Dear Salvationist -Watch Your Mouth!

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.” – Ephesians 4:29

The Holiness Movement is far from dead.
We, as Salvationists, have within our veins more than the figurative colors of red, yellow, blue…we have the image of Christ within our hearts.  Not to say that other Christ-followers do not, or that we are better than anyone else, but this message, this pondering is primarily for Salvationists in our world today.

We face difficulties in our communities and in our culture which makes it hard to be truly set apart for God.  The lure of many things comes knocking at our doors and begs us to participate, to comprise, to ignore this calling.   Is it possible to look so much like the culture that our effectiveness in mission is compromised?  Is there a line that begs and pleads alluringly to be crossed?  What of our attitudes, our hearts, and our speech?  Do these go hand in hand with our lifestyles, with our mission?

There isn’t a time clock that we punch when we accept this holy mission of Christ’s.  We are either all in or not at all.  We don’t wear the uniform to the corps but once it’s off at home we become someone else, with a different set of life rules.    We are beckoned to “go into all the world…”  We are asked to “take up our crosses” and follow Christ.  If we are to imitate Him in every way (Ephesians 5:1), then this includes what we say.

Confession: blah
I can be cynical at times (That’s not a shock to some of you).
I always joke that I have the spiritual gift of sarcasm, but sometimes that sarcasm takes a very harmful turn.  My speech isn’t always as it should be.  Words can become barbs that are razor sharp that can cut to the heart of people faster than any blade could ever penetrate.  I know this of myself.  I make no excuse of this.  Does that mean I wish to continue to the live my life in a verbal rut?  Of course not!

Dear Salvationist
blood and fireDo you have the deep desire to continue to grow in Christ?
Is there, within your heart, the Spirit’s pleading to become more than you are right now?
Are we settling for the verbal ruts, the bad habits, the inexcusable behavior?  Do we make excuses and/or rationalize these away in order to make them more palatable and accepted? I can tell you truthfully that you will never really know peace within your heart as long as you continue to reside where the Holy Spirit does not want you to reside – in regards to ungodly habits and behaviors that are contrary to your covenant or promise to Him.

Like our tithe, like our commitments to God – if we continue to only give Him a portion, we will never be truly satisfied living within His will.  What is God’s will for us?  Read Micah 6:8 again “He has shown you, oh man what is good and what the Lord requires from you.  To live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”   Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Watch Your Mouth!mouth
Be mindful of your mission field.
Be aware of how ungodly speech corrupts your heart and those around you.
What kind of speech am I talking about?  Not just profanity and course language, but (and more importantly) unkind words towards others, Gossip of any kind, malicious-hate fueled speech.  Words that do not build up but instead destroy.  Soldiers of this Army; more importantly Soldiers of God do not act this way…should not act this way!  Watch your mouth…it can build souls and help them become more Christ-like, or it can burn the heart and fuel it into hatred towards God…that is how helpful or harmful your words can be.

Questions to Ponder Today:
How can I change my patterns of speech?
Do I recognize those moments when my words become barbs and are used as weapons?
What is the Holy Spirit instructing me to do within my actions and my use of speech?
What kinds of changes do I need to make right now?
Have I settled for where I am right now or am I willing to grow through the direction of the Holy Spirit?

Something more for our Army to ponder on today.
To God be the glory!

Breaking News…”Misremembering” And The Quest For Integrity

Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC this week.
Longtime NBC anchorman was challenged by others within the media world as to the substance of his “encounters” while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003.  His “misremembering” of specific details has left some scratching their heads while others calling for his immediate termination.  Whether intentional or not, the fallout of “misremembering” at the journalistic level will undoubtedly have consequences.

Similarly, within the Christian world “misremembering” and/or inconsistencies of witness will also undoubtedly have consequences!  Like those who report the news nationally and internationally, Christians leaders are looked up to.  They provide other Christians and would-be believers vital information, sources of hope, and godly direction.  Integrity and honesty should be a given, although there have been some who have fallen from grace over the years. swaggart

The witness of Christians can become greatly devalued when inconsistencies and misremembering takes place.  What good is it to speak of love and grace and even Jesus when suddenly we misremember how we are to treat other people?  What good are these Christian qualities when our actions and attitudes do not resemble our words?  Worse yet, what good is it to go to church and sing all the right songs and pray all the right prayers only to walk out of those doors and resemble anything but a Christ follower in our unhealthy habits, speech and actions?

Do we run the risk of running empty on integrity when we misremember how we are to be as Christians?  You bet we do!  The unfortunate consequences of lack of integrity as people of faith is that we will lead people away from God. Why would people want to seek out Christ when His very own followers do not practice what they preach?

