What To Look For in a Single Guy

A friend was reading me a list her pastor shared of five things a guy must be in order for a Christian girl to be interested in him. It’s an excellent list! (Here’s the sermon) He likened it to a 30-foot fence the guy must climb over to be worthy of her attention. They all involve leadership and are taken from Ephesians 5. In a nutshell, the list is (with a few comments of my own):

1) Lead in love. 5:25

As Christ loved the Church – sacrificially. Biblical love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to an action on behalf of its object.

2) Lead in the Word. 5:26

Guys need to be students of the Word themselves and then make Bible study together the defining thing in their dating relationships and ultimately in marriage.

3) Protect her purity. 5:27

No pornography or sexual activity before marriage and no pornography after marriage. According to a recent survey conducted by ChristianMingle.com of singles ages 18-59, 63% said they would be willing to have sex before marriage. Guys, take the lead here by choosing to honor God and the girl by refusing to defile yourself and her.

4) Lead in selflessness. 5:28

It’s the avenue by which grace flows. The guy needs to model this by putting the girl’s needs above his own. Girls tend to devalue themselves, while guys tend to think highly of themselves. When a guy chooses selflessness, he is showing the girl how valuable she is.

5) Lead in intimacy. 5:29

Intimacy is about letting someone into your life that is not readily available to other people. The guy must let his guard down, allow the girl in, and then put up a wall that no one else can get past. Guys create an atmosphere of trust when they hang a sign on that wall that says, “No trespassing.”

God sure knows what He’s talking about.

I don’t know one genuinely godly girl who wouldn’t follow a guy like that.

Obviously, each one of those qualities is a keeper but I would like to go back and place special emphasis on one in particular because I rarely hear it addressed and even rarer still, hear that it actually happens … leading in the Word.

Guys, if you’re having your own personal Bible study time, good for you! You’re way ahead of most and God will bless you for it. But if you sincerely want to be a godly dater and eventual husband, you must translate that personal time with God into conversation and time with the girl in your life.

Way more than flowers, movies and romantic dinners … WAY more … a girl desires her guy to talk with her about God. This is likely a stretch for you but you have to learn to articulate what God means to you and what you are learning from the Bible. And to take it a step further, you absolutely must initiate times of Bible study together. It couldn’t be any clearer!

“Husbands, love your wives … cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word.”

And just because that statement is addressed to husbands doesn’t mean it excludes single guys. If you’re not doing it when you date, you won’t do it when you’re married.

I can’t tell you how many women over the years have told me through tears how deeply they desire their husbands to be the spiritual leader in their home. Why isn’t it happening? I have to believe you don’t want the woman in your life to be broken-hearted. You want her respect so are probably doing the manly things you know to do to earn that. But guys, there will always be a lack in your relationship with her if you aren’t stepping to the plate spiritually.

You want to reach a girl’s heart? Start by opening your Bible.

And girls? Don’t settle for anything less. I can hear some of you groaning through the screen, “But there aren’t any guys like that!” First of all, God is still in the business of raising his men so there have to be some. But second, and something to seriously ponder, maybe the lack is because girls have lowered the bar and let guys off the hook.

Don’t. Do. That.

Wait for the guy who will lead and love like Jesus.

 

 

Angst Junkies and Opinion Seekers

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The break I took in March from blogging and social media was quite the enlightening experience. The time I normally spend doing those things I mostly spent with God (reading and praying) and people face-to-face. It was fantastic!

I also let myself read a few blogs and emails I don’t usually take the time to read to see how some trendy, high profile people do their thing. God gave me a glimpse into something that I’m still processing but here are some comments at this point:

What I’ve had to admit, that I’ve known but tried to ignore or deny, is that a huge chunk of the Christian audience wants to read about opinions and feelings. Many of the writers, bloggers, and speakers that generate the most traffic don’t teach, train and help as much as they share their angst and thoughts about … anything.

When did that shift take place? When did Christ followers turn from a desire to learn and grow to this narcissistic, voyeuristic pursuit?

The Christian marketing world even has a hip, cool label for those who attract an audience with their feelings and opinions – “thought leader.” Shouldn’t that scare us a little bit?

When we know that the machine driving the blogs we read and the speakers we listen to is intentionally manipulating our thoughts, shouldn’t we run for the hills?

