Slick: A Tribute

Grandpa Slick.  Not many people can say they have a Grandpa Slick.  But I could.  I don’t remember how old I was when I realized all my cousins called him Grandpa Walt.  But I liked calling him Grandpa Slick.  It just seemed right, and somehow more special.  I remember hearing the story of how he got the nickname way back when… back when his tattoos were still legible and he still had a full head of hair.  That was Grandpa Slick.

Grandpa was a unique character to say the least.  He was what I like to call a “good ol’ boy.”  He never knew a stranger.  He worked hard and made sure others worked hard too.  He spoke his mind.  He loved the Lord and his family.  He made mistakes.  He made many beautiful things.  He traveled the world.  He lived on a farm.  He lived in a castle.  He loved John Wayne.  He was determined.  He was stubborn.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  That was Grandpa Slick.

His death Sunday morning caught me off-guard… but then again, he had a way of doing that in life as well.  You never really knew what Grandpa Slick was going to say or do next.  I believe his last words to me, as he patted me on the shoulder, were, “Keep praying; it will happen.”  I love that these were at least among his last words to me, if not the very last.  I especially love that he said these words completely out of the blue at my brother’s wedding, basically telling me to keep praying for a man to come along.  It was one of those “Oh, Grandpa” moments that makes you inwardly roll your eyes while silently laughing and secretly hoping he’s right.  That was Grandpa Slick.

Grandpa Slick softened a bit over the years. The “I love you”s and the “I’m proud of you”s came more and more frequently as the years progressed.  Those words are always meaningful, but even more so when you know they are coming from someone who will always shoot straight with you and tell you how it is.  He would talk about his ailments, but he would just state the facts.  He didn’t throw himself many pity parties.  I remember a letter I received from him while I was overseas.  He filled me in on how they had been sick, he had gotten his hand caught in the table saw, and he had to have an ingrown toenail removed.  He followed this summary with, “out side of that we are doing great.”  No hint of sarcasm.  That was Grandpa Slick.

We celebrated New Year’s at their house once and he let us kids throw confetti.  I seriously think we were still finding that stuff five years later.  I have a jewelry box sitting just a few feet from me that he made just for me.  He had a wheezing laugh that I inherited from him.  When I was raising money to go overseas, he took my need to his church who then blessed me with their generosity.  He always wanted to help however he could.  I loved hearing him talking about planning his Sunday school lessons or what he was studying in the Bible. He had some incredible stories from his amazing life that I wish I had written down.  He wore overalls to weddings, but only his best pair.  He watched the animals outside the window every morning.  That was Grandpa Slick.

That letter he sent me also contained a little ditty that he adapted from “a reassertion Jimmie Dean the sausage man did once.”  His version was a tribute to his church, a word of thanks for their support and generosity over the years.  It really shows his heart.  The recurring line said, “I’m drinking from my saucer because my cup has overflowed.”  This is Grandpa Slick.

Family

Grandpa with most of the family for his last birthday. He loved that day about as much as we love him.

Slick

In Daddy’s Hands

The other night I was driving home when I noticed a  little girl walking along a rail at the Tacolate taco stand.  That rail probably comes near my waist, so it was about the same height as this precious girl who looked to be about three years old.  But what really caught my eye was how her daddy had his arms so gently around her to catch her when she slipped and to keep her from falling.

As I drove by I thanked the Lord that this little girl, unlike so many today, has an earthly father who loves her, cares for her, and encourages her to have fun and do big things.  I prayed that she would remember this sweet time with her daddy.  I thanked Him for my own earthly father who is beyond incredible.  I prayed for those little girls who don’t know their earthly father and for those who wish they didn’t.  My heart mourns for them.  But my heart rejoiced in seeing this father/ daughter duo laughing and playing together.

Then the meaningfulness of the moment went deeper.  I began to realize what a beautiful picture this was of how God interacts with His children.  He lovingly and gently wraps His arms around us.  He keeps us from falling.  He protects us.  By His strength, His wisdom, and His guidance, we can do things that are utterly impossible on our own.  In trusting Him, we have freedom to be bold and embark on exciting adventures!

There is a word of caution though.  We must be placing our trust in Him – the only one who can carry us, sustain us, protect us, and guide us.  He alone knows what is best for us and desires to see that accomplished in our lives for His glory.  Apart from Him, our “boldness” can place us in danger and cause unnecessary fear.

