Author Archives: Misty Brooke

What’s in a Word?

What’s in a word?
Compassion and love.
Truth from above.

What’s in a word?
Someone’s last inkling of hope.
An encouraging rescue rope.

What’s in a word?
Pain and discouragement
Sear scars and lack sentiment.

What’s in a word?
Declaration of right or wrong.
The beauty and joy in a love song.

What’s in a word?
Anger and resentment
Which festers into bitterness.

What’s in a word?
The power to heal,
And the power to kill.

Words are used to comfort the broken-hearted.
Words are the knives that inflict pain.

Words revive the hopeless.
Words suffocate the strongest.

What is in your words?
Words are the swords that either build up a person or tear them down.

WORDS can be rearranged to SWORD
So, choose your words lovingly and thoughtfully.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Cruz, Unsplash

-Misty Brooke

The Joy of Analog Journaling

I don’t know about you, but I am a journal junkie. I LOVE journals. Perhaps it is par for the course as a natural-born writer. For me, there is something very intriguing and stimulating in the patterns of a page, the scent of a book, and the alluring glow of ink gliding along with the page as I create a letter, a word, a sentence. . .

The spark of anticipation prior to forming your words on paper is an exhilarating experience for me as well. Since I am daring to share my personal thoughts on the journaling experience, I shall disclose the long-time, ongoing dilemma, yet enjoyable moment, but sometimes a debilitating moment, prior to creating those first few letters. (Yes, I intended for that sentence to be a complicated, run-on ordeal. Ah, the art of expression!)

“Should I write in cursive for this entry? Or should I write in print? With this pen, would my penmanship fair better in cursive or in print? Is this post an artistic one that requires elegant penmanship or is it more serious, and the thoughts just need to be slapped down on paper? If they need to be quickly and haphazardly slapped down on paper, then I shall resort to my chicken scratch. Aesthetics should not matter in this scenario.”

Let’s be honest: If you’re a writer who meticulously maintains a traditional journal, then you also have the same internal dialogue. Well, unless you are not bothered or affected by the aesthetics of words on paper.

Analog journals are more personal than digital journals.

I know everyone has their personal preferences and some enjoy digital journals more than analog journals. However, in my experience, a real, tangible journal is more personal. When you physically create the letters on paper, it actively draws you into the moment. It has a way of forcing you to meet and reconcile with the thoughts in which you are forming onto paper.

It also adds a more personal touch by literally offering your future self or someone else a tangible item in which you have touched and expressed your unique penmanship. No one else in the world, past or present, will ever have your handwriting style. Sure, you may share similarities with others and even copy popular penmanship fads. However, your handwritten words are truly YOU. It is your genuine and authentic stamp on the world that says, “Yes, I have been here before. This is me.”

DIGITAL TYPE CANNOT REPLACE THE PERSONAL TOUCH OF AUTHENTIC PENMANSHIP.

The benefits of traditional journaling don’t stop there. It’s very therapeutic to place your thoughts on paper. You can curl up in your favorite chair, play your favorite music, and record the experiences of your day or record the thoughts and emotions you’re encountering in a certain situation. Handwriting journal entries forces you to ponder your thoughts in a slower manner than typing. With typing, you can speed through a paragraph while simultaneously thinking about other things. It becomes less personal and less therapeutic. Handwriting your thoughts takes you down a road of slow, meditative consideration of your feelings, emotions, and evaluations of life.

Another great benefit to analog journaling is the fact that you don’t need a password to obtain it! You don’t need an internet connection to obtain it! You don’t need a smartphone or laptop to obtain it! You don’t need that darn battery cord and a wall outlet to obtain it! A book is a book: It is as simple as that. You pick it up and take it with you wherever you want to go. If you want to go off the grid for a while, you can take your journal with you. The ONLY worry you have with an analog book is losing it.

I also enjoy collecting journals. Anytime I am shopping and come across a beautiful, unique journal, I purchase it. My friends and family often gift me with journals for Christmas or my birthday. Everyone who knows me personally knows that I have enjoyed writing in journals since I was eight years old.

It’s nice to read through old journals and observe your progress in life. You are reminded of happy moments that would have otherwise been forgotten. You are also reminded of sad moments that are sometimes better left forgotten but are a part of your history. You can see old lessons that were learned and appreciate the older patterns in your earlier life. Perhaps you enjoyed a particular friendship that is no longer a reality. Perhaps you enjoyed the daily habit of visiting your grandparents’ house everyday for their hugs, laughter, and endless supply of chocolate brownies. These are cherished memories in which you can revisit with the reading of an old journal.

Remember this: What may seem like a boring journal entry such as recording what you ate that day, who you spoke to, or where you visited, will one day be a treasure to you. So don’t refrain from writing about your experiences of simpler days.

