Thin Skin

by Ronda Wells

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11-12 NASB

Do you have thin skin? Metaphorical or literal? I have both.

Even though I try to avoid scraping my hand or arm on a shelf or drawer edge, with just the slightest bump I get nasty reddish splotches that seem to take forever to heal. Hmm, those are called senile purpura that come with aging. So many tell-tale bruises, yet I don’t feel old. My husband jokes I need side air bags. After a bad trip & fall last summer, I think he’s right.

Emotionally thin skin affects me as well. Perhaps like me, you had two loving parents who meant well but were highly critical. Maybe you’ve suffered some of these criticisms and perhaps more:

 Stand up straight!  Don’t slump in your chair, you’ll get a hunchback. Your foot turns in. Walk straighter. If you overeat, you’ll get fat.

If you grow up in that environment, you become sensitized to criticism and develop an overreaction to any form of perceived slight. Blood pressure rises, headaches start. Your jaw cramps with anger. I must “count to ten” to avoid making an immediate snarky reply.

Our current reigning culture has made a false god out of criticizing anything and everything that doesn’t go along with or agree with what they think. Doesn’t matter if it’s considered sinful by the majority of Christians or not. You must go along or be punished! This hypercritical and hypocritical overreaction to someone else’ perceived past sins is destroying lives right and left.

God tells us how to respond to criticism in Proverbs 15:1. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” NASB

Not my usual first impulse when I’m attacked. Condemnation is easy to find online. Outright viciousness, especially towards Christians, is prevalent in social media.

Insults from others are slings of the devil that leave invisible scars on our hearts no matter the source or form. Our protection is to use the full armor of God. Armor is heavy, but it’s designed to protect. Fighting in armor takes discipline and years of training. Young squires and knights started out with only a helmet and a dull wooden sword as they learned how to defend themselves in battle.

One Christian counselor recommends performing an actual visualization. Close your eyes and pretend you are sliding on that metal helmet to protect your thoughts, don the breastplate of righteousness to shield your heart, slide on the shoes of salvation to carry Jesus to others, and lift that mighty two-edged sword of the Word (Jesus) – not to cleave someone’s skull—but to patiently lift others up, compliment and instruct with your gentle spirit based in a knowledge of Scripture.

The more we respond with humor, kindness and “turning the other cheek” as Christ suggests, the more arguments we may win or at least end quickly. One troll suggested on social media that I was a fool. My response?

“That may be true, but at least I’m a God-fearing one.” The troll did not respond further.

Always remember our battle isn’t just the one we see. A much greater invisible war is taking place all around us, one that at times we can only glimpse. Jesus and His angels are fighting Satan and all his minions on our behalf! But if you’re bathed in the blood of the Cross, remember that battle has been won for eternity.

Victory has already been achieved.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Doctor by day, writer by night—Dr. Ronda Wells is an award-winning author who has written inspirational romance and romantic suspense for over twenty-five years. She has helped numerous Christian writers with creating authentic medical scenes for their books. Her column, Novel Malpractice, can be read at Killer Nashville Magazine.

A lifelong Hoosier and preacher’s kid, Ronda is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Indiana and loves to travel. She writes to illustrate extraordinary faith among the conflicts of ordinary life.

Read a bonus chapter of her contemporary romance, Harvest of Hope, at www.rondawellsbooks.com.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with personal attacks or attacks on your ministry?

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Our Words Matter

by Marilyn Turk

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. “You’ve probably heard that old adage before. But it’s not true. Words can hurt, perhaps even more than sticks and stones. Bones can usually mend in a matter of weeks, but we can remember hurtful words for years.

Words have power for good or bad. Words can inspire or destroy. They can encourage or tear down. They can bless or curse. They can be instruments of war or of peace. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9 NIV).

The Bible refers to our words, tongue, and mouth over a thousand times, so they must be important to God. We should consider the impact of our words.

Words Can Harm

In the Ten Commandments, we are told to be careful with our words.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7 NIV).

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 NIV).

But there are other ways we can misuse words. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8 NIV). Gossip is defined as sharing information that shouldn’t be shared, whether it’s true or not. How easy it is to get caught up in gossip!

Words can make others angry. Just look at today’s world, and you see evidence of that truth. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).

How many times could situations and relationships be different if someone hadn’t said something offensive to another?

Words Can Benefit

Our words can and should be used for good. Our words can comfort, calm, heal hurts, and encourage others.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV).

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Who wouldn’t prefer to be around someone whose words are gracious, kind, and encouraging?

How does one build others up according to their needs? You can encourage them. The word ‘encouragement’ means “to put courage into.” Many years ago, I ran in a 10k Fourth of July road race. Not being a consistent runner, I was tempted to stop and rest several times during the race. But people were lined up on each side of the road, cheering and encouraging the runners on. Their words like “you can do it,” gave me the courage to continue.

Would you rather hear praise or criticism? Most people prefer praise. Research has shown that it takes five positive comments to counteract one negative one.

Written words can provide the same effect, like when the church of Antioch received a letter from the church in Jerusalem. “The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message” (Acts 15:31 NIV). Don’t you like to get good mail? I do.

To help you use your words wisely, try praying this verse every day:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV

About the author: Award-winning author Marilyn Turk writes historical and contemporary fiction flavored with suspense and romance. Marilyn also writes devotions for Daily Guideposts. She and her husband are lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over 100 lighthouses and also served as volunteer lighthouse caretakers at Little River Light off the coast of Maine.

