The Unspoken Word

Inherent Power

I believe that words carry great power.  Maybe it's because God spoke the universe into existence or because Christ is the Word Become Flesh.  Or maybe it's because I'm a blogger and an aspiring lawyer who believes in what I do.  Either way, words and create, encourage, inspire, build entire civilizations, or tear them down.  For this reason, we often focus on the words we say and their impact on others. 

Gaining Wisdom

When James 1 is preached on, many focus on the fact that the spoken word cannot be taken back, and it is wise to hold back what would be otherwise said in haste.  When I read this passage, though, I was left wondering whether bridling the tongue can be a means to wisdom itself as well:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Notice how the reason for being low to speak and slow to anger isn't so that you "don't hurt others' feelings."  The motivation is that anger is antithetical to producing righteousness.  If anger is bridled, a person has time to focus on the words left unspoken.  Was I really going to say that?  Where did that come from?  One has the time to capture his or her thoughts and examine them in light of the Word, and this examination shows us the areas we must excise to come into line with God's righteousness.

Combating Deceit

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Words have power: one of these powers is deception, and what is more powerful than self-deception?  There is an inverse correlation between bridling one's tongue and deceiving one's heart.  When we speak, we give free-reign to the desires of our heart.  The problem is that our hearts are notoriously sinful.  But when we bridle our tongues, we may examine our hearts and ask the Spirit to remind us who we are in Christ and empower us to live like the people we were created to be.

This is a hard lesson for me because as I said earlier, I work with words.  It's what I do, and in my professional field, the faster and better you work with words, the more valuable you are. Even so, the lesson learned from the unspoken word is far more valuable.  The slower I am to speak, the quicker I will be to listen to the Spirit.

Steadfastness: A Second Look

Make a mental list of traits you enjoy in others: the attributes you admire, the things that draw you to your friends, your own personal strengths, or the characteristics you wish you had.  Chances are, things like love, courage, honesty, creativity, and having a good sense of humor made the list.  Chances are, "steadfastness" didn't.  The word itself sounds archaic, stoic, and generally- boring.  Imagine putting that on a resume (or God-forbid, a dating profile): "Hi, my name is ___________.  I'm well-known for being steadfast."

We're a culture that values free-thinking, adaptability, and spontaneity.  Everything is new, fun, exciting, and engaging.  You can set the alarm on your new iPhone 4 one night, and when you wake up, they'll come out with the iPhone 6.  Consumer-culture aside, these values aren't themselves good or bad; it's just the world we live in.  Yet often, there's a weird disconnect between what we know, how we think, and how we act.  It's like we look at ourselves in a mirror, walk away, and forget.

Make a mental list of the attributes of God: the things we praise Him for, the things we sing about.  Isn't immutability one of the most celebrated aspects of God Himself?  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Entire Psalms extol his steadfast love which endures forever.  Why?  Because if God is love, and God doesn't change, we can rely on him to keep loving us.  There's great comfort in that.  The attributes of God we praise are meaningless if he's going to be fickle about it.  But God is immutable.  His character remains steadfast.

I opened up to James today (after, admittedly, not reading my Bible for some time) and came across these verses:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
After reading that, steadfastness doesn't seem so boring after all.  Someone who is steadfast doesn't change, but they don't change because the full effect of steadfastness is perfection.  Steadfastness in and of itself may not seem like that exciting of a goal, but sanctification, perfection, and lacking nothing?  I can get behind that.

So when we meet trials of various kinds (and we will), we can count it as joy.  Not because we are adaptable and spontaneous (which are certainly desirable and useful traits), but because we have a steadfast faith in a steadfast God.  The wind blows, the flowers fade, wealth and intellect and beauty degrade, but he who abides in the will of God stands forever.

Practicing Affirmation Book Review (3.5/5)

Affirmation apologetic, but lacks practicality (for me)

In "Practicing Affirmation," Sam Crabtree presents an excellent apologetic in defense of affirming others. It is a practice long-neglected and much-needed. He explains why affirming others, despite their sin, is a good, uplifting, and godly practice for both parties. He scorns flattery, manipulation, and praise of worldly attributes and differentiates these from biblical affirmation, which looks for the image of the divine in each person. This affirmation is warranted, he argues, because the unregenerate individual is made in the image of God, and the regenerate believer is re-made in the image of Christ. When we become students of those around us and look for ways that God is working in them, we gain the power to both encourage them as individuals and glorify the God who works in and through them.

