Walk in Love: Speaking Truth in Love

I like order. I like rules. I like to stick to the rules and I like it when others follow the rules too.  I have a tendency to be a “line drawer”.  I grew up with three sisters. I am the oldest, and naturally the bossy one. As a military family we moved around…ALOT!  Most of the time I was blessed (and thankful) to have my own room. It worked best given my tendency to like things in order, neat, clean, and everything in its place. It was not a desire my sisters all shared with the same conviction. At one of our duty stations, my sister Patty and I had to share a room. She was not as concerned about the order of the room. One day, in extreme frustration with the mess, I was going to teach her a lesson (for her own good, of course). This wrong needed to be righted! I drew the line!

Continue reading “Walk in Love: Speaking Truth in Love”

Christmas is…Day 15

“But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” —Matthew 1:20-21

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” —John 1:14

“For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.” —Titus 2:11-14

“In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” —Ephesians 1:13-14

The grace of God appeared in human flesh with salvation for all people.

The Spirit of God resides in each one of us who is a follower of Christ.

We have been given everything we need for life and godliness in Jesus. (2 Peter 1:3)

Walk in the reality of those truths today! 

Rejoicing in Him!

Copyright ©2017, Susan Cady, susancady.com

Get Real! Expectations

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Do you have dreams, desires, and expectations that have yet to be fulfilled? Are there disappointed longings in your life?  Is there a specific request you have been waiting patiently for God to answer?  Is there something you are groaning and yearning for?  Do you feel like a plane in a holding pattern…circling…waiting to land?  Have your unfulfilled expectations and waiting bred the dreaded 3 D’s?  Discontentment, Disappointment, and Discouragement.

 All too often, our faith tragically fails to flourish because instead of learning to be content regardless of our circumstances, we endlessly strive to rearrange and manipulate the details in our lives, in order to bring about a “temporary joy”― one that never lasts and never fully satisfies. We’re not satisfied with contented dissatisfaction. —Cherie Hill

We’ve all had disappointments in life — circumstances and people have let us down.  I’ve certainly had my share.  There are things I have struggled with for years, circumstances and relationships that I’d hope would change or improve.  So what are we supposed to do with all these disappointed longings?  Are they normal?  Is there something wrong with us? Continue reading “Get Real! Expectations”

Get Real!

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Get Real! What exactly does that mean?

real: \ˈrē(-ə)l\

  • of or relating to fixed, permanent or immovable things
  • of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities
  • genuine, not artificial, no additives
  • to stop deceiving oneself or fooling around; face reality

Real — it has become a relative term in our world today and hard to know at times what is real and what is not. Things are constantly in a state of flux —from our weather, to our economic and political situation and even our everyday lives at times.  It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of whatever has blown into our lives at the moment.  It’s easy to lose perspective.  It’s easy to become discouraged and feel overwhelmed by all life is throwing at us.  And our tendency and habit is to put on our “happy face” masks and walk around feeling isolated and alone, as if we are the only ones dealing with disappointment, discouragement and defeat.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. —Romans 1:25

So where do we go for answers and how do we find purpose, joy, contentment and peace in the midst of life’s craziness? Continue reading “Get Real!”

A Prickly Shield?

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I was reading through one of my favorite Psalms the other morning, when one verse in particular struck me.  I love when the Lord does that —when He takes the highlighter to my life  through His Word, especially when it’s a familiar and well-read passage!  This morning it was Psalm 91:4, “His faithfulness will be a protective shield.”

Faithfulness…stability, certainty, reliable and trustworthiness, truth.

 

There’s a big difference between His faithfulness and mine.  Mine is flawed and fickle —often mood and circumstance-dependent.

His faithfulness is certain, steadfast, trustworthy and eternal.

 

In this verse there are two words that make up this word picture of God being our shield.  One means to surround and encompass, which is exactly what God’s faithfulness does in my life.  He surrounds and protects me.

Yes, His faithfulness is my protective shield.

 

But one of the definitions for this word in the original language described it as meaning, prickliness, a prickly shield.

I thought, how odd, a prickly shield?  But as I pondered this longer, I realized there are times when I am just so worn out and weary or when life has just beat me down and I just can’t seem to rise above. I just need some refuge, rest and renewal.  He is my prickly shield!  I got the image in my mind of a porcupine whose quills pop out at the sign of danger or attack as his defensive shield.  As I find refuge under the shadow of His wings, as I find my refuge in His presence, He is my prickly shield.  He guards against anything that might be coming against me, while I — weary and worn — find rest and renewal in His presence.

Yes, His faithfulness is my prickly shield.

 

There is another word picture of God’s faithfulness as my shield.  A shield can also be something used in battle to protect and defend.  And God’s faithfulness is not only stable, reliable, certain and trustworthy, but it is also truth!  There are times when His faithfulness is my protective shield in the battles of life.  Often for me the battle is in my own mind, and this is when I need the shield of His truth.  His Word shield surrounds, protects and defends my thoughts with what is true instead of the lies assailing my thoughts.  The truth of God’s Word is not only my weapon to wield in battle, but also my powerful shield against the enemy.

