Author Archives: joe

The Breakdown of Authenticity!

       It is interesting to step back from our cultural context to view our world. Should you choose to do this you will be hit with many observations. One that comes to my mind is the breakdown of authenticity; namely, the rise of deception and the decline of truthfulness, integrity and honesty!

     My Bible reading this morning hit me with the truth that while it seems everything has changed… nothing has really changed! Many people were shocked recently by a leading media company for the bending of truth by a newly developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) model. The developers have come under fire for blatantly attempting to rewrite history and forcing their philosophical narrative upon the world at the cost of truth.

     I believe that this manipulation needs to be addressed. But my reading reminded me this morning that I also struggle with this same challenge within myself; the tendency to drift from reality and attempt to distort the truth about myself. Jesus reminds me that it needs to be addressed in my life!

     The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15, opens with the Pharisees and Scribes attack on Jesus for His disciples not washing their hands before they ate. They accused Jesus of not adhering to the “tradition” of the Jewish faith. Their slander was an attack on His authenticity as the Messiah. What is interesting is that this “violation” is not in the Mosaic Law, rather it was a tradition created requiring Jews to go through the process of ceremonial washings before they could eat. Mark’s Gospel account gives us a better understanding of why they were upset.

     Jesus reminds them of their even greater hypocrisy of reclassifying God’s direct command in which they were neglecting to care for the needs of their elderly parents by using a “spiritual loophole” based on the tradition of former teachers. It is Jesus’ quote from the prophet Isaiah about this issue that caught my attention. “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;” (Matthew 15:8).

     Obviously, Jesus is addressing their hypocrisy. But what stood out to me is the danger of neglecting my relationship with the Lord. The correlation is obvious: The greater the spiritual drift in a follower’s heart, the greater the deception to maintain a spiritual charade before others. If allowed to continue we begin to believe the lie that we are okay, but really we have drifted into greater hypocrisy.

     My prayer this morning for myself (and you) is that the Lord will give me the clarity of mind and sensitivity to discern the drift that happens so easily. If you have ever completed reading a passage of The Bible while thinking of something else you know how easy it is to drift. This can be true of every spiritual discipline in our lives like attending church, singing worship songs, even our prayers. The danger is when we take the “check mark” for completing the day’s assignment but no spiritual stirring took place in our souls.

     It is easy to get enraged by the breakdown of authenticity all around us. The challenge to me from Jesus words, and I hope to you, is to give daily attention to what really matters; the condition of our own hearts and relationship with the Lord. This is God’s antidote for living a life of authenticity!

-Pastor Joe Parkinson

God’s Protection in My Life!

       Have you ever stopped to consider how often fear drives our responses, attitudes and decisions? Fear almost always robs us of making the best choices. Our attitudes can also be clouded by anxiety, frustration, worry and even anger. What the follower of Jesus often overlooks is God’s protection in their life!        My… Continue Reading

Living an Unshakeable Life

       I find myself sitting in my childhood home pondering the circumstances that have temporarily brought me back “home” to help out my parents. It really is amazing how unstable life can be with all the unseen challenges that come out of nowhere. It is not uncommon to become shaken by a crisis. But God’s… Continue Reading

Surviving the Rapids

       I had an opportunity as a younger man in college to go white water rafting in Western Pennsylvania. I have since had opportunities to ride the rapids in different parts of our country. Someday, I would love to experience the Colorado River section through the Grand Canyon. Learning to raft white water offers several… Continue Reading

Am I a Liar?

      Our propensity is to believe that we are good, honest and trustworthy individuals. Now, let’s assume that characterization of ourselves is true. Are you a liar? Now before you emphatically say “No” and write this article off, let me encourage you to evaluate your own life. The answer, by the way, is “Yes I… Continue Reading

Who Am I Pleasing?

      It seems that our lives are filled with interruptions. It could be a crying toddler that pinched their hand in a door. A friend pressing us to join them shopping. A project deadline at work or any number of infinite requests for us and our time. Now, I am not suggesting to ignore a… Continue Reading

Blessing of Building Well!

      It is frustrating when you are faced with the challenges related to poor construction. The challenge not to it right the first times is the temptation to cut corners. I am sure that all of have a story that we could tell. What is often forgotten is the cost to paid later from poor… Continue Reading

Spiritual Growth, My Choice!

      We are now into the New Year. I wonder how many of us have acted upon our “New Year Resolutions?” I wonder how many of us may have already “fallen off the wagon?” Yes, I know there are those of us who do not care or have given up on resolutions. Let me share… Continue Reading

A Fresh Start for a New You!

      Have you already been thinking of life improvements that you would like to tackle in 2024? The New Year is a great time to reflect on those areas of our life that could use a little work. Yes, we all have something that needs our attention. Let me encourage you to take a step… Continue Reading