SHOUT! L4L.05

The WORD

“What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daylight comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” Matthew 10:27 (New Living Translation)

“Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.” Matthew 10:27 (The Message)

Sometimes we, like Elijah, identify our God as the still, small voice in the aftermath of life’s disasters. Jesus confirms that God’s voice is often a whisper in our ear rather than the booming baritone hailing from the clouds (with lightning) that we might wish for in our times of need.

There is power in these two sentences for those of us who are in the dark. Jesus will speak to us in our darkness! He will whisper in our ear, even as the rest of the world vies for our attention in less subtle, more obtrusive ways.

The APP

Maybe these words of Jesus are a clue for us today. Some of us find ourselves asking again and again: How can I recognize God’s voice?

Part of today’s application of the Word may be a tuning of the ear. An adjustment of the radar. A cluing in to the way God often speaks in the lives of His people. If we’re expecting to hear God in big and mighty ways, we may very well miss His gently delivered words as they fall on us in silence. But if we’re listening for the still, small voice, well, there He is.

There’s a second part to applying Jesus’ words from Matthew 10:27. As challenging as it may be for us to listen for His whisper, the bigger challenge still is to share those whispers with others.

I don’t know about you, but I have heard some pretty profound, difficult and surprising things from God in the dark. Things that sound pretty crazy. Words with the potential to push a lot of buttons for a lot of people – followers of Jesus or not. How many of us would be willing to take words that were whispered to us in times of quiet intimacy and shout them from the rooftops, for the whole world to hear?! Yet this is exactly what Jesus is saying we must do.

What God says to us in intensely personal times of connection is not for us to keep. This text is a reminder that someone else is in need of the words we hear from Him – someone whose ear may not be tuned to His voice yet – someone who needs His message desperately, and the only way God can speak His whisper to them is through you and me going public now! So often we choose to internalize God’s Word and leave it at that – never sharing, never starting conversation, never breathing out loud what God has spoken inside. But this is not faithful living in light of Jesus’ words today.

If we are serious about being Literal 4 Lent, we must not only pay attention to the clues Jesus gives about the way God speaks, but we must be willing to go all the way, delivering God’s words with a rooftop SHOUT!

Sharing our impressions of God.

Sharing our experiences of God.

Sharing our intimacies with God with anyone who will listen.

Yes, a time is coming when all of this will be revealed and God Himself will lay it all out there for the world to hear and see. That time has not yet come. Our call is to go public NOW, without hesitation.

Tell your God-stories!

Share your epiphanies!

Wrestle out loud with the difficult words He has spoken over you!

There is someone who is listening for your sacred SHOUT today! Don’t keep them waiting.

Just let it out.

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Religious Lace L4L.03

Royal Lace detail

Image via WikipediaThe WORD

The WORD

“…Don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” Matthew 5:33-37 (The Message)

Today, let’s read the text again. This time in the Good News Translation:

“You have also heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.’ But now I tell you: do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by earth, for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – anything else you say comes from the Evil One.”

Lace is pretty. Lace can really dress up a table or fancy up a dress. I’m always awed by the meticulous detail of a really fine lace – not being artistic, I just can’t imagine the time and patience it must take in order to create by hand a perfectly designed and symmetrical piece of lace!

The thing about lace, though, is that it isn’t necessary. Doilies, tablecloths, dresses – all can be made from a simpler, more functional fabric. And the thing about our talk is that religious lace isn’t necessary, either. Everything we need to say – from promises to prayers, answers to questions and thinking out loud – can be said in a simpler, more functional way. Jesus appears to be telling us that dressing up our speech, whether it’s to sound more religious or make our words seem more important, isn’t just manipulative and wrong… it’s also EVIL. (Think cheesy, gaudy, polyester lace and run away!)

There’s something else to be noted about lace. Compared to the more practical fabric options, real lace is expensive! We pay dearly, sometimes, for the opportunity to display such finery. (This is, after all, the reason we might choose lace, isn’t it?)

Displaying religious lace, whether spoken or unspoken, is also always costly. And at the expense of what – our witness to the watching world? Our relationship with the Author of creation? Our effectiveness in the Kingdom of God? It’s a head-scratcher, really. Why would we try to embellish something that is already simple, functional and practical – like a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?

The APP

Most women like to talk (at least, that’s what men will tell you). There are days when I talk so much that my jaw gets tired and my throat feels thick and swollen (I’m sorry if you’ve seen me on those days)! While our many words may on some days serve a purpose, I am quite sure there are many times when what comes out of our mouths seems pretty lacy.

Pretty showy.

Pretty ostentatious.

Pretty unnecessary.

Pretty gaudy.

On this Day Three of our Literal 4 Lent experiment, why not make a concerted effort to let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no,’ and see what happens? One predictable by-product of this literal application of Jesus’ teaching is that, because we won’t be speaking so much, we may HEAR much more than we usually do.

This discipline of resisting the urge to over-speak may even end up being spiritual money-in-the-bank, as we choose to dress up in the less costly/more practical fabric of truth, leaving the lace-gilded versions on the rack where they belong.

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