Gifted author Frank Peretti brings the foundational truths of Scripture to life, illustrating how the Christian worldview stands apart in a world of moral confusion. (Part 2 of 2)
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John: On today's "Focus on the Family," we'll talk about truth, but where do you find it?
Frank: It's kind of like somebody said, "If you're looking for truth, don't search within yourself. You're the one who's confused. (Laughter and Applause)
End of Recap
John: Well, if the truth isn't in us, then where exactly is it? We're gonna find out with an amazing speaker and we heard just a bit of him right there on today's "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly.
Jim: John, let me recap what we heard from our guest, Frank Peretti last time. He was talking about having a fixed point of reference and Frank was alone on stage with just a chair. And he used an example of being in a dark room, feeling your way around and suddenly, finding a chair. Now you have that fixed point of reference that you need and you can navigate from that point. You know where the light switch is generally. You know where the walls are. And that was a very good illustration of what we're trying to do in life.
John: Yeah, he talked, as well, about what we did before there was GPS. And I know (Laughter), we got lost a lot. But sailors would use, you know, the stars and the stars don't move. They're a fixed point of reference and you can count on them.
Jim: Exactly, John. And now last time Frank quoted a speech from the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts, giving the foundation stones of the Christian worldview, those fixed points of reference. He said God is the origin of all things. God provides our moral standard. God is self-existent and self-defining. God created each of us for a purpose, which gives us value. God desires intimate fellowship with His creation. He's a God of relationship.
And today we're going to turn the corner and hear what happens when you try to operate without absolute truth, perhaps your own view of truth.
Jim: And in case you're thinking (Chuckling), this sounds very heavy, stay with us. Frank does an amazing job of illustrating these things with humor and terrific storytelling.
John: If you've heard Frank Peretti speak, you will be leaning in, because he is so enjoyable to listen to. I think we mentioned that he's a best-selling author, about 19 books or so that he's written. He is somewhat of a Renaissance Man. I did not know some of his interests and abilities. He's a carpenter. He plays the banjo--
John: --he's a pilot. So, he's a very well-rounded man. Here now, Frank Peretti, continuing his message to a Christian worldview conference several years ago on today's "Focus on the Family."
Frank: Now, let's talk about what went wrong. You see, back in the beginning in Genesis chapter 3, Satan came into the Garden and put wheels on the chair. (Laughter)
"Eve, if you eat of that forbidden fruit, you shall be as God. You'll be able to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. You'll be able to call your own shots, make your own rules, have your own reality. You will be numero uno in your own private little universe. All you gotta do is eat the fruit!"
So Eve thought about it and, "Well, okay!" (Laughter) And since then, we ended up with a whole bunch of chairs with wheels on 'em just going all over the place. Everybody knows what's right in their own eyes. "Out of the way! Out of the way! (Laughter) "I'm a relativist. Let me absolute with you. Aha-ha!" Wheels on the chair!
But you know, there's all kind of things that can go wrong when you put wheels on the chair. It's a really exhaustive subject, I suppose, but there's three things that I'd like to share with you.
No. 1, when you put wheels on the chair, you or your family or your society, you stray, you drift from truth into confusion, confusion. Things get very confused.
Oh, the second thing that happens is you start developing what Francis Schaeffer called "points of tension." Points of tension and I'll explain what that means. What it basically means is, huh, you start kind of contradicting yourself in the same sentence. You have arguments with yourself in the same brain. It's just kind of kaboom! And I'll show you what that means.
Oh, the third thing that happens--and we're seeing a lot of this--it happens in every society and that is, when you abandon a fixed moral standard, then you have to decide, "Well, who's gonna make the rules?" And usually, truth and morality fall before raw power. And I'll talk about that.
