KEYWORDS: lord, people, love, words, things, term

Shooting Straight, Part 14--Letter Links: Communication Check

April 12, 2005

(ML #3538‚ GN 1129)

FD/MM/FM September 2004

Watch Your Words

ML #2849, DB 11

1. (Mama:) Today when I was listening to the Teen Inspiration Video songs & I thought about the title the Video Ministry had suggested, "New Worlds to Conquer," all of a sudden it occurred to me—& I never ever thought of this before—that the word "conquer" is almost as bad a word nowadays as "gypsies"!

2. That's also why I had a real serious reservation about using the song "Mountain Children" on this tape, because of the very very bad reputation of gypsies, & why when they first suggested that song quite a while ago, I left it off the list. Some people had wanted to use it because it's such a good song for dancing & for portraying our free spirit—& that is certainly true, but I just had real serious reservations about it because of the World's negative perception of gypsies. So I sent a message to one of our Units to pow-wow it, & they were all unanimous that it should not be used, mostly for that reason. Europeans & many people throughout the World have a very bad taste in their mouth when it comes to gypsies because so many of them are thieves‚ prostitutes & criminals. They've been forced into it, of course, but the fact remains that they don't have a good reputation.

3. Now what does "conquer" mean to the World? That word definitely means a use of force, for one thing, often with weapons, & usually the big mighty power taking possession of the small, weak‚ helpless one. More & more today it has a very bad connotation. When the World uses the term "conquer‚" this is usually what they mean. So if they hear the term "New Worlds to Conquer," what they will picture will be the takeover of these new worlds by physical, carnal weapons, where there is shooting & wounding & killing & overpowering by physical force.

4. When we say that we are going to have "New Worlds to Conquer," we, of course‚ mean something entirely different: Namely‚ that we are going to win these new worlds by the Love of God, win their hearts & minds & spirits because they want to be won, because they see that Love is the best way to do things & is the best thing for them & has their best interests at heart.—That Love is the most powerful weapon in the Universe; that unlike other weapons, it does not hurt, but heals & helps. However, there's not much use in our talking to someone about "conquering" new worlds & expecting them to know what we mean. All they are going to know is what they mean.

5. This is an important lesson in communication! We can talk all we want to about a lot of wonderful things, but unless we help people to understand exactly what we mean, they may be getting everything all wrong, because they will be interpreting everything by their own meanings. To effectively communicate, both parties have to assign the same meanings to words; they have to define words & concepts the same way or they cannot effectively communicate. Instead, they will have serious misunderstandings because one person defines a word one way & another person another way, so actually they're not talking about the same thing‚ but instead two different things.

6. It's very important that we make ourselves clear as to exactly what we mean. If there is any chance that the person to whom we are speaking will not understand our terminology, we should either define it the way we are using it, or use another term that will better express what we mean & will be given the same definition by both us & the person we're talking to.

7. No matter how much we may like our terminology & like to talk about "conquering" & fighting battles for the Lord etc.‚ it's not going to do us much good to use these terms with outsiders unless they understand exactly what we mean when we use them. In fact, it may just turn them off. However, if we define these terms or use terms that are understandable to them, we can present them with our alternative, that is, winning by Love, & turn them on to something far better & greater than overpowering by hate & cruelty & force.

8. The worldly concept of "conquering" is a hateful, angry, cruel one, where victory is won at the expense of people's lives. We "conquer" in a totally different way—by Love. However, since this is such a strange new concept to people, it has to be thoroughly explained to them, & even then, because they are so used to their meaning of the word "conquer," it is a bit difficult for them to assign an entirely contradictory meaning to the word. It is more advantageous that we change our word "conquer" to conform to something that outsiders can more readily understand, or just not use that terminology at all! We can tell them what we are doing without using their worldly terms, which they define as terms of force & hate & cruelty.

9. So in our song "New Worlds to Conquer," we could change the word "conquer" to something like "win with love," which would be getting closer to a meaning that both we & the World would understand in the same way. However, even the term "love" is looked upon much differently by the World than it is by us. If we don't explain that it is God's Love, they automatically look at love as being something very fleshly, very carnal & even selfish. So even in our talking or singing about love, we need to make it as clear as possible what kind of love we're talking about‚ that it is God's Love, & how that Love is manifested. In a song it's very difficult to explain every term you use, so if there is apt to be some misunderstanding, it's better not to use the term at all.

10. If the point of this entire song was to explain about winning the World with God's Love, then we would have to find a suitable substitute for the word "conquer." However, the point of the song & the reason for this song is to help people to see that Heaven isn't a boring, unchallenging place after all, it is a place of much excitement, thrills & wonderful challenges, so there really is no reason to have to use the term "conquer" at all, or even another word or phrase that means the same thing.

11. Anyway, the whole idea of spreading God's Love throughout the Universe & being His ambassadors & the whole "definition" of our use of "conquer" is right there within the song already, so we don't really need to put a label on it. Therefore it is not so important to retain the word "conquer" or even change it to something that means the same thing. The word "discover" is much more in keeping with the whole tone of the song & the excitement & challenges & thrills of Heaven. It better supports the theme of the song.—"New Worlds to Discover!"

