Speech

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February 10

Thursday, February 10th, 2022

Over the past two weeks here at “Shadow” I have been posting some thoughts on Colossians.  This will be my last post from the book.

Yesterday I went to Methodist Hospital in Indy to visit a man who had a terrible accident at work this past Sunday. To enter the hospital you had to go through one of two kinds of doors, both automated. One was wide enough to walk through as well as for a wheelchair to go through. The other was like a carousel. It was constantly moving and you just had to get in the open space. That was fine except it was going so slow I felt like I was taking baby steps as I walked through it.

There are other ways to enter a building, like a house, for example. You can ring the doorbell and be let in or you can bust the door down. The former is the preferred method. 🙂

But way too often when it comes to telling the story of Jesus people want to bust the door down. That is not what Paul wanted. In Col. 4: 2-3 He encourages them to pray BUT to also ask God to open a door for the Word “so that they may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” No door-bashing, but an open door would be great! A further prayer is that he would be able to clearly present the truth. You can also tie in verses 5-6 to these verses:

  • Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders.
  • Have speech that is always with grace.

Presenting the Gospel in this day and age is a challenge. So many forces are pushing back. When we present the message of Jesus we must do it with winsomeness and grace, with a right attitude and heart, and with speech that is covered in grace.

Let’s pray for open doors and not break the door down. And when the opportunity comes, to approach the person with grace.

February 8

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Fear. Hatred. Lack of Forgiveness. Fear. Suspicion. Skepticism. Fear. Holding a grudge. Seeking revenge. Did I say fear?

Those are some of the emotions common to many folks, especially in our culture today. Wrong emotions toward people which are not dealt with.

But perhaps the one I see the most these days is fear. Fear was ramped up about 2 years when the COVID pandemic hit.  People were gripped with fear, living in fear so much that their daily life changed. Afraid to interact. Afraid to shake hands. Afraid to go out of their house. Afraid, it seemed, to even look in the mirror (slight exaggeration. Sorry couldn’t resist).

Sadly, even those who quoted 2 Timothy 1:7- “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline” lived and still live in fear. Call me skeptical but that smacks of hypocrisy.

So…how do we break free? Colossians 3:1-2 tells us: “Therefore…keep seeking…Set your mind on the things that are above…” Yes, I know it is easy to say, but hard to do. But Paul didn’t write those words so he could waste ink. Read further in that chapter and you can see that it applies to more than just fear. Those words apply to our thought life, what we say to others. In fact, check out verses 8-9: Anger. Check. Wrath. Check. Malice. Check. Slander. Check. Obscene speech. Check. Lying. Check. Now take a glance at my opening list.

So…where are your eyes?

“Father, help me to set my eyes on You not on the world, nor the things going on in the world. That would only lead to worry and angst and fear. Help me to set my eyes on things above.”

October 26

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

There was a saying I heard and have also used more than once:

You made your bed now you have to lie in it.

That statement was usually tied to the consequences of a choice or choices I made on a decision that was ill-advised. It can also be used when talking about someone who tells a lie. I can’t tell you how many times my parents drummed into my head about telling the truth from the get-go. When you tell the truth you have nothing to hide. And you don’t have to figure out what you said the last time.

I once had a friend who went through years (over 10) of court appearance after court appearance because he wanted to see his kidnapped girls, and at best, get custody of them.  There were circumstances involved which I don’t need to relate. Let’s just say that his ex fled the state and refused to adhere to the laws (as did the justices from the other state). Three trials (two of which I testified at) and my friend’s testimony never changed. Her lawyer even tried to hold that against him. Meanwhile, her testimony changed constantly. It was mercurial in that it was in a state of constant flux.

Lies are like that. “What did I say last time” becomes a probing question. You don’t have to worry about that when telling the truth. Proverbs 26:27 says, “One who digs a pit will fall into it, And one who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.”

Tell the truth. While it may hurt, it doesn’t hurt nearly like a lie which comes back to haunt, even bury you.

“Father, there are multiple warnings in Your Word about telling the truth. Help me to be honest in all things.”

September 21

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

One of the “things” that has captured our world is jumping to conclusions. You know…make a decision and let that decision be made before all the facts are in.

This has been especially true in our world of instant news-Twitter, FB, Instagram and the like. We see or hear something and we are ready to be judge, jury, and executioner before knowing all the facts.

Case in point: Our Daily Bread had a story of an event which happened during the 2018 baseball season. A Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. When the coach tossed him a ball, a man sitting next to him scooped it up. He was excoriated by the media. He was called a brute. I vaguely remember seeing that video and I’m ashamed to admit that I thought, “How rude!” The first reaction of the media was to call him out about his cold-heartedness and lack of class. It took 24 hours for the truth to come out that those two had made a deal (after the man had snagged a ball for him earlier) to share any additional balls that came their way. By then, he was blistered.

