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On Wednesday nights we’ve been studying through the book of James. It has really been a blessing to all of us as we try to apply all the teaching that James provides with in the book. This last week as we began chapter 3, James mentions the use of the tongue and how the tongue can either be a blessing or a curse. How we you use it can either build someone up or put someone down. So as I read and study through verses 3-12, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve ever used the tongue as a weapon to destroy instead of a tool to build up. So here are some questions that came to mind…
1. Have I ever misused the tongue?
2. Have I offended someone before by the words I have spoken?
3. Have I ever misused the tongue by accident?
4. Have I purposefully used the tongue to put someone down?
5. Have I gossiped ever in my life?
6. Have I told a lie?
7. Have I stayed quiet when I should have spoken up?
8. If I can’t control my tongue, have I controlled my body?
9. If what comes out of my mouth is what overflows from my heart, is my heart a spiritually healthy heart?
10. Am I capable of taming the tongue?

James gives us a perfect illustration in saying that a bit can control the horses mouth (James 3:3), thus controlling the body as well. So true! I’ve worked with horses and i have found this to be true. Some horses react better to certain bits for different results. Some horses are trained well in responding to the bit. What I’ve come to realize is that it takes a while, a lot of patience to get a horse to respond just the way you want it to. It’s takes work, effort, sweat, study and evaluation time after time to perfect it. Then it dawned on me that it is no different with my mouth (tongue)! I have to be willing to put time, effort, sweat, tears, and reevaluate it from time to time in order to perfect it.

James continues to tell us that though the tongue is a small member of the body, it can set a forest on fire! (James 3:5) This fire brings forth a world of unrighteousness. I know, as any other boy who loved playing with fire, that a little spark can turn into a huge fire. I know that if I add fuel to the fire it’s only going to get bigger and bigger. Spiritually, my tongue can spark up a small fire and when out of control, like any fire, it can grow bigger and bigger eventually burning it all down. Can I live with that? Can I burn a forest (people) down because of what I’ve let out of my mouth? Will my tongue be used to bless God and curse man, (James 3:9-10)? Although it happens more often than not, I have to change that. I have to make sure that it no longer happens. Parents, make sure that the words that come out of your mouth are positive words that will build your children up! Don’t destroy them, build them up in the Lord. So what, if they are not the best in the sport they chose or you chose for them. So what if they aren’t as smart as you think they ought to be. So what if they don’t have the same interests as you do; did you with your parents? So what if they lost the game or the match or got a bad grade… Those are not reasons to put down, destroy, ridicule or offend them. That is the time to bless them, build them up, strengthen them. This teaching isn’t limited when responding to children only. This teaching is for all of us and all those around us. As husband to a wife and a wife to a husband, this teaching is to be applied. As a person ordering fast food and not getting your order just the way you wanted it, it gives you no reason to use your tongue as a weapon. Maybe you have been wronged, so what! Is that enough to let your tongue lose control and risk your relationship with God? Of course not.

Just like a spring is not able to pour forth both fresh and salt water, so shall my words be, (James 3:11). I cannot proclaim to be a Christians and a follower of the most high God and behave as if I’m not. I cannot be a disciple of Christ and a disciple of the world?

Why? Because a fig tree cannot bear olives and a salt pond cannot yield fresh water. It’s not meant to be like that.

So as you go through life trying to be the person God wants you to be, think about the tongue first. For if I control my tongue, I will be able to control my actions also.

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Just the other day I was sitting at a local restaurant eating breakfast with my family. Next to us was a father and teenage son that we know, doing the exact same thing we were doing, eating. Everything went as usual, you order your food, you get your food, you eat your food… Nothing out of the ordinary routine of eating out at a restaurant. What made this day different and uplifting for the rest of my day is what I saw when the waitress came to drop off their check. No, they didn’t take my check and paid it for me, although that would have been awesome! Mehta was greater than this is that when the waitress approached them to give them their check, the son (teenager) had his hand by his thigh with a few bills in his hand ready to pay. I know you may not think this is a big deal but I believe it is. Before they even arrived to the restaurant, I believe the son knew he would be hyping his dad breakfast that morning. I then looked at the reaction of the Dad as he tried to convince his son he would pay for it as he tried handing him and the waitress money, but the teenage son refused. His words were “Dad, I’m buying your breakfast today”. I’m watching in amazement hoping to not to get caught staring. Thats when I realized, you know, these kids of ours are great kids! They are not what people make the out to be at times… Yes they are teenagers but they are our teenagers. God has given them to us to raise and train and nurture. God has given us such a short time with them to try to instill His word in them (Ephesians 6:1-4). These are the same children that make us a better “praying” people, you know through all e good things and the not so good things they put us through. Yet, hey are still ours and it seems like it goes by too fast.

