Category Archives: Christian Living

If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Seems like good advice at first. We certainly don’t want to open our big mouths and say something  we’ll later regret.

In the book War on Words, Paul David Tripp suggests, “Listen to the talk that goes on in your home. How much of it is impatient or unkind? How often are words spoken out of selfishness and personal desire? How easily do outbursts of anger occur?”

Most of us would have to admit we have a lot of room for improvement. It’s true we need to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31). That’s a challenge in itself.

But for the Christian, the standard goes even higher. When frustrated or angry, we don’t have the option of just biting our lip and saying nothing.

Paul also gives a positive command regarding our speech in Ephesians 4. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Then down a little further, he says our talk is to be “only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (v. 29).

In communication, step one is to “put off” words that bring harm and destruction. Step two is to “put on” words of edification in their place. Unless you’ve done both, you have not completed the cycle of sanctification. It would be like hitting a baseball, running to second base, then just walking back to the dugout instead of continuing on to home plate.

Being slow to speak is a sign of wisdom (James 1:19). But how can you then “put on” words that will build others up? Here are five ways you can start today…

  • Learn to say “thanks” for little acts of service or kindness. There’s always something we can be thankful for.
  • Instead of being nit picky, find ways to commend a person’s character, their beauty, their gifts, and a  job well done.
  • Ask questions with a sincere desire to know others better and to serve them.
  • Be willing to ask for help or advice. It’s one of the best ways we can say, “You are important. Your opinion matters to me.”
  • Look for ways to talk about Scripture – what you’ve been learning, what you’ve been reading, and what issues you’d like to understand better.

In light of Ephesians 4, I propose a new motto. “If you don’t have something nice to say, keep thinking until you have something nice to say. Then say it!”

Related Posts:

Photo credit: Rebecca Barray

Dead to Sin

Christians will continue battling the presence of sin until our future glorification. We are not, however, any longer under the power of sin. In our latest podcast, we look at Romans 6:1-11 and learn how our new identity in Christ gives us victory over temptation. Click here to listen, or you can use the media player below:

To subscribe to our weekly podcast , you can use this link. And be sure to rate our channel in the iTunes Store to help spread the word!

The Lady With The Lamp

The year was 1844, and a war was raging in Europe. Already, thousands had died on the battlefield, and thousands more probably wished they were dead. Instead, they were helpless casualties of the Crimean War, agonizing from injury and infection. No one seemed to care. But that was about to change.

Despite protest from her family, a young nursing graduate named Florence Nightingale insisted on going to the hospitals of the warfront. The conditions were deplorable. Nothing could prepare her for what she was about to see at the British-based hospital in Constantinople.

One biographer writes, “The hospital sat on top of a large cesspool which contaminated the water in the hospital itself. Patients lay on their own excrement on stretchers strewn throughout the hallways. Rodents and bugs scurried past them. The most basic supplies such as bandages grew increasingly scarce. The number of ill and wounded steadily increased. Even water needed to be rationed. More soldiers were dying from infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera than those that had been injured from battle itself.”

Nightingale wasted no time. She ordered the less-injured soldiers to scrub the interior of the hospital. She set up separate stations for triage, surgical procedures, and long-term care. She took steps to sterilize medical instruments. She quickly endeared herself to the injured soldiers, and earned a reputation for her no-nonsense system of cleanliness and care. As a result of her nightly ritual of making rounds by lamplight to check on the patients, she earned the nickname, “The Lady with the Lamp.”

I’m sure as soldiers sat in the dark hallways and saw the lamp moving closer, it inspired them to hold on just a bit longer. The one carrying the light brought with her a sense of hope and healing.

In a similar way, Jesus describes his followers as “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14). Like Nightingale, Christians are called to work in hard places, to serve with compassion, and to shine a light of hope.

Jesus is the true Light of the World (John 8:12). He is the source of all that is true, good, and beautiful. But amazingly, he has chosen to put his light inside us. The only way people are going to see the healing light of Jesus Christ today is if they see it in his disciples.

What does it mean to shine the light of Jesus? To be sure, it includes sharing the gospel. But it’s more than that. It also includes living out the implications of the gospel through our everyday lives. Jesus makes this connection clear in Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

In the coming year, may each of us shine our lights for Jesus, penetrating darkness to speak the truth and share in suffering of those God places in our pathway, all for the glory of God.

Who is someone you know who puts the gospel on display?  What is it about them that inspires you?

What Bible Verses Should I Memorize?

A friend asked me the other day what would be the first ten verses he should memorize. I cheated and gave him more than ten, but I think this is an important starter list.

1. Start with John 3:16. It is an oldie, but a goodie. It is one of the most beautiful and succinct summaries of the gospel found anywhere in Scripture.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

2. This may seem odd, but next I recommend learning 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 on Sexual Purity. I don’t know a single young man (or woman) who doesn’t struggle with lust and impurity, whether in body or mind. It would be wise to commit these verses to memory as soon as possible as we fight the good fight for a pure conscience.

1 Thessalonians 4:3–4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.

3. John 14:6 on the Exclusivity of Christ. I can’t think of a more important verse to explain that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and what makes him different from every other religion and worldview. In a day of so-called “tolerance” and postmodern confusion, we desperately need to fix our eyes on Christ alone.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

4. Ephesians 4:29 on Speech. If we could learn to live out this one verse, it will radically change our homes and our churches.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

5. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on the Authority of Scripture. The Bible alone is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Many people seek existential experiences and supernatural revelation, yet overlook the fact God has already spoken, and he has spoken clearly.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

6. The Romans Road. With the above verses under your belt, you are now ready to learn the Romans Road. I still remember memorizing this set of verses in junior high at my Christian school, and it changed my life to have a basic plan of salvation to meditate on and to share with others.

Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:9–10 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

After mastering the above verses, I recommend buying John Barnett’s book Word-Filled Families. It has some great chapters on parenting with scripture, plus an entire Appendix dedicated to more than 100 “Verses Every Believer Should Know.”

Question: What verses would you add to a short list of essential verses to be memorized?

Firstborn From the Dead

Every baseball is made with exact specifications. 108 red stitches are woven in a trademark figure-eight pattern. Peel back the horsehide or cowhide cover, and you’ll discover a series of independent windings of yarn that, if held end-to-end, would stretch the length of almost four football fields! Near the center of the ball are layers of red and black rubber, and then, in the very middle, is a cork core, roughly the size of a bouncy ball you’d get out of a gumball machine.

You’ll never see the inside of a ball while it is in play, but it could be said that what is inside that sphere is what makes the entire game of baseball possible. One could argue it is the most important part of the game.

If we could draw a spiritual lesson, it would be this: what is at the center of your life is the most important thing about you. Last Sunday, we explored this theme from Colossians 1. According to the Apostle Paul, the most central focus of our lives and of the church must be Jesus Christ. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…he is the head…that in everything he might be preeminent” (Col. 1:17-18).

This profound passage was likely an early church hymn, and provided much encouragement for us on Easter Sunday. We learned that Jesus is firstborn from the dead (the hope and firstfruits of our own resurrection), and as because of that fact, he deserves first place at the very core of our lives.

The message is now available for free download via our church podcast page.