Archive for May, 2013

A reader wanted me to write more on “Can You Handle the Truth?”

Let me start with an example of how I have struggled to handle the truth. In recent years, I have often chosen to hide from myself the fact that I am balding in the back of my head. This deception makes me feel more worthwhile and acceptable.

However, my wife happened to take a picture of the back of my head recently. I was faced with a choice. Do I believe my feelings or God’s truth that my worth is based on being his son?

I chose to believe God’s truth, and thanked him that he would never reject me. I will never be diminished in any way by a failure to have hair.

I resist the truth that I am balding because my worth is still tied to looks deep within me. I am not handling the truth when I look to hair instead of God’s head-over-heals love for me for my worth. I am rejecting the truth that how much hair I have has nothing to do with my worth.

However, if we want a successful life, we must be committed to knowing and living truth.  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). But as Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

One place to look for truth is the Bible. It is loaded with truth. In fact, any “truth” that conflicts with the Bible is not truth (John 17:17).

From the Bible we learn the truth of how God sees us. How he sees us is wonderfully different from how we often see ourselves. He is head-over-heals in love with us (Ephesians 3:18). Can you handle this truth?

Another important place to look for truth is in knowing ourselves. This helps us to know when we are not handling the truth. This helps me to know that I am putting too much importance on having hair.

So, why is truth so hard for us to handle? Why do many of us choose to live in darkness in so many areas of our lives?

One reason is that we came from darkness. We lived in this darkness until we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. Until we came into the light, we accepted many lies as truths. Even now, many of these lies still control us.

Also, we have been trained by our homes, schools, and the culture in general to live many lies. One big lie is that we can make it on our own. We do not need God for we can do a better job of making life work without him.

This training makes it difficult to handle the truth. When we are used to muscling our way through life making things happen, we will have a difficult time handling the truth that “apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) This means that we can do nothing that will stand the test of time unless God leads the way (I Corinthians 3:10-15).

Ask God to show you a truth that you are finding difficult to handle. Why do you think that this truth is so difficult for you to handle?

Next week we will talk more about why it is important to handle the truth and how to do it.

Read Full Post »

Our culture teaches us to make things happen. Be a leader! Then we will become an important person.

But God does not want us to make things happen. He wants to make things happen. He wants us to cooperate with him in making things happen (Matthew 11:28-30).

Sometimes I have waited for God to make things happen. For instance, I waited for God to provide me with a wife. He finally made things happen when I was 31 by bringing into my life a wonderful Christian lady.

I cooperated with him by following his guidance and relying on his support during the courtship process. We just celebrated our 36th anniversary of a good marriage!

However, I have not always waited for God to make things happen. Several years ago I wanted to get promoted. I foolishly believed that I would be a more important person if I were promoted.

So, I took matters into my own hands and began adding responsibilities to my job in order to get my position upgraded. And I succeeded!

But I actually failed. I had so many responsibilities I could not keep control of the organization. I suffered through the humiliation of a demotion that left me in a lower position than when I started. I tried to make things happen without God and suffered for it.

God promises us that we can make anything happen that he wants to happen through his strength (Philippians 4:13). He also consoles us that we are already important and do not need to make things happen (Isaiah 43:4).

We are not the only ones who try to make things happen without God.

Abraham jumped the gun and did not wait for God to provide Isaac as the son that he promised. Instead, Abraham tried to make it happen by having Ismael first (Genesis 16).

As many of you know, Ismael became the father of the Arabic nations. Israel has been suffering ever since. There are consequences for not letting God make it happen.

Saul tried to make it happen too. He did not wait for Samuel to arrive and make the burnt offerings as commanded by God. Instead, he jumped to the gun and made the offerings himself. He lost the throne over that foolish decision (I Samuel 13).

So, why are we prone to try to make things happen? Why don’t we wait on the Lord and make things happen together?

It is not hard to understand why. We have been well trained to make things happen. Until God came into our lives, we were the only ones who could make things happen. This habit of making things happen without God still persists after we become Christians (Romans 7: 14-25). We often like it that way too for it appeals to our pride.

So, how can you stop trying to make things happen without God? What is one thing you can do today to grow more in your partnership with God in making things happen?

May I suggest that you ask God to show you one thing in your life today in which you are trying to make happen without his leadership. Ask him what you can do to cooperate with him. And then cooperate with him in making it happen!

Read Full Post »

Do you cling to your past? If you are honest with yourself, you will probably answer “yes.”

A person said to me recently, “I would rather face something known, no matter how many times it has beaten me.”  In his mind, he would rather face the hell he knows, rather than the hell he does not know.

How sad! How limiting! How true it is about us!

I see this tendency in me. In the last year, God has led me to another church home that is a much better fit for the direction that he has been taking me in.

But I want to cling to the church of my past.  I want to stay in the traditions, habits and memories of the past thirty-one years.

But God says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). He does not want us clinging to our churches of the past. Nor, does he want us clinging to our habits of the past.