Jumping to conclusions. We are strong on condemning “obvious” sins-adultery, homosexuality, stealing (unless it is during a riot), lying (sometimes but not always), but we give a free pass to jumping to conclusions and jumping on the bandwagon of condemnation. Exodus 23:2 tells us not to “join together with a crowd in order to pervert justice.” (NASB2020)

Let’s stop jumping to conclusions. Let’s get the facts-the truth-before ruining someone’s life with untruth.

“Father, may I be a truth-gatherer and not a lie-spreader.”

July 26

Monday, July 26th, 2021

I’ve often heard, and have said it as well, that a person needs to be careful who they surround themselves with. I don’t know how many times I heard my parents (especially my mom) and my pastor say, “Choose your friends wisely. They will often make or break you.” I have heard it as a leader. “Choose wisely those you surround yourself with. Your success or lack of it will often be determined by your close friends.”

So I was pretty picky when it came to who I hung around with. No one who drank or smoked was in my close circle of friends. That severely limited my friends to be honest. I did have friends who liked the same music I did. I also had friends who didn’t go to church. But even they were limited.

Come to think of it: I didn’t have many friends at all. I didn’t party. I didn’t drink so I could barf and waste my money. My friends in school were more like acquaintances, pals I walked with between classes and saw on the bus. Basketball was part of the reason for that as well. Not being a great student and trying to play sports at the same time limited my exposure to others outside of school. But if the truth be known, I took seriously the words I heard.

Words like my mom’s. Words like my pastor’s.

Words like I Cor. 15:33- “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (ESV)

Words like Pr.13:20- “One who walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” (NASB2020)

As the king told Indy after he chose the chalice that looked least kingly: “You have chosen wisely.” I want my life to be one of wise choices…in all areas. It just may start with who I gather around me.

“Father, Your words of wisdom are not to be dismissed lightly. You had a reason for telling us to choose wisely. May I continue to make wise choices in the people I hang around with.”

 

July 20

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Influence.

That word drips with meaning.

Someone has said, “Leadership is influence.” We talk about events that “influence an election.” We call someone an MVP because of the way they have influenced a team or a game. It is a favorite word being used about people: “they are influencers.”

We also talk about influencing lives. I see that as saying that I have an affect on people. The way I live can direct or misdirect someone. The way I care. The way I talk to them. The way I teach. And yes, the way I love.

Influence is long-lasting. I can see my influence in my daughters’ lives, even today. I’m hoping I can see a long-lasting influence on my grandson’s life. I can see it in the church people I hear from. I know that in all things my influence has been both positive and (sadly) negative.

People will remember how I have influenced their lives. That’s why Paul wrote that love is the greatest of all. People remember whether I loved them or not. Just as I hope and pray Jo and my girls and grandson never doubt or forget my love for them. When I die and I’m gone, the best test of my influence is what lasts. What carries on. I like what Bob Goff wrote:

Anything is worth doing if it’s done with love, and nothing’s worth doing if it comes at love’s cost. (p.240)

What kind of influence are you having on people? is it one you want to be remembered for?

“Father, may my influence be because of Your work in my life and not because I took it upon myself. Shine though me.”

Bob Goff’s book is entitled  Live in Grace-Walk in Love.

July 6

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

Have you ever used or heard used the phrase: “He/she got a taste of their own medicine”? When that is used it’s not meant as a compliment. It is meant to be translated: “He/she got what they gave someone else.”

For example: judging. Often times we judge others with a much harsher eye than we do ourselves. But when we judge we need to be careful because very often it’ll come back on us. Like a monsoon or tidal wave. Matthew 7:1-5 is a perfect example of that.

But I want to look at it another way. Back on June 23rd I wrote a devotion about self-talk, i.e. what we say to ourselves about ourselves. I got a taste of my own medicine this past Saturday.

First, the backstory. Awhile back I wrote about taking my bike to the shop and getting the news that my frame was cracked. Not good. So since Trek is good for their word, I got a new frame free. Very good. The bike shop rebuilt my bike with some old and new components. One of them was a new cable. Over time a cable will stretch and needs adjusted. Usually around 100-200 miles. I’m past that and since I live over an hour away from the bike shop I thought I’d try to do it myself. My gears were slipping and making all kinds of chatter as well as shifting when they weren’t supposed to.

Two words describe my efforts: Epic. fail.

