We Are Being Lied To

What a post title, right? It is sort of like click-bait, isn’t it? Sorry about that. The truth is, the title is a reflection of my strong aggravation with how much we (all of us) are lied to each and every day. What makes matters worse, I believe many of us fail to realize this and fall for many of the lies unwittingly.

So what do I mean by “we are being lied to”? I think the best way for me to delve into this concern is to explain why it matters. Why should we care to realize that we are being lied to? I will sprinkle in some examples along the way of how we are lied to constantly and explain them as best I can. So here we go…

It matters that we are being lied to because when we do not realize it, we readily accept those lies as if they were true. Please notice that what gives the lies power, is not the mere fact that we are being lied to but that many times we are blind to it. When we are blind to it, we act on those lies, which is NOT GOOD! We begin living a lie, unknowingly. So my reasoning for this post might be summarized by stating that we need to be cognizant of this issue and learn to look out for it in our every day lives. Awareness is the key here. Without awareness, we are doomed to be manipulated and controlled by whoever or whatever attempts to mislead us.

Ads and News Media Lie to Us

Let’s take an easy example here: advertisements. What is the goal of an advertisement? It is to show me a product or service and convince me that I need to buy it. Now, there can be honest sales people out there that stick to factual information about what they have for sale and encourage consumers to decide if they really need it. However, there are many marketing entities that do not care if you need it or not. Their goal is to get you to buy it no matter what. When that is their agenda, they will stretch the truth and even outright lie if necessary. How do we know the difference between an honest marketing attempt and a manipulative salesperson? We can’t always be sure, but the big thing to remember here is that behind every advertisement is a person or entity that wants to (and often needs to) make money. We need to remind ourselves that it’s not an altruistic situation in which they purely want to do what is best for us. Awareness of this truth will help keep us focused on asking ourselves the right questions before making a decision to “buy what they are selling”.

Unfortunately, news media falls into the category of “sales” at this point in time. Each media outlet has a need to get you to listen to them, click on their links, and come back for more. Again, some are more honest than others, but they ALL have an agenda that is not purely for our (the consumers) benefit. We must remind ourselves of that and ask ourselves good questions when presented with something from someone in an advertisement or media. Do I really need what they are offering? Does this sound too good to be true? Does this sound to bad to be true (news media love to sell really bad news)? What are others saying about this information that is being presented here? How is this product or service going to benefit me? Am I being given information to sift through and make decisions for myself, or am I being led in a certain direction by someone? What does the source of this product or service stand to benefit if I partake of what they are presenting?

People Lie to Us

I could go on and on with that one example, but let’s look at another: people. Most of us interact with people every day. Some of it is in person, some over the phone, some via text, some on social media, and a host of other ways. Some of these people love us dearly. Some are just casual acquaintances. Some are coworkers and business associates. Some are just people we don’t know at all and pass on the street. But here’s the thing, THEY ALL LIE. Their words, their tone, their facial expression. Those are just a few ways for us to receive and believe something that is not true. It’s not all intentional, but it doesn’t have to be a lie on purpose to do damage. Some of the most sinister, penetrating lies come from those who don’t even know they are projecting a lie!

A lie from someone can be from direct verbal or written communication or it can be a simple facial expression. Have you ever had someone look at you a certain way and then you think something like “Oh no, my boss looks angry. I’m sure she’s mad at me. It must be because I messed that project up. Why do I always mess stuff up! I am so stupid!” The truth is likely that you are NOT stupid, but may have made a mistake. However, the look on that person’s face caused that lie to surface and take ahold in your mind. Make your own example out of this. Insert the look on your spouse’s face, or your child’s face, or someone else you are close to. Insert an email from someone that you cannot be sure of their tone, but find yourself assuming it is a negative one. These are all examples of how a lie can creep in and affect us. When we accept a lie as the truth, we respond emotionally and behaviorally in unhealthy ways. It starts with thoughts in our heads, usually negative towards ourselves. We can find ourselves in a downwards spiral of self-deprecation if we are not careful.

Don’t Get Angry, Just Get Awareness

I want to stress again the importance of awareness. We all have our own perspective, and we need to be open to being wrong. Maybe we are assuming a certain tone or message from someone that is not at all what they intended. Maybe we are right, and they DID intend it, but maybe they are just wrong. We need to know the truth and hold onto that, but we cannot even look for it if we don’t have a filter. If we fail to filter input from the world, we allow anything and everything to get in and affect us. Even with a filter, some bad will get through, but less of it. And as time passes, we can upgrade our filters with each experience to better keep out the bad lies and allow the good, truthful stuff to get in.

