Tag: truth (page 1 of 3)

Authenticity and Telling a Better Story

Recently I did something I rarely do. I got 250 pages into a book and quit.

I had invested a lot of time, but I just couldn’t finish.

It was well written, compelling historical fiction about the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, but I could tell where the story was heading and I just couldn’t take any more narrative about bad, sad choices, no matter how factual the research was.

Do you ever feel weary of authentically depressing news? Disappointed or dismayed over person after person modeling less than noble behavior?

Over the past ten years we have put an increasingly high value on “authenticity”. We want speakers, leaders, pastors, writers who tell us the whole messy truth. We want vulnerability and  transparency. No plastic saints thank you ma’am. This is a good thing.! A great thing even!

Scripture says,

“Confess your sins one to another…” (James 5:16)

“The truth will set you free…” (John 8:32)

But the stories we’re telling aren’t the only stories to be told.

There are true accounts of courage and sacrifice and service.

Stories can be authentic, but also good and inspiring. Not perfect or formulaic, but capable of lifting our eyes and motivating us to become our better selves.

This past weekend John and I were at an event hosted by Opportunity International – an organization that gives micro-loans to the poor to start small businesses, lifting them out of poverty.

The CEO of Opportunity shared this story:

Arles Mina is a client of Opportunity who now makes cheese curds and sells them from a hole-in-the-wall storefront in Bogota, Colombia.

However, there’s more to the story.

A young loan officer found Arles on the streets of Bogota. He was a drug runner for Pablo Escobar and was high on drugs when they met. The loan officer told Arles that he had a future and insisted he take a loan to start a formal business so he could earn a living and work his way off the streets.

Now, Arles says, “Opportunity has made me who I am.”

Arles received a loan from Opportunity. He repaid it and got another loan, and another, and another, expanding his business. Now he employs 3 women.

3 widows.

3 widows whose husbands were killed by the drug cartel he used to serve.

This is an authentic story. A story of redemption.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

Yes, we should be informed, and the truth can be ugly, but what if we major on the kingdom stories of restoration, reconciliation and redemption so we may “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24)?

5 Words that Made me Stop

I’m a “J” on the Myers Briggs. That means I like quick decision-making and closure. I’m impulsive. A “jump first, ask questions later” kind of girl. Can anyone relate?

So a few weeks ago when I sensed a prompting (that I thought was from God), I was ready to act on it. Like immediately.

This nudge involved speaking a loving question into a friend’s life, but it was about a painful subject .

And then, this morning, before I did anything (this is one reason why morning quiet time is crucial for me! :)) I read 2 Samuel 2:1 “David inquired of the Lord”. The sentence sounded familiar so I checked in Bible Gateway. Sure enough I had read a version of  that same phrase 9 times about David! But this morning I didn’t just read it, I heard it as an additional reminder to me from God.

These 5 words stopped me in my tracks.

Inquiring of the Lord is a check-in with our divine Mentor of sorts. For me it meant praying about my prompting. “Lord this is what I THINK you want me to do. Will you confirm it in my spirit if so? Will you give me Your words if it is Your will?” And then I was still. (Always VERY hard for me!)

The way the Lord answered was to encourage me to put myself in my friend’s place.

Are the words you feel prompted to speak true? Yes.

Would they feel helpful or life-giving to you if you were in her place? Yes.

Are they necessary? No, they are not necessary I guess. I’m sure You, Lord, could find another way to talk to her, but You tapped me, and You remind me “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Eph. 4:25)

After “inquiring of the Lord” and really trying to listen for His response, I prayerfully wrote a note to my friend. Thankfully she received it with gratitude and reflection.

However, there have been times when I thought I was responding to a prompting, only to be blasted by the receiver, causing me to slink away like a scolded puppy. There have been other times when I haven’t spoken up in spite of a prompting and have regretted it as I watched a friend walk into ruin.

Bottom line? I think all we can do is our part – be attentive to the Holy Spirit and carefully inquire of the Lord before we speak. Then have the courage to either speak up or keep our mouths shut with courage as He leads us.

What has your experience been with nudges from the Holy Spirit?




What’s Your Super-power?

“If you could have any ‘super-power’ what would it be?”

That was the ice-breaker question posed at a women’s gathering I attended. Peals of laughter could be heard from different small groups around the room as women shared a desire for everything from a “Bewitched” nose twitch to clean their kids’ mess, to a cloaking devise, to the ability to be “beamed up” out of uncomfortable situations.

