#FAITH : Mastering Our Spoken Word(s)

September 27, 2019

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19)

I once heard a quote that has haunted me for many years. Since misery loves company, I will afflict you with this statement:

“You are the master of the unspoken word. The spoken word is master of you.”

There are many such exhortations in the Proverbs, like this one: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:28) And this one: “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 10:19)

The first stanza of the hymn “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” is my prayer every day. The prayer petition is this: “May the mind of Christ my savior live in me from day to day, by His love and power controlling, all I do and say.” (Lyrics, Katie Barclay Wilkinson)

One of my favorite mentors offended 1,500 people in 20 minutes when he spoke in the chapel service of his college. He decided that if he could make that many people mad in twenty minutes, maybe he could also do a lot of good with his mouth.

The hymn “Take My Life and Let it Be” (by Frances Ridley Havergal) prays, “Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.”

Obviously another great prayer to ask God every day when we are tempted to run our mouth before our brain is in gear. We certainly don’t want to have constipation of the mind and diarrhea of the mouth!

Dick Woodward, (email, 06 February 2003)


The Anatomy of a Sin (Pizza, Pizza!)

June 25, 2019

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

In this verse James gives us what we might call the anatomy of a sin.

One day more than twenty years ago, my wife had to be gone for six or seven hours. As I watched sports television in the evening, every thirty minutes or so there was an advertisement promoting pizza.

I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic. Each time the commercial was shown I developed a stronger desire for a pizza.

I had a telephone next to me and some money, so eventually I called and ordered a pizza. I told them I was in a wheelchair so please walk in. When the delivery man arrived, I told him to place the pizza on the blanket in my lap and take the box with him (to leave no evidence.)

When my wife returned, however, as she picked up the blanket to fold it a small pizza crust dropped to the floor. The consequences were disastrous!

According to James sin involves a lure, a look, a strong desire, and eventually temptation – then sin and death, which means “the pits.” It is as if the lure is a piece of metal and our strong desire is a powerful magnet. If we don’t do something to break up the magnetic field between our desire and that lure, we will sin.

I didn’t do that, so the pizza landed in my lap.

James shared this with us so we would understand the importance of breaking up that magnetic sequence of sin.

Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


Faith: The Good News of Forgiveness

April 9, 2019

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the Good News of the Gospel that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.

We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) After we confess our sins, however, we often show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten them.

A Catholic monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. Summoning the nun to meet him, the monsignor asked, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question: What sins did I commit in Paris before I became a priest?” He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later the nun requested an appointment with the monsignor. He asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?” She replied, “Yes, Reverend Monsignor.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?” The nun said she had indeed asked Jesus his question.

“And what did Jesus say?” The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about forgiveness that is the answer we should expect to hear. As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values