The Power of Words: Adding in the Concept of Sowing and Reaping

Last week we looked at the powerful effects of positive (life) and negative (death) words, both on and in our lives, bodies, and spirit. Today I want to talk about the sowing and reaping aspect of our words.

As I mentioned last week, the Lord has placed on my heart to watch my words, but it’s really a much larger issue. I believe the Lord is calling us all to fortify our spiritual roots and clean our houses (body, soul, spirit), to refine our tuning into God and the Holy Spirit, and to prepare a clean environment for new giftings to manifest and be developed. We simply aren’t able to grow a healthy gifting in a polluted environment.

Do you know or understand the tremendous spiritual weapon you possess with your words? Did you know that your mouth is like a machine gun and that your words are like bullets that can pierce someone’s soul and spirit? Did you know that when you wish ill on others or speak ill of them you can actually be putting a curse in place that comes back on you? Yes, you can, and here’s how.

I think we’ve all heard of the notion of reaping and sowing. Non-Christians sometimes talk about Karma or a sort-of universal cause and effect. We followers of Jesus with a Biblical worldview say, in effect, that we reap what we sow; not just crops, but words, actions, thoughts, and influencing behaviors. If we’re sowing negative or curse-sending words, we’ll reap that (and worse) back on ourselves and our families – sometimes for generations.

In Job – the “poster book” for having troubles heaped upon people – Eliphaz the Temanite tries to justify Job’s predicament based on the seemingly commonsense notion of reaping and sowing, even though Job rejects this based on what he knows of his own life. And, indeed, the concept or reaping and sowing (like that of blessings and curses) weaves throughout the Old Testament, but not always as directly as when it is found in Proverbs with writings such as these: “The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (11:18); “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.” (22:8); “The faithless will be fully paid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.” (14:14), Most relevant to our words, Proverbs 13:3 states: “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

The reaping/sowing notion continues into the New Testament. Second Corinthians speaks of the measure of sowing: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Cor. 9:6. Hosea, on the other hand, links sowing to positive benefits we can see in our daily lives: “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12).

Together, though, these two notions – the power of words (life and death) and the spiritual law of sowing and reaping – should give us great pause. For it is words, more than anything else, that can so quickly escape and become sown. Certainly, if we sow good or bad words generously versus sparingly, the Bible says we will reap accordingly. But the nature of words should remind us of the nearly impossible task of gauging what even a single negative word can do to a single person. That one bad word, spoken with malice by you or by me, might actually equal a lifetime of words spoken by someone else. In this case, given the power of words and the unmistakable surety of the law of sowing and reaping, I would treat how we speak to others in this world like one might treat philosophy of God through the lens of Pascal’s wager: do not bet your life on uttering a single bad word – whatever finite gain there may be (and I doubt there is any), it is simply crushed by the weight of potential infinite loss.

ACTION: Do you wonder why some people seem always to have difficulties and troubles? Look at what they have coming out of their mouths. Are they curses, slurs, or statements of unbelief? If you look closely, you may just be witnessing the double-whammy effect of the power of words and the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. This week make a conscious effort to speak blessings to and about people, even if you don’t agree with them. If you have done so in the past, make an effort to watch labels you have assigned to people like “stupid,” “ignorant,” etc., especially on semi-anonymous forums like social media. Give people a chance to know our God through your uplifting and positive speech that reaps unlimited benefits. Ask the Lord to reveal any unforgiveness on your part and ask for extra blessings on any people to whom you may have used any negative words. Finally, ask for those curses you have spoken on others to be recalled and canceled. Then thank God for helping you to improve this one really important part of your life!

“Evangelical Christians”

I recently saw a post on Facebook about “those Evangelical Christians in Washington, DC.”  I started to reply, but I ultimately erased it. Still, the whole thing bothered me. That’s because more and more I hear this phrase – “Evangelical Christians” – used liberally on all media, and it’s never used in any kind of a good way. The more I think about it, the more I’m disappointed and distressed by the current use of both the words “Evangelical” and “Christian.” So, I want to address each term separately, but then together to indicate how I feel.