It’s a fun question to think about, but unfortunately we often seriously compare ourselves to others and think “Oh…I wish I had THAT ‘super-power’!” The gifts and talents others have can seem so “SUPERior” in light of our own that can feel so ordinary.

There are two reasons comparison is so dangerous. When we compare, the result is either pride or despair. Neither are pleasing to God, right? 

As women, I think we’re more prone to the despair end of the spectrum. Satan’s kryptonite seems to be that diabolical little word “as”.

He whispers,

“Not as pretty as…”

Not as good a mom as…”

“Not as popular as…”

“Not as smart as…”

Recently, my small group did a book study, and there is one line from Genesis 3:11 that we have gotten in the habit of repeating to one another when we feel discouraged or “less than”,

This is from Genesis 3: 9-11  when God is talking to Adam:

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked;so I hid.”

 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?

God knows HE  didn’t tell Adam he was naked.

Is the message you’re hearing really from God? Or is it from someone else? 

After all, God is the One who said you are fearfully and wonderfully made, the One who said He has created good plans in advance for you to do, the One who said He has called you by name, you are His – His chosen, His beloved, the one He sings over…

So today, instead of comparing, let’s remember this…

A Selfie Gospel?

Living an authentic Christian life is just hard, isn’t it?

In a world of curated shiny “selfies” we want to be honest about our own mess and love others well in the midst of theirs. We don’t want to be the fakey judgey plastic Christians, banging others over the head with our Bibles, ignoring our own sin.

In the past few years I think there have been some brave, articulate Christians who have modeled vulnerability and authenticity well. It’s been a much-needed corrective to a Christian culture that just wants to show happy-clappy to the world and use the sword of Truth as a weapon of mass destruction.

These truth-tellers have been detailed and explicit about their mess, and God’s love, but sometimes I feel we’re in danger overcompensating – of making an idol out of authenticity and stopping short of truly grieving it as sin.

It seems like it has become more noble to talk about our sin than actually repent of it.

A pastor stands up or a writer writes “real” –  confessing motives, actions, thoughts, words – a heart that is darker than we’d guess.

We’re like, “Wow! That is so great! He is sooooo AUTHENTIC!!

We applaud their courageous honesty and breathe a sigh of relief. “Phew! I’m not the only one”, we think.

When we feel safe to show our rough edges, our failures, our missteps; we may celebrate grace. Yay! There’s NOTHING we can do to be holy, or good enough. I’m ok, you’re ok.

But have we translated Jesus’ acceptance of us right where we are, into an endorsement of whatever feels good to our culture? Has his patience in our minds morphed into tolerance of everything?

Does it mean we ignore God’s grief over our sin, or the price that He paid to rescue us, or the dreams that He has for our growth in character that is like Him?

Has “authentic” become code for celebrating sin under the guise of “Jesus is Love so it’s all good”?

Has love become all comfort and no cost?

Do we think someone loves us only if they endorse our behavior?

Here’s what I’ve been thinking… We get into trouble when we omit God from any Gospel equation.

You may say, “Well, duh!” but think about how inclined we are to do this.

Truth – Grace = Gospel – God  (pharisaical)

Grace – Truth = Gospel – God  (self-centered)

Both omit God from the equation.

 Do you take the kindness of God for granted? Do you see His patience and tolerance as signs that He is a pushover when it comes to sin? How could you not know that His kindness is guiding our hearts to turn away from distractions and habitual sin to walk a new path? Romans 2:4 The Voice

Clearly I’m not the only one thinking about this.




The church is where we as the broken and beloved come to receive grace and forgiveness, to place ourselves in God’s hands for His refining and redemptive work. This is not easy stuff! I’m thankful for grace AND truth… grateful that we’re on the way together.


Theology Sound Bytes & Boundary Marker Christianity

Awhile ago I tweeted a link to an article that I thought was insightful and discerning. I didn’t agree with everything the author said. I didn’t disagree with everything. But it really made me think.

The article raised some questions about the theology of another writer and speaker who is tremendously gifted and has brought some loving correction to the church, but she is also edgy and unorthodox.  I thought it was helpful, so I passed it along.

Immediately after I put up the link to this article I got a response from one person who was relieved that I was “for” orthodoxy, and another person who was mad that I was “against” this author!  In addition I was “followed” by a group called something like “stampouthomophobia” (which had nothing to do with the article)! I just thought the article had some interesting points to consider as we all try to lead examined lives!

