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Conversations Devotions

SuperPower Sunday: Truthfulness

Welcome to Superpower Sunday!

This week’s Super-Character skill is Truthfulness:

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.

Character Bookshelf Series, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Ephesians 4:25

Please Share! In the comments section below, let us know what you learned and tell your success stories from the last week of practicing thoroughness. Also, we’d love to read your ideas of how we might exercise truthfulness between now and next Superpower Sunday!

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Devotions

Where I Stand

I was getting so frustrated! I could see it, but I could not get it. I was applying lipstick from where I stand regularly in front of my bathroom mirror and noticed a hair on my lip. It wasn’t long enough to be mine, which would have been easier to grab. No, it was likely one that had once belonged to my dog. I couldn’t feel it with my fingers or with my lips, but my eyes insisted it was clearly there.

I struggled long enough to be quite confused before I realized that the piece of hair (fur?) was actually stuck to the mirror. I just happened to be standing in a place where my lips were reflected in just that spot and I was deceived. If I had been standing three inches to the right or the left, the hair on the mirror would have blended with the reflection of my hair and I wouldn’t have noticed it. Had I been standing six inches to either side, I would have seen it for what it was – a hair on the mirror.

And my thoughts began to race. There was a spiritual lesson there. and it was this:

Where I stand matters.

Where I plant my feet can determine what I see and how I see it. If I am standing on the promises of God, I will see things as they really are.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31b, 32

But if I’m standing to the right or to the left, I set myself up to be deceived or to miss the point altogether. With so many social issues and tensions raging all around me, I don’t think the need for clarity has ever been greater. I cannot afford to see things askew.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:25-27

Have you been grasping at something you can’t quite seem to get your hands on? Have you noticed that things appear one way and seem to actually be another? Are you having trouble getting at the truth through the trash? Maybe it has to do with where you’re positioned. If you and I consistently align ourselves with Jesus, He promises to keep our paths straight. And, from where I stand, that is worth everything.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5, 6

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”

James 1:23-25
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Devotions Emotions

Desperate for a Mood Change

Do you think God has moods? I believe I could make a Biblical argument to say that He does, but I would also have to concede that they must be different from mine, because He is unchanging. My moods can change me from hour to hour. And my moods change the way I hear things. When I’m feeling confident, I might hear someone make a negative observation about me and process it as humor or sarcasm. But if I’m in an introspective mood, I am more likely to hear it as criticism and beat myself up over it.

When two people get together to converse, they each bring a mood. It’s no wonder discussions can veer so desperately off track. And when a group of people get together, it is nothing short of a miracle that communication happens at all!

But there is an upside to mood changes. I can read the Bible every day for as long as I live and receive it differently each time. So much of what I understand and take away is based on the mood I bring to the table.

Giraffe and sky: mood change
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Is weariness a mood? What do you call your attitude when you look ahead at your life and can’t quite see a break in the clouds? Unfortunately, but honestly, that is the mood I was in when I took my lunch break today. I was feeling the pressure of an already-tight budget, which has had some new and unexpected columns added to it lately.

I often scroll blogs and social media while I eat, but today, I recognized the desperate need for a mood change and decided to read my Bible instead. I came across this verse, which I’d read many times and never really noticed. Today, it stood out like it was in a pop-up book.

“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

Proverbs 21:21

The first thing I realized about this verse was what it does not say. It does not say to pursue prosperity. Instead, it says to pursue righteousness and love, and in so doing, I will also come across life and prosperity and honor. I could feel my mood changing already! I know that God’s definition of prosperity does not necessarily mean money. I also know that when God prospers someone, they have everything they need. When God fills a person to the brim with contentment and joy, for example, a tight budget is of no real concern.

Society says to pursue riches and applause and you will have a life you love. God says to pursue righteousness and love and you will find honor and a prosperous life.

I realized I’d inadvertently listened to the philosophy the world offers, and it had affected my mood. The message of society is to pursue riches and positions of honor in order to be loved and have a good life. But God met me in my weariness and encouraged me that the very choice to read my Bible was the best thing I could have done. It may have been inadvertent but, by going to Scripture to soothe my mood, I was pursuing righteousness and God’s love. And that, my friend, turns out to be the very thing that will ultimately lead to fulfillment and joy and prosperity.

Have you noticed that you see, hear, or recognize things differently based on your mood? Have you been desperate for a mood change? Have you unwittingly bought into the world’s backwards prescription for prosperity? Let’s turn ourselves around and pursue that which God promises will be the ultimate mood and game changer!

