Category Archives: Obedience

Words Have Power

Words

Writers are well aware that words have power. Choosing exactly the right words for any given sentence can be a painstaking exercise because you want your reader to experience the scene just like you do.

But the power of words reaches to even the furthest corners of our existence.

This morning, I read Matthew 5:21-22. Here’s what it says:

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (The Message)

Strong words.

Think about the sixth commandment, which very clearly states, “You shall not murder.” For the vast majority, this is clear enough and we get that God did not intend for this to be a suggestion or a guideline. It’s a command. Period.

But not only does this “written in stone” law prohibit the actual deed of murder, it extends to thoughts and words, to unrighteous anger and destructive insults. Calling another person stupid expresses contempt for their mind, and saying that they are a fool attacks their character. The above passage in Matthew indicates that the speaker of such words is on the brink of hellfire.

Yet, how thoughtlessly we fling words around, giving little attention to their destructive nature, their power, and their ability to kill. The consequences not only do damage to the one(s) to which we refer, but to our own eternal life.

Lord, help us to choose the right words – words that pour life and love and encouragement into the lives of the people around us.

 

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Breaking Out

Desk

Yesterday, I prayed.

Well, I pray every day. But yesterday was different. Because I was desperate. You know, the kind of desperate when you’re at the there’s no way this is going to work without Divine intervention and if that doesn’t happen, I’m done. Yup, that was the motivation behind my pleading, whining, begging prayer. And I’m pretty sure that once again, God rolled His eyes.

There’s this story, you see, that I’ve been working on for what seems like a hundred years, but since I am not even close to that old, I might be exaggerating just a little. In reality, it’s been at least five years. My Word doc drafts only go back to 2009, so I know it’s been that long for sure. Some of the initial ideas have been on the back burner since 1990. Yeah, a long time.

The day has come to write the thing and get it out there.

There’s been a little issue with that. I got stuck in a boring part and couldn’t find a way out. Every time I sat down to work on it, I ended up staring into space and thinking that if I thought was dull, why in the world would anyone want to read it? So I’d close the file and do something else. Like crochet a doily. Or bake cookies. Or read Stephen King.

People would ask, “How’s the book coming?” and I’d smile and nod and act like it was all good. Ha! If they only knew.

Hence the prayer of desperation.

After I explained the situation to God (as if He didn’t already know), I asked Him for words. Yes, words. Words to get through the fog. Words to flow together in harmony. Words to excite and enthrall and elate. Words to create scenes. Word to write the story the way it needs to be written.

Then I sat in front of my computer for three hours, staring at a blank screen.

So, I cleaned up my office. Unpacked a couple of boxes (I know, I know, it’s been six months since we moved). Sorted my pens and paper clips. And all the while, that darn blank screen just glared at me. Mocking me. Taunting me.

Finally, in a fit of frustration, I pulled out my journal and started to write. And write. And write. I ended up with four pages of much needed revision and new ideas for said story. The plot fell into place. The questions got answered. And some very interesting twists appeared.

Did God come through? ABSOLUTELY!

But not until I actually picked up my pen, opened my book and began to write. He was there all along, waiting for me while I was waiting for Him. He just wanted me to go first. Then He joined in and we took turns coming up with a great bunch of pages – I wrote, He spoke, then I wrote some more, and He told me more. It was so fun!

I’m breaking out.

Breaking out of old writing habits that hardly ever work. Breaking out of trying to do this by myself. Breaking out of a box that I put myself in.

It’s going to take some serious work to get this story back on the right track, but oh, it will be worth it.

Now I’m kind of giddy!

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Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, God, Imagination, Obedience, Prayer, Writing

Err On the Side Of Caution?

We just spent the past three days at our church’s annual family camp. Along with the usual lake-side, rustic-setting outdoor activities, we had some awesome Holy Ghost breakthrough meetings with our pastor and the guest speakers he invited to share with us. Wow! We will never be the same.

I’ve had a few holes poked in my nice comfortable theological box. Much needed, I might add.

You’re familiar with the phrase, “err on the side of caution”, which means to act in the least risky manner in a situation where one is uncertain about the consequences. This is human nature. As a matter of fact, we’re even encouraged to take this approach to a give situation. It’s safe.

But what if God is asking you to take a risk? To ditch the easy way and try something new? To take a leap of faith, not knowing what the outcome will be?

I can see the expression on your face. You’re wincing.

What if God is asking you to err on the side of believing too much and acting on it rather than not having enough faith and questioning everything? Don’t you think He would far rather have you take that step and make a mistake than never take a step at all?

These are the questions I am asking myself.

And maybe you need to ask them, too.

I sat in those meetings at camp, knowing that the Holy Spirit was nudging and challenging me to take some of those risky steps. I could almost hear Him asking me what in the world would make me think He wouldn’t ask me to do something so completely out of my comfort zone that I would have to trust Him. Did I really expect the Lord to let me just relax in my easy chair for the rest of my life? Um – no. I guess not.

So, it’s time to find out what my next steps are.

I’m sure there will be opposition, because people will always try to stop you from doing what they don’t understand.

I’m sure there will be difficult days. That’s a given.

I’m sure there will be some stumbling along the way.

But I have no more excuses. I’m being pursued by Jesus Christ, who loves me and knows me like no one else does. He has work for me to do, and saying “no” isn’t an option.

 And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.  Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV)

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Here’s the thing about long weekends . . .

