“When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong, sooner or later does. …Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. …” The Message Introduction to the Book of James
Sin is like diabetes. Daily Bible reading and prayer are your insulin. But we all had “kidney failure” so to speak. Going to church is our dialysis. Every few days we get our heart cleaned out.
“…So Christian churches are not as a rule model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with….” The Message Introduction to the Book of James
We face our failures – and with God’s help, set strategies to keep from repeating them.
“The letter of James shows one of the church’s early pastors skillfully going about his work of confronting, diagnosing, and dealing with areas of mis-belief and misbehavior that had turned up in congregations committed to his care. …Wisdom is not primarily knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living. For, what good is truth if we don’t know how to live it? …James carried the nickname “Old Camel Knees” because of thick calluses built up on his knees from many years of determined prayer. …Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.” The Message Introduction to the Book of James
There would be fewer knee replacements if we spent more time on them in prayer.
James 1:2, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” The Message
Now I am a little afraid to go to church!
James 1:3-4, “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. (4) So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” The Message
Whatever test is coming, I will need to endure it with patience!
James 1:22-24, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! (23) Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, (24) walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” The Message
Guilty. I am easily distracted. I need to make action notes with my sermon notes.
James 1:25, “But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God – the free life! – even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” The Message
Cool. My actions will be rewarded!
James 2:12-13, “Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. (13) For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” The Message
Note to self: Be kind. Show Mercy.
James 2:14-18, “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
(15) For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved
(16) and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup – where does that get you?
(17) Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
(18)…You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.” The Message
It’s time to leave for worship practice before church. Time to put my faith to work!
* * * * * * *
The keyboard monitor didn’t seem to work well in practice. I decided to use earphones – just in case. We started the service and nothing came out of the monitor. Thankfully, the synth came in and off we went.
Still no monitor. I thought the sound man had left my channel muted. I was a virtuoso. I hit 10 or 12 glissandos, a little rock and roll, and several jazz notes.
Nothing. The synth led the next 2 songs. When I came in on my part, I hit it hard. At the end of the third song, I even waved at the sound man. Still nothing.
I was to lead the fourth song. The guitar player was gone and wasn’t there to cover for me. I played the intro – NOTHING!
I ripped the earphones out of the keyboard and pushed the volume up to the max. The external speakers on it, (which were muted by the earphones), were loud enough for the leader to hear.
I grinned at the worship leader on the drums. He mouthed, “Make Rachel play the synth.” She came in and we finished worship.
The lay pastor came forward. (We are to turn our instruments down while he talks.)
Suddenly, the keyboard came through the system. My nephew, Brayden, put it best, “All service I couldn’t hear the piano. Then it was as if I fell into a piano!”
I had the keyboard as loud as it would go. The sound man had the channel as loud as it could go. It was an explosion of keys!
It turns out there was a short in the soundboard. That is why the keyboard kept disappearing in the monitor! It refused to work all through worship. The poor sound man tried everything. Then it decided to work at the most inopportune time!
James 3:1, “Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards.” The Message
Teachers teach about what they know. I know about being tested!
James 3:2, “And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths.” The Message
Have you met me?
James 3:5, “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!” The Message
* * * * * * *
“Over time, small things make a huge difference. …How often do you put your trust in the wrong thing. …Faith is not talking to God about your mountain; it’s talking to your mountain about your great God. …Most people don’t do great things. They do small things well and that changes everything.” Pastor Monte Knudsen, June 3, 2018
* * * * * * *
James 3:13, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.” The Message
I spent the rest of the service concerned for the sound man. It’s a thankless job. After a service, he may have 2 people talk to him. One will say it was too loud and the other will say they couldn’t hear. I expected he would be stressed out.
I was wrong.
After the service, he quietly made his way to the platform. He calmly explained about the short and promised to report it. (Shout out to Cam, the sound man! You should have been a doctor – you work well in a crisis.)
James 3:17-18, “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.
(18) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” The Message
I need to apologize to all the sound men I’ve worked with before. (Why, oh why, did I start a blog?) When things went wrong, as they inevitably did, I blamed them. They didn’t have any more control over things than me. God is in control. I learned my lesson.
James 4:1-3, “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again.
(2) They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not?
(3) Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” The Message
James 4:7-10, “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.
(8) Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.
(9) Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over.
(10) Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” The Message
The only way to get on my feet is by getting back on my knees.
“Even though we follow Christ’s command, we should not expect to escape the storm …Christ may delay coming to us during our times of distress, but it is simply so our faith may be tested and strengthened. …’With Christ in my vessel, I smile at the storm.’ Christ said, ‘Let’s go over to the other side’ – not ‘to the middle of the lake to be drowned.’ ” Daniel Crawford, “Streams in the Desert” June 3
Christ didn’t bail me out during the first song. But I weathered the storm and I’m stronger for it.
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