When Looks are Deceiving

By Linda Tancs

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper that causes serious damage including oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling and dieback in trees, vines, crops and many other types of plants. Arguably, it’s a very attractive insect, which is why it’s so disheartening that something so pretty could be such a destructive nuisance. Looks are, indeed, sometimes deceiving. Insects like the lanternfly remind me of the Bible’s warnings against deception. We’re warned, for instance, that it’s foolhardy to think that bad company doesn’t rub off on us (1 Corinthians 15:33) or to think that we won’t reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) or that empty words will yield fruit (Ephesians 5:6). The key to avoiding deception is discernment (John 7:24).

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES (a teaching and speaking ministry), Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

C’mon Get Happy

By Linda Tancs

During trying times it’s hard to smile, much less be happy. But that’s especially when one needs to remember that happiness is more than just an emotion—it’s a state of mind. Choose to be happy. You reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).

Take a cue from the Nordic countries. Apparently, they consistently place in the Top 10 of the World Happiness Report. And they’re happy to share their secret. In short, they embrace mindfulness (an awareness of the present moment), kinship and life’s simple pleasures.

Sounds a lot like Jesus’s approach toward life, doesn’t it? He mastered the art of being fully present and commanded those around him to be attentive, active and alert (Mark 13:37). In so doing, we’re more able to resist the temptation to react to circumstances that would otherwise steal our joy (Matthew 26:41). Kinship is a source of joy. In Jesus’s ministry, kinship in the sense of community, or belonging, is a central theme (especially as detailed in the Gospel of Luke). Jesus instructs his followers in Matthew 16:24 to put the needs of others above their own interests. In other words, don’t be selfish. Taking every opportunity to find kinship with others increases happiness, as Paul told the Philippians. Simply put, you can’t be both selfish and happy. And if you want to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, then be still (Psalm 46:10), don’t worry (Matthew 6:25-27) and be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).