Authenticity

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, NIV)

So you must stop telling lies. “You must always speak the truth to each other,” because we all belong to each other in the same body. – (Ephesians 4:25, ERV)

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. – (Ephesians 4:25, MSG)

 

Yesterday, as our pastors continued in their series “DNA” (The core beliefs we are made of at our church), the topic covered was “Authenticity”. Pastor Misty began by unpacking that authenticity, in the context of the body of Christ, is fully knowing and understanding who you are in Christ, and living accordingly. The verse she began with, was Ephesians 4:25. We have to set aside our idea of what we think we “ought to be”, and choose to live out the life of who we are called to be. Do we seek to live up to the world’s expectations, or God’s design? It seems like a tall order, yet when we allow our hearts and minds to be made new in Christ, it is far easier to be “real” than attempt to fit in a mold that was not designed for anyone to actually fit. We are each uniquely designed with different gifts and purposes. As we operate in the strengths that God has intentionally granted, others benefit and we continue to grow. Some common telltale signs of those who are actively seeking to be authentic, are those who: speak the truth in love, forgive time and time again, actively pursue peace, and continue to seek to grow as they allow others to speak into their lives in ways that encourage positive growth as life-long learners. May we be fearless in our pursuit to authentically be the people of purpose, for which we were each uniquely and wonderfully designed.

 

Seek the face of God, Authenticity

And choose to be true;

Walk in your purpose,

Authentically you.

Lay down pretenses,

And all the “ought to’s”;

Discover your gifts,

Then put them to use.

Speak the truth in love,

Always choose forgive;

Seek peace and new growth,

Authentically live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that You designed each one of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that as we seek You and grow in You, we begin to understand how to walk out our days authentically as who You have intentionally created us to be. Forgive us for the times that we have held back or tried to be something other than who You have designed us to be. Show us how to love those around us well with the gifts, talents and purposes that You have placed within each of our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we actively pursue a life of authenticity in You. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

The Parts Make the Whole

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, ERV)

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, NIV)

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. – (Romans 12:4-6a, MSG)

 

This is such a critical message to remember in community – be it in family, friend groups, work or other circles in which we gather. Each of us are created with unique strengths and giftings, intended to utilize them for the encouragement and betterment of those around us. I know this to be true in my family, marriage, and among close friends, and I am extremely grateful for the way that different gifts work together to create a stronger whole. As my colleagues and I spend the week in trainings and meetings to prepare for the upcoming school year, I intend to look for and celebrate the different giftings that each part of our staff brings to the whole of our school community. It is the people that have kept me in the same school for the entire twenty-three years of my teaching career thus far. Superintendents and higher ups have come and gone, yet, there have been core people who have helped keep a familial culture in existence over the years. Those who have come in and embraced the sense of community, have remained and strengthened what was started long ago. When kids begin joining us in a little over a week, it will be our charge to identify the strengths and gifts that each of them brings to our classroom. It is my hope and prayer that we not compare ourselves nor them to each other, but rather see and celebrate each one as is, recognizing the potential in all that is yet to be.

After speaking with mom last evening, I received a bit more clarification about her appointment last week and the hold-up with in-home therapies. Apparently, it is not a need for seeing another specialist, but rather a bit of a fight/search to find in-home therapies that her new insurance will cover. This is extraordinarily frustrating, as a different insurance would have been selected, had we known it would have been so difficult. God is good, and He is faithful to meet mom’s needs, so we are trusting that He will make a way quickly, as a long delay is not beneficial to mom’s ongoing rehabilitation and recovery. On the positive side, she is working hard, making sure to work on her walking multiple times each day. Please join us in praying that all will be worked out and settled this week, so that perhaps as my nephews return to school, mom will be able to begin her therapies back up at home.

 

We each have a role, aristotle_quote_the_whole_is_greater_than_the_sum_of_its_parts_1439598_1807304324820819141384587.png

A part we’re to play;

Gifted and equipped,

God has made the way.

When we choose to live,

To walk out our days;

As He intended,

Our lives bring Him praise.

