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Posts tagged with ‘word of god’

  • Spirit + Life + Linguistics

    Ah, Christmas break: the one time of year I refuse to set my alarm and allow myself to sleep until my body feels it’s had enough.  I’ve been sleeping till 8 am the last few days which may not seem late to you, but when 5:30 am is your usual wake up call, 8 am feels like noon!  It’s been a restful and relaxing two weeks, although the achiever in me is officially ready to get back to accomplishing more than binging Netflix’s Manhunt: Unabomber series.

    What a fascinating show, though.  I had heard of the Unabomber.  I remember seeing his sketch as a child, and since my mom worked for the U.S. Postal Service, we paid attention when his devastating crimes were on the news.  I knew he mailed bombs and successfully remained anonymous for 17 long years, but I had never heard the story of how the FBI caught the twisted recluse.

    Linguistics.

    The study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language.

    FBI profiler, James Fitzgerald relentlessly studied the Unabomber’s 35,000-word manifesto–the structure and nature of his words.  He studied how he phrased things, how he spelled things. And based on his language alone, the profiler was able to predict how old the bomber was, where he grew up, that he lived cut off from the rest of the world, and when he received his Ph.D.  All of that and more, just based on studying his type-written words.

    Fitzgerald believed that if the manifesto were published, someone, somewhere would recognize the language and turn the Unabomber in, and he was right.

    A woman read the manifesto and immediately recognized the language from letters her husband had received from his brother.  Could the Unabomber be her brother-in-law whom she had never met?  She turned him in as a suspect and handed over a box full of letters Ted Kaczynski had sent to her husband over many years.  After matching up words, phrases, and timelines, the FBI got their search warrant which led to Ted’s arrest and a lifetime behind bars.

    This was the first search warrant in history based on forensic linguistics.  Kaczynski was the first man in the history of the United States convicted on language clues.

    Language is very much a part of who we are.  The words we say and the way we say them represent our age, our ethnicity, where we grew up, and what we know.

    I used to confuse my husband when we were dating when I started talking about crayons because I pronounce them “crowns.”  He thought it was just a weird Sarah word, but the more he got to know my family, he realized we all say “crowns.”  And it doesn’t end there; it seems that everyone who grew up in East Tulsa says it the same way.  Josh was a South Tulsa kid, and it’s easy to tell when he says “Cray-ons” all fancy like.

    I’m sure you can think of specific words or phrases you say, that would be concrete enough evidence to prove you were a 90s kid, an avid C.S. Lewis reader, a west-coaster or an east-coaster.

    But what about a Christ-follower?  Is your speech, your writing, the way you string words together, concrete enough evidence to prove your devotion to God and His way of doing things?

    Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or SAY, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

    Whatever we do or SAY.  God’s Word is clear: our words matter.

    If a linguistics expert were to study you, combing over the 20,000 words you say in a day, would they conclude that you were just like Jesus?  Do the words that come out of your mouth or off of your fingertips represent Jesus?

    Every word Jesus said was full of truth and grace.  His words were deliberate, thought through.  Full of hope.  He was never talking just to hear Himself talk, but to set captives free.

    Every. Moment. Red. Letter.

    Everyone could tell He wasn’t from around these parts.  He was always talking Kingdom.  His words were futuristic and confident, but not prideful.  He was honoring–so, so honoring of His father.  He spoke love, and he never complained, like ever.  He was full of wisdom and perfect advice.  He used his speech to encourage.

    I could go on and on about the beautiful language of Jesus, but I think this statement from Him sums it all up.

    The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

    If everything we say is meant to represent Jesus than everything we say should be spirit and life.  And because Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to flow in and through us like a mighty river, we have everything we need to represent Jesus and represent Him well!

    I’ve noticed when I speak spirit to spirit with my kids it goes over so much better than when I speak from my flesh to theirs.  My flesh accomplishes nothing.  I can yell and be annoyed and tell them to stop being mean to each other, or I can ask the Holy Spirit to speak through me as I sit them down and purpose to represent Jesus and get to the root of the issue at hand–whether it’s jealousy or someone just being tired and hungry.

    When I speak life over my husband, he receives it.  He soaks it up.  It charges him to step right on into whatever God is calling him to do.  But when I speak death the opposite happens.

    Spirit and Life or Flesh and Death?  You get to choose.  You get to decide how you’ll string words together this year.  You get to decide if you’ll let your flesh lead the way in your day-to-day conversations or if you’ll allow the Spirit to work through you.  You get to decide if you speak death over yourself by agreeing with the lies of the enemy or if you speak life by agreeing with the promises of God.  The choice seems obvious to me, but just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s not easy.

    It’s humanly impossible to represent Jesus with whatever we say or type this year, unless, we decide to let Him do the heavy lifting.

    Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

    If you’ll accept this holy burden to speak spirit and life and allow Jesus to be your teacher, you can genuinely represent Him to every person you come in contact with this coming new year. And that’s good news because what the world needs is more of Him and less of us.

    Remember, language is very much a part of who we are.  The words we say and the way we say them represent our age, our ethnicity, where we grew up, and what we know.

    May our language represent Jesus and everything good and perfect that He stands for.  Spirit and Life, friends, Spirit and Life!

  • The Root Of Worry

    We all know that we shouldn’t worry. Worry causes us to lose sleep and age faster.  It can interfere with our appetite and relationships. Worry leads to anxiety and can cause us to be physically sick.

    Webster’s defines worry like this: to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat; to touch or disturb something repeatedly; to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling; to afflict with mental distress or agitation.

    Usually we associate the word worry with the latter, mental distress or agitation, but I think the other vivid definitions paint a pretty clear picture of what happens to us when we get stuck in cycles of worry. Our thoughts harass us by tearing at our peace, snapping at the truth of God’s Word, like a terrier snaps and tears at a rat. Instead of casting our cares on the Lord and leaving them there, worry causes us to disturb or touch those cares over and over again.  Worry changes our position by repeated pushing. We can be singing “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” one moment and then pushed into sinking sand by worry the next.

    Worry is not cute. Worry is not our friend. Worry is not to be embraced or excused.

    I love this red-letter wake-up call brought to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:25:

    Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life… 

    Put an end to your worrying!  Make it stop, Jesus says!  You’re wasting your time.  Ive got too much for you to do, too high of a call on your life, for you to let worry take up space in your heart and mind.  Stop it!  

    Okay, Lord. We got it. Stop worrying. But how? It’s not like we have a stop/start button which we can push to make worry magically disappear from our lives. So how do we obey this command to stop worrying, so we may start fully living?

    I believe the key is found in verse 26. After Jesus tells us to stop being perpetually uneasy, He goes on to say:

    Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 

    Aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?

    When is the last time you sat down and really thought about how valuable you are to Jesus? When is the last time you let wonder and awe fill your heart as you let the love of God wash over you? I love the worship song “Since Your Love” by United Pursuit. There’s a line which says, “Since your love got a hold of me, I’m a new creation.” God’s love wants to get a hold of us, but in order for that to happen, we have to slow down long enough for it to catch us.  

    I think women tend to struggle with worry more than men, because we are always moving from one thing to the next. We pour out, we give out, then we wake up and do it all over again. Even in our quiet times, we pour out our love on Jesus, but we pack up and move on before He can pour His love out on us.

    When we find ourselves dealing with worry, the issue at hand isn’t really worry, the issue is an underestimation of how greatly God values us. 

    Too often, we let unreliable sources determine our value. We measure our worth based on how many likes we get on Instagram, how quickly a friend responds to a text, whether or not our husband tells us we look pretty, whether or not we get the promotion at work, if we accomplish our to-do lists, or if we’ve been good Christian girls who’ve read their Bibles, prayed, and paid their tithes. We try and let our friends, spouses, employers, kids, or our Christian activities determine our worth, but there’s a much more reliable way to discover your value.  

    The value of an item, like a painting for instance, is revealed by the price someone is willing to pay for it. The value of that painting goes up if someone important like the queen owned it.

    So you could say that the two questions which must be answered to determine our value are 1) What was paid for me? and 2) Who owns me?

    Jesus paid for you with His own life. You were bought and paid for by Christ, you belong to Him.

    The cross states your value and the cross has the final word. Jesus loves you and values you!

    We know it, most of us have been singing it since we were tiny: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” But why don’t we always buy in?

    When we first moved to Oklahoma City I went to get my hair trimmed. I made the mistake of going to a training center for hair stylists because I figured anyone could handle a trim, and I was right, they trimmed my hair just fine. But it took four hours for the stylist-in-training to wash, dry, and trim my hair.  Four. Hours. Not even kidding. When I first sat down in the chair the owner of the school came over and started running his fingers through my hair and telling me how beautiful and healthy and strong it was. I was feeling pretty good about my hair at that point. But as time went on, hour after hour of sitting through the world’s slowest hair trim ever, I observed the owner tell four or five other ladies the exact same things about their hair. He told every client who came in what nice hair they had. He was just schmoozing customers. He didn’t really mean it and his words lost their value.

    Sometimes, because we’ve not only heard that Jesus loves us a million times, but have also heard that He loves everyone else a million times, those words lose their value, and when that happens, we lose our value and worry becomes a comfort zone.  

    After Jesus shares about the birds and the lilies he asks a sobering question: why do you have so little faith?

    In other words, why do you doubt how valuable you are to me? Why do you insult me by worrying?

    The Holy Spirit is asking the same question to us today. Why do you have so little faith? Why don’t you believe God really, truly, passionately loves you and values you more than a little bird or a wildflower? What’s happened to cause you to doubt how valuable you are to Him? What makes His love for you seem more like an illusion than reality?

