Subversion of the Day- Prayer, a Series: Part IV

 

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Wow, its been quite awhile.  A lot has happened over the last month in my life, which has been the reason for the absence in posts.  But I have now gained some power, love, and sober-mindedness from living in the love of the Spirit of God.  And so, it is time to be intentional about this being a blog with a legitimate focus on subversion, you know, everyday.  So with that in mind, lets get back to subversion through prayer!

Returning to the passage in Matthew 21, we see that as soon as Jesus got done Hulk-ing out on everybody, he did the very next thing you would expect a pissed-off saviour to do: he healed people.  Wait, that’s not what you would expect.  But this was what Jesus was about; afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted.  And the religious elite did exactly what you would expect the religious elite to do: they were pissed that He did amazing things.

Wait… Oh, wait, that is what most people expect the religious elite to do.

I don’t say that with joy.  It is unfortunate that many of those who represent the “one’s who got it right”, at least in America, are the one’s who you could imagine in this situation getting mad at Jesus for healing people, muttering that they only came to get healed.  Or getting mad at kids for yelling “Save us, Son of David”, cause they’re kids.  They need to wait until they are older and have something of substance to contribute instead of just being loud.  Please take them to Children’s Church.  So like some today would possibly say to Jesus, they say “Do you hear what these are saying?”  I can imagine Jesus saying with a you-really-don’t-hear-what-you-are-saying tinged “Yeah, yeah I do.”  And then he quotes from a Psalm which says out of the mouth of babies you have prepared praise, and then leaves.

Cut to the chase.  What’s this got to do with prayer?

Right.  The Greek translation of the word praise is ainos, and it means a saying, proverb, praise, or something said out loud.  So easily, you can see that Jesus, by defending the blind and lame by healing them (these disabilities were typically attributed to sin in their lives) and defending the children, he was saying that in My Father’s house, a house of prayer, even the ones you don’t welcome are welcome.  In prayer, we must consider and defend those who are pushed down and oppressed by others.  To further show this, when you look at this passage that Jesus quotes as translated in the Psalms, it reads more like “you make strength come from babies that silences the enemy and the avenger.”  God’s strength resides in those without strength, and by defending those without strength in prayer and in action, we silence the oppressors.  Subvert the powers today.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:5

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Subversion of the Day- Have No Fear

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With it being Halloween, I thought it fitting (like I am sure a thousand other people) to tackle the subject of the day.  Though this may end up sounding a little bit like a past post, I want to take it in a new direction.  The Subversion of the Day is to have no fear.  On Halloween, fear and fun, or trick and treat, rule the streets.  I want to be clear on the onset of this that I am not out to bash Halloween.  I think that is kind of a fool’s errand, and there are much greater, much more evil of social institutions to throw my weight against… like Christmas or Easter (I kid… sort of).  But there is that common theme of fear that is associated with this holiday, or holy day to some.  When the night creeps in, and strange noises began to tear a part your mind, thinking that some crazed maniac, some ghastly specter, some evil-possessed entity is about to descend upon you…

But how often does that actually happen?


I think there could be something cathartic about the fear induced around Halloween, if we allow it to challenge our desire to flee from things that cause us fright.  But the fear I am speaking of is much more sinister, much more insidious, much darker.  Everyday we go through life carrying certain fears and doubts and uncertainties.  Fear of the unknown, fear of those different than us, fear of change.  We are often crippled by this.  And this is the realm that I think the real evil, the real darkness, the real demonic finds the fruits of it’s labors.  This Halloween stuff is chicanery, slight-of-hand.  The real powers of darkness want you to look the other way, while they are convincing you to walk through your life in fear of really living.  Because when we do that, we disconnect from relying on the God that truly loves us.

So how do we fight the real darkness?

 

I good place to start in subverting the darkness is not to wage an all out war on all things scary and Halloween-like… but maybe just take it out of your life.  Don’t watch so many movies, read so many books, think so many thoughts that relate to terror.  Instead, think about things that are good, holy, of great worth.  Think about how Jesus changes the world, and brings light to cause darkness to hide wherever He goes.  And then, when you are really ready to tackle the true strong holds of darkness, question the fear that society, and yourself, implant in you:

Fear of other nations/ ethnic groups

Fear of other religions

Fear of other orientations

Fear of other ideologies or political affiliations

Fear of failure

Fear of loss

Fear of death…

When we question fear to its face, it usually doesn’t have much to say.  When you carry the light of Christ with you, the darkness, and fear, has no other option but to flee.  Subvert the powers today.

