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Blogs I Follow

The Presidents Club

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The Surest Defense Against Evil

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The Triumph of Grace

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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Finishing the Race

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

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Where The Wind Blows

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Doing Great Things

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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The Power of Forgiveness

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Created for Relationships

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The Only Way I Know

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Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

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Our True Home Address

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‘Tis the Season . . . for L-O-V-E

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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Cherry Picking 101

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Love Sweet Love

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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A Matter of Justice

A person’s reputation is a very fragile thing. What has taken a person a lifetime to build can be destroyed in very short order, especially with today’s social media and internet access. It can be destroyed by something the person has actually done or by those wishing to destroy that person for personal gain–as in monetary gain or a career advantage, self-protection, or any number of other reasons to include jealousy, hatred, or rage. Often it can be a combination of both (something the person has actually done and the exploitation of it by others) by taking a person’s vulnerabilities (and we all have skeletons in our closets) and exploiting them in an attempt to totally destroy that person’s credibility and life.

It’s called character assassination (see definition below):

Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group, or nation. Agents of character assassinations employ a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals, such as raising false accusations, planting and fostering rumors, and manipulating information.

Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person’s reputation. It may involve exaggeration, misleading half-truths, or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and can be a form of ad hominem argument.

For living individuals targeted by character assassination attempts, this may result in being rejected by their community, family, or members of their living or work environment. Such acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify, and the process is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can last a lifetime or, for historical figures, for many centuries after their death (quote source here).

A legal definition of character assassination from USLegal.com is as follows:

Character assassination refers to the slandering or vicious personal verbal attack on a person with the intention of destroying or damaging that person’s reputation or confidence. In other words it is malicious verbal assaults designed to damage or tarnish the reputation of a person. Once done, these acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify. Therefore it is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can last a lifetime or, for historical figures and important personalities, for many centuries after their death.

It involves a deliberate attempt to destroy a person’s reputation, especially by criticizing them in an unfair and dishonest way when they are not present. It can also involve exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person, double speak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject’s morals, integrity, and reputation. It is a form of defamation (quote source here).

“Defamation” is defined as “Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person” (quote source here). It is, in fact, a deliberate attempt by others to destroy a person’s reputation and life.

There are a host of Bible characters whose reputations and lives were tarnished by others and sometimes by their own actions, too, yet God never took his hand off of them and used them in a mighty way for his own purposes. Hebrews 11 is filled with the names of people who never lost their faith in God, and it was obvious by their actions (and not by their flaws). Some of those named are Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Samson, David, and others mentioned without names in that chapter.

CharacterAssassinationAs much as we want to maintain and hang on to a good reputation, we cannot stop what others, especially those more powerful or with more connections, can do to us. I’m reminded of what happened to a woman doctor I saw back in August 2011 in a town I used to live in who was essentially “run out of town” and put out of business through a number of truly horrible things that people did to her through no fault of her own (see Dinsmore Defense at this link).

Dr. Dinsmore was recommended to me by an agency that helped those without financial resources but in need of medical assistance in the town where I lived and where Dr. Dinsmore’s office was located (which was a few miles north of where the hospital is located where she had privileges). I wrote about what happened to me three years ago in two back-to-back blog posts titled, From Ripped-Off to Renewal (dated August 25, 2011), and A Very Good Ending to a Very Bad Week (dated August 26, 2011), when I needed medical assistance for an infection I received from a medication I had been given at another “nationwide” clinic but that clinic would not help me. I also sought help at several other clinics in town; however, for one reason or another, they could not help me and I got shuffled around. That is when I decided to go to Dr. Dinsmore’s office.

As it turned out, Dr. Dinsmore was a Godsend to me. After a truly horrible week of trying to find anyone to help me with this infection (caused by a medication given to me at another clinic) she and her staff were the brightest spot in it. She was gracious and kind and only charged me $20 plus lab fees and gave me a prescription for what I needed with four refills. Of course, I had no idea when I saw her of the horror story that she was going through in her own life at that time.

The people involved in destroying her reputation and medical practice were able to literally take away her hospital privileges which effectively shut down her practice (her specialty was/is OB/GYN), and forced her to leave that town where she had practiced for several years. And the main motivation for closing her practice down was money (her story is available at this link). It took her over a year and relocating to the Midwest to reestablish her career and her reputation. And in November 2012, she was exonerated of any wrongdoing by the Governor’s office (see link) but not after substantial financial loss to her and her family which forced her to leave the community and destroyed her reputation as a doctor in that community.

