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Words of Life

We have been invited by our Abba Father to speak words of truth (life) into the lives of others and build them up.

By Rick Shallenberger, Editor

I recently heard a parent say to her child, ‘You are worthless. I asked you to do one little thing and you didn’t do it. You are just worthless.”

My heart sank as I know from personal experience the impact those words have on a child.

I’m going to share a bit, not to make you feel sorry for me, but to show you the power of the lies many hear in school, home, church, and in sports, and compare that to the amazing truth God shares with us.

I grew up being constantly told I wasn’t worth much, I wouldn’t amount to much, I had no real value. I was told no one would want to marry me, I was difficult to love, and a host of other negative things that impacted a multitude of behaviors. I was constantly seeking attention and affirmation. If one method didn’t work, I’d try another. Over the years, I found that humor and sarcasm always got a laugh, and I focused on making people laugh. This meant I often made inappropriate comments at inappropriate times just to get a laugh.

This was recognized while I was in college, and several church leaders told me I would never be in ministry or leadership. This crushed me because it had been my dream for years.

Add to these negative statements what I believed I was hearing at church. I had to earn God’s love; I had to work to receive his acceptance. I was a worthless worm, and unless I sought God, I would end up burning up in a lake of fire – our way of saying hell. Every week I heard a sermon that would focus on something I needed to overcome in order to be right with God. I looked at the book of life as a list of my failures and my successes, my sins, and my good works, and I just hoped one side would outweigh the other. I went to church because I was afraid to fall further out of God’s favor; I was afraid to disobey. I knew the consequences – banishment from God’s love. (His love and his banishment were dichotomies I struggled with.)

Before you start to believe my life was always negative, God placed several along the way who spoke truth into my life. Men and women who saw something different and invested in me. I thank God for people like Dean Blackwell, who asked me to be a ministerial trainee the summer between my junior and senior year of college. Ron Howe, my first pastor after graduating from college, gave me numerous leadership opportunities such as coaching girls’ volleyball, and asking me to be the president of our Graduate Spokesman Club. Herman Hoeh, Dexter Faulkner, and Sheila Graham taught me how to write and edit. God used these people and others to speak life and truth into me and helped me reach greater potential than I ever imagined. Looking back, I find it fascinating that for years, I allowed the negative comments to have far more weight in my heart and mind than the positive comments.

This teaching that we are nothing is everywhere. Many of you have seen the picture that shows the sun and the planets. There is often a circle around how small and insignificant the earth is in comparison to the sun and other planets. Rather than the statement, “And God chose us as his masterpiece,” the intent of the comparison is to make us feel small, insignificant. In fact, many scientists and philosophers will make the statement, we are nothing. We just happened. It’s just luck that we are here. We aren’t special, we aren’t chosen, we aren’t part of any master plan. We just happened.

And many believe this.

Imagine someone telling your child, or your grandchild, that they don’t matter, that they aren’t valuable, that they aren’t worthy of your love, your devotion, that they must earn your love. Woe to anyone who would say that to someone you love and adore and are willing to die for.

And yet, that’s the message many believe they hear from the church, because that’s the message many in the church teach and preach. And I don’t believe that pleases our Abba.

I believe God has called us to speak truth into people’s lives. Just like those I listed spoke truth into me, we are to speak truth into others. We need to break through the lies that many – including most believers – hold to be true. Here are a few of those lies.

  • We are nothing – the earth is nothing. NO!!! God created the sun, moon, and stars for the earth, for this planet which is part of his master plan. All of it was created for you to be part of his eternal family.
  • I have to earn God’s love. NO!!! He loved you and chose you before the foundation of the earth. He sent his Son because of his love for you. He loved us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
  • It’s hard work to remain in God’s love. NO!!! Nothing can separate you from the love of God – nothing up, down, left, right, North, South, East, or West. You are in his favor. (Romans 8:38-40)
  • I am a sinner. NO!!! I WAS a sinner; now God calls me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yes, I still sin, but it’s not my identity. I no longer need to walk in guilt and shame, but in confidence in my identity as a child of Abba.
  • When I sin, God turns and walks away. NO!!! “He is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will never leave or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 23, Matthew 28:20)
  • There are too many rules to keep track of. NO!!! Jesus, God in the flesh, wrapped up the law in his discourse with the disciples when he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) True love covers all.
  • I will never be good enough. NO!!! It’s not about how good you are, it’s about how good he is. He is good enough, and you are being transformed into his image. (2 Corinthians 3:18, Galatians 2:20, 1 John 3:2)

Friends, let’s acknowledge that many are living in the lies spread by the prince of the power of the air. But we know the truth. Let’s speak truth to one another and to all God places in our path.

You are worthy, you are forgiven and accepted, you are the beloved, so be loved … and remind others they are already loved. Let’s be among those who show God’s goodness. Let’s be among those who remind themselves God created them because he loves them, and because he created them, they are already worthy of his love. Let’s be among those who believe and share the good news of God’s kingdom, which he is building for them.

Let’s be lights of the truth of his goodness.


3 thoughts on “Words of Life”

  1. Rick, thanks for sharing the negative while building up the positive. Yes, all of us have been hit with various hurtful words and experiences. But you point us to the love and acceptance of God as He make us all into new creations. Wonderful!

  2. Rick, thank you for sharing. It hurts my heart that you endured such abuse. I can’t imagine why people can talk that way to children or adults for that matter! We all are grateful for the man you are and the example you set for us. You are respected and loved brother! Thank you!

  3. Rick,
    Much appreciate the willingness „to open up your heart“ in such a personal way. Your esperience and comments is shared by many, myself included. While at AC I was never given an opportunity to serve in any „student leadersip“ position. Was never given the opportunity to serve in any projects. By the grace of God, years later, and seemingly against all odds, I was privileged to serve as an elder, pastor, Festival Coordinator, National Director, and European Mission Developer.

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