I became disillusioned with the term “Christian” many years ago as I noticed how often people would utter it with disgust. At the time, I had to admit that this particular word came with a lot of baggage. Centuries of “Christian” elitism, laws crafted by Christians dictating the acceptable religions of the day, the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, and other atrocities or otherwise immoral acts perpetrated by groups claiming to be Christians tend to cause a repulsive reaction to a word that people think sums things up. My husband grew up in a neighborhood in which his famous neighbor – a self-proclaimed Christian – used to fly flags and banners saying, “God Hates Fags.” You’ve probably heard of him, and there wasn’t an ounce of love inside of him. Yet, everything he did was done in the name of Christianity.

By the way, the term “Christian” (from Christianos – followers of Christ) appears to have been coined fairly early on as a way to designate this new group and differentiate them from other Jews. It’s first seen in the Acts, and gradually replaced what the Christians themselves preferred to be called, which was “saints,” “brethren” or “disciples.” One researcher has noted that the infrequency of the term “Christian” in the New Testament indicates its non-use then, and has surmised that because the word “Christos” and its ties to anointing meant little to outsiders, those outsiders, instead, settled on calling these people descriptors based on the word “Chrestos,” which meant virtuous, good, or moral, and seemed to be an apt description for the people who so often showed a different sort of moralistic, sanctified behavior. His theory is that as the term Chrestos caught on, often with some scorn and perhaps even as a pun, the followers of Christ felt pressured to adopt and emphasize a more accurate word to reflect who they were and who they were following. This should not take away from the fact that Christians, as a group, have been vilified, often due to the message, but just as often through their own behavior. It also means that we aren’t necessarily wedded to the word.

And the baggage continues to pile up today. I’ve seen my share of “Christians” in the public eye not appearing to live according to the words of the Bible. Indeed, we seemed to have reached a fever pitch with this stuff in the last few decades with so many televangelists falling due to their immoral, hypocritical, and often criminal behavior. At its very basic level, a “Christian” should be one who allows the Holy Spirit to tell them when they’ve done something wrong, willingly asks for forgiveness, and then makes serious amends for his or her mistakes. But there have been so many “Christians” that don’t even appear to follow the general thrust or themes of the Bible that I have discarded the name altogether. In my heart, I know that most Christians are not immoral hypocrites, but even a small percentage of people can do a great deal of damage to a label over hundreds of years. Accordingly, while I’m not ashamed of being a Christian, I tell people outwardly that I’m a “follower of Jesus” or a “follower of Christ.”

And by doing so, I’m not doing anything that Jesus might not also have done. When Jesus was with us in the flesh, he continually denounced the hypocrisy of those in the church. Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint of the Dallas Theological Seminary often said that, “The Lord’s strongest words of invective were not against murderers or thieves or sexually immoral people. His strongest words of invective were against hypocrites.” To Dr. Toussaint, hypocrisy is a sin that affects every single person today, but also a sin that is “particularly loathsome to God.” And yet, despite the clear theme (see, e.g., Matt: 23) we see so much hypocrisy today that we take it for granted. In politics, we’ve grown to expect it.

The bottom line is that lots and lots of people have used (and still use) the term “Christian” to describe themselves, and yet they act in overtly non-biblical ways. This, in turn, causes people to stop even seeking God. And stopping someone from seeking God has got to be one of the worst possible things you can do to someone on this Earth.

In addition to “Christian,” the word “Evangelical” is rapidly evolving into a term having at least the same amount of baggage. And, similarly, I find I need to distance myself from what would ordinarily be – and used to be – a great descriptive word.

According to Websters, the definition of “evangelical” is “of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels.” I once visited the National Association of Evangelical’s website and, in addition to other statements of belief, saw that it said evangelicals are “serious” about the Bible. Unfortunately, I increasingly see people who claim to be evangelicals who are decidedly not serious about the Bible. In fact, and quite unfortunately for me, I consider myself to be an evangelical and so I see lots of social media posts from other so-called evangelicals. And lots of times those posts really upset me. For example, how – and, I’m really serious about this – how in the world can an evangelical post something about God one minute and then turn around and post something showing hatred, judgment, or scorn on someone the next? I actually saw someone post a picture of Jesus and something about love, followed within minutes by a post wanting to kill all “liberal democrats.”

