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Monday, October 26, 2015

"Words That Heal" (Michael Ross and Brian Doyle)

TITLE: Words That Heal
AUTHOR: Michael Ross and Brian Doyle
PUBLISHER: Ulrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2015, (192 pages).

The tongue is one of the most powerful organs in a human being. Words can hurt, words can also heal. Words can be cruel. Words can also be loving. Realizing the way that words can affect our Christian witness, the Bible contains lots of reminders and wisdom about how we can use our tongues. Inspired by James 3:1-12, this book contains 40 stories covering four major segments of society: Church, Workplace, Family, and Community. Each story brings out the best of what we can do with our words. Through stories, readers enter into the journey of healing. Through steps, readers learn of practical ways to apply the biblical teachings. Through words for growth, readers cultivate new creative ways by journaling and personalizing the content for practical living.

Part One deals with "Healing words for the Church." This may be surprising to some of us who may presume that Church people are mostly loving and nice. Yet, it is precisely in the Church where biblical ideals often fall flat when human realities appear. Church has been accused of hypocrisy, worldliness, fake, false theologies, legalism, uncaring or unkindness, and so on. For some, Jesus has indeed left the Church building. Readers learn about storing up healing words; how to be Church; how to affirm people; how to build the body of Christ; to be honest; to create a safe harbour; to be Christlike in our words; to respond appropriately to harsh and unkind words.

Part Two takes us to the workplace reminding us that we are God's ministers even when we work outside of the Church. With a right attitude, we can be a "cubicle missionary."  We learn about loving the unlovely. Speaking words of love is not the only way. Holding the tongue applies as well. Learn when to speak up and when to shut up. It also includes listening and engaging in meaningful conversations. The authors shares ten basic tips for workplace evangelism using words creatively, carefully, and constructively.

Part Three comes to the family. For parents, there are tips on slowing down, relaxation, being patient with kids, learning how to resolve conflicts, and letting words flow forth from a heart of integrity. Words are powerful enough to make or break family ties. Kids can be powerfully moved and encouraged with the right words. Marriages can also flourish with lots of encouragement.

Part Four covers the "Healing Words for the Community." Ordinary words can make extraordinary impact. Words play a big part in love in action. Loving words can erase the hate in relationships. It can be used in serving one another in the community.

While initially excited about the prospects of reading 40 powerful stories of how words can heal, I was left disappointed that the book is more about steps and methods rather than actual stories themselves. The actual stories are not fully developed and appear more as short anecdotes rather than full "chicken soup" style stories. For that reason, I was left feeling a little misled by the subtitle of the book. Having said that, this book tries to provide a little bit of everything for the Church, workplace, family, and the community. It is essentially saying that words occupy a huge chunk of our lives and the four arenas described are only the starting points for application. Everywhere we go, if we can apply the principles to the four main areas listed, we should be able to do the same for the rest of our lives.

Michael Ross is former editor of BREAKAWAY, a national magazine for teen guys while Brian Doyle is a Dutch translator who lives in Belgium.

Readers will need to expect to do some work and thinking on their own too as they fill up the blanks and spaces allocated for personal journaling. In this way, the book is 80% reading, and about 20% personal writing. This book is average and if you are tight on finances, I would not recommend buying this.

Rating: 3.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Barbour Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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