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The Journey of Thomas – Active Participation

Friday, June 26th, 2009

James 1:19
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.


Prov. 18:13
He who answers before listening that is his folly and his shame.


Part Two: The Way

The Journey of Thomas has been built in three sections. The first one is based on gaining honesty in our own life. It was a time to develop a better understanding of our own hearts. Each session was designed to help us to become more aware of our own life experiences with the hope we would be more able to share them with others.


The second section is called “The Way”. We are going to introduce some practical tools and skill development to learn more about what we can do to connect more intimately with others. The Way is the “how to” of this curriculum. It will involve building new habits, learning new ways of relating to others that are more effective. We will also have to break some old habits. We begin with Active Participation.


The Art of Listening

Listening to another person’s heart can be one of the most affirming actions we can enter into. Hearing the heart cries, the joys, the desires of another person can build a rich deep relationship and create a connection that will promote a stronger desire to spend time with one another.


Sometimes we are remiss and allow distractions to get in the way of hearing some important things from someone we know. Television, cell phones, busy schedules, or even our own life issues can all interrupt significant interaction with others.


Or when we are faced with a challenging conversation it is easy to respond to defend ourselves or to attempt to “fix” the problem that has arisen rather than to take the time to truly listen to what is being said. Sometimes the details we hear lead us to a misunderstanding of the real issues and our reaction can be to feel hurt or misunderstood and we react out of our own wounds.


So many of us are habitual “fixers” and try so hard to find solutions for our hurting or challenged friends or family. Sometimes the frustration that may come from the conversation can come from our “fixing” ways. Maybe our friend doesn’t want to be fixed; they just want to feel heard. Fixing can be a way of trying to get someone else’s problem out of my already overwhelmed life. Or, it can take focus off of the person and onto how skilled I am at fixing someone else. The motive to overrun another person with our own goals will often thwart listening to their heart.


Relating in a “fixing” mode will often lead to arguing, bantering, and overall a lack of effective relationship.


Prov. 20:3
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.


Active participation requires of us to practice the art of listening. Psalm 116: 1-2 is my life verse because I felt so unheard most of my life.


I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.


My journey towards Christ started from knowing that He heard my heart cry for help. His personal response to my hurting heart drew me into His hope.


We must learn to listen in such a way as to turn our ears to one another when it is important to do so. It is important to know when it is time to put down the book, to turn off the television, to shut off our cell phones. Can you imagine how much it would help you to know that when we really need to share our heart with the person we have chosen to allow in, that they would turn to us with an undivided ear? I believe that everyone really desires to know they are significant and the when they are in trouble, there will be someone who will care. No matter what kind of bravado we can put up around ourselves, we are all human and I believe need a listening ear at sometime in our lives.


Enter With Our Whole Heart

When we decided to enter into honest, authentic, and transparent relationships we must choose to enter in with our whole heart. This requires of us to set aside our lives for the sake of one another.


Phil. 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.


Letting go of our personal agendas or rights for the time needed to affirm something in someone else’s life that deserves our attention is a skill worth learning. When we have become honest enough with ourselves to know how much we desire to feel heard, to feel significant, we can be much more aware of this need in others.


Maybe that television program can be let go; or the score of the game can be seen at a later time. We might be out to lunch with a friend and we just heard something that pricked our heart and we can put down the drink or sandwich at least for a moment to gain eye contact with our friend letting them know we are listening.


Defensive Posture

We might have found ourselves involved in a difficult discussion with our spouse and we feel defensive about what is being brought out. It would be helpful to develop the self control to not respond in defensiveness. But rather it would be great to learn to turn our ears to the other person to hear them. This will go a long way at staving off fruitless arguments.


Many years ago in my growth as Christian one of the most important things I learned is that I do not really have any “rights”. I realized that without the grace of the Almighty God, I am dead and my very breath is a gift from Him. The fact that I am alive is God’s provision for me at His will. This helps me to be a lot less defensive with others when I feel challenged or threatened by something someone has said. I also have learned to be honest with myself. At least inside my heart I know that more than likely, there is a lot of truth in a challenging comment or situation. I know that I may hold at least some of the blame for the rift or accusation. It is a pretty thin pancake that doesn’t have two sides!


