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Posts Tagged ‘Christian writer and speaker’


Jo 12Have you ever noticed how some English words that have an unpleasant, negative kind of meaning seem to sound unpleasant as well? Take for example the words ‘gloat’, ‘brag’, ‘skite’ and ‘boast’, with their rather hard, guttural consonants. Or does the meaning of these words merely colour how I hear them? Would someone unfamiliar with English still think they sound unpleasant?

A few months ago, I spoke at a meeting in a club. My topic was focussed on the lessons we learn throughout our lives and how, as we grow, we hopefully become more of the person we were created to be. While talking about my own school years, I showed a photo of an old report card of mine and mentioned my determination to come first in every exam in primary school—which I managed to do. But then I heard a lady at a nearby table say in quite a nasty tone, ‘Well, why don’t you skite about it!’ Now I had not meant to boast in any way. In fact, my aim was to point out how foolish I was to try to impress others with my academic achievements and thus make me more popular. That night, that little word ‘skite’ I overheard sounded particularly ugly to me. And, rightly or wrongly, I decided to respond.

‘That’s the very point I’m making,’ I told this lady, who now seemed just a little embarrassed. ‘Why skite about such things? There’s so much more to us than what we can achieve or do well. And it’s foolish to depend on these things to win friends and impress others.’

Maybe I should have let the comment pass, but words like ‘skite’, ‘brag’ and ‘boast’ do not go down well with me! And that might be why some words Paul wrote on the topic caught my eye recently:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the word to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Paul then quotes the prophet Jeremiah:

Therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (31)

I then checked out the passage in Jeremiah where these words come from—and what treasure I found there!

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24

Wow—what a wonderful Lord we are privileged to know! Who else could ever treat us with such perfect justice and righteousness or delight to show us such kindness? Only our Lord—and I’m happy to be accused of boasting about him anytime.

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Jo 23I think it would be safe to say not many of us have donkeys tethered in the backyard these days. We do not get them out and saddle them up when we need to go shopping or pick the kids up or travel to another town. But this past week, I heard how a friend has decided to call her car her ‘donkey’—and with good reason.

You see, she often drives others who are unable to drive or don’t have cars to doctors’ appointments, waits there with them, then drives them home again—so much so that she has become a little tired of it. But one day recently, she read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 and was challenged all over again by the way this man cared for the stranger who had been robbed and beaten up. According to this story Jesus told, not only did the Samaritan delay his journey to stop and treat the man’s wounds but he also put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he proceeded to care further for him. Then, when he had to leave, as well as paying the innkeeper to continue caring for the injured man, he promised to pay any further money owed for the man’s care on his return. Amazing!

I guess that is the reason Jesus told such a story—to shock the ‘expert in the law’ (Luke 10:23) who well knew what was written there about loving God and loving one’s neighbour. And that shock value is still there for us today, as my friend can testify. Instead of grumbling about these demands on her time, she has decided to be thankful for her own good health, call her trusty, little car her ‘donkey’ and saddle it up over and over again, out of love for God and for others.

My friend’s response challenged me so much that I came home and read that Good Samaritan story for myself. As I did, I noted the little conversation at the end where the expert of the law has to admit the Samaritan was the true, merciful neighbour to the one who had been robbed. And I also could not ignore Jesus’ final, unequivocal command—Go and do likewise (Luke 10:37).

So … what does my ‘likewise’ involve? What should it look like? Yes, perhaps it might involve driving someone somewhere in my own ‘donkey’ for an appointment at times, but God calls and gifts each one of us in different ways. Perhaps for me, showing mercy to my neighbour might involve taking someone a casserole at times or inviting them to our home for a meal. But it might also involve helping someone with their writing project or being prepared to speak at some event they are organising in order to support them or selling their books alongside my own books somewhere. Whatever shape that ‘donkey’ may take in my life, I need to saddle it up and use it well for the purpose God intended, showing love to others in the same way as I so easily show it to myself every day of my life.

How about you? What will your ‘likewise’ involve? Are you using your own ‘donkey’ well?

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This past weekend as I looked at my diary, I realised I will be delivering about a dozen different talks over the next three months. I am not complaining. In fact, I’m very much looking forward to giving each one and meeting so many different people along the way. I feel blessed to be able to do this—but it does of course involve a lot of preparation, which means a lot of concentrated time, effort and prayer on my part. To do that, other things need to fall by the wayside if I am not going to fall apart in the process!

I am a writer and a speaker. But sometimes the order of those occupations has to be reversed. Over the next three months, I will definitely be more of a speaker than a writer. But after that, it seems I’ll be more of a writer than a speaker again for a while. Now I love preparing talks for different audiences. I have been trained in this area and naturally enjoy teaching and sharing in a public setting. But I am an introvert at heart, so most of all, I love writing in the quietness of my study. I enjoy the whole process of immersing myself in creating a new manuscript, becoming lost in the story and finding myself in a completely different world.

So what does one do? I have come to the conclusion that I basically need to trust God more—to go with the flow, taking hold of whatever God-given speaking opportunities come to hand and making the most of each one to share God’s love. And when those speaking engagements dry up for a time, then again I go with the flow, retreating to my quiet study with a satisfied sigh as I hopefully lose myself in another storyline.

In all this, I am beginning to realise more and more that God can not only be trusted but also has lots of wonderful bonuses along the way for us! This past week, as I have thrown myself into preparing two somewhat difficult talks to get my head around, I discovered God was there right in the midst of it all, blessing me in an amazing way. As I delved into Scripture to find out more about these topics, I found myself yet again in awe of God’s heart of love for us. I needed to check many parts of the Old Testament as well as the New, from the beginning of Genesis right through to Revelation, and as I did, it opened my eyes to God’s utter grace and amazing loving-kindness to us flowing right down through the centuries to this day.

In Jeremiah 31:3, we read some words the Lord spoke to the people of Israel in past years:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

This is certainly what I see as I look back over these past few days and note the way God has fed my spirit and strengthened my faith. While in my heart of hearts I might want to be writing, God simply smiles on me and blesses me right where I am.

Who wouldn’t want to go with the flow and enjoy the ride with such a loving God?

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