In Praise of Cursive Writing

Back in the days of quill pens and ink wells, Charles Dickens began his writing career first as a court stenographer and then a reporter on the daily activities of the English Parliament. Maybe the interesting array of the names of his characters arose from the parade of plaintiffs and lawyers he met while scratching away with his pen. In our age of word processing, when most of us barely recall typing, much less cursive writing, it is hard to imagine Leo Tolstoy penning over 1,000 pages of War and Peace or Shakespeare churning out 38 plays and hundreds of sonnets.

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And yet, we call ourselves writers, with a winsome nod to the true writing of a past filled with ink splotched pages and crossed out lines. But there in that disorderly process, there lived a richness of creativity with circles and arrows, side-by-side with doodles and fanciful drawings in our margins. It was a pace when the work of writing dragged on far slower than racing minds, and allowed us to slowly consider our words as they scrawled out on the page. Without the ability to click “send” or “publish now” we possessed an extended moment between imagination and reality and a slower time that worked as a wonderful assistant. It was a time that God granted a holy pasue, so that we could sift through our thoughts and remember that our words have power.

Before God said, “Let there be light!” He had had an eternity to consider what he would do in creation and the exact order in which He would do it in. So, when He spoke those first words – immediately it was so! He has called us to be writers, in His likeness though we are deeply flawed often filled with a mixture of confusion and faith. So, we should be thankful for interruptions, for scratched out lines and the constructive criticisms of friends. In that space between our words, we can reconsider our message and imagine whether others will be encouraged or insulted, stirred to action or lulled to sleep and more importantly we can listen. For if our writing is to be His message for others, then we must hear the whispers of the Word who became flesh at Bethlehem and wonder what He would have us to write today!

Fresh Daily Bread

Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 KJV

On cold Winter mornings when it was too dark to go to our job site, it was the perfect time to stop at Abe’s Bakery. Pushing open its doors unleashed the fragrance of fresh baked hard rolls mingled with the aroma of coffee. We quickly ordered, poured our coffee and headed out to the truck. There we hungrily devoured those rolls with butter still dripping from their edges, feeling richer than anyone else on earth. Abe’s fresh baked rolls, always remind me of the daily bread that Jesus taught us to pray for.

First, just as at Abe’s it pays to show up early to get the freshest rolls. If we just dive into our morning and then sometime later ask God for help, He still gives it but when we eagerly push open His door early, He treats us to the aroma of daily bread straight from Heaven’s oven! Secondly, no one on earth can give us anything better than what God has provided, so we should be thankful. Wishing we had what others have, only takes away the joy of receiving exactly what God has prepared. Lastly, just as we never worried if Abe would be making fresh rolls the next morning, Jesus wants us to know that when we pray that we can trust Him to give us His daily bread, new every morning and fresh every day!

Remember the Words

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 ESV

When our boys were small, my wife, would often say to them, “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” She did that because she knew that the difference between them hearing and really listening. Just like millions of other boys before them, our sons were hoping she would just finish what she was saying so that they could get back to what they were doing. But Nancy, bless her heart, was way ahead of them because she knew something they didn’t. She had been a kid once and had tried the same thing! She knew that until they looked her in the eyes, that their minds were too busy to pay attention.

In that same way, when Paul was giving his final instructions to the leaders of the church he wants them to listen and focus on the words of Jesus. Note that Paul does not say, remember me, nor does he tell them to travel to holy places or keep special artifacts. He knew that the only thing that would carry them through difficult times and give life to the growing church was the words of Jesus Christ. But what is it about those words of Jesus that makes them so powerful?

If we go back to the book Psalms, King David tells us that He loves God’s words because they are the sweetest thing in life. They are not dry and tasteless like fast food. They are the gourmet delights of heaven! How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Secondly, the words of Jesus are important because they are different than the billions of words that have been spoken, printed or recorded in the memories of computers. The words of Jesus are more than just ink on a page or a digital fingerprint on hard drive because they have spiritual meaning and life giving power -the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63. We will only understand them if as my wife told our sons, we look Jesus in the eyes as He is talking to us.

Last of all the words of Jesus are eternal and unchanging. We can count on them every day of our lives. That same persistence that Nancy used when she made the boys look at her as she was talking, she also put into practice when she checked if they had done what she had told them. “Mom can we go out and play?” they would ask. Her answer was always the same, “Did you clean your room like I said?’ One day Jesus is coming back and He will not ask us how many times we have been to church or how much we gave to the poor. What Jesus will ask is if we have kept the words that He gave us

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Luke 21:33

The words of Jesus are sweeter than honey. The words of Jesus give us power and life. The words of Jesus Christ will remain standing when heaven and earth will pass away. What better reason could we have than that to remember his words today?