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Loving Discourse Lessens Discord

June 12th, 2018

Communication enables mutual understanding.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

My thoughts and comments today consider that, “loving discourse lessens discord.”   

Kind and sincere communication is a gift that we give to one another. Communication connects and unifies people. I love a simple, beautiful verse: “Grace is poured upon Your lips.” Psalm 45:2 NKJV. What would your life and relationships look like if grace poured from your lips? Loving discourse lessens discord. In contrast, our world is so torn because individuals persist in being right, however high the price is paid in their dearest relationships. Whether in a marriage, family, friendship, or church, the relationship is left the victim when loving communication breaks down.

Sadly and widely, both public and private discourse seem course today, evidencing less and less grace. Why do we choose dispute over concurrence? Conversations are essential for social interactions and profitable commerce. Communication enables effective collaboration to bring about mutually beneficial understandings. The interaction that communication requires is not optional. Sincere and meaningful communication offers significant benefits such as: proper discourse unifies people, decides purpose, defines progress, and produces greater achievements. Real community is possible only to the extent or limitation of real discussions.

Language is a gift, possessing the power to unite or divide us. A wise person considers their words. Words have potential for good or ill, can help or hurt, heal or wound, increase understanding or create confusion. Your words are always within your authority to speak or remain silent. Speak after forethought and prayerful reflection. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” Proverbs 15:1-2 NIV.

With clarity and authority, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Read Proverbs 4:20-24 NIV. Ask yourself, “Are my words honestly intended, edifying to others, and glorifying to God.”

With King David, we should pray from our heart that our words and thoughts would be these, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. And how can we keep our words and thoughts pleasing in the sight of God and others? Pray as David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV.

Today I pray for you to choose your words to always be both true and kind.

Christian Communications 2018

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The Power of Language

January 17th, 2018

Words mediate differences or exacerbate disagreements.

 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:6 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“the power of language.”

Language is vital for communication and coordination of common efforts. Without communication, many efforts would be futile, achievements minimal, relationships challenging, and misunderstandings numerous. We don’t think much about words, but we certainly use a lot of them. According to Google, a 2013 University of California study concluded that women speak an average of 20,000 words daily, compared to 7,000 words for men. Wisely, I resist endorsing an opinion on that statistic. Imagine what a more current study might include that included texting, Facebook posts, and other social media.

I would note that it matters what you say, and how you say it, more than how much you say. Verbiage and volume are not as important as veracity. Imagine the difficulty of our daily interactions without them, or a conversation when you could not understand another’s words because of language differences. Communication is important. Communication that edifies is essential.

Since you were very small you have been learning and using words while expanding your vocabulary. It is important that you consider the awesome, and sometimes awful, power of the words you speak and the potential effect they have on yourself and others for help or harm. “Words kill; words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Proverbs 18:21 MSG.

With words, you can heal a heart, or wound one. Words mediate differences or exacerbate disagreementsWords speak truth, or spread lies. Words can build friendships, or destroy trust between friends. Words can encourage or dishearten. Words can applaud others or criticize. What you may not realize is that when your words wound someone, your misuse also hurts you in ways you will not at first recognize. Choose them wisely. Speak them kindly.

As a child, I learned a simple rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But that isn’t really true, is it? Many of us bear the lasting imprint of words spoken long ago, whether for good or harm. Some are spoken by us; some were spoken to us. Uncharitable words can leave a hurt far deeper and remaining longer in the heart, but also in the one who speaks them. Careless words cheapen communication and lessen the creative power of your words for good at other times.

God’s feelings about this are clear. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.This should not be!” Read James 3:1-11 NIV. God views your words very seriously because He knows their power and potential for good or evil, for benefit or harm. God warns, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. . . men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Read Matthew 12:33-37 NIV.

Remember that with just a word God created all that we now see and know, and sustains all that He created in the same way. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:3 NIV. You and I certainly do not possess God’s creative power, but as you are made in His image, your words are much more than mere sounds spoken and forgotten. Your words hold seeds of life and blessing, carrying a greater, spiritual dynamic well beyond mere language.

Paul warned that God weighs your words. The gravity of that will cause you to pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV. Whatever your heart privately harbors will ultimately be exposed through your words. Here is practical, Godly advice. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to consider the power and potential of your words, for better or worse.

Christian Communications 2018-107
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Words Matter

February 17th, 2017

Words contain life and carry the seeds of creation

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight.” Psalm 19:14 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are that “words matter.”

My fourth-grade teacher taught me an appreciation and respect for words. My Dad taught me the responsibility of words. Words were important to my Dad. I recall his reminding me, “Allen, never speak words you don’t mean.That seems plain and simple enough. He practiced and believed that your words represent you and your good name, and insisted they be honest and honorable always and to all. If not already, you will learn that not all people mean what they say, say what they mean, or do what they say. That is unfortunate, but never let that be said of you.

Words are the essential currency of social interactions. Words are the necessary tool for ordinary communication, meaningful exchange of ideas, and the intended covenant of business and agreement. I have visited and ministered in countries where their native language is different from mine. Thankfully, I was accompanied by others who made me understood and helped me understand.

