8.30.14 Insight from Megan O’Neil

Megan O’Neill is the Learn Events Coordinating Assistant at Resurrection.

mountainIn the last couple of months, God has gifted me a few incredibly beautiful mountain top moments. I don’t mean your typical Colorado “mountain top.” I mean, larger than the mountain in this picture, and way higher than the altitude in which we were flying.

For a quick second, I thought we were still driving past a little hill on the Malawian terrain we just flew away from. (I know what you are thinking, but in my own defense, my heart was still in Malawi). The guy sitting next to me was anxious to tell me this was, in fact, Mount Kilimanjaro. He had traveled this route between Blantyre, Malawi and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia many times for work, and had never seen the mountain tops this clearly. (Kind of a big deal!)

So I blinked a few times and realized that this was in fact a tiny glimpse of this HUGE mountain that we were flying over. Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, ascends 19,341 feet above sea level. Just for perspective, our plane was flying over 40,000 feet in the air.

In these past couple of months, the “larger than 40,000 feet tall mountain top moments” God gifted me—while in Malawi, and upon my return to Kansas—were filled with His promises, love, guidance, truth, hope, and above all else, God Himself. I felt His presence more than I had ever before. He showed me hurts in my past that He had healed. He showed me glimpses of my future. So, how could I come down from this mountain, His Mountain? How could I ever be defeated after seeing/feeling/experiencing all of this goodness?

During last weekend’s sermon—Family Words: Hurtful or Life Giving?—I listened, wrote notes, and agreed with Pastor Adam to not say hurtful words and  continue to use encouraging words (just like our passage reads today in Ephesians 4:29). I even repeated our sermon series theme verses three times with the congregation. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord….”

Then, the very next evening, I yelled at my mom. Nothing about my tone, words, approach, delivery or exit were encouraging or loving. I went to bed angry—angry that she didn’t understand, and angry that I had had acted that way. (Spoiler alert: I am not a perfect Christian!) Ephesians 4:27 reads: “for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” I had certainly allowed the devil take hold my life that evening.

Thankfully, I woke up the next morning with my eyes fixed on God. His promises were waiting at my doorstep as a gift for the new day.

God reminded me of the “larger than 40,000 feet tall mountain top moments” I had so deeply experienced just recently. Even before I had fallen off my recent mountain top moments, he was there to guide me back up my next mountain. God keeps guiding me with grace, peace, love, forgiveness, humility, and—again, always—GRACE which never stops.

8.29.14 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

For some reason, today’s passage brought to mind our family trip to Wisconsin & Michigan this past summer. Traveling across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we came across exotic names like Ishpeming & Gogebic. I enjoyed the story of the traveler ordering lunch and asking the gal how to pronounce this place’s name. Puzzled, she replied, “Suuub-Waaaaay.”

Of course with the whole family in close proximity for 10 days there can be some tension. Like when our sons turned up their noses at the Best Western’s complimentary breakfast one morning, I was reminded of a Dad’s response when asked by his sons what the choices were for breakfast. He replied, “Well you have 2 choices: Yes or No.”

And truth be told some of our stops might not always seem idealistic at first. While we thoroughly enjoyed touring The Apostle Islands, biking on Mackinack Island, & walking around Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village there was some eye-rolling noted in the rear-view mirror when we stopped at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Luckily, there was still parking available!)

As I pondered our verse selection, I couldn’t help but think of the lessons presented by a few snippets of President Ford’s life.

President Ford, after he stumbled down the steps of Air Force One on a trip to Austria, is probably best remembered for the incessant mocking on Saturday Night Live portraying him as klutz. (Quite ironic, since Ford was extremely athletic, voted MVP of his Michigan football team which won 2 National Championships, & drafted by the Green Bay Packers.) But there is a bit more to his story:

Early Life

Shortly after Leslie Lynch King, Jr. was born in 1913, his mother separated from his violent father. They moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and eventually his Mother marries a paint salesman & the baby’s name is changed to Gerald R. Ford, Jr.