I suppose you can see where this is going. The term “Christian” is a goner for me. It’s got too much baggage and suffers from extreme hypocrisy. I choose the term “follower of Jesus,” because at least then it’s a more direct line toward holding up my behavior to the ultimate moral model. The word “evangelical,” on the other hand, doesn’t have centuries of problems, but it has become a gigantic problem today with so-called evangelicals – people proclaiming to be serious about the Bible – showing so much hypocrisy and politicization that the term itself is almost uniformly uttered with scorn. Again, like Christian hypocrites, evangelical hypocrites do more to harm the Kingdom of God than anything else of which I can think. How do you stop a child from wondering about God and perhaps beginning a search toward finding God? The best way (likely devised by Satan himself) is to show him or her various vocal “Christians” or “Evangelicals” who simply do not follow the Bible. Show the child an “evangelical Christian” who hates people. That’ll do it. I think God hates hypocrisy so much because it keeps people from even beginning the journey that might lead to his Kingdom.

Today, we unfortunately hear the two words together: “Evangelical Christian.” Two perfectly good words – indeed, words that used to fully describe me – ruined by hypocrisy and politics. Whenever you hear them together you can hear the scorn and disgust. And, you can almost assuredly envision some child somewhere saying, “Well, whoever they are, I’m not going to be like them when I grow up.”

Of course the world hates “Christians.” Of course it hates “evangelicals.” Who wouldn’t, given some of the things I’ve seen? But being scorned for hypocrisy is a whole lot different than being scorned for righteousness. Personally, I hate the fact that I can’t even use these two words anymore. Moreover, the world doesn’t hate these labels because all Christians and evangelicals are bad. Nope, the people of the world simply do what is entirely human to do, which is to watch those who identify with the labels most vocally as they behave in a decidedly un-Biblical manner, and then brush off the whole lot. And I don’t blame them. As a one-time evangelical Christian, I’m just sorry about the whole thing.

So, what do we do? Well, in my case I tell people I’m a follower of Jesus and that I have a Biblical worldview. But I do more than that. I now go out of my way to say, “Please realize that I am nothing like those people who claim to be evangelical Christians but who demonstrate hatred, judgment and immorality.  If my introduction to people were in the form of a document, it means that I’ve added a paragraph – an aside – to try to distance myself from a group that I call “political Christians,” a group that, sadly, keeps people from God because it has pushed a world agenda ahead of God. If it weren’t so sad, it would be ironically funny – evangelical Christians, the group who would tell you (these days quite vocally and with some amount of political fervor) that they’re only trying to bring more people to Christ – are actually driving people away from Christ. More and more each day.

Still, there’s always hope for the world and even hope for the most hypocritical and politicized members of our churches. But it means taking a hard look at how far we might have moved away from God. If we hear someone talk about God, and the first thing we think about is the Supreme Court, then we should realize that we need to get back to basics. God is real. Satan is real. God hates hypocrisy. Satan will try to turn you into a hypocrite. It’s a battle for good and evil that we’re losing, and in losing we’re actually dissuading other people from seeking God. And, by the way, if people hear this warning and don’t heed  it, then they shouldn’t be surprised when they’re called to account for willingly turning people away from God for some short-term, often political but always worldly, gain.

Now, of course, hated of the followers of Christ has been foretold, and people will occasionally try to justify their unbiblical actions by claiming that the public’s scorn is just a part of the overall persecution of Christians predicted in the Bible. Even Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” and “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”  (Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22). But – and this is really big – Jesus did not mean, “They’ll hate you when say you follow me but act in a completely opposite, worldly manner.” No, he meant “they’ll hate you for doing exactly what I have told you to do, acting exactly as I have told you to act. And I told you to love God and love others as yourself.”

There will be some who, on their last day, will say, “But, Lord, I’ve been a Christian all of my life. In fact, I’m an Evangelical Christian.” And on that day, the words of Scripture will truly come true, and just has he said he would, Jesus will reply, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

“I never knew you.” (Matt 7:22-23).

Seek God. Follow Christ. Read the Word. Remember the commands. Focus on love for God and others.

Your Spiritual Footprint

Some time ago, I was studying the Word and I was distressed over our climate and how we seem to be gradually destroying our environment. In particular, I was thinking about those articles that talk about reducing your carbon footprint to help out the environment. Now, I try to be a good citizen and neighbor and I’m constantly trying out more energy-efficient and earth-preserving things, like fancy light bulbs (and solar power for the house, which we have), recycling, growing food, pesticide-free gardening to help the bees, but it all seems overwhelming. I mean, after all, who am I but just one person? Do I really make a difference?

Then I heard the Lord say, “Okay, I get what you’re thinking about your carbon footprint, but what about your spiritual footprint? What are you sowing for others in our kingdom? What are you doing to spread my love and my word?”