12. It's up to us‚ it's our responsibility to make clear what we mean. We can't expect people to read our minds‚ & unless we teach them our meanings of the System terms we use, all they are going to know is the worldly definition‚ & that term might be negative in their minds, like "gypsies" & "conquering" things. In this case, we have assigned a positive meaning to the term "conquer" as it applies to us & our life, whereas the worldly definition of the word has a completely different meaning.

"Love" Can Be Misunderstood

13. The word "love," as I pointed out above‚ is also subject to various interpretations, & that's why unfortunately we have had to tone down our expressions of love to the general public & be much more cautious & wise in our usage of "I love you," & not have all our little teen girls looking adoringly into the eyes of every man they meet & telling them, "I love you!" While we know that we're talking about the Lord loving them through us, they have no idea that this love has anything to do with the Lord, & of course they define it as they always do, as a very fleshly, carnal, sexual thing. (Dad uses the expression in his "Somebody Loves You" tract, but makes it very clear what he means.)

14. So in order to keep from being misunderstood, we need to use other words to describe how we feel, & we have to more clearly & specifically define the kind of love we're talking about. We should try to make it very clear from the beginning that it is God Who loves them because He gave His Son for them & wants to save them, & pretty much leave references to us personally loving them out of our conversation.—Not because there's anything wrong with us loving them—we do love them—but because they cannot understand the way we define this love‚ & they take it differently than we mean it. We have to be more specific & use terms that will help them to understand more clearly what we're talking about.

15. It's part of our job to learn to effectively communicate with people if we want to get our Message of Love across to them. We will have to learn to say it in words that will accurately convey to them what we mean. If the words we are using do not do that, we will have to find some other phraseology or some other terms. It's not their fault that they misunderstand. We have one idea & we know what we mean, but we can't expect them to read our minds.

16. Sometimes we can't help offending people. If we've done all we can to explain ourselves & they know exactly what we mean & they are still offended by it, we have to go on preaching our Message anyway, & not worry about what they think of us or if they like our Message or not. But before we label them as "unreceptive" or "not sheepy" or "goats," we'd better be sure that they understand what we mean & that they're not just getting the wrong interpretation of what we're saying to them.

17. If we're going to say something that they're going to be offended by just because we haven't explained ourselves, then we can't blame it on them. We can't just stubbornly insist, "We're going to use this term because we know what it means & we like it, & they should like it too!" Well, nobody's taught them to like it, & all they know is the worldly meaning & the meaning that is negative in their minds, like the words "gypsies" & "to conquer."

"Ruling & Reigning"

18. Also, I don't think it would hurt in this song to change the term "rule & reign‚" because again it is a concept like "conquer," which if not given a little more explanatory context, might evoke a negative response in some people or leave a question in their mind about what we mean by "ruling & reigning." In our other songs, I think it explains it better & you have more of the background & the context of it, & it's obvious that God is ruling the Earth with Love & we're going to help Him because we love people. It's a rule of Love for their benefit & not for their hurt or harm.

19. However, this term "rule & reign" doesn't actually need to be in this particular song, since the major idea of the song is that "Heaven's going to be a 'groovy place', not like the stuffy, boring one that you have imagined it to be!" And the term "rule & reign" does not really support this idea, since for most people "ruling & reigning" would sound like a lot of very hard work that probably would not appeal to them in the least, or if it did, it would be for some very selfish, lustful motive. So I don't mind taking out the words "rule & reign" from the song "New Worlds to Conquer," because the whole point of this is to show that Heaven is great & we're going to be ambassadors of Love & spread the Lord's Love, & we don't have to throw in this foreign concept, & what is to the World a rather negative one, before we've more fully prepared their hearts for what the term "rule & reign" means.

20. People in today's World have been brainwashed against the monarchy, against kings & queens, against absolute rule, against dictatorship of any sort! They've even gotten rid of most kings & queens today, & most of the ones who are left are only figureheads. The ones who do have some real power are pretty much maligned by the rest of the World‚ & everything possible is done to unseat them from power in favor of a "democratic" form of government.

21. So the term "ruling & reigning" has a very bad connotation to people today, like overpowering someone else, forcing them to submit their will to you.—A lot like "conquering." The problem is similar in that what we mean by both terms is different than what the World means. However, even when the World understands what we mean by "rule & reign"—in other words, to rule with love & in kindness & consideration & concern for others—they will often still not like the idea of being "ruled."—Not only because they've been brainwashed against it, but because of their own sinful, rebellious natures that are antagonistic to the idea of submitting to authority.

22. That concept is throughout all of our songs, because God is the Great Ruler of the Universe & we certainly can't & don't want to hide that fact. But today "ruling & reigning" has such a bad connotation, like overpowering someone else. Of course‚ the "conquering" idea is very much in "Across the Sky‚" to conquer the evil & right the wrongs, but in that song it's really clear what we're talking about. I think most people would agree with it, as bad as the World is getting‚ & they wish somebody would conquer the evil & right the wrongs. So we're explaining what we mean & it's very clear, & I think the usage there is fine.

