a few good rubber bands...

my pastor, doug dortch, spoke on james 1:26 sunday...

James 1:26

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

and i do love to work in some of the message too (especially since my sistah beth moore is also a fan of the message and defended it on her blog)...

James 1:26 (The Message)
Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air.

doug e. fresh dortch pointed out that if any of us couldn’t go 24 hours without a drink, we would be an alcoholic and anyone who couldn’t go 24 hours without a cigarette, then we would be addicted to nicotine. so if we can’t go 24 hours without keeping a tight rein on our tongue... well then our religion is worthless.

the king jimmy version uses the words “this man’s religion is in vain” which mean 

1) devoid of force, truth, success, result
    useless, of no purpose

a tad bit convicting. especially to one who has a LOT of trouble keeping a tight rein on her wallet, her emotions, and especially her tongue. if i want my religion to have force, truth, success and results then i have got to “put a lid on the boiling pot” that is my tongue.

so i took the challenge and i have been keeping a tight{ish} rein on my tongue.  i have been wearing the rubber bands that dr. d handed out to keep on our wrists. every time i don’t rein in my tongue (put on lid on the overflowing pot) i change the rubber band to the other wrist as a reminder. and we were challenged to go 24 hours without moving the rubber band.


and i have been reading the verse every morning and repeating it during the day to keep it in the forefront of my mind. hiding the Scripture in my heart and all that. and i have been able to keep that rubber band on the one wrist for the most part.

and then i expanded it because i LOVE a good undertaking.

so i moved into the next part of the “james challenge”...

James 1:27 
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted. 

and the king jimmy with strong’s defines “polluted” as...

1) spotless
    free from censure, irreproachable 
    free from vice, unsullied by the world.
James 1:27 (The Message)
Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

quite a challenge. and i noticed how it actually involved THREE things at once... 

  1. control your tongue (hard)
  2. reach out to the homeless and loveless (harder and time consuming)
  3. while guarding against corruption (darn near impossible)

that is a lot to do at one time.

and i happen to have chosen to wear THREE rubber bands on sunday. mostly because i like things in groups of threes. i have a yellow one, a purple one, and a hot pink one.

so i think THREE bands... THREE challenges in those two verses... it can NOT be a coincidental...

so now i have to move a rubber band when i control my tongue. move one when i reach out to someone who is homeless or loveless AND when i guard against corruption (not checking the jon & kate hate blog). so i am hoping to move my bands a lot. not moving them means that my religion is pretty much worthless. 

and then i thought that maybe doing the first two (guarding the tongue and reaching out to the homeless and loveless) MIGHT just be the key to the third challenge.

not reining in my tongue leads to a lot of corruption in my soul. and ignoring those around me who are hurting also leads to my being more selfish and self centered.  which is the main way i am corrupted by this world that keeps saying it is “all about lea”. (which i have obviously bought into because my twitter name is “itsallaboutlea”).  

maybe the corruption that most christians fear (EVIL EVIL world ready to devour us little christians and spit us out) is less about the EVIL found in the world and more about the really destructive things like selfishness and self centeredness within our own souls. seeing the WORLD as so evil and all intrusive and something to avoid means that i don’t always look inward as the source of impurity. i know in my case that the most destructive force that i deal with 24/7 is not those BAD HEATHENS of the world...

but the BAD HEATHEN that seems to live in my own soul and likes to come out and play by taking over my tongue and ignoring the needs of those around me because I HAVE MY OWN NEEDS GOSHDARNIT. 

the corruption in the world that i try so hard to avoid by staying in my safe little home reading my Bible and watching all those uncorrupting HGTV shows might just be the most dangerous form of corruption that comes by totally separating myself from those who are hurting and needing me to show them the love of the Lord that i could show to them...

if i wasn’t so busy avoiding all that corruption out there.

which according to 2 peter comes from evil desires (which i have a plenty on my own)... and it is combated by adding things like brotherly kindness and love to my repertoire. and adding these things will keep me from being ineffective and unproductive...