Yes, His faithfulness is the truth of His Word, my powerful shield.

 

I can face my day knowing and walking out the truth that, His faithfulness will be my protective shield!

 

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What Are You Dwelling On?

Week 2 Beauty & Truth: What Are You Filling Your Mind With?

Beauty & Truth

Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Philippians 4:8 (The Voice)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 (HCSB)

Welcome back to the kitchen table!  This week we will examine what it means to “fill our minds”. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8 to fill our minds, think, or dwell on these things.  Regardless of the translation these are all same word in the original language. Take a look:

dwell on logizomaito take an inventory, to estimate, to reckon, calculate, count over, meditate on.  This word deals with reality.  This word refers to facts not suppositions.

 Dwell —The reality is, dwelling is part of what we do as women. Dwelling involves taking an inventory, reckoning and meditating.

What do your daily “dwelling sessions” look like?

Mine usually involves something like this: I turn it round & round, looking at all the angles of the “what ifs” and “if onlys” — rehearsing it, calculating and contemplating, until it consumes me! This kind of dwelling session enslaves us and manifests itself as worry, doubt, anxiety and insecurity.

Here is more of Lori’s story as she shares one of her “dwelling sessions”:

Around the time Blair was to be discharged from the hospital to a nursing care facility for rehab, I was invited to participate in a weekend retreat with a small group of friends from our church. My mind was in a constant swirl about the past, the present, and what the future might hold.  I would dwell on what life used to be like and I wanted to go back to what I considered to be “normal.” Then I would think about the difficulties of what I would need to deal with when I left the safety of the retreat.  And, of course, I obsessed about what our future might hold:  What would Blair be like?  What would I do if he only recovered by 50%?  How would this affect our relationship?  How would this affect our daughters?  Would we even be able to pay our bills?  What about our plans for the future?

During one of our evening sessions at the retreat, a young man who I knew pretty well had a poem he wanted to share with the group.  He said that God had inspired him to write this poem earlier in the week and felt that it was meant for someone in the group that was gathered there that evening. His poem was entitled, “Rest” and explained how much our Father wants us to lay aside our burdens and worries in order to experience the peace and love that come only from His presence. I’m sure there were others in the group that benefited from that poem, but I knew that it was meant for me.  It wasn’t just the words of that poem that changed my life, it was also the realization that God cared enough about me to inspire a poem and make sure I was there to hear those words. I believe that the true knowledge of God’s love and the acknowledgment of the truth of any situation is the key to “really living.”  In my life, I have seen that embracing love and truth can free us in the present and actually protect us in the future from the fear and anxiety that sometimes plagues us and at times can even immobilize us as women.” —Lori Fink

God’s desire is not for us to fixate on the circumstance or relationship that is troubling us until we are a meltdown mess. His desire is for us to evaluate and respond to those things that occupy our thoughts through the lens of truth.

As I would rehearse my troubles to a friend, she would always say, “But the reality is . . .” The reality is always where the truth lies.  And yes, sometimes the truth is not pretty or comfortable.  Sometimes the truth can be terrifying.  But the truth also contains the fact that God is good and He loves me, some days that is all that kept me going.  Oh yeah and taking every thought captive and examining it for truth. —Lori Fink

Truth — things that are true is the first in the list that Paul exhorts us to dwell on.  This word in the original language is alethes meaning true, real, conformed to the reality of things, loving the truth and not concealingIt is a word that denotes the reality of a thing. That is just what Lori was talking about—getting to the bottom of things!  Wading through our fears and feelings to get to the reality of the truth.

Now this does not mean we are to live in denial, putting on our Pollyanna smiles and pretty masks.  It simply means we can honestly and openly come before our God and pour out our hearts to Him. (Psalm 62:8). He is our safe place to express and unload all that talk going round in our heads. Once we’ve unloaded, vented, ranted and raved —and yes it is okay to rant and rave before our God, He is big enough to handle it —once we’ve “got it off our chest”, then our “dwelling” needs to take on a different focus.  Look at the definition for dwell again.  It states that this word refers to facts, not suppositions.  We need to turn our attention to dwelling on the facts.  So how do we determine what is true?   How do we sort out the facts from our feelings? 

Truth is found in the unchanging character of God, in the truth of His Word and what HE says is true of us.  We need to remind ourselves, rehearse, and dwell on the truths of His Word, regardless of what the world or our circumstances are screaming.

Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things to “dwell on” and the filter through which we should examine our situation.  We can examine our situation and ask:

What is true?

What is honorable?

What is just?

What is pure?

What is lovely?

What is commendable?

What is excellent?

What is worthy of praise?

And perhaps the specifics of that situation make it difficult to find any of the above!

But the truth, the reality, is God is good! He brings good out of even the most difficult situations. And when our eyes are focused on Him, we can see what is true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise because HE IS all of those things!  I love Lori’s realization and affirmation that some days this truth is all that kept her going!

The truth that HE IS causes us to change our perspective and with a renewed perspective we can ask, “How might I respond in a way that is…true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of bringing God praise?

Finally, Paul follows his exhortation to dwell with an instruction to do.

