Do You Do or Don’t Do?

A year ago I decided to take my weight gain seriously.  My middle-aged hormones were wreaking havoc on my body.  I had gained 35 pounds.  And I was two months away from my daughter’s wedding.  God wants us to take care of ourselves.  1 Corinthians 6 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?”  And so, along with the help of a weight loss app I finally decided to really do something about it.  I was diligent.  By the time my daughter’s wedding came around the dress that I had tailored a few weeks prior didn’t really fit me – it hung loosely in a number of places.  About six months in I was 10 pounds away from my goal weight and decided I didn’t need the app anymore.  Around that same time the Covid19 crisis struck.  And here I am another seven months later with 15 pounds to lose.  You got that – I, of course, gained more weight.  So, at lunch today I sat across from my friend who also tries to watch her weight.  I told her about a great dish the restaurant has that is low calorie.  I knew exactly what to order and what not to order.  And as the waitress took our order, I did exactly what I shouldn’t.  I gave into my cravings.  Not only that, I convinced my friend to do the same.

When we do what we shouldn’t do!

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is quite the tongue twister.  When I heard a young pastor speak on these verses he could barely get it out without laughing.

“I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer myself who do it, but it is the sin living in me.”

Romans 7: 15-17

And the do’s keep going for four more verses!  James makes it a lot clearer:

“If anyone, then knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

James 4:17

We’ve probably all been there with the diet issue.  But how many times do we not do what we know we should do?  For some of us that might be every, single day.  Sinning is our very nature.  We Christians have allowed other people to use the word “sin” against us.  They say it makes us judgmental.  It makes us hypocrites.  It shows we don’t love people.  But sin is everyone’s nature – whether you are a Christian or not.  You can thank Adam and Eve for that.  Unlike atheists, Christians just recognize that we are sinning.  But the enemy wants us to be prideful and say we don’t sin – it’s those “other people.”  Throughout our day we need to recognize our sinful behavior and ask God for forgiveness.  When I blame someone else for “making me upset” or I accuse others of “doing worse than me” that’s pride shining through.  It also gives us cover to do the exact same thing over and over.  Sinning make take the form of fear over faith, worry, improper thoughts, shame or gossip.

My daily sin is being impatient and annoyed with people.  I know not to do it.  But I do it.  Sometimes I’m so caught up in my excuses I forget to take a moment and ask for that forgiveness – to ask for that strength not to do it again.  But I had a recent revelation.  I was living in transgression.  That, my friends, is a sin that is done over and over for a hidden reason.  After one of my prayers of forgiveness Jesus shined a light on it.  My lack of humility.  It was the root of my everyday sinning.  I was making excuses and hiding it.  And until I realized, it there was no chance of me stopping my bad behavior.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8: 7

You see all the accusers of this woman about to be stoned were hiding their sins, trying to sell everyone on their pious lives.  But you really can’t hide from Jesus.  Satan loves when we try to hide our sins.  I’ve been telling my Bible Study Girls lately that living like that creates a visual of a dark, scribbly mass living inside of us – creating chaos and hatred and all things ugly.  We have a hard time doing the right things for the right reason when we live with transgressions.  

A soul filled with transgressions

And then we have iniquities – where those transgressions become a bondage to our transgressions.  It drives us to repeatedly and continually commit sin.  It perverts all our good intentions.  For example, my sin of being annoyed with cashiers.  When I do it time and again it becomes about a lack of grace, love and humility on my part (transgression).  If I don’t repent and ask God to help this sin can move into an iniquity – where I actually hate cashiers.  I might even call them names, or think of them as lowly people for doing such “menial” jobs.  It becomes a soul crusher.  And satan dances.

Because, as Christians, we make it a point to live with the mind of Christ and the knowledge of God’s Word, we know what “doing good” means.  We can choose to give to the poor.  Or we can choose to ignore God’s call to help the needy.  And in doing so we sin.  And if we consistently withhold God’s treasure from His people our sin transforms into transgression – maybe a fear of losing money, a fear of not having enough money.  And those constant hidden thoughts about money may lead to an iniquity – greed, hatefulness to the needy, miserly behavior.  And none of those creates a loving mind and heart.

