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Reliable Truth

Author: Richard E Simmons III

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Welcome to Reliable Truth with best-selling author Richard E Simmons III.
Are you searching for truth in your life? Looking for talks that will get you thinking? Each week Richard talks on topics like how to find happiness in your work, or how to improve your marriage. Listen anytime – on the way to work or over a lunch break – and you should come away feeling challenged and encouraged.
76 Episodes
Today I'd like to share a principle that I believe is the most important principle in all of life. I want to start with a theory that has to do with this principle, then close with how to apply this in your life. Jack Welch, the well-known retired CEO of General Electric had this principle as the core of his management philosophy: the key trait of a vital, dynamic corporations is this: looking reality straight in the eye, then acting upon it with as much speed as you can. He shares, "At GE you could be a hero no matter who you were or what you looked like. All you had to do was face reality and perform... yet I found it hard for people to actually do this... Self-delusion can grip an entire organization, and lead the people in it to ridiculous conclusions..." Looking reality in the eye is to see things as they really are, not the way it was and not the way we wish it would be. Year after year Welch would tell a particular story to drive the point home to his employees. Tune in to hear his story, and more!
If you were to Google the question "What is the good life?", you'd be overwhelmed by the response. Some of the answers are shopping, consumption, places to live. You'll find a host of books that offer formulas on how to find the good life. There are many retail stores that sell goods that promote the good life. Buy this, and it will contribute to your life.  But what you won't find is that the good life is a life of wisdom and knowledge that leads to a virtuous life. Instead, most of the entries involve material pursuits and games, which sadly, I think, reflects our modern definition of what's good. There seems to be a huge gap for so many adults between the life that we dream of and believe we deserve, and the life that we actually end up with. I believe this is why Pulitzer prize-winning author John Cheever made this observation. He said, "The main emotion of the adult American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment." And for this reason, though we may never share this with anybody, I think we always seem to find ourselves looking for a better life. But the question is, where are we looking and what are we putting our hope in?
My message that I'm sharing with you today is, I believe, one of the most important messages to anyone that I would describe as a church-going person, or a person with a church background.  This message is a result of two experiences I had. The first comes from a number of conversations I've had with men who are struggling with life and with their faith - church going men who intellectually believe in Christianity but who would acknowledge that clearly their faith has no impact on their day-to-day lives. Their faith is not a big priority in their lives, and they don't seem to be too concerned about it - this is where they are. The second comes from my experience closely reading the New Testament and what it says about having a real, legitimate faith in Christ. I would ask you to listen carefully, to think clearly about what I am saying, and to be honest with yourself in where you are. Ask yourself, "How does this message apply to me spiritually?
Today I want to continue discussing the heart of a man as we look at this question: What is it that men really want? In Dr. Armand Nicholi's book The Question of God, he says this is what he's observed about the faculty and students at Harvard, "They avoid examining their lives, and they do not seem to want to understand themselves. They are afraid of what they might discover." Is this true of us as men? Are we afraid to confront the truth about ourselves? I am reminded of a quote by George Gilder: "Men lust, but they do not know what for. They wander and lose track of the goal. They fight and compete, but they forget the prize. They spread seed, but spurn the seasons of growth. They chase power and glory but miss the meaning of life." We are all in search of something. What are you looking for?
How well do you know yourself? How well do you understand yourself?  In John Calvin's massive work called The Institutes of the Christian Religion, he opens the volume with this: "All true wisdom consists of two parts: knowledge of God and knowledge of self." French philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “One must know oneself. Even if that does not help in finding truth, at least it helps in running one’s life...” Yet in this, we come to realize we have a problem. King David realized this in Psalm 64:6 when he stated, "Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep." So what is this driving force in our lives? Join me today as I delve into this important conversation!
Today I'd like to start by sharing with you how I came upon this message. At The Center, we do a lot of one-on-one meetings. One of the guys that I meet with is in his mid-30s, a very sharp young man, well-educated and articulate. He shared with me that he struggles with fear in his life, and we’ve talked a lot about those fears. And there’s another guy that is a good bit older, and who’s very, very wealthy, and has done extremely well in his life. He shared with me how he wakes up in the middle of the night and he’s got all these fears running wild in his mind, and he that can’t sleep well.  From these and other discussions, I’ve concluded that if you met either one of these men and interacted with them, you would never in your wildest dreams think that they had any worries because they seemed to be “so together.”  I’ve concluded how easy it is for us as men to fake and pretend that we have no worries in life. You know, men aren’t supposed to worry. We’re supposed to be fearless, and yet, what I’m realizing is that, that’s not the case in most of our lives. You see, fear is a powerful emotion. Today I'd like to discuss the main four causes of fear in our lives. I pray that you will gain valuable insights from today's podcast!
