Loose Lips Sink Ships

As children, we learned the highly inaccurate adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I broke a lot of bones as a kid. I can’t even tell you how many, and I don’t remember all of the causes. But I have vivid recollections of the words people said to me that both built me up and tore me down. This makes a lot of sense, based on my 5 Love Languages Assessment, which identifies Words of Affirmation as, by far, the number one way I receive love. My assessment says, “Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”

I was fortunate to have parents who were constantly encouraging me with their words and their support. This was especially true when I played organized sports. Whether I was starting the game or sitting on the bench, my parents were there to cheer me on. Regardless of the box score, my dad would always ask if I tried my best and if I had fun. I would say yes, and he would tell me he was proud of me. Now, married and with children of my own, I still remember my dad’s words, just as I am sure the servants in Matthew 25 remembered the day their master returned and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Likewise, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke each recount the transfiguration, during which God says of Jesus, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” How incredible would it be to hear God say those words to us when we meet him in heaven?

It is easy to see how our words can encourage others, through simple compliments, saying thank you, or recognizing a job well done. It might be easier still to see how words can destroy others. But how do our words affect God? And how can we use them to show God love? One of the most practical ways is to pray. Even though God knows what we need before we even ask, Proverbs 15:8 says, “The prayer of the upright is his delight.” Praising God by singing is another way we can use our words for God, even if you sing as poorly as I do. God gave us our voices, and he loves to hear them! And if singing isn’t your thing, try writing your words down. Ben Snyder often talks about his passion for journaling, and he even challenged the church to try it during the “Design Your Life” series. Take the time to reflect on what is going on in your life, and how you responded, specifically with your words.

Imagine living by the words of the Psalmist in 71:8: “I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.” How would your life be different if you were constantly singing the praises of God, using your words to glorify him and honor others?

Psalm 71:7-8

7My life is an example to many,

because you have been my strength and protection.

8That is why I can never stop praising you;

I declare your glory all day long.

 

Prayer

God, forgive me for the times I have used my words to gossip, to hurt others, or to embarrass or curse someone. I want to know what it feels like to hear you say, “Well done.” Use me to bring that joy to someone’s life by using my words to edify them and to lift them up. Amen.


This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is the business director at Chick-Fil-A in Toledo. He enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, and watching Cleveland sports as much as anyone can. Follow him on twitter @cookfila


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Evangelism Can Be Scary

There’s an old, old story about a husband who never told his wife he loved her. When asked why he was unwilling to say the words, his reply was, “I told her I loved her when we got married. If I ever stop, I’ll let her know!” It’s kind of funny but in a sad, heartbreaking sort of way. In decades past, emotions weren’t on display as they are today. Many children grew up never hearing words of love from their parents, especially their fathers. It just wasn’t done. The thought was that the parents showed their love for their children by providing for their needs, making sure they had food, clothing, and educational opportunities, not by their words. Unfortunately, many of these kids, now adults, have empty emotional tanks, wanting, needing those words of love from their parents. No act, or possession, or substance, or person can fill the place of those missing words.

And so it is with the gospel. You and I may serve someone because we love Jesus. Someone else will serve because it makes them feel better to have helped another human. You don’t have to be a Christian to love and serve other people – lots of folks do it. “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words” is a quote often misattributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It’s a great thought, but without words, how will anyone know why you serve? How will anyone know that Jesus has changed your life, and how can they know that he makes the same offer to them? You may be familiar with the story in Acts 8:26-35 where the Holy Spirit told the Apostle Philip to, “Go up to that chariot and stay near it.” In the chariot was an Ethiopian man who was reading the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, not understanding a thing he was reading. Philip was there and asked him if he knew what the Scripture meant, which talked about how he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, etc. He said, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” And that’s precisely the point! There are many theories, opinions, and thoughts about Jesus. But you have a story to tell about Jesus that is yours alone. No one can dispute it.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Jesus as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Part of being prepared is found in these verses:

Colossians 4:5-6

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

So, what’s your story? This week, spend some time writing it down. Make different versions, suitable for different audiences, so you’re prepared with the right response.  Make a 20-second elevator version. Make a 2-5 minute version. Make one that lasts 10 minutes. Look at it. Pray about it. Ask God to help you distil out the most important aspects, so that you can be ready. Fear usually prevents us from sharing the good news about Jesus. Preparation goes a long way in reducing fear. You know what to say – it’s your story! But remember, share it with gentleness and respect!