One of my favorite authors is Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m sure you know of her from the Little House on the Prairie books. She meticulously kept a journal her entire life. What if she had never kept a journal? Would she have written the popular and beloved Little House series? That’s just some food for thought.

Have a great day, friends!

Misty Brooke

Which Church is Actually the “True Church”? How God Cleared My Confusion.

Before I came to understand the Scriptures, I stayed in a continuous state of spiritual confusion. I had several translations of the Bible: King James Version, English Standard Version, and a paraphrasing of the Bible called, “The Message”. You would think that from a variety of translations, that I would have understood one of them. Unfortunately, I did not understand the Scriptures as I should have from those translations and thus, I lost the desire to try and understand them. I was lazy in my faith in that I relied on everyone and everything BUT the Bible to give me God’s Holy Word. I gained most of my knowledge about God from sermons, pastors, Christian influences, Christian books, traditions, and word of mouth.

I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, and I still attend a baptist church. However, it no longer has anything to do with church traditions. It has everything to do with knowing God’s Word. I am a different Christian today than I once was.

When you desire the truth enough, you will put forth the effort to find it. I simply did not understand who God was in the way I should have. I had developed an ungodly fear of Him that is contrary to what the Scriptures describe. This fear led to other fears until it eventually branched out like roots underneath a tree.

When you do not understand something, you can develop a fear of it; a fear of the unknown, so to speak. To my credit, I did try to find a translation of the Bible that was easier for me to understand, but it still did no good. What did I do? I started to research other church denominations and visit those churches.

I left the baptist church for a few years and joined a non-denominational church. There, they spoke in tongues, raised their hands in worship, wore “cool” clothes, and spoke on the gift of prophecy. This was intriguing to me as we did not do such things in the baptist church. I thought that, perhaps, the baptist church had it wrong, and the non-denominational church had it right. So, I joined the choir, got involved in other ministry activities, and enjoyed worshipping God more freely with fellow believers. Or so I thought. Once the emotional high of something new wore off, I was still left with an emptiness that is hard to explain. I still had unanswered questions.

I signed up for the church’s Christian counseling to see what could have been the cause for my confusion. I explained to the kind counselor that I did not have the assurance of my salvation. She said I exemplified all evidence of being truly saved and that it was the devil. Even though I was doubtful about it, I accepted her analysis and shrugged off the daunting thoughts about my salvation.

Another friend of mine begged me to try out his church: the church of Christ. Now, let me tell you, I had heard some strange things about the church of Christ and was unsure. Despite any reservation, I remained open-minded and attended for a few months. The sermons were great, but the lack of music saddened me. My entire life, I’ve felt the calling to music ministry, more specifically, with the piano. Yet, the church of Christ did not allow musical instruments of any kind. This bothered me greatly. How was I going to serve and worship God in a church where I could not honor my calling? I did not understand. Visiting the pastor’s house one Sunday after church, I asked him why their denomination did not believe in the use of musical instruments. The book of Psalms is bathed in using musical instruments to worship God! He explained their convictions are based on the fact that Christ never specified in the Scriptures to worship God with musical instruments. I debated with the pastor in hopes of convincing him otherwise. But hey, did I really believe that I could change an entire denomination’s conviction on the matter? I still cannot believe I argued with him about it. Needless to say, I never returned to the church of Christ denomination. Although, I respect and admire their devotion to God and teaching His Word.

Another year went by, and I still wasn’t satisfied. I began dating my husband, and he introduced me to his church – a reformed baptist church. I thought to myself, “Great, maybe they will have some answers for me about my confusion.” I met with the pastor of his church and shared with him my lack of assurance for my salvation and expressed how my confusion on which church had the truth of Christ. He gave me the same, unsatisfying answer the non-denominational church had: “You show evidence of being a born-again believer. Confusion is the source of your lack of assurance. We are the true church.”

I know what you’re thinking, “Unsatisfied answer? Two churches told you that you were in good standing with God! Why did that not relieve your concerns?” Because of the differences in every denomination, I did not have trust in the church to give me the assurance of my salvation. Looking back, I now know that I was looking for the church to give me hope of my salvation instead of the Word of God.

As you probably guessed, I attended the reformed baptist church for a year and moved on. Something still did not sit right with me about my salvation and faith.

Two years after I left the reformed baptist church, my mother informed me that she had left the southern baptist church to join the catholic church. I panicked at first! I had heard so many sketchy things about the Catholic Church. They possibly could not have true Christians! Or so I thought. I eased my mind by remembering the one year I had played piano at a methodist church. The methodist church has some similarities to the traditions of the catholic church. (Yes, I joined the methodist church for a while as well.)

