this went thru my mind

Bible: Bobby Valentine has only published part one of his series entitled The ‘Enjoyment’ of Scripture, but I can see right now this series will be good stuff.

Google+: I’m anxious to receive a Google Plus invite and to give it a go, especially after reading Eric Dye’s How Churches Can Make the Most Out of Google Plus.

Honesty & lyingWhy Casey Anthony Lied by Karen Zacharias Spears.

Humor: Dilbert on Smartphones.

Money: 7 Habits of Highly Frugal People.

NationalismA Flag in the Auditorium: Restating the Question by Jay Guin.

Singing, congregational: Kevin DeYoung’s two-part series entitled Ten Principles for Church Song is definitely worthwhile. Here are links to part one and part two.

South Sudan: This week we have witnessed the birth of a nation. Pray for the people of South Sudan. These two links will help you do just that: Christians rejoice as South Sudan celebrates independence and Sunday worship in South Sudan.

Space: We witnessed the last Space Shuttle launch this week. I was on the eve of graduating from college when the first one launched. This infographic on the Shuttle is interesting: Bye Bye Space Shuttle. And while we’re on the subject of space, note The Surprising History of Prayer in Space.

this went thru my mind

Church: Someone finally got around to writing that article I’ve always intended to write, but never did. Ever since I first saw what would become one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, James Whitmore’s character, Brooks, has been on my mind. I thought I had a copyright on the contents in my head, but apparently Dan Bouchelle walked around in there, took some pictures and notes, and then typed it up for all to see … and did a far better job than I could have ever done with it. Thank you, brother. Too Institutionalized to Live on the Outside is brain food.

Church leadership: Todd Rhodes’ post Dirty Little Secret is perfectly honest and spot-on.

Courage: The Freedom Riders. James Zwerg: “I asked God to give me the strength to remain nonviolent and to forgive the people for what they might do.” “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?” If you read no other post here, read this one by Richard Beck … and this one, a follow up.

Covetousness: That’s the topic in most of this coming Sunday morning’s adult Bible classes at MoSt Church as we begin to draw near to the conclusion of our study of the Ten Commandments. Here’s a good illustration of “coveting gone wild” – Is Extreme-Couponing Gluttony or Good Stewardship? by Jerod Clark.

Domestic violence: Why Pastors Struggle With Confronting Domestic Violence by John Shore.

Faith: Terry Rush on faith in his post A Mistaken Doctrine That Holds the Church at Bay.

Generational differences: Matt Dabbs has it so right in his post entitled The Gospel-Epistle Generation Gap.

Human: What does it mean to be human and what do we humans need in relation to God? I think Brian Mashburn’s post entitled My Neediness is one of his best … and that’s saying a lot!

Humor: What a hoot! Now if it was my funeral it would either be a matter of wheeling the casket in at the last minute or doing two or three things at the same time while the funeral was going on, right? Read Late To Your Own Funeral by Matt Dabbs and grin. Ben Witherington’s Fractured Fairy Tales From the Farm is hilarious. Reminds me of the Monty Python classic on SPAM.

Lying: I recently preached a sermon on honesty and lying and taught a class on the ninth of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not bear false witness …”) just last Sunday morning. Here’s a fine article by Sarah Sumner that appeared just yesterday on The Seven Level of Lying.

Marriage: Trey Morgan’s post entitled Six Reasons Not to Have An Affair says it clearly and concisely.

Mission: Everything needs rethinking. Regularly. Times and contexts change.  Methods of mission must as well. David Fitch’s post The Important Task of Creating Missional Rhythms in a Community kindly and clearly reminds us of such.

Progress: You can spend your life trying to address and shore up weaknesses or you can play on your strengths. That’s true of people groups as well as indivduals. Jim Martin’s post What Strengths are You Building On? is good stuff.

Torture: I agree with this. Do you? Torture will always be wrong by Linda J. Gustitus.

Just for fun: Ever wondered what a map of the location of the top fast food burger chains in the U.S. would look like? Check out Data Pointed’s visual representation of the eight largest burger chains and see the overwhelming winner in Texas is … not who you’d probably guess.

the ninth commandment

This coming Sunday morning (May 15) at MoSt Church most of our English-speaking adult Bible classes (9:00 a.m.) will study Rock Solid Speech. This is a study of the ninth of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”; Exodus 20:16; Deut. 5:20). Make good use of the following questions to assist you in your preparation for class this Sunday, won’t you?

1. What constitutes a “lie?” “Define lying.” Be as precise as possible.

2. Of all sins, lying is the one most identified with Satan (“the father of lies” – John 8:44). Why do you suppose this is the case and what are some of Satan’s favorite lies that you hear?