What difference should it make how I feel? Or why does anyone care what my opinion is about the latest news story? Can’t people think for themselves?

The amount of writing, reading and vitriol that spewed all over screens last week on World Vision and Noah was absurd. And I probably only caught a tiny fraction of it. Does it really matter what everybody thinks? Were those topics worth hours of precious life that can’t be regained? God gave us brains, the Bible and His smarter-than-smart Holy Spirit to figure things out for ourselves.

Of course it would be easy to attack our culture and blame things like reality TV. We’ve dumbed ourselves down. We’ve become dependent on other people. But those are symptoms of the problem.

Jesus nailed it (as He always did because He knows and is the Truth!) when He said,

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29.

And actually, that thought goes way back to Joshua …

“choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve.”

I’m not saying not to read or listen to solid, experienced Bible teachers, Scriptural communicators and people who are investing in the poor and hurting. By all means, pick a few and learn from them. But read and listen in order to learn, not wallow in emotional mire.

Who gets your best time and energy? Who gets your passions? Who controls your mind? Who is your thought leader?

The answers to those questions reveal how shallow or deep you are, and what kind of impact you can actually have in this world for Jesus Christ.

Why I’m Taking a Month Off

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On February 22, I had the privilege of speaking at Come Away. It was a day designed to provide time for and concentration on God. The busyness of life and the constant attention to techie devices makes it challenging to hear God, to focus on Him, to make room for Him in our minds and hearts so we took a break from “normal.” It was a fantastic day!

As I was driving home, talking to God about what an amazing event it had been, He impressed on me that it was my turn to come away with Him but not just for a day – for the month of March.

One of my favorite pictures in the Bible is of Moses going up on Mount Sinai to meet with God. A cloud covered the top of the mountain and God’s glory settled on it. His glory looked like a consuming fire.

“Then Moses entered the cloud as he went up on the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

I’ve been captivated by that story since I was a little girl. Wondering what that was like for Moses and wanting so desperately to experience God that way.

So I’m unplugging from most of my online stuff for the next few weeks as well as changing some other things. God wants my attention and I want to be with Him. I’m not expecting a cloud and fire, although that would make an awesome blog post, but I am expecting Him to fill and guide me.

I admit to being somewhat fearful at first. Taking a whole month off might mean I lose ministry opportunities. Gasp! The sad truth is … publishers look at a writer’s social media numbers before they even read the manuscript. Event planners want to know how wide a speaker’s influence is before even hearing him/her speak.

“What if I lose followers, God? What if my platform shrinks while I’m away with You?”

 Can you guess what He said?

“What I want to do in and through you has nothing to do with something as shallow as social media numbers. That makes Me want to vomit. The best thing you can do for people I ask you to serve is spend more time with Me.” 

Bam! I was all in.

I love you, friends. More importantly, God loves you.

See you in April.

 

 

Healing the Sick

(by guest contributor Leslie Lamb, my beautiful, young friend whose heart and passion for God challenge and inspire me!)

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NLT)

That was Jesus addressing the Pharisees, right after they made a snide, judgmental comment about with whom He was choosing to spend His time. His point was, “I want to be with those who know they need Me, not those who think they have it all together.” We don’t get the picture that everyone He spent time with was changed, but we do see that those who did were changed forever.

I have a bit of a struggle with the Church as we are functioning. Legalism and religiosity were shoved down our gullets for so long making us question grace and mercy and how far is too far, that when we grasped the truth that grace is eternal and mercy never failing with a love that is everlasting, we kind of neglected our healing. We chose to identify with the sinner AS the sinner, and as such we have given up hope of transformation, and we function more like hospice than a hospital.

What do I mean?

The ultimate function of a hospital is to diagnose and treat the issue and see the patients healed and released to live healthier, fuller lives. Whereas many are in pain and struggle and don’t know exactly why, pointing them toward Christ helps them to search within themselves, with the encouragement and support of others, to diagnose that need and find how it might be met or the illness might be cured. Jesus is the Cure to any and all illness. So we as the church, act as nurses and aids to help with that healing process. We work to help them see what their illness caused and how they are different since they are now cured. Whereas before they had limped for so long or had struggled to breathe or function while they were diseased with sin, now they have a new life, completely healed from the inside out, but they have to walk that out which translates into therapy and treatment for the physical illness, counseling and learning for the spiritual illness.

