Telling The Truth ~ character matters

A crossed-fingers

I Seem To Have A Verse For 2020

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Christians have this thing about lying…we’re not supposed to.

What was so interesting in this verse that so randomly kept popping up in my life since January is that the first two points (what is true, honorable) deal with the deepest realms of dealing with and telling truth.

I discovered that when the thought came to me that I should look up the word “true” in Strong’s Concordance. [No, not Strong’s. Anything but Strong’s.] So, after that thought assailed me for the third or fourth time, maybe even the fifth time, I finally dragged out my heavy, hardcover Strong’s, leafed through its cumbersome pages, and found the ancient meaning of “true” as it appears in that verse. And, the meaning is ‘truth without deceit, without concealing or hiding’.

I immediately thought of the times I’d parsed my words (not often) so that I could say to myself and to others if need be, “I didn’t lie”. Oh, those little white lies. I’d like to say I usually did this parsing to shield others. But of course, that would not be truth without deceit or without concealing or hiding. That statement would not only be a fantasy, but the reality would be a 50/50 toss up.

Returning to the Scripture, I searched Strong’s for honorable. I most often use the New American Standard Bible [NASB] and Strong’s translates from the King James Version [KJV]. The King James translates the ancient Greek word as ‘honest’. So next I went to Webster’s Dictionary. I used the 1828 edition because our modern dictionaries water-down ‘values ladened words’. And according to Noah Webster, ‘honest’ means: 1. Upright; just; fair in dealing with others; free from trickishness and fraud; acting and having the disposition to act at all times according to justice or correct moral principles; applied to persons. 2. Fair; just; equitable; free from fraud; as an honest transaction; an honest transfer of property. The definition goes on to include ‘frank’ and ‘sincere’.

So, when put on the spot about something in my own life, or someone else’s how do I cease and desist the parsing of words? Dare I say, Biblical dishonesty? First of all, other people do not, repeat NOT have a God given, or constitutional right to the details of my life. And I have NO right to give out the details of another’s life. We believers will feel much better about ourselves, on a deep internal level, if we simply tell the truth.

If someone carelessly, callously, or nosily asks about a personal part of my life, about my private plans, hopes or dreams I can simply say, “I’m not prepared at this time to talk about that.” I can also say that if asked about another’s life. When asked about another, I could say, “That’s his/her story. It’s not mine to tell.” Those statements would be totally true, honorable, honest, and meet.

Here’s a tricky one. What to do when someone asks for an unreasonable favor? Money, perhaps? There’s no need to go round-and round, parsing words to come out with a reasonable sounding negative statement. Here’s a straight forward one. “No, I wish I could, but I just can’t. Not at this time.” I could add, “I’m really sorry,” if I am. If the individual is a habitual user, I’d leave the’ sorry part’ off. That would also be totally true, honorable, honest, and meet. It’s not parsing words, or beating around the bush. Am I good at this? No! Am I getting better? Yes, I am.

Doesn’t the Bible say…

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. ~ Matthew 5:37 New King James Version [NKJV]

Good Thoughts – Good Memories ~ in 2020

2020 photo

What Are You Thinking On?

My mother had severe juvenile diabetes (type 1) in a time when the disease was a death sentence and insulin was a very new medical treatment. She grew up in the Ukrainian immigrant community where, at that time, there was tremendous fear of injections. My grandparents bravely decided that she should have insulin and she lived. Not only did she live, she married my father, had two children, and had a life. However, she was an exceedingly negative person all of her life. As a child, I didn’t understand her struggle, and I found her constant negativity painful. Despite my mother’s untreated chronic depression, she was a decent and ethical person who tried really hard to live her life and have a family. I understand that now, as an adult and how I think of her has changed a great deal. I now see her in a much more positive light without denying her faults.

My father was pragmatic, unemotional, bookish, and often withdrawn. But he could be very funny and for me that was some relief from the darkness of talking about every thing that was wrong or was about to go wrong.

I took after my dad in a lot of ways. I found refuge in books, and I’d make a joke out of whatever was upsetting and dysfunctional. That was when I was around other people. In private, I was more like my mom, focused excessively on the painful and the negative.

It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I first heard teaching on renewing of the mind and the importance of focusing on the lovely and the good. And by that time, I had  focused on the unlovely, the broken, and the sad so much, that I hardly had any good memories from my childhood, and even from my adult life. They’d all been overshadowed and buried by my rehashing of all the dark and negative moments.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I married a man whose family was even more dysfunctional than mine…if that is even possible. My own immediate family and my extended family had PhDs in negativity. (See, I am still able to make a joke out of the gruesome.)

