Posted tagged ‘Christianity’

Communication

September 1, 2011

Can You Hear Me?

If you won’t communicate either by expression or listening you can’t have a healthy relationship. Spouses who won’t listen or talk to each other are destroying any opportunity to have a blessed family. Leaders who do not express dreams, hopes, expectations, encouragement and instruction to the church will never lead the church to the glorious maturity God wants her to have. Churches that stop listening to elders and deacons and fellow members limp along until they finally die.

Most troubles start when feelings are hurt causing people halt their interaction with one another. It is then that people either assume what the other person is thinking or what they meant. This is a dangerous practice. Only when we truly listen and then respond calmly and controlled can a amicable solution come.

Granny always reminded us that God gave us one mouth and two ears so we should do more listening than talking. However, in some cases getting someone to talk about what is hurting or is bothering them is almost impossible. My wife often reminds me to “Use words Joe, I can understand them.” Often I just expect her to know what I am thinking, I expect her to realize why I am hurt, or sad or sullen. That supposition is unfair and causes even more problems.
Talking about hopes and disappointments will give your relationships more building blocks for strength. Just knowing what and how another person thinks makes for deeper comradeship.

Many people suffering marriage, family or church struggles can trace them back to the halting of open communication. Paul helps us to see our need to work toward peaceful relations with everyone.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19

“complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

None of these directives from the apostle can happen until we are willing to communicate with one another. Euodia and Syntyche were hurting each other and the family of God. Paul pleaded with them to work out their differences for the benefit of all.

The work of preaching seems to some to be one sided because it is all talking. However, the best preaching comes from elders listening to the cares of the flock and then having the preacher bring God’s word on the subject. Leaders must listen with a heart to really understand the needs of a church. Often what people complain about is not the real sources of the problem. This is true with all people, they have a limit to the stress they can take and it might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back that is lamented. But, if you dig deeper one learns that other trials and hurts are just below the surface. Urging people to discuss their pain might reveal opportunities to minister to them.

The fine art of communication is so multifaceted that many of us never learn to understand it all. However the two most basic are talking and listening. Use these two regularly and your will bless your own life and those of others.
Having said all of this I am also mindful of the times in life when we need to do no talking. Sometimes speech is like gasoline on the fire. It is better to remain silent than badger someone who is so hurt or angry that they cannot bear hearing another word. During those times it is best to give time for cooling of temper and healing of brokenness. This is in itself communication of humility and love. I don’t have to have the last word in the argument. Leaving a conversation open for later resolution is far better than closing communication for ever.

Joe Chase

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Participating without the Participation

December 2, 2010

On many occasions I’ve heard about people leaving the worship assembly feeling like nothing happened to change their lives.  As one man put it “We start at 10:00 sharp and end at 11:00 dull. How can it be that some folks come expecting great things and leave disappointed that nothing special happened?

The activity of worship doesn’t change a whole lot from week to week (it’s content and what we are supposed to do is settled by Scripture).  We sing, we pray, we give a donation, we listen to a sermon, and eat the same Lord’s supper week after week.  Not much changes.  So it is quite easy to participate in a ritual without having to really involve the heart, mind and soul. Our bodies just seem to go through a well practiced pattern.

It is easy to fix blame on worship leaders. We can complain about boring songs, long sermons, rehashed prayers.  But is that really the problem?  How is it that one person can come to worship and be excited, motivated, uplifted, and satisfied while the person next to him leaves bored, lifeless and disappointed?

Our worship is an offering to God.  We assemble to praise, worship and extol Him.  It is our opportunity to pour out our hearts and our love to the Father.  This originates from our hearts.  I am reminded of God’s words…

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Could it be that many are not finding strength, joy and fulfillment in the worship of God because their hearts are not in it?  Maybe much of the problem of dull assemblies falls upon each of us, in that what we put into the worship isn’t very exciting, energetic or motivating.  Perhaps attendance isn’t enough to make worship a special time.  Perhaps merely being in the crowd isn’t fulfilling.  It’s time to seek God with our whole heart.  I need to prepare for worship by getting my heart ready to meet God.  My heart, my mind, my body needs to be engaged in giving my best to God.  Then He will be pleased and I will be rewarded with His presence in worship.  Who could consider that dull?

Spectator worship is truly boring and lifeless.  Engaging worship involves the whole heart and being of the individual.  Singing out, praying along, giving cheerfully, listening and applying the word of God, and meeting Jesus in the Lord’s Supper these things depend on you and not much on anyone else.  Worship with the saints can often be a reflection of our own personal worship habits.  What is your worship like at home?  How fulfilling is your daily devotional time?  If those lack spirit and energy then most likely you will bring that same spirit and energy to the church building  to do the same with everyone else.

