Category Archives: Communication

Defining Tolerance

Defining Tolerance

Defining Tolerance

Tolerance is a word that’s tossed around a lot these days. People are constantly accusing Christians of being intolerant, bigots, and closed-minded. Then, we in turn accuse the accusers of being intolerant based on their very definition of tolerance! If we are intolerant because we refuse to embrace their worldview as equally valid, wouldn’t that consequently make them intolerant of us as well? It seems like a vicious cycle doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the word “tolerance” is abused in our current culture. It seems as if the problem lies in the definition of tolerance. So maybe if we start by defining what tolerance truly is and what it is not, we can come to some common ground.

What tolerance is NOT:

  • Agreeing with another’s belief system or opposing worldview
  • Acceptance of an idea, belief or lifestyle (especially if it opposes your own) as being true or equally true
  • Refusing to believe in objective or absolute truth
  • Conceding that somebody is right, when you believe that they are wrong
  • Believing that others’ opposing views must align with your own

What tolerance IS:

  • Allowing for differences, disagreements and opposition in a kind, compassionate and respectful way
  • According to the Oxford Dictionary, tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.”
  • Another definition listed is “the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction.”

Note the secondary definition. Taken from a relational perspective, this would mean to endure opposing conditions (or people) without reacting adversely or in a hostile way. 

My favorite take on tolerance

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Controversies of the Paschal Pardon and Barabbas

Controversies of the Paschal Pardon and Barabbas

Controversies of the Paschal Pardon and Barabbas

Last week I mentioned that while doing some research I came across some controversy about Barabbas and the Paschal Pardon. Some scholars and skeptics have debated a few different issues of perceived inconsistencies and misconceptions. Honestly, I had never even heard of some of the criticisms. So that you won’t be surprised like I was when you hear them, I’ll give you a brief overview of what some of the debate has been about.

Was the Paschal Pardon fabricated by the apostles?

First, some critics argue the validity and truth of the Paschal Pardon. Some contend that it was made up and was not an actual custom. Their argument stems from the fact that the custom has not been mentioned in any historical documents outside the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). Their claim that there is no evidence of a Paschal Pardon aside from the Bible is accurate. Nowhere else is this exact practice mentioned besides the Bible.

However, scholars speculate several plausible theories explaining this perceived discrepancy. Some explanations include similar customs in Roman history, Hasmonean customs, and possibly even ancient Jewish/Talmudical customs. [1] [2] According to these sources there were several events in history where pardons were offered to prisoners at festival times.

Furthermore, the Bible itself has been proven a valid historical document. Therefore, simply dismissing information because it only appears in scripture is fallacy. Even non-Christian historians recognize the validity of the Bible as a historical document. In her book, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, Natasha Crain explains in detail why we can trust the Bible as a historically accurate document.[3] I highly recommend her book to learn more (and teach others) about why we can trust the Bible.

Is the Paschal Pardon inconsistent with Roman authority?

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Lessons from Barabbas at Easter

Learn the symbolism of Barabbas in the Easter story

Lessons from Barabbas at Easter

I’m super excited about this week’s post! Although, it’s a bit delayed due to taking some extra liberty and time with some extended research. In fact, I went all “college professor” on this one, even researching some books and scholarly articles to examine some history and expert opinions. With this being Easter Week or Holy Week, I’d like to share a bit of what I learned about Barabbas.

Not long ago Pastor Brent Troxell, one of the pastors at my church, gave a mini-message of sorts before we took communion together at church. In less than 5 minutes, he spoke something so profound that impacted me as much as an hour long sermon. He shared part of the crucifixion story, specifically about Barabbas, in a way I’ve never heard before. It made such an impact on me that I made a note to go and study it further on my own, which is what I’ve done over the past week.

Pontius Pilate was convinced of Jesus’ innocence

After Jesus was arrested, questioned, and falsely accused by the Jewish authorities, he was handed over the next day to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea (Matthew 27:1-2, Mark 15:1, Luke 23:1-2, John 18:28-29). Pilate questioned Jesus and was convinced that Jesus was innocent (Matthew 27:23-24, Mark 15:14, Luke 23:4, 13-16, John 18:38).

