Week Three: HEART VERSE

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Here we are!  Week three of our Weekly Heart Verse segment!  So far, we have worked on memorizing Ecclesiastes 10:2 regarding wisdom in our speech and gracious talk.  We have also looked at Psalm 141:3 and asked the Lord to put a guard over our mouths and to keep watch over our lips.  Both these verses have encouraged us to be intentional and effective in how we communicate with others.

This week’s verse takes us one step further and admonishes us to speak in a manner that would point all people we interact with to Christ.  Found on Page 75 of Karen Ehman’s book, “Keep it Shut,” listed on the “Top Ten Verses to Help You Watch Your Words,” Colossians 4:6 says this:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Matthew 5:13 tells us that we are the “salt” and “light” of the world, with our main purpose being to worship God and point all people to Christ.  Colossians 4:6 ties in so beautifully with Matthew 5:13 as conversation is a powerful vehicle to make Jesus famous!  As followers of Christ, carrying His namesake and interacting with a lost world, our words desperately need to be “full of grace” and “seasoned with salt”, readied with an answer for anyone inquiring about our Saviour.  This takes intention.  This takes effort.  This takes attention.  This takes wisdom.  This takes divine intervention.

A great way to learn this verse by memory is to set it to a simple tune and sing it several times throughout your day.  I chose to sing this verse to the old song, “Jesus Loves Me.”

Let your conversation be (Jesus love me this I know)

Always full of grace, seasoned (For the bible tells me so)

With salt, so that you may know (Little ones to Him belong)

How to answer everyone (They are weak, but He is strong)

Try it!  It works!  Or set this verse to a different tune that you love and will remember easily.  Music is a powerful tool and before you know it, you will not be able to get this verse out of your mind.  It will become your new “earworm.”  Enjoy!

Chapter Seven: That God May Be Glorified

Written by: Emily Pelley

Chapter 7

One of the pieces that stood out to me in this chapter is that people are watching me (que The Police soundtrack, 1983). But seriously, the people in my life- my family, my friends- as well as those outside my immediate sphere- my neighbours, my colleagues, the barista, the cashier…there are so many people with whom I cross paths who know me and watch my life, along with many others. What do they see? What stands out as my distinguishing feature? Is it my love for people? Is it my commitment to my church? Or is it my snarky remarks, my readiness to listen to a juicy tidbit about so-and-so, or to laugh at someone else’s circumstance.

According to Isaiah 61, followers of Christ are meant to be a reflection of Him to the people in our community, in our city, in our country. It goes on to say that those who have the Spirit of the Lord in them will be called oaks of righteousness that God may be glorified. This shifts the focus away from us to the God we serve. All we do, all the Spirit of God equips us to do, comes back to the glory of God.

Being a new mom has really made me check myself. Now I have a little girl who is learning and watching everything I do. What am I modeling? What words does she hear? What attitudes am I allowing to influence my behaviour? Like we have talked about in this book study, I am asking God to check my heart- to show me what sin or negativity has crept in that might impact how I live and speak. Because it’s bigger than me. This is her life too. And how am I setting up my daughter for success in both life and relationships?

If there was anyone who had an audience for his life, it was King David. I enjoyed reading Psalm 31 in this chapter, with an eye for what is being said about our words. In this psalm we hear David’s prayer to God about the difficulty he is going through. In verses 13 and 14, it says:

I have heard the many rumors about me, and I am surrounded by terror. My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life.  But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!”

Can we lay down our need for revenge, or our pride, long enough to trust God? Whether we feel justified or not to spread that piece of gossip because “she deserves it”…can we pause and ask God to direct our hearts for how we are to respond? Because above all else, He is listening. He walks with us every moment of every day. He is our strength, our courage, our hero…and He hears every word we speak.

Week THREE: Beautifully Broken

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“A gossip betrays a confidence so avoid anyone who talks too much.” — Proverbs 20:19

This summer I shared some exciting news in confidence with a lady I felt I could trust. My husband and I accepted a new ministry position in his hometown and were moving back ‘home’. We asked that the news be kept confidential until we told both our children and our current church family. A promise was made that this lady would not say a word — but I soon started to receive text messages from a few that she too had told our news in ‘confidence.’