PS:  I may talk big game, but the picture at the top of this page gives me cold chills every time I think of it, lol.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.  So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.

 1 John 4:18

Subversion of the Day- Consistency

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Is this thing still on?  Man, crazy stuff going on in my life right now- school, work, the greatest marriage ever, preparing to move away from the only state I have ever lived in.  It is like my world is falling apart, and coming together at the same time.  So please stick with me as I figure this out and deal with the Subversion of the Day- being consistent.

I love these little ideas that seem to have nothing to do with a revolutionary existence of under-throwing the powers of darkness.  But the real power is in the powerless!  So how appropriate that something as small as being consistent has such affirmative, life changing power!  If you can’t tell from my month long disappearance, i severely struggle with consistency.  I love to passionately start something, get distracted, and quickly forget about any commitment I ever made towards it.  I get the feeling that a good chunk of the world is like this.  But it is in our consistency that we see real fruit of change.

Maybe it is the only place we see real change?

Revolutions typically aren’t things that just poof out of thin air over night.  They are great events that have had long term influences.  If we really want to see darkness cast out in our lives and in our communities, then we must stick with what we start, or at least not abandon things.

Take time today to think through things you have committed to and have given up on when things were difficult, not what you wanted, or no longer interesting-

A job?A promise?
A commitment?
A relationship?
A resolution?
… a faith?

Or maybe just a blog.  Either way, in order to walk in the way of Jesus, you have to die to the sinful urge to give up.  Perseverance is key, in seeking the Kingdom, and seeing good things in your life.  Some heroes of the faith that I try to stand on the shoulders of say that real change doesn’t happen in the community until the 10th year of doing something.  You can’t expect to see real change in yourself and your life if you cant keep up with something after the 10th day.  I am taking this time to repent of my own lack of commitment and consistency by recommitting to making this blog a prophetic voice for change.  Maybe more consistent than lengthy is the answer.  Let’s find out together.  Subvert the powers today.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Subversion of the Day: Get a Tattoo

 

Now before you run out and say I told you to get all inked up: take a breath, read past the title, and decide for yourself, not because some moron on a blog said to do something or not to do something.

A friend of mine and myself have begun to routinely meet during the week at a coffee shop in Richmond, Ky (Purdy’s- check it out: http://www.purdyscoffee.com) to talk about major issues that are on the forefront of predominant youth culture- good stuff like drug abuse, self affliction, and pre-marital sex. 

Fair warning: these meeting may shape future blog posts.

So, the first topic was the inherit goodness or badness of getting a tattoo.  Now, because of a misreading of a verse in Leviticus, I have always had a disdain for tattoos of deceased family members.  To me, you could get pretty much anything, like a turtle riding a motorcycle in a hurricane on the small of your back, whatever, just as long as you were not memorializing the dead.  I was convinced that was what the Bible said.

That was, of course, until I actually read what the Bible said on the topic.

So, we came to the conclusion together that the Hebrew Bible injunction against tattoos does not necessarily pass over to the life of the subversive Christ-follower.  But, we still wondered what the purpose for one was, if there was one.  This lead us to two principle ideas in the New Testament that shaped our thinking.  One, paraphrased, mentioned that all things are allowed for Christians, but not all things are beneficial.  What is amazing about this is it in a way releases you from certain legislative bonds, and yet chains you to something greater- responsibility.  We become responsible for what we do.  So, the desire is to then do the most beneficial thing. 

Is getting a tattoo beneficial?

For the culture that I live in, yes it is.  I am more likely to spend time with a tattoo-riddled drug dealer than a CEO.  I am also more like to spend time with artistic types who express themselves in that way then reserved, evangelicals who think tattoos are a sin.  So simply, the benefit of the tattoo is that it can help me become “all things to all men (or women)”, which is another idea from the Bible.

Getting a tattoo is subversive because it is frowned upon by the dominant culture, and if you are a being that can shift in and out of the dominant culture, you show that the mentality of the “tattoo-riddled, food-stamp using masses” is an often unfair stereotype, and assumes that poor people cannot ever have anything nice if  they receive any kind of assistance, when in fact, many tattoos of the poor are done by a friend or relative for fairly cheap.  When you have a tattoo, you become more open to a certain set of folks, and that openness can lead to pointing them to Christ, which leads to ultimate, lasting life change.