A friend of mine told once that when a conversation is really heated up, it can be like a racing herd of rhinoceroses and not the best time to try to stop them because they will trample you. It was wise to let them run themselves out and then go and deal with the issue that may have caused them to run. I have found this to be such wise counsel. Don’t try to come running into a hurting situation with your best memory of God’s word. It would be best to listen to their heart.


Listening to the Wounded Heart

I have worked with a lot of wounded and abused people over the years. I have been wounded too. I have learned that what I needed more than anything else in order to experience healing was an ear of concern or validation. I typically figured out the rest with the Lord and over time. Because I knew this about myself it has made it much easier to learn the skill of listening to others rather than trying to remove the pain by my insights or instruction for them. I can easily slip into a teaching way and therefore I also learned that this is a skill that must be practiced.


An example of this is when I was in my forties, I told my sister that my step father had crossed some serious sexual boundaries with me when I was only ten years old. After I shared this with her, she just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “John, I never knew this happened to you. I am so sorry”. I cannot tell you how much healing occurred in my heart that day just because someone that was there, who knew the people involved, said they heard and understood. I felt validated, and a salve of healing poured over my wound that day. All she did was to hear my heart and I felt it deep inside. She didn’t try to minimize, fix, or over compensate through her own efforts.


Can You Relate?

Active participation in one another’s lives requires the sacrifice of our own. Jesus modeled this in setting aside His own life for ours. He is asking us to do the same for one another.


Can you relate to what someone has shared? When I was in a terrible situation in my life with broken relationships and increasing shame, a friend told me to go to an Al-anon/Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He said that I might find a better group of friends there. I had nothing to lose so I went. I will never forget the impact I experienced at that first meeting. I don’t remember what it was but I openly shared something about my life and a lady across the room stood up and said, “John, I can relate to what you have shared”. That one act of listening moved me to a brand new life with God. I learned the Serenity Prayer and felt led to seek God the next time I was experiencing the pain I had gotten myself into. Her active relating that day helped me to feel less alone and more motivated to seek help. I believe this was the first time I sought God from my heart to His.

One of my favorite scriptures is:


Heb. 13:3
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.


As Christians one of the most powerful tools we have is the ability to share the testimony of our life experience with those who are stuck or bound by their own prisons. Active Participation leads us to put our own lives in the shoes of someone else’s experience, because we recognize we have been there. We have all known a prison, a shame filled experience where we were so bound we may have been unwilling to leave the prison cell due to our own fears. We needed desperately to know we weren’t alone. Someone coming alongside us who would just listen can be the trick!


To actively listen to someone’s heart will require us to get into our own hearts. It may be a vulnerable place for us to go but taking the risk is worth it. It is a personal sacrifice we become willing to make for the sake of God’s kingdom and His people.


© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 3818


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The Journey of Thomas – Transparency

Thursday, June 18th, 2009


James 1:19-20
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


To be transparent means to be free of pretense or deception. As Christians we are often accused of being arrogant, or plastic. We have been called hypocrites. We are sometimes accused of being unrealistic and fake. Transparency renders such accusations without merit. Living a life of transparency is one “clear” enough that God can write on our lives His message, but to have enough substance to be the vehicle that He wants to use.


As a Christian, if I am not careful, I can easily put myself above someone else because I can be judgmental towards others, seeing what they are doing compared to what I am not doing. In my younger years while I was living a very rebellious life I would often grade those around me in such a way as to make myself out to be better than they were. I would say to myself, “Well at least I’m not like that”. Here I was sleeping around, drinking, lying, and many other despicable things but at least I didn’t do that! Well, it was the “that’s” that I was tempted to do next and often did.


Being transparent is going deeper than honesty or authenticity; to be “clear” through and through. It means to not cloud up my life with pretense and deception. This doesn’t mean I lose myself and become so invisible that there is no substance to my life but rather allow others to see my true self infused with the spirit of Christ when I communicate with them. For example, when I was in school the teacher would use an overhead transparency to write on with the so that we could see what she was saying to us; or to draw an example of what he imparting to us.


Transparency also means that we are of such a special design that the purposes are clear for how God wishes to use us. We also know the limitations of our lives and therefore we have an understanding of how we are not to be used. Again, referring back to the transparencies my teacher used, there are transparencies for color enhancement or to change texture. There are permanent transparencies so the message is never lost, and there are erasable ones that can be used over and over again.


