Posts in James 2019
The Great Cover-Up

We finish James today with a passage that has deeply troubled me. You and I have heard portions of this quoted, always out of context – The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. I believe that to be true, but I also believe that it desperately needs it’s context to be true. 

I have also had people occasionally ask me why we don’t do this part: Therefore confess your sins to one another ... Why don’t we do that? I have often hesitated, hemmed and hawed, and tried to make excuses of interpretation. For example, James didn’t mean that we should confess our sins, but that we should confess that we are sinners. We should agree with God on that issue. Except that’s not really what James says. He says that we ought to confess our sins to one another. And there will be the result – so that you may be healed

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Patience, Brother

At some point in every parent’s life, they utter these words. It’s the frustrating behavior of a child who can’t find the shoe “hiding” in plain sight, or the snail-like response to getting ready for school or to do some small chore. Or, it’s a rambunctious cacophony of a toddler into everything. Maybe it’s siblings who seem to be playing together nicely who suddenly erupt in open combat – and you’ve got to step in, again, and play the role of peace-maker. It may be the umpteenth time you’ve said the same thing to a child who “never listens.” You do know they’re going to grow up, someday. And it’s not a matter of their survival, but yours.

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Tomorrow ...

In contrast, the internet is filled with memes about procrastination. I saw one about a meeting of the Society of Procrastinators being postponed. There are quite a few about doing school projects are term papers the night before they are due. After all, why do today what you can put off until tomorrow. We end up scrambling to meet deadlines, and claiming that we work best under pressure – which is not really true. Early in my ministry, a friend told me that the best sermon inspiration was Sunday morning sunrise – which is also definitely not true. We are much more likely to make mistakes and say dumb things when we wait until the last minute to “prepare.” And then we don’t have time to correct our mistakes or be certain we have the correct resources. Tomorrow becomes our deadline, and our source of stress.

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The Devil Made Me Do It

Some of you are old enough to remember some of the earlier comedians. We remember Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Jonathan Winters, Shecky Greene, Jackie Gleason, and the musical comedy of Spike Jones. They were replaced by the denizens of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. One regular on that program who eventually had his own show was Flip Wilson. If you remember him, you may recall his alter-ego, Geraldine Jones, the sassy Southern girl. You may remember Geraldine saying things like, “When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not.” Or, “what you see is what you get.” And this one, “The devil made me do it.” That last was the excuse for all sorts of mischief, and not just for Geraldine. We heard a lot of people begin to use that as their excuse, too.

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The Garden of God

A Hollywood personality made a strong moral statement last week. I know that surprises you, coming from Hollywood. But there are some moral people there, and some Christians. In fact, as I recall, there had been a report not long before that this particular personality had become a Christian. Moments after he made his statement, the bullies came out of the woodwork, calling for him to be fired from his job, declaring that he was an intolerant bigot. The insults and abuse continued until he issued an apology, declaring that he regretted his “misinformed” statement. He would try to be nicer and more tolerant from now on.

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The Untamable Beast

Have you been on Facebook recently? Some of us are on every day. Some of us are on far too long and far too often. For many people, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media have replaced face-to-face relationships and conversation. Social media appears to set up each of us as the king of our own universe, the lone voice of expertise. We have, in my opinion, lost the meaning of the word “friend.” We number faceless people we have never met, and probably wouldn’t like if we did, as “friends.” We have hundreds and thousands of friends we don’t even know - except through social media. In the meantime, we have very few real friendships, people with whom we can cry and laugh and share a cuppa. The sad fact is that many on social media have no one who is truly a friend – they live in an artificial world filled with artificial relationships. 

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Fruitless Faith

I recently participated in a Facebook discussion on the topic of faith and works. The question was whether belief or repentance came first in the order of salvation, which seemed to me like nitpicking. On the one side were those who were saying that those who believe would be saved – and they had their Scriptures to prove their point. On the other side were those who were saying that those who repented would believe and be saved – and they had their Scriptures. I merely tried to point out that there were verses on both sides, but questioned how one was to repent unless they believed. And it is nitpicking. It’s a hair’s breadth theological issue that is actually irrelevant to the average believer (like me), and confusing to those outside the church. I stepped away and watched as the discussion became more and more heated. I began to wonder what the rest of the world thought of the kinds of battles we fight with one another. Well, I think I know. Those sorts of discussions may be fine “in house” among believers, but they should be kept “in house”.

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My Favorite Things

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sings, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens; Brown paper packages tied up with strings – These are a few of my favorite things.” We all have our favorite things, favorite foods, favorite flowers and favorite pictures. We even have our favorite people. Our lives are enhanced by these sorts of things. And we have reasons for preferring them. The beach is my favorite place – a bad day at the beach is better than a good day anywhere else. I’ve found the beach to be a place of relaxation and meditation. It calms me. The sound of the surf seems to drown my cares and anxious thoughts and gives me time to ponder. I love chocolate, but I prefer a good dark chocolate. To some degree, perhaps, it is our favorite things that define life for us and even define us as individuals.

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In One Ear ...

I know this sounds weird, but have you ever driven down the street, seen a face and wondered if your face looked like that? I looked in the mirror this morning to comb my hair and shave. I know what my face looks like. I think. I mean, I recognize myself in the mirror and in photographs. But if I were asked to draw a picture of my face now? Not a clue. The problem is ... Well, a few years back I heard motivational speaker Don Lonie quote a limerick: “I know how ugly I are. I know my face ain’t no star. But I don’t mind it, cuz I’m behind it. It’s folks out front get the jar.” The problem is, I’m behind it. I can’t see my face, and so, walking away from the mirror I forget what I look like.

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