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The Importance of Communication

“Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”   ~  Genesis 11:6-7

Tell me what you want! I can’t read your mind!

Have those words ever been hurled at you? I can honestly say in nearly all of my relationships – friend, family, work, community – whenever I have had regular interactions with someone, I’ve told the other person to let me know what they needed or wanted and I would be sure to do what I was able to do. Without fail, that’s how I communicate my interest in, availability, and willingness to work with them for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Without fail, I can tell you the best responders have always been the people I work with. Why? Because there is no expectation of mind-reading.

The people who usually assume I know what they need or want are family and long-term friends. True too, those are the same people I most often act on behalf of before hearing them express their needs. Why? Because there’s knowledge of behaviors, habits, and personality.

When you know certain things about people, you can usually anticipate their needs and desires. However, that is not the same as knowing what they’re thinking. There’s no way of getting around verbally communicating with the people you interact with.

Have you ever considered that God, who knows everything about everything, especially us – He sees us, hears us, reads our heart, knows our desires, knew us before we knew ourselves – even the all knowing God requires us to speak and act? Think about that. We have to ask Him to move in our lives. We have to respond to Him when he speaks to us. We have to do what He tells us to do.

He provides so many instructions in his Word that we know we can’t just sit and think about obeying Him. We know it’s not enough to simply hope for a particular outcome. It does no good to only regret our actions or think loving thoughts. We have to verbalize our sorrow when we’ve wronged someone. We have to speak and show love to the people we care for.

In Genesis 11 we are told the story of the Tower of Babel. This is an amazing story that illustrates the importance of communication. Indeed in verses six and seven, God Himself sums the magnitude of what clear communication can accompish, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

Do you know that when you and another person understand each other, and you are in agreement with God’s word, anything you choose to do together will be successful? The Word of God says nothing will be impossible for you. You need to know that.   

It’s truly frustrating when people don’t speak – when people don’t share their ideas or positions or contribute to a decision-making conversation. When people withhold their voice, they are withholding the possibility of reaching agreement with you. And whatever you’re working on together will be a struggle at the least or a failure at the most.

Imagine, a very long time ago, everyone spoke the same language, used the same words, understood each other and accomplished great things. Unfortunately, because their unity was in defiance of God’s direct instruction to spread out and fill the earth with their children, God created a situation in which the people preferred to get away from people that made no sense to them. The population separated to form families and tribes based on the languages spoken when God confounded them through language.

How’s that for a word? When there is no understanding, there’s separation.

Communication provides opportunity for unity and deeper fellowship within a relationship.

Read the passage for yourself.

At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babyloniaand settled there.

They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.  ~  Genesis 11:1-9

There are some very important lessons in this passage.

(1) God will have His way. You can fall in line and make things easy for yourself or be disobedient and reap consequences that will affect the earth for generations to come. To this day, we have just as much difficulty communicating with the person next door as we do with people on the other side of the world. Obey God and save yourself some energy!

(2)God has given us so much power that anything we imagine, we can do. If you have doubts about your abilities, reread Genesis 11:6. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus tells us, If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers,I am there among them.” Imagine how difficult communicating and understanding must be if we are only required to find one or two others to be in agreement with us and God! That difficulty highlights why it’s so extremely important! 

(3)According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, sun-dried bricks look hard and permanent but they fall apart quickly in the rain or changing weather. “Bricks often appear in [Biblical] contexts where people are constructing their own proud, temporal plans rather than obeying the eternal God.” (Leland Ryken, 1998) In the Babel story, the people were united in disobeying God, building for their own honor rather than God’s glory, and creating from their own “materials” instead of from God’s materials. When we directly oppose God, our best will be as nothing. We need to build on His word, using His stone and mortar and let go of our own bricks and tar (ego and pride).     

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It is finished.

Earlier this year, “it is finished” looped on replay in my mind in the context of the dead relationships in my life. For the last several years, I had been trying to maintain, revitalize, pump up and get things started in various relationships. It took me a while to realize that God was separating me from, not only the unbelievers in my life, but also from the relationships that weren’t bearing good fruit. Once that realization came, it was easy to let go of people who didn’t want to be held.