Paschal Pardon

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KMS…Keep Mouth Shut

KMS...Keep Mouth Shut

KMS…Keep Mouth Shut

I think the best piece of marriage advice that I’ve ever received is KMS. Honestly, it’s been some pretty good advice in a variety of settings. However, it’s probably been some of the hardest advice to actually follow. Especially for me. Those who know me well will understand.

You see, several years ago I was serving on a volunteer team at my church. My team leader, Shelli, was amazing. She was such a great leader. I really looked up to her. One day as Shelli and I were serving together she mentioned that she and her husband were celebrating 17 years of marriage (or maybe 18 or more, I can’t remember offhand). I think I was only about 10 years into my marriage at that point, and we were going through some marriage problems.

So, I asked her, “What’s the best advice you could give me on marriage?”

Shelli quickly responded, “KMS.”

“KMS?” I questioned, “What’s KMS?”

She smiled at me and said “KMS…Keep Mouth Shut.”

I laughed and said, “Oh, I can’t do that! That’s your best advice? How do you do that? What about when you know you’re right?”

She laughed and jokingly replied, “Oh, I’m ALWAYS right, but I still keep my mouth shut!”

That was such a hard concept for me to fathom. How can I possibly believe that I’m right about something and still keep my mouth shut? 

God had already told me as much

Honestly, God had already been working on me to “KMS” for some time on this one. Even still, it took a while for me to get it through my thick head. Wait a minute! What am I talking about? I STILL struggle with this one a lot. 🙂 However, it is getting a lot easier.

After my conversation with Shelli, I started noticing bible verses about this exact topic of KMS during my quiet time readings…

“The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.” Exodus 14:14 (AMP)

“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:1-4 (NLT)

“…So let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2b (NLT)

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10:19 (NKJV)

“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” Proverbs 17:27-18 (NLT)

Did you see that? God was so nice. He started correcting me softly with phrases like “hold your peace”, “without any words”, “gentle and quiet spirit”, “few words”, “restrained lips” and “keep silent”.

I didn’t take the hint

Unfortunately, I still wasn’t taking the hint. Therefore, God got a little firmer and starting being a little more blunt about this KMS thing. Sometimes I need a good kick in the pants anyway!

Often, I like to read and study my bible in several different translations. One of my favorite things to do, as I’ve mentioned before, is read a chapter of Proverbs each day corresponding with the day of the month (since there are 31). Then, I start over again the next month reading in a different translation or version.

Several of these verses I kept reading about KMS came right out of the book of Proverbs. Can you believe that as I started reading in different translations, many of these same verses that I had already read (and had already been corrected on softly mind you) ACTUALLY had the KMS command in them! In fact, they flat-out said “keep your mouth shut” right in the verse! Who knew God could be so blunt and direct? Ouch!

KMS Verses:

KMS Bible Verses

KMS Bible Verses

“God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!” Exodus 14:14 (MSG)

“…Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking.” Psalm 4:4 (MSG)

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)

“I wish you would keep your mouths shut! Then people would think you were wise.” Job 13:5 (NIRV)

“So those who are smart keep their mouths shut, for it is an evil time.” Amos 5:13 (NLT)

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 (NLT)

“Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise; as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.” Proverbs 17:28 (MSG)

“I promised I would watch my steps so as not to sin with my tongue; promised to keep my mouth shut as long as the wicked were in my presence.” Psalms 39:1 CEB

“As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God.” Ecclesiastes 5:1 (NLT)

“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” Proverbs 13:3 (NLT)

I finally started to get the idea

When I started reading these verses that were pretty much just in my face about the whole KMS issue, I finally started to take the correction. Boy was it humbling! I started to learn that sometimes fewer words (or no words) can speak volumes. The old cliché “silence is golden” can actually be pretty accurate.

