Use your inside voice: 5 Thoughts on Your Marital Tone

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18

“Use your inside voice” has been a parenting tactic for years. For some parents, it’s an attempt at telling a child to “quiet down” but in a nicer way. Randomly, I hear parents tell this to their kids in the grocery store and, every once in a while, I hear a kid say back, “this is my inside voice.”  For other parents, there is a greater lesson they are trying to teach: tone stewardship.

Let me explain.

In most of the pastoral counseling I do, I can trace most issues back to communication. It’s why I talk constantly about the 3 “Ts” of communication (time, tone, and technique). But of the three, tone seems like one that is the “game-changer.”

I’ve heard it said that “10% of conflicts is due to difference in opinion, and 90% is due to wrong tone of voice.” (Na Mariz) Your tone can create urgency or foster peace. It can bring passion or it can communicate displeasure. A forceful tone can speak of a lack of sensitivity just as much as sarcastic tone can miscommunicate indifference. Just a change in the fluctuation of your voice can make or break what needs to be said. What if, what you are trying to say, is getting lost in your tone?

What if the tone you’ve chosen isn’t as effective as you think it is? What if your tone is destroying everything your trying to communicate? So I thought I’d give you some “tone” thoughts.

You possess more than one tone.
It almost sounds overly simple. Yet I see so many marriages that do not adjust or manage their tone with each other. I hear statements like, “This is who I am” or “This is how my family talks to each other.” You you may be correct from one point of view, those statements are either ignorance of what your tones are doing to your spouse or you are giving yourself permission to not work personally on something. Tones can make or break a symphony. Your tone can add to the harmony of good communication or completely disrupt it.

Be a better listener. 
Many issues I come across are misguided reactions to misunderstood information. Listening isn’t waiting for your turn to talk. It’s engaging in someone’s context (their situation) and request (what are they really asking for). I often wonder if we seek to understand, rather than be understood, we’d have a better tone to our communication.  Your tone signifies what you are really listening to. For example, your spouse may be trying to tell you how hurt they are. If you don’t listen, your tone can be defensive over assuming you are the cause to the hurt. Where you’re busy defending yourself, you spouse may have needed a softer tone of understanding than a reactionary tone of defensiveness.

Learn to hear what people hear. 
I don’t like what I sound like. It’s one of the reasons why I struggle listening to my sermons the next day for evaluation. I’ll sit back and say, “Is that what I really sound like?” What you may hear coming out of your mouth may not be what people hear. Ever had a “fight within a fight”? This is one of those moments. You’re fighting over something, then a tone comes in, and now you’re fighting over the tone you used that your spouse took the “wrong way.”  If the people in your life are hearing what you are not hearing, it’s time to step back and realize: If I am the common denominator, then I may have a common problem. Self evaluation is more than the identification of issues. It’s a an understanding that you have more to grow in.

Stop giving yourself permission to be offensive. 
I grow weary of hearing the excuse “If people get offended by the truth, well, that’s their fault.” I partially agree with the statement. As a preacher, I have no problem confronting people with God’s Word but I don’t have to be a jerk about it. Being “truthful” has become the excuse to blast people all in the name of Jesus. Don’t leave a wake of mess behind you. Your mouth and it’s tone are gifts for you bless not curse; a vessel to be managed not to be enslaved by.

Keep conversations that demand tone offline.
I tire of messages from people who’ve decided to engage in conversations online that have blown up because it was a dialogue that demanded tone. For example, you type a message of apology to help convey your heartfelt request for forgiveness but also want to help the person understand why you reacted in the way they did. The person on the other side of the message reads: “I’m sorry. But my reaction was your fault but I’m going to be the bigger person and apologize first.” I’ve learned that I can emoji the crap out of a message in an attempt to develop some “tone,” but it does not replace the inflection of a voice and the gentleness of a humble heart that can only be conveyed in an audible tone.

I go back to my opening scripture,

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18

How often are we to point the finger requesting that your spouse step up first? How often to we demand him/her to change before we’ll offer any more change? This simple scripture points to our hearts and says, “Stop blaming others for not being the source of peace. Go after peace as if it all depends upon you.”

Your tone is your responsibility. And your tone can make or break your communication.

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 14

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Psalm 119:11

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

2 Minute Devo Series: Book of Matthew Day 16

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Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we’re going through the Book of Matthew. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Matthew 15

English Standard Version (ESV)

Traditions and Commandments

15 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees wereoffended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts,murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.[e]

Jesus Heals Many

29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, andhaving given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

Thoughts for @kalamazoofirst to keep in mind for Easter Sunday!

The Last Word Slide

One thing I love about Passion Week is the blogs and post from other pastors.  I’ve been so inspired by so many of them pumped about what’s taking place this weekend!  I wanted to challenge our Kfirst peeps to be bold during this Easter season.

