Gentle Answers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV) 

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) 

A gentle answer defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG) 

How can we answer gently defuse the anger that is ravaging our cities? I wish I had the perfect answer that would restore order and peace. However, I recognize that there is no simple answer nor quick fix. This morning, I came across a powerful message from a woman of color , Nicole Walters, who gave me far deeper insight into what is going on. What if the protesting that has turned violent by some comes from a long-standing space of grief? Grief for the way that the world perceives individuals, based solely on the color of their skin. What if, after a lifetime of both observing and living this reality, the one more thing brought an end to the quiet peaceful ways of seeking right where so much is wrong, and what we are witnessing is screaming for our attention? No longer can we stay silent. We must listen and learn. In the same way the colonists attempted to peacefully right the wrongs imposed by authorities subjecting the citizens to unfair taxes, by letter writing, petitioning, and the like, they hit a point of being ignored, unheard, for far too long, and The Boston Tea Party took place. Rather than continue to be taxed on tea, they snuck aboard the ship and threw that tea into the harbor. Fires were ablaze, and civil unrest rose up. Enough was enough. What is going on now, is not so different. Preventable tragedies and gross atrocities continue to take place against people of color, and enough is enough. No, looting is not the answer, yet it has certainly demanded our attention. Each one of us needs to look at our own lens, and recognize where cleaning needs to occur. Sometimes, the lack of clarity of our view, comes from an unintentional ignorance. The more we know, the better we can become at loving our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, the way that God intended. Love always protects. If we begin to listen and learn and answer gently, with the wisdom and grace that God provides, then perhaps the anger will be defused and peace may begin to be restored. This begins with me. I love deeply, and value everyone. That being said, I must be intentional to become more aware, and learn how to love better. This is not meant to be some sort of soap box post, but rather one of recognition and repentance for not knowing what I have not clearly known. As a woman who loves Jesus, a mother, a teacher, and a friend, change begins with me. There is always more to learn to do better and be better. My job demands that I listen and learn, evolve and grow – in each of my roles; for each position give me a unique voice and the ability to impact those around me. May we seek the Lord for wisdom as we are intentional to listen and learn, so that we may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God as we are called. 

O Lord, here am I, 

On true bended knees; 

Asking for wisdom, 

So I clearly see. 

Please open my eyes, 

To where I’ve been blind; 

Lead me to better, 

Show me Your design. 

Help me to act justly, 

To love with mercy; 

May I humbly walk, 

Promote equity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You continue to grow us as we are willing to listen and learn. Thank You that You have created each of us with gifts and talents to share with and positively impact the world. Forgive us for our ignorance or places where we have not viewed the world through Your lens. Teach us to continue to intentionally learn and grow, so that we may more clearly reflect Your love and light unto the world. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all people feel valued, heard, and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and learn, so that we may always answer gently and help defuse anger with love. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – Micah 6:8

True Love Forgives

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

 

Forgiveness is an essential element of loving well. Jesus does not look at us and determine at some point that we have reached our quota of sin, and He suddenly will no longer forgive; therefore, we are called to do the same for those around us. That being said, we must use wisdom as we navigate. If someone is intentionally causing harm, we are capable of forgiving without remaining in a position to continue to be in harm’s way. Forgiveness is far more easily carried out with some, than with others. To forgive is to let go of our anger, cease resentment, and give up all claim on rights to retaliate or recover what has been lost. It is to extend pardon and release the burden, whether the offender has asked to be forgiven or not. “…Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) If we want to truly live and love as God has called us, we must forgive in the same way that He forgives each of us. May we be encouraged and empowered by the goodness and grace of God to go forth and forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven.

 

If we truly love, The Favor of Forgiveness

By grace, we’ll forgive;

Release each other,

With true pardon, give.

For no one’s perfect,

All in need of grace;

To rise, get better,

And walk in God’s way.

Lead us Lord Jesus,

Grant strength to forgive;

Choose love lavishly,

As His grace we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved and forgave us, before we were even repentant. Thank You that it is Your kindness that leads us to repentance. Thank You that You call us to extend the same forgiveness to those around us that You so lavishly extend to us. Forgive us for the times that we struggle to forgive, or have to do so over and over again. Show us how to place all in Your hands. Teach us how to navigate offenses according to Your perfect love. Lead us to love and forgive those around us in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to forgive others, whether they ask or not, and move forward in love, just as You love us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

Perfect Love Expels Fear

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. – (1 John 4:18, NLT)

Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. – (1 John 4:18, VOICE)

 

The love of God is perfect. His love draws us to desire change, rather than to run in fear. Though He is mighty and just, the Lord loves us to life again when we fall. His kindness draws us to repentance, and grows our drive to please Him. When we fear a consequence to our own actions, or some sort of separation from His love, it shows us that we have not fully grasped the depth and breadth of His amazing love for us all. There is NOTHING that can separate us from His love. This promise should promote our desire to earnestly seek Him in all things. Let us embrace the grace that we have been given through the perfect love of God, and go forth, without fear, and love well.

