THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"  

Luke 15:4-6

September 19, 2007

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

There are several verses in Proverbs that talk about the power of our words. Many times, we don't realize the impact that our words have on others. I've heard the expression before that “it's not always necessarily what we say, but how we say it.”

I've noticed in my marriage, that at times I can say something to Jon and it is well received. Other times, I can say the same thing but Jon's response is completely different. Yes, it may be that he's in the middle of working on something or has had a tough day that makes the difference, but usually it's because of how I say it. For example, I may ask him if he would mind taking the trash out and he'll say, “Sure!” and jump up and do it. The next week I may be in a bad mood and think, “Why do I always have to remind him to take the trash out, when he knows we have to do it every week?” So I will say, “Why haven't you taken the trash out yet? You know it needs to be done!” That will usually put him on the defensive.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft (gentle) answer turns away wrath; but grievous (harsh) words stir up anger.”

During my career in banking, I noticed that many times when a customer had made a mistake in their checkbook or their account was overdrawn, they were already on the defense when they came into the bank. At times it was almost impossible, but if I could manage to listen while the person vented out their frustrations without raising my voice or getting upset, then most generally I could get them to calm down. We would then be able to work out the problem and they would leave happier and with a totally different attitude. But occasionally, I would get one of those obnoxious, know-it-all types who would make threats and try to intimidate, and usually nothing would end up getting solved, other than us both being upset and angry.

There is an old saying that you “can't fight fire with fire.” Marriages end, family relationships are broken, friendships are severed, feuds are started, and feelings are hurt because of harsh words that are spoken. One thing that can never be retrieved, are words, after they leave our mouth. I'm sure that each of us have said things that we later wished we could take back.

Another scripture that speaks to the necessity of how we respond to a situation is Proverbs 18:13. “He who answers a matter before he hears the facts, it is folly and shame to him.”

How many times have we jumped to conclusions without knowing all the facts or details of a matter? Sometimes our assumptions, can cause hurt to others. Recently, I received an anonymous letter. I'm sure in their own way, they were trying to offer comfort, but their words caused upset and hurt. The person who had written it had made some very wrong assumptions. Sadly, they didn't sign their name or put a return address on the envelope so I can't go to them and set the record straight. They responded to what they thought took place without first finding out the truth. But the shame is not mine, it's that individuals for jumping to conclusions.

There have been times when I “think” Jon is responding to something I've said or done in a certain way that I'm not happy with, so instead of listening to what he is saying, my mind is thinking up a rebuttal to his words. I end up not hearing what he says, things get misinterpreted, and that's when arguments can start. There have been times when Jon has had to stop me and say, “Honey, you're not listening to what I'm saying.”

How many times have we had someone come to us and say they're being mistreated or misunderstood, and we automatically believe what they're saying? We haven't actually seen that happen, we don't know any details other than what that person has told us, yet we immediately take their side and give our answer to the situation without knowing the whole story or all of the facts. It boosts our ego that someone would come and confide in us, so we give them advice and sympathy without knowing if what they are saying is completely true. At times, if they find that they have our ear, then they will continue drawing us into their situation, and will tell us just enough to make sure they keep our attention, and we end up being upset with people who have never done us any harm and who may not have even done what that person has said. When we do so, that is folly and shame to us.

Proverbs 26:20-22 reads, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts.”

I have heard people say that they don't participate in gossip. Then someone will come to them in “confidentially” to “share what someone said or did”, and that same person will be the first to listen and take sides. I daresay, that most church splits occur because of someone feeling “wronged”, and then people taking sides. At times, it may be that that individual is trying to cover up something in their own life that they know is wrong, so in order to get the attention off from themselves, they try to make someone else look bad. It sometimes amazes me how an individual can have confidence and trust in a pastor or someone else, and have a strong relationship with them; then someone will come along and begin talking about that person, and they will change sides. They will take the side of the “talebearer” or “gossiper”, without finding out all the facts, and it will sever the friendship they once had with the individual being talked about. Whereas, if they had not added “wood” to the fire, it would have died out. Encouraging or participating in gossip or “sharing”, can kill spiritually. We should never be partakers in such acts.

