Feb 28, 2019

The Plausible Deniability Clause

I am always amazed at how much the mind can retain and recall with only a hint to remind of us of an event from long ago. I say amazed because some days I can't remember why I came into the kitchen...one of the many joys of sustaining head injuries.

As I sit in a local coffee shop writing this blog, I thought of one such event that took place in this very building about fifty three years ago when I was eight years old. 

The coffee shop has had three different owners over the past twenty three years. Prior to that, the building had been a pharmacy that I would frequent when I was a young lad.

Periodically, my dad would let one or several of us siblings accompany him as he took a walk from our house to the pharmacy to make a purchase. This trip I was the one who went with him.

When we got to the store, my dad gave me some money so that I could pick out something from the candy aisle. I took the money from him and started the process of choosing an item that would meet the allowance given to me.

In short time, I was able to narrow down the wish list to two items; both which cost the same amount of money. I stood in the aisle pondering my decision. In one hand was a piece of candy; the other hand held a toy.

Both of the items together were twice the amount of money that I was given. So in other words, in order to make budget, I would need to choose ONE because that is all of the money that I had available. 

I'm not really sure what was going on in my young mind as I plotted how I could acquire BOTH items for the price of one.

I suppose I could attribute it to the damage that I had sustained when a few years earlier. I was horsing around and fell backwards off a chair and split the back of my head open on a cast iron radiator; requiring many stitches to close up and I had knocked myself out starting my long history of knock-out concussions.

Standing in the pharmacy, I rationalized that if I ate the candy item, then I would still be able to get the toy; thus paying for one but getting two. So, I proceeded with my plan to take the toy up to the counter after secretly eating the candy outside of the view of my dad or the pharmacist. 

I made my way to the counter to purchase the toy. The druggist asked me if it was just the toy or was it also the candy and made some veiled reference to the candy he had seen me holding. 

I told him that I had decided to just purchase the toy, not the candy; and did my best to look confused towards my dad as though to say; "Do you know what he is talking about? All I have is a toy..."

I had used the "plausible deniability clause". I had told the truth that I WAS only purchasing the toy; but not being honest that I had already consumed some candy without paying for it.

"Plausible Deniability" is being honest that I was only paying for the toy, all the while pretending that because the candy was consumed, therefore, I didn't need to pay for it. After all, how can you charge me for candy that I don't have? Did you actually see me eat the candy? 

‘Plausible’ simply means to have an appearance of truth or reason that seems to be believable, but often times is really deceptive.

‘Deniability’ is the ability to deny something, as knowledge of or connection with an illegal activity.

To this day I am somehow convinced that in spite of by best effort, the pharmacist knew what I had done and yet chose to not accuse me of theft.

And, for those of you who have taken the bunny trail and are now thinking; "Hey, Pastor Tommy, you shop lifted!" I interject that I DID confess my sin to a priest shortly after this experience to make amends with God.

So, as I sit here today writing this blog, I realize that there have been many times in the past when I have also used the "plausible deniability clause" in other areas of my life. 

For example, I have done it when I have changed the conversation as the person I had been talking about (like my boss or parents) came into the room.

Instead of continuing my comments or criticism, I gave the appearance that I had been talking (the whole time) about something else; something edifying and not at all slanderous towards him or her in any way.

Another example would be sneaking looks at someone other than my wife. After all, I only took the first look (albeit it was a LONG look) while I was giving the appearance that I was looking at something else as I made conversation about something in the background such as the sunset or a tree.

Another example would be when I had used a search engine on my computer to look up something that looked to the untrained eye like it was lovely, pure, and wholesome, so that if someone saw my screen, they would think that I was searching something that was OK.

But, inwardly, I was actually so close to the line hoping that something that I shouldn’t see might show up on my screen that was wrong or explicit or naughty. 

I could use the plausible deniability clause by stating that I’m not “technically” looking at pornography; after all it is only Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

Then, I could be shocked at what popped up on my screen…After all, I was just doing research…

But, the truth is that it still opens a door for lust, fantasy, or wasting time online, making it easy to tolerate these “harmless” activities.

Hidden behind the lies that we tell and the things that we do are evidences that our heart is wicked and deceptive and wants to be close to sinning, all the while giving the appearance as though it isn’t doing anything wrong. And, it shows how clouded our discernment can be.

It is no different than what Aaron told Moses that he cast the gold into the fire, and this calf came out. (Exodus 32:24).

Aaron had told the truth that he threw the gold into the fire. He omitted the fact that they had made themselves a molded calf out of the gold to make a ‘god’ for the people who had been grumbling in Moses’ absence.

The Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

The Bible warns us; evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

And finally, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Those verses communicate to me that using the plausibility deniability clause I can not only deceive others, but I can be deceiving myself.

