Why Bite Your Tongue?

Ever find yourself sequestered in your home, stuffing gingersnaps in your mouth, to prevent a bunch of words from coming out?

Like say for instance, half a story is being told in your community with such regularity that its general “truthiness” has cemented into fact. But you know the other half, and the only thing holding it back is a thin layer of gingersnaps.

What do you do?

Caramel Gingersnap Sandwiches

(Photo credit: jensteele)

Well, if you’re me, you walk around mad about it for 90 minutes or so, seething at the injustice, imagining how your withering rebuke will wipe the smug off a few faces. Believe me, if there were an Olympic event for the withering rebuke, I’d be the Michael Phelps of it.

But here’s the problem, I really want to act like Jesus and Jesus didn’t act like that.

In fact, he taught that God is our vindicator, not us. At the mother of all bogus death penalty trials, one prompted by religious and political fear mongering, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the chance to respond, and he didn’t. He remained silent. When Jesus was being tortured to death, he finally opened his mouth to say, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing.”

See, my natural response to personal injustice oozes self-righteousness and sanctimony, and who doesn’t love that in a Christian? Or if I choose not to tell someone off, I’ll tell five random people about it instead, so we can all be annoyed together. Mean, gossiping Christians – another thing people love.

As it turns out, my “natural response” is the problem, it’s what Jesus came to correct. He showed us how live here, and then died for our inability to do it. Or to put it another way:

Without Jesus, I’d be on the horn right now, spreading malice, division, strife and slander, all in the name of justice. Hmm.

But with Jesus, I’m just eating gingersnaps and talking to you. Maybe he’s even raising an eyebrow at that.

Love Dinner Thank God Love Dinner #3 is Saturday night because I need practice.

Without it, my cranky, unregenerate self shoves her way to the front, spits out the gingersnaps and lets somebody have it. Because I don’t want that, I’ve decided we’re going to spend LD3 and the month of December practicing one of the hard ones in Ephesians.

You ready?

Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 AMP

To join our online community of “bible doers” working out Ephesians 4:29-32 in your own world, just do it and tell us what happens. Post in the comment section or via the contact page. We’ll run the best stories, with a link to your blog here.

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Is Your Mind a Mess in the Morning?

Ever find yourself launching a mental argument with your boss/customer/spouse/kid two minutes after crawling out of bed? There you are sleepy-eyed, brushing your teeth, practicing how you’re going to set them straight. Adrenaline slips through your veins and you walk out of the bathroom angry, bitter and depressed, cobbling together a defense against grievances real and imagined.

Or is it just me?

In cattle this is called “being on the muscle,” and frankly I don’t want to act like some pissed off cow 16 hours a day. But for a long time I thought I had no choice – I didn’t know I could control my mind.

 Villefranche

My teacher says our minds are the battlefield and whoever wins control of that ground, commands the whole person and ultimately the whole life. That’s why, she says, satan works hard to crank us up first thing in the morning, before we’re even really conscious. If I am mad before I leave the bathroom I spread strife and bitterness like a champ.

Ever considered that?

Nice Lights

Where does your morning depression come from? Were you depressed when you went to bed? What are you so mad about? Are you dreading something? Dread is a relative of fear, you know, so what are you afraid of?

Maybe, just maybe, someone is planting your garden for you.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12

But why are spiritual forces interested in keeping me bitter and depressed? Well, look around at all the “angry Christians” – an oxymoron if there ever was one –  do you want what they have? Depression, anger and fear hinder the love of God and remember, this is war.

So here’s what to do about it:

1. Notice it. Stop bushing your teeth and watch the angry nonsense. WTF is a rational response.

2. Stop it and replace it with something else – a mantra.

Nice Sea

I use this little book all the time to help me. It lists hundreds of scriptures by topic – anger, depression, fear, worry, money, rejection, patience etc. Each scripture is reworked into the first person and meant to be spoken aloud. The Bible says words are containers for power, so why not fill our space with the word of God rather than the black smoke of our bitter fulminations?

So, try it and tell me what happens. And in case you’re short on time, I’ve pasted a few on my pix of the French Riviera, tailor-made for your bathroom mirror. Feel free to print em up.

What are some of your favorites?

I Don’t Go to a Normal Church

If you watch tv much, you could be forgiven for thinking the Christian church has lost its ever-loving mind. Didn’t Jesus Christ himself say the two greatest commandments were to love God and love others? Uh Houston, we have a problem.

Just remember, normal followers of Jesus rarely make the news. Sometimes they do, but usually they’re too busy doing free electrical work at somebody’s house on a Saturday. They are typically quiet, unassuming people who, in a million years, would never tell you about the electrical work. But I will. That’s what a couple of guys from Wood County Cowboy Church have done with their spare time lately. In fact, two of them are in the picture below (Wes and Ryan – blue plaid and green short sleeves).

My nutty little church bustles with Christians like that. People there use whatever they happen to be doing as a vehicle for loving God and loving people, or put another way, obeying Jesus.

For instance, on Saturday, a bunch of us got together at church and had college for dogs. Our Elder Tommy Lee is a stock dog trainer and thought it would be fun to invite a bunch of people and have a clinic.

Tommy kicked off this canine hootenanny with his best dog. He said if we were half as enthusiastic about Jesus as Border Collies are about sheep, our lives would look totally different.

Picture 17

He also brought bunch of puppies along and turned them out with the sheep, just to get them thinking about their life’s work.

Picture 12

This fella won a bunch of money on tv with his dog.

Picture 5

And in case you’re wondering, this is how it looks when a dog listens.

Picture 23

This is how it looks when he doesn’t.

Picture 6

This is the pastoral peanut gallery. Mike, the guy with the dirty black hat, pastors our sister church, Cross Brand Cowboy Church, which has seen up to 2,000 people on a Sunday. A lot of people go there because it’s ok to wear a dirty hat.

Picture 16

This is Marc, the W3C Arena Manager. He brought a pile of fajita meat from the local Mexican market and grilled it over the fire for everybody. Arena Manager Marc

And the wearer of these cute boots took all these pictures. She’s the fabulous Sue Ellen Lare. Yep, like Sue Ellen from Dallas. Picture 25

The point is, these people are servants – loving God, loving others and having fun doing it. What a healthy way to approach your faith.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy, but I came so that you might have and enjoy your life, have it in abundance, to the full until it overflows.” So why not pray, play with your dog, then thank God for the sunshine, eat lunch and make new friends?

Minus the dogs, that’s how Jesus did it.

He’s worth emulating, and the gospels show us how.