What Are You Saying?

How would our lives change if we regularly spoke positive truths into our hearts and minds instead of allowing ourselves to meditate on and talk about all that’s wrong with the world?.png

I have a confession to make—I talk to myself. Yes, it’s true. I regularly carry on conversations with myself. Most of the time, the discussions take place inside my head, but occasionally, the words spill out of my mouth. I guess it’s a good thing the only one to witness my crazy behavior is Barnabas.

I have a feeling, though, I’m not the only one talking to herself. Am I right? We all tend to run ideas around in our head and talk them through with ourselves. And that’s not a bad thing as long as the self-talk is positive.

Unfortunately, most of what I have to say to myself and about myself is negative. I complain about things. I berate myself for making a mistake or forgetting an important task. I bemoan my lack of discipline and criticize my valiant efforts.  I am my own worst enemy, and I often forget the power of words.

In Joel 3, the Scriptures describe a battle and a day of judgment. God is calling out all of those who have stood against Israel down through the ages and is issuing a challenge to them. He urges them to prepare for war, and notice what He says in verse 10:

Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
— Joel 3:10

The first half of the verse seems logical. If you’re preparing for war, one of the most important things you need to do is ready your weapons. That’s just common sense. But note the latter half of the verse: “Let the weak say, I am strong.” That, my friends, is positive self-talk, and God Himself recommended the armies use this tactic before going to war. For them, it would do little good because they were acting against God instead of with Him, but for us, this tactic could change our lives.

I’m not talking about being vain or arrogant. No, I’m suggesting we speak the truth as God sees it rather than our warped perception of life. Most days, I do well to get by physically, and I don’t praise myself for my strength because I don’t see strength. I see weakness. I feel pain. And I comment on these things. But I have forgotten that Philippians 4:13 tells me, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. With Christ working in and through me, I am strong.

Let the weak say, “I am strong.”

Let the ugly say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Let the confused say, “The Lord directs my steps.”

Let the weary say, “The Lord is my refuge and my strength.”

Let the anxious say, “My times are in God’s hands.”

How would our lives change if we regularly spoke positive truths into our hearts and minds instead of allowing ourselves to meditate on and talk about all that’s wrong with the world? I dare say we would be happier, healthier, and more peaceful.

God’s battle plan for these soldiers involved preparing their weapons and preparing their hearts and minds for battle by strengthening their resolve with words. I wonder if that’s why military commanders often give motivational speeches before setting off to war. It makes sense. Friends, every day for the Christian is a battle. We are in a war against Satan, the powers of this world, and our flesh. God has provided us with our armor and weapons (Ephesians 6), and He’s even given us the guidebook for our positive self-talk. The Bible holds all the truth we will ever need.

I must stop putting myself down. I’m defeating myself in the battle before the enemy even has the chance to take a swing at me. With my negative thoughts and conversations, I’m setting myself up for failure and defeat. It’s time for me to remember that I hold the power of life and death, and that power resides in my tongue. May I use it wisely!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
— Proverbs 18:21

Worse Than a Four-Letter Word - A Repost

We mustguard againstthe dangerousthree-letterword,.png

Why do they call cuss words four-letter words? I mean, not all cuss words are four-letter words. A lot of them, sure, but not all. Besides a lot of good words in the English language are four-letter words. For example, "good" is a four-letter word, as is "four" and "word." Am I the only one baffled by this terminology?

I guess it doesn't matter right now though because the word I want to discuss is a three-letter word. But be warned! This three-letter word is dangerous. It can wreak havoc in our lives. And unfortunately, it's used too frequently in the nasty now and now. Okay, I'm about to tell you what it is, but before I do, you may want to plug your child's ears (or perhaps the dog's). I don't want to be a bad influence.

Ready? The word is "but." Yep, that's it. It looks innocent enough. Just a common little conjunction. What harm could it possibly do? Read the following examples and see if you can figure it out:

I know smoking is bad for me, but it makes me feel better, at least temporarily.

I know I shouldn't eat this piece of chocolate cake, but I've had a hard day.

