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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Tongue of the Wise or A Defensive Wrecking Ball?

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

The advertisement copy might read: Can be more deadly than snakebite. Can be more terrifying than feeding an alligator. Can do more damage than a wrecking ball. What is it? The Retort.  Retort is defined in the dictionary this way: to make a reply, especially a quick, sarcastic, scathing one, to present a counter argument, to verbally retaliate.

At the age of 25, I was a budding Christian and newly married manand immature one at that! Like any marriage, there were times where I would correct Renee on something and there were times when she would correct me on something. What is it about a man's ego, that it can be so easily bruised? As I said, I was immature and because of it, often got defensive and would be guilty of lobbing back a retort. Those little retorts sparked battles that we didn't really want to have. Retorts come spontaneously without premeditation. They are too often, sharp and cutting. From some people, they can be as deadly as a match to a gas can. And they too often slip out of our mouth as a defensive response to something that was said to us that was truthful, yet not meant to be an attack. Oh these evil mindless viperous retorts…

Our spouse might try to point out something that we said or did that was inappropriate or that could have been handled in another wayand then comes our retort. We think, They don't understand. They don't know why we said or did what we did—even if it wasn't appropriate. The retort has been launched and now the battle begins. We try to justify our words or actions and shore up a defense protecting our position, knowing deep down inside they are right and we blew it. Rather than be quiet and listen—rather than reflect and begin to open our heart to what they said, we let that cursed retort slip out.

Those retorts hurt and sometimes provoke those who are only trying to help us. When retorts escape our mouth, the battle begins. The bullets and bombs fly. The cutting and hurtful remarks hit the target. The tears are shed. I'm sure at this point the devil is excited for the way his plot has turned out.

God doesn't want us to fail and destroy people we love and respect. He wants us to grow up and become aware of our weaknesses so we can learn to receive His help in resisting the temptation to retort. James 3:5 (TLB) says, "So also the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness, and poisons every part of the body. And the tongue is set on fire by hell itself and can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster. Men have trained, or can train, every kind of animal or bird that lives and every kind of reptile and fish, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is always ready to pour out its deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our heavenly Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against men who are made like God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Dear brothers, surely this is not right!"

If you ever get defensive (and your spouse or friend will surely affirm if you do,) then you probably launch retorts from time-to-time. Defensiveness and retorts go hand-in-hand. In our own self we can't seem to find the strength to hold them back. That is what the scriptures in James confirm—we are incapable without God's help, to control our tongue! Retorts happen and inflict pain. Only by yielding to the Holy Spirit within us can we learn to keep our tongue under control.

God wants to help us with things we need help with in our life. The primary way He will speak to and correct us, is through His Word. Proverbs 3:11-12 (TLB)  "... do not resent it when God chastens and corrects you, for his punishment is proof of his love. Just as a father punishes a son he delights in to make him better, so the Lord corrects you." We read, pray, and meditate on His Word and His Word corrects our heart. Initially we can feel condemned but God is never trying to condemn us. Only to correct and help us. He already sent Jesus to wash us clean. You'll find that the more you let God's word correct you, the more willing you are to let others who love you, speak into you life. As that happens, you begin to listen and stop lobbing retorts!

Defensiveness is a nullifier. It nullifies the opportunity to learn and grow. Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV) says, "Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid." Developing godly character means we have to change these kinds of negative qualities in our life.

Correction is seldom easy to receive from anyone, but as Proverbs 15:28 (NKJV) says, The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. God desires for us to learn to use our tongue wisely! That means studying how to listen and answer with grace! When we understand God uses those closest to us to help us, and we, with the help of the Holy Spirit learn to restrain our lips and listen to what is being said, then we can begin to be students of how to respond appropriately instead of defensively.

I can thankfully say that I have learned to control my tongue (for the most part) and listen to Renee and those close to me if they have something to say. I've learned that it will probably help me catch something I was missing and become a better person with each small changebeginning with the end of retorts from my mouth!

Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

If Fresh Manna is a blessing to you, let me know how. I’d love to hear from you!  Click Here:  FreshMannaFeedback




If your heart has been touched by God's love through Fresh Manna, would you like to help Pastor Tim reach others also? Please prayerfully consider donating. No gift is too small. 

