Speak Up.

I really love my mama.

She knows who I am, but sees who I was created to be, and she reminds me of who that is all the time.

This used to drive me nuts.

I am a person who is very black and white. Things either are or they aren’t. So when I would say “I’m sick.” and she would come back with “No, you are healthy and strong. You walk in perfect health.” I felt like she didn’t listen to me. When I would complain about someone or something, she would always counter it by reminding me of something good. And I would think “MOM. I JUST WANT TO COMPLAIN.”

And that’s the problem. Why would someone want to complain?

Because there are power in our words, and if we can keep speaking negatively about ourselves and our situation, the enemy holds the power over those things.

If something is clearly wrong, I don’t need to say it’s wrong. If someone is bothering me, I don’t need to tell someone else about it. The phrase “misery loves company” is so true. Bitterness breeds like rabbits and spreads like wildfire.

Almost all of James chapter 3 talks about taming the tongue. He compares the tongue to the rudder of a ship, and how such a little piece of the ship can completely change its direction. James also points out that you cannot get fresh water from a salt spring, or an olive from a fig tree. So if you are speaking negative things, it’s a pretty good indication of what is in your heart.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “believer”, think about people who recite affirmations to overcome depression and eating disorders. Think about how when something terrible happens, people say “It’ll be ok.” Compliments, praise, encouragement… we like to speak into others’ lives.

Words have power to change us.

In America, I think sometimes knowing we have the “right” to say something prevents us from asking ourselves if it’s right to say it. I’m not trying to suggest that speech should be censored by other people, but I am saying, should we be censoring ourselves?

As a Christian, I believe that what I say does matter. It not only changes a situation, but it also reveals my heart.

As someone who has a very sarcastic sense of humor, I have a hard time taming my tongue… because even though I don’t really mean what I’m saying, I’m still putting those words out there for someone to misunderstand and see me in a light that I never wanted to be seen in.

As someone who is non-confrontational and vents to release frustration, I have a hard time taming my tongue… because sometimes I convince myself that it’s better to air out my frustrations, not realizing that I’m planting a seed in someone else’s ear that can grow into a whole different issue…

So is making a joke or venting really worth it? No.

Words have the power to change things.

God spoke the world into being. Jesus cast out demons just by telling them to get lost. The apostles just said “Get up and walk” to a lame man, and he did.

So what would happen if we all started speaking up instead of down?

What if we started realizing what is coming out of our mouths is a reflection of what’s inside us… and maybe realize the problems around us aren’t being solved by our negativity… One of the seven habits of highly effective people is to begin with the end in mind… so if we look at something and say “it’s never going to happen” are we really going to work as hard to see that it does happen?

I’m not talking about lying to ourselves just to make us feel better… I’ve been really disappointed by some things going on lately. But instead of saying the country is doomed… I can instead use that breath to say a prayer. I haven’t been the best at doing this- especially lately- but I know it is better to pray than to complain… so this is my new goal…

 “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:7-8)”

sigh… I never said it was going to be easily achieved… help me, Lord…

 

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. –Luke 6:45

 

 

 

 

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Secrets.

“What’s the one thing you can’t say in church?”

Anne Jackson asked that to her bloggers, which exploded so much that she actually wrote a book called “Permission to Speak Freely” based on her own experience. Her story was especially interesting because she talked about how she battled a porn addiction after an unhealthy relationship. You don’t normally hear about women struggling with porn, maybe racy romance novels, but not pornography. It was really eye-opening for me to realize that there are no stereotypical struggles. We’re all vulnerable to the tricks of the enemy.

So many times we hear about how church isn’t a place for perfect people. It’s a “hospital for sinners”… but is it really? We all like  to put on a front at church. A “holier than thou” image that’s just as bad as any Pharisee in the Bible. I don’t think that church is the place where we hang our dirty laundry, but I don’t think it’s a place for judgment either. So where does the healing come? If we’re all just playing pretend, are our lives really being changed?

James talks about how we are to confess our sins to one another, to share the burden. Is this happening in the church today? Do you even know the people you go to church with? Do they know you enough to know when you’re spiraling out of control?  The early church in Acts met DAILY in people’s HOMES. It wasn’t the once a week drive-thru carwash service that we’ve come to expect every Sunday. 