It wasn’t until a year ago in August 2013 when I needed another prescription for this same medication (I rarely ever needed it but for some reason the infection was reoccurring while I lived in that town–I used to joke that it had to be something in the water there) that I went back to her office (two years later), which was surrounded by other businesses, and I discovered it was closed down. When I inquired at a nearby business what happened to her medical practice they said they didn’t know but that she had been closed down for a while. When I got back home I did an internet search for her and, of course, was shocked when I found the website above and how she was literally run out of town all because of greed/money (although after reading the entire website I can see there were other reasons but money was the main one).

Dr. Dinsmore absolutely did not deserve what happened to her. This goes to show that no matter how much we try to keep or preserve a good reputation, others with ill intent and ulterior motives can, quite effectively, destroy a person and their reputation, including their ability to earn an income. Fortunately, in Dr. Dinsmore’s case, she was eventually exonerated by the Governor’s office of any wrongdoing and is still able to practice her profession. Unfortunately, she had to go through hell to get there not to mention substantial financial loss to her and her family as well as her reputation. And all because of vicious people with power who loved money.

We like to say (and it is true) that God is a God of love, but he is also a God of justice. I’m reminded of what the apostle Paul had to say to the Christians in Rome in Romans 2:11–e.g., that God does not show favoritism. Let’s read that passage in context (Romans 2:1-11):

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

Amos 5v24 logoWe cannot guard our reputation from the ill intent of others who only want to harm us in order to receive gain for themselves in come way (often but not always monetary). And we often cannot protect ourselves from the harm that they have caused us, but we can trust ourselves to God who is not only a God of great love, kindness, and mercy, but a God of justice. And it helps to remember the advice and instructions given to us by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:17-21, especially when others have tried or keep trying to destroy us in some way:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I can more than imagine what Dr. Dinsmore went through while she was going through it. And I am grateful that in the midst of all of her losses, she was able to get reestablished again in her profession and move on. And I am grateful that the Governor’s office exonerated her from all the wrongdoing that she was accused of doing that destroyed her reputation and her livelihood in that community, and her accusers did it all for the sake of their own monetary gain.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Timothy 6:10). So why don’t we believe this, especially here in America? Greed blinds people. And destroying someone else to get what we want is never God’s way. Never. . . .

Our dependence upon God is far more valuable than our reputation with man. So the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are we willing to being faithful to God and let him have control of our lives? “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). In other words . . . 

Do we care more about our own personal gain and how to get it . . . 

Or do we care more about God who is our rewarder . . .

The answer is quite revealing . . . .

YouTube Video: “Your Love Oh Lord” by Third Day:

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The Truth About Lying

lyingLying . . . it’s everywhere. Not only do we lie to loved ones, bosses, coworkers, business associates, friends, customers, and “fill in the blank,” . . . we even lie to ourselves. And, “not only is lying fairly common, but for the most part, people are good at it. [For example] most of the lies people tell to their romantic partners never get discovered. In fact, the odds of getting caught in a lie are very low. It is estimated that people get away with almost all of the lies they tell (well over 95%)” (quote source here).

“We are a culture of liars, to put it bluntly, with deceit so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we hardly even notice we’re engaging in it. Spam e-mail, deceptive advertising, the everyday pleasantries we don’t really mean . . . . [and] liars get what they want. They avoid punishment, and they win others’ affection. Liars make themselves sound smart and savvy, they attain power over those of us who believe them, and they often use their lies to rise up in the professional world. Many liars have fun doing it. And many more take pride in getting away with it” (quote source here). And it’s not just about us and “them” (the liars). We all fit into that category as every last one of us tells lies–whether big or small or white or whatever color we want to make them.

When was the last time we took the following verses found in Proverbs (in the Old Testament) seriously? The verses I’m referring to are found in Proverbs 6:16-19:

“There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
–haughty eyes,
–a lying tongue,
–hands that shed innocent blood,
–a heart that devises wicked schemes,
–feet that are quick to rush into evil,
–a false witness who pours out lies
–and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

While lying comes in at #2 on that list, it is also implied as a part of several of the others listed, and God hates them all. And we don’t. And therein lies (no pun intended) the problem.

And just so that we are all on the same page, Wikipedia.com give a really good definition of “lie” which states:

A lie is a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally. A barefaced (or bald-faced) lie is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. A Big Lie is a lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major which will likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense. To bluff is to pretend to have a capability or intention one does not actually possess. Bullshit is often used to make the audience believe that one knows far more about the topic by feigning total certainty or making probable predictions. An emergency lie is a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result. An exaggeration (or hyperbole) occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree (quote source here).

inconvenient truth-reassuring lieI think we all pretty much know what lying is since we all do it so well when we feel the need to lie about something. “Stretching the truth” or telling a half truth (and gossip is full of half truths or outright lies) may make it sound more palpable (really???), but a lie is a lie, folks, even on Sunday morning in church.