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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2019 All rights reserved

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Know Your Life's True Calling!

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Last week, Renee and I were out-of-town. It seemed like it snowed every day while we were gone. Coming home to that much snow is a shock but it's what you sign up for when you live in Minnesota! Snow is a part of life here and if you want to live here, then you have to get used to it. The only thing that's hard is when it comes this early and stays late—making it a long winter!

Sometimes different seasons of our life can feel like a long winter. Economic hardship, sickness or disease, relational issues, or political seasons that make this entire world seem like it’s gone crazy. It gets to people and it can get to you or I if we let it. We can’t. God wants us to keep focused on why He brought us into this world.

We have a purpose in this earth and a very finite amount of time to walk it out. What is that purpose? It's to be an influence for Jesus Christ in any and all the ways we can be. Our lives are to be a written epistle that mankind can read. The Apostle Paul said it like this: “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ…written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God…" 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NKJV)

Our lives can make a difference, impacting and influencing others. If we do it right, opportunities to share the love of Jesus Christ with others will come! When it doesn't, you've still had the opportunity to touch someone with the love of God and don't ever think for one moment that God doesn't use that. He does in ways you'll never know or realize!  Jesus has instructed us to “let our light shine before men.” Is that the focus and centralized intent of your day? For many and maybe most, I'd say it's not! Yet God wants it be.

Life passes so quickly and each day presents so many opportunities to get distracted and discouraged. We can’t afford to! We have to move on because lives are at stake. We might not be in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting a war, but we are in this world fighting a war for souls. Even your simple smile, your kind words, and gentle actions have the potential to allow someone to see Jesus in you and leave them wanting more. That is God's intent for our daily purpose. Let His love and light shine so strong, that they are affected wanting more!
Last week a man called me. He wanted to know If I would meet him for coffee. I didn't know what it was about, but I said yes. I was motivated to meet with him because he had been a great blessing to me in a particular area of ministry and I wanted to know him better. When we sat down, I just let him talk. He proceeded to share some of the kindest words I’d ever had anyone speak to me. He said he had watched me closely for a long time. He made it his goal to try to emulate what he saw in me. He said it transformed his life. Wow! I was humbled and blown away. I immediately told him how imperfect and flawed I was and that it was Jesus in me he was seeing. He knew that but wanted to thank me for being the best example I could be.

He’d been watching. What a thought. It wasn't the first time someone has told me that. A man who was suicidal called me once. He was going to kill himself when suddenly he said he thought of me. He searched for a way to find my phone number and then called me. He asked if we could talk and I said Yes. His first words were, I've been watching you… I invited him over and Renee and I sat at talked with him for three hours. I invited him to receive Jesus as His Lord and Savior and he did immediately! Now he lives wholeheartedly for the Lord. He became a great leader under my leadership and has impacted so many life. This has been an experience I've had over and over in my life. All because I purposed to be a light and an influence.

Life is too short to get discouraged, distracted, and depressed. I learned the hard way that all those things are a product of focusing on me, myself, and I. God, in His goodness and grace, has allowed each of us to have influence in the lives of others—even possibly leading them to eternal life through Jesus. What an honor and a privilege. Stuff, toys, and things do not make my life rich. Money, power, carnal fun and entertainment do not make my life rich. Being used of God and seeing lives saved, transformed, and filled with purpose make my life rich. Having godly loving relationships makes my life rich. When I am focused on me, it’s feels like that long, never-ending winter. When I am focused on being a light before man, my life becomes energized and directed by Almighty God Himself.

Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) 

When letting your light shine before men is what drives your life, your entire life will be better. You'll become a better person because your character will be transformed by God. Your relationships will be better because you've moved from being selfish to selfless! And the icing on the cake is this: you'll sense and feel more of God’s presence, His love, and His help in your life. Even hard times become good times and every season becomes a better one. Even winter!

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

If Fresh Manna is a blessing to you, let me know how. I’d love to hear from you!  Click Here:  FreshMannaFeedback




If your heart has been touched by God's love through Fresh Manna, would you like to help Pastor Tim reach others also? Please prayerfully consider donating. No gift is too small. 

Donate now!

How Your Donations Are Used? click here

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2019 All rights reserved

http://
TimBurt.org