Interview with Tim Cameron
Tim Cameron is the author of The 40 Day Word Fast: A Spiritual Journey to eliminate toxic words from your life. And 40 Days through the Prayers of Jesus: A Journey to Pray More Like Christ. Tim is a lifelong educator, graduating from the university of Tulsa with a masters in Teaching Art. He then worked as the director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Oral Roberts University and as headmaster of Oklahoma’s second largest private school, Metro Christian Academy. Tim claims that he never thought of himself as a writer, saying that he was more likely to coach the U.S. Mens Olympic soccer team than to author a book, that is to say highly unlikely. But during a personal struggle with his own health that caused him to have a negative attitude Tim decided to fast negative words. He then realized the transformative power of our words. This compelled him to write the 40-day word fast.
Well let’s start off with a really simple question: What is a word?
A word is something that comes out of our heart. God has given us the unique ability to formulate things in our heart into spoken sounds and those spoken sounds, according to the Proverbs 18:21, bring forth life or death. The spoken sounds reveal the innermost things in our heart. They are like a window into our soul.
We wish we could take back some of these sounds that come out of our mouths sometimes. And we say, I really didn’t mean that word, but according to Matthew 12:34 “Out of the abundance of the heart the sounds cometh.”
Can you give me an example of the power of a word? You said it has the power to bring life and death, that’s about as powerful as you can get. Can you give me an example?
There are a whole Industries built around speaking positive words, even secular Industries. Positive words are like verbal nutrients to the soul. They call us into our destiny. They create identity and worth in little kids.
Or they bring forth death. They destroy identity. They crush promises and futures.
Death and life is in the tongue. I don’t think we understand how dramatically powerful negative words are. Just a simple word of Gossip can destroy a person’s hard earned, lifelong reputation. One little Whispering morsel of gossip, it doesn’t even have to be true. One other example is of complaining. Everybody complains, right. We complain about the weather. We complain about the steak not being done the right way. Complaining is sending a message to God, “I really don’t believe you’re good.”
For the children of Israel complaining kept them from moving into God’s purposes for their life. I like to explain complaining this way, complaining is like a chain that keeps you held to the past. You keep living the past in the present everyday over and over again. See, when Moses wanted to see God, God said to Moses if you saw my face you would die. You hide behind that rock and I’m going to pass in front of you and when God did that the Bible says that Moses saw God’s goodness.
Complaining is saying, “God I really don’t believe you’re good” and it strikes at the very heart of God because God is good. So these negative words, oh my goodness! Sarcasm comes from the Greek word sarkasmos. If you look it up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary it says sarcasm: to rip the flesh apart like a dog.
I look at John chapter 17 and I say if Jesus had a mission statement it was in John 17 – I want you to be one like the father and I are one. I want my followers to be one with me and with each other. I want Unity. Unity is God’s essential purpose for everybody. For you and your wife, for you and your best friends, for the people that go to church together for the body of Christ at large. It’s what the enemy is always out to destroy. There is nothing that strikes harder at the essential purpose of God than this one word I’m going to say right now: Criticism. Criticism destroys Unity. If I listed the seven hugest dangers to the destruction of unity I put criticism number one and as a part B corollary to that I would put secret criticism in the heart. Secret criticism never voiced destroys unity because we are spiritual beings. We’re not bodies that have a spirit, we’re spirits that are in a body and we can be separated and not have unity and not even know it in the physical or the natural, but our spirits know it. Our spirits know something is wrong and because we’re being secretly critical in our hearts. It keeps us from being all the God has called us to be. It destroys Unity, the Essential purpose. John 17.
That’s interesting that you mention unspoken things that you keep in your heart. What is the power of voicing something? And when do you decide to speak something, perhaps into a relationship, that might be correctional or might be taken in a negative way. Is there a critical mass where it is better to speak positive criticism and deal with something rather than to keep it in your heart?
Let me address that part A and part B. Part A
The spoken word is powerful. By spoken word God called into being us and the world we live in and then he turned that over to us. We’re supposed to rule and reign over this earth and and see his kingdom come here right in our midst. so we do it by the spoken word and our actions. So the spoken word is so powerful.
So when do you speak something that is Correctional, instructional something that could be taken in a sense in a negative way. There’s a scripture in 1st Corinthians 14:1-3 where he talks about exhortation. We hear the word exhortation and we think it’s negative, but if you look at the literal meaning of the Greek it means to emphatically, with great zeal call somebody up higher to a higher place. God’s instruction that he gives us is to speak correction to other people. I have landed on this verse Psalms 25:10 “All the pathways of the Lord are Truth and mercy.” Truth, who wants the truth, right? Truth without compassion is harsh and compassion without truth is just mush. And it stands for nothing.
