July 19, 2021

What did that compliment do to you?

 

Assuming we have no ulterior motive, such as buttering up or trying to manipulate someone, a compliment can a lift a person’s spirits. However, it can also have a negative effect.

 

At the risk of making you (and me!) afraid to ever say anything nice to anyone again, I’ve been pondering the subject and remembering what helped me and what did not. I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the Comments section below. Meanwhile, here’s what came to me.

 

A compliment can encourage.

 

The pastor-leader of a discussion group once asked us to tell each other something we might not be aware of otherwise. One woman looked at me and said, “You have a lovely smile.” Since my sweet-spirited dad did, it pleased me to know I might have received that from him, and so the compliment encouraged me to smile more.

 

When a compliment is obviously meant to be supportive, we can take that word to heart, thanking the person – and thanking God for lifting our spirits and/or guiding us in a particular direction.

 

A compliment can discourage.

 

The person giving a compliment might be appalled to know this, but a negative result can come in self-consciousness! This often happens when we compliment a person’s looks, rather than a well-chosen outfit or skin-flattering choice of colors.

 

Unfortunately, I did this recently when I told a friend she looked elegant. She did, but I wish I’d been more specific and told her how a particular, upswept hairstyle makes her look elegant. Then it would be her choice or decision as to whether she felt up to elegance that day!

 

Similarly, poets, writers, and other artistic people might wonder, “Will I ever create anything as good?” or “Will people like my next work as well?” Book reviews, positive Comments on a blog, or a simple “Like” for a post can provide the timely encouragement that person needed.

 

A compliment can provide an opening to praise!

 

Whether a compliment focuses on what we did, how we look, or what gifts and abilities we have, we can thank the person for the acknowledgement and give credit to God. For example: if someone says, “Your (poem, painting, sermon ___ fill in the blank) meant a lot to me,” we can accept that good word yet get the focus off of our self-conscious selves by praising the Lord and thanking the person for letting us know.

 

Hmm. I just realized that one of my favorite prayers since childhood can be applied to this discussion, which I hope you will join in the Comments below!

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,” Psalm 19:14.

 

What we say (words of the mouth) and how we receive what someone else says (meditations of my heart) can find anchor in the Rock and, when needed, be redeemed by our Father God Who rescues us, even from ourselves.

 

©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler

 

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June 11, 2021

Real love cannot be faked

 

Plants have enemies.
Weeds work at replication.
Real love can’t be faked.


When that poem came to mind this morning instead of sleep, I wondered how many poems I’d been given on love.  I still don’t know, but most poets write on the subject, along with other universal topics such as birth, death, and infinity. What’s written, however, may have little to do with actual love – the real love the Apostle Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13.

Comparing translations on Bible Gateway, I’m reminded that the King James Version uses the word “charity” in lieu of “love.” That synonym helps to clarify the concept of true love by bringing to mind a donation, a gift, or other type of assistance.

The “love chapter” also defines by comparing and contrasting what genuine love is and is not. For example:

  • Love is NOT jealous, envious, or given to suspicions and assumptions.
  • Love is NOT bigoted, arrogant, or conceited.
  • Love is NOT self-centered but centers on God and others.


And yet, it does not matter what we do or how hard we work if we have no spirit of love behind our actions.

A charismatic sermon, an angelic voice, a prophetic gift, a brilliant mind, and huge donations do not matter! Even a strong, unwavering faith counts for nothing if there is no God-centered love at the core.

Love IS kind and caring.

Love IS respectful of all peoples, all life.

Love IS still around when everything else has failed or fled.

 

May God help us to pass on and on true love.

 

©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 28, 2021

Do unto Yourself as you do unto Others

 

This morning I commented on the pretty shade of yellow my husband was wearing, then added, “Good color on you too,” to which he immediately said something, well, smarty. Now the thing is, he hates it when I do that! He does NOT like for me to be dismissive of a compliment or give a negative response, so I told him:

“Hey! Do yourself what you want me to do!”

Beloved, we might be onto something here! As Christians, we’re keenly aware of the biblical command: Do unto others as you want others to do to/for/unto you. Even beyond that, Jesus took the Golden Rule further by asking us to treat others The Way He would treat them.

Jesus’  Platinum-Golden Rule can guide us deeply into a Christ-centered life.

With Christ at the very core of our being, we need to be aware that our Lord treated Himself with respect (John 8:49) and looked out for His own well-being as needed. For example, I found these relevant scriptures from a variety of translations on Bible Gateway, which I subsequently paraphrased:

They picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid Himself in the crowd and left the temple grounds, John 8:59.

At Jesus’ words, the people in the synagogue were filled with fury. They rose up, drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which the town was built, intending to toss Him down, but He passed through the midst of them and went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated blood – literally – over the mere thought of crucifixion. Three times, He pleaded with God the Father to find another way, but when He knew the time had come to offer Himself as the final blood-life sacrifice, He gave Himself over willingly – not to the demands of people, but to the will of God.

