FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Telling It Like It Is

with Paul David Tripp | January 12, 2011
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Words can bless or they can injure. On today’s broadcast, Christian counselor Dr. Paul David Tripp explains why our words matter to God.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Words can bless or they can injure. On today’s broadcast, Christian counselor Dr. Paul David Tripp explains why our words matter to God.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Words can bless or they can injure.

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Telling It Like It Is

With Paul David Tripp
January 12, 2011
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Paul:  Truth not spoken in love ceases to be truth, because it gets twisted by other human agendas that distorts it a bit.  Love without truth isn't love.  That's why that Bible principle, "Speaking the truth in love," is so eloquent.  There is literally a principle of communication that if we would live that, we'd, right away, alter many of the moments that we struggle with.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, January 12th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  The Bible has a lot to say about how we can do a better job of communicating with one another, actually a better job of loving one another in the process. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  I am just going to test your movie trivia knowledge here to start today’s program.

Dennis:  Oh, Bob.  No, no, no.  This is never a test of my knowledge and more an exhibition of yours.

Bob:  I’m just going to see. . .

Dennis:  I mean, why must I subject myself to this?

Bob:  It would be interesting to see how many in our audience could get this right as well.  Maybe I should just ask the question and see if they can answer it online.  But here’s the question:  The classic film – Paul Newman – Cool Hand Luke – Have you seen that movie? 

Dennis:  I have.

Bob:  There’s a classic line.  If there’s one line from that movie that defines the movie – it was spoken by the sheriff, or the prison warden at the prison farm –

Dennis:  This is the one where he ate all the eggs?

Bob:  Ate all the hard-boiled eggs.  That’s the movie.  Do you know the line I’m talking about?  Can you pull the line?  Give it up on the eggs.  Nice job on that.

Dennis:  [Laughing] Keith is trying to give me a --

Bob:  Oh, he knows the answer.

Dennis:  --trying to give me a hint from the control room.

Bob:  Do you want to do a little “phone a friend” and call him?

Dennis:  Yeah, exactly!

Bob:  Here’s the first half of the quote:  “What we have here . . .

Dennis:  “. . . is a failure to communicate.”

Bob:  I knew you could pull it out if I helped out a little bit.

Dennis:  Yes, you did.

Bob:  And it really fits the context of what we’re talking about today, because what often happens in marriage when we get sideways with one another is that we just did not do a very good job at communicating.

Dennis:  I am amazed at how I can be married for 38 years to my bride, and how many times we miss one another.  I mean it’s a case of differing assumptions; I’m not saying it fast enough, quick enough for Barbara to connect with it –

Bob:  Right tone of voice, the right timing for it –

Dennis:  And it’s not being heard with the right emotional attitude.

Bob:  When we were putting together The Art of Marriage video event that we’ve been designing and that is going to be launched – actually, it’s going to be launched in about four weeks on February 11th, 2011 – 2-11-11 – that’s premiere weekend for The Art of Marriage video event.  It’s going to be held in hundreds of locations all around the country. 

When we were putting it together we knew that this issue of communication was one of the things we were going to have to address.  We started thinking about different people that we would want to interview and dialogue with on communication, and one of the guys whose name came to the top of the list was Paul David Tripp, who wrote the book War of Words.

Dennis:  Right, and of course Paul David Tripp is known as a conference speaker.  He is an author, a counselor, and he and his wife Luella have four children, so undoubtedly there have been moments when they have not communicated or had some war around their words.  Paul is one of almost a dozen –

Bob:  Little more than a dozen, actually.

Dennis:  --experts on marriage and family issues that we went about interviewing for The Art of Marriage.  He’s a great communicator, and he just points out the need that we have to be able to understand the weight of our words and the impact our words can have on our spouse.

Bob:  You know, I think a lot of our listeners have probably heard us talking about The Art of Marriage video event, and I hope they’ve gone to and clicked on The Art of Marriage link to see the trailer.  This is a six-session video event that’s going to be hosted, as I said, in a lot of local churches or in communities all around the country.

Dennis:  In fact, Bob, you led the team that designed this to be a conference in a box to be shipped out to a couple who wanted to make a difference in the marriages in their neighborhood, in their church, their community, a business.  They can get this conference, have it shipped to their home, begin promoting it, and then host one of these right where they live. 

In fact, if you go to and click on The Art of Marriage link there, you’ll see the number of these events that have been signed up all across the country.  In fact, there’s a map that points out all the locations where, if you don’t want to host one of these, you could go to one of these events.

Bob:  And if you do want to host one, or if you’re thinking “Well, there’s not one close to us.  I guess we could do that,” there’s still enough time.  I mean, you think, “Four weeks.  Could we pull it all together?”  It really is pretty simple to execute. 