While bussing tables in a diner at the age of 16, Ford has a chance encounter & meets his birth father, Leslie King, for the 1st time. King boasts about his financial successes, his pretty wife & family, and pushes $20 into Ford’s hands before leaving. (Gerald’s wages were $2/week at the time.) Ford recounted later how he wept bitterly that night. He consoled himself by reciting Proverbs 3:5-6 over & over.

College Life

While a football player at the University of Michigan, the Wolverines were scheduled to play Georgia Tech. However, Tech refused to play the game if Ford’s roommate & best friend, Willis Ward, was allowed to play. Mr. Ward was African-American. Michigan acquiesced to Tech’s demands and Ford was ready to quit the team in disgust. However, his friend persuaded him to go ahead & play the game & to be sure to win. (Michigan did prevail; ironically, the only win of the 1934 season.)

Political Life

Ford (a 24-year member of the House of Representatives) was selected by President Nixon to be his Vice-President after Spiro Agnew resigned amidst scandal. Ford was the only candidate who could gain the support of both Republicans & Democrats due to his reputation of integrity & hard work. (Ford was an Eagle Scout & a member of the House’s weekly Bible study.)

A month after becoming President, & despite all of his aides advising him it would be political suicide, Ford pardoned Nixon so that the nation might begin to heal. Colleagues, pundits, & opinion-makers, who a few months earlier had praised his integrity, lashed out at Ford accusing him of making a deal to become President or even covering up his own crimes. He would lose the 1976 election, but most scholars belatedly concluded that the pardon was a statesman-like decision.

So what might we discern from President Ford’s life as it pertains to our Scripture? (I was asking myself that very question – Editor.) Today’s Scripture challenges us to live well & to live wisely, to start on the hard work of getting along, & to treat each other with dignity & honor. Yet, we know that in spite of our best intentions, we will fail & others will fail us. What should we do when this occurs? Perhaps Ford’s life can provide us some counsel:

Ford could have rightfully resented the mocking he received for being clumsy; however, he wasn’t thin-skinned – he embraced the humor of the situation & even played along famously with the theme, post-presidency.

Ford wasn’t embittered about his childhood; instead, he reconciled with his birth father, bragged on his parents & the many Scout mentors of his youth.

Remembering that frustrating game in 1934, Ford wrote, “…has helped me many times to face a tough situation, take action, and make every effort possible despite the adverse odds.”

Regarding his Presidency, Ford said at his inauguration, “Let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion & hate.”

So when asked what he wanted to title his autobiography, Ford suggested what he felt was an important theme in his life: A Time to Heal. May we go & do likewise.

DL: See that wasn’t so bad, was it? Where shall we eat lunch?

#1 Son: Subway!

#2 Son: I want a foot-long – I didn’t eat much breakfast.

 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

 

8.28.14 Insight from Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist.

I don’t mean to brag, but I have been rockin’ it as a wife lately. My husband, Brandon, and I have been married for nearly seven years, and while we’ve hit our normal amount of waves along the way, things have been pretty smooth sailing as of late.

marisa's wedding b and jSo happy and confident was I that, earlier this summer, I prayed that God would show me more ways that I could bless my husband. I realized that this would be a particularly difficult challenge for Him, perhaps requiring Him to dig deep into the annals of history’s perfect wives, but I figured He’d be up for it. Mind you, I chose not to go directly to Brandon with this request. I figured it would be my little secret with God. Brandon wouldn’t necessarily need to be involved other than to enjoy our wedded bliss that much more.

Yet while I made this earnest request to God, I was still completely taken aback when a couple of weeks later I found myself in a conversation with my husband in which he offered me a few “friendly suggestions” on how I might be a better wife.

I’d like to say that I responded by throwing my arms around him exclaiming, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is exactly what I’ve been praying for.” That’s what I’d like to say… but I can’t. I did my best to listen to his requests and respond well, but my soul was wrestling with the grace and love I wanted to extend and the pain and frustration I was feeling.

Hurt. I was hurt. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. Though we both could have worked on how we approached the conversation, my husband wasn’t unfair in his requests. I had hurt him too, and hearing this kind of feedback was difficult.

But this was the answer to my prayers. This is what I wanted. I asked for ways to bless my husband, and here they lay right in front of me. So through my pain and because of his, I’m choosing to listen to his requests and take them seriously. It’s not enough to be made aware of how to bless your spouse if you’re not willing to actually do it.