But, lately I see the Church succumbing to illness and simply making the diseased comfortable. See, when we say we are sinners saved by grace, we associate ourselves with the illness, we speak a message that sounds more defeated by sin than the power of an Overcomer!

It’s the story of two patients. Both have been diagnosed with a terminal illness… One goes to the hospital and through treatment and care finds themselves in the other side of the battle, and though the scars remain and the threat of disease still exists, the empowered strength of knowing they have victory over the illness, permeates his or her with determination and the voice becomes one of “look what treatment did for me! You can be healed, too!”

The other goes to the hospital and hears that he or she is sick. But the nurses and aids around acknowledge the sickness and confess that they too have cancer and haven’t had much success with treatments. What is the patient good to decide? What hope is he or she going to feel? Treatment is work. So they decide to ride out the disease and those around do what they can to make them comfortable with that decision, in a sense acting as hospice excusing their treatment, and helping them to feel comfortable until death.

Those are strong examples, but this is what I see. We have to let go of this need to assuage the sinner because we ourselves are not perfect, but we also have to embrace the truth that even as we struggle, we are saved and set apart. We need to speak from a heart of victory that has seen the Hand of God and been delivered instead of a heart of fear that isn’t quite sure that we are forgiven, or worse, out of a heart that acknowledges our imperfections and chooses to do nothing about them, holding onto the crutches of grace.

What’s your voice? What’s your message? Where’s your hope?

Meet the author …

Leslie lamb

Leslie Lamb is an author and speaker who has a heart impassioned for this generation. Through her two published books, Kiss, Bang, Boom! And Paper, Rock, Scissors., she does her best to communicate to teens a message of hope and innocence in a world of serious and destructive issues. She has contributed her God-given talents to multiple organizations including LeadHer Ministries, 88.7 The Cross – a local Christian radio station, and helped to found an online webcast through a ministry called Teen Christian Ministries, Inc. She lives in Monroe, Louisiana with her husband and two preteen daughters and their protective and precocious pup, Chloe. She can be found online at www.lesliealamb.com and through Facebook and Twitter @lesliealamb.

5 Tips to Sharpen Your Leadership Style

Leadership Style

(By guest contributor Angela Bisignano, PhD)

Many types of leaders and styles of leadership exist. Becoming intentional about your leadership style can make a big difference in your influence. Two of the most important questions today regarding leadership style may be: Who has God called me to lead? and How can I develop the most effective leadership style to do what God is calling me to do?

Here are 5 steps to sharpen your leadership style.

Be Strengths-Smart:

Lead with your strengths. Knowing what your strengths are and how to best use them may be your greatest leadership asset. More than likely, you will lead with more effectiveness, influence, and success when you are leading with your strengths.

If you aren’t completely sure what your top strengths are ask 3 trusted co-workers, colleagues, or friends. You can also try using a strengths assessment or tool. “Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie is one suggestion.

Be Clear About Where You’re Going:

Know where you are going and where God is leading you. This is fundamental to great leadership. If you don’t know where you are going, why would anyone want to follow? In the wise words once spoken by King Solomon,

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed (Prov. 29:18, MSG).

Spend time seeking God in prayer. Ask Him to show you what He is up to in the people around you and where He is leading you. Then communicate your “vision.” You don’t need to have all the details worked out. You just need to let people know the “direction” in which you are heading.

Be a Risk-Taker:

Be bold. Go where you believe God is leading you to go. Take risks and be willing to try something new. Dare to challenge your leadership style. When you are stretching and growing there is momentum. When the Holy Spirit is leading you, God infuses His power and dynamism into your leadership.

If you pray and sense God is leading you into something move on it. Seek out wise counsel. If you have a peace about it then courageously go forward. Courage fueled by God is unstoppable.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7 NKJV).

Be Honoring to Your Followers:

Some of the best leaders today are servant-focused. This means understanding the greater needs of those following in your group, team, or ministry. Be sensitive and ask, “How can I best serve them?” Jesus said it well when speaking to His disciples:

Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant… Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:26-28 NKJV).

