Inflexible or Flexible

I have learned in the ministry that things are always changing. Transition, change and flexibility are good words for the church.

Let me be clear. I am not talking about changing ministry philosophy. Nor am I talking about changing doctrine, standards, or music. I am not changing the name of the church to make it more acceptable with the culture. I have no interest or intention of becoming Cleveland Community Church. As long as I am pastor, it is going to be Cleveland Baptist Church. I have no intention of leaving the heritage and positions we have come to embrace as being right from the pages of Scripture.

What am I talking about when I use the word flexibility? Flexibility is accommodating growth and making adjustments so growth isn’t hampered. I am talking about things that can be changed and should be changed if it helps the overall mission of the church.

One of our newer Adult Bible Fellowships is the Young Professionals class. It is a singles class made up of those who are out of college and includes those through their thirties. That class has literally exploded in growth, averaging about 45-50 each Sunday. The classroom space that they occupied on Sunday morning has reached its capacity, so we have been trying to figure out what we can do. The Junior High department has a larger classroom space and probably could accommodate about 80. The problem with this solution is that the Junior High department has occupied this room for close to thirty years. When it was time to make the decision, we discussed it with the class leaders. The Junior High leader said that while they didn’t want to move, they will because it is necessary to accommodate this larger growing class. I appreciate leaders like that.

In churches and ministries, if we aren’t careful, we begin to think of classes and space in terms of ownership. This is my classroom, this is my ministry, and truthfully, when people begin to think of it in those terms, they often bristle at the thought of change.

In the last ten years, the church has been in a constant state of remodeling. The newest building on our property was constructed over twenty-three years ago. Some of the other buildings date back to the 1960s, so there has been a need to update. Because our ministry is out of debt, we have been able to make these improvements without going into debt. Some part of our buildings is always under construction. That means we need to be flexible in order to accommodate the construction and keep moving forward. I remember one particular Easter Sunday morning when I preached with scaffolding in the auditorium. Remodeling and construction mean we may have to adjust the schedule or temporarily move a class. These things can’t be helped; when people make those adjustments without complaint and with a great attitude, it is such a blessing.

Here is my challenge to you:

  1. Some things should not to change! Hold on to them! Don’t bend or bow to the pressure or succumb to the winds of change. No matter how many people are changing, if it is something that has been tested and found as a timeless truth, be inflexible and unchanging.
  2. Be flexible and willing to change and to let go of things that don’t really make a difference. You may be comfortable. You may not want to change, but if it is a matter of personal preference, don’t be inflexible. When I was a child, the Sunday night service was at 7:00. Many years ago we changed the time to 6:00 PM in order to better accommodate families with children. I know some churches that are now meeting at 5:00 PM on Sunday. That is something that can change.
  3. Be willing to let go of things for the benefit of the work of God. Be willing to change and be flexible in those areas that will benefit the church and the work of God.


For many years I have selected a theme that our church will focus on and strive for during the current year. On Sunday, January 8, I shared this year’s theme with the church family.

Last July, as I was preparing for our annual pastoral staff calendar planning meeting, I sensed the Lord nudging me toward this year’s theme. I discovered it in Titus 2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” When I read those words, God stirred in my heart—it spoke to me of the need for Christians to be Ready! Ready for the Lord to return! Ready to live an authentic Christian life while we watch and wait for the Lord to come! Ready to be the salt and light that the Lord has called us to be! READY, in all things that pertain to the Christian life.

How does the Christian live ready and remain focused in a world that is quickly moving away from God?

  1. Maintain a daily walk with God. It is impossible for a Christian to stay focused on what is clearly important from God’s perspective without taking some time each morning to meet with God. I know some people have their devotions in the evening, but personally, I know how important it is for me to start my day focused on God and His Word. I have a designated place where I do my Bible reading and prayer time. Develop this habit, and find a place where you, too, begin your day with God.
  2. Attend a good, solid church. A Bible-oriented, New Testament church is the place God designed for believers to develop in the faith. I honestly don’t know a Christian that has a Biblical mindset and walks faithfully with Christ that doesn’t connect with God and other believers by attending church a few times a week.

Growing up, I knew that unless I was sick or our family was out of town, there was only one place we were going to be on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night. God used that time in my life to develop my heart and life for the church. It was where my closest friends were. It was a place where I made life’s most important decisions. It was where I was convicted of my lost condition by the Gospel. It was the place I was baptized into the fellowship of believers known as Cleveland Baptist Church. It was where I heard the still small voice of God calling me to ministry and full-time service. I love the church and can’t imagine my life without the church family.