So, in light of this, I am planning to get my first tattoo this year.  But I have some stipulations- to make getting a tattoo more subversive, I am trying to contact a local tattoo parlor to see if they would donate a portion of their proceeds the day that I get my tattoo to The Salvation Army, so I also know that actually purchasing my tattoo goes to creating change and helping others.  Think about getting a tattoo with me.  Subvert the powers today.

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Subversion of the Day- Ride a Bicycle

So, I rode my bike today.  And it was really great, but I felt pretty terrible at one point.  I am pretty out of shape.  But, necessity calls for one to do things to meet one’s needs, and I needed to get to school.  So bike it is.  However, i am thankful because riding a bicycle really is a great way to subvert the powers and principalities of this world.  Here are some examples:

– Biking saves you money on gas, which other than helping you save, it prevents you from buying gasoline, which most assuredly is acquired through the blood of others.

-Also with gasoline, the burning of it leads to further destruction of the world as we know it, and riding a bike helps to reduce that, or at least your involvement in it.

-Riding a bike is an easy way to keep your health in check.  Daily exercise is hard to come by, but allowing yourself a half an hour before and after work/school/whatever to transport yourself assures that you stay healthy

And in one of the most interesting things that riding bikes does is cause people to think clearer when they are driving.  Most people are prone to road rage.  So, if you ride a bicycle on a busy street, you really force those around you in a non-coercive way to think about how they react to others, and challenge their hearts and intentions.  That is very Christ-like.

So, ride a bike today, and spread the Kingdom of God.  Subvert the powers today.

Subversion of the Day- When You Fail, Try Again

 

 

To begin today’s subversion, I think it is important to let you know I tried this little experiment blogging once before at everdaysubversive.blogspot.com, and I failed miserably.  I wanted it to be revolutionary, incendiary, an anonymous cohort of writers, and aggressive.  I wanted my blog to change the Church, and the world.

God said nope.

Instead, it was left to fester and rot after one legitimate post.  And the problems were obvious; too many voices muddle the intent, anonymity can be devoid of integrity, the times were still changing, and aggressive in that sense is not the way of the Cross.  But that doesn’t mean that God couldn’t take the idea, alter it, purify it a little more, and make it something good, or at least better.

Something that actually subverts the powers.

You see, there are spirits that tell us lies all around us.  Whether you believe that is an actual demonic spirit or the zeitgeist (spirit of the times), we all believe it in one way or another.  And those spirits cannot be taken as truth just because they exist.  We must test them for truth.  The truth is that God wants all to follow Him, and wants good for all of those who follow Him; so by proxy, He wants good for all.  Not defeatism.

So today, you can subvert the powers (spirits) by trying something again.  Tell that voice that says you are a failure and should give up that it is not of the Truth, and you seek Truth today.  Get up, and try something again (for the record, the “spirits” didn’t want this getting out- i accidentally deleted all of this a few minutes ago.  I ain’t afraid of no ghosts).  Subvert the powers today.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,

but test the spirits to determine if they are from God,

because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you know the Spirit of God:

Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God.

This is the spirit of the antichrist;

you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

1 John 4:1-3

Subversion of the Day- Be a Friend to Somebody

Friendship is a strong sign of the Kingdom come.  Christ even said that there was no greater love than that someone would lay down their life for their friends.  And really, that was Christ’s purpose- to lay down His life to make us friends of God.  And by proxy, friends of each other.  But for some reason, those of us who love revolution, who love waging war against the forces of darkness and corruption in this world don’t always see that friendship really changes anything.

However, friendship changes everything.

To really be someone one’s friend, means that you are willing to lay down your life for them.  If we are talking about bullets, most say that they will jump in front of the oncoming onslaught to save the life of the one’s they love.  They would be willing to die for that person, no questions asked.

But what if you are the one firing the gun?

See, we sometimes through ideas, accusations, obstacles, and an assortment of other nasty things that start with vowels at those we love, and refuse to be the one to stop those bullets.  Or, maybe we stop before that.  Maybe we refuse to love our friends, and fire it will.  (I like Will, whoever he is.  I don’t want to shoot him.)  I have experienced some who suggest that those in ministry (and also in the social work field) should avoid “enmeshment,” which means to get to connected with a person you are having a semi-intimate, professional relationship with.   But Christ is not a model for such an activity.  He did a whole bunch of enmeshin’; he spent most of His time with His disciples, ate with them, walked with them, probably had to run away from a few conflicts with them.  The greatest example of being enmeshed?  Yep, He died for them, even when they ran scared from dying, and left Him alone.  Some friends.

Christ was enmeshed.

