Category: Truth

Truth Still Sings While Memories Sting

It happens every October. The first cold front comes through, college football kicks off, and I remember fall was the time of year my life fell apart.

For years, it embarrassed me that the sadness would quietly bubble up when I wasn’t expecting it. It happened in moments that should have been innocuous, fun. Who feels triggered walking into a college football game? It was as if my body remembered old grief before my brain realized what was happening.

But it would happen any time I walked on the college campus where I’d imagined so many of my childhood dreams. At birth, my mom had swaddled me in the school colors and taught the fight song alongside my ABCs. It was a given that I’d graduate from there, keeping the family tradition alive—until a chronic illness kept me from even filling out the application. Years later, I still felt it:

  • Loss of community I was never a part of.
  • Frustration over physical symptoms we couldn’t control.
  • Disappointment that life had taken such a radical detour.

People like to say that time heals all wounds, but what if old aches can always be reactivated? Is it possible to think back on unfulfilled dreams without feeling the sting of disappointment?

The Pain of Past Hurt

If you walked into a stadium with fifty thousand people, you wouldn’t be able to go more than a few steps without bumping into someone with a bruised heart. 

Some struggle to sit in the stands because cheering on the home team was a tradition with a family member who’s no longer able to attend. Some can still picture the seats where they sat on their first date, the beginning of a relationship that didn’t end with an engagement. Others hear a ringtone in the crowd that reminds them of the night they got the news that they had been betrayed by someone they trusted, an act they’re pretty sure they’ve forgiven but don’t think they’ll ever be able to forget. 

As long as we live in a world impacted by sin, our stories will have sore spots. You may share my embarrassment and not have mentioned how you still feel about it to anyone except God. He not only sees, but He cares, and He’s able to ease the ache. 

One of the great comforts of studying Scripture is getting to see how God has healed those who have come before us. We see that in the familiar story of Joseph in Genesis 37–50. Joseph suffered deeper and wider pain than many of us can even comprehend. It would have made sense for him to have been held captive to the losses he experienced his entire life, but what Joseph reveals in Genesis 41 shows that God is able to set us free from the painful memories of past hurt.

A Painful Past

You may already be familiar with the main plot points of Joseph’s life: betrayal by his brothers, slavery in a new land, false accusations, imprisonment, disappointment after disappointment. He had been away from home for thirteen years when his life finally started to trend in a positive direction. Joseph got a job promotion, essentially becoming prime minister under Pharaoh (41:40) and married Asenath, an Egyptian woman who would give him to two sons (41:50).

It’s hard to imagine what went through Joseph’s head when he found out his wife was pregnant for the first time. If ever there was a time for the memories of his own family to come flooding back, wouldn’t it be then? No matter how many times he had tried to forget what had happened, wouldn’t he feel the loss of all the normalcy he’d missed over those thirteen years? All the family dinners, the weddings, the nieces and nephews. All the conversations, the arguments, and the advice from his father about how to (and how not to) grow little boys into godly men.

All of those simple moments had been replaced with years of suffering. After everything he’d experienced, we might expect Joseph to be bitter and resentful—or even hostile to God. But the insight we’re given into his heart reveals something different.

Forgotten and Fruitful

Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh and said,
“God has made me forget all my hardship and my whole family.”
And the second son he named Ephraim and said,
“God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” —Genesis 41:5–52

In Israelite practice, it was common for the mothers to name their newborns, but Asenath didn’t name their boys. According to Genesis 41:51, Joseph named them.

It wouldn’t have been that surprising if the names he had chosen sounded similar to the one Naomi later called herself in Ruth 1. “Call me Mara,” she had said, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. . . the Lord has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me” (vv. 20–21). 

Instead, the names Joseph chose focus on two ways Joseph had seen God work in his own suffering: how God had made him forget his hardship and his family (Manasseh), and how God had made him fruitful in his affliction (Ephraim). 

Could Joseph have really forgotten his family? It’s clear they haven’t been fully erased from Joseph’s mind. Despite spending his entire adulthood in Egypt, despite marrying an Egyptian woman, Joseph didn’t give his sons Egyptian names. His Hebrew heritage would be on his lips from the first time he spoke to them.

Both names are a description of God at work in Joseph’s life. The Lord was the one responsible for changing his fortune and helping him to prosper in affliction. The years spent in a land filled with suffering and uncertainty were the backdrop against which God had been with him and God had blessed him. Or super-blessed him, as his second son’s name implied. 

