May 14, 2021

May - Mid-Month Moments by Connie Inglis

 May Mid-Month Moments

Do you remember this little jump-rope rhyme from when you were a child: "Liar, liar, pants on fire; nose is longer than a telephone wire"? I recently heard it in reference to a politician and I just thought, Whoa. However funny, those are strong words.

It seems that in our physical world, we can often sniff out the liars, although some are more blatant than others. We don't like liars and so when we sense someone is lying to us, we seek to know the truth--our moral compass desires truth. But what about in the spiritual realm? Are we aware of the lies Satan feeds our minds? In John 8:44 Jesus did not hesitate to call Satan who he really is: "A liar and the father of lies."

Here is one of his lies that I recently heard someone say: "If I try harder, God will love me more." Hit the buzzer. That's wrong. We all know it's wrong. Or do we? Satan can speak that lie in much more subtle ways: A good Christian would pray more; A good Christian would study God's Word more; A good Christian would be more involved at church; A good Christian would go knocking on the neighbour's door and share the Gospel.

Of course, none of those things are wrong UNLESS we're doing them for the wrong reasons--unless we think that God will love us more if we DO more. Hit the buzzer. Do we hear Satan's lie in that thought? We ought to. Those lies are subtly telling us that we need to change (we need to be "doing"), so that God will love us more.

Here is God's response to those lies: 1 John 4.

Verses 13-21 in The Message):

"This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in Him, and He in us: He’s given us life from His life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both."

I think God gives us this chapter, along with many verses on His love for us, because He knew we would need to be reminded--reminded that God's love is already in us. It is NOT something we need to pursue. It is something we already have, and it is perfect. The change comes in us NOT in pursuit of God's love but BECAUSE of His love in us.

My prayer for us this week is that we will read 1 John 4, meditating on the constant, faithful, perfect love of God; And that we will ask His Spirit to show us where we are listening to the enemy's lies that speak against His Word; and that we would renounce those lies and rest in God's perfect love for us; and then go away rejoicing that we are LOVED BY GOD!

Loved by God,

Connie

November 16, 2016

Mid-Month Moments are past devotionals written by Connie Inglis that she shared each week when she was InScribe's spiritual advisor. (Originally called 'Mid-Week Moments') They are shared from her archives with permission in the middle of each month. 

May 13, 2021

The Power of Listening by Wendy L. Macdonald


 

I thrilled at the following quote by Madeleine L’Engle because of its timeliness for me: 

When the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand.

I’m on a quest. It’s been a longstanding goal of mine to be a good listener. So far, I’m a bit better at it than I was. However, I’ve noticed that whenever I have a self-improvement goal, the first thing that happens is I seem to get worse before making progress. I suspect it’s because I’m becoming more aware of my weaknesses and lack of skill in that area. Focusing on being a better listener opened my eyes before it opened my ears. Thankfully, I haven’t given up. I remember going through the one-step-forward-and-three-steps-back conundrum when I strove to be a more loving and respectful wife. Craving genuine growth is humbling. Desire awakens us. This is good.

Our intensified awareness of our needs propels us to improve. I imagine the accuser of the brethren hopes we’ll get discouraged and give up—especially if our desire is to be a better listener.  

Listening leads to learning. Nowhere is this truer than when we listen to God’s Word and to the Holy Spirit. Listening means setting our own thoughts aside. It means entering the world of the speaker and being still. When we’re still long enough, the one speaking is given audience long enough to tap into deeper thoughts and ideas. Silence sets the stage for bigger words, rather than just small talk. 

I’ve written several blog posts about what happens when we wait for five seconds of silence after someone has spoken to us. I have been blessed by the words of others when I do this. When we give the gift of deep listening, we are given the gift of intimacy with the speaker. Profound thoughts and revelations are conceived in silent pauses. Adventures happen in these wide-open spaces that otherwise would have been missed because we jumped in with our own words instead of waiting for five more seconds to hear what may be said next.    

When we practice good listening, we make it safe for others to share their heart’s desires, their fears, and their true selves. That’s the power of listening.

I’m nosy-to-know if you would like to accept the dare to listen for five more seconds after someone speaks to you? Please let me know how it went.


