Monday, March 30, 2009

Word of the Week

My little sister inspired this blog post. I am not sure she meant to, but she did. I was reading her blog (see "Jenny and Matt" on the sidebar) and she had capitalized a couple of words in her blog for emphasis. I think it was because those were the words that she was replaying in her mind that particular day/week as she adjusts to her new marriage and life in Green Bay. Anyhow, it made me think that maybe having a "word of the week" might be a good idea for my own life. I've been contemplating this for several days. It may seem a little cheesy or hokey, but...I think it might be just what I need. God-inspired? Maybe. My sister is a pretty godly woman, so if she inspired me then God is in it.

My thought is that this weekly word might help to center my thoughts during an otherwise busy day. It might serve to stop me from doing or saying something I shouldn't. It might bring joy, inspire, encourage, challenge, and strengthen me and others I encounter. So, I'm going for it. I hope it helps you, too. I'll post a new word weekly (maybe more than one a week here and there?). Feel free to post your thoughts on that word or let me know how it might be helping you. Blogging at its best breeds community and we need to hear from each other.

The word of the week for this week is: HONOR. Truthfully, I've been trying to think of a more interesting word for the week. I could not escape this one. I guess this means that God has impressed this on my mind for some reason. The word comes from the passage I read in Asbury Theological Seminary's Spring Reader 2009. I just received my paper copy in the mail because it went to my old address. I am loving it so far and have even gone back to look at previous days/weeks. You can access the reader online each day here if you are needing something to walk you through Lent and Eastertide. It is pretty fantastic. It has a passage, spiritual exercises, and prayers and thoughts from the saints through the ages (speaking my language!!).

HONOR. Think about it. Commit it to memory. God and others. Share your thoughts with God and those around you.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wise Words

The quote below is taken from, quite possibly, the best book written on the subject of Christian community (other than the Bible itself, of course). It is a short book, but there is so much packed into those pages. It is a lot like The Practice of the Presence of God (Lawrence) in that way. It may seem small, but the contents are so rich it seems huge. I think it is a must-read for Christians. I promise you'll return to it again and again and you'll find something new and insightful each time.

I am posting this because I am still in that stage of considering the power of words - mine, yours, God's, etc. If all my words came from a place like that which is described below...well, life would be bliss. I am learning, though, that sometimes I will: say the wrong thing, hear the wrong thing, read the wrong thing, and/or fail to speak when I should. This is not a startling reality, but a frustrating one nonetheless. Especially for a frustrated perfectionist like myself. It is...messy. Life always is. I know will not always choose right, as I am an imperfect and fallen human being. However, this is no excuse. I plan to do my best to remember Bonhoeffer's words and let them inform my own.

"He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself. Let no man 'think of himself more highly than he ought to think' (Romans 12:3). 'To have no opinion of ourselves and think always well and highly of others is great wisdom and perfection,' said Thomas a Kempis.

Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Being a Wife and a Child (of God)

I am constantly amazed at how being a wife is teaching me so much about what it means to be a child of God. I knew that marriage was a metaphor for our relationship with God (Father, Son, Spirit), but I never imagined how it would inform my daily walk. My husband is constantly showing me what real faith looks like in who he is and how he carries himself. He is always telling me that "God has got us" and "I love you very much, but what's more important is that God loves you and has a plan for you, for us." He is always saying things like this either literally or through his actions. I find this both inspiring and frustrating. Inspiring for the obvious reasons. Frustrating because I seem to get stuck in the knowing. It takes a little longer for me to really believe and trust something. I am not sure why this is...

Marriage is just another way that God is teaching me the power of words and living by His Word. My husband does this so well and I am learning from him how to trust Him better everyday. It is an interesting journey, a blessing really. What joy to walk through life with someone like this beside me to remind me who and Whose I am!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Words that Hurt and...Heal

I once had a friend challenge me to fast from words. He thought it would be a good idea if I learned the art of silence. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, regularly engaging in such an exercise might be very beneficial to our spiritual, emotional, and social well-being (and that of others). However, this was not the case with this particular fast. I do not believe now that my friend's motives were pure when he suggested I do so. He had a bent for putting God's name on whatever he thought I (or someone else) should be working on at the time.

Because of his own words, I began to see my own as unimportant, unworthy, and unnecessary. If and when I did speak up and/or ask questions, I did so with a gnawing sense of inadequacy and unworthiness. All of this just prior to my first preaching class in seminary. Not good.

Fast forward to a new semester. I begin preaching class, horrified to find out that we must deliver each sermon without notes. I believe I told someone that it sounded a lot like a lamb being fit for slaughter. I entered with raging insecurities as to my ability to deliver a word at all, much less a word from the Lord! This is ironic, given my long history in speech, drama, and public speaking. I had delivered many a speech or drama scene in my life.

After much prayer (about said anxieties and concerns) and preparation (as every sermon demands), I delivered my first sermon with relative ease. I may have been a little tied to my words (as per Dr. Kalas) and a little speedy in my delivery (as noticed by myself), but it went mostly well. Dr. Kalas told me in so many words that I did have something to say and he was glad to hear it. Each new sermon delivered in that class brought with it constructive criticism and encouragement. The fear was still and will always be there. But, as Dr. K always said in class, "We should approach the delivering of a sermon with a measure of fear, as we are representing God Himself."

It was only on the other side of this first preaching class that I could pinpoint the reason for my initial anxiety about preaching class. I began to realize how I had allowed one person's criticism to shape me and tell me I was less than I was. All because he put God's name on something that might not have been from God.

I believe we can know when such a word is from God and not from man. God's word to us is always life-giving and good. Yes, the Lord disciplines those He loves, but it always comes from a place of deep love and mercy. God's thoughts toward me are good. To summarize Andrew Murray, "I am his delight and all His desire is in me." He thinks I have something worth saying and it is He who empowers me to say it (or encourages me not to!).

Don't get me wrong, I believe in the value of fasting, silence, and solitude. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you as much. I am very passionate about engaging in the spiritual disciplines, most notably fasting and silence. However, I am also now careful to discern whether God is calling for it or I am allowing someone else to speak it into my life.

I have many more thoughts swirling around in my head about the power of words. I'll share those as I get them organized in my mind. Suffice it to say that marriage and life-in-general are teaching me a lot - good and bad - about this these days!