In a devotion in Open Windows,” published by LifeWay titled, “Real Neighbors Speak Truth,” Jenna Fleming, pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader, Union Avenue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, hits on this topic right where it hurts. She writes the following (Note: devotional passage reference is Ephesians 4:23-25 and she starts by quoting verse 25):

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” ~Ephesians 4:25 (KJV)

Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” tells of a shepherd boy who deceives villagers into thinking that a wolf is attacking the flock. Time after time, the boy cries “wolf” in an attempt to deceive the villagers. When a wolf does arrive, the villagers do not believe the boy’s cries for help, and the flock is destroyed. If the boy had spoken the truth all along, perhaps the villagers would have believed him and the flock could have been saved.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul told Christians to put away lying. In other words, he said, “Get rid of it! That was your old self.” He spoke of the church as a community, belonging not only to God, but also to one another. When they lied, they sinned against God and were guilty of sinning against the community.

Our lives are to be marked by being completely truthful in our relationships with our neighbors—any other person in general, but especially fellow believers. If we are the least bit deceptive, we must put it away, seek forgiveness, and commit only to speak the truth. You want others to tell you the truth; they want the same from you.

Father, since I have put on the new self, may I be a real neighbor and speak only what is true. I pray that You would help me become a person known as being truthful.

Lying has become so commonplace in our culture–from Madison Avenue, Wall Street, Hollywood, the halls of federal, state, and local governments; in social and all other types of media; in business and education, and right on down to Main Street, USA–that we hardly even think about it when we lie nor do we think about any of the ramifications that may come from it. And yet it is one of the things that God absolutely detests. And for those of us who profess to love God it says a lot about how we really think about God when lying (and that includes gossip) becomes second-nature to us.

In the middle of the 20th Century, A.W. Tozer wrote:

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.

With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshipper in this middle period of the twentieth century (quote source here).

Imagine how much farther we have fallen from the time Tozer wrote those words to now in the second decade of the 21st Century. Sin means next to nothing to us anymore, and “a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us” are thriving all around us and in our own lives, including lying to others and ourselves and believing lies being spread by others.

Galatians 6:7-9 clearly states, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

It behooves us to remember that God cannot be mocked, so the next time we think about lying or spreading a half-truth about someone or something . . .

Don’t do it . . .

‘Nough said . . . .

YouTube Video: “Smiling Faces” (1971) by The Undisputed Truth:

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The Truth Doesn’t Lie

Beware of half truthsTruth has been up for grabs for a very long time now. Dictionary.com defines truth as follows: (1) the true or actual state of a matter; (2) conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement; (3) a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like; (4) the state or character of being true; and (5) actuality or actual existence.

I remember as a kid having my mouth washed out with soap if I was caught telling a lie. For those of us who still use bar soap you know how horrible that tastes (well, even today’s liquid soap would probably have the same affect). It was used primarily as both a punishment and a preventative–to punish us for lying in the first place and to stop us from lying in the future. And, as goes the way of most attempts at behavior modification, it worked temporarily until we found another reason to lie (because the truth, mostly likely, would hurt us personally). And it still goes on today just as it did when we were kids.

Dictionary.com defines lie as follows: (1) a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood; (2) something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture; (3) an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood; (4) the charge or accusation of telling a lie; (5) to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive; (6) to express what is false; convey a false impression.

I’m sure we can all relate to that definition; however, we have perfected an art of lying that has invaded–on a massive scale–all levels of society: the art of telling “half truths.” We all can shake our heads in agreement when we think of all the “half truths” that are spewed forth by our politicians (I think the days of honest politicians died with Honest Abe”–Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president who was assassinated in 1865). Half truths ring the halls of our national, state and local governments; in businesses of every type; and in the halls of academia (well, maybe not so much in the sciences, after all, math is still math but we can still spread half truths by manipulating statistics) and it starts in kindergarten and continues right on up through post-doctoral studies. It also has invaded our churches or religious belief systems, and is alive and well in just about all of our relationships with other people. And . . . we convince ourselves that telling a “half truth” isn’t as bad as telling an outright lie (well, sociopaths notwithstanding). And if we think we don’t get caught in it’s trap, here’s the perfect example of a “half truth”: gossip–you know, that “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others” (quote source here) that gets exaggerated way beyond any truth from the originating statement.

