You’re Being Lied To

I have a fancy watch.

It tells me all sorts of things, including the weather.  Last Tuesday, it informed me it was a whopping 81 degrees outside!

So I dressed appropriately in one of my summeriest beach-shirts and headed to the church for a meeting.

I turned a lot of heads, because it was only 65 degrees outside.

My watch was lying to me!

I think I’ve got that fixed now, but I don’t know what to do about the rest of the world.

I get this feeling that LOTS of people are lying to me.

Advertisers?  Big time.  I’ll almost never trust something they tell me on a commercial.

Politicians?  Well…yeah.  I’m afraid so.  When you couple these experts at doublespeak with the slipperiness of today’s media, half the time it all sounds like one big lie.

That calls into question lots of things like Facebook Posts and Tweets and all kinds of social media.

And then, I can’t help but think it, but there may be people I know.  Friends, acquaintances, even family who could be lying to me!

I like to think I can trust most people.  A lot of lies are white lies, or lies of omission, or to prevent embarrassment. But it’s true that sometimes we trust someone and we get burned.  We can even lie to ourselves.

For a society built largely on a set of commandments including “don’t bear false witness”, there sure is a lot of false witnessing going on!

If you can’t fully trust your technology, or big business, or government, or media, or even the occasional friend, or even yourself, who does that leave that you can trust?

(Here is where, if this were a children’s sermon, all the kids would say, right on cue:  “Jesus”.)

And that’s a good answer, of course, but let me offer two thoughts first.

If you’re worried that you’re being lied to, here are 2 ways I suggest responding:

  1. Think Critically.  Use your brain.  Gather data.  Sort through a wide range of possibilities.  See where reason takes you.  Once I stepped outside, it didn’t take me long to figure out that my watch was lying to me.  Sometimes the lies are harder to uncover than others, but God gave us minds to help us seek truth.
  2. Employ Faith.  Faith isn’t meant to be a passive feeling, it’s meant to be an active, useful tool for your whole life.  Faith is what makes trust possible even in difficult circumstances.  Blind faith will let you down a scary road (see #1 to avoid that).  Instead, an informed faith will make it so that you can make wise choices and invest your trust where it is warranted, without becoming paranoid or jaded.

I’ll admit there are days when I’ll spin around and wonder if there’s anyone not corrupted by lies.  Anyone?

The answer, of course, is (Okay now, kids, say it loud…) Jesus.  Here’s what he said:

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  -John 8:31b-32

Holding to Jesus’ teaching involves thinking (#1) and believing (#2).  Instead of dwelling on all the lying, we can place our supreme trust in The Truth Jesus offers, and go from there.

It’s a spiritual attitude adjustment that can change our lives and help transform others.

The Bad News?  You’re being lied to.  (It isn’t close to 81 degrees out there.)

The Good News?  Well, let’s just say,

It’s better than all the Bad put together.

And that ain’t no lie.

Have a great week,

Mitch

Baring False Witness

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From the website Liespotting.com:

Humans are lied to as many as 200 times a day.
Social psychologist Jerald Jellison of the University of Southern California published this figure in his 1977 book, “I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Mean To, and Other Lies We Love To Tell.” The hard-to-believe figure, which of course includes the many innocent “white lies” we hear each day, was given further credence in a 2002 study by Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts, who found that on average, people told two to three lies in a ten-minute conversation.

In short — We’re being lied to.  How does that make you feel?

How many bold face lies come at me in a day?  Maybe I don’t want to know.

Keep in mind, a lot of those lies are to avoid embarrassment, to protect secrets, and to gloss over unpleasantness.

I’m okay with those.

It’s the other ones that make me furious.

If I find out someone has been hurtfully and deceitfully dishonest to my face, I’m apt to push them out of my life.

At least until I cool off.  And am apologized to.

“Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.”  It’s a pretty serious commandment when you think about it.

How can we build a society if we don’t have some degree of honesty in place?

How can we build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth?

Shame, shame, shame.

Ahem.  Um.  Can I be honest?

I’ve told some doozies in my day.

I’ll stop if you stop.

Not the little white ones.  I think we need those.

Oh, and that line above where I said I’d stop if you stop?

My fingers were crossed.

But seriously, folks.

Lying is a hard habit to break.

Honesty is a spiritual discipline, and we need help.

What we need is the Spirit’s help.

The Spirit of Grace…

and Truth,

to help us at baring our false witnesses,

and clothing us with righteousness.

So be it.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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“Facticious”

Litany of Facts:  By Mitch Todd

Global Warming Is A Myth.  (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Global Warming Is Here! (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Republicans know what to do with our money. (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Democrats know what to do with our money. (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Eat bacon and lose weight!  (Here, let me show you the facts.)

DON’T eat bacon if you want to lose weight!  (Here, let me show you the facts.)

I could go on, but honestly, I’m kind of tired of the litany of “facts”.  After a while, it all starts to sound…facticious.

I long for the day when facts were, you know, facts.   As a kid, I believed in facts.  If a scientist or a researcher or a politician told me something was fact, I believed them.   There was something comforting about the solidity of facts.  Something that gave the world some structure.  A platform you could attempt to build a life on.

And then…I don’t know if it was just me growing up, or maybe the world drifting into post-modernism, but facts started to become slippery. Invariably, for every rock solid belief I held, there was someone else in the world holding an opposite belief just as tightly–clutching onto a different set of facts.

