Words…

I have preached a sermon on this topic or words. I have a 7 year old son, so I share about this all the time at home. But I’ve never notices how amazing this verse is to go with this topic of words.

Have you heard this before? Yes
Do you need to hear it again? Yes
Will you hear it this time? TBD

“There is one who’s rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

For a guy who jacked up so much of his life, Solomon was a very wise dude. Most of us relate to this statement from the stand point that we have had someone use words toward us, that hurt. Like sword thrusts. We remember those times. They take our breath away.

Few of us relate to this verse because we recognize we have been the one who’s rash words hurt. I was/am the king of this. I used to be so good at figuring out just what to say that would do the most damage in the fewest words. Oh was I good at it.

I don’t believe I am proud of that anymore. But I realize I can’t undo the damage I’ve done. Hopefully there were wise people around those I have hurt that brought healing.

Now, I’m trying to bring healing to others. I don’t know if I am wise necessarily. I am open to what God has to say for me and others. Sometimes this results in wisdom being shared with someone who needs it. I sat recently in a meeting and watched two people tear each other to shreds with their words then look at me and wonder what is wrong. What’s wrong? That statement just cut his legs off. What’s wrong? You just cut her heart out.

We are hyper sensitive about the words our children use. Yet we spread gossip recklessly. We are easily offended by words used to describe us, yet we trample others feelings without noticing.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Really? Sword thrusts hurt.

Challenge of the day. Spend the afternoon only using words that encourage, compliment or thank someone else. Can you do it? I believe in you, I know you can!

Words by Hawk Nelson

Advertisements

The Light

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12 ESV

The light of the world. Is that important?

Without light nothing can be seen. With light, all things are seen. Don’t believe me? Let’s see what science has to say about it. This excerpt comes from the www.physicsclassroom.com. Check it out:

The bottom line is: without light, there would be no sight. The visual ability of humans and other animals is the result of the complex interaction of light, eyes and brain. We are able to see because light from an object can move through space and reach our eyes. Once light reaches our eyes, signals are sent to our brain, and our brain deciphers the information in order to detect the appearance, location and movement of the objects we are sighting at. The whole process, as complex as it is, would not be possible if it were not for the presence of light. Without light, there would be no sight.

If you were to turn off the room lights for a moment and then cover all the windows with black construction paper to prevent any entry of light into the room, then you would notice that nothing in the room would be visible. There would be objects present that were capable of being seen. There would be eyes present that would be capable of detecting light from those objects. There would be a brain present that would be capable of deciphering the information sent to it. But there would be no light! The room and everything in it would look black. The appearance of black is merely a sign of the absence of light. When a room full of objects (or a table, a shirt or a sky) looks black, then the objects are not generating nor reflecting light to your eyes. And without light, there would be no sight.

I love this thought process about light. It is so important to all of us and Jesus shares that He is that, that is so important to us. I once was blind and now I see. Without light (Jesus) you can’t see. With light (Jesus) you can see. There are three separate instances of Jesus healing the blind in the Bible. Plus Ananias healed Saul/Paul of his blindness in Acts. Of all the ailments of the world, why would blindness be focused on so much?

I think it is because Jesus is the light. Without light you can’t see. Though it took a few years for science to catch up with the Bible, we can all know that truth now. Such a beautiful picture. And one of my favorite songs uses this language too.

Alan Jackson – Amazing Grace

 

Playing…

When I was in high school I was into theater, speech, or acting as you may say. I participated in the competitive speech program in high school. I was in a couple plays/musicals in high school. I also had a lead role in a community play held at the renowned Grist Mill Theater in Macedonia, IA. Please hold the applause : )

I enjoyed the opportunity to act. I have the ability to totally consume myself in a role. I can still do it, even watching a movie. I get very into movies and I easily empathize with certain characters. I cry a lot during movies or TV shows because of this. Which is only occasionally awkward.

I haven’t participated in acting in quite a while. The last was time was while we were in Springfield, MO. I did a drama for our church there during a Sunday service. There is ample opportunity in our current city. Lot’s of community theater options but it just doesn’t have the same draw now, plus the time commitment with a young family is unrealistic. So I haven’t stepped back on stage, so to speak, in more than 10 years.

But there are other types of “play acting” we can get involved in. I was floored this morning while reading in Proverbs by this verse:

“Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.” Proverbs 12:9

How many of us are out kicking our coverage? Or how many of us are living beyond our means in order to keep up a facade or front for others to marvel at? At first this sounds silly, because none of us do this. Let me break it down and see if I can bring it closer to home.

How many of you love it when someone just drops by for a visit with no call ahead? Most of us are terrified of this because our that wouldn’t give us the chance to pick up our house so they would see how we truly live in our homes. Or what about this, do you ever share with your friends if you are making a decision of which bill to be late on and which one not to? Do you ever tell a couple that invites you out to dinner that you can’t go, because you are out of food money for the month? Do you keep looking for a house in that other neighborhood even though you know it’s over your budget? Are you leasing a new car?

Are we consumed with “playing the great man” at the expense of our true livelihood? Or can we be real? Can we live within our means? Can we be lowly, with extra to spend?

It is a tougher conversation than we first thought isn’t it.

P.S. Happy Birthday Johnny B!

How Big is Your God?

How big is your God?

