Monday, January 26, 2015

Words Matter

“Sometimes it (the tongue) praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?” (James 3:9-11)

Three hours and thirty-nine minutes.

That’s how long it lasted.

At the beginning of every year, our home church engages in a twenty-one day period of spiritual engagement with prayer and fasting.

Everyone chooses a food item, a hobby, an interest, - something personal and relevant to that person, and then abstains from it during the twenty-one days.

Some people abstain from solid foods; others choose a particular item or food group. For example, my wife gave up all bread and products with bread for twenty-one days.

I personally offered to fast from broccoli, but apparently that idea lacked muster with the wife. If she was giving up bread I wasn't going to skate by with giving up broccoli.

Can I be honest? I hate fasting. I really hate it. If you have seen my profile picture, then I’m sure you understand.

Other folks chose to fast from television, entertainment, caffeine, alcohol, coffee, the Internet, or Facebook and social media.

I decided that I would attempt something that I knew would be incredibly difficult and challenging, but not prevent me from eating chicken wings with the fellas on Thursday night. After all, that Thursday night was a ministry event. I had to take one (or twenty) for the team, didn't I?

I determined that for my twenty-one days, I would fast from saying anything negative, cutting, biting, or complaining.

Not a negative thought or word over my lips for three weeks.

You see if sarcasm and cynicism were spiritual gifts, then people would be exclaiming, “Surely that man is anointed!”

If I had lived in ancient times, people would be touring Grecian ruins today listening to a tour guide say, “That’s a statue to Jeffrey, the mythological god of sarcasm.”

I started my attempt on a Sunday morning. After all, what better place to be than in church when you are abstaining form negative thoughts?

Three hours and thirty-nine minutes. It was over.

We were home from church and I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.

I know, right? Huge mistake!

I had passed through the usual 35 pictures of cats, my usual biggest source of sarcastic wit, without making any comments.

I blew pasts three posts telling me to “Like” Jesus and “Share” him with 10 friends to receive my miracle in the next 24 hours, and I still held my tongue.

Then I saw it.

A fellow supposed follower of Christ had posted something, attacking someone else who had an opposing view. It wasn’t so much his argument, it was the venom and bile he spewed in his response.

He eviscerated the other party, and in doing so, furthered the stereotype people have of Christ-followers.

There was no love, no attempt at grace, and certainly no attempt to even understand or consider the background of the other party.

Just outright condemnation and cruelty. A verbal attack with an onslaught of words.

“What a jerk! What a legalistic, holier-than-thou, self-righteous jerk,” I exclaimed. own fast was over.

Now who was the jerk? I sounded like the person who prompted me to make the comment in the first place.

I should have stuck with broccoli.

Words matter. Words have the power of life and death, especially with our children and spouses.

Parents your words contain the power of life and death. Parents, you have got to be speaking words of life over your kids every day. Your kids will believe whatever you say about them. Your child will become whatever he or she believes. And what they believe about themselves will be determined by what you speak over them.

They will become whatever the voices they hear say about them. So make a point, every day, to speak positively and affirm your child.

I am constantly, with every opportunity I have, speaking positive words of affirmation and life over my son. I am always telling him how proud I am to be his dad and how honored I am that God chose him to be my son.

We have a rule to never speak negatively about him to others, or in front of him either. I constantly tell him how much I love him the way he is and I wouldn’t wish for any other boy but him.

This journey as a parent of a child with special needs is so grueling, and gives us ample opportunity, at every turn, to be negative, joyless, and careless with our words.

Choose to give life with your words.

Or you may end up having to give up chicken wings next time.

Pray: "Father give us eyes to see as you see, and hearts to offer grace as you offer grace to us. And in all things, help guard our minds and words."

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