September 23, 2018
We’ve been working our way through the book of James this month, and I mentioned to you last week that this book, even though it comes in the form of a letter, really has more in common with Old Testament Wisdom literature than Paul’s letters to the early church. James has encouraged us to accept all people without showing favoritism to the rich. He’s taught us to listen first and speak second, and when we do speak, to mind our tongues.
This is all part of becoming more like Jesus, that process we call discipleship. As we work our faith, our faith begins to work in us, bringing us to spiritual maturity. In today’s passage, James gets to the very heart of his message. He asks a really important question: why settle for worldly wisdom, when your life can be guided by heavenly wisdom? Continue reading
September 16, 2018
My mom used to say, “Watch your tongue, young lady; if you aren’t careful, you might cut your lip on it.” She understood, even if I didn’t, how much damage the words coming out of our mouths can cause. And she knew, even if I didn’t, that the person most damaged by my sharp tongue might be … me.
I knew that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was a lie. I’d walked to school listening to a classmate chant, “Your daddy’s in jail, your daddy’s in jail” from across the street for four long blocks, and I’d heard that same chant on the way home for those same four long blocks. I’d suffered through my third grade teacher holding my paper up in front of the class to tell everyone in the room how not to do their math homework. I knew how much words could hurt.
In today’s passage from the book of James, he dives a little deeper into the idea we heard a couple of weeks ago: “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) When we let our tongues run ahead of us, it can cause a lot of trouble. Continue reading
September 6, 2018
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to make a decision, and you just couldn’t decide? You’d looked at all the options, and there didn’t seem to be one right answer, one perfect solution. So you asked for some help. You talked to someone you trusted to get their opinion. And after they listened to all those options, they just shrugged their shoulders and said, “Do whatever you think is best. You’ll just have to make a judgment call.”
We see it all the time in sports. The referee makes a call on a play that isn’t really clear from the sidelines, so they review it. And as the commentators in the booth discuss the slow motion video of the play from all possible angles, they can’t decide which way it should go, either. But the game has to go on. Everyone depends on the ref’s best judgment to make the final call.
We make judgments all the time. We make choices based on the best information we can gather. Sometimes those choices are good ones, and sometimes we make poor choices, Either way, every choice we make is a judgment call.
But there’s a difference between judging and being judgmental. Continue reading
September 2, 2018
Last week, we talked about being the church instead of just going to church. We learned from the Psalms that we can only thrive when we are firmly planted in the house of the Lord. That kind of planting requires an all-in commitment, and it involves getting our roots connected to each other as well as to God.
But how do you do that? How do you become a disciple of Jesus Christ who thrives, whose faith grows exponentially? How do you apply the principles Jesus laid out for his disciples more than 2,000 years ago to life in our 21st century culture? How does working your faith develop a faith that works? Continue reading