Aloha Friday Message – September 21, 2018 – Tongue Tied

1838AFC092118 – Tongue Tied

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Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This weekend is another difficult post. I had intended to write on Discernment and Discrimination. Not all love is Love; however, my DELL’s internal Power Supply croaked, so we’re going to go a different direction. There is so much in the news these days about things the people said and/or did even decades ago. The tone of the rhetoric back and forth is wearying. The world is filled with self-proclaimed experts in any and every subject. Everyone claims to have the right solution – all of which pretty much boil down to “I was right all along and all of you knew that but did it wrong anyway!” The mythical 15-minutes-of-fame has become a marathon of accusations, counter-accusations, and often outright lies which deluge the Information Highway with more than any of us can possibly process – all ending in a lifetime of shame (sometimes well-earned!). The other day it got me thinking about the way cowboys would prevent their horse from running off; they hobbled it – they tied it up in such a way that it could still graze, but not wander far from camp. I wondered if we could hobble – or even completely tie up – those wagging tongues and the vicious damages they care causing.

Today I have two things on my mind. The first is this past Sunday’s Healing Word: Orbit. The second is this verse from

   Proverbs 13:3 Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives; those who open wide their lips come to ruin.

This passage always reminds me that [1] one of these days my mouth is going to be the end of me, and [2] despite that, I can do something about it. I know this because of what I learned when studying the Epistle of James 3:1-12. (Go ahead and read that one right quick. It’s very helpful!)

James talks about the power of speech, the power of the tongue. The power of speech is one of the most amazing gifts God has given us. In any language a human can praise God, bless God, worship God, adore God, glorify God, teach fellow souls about the power of God’s Word, and assist the Holy Spirit to lead lost sinners to Christ. But with that same tongue we can blaspheme God, insult God, sin against God and our brothers and sisters, and – like the Adversary – we can tell lies that can ruin a life, destroy a relationship, or break someone’s heart.

We have the ability to speak truth; it is certainly the best way to influence others; and yet so often we take this ability for granted or – worse – abuse it and invent our own “truth.” James’ Epistle gives us several different ways to understand the versatility of the tongue: the bit, the rudder, fire, a poisonous animal, a fountain, and a fig tree. I’d like to focus on the first and third of those for today.

A bit: Let’s think of the whole body and then think about how small a part of that body comprises the tongue. Yet, for such a small part, it truly is wonderful because of all the things it does; Taste, chew, speak, swallow, spit watermelon seeds, whistle, drink, even breathe; all of these things are possible because of the way the tongue was created. Small thing; big functionality. That functionality is one of the major determining factors in how we live out the course of our life on Earth. James points out another small thing with big functionality: a bit – and bridle of course. The analogy is that we put a bit into a horse’s mouth and – with the bridle – we can control a horse. A horse something that is animal as opposed to mineral, alive as opposed to inert, has a certain amount of self volition as opposed to with no self-control (bingo!), and doesn’t work at all unless it is held firmly in place. Hmmm. My tongue is alive, often does what I don’t want (including get between my teeth when I am eating), and sometimes I lose control of it because it gets disconnected from my bridle a/k/a brain. And whenever it “acts out on its own” someone or something usually gets hurt.

Fire: Many lives, governments, marriages, self-images, and even politicians have been reduced to ashes by a “tiny slip of the tongue,” a “little white lie,” an insult delivered as humor, or complex orchestrations of propaganda. James points out that the smallest spark – set loose carelessly or deliberately I would say – can set a whole forest afire. If you’ve ever been at a bonfire, you know how hot and dangerous it can be, and that’s a fire that is supposed to be controllable. A forest fire is something that is at once terrifying and fascinating. Who cannot watch the images on TV as a fire creeps across the land devouring everything in its path? But if you’ve ever been at, in, or even close to a forest fire, you know it is something only slightly less powerful than the ocean. Such destruction can begin from the smallest incident and progress far beyond its place of origin. Even a small, brief contact with fire can cause lasting trauma. Have you ever burned your finger lighting a match or picking up a heated object? Fire can cause hurt and, in some instances – depending on how it is controlled – can also provide help. We set intentional burns to make fire-breaks, we cauterize wounds, we smelt ore, we cook food, we defend against the wild, and fill a room with light – all generated by fire under control. James’ point is that when fire is allowed to be out-of-control, usually bad things happen. I am leaving lightening strikes out of this illustration because, for me, that opens the door to another huge area of learning.