They tell me that I may thinking that I am getting away with something ‘now’, but it will affect the future and how honest I will be.

Now is the time to change the path we are on if we want to break free from this lifestyle of deception and live honest and transparent lives.

Today is the day to look outside of ourselves to the only One who can truly set us free; His Name is Jesus.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1) 

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

Jesus said: … "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:31 & 36)

Have you had enough of how you have been using the plausibility deniability clause and want true freedom?

Call 1-888-NEED HIM. Someone is waiting to talk with you

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Feb 21, 2019

Stepping On The Gas Will Make You Spin Out and Get Stuck In A Rut...

I live in Minnesota where stopping a car in a hurry on a slippery road can be very challenging. Eventually you learn (sometimes the hard way) not to drive too fast for road and weather conditions.

Driving in the winter is not the same as driving in the summer. In fact driving in the winter is counterintuitive to how you drive in the summer.

Driving too fast can cause you to slip and slide (and potentially) lose control of your vehicle. Driving slower not only gives you more control of your car but it also gives you more time to react other drivers and road conditions.

Driving a vehicle that is equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) takes some of the stress out of this fun-filled moment on the ice. ABS helps keep the wheels from skidding, enabling you steer better while the vehicle slows down and actually stops the vehicle faster.

ABS brakes are an advanced braking system that works with your regular brakes by automatically pumping them. The first time you use them, you’ll notice some pulsating and possibly a growling sound. I am told that is normal...and takes some getting used to; especially if you are my age.

Actually, many drivers struggle with the idea of letting the vehicle do what it's designed to do. It's counterintuitive to take our foot off the brakes so that the vehicle can come to a stop. So we struggle because not stepping on the brakes and over steering when we are sliding seems like the wrong thing to do.

But seasoned drivers in this cold climate know that slamming on your brakes can immediately put you in a skid. And yet, when we hit ice (seen or unseen) and start to slide into the car in front of us or through an intersection, we panic and step on the brakes with all of our weight, even though we know we shouldn't.

The same is true for trying to go forward after coming to a stop. It's also counterintuitive to take our foot off the gas because we believe that stepping on the gas pedal will get us going faster.

But putting all of our weight on the gas pedal makes us go slower and can cause the vehicle to spin out and get stuck in a rut.

Simply put, to be successful, you have to do the opposite of what you think and let the vehicle do what it's designed to do.

This lesson is true for our lives as well. The best way to do what we are supposed to do at times can seem to be counterintuitive. We are raised in a society that teaches and trains us to push harder to get our breakthroughs.

We are taught that we are supposed to worry and fret and struggle to meet our goals. It seems counterintuitive to not worry and to trust.

The whole idea of standing still and pausing when we are anxious grinds against our very fiber as Americans. And yet, if we are honest, we have caused our share of emotional "rear-ends" as we have collided into loved ones as we panicked and slammed on the brakes

If we're really honest, all we really do is spin our wheels and are unable to get any real traction.

Perhaps you find yourself there today; stuck in a snowbank of life; buried up to your wheels with no shovel wondering how to get unstuck. You've tried everything with no success and you are willing to try anything.

My word for you today is STOP!

Applying more weight to the brakes or gas pedal is only going to get you stuck further. STOP! Help is on the way.

The children of Israel had to learn this lesson when they were at the Red Sea (Exodus 14). They had just been freed from the Egyptians and we're making tracks, when all of a sudden they came too an impasse; THE RED SEA! Everything that they had pondered too do wasn't the answer.

They needed to simply STOP!
"And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Standstill, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever." Exodus 14:13

Even though it was counterintuitive, they did stop, standstill, and saw the deliverance of the LORD.

Time and time again, all throughout the Bible, we read stories of situations where people have struggled to NOT apply the brakes as they were sliding and NOT apply the gas as they were slipping. Stories where they had to come to a place where they paused awhile until they KNEW that the LORD was in control. It is a place that the LORD is calling us all to go to...

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10

It is a place that He longs for us to come to be; to remain in.

"It is good that one should hope and wait quietly. For the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:26

It is a place of rest where we learn that He wants to be the power to help us stop when we need to stop and to go when we need to go. But He is the One who gets to decide. We simply allow Him to do what He does best; take care of our lives.

"You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17

Not sure where to start? Call 1-888-NEED-HIM or drop me an email.

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Feb 14, 2019

Vacating Valentine's Day

I want to state emphatically for the record that I love Valentine’s Day and participate in it fully.

I have joyfully and romantically given gifts, flowers, and cards to Cathy on Valentine’s Day since 1981.

Many years ago when my children were little, I started the tradition of making Valentine’s Day cards and giving them to them along with candy.

As years passed, this morphed into something that Cathy and I do together for our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren.

