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Accentuate the Positive

“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”  
Romans 12:2, CEV

Years ago, my husband and I visited Vancouver, Canada. Cool temps, long days, beautiful vistas, and friendly residents made our stay memorable. Several times while there, I was asked to repeat something I’d said. Whenever I did, the comment that usually followed was … “I love your accent.”

Dialects and accents often reveal the vicinities or regions from which people originate. Most areas of our world have distinctive tongues. I think we can all agree, it’s easy to peg someone from Great Britain, Asia, the Bronx, or Boston. And, yawl—what about that unmistakable southern drawl? It’s a dead giveaway, isn’t it?”

Accents are significantly influenced by the amount of time we spend in an area, regardless of our birthplace. I’m originally from St. Louis, but I’ve lived in the South far too long for that to ring true. When my husband was in the Air Force, we spent over five months in New Mexico. Whenever we returned to North Carolina, some said I’d already picked up an accent.

What do our accents reveal about where we spend the majority of our time? Do we immerse ourselves in the world, or do our words and actions reveal our place in God’s earthly kingdom? If we’re professing Christians, can others tell by the words we speak and the things we do?

In 1944, Johnny Mercer, a southern boy from Savannah, Georgia wrote the song, Ac-cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive. Inspired by a sermon, the song’s lyrics encourage us to dwell on the positive and eliminate the negative in our lives. In other words, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it holds the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). The words we speak and the ways we say them reveal the things we’ve stored in our hearts. Our words create actions, good and bad.

Let’s be people whose mouths are filled with life—those whose speech reflects the character of our Creator. When others engage in conversation with us, may our words be so distinctive that they not only reveal where we’re from but whose we are. Let’s be people who are asked to repeat what we say, and then perhaps hear … “I love your accent.”

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” –Psalm 19:14 ESV

Blessings,

Starr

The gift we’ll never lose

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”Luke 2:11 

You may have noticed this writer has been a little absent of late. My family has recently moved after a nerve-wracking period of transferring jobs. As the military joke goes, “Hurry up and wait.” There has been a great deal of transitions, as we now live in a different state. We packed up our house ourselves, toddler in tow, and drove the seven hours to our new home.

I have come face to face with not having my wants met. Our hearts’ cry is to bring another child into the world, but yet God is not allowing it at this time. We are once again in‘the stretching phase.’ Recently very dear family has also suffered a devastating setback. Something they were so close to having was quickly taken away, plunging them once again into waiting and hoping. I am reminded of the verse, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Proverbs 13:12)

Any transition is hard and this new season brings on its’ own challenges. Finding a church, friends,even places to take our toddler to play all take time, patience, and a little humor. This new season of our life has also brought the desire to add to our family. My body needs a little help, so we’ve begun seeing a specialist after a year of trying.

What are we to do in the waiting? What are we to do when we are surrounded by those proclaiming God’s goodness in their lives, celebrating all His blessings?

I have come face to face with the question: Do I love God for who He is? Or do I love him for what He will give me? Maybe like me you remember asking a jolly man in a red suit for gifts this time of year, eyes aglow with visions of toys. Let’s remember the best gift God has given us, that will never be taken away: Jesus. Let us love God for who He is and what He has done. Let us love Him for the right reasons,not just for the blessings we hope for. More painfully, let us love Him regardless of our circumstances.

When we set our eyes on the eternal perspective of Jesus, our trials become far more temporary. Were member this is not our home. We remember the greatest gift of all, a humble child born in a manger, come to save us all.

In Him,

Amy

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”
Philippians 3:8 NIV

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was sitting imprisoned and in chains, but the loss he was describing in Phil. 3:8 was not the loss of his freedom, but the loss of his self-righteousness. Before Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus, he had been a Pharisee who focused on righteousness gained through personal means, such as following laws and performing rituals. According to his description in Philippians, Paul had originally thought he was blameless through these actions, but then he learned that there is no such thing as self-justification. When Paul found Jesus, he realized that he was a sinner and could only be saved through the grace of God. This is what he meant by the loss of everything else to gain Christ. In fact, rubbish in this context meant dung or manure. He gave up his self-righteous past that focused on material, man pleasing pursuits, to turn toward a relationship with Jesus—the only thing that matters. This is why he could sit imprisoned and say that it was his past in the glory of men that was rubbish. He knew that with Christ in his heart, he could find joy in any circumstance.

This last summer I went on a cruise in the Caribbean. At the time, I was also working on a Philippians Bible study, so I decided to find a spot on the boat each day to get some work accomplished. One day I was sitting in a cushy chair at the deck railing, with an umbrella over my head, when I came across this verse. It was such a contrast to read about someone sitting in prison and writing about rubbish as I sat with my feet propped up,overlooking the view of the water. I thought about the boat and everything on it and realized that it too is rubbish compared to Christ. Everything on the cruise— the food, the pool, the entertainment, the marble floors— is all material. Yes, it is relaxing and fun to get away, but anything designed to impress men is meaningless if Jesus isn’t first in my life. A few verses later, Paul explained that “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:12 NIV). Whether in prison or on a cruise ship, if Christ is in my heart, I can find joy in all circumstances, because everything else is rubbish.

In Christ alone,

Erin Tabor

Photo Credit: my own photo