Dear 43 Things Users,

10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.

Starting today, 43 Things users can export their goals and entries from the site. Starting August 15, we will make the site “read only”. 43 Things users will still be able to view the site and export their content, but we won’t be taking any new content from users. We hope to leave the site up for folks to see and download their content until the end of the year. Ending on New Year’s Eve takes us full circle.

It has been a long ride (one of our original goals was to "build a company that lasts at least 2 years” - we beat that one!) While we wish the site could live on, it has suffered from a number of challenges - changes in how people use the site, the advertising industry, and how search engines view the site. We wish the outcome was different – but we’ve always been realistic about when our goals are met and when they aren't.

As of today, you will be able to download your goals and entries. See more about that on the FAQ page. Thanks for 10 great years of goal-setting and achieving.

- The Robots.

Export My Content


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Have a baby
Almost done!

Our baby is due July 24th :) So I’m well on my way to accomplishing this goal!

improve my communication skills (read all 2 entries…)
Feel like I'm making progress...

The one main thing that has really hindered me in this area has been my shyness. I still have days when I’m more quiet than others, but for whatever reason, I almost feel like a different person a lot of the time nowadays, lol. I’m not so shy, and find that it is a lot easier for me to talk to people than it used to be. Not sure really what changed, but that’s ok, lol :)

Research my genealogy (read all 6 entries…)
Taking a break...

Last summer I finally really started delving into this goal, and actually accomplished quite a bit! I spent many hours in graveyards last summer, lol. Unfortunately, I think I burnt myself out a bit and haven’t done much these last few months. But, I have made progress!

Ride on the Orient Express (read all 2 entries…)
American Orient Express--No More?

Wow, I haven’t been on 43things in forever…it has changed a bit! L Anyway, what made me think of this is that I’m sitting here watching a special on the travel channel about the American Orient Express. I decided to look at the website again to check out pricing and such, but got a shock when I did.

This is what I found:

Under the heading Contact Us:

“As of August 28, 2008 our partnership with GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, the owner & operator of the line formerly known as the American Orient Express, has ended due to suspension of operations because of their bankruptcy. No future trips are scheduled at this time, but we will update this site with any additional information as it becomes available.”


finish renovating the basement (read all 28 entries…)

Well, we’re still not finished, lol.

But we wanted to get things moving with getting the nursery finished, so this week we’ve installed a bay window, gotten all but one wall dry-walled, and picked out the paint color. Of course, this is upstairs stuff, lol. But oh well. We also now have a nice roof over our side entry (which is the one we use the most) that we hadn’t planned on doing, but I’m so glad we did. No more standing in the rain or snow while we try to unlock the door :D Oh, and I’m not sure where I left off writing here, but we also have a nice set of ‘kitty steps’ for the cats in the basement that go up to their favorite window…they love that :)

Still need to get cabinets and carpet…

Say thank you to the members of the military who are working to keep our nation safe (read all 15 entries…)
Join this mother for the "These Colors Don't Run" national caravan...

This is powerful…

To The American People
By Deborah Johns
February 26, 2007

Editor’s Note: Deborah Johns is the mother of Marine Sgt. William Johns, USMC, who is serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.

I am sick and tired. Sick and tired of how some in this country are turning their backs on our troops at a time when they need our support the most!

This is why I am taking action to speak up, and in particular, why I am helping to lead the “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN” national pro-troop/patriotic caravan being organized by Move America Forward.

This is my letter to you, the American people.

Semper Fidelis: These are not just mere words, they have a meaning greater than their literal definition in a dictionary. They mean “Always Faithful.”

Not only is this the motto of the United States Marines, but also of their families, and it has spilled over into the hearts and souls of all those who serve in every branch of our military and their families as well.

Always Faithful to God. Always Faithful to your brother (or sister) who serves along side you. Always Faithful to your Country… Always Faithful to your Family… Always Faithful to your Commander in Chief.

People ask me every day, “how do you get through the days with a son serving in Iraq?”

Well, the answer is an obvious one. Always Faithful to God, Always Faithful to the heroic men and women of the U.S. military who serve along side my son. Always Faithful to the Commander in Chief, Always Faithful to my Country.

However, it does not seem that our political leaders and media representatives have remained Always Faithful

I have traveled across this country and I have listened to the American people. I have heard the support that is expressed for our military and I know that the American people do support the war on terror. They just want communication. They just want to know what the goals and objectives are.

