Viewing entries tagged
God

The antidote to fear

The antidote to fear

I just learned that fear is a sign that you're not loving perfectly. And at first, that makes it seem like fear is inevitable. 

But the truth is, that's hopeful. Because it means that the antidote to fear is to do something you love.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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The Hand of a Writing God

The Hand of a Writing God

Writing is hard. Keeping at it can be exhausting. Remember where your personal strength comes from, and go there often. Mine is God. I hope yours is too. 

If you don't have a source of strength and courage, to help you write or to help you keep moving forward in any part of your life or career, talk to me. I'll introduce you to mine.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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"Be obedient for once"

“Be obedient for once.”

That was the phrase that popped into my head when I was just on the verge, just on the very edge, of doing something I knew I wasn’t supposed to do. In this case it was griping and complaining about someone I have often griped and complained about before. Previously, this phrase has popped into my brain for other chronic sins. It can be a real showstopper.

For the past few weeks I have been in full “learning what God wants from me” mode. I have prayed. I have read. I have prayed about what I read. And in all of that praying and reading (and some sharing with fellow Christians, including my patient and loving wife), I have started to notice that I’m becoming more aware of the problem. Me. I’m the problem. Big surprise.

I’ve already written about my trouble listening. It has been a recurring issue in my life, and I’m getting the message now that God doesn’t really approve of that. In fact, I’m pretty much getting the message that God wants me to actively change that little fault about myself. And to help nudge me along, He has started putting all kinds of stuff in my path. It seems that once you start listening for God, He actually has a whole lot to say, and you’re not going to be comfortable hearing all of it.

So every day, practically every minute of every day, I have an almost constant awareness of how I am thinking and acting. Whenever I do something that displeases God, He reminds me with a sudden burst of insight, which typically leads to me feeling guilty (or maybe convicted would be a better term?), and wanting to making amends.

That’s what has been happening every time I open my mouth to gripe about people or things that irritate me or annoy me or cause me to feel otherwise nonplussed. I start complaining, and I get into it just like I always have, tearing the non-present person a new one, and then … YAAARRRRGGGHHH! Guilt trip. Of my own creation, of course. I’m kind of thinking God doesn’t bother with sending you a guilt trip directly because He knows that if He just gently, quietly, firmly reminds you there will be a self-induced guilt trip on its way in now time. I can punish myself just fine, apparently.

Today, I’ve been on that trip several times. Throughout the day I have grumbled and mumbled, and started saying things to my fellow employees or to my friends or to my wife that I know, for a fact, I should not be saying. Before, when I would launch into these tirades, I hardly noticed. Yeah, eventually I would feel all tight in the chest and the back of the neck and across my brow. I might even feel a tinge guilty about being such a loudmouthed jerk. But for the most part the whole thing was automatic, and I hardly even noticed I was doing it.

This has changed.

Now, when I start complaining about people, places, things or circumstances, I almost immediately realize it. I’m aware of it, in a way that I’ve never been aware before. It hits like a sudden high wave in light surf. It sways me in my step.

And as I pay more attention to it, and as I obey God by putting a stop it when I realize this is what I’m doing, and I make some sort of amends in my effort to repent from it … well, wouldn’t you know, the “alert” just starts coming faster and faster. I’m thinking that eventually it’s going to pop up at the mere thought of complaining and griping.

That’s already starting to happen.

Today I had the opportunity to really dish about someone. I could have torn them to pieces in a series of text messages that I know, for a fact, would have been received with glee and laughter and maybe even applause. I could have used griping and complaining as a tool for bonding with a friend. We could have sneered and laughed together, just like old times.

“Be obedient for once.”

What? Wait … no! I mean … yeah, of course. Yeah. I’ll be obedient. For once.

And so I didn’t do it. I didn’t gripe. I didn’t complain. I didn’t dish.

That’s tough. In fact, it’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I’m so used to being able to just spew whatever vile thoughts are in my head. Years of training. Years of practice. But now, as I remember Proverbs 3:6 (In all your ways submit to [the Lord], and He will direct your path), I’m slowly starting to overcome that training. I’m slowly, achingly, painfully starting to realize that God actually means it when He says, “Be obedient.” Who knew?

Well, OK. Everyone but me.

The last time this happened, when the voice said, “Be obedient for once,” and I was, things changed. A sin I have indulged in nearly my whole life suddenly had less force. It hasn’t gone away entirely. It has crept back in once or twice. But it went from a daily sin to a “once or twice” sin overnight. I’d call that progress. I’m working on 100%.

I have a theory about this little voice. I think it’s the Holy Spirit. It’s like a support beam for my conscience. It is bolstering me, keeping me upright. Or offering me a chance to stand upright on my own.

It’s funny, because just by “being obedient for once” I have seen progress in my character. Such a small request. “Just this once, be obedient.” Not forever. Not every second. Just right now. And doing that, it has made all the difference.

