Tag Archives: spiritual

The Brutal Truth


Were you ever taught, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? I was. My parents were trying to teach me a few lessons, including that not everything that comes into your mind needs to be said. They were building filters in at an early age. I know people who don’t have any filters. He things they say are almost comical, if they weren’t so sad. They are often saying the truth, but not in a way that gets heard. 

When I’m developing a relationship with someone, one of the first conversations I have with them is about the truth. I let them know that if they ask me a question, I’m going to tell them the truth, whether they want to hear it or not. I also will try to give them that truth in love because as Warren Wiersbe said, “The truth without love is brutality.” I’ve found that the brutal truth is just like not having a filter. 

So why do we watch what we say? As James 3:6 says, the tongue can be a world of evil. Even though it’s a small member of our body, it can destroy relationships that have taken a lifetime to build. James 3:5 says, “Just think of how large a forest can be set on fire with a tiny spark” (GNT). He was reminding us of how small words from a small member of our body can burn down things that have taken years to build. 

I believe he was also teaching us to watch what we say so that we will get along with others. James concludes the chapter by saying, “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor” (MSG). We are to be developing healthy community, and the way to that is learning to control what we say, and how we say it. If you’re not sure what needs to be said or how it needs to be said, ask God for wisdom. A well placed word brings life rather than destruction. 

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Walking In God’s Presence


My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow. 

There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like. 

I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence. 

The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence. 

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Thank You Pastors


To me, pastors are special people. They carry the burden of the local church, and they often wear many different hats. They not only preach, but they make sure the church is open. They’re usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. They are counselors when we need Godly advice. They are prayer partners when we need God to intervene. These men and women stand in the gap between God and the world, and are the watchmen for their flock.

Knowing how much they do, it’s easy to forget they’re human and to think of them as super Christians. The truth is that they struggle with sin just like us. They need friends who will lift them up in prayer, and give them an encouraging word from time to time. They deserve our honor, our support, and our prayers. We should honor them all year long because their job never stops. So, to all the pastors out there, I want to say, “Thank you!”

Here are some Bible verses on appreciating pastors. 

1, Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness.
Hebrews 13:7 MSG

2. Then [in the final time] I will give you [spiritual] shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and [true] understanding.
JEREMIAH 3:15 AMP

3. Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”
1 Timothy 5:17-18 MSG

4. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.
1 Corinthians 9:14 NLT

5. The one who is taught the word [of God] is to share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his spiritual and material support].
GALATIANS 6:6 AMP

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Be An Uplifter

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


In my job, I work with both management and their employees. Something I see more and more often is employees who take very little responsibility in situations and shift the blame to leadership. If something goes wrong, it’s management’s fault. They don’t take the initiative to repair the situation themselves. They offer malicious obedience so that when they fail, they have a scapegoat. Maybe you’ve seen this too. This is a problem in our churches too, and all of us are guilty of doing it. When things aren’t being done the way we think they should be done, we blame the pastor or leadership instead of doing things ourselves.

One of the most memorable stories in the Bible that captures this attitude comes from Exodus 17. The children of Israel had left Egypt and were wandering in the desert. They were hot and thirsty. Instead of looking to resolve the problem, they complained and blamed Moses. They said, “Why did YOU bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (GNB) They took no responsibility themselves. Ultimately, God spoke to Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water would come out of it. God did it as a favor to Moses rather than as a reward to the people.

In the following verses of that chapter, we see the characteristics we should display instead. While there in the desert, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses commanded Joshua to get some men to go fight. He then went with Aaron and Hur to the top of a hill to watch the battle while holding his staff in the air. While his arms were up, the Israelites prevailed; when his arms were down, they began to lose. The problem was that holding up the staff for a long period became tiring, and soon he could no longer hold up his arms.

Instead of complaining about leadership’s responsibility in the battle, Aaron and Hur found a rock for Moses to sit on. They then held his arms up for him as long as was needed until the Israelites had won. They recognized it wasn’t Moses’ job alone to lead the battle. They saw what needed to be done, without being asked, and they did it for their nation. In doing so, they provide for us a great example of how our lives should be. We can choose to be complainers, or we can choose to be uplifters. We can either blame, or we can be the solution. It’s up to each one of us to do our part in the church so that the body as a whole is successful. Will you be a complainer or will you be an uplifter?

