Friday, June 24, 2011

Houses Built on Sand

I saw him staggering across the beach as I packed up our chairs at the end of a great day of vacation. Soon he was not just staggering, he was vomiting into the sand. He slowly made his way over the walkway through the sand dunes, stopping to relieve his lurching stomach every few steps. As I followed a few steps behind, I realized that he was drunk. He finally sat down on the steps to the boardwalk and continued to discharge the contents of his stomach off to the side, in full view of the many who were walking by.

Finally his father found him and tried to move him over to a more discreet place where he could finish emptying himself of massive amounts of alcohol. But it was hard not to overhear the conversation between father and son. The father kept saying, "Puke over here out of the way" and the son kept saying "Dad, you have never been there for me." It did not seem to bother the father that the son had drunk so much that he was puking, it only seemed to bother him that the son was puking in front of others. The son did not seem to understand that his father was trying to help him, even if only with part of the problem.

As my family passed by the sad scene, I said to my own adult son, "I hope we never have a conversation like that." He assured me that we would not. We saw that young man several other times during our recent vacation at the beach, and it became painfully obvious that excessive amounts of drinking was only one of that young man's many issues.

As I reflect upon that situation, I cannot help but think about the story Jesus told in the Gospel of Matthew 7:24-27. That story illustrates in a powerful way that if we build our lives on the Rock of Christ, then when difficulties come, we will find the strength to endure. But if we build our lives on the shifting sands of human opinion and what feels good in the moment, then when difficulties come, life falls apart. That young man, though barely launched into adulthood, is living a life that is already falling apart. It is a challenge to those of us who claim to know Jesus to build our lives on His Word, empowered by His Spirit and in a way that conforms us to His image.

Lord, help us build our lives on the eternal Rock of Christ!

For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What it Takes to be a Dad - A Guest Post by Pastor Dave Bentley

When we think of dad's, we often picture them as fishing, teaching us to ride our bike, cooking at the grill, giving piggy-back rides, and teaching us to drive the car. But for some people, such images may
■be blank because dad wasn’t part of the picture.
■may not be happy, but might be painful memories.

Three Familiar Fathers Figures who offer Negative Examples of Fatherhood:
■The Irresponsible Father “I’ll get around to it eventually.”
■The Dictator Dad – “King of this castle” (Irritable, Impatient, Inflexible)
■The Absent Dad – “Where’s dad? …hiding behind the newspaper, or out with his friends

A Good Example of Fatherhood from Scripture with 3 Crucial Characteristics for being a good father can be found in Luke 15:11-32. Though this is often referred to as the story of prodigal son, it really should be called the story of the loving father.

1. Great dads have AN OPEN HAND – They are TOUGH ENOUGH TO RELEASE
This Tells us something about the Father’s Relationship to His Child
Remember that this is a parable that illustrates God’s love for us.
■He had an open and honest relationship with his son.
■He Had a mature and Secure Relationship with his son
■There are times when we need to hold on to our children.
■There are times when we need to release our children. (Tough Love)
■Letting Go will not be easy to do.
■The Son’s Rebellion was severe – painful
■The son’s rebellion was severing – departed
■Apparently there were rules, standards, expectations
■Consider Adam and Eve and the rebellion in the garden

Notice some things about the Return of the Son
■The Son walked Home
■The Father RAN to Greet him.
■The Father’s Response Demonstrated
■Compassion – moved when he saw his son
■Passion – RAN to meet him
■Expression – Ordered a Celebration

■Express Emotion
■Sharing Celebrations
■Bearing Burdens
■We do alright at showing Strength
■We need to work at showing sensitivity
■We do alright at showing displeasure
■We need to work at giving praise.

What does all this mean to us? God invites us:
■To Know the Father’s Heart through Salvation
■To have the Father’s Heart through Discipleship
■To Share the Father’s Heart through Evangelism

NOTE: this sermon outline was adapted from an original post by Pastor Dave which can be found at:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dirt Biscuits and Beach Houses

I grew up poor. Though we often did not have what we "wanted," we always had what we "needed." With the help of scholarships, I worked my way through college, where I met my future wife. Through hard work, my wife and I have been able to provide a middle class lifestyle for our children. Though our children have never been rich, they have also never known the poverty I knew growing up.

This week my family is enjoying a lifestyle slightly more than middle class as we relax in a beach house for a week long family reunion with lots of relatives. Yesterday my kids and I were discussing how blessed we were to experience this level of luxury, even if only for a week. In the discussion we also talked about what it must be like for people who live in other nations in which such luxury is not possible, even for a week long vacation.

