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The “Truth” has been given to us and if we are willing to embrace it, we have all of heaven to look forward to.

The “Truth” has been given to us and if we are willing to embrace it, we have all of heaven to look forward to.

People like the truth.  Well, that’s not quite right.  I think that it’s more accurate to say that people like the idea of truth… as long as it is something that conforms to their expectations and wishes – which isn’t the truth at all.  Bummer.  Just think!  Folks (generally speaking) want a person to speak the truth when it comes to his own shortcomings (such as a salesperson who tells a potential buyer of problems of consequence in a product) but not when it comes to anything that could be construed as criticism of the hearer – even if it is the truth… such as the fact of an obnoxious attitude that others find offensive (“You’re very rude sometimes.”) or an unhealthy habit that interferes with wholesome or healthy living like smoking or overeating (“I’m concerned about your eating all those deep-fried foods all day long”).

The truth, however, if handled lovingly can be like a light that promotes a cure to the ailments of the psyche and the afflictions of the soul.  Don’t believe it?  Who hasn’t heard that the first step for someone suffering from an addiction is to admit (tell the truth) that he has a problem?  And how can one know the sweet release of forgiving another if she hasn’t admitted (told the truth) a hurt suffered at the hands of another?

Take this to the bank:  Unless one is ready and willing to turn his eyes to the actual condition of his heart, mind, life, and situation, he cannot expect to be freed from the bonds of darkness.  The shackles of denial, obstinacy, pride, selfishness, unforgiveness, and hate remain.

“This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:5-9 ESV).

Living meaningfully and joyfully in the life to which Christ has called us requires that you and I be ready to not just “speak the truth” (quote Bible verses), but to live it.  And we live it by bringing the light of God’s Word into the dark places of our hearts.  We cannot know, for instance, cleansing power of His grace if we do not first concede that there is the filth of selfishness within us; we cannot see His holiness filling up the vessel of our hearts if we keep our eyes shut to the shadows of sin inside us; and we cannot be truly free unless we hold out the chains of our small-minded fears and resentments to Him for His truth to break them.

There are times when truth is wielded like a club to bring a sense of condemnation to another by someone who loves to puff himself up.  “Truth” expressed this way is only a clever lie.  But just because a truth is inconvenient or even painful, it must not be discarded as if it were unnecessary or unwanted.  Yes, the truth hurts sometimes, but without it, we resign ourselves to appalling horrors on earth and eternal damnation afterwards.

Happily, the “Truth” has been given to us and if we are willing to embrace it, we have all of heaven to look forward to.

“Thomas said to Jesus, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going.  How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.  From now on you do know Him and have seen Him… If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 14:5-7, 8:31-32 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Calamities such as the devastating F-5 tornado that sacked much of Moore, Oklahoma provide Believers opportunities to demonstrate love and support in tangible ways for those who are suffering. Such deep and desperate need is the point about which God’s people, Christians, can gather in force to mobilize resources to help those who are homeless, foodless, friendless and clueless about where to turn now and how to begin again.  Pray for the people of Moore, give through your church what resources you are willing to give to help, and, if the opportunity arises, go with disaster relief teams (many churches in cooperation with their denominations can provide you such opportunities).  There is much that can tangibly be done to help those who are adrift in the whirlwind of loss and suffering.

Whenever a disaster of this magnitude strikes, some immediately begin criticizing and condemning the very people who are hurting.  Pray for those who suffer such hardheartedness.  Jesus addressed the hasty rush to condemn others during His earthly ministry when some people believed that judgment had befallen some Galileans who had been targeted by divine wrath.

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5 ESV).

Of what was Jesus speaking when He talked about a lack of repentance resulting in perishing?  He was speaking of the fact that we each are accountable to God for our conduct and we all must repent (turn from sin and self and turn to God).  “The wages of sin is death,” the Bible says in Romans 6:23a.  It is a short-sighted man or woman who looks on the heart-breaking devastation of another and dismisses it with callous self-righteousness, not realizing that there is a hammer to ultimately fall on the anvil of God’s justice for each of us unless we in faith receive what Christ has done on our behalf as the sacrifice for our sin.

As we help one another in times of trial and trouble, we can point to the Lord and encourage each other with the hope that He is for all who have placed their faith in Him.

As we help one another in times of trial and trouble, we can point to the Lord and encourage each other with the hope that He is for all who have placed their faith in Him.

