How it Begins…

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 26:20-21,

Without wood a fire goes out

Without gossip a quarrel dies down

As charcoal to embers and wood to fire

So is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife

Today’s blog post is by Hazel Campbell,

Who said she did that?  Not sure!

And so my friend that’s how it began. No one knew the source, but everyone heard the story and willingly passed it on. The investigation proved it wrong. Gossip, slander, backbiting, whispers and unfounded assumptions are the pitfalls against which the verses above are set to warn us. Whether in the church, or among our families, or in society, the effects of these words are the same DISCORD. The common saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never’ is just false. Gossips (words) have brought down empires, kings, rulers and even create contentious environments in churches.

A recent report revealed that 60% of all adult conversations is about someone not present!

The first known usage of the word ‘gossip’ is said to be before 1627 (Webster) and that it has gone in meaning from ‘godparent,’ ‘close friend’ to present day meaning ‘anyone, friend or not ,who shares the secret of others’  Why do we engage in such a destructive act? To gain friendships; add importance to ourselves; jealousy; for others to see us more pure or holy?

Or, is it that we are expressing a heart condition?

I invite you to join me, just for a moment, and walk in the shoes of someone who is being gossiped about. There is pain – dreadful pain. He or she feels hated, is discouraged, feels friendless, lonely, helpless.  He or she is swabbing wounds that are unseen to the eye. Is this a place for our neighbor to reside peacefully?

Tempted ever to gossip! Make the choice instead to recall Proverbs Ch. 17:9, “He that covers a transgression seeks love, but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.”

 

 

Leave Her Alone!

Today’s blog post is by Monica Hidalgo, Traditional Worship Director…

I remember saying those words when I saw her being made fun of and ridiculed at youth group. I saw that she was kind of weird; her style of clothing, a bit socially awkward, and trying really hard to be liked. She defended herself against them.  But, I could see her starting to crumble.  I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I wanted to stand up for her.  But, I was afraid  I would be ousted from the “in” crowd, since I had worked really hard at being liked myself.

I built up the courage and, just before she burst in to tears, I said, “Leave her alone!” I put my arm around her and took her away from them.  Surprisingly, they left her alone after this.  We actually became great friends and that friendship still continues today. She often talks about how I was her only friend and thanks me for loving her in all of her “weirdness.”

At the time I honestly didn’t know that I was making a difference – I just couldn’t see her being mistreated.  I loved and accepted her for who she was. I was always taught to treat others with kindness and to help those in need.  I am so grateful for the godly examples I had in my family, that taught selflessness and love for others.

Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV remind us: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” 

King Lemuel’s mother spoke wise words to teach a King how to look out for his people and to protect those who could not protect themselves. She recognized how important it was for him to learn he should be in control, being careful of the company he kept and keeping his strength for the things that really mattered.

These words are not just for the King, but also for the reader. If we don’t take responsibility for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, then who will? We should work towards being a strength to our family, our friends, and to those who are in need. Our God is very concerned for the needs of those who don’t have as much as we do. Often times in the Bible, God uses those who have much to give to those who have little.

As Christians, we aren’t removed from this obligation. Jesus was concerned for the orphan and the widow.  They represented parts of society that were easy to forget.  In a sense, they were a burden to everyone else.  Jesus is showing us to be His hands and feet and bless people with His love and provision.

This is why we “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”   We defend the defenseless not because it’s easy, simple, friendly, fun, or popular.  Instead, we do it because we have been brought from darkness into light by the unrestrained grace of God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Who are the ones that need the most help today?  Here are few: the elderly, the intellectually disabled, the foster child, the bullied, the addict, persons with mental health issues, the needy and the hungry.  Please remember them, let’s find a way to make a difference and show the love and grace of Christ today.

Be Nice!

Today’s Scripture is from James 4:11-12 ,New International Version (NIV),
 
“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Today’s blog post is by Peter Borsella,
 
As I’ve been summer stretching with the rest of you I’ve been more focused on doing things I normally wouldn’t do, but this verse is calling me to stretch myself and stop doing something I might already be doing.
 
