Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires of the Mouth

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26 20 NIV

The Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign started in 1944, and in 1947 the slogan that is familiar to many came to fruition; Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires (updated in 2001 to Wildfires). It is the longest public service campaign in the United States’ history. A campaign was derived to help the prevention of forest fires. Years of education gave the ownership to the general public to be more careful and to care for the world around you. The catchphrase reflects your responsibility.

 

Our family does not do “traditional” camping (unless a cabin with running water or hotel room is traditional camping to you). This doesn’t mean that we don’t love a good campfire.  This summer we spent some time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at our family cabin. The week was filled with cleaning out the overgrowth of trees and brush on the property, which meant a BIG campfire. Our burn pit is close to the lake, but is really in the middle of the woods (like most campfires). Being in the heart of the woods means being surrounded by a plethora of “fuel” if a fire is left to its own devices. So, before we left the cabin or went to bed, we had to make sure that the fire was out.

 

The wisdom from Proverbs 26:20 resonated with me. It says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” You see, a fire is only going to burn if it is fed. Our tongue is the fire and when you remove gossip or the “fuel,” it dies down. The best way to end (avoid) a quarrel? Keep your mouth shut!  Don’t get involved in what doesn’t concern you. Don’t take up offenses of others and don’t be easily offended. Don’t talk about what you don’t know and be very slow to talk about what you do know. Practice self-control in the moment and show Christ-like love at all times. Don’t be the fuel for the fire and the fight!

 

James 3:5-6 says “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell.” This just reinforces that our small tongue can do big damage.

 

Don’t fuel the flame of gossip and cause fights, only you can prevent wildfires of your mouth!

 

Erin Bormes

Consistently Strong

James 3

James 3 5 NIV

Have you ever heard young boys arguing? It may begin as an argument about which is faster but many times it will end up with the two boys shouting something to the effect of, “My dad is stronger than your dad!” Often times we see our fathers as a symbol of strength, but what does strength look like? Is it a bodybuilder with bulging muscles? Is it a sprinter with unbelievable speed? These can be measures of physical strength but the strength that we are called to display is more than just strength of body.

The world tells us that a strong person should “get mad and fight like a man” God tells us through James to control our speech and even to control our anger. In chapter one he said, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry”. James 1:26 tells us “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless” In Chapter 3 he says that anyone who does not stumble in what he says is a perfect man, I can tell you I am far from perfect. He goes on to explain how such a small part of our bodies can control and lead so much of our life. When I take a flight I often sit near the wing and will watch the flaps as the pilot makes adjustments to control the aircraft. It always amazes me to see that such a small change, in a relatively small piece of the plane, can determine the altitude of such a massive machine as it carries me through the air at hundreds of miles per hour. James 3:5-8 says

5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

Although the tongue is such a small part of our body it is what we use to express our thoughts and emotions to those around us. Jesus even said that our words are the overflow of our heart. Does that mean when we are sarcastic and disrespectful to those around us that is what is truly in our heart? That can be a disturbing thought sometimes. Perhaps we should use our words to view the contents of our heart.

When I lived in the South I would hear someone say something inappropriate and another person would ask, (insert your best southern accent) “You kiss yo momma with that mouth?” James says something similar but with even more force. He says, “With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, … these things ought not to be this way.” We should seek to honor both God and people with our words.

We should be consistent with our thoughts and actions.

We should be consistent in the strength of self-control.

It takes true strength to control your tongue.

Show strength that builds up, not tears down!

-Bill Dunn

Worship God with your Body

Col 3 5a

Free Theme Week: Worship

Chapter reading for the day: Colossians 3

There is a particular “truth” that is extremely pervasive in our culture, the news, social media, etc. This “truth” is that you are the sole determiner in what you decide to do with your body and that no one else has the right to tell you what you can or can’t do with it. If you want to tattoo your whole body do it. If you want to fill your body with botox and recreate your image through plastic surgery have at it. If a woman wants to get an abortion, how dare anyone tell her she cannot. If you want to sleep around with different people in the name of finding yourself and wanting non-committal sex, more power to you. We are bombarded with messages everyday about how the individual is the authority of their body. There’s a problem though; this is a lie.

The truth is that humans are not the sole authority over their bodies, God is. The reason he is the authority is because he is the creator of our bodies (Psalm 139) and as disciples of Jesus we are to honor and glorify God and Jesus in our body. We are to subject our bodies to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and use our body for the glory of God and Jesus. Now there are many ways we can do this but for today we will look at two ways in which we can worship God in our body.

  1. Food
  2.   Sex

Food is a particular problem in America. We can eat food whenever we want and eat however much we like. The problem with this is that many Christians, along with Americans, are overweight and unhealthy. God created food to be good and for us to enjoy. The problem is when we indulge too much in food and we hurt our bodies with disease and premature death. The Bible warns against gluttony (Prov. 23.21, Philippians 3.19). When our bodies are slowed down by being overweight, too tired, and fighting disease the ministry God has given us is hindered. The remedy to being in control of food and honoring God with your body is self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5.22-23). Let us pursue self-control when it comes to eating. Let us pursue self-control when it comes to the quantity and quality of the food we eat. When we do this we honor and love God with our body. Your body is for more than just to take pleasure in food it is to worship God and minister to others.

A second way to love and honor God with our body is to obey God in his design of sex. Again God created sex to be good but only within the parameters that he set up. These parameters are the marriage union between a husband and wife. Whether you are married or single, any person can use sex outside of God’s will. Instead of listing activities that fall outside of God’s design for sex, I’ll speak positively to God’s will for sex. It really only comes down to two things:

  1. A husband and wife are to be sexually fidelitous
  2. A single person is to be abstinent in their body and mind until marriage

God states plainly in I Thessalonians 4.3, that his will for his people is to abstain from sexual immorality. Participating in sex the right way results in us loving and worshipping God with our body. As Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit which is in you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” – I Corinthians 6.19-20

-Jacob Rohrer

 

Not with Lustful Passion

THURSDAY

1 Thessalonians 4 4

1Th. 4:4 that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

 

We wrote yesterday that the most important thing in making moral decisions is to know what God has said. The second most important is to exercise self-control. The first has an external source — what has God said? The second is internal — What does it mean to have self control?

 

Not everyone agrees with me, but I believe that in life, after being true to God, we must be true to self. That’s more important than anything else. That doesn’t mean, “if it feels good, do it.” the mantra of my generation, but rather, what is best for me as a one of God’s creation. Paul writes about moral decisions in these terms in 1 Corinthians:

 

1Cor. 10:23   “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

 

This world says that we can do anything. Can we stop and ask, “What is actually good for me?”

 

I have worked with many people who have practiced the world’s view of sexuality, i.e., “I can do anything I want to do.” I truly love people who have been caught up in sexual sin, still see them as people for whom Jesus died, but I cannot say that their life choices have been good for them. Their choices have made them miserable, sometimes have even shortened their lives.

 

Making good moral decisions includes respecting ourselves and not hurting ourselves through bad choices.

 

-Greg Demmitt