(Notes from the September 29th sermon at Cross Point Churches in Nashville, Franklin, and Dickson, Tennessee, USA)
Whatever is in our heart comes out of our mouth. Just avoiding sin by keeping quiet is not God’s goal for us. God’s goal is that we will have and share joy, peace, hope, faith, and love.
Everyone needs healing, no matter how fortunate or together they may seem.
Today in our relationships have our words been healing or damaging? For most of us it will have been a mix of both. Some of us did not experience being built up verbally when we were growing up, so we may be uncomfortable loving in this way. But choosing comfort over building others up is a tragic choice.
The scriptures urge us to build others up according to their needs. This assumes we care enough about others to spend the time and effort to learn their needs.
The challenge for today is to list our top 5 closest relationships and become aware of whether we use words to build those loved ones up, or damage them, or just speak about the weather and safe impersonal things, assuming they know they are loved and admired and appreciated., or do we even speak to them on a regular basis at all?
As parents, our grown children, no matter how old, will still be like drought stricken flowers soaking in our life-giving words of affirmation and love. As grown children, our parents, no matter how old or even forgetful, will also soak up words of love and affirmation that will touch and heal their weary hearts. As spouses are the words exchanged in the frantic mornings or the exhausted evenings only reminders like pick up the laundry or questions as to whether we did? Are our longest conversations “nag lists” or worries about the children or money?
Today, tomorrow, the rest of the week, listen not only to your words, but listen to what’s missing. Are our words, words of life, or words of death, or even just silent deserts?
I do not attend this multi-congregational, non-denominational church, but I do listen to the sermons that are streamed online at 6pm on Sunday nights. This is the 3rd in a series of 6 on relationships. This church balances its words with action. The Dickson congregation meets in the high school auditorium. They pay rent, but also do things like paint the walls and this week they are cleaning up the stadium after the football game. They have adopted a stretch of a local road which they keep clean, they are chopping wood for people who need it for winter, and both adults and children visit nursing homes taking food and crafts they have made. They have outreach to Appalachia and third world countries where their members provide much needed services and supplies. They are beginning a new ministry to victims of slavery.
Their sermons can be heard online at Cross Point Church Nashville, Tennessee at 6pm each Sunday by clicking on Messages.
Had an interesting dream last night. I discovered that I had a new baby. At seventy-five this would not necessarily be good news. But this baby was simply awesome. He could talk and had eyes that sparkled with intelligence and love. All he seemed to need was some food, so the baby and I set off to find food for him.
When I remembered the dream today, I thought maybe the baby represented a new part of me that needed nourishing. I couldn’t figure out what in me needed nourishing, until I was looking at my Nativity Scene, debating whether to put it away. The figure of the baby Jesus resembled the infant in my dream.
I love Advent when I spend each day praying, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come” and watching for glimpses of God’s love and grace in each day. This hope and expectation suit my personality perfectly. And I am seldom disappointed. But, somehow once the joyous symbols of Christmas are put away, I often lose my focus, and allow the cold grey days of January and February to dampen my spirit and dim my vision and ability to see God in each day.
There is a difference between waiting expectantly for new life and taking responsibility for nurturing it once it comes. With the infant Jesus this is easier, because He can tell us how.
As I looked at the tiny figure in the manger, I felt a renewed sense of responsibility for nourishing Him within me. So, my prayer for after Christmas, is “Grow, Lord Jesus, grow within me. Help me find nourishment for You.”