As John Ortberg says, we are consumed with a boundary marker Christianity – who’s in and who’s out.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about…We are all so sensitive about appearing to endorse sin, and afraid of affirming someone who’s theology isn’t EXACTLY spot on (in our eyes) that we miss the opportunity to build bridges where we can.

Theology does not lend itself well to 140 characters. The mystery and nuance of God can’t be summed up in a sound byte, or in a 500 word article. 

We were made for relationship, for theology fleshed out. What if instead of an overhead slam, our goal was to keep the tennis ball in play – to rally back and forth with respect and affirmation?

Our public discourse would be immediately improved if we didn’t assume everyone with a different political view to us was morally inferior. Sam Allbery

If we believe all truth is God’s truth (and I do), why am I afraid of affirming it in someone who is different than me?

What would happen if we majored on what we agree on rather than on what divides us?

What would happen if we affirm truth wherever we see it, even when it comes out of the mouth of a Muslim, or a transvestite or a communist?!


This isn’t something to take lightly. In Matthew 10:16 Jesus warns us “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

We are also cautioned to “test the spirits to see if they are from God.” (1 John 4:1)

But when we look at Jesus we see that He isn’t blind to the sin in the life of others, but also affirms their courage. In Luke 7, a woman who has lived a sinful life comes to the home where Jesus is having dinner and pours perfume on Jesus’ feet. When others criticize her, Jesus says,

Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.”

Those “inside the boundary markers”, with all the right words weren’t endorsed, but the otherwise “outside the boundary markers” woman was affirmed for the one thing she did that was true and right.

My wise, 86 year old aunt sent me a quote from her church the other day:

“He who realizes his sinfulness, who knows through personal experience the weakness of human nature, its inclination towards evil, that person will be quick to forgive his neighbor, pardon his neighbors offenses and will refrain from arrogant condemnation of the sins of others”  

What I feel like Jesus is impressing on me is the challenge to draw people in instead of finding ways to say they’re out. What do you think?

Two Truths and a Lie

1. My husband went to prom with a murderer.

2. I bungee jumped at Victoria Falls, Zambia

3. I received flying lessons as a wedding gift.

Two of these statements are true and one is not.* Ever play that game?

I think we play an unhealthy version of it in our heads every day.  Often we just rehearse a lie over and over again as IF it were the truth.

What should we do instead of listening to the tape in our head that says “Not good enough. Not valuable. Uninvited. Unforgivable.”?

Paul gives us some advice in 2 Corinthians.

 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Here, “Stronghold”  is like a castle with a mote, but I picture it kind of like a hologram that you can walk through – it isn’t real. The Greek word for stronghold, ochuróma can mean: “a prisoner locked by deception”.  Satan is the father of lies and he may make his castle seem impregnable, but it’s not!

In another place I found this definition:  “A stronghold is an influence by the enemy … The strength of the stronghold depends on how long and how much influence a person has allowed over themselves by listening to what the enemy is saying concerning any given situation in which the stronghold has taken root.”

We see the truth of this emphasized in Proverbs:

Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life. Prov. 4:23 CEV

Craig Groeschel says:**


So what can we do? Replace lies with Truth and then, practice rehearsing the Truth more than the lies. 

As you speak Truth to yourself, you’ll grow in the strength of God and His thoughts about you – yay!


What if we rehearse the truth instead of the lie? What the mind repeats it retains, right?

Think of a negative phrase you have said aloud or thought to yourself that stems from a sense of shame rather than your identity in Christ as HIs beloved child.

Turn it upside down and say, in first person, present tense, an affirmation of your God-given value. For example:

I am unlovable. . . . I am infinitely loved.
I don’t have enough. . . . I have everything I need.
I am stupid. . . . I have the mind of Christ.
I am worthless. . . . I am precious in God’s eyes, I am honored, and God loves me.

So mine would be:

I am not good enough. I don’t add value…   I am uniquely gifted by God & He has prepared good works in advance for me.

So say the positive truth aloud like it is true several time. Then rest silently in the awareness that this is you – a unique, gifted, equipped child of God, made in His image.

* Write the most common lie Satan uses to trip you up in the comments and I’ll tell you which one is the lie. 🙂

**This is adapted from Life Church. For more on this, watch “Words to Live By” by Craig Groeschel, or read this synopsis.

