Sunday, May 25, 2008

Transforming Conversation

As I was challenged by God's Word tonight, I was struck with the seeming disparity between the language that goes into our minds and the language that comes out of our mouths. Whether you are at a great conference like T4G or New Attitude or attending your regular church each week, there is a diet coming your way of godly language. Romans 12:2 teaches us that these words of God are supposed to transform us as our minds are renewed through the scriptures. I have definitely partaken in a great diet of godly Biblical messages from the conference already, and I still have Piper to come my way tomorrow. But whatever we are hearing from these resources, there are times when it doesn't go beyond our minds. This plays out in several ways.

An example of this I experienced this weekend was the conversation in our car after a great message from Mark Dever on the Authority of Scripture. You would think that after being challenged by God's Word, the conversation would be reflective of that. Imagine eating a wonderful shrimp scampi with garlic and butter and lemon. You enjoyed it and now the taste lingers with you even after the meal. When you talk to your friends, they smell it on your breath. What you have eaten lasts longer than just the meal. Listening to a message should affect us the same way. Others should be able to tell by our countenance, our spiritual aroma if you will, what we just listened to and it should rub off. If you listen to a great message, or even just an adequate message that accurately reflects God's Word, you should have a desire to speak about that to others. If you quickly are involved in conversation about your favorite episode of the Office, or the latest contestant booted from your reality show, after hearing from God's Word, there is something wrong with your spiritual digestive system.

Our old pastor, Bob Whitney, called this parking lot vomit. He said that many people hear God's Word, eat of it in the service, then, like a bolemic that wants to appear healthy but doesn't want the implications of eating to affect them, they vomit what they have heard in the parking lot before they get in their cars and are soon talking excitedly about the big game coming up or the lunch that is cooking. What is wrong with us, and I include myself in this, when we hear the Word of the living God and remain unchanged? That is how a non-believer is described in James 1:22-25. They hear the Word of God, but it changes nothing about how they live. Where is the delight and the joy it brought the Psalmist of Psalm 119?

We need to return to a love of God's Word, whatever the source. We need to enjoy receiving the Word from sermons, worship songs, books, and most essentially, the Bible itself. If God's Word isn't transforming our conversations, which are small things, how can we expect it to change our lives. Matthew 12:25 tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. If you were to record all of your conversation for just one day, would you be proud of the kind of heart that is reflected in that? I'm not sure I would. We must cry out to God that He restore a love for His Word and that it becomes a treasure again to our souls.

I am so thankful that God is reawakening a love for Him and His Word in my heart through this weekend. I pray that the effects will be long lasting. How wonderful would it be if we were known for having profitable, uplifting, encouraging, challenging, and Biblical conversations. The things of this world that we get so caught up in are passing away. We get so invested in T.V. shows about people we don't know and lifestyles we will never have that those people become our focus. We must shift that focus to the eternal. Speech that is truly edifying is speech that focuses on the everlasting. I pray that for myself as I endeavor to love God more.

Grace and Peace...


graceling said...

Josh, what a timely thought.

Yesterday, our pastor was called away from us to accompany his wife to the ER. Our associate pastor then shared an "impromtu" message with us about "Redeeming the Time." Given the impromptu nature, my notes are chaotic, but it goes right along with what you are sharing here.

Eph. 5:1-16 talks about how we are to be imitators of God- how we are to walk like Him; things to do (be imitators of God), and things not to do (immorality, impurity, greed, filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting, etc...)

Then the key comes in vs. 15&16 "Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time..."

That phrase, "making the most of your time" is talking about redeemng the time. (Pastor shared the Greek word, but there was no way I could figure out how to spell that one!) Just as Christ made the most of His time to teach us and bring us to rightousness, so we are to make the most of our time- to have a goal of "redemptive" time when we are with others.

We see it again in Col. 4:2-5 where we are instructed to pray for God to pen the door for the Word, and that we may "Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders, making the most of the opportunity." Again- making the most of the opportunity is the same word in the Greek- using time redemptively.

While these verses are geared towards how we should conduct ourselves towards "outsiders," I think this is the baseline of how we should act among other belivers as well. To use our time redemptively- to be Christ-focused, and to make the most of our opportunities.

I think it is easy to see how we avoid taking advantage of opportunities with non-believers and strangers. We are rushed in the grocery line or whatever, and become self-focused and thereby waste the opportunities we have been given to speak redemptively into the lives of others.

I think it is more subtle within the Body. We think "oh, well, we all just heard the same message- if someone wants to talk about it, they will." And we miss the opportunity to redeem that time. Paul encourages us to make these redeeming encounters a matter of thought and planning- to pray for and then be aware of our opportunities. Even when we are praying for opportunities to share Christ with non-believers, how many of us pary for opportunites to encourage our brothers and sisters and to meditate on the Word with them?

Moriah said...

I can't wait for you to come home and share all that you have been learning, love. I think you should share that "parking Lot Vomit" analogy with the Youth group on Wednesday. Can't wait to see you tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

great stuff the analogies...I'm guilty of that stuff as well...