At first, I was very angry. This wasn’t her news to tell, it was mine. I soon realized the part that made me the angriest was that she had betrayed my trust. I had specifically asked her to keep my news in confidence until we were able to tell a few other very important people in our lives and she simply dishonored my request.

“A gossip betrays confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” — Proverbs 11:13

One of the number one things I have learned over my years in ministry has been that a listening ear is invaluable and a trusted friend, priceless. I make every effort to be both of those things to those God puts in my path, because I know the effect that it has on me when both of those qualities are not present in a friend. It is difficult to experience any depth with someone who talks non-stop and/or betrays your trust.

Let’s pause and have a little discussion:

  1. Have you ever been hurt by someone who betrayed your trust?
  2. How did you handle that breach of trust?

You may have noticed that I called this post, “Beautifully Broken.” I want to explain in this second part why I have given this post that title.

Admittedly, I was hurt when the person I mentioned above broke my trust. But, I chose to give my hurt to God and allow Him to heal those angry feelings toward her. When we allow God to put our brokenness back together, we still remain imperfect— but with His grace we become beautifully broken. Without God’s help we will eventually overflow those fragments of our brokenness and hurt others in the same ways we have been hurt. With God’s help and healing power we are often given beautiful opportunities to encourage and speak life into others who experience similar hurts to us.

That being said, I want so very desperately to be beautifully broken. How about you?

CHALLENGE TWO: Step It Up

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Hi! I’ve come to meet with you in your personal sanctuary. I won’t be long, I know this is your sacred time and place.  I just want to know. How are you doing?  How is your time with Jesus going? Have you been able to spend this time with Him consistently? Without distraction?

If yes, so awesome, isn’t it?  I know when I’ve committed this time to my Jesus, He has never let me down.  I am more equipped for my day; at peace because I rested in His Holy Presence.

If no, do you remember our key word from the last challenge?  Grace

And press on.

In Chapter 4, Karen encourages us to, ‘turn first to prayer to process life.’ (page 63) And all throughout this chapter stresses the importance of conversations with our God.

We are better poised to process life’s troubles after petitioning God first.  I’m still learning this lesson, but the calm I feel when I get the order straight encourages me to keep on trying.” (page 63)

Keep It Shut Challenge #2

Review pages 72-77 and notice Karen’s outlined 5 steps ‘to be a little more prayer warrior and a little less prayer wimp.’ (page 73) 😊

Pick your place.  I see these steps as incremental; one building on the other.  If you are on step 1 then jump to step 2.  Or if you are already in the habit of journaling your prayers and devotions (step 3) then step it up and memorize those recorded Scriptures (step 4).  On page 75, Karen lists 10 relevant Scriptures that I am writing on my heart by memorizing.

Step 5 is for all of us.  In our sanctuaries as we read, write and memorize let’s apply our heart changes in our everyday.

And remember we are never alone.  Karen reminds us on page 77 that, “God’s Word is both powerful and practical.  Through it He will give you directives, but not without also giving you the supernatural strength to carry them out.”

Post it!  It would be so great to hear from each other.  What step are you on and how have you stepped it up to meet this challenge?

Pause and Pray

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Around this same time last year, as the leaves were changing and the temperatures were falling, I specifically remember reading a post on Facebook which talked about whether Christians should or shouldn’t engage in this particular activity. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, well she is one of the most devout Christians I know. So if she thinks it is acceptable, it must be!” I almost hit the ‘share’ button…you know…that button that allows you to share something that someone else wrote…something that may agree totally with what you believe and also gives you an ‘out’ in case someone is upset with the post. “Oh, I shared it because I thought most of what she said was relevant.” There is just something behind that ‘share’ button that gives us a sense of ‘behind the screen’, passive-aggressive, boldness.

Here is the danger in sharing someone else’s option.