So I’m sure I’ll still fail from time to time. I’ll fall back on old habits and old sins. But that voice … I will hear it again, I know. And when I do, I’ll obey. Just this once. What could it hurt?


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.








Listen

I recently came to the realization that I haven’t been listening.

I think my wife could probably give you reams of evidence to that effect, as could a few hundred teachers, professors, former bosses, fellow employees and maybe a tour guide or two. Listening and heeding have always been difficult for me.

But aside from my tendency toward selective spousal deafness, non-conformity and a general and ill-advised contempt for authority, I have other listening issues.  For starters, I haven’t been very good about listening to God. And He’s been practically screaming at me for 39 years, so you’d figure I would have gotten he message before now.

My relationship with God isn’t bad. But I say that in the same way someone might say that the grilled fish at a particular restaurant isn’t bad, or that the drive from Midtown to home isn’t bad, or that the new album by One Republic isn’t bad. These are all non-committal, flat statements. Was the fish delicious? Does the drive provide quality time on my way home from work? Do the lyrics on One Republic’s album speak to me and move me?

There’s a nuance to life, and to our relationship with God, that goes beyond this kind of flat acknowledgement of the relationship. To say “me and God are good” is too vague and wholly inadequate. And really, in the end, doesn’t that mean that we aren’t good at all?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been confronted with my relationship with God. What I always thought of as a nice, in-reserve relationship with occasional spiritual highlights has suddenly sprung upward in my levels of attention, and is demanding immediate care. A recent “long, dark night of the soul” has brought me to a new place in that relationship, and has caused me to rethink my role in God’s plan. And I’ve noticed, for the first time, that He has been sending me e-mails, text messages, smoke signals, skywriting, marquee signs, postcards and billboards for years now. I never got the message.

Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? I haven’t. Not really. I mean, I have had the same existential questioning in my heart that everyone has (I think … does everyone obsesses about this?), but I more or less reasoned that my purpose in life was whatever I ended up doing with my days. That’s unfortunate, because when you think that way you inevitably end up spending your days drifting drone-like from one “opportunity” to another.

“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”

“If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?”

If you have no goal you have no target.

So I’ve started wondering about my purpose in life, and that has caused all sorts of existential angst and spiritual longing. Which, I believe, is the exact opposite of the point that God is trying to make with me. I think the point comes down to this one, simple command:

“Just listen.”

Drat. Listening. My one weakness.

I’m the guy who goes on about everything. I’m the guy who recently learned that all those years ago, as I was helping my friend David and his grandfather Leroy with their side job of moving dirt at the cemetery, I was deemed to be a chatterbox. I would, apparently, just go on and on about anything and everything. I was a talker, and I was tolerated.

I’m the guy who loves to jump into any and every conversation with whatever bit of knowledge and wisdom I possess on the subject.

I’m the guy who likes speaking in public because it means people are listening to me … on purpose.

I’m the guy who loves to communicate. I talk, I write, I post status updates on every known social media network. I strain so hard to have my ideas heard that I forget, quite frequently, that there are other ideas to hear.

And maybe, unfortunately, some of those are ideas I just don’t want to hear. I don’t really want them in my brain, mucking about, causing worry and anxiety. So I shut them out quickly and move on. I substitute something else for them in the tape that runs in my memory. I choose to hear something that wasn’t said. Maybe. I’m not clear on that, because if it does happen then I’m clearly not paying attention, am I?

Listening is hard. I haven’t got a clue how to master it. I try to focus. I try to open my heart. I try to clear my mind. I try to remove all influence of my brain on the situation and just … listen.

I have no clue how to do this.

I know God is saying something. I can hear it, like snatches of shouted conversation competing with crowd noise. But I can’t keep my brain on it, apparently. I can’t force myself to strain to hear it.

It’s a real problem, and I haven’t yet come up with the best solution. So all I can think to do is to keep trying. I’ve started reading more in books and websites about God, Christ, God’s will for our lives and whatever else I can come up with. I’m reading guys like Max Lucado. I’m reading articles in Christianity Today. I’m attending church services for the first time in years, and I’m having open conversations with friends and family about God. Kara and I have a more open dialog about God today than at any other point in our marriage.

And yet …

I still don’t feel it. I still don’t know anything. I feel like I need some sort of sign, some sort of sure mark. But I think what I’m really looking for is a sign that I am being heard … which is kind of the opposite of listening.

Well, I don’t exactly know how to solve that yet, but I’ll work on it. Of course, I’m always open to advice. I’ll keep reading and looking. “Seek and ye shall find,” right? I’ll seek. So, by extension, I’ll find. And, in the meantime, if anyone has any advice for a terribly poor listener I am all ears.

Wow … I really just wrote that. 


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Tip in any amount you like, safely and securely via PayPal (no PayPal account requred). And thank you in advance for your generosity!


____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.