Have you ever watched a sea gull? When in flight he powerfully lifts himself higher and higher with every flap of his wings until he is higher than any other gull. Then, he gracefully circles down to the earth. The gull seems to be all about performing and excelling.
What happens, though, when Mr. Gull gets into a flock of gulls? It is not a pretty sight. There are territorial fights over food that cause feathers to fly everywhere. The word ‘share’ is not in the gull’s vocabulary. Philip Yancey said that ‘they are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They’ll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.”
By contrast, consider a flock of geese. You’ve seen them flying in a V-formation, honking all the way to wherever they are going. Scientists know that geese fly faster in that V-formation. The lead goose is the one doing all the work, flying against the wind. It is because of this that there is a regular swapping of positions among the geese in the V which allows the flock to fly long distances without stopping to rest. Everyone shares in the tough job.
The geese with the easiest jobs are those in the back…the last one on each end of the V. It has been observed that the stronger geese allow the weaker and older of the flock to stay in these lighter-work positions. All that honking may even be a way for the geese to encourage one another to keep flying.
If a goose becomes too sick or weak to fly, she is not abandoned. A healthy goose will stay on the ground with the sick or weak one until she is ready to fly again. While gulls are individualistic and territorial, geese are concerned about the flock as a whole, as well as their individual goose-friends.
Into this story we insert today’s verse in our Authentic Christianity study. Check out Romans 12:10.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
The kind of love that is being spoken of in this verse is the love of a friend or a family member, rather than romantic love. As Christians we are to be tenderly affectionate toward other Christians. We are to seek the good of our Christian brothers and sisters, rather than maligning them and dishonoring them. The apostle Paul echoed this admonition in Philippians 2:3 when he told the believers in Philippi to consider others better than themselves.
I will just tell you that the last part of Romans 12:10 is hugely convicting to me. HUGELY! I fail miserably at showing honor to other people. Oh sure, I honor my parents and those who are older than me. But, I sometimes get a big old ‘F’ when it comes to honoring those who seem to be making poor life choices or are different than me. This should remind us of Romans 12:3 where we are told to ‘not think more highly of ourselves than we ought’. If we take this verse seriously, we will show real appreciation, respect, and care for others. We will put their welfare before our own, and we will be Jesus-with-skin-on to them.
NOTE: If you are reading this post via email, you will need go to my website in order to see the video and access the GIFT I have for you. Click HERE to go to my website. When you arrive there, please look for the Friday, April 14th post.
Today I wanted to offer a video post because I hope to be able to convey how important I believe this week’s posts have been. Surely, I am not the only one out there who is desperately in need of a word make-over! Surely, I am not the only one in need of grace for her tongue. Surely, I am not the only one who needs accountability in her life?
I hope you will take the time to watch the video. I also hope you will be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your own heart. Here are links to my Monday and Wednesday posts that I reference in the video.
I would love to hear from you if you decide to take a journey similar to mine. You can use these principles for more than just changing words. They can be used to break free of all kinds of strongholds…lying, anger, alcoholism, adultery, pornography, overeating and so much more. Scripture memorization, prayer, and accountability. Three tools that have the blessing of God for you, His child.
May this gift will be a blessing to you, my readers. I hope it will help you in your journey toward words of grace. Please click the blue button below and follow the prompts to download and print your Grace-Full Scripture Cards.
On Monday I shared with you the beginning of my journey toward speaking words of grace rather than negative words. If you did not catch that post, you really, really need to go HERE and read it because today’s post will not make sense without the the Monday post. So, head on over and read it and I’ll be waiting right here.
This has not been an easy journey because I have come to realize how often negative, critical, grumbling words fill my mouth. As a woman in ministry, I am embarrassed to have to tell you that I have failed in this area time and time again. This is basic Christianity 101, yet here I am in the Holy Spirit’s remedial class. BUT, I’m thankful that He is patient and loving with me, and that He is giving me opportunities to change.
