Free Indeed

“For truth is truth to the end of reckoning.” 

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

John 8:32, 36

We often joke at the yarn shop that the biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I will remember that.” So, we don’t write it down and by the next day we are struggling to remember exactly what we said we would not forget. While that may be the biggest lie we tell ourselves, it is probably not the biggest lie we believe

In the Bible study Get Out of Your Head, Jennie Allen says that the lies we tell ourselves fit in one of three categories:

  1. I am helpless.
  2. I am unlovable.
  3. I am worthless.

The enemy will use these lies to try and make us utterly useless to the cause of Christ. We get so caught up in listening to the lies that we become frozen, unable to move forward. In order to break free from this bondage, we must recognize Athe origin of these lies.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. John 8:44

The enemy is a liar. He has been at work on the earth a long time, and he knows just how to punch our buttons. It is usually so subtle that we often don’t realize what is happening. If we want to be free we need to recognize his tactics; however, there is something even more important: knowing the truth.

When federal agents are train in how to identify counterfeit bills, they don’t study fakes. They study the real thing. The biggest key to being spiritually free is not to study the enemy or his lies; it is to study truth so that we can identify the lies when we hear them.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

When you start hearing that little voice in your head, counter it with the truth:

  • When it says, you are helpless, say:
    • For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • When it says you are unlovable, say:
    • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10
  • When it says you are worthless, say:
    • But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:4-8

Jesus Christ is the Truth, so when we know the Truth, He will set us free. However, we have to choose to accept the truth and make it a part of our everyday lives or we are still living in bondage to those lies. The best defense is to have an arsenal of weapons, so get in the Word and write verses on sticky notes or index cards and keep them at the ready. When the enemy attacks, follow Jesus’ example when he was tempted and point him back to the Word of God because what God says is all that matters

What lie is the enemy telling you? More importantly, what does God say?

Finding Joy in the Moment

 “Happiness makes up for in height what it lacks in length.”

Robert Frost

This week I saw a link posted on social media about a contestant on a talent show. They asked her some questions, and it turned out she was battling cancer. She performed a song she had written titled It’s Okay. When she finished to a standing ovation, they were talking about the way she connected with people and her genuineness that shone through. She said, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

There was a lot of truth in that statement. Her joy and happiness came through both in the words she spoke as well as in the lyrics to the song. She was finding joy in the moment of being on stage and singing for an audience, but it doesn’t have to be something that big. Joy can be found in the smallest of moments.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalms 118:24

Earlier this week I was driving to work when I saw an animal scurry across the road ahead of me, but I couldn’t tell what it was until I got closer. The animal had stopped at the edge of the wood and looked back to the road just as I got even with it. It was a fox heading home after a long night. Something that simple brought me a moment of joy.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4

I have been going through The Joy Box Journal by Adria Wilkins, which follows along the same lines of finding joy in everyday events. The saying that you find what you are looking for is very true because if you want to find joy, you will find it. If you are looking to be offended, then you will find something to offend you. If you look for the bad in people, you will find it. But, what kind of life is that?

I challenge you in the coming week to look for at least one moment of joy each day. Write it down. Better yet, post it in the comments and share your joy. In the meantime, check out the video of Nightbirde singing, if you haven’t already, and be inspired.

So, what brings you joy?

The Approach

Last week I was working on a couple of deadlines with a pressure headache, making it hard to think. I sent a draft of one article to the editor with the caveat that I knew it needed work, but I was having trouble getting it right, especially the tone. The editor sent me back notes saying that the tone was definitely negative and suggesting a more positive slant to the same topic of scripture. It was the same idea, but it came at the topic from a different angle that was more about pointing someone in the right direction versus reprimanding them.

Tone will get you every time. No matter how true your words are if the person feels singled out and chastised, they are unlikely to take heed to what you have to say. How many times have you been in an argument and the other party says, “It’s not what you said; it is how you said it”? That, my friend, is tone. It is a common problem, especially in today’s electronic society.

When I was teaching and tutoring online, there was an emphasis on pointing out both the good and bad in an assignment. The trainers suggested the equivalent of a compliment sandwich. You open with what the student had done well, give critiques, and then close with an overview of the paper as a whole focusing on good points and positive suggestions on how to proceed. This approach helped the student know what they were doing right while helping them to improve in weaker areas. The student then felt inspired to make the corrections in order to make their writing better.

So, before we decide to correct someone spiritually, or grammatically, let’s take a look at what advice we can glean from the Bible on the subject. Proverbs is known as a book of wisdom and instruction, and it has a lot to say about words and how we use them:

  • “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)
  • “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
  • The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)
  • “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)

All of these verses emphasize the idea of good words: wholesome tongue, pleasant words, deep waters, wellspring of wisdom, word fitly spoken. These phrases suggest words that are chosen thoughtfully and not just spouted off the top of our heads. Unfortunately, we are a society that speaks first and thinks later, me included at times; therefore, how should we approach correcting someone?

First, we need to make sure our tone is right, meaning humble and helpful not egotistical and condescending. Second, timing is as important as tone. The acronym HALT is a good one to remember: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. If you, or the other party, are any one of those things, you should probably wait. Finally, and most importantly, we need to figure out our motivation. If we aren’t doing it out of love, humility, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, then we should probably keep our mouths shut.

Now, let’s recap: think before you speak. That pretty much sums it up. It’s simple, but it is not easy. Writers have a step up on other people because we can revise before we publish; however, the way my face looks when people say stupid things is another issue altogether. I should probably work on that and the think before you speak thing. I would say it might require duct tape, but that won’t help the eye rolling. Well, let’s just all try to do our best. We are all a work in progress, which we would all do well to remember.

As The Tongue Wags

It has been said that you are what you think and do daily. Someone recently said as the tongue wags so goes the rest of the body. I think there is a lot of truth in these statements. Matthew 15:18 says, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” What we say comes from what we think. Thoughts lead to words and words lead to actions and repeated actions make habits, some good and some bad. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we start with focusing our thoughts on good things, it will most likely lead to good actions and good habits.

It is very easy to get caught up in negative thinking. Focusing on the negative leads to self-pity and discontent. What we focus on really does affect our words and our behavior. For instance, when I have an ache or pain, the more I focus on the pain, the worse I feel. However, if I focus on something else, the pain often lessens. If I constantly talk about the pain, then it becomes even worse until it is all I think about.

The same can be said of our circumstances. If I focus on what I don’t have, I become discontented and have a bad attitude. It can lead to complaining and eventually to poor choices. For example, I have wanted a chaise lounge for my living room. If I focus on the fact that I don’t have one, I can begin to feel like I have been cheated, and then I may complain that I don’t have one. This could lead to me buying one on a whim, say on credit or by ignoring other bills that will be coming due. Poor spending can lead to financial problems down the road. However, if I focus on what I do have, then I have a spirit of thanksgiving, especially when I think about how much worse my circumstances could be.

Once I focus my thoughts, I can then change the focus of my words. I often complain out loud when I should be grateful. I also notice that when I am around people who complain all of the time that I am more prone to complain myself. How much better would it be if I was the voice of thanksgiving and possibly changed the tone of the conversation and the thoughts of others instead of encouraging the negativity?

Once my thoughts change, my words change. When my words change, my attitude changes as well as my actions. I become more productive and happier in general. So, if you want to change your life, start with the way you think and the words you say, and you will soon find that it will change your attitude even if it doesn’t change your circumstances.