Integrity of the Tongue

   Integrity: 
1. (n.) moral soundness; 

As addicts and people in denial of truth and reality, we can manipulate what is means to have moral soundness. We justify, we lie to others, to ourselves, we compare and grade on a curve. Even as christians we pick and choose what the bible says and what we believe based on what is easiest for us to get as close to sin without sinning as we can get. To live a life of integrity is complex, here are some of my thoughts on integrity for today:

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. (James 3:2-12 NLT)

1. What three things does James compare the tongue to? What point is he trying to make through these illustrations? A ship who is guided by a small rudder, a fire that sweeps through the forest and a poisonous animal that cannot be tamed. he also talks of a horse being led by the small bit in its mouth and a spring that cannot hold both fresh water and spring water. Words are powerful, we taught our kids to say sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me, which is ridiculous and not biblical! Words are powerful, our tongues can be like poison, killing everything it slashes with our bite, or it can be a small rudder or bit guiding us and those around us. It can be contagious like a wildfire and it can either destroy or it can rebuild growth depending on the control of it.

2. Why is the relationship between what a person says and what a person believes so important? Much of our human expression is through words. If you want to know someones heart you need to listen. Too often we are on the defense in life and we are not out to listen, we are out to protect what we are really feeling. We may be dishonest so we don’t hurt feelings, or making sure that other people who we don’t trust don’t figure us out cause if they figure us out then they will not like what they see. We don’t like what we see in ourselves so we may assume they will not like the authentic true self either. We haven’t fully surrendered our position as a child of God, so we take on responsibilities we were not intended to take on, identities we were not meant to carry and it steered us so far away. A big fear is we will never get back so we fake it. 

integrity, say what you mean, do what you say. 

Do not over analyze, stay focused on God and you will bear fruit in your life. You will feel healthy, fulfilled, and your purpose will be shown by simply say what you mean, do what you say.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18 NLT)

One last thought. Let’s look at the second definition of integrity.  

2. (n.) an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting;  

The God-sized hole we either currently or used to try to fill with drugs, sex and rock and roll still left us feeling divided, broken and incomplete. With Jesus, we find integrity of this proportion, a completeness with nothing wanting. Better than any other high, any other idol any other solution. 

When we can admit our wrongs, when we can own up to the past and our pettiness, our responsibility in our irresponsibility, we are practicing humility. We gain wisdom and integrity in the process. And though he came to scoff, may he remain to pray.

 

The Good Life

There are two essentials to a good life.

Your faith and God’s power.

The more faith you have, the more of God’s strength you will be able to use. When I get anxious or worried, whether it be caused by finances, time or relationships, I try to stop and examine the crux of my issue. We need to examine each situation from the proper perspective. If we look at our circumstances from a self-seeking perspective, the actions we decide to take will be self-serving instead of God-serving. I don’t know about you, but in a self-seeking perspective, I can justify anything to make it to the greater good of me, I can make myself a hero or a victim, whichever suits my mood best.

By intentionally adopting a God-perspective we can resist temptation. When we want our decisions to be for the betterment of God and what He wants it is simple to make the right choices. Simple but not easy. Our faith partnered with God’s power will sustain our humbleness, reminding us that we have NO power without God, that our life is NOTHING without Him and that our actions need to be for His glory alone.

John 1:3

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

An Inventory of Honesty

I do not have a very good memory. Oh, I can memorize scripture, I usually remember people’s names and faces, but I often forget God is the one in control and I only play a bit part during my short time on Earth.

This is not to say my work isn’t important and valuable, but it doesn’t need to be grandiose and my work doesn’t need to make me famous (isn’t that just ego’s wishful thinking anyway?)

Because I am so forgetful, I list an inventory at the end of each day. I ask myself the following questions:

Where was I resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid?

Am I keeping something to myself that should be discussed with someone else?

In what cases was I kind and loving?</strong

Is there anything I could’ve done better?

I also have a cheat sheet of liabilities and assets surrounding feelings. If I am feeling envious, I try to switch my thinking and match it with generosity. The world would like to have you think differently. I used to think that when I was envious of someone’s wealth or success, it meant I just needed to work hard to become wealthy or successful too.

But in God’s reality (the only REAL reality!) we are to act generously when envious. This switches the focus to others instead of ourselves. It is only when we let go of ego that we learn humility, and only when we learn humility do we grow in faith. Taking an honest look at our day helps us maintain a humble attitude so our lives can be significant.

“Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” James 4:10

Helpful Considerations

In my old pattern of living, I was too proud, too ashamed, too self-conscious to ask for help for anything. If i didn’t know the answer to something I couldn’t quietly figure out on my own, I would lose interest, give up or avoid altogether.

This kind of behavior is so blatantly driven by fear. Fear drives us to make rash decisions without thoughtful consideration, counsel or prayer. Fear also neutralizes us to inactivity. Many times for me, fear stems from looking at my worth according to worldly things instead of my worth in Jesus Christ. It is worrying about what others are thinking about me, assuming they are thinking of me at all (in most cases they are not!) Worldly fear is fear that we won’t get what we want, when we want at the exact moment we want it, making life about us and our needs instead of what we can do for others.