Does James really have to state the obvious about not speaking evil of each other?  Yes, I suppose in the same way “do not murder” is obvious.  God knows my heart and knows I need to hear these instructions anyway, particularly since Jesus told us that if I have hatred in my heart I’m just as much a murderer as the one who acts on it (see Matt 5:21-22).
 
James is addressing us as brothers and sisters, which means he’s speaking to we who are already part of God’s family, connected together through Christ, all living with the same Holy Spirit inside of us.  And yet, like little children we have to be told by our Father not to bad-mouth each other and “be nice.”
 
Even more convicting is the idea that when we speak ill of each other we are not honoring Christ’s message of love and unity, and, we are taking God’s place in judging each other.  Our words have the power to help unite us together or divide us against each other.
 
Sometimes slandering is hiding under gossip about someone.  I do this.
Sometimes backbiting is hiding under complaints about someone.  I do this, way too much.
Sometimes bad-mouthing is hiding under anger when we’ve been wronged by another.  I do this, too.
 
As Christ’s body we are called this day to love each other in unity, not harm each other in judgement. 
Today, I will be nice.

Hypocrisy: Guilty Condemning the Guilty

Today’s Scripture is Matthew 7:1-5 (NCV),

Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.

Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye”? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.

Today’s blog post is by Rita Bewry…

To judge” means “to condemn.” An earthly judge is given authority to condemn (pronounce judgement on) after hearing evidence in support of or against an accused.

Judgement under God’s Law is not delegated to anyone. God gave the Law, and He alone is its enforcer, because only He is uniquely qualified to judge righteously. God is without sin; He knows the facts because He is all-seeing and all-knowing; He is impartial, and He cannot be bought. Why then, does anyone on earth presume to be qualified to judge on moral issues.  All humanity has rebelled against God’s laws, and have been declared guilty before God – the guilty condemning the guilty, is hypocrisy.

We are also known to be harsh judges of people for non-moral reasons, such as outward appearance, race, culture and personal choices. This kind of judgement relies on stereotypes and other dehumanizing standards that have nothing to do with the worth of an individual. God must be particularly miffed when people-groups, as well as individuals, rather than celebrating the shared humanity of all His creatures, choose instead to be separate from, indifferent to, and belittling of others. Do we not get that God is not a boring God? That diversity is His idea?  There is work to be done. Breaking down barriers between individuals and groups must be a function of the church that is achieving God’s purposes in the world.

Although we are commanded not to judge; Jesus did not forbid His followers from making objective judgements. We are called to be discerning in order to distinguish between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood. In fact, we are encouraged to correct someone who is in error: hence Gal. 6:1Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.” Of course, Christ would nudge us to pray for the revelation of our own sin and for forgiveness, before undertaking such a mission.

 

Loose Lips…

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 20:19…

“A gossip can never keep a secret.  Stay away from people who talk too much.” 

Today’s blog post is by Michelle Musselman…

When I first read the verse for this blog, I thought, “Well, that’s obvious.” Actually there are many verses in the bible regarding gossip (and the tongue). Google it.  Plain and simple – it’s a sin, don’t do it.

A gossip is defined as a person who often talks about the private details of other people’s lives.  No one wants to be called a gossip, but if we are honest, we probably all gossip somewhere along the way. Gossip can be the intentional, devious, destructive passing of personal information, true or not, to others.  It can also be the flippant comment or the unintentional casual conversation and before you know it, someone’s life struggle, marriage, finances, choices, children are being critiqued and analyzed.  Anybody ever say this…“I just wanted you to know so that you could pray for them”?  Once our words come out of our mouths, we can’t get them back.  We have no control as to how they will be repeated or to whom.  Psalm 14:13 (ESV) says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”  

This verse is also warning us not to share personal, private, confidential things with people who have a tendency to share too much information.  (Reminds me of the saying “loose lips, sink ships”)  Once again, that seems pretty obvious.  Well, being around people who talk too much makes it very easy to “learn” information about others…juicy tidbits, the latest news.  Listening may seem innocent, but information whether accurate or not has the ability to change us.  Information about others can change the way we see them, change the way we think about them, change the way we treat them, change what we say about them – giving us the potential of becoming the gossip.  Matthew 12:36 says “You can be sure that on Judgement Day you will have to give account for every useless word you have ever spoken.”  Yikes!