So, on Monday I shared about how prayer and Scripture memorization were key to my journey. Today, I want to share with you how I utilized the process of accountability in my efforts.
Remember my two friends who were the unfortunate recipients of my negative words at lunch that day? Well, the Holy Spirit instructed me to ask them if they would be willing to be my accountability partners in my journey. Here is the email that I sent to my precious friends.
The Holy Spirit has troubled my spirit deeply over my actions and words yesterday. I have asked for forgiveness from Him and you, and I know that I have received it. Yet, I feel there is an action that He is prompting me to take and I am coming to you for help.
I have a question for you. And please know, up front, that it is perfectly okay if you need to say no – I promise! I’m looking for some accountability *just* for the month of March in regard to making ’the words of my mouth acceptable to God’ (Psalm 19:14).
Consistently over the course of my 52 years my mouth has gotten me in trouble….not speaking the truth IN LOVE, speaking when I should not, saying things that are not kind, etc. Yesterday was evidence that I am in great need of a work of the Holy Spirit in this area. My plan is to be diligent in prayer about this and really seek God’s help in controlling my tongue every day. I recognize that my words are a choice and I must choose to not let my tongue be out of control.
I believe that if I can be focused in prayer and effort for the month of March, then controlling my words will become a habit that I can more easily continue. This is where I am asking for your help, if the Lord leads you. Would you maybe be willing to receive a very short email or text from me each morning for the month of March where I can tell you if I was successful the previous day? And if I wasn’t, I can tell you why I don’t think I was. A few sentences, max…I promise not to waste your time in this. Again, if you do not feel led or feel like you can do this, I completely understand. Thank you for considering it.
Both of my friends said “YES”. And so beginning on March 2nd , I ‘reported in’ every morning with my success, or lack thereof, in my efforts to eliminate negative-speak from my life. It is incredible what accountability will do for an effort like this. I knew that I had to report in, and I hated like everything to have to report failure, so I was much more aware of my words throughout the day. Oh, there were a few days where the report was less than stellar, but there were also many wonderfully successful days. In fact, the successful days outnumbered the failure days by a lot.
I learned that in life there are times when negative words must be spoken simply because of circumstances, but they can be spoken without anger and hurt as their fuel. (You must be thinking, what a moron!! She didn’t know that?) I also became much more aware of my thoughts and where negativity was creeping in BEFORE those thoughts became words.
I am happy to report that speaking grace-filled words, or just keeping my mouth shut completely, happens far more often than speaking negative words these days. I still have moments when I slip and speak a negative word, but the Holy Spirit convicts me immediately and I confess my sin. I will likely be a work in progress for a while on this issue, but I’m so thankful that God took me down this path.
Once again today I want to ask you about your words….to your husband or wife….about your husband or wife? About your children…your co-workers…those with whom you attend church….the homeless person on the street….anyone and everyone.
What kind of words do you speak?
Are they anger- or hurt-driven words, or are they words of grace and care?
On Friday I will be back here with a gift for you and some insight from my recent character issues survey. I will also have a challenge for you, so I hope you will join me here. Please go HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your GIFT.
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Recently I attended a continuing education seminar for pharmacists. Sounds fun, huh? The seminar was chock full of excellent information, but unfortunately I was battling some type of viral illness, so by the end of 8 hours of seminar sitting, I was done. Just done. On the first day, I went back to my hotel room, changed into my pajamas and climbed into bed at 5pm. Then, I did something I almost never do. I turned on the television. Flipping channels to find the national news, I stumbled upon a channel offering a program about which I had heard, but never seen.
I’m a girl, and what girl doesn’t like weddings? Immediately I was sucked into “Say Yes to the Dress”. At first, it seemed harmless enough. Bride and family go to store to choose a wedding dress for the big day. Then, the wheels came off the wagon. Lesbian bride and family go to store to choose a wedding dress for the big day. Then, the ox goes into the ditch. Lesbian bride and her bride (is that how you phrase it?) go to store with families to choose wedding dress and one-piece wedding jumpsuit. Seriously?