Why? As the Son of God and the son of Mary, only Jesus had the Personhood and power to become our Messiah and offer Himself in payment for our sin. Only Jesus had – or could have – that particular mission in life. Only Jesus had to endure crucifixion as the final offering for our sin.


Whether in word or deed, however, crucifying ourselves accomplishes nothing godly or good.


Sadly, we might not even realize we’re doing this. I’m reminded, for instance, of a friend who faithfully serves the Lord by selflessly serving others. Lately, though, she’s been concerned about her own health yet admitted she’d made no attempt to schedule the needed tests as soon as possible. I encouraged her to do so, but before I got downright rude about telling her what to do, I asked, “What would you want me to do, if the situation were reversed?” and she admitted she would give me the same advice.


We’re well aware that the Bible tells us to “Love our neighbors as ourselves,” but we might need to consider what that means in practical terms. If, for instance, 
we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others? If we’re unkind to ourselves, what chance do we have of being genuinely kind to other? If we have no love or respect for ourselves, how can we possibly show that to anyone else? 

In situations large or small, people often ask, “What would Jesus do?” but let’s also ask:

What would Jesus NEVER do?

Surely, Jesus would not willingly neglect Himself, abuse Himself, nor put Himself down!

Surely, Jesus would not let Himself be trampled nor hurled over a hill!

Surely our gracious Lord would not refuse a gift given in love – even if it’s nothing more than a broken vial of perfume or a sacrificial word of praise. Who knows? When Jesus appears in a bright yellow shirt of sunshine and glory, He might like to hear, “Oh, Lord, that color is perfect on You!”

 

©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler

 

 

May 26, 2021

Bible Reviewer: Amplified Holy Bible XL Edition

Bible Reviewer: Amplified Holy Bible XL Edition:   

Besides preferring the capitalization of pronouns that refer to God in the Amplified Bible, I appreciate the synonyms and definitions that amplify, without changing, the meaning of the text. This particular edition, however, appeals to me because of its 12.5 font, quality leathersoft binding, and unique size that’s almost 8” square and opens flat on my lap as I sit in my comfy chair and read, read, read.

May 21, 2021

Beyond Belief

 

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my friends, to agree in what you say, so that there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with only one thought and one purpose,” 1 Corinthians 1:9, Good News Translation.

Despite our diverse cultures, radically opposing beliefs, and personal preferences for how things are to be done, we are all to be One in Christ.

 

First, we believe:

Yes! God DOES mean what He says!

Yes! God the Father gave us Jesus the Son.

Yes, the Lord eradicates our wrongs and resuscitates us to a new life in Christ.

 

Then, we obey:

We find out what God wants.

We read the Bible. We talk to God and listen.

We invite God’s Holy Spirit to guide and empower us.

We use the ministry gifts and other resources we have been given to build up the Body of Christ.

 

Together, we do even more:

In Christ, we worship God and work with God’s Family.

We pray for discernment and wisdom, compassion and mercy.

We invite others into our ever-widening circle of God’s Love.

Together, we encircle the world with the good news of God’s Son.

We extend respect to all peoples, knowing we are all made in the image of God.

We focus on needs and goals we share, rather than our differences.

As God enables us, we make peace in the Name of Jesus.

                                   

©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler          

 

 

 

 


May 13, 2021

If only I had known


Long before text messaging reduced words to their first letters, writers and editors referred to a commonly over-used plot as IOIHK – “If only I had known.

Books, movies, stories, areas of miscommunication, and misspent lives have infamously fallen into the IOIHK category. But in this time of rampant misunderstanding between various peoples and traditions of faith, we poets, writers, pastors, teachers, parents, politicians, caregivers, and other leaders can be mindful of cultures, levels of maturity, and opinions unlike our own. 

Remember:

If Only I had Known often means we didn’t bother to find out!

The remedy, of course, is to check our emotions and check the facts.

  • Ask questions to clarify.
  • Listen – truly and intently.     
  • Aim to hear another perspective.
  • Research.
  • Investigate both sides.
  • Look for workable solutions.
  • Show respect.
  • Build bridges.
  • Embrace the blessing of diversity!

Can we do this on our own? Probably not! But we can agree to pray for God to help us to be open to other perspectives and peaceful possibilities for healing.

©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer


P.S. If you're writing a book or script, please be sure IOIHK is not the story plot!

 

April 30, 2021

I Sing Better With Him Behind

 

Has your voice ever slid off-key for lack of breath or unfamiliarity with a hymn? As our vocal chords age, it’s harder for most of us to hold a note or stay consistently in tune.

When our extended family members come back to Florida for the winter and early spring, I look forward to Henry’s return. As soon as I see him, I eagerly point to the seat behind me where I can hear his pleasing voice. Not only that, but my own voice instantly improves!