It really complicated things spiritually for me when my mother joined the Catholic Church. She spoke about how they prayed the rosary, talked to Mary, and didn’t eat meat on Fridays. My spiritual confusion started to spiral out of control. She talked about purgatory which contradicted the Protestant Church, and how the Catholics taught that THEY were the true church. Here’s the thing: Every single denomination I visited taught that they were the true church. Every one of them taught that Christ was the way to God, but only their traditions and beliefs were the true way.

I became curious about the Catholic Church and purchased the book on the catechism. I studied their views on things and compared them to the other churches. Then I became overwhelmed and even questioned the existence of God. Then I researched the other churches again and their views and interpretations of the Bible.

Then, there was the BIG question: Why did the Catholic Church have more books in the Bible than the protestant churches?

Whew was I troubled by the lack of solidarity! What was the truth? It was questions like these that fueled my desire to further research for truth.

I found myself researching websites and television documentaries that discussed the scientific proof of God’s existence. Thank the Lord for showing me those websites and documentaries as they helped get me on the right path. For instance, the sun is in the absolute perfect position for life to be sustained on Earth. Should the Earth or the sun move slightly from its current positions, life would cease to exist. Everything in the universe is mathematically organized. This cannot happen by chance. This realization taught me that God is truly real. Now to find which church had it right!

Believe it or not, I returned to the reformed baptist church but a different church. I sought Biblical counseling and was reminded of God’s holiness and sovereignty. This helped me to view the Bible in its proper authoritative manner: It is the Word of God.

During this time, I stumbled across the New Living Translation Bible in my husband’s office. I had never looked at that translation before. I read a few pages and was amazed! It was as if the sentences were jumping out of the Bible and into my heart. I understood the content better than I had ever understood it before. I couldn’t get enough of it! I wanted to know more about God’s thoughts and what He had to say about everything. Even Scriptures I had read my entire life suddenly a had different meaning to them. Simply put, I finally understood them!

The more I read the Bible, the more my confusion on the churches and God began to clear up. Most importantly, I was able to see FOR MYSELF what God had to say about salvation. No longer do I lack the assurance of my salvation. God’s Word clears up any and all confusion when you understand what you are reading.

One day, as I was reading through the book of Romans, I came across Scriptures that answered my questions on the different denominations and their traditions. Take a look at it below:

“Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let Him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter. Those who have a special day for worshipping the Lord are trying to honor Him. Those who eat all kinds of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who won’t eat everything also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we are not our own masters when we live or when we die. While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord.” Romans 14:1-8.

When I read those verses, not only did things make more sense, it convicted me over my lack of knowledge. God had corrected me. Just because the non-denominational churches pray differently than the baptist churches, doesn’t mean they are wrong for it. Just because the Catholic Church frowns upon eating meat on certain days whereas other churches feast on everything doesn’t mean they are wrong for doing so. Just because the church of Christ chooses to not worship with musical instruments whereas the other churches do does not mean they are wrong in doing so.

Everyone is following their personal convictions on the matter. They are doing their best to HONOR AND LOVE GOD. According to the Scriptures, a church is true when they teach that the only way to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Never will you find a perfect, sinless church. Do you know why? Because the church is filled with sinful humans! It is our duty to read and know the Word of God and to teach it to those who do not know God. Our job is not to find the “right” church as it is to find Christ in that church. How closely does the church abide by the Scriptures? That question is key in choosing your church.

And to anyone who has been struggling with finding the truth about Christ, my advice is to always read the Bible in a translation that you can understand. You cannot learn from a book in which you cannot read the language. I don’t know about you, but I think the English language has evolved quite a bit since the early 1600s. I’m just saying.

Photo Credit: “North Church Steeple” by jcbwalsh is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Showing Grace and Love to Difficult People

“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26. NLT.

Whenever I am struggling to deal with difficult people or complicated social situations, I read this Scripture from 2 Timothy. It is a reminder for me to extend grace to those around me just as Christ shows me grace daily. I know I have been difficult to deal with at times! We all have!

How do you endure those who have obstinate personalities and march around society with unyielding attitudes and stare down their noses at others in continuous judgment? You know the type I am referring to. Some of these people are adamantly against God and blame the church for their hatred. Others are modern-day Pharisees who profess to know everything about God and seemingly have the Bible memorized and speak the most eloquent prayers.

But wait a minute. . . someone who is adamantly against God and someone who is seemingly for God cannot possibly have anything in common, right?

WRONG.

First, let me say before going any further that, if we are honest, many born-again Christians were one of these two persons prior to receiving God’s saving grace. A prime example from Scriptures is the apostle Paul who, prior to knowing Christ, was an executioner to Christians. His life mission was to tear down the Christian faith. It was not until Christ interrupted his march to the next city that he became a true believer. He saw Christ, literally, and that day, his life mission reversed. He spent the rest of his life teaching others about Christ and His gift of salvation to all.

So, what could these two persons possibly have in common?

Sin.