Part of the body,

Embracing our role;

Encourage others,

To work as a whole.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with different strengths and gifts, and intended us for community so that we could work together to be strong and whole. Forgive us for comparison, for that is the thief of joy that leads to us thinking either too little or too much of ourselves. Teach us to instead, appreciate all that You create and grow in each of us, and to encourage those around us well. Show us how to love those You place in our lives in a way that celebrates the unique way that You have created each of them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each person that You have placed in our community to contribute to the whole. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

We Belong to Each Other

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, NIV)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV)

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

Both my Viking and I sat in awe and wonder as we reflected on the variety of friends and family that had joined us to gather to celebrate our new life together yesterday. There were educators and police officers, medical professionals, business people, football friends and childhood treasures, church family and those that have been family since birth – it was wonderful to see the evidence of how each has touched our lives and helped us become together, what we could not be on our own. God is good, and He blesses us with a body of people who have a variety of gifts and talents, so that together, we are able to become what He intends for us. May we ever embrace those whom God places in our lives and give Him praise for the gift that they are to us.

 

Just as we’ve a body, wp-15352968608005978420073665084020.jpg

That has many parts;

So too, we have people,

With strengths and great hearts.

Each with different gifts,

Talents meant to share;

Love and laughter to give,

Not things to compare.

All thanks unto the Lord,

Who grants by His grace;

Treasured variety,

By His loving ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us community that is varied in people who have different gifts, talents and life experience to speak into our lives. Forgive us for not treasuring the gifts in others as much as You do. Teach us to see others through Your eyes, so that we would recognize and appreciate the strengths, talents and gifts that You have given to those around us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we too, may utilize the strengths and talents You have placed in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to see and appreciate others through Your eyes, and to utilize what You have given to us for Your purposes. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth (Moreno) Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

One who loves a pure heart and speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. – Proverbs 22:11

Each One a Part

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV)

All of you together are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of that body. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, ERV)

Now here is what I am trying to say: All of you together are the one body of Christ, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, TLB)

You are the body of the Anointed One, and each one of you is a unique and vital part of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, TPT)

 

In this busy season, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that each of us have a purpose for which we were uniquely designed. As we walk out our days doing the things which we are called and created to do, we are being part of the bigger body of Christ, that would not function as it were meant to if we did not do our part. Though our part may seem insignificant, it is vital to the big picture. Just as a person becomes acutely aware of the absence of the use of a finger due to an injury (though a seemingly small part of the body), we too are noticed if we are not present or able to function as we were designed, regardless of the size of the body to which we belong. May we each remember that we are part of the body of Christ, uniquely designed with a purpose and a place that is needed to help the body function as it is intended.

 

The body of Christ, Love Made Known

Is both vast and wide;

Each person crafted,

With purpose inside.

We’re called to go forth,

And live out our days;

Living our purpose,

As this brings God praise.

And as we do this,

We become as one;

The body of Christ,

Familial union.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and create us to be part of Your body. Thank You that You do not expect us to navigate this life on our own, but rather You surround us by people who have different strengths and giftings so that we can be stronger together in You. Thank You that we are designed to do life together. Forgive us for thinking that we have to do things on our own, or that we do not have anything to offer. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our best self to all that we do, and trust that who You have created us to be is exactly the part of the body that we are meant to bring each day to the community where we are planted. Show us how to love well the people who surround us. Help us to encourage and build up the body as You build up and encourage us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the part for which we have each been uniquely created and called. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

The Lens of Love

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, NLT)

God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, ERV)

God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans only see what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, CEB)

 

I am so grateful that God sees beyond the exterior that we present to the world and gets to the heart of the matter. He sees faith, hope and love, even when the world cannot. God will take the smallest seed of good and grow it into something greater. People tend to notice faults, whereas God sees strength and beauty and potential in the glory of His created. The more we seek and depend on Him, the more we begin to see others through His eyes. May we pursue the Lord with our whole hearts so that we may see others through the lens of His love.

 

Judge not appearance, the-lens-of-love.jpg

Of all those you see;

But look at the heart,

And love lavishly.

For that which is seen,

It never will last;

Yet the heart God sees,

Created, steadfast.

