Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is Venting Biblical? - Unity Within The Body of Christ

I’m honored today to welcome fellow Christian author, Jennifer Slattery, to share a relevant message about unity within the body of Christ. Jennifer has recently released her second novel, “When Dawn Breaks.” Information about this book is at the end of the post.

Welcome, Jennifer!

When wronged, it’s tempting to tell the world about our injustice, although in the Christian community, we like to cloak it as a prayer request, venting, or “seeking wise counsel.”

But is venting biblical or could it, in fact, lead to destructive division in the body of Christ?

29 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.

According to this verse, we need to guard our words carefully, speaking only words that “build others up” and “benefit those who listen.” We must remember it is not about us—our feelings, rights, or vindication. It is about knowing Christ and making Him known.

The greatest way we make Christ known is through love and Christian unity.

Why does Paul urge us to guard our words and purify our hearts? To answer this, we must read a few previous verses:

3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called. (Ephesians 4:3-4) 

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.

When we vent, our goal usually is not to seek peace for the situation, as verse 3 commands, but instead, to make ourselves feel better. But at what cost? Our listener only hears one side, and most often, the “offending party” isn’t given a chance to defend themselves. Because of this, our listener is likely to develop judgments based on what they hear. Unfortunately, the “offending party” often learns of this and becomes uncomfortable around all involved. This creates ripples of disunity that lead to distrust that may be irreparable.

This might be why Jesus laid out clear instructions on how to handle conflict in Matthew 18:15:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

He didn’t say, “Gather your prayer group and rehash the situation.”

Nor did He say, “Vent to your friends so you can ‘get it off your chest’ and feel better.”

No. He admonished us to keep the matter “between the two of you.”

According to Scripture, when wronged, the first thing we must do is address the individual, keeping the matter between us.

If the matter still isn’t revolved, we are to move to the next step.

But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (Matthew 18:16) 

Basically, we are to keep the issue between as few of people as possible, making sure to include the individual. That’s not to say we can’t ask others for prayer nor that we can’t seek advice, but when doing so, we should keep things on a “need to know” basis. Our prayer group probably doesn’t need to know the story. In fact, most times you don’t even need to mention names.

In everything we do, may we put unity and love above all else, guarding our tongue so that we speak words that build up, encourage, and inspire.

What are some ways you’ve put this to practice in your own life, and what were the results? Have you been privy to a prayer-group gossip chain? How did that feel, and what were the results? Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

When Dawn Breaks:

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution motivate her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with a potential conspiracy at work, one that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

You can buy a copy here:

On Barnes and Noble:


Thursday, January 15, 2015

While I'm Waiting

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” I Samuel 1:10-11 

Do you ever have days where you feel like Hannah—praying God would remember you in your misery? Then waiting…and waiting…and waiting for an answer.

You might even wonder—Does God hear me? Is He ever going to fix my situation?

Just as God came through for Hannah (1 Samuel 1:19-20), He will come through for you. His timing is perfect.

Corrie Ten Boom once told a story about asking her father questions that weren’t appropriate for her to know the answers at her age. Her father replied with a question of his own: “When do I give you your train ticket?” She said, “Right before the conductor asks for it.” Her father, in his wisdom, said something like, “Then trust me to give you knowledge when the time is right.”

Our heavenly Father is similar in that we think we have the answers to our problems and in our prayers often include those answers. We’re mystified when the answer doesn’t come in the way or timing we expect. We grow impatient during trials and maybe even start despairing, when all we have to do is trust God to get it right!

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you: therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18 

My latest book, While I'm Waiting, delves into waiting on God to answer prayers. This book originated from some of my blog devotions over the past few years, put together for the first time in a collection. This 31-day devotional will inspire the reader to wait on God patiently and reverently to answer prayers according to His perfect timing. I share some of my struggles, hopefully in a relatable way, to encourage and bring hope even in the most difficult circumstances. The devotions show that it is possible to walk through the valley and not despair while praising God and choosing contentment during trials. As Jim Elliot once said, “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”

While I’m Waiting Kindle version is available on Amazon for 99 cents. A print version will be available in a few weeks. 

Click HERE to purchase.

Endorsements for While I’m Waiting
“Hope. It’s a foundation of our faith, but a difficult concept to live out. Author Laura Hodges Poole understands that, and this devotional gives us the roadmap for the path from despair to hope. She writes from the perspective of someone who has traveled that road. Her honesty and humility draws us in, while her wisdom shows us how living in hope truly is possible. This book will have a coveted place on my bedside table and will be a resource that I return to again and again.”
            ~Edie Melson, Co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and author of Prayers for My Soldier

“Author Laura Hodges Poole knows first-hand about the power of love and the gift of faith. With every inspirational word, she generously shares her innermost self. Laura openly writes about her personal trials and tribulations…the grief of losing her dear sister to suicide and the deep abiding love she has for family and friends. No matter the circumstance, Laura manages to draw from a well of love and hope. She eloquently expresses the depth of her faith and her very intimate relationship with God. Laura has “died to self” and trusts in our heavenly Father to guide her every step of the way. While I’m Waiting gives witness to Laura’s commitment to our loving Creator and her heartwarming devotion to Him.”    
              ~Dolores Ayotte, inspirational author of Up The Down Ladder: Simple Ideas to Overcome Depression and book reviewer