Well, one day there was great turmoil in my husband’s family. A lot of yelling in the kitchen and people running in and out of the house. So, I went into the living room and started surfing channels on the TV just to block the chaos out. It was a Sunday and I clicked onto this petite blonde lady standing behind a podium. Gloria Copeland. I thought she was preaching, but she is much more a teacher than a preacher. She was no-nonsense positive. Positive that God is a good God, is a healing God, is a loving God. She was intelligent, logical, and didn’t have big hair. That sealed it for me, and by the end of the program, I put my hands on the TV and got saved.

I am aware of true ‘Christian’ positive-thinking that first manifested itself in the 1950s, and that is good. But what I’m talking about is deeper.  It is a real and abiding belief that the power of the Word as written in the Bible is transformative and healing. It is the belief in the supernatural power of God’s living Word. I have to point out here that God’s Word in the Bible is not magical, not hokus-pokus, nor abracadabra. It is the belief that if the living Word gets deep-down within the heart and soul of the believer, it will start to heal those hidden, broken places.

Note: God’s Word in the Holy Bible has structure, context, and order. The Word of God can’t be ripped out of the Bible and thrown around as a quick affirmation for selfish purposes. Any phrase we wish to speak over our situation has to be understood in terms of what came before and after it in the chapter (and even in other chapters and in other books of the Bible). The Bible is a cohesive whole, pointing to and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior.

That said, if you want to get rid of darkness and negativity in your life…if you want to start making some good memories, a good place to start is the Philippians 4 Scripture noted above. Take it apart and on purpose (even if you have to force yourself) start to focus on what is:

  • True
  • Honorable
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Of Good Repute
  • Having or Striving for Excellence
  • Worthy of Praise

 

The Spirit Believes ~ the flesh doubts

Cel Sisterhood Bracelet

The Great Commission

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. ~ Matthew 28: 16-17, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

These are Scriptures I’ve read many times, over the course of the years I’ve been saved, probably heard it preached from the pulpit or on Christian television shows well over a hundred times.

Last night I attended a Sisterhood Workshop at my church, Celebration Church in Julington Creek, FL. The subject was “Unwavering Resolve: Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” I even got a sisterhood bracelet, pictured above.

We were given a worksheet. So, this morning I sat down with my spiritual notebook and my Bible and looked up the first Scripture they’d given on that worksheet which was Matthew 28: 18-29.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [NASB]

As I usually do, I went up a couple of verses to Matthew 28:16-17 and started reading and something hit me…doubtful. These were the eleven disciples after the resurrection. They’s spent three years with Jesus,  knew He had in fact died on the cross, had been prepared for burial, was sealed in a tomb, and as reported by Mary Magdalene, three days later He was risen.

Here they were seeing the risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, and yet some doubted. When preachers I’d heard over the years got to that verse, they often preached it in a scoffing or judgemental tone. That some of these disciples were at this point somehow spiritually less than or deficient.

Then it hit me with such power…the question…What had changed? How did all these men later become on fire for the Lord? And it came to me, on the Day of Pentecost they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

We need the Holy Spirit to live a life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to believe. The flesh doubts, the flesh is weak, the flesh is afraid of seeming foolish, the flesh has fear of man, the flesh wants to take control and run the show according to desire or investment in mental ability. There is no use and it makes no sense to castigate ourselves when our flesh doubts. What else would it do???

When that happens, if we want the life of joy and peace and blessing that Jesus offers, we must seek the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us to a better space for ourselves. That place is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The more we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, the less we will doubt, the less we will fear, the less we will harshly judge and condemn ourselves. The more we will be free, unbound, joyful, and content in our blessings. The more we will live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Bring Your Bible To School Day ~ October 4th

Bible, Child 1

 

Christian children all over America will be bringing their bibles to school on Thursday, October 4th. They and their families will be participating in celebrating religious freedom in the USA with this simple act.

Christian children who read and delight in their Bibles, enjoy sharing this very important part of their lives with their schoolmates. On October 4th, these children can let their spiritual lights shine. It’s awesome that American Christian children live in a country where they have the First Amendment religious freedom to bring their Bibles to school. Bring Your Bible To School Day is a visual celebration of this freedom to talk about God’s amazing love for us.

Bible, child

 

 

 

Talking With Jesus ~ a two way communication

Lion and baby
The Lion of Judah

Talking with Jesus requires an intimate relationship with Him. Most Christians have a first-hand knowledge of this. Obviously Joy Behar and Omarosa do not.

Most Christians, at least to some extent, function in a spiritual arena whereby we talk to God and hear back from Him. That’s billions of us worldwide.

Over the years God had taken me on a journey to greater intimacy with Him. I have grown spiritually to a point where I hear His voice more clearly. As I speak with fellow Christians, they tell me of a similar walk. This is an exciting way to live. I love watching what God is doing in my life. I can’t wait to see what He will do next.

