9 Keys to Listening Vs 8 Ways to Miscommunicate

In nearly three decades of watching and experiencing the mess that is human relations and/or communication, I have come to some strong conclusions.

Some of those conclusions can be expressed simply by “9 Keys to Listening” in a positive spectrum – and in “8 Ways to Miscommunicate” in a satirical kind of negative spectrum.

First we will consider the “9 Keys” that also work as an acronym; namely “C H I L D L I K E” – and the acronym is actually a lot closer to a Biblical principal than the silly reference to “Keys” (which is mostly there to poke at the modern “Christian” book industry – and as “click bate”)… and if you are not laughing yet, I’m sorry, you will probably never find me humorous. But I hope you will find this post helpful, at least as some food-for-thought, if nothing else.

Side NOTE: these “keys” are expected to primarily be used when someone brings a complaint against you or tries to voice something you might find unpleasant – but, as far as I’m concerned, that does not eliminate they’re applicability in the broader sphere of interacting with others.

The Nine Keys to Listening; or the Concept of Christian Childlikeness Considered in Regards to Communication.

1: Cease what you are doing. It is important, if at all possible, to have your attention complete and undivided – especially when the person trying to communicate something important to you is bringing up something you perceive as negative about/toward you personally.

2: Hold your tongue. In order to properly listen to anyone, you must remain silent until the person addressing you has fully verbalized their thought so that you do not miss anything they wish to say – and so you do not potentially jolt/confuse their train of thought before they finish.

3: Intently gaze. Again, it is important to give the person full attention when they bring something of weight (negative or positive, personal or not) to your attention – make eye contact, pay attention to body language, etc…

4: Listen carefully. And here we truly begin the repetition to truly get the point across. Listen to and truly attempt to understand every idea they present with equal sobriety.

5: Do NOT respond immediately. It is important to ask questions – especially if you are absolutely flabbergasted – but do NOT (especially if the issue is personal and/or “negative”) respond to the accusations/statements in your initial seeking of clarification.

6: Let them elaborate. Hopefully this is sinking in by now – it is so important to understand and/or grasp at least the person’s reasoning, even if you don’t think it or their conclusions are properly based in fact.

7: Internalize without verbalizing. Once you have a grasp of what the person is trying to communicate and why, ponder and consider the potential truth of their statements. Whether you initially think they are completely wrong or not – you must acknowledge your own sinfulness and thus consider the (high) potential of them being right and YOU being wrong.

8: Keep calm. Whether you initially come to the conclusion that they are wrong or right in what they say, you must practice self control, and continue the conversation in humility and continue to strive to understand what they mean and what they intend and where they are coming from.

9: Examine yourself. If the conversation cannot end with both parties being satisfied with the understood conclusion – take everything that was said and continue to prayerfully examine your own self with a healthy dose of humility and awareness of your own potential for selfish evil. And continue to attempt gracious and understanding communication with that person in the future…

…obviously, the situation in which I present this set of ideas as being used in, is not necessarily broad enough to include all of the potential caveats. But hopefully it is enough with the following list of Scriptures to help you at least seriously ponder the ideas I have proposed.

Proverbs 19:20, Leviticus 19:17, James 3:17, 1 Peter 3:15, Proverbs 15:1, 23, & 28, Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29, etc…

And so, now that we’ve considered some keys to listening well, let us examine the 8 Ways to Miscommunicate.

1: Come to an immediate conclusion. Seriously, don’t even let them finish – the second they say something that sounds even slightly wrong tell them why it is!

2: Have impatience. Don’t tolerate pauses or statements that seem beyond the point they first brought up. They’re wasting your valuable time with their baseless accusations and negativity, after all.

3: Increase your volume. If they won’t stop their blabbering and listen to you then you need to make sure they can hear you.

4: Look for misbehavior. At this point – or better, before – you must correct them on everything they might have done wrong in addressing you; tone of voice, choice of words, timing, facial expressions, etc…

5: Disregard what is said. Obviously if they are saying something that is negative in any way it isn’t worth being heard, let alone understood.

6: Insist on being right. You are, after all, right about everything, aren’t you?

7: Shut down & Shut Out. This is a must – anyone who doesn’t practically worship you shouldn’t speak in your presence.

