Speak the Truth in Love

Good afternoon all.  This past week I took a very long weekend away camping with family and friends.  I was able to relax and reflect. I did some reading, and a lot of talking with those around me.  I came back completely refreshed.  Being outside in nature restores me in every way. 

Now I am packing for the Western PA United Methodist Annual Conference.  This will be the first meeting since 2019 where everyone will have the opportunity to be in person at the convention center in Erie PA.  I have the privilege of having a partial booth shared with a colleague.  I am hoping for lots of conversations with church leaders about how my ministry can serve them and help them be more effective in their ministries.

This conference will bring together people that have been apart for a long time.  The United Methodist Church is going through some tough changes.  It may divide the denomination into several parts.  There are very strong passions on both sides of the issues.  I am praying we can have open discussions and debates in loving ways.  For some, the race to anger will prevail.  For some, it will be a slippery slope towards negativity.  We need to focus on loving one another and use words of encouragement and communicate in positive ways. Those that speak to others with this lesson from Paul need to speak the loudest!   I recently finished a chapter in a soon to be published collaborative book: “The Impact of One Voice”  My chapter is entitled “Sticks and Stones”  I write about how far from the truth this rhyme actually is!  Words can hurt us the deepest.  When we use negative words and beat down others, we hurt them severely and we hurt ourselves too!  These hurts can last the rest of our lives.  No one wins when we use negative hateful words.

I saw that Paul Morelli preached on this theme this past weekend.  He spoke about the dangers of using negative words and why we should always “take the high road” and follow the advice in Ephesians to speak in a positive manner. (paraphrasing) If you see Paul this week, stop him and ask him about his message. I know I plan to!

Speak honestly and directly in a way that clearly reflects love and support for one another. Be courageous enough to say what needs to be said, even when it’s difficult. Address issues

directly with those who are involved or affected; speak to, not about, others.

I am praying that we can have a constructive annual conference and come away respecting and loving everyone that attends.  The man-made constructs that we think are so important, pale in comparison to the promise of eternal life with our heavenly father.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4: 15)

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4: 29)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” (Ephesians 4: 31)

Ideas for Action: Is there a difficult conversation you’ve been delaying? Is there someone you’ve been talking about instead of being direct? Pray for courage and grace to have the conversation, in person, if possible.