PRAYER

My Jesus, my Savior! Give me the courage to tell the people in my life how you came to me when I needed you most, even though I may not have realized it at the time. Help me with the words to say that will open their hearts to understand what an incredible difference you have made in my life. I pray that the way I live now will make them curious about you and that you give me the boldness to tell my story. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook here.


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A Heart of Darkness

Do you ever remember hearing someone tell you that if you didn’t have anything good to say, then you shouldn’t say anything at all? What does that even mean?

Apparently, whoever said that to you may have known a little more than they were letting on. Come to find out, if you don’t have anything good to say, it’s more than likely related to the condition of your heart.

Jesus said that what you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45). I’m not sure that as a society, we quite understand that it’s not our words that determine our actions, but our heart.

It seems that a lot of us have a severe heart condition, and we need help. In the deepest caverns of our hearts, there are still some shadows lurking within, and their mission is to destroy any goodness that is left. However, there is hope.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Jesus said, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)

What is the condition of your heart? Has it been penetrated by the light?

Last weekend, Lauren defined Words of Affirmation as “giving voice to a positive thought.” Unfortunately, we tend to give voice to negative thoughts before positive thoughts.

How can we have positive thoughts when we focus on our circumstances or the trivial things of life? God isn’t in the business of changing our circumstances; he is in the business of changing lives and transforming hearts.

If we want words of affirmation to flow out of our mouths from the depths of our heart, then we need to receive the words of affirmation that Christ gives to us when we let him into our lives.

He is constantly giving us words of affirmation, here are just a few that we can stand on:

  • I am a new creature in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I am no longer a slave, but a child, an heir. (Galatians 4:7)
  • I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ. (Ephesians 1:7)
  • I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

 

Luke 6:45
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

How we talk to ourselves, and what we spend our time thinking about determines how we will speak to others. We think that only sick people have issues with their heart. The truth is, we all have heart problems.

Jesus is the only one that can heal our hearts and defeat the darkness that lies inside them. The more we spend time in his Word, the more it penetrates those gloomy caverns.

As we seek to speak words of life into others, remember that Jesus loves us; even though we were still sinners, he died for us. Jesus never hesitates speaking Words of Affirmation to us. He longs to talk to us and remind us who we are. When we speak to others, we are merely a reflection of the love that Jesus has given us…

Or…

We are the absence of it.

What is the condition of your heart?

 

What kind of words do you use when you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed?

 

Read the article: “Who Does God Say That I Am?” at Bible.org.

 

PRAYER
Lord, let the words that come out of my mouth be words that you would speak. Change the condition of my heart to be in alignment with your Word, remind me who you say I am, and correct any negative patterns that I may have. Amen.


This post was written by Stephen Dull. Stephen is a Continuous Improvement Engineer, Triathlete, and Blogger. He is passionate about Faith, Finances, Fitness, and helping men to discover their God-given dream. He has a lovely wife and 2 beautiful daughters. You can follow him on twitter @maxxdull or on his website: www.the360manproject.com


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Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is an adage that has been around for over 100 years, but is it true? I can say for certain that, overall, I have been hurt by words way more than I have ever been hurt physically. Furthermore, many of those hurtful words were spoken by Christians. I would like to think that most of the hurtful words spoken by Christians were well-meaning, but I’m not so sure. I have also spoken words that were not well-meaning; perhaps not intentionally hurtful (well, maybe once…) but not kind, gentle, or loving to be sure.

Words hold tremendous power, and if we are not careful, they can do as much damage, or more, as sticks or stones. Physical bruises fade, but wounds created by harsh words can last so much longer. As this song by Hawk Nelson says: “Words can build us up, words can tear us down, start a fire in our hearts or put it out.”

This can be a bit tricky for Christians. We are supposed to be truthful and hold each other accountable, but in a kind and loving way. Sometimes we get too caught up in being right, and it turns into self-righteousness. Or, we speak without thinking it through, either out of anger, pride, or jealousy. Those words hurt people and don’t show the light of Christ.

At the same time, Words of Affirmation can have incredible power as well. Telling our children we are proud of them or expressing our affection to a loved one can make a huge difference in the way they feel about themselves and the way they behave towards others. The ripple effect can be immense. Think about the way Jesus talked to people. He wasn’t hurtful, but he always told the truth. He held people accountable for their actions, but they always knew he loved them.

