This Sunday at Living Stones the sermon was about learning to speak as Jesus spoke (and speaks). As it usually is, the time of celebrating Jesus’ love together was amazing. Prior to beginning the sermon, Bill Barley shared about his wife, Gail, and her ongoing battle with colon cancer. Three years ago she was first diagnosed and treated medically as well as with prayer. She completely recovered, but in January of this year she gained 55 pounds in 9 days and was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her colon, with no positive prognosis. The doctors thought they could only make her more comfortable, and she was confined to a wheelchair.
The prayers began again with fervor.
I so appreciated how Bill shared. He confessed to struggling mightily with his faith, anger, and doubt over the past three months. It was refreshing to hear a pastor speak so frankly about his personal struggles in the midst of this trial. But he also shared about the many people who had encouraged him throughout with their faith and prayers.
To loud applause he then shared that over the past couple of weeks Gail found herself losing 45 pounds and out of her wheelchair. When she went back to the doctor for a checkup they were amazed. While she may not be completely healed, it appears she is doing quite well. God blessed us all with this story of His grace and healing.
This was a fantastic introduction to speaking as Jesus spoke because Bill talked about how the tongue has the power of life and death, Proverbs 18:21, and that we are called to encourage, build up, prophesy, and demonstrate love not only with our actions but also with our tongues. Ephesians 4:29-32. And while it is impossible for man to tame the tongue, God, through His Holy Spirit, can give us self-control and we can follow the example of Jesus – speaking only those words that God gives us to speak. John 12:49.
One of my favorite word pictures he shared was this. Imagine you have suffered a horrible accident and are bleeding profusely. You are rushed to the emergency room and find yourself face to face with the doctor who can stop the bleeding and help you begin the healing process. In that moment you don’t want to hear the etymology of the Greek words relating to hematology or why an infection can occur, even though such words would be truth. You simply want to hear that the doctor is doing what is necessary to allow you to heal. All too often, particularly in churches, people believe that all Truth must be proclaimed loudly and often. When someone is dying because of sin, we beat them over the head with the Truth instead of offering healing words and actions. We must speak relevant truth, as the Lord directs. We must hear from the Father and then speak His words, not our own. Colossians 4:6.
When you see Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman, he spoke the truth but he did so in love. He spoke to her needs. He energized her. He emancipated her and he gave her dignity. You could say the same of his words to the adulterous woman and those who were about to stone her. Our words should operate in the same way. If our words imprison, we aren’t speaking as Jesus did. We are called to love, encourage, respect and edify. If our words fail to do these things, they are operating as words that spread death, not life. We must unlearn our old ways of speaking, the ways we spoke to our brothers or sisters, and learn Jesus’ way. Luke 4:18-19.
Tanner and Keaton’s Sunday School Class at Living Stones