3. Name some instances of lying as related in the narratives of the Bible.

4. What are some of the most common motivations for people to lie? That is, why do people lie?

5. Can you illustrate how it is possible to say something that is factually true, but morally false?

6. Lies are not always told with words. How else do you see people lie? Can a lie be told by being silent? Can you give us an illustration of such?

7. Is there a distinction in your mind between lying about trivial matters and lying about important matters? Explain.

8. Are you inclined to view lying as “immoral” or “against God” in the same way as sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry?

9. What is the most deceptive kind of lie – the one furthest or closest to the truth? Why?

10. What lies do you hear people tell in the name of “politeness” or “compassion?” When is withholding the truth wrong? Right?

11. How are lying and slander related to each other? Is it possible to slander a person if everything you say about them is true?

12. What are your most common self-deceptions?

13. What is the most valuable lesson you have ever learned about the value of truth? What is the best way to teach truthfulness to someone?

14. How can a person guard their heart against the temptation to lie? How can someone given to lying break the cycle?

sermon follow-up: honesty

Honesty. How are you coming along with that this week? Just checkin’.

What did you think of those stats on lying? A bit shocking or close to what you would have expected? I gathered them from a variety of sources, but here is a link to an article in which I found the quote from Robert Feldman regarding in what context we tend to tell our biggest lies.

Did your LIFE group use the icebreaker question about movies and honesty/lying? Though it’s over a decade old now, my favorite movie on the consequences of lying and the need for honesty is still Where the Heart Is. No, it’s not my favorite just because Natalie Portman is in it and because its setting is a small town in Oklahoma. It’s because Dylan Bruno‘s character (Willy Jack Pickens) tells us straight up the point of this story when he says:

“Why does anyone lie? Cuz we’re scared? Or crazy? Or just mean? … There’s a million reasons why a person lies … But sometimes, you tell a lie so big … that it changes your whole life.”

Every significant character in this movie wrestles with honesty and lying on a life-changing scale. How they live out the changes in their life because of their choices is what this movie is all about. The language and situations are exceedingly “honest” at times, so if you can’t handle movies that aren’t rated G, pass it up, but if you can watch a movie as an adult and not everything has to be pre-filtered for you, I suspect you’ll give this movie two thumbs up. Parents, I can easily envision this as a very good movie to watch with your mid-teens for the purpose of springboarding a conversation not just on this topic, but other pertinent ones as well (drinking, pre-marital sex, irresponsibility, selfishness, etc.). Rent it and work it.

As we serve the living God who cannot lie, let’s walk and talk the truth as his people.

toward a life without lying

NOTE: Beginning with this post, I’ll publish on Saturday of each week a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church‘s LIFE groups the following Sunday night. These discussion guides work the same subjects and primary texts as my Sunday morning sermons. You’ll find these guides categorized each week under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To aid our growth in development of Christ’s character, moving more toward a life without lying.

Scripture

Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37 NRSV)

Open

These are icebreaker questions. They’re intended to get all of the group members talking. Choose one of the following for your group to engage.

1. What was the biggest whopper of a lie you recall ever being told by a child?
2. What is one of your favorite movies, or scene from a movie, that revolves around the issue of truth-telling?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple directly with the sermon’s primary Scripture texts.

  1. Recall some of the narratives in the Bible regarding lying and truth-telling.
  2. In light of Scripture as a whole, do you believe Jesus has oath-taking in a court of law in view here in Matthew 5:33-37? Explain.
  3. From other Scripture noted during the sermon, why is lying wrong and truth-telling so good?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

  1. What do you suppose are the primary reasons we humans lie so often?
  2. Some sins we are quicker to own up to than others. Ironically, lying is definitely one of the latter; it’s always something “someone else does.” We might “exaggerate” or “stretch” things, but we never “lie.” Why is this?
  3. Are there limits to honesty? Are there ever situations you can imagine in which lying could be justified? Explain with Scripture in view.
  4. It’s not possible to lie to others without having first lied to yourself. What might be some of the damaging effects of lying to yourself?
  5. Have you ever said “I swear” or “I promise” when trying to get others to believe you? Why did you use those words?
  6. I am most tempted to trip up in terms of truth telling when the following is at stake: (a) money, (b) reputation, (c) perception, (d) status, (e) abilities, (f) knowledge, or (g) habits?
  7. Examine a recent lie you told. Which was the biggest driver behind it, fear or desire?
  8. What is the single best thing that has happened to you, or that you have done, to help keep you from lying?
  9. As a group, brainstorm a list of things any Christian can do to be proactive in becoming a more truthful individual in all situations.