Tag Archives: Truth

The Truth Buried, But Not for Long


Late last summer, while working in the office of the church, I got a call from someone who claimed to have some good news. He said it was just a “courtesy call” to inform me that our phone rates were being switched to a much lower rate than we were currently paying. By all impressions trying to be made, I thought I was talking with someone from our longtime current provider.The representative continued that there was nothing that I needed to do to get the lower rate other than answer a few questions.

Our existing provider had called about certain changes before, so at first I wasn’t too suspicious, although I have learned that even with them you need to be a little. Nonetheless, as the conversation progressed I did become much more leery. Finally, I asked, “Are you with AT&T?”

He said no, but he was with a company that handled service in some way for AT&T. It was actually a different telecommunications company, but even by the time I was to answer those few simple questions that he told me about I still hadn’t been given a straight answer on that. The first gentleman I talked with said that someone else would call me immediately after our conversation ended to ask the questions and get my confirmation to receive the great rate he promised.

It was during that conversation, although after I answered those questions, that I asked if our bill was still going to come from AT&T. At best I was obviously confused, but I’m pretty sure that I had been intentionally misled. At any rate, the woman I was now talking with confirmed that the bill would no longer come from AT&T because our phone service would be switched to a different provider altogether. The best I recall, she then asked if I was authorized for our “company” to be able to make this decision. I told her that I probably really needed to at least run it by our finance committee. I asked her to hold while I called our church treasurer on my cell phone.

After talking with our treasurer she and I decided that we shouldn’t switch without at least getting a little more information and conferring with our finance committee. While we were talking she did a quick google search of the company in question and immediately found complaints about them being … misleading.

When I got back to the call on the phone on my desk, I told the woman that we didn’t want to switch until we conferred further with our finance committee. At this point she transferred me to someone else, another representative, with whom I shared those same thoughts, and also concerns about the misleading nature of the initial call. She apologized for the “confusion” and assured me that everything would be canceled and she gave me her name and number to call if we actually did decide to switch.

A few days later I received an email from that company congratulating us on switching our church’s phone service to their company. I called them and told them that I was assured that our service would not be switched.  The representative heard my concerns, and again assured me that it would be handled and nothing would be switched. I also called AT&T to make sure they knew about the situation and that we didn’t want them to allow this other company to switch us from them. The AT&T rep saw no problems on her end, but they can only go by what shows up on the screen in front of them.

A few weeks later we received a bill from the other company for a couple weeks of service charges and about the same time a cancellation notice from AT&T.

After another call and receiving more false assurances, by another representative, who admitted to my wife that some of their sales reps will say anything to get people to switch, we received another bill. I called them again and afterwards called AT&T to get the service switched back, which they did, but not without the other company hitting us with a $1700.00 early termination fee.

After going round and round and explaining the whole situation to their company representatives seemingly to no avail, I filed a complaint with the NC utilities commission. While waiting to hear back from that I finally received a message from another company rep who said they would waive $1500.00 of the $1700.00 fee. I called back again and spoke to someone else and explained the situation. She agreed to send me an email stating the above offer to reduce the penalty, but she also gave me another number to call to see if I could get someone to agree to a further reduction.

A few days later I called and spoke to someone else who eventually agreed to waive the penalty altogether, but not before she tried to intimidate me with the recording of me answering those “simple” questions on day 1 of this whole fiasco. As I listened to the recording of the woman asking questions and me answering it seemed pretty obvious that the recording was doctored. All you heard from me was “yeah, yeah, yeah, right”, even when the woman gave me the wrong address for our church and asked if that was correct. I know I didn’t say “yeah” to that, but corrected her and gave her the right address, which they obviously got “somehow” because the bill ended up at the right place. When I pointed out that “interesting” fact to the person who played the recording to intimidate me and reminded her that it was really what I was assured of after that recorded conversation by another of their representatives that was really at issue, and informed her that I had filed a complaint with the state, she began to stammer a bit, put me on hold, and supposedly got approval from her manager to waive the entirety of the penalty. She also agreed she would send me an email stating that. She didn’t!

Eventually, I received another statement that still had a bill for the services rendered and a $200.00 penalty, and shortly after that I received an email from the state saying that they concurred with that statement based on the recording they were given.

I was misled and given partial truths and false assurances from the beginning; and, conveniently, the company only had record of information that supported them. But not only did they distort the truth, they tried to suppress it and silence me through subtle intimidation. They were also relentless with the ruse hoping I would just give up and accept the new service, I suppose.

Sin and evil, wickedness and unrighteousness, on a smaller scale or a much larger societal scale, requires distortion and suppression of the truth to thrive (see Romans 1, especially v.18). In other words, wickedness thrives only under the cover of darkness. Moreover, deceit and the self-justification that goes along with it also requires a stubborn relentlessness to not give up on the lies. Societal evils around the world and throughout history that have been entrenched in cultures, even codified into law, have required relentless distortion and ferocious suppression of the truth.

