Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sticks and Stones

With the coming of the New Year, many of us feel challenged to make some changes, especially if we have been paying attention at all to the nudging of the Holy Spirit as we try to follow Christ.

In keeping with that spirit, I mentioned at the end of last year that I would like to start a book club on this blog.  I will go into more detail regarding that on a separate post, but, for now, I would like to invite any of you who are interested to come along with me on a journey through the world of words, where there are so many gifted teachers and authors who have written books to stimulate growth in our walk with Christ.

The themes of growth, maturity in Christ, "pressing on", facing shortcomings, pruning away the dead branches, are very loud in my life right now.  Such is the nature of walking with Christ - He doesn't expect us to stagnate, but to grow and bear fruit.  "I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vine-dresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes that it may bear more fruit." John 15: 1,3  Looks to me like, much as we may like to avoid the pruning shears of the Lord, we cannot and call ourselves real followers of Christ.

With all of this in mind, the first book I am reading this year is The Weight of Your Words by Joseph M. Stowell, former President of The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  I will be reading this book for the first time, along with any of you who choose to join me, and, of course, I hope there are lots of you who decide to come along with me and 'see what we can see'!

As the title of the book suggests, this book explores the power of our words, for good or for evil, in our relationships with family, friends, children who look up to us, coworkers, and others.  The list is practically endless when we think of how many people we impact with our words.  Of course, the issue of gossip is one that is often (sometimes unfairly) associated with those of us of the female persuasion. But, men can be just as guilty of undercutting a coworker or slashing the self esteem of a partner or a child through the careless, even cruel, words they throw on the ears of their victims.  This sinful use of the tongue as a weapon can cripple a person for a lifetime.

Obviously, this is not an issue to be blown off lightly.  Excusing gossip and bullying speech is a dangerous and irresponsible past-time.  While I would like to think I am above this kind of thing, I know I am just as capable as the next guy of sharpening my tongue for the ready the next time somebody gets in my way.  This is the kind of thing that God calls us to take deadly aim at and kill before it kills us.  "And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell."  Matthew 5:29  He is telling us not to lightly dismiss any area of sin in our lives. Because He takes it seriously, so should we.

With bullying tearing through the playground like wild fire, we have to ask ourselves, where are our children learning this behavior, if not at the knee of the adults in their lives?  As Christians, what are we going to do about it?  If we are to be 'salt and light' what must change in us for us to have that effect on our culture in this area?

If you think this is an area you would like to grow in, please pick up this book and lets do a little exploring of what God has to say to us on the topic of our words.  This book is available on Amazon for under $13 and if you are lucky enough to have a Kindle (I'm jealous!) it is under $10.  I believe there are also used copies available at even lower prices.  I plan to set aside Fridays to have a little book discussion with you about whatever book we are reading. I know everyone is very busy, so we will take our time and try not to be too overwhelming.  No tests or grades assigned!  Just friends helping friends grow in the Lord!

If you choose to participate, please get the book and read at least the first two chapters by next Friday.  I know God will join us in this effort to be open to where He wants to shine His light, where He is pleased and where He wants to change us in 2012.  Have your own way, Lord.  Have your own way!

"If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless."  James 1: 26

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How are you doing on your journey with the Lord? Started yet? Still searching. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to seek after Him with all your heart. Without a doubt, you will find Him. He is searching for YOU!