God has called us to change. He wants us to stop clinging to the old ways and learn new ways (Ephesians 4:22-24). He wants us to be a disciple. He wants us to be a learner of his ways.

God wants to take us on an exciting adventure of change. “I am the Good Shepherd. Surely goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life” (Psalm 23). Following God is not hell. It is growing in the experience of his love and power.

Yet, we cling to the past. We do not want to take the chance. We cling to the lowlands instead of choosing to soar with the eagles.

Consequently, we fail to please God. “And without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). We fail to accept the fact that he will reward us for refusing to cling to the past. We fail to embrace the rewarding future he offers us.

Look what happened to Israel. They wanted to cling to the past. They refused to embrace the exciting and rewarding life God had for them in the Promised Land. They stayed in the lowlands and died (Numbers 14:26-30).

But what can we do to stop clinging to our past ways? How we can embrace the abundant life that God has for us (John 10:10)?

Fortunately, God does not require much from us to take us on this exciting and fulfilling adventure. We just need to take one step at a time in the direction that he is leading (Psalm 32:8).

As you struggle with letting go and letting God, talk to him about it. Even pour out your heart to him about how hard it is (Psalm 62:8).

Ask God to show you one thing from your past that you are clinging to. Give him that thing and ask him to replace it with something new.

Read Full Post »

The Road Less Travelled

I have been grieving since I heard a couple of days ago that a man who has had a great influence on my life had died. He has been an inspiration and guide to me for over eight years through his books. His name is Dallas Willard.

One of his key teachings concerned the “Easy Yoke.”  He took this teaching from Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and My load is light.” His yoke for us is to take the road of his choosing depending on his guidance and help. Sadly, it is often a road less travelled.

Let me briefly illustrate.

Up until a month ago, I planned to self-publish a book without professional editing. I had received up until then a lot of good help, but it was not at the professional-level.

But I have changed my mind in the last month. I have chosen to take the road less travelled.

In the last month, God has made clear to me that this was his book, not mine. He also wants this book to be professionally edited so that it could do a good job in telling his message.

In addition, he wanted me to give up my ego and seek his glory on this journey. He also wanted me to learn from him about how to write better.

I feel like I am living “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).“

So, why do we often not choose to take the road less travelled? Why do we choose to be weary and heavy-laden (Matthew 11:28)?  Why do we often take the hard road?

One big reason is that we would rather do life our way. We do not want to take the road that God has mapped out for us. We would rather take our own road without his help.

Another reason is that we do not rely on “ You are precious, you are honored and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). As a result, we frantically seek achievement, reputation, and material things to meet these needs. But as the verse above says, we already have these things as gifts from God!

A third reason is that we often take responsibility for the results. We try to make it happen. We can’t trust that God will make it happen. We fail to “Come to Jesus and find rest for our souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

So, how to we take this road less travelled?

One suggestion is that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a prayer. We can come to Jesus and ask him to help us take on his yoke. We next trust what God promises, which is  “I am with you, I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you (Isaiah 41:10).

We then walk with Jesus on the road less travelled.

Rich Kehoe

Read Full Post »

Can You Handle the Truth?

A couple of weeks ago I had a tooth ache so I went to a dentist to have it checked out. After he looked at the x-rays and examined where it hurt, he found nothing wrong.

As he was preparing the paperwork to send me to a root canal specialist, I asked if he thought that this pain could be caused by emotional stress.

He looked at me like I was from another planet. Of course not, it had to be something wrong with the tooth or root canal he told me.

I then explained that I had had a similar pain five years ago and it was not due to something being wrong with the tooth or root canal. I knew this because I had four root canals and one tooth pulled in that year chasing the pain that never went away. Only when I treated the pain as caused by emotional stress did it go away.

He wasn’t impressed.

I wondered if this was yet another example of someone not able to handle the truth.

Now, I am pretty sure it is. The pain is almost gone treating the cause as emotional stress.

I have also wondered if not handling the truth were behind some of the resistance I have met  as I have tried to teach others about spiritual formation that I learned in seminary. Grant you that some of the teachings and practices are new to a lot of churches, but that does not make them wrong?

Does it make any difference that they are biblical and have had a profound effect on my spiritual life? Evidently it makes no difference to some people. I suspect that they cannot handle the truth.

So, what is going on here? Why do we sometimes not handle the truth to our own peril?

There are a lot of reasons for this. I resisted the truth that I needed to work with God, and not for him for a long time. God says, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

This means that I cannot do anything of eternal value without depending on him. This hurts my pride. Therefore, I chose not to handle this truth for many years.

Another big reason we struggle with handling the truth is that it often conflicts with our traditions and habits. The pain of embracing new truth can be too great. So we “become old and foolish kings who no longer know how to receive instruction” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). We become set in our ways.

Yet, God wants us to change. He wants us to grow more like him. He wants us to handle the truth that our pride, complacency, and self-sufficiency need to go.

May we humble ourselves and ask God to “teach us to number our days that we present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This heart of wisdom comes from handling the truth (Psalm 51:6).

Read Full Post »