Well, let's talk about confusion. I'll never forget that story of "The Naked Guy." Down at Berkeley, you, yeah. (Laughter) That makes sense as a matter of fact. (Laughter) Anyway, on the college campus down there at Berkeley, they had a problem develop with "the naked guy." Well, here's this guy who decided he was gonna go to school naked. He didn't have a stitch of clothes on. He'd go to school. He'd go to classes. He'd jog. He'd eat in the cafeteria, do the whole thing, just naked. (Laughter)
And well, people were kind of upset about it. (Laughter) Women didn't want to be near the guy, you know, and they'd sit in class with this and there was the problem, they called it "the seat issue." (Laughter) Nobody wanted to sit where he had recently sat. (Laughter)
Now what's interesting about is the problem was tackled, of course. The problem was taken head-on by the college administration--all these educated educators with all the alphabet soup after their names, you know. They were so smart; they just knew everything and they knew all the world's wisdom and they were kind of saying, "Oh, what are we gonna do?!" "I don't know. We can't say it's wrong, though. It's not wrong. He's just expressing himself." "Well, I don't know. We have to stop it somehow." Well, then it's right." "No, it's not right!" "Well, then it's wrong!" "No, it can't be wrong. We can't tell him it's wrong!" "What are we gonna do?" "Well, I don't know. We've gotta make up some rules." "But we can't make up any rules, because people will think we're infringing on their right of expression!" Oh, doo, doo, doo. You know what? We have to be liberal. We have to progressive. We have to really be free thinkers. (Sound of chair legs rattling)
They did solve the problem, though. Someone finally got a brainstorm. The women got together and they came to the administration and they said, "We believe that the behavior of this man constitutes sexual harassment." (Laughter) (Fshew, fshew, fshew, fshew.) He's gone! (Laughter) Which just goes to show, when truth is lacking, politics can fill the gap! (Laughter and Applause) That's what happens. (Laughter and Applause)
Confusion! Confusion! That's where you get a hospital, with on one side of the hall, there's a team of doctors performing a late-term abortion. On the other side of the hall, there's a rescue team, standing by to save the life of the infant if the first crew fails in what they're doing. Now that is confusion. It's tragic confusion.
Let's go to the next one, points of tension, points of tension. Now here is an example of a point of tension and you hear this all the time. Now get ready; here it comes. Someone says to you, "It's wrong to impose your morals on others!" (Phew) Went right by you, didn't it? (Laughter) I'll try it again. (Laughter) "It's wrong to impose your morals on others!" What am I doing? I'm imposing my morals on you by telling you that something is wrong! I'm contradicting myself in the same thought, in the same sentence! That's a point of tension.
Kinda strange. New-agers and relativists, they'll say, "There is no absolute reality. We all create our own reality." But they're so willing to argue with you about it. You cannot argue with anyone unless deep down inside somewhere you know good and well there is an absolute truth you can appeal to from which you can argue. (Laughter)
There has to be a truth that is fixed and objective and separate from you. It has to be true whether you believe it or not! (Pthum) It has to be true whether you like it or not! (Pthum) It has to be true whether you ever heard of it or not! (Pthum) It's just true! Points of tension.
I'm sure you've all heard of Carl Sagan (Laughter), told us about the cosmos that came together purely by chance and it's all billions and billions of stars and the cosmos is--here is his big quote--"The cosmos is all there is or ever will be." He went to great lengths to tell us that we're nothing but an accident, with no reason for being here, right?
Now, isn't it interesting, at the same time, he's involved in the SETI project, which is the big radio telescopes and they are beaming--I mean, they got [sic] these telescopes aimed at the heavens. Why? They want to find out if there is extraterrestrial intelligence out there.
Well, now here comes the point of tension. Somebody asked Carl Sagan, "Why are you searching for extraterrestrials out there?" And he said--are you ready?--"Because when we learn who they are, we will know who we are." (Laughter)
Carl, Carl (Laughter), Carl, are you searching for meaning? Even an atheist astronomer can sometimes let his true human nature slip through and betray the fact that he knows he's a person; he knows there's got to be a reason for being here.
