SPEECH

Talking Heads

How good are your communication skills? Are you able to find the perfect words to articulate your question or statement? When you are angry or frustrated, do you fall back on language that is either inflammatory or perhaps profane? Conversely, what motivates you to speak in a manner that promotes peace and beckons understanding?

I love words. I am humored by the examples in the dictionary of word contradictions. For instance, there is the fact that “love” in the language of tennis means “nothing.” In the world of texting and tweeting, word choice is critical. The reader has to “get” your meaning without the benefits of sight and sound. Proofread before you send!

I also love movies. I am fortunate that my husband does too, so most Friday nights you can find us munching popcorn and anticipating the thrill of a good story set in motion by a director and talented artists. You can probably guess where this is going … the inexplicable use of profanity that dots some movies and peppers others is becoming all too common. We came out of a movie tonight, enriched by the joy of the story and yet, disappointed and frustrated by the language. I can only surmise that the writer/director felt the story would have been mundane without the “colorful language” or that the rating required the profanity to attract the largest audience. They were regrettably mistaken. Great actors and great stories don’t need profanity to weave their tale in a way that connects with the audience.

Our plight is described in James 3:8–10 (NLT). “But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”

How, then, are we to control our tongue? We must replace our prideful desire to “have the last and loudest word” with God’s desire to have us speak His Word. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB) says “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

We must seek God’s wisdom and His ways, as stated in James 3:13, 17–18 (NLT). “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” Remember, your speech and sometimes your silence can be the very tools needed to reflect the wisdom of God.

Holy Spirit

A free flying white dove isolated on a black background     The Holy Spirit

is the manifestation of Christ in us. The Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Trinity—God is our Creator, Jesus Christ is our Savior, and the Holy Spirit is God’s gift of comfort and direction to us while Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of God until His Second Coming. When Jesus died for our sins, was buried, rose the third day, and then ascended to heaven to be with His Father, God gave us the Holy Spirit for instruction, revelation and power.

In the Old Testament book of Exodus, there is mention of God’s Holy Spirit stirring the hearts of those giving gifts for the building of the Tabernacle. In Psalm 51, David pleads with God not to take the Holy Spirit from him. Isaiah 63 tells of the Israelite’s rebellion and how this grieved God’s Holy Spirit. Daniel was known to King Nebuchadnezzar as the man in his kingdom who had within him the “spirit of the holy gods.”

The New Testament tells us that Mary’s virgin pregnancy was a gift of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 1. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in Matthew 4 to be tempted by Satan. In Luke 3, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove settled upon Him. A voice from heaven said, “You are my much loved Son, yes, my delight.” Luke 3:22 (TLB)

The Day of Pentecost is one of the most dramatic accounts of the power of the Holy Spirit, recorded in Acts 2. As the believers met together, there was the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and what appeared to be tongues of fire settled on their heads. These Christ-followers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know. The Jews were amazed and perplexed that these men from Galilee were speaking to each of them in the native language of their birth.

Do you have Holy Spirit power? When you believe that Jesus has taken your sins to the cross, that His physical body has been resurrected and He has ascended to heaven to prepare a place for you, you have daily access to Holy Spirit power. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is your personal S-GPS—your Spiritual Guidance and Power System. Since you cannot know what day or season Christ will return for you, you have been given this power to help you navigate challenging circumstances, and embolden you to share what Jesus Christ has done for you.

Private Launch of First Fruits

It was my pleasure to enjoy meeting new friends as well as welcoming dear long-time friends in the home of Jim and Janice Pitts on February 18, 2016. Hostesses for this launch party were Janice Pitts, Gretchen Sampson, Brenda Gaustad, Camille Dillard, Sherry Scammahorn and Claudia Nelson.

I signed copies of First Fruits before and after sharing my book-writing journey. The story began with my salvation experience when I was eight, and continued through the experiences, both blessings and trials, which helped frame my spiritual growth leading to the writing of First Fruits.

Enjoy the photos below from this book signing event!
IMG_0426IMG_0423IMG_0417IMG_0420SB Closeup with Book

LOVE

I love this cute take on our lives in 2016! Sometimes we may even agree that Wi-Fi does it for us. But, let’s look a little deeper at why we really do need LOVE

Creative romantic illustration with smartphones and ribbon with slogan drawn in flat style

What exactly is love? Is it a feeling—a thought—or an action? In John Bisagno’s book, Love is Something You Do,[1] the focus is on relationships; the message being not only to say you love someone, but to show them love through your actions. Whether the object of your affection is your spouse, parent, child, friend, pet, teacher, boss or pastor, they interpret your love by how you treat them.

Are there different kinds of love? The Bible speaks of four distinct forms of love from the Greek:

  • Agape: Unconditional love; that love which our heavenly Father shows us in the person of Jesus Christ who first loved us. He did not wait for us to love Him, but proved His love for us through His suffering and death on the cross for the redemption of sins.
  • Storge: Natural affection between a parent and a child. I think of my Dad when the word “love” comes up. He died Thanksgiving, 2012, at 88. Though he was a very reserved man and found it difficult to express his love verbally, during his last decade he developed the habit of saying just the word “love” at the end of phone conversations. That one word said it all, and is now my fondest memory of him.
  • Phileo: Brotherly love, where there is give and take, loyalty and understanding.
  • Eros: Physical, emotional love which can exist with or without logic.