    To stop worry we must give our entire attention, devotion, and affection to God and allow Him to give us His attention, devotion, and affection in return. We must stop worrying about how to stop worrying and start convincing ourselves that the Word of God is true.  

    Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

    Click here to download a free small group discussion guide to go with this article.

  • Desiring The Gifts Of The Spirit

    “The walls of the heart are elastic, and desire expands them.”

    That gets my vote for the most eye-opening sentence I’ve read this year.

    A few weeks ago, I was on my back on my bedroom floor, trying to catch my breath after a dreaded cardio workout, and trying to hear from God.  I knew I only had a few minutes until my kid’s internal roosters cock-a-doodle-do’d and sent them down the long hall way from their bedrooms to mine.  I held my phone in the air above my face while I read through a familiar chapter in Romans.  A certain verse seemed to stand out from the rest.  I swiped over to a commentary and that’s when I read those eye-opening words, “The walls of the heart are elastic, and desire expands them.”  That got me off my back.  I sat up, and the Holy Spirit started to unpack mountains of truth in the blink of an eye.  His message was loud and clear:

    Expand Your heart, daughter.  Desire more.

    The Holy Spirit is an extravagant gift giver.  The focus of I Corinthians 12 is all about spiritual gifts.  The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.

    Each of these gifts has a two-fold purpose–one: to glorify Jesus, and two: to strengthen and encourage other people.

    We are told more than once in scripture to earnestly desire these gifts.  In the words of Dwight K. Schrute, “Question…” How are you doing with that?  Be completely honest with yourself.  When was the last time you were craving, desiring, or aching to unwrap one of those gifts?

    Some do not desire the gifts of the Spirit because they simply don’t understand them or have never heard that they should desire them.  Maybe you’ve assumed these gifts are reserved for special people on a ministry staff.  Others don’t desire the gifts because of selfishness.  Most Christians spend more time working on a better “me” instead of looking to build others up.

    Think about the purpose of the gifts again: to glorify Jesus and to strengthen and encourage other people.  These gifts have little to do with the one who is told to desire them and much to do with others.  I wonder if we would crave spiritual gifts in a greater way if they were for our personal gain.  #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm

    The call of this devotional is to expand the walls of our hearts with a desire for spiritual gifts, because when we make room in our elastic-lined hearts for the gifts of the Spirit, we will begin to operate in them.  Our actions will begin to glorify Jesus and encourage others.

    Let’s quickly look at each of the gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12 in order to create a deeper hunger in ourselves for them.

    ● Gift of Wisdom:  The Holy Spirit working through us so we can hear and speak wise counsel, especially in an important situation.

    ● Gift of Knowledge:  The unique ability to share knowledge that could only be revealed supernaturally and to know what is true.

    ● Gift of Faith:  The ability to fully trust God in any situation.

    ● Gift of Healing: The Spirit working through us to pray for the sick and see them healed.

    ● Miraculous Powers:  The Holy Spirit working through us to “override” the laws of nature and divinely intervene in situations.

    ● Gift of Prophecy:  The Holy Spirit working through us to build up, encourage, comfort, and strengthen others in a naturally supernatural way.

    ● Distinguishing Between the Spirits:  The Holy Spirit working through us to recognize what is influencing people and to decipher what is of the Spirit and what is not.

    ● Gift of Tongues:  A personal language of prayer given by God, so a believer can communicate with Him beyond the limits of their own knowledge and understanding.

    ● Gift of Interpretation: Allows tongues to benefit those, other than the one speaking in tongues, by interpreting the heavenly language into an earthly language.

    Now, some of you may already be wondering which gifts you have or you’re trying to decide which gifts you want.  I know they are in list form, but don’t look at this list like a sandwich bag at Which Wich where you get to decide which gifts sound good to you.  That’s the Holy Spirit’s call.  More important than knowing the name of the gift that’s at work through you, or choosing the one which suits you best, is the desire to be used by God however He sees fit. 

    Make your prayer be, “Lord I want to bring glory to Jesus today, and I want to strengthen and encourage others.”  Let your desire for the gifts grow and expand the walls of your heart, and as you do that, you can expect that God will give you the desires of your heart.  He will begin to use you, and you’ll begin to discover, pinpoint, and appreciate the gifts in operation in your life. 

    One gift we are told to especially desire is the gift of prophecy (I Corinthians 14:1). Let’s make that our focus this month.

    Prophecy is simply allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us to build up, encourage, comfort, and strengthen others in a naturally supernatural way. 

    That’s one of my favorite phrases ever: naturally supernatural. 

    We often see the Holy Spirit as spooky, but He’s not.  He wants to work supernaturally through what’s natural to you. 

