"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

What Is Truth? Is Truth Objective or Subjective?

The video below is the testimony of a 52-year-old man who "identifies" as a six-year-old girl. He first declared to his family his identity as a female, but in time, he came to "identify" himself as a six-year-old girl, seeking adoption by parents so he could live with sibling sisters who were actually 8 and 9 years old.

You can't make this up. It's the culture in which we now live.

In the You Tube comment stream of this video a person sarcastically asked, "I'm a 16-year-old who identifies as a 65-year-old man. Can I get my Social Security check now?"

We laugh, but if truth is what we imagine in our minds, or "identify" with in life - whether it be gender, age, race, or any host of other measurements - then there is no truth but that which floats in the minds of those who speak.

Of course, in a society where truth is subjective and not objective, chaos ultimately reigns. I call it the tyranny of truthlessness.

America has now reached this type of tyranny.

You are what you imagine. You identify with what you envision. Truth is within you, never an objective standard from without.

That's why people can say racism is "evil and immoral" (which it is according to the Bible), but call "hateful" those who say "transgenderism, homosexuality and pedophilia" is also evil and immoral (which it is according to the Bible).

Why is racism evil but not homosexuality?

Who decides?

When Pilate stood before Jesus he asked the question, "What is truth?" (John 18:38).

I propose until a person answers that question satisfactorily, he or she will simply be living a lie.

The Principles of Grace and Effective Leadership

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "Don't be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good." I understand the sentiment behind that aphorism, but the longer I live, the more I believe that earthly good only comes from people who are heavenly minded.

Let me illustrate.

Some wrongly think that the principles of God's grace to sinners in Jesus Christ are truths for another world, another time. The world's best leaders, they say, have no need for understanding what it means to be completely forgiven, totally accepted, unconditionally blessed, and eternally loved by their Creator. 

This kind of thinking is wrong.

The most effectual leadership in the world today - whether it be in politics, business, the church, or the home - is leadership exhibited by those who understand their identity is derived from God's grace to them and not from peoples' perceptions of them.

Recently a pastor friend of mine (let's call him Jake), sent to his church trustees an email. It seems the trustees wanted the church to go a particular direction in ministry, a direction with which Pastor Jake disagreed. He sent me a copy of his email "to ask my opinion" of what he'd written to the trustees.

Rather than replicate the entire email (and thus disclose the persons and church involved), I want to only focus on the first sentence and the last sentence of Jake's email to the church trustees to demonstrate Jake's poor leadership.

Jake began by writing:
"I don't want you to feel like I..." 
And Jake ended his email by writing.
"I'm afraid that you will think ..." 
So I responded to Jake and gave him my thoughts. 

I told Jake that his opening and closing sentences contained language that would be helpful for him to lose if he wished to be an effective leader.

To say or write I don’t want you to feel like I” or "I'm afraid that you will think" is an attempt to control what other people feel or think. This is not good leadership. It displays a very self-absorbed focus. Leaders lead. Leaders do what needs done - whether people feel favorable towards them or not - because that which needs done is right and good. In other words, principles are always more important to leaders than perception. A leader will always desire to know what others feel or think, but an effective leader is never threatened by what others feel or think. 

In order for Jake not to write about his "fear" or "worry" over what others think or feel, Jake has to come to the place where he lets people think or feel whatever they wish.  Only a secure person can let go of controlling the thoughts and feelings of other people. Words are conduits to one's thoughts. Jake's writing indicates he is more focused on peoples' perception of him than he is God's grace to him. He's not leading others effectively.

Whenever Pastor Jake vocalizes his concern and worry over how others perceive him, or what others feel or think, he's not living by the foundational principles of grace.  People should always be free to feel or think for themselves. A good leader is never threatened by the thoughts or feelings others. I’m not saying Jake isn't a leader;  I’m saying Jake needs to learn how to lead more effectively.

We are not in control of how others feel about us or what others think about us. Ever.

