“A single word can make a lot of difference. In Isaiah 61: 3, the world instead is repeated three times. Its repetition makes the difference between a life of gloom and a life of  joy. . . Instead is a word of exchange” (Eugene Peterson in As Kingfishers Catch Fire).

 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me . . . .  God  sent me . . . . to  give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. (Is. 61-1-3; MSG)

As apprentices of Jesus we are called to help others leave a life of gloom for a life of joy Here are some “insteads” we can offer our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our country. Can you think of others?

♥   encouraging words instead of harsh criticism

♥   clarity instead of  confusion

♥   joy instead of gloom

♥   truth instead of clever, insidious lies

♥  support instead of backstabbing

♥  calmness and serenity instead of chaos and turmoil

♥  integrity and honor instead of corruption and deception

♥  graciousness and mercy instead of revenge and vindictiveness

♥  peace and tranquility instead of agitation and distress

♥  love and forgiveness instead of  loathing  and confrontation

In 1976, theologian Francis A. Schaeffer wrote a seminal book with a penetrating question as its title: How Should We Then We Live? In 2004, Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey  updated this concept  with the book, How Now Shall We Live? In 2018, Christ-followers are challenged more than ever to write our own books – with lives that bring light to the moral morass that surrounds us instead of withering in the destructive darkness. 

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