 

Love does not cause fear,Forgiveness is Free

But drives it away;

For true love’s embrace,

Has promised to stay.

There’s nothing we do,

Nor words that we say;

That shall separate,

From His loving ways.

For love is complete,

Through His perfect love;

No fear need be near,

Where grace reigns above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your perfect love casts out fear, and we need not be afraid. Thank You that we can come to You and confess the things that we have done, and know that You love us so much, that You will forgive us and receive us with open arms. Forgive us for our fearfulness, as we know we deserve punishment and lose sight of the greatness of Your mercy and grace. Teach us to trust You more, as You show us the fullness of Your perfect love. Help us to love those around us in such a way, that they too may see love without limits and grace that grows ever greater. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to receive Your perfect love and let go of fear. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Reverently Receive

For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. – (John 3:16-17, TLB)

 

Though we were far from God, living life according to our own agenda, Christ came to show us a better way. He did not come to condemn us, but rather to make us righteous so that we might know Him. God loved so that we could know love. There is no greater love than this – for He loved while we were so unlovable; not because we were worthy, but because we are His created, and He is merciful and full of grace. It is His kindness that leads to repentance and shows us the way to eternal life with Him. May we embrace the mercy and grace that we have been freely and lavishly given by God, and go forth in love as we are loved.

 

Because God so loved,

Hold Hope He is Faithful

image from quotespictures.com

There is a way home;

A path to heaven,

That Christ has made known.

When we place our trust,

In the Lord above;

And follow His ways,

We grow in His love.

It’s through His kindness,

And His loving grace;

That we’re forgiven,

Wrapped in His embrace.

Those who choose to trust,

No more shall we die;

Instead we will know,

Love’s eternal life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You so loved the world that You gave Your only Son. Thank You that anyone who believes in Him won’t perish, but will live forever with You. Thank You that You did not send Jesus to condemn us, but rather to save us. Forgive us for mistaking You for an angry God that is not merciful, or for taking Your forgiveness for granted. Teach us to view You through the proper lens, and to recognize the weight of what You have done for us to make our presence before You possible. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends mercy and grace in the same way that we have been given so much from You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we readily and reverently receive the incredible gift of eternal life that You give. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Faithful Love Forever

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. – (Psalm 136:1, NLT)

…His faithful love lasts forever. – (VOICE)

…His faithful love will last forever. – (ERV)

…His loving-kindness continues forever. – (TLB)

…His mercy endures forever. – (MEV)

 

Psalm 136 repeats the second line “His faithful love endures forever” in every verse. Twenty-six times we are reminded that the faithful love of God lasts forever. Typically, when something repeats in scripture, we are meant to take note and pay attention. A line that repeats in each verse of an entire chapter, leads to memorization and perhaps a passing through of the barrier between the head and the heart. God wants us to understand that He is loving, merciful and kind, and that His faithfulness is forever when we place our trust in Him. The Lord is good, and deserves all of our thanks. May we recognize His faithful love that lasts for all time, and give Him thanks for who He is.

 

Give thanks to the Lord,Confidence in Christ

for He is so good;

His love never ends,

and hope’s understood.

His loving kindness,

shall last for always;

so let us give thanks,

for all of our days.

His mercy endures,

though we deserve not;

the love that He gives,

when the truth is sought.

Let us each embrace,

the truth of His word;

His love shall not end,

may His hope be heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, and that Your faithful love lasts forever. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and we are received with open arms. Thank You that Your mercy is new every morning, and that Your kindness is what leads us to repentance. Forgive us for doubting Your faithfulness. Teach us to trust in the truth of Your goodness and faithfulness that will not end. Show us how to love faithfully, all those around us, so that they too, might see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give thanks to You for who You are and how Your love and faithfulness never ends. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Withholding Wayward Words

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. – (Proverbs 12:18)

 

Our words matter. The thoughts that we choose give a voice have the capacity to cut or to heal those who are around us. Typically, because words are of such great worth in my world, I choose quite carefully. However, when pressed and pushed from every direction, I had a moment the other day, where discernment went out the window, and I went off. My words were not life-giving, but rather they were reactive and ugly, without looking at the potential for their lasting impact. Throughout the day, the Holy Spirit showed me where I went wrong, and how I might repent and bring reparation for what should not have been given “voice”. That evening, after the apology and appropriate words for the situation were extended, communication that had been strained, somehow became much more bearable. Words of repentance followed by kind words of encouragement, lifted the weight of ugliness that had been lurking between our exchanges. Since then, our conversations have been kinder and gentler, with more consideration for one another. Healing does happen when wisdom is used through our words. May we choose wisely each word we give voice today, so that what comes from our mouth and heart bring healing, rather than hurt.

