Exclamation mark faith!

thSo after the period, the comma and the question mark of faith, I think you can see where this is going. Certainly not to the colon; that only creates abdominal pain. And the semicolon is not much different since no one can agree on where and when you should use it. The ellipsis and the dash are all about personal preference which leaves us with — you guessed it — the exclamation mark. Though the exclamation mark is rarely used in formal writing, it is one of the most popular punctuations in handwriting used for emphasis. We use it to set off something we really mean. We use it to show excitement. And we use it to emphasize a point, sort of like a super-period.

As in: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes(!)’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Okay, I added it there, but it might as well be there. How can you not get excited about God’s promises being true in Christ! Jesus is the “Yes!” of God’s promises. The law is all about “No!” Christ is all about “Yes!”

Hope is the exclamation mark of faith. How else can you capture the fact that it is all true? Forgiveness, love and mercy are all ours.

Exclamation mark faith is alive. It is engaged. It is a life awake to the Holy Spirit. It is a Spirit-controlled life — life with an exclamation point.

My wife will tell you — because she has to live with me — that I don’t know very much about this exclamation mark faith. I’m too cerebral. I think too much. I’m only writing about this. It’s true. My exclamation point is on stage, and sometimes when I write, but most of the time it’s dullsville around me. I need help here, people. Don’t let me get away without this. Those of you with exclamation point faith, let me know how you do it. I need more “Yes!” and less “No!” in my life.

Join me here. Find your exclamation point in life. Get out of the doldrums. Christ has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Sounds like an exclamation mark to me!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11). And in my version of the Bible, that exclamation mark is really there.

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11 Responses to Exclamation mark faith!

  1. Well said, John! Although I too seem to need more exclamation mark faith in my life, at least lately, because all I seem to hear from God is no! Perhaps faith is also measure . . . in patience . . . and hope.

  2. Ron Heasley says:

    Isn’t this the problem with my most Christians as to why they lack an exclamation point kind of faith. We see it, hear it, & know that God has made it available to us all, yet we seldom let us a joy-filled & hope-filled promise get set that 12″ from our head to our heart. Perhaps the beginnings of such a transformation is to start “listening” with our “heart”!

  3. Mark S. says:

    I’m soooo glad that exclamation mark is there in Matthew 7:11 and i’ll add a big Amen!
    PS I pray brother John S. you do get more yes…

  4. lstrovas says:

    I can relate to the cerebral part John. I love thinking, asking questions and learning about something, including God. I also like solutions and plans and fixing things. You know, I’m one of those people who wants to change the world. But learning about him doesn’t necessarily lead to knowing him, so I asked God to teach me how to just be still and know him. And He did and it meant a long, dry, tortuous, Jobian (is that a word?) ordeal in which all my cerebral strength evaporated along with my solutions and plans, and wherein He confronted all my whining, self-pitying, sincerely agonized and seeking questions with His own questions, so all I was ultimately left with was this: He’s God, I’m not, but He loves me anyway, and the rest of it is all a big fat holy, ironic (sometimes hilarious) brilliantly, blinding mystery. And that’s about all I really know anymore. Oh, I know one more thing: I’m free, or free-er at any rate, and becoming more so every day, although I can’t really explain how. It has to do with my surrender where silence and stillness are the thresholds of our mutually loving gaze ad embrace and where, with tender brutality (or brutal tenderness?) He graciously straightens my question marks to exclamation points!

  5. Hans says:

    Hi John,

    As far as I know, the secret is a life of humble obedience, following Christ’s lead in “fear and trembling” (sounds dull?) – and then, when you least expect it, God will lift you up – but then you’d better ‘let go’ and not hold back!
    – “(…) the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32)
    – ” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
    Do you actually worship anywhere on a regular basis, I mean, are you a ‘member of the body’ at some church?
    I’m sure that’s where God’s power and grace work to the fullest (and not so much in the lives of isolated believers) – that is, if the Holy Spirit is given freedom at that church to flow, filling every need there may be among the members of the body there.
    One of my favorite passages:
    “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know (…) his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
    But note that Paul ends that chapter by saying:
    “(…) the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
    For a Spirit-filled life we need to worship at a Spirit-filled Church and go with the flow – trust God alone and NOT think too much (exclamation mark).
    What we want most, that’s what we are also most afraid of, I’m afraid. And what do we want most? Total freedom, that is, giving up all control to God – so that we can have “life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).
    And who is not afraid of giving up all control to God? But, as you know, He tells us (over and over again): “Do not fear”.
    Another thing we want deeply is to be part of a loving family of believers. But we’re afraid of that also, because we are ‘dysfunctional’ as far as relationships with people are concerned.
    And that is why love, patience, forgiveness and grace are so important within the body.
    Sorry for taking up so much space!
    Blessings, Hans.

  6. Robert d'Albenas says:

    A word of encouragement, John: I believe people have different “Faith Exclamation Marks”. Look at the picture you use … it has your guitar held tightly against your face, and unseen probably hugging your heart. (It is, after all, on the left side of your body.) And you admit that your exclamation mark is on stage. Good! God has made us all wonderfully different, and I doubt He wanted us all to have the same Exclamation Marks. What if everyone got really excited about preaching, and only preaching? We’d have no Bachs or Bethovens or Fischers to share their faith and God’s love through music, would we? I often feel that I don’t get “excited enough” in every area of my faith-life, similar to what you said. But then God reminds me that He doesn’t expect me to be fully “exclamation-marked” in everything I do, just in the areas He gave me the talents and abilities in. And I’m always trying to be humble enough to accept that.

    Oh, by the way, you also have a huge Exclamation Mark that you use in your writings, and I thank God for them. If that was all you ever did for Christ in this world, it would be enough for me, and probably enough for God as well (Big Exclamation Mark).

    Robert d’A.

    • jwfisch says:

      Okay. I accept this gladly, but there are other areas in my life that need exclamation marks right now. I might take issue with your statement about not having exclamation marks in every area of our lives. Well, why not, if we’re to be like Christ? At least it should be a goal — something to reach for. I’d be concerned that in accepting less in other areas of our lives, we are settling for no growth. There’s always room to grow.

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