The Words Coming Out of My Mouth

Here is the second piece I wrote for our church’s Daring Faith campaign.  Feel free to comment and share!

Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

wp-1474424742028.jpgAre you like me? Are you a little concerned at times that sharing your faith in Christ might offend someone?  Has it kept you silent in those opportune moments when you have a person in front of you who needs to hear the truth of God’s Word?  Yeah.  Me too, and if we are honest, we all would admit to having those moments.  So how do we change it?

Growing up, I always viewed this verse as a mandate for me to share the Word of God with every unsaved person I meet in order to give them the opportunity to come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but is it possible there is more there than that? I think there might be.  I see Paul’s words here in Romans 10 as a challenge to us, just like I was taught, but I also see something that should make us all pause and think for a moment.

What if this verse is talking about my faith as a believer being the catalyst for someone to come to know Christ?

I sometimes feel that sharing my faith will fall on deaf ears or that I might offend, but when I am honest with myself, I think it is more like I am not always able to show a true belief in what I am saying.  I believe in Christ, and I trust Him for my salvation, but my faith in Him is not strong enough to compel someone to ask a question or engage in a conversation.  It’s not that an unsaved person is dependent on anything I bring to the table, but am I making a strong enough case for what Christ is doing in my life that it makes them want the same thing?

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The time I spend in God’s Word has a direct effect on how well I am able to speak to the spiritual needs and concerns of those I come in contact with.  My time in the Word provides insight to situations, points our deficiencies in my character I can address with God’s help, and knowledge to know just how to do those things as God provided His wisdom and the opportunities to use it.

That time in the Word develops my faith in the living God and it keeps Him in the front of my mind.  It gives me strength for the day, and excitement to share what He is doing.  It provides instant recall to His promises and His record of provision.  Having all of this at my fingertips as a result of my time hearing the Word allows me to provide a more compelling testimony to those who are searching.  We might not realize it, but they are always listening for real faith.

That is why I want to be Relentless in my growth as a believer.  I am not going to do it right all of the time, and I will have periods of time when it seems like nothing is happening at all, but I never want to settle.  The actions I take toward knowing Christ better and the experiences I share about how He is working in me are all opportunities for someone to hear that little thing that may draw them to know Christ as well.  It’s not me.  It is Christ using me.

  • Do you have opportunities to share God’s work in your life? Are you capitalizing on them?
  • Are you spending time in the Word on a regular basis?
  • Who can you start talking to about what God did for you this week?

Father, we have a hard time believing those we don’t know, and we have your Word to show us how to know you better.  Help us to take those moments in Your Word and treasure them.  Use them to build our faith as we listen to Your Spirit speaking into our hearts and give us the opportunity and excitement to share Your good news with those who need You.

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Pass The Ketchup. This Might Go Down Hard.

eating crowAs a rule, I really try to make it a point to never discuss anything about work on this blog.  I do that for a few reasons, but the main one is that I never want to say anything that might cast my employer, client, or co-workers in a bad light.  So, why am I going to break that rule?  Because in this story, there is only one person that really comes off looking bad, and since he is the one writing the story, I think we will be OK.

Wednesday I was trying to accomplish something with a person outside the organization, and I was having a very difficult time in getting anything done.  At one point in the conversation I began to feel as if I was being accused of not knowing what I was talking about (which I did) and that I was actually lying about it (which I was not).  Those of you that know me or have read some of my blogs, might recognize that these are two things that really bother me.  I have wrestled with them for years, and while I am getting better, I’m not where I want to be yet.

As the conversation continued, I began to feel myself getting angry. (Score a point for recognizing it!)  As I realized the anger was beginning to rise, I calmly requested that the person check their facts and they would see that I was correct in what I had said.  In fact, there are others that can corroborate the validity of my statement. (Score another point for being calm!)  At this point I politely requested that the person refrain from speaking to me in a manner that was condescending and accusatory. (Score another point for talking about my feelings as a path toward a reconciliation!)

We then carried on for a few moments in a civilized manner and progress started to be made as plans began to take shape.  I was pleased.  I had been heard.  I was right. I was recognized as telling the truth.  Then it happened…

“Well, since we are the subject matter experts, we will look into this to see where you made a mistake.  Once we figure that out and put together what you think you did, we will get back to you.”

*SNAP*  (All points fell off the board when that 30 megaton nuke hiding behind that little hangy-thingy in the back of my throat went off drowning out all other voices and laying waste not only to the conversation, but also any vestiges of cooperation that had been achieved.)

