Words

I have an Honors BA in English Language and Literature, you would think that I would have some mastery of the English language then right? Maybe that’s why they call the next degree your Masters, perhaps then you can finally use language properly.

I am not talking about proper grammar or spelling, dangling participles or imperative verbs, I am talking about the effect that our words have. It amazes me how many times in a day I can say something and completely communicate the wrong thing. Sometimes even the very opposite of what I am trying to say. Somehow as the ideas go from my brain and filter down into my vocal chords and sounds escape my mouth everything has gone wrong.

I suppose that’s the best case scenario because there are definitely other times that I know exactly what effect my words will have and that filter that should be in place between my brain and tongue suddenly ceases to work and I intentionally hurt or annoy or react inappropriately to someone else.

How is it that God allows us free will over such a destructive weapon like our tongues? Forget that little kids’ saying “sticks and stones break my bones but words will never hurt me.” what a joke! Does any one of us believe that? How long did it take us to figure out that was a terrible lie? Probably no later than the age of 5.

Words are perhaps the most powerful thing we have as humans. They can be used to influence the world for good, or destroy it, to build someone up or rip them down, they can tell the truth or hide it. Interesting that God only used words to create the world; that Jesus was called the Word of God. That alone suggests the power in words, and yet for the most part we give such little thought to what we say.

If I truly thought about what I was going to say I would consider the person I am speaking to, I would think about the connotations of the words I choose and I would actually be able to communicate in a way that the other person would hear me correctly. But I don’t, I take for granted that others will understand me, that they can see beyond my words to my thoughts and heart. Sadly, only God can do that.

Ephesians 4:29 tells me to let no words come out of my mouth except that which is helpful in the building up of others. I think I should probably keep my mouth closed more often than not, I just wish that I could know how to use my words like God. But then I remember, I do have the mind of Christ. Imagine if I actually asked the Lord to help me with my words. To ask for wisdom to use my words like He does? A novel idea, even for an English major.
~ Patti

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Deep

Sometimes I find that it’s difficult to distinguish the difference between things I deeply desire and my fears. I know that sounds like it should be an easy distinction, one is good one is bad. But in reality they are very closely linked, because my deepest desires never realized are my deepest fears. This is what makes vulnerability so difficult. To be honest with you about the things I dream of, lets you know that if I don’t have them or see them, how hurt I will be. That’s worse than sharing the things I fear with people.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons we so often share shallow prayer requests, or request things for other people, because admitting what we are really seeking God for, allows you to go too deep with me, to know my disappointments, even my anger or frustration with God.

I figure that if I don’t have the desires of my heart from God, then either I am doing something wrong, or (a worse thought) He’s not the God He says He is. I’m not saying that’s correct thinking, but I sure can’t have people know that I think like that sometimes, I can’t let people see me question God, who is so obviously greater than me, and yet David questioned God, Elijah questioned God, Job questioned God, can I?

David cried out in Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” He’s the creator, He can handle my questions, and strangely He tells me to confess to one another as well. There’s the rub, can you handle my questions? If we truly seek to be vulnerable we need a safe place where we can share those thoughts, struggles, desires and fears. Can I be that sort of friend? I’m praying that after you share them with God, you find a place where you can confess them here.

Deep

Greatest desires hidden down deep

almost as deep as the fears.

The line between them blurs so often,

dark    seeping     in      like a fog.

Choking and strangling the joy that comes

from desiring   –   even Your heart.

Rejoice in Your sufferings,           but fear the loss.

Never dream   –  the rain might come.

My heart says to hide, don’t let this touch me.

Bury it again down deep

make the outside look good and only cry at

night,

when those fears start to form.

Never admit your desires aloud, and

definitely not the fears.

Never let anyone stand along side you or

fear might be ripped right out.

“That pain of surrender will never subside”, the fears call to you.

“And definitely never believe that the places emptied out could ever

be filled up

to the fullness of Him

with Whom you have to do.”

 

Do not fear!” Your Voice cries

over the tumult in my mind.

You grab my chin and turn my head

forcing me to look into Your eyes.

