Honest to Goodness

We’re not always honest all the time to everyone. It would take so much longer to get even the most mundane tasks done if we were completely transparent and vulnerable to every person we encountered. The fact remains though that honesty is a bit of a lost relic in our world. It’s not that it’s not there, it’s just that it is often so mucked over with filters, with half-truths, and with hurriedness that we sometimes lose sight of the imperative nature of honesty.

I process things in my own way. So do you. I process things slowly. Maybe you’re a faster processor than I am. I bet you are. When presented with a question, or a truth, or new information my tendency is to take it in and shut the door. Have you ever walked up to the front door of a local business and its the middle of the work day but they’ve got one of those “Will Return” blue and white plastic clock signs hanging on the door? Yep, my brain is kind of like that when it receives new information.

When that information is processed, it’s integrated into what was already there. If it’s information that is more correct/true than what was there, it effectively replaces what was there. This is how our brains work. We learn, we grow, we change, we adapt, we become different thinkers every single day. Your brain is not the exact same organ it was even seconds ago when you started reading this blog post. It has changed itself based on all the input it has received.

This is why honesty is an absolute imperative. It is through honesty that we most effectively handle all this new information. This may seem like the simplest of statements, but I assure you it is not the case in all situations. The concept of truthfulness–perhaps because of the very idea of truth being perpetually on trial–is a slippery one at best. It’s one that many people might find unworthy of arguing over in what has been referred to as our “post-Christian” culture. (I should write sometime and make my case about how I don’t think the term “post-Christian” accurately describes the current state of America.)

I’ve found that honesty also unlocks every jail cell we can construct for ourselves. Honesty is a liberator waiting to be unleashed to its work. Not only that, but nothing else and no one else can do that work; nothing else is qualified or has the power that truth does. This is precisely why Jesus famously said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.(John 8:32)

A blog is no place to prescribe to you what this looks like for your day today. But I’d wager a bet that it does somehow connect very intimately with a situation you are currently in. So, may I offer you a set of questions to answer honestly?

  1. What does full honesty–no matter what–cost me?
  2. What are the predicted outcomes of being totally honest; both positive and negative?
  3. What is it that is my biggest obstacle to honesty right now? Is it fear? Is it past hurt? Is it insecurity?
  4. When and why did I construct the jail cell I feel my emotions are in because I haven’t been fully honest?

As a young person, I spent a season of my life lying almost exclusively. I wanted what I wanted and when I wanted it, no matter who got hurt. So I lied freely. I was numb to the devastation I was creating because I was blinded to see it, at least most of it. And what I did see was merely collateral damage worth the hurt because I was getting the things my selfish, sinful heart wanted.

My mom is an incredibly wise person. In the heyday of the deceptive lifestyle of my youth she likened dishonesty to digging. Each lie is a shovelful of sand. (I grew up at the beach, so this word picture was rich and poignant.) She showed me that each time I decided not to be honest, I was scooping a shovelful of sand, creating a deeper hole that I was living in. You may not know this, but many people have died on beaches in America simply by having fun digging holes in the sand. There’s a point at which the walls of the hole cannot support the weight of the surrounding sand and the hole collapses into itself, burying whatever or whoever is in the hole. My mom chose this imagery to teach me about lying and honesty.

So, what hole are you digging right now? I’m not encouraging us to honesty simply so that we feel better about ourselves or we can take some moral high ground. No, not at all. I want for you what I want for me: I want you to live in the freedom that honesty affords. My mom also taught me that the only way to live freely is to live honestly. Otherwise you have a much heavier load to bear. Each lie is another brick you must carry with you. This is because you have to keep track of lies, but not keep track of truth. You actively change details when you lie, but the details of truth aren’t like that. So on a very practical level, you don’t have to work nearly as hard to live an honest life as you do a dishonest life. Life is hard enough, why add to the load by being less than honest?

I suppose though that my main motivation in pushing us to full honesty is so that our hearts have nothing–absolutely nothing–between ourselves and God. The smallest grain of sand between my heart and the heart of God is still something. All spiritual progress and growth is interrupted and short-circuited by dishonesty. We cannot and will not grow in grace or draw close in worship while still holding dishonesty in our hearts. These two things cannot be reconciled. You are either dishonest and further from God than you need to be by your own choosing, or you are fully honest and are continually growing in grace and intimacy with God. This seems overly simplistic, but this is the truth.

If you don’t know where to start and if all this talk of honesty and holes and jail cells seems overwhelming to your mind and heart, then simply start with Jesus. He IS the Truth. (John 14:6) There is no truth apart from Him. Our relativistic and pluralist society would say that each of us have truths that are wildly different and yet somehow compatible. This is the height of nonsense. An atheist says there is no God. A theist says there is. Our culture says, “You’re both right.” The very nature of truth won’t allow this however. And the person of Jesus not merely embodies truth; He IS Truth. So if you don’t know where to go with these thoughts, start with Jesus. Approach Him. Ask Him. Embrace Him. Let He who IS Truth set you free from the crushing bondage of dishonesty.

