Conntecting the Dots

Choosing Joy on the Journey

Choosing joy is easier said than done when our life’s journey takes twists and turns as plentiful as the Rocky Mountain road on which Sailor-Man and I are traveling today.

We’ve covered these miles many times in the past 40 years. Today’s trip seems one of the easiest because the weather is more like summer than fall, so the roads are clear and driving is stress-free.

A Real-Life Difficult Journey

It’s much different than the December trip my sister and I took after Dad suffered two major strokes in a matter of weeks. His survival seemed unlikely, so we braved the snow-covered mountain passes in my Geo Metro to say our goodbyes and comfort Mom.

Fortunately, Dad defied the odds and rallied, so we packed our things and began the long trip back to the coast a week later. We were deep in the mountains when we rounded a bend on a particularly slippery section to see a sanding truck approach in the oncoming lane.

Unfortunately, the sand the truck deposited on the road moments before we passed was the size of pea-sized gravel. It hit the road, bounced up, and pummeled my car’s hood and roof, leaving dozens of tiny dents. It broke one headlight and pockmarked the windshield.

That was one of several scary scenarios on the fifteen-hour journey. By the time we reached our destination, my neck was stiff, my back was sore, and my fingernails were embedded in the steering wheel.

How is Choosing Joy Possible?

When life’s journey takes a difficult turn, our emotions want to cry, “Unfair!” or “Why me?” But God’s Word directs us to take a different approach—“Dear brothers and sisters,  when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (James 1:2 NLT)

Choosing joy is easy when our life’s journey is stress-free. Not so much when circumstances leave our fingernails embedded in the steering wheel, right? But here’s the thing: No matter what our journey looks like, we can be certain, and thankful, that we’re not making the trip alone.

The all-powerful, all-wise God goes before us and behind us (Psalm 23). He surrounds us with His lovingkindness. (Psalm 33:22) He strengthens us, and He holds our hand. (Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 73:23)

As sure as the Rocky Mountain road on which I’m traveling is filled with twists and turns, so goes our life’s journey. Some of those bends in the road bring unexpected delights. Others bring questions and tears, sorrow and sleepless nights. Some produce smiles while others produce knots in our neck. But this we know—no matter where the road leads us, God loves us and journeys with us. Therein lies the reason to choose joy.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse or meaningful quote that helps you choose joy when your journey takes a difficult turn? If so, what is it?

Enjoy “Joy” by New Wine Worship.

#bgbg2

Little is Much in God’s Hands

Little is much in God’s hands. Do you believe it? I do! Here’s why.

 

The day before I flew to Florida to attend my first writers conference back in 1999, I sat at the kitchen table and cried. I had no idea what God had in mind, but I knew He wanted me there, and I sensed this venture was bigger than me.

After I returned from that conference, I walked a couple miles nearly every morning and prayed about where and how to begin writing for publication. I felt woefully inadequate, but I envisioned myself like the boy who offered his five loaves and two fish to feed the thousands gathered to hear Jesus teach. (John 6:9-12) “God, here’s my lunch,” I’d say. “Take my best efforts, multiply them, and use them for Your glory.”

Thirteen books and hundreds of articles, First 5 Bible studies, and podcast episodes later, I still feel woefully inadequate, but I stand amazed at what God has done. I marvel at how He takes a little and multiplies it to accomplish something of eternal value. Little is much in God's hands

 

“This journey is a chance to lay out what you have, what you know, and hand it up to God. I should mention: we have no idea what he will say to do with it, but we begin by laying it out and handing it over,” says Jennie Allen, author of Restless: Because You Were Made for More.

 

So, my friend. What’s in your hands? What offering can you give God? What can you hand up to Him.

Maybe you enjoy baking. Offer it to the Lord and ask Him to use that skill for His glory.

Perhaps you have a green thumb and can coax the tiniest seed to grow.

Maybe you love to sing, or care for children, or pray for others.

Go ahead—give the Lord your five small barley loaves and two small fish. There’s no telling what He might do with them, for little is much in God’s hands.

Little is Much in God's Hands

Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey will make its debut on Tuesday, October 4th. If you’ve enjoyed my other books, would you help me spread the word about this one? Here are some things you can do:

  • Join the celebration on FB live on Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 5-5:30 PM (Pacific time). https://www.fb.com/gracefox.author
  • Order your copy and a copy for a friend from Amazon on Tuesday.
  • When your copy arrives, post a selfie with the book and use the tag #freshhopefortodaybook
  • Post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Christianbook.com. This is the most valuable thing you can do to help spread the word about Fresh Hope for Today.

