Who is in control of your tongue?

Tame Your Tongue

Usually I begin my sermon with King David’s prayer, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer.” (Psalm 19)

Even though I have spent hours in prayer and study preparing what I am going to say, and I feel confident that God has been a part of my thoughts, I ask one more time that God be in charge of my words.

But there is more to life than Sunday morning worship. As I read the words of the Psalm once again last week, I was reminded of the harm and the goodness  our words can do.

Words have tremendous power.

They can bring joy and excitement. They can bring fear.

Listen to your words.

Watch the effect they have on others. Who is in control of your tongue? Do you glibly repeat the opinions of others without thinking? Does your need to please govern the words you say? Are your words filled with impatience or anger? Do your words bring joy and hope, or distress and fear.

Who exactly is in control of your tongue?  I encourage you to begin each day with King David’s prayer or one of your own. Ask God to take charge of your tongue. and your heart.


God’s Laundry

Scrubbed clean.

The list of addictions available to us – alcohol, drugs, gambling, computer games, dieting, shopping, prestige – seems to get longer every year. Even exercise, when carried to the extreme can become an addiction.

Psychologists told us long ago the first step in letting go of any addiction or any destructive activity, is to honestly admit the sin exists. The second step is to seek help.

Our Bible offers that same advice. After the prophet Nathan faced King David with his adultery, David wrote a song. We call it Psalm 51. I’ve quoted it here from “The Message” by Eugene Peterson, because his modern language paraphrase often brings clarity to the Biblical words:

Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.

Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.

I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, the full extent of my evil.

You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.

I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.

What you’re after is truth from the inside out.

Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,

scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

King David realized his mistake, admitted it and asked God for help.  Alcoholics Anonymous talks about “a higher power”. Whatever the language, the request is the same. We need God’s help in cleaning up our lives. Whether it’s gossip or drugs, we cannot shake the bonds of evil on our own.

Near the end of his song, King David adds one more element to his healing:

“Give me a job teaching rebels your ways, so the lost can find their way home.” When we refocus on helping others, we gain healing for ourselves. We each know our individual addictions and the destruction they cause. Seek God’s help. Step into God’s laundry. Ask for a new life.


The Mystery of Money

When my children were young, my husband and I both returned to university. For three years, the five of us lived on student loans and bursaries. Money was extremely tight. We had no extras: no movies, no coffees at the cffee shop, no dinners out.

Still, I wanted to be able to share with others. We looked at our meager income and decided to give a tenth to Missions. Faithfully, at the beginning of each month, we set the money aside. Some went to our little church, some to the cancer society, some to others in need.

The strangest thing happened. We never missed that money. I still scrambled to stretch the dollars, but by the end of the month, the bills were paid and we had enough to eat. Giving didn’t destroy that. Yes, the loans piled up, but they would have anyway.

Just when I thought we weren’t going to make it, an unexpected check from a friend arrived usually for more than we had given away. At Christmas, we received the benevolent offering from our home church. Maybe those extra funds would have arrived anyway. I don’t know. What I know for sure is that being able to share gave me dignity. I learned the mystery of giving.

Over the years, because of that education, my life circumstances have changed. Ten percent of our income today amounts to much more money. Still, I don’t miss it.

When we face a charity canvasser or the offering plate with our wallets open searching for leftovers from our week, we seldom have much to give and often we’re resentful. Once we’ve made the commitment and set the money aside, we find pleasure in giving and there is enough left over for us. When caring for others becomes a priority in our money or our time, what’s leftover is enough. That’s God’s mystery.

“He brought us to thi place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.”

(Deuteronomy  26:9-10)