This is why Paul is so adamant about his directions to the church at Ephesus. The heading of the section of today’s Scripture is titled “Living as Children of the Light” (NLT). He tells them that they know how Christ treated people, so they must do the same. It might be tempting to think that Paul is exaggerating in verse 29 when he writes, “let everything you say be good and helpful,” (italics mine) but nothing in the text tells us that Paul is exaggerating. Instead, it seems that as followers of Christ, we are expected to be careful with everything we say. This is a challenge for us all.

Ephesians 4:29

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

 

What steps can you take to be sure that everything you say is good and helpful?

 

Example: Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8

 

PRAYER

Father, I praise you for the tremendous gift of verbal communication. Help me to remember what a huge responsibility it is as well. Thank you for giving me Scripture to guide me and show me how to shine your light to whomever I speak. Amen.


This post was written by Kelda Strasbourg, Kelda is a grateful member of the LivingItOut writing team. She has a love for Jesus and the desire to help others find that same love. She has her own business and a border collie named Emily.


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The Words Between Us

One of life’s wonderful truths is that each of us – regardless of our age, status, or financial means – possesses a gift that can bring comfort and happiness to others.  This gift is of great value, but costs nothing, and we all possess it in limitless abundance.  And yet, some of us share this gift sparingly with others who crave it, even those whom we know and love.

The gift in question is the subject of this week’s final installment of “The {Space} Between Us” series – the fifth and last component of author Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages: Words of Affirmation.”

Words of Affirmation is effectively about giving voice to positive thoughts.  As Chapman says, actions don’t always speak louder than words.  In fact, for those who value this Love Language above the others, nothing speaks louder than an unsolicited compliment.

In Proverbs 18:21, Solomon wrote, “The tongue can bring death or life.”  To be certain, harsh words can leave a lasting imprint on the recipient, particularly one who values Words of Affirmation.  Contrarily, as Chapman says, “kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”

Author Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”  (Although we have it on good authority that Twain did not take the Love Languages test, it’s fair to assume that he would have scored high on Words of Affirmation!)  But the very fact that Twain spoke so glowingly of his fondness for compliments most likely speaks to their relative rarity in his experience.  Why is this?

For those of us who do not count Words of Affirmation among our top Love Languages, it may simply be a case of not consciously appreciating the indelible impact that kind words can have on others.  In the course of our busy days and lives, it’s all too easy to let a kind word evaporate from our fleeting thoughts, unspoken.  For parents, we can be so consumed with shaping and correcting our children that we miss the invaluable opportunity to build their self-worth and confidence with a kind comment or observation.  In the work environment, we may fear that kind words may be misconstrued as “kissing up,” that our views may be inconsistent with those of others or, worse yet, that complimenting others may serve to diminish our accomplishments or standing.

If you’ve failed to share the gift of kind words, whether due to oversight or reluctance, now is the time to invest in your relationships by giving voice to your positive thoughts.

In her talk this past weekend, CedarCreek’s Lauren Snyder spoke of the value she finds in kind words, even when the circumstances may not appear to merit them.  As she noted, the kindness of such words is evidence that those who share them love her enough to see past imperfections and find some beauty; they care enough to give voice to a positive thought spoken in her Love Language, which is Words of Affirmation.

Judas Iscariot (the disciple who would soon betray Jesus) lashed out at Mary, saying, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”  Reacting to the harsh words of Judas, Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

In this passage, as is so often the case, Jesus artfully uses words of affirmation – in this instance to demonstrate his love for Mary by defending her, describing her gift as “good,” and articulating why she did it (to anoint his body for burial). In short, Jesus illustrated three critical components which we, too, can apply to speaking Words of Affirmation:

  1. Communicate Truth – It can be argued that there was a kernel of truth in the criticism of Mary’s lavish gift; but even so, communicating raw truth – particularly in the company of others and without full context – isn’t always helpful. Instead, when we consider Jesus’ example of truth-telling, we see the appropriate way to do this.
  1. Consider Timing – When we consider the timing of our words, we acknowledge that just because something is true doesn’t mean that it needs to be expressed now, or here … or even by us. In Mark 14:9, in speaking of Mary’s gift, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” With impeccable timing, he shared a compliment that echoes to this day.
  1. Control Tone – Perhaps most importantly, Jesus’ tone demonstrated an innate understanding of Mary’s heart and intent.