 

Reckless words bring pain,Constructive Permission

they cut like a sword;

wounding tender hearts,

when angst is outpoured.

The tongue of the wise,

brings healing and life;

it builds others up,

the ender of strife.

So let us choose well,

the words we give voice;

in wisdom, speak love,

obedient choice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are life-giving and that Your word brings healing and wisdom to all who seek to hear and know the truth. Thank You that when we trust in You, Your Holy Spirit will guide us in the words we speak, if we are willing to listen. Forgive us for our reckless words, and please bring healing and restoration to all whom our ill-spoken words have injured. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to be silent before You and listen well, before we ever give voice to what may cause contention. Help us to speak the truth in love, so that others may receive what is said without being wounded, but rather by being encouraged to draw still nearer to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we silence the reckless words waiting to escape, and instead, give voice to the wise words that extend Your healing and Your hope. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Discipline is Discipling

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV)

My son, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be angry when He corrects you.  The Lord corrects the one He loves, just as a father corrects a child he cares about. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, ERV)

The word discipline has always held a strange duality in my world.  On one hand, it held this connotation of being in trouble, and that is a very negative association for a people-pleaser; yet on the other hand, as an athlete, discipline  has simply meant adhering to the training and teaching prescribed by coaches who knew far more about my sports than I did.  In athletics, I never had a problem with a coach correcting me, as I knew it was for my benefit as an athlete, and would make me stronger, faster, or more efficient (depending on which sport they were coaching).

As I unpack the word this morning, discipline in this portion of Proverbs has the same connotation as my second example.  Discipline here, actually means to teach and to train.  God wants to teach us and train us in His ways, and He loves us enough to correct and redirect us when we go astray from the path on which He has placed us.  His Holy Spirit will whisper to our heart when we have said or done something that we ought not have done.  That unsettling feeling of regret or remorse is actually our invitation to repentance.  The Lord is so kind and gentle.  He patiently and lovingly waits for us to turn our eyes back to Him, and set our sights on that which matters most – who He is, and who He is calling us to become.  May we embrace the Lord’s discipline as His sons and daughters, understanding that it is because He delights in us, that He disciples us in love.

The Lord loves to teach,

and train those He loves;Compassion in Confrontations

He shows us the way,

to change, overcome.

Just as a parent,

shows a child the way;

to live life upright,

for all of their days.

Embrace the correction,

for He teaches those;

beloved children,

whom He calls His own.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your discipline is part of discipling, and You are teaching and training us in the ways in which we are meant to go.  Thank You that love alone is Your motivation.  Forgive us for rejecting correction, or for being slow to respond.  Help us to quickly recognize Your voice, correction and direction in our lives, so that we can walk ever closer with You.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may embrace all of Your discipling, even when it involves rebuke or redirecting from where we thought we were meant to go.  Lead us to love others with the same generosity that You pour out upon us.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be glorified O God, as we embrace the teaching and training that You extend to each of us, individually.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Agreeing to Abide

In Paul’s final warnings to the Corinthians at the close of his second letter, he encourages them with the following: Now, brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, ERV)

 

With these words, Paul was not encouraging the church to ignore nor agree with sin. In fact, he had in just a few verses prior, given specific instructions for how to deal with intentional sin that was continuing among the body of Christ. Once the air has been cleared, and repentance has been sought, each ought to seek to live right with one another, agreeing to abide by the Lord’s standards, which lead to peace. As we adhere to what God has set in place, His love and peace are present, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. May we seek to serve the Lord with our whole heart, and follow Him all of our days. Let His love and peace be present, as He guides us in all of His ways.

 

Let’s keep short accounts,Rest in the Rock

with those in the Lord;

filled with God’s great grace,

and love He affords.

Seek to make things right,

repent when we’re wrong;

forgive those who ask,

His grace makes us strong.

