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Monday, August 1, 2011

Four Words Each Day

Today I’m reading Mark 10:21 (you should read the whole story of the rich young ruler who comes to Christ thinking he’s got it all together) Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

I’m experiencing “re-entry” having just returned from my vacation. So, while my brain tries to readjust to real life, I found a book to help me focus this week’s blog. I discovered it at the Norwich Book Store in Norwich, Vermont. The book’s entitled “four word self help” by Patti Digh; and though most of it looks like pretty light-weight New Age aphorisms, I really like the way she puts together four words phrases that can be a springboard to personal reflection. I’ll use some of her four word phrases the rest of this week.

But today – just think about it for a minute. There are lots of great four word phrases in the movies.

“Do you feel lucky?” (Dirty Harry)
“Hasta la vista, baby.” (The Terminator)
“Play it again, Sam.” (Casablanca)

Sure, there are great three word, two word and one word phrases – but the four word phrases have a real rhythm in the English language.

Today’s passage from Mark 10:21 has my favorite four word phrase from Jesus. “One thing you lack.” There were probably a hundred different things Jesus could have said to the rich young man who approached Him in all his hubris. But Jesus was a great simplifier. He knew how to boil things down to the essentials. He knew the kink in the young man’s armor. The young man wasn’t prepared for these simple words from Jesus.

I often wonder, if that was me with whom Jesus was speaking, what would follow that four word attention grabber? Would it be the same challenge about money? Would it be something about pride, or ambition, or lust, or greed, or…what? What is it I lack? What's my pressure point? My blind spot?

What would Jesus say to you? Where would he direct the laser beam of his challenge? How would he boil down your life to its most basic ingredient? What’s the ‘one thing’ between you and God right now? Don’t make your spiritual life so complicated. One thing.

And remember, as you think about what Jesus might say to you…remember to re-read the phrase that Mark records prior to Jesus speaking. Mark writes of Jesus’ internal world: Jesus looked at him and loved him.

This is your Savior you’re dealing with, and He knows better than you who you are, and He loves you through and through.

Pray very simply today:
Our Father in heaven,
 Reveal who you are.

Set the world right;
 Do what’s best— as above, so below.

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

You’re in charge!
 You can do anything you want!

You’re ablaze in beauty!
 Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:5-13 from “The Message)


P.S. Think of your favorite 4 word movie or book phrases and send them to me!


  1. Donna's 4 word phrase: "Tomorrow is another day." (Gone with the Wind)

  2. An anonymous 4 word suggestion from "Revenge of the Pink Panther"
    "Does your dog bite?" And after he's bitten followed by: "That's not my dog.