Firstly, conviction is personal. You may not have an issue with a particular sin that someone else struggles with and a post to you may seem ‘harmless’ when it could tempt someone else into sin.

Romans 14:13-23, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” (NIV)

Maybe that post about a glass of wine is harmless to you…but maybe your brother or sister in Christ has an alcohol addiction and it tempts them towards sin.

Maybe that ‘share’ of the picture of the hot celebrity seems harmless to you…but your brother or sister in Christ has a tendency towards lust or pornography and it tempts them towards sin.

Maybe that post about your new purchase will tempt someone who has trouble with debt and spending money.

Secondly, we have to be careful not to ‘follow’ people. Not even Christians. The only One we should be following is Jesus. Even the most devout Christians are sinners. Hopefully they are making their best effort at being pure and holy…but one thing even the most faithful Christian will never be is perfect…and neither will you.

Friends, there is no judgement here. As I said before, conviction is personal and we can not be someone else’s Holy Spirit. But you can let your Spirit be your guide. In “Keep it Shut,” Karen Ehman encourages us to use wisdom and pray before posting. Pause and pray. Ask your Spirit for wisdom before you post something that could have unintentional adverse affects on God’s people.

Week Two: PRAYER

Written by: Monique Pye

Heavenly Father,

We come before you today, and we thank you for this week’s teaching. We ask that you would help us to put into practice what we’ve learned and apply it in our everyday lives.

Lord, help us to live out the words of the verse in James “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”

As we go about our days, may we be reminded of the key points of this week’s study. Help us to know when to not speak too much, not speak too soon, not speak without listening first, and in certain situations, not speak at all.

Lord as we interact with one another, help us to perfect the art of pause. I pray there would be an opportunity to sort out our thoughts before we let out our words. May we hold our tongues to assess the situation before pronouncing any judgement. I ask Lord, that you would help us to really listen and give careful attention to the words and feelings that others express. And may we also learn to listen to you Lord. May we not talk so much that we can’t hear you. Help us to know what we should and shouldn’t say. May we perfect the art of listening, as our tongues can’t get us into trouble if we sit quietly and really listen to what others are saying. May this bring an opportunity to ask you how to respond, and may there be a time to ask you what it is you’d like us to say instead of only expressing our own opinions. Help us to make an effort to really listen to others and may we “pause before we pounce”.

Lord, we’ve learned through these chapters, that more prayer leads to less gossip, so we commit to take time to pray more often. That in every situation and every circumstance, we will find time to quiet ourselves and pray. May we make it our priority to seek you and soak up the truths of your scripture. May we experience a calmed heart after spending time with you. A calm that helps us speak in a hushed tone, and may we not be harsh or easily angered. As we read your word, shape our hearts as it keeps us on the path of knowledge. May we know your truth and your words of instruction and may we not stray from your wise way.

As we prepare for another week of this study, I pray that we ready our hearts to receive more of your word.

I ask all these things in your Mighty name,

AMEN

Chapter FIVE: Tenderhearted and Tough Skinned

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

I like this to a phrase my pastor often used when I was a teenager. He said that most people tend to have hard hearts and thin skins, but we as followers of Jesus should be different. Instead, we should be tenderhearted and tough skinned.Such wonderful advice. When we harden our hearts and let every little offence poke a hole in our happiness, we only hurt ourselves. We are slurping on a smoothie of poison and don’t even know it. But when we soften our hearts with love for others, and toughen our skins against their barbs, we are better equipped to show the compassionate love of Jesus to a watching world.” — Karen Ehman, Keep It Shut, pg. 93

Believing the Best
The paragraph just above the quote I shared with you is such an important perspective to live by. Karen shares a rule that Lysa TerKeurst has implemented in the offices of Proverbs 31 Ministries and it goes like this: “…When a conflict arises or our feathers get ruffled, we shouldn’t automatically jump to the conclusion that the other person meant us ill, but give them the benefit of the doubt. Not assume the worst, but believe the best about their motives.