I watched a video. I had a voice call with the mechanic and I still couldn’t get it right. I was frustrated. Then the self-talk started. “Incompetent.” “Failure.” “Loser.” “Why can’t I use my hands like others?” I was able to get it somewhat right but not all the way. I will be taking it to a shop to get it right.

I defeated myself by putting myself down. Calling myself names.

Fortunately, that is not who I am in Christ. I am not incompetent; a failure; or a loser. Maybe I am unable to use my hands like others can, but in Christ I am His. And He has put His stamp of approval on me and given me something far greater than being able to repair a bike.  He calls me His.

“Father, thank you for the reassurance that Your thoughts about me are not dependent on what I can or cannot do.”

P.S. While I wasn’t able to get a complete adjustment, I found out I did okay on some of it. So I guess I wasn’t a total doofus. 🙂

June 29

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

I know I’ve written about this before but after reading something Bob Goff wrote, it struck a nerve. Bob writes:

God speaks to us through His Word, through our friends, through our desires and dreams. Are you listening to them, or are you giving the microphone to voices that make you envy what your friend has or fear that the next move will end in total failure? Have you put your head next to a megaphone that screams you back into the person you were? (p.218)

I suspect we have all struggled with that from time to time.

But here’s another thought: what kind of voice am I to others? My mind pictures the old man who has the shell-shaped device (is that a gramaphone?)  up to his ear in order to hear and another old man yelling into it.

Speak truth. Speak love. Speak beauty. Speak trust and acceptance. Speak hope. Speak life. Be the “voice of God” in their ears.

“Father, may I be the voice of love and hope to those who hear me. Help me to speak life into a person not be just another voice of disinterest and disenchantment.”

Quote from Live in Grace-Walk in Love by Bob Goff

June 11

Friday, June 11th, 2021

It was one of those “WOW!” moments as you read the Bible. It wasn’t one of the earth-shattering or ground-breaking moments. There were no explosions or neon lights. Just a simple, but essential, reveal.

I was reading Proverbs 10. I’m going to write it down for you with emphasis mine as you read:

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense. The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.” (verses 19-21,32)

I’m sure you notice the common thread- OUR WORDS. Elsewhere in Proverbs it says, “Well-spoken words are like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Pr.25:11)

We must not kid ourselves.  Our words carry weight-sometimes more than we would like to think. That careless word. That cutting word. That word spoken in haste. That malicious word. All devastating.

The front part of verse 21 should be our guide: “The words of the godly encourage many.”

Those of us who are Christ-followers should be the encouragers. We ought to be the one who builds people up, not tear them down. Psalm 141:3 should be true of me and of you: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

“Father, may my words build people up, not tear them down. May my words encourage, not discourage. May they bless, not curse. Let Psalm 141:3 be true of me.”

June 7

Monday, June 7th, 2021

I’ll say it right up front: I am not on any social media-but then again, some of you already know of my disdain for it. I’ll go one step further: I don’t miss it. AT. ALL.  (Want me to tell you how I really feel?) 🙂

I read an article recently that was talking about what will keep a church from growing in the coming years. Know what one of them was? A pastor who doesn’t or won’t use social media.  My first reaction was benign- neither here nor there. Then I got upset that whether I am on social media or not will determine whether the church I pastor grows. Say what? Then part of me-a very, very small part- could see his point. Presence breeds an audience. So I left it at that.

I’m still not planning on using social media (except if this blog is considered social media). I’d probably get cancelled anyway since I’m not “woke” enough.  (Don’t care either). But there is something else which comes into play for me.

I don’t need all the vitriol I hear about and sometimes have read to me, i.e. so-and-so said this, “_________.”  Filling my mind and heart with garbage is not my idea of fun.

What prompted my thoughts this morning? Try reading Colossians 4:5-6 and not feeling the same way. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Your speech must always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (NASB 2020)

The NLT has an interesting take on that passage: “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

Frankly, I don’t trust myself. People spout off the whole BLM/CRT mumbo jumbo and my blood begins to simmer. To see a “woke” culture cancel everyone who doesn’t toe the party line and spiel their putrid garbage fries me. To see blatant hypocrisy and lies only gets my dander up. What hurts even more is to see and hear about the anger and the hate and the vitriol and strong, sometimes vulgar language, and lack of love words come out of people I know makes we want to shout, “No! This is not the way! This is not the Jesus way!”

So, you see…I don’t trust myself to practice Col. 4:5-6 (no matter what translation you read it in). Better to avoid than to wallow in the slime.

“Father, may my conversation always glorify You. May it always be “with grace and seasoned with salt.” May my words be those of healing and encouragement.”