Certainly, it can't be denied that Crabtree had practical application in mind when he wrote the book with chapters on: "Mistakes [He] Has Made," "Question and Answers," "Sightings of Jesus," "Mixing Correction with Affirmation," and "100 Affirmation Ideas for Those who Feel Stuck."

By the end, though, I was left wanting more.  Crabtree offers a lot of good ideas for starting points, but I felt I couldn't relate to a lot of the examples he gave.  For example, he affirmed his daughter when seeing that she organized her room: "I like what you've done here!  You're methodical.  This makes complete sense.  Very orderly.  Very systematized.  I see the character of God in this.  Jesus does everything decently and in order, and your orderliness reflects this."  On another occasion, he affirmed her when he saw her hugging her mom: "I love what you're doing!  It is so good for an eleven-year-old to be hugging her mom!  It's good for the young woman.  It's good for the mom.  It's good for the dad who happens to walk past.  And I think it pleases God himself!"

A lot of Crabtree's examples come from positions of authority: parent/ child, teacher/ student, employer/ employee.  His other examples came from adversarial conversations: addressing a pro-choice protester or debating with an atheist.  While he does provide ideas for ways to affirm in other contexts besides these, based on my life-stage and experience, I would have benefited from more solid examples of affirming peers, coworkers, parents, and bosses instead.

Though "Practicing Affirmation" didn't give me any easy answers, it certainly has started the thinking process. I find myself becoming more appreciative of others, more joyful in my interactions, and finding ways that I can affirm them. I thank God for the wisdom he's given Crabtree to write in this book, and I think this is a great educational tool for those wanting to live out their faith in community with other believers and evangelical relationships with others.

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of "Practicing Affirmation" by the publisher but was not paid for my review. The opinions and impressions expressed herein are my own.)

What's your motto?

My friend MW did this fun little piece on mottos, and I thought it would make a nice lighthearted Friday post. What's your motto?


(everyday): Cotton- the fabric of our lives

Definitely a T-shirt/ sneakers kind of gal.

(work): Suit up!

There's just one thing you can't refute: nothing suits me like a suit.

(when I want to make an impression): FIERCE

Yep.  Just another night on the town.


Miles to go before I sleep

My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near.


Live life with an open hand

This really is my life motto and has become a bit of a recurring theme here on the blog.

Growing Up

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!

 Miss Frizzle knows her stuff.


Honesty is the best policy, but's more like a guideline, anyway.

Flirting is this weird middle-ground between being "mysterious" without being too distant, being funny without being too weird, being open without over-sharing, and being "natural" while pretending you're not uber self-conscious and wanting to take back that thing you said five seconds ago.  Needless to say, I'm rather awful at it.

But if I have this playing in the background, my flirting becomes 400X more epic.


See “growing up.” j/k!

I had to think about this for awhile, but expanding on something a friend once told me, I've settled on this:
1) God knows what we need.
2) God knows when we'll need it.
3) God will give us what we need when we need it.
4) Therefore:
Whatever I don't have at a particular moment, I don't need (and will wait on God's timing.)
Granted, this logic isn't watertight, but as a general rule, it's not a bad starting place.


Drawing closer together by drawing closer to Christ together

OK, so maybe this sounds like it should be on a throw pillow you can buy at the Christian bookstore.  At least if law school doesn't work out for me, I can always apply for a job at Precious Moments.

Ain't that adorable?


It's important to live with clear goals in mind. It's far too easy to drift through life: a few hours wasted on the Internet, a few years wasted at a job, decades of neglecting a family. Without goals, we become lazy and complacent. At the same time, it's important to make sure we have the right goals. Without a goal, we won't have direction, but with the wrong goal, we'll be headed in the wrong direction twice as fast. That's what a friend recently reminded me.

I'm a very pragmatic person. Have a goal; get it done. This is awesome for things like resumes and filling job descriptions. However, it's less awesome in our Christian walks.

First, it's completely bottom-backwards. The whole point of Christianity is that we didn't have a goal, we didn't know what we were doing (though we thought we did), and even if we wanted holiness for ourselves, we weren't able to accomplish it for ourselves. Christianity is not goal-oriented, it's God-oriented (wow, did I really just say that?) It's horribly cheesy (watch for the wristbands- it will be the next big thing!), but it's kind of true. And if that's the foundation of our faith, what makes us think that things will suddenly change post-conversion? It is by grace that we're saved, and it's by grace that God will finish the work that he's started in us. It's not about what we can accomplish for ourselves while pretending we're accomplishing it for God.