8: Hold a Grudge. Seriously, if this person had the gal to say something negative to/about you you should mention it to them every opportunity you get!

Again, I will stress that the “8 Ways” are satirical – and obviously should be the farthest thing from how we think about communication… let alone how we actually do it!

Proverbs 3:30, 15:1 & 28, 18:13, etc…

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My Husband Ruined my Favorite Devotional

{Guest Post by Mrs. J D White}

Well, that is definitely a click bait title. (But let’s face it, this blog could use one of those, hey?)

A more accurate title would be something like “my husband helped with the ruining of my ability to use the Bible as help-yourself self-help” (See why I went with the click bait?)

I grew up in a Bible-reading, Bible-studying, Bible-loving home. Claiming ignorance of Biblical teachings has never been an option. I also have been in Bible-exegeting churches all my life. I guess pretty much I’m a fish in water when it comes to Bible stuff.

That being said, it’s been an interesting process figuring out how to read, understand, and apply the Bible for my own life. (Lots and lots of failing along the way!)

In high school, I attended a Bible study led by our church’s youth pastor. He gave us a fabulous challenge.

Read all of Romans. Straight through. In one sitting.

What!? You can’t do that it’s so long. And it’s, like, the Bible. You only read it in little pieces. Like a toddler eats broccoli. Right??

Oh, and read it (straight through in one sitting) every day for a week.

Now you’re asking me to eat a whole salad in one bite?? This is crazy.

But I did it.

The first time was hard. The second time it started to actually make sense for the first time ever. By the fifth time? I was head over heels in love with Romans.

Now…zoom forward through my life a few years, to the part where da’husband comes in. He likes to read, and he studies theology like a regular seminary student (who can’t afford regular seminary so he just gets the textbooks and lectures from the library and Amazon and iTunesU.)

We have conversations about Bible stuff all the time. Life experience (by God’s grace) simply hasn’t allowed that to be optional. We’ve seen some crazy stuff (who hasn’t these days tho).

One of the things we have become super convinced of is the extreme importance of reading Bible verses in context, not using Bible verses OUT of context, and seeking to understand the author’s original intent (I have a hunch there will be a whole post on that last point, coming soon…ask me how I know)

Basically, the idea is that in order to understand any particular Bible verse well, one must also consider the surrounding verses, and even chapters and books.

For example, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” sounds like a great superhero Christian verse at face value, but it takes on a more real-life tone when you realize Paul was talking about enduring suffering and enjoying abundance to the glory of God.

Likewise, have you ever studied the context of “Without vision a people perish”? Or “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…” or “Nothing is impossible with God”? (Consider it a dare! Go study!)

Ok, but what does any of this have to do with the title of this post?

See, I used to approach the Bible like I was simply “supposed to read it.” Because it’s “good for you.” I’d pick a chapter, and read it, annnnd….done! Check that off the list! Or I’d have a question and try to find the answer by looking up words in a concordance and doing a topical study. (“What is a Christian girl supposed to wear? Hmm, let’s look up “modesty” – I’m sure that will tell me what type of denim is the most godly.”) Or I’d read a verse or two and try to figure out how they apply to me personally (ie, the “devotional” approach).

The trouble is, it’s really hard to see the stunningly beautiful over-arching, under-girding, permeating purposes of Scripture if you just read it in smaller chunks or only use a concordance to find words. I’m not saying topical studies are bad or that you can’t read small pieces of Scripture. I just want to suggest that if you sometimes read whole books or letters in one sitting (or two or three sittings…let’s be real…Isaiah is long), and if you look for the over-all message of that book or letter, you might be amazed at the whole new level of coherence that you can discover.

But I gotta warn you. Once you start discovering the importance of context, you might have a hard time flipping open your Bible and pointing at a random verse and taking it as personal prophecy. You’ll be more likely to flip open your Bible randomly, see a book name, start at chapter 1, and keep going. And your heart just might rejoice at the amazing wisdom and glory of God that the Bible is fairly bursting with.

(I could thank a lot of people for this change of perspective- my parents, siblings, pastors, people who don’t like me, friends. And I am grateful to them, from my heart.