Dictionary.com defines “half truth as follows: (1) a statement that is only partly true, especially one intended to deceive, evade blame, or the like; and (2) a statement the fails to divulge the whole truth.

Hmmmm . . . “intended to deceive, evade blame; failure to divulge the whole truth.” Sounds like most conversations we have nowadays. Lying (which is really all that a “half truth” is) is so commonplace that we don’t even flinch when we lie anymore. It just rolls off our tongues, especially if it makes us look good at the expense of someone else, or if it will win us “brownie points” with whoever we are trying to impress. Well, there are any number of reasons why we lie . . . hundreds of reasons, actually. And mostly, it’s because we don’t like the truth, or we don’t want to deal with the truth, or we want to hide the truth. And lying (or telling “half truths” if it makes us feel better to state it that way) is just as common among Christians as it is anyplace else in our society.

A.W. Tozer, a Christian pastor, spiritual mentor, and prolific writer who died in 1963, stated the following:

“The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us… The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them” (from “The Knowledge of the Holy,” quote source here). [A PDF copy of the The Knowledge of the Holy” is available by clicking here–it is 81 pages.]

I am the way the truth and the life“The low view of God . . . is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us.” If we are Christian (and I know not everyone is, but I primarily write to a Christian audience), that statement ought to give us pause for some serious thought. Oh, I know we have those great “worship” times in church on Sunday morning when we sing our hearts out to the Lord or while listening to Christian music at home or in the car or elsewhere (and I’m a big fan of music so I’m not knocking it at all) but do those times of worship have any affect on how we live our lives or treat others (including coworkers, bosses, family members, and everyone else we come into contact with) for the rest of the week? Does God only matter to us in church, or at those times we allot to Him during the week (“scantcomes to mind) and do we relegate God to the back shelf of our lives until next Sunday morning? Folks, we are talking about the Creator of the entire Universe, and we treat Him like we’re going to a football game to get pumped up for “our side” for a few hours and then go back to living life any way we want again until the next time we go to back to get “pumped up” again.

And our “low view” of God is killing us . . . .

Do we take seriously these words from Proverbs 6:16-19 (MSG), which states the following (read them slowly):

Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:

~eyes that are arrogant,

~a tongue that lies,

~hands that murder the innocent,

~a heart that hatches evil plots,

~feet that race down a wicked track,

~a mouth that lies under oath,

~a troublemaker in the family.

When was the last time we heard a sermon on that portion of Scripture? Over the past several decades our Christianity has become so “us” focused that the “god” we say we worship doesn’t look anything like the God in the Bible. And there is only one God. So who exactly are we worshipping?

This one question might help us to get our focus back . . . how do we treat our neighbors, or a complete stranger, or widows, or orphans, or those less fortunate, or the homeless we cross the street to ignore, or folks we gossip about, or even someone who has that job we really want and we’re willing to screw them over to get it? In other words, are we living a lie by the way we live our lives? Who is the god we really worship? Is it the God of the Bible, or is it a god of our own making?

Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” The ONLY way there is to really know God is to know Jesus Christ, who is God’s only Son. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, you can’t know God. And Jesus has a lot to say about how we should be living our lives if we are truly His disciples, but you can’t learn how to do it without a real, vital, and living relationship with Jesus Christ that comes from reading the Bible and praying. And reading the Gospel of John is a good place to start.

If we’re looking for truth, here’s truth from 1 John 1:1 – 2:2 (NIV):

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (vv. 6-7). The way we live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ does matter. And it matters right now. And the power to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ is in our relationship with Jesus Christ . . . a relationship that isn’t put on a shelf most of the week between Sunday mornings worship services.

Walking in darkness means living life on our own terms while giving “lip service” to the One we claim to love and follow. It is, in fact, living a lie and we cover it up with half-truths. Jesus stated in John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

And that’s the only truth there is . . .

YouTube Video: “Gotta Serve Somebody,” sung by Shirley Caesar:

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Taking a look at the beauty around us

Perception

Photography. Life.

ILLUSTRATION AGE

THE ULTIMATE RESOURCE FOR ILLUSTRATORS

The Elliptical Saloon

Weblog for WhiteHouseMuseum.org

Thought For the Day

Bringing whatever stirs my heart

A Breath of Fresh Air

"Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God." Philippians 2:15

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Tracking events and trends in Israel, the U.S., Russia and throughout the Epicenter (the Middle East & North Africa)

ForeWords

Lectionary Musings within the Community of Christ

Of Dust & Kings

Empowering Faith. Transforming Culture.

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

"We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives" 2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message

gracefully50

On your birthday: count your candles, count your years, count your blessings.

lilies, sparrows and grass

"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works." Psalm 26:7

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