Why do we not do what we know we ought to do?  Because we have a sinful nature.  We want what we want, and we want it now.  The closer we try to live next to Jesus and the more we fill our minds and hearts with God, the harder it is to allow room for those sins to become soul killers.  

God knows His children.  He knows we need constant correction.  Let’s just try to keep our lives on the slightly wandering path rather than taking the full off-ramp.  Ask God right now to reveal any hidden sins in you — anything that you need to recognize that negatively motivates your behavior.  He loves you and will gladly honor your request in a way that He knows you need.  Don’t be afraid.  Just ask.   And then do what He tells you.

A Good Plan

When my eldest was two years old (she’s now 27) I quit my career job.  It was a big decision for me as I placed so much value in working.  I had never planned on being married and having children so getting a good education and then a good career was my grand plan.  And here I was, about 10 years after graduating college, quitting.  One day, we were out for a walk.  At a busy intersection, the crosswalk light turned for us and I pushed the stroller in front of a line of waiting cars.  Halfway across a man yelled out of his car, “Hurry up and why don’t you get a damn job!”  I was mortified.  I wasn’t angry with the man for being out of line, I was ashamed.  Ashamed I didn’t have a job to identify me as “worthy.”  How he would know my job status could only be the work of the devil.

Sometimes we accept the word of satan much easier than the Word of God

Joyce Meyer

My value, my self-worth, was wrapped up in a career.  Here I had a beautiful baby, a loving husband, a nice home and yet I was unable to see these gifts from God.  I had a plan and I had quit that plan.  I was a failure.  Each day my husband would come home and out of habit ask me what I had done that day.  Boy did that get my hackles up!  I started inventing things I had done or making what little I had done sound so exhausting and important.  I mean a trip to the dry cleaning can really take a lot out of you.  Instead of enjoying those precious moments of playing hide and go seek with my daughter I fretted over my future.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”

James 4:13-14

Life seems so complex and we want to control it.  By making our plans we try to take the chaos out of our lives.  We don’t want to be those “losers” who don’t have enough money to live on when we retire.  We make grand plans for our bank accounts.  We try to position ourselves so we are the ones that get that great promotion.  We commit ourselves to long term goals with creating a family, losing weight, travelling, careers and so much more.  And yet, we forget about today.  The right here and now.

“Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Proverbs 27:1

That doesn’t mean we aren’t to be good stewards of our gifts.  I did a Bible study once where the entire focus was on being a good manager of what God has placed in our hands.  You see it’s never about having money or not having money with God.  It’s never about having a good job or not.  It’s not about saving money to buy a home or not.  God’s has all good things in mind for us.  It’s always about our relationship with Him.  When we submit to the will of God, it all starts to make sense.

I used to pray for God to bring me joy one day.  That day was, of course, when I was financially secure, my kids were in good jobs and married, and I finally had the perfect lakehouse.  Sounds like the perfect plan, right?  I kept putting off joy.  Instead of investing in my eternal life by appreciating today, I was investing in my earthly life by ignoring today.  I was reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon today called, “Waiting Only Upon God.”  He tells this story about the Scottish novelist and playwright Sir Walter Scott:

“Perhaps there never was a mind more gigantic than the mind of Sir Walter Scott: a man whose soul was as fertile as the newly broken soil of the land of gold. That man was a good man I believe, a Christian; but he made a mistake in the object of his life. His object was to be a lord, to found a family, to plant the root of an ancestral tree the fruit of which should be heard of in ages to come; magnificent in his hospitality, generous in his nature, laborious in his continual strife to win the object of his life, yet after all he died a disappointed and unsuccessful man. He reared his palace, he accumulated his wealth and one sad day saw it scattered to the wind, and he had lost that for which he had lived. Had he fixed his eye upon some better object than the pleasing of the public, or the accumulation of wealth, or the founding of a family, he might have got the others, and he would not have lost the first. Oh! had he said “Now I will serve my God; this potent pen of mine, dedicated to the Most High; shall weave into my marvellous stories things that shall enlighten, convince, and lead to Jesus,” he might have died penniless, but he would have died having achieved the object of his wishes—not a disappointed man.”

