Guest Post: Five Big No No’s in Communication

iphone.png

This post was written by Pastor Harley Snode and posted at his website. I appreciate him agreeing to allow me to guest post this thought provoking article. 


Would you agree that our communication skills are slipping at an alarming rate toward the grammatical gutter?  The trends of the “Communication Age” are not just concerning on an academic or social level but also on a moral and spiritual level.  I recently read, “Your thumbs are your new tongue. Guard them carefully. When they are used a lot, trouble is sure to follow.” 

Jesus, our Savior and Lord who still makes the verbal rules, admonishes us, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63)

May I provide you with five never-valid modes of profitless communication with your thumbs, lips, or even non-verbal communication:

Exaggeration-a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is.

Pathology: Frequently employs one hundred percent statements (“always, never”); Distorts the positive/negative attributes without including the offsetting characteristics or clarifying context of other data points; Driven with one-upmanship toward peers at home, work, church, etc.; Comparison is king

Consequences: Loss of credibility; Doing ministry and spiritual activity for the wrong motivations; Breaking with reality; Deceived into doing the opposite with personal sin-diminishing/excusing it away; Not allowing Christ alone to be the source of identity, acceptance, success (Do you know that it is impossible to exaggerate when speaking exclusively of Christ?!?!)

This exploding expression in our post-modern culture has led to a proclivity to propagate and accept “fake news” that fits our predisposed bias.  (We not only widely accept grammatical errors in our texting; we also tolerate and embrace fudged figures and skewed facts more readily than ever before.)

Pessimism-a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.

Pathology: Savors and shares any juicy story that reveals the underbelly of a celebrity, politician, or organization; Remains aloof and “analytical” where one should be engaged and participatory; Deflects from own weaknesses by redirecting the spotlight to the shortcomings of others; Trolling for “gotcha” content online

Consequences: Constantly living in a reactionary mode; Consumed with fear; Constantly possessing a critical, cynical spirit; Inability to share meaningful, intimate connection with other people; Lost opportunities to edify others; A dim, despondent view of the future that leaves God out of the equation

This verbal trend leads to our default, valid position always being negative instead of the peace-giving bias toward a “good report” (Ph. 4:6-8).

Sarcasm-the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Pathology: Using so-called humor to communicate caustic truth; Indifference to the backstory of other’s mistakes/failures; Jumping to conclusions or assumptions in a reckless manner; A pervasive focus upon making others feel stupid; Thriving on “awkward”

Consequences: Inability to hold a serious conversation or consider serious subject matter; Squandering verbal ability with meaningless banter; Immaturity in tone and pace of conversation; Digressing into a person with zero influence (Reasonable people ultimately tune this tone out.)

The bottom line is, as my high school English teacher Mrs. Donough repeatedly put it, “Sarcasm is not an effective means of communication.” (This is especially true for those of us who possess a God-given “pulpit” of public influence.)

Passive Aggression-indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

(Before we go on, I must clarify that I have NOBODY as the mental profile picture beside each or all of these on the list.  Therefore this is not a passive-aggressive post toward someone indirectly.)

Pathology: Speaks to everybody except the person with whom there is a problem; Posts vague references of criticism on online hoping for third-party sympathy and goaded retaliation from the person being indirectly attacked; Studies to be adept at “pushing the buttons” that evoke strong, negative emotions in others

Consequences: Squandering excessive amounts of time hoping to garner sympathy or drama that rarely materializes; Never addressing/resolving conflicts; A growing inability to have direct dialogue with other people; Shrinking numbers of people to whom you can still approach in real time and space and have sweet fellowship; Can only focus on the loud chinks in the armor of others

This is a blight upon the local church today…especially through the enabling of social media where everyone has a voice-a voice to attack issues and people for which they have no responsibility or influence.  (If you cannot be a part of the solution, you have no business speaking on the problem!)

Stream of Consciousness-a literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue.

Obviously social media has unleashed this verbal tendency into a constant temptation with instantaneous access to the world.  (This trend is especially embodied by many of our leaders today in politics, entertainment, sports, etc.)

Pathology: Unfiltered emotions spewing out; Immediate, reactionary thoughts online or in person (“thinking out loud”); Discussing in public forums what should be reserved for private reflection; Unwillingness to be still and quiet; Way to much volume (in amount and decibel levels) of talk,talk, talk

Consequences: Regret about words that can never be taken back; Unnecessary/unproductive drama with complete strangers or expired relationships from the past; Expression of underdeveloped, immature content that discourages or misleads others; Flippant interaction/sharing with crude or inappropriate content

The most sobering reality of “just speaking my mind” is that it eliminates any sacred space for the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly or the Spirit of God to saturate our soul-all that is left is carnal consciousness!