23. People are just really getting very antagonistic to the concept of ruling or being ruled. I'm sure it's the Devil, of course, doing it all, because his ultimate goal is to get them not to accept the sovereignty of the Lord & not to yield to the kingship of the Lord. So he's getting them to be against this idea so they'll be more & more reluctant & rebellious towards submitting themselves to the Lord & submitting their will to the Lord.

24. Look at how women are acting with men today‚ almost like they hate them, unwilling to take anything from them. The Devil is coming out against every form of domination of any kind, just to get people to be rebellious against the Lord. That's his ultimate goal in king/subject relationships, employer/employee relationships, husband/wife relationships, teacher/student—every kind! Nobody wants to be told what to do, nobody wants to be ruled, nobody wants to be dominated in any way!

25. Nobody wants to be a little less equal than anybody else, & it's getting to be a very very big deal & a very very big problem in the World. The Blacks won't work as servants to the Whites any more. In fact‚ they won't work anywhere under them, they want to be over them! And the women don't want to work under the men, & children don't want to work under their parents, & nobody wants to obey anybody!

26. It's really a big deal now, & all Hell is breaking loose! Everybody just wants to do their own thing & not have anyone rule over them‚ much less the Lord! But that's where we have to draw the line! We can't just leave that idea out, because that's the main thing the Lord wants them to do & that we're trying to get them to do‚ to submit to the Lord & His Love & yield their life to Him. So we can't erase that concept & idea just because they don't like it!

27. They don't like a lot of things we do & a lot of things we present, but our job is to show them that God is a God of Love, & they're better off being ruled by Him in Love than not being ruled at all.—And that even though the kings of this World may be tyrants & despots & everything they've been taught to hate, God is different & He is a God of Love, & He rules in Love & they don't have to fear that.—In fact, it's good for them. But we have to make it clear when we tell them how God rules & how He conquers, & we need to explain what we mean by those terms‚ that it isn't like the World's show of force & despotic, unkind rule.

Finding System Substitutes for Family Terms

28. In the making of our new Interview Videos, I agree with the point that some others have brought up, that we're going to have to change some of our teens' way of expressing themselves in Family "lingo" & substitute some more relatable terms in order for the System to understand.

29. Some terms we'll need to be careful about are "chasten," "chastise‚" "discipline" & "correct." I'm not saying we shouldn't use any of these terms, but we need to really consider what they mean to the System & try to use terms that the System will understand. Most of our corrections of our teens are more like counseling sessions, & in some cases it might be better to use the word "counseling" than "correction." "Chasten & chastise" can be quite severe terms in the System's eyes, & even "discipline" sounds pretty bad to some nowadays.

30. So I agree that it would be good to write down a list of words that we need to come up with alternatives for, or System substitutes, so that the System will understand what we're talking about when we talk about chastisement or chastening, for example. I'm sure there are lots of words in our vocabulary that don't mean the same to us as they do to the System. Therefore we can't use them, otherwise the System will think we mean something different than we do. (—Try Training.—D.)

31. The term "forsaking all" is another one that might be wiser not to use with the System. I know we've been saying it for years & years, but now with our emphasis on presenting ourselves to the System in a more palatable & understandable way, we're seeing that we definitely need to change our presentation of some things. I think we need to find a better term for "forsake all" or "forsaken all." In the System, the word "forsake" has a rather negative connotation. If you forsake your son or your daughter you're abandoning them‚ deserting them‚ & it's looked upon as something very bad.

32. I wonder if we should instead use the term "giving up everything." That connotes a sacrifice on the part of the person doing it instead of a wrong done to someone else. To most people, it seems much more commendable to give up everything than to forsake something, so you would say, "All of our members have given up everything to dedicate themselves to the Lord's Work." Don't you like this better & don't you think there is a difference? Don't you think that "given up everything" has a better meaning in the System's eyes than "forsaken all"?

33. I'm not saying that we cannot quote the beautiful Scriptures on "forsaking all," neither am I saying that we should never use this term with the System. However‚ if we do use the term "forsaking all," then along with it I think we should explain in System terms what this means.—That it's not a light-hearted, merry, casual abandonment of everything valuable & of everyone who depends on us, but it's a very serious & well-considered decision which usually causes us much heartbreak & sacrifice in order to carry out Jesus' command to "go into all the World & preach the Gospel to every creature." And though the things we give up may be very important to us & dear to us, we feel that our obedience to God must supersede our own personal wishes & desires. We can explain that He has promised He will reward us for our sacrifices & more than repay us for what we have given up.

34. So what I'm saying is that I'm not against using our Family or Scriptural terminology in our witnessing to give outsiders a little sample of our Family way of life & way of looking at things, & to be in keeping with the terminology that appears in many of the verses we use while witnessing. However, if we do this, we need to make sure we define our terms or that the people understand what we're talking about. So when you use a term that people may not understand, you need to say, "That's our term for so–&-so." For example, if you use the term "Romans" for the police, you would say, "Oh, that's our term for the police, because in the Bible....", which could lead into a very good Bible study!

