Friday, January 4, 2013

Fridays are for writing ...

... so here we go!

Today's Writing Prompt is a two-part doosey,  inspired by a question my husband posed to me yesterday about a catchy phrase he heard from another pastor that made him stop and think hard.  About theology and scripture and preaching and self, I'm sure.  Sometimes that dear husband of mine will just email me a quote with the only tag: Thoughts? ... and I kind of love that he does that.  That he cares what I think and wants to know.  That's he's not a show-off, know-it-all type of guy.  Mostly because I think humility is one of the most beautiful and endearing attitudes anyone can put on.

Back to business ... We've all heard catchy phrases we want to stamp on our lives, and when we go back and actually try to, we realize they're harder to catch than once thought.  Some authors and speakers and preachers are so gifted at these One-Liners that it's the basis of how they do what they do.  And I'll admit it's often very effective.  People need user-friendly ways to remember what you're teaching them, and some rhymey, alliterated, phrase is often just the thing to do that.  But ... have you ever wondered if those one-liners can actually hold water?  I have.  My husband has.  I know you have too.  So many ideas are easy to say and either impossible to apply, or theologically left-of-center.

"But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." - James 1:22 (NLT)

I've chosen my Word for the Year already (I hope I'm hearing correctly from Him), and I understand [in part] the importance of  simple.   But I'll argue that over-simplification is not only possible, but dangerous.  After a lengthy discussion in the shower with Jesus yesterday about idle words [I always picture Him sitting on the toilet seat while the hot water washes my best thoughts and prayers into me], I'd like to offer a careful approach.  I've already written my response, which I'll post in the comments later today, but how about it?

Can you remember a catchy phrase you've heard recently?  Jot it down.  Take five minutes or less to analyze it and then freewrite for about 10 minutes about it.  How true is it?  Is it applicable to life, or does the enchantment fade when the princess words slip into ogre actions? After that, write your own catchy phrase (or a few).  Try to encapsulate big ideas into palatable, easy-to-remember words.  Think of as many as you can in five minutes, and then spend the rest of today thinking about whether or not they'll hold up under the test of doing.

One of my favorite authors writes, "The only words that really matter ... are the ones I live." -Ann Voskamp

"... [E]very really great writer tries to express his thoughts as purely, clearly, definitely and shortly as possible.  Simplicity has always been held to be a mark of truth; it is also a mark of genius.  Style receives its beauty from the thought it expresses; but with sham-thinkers the thoughts are supposed to be fine because of the style.  Style is nothing but the mere silhouette of thought; and an obscure or bad style means a dull or confused brain."  (Emphasis added) - Arthur Schopenhauer [The Art of Literature]

Ready ... Set ... Write!

p.s. Saturdays, Sundays, and any days ending in Y are good for writing too.  Keep writing.  Hone your skills for His glory!

1 comment:

  1. "Jesus broke the curse of sin so we could break the cycle of sin." -Mark Batterson.

    (disclaimer: I really like Batterson, and think his theology is just about spot-on. He'd probably clarify with some of the same arguments I'll make. I only heard the catchy phrase, and was asked to comment, so here we go)

    Yes ... but - we will continue to need Him to help us as we CHOOSE His ways over our own. He gives us the *gift* of repentance (2 Corinthians 7), which leads to humility. Humility says we'll always need a Savior. Pride says "Okay, Jesus, now that You got the ball rolling, I'll take over from here." Unfortunately, it won't work that way. If we succeed, we'll get the glory for it. If we fail (which we will) it will result in distancing shame. He desires us to depend on Him, and desires closeness with us - He made us with a need for Him. When we can admit that, we'll be stronger for it because His strength will be ours, and our weakness will be His strength perfected. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
    Breaking the cycle of sin means that because I now have the option of repentance (sometimes required minute-ly), I no longer am a SLAVE to the cycle of sin; it is no longer my god or my desire. He has given me a new heart and I am a new creation (who STANDS perfect, but who IS BEING PERFECTED over and over). So... while sinlessness is not probable, growth *is* now possible. Toward what? Toward the likeness of Christ. Not by my CONTROL, but by my cooperation with His power now alive in me. I get credit for none of it, for how much credit does a paintbrush get for a painting or a hammer for a building? I surrender, submit, open, and receive. Is this easy? Of course not! It goes against everything I once knew. Not easy, but SIMPLE. I humbly release control and therefore glory, for humility opens the door to change. [catchy phrase alert!]
    I open my hands EVERY DAY, acknowledging His power over me in all my ways, confessing that I do not make my path straight (see Prov. 3). Do I want credit for saving myself or breaking my sin cycle? No. I want God to get all of the glory. I'm fine with Him being the curse-Breaker AND the cycle-Breaker. That way I'm just the vessel, just the megaphone proclaiming His goodness with my testimony. And then I overcome. Or is it Him overcoming IN me? Yes. Both.
    I'm free to choose righteousness, though I realize I won't always, and so does He. Does that deter or disappoint Him? Not likely. Not unless His glory is conditional on my behavior. It's not. If I'm victorious over sin, I praise Him for freedom and strength. If and when I sin, my repentance makes room for more of His glory because I'm thankful for His amazing and loving forgiveness. Again - God's glory either way.
    I do have a role in breaking the cycle of my sin, but it's a supporting (cooperative) one. God is the Lead Actor of my Grace blockbuster, and He wins every award. [alert!]
    All this to argue ONE word of ONE catchy phrase by this author and pastor who has proclaimed so much. Semantics? You decide. Either way, I love you, Pastor Mark. ;)
    [many of these ideas I gleaned from a fantastic read called *The Cure* ... if you're nice I might have a review for you on Monday, dear ones]