For those of us who have not repented of sin and have not received God’s gift of forgiveness (“the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”, Romans 6:23b), then our situation is terribly grim.  Obviously, based on the words that Jesus Himself spoke, we should be stopping in our tracks and reevaluating our lives… repenting, as it were.  Any of us could at any moment find our entire lives turned upside down and we could lose everything we value – if everything we value is stuff or popularity or comfort.  Building a life on anything that could be taken away at any time is “building on a foundation of sand” such as the one Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 7.

Temporal tokens such as money or gadgets or even retirement funds will one day be gone.  Popularity and acceptance by others are both all well and good, but living for them is a dangerous pastime and the fickle feelings of others are ultimately pointless pursuits since the only opinion that counts ultimately is that of the One for Whom you were created and must give account. And even for those of us who know that our eternal destiny has been secured through faith in Jesus and that we are as utterly forgiven as once we were utterly condemned, there is still here much for us to consider.  If we our building our lives on Jesus Christ, then we, as Jesus describes it, are building on a foundation of solid rock and nothing, not even a physical death itself, can take from us what we have in Him.  This is why, as we help one another in times of trial and trouble, we can point to the Lord and encourage each other with the hope that He is for all who have placed their faith in Him.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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With the bombings of innocents, kidnappings and rapes of neighborhood children, the “trafficking” of human beings as though they were no more than livestock reserved for sexual perversion, and the “harvesting” of stem cells by killing cloned human babies (as if they should have been cloned in the first place), not to mention gruesome and gory atrocities against wee babes at the hands of doctors of death, evil can scarcely be denied.  How does evil gain such footholds in a “civilized society” anyway?  How can it go on for so long undetected and, worse still, be tolerated until some sort of “tipping point” is reached and people finally cry out against it?

Well, it doesn’t happen overnight, to be sure.  Humanity, having been created in the image of the divine, fallen and depraved as it is, has deep within it still a repulsion to the naked revelation of such evil… at least until such quirks of conscience within it are finally suffocated by passions and pride and the human soul is utterly desensitized to evil’s horrible visage.

For there to be such a bountiful bumper crop of blatant atrocity, evil must quietly put down its roots, first in individuals and then, by extension, in various arms of society.  Evil is quite clever and has a strong survival instinct; it takes great pains to “educate” young ones who in time become the perpetrators of arenas in which evil is not only tolerated, but is, in its more subtle forms, applauded.  Over time, the extent and complexity of such evil becomes less easy to identify and less easy to cure and invariably leads to overt eruptions of graphic, if not gruesome, demonstrations of what evil can do and the fear that it fosters.

About two weeks ago, a man that I know was push mowing a large area on which children frequently play.  There is in that place a pile of dry wood put there for use for a bonfire.  He turned a corner and unexpectedly stumbled upon a four foot long black snake as it hurriedly slithered its way from the wood pile toward a thicket of tall brush.  The man weighed in his mind whether or not to let it be, but when he saw in his mind the children that would be playing there accidentally disturbing the snake and being bitten, he quickly caught up with the snake and removed it from the area.

The environmental advantages to having black snakes in the local ecosystem aside (and there are indeed many such advantages), we need to beware of the spiritual serpents ready to wind their not-so-benign coils around our children’s hearts and minds.  Ever since the Garden of Eden, there have been sneaky snakes (as we like to call them in our house) lying in wait with their forked tongues with tantalizing talk for the ears of those whose hearts were unguarded and unprotected.  Ever since the Garden of Eden, men and women have heeded such devilish speeches and given themselves over to things (and persons) that have enslaved them, exploited them, and destroyed them.

The fangs of evil are already deeply embedded in our society and the working of its venom is bubbling to the surface at last in almost overwhelming force.  But take heart.  There is much you can do in ridding the gardens of childhood of the serpents hidden within.

First, remember Who is the stronger.  God’s Word says, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ESV).  Even serpents feel fear and the servants of the “great serpent”, Satan, most especially fear the power and authority of the name of Jesus.

Secondly, keep in mind that those who play with snakes sooner-or-later feel the fangs.  It would be a foolish thing indeed to toy with a Diamondback and it is no less foolhardy to toy with destructive habits, mind-altering substances, sensual activities or messages, and dangerous relationships.

There are good reasons why the Bible has moral instruction in addition to the revelation of God’s love and purpose for you and me.

There are good reasons why the Bible has moral instruction in addition to the revelation of God’s love and purpose for you and me.