We specifically talked about Haiti, since our family will be visiting that small island nation next year on a mission trip. The poverty in Haiti is almost unimaginable by those of us who live in relative comfort in the United States. Food prices are so high in Haiti that many of the people eat what is commonly referred to as Dirt Biscuits. The biscuits are made from dried yellow clay mixed with water, salt and vegetable shortening or margarine. Though originally designed for medicinal purposes, the biscuits have now become the staple diet for a significant number of people in Haiti. It is hard for those of us who live in America to imagine people being so hungry they would eat a biscuit made from dirt. Yet, that is a common meal for far too many people in Haiti.

As we sit in our rented beach house enjoying family and eating far too much junk food, we cannot help but think about people in places like Haiti who tonight will eat a dirt biscuit to stave off hunger for one more day. Dirt biscuits have come up several times in our conversations the last few days. But it must be more than just a subject of conversation. It must translate into action. This is one of the reasons why our family will travel to Haiti next year to work with God's Littlest Angels orphanage. We feel compelled to put feet to our conversation. We know we cannot change a whole nation in a week, but we can help a small group of children eat something other than dirt, even if only for a few days.

Those of us who have been blessed by God to have more than dirt biscuits to eat must do something to make a difference in the lives of those around us. The 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew reminds us that when we help the least of these in the name of Christ, then we have served Christ Himself. Let us learn to pray: "Lord, help those of us who have so much see the needs of those who have so little and respond in ways that can make a real difference." And then let us put feet to our prayers.

For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Involving Young Adults in Church Leadership

Some time ago I was invited to be the guest speaker at a church for "Youth Day." Most people who know me understand that I have a burden for helping churches reach the next generation, so it made sense that they would invite me to speak on this topic. It was a fine church, with friendly people, good music and a warm fellowship.

But as the service began I noticed there were only three young people present. Since it was "Youth Day" I was a bit surprised, having assumed they would have made some type of special effort to get the youth to come for the emphasis. As the service continued to unfold, I noticed that even though it was "Youth Day," the youth were not scheduled to help lead the worship. Since that is the normal pattern for such a day in a church, this was surprising to me. Other than one young man on the praise team, all the other parts of the service were led by senior adults.

Because I knew a couple of people in the congregation personally, I asked a few questions afterwards and learned that the congregation did not view young people as "mature" enough for leadership. They had a couple of negative experiences in the past where young people did not lead in the way the church wanted, so the church no longer allowed young people to lead. Thus, even on "Youth Day," youth did not lead.

Though I can understand the frustration of dealing with immaturity and have a lot of experience in working with young people who have their own ideas about how things should be done, I just could not grasp why this church would swing the pendulum so far one direction. Even after all this time, I struggle to wrap my mind around the idea that even on "Youth Day" the young people could not lead. I have shared this experience (without mentioning the church's name) with many youth workers in other churches and have been surprised to find out this scenario is far more common than I thought.

If we expect young people to be involved in church, we need to find ways to let them participate in leadership. While it is true that they may bring their own ideas to the table, and some of them will be less mature than we would like, if we do not give them a place at the table, they will not show up at all. And that has very negative long term impact on the future of a congregation.

In short, if we want them to lead, then we must let them lead.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where is God? A Guest Post by Bill Davis

There is the story of the small child that had just finished Bible School. A rough old neighbor saw the small lad skipping happily home. He stopped him and asked where he had been going the last few days. "I been to Bible School", he enthusiastically answered. Bible School? The neighbor answered. What in the world did you learn at Bible School he said sarcastically. "I learned about God", was the quick reply. I will give you a dime if you can tell me where God is; came the neighbor's challenge.-----Silence-----I will give you a quarter if you can tell me where God is, was the new challenge.

The boy looked him square in the eyes, and quick as a flash his answer came! And his accents were not even faint, "I'll give you a dollar Mister, If you can tell me; where God ain't."

Have you ever asked, Where is God? Or have you wondered where God was? When this question is asked by a Christian or even someone who merely believes in God; they probably aren't asking where He is physically but where He is spiritually. He is probably missing in their life. If you believe the Bible is the word of God, then that would be a good place to start. 2 Timothy 3:16; "All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." If you feel God is in your heart, your own thoughts and actions would be a good place to start. James 4:8; "Come near to God and He will come near to you." If you want to know where He is in the world, just look around. Look at His work in nature. Psalm 19:1; "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Look at His work in the life of your Pastor or lay person, the friend that stands by you no matter. The one that you know will always be there for you even if they don't really have too. Gee, seems like God is pretty much everywhere. Look in the mirror, maybe just maybe there is a resemblance there to your Heavenly Father.

