Truth

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2 Timothy 4:2-4

preach the word as an official messenger; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome; correct those who err in doctrine or behavior, warn those who sin, exhort and encourage those who are growing toward spiritual maturity, with inexhaustible patience and faithful teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction that challenges them with God’s truth; but wanting to have their ears tickled with something pleasing, they will accumulate for themselves many teachers one after another, chosen to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions and will accept the unacceptable.  (AMP)

When the Boy was three we went through a season (a long, long season) of teaching him to tell the truth no matter what.  His tendency was to lie even if he didn’t need to.  There are reasons why he was like that…raising adopted children has it’s challenges.  The Girl on the other hand is a natural truth teller.  She has recently realized that she can lie to get out of trouble…for the most part, she tells the truth.  Our little addition (who has a similar background to the Boy), tends to lie even when there is no reason to lie.
I cannot stand being lied to…it’s one of those things that irks me.

As a family and as a parent we have had to adopt a zero tolerance policy toward lying.  What that means is, if you lie, even a small lie there will be a consequence.  Since the kiddos are young, there is some grace in all of it. For example, I usually give them a second or third chance to tell me the truth. “Are you sure that is what happened?”  and “You know you will get in more trouble for lying than for telling the truth.”

All this truth telling tends to get me in a place of being more honest with myself about how I feel and being even more honest with other people. Basically, in teaching the children to tell the truth, I am called to a higher personal standard of truth.  I am naturally a person who sees things as black or white.  I also grew up in a region where people tend to lie to each other to keep peace or make others feel comfortable.

Lying is not okay even if we are doing it to make someone else feel better or comfortable.

Lying is not okay even if we are doing it to “be supportive” of some someone’s choices.

Lying is not okay even if we are doing it to be liked or make friends.

Lying is not okay even if it gets us out of trouble.

Lying is not okay.

We wonder why “offense” occurs.  There are many people who have read books about not being offended, etc.  I haven’t.  This is a personal experience belief.  Offense occurs when we lie to each other about how we feel. “It’s okay.  We are good.  Things are good between you and me.”  When it things are not okay, it isn’t good and things are not worked out.   Be honest.  “It happened”.  I cannot  control other people.  I can forgive.  Does forgiveness “fix” everything?  No. I no longer feel that I have to say, “It’s okay.” if you come to me with excuses looking for me to comfort you when we both know, you could have and should have done things differently.  It’s not okay. You are welcome to make a sincere apology and then things can be “okay” between us. (A little personal rant…makes me feel old too. I want to write something here about how “youngsters” do not take responsibility for their actions any more but we have ranted about the “younger generation” then we lie to them and say “it’s okay”, when in fact it isn’t.  This mess is our fault too. ) 

It occurred to me that as a church, especially in the South, we have failed.  We lie to each other. We say things are “okay” when they aren’t. We support things the Bible doesn’t support.  It’s okay to abandon you marriage if you do not want to forgive your spouse.  It is okay to date that non-believer if you really like him.  It is okay to go for a “girl’s night out at a strip club”.  It’s okay to “live together” when you aren’t married to each other.  Nope.  Shut it down.  None of these things are okay.   If we would tell each other the truth a new level of accountability would naturally occur. No one wants to hear truth because with truth comes accountability. Accountability is a bad word in our trendy churches.  

An example…a couple is splitting up because the husband isn’t a believer (not unfaithful, not abusive…just doesn’t believe).  We rally around the wife and say, “I’m praying or you.”  “You are going to be okay.” “God is taking care of you.”  What about what the Bible says about it?  The Bible says in I Corinthians 7 that unbelief is not a reason to divorce.  Is anyone willing to gently say this?  Or do we blindly support decisions so everyone can feel good about themselves?

When did self-esteem become more important than God’s Word? 

We must stop trying to make everyone feel better about themselves and tell the truth.

A while back I wrote a blog, “If you have to ask“. We do it all the time.  We ask people their opinion about who we are dating, how we are parenting, how we treat our friends, etc so our actions can be justified.  There are few situations for mature believers in which we need to ask other people what they think about it. Those who are new believers, they may need guidance.  If we are providing guidance to a young believer it is even more vital that we point them to the Bible and lead them in truth.

It is hard to be the one to tell the truth.  Most of the time, people do not want to hear truth, they want to be told they are “okay”.  I give you permission to speak the truth in a loving way.  (not that you need my permission).  It is easier to speak the truth in anger than in love.  Love is the challenge.  Love.

If you ask someone for their opinion or you ask for advise, be prepared to hear truth.