He cares enough to warn us of the dangers of listening to the serpents in our gardens and has seen over the ages our propensity for listening to devious and diabolical drivel that appeal to our over-inflated view of ourselves and ideas of independence from God.

Finally, knowing what you do about the dangers that worldly attitudes and behaviors present to your loved ones, do what you can to rid your garden of its serpents.  It is true that you won’t be able necessarily to discover every single one, but if you remove the ones you can, prepare the young ones in your life for an inevitable encounter with the “serpents of the world”, and cover them with prayers that come from a faithful walk with God, you can rest in God’s loving strength to work out His protection and deliverance for them.  Ever wonder why you are who you are in the lives of those you know – children or otherwise?  It is because you have been sent by God to be His vessel in the lives of others.  This means, in part, it is given to you to cooperate with God in the matter spiritual snake removal.  Guard the hearts and minds of your young ones even when it means saying no to certain movies, kinds of music, spiritually dangerous activities, and unwholesome relationships.  Love, when it is genuine, knows when to set boundaries.

“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:12-13a ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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A Letter to my Wife on Mother's Day

Diane, you are, as my wife, the best of friends and an enduring and lavish blessing to me. As a mother to my children, you are an amazing provision from God!

Dearest Diane,

Of all the blessings entrusted to me by God, after Jesus’ atoning work, the gift of His indwelling Spirit, and the Father’s eternal acceptance of me through Christ, you rank as chief.

It’s been said that “a good woman is hard to find,” and Proverbs 31:10a asks the question, “An excellent wife who can find?”  It is abundantly clear to me with the rising of every sun, that I have indeed found (rather, I have been given) a most excellent wife.

You remain to me a treasure far, far “more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10b) and brighten each day a “the delight of eyes” (Ezekiel 24:16).

Your faith, as a precious well-spring of instruction to me and inspiration to those who really know you, flows like a bubbling mountain spring, refreshing those it touches.

Your character as a godly woman is a model of what true womanhood is really about.  Not only are you a truly beautiful woman on the outside, your beauty as it flows from your heart is of “the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very beautiful in God’s eyes” (1 Peter 3:4).

I have watched you time and time again overcome trials, hurts, disappointments, and loss with wisdom, dignity, and faith.  It amazes me how you’ve endured grief and persecution, as well as hardship and even betrayal, with a patient spirit, Christ-like forgiveness, and redemptive grace, thinking not of the harm you’ve received, but of the spiritual need of another.

Thank you for being you, for loving the Lord Jesus, and for honoring and supporting me in our life together (Ephesians 5:22).

I know that you’re not one to look for (or even feel comfortable with) the recognition I would lavish on you (if I could), but, as a truly “virtuous woman”, how can I not praise you “in the city gates” (Proverbs 31:31)?

You are, as my wife, the best of friends and an enduring and lavish blessing to me.  As a mother to my children, you are an amazing provision from God!

In love,

Your husband,

Thom

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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There is something very strange going on in the lives of many Christians I know.  It seems to me that they possess the insidious perception that their Christianity is all about a lifestyle and/or general affiliation, so they therefore experience little in the way of power in their personal lives.  But if it is true that the God on Whom they call indwells their very selves, should there not be a meaningful realization of His power in their circumstances?

That people do not see the power of God for what it is and what it means for the believer is evident in their interpretation of their circumstances and the responses that arise within them.  The despair, the hopelessness, and pattern of bad choices in which they remain all indicate that there is no genuine conviction that there really is help from “on high” to sustain and aid them.

Enslaving habits, the bondage of negative attitudes and the like, as well as the ongoing brokenness resulting from relationships that are dysfunctional are all the horizontal evidences of a lack of right vertical alignment and indicate a divine disconnect.  Such a disconnect, logically, results in their failure to receive such power as could (and should) be delivered to them for utilization in the lives that they lead.

Of course, the term power for many conveys various images and ideas that don’t necessarily coincide with what God Himself necessarily intends for us in the hum-drum rolling along of life as everyday activities and demands incessantly threaten to quagmire us in ruts of boring tedium or stressful anxiety.

For instance, when many use the word “power”, they envision earthquakes, fire, mighty winds, and thunderous booms.  Others see it as a prodigious means to things like financial excess, vocational success, popularity and acclaim, or even divine healings.  Obviously, a God Who can speak entire galaxies into existence and knows when even the smallest songbird falls to the ground can (and does) at times manifest such power according to His loving and eternal purposes.