Joseph didn’t forget the evil that had been done to him. It wasn’t that he no longer remembered his family—we see that a few chapters later when they unexpectedly arrive, and he identifies them first. But in the birth of these sons, we see that the memories of the past do not have a hold on him. As Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll explains: “God made him forget the pain, the anguish of what had happened . . . God removed ‘the stings’ in Joseph’s memory and replaced them with waves of gratitude.”

From Grief to Gratitude

Thousands of years have passed, but God is still able to remove the stings from our stories. You may not even be aware of the ways He already has.

I realized it earlier this month: God has taken away some of the stings I thought would follow me forever. About thirteen years ago, I spent October in the guest bedroom at my grandparents’ house—too sick to attend school, too sick to dream about the future. I thought I’d always live there, in that hard and hopeless season, where every memory of October would bring the heartache of what was lost back then. 

But November always comes—and I’m reminded of all the ways God has brought blessings into the places where I was afflicted, even in areas that haven’t seen full resolution. Year after year, the painful memories have been filled with comfort from the Lord and replaced with perspective: God has been faithful. 

Those tender points in your life? God is able to heal their sting. One day, you may wake up and realize your heart doesn’t hurt the way it used to. When that happens, give thanks for God’s grace in your story. Give thanks that November always comes. 

By Katie Laitkep – Revive Our Hearts

She Needs Truth – How Hard Words Serve Women

As an adult, the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon remembered hearing his mother pray for him and his siblings like this:

Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.

He recounted how deeply her prayers and warnings had shaped him, writing, “How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come?”

I too grew up with a mother who warned me of my sins and their consequences. Once, after observing a pattern of sin in me as a teenager, she called into question my sincerity toward Christ, reminding me of the deadly hypocrisy of acting one way at home and another way at church. Her words stung deeply, revealing my cavalier attitude toward God. I didn’t fear him as I ought, nor did I honor him.

Those hard words, although painful, were like a meat tenderizer to my heart, softening and sensitizing it. The frank and pointed way she spoke to me throughout my childhood left me no room to hide in vague half-truths or nice-sounding platitudes or Christless good-girl behavior. She was God’s ambassador to me, and as such, she regularly created a fork in my road: follow Christ or go your own selfish way.

Rare Gift of Warning

The longer I live, the more I realize how rare it is to have a mother, or anyone at all, who earnestly warns those around them of the deadliness of sin.

Many women are simply terrified by the prospect of speaking hard words to someone they love, like their child or a close friend. They are terrified of the possibility that a relationship could be damaged or undone if the person won’t receive a biblical warning. It is easier to offer vague encouragements to grease the wheels of relational ease than to say something truthful that you know could offend.

“Good job, Mama” or “You did the best you could with what you knew” are just a couple among thousands of common encouragement-memes that get shared and reshared among women. They’re tailored to quell an anxious conscience, never mind whether they’re true or not. Yet we rarely hear similar speech when it comes to the warnings of Scripture, particularly warnings shared from women to women.

Off-Limits Sins

It seems many today — not just fellow women, but even pastors — have taken a hands-off approach when it comes to applying hard truths to the lives of women. Some of this may simply be because well-meaning teachers feel ill-equipped to understand precisely how they might faithfully apply some passages to women. Some of it may be because we know so many women who are in a self-professed hard time, so we worry that they might hear a hard biblical word and wince, taking it in a way it wasn’t intended.

Yet the Scriptures are full of fork-in-the-road sayings, some of them aimed directly at women. Sometimes I like to picture what might happen if we regularly heard these sorts of biblical imperatives without all the hemming and hawing and caveating and ducking:

Deny yourself and follow Christ (Mark 8:34).

Be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to your own husband so that God’s word isn’t reviled (Titus 2:5).

If you’re a younger widow, don’t be an idler or busybody, but seek to get married and serve the Lord (1 Timothy 5:11–14).

Stop worrying about how you look or being vain; instead, be gentle and quiet in your spirit (1 Peter 3:3–4).

Just as the church submits to Christ, you should submit to your husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24).

If you do not obey the Son, the wrath of God remains on you (John 3:36).

Do you know what I picture in churches where verses like these are stated clearly and unashamedly? Not a mass female exodus or a bunch of mad-crying women (although that’s a possibility) — I picture women receiving a precious gift and becoming strong in Christ.

