Honesty


A young pastor and I were having a discussion about a text he was investigating for his sermon he would be preaching the upcoming Sunday morning. As he sat on the deck at the back of his newly constructed home, a disturbing scene unfolded before his eyes. A father (and neighbor) was cutting his grass two lots away. While pushing his lawnmower through the yard, the man’s six year old daughter thought it playful to run in front of the mower just ahead of her dad, and without being admonished. Before he knew it, my friend called it “an accident-just-waiting-to-happen.” He further blurted out while I was yet on the phone, “That’s exactly why I have got to hurry up and get my privacy fence put up.” Unaware of the developments since I was at my house and he was at his in another city and state, I asked what he meant. He described the scene and repeated his comment and added, “Because, I don’t want to be a witness to nothing!”

I laughed with him (at first), and then I thought to myself about this common malady and how tragically this position characterizes many a Christian. We have been called to be just that—witnesses. Our Lord said before He left, “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV). Yet, we seem to want to hide behind our preciously designed privacy fences and neglect to be and do what we have been called to be and to do. We prefer to hide behind the safe and comfortable privacy fence of a nice sanctuary, the fence of public worship, the privacy fence of a church building, the nice privacy fence of a tailored suit and a new dress on Sunday morning. But, as soon as worship ends and for the rest of the week, we seem content to hide behind these and other well-constructed privacy fences so we don’t have to be witnesses to no one and to no-thing—not anything.

Allow me to admonish you, dear brother or sister. Before it is everlasting too late, commit to come from behind these familiar barriers in your own life. Encourage others who may be hiding as well to do the same thing in their lives.

As darkness prevails in our world, every community needs the light of bold witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. We can no longer remain silent and unseen behind these spiritual privacy fences. Let your light shine! Be a witness to someone today, and share with them the gospel of salvation. The Lord will bless you for it, and you just might prevent a tragedy from happening!

For years now I have coined a somewhat lyrical and memorable phrase detailing what it means to be a fully liberated adult. On those occasions when I have incorporated it into a sermonic discourse, it has never failed to generate a rousing response. The statement is this: “You are not a fully liberated adult until you’re actually grown, gone, on your own, and leaving your mama and daddy’s money alone!” A few may disagree, but numerous have noted how it resonates with their own views when it comes to an excellent definition for being a true adult!”

As comical and perhaps factual as this quotation may be, it reminds us of the common quest of every growing (and groaning) teenager as they begin to know privilege, opportunity, more liberty, and some degree of independence. It seems the more they taste it, the more they want of it (and there’s nothing wrong with wanting it either). I believe, however, I can honestly say for every child-rearing adult and loving parent that no child wants to leave home any quicker (or to any degree greater) than their guardians want them to soon be on their way. In the final analysis, there is one inescapable factor we cannot ignore; “these things take time.”

As I pondered this all too familiar dilemma, the Lord pressed upon me another truth—an axiom of sorts—that is indisputably true. It is this: “In one’s quest for autonomy and a want for authority, none get to live without accountability.”

We would all do well to learn this reality. No one should seek to live without the distinct privilege of allowing another (or others) to uphold you in loving and responsible accountability. It is the only guarantor of excellence, ethics, and equality for a healthy society to exist. Lord Acton was right when he wrote, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely!” This certainly holds true when it comes to the management of our lives!

When you think about it, Jabez’s simple prayer included an insightful appeal that recognized his own need for living right in community. While he requested more real estate, resources, and responsibility, he also asked the Lord to “…keep me from evil so that I may not cause pain.” (see 1 Chronicles 4:10). He wanted God to help him manage himself so that he would not create problems for others who lived with, amid, and near him. He knew in the scheme of things he could not be successful without living responsibly and accountably around other people. Joyfully, God did exactly what he asked Him to do. He can do it for you. Just ask Him!

I have never asked God to help me be a better preacher or pastor. If only He would enable me to be a better person. That is why my desperate plea daily is simply: “Lord, help me to live right!”

The surge of opinions and barrage of shameful criticisms about a still gifted and greatly celebrated member of the human race (Mr. Tiger Woods) has spanned the spectrum and just about covered the entire gamut. The air ways have been inundated with commentaries from “haters” to “celebrators,” from once-claimed friends to unfortunately evident (and recognizably arrogant) enemies.

When it’s all said and done and the dust has finally settled from this tragic, but true episode in an apparent hurting brother’s life (and no doubt his family’s life), one indisputable truth yet remains: “I am Tiger Woods.” We all are!

It would be a good thing for us all to soon realize it and to never forget it!

Let’s pray for our brother! He (and we all) need it!

In John 11:35, our Lord succumbed at the grave of his beloved friend—Lazarus—and is unashamedly portrayed expressing His emotional side. The Bible’s shortest verse there is recorded where it says, “Jesus wept.” It is no secret that men (historically) have not been the most comfortable beings when it comes to openly expressing their emotions or displaying any public sensitivity. Much commentary has been offered as to why this fact exists. A major reason is that men have not been (as a general rule) conditioned (nurtured or encouraged) to expose their sensitive sides. In fact, a sensitive side has been largely viewed a weak or feminine (less than masculine) side. No “real” man wants to be seen as feminine. At times, parents (adults) perpetuate this myth when at hurting moments for boys, they (boys) are routinely admonished to, “Be a man!”, or “Don’t cry!” What is up with that? Why can’t a man (a male) openly own and display his painful emotions? Who made that rule? What is the big deal?

 

God has ingeniously engineered the human body with many functional systems for our good. Unlike other creatures, emotional tears are inimitably human. They provide essential cleansing to the eyes as well as the mind, our emotions, and the body. Tears are secreted by our lacrimals—tiny, sponge-like glands which rest above the eye against the eye socket. Pin-head size holes exist at the lower part of the inner eye socket from which the moist secretion is expelled; and for healthy benefits. Crying can reduce stress levels, encourage a good sleep, and retard diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems and peptic ulcers. If more people (men in particular) would cooperate with healthy grief rather than fight it, studies prove it could lessen the tendency to be stressed, have hypertension, endure a stroke, undergo a heart attack, or even be depressed.

 

Jesus proves there is nothing wrong with crying, and there was nothing weak about Him. If we were not designed to occasionally cry, then there is clearly a major flaw in our anatomy. Yielding does not mean one is weak. To the contrary, it can be a sure sign of strength. It minimally conveys to others that the one crying is in some way hurt. And when you’re hurt, the Bible indicates that our God mysteriously leans over the banister of heaven and gives attention when His children cry. David put it like this: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God. He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” (Psalm 18:6)

 

My brothers (in particular), if the urge arises, every strong man needs to learn it is okay when the “flood gates” open. It only means that you’re human; and a wonderful miracle is unfolding. You’re going to feel so much better!