Where Is God? The Question Should Be, "Where God Ain't."

Bill Davis writes a daily devotional that he shares via email for those who want to sign up. For more details, contact Bill at:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Learning Not to Complain About Each Other

A sermon based on James 5:9-11, developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett

Verse 9 - Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door!
• Throughout the book of James the term “brothers” is used to refer to Christians.
• Christians are not supposed to complain about each other.
• The late Louis Binstock was a Jewish rabbi who penned the famous quote, “We are often our own worst enemies.” Though written to a Jewish constituency, this quote applies to Christians too.
• When we become stressed out by the difficulties and complexities of life, we often lash out at those around us.
• In our stress, we may attack family members or life-long friends or fellow church members.

The Relationship Institute in Royal Oak, Michigan, has identified three reasons why we lash out at those who are closest to us.
(Please note that the RI is not a Christian organization and therefore many of its conclusions would not be endorsed by the author. However, they do seem to have a good grasp on WHY people behave certain ways in relationships.)

1. Un-conscious recreation of emotional trauma.
• Whatever we experienced as children is what we consider “normal.”
• Therefore, when we feel stressed out, we tend to retreat to our “normal” place even if it is unhealthy.
• We must learn to cast all our anxiety on Christ instead of projecting them on others (1 Peter 5:7)

2. Trying to find a person who will give us the love we have always wanted.
• Since we feel most comfortable with whatever our version of “normal” is, we tend to seek love from those who have similar characteristics as people who were close to us as children.
• This may seem to work at first because we understand each other since we have the same view of “normal.”
• But eventually various issues will emerge, often the very same difficulties that we experienced as children. Then we feel less loved than ever.
• We must find our source of love in Christ.

3. We lack the skills to communicate our feelings in a constructive manner.
• Our culture does not do a good job of teaching us how to express our feelings in healthy ways.
• Therefore, we tend to express emotions in unhealthy ways. The people who are around us the most are the most frequent witnesses to our unhealthy expressions of emotions.
• We must ask the Lord to give us wisdom in how we express our emotions and to renew our personality into one more like Christ.

Verse 9 - Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door!
• When we fall to the temptation to complain and grumble about each other, we are in danger of being judged.
• The ultimate Judge is the Lord Jesus Christ who sees all, hears all and knows all.
• We cannot con The Judge about our actions or motives.
• The Judge stands at the door of our hearts looking into the window of our souls.
• Sometimes He is pleased with what He sees.
• Sometimes He is not pleased.
• Do we realize He is there all the time watching?
• Though we are thankful for His grace, let us not treat His grace with contempt.

Verse 10 - Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name as an example of suffering and patience.
• James urges us to think of all the people in the Bible who endured difficulties and struggles.
• Though they experienced both success and their failure, they learned how to endure difficulties with a patience that only comes from understanding the grace and goodness of God.
• We can learn from every experience in life if we will view life from God’s perspective.
• When we are struggling with issues in our lives, instead of taking it out on those around us, we should strive to practice faithful patience as we wait on the Lord to renew our strength.
• This will be difficult, but with God’s help, it is possible.

Verse 11 - See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job's endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord: the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
• People who have remained faithful to the Lord while enduring difficulties find a blessing in their struggles.
• We like to remember the blessings, but often forget that many blessings only come in the midst of difficulty.

James gives us the example of Job.
• Job lived around 2200 B.C.
• Job had ten children and great wealth.
• Job loved the Lord and was a man of great faith.
• Satan wanted to test Job and asked God for permission to take away all Job’s blessings.
• God gave His permission and Satan used a series of disasters to take away all of Job’s wealth and kill all Job’s children.
• Many people, including his wife, thought Job should abandon his faith in the Lord.
• Job went through a time of terrible depression. He lost his health and questioned God’s activities in his life. But Job refused to give up his faith.
• Job realized that God had a purpose and a plan and that if he would follow it, God would somehow turn a difficult situation into something good.
• God finally told Satan that Job has passed all his tests and forbid Satan from doing anything else.
• After this, God allowed Job to have ten more children and gave him twice as much wealth as Job had before.
• Job experienced much more loss than most people can imagine, and though it caused him great pain and made him ask questions about God, it did not destroy him or his faith.
• We can learn a lot about how to respond to difficulties from Job’s example.

