Is a Half-Truth a Lie?

I have written about this subject before from a different angle, but I think it is time to revisit. People often tell a “half-truth” for various reasons. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. They want to avoid conflict. The list goes on. What does God think about telling a “half-truth” or white lie? 

Acts 5 records the story of a husband and wife named Ananias and Sapphira. They sold land and gave only a portion to the Lord. Ananias brought a portion and thought he would get away with not giving the whole. He was confronted and died. Imagine someone dropping dead in a worship service for only bringing a portion of what is God’s back to Him. Then Sapphira is more directing in her lying, and she dies too. 

If there is supposedly such a thing is a half-truth, shouldn’t there be a half-lie? Both sound pretty absurd. Either you lie or you tell the truth. I’m trying to imagine God telling me, “Matthew, you lied for a really good reason so I’ll let you slide.”

I’m not saying that everyone who lies is going to drop dead immediately. When you read Acts 5, you see that they were guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit. When you and I lie, we violate God’s commands. We are sinning against God first then others. 

We must choose our words carefully. Read Matthew 12:36-37. Every word will say will stand in judgment before the Lord Jesus. Let that put us in perspective.


Your God-Given Responsibility at Work

Some of us are blessed with good employers while others feel cursed. What does God think about that? Does your response matter to Him? Does He want you to give them what’s coming to them, or does God have something else to say? Let’s see what the Bible says. The wording is “bondservant”, but it refers to employees.

“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” Colossians‬ ‭3:22-25‬ ‭NKJV‬

Here’s what it’s saying:

  1. Do your job as you are doing it for the Lord. That changes our whole perspective. We are not to be brown-nosers or to do these with bitterness in our hearts.
  2. If your employer is wrong, God will take care of that. Let God deal with them. (He does a better job.)

You and I can change our attitude right now and ask God to forgive us for a sour attitude. You will please God and potentially change your work environment through your obedience to God.

“Luv Ewwwwwwwe”

I live in the rural South where we are polite even when we don’t mean it. I wrote the title the way I did because we drag out syllables in this part of the country. We often tell others we love them because it’s considered good manners while our true feelings may be quite the opposite. I used to wait to see how quickly someone would gossip about me after they told me they loved me. I know some of you can relate.
If I really loved you, I would not gossip about you or belittle you. I would be more concerned about your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing over my own. Love is sacrifical. I’ll let I Corinthians 13 speak for itself regarding love.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Before you say that again, ask yourself if you really love that person. Do you really care about their welfare, or are you just being polite?

Spiritual Abuse

When most of us think of abuse, we think of domestic violence or abuse of a sexual, verbal, or physical nature. We think about husband who beat their wives, parents who hurt their children, or a random or planned act of violence in a public place. Most people would never think of it inside the church. In fact, I had people tell me in a committee meeting that they did not think the church I served at that time should do background checks on those who served in the nursery, children, or youth ministries because we were a small town and everyone knew each other. I told them that I served in a church very much like that, and a long-time pedophile was victimizing several in the church. The people stared at me, but I had proven my point. This man was an “upstanding” man in the area who had been molesting children for decades. Sadly, church leaders are often guilty of using their power to abuse people.

The first situation I heard of was about 16 years ago. There was a man and his wife in the church who were separated. He began beating her on their wedding night, and a pastor they had at another church pretty much told her to take it like a big girl because she made a commitment to him. I wondered if the pastor was going to pay the ER bill when she ended up with a busted lip.

Some pastors and church staff members have abused their authority and created a cult-like following. I have seen where pastors and high profile church leaders have protected pedophiles while practically crucifying a guy who didn’t tithe. These often belittle women into thinking they are nothing more than baby makers who should possess a Cinderella-like spirit and be a slave to the husband. I have worked with pastors who would not even take time to listen to a woman. They make public spectacles of anyone who disagrees with them while often putting their own egos on parade. 

If your pastor has an unhealthy hold over you, get out. If you receive more guilt and bullying from the pulpit than you do the meat of Scripture, look for another place to worship. A true God-called leader will not use manipulation and force to lead you into spiritual maturity. 

This video clip has been around for a few years now. I do not know that this man is pastoring this or any church now, but it is a prime example of bullying and manipulation. A true pastor will lead you and love you, not beat you and leave you for dead. If what you see in this video is going on where you are, please take this as a loving warning from someone who cares about your spiritual welfare. Find somewhere that demonstrates grace AND truth.

Why Is Life So Hard?

This is a question we all ask or have asked at some point in life. We wonder why life is so hard. We can’t understand why things have the way they do. Why do we get a bad health report? Why do we go from financially secure to broke? Why did we lose a job? Our conclusion is often, “This just isn’t fair!” Many possess the mentality that life should not be difficult and we should get a bailout when things get tough. Christians have fallen into the trap of erroneous teaching that a relationship with Christ means that we have an easy life. So why is life so difficult?

  1. The Bible promised it. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul told Timothy that “the godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Dear child of God, you are a threat to the devil. He will do anything to paralyze you from obeying God. Expect it! Be prepared for it by using your God-given tools to defeat the enemy.
  2. Some of us create our own drama. Do you know people who create their own drama? We can often eliminate our own heartache by making good choices. Actions have consequences, so none of us should be surprised when we reap what we sow. We can’t expect to do foolish things and see great results. 
  3. The actions of others affect us. For example, divorce had a rippling effect upon my life. I never realized the magnitude of how it would affect me and others involved even 3 1/2 years after the initial separation. It affected a church, adults, children, other family, and friends. It hit me financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Sometimes we have to suffer because of something someone else did or things we may have neglected. People make choices to remove themselves from our lives, and we are left with the aftermath. It may be a prodigal child who never calls. We may potentially be the innocent party and suffer from someone else’s decision.