I have a friend who is a part of our home group. I can’t tell you the number of times he has come to report some interesting, God inspired, divinely appointed opportunity to help someone, to encourage someone, to pray with someone, or just to tell someone he loves them. His life not only challenges my selfish heart, but it challenges my ears to hear from the Lord and obey what He is asking of me.


A transparent life does not demand its purpose, but is available to be used when appropriate to do so. Just recently, I was driving down the street and saw someone I knew in the car near me. I saw him turn into a fast food restaurant for lunch and thought of the transparency of my friends openness to being flexible. I drove by thinking, “I should call him to tell him I saw him”. I didn’t have his number with me, so I decided to make a u-turn (legally!), go back and say hello in person.


I went in while he was in line. He asked if I was eating as well. I said, “No, I saw you come in and decided to stop in to say hi”. He said he didn’t typically go to lunch at that time but was glad that his day turned out differently because it gave him the opportunity to share a little time together.


As it turned out, this was a great blessing for both of us. It is not usual for me to go out of my schedule or convenience to do this. But my friend’s life and the blessings he receives from living ready and available make me want to have some of what he has. That day, I got a taste of what can happen if I listen and move according to the opportunity that comes my way.


I am picturing in my mind a stack of brand new transparencies all ready for their uses to be discovered. As we line up our lives, is it possible to wait, to ponder, to be ready for our Heavenly Father to take us off of the pile when he needs us? Are we available and ready?


I remember getting into a pile of transparencies and found one that was not clean and had to put it back for a later time when it could be cleaned up. When I am ready to use one, I need a clean one right then.


I’ve also found that there are the ones that are wiped clean to use over and over. There is also the one right out of the box that I have used for the permanent printing purposes. I can’t say the used ones are less valuable than the brand new ones. Each one has its own place. But sometimes I think I’d rather be the older ones. I would see a whole lot more that way. The new ones might be permanently printed on and then put away in a file box only for only special occasions. Each of us has our own special place in the kingdom!


I have missed opportunities for my Father to use me because I just wasn’t ready yet. I must understand that He will do the cleaning when the time is right. I guess in the end, living a transparent life means I have to learn to be flexible and ready to be used at any given point for whatever He wants.


Whatever Lord!


If I am going to grow in my passionate response to the Great Commission, I will have to open my heart to living a transparent life. Loving others and sharing the life of Jesus with them through my life will not often be convenient and will likely call me to make a u-turn on short notice.


Another form of transparency is being free to alter a challenging situation rather than to continue in it. I have learned a great tool that has helped me on numerous occasions to ward off an argument or a conflictive conversation. I call it the “24-hour rule”.


Prov. 25:8 (NAS)
Do not go out hastily to argue your case. Otherwise, what will you do in the end when your neighbor humiliates you?


One day I opened up a dialogue with my wife in which I felt indignant and smugly correct about the conflict. As I continued to attempt to prove my point, my wife said, “John, I’ll have to think about what you said and I’m not going to continue the conversation at this time. I’ll get back to you tomorrow with my thoughts”.


I felt shut out and even more indignant, but I couldn’t argue with someone who had just said, “I am not going to respond.” At the same time, I felt free from the discomfort of my own challenging perspective and glad that she had the forethought to utilize this tool.


The next day, in that same integrity, she came back to me after both of us had time to process. We discussed the matter quite differently this time than we were trying to do the day before.


There are two elements to this particular tool that make it work.


• Number one, a willingness to establish the boundary that comes with the tool in the middle of an emotional discussion.


• Number two, having enough conviction and integrity so as to not forgo the discussion but to bring it back up so as to resolve it the next day.


This tool, as simple as it is, will work with parents and children, spouses, work situations, and any other situation that can become unhealthy if it continues without a healthy process. This tool values the person who is conflictive because you are saying to them that you really want to take the time to think and pray about what they have said. It also values them because it can keep them from continuing in a conversation they both of you may regret later, and requires transparency.


 © 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 3818


PDF of Transparency Article


The Journey of Thomas – Authenticity

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

by John J. Smid


Luke 6:45

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.


