Killer Words

“Kind words do not cost much.  Yet they accomplish much.” -Blaise Pascal

Neon words

We’ve all put our foot in our mouth at some point.  Careless, unwise, and quickly spoken words can destroy families, churches, and even communities. The tongue is a very small (2 oz) part of our bodies, but can be extremely dangerous and destructive. Our culture has 2 extremes in regards to the tongue…political correctness on one end…and no filter-ness on the other. When we choose our words wisely we find a biblical balance between the two.

A big problem with our tongues is that they are inconsistent.  One person prays before a meal and then gossips while they eat.  A parent says loving words to a child but uses harsh words with their spouse just moments later. Do you kiss your mom with that mouth?  Our tongues aren’t only inconsistent…they are deadly.

James cautions us, in James 3:1-18, to use words of wisdom and gentleness.

James 3:5-6 says,  “… the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire.“

The truth is, we can’t control our own tongues.  We need the power and wisdom of God in our lives as we face daily relationship challenges.  Consider these principles based on what we find in James 3.

  • Examine your speech.  When it’s not right…repent.  Ask God to reveal the outcome of your words, not only what you mean or don’t mean to communicate. Use words that are understanding, pure, build peace, gentle, loving, and full of mercy.
  • House Cleaning.  Invite God to clean your heart. Ps. 51:15 “O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.”  On some level, we all need heart surgery.  The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart (Matt:12:24).  Ask the good doctor for an examination.
  • Switch Seats. James 3:8 says that no person can tame the tongue.  The good news is…God, through His Spirit, can!  If we switch seats and transfer control to the Holy Spirit, our words filter through Him.  The rudder drives the ship, but the captain controls the rudder.  When we switch seats…we reflect Him.

When we make the decision to speak words filled with wisdom and gentleness, God is glorified.  Three good questions to ask before speaking are…

  • Will my words show God’s grace? The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious“ (Ecc. 10:12a).
  • Will my words bring healing? The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18b).
  • Will my words give life? “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21a).

Your words have the power to build up or to destroy.  It’s our choice.  When has your life been changed by wise and gentle words?

Fearful in a Scary World

The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?  Psalm 27:1

Fear

As I watched the news today, I began to become fearful about events going on around the world.  Freedom is being threatened in Hong Kong, the Ebola virus seems to be out of control in west Africa, children across america are contracting Enterovirus that is paralyzing and in some cases causing death, and war in the middle-east.  All of these events are scary and things seem to be getting worse.  Will there ever be an end?  It’s enough to cause great fear for the future of our country and world.  What can we do?

We need to keep in mind that God is still on His throne and in control.  He always has been and He always will be.  In all things He has a purpose in either causing or allowing things to take place.  He is never taken by surprise or caught off guard.  But when our personal “world” is crumbling around us, it’s oftentimes difficult to remember but essential that we do.

We must also keep in mind that God loves us with perfect love and has promised that everything (good and seemingly bad)  that touches our lives will work together for His glory and our benefit (Rom. 8:28).  Jesus was tortured and killed was horrible; but God allowed it and caused it to work for the salvation of the whole world!  Also, we are living in the “last days” before Jesus returns to the earth for His people.  While that’s exciting to think about, it also means that the world is going to get worse and worse as it is being prepared to embrace the Antichrist.

As we live in this scary world, we are to keep on living for Jesus day by day.  We are to keep on loving our families, entrusting them to God.  We should make plans for the future, but we met trust God for that future because He holds it in His hands.  As the world becomes more scary by the day, we must never stop fighting against the enemy in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to be fearful.  God has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  He holds us in His hand (John 10:28-30) and nothing can remove us from His hand or separate us from His love (Rom 8:39-39).  As an old pilot once said, “When days seem darkest because of the clouds, the sun is still shining.  We just have to climb up higher to be able to see it.  May we climb higher each day as we desire to let Him live through us and bring glory to His name (Gal. 2:20). His perfect love will cast out any fear we have (1 John 4:18)

Growing Pains

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure mild of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”  1 Peter 2.1-3

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Is our desire really to grow?

I spend a lot of time burping babies at home…but when I come to church I spend a lot of time burping spiritual babies too.  It’s time for Christians to graduate from babyhood to adulthood in  Jesus!  I learned years ago that not everybody that grows old, grows up!  And that’s not only true emotionally, it’s true spiritually!

So what’s involved in our growing up spiritually?

 
1. PRE-GROWTH

 
Peter says that there are some things that need to be removed and left behind in order for you to spiritually grow up.

 
And until we’re willing to remove them, it doesn’t matter how many sermons we hear preached or how many verses in the Bible we memorize .. we won’t spiritually grow up.

 
Malice is an unforgiving spirit.  Deceit speaks of getting even with somebody who has wronged you. Hypocrites never grow up spiritually, because they are hypocrites.  Acting on the outside what you aren’t on the inside.

 

Most of us are not nearly as spiritual and wonderful as we pretend to be on the outside.  We’ve got to lay aside our hypocrisy if we’re ever going to grow up spiritually.
Envy is resenting somebody who has something good happen to them.  And Evil speaking is the result of being envious.

