The Whisperer…

We’ve all had the experience of having a disagreement that developed wings and flew way beyond the boundaries of the subject at hand.  You find yourself wondering how you got from here…to there.  The nature of human relationships makes misunderstanding a part of terrain we have to navigate. Because we’re individuals and have our own unique perspectives, learning how to engage and interact with one another is a lifelong learning process.

I tend to have a naive inclination to think that if I explain myself, eventually the ‘other’ will understand.  While explanation and communication can be helpful and talking things out may help gain perspective, at the root of things, I’ve found that disagreements and discord are more about the heart of the matter than anything else.  Wounded hearts, frazzled emotions, disgruntled thoughts, deflated pride  – these do more to foster animosity amongst us than most of us would care to admit.

iStock_000016661379SmallIn Proverbs 26:20,  we read these words: ‘For lack of wood a fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer quarreling ceases.’ This proverb has always held some fascination for me.  In some translations, the whisperer is termed the ‘gossip’ or tattlebearer.  When building a fire, kindling is required for the fire to continue to burn.  This verse indicates that the fire of a quarrel is influenced by something or perhaps someone called a ‘whisperer’.  Whispering, (the gentle muttering underneath the breath) apparently has the ability to serve as fuel for creating a scorched earth aftermath when it comes to relationships.

I am indebted to Brian Hardin of the Daily Audio Bible for his broadcast on October 29, 2014 for a particularly helpful insight on the nature of discord and how the ‘whisperer’ serves to fuel conflict in interpersonal relationships.  In verse 22 of Proverbs chapter 26, we are informed that: “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels, they go down into the inner parts of the body.”  This reference would indicate that in some fashion, whispering is able to transcend ordinaary speech and become part of the spiritual reality within the inner recesses of the human soul.

Most of us can relate to the conversation in your head after an argument or disagreement.  You know, the seemingly endless barrage of ‘additional points’ one could have made but didn’t think about in the moment.  But we don’t ask ourselves the question – WHO is continuing the argument after the situation has long receded?  Could it be the ‘whisperer?  The not so silent inner voice which wants to continue to score points, which wants to be right at all cost?

The whispering spirit is a type of temptation.  One which is intimately acquainted with the human condition.  It speaks to us with our own voice, lulling us into the fantasy of absorbing the morsels of poison being fed into our inner parts without questioning the source.  Because it is a type of fuel, disagreements continue unabated until the earth is scorched.  Unfortunately, the terrain in question is the charred remains of human relationships which are sometimes irrevocably changed by the words of the tongue.

So is there a solution?  I think Proverbs 26:20 gives us some vital information.   We all know that fire needs certain conditions in which to burn.  Remove the oxygen or the wood and it eventually goes out.  The same can be said for the ‘whisperer’.  We must recognize that not every voice which speaks to us is speaking for our benefit.  In James 3:6, we are told that the tongue is a flame, a world of evil – potentially a world of evil which has the capacity to set the whole course of a life aflame. This gives one pause to think about how devastating the impact of evil whispered words can be.

We must learn to take authority over the ‘whisperer’ by negating its power to control and ruin our lives and relationships.  The Bible tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty for bringing down strongholds and things which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

We don’t have to simply swallow morsels which assuage our pride; we can make a conscious choice to stop consuming these toxic mental suggestions.  We can make a decision to stop fueling the flame of distortions and judgemental thinking.  When the fuel is removed, the fire eventually dies out.  It will take time and energy and grace to rebuild what has been destroyed, but if we continue to let the fire burn unabated, that process of regeneration cannot commence.

The Way…

19406120_sEveryday, we are faced with decisions.  Most of us want to make good decisions.  Sometimes, poor decisions are made willfully, but at other times they are the product of our ignorance and immaturity.  One of the most powerful passages of scripture is Psalm 25 which begins with a plea to God to show us His ways.  Here are some thoughts about the Ways of the Lord which were a part of my morning meditation today.

The Ways of the Lord

The Way of Truth

Psalm 25:4-5  “Show me your ways, O Lord.  Teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long”

Meditation:  I need the Father to show me the way.  My human frailty often fails to discern what is right and best.  God promises to be with me.  His presence with me throughout the days is there to guide and sustain my hope and trust in him.

The Way of Mercy and Love

Psalm 25:6-7 ” Remember O Lord your great mercy and love for they are from of old.  Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.  According to your love remember me for you are good O Lord.”

Meditation:  In contrast to God’s way, my ways which are often rooted in rebellion and immaturity, are laced with trauma and tragedy.  Father, thank you for your mercy and love for me.  Please deliver me from the treachery of my ways.

