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Bulletin #5:  February, 2017

Consider This:

There is a supernatural power that we should all strive for – it is the power to speak and bring life.  The journey to having the abundant life of God is like the journey of a baby growing up to full maturity.  There is a stage where a child can only think in binary terms:  “no, yes, good, bad”.  When we are in this stage as Christians, we are able to tell if a situation is bad, but are unable to do much about it.  As we mature on our Christian journey and establish personal integrity, we begin to have the capacity to bring life to any situation we observe no matter how bad or dead it seems to be.  This is an essential tool in our arsenal for establishing justice. We cannot be silent on issues of injustice, even when it is difficult to speak up. At the same time, we must speak the words most likely to bring change, rather than those that lead to destructive outcomes.

Here’s An Applicable Scripture:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  Proverbs 18.21

What we say both verbally and non-verbally will produce tangible results, but only after its kind.  We cannot increase justice by speaking to others in an unjust manner.  We will only end up multiplying the injustice we are trying to prevent.  Conversely, we can produce and multiply justice by speaking and behaving in a just manner towards others.  What we speak about and publish to others is what we will multiply in our social environment.

Have You Driven in Boston Lately?

Consider what it’s like to drive in Boston:  people cut each other off, block drivers from merging into lanes, double park, key other cars if they park in a snow plowed spot, and generally make driving a miserable experience.  Some data shows that Boston drivers submit more than two and half times as many insurance claims as drivers in America’s other 200 most populous cities.  In response to all of this, our job as believers while driving is not to compound the situation with coarse responses and mean-spirited nonverbal language. We are called to a higher level of maturity by carefully weighing what we say so that we may multiply peace and road justice and bring a new dimension to the local driving scene.  If more of us took this approach while driving, we could change the image of the mean-spirited, angry Boston driver to something entirely different. 

Publish Good News: An Example

Two Boston brothers, Bert and John Jacobs, started selling tee-shirts as part of their dream of owning their own business.  For five years, they tried selling them with very little success.  One day they came up with a simple message “Life is Good” in an attempt to counter the daily flood of negative news.  Sales of the tee shirts exploded and from that simple “Life is Good” message, they built a huge brand with items sold in approximately 4500 stores.  The brothers could have easily published an anti-negative media slogan on their tee-shirts, but instead they chose to publish something simple and inspiring.  As we engage in our efforts towards justice, we should do likewise.  Consider carefully how you speak about the evils that you see.  Our 8 month campaign is not an “anti” campaign, it is a “for” campaign.  Our news and social media are already publishing the bad stuff.   We must publish instead God’s solutions, his ideas, what he stands for and our personal visions for a just world, not in a trite way, but in a deeply thoughtful and respectful way. 

Personal Meditation:

Consider one of the situations that this country is currently facing: from racial issues, gender issues, political strife, war, terrorism, environmental issues, etc., and consider the types of things you have personally said about those situations.  What have you been publishing?  Then find a quiet place and pray and ask God for life-giving ways of discussing the situation.

Esther Circle Activity:

Gather your friends together and decide to have your own in-home “debate” on a taboo topic.  (It might be a good idea to pick a referee.)  Practice with them the types of things you will say about those hot topics in a way that will bring life to those situations, instead of judgmentalism, so that when the situation presents itself, you won’t be caught in judgmental patterns of thinking and speech. 

Extended Activities You Can Do:

Become a social missionary.  Prayerfully join a Boston area political or social organization that is trying to deal with a difficult topic, solely for the purpose of bringing God’s life-giving perspective to that situation.  Make friends with the people in the organization, sow into their hearts words of wisdom from God and nurture the efforts of the organization over time to see the results of what you have planted.

Useful Links:

Managing difficult communications

Lauren Mackler at Harvard – Difficult Conversations

The Science of Persuasion