God faithfully answered my prayers, even though I wasn’t fond of the initial response. And more importantly, He’s taught me that I need to go straight to the source and check in with my husband to see how I am meeting his needs periodically. I’ve even put it on my calendar!

And while I’m assuming that this may help me in my desire to be a better spouse and teammate, I have no delusions that we will live entirely happily ever after in the land of rainbows and roses. No, I’m sure we will spend a lifetime hurting one another. That’s the reality of all close relationships.

But the joy and blessings we receive far outweigh the hurt. We take seriously our roles to care for and encourage one another, because we not only believe that marriage is a way to give and receive love between the two of us, but it goes far beyond that as well. Marriage is a partnership in which we work together to extend that love to everyone around us so that the kingdom of earth might look more like the Kingdom of God because the two of us have joined together in that endeavor.

Viewing our relationship through this lens of a united force helps to alleviate the idea of his needs vs. her needs. All of a sudden it goes from “my needs are not met” or “his needs are not met” to “one of our needs is unmet.” This perspective makes me want to meet his needs all the more and not be so secretive about doing so. And it’s also this context that provides an aloe to any wounds that come when each of our needs undoubtedly goes unmet.

I choose to love my husband through words and actions (aka – being a rockin’ wife) because I genuinely love him. He’s one of the kindest, wisest, funniest, and smartest people I know. But I also choose to love him (and find ways to better love him) because he makes me a better person, and together we make a better team – a team whose love is continually perfected by God and reflected to others with the hope that this combined effort draws people to the heart of the One who is the ultimate giver and very essence of all real and sustaining love.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.27.14 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallie is the Worship Logistics Program Director at Resurrection. She oversees preparing the Sanctuary for worship, supports Vibe worship and volunteers in the Student Center, provides oversight for Holy Communion at the Leawood campus, and assists with worship logistics at conferences.

One of the reflection questions in today’s GPS is “What aspects of your history and temperament make “the peace of Christ” particularly important for you in your closest relationships?”

It can be so easy for us to settle into old habits in close relationships. One relationship I have begun to see differently in the last year is the one I have with my mom. I love her more than almost anyone else. But I also say things  – not good things – to her that I would never say to anyone else. There are lots of psychological and sociological studies about the often-difficult relationships between mothers and daughters. I won’t go into the theories of those studies, but I feel confident in saying there are probably plenty of women reading this today who will agree that your relationships with your mothers or daughters are different than any other relationships you have.

On Labor Day weekend last year, my mom came to visit me. As I introduced her to friends and watched the ways they interacted with her, I had an epiphany-like moment. She is my mom, and I have always known her, but I didn’t really know her in any other capacity than as my mom. I have been more critical of her and judgmental toward her than I would ever even think about being with anyone else. I would interrupt her or argue with her or snap at her. Since that weekend last year, I have begun to see my mom as a beautiful woman of God and prayed for God’s guidance and patience whenever I talk to my mom, and I really try to think of her and how she will feel before I speak to her. She is visiting me again this coming weekend, and I am looking forward to the time we will spend together and the chance we’ll have to speak word of love to one another.

I challenge you to examine your close relationships and to ask God to show you where you might speak more words of love.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.26.14 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

Don’t miss that opening phrase in today’s reading…as God’s chosen people.

I don’t simply mean make sure you read it; I mean don’t merely read it.  Don’t simply compute on a cognitive level what Merriam-Webster says the words mean—but rather—Stop.  Get out of the mental car that you’re speeding much too quickly in towards the next destination on your calendar—and take this in…NOW (sorry for shouting but I need your attention because you need to get this).

God chose you.  Not just any god—but The God (the One who Created and is the Genesis of everything else that we tend to make other gods out of—That God) chose you.  The Creator of the cosmos—Who is all-powerful and all-knowing—made a conscious and on-purpose decision to pick you.  You with your habits and faults.  You with your past and your stuff that nobody else knows about…other than Him.  You with your propensity to be short-sighted and self-addicted—The God Who is before all, beyond all and redeeming all…chose you!