 

John 12:1-8

1 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

TRY IT

This week, consider taking advantage of these opportunities that Lauren outlined to share Words of Affirmation in your relationships:

  1. Seven Days of Encouragement: Start each day this week by asking God to reveal someone who needs unexpected encouragement… and then you be the one to provide it! Try to encourage one person a day for all seven days.
  1. You Matter Cards: Identify a compliment that you haven’t yet communicated to someone in your life. Write a note expressing the positive thought, using one of the YOU MATTER cards that were distributed at our campuses this past weekend, and mail it.

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank you for blessing us with the people and relationships in our lives.  Help us to be mindful of the “languages” we each speak, and to be thoughtful, humble, and loving in expressing our words.  Help us also to choose our words carefully and share them generously as we give voice to our positive thoughts – for the good of one another and your kingdom.  Amen.


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd is a regular contributor to and editor of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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The Science of Touch

My family has a tradition of making homemade pasta, sauce, and meatballs on Sundays, especially during the colder months. This tradition has been carried down by both of my grandmothers, my mom, my aunts, myself, and my children. My mother used to say that a homemade pasta dinner could cure anything. It can also “carb you up” before or after athletic exertion.

It can be the focal point of many important family gatherings, such as births, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, or … Sundays! In my attempt to extend this tradition, I learned to involve my family in the preparation of the meal. I taught my husband how to make the sauce. He adds more sugar than I do and actually makes a better sauce. My children help by trying to hand-roll the meat mixture into uniformly shaped balls. And everyone, even guests, help crank and cut the noodles!

When preparing this meal, I’ve often thought that the process of making meatballs is similar to God’s creation of us. Both start with ingredients and include a process of applying pressure and temperature to achieve the desired result. Meatballs are a combination of ground beef, pork, veal, breadcrumbs, eggs, and spices. First, the ingredients are mixed together and pressure is applied shaping them into individuals. Next, they are oven baked to a temperature appropriate for their development. Finally, the meatballs are tossed into the sauce with the purpose of adding flavor for all!

God used a similar process when he created us! After creating the sky, seas, land, plants, animals, fish, and birds, the Lord reached down and grabbed some dust. And with his own hand, he shaped man and woman in his image. That “tradition” has been repeated throughout eternity (minus the dirt), all the way to us! With God’s recipe and by his own hand, he has applied pressure and heat when necessary, shaping us into the people we are today. He touched us with his breath and made us alive.

God created us as touching machines. He covered us with tactile receptors and gave our brains the ability to interpret the messages. He gave us physical touch as the first sense we acquire, our first language as infants. We begin receiving tactile signals even before birth, as our mother’s heartbeat is amplified by amniotic fluid. No wonder that touch plays such a critical role in parent-child relationships from the start.

Physical touch is also essential to our emotional well-being as adults. Touch is a precise way to communicate emotions. We have an innate ability to decode emotions via touch alone. Studies have shown that the emotions of anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, and sadness are communicated at 78% accuracy by touch alone. These results show that for all our caution about touching, we come equipped with an ability to send and receive emotional signals solely by doing so.

The bottom line is that we feel more connected to someone if they touch us. Touch is also reciprocal by nature. You can’t touch without being touched. Studies have shown that a person giving a hug gets just as much benefit as a person being hugged. When pressure receptors in the skin are stimulated it lowers stress hormones and stimulates your “cuddle” hormone which enhances trust and attachment, resulting in connection!

God created us from nothing more special than dust of the ground. Our worth comes not from our achievements but from the God of the universe who chooses to give us the mysterious and miraculous gift of life. Value life as he does!  Hug someone!

Genesis 2:7 (New Living Translation)

Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Do you live your life to advance God’s kingdom?

 

Are you using your gifts to honor God?

 

Have you connected with God today by hugging another human?

 

PRAYER

O Heavenly Father, thank you for making us in your image as touching machines. Help us to fill the space between us with loving touches, especially to the ones we love! Amen


This post was written by Pamela Haynam, a regular contributor to the Living it Out.


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Touch Talks

In 2012, I deployed to Afghanistan as an Infantry Platoon Leader in the Army. The job of the infantry is to “close with and destroy the enemy.” We’re the door kickers, trigger pullers, and tip of Uncle Sam’s boot. So, when we were told we had to attend “social interaction” training to learn how “not to offend” Afghans; there was a visible lack of excitement.