When I had finished my rant, I hung up the phone and sat back for them to make their little investigation knowing full well that they would find that I was correct.  Within a couple of hours I received a short and very direct e-mail stating that while the things I said were correct, it never should have been that way and there was something that had been wrong in the process in the past that needed to be rectified.  “We are looking into that and will let you know when we have come up with a solution.” Ha! Vindication!

Thursday morning when I woke up I could not stop thinking about the way I had acted the day before.  In my mind I realized I had been too hard on them.  Maybe I should have done things differently, but they were wrong and they refused to acknowledge it.  I had a duty to point it out! I came to work and needed to contact one of those people and received no response after a couple of attempts.  Later I did exchange an e-mail or two, but they were very short, direct, and cold.   I thought, “They’ll get over it.  It was their mistake. Not my problem.”

When I got home I sat down to have my daily Quiet Time in the Word.  I opened the book of Titus, where I have been reading and was faced with the following verse:

“Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.” – Titus 2:2

I was hit hard between the eyes with what I had done.  Nothing in the way that I had acted was controlled, worthy of respect, wise, filled with love or patient.  In a nutshell, I was a jerk.  I sat there staring at my Bible and began an argument with God.

“How can You show me this right now?  I was right, and they were acting out of their own interests in complete disregard for me and what I was trying to accomplish with them!  Why are You drawing my eye to this verse? There must be something in here that would better suit me for today!”

No.  This is the lesson for the day.

I walked away for a few minutes and did some other stuff in the house.  Refusing to even sit down and finish my journal entry.  Not because I didn’t want to confess it to God, but because I knew what else I had to do.  Something really hard.  Something I had seen my buddy Ray model for me earlier this year.  I love that guy, but in the moment I wished I had never met him so I would not have seen how God took him through a similar situation.  He had done the hard thing.

Eventually I returned to my desk, Bible, and journal.  I confessed my sin of anger and my lack of all those things that I should be showing in my life as a believer.

Then the really hard part.  I drafted a letter to the men that I had mistreated:

Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith,

As I have gone through my day today, I have felt badly about yesterday and how things took such a rough turn with Mr. Jones. It was a very frustrating time, and I did not come off well in that conversation. Thinking back, I can only imagine what you guys thought of me afterward, and deservedly so. Right or wrong, in that situation, I behaved wrong. Regardless of the subject matter at hand, who was correct or any of it, I was wrong in the way that I spoke to you in anger and with little to no respect.

Today when I got home from work, I sat down to do my daily Bible reading and I read this verse from the book of Titus:

“Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have strong faith and be filled with love and patience.”

Guys, I teach at my church. I lead a group of men in Bible study. I’m supposed to live out what I believe and teach. Not because it makes me look good, but because it is the right thing to do. Yesterday I didn’t do that. You can probably read back through the verse and tick off the things I botched up. I see it, and I am sorry.

I am asking your forgiveness for the way that I acted. I hope you can do that. I also ask that if I start to act out like that in the future, that you will remind me of this. Just say the word “Titus” either on the phone (then hang up on me) or in an e-mail. I will get the message. I will still do my job to the best of my ability, and there will be times that we will disagree, but I do not want to get angry and act that way. That is not who I aim to be.

Again, I am sorry, and I ask for your forgiveness.

Tom

I sent the letter off and while I was uneasy about how they would respond, and admittedly, I was nervous about sharing this part of my faith, I felt better as the night went on.  I knew I had done the right thing even when it meant sacrificing my “position” of being right.

This morning, I received responses from both of those men.  They were very gracious, and gave me the forgiveness I had requested.  It felt better than being right.  A lot better.  I’m not sure if in doing this a door to speaking to them more about Christ has been opened.  I do know that they saw the work of Christ in a life through it though.  I hope that will be a seed used in the future.eat crow

Relentless living is not about keeping score.  It is about staying close to God.  I messed it up.  No doubt about it.  the thing is, I was closer to Him now than I have been in the past when I have had similar outbursts, and I came face to face with it faster and through Christ I had the courage to do the hard thing.  Not just because it was right, but also because I had a friend show me the way to do it.  Thanks, Ray, for being Relentless in your growth as well.

So, I had to “eat crow”.  It wasn’t fun, and I know the result might not always be as good as it was this time, but it was the right thing to do. The hard thing to do.  The Relentless thing to do.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong