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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Set a Fire- Power of Words

I do not consider myself an expert of words, I consider myself a student of words.  I love words, and I am always seeking the best way to use them, or not use them.

If you don't know me personally, know that  I am what they call "a talker".  I have had the "gift of gab" all my life, but not always considered it a gift.  God has used me words  teach others, but I have also tasted foot in my mouth more times than I'd like to count. Many times in my life I have been shamed by others, and shamed myself, for the amount of words I use. Being a better steward of my words is a life-long pursuit.  Even in this, I still love Words.  Words are my life.  They are beautiful and they are brutal.  They are my strength, and they are my weakness. 

“So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites." James 3:5
On August 24, 2000 a  woman stopped by the road to light her cigarette,  she threw the match she used to light it down, and left.  Several day later,  the fire she caused came to be known as  "The Jasper Fire", and had destroyed 83,000 acres of the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Over $40 million of timber was destroyed.

I grieve the lost of this timber deeply and personally. I know first hand the time and work that goes into that much timber. My father in law plants Walnut  trees for future timber.  He planted them when my 8 year olds were just babies, knowing that when my children are adults, they could possibly harvest those same walnuts for $10,000 plus a tree.  That is a LONG term investment if I ever saw one, the opposite of a quick buck.  It requires years of patience, and care.  The trees are not left alone after planting, but checked  for to prevent scaring as the years go by. Yet all that time and investment can burn up with a careless action of a match being thrown.

Sometimes we walk away from a conversation, not realizing that our words were a match; not realizing we just burned a bridge, or set a fire of gossip and disunity. We could even be setting ablaze to years of healing, and helping confirm a lie that Satan wants the person to believe. This is a sobering thought, and it should be.  Words have power.  Many times, like the woman who drove away from the lit match, the destruction affect others much more than it affects you.

Yes , words have power, but it is not necessarily only the power to destroy. We can not let the fear control us, and keep us from speaking.

I think of the difference in what kind of power your words will have is like the difference between a wild bonfire that kills years of growth versus the light in a million lamps, or the fire that heats our houses and feed our families. 
 “So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things.  James 3:3a
Fire can make great destruction, but can also make great growth. Fire feeds us, it cooks our food, it guides us the utter darkness, it is POWERFUL in a best sense of the word. 

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." Proverbs 18:2
One simple way God has been showing me that I can set some “good fires” is to just be a noticerGenuine kind words can start fires that spread farther into someone’s soul than we could even fathom. 
We have all heard the saying “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all." I am flipping that into, “If you have something nice to say, say it.”Notice the good in others, then say it.  There are many times in life where the thought does not count,  you actually have to actually speak

I am not encouraging flattery.  Flattery is false and boosts yourself other then the recipient, but encouragement comes when we genuinely notice the good in others, without seeking benefit to ourselves. 

Mark Twain once said ‘I could live for two months on a good compliment.”   Noticing  the good in others doesn't have to be complicated , or even worthy of  a Hallmark-Card, just a simple notice of of another with your words. When you think how much you like your friend, text her that exact thing. A simple "I am glad you are my friend" is a great surprise in their day.  I am stressing seizing the opportunities, small or big, to speak kindness into someone’s life. 

 I once had an acquaintance once tell me in passing how stylish she thought I always looked. She had no idea the life-long struggle I have with insecurity and not seeing myself as beautiful, or worthy of affection. That complement warmed my soul. That warmth affected how I interacted with my husband; I was more affectionate and able to pour encouragement into him because I wasn’t seeking for him “to make me feel beautiful”. My ability to encourage him turn effected how he interacted with his co-workers, which then effected how they interact with foster parents, then effect those foster parents interactions with foster children.

See, I just traced  how someone telling me I looked cute helped foster kids! 

While that may seem a little far fetched, I want to echo my pastor's teaching on Jesus's miracle of feeding the five thousand, “Little is much in Jesus’ hands”.  Our little encouragements can be used for so much in God’s hands. You never know what lie Satan is wanting a friend to believe (they are too ugly for their husband, their friends are better off if they aren’t there, etc).  Pray God lets you be a noticer this week. Pray that your little words are much in Jesus' hands. 

 If you have something nice to say, say it.

Fire's power is all about who controls it. 

“The lips of the godly feed and guide many.” Proverbs 10:21a

I think as a mother, a sister, a friend, and teacher, my goal in life is to help feed and guide those in my life. As I read scripture about the power of words,  I was struck by the words that are NOT used in this verse. God also convicted me there are several words I  try to substitute this verse instead of the word Godly.  The substitutions try justify me working in my own power and strength :

“The lips of the ______ feed and guide many.”

Not mentioned in the verse:

I am not saying these words are bad, because many are all wonderful descriptors that are part of who God made us, but none of them will be a everlasting fuel to the Godly Fire we want to set. When you approach encouragement and friendships with SOLELY these fuels, you will burn out, or worse, unintentionally set a fire of destruction.  Trust me that I am speaking from experience on this one.  

What this verse tells me is not to focus on my words, but to focus on the source of my words. Godliness is in essence devotion.  I do not have to be perfect to have the perfect words.  I do need to be devoted to God, devoted to seeking HIS words first. 

This is a HUGE truth for me to try to grasp, what is my motivation in my words? Am I seeking Godliness before I seek "the perfect words"?  Or I seeking validation, value, praise, or my own glory? My prayer is that I focus my heart and thoughts on Godliness, He will bring forth words that feed and guide many.

So again, My challenge this week is seek to set a fire that feeds a friends heart. Pray, seek God.  Then if you have something nice to say, say it.

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