Words That Control Us 5

We now know that words impose themselves upon us and that we are wise to be attentive to them and how they impact us.

We are now ready to consider the experience of having words thrown at us that we might wish to reject.  The ideal is to be able to recognise words and what they represent, so we can instinctively deflect any unwanted impact.

Playing Rugby

A friend suggested to me a simple description of the clash of jurisdictions.  We know that jurisdiction is the “right to speak” and we also know that certain environments impose constraints upon us.  For example, courts are places where we are expected to accept the authority of a judge and allow him or her to exert certain jurisdiction over us.

The example of the clash of jurisdictions that was suggested was the idea of a group of people happily kicking a rugby ball.  Imagine that you are one of them and you all enjoy chasing, kicking and catching the ball.

However, on one occasion as you run to catch the ball, you manage to grab the ball and pull it to your chest.  But as you do you immediately hear someone blowing a whistle.  You look up to see a red faced referee shouting at you that you have broken the rule.

Bemused you try to work out what is going on.  The man informs you that he is a soccer referee and you are not allowed to handle the ball.  You innocently shrug and explain that you were not playing soccer.  However, since he has the whistle, a badge, a flag to wave and a bunch of others standing around him who take him very seriously, you are not in a strong position.

The referee then begins shouting orders.  You must drop the ball, change into the right boots, get “on-side”, have a number on your back, know your position on the field, report to the bench, etc.  You try to argue about the rules of various games, but he is insistent and he is ready to have men escort you to the sin bin.

This is what happens when there is a clash of jurisdictions.

Extricating Yourself

When someone begins to impose their “overlay” of perceived rules onto you, it is important that you know how to extricate yourself.  You need to get out of the grip of the unwanted referee who is asserting himself over you.

Arguing the laws of soccer or rugby puts you in argument and the ref is not going to be impressed, nor will he want to be shown up by you.  The angrier he gets the more likely he is to overstep his bounds, when he has no rights in the first place.

Now, this is an allegory for such things as being pulled over by a policeman, accosted by some official knocking at your door, receiving a letter from the court, and so on.

In the many situations where someone is imposing their will onto you think about what you need to do.

Know Where You Stand

The first thing to determine inside yourself is where you stand.  If the referee has true authority over you then the referee has true authority over you.  Does he?

If he does not have authority and you then let him have authority, then he has authority, by your acquiescence.  Have you given him that authority?  Did you acquiesce to him? If you gave away your sovereignty, how do you get it back?

Knowing where you stand is the matter of “standing”.  Do you stand completely independent of all authority?  On what basis can you stand in such a place?  What higher authority do you appeal to that gives you any right to stand anywhere at all?

If you claim to stand under God is that just a fake claim, or do you know what God’s Word and Will is and have you truly submitted yourself to that word and will?  If you are claiming to stand in God-given authority but your life is an offence to God, you have no true standing.

Take Your Stand

Once you know where you stand then do all you can to take that stand.  The Apostle Paul put it this way about 2,000 years ago: “When you have done everything you can to stand, Stand!” Ephesians 6:13,14.

This means you resist the overlay of other people’s words and impositions.

You don’t have to be aggressive or belligerent in doing this.  The polite way to do so is to give Conditional Acceptance and to ask questions.

When someone asks, “What is your name?” you may reply by asking, “Who is asking for my name?”

You can then follow with: “What is your name?” “What is your purpose?” “Is there a problem?” “Do you have some claim against me?”

You can also let them know that you do not acknowledge their authority by saying something like, “I do not recognise you.” This tells them that their claim to authority is not registering on your radar, and it tells them that you are choosing not to defer to their claim of authority over you.

Stay Private

Governments, officials, police, courts and so on, are overlays.  The men and woman who hold official office and titles, such as policeman, judge, etc, were born naked and will take nothing with them when they die, just like every other man or woman on the planet.

So their official status is an “overlay”.  It is not inherent in their DNA or their natural existence.

