Fact Two for Today

 

fact2Yesterday I posted an article that gave you a fact a day to concentrate on for each day of the week.  The Tuesday fact is Small sparks can start big fires, so mind your manners and tame your tongue. The following steps will help you accomplish this:

Step 1: Recognize the power of this mouthy muscle.  James says the tongue:

  • Boasts great things
  • Is as destructive as fire
  • Is a world of unrighteousness
  • Pollutes the whole body,

Step 2: Rely on God for the strength you need:

  • James said the simple fact is this: no man can tame the tongue (3:8).
  • Philippians 4:13: I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me

Step 3: Realize that God hears every word you say:

  • Speak as though you are in God’s presence and talking face to face with Him.
  • Make the words of Psalm 19:14, your prayer: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Step 4: Reevaluate your motives. Pause throughout the day to assess your conversations, and ask yourself:

  • Why did I say what I said (Proverbs 17:27)?
  • Have I used my words to build people up or to tear them down?
  • Have my words been healing or hurtful?
  • Has my conversation been more than just rank criticism and slander nitpicking and complaining (4:11; 5:9)?

Step 5: Retune your heart. The tongue is the index of the heart, and the words you speak reveal the true condition of your heart.  Your heart will never be pitch-perfect until you begin to practice His principles:

  • Ask God to examine your heart and mind: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts (Psalm 139:23).
  • Fill your mouth with praise for God, so there’s no room for profanity.

As you think about the five steps above, keep in mind that God’s desire is for you to put away lying. to speak the truth (Ephesians 4:25; Psalm 15:2), and to be a person of true Christian character.

State of Emergency Declared: Heart of America Aflame

fdireSeveral years ago, Barber County, Kansas was home to me.  I lived in a spot in the road called Hazelton, and I was a frequent visitor of Anthony, Kiowa, and Medicine Lodge.  When I needed to stock up on groceries, I would drive to Alva, Oklahoma. Alva also had a tasty hamburger served at a café on the town square.

As I watched the news yesterday, I followed the raging prairie fire as it devoured rain-starved pastures and some 72,000 acres. I thought of my old friends in this rural pocket of Kansas, and I prayed for their safety and well-being.

The voracious appetite of a fire is a graphic illustration of some scripture found in James 3:6-10:

 A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!         ~The Message

The words you speak are ripe with the potential to be either healing or harmful. 

Think about the way you have spoken to people this week:  Have your words beaten them down and left them battered and bruised, or have you use the gift of language to encourage, instruct, and build them up?

If your tongue is in need of taming, it might help to ponder the principles below:

  • Foolish words cut like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18)
  • Pleasing words are like honey. They are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)
  • A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin (Proverbs 26:28)
  • Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29 ~The Voice).

Give some thought to the brute strength of your words: They can be as devastating as they are delightful, and even though they may be forgiven, they’re rarely forgotten.

Will people remember you for your soothing words that helped them to heal, or for language that was so heated it left them scorched and scarred…like the fires that have swept across the Kansas prairies?

Getting Through The Rough Times

roughtimesI’ve see it happen more than once:  A husband and wife stand side by side as they watch a raging fire engulf their home that housed a lifetime of memories.  I’ve heard them ask: “What will we do now.  How we will get through the loss of everything we’ve worked for?”

And bad news, there have been hundreds of times that I’ve had to inform a family that their loved one has died, and I’ve heard the lament: “How will I get through life without him?

Then, there is the dreaded “C” word.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve sat in a hospital room and seen a friend sucker punched with the news that the diagnosis is cancer.  They almost always wonder aloud: “Is it rough going through the chemo treatments?”

There’s a key to getting through rough times.  If you focus on just the rough the door of possibilities slams shut and there’s no resolution to your heartache.  If, however, you focus on getting through, you open the door of possibilities and unleash the potential of God’s promises.

Rough times either make you or break you; they either make you better or bitter.

God is in the business of getting you through the rough times: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God (Isaiah 43:1-3).”

The key to manage your rough times is to “enter through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:1-5).” ~The Message