You can like or dislike this post, agree or disagree but…listen to what Jesus has to say:

Mt 12:32-33 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

And we honestly think they’re “only words” and “don’t matter?”  Nothing God-honoring was or ever will be built with exaggeration, pessimism, sarcasm, passive-aggression, or stream of consciousness!  Ever!  (They will always be faulty building materials no matter how normalized they become.)  I give you permission to confront me if you hear a single syllable online or in person where my communication wanders into one of these five no nos.  Will you grant that same permission to the Lord, your spouse, your pastor, your mentor, even your children/grandchildren?  It is time to elevate our God-given ability from the world’s pig pen of meaningless chatter to the propagation of the grace and truth that is found only in Jesus Christ!

What other verbal tendencies do you observe that we need to nix in our progressive sanctification?

Commitments for Great Marriages

blog post

Recently my wife and I were having a conversation with some friends about marriages that have fallen apart. It saddens all of us to hear of family members, co-workers or friends who once enjoyed a happy marriage but now are experiencing the heartbreak of a broken marriage. Over this past year, I have had a front-row seat on both marriages that broke apart and that have been restored. For certain, there are few things more heartbreaking to me than to see a man and a woman, who had once stood at a wedding altar and vowed to be committed to each other until death would part them, parting in life. There is so much heartache, hurt and tears. Many observe these type of situations and a say, that will never happen to us! Believe me, I hope and pray it does not! However, maintaining a growing, close, open, committed marriage takes more than mere intentions and words. It takes work! What are some commitments you and I need to to make and keep in order to have great marriages?

Commitment to Jesus:

Genesis chapter two records for us the first marriage. It was designed by God. It was really great! God designed marriages as being between one man and one woman. Though society has redefined this, it does not change was is naturally and Biblically true. Many trying to make marriage work apart from God, but it was never intended to work without Him. One man said it this way, “If you want to be a good spouse, be a good Christian first.” Those who are in love with Jesus and His Word make the best spouses. Are you committed to Jesus about everything else in life—your dreams, your jobs, your family, your spouse? Who or what holds the highest place in your life? It needs to be Jesus! Does His Word have first place in your daily life? Do you prioritize serving Him by serving others in your church family? Do you demonstrate first love to by loving His followers and assembling with them? Are you committed to responding to His preached word with determined steps of growth. A lack of commitment to Jesus will always produce struggles in our marriages.

Commitment to Your Vows:

Do you remember standing at the wedding altar and saying something like this to your spouse? “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto pledge myself to you.”  That is a serious vow! God says it this way in the Bible, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:5)  We should not enter vows with a mindset that we can break them if we change our mind or times get rough. If divorce is an option in your mind before you make the vow, then you should not make the vow. In fact, the word divorce ought be erased from your marriage vocabulary. Remain committed to your vows by the grace of God.

Commitment to Making it Better:

There are some marriages that remain “committed” to their vows in the strictest sense, but are cold. There is friction, years of unresolved differences, emotional baggage, little communication, fear of transparency and the list could go on. Publicly, the marriage is together, but privately it is not really twogether.  Great marriages do not just happen, they are diligently built and maintained. Marriages need regular investments. What will you do in the near future to make your marriage even better? One of the reasons my wife and I host a couples retreat is that we desire to help couples make their marriages better. There is room for improvement in every marriage, including mine. I encourage you to make it better!

Can you think of some other commitments that should be made in our marriages? I would love to hear what you think in the comments below! If you are struggling in your marriage, there is hope! God is able to do what we think is humanly impossible. Please seek counsel from your pastor. If you have been divorced, please know, that God love you no matter what and still has a beautiful plan for your life. While God hates divorce, He does not hate you! You can find all the healing you will ever need in seeking Jesus with all your heart. 

Also, I would like to invite you to join my wife and I at our church’s annual Couples Retreat on March 22-23, 2019, you can find out more about it here.  We pray that it would be a blessing to you!

 

In the Valley

We’ve all had a cold before. No big deal…right!? Unless you are five weeks old. This week has been a bit of a roller coaster for my wife and I and many who know us. As I write this, I am sitting at Children’s looking at my little girl hooked up with oxygen and monitoring wires. Earlier this week she was diagnosed with RSV. I have visited people who had their children in the hospital with this, but none of our children have had it. It is really quite scary.

We have been in the hospital three different times over this week. The first two times we were sent home because it was not bad enough for the doctor to admit her. We understood and did our best to follow instruction and care for her.

Earlier today, after having been up all night with her, it got worse…much worse. She was having a very difficult time breathing because of all the congestion. We decided to take her in for a third time. She was admitted to ICU and placed under good care.

Sheila and I were sitting here talking about the things that God allows into our lives. I commented how that this past Wednesday night I mentioned in my sermon that God often teaches us to pray as we go through difficult times. Even as a said that, I wondered what He would bring us through in order to learn to depend on Him in a greater way.

I simply write these thoughts to convey how good our God is while He allows us to go through valleys and leads us to greater dependance on Him.

