Tag Archives: James

Looking into God’s Word

It’s like looking into a mirror. The question is what do you do once you look into that mirror.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1.22-25

You can look and delude yourself … thinking you know better so you just ignore it. It’s just not good enough.

You can look and forget what you just saw … thinking so flippantly of the Word you don’t even care enough to remember it. It’s just not important.

You can look and receive and react … actually hearing the Word and living the Word. And by doing this, reflecting the love and life of Christ.

One of those three honors God. What are you doing when you look into the Word? Be a doer, not a hearer only.

Reframe Your Perspective

How do you look at your problems, your trials and tribulations? How do you frame the scenario?

In a discussion yesterday, I talked about how we see circumstances through our experiences, our emotions, our environment, and our education. These and other parameters help us frame the way we see it. Like a relationship. Experience says we’ve been burned before, so we go in looking to be burned. We let emotions and feelings rule our actions, even when we know we should be more based on reason. Example, I love bread, carbs are my friend … except that my waist line would beg to differ.

There is a danger in seeing circumstances only through our experiences, our emotions, our environment, and our education.

Tear Down Strongholds

And our environment influences the way we see things. Culture attempts to frame the definition of marriage, or now trying to bring fluidity to gender identity. The problem, culture changes. Not only between generations, but also between borders. Guns are pretty well accepted around my neck of the woods … big 2 Amendment peeps. But go to some other countries, not so much. Even in America you have to be aware of different restrictions when crossing across state lines.

We change framework way too often … and the old ways get discarded.

And when it comes to education, wow … what a difference from one teacher to another, one school to another. Where you go and whom you sit under matters. We are so influenced by our teachers, our schools, our mentors, our preachers. If you’re taught repeatedly that southerners are all uneducated, that Christians are all misogynists, that whites are are racists … will you ever see me as a southerner who has multiple post graduate degrees – and a Christian that respects and elevates and desires God’s best for all lives, all genders – and a white man that strives to show the sanctity of all God’s image bearers, to love and respect each and every person, and to walk side by side with all mankind. We may disagree on polity, procedure, and priorities, but we are all God’s people.

The issue is perspective. How do you frame circumstances in which you find yourselves?

My challenge … see everything through God’s eyes …

  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect
  • Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness
  • We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

Our point of view is limited. When left to our own devices, our perspective is flawed and open to subjectivity. But when we go to His Word and His wisdom, we find a solid foundation and firm framework to every situation.

And the interesting thing, the situation being framed never changes. It stays the same. But now, the way we look at it is healthier and helps us mature in our messy journey called life.

So today, reframe your perspective to His framework.

City On the Edge of Forever

It has been ranked the top episode of all the Star Trek universe productions. It won awards, which was rare for the original series (TOS). It first aired in April 1967; and in this episode, the cast was joined by guest star Joan Collins as the pivotal character Edith Keeler. Time travel is tricky, and Kirk and Spock had to go back to the 1930s to set things right. To do this, Edith Keeler must die.

Life gets messy. Kirk falls in love and develops a relationship with the wonderful character. In one of their conversations, Keeler asks to Kirk to “Let me help.” Kirk responds with one of the best quotes of the episode …

Let me help. A hundred years or so from now, I believe, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He’ll recommend those three words even over I love you.

Kirk to Keeler, Star Trek TOS, April 1967

Let me help. Three powerful words. But do we mean it?

1900 years before this episode aired (big time travel moment), Jesus’s half bro wrote something similar … and (if) one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

If we say we want to help, but just throw words out there, is that really helping?

Yesterday, I was asked by some people how they could help me. Not directly about things going on around me, or in the ministry where we serve together, but me. How could they help me? I hemmed and hawed … and then I went into a little humorous whining. I feel kind of bad about that. Fortunately, one compassionate member used one of my favorite quotes, “Suck it up.” So I calmed down.

But the statement still hung out there … Let Me Help.

People are struggling with the messiness of life.

