Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Commands of Jesus

Matthew 10:19-20  When they arrest you do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Mark 13:11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit.

Luke 12:11-12  When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.

Luke 21:14 Make up your mind not to worry before hand how you will defend yourselves.

The times have become so unChristian or anti-Christian that whether we’re arrested or just in an unfriendly atmosphere we need to discern what to say and how to say it to present the Truth. Help us learn to lean on you, trust you, discern your ways and walk in them so we will be prepared for such a time. We want to be open enough and in tune enough for the Holy Spirit to speak through us in helping and reaching others for you, whatever the situation.

Matt. 10:23  When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.

I’m glad you have this instruction to flee persecution! This would no doubt be my first inclination. The disciples dispersed to all parts of the known world due in part to persecution - and the result was the spread of the Gospel. We pray for the many Christians around the world who suffer persecution and even imprisonment for their faith. Help them be strong in the faith. Guide, guard and protect them – and use them mightily. 

Lord, I just received a mailing from Voice of the Martyrs with stories of persecution of Christians especially now in Syria. The persecution is from both sides in the conflict. Some Christians are staying there in spite of the danger because they believe You want them to be your witnesses there. What courage and dedication they have. We pray for the Christians in Syria. Bless, guide and protect them. May they inspire boldness in others including us. In Jesus name, Amen

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10 NIV

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Does Tone of Voice Matter?

Q. My wife objects to my tone of voice which she says sounds angry or harsh. She accuses me of yelling at her and the kids. I think I talk in a normal tone of voice even when we’re disagreeing. She gets angry about my tone of voice and then we have words and we both end up angry. Does tone of voice really matter?  How can we solve this problem? 

A. Tone of voice does matter. It’s really true that “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” as Proverbs 15:1 tells us. A study was done years ago to discover how tone of voice affected men in the Navy being given orders. The results showed that the way a sailor was addressed largely determined the kind of response he gave. When a sailor was given an order in a soft voice he responded in a soft voice. When he was shouted at his answer was also sharp.

What we say and the way we say it affects the response we get and leads to either conflict or peace. The words that we say often give a mixed message due to our tone of voice. Our voice conveys a different message than the content. For example, it’s possible to say “Good morning!” in a tone of voice that let’s those around us know whether we’re happy, sad, tired or angry. Our voice can be mellow or harsh, sad or cheerful, tense or relaxed, serious or flippant, hostile or affectionate, gruff or warm, explosive or tender. 
When your wife complains about your tone of voice you need to pay attention. This doesn’t mean you are wrong and your wife is right. She may be highly sensitized to tone of voice or yelling as a result, for example, having had a parent who yelled. Accept the fact that to your wife your voice sounds harsh or even frightening. Make a point of softening your voice. Choose a signal your partner can use to tell you when your voice is becoming loud or harsh.
Practice saying a phrase to your wife in a variety of voice tones while she identifies your mood. The phrase you use can be anything with neutral meaning - “Good Morning!” “Pass the salt” or “How was your day?” Then reverse this. This will help you both learn to tune into the underlying feelings in the other person. It will also help you learn that much of what we communicate is communicated non-verbally. Tone of voice matters. 

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Commands of Jesus

Matt. 9:35-38 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

Luke 10:2 ”The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

John 4:35  ”I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

In Mathew’s gospel the context of this plea for workers gives many details: Jesus has been preaching and teaching the good news in many towns and he healed every disease and sickness. Yet in looking over the crowd he has compassion on them because they are “harassed and helpless” like lost sheep. The Message says “his heart broke” because they are “confused and aimless.” Jesus is moved because their spiritual needs are even more desperate than their need for physical healing. This is often true of us and our world. Aren’t today’s people in our nation as well as other nations “harassed and helpless?” Aren’t many “confused and aimless?” Aren’t our spiritual needs at the root of many of our troubles?

Jesus’ call for harvest workers is not as simple as I thought. He tells the disciples to PRAY to the Lord so he will send more workers. Jesus in effect is saying our prayers make a difference. Our prayers to God for workers are effective and result in people hearing God’s call. Are we called to be workers? We should first pray and then wait for God’s specific call on our lives. What does he want me to do? There is a great need for many workers to help our sin-sick world.


