Before I get started on our topic of the day, I wanted to take a moment and invite you to listen to my recent radio guest appearance. This past Saturday, February 20 to be exact, I had the privilege of discussing Princess Warriors for Christ on the radio program: Let's Talk with Stacy and Hutch, on WORD FM 101.5 Pittsburgh -- a long way from Oregon. They were three hours ahead, so sleepy-head-me had to be up and kicking at 6:00 AM my time to take the call from the studio producer. Ugh! Thankfully, with God all things truly are possible. Me up early on a Saturday is indeed a major miracle.
To listen, go directly to the Let's Talk Radio Show's previously recorded messages, that will of course include the Princess Warrior segment, Click here: http://www.northway.org/secondary/care/stacyandhutch/stacyandhutch.aspx
When you arrive on the page, you will see the blurb for the radio show. Below that are the dates and topics. Just added, at the top of the list, are the links for the Princess Warrior show. It is not yet titled, but the date is clearly marked. And, off to the right side, you will see a column that says -- LISTEN -- my portion of the show is Part B.
If you click the link you will hear our Princess Warrior Discussion. (please note that the hosts talk briefly following a commercial break before I'm actually on the air) And if you have time, I highly recommend listening to the program (there are several parts with different guests) in its entirety, and then, when time allows, check out their other weekly topics. Great Themes! They deal with real life "stuff" for those of us who are fighting to reign real. Just what we need! Amen!?
MOVING ON ...
On a much different note (a terribly sad one) is the current major headline about a Killer Whale named Tillicum (meaning friend) who pulled his longtime trainer and human friend into his tank at Sea World, killing her in the process.
Now this isn't a blog entry to discuss how we feel about animals in captivity. There are plenty out there for that. I'm actually using this tragic story to segway into another tragedy that can be deadly in its own unique way. Though not likely to kill your physical being, the issue we're exploring can certainly play a significant roll in killing your trust, your relationships, and your faith in others, even God.
I want to believe that Tillicum didn't intend to kill his trainer of ten years when he pulled her into the water. Although, I can't possibly know what goes on in the head of anyone or anything. Only God knows that. Sadly, though, whatever the reason, lives were forever altered. Not only was the woman's family, friends, and coworkers impacted by this horrific event, but also the men, women, and children in the stands were deeply traumatized by what they witnessed. Surely, their lives will be changed forever after seeing such tragedy unfold before them. It was definitely not what they expected. Dawn, his trainer, most certainly didn't expect it as she stroked and played with the familiar animal.
When I read this story, I started thinking about an issue that has caused problems for many women -- both believer and non-believer alike. No one is immune. Only by the grace of God can we rise above this problem. So, what am I talking about? Maybe some of you have already figured it out. The picture above gives a clue. It shows two princesses on either side of a road, a road that leads to one castle. Two princesses, one castle. Hum? Are they a team? Sisters? Maybe friends? For our purposes today, I'm going to say friends. They are both daughters of the King and are traveling the same narrow road to reach their future heavenly home.
What happens when one princess turns on the other? It may not be obvious at first, maybe they've ended up on opposite sides of the road because there is a division between them. Maybe the "G" word got in the way.
Ladies, there is a "G" word -- GOSSIP -- that can reap havoc on our relationships. It is especially painful when the back biting takes place between two friends. When we take our words, and use them like a sword to stab our sisters where it hurts most -- in the back and through the heart, we not only harm ourselves and our friend, we can end up traumatizing those around us.
Gossip, lies, backstabbing all seem to grow. The impact is felt like the aftershocks of an earthquake. People take sides, and battle lines are drawn. Instead of fighting together against our common enemy, we end up fighting amongst ourselves.
The devil just stands back and cheers. He doesn't have to lift a finger. We're the ones raising weapons to wound other warriors.
As Christians, we can even use the Bible, God's truth, as a tool of destruction.
I have a feeling you know what I mean. For example, Julie confessed to her good friend, Jonie, that she has been yelling at her children. She admits to letting the sun go down on her anger, a lot. She requests prayer from Jonie and shares about her struggles in confidence. Jonie, who has struggled with similar problems, suddenly feels a little better about herself as she has improved in this area. For some reason, she is compelled to tell another friend about Julie's confession. Jonie reasons that she is gathering prayer support and really needs advice on how to best support Julie. Get the picture. So the cycle continues. Pretty soon, Julie uncovers the knife in her back, which is now piercing her heart. She becomes disillusioned with her Christian friends, who are all discussing her issues, and she stops attending church. After all, she came to The Church to find true friends, people she could trust. Instead, it's exactly the same gossiping mess she experiences in the world.
And we wonder why so many people avoid Christians, referring to us as judgemental, hypocritical, and worse. Sadly, sometimes we are those very things. I know I've been that and more. I've also been on the receiving end of such treatment. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that it doesn't feel good to be gossipped about.
Friends, we are daughters of the King of Kings. We are to be an example to a hurting and lost world. We are to be set apart, not the same, but different -- holy.
Loyalty to others is a quality every Princess Warrior should exhibit. I know I need to. And not just sometimes, with some people, but all the time, with all people. Granted, alone, this is simply too much for our frail human nature to master on its own. We need heavenly help and earthly support. We need the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of safe and trusted friends to hold us accountable.
Won't you take the Stomp out Gossip Challenge with me? Let's try it for a day and then build on that. Wake up and ask the Holy Spirit to put a supernatural block on your tongue. A block that acts as an alarm before negative words and comments are spoken. Once words are out, they stay out. There is no giant eraser that can vanquish our cruel comments. Don't I wish! Rather than say something negative about someone to another person, find a quiet place and talk to God. We can complain to Him. He tells us we can come to Him with any concern. He won't gossip.
That's it; one day without speaking negative words to anyone -- about anyone. Can you do it?
That also means when you're in the grocery store parking lot, and some rather rude woman cuts you off for a highly coveted parking spot, you do not turn to your passenger and complain about her. Keep the mouth shut! We can do this. So, what do you say? Are you with me?
I've said this before, and (forgive the cliche') but I'll likely say it again ... and again. We serve a God of relationship. We, as the body of Christ, are to be Christ's hands extended. We are examples of grace; lights in an often dark world. We need one another! So let's stop wounding our comrades, because as the title so simply states: Back biting leaves teeth marks. Worse yet, it hurts the heart.
What does God's Word have to say about gossiping?
Proverbs 16:28 NIV tells us:
"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends."
What about 1 Timothy 5:12-13 NIV?
"Thus they bring judgement on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides they get in the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to."
Or Proverbs 20:19 ...
"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man (or woman) who talks to much."