Neisha-Ann Thompson, Ph.D

"Give me a Word to sustain the weary; awaken my ear to listen." - Isaiah 50:4

Tag: truth

Step Into The Light

As we bask in this the first day of a new year, I wanted to share a Word that has been on my heart concerning the Body of Christ.

John 3:20-21For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
1 John 1:7 … If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

These scriptures confirm two things: (1) we can’t fellowship with each other while in darkness, and (2) it is as we walk in the Light of God’s Word AND fellowship with one another, that our sins are cleansed.

For 2015, God is calling for His Body to be united in love, and for this to happen, we have to first be willing to be exposed and vulnerable with each other. The scriptures are clear – the reason we don’t have fellowship with each other – the reason so many broken relationships exist in the Body of Christ – is because we’re not walking in the Light (i.e. truth, authenticity, integrity, love, etc.). Fellowship in the Light involves vulnerabilities and exposure; and takes great courage and strength.

The Bible refers to “the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ref. Ephesians 5:11), clearly signaling to us that nothing done in the dark will bear fruit. Our relationships cannot develop in darkness (i.e. dishonesty, dissimulation, denial, etc.), as true fellowship is hindered and blocked where there is no Light.

Our fear of exposure (and the possible rejection that often comes with exposure) as we attempt to form meaningful relationships, is completely understandable. Perhaps this is why we choose to remain in the dark and consequently why relationships in the Body are suffering. We fear being exposed, when in reality we all are naked, and have been, ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Ref. Genesis 3:6-7). “Darkness” for us can be compared to the proverbial “leaves” that Adam and Eve used to cover themselves back then. And just like them, our covering up and hiding (in the dark or via “leaves”) has resulted in broken fellowship in our relationships with each other and with God. Furthermore, all this hiding and covering up has, as the scripture suggests, prevented our own sins from being cleansed (1 John 1:7b).

My friends, it’s time to be ALL God has called us to be in EVERY area of our lives! I challenge you, as you move into 2015, to step into the Light. Know that everythingabout you — that being in relationship could potentially expose — has already been covered by the blood of Jesus. We can embrace our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ knowing that our sins are being covered and cleansed as we walk together in the Light of His love. Let 2015 be the year of the Body of Christ truly reflecting Ephesians 4:16 – “being joint and knit together by what every joint supplies…. causing growth of the Body for the edifying of itself in love!

Prayer: Lord, give us willing hearts to risk the vulnerability that comes from walking and fellowshipping with each other in Your Light. Let us know today that You will cover what “leaves” and “darkness” cannot, and that You will cleanse us as we reveal ourselves to You and to each other. Father, as You restore in 2015 ALL we’ve lost (Joel 2:25-26), we thank You for restoring relationships in the Body of Christ. Amen.

YIC,
Neisha

Is It Worth It?

What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? Whatcould you ever trade your soul for? – Mark 8:36-37 MSG

I received a devotional text message this morning that included the abovementioned scripture and it got me thinking… How many times do we lose ourselves in our personal pursuits? How many times do we betray the integrity of our hearts to get to where we think we want to be, only to discover that the destination wasn’t worth the journey? There comes a time, after an extended period of warning, that God actually leaves us to be consumed by the “thing” we refuse to surrender. I think this is the true essence of Mark 8:36-37. The reflective, yet rhetorical, questions posed serve the dual purpose of examination and warning.

I, like every one of you, have prayer requests sitting on the altar that have yet to be answered by God….. or perhaps have been answered, but have not yet manifested in this physical (natural) world. I have come to accept, however, that God knows everything and moves in accordance to this higher knowledge. He tells us in His Word that only He knows the plans He has for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). So, with this truth in mind, I have to really process Mark’s questions. What if I do get everything I want and find that I really didn’t want them? Or that they really don’t satisfy/fulfill me? Or worse, what if I get everything I want and find that it changes who I am….who God intended me to be? Would it really be worth it at that point? Would I truly be satisfied and fulfilled having attained all I desired?