I know you must be so glad you stopped in today!?! I promise I am going to tie this into Romans 12. Here goes. Do you know what plumb or a plumb line is? Have you ever made use of one?
Merriam-Webster.com defines plumb as ‘a lead weight attached to a line and used to indicate a vertical direction’.
As we study through Romans 12 we are reading all about the plumb line for authentic Christianity. The lead weight is our life, the line is the Word of God which is connected to God, the ultimate Vertical Direction. The entire chapter of Romans 12 is chock full of admonitions for how to live a Jesus-like life. Today we venture into the last half of verse 9 and shewww-eee, is it a doozy!!
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (ESV)
Evil is the opposite of holiness, therefore it should not be part of the Jesus follower’s heart. In fact, the word abhor is pretty strong here. Synonyms for it are hate, detest, loath, and despise. It has been said that the only protection against sin is to be shocked by it.
How often are we shocked by sin today? How often does evil stun us? Oh sure, the really bad stuff like Christians being beheaded or child abuse or sex trafficking shocks us, but even those things don’t cause us whiplash like they should. We live in an information saturated world and receive so many images and words that we have become a bit callous to it all. May I offer you a quote from John MacArthur? These words were published in 1994, so it was well before the internet became so popular.
The constant bombardment of our senses through TV, newspapers, magazines, movies, and books with the immoralities, violence, and perversions of modern society makes it difficult to be shocked by anything. Tragically, many Christians regularly entertain themselves with sheer ungodliness, perhaps rationalizing that, simply by being a Christian, they are somehow immune from the sinful infection.
MacArthur goes on to say, “we cannot flirt with sin and escape falling into it.”
No, we cannot. Sin affects us greatly….even when we think it doesn’t. Y’all, I’m not just talking about the ‘small sins’ (as if there were such things). No, I’m talking about things that, 50 years ago, would have been considered evil. Those things are not only accepted by Christians today, they are celebrated. Sex outside of marriage, homo- bi-, trans-sexuality, and abortion, just to name a few. Watching all the ‘love’ being celebrated on ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ reminded me of how accepted homosexuality and other sin has become.
Let’s also talk about pride, lying, stealing, jealousy, uncontrolled anger, and hurtful words? Those things are sin, too, and they break the heart of God. We are to abhor it and have nothing to do with it. Do you? Do I?
How is that working out for us? Have we become so de-sensitized to it all that we just accept it and go on?
The second part of this admonition is to hold onto, cling to, what is good. The Greek word used for cling/hold is from the word kolla, which means glue. Good things ought to stick to us. What are those good things? Philippians 4:8 tells us that they are whatever is:
Of good repute
Worthy of Praise
Don’t rush past that list! We need to use discernment and carefully, thoughtfully examine everything to see if it passes the good test.
We must love and show compassion to those who are not living by the plumb line of God’s Word, but we must never allow their sin to become our own…we must never soften the message of the gospel in order to appease feelings. Hell is at stake here, y’all, and it is our duty to call sin what it is, just as Jesus would have done…with love, compassion, but always with truth.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
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I have linked to this before, but I wanted to offer it again because I am such a fan of The Journible. It is an awesome way to really cement God’s Word in our heart. Writing out a complete book of the Bible is powerful, y’all. Here is the link to The Journible for Romans.
And I am always finding quotes that touch my heart.
And I think to myself, “I need to remember this one or that one.”
Then I promptly forget it….or forget where I saw it.
So, I have begun to accumulate notable quotes in one place for later reference. Now I am hoping I will remember to look at my notable quote document when I am seeking out a quote!!
Today, I want to share with you a couple of the ones I have found in the last few weeks in hope they will speak to your heart and life as well. Feel free to Pin, Share, Tweet, Stumble, or whatever else you can do with them.
This first one really convicted me….I mean CONVICTED ME!
