Please read that out-loud to me.

That is a request one pastor makes when people send him an email of criticism or correction. He adds that he wants to make sure he gets the “right tone and emphasis intended”.

Face-to-face communication is usually best, especially when there is critique involved. This was true of handwritten letters and it is even more true with email, and it’s quadruply (not a word, but you get the idea) true for social media responses.

There are two big challenges to communication at a distance:

1.  Our communication may not express the care and respect that was in our heart. A single word can create unintended negativity

2.  Our communication may use abrupt or harsh of language that we would have the sense not to use face to face.

Part of Great Commandment living is to love our neighbor as our self. This requires that we express love in every communication. Remember communication includes not only what we intend to convey, it equally involves how the other person receives it.

Here is some wisdom for electronic communication:

Try not to communicate in the emotion of the moment

Give time before you respond to what others have written to you

Read it aloud to yourself first

Ask yourself, if you would say this face-to-face

Would you say this if someone you respect was there to listen?

Does this communication have the agenda of the gospel in it?

Does this even need to be said?

And if you must respond in a corrective way:

Be prayerful

Be humble

Ask someone else to read it first

Include some form of encouragement

Soften the language as much as possible

Seek clarification, in case you misunderstood them!

Try to present your correction in the form of a question. This helps the other person think about your concern themselves.

You can read the article that inspired this post here.


I have been corrected (rightly so) for sins I have committed.

I have been corrected (rightly so) for careless words or actions that were unintended.

I have also been criticized to my face (and more often behind my back), for actions that were treated as sins, when in reality, my critic simply had a different opinion.

I have been criticized in people’s hearts and to others (without me being present) for reasons that were misinformed, misunderstood, or simply arrived upon by speculation.

None of these situations were pleasant.

Some of these situations were necessary.

But many of these situations were unbiblical.

If there is any lesson we should learn from the aftermath of the recent Presidential Election, it is that there are bad ways to express our disagreement and our disappointment.

As people of the gospel, Christians should have a clear grasp of what is an appropriate expression of disagreement, and what is an inappropriate – or even sinful outflowing of our heart.

What are the guidelines to how you express your disagreement?

Are you careful to make sure you came by your opinions and attitudes by a biblical process?

Has it occurred to you that holding negative opinions about people without valid information is slanderous? Even if you have not spread your opinion, you have slandered that person in your heart.

The famous “Love” passage in 1 Corinthians 13 ends with this description of how love acts:

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”

It would be worth spending a few minutes to consider how this declaration about love should affect the way we think about other people. The Bible is not telling us to ignore the truth about people, but it is instructing us to think the best we can about them. This is “Treating people the way you want to be treated 101″

Accountability is good for the soul, but so is being gracious

For more thoughts on “confrontation”, read this excellent article by Tim Challies as he describes an incident when someone aggressively confronted him after a speaking engagement.



Some time ago, someone in my church sent me an email describing how a dear friend had broken their relationship and was being hurtful toward them. The person who contacted me was not only hurt – they we now struggling with anger.

Since we are all mistreated by people and we will struggle with the hurt and the anger, I hope these thoughts will be a help to you. This I know for sure – God will is there right now to be all you need!


Thank you for sharing your hurt with me. God is pleased when we open up and share burdens with one another. One of the reasons He established His Church is so we can practice biblical community. It is good you have been willing to share your heart. 

It is also good that you recognize the anger struggling to find a foothold in you is something that needs to be drained out. Your conviction in this is not only an evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in you. This is also evidence that your heart is responsive to God which is a wonderful reality about God in you!

Here are a few suggestions for overcoming your hurt and the struggle with anger that has come with it.

1)  Talk to God conversationally and in detail about the whole situation. He fully understands how you feel (think how many people reject and misuse Him every day). Talking openly with people is good – doing this with God is even better. Because He is a real person who loves you, He will care for you as you come to Him.

2)  Go to the gospel! This is where we are meant to find wisdom, grace, strength and comfort. Think about what God did through the gospel for you. Consider what Christ went through. Remind yourself what you now have through the cross. As we so often say at Greentree, “preach the gospel to yourself”.

3)  It may help to recognize that forgiving the person who hurt you doesn’t mean you haven’t been hurt or the situation doesn’t deserve anger. Forgiveness comes from knowing God has forgiven the entirety of our many sins against Him and others. We will always stand forgiven of far more from God than we are called to forgive in others as we see by Jesus story in Matthew 18:21-35.

4)  Put this person and your hurt in God’s hands. Only God can change them. Allow God to be your defender, He will do a better job than we ever could.

Since you continue to be treated in a hurtful way, this is a process you will probably need to repeat multiple times. Be encouraged by Jesus example in Matthew 26:36-44. When he was confronted by the impending burden of the cross, Jesus went to the Father three times, praying the same prayer for comfort and strength. If Jesus went to his Father as many times as he needed, so should we.

5)  In reality, your offender’s actions against you are actions against God. Knowing this helps us replace anger with compassion. This person is responding this way, because their heart is not filled with God. They have no understanding of His deep love for them or His lavish grace available to them. What is missing in this person’s life is not simply sad, it’s tragic.

6)  It will help to pray daily for this person’s salvation. This will help keep their sins against you in the context of their need for grace.

7)  Continue to share your struggle as needed with supportive believers (your small group if you are in one – I hope you are). They will be ministers of God comfort to you and they will pray for you too.

I am thankful for this opportunity to share with you. Know that I am already praying for you. More wonderful is that the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are both ever interceding on behalf of those who love God. I hope you will contact me whenever you feel it would be helpful

I am grateful to be your pastor!