Many scholars would agree that probably one of the most thoughtful books written in the last 30 or 40 years is Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer prize-winning book, The Denial of Death. Becker wrote, “Every person seems to have a need for cosmic significance”. In other words, purpose and meaning in their lives.  He says, throughout history, all the way up until modern times, people knew that they had value and purpose because of the transcendent, because of God. Becker said, throughout history people knew their place in the universe, they knew who they were, they knew their value and identity. He adds, but modern people have lost this. They’ve lost that sense of purpose. He said, “We have become secular.” So where do we find our meaning in life? Well, 3500 years ago, King Solomon said in the book of Proverbs, that our knowledge of God is where we get our understanding of life; our knowledge of God is how we interpret life. Dr. Tim Keller says, “How we relate to God is the foundation of our thinking. It determines our view of life in the world.” What keeps us from finding real meaning in life? If I believe in God, why doesn’t my belief really impact my life? Join me for today's podcast as I discuss the answers to these questions. 
Today I have a special guest, Drayton Nabers, speaking on the role of Christ in the life of business.  When we’re doing business, we can think that spiritual things are to be done with nonprofits or in the Church, but not in the business world. When we’re in business, we’ve got to make some money. We’ve got to work hard. It’s a competitive marketplace out there. We gotta be tough. So, therefore, why Christ? Well, Christ has an important role to play in the life of your business. He’s there with you, and He wants you to succeed. And by His Grace, He wants to equip you and empower you, and give you the wisdom to practice whatever you do in the business world in a way that brings Him glory.  So, what does the Bible have to say about the world of work and what does it have to say about God in the workplace? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. I hope you enjoy it!
How can I live a life that has purpose and meaning? That is the topic of today's podcast, Part 3. In Part 1, we talked about how many people see happiness as a feeling. We looked at all of the destructive tendencies that creep into a person’s life when they believe that pleasure is the source of true happiness in life.  In Part 2, we considered the factors that lead to happiness, starting with God’s role. We concluded that God is the true source of happiness. But to really get this, I must ask myself: What kind of man do I want to become? We tend to focus on what we’re experiencing, but God is more interested in the kind of men we’re becoming. When you become a man of strong Godly character, then obedience to God becomes natural. So we talked about the importance of obedience.  How does Christ play a role in helping you find purpose and meaning in life? Answering this question is critical. It’s the foundation of finding true purpose and meaning in life. This is Part 3 of my 3-part series. I hope you enjoy it!
*This episode has been updated to correct an error that occurred last week. Enjoy! What is it that satisfies the thirst of the soul?  In Part 1, we talked about how many people see happiness as a feeling. We looked at all of the destructive tendencies that creep into a person’s life when they believe that pleasure is the source of true happiness in life. What is the role that God plays in the search for happiness? Why is He important in finding happiness? Let's start by thinking about the human desires of the body. When we enter into this life we have four basic desires - all physical desires. We get hungry, thirsty and tired, so we eat, we drink and we rest. Then we hit puberty and our sexual desire kicks in. These four basic desires of the body called the sensual side of life. Yet what is this desire that we have for joy and happiness, for peace, to love and be loved - not sex, but to love and be loved? It’s not a physical desire. It’s a spiritual desire. It’s a desire of the heart and the soul. Again, what satisfies hunger? Food? What satisfies thirst? Drink. So where I want to go with this today, guys, is to ask the question, "What is the role that God plays in all of this?" If he satisfies this thirst in our souls for joy and happiness and peace and love, how does that happen? What is His role in our lives? What is his role in this elusive search of happiness that people are having so much trouble with? This is Part 2 of my 3-part series. I hope you enjoy it!
I truly believe that many adults experience great unhappiness in life. A lot of them experience depression, which is not something that people want to admit, particularly men. We’re supposed to be on top of things, we’re supposed to be competent, together, and to acknowledge our unhappiness is something that we’d rather not do. This is a fascinating topic and I've found that it really is resonating with so many people that I’ve been sharing it with. So, the question is, where is happiness found in this life? Over the next 3 podcasts, we’re going to explore this.  In our search for happiness, does God have a role to play? Why is He important in finding happiness? I believe that happiness is a byproduct of living in the center of God’s will. You see, God never intended for happiness to be the object of life. It’s a byproduct of living our lives in the center of God’s will. When we seek to be in the will of God, we will find we are living in harmony with our design. We’ll be living the life that we were meant to live. This is Part 1 of my 3-part series. I hope you enjoy it!
The Mystery of Evil

The Mystery of Evil


So much has been written on the issue of evil, but today I'd like to take all that I have read over the last six weeks on evil and try to distill it down into a 45-minute presentation. I pray that it will be enlightening to you. If at any point you get hung up with anything I’m saying, just hang on with me because we’ll keep going. I've taught a two-part series on “Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?” where I discussed evil in a general way. There’s a difference in natural evil, like a natural disaster or physical disease and what I want to cover this morning, which is human or moral evil.   The issues that I raise this morning about moral evil are crucial for any thinking person to understand. I ask you to hang with me as I go through this, and I think when we get to the end, you will see that there is a critical application to every single one of us. My prayer is that each of us would be open to see what God would show us about our own hearts.
Today I'd like to talk about something that's very important to me - I call it the Great Paradox of Life.  The apostle Paul addresses this in I Corinthians 1:18-24, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Paul is contrasting the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of men to the wisdom of God. I am sharing this with you because I believe there truly is an art to living this life, and because life is governed by certain principles. Wisdom is seeking to live your life in harmony with these principles.  So many of God's important truths are foreign to the world because they are counter-intuitive. Yet the truth and the wisdom of God is often paradoxical.
The topic that I want to address this morning is fascinating.  And, I believe that it will be of real benefit to you. One would think this concept is just common sense.  Unfortunately, many modern people don’t seem to use common sense.  I'd like to start with some words that I know you’re familiar with: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  These are the opening words of the Declaration of Independence.   Of course, that was 1776.  From those words, we in America as a nation seem to have this foundational belief that there truly is a connection between liberty, or freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, and finding happiness.  Now, fast-forward 13 years from the signing of the Declaration to 1789, when George Washington gave his first inaugural address. In that inaugural address, he added a little something to that thought.  Washington said, “There exists, in human nature, an indissoluble union between freedom, virtue, and happiness.”  He threw in that word virtue.   So here, 13 years later, Washington realized that in order to have a free society, there has to be a certain character quality in the people.  There has to be an ability to have self-restraint.  He says, “This is necessary for any culture to flourish.”  But, as you know, we seem to have lost this understanding of what it really means to be free.
What is it about the human condition that causes us to want to “one-up” someone else all the time? What is it that causes us to, and it makes us feel superior to others? What causes us to always compare ourselves to other people and why is it we’re always worrying about what other people think about us? This is what’s called the pride of life.  C.S. Lewis says that each of us have this great flaw within, and though we see it in other people, and we loathe it, we have a hard time seeing it in our own lives. He says it’s like a spiritual cancer that eats up our souls. It keeps us, he says, from being able to love, or ever find any real contentment in life.  You’re probably thinking, isn’t there a positive side to pride? Yes! There are two definitions. The first is, “justifiable self-respect”. It’s the idea of taking pride in what you do. Seeking to be the very best you can be in what you do, and that’s a positive definition of pride. But what I’m going to be talking to you this morning about is, the simple definition of pride as arrogance or self-conceit - the Greeks called it hubris. To have a too high view of yourself. And Lewis goes on to say that pride, if you really want to get to the heart of it, is really kind of, it’s competitive, so to speak. He says it’s rooted in comparison, where a person wants to be better and superior to you.  We all face this dilemma deep within our souls. So, what does a person do? What am I supposed to do? Tim Keller says that all of us are starved for glory because we have this deep sense in our souls that our lives just don’t really matter. He says the worst thing for a human being is not to be disliked, or to be vilified. He says the worst thing for us, particularly for us as men, is to be ignored. To be overlooked. To feel like my life is just not very significant. And he says, this is why, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we are seeking for glory out in the world. Out in our sphere of influence. And this is why so many men have instability in their hearts because they are desperately seeking to impress and win the approval of others. And, for this reason, and we see this often in our work, we as men are constantly looking for ways to convince the world, and ourselves, that we matter, and that our lives are really important.
