James 3

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

It can be a challenge to control what we say. James describes the tongue like a poisonous and evil beast we can’t tame. He says that it’s a fire that sets the whole cycle of nature ablaze. That’s a lot of power to ascribe to one small part of the body. How can it be so powerful?

James gives us two potent analogies for how this works. You can put a small bit in a horse’s mouth and be able to steer them wherever you want, and you can steer a large ship with a small rudder. It’s the same with the tongue. It’s a small part of the body, but it has great “steering power.”

Have you ever met someone who is just always a positive thinker? It’s equal parts encouraging and annoying how they can always manage to put a positive spin on things. On one side, it seems like they’re not acknowledging the reality of the situation, but on the other, they might have a deeper handle on reality. There is something I can learn from this kind of person. Thinking and saying positive things is like a small investment in those truths. It signals that we are aligned with them and committed to them, and when that is the case, we’ve paved the road for positive actions.

The same could be true for negative thoughts, words, and actions. If you’re putting your chips down on your dismal predictions, you want to be right. Sometimes we want to be right more than we want things to be right, so we can say, “See, I told you so.”

The influence of your tongue goes far beyond just yourself. Imagine you are having a conversation with someone you care about. Somewhere along the line, you start interpreting each other incorrectly (which happens all the time), and one or both of you gets triggered by what the other says. In such a moment, especially when you are angry, it is like all control of the tongue goes out the window. You are suddenly saying hurtful things that you are wishing you didn’t say—even before you finish saying them. The tongue takes over and starts steering the conversation into a fiery disagreement. This is real. You know it’s real because you’ve experienced it. This is the wildfire James is talking about.

For moments like those, it is appropriate to remember to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (James 1:19). When my pastor, Michael Hoffman, talks about this verse, he says that is why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. If only this was something I could remember more in the moments that count. When you really put effort into hearing people, you take some of the destructive ammunition away from the tongue.

These days, we have quicker and easier ways to cause wildfire than James could ever imagine. I’m pointing at social media. The internet is an amazing innovation and it’s hard to imagine my life without it, but we were clearly not ready for it as a species. Now we are dealing with a beast more ferocious than just the tongue. Now anger, polarization, fear, disillusionment, disinformation, and pure stupidity can be spread across the world in just a short moment with a comment, tweet, post, video, or what-have-you. Those who see or hear it will likely not react or filter themselves as if they are interacting with a real human, and their response will reflect that. It’s a terrible feedback loop. To make it worse, there are algorithms lurking in the background making sure you see the things that are most likely to trigger you. If the tongue is a wildfire, social media is uncontrolled nuclear fission.

Somewhere around 10 years ago now, I realized that social media was not a healthy thing for me, for various reasons. I imagined what would happen if I just quit using it. So one day I quit, and I’ve never missed it. I’m not saying you should do the same, but if you ever find yourself burdened or distracted by it more than you know is healthy, consider it.

The things we say really do affect us. They ripple out and affect our families and friends. They touch our communities and influence our world in ways we don’t even comprehend. This is the reality that James recognizes and wants to warn us about. And given how fast and wide technology allows our communication to spread, that means we have an even higher level of responsibility for what we say.

-Jay Laurent


1. When was the last time you started a wildfire with your words?

2. Are there any strategies you could use to help tame the beast that is your tongue?

Godless Chatter

2 Timothy 2

Monday, September 12, 2022

As a Special Education teacher, I usually chose to eat lunch in my classroom – not only so I could complete my work early and head for home the very second my duty hours concluded, but also to avoid all the gossip that was rampant in the teacher’s lounge. (There was much unwholesome chitchat among the teachers about problematic students and challenging parents, and I tried to avoid it; I would be lying if I said I had never joined in, but I tried to stay away also to avoid the temptation to gossip.) However, when my Special Education team decided through testing, observation, and collaboration that a certain student had progressed sufficiently and therefore no longer qualified for intervention services, his mother sought legal action to force the school district to continue his therapies. This led to innumerable meetings among his intervention team, which included oodles of hours to complain whenever the parent was not present. Though many of the staff’s grievances against her were legitimate, it was a very toxic and negative environment. I was especially disgusted by the way in which the atmosphere suddenly changed to small-talk chatter through seemingly-friendly smiles once the mother entered – the very same person who had been the source of much degrading talk just a moment before. Worst of all, whenever I was around such hostility, I felt that it negatively impacted my ability to be the loving, kind, student-focused teacher I wanted to be. It drained my energy, my love, my joy, my focus. 

Though I’m more than a decade removed from the teacher’s lounge now, I’ve discovered another rampant source of dissentive arguments: social media. I’ve learned the hard way that it is nearly impossible to change the mind of someone via a FaceBook thread, and that otherwise-kind folks can be exceptionally harsh and judgemental when they’re behind a screen rather than face-to-face. Most likely some of you have noticed this sad reality as well. 

