Thursday Column: Captain’s Blog
What do Svalbard, Norway, Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska, and Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland have in common? They’re all cold, isolated, beautiful, and quiet. Their remoteness alone is what drives at least part of their economies! The absence of “noise” is extremely attractive to a lot of people. Getting away from all the hatefulness, conflict, combat, and general unrest of society sounds like a dream!
God expects Christians to be getaways just like these cities.
“…lead a quiet life and handle your own business…” (I Thess 4.11). “…lead a quiet, calm life defined by godliness and dignity” (I Tim 2.2). “…be at peace with everyone” (Rom 12.18).
“…live in peace…” (II Cor 13.11).
Someone looking to get away from the noise of our world may look to the spiritual. When these outsiders look into our spiritual families, what do they see? A way to escape the world by seeking God, or more of the same old noise they were trying to get away from?
“Do you want to live a great life? Watch your mouth, and don’t try to fool people. Run away from evil, practice good. Look for peace and chase it” (I Pet 3.10-11).
“Speaking your truth means that you stay true to who you are, whether it’s your feelings, opinions, or morals. Don’t hide what you feel for the sake of someone else’s approval of you, it shouldn’t work that way (sic). Rather, you should stay true to your own opinion and voices, no matter what anyone else may think. While it’s easier said than done, you won’t ever regret speaking your truth” (source). Look at website after blog post, philosopher after supposed pundit, and you get further definitions of what people mean to convey by the phrase, “Speak your truth.” How did the phrase originate?
Huffington Post credits Oprah Winfrey in a speech at The Golden Globes in 2018. She advocated creating positive change by “speaking your truth.” The article’s writer, Claire Fallon, seemed shocked and aghast at backlash to the phrase. Like Byron Tau of The Wall Street Journal, who tweeted, “Oprah employed a phrase that I’ve noticed a lot of other celebrity (sic) using these days: ‘your truth’ instead of ‘the truth.’ Why that phrasing? ‘Your truth’ undermines the idea of a shared set of common facts'” (1/8/18). She quoted Joseph A. Wulfsohn, who objected, “When we rely on ‘our truths,’ we get to choose what to believe.” Fallon defended the phrase as an exhortation for the less powerful to find their own voices and credited a 1927 poem as the genesis of the phrase, in a Max Ehrmann poem entitled “Desiderata” (source).
So while there can be great merit and value to one respecting the feelings and opinions of others or advocating for those without power, there is inherent danger in the very idea of individual, subjective truth. In her excellent book, Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey quotes Udo Middelmann, who said we learn about objective truth from the time we are born. She then writes, “When a baby crawls to the edge of the crib and bumps his head against the wooden bars, he learns in a painful way that reality is objective. When a toddler tilts his high chair back until it falls to the floor, he learns that there is an objective structure to the universe. Reality does not bend itself to our subjective desires–a lesson that can be painful to learn even for adults. Thus we can confidently reject any philosophical position that leads to subjectivism. Why? Because it fails to account for what ordinary experience teaches us day by day. It is in tension with the data of experience” (395).
Our calling is much higher than being true to self, following our own feelings, opinions, and morals. So much can distort and deform these things–selfishness, fleshly desires, improper and immoral guides and guidance, etc. (cf. Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-19). Truth is transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the material universe) and immutable (unchanging over time or unable to be changed).
Men try to suppress it (Rom. 1:18), exchange it for a lie (Rom. 1:25), and disobey it (Rom. 2:8). But, philosophy defeats the idea of subjective truth (“your truth” and “my truth”) and Scripture makes clear that there is only one truth. You don’t have your truth and neither do I. God reveals the truth to us, and He holds us accountable to follow it.
It is likely the most willfully ignorant who would deny that we are entering a period of inflation. Various issues are causing this, such as rising fuel costs and a growing sector of society preferring unemployment to gainful employment. To illustrate this, look no further than our ports. There are dozens of ships parked off our coasts with an insufficient workforce to unload the products at the docks. COVID-19 indeed gets its share of the blame for this but, despite the pundits, cannot account for it all. Thus, we are beginning to see shortages of certain products and empty shelves in stores. For example, we will be running out of certain products again while it sits on a ship just hundreds of feet from our shore. Thus, we may well experience deprivation in the shadow of plenty.
This deprivation happens with greater frequency within our collective spiritual lives. For example, how many households own unread Bibles? I would venture to guess that there are many. So here we have people sitting in the presence of plenty but suffer for a “lack of knowledge” (cf. Isaiah 5.13; Hosea 4.6). The Israelites ended up in captivity because of a similar choice of ignoring God’s Word. We cannot suppose that a gracious-but-just God would allow those of us living under the New Testament to skate when committing the same offense. Jesus depicted a Judgment scene in His Sermon on the Mount. Do you recall what He said to those crying, “Lord, Lord?” God only allows heavenly entry to those doing the Father’s will (Matthew 7.21-23). And where do we learn of God’s Will? Peter says that God has given us all things about life and godliness (2 Peter 1.3ff). And Paul reminds us that the Scriptures are God-breathed [inspired] (2Timothy 3.16-17). Lastly, Jesus confirms this Word as truth (John 17.17). Indeed, God has left us with a book into which even the angels desire to look (1 Peter 1.12).