Father, we need harvest workers to reach out to the hurting and lost people in the world who don’t know you. We pray, as Jesus commanded, Lord, send out workers. Show us how to impact others spiritually so they can come to know you. Show us the ways you want us to spread the good news and win disciples to you. We pray for the many missionaries and ministries around the world who reach lost and desperate people offering them food, water, shelter, and medical care as well as teaching them about you. Bless and empower them. May all Christians reflect your glory to the world so you can set them free. 

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Change That Transforms

Scripture says: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:17-18)

So those who are in Christ – those who have committed their lives to Him - are completely transformed! We are new creations! Some times this is hard to believe.

In my book Changing Churches I compare Christ-like transformation to the dramatic change that happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Think about the complete metamorphosis a caterpillar experiences. The caterpillar must “die to “self.”  Buried in his cocoon for a while, at just the right time he struggles to emerge. A colorful creature appears. What an amazing change! What a marvelous transformation!

Are we new creations yet? Have we been transformed? We live a seemingly caterpillar life in this world much of the time. But as Christians we are being changed by His love and grace. Our change is a process engineered by the Holy Spirit. We are in Christ and He is in us. He molds and makes us after His will. We must renew our minds by soaking in His Word. We must “die to self” daily. When we do this focusing our eyes on Him we become new creations – like butterflies.

When “butterfly” Christians are unified as a church we are transformed into His Body here on earth. Are we amazed by this? I certainly am. Jesus said, “On this rock, I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). The rock is Peter’s recognition that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. When the church is built on Him and His Word it will be a transforming church. We don’t transform ourselves, He does it. The early church lived in oneness with the Spirit and prayed continually. Ultimately they impacted the world.

Dear Father,
You are holy, holy, holy. You are Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Help us yield to your Holy Spirit, die to self and live transformed lives. Use us as channels for your transforming love, so the world may know that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In his precious name we pray. Amen.

May your life be filled with His transforming goodness and grace.
Blessings in Christ, Dottie

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do Questions Help or Hurt Communication?

Q.  I'm unhappy with marriage. My husband rarely volunteers information about himself. At meals I try to get conversation going and nothing happens. In fact, the he seems to resent my questions. Sometimes he acts as though I'm giving them the third degree. What do you suggest?
One way to improve communication with your husband is to stop asking questions! This can produce amazing results in a very short time. Most of us ask too many questions. There are many reasons why we use questions and why questions stop the flow of conversation rather than encourage it. As a talkative person you may have become anxious about what is going on inside your quiet husband. Out of your anxiety you bombard him with questions. The more questions you ask the more pushed your husband feels and the more he withdraws. Thus a vicious circle is formed. 

Questions Can Hinder Communication          
Questions "require" or "demand" an answer. The questioner expects an answer from the other person. Many of us resist anything forced upon us. We politely resist questions by giving one word answers or saying "I don't know."
Questions suggest an unequal relationship. The questioner is in control and is "one-up" on the person being questioned. Think for example of how you feel when questioned by a job interviewer, a teacher or a police officer. We feel good about ourselves when we feel equal to others not when we feel one-down.
Questions trigger defensiveness. The responder often has no idea what prompted your question yet he is expected to give an answer. Even a seemingly simple question may be experienced as an invasion of one's privacy or as a criticism.
Questions often avoid the main issue. For example, if you ask your husband "Do you have to work on Saturday?" He may avoid answering because he thinks you have a major chore in mind for him. Instead tell him what’s behind your question, what you’re wanting – such as "I'd like to go to a movie on Saturday. I hope you won't be too tired." The more you share directly what you think or feel the more your quiet partner will respond. It will take thought and determination to change your habit of asking questions. With time you will learn to say what you’re thinking directly without asking a question.

The right word at the right time is like a custom made piece of jewelry.”  Proverbs 25:11 The Message

Blessings, Dottie