If you tell the truth, be prepared for it to NOT be received or acted on. That’s is okay.  We can still be friends. I had a friend ask me what I thought of her dating a man who not a believer (she is a believer)  who also so has some other issues (complicated and private).   I told her, very nicely it was not right in the eyes of God and that I wouldn’t do it.  I told her I love her and God sends good gift, He doesn’t send second best to His kids and I do not believe this man is God’s best.  She is still dating him.  That is between her and God.  She is a grown woman.  I believe she heard the truth and decided that she wants what she wants.  We have all been there. My will doesn’t have to be done.  I still love her. Do I think that it is wrong?  Yes.  Do I think she’s going to get hurt?  Most likely.  Have I been there? Yes.  I did something so similar in my single days that it is not even funny.  I had several friends who told me the truth and then shunned me when I didn’t comply with the truth.  Did this help?  No.  I want to be the connection between people and God, even people who have wondered off from Him.  There have been times in my life when I have needed someone to connect me back to God. I want to be that person for someone.   That’s grace and that is love.

Let us stop telling each other everything is okay when it isn’t.  Especially if “okay” is going against the Word of God (the Bible).  It may be “okay” right now, but when we live outside of God’s Word there are consequences…maybe not today but one day you will understand why God says “no” on some things.  The truth you speak may be what leads someone down a  godly, healthy, fruitful path. 

What about when someone has clearly wondered out of truth or is on the way and they haven’t asked for advise?  Pray and wait.  Pray for them and wait for God to put change in their hearts.  Let God work on them.  God can and does work things out for our good. If you pray for them, God may open a door for you to speak truth.  

Speak that truth in love. 

 

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Momlog 2013: I cannot tell a lie

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This is going to be a quick post so hopefully my writing will be up to par.

Last week I went to visit my sister out in west Texas.  (Not the city, the region).  One day for lunch we took the kids out to eat.  My son has speed issues…as in he is (as we say down here in Texas) “as slow as molasses” (which means, he’s really slow).  He’s slow at everything.  I believe God placed him in my life to slow me down because I have one speed and that is fast forward.  When it comes to eating, I expect him to eat his food, whatever I give him.  I believe in good food.  I don’t eat food that I don’t like and I don’t make him eat food that I don’t like.  As far as eating different kinds of food, he is good. He likes salad, veggies, spicy foods…he is a pretty adventurous eater.  But he is slow.  We had taken the kids and met up with my brother-in-law for lunch.  He had chicken strips…a standard “kid friendly” food.  They were good.  I tasted them.  Long after everyone else had finished eating he was still just plugging along and it slow pace.  I was trying to speed him up.  I told my sister I was going to the bathroom and then I told him he needed to finish up by the time I returned.

I took my time.

When I came out of the ladies room, my 7 year old nephew, Sam was standing right outside the bathroom door.  He immediately told me, “My mom asked the Boy if he was full and he said yes so she took his chicken strip and put it in the trash pile.”

I was a little confused by this little confession.

I walked back over and asked my sister, who was shocked that her son would tattle on her.  She said she was bonding with my son by allowing him to “get away” with something she wouldn’t allow.

It was funny.

Sam cannot keep a secret and he cannot tell a lie.

He will rat you out to your big sister every time.  I’m thankful to be in a family that raises truth speakers!  Now if only our Boy will learn to tell the truth.

Integrity

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Yesterday, our Pastor (Pastor Chad Hayes, Christ Church San Marcos) spoke on Integrity….it was one point of several.  As alway, he made me think.  Prompted me to think back once again on some things I have been taught in my life….

As my mom pushed the grocery cart through the produce section, I held on to the tight to the side of the cart. My sister was riding in the seat of the buggy.  At age 4 or 5, I was eye level with the produce bins.  The fruit looked appealing.  They have grapes; lots of grapes.  We hardly ever get grapes. (probably because they were rarely “on sale”) And I could reach them all by myself.  There are lots of them; red ones, dark purple ones and green ones.  I like the red ones.  I don’t actually remember reaching up and taking a few and I had not thought through the fact that my mom would see that I had something in my mouth.  She did.  “What is in your mouth?”   I answer, “grape”.  Her, “You stole that grape.  We didn’t pay for that and you took it.”. 

I learned integrity in the grocery store.  We were never allowed to eat something while shopping with the plan of paying for it later.  It wasn’t ours.  My mom was a stickler (thanks, mom).

Later, our youth pastor, Pastor Randy Phillips,  taught us about Integrity…at least once a year.  He said Integrity was having “grit” (right there in the middle of the word) and doing the right thing even when no one will ever know.  That message stuck with me (I eventually taught the same lesson to young people in the Sunday School class I taught). 

Integrity is definitely a part of who I am.  So where is the conflict?  (If you are a regular reader you know there is always something).

Because I tend to view the world as “black” and “white” there is something that bugs me.  I have seen this among believers over and over.  There have even been times when I have participated in this activity.   It is an area that is very often overlooked as  “lacking integrity”.   It is the “exaggeration”.

One of my friends in Alabama would say, “He is speaking ‘evangelastically'”  In other words, “He is stretching the truth”. 

Exaggerating, stretching the truth, IS lying.  Lying is a lack of Integrity.  