Hard Words That Heal

Why speak hard words to women about their sin? Because if you believe women can be co-heirs, then you also believe they are fallen in Adam and in need of the salvation found in Christ. Their sin must be dealt with — repentance, faith, and conformity to Christ are the only way.

If the Scriptures rebuke parents for not disciplining their children, calling it hatred, then what must our Lord think of those who refuse to address the damning sins of women with the hope of the gospel? How much do you have to hate women to ignore their culpability for their sins?

“Sometimes, in our good desire to minister to women, we can begin to treat them like hypersensitive car alarms.”

Sometimes, in our good desire to minister to women — to meet their needs, to build them up — we can begin to treat them like hypersensitive car alarms, tiptoeing around their sin, rather than loving them enough to help them obey, and to make them unflappable in him. The truth is, when you read an online “encouragement” that declares you’re doing a great job as a mom, it’s possible that it is true. But it also could be completely false. You may be doing a poor job, and that’s why you’re on the Internet looking for someone to tell you you’re doing great. Yet when we read the hard words of Scripture, they are always true — and they are always truly good for us. There is always an application. We always need to repent and believe. We always need to deny ourselves. We always need to obey God.

We love women with the truth. We speak truthful words that upset, that cause pain, that produce guilt, that pierce, but only because we know his healing and forgiveness and comfort is found no other way. I often think about the hard words my mother spoke to me — they were God’s appointed means to preserve me and keep me from making a shipwreck of my faith. How many daughters have wandered from the faith for want of such a mother?

Make Hard Words Normal

Another statement my mom was not afraid to say to me was, “You’re being too sensitive.” This is true for scores of women today — they are sensitive to their own feelings and reactions and therefore quick to take offense. And we need to hear, in truth and love, from other women when the gift of our sensitivity is becoming sin.

“Flat-out refuse to let yourself be offended by anything God says to you.”

Most of all, the way to desensitize an easily offended or disquieted spirit is by regular exposure to the unfiltered word of God. We can’t survive on a Bible diet of uplifting bits only. We must not let ourselves get skittish and squeamish around direct and discomforting truth. Try saying out loud the parts of the Bible you find most difficult. Put God’s own words in your mouth and start to get used to them. Say them in love to a friend. Make them normal.

Lastly, flat-out refuse to let yourself be offended by anything God says to you — whether his words are on the page of your Bible or rightly handled in the mouth of your husband or friend or pastor (2 Timothy 2:15). You may be wounded by God’s word, but his words are the faithful words of the truest friend you’ll ever have. And they are the only words whose wounds can make you whole.

Courageous Prophets of Change – Speak Truth Boldly

1 Kings 22:14-23 New International Version

14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”

15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”

17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

1 Kings 22:26-28 New International Version

26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son 27 and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”

28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”

Sharing Love In Truth – Godly Love Among Believers

Acts 4:32-37 New International Version
The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all
34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”),
37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 5:1-11 New International Version
Ananias and Sapphira

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.
2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?
4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.
6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Proud People Versus Broken People

I want you to know that I struggle with pride! So Lord please take my pride!

Proud people focus on the failures of others, but broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need. Proud people are self-righteous. They have a critical, fault-finding spirit. They look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope, and they look down on others.

But broken people are compassionate. They can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven. They think the best of others, and they esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit, but broken people have a dependent spirit and recognize their need for others. Proud people have to prove that they’re right, but broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit, but broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit. Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation, but broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served, but broken people are motivated to serve others. Proud people desire to be a success, but broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.Proud people desire for self-advancement, but broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized, to be appreciated. They’re wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness. They’re thrilled that God would use them at all in any ministry. They’re eager for others to get the credit, and they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts.” They think of what they can do for God, but broken people have that heart attitude that says, “I don’t deserve to have any part in this ministry.” They know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know, but broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn. Proud people are self-conscious, but broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arm’s length, but broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take the risks of loving intimately. Proud people are quick to blame others, but broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they were wrong in the situation.

Proud people are unapproachable, but broken people are easy to be entreated. Proud people are defensive when criticized, but broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit. Proud people are concerned with being respectable.

