Category Archives: Refined by the Word

It’s not what you say…it’s how you say it <3

Here we are at Thursday and I have enjoyed being on task and following through with a theme this week! I love order and consistency. Being flexible is something I can do with grace when I am well-rested, nourished and have most of my ducks in a row…or at least know where they are. 

But throw me a curve ball when I am hungry or tired or juggling too many things in my hands or my head…and watch out. Mary Poppins, I am not. 

If I don’t completely lose it in front of you, I say something snarky and harsh and then get in the car and bawl my head off as I rant and rave before God about my plight of woe. 


This is me. 

So as I read the next set of questions raised by the sermon notes I am revisiting with you this week, conviction hits me square between the eyes. 

What’s the loop that is playing in my head? How am I talking about the circumstances I am in? How do I take about situations that seem out of my control? (hello 2020/2021….I see you) Because they ARE out of my control. This part is true.


What do I say about them?

What do I say in them?

What do I say about myself in them?

How do I talk to others?

Because what I say bears fruit! Life or death!

Chris Otts, Antioch ATX January 4, 2021 sermon “New Year – Talk to Me”

I blush.

Often I speak words about them and about me in my overwhelming circumstances that I would never say to another human being. 

But the self-talk IS talk and it bears the fruit of death in me as I spew out the poison of words carelessly. 

I grumble and complain. And right now my reading is Numbers and I can tell you, God does not groove on grumbling and complaining. 

As I consider the current circumstances that dominate how I am able to function in February of 2021, I have to admit that there are a whole lot of things that are out of my control that make life challenging. 

I don’t think the answer is to sugar gloss the reality of a pandemic, a nation that is fiercely divided, a lose-lose when it comes to reopening and regathering and an economy that is imploding…just to mention a few things that can get me stirred up with anxiety and fear. 

Pushing down my inner turmoil is not applying the wisdom of Proverbs 18:21. 

Instead I find that I need to thoughtfully set aside as much of the emotions as I can (which is a mighty act of God in me, believe me) and make the effort to first acknowledge who God is. 

As I come before Him full of angst and grasping to control what I think I can, I first need to enter His Presence with reverence and awe. Centering my mind on what I KNOW to be true of my God, I can then present my concerns and spiraling thoughts before Him recognizing that He not only knows what’s going on and how it is going to end; He also knows ME. He already knows all the stuff going on in my head. 

So rather than charging the Throne Room of God with my words, I can quiet my heart and just pour out all that is swirling in a trusting flow of a child going to her Father and seeking His help, guidance, comfort and wisdom. 

As I feed on His Word before I spill out my words, I find that I am not a tumbleweed blowing across some deserted expanse of a hopeless world, but a green vine attached to a Branch that will be nourished to bear good fruit. 

Easier said than done some days, but going back to the list above helps me reorder my thinking to land in a better place to speak words of life – to myself, to others, to my God <3

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Speaking of words…

Well, speaking of words, I have had to eat mine back since posting yesterday. 

I caught myself in the act of speaking death too many times to recount. 

I blush.

So maybe I am just preaching to myself, but if so…time well spent. 

Because being refined and transformed is all part of the Journey.

Working through more of my notes from the sermon (“New Year – Talk to Me, Chris Otts at Antioch ATX January 4, 2021 here —>, I found this thought from Chris:

When things keep piling up, when you are not sure how they are going to go, that’s where words matter.

paraphrase from Chris Ott sermon, Antioch ATX “New Year – Talk to Me” January 4, 2021

As I read that thought again I was reminded, as I always am when there are a lot of things coming against me, of 2 Chronicles 20. 

This passage finds King Jehoshaphat of Judah in a pickle of large magnitude. 

He has Moab, Ammon and others with vast armies marching dangerously towards his kingdom. 

The threat is real and the odds against Judah are huge. They are greatly outnumbered and under resourced. 

Why, we could probably say….the times were unprecedented for this King. 

So with the reality of it all sinking in and in complete helplessness, Jehoshaphat doesn’t start running his mouth to his advisors, strategists and people. 

Instead he responds with:

  1. healthy fear of an overwhelming set of circumstances
  2. setting himself to seek the LORD
  3. calling his people to a place of humility by proclaiming a nationwide fast

The only “talking” we see is in verses 6-12 which is one of the most beautiful prayers of the Bible to me. 

Grab your Bible and look it up. I’ll wait. 

In verses 6-9, Jehoshaphat declares all he knows to be true about God, God’s promises to Abraham and the nation of Israel and recalls the prayer of Solomon over the Temple dedication.  We can not appropriate these promises for our nation as if we were Israel. But we CAN model the essence of the prayer, which is based on KNOWING who God is and KNOWING what has been promised for BELIEVERS in the Old and New Testaments. 