We can work for our own gains even when we are serving and helping others. Look at the reasons you help. Is it to better your environment, to truly lighten a load? Or is it to look good? To make yourself feel better by telling others and yourself how selfless and sacrificial you are?

To ask for help is to empower others. To allow others to be challenged and used for a greater purpose. When we fail to ask for help it is a sign of selfishness. By stepping outside of the fear we get to practice humbleness. We don’t have all the answers. We aren’t supposed to have all the answers. We are supposed to ask for help. Who are you going to ask for help from?

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”- \proverbs 11:25

Traction of Distraction

Traction is defined as a state of tension by a pulling force. When I am not in alignment with the word of God or the will of God I am in a state of traction; I feel my shoulders tense and my stomach churn with all the monkey chatter of distraction screeching through my head. “Well, I gotta get up early and then I gotta do this and this and then go there and do that thing and rinse wash and repeat the craziness again the next day.” Americans have gotten extremely gifted at distraction…only we call it multi-tasking and pride ourselves on it.

When you seek God first with your whole heart and in all your affairs, the tension melts, the monkey chatter quiets, the safety of being a child of God is noticed and miraculously, supernaturally, things out of our power tend to get done.

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” -Matthew 6:33 (msg)

Answered Prayer in under 24 hours

I love when people in my church come to me to help them find their right fit when they feel called to give their time and energy to Evergreen. But I can only help them by listening and watching, by paying attention to them, not myself. If I am distracted by the drama in my own head, and ooh, that ego sure does like to make it about me,me,me…I can’t pay attention to the qualities of others to know how to help. With continuous spiritual conditioning it is much easier to think outside of myself and focus on others.

Spiritual conditioning is just like physical exercise. I will not lose weight by working out once a week (and I curse those who don’t need to work out-even after five cheeseburgers!) I also can’t attend church once a week (or month) and learn the disciplines I need to in order to live my faith. I have to work out daily in order to stay in physical shape. I need to pray and read scripture daily to stay in good spiritual health. When I accepted these things about myself, it was much easier to stay motivated to get up earlier than normal to connect with God, much easier to get a workout buddy and stick to a daily workout routine, much easier to combat that darn ego.

The amazing thing is that the bible is FILLED with nuggets of wisdom-all over the place! Yeah, yeah I know…all y’all who grew up churched knew this…but do you still utilize it?

James 3:17 is one of those nuggets for me today. I had prayed for wisdom on leadership this morning. God gave me this scripture…”But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). It is willing to yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubt, wavering, and insincerity).” (AMP)

See? Prayer answered…and in under 24 hours!

Missed church yesterday? Get caught up and watch THIS

SCORE Big

In the past, I have always been hard-pressed to finish or followthrough on a resolution or goal. Whether it is discouragement, fear or just plain laziness, I often held myself back from performing my best in the new year. I came across the “SCORE” technique by Jim Fannon that may help you if you find yourself in the same trap.

Before you begin a task- ask yourself…

Are you working toward your goals? self-discipline

Are you focussed? Concentration

Are you positive? Optimism

Are you calm? Relaxation

Are you choosing to have fun? Enjoyment

When we can get intentional about our goals and get rid of that defeatist attitude, there is no stopping what God wants for our life!

James 3:13 (NLT) “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.”

To read the full leadership blog click HERE

What spot are YOU in?

Sunday was Evergreen’s series launch of “I’m A Mess”. The messages Pastor Seth teaches continues to challenge our attenders (and staff!) to not just put on their Sunday best, a fake smile and a muffled heart, but to get real and live their faith. Dang, it just doesn’t get any better! Here is a quick recap from my notes of last Sunday. If you missed the message, “I’m A Mess…But God is Able, check it out by clicking HERE.

Everyone is in one of three spots; you are in a mess, have just come out of a mess, or about to get into a mess. When life is a mess, we get stuck in the wilderness mentalities. The Truths we forget are:

Nothing is too hard for God.

Your troubles are only temporary…

…unless you choose to make them permanent.

Other people are affected by you.

You are not in the fight for the promised land alone.

Do not quit before the breakthrough.

The Simple Truth

Ezekiel was a prophet whose call was to listen to the word of God and tell some stubborn rebellious people what He said. Not to get them to change their minds, just simply speak the truth.

Ez. 2:6-7 “and you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words…you must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen.”

If you identify as a christian, you are working for an audience of one. Those of you that have accepted your calling, do not be afraid of what people will say about you or how they react to your words. If you are a christian, it is not your job to convert people. |t is your job to share the words of God so that those whose hearts are open & listening can be saved. This means you can continue to invite everyone you know to the church you invest your time, energy, resources into, even when they don’t come and they don’t come and they give you excuse after excuse. Keep trying, invite others simultaneously. You are simply sharing the story of Jesus, no expectations, only heartfelt prayers. This simple task will honor the will of God, that is the simple truth.

Evergreen Community Church is the BEST church nobody knows about. Let’s do something about that. The new series, “I’m A Mess” runs Jan.8-29. Services Sundays 9&11 am. Also online at evergreenpinecity.org. Life is Messy. Learn how to clean it up.