In 2 Timothy 2:15-17,22-24, Paul reminds Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene… Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful…” Paul adds that this kind of quarrelsome, godless chatter is from the devil. 

We have a higher calling as followers of Jesus, and especially as leaders, to watch our mouths. We must conduct ourselves in such a way that there is nothing of which to be ashamed, living according to biblical principles. As representatives of Jesus, if we are engaging in negative talk, we are distracting from the message of Christ and even tearing down the body of Christ. Such behavior also takes away our joy and our focus on the task God has set before us. Though the sinful natures in us might want to join in with the crowd, we are called to flee those desires and instead seek after “righteousness, faith, and love” as we are “kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

In the earlier verses of this chapter (3-9), Paul is reminding Timothy to work hard and keep focused on the goal of serving his Savior. He compares this suffering and dedication to the steadfastness of a soldier, the drive of an athlete, the persistence of a farmer, and ultimately, the dedication of Jesus Christ. Though Paul is in chains, he reminds Timothy that the Word of God is NOT chained – the Good News still needs to be shared! Soldiers, athletes, farmers all have to work very hard to reach their goals. They can’t afford to be distracted by foolish talk, and neither can Timothy be chained to negative chatter or anything else that holds him back from fulfilling his calling. It is important for all of us to keep focused on the goal of serving Jesus in each decision and action, whether big or seemingly small. 

-Rachel Cain

Reflection questions: 

Think about your break room conversations or your social media behavior… would people know by your actions that you are a follower of Jesus? 

What are the “evil desires of youth” from which God has set you free?

What kinds of things do you need to stay away from or spend more time doing  in order to better focus on the work God has in store for you?

Share Your Story

Luke 24

Luke 24 33 34 NIV

What if social media existed at the time the events of Luke 24 took place?

Which one of the women would have been live streaming on Facebook the angels telling them that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb – that he had risen.

How many retweets would there have been of the news that Jesus had spoken to the men on the road to Emmaus?

How many people would have seen the SnapChat story of Jesus eating broiled fish with his disciples?

What hashtags would have been used with the Instagram photo of Jesus’ ascension?

If social media existed at that time, there is no doubt in my mind that the news would be viral and everyone worldwide would have heard the news in a matter of hours.

Why is it then that even with today’s modern methods of communication, there are still those who do not believe, much less know about Jesus?

I think it’s because it takes a personal encounter between someone who already has a relationship with Jesus to tell someone else about the risen Lord. Just like it took in Luke 24. The gospel is best shared when it can be associated with a personal story or testimony. Do you have your story ready to share with others?

Just like the women who went to visit the tomb or the disciples who walked 7 miles to Emmaus and then ran 7 miles back to Jerusalem (all in one day) you too have a testimony to share with others.

In the coming New Year, look for ways to share your story with someone who needs to hear that #JesusLives.

Bethany Ligon

T.H.I.N.K before you speak

Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21 23

Have you ever had the case of the “open mouth, insert foot” syndrome?  I am sure we can all identity with a situation where we said something that got us in trouble. We might let a comment slip or we say something before we T.H.I.N.K about it.  Regardless of what was said, it ended in trouble and someone’s feelings being hurt.


The wisdom that I gleaned from today’s Proverb was found in 21:23 (The Message), “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” The NIV tells us to guard our mouth and tongue.  When I think of “guarding” my mouth and tongue, I envision a small solider pacing back and forth in my mouth being watchful of my words making sure they do not run off on their own. Ultimately preventing me from saying something I would regret long term!


In Proverbs 18:21 it says that the power of the tongue is life and death and in James 3 it says that our tongue also is a fire and it can set our lives on fire. Since we don’t have a solider guarding our mouths and words, I wanted to share an acronym that I learned years ago in hopes to help with the guarding of our own mouths.


T- Is it true?

H -Is it helpful?

I – Is it inspiring?

N – Is it necessary?

K – Is it kind?


Once we say something, we cannot take it back. So be careful little tongue what you say. Make sure what we say is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind (and Biblically correct!). Yes, you need to T.H.I.N.K. before you speak!


I think it is equally important to note that this can go for social media as well.  Though we are not actually speaking on social media our words are shared through our fingertips. The tricky thing is that people seem to think that words online don’t have an impact and that there is no personal connection. Unfortunately, online words can be stronger and more harmful than face to face. So, you need to T.H.I.N.K before you post!

