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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Power of Our Words

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." Ephesians 4:15-16.

Words are so powerful.

Words give life, resuscitate the soul, empower truth. They can be used as missiles, as knives to the heart. Our tongues have the power to deceive, defame, deface, praise, affirm, encourage. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing (James 3:10). We can build cities. We can move walls. We can implement change with the words we speak.

I believe that what we say matters. I believe in the words of community, in the life giving words of breaking bread, the prayers we pray. I believe in the power of written words, in the blogs we write, the sermons we preach, the songs we sing, the books we read. I believe we do life together through words.

I believe in the choice that words give us. We choose to be vulnerable, to hide, to speak truth, to share our souls, to invite someone in, to encourage. Every time our mouths open, our tongues move into gear, our pen hits paper, we have the choice to SPEAK LIFE. We are leaving an impression. Letters, syllables, grammar, punctuation make up the fabric of our influence. Do we realize the weight of what this means? Our words are not meaningless or insignificant or empty. We can do so much with them.

Because our words matter, we look to Jesus.

Our model is in the life of Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, He speaks. He says, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.' His words heal. His words give life. He speaks honestly to the Samaritan woman at the well and says that He is the Living Water. He tells Peter three times to 'feed my sheep.' He says from the cross, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' He calls out, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.'

Faithful, loving, He is beautiful.

Jesus didn't just speak truth.. Jesus IS truth. He is perfect and honest and pure and just. I think of his response to sinners. His response to his disciples. His response to the Pharisees. His response to the Father. His Word is ultimate and it is more than just our example. It saves us.

So let your speech be gracious (Colossians 4:6), may you hold fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:16), may the Word of God dwell richly in you (Colossians 3:16), may we encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and may every knee bow and every TONGUE confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 1:23).

Choose your words. Choose life. Choose Jesus.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I remember doing a Beth Moore study with my friend Abbey last year about living free. Moore says the mind is where it all begins, our primary battlefield. Satan wages war there. She says, "If our thoughts aren't like God's, we can bet our ways, paths, and routes won't be either."

Isn't that the truth?

I've been reading a lot of verses in the Scriptures lately about the mind. Our thoughts and how we find peace with them. The writers of our Holy Book are pretty consistent when they say that our God is a God of peace. Over and over again, I came across verse after verse after verse that said 'God has called you to peace,' 'Live in peace,' 'God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.' Over and over again.

I had a moment while meditating on these verses: these aren't just someone's opinions! God didn't at one time appear to someone as peace and we just have to trust that writer's experience : GOD IS PEACE. If I believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God, then I must believe everything that is in it. I must trust that God is who He says He is. He IS the total embodiment of peace and He continues to be who He has always been. When I feel confused and wonder what is truth, all I need to is open up the Bible and that. is. what. is real. What a refreshing truth.

I know we all have our places and things where satan aims to sideline us and mine are my thoughts and the way they grow into lies. What a constant place where I am brought to my knees. I know I have a hyperactive mind to begin with and have genuinely loved the growth that has come from my thoughts. But when I go through changes or experience something new or an unfamiliar situation arises, it is like a nuclear bomb of thoughts goes off up there. Because there are so many rushing by, my lie filter gets lazy and I forget to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ. I analyze and analyze again and before I know it, I can be headed in the complete opposite direction by believing things I know aren't true. Doing it on my own : talk about exhausting.

Enter Scripture.

James 4:7-8 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to God."

It doesn't say 'Resist the devil and he will quietly slink away from you' or 'Resist the devil and then he'll come up with new ways to attack you.' It says he will FLEE. Flee. Run away in fear. No looking back. Leave. How do we resist the devil? By drawing near to God and humbly submitting to Him. By surrendering, by giving up the fight. By running headlong into the Heavenly Father's embrace. The same power that conquered the grave lives in me. And that is no match for the devil. When Christ is in me, the devil flees.