Who do you need to have your back?

What voice do you hope to hear?

What key verses keep you in tune with God’s Will?

 

Prayer: Loving Father, help us to hear You well as You speak to us through Your Word. Help us to stay on key with Your truth and love. Help us to sing Your praises this and every day in Jesus’ Name.

 

©2021, Mary Sayler

April 4, 2021

Poem for Easter

For You,

I turned water into wine, purified in the veins
of My own body. I climbed mountains, healed
crowds of hunger, warmed a leper’s skin. For
you I chastised leaders, halted stones, wrote on
the ground each word contained in Love.
I overturned unfair prices and low wages, tabled
discussions about who’s first or last, and enjoyed
the most unlikely company.
Before My execution, I tamed a donkey, became
your beast of burden, then bled from every pore.
Once for all, I buried death, and, when I arose,
some saw Me. Some heard Me as I broke through
the veil, cloaking time and eternity, and, yes,
for you, I’d do it all again.
Amen.

Mary Harwell Sayler from book A Gathering of Poems







April 1, 2021

Where are we on the Cross?


As we head toward Good Friday and the crucifixion of Jesus, the biblical command to “take up your cross and follow Christ” comes to mind. Sadly, we might think this means carrying heavy weights or generally being miserable throughout our lives when, actually, it’s the opposite!

Taking up our cross and following Christ is meant to be freeing, not burdensome. It’s meant to exchange our self-will for the will of God.

God gave us free will, so the decision to follow the Lord is ours to make. However, this doesn’t mean, literally, to take up our own crucifixion or other human sacrifice. As you’ll recall, the Bible consistently reminds us that God the Father prohibited human sacrifice as the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 clearly demonstrates.

The only time God the Father required a human sacrifice was of Himself in His fullness as Jesus the Son of God and the son of Mary.

So how do we go about obeying the Lord’s command to take up our cross and follow Him as a living sacrifice? Doesn't it mean to exchange our free will for the will of God and our old selves for new life – new spiritual birth in Christ?

Searching key words and phrases on the Bible Gateway website helps to clarify. For example:

We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin,” Romans 6:6, Amplified Bible (AMP.)

or to put it another way:

This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore,” Romans 6:6, Common English Bible (CEB.)

Crucifixion means death, but when we take up His cross as our cross, we can follow Christ Jesus into His resurrection life – His life in the Spirit – beginning now!

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20, King James Version (KJV.)

In other words:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20, New Living Translation (NLT.)

Therefore:

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:11, English Standard Version (ESV.)

Praise the Lord for His life, death, and resurrection in us!

May we wear our Lord’s Easter clothing as we follow Christ, now and forever, into the resurrected life.

 


March 10, 2021

You, The Chosen Race


No race but the human race in God’s eyes, but the Lord has much more in mind! Regardless of our skin color or cultural background, God has ordained us to be one: a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood, the people of God.

This hope – this prayer of the Almighty God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus – goes back thousands of years as these verses show:

“For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth,” Deuteronomy14:2, King James Version (KJV.)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9, Revised Standard Version (RSV.)

If you’ll click on the highlighted chapters and verses above, those hotlinks will take you to many, many translations of the same passages as shown on the Bible Gateway website, but, throughout the Bible, the same idea appears.

Maybe this time we’ll get it right! Maybe this time we’ll have ears to hear.

Maybe this time we’ll respond – not with excuses or emotions or bad memories or experiences but with our own choice to be chosen.

No longer are we to be “us” versus “them.” As Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” English Standard Version (ESV.)

What a colorfully diverse peoples God’s chosen race is meant to be!

Sometimes those differences may clash, but if we’re all praying for God’s guidance and prepared to let Him work for our good – the good of All of His Chosen Race and Peculiar People – we’ll see God orchestrate even our worse memories into melody and bring harmony from discord.

Praying and following biblical guidelines for good make us more receptive to God’s love and the love of others. As 1 John 4:7 says:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God,” Christian Standard Bible (CSB.)

What power we’ve been given to reveal God’s love to the world!

Born of God! No longer are we born into the DNA of racial tension or elitism over which we had no control, but – by our own choice – we can choose God’s Way over our own.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise,” Philippians 4:8, New Living Translation (NLT.)

 

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2021

 

March 9, 2021

Poetry Editor: Turning Point

Our country needs a volta!

This new post can help us to focus on what we most want to say in our poems, sermons, blog posts, and other writings.

For more, click the hotlink below:

Poetry Editor: Turning Point: In poetry, a volta means a turning point indicated by a change of thought, scene, emotion, or perspective. 


What did that compliment do to you?

  Assuming we have no ulterior motive, such as buttering up or trying to manipulate someone, a compliment can a lift a person’s spirits. How...