Say What?

Communication is hard.

It took me a solid four minutes to settle on that first sentence. I typed a few initial sentences out only to highlight and delete them seconds later. I even went back and changed a few words in that previous sentence before writing this one. And now I am writing this sentence in an attempt to explain to you just how difficult good communication can be.

Clear and helpful communication takes times and effort.

We all have a lot of words floating around in our heads. And most of us, are able to put those words together into a coherent string of sentences in order to communicate a specific point or idea. The problem, however, is that sometimes what we say is not what we mean. And what people hear is not always what was intended.

Years ago, I was with some friends in a tea shop in Prague. There was a wide variety of loose leaf teas on display behind the counter and, after deliberation, I had made up my mind, I wanted the Early Grey. I walked up to the clerk, who still had not said one word to my friends and me, and I began to order.

But at the exact moment I opened my mouth I realized three things.

First, I wasn’t actually sure how to order loose leaf tea. Did I order a container? A bag? What wording should I use?

Second, I didn’t know if the clerk spoke English or not. Should I try to speak Czech and make a fool out of myself?

Third, if I did make a fool out of myself I knew my friends would mercilessly make fun of me.

I panicked. What I wanted to communicate was… “excuse me, do you speak English? If so, I would like to purchase some tea. However, I am unsure of how it comes packaged. Can you please assist me?”

What actually came out of my mouth was, “Um, how do I tea?”

The clerk looked at me strangely, and I quickly recovered with, “I’m so sorry. Do you speak English?”

Her response, “Yes. Do you?”

Now, that’s a funny example of bad communication, but at that moment there wasn’t all that much at stake. However, there is always something at stake when we communicate with spouses, our children, friends, co-workers, and bosses.

It is important for us to communicate well, especially when there is a problem or frustration that needs to be addressed. When we have a difficulty with someone, we show that we care about them by being conscientious with our communication.

So here are four principles of communication that can be found in the Bible. I must state that these initial principles or rules are not original with me. I simply am passing on what I have learned from others, and hopefully, you can pass it on as well.

Four Principles of Communication

Found in Ephesians 4:25-32

1- Be Honest -found in verse 25

There are three ways that this rule can be broken:

An outright lie -Yes, this includes “white” lies.

Deception -Not telling the whole truth or intentionally misleading.

Avoidance -Not talking about the issue because it is hard to deal with.

2- Keep Current -found in verse 26

Deal with the issue or situation immediately, or at least as soon as feasibly possible. Stop what you are doing and devote time to figuring it out. Don’t let things fester.

3- Attack the Problem, Not the Person -found in verse 29

Attacking the person gets you off topic and brings up other issues you haven’t yet dealt with. Usually, you end up saying something out of emotion that you really don’t mean. Also, avoid using absolutes. “You always…” “You never…” Absolutes normally are untrue and unfair.

4- Act Biblically- Don’t React -found in verses 31-32

Act in a way that honors God and the other person. Avoid reacting to situations. Think through the situation, then act in a way that is consistent with how God has called you to live.

 

Priceless

How much is a single human life worth?

How much is the life of a stranger worth? How much is a life of a “bad guy” worth? How about the life of a celebrity? What about the life of someone from that country or region? How much are their lives worth? How much is your life worth?

They all have the same answer.

Priceless.

I’m sure we all have read many history books that describe the “dark days” of civilization. Back when human life was viewed as cheap, and atrocities were commonplace. Unfortunately, for millions of people worldwide, those dark days are not just history, but a present reality. The human race isn’t as sophisticated as many would like to think.

Today, many of us will be waking up, drinking our coffee, checking social media on our pocket screens, and going about our normal everyday lives.

At the same time…

Today, many others will be waking up in slavery. Today, many others will not be waking up at all. Today, many others will decide that their lives are worthless and will choose to end them. Today, many babies will die and never be allowed to see the light of day.

It is incredibly hard to think of these things. The rush of emotions is a combination of heartbreak, sorrow, bitterness, anger, numbness, despair, and outrage.

But then there is hope.