Secret sins are the ones the enemy uses to keep us down. The whole idea of “suffering in silence” is a lie that we buy in to because we don’t want people to know how messed up we really are, how in need of a Savior we really are. When we look at people in church, often times we are comparing our blooper reel with their highlight reels. The person sitting next to you has their own struggle, even if you’re sitting next to the pastor. We need to just get over that fear and do what the Bible says and share our burdens and confess our sins. You know how the Bible says the truth shall set you free? Well,  sometimes, as Glenn Beck says, “It’ll make you miserable first.” But once you are free from that burden, you can start living in victory.

I am blessed to have a church family that does the whole “small group” thing well. I have close personal friends who keep me accountable, whether I ask them to or not. If your church doesn’t have this, I would suggest bringing it up to the leaders and let them know that it’s an area that could use improvement, or even finding another church. Or finding another small group in your area. We have had a few people come to our small group who don’t even attend our church, just because they needed to connect on a deeper level with other Christians. There are options.

I know it’s scary to put your trash out on the curb for all the neighbors to see, especially if it’s been piling up for a while in your house. My advice is: don’t be a hoarder, because their houses are the ones that get condemned. (Maybe it’s just me but I think this is a clever analogy…) God gives us grace when we fall, so we don’t have to worry about the landing, but maybe you aren’t aware that He also gives us His righteousness so that we can stand back up without being under the weight of our mistakes.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. — James 5:16

James

I like the book of James in the Bible… It’s probably in the top 5, outside of the Gospels. It’s one of the books that sorta just flips open automatically now because I’ve read it so much. I love that it’s a book about doing the Word, rather than just knowing it. Today I didn’t even have to open it, I already knew the verse I needed to act out. James 1:2.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”

I don’t know about any of you, but that’s not my first reaction when I face a trial of any kind. I like to complain or worry or cry. Giving into the natural response to hardship somehow makes me feel… justified. I used to tell people that I love the rain because it’s the only type of  weather where you can ever just feel how you feel. If it’s sunny out and  you’re sad then you look like a jerk. If it’s rainy and you’re happy, you look like an optimist. But if it’s rainy and you’re sad, it just fits…

Well, it started raining this week.

I started another post on Sunday night, expecting a different outcome to some routine tests at the doctor I was going in on Monday for… But then on Tuesday I had to go back in for a biopsy. (I know this sounds vague, but I’m still hoping to post the other blog shortly). I have to wait a whole week to hear back from the lab.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m a hypochondriac. I worry and I let my imagination run wild to the point where I’m wondering what people will say at my funeral… ok, I’m not THAT bad… but close. When I am attacked physically, my faith hits a wall. I guess satan knows me pretty well, too.

So when James told me to consider it “pure joy” when facing this trial, what does that really mean? What does that look like? Well, for one, it means to lay hold of the promises of God. The Bible says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” so I guess I have to remind myself what God has promised me, which is to have perfect health, and to be the head and not the tail. But more than just knowing those promises, I can have pure joy in the fact that I know who holds the victory in this battle. For every trial I’ve ever faced in my life, when I give it over to God, He’s batting 100. I also know that ultimately, satan doesn’t win.

I called my campus pastor on Tuesday afternoon, almost in tears, and explained to her what was going on. I told her that I was sure I was going to be fine and that I just needed prayer for the faith to take captive every negative thought. All she said was,  “Even if it’s the worst, trust God.” She knows me well. Even if it’s as bad as my wild imagination thinks it is, I still need to trust God… and I’d even go further and say I need to praise God. Maybe that makes me sound like a crazy Christian, or some kind of fake Bible-thumper that’s always telling people what they should do, but never doing it themselves… and maybe that’s true. I know the Word, but how often do I do it?

If I’m honest… not until it’s “the worst.”

Maybe this next week, waiting on the results, is God’s wake-up call for me. Maybe He is using this time to see what I’m going to do. Am I going to be like Job or like Job’s friends? Am I going to face this trial with the joy of the Lord in my heart, so that I can grow to maturity in my faith? What good is it for me to know God and what He can do, if I never have to trust Him to actually follow through? Isn’t that when we get into trouble as Christians? When we become hearers of the Word, rather than doers…

So tonight, I’m deciding to be thankful for the opportunity to test my faith. I know that I can smile because I already know who holds the victory.

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

                    –James 1:2-4