Two things happen when we live within the “misremembered” and dishonest walk of “faith”

hypo1. Our Christian witness is compromised, phony and detremental to others who are ACTUALLY living as God has called the faithful to live.  We are not only ruining the chances of potential new believers coming to the faith, but we are making it even harder on other believers who are living lives of integrity.   It only takes a few rotten apples to ruin the whole bunch.  When others look at the church they will mostly likely first see the rotten ones.  We must be aware of our witness to others…it matters THAT much!

2.  Our personal faith and growth will be stuntedstunted
…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”  (James 3:10-12)
Living a dishonest life within the realms of faith will inevitably shortchange our potential maturity and growth.  We cannot live this way.  As James puts it “this ought not be this way“.   We jeopardize not only the Christian witness to others, but we tarnish our own paths and limit what God can do through us by living this way.   Living a “misremembered” life that lacks integrity is cheap and unfortunately more common than not.  Dare I say that Christ has called us to live the uncommon life that is full of integrity, love and obedience!

BrianLet’s face it, Brian Williams isn’t the only one who has “misremembered” things, he was just caught.
Many are just as guilty of this same character flaw.  Brian Williams just happened to be in the public eye reporting the news.  Will there be more who will fall from grace?  Of course…but you and I do not have to be included in this statistic if we are mindful of this trap!  Integrity is a valuable, often tarnished commodity that many lack today.  As people of faith, we ought to make it our goal to strive to live integrity in all that we do and all that we are!

Let’s stop the “misremembering” madness in our own lives and start practicing honesty, sincerity and truth both in word and deed.

Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Soldier…shhhhhhh

“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.” Ephesians 4:29

ephesians-429This is a call to deeper holiness, not a chastisement.
This is both personal and corporate.

How many times have I struggled with this problem?…I’m not telling…How about you?

In the Corps:
tameThere is nothing that hinders corps growth more than loose lips and mindless gossip.  Often it is also the hardest to remove as well.   Why is gossip, slander and unkind talk such a difficulty?  Why  can we not control our tongues?

A number of years ago, we had a salty individual who came to our corps.  This person would constantly say unkind things to us as well as behind our backs…and it got worse.  New people began to come to our corps.  Fresh faces, eager to learn more about Christ…then it happened.  This individual looked back at the new couple and said, “who the hell is that“?  Let me just tell you that there are no words that one can find to describe our shock and horror.  We confronted this person.  Asked them to apologize.  This person refused and they couldn’t believe we had come to them asking for something that seemed outrageous in their opinion.  Finally I called that person, they answered, I talked and told them it had to stop (there had been many more incidents), I was told in no uncertain terms where I could take my words and where to put them.  This person has since left the corps altogether but not before driving away new members and potential members.
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
fellow Soldiers of our Army, the tongue is a mighty and dangerous weapon!  We MUST be careful and aware of how sharply words can cut.  Gossip, slander and biting attitudes can dissolve a corps fellowship faster than nearly anything else!

1) Don’t ignore it in your corps.
If we ignore this virus of words, it will not go away.
It will still remain and it will only increase because ignoring it actually gives it more power.  Address it appropriately.  Privately, if possible.  Do so with other Local Officers and elders who are trustworthy and upright.  (This is scriptural!)

thinkin2) Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or Edifying Thoughts? 
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Do not even entertain stinkin’ thinkin’!  Don’t allow it to be consumed into your life!  Cut off the mindless gossip of others, or just walk away.  Don’t let it gain even a small foothold in your thoughts and lifestyle.  Whatever you consume in your thoughts becomes who you are!

If we are a body of Christ then we have to put to death these thoughts along with all of the other idolatrous, sinful things.  (Colossians 3:5)

accountability3) Accountability!
If you struggle with negative, unhealthy thoughts and speech, then talk to a trusted brother and sister in Christ!  Talk to someone who will hold you to your promises and convictions, not someone who will placate you.  Seek out someone who you can be challenged by and who will commit to holding you to your word.

4) Baby Steps…but don’t quit!BillM
Sorry, Bill Murry’s performance in ‘What About Bob‘ just came to mind.  “Baby steps, baby steps”  We will not conquer this blight of negativity from our thoughts and tongues immediately.  Certainly the Holy Spirit can alleviate this immediately, but more than likely we will have to work very hard at conquering this issue.  We will have to take baby steps or small victories one at a time.  Don’t get frustrated if you stumble now and then, but don’t use that as an excuse either! Remember we are called to this higher calling and if we are to be truly set apart then we have to submit everything to the will of Christ including our thought process and our tongues.

Dear Salvation Soldier,
Can we submit this sword (our tongues) completely for the cause of Christ?
We will face resistance.
We will face trials.
It will NOT be easy.
We will be tempted to share juicy gossip or respond with biting words.
But seriously, we need to just stop and SHHHHHHHHHH, when all we can think about saying will injure, cause harm and damage this vital fellowship of Christ.

Don’t overlook this dangerous foe!
Don’t underestimate it’s power on your corps either!
Something more for our Army to ponder today!
To God Be The Glory!

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