I understand that the American people wanted change in leadership in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. I understand the American people want things to go better in Iraq so our troops can come home. However, none of this can be accomplished because of the partisan politics that are taking place, which is ultimately hurting our military. You can’t imagine how much it sickens me to see our troops used as little more than pawns in a chess game where some politicians care more about putting our President in “checkmate” than they do in winning the war our sons and daughters are bravely fighting.

I am tired of those defeat & retreat politicians who say they are patriotic, and then insult the Commander in Chief at a time when we have boots on the ground in war zones.

I am tired of the politicians who want us to wave the white flag of surrender, but who then tell me how much they “support our troops.” As a military mom I can tell you that no soldier, Marine, sailor, airmen or Guardsmen wants to risk his or her life in a military mission, only to have political leaders denouncing the validity and morality of the missions that these troops are serving in. That is NOT supporting our troops.

Can you imagine being over in Iraq or Afghanistan, facing Islamic terrorists hell-bent on killing you, and returning to your base to hear that the best plan to win this war is with a “phased redeployment” (liberal-speak for retreat) out of the combat zone to someplace like Okinawa?

I am tired of the anti-war politicians whining for months on T.V., in the New York Times, and in the House and Senate that we need more troops to win the war in Iraq, and then when the President plans to do just that, they say that this is the wrong plan, it won’t work, and we need a “new direction.” Yet they don’t offer any new direction or a better plan.

I am tired of the decisions of Sergeants and Privates made in the heat of battle being scrutinized by lawyers and political commentators who were not there. Those who snub their nose at the military, and who look down at the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces, will never really know the state of mind of the young Marines or soldiers who were there and what is asked of them in order to survive.

I am tired of certain media outlets like CNN claiming that they are showing “news,” with anti-American propaganda videotapes sent to them by terrorists that show Marines and Soldiers being shot at by snipers—but then refusing to show what happens when our military builds a new school, paves a road, hands out food and water to children, opens a water treatment plant, provides much needed medical supplies to children in an orphanage.

I am tired of the politicians who act as Monday morning armchair generals, second-guessing the war effort and our military men and women. If you cannot stand behind our military and support them, go stand in front of them. Far better you stand in front of them than their parents, because they have to follow the Rules of Engagement and we don’t!

I am tired of the thousands of people in the rear who claim that they are working hard to support the troops and their way of supporting them is to bring them home. When was the last time any of you who made this statement went out to the airport to greet our troops during their redeployments back home? When was the last time any of you who say you “oppose the war, but support the troops” ever helped out a grieving widow or mother? When was the last time any of you provided help at the facilities for the wounded? When was the last time any of you sent Christmas Cards, or a care package to our troops?

I am tired of politicians who are running for office suddenly showing up at the opening of rehab facilities for our wounded for their photo opportunities as if they had really been supporting our troops all along.

I am tired of Code Pink, Daily Kos, Al-Jazzera, CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, ABC, NBC, CBS, the ACLU, and CAIR thinking that they somehow get to have a vote in how our troops on the ground blast, shoot and kill these terrorist who have no regard for human life and who would seek to subdue and destroy us every chance they get.

I am sick and tired of people like Cindy Sheehan who not only go around the United States bashing our military, our President, but goes around the world and hugs thugs like Hugo Chavez, as if he has been her best friend her entire life. Cindy Sheehan: “You Don’t Speak for Me” and it’s time for you to zip your lip, go back home to your family and stop playing the role as this generation’s “Tokyo Rose.”

I am sick and tired of the politicians and their whining about this war, because it is this constant whining that is emboldening the terrorists to continue to kill and injure our troops and kill innocent civilians in Iraq. Can’t you give up even for a little while, your pathetic desire to get time in front of the TV cameras by doing the politically correct thing of denouncing the war effort? Could you please shelve your personal and political ambition, take your unhelpful bickering behind close doors and put your self-glorification aside for the good of our troops and this nation?

I am tired of people like Meredith Vieria from NBC asking oxygen thieves like Senator Chuck Hagel questions like “Senator, at this point, do you think we are fighting and dying for nothing?” Meredith might not get it, but Marines and soldiers do know the difference between fighting and dying for something and fighting and dying for nothing.

I am tired of journalists like William Arkin who say: “So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?”

Please tell me what a decent wage looks like for them Mr. Arkin? You need to meet Cindy Sheehan at the closest airport and fly back home with her and stop insulting the men and women of our military.