The same is true in Christianity.   Just look at the fracturing of the Protestant Church.  Now we have hundreds, even thousands of denominations, all claiming to know the facts about belief.   (As if such a thing were even possible!)  Even within my denomination, the United Methodist Church, individual churches and members may believe very different sets of “facts” when it comes to issues of women in ministry, homosexuality, capital punishment, salvation, etc.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe part of our job as faithful disciples, and citizens of this planet, is to sift through all the facts and come to as faithful a decision as we can on all sorts of issues.   And I don’t even think we all have to agree on everything.  But I’ve come to realize that you can stack up all the facts in the world and it doesn’t mean you’ll reach the Truth.  (Tower of Babel, anyone?)

Truth is mysterious, never fully knowable, and somehow able to transcend all the various facts we attach to it.   Truth, for me, is the reality of God’s Kingdom that I can never fully comprehend, but can pledge my every breath to.  Truth is potent and powerful.

When I live with Truth first, and facts second, I’m able to see that the person across the spectrum from me may still be in touch with some Truth that I can’t fully see.   When I live with Truth, I’m able to see The Issue behind the issues, namely the spread of God’s Love into this world.   When I live with Truth, I’m more comfortable saying three magic words:  “I don’t know”.

When I try to live with Truth, life is less about building platforms, and more about building relationships.  Facts are building blocks, and building blocks can be helpful.   But not when they’re used to build walls between people.

Still, I can’t imagine a world without facts.  I don’t think I’d want one.  Facts certainly have their place.

But a world without Truth?

The would be worse than a world without bacon.

Have a good week,

Mitch

truth1

previously published in Aug ’11

SUIT UP

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Ready?  Let’s Suit up!

*CLOMP THUD CLOMP THUD*

I apologize for the racket.

I’m making a little more noise than usual as I walk around today.

Typically, I’ll just wear regular clothes, but today, I feel the need…

for the Armor of God.

Know what I’m talking about?  Read it here from Ephesians.

Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:13-17

Yep.  So I’ve got my great big Belt of Truth on.  It’s got a gigantic buckle with a dove on it.  Very disco, if you ask me.

And I’ve got a big ole breastplate of Righteousness. (With a giant “R” on it, of course)

Next, I’ve got some huge clunking gospel boots for some all-terrain Peace making.

Oh, and don’t forget my shield.  I’ve never actually tried to intercept a flaming arrow before, but I can attest that this shield of Faith is heavy duty.

Then I’ve got my classy helmet of Salvation, decorated in rhinestones and cubic zirconia.

And last but not least, my sword of the Spirit.  It’s not really very sharp, but it gleams a brilliant white light.

Whew.

Do you know how many thrift stores and Renaissance festivals I had to go to get all this stuff?

To be honest, it’s hard for me to even type out this devotion, with all the gear I’m carrying today.

Actually, I seem to be chafing a little bit.

And I’m quite hot.

Hang on…

Upon further reading, I think this passage is supposed to be a metaphor.

In other words, we can carry Truth, Peace, Righteousness, Faith and Spirit with us, all with no hindrance.

Just because the Armor of God isn’t made out of metal, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Each morning when you get dressed, it can be a part of your wardrobe.

Can you imagine the benefits?

All you have to do is pay attention to what you’re putting on.

Ready?

Let’s SUIT UP!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Facticious

Litany of Facts:  By Mitch Todd

Global Warming Is A Myth.  (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Global Warming Is Here! (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Republicans know what to do with our money. (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Democrats know what to do with our money. (Here, let me show you the facts.)

Eat bacon and lose weight!  (Here, let me show you the facts.)

DON’T eat bacon if you want to lose weight!  (Here, let me show you the facts.)

I could go on, but honestly, I’m kind of tired of the litany of “facts”.  After a while, it all starts to sound…facticious.

I long for the day when facts were, you know, facts.   As a kid, I believed in facts.  If a scientist or a researcher or a politician told me something was fact, I believed them.   There was something comforting about the solidity of facts.  Something that gave the world some structure.  A platform you could attempt to build a life on.

And then…I don’t know if it was just me growing up, or maybe the world drifting into post-modernism, but facts started to become slippery. Invariably, for every rock solid belief I held, there was someone else in the world holding an opposite belief just as tightly–clutching onto a different set of facts.

The same is true in Christianity.   Just look at the fracturing of the Protestant Church.  Now we have hundreds, even thousands of denominations, all claiming to know the facts about belief.   (As if such a thing were even possible!)  Even within my denomination, the United Methodist Church, individual churches and members may believe very different sets of “facts” when it comes to issues of women in ministry, homosexuality, capital punishment, salvation, etc.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe part of our job as faithful disciples, and citizens of this planet, is to sift through all the facts and come to as faithful a decision as we can on all sorts of issues.   And I don’t even think we all have to agree on everything.  But I’ve come to realize that you can stack up all the facts in the world and it doesn’t mean you’ll reach the Truth.  (Tower of Babel, anyone?)

Truth is mysterious, never fully knowable, and somehow able to transcend all the various facts we attach to it.   Truth, for me, is the reality of God’s Kingdom that I can never fully comprehend, but can pledge my every breath to.  Truth is potent and powerful.

When I live with Truth first, and facts second, I’m able to see that the person across the spectrum from me may still be in touch with some Truth that I can’t fully see.   When I live with Truth, I’m able to see The Issue behind the issues, namely the spread of God’s Love into this world.   When I live with Truth, I’m more comfortable saying three magic words:  “I don’t know”.

When I try to live with Truth, life is less about building platforms, and more about building relationships.  Facts are building blocks, and building blocks can be helpful.   But not when they’re used to build walls between people.

Still, I can’t imagine a world without facts.  I don’t think I’d want one.  Facts certainly have their place.

But a world without Truth?

The would be worse than a world without bacon.

Have a good week,

Mitch

images by davesblog and caricatura