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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thoughts from the Past – Who Do You Sound Like?

April 13, 2008 (edited June 2012)
Who Do You Sound Like?

My parents ate breakfast yesterday at a local cafe, or perhaps more accurately, a "greasy spoon." One of the patrons was a local sports coach who was holding court with anyone who would talk with him. Plenty of people knew him and he was having a grand time shining on the willing audience.

My parents were listening to other people's conversations (a great way to pick up the local "news") and couldn't help hearing the coach's chatter as he held forth, no doubt on his favorite subject. My dad particularly noticed that the man's favorite source to quote was himself.

We've all heard people like this I suppose. Their conversation is peppered with remarks like, "I always say,..."; "As I told so-and-so,..."; "I always tell them..."; and so forth. To hear them tell it, you would think that they are the most useful and reliable sources of information.

Our family once saw a series of historical documentaries done by the droll Englishman, Alistair Cook. In one of those films he made this clever witticism (clever for an Englishman, that is), "Someone once said, and it might have been me..." and thus imparted some appropriate quote upon the subject. This is unfortunately how some people seem to think, only they really mean it.  It isn’t a joke to them.

I was just thinking the other day that anyone who knew my Gramma Hoover very well would recognize that I had spent quite a bit of time with her by hearing me talk. I use her expressions and words, and no doubt use her manner of speech enough to betray the fact that we were close relatives as well as close friends.

In the gospel of Matthew we read that when Peter was warming himself beside the fire in the high priest's palace, the others there were accusing him of being with Christ. He denied it, but they could not believe him. Matthew 26:73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Peter's speech had betrayed him. Whether it was his Galilean accent or some other clue of his speech I don't know for sure, but he gave himself away with his mouth.

Later, after the apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost, Peter and John were arrested and stood before the spiritual leaders of Israel (including some of the same men who had officiated at the trial of Christ). When Peter answered the men boldly in the power of the Holy Ghost, we are told in Acts 4:13, Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Their speech showed that they had been with Jesus. They were not naturally men of this sort of boldness, speech and wisdom. If they had not listened, had not believed and had not desired to follow Christ, their speech would not have reflected His influence on them.

Our speech shows who we have been spending time with, who our companions have been. The coach mentioned above shows by his speech who he thinks is important and who is an excellent source of knowledge or wisdom - himself. My own expressions and some of my mannerisms reflect a person with whom I spent much time and who was a great influence on me - my grandmother. Many people are quick to quote their pastor or some other expert or "guru" whom they consider to be a "great source" of wisdom.  When some question or issue comes up, they will inform you, "Well, Pastor ________, says thus and so."  If you ask them why they do such and such, they won't give you scripture, they will quote Michael Pearl or Jack Hyles or Gothard or some such person.

What a wonderful thing, though, it would be to have it said of us that others knew we had been with Jesus because of our speech and our manner! I think there are few witnesses of His power in our lives that should be so sweet and so desired as this one. People strive for notice in soul-winning, in works of many kinds, in being noted for their "great deeds for Christ", in having a "deep spiritual life" and many such things. But, if we have spent so much time with Christ, hearing His words and listening to Him, that people can readily recognize it because our speech and our behavior is different, any other truly spiritual accomplishments should naturally, or rather supernaturally, follow.

A number of years ago my dad and a friend of ours had the distinct privilege of meeting a man who "had been with Jesus." He had obviously saturated his soul with the word of God, for his speech betrayed him. My dad and his friend were traveling from Canada back into the U.S. They had a large load of scripture plaques and there was some question as to whether they would be charged duty at the border. Since they were not prepared to pay a large amount of money for this, there was some concern about it. Before they left this brother from whom they had received the plaques, he  wanted to pray with them. As he prayed my dad and our friend came into genuine awe. The man's manner of praying was to quote passages of scripture easily and fluently, working them into his prayer without any strain to do so and talking as if it were the most natural way in the world to talk to God. And perhaps it is. It was not a stilted or forced thing, but simple expressions and requests regarding the trip and the need at hand. It was not pompous or puffed up, but sincere and as a man would talk to his friend. The man's normal speech had been well salted, but his manner of prayer made them realize that they had been visiting with a man who had spent much time with the Lord reading and absorbing His word. (Incidentally, though significantly, this man had also had a truly heart breaking experience which had changed the whole course of his life.)

[By the way, they got through the border without paying any customs because the inspector declared the plaques "religious icons" - though all that was on them were scripture verses. :-) ]

There are many Christians who live in fear or suspense about the coming of persecution to the USA.  There are many professing believers whose mouths are full of political ideologies, conspiracies, health dangers, the praise of man, the world, etc.  Would to God that if we are ever called upon to answer before a court of man for our behavior and speech that our testimony before men would be that they would take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus!

Deuteronomy 30:11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom...

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