So we separate the natural reality of flesh and blood men and women enjoying their natural existence, from the artificially created imposition of the world of fiction, created by words, labels and overlays.

The natural world is referred to as your “private” existence.  In that existence you have great freedom to enjoy life.

The fictional overlay that is superimposed over natural men and women is the “public” world.  In that world you are trapped by various rules and regulations, constraints, impositions, etc.

If you are living in your private existence, and can “stay in the private”, you are not subject to the impositions of the overlay.

Do Not Contract

When you defer to the artificial, fiction overlay of people’s words, titles, and so on, you effectively enter into contract with those things, that they are real and have power over you.  It is like accepting the demands of the official soccer referee when you were only having a kick around of rugby with your friends.

Do not enter into such contract. Step away from such offers of contract, either by conditional acceptance (I will listen to you once you prove you have right to impose your rules on me when I am not in your game), or by letting them know you do not “recognise” them.

That’s where the “Return to Sender” process, linked to a notice of “No Contract”, fits in.  When you get an official letter and you return it because you do not have contract, you have deflected its impact.

However, if you are part in contract and part out of contract you will get tangled up and end up in trouble with that angry referee.  So be quite clear where you stand.

Words To Live By

Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  And if you think about it there is no more authoritative voice in all eternity than that of our creator.  So the Word of God is living and powerful and brings life like no other word can.

You are living by words right now.  The Word of God sustains everything (Hebrews 1:3).  But you are also living by other words too.  Some of those words have brought life and some have brought death to you, in the form of limitation, cutting off your freedoms, and so on.

Now that you know much more about the impact of words I encourage you to search out words worthy of your creator and your eternal destiny.  Seek the good words to live by.

And while you are finding the right words to govern your life, be sure to words of life into others.

And may this exploration of words that control us bring you into new freedom and blessing.

Words That Control Us 4

We have seen that words have impact upon us and we can respond to attempts to gain control over us by various means.

Before we finish with this subject we need to consider how words impact us and what that might mean for us as we seek to remain free from their grip.  We can deflect people’s attempts to control us, but sometimes words invade our heart and mind with pervasive power that we cannot easily shrug off.

Map Overlay

If you have used a map program on your computer you know that you can click on and off various overlays.  For instance, you can have the map as a satellite image, with no roads, towns, borders or the like marked.  That, at the click of a key, an overlay of street names, town names, borders and boundaries and such like can instantly appear, superimposed over the image.

Now consider the significance of that for a moment.  The names and boundaries are not part of the natural landscape.  Whatever name you give to a road it is much like all the others in its vicinity.  The name is only a descriptor, not a component of the natural environment.

Some roads are called such things as “the mountain road” and everyone knows why.  Similarly the low road, the back road, the river crossing, and so on, have a natural element to their name.  But in London stretches of road will famously change name every kilometre or so, completely confusing anyone who does not know their way around.

The name or a road or town is an “overlay”.  And so too is the border between one county or nation and the next.  They are the product of words that impose a mental projection over the natural environment.

Living With Overlays

Whether you like it or not your whole existence is under siege by overlays.  The name your parents gave you, like the expectations of those around you, has been embraced into your life without natural reality.  And to show the point, consider how many people live with a pet name which is unrelated to their given name.  Which name is the right one?  Both are a projection over the natural life.

Impressions people have of you, including their prejudices for or against you, have profound impact on you.  Yet they are an overlay.  You were not born to be oppressed or limited by someone else’s opinion of you, nor to be chained by their words.  Yet many people end up imprisoned by the words of others.

I know of multiple examples of people whose lives were driven by a need to prove their intelligence, talent or significance, because at an early time they were sneered at because of a perceived limitation.  The urge to “prove yourself” is widely felt, and it speaks of the fact that an “overlay” has been imposed upon you which you are trying to shrug off.

Overlay or Description

God, as Creator and Lord of all, has the authority to describe and prescribe things.  The Bible gives insight into the various labels which God accepts, such as righteous and wicked, wise and fool, good and evil.