I can’t give any formula for hearing the voice of Jesus. But I would suggest simply asking Him, with sincerity, to speak to you. Another suggestion would be to read the Bible, especially the words in red. A red-letter Bible puts what Jesus has said in red ink. If you read what He’s said, when He speaks to you, you’ll more readily know if it’s Him. He will not speak in a way that is against the Bible. For example, Jesus will never tell you to steal. That is against the instruction of the Bible and Jesus will never speak to a believer in a way that is against what the Bible teaches.

Who is it who actually speaks to us when Jesus speaks? That’s an interesting question and so is the answer. Right now Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right-hand of the Father. Jesus is our High Priest in heaven and He’s making intercession for us. So, if Jesus is doing that, who is speaking to us?

It’s the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus in the earth today. Jesus was a man (and also deity) but in His physical body He could only be in one place at one time. The Spirit of God, the Counselor is a spirit and can be everywhere at once. Jesus told us in John 16 that it is to our advantage that He goes away for the Comforter will then come to us. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) is the teacher of the church. He is the one who speaks to us with an inner witness, with a whisper in our hearts, or by bringing intense peace in a difficult and painful situation. There are times, perhaps in a dangerous situation, where the “voice” is so loud it’s almost as if it’s audible. Many Christians have sworn it might’ve been audible. “Stop” “Don’t move.” “Don’t get on that plane or train or boat.”

It’s happened that I’ve had several unrelated individuals come up to me separately saying almost the exact same words about a distressing situation in my life. I believe this came about through the power of the Holy Spirit. If I experience extreme peace, then I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit speaking through those people. I’ve had situations I’ve not shared with anyone, and then, out of the blue, some person(s) randomly gave me the answer(s). The Holy Spirit. These things not only make me feel better, they solve problems in my life. Some might say this is coincidence. Well, I love these coincidences I keep having. Please, keep bringing them on Holy Spirit.

Called To Prayer ~ being a good student, I turned it into study.

Bible, prayerjpg

The Lord has been nudging me for quite a while to pray. It started about three years ago with making a Blessing Jar every January into which I would deposit written prayers during the entire year. The call has become more intense and I’ve been going to my church’s intercessory prayer group.

I felt I was supposed to get a notebook and study the different forms of prayer, which I did. I became very industrious in this endeavor. I looked in the Bible for the first record of prayer…the ‘man calling out to God’ type of prayer.

I found that in Genesis 4:26 [NASB] ~ To Seth, to him also a son was born and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Background: Seth is a later son of Adam and Eve, thought to be their third son. In Genesis 4:25 [NASB], Eve said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” That led me to wonder if Seth, himself, might have been an answer to Eve’s deepest heart’s desire.

So, the earliest record of a human prayer that could fall under worship, supplication, intercessory prayer, petition is in Genesis 4:26 when men began calling out the name of the Lord.

Seeing this led me to want to review in the earlier chapters of Genesis how they called the name of God. Adam talks to God, while Eve talks about God. All this effort in study was not a bad thing, not at all. Still, the Holy Spirit arrested me and I felt Him asking me, “What do you call God?”

I put my Bible down and began to meditate that.

My Church Is Having a ‘Onward’ ~ 2017 New Year 21-Day Fast

21-day-fast

This is a corporate fast with prayer. New Life Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville does this every year 21-days before Superbowl. We break the fast at sundown Superbowl Sunday. And I’m sure everyone has a great time feasting (translate = pigging out) on that Sunday evening.

The focus of this corporate fast isn’t only on cutting out things we could be overindulging in. The emphasis is on fasting and prayer. The pastor gave us a small fasting study guide along biblical lines. For example there is the Daniel Fast which is designed to eliminate meat, sweets, and bread. Water, juice, fruits and veggies are consumed. [Daniel 1: 11-13]

My best friend at church told me she was going to eliminate beef and pork for the 21-days. Anyone who is struggling with something such as quitting smoking might find this a supportive time to stop.

Ushers not only passed out a printed guide with the biblical types of fasts, we were also given a printed “Week One Devotional” with a memory verse, a prayer, suggested scripture for further study, and a place for us to write notes. Of course, week two and week three devotionals will be handed out as we progress through this fast.

We were also given a list of topics to pray and/or meditate upon during the fast.

1. Revival in America

2. Complete Personal Freedom

3. Blessing Over Troubles

4. Wisdom From Above

5. Victory Over Our Enemy

During this 21-day period the church will be open at different specified times, so people can gather and pray together while fasting. There is great spiritual benefit for a church body to enter into this type of fasting and prayer. This is a tremendous opportunity for individual church members to spiritually grow and for the church to spiritually grow as a whole.

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