Authenticity is a word that is very poplar these days. It seems everyone is looking for authenticity and is saying they want this from others. The definition of authenticity is to be genuine, real, not false or an imitation of yourself. Are we sure we know what we are asking for?


The challenge to a discovery of authenticity is that it requires of us to know ourselves deeply. To live out an authentic life means that we must be willing to live as who we were created to be.


Psalm 139 14-16


14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.


If God knows us intimately and formed us for His own purposes and design, then our role is to seek Him for who He made us to be. Authenticity can therefore only be lived out if we know the original plan. This would require of us to speak to our Creator and hear His responses. Hearing from Him His original design for our lives can be a lifelong process but in our discovery process we are given the option to accept it or to reject it.


God’s created design is not so complicated. First, we are humans. He has shown us many things in His Word about how He designed us to live as human beings. Then, he created us “male and female, He created them”. There are clear designs for men and women as well. After that, we are individuals with many unique qualities.


What are our talents, our gifts? Do you know how you were designed to function within our human culture? Have you hungered to be like someone else thinking life would be better if you had their gifts? In some cases, trying to be like someone else would be like putting a Toyota emblem on a Chevrolet; not only would it not be honest, but it might look awkward to the discerning eye.


There are many questions that we have concerning whether or not God intentionally created some people with birth defects or weaknesses. Without getting into a theological study on this; living an authentic life includes the acceptance of things the way they are without trying to hide this reality.


For example, I remember a speaker that was born with half of one of his arms missing. He wore a prosthetic arm. When he got up to speak, the first thing he did was tell us the story of his arm. His authenticity put us all at ease and took the attention off of the curiosity that could have been there had he not mentioned it.


False Images

We can also learn to apply “false images” to ourselves through the course of our lives that can deceive others as they get to know us. When I was figuring out how to live my life I went through stages of clothing styles, haircuts, and mannerisms that I remember with embarrassment today. I am sure I looked pretty weird to some people as I passed through my phases of self-discovery. I realized that there were also times when I conformed to what I thought others may have expected, blending in so as to not draw attention to myself. Either of these can be an extreme if it isn’t lined up with my own authenticity.


Sometimes we misrepresent ourselves to others. I have known a couple of young men who are artists. When I first saw them they appeared to me to be counter-culture. Therefore, I judged them to be cold and emotionally hard due to their tattoos and ragged clothing. I later had the opportunity to hear them talk about their lives. I was so wrong! They were both sweet spirited, kind, and very connected to the real spirit of the Lord. They were mature in their walk with Christ as evidenced by displaying His heart. The sad thing is that they had adopted an appearance that was misrepresenting their true heart and likely were rejected by many who were thrown off by their external attire.


When we lack authenticity, others can sense that and steer away from us, avoiding something they perceive is not genuine. I believe we can experience this more than we know. People don’t always know why they may avoid someone or walk in separation from others and sometimes it’s because they don’t sense genuineness about them.


I was at a conference once where a young man was dressed in a very unusual manner. He was wearing clothes that were too big, dyed hair that was a strange shade of red and overall just kind of clownish. During our conversation I felt the open door to ask him about his clothes. He said the he wore them because he didn’t trust people. He explained that if someone were willing to get to know him through the strange appearance then he believed they could be trusted more. I was very honest with him in my reply. I said, “I feel manipulated by your clothing and appearance. That isn’t fair to me or anyone else that comes in contact with you and it isn’t fair to you!” He was not living authentically and I am sure it created loneliness for him and much discomfort for others.


I ran into this same man when he came to hear me speak about six months later. He told me that when I saw him previously he had just become a Christian about two weeks prior. He had learned a lot in those six months and was no longer dressed in such an extreme fashion. I was really grateful that the Lord allowed me to see the change in his life.


Another situation I ran across had to do with a man who came from a certain ethnic background. He was talking about a sense that he was being judged harshly at his place of employment. When he told me the story he was speaking with an ethnic lingo as well as a posture that was recognizable in a stereotypical way. I questioned him about this and asked him if that was the way he was at work because I had not seen this from him in our previous interaction. I suggested that he talk in his non-affected manner and lose the ethnic posture and he might find a better reaction at work. He took the challenge and things did change for him. His accent and posture were false images and stemmed from self-protection. They did not truly represent who he was authentically.