It’s a simple suggestion to start with, but not an easy one to carry out. It takes time and effort to develop the skill of being aware of the bombardment of falsehoods that surround us. There is no shortage of things that can communicate a lie, often easier than the truth. However, as we practice the skill (even though we do it imperfectly), we make progress towards noticing things that vie for our attention, discerning the message we are receiving from them, and deciding what is actually true.

Holy Doubt, Batman!

If you don’t get the joke/reference in the post title, don’t worry. I’m just showing my age and love for an old TV show that I watched as a young boy. But it does go with what I want to share today.

Doubt is something that has often gotten a bad reputation. I remember experiencing this when I heard it being slammed pretty hard when I would listen to preachers and other teachers in religious gatherings. You just weren’t supposed to doubt what you were being told about God, the Bible, or the doctrine of the church you were in. “Just accept what is being said and move on!” That was the message that often hinted at a warning that if you did doubt, something bad would happen.

This negative image of doubt is, of course, not restricted to religious settings. Questioning certain people, rules, or systems is too often discouraged and even demonized by some. People who are hesitant to go with the flow are viewed as hinderances or worse.

I know the dark side of doubting because I am one who always has. I have a natural tendency to question things. People can get really aggravated when you don’t respond the way they want you to. When there is an agenda to push forward, a doubter can be a hurdle that has to be cleared. It’s not uncommon for a doubter to be removed from a situation in order for those involved to get what they want. This is a tragedy, as doubt is essential to growth, avoiding bad choices, and many other positive outcomes.

I will admit, doubting has sometimes gotten me into trouble. At this point, I want to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy doubt. Unhealthy doubt is the one that is troublesome. Unhealthy doubt can lead one to buck something or someone just for the sake of bucking, just to be hard to get along with. For someone like me, with rebellious inclinations, using doubt in a healthy way is something that needs to be learned in order to avoid unhealthy doubt. Healthy doubt, or Holy doubt as I really want to call it to go along with my post title, is a doubt that can be helpful for everyone involved. Holy doubt is not merely rebellious. It is much more than that.

There’s a story about a man named Jesus who was approached by a doubter (John 20:24-29, from whatever translation you like to read). His name was Thomas. Thomas was having a hard time believing that the other disciples had seen Jesus. That’s when Jesus stepped in and scolded Thomas for doubting, pounded on the Bible while pointing at him, and punished him with leprosy. Wait, no, that’s not what happened. Actually, Jesus responded to Thomas’ doubt with what he needed in order to embrace the truth.

What if Thomas had chosen not to voice his doubt? Although we cannot know for sure, I suspect it would have turned out differently. Thomas needed to voice it in order to progress to the embracing a very important truth. This is the case for us all. It is downright dangerous to ignore or stuff our doubt deep inside. It is a lie that doubt will hurt us or cause us to somehow shun the truth that we need. The opposite is true. Holy doubt leads us to the truth. Actually, as was the case in the story of Jesus and Thomas, the truth might walk right up and say, “Here I am!”

If we want to grow. If we want to mature and embrace truth. If we want our perspective in life to move more and more towards a clear view of what’s important and what is not. If we want to expel wrong thinking and lies that we believe about crucial things like who we are, how we view others, and God, then we must embrace doubt. Doubt will help us, if we will let it, evolve in our thinking, how we treat ourselves and others, and how we view and interact with God. Without doubt, we remain frozen in our current state of thinking and feeling. We are doomed to an ever-growing stale view of everything and everyone. Without healthy doubt, if we are wrong about something, we will stay wrong. To be refreshed, to be truly free, to find out where we are wrong and figure out what is right, doubt must be embraced as something holy, not evil.





Back At It

After quite a long break from writing anything at all, I have decided to put forth an effort to do so again. This desire has reemerged after a period of pain, struggle, healing, and maybe even some growth. More about that in a later post, MAYBE.

But back to writing and why I am bothering to do this. I honestly don’t know if anyone is left on the subscription list from the old website. I could check, but do not plan to. I have no plan to market or spread the word that I’ve started this up again. At one point, Melissa and I had many avid readers that we enjoyed hearing from. We sincerely appreciated all of those people. However, I realize after a long absence of any posts, there may be few, if any, who will read this.

So why do it? It’s purely an exercise of acting on a desire. I love writing. I am certainly not the best at it, but I do love it. But more than that, I love thinking about things, talking about those things, and sharing life experiences. I have found that I don’t really care to do it in order to teach a lesson or engage in some other self-marketing campaign. When I have approached things in that way, I have been gravely disappointed not only in the result, but in myself. It’s just not me.