One time God even threw in an extra analogy for me during my studies to drive His KMS point in really well. Wasn’t that nice of Him? 😉 One morning as I was sitting there studying these KMS verses about remaining silent, I had a thought cross my brain. Miranda Rights. All of a sudden these words ran through my mind, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…” Consequently, this reminded me that I will also be held accountable for everything I say. What I say can and will be used against me. Yet another reason to KMS!

“But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.” Matthew 12:36-37 (AMP) 

Now, it’s YOUR turn to KMS!

Take Some Practical Steps to KMS…Keep Mouth Shut:

  • First, read over the bible verses about KMS. There are LOTS of them! God probably deems this as a pretty important concept if the bible repeats it that much. There are some really good insights in these verses, and you can see some benefits of keeping your mouth shut. For example, when you KMS, God will fight for you, you appear more intelligent and wise, you stay out of trouble, you win people over, and you can keep yourself from sinning.
  • Next, pick a verse or two that stands out to you, write them on index cards and post them where you can see them daily as a reminder to KMS. Consider memorizing them.
  • Additionally, you might even turn some verses into a positive affirmation. For example, you could say, “God will fight for me. I will hold my peace and remain at rest.” Another affirmation might be, “I watch my tongue, keep my mouth shut, and stay out of trouble.”
  • Pray, and ask for God’s help to KMS. I try to make this a daily routine. A helpful verse to pray is Psalm 141:3. This is another verse I have written on an index card and posted on my bathroom sink so that I see it every morning.

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 (NIV)

Has God encouraged you to KMS in your relationships? How has KMS (keeping your mouth shut) been effective for you? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, disrespectful, sarcastic, offensive, or off-topic.  By posting on this site you agree to my Comment Policy.

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If you know anyone that could benefit from this, please pay it forward!  Share this post via the sharing links below.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) 

It’s OK to Have Doubts and Questions About the Christian Faith

It’s OK to Have Doubts and Questions About the Christian Faith

It’s OK to Have Doubts and Questions About the Christian Faith

This past weekend I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a couple of teenagers about issues of faith. To be completely honest, I had some pretty mixed emotions about our conversation. You see these teens had some pretty tough questions, and at points during the conversation they seemed to be questioning some of the most basic and important principles of the Christian faith.

Surprise

One emotion I experienced was that of surprise. These two teens had grown up in church and had been raised in a Christian home. Were they bringing into question everything that they have been taught all of their lives? Were they questioning the validity of the bible? How did they get to this point?

Then I almost talked myself out of the feelings of surprise as I reminded myself of the environment and culture that these teens and other teens are growing up in. The voices of the world are becoming louder and louder. They are surrounded on all sides and bombarded with attacks against Christian faith through culture in general, media, school systems, and even peer groups. How could they NOT have questions?

In the Bible, even the people in Berea were commended for questioning the teachings of Paul and Silas to make sure they were true. Their questioning did not surprise nor offend Paul.

“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” Acts 17:11-12 (NLT)

Fear and concern

Another emotion that arose was one of fear and concern. Questions began to flood my mind. If they are Christians and they have these questions, what must kids that weren’t raised in a Christian environment believe? If they were raised in church and in a Christian home, do all kids raised in a Christian environment have similar doubts and questions? Will my own kids have doubts and questions about their faith too? Am I equipped as a parent to raise kids who won’t have doubts? Is our future doomed if this is the common belief system of the current generation?

Then, as He always does, God started to ease my fears and concerns. Continue reading

Apologizing Doesn’t Remove All Consequences

Apologizing Doesn’t Remove All Consequences

Apologizing Doesn’t Remove All Consequences

This past weekend my son and daughter were arguing. Surprise. Surprise. Why do kids argue over the stupidest things? My daughter had actually won a prize at church, a giant Pixy Stix. They started arguing over if she would share or not. When she went to put her coat on before we walked out to the car she needed someone to hold her Pixy Stix. She wouldn’t hand it to her brother but to me instead. Apparently he got mad because he was “trying to help her”. I’m sure he had other ulterior motives too. So he spouted off in a hateful tone, “I was just trying to help you! You’re a piece of crap!”