I am tired of people whining about how costly this war is when they hear of a casualty. You have no idea what we as families go through when we hear 12 Marines killed; 8 Soldiers killed. You cannot even imagine the pain and difficulty we experience with the instantaneous news in our face on a daily basis. We grieve for the loss of a hero, we grieve for their families and we feel tremendous guilt when we feel relieved that it was not us who received that knock at the door.

But we stand in solidarity with our troops overseas. We become even more committed to rallying support for them and their missions. So, could you please stop trying to undo that by voicing opposition to what our troops are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? If you are so upset with the news of U.S. casualties in these areas, then do what you can to help our troops achieve VICTORY and SUCCESS so they can come home as soon as their missions are completed.

I am tired of Rules of Engagement being made by JAG lawyers and not Combat Commanders; and politicians who have never served in the military second-guessing everything after the fact. Our military is not playing Hopscotch over there. There is no 2nd place trophy either. I think that if the enemy knew some rough treatment was at hand for them, instead of prayer rugs, special diets and free Korans; this might help send a message to the terrorists that this nation means business.

I am tired of hearing people say to me I am glad it is your son and not mine. Well you know what me too, because I would not want your coward of a son serving next to mine because it might be him and his lack of back bone that would cost my son his life. So you just let your kid go to an anti-war rally on a college campus, or attend the next organizational meeting and be a wimp, while mine defends this great nation with Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

I am tired of hearing that my son has to stand down when being shot at by terrorists from inside of a Mosque, or terrorists inside a home with women and children when they are used as human shields—like the first battle in Fallujah. No, that’s not the key to victory… instead let us turn loose our troops to do what they must to defeat, kill and annihilate enemy combatants so that this war can be over and our military men and women can finally come home.

We are in Iraq and Afghanistan to kill our enemies. It is that simple.

It is only possible to defeat an enemy who kills indiscriminately by utterly destroying him. He cannot be made to yield or surrender or sit down and talk nicely about the situation. This is not Barney “I Love You, You Love Me and we are one big happy family.” These terrorists will fight to the death by the thousands to kill the infidels who do not believe in their way of life and that means you and me and our Marines and Soldiers serving in Iraq.

As the President asked in his recent speech to the Nation: Please all of you put down your own selfish agendas. Take a good long look at what you are doing. Because I am telling you your actions, the mud slinging you all have going on against one another is hurting and hindering our military men and women and their families.

All of you politicians had access to the same intelligence the President had when you voted for this war. You all had a similar view of Saddam Hussein, and you all knew that Iraq was a state sponsor of Islamic terrorist groups. The fact is that we are in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our troops need our support to get the job done so they can come home, and all of you politicians need to stop acting like a bunch of whining 2 year-olds who are not getting your way. I am telling you if you cut the funding to our military and do not provide them with the manpower and equipment they need to get this job done, you are no better than the terrorists who shot at them and try to kill them.

I know the American People want change in Iraq, our military wants change and so do their families. The change we want is for everyone to stop undermining the war effort and support our troops so that they may achieve a complete military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan alike.

Please, as a Mother of a Marine serving his third tour of duty, on his behalf, on the behalf of his brothers serving along side him, our troops, and their families, lay down your anger towards one another and do what is right and in the best interests of our Military.

God Bless them until they come home, God Bless those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, God Bless their families who are Always Faithful and God Bless this Country.

Please join us for the “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN” national caravan hosted by Move America Forward and the “Gathering of Eagles” event in Washington, D.C. on March 17th.

Semper Fidelis
Deborah K. Johns
Very Proud Marine Mom of SGT William Johns, USMC
3rd Tour of Duty in Iraq

Note—The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of GOPUSA.

Live my Christian faith (read all 42 entries…)

The Power of a Loving Husband

Even if I live to be very old, I will never be able to pay back my husband for his inexpressible kindness to me. I have often thought over the years that husbands have no idea what intense loyalty and deep love they reap from their wives when they sow goodness and mercy. How wonderful it would be if they all understood this.

My husband is a fix-it man and wherever we have lived, our home has been better when we left it than when we came. Some men spend their entire lives destroying what is whole and good—crushing and stomping out the last light of hope in the hearts of their wives. I have a husband that reaches down when something is broken and lovingly repairs it. Whether it is one of our children’s toys or my own broken heart at times, Tom restores it in his own quiet way by giving his time and his full attention to the object in need of repair.