My family went out to eat one day when I was five years old.  We were at a buffet and my mom was pregnant with my brother so she decided to find us a table while my dad waited in line to pay for our meal.  I started to walk to the table with my mom and then changed my mind.  I told her I was going to stay with Daddy and off I went.  I ran up and grabbed his belt loop and waited for the line to move.  Suddenly I saw Mom quickly coming my way with a concerned expression on her face.  She grabbed my hand and began apologizing to Daddy… until I looked up and realized it wasn’t Daddy at all!  I was clinging to a complete stranger, trusting him to lead me.  I was suddenly terrified and also extremely grateful for my momma.  She walked me over to my dad and all was right in my 5-year-old world again.

The reality is that sometimes, even in times when we are trying to follow the Lord, we make mistakes.  We begin to put our trust in things and people other than the Lord.  We need people in our lives who will reveal to us our mistakes and lead us back to the Father.  In Daddy’s hands we are secure.

Daddy One

Throwing Out “The List”

I recently decided to read through an old journal.  In the midst of realizing how bad my memory is, I came across “the list.”  You know the list.  It’s the list every young girl writes.  The list details every attribute “the one” will possess.  It’s probably been amended on occasion and possibly contains some “bonus features” (aka – negotiables).

I honestly don’t remember what year the list was written.  My best guess is probably about ten years ago.  Back when I had it all figured out.  Back when I thought Prince Charming was waiting just around the corner.  Back before “Frozen” informed us that all men eat their boogers (this still grosses me out completely).  Back when fairy tales were clearly portraits of real love.  Back when I was the perfect catch.  Back when I knew it all.

A lot has changed in the last ten years.  I now have no idea what God wants to do with my life, other than use it up for His glory.  I’ve turned several corners, but have yet to find Prince Charming waiting there for me.  I now understand more fully that we are all flawed people and no man will ever be perfect.  I’ve realized that fairy tales are fun, and can sometimes have elements we can learn from, but they are not portraits of real life or true love.  I’ve learned so much more about how weak and sinful and selfish and in desperate, constant need of a Savior I am.   I’ve learned that I still have much to learn.

I opted not to read the list that night.  I didn’t see the point.  It is probably just a list of the characteristics of whatever guy I had a crush on at the time.  I don’t want a list.  My roommate and I were talking about this tonight and she made the comment, “God knows what I need better than I do.”  She’s absolutely right.   We, as sinful humans, will inevitably fail one another.  I don’t want to be someone’s list.  What happens when I have a bad day?  When I’m being a jerk?  If our relationship is based on me fulfilling “the list” the whole relationship suddenly comes into question.  If I don’t want someone holding me to an unachievable standard, how can I do the same to them?

Does this mean I throw all my standards out the window?  Absolutely not.  But when it comes down to it, there is really only one non-negotiable.  Does he love Christ first and foremost?  There is no other solid foundation upon which to build a relationship.  With Christ as his first love, a man can better love his wife, lead his family, serve his community, etc. etc. etc.  (Not to mention the fact that devotion to Christ is really stinking attractive.)

Now back to reality.  All of this talk is great, but right now I’m single so what does it really matter?  Trust me, it matters.  The Lord is not only concerned with my potential future husband’s sanctification.  He’s concerned with making ME more like Christ.  So the real question is, “Do I love Christ first and foremost?”

“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called.” ~ Isaiah 54:5

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.  But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:2-3

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” ~ Revelation 2:4

If the Lord chooses to never give me an earthly husband, will I be content with that?  Can I rest in the knowledge that He is sovereign and knows exactly how my life can bring Him the most glory?  Often we (or maybe it’s just me?) try to manipulate God.  We’re told that we have to be content in our singleness before God will bring that special someone into our lives.  So we try to be content, but if we’re striving for “contentment” so we can get a man sooner, we’re really just striving for a man.  God is not mocked.  He wants my heart – the whole thing.  And He pursues me with a patience, devotion, and fervor that far exceeds human understanding.  How sweet it is to be loved by love Himself!  The very author and definition of love reaching out to capture my heart and make me pure… wow!

Tonight I choose to sink into my sweet Savior’s loving arms and trust Him to lead me, protect me, provide for me, encourage me, fight for me, and make me more like Him.  Tonight I hope in Him instead of in a fairy tale.  Tonight I tore the list from my old journal, crumpled it up, and threw it away.

