A message from Bishop Devadhar: General Conference 2019
March 2019 – A Gentle Tongue
Read Together: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
When Gideon headed into battle, he took with him only one hundred men-a meager group compared with the vast army of the Midianites they were up against. But God was in control, and he caused the Midianites to turn against one another. Gideon’s army simply sat back and watched as their enemy defeated themselves. Not one of the one hundred men had to draw their sword. As the remainder of the Midianite army fled, Gideon called warriors from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim for help in finishing the job. They cut off the Midianites’ escape route, and Israel defeated its enemy.
But after the fighting stopped, the Ephraimites came to Gideon and angrily demanded to know why they had not been called in the first place to help in the battle. “Why have you treated us like this?” they whined. “And they criticized him sharply” (Judges 8:1).
It would have been easy for Gideon to respond harshly to their criticism. When we feel attacked or criticized, its human nature to feel defensive and lash back at those who make us feel that way.
But responding harshly to strong words is a sure way to escalate a conflict. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, Gideon chose to douse the flame with soothing, soft words: “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?’ At this, their resentment against him subsided” (Judges 8:2-3). Maybe people skills came naturally to Gideon. Perhaps he know the only way to calm the Ephraimites’ anger was to give them credit for the positive things their participation had accomplished. Gideon wasn’t buttering them up or even weaseling his way out of a tight spot; he was merely being a good leader by acknowledging their frustration and their contribution to his success and dealing with their complaints. He took the focus off of what he had accomplished without their help and showed them that he valued and appreciated them.
A kind response is much more effective than a harsh one. Next time you’re tempted to let loose verbally and really give someone a piece of your mind, hold your tongue. Speak gently and with kindness instead. Make it your goal to soothe the conflict instead of inflaming it by defending yourself or retaliating. You just might gain (or keep) a friend!
Discussion Starters: How do you deal with people who speak to you harshly? Based on today’s proverb, how can you improve your reaction? What steps will you take to make those improvements?
Lifeline: Watch for ways you can deal kindly with others. Bless those around you with kind words of encouragement
lease mark your calendars. ↓
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February 2019 – Slow To Anger
Read Together: “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29
Playing in and coaching Division 1 college football as a defensive lineman didn’t exactly give me a passive personality. Every time the center would snap the ball to the quarterback, I was tin the middle of a major gang war! If I didn’t move quickly and take the fight to the offensive lineman who was trying to demolish me, I would get run over by a stampede of wild horses. I learned to fight and to fight hard.
That was on the football field!
Off the football field was a different story. Last year I spoke at a college event at the University of Colorado where I built a 14-foot cross in front of several hundred college students and shared with them God’s amazing gift of love and grace. Hundreds responded to the invitation and gave their hearts to Christ. But one student was outraged! As I leaned against the side wall of the theater, listening to the band play praise and worship music, he approached me in a fury. He got in my face and called me every dirty word ever written on a bathroom wall!
Yeah, I probably could have taken him to the floor. Yeah, he probably deserved it. Yeah, something inside of me would have enjoyed making him eat his words. Yeah, once upon a time, years ago, I probably would have taken issue with him. But when I left football and grew up a little, I left it all on the field. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for them.” Jesus said, “Be slow to anger.” Jesus said, “Be patient with people.” Jesus said, “Vengeance belongs to God.” As the students’ stormed out of the theater, I prayed for him and still pray for him today, that someday our paths will cross again-hopefully in heaven when his anger will be calmed forever.
Discussion Starters: Name three people who “provoke you to anger.” Compare how you want to react with how you really react. Compare your reaction to the way God wants you to react? In reality, why is God’s way best? Why is it best to be “slow to anger?” What does today’s verse mean when it says those who are slow to anger have “great understanding?” What do they understand?
Lifeline: Ask God to give you the understanding needed to keep your anger in check.
Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)
Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.
Here are some photographs taken by Susan Heilbron of the second of the three Sunday afternoon programs. It all starts with tremendous planning by Lia Kahler, a member of the church Outreach committee. The Bellimira group..played English Dance tunes. (photo by Sandy Moore)Ed Merck played bass recorder..Bach cello music. Haunting..Jan Heyer, accompanied by Phil Dietterich, played a beautiful cello. Jesse Keller danced to a contemporary Silent Night played on piano by Carol Loud.Phil Dietterich introduced his fabulous prelude by Buxtehude telling how Bach admired Buxtehude and walked 200 miles to visit him..And, after his performance called this..a “pretty nice box of whistles.”
And Susan Klein read one of her stories that, in six minutes, told how her 4 year old self was taught the meaning of the universe by an “aunt” during an O.B. thunderstorm. It was wonderful!In addition to being Master of Ceremonies, Lia sang an aria from Carmen her voice filling the sanctuary.
Finally, we heard the folk trio of Andy Goldman, Jack Cushman and Warren Doty.This program closed with candle light as did all…Thank you to all the performers this season who donated their talent. And thank you to Claire Ganz, Judy Mayhew and Emily Broderick who put on lavish receptions after the shows.
Thanks to Lorna for bringing him to the island this summer for the Teen Camp Meeting and for Rev. Charlotte for inviting him to preach in Chilmark. We enjoyed meeting his Mother, Sister and Niece , Hannah, who came all the way from R.I. this morning for the service.Another special blessing this day was the music Lia Kahler offered, her amazing voice filling the sanctuary with Spirit.