Let me hasten to say that it isn’t enough just to be a member, you need to be engaged in the ministry of the church. Find a place to serve the Lord with a sincere heart of joy and love for Christ.

  1. Witness for Christ. No matter where our travels take us, it is guaranteed that we will meet and be engaged with unsaved people—sinners in need of a friend and in need of a message that can change their eternal destiny. We aren’t to be closet believers; rather we are to be vivacious living testimonies of the grace of God. The Bible speaks of us needing to be ready to give an answer of every man that asketh us of the hope that is within us.

Friend, are you living ready? If not, I encourage you to apply these truths to your life. If you do, you will find yourself focused and ready for Christ’s return.

Rejoice Alway

It has been said that more people are anxious and emotionally distraught over this year’s Presidential election than any other time in recent history. The candidates themselves tend to make people nervous. It is hard to know what to expect. By tonight America will have elected its 45th President, and it will either be President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump. Either way there probably is a considerable amount of concern in your heart and soul about what the future holds for our country. Whether your candidate wins or loses, here is what you should know—God is still on His throne. The Bible makes it clear that His throne is set in heaven and nothing that happens here impacts or shakes God. His reign is eternal, and He has a plan that will be accomplished!

Philippians 4:4-7 is a great reminder that our focus needs to be on Heaven and God rather than on who wins or loses the Presidency. When are we to rejoice in the Lord? Should we rejoice in the Lord when our candidate wins? What about rejoicing in the Lord when you are feeling good about the future? Maybe you should rejoice in the Lord when everything is going your way. No! The passage is clear:  Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS! (v. 4)

I must remind you of where Paul was when he wrote these instructions to the church at Philippi. He wasn’t taking a tropical vacation. He wasn’t living the high life and having the best that life had to offer. No, just the opposite. Paul was sitting in a Roman prison when he told the church to “Rejoice in the Lord alway and again I say rejoice.” Rejoice in the Lord no matter what happens with this election. “Rejoice in the Lord always” even if your world is shaky, and it seems to be falling apart.

The prophet Habakkuk was anxious because of what was going on his world. He was troubled because of God’s revelation about His coming judgment of Israel. As a result, he went into his prayer closet, and God met with him. This is what he stated:  “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

What does Philippians 4:5 mean? The word “moderation” means a sweet reasonableness. People should see that we, as the people of God, are reasonable; that we aren’t always insisting on having our way. Sometimes we need to give up ground in order to maintain unity and blessing in the place where God has put us. That doesn’t mean we are to overlook sin or do something our conviction wouldn’t allow, but it does mean that when the world looks at us, they ought to see people that are at peace and under control. Remember the Lord is at Hand. He is watching and knows. Beyond that, the world is watching us too, and they know.

According to verses 6-7, if you find yourself troubled (“careful” or full of care) because of what is going on in your life or in the world, you are to give that over to prayer and supplication. When we truly give it over, the God of peace will step into our hearts and give us peace.

Should I care about who is in the White House or who represents me in the halls of Congress? Yes! What should I do if it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to? I am to “rejoice in the Lord.” I am to let my sweet reasonableness be seen. And I am to take my anxiety to the Lord in prayer. That will keep me focused and stable in an unstable world!


The Need for Rest and Nourishment

It seems that there are busy seasons of life when we give ourselves to our calling in more intense and more protracted ways than normal. No matter your calling, your life is demanding, and you are busy running from one event to the next. I don’t suppose that there is much we can do to change that. Modern conveniences don’t seem to make our lives less busy; they just provide a way to cram more. People have begun to think that unless they are busy doing something, they feel bored and unfulfilled.

Because we are busy, we are people in need of rest. We need to physically rest as well as spiritually rest. Even during the ministry of Jesus, there were times of great stress, and He spoke of the need to rest. “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31).

I am also reminded of Elijah the prophet as he went through a very intense time of ministry when he faced Ahab and the nation of Israel on Mt. Carmel. He dealt with the false prophets of Baal, and of course, subsequent events that came one right after another. He was so exhausted that when it was all over, he wasn’t able to enjoy the victory. On the heels of this great victory, Queen Jezebel sent him a message, and he ran for his life. It was at that point that God stepped into the stress and provided him with physical rest and nutrition, and he recovered.

