“Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me”

   That just is not true! We said it when we were kids to get back at someone who was calling us names. We had other sayings like, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you.”  Sometimes we would just laugh it off, or make up another name and try and out-do the name caller. Just part of growing up in those days I guess. Tell you the truth, the words, the names, all hurt.

   We aren’t made of rubber, and words don’t  bounce off… they go right to the heart. People still say things that hurt others deeply, by using cruel epithets and racial slurs, sarcasm. The “Yo mamma” jokes get a laugh, but sometimes they are just mean and rude.  Words may not break bones, but they can still hurt. “I take it back”, we used to say, but we knew then, we know now, that can’t be done. I remember mom getting out the bar of Palmolive soap, and my toothbrush, to ‘wash my mouth out; after saying something bad. I know it doesn’t ‘wash it out’ and once you say something, you can’t un-say-it? The verbal bullying that goes on in schools, is often learned at home. Columbine stands as a sad memorial to what happens as a result of ‘words’.

   “It’s just words” you say, but there is so much more. Jesus in Matthew 15:1-20 confronts the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were concerned about His disciples not washing their hands before they ate. (These were the religious ‘nit-pickers’ of the day.) Jesus accuses them of hypocrisy, because they were more concerned for external actions, than the heart. “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Then Jesus calls the crowd to him and explained… “LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND. WHAT GOES INTO A MAN’S MOUTH DOES NOT MAKE HIM ‘UNCLEAN’, BUT WHAT COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH , THAT IS WHAT MAKES HIM ‘UNCLEAN’.”

   James says, “My dear brothers, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. James 1:19 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” James 1:26. Then he speaks of the dangers of  the tongue in chapter 3, using illustrations of a horses bit, a boat rudder, fire and dangerous animals. How can it be, that with the same tongue that we praise God with, we curse man? How can we use this ‘instrument’ in prayer and adoration to God on Sunday, and use it to curse and swear, tell dirty jokes, on Monday through Saturday?

   The encouraging thing about all this is, if we clean our hearts, it will ‘wash our mouth out’. It may take time, but it will be time well spent. There are a lot of discouraged people out there, that just need a kind word, an encouragement, a sincere compliment. Try it.


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   The most obvious difference in the mind of man and computers are emotions and feelings. Of course this is what computer genius’ are trying to create… they call it artificial intelligence, which at it’s best is still artificial.

   James says, “Is any merry, let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). Our feelings are truly important, for they come from the ‘heart’. Feelings can be expressed in different ways, and thanks to ‘self-control’ some feelings are ‘toned down’ or ‘put on hold’. Jesus speaks of the heart as being the source of many of our troubles due ‘feelings gone wild’, (cf. Matt. 15:1-20). However, the heart of man is also the source of many good things, and again feelings are involved.

   Paul writes, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies (feelings), kindness (feelings), humbleness of mind (feelings), meekness (feelings), long-suffering (feelings), forbearing one another (feelings), and forgiving one another (feelings), and if any man have a quarrel against any (feelings), even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (feelings) and above all these things, put on charity (love feelings) which is the bond of perfection.” (words in brackets mine, JHE), Colossians 3:12-14.

   Feelings are limited. Some religious ‘zealots’ allow their feelings to become extreme and authoritarian, and some have reacted to this by sub-dividing and going to the opposite extreme in Christianity.

   Many equate ‘quietness’ with ‘reverence’ and ‘out-ward polish with inward praise’. The old joke(?), “You can’t praise God in here” may apply all to well to the average assembly of the saints. In doing away with all “shouts of joy”, clapping, raising hands, “hallelujahs”, and verbal “amens” as evident signs of emotionalism… our extreme silence may become only a counter balance to other people’s extreme noise. Both extremes when artificial are empty and distracting.

   Feelings and truth. Feeling good does not make us good. Feeling right does not make us right. Truth belongs to God. He alone is “good” and “right”. He has revealed truth and good, not through feelings but by revelation. Yet there is no virtue in not feeling, or discarding feelings altogether. Understanding feelings in relation to truth is important. Feelings do not precipitate truth, nor confirm truth. A good conscience may even be misleading, (Acts 23:1), and many who are lost, “feel right”. Feelings should not lead – they should follow. They do not act – they re act. So when truth is known and believed through evidence, FEELINGS SHOULD SURROUND, EMBRACE AND SUPPORT TRUTH.