“I will not fail you.”

You whisper this time;

the noise subsiding in my head.

You want to hear the desires

and take the fears

gently replacing my empty spaces with joy

until I stop hiding under the bed

and step

into your

marvelous Light.

~ Patti

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The “Just” Factor

I have been constructively criticized, lovingly corrected, even accused of living by the “Just Factor”.  What am I talking about, you might ask?  I’m talking about the factor that lets me do things well, just not to the best of my ability.  In fact, I think I can say that I even do things above average most of the time, but I don’t do them to the level I could do them.

Up until recently I’ve always felt that it was a strength.  In school I could get 90’s and still spend all the time I wanted to with my friends.  In university I could get A’s, play rugby, work 5 days a week and still have a social life.  I didn’t get stressed out with work or school, I was pretty laid back knowing I could get things done last minute and they’d be good enough.

Then, in the last couple years, as I worked with people who maybe don’t get as many things done as I do, but they get them done incredibly well, far beyond my “above average” job; it started to be apparent that I did things “just” enough.  Ordinarily, and in some circumstances it is beneficial, efficient is the word I like to use, but is God asking for my “just” efforts?  Do I bring Him the most glory by the just factor?

As I prayed about it, the only example that kept coming to mind of someone doing “just” enough was Cain.  He brought an offering to God, but it wasn’t the best, it might have even been above average, but not best and God rejected it.  Is that like my efforts?  They might be enough for someone, but if they aren’t my best are they still a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord?  I don’t think that the widow brought “just” what she could, but she brought “everything” to the temple as an offering. (Matt 12:42).

Then the Lord reminded me of some of my favourite verses, in Ephesians 3:20,21.  God does “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…” He doesn’t do “just” what we ask or think, but exceeding abundantly above!!!  If I am supposed to be conformed into His image, then shouldn’t I start looking like Him?  The just factor should not be one of my defining characteristics because it certainly is not one of His.  I need to strive to do “exceeding abundantly more”.  This fact means I’ll have to make some decisions because I can’ t do everything and still do it to that level (abundantly more), I have to know what He’s called me to and strive to do it, best.

~ Patti

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Majesty

Not many people know what majesty is all about.  In fact, the camp we are at at the moment (Lakeside Bible Camp) has the theme of Medieval Times, but the concept of kings and queens and  courtiers is really lost on most of us.  But every once in awhile, as part of the commonwealth of the United Kingdom, Canada gets a little glimpse into the royal life.  On occasion the royals visit us to perform their duty to this rather large part of the British Empire.  The Queen is our final authority, the commander in chief; her family, the ranking officers in our army and when she or her family comes, they come with all the pomp and circumstance that goes with royalty.

We happened to be discussing this during the May long weekend.  For it was Victoria Day in Canada, celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday and as an added bonus this is Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, her 60th year as Queen, so members of the royal family are making many trips to commemorate the year throughout the Commonwealth.  Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess Camila were here in Toronto.  As we went down to Center Island to enjoy an incredibly beautiful day, we laughed about hanging around to watch the fireworks with the man who is next in line for the throne.  The funny part was, that as we got in our car to leave in the evening we were stopped by the police.  All of a sudden, a dozen motorcycle officers cut off the street we were pulling on to, blocked the intersections, and made pedestrians stand still.   Then, moments later, a long motorcade came around the corner, one limousine had the British flag on it, and there, right in front of us was Prince Charles waving to us as we watched him drive by.  Just as quickly the police were gone.

Perhaps you think, what a waste, why do we need to have a royal family?  What’s the purpose?   Why do they have all this money and celebrity just because of their birth?  But I think we can learn so much more.  Earlier in the day, I had thought it funny that I am interested in the royal family and the ceremony that goes on with them.  I mean, I remember watching Prince Charles and Lady Di get married, then was up at 5am and watched some of Prince William and Kate’s wedding this past year.  It seems somewhat silly and girlish, but I think it makes me that much more excited to see the ceremony that comes with my King.