Take time to be a the person God wants you to be in your family. Pray with your children, read with your children, do homework with your children, talk with your children and not just to them, talk about what they want to talk about not just what we think is a better conversation. Love on your children and let them know you love them and earn their love. Don’t ever let them leave your side without giving them a hug and words of affection. Tell them you miss them even if their only gone for an hour or a few days. Let them know where home is.

Sometimes children will not turn out the way we want them to… But we can still teach them the way back home if they ever decided they want to leave, (Proverbs 22:6). I’m reminded of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The son is bent on leaving home and taking his inheritance and living a lifestyle he thinks is right for him. Later on he realizes the grass wasn’t greener on the other side. Maybe for a little while he thought it was so but it didn’t last. The scriptures say “But when he came to his senses…” he realized this was not the lifestyle he wanted to be a part of. He then comes up wit a plan to return home and try to reconcile his relationship with his father. I know you’ve read the parable. I know you know how it ends but I want you to look at one part of the ever so powerful parable that I believe gets overlooked a lot of the time. The part where he’s realized he wants to go home. My question is: Do you think he knew his way back home? Me too! He had been taught well by the father. He had been taught the way back home if one day he needed to return home. God has done that for us. He has taught us the way back home if we need it (John 14:1-6). But maybe a better question is this… Am I teaching my children the way home? I want them to know that home is a place where God is, a place where love abounds, a place where there is compassion and mercy, a place where they are always welcomed, a place where there is always room, a place where the teachings of God are ever so important, a place that is not perfect but lived in, a place where God rules.

I hope you understand that I’m not just talking about our physical homes but the home described in our scriptures.

I never thought that a teenage boy would ever want to buy his Dad breakfast out of his own hard earned money. But this day my heart was opened in that while I stood there watching this happen, although the this teenage boy is senior in high school, his relationship with his father has just begun a new chapter, a chapter I would read over and over again. I believe Dad is to be commended for training up his son. I believe all those years of teaching him how to work, pray, respect, fear God and many other teachings have finally shown a glimpse of what a spiritually successful man this young man would become. Dad Probably didn’t know this at the time, but he was teaching him the way home.

May God bless you…

About 11 years ago I was driving through Oklahoma to get to Leachville, AR for a campaign. While driving in the middle of the night, going through Oklahoma I remember seeing and going through the worst lighting storm I had ever seen and still today it has been the worst I’ve seen. I remember wondering how much power each lighting bolt had in it and how at any moment one of them can easily make me into popcorn chicken. I remember thinking, “Does God not like Oklahoma?” At that time I sure didn’t! So I agreed with God, take it out! All joking aside though, I remember being almost to the point of tears, in awe of God’s power and in total humility of who I was in the world. I remember thinking, why do we have storms like this? Are they of any good? I know the rain it brings is good. After it’s had time to settle in the ground, it brings up beautiful pastures. I know that the cooler whether serves to filter the air we breath. I’m sure a lot of you know more scientific reasons why we have lighting storms. That’s not what I’m getting at! I don’t know; I sometimes wonder if maybe the lighting storms weren’t meant as an illustration to show us how powerful God is. I remember staring at the sky looking up at the lighting and hearing the thunder that followed. At times being scared, full of fear, yet, in awe! The lighting would last from 5-7 seconds at times. The longer they were, the more sky you could see, it was fearfully beautiful! But, you know something, we have spiritual lighting storms in our lives too. At times those storms come at the least expected time and we’re not ready for them and we haven’t prepared for them as we should have. Sometimes we know they’re coming and we try our best to be ready for them. Sometimes, these spiritual storms may hit our families directly and at times indirectly. Some of our spiritual storms will last a little bit and some will seem like they’ll never end. Some will destroy and harm and yet others will cleanse and wash out what is not supposed to be there.