Erin Bormes











So Much to Consider

Hebrews 10_24
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:22‭-‬25 NIV
In this day and age, it’s not always easy to be real.  The influence of social media has pressured most of us into unrealistic expectations.  The constant “everything is the greatest ever” post, or the crazy filters that make us all look like models.  But reality is different, and you know what?  That’s just fine for God.  He wants our best no doubt, but he also wants us exactly how we are right now. That’s why we should draw near to him with a sincere heart, God knows us intimately already, so there’s no reason to try and fake anything with Him.
Knowing that we’re accepted just as we are, should put us at ease. With that we also know we are forgiven, we were bought with the price Jesus paid.  This means we don’t have to carry the baggage that sometimes comes with the regret of decisions made.  This can be really freeing for some.  So if we’re able to be real, and we know we’re forgiven, what’s next?
This scripture says to let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, and encouraging each other.  This implies that we should take time to think of ways to help and encourage our brothers and sister in the church.  Can you imagine how great church could be if we all made it a priority to be there as much as possible, and continually thought of more ways to encourage one another?  What if we made it a priority to spend time together outside of the four walls?  We could change the world. Maybe that’s a bit optimistic, but I do know we would at least change ourselves.
-Jerry Briggs




I think I was in my Elementary school cafeteria when I first read the phrase “You Are What You Eat”. Of course, the posters placed in the cafeteria wanted us to realize that it is important to eat nutritious food in order to be healthy and fit.  At the time I probably had tater tots and homemade pizza on my tray. Not sure what I thought about being a Tater Tot.

As we grow up, we understand that what we eat is vital for disease prevention, growth and good health. Because we know this, we try to determine what our every day eating habits should be. In the same way, we need to be discerning about what we feed our minds.

We are constantly taking in what is around us and as Christians, it is important to put only the best into our hearts and minds. In Philippians 4:8 we are told what should occupy our thoughts. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” So we need to be intentional about what we are thinking and how we are spending our time. This week I saw that the average American spends 7 years and 8 months of their lives watching TV and 5 years and 4 months on social media (Mediakix). What might seem like an innocent time-killer could actually use 16 years of our lives. So how would the Apostle Paul instruct us to occupy our time? In Colossians 3, we are told, “12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So there we have it. Everything we say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father. Let’s truly rely on God when we pray to “give us today our daily bread” because hopefully we are becoming that daily bread.  We Are What We Eat.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Social Media Warning: Stripping on a Winter’s Day

Proverbs 25 – Thursday

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”   Proverbs 25:20

Prov 25-20

Any of us could be forgiven if, by looking at our latest social media feed, we were surrounded by people full of joy living their best life today.  It’s easy to see how perfect our friend’s lives appear when viewed one photo, tweet, or snap at a time.  It’s a perfect and tailored vision of what their lives are.


It isn’t uncommon for me to find myself not refreshed by spending a few (many) minutes on my latest Instagram feed, but actually more tired, weary, and heavy.  In fact, recent studies have shown that spending more time on social media platforms actually increases the likelihood of depression.  I know that I’m not the first one to say this, but holding our own lives – with all its boring, sad, weird bits – against the lives we see portrayed every day in these feeds is a pretty easy way to see yourself into a sadder state.  


The thing is, we have a hard time stopping.  We delete our Facebook, shut down our Twitter, and delete Snapchat from our phone.  But before long, it’s right back again.


I want to talk about this, because I think that this verb from Proverbs speaks as deeply to how we treat ourselves as to how we treat others.


The more obvious way to read this verse is to see it as a directive to treat others and their pain with the respect it deserves.  If someone’s in pain, don’t try to gloss over it.  If they’re hurting, quit trying to just make them laugh.  Quit telling me to smile.

And I can easily point out a ton of examples of how we see this same message echoed throughout scripture. The best thing that Job’s friends do isn’t to try to tell him how to fix it all, but to sit with him in the ashes and mourn with him.  Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  God sent Christ to meet us exactly where we are.  


The Christian message is one of meeting people in their pain and sharing its load with them.  Just like the song says, lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend.  I’ll help you carry on… (you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head).  

But I want to focus on how we can each steal garments away from ourselves and pour vinegar on our own wounds.  Although we can and do find all sorts of crutches in our life, few of them have the alluring power that social media has inspired over the past decade.  Why?  Because unlike many addictions, social media – when misused – can give us the fleeting sensation of being connected with others without any of the benefits of actually engaging in relationship with them.  


Because social media also has the ability to be a transformative tool for actual social engagement.  It can help us find a community of friends who will help us bear that load (to help us carry on…get it???).  I don’t want you to mistake this as a tirade against social media usage, but rather as a call to reflect on how we should keep it in its proper orientation.  Where digital connections enhance and strengthen the bonds you’ve built IRL (in real life), it can provide a way to stay connected in meaningful ways like never before.  But if it has become an addiction that keeps us from engaging in the richness of the world around us, then we may find ourselves stripping off our own clothing on a winter’s day.


We need to not only treat others emotional trauma with the kind of respect and “sitting-with-ness” it deserves.  But, we need to be attentive to our own emotional needs so that we can feed ourselves with relationships and community that doesn’t just feel engaging, but actually is.  


-Graysen Pack

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