SAM_0645

Extreme Lies

XL

Lately I’ve become more and more aware of the polarization within American politics.  The Grand Canyon itself pales in comparison to the division between Republicans and Democrats at large.  From what I’ve seen and heard, to be Republican means believing that all Democrats are horrible people ruining the world.  To be Democrat means believing all Republicans are ignorant, religious fanatics.  This picking of sides extends across our borders as well.  The Israelis are either saints or devils, and the same goes for the Palestinians.  We must choose whom we will love and support.  We are told we must hate the others and heaven forbid anyone disagree with us.  Gone are the days, if they ever really existed, that those representing both sides of the pendulum’s swing could work together to reach a compromise.  No longer do the strengths of each come together to beautifully offset the weaknesses.

Unfortunately, this battle mentality infects every area of our lives.  Scroll through your newsfeed on facebook, the photos on your Instagram, your Twitterfeed… what do you see?  If you’re anything like me you see so many contradictions your head starts to spin.  I’m not even married yet and I’m already being bombarded with why I need to homeschool my children, AND why I need to get them in public schools, with the occasional blurp about why private schools are the way to go.  Don’t even get me started on breastfeeding, C-section vs. vaginal births, or epidurals.  <<<Please excuse the following soap box.  Can we just acknowledge that some women have no choice in these matters, and nearly all of them do what they truly believe to be the best for the child?  Can we get rid of the “vs.” when discussing these issues and encourage the moms in our lives instead?  I mean, let’s face it, being a mom is probably the toughest and messiest job on the planet.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a mom say that it’s easy, but I’ve heard plenty say it’s worth it.  Do you hear that?  It’s worth it.  It’s worth the struggles.  It’s worth wanting to rip your hair out.  It’s worth the pain.  But that also means the struggles and pain are real.  Moms have enough going on already; they don’t need the blogosphere telling them they’re doing it wrong.  I’ll step down from my soap box and return you to your original programming.>>> 

The barrage of “opinions” doesn’t end with politics or parenting.  I don’t have a boyfriend, but I’m told it’s wrong to postpone marriage.  The next post on my feed tells me all of the reasons why I should wait to enter that sacred covenant.  “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “I Gave Dating a Chance” are both real books.  We are told to have a positive body image and then immediately told we need this or that diet and/or exercise program.  I often feel like I need to grow my own produce, make my own soap, and never use medicine if I want to be a good woman. 

There is SO MUCH PRESSURE today to be the person society wants us to be, but no one really knows what that means because society also glorifies individuality.  This results in everyone setting out to defend themselves.  What truly saddens me is the way these messages are presented.  I am all for people having convictions and sticking to them, but I adamantly oppose attacking those with differing views.  Most of the disputes listed above are subjective.  One can choose either side of the debate without being in sin. 

So why do we make it a debate at all?  I sense that pride is the key issue here.  Someone does something differently than we do so we’re scared we’re doing it wrong.  We have to publicize all of the reasons why we’re “right” to be sure no one thinks less of us.  Think of how different our society would look if, rather than being constantly defensive about everything, we began encouraging one another in our differences as we all do our best at this thing called life.

Let’s be honest though, there are some things that are not subjective.  Some things are sin and sin should never be encouraged or even tolerated.  It must be confronted.  Far too often we end the sentence there.  “Sin must be confronted.”  We tend to leave off the “with grace and love” part.  We judge, condemn, and criticize rather than pray.  We delight in our “righteous indignation” with no concern for the soul of the sinner.  And, yes, I am just as guilty as the next person in this regard.

Those who know me are probably aware that I’m not Obama’s number one fan. I don’t even have his t-shirt, but can you imagine what our nation would be like if all of the Christians (who, sadly, are so quick to declare their disdain for our President) all rallied together to pray for him?  What if we all collectively decided we would never post/share/tweet another negative thing about him?  What if Obama had a Josiah moment of understanding the truth of Scripture?  Or an experience with Christ like Paul had on the road to Damascus?  I fear most American believers would be so jaded against him that, rather than helping him tear down the idols and welcoming him into the family of God, we would be suspicious and hesitant to fellowship with him.