I don’t know what storms your are going through in your life. I don’t know if you’re going through any at all! Maybe you prepare yourself daily for the storms of life; I hope you do and continue to prepare. But what can we learn from these storms? James, the brother of Jesus, says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4). Did you hear that? These storms have reasons for being here! I know! It’s crazy to think that way! It’s not the norm to think that way! It’s not like everyone else thinks! Well, that’s because we are not like anyone and everyone else. We are Christian! We as Christians, we see the storm coming and although they may harm and destroy, we know we are going through this storm for a reason. Like James, will we count it all joy? Will we praise our God in the storm? Will we see His power not just on this earth through the weather but in our lives? Will we see that although we fear the greatness of His power, we also see the beauty within the storm?

I pray that one day, no matter what the storm may be, I am able to say, “I will praise you in the storm!”

Join me in looking at the storms of life as not being bad for us but as a way of producing steadfastness so that we may become perfect in everything.

May God bless you!

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We’ve heard many times you can learn a lot about a person by the way they do certain things… For example, the way they talk, walk, respond to certain situations, whether or not you have a clean desk at the office or a messy one, whether or not your closet is neat or unorganized, by the books you read, the shows you watch on TV, by the music you listen to, and even by the church you worship at. Well I believe that’s true. I happen to think there’s another one we left out. Can we tell a lot about a person from the way they pray? I believe you can. Here is a prayer written down by a friend of mine… Please pay attention to it, you just might learn something.

Dear heavenly Father,
I know that it is Satan’s goal to kill, steal, and destroy us… especially when he sees our family advancing toward Your Kingdom. He sees our family pressing on toward You and he cannot stand it. He continues to throw obstacles and sometimes overwhelming circumstances at us, but look what keeps happening, we keep turning to You, the One that gives hope, peace, joy, and everlasting life!!! We continue to pray together as a family and stand up for You and believing You are who You say You are… the great I Am! We are pulling together, not falling apart and I praise you for that!!! I know this fight is not physical… that we are in a daily spiritual battle. Pease Lord help us never forget who our commander is… the One that will lead us in battle but will never leave us. May everything we say and do bring You glory!!!

(Pay close attention to this next part. This next part really got me… Or shall I say, this next part really taught me a lesson.)

Help me not to be the center of conversation, but let people walk away thinking how awesome You are. Help my family and I be a testimony of who You are and what You are able to do. Please help us to remember that in the end it is You that dries our tears and helps us stand victorious in the face of the enemy. Because of what they see in us… may they say, Blessed be the name of the Lord!!!

In Jesus precious name I pray,
AMEN!

I know that I mentioned before that you can learn a lot about a person by the way they pray, well I believe we have learned something. We know that this person has truly devoted their trust in God and all His commandments. We know that this person truly believes that God is ale to do anything. We know that this person is not only in love with God and His Son and the Holy Spirit but knows that God will protect us while in the wars against evil in our lives. We know that this person is worried more about letting people know that it is God who is being glorified and not ourselves. This person really and truly knows God!

Do you know God? Have you talked to Him lately? Isn’t this a great time to talk to Him?
I’ll leave you two alone to talk to each other. May your conversation with God be a good one and a long one.

May God bless you!

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I like to win! Throughout my life I heard people say that in order to be a good winner you must learn to lose. I respectfully disagree! I hate to lose. I know that some of you feel the same way. It’s not fun losing and you don’t want to get in the habit of doing this. Its not fun to know that you had the same chance as the other team to win and you didn’t. I believe that games are won with skill but unforgettable games are won with heart and attitude.

There is a story told of a man who stops to watch his sons little league baseball game. He approaches the dugout to say hello to his son and see how he’s doing. He then proceeds to ask the question: “What’s the score?” “His son replies 18 to nothing, they are winning.” The Father replies, “Oh I’m sorry son, you must be sad…” The son then replies, “Oh no Dad, we haven’t had a chance to bat yet!” Listen, alot of times our attitude and our heart can win the challenges of life that are thrown at us. We can either depend on our own skills to get through this life or we can depend on the heart and attitude that God has given us.

You know, Jesus had challenges He had to face in His life. I believe that through His example we can see that attitude and heart have everything to do in being victorious over the challenges we face in life. Let’s have the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5), lets learn from His example (Matthew 26:39-44), lets be like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Your attitude can decide whether or not you will win over your challenges.
May God bless you!