35. So just try to always think about the person to whom you are speaking or witnessing‚ & try to relate to them & put yourself in their place. Talk to them in a way they can understand & this will make it much easier for them to accept what you have to say. There will be some people, of course‚ who will never accept it no matter how well they understand, but at least then you've done everything you can to reach them. So use words they can understand, situations they can relate to, reasons they can comprehend.

36. For example, if they ask you, "Why do you live communally?" don't just stop at explaining that the reason we live communally is because we believe in following the sample of the early believers in Acts 2:44 & 45. This might be a little difficult for people to understand. But you can explain it to them further & tell them that it makes our work more efficient when we can all live together & work together. Tell them it also helps us economically‚ & in these times of recession when several families band together, they can live much more economically than they could otherwise. We've been doing this for 20 years, but now many other people are doing the same thing, as they see that they can't make it any other way & they're being forced to do what we have done voluntarily. So again, the principle of "explain, explain" is wise to follow. God bless you with good communication & wise witnessing!

When Ye Pray, Use Not Vain Repetitions

ML #2914, DB 12

(Mama's talk to some of the leadership & staff members, 11/92:)

1. WHAT I'm about to bring to your attention is a small point that may not seem very important to us, but can be quite a turn-off for outsiders. Many of you do it & it seems to be a bad habit‚ which, however, can be broken with some effort & prayer.

2. Many of you have gotten into the habit in your prayers of repeating the name "Jesus" or "Lord" as a filler, to fill up the space between phrases & sentences when you're pausing to think about what you're going to say next. Instead of just pausing & not saying anything, you repeat "Jesus" or "Lord," & it can almost become a "vain repetition."—Mat.6:7.

3. For outsiders it can seem overdone & strange, & it's something that we should try to eliminate. If we're "persecuted for righteousness' sake"—for witnessing & standing up for our convictions—that's one thing. But if we're looked upon as strange & fanatical for things that are our own fault & of our own making, that's not good.

4. We should try to get out of that bad habit & try to limit ourselves & really think about why we use "Jesus" & "Lord" so many times when we're praying. Do we actually need to address Him by name that often?—Or are we just doing it to fill up space? Regardless of how we say them & what words we use‚ most of our prayers are heartfelt & sincere, & when we pray with outsiders, often they feel God's Spirit & are touched. However, it is very possible that some may be more turned off than turned on, focusing more on the "strange way" you address the Lord, which, God forbid, might give some the impression of a mindless robotic chant.

5. For the sake of showing you how it would sound, let me give you an example. If I were talking to Peter & were to use his name in the conversation as often as some of you use the Lord's name when talking to Him, it would sound a little like this: "Peter, I'm going to tell you what I want you to do, Peter. And I know you'll do it well, Peter, because I know you love the Lord & you try to do your best, Peter. So please don't worry that you'll make mistakes, Peter. All of us make mistakes, Peter. But you really don't need to worry about it, Peter‚ because the Lord will help you, Peter," etc.! We don't talk to others like this, & we should try to break the bad habit of talking to the Lord in this manner.

6. Now I suppose that all of a sudden you'll all start feeling self-conscious when you pray & think that everybody is going to be counting the times you use the Name "Jesus" or "Lord," & you may be right!—But this is something you'll have to endure for a while in order to overcome this habit. The self-consciousness will probably go away soon, as you get the hang of praying without so much repetition. A normal amount is fine, & we don't want you to go to the opposite extreme & not use His Name at all in speaking to Him. Some of you do just fine & don't need any change. However, I think you can tell when it starts getting to be so much that it distracts from the prayer.

7. We need to be a bit more aware of what we say in our public prayers & try to use the Lord's name meaningfully, & not just to fill in a pause. Many of us are guilty of this or have been in the past, & those not guilty of this are guilty of other things, so don't anybody point the finger at anybody else. Let's just try to make sure that we're not using the Lord's name in vain, & let's try to teach our children the same.

(Message to Peter & Gary at Summit '93:)

8. Peter & Gary, your opening meeting was beautiful! I listened to the whole thing! Your talks were well expressed! I could sense that they were inspired. Your prayers were beautiful too, & I noticed that you did not overuse the words "Jesus" & "Lord." Good for you!

9. By contrast, the magazine interview that one of our Members recently gave included a prayer that was full of the names "Jesus" & "Lord," which may have been one thing that this reporter was turned off by. It's amazing how things that seem small to us may have a significant negative effect on others.—Little habits, little gestures, little words‚ little idiosyncrasies. This dear Family Member repeated "Jesus" & "Lord" so many times that it sounded almost robotic!—Even to me. It made me cringe. It sounds almost meaningless, a little like a hypnotic chant. To outsiders it must sound very strange.

