Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fighting with a Dead Writer and Conceding Defeat


I've been fighting with a dead writer for weeks. I'm not only worn out, I'm conceding defeat. Sorta.

I loved writing the Hosea study. Tons of history and centuries of political turmoil to explain. Lovely literary techniques to tease out. Beautiful allegory. Stunning truth. 

James is an entirely different kind of writer. As plain as cornbread. As tough as shoe leather.

I wanted the James study to be beautiful, too, but it's not that kind of book. 

I realized last night that the entire book of James can be boiled down to one sentence. "If you want your prayers answered, get over yourself and quit sinning."

There's no way to make that message beautiful. Beauty would be a distraction in the midst of this simple truth.

What I've written is lean. Clean. Different from my usual. It feels a little like I've gone "off brand." I haven't.

James demands that we look at our lives and deal with our sin. It's that simple. The study I've written is that simple, too. "Straightforward," one young man called it.

I've complained about James until I'm sick of myself. I've whined that I was struggling until every one around me is sick of me, too. I've rewritten so many sections that I can't tell if I've saved the best parts or not.

Finally, I'm surrendering to James. His words have defeated me, and I've needed the beating I've taken. He's hammered my pride, my self-righteousness, and my sense of entitlement, as well as all the other sins I have, until it's a wonder I have any sin left. But I do.

If I finish writing the last fifteen days of lessons before Sunday, it will go up as one entire document. If not, it will be two. It's that simple.

I've hated James most days of this writing cycle. Today, I'm choosing to love him, his plain truth, and his simple words. His clean lines are beautiful in the way of a well-constructed Shaker chest. 

The truth he shares is easy to understand. Too easy. 

James writes in such a simple style that there's no way to misunderstand what he means. Tame your tongue. Swoosh. Just do it. 

I've never had this many days in a row where what I've written has left me in tears, caused me to repent, broken my heart over my own sin. It's been good for me. It's a perfect way to start a new year.

Whether you participate with the James study or not, grab hold of the central truth and let it soak through you. Convict you. Change you.

"If you want your prayers answered, get over yourself and quit sinning."

It's the way we, as disciples, were meant to live. Focused on Christ. Loving God. Loving others. Done with sin. Praying prayers that are answered. Make the change that changes everything.
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The James study will be available January 15th at www.lessonsindiscipleship.blogspot.com
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The Day Heaven Opened
If you'd like to help support this ministry, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841 If you'd rather use a check or money order, make it out to Global Outreach. Remember to put "Account 4841" on the "for" line. Mail it to: Global OutreachPO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802
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