On Choosing Truth

On Choosing Truth | TeresaTysinger.com

I’ve been seeing a wonderful, divinely-matched-with-me therapist for several months now. She has helped me work through a lot of baggage that I didn’t even realize I’d been carrying. Generally speaking, she approaches our time together with kindness, compassion, and patience. She gently guides me to discover things on my own. Except for those times I’m just not getting it. In these instances, she hurdles truth bombs at me with the grace and strength of an Olympic shot-putter. A smirk and crooked eyebrow raised heavenward follow her overhanded delivery of truth and I know it’s time to stop talking and listen.

Have you ever realized how stubborn we humans are? Beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we are told things just to turn around and test the truth for ourselves. “You say I can’t have this fruit? Nah, it’ll be fine.” We grow into taller, more educated toddlers who need daily reminders of basic truths. God loves us fiercely (John 3:16). With Christ on our side we can do really hard things (Philippians 4:13). All of our mistakes and sins can be completely forgiven (1 John 1:9). We are never too far away that God can’t reach us (John 10:27-28, Joshua 1:9, Matthew 28:20). At our lowest moments, God not only is with us but God can take even our hardest, most awful emotions (Romans 8:26).

But something else has dawned on me recently. God’s steady, constant voice is often a whisper, even when he wants to get our attention.

Then He said [to Elijah], “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

But, the voice of the Enemy is different — persistent, incessant, annoying, hard to ignore. And one of the hardest things about being given free will is that we must CHOOSE to listen for God’s whispers over the noise of lies.

"We must choose to listen for God's whispers over the noise of the Enemy's lies." | Quotes from TeresaTysinger.com

This quote from Jess Connolly stopped me in my tracks last week. “Don’t play telephone with the Enemy’s lies.” I sat with the following words in her Instagram post and let it sink in…

"Don't play telephone with the Enemy's lies." - Jess Connolly

You know when you hear that horrible thought? The one that’s so obviously a lie from the actual enemy of your soul? Maybe it comes via a thought, a spoken word from another human, or maybe even your own mouth. But as soon as you hear it: you know – this is some CRAZY STUFF that should not be repeated.
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But you know what I find myself doing? Repeating it. Telling someone else what I heard, processing how it made me feel, journaling about how real the lie seems even though I KNOW it’s not true. I was doing this just last night during worship, playing the refrain of a lie that I knew to be a lie – but still thinking on how painful it was, rather than thinking about how good my God is. I wanted to say the lie out loud, I wanted someone else to hear how bad it hurt – but I already knew THE TRUTH. And Holy Spirit said: You don’t have to play telephone with the enemy’s lies. You don’t have to pass that message around. You KNOW it’s some crazy trash, so why don’t you just stop thinking about it and replace it with some truth.
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We’re not always going to be able to tell truth from lies on our own, sometimes it takes the Word of God or a friend getting in our face and reminding us of the truth – but let’s stop playing telephone with the lies that we KNOW are lies. They just get murkier and more busted as we pass them on, replay them AND as we relay them. If it doesn’t line up with what God has written over you: stop repeating it. If it goes against the knowledge of a good and gracious Father who made you in His image: you can keep talking about how it makes you feel or you can just replace it with some TRUTH. The telephone game never did anybody any good and at some point if we want to live in the light, we’re going to have to put true words in our mouth and have our minds stayed on Him. Amen?

I’m tempted to outline my list of lies for you, but they DO NOT BEAR REPEATING. That gives them fuel for constructing walls high around and within my heart. But, no, that’s a place where God dwells. A place He keeps wide open and swept clean. I’m currently working on handwriting the Truths of God’s Word that whisper of my priceless worth like the lullaby of a mama rocking her treasure to sleep.

Only your whispers, God.

The Story-Arc of Holy Week

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Depending on your faith journey and where you choose to worship, you may or may not observe Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I’ve grown up in churches that offer worship services for both days along the journey to Easter. Maundy Thursday observes the night Jesus sits with his disciples in the upper room for their last supper together. He washes their feet in an act of service and gives the new commandment to love one another as he loved us. Good Friday marks the day Jesus’ crucifixion. Each of these days has been incredibly (and increasingly) poignant to me in a way I’m just now realizing. Continue reading

Litter & Faith: A Christmas Lesson

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Wham!

Today, I got knocked up side the head with the hard reality of being a flawed follower of Christ. All thanks to a homeless man. It still hurts, but the bruise is around my tender soul instead of my hard head.

And, I’m so thankful.