In verses 10 and 11, Jehoshaphat outlines the problem they are facing and how this situation is an affront to God’s people. AGAIN – this kind of prayer involved truly understanding and knowing exactly what God’s plan for Israel had been. Not name it and claim it. But reading Scripture and understanding exactly what God’s parameters were for His people. 

Finally in verse 12, Jehoshaphat brings before God all that he has to offer to bring about a solution to this crisis. 


He has absolutely nothing to bring except himself, the men, women and children of the kingdom and to helplessly spread out his hands and ask God to lead them because they had no plan or idea on their own. 

What a great example of how to use words for life instead of death when everything is piling up and we don’t know how it is going to go. 

I will wrap up our visit today with a sweet reminder about words from David Jeremiah in reference to our Proverbs 18:21 passage:

These statements together (Proverbs 18:21) illustrate the power of words. What a person says will often return to him or her in some way, either adding to his or her life or subtracting from it. Our speech has consequences.

David Jeremiah, NKJV Study Bible, 2013, David Jeremiah, Inc. pg. 828 (scripture entry added for clarity)

Again it would seem when we don’t know what to say, outward silence is recommended and inward chatter should be formed into prayers of acknowledging our condition, God’s character, His promises and seeking His face even more than seeking His hand. 

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Sticks and stones….

Carrying on from yesterday, I drug out several Bible and pulled up commentaries and it felt like old times. 

Didn’t realize how much I missed digging into thoughts and questions that keep me stirring.

While I really got a lot out of the sermon I shared in yesterday’s post (, and while I totally can apply it and learn from it and share it, I still stumbled a bit over the passage in Proverbs.

I can read a passage and think I get the gist of it, but it is so important to really grasp what Scripture is saying. 

The phrasing of Proverbs 18:21 is a wee bit confusing when I really focus on it and I could gloss over it but that is not being a good student of the Word. 

So here is a picture of my dilemma as I faced in my study time yesterday.

You see the “it” can be misconstrued so I did some checking in other translations and in commentaries and have landed on this as a more clear picture of what this wisdom means:

Our tongues, the words we speak (including inside our brains, in print and out loud) have great power to bring death

(kill, fatally wound, destroy, smother, assassinate, annihilate)

or life

(nourish, plant, give hope, regenerate, cause to bloom and grow)

and those who love using words often, talking much, sharing much….will be fed by what they talk about, think on, post, share. I would add that our hearers also must partake of the fruit of choices we make with our many words. 

Laura Reimer on Proverbs 18:21 in my own words

So what is someone like me to do? 

Because I have many, many thoughts.

And I doooooooooo love to share them at times.

For those who think I talk and write too much (my family used to pay me in comic books to be quiet for our extended times traveling in the summer)…you have absolutely no earthly idea the large number of thoughts and words I DON’T say. 

I love words. 

I love speaking them, writing them, thinking them, sharing them…and not all of my words are good words of life. 

I love reading other people’s words and I can’t not hear the ones I don’t love. 

They all pile up inside of me and at times they spill out. Words of life and words of death all jumbled together and as I sort through them, I need wisdom and help to know that not all are worthy of keeping nor sharing.

I have been acknowledged as Captain Obvious more times than I care to remember. 

I have had loved ones remind me that they already know all the things I just told them in analysis of a situation. 

I have retold stories a few hundred times just because I like telling them even if I know I am abusing my audience.

I have bitten my tongue til it bled and I have regretted a thousand times over when I didn’t.

So I think today of a simple lie we may have heard or said on the playgrounds of our youth…

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. 

Oh yes they will.

Bones and flesh heal and tend to be forgotten, but hurtful words…lies…negative commentary…unnecessary talking just to be talking….these cut into our own souls and those who are listening to us and souls are very hard to heal. 

I think the best thing to do is to continually take our words and our wounds from other’s words to Jesus. 

I think it is important to confess when we are loving talking more than we are loving being still.

One thing I am trying very hard to develop is a habit of using words of praise as I fall asleep at night and wake in the morning. I find it stills and quiets the running commentary of my own thoughts and thoughts absorbed from others throughout the day.  

As my mind is filled with praise and thanksgiving to God, the fruit of my tongue tends to be life. 

And when old habits arise and that switches back into old ruts, I find I am quicker to recognize the poison, kneel before my King and ask for/receive His forgiveness. 

Amazing Grace….how sweet the sound <3

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