The Book that Almost Wasn’t: Angry Birds, and Angry Words ~ James 3

silence-1225624-639x1314On Sunday we looked at James 3. This is a very famous passage on the power of the tongue. How our words can destroy like fire, or how a little piece of our bodies can control our destiny. James wants us to control our tongues so we can gain control over every other area of our lives. James puts it this way, “We all make mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way”. And that’s very true, as we gain self-control in this area of our lives, it spills over into all areas of our lives.

And to help us gain control, James wants us to envision a life without a wasted word. Can you imagine how much better your relationships, your friendships, or your family would be if you never said a word or phrase you regretted. James realizes that learning to control your words will bring a huge benefit to you and to the entire world.

So we landed on a really obvious main idea: Control your tongue. Not a new idea but a necessary and needed idea. All of our lives, careers, and relationships would be better if we could actually learn to control our tongues.

So we spent the majority of our time on some practical ways to gain mastery over this one area that causes so much difficulty.

The first point was to slow or stop our words. So often we speak without thinking, our thoughts simply flow out without any checks or balances. Very rarely have I ever regretted not saying something, often have I regretted saying something. So the first step is to stop or slow our words if we want to control our tongues. The truth is more than likely we can always go back and say things that were left unsaid, but never unsay something that was said. So that was the first step.

The second step was to actually choose our words. So often we don’t’ think through “will this help”, “will this change anything”, “is this the right time to share”. Instead, we respond to our feelings and reactions and rather than choosing our words carefully, regret our words frequently. So the second little step was to choose our words carefully when speaking. We do this in every important interaction in our lives, but forget it in our everyday lives. We choose our words carefully at job interviews, at important meetings, or in presentations – and then forget to choose them carefully with our spouses, friends, and kids. This is what needs to change.

Lastly, we looked at an amazing little video by Pixar called “For the Birds”. This video shows really well the danger of groupthink and how communication is more than words. I reminded us that in groups it is particularly important to be wary of what we say. Because it is so easy to slide into peer pressure and scapegoating others. We also need to be wary that communication is bigger than words, and that we need to watch not only our words but our actions as well.

With all of this we ended with a simple and clear challenge: to review how we spoke once a day. I challenged everyone to put a reminder into their phones to go off once a day for them to review how we are doing with controlling our tongues. As long as we remain unaware we will remain unchanged. So my challenge was this: slow your words, and choose your words. And this will make not only your world better, but the world around you too!



Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Control your tongue.

Teaching Points:

  • The sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick – Hardest Tongue Twister
  • We love sharing everything about ourselves but have trouble editing what we say.
  • When you gain self-control in one major area It spills over into every other area of your life.
  • Control your tongue.
  • Rarely have a I regretted something not said.
  • Slow or stop your words before speaking.
  • Choose your words before sharing.
  • Groups can bring out our worst, so be wary.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? What did you like about the movie? When have you regretted saying something? Why do you think it’s hard to control your words? What are some good reasons to actually put effort into this? What relationships might be changed quickly if you really worked at this? Who can help you work at this?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Today simply watch your words with your kids. Did you know that kids on average receive 7 words of criticism for each word of affirmation. Flip that today, and focus on affirming, and see how that changes things!

Challenge for the Week: Slow your words, and choose your words.

Silencing Death and Learning to Speak

On Sunday I’m going to be preaching about death. In preperation for Sunday I thought I’d write a brilliant series of blog posts on death. But the reality is I’m struggling to simply write just this one…

Eberhard Jüngel wrote,  “Death is mute, and renders us speechless.” That’s what I’m feeling. I’m feeling speechless, drained, and unsure of what to say. This is why I hate death; it simply takes too much…

So why write at all? Why preach on death? Why not just talk about something else?

Well, because then death would win. When we refuse to talk about it, to enter into it, or to journey with people struggling with it, death wins because it separates us, it isolates us, and leaves us speechless. So on Sunday I’m not going to let death win and together we are going to talk about death. We are going to explore why death happens, what death really is, how you get through it, and how you can face it.

I know for some in our congregation this topic will hit very close to home. It will for me as well, because Sunday is the anniversary of my dad’s death 2 years ago. Krista asked me, wouldn’t I rather just take the Sunday off and be by myself? And the anwser is no. I won’t let death stop me from doing what I love – preaching. I won’t let death stop me from following my calling. And I won’t let death separate me on a hard day from the family and church that I love. Death has already taken too much, and I won’t let it take anymore.

So Sunday we will stop death from rendering us speechless. We will talk about it, heal through it, and discover that death is the last enemy, but it is not an enemy that lasts

And who knows maybe next week I’ll have something brilliant to write. Being honest and open will have to do for today…

Speaking New Things Into Being…

While out for lunch with someone the other day, I simply shared a few thoughts about where they were at. I was trying to simply understand their space, and maybe give some words to what they were feeling. When this happened it was like an understanding or world opened up for them. They said, “that’s it exactly”. It’s as if words opened up space for understanding, acceptance, and new meaning.

I’ve often pondered over Genesis 1. God creates with words. I’ve often wondered how his words have so much power, or how he could create something through speech. I no longer wonder about this.

Words have power. And when you listen, share, and speak something into someone else’s life it can breathe life – literally. Words have the power to create, to open up new understanding, new worlds, and new life. Sitting at a table drinking coffee and talking a few days ago confirmed that to me. The simple act of sharing deep conversation opened up new possibilities. In the Bible James teaches us about the tongue and how words can be used to hurt, and harm. But the flipside is true too. Words can be used to create hope and health.

So the question then is what are your words doing? Creating life, heath, and hope? Because words have power.

So today listen, and share deeply. Use your words to create, give life, and in this way follow the model of God in Genesis 1. Speak new life into being for someone today, and see what happens…