So some labels, or words used to describe us, are true descriptions.  Young, old, male, female, tall and short are descriptors.  But some of these worthy descriptions are open to change, such as from skinny to fat, young to old, brunette to grey haired, and so on.

God can even bring such transformation that a person who is cursed becomes one who is blessed.  A sinner can become a saint.  And, sadly, a righteous person can become wicked.

But, apart from those worthy descriptions which label the truth about us, at least in our present state, there are many “descriptions” which are impositions in themselves.

Fat and Ugly

A Christian minister described his attempts to assist a woman who struggled with self acceptance.  In one discussion with her she blurted out that she was “Fat and Ugly!”

The minister and his wife were shocked by the outburst, as the woman was slim and attractive.  So they investigated why she held such an opinion.  She explained that as a teenager she lived with an aunt who did not like her and with whom she argued.  On one memorable occasion the aunt became angry and screamed at the girl that she was fat and ugly.  The words not only stung, but became a permanent overlay in the woman’s life.

If you have been stigmatised by words, or felt limited by the descriptions injected into your life by others, then you know how words can become an overlay in your life.

Only an Overlay

While we think of a place, street or town in terms of the words we have learned to describe it, others, unaffected by the imposition, could come up with completely different ideas.  Your notions about things are often only an overlay.

What people in Melbourne think is hot weather is considered mild by people living in the north of Australia.  And what seems like heavy traffic to people in a country town is nothing to the intensity experienced in many cities around the world.  The individual perception is a personal overlay.

The suburb that some people think of as “home” is regarded by others as “the slums”.  What some think of as their big house is thought by others to be too small for their liking.


Since words are labels and those labels invade our thinking and become an overlay over our perceptions, relabelling things can be a powerful way to create a new overlay that invades people’s minds and changes perceptions.

Marketing companies do their best to put a good label and a positive spin on their product.  They want to associate their product with words that will invade the minds of the public with positive sentiment.

The arrival of refugees who don’t speak our language and who have strange customs could be labelled as an invasion and offensive against our identity, or an expression of our love and care for those in need.  The label is an overlay that impacts how we respond to the situation.

Sovereignty and Overlays

If you are created by God as a sovereign being, then how many overlays should you allow to entangle your freedom and rob you of the life God gave you?  If you are created equal to all others, how should your respond to labels that deny your equality?

When others impose labels over you that trap you into their claims upon you, denying you the natural life and freedom God gave you at birth, what should you do about it?

You may not be able to change other people’s perceptions, but you can certainly come to your own internal place of resolution about what labels and overlays you will accept upon your life.

Recognising Words

Having grazed widely through the subject of words that control us, the next thing to consider is how to be tuned in to the impact of words.

If we are attentive to the impositions, overlays and controls implicit in the words, labels, assertions and other expressions of those around us, including officials, governments, friends and society, we can hopefully assess and deflect those impositions.  We can even move into greater exploration of who we are.  So that is the topic of our next lesson.

Words That Control Us 3

We have seen how words impose authority over us, rightly and wrongly.

This article explores the options you have in responding to the words that are projected against you.

It may well be that you are rejecting words you should be heeding.  And it is also possible that you are responding to words that you should be ignoring.

Some Words Stick

The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied to the nation of Judah over two and a half millennia ago, almost 600 years before Christ.  Because he warned that King Nebuchadnezzar would make a second attack on Jerusalem and kill the people his message was rejected.

At one point Jeremiah wrote a lengthy prophecy and sent it to King Jehoiakim.  The king listened as the message was read to him, but then threw the message, page by page, into the fire.

The king and the people rejected the message but they could not change its accuracy.  The message was from God, Himself.  Jeremiah spoke with true, divine jurisdiction.  And so the prophesied destruction came, while Jeremiah was locked in the prison and spared from death.