He's looking for some kind of a scheme to the overall structure of the universe. You know, I am really gonna crack up if they finally do get a signal from outer space. (Laughter) (Sound effects) You know, and they decode it. It takes them years, but they finally decode it and it says, "When we learn who they are (Laughter), we will know who we are." (Laughter and Applause) What a letdown that would be. (Laughter)
John: Well, we're listening to Frank Peretti on today's "Focus on the Family." And we're about halfway through the presentation. Stay with us, because Frank, who's using a single chair on stage as a metaphor, a prop to reflect absolute truth, continues this fascinating talk. And if you missed part one, I'll recommend you get the complete audio of this program on two CDs or via a download. It has a lot of additional content. And you can also get the DVD of this presentation. You'll find details at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
End of Program Note
Frank: The third thing I wanted to talk about was how, when truth is abandoned, when an ultimate moral authority is abandoned, that is how tyranny develops in a culture, in a nation. This has been demonstrated so many times. Let me just draw an illustration for you. Let's imagine ... I call this "the playground parable," okay, the playground parable.
Let's imagine here's a playground for hundreds of kids out there. (Sound effects) They're all playing, everything else, typical grade school playground, okay? And they're throwin' balls around and they're skipping rope and they're just having fun. And maybe a few fights might break out, but that's okay. They get broken up and it's really a pretty safe place to play--pretty orderly, for a playground, anyway.
One of the reasons, folks, right on the edge of the playground there's a big old sign that says, "Playground Rules: no hitting, no shoving, no spitting on the girls, share the equipment" and all that kind of thing, you know? Share the toys. Now that's really nice, but why do the kids even obey those rules? Because of Mrs. Kravitz. (Laughter) Mrs. Kravitz has her clipboard and her whistle (Sound of whistle) and her pink slips and all this. And if you transgress those laws, then there's gonna be a certain authority brought into play here. You might even have to get sent to the vice principal's office. No one's ever seen the vice principal. (Laughter) But they've heard about him. And there's this holy terror, you know.
But anyway, that's what keeps ... okay, let's do a little experiment here. We'll take Mrs. Kravitz and take her off the playground, okay? We'll put her over here. (Pffffftttt!) There, she's gone. (Laughter) Now, the kids continue to obey the rules and they play according to the traditions they've always been handed down and all this kind of thing. But after a while, you know, maybe little Bobby, he likes playing with his ball. He just loves playing with the ball. And as a matter of fact, he's getting kind of tired of sharing it with the other kids. He wants to go throw it against the side of the school building there, so he starts throwing it against the side of the school building. He's ... (bonk-a-booty, boink, boink)
And then one of the other kids starts standing around and, you know, "I ain't got nothing to play with." And "Bobby! You're supposed to share the equipment!" "Uh-uh! I'm gonna play with the ball all by myself!" "But you have to share the equipment!" "Uh-uh! I have my own truth. I'm seeking my own reality and how dare you impose your narrow-minded, bigoted, right-wing, fringe-fanatic, Christian conservative (Laughter), fundamentalist morals on me?!" So he's going away, "But look at here, the rules say you have to share the equipment!" "Oh, yeah? Well that's just too bad!"
And after a while, some of the kids start figuring out, "You know what? Bobby's just doing it and he's getting away with it. Why do I have to share the jump rope?" So he starts grabbing the jump rope. And then the other kids, they start spittin' on the girls. Yeah, I like that. You can spit on the girls. "Ay ... he hit me!
And they start kind of challenging those rules and they start crossing the rules out and finally, the old rules get torn down. They knock the whole sign down. Now you don't have any rules at all. Every child is playing according to the dictates of his own conscience. (Laughter), clarifying their values out there. Now you have a playground in chaos. Now here's the big question: On a playground like that, which child's will is going to become law?
Audience: The strongest.
Frank: You got it. The strongest, the biggest, meanest, toughest kid. This has been repeated again and again throughout the history of mankind. When a nation loses its (Sound of clapping) grip on moral absolutes, then the rules are made by whoever can rally the most votes, gain the most political power, buy the most TV time for commercials, gather the most marchers, shout the loudest, you name it. Hitler did it. Mao did it. Pol Pot did it. During the French Revolution, Robespierre did it. And in this nation right now, we have people who know how the game is played. They know how power works and they know how vitally important it is to eradicate the idea that there is an ultimate moral authority, that there is a fixed point of reference.
