Keep It Shut: Wrap Up

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

There is a saying I once heard that goes something like this…”If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Now, in the past, I have always thought of this statement when my schedule becomes overtaken with appointments and my focus is non-existent. When I am so busy in the moment that I do not at all remember a conversation I had just 5 minutes before. However, since reading “Keep it Shut” by Karen Ehman, my thoughts on this saying have drifted towards being busy in our speech. You see…there are times when I think we just talk too much. Whether we are trying to fill silence or trying to appear ‘in the know’ about something, before we know it we have ‘thrown up’ a rambling mess of words that leave us asking ourselves later, “Where in the world did that come from?” Or “Why on earth did I say that?”

I remember years ago, I was sitting at my desk at work and someone came in starting to share some ‘juicy’ gossip. I continued what I was doing until my officemate said, “You aren’t even interested in hearing?” I responded, “Nope, not really,” and they carried the conversation elsewhere. If I’m being honest, in this moment I really remember not caring about whatever the latest news was…but that has not always been the case. I mean, come on…there is a reason someone said, “Curiosity killed the cat!” Here is what I know the truth to be though:

Ephesians 4:29, “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.” (NIV)

Proverbs 16:28, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (NIV)

Lately my Facebook feed has been filled with nothing but posts about the NFL players not standing for the National Anthem. Now, before you get worked up, let me start with saying this post is not designed to start a discussion about this ‘protest.’ The point is, I have seen over and over people becoming super upset in the comments following these initial posts. Everything from bashing the players, to name calling each other, to even ‘unfriending’ someone because of their opinion. Here’s the thing guys, there are thousands and thousands of things to become insulted about and agitated by…but is your response wholesome?

In “Keep it Shut,” Karen Ehman says, “No need for snark. No need for angry words or critical comments. Our mamas were right: If we can’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. When we do speak, we can choose to be gracious rather than accusatory or negative. Our words must glorify God and not just exalt our own opinions.”

So friends…as we wrap up our study, will you think before you speak? Or will you KEEP. IT. SHUT?

Week Four: PRAYER

Written by: Monique Pye

Heavenly Father,

As our study comes to an end, I ask that you would help us over the next few days to take in what we’ve learned and to apply every day.

Lord as we’ve studied these final chapters some words tugged at my heart and I was convicted. Sometimes I get so easily angered, whether it’s my kids fighting, the mess they’ve made, or the other mess they haven’t cleaned up after asking for the one hundredth time! Lord, may I be reminded of your word in Proverbs 31, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Help me Lord not to sin in my anger – I pray this for every reader today. There will be times we will get angry, help us to deal with it in a way that lines up with your Word. That we might not let it build offense and cause bitterness. Satan does not have a foothold on us and I pray that we would be aware of his schemes. I ask that we would be able to work through these situations with the help of your Spirit, and that we can move forward preventing an argument from even starting. Guard our tongues and our tone in how we respond to others. As Karen describes it, help us to use “snuggly” words. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Help us to follow your word, not to snip or be snarky, but to use soft words. Speaking in a gentle tone, in kindness.

May we be reminded that our words matter, so in speaking them, may we build up and encourage not tear down or bring shame. May we make a point to intentionally bless others with our words, speaking in truth and love. Remembering to be positive and encouraging. May your Spirit help us in discerning what to say, how to say it, and when to stay quiet. We choose to honor you Lord with our words. Help us to be intentional in seeking time alone with you in your Word and reveal to us your truth. May we use our mouths with Godly purpose to build, to bless, to encourage, and to praise.

We know you are with us on this journey, and I ask that you would help us to remember that you are looking for persistence not perfection. There will be times our words may spark a wild fire, but I ask Lord that you’d bring us back to your Word and your truth. May we honor you as we continue to learn how and when to keep it shut but may our hearts be wide open towards you.

Thank you for this study, this ministry, and this body of believers. Let us take what we’ve learned and apply it to our everyday as it honors you.