My Theology

When you’re around someone who loves theology, you know it. It drips and seeps into every thought they have and every conversation you have with them. They’ll tell you about what scripture verse(s) constitute the truth they’re expressing, or what well-known (even if just to them) theologian of days-gone-by thought/wrote/said about that particular subject. It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at once.

Years ago, I recall a great theologian (and friend/former pastor of mine) named Jerome Hancock said something to this effect:

The word theology is the most absurd word there is. To think that we can ‘study God’ is at the height of human absurdity.”

You can cringe at that, or bristle against it, or you can choose to see his point–and rather easily. We’re studying the One who is so far beyond our comprehension that His great charity is to allow us to near Him, let alone know Him. We call it theology, the study of God (“theos” in the Greek) but what it actually is is our finite minds straining at embracing the incomprehensible reality of the infinite Divine.

The greatest theological minds in all of history have but sipped at the ladle of all their minds could grasp, while standing on the shoreline of the boundless ocean depths of all that God is and all there can be known of Him.

As I was driving from here to there today, I passed a church with a marquee out front that said:

“Theology is God’s Holy Spirit making it’s way through your brain.”

Hmm. Okay. That’s an interesting thought, I suppose. Still, no matter how you understand it, the word theology is an adequate description of what we’re endeavoring to do here. So I thought I’d share with you in rapid-fire fashion, my own personal theology. I’ll state the topic/issue/thing and then share the nutshell version of my belief on that. As you read, keep track of what you agree with, disagree with, and/or want to challenge. Use the comment section to share all that. You ready? Here we go…


Yes, I believe there is a God. I believe He is eternal, all powerful, all present, and all knowing. I believe He exists in 3 persons, yet is one God. I believe these three persons to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While the word “Trinity” is not found in scripture, the concept is clearly seen in scripture. From the creation story, through the Torah, through the prophets, most obviously at Jesus’ baptism, and even in the apocalyptic literature known as Revelation. I believe God is supremely holy, just, gracious, and patient–to name a very few of His attributes.

Life Purpose

I believe that my life’s purpose is to so completely embrace the grace God offers humanity through Jesus (more on Him in a minute) that my life is literally transformed from the inside out. A man by the name of D.T. Niles once said “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” and while I love the poetic nature of that and while I think it scratches the surface of what I have found in this gracious God, I believe it goes far beyond and deeper than that. I am so captivated by grace that–God helping me–it oozes out of every pore of every thought, word, conversation, and decision I have. My life’s purpose is summarized in Galatians 1:24: “And they praised God because of me.” I ask no wealth, no notoriety, no ego-based platform, no fame but to know that my life has in some way, somehow caused someone…ANYONE to praise God because of me.


I believe that Jesus is the one and only Son of God. Jesus is eternal by virtue of being God Himself. Jesus is the bodily manifestation of God who came to earth, created the BC/AD split, was born miraculously of a virgin named Mary, grew, served, taught, loved, listened, healed, and ultimately died on a Roman cross of crucifixion, fulfilling prophecies spoken hundreds of years before His birth. But I believe that because Jesus is God, the grave had no hope of holding Him and because of His resurrection, I have the full assurance of resurrection as well. I believe that Jesus will return for His bride, the Church, of which I am a part, along with all others who claim Him as Savior and love Him as Lord. I believe I will spend eternity in His presence because of His promises, not because of my performance.

The Bible

Ugh. The Bible. I have to admit to you that while I love this book with my whole heart, I am often both confounded by it and distracted from it. Still, I believe the bible to be the written revelation of God’s will for humanity. In it you’ll find testifying history, narrative, stories, instructions, eye-witness accounts, and blueprints on how to live a life that is fully God’s. Though this collection of 66 books may vex me at points, I cling to it as the beautiful, accurate, inerrant, revealed story of God’s redemption of humanity. I don’t believe it is all there is, because the bible itself says that it doesn’t hold all there is (John 21:25). But I do believe, as it says of itself in 2 Peter 1:3 and 2 Timothy 3:16, we have within it all we need to know salvation and holiness, as well as how we are to live in light of who God is, and by His power.

The World

By “world” I mean earth, its inhabitants, and also the culture that surrounds us. I believe the world we’re on is unraveling. I believe that we are living on a disintegrating dust ball. Yet I also believe we are called to care well for the physical earth and to be good stewards of the majesty God has handcrafted. In regards to the people of earth, I believe every one of them is fully deserving of dignity, love, family, community, support, and an opportunity to personally encounter the good news of salvation so each one can make their own choice about it. I believe that humans are the pinnacle of creation, even if you define creation as accidentally evolutionary. I believe our (American) culture is potentially beautifully but tragically corrupt. We are naturally self-centered and that has caused nearly every discord and ill we as a culture live in each day. I am not fatalistic, however. I believe in the power of love to turn any person, regardless of their past into a person that reflects the character of God, our Creator.


Yes, I believe in a literal hell. I believe it is the full absence of God’s presence. There is more to know about it than this, but other than that I believe that it is reserved for the unrepentant who repeatedly reject God.

What other areas of “theology” should be included here? What are the big pieces of YOUR theology? I welcome any comments/thoughts/respectful disagreements below.