To Tell The Truth

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie…  Rom. 1:25a

I’m looking around and honestly wondering if we have lost our minds!

Ten years ago if you would have told me we’d be engaged in the current public debate, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you would have told me our president would declare that public schools would be compelled to allow “transgender” students to use the public restroom which corresponds with their chosen gender identity, rather than their actual gender, I would have again, not believed you.

But I would have been wrong.

In fact, today we face the bizarre, awkward, and even dangerous reality of men in the women’s restroom and women in the men’s. All because of the arbitrary misapplication of “gender identity.” I’m not sure we even understand the complex and nuanced implications of that term, but what I do know, is that I don’t look forward to the first time I have to inform some poor woman that in spite of her “gender identity” that urinal is just not going to work. It’s not built for her kind of “guy.”

And, of course, here is where the idea of “gender identity” breaks down. Gender is not a matter of opinion; it is observable, scientifically provable fact. It is determined by X and Y chromosomes, and anatomy, not how one feels. In this recent Wall Street Journal article, Dr. Paul McHugh, formerly of the Johns Hopkins Institute, pioneers in the field transgender surgery, explains why the institute stopped performing the procedure. Dr. McHugh categorizes transgender identity as a mental disorder similar to anorexia or bulimia nervosa, where a person who is dangerously thin sees themselves as overweight. Similarly, in this very direct report, the American College of Pediatricians strongly weighs in and warns against attempts to make gender a matter of ideology rather than biology.

Sadly, many people will view this as horribly offensive and insensitive, and I’m sorry for that. Please know, I feel genuine compassion for those who wrestle with transgender feelings.

The problem is, how they or I feel has no bearing on the truth.

And this brings us to the real issue…some things are simply true in spite of how we feel about them. For example, if you and I are ever on top of a tall building and I tell you that I self-identify as Superman and try to jump off, don’t spare my feelings, just stop me. That is the truly compassionate thing to do, because my feelings or self-identity have nothing to do with reality…I’m not superman and I can’t fly! Now this should seem like common sense, but in a world where feelings increasingly trump truth, you never know!

And here lies the crux of the problem. The greatest casualty in this whole conversation is the truth. We are creating a world where we dare not claim to know, let alone declare, truth. Stop for a moment and consider what that world would eventually become?

In John, chapter 8, Jesus said, “You’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free.” How many times have we seen this statement proven true? Think about all the lives you’ve seen improve and the people you’ve seen set free, because they moved from self-deception to embracing truth. 

If truth leads to freedom, what does a world where truth isn’t welcome look like? Sadly, I think we’re beginning to get a glimpse. Things that would have been considered deviant and harmful just a few years ago are being applauded as normal, and even courageous. And what’s truly sad, is that the people involved, while “feeling accepted,” are still suffering rather than being truly set free.

And it seems, by and large, that our culture is just following along blindly.

Like the child in Hans Christian Anderson’s story, I just want to call out…   

“The emperor has no clothes…

…And that’s a dude!”

But we need to be careful, because while telling the truth may be the right thing, it’s often not the popular thing.


Follow the Guide!

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. – John 14:15-17

Christians have been known throughout the centuries as “Christ Followers” or simply “Followers of Jesus.” The common interpretation has been that we follow the ways and teaching of Jesus, which of course is true. We learn His word and study His ways, doing our best to represent Him well.

However the gospels paint a different picture of following Jesus. When Jesus called someone to follow Him it quite literally meant follow…

…Like right now.

The idea was… “Stop what you’re doing, come and follow me.”

This was not an easy call.

Jesus never gave His followers the month’s schedule or presented a detailed itinerary. In fact, they often misunderstood His true plan or purpose until well after something had occurred. He rarely asked their opinion on the plan, and He never took votes. He would simply lead and they were expected to follow.

For those of us who like to be in control, this is kind of a scary thought! Can you imagine Jesus being with us 24/7 and us simply being expected to follow? No…many of us prefer to think of our faith as though Jesus left us a map to follow as we see fit.

Part of me loves the map! I get to choose how I go, what pace I take, which stops are essential, etc. With the map, I get to retain a fair amount of control over my daily affairs. There’s just one problem…

Jesus didn’t leave us a map.

He left us a guide.

In John’s gospel, chapter 14, Jesus promised that His followers wouldn’t be alone because He would send the Spirit of truth to be with us and in us! That means the very Spirit and presence of Jesus is with us 24/7, and that we are expected to follow His leadership, daily, just like His first followers! The good news is, not only is He there to lead us, but He is also there to empower us! His Spirit will supernaturally enable us to accomplish whatever He calls us to do, as we follow Him!

I never had a map that could do that!

Following Jesus is not easy, but it is actually fairly simple: listen for His voice (through His word and prayer) and do what He says. That’s when the power of God becomes real!

Once you’ve followed His voice and seen His power, you’ll never go back to the map!


Are You Sure You Want Vision?

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. - Prov. 29:18

I love this verse!

And why shouldn’t I? All leaders love this verse because it’s about vision!

Proverbs 29 verse 18 has been used to justify and launch an endless array of leadership initiatives…some God inspired and kingdom focused, and many…well, not so much.

Vision is a word that has become so common it almost has to be redefined, or reclaimed, to be understood in its biblical setting. It’s actually pretty simple…the biblical idea of vision was simply some kind of visual revelation from God. The operative phrase being, “from God.” When the biblical writers speak of vision they are referring to God showing up and making His will known. In fact, dark times were sometimes described as seasons where there was no vision from the Lord (See Lamentations 2:9).

The people of God have always sought the vision of the Lord. It meant that God was on the move! He would be bringing about His purposes and He wanted His people to play a part! Note how Peter quotes the prophet Joel in his sermon on the day of Pentecost:

“ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” - Acts 2:17

Vision is God revealing His purpose and inviting us to join Him! Who wouldn’t be excited?

Of course, hearing from God is no small matter and is never to be taken lightly. Ironically, the key to understanding Proverbs 29:18 is the part that’s always left out…”But blessed is he who keeps the law.” A vision from God is the law, because He’s…well, God! To not follow the vision that God has given is considered an act of disobedience and even rebellion. That’s what the verse means when it says the people “cast off restraint” or the more familiar King James rendering of “the people perish!” Those who disregard the vision and word of the Lord always come under judgment 

Are you sure you want vision?

It’s worth noting that this verse is preceded and followed by verses that speak of discipline. Vision is always a part of God’s leadership and discipline, or discipleship, of His people, because it is the revelation of Father’s purpose and calling to those who are His. There are some ways in which God’s vision is general, for all His people. Yet there are other aspects of His vision that are very local and even personal.

So…what vision has God given you?

What is God’s assignment for you, your family, your Christian community?

As you pray and open your eyes, what do you see?  What breaks your heart, because you believe it breaks God’s heart? What makes you sing and celebrate because you feel God’s joy? What keeps you awake at night? What do you think about when you’re alone in the car?

The warning of Proverbs 29:18 is that without God’s vision my life becomes “unrestrained”…think void of divine purpose and meaning. We live in a culture where it is far too easy for our life to become dissipated in the pursuit of self-interest. We all have a voice inside that calls us to live for something bigger than ourselves. That voice is the voice of God Himself and vision is His invitation to break free and make your life count for eternity!


What’s your vision and what are you going to do about it?=