You and I may do everything “just right.” We may bend over backwards, jump through hoops, say it “just right,” do it “just right” (or at least the way we think others would have us do it), and those we desire to “feel” something good about us,  or “feel” comfortable with us, or “feel” like we’ve done an amazing job, may actually “feel," "think" or "perceive" us in a manner differently than we would like.

Since you are not in control of how other people feel about you – your spouse, your parents, your children, your friends, your boss, etc… - then the only true anchor in life is to rest in what the Bible says God thinks about those who embrace His Son.

God's approval is all that matters. In Christ you have all the forgiveness, all the acceptance, all the approval, all the love, all the guidance, all the blessing, all the purpose, all the identity your life will ever need. Believing that will "cut the cord" of dependence on other's approval.

Resting in God's grace to you in Jesus Christ leads to effective leadership because you come to trust and rest in what He feels, thinks and perceives about you. And what God thinks of you is "all good and favorable" because of His grace and love to you in the gift of His Son. Therefore, when you rest in God's grace, you can come to the place where you say to yourself:
“I cannot orchestrate the feelings of others; I am only in charge of what I feel. I cannot seek to control what others think; I can only order my thoughts. I cannot organize events in order for people to like or accept me; I can only come to a place of inner contentment and acceptance within me, regardless of what others think, feel or believe about me.”
I told Jake when he can start applying the principles of grace in his life rather than just preaching grace from the pulpit, he will come to the place where what he writes and what he says to his lay leadership is different. For example, he would open his email 

I do not desire to ... " rather than "I don’t want you to feel "

Do you see the difference? In the first sentence his is telling others what he desires. In the second sentence he is telling others what he wants them to feel. Effective leaders never try to control what others feel, but will always clearly state what he or she (the leader) feels and thinks, while at the same time allowing others to feel or think differently, even if those feelings or thoughts are "disappointment in," "disapproval of" or "disapprobation for" the leader.

I also told Jake how to effectively close his email. 

Jake should write, "It’s not my desire to be a negative person instead of “I'm afraid that you will think this email is negative in tone.”

Again, an effective leader learns to communicate by telling others what he thinks, what he feels, what he perceives, and learns to listen to what others think, what others feel, and what others perceive without trying to control without trying to manipulate, manage or control what others think, feel, or perceive.

An effective leader will gather data and do what is right because the leader believes what needs to be done is best on the basis of principle. 

When Jake stops thinking or worrying about what others feel; what others think; and what others perceive and simply lives his life by doing what he does because it’s the right and good thing to do – regardless of what others say or believe about him doing it, - he will become a superbly effective leader.

Those are the kind of leaders we need in politics, business, the church, and the home.

So only when we focus on heaven and understand who we are by the grace of God will we be of any earthly good. 

Henry Stanley's Life of Idealism and Self-Sacrifice

I have recently become infatuated with the story of Henry Morton Stanley, the reporter who searched the heart of Africa and found the long-lost African missionary David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone on November 10, 1871, Stanley allegedly uttered the immortal words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

I've written on Henry Stanley before, and I am currently reading everything Stanley wrote and every book I can get my hands on that has been written about him

One of the things that strikes me about Henry Stanley is his willingness to live a sacrificial and idealistic life, laying aside temporal pleasures for what he believed to be a greater good. Stanley biographer Tim Jeal, in his superb Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer, tells how Livingstone's desire to remain in Africa after being found by Stanley, in order to finish his lifelong missionary work - instead of leaving the continent for personal fame and fortune - had a profound influence on Stanley.
Livingstone’s belief that he had been called to serve Africa made a lifelong impression on Stanley, influencing his own behavior and attitudes. When Livingstone told him, ‘I have lost a great deal of happiness I know by these wanderings. It is as if I had been born to exile,’ Henry felt a bond of fellow feeling. He too believed he had been born to labor and achieve rather than to enjoy his life. In January 1870, Stanley had discussed the purpose of human life with the rich and sybaritic American consul in Cairo, Mr G.C. Taylor. Taylor had argued that, since man was fated to be ‘dust like the beasts’, a life of idealism and self-sacrifice made less sense than a life of pleasure-seeking. Stanley had disagreed. Even if life could be proved to be purposeless, he told Taylor, it would still matter to him personally: ‘for my own spirit’s satisfaction … It is in my nature to toil, as it is in the other’s nature to enjoy.
I had to look up the word sybaritic. It means "loving luxury or sensuous pleasure." People remember the names of Livingstone and Stanley, but few have heard of G.C. Taylor.