Thank you in advance! Have a great day, and know you are loved.

#bgbg2

Becoming Visible

Cheri Strange connected with me recently online and asked me to consider endorsing her new book, Can You See Me, Now? Good news for the lonely, left out, and less than. 

becoming visible

I read it from cover to cover, and I loved it. I could totally relate to the reality of feeling overlooked and invisible, and I found her approach down-to-earth, wise, and insightful. Cheri’s book has just released, and it’s a pleasure to help her spread the word to others who might be struggling with feeling invisible. Welcome her today and find encouragement in her words to us today.

Becoming Visible

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

James 1:1 ESV

Childhood recess can leave a mark. Where I grew up, unless your teeth were in jeopardy, or you broke a bone, the adults didnt pay attention to fairness, feelings, or failings. It was the kind of environment where thicker skins developed and existing hurts became more ingrained. Exclusion from a game with the popular girls, vicious name calling, or the humiliation of being the last resort when teams divided could be painful pricks, especially when reinforced through the years. Maybe you can relate. The dread of recognizing all you are not can be debilitating to the point we find ourselves in the corner, once again, questioning Gods purpose for our lives.

Know to Whom We Belong

From the opening lines of his book, James, if he had any, left that dread on the playground. In one sentence, the man declared his clear sense of Gods purpose for his life. The victory is not making a smart choice about whether to become a plumber as opposed to the expected carpenter but knowing to whom he belongs and how that should play out in his life.

Paul describes this knowing to the Corinthians, asking them to consider who God calls” (1 Corinthians 28:30). You see, these individuals leaned toward obscurity. Here Paul rightly reminds them of Gods strange work of the Gospel in them so that Jesus might get the glory, rather than man.

You can see the potential problems if we were left in charge. The prettiest people would get the gifts and blessings. The smartest would be privy to the truth. We would reserve all other offices for those possessing charisma, leaving the rest of humanity out of luck.

God’s Gospel Gives Us Purpose

Thankfully, its not my Gospel. Its not the Gospel Paul preaches, nor the one James writes about. God chooses the weak, those with no pedigree, who are unworthy of notice. Non-essentials. The nothings of this world. He chooses them on purpose. There is room for you and for me.

Has God found you in all your obscurity, like James? Your God specializes in calling the things that are not, as if they are. Although James holds a place of prominence, leading the Christian church in Jerusalem, he calls himself the servant of God and Jesus Christ. What if you took on this same calling? Consider one difference you could make today toward this goal.

 

Cheri Strange is a national speaker, visionary of She Yearns Ministries, and holds a Ph.D. from Baylor University. She lives in Houston with her husband, Chad, their eight children, and her Maine Coon cat. Find her on the YouVersion app, her website www.sheyearns.com, or Instagram. Cheri Strange

Life’s Storms Linger but Won’t Last Forever

life's storms linger but they don't last forever

Life’s storms linger but won’t last forever.

 

A friend clung to this truth when one hardship after another struck her. First, her infant son became ill and died. She was still reeling when life-threatening illnesses hit several extended family members, and her husband lost his job. She felt like she was living in Job’s shadow. She says despair would have overwhelmed her but knowing that Job’s hardships eventually came to an end renewed her hope.

The knowledge that life’s storms linger but won’t last forever throws us a lifeline, especially when hardships roll over us like waves, one after another after another. But unlike the ocean waves that never stop breaking on shore, our troubles will come to an end.

God works at all times and through every difficulty we face. We can’t begin to understand His purposes for our pain, but we can rest assured that He is doing something good in His eternal plan. In His time, He will bring those purposes to pass, and He will bring our trials to an end. In the meantime, let’s choose to trust Him.

Today, I’m including a sample from Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey, scheduled for release on October 4. Using an anecdote from a sailing journey off BC’s coast, it demonstrates this life-giving, hope-renewing truth: life’s storms linger but won’t last forever.

I pray that you’ll find it a blessing, my friend. Know you are loved.

Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey

The Rain Will Stop

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

Psalm 107:28 (ESV)

Pause

Sailor-Man and I woke to the sound of rain pelting our boat. We were anchored far from shore, and the nearest town was at least two hours away—too far to motor across sloppy seas for no other reason than to escape our confined space. Riding out the storm was our only option, so we hunkered down inside and hoped the weather would clear.

Morning rolled into afternoon. A couple more hours passed and then, finally, the sunshine poked through the clouds. Its warmth wooed us, grateful, from our mini-ark.

Life’s storms come and go like rainstorms. When they’re present, they might feel as though they’re here to stay. But this we know—the clouds will part and the sun will shine in God’s good time. He’s working in ways we can neither see nor understand, and he will deliver us from our distress when he has fulfilled his purposes.

Be patient. Hang onto hope as you hunker down. He hears your cries for help, and he will bring this rainy day—or season—to an end.

Ponder

What’s your attitude as you wait for the rain to stop?

Pray

God, teach me to hunker down with a hope-filled heart until the rain stops.

“He knows when we go into the storm, He watches over us in the storm, and He can bring us out of the storm when His purposes have been fulfilled.” – Warren W. Wiersbe, Looking Up When Life Gets You Down

Excerpt from Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey, available for pre-order now.

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Be on Guard When Life Takes a Detour

Be on guard when life takes a detour

What does it mean to be on guard when life takes a detour? Eight months after receiving “guard” as my focus word for 2022, I’m beginning to appreciate its relevance to my life in ways I hadn’t imagined.

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong,” says 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT). In times past, I’ve read that verse and nodded in agreement before closing my Bible and going on my merry way for the day. But this week was different.

Life has taken a detour.

 

I’m sitting in a friend’s basement suite as I write this. Sailor-Man and I are temporarily displaced from our boat-home while she sits in the marina’s repair yard. A submerged log bent her rudder in July, and without a rudder, she has no steering capacity. A massive sling pulled her from the river on August 9, and there she sits, on the concrete, more than two weeks later with only a hopeful end date in sight.

Living in the repair yard especially during summer heat is not for the faint of heart. I’m okay with using public showers, but exiting the vessel via steep stairs to use the community outhouse especially at night—not so much. Besides, there’s no access to wi-fi there, and I can’t do my work without it.

be on guard when life takes a detour

When a couple from our church invited us to stay in their basement suite an hour’s drive from the marina, we accepted their offer with gratitude. Still, Sailor-Man drives back and forth nearly every day to oversee repairs while juggling his ministry responsibilities. The other day, he made the round trip twice, and he has spent about ten nights aboard the Makana to accommodate the repair guys’ early morning schedule and to ensure all systems—especially the freezer—continue to work.

Life has taken a detour. Our routine is anything but normal, and I miss it.

 

Writing deadlines are hurtling towards me at breakneck speed, and I’m seriously struggling to meet them. It didn’t help that my computer went for repairs last Wednesday, and things didn’t go as well as expected. I lost access to my documents for three days. That meant losing three days to prepare for upcoming speaking engagements, write podcast episodes, and research for my next First 5 assignment.

A little voice inside says, “It’s time to push the panic button.” Another says, “It’s time to practice what it means to be on guard.” I’m choosing to listen to the latter voice, and wow—it’s taking me to new places. New lessons learned. New fodder for writing.

What does it mean to be on guard when life takes a detour? Here are 5 hot-off-the-press insights:

  • Be on guard against the little voice that speaks lies. It’s not time to push the panic button. My present circumstances are no surprise to God. He knew about the detour well in advance. He knew what my calendar would look like at this time, and He’s got this. He’s got me. I can trust Him.
  • Be on guard against idols. I’m asking myself where I’ve placed my hope in times past. Have I trusted in the power of a comfortable routine to help me stay focused when juggling multiple balls, or have I trusted in the Lord’s strength?
  • Be on guard against anger. The other day, I felt my blood pressure rise when I couldn’t get access to my documents. In all honesty, I wanted someone to blame. Thankfully the Holy Spirit got hold of my head and tweaked my thinking. “Anger doesn’t fix anything. Try prayer instead,” He said.
  • Be on guard against a woe-is-me attitude. I might be temporarily displaced but I’m staying with sweet friends in their lovely home. How different from millions of Ukrainian women who have lost everything and fled to a foreign country to start life over not knowing whether they’ll ever be reunited with their husband and loved ones? My circumstances are far from what I wish they were right now, but they’re far better than those faced by millions around the world. Perspective goes a long way.
  • Be on guard against what-if thinking. Several days ago, repairs seemed to be going well. Then Sailor-Man discovered that a rubber sleeve (a “gator”) associated with the rudder shaft had been torn when the rudder was removed. It’s a necessary piece of equipment because it prevents water from seeping into the boat. When he asked the repair guy about it, he learned that it has to be custom-made in the States. It’s now on order, but its delivery date is beyond our control. My mind goes to places like, “What if it doesn’t arrive within a few days? Then repairs can’t be complete and we can’t move back into the boat. We can’t stay with our friends indefinitely….yada, yada.” I have to switch my thinking to, “Even if this piece of equipment takes longer than expected to arrive, God is still in control.” It takes intentionality to turn my thinking around, but it’s necessary for calm in the chaos.