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The Power To Bless


There have bee several times in my life where others have blessed me. When I was in my late teens, my car died and I didn’t have the money to get another one. The next day, a couple at church came up to me and said while they were praying, God spoke to them and told them to bless me with a car. Another time, my second mom was on her death bed. She pulled each of her kids into the room one by one and gave us a verbal blessing just before she passed away.

It’s good to be blessed, but there is power in being able to bless. Ever since I got that car, I have always wanted to be the person who blesses rather than the one who receives the blessing. Whether it is the ability to give a gift as a blessing, or it’s the ability to speak a blessing to someone, it is a great thing to be able to bless others. In today’s world, where people are quick to destroy each other, we need the power to bless more than ever. 

Here are some blessings from the Bible.

1. May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 NLT

2. For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy.
Colossians 1:9-11 HCSB

3. I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19 GNT

4. From the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth, may God always give you abundant harvests of grain and bountiful new wine. May many nations become your servants, and may they bow down to you. May you be the master over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. All who curse you will be cursed, and all who bless you will be blessed.
Genesis 27:28-29 NLT

5. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” And God granted his request.

1 CHRONICLES 4:10 AMP

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Be An Example


One of the things my dad has said my whole life is, “Do as I say. Don’t do as I do!” He’s always said it jokingly, but now that I’m a parent, I get it. My son mimics everything my wife and I say or do, especially the things I wish he wouldn’t. It’s hard to discipline him when he says, “But you just said that.” As a parent, I wish he’d follow my instructions instead of my example a lot of times. Parenting would be a lot easier!

We’ve heard it said our whole lives, “Actions speak louder than words.” We can say things all we want, but if our actions don’t back it up, people won’t believe what we say. I’m sure right now you are thinking of people in your own life who are guilty of this. When our actions don’t back up what we say, we lose credibility. When we lose credibility, we don’t have a leg to stand on. That’s why Paul was adamant in his letters to Timothy and Titus to be good examples.

In Titus 2:7, Paul wrote, “In all things you yourself must be an example of good behavior” (GNT). He wasn’t talking about being a parent though. He was talking about our Christian life. The world has too many “Christians” who profess Jesus with their mouth, but deny Him by their life. How can we win the lost if our lifestyle is no different than the world’s? When we accept Chris, we become a new creation. Our old way of living is gone.

Paul writes over and over about how we should live as believers. What He’s telling us is that our life should be an example of what Jesus can do. He can take all of our brokenness and mess ups and make us new. It’s not saying we won’t fail or sin again. That’s going to happen because we’re all human. When we are being led by His Spirit rather than our flesh, we become the examples that the world needs to see. We won’t have to tell them, “Do as I say, not as I do.” 

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Homesick


Have you ever been homesick? Or maybe you’ve been traveling or have been out and about, and just wanted to get home. Home is where we relax, unwind, and rid ourselves of our cares. It’s where we dress down and are our most true selves. It’s the place that smells the most familiar to us, and it’s where we truly rest. They even say that home is where the heart is. I think Dorthy had it right, there’s no place like home!

I recently went through “How’s Your Soul?” by Judah Smith. One of his first points is that while we are good at having that place called home for ourselves, our soul is looking for home as well. When God created man, he was loveless until God breathed into his nostrils. Judah says that our soul is really borrowed breath from God, and that it finds its home when we use that breath to praise God. That’s why worshiping God makes our soul feel the way it does. It’s when our soul gets to be home.

Think about David for a minute. He was chased by Saul for years. He lived in caves in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. If you’ve read the Psalms, you know that man was homesick both physically and spiritually. He longed for the courts of the Lord as much as he longed for being home. He even said that it was better to spend one day in God’s house than thousands elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). Why? Because that’s where his soul was at home. Even if he couldn’t physically be home, he wanted to have his soul at home.

I believe all of us are the same way. Our soul longs to be home. I think we misinterpret the signals inside a lot of times, especially if our soul has never been home. In Psalm 90:1, David wrote, “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” (NLT) If your soul is homesick, God is where you’ll find the peace you’re looking for. In Him is where you will find your truest self, and that place where you can rest. You don’t have to be homesick anymore. Spend time with God worshipping Him and loving Him today and let your soul be at home.

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