Silver Boxes

Today’s Scripture is Ephesians 4:29-30 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Today’s blog post is by Annje Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant…

I grew up in a household where unwholesome talk was the norm, but somehow I knew if I said any one of those words or phrases I would get my mouth washed out with soap. (That did happen on occasion.) However, I remember more vividly the unkind words spoken to me by my family. The kind of words that cut you to your core. The words you can never forget. The ones that make you feel insignificant, unwanted, and unworthy.

Later, in my teen years, my mom read a book called “Silver Boxes: The Encouragement Gift,” by Florence Littauer. She gave me an empty box wrapped in pretty silver paper with a poem called “Silver Boxes,” by Michael Bright attached to it. The teenager that I was, wasn’t having it. An empty box was no apology for all the hurtful things she had said to me growing up. Years later I realized that was the only way she knew how to apologize. I now wish I still had that silver box. Thanks to Google I can find the poem:

“My words were harsh and hasty

And they came without a thought.

Then I saw the pain and anguish

That my bitter words had brought.

Bitter words that I had spoken

Made me think back through the past;

Of how many times I’d uttered

Biting words whose pain would last.

Then I wondered people

I had hurt by things I’d said;

All the ones I had discouraged

When I didn’t use my head.

Then I thought about my own life.

Of painful words I’ve heard;

And of the times I’d been discouraged

By a sharp and cruel word.

And now clearly I remember

All the things I might have done;

But, by a word I was discouraged

And they never were begun.

Lord, help my words be silver boxes.

Neatly wrapped up with a bow;

That I give to all so freely,

As through each day I gladly go.

Silver boxes fill of treasure,

Precious gifts from God above;

That all the people I encounter

Might have a box of God’s own love.”

Michael Bright

Today I THINK before I speak:

T – is it True?

H – is it Helpful?

I – is it Inspiring?

N – is it Necessary?

K – is it Kind?

Let us all remember Ephesians 4:29-30 and use our words to build others up in God’s amazing grace and love. #welovefirst
 

 

Taming the Tongue

Today’s blog post is by Chris Linderman, Director of Youth Ministry…

When I was in high school, I was the captain of the drumline at my highschool! I took a lot of pride in this role – but, a little too much pride.

One day during our summer rehearsal, I got frustrated with a few people in our section and I tore into them with my words—words that shall not be repeated. After rehearsal that day, I took a student home. We didn’t know each other that well, but he started to talk to me about Christ. He began to tell me about his relationship with Christ. It actually felt like he was sharing the Gospel with me. I had to stop him and tell him, “Hey, I am a Christian—we are a part of the same family!” His response was unforgettable. He said “Oh, I couldn’t tell that by how you were speaking to everyone.”

At that point, I realized that how I speak to others actually matters. People are watching and listening to everything I say and do. Proverbs 18:24 says that “The tongue has power of life and death.” Our words can either build others up or can tear others down. Our words have power! We can bring a breath of life and hope to those that around us or we can bring hurt, death, and pain to others simply by our words.

James, in chapter 3, is talking about taming the tongue. It says in verse 8, “No human being can tame the tongue.” So how do we use our words to praise God one day through song and worship; and with the same mouth, use our words to hurt, gossip, and tear down those that He calls His children?

I promise, I get it; it is not easy to tame the tongue. It is not easy to not gossip. I also understand that the words that come from our lips, whether good or bad, are a reflection of what is going on in our hearts (Matt. 15:18). So here are some questions to think about:

  • What is the condition of my heart?
  • Who is influencing my life right now and how are they influencing me?
  • Who do I need to forgive?
  • How am I building others up with my words? (Eph. 4:29)

To continue this devotion, please read and meditate on Psalms 141.