The Most Astonishing Witnessing Tools in History


This is one of those posts that has been brewing for some time. The one I haven’t, but yet have, wanted to write. So here goes.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

Permission to Judge

In his book The Jesus Style, author Gayle Erwin pointed out an undeniable fact about this verse: Jesus is giving everyone permission to judge us by our actions.

Am I suggesting that God doesn’t judge the heart? No, not at all. I’m merely pointing out that Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” so that I can talk about Facebook and all the other Social Networking tools.

Networks and Language

Several years ago while doing a Bible study I came across this quote in the introduction of a Commentary on the Book of John:

“Some suggest world conditions were ripe for the spread of the gospel. The Romans had ushered in an era of relative peace through law and order. Their network of roads made travel more convenient. Widespread use of the Greek Language simplified communication. At the same time, the proliferation of empty religions among many people created a spiritual hunger for something genuine.”
– Holman New Testament Commentary of John, Kenneth O. Gangel

Sounds like today:

  • The United States and her allies have ushered in an era of relative peace.
  • Networks of travel – roads, rails and flight paths – have made global travel beyond convenient and accessable
  • Online networks have literally connected us all. “3rd World Nations” are coming online at unbelievable rates because of mobile phones (many of which are Smart Phones)
  • English is the most common language online
  • And do I need to highlight the proliferation of empty religions and spiritual hunger?

Put this all together and we get the fact that conditions are ripe and you and I have access to the most astonishing witnessing tools in human History.

The New City Gate

And as a brilliant friend recently said, if you think these tools aren’t changing people’s minds, you are naive.

“Social media doesn’t just influence thinking. These days it OWNS how people think. Social media is the new water cooler, the new town hall. Ask anyone from Egypt if Facebook caused any ripples in their government in the last decade. People are thinking through issues and reasoning together in this forum. When you make the discussion meaningful, your voice makes a difference.” – Teri Modisette Unthank

Permission to Judge 2.0

So what is our witness when we:

  • Display anything but love to a person who posts and the people about which they are posting?
  • Defend our “right” to post untruths because “well, that’s what people like that would say!”?
  • Post anything that labels an entire group of people as anything except loved by God?
  • Accuse anyone of anything without solid, solid, SOLID facts?
  • Insult a friend’s intelligence by naming all the contradictory Scripture verse(s) that they’ve OBVIOUSLY suddenly forgotten?
  • Label everyone in a group of people mentioned in a post as damned to hell because well, they are sinners?
  • Use a tone of “voice” and language that we would NEVER use speaking face-to-face?
  • See ourselves as Scripture or fact police?
  • “Discipline a friend in love” in public instead of a private message or God forbid, in person?
  • Use these “astonishing witnessing tools” for anything less than showing the love you were first shown?

The next time you feel led to post or comment, think about the fact that the world is watching just as Jesus said they should.

Stay In the Ring, But Talk


As some of you might know, I work part-time as a Dale Carnegie Facilitator. I came across a quote in one of the courses I teach that I believe is worth sharing here. But first I’ll remind you of this one.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

Even In Families

Let’s first recognize that the “in this world” part of “you will have trouble” includes your family.

No matter how cool and fun and God loving and wonderful and perfect they are, there will be times of trouble. How do I know? Well, besides the quote from Jesus, I know that no two people agree on everything all the time. Which means they therefore disagree. Another word for disagreement is conflict.

Devolving Into Arguments

So here’s the quote from the course:

“Successful leaders manage conflict; they don’t shy away from it or suppress it but see it as an engine of creativity and innovation. Some of the most creative ideas come out of people in conflict remaining in conversation with one another rather than flying into their own corners or staking out entrenched positions.” — Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky

Let’s admit it, in our marriages and families we often shy away from or suppress conflict, or fly into our own corners and stake out entrenched positions, right? And the results? Well:

  • Things never get better because the “hard subjects” are never discussed
  • Tension exists right below the surface and fights occur over things that don’t really matter
  • Discussions always end in fights because everyone involved is defensive

Actually, all of these tactics devolve into arguments – which is exactly the thing we’re trying to avoid. And as Dale Carnegie himself said, “arguments are 90% emotion and 10% nonsense!”

Behind all the emotion and nonsense though, is something that is good: passion.

