Posts tagged ‘Truth’

The Ugly Side of My Spiritual Gift

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory?

Very often they can be a helpful tool in pinpointing exactly how God has specifically designed you for His purposes.

Moses being inspired about a new blog post?

On many spiritual gift inventories, I’ve scored high on the gift of “prophecy.” That doesn’t specifically mean that I have the urge to go around preaching damnation to every hooker on the corners of all busy inner-city streets! But it certainly means that I’m drawn to “the truth” of God’s Word and want to share that “truth” in many ways with others—hence, my blogging takes on a whole new meaning.

But along with every “gift” or “talent” that God gives us, there’s this other-side of that same coin, that can be negative, even hurtful.

And the negative, hurtful side of being a truth-teller is an inability to have compassion or extend grace.

I’m not saying that I can’t have both in my life at the same time, but it is often a difficult balance for me to strike. I have to really lean into God, asking for His grace, when I am feeling a conviction rising up within me (especially when that conviction involves perceptions about other’s wrong-doing!).

God has been showing me this area of weakness for a lot of years. And although I think I’ve softened somewhat over the years, I still tend to err to the side of cold, hard truth. There isn’t anything that can get my blood boiling more than when a lie is being believed/propagated or when an injustice is being committed.

But when it comes to having compassion for those who make those same mistakes, I often fall short.

One way that I’m trying to work on this weakness in my life is by biting my tongue. I’ve realized that I’m not the only person in the world who can recognize God’s truth. I’ve realized that God often uses my love and compassion to influence others toward change more than my harsh words of challenge. I’ve realized that God is a lot more active than I give Him credit for. It’s not just up to me to set the wayward straight. The Holy Spirit’s got that gig down already.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I should never confront someone.

But I think I tend to feel that God cannot reveal a sin to someone without my help!

How arrogant is that?!

Which leads me to my next way of dealing with this weakness—I release the person/situation through prayer to God. I pray that God would convict, provide, direct, whatever for that person and trust God to do just that.

If I’m still in doubt about whether I should say something, I pray that God would strongly urge me to take a specific step perhaps of confronting. But then I always need to “speak the truth in love.” It’s a delicate balance that I hope to have figured out by the time I’m 90 or so!

So, what spiritual gift has God given you that sometimes trips you up?

And, how do you positively deal with that hurtful side when it emerges?

Today’s post is linked to Faith Barista and answers the question – What has God been saying to me in my time alone with Him?


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Fill ‘er up!

Meditation is a cultural buzz word these days. I hear it everywhere from Dr. Oz to Julia Roberts. It seems as if this word is thrown around like a Frisbee to anyone who wants to play! And I know that I’m stepping into controversial waters with some, but I just have to say . . .

I don’t believe that Christian meditation and eastern meditation (or perhaps more appropriately, “popular meditation”) are the same thing.

Eastern mediation involves emptying your mind. Your only focus—if any—should be on your breathing. The goal is to reach the state of No Mind,” which is praised in Zen literature.

In contrast, Christian meditation is about filling your mind with God’s truth, His Word and listening for His still small voice. Instead of pursuing “No Mind,” it is taking on the Mind of Christ.”

First of All

I think many are being duped into thinking that one is as good as the other. In my opinion, there is no comparison. One may bring calmness, but the other brings truth and life. I also believe that although eastern meditation may bring a sense of calmness, it’s a dangerous practice that leaves you open and vulnerable to spiritual influences. Remember, you are to . . .

“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.”  Proverbs 4:23 (CEV)

And

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:11 (NLT)

Second of All

Even though “meditation” has become popular in our culture, for Christians, it is an often neglected yet important spiritual practice. Just as our gas tanks run empty, so do our spiritual tanks. We need to “fill ‘er up” so to speak and here are some ways to do so with meditation . . .

Ways to Meditate

  1. Memorize a Bible verse and meditate on it when you’re facing a stressful, tempting or painful moment.
  2. Pray a Bible verse, using your name or personal pronouns where appropriate.
  3. Read over a special verse, stopping and focusing on the first word to really absorb its meaning. Then reread the verse focusing on the second word this time. Repeat until each word has been given special focus. Consider if the verse has taken on a new meaning to you.
  4. Envision a Bible passage, such as the 23rd Psalm. Imagine a scene with Christ, as your Shepherd, leading you beside still waters, etc. What does it feel like? Look like? Smell like?

These are just a sampling of ways. It certainly is not an exhaustive list.

Do you have some ways that you meditate on God and His Word? If so, share your ideas with us!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”Romans 12:2 (NLT)

We’re Only as Sick as Our Secrets

Have you ever tried to hide the fact that you have a cold?

It’s kind of hard to do, but I’ve done it before.

Recently I had a cold on the day that my husband and I were going to go on a date. In spite of my wayward nose, I decided that I felt good enough to go to the movies with him. But several times throughout the movie, I felt the need to blow my nose. I guess I could have excused my way to the end of the aisle each time to blow my nose in the privacy of the bathroom, but I chose not to disrupt the movie goers who were next to me.

Yeah, right!

Instead, I treated them to the sounds of a never-ending snot fest as I blasted my way to the end of my mucus. Minutes later, I felt the urge to once again indulge my neighbors in the symphony of a head cold—giving special attention to my horn section!

Hiding my cold was futile … and that’s the way secrets are too.

We think that we can keep them hidden and they will, in turn, keep us safe. But secrets have a way of showing on the outside to anyone who draws near.

Secrets infect. Secrets ooze. Secrets held within, work their way out like disturbing drainage. They are not silent prisoners that we can contain. They are like the continual vexation of post-nasal drip. Ugh!

Have I made the metaphor run on and on too long?

