When it comes to today’s volatile and divided ministry environment, these words stand out as particularly relevant: “Speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).
Some conversations have a lot of truth but very little love. Other conversations have a lot love and affection, but very little truth. The biblical ideal is that we have both things.
It is for just this reason, that I am excited about the new book by Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser, When Words Matter Most: Speaking Truth with Grace to Those You Love (Crossway, 2021).
Cheryl is the director of women’s ministries at Founders Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Caroline is the assistant coordinator of women’s counseling here at RTS Charlotte, and wife to our counseling director, Jim Newheiser.
One of the things I appreciate about this book is that it reminds us of the deep power of words. Words can do amazing things. They can build up, or they can tear down. They can heal, or they can wound. They can illuminate, or they can obfuscate.
Of course, this should not be surprising because we serve a God who is a God of words. He is not a silent God but a speaking God (Heb 1:1). In the beginning, he spoke and the world came to be (Gen 1:1). God’s word is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword (Heb 4:12). Or as Jeremiah 23:29 reminds us: “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
The focus of the book, however, is not on all the words we speak, but the words we speak in individual conversations. It helps the reader think through how to engage in the myriad of one-on-one conversations that ministry brings. Honestly, I don’t know many books on this important topic—which makes this one special. There are plenty of books on preaching and teaching, but very few on conversations.
Thus, a book like this is particularly relevant for those who are interested in the area of counseling (see more on the RTS Charlotte counseling program)
If you want to grow in this area, you can pick up a copy here. In the meantime, here are the endorsements:
“There are times when actions matter most. There are even times when your mere presence matters most. But as Marshall and Newheiser make clear, our lives are filled with times ‘when words matter most.’ This book is for those times. Written by women and for women, these pages are so saturated with Scripture and biblical wisdom that they can be equally beneficial to men. When Words Matter Most can serve either for small-group study or personal reading. Most of us speak to one or more who are weary, wayward, or worried almost every day. Learning from the lessons and examples of this book will prepare you to be more effective when you do.”
―Donald S. Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Family Worship; Praying the Bible; and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
“When Words Matter Most is a thoroughly practical and biblical book to help you speak the truth in love to others caught up in a variety of struggles. This book is engaging and very helpful. I highly recommend it.”
―Martha Peace, biblical counselor; author, The Excellent Wife
“We need each other to grow in Christ. We also need to hear God’s word, and God uses others to speak that word to us. Marshall and Newheiser remind us of this fundamental but often ignored truth in this wonderfully practical book. We are all needy and weak. We all need to be encouraged and challenged, and we need to hear God’s word practically applied to our lives by those who know us. We are confident that the Lord will use this book to help us walk worthily of the Lord who has called us to be like him.”
―Thomas and Diane Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and his wife, Diane
“The riches of God’s word should not be hoarded as a private treasure. This practical, powerful book challenges believers to allow Scripture’s healing balm to flow naturally into our relationships and conversations. God’s words matter more and accomplish more than our own. When the teaching of the Bible permeates our own thoughts, we can gently and powerfully share strengthening truth with one another.”
―Deborah Young, Chief Curriculum Officer, Bible Study Fellowship
“From the very beginning, God created mankind with the ability to communicate so man could commune with God and fellow man. However, because of sin, communication has been horribly corrupted. Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser have written a much-needed book to help restore gracious and loving communication to bring strength, comfort, and sometimes reproof to those who need it. Gracious speech full of truth is a lost art to this generation. When Words Matter Most is a carefully written resource to restore this vital and necessary practice.”
―John D. Street, Professor, The Master’s University and Seminary; President, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
“What a challenge it is to speak the truth in love to those whom the Lord places in our lives. It is much easier to just talk about comfortable topics and avoid the tough ones altogether. When Words Matter Most serves as a welcome tool to show us how to do the right thing and choose the words that matter most with utmost prayer and care. Marshall and Newheiser skillfully provide biblically saturated advice coupled with real-life examples from their vast experience. They do not seek to provide a formula for success, but rather carefully suggest methods to encourage the fainthearted and do so with grace. It is exciting to think about how the Lord may choose to use conversations we may be privileged to initiate to transform hearts and bring glory to his name. May we be eager for the task! This helpful book will spur us on in ways yet unseen with its well-organized categories of concern and corresponding biblical truth. I am grateful to both Marshall and Newheiser for this labor of love and gladly recommend it.”
―Mary K. Mohler, Director, Seminary Wives Institute, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Growing in Gratitude