In other words, God gifts us in so many ways – with different talents, with finances, with family, etc – but when we make the plan to succeed at those, without seeking His Will, we will surely be disappointed at the end.  We work and we toil.  We stress and we plan.  And we forget this one thing.

“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

James 4:14

It’s true.  We all will die.  We don’t know the day or the hour.  Without God as our light, without God as our object of desire, we waste our days clutching and worrying.  Spurgeon goes on to say that so many of us make our plans and then turn to God asking what we should do and then go do what we originally planned.  Sound familiar?  In fact, after researching for this post I finally realized I hadn’t prayed yet what God wanted me to say.  I kept bouncing back to my notes thinking about what I wanted to write.  I finally just opened my computer, put my hands to the keys and said, “Tell me what you want me to say.”  I had done my research, I had quotes and verses to pull from so I was prepared.  But in the end, I was also willing to do what God told me to do.

I heard a sermon the other day called “Crazy Faith.”  The pastor started out talking about Noah.  Here’s this guy, most likely a farmer, who the Bible called a “righteous man.”  Meaning he probably honored his debts, paid his workers and did a bang-up job with taking care of his family.  He had it all planned out.  Toil away in the fields year after year and be a successful farmer.  And then God.  The great part of this story is Noah didn’t say, “But I have my own plan for my life.  I’m a farmer, not a ship builder.  Oh, and by the way, I don’t live by an ocean.  I’m going to go out and plant some more seeds and reap my harvest.  Go away.”  I’m sure being a “righteous man” he prayed to God for good things to happen in his life.  So, when God said, “Ok, here’s a good thing I want you to do.”  He did it.  Are we so willing?  Or are we married, fully committed to our plan?  We are so committed that we miss the God given opportunities to help and love others.  We miss the doors He opens for an amazing life rather than the toiling life we have planned.

A few posts ago I mentioned the 100 Lunches Project.  Each week for about a year God led me to feeding the homeless.  It wasn’t about feeding the homeless really.  It was about ripping that need to work and justify my daily activities out of my heart and mind.   It was about not planning every single detail out.  It was about going first to Him to check in on what He wanted from me.  At the time I was working at a school counseling office.  I worked three days a week.  It made me feel worthy.  And then He told me that I needed to deliver food regularly on one of those three days.  When I went into the office the next day I said, “I know you are familiar with my 100 Lunches Project.  Well, God told me I need to start doing it on Wednesdays so that means I can’t work that day.”  Yep, I said that.  And the response was, “Ok, sounds good.  We are happy to have you whichever days you can give us.”  My mouth might have dropped open a bit.  Each and every time I went to God for direction, on money, on what to buy, on where to go, on the help I needed, He answered.  And I obeyed.  It was glorious.

So, you see, it’s not about trying to build up that big retirement account.  It’s about asking God what you should do with that paycheck.  And doing it.  Charles Stanley’s Life Principles #2 & #5 say to obey God and leave all the consequences to Him – even if it seems unreasonable.  EVEN IF he asks us to build an ark in the middle of the desert.  He has great plans for us – we may not ever be famous or wealthy.  But that plan will be good.  And if He doesn’t answer right away, as Christians that live close to God, we already know to be good stewards of His gifts.  We will have prepared for the day He does speak.  Until then, He calls us to enjoy what we have right now.  For tomorrow may never come.

Big “S” Little “s”

Born Again By His Spirit
How can you love others 
when you can't love yourself,
is it a bridge too far?
Perhaps you've been hidden
 away on a shelf
unaware of just who you are.