It's interesting to me that when, you know, whenever the Communists took over a country, be it in Asia or Africa or anywhere else, they'd have these indoctrination classes and they'd start taking all the peasants and the workers and everybody else and they'd put 'em in these classes, mandatory. Did they study Marxism? No. Did they study the tenets of socialism and socialist economy? No. What did they study? Evolution. The first thing the Communists wished to establish is that there is no God; there is no authority higher than the state.
"We are the big kid on the playgrounds." I want to tell you something. The only reason we have freedom in America now is because somewhere back there in the beginning somebody said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The whole idea of liberty and democracy is founded on the idea that there is a just and moral God calling the shots. When you lose that, you as a nation are in big trouble. Now, this is why it is so very, very, very, very important for you to realize where you're sitting. I say that figuratively. Are you sittin' on the chair that's fixed, that's separate from yourself?
There's a God Who is the origin of all things, Who is the moral absolute over all things, Who is self-existent, self-defining, Who has created you for a reason, for a purpose, for destiny, Who wants to have fellowship with you. And of course, that's why Jesus came to earth, was to get rid of that sin problem so that you could have fellowship with Him.
I wanna just share somethin' with ya. It's not exactly in the script but I'll get a little personal. I'm gonna share my heart just a little bit. I mean, my personal heart. I wrote This Present Darkness back in 1983. Actually, I wrote it from '78 to '83, took me five years, and finally got published in '86.
You know, when you write a book like that, suddenly you kinda get labeled as the expert on spiritual warfare and everybody wants to share their experiences with you, and you find yourself kinda being deluged with every horrible sordid story and testimony you can imagine.
And then, of course, in order to write books like that, you have to research the occult and the New Age movement and the trends toward Neopaganism in our culture. And I just want to be honest with you and I think you can probably relate to this. If you have a steady diet of that stuff, it can get to you. It can discourage you.
I guess Satan's attack on me was one of discouragement, depression, futility, kind of like "God, what's the use? Aren't we ever gonna win? Is there nothing but bad news out there?" Well, the Lord deals with all of us in different ways, and I'll tell ya how He dealt with me. No. 1, He said, "Your problem is you got your Kingdoms mixed up. You're expecting some kind of salvation to come out of an earthly kingdom, such as the United States.
Did you know that God does not have a covenant with the United States? (Laughter) God never made any promises to the United States of America. He did to Israel, but He didn't to the United States. Now we are a successful nation up to this point because we followed His tenants and His principles. But I'll tell ya the kingdom God did make promises to: that's the Kingdom of God. That's the body of Christ. That's His church. That's you. (Applause)
(The) second thing the Lord told me was this, "Frank, you're not responsible for everything that happens on this planet." (Laughter) You're sitting in your kitchen, you've got your kids to raise, you got your living to earn, and you're saying to yourself, "The whole world is just falling all apart" and don't feel that you're responsible.
I'll tell ya how the Lord told me, is that I started reading Nehemiah, great book, Nehemiah. You know how Nehimiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem? He had all the people in Jerusalem, they were all kinda given their own little part of the wall. He's got their names and everything. And everybody's assigned their part of the wall. And they've got, you know, they got their bricks, and each guy's responsible for his part of the wall. And they just started and I looked at that and I said, "Yeah." I just want to be a bricklayer. I don't have to build the whole wall; I just have to lay one brick at a time where the Lord told me to lay one brick at a time.
I don't say, (Crying), you know, "What am I gonna do about it? What am I gonna do? I mean, Lord, I gotta do something." I kinda felt the Lord saying, "Frank, why don't you go upstairs and type out a few pages? (Laughter) Do some writing; that's what I called you to do." You know I kinda get this really neat picture in my mind, every time I write a book, every time I finish a page, it's kinda like putting another brick in the wall.