  1. Remember, 82% of people will say “yes” to being invited to church during Easter week.  If you’re into stats…that’s a great return.  If you’re not into stats…then just invite someone out!
  2. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Stop saying “NO” when that someone who keeps popping into your head. That’s the Holy Spirit working in your life.  You never know what is going on in their life and right now be the BEST time to invite them for Sunday’s service.
  3. People like food. Invite them to breakfast at Kfirst before the service.  Besides, who doesn’t like a free meal that is AMAZING!?! (props to Traci and her team)
  4. Spend time in seeking God in prayer asking who you need to specifically reach out to and invite to Sunday at Kfirst.
  5. Spend time in prayer over the services this weekend.  (Good Friday at 12pm and Easter at 10am) Pray that Kfirst would make it simple for people to find and follow Jesus.
  6. Don’t feel the pressure to have to be a theological expert.  In your mind, you probably have imagined people asking you a whole bunch of hypothetical questions that you may/may not know the answers to. You just have to know that Jesus saves and that’s what we’re going to talk about at Kfirst this weekend.
  7. Don’t just be a prayer warrior without pursuing people.  Jesus said, “come and see.” YES…we should pray for people far from God, but we should also be willing to pursue them like Jesus pursued us.
  8. Take some time this week to read John 1:43-51 and see that “Found People Find People” really is true.
  9. Get excited about church! If people can get excited about the Instagram picture of their cat, then WE can get excited about people finding and following Jesus.
  10. Realize that fear you feel about inviting someone doesn’t come from the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7)! If HE has placed someone on your heart to invite then He has gone before you and prepared them for the invite as well.

Can’t wait to see you at Kfirst!

Props to Perry for inspiring this blog!

2 Minute Devo: “Get it in you” Hebrews 4:1-13

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Hebrews 4:1-13:

Hebrews 4:1-13

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.[a] For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all arenaked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

2 Minute Devo: “Defuse the Bomb” Proverbs 15:1

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August is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Watch Your Mouth”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Proverbs 15:1:

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

“Are you talking nautical to me?”

Is anyone else a fan of Sig Hanson?  Any Discovery Channel geeks out there?

If you’ve never partaken in this amazing show, “Deadliest Catch” is a documentary series chronicling the real-life high-sea adventures of the Alaskan crab fishermen. It is professed to be the most deadly profession in the world (and for good reason). Sig Hanson is by far my favorite captain to watch on the show.  He commands the Northwestern as one of the more successful crab fisherman.  I’ll admit, his crew is one of the more entertaining crews to watch.

Watching the show pulls me into their world of fishing the Bering Sea. Anne has heard me more than once proudly proclaim that could do that job.   I see myself working for 36 hours straight pulling crab pots.  The reality, for the first few days, I’d be clutching the railing throwing up from sea sickness. One episode in particular, stands out to me. A  “greenhorn” or the newest crewman on a fishing vessel, has a freak-out moment and is ready to jump ship.  The deep, the waves, the intensity of the moment has caused this man to call it quits. He is so consumed with fear that has forgone rational thought.  The boat is forced to abandon its journey to take this greenhorn back to shore.  His final scene is him shamefully leaving the boat and walking down the dock in his Lions jersey (kinda indicative of most Lions seasons).  We all watch and think we’d handle it much better.  How scary can it be?

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19

The words “To pay attention” is a very cool Greek word (prosecho). It literally means, “to have direction toward something”. It was a nautical term used to describe steering a ship on course. In the days when all ships were sailing ships, “prosecho was a very important concept. In the open water, there are no street signs.  There are no exits to pull off to get directions.  If you didn’t know how to set a course, you could easily get lost at sea.

Who is writing this? Simon Peter

What was his “trade” before following Christ? Fisherman. (Maybe he’s the Sig Hanson of Biblical times)

Just like KFirst isn’t surprised when I use a football metaphor, we shouldn’t be alarmed that Peter is reaching back to his roots to help us understand what the Lord is speaking.  He is telling us the something about steering our course in life: Pay attention to the wind and the heavens if you want to stay on course.

God has equipped us with a word from heaven and the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to guide us. But we have to pay attention. I’ll give you a TRUTH to ponder: Reaching your destination won’t happen if you let the currents take you wherever they happen to go.

Before the age of nautical technology, sailing far beyond the site of the shore was a not easy.  It was a scary thing. At one time, there were people who believed the world was flat and if you sailed too far you’d fall off the edge of the earth. Unless you had the proper training and/or you had a compass, without the shore to guide you, it was pretty hard to know which way to go. This is the reason why many trips were done at night. The stars were the guides. Lamps and city lights shining from the shore were easier to see.

This writer…this fishermen knew how important it was to have an illuminated marker when he found himself out on dark waters.  Dark waters have so much potential of driving fear and anxiety because three things:

  1. Their depth.  (they’re dark for a reason)
  2. Their reputation.  Beneath the surface lies dangerous creatures as well as the wreckage of former vessels who did not make it.
  3. No shelter.  Out in the deep. You cannot hide. You have to face whatever comes your way

If there is anyone understood what it was like to go through “deep waters” or dark fearful times, Peter is a prime example. Matthew 8:23-17 is the story of the disciples and Jesus sailing.  Most of us have read the story.  We remember the ending.  What we, many times forget: some of the men freaking out are experienced fishermen. Their reaction speaks of the severity of the storm. It shows the urgency of the moment.  They needed Jesus to stand up in the storm speak to the darkness. More than storms on the sea, Peter knew what it was like to go through dark times. Whether it was his denial of Christ or winding up in jail, he was experienced in going through moments where he needed help.  He needed direction. Simon Peter needed something to guide him.

And now this fisherman tells us that our lives in Christ need the same sort of markers that a ship’s captain would need. Peter knew the sea. He knew its dangers and its deceptions. But he was confident in spite of the turmoil of life because he paid close attention to the beacon of the Word. In the darkest part of our lives, a little light can be seen from a great distance. Be watchful for the light and it will direct your course.

When we start to feel surrounded by dark waters, there is a lamp shining in the darkness. It is the Word of God, the same word that Psalm 119 describes as “a lamp unto my feet“. NOTE:  the Word won’t make any difference to us unless we pay close attention to it.

I’ll end with this: Admit the depth of your need, celebrate the lavish power of grace, and get up and follow by faith.

Thanks for letting me ramble…