You Can Handle The Truth

John 16:12-15  – Trinity Sunday (or) the First Sunday following Pentecost – for Sunday, May 26, 2013

“When the Spirit of truth comes, s/he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13)

"You can't handle the truth!"
“You can’t handle the truth!”

Jesus—so said John’s Gospel—spoke to his disciples about the Spirit of truth.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth . . .

According to my second-hand, hardbound, outdated Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word “truth” is used in the Bible (caution…Strong’s uses the King James Version) around 250 times. I apologize for the qualifying word “around,” but Strong’s print has gotten smaller as I’ve aged. An accurate count is a challenge.

I’m just telling the truth here. Remember, truth has a “u” in the middle!

I could say, “Trust me.” It’s another word with “u” in the middle, but the exhausting Strong’s lists fewer Biblical variations of trust than truth, so trusting may not be as important as being truthful.

There’s an inspiring, intimidating Sufi* saying (although a Facebook friend—always a reliable source—informed me the saying originated with Buddhists*) that goes like this . . .

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.

At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”

At the second, ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

Buddhist or Sufi, those three questions should cause me to keep my trap shut most of the time! Continue reading →

What’s Your Favorite Verse?

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I was thinking of that question after meeting with a family to plan an upcoming memorial service. One of my “standard” questions for a family’s funeral preparation is to ask about any special readings from the Bible, or other sources, they’d like to include in the ceremony.

Sometimes I get a quick answer. Often, it’s the obvious: Psalm 23.

Occasionally it’s popular, like the non-scriptural account of walking along the beach with God (or Jesus), but seeing only one set of sand-marked footsteps. Google “footsteps” and “beach” and “God” and you’ll find a host of versions, and a confusion of sources, for that reading. A few years ago, in a month with three or four memorial services, I remember at least two different requests for the “footsteps on the beach” reading. The requests came from people of extraordinarily different backgrounds. But, each in their own way, the words had mattered to those individuals and families.

On rare occasions, I’ve been handed the deceased person’s Bible and it’s very clear, on a well-worn page with an underlined verse, or a faded newspaper clipping tucked into the pages, what held meaning for them. Equally rare, a member of the family voices the hope that a favorite reading of theirs is included. With these choices, the Bible competes with the likes of Kahil Gibran, Oprah Winfrey and Buddha.

Most typically, the family has no “favorite” to suggest. They look at me and basically say, “You choose.” Continue reading →