At a certain point in your walk with God, you have to just accept that He knows best and that not everything you desire/want is good FOR you. Not because something is good TO you, means it’s good FOR you. We have to realize that not all our desires are in line with what God wants for us. That is why we have to be careful of misinterpreting the scripture in Psalm 37:4, which states “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Too often we take that to mean that whatever we desire, once we delight ourselves in God, He’ll give it to us. We have to be careful of that interpretation because our desires come from the heart; that place the Bible calls “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). So, how can we be so sure that the desires that we are delighting in God to receive, are actually pleasing to God? The true revelation behind Psalm 37:4 is this – If we delight ourselves in the Lord, then HE will GIVE our heart what it should desire. He will literally place a desire (for whatever He wants) in our hearts. Picture God handing your heart a box marked “desire”. That’s the latent essence of that scripture. And once we are delighting in Him, the desires He gives us will bring us more fulfillment, peace, and satisfaction than our own “deceitful and wicked” heart-generated desires could ever bring.

What does it profit you to get everything you want, to please people, to advance in all your pursuits, to check everything off your bucket list, if it causes you to move away from who you are at your core, or causes you to lose the connection you once had with God? Do you have real peace, or are you just comfortable? My friends, I have found (from personal experience) that NOTHING is worth “losing your soul” for. Absolutely nothing.

Prayer: Lord, we’re often disappointed and devastated when we don’t get what we want or what we have worked hard for. Sometimes we venture outside of your will just to pursue things we think will help satisfy our flesh or give us a sense of worth. Help us to realize that although getting our heart-generated desires may bring us comfort and perhaps even the approval and acceptance of man, it will never bring us true peace and ultimate fulfillment. It profits us nothing to gain everything we (think we) want and simultaneously lose ourselves…and our connection to You. Give us the strength to make the Grace-afforded trade of our desires for Yours. Amen.

YIC,
Neisha

The Soul Yearns For Authenticity… Don’t Starve It

Authenticity does not conceal real feelings to keep up a false identity. Transparentbehavior is comfortable being real.” – Excerpt from Wisdom Hunters Devotional

It has been said that “the best predictor of current or future behavior is past behavior.” In other words, you get a sense of the way people will behave and respond to a particular situation by examining their behavior patterns over time. While I agree with this perspective, I also realize that the complexity of human behavior involves so many motivating factors that this thought cannot be taken as doctrine. What I think is even more important than a pattern of behavior is the authenticity of the behavior.

There Can Be No Authenticity Without Transparency
Any behavior/act, even if unauthentic, can become a pattern if it is positively reinforced and/or if the purpose of the behavior (or motive behind it) is accomplished. For this reason, we cannot assume an individual’s behavior is authentic (true), regardless of how often they behave in a particular manner. After all, many of us have become pros at the “roles” we play and the masks we wear. What aids true authenticity is transparency. In your relationships, how transparent are you about your feelings, motivations, fears, doubts, hopes, expectations…? Authenticity can become a behavior (character) pattern if transparency is regularly practiced. Now, I know that this may be challenging because trust has to be established before transparency can occur. And unfortunately that’s one of the biggest issues in relationships today: lack of trust.

It Takes Trust To Be Transparent
How can I be transparent with someone I don’t trust? And how can I be truly authentic with someone I can’t be transparent with?

There is a level of vulnerability that we risk every time we are transparent and whether or not we continue in transparency is based on the response we get to this vulnerability. Have you ever shared your feelings with someone…your genuine feelings/motives/expectations (however trivial or insignificant)…and they were dismissive, nonchalant, or unresponsive? How did it make you feel? I think if we used our past experiences of being hurt to positively guide us in how to treat others, our relationships would get an extreme makeover. If I remember how it felt to have my honest feelings dismissed or ignored, then I’ll be more mindful the next time someone trusts me enough to be vulnerable and transparent with me about their feelings. That’s the first step towards building a safe place of trust.

Authenticity is a Process Aided By Vulnerability
Instead of covering up or hiding your feelings in response to someone’s hurtful response to your transparency, try to press forward in remaining true to the process of authenticity. I’m not implying that you share your heart in reckless abandon with everyone you come in contact with; but rather, don’t allow one person’s harsh response (or lack of response) to block your progress through your process. The truth is someone’s negative reaction to your transparency is often a reflection of their own inability to face the unpleasant areas of themselves. I’ve found that our wounds often remind others of the wounds they’ve suppressed and tried desperately to forget. In dismissing you, they’re really dismissing the parts of themselves they haven’t yet accepted and can’t yet tolerate. So, stay true to your own process.