And that's the second thing. What my friend made me realize is that a lot of the time, we have the wrong goals. A lot of the time, even our "spiritual" goals aren't spiritual at all. Take something like singleness. Singleness is a great thing. Those who are single can use it as a "training ground" to become a better future spouse or to forge a better career. We can even phrase it in terms of spirituality: become a better future godly spouse and forge a better career for God's kingdom. It sounds godly, doesn't it?

But what happens if God doesn't give us a spouse, or he doesn't give us an awesome career? Does that mean our time of singleness was all for naught? Well, we know that God doesn't waste our time. We know that He has a plan. We also know that there's a good possibility that His plan doesn't include marriage or it doesn't include a great career. Ergo, maybe our goals are wrong. Maybe even the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. Maybe we shouldn't say we will do this or that tomorrow or the next day, when we don't even know the number of hairs on our heads.

What if we made sanctification itself our goal? What if we focused on the process and not the destination? What if we focused on enjoying and savoring and glorifying and living in the presence of God instead of trying to obtain something for ourselves? What if we were OK with not having the answers and not knowing the destination? What if we let God pick for us? Wouldn't that mean that we would always have what we want? That God will give us the desires of our hearts? That our cup will overflow?

I kind of like seeing. I want to know the future. I want clear goals for myself. I want to know where the finish line is. But the finish line is Christ Himself, faith is hope in things unseen, and I have a long ways to go. I don't have that kind of faith, but I do have faith that God can give it to me. And until he does, I will boast of my weakness because it is God who will give me strength.


Of course right after my "I'm gong to get back to a regular posting schedule!" post, I sort of didn't post on time. But I have a good reason! For the past few days, I was traveling to celebrate my friend's bachelorette party and wedding! Scarily enough, I'm getting to that age where I'm starting to go to weddings where I actually know the person getting married, instead of the bride or groom being some relative of one of my parents' friends. This Saturday was the first of that kind of wedding, and my second one will be in August.

As I sit here (single) and sandwiched between two of my friends' weddings, I've taken to thinking about the grand scheme of life (as I'm apt to do). Weddings, particularly like the one I just attended, are exciting and beautiful. They represent joy and families, and coming together, and new beginnings. But there's a bit of a somber aspect, too. "Till death do we part" is an awfully indeterminate (and hopefully long) time. The thought of yoking myself to another sinner for that long is cause for a bit of trepidation, for both our sakes- and that's before you add baby unregenerate sinners to the fray!

Being single isn't the most fun thing in the world, but at the same time, when I think about the responsibility and challenge of marriage, being single isn't a bad place to be. It's at times like this that I'm glad that God's got everything worked out in advance.

While singleness and marriage pose very different challenges, the approach to either is the same, really. If it seems impossible to be the perfect single person or to be the perfect wife/ husband, that's because it is. Thank God we don't have to be! Christ's perfection covers our imperfection. Christ's perfect plan and timing cover our misdirection. Christ's wisdom covers our ignorance.

So in singleness and in marriage, we can learn the secret to contentment and joy. Praise to Jesus Christ who gives us the victory, and we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Well, hello there

Dear Readers,

Wow, that was a longer hiatus than I intended. If anyone's still sticking around, I owe you my apologies and my thanks.

Truthfully, I had been wondering what to do with the blog for some time now. A lot of my material came from my old pastors and my friends from my old church in Los Angeles. Sermons, Bible studies, conversations, jokes, and the like. After I moved, it became harder and harder for me to write the blog- not only had I lost the main sources of my material but I also had to deal with struggles of my own. It has not been an easy year. But in any season of life, no matter how difficult, there is grace. If I had to summarize my year, I have no choice but to say that I have been blessed beyond what I deserve. It is to continue testifying to God's grace and blessings that I want to continue to blog.choice but to say that I have been blessed beyond what I deserve. It is to continue testifying to God's grace and blessings that I want to continue to blog.

I enjoy writing. There's a certain power in words: in the story and in the telling. The world was spoken into existence, and I believe that when we use words, we reflect a part of the Father's nature, the divine image that He so graciously gave us when he breathed life into dust. Writers are compelled to write, and so I shall.

That being said, I'm not sure how the format will play itself out. I might go back to the comic format, but for now I just want to write. I have some ideas in my head that I would like to pen first. It's been awhile, and I want to get back to a regular posting schedule of anything at all before I restrict myself to a certain format. There may be changes, but I hope that you will stick with me.


PS I just got "Practicing Affirmation" in the mail yesterday, so you can expect another book review in the coming weeks as well!