One of the most precious gifts Tom gives is understanding. A wife at times desperately needs someone to just listen and commiserate, especially when something can’t be quickly fixed. Knowing that she has her husband’s sympathy can be a healing balm in itself. What also can be said about a man who has never spoken an angry word to me? Every marriage has moments of frustration, but how do I put into words what it means to a wife to not have had angry and bitter accusations hurled at those moments?

It has been said that because of the oneness of God’s union of marriage, each time a man mistreats his wife, he takes a hammer to his own head. Too many Christian husbands walk around today with marital headaches and yet they can’t figure out why they are in pain. It all goes back to the simple word, kindness.

I want to tell you what a kind husband creates in the heart of his wife. He creates a loyalty that endures a lifetime. Such a husband checks the tongue of his own wife by the sheer power of love. What kind of a monster could lash out verbally at a husband who has done nothing but good to her all her days? The tongue I have struggled to conquer all my life falls into submission with Tom because respect is so firmly rooted in my heart for this husband that God gave me. In short, such men make it easy to obey God’s commands. They make it a delight.

Lastly, my kind husband brings music. My husband literally is a musician and nothing will ever bring such joy to me as seeing him with his trumpet in an orchestra or standing by a powerful organ, with that soaring sound that lifts the hearts of all who hear it. But there’s a kind of music such husbands bring to their wives that has the touch of eternity to it. A loving bridegroom is a picture of Christ. When our husbands love us as Christ loves us, we are given a foretaste of that great day when we will greet our heavenly Bridegroom at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Also, the music that swells in the heart of a wife who is truly loved is heard by her whole household. The offspring of such husbands are the blessed recipients of their father’s love. There are generational consequences.

This Valentine’s Day, discard the cheap and gauzy romantic notions spun by Hollywood, and seek after the self-giving love of our Savior. If you are a husband reading this, realize the power that you wield and use it wisely.

’’How to handle a woman, mark me well, I will tell you sir! The way to handle a woman,
Is to love her, simply love her,
Merely love her, love her,
Love her!
—King Arthur, from the musical Camelot

by: Ingrid Schlueter
Distributed by

Say thank you to the members of the military who are working to keep our nation safe (read all 15 entries…)
Supporting our troops


During NBC’s Nightly News, soldiers expressed frustration with
opposition back home—most notably those who say they support
the troops, but not the war. NBC war analyst and Washington reporter William Arkin shot back, scolding the troops.

“We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families,
provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support
systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them,
we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is
that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to
the military and the generals and let them fight their war,
and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because
they are above society?”

I could respond, but I’ll defer to Specialist Tyler Johnson,
who is serving his first tour in Iraq. “You may support or
say we support the troops, but, so you’re not supporting what
they do, what they’re here sweating for, what we bleed for,
what we die for. It just don’t make sense to me.”

It doesn’t make sense to me either, Tyler.

For the exclusive CyberAlerts report:

Raise awareness about "Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week"
Feb. 7-14th, 2007

From the website:
“Join us February 7-14th for Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week. OUR GOAL in our 5th Season is to SEND OUT 8000 VALENTINES TO CHAINED or PENNED DOGS.

We are striving to raise awareness for chained and penned dogs in a positive way…by delivering Valentines, a brochure and a treat coupon to dogs living outside all over the U.S. and into other countries where we have representation, such as Canada and Australia.”

To learn more, go here:

Make a list of 100 ways God has blessed me (read all 6 entries…)

I want to praise God today for the health that He has restored to me!

In August of 2004, while at an outdoor concert/convention, I began having what felt like a heart attack. I didn’t know what was happening, but believe me, it was a scary moment! I was only 25 at the time.

The doctors ran all kinds of tests, tests for my heart and tests for my thyroid, but none of the results ever showed that anything was wrong, or that anything had happened to my heart that night. Even after wearing a heart monitor for a month straight, nothing could be determined as a problem. However, the symptoms didn’t go away. In fact, they got worse and worse, until the doctor prescribed a heart medicine for me to keep my heart from running away.

During this time, I felt awful. I was weak, always had an upset stomach, couldn’t sleep at night because of the ‘spells’ that would come out of nowhere all through the night…and the doctors had no answers for me.

When I’d think about things, about the way things were going and ‘what if’ something happened to me, I’d feel sad. Not sad for myself, because God has blessed my life in so many ways. Not scared to die, no, I’m ready for that. But sad for my husband. When I thought about what he would feel, it absolutely broke my heart.

