The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

October 21, 2011

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

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I still remember the famous line by actor Jack Nicholson during a courtroom scene in the film

A Few Good Men,

“The truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
In this particular scene Nicholson’s character was on the witness stand responding to a lawyer played by Tom Cruise who demanded, “I want the truth!”

One man thought he was above the truth and the other man thought that getting to the truth was enough. We see similar conflicts all around us. No one is above the truth (or above the law) and just getting the truth or even knowing the truth isn’t ‘enough’ because truth has a price. Truth will demand consequences, responsibility, and accountability. Are you and I willing to pay the cost? That is the dilemma facing us all.

Tragically, we may be nearing a tipping point regarding truth in our society. Have you noticed when truth is discussed today it is done through the lens of suspicion, accusation, or derision? A perfect example is in a Blog entitled The Story of Truth. The premise is that truth is revealed incrementally. Every person believes in, becomes part of, or creates a “story” that explains these vignettes of truth. The Blogger writes “If we can learn anything from history it is this, we don’t know all is there is to know. Be gracious enough to realize that and don’t behave with the arrogance and stupidity of one who believes he does know. The universe has not yet revealed her secrets, the rate at which things are changing today, the future is unimaginable, and things will reveal themselves in the next generation that will fundamentally shift what we call real. This is already happening only it takes some time for these things to filter through into the general world view.” Truth for this Blogger is subjective, allusive, and anything but divine. The source of truth is nature. In his mind surely rational people understand that the universe is constantly evolving and is slowly revealing its precious nuggets of truth, thus, it is naturally acquired over time. His resulting conclusion is that no human being can ever make the claim to have all the truth. Based on this logic Jesus is the king of stupidity and arrogance.

Understanding the difference between knowledge and truth is important. Knowledge is derived from the process of learning, reasoning, logic, experiences, and accumulation of facts known or unknown. You can have all the knowledge in the world yet not be any closer to truth “…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim.3:7) Sometimes what we know is challenged and must either be corrected or affirmed. Knowledge can be faulty. Thus, knowledge is an important fluidic process that is challenging, invigorating, and necessary. We are constantly growing. We want to know more. Thankfully knowledge is not left alone. This is the importance of truth. Truth is the stabilizer of raw knowledge. Truth brings order out of chaos. You would not say for instance that if you have truth you wouldn’t have knowledge. I would not jump off a roof of a five story building. Why? Well, because I know the truth about gravity. The end result will be truly painful and I will die. Truth opens the door to knowing. Truth gives knowledge the foundation needed for rational thought and moral behavior. Truth affirms knowledge. Truth enables knowledge to expand. I think the real rub is this- truth is not the invention of man but is rooted in God (or for the Blogger above the Intelligence behind nature and the universe). He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Eccl.3:11)

A well-known statement of Jesus has probably crossed your mind by this time. The statement is “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” This is indeed an awesome principle and a succinct point for the moment but just quoting this verse alone misses a very key element. Notice the complete statement as found in John 8:31-32 “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” See the difference? By reading the full context we have a deeper understanding of and application of His use of the word truth. Here is something extremely fundamental yet so easily glossed over. Remain faithful to my teachings Jesus said AND you will know the truth and find real freedom. The cost then for truth is to believe and be faithful to His teachings. Remaining faithful means that we will personally accept all consequences, take full responsibility, and be held accountable to the teachings and standards of Jesus Christ. This is not arrogance or stupidity; rather, this is the high calling of truth that is relevant, essential, life-changing, and liberating! I point you back to my opening quote “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Bruce Kessler, pastor South Canadian valley Church of Christ

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October 7, 2011

“The Strange Case of the Beetle” An Unaccountable Happening

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 4:53 pm
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“It was chance meeting you here.”  We’ve all experienced the feeling.  You know- fate verses coincidence, destiny verses fortune, or providence verses happen-chance. Merriam Webster has a darling definition of chance: “The assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings.”  Old Webster took the words right out of my mouth.  I dig the “unaccountable happenings” because, as you know, I’ve experienced many unusual and bizarre moments.  But “assumed impersonal purposeless determiner” called chance?  I just can’t see it.  Here is a real story of ‘unaccountable happenings’ called The Strange Case of the Beetle.   You decide whether it was chance, providence or perhaps both?

“I was 18 and boy was I pumped.  My first car!  Cool as grits baby.  Life couldn’t get any better than this.  Dad had decided to help me get into a new, well, actually, used vehicle.  I had graduated from High School (much to his amazement I’m sure) and found a decent job, so, here we were.  The day had been spent searching all over Savannah, GA stopping by every conceivable car lot.  I was about ready to give up when we came upon a lot that had this really groovy 1969 VW Beetle.  It was nifty yellow with a sweet custom designed shift knob and an even sweeter stereo radio with super-sweet speakers!  She was, shall I say, sweet.  Nothing else was as interesting to me at the time as a great sound system and being able to peel out in first gear, out-of-site and sound of course from dad.  She purred so sweet- for about three months, then, little things started to unravel and go wrong.  The peel was coming off the lemon, quick.

