Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Right Thing To Say

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The kind of person I am is revealed by the words I speak, and in the twelfth chapter of Matthew, Jesus compared my words to fruit.  My words can be sweet and nourishing or they can be hard and bitter.  What is the taste that lingers when I speak?  Do people want to hear more of what I have to say, or do they want to get away from me?

…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (Mt 12:34b)

My words reveal my heart. If I want my words to change then my heart must change, and by “heart” I mean my attitude.  In another parable, Jesus compared the heart to the soil of a field. The soil was either hard, stony, thorny, or good soil, and on whichever type of soil seeds fell would determine how those seeds would grow.

So, how do I change my heart to ensure that the soil is good so my roots can grow deep and my branches produce good fruit?

If my heart is hard:
Jesus taught that people’s hearts are hardened based on what they hear and what they see (see Matthew 13:15-17).  So, in order for me to cultivate the soil of my heart, I need to be careful and purposeful about what I’m listening to and what I allow my eyes to look at.

This doesn’t mean I plug my ears and sing, “La La La” to block out any opposing viewpoints, but I need to be a gatekeeper for my heart.  It’s important to understand other people’s views, but I need to determine how listening to them is affecting me.  Do I need to change my viewpoint, or do I need to respectfully listen and make a choice to leave their views with them?  Does that make sense?  Paul wrote about not having a weak mind that is tossed about with every wind and wave.  So, it’s important for me to be secure in myself and my core values, and be careful about what I allow myself to think about.  Another effective way to soften a hard heart is through prayer and worship.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

In the same way, I need to be careful what I allow myself to look at.  In Job’s defense, he stated,

I made a covenant with my eyes… (Job 31:1)

I need to do the same.

If there are stones in my heart
I believe the stones represent wounds, so to dig out the stones, I need to forgive those who hurt me.

If there are thorns in my heart
I need to cast my cares and worries upon the LORD, and trust Him for every aspect of my life.

Cultivating the soil of my heart, breaking up the hard ground through prayer and worship, digging out the stones through forgiveness, and casting my cares upon the LORD prepares me to receive the good and incorruptible seed, which is the Word of God, which produces abundant fruit in my life by the words I speak.

Why Do I Blog?

While scrolling through the WordPress.com site, I discovered they were offering a free two-week course on the basics of blogging.  I thought it would be fun, and I’m looking forward to what I can learn so I can figure out a direction for my current blog.  This is the first assignment–to consider what it is that I want to accomplish with my blog and to develop goals.

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My first blog, Next Year: A Marathon was for a specific purpose.  I needed a tool to keep me accountable to fulfill my goal of completing a marathon.  That blog chronicled my journey from running my first mile to crossing the marathon finish line.  Now that goal is complete, so I started a new blog, this blog, with the lofty purpose of having a place to unload my brain.  I don’t really have a specific goal in mind.  It is on my bucket list to someday write a book, but now is not the time.  Blogging gives me a place to unleash my thoughts and ease my mind.  I don’t really have a need for an audience, I’m not trying to impress anyone, but I sincerely appreciate when someone reads what I write, and it’s even nicer when someone puts in that extra effort to click “Like.”  There is tremendous power in the “Like,” and comments are worth their weight in gold.

For years I scribbled in spiral notebooks, and those notebooks are in boxes or up on shelves collecting dust.  Awhile ago I pulled down some of those notebooks and skimmed through them.  There were things I wrote years ago that were powerful.  It was hard to believe that I was the person who wrote them…it was as if the words of my past were teaching me a lesson for my present situation.  I really wanted a place to store the things I wrote and an easy method to retrieve them.  Blogging helps me organize my thoughts.  Blogging gives me an outlet to speak.  It gives me a voice whether anybody is listening or not.  It’s a place I can let my thoughts be known, because you will likely not find me engaging in verbal debate.

My dream blog would have a size-able audience of people who enjoy my writing, are inspired by what I have to say, and who can relate to me.  I would love to see the comments section filled with encouraging words from my readers who allow me the honor of encouraging them reciprocally.

My goals for this blog:

  • To post weekly.
  • To write to express my thoughts rather than impress potential readers.
  • To subscribe to and participate by commenting on five other blogs.

So, pretty basic, these goals of mine.

Let There Be Light–Be the Light

I truly love this time of year when the hot, sticky summer cools off into crisp, fresh fall.  I love the colors and smells of this season.  I love getting to wear cosy sweaters and boots and scarves and hats.  I love sipping chai lattes, and I look forward to that first taste apple crisp and pumpkin pie.  There is one thing, however, that I absolutely detest about this time of year, and that is Halloween.

The focus on death, horror, fear, and mischief is not something I want to celebrate. I know other people have different convictions, and they are free to do what they like.  Knowing the origins of many of the practices of Halloween prevents me from having a clear conscience in participating myself.  In past years, my husband and I chose to merely ignore Halloween.  Now that we have children, we cannot ignore it.  We need to face it and explain to them why we don’t celebrate like others do.  We explained to them that we want to honor God in our celebrations.  We did choose to allow our kids to get costumes that inspire them to aspire to greatness, and we will attend the Hallelujah Carnival at my daughter’s school for an evening of family fun.  It is a compromise that I don’t take lightly.  The decision we came to is that rather than cursing the darkness, we want to be the Light.

There is a lot of debate and much written about this topic of whether Christians should celebrate Halloween or not, and it is really not my purpose for this post, and there is more happening in the world now that fills people with dread–ISIS and the Ebola virus to name a few.  The purpose of this post is to discuss what it means to be a light.  Jesus said,

“…a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:15b-16

A light serves three distinct functions.  The first is to counter the darkness so people can see.  At first the light can be uncomfortable and downright painful.  When a person is in the dark or is asleep, suddenly turning on a light is painful for them.  But when their eyes adjust and things come into focus they can see what is truly happening around them enabling them to make good decisions about what they should do next…even if it’s just getting out of bed.

The second function of light is to give warmth to those who are cold.

The third is my favorite.  Later this year my family will celebrate Hanukkah.  The purpose of the Hanukkah menorah is not to give off useful light whereby a person can see or to warm themselves.  The light of the Hanukkah menorah is merely to be beautiful.  It is to be placed in a window so all can see its beauty and remember the great miracle God performed.

Leonid Afremov is one of my favorite artists, and I included an image of one of his paintings.  What strikes me is that it is a dreary, rainy night, and the couple is walking close together to keep each other warm.  I can imagine they are hunched together, eyes downcast, and hurrying as fast as they can to get out of the cold and the rain, but look at the beauty revealed by the lampposts!  These lampposts fulfill all three functions of light.  They illuminate the path and surrounding beauty, and if the couple were to get close enough, there would be warmth, and the lampposts are in themselves beautiful.  We are to be like those lampposts being beautiful and revealing the beauty around us in the midst of dreadful dreariness and offering to them comforting warmth.  People may be focused on their own suffering and not even notice that there is beauty all around them.  The lampposts don’t shout to them, “Hey!  Look up.  Look around you.  Don’t you see?”  The lampposts are just there being the light.

RAIN_RUSTLE___LEONID_AFREMOV_by_Leonidafremov