Not Always Comfortable

No matter how much we may want it, true authenticity isn’t always comfortable! I have found that when we stop playing the games of pleasing, cloaking, and hiding, this can create realness that many people aren’t used to. The unfamiliarity with true authenticity can be uncomfortable. We need to discover who God made us to be and find the best way for us to reflect the genuine model of whom we are even in the face of making ourselves or others uncomfortable.


Authenticity May Not Look “Normal”

I also knew a lady who was a very creative lady. She saw the world through colorful eyes and unique perspectives. She dressed in flowing fabric, colorful and creative collections of jewelry, and hair that was tossed in very random ways with color that was off the shelf for sure! There was no falseness in her appearance and she was very comfortable if not very pleasurable to be around. In her case, she was creative from the inside out and she remained true to who she was.


Authentic Christianity

So, as we think about those that we may judge to be so different from us, how do we look to them as Christians? What is an authentic Christian life? Is it a man in a suit or a woman in a nice dress? Is it the two parents with delightful little blonde children? Does it mean we speak with “Thee’s and Thou’s”?


I think we can all agree that these do not define an authentic Christian. However, there is a sense from our world that Christians aren’t authentic. So what’s the problem? I think it is often that we carry an image that we don’t have problems or that we just “love” Jesus so much that we hang around in the clouds of religious romance.


I have found in my walk with Christ that I have many unanswered questions about life; I also remain in bondage to sin that causes me to struggle with my faith. I don’t always “love” Jesus in an emotionally relating way and as a believer in Jesus Christ; I know why He offered me forgiveness from my sin because I need His forgiveness each and every day.


As I think about what it means to be a Christian, I find myself confused and not always in sync with other Christians I know. I can feel lonely, fearful, and not always as well received by my Heavenly Father as I hear preached from some pulpits. I recoil at some of the proverbial plastic Christian rhetoric and at times feel cautious around some Christians who seem to be “in love with Jesus” without ever exhibiting any real doubts or struggles. I can be judgmental, critical, and rebellious in making wrong choices that I know will not benefit me in the end.


What I do know is that all of this is in fact why He died for me and offered me a new life that includes an eternal destination of living in His kingdom of perfection at the appointed time.


Our Daily Lives as People

What about the man who goes to work as a corporate executive who as a youth had his heart set on working with his hands in creating order out of mechanical disorder? Or how about the church pastor whose heart is more in foreign missions and finds himself frustrated each day with his congregation’s lack of interest in missions?


Or think about a woman whose most significant desire is to raise her children and yet she gets in the car each morning leaving her children for a job that she is not truly invested in. Or, maybe her job gives her the financial ability to maintain an image she desires and yet her family could live on less.


These people, by emotionally shutting down, will begin to experience the consequences of living a daily life of confusion. Maybe they have feelings of disconnectedness from their soul in their daily lives that leaves them deeply searching for more in places that are unsatisfactory. There may be an invisible barrier around them that keeps others at a distance or that keeps them from reaching out for true relationship.


Prov. 10:9
The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

Choosing to walk in authenticity is a choice of integrity. A lifestyle of integrity is to be the same all the way through. It is costly to develop a willingness to be just what God created us to be. The simple life may not feel so simple until we rid ourselves of those things that don’t fit us and get comfortable with who we are.

Prayer for today: Lord, I know you made me the way you wanted me to be. I trust that you knew what you were doing at that time but I’ve done a pretty good job of covering that up. In my life, I have allowed others to make me into what they wanted me to be rather than what you created me to be.


Please show me who I am and give me the grace to live that out. I want to glorify you in all that is seen and unseen. I know that the only happiness I will find is to be who you created me to be. I want to figure that out and find your joy in it.


© 2009 John J Smid

Please do not reproduce without permission

PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 38183




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The Journey of Thomas – Honesty

Friday, June 5th, 2009

The Journey of Thomas


By John J. Smid

John 8:32

hen you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.


