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War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles (Resources for Changing Lives) Paperback – January 1, 2001
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"An important and biblical book about our words and our God. Few of us really think about the power, the blessing, the gift, the effect, and the danger of our words. This book will make you think before you speak. Best of all, it will make you think of him before you speak. Read it. You'll be glad." --Steve Brown
"Filled with searching and realistic and honest illustrations . . . coupled with large doses of biblical truth. . . . you will be challenged, convicted, enlightened, and encouraged in this extremely important dimension of your relationship with God and with other people. . . . a volume to which you will turn again and again." --Wayne A. Mack
"Paul Tripp does not offer superficial solutions to our failures of communication. He recognizes that the spiritual quality of our words emanates from our hearts. This book is must reading for us all." --Tremper Longman III
About the Author
Paul Tripp is president of Paul Tripp Ministries, the Professor of Pastoral Life and Care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, the Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. As an author, Paul has written ten books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children.
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Top Customer Reviews
War of Words is divided into three sections. Part One: "Talk is Not Cheap" provides the theological and biblical orientation from which the entire book speaks. Tripp begins by reminding us that "God Speaks" (chapter one). "He is the Great Speaker" (15); and He has spoken most fully through Jesus Christ, "the Word who is the only hope for our words" (5). God can be known because He speaks. And we are made in His image with the ability to speak ourselves. Our words have value, because God has given them value.
But not only does God speak, "Satan Speaks" (chapter two). Paradise was lost because Satan used words to challenge the authority of God and offer an interpretation on life that was different from God's. Lies were spoken. Words were misused. And "for the first time, people spoke against one another" (23). Now, there is "trouble with our talk" (29). In fact, "nowhere is our weakness more dramatically revealed than in our struggle with words" (31).
Into the helplessness and hopelessness of our sin, God, the Great Speaker addresses us with the greatest message of all: "The Word in the Flesh" (chapter three). The gospel of Christ addresses our fallen lives and our muddled speech. God doesn't demand that we change in our own strength. No, He sends redemption through the Living Word who becomes the ultimate model for our speech as well. Our words are meant to redeem. But our words can be redemptive only when our "idol words" (chapter four) are addressed. We must see that our speech problems are fruit growing out of the deeper root of a sinful and idolatrous heart.
Right from the beginning, Tripp summarizes the "four fundamental, life-altering principles" upon which this book is based are:
* God has a wonderful plan for our words that is far better than any plan we could come up with on our own.
* Sin has radically altered our agenda for our words, resulting in much hurt, confusion, and chaos.
* In Christ Jesus we find the grace that provides all we need to speak as God intended us to speak.
* The Bible plainly and simply teaches us how to get from where we are to where God wants us to be. (5)
In other words, the foundation for God-honoring speech is nothing less than the gospel itself, as understood within the framework of words.
Part Two lays out "A New Agenda for Our Talk." This begins with an understanding of God's sovereignty. "He is King!" (chapter five). God's sovereignty is "the cornerstone for a new agenda for our words" (70). When I truly lay hold of the truth that God is in control, exercising "unchallenged rule" in the universe (71) for His glory and my good, I can be free from trying to control and manipulate others with my words. Tripp goes on to show that we must embrace the agenda of the King (chapter six) if we are to speak for Him (chapter seven). We can only be His ambassadors when we speak out of a clear understanding of the King's mission and methods (111-122).
Chapter eight turns a corner from theological foundation to practical application, as Tripp outlines eleven "practical steps to the destination" of using our words as God desires. Because we are "citizens in need of help" (chapter nine), confrontation is a necessary part of our speech. But confrontation is scary because it so often goes wrong. We need help in doing confrontation biblically, with the humility of the gospel, recognizing that we are both helpers to others and also in need of help ourselves.
Chapter ten, "On the King's Mission" sharpens the focus on God's redemptive purpose for our words. Tripp reminds us that "we are not free to handle difficulties in whatever way seems best to us. When we are wronged, the thing of highest importance is not that we feel satisfied or avenged, but that we respond according to God's plan and for his glory" (164). The Great Commission lays claim on our everyday talk. Every word we speak is meant to carry out the redemptive purposes of God in Christ.
Finally, Part Three discusses "Winning the War of Words." Tripp's practical theology is at its best here, as he reminds us to put "First Things First" (chapter eleven) in our speech by embracing the gospel in a lifestyle of repentance. Four steps of true repentance (consideration, confession, commitment, and change) are discussed, drawing heavily on Colossians 3:12-17 and 2 Peter 1:3-9. Chapter twelve clarifies the win with an exposition of Galatians 5:13-6:2. Winning the war of words "involves recognizing the destructive power of words (5:15) . . . affirming our freedom in Christ (5:13) . . . saying no to the sinful nature (5:13, 24) . . . speaking to serve others in love (5:13-14) . . . speaking `in step with the Spirit' (5:25) . . . [and] speaking with a goal to restore (6:1-2)" (201-216).
Chapter thirteen, "Choosing Your Words," continues the expositional style of application by exhorting us to choose the right words: words of truth (Eph. 4:14-15), words of love (1 Cor. 13:4-7), words of restraint (Eph. 4:25-27), words of grace (Eph. 4:29-30), and words of forgiveness (Eph. 4:32-5:2). Only when we choose these redemptive kinds of words will the tongue be a tool for good, rather than a world of evil.
