Words…One of God’s Gifts


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We take words and language so much for granted no matter what language we speak. How seldom we recognize what a unique tool God gave us when He created us in His image and gave us language? No other animal or thing He created was given this gift. How sad to think of our casual use of them oftentimes.


We generally don’t give words we speak a lot of thought. In our current culture words are used to slander, spit out hateful words, and blaspheme. They too often wound, tear down, divide, blame, and judge when they could heal, lift up, unite, encourage, and offer grace.


Have we forgotten that once we utter them they have the power to create good or evil?


Do we justify what words we use and how we use them because of someone else or something else? (You don’t need to answer that because I am sure we all are guilty of that from time-to-time.)


You may think I am giving words too much credit; but if we pause and recall that God PPP 013spoke the world and all He created (except man) by speaking it into existence, our perspective might be aligned more to the truth we conveniently forget.


Every significant transformative moment in biblical history was set in motion by words.


Jesus told his disciples to go out into the entire world and spread the gospel. How were they to do that?  By speaking and telling of all they had seen and heard of this man and God who had ascended into heaven leaving them to spread the good news.


“The Christian faith was designed to replicate itself, in part, through the act of speaking. Sacred words are containers that carry information about deep and often invisible realities. They help us describe, albeit imperfectly, what we believe. Words allow us to whisper encouragement over the God-loved, downtrodden, and we use them to pray and to preach and to praise. When we stop speaking God, the future of the Christian religion itself hangs in the balance.”  Jonathan Merritt


I believe those words of Jonathan’s are sound reminders we should not lose sight of. It can be easy to forget that words disappear from use regularly and that research shows that twenty-five languages cease to exist each year.


As our cultures have become more secular, more and more words that are reflective of our faith and are sacred are used less often. We are so concerned about offending someone that we neglect the truth that Jesus came to shake things up and awaken us. He came in the midst of the dominating powerful Roman Empire and his words brought hope to the beleaguered people who lived in that time. Do we not recognize that He left us to do likewise? Not by badgering or beating up people with the Word, but by speaking life-giving words that encourage and point to the gospel.



Why are as many as 7,000 churches closing their doors each year in America? Have we lost touch with what it means to speak life and hope without berating or taking divisive cultural or political positions? Do we remember we are to stay attached to the vine?


“When we speak God, we are not just voicing letters strung together in a certain order. We are handling containers of spiritual knowledge.” Jonathan Merritt


C.S. Lewis penned words that impact many today. He surely knew they had the power to transform not only language, but people and culture as well. He also knew that the meanings of words evolve.


Lewis wrote in Studies in Words, “As everyone knows, words constantly take on autumn-fall-forest-4700new meanings.”  He makes an analogy that the meanings of a words can be much like a tree growing and adding new branches as it does.


The Bible reminds us more than once or twice to be aware of the words we speak and how we speak them. Here are just a few places where such exhortation appears:


For whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”  1 Peter 3:10 (NIV)


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Colossians 4:6 (NIV)


“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”  Proverbs 15:4 (NIV)


“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:11 (NIV)


Might we all take heed to these words of Mother Teresa:


“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”

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Hidden Among the Stars



Stepping into the pages of Melanie Dobson’s new book release, Hidden Among the Stars, catches the reader up in the story line at the outset. Dobson is the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which was called “unforgettable” and a “must-read” by Publishers Weekly. This latest work, like Catching the Wind, is a time-slip novel you won’t want to put down.


Dobson’s writing draws the reader into the story with intriguing character development, historical context, and settings that go back and forth between the Magic Balloon Bookshop in Mount Vernon, Ohio, in the present day, and a picturesque village located at Lake Hallstatt, Austria, in 1938.


Dobson gives you a window into the rapid changes that occur in the beautiful idyllic settings in Austria as Germany (under Adolph Hitler) begins to take control of the country and then its people. Those glimpses will come through the eyes of Max Dornbach and his family living in a castle on an estate nestled next to the mountains; Annika, who takes care of the Dornbach estate along with her father and has been a childhood friend of Max; and Luzi Weiss, an accomplished violinist, whose Jewish heritage and family’s talents and gifts have been appreciated until events in 1938 begin to change everything.


In the Magic Balloon Bookshop in Mount Vernon, Ohio, you will get acquainted with Callie and her sister, Brie, who own this delightful bookshop more akin to lovely local bookshops of an earlier time. Callie reads books to children every Saturday dressed in costume as “The Story Girl” and delights in some of the used books they offer. Many times the used books contain something that belonged to the former owner and she loves trying to discover the owners to return those things whenever she can. But she is about to be enticed to go on the biggest treasure hunt of her life.


The two settings and story lines connect when Callie is given the gift of a first edition book of Bambi and discovers an inscription and writing inside that opens a possible adventure to discover what secrets might be unearthed. It will be the biggest treasure hunt of all if Callie can risk stepping out of her comfort zone of a quiet life in the bookshop. The secret coded messages in the old edition will connect her to Annika and Luzi and the possibility of how they might reveal the parents of her dear friend, Charlotte, who grew up in an orphanage in France just prior to the beginning of WW II.


I love a good story and this surely is one!  The backdrop Melanie Dobson paints of true information about what was happening in Austria in 1938 was of special interest to me as a lover of history. I look forward to reading more of her stories and couldn’t put this one down. She has quickly become my favorite fiction writer.


To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.