Archive for the ‘Honesty’ Category

8th Street on a summer Friday night in Boise, Idaho is filled with people. It seems everyone is having a great time together. Laughter, jokes, who’s going to win the game Saturday dominates conversations. No problem-there are friends you play games with and have fun with. These are sort of like artificial plants-nice but not real. But are there friends we share hard stuff of life with? Sometimes, we have a friend we do both with, but that is rare.

Imagine Jesus throwing a Frisbee and yelling to Peter “go longer.” I can see it; but then there is the ultimate rebuke to Peter in Matthew 16:23. Jesus and his “real” friends slept outside together many nights and ate countless meals in various places. They shared life together as friends.

Acts 15:25-26 gives a glimpse of the deep friendship Paul and Barnabas had with each other and Jesus. They risked their lives together.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Think about the people you know. Who do you really share life together with? Who can you talk with about the things that keep you up at night? Who can you flat out share your emotions with? Ask God to bring someone close to you like this.

Throughout life we bump into many people. Sometimes on a crowded street or party we might say “excuse me” when that happens. At other times, we seem to be only too concerned about what someone thinks about the weather, politics or any meaningless trivia that never reveals their heart or anything about them.

Jesus was never this way with people? In John 15:15 He shows us who is a real friend. Jesus lets us in on everything He heard from His father. He talked about those things closest to His heart with His friends. In Mark 8:29 Jesus asked these men a question “who do you say I am?” There was something Jesus wanted these men to know-a real friend asks meaningful questions of another because that shows they are interested in them. Jesus, the ultimate friend told His friends the truth. Take Matthew 16:24 for instance. This was a hard word but He loved them enough to tell them the truth. Do you have someone in your life who loves you enough to tell you the truth?

Do you want to know someone? Ask them a meaningful question. Do they want to know you? They will do the same with you. Think about some meaningful questions you could ask people. Always be a friend to the people God intersects your life with.

“Be careful little lips what you say” is an old time phrase used in a song sung to little kids a while back. In one sense, this is a powerful warning to set a guard on what we say. Psalm 141:3 speaks directly to this. And what we say is so powerful, it could be compared to being an arsonist. Look at James 3:3-6 for even more about how what we say can be highly destructive.

Yes, we need to exercise some caution when speaking. However, when you are involved in a conversation over a beer with Christian buds or with the top pagans in the city and you know you are about to introduce something into the conversation that probably will result in some unpleasant or confused reactions, what do you do? If God whispered in your heart and told you to say it because it is right, would that make a difference?

Jesus cared deeply about what was right and spoke truth into conversations even though He knew it would make people angry or confused but it was necessary. Jesus seemed to risk his reputation everywhere He went. Sometimes it was intentional and others it was the result of who He was.

One such instance in Matthew 12:46-50 is one of those. Think about just hearing this without the background you and I have with the Bible in our homes and apartments. Jesus stretched the understanding of everyone who heard Him or heard about this. Think about the implications of being connected to Jesus in this way. Believing the stuff Jesus said is one thing, but doing what He said is the indicator that you or I are Jesus’ brother or sister. Would He be able to speak to you or me as one of His brothers or sisters?

Why is it so easy to be occupied with the skin-deep issues of life? Issues like: “What was the final score?” “How many yards did he gain?” Is it going to be cloudy again?” Do you want onion rings or fries?” There is no problem asking these questions but why do we rarely ask “How would you describe your thoughts when you heard…?” or “What would it take for you to get serious about ending that habit?””What does our music today indicate about how life has changed over the past 50 years?” That’s too much for our brain to deal with.

We can become focused on religious things that parallel these first four questions very easily and never get to the heart of what Jesus’ focus was. For example, we easily get caught up in how many show up rather than being concerned if they really learned. And do we really know when someone is learning? These things make us think whereas making sure there are enough chairs is an easier deal.

We are to make disciples. How do we know when that is happening? Why is it crucial to know who is a disciple? How do we know we are doing church as God intended? Why is it necessary to understand how to make an application of scripture? All of these questions demand that we think and move beyond the skin deep responses that are much easier to repeat

Matthew 23:23-28 deals with shallow people Jesus confronted. He did it not to embarrass but to help them begin to understand what really matters.

So, what did you think about this week that you would rather no one know about? It is imperative for us to have others in our life who are serious about dealing with stuff like this and love us enough to risk asking us these kinds of questions.

I will be away for the next 8 days and will begin the blog when I return.

Thinking

Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BACK_FROM_ICELAND)

Success

Success (Photo credit: aloshbennett)

I imagine you have said it yourself or your kids have said it one too many times. You are only 30 minutes in the trip that is going to take several hours and you or they ask “are we there yet?” Our questions and thinking always reflect what we believe is important or how we are putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

A church (which is made up of a bunch of people) is successful not when you can’t find a seat, or the new building is now completed or the number of programs has exceeded the number of days in a typical month. The criteria for evaluating success should not be how many but rather what kind. Are people learning how to be real (honest) with each other, involved in consistently sharing life together, and is their life arousing curiosity from those who intersect their life?

People all over the world are looking for people who will be up front with them, genuinely care about spending time with them and who are figuring out how to eliminate the attractive and myriad distractions that choke the life out of them.

The Thessalonians were impacting people all over the place. They had become the daily headlines in the newspapers. If it were today, word of their changed lives would have gone viral on the internet. Twitter wouldn’t have had enough room to list all of the tweets about how they were focused on what really mattered. Check out 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Get some coffee or a beer with someone this week and talk about this.

In House Hunters International (TV show) I have noticed how often people in selecting a house make the same comment”I don’t like the neighbors being so close.” Disturbing our insatiable commitment to privacy keeps people at a distance. However, we can impress people from a distance but only impact them up close.

