Swept Away Retreat, Honoring God

As I stated in my previous post, I love conferences and retreats because of how they allow us to pull away from life and focus on God and fellowship with our family of believers.  If you’ve never been to one, they are often based on a theme for the general sessions.  Then, there are often breakaway sessions where you can get a little more personal in a smaller group. These sessions may be related to the theme, or offer additional topics.

I am a person who likes to take full advantage of these events, and soak in as much information as possible.  But, you can usually only sign up for a few topics and will have to pick and choose wisely.  When you are a presenter as well, then it means you have even less options.   This past weekend’s event included topics like coping with loss and sharing your faith, as well as personal testimonies.  I presented on a topic that is dear to my heart, the pursuit of knowledge.   The session I attended was about honoring God with our words.

sweptawayretreat

This couldn’t have been more perfect timing, since just last week I was reflecting on my propensity for sarcasm.   So, I’m going to start my personal recap on that session first.

Honoring God with Your Words

The first thing I wanted to point out, and I think this something we all need to hear, is that our speaker spoke from her own struggle. Too often when we have an opportunity speak on a subject, we will begin to disqualify ourselves based on our personal failures.  Yet, the best speakers do not speak on subjects that they never had trial with.  NO!  They speak on the subjects they overcame (or are in the process of).  Our speaker shared how this was an area that God had been working on in her life.  What I also appreciated is that she quantified that statement with the fact she had struggled with it for YEARS, God had been working on it in her for YEARS, and she still had more work to come.

The second thing I wanted to point out is that her presentation was almost entirely based on scripture.  She put the effort into finding the scriptures on the subject, and even shared how she went about it.  She was pointing us all toward the process of seeking God’s word on a subject, over our own opinions or how the world wanted us to view the subject.

We were given a two sided paper, each side had four columns.  On one side the columns were the ways that we use our words in a God honoring way, but on the other side were the ways we use our words in a way that does NOT honor God.  I don’t think there was a single woman in our session that didn’t feel the sting of conviction.    We began talking about the dishonoring ways.

Lies:  Proverbs 6:2, Ezekiel 13:8, John 8:44, and Proverbs 19:5

Gossip:  Proverbs 18:8, Proverbs 16:28, Romans 1:29-30a, Proverbs 20:19

Quarrels:  Psalm 64:3, Psalm 55:21, 1 Timothy 6:4, Proverbs 21:19

Long Winded Speech:  Proverbs 10:19, Ecclesiastes 5:3, Ecclesiastes 6:11, Job 11:3

I couldn’t help but recognize how conditioned we are to lying, that society has created acceptable levels of lying.  Or, how prone women are to get caught in gossip or quarreling over ridiculous subjects.  For myself, I noticed that I am prone to sarcasm in ways that do not honor God or my relationships… or an inability to know when better to stay quiet.  I also realized how threaded together each of these categories are when our speaker pointed out how women have difficulty with awkward pauses or silences.  We tend to speak when we shouldn’t, to fill the void.  The words we speak to fill up that space are often peppered with lies to be relevant, gossip to make conversation, sarcasm or inappropriate humor or harsh words about our husbands and children.

There is a reason so often in the scriptures we are warned to guard our mouths, that the tongue is referenced as a weapon, or that we need to avoid foolish quarrels….

Words cut, and they cut deep.  Words betray our heart.  We can put on a mask, an illusion of who we are… but when the words start flowing it’s really easy to begin to see the real person and their intentions.

We have a responsibility in how we use our words, our words should be pleasing to God.

After the sting of conviction, we were able to turn the page and begin to find freedom and comfort in His Word.  God tells us exactly what He wants our words to be.

Words of Praise:  Psalm 34:1, Psalm 71:23, Psalm 35:28, Deuteronomy 32:3

Words of Wisdom:  Proverbs 16:23, Proverbs 12:18, 1 Peter 4:11, Proverbs 17:28

Words of Encouragement:  2 Corinthians 13:11, Job 16:5, Acts 15:32, Job 4:4

Words of Commission:  Matthew 28:19-20a, John 4:41, 1 Peter 3:1, Philippians 2:11

When our words honor God we are blessing Him, and those around us.  Our words are beautiful, and reflect the heart of a daughter redeemed by her King.  They are uplifting, prayerful, thankful, intentional, purposeful, do no harm, sincere, put us in our place in His plan, open doors, and put Christ first.

How much greater is our testimony when we speak of love over condemnation.  How great is our witness when we are lifting others up instead of our own self?  How perfect is our love, when we choose to see the best in others and encourage them as they walk forward?  How many doors do we open when our words are welcoming instead of divisive?

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.”  —- Luke 6:45

You can view our speakers hand out here: Swept Away: Honoring God with your Words

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This weekend, I will conclude this recap with my presentation on Pursuing Knowledge in Changing Tides, from the Swept Away Women’s Retreat.

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