Friday, May 20, 2016

Verb - it's what you do...

I remember when my oldest son was 7 years old.  He laughed and played like any other little boy, but when he heard an encouraging word from his mom, a kind word, a "that's my boy" or "you can do it", his face would light up.  I can so vividly recall - his smiles so bright it was blinding for a minute. This overwhelming joy and beaming happiness is seared into my memory forever. 

Encourage is a verb.  It's something you do. 
 Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 

Throughout the Bible we see instructions to encourage one another and verses that are meant to encourage us. Why is encouragement emphasized in the Bible? Primarily because encouragement is necessary to our walk of faith.  When we En-courage we give each other the courage to walk forward in faith, to face with courage all that life throws at us - to build us up.  The actual word used in Hebrews is paraclete - which means advocate or helper.  It is most commonly seen referring to the Holy Spirit. We are literally called to encourage one another just as the Holy Spirit encourages us.  

As clearly as I recall that bright happy face, I also recall the face of discouragement.  When they stuck out at bat or lost the big game or heard hurtful words their faces would fall, sometimes tears would fall as they experienced what it was to be discouraged.  Discourage is also a verb.  Dis-courage, to take away someones courage, to take away their ability to walk forward in faith, to take away their ability to face what life brings, to tear down. 

John 14:1 Let not your hearts be troubled....
In the proceeding chapter of John, Jesus is eating the Passover meal with his disciples.  He has told them he will be betrayed by one of their own, he has predicted Peter's denial and his own death.  Jesus knows how this has hit them - and he says "Let not your hearts be "troubled" or "athumeo" 

athumeo -  disheartened, broken in spirit. 

We quite literally hold the power to encourage - giving each other the same help as the Holy Spirit gives us, or to break the spirit of others through our words and actions.  It's all about the spirit. 

And this is the choice we make every moment of every day.  

Each word we speak, each interaction, everything we do has the power to en-courage or dis-courage, we can build up or we can tear down.  Every. single. moment. 
Think about that for a minute.

Every word spoken to your spouse.....
Every word spoken to your children....
Every word spoken to your co-workers....
Every word spoken to the cashier at Walmart...

Literally every word is your verb - what you do - the legacy you are leaving built one word at a time. 

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”Proverbs 21:19 "It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman."
Are my words healing grace or a spirit breaker?  Lord, let them be healing grace. 

Proverbs 14:1 A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.


Saturday, April 30, 2016


In the forests there are tall towers constructed to be hundreds of feet tall. The wind causes them to sway just a little but if you can climb them, the view is amazing. You can see for miles. 

Imagine being on the Eiffel tower or the Empire State building and ripping open a feather pillow, shaking all the feathers out. Of course a few would fall at your feet, but the wind would blow most of the feathers far and wide.  Even if you tried, even if your very life depended on it, you could not recapture all of those feathers. Most would travel to places unseen, unknown. 

Now imagine that all of those feathers, were fire. 

Proverbs 16:27-28

27 Scoundrels create trouble;
their words are a destructive blaze.

28 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife;
gossip separates the best of friends.

Gossip will burn through life like a wildfire, untamed, uncontrollable.  Who can re-gather fire? It can never be re-gathered, it can never be taken back, just like you can never get back the spill of gossip. You could work tirelessly to undo gossip, you could spend hours, days, weeks, even years trying to battle... and it is like a single man trying to put out a forest fire.  
James 3:5-65So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

I am pretty sure everyone has experienced gossip coming back to them about themselves. When that happens, it is always tempting to correct the gossip, to identify the originator and to put them in their place.

But if I try to run it down I will never find rest or peace, it would be just as impossible as chasing down feathers dropped from the tower spire.  It would be just as dangerous as a person who tried to fight a forest fire with a garden hose.

   I have grappled with this and realized that...
...when I  accept God's estimation of me, 
I stop worrying about what people say about me.

When I know I have been the topic of gossip, I often pray that God will recapture all those feathers for me, that he will extinguish the fires that have been set around me.
There is no way that I will ever be able to address it, no way that I could  convince others of the untruthfulness of the words spoken against me or my family. And in trying to undo the tangle of someone else's web - I too would strike a match and light dry kindling - I too would be guilty - I too would cause harm.

Psalm 62:5-6 NLT
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.