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The Power of Words

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander..." Matthew 15:17-20

In the award winning film The Joy Luck Club, one little girl has the ability "to see the secrets of a chessboard." Her gift enables her to become a national chess champion when she is eight years old.

But she has a driven parent who is both envious of her daughter and selfishly determined to use her daughter for her own ambitions for wealth and power. (Think beauty pageant mothers or stage moms...)

In one scene the little girl dares to resist her mother’s pressure for perfection and the mother responds with an icy silence and then she says to her daughter, "You are nothing. You are nothing at all."

This is how the little girl described what happened next: This power I had, this belief in what I’d been given, I could actually feel draining away. I could feel myself becoming ordinary... and the best part of me disappeared." (Daniel Meyer, "Words and Wisdom: Secrets to the Significant Life" Part 4, PreachingToday.com)

Every year when I receive The Denver Post survey of which funnies I read and which ones I do not read, I always make sure to emphasize that I would be sorely disappointed if they should discontinue "Dilbert." Scott Adams, the creator of the "Dilbert" comic strip, tells this story from his early days as a cartoonist:

He said, "When I was trying to become a syndicated cartoonist, I sent my portfolio to one cartoon editor after another and received one rejection slip after another. One cartoon editor called me and suggested I take art classes. Then Sarah Gillespie, and editor at United Media and considered one of the genuine experts in the field, called to offer me a contract. At first I didn’t believe her. I asked if I would have to change my style or get a partner or learn how to draw... and she said she believed I was already good enough to be a nationally syndicated cartoonist. Her confidence in me completely changed my frame of reference and how I thought about even my own abilities." He said, "This may sound bizarre, but the minute I got off the phone with her, I could draw better and there was a marked improvement in my work." (James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner, Encouraging the Heart, Josey-Bass, 1999, PreachingToday.com)

Two stories... one is the story of poison spewing from the heart of a bitter and manipulative stage mom. The other is the story of encouragement from the heart of a woman who wanted to see a gifted young man expand his horizons.

From a sermon by Monty Newton, The Healing Power of Positive Words, 10/17/2009

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