Deepen people’s trust and confidence in you, by reflecting Godly values in your life. Inspiring leaders understand they are in the people business. Make an effort to really come alongside of your fellow-followers and help them grow and develop. Showing them that you care speaks volumes. Be humble in your leadership role by recognizing that God is the one who has allowed you to have your position. God is the great leader and we are merely following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Be Aware of Your “Unique”:

Acknowledging that God has uniquely created you is important; He did so for a reason. The more you understand that there is a purpose to who you are, the greater your leadership can be. There is only one you. Be genuine and confident in your leadership style. Nobody wants to follow anyone who isn’t authentic or doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin.

Use your unique leadership qualities to your advantage for the greater work that God wants to do through your life. If you desire to know what makes you stand apart, try asking three people who know you well what they consider your unique qualities to be.

I would love to your know your thoughts.

Angela Bisignano

Angela Bisignano has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Ministry. She works as a Leadership and Life Consultant. Her research and writing interests are best reflected in the areas of faith, family, psychology, and leadership. She is passionate about empowering people to embrace intentional and wholehearted living.

Angela lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and two sons.

Get to know more about Angela at her website www.drangelabisignano.com

You can also follow her on twitter and find her on Facebook

There’s Only 1 Perfect Parent

(by Guest Contributor Shelley Hendrix)
When I first started my studies in our church’s lay counselor training class, I was extremely discouraged about the fact that I had children. 

Let me explain…
I had read book after book which explained the “ideal” way to parent children, and I knew I had failed time after time. I felt helpless and hopeless of ever being able to make up for my own shortcomings as a parent as I reflected and realized how I had been negatively impacted by my own parents’ influences and choices. What a burden to try to be perfect so our children will grow up to be healthy adults who contribute positively to the world. 

Then, as I prayed so passionately for God to help me understand all of this, to understand why He would even allow imperfect people to become parents in the first place, He spoke so gently to my spirit when He said, “Shelley, even if I made you a perfect parent, it still wouldn’t guarantee that your children will ‘turn out’ the way you believe they should. Even if you were absolutely perfect, they would still have an enemy who is out to steal, to kill and to destroy.’ (See John 10:10) He will do what he can to distort the good you do and overemphasize the wrong you do in order to annihilate them. THAT is why YOU need ME and THEY need ME. THAT is why I sent my Son.” 

So parents, take heart. We all desperately need a Savior! I need one, my parents need one, my children need one; and so do you. 
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I originally wrote those words in 2006. So much has happened since that time. I can look back and reflect on the amazing goodness of our Heavenly Father and the incredible truth in what He showed me. My family and I have weathered so many storms these past several years; but I can say with all sincerity that God is good and that He has been very good to us. I’m quite frankly, really impressed with how God can take the worst things thrown at us, and, in His time and ways, redeem even the worst things into something beautiful. 

I don’t know what you’re going through–whether in parenting, marriage, work, school, or whatever–but I do know this:
there has never been a moment, and there will never be a moment, that your Heavenly Father will disengage from the story He is writing in your life. 

He’s so good!!
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Shelley Hendrix
“Helping you live with purpose…without the pressure!”
Shelley Hendrix
Author of Why Can’t We Just Get Along? Available now.
Shelley Hendrix is a wife, mother, Bible teacher, speaker, author, and television talk show host. She hosts “Atlanta Live!” on Atlanta’s WATC  TV 57 and has been featured on radio and TV, including Fox news Live. She speaks at various events nationwide and is also a published author. Shelley is the founder of Church 4 Chicks, which launched in the Atlanta area in 2007.
For more on Shelley and to contact her, click this link shelleyhendrix.com

The Cure for Bad Days

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Do some of your days just feel like survival?

You can’t wait to get out of the house, or get back home, or go to the gym, or hang with your friends, or take a long bath, or watch your favorite TV show, or go to bed. Every breath is burdensome and all you want is some relief.

No matter what causes days like that, one of the best remedies for misery is serving.

I’ve taught my kids that no one wants to be around a sad sack. Stop thinking about yourself and choose instead to invest in someone else. When you can effectively deal with whatever the problem is, great. Deal with it. But until then, be others-oriented. Be a blessing!

It’s not hypocritical to smile and be kind when we don’t feel like it. It’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit being allowed to flourish rather than squelching it with icky selfy flesh. Expressing the character of Jesus is always the right thing to do no matter how we feel. It’s part of the process of surrender. Him not me.

John the Baptist stated it perfectly … “He must increase but I must decrease.” John 3:30

When we allow the fullness and power of God to invade us, we can extend beyond ourselves in ways we can’t imagine. He is all about making Himself known through us when we let Him.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Mother Teresa

The Message says it well:

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

When we live to be a blessing, God helps us work through the other stuff. We can trust Him to honor our selfless choices.

