We Live In The World Of Words
I repeatedly find myself being mentally caught by striking, interesting, and/or unusual verbal imagery. It is because I traffic in the world of words. I, along with many other, spend my life speaking, whether it be . . . .
- in preaching
- Bible teaching
- the time we spend before and after a church service, in the isles and/or overflow of a church
- at the quarterly or annual business meetings – which may last longer than a sermon or two
- informally at the homes and businesses of others
- during a church social or event
- at funerals
- at weddings
- at Bible studies
- in sharing the Gospel
- during times of formal and informal counseling
- in the creation of an announcement or the doing of the church bulletin‡
- in a blog or webpage
. . . . As speakers, our lives are about words – about communication.
Aristotle stated that there are only three professions which benefit from the study of “rhetorical theory”* and one of them is “religion.” In fact, many do not realize that much of the rhetorical theory of the 16th, 17th, and 18th century was written by “Christian” preachers and speakers.** Even today, one of the great speakers of our era was Martin Luther King, a Baptist minister.
We live and die in the world of words, and because of that reality, there are . . . .
- poor [and]
. . . . preachers and teachers***.
Always remember that there will be someone (or someones) who will come up to you and thank you for the message. Die to such praise as much as you want to die to criticism!
When someone says that they were blessed by your message, or that they got something out of it, it may be that you promoted their memory to think about a truth they had not thought about for some period of time, not that you . . . .
- clarified a truth or principle
- simplified a truth to where it was better understood
- explained a facet of God which they never saw or grasped before
- gave them an insight into God’s mind and thinking as to __
- drove home the truth of that passage
- framed a truth of Scripture in a way that it will stick with them
- connected a biblical truth with what it actually looks like in life
- exposited the actual passage of Scripture
And that is why we are upfront and why God gifts – “apt to teach.” “Apt to teach” means that some are not apt to teach!
I was reminded once again of the reality that some are either not being trained to be more effective, or not called to the preaching ministry, this past weekend while visiting a local church in the Northeast. As I listened to a “Bible teacher” “talk” for almost an hour (if not an hour, it seemed that long – as Haddon Robinson would say), I said to myself . . . .
Preaching is not a running commentary on the obvious!
A passage of Scripture is NOT designed to be a repository of truths so that can a speaker has enough material to fill “an hour,” jumping from one truth to another. Preaching is not be moving from one “Theological Lilypad” to another.
Nevertheless, (that being said again — and necessarily again), “apt to teach” requires that we have some recognized ability to communicate and/or that we have a desire to develop such abilities and gifts. That is why “words” matter and should matter to someone who has a greater responsibility than that of those who practice the art of communication in law or “politics.”
If a lawyer spends great energy, thinking, and time to create and develop the opening and closing arguments, for the purpose of resolving a matter which faces his or her client, then those who speak the Gospel have no less a responsibility for those who come to us week after week to help resolve a matter in their life.
If “messaging” should matter to a politician, then surely it matters the more to those who communicate God’s truth!
That is why when I read or listen to others (secular or sacred), and come across . . . .
- an interesting way to say something
- a unique word combination
- a way of framing a thought or concept
- a secular explanation of an object, process, or event which is intriguing or fascinating
- a word that I do not know the meaning of
- a word I know but do not typically use
- a word I do not know
- a quote or pithy statement which is not actually true, but useful
- a strained word combination
- a deconstruction of a concept
. . . . I want to write it down, add it to my list of words and thoughts, and/or lock it into my memory. All because — words (and wording) matter!
Just this morning I was reading material which was sent me via an email link – “Okay, let’s see what this is about.” As I quickly scan what I think might be interesting, I find myself caught by the way some things are said. Here are a few of the ones from this morning read. I have highlighted the ways of saying something which catches my attention.
Verbal Imagery: Because Words & Wording Matter
“Advertisements and marketing has designed our needs and wants for us, by leading us to the ever moving target of “happiness” or better yet comfort. . . . these are ever-moving targets that are not anchored in truth and never give you an identity that will weather the highs and lows of life.”
Not living a life of substance and foolish decision creates consequences. Walk this path long enough, and you become buried in mistakes and regret.