Such folks are often quick to anger, stir up strife, harbor hatred and grudges in their hearts, speak foolishly with little to no self-control, and trouble and controversy seem to follow them everywhere. I am not referring to once-in-awhile slip-ups that all of us do from time to time. I am referring to those who exemplify these negative traits as their routine lifestyle. In other words, a bad tree does not produce good fruit.

In Galatians 5:19-21 NLT, it says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasures, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. . .”

And. . . “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving because their minds and consciences are defiled. Such people claim they know God, but they deny Him by the way they live. . .” Titus 1:15-16. NLT.

God’s word teaches us how to discern from those who are truly of Christ and those who are not.

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:22-26. NLT.

And let me share one more Scripture while we are on this topic:

“You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature.” Ephesians 2:2-3. NLT.

I share these Bible verses to say this: You were once lost but now found. When people sin against you or are difficult to encounter, remind yourself to be a light to those in darkness. You do not offer any light by being vengeful or unkind in return. Behaving as the world does will never pull someone from the blindness of the world and into the light of Christ.

How could it?

When they look at you, they won’t see Christ but the world. And when they see the world in you as you quote many Bible verses and make judgments, their misunderstanding of Christ becomes reinforced, their anger toward God becomes reinforced, and their desire to stay away from “church” and anything “religious” becomes reinforced.

Ironically, the same concept is true for those who behave as the Pharisees did. Those who believe they are saved in the eyes of God because they have been deceived by religious traditions and societal pressures. They have managed to read the Bible without fully understanding it. They don’t fully understand the need for salvation and often get stuck in the mindset of, “I’m a good person.” Thus, true repentance has yet to be achieved because they have not yet experienced a true understanding of God’s word and have not had a genuine acknowledgment of their sin depravity. They become enslaved to pride and obsessed with religion. The secular world often refers to these persons as “narcissists”.

These people must be dealt with in the same way as previously mentioned. Let your light shine by leading by example. They expect you to retaliate, to rage, to rant, to seek vengeance. They won’t expect you to show kindness, joy, grace, mercy, and self-control.

Persistence is key for learning new habits and new ways. When someone continually sees another react through these behaviors, it will intrigue them. Perhaps, in time, as stated in 2 Timothy, God will change their hearts.

Clearly, no one should voluntarily remain in situations where their lives are threatened. That’s not the scenario to which I am referring to. But we should work on the balance of showing difficult people grace while not allowing them to cause destruction in our own path.

Social media is one medium where the world has poured every ounce of division, anger, hatred, pride, slander, and more on whoever they see fit. People who lack self-control showcase their dirty laundry, slander, and unfiltered, sinful emotions for the world to see to demoralize and dehumanize the person or subject in which they hold angst toward. Some people are like loose cannons on social media and do not show one iota of humiliation, embarrassment, or remorse for their actions. Others do so through more passive-aggressive measures by sharing memes with targeted arguments or phrases that are intended for the eyes of the offender.

What good does that behavior bring? Nothing.

Many believe that social media is the problem. No. Sin is the problem.

Social media has brought the world closer together than it has ever been before. It brings many sins to the surface and places them on a pedestal for all the world to see. And as more of these evil behaviors are placed on worldly pedestals, the more they will be accepted. The focus on self has become exacerbated whereas the focus on God has grown dimmer. On social media, the door is wide open for anyone to tear down anyone they so choose.

The apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.”

In other words, this has not taken God by surprise. After all, this is why mankind needed a Savior to begin with.

So, what do you do when difficult people place you in difficult situations?

Pray about it. Refer to the Bible. Seek godly counsel. Do not stumble to their level. Always show self-control, kindness, love, patience, and grace. You cannot control the actions and behaviors of others, but you can control YOUR actions and behaviors. Avoid participation in their bad behavior. Do your best to shield yourself from their attacks.

For example, if a loved one creates strife on Twitter, have no part in it. Speak to them in private about the situation. Do not retaliate by creating an angry tweet or a cringy passive-aggressive tweet. That only stirs more strife and fuels the fire. Should the person continue to behave badly in this form, disassociate from them altogether on social media. It doesn’t matter if they are a close friend, family member, co-worker or spouse. You do not have to participate in another person’s sin.

Steer clear of people who always seek vengeance on others and stir up controversy. And if you cannot physically steer clear of them, protect yourself by stepping away and confronting them privately. Should that not work, seek godly counsel. Most importantly, pray persistently about the situation and continue to lead by example. Show the other person grace without condoning the bad behavior.

You know the real problem: They are held captive by the chains of sin, enslaved to their vices, and blinded to their spiritual state. Perhaps through much prayer and them continually seeing Christ’s love and light through you, they will desire to seek God like ever before. Love really does go a long way. Love heals. Most importantly, God heals.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16. NLT.

Don’t give up on your loved ones. God didn’t give up on you.

Memories and Milestones