Although we may not be to that point of exhaustion, it is advisable that we find some time to pull back from the hectic pace of life and relax each week. The Lord understands the demands of life and ministry. He knows our need for rest, and He admonishes us to get in the yoke with Him. He promises a rest that the world can’t provide. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). I am laboring, so why not labor with the One who is able to give me rest as I labor with Him? If I look to the Lord, He is more than able to give me what I need in the realm of strength and energy.

Do you find yourself in need of rest? There is a rest for the people of God through a time of corporate worship. God designed the congregating of the body of Christ, not to take things out of us, but to put good things in us. The statement has been made about our physical bodies that “we are what we eat!” I think that is true of the spiritual body, too! These passages address the fact that God’s church is a good place where we find rest and nourishment for our souls:  Psalms 1:1-3, Ps 73, Ephesians 4:11-16, Jude 1:20-21.

There is an energy, a dynamic that God gives to His people who are willing to come apart from the world and come together to worship and to hear from Him.

I trust that you will get that rest and nourishment you need for your soul this week, as you meet at your church!

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

The Impact of One Church

As I sit in my office this afternoon, I contemplate that today, August 14, 2016, this church celebrates its fifty-eighth anniversary. In those fifty-eight years, God certainly has done some amazing things through this “one church.”

I have a unique perspective of this church because most of my life has revolved around what God has done in this place. You see, this church started in my grandparents’ living room. They moved out of their home so the young preacher, Roy Thompson, could lease the house to start a church. My grandfather consented to attend the first service, and the rest is history. I was just a baby when my parents carried me into that living room that was functioning as a church meeting place. What transpired in that house impacted my parents and several members of my family. This church has continued to play a part in almost every aspect of my life as a person and a preacher.

I am grateful for a man of God that had faith and a vision for a city and was obedient to the calling of God upon his life. That man, Roy Thompson, was my pastor for thirty-seven years. I am grateful for his influence, preaching and mentoring in my years as a young preacher. Six years ago God saw fit to take him to heaven, but there is hardly a week that goes by when I don’t think about him and the impact he had upon me and my family.

Today at fifty-eight years of age, Cleveland Baptist Church is still a thriving ministry that is impacting the world for Christ. There are a few things that have been emphasized through the years that have helped the church stay focused.

  1. The Word of God has always been principal in this ministry. Roy Thompson was a Bible preacher. He thundered the Word of God from the pulpit, and I have endeavored to continue on as a preacher of the Bible. I primarily preach expository messages, chapter by chapter and book by book.
  2. Soul winning and discipleship have also been a focus of this ministry through the years. For almost fifty years this church has maintained a dynamic bus ministry. Still today we have over fourteen bus routes that cover the west side of our city. We still knock doors endeavoring to reach people with the gospel. Those that are saved are encouraged to get into a discipleship class in order to ground them and help them grow in the faith.
  3. Church-planting and missions are also a key focus of this church. As it was in the days of Roy Thompson, that focus continues under my leadership. We have planted many churches in this region and across the face of the world through our CBC-sent missionaries.
  4. Finally, we have tried to keep the truth of loving and living for Jesus in the hearts of our people. We don’t want to be a ministry that just does things to do things. We want to be a church that does what it does because we love the Savior. Love is the greatest motivation for service and ministry.

I don’t think we can possibly know until we get to Heaven how many lives have been changed or individuals and families have been impacted because this church was placed by God in Cleveland, Ohio. I just know personally that five generations of my own family have been powerfully impacted and changed because of this church. May God help us to continue!

Churches Working Together

Without a doubt, the New Testament alludes to the concept of a local assembly of baptized believers as being the church. In our current study on the book of Revelation, we are in the section where there are seven local bodies identified as churches. The Lord saw them and was aware of what each of them was doing in this world. He likens each church to a lampstand or candlestick. Interestingly enough, the Lord didn’t see one huge candlestick, but he saw seven individual candlesticks and identifies each one as a church.

I would be so bold as to say that there is no concept of a universal, invisible church found in the pages of the New Testament. The suggestion that all the churches will make up the church in the future in Heaven is surely seen, but right now, God sees churches—plural. Each real New Testament church is the body of Christ, and He is the head of that church!

In the New Testament these churches were identified by their geographic location. In 2016, Independent Baptists often tag their churches with a location; for instance, we are known as Cleveland Baptist Church. We are a regional church that draws people from across the greater Cleveland area. Yet, around us are other Baptist churches that have names such as Grace Baptist Church, NorthCoast Baptist, Southwest Baptist, etc. In New Testament times, those churches would have had a city associated with them in order to designate its location.