It is so easy at times to become defensive when trying to justify our actions. People don't respond to our decisions or choices as we would like, so we put up a barrier and begin imagining things that are not there or not intended. We need to stop at times and reevaluate our thoughts and attitudes to make sure that we are not reading more into people's words or actions than what is really there, in order to justify what we expect or want. Sometimes it's easier to point our finger at others instead of taking responsibility ourselves. I'm sure you've all heard the saying, “When you point your finger at others, there are three pointing back at you.”

Words can also be used to edify, encourage, and uplift others. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply; and how good is a timely word!” Then Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

There have been so many times when I will hear a sermon, or receive a phone call, e-mail, or card at the time that I most need it. The message, spoken or written, will be exactly what I need for that time. Whether it's someone sharing a scripture, or a note saying that they care, or a word of encouragement, how good it is to receive it! God speaks through us, and when He impresses us to do something, it is important to follow through and do it. He may place that person on your mind for a particular reason. It may be His way of letting you know that they need a word of comfort or encouragement. We shouldn't ignore those feelings, but should follow through and obey as we are prompted by the Holy Spirit.

I have some good friends, where the wife is quite talkative, and the husband is very quiet and slow to speak. His wife once told me that she gets frustrated because it takes him so long to get his thoughts out at times. But she also said that he thinks about every word before he speaks it, and rarely gets his foot in his mouth or says something he regrets, therefore rarely has to go back and apologize. That is something we all could learn from.

Let us all take notice of our words, and use them to encourage and uplift others, and not hurt and tear down. We need to each stop and consider the consequences before speaking or making assumptions. How much better off we would all be if we would stop listening to and participating in gossip, stop criticizing and judging other with our words, and stop jumping to conclusions, without first finding out the whole truth.

We need to each ask God to soften our words, use them to glorify and honor Him, and be a help and benefit to others. May the words that come forth from our mouths be words that are aptly spoken and beneficial.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

A lot of the things we do wrong carry their own punishment. Playing with knives can get a kid cut. Playing with fire can put burnt holes in the living room carpet. Eating too much candy can make you sick. Drinking too much often causes a hangover. Some sins can get a person arrested. Gossiping creates distrust and division. Sure, it creates a little camaraderie for a while. But do you really trust someone who will tell you gossip? Perhaps that's a good measure of what is right and wrong when we have trouble seeing what is justification and what is conscience. If the consequences aren't what God would want for us or for those around us, it's wrong.

ON THE MENEWE:

Hello Dolly Bars

1 stick butter

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened milk

1 cup vanilla wafers, crushed

1 cup black walnuts (or pecans)

1 small pkg. chocolate chips

1 cup coconut

Melt butter in baking pan. Sprinkle over entire pan the ingredients as listed, in order. Do not stir. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

RAM-BLING IDEAS:

Many times when someone has lost a family member, I have heard the comment from other people that they would like to do something, but don't know what. Since this is still fresh on my mind, due to the recent loss of my father, here is a list of ideas. These are things that have been done for members of my family, as well as things done for close friends of mine when they have lost loved ones. There are also ideas that can be used for when there is chronic illness in families.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

I was five years old when my parents added the last addition onto our house. One day they were around back working, when my cousin's son, who lived close by and was about a year younger than me, came down so we could play together. He had his dad's pocket knife, which he had snuck out of his house. He wanted us to throw the knife and try to stick the blade into the ground, something he had seen his dad and uncles do. Daddy had told me that if I played with his pocket knife, I would get a spanking. But I went into the house and secretly got it off from his dresser.

We had not been playing long, when my knife missed the ground and the blade went into my thigh. Blood started running down my leg and I began screaming and crying. Knowing that we were in trouble, my playmate immediately took off running down the road for home. Mama heard me and came to check on me. She saw the blood running down my leg and wanted me to come to her so she could see how bad it was. I took off running away from her. She was chasing me around the yard trying to get me to stop. She kept saying, “Just come here and let me look at it.” I would say, “No! You're going to spank me!” It's not like my parents spanked me very often, or even hit me very hard when they did! According to my sisters, I didn't get nearly as many as they did. Mama promised that I wouldn't be in trouble if I would only stop and let her look at my leg. I'm sure she knew that I had learned my lesson and would never play with my dad's knife again, which I didn't. To this day, I still have a small scar on my thigh from my pocket knife wound.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

“Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.” (Psalms 141:3)

May your week be filled with blessing and may you truly know the depth of love God has for you.

We appreciate and love you all.

Loretta & Jon

shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org