When not writing or visiting lighthouses, Marilyn enjoys walking, boating, fishing, gardening, tennis, playing with grandkids and her golden retriever Dolly.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Faith, Hope and Love, Word Weavers International, and the United States Lighthouse Society. You can find more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Join the conversation: What will you do with your words today?

Defusing Rage

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NASB

I love my man, Chuck. I do. But sometimes he baffles me.

Like the time he noticed the philodendron in my flowerbed had grown so big it blocked the sprinkler. So Chuck, with his logical, fix-it left brain, hacked it off at its base. He’d somehow missed that the whole point of the sprinkler was to grow the plant big.

Now you have to understand that the flowerbeds are my domain. I carefully nurture every plant, talking and sometimes even singing to them. Don’t laugh. They’re my little green babies. So imagine my horror when I found my gorgeous six-foot philodendron stretched out like a dead body beside the garbage can.

I was so devastated I could barely breathe. I turned to stare at the gaping hole in the row of seven enormous, wondrously healthy philodendrons I had planted and lovingly coaxed to adulthood during the past three years. The one in the middle was missing like a six-year-old’s front tooth. The one by the sprinkler head.

I wept. Then I got mad. I was ready to blast the cold-blooded murderer.

But then I remembered the funeral I’d recently attended, during the heart-melting eulogy, the husband of the deceased praised the way she’d held their marriage together for 58 years and said in a grief-choked voice, “She never looked down on me in all those years – she always looked up at me in respect …even when I didn’t deserve it.”

Whoa. Those words hit me hard. I was so convicted about criticizing my husband – sometimes in my own mind, sometimes out loud – that I vowed to try harder to curb my sharp critique tendencies. My husband didn’t need a finger wagging in his face; he needed respect.

“Lord,” I prayed, “help me understand, not criticize him. I know he was only trying to help. Glue my mouth shut. Morph my wrath into gentleness. Help me appreciate, not blast him.”

So as hard as it was, I swallowed my harsh words. And recited my verse of the month: “Keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 NLT).

Later that afternoon, I went back out to the flowerbed to attempt some damage control. To my surprise, there in the gap next to the stark green stump, stood my listing, drooping philodendron. Chuck had dug a hole and tried to replant the poor rootless thing. He’d even watered it.

I burst into tears again, but this time they were warm tears of gratitude mingled with salty tears of joy. Oh, I knew there was no hope for the philodendron, but the point was that by me not blowing up and instead allowing the Holy Spirit to calm me down, what could have been a marital Mt. Vesuvius … wasn’t.

And because of the Helper’s intervention, Chuck got it. Without feeling criticized or belittled, he got that he’d unwittingly broken my heart and was doing his best to redeem the situation. How can you not love a guy like that?

These days, a rocky marriage is far more common than a marriage that rocks. Discerning intent is crucial when we’re tempted to blast Spouse for something he did that we found hurtful. Perhaps the results of his action turned out badly, but what was his true intention?

Replacing harsh words with gentleness is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Sometimes we need a glue stick instead of lipstick. Thankfully the Lord of rage diffusion is well-stocked.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

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Defusing Rage – encouragement from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: When was the last time the Holy Spirit prompted you to keep your mouth closed?

Words that Last

by Delores Liesner

Have you ever noticed the words we remember the most?  We hopefully will remember the kind words, compliments, and undeserved words of grace. They encourage us and think in wonder that others see God in us despite the truth of our failings.

But there are other kinds of words also stored in our minds– dark whispers, angry shouts, and words that poke like thorns upon remembrance. Words said to us without kindness or grace. Those words are hard to forget.

Yesterday I hurt someone with my words. What I said did not represent what I truly thought of them. I care for that person! I worry those unkind words may well stick in their hearts the same way others’ thoughtless barbs have stuck in mine. I hope my apology and future actions and words can someday override my thoughtlessness.

Ephesians 4:29 tells us to “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” NASB

My first failing was even before the first word came out of my mouth. It was the first word in that verse… I let.  I could have stopped the cruel words before they ever hit the air waves, instead remembering to use life-giving words. Why? Because I did not go to God before I opened my mouth.  I let emotion, not the Spirit, rule my response.

They say hurting people tend to hurt others. I found that true in myself as I lashed out in response to the hurt I was feeling. The irony was, as I spoke unkindly, I actually was stirring up the same emotions in them that would make them want to respond back in anger to me. Choosing that path will never end well.

Practicing giving God control of our tongues involves remembering to stop, ask for grace, and to determine to speak only words that build up. Words that will last in a positive way. Even the hardest truth can be delivered with compassion and grace.

Imagine if we all made Ephesians 4:29 our standard! How different so many of our conversations would be. What if we took a few seconds and asked God to help us season our words with grace? When I remember to ask for God’s perspective, I can see my potentially damaging words for what they are—an emotional reaction. When we determine to follow His lead, an amazing thing will happen: people will respond with grace in return.

Stopping to ask God what we should say next may cause some quiet (and possibly uncomfortable) moments, as He helps us sift out unwholesome communication. But wouldn’t you rather those speaking into your life take the time to remove the thorn before they hand you the rose?

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NIV 

delores liesnerAbout the author: Delores Liesner loves to reveal the dynamic hope and confidence found in the heritage of our personal God. She writes from Racine, WI., is a CLASS graduate, 21st Century Grandma and Life Tales columnist. She has published hundreds of stories and articles. Check out her Amazon Author page!

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Delores’s book, Be the Miracle,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Do you remember a time when your kind words disarmed a potentially damaging conversation?