And yeah there's those Tobiah's and Sanballat's, out there, those bad guys from the book of Nehemiah, "You're never gonna build a wall. You can't possibly succeed. We're gonna put a work order, a stop work order against you. We're gonna call the county. We're gonna take you to court. We're gonna do all this other stuff." (Laughter) Just keep laying those bricks in the wall. (Laughter) What does that mean? How do you do that? Well, be Jesus, be Jesus wherever you are. Be Jesus.
Look at what Peter says: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have." The interesting thing about that verse is, He says "be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you." First, they have to ask you. Peter is assuming they're gonna ask you. Why would they ask you? Because you've got something they see that they want.
If you're not being Jesus, and you're not showing His love, they ain't gonna ask ya, 'cause they're not gonna be interested. What did Jesus do as He walked the earth? He did good; He did good. Look at what Peter says, "Do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ …" Yeah, we get talked about maliciously; we get slandered. We get name-called; we get accused of hatred and so forth. "That those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Live such good lives among the pagans, that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. For it is God's will that by doing good, you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."
Can't you see yourself sittin' on the solid rock Who is Christ? You're sittin' on that fixed point of reference. You got your feet on the Solid Rock, but you're in the middle of a river. And here's this raging river (Sound effect) flowing by ya. Here comes your neighbor and my neighbor, the people you work with, people who are struggling, trying to find truth. And they're going to argue, "Oh, there's no absolute truth," but boy, they sure wish there was, 'cause it's in the middle of the night. It's at the end of the day that they are striving to find meaning and peace in their lives.
You never know what the Holy Spirit might be saying to them through you. And if you're sitting on that solid rock, (Sound of snap of fingers) that's your chance. Reach out your hand. Be Jesus. Put another brick in the wall right where you are. Be Jesus and reach out.
John: A heartfelt appeal to reach out to those around you and with that, we've come to the end of a really tremendous presentation from author and speaker, Frank Peretti.
Jim: John, love this message from Frank. It reminds us to reflect God's character of love and truth to others and that's such a vital message today. We need to have confidence in our message when we talk about our Christian worldview, when we engage a world that doesn't know Jesus. Frank has illustrated that so well in the past couple of programs and I'm glad we've been able to bring this to you.
Another way we're engaging the culture here at Focus is through The Truth Project. We did this a few years ago, but it's till goin' strong. It's a DVD series that recognizes God is our Creator and uh ... requires us to consider that we have a moral standard to maintain. It explains our purpose as human beings and how God wants relationship with us, while at the same time, looking at various areas of our lives and how we're impacted through science and history and theology.
It used to be that you had to go through a training to get the DVD curriculum, but to get the word out and to get this content out, we've decided to make it available for anyone who would like to purchase it. And I would urge you to get The Truth Project. It comes in a 7-DVD set and when you send a gift of $100 or more to support the work of Focus on the Family, um ... helping us to share the Gospel with millions of people, we'll send you The Truth Project as our way of saying thank you.
John: Hm ... it really is a fantastic series. I've seen it. A couple of my kids have seen it and we want you to see it and to share it with a small group of family or friends. And we'll send that to you as Jim said, when you make a generous gift of $100 or more to support the work of Focus on the Family, helping us to share the Gospel with millions worldwide. And as we close, let me share what one listener told us the other day. They said, "Thank you so much for teaching me how to raise my children with love and discipline. I really appreciate you keeping me up to date on current issues from a biblical, moral perspective. I've listened in the car while working since 1994 and I love the variety of topics and speakers and their heart for God and deep knowledge. Thank you so much and keep on for God's glory."
Well, with your prayers and your financial support, we will keep on. And uh ... we trust that you're a part of that support team. If you're not, please donate today. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459. Or visit www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and made possible by generous listeners like you. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, hoping you have a great weekend and inviting you back on Monday. You'll hear how school teachers have inspired students throughout the years, as we present recorded calls from listeners and help you and your family thrive.
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Frank PerettiView Bio
Best-selling Christian novelist Frank Peretti has more than 15 million books in print spanning nearly three decades. His 1986 debut novel, This Present Darkness, launched him into the public eye two years after it first hit shelves, paving the way for his future writing success. Frank and his wife, Barbara, make their home in rural Idaho.