As one of the oldest and largest Independent Baptist churches in this area, Cleveland Baptist Church has planted several of the other Baptist churches in this area. We have either directly planted that church out of our church, or we have helped a man that has been sent to this region to plant a church. Throughout the years, we have given people and resources to help these regional church plants. We don’t look upon these other churches as competition. We see them as partners in the ministry. I firmly believe that as large as the metro Cleveland area is—seven counties and 2.1 million people—it would be impossible for one church to reach and impact this region totally or effectively. So it takes churches—plural—to be placed in strategic areas to reach a region like this with the gospel.

It is a wonderful thing when churches in a close geographic area can cooperate and strategically plan some combined efforts. As I look around me, I know some of these Baptist churches in this region wouldn’t agree on every detail, but we agree on the major doctrines and understand the concept of independence and autonomy. Yet, we have been able to come together for teen camps, summer missionary ventures and other joint efforts. Some of the churches in our region have chosen to utilize our Christian school for some of their church families and send men and women to our Bible Institute for training. Recently, we have been planning a combined outreach to the Republican National Convention which will be convening here in a few weeks. It has been refreshing to have the pastors and leaders of these churches sit down with us to strategize about outreach and evangelism. Next year we are looking at working together for a joint meeting on Revival and Prayer!

Please join me in praying for the Independent Baptist churches of the greater Cleveland area to not only be effective in their individual work but also powerful in our collective work! I want Cleveland Baptist Church and the other area Independent Baptist churches to have a great spirit of unity and cooperation. In this day of cultural shift and animosity toward Bible-believing Christians, we are going to need each other. Unless something changes, I believe that we are going to be dealing with pressure and persecution that we have never known from the world around us. Therefore, we must encourage and pray for each church and pastor. We must remember the Lord is still walking among the candlesticks, and He is the head of every New Testament church. I think He is pleased as we show grace and kindness toward each pastor and church that shares our doctrine and faith.

The Christian’s Responsibility

I am writing these thoughts right in the middle of our annual Faith Promise Missions Conference. This year, like in most years, we are privileged to have a number of missionaries and fields represented in our conference. They are sharp, articulate people desiring to go the field and share Christ with the multitudes. The only thing holding them back from the field is the financial resources necessary to go and be sustained on those fields.

In the opening service of the conference, I was struck when we had a parade of flags. Each missionary guest with us followed a flag of their country as they marched in. The final flag carried in was solid black and represented the countries with closed or restricted access to missionaries. Over half the world’s population live in those lands where their governments have restricted missionaries from bringing the gospel message. My heart aches as I write these words thinking of the multitudes that will never hear a clear presentation of the gospel. I am sure that in every land there is someone sharing the gospel. However, it is limited by a repressive government or lack of trained personal to share that message.

One of the reasons we must reach the open fields with the gospel is that other nations are welcomed in even though Americans are restricted from going to these nations. For instance, the Filipinos are able to get into most countries of the world. They do service work and have few restrictions in their access. So we need to get missionaries to open fields to win people to Christ, baptize them, form churches and train them to take the message of Christ to the world.

It should trouble us that while we are restricted from going to other places in the world, we aren’t restricted here at home. Yet so few are engaged in telling others about Christ here in America. I believe we will stand before God some day and give an account for our lack of effort in reaching our own nation with the gospel. I read the other day that when it comes to faith, a fast growing segment of our population are those that are called “Nones.” In other words, they have no faith. They are either atheist or agnostic and don’t care about God or the Bible. Perhaps the reason they are that way is because many in Christianity aren’t living credible lives or speaking of their faith. Too many of us have been intimidated by the culture and silenced by fear.

There are a few responsibilities each of us must own. As American Christians, our responsibility is huge.

  1. We must live credible lives so that others can see the distinct difference that Christ makes.
  2. We must be faithful to tell others about the Saviour. When God opens the door, we must speak up. We must look for opportunities to share our faith and do so with boldness and assurance.
  3. We must give generously so that others can go the fields of the world.
  4. We must pray earnestly for those who are on the field and for others trying to get there. Pray that God would make them effective in the reaching people with the gospel.
  5. We must live ready and excited about the return of Christ.
  6. We must encourage one another to be the best Christians we can be.