  • Anxieties
  • Fears
  • Family Strss
  • Health Worries
  • Car Chaos
  • Relationship Woes
  • And the list goes on

We can, and should, pray for them. But what if prayer was just a prompter to how we can use our hands and feet … and wallets … and time … and skills … and actually serve those around us. Let Me Help.

Today, look around. Ask God to show you who could use a helping hand, who needs a little TLC, who could you bless. And once you see the need … help.

This ends today’s pastoral prodding … help someone.

James Doesn’t Belong In The Bible

James. That small letter in the New Testament. Many think it might be earliest of the NT writings. Most hold to it being written by the brother of Jesus. But let me clearly state that James doesn’t belong on the Bible.

THE WRONG NAME

Before you unfollow me, make nasty responses in the comments, or call the church to have me fired … let me explain. There are several people named James in our Bible. Brother of John, the Zebedee boys. James the Lesser, one of the twelve. James, the half brother of Jesus. But each of their names need to be stricken.

You see, in the Greek, it’s not James … it’s Jacob. There are no James in the Greek manuscripts. But through the years, the name got translated, altered, mispronounced, and eventually anglicized to James. Maybe King James liked it so much that he made it stick. What’s weird, is when the translators are translating the name when it refers to an Old Testament character (like the patriarch Jacob) they leave it Jacob. Go figure.

THE WRONG START

James, aka Jacob, had a tough start in his following his brother Jesus. I mean it had to be weird. Your brother is Jesus. Did momma Mary show favoritism? Did they know the stories of how Jesus was born? Did they celebrate Christmas or was it just another birthday party for big bro? (JK)

Jesus’ family didn’t get it. They called him mad. They rejected him. And at the crucifixion, Jesus made it a point to give John the apostle the responsibility of looking after Mary.

THE RADICAL TURNAROUND

But one of the first people appeared to after the resurrection was James. James believed. There is true power in the resurrection, and once realizes and experiences the living Savior, everything changes. There is much he is known for in his role in the early church. But one of the best stories is the one of his death.

THE RIGHTEOUS END

Eusebius, an early church historian, tells of James’ martyrdom. The religious leaders take James to the top of the cliff outside the Temple. They confront him on his talking about Jesus who, they say is dead. (Italics are Eusebius’ words).

James preaches to the peopleJames calls out just as loudly, “Why do you ask me about Jesus? He sits in heaven, at the right hand of God, and will return on the clouds of heaven.” Many of the people are convinced then and there that Jesus is the Resurrected Lord and start praising Him on the spot.

James’ Words provoke the religious leaders The leaders are beside themselves. They shout to the people, “Oh dear! The just man is confused himself!” and throw James down from that height. But he is not killed, so the leaders start stoning him.

James prays for his persecutorsJames does what he has always done. He kneels down and asks God to forgive the Jews. The stones continue to batter his body as a priest yells, “Stop! What are doing? The just one is praying for us!”

James goes home to heaven A launderer takes the club used to beat clothes and hurls it at James’ head, and the just one finally dies.

Driven from the Temple. Thrown off a cliff. Stoned. And finally beat to death. Through it all, he prays for his oppressors, he proclaims the good news of Jesus, and he stays faithful.

The moral … it doesn’t matter your past, your start, your baggage … if you experience the power of the resurrected Savior, everything will change. And what people will remember, is how you end.

Plexiglas, Politics, and Pews

It has begun. A new congress has been sworn in. Reports of shouting matches taking place between opposing side’s staffers. Pelosi has been chosen Speaker of the House for the 4th time. Controversial issues have already started to make their way through news outlets … such as impeachment talks (again), election chaos, and an awkward end to the opening prayer (can I get an “Amen”, or even an “Awomen”?)

There was even the debacle over plexiglas for three congressional representatives that were in supposedly in quarantine. Quarantine! Really? It was as if Inigo Montoya should be telling them, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Special arrangements were made for three people so they could attend and vote (for Pelosi so the word in the Twitter world says, for she only won by seven votes.) Here’s the rub, they only did it for the Democrats, and didn’t even tell Republicans it was going to be done or that it was even an option. It was as if there are special favors and conditions for the majority/ruling class.

I wonder, if a Democrat had passed away after the election but before the swearing in, would special area set up with an Ouija board been used. (Oops, Sorry. Too far?) You have got to laugh at politics, it can get pretty funny sometimes. But this scenario got me thinking.

I’m okay with helping people show up and be responsible. Going out of our way to get people in the door might be the noble and right thing to do. Shouldn’t we make accommodations for people, within safety factors of course? Shouldn’t we take special efforts to help everyone be included?

Think about church for a minute. What can we do to help people to attend and to be engaged in worship? Many places have assistive hearing devices, sign languages, family/crying baby rooms (which are often walled/plexiglassed off), overflow and handicap seating just to name a few.

Yes, we might go too far … LazyBoy section for resistant dads or stacked fishing pond section for our fishing/hunting people.

The issue here isn’t doing what we can to reasonably help all to attend, it’s the “all” word. Apparently, the congressional redecorating was only for one side, for select and preferred people.

What if I did this as a pastor? Say, set up a special section for big donors. A section that promised a shorter service or preferred music to those that gave a certain amount. Or maybe I specifically only permitted men up front, and then placed women in the back. Maybe I can add a section near me for people I know and I like … who will Amen (or Awomen in this PC world, jk) on demand.

Giving preferred treatment in a house of the Lord is not only inappropriate, it’s biblically wrong. And if our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, then to do it on a personal level is not cool either.

So take a lesson on ‘how not to do it’ from this years congressional opening. I say nice try, but it falls a little short and way too much on one side. May everyone of us be considerate of ALL others, not just the ones we like. May we be better in our pews than they are with their politics.


Editor’s comments: the joke about ‘Awomen’ is because the opening prayer in congress ended in ‘Amen and Awomen.’ Let the eye rolling begin.

FaceBook takes on Apple

This is the battle of the Titans. Two of the largest companies in the world are at odds. Apple announced a new feature starting with a soon to be released update … a feature that lets you control who tracks you.

You know what I’m talking about. You Google something, say a review on a baby gift you are buying a friend who is having their first child. Next thing you know, baby ads pop up on everything … news’ app will mention baby seats … you have Oshkosh B’gosh ads on Twitter … Luvs diapers ads on Facebook. And I can’t prove it, but I would wager they are even listening. Talk to your wife about taking a vacay, and next thing you see are Disney World ads on your opening splash page.

Big Brother is here.

In this world, Apple now will require its apps to ask for permission before tracking users. They will also have to provide details about the data they collect. Hmmm, giving control of your privacy to you. Doesn’t seem bad. And add extra layers of transparency. Doesn’t sound bad at all.

FaceBook was not pleased. A multi-million dollar response. Full page ads in the largest newspapers. Calling Apple anti-small-business … threat to a free internet … killer of small businesses.

Tim Cook could’ve responded with sarcasm, could’ve ranted on Twitter, could’ve upped the ante with a harsh comeback. But that’s not what he did. He waited and gave a simple one paragraph press release giving the reasoning behind Apple’s direction.

One author claimed Cook’s response was a perfect example of a person of high emotional intelligence (EI). EI is recognizing how you respond to something, evaluate your thoughts, emotions, and feelings that lead to your response, and make wise and intentional choices on how you will respond.

Low EI people will have knee-jerk reactions. They will shoot first and ask questions second. They will rant and post and demand what they ‘think’ is right without considering all the factors, all the circumstances, and all the point of views.

High EI peeps will look at all the details and also evaluate how their response will also be taken. Basically, they will quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

This response is nothing groundbreaking. The brother of Jesus wrote about this 2000 years ago (James 1.19). But this wisdom is often neglected today. I’m not saying people are low intelligence, but we often behave with low emotional intelligence.

I wonder what 2021 would be like if people took James’s advice and acted a bit more like Tim Cook did in this present battle of the Titans? What a wonderful world this would be.

Forget everyone else … how will you reposed to things in 2021?


Post Script … I think FB will lose this battle, and that’ll be tough for the Z man. And maybe it’ll help all of us that use the web. I’ll keep on using my Apple products.