So why do people suffer spiritual want? God’s Word sits like those cargo ships, within reach of those who would profit from it. The problem lies in the lack of readers on this side of eternity’s shore. Oh, there are excuses, to be sure. For example, “I’m too busy and cannot find time to read.” Or “I get enough instruction during church services.” But their stores are increasingly empty of what the spirit most needs. Unlike our current economic situation in the United States, where reliance on imports leaves us in a lurch, there is a different reality in the spiritual realm. Since we refuse to partake of the plenty God has supplied, the devil gladly steps in and stocks our shelves for us with the sensual. Since our focus is on the immediate, we don’t notice we’ve traded our soul for that which will destroy us (Matthew 6.19-21; Luke 9.25; Luke 12.16-33).
Get to work (2 Timothy2.15)! Grab that Bible and unload its truth into your heart. Don’t suffer deprivation in the shadow of plenty.
I believe that God exists. I believe that He communicated with His creation by direct contact, messengers, and a series of ancient texts. I believe that He wants His human creation to be with Him after they die. I believe that He expects those who claim to be His to act within the guidelines He set in those ancient texts. I believe that there is life after death and that where we go depends on whether or not we follow this God.
Why do I believe this, though? What reason do I have to believe in something I cannot experience with my senses? I was not there thousands of years ago when the prophets and Hebrews talked to God. I was not there when God came here to teach. I was not there when the authors of the original texts delivered their writings to the early church. The ancient texts translated into English sometimes do not effectively communicate the emotion of the words and concepts in the original language. So why do I believe these things? Why do you believe these things?
Think about this carefully. From Genesis to Revelation the message is clear: God wants His people to exist with Him after time is destroyed. This message was communicated to an impossible variety of people, sometimes separated by hundreds of years, thousands of miles, culture, kingdom, race, and language. There are tens of thousands of manuscripts of these ancient texts in many, many different languages. There are some 25,000 New Testament manuscripts or fragments that are separated by about a thousand years, at least 8 different languages, thousands of miles of geography, and many different cultures. Yet, they are at least 95% accurate to each other. The remaining 5% do not contain a single contradiction; rather, they are spelling errors, slips of the pen, writing on the wrong line, or minor variances (“God said” vs. “He said” or “and” vs. “but”).
Of the rich libraries we have of ancient literature, none can hold even the dimmest candle to the profound accuracy and unity of the scriptures. They could not have been produced by man alone. There had to be Someone not confined by time supervising each person as they wrote. Keep in mind, these ancient cultures did not have the advantage of modern communication. They were almost totally isolated from each other and would have known little of the others’ existence, much less what they experienced or wrote from God. Our Bible has supernatural origins and its contents reveal the nature of our Creator. What I believe comes from this book because I know it is God’s message to mankind. I encourage those who have not already done so to do an in-depth study of the origin of scripture. It is one of the most faith-building studies anyone could undertake. When you know with certainty that what you are reading contains the actual thoughts and desires of God, it bolsters your faith in ways I could not begin to adequately describe.
A qualified fool is someone who lacks wisdom and also tends to have an embarrassing lack of common sense. In the ancient past, being called a fool held a lot of weight and it wasn’t something that was taken lightly. There’s a healthy emphasis placed on the fool throughout the Psalms and Proverbs, and his time in the spotlight is far from flattering. He’s often in sharp contrast to the wise and intelligent person. What may cause some of these passages to sting in a personal kind of way is when they reflect our own actions or inclinations.
Psalm 14 begins stating, “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God.’” Today the atheistic minds that fill the rolls of teachers, scientists, and authors are held in high regard. To some they are seen as the “brains of society” and the pioneers of the future. Evolutionary doctrine may dominate the classrooms and laboratories, but God calls them foolish. They are not “progressive” or “admirable” because they’ve missed or rejected something crucial. The one that denies the existence of a God that they are surrounded by, alive because of, and will be judged by— is the fool. David goes on to state in the same Psalm how God had looked down on the earth to see if anyone had been seeking after Him. When God looks down on our lives what does He see?
Maybe you would never audibly state, “I don’t believe in God!” But we can’t forget that our repetitive actions are those true statements that tell the world what we believe.
We’re blessed with three godly daughters-in-law. Thank you Emily for such a sweet, thoughtful post.
By Emily Pollard
Most people will admit to you that marriage is hard. If someone has told you marriage is easy, they’ve probably never been married. Many married couples will also readily admit that they are still learning after 15, 20, even 30 years of practice. That’s because marriage is just plain hard sometimes. Think about what you’re called to do as a spouse…
*Become one with another person
*Love your spouse unconditionally and selflessly
*Help your spouse grow spiritually
*Submit (as the wife) or lead the family (as the husband)
These responsibilities can be daunting but, aside from our own relationship with the Savior, I can’t think of a more rewarding and God-glorifying relationship than a godly marriage. My husband, Carl, and I have only been married for 4 months. So, I am by no means an expert on marriage, but there are 4 marriage-altering lessons that I have…
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