And the side benefit is joy. Not only does our service bless others, it gives the Holy Spirit room to fill us with His joy.

Serving and blessing = winning!

 (photo from Think 4:8, pg. 195)

 

The Things That Could Be!

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God extends the most amazing invitation – to believe Him for more than we can ask or imagine.

He dares us to trust that He has the power to astound us beyond our wildest dreams.

When I was a little girl, my first big dream was to be a figure skater. My parents had taken me to the Ice Follies and the Ice Capades where I saw gold medal winners skate. I fell in love with those spinning visions and began begging my parents to let me pursue my dream.

I was ten by the time they gave in and let me take lessons. The ice rink was far away and both my parents worked so it was inconvenient for them, to say the least. But they gave it a shot for my sake. I had shiny new skates, a fancy purple skating outfit, and great big dreams.

That lasted for about a year and then my Mom started traveling a lot so it simply wasn’t possible for me to continue.

My first big dream didn’t become a reality. But neither did several others. It took awhile for me to figure out what God wanted me to do. I had to learn the difference between what looked glamorous and what I was actually wired and gifted to do. But I always believed God had a plan for me. Once I discovered it, I was so glad those other things hadn’t happened! He knew best.

Jeremiah 29:11 is true. God has good plans for us. Plans that cause our future to glow bright with possibilities and purpose. Plans that give us hope for effectiveness and fulfillment.

Ephesians 2:10 is also true. Before time began, God prepared good works for each of us to do. What we are good at is not random. Our passions aren’t coincidences. What drives us isn’t a mistake. Those things are God-given!

You may not have always known that. Perhaps you’re kicking yourself for years that feel wasted. Or maybe you’ve been so busy just keeping up with daily life that you haven’t imagined a different tomorrow. Don’t be discouraged. There is good news for you!

1) God doesn’t waste anything. Whatever you’ve been doing and however you’ve been living is part of who you are. God wants to use your story to tell His message of hope and redemption. He takes what’s already there and turns it into something fabulous.

2) God delights in fresh starts. Today, this minute, is the beginning of what’s next. Don’t think that because your life is one way today it will always be that way. God is the Creator and Re-creator.

3) God doesn’t want you to stagnate. He is intensely concerned about your growth. He constantly pushes and nudges you forward so you won’t get stuck. Your job is to listen and respond.

No matter how old you are or what condition you are in, God has an awesome future for you. As long as you’re still breathing, surrendered and trusting, something amazing can happen.

Don’t sell yourself short. God hasn’t. He has plans for you! Pursue Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

And get ready for awesome.

(photo from Think 4:8, pg. 105)

Let’s Get Real About the Grammys

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Warning: this one is straight from the spiritual gut. The weight of this has been on me for days as I’ve wrestled with whether or not to say anything. God has burdened me with it so I must but it’s not done so with glee – rather with concern and passion.

It has become increasingly difficult to talk about the way Christ followers live due to the fear of being called judgmental, harsh, legalistic and unloving. Granted, sometimes things are said that way but not always. Yet, in our current environment it has become commonplace to receive instruction or exhortation defensively regardless of the messenger’s motives or presentation. We have redefined things in terms of political correctness or “freedom in Christ” instead of how they line up with the heart of God as revealed in Scripture.

However you receive this, my heart is pure. I don’t want to hurt you except that it cause you to run to Jesus. I love you and want the best for you. He is always the best for you.

But I’m also zealous for the Church. That we are His Light in this dark world. That we faithfully and passionately live out the high calling of belonging to Christ. That we love and pursue Him with all that is in us.

Jesus and the gospel are the hope of the world and we are the messengers. I am zealous for our focus and purity so that God can use us for maximum effectiveness.

So here goes …

Where do we draw the line? When are we finally going to say that something is too sin-soaked for us to endorse or participate in? How bad, evil, ungodly does it have to get before we start feeling convicted over our desire to do it or be in it?

Or have we gone so far into the darkness that we no longer recognize it? The proverbial frog in the pot.