I am reminded of this thought: I heard some time ago that anything that leads me to God is a good thing. This certainly makes sense in light of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Never a Waste

Not A Waste

The recent news about the death of Charles Wesco, missionary to Cameroon, has gripped the hearts of hundreds of thousands across the world. We are all deeply impacted by the life of one who was fully committed to Christ. Charles and his wife, Stephanie, had spent years of praying, planning and preparing to move to Cameroon. They had raised prayer and financial support from many churches. Charles and his family were just settling into missionary work. He had only enjoyed only one Sunday with the Cameroonian believers. Seemingly, he had yet to do a great work for God. In an instant, his call, dream and vision were cut short. One of the questions I have heard from honest, wondering observers is, “Was it a waste?”

So, was his dying a waste? From a human, temporal perspective, it does seem like a waste of all that preparation, potential and passion. However, from a divine, eternal perspective, no life fully surrendered to God and His service is a waste. The life that is engaged in Christ’s mission is never a waste. The life that brings glory to God by making Him known is never a waste. The life that serves God with no reserves is never a waste. In fact, we have Jesus’ word on it.

Mark 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

Those who desperately try to rescue their lives from every distress, danger and discomfort will surely lose it. While the person who willing gives up their life to follow Christ and His mission will certainly save it. Truthfully, living life as a fully committed follower of Christ saves us from the tragedy of a wasted life. I have been deeply touched by the death of Charles Wesco. I am thankful to have known a man in this generation that has so clearly demonstrated this truth. Charles’ life is not a loss, but a grand success. He died in the center of God’s will doing what God had called him to do. Because of that, God will see to it, that both his life and death impact hearts for eternity now and for years to come.


Related Messages Preached

Not A Waste Sermon Graphic
Not A Waste

What is Your Life-Sermon Graphic
What Is Your Life

Living for eternity
Living for Eternity by Charles Wesco

He is the Antithesis

Untitled design.pngDeuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them:  for  the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Thoseare some very reassuring words! God wanted Israel to stop being fearful of their enemies and to  depend and act upon His promises. He wanted them to wholeheartedly trust that He would always be present, He would never let them down and that He would never abandon them. While people have the potential of forsaking us and letting us down, our God does not. God has not changed since He made this promise.  Do you remember that Jesus is always the same? Always. Always! ALWAYS!
What are you fearing today? Did you know that God knew  we would struggle with fear? As the loving Heavenly Father, He tells us how to deal with our fears.  He does not merely tell us to stop fearing, but promises that He is the antithesis to all our fears.
We fear:
  • To embrace the will of God for our life…God is the One Who is going to go with you.
  • That our employer, our national leaders, our health, our retirement may fail us…God has never and will never fail you.
  • That those we love or invest in might forsake us…God will never forsake you.
May God give you strength and courage as you trust in Him today!

Instruction, Law and Wisdom

sun-trees.jpg

Disobedience, rebellion and stubbornness is nothing new. From the earliest pages of the Bible the pattern or not listening to a father’s instruction was demonstrated. Adam and Eve neglected to follow the instruction of God and by their disobedience, sin entered creation. Not long after, we see Cain follow suit and disregard the instruction of God and likely his father concerning the required sacrifice for sin. The storyline of refusing instruction repeats time and time again throughout history.

Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, And chains about thy neck.” Let’s take note of a truth and pattern that ought be applied by dads, moms, sons and daughters.

A Father’s Instruction

Here is first plea of the father in the book of Proverbs. King Solomon implores his son, Rehoboam, to hear instruction. Notice that it is the father who gives the instruction here. Fathers are responsible for the moral instruction of their children. If it does not happen in the home, dads are to blame. Though Solomon gave the instruction, Sadly, Rehoboam did not hear it and his rule as king was marked by foolish decisions. What an awful mess he made! Though characterized by a lawless spirit, the world has little use for the one who refuses instruction. Whether an earthly child or a child of God, the one who hears the father’s instruction will find great benefit. Hearing instruction in order to understand and act on it will be as a special decoration to their life.

A Mother’s Law

Children are commanded to adhere to the mothers law. Here the mother is seen as reinforcing the father’s instruction. Many times in home there is much frustration because mothers are left to bear the responsibility of giving the moral instructions. The absent themselves from the leadership role God has given to them. Fathers should be careful to remember that the must lead out in instructing while mothers ought be mindful to reinforce that instruction. Parenting is a team effort.

A Child’s Response

Instruction should always be heard in order that it might be followed. It is the responsibility of children to hear instruction and to embrace the rules given by their parents. The worldly experts and show hosts tell us that parents must not restrict them from expressing their individual personalities. Telling them “No” will damage their self-esteem. Providing them with reasonable consequences for disobedience is looked at as passé. This humanistic philosophy has been promoted for several generations resulting the rise in rebellious, lawless and violent behavior that fills the headlines. This problem starts back the breakdown of the foundation, structure and in homes.

How desperately we need a return of dads and moms hearing God’s instruction, dads instruction their child, mothers reinforcing that instruction and children hear and embracing this instruction. Imagine what a difference this would make.


Listen to a related sermon