All you have to do is get the word out, invite folks to come.  There’s still time for you to order in the materials and have them ready so that everybody’s got a manual and the DVDs are ready to go.  We’ll walk you through the process of everything you need to know so you can host it, and it will come off without a hitch.

We’re excited about the number of these events that are going to be happening, not only on February 11th and 12th, that first weekend, but on through the spring and the summer and through the rest of this year.

Dennis:  Right.  Here’s the bottom line on The Art of Marriage.  This has been designed so that people who are passionate about making a difference in marriages and families in your community will now have a tool that will make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.  I happen to believe that there are literally thousands of folks across the country who are really sick and tired of seeing marriages dissolve in divorce, to see media continue to chip away at the dignity of marriage, and would like to push back on it, and say, “You know what?  I’d like to do something on behalf of godly marriages and families in our community.” 

Well, you know what?  The Art of Marriage is just the tool you can use to make a difference where you live.

Bob:  And what you’re going to hear today as we listen back to a portion of an interview we did a number of years ago with Paul David Tripp on communication and around his book War of Words, is the kind of practical, helpful, biblical information that is presented in The Art of Marriage video event.  So let’s listen to our conversation with Paul Tripp, talking about how we can miss one another when it comes to trying to communicate in marriage.

(Previously recorded)

Dennis:  When you speak of the concept of words and war, why do you bring those two together?

Paul: The words that we use for communication just don't carry the freight.  When you use the word "talk," it just seems so mundane.  It doesn't demonstrate how important this area is or the word "words," or even the word "communication," and we all know, if we're honest, that there is a shocking level of conflict in all of our lives.    And most of that conflict is carried by talk.  So I thought the concept of this unending war of words that is really the picture of a deeper war for the heart is really something we ought to give attention to.

Dennis:  There really is hope for a marriage that may be struggling today in communication if you’ll take the wisdom of Scripture and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, yield your life to Christ, and say, “Lord, would you help me speak the truth in love?”  If you don’t have love as you speak the truth, you’re not making it possible for your spouse to be able hear what you have to say.

Paul:  I had this remarkable experience of traveling from a training seminar with my brother, Ted, and we're going down the highway 60 miles an hour, and he says those fateful words, "We probably ought to try to apply this material to our own lives, so why don't you start?" 

He started asking me questions, and it was God's Spirit ripping down curtains, and I began to see that anger. 

I went home, and I told Luella that I needed to sit down and talk with her, and I said to Luella, "There's a theme in my life that I know has been of great trouble to you, and you have tried to talk to me about this, and every time you've done that, I've told you what a great guy I am."  Dennis, one time I said to Luella, "Ninety-five percent of the women in our church would love to be married to a man like me."  How do you like that for humility? 

I said, "I'm ready to listen, talk to me."  A wonderful conversation, very difficult for me.  She did two things – she burst into tears, and then she told me how much she loved me, and then she was very honest about her experience in marriage.

That anger didn't go away right away, but I took it to God, and I said, "I'm a man in desperate need of help, and I believe you’re the only one that can help me.  Show me where I can go in Your Word.  Fill me with the power of Your Spirit.  Help me to believe that your grace is sufficient, your strength is made perfect in my weakness."

I will never forget the day, it would be impossible for me to forget it, when I walked down the open steps into the living room.  Luella was sitting in an easy chair with her back to me, and I couldn't remember the last time I had that explosive anger toward her.  I put my hands on her shoulders, and she looked up, you know, with her head back at me, and I said, "I'm not angry at you anymore."  And tears filled her eyes, and she said, "I know.  There has been a remarkable change."  It was a moment where, you know, you kind of laugh and cry at the same time, celebrating what God had done.

Now, that didn't happen in an instant, but God is faithful to His people, the Word is true, it will produce a harvest and, again, I would say to the listener, there is no pit so deep that Jesus isn't deeper.  There is no situation so complicated that Scripture isn't wiser.  Don't walk away from the one source of wisdom that can begin to put together things for you that you've just never been able to put together yourself.

Dennis:  I want our listeners to make sure they didn't miss what Paul just said.  He said, in essence, God loves the prayer of a person who is helpless, who has finally come to the end of himself or herself and said, "Lord, if you don't pull this off, it isn't going to happen." 

And the reality is, if Jesus Christ is not alive from the dead, your prayer is going no further than the ceiling.  But if He is alive, then that means He's God and, as God, He delights in resurrection, redemption, and restoration. 

I'm curious, Paul, as you look at your anger problem, looking backwards, what happened the first time you got angry after you confessed to your wife you wanted to do something about this?

Paul: There's a couple of things that were critical for me.  The first thing was I had to remind myself of what Scripture says about that kind of anger – that the anger of man will not accomplish the righteousness that God desires; that that anger would not produce even the good things that I may want in that moment, it won't do it.  So I had to keep that warning in front of myself, and boy I’ve said that to myself 10,000 times. 