Truth? What is truth anyway? At a core level, Jesus is Truth. In this passage of scripture, I am certain that the core meaning implies that if we know Jesus Christ, He will set us free from the laws of sin and death. Knowing Truth in this very personal and redemptive way is the foundation of our lives and the avenue to living life eternally with our Creator; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


In the Grace Rivers’ Core Values we begin with Honesty. This kind of honesty stems first of all from a willingness to be honest with yourself. It is important to develop the skill of self evaluation. Why do I do what I do? Where do my reactions come from? What were the motives that underlie my actions today? Why did I shut down yesterday when I was talking with my wife? Why did I walk away from my husband when he began to discuss our daughter?


When I was a young Christian I read a little pamphlet titled “Your Reactions Are Showing.” I’ll never forget the wisdom and challenge I read in the words compiled in that little life changing booklet. It challenged me to look deeper into my life to find out what was underneath my unhealthy attitudes and thoughts. This was the beginning of my own pursuit to know my heart. I stumbled through life making many mistakes and allowing poor judgment to enter into many relationships, now is the time for truth.


When I began to evaluate my own motives and unhealthy reactions I saw marked improvement in my own decision making. I found a dramatic decrease in my own anxiety and a much improved process of developing healthier relationships. I also found peace to be the outcome of my own personal honesty.


When I was driving on the Interstate a man in a light blue pick-up truck cut right in front of me to go around the car in the middle lane. My first “reaction” was to feel angry and to wonder why he would do such a stupid thing – I mean didn’t he see me? My heart immediately went to a personal honesty. I had to be honest with myself about having done the very same thing many times. I am sure others had responded the same way when I cut them off. Knowing this brought me to an almost immediate forgiveness in my heart and a release of the frustration and judgment I had been experiencing.


On another occasion I was driving to a Bible study with a few other people in my car. We entered a subdivision of homes and we needed to go down a street that was immediately on our left after the entrance. I looked up and saw a “no left turn” sign and feeling inconvenienced by this seemingly ridiculous sign I decided to ignore its’ instruction and turn left anyway. I didn’t want to have to go any further out of my way since our study was starting very soon.


Well, you guessed it. A police car came immediately up behind me motioning me to stop. I felt so embarrassed in front of my friends. When he took my information back to his car I was drawn to personal honesty. I turned to my friends and said, “I deserve a ticket, I was wrong”. I had accepted my potential consequences admitting my error. The policeman came back to our car and told me he was giving me a warning. In my thankfulness I turned once again to my friends and said, “That was grace”.


In both of these situations, personal honesty gave me freedom; a freedom from the attempt to circumvent truth and live a lie. First, a lie that somehow I was more perfect than the man in the light blue pick-up which ended up in my highly critical reaction to the situation. Second, I was attempting live out a lie that somehow I was privileged to go around the law because I wanted to.


I can go on and on in examples where personal honesty brought freedom to my life. I can mention many times where personal honesty was very uncomfortable and on the surface brought about challenges that I didn’t want to have to face. But, in the end, the truth wins out and honesty really is the best policy.


Some other great scriptures for internal honesty are:


Prov. 14:8


The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.


I find this scripture particularly interesting since covers two very important sides of this point. Giving through to our ways is exactly what I am trying to bring forth here. Personal evaluation is so important in living an honest life. The last part of this scripture speaks to living in deception and that will lead to folly.


Prov. 14:10


Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.


I see in this passage the reality that somewhere in our own hearts lays bitterness as well as joy. Both are important to know and understand if we are going to live an honest life. I also find that it moves us to see that if we are honest with ourselves, we will see the truth. We do know our own bitterness and yet, without understanding, others will not relate to it by osmosis, rather we need to share it with them.


Prov. 14: 13


Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.


Are we tempted to hide our aches underneath laughter? Living dishonestly is at times hiding our pain in fear of someone else seeing it and putting ourselves as a perception of risk if we open up. I believe it is important to see if we can’t learn to trust more freely in the Spirit of Christ to rise up in His people. Can we trust in people? Not always. But we can trust Christ in people.


For further reading on personal honesty I highly recommend the book, “Telling Yourself the Truth” by Backus and Chapian. This book has laid the foundation for personal evaluation of my internal process. I have never been the same since reading that book.


Prayer for today:

Lord, today, filter my mind through Your truth. Help me to be more honest and less defensive in my reactions toward others. I desire your truth in my inmost parts. In your sovereign grace, help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.


© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 38183


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