Saturday, December 21, 2013


 “Whoever said sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” was wrong. 
If we have learned anything this week it is that words can bite you.  From a long-bearded Louisianan to a jet-set PR exec, we can learn a valuable lesson about watching what you say. 

No matter which side of the “issues” you stand on, the truth is what you say can hurt you.  The Apostle Paul said “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Have you ever banged a gong?  It is noisy.  It demands you hear it.  Once it is hit, it is hard to ignore. 
Words are like that. 

Any words, no matter if they are truthful or not, spoken without love have the potential to create problems. It doesn’t matter if they are tweeted, facebooked, or spoken.  If they are given without love or deference to the potential audience (and that could be world-wide) they can be volatile. 
One of the wisest men to ever live said it like this, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all transgressions.  Wisdom is found in the words of the discerning person, but the one who lacks wisdom will be disciplined.”(Proverbs 10:12-13)
I’m not saying don’t have convictions.  I’m saying start your convictions with compassion.  Compassion is defined as a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  Humaneness, kindhearted, kindness, pity, empathy and understanding. 
 This season we celebrate the WORD becoming flesh.  What was that WORD like?  He loved so much he died for the ones who hated him and his message.  Are you willing to die for those who oppose your message?  Or are you quick to write, tweet or blast them with your words?  The last time I checked, bombs do damage.  They destroy things and people.  Your words can do that. 

So the next time you feel the need to speak on an issue, ask yourself, are the words you are using from the WORD?

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Willy Wonka says, “Improvisation is a parlor trick,  Anyone can do it.”  Maybe so, but not everybody should.  I sat eavesdropping in Starbucks this morning.  I listened to three different conversations.  Each one consisted of one person explaining a current life situation with the other participant offering their opinion as to how the circumstances should be handled.  As I listened in on the third conversation, I began pondering whether anyone ever stops to think about what they are about to say.  The conversation was very fast and there was very little “dead air” time. 
We have become a society that fears silence in conversation.  The second the other person stops talking we feel the need to fill the void.  I have to admit, I am guilty.  Do we fear that if we stop and seriously consider what was said and what we should say the person will get up and leave on us? 
The second thing I noticed about these discussions was that a lot of the time when “the improve switch” is on, the first words out of our mouths is “I”.   Winging a conversation allows us to change the focus off of the other person and onto ourselves.  One of the conversations I heard became a competition to see whose life sucked more.  Although I doubt that either person would describe the interaction as such, from an outside perspective that’s what it became.  And I’m not sure either side left winning or even feeling like they received helpful advice.
The final thing I noticed about voidless conversations is that gossip was easily inserted.  In all three there was a point at which what someone else said or did was brought up.  And none were in flattering language.  I wonder how the conversation would have been different if the “Quoted” person was present. 
Has the ability to accept silence in a conversation been lost in our instant society?  Or do we not even notice?  Or are we so self-absorbed that we really don’t care?  Try this in your next “coffee talk” with someone; wait 3 seconds after they finish talking before you say anything.  See if it changes what you say. 
I’m going to lunch with a guy, I’ll try it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I almost laughed

Has someone ever shared with you a belief that you just found absolutely ridiculous? I’m talking about an idea that didn’t make sense?  How did you respond? 
I recently had one of those experiences.  We are renting a house from a couple that came to America from India.  The backyard is filled with all sort of exotic and unique plants.  Some were brought from India.  One plant is a tall tree with long bean-like pods that are added to soup.  We have a number of trees and under each tree are a few new shoots that are growing from seeds that have fallen. 

A few weeks ago I had an Indian man come to the door and ask if he could pick some of the beans off the tree.  I said sure and helped him pick a bag full.  Afterwards he asked he could come back and take one of the shoots for his yard.  He explained that he had tried to grow a tree from seeds but had failed.  I explained to him that I would ask the landlord to make sure it was OK for him to take a couple of the small shoots.  So when the landlord came on Tuesday, we walked through the yard and I asked about the shoots.  Our property-owner said, “No” and went on to explained that he believed that if you dig up a shoot the tree from which it came from would die.  He continued to say that it might sound weird but that is what they believe. 
I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I almost laughed.  My first thought was, how ridiculous, “Your belief is silly.”  Science can easily demonstrate that the tree would not die.  But as I have spent more time considering what was said it occurred to me that throughout history man has had some pretty ridiculous beliefs.  Jesus followers living in a non-Christian culture need to be prepared to hear some pretty peculiar beliefs.  Do we laugh?  Do we argue and explain them away?  Or do we carefully consider how we interject the real and living God into our relationships?