The King of kings!  Imagine Him riding to get His bride on that white horse?  The train of His robe fills the temple, imagine what His bride’s will be like (if anyone remembers Princess Diana’s!)  I can imagine the arch angels ahead of Him, stopping the powers of darkness, holding them back with a hand gesture as He makes His way through the heavenlies for us!

That is majesty.  That is royalty.  If we can watch humans and make such a presentation of their royal lineage, what sort of majesty will follow the God of the universe?  No wonder every knee will bow and every tongue confess.  This is one royal wedding that not only do I get to see, I get to be a part of!

~ Patti

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The Missing Peace

I learned a principle about a month ago that God has been using to change me and this ministry: When ANXIETY goes UP, BEHAVIOR and MOTIVATION go DOWN.

The instructor that taught this principle shared that the most motivated group of people he has ever met are grade one students.  Think about it, before the teacher even finishes asking the question, almost every hand in the room is up wanting to be the one chosen to answer or volunteer.  Due to this high motivation, a grade one teacher has to come up with a job for each and every student in her class.  Billy will take the chairs off the desks in the morning, Suzy will put the chairs back up on the desks at the end of the day.  Becca will be the line leader and Emily will be the door holder while Danny is responsible to bring up the rear and Amy turns off the light…

Now fast forward to Jr. High, where motivation was once incredibly high for Billy now his anxiety about what Suzy and Becca think keeps him from volunteering and he finds himself carving things into desks rather than taking the chairs down off them.  After changing schools twice Emily would rather stay outside the door of her seventh grade classroom and hide rather than hold the door and smile at everyone that comes through.

This principle is true for all of us at every stage of life.  When I am driving in a new city and am uncertain about where I am going my anxiety goes up and I am more likely to get annoyed with the other passengers in the car or the guy who can’t seem to find his indicator before he cuts me off in traffic.

Just last week I found myself overwhelmed with the size and weight of my ‘To Do List’ that needed to be accomplished before we left for 10 weeks.  I found myself struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed and loosing my temper with the people I live with and love deeply.

Q. Can you think of a specific example of when anxiety has gone up in your heart or mind and as a result your behavior or motivation has gone down?

Here is some very practical advise from the Apostle Paul, a man who could have been paralyzed by his ‘To Do List’ and who’s actions at times I’m sure reflected an anxious heart.

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7

When you start to feel anxious here’s what you do…

  1. Stop – recognize that anxiety is controlling you and it doesn’t have to.

“do not be anxious about anything…”

2) Talk to God – recognize that He is with you and He is in control, not your circumstance or emotions.

but in everything by prayer…

3) Ask God for what you need – instead of giving into a feeling, this will help you think about a plan.  Maybe you don’t know what you need, ask God to show you.  Sit with a pen and paper and ask God to reveal to you why you are anxious.  Usually we feel anxious because of a perceived lack (of time, money, support, encouragement, knowledge, wisdom, people)

and supplication…

4) Thank God that in Christ we lack nothing – if you perceive a lack of resources, thank God for always providing in the past, that He knows what you need and can provide perfectly in your present.  If you perceive a lack of support, thank God for His Spirit within you who can accomplish more than you could ask or imagine.

with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God… 

5) Think about these things – do not allow yourself to give into destructive thought patterns, instead take them captive.  Ask God to help you expose the lie(s) you are believing and replace them with the truth of God’s word.

…whatever is TRUE,… Honorable,… Just,… Pure,… Lovely,… Commendable,…

Excellent,… Worthy of praise,… Think about these things… Philippians 4:8

6) Practice – don’t just take this as good information, do something with it.

…what you have learned and recieved and heard and seen in me – practice

     these things,… Philippians 4:9a

7) Desire God, not just what He gives

…and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9b

Remember that the purpose of this life journey is for us to know God intimately, believe Him fearlessly and Glorify Him passionately.  Ultimately we want God, not His peace.

Q. When you are anxious ask God what He wants you to know or believe about Him and how He wants to get glory through you?  