And His cry to us is “Come, follow me” and “Take up my cross.”  So what does this look like in practice?  It depends on the two persons and their situation on specifics, but really the focus is to make a person a part of your family.  Eat with them.  Laugh and cry with them.  Be honest and gentle with them.  Be willing to listen to their stupid, repeated stories and their struggles.

Die for them.

Friendship will help us see the foundations and the walls of the Kingdom of God.  Subvert the powers today.

Love consists in this: not that we loved God,

but that He loved us and sent His Son

to be the propitiation for our sins.  

Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.

 No one has ever seen God.

If we love one another,

 God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:-12

Subversion of the Day: Worship Only the One True God

 

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To begin, this is not a critique on other religions.  That is an issue to discuss, but not one for this day.  No this daily subversion strikes a little closer to home.  The axe is laid at the trees in your own back yard, not in your neighbors. 

This is about idolatry.

So what, you may ask, does idolatry have to do with subverting the powers on a daily basis.  Everything, dear reader, everything.  This is an issue of Kingdom and the king that we serve. You see, most people have this understanding of an idol in a biblical sense; idols are figures that are used for the purpose of worshipping a deity that may or may not be in that object, but does bear a resemblance to the object that is created.  So, if I worship dogs, I have a little dog statue.

But many take a different understanding than this ancient one.  I actually pose the question “what is an idol” on my Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/joshua.coffman.5 ) recently, and received several interesting answers.  One person said:

“Anything or anyone that u put before God….Sumthing u can’t do with out or live without….anything u put first or is ur first priority over God”

I think that is pretty much spot on.  I especially like the statement of something you can’t do without or live without.  Don’t take this out of context and say that we all idolize food, water, and air.  But the truth is that if we said each of these were more important than God, or that we decided we would rather have any of these than God, then we have pretty strongly indicated that which we worship.

The interesting thing is things that we say we don’t need, but act as if we do.  If you read yesterday’s post ( https://everydaysubversive.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/subversion-of-the-day-rest/ ), you could see that I acknowledged something that had the potential to be my god, which was the computer/internet access/ whatever.  I decided to take a break from it one day a week.  I am conveying to it, myself, and the whole world that I can do without it, but I cannot do without Christ.

So what is your idol?

This is where we have to really assess ourselves.  We can really idolize anything, and the fact of the matter is the more we perpetrate this false worship, the more we give room for the powers of this world to consume and control us.  We have to take a stand, and dethrone our miniature kings, and tell them there is only one King.  The possibilities are endless to what we can idolize:

Clothing

Money

Friends

Family

The Government

Celebrity (ies)

Prestige

Security

Convenience

Low Cost

Self

 

That last one usually is at the epicenter of the others.  We make ourselves our own God, and prescribe to ourselves worship.  So, figure out what you worship other than the one true God, and tear it down.  Subvert the powers today.

 

“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

Matthew 6:19-24

 

Subversion of the Day- Rest

 

We live in a culture that believes that consistently going is the best option, and that to slow down means death.  This, I must say, is corruption.  And I for one have fallen hook, line and sinker.  For example, I am writing this at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I have to get up to point kids to Christ in about 5 hours, and teach them how to fight the darkness.  I don’t plan on going to sleep for another 2 hours.  If we do not slow down, we die.  It is true; machines break down without maintenance; relationships tear without passionate investment; people die from exhaustion, literally and physically.

We need rest.

So the Subversion of the Day is to have a day of rest.  Now before you start calling me an out-of-touch bible-thumper or something equally as true, slow down a sec.  See what I did there?  I do not seek to be dogmatic about day of the week, or provide a list of activities accepted and not accepted.  This is about what allows you to rest, or recharge.  If being in the woods rejuvenates you, make that a part of your day of rest.  If it doesn’t, don’t.  The important thing is to see the importance of the activity: allowing ourselves time to recharge maintains us as a vessel to be used in God’s Kingdom.  It enables us to let out deal with pain and struggle of our week, so that we can consistently be an example of what Christ wants His people to be.

To subvert the powers, sometimes you have to take a break from subverting the powers.

So here is, for those interested, my example of what I will be doing to rest.  In a way I have split my day of rest into two parts, because in a way, neither is really a full day of rest for me.  On my day off during the week from acting as the Youth and Outreach Director at The Salvation Army, Richmond KY Corps, I spend time at a bible study I don’t have to prepare for (and I get to eat at), meeting with a similar saint that can encourage me, and spending copious amounts of time thinking, reading, and writing at Purdy’s Coffeehouse, drinking copious amounts of coffee.  This is super restful.  This isn’t giving to others, this is about me.  But one thing I need rest from I do not rest from on that day.  I will give you a hint to what that is: I am typing on it.  If you read my previous post Ode to the God of the 21st Century, you can see that I am prone to idol worship.  I need to cut ties with this device at least one day a week, so that way it doesn’t try to climb up on the throne of the King in my life again.