 
We’ve have been born again to GROW!  And in order to grow up spiritually .. there are some things we must lay aside, but if we don’t … we won’t!

 
2. PRODUCING GROWTH

 
Just as there must be some laying aside of some things … there must also be some things that produce GROWTH that we need to pursue.  In other words .. it’s not enough to simply lay aside these things.

 
YOU WILL NOT GROW APART FROM THE WORD OF GOD.  Suppose you walk up to me and said, “Jonah, I’m so weak, I don’t have any strength and can hardly walk”  And I asked, “Are you eating right?”  And you said, “No, I eat just a little one morning a week.  I wonder what’s wrong with me?”

 
If we are going to GROW, we have to FEED on the Word of God!

 
God’s placed within every baby the desire for milk.  When my children were born, the only desire they had was for milk in order to grow.  God placed that desire in them just as He has placed within those of us who have been born again to desire the pure milk of the word.

 
Be intentional and plan out your priorities. Set a time!  Decide on a place!  And once it gets into you, it will then come out of you giving you the nutrition and wisdom and strength you need to grow up and to stand firm.

 
3. PROMPTING GROWTH

 
Since we’ve experienced God’s graciousness, forgiveness, hope, inheritance, and have been born again to love one another, Peter says that should prompt us to grow.

 
We have tasted (come to experience) that the Lord is gracious.  The Psalmists says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”

 
As we grow, we will be better equipped to lead our groups and lead them grow as well.

The Business of LifeGroups

I grew up watching my father be a salesman, and got the chance to ride with him on sales calls from about 8 years old until high school.He knew how to attract new costumers and take care of existing ones. During that time, I never realized how much of an impact watching my dad would have on me. It wasn’t long until I began selling products for him in College. Everything from counterfeit detectors to office furniture. It seemed that if a business needed a product, my dad sold it. After college I found a position at a lumber yard where my primary job was to sell supplies for do it yourselfers and small contractors.
     It may sound crazy, but I learned some incredibly valuable lessons that every Small Group leader needs to know:
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1. Cold Calls are Warmer Than the Saying Implies.
     I remember being so nervous while calling potential costumers that I would often get to the last digit of the phone number and hang up because I was so nervous that I would mess the call up. After months of this, I finally realized that ‘cold calls’ really aren’t that cold. My job wasn’t to sell an office full of furniture in one call. In fact, the only reason a salesman cold calls is to get an audience with a potential customer. This completely changed my perspective!
Remember Leaders: You don’t have to convince every person you call for the first time about their need for community. They’ll make that decision on their own over time. Your goal is to simply get an audience with that person. Whether you go out for coffee to meet them or simply get them to visit your LifeGroup, let people see the great value of community based on what they see in front of them.
2. Satisfied Customers Bring More Business than Charismatic Salespeople.
     Sure, I could hook all the customers I wanted at first, but their business was short lived if they weren’t satisfied. I realized that cold calling may always be a necessity of building new business, but you grow faster when your customers tell others how happy they are with you! Everyone expects a salesman to push his own product, but people raise impressed eyebrows when costumers push your product without you knowing.
 Remember Leaders: You are not the only person who can reach out to newcomers! You should not, and cannot, be responsible for every call to reach out! Divide calls to group members so that potential LifeGroup visitors get to hear from someone other than the ‘recruiter’ that they expect to be excited. If your group is growing community with one another, then people will naturally take the time to talk about it.
3. Continual Care Means Repeat Business
     The first special order I sold at the lumber yard was a nightmare! What was supposed to take a week, 6 weeks! I remember being sick to my stomach every time I had to call my first customer and tell him that I was trying to get his cedar decking in, but it would be another week. At the very end of the whole ordeal I remember that Mr. Frye asked me to speak to my manager. I found out later that it wasn’t to complain. He simply wanted to thank us for what we had done to help him throughout the process to take care of him. Mr. Frye became a regular Do it yourself customer for us!
Remember Leaders: Following up and taking care of those in your group (even the tough ones) is what makes people realize that this isn’t a duty, it’s a real passion. Community fosters loving care for one another no matter the circumstances, and even when it looks like trials will never end, our impact is often far greater than we realize at first.

4. Relationships Build Lasting Business
     As a grade school boy, I remember my dad selling a large order to a regular customer at cost. I said, “Why would you do that?! You’re not making any money!” My dad looked down and said, “Sometimes you need to help take care of people, it’s not just about the money. We’re friends.” Wow, what a lesson. That man still does business with my dad 15 years later because relationships build lasting business. Friends will stick out the hard times and realize there is more than the bottom line holding them together.
Remember Leaders: It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to “grow your group” in size, that you forget to actually “grow your group” in friendships. Groups may come and go, schedules may change, and people may have special needs in certain seasons, but we are in this to build lasting friendships that mirror Christ. Groups that exist to build relationships grow in time, but groups that exist to simply grow numbers fail quickly because they have no foundation!