The Word of God is not a word to be rejected no matter how much we don’t like it.  It is God’s living word and it brings about divine outcomes.  When we receive it in faith it impacts our natural life with divine grace.  If we reject it we will ultimately stand before God to accept the punishment for our rejection of truth.

Just as King Jehoiakim could not destroy the word of God, neither can you.  So making your own god or choosing to believe something that suits your sensibilities will make no difference.

Some Words Crumble

Just as Jeremiah’s words proved to be truly from God, other prophets in his day who opposed him gave empty prophecies.  Grand promises of deliverance were given by those who stood against Jeremiah.  Yet it was Jeremiah’s message that proved true.

And that reminds me of the prophecy given by Elisha when the Syrians surrounded Samaria and the people were starving.  Elisha prophesied that food would be abundant and cheap by the next day.  An attendant of the king scoffed at such a preposterous suggestion, but it came to pass.  The words stood true.

The scoffing of the king’s attendant were the words that crumbled.  In fact he was trampled to death in the stampede of people rushing out to the abandoned enemy camp to grab all the provisions left there.

Various Responses

So far we have seen that words spoken to people can be responded to in a variety of ways.

Words can be respected and obeyed, like the man who pulled his car over at the police officer’s demand and had his car commandeered for the policeman’s purposes.

Words can be rejected and thrown in the fire, as King Jehoiakim did to Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Words can be waited upon, such as the warring tribesmen did when Mary Slessor sent her nonsense message cloth.

Words can be deflected by responding with questions to challenge the jurisdiction of the one asking.

Words can simply be ignored, as many people do who have a copy of the Bible and never read it or attend to what it says.

Return to Sender

John Harris of the People’s United Community in the UK (tpuc.org) recommends that people simply return official documents to the sender.  John initially advocated writing “RTS” on the envelope, but subsequently recommended writing “No Contract. RTS”, or “NCRTS”.

Others suggest returning official letters with a stamp or sticker affixed, so you are not putting your own handwriting on the document.

John Harris points out that if you do not have a contract with these entities and they are trying to impose their will on you, you can simply send their attempts back to them, unfulfilled.

By returning the mail you show that you have not opened or accepted it.  Thus they cannot claim to have some “contract” with you by your acceptance of their documents.

Even if the document appears quite impressive, like Mary Slessor’s wax sealed cloth, it can be sent back without you accepting the imposition of authority by that entity.

Question The Authority

Another approach is to question the asserted authority, to expose its lack of jurisdiction.  This is exemplified in the Roger Elvick questions which he used in court, and which are linked to the Toothpick Story mentioned earlier.

The three questions Roger Elvick used to respond to a judge trying to impose authority over him are:

What is your name?

Do you have a claim against me?

Do you know anyone who does have a claim against me?

The 1215.org site suggests that the judge or official, such as a police officer, will remain silent.  That silence is taken as acquiescence or default agreement and confirms that there is no claim against you.  The site claims, “if somebody fails to respond or is standing mute it literally means you are in control and they are waving their rights.”

So you then discharge the matter.  In court Roger Elvick would say, “I request the order of the court be released unto me immediately.”  When there is no order to be released to you, you say, “It appears as though there is no more public business here. I’m out of here.”

Conditional Acceptance

Rather than rejecting the attempted assertion of authority, it is suggested that we should accept it, on conditions.  An example of this kind of conditional acceptance is seen in the encounter of Jesus Christ with some religious leaders in his day, 2,000 years ago.

The leaders asked Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things?”  Jesus advised them that he would answer their question if they first answered his.  He then asked if the baptism preached by John the Baptist was from God or from man.

The leaders did not want to answer, as any answer would cause them trouble.  So Jesus also declined to answer their question.  See the historical record at Matthew 21:23-27.

You might respond to a charge sent you by a council or court by saying something like, “I am happy to pay the amount requested upon proof that the claim is lawful.”  This is conditional acceptance of the offer or claim.  But in practice it puts the weight of responsibility onto the other person to prove their right to make any claim.

