Actions Versus Words

“Actions speak louder than words,” goes the old saying. And there’s truth in that.

If I tell my sister I love her, but I never spend time with her, never show interest in her interests, never give her a nice gift, never let her choose the movie, never help her with a task, never go out of my way to serve her, how is she supposed to believe that I love her?

On the other hand, if I give her the best birthday and Christmas gifts, regularly do chores for her, always let her choose the movie, always drop my own work when she needs me, but my mouth is full of cut-downs, insults, teasing, and rebukes, don’t you think she’ll doubt the sincerity of all my loving actions? Won’t she wonder why under the sun I do nice things for her when I apparently can’t stand her?

She’d think me a hypocrite with some ulterior motive. And why shouldn’t she?

“Actions speak louder than words,” they say. But maybe that’s a bit of a cop-out.

Maybe words are actions.

If we say actions are stronger than words, then we could assume that words don’t really matter that much. And if words don’t really matter, then we can let our tongues run away and spout whatever we feel at the moment. If words don’t really matter, then we can berate and mock our friends whenever they get on our nerves. As long as we do nice things for them otherwise.

That doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship, does it?

Of course not. Because our words need to line up with our actions. We ought to be kind in practical, tangible ways. And we ought to make sure our words are kind as well.

Take a look at this passage from the book of Job. When disaster befell Job and all his goods and even his children were stripped away from him, three of Job’s friends came to “comfort him.” Their version of comfort was to accuse Job of wrongdoing and urge him to repent so God would bless him again.

Here’s how Job felt about it:

“How long will you torment my soul,
And break me in pieces with your words?

-Job 19:2 (NKJV)

Can you hear the pain in his voice?

His “friends” never raised their hands against him. But their words crushed him. Maybe long ago his friends had done him a good turn, and he them. Maybe their actions had proclaimed their mutual friendship. Yet here they are tearing him apart with their words.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…” But words can torment the soul and fragment the heart.

Words have power.

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.

-James 3:5-6a NKJV (emphasis mine)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

-Proverbs 18:21a NKJV (emphasis mine)

Job also had this to say about his friends’ words:

“I have heard many such things;
Miserable comforters are you all!
I also could speak as you do,
If your soul were in my soul’s place.
I could heap up words against you,
And shake my head at you;
But I would strengthen you with my mouth,
And the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.

-Job 16:2, 4-5 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Job’s friends used their words to make him miserable. They pushed his soul toward despair and death.

But they didn’t have to. They could have chosen to speak words of comfort. Words that urged his soul toward hope and life.

We shouldn’t go around assuming that our actions are loud enough to convince our loved ones that we love them. What message are our words sending?

Maybe we’ve gotten very good at guarding our tongues. Maybe we hardly ever let anything unkind slip out. And that’s great.

But do we keep silent when we have opportunity to speak a word of encouragement? Sometimes silence is a form of speaking. Make sure your silence is saying what you want it to.

One more thing: not everything Job’s friends said was wrong of itself. Their statements weren’t necessarily untrue or unrighteous.

But the right word at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or to the wrong person is the wrong word.

Words can have power coming from anyone, even a stranger. But words have the most power with people we’re close to. If I don’t know you, your insults aren’t going to hit home the way insults from my friend would.

So should we not be extra careful how we speak to those we love?

Don’t ever think words don’t matter. They can kill. Or they can heal.

When you speak, that’s just as much an action as when you punch someone in the nose.

So go love someone with your words today. (Just make sure your other actions aren’t contradicting you.)

-Miss Darcy

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Talking of Roses

(I’m not perfectly certain how Jesus came to receive the name “Rose of Sharon.” I think it’s a misinterpretation of Song of Songs 2:1. But, in any case, I wrote this poem several years ago, referring to Jesus as the Rose of Sharon.)

Come hither, my friend, oh come hither,
Come see the rose buds that here grow.
They’re plumper than when we looked last time.
It promises beautiful show!
The buds we see now, though, will wither:
Our sweet Rose of Sharon lives on! 

Come hither, my friend, oh come hither,
And see all the buds bursting free.
Just look at the colorful petals!
Quite soon they will cloak this rose-tree.
These blossoms, now young, will all wither:
Our sweet Rose of Sharon lives on!