Why?  Well that’s the most confounding part of this whole Gibraltar of truth that you’ve unwittingly stumbled upon today: God chose you because He’s flat crazy about you.  He loves you like the proudest of parents who has all their hopes and dreams wrapped up in their child…because He is and He does.  There’s nothing you’ve ever done that He won’t forgive and there’s nothing you’ll ever do to make Him stop loving you.  He loves you so much that He’d die for you without ever giving it a second thought…in fact He did…He’s just crazy about you and there’s nothing He wouldn’t do for you.

So you’ve just got to get this today: God chose you!

The reason you’ve got to get this is because when you do, it gives you responsibility.  Oh, I don’t mean responsibility in the negative, burdensome and confining way we tend to hear that word; I mean the freeing, empowering and tranforming possibilities that this word literally conveys—the ability to respond.  When you truly get that God has chosen you, you are empowered with the gracious ability to respond.

So you’ve got to get this today: God chose you!

Therefore…(in response to the life-defining reality that God chose you)…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:12-14).

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Executive Pastor of Worship and a Congregational Care Pastor.

 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.25.14 Insight from Melanie Hill

Melanie Hill is the Visitor Connections Program Director in Resurrection’s Guest Services Ministry.

When I received the writing assignment this week I have to admit that at first I was stumped. What do I have to say about love that hasn’t been said already, most likely much more eloquently? It’s the topic of epic romances and beautiful ballads. It can be used to describe the transcendent affection of God–and to share my feelings about tacos? This word “love,” perhaps one of the most overused words in our language, relates the height of human emotion and at the same time the affection for the mundane. How to come up with a definition?

Like with most situations in my life, when in doubt I ask my kids. And so it was on a Saturday morning on our way to a soccer game that started entirely too early that my 10-year-old son reminded me what love is truly supposed to look like. I asked him, “How do you know when someone loves you?” Without hesitation he said, “When they take care of you and nurture you. When they’re there when things are good and bad.” I was a little stunned. First, because despite all my faults as a parent somehow my son understands what love is, and this is a very good thing for me as his mom. And second, because he nailed it. Real love is an action, not a feeling or emotion we have. The emotion of love ebbs and flows over time, but real love makes a choice to be present. Real love changes us. Real love calls us to a radically different life. One of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning, talks about it like this:

“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”

This extravagant, furious love is what covers all wrongs. This is the love that took my place on the cross to cover my wrongs. And this is the love that invites me into the mission of God of loving others; the love that invites me to become a professional lover. So this week as we meditate on the words of our mouths let us not just love each other in word but in action, so that others may believe our words. (And while we’re at it, maybe find another word to describe my affection for tacos!)

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.23.14 Insight from Jason Gant

Jason Gant is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection West.

All week I have been reflecting on these scriptures through the memory verse cards we passed out Sunday in worship. Guidance from Psalms and Ephesians has been very relevant, especially with my wife and my children.

Today I am officiating at a wedding where the most important words are vows that the bride and the groom will promise to one another. These words are meant to be binding, witnessed, and a testament to their union. The tradition of the wedding vow goes back to the Roman empire when mutual consent was the foundation of the union. Wealthy Romans began to create documents that would be signed and recognized as binding.

Below is an example of traditional vows today in the United Methodist Church:

In the name of God,
I, NAME, take you NAME,
to be my wedded wife/husband,
to have and to hold
from this day forward,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
until we are parted by death.
This is my solemn vow.

These words are meaningful and powerful as couples lay a foundation of faith in their marriage.

When I arrived at the rehearsal yesterday, I met the groom’s grandparents who had recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary! Grandmom commented, “He just can’t get rid of me.” I couldn’t help but imagine the words that had been shared between this couple over the course of 63 years. There would be no question that words of apology, humility, forgiveness, and care would be counted in that list.

When my wife and I came to serve here at Resurrection, she purchased and began listening to Pastor Adam’s book, Making Love Last a Lifetime. I agreed to listen, and I remember to this day Adam writing that “marriage is a ministry.” I’ve tried to approach my marriage in this way and I advise couples I counsel to do the same. My wife’s primary love language (meaning the way she prefers I express love to her as defined in Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages) is words of affirmation. It’s important for her to hear how I feel about her. This speaks to her heart.