Verse 11 - See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job's endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord: the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
• When we are going through difficult times, we must remember that it is the outcome that is important, not the various details along the way.
• We must remember that the Lord is compassionate and merciful to us.

• When we are facing difficulties, we must resist the temptation to take our stress out on those around us.
• Instead, we should ask God to help us find healthy ways to deal with our stress.
• We should faithfully trust in the goodness of God as we wait for the final outcome of our temporary struggles.
• Through endurance, we find God’s blessing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Challenge of Leadership

In my role as a denominational administrator, I attend a lot of meetings with other leaders. It is exciting to hear of their plans for strengthening existing churches, starting new churches, holding strategic evangelistic events and training the next generation of leaders. My role gives me a unique vantage point of being able to not only hear about these plans, but to watch them be put into action over the course of time.

Everyone loves it when a plan works perfectly and the goals are achieved. God gets the glory, the Kingdom is expanded and the leadership teams' abilities are affirmed. Most are equally thrilled when a plan hits an unexpected bump along the way and the leaders listen to the Spirit and display wisdom in adjusting the plan in order to keep move forward. Making adjustments to a plan mid-stream should not be considered failure. God is still glorified in those moments and the Kingdom still be expanded according to God's great plan of world redemption.

Regretfully, there are also times when a plan just does not work at all. Leaders must have the courage to recognize that sometimes they just misunderstood what the Spirit was saying and then seek the Lord for a new plan. This can be hard for leaders to do. It is much easier to continue to cling to the failed plan and attempt to pour more money or manpower into it in the hopes that it will work better with increased resources. But this rarely happens and eventually the leaders must abandon the plan, even if they never publicly admit that it failed. Though this can be embarrassing for leaders, such realities are just a part of being a leader.

All leaders make mistakes. But great leaders learn from those mistakes and grow through them. When great leaders experience failure they seek to discover why the plan failed and what kind of plan would have been more effective. Due to this learning process, great leaders tend to make fewer mistakes in the future than they did in the past.

Less effective leaders fail to learn from mistakes and keep repeating them. Less effective leaders tend to blame others for their failures. They may even look for an "enemy" to lash out at even if that enemy had nothing to do with their failure. Their goal is to re-direct attention away from their failure so that people will not notice their lack of leadership. Though this may appear to work in the beginning, if less effective leaders continue to make the same mistakes long enough, people begin to see through their smoke screens. Less effective leaders will eventually find themselves no longer in leadership.

We live in a time in which effective leadership is in great demand and short supply. For those of us who seek to serve the Lord in Kingdom expansion, we must look to Him to help us become great leaders. The church of Christ deserves no less.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love? - A Guest Post from the Relationship Institute

One of the most common (and most frustrating) relationship dynamics that we hear about are close friends or couples who feel emotionally wounded by each other on a regular basis. Though they love each other, and want to remain as friends, or keep their marriage intact, they keep hurting each other through verbal abuse, physical rejection, taking each other for granted, betraying emotional trust, or bringing up the most vulnerable topics from their partner’s past. This is a such a common phenomenon that it became the focus of the famous 1944 song by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher, "You Always Hurt the One You Love", with this bizarre last line: "So if I broke your heart last night, it's because I love you most of all." Huh? That’s clearly not love.

Why do we do this? We hurt the one we love for several reasons:

1) Unconscious re-creation of emotional trauma - we all experience various degrees of emotional hurt and trauma growing up. Unfortunately, we form part of our identities around whatever we experience, be it love, distance, drama, or verbal or physical abuse. As adults, we may feel most alive or most like ourselves when we are feeling the same way we did as children, and so we may do things unconsciously to get our partner to trigger those feelings. For example, a person who grew up with a lot of distance may feel uncomfortable with closeness, and may sabotage it by picking fights or avoiding intimacy. Or a person who grew up in a chaotic, dramatic home may be uncomfortable with harmony and quiet and always seem to trigger chaos or drama in their relationships.