Be on guard, the Word warns.

 

It’s the only way to keep hope alive when life takes a detour. Besides, there’s a silver lining to this whole misadventure: I’m learning firsthand to re-apply the lessons about which I’ve written in Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm. (FYI — it’s on sale today on Amazon.ca)

How about you? How does the concept of being on guard when life takes a detour resonate with you? What hot-off-the-press insights would you add to my list?

This song by Ryan Stevenson is sooo relevant right now for sooo many reasons:

In the Eye of the Storm — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2FqFLKisys

#bgbg2

3 Truths About the Hard Places of Life

3 truths about the hard places of life

No one enjoys the hard places of life, but sometimes they’re the richest.

Genesis 28 tells the story of Jacob traveling to his uncle Laban’s home. This wasn’t a joy ride. He was running from his twin brother who wanted to kill him for stealing his blessing. (Genesis 27:41-45)

One night, Jacob set up camp and found—get this—a stone—yes, a stone—for a pillow. Can you imagine trying to sleep on a rock? I can’t. The guy must have been completely exhausted to fall into a deep sleep under those circumstances.

As Jacob slept, he dreamt of a stairway that reached from earth to heaven. He saw the angels of God going up and down, and the LORD stood at the top and spoke reassuringly to him. (Genesis 28:13-15) When he woke, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it” (Genesis 28:16).

This account is only a few verses long, but it packs important truths for us to apply when we experience the hard places of life:

  • God knows where we are at all times.

We might end up camped in a hard, unfamiliar, uncomfortable place and we might feel all alone there, but He is with us in that place. Just as He did not abandon Jacob, so He will never leave or forsake us. (Joshua 1:9)

  • God reveals Himself to us there.

“I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father, Isaac,” He declared to Jacob in a dream. (Genesis 28:13) He wants to reveal Himself to us, too. For reasons known only to Him, the hard places of life are often where we experience those revelations best. Let’s reframe the way we regard those places, then—not as places to avoid at all cost, but as places to enter with courage and expectancy knowing God wants to deepen our friendship with Him there.

  • God’s presence can go unnoticed There.

Sad but true. When we’re in the midst of a hard place, we might become focused on our loneliness or pain and completely forget that God is still actively engaged in our lives. When that’s the case, we become vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and lose hope. Let’s  ask Him to keep us ever mindful of His presence and watch for evidences that He is there.

Jacob made another statement that captures my attention. He said, “What an awesome place this is!” (Genesis 28:17)

My human nature wants to respond, “Seriously? A hard place is an awesome place?” But then I think about the amazing God-encounter Jacob experienced that night, and I have to agree with him. If life’s hard places mean experiencing God in new ways, then they are awesome indeed.

How have you found a hard place to be a place of growth and experiencing God more intimately?

 

Be blessed today with this song by Lincoln Brewster. Let’s choose to worship and trust the Lord while we wait in life’s hard places.

 

#bgbg2

God Always Keeps His Promises

God always keeps His promises

Someone once said that promises are made to be broken. Sadly, we live in a society where many people believe this is true. Promises are made, promises are broken, and people end up hurt. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t operate that way? We never have to put a guard around our heart lest He disappoint us because God always keeps His promises.

Psalm 12:6 says, “The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.” Sometimes those promises don’t come to pass as quickly as we wish. When they finally come true, they might look different than we’d hoped. They might come with a condition that we have to fulfill first.