Another couple, whose wedding I had the honor of officiating at just a few weeks ago, wanted very much for a certain phrase to be included in their vows on their special day: “to speak with a gentle heart.” This was a phrase that they believed in, so much so that they wanted it included in their vows to one another and witnessed by the people they love.

John writes of Jesus as the bridegroom to the Church. Imagine the power of Jesus words promised as vows to the Church. His words are promises. He gives the weary rest, sets the captive free, gives sight to the blind, offers abundant life, shares living water, and promises to be with us to the very end of the age. Christ’s words are binding, they have been witnessed, and we are encouraged to have faith. May our words point others to His power and love as we speak with a gentle heart.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

 

8.22.14 Insight from Chris Folmsbee

Chris Folmsbee is Resurrection’s Director of Discipleship Ministries.  He is the author of several books, with an extensive background in applying principles of spiritual growth to real life. He, his wife Gina and their family have been attending Resurrection since 2008.

In the evenings after the dinner dishes are cleaned up, the kids’ homework is done and we are all winding down for the night, my wife and I lead our kids through some conversations about the Bible. We have been slowly working our way through the Bible’s grand narrative of the with our kids. (I am using these two resources to stay on track at the moment, and highly recommend them: God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible, by Vaughn Roberts and Echo The Story by Michael Novelli.) We hope they’ll capture an imagination for the way God intends for them to live, and how they might do their part in making earth look like heaven, remembering the words “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

We’ve traced the Bible’s storyline several times, and each time we do we do so with greater detail and depth. As you might expect, as the narrative becomes clearer to all of us, the questions become deeper as well. A recent question we discussed at length was, “Dad, what does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of God?” Such a great question! Paul is explicitly talking about this in our reading today (Colossians 3:8-10) when he states, “Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it.”

Paul’s encouragement is simple. Stop carrying an attitude of anger, rage and malice that causes you to use improper, hurtful words and even to lie. By stopping these harmful practices, we are living into the way in which we’ve been created to live–as living proof of a living God. To conform to the image of God is to become the living representation of God that God intended when God created humans. In part, this means that we live into the holiness of God. This reality challenges us to speak as God would speak–truthfully, generously and necessarily. Three questions to ask before speaking: Is it true? Is it generous? Is it necessary?

Obviously to speak truthfully, generously and necessarily requires not only thinking before we speak, but also an intense desire to be fully converted before we think. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, how intense is your desire to be transformed into the image of God?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.21.14 Insight from Shawn Simpson

Shawn Simpson serves as the Director of Technical Arts and Operations at The Church of the Resurrection’s West campus in Olathe, KS.

This past Sunday, Adam challenged us to memorize Ephesians 4:29 (Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear) and to keep it close to our hearts as we went about our week.  I say that he “challenged” us because, at least for me, it IS a huge challenge to be positive sometimes.  Words have weight and sometimes I can be a master of wielding them as weapons.  It might be a serious verbal beating because I’m angry, or a little sarcastic remark that slices down what you were trying to say, but I’m exceedingly good at verbal combat.  

Beyond my own sharp tongue, I’ve also started to notice how often I’m reading things that have potential to be hurtful.  Adam pointed out in the sermon on Sunday just how much social media has effected the “conversations” people have.  Every person reading this could literally, with a couple of mouse clicks, send the words I’ve typed into the ether and have it land on the screen of someone a world away.  Then that person has the ability to issue replies and rebuttals to points that I may not have even been trying to make.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but within minutes we can be locked in a pitched battle to establish that we’re right and sadly, will end our battle having never really solved anything.

This week has been filled with news stories of death and loss and hate and fear and everything in between.  A young man died at the hands of the police in Ferguson, MO and that community, with the weight of world opinion pressing down, has exploded into a full-on crisis.  I won’t comment on what happened or who I believe is right or wrong, but I will say that the war of words on both sides is discouraging.  A clear line of battle has been drawn and nobody is interested in stepping to that line and trying to cull fact from fiction.  Words matter and until we can put aside the platitudes of righteousness to which both sides feel entitled, then the battle will rage only.  A tragedy occurred and the war of words has created an even bigger tragedy.   With time and by the unending grace of God, that community will heal.  My prayer is that they will see where the verbal combat isn’t effective and will instead turn to each other to seek answers rather than looking for opponents.