They’re concerned with what others think, and they’re working to protect their own image and reputation. But broken people are concerned with being real. What they care about and what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows, and they’re willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual needs with others, but broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs. Proud people, when they have sinned, want to be sure that no one finds out. Their instinct is to cover up, but broken people, once they’ve been broken, they don’t care who knows or who finds out. They are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?” But broken people are quick to admit their failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary. When confessing their sin, proud people tend to deal in generalities, but broken people are able to deal under the conviction of God’s Spirit to acknowledge specifics.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin, but broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin. Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught. But broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, which is evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

When there’s a misunderstanding or conflict in relationships, proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness, but broken people take the initiative to be reconciled. They race to the cross. They see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor, but broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy. Proud people are blind to their real heart condition, but broken people walk in the light. Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of, but broken people realize that they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud, unbroken people don’t think they need revival, but they’re sure that everyone else does. Whereas humble, broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God, for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit

The Cave People (A Story)

The Cave People (A Story)

Long ago, or maybe not so long ago, there was a tribe in a dark, cold cavern. The cave dwellers would huddle together and cry against the chill. Loud and long they wailed. It was all they did. It was all they knew to do. The sounds in the cave were mournful, but the people didn’t know it, for had never known life.

But then, one day, they heard a different voice. “I have heard your cries,” it announced. “I have felt your chill and seen your darkness. I have come to help.”

The cave people grew quiet. They had never heard this voice. Hope sounded strange to their ears. “How can we know you have come to help?”
“Trust me,” he answered. “I have what you need.”

The cave people peered through the darkness at the figure of the stranger. He was stacking something, then stooping and stacking more.
“What are you doing?” one cried, nervous.
The stranger didn’t answer.
“What are you making?” one shouted even louder.
Still no response.
“Tell us!” demanded a third.

The visitor stood and spoke in the direction of the voices. “I have what you need.” With that he turned to the pile at his feet and lit it. Wood ignited, flames erupted, and light filled the cavern.
The cave people turned away in fear. “Put it out!” they cried. “It hurts to see it.”

“Light always hurts before it helps,” he answered. “Step closer. The pain will soon pass.”
“Not I,” declared a voice.
“Nor I,” agreed a second.
“Only a fool would risk exposing his eyes to such light.”

The stranger stood next to the fire. “Would you prefer the darkness? Would you prefer the cold? Don’t consult your fears. Take a step of faith.”
For a long time no one spoke. The people hovered in groups covering their eyes. The fire builder stood next to the fire. “It’s warm here,” he invited.

“He’s right,” one from behind him announced. “It’s warmer.” The stranger turned and saw a figure slowly stepping toward the fire. “I can open my eyes now,” she proclaimed. “I can see.”

“Come closer,” invited the fire builder.
She did. She stepped into the ring of light. “It’s so warm!” She extended her hands and sighed as her chill began to pass.

“Come, everyone! Feel the warmth,” she invited.
“Silence, woman!” cried one of the cave dwellers. “Dare you lead us into your folly? Leave us and take your light with you.”

She turned to the stranger. “Why won’t they come?”
“They choose the chill, for though it’s cold, it’s what they know. They’d rather be cold than change.”
“And live in the dark?”
“And live in the dark.”

The now-warm woman stood silent. Looking first at the dark, then at the man.
“Will you leave the fire?” he asked.
She paused, then answered, “I cannot. I cannot bear the cold.” Then she spoke again.

“But nor can I bear the thought of my people in darkness.”
“You don’t have to,” he responded, reaching into the fire and removing a stick. “Carry this to your people. Tell them the light is here, and the light is warm. Tell them the light is for all who desire it.” – Max Lucado.
And so she took the small flame and stepped into the shadows.

Jesus was 100% Man and 100% God and preached 100% Grace and 100% Truth

John 1:16-17 NIV

16 From His full – ness we have all received grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Notice that it says GRACE and TRUTH came through Jesus Christ. While it is true that we have received a super abundance of GRACE (unmerited favor) through Jesus, we must never forget to preach the TRUTH of God’s word.

GRACE without TRUTH tends to lead us to LASCIVIOUSNESS, (unrestrained freedom) and TRUTH without GRACE tends to lead us to LEGALISM.

Jude 4 New International Version (NIV) (Warning Scripture)

4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about[a] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality (LASCIVIOUSNESS) and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

In some Churches where an abundance of GRACE is preached, the preaching of HOLINESS is neglected. It is my opinion based on scriptures that BOTH must be preached.

Hebrews 12:14 New International Version (NIV)

Warning and Encouragement
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Titus 2:11-14 King James Version (KJV)

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

1Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.