You Win Some, You Learn Some
Everything we experience in life serves as a lesson. If we focus more on the lesson than the pain, we’ll never lose. More importantly, keep your eyes fixed on what you want to accomplish for you and don’t allow outside influences to hinder that process. For me, authenticity is the desired goal. I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin and in claiming all the parts of me – ugly and beautiful. If I bring my authentic self into a situation and I am not received, that may impact the dynamics of my interaction with that particular person, but it will not prevent me from moving forward in authenticity. Don’t allow one person’s negative response to change you. Self-actualization is a journey and the more authentic you become (i.e. the more your real and ideal selves align), the closer you are to your desired goal…. the discovery of the you that you truly are, underneath it all. That’s the only you worth really sharing with others.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be our true authentic selves. The men and women You created us to be. Help us see that even though we risk vulnerability every time we’re transparent, we indirectly forfeit something far greater when we choose to not be authentic – a deeper level of intimacy with our significant others. And though the choice is ultimately ours, please help us to choose Your way. Amen.

YIC,
Neisha

Hiding: From cover to Cover

The game of hide-and-seek originated in the garden of Eden. It involved two people hiding from a God who sought after them. Their approach to hiding involved two aspects, which are still quite common today.

Firstly, they ran for cover (i.e. a physical place to hide). I cannot imagine Adam and Eve standing in the middle of the garden in open view, considering the sin they just committed. No, they found a place to hide – behind a tree, a rock, in the bushes, somewhere. Quite similar to what we do today. When we’ve sinned or feel guilt/shame for an act we’ve committed or a mistake we’ve made, we literally remove ourselves from certain places – we go into hiding. We may refrain from attending church or other gatherings with people who know us and have high expectations of us, and from those who would hold us accountable. Some of us go deep into hiding, confining ourselves to our homes, rooms, closets, etc. It is no different from what Adam and Eve did.

Secondly, they not only ran FOR cover but they tried TO cover their sins (i.e. not wanting their sins to be exposed). In their day they used leaves and figs…. in present day we use different masks, relationships, false witnesses, lies, church (and other) positions, defense mechanisms, and a plethora of wrong/harmful practices. The motive is still the same though – to cover up or hide our sin.

Despite our modern day take on hide-and-seek, the “game” initiated in the garden of Eden continues today. Same script, different cast. We’re still sinners hiding from a God who continues to seek us, to reason with us despite all we’ve done (Isaiah 1:18). You see, we’ve given up our original Covering and have instead tried to find other covers for our sins. We blew off His Cover, and in order to find us He now has to blow ours!

We often don’t like the process of “being found” or in present day terminology “being found out”, because it involves exposure. We’ve become so accustomed to hiding in dark places that the Light is almost blinding. We consider this process painful…. oblivious to the fact that more damage could be done to us if we remained in the dark. Fact of the matter is, hiding from God is like standing behind transparent glass and foolishly hoping not to be seen (Psalm 139:7-12). You see, God’s love is a love that cannot operate in dissimulation. It BLOWS our cover so He can BE our Cover! His ultimate aim is our protection.

The question today is, which would you rather: Having the mask ripped from your face so you can finally breathe, or continuing to suffocate under the guise of having it all together? Would you rather stay hidden in the darkness of condemnation, or step into the Light of God’s love and grace? Do you want the tedious job of having to hide all the time… changing places and faces, or would you rather have your sins be hidden for you and completely annulled? Do you want to continue living a lie, or are you ready to embrace truth? The choice seems pretty clear to me.

So, my brothers and sisters (in my King James Version voice), here’s the conclusion of the whole matter — Although we ditched our Covering to hide under covers that really don’t cover, if we’re willing to blow this temporary cover we’ll have the opportunity to be eternally covered by The Ultimate Coverer!

[cues organ]
Is there one?

YIC,
Neisha

© 2020 Neisha-Ann Thompson, Ph.D

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