Joseph D. Chase
Gladewater, Texas

 

Getting Along

November 12, 2010

My childhood memories are filled with the joys of arguments with my sisters.  It brought me great pleasure to needle them to the point of explosion.  It seemed all my sisters had large red buttons that read “PUSH ME”.  I obliged them as often as possible.  Often that chicanery and misdemeanory spilled over to others as well.  Picking on people for sport became a treasured past time for me.  I’ve come home from school on many occasions with either a black eye, or a paddled behind as payment for taking things a bit too far with people of little tolerance for my sport.

Surprisingly, turns out people don’t like being picked on as much as I like picking on them.  I learned I would have to dial back my pursuits to irritate everyone in the world if I was going to have any friends or more importantly influence people for good.

The Lord expects us to win souls into the Kingdom.  Much of the skill in doing this requires getting along with people.  I believe Paul put it perfectly…

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4).

The key is to try to treat others with respect, kindness and love. Like Jesus told us “…whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12). Getting along with people paves the way for us to share with them the peace that Jesus provides to all mankind.

I hope I have put away childish things as I try to “get along” with everybody.  The higher calling is “to do good to all men especially those of the household of faith.”

Lord, please guide my life to get along with people in such a way that I can show them your love, your hope for their salvation.  This is my prayer through Jesus.

Friendship A Great Tool For Serving God

October 12, 2010

Good friends are really a treasure.  They are hard to find and need to be held on to tightly.  For the Christian, friends who help you live for the Lord, are a true blessing from the Lord.  There are many places in the Bible that warn us not to have bad friends that would pull us away from God.  We also learn from Scripture to build loving relationships with God’s people.  Many passages which deal with brothers and sisters point to friendship within the kingdom of God.

Isn’t it true that making friends who have a firm relationship with God helps us to develop our relationship with the Lord?  We for sure know that the opposite is certain.  Friendships in the family of God won’t happen by accident.  We have to be friendly and cultivate the relationships we want to have in God’s family (Proverbs 18:24).  An old professor at North East Texas College used to have a motto: “Success is equal to time on task.”  Working on a relationship of any kind is mandatory.  I am afraid if we only spend the hour or two we see each other on Sunday and Wednesday to build Christian friendships we may never really have any true friends.  After all, much of our focus at the church house is God focused and worship purposed.  We need to make time to be together throughout the week.  I’ve always wondered where the time for older women to teach their younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:3-5).  Good teaching comes when the bond of friendship is the backdrop for that instruction.

Friendship sometimes will be the only thing that can pull us through a spiritual crisis.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).

Do all you can to build and maintain good friendships with God’s people.  It’s also a great idea to win friends from the world to Christ.  Be the kind of friend who is soul minded (Proverbs 11:30).

So You Want to Pray Better?

May 12, 2010

Praying is just as much a skill as any communication. It doesn’t take a degree in speech to do it but there are certainly some skills we can hone to make our prayer life more beneficial and meaningful.  Every person is different and we all have varying abilities.  Praying comes very easy for some while it is a difficult practice for others.  One thing is for certain we can all get better at it.

Here are a few suggestions that might help you:

Location, Location, Location. There are so many distractions that steal our concentration, especially if we are trying to pray.  Choose a quiet place away from the noise of the world.  Turn off the TV, radio, telephone ringer and anything else that could disturb your conversation with God.  Jesus even suggested your closet.  Not a bad idea for many reasons.  Praying in seclusion will keep the performer from public displays of faux piety.  It also helps us avoid common obstacles to attention.

It is Now Time For All Good Men To Pray.  Schedule specific times to pray.  Yes, unless you budget time you will lose the opportunity to pray.  It is never a bad idea to schedule a recurring time.  Good habits can be made when we practice them regularly.

Make it a time when you are fresh and awake.  Mornings are not that time for me.  I do mundane things early in the day because my best brain function comes only after a few hours of activity.  Late night isn’t real good for me either, for I often drift off to sleep before I can finish everything I need to speak to God about.

Lunch time and shortly thereafter work best for me.  I look at as an opportunity to feed the mind and spirit.  I am wide awake, have all my mental acuteness ready to focus on my prayer.

I am certainly not saying that you need to pray just once per day.  We can have short conversations with God anytime and all the time.  But the dedicated conversation time where I can go over my prayer list is a definite appointment in my day planner.