So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:19-20)

Late last spring, I had a dream that should have been disturbing (taken at face value) but was more of a relief.

I don’t recall the sequence but there was a scene where all types of bugs were seen crawling around a sleeping body when a light was flipped on. There was a scene of a big, dark, empty room penetrated by several beams of light coming through a torn and drooping curtain. Then the most potentially disturbing scene was that of a decomposing body lying in the corner with the head stuck to a mop. Sounds gritty and nasty, I know. You’re probably wondering where the relief came in. After each scene the room was flooded by a bucket of hot, soapy water. The bugs were washed away, the curtain was fixed and pushed back to let more light in and the decomposing body was removed and the area it infected was cleansed. The scenes went on in a rotation with each one slightly different than before. The little bugs were washed away, but later one huge, animal size flying bug unfolded on a counter top. The decomposing body was removed with the mop, but then the mop was needed to clean the floor, so the body had to be approached and disconnected from the mop in order to better clean the floor. Again, each scene ended with a full cleaning of the room and exposure to additional light.

I awoke feeling as if some work had been completed.

Whatever I had been doing that was not bearing fruit, I felt free to withdraw from. Whatever was weighing me down and blocking my light was being removed from my life. My Father was cleansing me. He was washing away all the darkness and ushering me further into His Light.

God requires obedience, faithfulness, respect, loyalty and a continued hope in Him. In return we receive His love, mercy, grace and salvation – actually that’s all on offer before we are placed in the womb. But we have to accept it all in order to benefit from it all. Our obedience is proof of our love of Him – keeping his law, adhering to his commands. Though His nature is love and he gives love unconditionally, we have the option to reject His love. Astounding, really – rejecting love; turning your back and walking away from it. But we have the choice to do that; the “freedom” to do as we please. However, the consequence of our choosing against God, love and life is that He then chooses not to fellowship with us. Our choices either unite us to God or separate us from Him.  He tells us to make ourselves holy for Him because He is holy. He wants fellowship, but there are requirements we have to meet.  

For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

Follow me here: If we model our relationships after the prototype God has given us for our relationship with Him, there are basic things that both parties have to contribute to any relationship (be it friend, family, spouse, employment, etc) for it to be successful. There needs to be an obedience/adherence to and respect for the foundation and expectation laid for the relationship (i.e. boundaries), there needs to be loyalty, faithfulness and a hope for continued growth and improvement. There needs to be a consciousness of and an effort to meet the requirements of the other party in the relationship. When both parties are giving and doing all that (and more according to each individual needs), each will bask in the others’ grace, mercy and covering.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)    

However, when love, loyalty, faithfulness, and respect are lacking from either party (to the other), the relationship becomes stagnant, it becomes a dead weight – a decomposing corpse. Relationships aren’t intended to be one-sided. Yes, God loves you unconditionally, but even He has requirements of you in order for you to reap the benefits of His love.

For those of you not doing your portion of the work in your relationships, wake up before you’re washed away. And for those of you toiling alone, think about breaking ground elsewhere. When the other party in the relationship you’re toiling in doesn’t accept or receive you, and you’ve done everything you know to do, let go and move on. That has been a hard lesson to learn, but I finally got it: Not every situation I contribute to will grow the expected or hoped for fruit. And sometimes the fruit grown from a seed I plant may not be for me to harvest. It may not even be for me to water it. It may just be for me to sow the seed and move on. We will reap what we sow, but there’s no promise to reap where we sow.


Meditation verse: Hebrews 10:19-22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

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Our Nakedness

Every once in a while I meditate on Biblical relationships. Whenever I meditate on Adam and Eve I come away with something new. Last winter I focused on their attempt to hide their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden. My thoughts looped around their nakedness being less a physical exposure than an emotional one.