10. This is an area where outsiders can have a legitimate criticism of us, & I believe the Family should work hard on breaking that habit of filling every little space at the end of a phrase with the word "Lord" or "Jesus" just because there's a pause there & they don't have anything else to say while they're thinking of the next phrase. Therefore‚ I was very happy to hear your prayers, & happy not to be too distracted by constant unnecessary repetition.

11. (1/94:) Dear Family‚ if you were to hear conversations where somebody repeats the person's name to whom they're talking over & over & over, it would sound quite strange. And while you like to have people say your name in conversation, if it's as constant as some of us say "Jesus" & "Lord" in our prayers‚ it would get to be too much & turn you off!

12. I've been reluctant to bring this to your attention because I know that this is such a habit with many of us, & I know it's going to be hard to break. Also, I know that if we caution you about it, you're all going to be self-conscious about your prayers, & those of you who can break the habit more easily & quickly may become critical of those who can't. However, since we are having much greater contact with those outside our communities, it has become much more important now for us to set a good example in all that we do, & not be lazy or negligent when dealing with the precious hearts & minds of those the Lord brings to us. We want to do everything we can to "make it easy for them to be good" by showing them that dedicated Christians are not weird, are not sloppy in their speech habits, & are good samples in their communication with the Lord & with others.

13. Moreover, we want to help them to feel comfortable with us & not like they have landed in a strange Eastern religion with unusual prayer rituals that cause them to focus more on the "vain repetitions" than our sincere communication with our loving Heavenly Father. There are certainly many things about the Family that they may already consider strange & "foreign"—things that are very different from what they are used to. Where this is unavoidable & a necessary part of our lifestyle & beliefs‚ such as continual open prayer & praise in all that we do, the Lord can help them overcome these differences. However, we should make an effort to eliminate any strange or different habits or customs that are not necessary & only make it difficult for folks to relate to us & feel comfortable around us.

Improving Our Speech Habits!

14. Another one that comes to mind is answering everything with "Amen!" Most folks outside our Homes have only heard "Amen" used as an ending to a prayer, not a substitute for the word "yes." So I suggest that we try to eliminate this usage of "Amen!" from our speech also. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the way we use "Amen!" amongst ourselves. However, if this causes folks to stumble, would it not be much better to try to eliminate this habit?

15. In religious meetings or church services, it is perfectly acceptable to "Amen!" the speaker or preacher or a person who is publicly praying. This is commonly accepted terminology for religious affirmations. However, in normal everyday speech about non-religious things, when you agree with statements or questions being asked, you should respond with a "Yes" instead of an "Amen!" For example, if Auntie Mary asks you if you got your Get-Out today‚ you should answer her with a "Yes, ma'am," not an "Amen!"

16. You might want to discuss other word usages or wordings that are not necessary & would be best to purge from our conversation. In no way should we water down our convictions or compromise things that are commandments of the Lord or cornerstones of our faith. But it's amazing, when we examine ourselves closely, what "extra baggage" of bad speech habits or Family slang we can come up with that is just an added weight & not a good sample to others.

17. For example, there are certain favorite words or phrases which we use repeatedly in our daily conversation which are non-essential & which clutter up our speech & distract from the point we are trying to make. Most of them could be omitted entirely without replacement, & some could be replaced with a more interesting & more precise word. Check yourself to see if you overuse any of the following: Really (that one's a favorite!), super, just, like, well, so, I think, I mean, uhh, actually, okay‚ you know.

18. There is nothing wrong with using these words once in a while. However, it's when you start overusing them that you give the impression that your vocabulary is inadequate, or what you have to say is not important & needs to be propped up with all kinds of superfluous wordings. Start watching out for the word "really." When you write a letter, go back & see how many of those you could eliminate without changing the meaning one iota.

19. We use "really" as a verbal exclamation mark, when the words we are modifying are powerful enough in their own right. Something "huge" doesn't need to be described as "really huge."—It can't get any "huger"! "Huge‚" by definition, means "really big." Something magnificent is just as great as you can imagine. And "really" can't make it more "magnificent." "Wonderful" can't get any better; it doesn't need "really" to enhance its meaning. "Tremendous" already means "really great," therefore you do not need to say "really tremendous."

20. I'll confess, I'm guilty of many of these superfluities too, & I know you could go through my Letters & find plenty of examples! But please don't do it because I don't want to reinforce the negative. I'm trying to clean up my speech, too‚ along with you!

21. There are times when we use words that we would like modified to show the degree either of size or intensity or weight or feeling. Sometimes it's not enough to say, "It's cold‚" you want to show how cold, & then it would be perfectly legitimate to say‚ "It's really cold," or, "It's very cold‚" or‚ "It's extremely cold." Or, when it's not enough to say, "I feel sick," then you need to say, "I feel really sick," or‚ "I feel very sick." Or, "I feel quite sick." You may want to say more than, "You're pretty." So you say, "You're really pretty." But even here, how about putting a little variety in your speech by saying, "You're very pretty!" If you are going to say, "It's really a tough situation to be in," instead say, "It's certainly a tough situation to be in." Or, "It is definitely a tough situation to be in." Or, "It's surely a tough situation to be in," or, "It's an extremely tough situation to be in."