Let’s look at others,

Through Love’s lavish lens;

To see true beauty,

And choose grace extend.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not look at us the same way that people do. Thank You that You look past how things appear and get straight to the heart. You see and You know the heart of the matter, and You love us through it all. Thank You that Your love shows us how we are meant to love one another. Forgive us for the times that we judge people or circumstances based on what we see. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would look to You to learn the heart rather than superficial appearances. Show us how to see others through Your lens of love so that we can extend the same goodness and grace to others that we have so generously been given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to see others through Your lens of love. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Lavish Love Gives Glorious Grace

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, NLT)

Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, ERV)

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. – (1 Peter 4:8, MSG)

 

When we choose to love others, we see their strengths far more clearly than their weaknesses. Just as we are so lavishly loved by the Lord, we are able to pour into others as we are willing to receive that which is freely given by God. Though we may get hurt, irritated or frustrated with choices that our loved ones make, we are far more easily empowered to forgive, as we commit to the choice to love. Not one of us is without fault, yet God loves each of us as if we were the only one to love. He knows our thoughts before we think them, our words before we speak them, and still He loves us in spite of ourselves. As we choose to love others deeply, we are able to love likewise. May we seek to love others as we are loved by the Lord, for love like His makes up for practically anything.

 

With intention choose,

dsc04515607025226.jpg

-Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Deeply love others;

For love looks past faults,

Dear sisters, brothers.

It’s grace to forgive,

When others do wrong;

Love like we’re given,

Strength to choose love on.

Because we’re loved well,

We can do the same;

Prefer each other,

For by love, we gain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can love because You first loved us. Thank You that Your love is so deep, it covers our faults and failures. Thank You that as we choose to love deeply, we too are able and willing to forgive as we are forgiven. Forgive us for not choosing love when things get difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love others as we are loved by You. Show us how to love others as if our lives depended on it, for by such love others with come to know the greatness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love each other deeply with the same love that You pour out upon us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Let Our Love Proclaim

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. – (1 Chronicles 16:8, NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord and call out to Him! Tell the nations what He has done! – (1 Chronicles 16:8, ERV)

Thank God! Call out His Name! Tell the whole world who He is and what He’s done! – (1 Chronicles 16:8, MSG)

 

To give God thanks and praise is a natural and normal occurrence throughout my days. However, making proclamations verbally is not a normal part of my mode of operation. I tend to be on the quieter side, and go about my day doing what needs to be done. I give credit where credit is due, yet I do not make big announcements nor proclamations about anything. Daily, I write about His faithfulness in my life, and hope that His love is made evident through my actions. This is a verse that I wonder about, as I know we are each designed with different gifts and strengths. Perhaps it is in the quiet conversations between friends, when we reflect on the reason for the season, that our opportunities to share of His greatness and faithfulness in our own lives are the places that we are meant to speak of what He has done. May we ever give thanks to the Lord and call on His Name, and may we share of His goodness and grace when given the opportunity in word or deed.

 

Gracious Giving

All thanks be to God,

He’s faithful and good;

Choose call on His Name,

He’s hope understood.

In word and in deed,

Speak of what He’s done;

Proclaim His greatness,

The Most Holy One.

Oh Lord, let our lives,

Speak of what is true;

Of Your love and grace,

And faithfulness too.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are great and faithful and that we can call on Your Name. Thank You for all that You have done. Forgive us for not sharing of Your faithfulness with those around us, as they too, need to know of Your goodness and grace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will depend on You for the words and ways to share Your goodness with those around us. Show us how to love others in a way that clearly communicates Your heart for people. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks and praise for all of our days, and share of Your goodness and grace with those around us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Imitate Who We Appreciate

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. – (Ephesians 5:1, NLT)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. – (Ephesians 5:1, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. – (Ephesians 5:1, MSG)

 

Imitation is a form of admiration. As small children, we imitated those whom we most appreciated and the traits and strengths most desired to be duplicated. Once a person comes to know Jesus, a more defined set of ideals come into our consciousness. He who loved with His life and lived without sin, is the ultimate example of whom we ought to aspire to imitate. Through seeing and experiencing His love first hand, we learn how to love as we are loved. May we ever seek to imitate God in all that we do, so that our every word and deed is done in love, according to His good and perfect will.

 

In all that we do, Imitate What We Appreciate

Let’s imitate God;

The love that He gives,

To broken and flawed.

It is by His grace,

That we know He’s good;

It’s not what’s deserved,

Yet kindness withstood.