I’m sure the list could be longer. Don’t expect to go through life without problems. Do know where your help comes from, and that God stands ready to give you His all-sufficient grace. He won’t always correct everything, but He can give you peace even when everything else is falling apart. Call out to Him, and He will answer.

An Unexpected Visitation

Many think of hospice as completely doom and gloom. It can be a very sad thing, but we also encounter laughter and joy with the terminally ill and their families. Today, was somewhat expected yet unexpected. 

I had a visit today that was consumed with talking about Scripture, prayer requests, and how awesome the Lord is. I always end with prayer. As I began to pray, the Spirit of God began to move. I began to pray with power, and things started shifting as I began to wrap up the prayer. I slowed down the pace. I found myself almost speechless. I ended the prayer, and we continued in praise for several minutes. The still small voice of the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t get out of the chair! Be still!” At that moment, a cool breeze came through the back screen door. Then I sensed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to sing. I fought it for a few seconds because my training was one of structure that did not accommodate unplanned moves of the Spirit. Then I began to sing, “There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place”. They joined in with me, and we enjoyed the Lord’s presence.

I could have easily missed out on this sweet time with the Lord had I just gone about my normal routine. Many of us rush through life and jump from appointment to appointment without allowing room for the unexpected. I encourage you to slow down daily and just listen. The Lord will probably do something that will blow your mind. Make room for Him!

Here We Go Loop-Dee-Loo

I know you are probably thinking about the children’s song. My mind is, however, going in a different direction. I want to discuss church cycles for a moment.

I have been entertained and disappointed at the cycles in churches. This is not a criticism as much as it is a note of observation. 

  1. Getting rid of evening services then bringing them back. Several years ago, churches began to no longer have Sunday night services. Some even stopped Wednesday night services in favor of small groups in homes. I’m beginning to see more churches adding a Sunday/Wednesday night service back to the schedule.
  2. The movement toward CEO pastors and the return to servant leaders. The trend that I was taught as biblical was for the pastor to train the people to do the work while he sat behind a desk. There is now a return among some to rolling up their sleeves and being co-laborers with those in the seats.
  3. Shallow preaching to substance preaching. Many of us were taught to weaken our messages because that was supposed to put more people in the seats. Go to find out, people want some substance. People are at different spiritual maturity levels, but some pastors are returning to preaching messages with varying levels of substance.
  4. Shallow worship song lyrics back to lyrics with substance. The earlier worship songs could easily be played on Delilah or John Tesh’s radio programs. Now we see today’s writers including deep doctrine in their song lyrics. Some are even writing new hymns.
  5. Being the traditional church to going back to New Testament roots. A few decades back, most churches looked the same. Now we are seeing a generation that wants to be as traditional as the New Testament is. 

I am sure there are more cycles I could mention. Feel free to comment respectfully on any you notice. Some of these cycles have come back quickly while others are slow to come back. As I stated before, these are just observations. My challenge to you is not to get hooked on a trend but get immersed in the Bible. Trends fade; God’s Word lasts forever.

It’s Okay to Say No

As a pastor and church staffer, I am way too familiar with church culture. A huge part of church culture is the nominating committee. You know those awesome people that come to you during the summer and guilt trip you? Yeah! That’s them!

I have seen committee members sit around in meetings and nominate people who hate kids to serve in the nursery, people who hate music to lead the choir, and the meanest people to serve on the hospitality committee. Then, they chase people down on Sundays to ask them if they will serve in a particular area. What happens if they hesitate or say “No”? The guilt trip! The well-meaning committee member proceeds to tell the person asked that they should fast and pray for a few weeks and surrender to the will of the committee, I mean “the will of God”.

I say so much of that in jest, but it is okay to say no to something God is not calling you to do. I have been asked to do things and I have politely declined. Sometimes I received the guilt trip, while at other times I was given the liberty to obey the Lord.

If something is not within your skill set, you may not be called to do it. Just because you are asked to do something does not always mean that God opened a door. The devil may have created a distraction for you.

A year ago, I had the potential opportunity to pastor an established church. I preached there 4 different Sundays. They already had an established building and a parsonage where my family could have lived. It would have been an easy financial solution, but God wasn’t calling me to it. He was calling me to start the church I now pastor.

So often, we do things for self rather than for the Lord. Or we do things so we do not disappoint someone else, but we do so begrudgingly. I could have easily taken that opportunity, but I would have not done so because God called me.

Understand your calling and operate within it. If something distracts you from your calling, say no. You will find that you have the energy and passion to give yourself wholeheartedly to what you are supposed to do, not what others think you should do.

Getting Ready for a Funeral

One of the things I love about my job is the drive time. It allows me to think, pray, and worship. As I was driving today, I prayed and God dealt with me pretty heavily about some things. If you are anything like me, God has to keep you in check frequently. 

In my prayer time, I realized some things in me that needed to die. I have fought for those things to stay alive, but God is preparing me for a funeral – a death to self. 

Throughout the New Testament, you will see the recurring theme of death to self. It totally contradicts what society teaches. Society is all about you getting what you want. According to society, we only deserve the greatest and that nothing bad should ever happen to us. Reality says that bad things will happen and we need to take it like big boys and girls and learn the lessons. God shows us that in these difficulties, parts of us will die that need to be buried.

Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” What are these passions and desires? “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” (Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). But there are also some attitudes that need to die. Proverbs 6 gives a list of things God hates: “A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:17-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). 

I think each of us must get ready for a funeral. What is it in you that needs to die? The dying process may be fast or slow. Whatever the case may be, God will give you grace if it needs to go. 

Now it’s time to grab the shovel and start digging the grave!