Do —look at this word in the original language:

            do prassoto practice, to perform repeatedly or habitually

Over and over and over again, we remind ourselves and rehearse the truth of who God is, what He has done for us and who He says we are in Christ Jesus. We are to dwell on the truth of who God is and what His Word teaches us.

So go ahead and get busy —dwell and do! ANDThe peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesusand the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:7, 9

See you next week at the kitchen table as we examine what it means to embrace beauty in our daily lives.

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 P.SClick here for a list of verses that are great “dwelling session” material.  We’d love to hear from you on what some of your “go to” verses are when you need to be reminded of truth.  Comment on this post and share them with us!

A Story of Beauty & Truth

A Story of Beauty & Truth

Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Philippians 4:8 (The Voice)

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 (HCSB)

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{This lovely watercolor print was done by Emily at Jones Design Company and is available on her website.}

What does a life characterized by beauty and truth look like? What does it mean to fill our minds with beauty and truth?  What does this look like on a daily basis in the midst of doing ordinary life with our ordinary tasks and daily to-do lists? What does it look like when life throws us a curve ball we weren’t expecting?

So often as women, we measure our worth and the substance of our lives by our accomplishments, perfections, performances and a constant striving to be accepted and approved by others. I don’t know about you but for me that is e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g!  If this is the basis for our identity then, what happens when one season of life that has so defined us, ends? What happens when circumstances take a turn and we find ourselves in a place we did not expect nor want to be?  I have shared many times before that the true measure of who we are is based solely on who we are in Christ Jesus.

But how do we learn to live out that identity on a daily basis in the midst of our busy lives and unexpected circumstances?  So much of how view our worth and our attitudes, reactions and responses are based on what is going on inside our heads.  I don’t know about you, but for me that is a battlefield and the “off” switch never seems to work!  Philippians 4:6-8 offers us some answers but first I want to share a friend’s story with you and the inspiration for this study.

Lori is my precious and long-time, dear friend.  We first met when our children were young (and we are now empty nesters). Chris and I had just purchased our dream home right next to Lori and Blair. We were their “unchurched” neighbors and they loved on us and invited us into their lives without judgment.  We became fast friends. That year Chris and I both surrendered our lives to Christ.  They poured into us and showed us what it meant to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Although we ended up losing our house (consequence of my shopaholic days), we remained friends and they continued to minister love and grace to us.  When we both began homeschooling our children, we’d take field trips together, do projects together, and just hang out.  Later Lori and Blair gave up suburban life and Blair’s engineering job to move back to their home state of Pennsylvania and become organic farmers.  They settled into life on the farm.  We missed them terribly, but we each took turns making visits to one another.

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Then in 2005, Lori and Blair’s lives changed in an instant and dramatically!  Blair stood to teach on a Wednesday evening at their church and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage caused by an arterial venous malformation. Life changed drastically that day for Blair, Lori and their girls. Life as they knew it would never be the same.  Long story short, Blair was told he would never fully recover. At one point Lori was told he would probably spend the rest of his days in a full-time care facility.  But God had other plans!  Blair came home.  He was granted permanent disability by the state.  They began to try to find the new normal with Lori taking on most of the responsibilities for which she used to rely on Blair.  But God had other plans.  In 2011, they began considering a move back to Georgia where their girls wanted to attend college. Unbeknownst to Lori, Blair had begun applying for engineering jobs. He was offered a job in Atlanta. After seven years of being on total and permanent Social Security Disability, Blair is now working again as an electrical engineer. It is amazing how God works!  The portion of Blair’s brain that contained all that engineering knowledge and skill remained intact. But, in the years immediately following Blair’s episode, Lori began to feel lost.  Listen to her words:

 “It was at a time when I was starting to rebuild my faith.  Blair’s illness and our church experience at the time had left me floundering around and feeling unsure of what I really believed and what was really true. I saw how quickly life can change and I didn’t want to continue living the same old way. So I asked God what it meant for me to really live. His answer was 1) walk without fear, 2) love unconditionally, and 3) embrace beauty, which I think means in others, in ourselves, in nature, in our homes, everywhere!” —Lori Fink

When Lori shared this with me across my kitchen table last year, it resonated powerfully with my heart and soul.  All weekend, I could not get those three statements out of my mind.  God brought reminders from His Word as I contemplated Lori’s statements.  After several months, her words continued to ring true in my head and heart as I thought about what it meant to really live for the Lord and to find my identity completely in Him!  So I asked Lori if she would grant me permission to use her three statements, and the truths I had began to uncover in the Word, to write a study to encourage others in living the abundant life in Christ.  She agreed!  So pull up a chair at the kitchen table with Lori and me.  We’ll be having a cup of hot tea and maybe some tea cookies or scones.  You grab a cup of tea, coffee or whatever you’d like and join us!

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing more of Lori’s story and unpack what it means to:

1.   Embrace Beauty

2.  Love Unconditionally

3.  Walk without Fear

4 Know Truth

Philippians 4:8 will be our guiding verse as we seek to live out these powerful statements by  filling our minds with beauty and truth!  We hope you’ll make plans to join us!

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