So helpless without you, and yet so unwilling to be tied to you.

O merciful God, forgive me yet again. Hear this sad account of my failings and in your great mercy blot it out of your memory. Give me faith to lay hold of your perfect holiness and to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ my Savior. Grant that resting on his goodness and not my own I may become more like him, so that my will may be united with his, in obedience to yours. All this I ask for his holy name's sake.

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Truth is...I also repent of merely mouthing these words instead of wrenching them up from my innermost being.