Now, I don’t know about you…but there are days when I have trouble with believing the best about people even in the absence of conflict. There are just some people who’s personalities do more colliding with mine than meshing, you know? That doesn’t mean that I ever blurt out the worst that my heart conjures up. But, that’s just it. My heart has conjured up the ugliness, and the ugliness is not righteous or Godly.

I know I need God’s strength and help to overcome those thoughts and help me to work towards having a heart that instead believes the best. And, I believe it’s that simple. The bible says that Jesus is as close as the mention of His name. (Psalm 145:18) When I recognize that my heart is believing the worst, I will ask God to help turn my thoughts to the best instead.

We Must Be Diligent to Weigh Our Own Hearts
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
In addition to calling on Jesus when we recognize that our hearts are producing things that are not Godly, we must do our own homework as well. We must, must, must guard our hearts. What we consume when we eat affects our physical bodies. In the same way, what we are (or are not) consuming in our spiritual lives affects our hearts. It is imperative that we spend time each day with the Lord, making every effort to guard our heart. What flows from my heart is certainly indicative of what I have been putting in to it.

Give Grace to Those Who Speak Ill of Us
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6
If you’ve believed the best but the worst has still been the reality — please, give more grace. It feels backwards, I understand that, but it is truly what the Lord requires of us. And, Jesus lived this example beautifully time and time again. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.

If you can’t remember anything else from today’s message, remember this: Just give grace.

Week Two: HEART VERSE


Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Welcome back!  I hope you were successful in memorizing last week’s verse and that as you prayed for wisdom in all your spoken and digital interactions with others you achieved an outward flow of grace and love.  For anyone joining our study this week, our Weekly Heart Verse from last week was found in Ecclesiastes 10:2.  Feel free to add it to your memorization of scripture for this week.

Today, let’s head over to Page 75 of Karen Ehman’s book, “Keep it Shut,” where we will find our Weekly Heart Verse listed on the “Top Ten Verses to Help You Watch Your Words.”

This week’s heart verse is found in Psalms 141:3 and says:

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

This is a great verse to START each day with!  An important reminder from the moment our feet hit the floor, as we roll out of our cozy beds, to set our mouths in the right direction before we utter our first words of the day.  James 3:5-7 says this:

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Wow!  James just really comes out of the gate and tells it like it is!  And he is right!  Our tongues get us into so much trouble!  We, in our own strength and with our good intentions, cannot tame our tongues and need divine help from our heavenly Father.

A great way to tuck Psalm 141:3 deep into your heart and mind is to scan/photocopy a headshot of yourself and blow it up to almost life size.  Affix the image to your bathroom mirror and over your mouth, on the image, put a sticky note with this week’s verse written on it.  When you enter your bathroom each morning, which is usually the first pitstop right out of bed, you will see this tangible reminder.  Pray the verse out loud as you look at yourself in the mirror and ask the Lord to set your mouth on the right track for the day.  Couple this with asking for the wisdom we learned about last week and you are good to go!

Chapter FOUR: Prayer Requests and the News Feed

Written by: Nathan Hill

Have you ever taken a look at the prayer bulletin at your church? I am not sure if your church still does this, but many churches will have a comprehensive list of all the prayer needs associated with church members and adherents printed in their bulletin each week. The idea behind this is to help the congregation know how to pray for each other and to help the prayer team and prayer meetings to be more focused.

I wonder, however, if anything would change if we called this list the weekly news feed instead of the prayer bulletin? If you have an account with Facebook—almost 2 billion people do—you will be familiar with the concept of the news feed. Each time when you log on to Facebook, you get to see a detailed list of everything that your friends have posted throughout the day. And, by some complicated algorithm, Facebook just seems to know what content will draw you in the most. For many people, even people savvy with the Internet and their time, the Facebook news feed can draw them in and keep them captive for far longer than they realize.