My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, ... James 1:19 NIV


Blessings ~ Wendy Mac  


May 12, 2021

The Power of Words - Guest Post by Eunice Cooper-Matchett

As I mused on the suggested topic for May, my thoughts wandered to a poem I memorized in grade four or five, which is more years ago than I care to admit. It is such a simple poem, yet powerful enough to hang around a lifetime, enabling me to bring it out of its archaic brain file to use as ponder fodder.                 

God wove a web of loveliness

Of stars, clouds, and birds                                     

But made not anything as beautiful as words.

They shine around our simple world 

with golden shadowings.

And every common thing they touch

 is equipped with wings. 


If you remember different words, please forgive me. After sixty-plus years, a few cobwebs have slowed down my thought process. But not my love of words. 

Can you imagine a soundless world? After the first hour of blessed quietness? I can’t. Words are life, and really do put wings on our thoughts. And they are powerful. God warns us in the Bible to use them wisely. If I want a bad day, all I need to do is begin it grumpy, complaining over this and that, and it is guaranteed to end up a bust. But if I choose to speak good to myself, as well as others, the sun shines gloriously, even if I’m up to my neck in an impossible situation.  

Words are not only spoken. They communicate thoughts, which means they can also be written, painted, or drawn. I have friends who can speak a thousand sentences with only a few strokes of a brush or pencil, enabling these visual words to light up the saddest heart. 

Words are fascinating. Every word in our vocabulary is made up of a combination of only twenty-six letters. Yet they can create many different worlds, comfort countless people, and anger numerous others. How neat is that? 

Words are a precious gift from God, which we seldom think about. They not only allow us to communicate with each other but add meaning to our music and expression to our heartfelt prayers. Because they are a heavenly gift, they are not a toy and need to be used with care and in a way that brings glory to God.  



- Eunice - 


May 11, 2021

Did You Hear? by Carol Harrison


 

Have you ever played the children's game called 'telephone' or sometimes called 'gossip'? It can have humorous results. Its goal, other than a good laugh, is to help with listening skills. The first person whispers a sentence into ear of the one sitting next to them who then repeats it to the next person until it has reached the last child in line. At the end of the line, the sentence is spoken out loud and then the first person tells the original. The two may be close or completely different.

Whispered words are more difficult to hear which is why the telephone game for children has results that make us laugh and wonder how the words could become so twisted in such a short period of time. When words are whispered or spoken aloud into our lives, they carry their powerful and sometimes misunderstood messages deep into our minds and hearts. At times they can encourage us and enable us to try knew things. Yet often, words carelessly said, have cut deeply and the wounds heal slowly, if at all.

Written words have a staying power since they can be read over and over again. Has the author of those written words made the message clear so no miscommunication happens? Will it be uplifting to the reader or does it tear them down? Are the written words true or are they from a skewed perspective of the hurting writer? These are questions to consider before we hit send on an email, post a letter, or publish a piece of writing so that we take into consideration the impact our words will have on the reader. Words are powerful and need to be used correctly. 

Decades ago, a teacher wrote this comment on a short story assignment. “You have an unrealistic viewpoint.” There were few red edit marks on the piece and a very good mark which I have long ago forgotten. But this comment at the bottom of the paper stuck with me. What did he mean? How did I perceive his comments? At the time, it devastated me and as I focused on the comment without asking him any questions, I began to believe he meant I wasn’t a writer and should never aspire to write. In hindsight, I know it meant his viewpoint on life and my Christian perspective differed greatly and, in his opinion, mine was the unrealistic one. After all, how could God possible redeem a life and help a rebellious young person change their life, like my story portrayed?

Those words, misunderstood at the time, begged for clarification. Rather than seek that, I allowed them to push down a love of telling stories in written form for decades. Words are powerful and easily misunderstood. If possible, it is important to seek a further conversation about the meaning behind the words. 

But they can also be uplifting. Years ago, a lovely Christian woman, spoke words of encouragement into my life at a time when everything I heard was perceived in a negative way. She listened. She chose her words wisely but spoke truth when she asked questions, like, “You struggle with depression don’t you?” But she didn’t leave it at that. She gathered several other Christian women who lived with the black cloud of depression and facilitated a safe place to share, cry, vent, and learn to trust God’s promises for our lives, and hear Him whisper truth into our hearts and minds. She spoke words that encouraged, lifted us up, told us the good she observed in us, and shared God’s word with us as well. She also suggested saving notes that encouraged us. Did someone send you a card that spoke positively to and about you? Save it and reread it when the negative monkey voice chatters in your mind and threatens to pull you down.  Encouraging words are powerful to build others up.