2) Trying to find a person who will give us the love we never got as children - If we can’t get the love from our original parent or caretaker, the next best thing is to get the love from someone who has a very similar personality to the person we originally feel wounded by. We’ll generally feel a lot of attraction, chemistry and intensity in our love with such adult partners, due to the interlocking nature of our emotional baggage. But what we may not realize, is that after the initial infatuation wears off and we are in a deeper, committed relationship, their fears (and ours) often get activated. The result of these activated fears is that we get wounded again. Only now it’s worse, because the very person who we hoped could give us the love we never got, is hurting us. Not because they ‘love us most of all’, but because they are unaware of their own unconscious defenses.

3) We lack the knowledge and skills of how to communicate our feelings constructively - many people may realize how they hurt their partners. Others realize what they are doing but simply not know how to change or how to communicate what they are feeling in a constructive manner. Our culture does very little to teach us how to relate to our own feelings, and how to communicate those feelings to others in a safe, healthy way. Men especially may feel uncomfortable dealing with feelings of fear or vulnerability and may feel safer expressing anger or control when they are really scared.

So what can we do to stop hurting the ones we love? We have to take responsibility for getting clear and resolving our own emotional hurts from the past. We need to learn how to make it safe for those around us to express how they feel. We need to learn how to create a loving presence where we genuinely listen and seek to understand the experiences of others. We need to learn how to express feelings in ways that bring us closer, not in ways that create more distance and hurt. We may need to do some work to understand how and why we trigger each other to lash out in hurtful and destructive ways. We need to respect the fact that in an healthy close relationship, we have access to the most private and vulnerable aspects of each other’s lives. We need to treat that as a sacred privilege that we relate to with the utmost respect, not as an entitlement to trample upon for our own ego gratification.

Adapted from an article produced by the Relationship Institute in Royal Oak, Michigan. The original article can be found at:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Waiting on the Lord

A sermon based on James 5:1-8 and developed by Terry W. Dorsett.

Verse 1 - Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you.

• In order to understand this entire passage of scripture we must remember that throughout the book of James the word “rich” refers to people who are filled with pride and are determined to do their own thing instead of following Christ.
• Likewise, being “poor” refers to people who have humbled themselves before God and are doing their best to follow Him.
• James seeks to get the attention of the “rich” people by saying “Come now.”
• “Come now” was an appeal for them to admit the obvious, which was that though they may think they are on top of the world right now, eventually they would have to answer for their pride and their refusal to follow Christ.
• James begs the “rich” to realize their coming misery and “weep and wail.”
• In ancient times people often expressed great emotion through weeping and wailing at funerals or when some tragedy happened.
• We North Americans tend to be a bit more reserved in our emotional expression, but we have our own ways of grieving over tragedy.
• What makes this particular situation so sad is that the coming tragedy could be avoided if those who considered themselves “rich” would simply turn from their sin and begin to follow God.
• Though we will never have a completely pain-free life, when we follow Christ as closely as possible, there is much less misery.

Verse 2 - Your wealth is ruined: your clothes are moth-eaten.

• James changes his tense from future to present.
• Though the “rich” people have not yet felt the full consequences of ignoring God, the certainty of that future is so sure that James uses the present tense to indicate that their “wealth” is already ruined.
• Wealth does not refer just to finances, but to the whole attitude that people do not need God to solve their problems.
• That type of attitude will always lead to ruin.

Verse 3 - your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days!

• It is important to note that silver and gold do not actually corrode like other metals.
• But James is speaking figuratively here.
• James is pointing out that even the things that we think are so valuable and important mean very little in the eternal scope of the universe.
• When we focus on accumulating earthly valuables, the very things we value have a way of becoming tarnished in our mind.
• Those very things can eat away at us until they destroy the joy of our lives.
• For some people, they realize only when it is too late that they stored up the wrong treasures.
• The way to change where we are storing up treasure is to change our focus in life.
• We must get our eyes off ourselves and on to Christ.

Verse 6 - You have condemned—you have murdered—the righteous man; he does not resist you.

• Theologians have interpreted this verse two different ways throughout history.
• One view is that the righteous man refers generally to all people living God-focused lives.
• But a 6th century theologian named Oecumenius pointed out that there is really only one true righteous man, so this verse must be referring specifically to Christ.
• Theologians have argued for 1400 years about which view is correct.
• The application is the same either way.
• Those who live for self instead of for the Lord have trampled on Christ’s sacrifice.
• Since we have all done this from time to time, we are all guilty of condemning Christ to die.
• That makes us all guilty of murdering the only righteous man who ever lived.
• Though Christ clearly had the power to resist, He did not. He let us treat Him with contempt.
• Why would Christ do this?
• This is the very reason Christ came into the world, to pay for our sins through the sacrifice of Himself.
• Remember what Christ said on the cross: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
• In the past we may have sinned in ignorance, not realizing what it cost Christ to overcome our sin.
• Be thankful for God’s past mercy and grace!
• But now we know the truth, and knowing the truth makes us responsible for acting on that truth.
• Remember James 4:17 - The person who knows to do good, but does not do it, has sinned.
• Let’s not add to our sin by continuing to trample on Christ by focusing on ourselves.