2 peter 1: 3-9
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness 
through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 
Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises, 
so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and 
escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to 
add to your faith goodness; 
and to goodness, knowledge; 
and to knowledge, self-control; 
and to self-control, perseverance; 
and to perseverance, godliness; 
and to godliness, brotherly kindness; 
and to brotherly kindness, love. 
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, 
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive 
in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, 
and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

if i spent more time “putting a lid on it” and “taking the lid off” of MY heart, MY home, MY time, MY money to care for those who are the “least of these” then i might not need to guard against so much corruption. i wouldn’t have time for corruption. i would be doing what really mattered in this godless world... bringing more God into it. through little ole corruptable me. 

though why He ever thought that was a good plan is beyond me.

it is all too much...

do not fear, this post has 86% less whining in it than yesterday and 45% more hope and encouragement... 

and it is fat free, sugar free, and no animals were hurt while i was typing it...

in passing the elementary school principal yesterday, i said something about being so glad school was almost out because may was so CRAZY and he said “yeah, when there is a so much going on, nothing really seems special.” we chatted for a moment about the glut of events and celebrations and parties and how that was a lot of overkill. i like this principal, even though he is only 14 years old. when they said that he was coming from a local high school to our school to be principal last year, i didn’t think they meant that he was coming from his junior year to be principal...

just kidding. but the first time i saw him i did think that he was SO young. but he has been an excellent principal. which basically means that he gets along well with me, waves to me in the car line, and thinks my kids are brilliant. those are high criteria to meet and you can imagine that not every principal is able to pull that off. also several teachers whose opinions i value greatly really think he is doing a good job. and he waves to me in the car line...


and he is at least 15 years old. i mean look at that kid. 

and that child principal has a PhD? WHAT?!??!?!? 

did he do that right after preschool?....

but i also like the fact that he has some great philosophical    

moments like his statement about “too much being too much”.

it reminded me of the quote at the head of this post, which i found months ago, typeset so lovely, and put on my quote notecards that i give to teachers for end of the year gifts. and i did all that WAY before may.... i love how God prepares good work in advance for us to do...

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:7-10 (message)
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

i love the last part “work we had better be doing”! in my case, i think He means making “notecards” out of quotes way ahead of time so that they would be all ready in may...

wednesday in my beth moore Bible study she remarked that we were all too busy to be whole people. that we needed to “be still and know that He is God” and that takes quiet still time at His feet, in His Word, praying, listening.

but i loved that she said that she was too busy to do that right now (it must have been MAY when she was filming that study). and that she was going to get through what she needed to get through and then she had penciled in a time for refreshing and sitting still.

that is what i am going to do. “a blog a day in may” has been so much fun that i think a new rhyme is in order for the next few months...

“sleep till noon in june”

“do what i need to do to get by in july”

“only do what i must in august”

“try not to remember that it will soon be september”

ha ha, i am quite a poet. but i do promise to blog at least 3 times a week (when i am home) this summer. i can ONLY blog from my house and my computer. which is why i won’t be blogging saturday and sunday since i will be at the beach, so much for the “blog every day in may” thing...

oh well, as my children always remind me “only God is perfect”. He blogs everyday with that rising sun speaking of a new day where we are asked to join Him in His work. never at the “speed of life” but at the “speed of love”. never in a hurry, sometime moving quickly, but never too busy to spend time with Him, to spend time loving others. it is never too much to do, it is alway the correct portion, exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine, but always the best and always knowing that when we come to Him, that He gives us rest....

of course as i realized today, the verse isn’t “come to me and i will give you hours to lay on the couch eating bon bons and watching t.v.” is is “COME TO ME” as in spend time reading His Words, His Love Letter to me, talking to Him, listening to Him, time being still, letting Him bind up my wounds, letting Him heal the broken places (of which there are a plenty). letting Him bind my wounds takes sitting still while He does His work, healing takes time as well.

that will be my REAL rest, REAL respite for my weary soul. that alone gives me the strength and the power to do what He requires me to do. but that yoke is easy and light when He is carrying it with me.

matthew 11: 28-30 (message)
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

when there is too much, there is not enough because i am leaving Him out of the equation (or just barely getting enough still time to get by). when there is a lot of HIM, then there is plenty of everything, no matter the schedule, no matter whether it is may or not....

ephesians 3: 8-21 (message)
And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don't let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. 

and what does He require of me? what does He want me to do with my time, what should be on my schedule....

micah 6:7-8 8 (message)
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, 
   what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, 
   be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.