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”

Proverbs 16:20

“Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”

Psalm 1a, 2-3
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Conversations Devotions

Thoughtful Words

I am not Queen of the Quick Comeback. Too often, I try to make a yolk in the moment and end up with egg all over my face. (See what I mean – and that one was even thought out!) Maybe that is why I like to write. It allows me to plan what I say and say what I plan; and write thoughtful words. From Merriam-Webster.com:

  • Thoughtful(adj): decided on as a result of careful thought
  • Words related to thoughtful: intentional, purposeful, careful, informed, planned…
  • Nearest opposite words of thoughtful: random, unadvised, hurried, abrupt, purposeless…

How do you feel about moments of silence in conversations? Some of the smartest people I know take the time to think before they speak. Now I’m wondering – do you think they use pause because they’re smart or do they seem smart because they use pause? Hmmm…

I appreciate that the definition above says thoughtful words are ‘decided on’. We can deliberately pick the words that will serve our purpose. Are we trying to evoke someone to laugh? Reconsider? Understand? Believe in themselves? Our chances of success are better if we carefully choose our words for the situation and audience we have. The Bible is straightforward:

“Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Proverbs 29:20

Now it is your turn. I genuinely want to know your thoughts. How do you deal with awkward pauses? What strikes you about the concept of thoughtful words? What about the risk of over-thinking? Please share in the comments below!

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Conversations Devotions

Dismissive Words

Class Dismissed! Ah, those words still bring a bounce of joy to my heart and I’m not even in school! But most of the time, it hurts to be dismissed. I never want to be dismissive to anyone, yet I sometimes catch myself doing it. Here is how Merriam-Webster.com describes it:

  • Dismissive(adj): having or showing a disdainful attitude toward someone or something regarded as unworthy of serious attention
  • Words related to dismissive: diminish, discount, criticize, write off, belittle…
  • Nearest opposite words of dismissive: favor, commend, approve, compliment…

Often, dismissive words are non-verbal, aren’t they? But they speak so loudly! A shoulder shrug, an eyeroll, a sigh, or a glance at the watch; these can all leave someone feeling like they aren’t worth our time, and their story isn’t worth hearing.

The other day I caught myself being dismissive with a child I love. This kid has a great imagination and was going on and on with a make-believe tale. I realized I wasn’t even listening anymore, but my lips were still saying “wow.” and “that’s amazing.” It sounded just like that too – with periods and yawns instead of exclamation points and excitement. I’m sure that child felt my disinterest. I was thankful that I noticed in time to re-engage. “Wow! That is so amazing! You are a very creative storyteller!”

I don’t even want to think about how dismissive I can be when someone tries to talk to me while I’m writing, or on my phone, or otherwise distracted. I’m sure I don’t even respond some of the time. The people in my life are more important to me than my free-time activities, but how will they know that unless I turn, look them in the eyes, and actively converse when they need it, no matter what else is going on?

I recognize my own dismissive behavior because I often feel dismissed. It makes me want to do better; to pay attention, show favor, and sincerely offer commendation. Some people are so talented at validating others by the way they speak. Are you one of them? Do you have an example of either a dismissive or affirming conversation? Please share your thoughts, and together, let’s do away with dismissive words for good.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

Bryant McGill

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Conversations Devotions

Gracious Words

Did you read the title of this post and immediately think of someone? Close your eyes and think about how you feel around them. People who are truly gracious are rare and the world needs them desperately. I would love to be one and I know we could do this together! Here is a definition according to Merriam-Webster.com:

  • Gracious(adj): showing a natural kindness and courtesy especially in social situations
  • Words related to gracious: cordial, hospitable, friendly, kind, considerate…
  • Nearest opposite words of gracious: abrupt, impolite, grumpy, blunt, rude…

The first thing that I want to notice is that Jesus spoke gracious words.

“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.”

Luke 4:22a

I mention this because He is the standard of authenticity and integrity. From His example, we know that speaking graciously does not mean insincerity, nor does it require a compromise in what we personally stand for. Gracious words come from a place inside that truly values another person and speaks it out loud. It is a manner of speaking that includes others, soothes over awkwardness, and shows honor.

I adore gracious people, but fear I seldom am one. To improve my effectiveness in this area, I need to worry less about what people think of me and more about how they feel about themselves around me. They are precious and dearly loved by Jesus and the way I speak to them can and should impress that upon them deeply.

It might be more acceptable today than ever before to be blunt and rude to each other. People may be getting accustomed to it and barely taking offense anymore, but that only enhances our opportunity! Think how amazing the impact could be if we would learn to speak gracious words in a world where they are so few and far between!

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Proverbs 16:24