I know this isn't the best decision, but I'm just tired of trying to figure it out.

I know God's promises are true, but I don't see Him working in this situation.

I know I have a loving wife at home, but my secretary understands me.

I know I should read my Bible more, but I don't have the time.

Whether the situation is big or small, the word "but" seems to make our excuses permissible. We know what's right, but we still do what's wrong. And for some reason, we act like it's okay because we know better. How messed up is that? It's not better; it's worse. The Bible says so.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
— James 4:17

It doesn't get any clearer. If we know to do right, and we don't do it, we're sinning against God. No "ifs", "ands", and especially no "buts."

The Lord brought this to my attention a few weeks ago, and I've not been able to shake the lesson. Every time I catch myself using the word "but," I force myself to go back and examine the sentence. More times than not, I've found that I use the word to justify my fleshly desires. Then I have to seek forgiveness and proceed with my day, doing those things I should do and not the things I shouldn't. It's convicting; there's no doubt about it. But at the same time, I feel like a new person. I feel like I have more control over my thoughts and attitudes. Why? Because I'm not excusing them anymore. I'm dealing with them appropriately. It's refreshing.

Yes, we must watch out for those four-letter words, but some of those three-letter varieties will get us in just as much trouble. Remember the old children's song, "Oh be careful, little mouth, what you say"? Might it be time for us to practice what we preach?

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to walk (another four-letter word) my dog. I would say I'm looking forward to it, but. . .well, never mind.

I apologize for not having the audio to today’s post. It seems my head cold has shifted to my chest, and my voice is not cooperating today. Lord willing, it will clear up by tomorrow, and I’ll have audio for you again. Thanks for understanding!

Ssh! Did You Hear That?

Even our falling tears make a joyful sound when they're accompanied by the proper attitude..png
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.
— Numbers 12:1-2

I believe the last sentence in verse two has to be one of the most comforting and yet convicting statements of all time.  And the Lord heard it.  For Moses, this was a comfort.  Such was not the case, however, for Miriam and Aaron.  God heard what was being said about his faithful servant, and He wasn't pleased.  In fact, he punished Miriam and Aaron for their disrespect toward Moses and basically told them that they needed to shut their mouths because they didn't know what they were talking about.

I think it all boiled down to jealousy.  Notice the envy in their question, "Is God only speaking through you?  What about us?  Aren't we just as important?"  With attitudes like that, no, you're not!  The Bible tells us that Moses was meek.  To my knowledge, that term is never associated with either Miriam or Aaron.  But that's another story for another time.

For today, let's focus on the fact that God hears.  He hears each broken heart, each desperate plea, each mournful sigh and each falling tear.  And in that respect, it's such a comfort to know that He hears.  What a blessing to comprehend that He hears our unspoken prayers, those disjointed sentences that we simply can't seem to piece together.  He hears the words that hurt too much to utter.  He hears and understands it all.  What a joy!

On the other hand, He does hear and understand ALL.  That means He hears our complaints and groanings.  He hears our accusations and hurtful words.  He hears our sarcasm and cynicism.  He hears our gossip and ridicule.  And the scariest part of all is that we don't even have to say it for Him to hear it.  We need only think it, and He hears.

How can something be such a blessing and such a curse all at the same time.  Well, truth be told, it needn't be a curse.  We need only take a lesson from Moses and adopt an attitude of meekness.  The word "meekness" means quiet strength, humility, submission, obedience.  Isn't that what we're supposed to be anyway?  Humble, submitted to God and His will.  When we are, we will have no fear of what God may be hearing from us, for it will all be good.  Even our falling tears make a joyful sound when they're accompanied by the proper attitude.

As you go about your day today, I implore you to think about what God may be hearing from you.  Does He hear praise and worship or pity and complaints?  Does He hear good things or bad?  And remember, He can even hear what is unsaid, so keep an eye on your thoughts as well.  After all, if we're thinking about it, it won't be long before those thoughts find an outlet.  

God is always listening.  What kind of sounds are coming from you?