Remaining in Conversation

Think about it. Passion is the reason people argue and defend and speak up to make their point. This is a good thing. Passion means a person cares.

But let’s also admit that passion blinds us to thoughts outside of our own. It also blinds us to our true goal. So a “discussion” that is really about raising healthy kids turns into a fight about my way vs. yours.

The very passion that is a positive – we both want healthy kids – gets hidden behind defensiveness and “staked out positions”.

Which is why I love this quote. It reminds us, no, TELLS us, to remain in conversation. When we do that well, two things can happen: discovery of what’s really being discussed and a dialogue about multiple “creative ideas” to get there.

How to remain in conversation:

  • Determine exactly what it is that you’re discussing (this is more than half the battle)
  • Avoid the statement, “yeah, but” (it’s a sure sign of entrenched positions)
  • Determine and agree on the end goal (e.g.: healthy kids)
  • Ask, “how can we?” and “what if we could?” and similar, open-ended, POSITIVE questions – also known as “green light thinking”
  • Decide, once and for all, that you are on the same side


“The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.”
– Proverbs 18:17

The key to managing conflicts is to remain in conversation – together.

We Love. God Wins


My heart is heavy. And though I am tempted to write a long, long post, I will keep my thoughts as short as possible. I’ll start with a quote that says what’s on my heart better than I could ever express:

“Our task is not to protest the world into a certain moral conformity, but to attract the world to the saving beauty of Christ.” – Brian Zahnd

Light of the World

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14

I’ll be blunt: we CANNOT keep bashing other people in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is un-Biblical, wrong, divisive and frankly, useless.

Allow me to use an analogy:

  • If a match is lit in a pitch black building, every eye in the place will notice it and be attracted to it. Even if the building holds 50,000 people.
  • Conversely, if an “anti-match” is lit (there is no such thing btw, which also proves my point) in a brightly lit arena, not one eye will even notice.

We cannot win by being darkness. It is light that changes things – literally, figuratively and Spiritually.

Prince of Peace

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

Notice that He is the Prince of Peace and that He “brought us peace” by His obedience. Peace is the key.

The world is literally dying in their darkness. They need our lit match that shines the light of peace and love and joy and confidence.

  • A peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7)
  • A perfect love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18)
  • An unshakable joy – and remember, Jesus was obedient “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:12)
  • A confidence in the King of the Universe and His sovereignty over everything by peace (Isaiah 46:10 and many, many others)

If we will BE that light (“be my witnesses” – Acts 1:8) by loving as He loved, God wins.

Which side do you want to be on?

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How Do We Sound?


The words we speak are important. Our words have the power to uplift others or discourage them. Thoughtless words spoken in haste cannot be erased.

How Do We Sound To Our Loved Ones?

In families, we sometimes fall into bad habits of not listening to each other and thinking we can say things to our spouses, siblings or even children because…well…they’re family. But they are the ones we most need to encourage and not tear down.

All too often, in the rush to have ourselves heard, we speak first and think next—and that usually comes with unfortunate results.

James 1:19 tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Translation: If we slow down enough to actually hear what the other is saying then we’ll have a chance to think about what is being said. We can take it to heart, and then carefully and wisely answer, which keeps you from blowing your top too quickly.

And if you’ve blown it? Humbly and quickly apologize.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” — Proverbs 12:18

Slow To Speak

Measure your words carefully. Be mindful to use words of kindness and praise, not words that hurt or say things in anger.

“For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips form speaking deceit.” – 1 Peter 3:10

You have the power to heal others or to injure them, to lift them up or hold them back.

Famous commentator Warren Wiersbe said, “Fill the heart with the love of Christ so that only truth and purity can come out of the mouth.” The only way to do that is to stay in the Word of God. Learn from it and let it transform your life!

Study the Word

There are two ways to be involved with the Word!

  • Listen: Jill is recording her Living Through Testing Times Bible Study lectures each week. You can listen by visiting here or through iTunes (Falling In Love With God’s Word with Jill Grossman). This week’s podcast, Lesson 5, is about how to speak and encourage well.
  • Join: On Monday, November 30th, you can join the Bible Study itself at Springhouse Worship and Arts Center. We’ll be finished up with James and beginning a study of the book of Job so it’ll be the perfect opportunity to join us. We’ll also continue into the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians over the Winter.