Dennis:  In other words, anger doesn't work?

Paul: Right, it doesn't work.

Dennis:  Look at what happens when you get angry.

Paul: It divides.  It devours.  It destroys.  It leaves wounds and scars that live, we all know, long, long after the words are over.  The second thing is I had to believe that in that moment what Christ has given me is enough for me to deal with me; that, literally, because when Jesus died, I died, and when Jesus rose, I rose again to newness of life; that I could say no and turn and go in another direction. 

What I learned to do is before I dealt with the issue, I had to deal with me.  And that's the one thing I wasn't doing.  I was going where my emotions would lead me, and the person who most needed to be dealt with – not my wife – was me. 

What I learned was Jesus literally died so I wouldn’t have to be controlled by my impulses.  Isn’t that wonderful?  That’s what Galatians 5 says. And so I knew that as much as you feel like, "I've got to go where this impulse is leading me," because of what Christ has done, I now have the power to say no to that impulse and go in another direction.

Dennis:  Now, I want to stop you right there, because there is undoubtedly a person who is listening right now, and they're hearing what you're saying, and they're saying, "But, Paul, the Bible says that I died over here with Christ, and if I died with Him, why do I still feel that emotion?"  Why do I still feel the anger?  Why do I still feel the lust or the passion that you are telling me I need to deny?

Paul: You see, the Galatians 5:24 passages, which declare the power we have in Christ over sin, are so important because the presence of sin still remains in us. 

I’m like every other father, I would have loved to give birth to pre-sanctified, self-parenting children.  I'd like to have a wife who is fully formed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, of course.  The fact of the matter is, God welcomes us into His family, and then He begins this lifelong process of change. 

Wherever I am this side of eternity, there are still the artifacts of sin dwelling in me.  And so I'm going to have those feelings, those powerfully selfish desires.  I'm not going to be completely free of those.  I have been given help in Christ to deal with those, and direction in Scripture in terms of what to do when.

Bob:  And so often, when we have those angry impulses or any kind of emotional impulse, the first way that that's expressed so that anybody other than us knows what's going on, is through our words.

Dennis:  In Galatians chapter 5, Paul wrote, "It was for freedom Christ has set us free.  Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery." 

All of us have a choice of who is going to be our master.  Is it going to be Jesus Christ?  Or is sin, or our passions, our lusts, are they going to be our master and therefore we are their slave?

Bob:  You’ve been listening to Bob Dylan, haven’t you?  I can tell. 

Paul:  Got to serve somebody. 

Bob:  [Does a Bob Dylan impression:  “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”  What do you think?

Dennis:  I’m amazed.  I’m always amazed, Bob.  You constantly amaze me.  I think the issue is, what does our guest think?

Paul:  I could tell it was clearly one of Dennis’ favorite theologians, Bob Dylan.


Dennis:  But the issue of our words and how we speak to one another is ultimately a reflection of who our master is. 

Paul:  Think of how Christ approaches us in Matthew 6.  He uses the word "treasure."  What a great word, because a treasure is something that's valuable to me, and there are, in this passage, these three real crisp principles. 

The first one is, everybody lives for some kind of treasure, it is who we are.  We have values.  Right now everybody who is listening to me is living for something.

The second principle is whatever is your treasure will control your heart – "For where your treasure is, there your heart be also."  The third principle is whatever controls your heart will control your behavior.  “No one can serve two masters.”  So my words are always a way of getting what's important to me.

Bob:  Words are the behavior that reflect what's in the heart that shows where your treasure is or who you're serving, right?

Paul: Let me tell you a great story.  My mom was raised in a family of unbelieving brothers and sisters, a depression-era family – 10 brothers and sisters.  And we used to go to tough family reunions with this family. 

My parents had the habit of taking us to the family reunion – you know, there would be the potluck, whatever – everybody would bring their best dish, and then we were told how to work the table; to say hello to all the aunts and uncles and cousins, because after the meal the booze would come out, and this thing would get pretty wild, and before that would happen, my parents would beat the retreat with us.

Well, one Saturday one of my uncles got drunk very early in the day, and he was saying sexually provocative things about women in the room.  My mom realized that my brother Mark and I were down there, and she ran down the steps and got us.  I remember it very well, because she yanked us to the car.  I don't think our feet ever touched the steps.  We sort of flapped behind her as she was taking us to the car.  She stuck us in the car and before we drove away, she turned to us and said, "I want to say something to you that I hope you'll never forget."  And I obviously haven't.  She said, "There is nothing that comes out of the mouth of a drunk that wasn't there in the first place."  How eloquent.