In things of the Lord,

set hearts to agree;

allow the Lord’s peace,

to guide and to lead.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone fill our hearts with joy, regardless of our circumstance. Thank You that You call us to make things right before You with one another, and lead us to keep short accounts before You and others. Thank You that as we do, Your peace and love is present with us. Forgive us for not seeking peace in spaces of turmoil, and help us to trust You more, so that we will know what we are meant to do, and what we are to wait and allow You to do. Lead us to love others well, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we keep short accounts with one another, agreeing with each other in the things of You, as we walk forward in Your love and perfect peace. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

How Great the Father’s Love

I never grow weary of the parable of the lost son, as each time I read it, I am reminded of just how great the Father’s love is for each of us. In this story, the son had squandered wealth he should have never asked for, and had sunk to rock bottom. His found himself in the lowliest of positions, destitute and desperate. When the son assessed his situation, he realized that repentance before his father, and a willingness to work as a hired hand were far better options than his present position. So he got up and went to his father. “but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – (Luke 15:20)

 

The son recognized his sin, repented, and merely hoped to be made a hired hand. Instead, his father ran to meet him from a long way off, embraced him and celebrated his homecoming. God does the same for each of us when we come to Him with a repentant heart. Though we may come, simply hoping to somehow be seen as “okay”, He does so much more. Christ welcomes us, gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us, and we are adopted as sons and daughters of God Himself. We are granted an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken, and provided promises to propel us along our path. May we receive the glorious gift of God’s grace, and welcome with open arms, the compassion conveyed in His embrace.

 

Foolish and selfish,How Great the Fathers Love

the arrogant son;

ran off and rebelled,

lowly position.

When he had squandered,

all that had been his;

he started longing,

for what he fed pigs.

It was then he knew,

that he must repent;

for his father’s men,

lived far more decent.

Perhaps he would hire,

give a chance, employ;

no longer worthy,

to be called dad’s boy.

So the son set off,

he headed for home;

imagine the awe,

as grace was made known.

For while still far off,

his father, he ran;

to greet and embrace,

this shell of a man.

The gifts that he gave,

assured him his worth;

a chance for new life,

a sense of rebirth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You with a repentant heart, You do for us, just as the father did for his son. You meet us where we are, shower us with Your grace, robe us in Your righteousness, celebrate our homecoming, and call us Your own! Thank You that we are welcomed into Your family, no matter where we have come from. Thank You that Your grace is more than enough to cover our sin and shame, and that You celebrate and embrace each of us as we choose You. Forgive us for thinking that You could not possibly forgive us for what we have done, or that another around us does not deserve the mercy and grace that You give. Teach us to see things through Your eyes, so that we too, will celebrate and embrace each and every individual who comes into Your kingdom. Lead us to love others as You unfailingly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize how ready You are to receive everyone who comes. Be glorified O God, as we give and receive Your great love. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Repentance vs. Regret

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – (2 Corinthians 7:10)

 

Godly sorrow helps us see the error in our ways, confess before Christ, and allows us to embrace the forgiveness and salvation that our Heavenly Father is freely offering. As we repent, we are restored, and all has been removed. However, worldly sorrow is the sort that keeps us stuck in a sense of guilt that makes us shoulder the weight of the world. Over time, such sorrow brings destruction and ultimately death, whereas Godly sorrow restores us to life again. Our self-check is a matter of where does our sorrow lead us? Does it draw us to the face of our Heavenly Father, or make us run from responsibility and hide in our own hurt? In all things, we are to seek Him, and He will be found. His grace is sufficient, no matter what we have done. Christ already bore the weight on the cross. May our hearts turn away from our unrighteousness, and embrace the grace He has given, as He already suffered on our behalf.

 

Sorrow from the Lord,Modeling Our Maker

sets us free from sin;

it draws us to Christ,

repent before Him.

As we choose confess,

we are forgiven;

for abundant grace,

already given.

Sorrow from the world,

sets out to destroy;

the guilt eats away,

each last ounce of joy.

The road to ruin,

is full of the lies;

that our sin’s too great,

the space where hope dies.

God’s grace is enough,

the price has been paid;

embrace all He gives,

and walk in His way.

For those He sets free,

are free, yes indeed;

to live and love well,

give as we’ve received.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that sorrow from You, leads us to turn away from our sin and seek Your forgiveness. Thank You that as we ask, You forgive and restore us to right relationship with You. Thank You that sorrow from You compels us to seek You, whereas worldly sorrow simply sucks us under by the weight of our own guilt. Forgive us for allowing guilt to grab hold of our hearts, rather than seek You earnestly when we know we have not pleased You in word, thought or deed. Help us to trust You more, so that we seek You the moment we have that check in our heart that tells us that we are not doing what is pleasing before You. Lead us to live and love in such a way, that those around us are drawn unto You. May many come to know You as their Savior and King. Be exalted, O God, as we seek Your face in repentance when sorrows set in. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19