After I picked my jaw up off the floor at the nastiness that just spewed out of his mouth, I quickly informed him that we DO NOT talk like that to people. I also advised him that he would definitely not be getting any of that Pixy Stix now.

When we got to the car I made him do the 4-step apology (or as we call it now, “apologize the right way”). We had some further, lengthy “discussion” about his attitude and the ease with which he flung his verbal assault. After some conversation, the tension ceased. Something else lighthearted created peace between the two siblings again; for the life of me I can’t remember what it was now.

Then, I had that motherly 6th sense as I was driving. My daughter, the forgiving soul that she is, gave her brother some of her Pixy Stix candy.

So hollering behind me…

Me: “Are you eating some of that Pixy Stix?!”

My son: “Yes, she gave me some.”

Me: “I told you NO Pixy Stix.”

My son: “But I apologized and she forgave me.”

Me: “Apologies don’t delete consequences. Just because you said you were sorry doesn’t mean that your punishment disappears. Just because she forgave you doesn’t make the hurt you caused her disappear.”

Then I remembered an exercise that I do with my classes to demonstrate a point. Continue reading

Explaining the Fear of the Lord

Explaining the Fear of the Lord...

Explaining the Fear of the Lord

The kids and I had a discussion recently about the fear of the Lord and what that truly means. It can be a little more difficult to explain to children. Even adults sometimes misunderstand the phrase “fear of the Lord”. So, I thought I’d spend some time on that today and share an analogy that came to mind to describe this “fear”.

This month we have been reading through a YouVersion bible reading plan called The Wisdom of Proverbs. It’s a good introduction to the book by reading a chapter of proverbs each day of the month accompanied by a short explanation each day. Reading a proverb a day is one of my daily routines that I’d like to instill in my own children. I learned as a youth that this practice is one of the best ways to grow in wisdom.

Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord

As a result of reading the bible, we’ve learned that the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding comes from the fear of the Lord.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” Psalm 111:10 (NLT)

“And this is what he says to all humanity: The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.” Job 28:28 (NLT)

Therefore, if we want to be truly wise and grow in wisdom, we must learn this principle of having the fear of the Lord.

What is this “fear”?

The fear of the Lord has been defined as a specific sense of respect, awe, and submission to God. The Hebrew word for this fear is Continue reading

Scriptures About Speaking To Others And Knowing What To Say

Here are some scriptures about speaking that will help you with what to say to others.  Use these scriptures as a prayer for help on figuring out the right thing to say or as a positive affirmation that you will say the right things at the right time.

Scriptures About Speaking To Others And Knowing What To Say

Sometimes not knowing what to say to others can be very intimidating. Often we find ourselves in situations where we might have to have a difficult conversation or confrontation. Occasionally, we might even have to defend ourselves from time to time. Some situations are less serious, and we just need some wisdom or guidance on saying the right thing or clearly communicating a message. Fortunately, I have found some scriptures about speaking that I like to turn into a prayer request depending on my need at the time.

Personally, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in prayer using these scriptures about speaking to ask for God’s help to say the right thing at the right time. They also help me to ask for help to clearly explain something. Actually, I pray many of these verses before I write a blog post as well because I truly want my posts to be God-led, clearly explained and contain information that will help anyone who reads them. I also use these scriptures before a difficult conversation or confrontation when I know I’ll need to tread lightly and when the right words are so important. I even use them to help me discern when to keep my mouth shut! Lastly, I always want the words that come out of my mouth to only mirror what God would say.

I’d like to share some of my go-to scriptures for speaking that I use when I’m in these types of situations. Some I have found on my own with research on the topic. Others have been shared with me by close friends when I’ve reached out for prayer. My hope and prayer is that you might find a few go-to verses for yourself that help you know what to say when you are at a loss for words or need a little help. 

Scriptures about speaking the right words and having the right timing: Continue reading