But I praise God that His plans were different…

After my husband and I doing much research, we discovered the cause of my problems, and for almost a year now I have felt better! My problem was a hormone imbalance (progesterone/estrogen) which when out of whack like they were can cause anxiety and panic attacks. When my doctor finally said that he thought my problem was anxiety, the first thing he wanted to do was put me on anti-anxiety drugs, but that would have only made the problem worse! I didn’t want to go that route, and I’m glad I didn’t, because if I had I wouldn’t have found out about the hormone imbalance. So I urge anyone out there who is struggling with anxiety and panic to have your hormone levels checked. (The most effective test is a simple, inexpensive saliva test!)

Today, I was in the basement taking some laundry out of the dryer. I usually fold things upstairs (since our basement is still under construction, lol.) I got the clothes in my arms, and ran up the steps. Keyword: RAN. Less than a year ago, I had to stop and catch my breath on the landing halfway up. So I praise God for the health that He has restored to me! I’m back to exercising regularly, and I am so pleased…I’ve never been this active in my life, lol. I had always taken my health for granted, but God has showed me what a precious gift good health is.

Raise awareness about Sanctity of Human Life Week 2007
January 21-28, 2007

It’s here already! January 21-28, 2007 is Sanctity of Human Life Week. I received an email from Care Net, “a network of more than 850 pregnancy centers in the United States and Canada”, urging people to get involved, so I thought I’d share the info. here.

You can either go to

or go to

to find out more about how you can get involved in their internet outreach Life Donor program.

Say thank you to the members of the military who are working to keep our nation safe (read all 15 entries…)
Can anyone comfirm this?

This is an article written by Brannon Howse sent to me by If this is true, it is absolutely appalling, and our legislators need to hear from us all asap!

New Political Meddling Could Make Iraq Our Next Vietnam
By Brannon Howse

Imagine this not-so-unimaginable scenario: A police officer pulls up to a house where a domestic disturbance has been reported. As the officer approaches the house, a man wielding a gun bursts out the front door, aims his weapon at the officer, and screams, “I’m going to kill you!” The officer has no place to take cover. What would a reasonable law enforcement official do in such a situation?

Any officer will tell you that if a man is pointing a gun at him and yelling that he is going to shoot the officer, the policeman is well within his legal rights to shoot first in self defense. All that is required to justify lethal force is that the officer fears for his life. He does not have to wait for the gunman to fire before the policeman can shoot at the attacker.

But imagine how different—and tragic—the outcome of this scenario could be if the Attorney General of the United States, the highest ranking law enforcement official in the country, had declared a new policy that no sheriff, deputy, police officer, FBI agent, U.S. Marshall, or Secret Service agent could fire their gun at someone unless the assailant fired first. Any law enforcement official that shot before being shot at would be prosecuted. Under this policy law enforcement officials would be wholly justified in resigning immediately and getting another job. Criminals would have a heyday if they knew they had one free shot before being in danger themselves. Obviously absurd, right?

Unless you happen to be politicians overseeing the war in Iraq.

That’s right! We have received e-mails from the family members of military personal fighting in Iraq telling us that the military has politically coerced, non-sensical “rules of engagement.” It has been reported that our men and women fighting in Iraq do not have the right to shoot at the enemy until the enemy shoots at them first. I recently heard a well-documented report in which an enemy terrorist was observed pointing a rocket launcher at American troops, clearly preparing to fire at the watching soldiers. Yet our servicemen were not able to take him out before he fired. Only after the enemy fired his rocket, killing several U. S. soldiers, were the remaining troops allowed to destroy the enemy. The Americans involved in the incident were all too aware that any solider who fires a weapon before being fired upon can face a court-martial.

Depriving our soldiers of their Biblical and Constitutional right of self-defense is inexcusable. (Exodus 22:2)

Think about this for a minute. Troops have to wait until their fellow soldiers are killed before they can defend themselves by shooting back. But wait, it gets worse. If a solider does shoot at the enemy, they have to fill out a stack of paper work that would make any Washington bureaucrat proud.

Why would we ever give our soldiers an order not to fire until fired upon? Wars are won by killing the other guy first, not by waiting to see what he’ll do. We already know the enemy wants to kill us. That’s why we get into wars to begin with.

I doubt any father or mother would encourage a son or daughter to join the military knowing what I have just reported, and I dare say this deadly policy was not presented to recruits before they joined the military. Since our government has changed the assumptions upon which someone signs up to fight, then we should give the soldiers the option to stay and fight or to catch the first flight home, now that they know what the new rules are.