God wants us to speak the truth, but he wants it to be with monstrous compassion and kindness. That means speaking the truth of the right time and submitting and praying to God about when is that right time to speak words of Correction. The Lord speaks words of correction to us and they can get pretty severe at times but he does it in a way that our spirits, souls, minds, emotions our wills receive it. So its just part of a relationship.
As a man thinketh so he is. Most of our stinking thinking comes from having believed lies about ourselves. We don’t understand who we are in Christ. When we see ourselves we see all the missed opportunities all the failures shortcomings. That’s not what God sees. God sees the potentialand he wants us to become that. That’s the truth.
What was the impetus for writing the 40 day word fast?
The impetus for writing the 40 day word fast was this. I was in a vicious cycle of physical health failure for about 5 years and that had thrown me into a downward spiral of negativity. I was asking why, why, why is this happening to me. Why is a question of self-pity, of the victim mentality. So I was stuck and I caught myself being negative, critical, sarcastic, I complained about everything. It reached a head when one day when I was driving to church with my wife. I said something that was really sarcastic to her and I thought about it all through church and when we got home I apologized for what I had said. And in kind of a flippant way she said, “That went right by me, that’s just who you are.” And I thought O man, I have to do something about this. I said to the lord what can I do about all this stuff that’s coming out of my heart and I ran across Isaiah 58 where Isaiah says, “I am a man of unclean lips, I live among a people of unclean lips” and Isaiah cries out, “Lord this is the fast that I choose to break the bonds of wickedness. To unleash the chains that are on me and on my people.” And the lord says to him “Isaiah, I will hear your prayers if you stop pointing the finger of judgement if you stop speaking words of wickedness.” So Isaiah says ok this is the fast that I choose. So I heard that and I said I need to fast these words. So I just started doing a forty day fast and writing myself little devotionals. My friend Ben Ferrell did it with me and after about 2 or 3 days we looked at each other and said what are we supposed to be saying? And we were going, my goodness, we don’t know what to say anymore. And then we start thinking hey, Worship and praise should be coming out of our mouth. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Let worship be on my lips when I wake up in the morning. And that’s very scriptural. Words of wisdom, not judgement, compassion, kindness, tenderness. And so I started writing these little devotionals and I had numerous people tell me that I needed to get them published. I could never hear that because I didn’t see myself as a writer. In fact I said asking me to right would be like asking meto coach the U.S. Mens Olympic Soccer Team, theres no way! So Ben snuck my writingsto charisma publishing and they really liked it. And fast forward I did the 40 day word fast and then a kind of a follow up to that based on something else that was dramatically moving in my life and that was prayer. that book his called 40 Days through the Prayers of Jesus: A Journey to Pray More Like Christ. Because I read all of the books that I could find on prayer and after 6 months I still had a boring unnoticeable prayer life. And I said to the Lord what am I supposed to be doing, what am I missing here. And As clearly as I have heard anything I heard the lord say you need to look at my prayers and see what I teach you about prayer. So I went through the gospels 4 or 5 times and I wrote down and vetted every time Jesus opened his mouth and prayed. There were 23 times and as odd as it may seem nobody has ever written on all the times Jesus prayed in chronological order and said. What does Jesus prayers teach us about praying.
So I did that and I discovered all these mysterious and miraculous things about prayer and I put it in a book.
For example the biblesays while Jesus was praying he was baptized. While Jesus was walking along the road he saw a little child and he laid his hands on him and blessed him. While Jesus was praying he raised Lazarus from the dead. While Jesus was praying he ascended to heaven. Jesus was continually praying. He stole away in the mornings to pray on his own. There are numerous times when the disciples can’t find him and they know that he’s gone to the hills to pray.
One of the dramatic lessons about prayer is this. Can you get your arms around the fact that Jesus was 100% human? He faced every temptation. Hegot hungy, he got tired and because he was physical he needed to go and spend time with the Father and hear from the Father what his will was. Because Jesus’ will was to do the Fathers will. But he was 100% human and needed to hear. Jesus needed to pray. But his prayers were more about listening than speaking. So Jesus as a physical man was able to attain oneness with the Father and he was able todo that through praying. If Jesus needed to pray then we probably need to be praying too. We think wrongly about prayer. We think that prayer is about getting answers, well prayer is about getting answers, but that’s not the main thing that prayer is about. The most important thing about prayer is being still and finding intimacy with Jesus. It says in psalms 46:10 to be still and know that I am God. Be quiet then you’ll come to know him. You can know god by being still!