Monthly archives: May, 2018

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

 

 

Have you seen the recent YouTube video of the little boy who was lying about eating a cupcake? Here is this totally adorable toddler with bright, blue icing all around his mouth.  When his dad asks if he’s had a cupcake, without the slightest pause, he says NO…repeatedly. Oh my, he is precious. The fact that he is lying with blue icing all over his mouth – screaming his guilt – makes him even cuter. It makes us chuckle. It’s cute. And those of us with kids could all tell similar stories.

Sometimes the antics of children can be, well, cute. But we grow. And we grow up. And we come to see what once was adorable for a child no longer is. Yep. This includes lying.

Lying is nothing new. The Garden of Eden, heard of it? Adam and Eve? Yep, the very first recorded sin involved lying. And lying is bad. I know. Mind-blowing news – right?  Yet regularly we hear of individuals caught in less than truthful moments: politicians, news broadcasters, sports figures, pastors, coaches, doctors. Each story has its unique circumstances, each with it’s unique failure. Yet underneath it all, they share one obvious question…

Why?

If we know it isn’t true, what drives the need to be dishonest? Why do we feel the need to exaggerate the truth or make people think we’ve accomplished something we haven’t?  Why give the impression that we are something we really are not?

We wear masks. We try to hide the real us. We try to gain acceptance from those around us by being what we think they would want us to be, or say what we think they want us to say…whoever they is.  We don’t want to disappoint. We don’t want to feel rejected. So we stretch the truth. We lie.

And we become the little boy with blue icing on his face.

But there’s a better way.

I Corinthians 13 teaches us that love “rejoices in the truth”Stop. Think about how big this is: this is the section of the Bible commonly referred to as the “love chapter”. We’re told that true “God-type” love (agape in the Greek) is a love that is benevolent, willfully delights and finds joy in the one being loved.  It’s the ultimate love, one of deep, unconditional commitment. A love that doesn’t just endure what’s true, or look past what’s true, it rejoices in what’s true.  It recognizes that as a follower of Jesus, your true identity is not found in your wins and losses, or your feelings and circumstances. Your true identity is found in Jesus Christ! And your true identity doesn’t require a mask.

True love, God’s love, rejoices in the truth!  The truth that…

…you are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

…you are His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10, NKJV)

…you are established. (2 Corinthians 1:21 NKJV)

…you are sealed with His promise. (John 6:27 NKJV)

…you are redeemed. (Colossians 1:14 NIV)

Could it be…that part of why God rejoices in the truth of our messiness and ugliness and brokenness is because the truth of our messiness and ugliness and brokenness gives Him the joy of demonstrating his indescribable, unrestrained, un-earnable love?

Yep! The blue icing is all over your face, and mine. Throw your hands up to a Father who loves you!  He knows and rejoices in the truth: your identity is so much greater than the frosting on your face.

And know this: when we embrace and live in and rejoice in that truth, we’re able to love others the way we are loved. We’re able to rejoice in the truth of their identity as well.  And it’s so much greater than the frosting on their face.

 “Aren’t you glad that God’s acceptance isn’t based on our performance? We have nothing to prove. Cancel the audition.”  – Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church


LOVE ALWAYS FORGIVES

 

 

The church our family attends has an amazing program after each Sunday morning service which children and their families are invited to attend together.  The idea is for parents to hear what the kids learned in class this week and talk through the central teaching – in a super creative, super fun environment.  Our kids absolutely love it. So does their dad!

 

Last week’s lesson was on the Lost Son. It’s the story in Luke 15 that Jesus tells of a rebellious young man who rudely asks his dad for his part of his inheritance (while his dad is still alive – not cool), then goes and wastes everything on big time partying, only to later come to his senses and return to his father, ready to beg for a job. Such audacity!  But before the son can even ask, the father offers him complete forgiveness.

 

If you’re still reading, I need you to pause. Go back and read that last line in the previous paragraph. Seriously. Ok, I’ll just restate it here for you…before the son can even ask, the father offers him complete forgiveness. What a statement! How amazing! But wait, here’s the thing…you may be nodding yes right now at how awesome it is, but never in the passage does it actually say that the father forgave his son. It’s true. Seriously. (Now you’re starting to wonder…is that really true? Go check it out, Luke 15:11:24. See, I told you…no mention of forgiveness anywhere.)

 

But we know he was forgiven, don’t we? So much so that we’ve always assumed it said so.  Why? Because the father doesn’t simply speak words of forgiveness, he demonstrates what forgiveness looks like.  And it’s remarkable:

 

  • The father waits and watches for his sons return
  • As fast as his ol’ legs can move, he runs toward his son the moment he sees him
  • He offers his selfish, filthy, rebellious son a huge embrace. And a kiss. And a coat. And ring. And shoes. (wait…who was the one that was in the wrong in this story?!)
  • The father changes the plans that day for EVERYONE, joyfully announcing a celebration of his returned son.

 

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that one attribute of love is that it “keeps no record of wrongs”.  That when we love others the way God wants us to love, we’re too busy loving the one who misses the mark to even keep track of where the mark has been missed. We’re not just saying we forgive, we’re demonstrating it.

 

Back to the post-service children’s program last weekend after church.  After the team finished acting out the story of the Lost Son (which, my goodness are they creative), families were given a couple of minutes to huddle and discuss a question together: “when have you needed to forgive someone else?”Great question! Quickly my mind started running through a list of people I’ve needed to forgive and how I was so kind to forgive them and which example will be safe for me to share with my kids and….hang on….wait a second….Garrett is just sitting there. And he has an odd look on his face…

 

“What are you thinking about, buddy?”

 

With a sheepish chuckle, “Oh, I’m thinking of all the times I’ve needed to ask forgiveness of others.”

 

Oh, man.

 

My nine-year-old, helping his dad understand the correct answer.

 

We do well when our heart posture is one where we truly recognize the long list of ways that we have been so graciously forgiven, over and over, by God and others.  When this happens, it becomes pretty easy to shred up our lists of “how I’ve been wrong”, instead choosing to freely demonstrate love through forgiveness.

 

Just like the father. And the Father.