Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Winsome




“Let your speech at all times be gracious pleasant and winsome, seasoned as it were with salt, so that you may never be at a loss to know how you ought to answer anyone who puts a question to you”  Colossians 4:6 AMP.  






Hey Everyone!  It has been a while since I have blogged.  Writing and reviewing have been monopolizing most of my time.  But, this tidbit of insight is too good not to share with you. 

As I was doing my morning reading, this verse jumped out.  The word winsome caught my attention. I was uncertain of its definition, so I quickly hit the dictionary app on my phone and looked it up. I love this word!  

But, before I get into it, I must explain why I am touched by the relevance of its meaning. I am notorious for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.  And to add insult to injury, I often speak quickly, interjecting my thoughts without giving pause or listening intently to the end.  I have struggled with this dilemma for as long as I can remember. (Yes, I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.)   A few decades ago, I begin to diligently pray for God to help me to be “slow to speak.” With His help, I have made progress, but I am far from reaching my goal.  Thank goodness God is patient, if only everyone else would be, ha-ha. 

I am passionate about the Word of God and my relationship with Christ.  Colossians 4:6 gives instructions on how we are to speak to non-Christians, but I believe it should be a standard in all conversations. Let me explain. 

Winsome is defined as “sweetly or innocently charming; winning or engaging.”  Its word origin is joy + sum, or simply put - add some joy.  According to scripture, our speech should ADD JOY to conversations. Selah (Think and consider that for a moment). Our words should be seasoned, adding flavor by sweetening the conversation.

If we conduct our speech graciously and winsomely, we should never be at a loss as to what to say.  Look back at the definition.  Notice the graduated intensity:  from sweet and innocent, to winning and engaging.  We are to win the conversation!  But please be aware, this is not a license to manipulate.  Contrarily, winsome speech is the process of adding joy to each word spoken.  I told you it was good. 

My takeaway is this:  when in doubt add joy.  And when you can’t say anything nice, graciously bow out. Yes, I realize this is easier said than done.  Remember, we are a work in progress. 

Be winsome. 
Cheryl 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moutain Moving Faith... hum?

Currently on my daily walk, I see the picturesque allegory of mountain moving faith.  Many people doubt that faith can move mountains.  Me, I have beheld it. I know it is as true as holding and sensing the touch of my child’s hand in mine.

Each day as I walk, the mountainside to the west is being excavated. Gigantic machines tear into the hillside, scooping away tons of dirt, rock and foliage. Every day the mountain is gradually being leveled.

Mountain moving faith... hum?  Fact or fiction? Wishful thinking or an undeniable reality?

The power of faith can erupt with a seismic force that can level the obstacles of life like a mountain melting like wax. Changing circumstances in an instant - God makes the impossible possible.  However, most of the time, faith in action is a process.  Daily, our faith whittles away adversity. Gradually, faith shifts the mountain of despair by digging into its insurmountable height, leveling its obstructive and overwhelming elevation.  And like the landscape being shaped by the earth moving machinery, God is making a way for you and me.

We may not be able to see above the summit that lords over us, but God can. Have no fear, God’s mighty arm can reach into the greatest of barriers and eliminate them.    Soon the mountainous scenery I see every day will make way for homes, businesses, playgrounds and schools.  A location where people can live, prosper and grow, a resting spot of security and refuge, a place to abide.  If we continue to daily walk in faith, we will discover our predestined refuge, our God crafted place to abide and grow. And in this place we can be hidden in the cleft of His Rock, knowing there ain’t no mountain high enough, that faith cannot have it removed, leveled or possibly completely annihilated- for nothing can separate us from the powerful force of God’s love.

Monday, January 25, 2016

I Don't Fit In and That's Okay

Throughout my life I have experienced the awkward state of being misunderstood.  You know that person who does or says something that causes the room to go silent, or faces to melt and contort with astonishment.  These “odd duck” occurrences have shaped me as an individual.