And what do our rules signal to the enemy? The foes we face are shrewd, vicious people who know these “rules of engagement” and will use them to their advantage—and to the destruction of our men in uniform. Can we win this war with such an irresponsible, politically correct policy? Did we win in Vietnam with politicians micromanaging the war? These sickening rules of engagement must be changed now, or our soldiers need to come home before any more die from our national leaders’ love of politically correct fighting.

Military family members have told me that soldiers are afraid to speak out about these foolish and deadly “rules of engagement” because they fear retaliation that will damage their military careers. Please contact your members of Congress and the White House and ask them to change these deadly and politically correct “rules of engagement”.

I contacted a good friend of mine that is a well-known national talk-show host and he tells me that he has also received credible reports confirming these deadly “rules of engagement”.

Adding 20,000, 30,000 or 100,000 new troops will not change the outcome of this war unless the politicians stop managing the war like a bunch of politically correct, liberals.

Although I don’t have a son in Iraq, our nation has thousands of sons and daughters serving there, and we at home owe it to them to speak up since they can’t. If we expect to continue being served by an all voluntary military, our politicians had better untie the hands of our soldiers so they can defend themselves, win this war, and come home alive! We owe nothing less to our great American soldiers and their families.

Distributed by

Live my Christian faith (read all 42 entries…)
Knowledge and Truth

This is an interesting article from the Christian worldview I thought I’d share it here.

Truth Is a Strange Sort of Fiction
by: Gregory Koukl
Part 1

Knowledge and Truth

Would you die for truth? Of course you would. Multitudes do everyday. Or more precisely, they die because they don’t have truth.

People don’t believe their doctor’s warnings. They die for the truth of cancer. People underestimate the impact of a couple of drinks. They die for the truth of drunk driving. A pedestrian doesn’t look both ways before crossing the street. He dies for the truth of inertia, mass, and Mack trucks.

People die for truth all the time. They die as a result of false beliefs about important things. They get it wrong. They’re dead.

Truth, then, is often a life and death matter. Whether or not you live or die depends on getting some things right every single day.

This is just as applicable to eternal matters as to temporal ones. Jesus made specific claims about the world. These claims are either true or false. If Jesus was wrong, He—and those who follow Him—can be safely ignored. If He was right, though, that changes everything.

Given the gravity of this matter, it seems odd that so many—both outside the church and inside—are convinced there either is no such thing as truth, or that our understandings of truth have to be so radically altered they’re unrecognizable.


In light of this trend, we have a challenge: How do Christian ambassadors talk effectively about the One who said He was the truth when much of our culture considers distinctions like true and false completely superfluous? How do we reach people with what we think is truth when many deny truth even exists?

The apostle Paul, the most successful missionary in the early church, had some insight on this. He gave a general guideline, then a warning of danger, and finally an antidote to the danger.

First the guideline: Contextualize the Gospel. Adapt it to culture in every way you can that does not compromise the message. Paul called this becoming “all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:19-22). As much as possible, be like those you’re trying to reach. Blend in. Be one of them. Incarnate. If something gets in the way, get rid of it.

Paul warned of a danger, however:

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Beware the deadly ideas. When trying to adapt the Gospel, take care you do not adopt the culture’s deceptive ideas and thus destroy the very foundation of our message.

The antidote? Go on the offensive against the false ideas. Paul said, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We must aggressively challenge current ideas that, in J. Gresham Machen’s words, “prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”[i]

Here is my concern for the church in a postmodern era. In seeking to be “missional,” adapting our message to an emerging culture, we are in danger instead of adopting the culture’s dangerous ideas.

This is precisely what I think happens in segments of what has come to be known as the “emerging church.” Instead of adjusting their method, some have been, in my opinion, “taken captive through philosophy and empty deception,” sacrificing the message in the process.

This concern is so critical for ambassadors for Christ I am devoting three articles to exploring the ideas of the emerging culture and its influence on the emerging church.

At the heart of this debate are questions about the nature of truth and knowledge. I will address these first. So here is my first question: What is knowledge?


When you think about it, there seem to be three types of knowledge. The first is knowledge of facts. We can know about things. This is also called propositional knowledge, or simply “knowing that.” The second kind of knowledge is knowledge by acquaintance. This is an experiential knowledge based on personal encounter. This is how we know our friends and loved ones, or how we’re acquainted with places we’ve been to, a “knowing who” or “knowing of.” Knowing how to drive a car or write a sentence is yet a different kind of knowledge. This might be called skill knowledge, or know how.