This got me thinking hard about the term “spiritual footprint”? If our actions, in this world, create a physical “carbon footprint,” doesn’t it make sense that our actions, thoughts, behaviors in the world also create a “spiritual footprint?” More importantly, our spiritual footprint affects not only the supernatural aspect of things, it can also definitely affect how you continue to participate in the natural world. Think about it, spirituality is largely invisible and so is the supernatural world, and so, of course, what we do spiritually is going to have some effect there. But we also see the manifestations in our physical world of things we do in and for the spiritual world. In fact, there’s a huge overlap. For instance, prayer is activated in the physical world and the spiritual world at the same time when we pray out loud or silently, but then the answer to prayer, which might be immediate in the supernatural, becomes part of our natural world manifestation of the whole act. Thus, our spiritual footprint is affected in both realms.

We create our spiritual footprint by everything we do in the world, — whom we touch, whom we are kind to, how we act toward all of God’s people (saved and unsaved), how we share the pearls of wisdom given to us by God, whether we act selflessly instead of selfishly. In fact, every seemingly insignificant thing can affect your spiritual footprint. Moreover, each of those things can have enormously good or devastatingly bad consequences. By the way, watch out for the bad stuff – it’s like throwing a tiny cigarette butt out of a car window that can’t even be seen from the road, but that leads to an enormous forest fire. Every tiny, seemingly insignificant action forms at least a part of our spiritual footprint. Because these actions can be positive or negative, it’s up to us to constantly see what we’re doing in the natural world and thinking about ramifications in the spiritual world.

And sometimes it’s not the action itself, but the motivation behind it. I might give to the homeless, but if my motivation is one of glorifying myself, then I’ve messed up my spiritual footprint even though I’ve done something that the world might say or think is good.

Lately I’ve been taking an inventory to write down what I’ve done for others or when I’ve shown or talked about God to others, along with my motivations. Also, I’ve been writing down the instances when I can remember being unbecoming of a follower of Jesus. I try to do it daily, and then I ask, “Which list is bigger?” When I have things on the negative side – the list messing up my spiritual footprint – I ask the Lord to forgive me and to bless anyone on that list whom I have harmed. Then I tear it up. That’s how I remind myself of God’s forgiveness, which is a reminder of God forgetting our sins as an act of grace.

One day we’ll meet the Father and we’ll become instantly aware of the entirety of our spiritual footprints. Let’s work together to make sure they’re the kinds of footprints that reflect our belief in God and our following of Jesus Christ.

What Does Your Lake Look like?

Wow, there’s so much happening in the U.S. and the world these days it is hard not to succumb to the prevalent negative mood and attitude. But this week my Pastor talked about how we need to silence the noise. He said we need to get into a quiet place to detox from the things that are polluting our minds and hearts with the natural world view and to obscure our Christian world view. I was pleased that he reminded me that words themselves have spirits behind them that are either good or evil and that promote life or death, health or illness. Watching the words you allow into your brain is key.

So, as an exercise, think about going to a crystal-clear lake in which you want to take a swim. You can see to the bottom and the water is blue and clear and smells fresh. This embodies an environment of kind, loving, healthy words circulating in our atmosphere. Then think about going to a lake that is polluted, putrid smelling, filthy, with scum floating on the top and dead fish washing up on the shoreline. This is a lake of hatred, unhealthy words. Is this the kind of lake in which you want to swim? Well, if you surround yourself with hate, ugly talk, negative thoughts, misinformation, and an overall lack of love, you may as well be swimming in exactly this sort of scum.

I don’t know about you, but I want the clear, beautiful, fresh smelling lake as my environment, and so I’m making a constant choice to keep my lake (home/environment) clean and clear. I admit, though, that sometimes I have to take a net out and scoop out some leaves or the occasional dead fish, but overall, I want to keep my environment welcoming and loving. I want the kind of environment that glorifies my Lord and makes Him smile and proud of me as His child.

Take a look at your individual lake – the environment in which you swim each day. Close your eyes and try to notice how you feel when you envision your lake. Do you feel anger? Do you have vengeful, ugly thoughts or feelings about a person or topic? Do you feel depressed and hopeless? If yes, your lake might need a good scrubbing.