Regardless, God will never make a promise and then forget to honor it. He’ll never commit to doing something and then procrastinate or fail to follow through. God always keeps His word.

Here are five promises on which we can relay with certainty when facing uncertainty.

  • “…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)

We are not alone even when we feel lonely because God’s presence—through the indwelling Holy Spirit—goes with us everywhere, day and night.

  • “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26 NLT)

What a relief to know the Holy Spirit covers our concerns when we haven’t got a clue how to put them into words.

  • No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NLT)

The One who conquered death works in us to conquer all things that stand against us.

  • “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”(John 14:27 NLT)

Jesus –the Prince of Peace—has provided a gift that money can’t buy, and He even gives instructions so we can maximize it.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

  • “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4 NLT)

Heaven. I can only imagine.

God will always keep His promises. Which one of the five listed above is most relevant to you today?

#bgbg2

Let your heart enter worship with “God of the Promise” by Elevation Worship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G26HDdqCyGw

When the Storm Strikes

when the storm strikes

It was a September day, and Sailor-Man and I were boating back from Campbell River, BC after attending a friend’s memorial service. And then it happened: the sky blackened. Ominous clouds rolled in. The wind picked up and began whipping waves into froth. Thankfully, we’d seen the storm coming and had time to prepare, but that’s not always been the case especially when talking about the storms of life. Often they hit us when we least expect. But here’s the good news—God has given us promises to help us survive and find hope when the storm strikes.

Promise #1 – God is with us.

One of my favorite names of God is “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us.” Imagine! The Creator of the universe became one of us to walk with us in our pain. He is never too distant to hear our cries or too busy to calm our fears. He’s with us when we wake in the morning, when we fall asleep at night, and every minute in between. We are never alone because He promised to never leave us, and He cannot lie.

When the storm strikes, let’s meditate on these words: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) He is present and personal. Such a beautiful, life-giving promise, yes?

Promise #2 – God loves us.

When the storm strikes, our human tendency is to question God’s intent toward us and ask, “Why me?” Let’s reel in those doubts and focus instead on the truth about His love toward us.

The storm might bring winds of trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword but none of these things can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:35) Suffering is guaranteed on this earth, but His love remaining true to us is also guaranteed. We might not understand what He’s doing, but we can rest assured that He is good and His intent toward us is nothing less.

Promise #3 – God is sovereign.

When the storm strikes, we might look around at the seeming destruction in its wake and wonder how anything good can come from it. Our human perspective sees only broken dreams and shattered expectations, but God sees things from a heavenly, eternal perspective. Nothing can thwart His purposes. Nothing.

When we trust Him with our deepest pain, He picks up those shards and turns them into a stained-glass masterpiece. We need to remember, though, that masterpieces take time. In reality, we might not live to see the finished product, but that doesn’t diminish the truth of God’s active involvement in every detail of our lives and His ability to bring beauty from ashes.

When the storm strikes, hang onto this familiar promise: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Here’s another one that’s been helpful to me lately: “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

And so, my friend, be encouraged today.

Storms will come and go. Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to see them coming, but other times, not so much. Regardless, God’s promises help us navigate the wind and waves to a safe harbor. We can trust Him and not be afraid.

Do you have a favorite Scripture promise that helps you weather the storms of life? If so, what is it?

 

The song “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns came to mind as I wrote this blog, so I thought I’d share it with you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YUGwUgBvTU

If you’re needing encouragement in a storm right now, or you know someone who does, order a copy of my latest devotional, Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm. I’ll autograph it and include a beautiful bookmark. BTW — this book just made the finalists’ list in the devotional book category! Winners will be announced on August 14th.

Keeping Hope Alive

Finding Strength to Soar

finding strength to soar

Sailor-Man and I live within sight of a nest that houses a pair of bald eagles. A few days ago, I caught a close-up of the birds in flight. The sight of these feathered majesties rising on the wind reminded me of God’s promise to strengthen His people, and I breathed a prayer of gratitude: “Father, thank You that in the midst of weighty issues like war, inflation, disease, and family turmoil, You’ve given us the key to finding strength to soar.”

That key to finding strength to soar is freely accessible to all regardless of race, age, or gender, and it’s guaranteed to never fail. It works for every burden we bear and every situation that drains our energy whether emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical. We only need to accept it from the One who holds it.