The Way of Humility

Psalm 25: 8-10 “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in his way.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

Meditation:  God’s path for me is good and upworthy.  It is available at all times, but especially when I miss the mark due to sin.  In fact, the consequence of sin is part of the instruction that God uses to help us understand and desire a better way.  The way of God is most readily accessed through humility.  Through humility, we are in a posture that enables us to gain a better understanding of what is right and true.  Help me Father to desire and to walk in humility.

The Way of Faithfulness

Psalm 25:10  “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.”

Meditation:  God’s way is full of love and faithfulness.  God is trustworthy and will always keep his end of the bargain.  When I am led in his way, I can rest – assured of the knowledge the he always honors the demands of his covenant.  I can relax in the knowledge of being confident that he ‘has my back’.

The Way of Wisdom

Psalm 25:11-14  ” Who then is the person that fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.  He will spend his days in prosperity and his descendents will inherit the land.  The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

Meditation:  The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  (Proverbs 9:10) When we approach and depend on God with reverential awe and respect, we are promised the grace of Godly, individualized instruction concerning the way God has designed and designated in particular for us.  This way, created by a loving Heavenly Father, leads to true prosperity and blessing in our lives and the lives of our families.  This is a very powerful and precious promise.

Prayer:  Father, please keep me focused on you and your way today.  It is only you who can release my feet from the snares and entanglements that have imprisoned me due to taking the wrong paths.  Amen.

 

Fall Fire…

Wine Country 5 LG

When fall flares up in Michigan, the tree riot with an exuberant dance.  The cascade of vibrant ecstatic color breaking through spruce green in surprising fashion is striking.  I’m always intrigued by fall.  Because, the reality is that the trees are in the process of fading into dormancy. But rather than mourn, they put on their Sunday best.

Yes, the leaves which are momentarily resplendent will soon fall loose from their anchors and nest in the fodder of the earth.  But, they don’t do so quietly.  No!  In Michigan the trees seem to throw a party that says, we’re celebrating with gusto. And instead of shrinking into oblivion, they shock us with the most exquisite display of the glory of life in all its various shades.

Thinking of how much we can learn from trees and nature.  They are silent witnesses to the glory of God, but yet they speak.  The scripture tells us that they (the trees of the field) will clap their hands as they watch us go out with joy.  (Isaiah 55:12)  So when the wind blows and the branches of the trees sway or shake as the brisk cool air of fall surrenders to the harshness of winter, I think about that phrase as I imagine the conversation taking place between God and nature about us.

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Text for Isaiah 55: 11-13 “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 12“For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13“Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the LORD, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” – New International Version

On Abundance…

2893279673_58518aa808_zOn Savoring Abundance – God is a God of Abundance. Abundant goodness, Abundant mercy, Abundant kindness, Abundant power, Abundant wisdom, Abundant creativity, Abundant intelligence, Abundant compassion, Abundant provision, Abundant love, Abundant LIFE.

Abundance like the air we breath. No matter how much we huff and puff, we simply can’t use it all up. The air around us surrounds us generously and effortlessly.

Today, let’s embrace the challenge to take some time to savor the abundance of God. Let us move intentionally out of a mentality of scarcity towards an attitude which more closely resembles that of our Creator who delights in and cares about the well being of His creation

Firewalking…

Love NoteFirewalking is the act of walking over a bed of hot embers or stones. It is a practice that has existed for thousands of years. It was certainly a part of the broader ancient culture in Biblical times.

In Isaiah 43:2 the prophet gave the people of Israel some pointed words of encouragement. He said: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Most of us don’t relish the prospect of putting the soles of our feet on the top of smoldering red embers, but there is a certain fascination of observing someone walk through fire and emerge apparently unscathed. We wonder…how?

The expectation from the passage above is that we will pass through circumstances which threaten to make us feel as though we are being drowned and walk through situations in life which have the capacity to consume us with the fire of affliction.

But, there is a way of passing through these intrepid dangers which guarantees that the perceived assault will purify and cleanse rather than create unparalled destruction. This is the powerful promise from God which Isaiah references. God promises to be with us. God’s presence with us is the difference because it embodies all that God is. God’s wisdom, God’s protection, God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s kindness, God’s grace, God’s courage, God’s patience, God’s goodness…

However, this is an experienced reality, not simply a matter of mental acquiescence. This does up the ante a little. But when we have walked through stuff, and can look back on God’s grace, it creates in me an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility about what it means to walk through fire and floods; knowing that there is no way that I can make it. I am simply not strong enough. But with God, all things are possible. And that is enough.