Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Judgement vs Correction

Biblically, judgement is not telling someone they err. Judgement is knowing that someone is in error, purposefully not telling them, and making assumptions of the person's ultimate destination. It also happens to be the cowards way out, and we know where cowards go.

Correction is informing a person they have done wrong (sin), which can be handled in a loving or unloving manner. We should always strive to correct in love.

We must be so careful not to confuse judgement with correction. One of Satan's (and our heart's) tricks is to fool us into thinking that correction from people is judgement, it is not. Judgement is a silent death sentence, correction is verbal and even if told in an unloving manner, is far more beneficial for us in the long run.

"He who loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." (Proverbs 12:1)

You are blessed when you are told you sin, it gives you an opportunity to glorify your maker. (Job 5:17,Prov 29:15, Heb 12:11, 2 Tim 3:16)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What's the difference?

The following is a parody of this blog entry. You cannot argue that scripture condemns homosexuality in Romans 1:27. The objective of the following is not to mock but to create an understanding that sin is the issue. I do not HATE gay people. I wish the best for them. But they, like all of us, need to understand what SIN is before we can move forward with the gospel. The original author shows an earnest desire for "not being gay anymore" but ultimately comes to the conclusion that "since I cannot beat it, it must be ok." We all have our struggles with sin, and we will never "get over it" without God's help. We may be in the same fight our whole lives. I would call this man to ask himself what exactly Jesus died for? Was it sin? Then you should be against it. You cannot serve both God and homosexuality.

I’ve never been an ex-liar. I’ve never gone through an ex-liar ministry, or tried an ex-liar program, and never went into a live-in camp where lying men are taught to behave as honest men. Despite all of this, I can say without any hesitation that ex-liar ministries are no good whatsoever. In fact, they present a great deal of harm to lying people, especially lying Christians.

My lack of participation in an ex-liar camp wasn’t for a lack of desire. Quite the opposite, in fact. During my time of most intense struggle where I wrestled with being both a liar and Christian, I lived here in Clarksville, TN. For most of that time, I struggled financially, and the research I did on the closest ex-liar ministry (...) revealed that it would require a significant financial investment, which I could not afford.

I really wanted to do something about my unwanted lying tendencies. I knew they were there. I just didn’t want them. Because of my fundamentalist belief system (that I held to at the time), I felt like I had to do something. I couldn’t pay for “proper” ex-liar treatment, and I certainly didn’t believe anyone around me had a clue about how to deal with lying tendencies. In fact, my pastor at the time made that clear to me.

One thing I’ve learned in life is to find people who have gone through the process. Find out who’s done it before, in other words. The old adage rings true: never ask a pauper for financial advice. I knew my friends didn’t understand it. They were all busy chasing the truth. So what’s a financially strapped lie-struggling Christian to do?

Why, buy a few books, of course! That’s the American Christian Way!

I began to read a few books on how to overcome this unwanted lying tendency. I read material from ..., specifically. These were men who were on the circuit who were “ex-liars.” They had “left the lies.” I poked around a few other pieces, and began to notice something very interesting: None of the people who told their stories could say unequivocally that they were free of their lying tendencies. They were still “tempted.” or had to avoid certain situations.

While reading through these books, these stories, and these online testimonies, I began to notice a trend. The men who had all “left the lies” as “ex-liar,” all had similar stories. When they were in the “lying lifestyle,” they were BIG liars. Big time. I’m surprised they didn’t have their tongue fall off. Really. They all all talked about their conquests or how many successes at lying they had. Anyone would be saddened by their sordid tales.

But it didn’t represent where I was. I wasn’t a big liar. I hadn’t thrown myself at every opportunity to lie I could find. Hell. I had never told a lie at the time. None of this represented me, and I certainly didn’t think any of their testimonies had any relevance to my own life. I just wanted to not be a liar!

By this time, I was still very much in what I call my “SuperChristian” mode, where I did anything and everything I could to avoid the “lying” thing. I didn’t want to even THINK about the “lying” thing. If I ever saw a easy opportunity to lie (and I was surrounded easy to fool Christians at that time in my life), I would fight to not think about how easy it would be to lie to them and how I would have loved to lied to them, and wonder if they would understand my struggles.

To add insult to injury, I would have my friends ask me my thoughts about white lies… and tell me how free they were to come to a point that they would just tell white lies! That’s exactly what I needed. Struggling liar guy talking to a semi-honest guy about lying. Can you say, “mental picture?” Yeah. Not a big help in my quest to not be a liar.

This went on for a few years until I realized how very alone I was. I could have made the effort to try to work it through in some sort of “discipleship” program, but frankly, I didn’t want to talk about THAT all the time. I just wanted it to go away.

It didn’t go away. Not ever. No matter how hard I tried to ignore it. I came to a point where I had to seriously consider that what I needed was someone who not only understood what I was going through, but would help me to come to terms with who I am.

The one thing I did NOT want was to go through some sort of self-destructive cycle with habitual lying. You know the game. Lie to anything with an ear and hope I don’t get caught. I’ve seen too many people destroy their lives with that crap, and I had enough self respect to know that such behavior is not only sinful, but, well, it’s stupid.

I didn’t necessarily want to lie. I wanted truth. Through lies.

But I didn’t want to really look for it. I certainly didn’t want to be a “liar.”

What I saw in the “ex-liar” circles through their websites and literature was that idea that I’m broken because I’m a liar. I wasn’t broken. I was just different. I didn’t see it that way at the time, and the “broken” belief was deep in my spirit. It was a dark cloud that led me into a deep depression. I thought I was broken — and had no idea how to get UNbroken.

