I did a lot of listening during those years of ministry, and I still do.  One word has concerned me more times than I can count.  It’s called a conjunction, but it usually does something much different from its purpose, “to join together.”  It more often confounds, confuses, and condemns.  It’s the harmless word “but,” and it tends to negate everything that comes before it in the sentence.

“I know the weather is nice, but…”

“I love my husband (or wife), but…”

“I know he’s not the leader we need, but…”

“I believe in world peace, but…”

“Our church welcomes everyone, but…”

“I care about homosexuals, but…”

“I will feed the hungry and help the poor, but…”

You see what I mean?  Let’s be careful when we’re tempted to qualify a statement by inserting something that ruins the good in our words and in our hearts.