In your Holy name I pray,

AMEN

Chapter ELEVEN: Gotta Have The Last Word

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” — Psalm 139:4

My two oldest children are often found in a debate of some kind or another. You know, who was last getting out of the van and left the side door wide open, draining the battery? Or who cheated when playing monopoly? Or who spit a large piece of unused toothpaste into the sink and left it there for our maid? (We don’t really have a maid, but I am seriously starting to wonder if the rest of my family thinks that we do!) Nevertheless, there is usually an argument or two a day that ensues at some point between the two of them.

By the time these arguments reach my ears they are usually being explained at decibels only dogs (and Mom’s) can hear. I usually try to talk them down off the ledge by giving them the opportunity to share their side of the story —with one stipulation: they must also hear their siblings side of the story without commenting even one word during their turn. If they fail to obey this rule, a consequence follows.

One of said kids (no names, of course) has a fairly difficult time with this rule. He usually comments over or cuts into the story when being told through his sisters eyes. Recently, when going through this very routine regarding a monopoly mishap, my boy decided to practice ‘keeping it shut’ while his sister shared her story. He didn’t at any point cut her off, or talk over her, or share his perspective during her story. He simply listened. I praised him for this noted change afterward and he shared that it was actually a lot more fun to listen instead of his usual behaviour.

When we talk much, we miss much.

That seems like a ridiculously simple statement but it is oftentimes forgotten. When we are always doing the talking we miss incredible opportunities to hear what is on a friend’s heart. We miss opportunities to give space to a friend as they muster the courage to ask for or extend forgiveness. We miss out on opportunities to hear parts of a situation that have been missed; a part that perhaps makes all the difference in how you view that situation entirely. The bottom line; when we talk much, we miss much.

The people you want to listen to most are usually the people who have the least to say.

Proverbs 10:19 —The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.

Week Four: HEART VERSE

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Hello again!  Are you ready for our final Weekly Heart Verse?

To date, we have worked to learn three very important scripture verses; Ecclesiastes 10:2, Psalm 141:3 and Colossians 4:6.  We have learned to ask God for wisdom in our communication with others and to speak graciously; to engage our heavenly Father in helping us guard our mouths; to use our conversation as salt and light in our world, drawing attention to Christ.

This week we focus on our choice of words being a protection for our lives in the long run.  Once again, 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 1 Peter 3:10 and says:

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”

When we reflect on interactions between people we see around us, in the news, on TV, at our workplaces, while shopping, in the Tim Horton’s drive through, it doesn’t take long to see how important this verse is to a life of peace versus a life of distress.

How we choose to use our words has an incredible impact not only on those around us, but on our lives as well.  We are challenged in Ephesians 4:29 not to “let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  When we focus our speech on edifying others, leaving self behind, our lives become peaceful and enjoyable.  When we focus on spreading misery with our words, life becomes dismal and painful.

Another great memorization technique, requiring intense focus, thus, great reinforcement, is to translate 1 Peter 3:10 into another language or form.  If you:

  • Know a language in addition to your mother tongue, spend time translating it into that language
  • Know sign language, look at yourself in the mirror and translate it into sign
  • Know music, translate it into a little jingle
  • Know how to draw, translate it into a sketch or doodle
  • Are unable to do any of the above, simply write the verse over several times, backwards

Anything that will require you to represent our heart verse differently and cause you to use great concentration, go for it!  Have fun and be creative!

It has been a joy spending each Wednesday with you.  I hope you have enjoyed memorizing new scriptures in unique ways and I encourage you to memorize all the scriptures on Page 75.  God bless each one of you as you continue to hide His Word in your hearts!

Bygones be Bygones

Written by: Nathan Hill

As I was reading chapter 10 of “Keep It Shut” this week, I was drawn to one of the nine tips that Karen Ehman shared for keeping our words productive. This tip was “don’t get historical.” In fact, when I first read this phrase I thought it said, “don’t get hysterical.” I thought that was solid advice—no one really ever has anything great to say when they are hysterical. Then, I read it again and realized what it really said—don’t bring up history when having a discussion, especially in conflict.

