Accentuate the Positive

“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”  
Romans 12:2, CEV

Years ago, my husband and I visited Vancouver, Canada. Cool temps, long days, beautiful vistas, and friendly residents made our stay memorable. Several times while there, I was asked to repeat something I’d said. Whenever I did, the comment that usually followed was … “I love your accent.”

Dialects and accents often reveal the vicinities or regions from which people originate. Most areas of our world have distinctive tongues. I think we can all agree, it’s easy to peg someone from Great Britain, Asia, the Bronx, or Boston. And, yawl—what about that unmistakable southern drawl? It’s a dead giveaway, isn’t it?”

Accents are significantly influenced by the amount of time we spend in an area, regardless of our birthplace. I’m originally from St. Louis, but I’ve lived in the South far too long for that to ring true. When my husband was in the Air Force, we spent over five months in New Mexico. Whenever we returned to North Carolina, some said I’d already picked up an accent.

What do our accents reveal about where we spend the majority of our time? Do we immerse ourselves in the world, or do our words and actions reveal our place in God’s earthly kingdom? If we’re professing Christians, can others tell by the words we speak and the things we do?

In 1944, Johnny Mercer, a southern boy from Savannah, Georgia wrote the song, Ac-cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive. Inspired by a sermon, the song’s lyrics encourage us to dwell on the positive and eliminate the negative in our lives. In other words, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it holds the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). The words we speak and the ways we say them reveal the things we’ve stored in our hearts. Our words create actions, good and bad.

Let’s be people whose mouths are filled with life—those whose speech reflects the character of our Creator. When others engage in conversation with us, may our words be so distinctive that they not only reveal where we’re from but whose we are. Let’s be people who are asked to repeat what we say, and then perhaps hear … “I love your accent.”

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” –Psalm 19:14 ESV



Part 5, Name That Tongue – Healing or Hurting?

“A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life, but willful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4 AMP 

I watched a movie recently called Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal (as Artie) and Bette Midler (as Diane). As grandparents, they had pretty much failed due to misunderstandings between them and their only child.  Artie had also lost his dream job as a baseball announcer and was eagerly hoping for an audition with another team. In the meantime, Artie and Diane had an opportunity to watch their three grandkids for a week and were eager to redeem themselves in the sight of the family.

One of my favorite scenes is an honest discourse between Diane and Artie. Everything has gone wrong, and they seemingly have failed at being responsible grandparents in the eyes of their daughter. Here is the dialogue.

Diane:  I followed you for 35 years, Artie. Wherever you needed to be, that’s where I was. No complaints. Well, some. But this week … this week was supposed to be about us and our grandchildren. Not you. Not you. Did you have to go to that audition?

Artie:  It’s not one of my better moments.

Diane expressed her true feelings and spoke words of hard truth. However, how she said them made all the difference. She didn’t rant and rave over the fact that she was right. Nor did she become a drama queen and make him feel bad with her tears. Artie realized his selfishness and responded appropriately, admitting his wrong.

Our words, according to Proverbs, can bring healing or harm depending on what and how we say them. God dealt with me years ago about my tainted tongue. He used the following verse to convict my heart of the damage I was doing, especially toward my loved ones.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18, NASB


Ouch! That’s a hard one, but one I revisit often to keep my lips under control. I don’t want my speech to cut and wound due to my uncaring thoughtlessness. Instead, I long for God to bring life and health to others through my communication.


It’s never too late for a tongue check-up. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you speak with soothing sweetness and control. Seek to be pleasant and gentle in all you say. It takes practice, but it’s so worth it.         [Digging deeper – Psalm 57:4; Prov. 15:26b; 16:21, 23-24, 31:26]

Taming the tongue,

Beverly <><



Photo Credit: Image courtesy of worradmu at

Part 4, Zip Those Lips!

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Proverbs 10:19 NLT

Ever had one of those moments in life when a loved one or girlfriend sought your advice, then turned around and did exactly what you had warned against? To make matters worse, you responded with the never-ending tirade of questions and the numerous reasons why she should have listened to you. The more you spoke, the worse it got. She was feeling great remorse, but you just kept crushing her spirit into the ground. I must confess; I have been guilty of such talk.

Chances are I’m not alone. After all, we women need to speak on average about 20,000 words a day, you know. However, that doesn’t excuse what Proverbs calls a sin producer – too much talk! Like today’s verse, sometimes we need to zip our lips.

A similar temptation we often face is what I’ll call ‘whispering words’. You know, those juicy bits of gossip someone shares and before you know it, you’re doing  the same thing in the name of a prayer request. We would be wise to heed the warning

in Proverbs 26:22 NASB:


“The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts  of the body.”


Just like a delicious piece of chocolate pecan toffee or a delectable bite of cheesecake that we savor and swallow, so are our whispering words. They go deep into the heart of the hearer. Before we damage another person’s reputation, we would be wise to hold our tongues.

Oftentimes, we mean well in our verbosity. We so want to help, but instead we may be guilty of quenching the work of the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers shares some wise counsel in My Utmost for His Highest – Aug. 1st:

          Are we playing the spiritual amateur providence in other lives? Are we so noisy in our   instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them? We have to keep our mouths   shut and our spirits alert.

The next time you find yourself lending a listening ear for a troubled soul, ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment. He will give you the words if you need to speak; He will also help you hold your tongue if you need to keep quiet. Beloved sisters, let’s be found sensible as we watch what we say.

[Digging deeper – Prov. 13:3, 17:27-28, 21:23, 26:20; Eccl. 3:7b]

Zipping the lips,

Beverly <><