Verse 7 - Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

• We must focus on following Christ faithfully, knowing that when we meet Him, He will set all things right.
• Though it may seem like some people are winning on this side of eternity, it is on the other side that we will find out who the real winners are.
• Farmers understand how they have to plow the ground, plant the seed, remove the weeds and wait for rain until the harvest finally comes.
• We must learn to wait on the Lord too.
• God’s timetable is not our timetable, but God’s timetable is always right.

Verse 8 - You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord's coming is near.

• Patience is one of the hardest things to learn in life.
• We must learn to wait on the Lord in patience.
• While waiting, we must strengthen our hearts through prayer, Bible study, fellowship with the saints and service to others.
• The Lord’s coming is near. He comes spiritually to show us when the time is right to fulfill the dreams He has put in our hearts.
• One day He will come physically to gather His saints to be with Him in heaven forever.
• We must be faithful as we wait on the Lord to come both spiritually and physically.


• People who are “rich” in arrogance and self-focus will eventually find out how empty their lives have been.
• Since we have all had that attitude from time to time, we are all guilty of the death of Christ.
• Now that God has revealed the truth to us, we should live Christ-focused lives faithfully waiting for the Lord’s will to be worked out both in our current lives and in eternity.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Being Authentic Without Being Rude

The other day I posted a blog about how Christians sometimes use “nice” words to say harsh things. I want to follow up on that concept by addressing the importance of authenticity, but being mature enough not to say everything that pops into our heads.

Because of technology, our culture is inundated with information. We can tweet, Facebook, instant message and blog our opinions about anything to anything with the touch of a button. In an instant the whole world can know what we think about any particular subject, event or person.

Though there are some positive things about having access to all this information, there are also negatives. One of the problems is that much of this information that circulates so rapidly is just not true. Politicians spin stories in order keep their poll numbers up. Celebrities hire press agents to project personas that do not really exist. Teenagers get mad at a boyfriend/girlfriend and start a rumor about them that goes viral in an afternoon. Once this twisted information is out there, it is hard to take back or correct.

We are surrounded by half truths and falsehoods. It is hard to know who to believe. The prevalence of incorrect information has caused many people in our nation to value transparency. We are tired of all the “fake” stuff. We just want people to look us in the eye and be honest with us, even if we do not agree with what they are saying. We want genuine authenticity from our leaders and from those around us with whom we interact with on a regular basis.

Though all age groups are looking for authenticity, it is especially important to young people. Many of them feel like they have been lied to their entire lives. They have grown weary of having to wonder if what they are hearing is true.

This new desire for honesty is leading some young people to cross the line between genuine transparency and just plain rudeness. Dr. Jean Twenge holds a Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Michigan. She has done extensive research on Americans between the ages of 7 and 36. From that research she has written a scholarly book entitled, GENERATION ME: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled, and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Dr. Twenge, who is herself a young adult, is quite candid when describing her generation. She says "because we no longer believe that there is one right way of doing things, most of us were never taught the rules of etiquette." Because many young adults were never taught proper etiquette, they are driven by their desire for authenticity and transparency to say rude things. They say rude things in stores to complete strangers. When they say rude things, they may not even realize just how rude what they are saying is. Even Christians can fall into this trap, which is why I addressed this subject in a previous post.

But this new level of rudeness has made our culture increasingly raw. It keeps tension levels between individuals higher than what is healthy. It makes explosions of anger and public temper tantrums more common. While our society may accept public temper tantrums from preschoolers in a grocery store because their parents will not buy them a candy bar, do we really want it from 35 year olds in the office, or the fitness center, or the church?

I believe it is time for us to grow up emotionally. If no one taught us proper etiquette, then we need to teach it to ourselves. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul write in First Corinthians 13:11 (HCSB) “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.” Paul was simply saying that as we mature emotionally, we should be able to have transparent relationships without acting like children. It is possible to be authentic and still leave certain words or comments unsaid. Our culture must come to grips with this. Our culture needs Christians to lead the way in this area. Are we willing?

For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus