The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

January 24, 2013

The Look

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 11:59 am
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eyesI could never escape “The Look”. Wordless, timeless; a defining moment filled with meaning, conviction, purpose, hope, and love. The Look has all this and more.  I can get away with a lot of things but The Look transfixes me, anchors me, and grounds me.

The Look forces me to see the truth of things like no other.

We all come across a similar Look in the faces of those we love, those we respect, or people in position of authority like teachers or policemen.  I remember as a teenager in church one Sunday the guest speaker was anything but interesting or lively.  I decided to take matters into my own hand.  So, I began to write notes or use my index finger and middle finger pretending to be a person running a mad race over books, knees, and anything else.  We began giggling and soon my dad was standing next to the pew giving me the Look.  Red faced, I wanted to disappear.

Wives are famous in their art of simulating The Look.  Husbands are caught flat-footed many times and are frozen in mid-sentence with that magical Look from their lovely wives.  Parents have this art as well.  Just argue with your parents kids and the Look will quickly surface with amazing results.

However, all such Looks pale by comparison to The Look that stirs the heart of our soul. Who has The Look that causes such drama?  Jesus Christ!

Consider Peter whom Jesus specifically picked out to be an apostle.  Peter was excitable, strong willed, emotional, brazen, bold, and courageous.  But Jesus knew that Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat.  The Devil had inside knowledge (as he does with all of us) that the outwardly strong Peter had a weakness of the heart.  Jesus prayed for the battle ahead, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” Lk.22:32.

Based on Peter’s own rash statement Jesus predicted he would fall away.  Peter subsequently became filled with pride, cussing, lying, and denying Jesus Christ. Sound like anyone you know?

Then the most important moment in Peter’s life occurred.  “…Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Lk.22:60-62.

The Look from Jesus was a monumental shift for Peter.  Peter, who had wept so bitterly, would later write in 2 Peter 1:1 “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  He was once a rebel but now a servant.  What was once lost was now found in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

The message of the cross cuts through the riff-raff and looks right into the heart of your soul. Jesus died to address your heart problem. God has always been interested in your heart.  1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Breathtaking and pivotal is The Look from Jesus Christ.

He is Looking at you through the Gospel message of Saving Grace. His love probes and stirs your heart.  Just as Noah found “favor in the eyes of God” so can you. You may feel far from help but salvation is only a Look away.  Will today be the life-changing moment for you?

Bruce

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April 25, 2012

Telling the Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 4:56 pm
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The day had come for report cards to be handed out.  This was the day I was dreading.

I knew that I had some bad grades and just couldn’t face my dad. He was working so hard and I didn’t want to see the disappointment on his face. So, I decided to take matters into my own hand.  I went home and practiced signing his signature.  Yep, I practiced and practiced. Soon, I had his signature down pat.  The next morning I hurriedly signed on the line for parents and put the report card in my coat pocket.  I tried to convince myself that everything was cool but the card was a heavy reminder beating slowly against my chest.  I stopped to eat breakfast at my Aunt’s house before heading to school.  While sitting at the table the card somehow tumbled out of my pocket and before I could do anything she snatched it up. To my embarrassment she read my grades.  I tried to become invisible. Then she noticed the signature.  Where was Houdini when you needed him!  With a twinkle in her eye said, “Good job with the signature honey but there is one wee problem.  You signed your name and not your dad’s!”  Dad had to come over and boy telling him the truth was really difficult.  But, what a relief once I did.

Telling the truth should be the high standard every day, right? Well, not so fast. All around us we witness politicians, entertainers, talk show hosts, athletes, news broadcasters, reporters, and spouses fail miserably with this principle. Truth telling has become our preverbal thorn-in-the-flesh.  We seem to think that the whole truth will hurt too much.  Our tendency in those moments of anxiety is to tell half the truth or gloss over it just a bit.  We want to give truth a make over. Our desire is to smooth what we may feel is truth’s sharp potentially hurtful edge.  Instead of a square pill we want to turn truth into an oval shaped pill that way we or the person we are talking to can swallow it easier.

Everywhere and everyday we expect people to tell the truth.

We demand truth from our congressmen, our president, our news media, our co-workers, our supervisors, our CEO’s, our teachers, our doctors, our policemen, our neighbors, our spouses, and our children.   Yet, the highest and greatest emphasis for telling the truth is the church.  The world should be able to look to Christians for stability in this area. As the church we are the light of the world and salt of the earth (Mt.5:13-14).

Yet, sadly, the church that the world sees more times than not are people just like them, cowering, rationalizing, and many times withholding truth selfishly. In fact by refusing to tell the truth, by watering down truth, by avoiding telling the truth, the salt that once had great influence is slowly becoming less potent and effective.  Why should the world be moved by people who will not even tell the truth to each other or confess to one another their faults?  Why would our communities be swayed by a standard we refuse to practice or aspire to live among ourselves?

Christ preached truth and said that his truth will set us free (Jn.8:32).  The standard is set before us in Eph.4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” When an offense has occurred among church members then Christ compels believers to act in love and confess their faults to each other.  

When you tell the truth in this way Christ will tear down walls (strongholds) of bitterness, anger, frustration, doubt, sin, fear, anxiety, prejudice, faulty ideas, and stinking thinking.  When you have these barriers removed then real meaningful relationships can occur. Jesus promises that in these moments “where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I among them.” (Mt.18:20). This is real freedom and genuine fellowship.

If you desire this then a good place to start is by telling the truth.  It could be revolutionary.

Bruce

October 21, 2011

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 10:50 am
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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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