Asking Questions

In Conditional Acceptance you can see again the merit of asking questions in response to approaches made by others.  The person asking questions is in charge.

Remember the man who was called upon by a policeman to pull his car over.  Rather than object, argue or ignore the policeman, the man simply asked a question: “Is there some problem, officer?”

Think about questions you can ask that do not taunt the other, but put them on notice that you are a sovereign and are not yielding to their demands that your obey them.

However, if the other truly does have authority they have the right to demand a response, as God did when He called out to Adam in the Garden of Eden, and as God did when He challenged Job.

Words That Impose Themselves on You

The next consideration is the impact of words and their magical power to impose themselves and plant thoughts into our hearts and minds.

This is a major aspect of how Words Control Us, and so we will look at that in the next lesson.

Words That Control Us 2

We saw in the first article in this series that people can use words to control us.

This lesson looks at some of the various “words” that impact us and helps us assess which ones we should heed.

Words Control

If someone shouts a command at you and you obey that command then a significant social transaction has taken place.  You show yourself to be under their authority.

Now, someone might call out, “Watch Out!” to warn you of a danger.  Responding to that call does not put you under their authority.  But someone who demands that you do something as they prescribe, such as “Stop!” or “Come Here!” is bringing you under their control by their words.

I recall reading about a man who was driving in city traffic when a police officer called out to him, “Pull over here!” The man simply replied through his open window, “Is there some problem, officer?”

The officer called to him several more times but he did not obey, but simply repeated his question, “Is there some problem, officer?”

The officer soon tired of this and called to someone else, who did pull over.  The officer then commandeered the vehicle.

The man had honourably resisted the control exerted by the policeman.  The driver of the other vehicle did not resist and so came under the officer’s control.

Words Are All I Have

Back in 1968 the Bee Gees released a hit song with the line, “It’s Only Words and Words Are All I Have to Take Your Heart Away”.

And words can at times be all we have.  Yet words are very powerful, as the saying penned in Bulwer-Lytton’s 1839 play puts it, “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword”.  But this idea traces back to the fourth century Greek poet Euripides who said, “The tongue is mightier than the blade”.

So, while words may seem very lame at times, they are also one of the most powerful tools, or weapons, available to man.  Consider how readily people use them in scoring points against each other, from the children’s playground to the halls of power.

Some Can Speak

I have pointed out in earlier essays on Jurisdiction that God has the ultimate right to speak.  As creator He is immediately and powerfully authorised to speak whatever He will over His creation.  And so the words of God, God’s laws, rule our lives like none other.

Not only can God speak over us, but He gets to identify others who have the right to speak.  God says that husbands speak as the head of the home and that children must obey their parents.  Those who God authenticates are thus able to speak with authority, in fact, with God’s authority, so long as they honour God in what they say.

The schoolyard bully, however, does not have authority.  But then, neither does the teacher!

The teacher does not have inherent, god-given authority.  Nowhere in God’s Word, the Bible, are we told to obey all teachers.  It is up to each student enrolling in the class to submit to the teacher.  If they choose not to do so they will probably be removed from the class.

So, some can speak with inherent, god-given authority (so long as they honour God in their use of that authority), and others have authority because we confer that upon them for the convenience of our circumstances.

Consider, for example, how a child is under the teacher’s authority in the class, but the teacher cannot then invade the family home and usurp the parents’ authority.  The parents have inherent god-given authority, while the teacher has limited authority conferred by the student’s willingness to submit, and limited to a specific place and set of circumstances.

The Toothpick Story

I saw a report of a chap who went to court and defied the court’s assertions of authority.  He had several questions to ask the court which deflected the court’s claim of jurisdiction.  However the chap came undone because of a toothpick. You can find the full account at 1215.org.