I am the kind of person who likes to focus on the moment at hand and the days and weeks and months that are ahead. I rarely enjoy looking back, especially at moments that were less than stellar. My thought is just let bygones be bygones and plan for a better today. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen that love does not keep a record of wrongs—love does not get historical. We often read that passage in Corinthians in the context of romantic love (i.e., it is read at every other wedding I am at). However, the word used in this passage is more general and applies to the love that Christ has for us and that we should have for each other.

Don’t get historical.

When there are things that are bygones, let them remain as that. What is a bygone you might ask? Things that you have already discussed, things where there has already been an understanding established, things that have been dealt with already, things that have no more words necessary—these are bygones. And so, if you want to have a productive conversation that moves you and the other person forward in positive ways, do not dwell on bygones.

There may be some historical things that you want to bring up. This might seem like a contradiction, but bear with me. Sometimes there may be difficult things that are historical where words have not been shared. Perhaps you have not discussed this, perhaps there is no understanding, perhaps it has not been dealt with, and perhaps words are necessary. In this case, follow all the other guidelines—choose your timing, believe the best, temper your tone, and trade places…imagine how you would feel on the other end.

Once you have the historical conversation and reach a settlement, file the conversation under bygones. Let bygones be bygones.

Today and tomorrow will have enough troubles to talk about. Keep a short account, deal with the past quickly, and then let bygones be bygones.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Ephesians 4:26 “…do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”

Week FOUR: Love Prompts

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Here we are in the LAST week of our Online Book Study — week four! I can hardly believe we are already wrapping things up here on the blog. This week we will take a closer look at chapters eleven and twelve and unpack some of our favourite concepts from both of these chapters. Next week, we will be back to our regular writing team — with a couple of brand new writers joining us. We hope you’ll stick with us.

If you flip to page 172 in your book you will see a box containing several Love Prompts. Karen starts off by saying this: “Got a minute? Grab a pen! Use any of these prompts to get you started on jotting a note, an e-mail, or a text to a loved one in your life. For some, the statement stands alone. For others, elaborate on the thought that is given. Your words are sure to bless your recipient.”

I LOVE these!!! In fact, I am going to choose one statement from each and share them with you to help you get started on your own. There are four sections with four types of people in whom to send some love. Your spouse, your child(ren), your parent, and your friend. I will include mine below.

To Nathan:
Here is what I appreciate most about you…you are generous and trust God without wavering to provide for our family. You have inspired me so much to give more and to be more generous with our resources. Your kind and generous heart is one of my favourite things about you and I am proud to be your wife.

To my children:
Being your mom has taught me…how precious life is. Having you is like wearing my heart pinned to my shirt. From bumps and bruises, casts and stitches, incubators and ventilators— you all have had one scary situation or another happen to you. I have learned during these times that I cannot make the pain or hurt go away, but I can, I have, and I will most certainly always be able to pray for you. The Lord has given each of you precious life, and I trust Him with your every breath.

To my parents:
I’m not sure if I ever told you before but thank you for…loving me. I never ever doubted that you did for a single moment of my life. You have always been for me, supported me and loved me unconditionally. I think that is the very best thing that a mom and dad can do for their child; love them. Thank you for loving me so well.

To Cindy:
You remind me of Jesus when…. I am discouraged, hurt or struggling. You not only pray without any need for details but you do not allow me to stay in those unhealthy places. You are always encouraging forward momentum and a spiritually healthy life. You truly exemplify ‘iron sharpening iron’ as the scriptures instruct and I am so thankful for you and our friendship.

Please check out those love prompts on page 172 and love on your people. Words are such a huge blessing to me personally so I get excited about the potential here to bless others in a big way.