The 2016 Election

Almost everyone is aware that America is in the midst of a very vicious primary season. We are trying to determine who will be the standard bearers for both the Republican and Democratic parties in the coming presidential election. I realize there are a host of other contests, but the one that has received the most attention is the presidential contest.

Here is my opinion regarding this contest:  as American citizens, we have a real interest in this election. As it stands right now, it looks like Hilary Clinton will be the nominee for the Democrats unless she is indicted for her part in the email server scandal. If that is the case, then it will be the avowed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. What a pair on the Democratic side. If things continue down the path they are going now, the nominee for the Republicans will be Donald Trump. I am not thrilled with this man being the standard bearer for the party for which I am most closely aligned.

It is my hope and prayer that the Republicans can put a better, more qualified candidate into the coming head-to-head battle for the 2016 election. I realize that Donald Trump is an accomplished businessman, yet he is crass and seemingly devoid of moral uprightness. I am appalled watching the pettiness and childishness of the Republican debates. Name calling, interrupting each other, and bullying are all part of these so-called debates.

We who live in Cleveland, Ohio, will have a front row seat to the Republican National Convention the week of July 18.

As I think about what is going on in the realm of national politics, it seems we have a real leadership void. Statesmen like Ronald Reagan are seemingly absent from the fray. I have to ask myself, why? Why are the likes of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the kind of candidates people want?

Here is why I think the Clintons and Trumps are out in front—it is because these people represent who we are as a people. If we look in the Scripture, one of the curses people have to deal with when they distance themselves from God is poor leadership.

Think about it: the average American doesn’t really seem to care about morality and conservative values. Across the country our cities are becoming moral cesspools of iniquity and ungodly behavior. This kind of behavior has enveloped the nation. We add to that bloodshed and violence that are daily occurrences, and we have the American wasteland. Just drive down the streets of any major city and see the depths of depravity on display. Turn on your television on any given night and try to find something wholesome to watch. Most of the entertainment industry is out in left field when it comes to morals and what they think is humorous. The sexual innuendos are constant, and what we consider normal and moral is often mocked and ridiculed as being abnormal.

I told my wife the other day that we are living in the days of Lot in Sodom. Lest you think I am a negative person, I am not. I realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. We still see people saved and baptized at our church on a regular basis. I know there are churches across the country that are actively trying to reach their community and world, too. Yet there is a hardness, and at times, a lack of receptivity in the hearts of the general population.

From what I am seeing, regardless of who is elected as president, he will not be able to fix what ails America—only God can do that. Nevertheless, I do think that electing a principled conservative is vital to the health of our nation although it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.

I challenge you to pray for America! Pray that God will awaken this nation again to the importance of spiritual matters. Pray that God will awaken His churches to righteousness and godly living! Vote in each election. Vote godly principles and values. These are the things that will make the biggest difference in the 2016 election.

Certainty in an Uncertain World

Our world is filled with uncertainty, so we often find ourselves thinking about things that weren’t an issue ten years ago. Back then, movements like ISIS or ISIL weren’t much of a problem. While I was aware of Muslim extremists like Osama bin Laden, I had no idea that this kind of people could gain traction and become a real force to be concerned with in my world. It is more than just rhetoric when we hear of these movements declaring a jihad, or a holy war, on the west. They have declared that America is “The Great Satan” and must be defeated. There is no doubt that there are cells of these Muslim extremists in our country waiting for the next opportunity to inflict fear and terror on us.

I have a level of concern when our world leaders gather to declare that they have come to the conclusion that the greatest danger we face is “Global Warming.” It is hard to feel secure about my future when they speak with their politically correct speech and their collaborated talking points. It is nothing more than their desire to control our lives and redistribute wealth.

On any given day we awake to news regarding economic issues in places like Russia, China or some other major place in this world. Those issues cause the economies of the rest of the first world nations to shudder and shake. Add to that news a level of uncertainty regarding our nation’s economy because of our political leaders’ unwillingness to deal with the national debt. They never saw a program they didn’t want to fund, nor can they bypass a pork-barrel project that will help line their own pockets.

Although there is a lot of uncertainty in our world, there are some great spiritual truths that cause me to be very secure and certain about my future.