“One guy went up there was chewing a toothpick. He knew how to ask the three questions, and he was cruising through them and he got down to the end and then looked a little bit confused as to where to go from there. At that point the judge from the bench said “Take that toothpick out of your mouth”. And the guy reached up with his fingers, took the toothpick out of his mouth, and the judge immediately yelled at the bailiff, “sieze that man and throw him in jail for ten days for contempt”. When he followed the orders of the judge, the judge became the head and he became the tail. What he should have done was continue to chew the toothpick and say, “Do you have a claim against me?”

This toothpick story illustrates the point that when we submit to someone else’s words we acknowledge their authority over us.  If the one speaking has authority then we are being lawfully and duly submissive.  But if the one speaking does not have authority and is trying to exert authority, we are best to deflect the words and not submit to them, or we could be oppressed by their abuse of authority over us.

Responding to Words

A person who is the “head” and not the tail would respond to the attempted impositions from others in a particular way.  They would be free from the imposition.

One way to be free from attempted impositions is to ignore them.

Recall the account of Mary Slessor, the missionary in West Africa who sent a home-made cloth document to two warring factions, instructing them not to fight until she had arrived to explain the significant message contained on the document.  Mary was asserting her intervention.

The warring parties could well have rejected her imposition.  They could have thrown her cloth into the fire or sent it back to her.  It had no inherent power of itself.  The only reason it had influence over them was because they allowed it to have such influence.  And, of course, there was the moral conscience of the men and Mary’s prayers for them.

Similarly for Gladys Aylward, the wild-eyed murderer could easily have cut her to pieces.  Her presence awakened the conscience and brought God’s grace into an otherwise godless situation.

Your Responses

In the next lesson I will explore the options you have in responding to the imposition of words into your life.  You may be rejecting words that you should heed.  And you may also be responding to words that you should ignore.

Words That Control Us 1

Those who control us do so by “Words”.

This series of articles walks you through an understanding of the Words that Control Us and what we can do about it.

This first lesson looks at the fact that Words impact us.

A Shout

The Deputy Headmaster at my high school (St Marys High – not a Catholic Girls School as some thought) was Jack Curry and he loved to catch people off guard with his shouted cry “You Boy!”

Just about everybody in earshot would freeze when they heard that distinctive, commanding call.  We would all turn around to see if “Curry”, as he was called by the boys out of earshot, was calling to us or someone else.  It was always a relief to realise he had someone else in his sights.

Occasionally the senior boys would mimic the “You Boy!” call, first creating a shock, then a chuckle as people realised it wasn’t Mr Curry.

Jack Curry was promoted to Headmaster at a nearby school and we were spared his intimidating call.

Getting Your Attention

If someone calls loudly near us we usually turn around to see if someone is trying to get our attention.

Someone may be calling to us, or to someone else.  So unless we check the matter out we won’t know.

They may be warning us of an approaching car or similar danger.  They may want to get our attention so they can sell us something, as happens when westerners visit some tourist destinations and the sellers want to hawk their wares.  There may be some official wanting our attention, or someone who simply wants to say “Hi!”

When people call for our attention we tend to naturally look in their direction and then assess the situation from there.  We can stop and listen, or walk on and ignore them.  We can heed the warning and adjust our actions as we see fit.  Or we can be completely dominated by the demands of the other person.  It is up to us to decide how to react to someone wanting our attention.

Speaking With Authority

While most of the voices we hear around us are just those of other people with no authority over us, it is possible that the person speaking has some right to be demanding our attention.

We use the term Jurisdiction to describe the right to speak word (diction) that have authority (juris).  The Deputy Headmaster of a school has a lot of authority and speaks with Jurisdiction.  But one of the junior students can be ignored, because they are without authority.

Yet at times a junior student would turn up in a class with a message demanding that some student report to the office.  That demand did not come in the name of the junior student, who was without authority, but usually came in the name of the Headmaster.  If the junior student was ignored then the Headmaster who sent that student was also being ignored, and that was a serious matter.

Someone doesn’t have to possess personal authority to speak with authority, if they are speaking under the authority of someone else.

When I Say “Jump”

Speaking with someone else’s authority is clearly illustrated in the words of a Roman Centurion who history records meeting with Jesus of Nazareth, 2,000 years ago.

