About Me

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Bedford, Texas, United States
Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Bedford, Texas and former Professor of Old Testament. But mostly I am a husband of an amazing wife, father of gifted children, and servant of an AWESOME God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Christians and the Lies they Tell

"I hate and abhor all falsehood, but I love your instructions." (Psalm 119:163, NLT)

The process of communication is a difficult one. There are so many places where miscommunication and misunderstanding can take place. Which makes it all the more confusing as to why someone would add into that difficult mix half-truths and dishonesty.

As a pastor I try very hard to navigate the path of being responsive to my member's needs, perspectives, and feelings. As a person who believes in the biblical principle of congregational government (a subject for a later blog entry I am sure) I believe it is even more important that I listen to members and their concerns as we plot a course for our journey of faith and commitment. What I have been surprised at over the past year, however, is how often the truth is illusive, or when present – taken to be dishonest or manipulative.

Somewhere we have bought into the lie that there are not people of integrity anymore so that when we encounter it, we respond only with mistrust.

When I first came to WHBC, the church had some issues of staff relations with certain groups within the congregation. One of my early goals was to try to move through the dysfunction of the relationship and to chart a new course for how we would relate. I was (and still am) convinced that the most appropriate way to deal with such a situation was to make everyone aware of perceptions that were held by the varying groups. It seems to me that resolution is never acquired as long as people are not being honest. I knew there might be some initial hurt, but if it were handled with gentleness and clarity, I also knew we could make the journey and come out on the other side stronger than before. To my dismay and surprise, the response I received was not one of mutual honesty and forthrightness, but instead it became clear that the parties involved somehow saw in my openness an ulterior motive. The very thing I was trying to achieve was impossible because honesty was seen as scheming.

Somewhere we have bought into the lie that Christians can’t feel sorrow.

Going back to my time at SWBTS and more recently in the church I have repeatedly met with people who say one thing when we talk and then turn around and do just the opposite. There seems to be a tendency on the side of Christians to put as positive of a spin on things as they can. Sometimes it goes so far as to be dishonest in the midst of a conversation, but to then live lives in the realm of the hurt, disappointment, or fear that they are actually feeling. As a pastor (or even just a friend) how can I lead people in the correct direction and minister to them effectively if they are not honest with me, or maybe even honest with themselves? The biblical church is built upon interdependence and trust. This means we let people know about our hurt, we let people know about our needs, and if we disagree with something we have the fortitude to speak to that disagreement – with love and patience. I don’t think my experience is unique on this matter – the Casting Crowns song “Stained Glass Masquerade” makes this clear:

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Chorus
Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain

But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Well if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small
Words and music by Mark Hall , Nichole Nordeman

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that somewhere and somehow all of Christianity has to realize we need to discover a passion for honest exchange. The Church cannot be the Church unless we can say with the Psalmist - "I hate and abhor all falsehood”

ANY THOUGHTS?  And you can be honest :-)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Christians and the Lies they Believe

The Scriptures are full of admonitions to practice discernment in whom you listen to and what you put forward as truth. We’re instructed to guard our hearts (the seat of the will) [Proverbs 4:23], to walk with carefully measured steps [Eph 5:15], and to be careful of with whom we associate [Ps 1:1]. Such warnings bare out the truth of the importance of a good reputation and how easily it is lost when we link ourselves with a lie and put it forward as if it were truth. Most of the Christians I know would not purposefully set out to deceive or pass on bad information, and yet I am surprised at how many times people pass on information without checking its accuracy. Usually, the mistake is made when we pass on some story or insight that agrees with something we believe to be true on the surface, and since we agree with the premise the facts must be right.

I don’t know how many times I have been approached or e-mailed a story using the evidence of people like David Barton, Ron Wyatt, and countless others who have repeatedly been shown to present information that is either built on half-truths, false evidence, or sometimes even outright lies. But because their premise is something we generally want to believe or agree with we push it forward because here is an “expert” who is supporting the idea of America as a Christian nation or the accuracy of Scripture or some other point of controversy in our struggle for recognition and validation. It seems our desire to be “right” is often so strong that it overrides our common sense.

I am certainly not saying that America doesn’t have a Christian heritage or that the Bible is historically inaccurate. What I am arguing is that when we take those beliefs and seek support for them from disreputable or untrustworthy sources we ultimately end up undermining ourselves in the end.

Lies are lies - regardless of the source. Find a reputable and trustworthy source through which to check information you receive, and don't pass on information that you have not personally verified. Your reputation and the reputation of the faith you hold is at stake.