  1. I am very secure in the fact that my eternal destiny is fixed because of the work of Jesus Christ. By faith, I have personally claimed the truths of Scripture. As a young child, I heard the gospel and responded to that message by placing my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I have personally claimed John 3:16, Romans 10:9-13 and other verses.
  2. I am very secure in knowing that God has clearly spoken in His Word. The Bible isn’t just a book of religious instruction; it is, in reality, the very Word of God! I have found it to be a book of comfort, of instruction, and of correction. I have found Psalm 12:6-7 and II Timothy 3:16-17 to be certain and powerful in formulating my conviction about the Word of God.
  3. I am very secure in knowing that God has a plan that will be accomplished in this world. I love Psalm 2. It speaks of all the rulers of this world making their plans and rejecting the God of Heaven. I love verse 4, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision.” At some point in the future, God will pull the plug on this planet. He will bring things to a very certain conclusion, and He will remake this world in righteousness. I love the promise of God and men dwelling together on new earth (II Peter 3:10-13).

In an uncertain world, I have great certainty because my God reigns, and in this, I am very secure. An old preacher used to say, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” For those of us that know Him, it is very bright. We are not to live in fear but in certainty that God has a plan, and it will be accomplished.


The Communication Breakdown

We are all aware of our need to communicate—it starts early in life. In order for a baby to communicate that he needs something, he will cry. It is amazing how effective a baby can be at communicating without words. After a while, we learn our first word, and then it isn’t long before we are talking a blue-streak.

One would think that by the time we reach our adult years we would be good at communication. However, communication is more than just speaking words. Communication is also listening to what others are saying. Isn’t it amazing that many times our preconceived ideas can play into what we think someone is saying rather than what they are really saying?

I often think about how men and women communicate. Years ago, I heard Dr. Johnny Pope make the statement: “Men communicate in headlines and women in fine print!” Here is how that goes. A man comes home from work, and his wife asks, “How was your day?” He replies, “Fine!” She wants to know what happened at the office or the shop, but he just generalizes and says it was fine. A woman will ask her husband, “How does my hair look?” He will reply, “It is nice!” He thinks he is paying her a compliment, but she replies, “Oh, you don’t like it!” because he didn’t say, “I really love it,” or “It is the best hairdo ever.” In her mind he is just making a statement.

This isn’t the only way we see a breakdown of communication. Sometimes, we totally misunderstand a situation, and based on the way we think things are or perceive that they are, we respond to them. I recently preached from II Kings 5 where we find the story of Naaman, the captain of the host of the king of Syria. The Bible says he was a leper, and the little Hebrew maid spoke about the man of God, the prophet Elisha, that could heal the leprosy.

When the king got word that the prophet in Israel could heal leprosy, he sent a letter to the king of Israel saying that he was sending his captain for the king to heal. The king of Israel thought the king of Syria was picking a fight with him. What the king of Israel didn’t consider was that there was a man of God, a prophet named Elisha, that could help. Elisha sent word that the king should direct the captain to his home. More misunderstanding happens when the captain shows up. Elisha doesn’t come out himself; there is no fanfare, just a messenger. A servant of Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan River in order to be healed. The Bible tells us that Naaman was in a rage. Why was he so angry? Because he thought that the man of God would come out personally to meet with such an important person as himself. He thought he was worthy of that kind of treatment. After all, he was in charge of the king of Syria’s army. He was also put off by the dirty Jordan River. In his mind, the rivers in Damascus were better than the dirty Jordan River.

God was communicating to the captain, and God used those that accompanied the captain to further His communication. They reasoned with him saying that if Elisha had given him some difficult thing to do, he would have done it—why not try this simple thing? He humbled himself and did what he was told, and God healed him.

It is often our human pride that gets in the way of our communication. Pride breaks down our ability to hear properly. Many times our hearts are hardened by sin and that keeps us from hearing and communicating properly.

Truthfully, the greatest element in communication is not our mouth, our brain, our lips or our tongue—it is our heart. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:11, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”


Here are a few ideas to keep our communication from breaking down:


  1. Listen more than you speak. Really listen to what is being said. Let a person explain what he is seeing, feeling and hearing.
  2. Ask God for wisdom in response to critical times of communication. As a preacher, it is imperative that I communicate properly, effectively and powerfully. I can’t do that without the help of the Lord. If you are a teacher, parent, spouse, employee, or employer, we must communicate well. Ask God for His help.
  3. When you have made a communication mistake, whether it is what you have said or in misunderstanding what you have heard, take responsibility. Don’t act as if it isn’t important. Make sure that you are able to communicate with those people you deal with on a regular basis.
  4. Saturate your heart with the Word of God and fellowship with the Lord. That will do more to keep your heart right and help you with good and sound speech than anything else.