As a child, I was told time and time again, I had not tact.  I often just spoke, and at times I am sure, blurted out exactly what I thought in any given moment.   Yes, I suffered with the expertise of “come backs.”   Need-less-to-say, my mom worked diligently to correct my outspokenness.  And it paid off as an adult.  Plus it helps that I have an arsenal, a depot full of memories, in my underground bunker (better known as my soul) that remind me of the power of my explosive words.   I call this special hidden vault “times I should have kept my mouth shut, but didn’t.”

I have come to realize that I am a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  My uniqueness sets me apart from normality. In a sense, if you stop and think about it,  this is a good thing. From a Biblical standard, the Apostle Paul exhorts us “not to conform to the world”(Romans 2:2).

Too many times, I have spent countless hours trying to whittle away my rough corners to fit into the required standard of the round hole.  As a result, many of my cornerstones have become nicked and chiseled over time. What I thought was softening and smoothing out rough edges to fit in, really means I am missing parts.  I use to think, this was a good thing.  Then I remembered, that God fashioned me together in my mother’s womb.  He gave me my personality, temperament, gifts and talents to be used to advance His kingdom, by doing my part, completing my destiny in HIS overall plan. (Acknowledging this truth has been liberating.)  No, this does not give me the right or privilege to say whatever I think, nor am I entitled to live however I choose fit. Contrarily, it opened the highway to discovery.  Namely regarding the “who I am and why I am here,” and placed the huge responsibility of living my life God’s way, according to His Word, applying His standard designated just for me. I believe God gives each of us a measure of grace, a standard to live by - no two standards are identical, but they are uniquely individual as each of us. (For more on this, read Ephesians 4: 7 and see what you think) I am required to live my life according to the standard designed for me. With this new found understanding, I was to stop trying to be what everyone else thought I should be.  I was not to yield to the standards of the world.  Mostly, I was to refrain from trying to fit in, and to embrace the fact that I was different.   I don’t fit in, and that’s okay.

All sounds wonderful, right.  Well honestly, it much easier said than done.    When God speaks and reveals truth to you, He means it!  His word does not return void.  Action is required.  Purification is coming.  Cleansing is inevitable!  This has been an arduous journey, and it is far from over!  It is a process of wonder and pain.  Squeezing and pressing through the narrow gate of life hurts, the gate you must pass through is contracted by pressure, that is why few find it (Matthew 7: 13 &14).

With this revelation, came responsibility. God would do His part, but I was required to do mine as well.  I had to cooperate with Him. This has proven to be a task, because I am not very patient, and I still ask too many questions.  Anyway, it was necessary for me to become a student, a student of life.  In essence, my thoughts and actions had to be schooled. I needed to be willing to be taught, I had to get down and dirty, wade among the muck and become bruised and battered.  I had to throw in the towel of spontaneity, and learn to be content with silence and stillness.  My risk taking mentality dissolved into weighing the cost and trouble-shooting decisions. I had to learn to sit at the feet of Christ, and be content just being there – doing NOTHING!  I had to dig, search, and find the hidden treasures of daily living.

Now, I’ve gone way too deep to ever be comfortable with the surface. Superficial, artificial, stereotypical, are not good enough, I want the real thing! To achieve the mind of Christ, to receive understanding and Godly wisdom, you must “experience life.”  To grow, you must be challenged.  Life hurts and it isn’t fair.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t fit in, and that’s okay.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Dawn of Christmas...oh how magnificent!

Light is the absence of darkness.  One small flame, one slight flicker hollows out darkness, it weakens its strength. Light overcomes the power of darkness.  

The lights of Christmas are so soothing.  Whether young or old, they mesmerize the observer.  Set within the backdrop of darkness, these sparkling wonders stop and make us behold their illumination.  Children gaze at the twinkling lights on the tree. They coo, giggle, clap their little hands with awe at the shimmering radiance.  As I walk the neighbor at night, I can see the glow of Christmas beaming from each doorway and balcony.  This sight is so welcoming; I can’t help but smile, a smile that only Christmas brings.

