this is the word you want to be


There’s a word you’re listening for; listening for with all of your heart. The doctor might give you ten thousand words, but no other stands out like this one; none gives you such clarity and relief. It is the kindest word of all.
Upon hearing that single word, one of two things happens. We hear – and hear with truer clarity – what follows far better than we ever could. Or, all of the other words now fade for we have heard what we wanted and needed to hear most of all; we have heard what matters most.
“The results show the mass is such and such … and is benign … blah, blah, blah …”
You turn the word over and over, again and again, in your mind. It simply will not go away, and how glad you are for that fact. You think: is there a more beautiful word?
One wonders.
You have likely heard of the name John Wycliffe, a Christian in the 1300’s. He was the first to translate the New Testament into English. And for doing so, remarkably, he was reviled. By many. With great power. So much so that even nearly half a century after his death, religious authorities had the remains of his body dug up and burned.
Is there even a word for that sort of darkness? If there is, surely it is …
Which leads me to note: when John Wycliffe translated the texts in the New Testament that speak of the thought of kindness, he used the word “benign.”
* “… love ye your enemies, and do ye well, and lend ye, hoping nothing thereof, and your meed shall be much, and ye shall be the sons of the Highest, for he is benign on unkind men and evil men.” (Luke 6.35)
* “Knowest thou not, that the benignity of God leadeth thee to repenting?” (Rom. 2.4)
* “Charity is patient, it is benign …” (1 Cor. 13.4)
* “… the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy … benignity …” (Gal. 5.22)
* “… be ye together benign, merciful, forgiving together, as also God forgave to you in Christ.” (Eph. 4.32)
* “Therefore ye, as the chosen of God, holy and loved, clothe you with the entrails of mercy, benignity …” (Col. 3.12)
Benign is beautiful for benignity is godly.
And so, let us choose not to be malignant to others in any way today, or any day the One true and kind living God gives us. Let us seek to be benign/kind in every big and small way, fleeing from every desire, impulse, thought, word, or way that even hints of anything malignant.
For in doing so, we will not merely bring better health to ourselves, or even give relief – great relief – to others, but will do what we were made to do in the beginning and are being remade in Christ to be now …
Bearers of the likeness of the Christ who is kind to us.

strong medicine for all of us


A few nights ago (Tuesday) I dedicated two hours to systematically going through my Facebook friends list with one specific question in view: what are my fellow church members posting regarding current events?

Why? Curiosity and to be informed.

I found many good things, and for that, I thank God. However, I must say, it was, to say the very least, and all too very often – by no means an edifying exercise. I would certainly not recommend this exercise to the faint of heart and I would warn the depressed or doubting to not do anything like it. And, given the dates of posting, it was apparent that such matters have only increased in darkness and intensity over the past several weeks as a national election date draws ever closer.

It was as if I was witnessing points of light being dimmed, or even completely overcome, by darkness. (sigh)

As I scrolled and read, five passages of Scripture kept popping up in my mind, firing off like popcorn. What were those passages? Here they are (with my own application points inserted in all CAPS, within brackets).

Our Lord Jesus said …

1. “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter [VIA SHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA].” (Matthew 12.36)

An apostle of our Savior said …

2. “[POSTING] Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes [ON SOCIAL MEDIA] — these are not for you.” (Ephesians 5.4)

3. “Let your [SOCIAL MEDIA] conversation be always full of grace …” (Colossians 4.6a)

An unknown preacher, inspired by the Holy Spirit said …

4. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone [ON SOCIAL MEDIA] and to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12.14)

And the Lord’s half-brother said …

5. “With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image [VIA SOCIAL MEDIA]. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day [OR POST] and brackish the next, does it?” (James 3.9-11)

And so …

Let us re-dedicate our tongues and typing fingers to the Lord, my brothers and sisters. May we do that by re-dedicating our heart to him in repentance and profession of faith. Daily.

And may we never forget that along with our God who knows even the motives unknown to us that help give rise to our thoughts, feelings, words, and ways, a world full of people, yet to believe, are also closely watching us and reading us, along with brothers and sisters of greatly varying degrees of strength, burden, understanding, and maturity.