We must break through these lies that tell us the world only exists in extremes.  We must fight for unity to furthest extent that we possibly can without compromising Scripture.  We must stand firm in the truths set forth in the Bible, but act lovingly and mercifully with those who do not.  We must realize that edifying one another is far more important than proving our point on trivial matters.  We must remember that Christlikeness, and His glory are the ultimate goal.  This must be our only extreme.  If we pursue Christ and forsake sin to the extreme, we will see the frivolousness of the things of this world.  We will see change.  We will see revival.  

 

Smack

Work today was ridiculous in just about every sense of the word.  By 3:30 I wanted to pull out my hair and hide under my desk.  I decided to throw a pity party instead… because, clearly, I was the ONLY person affected by the system being down campus-wide.  Please note the sarcasm in that last bit.

Have you ever seen the show NCIS?  The main character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, is known for giving his team members “subtle” wake-up calls when they lose focus or are not living up to the standard of excellence expected of them.

The Gibbs-Slap Files - NCIS

As Gibbs himself once said, “A slap to the face would be humiliating; the back of the head’s a wake-up call.”  Thankfully, God knows I’m a total doofus prone to foolishness.  He gives me a good Gibbs’-style smack to the back of the head when I need it.  Today I needed it and He delivered.

While out running errands I passed an overturned vehicle up against a concrete wall.  I’ve never seen anything quite like that in real life.  I called 911, prayed, and began thinking about the brevity of life.  *SMACK*

As I was pulling into the Wal-Mart parking lot, I saw a truck with it’s back bumper laying on the ground.  Then I noticed it had a seminary parking decal.  I looked to see if the culprit left a note.  No such luck.  My heart broke for the poor guy who owns that truck.  Seeing that reminded me of how blessed I really am.  *SMACK*

While inside Wal-Mart I became completely overwhelmed (happens pretty much every time I go these days).  I wished I was back in Prilep where life, and shopping, were simpler.  Then I remembered how, while in Prilep, I wished I had access to a Wal-Mart because “it makes things so much easier.”  I’m ashamed at how discontent I allow myself to be sometimes.  *SMACK*

As I headed back to the dorms I noticed that about 90% of my purchases this evening were for other people.  Then I realized this should be the norm, not the exception.  I really am extremely selfish.  *SMACK*

I got to my room and dropped all my bags.  I just wanted to not do anything for a while.  I put in a movie, one I had never seen, about two girls who are serving their mandatory terms in the Israeli army.  I was taken back to my time there last year and my heart broke remembering the suffering I saw.  It broke even more when I thought about how easily I push the pain of others from my mind, how soon I forget to pray for them, how quickly I complain when I really have no reason to do so.  *SMACK*

Tonight I am grateful for God’s “Gibbs’-smacks” bringing me back to the truth.  In the show, the recipient always becomes a more productive member of the team following the infamous slap.  Praying I will be a more productive member of His team.

Phillipians

 

Generic God & Cheap Christianity

Image

Think about God for a second.  What images, words, emotions and sensations come to mind?  Really think about it.  Don’t rush; I’ll wait for you.

Do you have your answer?  Good!  Now ponder this question, “Do the things I think of God match up with all of what Scripture teaches?”  Please don’t miss that little word “all.”  It’s like the Spud Webb of the sentence – small but powerful.  Does your image of God contain His holiness?  His beauty?  His wrath?  His love?  His envy?  His grace?  His justice?  His majesty?  His perfection?  His might?  His creativity?  His glory?  Does He require that you offer Him all that you have and all that you are?  If not, you need to do a heart check-up.  Is your God easy to serve and follow?  Does He mainly just want you to be happy?  Is He easy to forget or dismiss?  If so, you might be suffering from Generic God Disorder.

This modern-day Plague manifests itself in many ways.  Symptoms may include posting vague “uplifting” memes on social media followed soon after by a “funny” inappropriate post, giving God your Sundays while keeping the rest of the week for yourself, a lifestyle eerily similar to the world’s, giving God lip-service with no willingness to sacrifice anything for Him, a sense of entitlement, pride, lack of contentment, and the expectation of an easy life.  This list is definitely not exhaustive and suffering from a symptom does not necessarily mean you’ve got the disease.