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Humility

I’ve been thinking about humility a lot since we got back from the Christian Musician Summit in Buffalo, NY last week.  We went as a band (The Peculiar) to learn and grow and be inspired.  We had the opportunity to sit in on seminars led by some of the most talented musicians as they taught skills and gave ideas for practicing.  We were led in worship by some amazing worship bands, had the Word spoken to us by gifted teachers… it really was an unforgettable experience.  But the thing that kept standing out to me was these men and women’s humility.

I sat in on several bass guitar sessions with one man who has travelled all over the world and played with all sorts of leaders and bands.  He could play anything, he was incredibly talented and yet he spent so much of his time talking about how his job is to do exactly what the leader asks of him.  He could do all sorts of solos and make himself stand out, but his job is follow the leader, and draw people in to worship.  By making a show of himself, he draws all the attention to him, not God, not the words we are singing.  He emphasized over and over that as musicians leading worship, that is our role.

Perhaps this point was made even more obvious by his instrument.  Bass tends to be an instrument that fills out the band, isn’t the lead, rarely the solo, but has an important role in keeping the rhythm and stability of a song, along with the drums.  Watching him play, you might never particularly pick out the bass line, but you would miss it if it wasn’t there.

When I was teaching, I read a book by Canadian novelist Robertson Davies called “Fifth Business”.  The title comes from a specific role in a dramatic production.  Fifth business is the role in a play that isn’t the lead, the hero or the antagonist, but without this character the plot wouldn’t move and the other lead characters would never be developed.  I was always struck by the idea of humility that would have to go with the actor in that part.  To be pushing others to the forefront for the audience, knowing how important they are, but never being recognized themselves.   How like the call to us as Christians to walk in humility?  How like Christ, who brought divine strength to earth and yet chose humility to restrain all those omni-attributes for us?

We live in a world that says to take center stage.  Let everyone see how amazing and talented you are, don’t get pushed aside, fight for your rights.  Even our spirits rise up in us when we are overlooked or undervalued.  Yet, our role is to listen to the Master, to do what our Leader tells us, to point to Him, to play the background.

“Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus…but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:5-8)

~ Patti

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Connecting: How’s your follow through?

I’ve come to realize that connecting well with people requires good follow through.

How many times have you had a great gift idea for someone but found yourself picking up a gift card on the way to their party instead?  Have you ever been on the receiving end of that situation and had the person say something like, “What I really wanted to do for you was _______________ BUT…”

Who are the people who, without fail, remember your birthday and always send a card or call?  If others were asked that same question would your name be on their list?

Has anyone ever said, “I’ll call you.” and you knew, in that moment, that the next time you see them the first thing they will say is, “I’m so sorry I didn’t call…” and then share a ‘BUT’ with you?

Have you ever been in a store and seen the specific snack that your friend has often mentioned as their favorite, thought about getting it for them, but didn’t?  I’ve done this and then later found myself in a conversation with them when they’ve said something like, “I could so go for some ___________”.  In that moment I wish I had followed through on my thought, but instead of being able to bless them all I can say is, “I ALMOST got some for you the other day BUT,…”

Have you ever said to someone who went out of their way to bless you, “You’re so thoughtful”?  The truth is, yes, they are thoughtful, but the reason you’re mentioning it is because of their follow through.  If ideas only remain as thoughts and we don’t DO anything with them, the connection we desire to have with people will never become a reality.

Galatians 6:9,10     “And let us not grow weary of DOING good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us DO good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Sounds a bit like Nike; “Just Do It”.

Don’t get overwhelmed with “…everyone,” just start with someone.

Challenge:

  1. Think of one person you have the opportunity to DO good to
  2. Think of what would bless them; pray and ask God for an idea
  3. DO it!

5 Ideas to get you started:

1. Borrow their car and fill the tank before you return it                                                          2. Offer to watch their kids so they can go out                                                                             3. Write them a hand written note and use good old fashion snail mail to send it                 4. Bring them a coffee at work (make sure you know what they like in it)                             5. Email them the ‘Top 10 Things About   ( Their name)”.   (Make sure at least 4 are serious)

We would love to hear your ideas, but even better we would love to hear what you DO with them.  Let us know.

~ Jodi

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