Let us not stumble, and let us not unwittingly cause, or lead, others to do the same, or worse. Rather, may we be an example of humility and godliness not only to all fellow believers, but to all who are yet to believe.

Deliver us from evil, Lord. Grant us, by your grace, to rise to this occasion, reflecting your light, and by no means, or media, adding to this world’s darkness. Amen.

Grace and PEACE, my fellow sheep.

By preachersmith Posted in Links

a preacher’s prayer at sunrise on Sunday


Father, who will give attention to you this morning? And should you allow me the privilege once more to speak of you, who, I ask, will hear you through my feeble, fumbling words? Will it be those who have heard many times before? Let them not be indifferent or complacent through familiarity. Will it be some who have never heard you before? Do not allow any of us to not encounter you. Work out my words, work through my words, work despite my words this morning – just work what you will in the moment, Father.

Give us your attention, Lord, even as we ask your help in our giving you our own; give us audience as we seek you. Take us by our hands to the Father and plead our need with your outstretched hands. Open our minds and break open our hearts, shining all you are on all that we are that we might change more into the likeness of you. Let us be all about you – entralled and enraptured with you, adoring you and freshly committing ourselves to emulating you.

Spirit holy, your ways and words are beyond our grasp, and yet, it is your words and words that must touch us, stir us, trouble us, settle us, and teach us. And so, I pray you will handle us and hold us this morning, working into each spirit present things far beyond what any of us can see and hear with our eyes and ears. As you have arranged for this time and place, our providential meeting with you in the presence of others, do walk among us and talk to us.

Begin this work with me, I pray. Where I need to tremble afresh, make me tremble. Where I need to rest confident in you, please plant me there. In all things today, work through me for the blessing of others and so bless me to that end.

In the name of my Savior, with trust, I come asking.


prayer at the start of a school year


Father God, you are the Great Teacher and we are your students. You alone know how to shape us right in mind and actions. You alone are true knowledge and wisdom. Your matchless care for even the smallest and least of us, the youngest or weakest of us, is unlike any other. You are the Loving Guide and Good to each and every one of us. Praise be to you forever for who you are!

And so, Father, we lift up to you the children that you have given us. And, we hold up to you, for your blessing, every person who is a guide and teacher, a source of wisdom and knowledge, and a model of unbiased care and good to our children, and the children of all others.

Grant to both those who learn and to those who teach, minds and hearts ever more full of what you have them to become and share. Put into their spirits all that is humility and confidence, inquisitiveness and discernment, strength and courage, hope and joy. Bind these, and these qualities, all the more together in love of you and for each other.

For your glory, Father, not our own, we ask. All praise be to you forever, in the name of your Son, Jesus.


By preachersmith Posted in Links

the parable of the parched grass



A man’s front yard was covered with grass. The grass near the center of the yard always did well. It received what it needed on a regular basis – sunlight, moisture, nutrients, and protection from enemies. It needed special attention at times, but only at times; occasionally it suffered for some reason, but only occasionally. It quickly rebounded from any misfortune, for it was easy for the grass to do well there.

However, life for the grass located closer to the street was very different. Whenever it rained, passing cars splashed the chemicals and oil in the street onto the grass. This was hard on the grass and the soil in which the grass was trying to grow. The soil became very different from the soil near the center of the yard. And, given that the boundary for the grass was concrete, the sun always, and quickly, baked away any moisture that was to be had. Consequently, weeds grew in much greater abundance among the grass near the street. Between the weeds, the heat, the pollution, and other troubles, the grass near the street had a very difficult life. Suffering was a daily experience there and the grass there never knew another. And woe to that grass in the brutal heat of summer or if it was scalped!

Now try as it might every day, the grass near the street could never better its lot in life on its own. If it ever did better at all it was solely because it was given special care by the man who owned the yard and those he called to help him improve the life of the soil and grass in need.

These things remained true for the grass near the center of the yard and the grass further away from the center as long as the man owned the yard.

Hear the parable of the parched grass, for the grass is people.

By preachersmith Posted in Links