Centuries later, the story of the Magi led by a mysterious light still holds true. “When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy.” (Matthew 2: 10) Mankind longs to find the source of such a glorious light - A light that guides.  A light that dawns eternal.  A light that shines in the midst of darkness.  A light that radiates hope, dispelling despair.  A light that glistens, bringing unfathomable joy.  A light that beckons anticipation- a lighthouse of expectation.  A light that a never loses its illumination. An unquenchable light that can never be snuffed out.

The birth of Jesus Christ heralded – “the Light has come.”  This Christmas, don’t be afraid to step into the glorious presence of the Light. Bask in its brilliance, until it fills you with peace, joy and resilient hope.

“A Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit us.  To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct and guide our feet in a straight line into the way of peace.”  Luke 1: 78b-79 AMP

#randomthoughts #exposed

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Gaze into the Cradle

Life is a battle, you can choose to attack or defend it, 
but never surrender to its mayhem. 

I know these are not exactly Christmassy words, nor are they full of Holiday cheer! Ok, to set the proper Christmas tone:  Peace on Earth, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, Deck the Halls... fa la la la la,  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born,  Gloria,  Oh, Holy Night,  Joy to the World!

This Christmas I want something more than carols, nativity scenes, trees and shopping.  If I could have just one gift this Christmas, I would desire to have a deeper revelation of the purpose of life.  Not just my life, but yours as well. I have concluded that I cannot understand life, unless I acquiesce to the very essence Life.  Therefore, I dare to take a peek beyond my natural view and stray away from my normal ideology, regarding the genuine purpose of Christ’s birth.  I am risking all that I perceive, in the hope of seeing with startling clarity.   As I gaze into the cradle of Christ, I do not see a baby.  I see humility swaddled in the radiance of eternity.  I see pure unfathomable love.  I see perfection. I see the beginning and the end.  I see life, His, yours and mine.

From the moment of divine conception, Jesus' life was thrown into the arena of conflict. Back then, the whole embarrassment and isolation of being born out of wedlock meant a life of estrangement, you were an outcast, shunned from society. I guess one could say Christ was birthed into a sacred battle zone. His cradle was placed in the nursery of the ultimate Holy war - the war for all mankind.  The heavens declared His glory; meanwhile the hosts of hell strategized His demise.   God the Father entrusted Joseph and Mary to protect His Son, the Savior of the World, the Giver of Life.  After His birth, Christ’s chosen parents did not hesitate to act upon God’s instructions. They quickly fled the country, willing to live and start over in a foreign land. By following God’s orders, Joseph and Mary secured Jesus’ future by shielding Him from Herod’s diabolical massacre.  I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened, if they had chose not to obey.

When it was time for Jesus to step into his God-given destiny, His battle intensified.  He entered the desert, a dry wasteland, a place where there is no life, to be tested.  Take a few seconds and mediate on that... Selah.  Jesus purposely deployed himself into a place with no food, no water, and no shelter, it was just Him out in the open, surrounded by nothing.  Christ denied His humanity and embraces His divinity by engaging His enemy with supreme authority.  Jesus defied each temptation by declaring the Word of God –thus becoming “Rhema” the Living Word!  As a result, He walked out of this badlands devoid of life, into an oasis filled with the Holy Spirit, as the absolute ambassador of Life.

As He crosses into the threshold of ministry, Jesus was harassed by non-believing family and friends.  He counters this attack by gathering a force of special men (yes, Jesus trained up a special force team, He called them disciples.)  For the next three years, Jesus and His hand-selected band of brothers, travel from place to place, healing the sick, raising the dead and preaching the Kingdom of God.  At times, Jesus exemplified the battle strategy of “take the Kingdom by force.”  Jesus had no reservations when it came to pointing out fallacy of man-made righteousness, He called it like He saw it – the religious leaders of the day were a brood of vipers.  Furthermore, although angered, Jesus acted decisively... Yep; He stood outside the temple courts, and braided together a tightly woven whip. Then He took that whip and drove out the temple money changers, overturned their tables, and boldly announced that His Father’s house should be a house of prayer, not a den of thieves!   This ruckus certainly got everyone’s attention.

