Archives For James

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been haunted by an old Geoff More lyric. It’s from the song, “God Believes in You”, and says, “Everything matters if anything matters at all / No matter how big, no matter how small”.  The implications of the lyric torture me. I think we would all agree some things matter, particularly when it comes to knowing Christ. Knowing some things matter, I am compelled by Scripture to believe everything matters.

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Every word I speak, every thought I think, everything at which my eyes look, every interaction I have with people, how I spend every moment – they all matter. They all will be either for the Kingdom or against it. They all will be either pleasing or displeasing to my Lord.

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During some recent study, I was struck with a concept I had inexplicably never considered before. While I talk a lot about stewarding our resources of money and time, I had never considered stewarding the resources of our words. As a writer, the thought struck me deeply. I see words as being an incredibly powerful resource we can use to further God’s Kingdom or to tear it down.

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Actions indeed speak louder than words, but words can change minds, influence change, and impact the world in ways that little else can. Yet, how much thought do you give towards stewarding your words each day? How often do you intentionally measure your speech to be certain each word you speak makes the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God?

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You do know you can talk back to Satan, right? Jesus modeled this for us when the devil was tempting Him in the wilderness. Satan would tempt Jesus, and Jesus would talk back to the devil, reminding him who he was and putting him in his place. Perhaps you think it’s one thing for Jesus to talk back to the devil and another thing for us to do so. On the contrary, Jesus said we would do greater things than He had done (John 14:12).

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As disciples of Jesus, we are to pattern our lives after His. What we see Jesus do, we should do. When Satan comes along flaunting temptation before us, we should not hesitate in saying, “Not today devil!”

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Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.” As someone who writes thousands of words each week, this is especially relevant and convicting to me. However, you don’t have to be a writer to need to learn this lesson. If we don’t measure our words, odds are we’re going to say things dishonoring to God, hurtful to others, and regretful to ourselves. Usually, it will be all the above.

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Jesus’s brother James warned our tongues could not be tamed and could start great, destructive fires (James 3:5-9). Paul instructed us to only speak words of encouragement, never saying derogatory or inflammatory things (Ephesians 4:29-32). In a world enamored with social media, it has never been more important to measure your words.

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Recently I’ve had the frustrating experience of trying to get three of the largest churches in my city to come around a family in need. The situation at hand is a low-income single mother with six children, whose minivan was recently involved in an accident and totaled. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. One church never responded, one said they get too many requests to be able to help but did ask what my own church was doing about the situation, and the final church – the one I attend and have been financially supporting – responded they only helped with rent and utility bills and would not be able to contribute towards purchasing a vehicle for the family.

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Being a preacher’s kid, I understand the inner workings and dynamics of a church better than most, but I was still left flabbergasted by the lack of assistance these local churches were willing to extend.

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One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” As religions go, this list of requirements seems extraordinarily short. Yet there’s so much to discover in this little verse.

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Jesus didn’t come to instill a new religious order on earth. Rather, He came to establish a way of life. All Jesus wanted, and still wants, is for people to seek God with all their hearts (Matthew 6:33). Everything else falls into place once we get that part down. Why then does James call out requirements for religion God will accept, a true religion?

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This entire blog is predicated around becoming a disciple of Jesus. But what does discipleship look like? How do we know if we are getting closer to the mark? I would say first, discipleship is a standard to be pursued, not a target to be hit. There will never be a day when you can sit back and exclaim, “Ah! At last I’ve reached discipleship!”

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Being a disciple of Jesus is a process that will consume your entire lifetime. To be a disciple signifies nothing ever will mean more to you than desiring to live a life mirroring the life of Jesus. Discipleship is the total dedication of your life to His calling and purpose. To be a disciple is to be daily engaged in the mission of Christ.

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Every so often, I like to increase the amount of hate mail I receive. There’s no better way to assure this than discussing the faith (or grace) vs. works topic. As I have stated previously, I don’t fall into either the faith or works camp. I believe one without the other is useless, and believe there is strong Scriptural support to say the answer isn’t either faith or works, but rather faith and works. James says plainly in his letter faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

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Coming from the brother of Jesus, I’m going to consider him a strong authority. There’s more to say about this, however. To those in either the faith or works camp, I urge you to keep reading. Not so I might persuade you to agree with me, but rather to take an honest look at what Scripture says about this and consider the eventual logic behind each view.

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Each of us possess an unconscious bias towards others. Some bias is the result of past experience, some the way we were brought up, and some the result of our culture and environment. Regardless of the source, we all look at the world through a lens colored by our unconscious bias. The problem is, our bias generally does not reflect the way God looks at people.

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He has a very conscious bias with which He looks at every soul on the planet. God’s bias is love. What I want to do as a disciple of Jesus is replace my own unconscious bias with His conscious decision to value people and always seek to serve them. I wish this were as easy as it sounds, but an unconscious bias is difficult to recognize and harder still to tame.

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At its core, this blog is about discipleship. It’s about living your life wholly devoted to Christ so you can live out the life He created you to live. What this looks like in practice will vary from person to person, but the one thing all disciples have in common is obedience to God.  By definition, obedience to God implies you have to do something in order to be His disciple. This isn’t a works based salvation; it’s works because of salvation.

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As A.W. Tozer once said, “Salvation without obedience is a self-contradicting impossibility!” Many people have bought into the teaching of salvation through grace alone to the exclusion of any responsibility for works of obedience. That’s a cheap and easy salvation never put forth by Jesus.

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