I am going throw back with this one.

This will officially be my first and last post for this blog on Sundays.  I am severing my connection from the internet on the commonly accepted Sabbath day to rest, and remember the God who can communicate to me without bright screen and a motherboard.  I am going to trust that He wants me to rest, and that the world won’t fall apart in that time frame.  I hope it doesn’t.  But if it does, I won’t know, because I won’t be checking Facebook.

Pick your own day to rest, and really find those things that allow you to recharge and be prepared to fight away the darkness and stand for the Kingdom every day.  Subvert the powers today.

 

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Matthew 2:23-27

Subversion of the Day, and The Campaign movie review

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Last night, my wife and I went to see The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis for a date after a long week of work.  I expected it to be pretty low brow, and it was more or less off my radar other than thinking the trailers looked funny, but nevertheless, we chose to see it.  And at the end of it, I left the theater feeling like I had fallen in a septic tank.  The copious amounts of invasive, sexual humor just coated me in this film that made me feel disgusted when it was over.

Their plan worked.

See, I am pretty sure their plan was to make me feel uncomfortable.  But what I don’t think they intended was the commentary on the filthiness of the American political system.  Greed, corruption, adultery, deceit, violence, slander, religious posturing for votes, embellished patriotism for supporters; these are all things that are present in our current political conscience, and many of them are a part of campaign tactics.  But the movie plays Galifianakis’ character Marty Huggins as the goofy, loveable imbecile who is the one who stands for what he believes.  And in the end, all is made right.  (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) Marty doesn’t “win” the election, but is handed it by his opponent because he sees goodness in him, and then Marty lets the dogs out on the corrupt business men who tried to manipulate the whole thing.  Things are right, all is well, the political system is upheld.  This is all well and good, except one tiny problem.

This is fiction.  Not reality.

Marty Huggins was prone to corruption during the campaign.  He stooped to the level of Cam Brady (MORE SPOILERS); getting him drunk and allowing him to drive home, shooting him with a rifle in the leg, manipulating his son for a campaign ad… there is more, but it is irrelevant.  He was brought to the low level of his rival.  And he also left his financial backers when they said they were essentially selling his district to China, and he went after them later with his newly gained power.  But, he was still corrupted.  So, what now stops him from succumbing to other pressures, like lobbyists pushing him to sign into law something that would keep his constituency, but goes against his morals, or even his desires for his office as representative.  No person is an adequate representative of the desires of another.

Except one.

 

And this is where the Subversion of the Day come into play.  Let’s give it it’s own title-

 

Subversion of the Day: Engage in Critical Conversation Over

Popular Culture, and Point it Back to Christ

 

Christ is the only legitimate, accurate representative we have.  He knows our best interests, and actually wants them to come to pass.  He is not bound by the continuance of His office as King of Kings- it is eternal, and without realistic challenge.  He does not have to uphold the whims of his constituency, but instead, works together all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.  He is King.  So why do we think we need people who are prone to corruption because their OFFICE is prone to corruption making decisions that relegate our freedom?  WE ARE ALREADY FREE!  To live in the Kingdom means not to challenge the authorities in a violent, aggressive way, or even really in a political way.  It is to live differently.  To not disobey laws, but live as though legislation is not necessary, because grace fills our lives, and we guide each other. 

One last thing.  Marty Huggins is a good example of change though, in his pre-corrupt stage.  He is weird, he is a little dumb, and he is viewed as weak and silly.  But he cares.  This is foolishness to the system he works in.  And the cross of Christ is foolishness to the world- it is weak, shameful, weird, dumb, and silly.  We must be these things to point out the corruption and death around us.  We must be like Christ, and live differently, and not allow ourselves to be corrupted by the systems of this world.  We must be subversive.

This brings us full circle to the Subversion of the Day- engage in critical conversation over popular culture, and point it back to Christ.  Use the interests of the world around you to point others to the truth of reality, which ultimately, is that Christ changes things, and His Kingdom is better than all others, and it will reign after all others crumble.  Subvert the powers today.

 

“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”

“You are a king then?” Pilate asked.

“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

“What is truth?” said Pilate

John 18:36-38