I stopped for lunch at a local bistro. Sitting against the alley wall of the next building was a homeless man. Our eyes met. Embarrassment, expectancy, and roughened pride made a strange concoction in his dark eyes. He asked for change. I had none. He asked for a cup of coffee instead. Yes, of course. Minutes later while waiting for my turkey panini, I walked the hot cup out to him and we exchanged Merry Christmases.

I said a prayer for the man as I ate my lunch. I hoped the coffee, such a simple gesture, would nourish him somehow. Although not terribly sacrificial, I helped how I could in the moment.

Leaving the place a bit later, my eyes fell in the direction of where the man was. Gone. I looked down the alley, hoping for sight of him. Nothing. Then I saw it. The empty coffee cup left littered on the ground where he had sat.

Enjoyed for what was needed in the moment, then discarded haphazardly.

My first reaction was one of frustration. How could he just leave the trash behind? A dumpster sat mere feet from him. How ungrateful.

Minutes later, I pulled into my parking spot at work and sat stunned by a striking parallel. I am that man. Instead of a cup of coffee, my gift was salvation. Instead of myself — a privileged, educated, employed woman — Jesus is the giver. How often I take only a fleeting moment to partake of the promises of Christ before tossing it aside to litter the peripheral of my life.

How many empty cups of peace, joy, forgiveness, comfort, and hope lay cast away by my hand?

I’m still a bit breathless with shame. Do you know the feeling? That adrenaline-induced panicky feeling when you’re caught doing something you shouldn’t. You know better, Teresa.

It’s Christmas week. As I regain my breath, I am grateful for this timely reminder. I pray to be more mindful of the gift of Jesus. I want to treasure him. I want to wear his grace proudly and let it shine in a way that makes admirers ask, “Oh, where’d you get that? It’s beautiful.” It’s no secret. No coupon required. No exclusive prices – freely given through grace.

Merry Christmas, friend. I pray you remember the priceless value of God’s gift to you this Christmas and always.

Do you have questions about Jesus and the grace I’m talking about? I’d be so excited and glad to talk to you about it. Just leave me a comment.

Peace.

The Not-So-Secret Recipe

 

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Preparing to marry my groom over thirteen years ago and start a household of my own, I approached my mom and excitedly asked her if I could finally have her famous pumpkin pie recipe. Through giggles, she leaned close and whispered, “Just follow the recipe on the back of a can of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree.” Imagine my surprise!

All those years, all those holidays. Family, friends, and co-workers clamored for one of her pies. What was her trick? Secret ingredient? All that time, no secret at all.

As the holidays approach, like every other year, I think back to this silly moment shared with my mom and my heart smiles.

But you know what dawns on me today? If we’re not careful, our faith is much like this recipe my mom held. She chose not to share, but it was available and accessible to all. Please don’t get me wrong — I am in no way comparing my mom’s fun “secret keeping” to choosing not to share her faith. She’s a great example of living out her faith every day through service and kindness to others.

But am I keeping secret the best recipe for grace, salvation, never-ending love? Imagine a similar conversation to the one I had as a bride with my mom:

Friend who doesn’t know Jesus: “Your life is so good, so happy. Can I have the recipe?”

Me: (Giggle) “Just open the pages of your Bible. It’s all right there.”

Wow. Right?

Chances are, someone won’t likely come up to you so readily and offer you the chance to share the recipe for eternal life in Christ. Am I allowing people to witness my life but not have access to the ingredients I know make up the best, most satisfying dish out there? Salvation.

I pray that God shows me each and every opportunity to pass along the not-so-secret recipe he’s shown me. And that I do so before someone has to ask for it.

Maybe through my writing (I pray). Maybe through my friendships (I pray). Maybe through my smiles to strangers (I pray).

But what more can I do? What can you do? May these holidays be full of recipe sharing of all kinds!

NO-vember

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Two years ago I participated in National Novel Writer’s Month. Participants of NaNoWriMo commit to writing a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November. A few days early, I celebrated having written my first novel. Today, that novel is in the hands of agents who may be able to help me see it on book shelves one day. It was an experience I’ll never forget. NaNoWriMo pushed me to accomplish a dream I never thought possible as a mom of a youngster and a wife of a husband who worked really long hours. Continue reading

Scared of the Dark

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At work, I park on the side of our large building and, upon leaving, usually make a stop in the seldom-used restroom near that side door. Today before leaving for lunch, I used the same restroom and flicked the light switch off as I left. Remembering I left my keys on the bench outside the stalls, I went back in without turning the light on. The door closed most of the way behind me and darkness enveloped me. Continue reading