Come hither, my friend, oh come hither,
Examine these full-opened blooms.
What lovely perfume and bright color!
With time it shall all be consumed.
The roses of earth will all wither:
Our sweet Rose of Sharon lives on!

-Miss Darcy

Reformation Fire

(Because I’m in haste today, I present you with a poem I wrote six years ago. Hope you enjoy!)

A man from England, John Wycliffe,
A learned man was he.
He taught his students at Oxford
About theology.
He wanted to seek for the truth
And always uphold right;
He studied well the Bible’s words—
And so the fire ignites! 

The clergymen who ruled the church
Were rich and powerful;
They loved their riches more that Christ,
Which made John sorrowful.
The common people did not know
How to find salvation:
Scriptures were writ in Latin and
They had no education.

Now John translated the Bible
So common folks could read
Of sin and wrath and great judgment
And Jesus’ blood we need.
John saw that the priests and bishops
And pope loved pow’r and wealth;
They forgot God, neglected man
And his spiritual health. 

John saw and was indignant, he
Rebuked the clergymen.
The pope said he could teach no more
And thus he silenced him.
But truth can never be suppressed—
The things that John had said,
They traveled to Bohemia.
And so the fire spread! 

‘Twas there a young man named Jan Hus
Heard of John Wycliffe’s words.
And at his university
Soon all the students heard.
The teachings, they were much admired
By Jan especially.
He believed the Bible was the
Only authority. 

He widely proclaimed these teachings:
The common folks were glad.
The church’s teachings were challenged:
The officials were mad!
So they tried Jan for heresy
And burned him at the stake.
He died praying and singing—
A martyr for Christ’s sake. 

But though they might could kill the man,
They could not quench the flame.
The pow’r and truth of the gospel
Will always be the same.
Let us remember John Wycliffe,
Who walked the narrow way,
And Jan Hus for reviving that
Great flame that burns today!

-Miss Darcy

Now Will Be

Being a grammar-nut of sorts, when I really noticed the grammar in John 12:31, I had to reread it. I’ll share why in just a minute. First, let me give a touch of set-up for the verse.

It’s the week of Passover. Jesus will be crucified this weekend. And His soul is troubled because of the pain. But He is determined to fulfill His purpose. So He prays aloud, “Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice comes from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

While the onlookers wonder exactly what’s going on, Jesus explains for them.

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples unto Myself.”

-John 12:30-32 (emphasis mine)

“Now” implies right at this time. “Will be” indicates at a future time. Yet Jesus says the ruler of this world will be cast out now. When?

When He is lifted up from the earth.

Typically, you hear that phrase “lifted up” referring to praising Jesus. And I suppose that applies. But it is not what Jesus was talking about.

Jesus referred to His crucifixion. Even the people who heard Him knew that. They asked (I paraphrase), “What do you mean, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? The law says the Christ will live forever. Who are you talking about?”

So Jesus’ crucifixion is the “now.” At Jesus’ crucifixion was the judgment of the world, and at Jesus’ crucifixion the ruler of this world will be cast out.

See the contradiction of time? I find it fascinating. Here’s what I think it means.

The ruler of this world is already defeated.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in [the cross].

-Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)

At the cross, Jesus overcame the power Satan had held since Adam and Eve sinned. On the records, Satan is listed “defeated.”

But the official casting-out ceremony is yet to be.

In Revelation 20:10, we read how, at the very end of the battle, the devil is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Isn’t it fun to read the end of the Book?) For now, he roams the earth “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (see 1 Peter 5:8)

Satan still exerts power, yes. It is foolish to discount his schemes and his strength. But it is also wise to remember that much of his power lies in his skill to deceive.

Jesus is the Truth. (see John 14:6) And He promises that the Truth will set us free. (see John 8:32) Free from sin. Free from shame. Free from Satan.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be a long battle–maybe a grueling, crushing, desperate battle. But victory is eventually guaranteed if you press closer to Jesus without backing down, without wavering toward the world, without losing heart. Because the foe is already defeated.

Live now for what will be.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Maybe I’m reading more into the wording than is there. Bear with me. I love to explore the richness of words.

Wisdom, a Poem

(I have a guest post today. A poem by my sister, Leah Fornier. Read it slowly. You might even want to read it twice. It’s that deep. And I love the wordplay.)