These are terrific, easy ways to study the most valuable book ever written. Please consider joining us and contact Jill at 615-476-6698 or for more information.

photo credit: Louder than the rain via photopin (license)

But Are We Connecting? Part 3


In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, Jill and I wrote about connected isolation and having too many “friends”. This week we’ll get to the point we’ve been after all along, relationship.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:” — Romans 12:4-6

What We’re NOT Against

As I hope you’ve guessed, we’re not against technology. Jill and I are not only connected like the rest of you but we’re excited about the times in which we live. For the first time in history, most human beings are literally connected. Anyone reading this blog can have interactive communications with almost everyone else on the planet!

Nor are we against anyone having many, many friends…er, acquaintances. Again, it is an amazing day and time in which we live!

What we are FOR is encouraging you to recognize the difference between width and depth when it comes to relationships.

Wide and Deep

We were created for relationships and we need to have all kinds. Let me explain:

  • We need to go wide: We all need many, many people in our lives. Just like we interact with bankers, mechanics and shop owners for different reasons, we interact with various people in our lives because of a variety of needs and wants.
  • We need to go deep: We must remember, however, that we also need a particular set of people in our lives to meet our deepest needs.

So what are we to do?

Live Intentionally

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

Our Pastor, Ronnie Meek, delivered a message about living well several years ago. In it, he suggested the following four statements for guidance:

  1. Spend time with loved ones
  2. Live your purpose
  3. Keep customs
  4. Spend time with the Father

These posts are about encouraging you to intentionally do 1, 3 and 4 (and of course we’re all for living your purpose, too!).

Feeding our relational needs with the Father and others will not happen by itself. We must intentionally plan to connect, reach out to connect, and then connect.

As Jill said in Part 1, “We need to re-learn to slow down our lives for one another. We’re starving for this and we don’t even know it. Take time, make time this week to slow down and re-connect with someone and see how fulfilling this will be for you.

“Trust me, it’s worth it!”

And she’s right.

But Are We Connecting? Part 2


As a follow-up to Jill’s Part 1 post about living in isolation in this hyper-connected world, I’m going to talk about my 1,620 Facebook friends. Yeah I know, crazy right?

What Do You Think?

It’s likely that you’re thinking one of two things about my 1,620 friends:

  1. “I wish I had 1,620 friends!”
  2. “That’s crazy, NO one can have 1,620 friends!”

What I Think

Here’s what I think about what you’re likely thinking:

  1. You don’t really wish you had 1,620 friends and I’ll tell you a why in the next section.
  2. You’re right to think that NO one can have 1,620 friends and I’ll tell you why in the next section.

This Is The Next Section

Let me start by clarifying: I do not have 1,620 friends: I have 1,620 connections that Facebook calls “friends”.

  • Some of these connections are family.
  • Some are people I know well.
  • Some are people I sort of know.
  • Some are people with whom I share interest(s).
  • Some are “friends” of other “friends” and so on and so on and so on.
  • Everyone of them is a “friend” because the technology supporting Facebook allows me one choice: to friend or not.

This is important to know because I don’t want you to be concerned that my calendar is filled with dinners, lunches and appointments with 1,620 people. It is not.

Don’t be worried about all your “friends” either. Even though the average adult Facebook user has 338 friends, their calendar isn’t any more full than mine. Or yours.

Which is my second point: you don’t really wish you had even 338 friends. Can you imagine the stress of that many friends! Ugh!

The Real World

One of the many things my brilliant wife has told our children over the years is that they will be extremely blessed if they have 3 to 5 close friends over their lifetime.

She then carefully explains the difference between close friends, friends and acquaintances.

“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” — Proverbs 18:24

“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” — Proverbs 17:17

The Hebrew word translated in both these passages means (in addition to blood brother): each to the other (reciprocal relationship).

As Jill explains, close friends are those you can call in the adversity of 3:00 AM and they will come over. They are the friends you would go to at 3:00 AM. This will always be only a handful of people.

In addition to these close friends, you’ll have people with whom you will spend time. These are the people that recharge, encourage, fill and stretch you. The kind of people that you want to meet at 3:00 in the afternoon.

All the other people are acquaintances (associates, school mates, peers, etc.).

Next week in Part 3, we’ll discuss what this means in terms of living life well. Until then, we’ll leave you with the fact that Jesus calls us friend:

“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” — John 15:15

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