There is an entire chapter in the Bible dedicated to the subject of love. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the Love Chapter. Many couples use it as the scripture reading for their wedding. It begins so beautifully, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (NASB).

In today’s vernacular, The Living Bible translates the verse like this: “If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise.”

So then, what is the most accurate definition of love?

God is Love

  • 1 John 4:10 (NASB)—In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
  •  And how do we respond to this authentic, extreme example of love?

Love One Another

  • 1 John 4:12 (NASB)—No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

 

[1] Bisagno, John R., Love is Something You Do www.amazon.com

Sacrifice

Soldiers   ACTS of SACRIFICE

command our attention. Today we see reports in the news as a fireman sacrifices his life to save victims from a raging fire; a soldier gives his life to save his platoon; a policeman takes a bullet to protect a citizen; a mother risks an unhealthy pregnancy to save her child; a father sacrifices everything to take care of his family. It seems that man can and does rise to the challenge of honor and sacrifice.

Conversely, we are repulsed by the human sacrifice associated with cultures of the past. The Phoenicians of Carthage were reputed to practice child sacrifice according to Plutarch (ca. 46–120 AD). Children were roasted to death on a heated bronze idol while still conscious.[1] In contrast, Leviticus contains many references to the Jewish blood sacrifices of animals, as well as bloodless sacrifices of grain and wine. God gave definite laws for them to follow concerning what and how to sacrifice. All of this was done in homage to their respective gods: the Phoenicians to an idol, the Jews to Jehovah God.

But where does the honorable sacrificial heart originate? My mind goes immediately to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He gave up His life on earth at the age of 33 so that all who would believe that He is God’s Son might have an eternal life with Him. He gave up His time with family and friends. He sacrificed His ministry to the multitudes. He withheld His power to prevent the physical agony and humiliation He experienced when soldiers nailed Him to a cross. Throughout history, there has been no other religion whose deity sacrificed his own life for his people. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV). There exists no more noble and consequential sacrifice than Jesus Christ’s act of perfect love.

cross with verse

If we conclude that there are both honorable and dishonorable sacrifices, and that Christ’s death was the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind, what are we to do with this information? When we follow Christ’s example in caring for the needs of others, and putting their interests ahead of our own, we honor His sacrifice for us. It is a way of acknowledging that we are His because of His great love for us; then translating that love to meet the needs of others. Why? To introduce them to the Savior.

 

[1] Stager, Lawrence; Samuel R. Wolff (1984). “Child Sacrifice in Carthage: Religious rite or population control?” Journal of Biblical Archeological Review. January:31–46

Starwood Bible Study Signing Event

Starwood Signing Event    I was invited to speak at the Starwood Bible Study signing event for my book, First Fruits, held in Katherine Menkemeller’s home yesterday, February 4, 2016. We meet each Thursday in the Spring and Fall using different curriculum which the members vote on for the upcoming season. This spring we will begin Priscilla Shirer’s seven-week workbook/video study of The Armor of God,” led by Angel Hadley. If you live in the Frisco area, and want to get involved in studying God’s Word with a great group of women, contact me and I will introduce you to the group.

Yesterday was an opportunity for me to share my spiritual journey for writing First Fruits in the form of a “spiritual timeline.” The basic idea is that we all have spiritual markers in our lives, both good and bad, which move us forward in our faith. All too often, we seem to learn many of our important lessons during adversity. God does know each of us better than we know ourselves, and He knows exactly when and how to get our attention.

So, as I said to this group of women, your spiritual timeline begins not on the day you were born, but on the day you were born again. Whether you have a specific date in your memory, or just a vivid recall of the day you asked Christ into your heart to save you from an eternal death without Him, that day should be the beginning of your timeline … the Day of Your Salvation!

The timeline is rarely, I dare say never, a straight line inclining toward the day you leave the earth to spend eternity with Jesus Christ. There are going to be jagged lines representing the dips, slides, falls and crashes. Horizontal lines might indicate where we “coast” a little. And then, there are the beautiful, if usually short, lines with an exciting trajectory towards the heavens that leave us on the mountaintop of our faith for a little while. Each timeline is different, but their common thread is movement.  We are all moving either towards The Father or away from Him at any given time.

I challenge you to begin your timeline today. Put some thought and prayer into it, and ask God to help you see and understand the spiritual markers in your life. Think of events such as births, deaths, weddings, graduations, career moves, divorce, spiritual decisions, and especially those times of rebellion that bring you to a better understanding of who God is and what His purpose is for you. Seeing in black and white where you have been will help guide you in determining where you want to go.

Bottom line – God has a divine plan for each of us, but to know it, we have to intentionally seek His Presence in our lives. We have to actively search His Word and talk to Him, ask questions, and then be willing to wait for His answer. I’m excited to see what new things He has for you, so let me hear through the comments section below.

God’s Best to you!

Susan