Wisdom

By Leah Fornier

We worship wisdom and the wise.
Where are the wise?
We search for understanding.
Where is understanding?
What is worldly wisdom and understanding?
They are foolishness.
Fools are we to follow
The worldly wisdom of the wise.
Who is wise?
Is it not God who has made
Our wisdom foolish?
The world in its wisdom
Forgot the wisdom of the most high God:
The God who made wisdom,
And gave wisdom.
The God who sent the message of salvation
Through the foolishness of His wisdom.
Can we then say, ‘That is foolish,’
Or, ‘That is wise’?
Do we know the wisdom
Of the God of wisdom?
What can we understand,
We, who scorned the Savior, as foolishness?
But who can say,
We who know not wisdom,
What is foolishness?
Christ is the foolishness of God,
Which is yet much wiser
Than the wisdom of man.
Christ is the wisdom of God,
For those who seek wisdom –
Foolishness in the light of worldly wisdom,
But wisdom in the light of God’s foolishness.
The foolishness of all who believe
Is the wisdom of God,
Made manifest to us through Jesus Christ,
The foolishness of God,
And the salvation of man.
This is wisdom.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

-1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)

-Miss Darcy

Understanding the Headship Veiling

(I went back and forth today about what I wanted to write, but this topic was pretty important to me several years ago, and it was interesting to research it.)

Maybe you’re thinking, What on earth is “Headship Veiling”?

See, in school, I used a lot of Mennonite curricula. (Loved their math, English, and Bible teaching programs.) And one doctrine the Mennonites focus on is the Headship Veiling, which is their interpretation of the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul says a woman is not to pray with her head uncovered.

Well, the teaching is in there. You can’t make it go away by ignoring it. And I didn’t want to be one of those people who says, “Oh, that was for their time. It isn’t relevant to us.” The minute you start saying that about different Bible passages, you are one step away from tossing out the whole Bible.

Now there are two main interpretations of this passage (besides the idea that it isn’t relevant to us). One is that a woman should wear a literal cloth covering on her head. The other is that she must wear her hair long for her covering.

Now the Mennonites teach that a born-again woman wears a literal covering. So I read the passage and I could see where they get it from. Paul spends nearly half the chapter explaining this. I read along through the first thirteen verses, thinking that while I didn’t (and still don’t) fully comprehend his reasons, he definitely says it’s important that a woman cover her head.

Then you get to verse 14, and all of a sudden he’s writing about hair length. What does that have to do with wearing a covering?

Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

Does not even nature itself teach that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?

But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

-1 Corinthians 11:13-15

Ah, that’s where the hair comes in. Her hair is her covering.

But the Mennonites still maintain that a physical covering–a veil–is required in addition to the hair.

Who’s right?

I turned to koine Greek to see if the original language of the New Testament shed any light.

First I looked up “covering.” The word means “something thrown around one, i.e., a mantle or cloak.” I thought, Well, that sounds more like long, flowing hair than a little cap or bonnet.

Then I looked up “long hair.” In koine Greek, this word means “locks, as ornamental.”

I did this part of my study with a good old Strong’s concordance, the kind that weighs about 50 pounds and you have to use the King James Version to find your verse. I was fairly well convinced that the hair was the covering. Then I got a chance to peek at my cousin’s  Greek interlinear New Testament, and guess what clinched the findings for me.

A preposition.

Yes, that little word “for.” The verse says, “her hair is given her for a covering.”

The Greek preposition is pronounced “ahn-TEE.” Spelled in English characters, it looks like this: anti. Seem familiar?

It means “instead of.” So the verse could read, “her ornamental hair is given to her instead of a covering.”

And I was so glad to see that. Maybe I take things a little too seriously, but I was so glad to know for certain what I believed on this topic.

The locks of hair are the covering. So how long is long enough? Longer than a “typical” man’s style, or never-touch-it-with-the-scissors?  I’ve come to believe that the style should look feminine; decorative; distinctly ornamental. As opposed to a man’s style, which is more for practicality.

But…

We had it all wrapped up neatly. We know what’s right, and all those other people are wrong, right?