But it sounds funnier to just blame my husband.)

One last note of practical honesty: These days, I’m a mom of two very small children. I don’t read the Bible every day. I read large chunks of Bible on some days – and then the dishes don’t get done, I stay in my pajamas til lunchtime, the kids get annoyed at me, and dinner is late.

Leaving for Lent

So my wife and I have been wanting to participate in Lent for a few years now, but never could remember to figure out when it was supposed to be… but this year I managed to remember early enough and so from February 14 to March 29 my wife and I have decided to “fast” from all forms of internet activity that are not absolute necessary – we’ve decided on a couple other things as well, but that particular item is the only thing relevant to this post 🙂

Anyway, I thought I’d share with the reader a few books that we have appreciated and will be partaking of during this time set aside for special prayer.

Behold the King of Glory by Russ Ramsey – is a good summation of Christ’s life in “story telling” format, that also happens to be written for reading one chapter for each day of Lent if the reader so chooses.

Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey – is a book of liturgical prayers that my wife and I have found very helpful and encouraging… you can learn more here: https://www.everymomentholy.com/about

A Final Note on Kenneth Hagin

After my lengthy critique of his ideas in “the Believer’s Authority” I am well aware that there are those who would accuse me of “consigning the man to hell” – and I am aware of those Word-Faithers who would tack on an idea like “simply because he got a few things wrong.” Not that I wish to build and burn any form of straw man, but allow me to say a few things to attempt to dissuade the more reasonable objectors from thinking the worst of me and/or my methods…

1: I have said to my wife many times in the last few years that it could very well be that before the end of his life God broke through to Hagin and saved him. But I have said just as often, that the fruit of Hagin’s “ministry” and life give us no reason to ASSUME that God saved him at all, unless it was so soon before the heart-attack that claimed his life that he had no time to publicly recant… so to end this point I will add: It is not our job as followers of Jesus to consign/make the final judgement about whether anyone goes to hell… OR heaven! (it seems to me – for all their fear of “judging” – that way too many Christians are willing to wave there hand in front of the professing “believer” and pronounce that there can be no doubt of their being destined for heaven – without one bit of concern about the current and constant fruit of that person’s life…)… something to think about there, I would say.

2: public material is free game for critical review – be it positive or negative. It should be the assumption of everyone that anything anyone says in a public format is open to feedback, and the teacher and/or leader who claims to speak of the doctrines of the Bible should expect and desire feedback (in any form; rebuke, exhortation, refutation, correction, encouragement, etc) from fellow shepherds (and the occasional “sheep”) in the faith. No one should be surprised when someone is criticized for what they write – and Christians who have influence over others should welcome such challenges, since “teachers will incur a harsher/stricter judgement” and they should seek to keep their repeated errors to an absolute minimum… Hagin, like his disciple Copeland and his contemporaries Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn, never seemed open to such critical examination.

3: Finally – and within the same vein of point “1” – the fact that I vehemently condemn statements of blasphemy and/or heresy should not cause the reader to automatically categorize me as “hating” Kenneth Hagin or as a “hateful” person in general… do I hate the rotten fruit and lies about God perpetrated by what was/is spewed from books and “ministries” like Hagin’s? YES. I despise anything and everything that belittles, degrades, and attempts to spit upon the honor and glory of the Great and All-Mighty, One True God, Yahweh. But it should not be an assumption of the reader (especially those who are so “charitable” and “positive”-oriented) that in acting that out I am committing the sin of hatred against another human being.

On that note, it should go without saying that I am open to any thoughtful criticism a reader might have of my own statements about Hagin’s book “The Believer’s Authority.” And even if the reader wishes to criticize my own method(s) of critique, I would be happy to discuss them… I would be completely inconsistent and hypocritical if I were not willing to do so, after all.

In closing, I encourage the reader, once again, to think critically about the things that they read and – especially in matters of theology and doctrine – to not merely accept the words of any man without testing them against Scripture.

Divorce + Remarriage = Adultery / Sexual Immorality

A few weeks ago I wrote a post where I quoted Matthew 5:27-32 and Matthew 19:3-9.

