Friday, February 27, 2009

20 Resolutions Regarding the Tongue (#12-16)

Proverbs 6:16-19 > There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Did you notice that three of the seven things God finds detestable are things that we do with our tongue? No wonder that Jesus said, “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

And Jesus’ half-brother James warns us, “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.”

All the more reasons for trying to live by the 20 Resolutions for the Tongue from the Epistle of James by Sinclair Ferguson (refer back to the Feb. 23, 2009 blog when we began the listing of these 20 Resolutions). Here are the next four resolutions:

13) I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door (5:9).
14) I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say (5:12).
15) I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer (5:13).
16) I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful (5:14).

Only four more resolutions to go. Until next time …

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

20 Resolutions Regarding the Tongue (#9-12)

As we continue with the list of “tongue resolutions” from Sinclair Ferguson, I will pass along some of my favorite quotes on the tongue and the words that we speak.

We are born with our eyes closed and mouths open. Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to reverse this mistake of nature.

Talking too much is like driving too fast. The brakes don’t always work and we pass the place where we should have stopped.

Like a whale, when spouting off you are most likely to get harpooned.

Someone should invent toothpaste with shoe polish in it for those who are always putting their foot in their mouth.

One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is his tail wags instead of his tongue.
There is no evidence that the tongue is connected to the brain.

Sinclair’s next four resolutions for the tongue from the Epistle of James are (refer back to the Feb. 23, 2009 blog when we began the listing of these 20 Resolutions):

9) I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified (4:1).
10) I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism (4:11).
11) I resolve never to boast in any thing but what I will accomplish (4:13).
12) I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God (4:15).

How valuable is your religion to you?
James says that if we don’t keep a tight rein on our tongue that it is worthless.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

20 Resolutions Regarding the Tongue (#5-8)

James says to be slow to speak. He does not say to not ever speak. In other words, we need to ponder over our words before we pour them forth. Let’s use “THINK” as an acrostic for some questions to ask ourselves before we talk.

T – Is it TRUE?
H – Is it HELPFUL?
K – Is it KIND?

Answering these five questions before speaking should result in less repenting after we speak.
Now, here are four more of Sinclair Ferguson’s 20 Resolutions for the Tongue from the Epistle of James (refer back to the Feb. 23, 2009 blog when we began the listing of these 20 Resolutions).

5) I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor (2:1-4).
6) I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment (2:12).
7) I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ (2:16).
8) I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience (3:14).

The rest of the 20 Resolutions are on the way. Until then – THINK FIRST; SPEAK SECOND!

Monday, February 23, 2009

20 Resolutions Regarding the Tongue (#1-4)

Recently our mid-week Bible studies started a series of lessons from the Epistle of James. This five chapter book was chosen because of the abundance of practical living guidance that it has. Much of this guidance is on the use of our tongue and the power of words.

Those who choose to live as peacemakers and strive for healthy congregations understand the need to constantly work at thinking about what words we say and when we say them. Some recent research found the following at the 9Marks blog:

“At the 2008 Desiring God National Conference, Sinclair Ferguson preached a great message on James 3. In the spirit of Jonathan Edwards, he identified 20 resolutions that James makes in his letter regarding the tongue.
The book of James has at least 20 resolutions that need to be part of the Christian’s covenant with God about how the believer is going to employ the tongue and lips, and master the heart in such a way that the beauty of Jesus is expressed.”

I will be posting these 20 resolutions in piece meal form over the next few days. In so doing, I hope that all of us (myself especially) can digest the truth and better incorporate it into our daily living.

1) I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him (1:5).
2) I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ (1:9-10).
3) I resolve to set a watch over my mouth (1:13).
4) I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak (1:19).

Until next time, meditate on these things!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Power of Forgiveness

I found this incredible video on the Route 5:9 blog (Peacemakers Ministry): it shows Elwin Wilson, a former racist, fully confessing his wrongdoing and apologizing to African Americans in his town and to Congressman John Lewis, a man he assaulted 48 years ago at a bus station.

Rep. Lewis says, "I never thought this would happen. It says something about the power of love, the power of grace, and the power of people to say 'I'm sorry.'"

While the video doesn't overtly talk about the role of faith in motivating this reconciliation, it does allude to it: the commentator says that one of Wilson's deeply religious friends posed a question that would finally set him on this redemptive course. "He said, 'If you died right now, do you know where you would go?' I said, 'To hell.'"

The video ends with Wilson and Lewis encouraging other people to follow their example, both of confessing and of extending a welcoming hand to those seeking reconciliation. Amazing. Take about 4 minutes to watch this video -- it will be time well-spent.

In my intentional interim ministry I see the need for this type of spiritual breakthrough needed again and again. When it does happen the results are absolutely incredible. If God prompts you to pray for us, just pray that this is the kind of thing that we get to experience.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Church Unity

The NGWC Transition Team is beginning to work on the "Mission" Focus Point of the Intentional Interim process. As we move from "Heritage" to "Mission", I am wanting the congregation to reflect on church unity. Why? Greater church unity should be the fruit of the just completed work on "Heritage" and this unity is needed to accomplish "Mission".

Last Sunday I preached from John 17 and challenged the congregation about the unanswered prayer of Jesus - church unity. The reason that this prayer has not been answered is because God has left the answer up to us. We have to choose to have church unity.

Unity is not easy because it requires submission. I love the movie "Hoosiers" for many reasons. The movie's emphasis on team unity is one of them. Watch this clip from the movie to see what I mean!

If you have watched the movie or know the history of Indiana high school basketball then you know that this small town school won the state championship against incredible odds.

There is much power in unity. Even when people are trying to do the wrong thing there is power in unity. Notice what God said when the people starting building the tower of Babel: "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Need a Good Laugh?

Mondays were made for laughing, not thinking. So here is a video found on YouTube of Tim Hawkins that made me laugh. I hope it will do the same for you!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The BIG Heritage Event

The favor of God rested upon the congregation of NGWC as they gathered last Sunday for their 3 hour Heritage Event. God’s presence was felt in the worship service from the moment Pastor Randy Haithcock began leading the congregation in singing until we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together after partaking of communion at the Lord’s Table. Total attendance was 112; the adult and youth count in the sanctuary was 86.

After the worship service, 71 adults and teens stayed for the small group discussions led by the Transition Team members. Everyone was given the opportunity to express both pains and pleasures from their past experiences at the church. Once the small groups concluded their discussions, everyone enjoyed an abundance of soups, sandwiches and desserts in the Family Life Center.

As our stomachs digested the food, we gathered back in the sanctuary to enjoy a power point presentation reviewing the years of the last six pastors since 1979. Fond memories were shared by congregational members of times with both these senior pastors as well as the assistant pastors.

The Transition Team announced that they had composed letters to be sent to the former senior pastors. The letters expressed appreciation for their service, affirmation as our brothers in Christ, and a prayer for God’s grace to heal any painful memories or hurts received while pastoring at NGWC. The addresses of the former pastors were also provided in the church bulletin so that individual members could communicate with these men if they felt led to do so.

The Transition Team is now preparing to lead the congregation through our next focus point – Mission. It is anticipated that we will spend about 3 months working of clarifying the church’s identity, vision and purpose. Stay tuned for the ongoing progress on this Intentional Interim journey of NGWC.