How to Start!

22. So here's a new assignment: See how many words you can eliminate from your conversations that are unneeded‚ & how many words you use frequently that you could replace with other words. Why not get a thesaurus & learn some substitutes—some synonyms? Have a challenging time working on your language skills, cleaning up the clutter & making what you say more precise & interesting. You don't have to be complicated, you don't have to use big words. Your speech can be simple, yet clear & interesting. Look at how simply Jesus spoke, yet with what power He moved the World! No excess material there, just enough.—Simple but beautiful. Why not try it? Communication is our job, let's do it well.

23. Folks you hear on TV may not speak any better than you do‚ but they don't have the important job that you do. Other Christians' prayers may leave much to be desired also, but most of them are not trying to reach the World like you are. Regardless of what other Christians do, our prayers need to be good examples of clear, confident communication that highlights our link to Heaven rather than emphasizing strange speech habits. We pray a lot with outsiders who are not churchy & not Christians. It bothers me & it grates on me when I hear so much repetition, so I'm sure it certainly must bother people who aren't used to prayer at all. Prayer itself is foreign to the unsaved, & if they hear prayer with so much repetition‚ it may turn them off more than it may help them. They may end up focusing on that & being critical of that & feeling it's strange, & may not get the benefit that they need to get from the prayer.

24. I'm sorry that I didn't say something about this earlier. I've been a little discouraged about trying to change things that have been habits for so many years. We've tried with a few things, like attempting to teach some of our people the proper usage of "lay & lie" & "bring & take‚" but it hasn't always been successful. (More on correct usage coming in a Hope mag, God willing.)

25. So trying to eliminate some "Lord's" & "Jesus's" from our prayers may be very difficult, because it's become such a habit, & in order to break that habit we will have to initially think about every sentence we say in our prayers.—And that's too bad, because it may take away from the Spirit or spontaneity a bit‚ at first. You can't just abandon yourself to the Lord & think about Him & pour out your heart to Him if you're having to think about consciously overcoming your bad habit!

26. It doesn't matter a bit to the Lord or to us what you say or how you say it, if you love Jesus & are sincerely trying to communicate with Him. But your prayers aren't just for the Lord & the Family‚ the Lord wants them to be a help to outsiders also. In order to do that effectively, you are going to have to ask the Lord to help you to overcome this. I hate to put people on the spot, but sometimes positive peer pressure is the only thing that will help in breaking bad habits & establishing good ones.

27. You may have to seek the help of others, too. Sometimes people can have a very bad habit of excessive use of "Lord" & "Jesus" in their prayers, not even realizing it. For example, I recently heard of a situation where one Home was trying to hint to a newcomer about the many times he used "Lord" & "Jesus" in his prayers. They made general announcements to the Home, saying, "Okay, everyone, let's watch the number of Jesus's or Lord's in our prayers. Let's not be so repetitious." However, this brother continued on unchanged with his repetition. Finally, after he used "Lord" over 70 times during a united prayer session, someone went to him & told him directly that he had a very bad habit of repeating "Lord" in his prayers. He was shocked!—He hadn't even realized it! He'd had no idea that the announcements about not using "Lord" too much when praying were directed to him.

28. So beware!—You too may be guilty of such repetition, without even realizing it. And in order to break such a habit, you may need to have someone lovingly point this out to you. Even after you're aware of this weakness & you begin working to overcome it, you may need occasional reminders to stay on the attack. (You'll be happy to know that since this problem was pointed out to the brother mentioned above, he has made tremendous progress! His prayers now sound more meaningful & it's much easier to pray along with him, without distraction.)

29. May the Lord help each one of us to make an effort to be a good sample to those to whom we witness & to each other. And may He help us to make our communication with Him attractive & appealing so that others will want to have the same close, intimate communication with a loving Father through His Son, Jesus.

Loving Interaction

ML #3234:10-28, 38–52, GN 837

Keys to Good Communication!

10. (Jesus speaking:) Following is a list of key factors needed in order to have good communication with anyone—your husband or wife‚ your shepherd, your peers‚ young people, older people, friends and co-workers:

11. Honesty. Unless there's honesty in communication, you're going to get your wires crossed. A good foundation to have if you want to get off on the right foot with someone is to be completely honest and open.

12. Tact. As soon as you realize you must be completely honest‚ you must also pray and ask Me to help you be prayerful and loving in the way you express things, especially things that are of a sensitive nature. Some things would be better talked out with a shepherd first, so that you can get counsel on how to present it, or can find out if it's even necessary to do so. Above all, ask Me. I know what's best and will show you the humble, loving thing to do.

13. Love. Love is what motivates you to be truthful and sincere with others‚ as well as tactful when the occasion warrants it.

14. Wisdom. In order to know the difference between when you should be as open as possible and when it would be better to be more careful with your words, you need to pray for wisdom.