Have you ever disagreed with something done by the leadership of your church?

If you have attended Greentree Church for more than a few weeks, we have probably done something that you questioned, didn’t understand, didn’t like or simply left you scratching your head!

Even though we love our church and we try to be serious about being biblically directed, as leaders we remain flawed and insufficient instruments.

Even when we are acting with correct wisdom, that doesn’t guarantee that every church member is processing their reactions with biblical wisdom.

The church is a gathering of “saints”, but we are all flawed in what we do and how we respond.

For these reasons it is important that in Greentree and every other church, we have a biblical perspective for how to handle questions, conflicts and honest concerns.

Fortunately God “remembers that we are dust”. He gives us grace to work through the struggles we have with one another.

A helpful place to find wisdom for ourselves and life with one another is the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

David Murray offers what he calls two “church transforming” proverbs in this article from the Head, Heart, Hand Blog.

Since we will struggle with one another, it is a wise to know the wisdom God has provided precisely for those moments


“God’s word is worthy of action”

James 1:19-27

James focuses on our speech, listening and anger

He does this out of concern for biblical community

How we listen, is a significant factor in the quality of our relationships

Think about how listening reflects God’s character

Becoming a better listener is one way to imitate God

Listening is a way of showing love for people

Listening is a way of choosing Christ’s agenda for people over our own

In contrast, anger is a significant factor in dividing biblical community

v20 anger produces effects which are opposite of righteousness

Does anger help us think better, listen clearly, show love or build relationships?

In v21 when James says “put away” worldly wickedness, he is not changing subjects

We avoid anger, by getting rid of the worldly behaviors that stimulate it

The world stimulates selfishness, lust, pride and coveting etc. (1 John 2:15-17)

We manage our anger, by managing what influences our heart

Living by God’s word, protects our heart from anger (v21)

God’s word gives us a better perspective about ourselves, life and other people

We are to receive God’s word with meekness

This means we surrender our agenda and submit to God’s will

Biblical meekness is not weakness; it takes strength through the Holy Spirit

God’s word is to be “implanted” in us

Implanting God’s word is to be shaped and guided by it

Do we implant God’s word in our family schedule and priorities?

James presents the big picture principle (vs 22-25)

We are to live out God’s word!

The word has been set before us: we read it and hear it preached

And God wants us to behave according to that word

What does it mean to be a Doer of the word”?

1.  A doer thinks about what the Bible says

James is not urging us to blind action, he is calling us to biblically informed action

2.  A doer measures their life against what the Bible says

We should compare how we live to what the Bible says

We sift our lives by God’s word and we “put away” the debris v21

3.  A doer submits to what the Bible says

We “receive” it, which means we say “yes” to it

Do we acknowledge that God’s word has authority over our life?

Do we try to debate the merits or relevance of God’s word?

4.  A doer takes action according to what the Bible says

Our life is to be conducted in response to God

5.  A doer does all that the Bible says 

Christ is our Lord!  We do not have the right to pick and choose our areas of obedience

Being a complete doer includes the attitude we have in our ‘doing’

If we think being a hearer is enough, we are “deceived”! (v22)

James compares it to looking in mirror without remembering what we see (vs 23-24)

What benefit is there to looking in a mirror, if we cannot remember what we see?

The reason our church emphasizes real commitment in church membership and participation in small groups, is to help us move beyond being mere hearers of sermons

If we settle for being a hearer we also defraud ourselves!

God’s Word is “perfect”! It protects and it blesses (v25)

God’s word is not arbitrary or abstract; it is the best wisdom available

Why will heaven be wonderful? Because the perfect law of God will rule all things

James returns to specific behaviors in vs 26-27

James doesn’t want us to walk away, saying “Amen” to his instructions without having a plan of action

So he reminds us that Christianity is real when it bears the fruit of Holiness and Love

Does God’s word call us to action that you know you have been ignoring?

Is the Holy Spirit pressing your heart about steps of obedience?

Be a doer of God’s word – your life will be blessed and fruitful


We away this week, sadly leaving our (excited) baby girl at Moody Bible College in the heart of downtown Chicago

So, this week Well-Rooted will feature links to helpful articles from other bloggers

Today’s featured article is from the Blazing Center blog:

“6 Questions to Ask Ourselves in Conflict”


The Wall Street Journal had a good article by Elizabeth Bernstein, on the subject of nagging entitled “Meet the Marriage Killer”.  The author wrote,”It’s more common than adultery and potentially as toxic, so why is it so hard to stop nagging?”

The article which is not written from a Christian perspective, has some helpful thoughts on why we nag and what to do differently. It should not be difficult for a believer to see how basic biblical principles can further strengthen the suggestions the author’s suggestions. You can read it here.


One of the sorrows of living in this world, is that we all seem to make enemies in life. They may not be “I hate your guts and want to ruin your life” type of enemies, but the relationship is soured and they prefer not to interact with us. None of this is what God intended.  One of my favorite thoughts about heaven, is that there will not be ANY conflict or strained relationships there.

As much as possible, we should seek to bring God’s Kingdom values into our practices of life. So how do we respond to our “enemies”?  The Heart and Hand blog has an interesting article entitled “Turn Haters Into Friends, Ask Them For A Favor”. You can read it here


This helpful article entitled “How to Disarm An Angry Person”, was the most read blog post of 2010 on the Christian, Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) blog.  We all are faced with this scenario from time to time (perhaps for you it is a regular event), so the article is definitely worth reading here.



The Biblical Counseling blog recently had an excellent short article by Brad Hambrick, that guides our understanding of anger in a very practical manner.  Click here to read the article