I always lacked the anchored knowledge that
I would work very hard, get ahead, but hit a benchmark and find no peace.
If you have lived on this earth for any stretch of time, you have faced — (typically it is said, “for any length of time”)
Notice Jesus does not skip the subject.
Just that feeling like you are blowing it and the weight is beating you down. — (kind of a mixed metaphor?)
But it’s when you get stuck; when you get hung up going around the same mountain. That’s maddening, draining. That’s when you want to stop trying.
little daily fumbles that try to draw us down
The same wind blows on us all. We are all human. We all stumble sometimes. . . . Jim Rohn said,” The same wind blows on us all. And it is not the blowing of the wind that determines our destination, but the set of the sail.”
Our choices chart our life course. . . . That being said, what course are you charting?
Now here is the kicker. Every one of our choices affects other people. — (I’m familiar with that phrase, but never thought to use it in a devotional context.)
Many of us make our decisions based on self-centered priorities. We prioritize comfort, opportunity, and lifestyle.
to look at the path you are paving for your children and your children’s children . . . I wonder where that path goes? . . . Begin a new the vigorous work of blazing a new trail for your children and their children.
It is a scary thought, but it is perhaps one of the most important reckonings to ever face; that of your own death. If we are lucky we get 70 years on this Earth;
- Spring comes and goes 70 times
- Summer comes and goes 70 times
- Fall comes and goes 70 times
- Winter comes and goes 70 times
- Anything past this is more than a blessing.
How many of these 70 seasons have you lived already?
Time passed. Nothing changed. — (It is a short terse way to frame that thought.)
[to give context to this blurb]
There are recovery runs, interval runs and even max effort runs. The first two of my runs were recovery runs. These runs are about running at an even and consistent pace. The progression of each run is to start slow, ease into the full run and allow my body time to wake up and realize its being active. . . . .Regardless of the type of run, easing into it is critical. When I look back at my previous runs I see that I am not running faster, which isn’t the purpose, but I am keeping a steadier pace throughout the run. This is a win. When I was running before, I would always try to be faster throughout, but would end up being slow at the end. . . . spiritual highs and lows, I could live a consistent and steady spiritual life? . . . Similarly, my life mindset had to shift. . . . Often in life we can get stuck in this performance identity
“You know me, I am a philosopher. I love principles. Yes, actions are great and I talk about them regularly, but the important stuff is what lies underneath—the principles,”
Liking people has to do with emotions. Loving people has to do with actions. — Jim Rohn
Sometimes we get faked out. Motivational speaker Bill Bailey says the average person says, “I’ve got 20 more years.” But Bill says you’ve got 20 more times. If you go fishing once a year, you’ve only got 20 more times to go fishing, not 20 years. That fakes you out.
Disciplines create reality. — (I can play with this thought!)
Being raised in a broken home affords you certain perspectives about the Good News of Jesus. Visiting two sides of the family separately always reminded me that things were not as they should be. It was painful every year.
or finally this telling question . . . “Have you been in the ministry for 30 years, or have you been in the ministry one year – thirty times.” Or three years, ten times [Such may describe many a pastor who just keeps moving] — Ted Martens
*The other two are “law” and “politics”. Today, we could add the field of “sales” to those three.
** i.e. — Richard Whatley, Hugh Blair, George Campbell
*** Some may have been called to the ministry, but not the pulpit ministry. Their gifts and abilities reflect that they are not “apt to teach” though they have a clear and beneficial place at a local church ministry, in a professional full-time capacity.
‡ Perhaps some view “church bulletins” as unnecessary today. I do not, but for one primary and significant reason. I wanted to and did spend a considerable amount of time doing the church bulletin week after week. It was because I understood that I had the opportunity to “persuade” – to motivate/frame/ inspire/encourage/teach – through this avenue of communication. People would read it while seated before the service and after church at home IF I took the time for it to make it worth their time. Now if there is someone else who is good or great at making a church bulletin a tool of effective communication (and not just a source of who-when-what), pass it off to them. I took the same approach with the “written programs” we would hand out for and before a special event. While waiting for an event to begin, people would take the time to read what we had included in the program we handed them – separately or within.