It seems to me that a life of idealism and self-sacrifice ultimately is the greatest pleasure of all, but it is only borne from a spirit born-again by the grace of God.

The Best Police Officers Are In Fact Peace Officers

Throughout the 1800's all the way into the decade of the 1960's, "peace officer" was the term most often in America to refer to sheriffs, constables, troopers, marshals and any officer of the state or nation responsible for upholding the law. Today the old moniker of "peace officer" has been almost eliminated in popular usage, replaced by “police officer” or even “law enforcement officer.”

Sheriff Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show is perhaps the best  example of what it once meant, at least to most Americans, to be a peace officer. Of course the Andy Griffith show was fictional, but it was based on the reality of how Americans viewed officials tasked with enforcing the law within a community. They kept "the peace" by being a "peacemaker." Just a few decades ago, most Americans would point to the character of Sheriff Taylor as the ideal for a "law enforcement official." 

Now, we have police in riot gear, heavy weaponry, masks, and bullet proof vests, often forcing submission on citizens rather than upholding peace in communities. I'm not saying the militarization of law enforcement officials is all the the fault of law enforcement agencies. Not at all. Culture has indeed changed. 

But America would be a better country if our police officers saw themselves as peace officers. 

There are still a few individual models of what a peace officer should like in America, peace officers that work in America's major metropolitan cities in 2017.

My Facebook friend Kiki Cherry introduces us to one via her Facebook post. She shared the story of what happened Friday night, July 28, 2017 when Kiki met Fort Worth Peace Officer Sergeant B. Halford. This encounter with Sergeant Halford beautifully demonstrates for us all the best qualities in a local peace officer. 
We had a very cool encounter last night with one of our Fort Worth police officers.
Doug and I were down on Magnolia street, meeting with one of my awesome young Compassion volunteers at a coffee shop there.
 Afterwards we were loitering in the parking lot and saying our goodbyes when we were approached by a panhandler.
She began telling us a woeful story about being homeless, and sounded truly pitiful and distraught. Just then a police officer walked up.
 He greeted us, then turned to the woman and asked if she needed a ride down to the shelter or help getting some food.
Suddenly her whole demeanor....and even her voice....changed, and she abruptly walked away.
He then turned and explained to us that she is an addict and was looking for money to go get her next fix.
 He spent the next ten minutes sharing with us the plight of the homeless in that area, and how we could engage them in a way that would be genuinely helpful but still compassionate.
I was impressed with his servant heart. He knew each of them by name, and seemed to be well acquainted with their stories. Yet he cared enough to not want to enable them in their addictions. He explained to us how giving money can be one of the worst responses to have and can hurt more than help. He also encouraged us that the best thing to do is to volunteer and invest in local churches and organizations that minister to the homeless.
We found out that when he was off-duty he routinely volunteered, even picking up food to take where there was a need and giving rides to shelters. He also owned a small construction company, and would often hire people he encountered and actively assist them to get back on their feet.
We asked him to tell us some practical ways that we could help. I had one of my Compassion business cards on me, and gave it to him so he could send us some information.
By the time we got home, there was already an email in my inbox....with attachments listing organizations that helped the homeless, and practical tips for how to engage in our community.
Thank you, Sergeant Halford, for your service to our city, and for giving of your time to educate us last night. You are definitely one of Fort Worth's finest!
Well done, Sergeant Halford. May your tribe of Peace Officers increase!