This is a powerful book which helped me personally and pastorally. The blend of biblical exposition and practical exhortation, theology and practicality, is masterful. Each section builds on the sturdy explanation of biblical texts, while including practical "how to" application, with frequent real-life examples of both redemptive and destructive speech. Every chapter ends with a "Getting Personal" list of questions for personal examination of one's own heart and life. And Tripp frequently speaks from his own failures, flavoring this book with humility and authenticity. This is a wonderful book that should serve pastors, counselors, lay-leaders, parents, and spouses well, as they struggle to win the war of words.
Tripp begins the book by reminding readers that God is the one who has given man the privilege of words. The ability to communicate on a complicated level is one of the things that separates humanity from the rest of God’s creation. Man has always had trouble being a good steward of this gift that God has graciously given. Since this is true, it should motivate all Christian readers to pray for change and listen closely to God’s advice on the matter. The Bible offers a great deal of practical truth and help for communication; Tripp has a special ability to make it even more practical by offering a list of suggestions in nearly every chapter.
War of Words is not a very long book, and Tripp is a prolific writer. His experience in writing and counseling qualifies him to write such a book. Although at times, it seems that maybe Mrs. Tripp would have been more qualified (smile now); as Paul demonstrates transparency it is clear that his wife is the better communicator, and she often helps him. Paul’s transparency gave credit to the book. He shares his own personal experience which always included repentance and the sanctifying work of God. In the introduction to the book Tripp did share his own weakness of communicating poorly. I always appreciate the transparency and humility of the author. Whenever I review books I like to include how I have been most moved by God, the author, and the content.
Tripp breaks the book up into three sections, Talk is Not Cheap, A New Agenda for Our Talk, and Winning the War of Words. In the first section Tripp examined the source of words, the first use of deceiving words, and the Solution for idol words. The second section, Tripp examined the Solution, which is Christ. Christ is the reason for necessary change, and He is the one who enables change. As his ambassadors Christians must take the war of words seriously. Tripp explains the war to readers, and he has explained the reason for fighting this war, but in the third section he explains how to fight in the war of words.
From time to time Tripp revealed his reformed persuasion. While this was not necessarily a weakness, it was a distraction. Perhaps it is a weakness for this reader; whenever reformed philosophy appears in writing it always leads to a slight unrest. Despite the slight distraction the book was very helpful and inspirational. Nearly half way through the book Tripp discussed the biblical truth that Christians are ambassadors of God. This is not a new concept, but this portion of the book was a good reminder that Christians also represent God with words, and thoughts, not only actions.
One of the most influential parts of the book was chapter ten, On the Kings Mission. Tripp shares a scenario of a real situation involving a disappointed father as he discovers that his son has been involved in sinful communication. The point of the chapter was this, it is important to communicate and correct in a redemptive way. God gives people opportunities to participate in the lives of others; these opportunities can include conversation, influence or correction; ultimately, this a continuation of ambassador status.
Participating in the lives of others is a task that is neither small nor unimportant. The last mentioned truths should compel Christians to immediately examine themselves in the area of communication. Tripp writes the book from a reformed perspective, but any reader, deterministic or libertarian should be able to appreciate the way that Tripp makes Christ central in the communication process by suggesting redemptive communication.
As Christians face challenging conversation, people, and corrective situations they must approach all with the thought of redemption. God is involved in the lives of all His children, and he is using other Christians in this sanctification process. It would be wonderful if every Christian would approach others with a redemptive agenda, rather than being selfish. It would be wonderful if every Christian that faced correction from another, responded with humility. Since God’s plan in everyone’s life is not clear, it is best to approach communication redemptively. Given the privilege to communicate to others, it would only make sense to communicate in a way that brings out the best in people. Even faced with negativity and selfish communication a Christian should be able to recognize that God is working to bring out the best in every Christian. Since this is true, it should be the goal in the life of each Christian to do likewise.
Near the conclusion of the book Tripp shares a four step method of repentance. The first step, is consideration; each Christian must realize that they often see the shortcomings of others, but rarely see their own faults. The Christian must examine himself or herself regularly by looking in the mirror of God’s Word. The second step is confessing; each Christian must confess their sin of communication, but also realize that our sinful hearts are responsible for the words used. Tripp states, “we cannot confess sins of communication without confessing the sinful attitudes that have shaped our words.” The third step is commitment, and requires each Christian to prepare for success in the war of words. The fourth step is change, and this is what God wants for each Christian, a change of heart that leads to a change in communication.
The War of Words is unlike other books on communication. A reader will not discover any new communication techniques or methods. However, the reader will find old truths from God’s Word that remind readers about the importance of godly communication. Tripp wrote the book in such transparency that most readers will be able to identify with him and his communication struggles. He also discussed the faults of others, the scenarios presented are also relative to readers because most people struggle with communication. The most thoughtful point made in the book was the importance to communicate redemptively. One cannot always see God’s involvement in the life of others, however, it would be best for each Christian to be aware of God’s involvement and with such awareness appreciate the privilege of also being involved. What a joy to know that each Christian can partner with God to be a help in the lives of others. God uses other Christians and their words to encourage, exhort, edify, and graciously correct, all for the purpose of biblical change.