You see, it wasn't the drink that caused those sexually provocative words, because that man was thinking those things in his utter sobriety.  What the drink did was loosen the lips, and when the lips got loose, out come the heart. 

You know, we say to one another, "Oh, I didn't mean to say that."  Probably what we're actually saying, if we're honest, is "I'm embarrassed I said what I meant," because something that I was actually thinking comes bursting out of my lips.  Now I'm embarrassed that it's been said, but it actually is a reflection of what I was thinking or what I was desiring. 

Bob:  Well, you know, a lot of our listeners, Dennis, in the course of raising teenagers or dealing in their marriage can look back, as Paul said, not very far, and recognize that some of the words that have come out that have reflected what's in their heart have not been honoring to Christ, and that's what we want to help them with as we work through this series.

Dennis:  Proverbs 18:21 says, "Words kill. They give life. They're either poison or fruit.  You choose."  We've been talking about a choice here, and it's fascinating how so many things in the Christian life come down just, really, to a few things, and it really is all about the Lordship of Jesus Christ, of Him being our Master, and us yielding to Him on a daily basis, and that's where the real hope is for a marriage that's broken, or a relationship that's not quite right, where the communication isn't occurring.  We need to become better skilled at communication.  But to do that, it may force us to go to Jesus Christ.

Bob:  And Paul has helped us dig beneath the surface on this issue to see that it's not just about words or about technique, but it's about our heart and about who you're going to serve and –(does a Bob Dylan impression) –“whether it's the devil or whether it's the Lord.  You're going to have to serve somebody.”

Dennis:  And I'm just glad that Paul's authority is not …

Bob: … Bob Dylan? 


We have copies of the book available in our FamilyLife resource center.  If you'd like to get a copy, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.

Dennis:  What are you listening to, anyway?  Is your car radio on the right station?

Bob:  I'll check it when I go home today.  We decided when we were looking for people who we wanted input on the subject of marriage for The Art of Marriage video event that we just put together that we would interview Paul, but we didn’t interview Bob Dylan.  And Paul did a great job, by the way. 

I want to say here, in front of you, that your contribution to the video event is really significant.  Along with Dennis Rainey and Al Mohler and Crawford Loritts and Barbara Rainey and Mary Kassian, and Voddie Baucham and others, you were a big part of what makes this video event for couples so helpful, because it’s both theologically substantive and still very practical and very helpful on the gritty issues that couples are dealing with in their marriage relationship. 

Let me just remind our listeners that the premiere weekend for The Art of Marriage video event is Valentine’s weekend, February 11th and 12th; 2-11-11 is when we kick it off. 

You can host one of these video events in your local church or in your community.  When I say you can do it, anybody can do it, anybody who has a desire to reach out to the couples in their community with practical biblical help for marriage.  The Art of Marriage video event is easy to execute.  All you need is something to show the videos on and something to play the sound back on, and an audience and some manuals for the couples, and you’re set to go.

Find out more by going to our website,; click on the link that you see there to The Art of Marriage.  You can watch the promotional trailer for this event; you can watch some of the clips from the six different sessions; you can find out more about how you can host an event, or you can find out where an event is being held near where you live. 

You type in your zip code and you see, “Well, look.  There’s this church that we’ve never been to that’s about thirty miles away; they’re hosting it.”  Well just go.  They’ve put the information up there so that folks like you would come out and join them at their church.  You don’t have to be a member of their church to go – just go and enjoy the event. 

Again, find out more online at  Click on the link for The Art of Marriage, and there is still time for you to host and event and you can also find out more about how to register for an upcoming event in a location near you if you’d like.

Now, before we wrap up here today, we’re hoping that as a couple you are getting together each day and spending some time praying, thanking God for his work in your life, maybe reflecting on what’s going on. 

In fact, a couple of years ago Dennis and Barbara Rainey released a couples’ devotional book called Moments with You that was designed with that thought in mind, that a husband and wife could read through this devotional together – a one-page devotional, take a few minutes to talk and to pray, and to make that daily discipline a part of their relationship. 

I know we are a couple of weeks into the new year, and you say, “Well, we’re not doing anything like that.”  Well, here’s a good chance to start.  You can get a copy of Moments with You when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month with a donation online at 

Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make your donation.  If you’re donating online, please remember to type the word “YOU” in the key code box on the online donation form, and if you call to make your donation, just mention that you’d like a copy of the devotional you heard us talking about on FamilyLife Today.  We’d love to get it sent to you and we do appreciate your financial support of the ministry.  We appreciate your partnership with us, and we’re glad to have you tuned in and listening each day.  Thanks for helping to support us.

We want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow.  Paul David Tripp is going to be here again and we’re going to talk more about communication in marriage and how we can do a better job of loving one another as we speak the truth in love to each other.  Hope you can be here for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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