    If it’s natural for you to text a friend, the Holy Spirit can supernaturally work through a text message.  I get supernatural texts quite often.  This morning a friend texted me to let me know she was praying for me and that God wanted me to know I was covered and loved.  I had no idea, and my friend had no idea, that my afternoon would bring some very stressful things my way.  The words in that text came back to my heart and comforted me.  The Holy Spirit prophesied to me, through her, via text.

    Ladies, let’s desire the gifts.  Let’s desire to glorify Jesus and encourage and strengthen others: our spouses, children, friends, our small group, co-workers, people we serve with at church, whoever the Lord brings to our attention. Let’s not make this a “part” of our everyday lives, segregated and compartmentalized, rather, let this be who we are: glorying Jesus and encouraging others.

    For a free small group study guide to go along with this article click here.

  • Auto Correct

    I’ll just come right out and say it. I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I used to like it. I liked it so much that when I lived at my parent’s house they got me my own phone line so I wasn’t always tying up theirs or making it impossible for the dial-up modem to connect to the Internet.  But that was before I owned a cell phone. More importantly that was before I owned an iPhone.

    My dislike for talking on the phone came when I got one of those bad boys.  It was just so much simpler to text than it was to talk; especially with a 2-year-old running around. Now, I have three children at home and I rarely answer my phone. I’ll answer a text pretty quickly, but if you call me, you’ll have to wait until the baby goes down for a nap and the big kids are being entertained by a monkey and the man with the yellow hat before I call you back. 

    Since I communicate so much via text messaging I’ve come to appreciate Auto Correct.  This is a handy software feature that automatically replaces a word or suggests an alternate word, if the word you type does not appear in the built-in dictionary on your phone. 

    For instance, if I had too much soy sauce with my sushi, and my extra-puffy fingers accidentally text, “I kovr sushi,” Auto Correct knows that kovr is not a word and what I meant was, “I Iove sushi,” and automatically changes kovr to love—so smart!

    Your phone will also train itself to recognize certain words that are not in its dictionary, if you text them often enough. When I first had my daughter, Beau, her name was not in my dictionary, and Auto Correct was always trying to change it to something else. But after I declined the word replacement suggestion enough times it learned that Beau was what I was actually wanting to text. It even learned to automatically capitalize it. 

    I was texting my husband the other day and watching all the words I mistyped transform into the words I meant to type and I thought to myself, we need Auto Correct on more than just our phones, we need it in our minds. 

    Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you started to have a wrong thought, your mind would auto correct and replace that thought with a right one?  Imagine what kind of effect that could have on your life. If you are thinking right, you are talking right, making right decisions, producing the right kind of fruit, attracting the right kind of relationships. All would be right in your world if you could only program your mind with an Auto Correct feature.

    I’ve got good news. You can. You don’t have to hire a computer programmer or a brain surgeon. You don’t have to pay a fortune. You don’t have to take special vitamins or eat a certain diet or be a part of Mensa. All you need is a Bible. 

    II Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

    The Word of God, when mediated upon, has the power to auto correct your thoughts.  When you study and memorize scripture you are downloading information into your mind and spirit that will override and correct any wrong information you’ve been programmed with, so you can be equipped to do all that God put you on this planet to do.

    You may have programmed yourself to think that stress is a normal part of life and something that you just have to deal with. You may even start certain days proclaiming, “This is going to be a stressful day!” But if you study the Word you’ll see that that way of thinking is wrong. The Bible says not to worry about anything. The Bible says Jesus came to make our burdens light. The Bible says Jesus is the Prince Of Peace. If you make those truths a part of your life, they will auto correct your thoughts when you begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed. They will change your proclamation from, “This is going to be a stressful day,” into “This is the day the Lord has made. He’s going to carry my burdens! He’s going to command peace over my day.  He’s going to lead me beside still waters.  He’s going to calm my storms.” 

    You may have programmed yourself to think that your dream is too big. You find yourself doubting the call God has placed on your life or trying to figure out how you can make it happen in your own strength. But if you study God’s Word, and the lives of men like Noah and David, you’ll reprogram yourself to correct those thoughts with things like, “My God is faithful!  He who started a good work will finish it.  He makes all things work together for my good.  His ways are better than my ways!”

    We all live in the same fallen world and we have all been programmed with thoughts that do not line up with the Word of God, but we can train our minds to replace those thoughts—to correct those thoughts—by filling our inner dictionary with promises and principles from God’s Word. 

    It may not happen overnight.  Just like it took several times of me declining whatever word my phone suggested, when I typed Beau’s name.  It may take you several times of declining whatever wrong thoughts pop into your mind first, but eventually if you keep putting the Word of God in your spirit, it will stick.  God’s Word will be the first suggestion that pops up in every area of your life.  Truth will override everything else and all will be right with you.

    Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (II Tim 3:17, MSG)