So let us go forth,

And love just like Him;

Imitate His grace,

Again and again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to imitate You as Your children, but You sent Your Son to show us the way and equip us to go forth to do as You do for us. Forgive us for attempting to imitate anyone other than You, as You alone are the only example that is free from all sin and without flaw. Teach us to look to Your example in all that we do, so that we may be tangible examples of Your goodness and love. Show us how to love as You love, so that all might see Your light that burns within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to imitate You in all that we do, so that others may come to know Your goodness and grace. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

Pay Back With Blessing

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NIV)

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with blessing. That is what God had called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, ERV)

 

We are called to respond in the opposite spirit when we are hurt by the words or actions of another. Though this contradicts the very nature within us, when we choose to bless when we want to curse, extend kindness when we’d rather kick, and offer hope where we’d rather return harm, so often the situation turns around and we are blessed by the outcome. Even when we are not, we can go forward knowing that we have walked in obedience with a clear conscience, rather than agonizing over what we should or should not have said or done. The ultimate outcome is in God’s hands, so we need not worry when blessing seems to do nothing to help. A prime place where this practice plays out in my life is in the classroom. When a student behaves poorly and I try to redirect with kindness and calm, identifying their strengths and abilities, often it is enough to get them to snap out of their funk and return to what is appropriate. We all have days where we choose poorly or are less than kind, and the very things that help us to reset and choose better are the blessings that come through the kindness of those around us. May we ever choose to extend blessings, even to those who wrong us, as God has chosen to give abundant blessings unto us.

 

Don’t repay evil, Aquiring Armor

With more of the same;

Firing back insults,

Or pointing out blame.

Instead, give blessings,

To all whom you meet;

This is our calling,

Mission to complete.

As we choose to bless,

We become blessed too;

Because we’ve obeyed,

As we’re called to do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness and blessings unto us. Thank You that You direct and instruct us to steer clear of retaliating for the harm that people bring our way, and that instead, You arm us with strength to bless those who insult or do wrong against us. Forgive us for the times that we have repaid wrong with wrong, or returned insults instead of extending blessings. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen for Your voice and heed Your instruction as to how we can bless when we feel wronged, and give grace instead of retaliation. Show us how to love sincerely, even those who insult us or irritate us, as each is Your treasured creation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ask You to bless those who bring us pain. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Joining Together

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, as I attended the memorial service for little Eli, the four-year-old grandson of my mom’s best friend, I was not sure what to expect, other than the weight of grief as we walked into the church. What I observed, was really this verse being made tangible. There were those who were greeting people in their shock and grief as they walked in, (and wisely, the ones who handed out the program for the memorial were the cousins of Eli, so we were greeted by sweet, smiling children), family members were mingling among those waiting to go inside to be seated, friends who had gathered from near and far, an auntie and uncle who spoke from the heart and demonstrated the depth of love that the family shared for Eli, and a pastor who beautifully balanced the celebration of who Eli was and the reality of how much missing and mourning would take place. Even after the service, different people operated in their various strengths. Some were in the kitchen preparing and serving, others were greeting people as they came into the reception area, still others were engaging in sweet conversation about how Eli had touched and blessed their lives, personally. Because they were surrounded and supported, I imagine that together, the family was able to get through far more than they would have thought possible, than had they been on their own. Though it was an agonizing reason to gather, there were tender moments of laughter and smiles at the memory of the incredible life this little boy lived in his four years. May we ever remember that we are each a part of the body, and what we contribute, helps the whole become more than it would be without us. We need each other; that is the way we have been designed.

 

No matter the why, Joining Together

We are meant to join;

Together as one,

As God does anoint.

For as a body,

With so many parts;

Together there’s strength,

To encourage hearts.

Each of us alone,

Find there is a lack;

But joined together,

We rise and come back.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that just as a body has many different parts with different functions, that we too, as the body of believers do as well. Thank You that You created us this way with intention. Thank You that when we come together and support one another with the gifts that You have granted, the entire body becomes stronger. Forgive us for not rising up and joining in to offer what You have given us to contribute. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would naturally extend Your heart and hand through who You have made us to be. Show us how to love those around us well, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we join with each other to become what we cannot be alone. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8