What I enjoy more than writing is talking. I’m not referring to idle chit chat. I have only a limited amount of energy for that. Although I do love having fun and laughing, I want some serious interaction in order to hold my attention. I’m referring to conversations of depth: real dialogue about real life experiences.

And that’s what I will do here, but by means of writing. I won’t hold myself to any rules about content other than I will do my best to write authentically and deeply about real life experiences.




25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

(Luke 10:25-28, ESV)

Depending on your perspective, passages from the Bible such as this can be daunting. Really? No pressure Jesus. Just “love God and others with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind”? No problem! Yeah, right.

When we take passages such this seriously and literally, many of us feel inadequate. If we interpret these words as instructions for life, or “rules for us to follow”, then the fear of inevitable failure make sense. We sense that we will fail miserably at mustering up what it takes to accomplish such a feat.

However, what if loving God and others isn’t so much about striving to do more, do better, and produce something we don’t have enough of? What if it is more about surrendering, trusting, experiencing, receiving, and resting in something we already have?

I have struggled with anxiety for much of my adult life. Sure, I’m in a much better place now than I was 20 years ago, but it’s still something the rears its ugly head from time to time. Recently, while in the midst of a panic attack, I was lying in the bed staring at the ceiling struggling to catch my breath. I was taking short, quick breaths while my anxiety continued to escalate. I struggled to gain control over the fear that was dominating my mind and body. My wife’s voice began to come into focus. I could hear her counting, which I realized was a cue for me to breathe more slowly, to the count that she was providing for me. Breathe in slowly, five seconds, hold, five seconds, breathe out slowly, five seconds. Repeat again and again. Reluctantly, I gave into her voice. I began to trust what she was asking me to do. I chose to receive her invitation to let go and breathe. I began to surrender my efforts to control my situation. After several minutes, I began to rest in the freedom of taking deep, life giving breathes that restored me to a state of calm. At that point, I was doing something that my body and mind wanted all along. It was something natural for me, but I had been thrown into an unnatural, unhealthy state of anxious short breaths that only caused more suffering as the anxiety roared like a snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger and bigger.

I have a growing suspicion that loving God and others is much like this. If we strive hard to love, believing it is something we must work really hard to produce, then we will suffer great hardship and fail miserably. However, if we engage the risk that we just might already have the love inside of us that we need, we might be able to relax, be loved, and love others in the way that we were created to all along. This does not mean there is no effort involved. While lying in the bed panicking, there was indeed quite a bit of effort put forth when I surrendered to my wife’s voice. However, it was not the kind of effort it takes to climb a wall. It was more like the effort it takes to jump out of a plane with a parachute. The first kind of effort is all on me. I must rely on my efforts alone. The second kind of effort requires trust. It requires me to let a parachute and gravity do what they do. Will the parachute do what it promises to do? Will it provide me with all the protection and ability to descend safely that I need? On the way down, I must continue to surrender and allow it to do what it has promised to do. If I fight and decide to do things on my own, it will only make the drop scarier and more uncomfortable (and possibly more dangerous).

Interesting note: I learned years ago that the Holy Spirit is referred to as “Paraclete” in Greek. Parachute….Paraclete. To me, that’s an interesting and cool way to think of the Spirit as we jump into things in our lives that promote fear.

Deep breathing and loving others have quite a bit in common. Both are more difficult in times of stress and hardship. Neither of them requires us to muster up something we don’t have already. Both are something we already have in us to do. Both require trust and surrender. When experienced, both provide freedom and a much happier and healthier experience of life in general.


Growing Awareness

Counseling others has been an interesting journey. It has been difficult at times, but well worth it as I have had the opportunity to meet and walk through life with many awesome people over the last thirteen years.

I have often pondered what I thought might be the most important things I’ve noticed happening in people’s lives when they are able to overcome those certain hurdles they have been struggling with. One of those pivotal actions is something I’ve noticed in my own life as coinciding with a host of positive outcomes, including personal growth/maturity, emotional healing, relational health, and the resolution of other life issues.


It sounds so commonsensical. Of course, if we are not aware of something that is causing us hardship, how could we possibly address it and overcome it? If we deny a bad habit as being our choice and responsibility to address, we will be stuck with it. If we altogether ignore the fact that we can be a jerk to our loved ones at times due to unresolved anger issues, then we will continue subjecting them to our hurtful behaviors. Only when we seek and accept awareness of our own personal choices, behaviors, and feelings can we hope to see ourselves change.