When we attended the training there were quite a few jokes made as it felt like we were in kindergarten learning “manners 101.” The training consisted of walking us through how to remove one’s glove prior to shaking an Afghan’s hand, remove sunglasses while talking, and other basic social cues.

While all the training seemed so basic it was those laughable reminders that saved lives and prevented enemies. See, in the ten plus years of the Army fighting in Afghanistan they began to learn the importance of Afghan culture in making allies. Since honor is the centerpiece of Afghan culture, something as simple as shaking an elder’s hand with a glove on could dishonor an entire village, causing them to side with the enemy. In fact, the best way to honor and connect with an Afghan while attempting to communicate with them is through physical touch. For us, the power of a skin-to-skin handshake was invaluable.  A handshake spoke volumes; it was disarming and communicated trust, commitment, and safety.

At this point, the irony is not lost on me that we had to teach soldiers from the most “connected” generation (due to technological advances) the value of a handshake, or more encompassing, the value of nonverbal communication in human connection.

If, as communications experts tell us, 93% of all communication is nonverbal, then we can’t overlook the importance of touch as a way we communicate. In the midst of a technological culture, a culture like that of Afghanistan reminds us how serious nonverbal communication is, especially that of physical touch.

We especially have to be aware of this if we have a spouse, friend, or child whose primary love language is physical touch. Those with the love language of physical touch emotionally yearn for nonverbal communication such as holding hands, shaking hands, arm around the shoulder or a hand through the hair. A tender hug communicates love to any child but it shouts love on a whole other level to the child whose love language is physical touch.

Regardless what your love language is, it is important to understand and apply the love language of physical touch in our relationships to help fill the “Space Between Us” in our key relationships.

In fact, Jesus, on multiple occasions, demonstrates the importance of physical touch to show affection, transform, heal, and communicate.

In Mark 7:32-35, Jesus healed a man who was deaf and couldn’t talk very well. This man understood touch, though. He understood all of the non-verbal communication. Jesus knew that and met this man in a way that he could understand.

Take a look to see this play out:

Mark 7:32-35

A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!

It is interesting that the people “begged Jesus to lay his hands on him.” Throughout the gospels Jesus lays his hands on people to heal them, but he did not have to. Jesus could have just spoken the word and the man would have been healed as we see in the previous passage, Mark 7:24-30, and other locations such as Matthew 8. What this passage shows us is that Jesus constantly meets people where they are and he is never afraid to engage a person on their level.

How can we apply this passage to our relationships, especially those where physical touch is a primary love language?

One of the biggest things we see in this passage about physical touch is that it communicates focus and understanding. In the passage, Jesus led the deaf man away from the crowds to heal him in private. He gave the man attention and his physical touch showed Jesus was addressing the specific issue at hand.

Apply this principle of communication this week. To get someone’s attention, instead of yelling “Hey you…” come up beside them and put your hand on their back. When someone is hurting, give him or her a hug. When you make an agreement with someone, shake his or her hand.

How can you apply this passage and the idea of physical, non-verbal communication to our relationship with Jesus?

Perhaps there are physical actions you can take to show God how important he is to you. If you feel the prompting of the Spirit, you can raise your hands in worship. You can physically move and get alone to spend time with Jesus through reading and prayer. If you have trouble focusing while praying, try writing out your prayers in a notebook.

Most importantly, if God lays something on your heart through scripture or prayer that requires you to physically do something, don’t hesitate, step out and follow God where he is leading.

Who do you need to engage with physical, non-verbal communication today?

 

Are you allowing God to lead you into a lifestyle that allows you to focus more on him?

 

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

Help me to see others where they are. Help my non-verbal communication to help others feel needed and important. Use my non-verbal communication to show love and spread hope. Give me the discernment to see those who need a hug, handshake, or encouraging touch. Thank you for the ability to express your love to all those I encounter today. Lead me further in my walk with you today. Amen.


This post was written by Alex Woody. Alex is the Director of Students at the West Toledo Campus of CedarCreek Church. He has an amazing wife and two joy-filled daughters who can regularly be found filling the West Toledo lobby with laughter and smiles.


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Touch Heals

Five years ago, I was in a car accident. I was stopped in the middle of the road, behind a car that was turning left. It was pouring rain, and the conditions were pretty bad.

The only reason I was on the road was because I realized I had left my wallet at home during my drive to work. So, of course, I did the logical thing which was to turn around and go back to get it.