You might think that question would be answered uniformly, at least by people who follow the same God. For example, I am a follower of Jesus. The God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. That God is my God. He’s huge. He has His hand on so many things it’s ridiculous. He’s so many steps ahead of me all the time, it is mind blowing. That’s my God. He fixes hurts. He comforts those who are struggling in difficult decisions. He embraces the dying. He reclaims the forgotten. He redeems the wanderer. I was reminded this morning how big my God is. I received an email that in part said this:

“Also, the other night (my friends) met a man in Vietnam that said the only good place in Iowa is a small town named Ottumwa.”

Ottumwa is the place I live. I’ve lived here 5 years. I feel like God called my family here for His purposes. We are trying to be obedient. My friends have felt the same call. They are heading here in July of this year. I wonder if maybe on their current journey they were starting to wonder if they made the right decision. Were they questioning leaving what they are doing to come here? I am not certain what the circumstances are surrounding this conversation. But I do know that the name of our town, where God called me was spoken by a Vietnamese man, half way around the world, to a couple he didn’t know had anything to do with Ottumwa.

How big is your God?

My God is so big, we support a bunch of Khmer people in Battambang, Cambodia, because it was God’s plan. My God is so big, I love a ton of people half way around the world because they have given up everything – families, jobs, school, – to do what God has called them to. That’s the same God.

How big is your God?

I don’t know what you are dealing with today. But whatever it is, I know this: your circumstance is not bigger than my God. And I pray, your circumstances aren’t bigger than your God.

Give Freely…

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” Proverbs 11:24

Why is it so hard to be genuinely generous?

I don’t think I am alone when I say I struggle in this area. I struggle to truly give what I should without thinking about how it might be used or could I have used it more efficiently than where I am giving it? Or even, what could I have done with the money if I wouldn’t have given it to someone else.

What is my problem?

I want to be generous. I know I should be generous. What is crazy is when I am not generous I know I have this huge want/need of everything I drive by. I drive by a car dealer everyday on the way to work. I stare at the trucks that are lined up on the road like I “NEED” one. I don’t. So why do I think that?

I am still hanging on to stuff. I’m getting satisfaction from stuff. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The more I hang onto stuff, the more stuff I want. I don’t want to want stuff.

I want to give freely and grow all the richer…

Clean White Board

I use a white board all the time in my office. I like to write my ideas out big so I can see them and change them. It helps me think. Helps me see what I’m missing. I love it.

I also love it because you can erase it. It isn’t permanent. You can start over. You can make mistakes on a white board because its fixable. Just erase it and fix it. It is great for my job.

I think the white board has some great advantages in the world of relationships too. I’m not kidding.

whiteboard

What if we started everyday with a fresh white board?

I think of it like this. During my days I tend to collect wrongs done to me on my white board. I write down how someone said something or did something that hurt me. And often times the next day I wake up and before anything else happens, I’m thinking about what was done wrong to me yesterday.

I carry the burden of grudges into my new day, with no fresh start.

In our relationships, if we want to succeed. Really succeed. Really make it work, for the long haul. Through everything, I don’t know like a marriage. If we want our relationships to survive and even thrive.

We have to be willing and able to erase our white boards every night. Erase it. So that you wake up the next morning like nothing happened the day before. That isn’t fair. Yep. You are right. It isn’t. But it will make your relationships go smoother. It will allow wounds to heal instead of daily tearing them open.

Just try it for 7 days. Erase your white board every night. When you wake up in the morning start relationally with a clean slate. See what happens.

New Point of View

I have read in the Gospel of John before. I have read, John chapter 20 before. But today while I was listening to this message, I was given a new point of view about what it looks like to follow Jesus.

Even if you don’t follow Jesus, you have some sort of idea what it looks like if you do follow Him. Not for you, but you can assume what it looks like for others. But the picture of what it looks like drawn in John 20 is so perfect.

The story in John 20 is of Mary Magdalene. Mary was not the girl next door. She wasn’t the quiet type. She wasn’t the prim and proper girl that you would expect to be following Jesus. When Jesus found Mary, she was a mess. A total and utter mess. She had exactly nothing going for her. Then Jesus found her. And when she was with Jesus, everything was alright. He gave her peace she hadn’t had before or in a long time.

Then one day she woke up and Jesus was gone. He had been taken. When she caught up to him, he had been beaten and was carrying a cross up a hill. She stood by Jesus as he died on that cross. She stood by as his body was taken down and put into a tomb on a Friday evening.

And Mary was the first person at the tomb on Sunday morning. Why Mary?

Here is where my new point of view on following Jesus comes into play. Mary didn’t have anywhere else to go. She had an unspeakable life before her relationship with Jesus. She was radically transformed by Jesus. Without him, she didn’t have anything. She only knew to stand around in the place where she had last seen him. She only knew to return to that place when the Sabbath was over. She didn’t know what to do without Jesus. She was totally lost without Jesus being there.

Here’s the challenge.

How many of us are just fine in our lives when we aren’t standing next to Jesus? How many of us could take or leave Jesus today, depending on what we have to do or what we want to do? Are we so desperate for our relationship with Jesus, that we wait around for Him to show up for us? Show himself to us? Are we desperately looking for Him? Or listening for Him to say our name?

Do I wake up everyday, bound and determined to hear His voice? Determined to stand before Him?

Or is it easier for me to avoid Him?