Today was BC Day. For all of my non-Canadian readers, B.C. stands for British Columbia, which is the province (not providence) on the west coast of Canada. Anyway, BC Day always comes along on the first Monday in August, which means we just had a long weekend.

But here’s the thing about long weekends: they end. Too soon. Every time.

I had big plans for this particular long weekend. I was going to work on The Bond of Seven and get at least three chapters done so Emily (my granddaughter) would stop asking me what happens next. Didn’t happen. I was going to write several blog posts. That didn’t happen either. And I was going to clean the house. We won’t talk about that. The bottom line is that I pretty much didn’t do anything I had planned to do.

But . . .

I spent a lot of time with my family. I read a whole book. I cleaned my bathroom. I went to church (awesome sermon). I read my Bible. I got some new friends on Facebook. I got a fair bit of work done at the coffee shop. I watched women’s Olympic soccer (sad loss for the Canadians) and I don’t even know anything about soccer.

So I didn’t do what I thought I would do, but I did other important things on this long weekend that ended way too quickly.

And then something our pastor said last Sunday came to mind. God’s agenda supersedes all the agendas of man. We need to function on the playing field He sets out for us.

I’m not saying it was necessarily God’s agenda that I do all the things I did or didn’t, but it reminded me that I need to be listening to what He is telling me. I need to hear His voice when He lays out His agenda for me. And then I need to obey, even when He is asking me to do something that may not fit into my plans.

God says, in Isaiah 55:8, “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” (The Message)

 

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Doing Greater

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 

These words, spoken by Jesus in John 14:12, having been rolling around in my mind for the past week. Whoever believes in Him will do the same things He did. And even greater things. Think about that for a minute. Hmmm. I’ve had to ask myself a few questions.

Do I believe in Jesus? Yes.

Am I doing the same stuff He did? No – well – maybe sometimes.

Do I believe that the Bible is true? Yes.

All of it? Yes.

Then why am I not doing what Jesus did, and greater? I don’t know.

I recently read an advance copy of a to-be-released-in-November book that posed these very same questions. I was supposed to be reading the book from a reviewer’s viewpoint, but I was quickly caught up in the story and the increasing awareness of what it might mean to take the Bible literally. Not just to say I believe every line of scripture. But to actually believe it. For real.

Because if it’s for real, then it means I’d act on it.

The fact that I don’t reveals a lot. And that fact concerns me.

So . . . I am contemplating a Quest.

To believe. To act on what I believe. To do the things Jesus did.

And greater.

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The Observer

If any of you follow the television series Fringe, you will know who the Observers are. They look weird. They act weird. They talk weird. And they don’t actually do much except observe.

There are a lot of people just like them in the non-Fringe world around us. I don’t mean in a creepy science fiction way. I’m talking about people who live their entire lives as observers, never actually doing much. Never participating. Never really engaging in life.

How sad.

I understand that for some people it’s very difficult to step out and be a participant. They’re painfully shy. Or they’ve been hurt. There could be any number of reasons. But for many, many observers, they are that way because it simply takes too much effort to do anything else. They’ve fallen into a rut, developed habits that keep them there, and the thought of climbing out of the rut just doesn’t occur to them. Or if it does, they don’t take it seriously.

It’s called laziness.

And now I’ll share a little secret.

You get to choose the kind of life you live.

No, you don’t have a choice about who your parents are, or where you were born, or how you spent your early childhood. But you have a choice now. You can let the negative things that happened in your past dictate what happens to your future. You can allow yourself to fall into the trap that tells you nothing will change – to be an observer of life because it’s too hard to be anything else.

Or . . .

You can make the decision to be a participant. Take charge of your future. Plan. Set goals. Walk it out.

No excuses. You’re not too old. You’re not too young. You are smart enough. You do have the ability. You can do it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it – especially other observers who don’t want you to convert to participation.

And it’s a really good idea to get God involved. He’s a great coach!

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Ephesians 2:1-6 (The Message)

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The Green Arrow

Last night I had Nikolas, my three year old grandson, with me for a short drive. Buckled safely into his car seat, he chattered non-stop during the entire twenty minute trip, telling me pretty much everything that was going on in his head. He also took great pleasure in back seat driving (he prefers right turns over left turns) and made sure I knew when the traffic lights were red or green, indicating loudly whether I should stop or go.

Then came the green arrow.

I explained the fundamentals of what green arrows meant in traffic and Nik seemed to understand the concept. He was very intent upon finding as many as he could after that. But then, from the back seat, I heard his voice, “Oh man! I missed the gween awwow.” He was so upset with himself and I had to stifle a burst of laughter.

As cute as Nik’s comment was, I realized later how much truth he unknowingly spoke.

How often have I missed the green arrow?

I pray. I ask God to direct my path. I ask Him to show me where and when to go. And then I miss the big flashing green arrow He’s set right in front of me, barreling straight on ahead when I should have turned left.

Why?

Because I am often a distracted driver. I’m not talking on my cell phone (there are laws about that), but my mind is not engaged in what I am doing. I am thinking about all kinds of things  other than what I should be focusing on at that moment. I am not seeing the green arrows God has placed in strategic places along my route, even when His divine GPS does a course correction and tries to show me another way to get where He wants me to go. And I imagine He is shaking His head and saying, “Oh man! She missed the green arrow.”

I want to do better today. I am keeping my spiritual eyes open for those green arrows.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

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