I didn’t even see it coming; the car just blasted right into the rear end of my vehicle jolting me violently forward. I immediately felt intense pain in my neck and back. Much of this pain stayed with me for three years, and some of it still lingers to this day.

This doesn’t even compare to the pain and discomfort that a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years must have had. I can only imagine.

She must have felt hopeless, that it was something she would have to live with forever. She had to constantly be paying attention to this malady. She was probably seen as disgusting and an outcast. All she wanted was to be better.

If you have ever had any sort of pain or illness, you know it consumes your thoughts. It seems that you can’t ever carry on with your life until it is alleviated. It can become unbearable, dictating every action that you take. It paralyzes your reality.

This woman knew that if she could just touch Jesus, he would heal her. She probably hadn’t been touched by anyone in years because she was seen as unclean. She needed to be loved; she wanted to feel like a normal person again.  She knew in the depths of her heart that a single touch of the Master’s garment was all she needed. This woman knew the power of touch. Jesus, too, recognized when he was touched even though it was only the fringe of his garment. What he really felt was her belief in him and the transfer of healing from him to her.

There is power in touch; there is healing in touch.

Matthew 9:20-22

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Jesus wants to heal us with his touch; he does this through his word. When we spend time with him, we will begin to have closeness with him.

As we begin to learn more about him, he gives us understanding and will reach into the depths of our hearts and heal us through the power of his divine touch. It will be done in a way that is so unique that you will have no doubt that it is from him.

Is there any area of your life where you need God’s touch?

 

Is there anyone in your life who needs or longs for your touch?

 

List five ways that you can take action. Then do one a day for the next five days.

 

PRAYER
Jesus, I long for you, and I want to know you more. Show me areas in my life where I need your divine touch. Help me to be aware of others who have the language of touch, and to serve them better.


This post was written by Stephen Dull. Stephen is a Continuous Improvement Engineer, Triathlete, and Blogger. He is passionate about Faith, Finances, Fitness, and helping men to discover their God-given dream. He has a lovely wife and 2 beautiful daughters. You can follow him on twitter @maxxdull or on his website: www.the360manproject.com


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Touch Transforms

In an article in Psychology Today, Ray Williams wrote about how non-sexual touch affects human beings emotionally, physically and intellectually. He said, “Physical contact distinguishes humans from other animals. From a warm handshake or sympathetic hug to a congratulatory pat on the back, we have developed complex languages, cultures, and emotional expression through physical touch. But in a tech-saturated world, non-sexual human touch is in danger of becoming rare, if not obsolete. Despite the benefits of digital advancement, it is vital to preserve human touch in order for us truly to thrive.”

The article goes on to describe how scientific research now correlates physical touch with important advantages in our lives such as decreased violence, greater trust between individuals, economic gain, decreased disease and stronger immune system, stronger team dynamics, more non-sexual emotional intimacy, greater learning engagement and overall wellbeing.

Not everyone is used to or comfortable with frequent touching. But touch can be very important to relationships of every variety, not just marriages. David Klow, a marriage and family therapist said, “Most people want to feel understood and communication is a vehicle by which they transmit understanding and empathy. Non-verbal communication can be a very powerful way to say to your partner, ‘I get you.’ Cuddling is a way of saying, ‘I know how you feel.’ It allows us to feel known by our partner in ways that words can’t convey.”

In Matthew we read the story of the leper Jesus healed. While this interaction was brief, the result was life-changing! In biblical times leprosy was feared and thought highly contagious. People with the disease were driven from their homes and outcast from society. They could not eat meals with their family, freely roam the streets, or even shake hands with someone. It was profound that Jesus stopped and talked to a leper, but it was unthinkable that Jesus risked touching the leper. What better example of healing touch!

While our touch may not have the power to heal awful diseases, it does have the power to brighten someone’s mood, to boost their emotional wellbeing, and to let them know they matter. How comfortable are you with touch? Is there someone in your life that physical touch may be their love language? How can you connect with that person this week?

Matthew 8:2-3

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will, be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

 

Why might Jesus have chosen touch to heal the leper?


How can you show someone they matter through non-sexual touch? List three examples.

 

Describe a situation when you were stressed or tired or sick, and you craved someone’s touch. What form did that touch come in? How did you feel after making contact with another individual?

