Sunday, June 26, 2011

Speaking the Truth

Have you ever had to speak the truth to someone in love? You know what I'm talking about, the manner in which we are directed to live and to speak to others by God in the New Testament, "15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:15-16)

This verse is beautiful, part of a chapter in the Bible that give us explicit directions on how to walk as Christians, and also provides a vivid illustration of what it would look like for us if we chose to follow these directions and truly connect as one body under the head, Jesus Christ. Let's look at what comes before the "instead" that starts in verse 15, because otherwise, it can be difficult (at least for me) to fully grasp what these directions mean (italics added):

" 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

We are told that Christ gave us the equipment to be built up until we all reach unity and become mature.  Until we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Those are some strong, strong words.  By no means do I consider myself a teacher when it comes to God's Word or how to interpret or understand it.  But I do try to meditate on His Word, and find the meaningful throughout the verses.  And today, I am thinking about what it means to speak the truth in love . . .  what it takes to do so, how difficult or easy it can be, how we feel about it and the repercussions (as we are still part human even as we are spirits), etc.

I will tell you in utter honesty, that I've had more opportunities to practice speaking the truth in love to several people in my own life in the past couple of years than I think I ever had, collectively, in my entire life before those years.  While I am the first to say I have often made grave mistakes in relationships and in how I've spoken or acted or reacted, I want to also say, there have been times I am thankful that I've chosen to speak the truth in love.  But I would not be speaking truth to you, friends, if I told you that speaking the truth in love is a walk in the park or a piece of cake.  In fact, it takes almost a painful amount of effort and focus, because at least in my experience, the times when I had the opportunity to do so were the times when I was already facing frustration with another person.  When I was angry or hurt or just plain upset and everything in me was screaming to lash out, to retaliate, or at the very least, to defend myself verbally.  I confess, I am not always soft and kind in my responses. I do think I've matured some in the past several years, thank God.  But in reflection, I see that regardless of the sweat beading on my proverbial forehead when I strive to speak the truth in love, all the pain I feel in choosing the right way is nothing compared to the regret and self-condemnation I feel when I choose the wrong way, instead.  Does this make sense?

I had to make a choice again, today.  And yes, it was difficult.  Yes, speaking the truth but speaking it in love is not as easy as just bluntly speaking the "obvious."  However, I will tell you something; when I chose today to speak the truth in love toward others, there was a peace that settled over me like a cloud.  I truly believe it's the peace that passes understanding, the peace Jesus gave us when we chose Him and His way of doing things, " And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7)  I struggled with myself and my natural, carnal desire to see the wrongs made right, to see what I would consider justice be carried out, to have my way and my say.  And it's entirely possible there was still too much of "me" in my response.  Yet I know that, overall, I chose to speak the truth and I spoke it in love.  And I felt the peace of God come over me and wrap me up in His arms, like a loving father would a scared, uncertain and feeble child.   There is no comparison, friends.  Nothing can compare to walking in God's love and being upheld and surrounded by His Peace.

Here's praying and hoping that you find the strength in God to choose to speak the truth in love; that you find for yourself what a reward of peace and contentment choosing to obey Him in this one, seemingly small area can bring!  Have a lovely Sunday! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Hunger Games!

I give this book 5 stars!

Oh my! I almost consumed this book! It says on my Goodreads that I started reading on June 18 and finished June 22, but truth be known, there was one day in there I didn't read in the book at all and yet I read the entire novel in less than the time it took me over 3 days! Yes, it was that good! I typically would sit and read over 70-100 pages in one sitting. I loved it! And it was unlike any book I'd read, up to that point. I so, so, SO want to read the 2nd and 3rd books! I'm going to have to hunt them down immediately now . . . .

I would recommend this book not only to Young Adults (as it's listed as YA Fiction actually), but to adults. If you think you aren't a "fantasy" fan and so that's what's keeping you from reading this, don't let it! I don't always like fantasy myself, but this, this book is different in a good way! The story line is great, the emotions are raw and true, it's just outstanding!

Thanks to Heather @ for recommending this book to me! Yet another thing you've gotten me attached to, Heather, after coffee drinks and Nutella and Twilight! LOL ;-) 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Don't Settle for a Life of Cheese and Crackers!

My most recent book review -- please read as this is something I'd love for more Christians to be aware of!

"Every day I encounter Christians . . . They live without the blessing and provision available to them as born-again children of God on the journey of life.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as a wonderful gift--a gift better than having Jesus Himself with us . . .The Holy Spirit came with all the other amazing blessings of salvation.  But some believers never receive and unwrap the gift. Instead, they live lives of cheese and crackers Christianity.  They muddle through this world powerless and deprived of the richness of God's presence . . . " (ppg. 194-195, "The God I Never Knew")

In his book, "The God I Never Knew: How Real Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life,"  Robert Morris offers candid, heartfelt examples from his own life and from the lives of others as he tells us that there is often something missing in the lives and hearts of Christians around the world: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is an often misunderstood and understated person of the Trinity, and in this book Morris helps dispel many common myths and incorrect assumptions regarding Who this person is, What He can and will do in the lives of those who welcome Him, When His role in Christianity came to the forefront, and Where He is supposed to reside when a person is born again and after they are born again.  Morris backs all of his writing with scriptural truth to prove this book is biblically sound.  He illustrates there are in reality three baptisms, not just two as is commonly believed (this is also backed up and shown in scripture).  He heavily emphasizes that the Holy Spirit is to be our Friend . . . and as Morris begins to unravel the tapestry of ill conceived beliefs about the Holy Spirit, he weaves another displaying the beauty and wonder of choosing to make the Holy Spirit a very real, very active best Friend in your life, as well as Comforter, Guide, and more!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever had any questions about the Holy Spirit.  It is an amazingly straightforward book, easy to digest even as it is profound and full of truths.  Morris makes it easy to see how much every Christian should desire more of the Holy Spirit to enable them to be all the stronger, even while he is far from condemning anyone who has ever experienced doubt, discouragement, incredulity, or resistance.  This is a must-read!

Please Note: I received an advance reading copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers for the purpose of review.   All opinions and reviews expressed above are honest and entirely my own. 

This Guy's Too Cute to Pass Up!

No, I'm not referring to Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom  . . . .  ;-)

Look at the puppy from Daily Puppy at the bottom of my blog and the bottom of this post, and you will see the most adorable, charming, fluffy, huggable and loveable puppy ever, right?  Well, that puppy is practically an identical twin to the one I had years ago, Rascal.  Rascal was a sweet dog but also very strong willed (I have NO idea where he got that from?!? haha), very intelligent, and very mischievous!  He looked so much like this puppy, a beautiful Australian Shepherd.  I enjoyed having Rascal as my dog for 7 years, I wish it had been twice as long.  He was the best dog I've ever had, up till now, when I have my two Australian Cattle Dogs, Aussie and Dakota!  They take second and third place after Rascal.  Just had to share!  This puppy is too cute!  He makes me miss my Rascal!  Isn't he just scrumptious?!?  Happy puppy picture! heehee