I learn every day that life is full of choices. All we do, think, speak and how we act, respond, influence are all choices we make. Our choices reflect what we believe and who we're living for. And so I choose life. I choose to hold that Bible tight every night before I lay my head down and I choose to reach for it every morning. I choose to draw near to God. I choose to resist. I choose to believe every single word the Bible says. I choose to trust. I choose to not lose heart and turn towards bitterness in response to my battles. I choose to admit that I need a Savior.

Psalm 139 says, 'O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'

Psalm 139 also says that there is no place we can go to escape His presence. He is there and He is constant. We don't fight anything that He doesn't know about. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have the divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). When we use prayer, Scripture, the power of the Holy Spirit, faith, community, we draw near to God. And satan flees.

I choose to believe the power of Christ's death on the cross and His victory over sin.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I've done a lot of stupid things lately. Not anything tragic or life changing, but things that make me look back and say to myself, 'are you for real??'

It makes me so thankful for Jesus.

Until I was 23, I proclaimed to be a Christian and then had everyone bow down to me. I loved making people feel bad. I really liked belittling people and I really thrived on being right. It's embarrassing to think about. I really was so self righteous and God was my afterthought (if even a thought at all). Any time I needed correction, that was a big no. I would either ignore you, get mad and turn it back on you (my favorite response), or manipulate you into thinking I was right the whole time. I take no credit for life change because it is Christ who has redeemed my choices. He has redeemed my responses. He has given me better options. Without Him, what other option do we have? He's made me thankful for the freedom that comes with being wrong. He has changed my response to you and He has changed how I receive your response to me.

And that's grace.

As I make mistakes now, grace comes into the picture. As I am rude and thoughtless and arrogant, I am met with grace. And it blows my mind. On two counts. Grace frees me. Grace is unconditional. My friends who respond with grace : I think back to a time and know hands down, 100%, that I never, ever would have responded that way. I loved when people messed up. It was my chance to shine! To mess up, be rightfully called out, and to be met with grace, forgiveness, and moving forward, is refreshing. Not just refreshing, it's almost a shock to my system.

And that's grace.
It's so good!

When other people respond as Christ, I am freed to respond as Christ. I am freed to think as Christ. I am freed to remember Christ's work.
It's really, really exciting.

I can't really articulate how this makes me feel. I wish all of you could take a jump inside my thoughts. It makes me overjoyed. No, no I am not happy I make mistakes. Gross. It bums me out when I'm thoughtless. I hate sinning. But I am so thankful for Jesus. I am reminded of the victory over sin and death in His cross and resurrection.

I am overjoyed because it is in the little things that I can see my big story. That I can see Christ. The little graces where I am blown away.

I spent half of last night thinking through mistakes, thinking through responses, thinking through story, because that's what I do. I think. For those most faithful to follow, I have most frequently blogged about my thoughts. Taking them captive. My mind. When I'm not disciplined, satan runs around unmarked and unchecked, taking names and wreaking havoc. Satan's thinking becomes my way of life. My instincts reflect his. When I don't practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, I let satan have a field day up there.

But when I do, when I stamp Paul's words on my heart and mind, my mind does a complete reroute. God's Word literally becomes my filter. I have a thought : dismiss it as a lie. I have a thought : call it ridiculous. I have a thought : throw away that shame. I have a thought : yes that's truth! And that's the one I believe. And I am knocked off my feet at how good His grace is.

I am given grace to think new.

What I'm learning is that the practice of filtering and taking thoughts captive is never complete. I'm not going to reach a point of perfection and no longer have to fight satan's lies. I was born a sinful human being. But that doesn't mean the battle hasn't been won. That doesn't take anything away from Christ and His redemption. Refinement is in how quickly I resort to my filter, to Scripture, and how quickly I count truth for what it is. The Spirit does its work and satan talk becomes less and less frequent.

I am joyful because I can look at my story and think 'what a God!' I spent most of today thinking 'if God can save a prideful soul like me, then He can save anyone!'

So if you take anything from this hodgepodge of thoughts, take that away. God loves you. He really, really loves you. No matter how shameful or ugly or gross or prideful your actions and thoughts are, He wants them. All of them. He wants all of you.

And that is grace.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9