It may have occurred to you that Christianity involves all three. There are certain facts or truths (know that) that when believed properly lead us into a personal relationship with God (know who), after which we grow in personal skill at living called “sanctification” (know how).

Here is something else you may have noticed. The first kind of knowledge is very important to Christianity—indeed vital. Yet it is inadequate to any deep spiritual purpose when it stands alone.

Consider the kinds of things that Christianity (or any religion, for that matter) deals with: who God is, what the world is like, what’s the best way for man to live, and how to fix it when we don’t live the way we should. Isn’t it obvious that the particulars here are important? Do you see that if you don’t get your basic information right, then your relationship with God and your skill at spiritual living is going to be off to a bad start?[ii]

It should also be clear, however, that propositional knowledge on its own is not enough. Christianity is much more than statements of fact. Facts alone, even if you believe them, will not help you (more on this later).

For now I want to focus on the first type of knowledge, propositional knowledge, for two reasons. The first reason is that propositional knowledge is the foundation that the other two kinds of knowledge are built upon. The second reason is that this is the kind of knowledge being questioned in this postmodern era.[iii]


Think for a moment, about what you mean when you say you “know” something (in the first sense of knowledge).

The first element that propositional knowledge involves, it seems, is belief. When you say you know something you mean at least that you believe it. It would be odd to say, for example, that you knew your car was red, but you didn’t believe it was red. Knowledge involves belief. All the facts you think you know are facts you also believe.

So, what is a belief? Well, minimally a belief is a kind of thought. Since all thoughts are about something (philosophers call this “intentionality”), it’s always appropriate to ask of any belief, “What is this belief about?” What is it you are thinking about when you say you believe something?

The answer is easy when you consider what you mean when you say you believe. A belief is a kind of thought in which you hold that something (the thing you are thinking about) is a certain way. If you believe grass is green, your belief is about grass, and the content of your belief is that grass is a certain color, green, in this case. Simple enough, you say, and you’d be right. But there is actually something quite profound in this simple observation.

Here it is: Whenever you say you believe something, you mean that you think that what you believe is actually so (grass really is green). Put another way, when you say you believe something, you are also saying that what you believe is true. When people say, “That’s unbelievable,” they mean that it’s hard to imagine it could be true.

Why is this so profound? Because there is a tendency today, especially on religious or moral issues, for people to say, “I have a belief, but I’m not saying it’s true.” This is very odd because you cannot have a belief and at the same to deny that what you believe is true. You may not know it to be true. You could be mistaken even, but your belief is that it is true, nevertheless. Indeed, if you didn’t believe your belief was true, you wouldn’t believe what you believe in the first place. You’d believe something else.

Wouldn’t it be odd to hear, “I believe that Washington D.C. is the capitol of the United States, but I’m not saying you’re wrong for believing New York city is the capital”? But that’s the kind of thing people say all the time when it comes to spiritual matters.

Here is the thought I want you to keep in mind when it comes to belief: Everyone thinks he’s right in what he believes, otherwise he wouldn’t believe it. Nobody’s neutral.

Here’s another question: Can we be wrong in our beliefs? Of course we can. Simply believing something can’t make it true? Another way of putting it is belief is not a truth-maker. If belief alone could make something true, there would be no difference between believe and make-believe, fantasy and reality. If belief is not the truth-maker, what is? That depends on the definition of our next word: truth.


What is truth? This term has been the source of a massive amount of confusion lately. But the confusion is unnecessary because there is nothing mysterious about the meaning of this word. When my philosopher friend Frank Beckwith is asked “What is truth,” he simply responds, “Do you want the true answer or the false one?”

Frank’s response is clever because it shows that no degree in philosophy is necessary to answer the question. We already know the answer: Truth is when things are the way we think they are. When our thinking matches up accurately to what we’re thinking about—when our beliefs are correct—we say they are true.[iv]

Aristotle put it this way: If you say that it is and it is, or you say that it isn’t and it isn’t, that’s true. If you say that it isn’t and it is, or you say that it is and it isn’t, that’s false.

But you already knew this because you use the word “truth” (or one of its derivatives) all the time, and this is exactly what you mean. This is the garden variety definition of truth. It’s what most people mean when we use the word.

