Rediscovering Music: These Simple Truths

Sidewalk Prophets, These Simple Truths, cover artThese Simple Truths is a Christian music album by Sidewalk Prophets released in 2010.

This album I’ve had in my library for quite a bit now but it feels like I’m hearing so many of the tracks for the first time and they are beautiful.

My current favorite: Moving All the While.

In the morning as I wake
I pray my eyes do see
On this narrow road I walk
You have made a path for me

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
You were moving all the while

In sickness and in doubt
All questions that may raise
You claimed victory on the cross
And You filled my lungs with praise

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
You were moving all the while

On a dark and silent night
Above Your beauty shines
And Your peace shall fill the Earth
By Your love we are refined

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
You were moving all the while

And through all the bitter storms
Whatever comes our way
You will guide this vessel home
To live for all my days

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
You were moving all the while

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
You were moving all the while
You were moving all the while

The Law of the Garbage Truck

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven …. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”1

Mike Benson asks, “How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood?

“Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? The mark of a successful [mature] person is how quickly he/she can get back his/her focus on what’s important.

“I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car’s back end by just inches! The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly.

“So, I said, ‘Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital.’ And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’ He said, ‘Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on.’

“I started thinking, how often do I let garbage trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people: at work, at home, on the streets? It was that day I said, ‘I’m not going to do it anymore.'”2

However, as many of us know, that’s easier said than done. When we overreact to people who “dump their garbage” on us, we need to realize that what the other person does is his or her problem—but to the degree that we overreact that is our problem. To react in a Christ-like manner, it is imperative that we resolve our “garbage.” If we don’t, we will be forever allowing others to control our moods and trigger our unresolved problems.

from DailyEncounter, 02-21-2008

Pure Religion

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”1

As the late Karen Carpenter used to mournfully sing, “Loneliness, it’s such a sad affair.” How true this is for so many in today’s digital world.

Special holiday times such as Easter, Christmas, birthdays and even weekends are joyous occasions for many. For others these are some of the loneliness times of the year… especially for those who are alone, for those who have lost their spouse or a child, and for single adults … all of whom remember happier times and suffer a deep kind of loneliness at these times.

Many Daily Encounter readers have been there. Some are there right now. I’ve been there, too. I know the pain. This is why all of us need to be sensitive to the needs of all in our circle of relationships, remembering that many a smiling face hides an aching heart. We need to reach out to those who are lonely and hurting—invite him, her, or them over for a meal. Call them on the phone or send them an email to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask if there is anything you can do for them. Visit an elderly friend or neighbor. Provide gifts for the children of a family that is in deep need. Provide some food for the hungry.

I had a dear friend whom I met in kindergarten. We went all through grade school and technical college together. We’d been in national service together, too, and even though we’d lived thousands of miles apart, we never lost contact with each other. A while ago my friend fell on hard times, became discouraged, withdrew into himself and took his life. A tragic waste! Sadly, he never let me know of his struggle. How sad it is when, in our hour of need, as adults, we forget to hold hands and reach out for the help and support we need—so we can, as Jesus taught, “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”—and practice pure and true religion!

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you for all your endless blessings given to me. Help me always to be responsible, loving, kind, a burden-bearer, and above all to be Christ-like in all that I say and do. And when I need help, give me the courage to reach out and admit that I have a problem and ask for help. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-23-2008

My Eating Disorder Is Eating Me

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”1

A Daily Encounter reader writes: “I need help. My eating disorder is eating me. I have tried to give it to God, but I am not sure if I have wholeheartedly done this. I want to stop but I am hooked on the skinniness thing.”

When under- or over-eating is an addictive behavior, it can be a serious problem. Seeing what the cause of the problem is may be the hardest thing to come to terms with. With all addictions the problem we see—the presenting problem—is usually just the symptom of the real problem—”the fruit of a deeper root.”

While symptoms need to be treated, it is critical that the root cause/s are treated and resolved. If only the symptom is treated, the root will pop out in another area. I know of one man who claimed he was healed of alcoholism the moment he became a Christian. In reality all he had done was change from being an alcoholic into an anger-aholic!

The bottom line in many, if not most, addictions is that somewhere in the past, mostly in early childhood, there has been a failure somewhere in love. The addictive behavior is used to medicate and not feel the pain of one’s inner hurt of not feeling adequately loved. Besides asking for God’s help and praying for deliverance, we need to do our part as well. As we get damaged in damaging relationships we get healed in healing relationships. This is why support groups such as twelve-step programs can be very effective, and why working with a skilled counselor or therapist may be needed and even critical.

As alcoholics need to be in an alcoholic-anonymous support group, food-aholics need to be in an overeaters anonymous group (and so on), where they can be loved and accepted for whom they are. As it is a failure in love that drives people into addictive behaviors, it is unconditional love that is one of the greatest healing agents to deliver one from addictive behaviors. When people feel genuinely loved and accepted, the need to “act out” in self-destructive addictive behaviors is greatly lessened.

A support group also helps the addict to keep accountable for his behavior, for it is only as he stops his addictive behavior and feels the real pain of his hurt or rejection, can he face and resolve the root cause of his problem.

from DailyEncounter, 03-19-2008

Troublemakers in the Church and Elsewhere

“Alexander the metalworker did me [the Apostle Paul] a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”1

We’ve all heard or read about toxic pastors and/or priests, but what about toxic church members? They just don’t get the news coverage as toxic pastors and priests do—news that the liberal media love to broadcast far and wide.

I have read that several studies have indicated that it is usually less than 5 or 6 people who manage to “run off” the pastor of a church.

While this has not happened to me, I was “shot down” a few years ago and know how painful this can be. This was not from being the pastor of a church (which would be devastating), but from the Sunday School class where I was the teacher. My chief opponent was one person who stirred up others against me. I discovered to my dismay, without as much as being contacted, that I had been voted out as teacher of this class. I did learn, however, that I was only one of the last six teachers who had also been “shot down.” That class has since been disbanded. I was also the member of a church where just a few disgruntled members basically killed a thriving church which now no longer exists!

While some pastors and teachers need to be dismissed for justifiable reasons, more often than not there are power struggles in churches that cause pastors and leaders to be dismissed and hurt deeply. I was taught in college that every church has a church “boss” which usually isn’t the pastor. It is a person who wants to be in control. This gives him or her a sense of power and importance. However, this is a false sense because anyone who has to be in control of every situation is a very insecure person. Furthermore, without knowing it, they play the role of the Holy Spirit in the church and in people’s lives. As Paul warned, we need to be on our guard against these troublemakers—inside and outside of the church!

Strangely enough, in our western culture we call controlling or domineering people strong when in fact they are very insecure and weak. Mature and genuinely strong people are never domineering or controlling. The supreme example is Jesus. He always spoke with authority but was never authoritarian (controlling).

Control, such as mentioned above—whether by a high and mighty hand or in an underhanded saccharine-sweet manipulative manner—is a major problem in our society. It is a destroyer not only of churches, classes, or groups, but also of marriages, families, and personal relationships.

The tragedy is that most controlling people never see or admit who they are or what they are doing.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to grow in maturity so that I will become more and more a loving, non-controlling leader and/or individual. Help me to be like Jesus in every way. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-18-2008