There is a God who listens when the oppressed cry out and He rescues them when they call upon His name. (Psalm 107:6)

There is a God who created each and every one of us in His image. A priceless work of art. (Gen. 1:26)

There is a God who left heaven in order to save the helpless and hopeless. (Romans 5:6)

There is a God who offers unrestricted hope. (1 Peter 1:3-6)

There is a God who offers life. (John 14:6)

So many people in our world have proclaimed with their words and actions that life is cheap, meaningless, and in many cases just plain worthless.

We must be louder. Our message that life is precious must be uncompromised and unrelenting. Because that is God’s message. Life is so precious to Him that Jesus laid His own life down in order to ensure that others could have it.

So, what do we do? What do we do with the fact that tens of millions of people are being trafficked every day? What do we do with the fact that over 20 million babies have been killed since January? What do we do with the fact that suicide seems to be such a normal thing that there are now T.V. shows that glorify it? What can we do?

We can love our neighbors. (Matthew 19:19, Luke 10:25-37)

We can speak up against injustices. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

We can be a reflection of our Savior. (Romans 12:2, Matthew 5:13-16)

We can pray. (1 John 5:14-15, Matthew 5:44, Philippians 4:6)

We can remind people that God has made them and sees them as priceless.

 

If you need help, or if anyone you know who needs help, please check out these websites below.

https://needhim.org/

http://pricelessmovement.com/

http://anthemofhope.org/

Allergy Season at its Best

I have a confession. I have seasonal allergies.

Ok, if you have been around me at all during the Springtime then you know that wasn’t much of a confession.

The Spring and Fall have caused me to be a mouth breather for about as long as I can remember. (However, on the plus side, as I have gotten older the Fall side of things hasn’t been quite as bad as it was when I was a kid…so yay?)

A little less than a year ago I went to an Allergist to check what exactly I was allergic to and also to find out what I could do about it. The doctor confirmed that I actually wasn’t allergic to much, but that what I was allergic to I was really allergic to. He also confirmed that the few things that I had reacted to manifested themselves most during the Spring and Fall.

I remember saying, “Ok, I kind of knew that already. So, what can I do about it? How can we cure this?” I was looking for some sort of pill, shot, or miracle.

His answer was annoying, profound, and completely spot on.

“The best, and only real, way to be cured is to stay away from the things that make you sick.”

That statement, while easier said than done, is still some of the best advice I have heard.

The doctor then explained to me what causes allergies. He went on to use a bunch of fancy words that I can’t remember, but I was still able to get the sense of it.

It wasn’t necessarily the ragweed itself that caused my symptoms, it was how my body responded to the allergen. My immune system sees certain “triggers” as threats and works extra hard to expel them from my body. The results are sniffling and sneezing. To quote Switchfoot, “The sickness is myself.”

I have been thinking a lot about that conversation with the doctor lately. And while I can’t avoid Spring, I do think that his words are still some of the wisest I’ve heard.

“The best, and only real, way to be cured is to stay away from the things that make you sick.” It doesn’t just apply to allergies.

There are many things in life that make us sick. There are many things in our lives that are harmful to us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While I know that we cannot just simply gate ourselves off and avoid them all, that’s not typically how life works, I do think that we should make efforts to avoid our “triggers.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to abstain, or flee, from every kind of evil.

2 Timothy 2:22-23 instructs us to flee from youthful passions and lusts and to “have nothing to do with” foolish debates that cause quarrels. Instead, Paul says, to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.”

And Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The best way to avoid the consequences of sin is to avoid sin.

We become emotionally and spiritually congested when we try to work life out on our own strength and in our own way. The awesome thing is, that God knows that we are sick. He knows what harms us and He has given us the cure. Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we can be healed from all that ails us. We must put our trust in Him.

But even after we trust in Jesus we still have a tendency to run back to our “allergens.” We still tend to grasp at the very things that make us sick. We need to avoid them.

But we can only truly avoid them with God’s help.

He can and will give you the strength to make it through your “allergy season.” But you need to talk with Him. Agree with Him that you are in need of rescuing, admit that you cannot do it on your own, thank Him that Jesus made a way for you, trust Him to guide you, and actually listen to and follow Him.

As the writer of Hebrews puts it- “let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…and cling to Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith.”

Ok, time to blow my nose for the 10,000 time today.