Look at verse 16 of our chapter. After Paul spends all this time explaining the practice of Headship Veiling, as the Mennonites call it, he writes:

But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

-1 Corinthians 11:16

What? You’re saying it doesn’t matter, after all that fuss?

Not, perhaps, that it doesn’t matter, but that it’s not as important as we might make it. It’s not worth becoming contentious, breaking relationships, and splitting the church fellowship.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

-Romans 14:5

To me, this Headship Veiling is one of the minor issues. “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” And live by it.

I haven’t found anything in the Greek to indicate that ornamental (long) hair on a man is, in fact, acceptable. That’s pretty straightforward–even nature teaches that it’s a shame. But, back to Romans 14:5. “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” It’s not worth breaking fellowship. If you listen to the Lord long enough, He’ll let you know what He wants you to do.

And by now, if you’ve read this far, you probably know way more than you ever cared to know on the subject of 1 Corinthians 11. But I always think it’s fun to dive into God’s Word. And, of course, I love the Greek.

-Miss Darcy

Why Independence?

On July Fourth, we celebrated Independence Day, the day when the world-changing Declaration of Independence was signed. But the Declaration did more than declare political independence.  Most of the document is devoted to explaining why the American Colonies decided to “dissolve the political bands” that connected them with Great Britain.

Mind you, much of the philosophy behind the Declaration doesn’t come straight out of the Bible, though the writer does appeal to God to justify this political move. The Declaration is full of Enlightenment thinking, which can be traced to John Locke way back in the 1600’s. Enlightenment philosophy pushed back against the “sovereign right of kings,” which had dominated thinking for so long.

The sovereign right of kings used the Bible to justify the king’s utter and absolute authority.  Enlightenment philosophy countered that the individual citizens of a country have certain rights as individuals, regardless of who is in power.

So, on to the reasoning Mr. Thomas Jefferson gave for seceding, as it were, from Great Britain. The second sentence in the document reads thus:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Are not they inspiring words?

We hold these truths

Wait right there. Notice that word truths.  Apparently early American thinking acknowledged absolute truth. In fact, Mr. Jefferson proffers truth as the basis for independence. My, but haven’t we come a long way since then?

to be self-evident,

And here begins a list of the truths which are the foundation of freedom.

that all men are created equal,

Now that one’s important. It actually took the United States a while to fully embrace that, as evidenced by slavery and segregation.

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

If the Creator doesn’t endow them, we certainly have no way of determining what they are, and the founders of America recognized this. After all, they believed they had a right to have a representative in government if they were to be taxed. The British Crown denied this right. If men are responsible for choosing rights, then the person with the most power is correct. Period. But if Someone who transcends human affairs chooses the rights, then a person has those rights, no matter what. (I’m not saying God did or didn’t assign the rights Mr. Jefferson claimed. I’m saying Mr. Jefferson knew how to make a solid argument. He appealed to higher authority–the Maker of humankind. He acknowledged that his own opinion wasn’t enough.)

that among these are Life,

Come to think of it, we have yet to embrace these Rights for all humans in this country. Because extremely small people can be murdered at the convenience of their mothers (or sometimes fathers or grandparents).

Liberty,

Here I will include two definitions of liberty from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:

Natural liberty, consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state or exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.”

Civil liberty, is the liberty of men in a state of society, or natural liberty, so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. A restraint of natural liberty, not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. Civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty.

‘The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others.’
Ames.

In this sentence, the latter word liberty denotes natural liberty.”

I’m guessing that the Declaration refers to civil liberty, but see what you think.

and the pursuit of Happiness.

Actually, I believe mankind has a greater purpose than just pursuing happiness. I also believe that Christians have a duty to do more than pursue happiness. But for the citizens of a civilized nation, upon whom we wish to impose no particular religion, I suppose it makes a fine enough summation of a person’s desires.

(I might add here that the pursuit of personal happiness could become detrimental to others if your happiness came at the expense of another person’s welfare. Which is why governments are established.)

Fascinating–is it not?–the depth behind these words. I could go on (of course! Writers can get excessively long-winded). But I won’t. Here is a link to the transcript of the Declaration of Independence if you care to read it in its entirety. ‘Tis worth reading once in a while, perhaps even aloud. 

Good to remember where we came from.

-Miss Darcy