Words contain life and carry the seeds of creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3 NIV. The Creator spoke, and it was so. “We understand that the universe was created by God’s word.” Hebrews 11:3 TEV. Words have the power to heal or hurt, inspire or intimidate, inform or deceive, build or tear down. Solomon warned, “You must live with the consequences of everything you say. What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.” Proverbs 18:20-21 TEV.

 Your words are important to God. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. In unguarded moments and situations, your words will eventually reflect your true attitudes and thoughts. Know your heart. Guard your words. Paul urged that your words should not be, “foolish talk or coarse jokes.” Read Ephesians 5:3-4 NLT. Jesus’ words are sobering, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NIV.

Your words must be important to you. “Let your speech be always with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so you will know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:6. In those words, I see the picture of a mom carefully preparing supper for her family, tasting and seasoning as she cooks. Taste your words before you lend them a voice. Just in case you must eat them later. “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious . . A man of knowledge uses words with restraint.” Ecclesiastes 10:12/Proverbs 17:27 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to choose your words to be gentle and loving without need for regret.

Christian Communications 2017

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Life-giving Words

June 2nd, 2014

“The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.” John 6:33 NIV.

Wise is the one who realizes when enough has been said.

My thoughts and comments today are about “life-giving words.”

All of Creation began with a simple word. “God said, ‘Let there be . .  and there was . .“ See Genesis 1:1-3 NIV. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which were seen were not made of things which are visible . . In the beginning the Word already existed . . without Him nothing was made that was made.” Hebrews 11:3/John 1:1-3 NKJV.

Words are powerful. Words inspire great achievements. Words communicate much more than information. Words touch more deeply than the mind. Words penetrate deeper and endure longer. Words generate powerful emotions and actions. Using the example of a ship and its rudder, he wrote, “A tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong. So also is the tongue . .” James 3:4-5 NLT. “We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way.” James 3:2 NLT.

James wrestled with the complexity of words for good or bad, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10 NIV. With words, love is expressed; promises are made; hearts are healed; friends are restored, comfort is offered; but also, truth can be compromised; hearts are broken; misinformation is shared; accusations are made; blame is given; friendships are fractured; misunderstandings happen; wars are started. Words can enhearten or dishearten, affirm or accuse, and heal or wound.

Use your words well and wisely, but speak them always with truth and grace. ”Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 NKJV. See Psalm 55:21 NKJV. There is a time and place for truth or grace, usually best with both. Knowing the difference requires wisdom and sensitivity. Jesus voiced grace and understanding to sinners, but spoke straightforward truth to the self-righteous. Let this be your example: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” Psalm 6:63 NIV. Jesus’ words are life-giving. Let yours be life-giving as well. See Proverbs 16:23-24 NLT/Romans 14:19 NIV.

The Bible provides wise advice: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:6 NKJV. When I read Paul’s words, I see my Mom in her kitchen cooking. As she cooked, she would occasionally taste what she was preparing, savoring it momentarily and then adding what was lacking in the slightest measure. She tasted her cooking before she served her family or guests. That’s a good practice with your words. Wise is the one who realizes that sometimes, before much or anything is said, enough has been said. See Proverbs 17:28 NLT.

Here’s the practical, definitive answer: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O God, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that your conversation honors God and edifies others.

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Being Authentic

February 14th, 2014

“God blesses those whose hearts are pure.” Matthew 5:8 NLT.

Purity of heart is the greatest deterrent to the presence and progress of impurity.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being authentic.”

Purity does not come easily in a culture that too often denigrates what is pure and celebrates what is not. Impurity begins in the most subtle of ways, but grows incrementally with each unnoticed tolerance or indulgence. From our study of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we have considered Jesus’ teaching that an exemplary life is: “being real, compassionate, submissive, satisfied, and merciful.” Jesus had more to say. (6) “Being Authentic.” To those who zealously guard their inner life, God is revealed. “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 NLT. What obstructs your heart obscures God from sight.

Establishing and keeping a pure heart in today’s world is no small task; thankfully, that undertaking is not left to you alone. God gives you spiritual resources that are available and ample – the Word of God to instruct you, the love of God to enfold you, the Holy Spirit to empower you, and the fellowship of others to encourage you. The Bible says, “Pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully. Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.” Proverbs 4:21-22 NLT.

Purity begins in the heart, as does impurity. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. Impurity is not the inevitable byproduct of your environs; if that were so, there would be no one pure. From a Roman prison, Paul wrote of those forced to live and serve in the midst of the evil and debauchery of the Roman Emperor Nero, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.” Philippians 4:22 NKJV. An impure culture is no excuse for an impure life.

“Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled. Titus 1:15-16 NLT. Impurity simply fills the places left void of that which is pure. Purity commences, continues, and concludes with the condition of your heart. Read Mark 12:30 NLT. Purity of heart and mind is the greatest deterrent to the presence and progress of impurity. Read Luke 6:45 NIV. “Finally, brethren . . whatever things are pure . .  meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 NKJV.

Jesus’ severest rebuke was to the Pharisees, “You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence . . You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. .”  Matthew 23:25/28 NLT. Being pure means living with integrity, and without pretense. God is interested in internal matters rather than external manners. The purer your heart before God and man the clearer you see yourself and others as God sees. Read Psalm 15:1-2 NIV.

This is the prayer for purity: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me . . and see if there is any wicked way in me . .  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV/Psalm 19:14 NIV.  

My prayer for you today is that you live with authenticity before God and man.

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