It is time for you now
 to come into view
and to stand in the place of knowing;
 to take the helm
within your own boat you're been rowing.

And as you surrender
 to His loving Grace
you will find yourself hidden in Him;
with His loving Light
 outshining all others
allowing your sails to be trimmed.

Once blind, now you'll see,
 for GOD will release
the Wind of His Spirit to blow,
which in turn your identity,
 that was foreign to you,
 will thus be revealed and you'll know.....

Right in the middle of this wonderful poem by fellow blogger, Carol Congalton, you’ll see a very important word: Surrender.  A few weeks ago, my Bible Study Girls took up this topic of submission/surrender.  The conversation went something like this: 

BSG 1: “That sounds good to surrender my problem to God but how do I actually do that?”

BSG 2: “Ya, when Christians say, ‘just give it up to God’ I think that can give us a bad name.  Like it’s that easy.”

BSG 3: “I mean the actual giving up is like, boom, done.  But the work up to it is what is so difficult.”

BSG 1: “But I don’t know how to do that.”

BSG 2: “A pastor once said if you don’t want to forgive, then ask God to help you want to forgive.  And if you have trouble doing that, ask God to help you want to learn how to forgive.  If you don’t want to do that, ask God to help you want to ask to learn how to forgive!”

Great advice.  When we are stuck, we need to go back to a place we are ok with and start there.  Which brings us to submission.  Ewww.  For many of us just that word alone brings negative connotations.  Some of us (most of us) just aren’t white flag wavers, especially when it comes to closely held beliefs and baggage.  

“Submit yourselves then to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7

Most of the time we just want the devil to flee from us without the submission part.  You know, get the creamy inside without having to work our way through the hard, outer shell.  The devil wants us to keep clinging to earthly definitions of submission.  But God says,

“Come near to God, and He will come near to you.”

James 4:8

I realized there’s two types of submission when it comes to being a Christian.  There’s a big “S” and a little “s.” The big “S” is the flipping of the script.  It’s the big “ah ha” moment in our lives.  It’s not the same as when we decided to believe in God or even that Jesus is our Savior.  There’s a lot of Christians that believe both those but haven’t fully submitted to God.  It may have happened to us as a child and we are fortunate to have lived our lives in submission to God.  My friend Betsy is like that.  She can’t remember a time without God as her commander.  And you can tell she’s had a lifetime to accept that God loves her immensely.  We joke and say “What would Betsy do?” because the spirit of Jesus is apparent in her life.

Others of us may be long time Christians but only recently had that light switch flipped or maybe we haven’t gotten there yet.  We’ve gone to church, did all the “right” Christian things except actual, full submission to God.  I was listening to a great podcast from Transformation Church the other day.  They had guest pastor Tim Ross as their speaker.  His sermon focus was on upsetting the world.  And by that he meant like the disciples, who went throughout unfriendly lands waking the world up to the Word and the love of Jesus, we should be the conduits for change in people’s lives.  His three steps were:

  1. Upset yourself – in other words wake up and recognize the sin in ourselves.  It’s time to take God’s Word to heart and as James tells us, do the actual work of God.
  2. Upset religion – a great line in his sermon was we should not be ok to show up to church when God is not present in that church.  Joyce Meyers says if you leave church not feeling convicted or energized to go out and do good then you need to change churches.
  3. Let go of our independence – and there’s the “Boom.”  

We are so afraid to loosen our grip.  So afraid of losing control.  And yet our grip is choking the life out of… our life.

“Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”

Dwight L. Moody

And if you don’t believe that, you need to pray for God to help you believe that.  I love the story of Peter walking on water.  

“Lord, if it is you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

Matt 14:28

Notice Peter didn’t see Jesus, jump out of the boat and run toward Jesus in complete and total submission?  He asked Jesus to call to him.   And Jesus responded, “Come.” (Matt 14:29).  