   “And they went on their way rejoicing” is recorded again and again as an aftermath of conversion. “By grace – through faith – in Christ – praise God!” Seeing ourselves as saints, living in the temple of God as well as being the temple of God, offering ourselves as living sacrifices, (I Peter 2:5; I Cor. 6:19-20; Rom. 12:1-2).

   The eunuch went on his way rejoicing after he had been taught about Jesus, believed it, and come out of a watery grave (baptism), (Acts 8:36-39).

   No one rejoices in dying, and the burial scene is hardly the place for “shouts of joy”. But brother let us sing praises at the resurrection – the beginning of the new life.

   Knowing truth, believing truth, obeying truth brings that ‘deep gut feeling’ (bowels of mercies) and knows no other way of expressing itself than to praise God in every waking moment.

   Spiritual computer? That’s not us.

   Automatic worshipers? That’s not us.

   Praiseless, laughless, joyless Christians? That’s not us.

   To the contrary, when we are in Christ, saved by grace, serving from a heart filled with love, there’s little left but to sing and shout His praises.

   Sing it again James! “Is any merry, let him sing psalms.” This is saving power – converting power. People may not hear us preach, but they always hear us sing.


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The Danger of the Tongue

   Everyone has heard either lessons or lectures or something on the danger of the tongue. Obviously, the Bible and in particular, the book of James comes to mind when thinking about this subject.
First I want to tell you about something that happened one day when dad and I were hunting. I was barely a teenager when it happened. Dad had what looked to me to be a ‘canon’ (12 guage shotgun), and I had a 410 shotgun. I loved that rifle! I was excited about the prospects of going out with dad on this hunting trip. We were hunting for dove that day. We were out at the ‘break of dawn’ and had been hunting for a while, but no luck. Doves must’ve heard that dad was coming and they decided to sleep in or something. But they were no where to be found

   We were getting tired, and kinda bored. Dad fired off a couple of shots, (just to be sure the gun was working well of course). I did the same thing. I remember we were walking along a dirt road, and the field on one side was fenced with posts every 15 feet, and strands of old rusty barbed wire. Dad happened to find an old fruit juice quart can that had been opened and was empty. So he said, “Jack, put the can on the post, and I’ll shoot it and see how far it travels.” Well I was excited about this, so I placed it on the post, and evened it up and made sure it wasn’t going to fall. Dad got his rifle ready, poised himself, and was standing at a fair distance to be sure he didn’t miss, (about 3 feet). BOOM!! One shot (100 pellets), sent the can flying. I went and got the can, brought it to him.
    The most unusual look came over dad’s face, as he held this can in his hand and looked at it. “You know what this is, son?” I said, “Dad, it’s a can.” (Thinking something is wrong with dad.) “No, son… this is the heart of many a person, after a well meaning, God fearing Christian has gone out and tried to ‘win them to Christ’. “This is what the person’s heart looks like when a person goes out and takes the Word of God, and blasts away, thinking they are just ‘doin’ the right thing’.
   I have never forgotten that day. Dad has held up this can all around the world, trying to help Christians understand the power of the tongue, a careless, blunt, tongue.
O, it’s not the piece of flesh per say, as much as it’s the heart that needs adjustment.
I have thought often about this illustration that dad used, and have used it as well, to help me. Watch what you say, son. You have a hard time fixing someone’s heart once it is ‘blown apart’ by carelessness.
   James says it this way, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (James 3:2) James continues to speak of putting “bits” in horses mouths, and “rudders” on ships, and how these things determine the direction for the horse and ship. It is amazing how a small thing like the tongue, can cause so much damage. Yet it has the potential to accomplish so much good.
   Over the years the ‘old can’ with the result of the shotgun blast, has been viewed by many, many people. Some have learned the lesson, and some have not. The one question dad asked me after he looked at this can on that day, that I could not answer… “HOW DO YOU PUT A PERSON’S HEART BACK TOGETHER?” My answer… “I don’t know.” Jesus can heal. Jesus can help. Far better to be careful what we say, and how we say it.


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