So who do we need in our life? And what needs to happen in us so we are the kind of people others need in their life? There is a word that describes this person. It is not popular, goes against the American steam of thought, and hardly ever comes up in conversation with Christians. The world is Brokenness. This describes people who are open about their sin, and protection and loss are not part of their vocabulary. 

These are people who know that to share where they get tripped up offends some but encourages others. these ar

Neighbors Know My Name

Neighbors Know My Name (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While volunteering at a homeless shelter I noticed that the people we served meals to had nothing to hide and they certainly had nothing to lose. It was totally refreshing. James 5:16 is such a strong verse that we usually avoid it at all costs. Some things are better not said so we don’t disrupt the group right? The truth is you can spot a person God has broken. They walk with a limp, have nothing to prove and are the most significant people we can have in our lives. Isaiah speaks about this in Isaiah 66:1 &2.

Share something in your life with someone that will be hard for you to speak about but will probably greatly encourage them.

real people

real people (Photo credit: the|G|™)

Haven’t you ever asked someone

a question about something and realized somewhere during their response you just wanted to get in a fast car and leave as quickly as you could? You just wanted to know about their weekend but instead you got the history of how their parents neglected them and the 15 things that were wrong with their kids.

And what if you asked someone in your community group what they really thought about how you handled an embarrassing question someone asked you during the group? And if they said that you were way too defensive and didn’t seem to want to let them into your life, what would you think about that?

If we are teachable and want to make a difference in someone’s life, we will not set boundaries on what questions are legal and others that are way across the line. We will also give honest input to others about our life or theirs. But who makes these kinds of commitments? Anyone determined to follow Jesus without reservation enters into meaningful accountable relationships with others. Of course some issues need to be discussed in private, but if we are serious about discipleship we put it all on the table.

Jesus did not hesitate to explain the hypocrisy of some religious guys in Matthew 23:27; and there’s Paul’s explanation of a confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul also explained how he loved these people so much that he not only had a Bible study with them about the gospel, but he shared his life with them.

I remember a very painful time in my life in which I shared with several people what was going on and because of that, one person got with me the next week and told me that because I was honest with the group, he now felt he could tell me something about himself he had not told anyone else. What if I had a boundary that only allowed people so far into my life?

Do you have any boundaries that need to be erased?

Thomas and Sarah at The Ritz Hotel

Thomas and Sarah at The Ritz Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One popular slang expression in the 1920’s was “putting on the Ritz” meaning to dress very fashionably and was inspired from the apparently very fine Ritz Hotel. We do like people to see us at our best, to think we are really some cool dude, or that we have it all together. But usually that is as deep as it goes. No way they are going to see what we just thought about while we were at that last party or the glance we just gave their spouse. We’re not taking off the Ritz!

For most of us, being close only equals showing up for the church group meeting or the small group. We might even contribute an idea that causes people to think we’re special. That really is what being real and authentic is about, right? Our intellect is on display for them but not our heart. If we only talk about how great our week went, we tend to be in competition with each other. But when we share how we really blew it last night, we have a chance to become part of a family.

James 5:16 in the Message starts off “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other…” It results in living together in considerably deeper water. Being real opens the door; consistently being real allows people to sit together on the couch  sharing things that really matter.

Are you sitting on the couch or standing by the door?  Is courage in your vocabulary?

Mardi Gras Exposed

Posted: December 27, 2012 in Authentic, Courage, Fear, Honesty, Real, Superficiial
New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in th...

New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in the French Quarter, wearing elaborate flower costumes in the traditional local Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in New Orleans-spent 11 years there and in the time I was there went to 11 Mardi gras celebrations, riots or whatever you wanted to call them. One of the interesting aspects of it was how many people dressed either extremely weird or wore a mask of some kind. Either way you really did not know who they were. You could easily bump into a high powered lawyer who had black grease all over his body with moss hanging from his head and was carrying a giant bone of some kind in each hand. Fascinating to look at but he was not interested in sitting down at Starbucks with a coffee and talking about his life with you.

Mardi gras is celebrated in so many small groups-maybe not the wild decorated bodies but definitely with masks that seem to be permanently attached. What I want is to be a part of a band of brothers and sisters who are not going to pretend anything, will tell you what you might not rather hear because they value honesty so much, do not live in superficial hiding places and are so authentic that it makes everyone else remember they had an appointment somewhere else and have to leave now.

Following Jesus always exposes and severely challenges us but the freedom of being real is refreshing and what others long for also. Tim

othy saw Paul’s life up close and chose to be a part of his small group. Take a look at 2 Timothy 3:10 and 11.

Are you willing to let people be real with you? Are you willing to be real with them? Or do you prefer the Mardi gras group?

The Wrong Game

Posted: November 27, 2012 in Freedom, Hiding, Honesty, Lifestyle, Pretending

I’m sure everyone has played a game where you pretend you are someone you really aren’t or you play the old “hide and seek” standby. Games like this are fun unless you are sent out on a snipe hunt. However, there are games we play as we get older in which we are not rewarded with snow cones or chocolate chip cookies when the game is over.

Somehow we seem to process life in ways that send us chasing the ever evasive snipe until we come to our senses and really believe that God is not pretending when he plays the “serious” role. We pretend or we hide and the result is always the same: God does not free us as long as we hide or pretend. 

We can only pretend to be the “Incredible Hulk” for so long and we can’t go under cover indefinitely although some of us might win an Oscar for our amazing ability to deceive others and ourselves.

The first couple on the planet tried itI’ and their hiding didn’t last long. Check Genesis 3:8 for the first hide and seek game. For another consequential result of pretending, look at Acts 5:1-11.

God’s truth (John 8:31,32) does free us but only through obedience and not hiding from or pretending we are following the rules.

Have you been real this week with people? With God? Or do you have some cool hideouts?