Words uttered to or about me are only half the equation. What I do with my words, both spoken and written? There are times I need to vent, to get the problems, the hurts, and the negative voices chattering in my mind out of me. I try and dump those in a journal. Sometimes, looking back at it, I wonder if I should tear it up. Yet it shows where I was during a specific period of time. It offers me an opportunity to look back and see how God led through those difficult times. The book’s feelings won't be hurt, no matter how discouraging or hurtful the words I place in it might be. It doesn’t get torn down or thrown off track. It becomes a safe place to dump the hurts, discouragements, or questions I have. An even better place to go with them is to the feet of Jesus, before being tempted to hurl angry, hurtful words at other people.

What words do I speak? Are they helpful? Will they encourage others, build them up, and help them or will my words stab them and drag them down? The Bible talks a lot about our words and how to interact with others, especially those of the household of faith.

Ephesians 4: 29-32, “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. And do no grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed, for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one anther, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Words pop out of our mouths so easily and we can’t take them back. Saying sorry or forgiving others for hurtful words allows us to move forward with grace. Yet as human beings, those words linger in the background for too long. The game of 'telephone' played by children may make us chuckle, but in real life the twisted messages and gossip lingers long after we hear them. 

Words are powerful for good and for hurting, so may we pray with the Psalmist, David, in Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.”

 

 

Carol Harrison has rekindled her love of not only telling stories but writing them down to share with others. God's whispers words of affirmation and often sends them in a tangible form just at the right time for which she is grateful. 

May 09, 2021

When We Listen by Steph Beth Nickel


When the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant,
then the writer has been listening.
And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect,
into adventures we do not always understand.
Madeleine L’Engle

“Rambling until I stumble across truth.” That’s how I refer to journaling.

Sometimes, we simply have to “shake loose” those “places we do not expect,” those “adventures we do not always understand.”

They live within us. Sometimes on the surface. Sometimes buried deep within.

Have your own words ever surprised you? Have they jumped off the page as if that truth, that question, that reality was just waiting to see the light of day? Have those words ever inspired a blog post? A talk? An entire book?

Before we explore further, I want to let you know I’m not talking about perfectly polished prose. I’m referring to that sentence or phrase that flows from the tip of your pen or from your fingertips without forethought.

Yes, we have to “kill our darlings.” Not everything we think is profound and inspirational is meant for anyone besides ourselves. But let’s not deny the importance of words that are just for us either. 

How can we invite these words to impact our lives? How can we travel to those places and have those adventures Madeline L’Engle referred to? How can we listen?

  1. Before you sit down to write, do your best to set aside distractions. Focus singularly on the task at hand. If you haven’t already, develop a pre-writing routine that triggers the “it’s-time-to-write” mindset.
  2. Practice what Julia Cameron calls “morning pages.” Just put pen to paper first thing in the morning and write three pages to rid your mind of the clutter that you’ve accumulated. No judgment and no rewrites allowed. This is the ultimate info dump. Still, you may find gold among the dross.
  3. Similarly, you can freewrite regularly. Choose a writing prompt or come up with one of your own. Set a timer. And write as fast as you can. Again, it’s important to silence your inner editor. You may discover an idea you want to pursue.
  4. Try your hand at a genre or form of writing that is new to you. While it may frustrate more than inspire, there is a chance that looking at things from a different perspective is just what you need.
  5. Go on an “artist’s date.” (This is another of Julia Cameron’s recommendations.) Do something that inspires you. Even in these days of social distancing and lockdowns, you can take a walk, snap some pictures, peruse Pinterest for inspiring images. (When the restrictions lift, you may want to grab a coffee with a friend, wander through your local art gallery, or curl up in a corner at the library and read a book.)

How do you “listen” before, during, and after you write? Have you travelled to unexpected places because of your writing? Have you had adventures you hadn’t understood before certain words flowed from your fingertips?


Steph Beth Nickel began freelance editing over 13 years ago and is currently taking new clients. You can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com To join her Editing Tips Facebook group, answer the questions here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351 Glad to have you join us! Steph is also a blogger, author—and a labour doula.