James’ images in this passage are meant to show us what may happen when we fail to control our tongues. He states that the person who can control his/her tongue can control the whole body – and avoid sinning in the flesh. If we step back a little farther and look at the context of this passage, we see that it begins with an admonition to those who are, or wish to be, teachers. In the early church there were apparently a lot of people who laid claim to knowing the truth about Jesus. James admonishes them to be careful, because a teacher has a greater and higher level of accountability. The authority to teach can be abused; it can even be falsified. James cautions people to be discerning about the fruit of their service to others. (See last week’s AFC as well as Matthew 7:14, and Luke 6:44). We, too, must be discerning (see 1 John 4:1-3 … “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, 3 and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.”

OK, so we get the idea: The tongue can be a tiny little monster at times, yet it is essential to life, but can also be a source of death. We need to be careful how we control it and how we deal with the consequences. Another passage in Proverbs speaks of the person who doesn’t care about the destructive power of his carelessly spoken words. “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking!’” (See Proverbs 26:18-19) Often the folks who cannot keep their mouths shut and control their speech (including Social Media Speech) claim “I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I know it was wrong, and I apologize.” Or “It’s my inalienable human right to say and do what I want. If you don’t like it, leave, or do what I demand.” (See Proverbs 26:18-19) It’s easy to let our ego move us away from “love thy neighbor as thyself” and smack-dab into “Umm-m-m-m-m! You stu-ped! I’m going to tell.” It’s easy because that’s what The World expects under the domination of The Prince of The Air – Satan, The Accuser whose whole existence is controlled by his own lying tongue. Because of that he was cast away from God, and when I follow his advice, I am also moving away from my Creator.

Some days I am close enough to God and strong enough in my faith that the Light and Warmth of The Son enriches everything in my life. Other days my orbit carries me into cold and darkness and my life shrivels; that dark cold even affects everyone in my life.

  • When my orbit has nothing at the center, I just run around in a circle until I lose control and dash off into oblivion.
  • When I orbit around something powerful enough to keep bringing me in no matter how much or how often my own momentum wants to carry me out, my orbit is cleaner and less likely to lead to destruction.
  • When I orbit with and around others who are centered in that same power, we influence each other and become a system of orbiting bodies. Now I can’t extend that too far without running into trouble, because the point I want to make is that where we have the potential and power to control our lives, we should do so.

Orbits are a complex function of gravity and mass. That gravitational pull is a little like a bridle. If I oversimplify that, and draw that oversimplification back to the passage in the Letter of James, what I learn is that the best place to put that bridle connected to the bit that controls my life is in the hands of The Master. My brain, my heart, my tongue, my imagination, my devotions – all of these can be turned over to Him. Once in a while (like nearly every day) in the same way a headstrong horse yanks at the bit-and-bridle, I can regain “control” for a while. That usually does not turn out well. That bridle is the “orbit” that keeps me centered on where the Real Power resides. Hobble my tongue, Lord. I don’t want to hurt anyone with that thing!

Thank you for your prayers this past week. My surgery was spot on, but the recuperation is considerably different this time. Much more swelling and level 7,8 pain in my left thigh pretty much 24/7. However, both prostheses are properly placed, I’ve got the best Ortho team and PT team, and two exceptional caregivers who are helping me get going – Crucita and Timothy. Please continue your prayerful support of everyone in the MBN, especially those who have asked for our prayers. I really do hope you ae using the prayer list link I provide. And while we’re at it, there’s this from that page:

We pray for all leaders everywhere in all institutions, governments, organizations, religions, families, and relationships that they might govern with morality, com passion, integrity, wisdom, and justice so that we can all live together in Peace. LORD GOD, tie up our tongues so that in our thoughts, words, and deeds we will not sin against you or each other.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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