The Power of a Single Word

Receive . . . Enjoy . . . Let go

Freighted with meanings and memories, associations and reflections far beyond their official definitions, words can be an invitation to pay attention.

Watch . . . Accept . . . Resist

Marilyn McEntyre has chosen fifteen words as the basis for fifteen weeks of daily meditations, as Word by Word, she challenges readers to let the word of the week become a focus for prayer and for biblical meditation.

Allow . . . Be still . . .Follow

There is a delight to discovering that “words may become little fountains of grace,” and Marilyn’s brief daily musings amplify the voice of the Spirit, sending me back to the Source.

Rejoice . . . Ask . . . Dare

For those who believingly follow Jesus Christ, meditation begins, not with an empty brain or a blank slate, but with revealed Truth.  Our use of language is a mark of the image of God, and the words we use are the basis of our communion with ourselves, with one another, and with God in prayer.

Leave . . . Welcome . . . and my favorite:  Listen

Word by Word reminded me again (I’m a slow learner) of the need to listen with humility and openness, to “notice what I notice,” which is sound advice indeed, especially in the pursuit of Spirit-breathed wisdom.

Throughout Scripture, the faithful found that the voice of God often emerged from the silence.  In this season of Advent, I find myself listening in to the four- hundred-year silence between the testaments, the pause that was broken by startling birth announcements and accompanied by angels.  John’s first epistle identifies this “manifestation” as The Word of life, a reminder that God’s ultimate self-expression and His message are so inextricably linked that they have been identified by a single term:  The Word.

Of course, it should be clearly understood that listening is a risky business, because the listener may be required to act upon what she hears.

Those who dare to engage in the counter-cultural practices of listening, pondering, and praying will find that it turns down the volume on this kingdom of noise and clears the deck for a habit of stillness and a continuing practice of listening — really listening — as we read Scripture in the manner in which it was given:  word by word.

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This book was provided by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

An Announcement for January

Most of us have a favorite C.S. Lewis book, whether it’s the incisive practical theology of Mere Christianity or the glorious story-telling found in The Chronicles of Narnia.  It turns out that C.S. Lewis’s favorite of all his books was Till We Have Faces.  One Lewis scholar calls it his “most subtle treatment of the relation between good and evil.”

Till We Have Faces is a novel, based on the mythical tale of Cupid and Psyche, and in it, Lewis explores themes such as the selfishness of human love, the limits of reason, the corrupting effects of self-will, and in Lewis’s own words, “the havoc a vocation or even a faith works on human life.”   I’m planning to lead a discussion group about the book starting in January, and am hoping that many of you will join me, so here’s a quick overview of the plan:

  1.  The pace will be leisurely at three chapters per week (about 30-ish pages), which will take us into the beginning of March.
  2. I will be posting weekly starting January 5 (Thursdays) with introductory material and a detailed reading schedule.  My hope is that the comments section here at Living Our Days will become a comfy living room where we can discuss our thoughts on the book.  If you blog, PLEASE plan to include a link to your post about the week’s reading so that we can all benefit from one another’s impressions with more detail than is possible in the comments.  If you don’t blog, no worries.  Just share your thoughts in connection with the weekly reading here, and be sure to visit and respond to others.

More details to follow!

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Michele Morin

I am a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. I have been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 27 years, and our four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Nonetheless, two teens still remain at home, and along with an incorrigible St. Bernard, we laugh, make messes, clean them up, and then start all over again. I love hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop me in my tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. I lament biblical illiteracy and advocate for the prudent use of "little minutes." I blog at Living Our Days because "the way I live my days will be, after all, the way I live my life." You can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

44 thoughts on “The Power of a Single Word”

  1. Michele, i love this post! Especially your closing words, “Those who dare to engage in the counter-cultural practices of listening, pondering, and praying will find that it turns down the volume on this kingdom of noise and clears the deck for a habit of stillness and a continuing practice of listening — really listening — as we read Scripture in the manner in which it was given: word by word.” i have found this to be so true as i ponder each word in Krista Hamrick’s beautiful print, Nativity Alphabet. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  2. Michele, this is a wonderful review. I found it especially interesting as I have been pondering and wondering what word should be my focus for 2017. The last paragraph of the review is so true. May we ponder each and every word God has written. Blessings to you today!

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  3. Thank you for this succinct yet encompassing review of a book I am now most interested in reading. I am glad to have discovered your blog as well and will be dropping in again soon. Have a blessed Advent and Christmas season.

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  4. Michele,
    I am a bit of a “word nerd”. I love delving into the original Greek and/or Hebrew root of words used in scripture. For me, it really makes the text come alive. Thank you for the reminder to engage and really listen when re read the Word. It’s amazing how it continues to speak to us/me.
    Blessings,
    Bev

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  5. How powerful! I often struggle with meditating on God’s truth because I get so easily distracted. But focusing on word by word is something I can do! I may just have to check out this book! So glad to be visiting from #GraceandTruth

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  6. Another book to add to my list, Michele. Thank you for the kind words you always leave when you visit. Thanks for sharing this review with Thankful Thursdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I, too, love your closing, “Those who dare to engage in the counter-cultural practices of listening, pondering, and praying will find that it turns down the volume on this kingdom of noise and clears the deck for a habit of stillness and a continuing practice of listening — really listening — as we read Scripture in the manner in which it was given: word by word.”

    I’ve always wanted to be counter-cultural! 🙂

    I do love the idea of dwelling on a single word concept. Word by Word sounds like my kind of study.

    Also, I love the idea of studying CS Lewis together. I have not read that particular book, and I hesitate to say I’m all in on the idea because lately I have been so overwhelmed with everything. Not sure I should promise to do the reading … BUT I do have two glorious weeks coming up where I will not be going into the office, so I’m going to pray about joining you. In any event, I will be more than glad to promote your study on my blog.

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    1. Reading slowly and pondering the words has helped me so much in my reading. And this concept of pondering a word a week is a good one. If you decide to read with us, of course you’d be welcome and even if you aren’t able to write blog posts about the book, you could share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks, Jerralea, for your encouragement. So happy that you have two weeks of vacation to look forward to. Is it the weeks of Christmas and New Years?? We’re not doing school during those weeks, and I’m SO looking forward to a break!

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  8. So much to ponder. I love words and these jump off of the page to remind me of the guiding lights spread everywhere in the Bible that can change our very lives, our walk with the Lord. Oh, how I desire to listen, to wait, to love, to enjoy. I must learn how through the Author of this one and only Book. Thanks for such blessings.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this Michele! Listening, I am afraid to admit, is the one thing I need to practice more. Just to sit and be quiet and “listen” to the Lord is something this extrovert has a hard time doing. I once had a teacher write on my report card to my parents that “Laura is here merely to socialize.” Oh, dear! I was a chatterbox then and still am today. Listening, being quiet or still is something I quite literally have to practice intentionally. And I am happy to say that when I do listen and practice being still, the Lord always has something to say!

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    1. Sorry, but I’m smiling about your teacher’s comment! You were probably a delightful little person. But you do have a point: when we make the effort to open our hearts and minds to the voice of God, He more than meets us there.

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  10. This caught my attention: “Of course, it should be clearly understood that listening is a risky business, because the listener may be required to act upon what she hears.” It’s not enough to listen; oftentimes action is required. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and this book.

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  11. Michele, I think words are fascinating. Taking time to ponder one each week intrigues me. And connecting these words back to the Word that became flesh, that sounds wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great review! I think LISTEN is a powerful word as well. Too often we don’t use our ears when people speak, but instead are just waiting for a minute when we can do all the talking. thanks

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