Just the Facts

In 1997, 14-year-old Nathan Zohner polled his classmates to see if they would support a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Before they answered, he warned them of the dangers of DHMO.

Here are the facts: the chemical can be incredibly dangerous. Accidental inhalation, even in small quantities can be fatal. Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO can result in amputation. It is found in tumors, pesticides, and the cooling systems of nuclear power plants. It has been used by governments to torture suspects and disperse rioters. Many cults even have rituals that require this substance.

Despite these risks, DHMO is common even in food that has been labeled “organic,” household cleaners, and even swimming pools. After presenting his classmates with these facts, 43 of his 50 9th-grade peers voted to ban DHMO. How would you have voted?

If you voted to ban it, congratulations!

You voted to ban water.

Yes, dihydrogen monoxide is just plain ol’ high quality H2O.

Everything Zohner said was true, but misleading. Inhaling water is called drowning. Ice does cause frostbite. Water is in all of our food and most of our industrial systems, but you and I know that doesn’t mean it is terrifying.

Zohner’s little experiment has plenty of applications. We can be misled with true statements. Did you know that the devil quoted scripture to Jesus in Matthew 4? He used truth to lie. Peter warned that some people would do the same thing to scripture—twisting for destruction (2 Peter 3:14-18). Perhaps that’s why Paul told Timothy to “rightly handle” the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

So remember – when someone gives you “just the facts” (or the scriptures!), don’t forget to make sure those facts are telling the truth.

What’s better?

Many of the routine decisions we make every day aren’t choices between evil and good. Sometimes we just must decide which path is better. Several times in Proverbs, God describes a “better” way. Take a look:

“Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.” (Proverbs 12:9)

“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” (Proverbs 15:16)

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” (Proverbs 15:17)

“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Proverbs 16:16)

“Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1)

“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9)

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” (Proverbs 27:5)

Are you choosing what’s better?

God Doesn’t Hate You

File this under “theology that should be obvious, but isn’t.” God does not hate you.

Some people are convinced that God is in heaven, looking down with a magnifying glass, searching our lives for every failure, no matter how miniscule or well-intended, to find a reason to damn our souls. Too many people live in fear because they never feel good enough or righteous enough. They fear some unknown technicality—an uncrossed “t” or undotted “i” that stands between them and life.

This view of God is heresy. It is false doctrine. It is unholy. It is bad.

If God was looking forward to your destruction, why would he send his son to suffer and die?

If God wanted you to fail, why would he give a book that points the way to life?

If God didn’t want you to endure to the end, why would he assemble a family to help you keep going when the going gets tough?

God really, really, really wants every person to be saved. Don’t believe me? Read 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:23, and Matthew 23:37. Remember that he didn’t come for the righteous, but sinners (Luke 5:32), and that he and the angels rejoice when one repents (Luke 15:10).

You can have confidence before God. Jesus makes that possible. Read 1 John 3:21-24 and Hebrews 4:14-5:3. Read Romans – the whole book. And then read it again!

When we are born again into the family of God, we are not orphans. We are adopted into God’s family, where God and his people nurture us and give us what we need to finish the race. Read Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, Hebrews 13:20-21, and 1 Corinthians 1:8.

God’s grace is marvelous and deep and life-transforming. Your salvation does not depend on your perfection, but Christ’s. If you are in Christ, enjoy the confidence of your standing. Refuse to live in fear anymore!

The Story of Pontius Pilate

When Pontius Pilate was new on the scene as Jerusalem’s governor, he began his service by hanging “Hail Caesar” banners all around town. If you know anything about Jewish history, you can imagine how well this went over.

The crowds grew larger and larger, and Pilate had a decision to make. What to do about these people? He could send in his military to quash the protestors or he could give in. Everyone expected him to meet force with force, and so he did. But something happened that he didn’t expect. Rather than fleeing or fighting, the Jewish protesters simply dropped to their knees. Josephus said, “they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed.” Pilate relented. The banners came down. The mob won.

Some say that the Jews learned something important about Pilate that day. They learned that Pilate was not the sort of man who stood by his convictions. They learned that, given the right pressure, he wouldn’t do what he had planned to do. He preferred the easy way out.

It was that lesson they exploited when they brought Jesus to him. Remember that Pilate was not convinced of Jesus’ guilt—he believed Jesus to be a guiltless man. He was warned by his wife’s dream to have nothing to do with this innocent man. Why did he order the death of an innocent man? He feared the mob.

Most of us don’t make decisions surrounded by throngs of protestors, but we do face the subtle pressures of a world that doesn’t always see things the way we do. We, too, face a choice. Will we stand by our convictions or will we take the easy way out