The Centurion described his authority as follows:

“For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.” Matthew 8:9

The Centurion’s men did exactly what he told them to do, but only because the Centurion was “a man under authority”.  When the Centurion said “Jump” the men jumped.  But that is because when the Centurion’s bosses said “Jump”, HE jumped.

So some voices that call for our attention will be voices with delegated authority, giving them jurisdiction.

Imposing Our Words Onto Others

It is interesting to note that people tend to defer to those who are assertive.  If someone starts to assert their authority or speak in a compelling manner it is likely that a good percentage of people will at least pay attention.

Those of us who are trained in civility, to honour others, do as we are told, respect authority and so on, are highly likely to pay attention to someone who appears to have authority making assertions.

This is the process of imposing words onto others.  Most people do that, even in casual conversation.  Mostly it is an innocent negotiation for the attention and interest of others.

In official matters, however, it is a serious subject demanding our understanding.

Mary Slessor and Words

An amazing example of a person imposing their words on others comes from the legendary English missionary lady Mary Slessor who went to the remote tribes of Nigeria where no white man or woman had been before.

From 1888 she worked with the godless Okoyong tribe which delighted in bloodshed.  She often stood between war parties to stop them killing each other.

Her methodology was to call the leaders of the two fighting groups to account to her the reasons for their arguments.  She would set herself up in the shade of a tree with her knitting, and listen as each side put its case.  Her aim was to keep them talking until they had cooled off or it was too late in the day to do the fighting.  By this means she saved many lives, and did a great deal of knitting.

On one occasion she learned of a fight about to take place at some distance from her.  She cut out a piece of cloth and quickly made various ink markings on it.  She then rolled it up and closed it with a wax seal, giving it the appearance of something very important.  She sent it off by a man who ran to the scene of the fight and presented it to the leaders, saying that the white woman would be along soon to explain the meaning of the mysterious, and obviously important document.

When Mary arrived she unwrapped the cloth and made up her explanation of the random symbols, and thus averted the bloodshed that would otherwise have occurred.

Gladys Aylward and Words

Another feisty English lass who went to remote places was Gladys Aylward who ended up in the mountains of northern China.  On one occasion she was called to deal with a bloody riot in the local prison.  The local mayor and prison commander were terrified and so they demanded that she go into the jail and stop the riot.

She was pushed through a small door which was hastily locked behind her.  She then walked through a darkened tunnel to emerge into the courtyard where dismembered bodies lay about.  A huge man with a blood soaked meat cleaver stood nearby, his chest heaving.  Others were fleeing, crying in pain, or lying dead.

In what became her typical fashion, Gladys scolded the man for his bad behaviour and demanded that the man give her the cleaver, which he did.  Her unexpected appearance and forthright manner quelled the whole drama in a matter of moments.

Yet all Gladys had on her side, apart from her faith in God, was a forthright manner and a bunch of words.

Gladys later used the same demanding manner and calls to people to rally a village to deal with the aftermath of a deadly strike by Japanese war planes.

Imposing Words

In the examples of both these ladies we see the use of words which imposed something over the audience.

Asserting authority and using words enabled both of these godly women to bring about a positive change.  Yet what they were doing involved imposing their will onto others, by their resolute demeanour and their commanding words.

We too are impacted by those around us who use those techniques.  And those techniques are not always used for our good.

People in uniforms or with official positions, using their fancy words on fancy paper, or shouting their commands with an air of authority, can quickly herd people into the responses those people impose.  Yet, like the cloth sent by Mary Slessor, the documents and apparent significance can be completely fictional and of no real substance.

Under Control

You are already under the control of others who have used nothing more than assertion and words to impose their will onto you.

Some of those may have the right to speak.  They may have true “jurisdiction”.  But others may have assumed and asserted control that they do not have.

The purpose of this series is to explore the impact of other people’s words over you and the control they assert, so you can make your own decision about how you respond.