Let’s chat:
1. Have you ever been sent a text, e-mail or Facebook message from a friend/spouse/child/parent that filled you right up with blessing? How did it make you feel?
2. Who do you plan to bless with your words today?

CHALLENGE THREE: Eat Your Words

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Who’s hungry?  Anyone up for a “Wunderbar Pretzel Sandwich?”

The Apostle Paul gives us excellent advice when it comes to speaking to others.  “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”  Ephesians 4:15

Whether we struggle with people-pleasing, flattery, being honest or feeling angry, this advice will help us; do as Jesus did, love on others.

Keep It Shut Challenge #3

Let’s put Karen’s, “Wunderbar Pretzel Sandwich” approach into practice when we “need to deliver difficult words in a delicate situation.” (page 153).

Review her approach on page 152.

Notice the steps:

  • Start with an encouraging word
  • Speak the hard truth statement
  • Finish off with another encouraging truth

Post it!  Let’s share how we’ve attempted to use this approach throughout our week.  We learn from the sharing.  When posting, let’s please remember Karen’s guidelines about controlling our digital tongue found all throughout her Chapter 6 Behind the Screen in pages 95-111.

  • Let us continually and constantly remember, we need never do this on our own. Karen reminds us, “And if we’re trying to die to self in our own strength, they will also be impossible.  In order to die to self in the daily, routine hassles and relational challenges we face, we must draw deeply from the available power of the Holy Spirit, surrendering our life and words to his will.” (page 167)

Chapter Nine: Hurling Hate or Healing Hearts

Written by: Angela Mercer

Chapter 9

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Let your gentleness be evident to all… Philippians 4:5

My husband is one of the most determined, disciplined people I know. Once he sets his mind on something, it is done. I have always admired that about him, as my mind always seems to resemble more of a battlefield. I am an early adapter. I love getting started but as soon as the excitement of starting wears off, it becomes WORK. But that is exactly where my husband loves to live. As soon as it gets hard, he is loving it.

We have two kids and one is an early riser and the other cannot get their butt out of bed in the morning. When she does get up, she is grumpy that anything should ever start in the morning. We have tried many different strategies with her but most end up with everyone yelling and heading out to work and school in worse condition then when she first got up. So, my husband tried something new.

Every morning he got up a little earlier then he normally would. He went to the kitchen and began prepping for the day but not quietly like he used to. He did all he needed to do in the morning at a normal volume so that our daughter would hear that it is time to get up. One thing I should mention is that our daughter is very musical. She plays guitar and sings and is almost always found singing, playing or listening to music. It only made sense then that her daddy would choose to play music in the morning to serenade her into the day. When I asked him what he was up to his reply was “I am changing the climate of the morning in our home”. Whatever it was, it was working. She was waking up happy, entering the kitchen positively, getting her breakfast and lunch packed and out the door with only minimal drama.

But it is so easy to go back to the way it once was. Fighting frustration with frustration and anger with anger. How do we get out of the cycle?

I really appreciate the way Karen addresses anger in chapter 9. All our emotions are from God, even anger. It is what we do with our anger and the sin that results from our anger that matters. Anger in and of itself is not a bad thing.

I also loved the phrase “don’t be a gasoline queen”. If I was the one left to help my daughter get up in the morning, that is exactly how you could have described me. Just throw some more fuel on the fire and watch it burn! However, I saw how successful my husband’s approach was and I never want to be a gasoline queen again. It is not effective.

My husband approached the morning with my sweet girl with kindness and gentleness and he won the morning battle. My husband planned for a peaceful morning.

Truth be told, God has the wisdom we need in every situation we face. If we would be willing to go to the Lord and ask Him what we should do He will tell us. If then we plan ahead and approach each situation with gentleness and kindness the outcome would be drastically different then it has been in the past.

The other thing I learned from this chapter is that we really need to remember to die to self. So often what I want and need gets in the way of what really needs to happen. One thing we quote to our kids almost daily is that “being in relationship is more important that being right”. So, I want my daughter to control herself in the morning. I want her to change her attitude and approach the day better. But, as Karen so eloquently states, “mind your own sin sweetheart”. Gulp.

If we will learn to put our needs aside, die to our flesh, die to our rights, I think we will find that we don’t have as much to be angry about as we thought.

Week Three: PRAYER

Written by: Monique Pye

Heavenly Father,

As we complete another week of this study, help us to take in all we’ve learned and to apply it in our everyday lives. We thank you Lord for the opportunity to study your word and what it teaches, along with Keep It Shut and all of Karen’s encouraging words.

Social media is a world of its own and we can get so caught up in it! Lord I ask that instead we get caught up in your word! We are probably guilty of spending more time scrolling and commenting on social media than spending time in Scripture. Change our hearts and our focus, and help us to commit to carving out time in our busy lives to spend with you. Time spent with you in your word will help us to better communicate with others.

May we pray before we post, asking your Holy Spirit to tap on our hearts if we are tempted to post something that would not glorify you. Help us to not assume we are experts on the subject and help us to refrain from commenting at all, especially if our opinions are just opinions. It is not our intention to offend others, so Lord, let our speech be laced with grace and help us to be gracious and not negative. Help us to glorify you and not exalt our own opinions. Help us to speak the truth as it is found in Scripture and help us to answer with gentleness and respect. May our speech be pleasing to you Lord, and encouraging to others.

As we’ve studied this week about gossip, Lord, I pray that we would be convicted and I pray that you would change our hearts. Help us to be known as loyal and trustworthy, rather than a traitor. Help us to choose better who we are surrounded by and not be caught up in conflict and gossip. Your word in Romans tells us that gossip is a sin as equal to murder and greed, and wickedness. May this alone help us to realize how sinful this behavior of gossip is. May we turn away from it. We repent of our wrong and ask that your Spirit be upon us and guide us in the other direction, as we commit to gossip no more. When we get caught up, may your Spirit help us to make the choice to simply keep quiet.

“Set a guard over my mouth Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141: 3

May we be reminded that every word spoken from our mouth is heard by you Lord, and that every thought and every word whispered is known by you. In all we say may it bring glory to you. May we care more about pleasing you than pleasing others. May we not look for approval from others and say things that they want to hear (that may be untrue) just to seek acceptance from others. Help us to remember that your approval is all that matters.

Let our words be few and may we speak the truth in love and kindness. Help us to carefully choose our words and speak truth from a loving heart!

Be with us Lord as we prepare for another week of study and help us to glorify you in all we say and do.

In your Mighty name we pray,

AMEN

Chapter EIGHT: Encourage, Don’t Flatter

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“…I am very skilled at wielding the clever tool of flattery. It has been said that gossip is saying something behind someone’s back that you would never dare say to their face. However, flattery is the opposite. It is saying something to someone’s face that you would never say behind their back — usually because you don’t really believe it is true.” — Karen Ehman, ‘Keep It Shut: What To Say, How To Say It and When To Say Nothing At All

Flattery. Do you know a flatterer? I do. And I have learned from watching this woman in action two very important things. Number one, people are desperate to be encouraged, complimented and praised. A flatterer will always have an audience. However, the second thing I have learned is that it doesn’t take people very long to sniff out who says things genuinely and who says things just because they sound nice.

For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. — Romans 16:18

When I first read the verse from Romans 16, I was taken back a little by its harshness. A flatterer does not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites? Yikes. A person who serves our Lord Christ must serve Him even with the words that they speak. It is a tall order for us humans. (And if we are honest, an incredibly tall order for us ladies!)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:11

There are so many ways you can genuinely encourage people – please don’t flatter. Choose words that speak life. Let the words you speak be laced with grace and kindness. And, most importantly – let you words be genuine.

Is there someone who could use some genuine encouragement from you today?