The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Viewing by month: February 2012


Impeccable : free from fault or blame: FLAWLESS


For some reason, I like the way “impeccable” sounds and feels when it rolls off of my tongue. In my mind, it’s just a strong word, not only in the way that it’s pronounced, but in what it means.


Want some other meanings for impeccable?


absolute, faultless, flawless, ideal, immaculate, indefectible, irreproachable, unblemished


You don’t really hear impeccable used that often, because the word sets such a lofty standard of excellence. For instance, you might say that a child has impeccable manners, or that a woman’s use of the English language is impeccable, or that a man is an impeccable dresser, but does that mean that any or all of them are truly impeccable? Hardly.


I have to tell you that while I don’t believe that perfection is attainable, that the thought of it doesn’t keep me up at night, and that I don’t have a problem with not being impeccable, there is one area of my life in which I try to be impeccable and always seem to fall short, but that doesn’t keep me from trying because it’ll make me a better person. Whew!


The first agreement.


A couple of years ago my friend Britta suggested that I read The Four Agreements, a book written by Don Miguel Ruiz, a shamanistic teacher and healer. While I may not agree with all of Mr. Ruiz’s beliefs, I certainly agree with the four agreements that he lays out in his very short but impactful book.


The second, third, and fourth agreements are, in order, to avoid taking things personally, to refrain from making assumptions, and to give your best in everything that you do. I’m proud and grateful to say that with God’s help, I’ve made great strides in each of these areas. Now I’m not saying that I’ve mastered them, but I can honestly say that they’re no longer major hurdles in my life.


It’s Don Miguel’s first agreement that has proven to be my biggest challenge. I’ve put a lot of thought into why this particular agreement has given me fits, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are actually two reasons for it:


·         The first agreement is a broad stroke of the brush; that is to say, it touches so many my areas of my life, including my relationship with God, with others, and with me.


·         The first agreement deals with the spoken word.


The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip against others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.


To be impeccacle with my word. To be faultless, unblemished, absolute, and irreproachable. To be flawless.


I guess the first thing that comes to mind would be always telling the truth, and quite honestly, I don’t have a problem with being truthful. I’m probably one of the most transparent people that you’ll ever meet, and that transparency has ruffled a few feathers in the last couple of years. I just can’t bring myself to lie to someone, regardless of the consequences of being absolutely truthful.


From where I’m standin’, being impeccable with my word is, using Southern slang, “a whole lot more” than just telling the truth. In fact, being impeccable with my word is so far-reaching that I’m not exactly sure where to begin…




I used to make promises to God. Come to think of it, I think that saying that I used to try to make deals with God would be a bit more accurate. I’d promise to go to church every week if He would answer a certain prayer. (He did. I didn’t.) I promised to live a certain way or give up a bad habit if He would make something happen. (He did. I didn’t.) I promised that I would turn my life around if He’d get me out of a certain financial situation that I was in years ago. (He did. I didn’t.)


Looking back on it now, I realize that while God was faithful in answering my prayers, I wasn’t very good at living up to my promises; not very good at all. I was anything but impeccable with my word to God.


And today? I don’t make promises to God anymore. I make commitments to Him; to offer each day to Him, to make each day count, to take advantage of every opportunity that He gives me to reach out to someone, and to be the ultimate Christian. (Still haven’t quite figured out exactly what that looks like, but I don’t have to.) I make these commitments with no strings attached. Oh, I still offer prayers to Him every day, for myself and for others, but they’re completely independent of my commitments to Him. If and when He answers my prayers has nothing to do with my walk with Him.




I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when we come into this world we don’t know words of condemnation, prejudice, hate, or degradation. We don’t know curse words. We don’t know any negative words at all. From the day that we’re born, words, both positive and negative, are funneled into our minds. For some reason or another, it’s the negative ones that seem to have the most impact.


We listen to the negative words of other people that are directed towards us. We listen to the negative words of other people that are directed towards other people. We read them in books, watch them being spoken in movies and on television, and hear them in some of our music choices. We file these words away in our memory banks, and then we haul them out when we need them.




What’s my definition of being impeccable with my word to others? It means that I’m always truthful. It means that I can’t gossip, slander, ridicule, or belittle someone. It means being a man of my word, following through with what I say that I’m going to do. It means speaking life and encouragement into others, and never planting seeds of doubt in them with my words. It means not lashing out in anger. It means always lifting others up, and never tearing them down. It means that there’s no room for prejudice, envy, hatred, or condemnation in my words. It means that I take the time to measure all of my words that I have for others before they leave my mouth; all of them.




I’ve come to the conclusion that for the majority of my life, or at least until four or five years ago, I’ve been my own worst enemy. You see, I took many of those negative words to form thoughts that I used against myself. I put limitations on myself. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough, or worthy enough, or smart enough, or talented enough, or lucky enough, or whatever enough. I assured myself that I wasn’t going to be successful at doing something before I even took the first step.


Amazing… Using my own words and thoughts, I planted seeds of defeat in my mind for everything that I did. Everything. Looking back now, it’s a wonder that I accomplished anything.


That was then. This is now.


What does being impeccable with my word for me look like to me today?


No words of condemnation. No words of unworthiness. No beating myself up with my words. No giving up on the goals that I set for myself. Proclaiming myself to be a righteous man, and living up to it. No cursing. (Not only because it’s offensive to God and to others, but because it offends me.) No words of limitations; no more focusing on what I can’t do, but on what I can do….


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV


I wear an iCAN bracelet on my wrist each day to serve as a reminder of Paul’s words to us. I recite the verse out loud, because I want my ears to hear my proclamation that I can do all things through Christ.


So, all things considered, am I impeccable with my word?


No I’m not. But I’m working on it.



Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 02/29/2012 at 6:56 AM | Categories: Life -

A sower of seeds.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32


Have you ever seen a mustard seed? They’re tiny things.  The smallest is about 1mm, which is about a fourth of the size of a BB. What’s that? You’ve never seen a BB? Okay, the smallest of mustard seeds is 1/32 of an inch. If you can’t visualize 1/32 of an inch, and you don’t want to go through the trouble of checking a ruler, just rest assured that the seed isn’t very big at all. You okay with that? Good, then let’s move on.


In his parable, Jesus uses the tiny mustard seed to describe the kingdom of God, which at first glance doesn’t seem to be a good fit at all. After all, the mustard seed is so small, but God’s Kingdom? Wouldn’t you agree that it’s anything but small?


Perhaps Jesus drew his analogy from, not only the size of the mustard seed, but from the size and the strength of the shrub that the small seed becomes.


Still, what does one small seed have in common with the kingdom of God?


Let’s start with the mustard seed itself. It’s either planted in or falls on fertile soil, where it germinates for some time, before it sprouts and begins to take root in the ground as the plant itself bursts through the top layer of soil and begins to grow. As Jesus said, that small plant becomes the largest of all garden plants, offering even the birds of the air protective shade from the heat of the sun.


Okay, let’s take a look at God’s Kingdom. What is its origin? Does it grow from a seed? If it is a seed, then who plants it? And what happens to it?


The answer to one of these questions is found in Matthew 28:19.


“Therefore, go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,”


In essence, what Jesus is telling us is that as Disciples of Christ, we are to go out and “sow seeds” for the Kingdom of God. What kind of seeds?


Well, these seeds aren’t tangible; you can’t see or touch them, but ironically enough, they do carry weight. The seeds we’re talking about here are our words and thoughts about God and Christianity that we pass along to others.


You are called to plant a tiny seed of hope in the hearts and minds of all that you meet. It is the hope of God’s Promises, the hope of His Word, the hope of His Son, the hope of Salvation, the hope of being filled with His Spirit, and the hope of a new life when we’re born in Him.


God has equipped you to be a sower of seeds, to help grow His Kingdom. At some point in your life, someone took the time to plant a seed in you. Look at what it has become, at what you have become. Don’t you want to do the same for someone else?



Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 02/23/2012 at 2:26 PM | Categories: Faith - Life -


Fear may be defined as “being afraid or apprehensive of a person, place, thing, or situation.” Fear is also associated with the unknown. Fear paralyzes us, distorts the truth, prevents us from living out God’s purpose for us, and in many cases, ruins our lives.


We’re told in Proverbs 1:7 that Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. It’s true; fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, but in our walk with the Lord, that’s as far as fear goes. You see, fear is not of the Lord. God didn’t create us to walk with a spirit of fear, but with boldness, especially when it comes to our faith in Him.


First, let’s define the source of fear that’s the topic of this post.


If you’re staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel or sitting in an automobile that’s veered off of the road and is teetering on the edge of a cliff, it would be quite natural for you to scared stiff. In fact, I’d question your sanity if you weren’t fearful in those situations!


The fears that I’m focusing on here are the subtle fears that sneak their way into our minds. I’m talking about fears concerning finances, careers, relationships, health issues, and especially in the area of personal growth. We’re afraid to try, afraid to speak, afraid to share, afraid to love, afraid to live, and afraid to dream. We’re afraid to unload the burdens that we’re carrying on the inside with anyone, even though they’re eating away at us like a cancer.


Fear is not of the Lord. Fear is of the enemy, and it’s the most powerful and most often used tool in his arsenal.


You don’t have to walk with fear, you know. There’s a solution for fear, and it’s readily available, and it works. What is it?


It is prayer, coupled with belief.


David writes in Psalm 34:4:


I sought the LORD and he answered me;

       he delivered me from all my fears.


What’s that? You’re thinking, “Oh sure David. That’s easy for you to say, but I’m not you. I’ve been praying as hard as I can, but I have as much fear today as I had six months ago.”


Okay, how about believing the Word of God?


“You will call on me and pray to me and I will listen to you. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…“and I will bring you back from the place to which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:14


Walking in fear is a state of exile, because fear separates us from God. When our fears have consumed us, and we’re at wits end, what we must do is turn to God and call out to Him.


Calling out…


I have to mention something here about the concept of calling out to God. If you arrived at your home to find out that it was on fire, would you calmly call 911 and ask for help in a meek and timid voice? Of course you wouldn’t. I don’t know about you, but I’m quite sure that I’d be anything but meek and timid. My voice would be filled with a sense of urgency, and I’d pleading for help, almost demanding it, with the expectancy that it was on the way.


So why is it that when we’re troubled by fear, anger, guilt, shame, doubt, unworthiness, or insecurity, and our lives seem to be going up in flames, that we call out to God in a whisper? Oh, I’m sure that there’s a sense of urgency, and we plead for help, but the expectancy is often missing, and so is the calling out!!!




The source of many of our fears is the result of a lack of clarity. If we only had clarity, then we’d know the right choices to make and when to make them, right?


But get this: We’re not going to get clarity from God on anything until our fears are gone. You see, fear blinds our eyes, closes our ears, and muddles our minds. If you’re frozen by fear, God can’t help you even if He’s standing right in front of you! (No, I haven’t forgotten that He’s in us too.)


Ask God to remove the chains of fear, with the belief that He not only can, but will. And look. Don’t get discouraged if the fear isn’t gone the next day. Just keep asking Him to take it off of you, day after day, night after night, and prayer after prayer.


It’ll happen. That cancerous, paralyzing, life-robbing fear will be gone, and when it does, your life, and the way you live it, will never be the same.




Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 02/14/2012 at 3:39 PM | Categories: Life - Faith -


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