Let me just say, I used to try to hide my secrets. I finally realized that my secrets were making me sick. I began to be open and vulnerable with the people I trusted the most. It took time, but eventually I began to feel better.

The Bible says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you.” James 5:16a (NCV)

Oh, and never, ever forget –

“…The truth will set you free!”

Reality Shows

“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” Proverbs 27:19 (NLT)

I read this verse this morning. It’s a verse that is packed with so much truth, and we often don’t even realize it or stop to ponder it. Instead, we nod our heads and move on to hunt for other more profound sounding truths or simply settle for interesting tidbits that distract us in our day.

As a counselor, I’ve seen this truth displayed in front of me time and again. And when it does, it screams at me loudly, although no one else may hear it. A client will come to me thinking that they can pull the wool over my eyes, their spouse’s eyes, or any one else who might be near and dear to them.

However, most people can sense it. It might be that you feel that something just isn’t right about what the person says or how he/she acts, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. I deal with people like that so much that I think my senses are heightened to it.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because I can spot this kind of “hiding” doesn’t mean that I am free of it in my life or the delusion that it creates. It’s just that I’ve done a lot of hard work, soul searching, confessing and surrendering to get to the point of realizing I need to be real about who I am. And, yes, I still want to hide my bad side every now and then. In fact, since I’ve launched my new blog, messymarriage, I feel that desire to run and hide more than ever.

But I know that redemption and freedom come from being authentic about my humanness, my brokenness. So I press forward toward the goal.

If there’s one thing that I hope you get from this post, it’s this: Don’t think you can fool anyone because, as the title of the book I still hope to complete says, reality shows. And, and by the way, hiding doesn’t work either. You may think that no one can see beyond your mask. But if you relate to anyone for very long, they will see through the mask to who you really are.

They may be confused by it.

They may feel rejected by you, and not know why.

All or most of your relationships may have conflict, disharmony or distance because of it.

But until you decide to be real with yourself, with others and with God, you won’t live the life that God so desperately wants to live through you. You won’t be able to find healing and hope.

My prayer for you is that you would trust God enough to be real about who you are!

Are you up for the challenge?

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Discouraged? Read This . . .

Sometimes people go through such tough times that I think the best way I can encourage them is to share some Bible verses that have meant a lot to me. For those who are struggling–I hope these help you to remember God’s faithfulness and love for you.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” –2 Corinthians 1:8b-9 (NIV)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” –Philippians 4:4-8 (NIV)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?  When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.” –Psalm 27:1-3 (NIV)

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8 (NIV)

“But He (God) 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” –2 Cor. 12:9 (NIV)

“In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.” –Psalm 86:7 (NIV)

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” –1 Cor. 10:13 (MsgB)

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” –James 1:2 (NLT)

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. [18] So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Cor. 4:17-18 (NIV)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. [2] We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up.” –Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)

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The Truth of Our Problem

Are you friends or enemies with the truth in your life? Very often when we face trials or long-standing problems, we become enemies of the truth.  We feel that to know the truth is to know pain.

But when we make truth our enemy, we invite denial into our lives—which only makes our situation worse and more painful. And in order to find our way through our problem . . .

We need to make the truth our friend, not our enemy.

You may not know if you’re friends or your enemies with the truth, but if you continue to feel worse over time, you’re probably buddying up with a lie or two.

So I’ve compiled a list of ways that people make truth their enemy. Check to see if you are doing any that are on the list.

Ways you make truth your enemy:

  • Stuff your feelings
  • Avoid admitting your fault
  • Look to false escapes from your pain—drinking, shopping, television, internet, etc.
  • Isolate from true accountability
  • Avoid reading the Bible or praying
  • Reject God’s promises
  • Focus on your problem rather than on your Problem-Solver (God)

If you are doing some of the list above, then consider making an effort to put into practice the following list:

Ways to make truth your friend:

  • Become aware of your feelings at any given moment, but especially when you are hurting.
  • Confess your feelings and thoughts to God moment by moment.
  • Ask God to speak to you about your feelings and your problem; then listen.
  • Read and meditate on what the Bible has to say about your feelings/situation.
  • Find a trusted friend to talk to about your feelings on a regular basis.
  • Practice telling those who are involved how you feel (when you can say it in a respectful way).
  • Quit playing God and surrender your problem to Him.

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Marriage Mistake #7 – Refused to Admit My Fault

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I really had a hard time seeing my wrong behavior as . . . wrong. Or maybe it was just that I couldn’t bear to admit to myself that I was weak. I’d say, probably a little bit of both.

Unfortunately, that meant that I rarely, if ever, admitted my fault to my husband. After all, it seemed to me that every conflict or problem we had was all his fault anyway! And even if it wasn’t, I usually felt like he handled the conflict so much worse that it canceled out any wrong doing I had done.

Yuck! Grandiose thinking at its best!

As time marched on, the fact that I believed I was so much better than my husband actually began to make my marriage worse (surprise, surprise)! So at some point, I was forced to wake up to the unfamiliar reality that it couldn’t always be my husband’s fault. Talk about a bitter pill to swallow!

A funny thing happened when I cracked open that door. When I offered my husband an honest and humble admission, I felt him moving toward me. I saw that he accepted my brokenness and failure. He embraced the parts of me that I felt were ugly and should remain hidden.

This miracle transformed my perspective and my way of relating, which in turn, with time, transformed my marriage. I’m not afraid any longer to be completely open and vulnerable with my husband. Admitting my faults has given me the intimacy and acceptance with my husband that I always longed for, but felt could never truly be mine.

So I’m here to tell you, intimacy and acceptance is possible when you humble yourself and reveal who you really are.

If you’ve never really made this your practice—if you have remained in hiding—I challenge you to come out into the open today. Then come back here and tell me how it went!

“If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy.” Prov. 28:13 (NCV)

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