15. Sensitivity. The sensitivity I speak of here is that of being responsive and attentive to the needs of others. It's helpful to try to be sensitive to others' moods and feelings when communicating. For example, perhaps you know someone is in a more receptive mood after dinner than right after their nap, so that might be a better time to talk to them. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

16. Courage. Having the faith that overcomes the fears and hesitations you have about communicating, and which expects a positive response.

17. Sense of timing. Timing is vital in communication. Of course, in the smaller matters that you discuss with others on a daily basis‚ it's more important that you simply communicate often. But when the subject is a little sensitive, requires privacy, or may mean unpleasant news or changes for someone, then it's wise to choose the timing of your presentation when they're not in the middle of a demanding project, or coming to the close of a hectic day.

18. Prayerfulness. Mental prayerfulness is good in any situation, constantly praying for wisdom, for "in the multitude of words there lacketh not sin." But verbal prayerfulness is also a good habit to acquire in communicating with others. If you have a work-related matter or some kind of delicate situation to discuss—or even when it's just fellowship but you don't know what topics are going to come up—pause for a moment and say a prayer. Acknowledging Me helps you to go slower, to have more respect for each other and for Me, and it also empowers Me to make your time beneficial and not hurtful or frustrating.

19. Patience. Good communication requires patience. Everyone is different and has different ways of looking at situations and solving them, so it takes patience to see things as someone else sees them, and also come to a common ground of agreement.

20. Respect. You must respect the other person's opinions and feelings. The most obvious way this is manifested in communication with others is in letting them say their piece without interrupting or trying to hurry them along or finish their sentences for them.

21. Sense of humor. Lighten up! Often people hold things in, so that when they finally do take the plunge to communicate about a matter, they come across too strongly or defensively. It pays to lighten up together if things are getting too intense or unnecessarily "heavy."

22. Silence. Yes, surprisingly, the art of being silent is a quality much needed sometimes in communication, or rather the art of listening. It's no use trying to come to an agreement with someone if you are merely thinking about what you're going to say while they're voicing their opinion. Be like the wise old owl: the less he spoke the more he heard!

23. Openness to others. People will be much more at ease communicating with you if you make a habit of being open to what others have to say.

24. Humility. It doesn't pay to carry the attitude around that you're always right. Pride stalemates communication more than any other trait. Also, like the fable of the wind and the sun, you will find that as you take the lower seat of hearing people out and sincerely considering their opinions, they will be more open to yours as well.

25. Regular communication. Good communication should not be saved for special occasions‚ but should be a part of your everyday life. People who communicate frequently understand each other the best‚ and are more likely to be able to work through problems when they come up.

26. Clarity. Explain, explain, explain. You may think others understand exactly what you mean, but it may surprise you to realize that misunderstandings arise every day in people's lives for lack of clarity. If you're not sure whether someone understands what you mean, ask them! It's a lot more efficient than guesswork.

27. Talking. This may seem humorous to some people, but there are many people who settle for subtle hints, signals, and cryptic messages as their sole forms of communication, whether in bed with someone, working together, or trying to iron out some problem. Unfortunately, the success rate for those forms of communication is minimal‚ and nothing beats talking—both to each other and, most of all, to Me. Try it!

28. Willingness. Communication takes just plain hard work. It takes a lot of effort, but the rewards of friendship, harmony, unity, and mature relationships are well worth the energy spent—as long as you're willing to do it! (End of message from Jesus.)

How to Become a Better Listener!

38. (Jesus speaking:) Take a lesson from My example in this. For though we are divided by the veil between the physical world and the world of the spirit, yet our relationship is just as real as that of any two people on Earth. I wish for you to learn from My example. How do I listen to you? Do I listen for a measure of time, and then interrupt you? Do I begin talking before you do, before you've uttered your prayer or heartcry? Only in very rare instances. I'm always here, always available, and I always love to hear from you!

39. I understand, of course, that you, My human representatives to My children, are less available. You're not able to always be in every place, as I am, but are bound by other responsibilities and duties of the Kingdom. However, the art of listening comes from the attitude of your heart. It's something that can be learned, and I wish to teach you.

40. When you come and talk to Me, you feel that I understand. How do I understand? First of all, because of My great love for you, I'm always willing to listen to your side of the story and give you the benefit of the doubt. I look beyond the feeble words you speak and I hear your heartcries. I see your motives. You don't have the ability to do this as I do, but I've given you a measure of this gift, and you have but to ask for it, seek it, and be desperate to use it.

41. This is one of the most important qualities of being a good listener—not only listening to the words that a person speaks, but asking Me to help you hear and understand their heart. Much judgment is misplaced because of people listening only to the words of someone's mouth rather than hearing the words of their heart and understanding.

42. Some people may be good at speaking, but in their hearts they have the wrong motives. Others may be poor at expressing themselves or are nervous around you, but in their hearts they long only to serve Me and to love Me, and have committed no sin or wrongdoing. Yet other times something will appear very wrong, but because of the motives of their heart, I would excuse them or grant them mercy. This is why I say that man looks on the outward appearance, but I look upon the heart. You would do well to pray for this gift, and seek to use it at every opportunity.