Although this simple word makes sense to me as vitally important in my life and the lives of others, it is not something we always actively engage in. Making personal awareness a priority is hard, and there are many “easy ways out” that tempt us to avoid it. The following is just a short list of things I’ve found to be helpful in the process of engaging awareness in a way that leads us to freedom to be who we were created to be, instead of living with blinders on that keep causing us to hurt ourselves and others as we continually bump into things in the dark.

We need to acknowledge our true feelings. This one can be tricky. A good example is people like me who like to hide behind anger when we are actually hurt. As long as I hold onto the anger, I don’t have to look at or acknowledge the true feeling that I’m struggling with. While the anger may be real, it is not the source of my pain. Healing will not be possible until I acknowledge I have been hurt.

We need to take notice what we are doing (and not doing). Our behaviors can tell us a lot about ourselves if we will pay attention to them. Several years ago when our home was broken into, I went on a months-long mission to secure our house. To say I went overboard in security measures is an understatement. Was this wrong? No, not really. My efforts did make my wife and I safer. But did it show something about me? Absolutely. I had been violated, and I was scared of it happening again. Without noticing my behaviors I could not become aware of the fear behind them. Without knowing fear was in the driver’s seat of my decision-making, it could have controlled me. Potentially it could have led me down an anxiety-ridden path of no end.

We need to examine our thoughts. Our thoughts are perhaps ultimately the most important thing to be aware of. Behind every behavior and feeling is a thought. We do not act or feel anything without some thought in our head causing us to do so. However, when we are unaware of our thoughts it seems as though what we do and feel are just random and uncontrollable events. While neither are truly random, it IS mostly impossible to control our actions and feelings without addressing our thinking patterns. Over the course of my own life, when I thought of myself as stupid or incompetent, I behaved in ways I thought might prove myself. Other times, I responded by giving up on trying. While vastly different behaviors, both were sourced from the same thoughts in my head. As for feelings, fear was prevalent as I suspected I did not have what it took to accomplish the tasks in front of me at the time. If not for learning the importance of capturing and becoming aware of my thoughts, I would still be enslaved to these types of behaviors and feelings with no hope of escape.

We need to be honest with ourselves. When it comes to our own thoughts, behaviors, and feelings, it is often easier to deny the truth and/or blame others. Again, the process of awareness is not easy. It is hard to look at the truth and accept it. However, it pays off BIG TIME when we do. Freedom is found no other way.

We need to listen to others who care about us. This one is super important to remember if we want to get the most out of our fight for awareness. Life is really hard at times, and this makes it very difficult for us to see ourselves clearly. Many times, we need a mirror in order to see what it is we are looking for. This “mirror” will often be in the form of others who love us. They can see things we cannot see. They can hug us, encourage us, and point out things about ourselves that have become hidden from our view for whatever reason. These interactions can be difficult. We will inevitably be tempted to deny, blame, or get angry. We must remind ourselves of our great need for the awareness that is often the first big step towards healing, joy, and freedom. Those outcomes are far greater than the comfort of avoiding the hard work of self-awareness.


When I Am Weak, I Am Strong

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, ESV)

Have you ever disliked something about yourself so much that you wanted to change it? Perhaps you prayed for God to change or even remove it from your life. It might have been an ailment, a habit, a difficult relationship, a regretted decision, or a perceived weakness. There have been many times in my life that I have wished I had made different choices. I often have wished Continue reading “When I Am Weak, I Am Strong”

Roller Coasters of Life

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, ESV)

Several years ago, my wife (Melissa) and I took our son (Michael) and a friend of his to an amusement park. I do not remember their exact age, but they were probably around ten. We were all smiles until we decided to board one of the roller coasters. The three of us had ridden rides like that before, but Michael’s friend had not. He immediately showed signs of concern. After some discussion, he agreed to give it a try. Continue reading “Roller Coasters of Life”

Opposites Attract

My wife and I have quite a bit in common. We both enjoy good food. We don’t care much for cold weather and would rather every day be a beach day. We like to kick back and watch one of our favorite TV shows or a movie. We are both introverts. We love people, but we need time to ourselves to recharge. We tend to be task-oriented. We are often pretty content with accomplishing our to-do lists. Continue reading “Opposites Attract”

Anxiety and the Current Pandemic

Recently, our good friend Michael Ramsey invited Neil to sit down and discuss “Anxiety and the Current Pandemic”. We decided to share the video of their discussion here. You can click on the play button below or follow the link right below it. Also, please take time to check out Michael’s content on his website: michaelramsey.org Continue reading “Anxiety and the Current Pandemic”