Today I am discussing Jesus' parable about the pearl of great value, taken from Matthew 13:44-46. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which a man found and hid, and, for joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Is there anything out in the world that you would sell everything you have for: your house, your cars, any investments you have, liquidate your retirement account, take all of that and sell it so you can get something of great value? You know, in order to do that, it would have to make everything you own pale in comparison to whatever that object is. So today, I want to look at two things 1) What does it mean, to sell everything you have in order to get this treasure? and 2) What is the parable of the pearl merchant all about? Then we’ll look more specifically at the parable of the pearl merchant and what that parable is all about. One thing in context to the parable - pearl merchants were wealthy people. They had to have some degree of wealth because they were always buying and trading pearls which had great value. And so, they had to have some degree of financial wealth in order to stock their inventory.
Today is the last message in my 4-part series on pride and humility. I want to look at how God has special regard for the humble, and then I want to look at how to integrate this life of humility into our personal lives. I want to share a few verses with you and look at how God has special regard and honor for the humble. Psalm 10:17. “Oh, Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble. You will strengthen their heart. You will incline Your ear.” Psalm 25:9 “He leads the humble in justice. He teaches the humble His way.” Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but, with the humble, there is wisdom.” Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” And lastly James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you.”  God has incredible regard and honor for the humble, and what’s interesting is, He doesn’t have that kind of regard for anybody else. This is Part 4 of my 4-Part series. I hope you enjoy it!
This morning, I want to share a few more words with you about pride so that we can truly see how destructive it is in our lives. And then I’m going to share some words on humility. As I’ve said before, pride is so insidious and that it slowly grows and develops in our lives and becomes well-established without our knowledge. God hates it because of what it does to us. And I want to look at one more aspect of pride and how it impacts our thinking in how we regard other people. This is Part 3 of a 4-Part series. In these final two episodes, we’ll look at God’s promises to those who live humbly as they walk through life. There will be a major application in Part 4, so you don't want to miss it.
Today I want to look at the pitfalls of comparison. Comparing ourselves to others impacts our lives, our behavior, our relationships with others, and ultimately it impacts our relationship with God. Now, I’ll start by looking at some scriptures that I think will be helpful, staring with I Thessalonians 2:4, where Paul says, “Just as we’ve been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak not as pleasing men, but God Who examines our hearts.” How is my life, my thinking, my behavior, and the motive of my heart affected by what others think of me? In other words, why do we allow other people’s opinions of us to be the gauge in which we measure our lives? And why do we think our lives don’t count very much, unless they count in the eyes of others? This is Part 2 of a 4-Part series. In the final two episodes, we’ll look at God’s promises to those who live humbly as they walk through life. There will be a major application in Part 4, so you don't want to miss it.
Today I am starting a new series on the issue of pride and humility. In the first two episodes we’ll look at the issue of pride and just how deadly it is in our lives, and then, in the final two episodes, we’ll look at God’s promises to those who live humbly as they walk through life. There will be a major application in Part 4, so you don't want to miss it.  I want to start with the book of Isaiah, chapter two beginning in the twelfth verse. It says, “For the Lord of Hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased. And it will be against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up, against all the oaks of Bashan, against all the lofty mountains, against all the hills that are lifted up, against every high tower, against every fortified wall, against all the ships of Tarsus, and against all the beautiful craft. The pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” Proverbs 16:5 states this in a similar way, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Assuredly he will not go unpunished.” Throughout the Bible you’ll see a phrase, which we’ll talk about in some of our future episodes, which is this, “God is opposed to the proud.”  Now, I think we all have this desire to know, well, who are the proud? Surely not me. I know there are a lot of proud and arrogant people out there, but surely not me. There are two ways to define pride. One of them is "justifiable self-respect"; the idea of striving for excellence and being the best that you can be; the idea of taking pride in what you do. That is a positive definition.  But the pride that God detests, the pride that is such an abomination in His sight is arrogance. And arrogance is nothing more than an internal feeling or impression of superiority over others. The Greeks called it hubris, which meant too high a view of yourself. This is Part 1 of a 4-Part series. I hope you enjoy it!
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