Most of the unbelieving world, regards Jesus as a passive individual, a good man.  This is true, His love is boundless, however, His goodness is divine, surpassing the scope of any carnal man.  Jesus Christ is no wimp; His meekness is not weakness, but unfathomable strength, divinely controlled. Jesus is the ultimate WARRIOR.  Jesus intimidated the pious Sadducees and Pharisees; He was threatening and subversive, so much so, that the Sanhedrin (the elite religious council) sent a legion of soldiers to seize Him under the cloak of darkness.

Jesus valiantly stood among His accusers, and defeated them with a silent resolve.   Christ never surrendered to the chaos, never cast blame, never threw a pity party and never sought retribution.
Upon the cross He truly endured the agony and the ecstasy of His life. The day turned dark, the earth quaked and a deafening holy decree erupted with the words “it is finished!”

The cross was not the end. No, not by any means, the war was just getting started.  Jesus descended into the enemy’s lair. He faced the devil head on, and on his own turf.  What a showdown this must have been.  Jesus rose victoriously with the keys of Hell and death firmly in His grasp. Jesus conquered ALL the hellish adversities of life, by giving His life.  Through Him we are more than conquerors!  The battles will come, BUT, if God be for us, who could be against us? No One!  The victory is ours.

With a renewed perspective, take a moment and gaze into the cradle, what do you see? 

#randomthoughts #cradleandthecross

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Cross and the Cradle


This is the first of my Random Thoughts about Christmas.

As we focus this season on "The Christ" in the cradle, we must not dismiss the salvation of "The Christ" of the cross.

As I was caught up in this thought, I was inspired to go deeper... As the sun rises we are birthed into a new day. With the setting of the sun, the day relinquishes itself into the Master's hand.  The day fades away, its light dies, willing to give itself up for a never beheld dawn.  Let yesterday pass away, fade into twilight. Every new day holds something never seen before ... look, gaze and wonder.  Don't let the bygone day blind you to today's glory.  For with Christ all things become new.

This season hold fast to the truth: The dusk of yesterday gives way to the dawn of tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Many?

How many words will it take to undo one ill spoken word?

How many beautiful scenes will it take to erase one horrific sight?

How many rights does it take to right a wrong?

How many births will it take to eradicate senseless death?

How many judgments will it take to eradicate prejudice?

How many oceans will it take to quench the fires of adversity?

How many faithful acts will it take to eliminate fear?

How many seeds need to be planted to rid famine?

How many goods will it take to purge evil?

How many freedoms will it take to abolish slavery?

How many stitches will it take to mend a broken heart?

How many surgeries are required to heal a wounded soul?

How many weights will it take to feel strong?

How many roads traveled will it take to arrive?

How many acts of courage will it take to be brave?

How many people will it take not to feel alone?

How many tears will it take to be joyful?

How many wins will it take to defeat loss?

How many” I love yous” will it take to disable hate?

How many lessons will it take to learn?

How many experiences will it take to gain wisdom?

How many successes will it take to achieve happiness?

How many dollars will it take to measure genuine wealth?

How many “to dos” will it take to finally be done?

How many cries will it take to be heard?

How many breathes will it take to breathe?

How many tasty morsels will it take to be satisfied?

How many washes will it take cleanse filth?

How many baptisms will it take to be refreshed?

How many confessions will it take to absolve guilt?

How many mistakes will it take to pass the test?

How many sacrifices will it take to be blessed?

My list could go on and on ... these question spew from the churning well within my soul. How many will it take?

The answer is so simple, although insane to many. ONE! How can there be only one answer to all of life's questions?   All the answers to our endless questionings are found in Jesus Christ – The Living Word- The All knowing, The All powerful, The Ever Present- The All in All -The ONE.  Seek and you fill find.  Knock and the door will be opened to you.  Ask and you will receive.