Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

What’s with people not being able to tell the truth? It has become so bad in our society that an individual could be caught red-handed, plainly guilty, still in the act of the crime and yet before anyone blinks an eye, the excuses start flying trying to convince all onlookers that no wrongdoing had ever occurred.

If blame was a game, it could be an Olympic sport in our culture. I’m afraid that we aren’t teaching our children well, as it’s a rare thing to see anyone step up, come clean and simply apologize. Sometimes, you have to be willing to shut up, swallow your pride and accept that you are wrong.

It is not called giving up, it is called growing up. 

Unfortunately, statistics prove that lying has become an accepted way of life. Americans tend to lie at the drop of a hat.

In the book, “The Day America Told the Truth,” it says that 91% of those surveyed fib rather routinely about matters they consider trivial, and 36% fudge on matters they would define as important. Families are in turmoil because 86% of teenagers recite fables regularly to their parents, and even 75% of adults keep the truth from their friends.

Maybe one of the biggest reasons that two out of three marriages end in divorce is because 68% of couples distort the details when they speak to each other. These numbers don’t speak well of the present generation. How many only cough up the facts after they have been caught, and not because they are truly sorry for their bad behavior?

Writing letters of recommendation can be hazardous to your pocketbook. If you tell the truth, you might get sued if the contents are negative.

Robert Thornton, a professor at Lehigh University, has a collection of "virtually litigation-proof" phrases called the “Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations,” or LIAR for short.

Here are some examples:

To describe an inept person, Thornton wrote, "I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever."

To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers, Thornton got creative by saying, "I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine." To describe an unproductive candidate, Thornton replied, "I can assure you that no person would be better for the job."

Finally, to describe an applicant not worth consideration, Thornton typed, “I would urge you to not waste any time in talking to this candidate about any offer of employment."

This is what happens when everybody makes the team and all participants get a trophy, and authorities are tongue-tied when it comes to telling it like it is. How can anybody improve in their field of interest unless constructive criticism is allowed to be part of the conversation?

I will never forget being involved in an ordination exam for a young man who was being interviewed and tested by his peers about entering the ministry. He was terrible.

He may have been the nicest kid in the world, but it was clear that he did not have the call nor the gifting to shepherd a flock. When push came to shove, nobody dared to let this gentleman down. They passed him and his track record as a minister would prove to be a blunder.

Churches were penalized by the clergy who didn’t do their job when it mattered most. In my 37 years of full-time ministry, I have seen too many individuals who should have been serving God full time, and others who probably should have chosen a different vocation.

Telling the truth shouldn’t be hard to do. Will we become a people who champion that character trait again? I hope so.

In the Bible, there is the story of James, the half-brother of Jesus. When Jesus was actively traveling around fulfilling the mission His Father had sent him to do, James and other members of Joseph and Mary’s family wanted to get Jesus off the streets because of how He was embarrassing everyone. James thought Jesus had lost His mind.

James wanted no part of what Jesus was doing and tried to bring an end to the charade. Thankfully, the family could not get in the way of our Heavenly Father’s will. Jesus would continue to live and eventually die the death that He did for the sins of the world.

When Jesus rose from the dead, it rocked James’ world. He saw Jesus before, and James saw Jesus die and return to life.

James didn’t rationalize his foolishness about his Brother. Because of James' willingness to admit that he was wrong about Jesus, we have his New Testament letter and James received eternal life.

Repentance has gotten a bad reputation. Pictures of hell, fire and brimstone, preachers screaming at a congregation to “turn or burn,” couldn’t be more inaccurate.

Repentance means to change your mind in such fashion, that it causes a radical turnaround in your behavior. It is doing a 180 with your body, mind, and soul. What I used to be, I’m not and where I used to be going, I turned around and went in the opposite direction.

Still, repentance doesn’t happen unless someone admits wrongdoing.  There are no short cuts, mudslinging, or running and hiding.

When we come clean, God has access to redeem death into real life. "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

A store manager overhears his clerk tell a customer, "No, ma'am, we haven't had any for a while, and it doesn't look as if we'll be getting any soon." Horrified, the manager came running over to the customer and said, "Of course we'll have some soon. We placed an order last week."

The manager drew the clerk aside. "Never," he snarled, "Never, never, never say we're out of anything. Say we've got it on order and it's coming. Now, what was it she wanted?"  "Rain," said the clerk.

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.