But the greater miracles and the most profound workings of His power are done invisibly and must be sought for inwardly.  In the Gospel of Luke chapter 5, verses 17-26, the Bible recounts Jesus’ encounter with a man who was paralyzed.  The man’s friends, after a short misadventure involving some minor demolition of a man’s house, lower their paralytic friend in front of Jesus Who promptly does a work of awesome power:  forgiving the man’s sins.  Those witness to the proceedings casually dismiss Jesus’ words (and works) as a “non-miracle” (because they couldn’t see it), but the Lord then backs up what is the genuine outworking of His power (forgiving sin) by a simple restoring of strength to the man’s legs.

“Which is easier,” Jesus says to them in verse 23, “to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?”  The point is clearly that what people wanted in their small-mindedness and lack of authentic spirituality is a short-cut for what faith really is:  daring to trust God on His terms and entrusting ourselves to Him in obedience.

While some will tell you that faith is all about insisting on God doing things our way and in our time, real faith is risking ourselves on believing both in God’s power to turn “all things for good for those who trust Him and those called according to His purpose” (see Romans 8:28) and also in God’s everlasting love that is willing to subject us to temporary measures of suffering in order to produce in and for us (and for His glory) an eternal victory.

Power, as God intends it, is that which turns our hearts to Him and aligns us with His will for our lives.  Not only that, it is also what keeps us on course when winds of doubt and affliction taunt and torment us.

Power, as God intends it, is that which turns our hearts to Him and aligns us with His will for our lives. Not only that, it is also what keeps us on course when winds of doubt and affliction taunt and torment us.

Where does such power come from?  It comes from reading (and believing) His Word, the Bible.  Do you want more of God’s power in your life?  There is only one remedy then for your desire:  obey His Word.

After all, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Tomorrow (Saturday), marks the first game of season of the Integrity League, a non-competitive baseball and softball league designed to teach game basics to young people of our area while facilitating the fundamentally (and eternally) more important goal of sharing the Word of God. Over the course of the season, participants are given an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel.

Our children have had the privilege of participating for several years and I have been allowed to help coach.  Those years when my wife and I had three children playing in three consecutive games made for long Saturdays!

One practical tip we try to teach young players is that they need to be careful to keep their eyes on the ball when batting and catching, and eyes on the target (their team mates) when throwing the ball.  When they bat, looking away from the ball throws their swing off, fails to get their gloves where they need to be when catching, and sends the ball flying wildly when they’re throwing!  Arms and legs are certainly important in baseball, but they’re useless in helping a player playing effectively if their eyes are not focused where they need to be.

The lesson in life for us, of course, is that we gravitate to those things on which we fix our gaze – literally and figuratively.  It is true that our physical eyes focus our energies when throwing or batting.  It is just as true that those things we look to in life in the larger sense also become the primary focal points of our time, resources, and energies.

If we’re busy looking to our friends, for example, then we will live and move in accordance with their fickle opinions.  If we get caught up in all the “glitzy” things that fashion, glamor, or technology offer, then we will spend excessive amounts of time and money in securing such things for ourselves.  If we are enamored with material things and the possession of them, then our minds will be filled with such thoughts continually and we will act accordingly.  Even fitness can overly absorb our concentration and be the ultimate agenda around which we build our lives.

Eyes focused on the right thing, namely Jesus Christ, always produce in the end a home run!

Eyes focused on the right thing, namely Jesus Christ, always produce in the end a home run!

And to what end do such priorities lead us?  What ultimate benefit does having our eyes on such goals bring us?  Peer approval can unexpectedly reverse itself at any moment, material pleasures cannot provide any lasting sense of fulfillment, and even achievement and success can at best only temporarily provide a sense of purpose.  Physical fitness, surprisingly, is only a temporary thing and can only ultimately delay what must inevitably come to each of us… death for death is certainly what we each ultimately face.

That is not to say that these things do not have value (for they each do in their own way and may serve us well if we keep them in their place).  But misplaced priorities, those things on which our spiritual eyes are focused, only lead to the same conclusion:  personal disaster… and there is no exception.

God’s Word in Philippians 3:19a says, “Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame.”   Why is this so?  Because “they are focused on earthly things” (Philippians 3:20b HSCB).

The Good News is that eyes focused on the right thing, namely Jesus Christ, always produce in the end a home run!

“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself” (Philippians 3:20 HCSB).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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