When the Stars Shine Bright

sky2_1552774iI’ve been told that the English language can be difficult to comprehend due to the multiple definitions a single word can have.

As an example, think of the word “light.” It can be used in many different ways:

  • The speaker shed some light on the subject.
  • Her suitcase was heavy, and she wanted to lighten her load.
  • He turned on the light switch, so he could see.

Light can also:

  • Bring comfort when a person is frightened
  • Be discomforting when it reveals a secret
  • Guide us or help to give direction: Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).

Many years ago, I had a conversation with Richard Gregory concerning his time in the navy. When the ship was sailing under a “lights out order,” an officer would summons Richard to the deck. Richard could look at the stars at night and tell the officer what time it was.

Richard could do this because he was a student of astronomy, and he had memorized four important landmarks in the night sky:

  • The 0-hour circle
  • The 6-hour circle
  • The 12-hour circle
  • The 18-hour circle

Richard’s ability to comprehend the night sky was a benefit to his shipmates. It not only told them the hour of the night, but it also helped to guide the ship.

In I John 2:5, John used a word that is meaningful to our discussion: “Whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected.” The word “keeps” was a nautical term. Sailors in John’s day, would speak of “keeping the stars,” or charting their course at night by the stars.

The Star that shines more brightly than any other is the one that Peter referred to as the “morning star,” and He is the one to follow:

We ourselves heard God’s voice from heaven when we were with Jesus on that holy mountain. We have a fuller confirmation of the message of the prophets. You would do well to pay close attention to this word; it is like a light that shines for you in the darkness of night until the day dawns when the morning star rises in your own hearts.

~2 Peter 1:18-9

Think about it: You can lighten your load, brighten your path, and find your way through the darkness when you chart your course by the light of the Morning Star.

The Insanity of Profanity

watch your languageLearning a new skill can be difficult, but it might be even harder to break a bad habit. Learning how to tame your tongue might be a new skill that also manages a bad habit.

James addressed untidy tongues when he said:  “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body (3:2).”

When James used “word” in the verse above, he chose “logos.” In classical Greek “logos” was more than just the spoken word; it also included the inner thought that gave birth to the spoken word.

We live in a time when too much of our language is mono-syllabic, four letters, and laced with profanity.  James said the tongue is “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”  He went on to say that it’s not logical to think that you can bless God in one breath and spit out a steamy tirade of cussing that belittles your fellow man in your next breath:

No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?  Can a fig tree, bear olives? Can a grapevine bear a fig? No, and no spring yields both salt water and fresh (3:8-12).”

The first 6 words in the verses above hold the key to taming the tongue.  You can’t do it by focusing on what you say.  You need to concentrate on the thought that precedes the talk.

If you fail to focus on the thought your talk will continue to conform to the profanity of the world.  It’s when you begin to manage the mental component  of communication that you can begin to experience a transformation of your tongue.

When you read this section of James, the insanity of profanity includes more than just cussing.  The discussion also centers on any communication that’s vulgar, uncouth, and unrefined, and it includes gossip and lies.

Since “logos” takes into consideration both the spoken word and the thought behind the word, you can change your talk by changing your thought.  Here are some tongue-taming thoughts for your consideration:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. . . and the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:8

The words that spring out of your mouth will be less salty and more pristine if the thoughts that precede them are noble, just, and pure.  Take some time today to meditate on these things.

Blending In or Standing Out

01hunter-girl-buck-wear-realtree-pink-shirt-3I’m not sure how they have been success in doing it, but many retailers have convinced the consumer to pay high dollar$ to purchase their goods and then become a walking billboard advertising their wares.  The clothing  companies are a good example:

  • Under Armour: Earn Your Armour
  • Nike: Just Do it
  • Reebok: Because Life Is Not A Spectator Sport

On a recent trip, I noticed the many different messages emblazoned on the clothing of people as they walked past me: I noticed their behavior as well.

When I thought of the contrast between their messages and they were actions, I was reminded that Jesus said we are known by the fruit we bear.  He also said: “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).”

Some of these walking billboards were advertising their faith.  Sadly, many of them were in violation of the truth in advertising laws.  Their shirts made bold statements declaring their allegiance to Christ; however, their words compromised the integrity of the message.

The incongruity between their walk and their talk, reminds me of James homily on the tongue:

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!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? ~James 3

One of the reasons people are so conflicted today is they’re more concerned with their reputation than they’re their character.  You may coast through life with a good reputation; however, character flaws made of sand eventually crumble like a weak foundation in a massive earthquake.