Recently I heard someone mention that they had been told by someone that ‘Jesus’ words were meant for His culture and/or context’ or some such idea – basically amounting to “we don’t have to take Christ’s commands about divorce seriously in our day.”

I would ask the reader to examine those passages in context and ask themselves if Jesus’ words leave room for a restriction of the command to a certain time or culture?

Let’s approach it from a slightly different angle – in Matthew 5:32 Jesus says the person who marries a divorced person commits adultery. So what does God say about adultery?

“And you shall not commit adultery.” ~ Deuteronomy 5:18

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one… Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:11 & 6:9-10 (ESV)

Seems adultery is a pretty bad thing! And if you read the whole context of Matthew 5:32 – it seems to me that, if this command of God is not universally applicable, then NOTHING Christ said in His sermon on the mount (or in any of the gospel accounts, for that matter) is applicable to anyone today. That would include the things Jesus said about men repenting and being forgiven and/or born again – thus removing the hope of salvation from all of dead and evil mankind…

Something to think about, I would say, before blithely tossing God’s words out the window.

Meditations on “The Little Drummer Boy”

For as long as I can remember, I have appreciated the old Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Come they told me

A new born King to see

Our finest gifts we bring

To lay before the King

So to honor Him

When we come

Little baby

I am a poor boy too

I have no gift to bring

That’s fit to give our King

Shall I play for you

On my drum

Mary nodded

The ox and lamb kept time

I played my drum for Him

I played my best for Him

Then He smiled at me

Me and my drum

NOTE: I removed the “pa pum pum” portions for the sake of readability.

But I have grown to like this song even more as I have thought about how it is almost allegorical of Christianity – I have no idea if the original author intended it to be that, however, so the ideas I am about to put forth are my own (be they poor or helpful).

Obviously the introduction sets the stage for us as our character is invited (presumably by the “wise men”) to go with them and see the new born King.

But the portion I appreciate most is the last half… however as I worked on this post after writing this first portion, I thought it might be better just to provide my “meditations” – if you will – rather than any other thoughts. So here they are:

“Little baby, I am a poor boy too.”

Our mighty and wise Lord laid aside all of His riches and veiled His glory to come among us, initially in the form of a normal baby born to poor parents.

And we, not even existing before our conception – let alone deciding our own births – are poorer still. We have less than nothing in our rebellion against the Creator of the universe. We may have more material possessions and prosperity than that of Christ during His earthly life, but no matter what we may “have” we – like the little drummer boy – are poor, before this Lamb of God; and we are more than destitute before the King of Glory.

“I have no gift to bring, That’s fit to give our King”

And here our character (and we) acknowledge and proclaim the worthlessness of any “gift” we might offer to the All-Mighty One, who clothed Himself in flesh and weakness to bring us salvation, forgiveness, and justification…

Even the drum in his hands and the clothes on his back were provided by something outside of the little boy; and for all of humanity, we cannot even claim ownership or creation of our ability to think or act, let alone the “gifts” (material or otherwise) that are in our keeping.

But in the presence of this oh so “normal” and weak-seaming Mighty One, the awe of God’s goodness inspires the boy’s next thought:

“Shall I play for you, On my drum? … I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him… Then He smiled at me – Me and my drum”

And even in the creaturely weakness that corrupts and hinders us, the one who became weak to bring a people to Himself – begins to provide for us His strength that was manifested in His weakness. He fills and mends those things He gave to us that we wrongfully emptied and broke – and inspires us to take them up as He intended in our Hope to make Him smile…

An Additional Thought on the Office of Apostle

As I further considered the texts given in my last post, I realized that Acts 1:15-22 was the strongest Scriptural support/documentation of what an apostle is and what the criteria is for becoming one.

Specifically in verses 21-22 of chapter one in the book of “the Acts of the Apostles” – Peter provides the following criteria for their choosing of someone to replace Judas:

“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” ~ Acts 1:21-22 (ESV)

Here we see where the tradition I mentioned in my last post comes from; the very pages of Holy Writ itself.

This criteria given by Peter – namely that the newly appointed apostle must be chosen from among those who were disciples of Jesus since His baptism until His Ascension.

This alone – aside from any of my reasoning in my earlier post – is enough to come to the conclusion that the office of apostle no longer exists today.