I’ve also experienced a great deal of positive stuff on social media.  Dozens of people I know have taken up the #ALSicebucketchallenge, which has raised extraordinary amounts of money for a relatively unknown disease that effects many.  My sarcasm dictates that I make a joke about people dumping ice on their heads and thinking it raises money but really just draws attention to themselves and feeds their ego, BUT I know I’d be wrong about that.  ALS research charities have received several times their normal donation quota to fund their efforts.  Words have weight and “accepting the challenge” (and filming it for all to see!) has brought awareness to a worthy cause.

Finally, my social media newsfeed delivered a positive and uplifting consolation speech from a coach of an elite Little League World Series team to his players after being eliminated.  In it, this coach demonstrates that saying only what is useful to build up as needed can go a long way to consoling a tired and brokenhearted baseball team.  How easy would it have been for that coach to slap those kids on the back and tell them they played hard but didn’t measure up?  How often does a loss lead to words that don’t build up but tear down?  In this case, the coach spoke to those boys the way that I believe God may speak to all of us: I’m not perfect and I may not always win, but I’ll always be loved and it’s my goal to let the abundance of my heart flow through my speech displace the snarky-ness and sarcasm (and other evils).  In that way I will be what God has called me to be.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.20.14 Insight from Steven Blair

Rev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care Pastor of Live Forward and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry. www.cor.org/liveforward

GPS  – Good Words
James 1:22-25
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”   James 1:22

I was taught to avoid bad words when I was growing up.   The only hiccup in my extended family was the day my cousin came home from 1st grade using a certain word that, as she described, “Must be an ok word because the name ‘God’ was in front of it.”   A good use of language is about more than avoiding bad words.  There are plenty of bad sentences that can be pieced together while still avoiding any of the taboo words. Here are a couple opposites that I suggest follows the spirit that James is writing about regarding words.

Criticism v. Encouragement There is a place for healthy correction of a person’s behavior.  Criticism usually stems from our own need to feel right rather than a benevolent desire to make a situation right.  Our words reflect our hearts.  Typically the most critical people are ones that have gone the longest since they experienced grace.  Here’s a tip: The next time you encounter a hyper-critical person, ask them when they last experienced grace.  They may see the connection.   If not, at least you have planted the seed.   Christians are called to be people who extend grace.  To encourage someone is to put heart (from the Latin cor) into them.   Replace your critical nature with encouragement and see how your heart shifts.

Gossip v. Covering Gossip is saying something behind a person’s back that you would not say in front of their face.  (Incidentally, flattery is saying something to a person’s face that you would not say behind their back). Gossip destroys relationships.  Some of the early Jews believed that Gossip was so destructive that it was the likely cause for God sending leprosy to people.  If a person could not be trusted in community, they would be given leprosy and therefore removed from the community.  While we understand that Gossip and skin disease are not connected, we see how destructive people considered Gossip.   It still destroys. What is the opposite of Gossip?  Covering.   When you hear someone being gossiped about, use your words to cover them in protection.   Speak on their behalf.  Use words such as “I don’t know if that is true but I know that person has been good to me and others I know.”    Your good words can protect another person in their absence.

Sarcasm v. Sincerity Sarcasm is not wrong objectively.  It can be pretty funny.  A lot of great comedians and movies have done well by using Sarcasm.  There is a shadow side to it, though.  Sarcasm can also be a barrier for true connection.   It keeps the conversation rather shallow.    If you are sarcastic, or know someone who is, James would recommend you replace it with Sincerity.     While Sarcasm uses words and tone to send an indirect message, Sincerity uses words to say exactly what you mean.  Try it.  See if you find a deeper level of connection.

Avoiding bad words is important.   Avoiding bad sentences is more important, in person and via social media. May your tongue reflect the good that Jesus has planted in your heart.

Grace and Peace,
Steven Blair
Pastor of Live Forward www.cor.org/liveforward
Pastor of Live Well   www.cor.org/livewell

 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.