Loving Others

What You Can’t Take Back — Guest Post by Tara Johnson

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Sometimes the very place God created to bring wholeness causes deep, long-lasting pain. As our guest today reminds us, what we say, whether casually or intentionally, can leave lasting damage. Scripture says you and I are the church, and the church is to be a place of love and healing, where all are invited in. Are our actions and those things we say consistent with this holy mission? Click To Tweet

What You Can’t Take Back

By Tara Johnson

I watched the teenage girl in the pew, her arms hugging her torso, cheeks flushed red as she stared at the floor.

The rest of the congregation was singing some worship song about the peace found in God’s presence but not her. She looked trapped, blue-eyed gaze darting from side to side.

My heart ached as I studied her. She’d told me of her crippling anxiety. Facing each morning with grit was a victory. Just when she’d begun to find a measure of security in the solace of church, a member with an acid tongue accused her of things that were not only unkind, but untrue.

The result were panic attacks every time she stepped foot in church.

Sometimes our Goliaths sit within our pews.

The teenager turned towards me, tears glossing her eyes.

“I’m sorry. I don’t think I can do this. It’s too hard.”

She darted from the sanctuary and never returned.

Words have power. Quicker than a snap of the fingers, they can build up a life, or crush it into rubble. Click To TweetScripture says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV) This is not just true of the words we speak, but of those we text, type and whisper to others. Everything we communicate yields two results: building others up or tearing them down.

The apostle James had much to say about our tongues. We can claim we love Jesus, love people, do all the good, humanitarian type things the world applauds, and rack up accolades for our holiness, but if we have no control over our mouths, we haven’t learned a thing. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26, ESV)

Not only is it what we say, but the tone and attitude behind what we say. Negativity and light cannot coexist. Neither can resentment and encouragement. When we say one thing but feel another, we’re nothing more than hypocrites … play-acting our way through our Christian walk.

Scripture says, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3: 9,10, ESV)

In our family, we have a simple 3 Step Rule of Speaking.

  1. Is it true?

Let face it … lots of us think we’re right and everybody else is wrong. Maybe sometimes we are. Maybe we aren’t. Truth must always be backed up with Scripture. Otherwise it’s just opinion, and opinion is usually not worth fighting about. Click To Tweet

  1. Is it kind?

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, so if our words are flung carelessly and hurtfully, we are not being led by God to speak. It’s our sinful self lashing out. It’s that simple. Be kind or hold your tongue.

  1. Am I speaking from love?

Love should be the motivating factor for all things. If I’m needing to confront someone, I’d better be sure my motive is love and not buried resentment, anger, hostility or “I’ll-show-you” attitude. Love builds up. Love seeks the best for others. It isn’t angry. It’s patient. Any other motivation will lead to a mess. Click To Tweet

An old proverb describes the power of the tongue quite well.

There once lived a woman who gossiped about another lady in her village. Over time, she discovered she’d been wrong about the woman and felt terrible for the awful things she’d said. She visited the village’s wise man and asked how she could take back all the wrong she’d done. He told her to go home, kill her chickens, pluck their feathers, and put them into a bag. On the way back to see the wise man, she was to scatter all the feathers along the road.

The lady obeyed. When she returned to the wise man, he told her, “Go back and pick up all the feathers you have scattered.” The woman was astonished at such a command.

“But, sir, by now the wind has carried the feathers through out the village and beyond.”

“And so it is with your careless words. They are like the feathers scattered in the wind. You cannot retrieve them.”

Our words carry eternal consequences. Life or death. Blessings or curses. When we choose love, we choose wisely. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about this! What resonated with you most when you read Tara’s post? Have you experienced pain similar to the girl she encountered? If so, how does your experience impact your actions today? What is one way you can show others they’re loved and welcomed?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free ecopy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE. 

Get to know Tara!

Tara Johnson is an author and speaker, and loves to write stories that help people break free from the lies they believe about themselves.

Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, as well as numerous other accolades. In addition to be published in a variety of digital and print magazines, she has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio, Enduring Word radio, television and podcasts. She is a history nerd, especially the Civil War, adores comedy, and will happily play basketball with anyone who asks. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas.

Connect with her on her Website, on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.

Check out her novel, Engraved on the Heart!

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines―until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and Cover Image for Tara Johnson's Engraved on the Heartturns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

Buy it HERE!

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The Power of Promise

Image of women with sunrise behind her and text pulled from postOur word is only as good as our follow through, but as our guest today points out, despite our best intentions, you and I will fall short eventually. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. To the contrary, only serve to reveal a hope beyond us and every disappointment we face or create.

The Power of a Promise

By Tara Johnson

“I would never hurt you.”

“I promise I’ll clean my room, Mom.”

“I’ll stay in touch.”

“The check is in the mail.”

“My diet starts tomorrow.”

“I’ll pray for you.”

“I won’t do it again.”

I’ve heard hundreds of promises. I’ve made hundreds more. I’m a mom who likes to believe my word is my bond, but in truth, I’ve failed my children. Probably many times over.

Part of the problem with making promises is we guarantee things we have no control over. I may promise to arrive at a certain time, but I have no way to know about the wreck on the interstate that will back up traffic and inevitably delay me. I may fully intend to return a phone call, but a sick child throws a kink in the daily’s schedule. I guarantee a day of outside fun for my children until a thunderstorm rolls in.

Control is an illusion. We can’t promise what we don’t have.

Many of us are seek security, yearn for one steady place amid the chaos. We put our hopes in people that will ultimately let us down because they’re human, like us. On the flip side, we’re so desperate to create stability for others that we guarantee things we can’t possibly fulfill, despite our desires.

As many of us know, a broken promise can equal a broken heart.

The One who keeps the universe spinning is the only one able to make and fulfill all His promises. When God makes a vow, it’s asTwo friends sitting beneath a starry sky with text of quote pulled from post good as done. “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (Proverbs 30:5, ESV).

The power of a promise is in the character of the promise giver. To put it another way, guarantees are only as strong as the person who gives them.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27, ESV).

“I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from My lips” (Psalm 89:34, ESV)

Some of God’s promises are conditional and some are not.

Adding them all up, the closest count is 3,573 vows God has made to His children. These promises sit on the unshakeable foundation of Who He is, not who we are. Isn’t that good news?

I don’t second guess God nearly as much as I did when I was younger. Why? Because he’s proven himself over and over again. When I read His Word, I know the vow is already completed.

My security rests in Him.

Let’s talk about this! Is there a particular promise God’s made that brings you comfort? How does knowing God’s promises rest on His faithfulness not ours give you peace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and make sure to visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for inspirational messages and images.

Get to know Tara!

Tara Johnson's author photoTara Johnson is an author, speaker and singer from Alexander, AR. A passionate lover of stories, she loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleasing preacher’s kid.

Tara has articles published in Plain Truth Magazine and Live It Loud Magazine and has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio and Enduring Word radio. Tara is a member of ACFW and is represented by Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas.

Visit her on her website, Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.

cover image for Engraved on the HeartCheck out her debut release, Engraved on the Heart:

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines-until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fianci, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

Buy link it HERE!