Monthly Archives: December 2013
Seeing that this is the last day of the year, I decided to recap the top five posts of 2013. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and share (People in 26 countries viewed my blog this year. Amazing!). I pray that all I have posted this past year has been a blessing to your life.
I gave a few pointers from the book of Song of Solomon to help married Christian men keep the flame burning in their marriages.
I shared 11 points of wisdom that I have learned from my 11 years of marriage to my wife.
Every marriage encounters conflict. It’s not a matter of if, but when. I gave 15 pointers on how to effectively communicate with your spouse in times of conflict.
Coming off of a much needed vacation, I was inspired to write a post about the positive effects of periodically stepping away from the responsibility and demands of ministry. Little did I know that this post would be relevant later in year as we unfortunately witnessed the passing of beloved Pastors and others by suicide due, in some cases, to the pressures and stressors of life and ministry.
Though I didn’t see a lot of replies to, comments about, or likes regarding this post, people read it (which is all that matters to me), and, I pray, were challenged and convicted by it.
Thanks for sticking around and supporting christianedblog.com this year.
Have a great New Year’s Eve. Lord willing, I’ll see you in 2014!
Got your attention? Good. Because I think we need to address (readdress) this issue, which I believe – and I think you will agree – has become too commonplace amongst us, and dismissed or justified by some of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Vulgarity in our society, especially in entertainment and in the arts, has run amuck. There used to be a time when censoring curse words in a song or on a show was expected and welcomed. Not so much now. We have even reached a point where certain derogatory words are used and accepted as terms of endearment, all depending on the context of the conversation (Think of how the word B*^$# is used in hip-hop and pop subcultures, on reality television shows, etc.). To be honest, I hear and see it so frequently today on television and on social media sites that in some ways I personally have become desensitized to it. What I mean is that it doesn’t shock me like it used to. I sort of expect it now. After all, we are dealing with fallen people who have yet to be redeemed by Jesus from their sin.
But what about when we hear and see it displayed by those of us who have been saved from sin by God’s grace through faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus? Should the proliferation of profanity in our culture cause us to disregard its presence – albeit in varying degrees – in our lives as the church? The answer to this latter question is no. Before I elaborate on this, I know what some of us might be thinking.
“Out of all the evil and sin in the world, let alone in the church, you choose to write a blog post on cursing?! What about abortion, murder, stealing, you know, the big stuff? C’mon, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that serious, Ed.”
“I’m grown. And, yes, I am a Christian. And, yes, I may say a few ‘choice’ words on occasion. But it ain’t like I’m running around sleeping around, or abusing my kids, or doing drugs like some of these other folks. My cursing isn’t hurting anybody. So, give me a break! You are just being self-righteous, Pharisaical, legalistic, and holier-than-thou!”
I hear you. And I have a response to each of those statements. But to do so would only cause us, I am sure, to just go back and forth, tit for tat. But at the end of the day what really matters to all of us as Christians is what God says about this subject. After all, we believe that His thoughts, His words on the matter – as recorded in the Bible – are our final authority, right? Right.
But let me speak to the last sentence in the last statement in quotation above as a segue into God’s Word concerning this issue of profanity in Christianity. I am by no means seeking to be self-righteous, holier-than-thou, etc. I used to curse with the best of them. For those that know me personally, that might be hard for you to imagine. But I did. I am in no way glorifying in it. I simply mention it here for the sake of relating to those who have this sinful, fleshly propensity. However, when the Lord Jesus saved me and as I matured in Him, cursing was one of the sins that I was set free from, practically speaking, quite quickly and was convicted of by the Holy Spirit every time I would slip up. I didn’t have a book, chapter, and verse to point to at the time as the basis for the conviction that I felt. I just knew it was wrong. Then one day during my regular Bible reading I came across a passage of Scripture that spoke directly to it (as well as to other sins):
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from you mouth.” (Colossians 3:5-8, ESV, emphasis mine; see also, Ephesians 5:4)
According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the Greek word for “obscene talk” can also be understood to mean “foul speaking.” It is a compound word with the first word being defined as “base or dishonorable.”
Some questions naturally arise: What is considered to be base or dishonorable words? Who determines what they are? These questions are fair. But in all honesty, the spirit that is sometimes behind this type of inquiry is not completely sincere. In certain cases, we ask these questions with an underlining goal to justify our coarse language, not necessarily to seek truth or goodness with the intent of altering our behavior to match it. But, back to the questions at hand.
If you notice, the Scripture doesn’t tell us specifically what words or phrases would be considered off-limits for believers. Why? Well, I believe because God knew that in some regards they would vary from culture to culture, from place to place, and even from conversation to conversation. Having said that though, it seems that certain terminology is fast becoming universal due in large part to the interconnectedness of the world via technology. Certain questions could be asked that would possibly help to mark out those terms that would be deemed obscene, but – and I could be wrong here – I don’t think it’s necessary. Because in this fallen world we live in I think those words are already identifiable. They are those words that the majority of humanity wouldn’t want spoken by or around our little children. They are those words that are spoken in stand-up comedy shows and rapped and sung in the songs of the sinful sectors of the mainstream music/entertainment world. In other words, to state it plainly and frankly, you and I both know what obscene talk is and what is considered as such in our various contexts. We are adults after all, right? So, with all due respect, let’s not play games here.