I say that because some of you, after reading this blog (or its title), might assume that I’m kind of a Scrooge when it comes to Valentine Day.  I’m not, I am a hopeless romantic and I believe in love.

It’s easy to make or send a card or flowers or candy on Valentine’s Day. After all, people are open to giving and receiving love on this day.

This ritual is participated in by single and married people; young and old alike.

But there are other days of the year besides February 14 on which we are called to love one another. In fact I sometimes question if cards and flowers and candy has the same meaning given on February 14th as they would have on any of the other 364 days of the year.

I further ponder if the giving of cards, flowers, and gifts wouldn’t potentially have a greater impact of they were given throughout the year (excluding birthdays and holidays where sometimes we may feel obligated to give).

You may be wondering where my “cynicism” to giving on Valentine’s Day comes from…

Although it may come across that way, it’s really not cynicism; I am just pondering…as I look at a dozen roses in a vase on our counter. Roses that were given as a token of my love for my wife with no reason or mixed motivation. I simply wanted to give her flowers.

Next to the vase is a note that Cathy left for me that was written on a scrap of paper as she headed out to work before I woke up.

When I did arise I also saw that there was a voice message to me from Cathy explaining that she was almost was in an accident.

While driving to work on the freeway, her pickup truck spun out and slid to within five inches from slamming into a guardrail. On the other side of the guardrail was an embankment that went down a ways to another freeway.

She was a little shook up and was waiting for a tow truck to arrive and pull her out of the snowbank. There was no damage to the truck and she (and I) were very grateful.
I realized (without sounding over dramatic) her note to me and the (tender) words we said as we fell asleep the night before may have been the last expression of our love to each other. I may frame the note.

So, that is why I am exhorting you and myself to “vacate” Valentine’s Day…or at least let’s work on sending notes, cards, flowers, etc. more often throughout the year.

Loving one another is one of the key components to Christianity. The Bible is full of verses exhorting, commanding, and encouraging us to love one another. Here are a few of them:

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

“Let all that you do be done with love.” I Corinthians 16:14

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;” I Peter 3:8

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8

“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,”  

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” I John 3:18

“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:12-13

“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

If Valentine’s Day is the only day that you show or express love; well, I suppose that is a start.

But I want to encourage you to be the change in this world that you are hoping to see. Be a person who for the next week or month or year DAILY looks for opportunities to let people know that you love them.

“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

That will make the world a much better place to be in.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

Happy Valentine’s Day from me

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Feb 7, 2019

God Has a Big But-reissued

Throughout the Bible there is story after story of people facing insurmountable circumstances for which there appeared to be no way out and no possible way for a victory. 

And yet, if you read the end of each one of the stories, God gives victory to those who walk in His ways. 

What I noticed was a common theme throughout these stories’ that they had people who had their backs against the wall and a testimony of how they were victorious. 

Right in the middle of each one of the stories is a key phrase that made all the difference in the world. It is a phrase that causes the reader to stop, and go another direction.

Simply put the phrase is “But God….”

You can also read interruptions to the stories in the Bible that goes something like; “nevertheless God”, and “however God”, and “moreover God”
My friend I am writing this to you today to let you know that no matter what circumstance you are facing, you need to know that where you are currently at is not the end of the story because God has a big ‘but’.

The following are verses from the Bible to get you starting to know that God has a big ‘but’. 

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” (Genesis 8:1)

“But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
“But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” (Genesis 21:12)

“Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8)

“Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.” (Genesis 48:21)
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20

“Joseph said to his brothers, “ I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” (Genesis 50:24)

“But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.” (Judges 15:19)

“David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but Goddid not deliver him into his hand.” (1 Samuel 23:14)

“But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.” (Psalm 49:15)

“But God will shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they will be wounded.”(Psalm 64:7)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”(Psalm 73:26)

“But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” (Psalm 75:7)

“But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.” (Jonah 4:7)

“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:24)


“But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘ IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?” (Acts 7:42)

“But God raised Him from the dead;” (Acts 13:30)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

“For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise;but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.” (Galatians 3:18)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4)

“For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.” (Philippians 2:27)


“Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, butthe LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5)

 “Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are a gracious and compassionateGod.” (Nehemiah 9:31)

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of Godstands, having this seal, “ The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “ Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”(2 Timothy 2:19)


“Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times;howeverGod did not allow him to hurt me.” (Genesis 31:7)

“because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.” (Nehemiah 13:2)

“However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.”(Daniel 2:28)


“Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish.” (Deuteronomy 7:20)

 “Moreover the LORD your Godwill circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6)

 “Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, And a mighty king will rule over them,” declares the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Isaiah 19:4)

© 2013 River of Hope Ministries. All Rights Reserved   ALL SCRIPTURE IS NASB