43. If a person feels understood, it helps them to communicate better and more freely. So in this‚ you not only are able to pass better judgment, but you also make the whole process of communication—which is such a sacrifice for many people—much more pleasant and easier to handle. You'll find that people will be more eager to share their hearts and more willing to give the unvarnished truth rather than the polished, one–sided version of the story, if they're treated with understanding of their hearts. They'll know they can speak without fear, for they will not be judged merely by their words, but you will in love look past their words to their hearts, and you will ask Me to show you clearly how you may best understand and help them.

44. Another gift which enables you to be a good listener is the gift of humility—being truly humble and knowing that there are many, many, many things which you know nothing about‚ and so to learn, you know that you must listen carefully. This is not something that can be brought about in the flesh. For while body motions and comments from your mouth are indicative of this, they alone cannot change the problem of your heart.

45. If you're carrying the attitude of being above them, or that you already know or have an opinion about what they're talking about, you'll not be able to listen carefully and absorb what they're saying in the right spirit. Your perception of the conversation will be tainted by your opinion, and in turn the person you're talking with will feel your disinterest or disagreement with what they're saying.

46. Those who are sensitive to this, or already nervous or struggling to communicate, will be stumbled, and will most likely have an even harder time expressing themselves clearly to you. Because they feel a wall there, they will be prone to exaggeration, covering up, or only giving one side of the story, to try to make their point clear even through the wall that is built between you in the spirit. Some will quit communicating with you altogether, figuring, "Why should I struggle to express my heart when it's not even taken seriously or clearly?"

47. So your attitude of heart, the love you have for the person, the understanding which you are seeking Me for, and the humility in your heart towards them—realizing that each person around you knows many, many things which you don't know—are all keys to helping you become a better listener.

48. Another key to being a good listener is learning to come before Me with the person you're talking with‚ and throughout the conversation committing the subjects you discuss, even those you casually chat about, to Me. This will help to avoid many misunderstandings, for as you do this, you will see the other person's point very clearly. Together you will summarize your discussion as you commit it to Me‚ and you will solidify your conclusions with My blessing. Also, as you stop and take a moment to commit it to Me, I'm able to punch through with more understanding if it was lacking before.

49. Stopping to commune with the realm of the Spirit and asking for My blessing opens the door for your helpers to check you about anything you said that was not right, or any subject you might not have understood clearly. They are also able to refresh your anointing and give you clarity of thought.

50. You should also be seeking Me for the understanding you need. I don't mean only for those you shepherd, but also for those you work with, for those you pass casually in the hall, for those you chat with in the kitchen, for those you witness to, for the children you care for, and the list goes on.

51. Every one of My precious children needs to feel understood, and a part of that feeling of being understood is what they feel from you. You are only one person, but you affect and influence many others. So it's important for all of My Family members to come before Me and ask Me to help them do better in this area. Understanding and the skills of good listening convey love—My love for the person, which is unconditional, forever, and perfect in every way.

52. In order to be better representatives of Me, come before Me and spend time listening to Me. Practice your skills of listening and receiving as you come before Me for little things. The more you listen to Me and the more of My thoughts and Words you receive and absorb‚ the better you will communicate with those around you, and the better listener you will become. Cultivate the habit, for it's worth it! (End of message from Jesus)

Practicing Praise

ML #3471:23-24, 71–72, GN 1059

23. (Jesus) Praise is very similar to prayer, in that you get out of it what you put into it. If you're just going through the motions of praise and not really praising Me with your whole heart, or you're just saying those things in vain repetition like many Catholics with their "Hail Marys," then this is not real praise. If you want to truly praise Me, then you must put your all into it. You have to seek out things that you're truly thankful for and mean them. You have to make the praise a part of you and praise with your whole heart if you want it to carry real meaning and power.

24. It's a matter of stirring yourself up in spirit, for the lazy spirit just goes through the motions, does the repetitive thing and whatever comes to mind first, but you who are seeking to truly praise Me, who want to thank Me for everything, will be My fresh, alive bride and praise Me with your whole being‚ with everything within you, and truly mean it!


71. (Jesus:) You need to avoid allowing praise to become mundane and unnecessarily repetitive. Sometimes you might feel that you can't pray properly unless you've first chanted, "Thank You, Jesus! Thank You, Lord" a few times, and unfortunately you're probably right. Of course‚ there's nothing wrong with those words, because they are praises to Me, but do you really mean what you're saying or has praising Me become a vain repetition? Do those words automatically come out of your mouth without you really thinking about what you're saying? Well‚ it's good that at least some form of praise is ingrained in your habits. But really, these repetitious "Thank You Jesus" phrases might be closer to an empty religious chant, and may be robbing you of good, quality praise time.

72. When you're actually praising Me for something specific, it's so much more edifying for you, so much more effective against the Enemy, and makes Me so much happier. It might take a bit of getting used to for some of you, but it's so worth it.

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