Generic God Disorder views God as an entity whose primary concern is your happiness.  He encourages you when you’re feeling blue and sends you warm fuzzies on a beautiful spring day.  He promotes kindness and world peace.  He requires nothing and expects very little.  He’s bummed when you mess up, but it’s not that big of a deal because He’ll forgive you.   He’s convenient.  You bring Him up when it suits you, and tuck Him neatly away when it doesn’t.

Let’s be real here, most Americans today (and tons of people around the world) hold this view even if they would never actually say it.  The Bible, though, paints a very different picture for us.  If we call ourselves Christians we must take into account ALL of God’s revelation of Himself to us in Scripture.  Make no mistake, Generic God Disorder contains many elements of truth.  The devil knows you won’t fall for a blatant trick so he employs subtlety when crafting his treacherous deceit.  This is one reason Jesus recognized Satan as the father of lies (John 8:44).  As we allow those lies to shape our view of God, we cheapen Christianity.  We highlight the free aspect of the gift of salvation, but neglect the reality that Christ called His disciples to follow Him at all costs.  This meant forsaking family, jobs, security, friendships, and eventually even their lives.

Just look at Mark 4:21-22, “And going on from there He (Jesus) saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.”  These guys were fishermen.  They encountered Jesus while at work mending their nets.  When Jesus called though, they left their boat (their livelihood) and their father (family) and followed Him.

Christ demands that same commitment and devotion from all of His followers.  He desires it and He deserves it.  He bought our redemption at an unfathomable cost.  Seriously, we cannot possibly comprehend all that He sacrificed in becoming a man, living life as a human, suffering rejection and anguish and torture, being brutally murdered, and please don’t forget that the sinless One became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He took on the full, unbridled wrath of God so that we can stand before the Father, justified by grace because we are covered in the righteousness of Christ.  Consider His dying words in Mark 15:34, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”  If the weight of His suffering on your behalf still isn’t sinking in, go right now and read Isaiah 52:13-53:12.  I remember the moment I understood this truth more fully.  As I sat there listening to these words and reading them, I just wept.

I never want to lose that moment or forget that reality, but so often I allow life to get in the way and cloud my vision.  I lose focus of the price He paid.  I lose focus of Him.  I begin thinking of Him as a god who serves me, which is really no god at all.  I cheapen what it means to truly be a follower of Christ.

Dustin Kensrue’s version of the song “Rock of Ages” contains the refrain “Rock of Ages, You have paid the price.  You were cleft to cover me; let me hide myself in Thee.  Rock of Ages, no one takes Your life, yet you died that I might live; costly grace You freely give.”  Salvation is free.  We can never earn it, deserve it, or pay for it.  It is also very costly.  It cost Christ infinitely more than our minds can imagine and it costs us our lives, all that we are, and all that we have.  Let’s not cheapen it with easy believism… this idea that we can pray a prayer or walk an aisle and then live however we want after that.  That’s not the call of discipleship we see in the Bible.

When we cheapen Christianity, we miss out on so much of the goodness God has in store for us.  We only experience true joy and contentment when we fully abandon ourselves to Him.  We understand real freedom when we slay our selfish desires and focus on things of eternal significance rather than temporary pleasure.  To know God more intimately and to live life more fully we must heed Christ’s words in Luke 9:23 to “deny (ourselves) take up (our) cross daily and follow (Him).”  This is not a call to a ho-hum, boring life.  It is a call to unreasonable joy.  It is a call to excitement and adventure.  There will most likely be pain, suffering, and sacrifice along the way.  If our Savior experienced these things, why should we consider ourselves deserving of any less?  Yet even in the suffering there is peace, hope, and contentment.  Jesus said that He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10).

Those who view the Lord as a kill-joy or only seek Him when it seems convenient have a puny, unbiblical view of God and are dying of Generic God Disorder.  Consider Matthew 7:21-23.  Jesus clearly states that there will be people who enter eternity convinced that they’ll be let into heaven and He will say to them, “I never knew You.  Depart from Me.”

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Salvation is not determined by whether or not you call yourself a Christian.  It’s upon belief in Christ’s redemptive work in His life, death, burial, and resurrection.  It’s in confessing His lordship in your life.  Let that word soak in… lordship.  In other words, He is in control.  A friend of mine recently told me of how she has been sharing her faith with her co-worker.  She said a major turning point came when she finally said, “I believe Jesus is Lord.  He died on the cross to pay for our sins,” rather than sticking with the typical go-to response of “I’m a Christian.”  She went on to tell me how exhilarating it was to experience the truth of Scripture played out in her life as she walks in obedience.  This young lady gets it!  We must move beyond these broad-stroke descriptions of God and really determine what we believe.  Then we must ask ourselves if what we believe matches what the Bible says.

