home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > May > EXCUSE ME

A PICTURE IS PAINTED BY A THOUSAND WORDS

Communication experts tell us that the words we use only constitute around 30% of how we communicate. While I’m not sure how they arrived at that figure, it’s easy enough to see what they’re saying from how we communicate without words. For example, we often use our hands to communicate. When a hand is used to wave or make a fist it is communicating two distinct things. A finger on a hand can point at something or another finger can say something not quite as helpful. A frown or a smile also communicates quite different messages. A kiss can communicate different things depending on whether it’s your Grandma or your three-year old daughter or your spouse. Because communication and language involves around 70% non-verbal speech, it is quite tricky to master—and especially so if you want to develop some close relationships. In fact, if you want to learn how to get along with anyone, you must learn how they communicate. And to state the obvious, if you have committed, or ever will commit, yourself entirely to another person, you will soon discover that you both have a “language” that will be at the heart of all of your conflicts. 

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us;
whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
First John 4:6

I’ve been language learning for a number of years. This has included learning Biblical Greek; then, as my theological enquiries have deepened and broadened, I began to learn German some time ago (as many of the most influential theologians in the world are German). If you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language you’ll soon discover that each language has strange expressions that sound nonsensical when translated word-for-word into English. This is certainly the case in both Biblical Greek and German. These odd expressions are known as idioms. The German idiom – “Die Nase voll haben” which in English literally is, “Your nose is full.” But this German expression has nothing to do with having a head-cold, flu symptoms, or even a snuffly nose. It actually means that someone is frustrated and fed-up! This highlights that even if language only consisted of the words we use, it would still be difficult to always understand what someone might really mean when they use an unfamiliar idiom!

“‘This people honors Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me’”
Matthew 15:8

 

GOD HAS A LANGUAGE

For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

The Bible contains the language of God. It also reveals how God communicates – through the world He has made, the lives He has transformed, and His plan of redemption revealed in the Bible. If you want to communicate with God you need to learn God’s language – because language is the means by which you get close to anyone. Perhaps the greatest lesson anyone in a relationship with another person can learn though, is that language is not just, and is far more than, words. When two become close and learn each others language, they recognise that even a look can communicate a lot. God invites His children to look to Him (Ps. 123:2) and as we do He will “counsel us with His eye” (Ps. 32:8). 

¶ I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Psalm 32:8-9

 

EVERYONE HAS A WORDLESS LANGUAGE

Communication experts tell us that there are five levels of communication. Only three of the five levels are word-based and even though words are used in the other two, they are not based on these words. To understand these two particular levels of communication involves being able to read facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and reactions. But it also involves being able hear and understand what is being communicated. From my experience this requires a minimum of 25 years to begin to be able to communicate at these two levels with one other person. It requires patience, trial and error, and a willingness to learn how to apologise. 

¶ Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
First Peter 3:7

 

THE GREATEST PROBLEM YOU’LL THINK YOU’LL EVER FACE IN LIFE

The most difficult challenge you’ll ever have to deal with throughout your life is others. They’ll make you angry, get you frustrated, and hurt you. At the root of these challenges will be miscommunication with others and communication breakdowns. Your ability to understand how language and communication really works could save you from much of this heartache. But the most unrealised — and by far the potentially greatest source of — heartache may eternally shock untold numbers of poor souls when they realise too late that they did not respond to God’s communications.     

 

THE SOLUTION TO OUR GREATEST COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

Communication is not merely about the words we use. The language used in communication often takes the form of our actions, our choices, our attitude, and how we treat others. Our greatest communication breakdown is when we refuse to communicate with God and deliberately choose to distance ourselves from Him.

¶ Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened,
that it cannot save,
or His ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden His face from you
so that He does not hear.
Isaiah 59:1-2

If we pause and reflect on how God has reached out to us, we see that He has sent His Son into our world as a zygote who became a baby. This tells us that God was has taken every effort to us know that He is keen to connect with us with intimidating us. As we reflect on how the Christ-child grew up into manhood in a small village, we see that God was patient in how He communicated with us and not frustrated with us. As we consider how Jesus conducted Himself in defending the vulnerable, the poor, women and particularly widows, we see that God is deeply caring and compassionate toward us. And, especially if we listen to Jesus the Christ and what He taught about God and how to live for God, we will hear that God is kind, merciful, just, willing to save, and our Heavenly Father who offers to adopt us. 

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

Perhaps the clearest thing we would hear from God by reflecting on Christ’s actions, choices, attitude, and how He treated others, is that God invites us to come to Him (Matt. 11:28) and accept His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. All of our objections to accepting His invitation fade away as we come closer. All of our doubts vanish in the light of the truth that gets brighter as we continue toward Him. 

¶ “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 THE MESSAGE

Language is not merely about words. We’ve all heard the expression that a picture paints a thousand words — and while Dr. F.W. Boreham could tell you that a picture can inspire a thousands words, there is actually something uniquely precious about being able to precisely express yourself with just right words. This is why I think this saying needs revising because sometimes it takes ‘a thousand words to paint a [mental] picture’ and a thousand conversations to learn the language of your child or your spouse, and a good deal of time in God’s Word to become familiar with God’s language. If we can begin to learn each other’s language, we might find that each other’s communication picture becomes clearer and easier to see and in the process we may also find those conflicts we’ve become so used to aren’t as common as they once were.

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. Lydia

    I have frost on my lawn. This is a very broad subject, communication, Andrew. Many things come to mind. Looking back over the years communication is indeed the key to solving many problems or potential problems. For instance, if couples both bend the knee before the Lord ‘together’, than irrespective of their differences, they can find unity in Him and then this will naturally flow throughout their lives together. Also. much can be non-verbal as you pointed out. Its not for nothing that Scripture says to not let the sun go down on our anger. In other words, communicate! If you don’t ask you can go every which way with that…The study of another person, the personality of a person, can also throw a spanner in the works unless you take the time to get to know them for yourself. From watching The Chosen, it has made me think deeper of how Jesus worked, how He zeroed in to what was really important. He didn’t worry about what another said or didn’t, he was only concerned with the spiritual state, the heart of the individual. I used to tell my beloved students that we are ALL unique, not two of us on this earth (thankfully), therefore as God’s children we are ALL special in His sight and as you pointed out Andrew, His eye is upon us. I love that quote from The Message…are you tired, worn out etc…come to Me. That is where it is at….And then it says “Keep company with Me and then you will (present tense) learn to live freely and lightly”. Never a truer word spoken. I’ll do my best. Thanks.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.