We all know what a lie is. We also know that truth is just the opposite. The Bible uses the word “truth” in this way all the time. Paul said, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying” (Romans 9:1). John writes, “No lie is of the truth” 1 John 2:21. Sometimes the contrast is between truth and error (e.g., 1 John 4:6), which is basically the same thing.

This brings us back to our earlier question: If belief is not the truth-maker, what is? Answering this question is now quite a bit easier because we have our definition of truth in clear focus. If truth is when things are the way we think they are, then “things”—objects in the world—are what make our beliefs true. Facts of the world are truth-makers.

A true proposition describes a fact. If this is the case, then if there is no truth, there are no facts. When people say there is no truth, this is actually what they’re implying, even if they don’t realize it. Doesn’t this seem strange?


We have already established that whenever we say we believe something, we are also saying that what we believe is true. But what gives us the confidence we’re right? This question introduces our next concept: justification.

People believe things for reasons. Reasons are our “justification,” our evidence or proof. Usually we believe things because we think our reasons for them are good. If we don’t have good reasons for our beliefs, it doesn’t make sense to say we know them. Without justification our beliefs may be right, but only because we got lucky. That’s why if we have no evidence for our view people say, “You don’t know that. You’re just guessing.” Guessing is not knowledge.

Justification comes in degrees. Sometimes our commitment to a belief is not very strong because we know our evidence (our justification) is not strong. The better our reasons, the stronger our confidence. As our evidence grows, the way we describe our level of confidence changes from probable (over 50%), to likely, to beyond a reasonable doubt, to obvious. The final level, the highest level of psychological confidence, is certainty.

Here’s our next question: Since justification comes in degrees, when does it seem right to say we have enough justification for knowledge? When is enough enough? Is mere probability, 51%, enough for knowledge? No, this does not seem to be sufficient. Does knowledge require absolute certainty? That’s nice when we have it, but it does not seem to be necessary for knowledge. Certainty is too demanding a standard for knowledge.

In criminal law the level of confidence adequate to deprive an offender of his liberty or, in some cases, even his life is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This seems right. The threshold for justification adequate for knowledge is somewhere between mere probability and absolute certainty. When the evidence gives us confidence beyond a reasonable doubt, it seems fair to say we have knowledge.

Of course, there’s always the skeptic who will say, “But if you don’t have absolute certainty, then it’s always possible you could be mistaken.” That’s correct, but just because it’s possible to be mistaken doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to think I am mistaken.

This is the skeptic’s error. Wisdom, careful thinking, common sense always sides with the odds-on favorite. When the weight of evidence is significantly in our favor, it’s fair to say we have knowledge, even though it’s possible we may be mistaken. Knowledge does not require certainty that is incorrigible, infallible, indubitable, invincible, or absolute. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to know very much

So far we’ve established that to have a belief is to hold that something is true—that it fits the world as it really is—and when our belief does fit, our belief actually is true.

Our justification—our reasons or evidence—give us confidence that we’re right. When our justification rises to a certain level—not necessarily certainty, but more than mere probability—we can claim to have knowledge. That threshold seems to be when we have evidence that gives us confidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

When talking about knowledge, then, we have both truth and belief joined together, and the glue that holds them together is evidence, our justification.[v]

With this foundation in place I want to show you why each of these is absolutely vital to our message and, therefore, crucial for every one of Jesus’ ambassadors.

This I will do in the next issue of Solid Ground.

Putting Your Knowledge into Action

· When you encounter someone who says there is no truth, ask them what they mean by “truth.”

· If they don’t think that what they believe is actually true, ask them why they believe it, then.


[i] J. Gresham Machen, What Is Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 162, as quoted in William Dembski and James Kushiner, Signs of Intelligence (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2001), 59.

[ii] This isn’t true in everything (you can make great toast even if you know nothing about how toasters work), but when it comes to religion, facts are essential.

[iii] Note: When I say that propositional knowledge is the foundation, I am not referring to foundationalism, which is a theory of epistemic justification. At this point I am not saying anything about how beliefs are justified. I’m simply using the word “foundation” in the sense of “logically prior.”

[iv] Put another way, “truth” is when a statement, idea, or point of view actually fits—corresponds to—the way the world is. This is why philosophers call this the “correspondence” view of truth.

[v] If you’re a philosophy student, you might recognize the standard K = JTB formula: Knowledge = Justified True Belief.

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My next goal

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5 down...

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Buy your copy today!!!

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