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Every Sunday morning during worship, we have a time where the young children in our church family go to another room and they have a bible lesson more catered to their age (attention span). While I thought, and felt like I preached a good and healthy sermon, I overhear a young man by the name of Tyler talking to my wife in a very exciting voice. So exciting that it is contagious and my wife is just as excited about what he had to say. And because of all this, I’m interested in knowing what all this little man had to say also! So I walk over and ask my wife what he had to say that was so exciting? This is the story she shared with me…

This little boy (whom we don’t see a lot because he is a visiting grandchild of one of our members) comes up to me and says, “Guess what!” in a very high pitched and full of excitement voice. My wife responds with “What?” returning the same excitement so as to humor his information he was about to deliver. He then says in a much filled with energy voice and posture, eyes wide open, with all his strength, “Jesus is King!” my wife responded with “That’s right, He is King!”

As she is telling me this story, all I could do is look for this little boy’s face and try to capture some of the joy he was so filled with, hoping that some of it may rub off on me. I’m immediately brought to a halt and begin to think of how awesome this moment was that I had just experienced. To know that a child can come to an understanding that the Jesus, the Son of God is King! More than that, to witness the joy that overflowed his heart in knowing that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the Son of God is King of kings to reign forever. Whether young or old, big or small, Jesus still reigns over us and will forever reign in us.

I don’t know about you, but I think at times I forget about this very thing. I forget that my Lord and Savior, the Son of God, the Lord of lords, the Messiah, the Author of salvation, the Lamb of God is also the King of Kings… my King!

So if you ever need a reminder of who Jesus is, go ask a child after Bible class, I’m sure they will tell you exactly what you need to know… Jesus is King!

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:5, 6)

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory!” Selah
(Psalm 24:1-10 ESV)

Thank you little Tyler Barns for that wonderful message.

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Have you ever wondered what teachers in school do all day? Have you ever thought of a teacher’s job being a “gravy” job? I mean after all, they only work 9 months of the year, right? I am a substitute for one of the area schools so I am around children of all ages every day. As I walk up and down the hallways you can’t help but really get to know the kids on their good and bad days. Sometimes I wonder what all they’re going through that would make them have a bad day and of course I want to know what is making them have a good day. Is it that they had to wake up to go to school? Did they not like breakfast in the cafeteria? (Do they ever?) Did they not get to wear the clothes they wanted in order to impress a certain someone in school… Because that’s the reason we go to school right! I’m not sure what causes their day to be good or bad, I do know that the teachers over our students make a huge difference in their day. I see kids running to their teachers to give them a hug followed by encouraging words. Some come to school because that’s where they feel safe and comfortable. Some want to come to school because that may be the only place they get loved and disciplined. And no, I didn’t forget education! Yes, some students come to school to get educated… Believe it or not! Teachers, we can’t thank you enough for what you do!

You put up with:
The smells…
The tears…
Bad writing…
Attitudes…
Drama!!!
Telling 24 kids to wash their hands time after time, after time, after time!
Trying to teach all the kids around you to be kind and use good manners…
Consoling those that need help…
Disciplining those that need it…
Lack of parental involvement in their child’s life…
Not enough time to teach…
Not having enough room in your home to take some of them home with you!

You do all this and then go home and do the same with your children and grandchildren. You go home to a stack of papers to grade just to realize that you found a paper that needs to be graded from your class last year if not from two years ago! Then you look outside your kitchen window and realize someone turned out the lights. It’s dinner time and dinner is not ready yet. Guess what, someone has to make dinner… Oh yeah, I’m the one that makes dinner!

In between all this you try to make sure you’re not losing your mind, trying to gain strength, trying to eat something healthy, trying to set a good example, trying to deal with the fact that it starts all over the next day.

Principles, teachers, aides, counselors, secretaries, lunch ladies, helpers, volunteers… Thank you! If it weren’t for your part in their lives, where would these children be? Please know that you are appreciated.

I know you’re tired and weary! I know you’re frustrated at times! I know there are days you want to quit but here is a little help from our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall be exhausted; but they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)

May God Bless you in your efforts in helping us parents raise our children.

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