Who is this One who holds the key to finding strength to soar?

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:28)

What qualifies Him as the keeper of the key?

Being the everlasting God and Creator of the ends of the earth ought to be enough credential, but there’s more: “He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

What will we gain by using the key?

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:29) Imagine! We come to Him depleted, with nothing to offer, and He replenishes us. We come faint, weary, and exhausted, and He renews us. (Isaiah 40:30)

So…in a nutshell…what’s this key to finding strength to soar?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s the answer: “…wait for the Lord…” (Isaiah 40:31) I did a study on this verse several years ago and discovered that the word “wait” in this context denotes being twisted together.

Picture a rope. Ropes are not made from single strands, right? They’re made from several strands twisted together. That’s what makes them strong. If the strands fray and fall apart, a rope will become weak and fragile.

Ropes aboard our boat-home.

Likewise, we find strength to rise above our worries and fears when we are twisted together with God.

A closely-knit relationship with God is the key to finding strength to soar. We develop it by reading His Word on a regular basis, patterning our lives after His precepts, and sharing our concerns and hopes with Him. We do these things not from religious duty to earn His favor but from utter dependence on Him and gratitude for what He’s done for us. As we press in to know Him and walk in His ways, He gives us wisdom to know how to best respond to the challenges we face. He strengthens us inwardly and gives us the ability to not only survive but thrive in the face of the weighty issues that surround us personally and globally. Beautiful.

The key to finding strength to soar is found in four little words: wait for the LORD.

“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31)

Write this verse on a card and put it where you’ll see it often, my friend. Perhaps your nightstand would be a great place so you can see these words before you fall asleep and the moment you wake up. Wait on the LORD, and He will renew your strength.

Taming the Tongue

taming the tongue

 

Taming the tongue isn’t easy.

This is true at any time, but moreso in the current political climate. How many times in the past couple of years have you forced yourself to refrain from saying something regrettable? Or perhaps you didn’t: You expressed an opinion contrary to a friend or family member’s and sparked a verbal firestorm. In retrospect, we all have moments when we realize that some things go better left unsaid, right?

 

Spouting off is easy.

How easy it is to spout off when we feel our opinion is not being respected. Or when we’re bone weary. Or when we believe the person with whom we’re speaking is flat-out wrong. How easy it is to engage our tongue inappropriately when we want to prove a point or before we collect all the facts. Proverbs 18:13 says this about the latter: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” Ouch. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hit a delete button the moment we say something regrettable so our words would vanish before they reach the listeners’ ears?

 

The tongue may be small but it’s mighty.

So mighty, in fact, that humanity can’t tame it. It’s a  “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8) It causes irreparable damage when used to criticize, gossip, and lie. On the other hand, it blesses when used to provide helpful instruction, mend broken hearts, and inspire hope. It’s our job, then, to learn to use it for good.

 

Taming the tongue for good.

Our tongue can be a mighty tool to build up and encourage and speak life. And goodness knows how many people need to be built up and encouraged and have life-giving words spoken over them in these crazy days. So, as we learn to tame our tongue and use it for good, let’s ask ourselves these three questions:

 

  • Is it necessary?

Is the comment we’re about to make really needed? Does it bring value to the conversation or merely consume air space? Does it show concern for others or focus only on ourselves? Is it relevant to the moment, or does it blow past where others are engaging to pursue something that interests us more? Not everything that comes to mind needs to be expressed. Sometimes silence is golden.

 

  • Is it true?

As a little girl, I learned the hard way that lying never works in our favor. It only plants doubt in others’ minds about whether or not we’re trustworthy. Let’s stick to the truth so others won’t have reason to doubt our integrity.

 

Also, on occasion I’ve repeated information from trusted sources only to discover later that it wasn’t entirely true. Let’s fact-check. Let’s be careful not to dole out second-hand information unless we know beyond reasonable doubt that it’s accurate. May we be people on whom others can fully rely.

 

  • Is it kind?

We might be tempted to let ‘er rip if someone says something thoughtless or unkind to us, but we’re better off to take a step back and breathe deep. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Does this mean we always agree with whatever someone else says? No. We can disagree with others’ opinions, but we can do so in a respectful manner.

 

Taming the tongue is a lesson from which we can all benefit. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and we can ask Him, and trust Him, to help us be good students.

 

#bgbg2