Meditation Verse: Genesis 3:4-13

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”   The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Their action exposed their doubt over the sufficiency of God’s provision for them. They were acting as if they did not have knowledge already. As if God had not revealed Himself to them. It was the doubt they tried to excuse. “Well, the woman You gave to me gave me the fruit! Honestly, Father, I wouldn’t have eaten it otherwise.” “Yeah, well, I only gave it to him because the serpent in our garden said it would be okay.” With their pointing fingers, they sought to exonerate their greedy desire to obtain more without paying any consequences. They were grabbing for something they already had, because someone else repackaged it and presented it as something out of their reach. Adam and Eve were the agents of their own downfall because they didn’t take personal responsibility for their knowledge or for their actions. In conversation with the serpent they did not assert absolutely that particular tree, in a garden of amazing bounty, was off limits. And when God approached them and asked what they had done, they did not confess their sin.

Before the fall, Adam was proud of and pleased with the helpmate God had provided him with. They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)

Some argue that Adam and Eve knew no shame before the fall because they were innocent. The argument suggests they had no knowledge of good and evil. I think that’s rather simplistic. Adam and Eve were made in the image of their creator. They were connected to their source. They had all the knowledge they needed and access to whatever they wanted.

Adam and Eve were joined as one flesh as man and wife. Their joining created a unity and an emotional transparency that didn’t survive the enemy’s challenge. They became divided after the conflict with the serpent. Eve shared with her husband, and Adam willingly took what his wife offered. There was no remorse or shame in the receiving and eating. That came as an afterthought when God appeared in the garden to question them. At that point they both sought to hide and protect themselves. In this sense, they not only lost their direct connection with God, but the completeness of their union was damaged. Both attempts of covering themselves with leaves and hiding in the trees are examples of division and separation.

The first thing Adam said to God when God called to him was, I heard Your voice… and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. In other words, I was exposed and I couldn’t face you. I didn’t want you to see me – not like this. Adam and Eve didn’t hide simply because they ate the fruit. They hid because of the emotion associated with their action; the shame of having doubted and disobeyed God and they feared judgment. Adam’s fear speaks of his disconnection from his source more clearly than anything, as we are told in 1 John 4:16-18, quite clearly: God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are told explicitly that God did not give us a spirit of fear (timidity), but rather a spirit of power, love and of self-discipline (sound mind). When you know who you are and you are secure in your place, position and relationships (with God and people), reminding yourself of this fact is sufficient to check yourself when doubt creeps in.

Adam and Eve should have presented a united front and protected one another. Instead, they selfishly sought to please and protect themselves. We are told in 1 Peter 4:8, Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. I think, perhaps, that’s where the bulk of their shame came from. Not only were they caught doing something they knew not to do, they compounded their disobedience by not protecting their partner – they did not provide covering for one another. They didn’t defend or stand up for each other. There is no fear in love. Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Adam and Eve started off perfect in love. Their love could have covered their sin. Instead they chose not to take responsibility for their actions and passed blame in fear of punishment. Their choices speak directly to their separation from one another.

Their story is an illustration of a relationship in its perfect state. Two people joined as one flesh, caring and providing for one another. They were emotionally open and available to one another; they were naked together and unashamed. Their story is also an illustration of the destruction a relationship is susceptible to when influenced by outside forces and internal selfishness. They lost sight of one another’s best interests. They sought to shield themselves from the other.

Relationships are still susceptible to all the nuances that caused Adam and Eve to fall.

We are in danger of destroying ourselves and our relationships when we build up defenses and guard against intimacy with our partner. There is danger when we blame our partner or others for our shortcomings and insecurities. When we hide our true selves from view in hopes of escaping judgment and recriminations. There is great danger when we fear our nakedness and our emotional vulnerabilities. More danger in the fear and hiding than simply revealing where we are.

Relationships fail for many reasons – outside interference, lack of trust, selfishness, individualistic attitude being a few reasons that come to mind.  None of that has to be the end of a union. You can overcome anything simply by choosing to cover your spouse with your love.