Lists and A Journal. I have a several lists that I pray over regularly.  Some are people, some are events, some are personal pleas for spiritual growth and forgiveness.  Often I will rotate my lists so that I don’t pray on auto pilot.

I have one list of Church needs, this includes the sick, the leaders, the teachers, my vision for the family, intercessory prayer for the weak.  I keep the list in list form so I can be fresh as I pray through.

I also have a list for family,our health, spiritual growth, opportunities for further service in the Kingdom, forgiveness, blessings for parents, siblings and offspring, special needs that always arise.  This list helps me stay on task and include everyone I need to be praying for.

I also have a list that deals primarily with thankfulness.  I try to list specific things, people, blessings and opportunities given me by the Lord.  It helps me to see just how much God is working in my life.  As I go through the list there will be other blessings that come to mind that I put into a journal.

I have a friend who writes out almost word for word the prayers she prays.  She collects them in a book and reviews them periodically.  It is a log of the spiritual blessings and growth in her life.  She is able to pray with deeper appreciation for all the ways God has answered her prayers.

My lists serve much of the same purpose.  I use a stenographer’s pad and record the prayer in one column and as I see the answer  I record it in the second column.  It’s a good idea to save these notes for future reading.  I am so amazed at the joy I  experience seeing God’s work done in my life.

Lord willing I’ll give a few more ideas as time allows.  The best advice I’ve ever heard about prayer originates with Paul the apostle.  “Pray without ceasing.”  Pray often and then pray more often.

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Spiritual, Fleshly, Political, Moral

April 13, 2010

It is almost too much sometimes to hold my tongue when it comes to many of my personal political pet peeves.  As a preacher I must “preach the message that God declares” (Jonah 3:2).  Often my political views burn very hot and seem more important than what God declares is important.

Much of what goes on in the halls of congress has nothing to do with what the Church is to be busy doing.  We forget the primary role of Christians is to tell others the good news of Jesus to every one we meet.  We can easily get sidetracked by becoming involved in political issues we believe infringe on our rights.

We need to be crying out against immorality of all types that plague our nation, community and homes.    The moral issues that transcend the political climate.

Christians ought to be much more concerned about the things that effect the eternal welfare of people’s souls.  The Bible speaks out against many things that we should be speaking against. We should do that more than we do about things that are disturbing in Washington D.C. .  “We must obey God rather than man” but let us make certain that what we are upset about are truly hampering our ability to do God’s work on earth.

I guess it would be easier to let the Bible explain for itself what I am inadequate to explain here…

6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 11Command and teach these things.

A dear friend and fellow preacher once told me that we can be Christians and do God’s work no matter who is President, King or dictator.  He also taught me that prayer is more powerful than our votes and preaching the gospel will change the world for good much more than any political speech we could make.  I hope we avoid being entangled in worldly affairs at the cost of losing time doing what God tells us to do.

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Calls in the Night

April 5, 2010

Usually if the phone rings after 10 o’clock at night it brings a sense of dread for fear that something bad has happened.  It usually turns out not to be as bad as imagined but every ring of the phone Old Phoneshakes the heart a little bit.  It turns out that some of the greatest ministering takes place because of those late night phone calls.  If it is a death in a family, a domestic dispute, a run away child all of these horrible problems bring incredible opportunity to bring the Lord’s blessing into a chaotic situation.

I remember several years ago there was a man who would only call me when he had gone on a drinking binge.  Almost every time he called it was near three o’clock  in the morning.  This usually happened once every two or three months.  The man never told me his name or where he lived he just talked about how much he was hurting and how sad he was that his life was in such a mess.  Most of the time we would end up with a prayer asking God to strengthen his resolve to stop his alcohol abuse and to find a church home to help him get away from is drunken lifestyle.  The phone calls stopped for a long period of a few years and I began to wonder if this man had found his footing to get away from his addiction.  I wondered if he had fallen so deep into his bottle that he gave up looking for help.  Then out of the blue a call came.  It was the same voice on the phone but without the drunken stammer.  He told me of his new life as a student in a local community college.  He was getting a certification to help other people who were addicted to alcohol.  He spoke of his new family and his devotion to a baby boy born just a year or so earlier.

To this day I don’t know the man who called in the night.  But one thing I learned is that it is always best to answer the call.  It is always best to lend an ear, give Biblical counsel and pray for the person calling.  Somehow that act of listening and sharing God’s love can bloom and make a striking difference in someone’s life.  If a person is hurting enough to call they are in tremendous need of God’s grace.  We are His hands and His feet to bring His peace to a sin-sick, hurting world.