 

Think about the important relationships in your life – parents, children, spouse, and friends. How can those relationships be enhanced with touch?

 

PRAY IT:

God, thank you for your wonderful example in Matthew that we as human beings crave touch. Help us to put others first this week and recognize their need for touch. Help us to put down our phones, set aside our computers, and interact with one another. Amen.


This post was written by Kaye Althaus. Kaye loves to read and do crafts with friends. She and her husband live in the quiet country and raise chickens.


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The Power of Touch

Do you find yourself frequently stressed? Do you get a lot of colds? There’s good news! Researchers have found something that not only helps to relieve stress, but can also help prevent a cold. Hugs. That’s right, hugs. A 2015 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that “Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds [that’s] usually associated with stress.” How incredible!

Whether it’s our nerves telling us when we’re in pain (which is a great thing and something we take for granted), or the positive effects of a hug, our bodies, were in some ways, designed for touch.

CedarCreek Perrysburg Campus Pastor Tom Martin talked about the love language of physical touch this past weekend. If you’re a guy and you’ve heard of the 5 Love Languages, your first assumption might be that your top love language is physical touch (women, cue eye roll). This assumption, however, is based on misinformation. The love language “physical touch” isn’t simply about sexuality; rather, per Tom’s definition, it is largely about non-sexual physical contact.

What does this have to do with the Bible? So much! When we read the narrative accounts of Jesus’ life, we see that Jesus often used touch as a way to communicate and heal. In one instance, this love language is on perfect display.

In the eighth chapter of Matthew, we have the privilege of reading the story of Jesus healing a leper. The biblical authors used the term leprosy to denote several different skin diseases, so we can’t be sure from what exactly this man suffered. What we do know is that since Matthew identified this man as a leper, he would have been an outcast from his society. All we have to do is look at the law regarding lepers from Leviticus 13. There, we see that once a person has been identified as leprous they are declared unclean. This meant that, according to verse 46, “As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.” While these rules were put in place to protect the rest of society from the spread of a potentially dangerous disease, one can only imagine the dejection – and isolation – a leper must have felt. Lepers were outcasts. For the duration of their affliction, they were untouchables.

Enter Jesus.

After the leper approaches Jesus and asks for healing, Jesus’ first response is …

To touch him!

Before Jesus says anything, he touches the man. We can only speculate about the reasons why Jesus decided to make this his first action, but it seems that Jesus felt this man’s connection with him was more important than his cleanliness. Jesus’ touch was seemingly an integral part to the healing. This man needed Jesus’ healing touch, and Jesus gave him just that.

Not only is Jesus’ touch interesting, but it’s also his adherence to the law spoken of in Leviticus. He tells the man to go to the priest for examination and present the offering required for healed lepers. As Tom pointed out, not only did Jesus probably do this because he knew it was a requirement of the law, but also because he knew this man’s worth. Jesus likely knew that though this man was healed, the people of the town would have known of his leprosy and without the priests saying he was “clean,” he would not have been permitted back into the society.

What can we learn from this story? We can know that Jesus values physical touch. He values it so much that he used it as his method of providing healing to those who desperately needed it (Matthew 8:1-4, 9:29; Jn. 9:6). When Jesus touched people, he showed them he cared, they were connected, and they were committed. When we touch others, be it a high five, a hug, a touch on the shoulder, etc., we tell them we care, that we’re connected, and that we’re committed.

Matthew 8:1-4
1Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. 2Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” 3Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 4Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

Jesus’ willingness to heal this man began with a touch. In what ways have you found healing through the physical comfort of others?

Tom’s “try this” for this week had a few different options:

  1. Spouse: Say good-bye and hello with an embrace and a kiss, hold hands when walking, or cuddle up next to each other when watching TV or a movie. Share a foot, hand, or back rub with your partner.
  2. Children: Give Hello Hugs, hold hands, tickle, wrestle with your boys, do their hair.
  3. Friends: Create a handshake or special physical greeting.
  4. Aging Parent: Sit next to them while visiting, create opportunities to make “Physical Contact” by playing cards or a game, or sharing pictures and memories.

Which step can you take today?

 

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love you’ve given me through your son Jesus. You’ve shown us that you can do wonderful things through a simple touch. Help me to show love to those around me whose love language is touch. Amen.


This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy is the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study. He has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people and for Christian Apologetics. He is married and has a beautiful little girl. You can follow him on twitter @andyrectenwald.


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