How to Respond When “Not Good Enough” is Ringing in Your Ears

I have to be honest with you. I was feeling quite Anne Shirley-ish the beginning of August – “in the depths of despair” as she liked to say dramatically. There was no up to my emotional roller coaster ride, only down. I experienced some cold hard failure and  the crafty Lying Liar was having a hey day with me.


This isn’t his first carnival. He knows exactly which attractions will trigger all the fear and insecurity in me. He knows how to get me into the “fun house” of distortions, and turn up the volume of the hawkers on the Midway who all seem to shout “Not good enough! Not good enough!”


And before you know it, I’m owning it. It’s MY refrain that echoes through my days. “Not good enough.”

“NOT good enough!”

“Not GOOD enough!”

“Not good ENOUGH!”

I did all the things I know to do when discouraged.

I tried to focus on serving others instead of myself.

I tried rehearsing everything I’m thankful for.

I prayed.

And then, a little nudge on my shoulder drew me away from the noise of the Midway to a tiny whisper of the Holy Spirit.

At first there was a question.

Could it be that by saying “Not good enough” about yourself, you are actually saying that about God? That God isn’t “good enough”? Did He make a mistake? Are His ways perfect except when it comes to you?

And then this came to mind:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

If God has prepared good works in advance for me to do, He has created me “good enough” to accomplish them.

Yes I’m a cracked pot, broken and imperfect and in need of redemption.

I may not be a 10 talent person, but the 3 talents God has given me or you are good, and the works He has for us to do are good. And He is good.

There are times we may fail and it’s God’s will for us to learn from it, pick ourselves up, and try again. But I think there are other times when, instead of beating ourselves up, we need to say, “Well, that must not be the good work God has for me. He must have something else up His sleeve.”

The Message paraphrases it this way: “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

You ARE good enough because God in you is more than good enough.

So let’s find the work He’s prepared for us to do and do it!

“If you know you are the Beloved, you can live  with an enormous amount of success and an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity. Because your identity is that you are the Beloved…The question becomes ‘Can I live a life of faith in the world and trust that it will bear fruit?'” – Henri Nouwen


What to do With Critics You’d Really Like to Take Out

When someone criticizes me or my husband John I think, “Oh, how thoughtful. They clearly love us. They have examined the plank in their own eye and are now graciously pointing out the itsy bitsy teeny tiny spec in ours. That is sooooooo lovely!”

Kind of like surreptitiously motioning to a friend that they have a smudge of ketchup in the corner of their mouth while they’re eating  – you know…in a way that doesn’t embarrass them.

Or maybe not. Maybe I stew and think how very unfair life is, and that thing they said I said isn’t what I meant at all, and Come ON already!

Maybe I conduct imaginary conversations in my head where I have witty putdowns and “Ha HA! Take THAT’s!”

Maybe I pray that all the critics would be exiled to Bolivia and that Donald Trump would build a wall so that they can’t get back in. Continue reading

How Can We “Live in the Tension” with Love?

Tomorrow I leave on another trip to Israel/Palestine with Telos, an organization that is pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, pro-peace.

The picture for me is completed when I add “Pro-Jesus”.

In case you were wondering, this is not an easy gig.

Loving people we don’t agree with is safe when it’s just a theory. Bob Goff

Some of you may already be angry with me, but one of the values of our church is a commitment to “live in the tension”. This doesn’t just apply to politics, but so many other social issues also.

Sometimes there are problems that can be solved, but often there are tensions must be managed.

Most of us love black and white, right and wrong, winners and losers, who’s in and who’s out.

We love boundary markers.

We want to major on love but not at the expense of truth, and that can be tricky.

Living in the tension is a hard one that can be misunderstood, but what it means is: Continue reading

4 Benefits to Reading (most of) the Bible in a Year

Confession: I am afraid this post is going to come off like one of those neat and tidy, happy clappy “Life is so good with Jesus” posts that are true as far as they go, but can make everyone feel queasy and a little “less than”.

That is NOT what I want. But I also can’t deny the powerful effect committing to a “Read through the Bible in a Year Plan” has had on me. Yeah, I’ve always read the Bible before, but this has been different. And yes, I’ve missed a bunch of days, but that’s ok.


So…Here are few things I’ve experienced reading the whole most of a lot of the Bible in a Year Continue reading

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