I’ve seen this Generic God Disorder gaining more and more ground here in America and around the world. Did Christ endure God’s wrath for this kind of faith?  Did the disciples face torture and death for this kind of faith?  Are those believers who constantly risk their lives to fellowship with one another doing so for this kind of faith?  What about those believers around the world who spend hours upon hours in prayer?  I seriously doubt it.  Part of me wants to stay out of it and be quiet, but I simply cannot.  I cry out with Jeremiah, “If I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in,” (Jeremiah 20:9), and with Paul as he proclaims in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”  Not to mention the warning God gives in Ezekiel 33:6, “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.”  One day we will each give an account to God for what we have believed and how we have lived in light of our beliefs.  I cannot bare the thought of someone hearing, “I never knew you; depart from Me” because I failed to speak up.  And so I seek to speak truth in love, with a genuine ardor for His glory.

 

Speak Love

Speak love.

These two words keep coming back to me.

Speak love.

I can’t get them out of my head.

Speak love.

I keep deleting and re-writing this post because I want it to absolutely ooze with love and grace.  I want there to be not even a hint of bitterness, self-righteousness, frustration, judgment, or condemnation.  I simply want to speak love.

The words first came to me after reading a blog and the comments that followed.  As far as I can tell, the blogger intended to spark a healthy conversation among believers in order to more effectively minister to the younger generation.  He succeeded in igniting a full-on battle instead.  I saw in those comments a lot of finger-pointing and blame-casting.  I saw little love and grace.  Sometimes it’s hard to speak love.

I wanted to respond in frustration at first.  But then I began to see the wounds behind the words.  Painful memories, past failures, and insecurities cause us to say and do things we normally might not.  These people don’t need me to judge them for their careless words (the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of convicting those who need it).  They need me to speak love.

The hardest part for me came as I realized what non-believers would think as they read the comments.  I kept thinking about John 13.  Jesus had just finished washing the disciples’ feet – giving them an amazing example of how His followers are to serve one another.  Then, just before they began making their way to the garden where He would be arrested before His crucifixion, He said this, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)  These were some of His final words to His disciples and He focuses on loving one another.  Would an outsider reading those comments see love?  Would they know that we are followers of Christ?  Would they want to be a part of our family?  Or would they just see a bunch of bickering religious people?  It is imperative for our witness that we speak love.

I believe social media often makes it easier for us to speak critically of others.  We say things online we would probably never say to someone standing in front of us.  A great deal of communication gets lost in text-only conversations that can cause us to misinterpret what is being said.  Maybe we think our comment is funny.  Sometimes I think we just forget the person on the other side of the computer (or tablet or cell phone or other gadget) is also human with emotions and feelings.  They become just a name on a screen.  The same is true for famous people and politicians.  I wonder why we so freely speak ill of people we have most likely never even met.  Some argue that, because these individuals have placed themselves in the limelight, they deserve whatever they get.  I don’t see that in Scripture.  I see, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths (or from your fingertips), but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)  I also see “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor… Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:10,14,18,21)  Then I read this, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)  Or what about, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)?  These are just a few of MANY passages that address how we respond to others.  The Bible teaches us to speak love.

I do not mean to insinuate that we should turn a blind eye to sin and never hold one another accountable.  There will most likely be times in our lives when we will need to confront a brother or sister, but we need to shower them with the same grace Christ lavishes upon us.  We need to pray before, during, and after the conversation.  We need to speak love.

I considered posting a blog a couple times over the past few weeks.  I thought about writing a blog on how much I love the fall season (football and awesome weather anyone?) or how moms are superheroes (they definitely are).  There would be nothing wrong with writing on either of those topics, but they did not grab a hold of my heart like this one did.  I simply could not shake the feeling that I needed to share with others what I’m learning.  I am trying to learn to keep silent unless my words will encourage or help “stir… another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)  I still need to grow A LOT in this area personally, but maybe… just maybe… as each of us makes a conscious effort to choose our words wisely, we can help one another to speak love.

Conviction