We, who run in “church circles” are guilty.  Here are the areas where we often “stretch the truth”.   Tell if you have heard any of these…

“His church has thousands of members.” (sure, 800 adults and 700 children…if everyone showed up on the same Sunday).

“Our service on Sunday was awesome” (really?  Did anything out of the ordinary happen?  Any miracles?)

“He oversees 567 churches in Africa” (a church = a pastor + seven members…hmmm.  Okay, I will give you that one.)

“She was ‘on tour’ in Texas” (she visited two churches and sang a “special”.)

“We prayed for hours” (we met, talked for 45 minutes, prayed for 15 minutes and went out to eat together for 2 hours – we did say another prayer for the food.)

“I had a revelation.  God told me to meet this person” (I felt lead to go here and had a wreck where I met this new person….it was all God but I took the credit.)

There are so many more.  I find we often exaggerate the “awesomeness” of things and the numbers.  We do this to make ourselves “feel good” in front of others.  Why?  Because we are always competing.  (I have some things to say about the competing thing but that is another post). 

I have a good friend, who tells the best stories.  Every recounting of events is a little stretchier than the last.  At one point I started asking, “Is that what really happened?”  As I began asking, he began thinking more about what he was saying…the thing was, he wasn’t consciously telling lies, it was a habit. 

We all have the tendency to see the past through rose-colored glasses.  Things that happened are bigger and better than when they really happened.  We simply must begin seeing and stating truth, even it isn’t exactly what we thought it should be or could be.

Integrity is being truthful in words and in deeds.  In order to be truthful in words and in deeds our thoughts must become truthful; brutally truthful.  Our words and deeds cannot be truthful until we become truthful to ourselves.  Start telling yourself the truth.  Why have you been lying to yourself?  Identify the real reason you haven’t been telling yourself the truth. 

Integrity starts with what you tell yourself.

Ruthlessly Truthful

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The other night I was watching the show “Ruby”.  (see http://www.mystyle.com/mystyle/shows/ruby/index.jsp )  If you aren’t familiar, the show is about a woman, Ruby, in Savannah Georgia who is on a weight loss mission.  She started out weighing over 400lbs. and so far this season has lost 104lbs.  I’ve been rooting for her to lose the weight.

On this particular show all her experts were meeting to discuss her progress.  Her counselor, swim coach, physical trainer, nutritionalist, doctor, etc.  She leaves the room and they start discussing the situation.  The nutritionalist says Ruby isn’t getting enough calories and nutrition in her diet.  The fitness guy says she isn’t pushing herself hard enough and he would like for her to be on a low carb diet.  They all agree that to some degree she has not been following the diet.  She has told two of her experts she likes the meals but she has told other experts she doesn’t always eat the whole meal…she just doesn’t eat.  The fitness expert and nutritionalist want Ruby to learn to cook and to make permanent lifestyle changes.

Ruby comes back into the room the counselor tells her that she hasn’t been truthful with everyone.  (Typical Southern woman…tell everyone what they want to hear).  She disagrees with him.  She says, “I have not cheated on the diet.”  He tells her she needs to be ruthlessly truthful with herself.  She has not been following the diet to the letter.  She doesn’t see it. 

Those words stuck with me: RUTHLESSLY TRUTHFUL. 

I  had coffee with a friend of mine.  We have a mutual acquaintance who we would like to form a friendship with.  As my friend related one experience she had with this person and I related an experience, we realized – this person isn’t being real.  She has had difficulty making friends and keeping friends because when you are around her you never quiet feel that she is being real.  It’s not the kind of fakiness of trying to be cool or popular – she doesn’t realize she is doing it; it is a religious fakeness.

Oh, I said it people can use religion to be fake.  I had a nice long season of this.   Not really being truthful with myself about my situation and who I was and using religion to hide truth.  You know these people…everything is always good.  They cannot ask for help because you might think they are weak.  Or maybe this describes you.

Guess what usually happens.  CRISIS.  Pure and simple.  Something beyond your control happens.  Then what.  You fall apart.  You finally ask for prayer for help from others.  God created us to need each other.  See Genesis -God said it is not good for man to be alone.  We need each other.  Another writer wrote, “No man is an island”.  My version is there are no Lone Rangers in the Kingdom. 

We must get to a place of being ruthlessly truthful with ourselves.  I do not have it all together.  I need God; I need the prayers of family and friends; I sometimes need to vent.

This is a new year.  GET REAL.  It is time to be ruthlessly truthful with yourself.

Guess what, losing my job has caused me to become a little depressed.  I like working.  Over Christmas, I ate too much dessert (homemade fudge and cinnamon rolls).  I have been watching way too much CSI (tv) and Law and Order.   I am not a very good friend sometimes (I forget to call people back and sometimes I like to be alone).  My house is NOT always clean (in fact, it isn’t clean right now).  I wish I was disciplined and creative enough to write fiction.  I feel that I am not always a good wife.

Now, I am asking myself how can I be more ruthlessly honest in my life?