How often do I NOT pay attention to the people in my life. I half-listen to what they say, or I am too busy scrolling through social media to pay attention to them. Worse yet, while they are speaking I am conjuring up in my mind what my response will be to them. Sheesh! I have work I need to do in this area, people!
The second quote comes from the Bible study I am currently doing with my small group. It is Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God Bible Study. Dear Gussie, I am being challenged and convicted by this study…and it is a good thing.
There is a story that goes with this quote. A sculptor had done a huge sculpture of a horse, I think it was. After it was finished a man came up to him and questioned him about how he was able to create such a beautiful sculpture of a horse out of a large chunk of stone. The sculptor thought a minute and then said that he simply chipped away anything that didn’t look like a horse.
I hope these two quotes give you something to ponder for a few days. Let me know your thoughts about them in the comments. Until Monday, friends.
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Here is a link to the Bible study I referenced above in case you want to grab a copy for yourself.
Today in our Authentic Christianity series we are talking about spiritual gifts. This passage, along with three sister passages (1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Ephesians 4:7, 11 and 1 Peter 4:10-11) have been the sources of consternation and disagreement in the body of Christ. Much has been written and preached about spiritual gifts over the decades, so I’m sure I have nothing to add that would cause a light bulb to go off in your head. For that reason, I am choosing to focus less on the gifts themselves and more on Paul’s encouragement to use the gift you have been given.
Before we read the verses on which we are focusing today, I want give those who are new to the series links to past teachings so they can get the flavor of this series.
My best friend, Cindy, and I have a long-standing joke between us. Cindy has the gift of mercy, among other gifts that are hers. Her heart breaks for those who are hurting and struggling. She has great compassion and feels things deeply. Me? Not so much. The joke is that when God was giving out mercy, I was in the ladies room! Once Cindy gave me a pack of tissues and on each tissue was a cartoon of a woman waving a Kleenex and saying, “Oh boo-hoo. Blow your nose and get over it.” Yep, she knows me well.
God gifted me with other gifts. I have the gifts of teaching and prophecy (no, I cannot foretell the future. That is not what prophecy means here). Because I do not have the gift of mercy I am not excused from being merciful. Cindy’s influence in the area of mercy has encouraged me to ask the Lord to help me be more merciful to those around me….to see them with the eyes of Christ. That does not mean I will suddenly be smacked with the gift of mercy, but I must be intentional about offering mercy when the situation requires it.
Let’s take a look at our focal verses for today. I’m giving Romans 12:5-8 to you in two versions…the ESV is first, then the Amplified.
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;
8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
5 So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].
6 Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is} prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;
7 [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;
8 He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.
In these verses, Paul is encouraging the Romans to use the gifts they have been given.
If you have the gift of prophecy (preaching, speaking forth, proclaiming God’s Word), use it!
If you have the gift of serving, serve!
If you have the gift of teaching, teach!
If you have the gift of exhortation (encouragement), encourage!
If you have the gift of leading, lead!
If you have the gift of mercy, be merciful!
Use your gift in the way that Jesus would have used it…..in faith, with generosity, excitement, and cheerfulness.
What if you are not happy with your gift, or wish you had a different gift? Well, sister (or brother), you cannot re-gift what God gave to you. You cannot decide that because you do not like it, you can just give your unwanted gift away or choose not to use it. Nope! It is yours, placed within you and assigned to you by God Himself because He knows it is perfect for you. No re-gifting allowed! If you ask God to help you see the plan He has for you to use your gift and to enable you to use it, He will. I will venture to take it one step further and say that you will never be satisfied and joyful until you are actively using the gift God gave you.
I want to encourage you not to run from your gift. It is how you are uniquely fitted to operate within and bless the body of Christ.
So, tell me, what is your spiritual gift or gifts and how are you using them to walk out authentic Christianity? Share in the comments.
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Want to learn more about spiritual gifts? Dr. Charles Stanley, known as America’s pastor, offers a wonderful study on them.