With Adam and Eve’s relationship, certain characteristics were implicit in their joining and in their nakedness before the fall. Trust is implicit when you expose and open your heart to someone. It’s not something to be manipulated, taken for granted or set aside. Our nakedness is sacred and should be honored as such.

In Proverbs 4:23 we are admonished to guard our hearts above all things. We may be gifted with a spouse, but it is our choice to continue day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute in performing our love for our partner. So, be careful you are not giving away pieces of your heart before you get to your assigned spouse; only your spouse should benefit from your emotional nakedness.

Meditation Verse: Genesis 2:18, 20-25

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.


Awareness of Nakedness

Duality of Man: Strength and Vulnerability

When Truth Destroys

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Separation from the Unequally Yoked

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

“Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the LORD Almighty. ~2Cor 6:14-18 (NKJV)

He’s been at me. Again. Hitting me hard. Knocking me around. Forcing my eyes open. Each revelation is astounding. Mind boggling. Life changing. As always, He’s working His transformative power through you – through the people who choose to interact with me and share discourse. Through that power and obedience another stumbling block has been removed from my life. Thank you.

I’ve never considered myself to have many friends, but those I’ve considered to be friends have made a huge impact on my life in many ways. Those friends have come to me from around the world. I was proud of my international exposure and connections. Now it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I am not meant to have a friend in the world at all.

My Father God has been steadily stripping me bare. Removing friend by friend. Resource by resource. Shelter by shelter. Refuge by refuge. Crutch by crutch. I’ve just been divested of my last worldly friendship and I sit here in awe of his patience and fore-planning.

I’ve had a few conversations with a new friend in Christ (he prefers to go unnamed). He put some hard-hitting questions, comments and observations before me. After he read Trains, Planes and Automobiles he emailed the following: “What I want to talk about is your friend, aka spiritual sister. She treated you in a way that I read as very disrespectful. Just as in My God and Me you place (so I thought) a lot of emphasis about relationships and events in the lives of people who don’t appear to acknowledge Christ. We are of Christ and saved by his grave, Christ is foolishness to the world, a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. Our friendships with people in the world will always be strained because Christ divides because the world is anti-Christ.”

Since reading that email, I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of his words and the verse they brought to mind: Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. (2 Cor 6:14).

I will tell you truthfully, I never thought of any of my friends as unbelievers. They all have a faith. They all believe in God. None of them smoke or drink. They aren’t partiers. They’re hard-working and usually honest. We’ve shared confidences, pains, struggles, dreams, ideas, and hopes. I’ve stood up at weddings and held babies. I’ve traveled just to share a hug and some time. They’ve come through for me when the jobs were non-existent and family was scarce – offering space in their homes, food at their tables and money to get me through the night. And I clung to them like lifelines.

And that’s where I was wrong: clinging to people as my lifeline. I can appreciate that my God is jealous of any distractions stealing the glory and attention due Him. With that appreciation, I can appreciate His removal of all such distractions from my life.

But how great is our God that He blesses His children even through the unrighteous!

I admit to having several defensive comments and explanations for my new Friend in Christ in regard to the relationships I’ve written about. I explained my thinking, my feelings, my habit of holding on until I’m let go, etc. However, my defense didn’t sound substantive even to me. And I kept coming back to this one phrase within his comment: people who don’t appear to acknowledge Christ.

This one stumped me. His observation from my writing was that even my Christian and Catholic friends didn’t appear to acknowledge Christ. That got me to thinking about my broken friendships and how they were living. Again, nothing wild or outrageous, however the one glaring truth was: they were not living Christ-centered lives.

As Jesus started to leave, a man ran to him and fell on his knees before Jesus. The man asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to have life forever?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commands: ‘You must not murder anyone. You must not be guilty of adultery. You must not steal. You must not tell lies about your neighbor. You must not cheat. Honor your father and mother.’ “

The man said, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these things since I was a boy.”

Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, “There is one more thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” ~ Mark 10:17-21 (NCV)