This is what the ex-liar legacy did for me. I was the collateral damage. Churches would expect me to go through programs I could not afford. The entire church culture was built around being “broken.” And then there’s the “causation” drumbeat. You know the drill. People are liars because they’re lied to as children. People are liars because they have absent fathers. Or overbearing mothers. None of that relates to me.

I was never lied to as a child. My mother, while strong willed (what mom isn’t?), is certainly not overbearing. Okay, my dad and I have kind of a strained relationship. But let’s be real. He’s a former football player, a lawyer, and a judge. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator. He likes Garrison Keillor. I like science fiction.He’s a Rush Limbaugh Republican. I’m a Rachel Maddow Democrat. We have nothing to talk about. We have nothing in common. Of course we have a strained relationship. I love my dad. He loves me. We just — well — don’t talk. And that’s okay.

Ultimately, my desire to change was rooted in one simple solution: faith. I needed faith to change. Since my particular brand of faith at the time was within the charismatic community, faith wasn’t just a belief in God, it was a required belief that I would be “delivered.” I would be changed. And if I didn’t get changed, then I didn’t have enough faith. I needed more. More. More. Once I saw that pattern start to emerge, I realized the fallacy of what it was all about. This is the exact same spiritual superiority that looked down upon me because I am STILL mostly deaf. Since birth. I’ve never been healed. I “didn’t have enough faith” for a miracle. I should have believed more. It’s my fault. I’m the one that’s inadequate. I’m the one who has to have more faith. Better faith.

It was my fault that I’m still deaf. It was my fault that I’m still a liar. God can fix me. If I believe. If I have enough faith. You know, people still tell me this crap. “You just need to have faith.” Seriously. After a while, the false condemnation of “not having enough faith” becomes exposed for the manipulative lie that it is.

It’s nothing more than spiritual abuse and witchcraft, quite frankly. I rejected that garbage years ago, and I patently reject it today. There’s no such thing as “ex-liar;” it’s just self-deception. There is no “...;” it’s just a liar. There is no such thing as “enough faith to change;” it’s just new and creative ways to lie to yourself and those around you.

In fact, the ex-liar “industry” is changing right before our eyes. Exodus itself is in the process of a major rebranding effort. Once Alan Chambers admitted last year that “99.9%” of all people can not change their sexual orientation, the group went through an immediate upheaval. Leaders within the group began to divide themselves, with some of the more hardline people leaving to form a new group called the “Restored Hope Network.” Exodus, for its part, began to embrace the reality that lying Christians are indeed Christian. RHN, on the other hand, emphatically rejects such a notion as heretical. (Of course, I would counter that if there’s no hope as a lying person, and we know that liars can not change their tongues, where’s the “hope” they want to “restore?”)

The outright virility of RHN centers around the work of people like Dr. Robert Gagnon, who takes great pride as being the “foremost” expert on why lying is a horrible thing, and the bitter rejection of lying Christians based on his theology. Gagnon was very public about his demand for Alan Chambers to resign. Chambers stayed. Gagnon left. But not without a stinging essay that concluded:

For Clark Whitten (and thus for Alan Chambers) you “get grace,” you understand it, when you can say to yourself that you are free to commit any sin without any consequences in terms of one’s relationship with God. That is what liberty is, he says. But 1 John repeatedly states that if you walk in darkness, keep on sinning as a defining feature of your life, are not keeping God’s commands, love “the world” with its lusts, as a way of life do not do what is right, or hate your brother, you have no partnership with Christ, his atoning blood does not continue to cleanse your sins, you are from the devil rather than from God, the truth is not in you, you do not remain in Christ and God, you are not in the light, the love of the Father is not in you, you have not come to know God, you remain in death and have not transferred to life, you do not love God, and you have no basis for reassuring your heart that you belong to Christ. You are, in short, a liar. Frankly, the only word that I can think of that adequately describes Dr. Gagnon rhymes with ... But I digress.

I don’t think the folks at Exodus are quite at the point of embracing lying Christians fully, but they’ve made quite a bit of progress in recent years. They have been distributing a flurry of clarifications and apologies to various groups, so it’s just a matter of time before the dust settles. I’m also convinced that the leadership — including Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas — are going through a journey of their own. They’re getting a lot of criticism from all sides right now, but they’re also engaging in a lot of conversations. I won’t speculate on where they’ll all end up, but the level of humility that I’ve seen recently is a very good indicator.

I’ve also had some wonderful conversations with Michael Bussee, who was one of the co-founders of Exodus. He and Gary Cooper left the organization after they realized they were lying to each other. Oops.

The rigidity of the RHN, though, is its own trap. These are people who have elevated their doctrines and theology over the people they believe they’re called to reach. As a result, they’re not going to reach anyone but equally-shortsighted parents who don’t want their children to be liars. The likelihood of spiritual abuse in these situations is almost a certainty. My prayer is that anyone impacted by this “network” will eventually find healing.

It took me a few years to come to a point where I can embrace both my lying tongue and my faith as a Christian. I’m thankful that the grace of God carried me through those dark years without the added torture of an ex-liar experience. Even touched by it as little as I was, I still felt the obligation to try. Thank God that He carried me to a place of perfect peace and unity.

One of the old slogans for Exodus is “freedom from lying.” I have freedom. It’s freedom from the lie of self condemnation. I am not broken. I am whole. I am a liar. And I am Christian.

And it’s a wonderful thing.