It’s life’s little things that trip us up.  The forgotten birthday or anniversary.  That ‘thank you’ never spoken.  Silence when encouragement is called for.  A dime-sized foot sore which prevents a beginner’s walk up the trails of Mt. Rainier.  Nine people hell-bent to give me the old heave-ho out of a church of 600.  Doesn’t take a lot to alter the course of life.  I know.  It’s those little things.

Jesus’ half-brother James says as much when he refers to a large ship, caught in fierce winds, yet maneuvered by a small rudder in the aft.  Or a powerful horse, which is no match for a tiny mouth bit forcing Trigger to go wherever you want.

Little things carry much potential.  For good…or bad.  That’s where James gets personal.  Poking in where he doesn’t belong?  None of his beeswax?  Possibly I’m being a tad defensive, fearing he’s pointing his finger directly at me!  It’s not my heart he worries about here, it’s my big mouth.

What I say can be kind and caring.  However, in the next breath, my words cut, zing and maim.  All from a few insensitive words blabbered off my glib tongue.  Thought I was being funny.  Not!  I know what I’m talking about.  Just me?

James 3: 6–‘The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’  Fire…evil…corruption…hell.  This is serious stuff.

Guess I’d better watch what I say.  Clam up a bit more.  Yap less.  Prayerfully increase the use of my mouth’s rudder and bit, asking for the Lord’s help.  On my own, forget it!

Again, just me?


Lord Jesus, help me to be more careful and sensitive.  Amen.

‘STICKS AND STONES…’ James 3: 1-12

Is there a more ridiculous nursery rhyme than this one–‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’?  Who are they kidding?  Why is it that I still remember name-calling from over 60 years ago?  Like the word ‘hunker’.  Yes, that was one nickname hurled at me by friends across the street.  All because I was chunky and flabby.  Still am.

Bones heal.  Name-calling lasts a lifetime.  James, the half-brother of Jesus, the biological son of Joseph and Mary, raises red flags about the toxicity of what leaks out of our mouths.

James 3: 6–‘The tongue…is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’  No beating around the bush.  ‘Mr. In-Your-Face’ pulls no punches.  Can’t miss the point.  Bulls-eye.

I cringe thinking of what I’ve said with a tongue that gave little indication that I’m one in Christ.  What I thought was funny yet wasn’t.  What I imagined was clever turned out to be twisted and hurtful.  Words and names I can never take back.  You can’t either.

James issues dire warnings about the tongue.  I wonder why?  Maybe, just maybe, he remembers growing up with Jesus and what came from his lips to Jesus’ ears.  When his mouth was too big for his britches.

Jesus Himself says this–‘…only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor’ (Mark 6: 4).  From His family comes everything but respect and gratitude.  This includes brother James, who no doubt remembers and regrets.

Or when Jesus and His disciples are mobbed, shoved and pushed around, that this is recorded–“When his (Jesus) family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind'” (Mark 3: 21).  Jesus must be nuttier than a fruitcake.  Out of His cotton-pickin’ gourd.  Unstable on the best of days.  My, what a great family of yayhoos!

Maybe James remembers his wagging tongue.  Think so?  Not bad to wander back, asking forgiveness.  Always bringing our sins to the Lord.  He’s able to handle them.  Forgive…and forget.  Maybe that’s why James wrote with such fervor and vehemence.  As if giving himself a tongue-lashing.  Knowing that his brother probably wouldn’t.

By the way, note the prayer below.  It’s mine.  Yours as well?


Lord, give me restraint, guarding what I say.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

SO SHARP!…Psalm 64

My mother complained that a distant family member had quite the ‘sharp tongue’.  Not a compliment!  Tongue–cutting and razor-edged.  Could hurt deeply with only a few words spoken.  Psalm 64 says much the same–‘…who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows’.  We get the point!  Or do we?

Words can cut like the sharpest of knives.  And their pain can linger for a lifetime.  Can you not remember some harsh word tossed your way, and this when you were very young?  I can.  Called a nasty word because I was chubby then and now.  Over sixty years ago now.  I can remember where, who said it, and how much it hurt.  I also remember unkind and cutting words from my mouth that were meant to hurt but did just that.

Jesus’ half -brother James wrote this–‘…the tongue is a fire, of world of unrighteousness.  The tongue is set among our members, straining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell'(ch 3:6).  That makes you sit down for awhile.  Gives pause…to what we say.  Recently, I heard that a childhood neighbor had died.  A bunch of us juvenile rascals would scare him at night, knowing he was terrified of ghosts.  I wrote his mother and widow saying what a fine man he was.  And that I was sorry for words from my mouth aimed to hurt him.  They graciously forgave me  as he had years ago.  Still can’t take those words back, however.

I’m more careful what I say these days.  More careful but far from perfect, sad to say.  Have learned that my non-stop sense of humor needs boundaries, fences and walls at times.  And never to make fun of others.  Never.  Laugh at myself.  Puck fun at me.  Be the brunt and fall-guy.  Taking myself lightly eases the potential danger of humor.  Poking fun at others is no fun at all, especially for them.  I know.  I’ve tried it.  It’s happened to me, too.

Put away the swords and arrows.  Keep the knives in a drawer.  Have fun.  Laugh.  Speak kind and loving words to each other and to yourself as well.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for loving words meant for us your children.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.