Today is a treasure to me! I am sitting comfortably in a nice leather sofa typing at my laptop on a beautiful marble-topped coffee-table in one of the most aesthetically pleasing coffee shops I have ever been in my life. I am studying in Credo House Coffee Shop in Edmond Oklahoma. First, this coffee shop is so well designed. I had the good fortune of connecting briefly with an old seminary friend Tim Kimberley, who has played an integral role in this shop. Ironically, Tim worked full-time for web-development at Dallas Seminary while I operated the dining department at Dallas Seminary, including designing and managing Cafe Koine at the seminary. Today, in passing he mentioned the irony of how now he is doing coffee, while I am pastoring, yet what a precious ministry he has to us pastors.
Credo House has an extensive library and a wonderful environment for lay-people and pastors to gather and meet. If you ever find yourself in the Oklahoma City area with a couple of hours to kill, I recommend making Credo House your home away from home for those two hours – enough with the shameless plug.
It’s always fun to be a fly on the wall of others conversations. It may not be socially acceptable to do this, but I do it anyway, especially when I have the privilege to witness robust dialogue on influencers and controversy. Always after a conference, such as the recent T4G conference, there is much to discuss. Sometimes we exaggerate some of the events that occurred at these conferences and sometimes we miss the critical points that are made. What we discourse on after and what falls to the cutting floor of our dialogue much depends on our affection for controversy. I wrote about this recently in another post.
These robust dialogues with associates, friends, and brothers in Christ that we engage in are a joy and a curse at the same time. We might delight in the robust dialogue concerning the Elephant Room controversy now being stirred up by a few bloggers who listened to the BoB12 audio recording. We might be captivated in a discussion about the personality and leadership bent of the influencers from T4G such as Dever, Mohler, and DeYoung, people whom you know when merely their last name is referenced. We might even be ensnared by the ongoing discussion about Covenant Theology vs. Dispensational Theology. Whatever the robust dialogue concerns, it can both be a joy and a curse. It might be a joy because we wrestle and wrangle over God’s truth and learn about our own leadership style or hone our own dogma. Yet, it can be a curse because in these dialogues we are tempted to give into the flesh as we lack discernment on our speech.
In the heat of fine discussion, how can we temper our speech and put to death the flesh. One tactic that I suggest is to ask God to teach me patience, patience with my own immaturity and patience with others immaturity. An even better tactic that struck me this morning as I was reading the Valley of Vision is to ask God to be patient with me. Rather than ask to learn patience, ask to experience the patience of God. In the Evening Prayer, the puritan writes, “O Master, who didst wash the disciples’ feet, be very patient with me, be very condescending to my faults, go on with me till Thy great work in me is completed.” Reminding ourselves of our fleshly nature and asking our loving Father to be patient in itself is a humbling task. This act offers our pride for slaughter, putting to death ourselves. Yet, it is a comforting discipline that reaps rich benefits. When we trust Christ to work in us, we rest in Him. Our rest give of the grace to be aware of our shortcomings and to look for when sin may crouch at the door of our robust dialogue.
Another tactic I have pondered for tempering speech is to keep on keeping God’s word. In John 14 Jesus charges the disciples to keep God’s word and promises that he will reveal himself to that person. Jesus also links love to obedience here. When I submit myself to the word, I will push aside my flesh and love my God, others, and myself. When I place the word before me frequently, I will be more aware of my inclinations towards the flesh. This means that in the heat of discussion, I will be self-aware. I will be aware because I’ve kept the word near, resulting in loving more skillfully. In this same passage, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit and His ministry to us. The Holy Spirit will reveal the riches of the word, especially the Jesus of the word. What an astonishing delight to know that keeping the word will guard my mind and heart from my fleshly impulse in the midst of robust dialogue.