Encouraging Encouragement

Encouraging Encouragement

Thursday’s Column: “Carlnormous Comments”

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Carl Pollard

Quite possibly one of the most important actions we can do as Christians is encouraging others. With these words we have the ability to build up and unify the church. Encouragement is a very prevalent concept in scripture, but let’s focus on just one passage.
 
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
 
Paul commands us to refrain from unwholesome words. This word, “unwholesome,” would literally be translated as “rotten.” A sane person doesn’t eat rotten fruit or spoiled meat. Why? Because it isn’t safe. It tastes bad. It smells bad. And it’s lost its appeal. Our speech shouldn’t be rotten; that is, our speech should never be filled with words that are bad or unwholesome to the extent of being harmful–words that tear people down. In our new walk in Christ, we should be thoroughly devoted to encouragement, not tearing others down.
 
So we must ask, what is good speech and what does it sound like? Simply put, this would be words that build people up, words that help us reach eternity, words that brings unity and peace, and words that help to encourage and exhort.
 
For example, you would say “Georgia is a great team” instead of “they are the worst team ever.” You would say, Carl you’re looking extra handsome today.” On a serious note, we should be saying words that aren’t negative, that are free from gossip and sin.
 
When Scripture talks about our words, it’s talking about positive versus negative. It is not necessarily a word that is bad, but it is focused on how our words are used. So, how are we using our speech? Are people around me encouraged by what I say? Or are they torn down and destroyed?
 
The Christian walk is to be filled with encouraging words. Specifically, Paul says use words that bring about edification (that which builds up) and that fits the need of the one who hears it. He says in verse 29 that our words can bring grace to those who hear. The word grace here is “the showing of human favor.” When we use edifying words we are showing others that we favor them. We care about them and want what is best.
 
Our new life in Christ is defined by our speech. Speech that stands out from the world. Speech that is clearly seen as different and appealing. May we also look for ways to encourage and build up our church family.
Dave Steeves speaking for the first time encouraged the Lehman congregation with his words and his example!
One Of The Hardest Disciplines To Master

One Of The Hardest Disciplines To Master

Bulletin Article For Lehman Avenue (7/26/20)

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Neal Pollard

Friendships, businesses, marriages, organizations, and churches all suffer when this fails. There are many more ways to do it wrong than right. But, it is the lifeline of every important relationship, from God to mankind to the smallest child. Here are some suggestions that can help us all improve in it.

C–orrespond. It is not communication if only one side is doing it. At times, we send the message that a person is not important or valued if their email, text, or phone call is not followed up on. Likewise, a relationship cannot be strong where only one side is talking.

O–penness. We may not know how to disagree, correct, or suggest something to someone without fearing that it will escalate, be taken the wrong way, or just be unpleasant. So, we may mask criticisms, feelings, suggestions, or complaints so effectively that the other person is unaware of how we feel. Each of us need to be approachable and reasonable so that others feel free to be open with us. “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed” (Prov. 27:5). 

M–anage. Sometimes, we fail to communicate (especially by phone, email, or other electronic means) because a person too frequently reaches out to us or consumes a lot of our time. It is important to maintain balance and keep control of our own resources like time and productivity. Most of us have several people and obligations in our lives and cannot let one or a few take up all of our time (Eph. 5:16). 

M–odel. Take the first step. Show others by example how to effectively communicate. Learn and grow, then turn and show. Read the gospels and see how Jesus communicated. He is the great example (1 Pet. 2:21). 

U–nity. “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Communication allows us to know what others are thinking, whether they are in agreement or disagreement. Unity is forged through communication. Division thrives in miscommunication or the failure to communicate. How bound together can homes, churches, friendships, and workforces be where communication is lacking?

N–otice. Some of the best communication occurs when we are tuned in to people. In face to face conversation, observing body language and tone of voice. On the phone, listening for verbal cues and clues. In written correspondence (messages and emails), discerning what the main point is. Communication is at least as much about being an effective listener as it is about getting our message across clearly. Great communicators are attuned to others. 

I–mportant. Good communicators make sure that everyone at work, church, school, home, and the like feel valued. Avoid being selective and making only rich, powerful, pretty, or smart people (as we judge it) feel important. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35). Should we be?

C–ourtesy. How much does it cost to be kind, yet what dividends can it pay in relationships? Being responsive sends such a powerful message. So does being ignored. The Golden Rule is simple: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31). 

A–dapt. Everyone has their preferred methods of communication as well as those they dislike. Be guided by how others prefer to communicate and try to accommodate as you are able. It’s not fair to expect everyone to communicate with you only in the way you prefer. This is an example of Paul’s being all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:19-22). 

T–imely. Delay becomes disregarded at some point. Procrastination is the thief of time, but also the robber of relationships. We can actually more efficient if we will respond quickly, if possible. If we are prevented from immediately replying, we should make it a priority or we easily forget. 

E–veryone. These rules of communication really apply to all of us, no matter who we are, what the relationship is, or what we do. Some of the busiest people I know are nonetheless great communicators. They have no more time, intelligence, or ability. They realize how vital it is to the overall well-being of their relationships. Christians are in the relationship business!

Bad Breath Babbling

Bad Breath Babbling

Neal Pollard

You want to do some appetizing research?  Go to the Mayo Clinic website and read about what causes bad breath. The harbingers of halitosis include food that gets stuck in your teeth, tobacco, poor dental hygiene, dry mouth (this occurs most frequently when sleeping at night, thus “morning breath”), oral infections, and many similar pleasant precipitators (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bad-breath/basics/causes/CON-20014939).  Now isn’t that a joyful matter to ponder!

Well, have you considered the very graphic imagery Paul uses in Ephesians 4:29 to describe improper speech?  He says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth…”  That word “unwholesome” is an interesting word (ESV—”corrupting”).  It is from a Greek word meaning “to cause to decay” (TDNT).  The footnote of my Bible says “literally, rotten.”  The Greeks used the word to describe what offends the sense of sight and smell, but it came to describe even offensive sounds as an ancient fragment from Theopompus Comicus used the word to describe the “unpleasant sounds of flutes” (CAF, I, 746). They used the word to describe bad vegetables and rotting fish (WSNTDICT).

Notice what the Holy Spirit through Paul does with the word.  In guiding the Ephesians in how not to walk, Paul gets graphic by warning against “smelly speech.”  Get the picture by considering the descriptive word.  When you talk, does what you say have the figurative effect of compost, fish carcasses, and the like?  Or, let us come at it by way of contrast, as Paul does.  Instead of uttering waste dump words, use “only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

Throw away trashy speech through uplifting, timely, graceful talk!  Is what you say helpful to others? Does it build them up? Does it bring them closer to Christ? Is it just the right word at the right time?  If so, it’s like moral mouthwash!

If not, then let God’s diagnosis hit home!  Clean up your conversations.  Make sure what you say to others is to them a breath of fresh air!