To this issue of cursing not being bad or wrong as long as we are not hurting anyone, let me say this: It is hurting someone, and His name is God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). We should seek to not grieve the Holy Spirit through the use of profanity (or any other “sins of the mouth” for that matter) in verbal or virtual communication (Twitter/Facebook abbreviations included).
There is no expectation of perfection here. None of us will be able to obtain that until the return of the Lord Jesus when we will be gloriously transformed. But we should be progressing, growing, and repenting. And if you are a Christian who used to cuss like a sailor (Just a colloquialism; not typecasting seamen or seawomen), as I once did, but still deals with a real, pronounced temptation to do so, know that in Christ sin has no dominion over you (Romans 6). And if you do sin in this way, don’t downplay or dismiss it, and in no way justify it, regardless of whether it was mild cursing or otherwise. Sincerely confess it to God. If you curse someone out, humbly ask them for forgiveness (this includes your children as well). Deal with your cursing in a way that honors the Lord Jesus and respects people.
Father, may you help us, through the Holy Spirit, to refrain from the profane and to honor you and represent Jesus well with our whole lives, including what comes out of our mouths and through our keyboards, tablets, and smartphones. In the name of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus, we pray, Amen.
There I was sitting across the table from them: two young adults who were engaged to get married. Our initial session went well. We introduced ourselves and gave the cliff notes version of our life stories. I joked and laughed with them to break the ice. Everything was going okay, that is until we jumped into our first major topic for the evening. Right off the back, I could tell their relationship was in trouble. “How so?” you might ask. Because of how they communicated with each other.
Communication is one of the main issues that we deal with in relationships in general and marriages in particular. It is especially challenging when conflict surfaces. Sometimes your experience in communicating with your spouse during conflict can be like driving through a dead spot while talking on your cell phone: a lot of interference, breaking up, and dropped calls. We all have those moments. But through prayer and some work, we can experience better communication with our spouses in times of tension. Here are 15 random, rapid fire pointers to help you communicate more effectively in marriage when facing conflict (Note: I alternate at times between “they” and “he or she” in reference to spouses so as to minimize repetitiveness):
1. Seek to not respond when you are highly frustrated, angry, or emotional.
2. Call a timeout to calm down, pray, and think.
3. Ask questions of your spouse before you make statements to your spouse.
4. Acknowledge and articulate when you are becoming defensive or if something bothered or hurt you.
A quick word to the husbands, the men (women are not excluded from this point, but I am a man and want to speak to them specifically for a second) who are not okay with sharing their feelings: Gentlemen, we need to understand that it is not “unmanly” for us to be honest about how we feel. We need to become more comfortable with verbally expressing how we feel. The truth is, even if we internalize our hurt or pain, it will come out in other ways – ways that generally are not helpful and healthy for our marriages.
5. General rule of thumb: Learn to take what your spouse says at face value. In other words, stop reading into what they are saying. If you are unsure what they meant by what they said, ask, don’t assume.
6. Don’t formulate rebuttals in your mind while your spouse is talking in an effort to win an argument.
7. When the conflict is coming from outside sources, your spouse doesn’t always need you to be in “Consultant” mode.
He or she needs you to switch to “Companion” mode at times . A Consultant is focused on solutions, fixing stuff. A Companion is dedicated to cultivating relationships, i.e., sharing, sympathizing, and empathizing with someone.
How do you determine which mode your spouse needs you in? Ask. However, in my estimation, it is best to set companion mode as your default.
8. Talk to and with your spouse, not at him or her.
9. Don’t always run from conflict. All conflict is not unhealthy. Some issues you need to lean into and work your way through as husband and wife because resolving them will be healthy for you two in the long run.
10. Don’t maliciously push your spouse’s buttons.
11. Work not to speak in absolutes: “You always…,” “You never…,” Instead, you can say, “You have a habit of doing something,” or “You don’t do this all the time, but lately it has been happening quite frequently…”
12. Own your failure to communicate without referring to your spouse’s failure to do so in the past.
13. Instead of saying you need to communicate better, ask what would help us to communicate more effectively in situations like this.
14. If you are a need-space-to-process guy or gal, don’t let a lot of time go by before you talk to your spouse.
Additionally, it would be helpful to give your spouse a specific time that you will be ready to talk. Don’t leave your spouse in limbo.
15. If you are a deal-with-it-right-now guy or gal, and your spouse is a need-space-to-process type of person, then give your spouse time.
Don’t try to force them to talk when they are not ready. It is better to bear momentary tension (to give them the time that they need to process) than to incite a major blowup (because you pressed them to talk).