we always think that size determines our success or ability to influence. but it’s not necessarily true. i’m in the midst of reading and studying the book of James and he reminds us that destructive power is beheld in this tiny entity called the tongue. remember when we were kids and chanted the mantra, “sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt me!” i’m not so sure about that. i think that physical pain heals, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. i still remember when someone took a shot at my preaching by saying that “a dog could preach better.” i brushed it off, but it hasn’t left my memory. it’s a remark that somehow enhances an existing insecurity and makes it all the more difficult to move forward and grow. i also remember when a teacher long ago told me that she saw incredible success in my future. these words embedded hope and inspiration whenever i feel like a failure. words are absolutely powerful. they can inspire us to accomplish more than we ever imagined possible or they can kill our spirit to a point where we are physically immobilized. what words do you speak? do you give life? or do you destroy life? james calls us to tame our tongue. he questions how we bless God and yet curse people who are made in His likeness. And he tells us that this should not be so. know that your tongue has great power – power to kill or power to heal. and, know that what you speak changes our world!!!
i was reading an book on raising infants and it raised a really interesting and insightful truth. why do we refer to babies as “good” or “bad” when it comes to their actions? if a baby cries, doesn’t sleep, and is unconsolable we refer to him/her as a “bad” baby. but if he/she eats well, sleeps well, and rarely cries, we refer to him/her as a “good” baby. interesting… how does that make them good or bad?
i’m wondering if we start redefining things in our lives when things don’t match up. and then i’m wondering if we take these new definitions and use them to evaluate everything… even God. for instance, a “good” baby is one that doesn’t disrupt our lives and makes our lives easy. so now, a “good” God is one who doesn’t disrupt our lives and makes our lives easy. hmmmm… that’s maybe why we ask ourselves the questions, “why would God do this?” “if God is good, why would he make me suffer?” “how could a good God allow pain in my life?” So, is God good? if we define good as not interrupting our lives, not transforming us, not helping us, and making our lives as easy and as comfortable as possible, then maybe not… So, maybe it’s time for us to look to Him to our definition of good and to see Him as truly God. Maybe we should approach God with humility and brokenness so that we can be formed and informed by Him.
The Truth: God is a never changing constant and He is always good.
I hate being alone!!! I can’t stand it. On a Meyer-Briggs personality profile, I’m a capital “E” for Extrovert. I have no “I” in me. I get so fueled by being surrounded by people and have to be pulled away from the crowd in order to get me out of it. But… this past year has been a season of more alone time than I’m particularly used to. And it has been in this alone time that I’ve had to face some incredible, dysfunctional junk in my life. People have asked me about my journey of church planting and I’ve openly shared that it’s been a hard and painful year. Mostly, I’ve had to face the incredible fear and insecurity that is deeply rooted in my heart and soul. Being alone forces me to find my identity in Christ alone. I’m so easily swayed to find significance and worth in others and how they “feel” about me. Simply put, I’ve heard the question from God: “Why do you want to plant this church? Is it because you love people? Or is it because you want to be successful in your ministry?” It’s humbling and almost shaming to answer honestly. I do love people!!! But when I’m honest with myself, I know that I love me more. And I know that I wrestle with my sense of self-worth. This is why my times of solitude shape me and help me cling to Christ all the more. It’s in my aloneness that I have no one to turn to and have no way to fix me on my own. It breaks me into a posture of opening my life to Jesus. I was sharing my process and journey with my previous pastor (Dave Gibbons – Newsong Community Church) and he recommended reading Henri Nowen’s book “The Way of the Heart.” Nouwen beautifully portrays my struggle and has helped me to embrace my time of solitude rather than run from it.
There is so much more I’ve learned from my times of solitude. More will come next week…