Although so much more could be said, the basic reason human beings lie and suppress the truth is because we want what we want more than what God wants, whether it be driven by greed, sexual lust, self-gratification, the pride of self-justificationJerusalem tomb, or mere comfort and convenience. In sin we seek to bury the truth.

On this holy Saturday, on the heels of Good Friday, we are reminded that the Truth was buried in the darkness of a stone cold tomb in Jerusalem some 2000 plus years ago; but He wasn’t buried for long. It appeared that the darkness had overcome the Light, but it only appeared that way.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:19 ESV)

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5)


The Relevance of Truth

The past few weeks have been quite busy.  This week I will have been out of town for a total of four days.  Last week I preached a three night revival in Mocksville, NC.  I thought the revival was a fruitful, Spirit-filled time with the wonderful folks at Liberty United Methodist Church.  One person described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.  Wow!  That certainly couldn’t be because there were so many people to show up because there weren’t.  But God did show up in a powerful way; certainly not because I’m so good, but because He is.

When I do a three day revival the first night I share a little about my personal testimony.  The second night, in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 13:5, I invite people into a time of self-examination as we look into the moral law, which is restated in the New Testament in the clear light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The third night, among other things, I talk about a couple of questions as they relate to the Christian faith.  One is the question: Is it relevant to my life?

That’s an important, but potentially very misleading and dangerous question.  I’m not talking about the importance of making the gospel as understandable as possible, which is an essential and difficult task for any teacher and preacher.  What I am talking about is the question in the heart of someone who wonders how the Christian faith may be relevant to his or her life in a helpful sort of a way.  In other words, can it help me have a better life?  The question of whether it’s relevant or not easily lends itself to the idea that Christianity may be relevant in a helpful sort of a way for some, but not necessrabbit's footarily for others.  In other words, it may be helpful in the proverbial crutch sort of a way, but only for those who need it to feel better about themselves and their lives.  Others may see Christianity as helpful in the way some may see a rabbit’s foot as helpful.  The relevance mentality also seems to lend itself to a cafeteria style Christianity where we pick only the parts that seem to be helpful or tasty to us, but without the whole thing we really don’t have the real thing.  With all it’s potential pitfalls, however, the relevance question is still an important question, but there is an even better question before we go there which puts it in a better perspective.

In the Alpha Course, Rev. Nikki Gumble, gets to the heart of the matter; the better question is whether it is true or not?  C.S. Lewis put it this way: “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance.”  And the truth of Christianity rises or falls with whether Jesus of Nazareth was in fact raised from the dead.  The apostle Paul states quite emphatically in 1 Corinthians 15:12-34 that if Christ was not really raised from the dead then their preaching and faith were both in vain and they might as well call the whole thing off, but, he insists, “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead … (v. 20) and because of that fact Christian faith is full of meaning, purpose, and hope, a real living hope.  So the most important question is: is it true?

More than likely if I told you the capital of Togo is Lome it probably wouldn’t mean to much to you.  “So what?” you might wonder.  But if I also told you that it’s a great place to vacation, a place with wonderful beaches and resorts, it might pique your interest a little more, but maybe not.  But what if I told you that at some time in the near future Togo would be the only safe place left on earth?  Now you may be much more eager to find out where exactly Togo is and how you can get there; but only IF you believe me.

Jesus came preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Jesus and the early apostles did not advertise what might be a nice vacation spot to some; they called people everywhere to repent, a term meaning to turn away from sin and return back to God.  The gospel, which means good news, also implies a strong warning.  The book of Daniel paints the picture of the kingdoms of the world built on “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:15-16) coming under the condemnation of the righteous wrath of God with only the kingdom of God left standing forever and ever (Daniel 2 & 7).  As Revelation 11:15 puts it, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever” (NRSV).

In Jesus Christ the kingdom has come and one day will come in all its fullness.  As 1 John puts it “the world is passing away along with it’s desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (ESV).  According to the Bible, according to Jesus himself, there is a day coming when there will be only one safe place left, the kingdom of God and there those who find themselves in Christ will abide forever.

Is this helpful and relevant?  Well if it is true of course it is!  The question then is do we believe it is true?  Do we believe the good news that Jesus proclaimed?  And if we believe that it is true how could it only be kind-of-sort-of important to us?  How could it not be at the top of our priority list? If someone really doesn’t believe that it’s true then it may be to him or her a good back-up plan just in case, but the God of the Bible has never taken too kindly to being treated as a backup plan for he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and last.  In reality He is plan A through Z and everything in between “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36).  Do you believe it is true?  Now that’s the better question.

Lee Stroble was an ardent atheist, a Yale law school graduate, a journalist and legal editor for the Chicago Tribune, who was appalled when his wife became a Christian.  He thought she had lost her mind; she had, but she found the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).  Her husband thought she needed help.  He set out on a journey to accumulate evidence to prove to his wife just how silly Christianity really is.  He was an expert in research, but through his efforts to disprove Christianity to his wife he actually became a Christian himself.  Why?  Because he came to believe that it is true, that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be and that He really was raised from the dead. (Learn more about Lee and checkout his resources here).

Do you believe that Christianity might be helpful or do you believe it is true?

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10 ESV