If so, take a break from social media and the news and pick up your Bible. Look up the words “blessing” or “hope” in the back and read the scriptures it references. Then remember who you are (a child of God, a saint) and how much our Lord loves you. I pray that all of us who follow Christ as our example will have clear, clean lakes. If enough of us do, then others will want to be around us and use us as an example. Together, we can make a real difference.

You already know that love conquers everything. As Philippians 4:8, encourages us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” That passage is especially relevant today, and if you think about and focus on those more positive things, your lake in life – the place where you do all your spiritual swimming – will be a clear one.

What’s Up? Week of 6/9/2020

During this time of being “quarantined,” I have absolutely LOVED having extra time not commuting to work and, instead, using that time to really press into our Lord, to ask Him to show me His ways and revelations in his word and the supernatural Kingdom. I’ve found tons of resources, by the way – from YouTube videos, to scholarly writings, to television and radio shows – that you can also find to help you with your own walk.

I personally see this time in my life not as a burden or restriction for me; instead, I see it as a way to work with our Lord to cleanse and heal my soul, open my spiritual eyes/ears and senses to see/understand what is really going on in the natural and supernatural realms. Between you and me, I’ve actually been praying that my office will allow me to keep working at home for a while longer. I counted it up, and I have a total of three extra hours each day by not driving to and from work. That’s three hours to spend working on the most important relationship in my life (don’t worry, Tim knows he’s second banana in this sense, and he’s working on his relationship with God, too!).

Tim and I tend to go different directions with our time – he spends a lot of time reading about philosophy of religion and I’m more attuned to the softer, “walking in the spirit” types of teachings. But it’s always amazing how often those paths cross. The other day, I found out he was deep into the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and I was, too! He was dutifully reconciling some seemingly contradictory statements from R.C. Sproul and William Lane Craig had (he managed to do it) and I was doing exercises designed to learn about the supernatural action/interaction of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how to get to know Him and free Him to work more and reveal more to us.

When I wrote my book, I said something like, “God will talk to you in the way that you listen.” I might have even used the example of a billboard, saying that if you’re likely to seek messages from God by looking at billboards, don’t be surprised when one of His messages pops up on a billboard. If you’re thinking about how better to hear from God, remember that He’s already trying to speak to you in the ways in which you are comfortable. If that’s through videos, then watch more videos. If it’s through reading scripture, then do more reading. But my point is that I encourage you to try to find the same silver lining to this quarantine that I have found. If you suddenly have more time due to skipping other odds and ends, like driving, consider pressing in and seeing what all God would like to say to you today.

Keep pressing in, Saints!

What’s Up — Your Library

Over the weekend, Tim read an obituary in which the writer said, “Every time a person dies, it’s like a library burns down.” The gist of that statement was that each person, at any particular time in their life, has a huge amount of knowledge, skills, talents, gifts, and revelations – provided to them by God – that don’t necessarily get experienced by anyone in this world after the person’s death. Think about yourself. You have this huge amount of knowledge – true gifts that nobody else has – that we would lose if you were to die tomorrow. This struck me as an even bigger tragedy based on the high cost of our losing over 100,000 people to Covid-19, seeing innocent persons murdered by police, and noticing the unnecessary loss of life for any other reason on any particular day.

The good news is that as followers of Christ, this information – these skills, talents, gifts, and revelations – are not lost when we die, but continue on as we get to live in eternity with Christ. Nevertheless, I’m interested in seeing the things in your library in this life. And to make sure I walk the walk, I’m going to start putting more information on this blog (like shorter pieces) just to let you see a bit of what’s in my library. I’ll probably just title these things “What’s Up,” like I did above.

So, over the weekend, I started watching free online classes from Dallas Theological Seminary, which you can find here. There are about 16 of them so far, but I’m going through the one on Revelation while I also press into a bunch of my more, shall I say, “spirit filled” materials. One thing this pandemic has done is open my eyes to all the resources out there from which you can press into God. Lots of seminaries are doing lots of great things, so check it out. I asked Tim what he watched yesterday, and he said he “went off on a tangent” by watching one of his favorite apologists – William Lane Craig – in a fascinating interview about all manner of things by a guy named Matt Frad on a show called “Pints With Aquinas,” which you can find here.

What was interesting about the two things was that we had a short discussion on miracles, modern-day prophets, and healings, and realized that we came up with the same answers on various theological issues despite our different paths.

Keep pressing into God, Saints!


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