Let’s talk about a few things from last week’s Grammys:

A married woman performing in a thong and a bra. If that’s okay to watch and enjoy, then why do we talk about modesty or hope the singers at church are dressed in ways that don’t distract or entice? Is that how we want our daughters to dress in public? Is that what “Holy to the Lord” means? Can we watch that without any impure, envious, covetous thoughts? Paul says a woman’s beauty is supposed to come from inside her. We should be cultivating and honoring the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.

A married man encouraging his wife to tease and entice other men. Ephesians 5 instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. He is to wash her with The Word and help her to be radiant, holy and blameless. He is never instructed to objectify her. So how is it okay to watch that happening, and even to praise them (as I read in one blog) for exemplifying a loving marriage? That’s not love. It’s narcissism and greed. It should break our hearts not entertain or encourage us.

You are headed for trouble! You say wrong is right, darkness is light, and bitter is sweet. Isaiah 5:20 (CEV)

A singer glorifying witchcraft and demonism. God is clear throughout the Bible that witchcraft and sorcery are not only wrong but dangerous. Our enemy wants it to look fun so that we’ll be caught off guard when it infiltrates our minds and emotions. It is not fun! It is painful, destructive, and leads to death. The total opposite of all that is God – freedom, life, and joy! The two are not able to blend. It is a slap in the face of God to enjoy the very thing and person who destroyed the perfection He gave us. Why would we celebrate, sing and dance to someone (our enemy!) who hates us?

The Grammys are the world’s rewards for worldly behavior. What is the value for a Christ follower in watching them?

Is it worth swimming through the sewer to pick up that one bite-sized candy bar floating in it?

Yes, we are here in this world to make a difference but we are not to love the world system. Our hearts are not to be engaged in ungodly things but set on the things of God. His desires are to be our desires.

The only things that will last are God’s Word and the souls of people. Everything else will be gone and eventually evaluated as good and worthy of reward or a waste and burned up.

So what are we doing, dear brothers and sisters?

How are we spending this one life?

Are we being transformed into the image of Jesus or the image of the world?

Because if we think we can fill our minds with the world’s values and come away unscathed and be like Jesus, we’re wrong.

God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin. 1 John 1:5-7 (The Message)

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (The Message)

 

Pastors and Leaders, Your Words Matter

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In the last year I have been surprised numerous times while listening to a recommended popular pastor or speaker, or reading a trending millennial blogger to be confronted with in-your-face curse words.

No judgment here, just concern. It makes me wonder a few things:

Do they really talk that way in their everyday lives? If they do, I would encourage them to spend time in God’s Word, basking in His holiness, purity and beauty. And surround themselves with godly people who have reverence for God, respect the high calling of handling His Word and take seriously the privilege of influencing others. God tells us He expects more of us.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

Are they doing it for shock value? Here’s something to consider – those words are no longer shocking. My son hears them at his Christian school. When I look up R-rated movies to see what’s in them, they list things like “150 F-words.” Overexposure has robbed them of their power to impress or shock. More importantly – the words of God are powerful and shocking enough. They don’t need to be punctuated with crudity.

Is it an attempt to be gritty and real? What’s gritty and real is your story! That’s what we want to hear. The Truth of God is gritty and real. Talk about that. Gritty and real don’t have to be manufactured through course language. Besides, do you really want to go there? There are things in life that don’t need to be announced or photographed. You know what I’m talking about.

Don’t take my word for it though. Here’s what God says

“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.” Eph. 4:29

Or in The Message,

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

What about Col. 4: 6 where Paul tells us to let our speech always be gracious?

Gracious words are compared to honeycomb – sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Prov. 16:24).

Paul also tells us to get rid of filthy language from our lips (Col. 3:8).

From just these few verses, it’s obvious that what we say is to have a positive impact on others as well as line up with God’s desires for us.

What deeply concerns me is what our words reveal about our true inner condition.

We should want our words and our very thoughts to be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14). If that doesn’t motivate what and how we communicate, we shouldn’t be leading in His name.

And even more seriously

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

I’m not saying Christian leaders should be perfect. Obviously there wouldn’t be any. But we should desire conformity to Christ, The Word, in every area. And when something is brought to our attention, we should ask God to examine us for any areas that dishonor Him.

Finally, if bad language was something you lived and breathed before coming to know Jesus, then His grace surrounds, covers and fills you. He loves and accepts you! He’s working in you to transform you into His likeness. Be humbly teachable and learn from Him.

(photo from Think 4:8, pg 76)