My point is this—does the prayer bulletin function as an information update on everyone’s lives that will then pass through the daily conversations of many people, or does the prayer bulletin function as a tool with which we actually sit down and pray? I’ve noticed that prayer bulletins are usually vague and centre around requests for healing from physical conditions. Rarely would I read, “Mr. and Mrs. B request prayer for their marriage” or “Mr. M requests prayer for his struggles with pornography.” These are valid prayer requests, but we would rarely see them in a prayer bulletin. I understand the desire for privacy, but I also wonder if this is because the prayer bulletin might function more as an information update and weekly conversation tool than an actual prayer tool.

Karen Ehman encourages us this week to zip it and pray—talk with God before others. That may be easier said than done. Some of us like to share other people’s news under the guise of a “prayer request” because this helps them to feel justified in sharing the information. Be careful about this:

Proverbs 10:19 “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”

Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” Daniel was a man of prayer, and we see in his life that he was able to maintain a strict diet and religious routine even while living in a foreign country. Moreover, he had the peace about him that God would deliver him from all adversity…and even if God did not, he would not relinquish his faith.

There is a place for talking with others—the Christian life was not meant to be lived alone. But here is something wise that I often share with my children when they are prone to tattling: Tell me about you, not about someone else. I challenge you to share your deepest prayer requests with others before you share news about other people—I bet this will help you to zip it and pray more often.

Week TWO Teaching: Cyberspace Playground Rules (Ch 4-6)

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Good morning and welcome to week two, WAHD OBSers!

In the case you are just joining us, let me first say that we are journeying through the book “Keep It Shut” by Karen Ehman in our little online community and there IS still time to join us. Last week (September 4-10) we discussed chapters one, two and three. This week (September 11-17) we will take a look at chapters four, five and six!

Last week in my post I shared some practical ways in which keeping an appointment with Jesus every day has helped me to live a life that is fuller and more at peace. I shared some face-to-face moments with you in a video that I recorded from my bathroom because my house was booming with the laughter of over a dozen children (No, not all mine) thus proving the reason I very much need to be intentional about claiming my time with Him.

This week I would like to draw your attention to chapter six, specifically. Starting on page 102, Karen shares with us ‘Rules for the Cyberspace Playground’ and they are SO good, I wanted to make a point of going over a few of the ones that have grabbed my attention personally.

First of all, let me start by saying that I believe the internet and social media has and does serve as an invaluable tool on such a large scale. The people my team and I have been able to reach with the messages that God has given to us would not have been a possibility if it weren’t for both of these resources. But of course, if not used wisely, the internet and social media can be as dangerous than the largest and most powerful weaponry – or worse.

Our words. They hold great power and responsibility, friends.

Let’s review what Karen shares with us in chapter six about the rules for the cyberspace playground:

  1. Pray before you post
  2. Imagine the recipient sitting next to you
  3. Remember when you’re online, you’re also on stage
  4. Ask yourself if you’ve earned the right to address the subject at hand
  5. Ask yourself if you have a close enough relationship with the person to warrant offering your opinion
  6. When you do speak, let your speech be laced with grace

Let me zone in on number two for a moment. Imagine the recipient sitting next to you. I think that thinking otherwise is where so many of us get into trouble. It is so much easier to have your speech laced with grace when you are face-to-face. Just having the person in front of you provides a sense of accountability of its own. Likewise, it seems we get careless and clumsy when speaking to each other online. Intention and tone are missing when we speak via a screen, so we need to be ever-mindful of our reactions when responding to others online.

Number five really resonated in my heart as well. Ask Yourself if you have a close enough relationship with the person to warrant offering your opinion. Let me say this as kindly as possible: Being Facebook friends does not give you permission to speak into someone’s life. It just doesn’t. There has got to be a greater depth before you offer your opinion. If you spend time with the person on a regular basis, then perhaps your opinion should be voiced, but do put a voice to it. Take the person out for a coffee and share your heart in person, not online.

Karen has hit a home run with these six cyberspace playground rules. Thank you, Karen. If you haven’t read them over yet, PLEASE do! They are useful for anyone who uses social media or communicates via a screen.

In the comments below, please share TWO things:
1.  Which cyberspace rule you plan to work on?
2.  Which cyberspace rule you find is most often broken in your online community?