The first thing that needed repair was the exhaust system.  If you’ve ever tried to work on a foreign vehicle especially a VW then you will remember that the engine sits in the back and getting to the exhaust system was extra difficult.  Before long, I was ready to blow a gasket, literally.  One cold rainy aggravating afternoon I was so tired and overwhelmed that dad came out and gave me a huge hug.  Said, I needed it.  I did!  Finally, I accomplished that irritating task.  At the same time this was going on there was a new rage called CB Radio.  I wanted to join my buddies and decided to put one in my car. So, one sunny afternoon, I decided where I was going to position the radio inside my car and drilled two very nice holes. No problem, right? Wrong! I drilled right into the gas tank.  I forgot that the gas tank was positioned in the front! Gas spewed every where!  I’m surprised I didn’t go up in flames.  I finally repaired that monumental mess but could never get the gas smell out of the car. Instead of smelling sweet she smelt like gassy rags placed behind the seat.  Well, at least it was tolerable. Until…

Until the steering stabilizer arm went out.  Doesn’t sound all that bad?  Imagine driving your car and at some point the road starts to curve to the right. You slowly turn the steering wheel to the right and when the turn is complete you straighten out the car and move on.  But, in a VW with a bad stabilizing arm, as you turn and bank to the right your entire front section begins to shimmy and shake violently!  Trust me on this.  I repaired that arm twice but nothing seemed to work. Every time I banked to the right she shook and shimmied.  It hurt my pride terribly.  In fact, at that time in my life, I enjoyed Disco and periodically went dancing.  Yes, I had my own platform shoes among other things.  But, here’s the deal. There was this absolutely gorgeous girl I wanted to really impress.  So, I schemed and devised a route plan that would avoid making sweeping turns to the right.  Yes, I was a genius! I was the Albert Einstein of Disco. With my mathematical plans in place I set out happily on the date.  From the beginning we hit it off. Man, the music was groovin, conversation alluring, windows down, hair flying in the wind, and laughter filled the car.  Yes, we were living the dream until the car banked to the right.  I had been so excited about my date that I forgot the plan!  We were in a major right curve heading onto the Interstate. The whole car began to shake violently.  No wonder Einstein’s hair was so frizzled. My date became alarmed and cried out “What’s wrong with your car!  Are we going to die?” I did.  I died of total embrassement.  The next day I sold the VW Beetle.

A few months later I began to regain my pride back and forgot all about that horrible lemony evil Beetle.  I began to date another girl from Savannah and life was enjoyable once again.  Several weeks into our relationship she calls me one night very excited announcing,

“Hey, I just purchased a car!” 

“Great, what kind of car?”

“A VW!  It’s yellow.”

Something stirred in my belly. “Uh, a yellow VW?”

“It’s a Beetle!”

I thought of Einstein.

“So, a VW Beetle.  Are you sure?”

“What do you mean? Sure I’m sure.  I can see that it is yellow, a VW, a Beetle, I’m not an idiot.”

Hmmm, I decided silence was golden at this point.

“I’m coming over so you can see it.”

Before I could answer she hung up.  I had that déjà vu nightmarish feeling but put it aside and waited for her to arrive.  Not long she pulled in. I went out to see her “new car” and, well, there was that yellow lemon gas smelling VW Beetle parked in my driveway.  Here was the Beetle alive and kicking.  I could sense the thing grinning with malice intent. I wanted it dead. The image running through my mind was watching it sail off a cliff.  Guess I should have dated a different girl.

Ok friends; was this a case of chance, providence or both? I believe God was working mightily hard to get my attention. What say you? 

Solomon said this in Eccl.9:11, “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”  Amazingly we have an additional element to life as conveyed by Paul in Ro.8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Both of these passages reveal an important truth about life, providence, and chance.  You see everyone is on a journey called life.  In this life everyone is affected by time and chance.  The really good news is that God uses both time and chance to work providentially.  Sometimes we feel absolutely certain that God’s hand was involved other times we are less than certain.  That is just fine because we can always be assured that God is never uncertain nor is He unaware of coincidences or unaccountable happenings.  Any moment, time, or chance is used or not used by God.  He alone knows when to get our attention and what is essential. Such is our wonderful life.

Bruce Kessler, pastor South Canadian Valley Church of Christ, Norman, OK

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