That was a pretty big “S.”  Imagine if you were there sitting in the boat and saw Jesus.  He tells you to “come” and either you refuse or you get about halfway out and you change your mind – faceplanting on the edge of the boat.  There’s no halfway.  You’re either in or you’re out.  It’s not magic.  When I sat at the edge of my boat I pleaded with God to tell me what I was doing wrong.  I was being a “good Christian” and I was miserable.  He was clear.  “What have you really done?” was His response.  He made it clear I had yet to fully submit to Him.  I needed to climb out of the boat and walk to Him.  And so, for the first time, I broke down and made a full commitment to Him.

And then there’s the little “s.”  Like a little snake wiggling around at our feet, it’s the everyday moments where we make that re-commitment to submitting to God.  They are our daily reminders that we have chosen not to be friends of this world but instead be children of God.  We must have the big “S” before the little “s” can take on their full success and meaning.  It’s those times when I’m tempted to get frustrated behind slow drivers or get mad at my husband for doing “that thing, yet again.”  Or when I’m tempted to take on a new, difficult task without praying first.  I must choose again to surrender to God to help fortify me.  When I fail, I know He loves me and holds out a helping hand.  

Our little “s” moments give us opportunities to grow and pull closer to God.  Those moments allow God to remove what’s hindering us from joy.  We may have a lot of little “s” moments until God sees that our big “S” is fully secure and planted in our hearts.  I heard this quote somewhere, “God doesn’t take us on the longest or shortest path.  He takes us on the right path for us.”

And when we submit completely to Him, to be His walking buddy on that path, only then can we enjoy the creamy filling – and the devil will flee from us.  Because he knows there’s no getting past a person surrounded and filled with God.

If you aren’t sure you have fully submitted to God, ask Him. Ask Him to shine a light on any area that you still have firmly in your own grasp. Tell Him to call to you — and then get all the way out of that boat.

Selfish Prayer

I had finally decided to do it.  I made a lunch date with my parents to tell them.  I was scared.  Conjuring up conversations laden with disdain, disgust and even some hatred I drove to the restaurant.  As we dug into our sandwiches, I mustered up the courage to blurt it out.  “I’ve started going to church.”  And then I winced in anticipation.  After some silence, I continued, “I was a bit afraid to tell you.”  And my mother replied, “Why would you be afraid to tell us that and WHY on earth do you feel the need to go to church?”  That, my friends, in one sentence, is the story of our relationship.   After I explained a few reasons why I decided to attend church my father finally spoke.  “Believing in God is a crutch.  It’s something I don’t need.”

Nowadays when I hear people say things like that my response is, “A crutch?  Give me two please!”  Because there’s nothing I need more than for God to support me through this difficult life.  There’s nothing better than Him.  I have the promise of eternal life and His love under one arm and the power of prayer and petition under the other.

We live out our lives using so many other worldly things as crutches – our jobs, friendships, our bank accounts, our health, our status, the belief in the power of our own mind, etc.  And when those become our source of support our prayer life (if we even have one) directly reflects those crutches.

“You do not have because you do not ask.  When you ask, you do not receive. Because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

James 4:2-3

I call this a selfish prayer life.  Either we don’t ask because, like a two-year old we think, “I can do it all by myself!”  Or when we do pray, we aren’t asking as wisdom-filled followers of Jesus.  How many of us have recited a prayer and at the end said, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”?  Have we stopped to consider what exactly we are saying?  Is what we are praying something Jesus would ask for of the Father?

“Man is a creature abounding in wants. He is ever restless. His heart is full of desires. Man is like a sea anemone with its multitude of tentacles, which are always hunting in the water for food.”

Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have

I’ve heard a lot lately about our attitude and faith. The state of our attitude needs to be examined when praying. When we pray, are we complaining and want a “magic pill?” Are we asking for other people to be “fixed” when we really need for God to shine the light on what we need to fix in ourselves? Do we pray to get the promotion so we can make more money or do we pray for God to position us in our company right where He needs us most? When we don’t get the promotion do we then say, “but I prayed about it and obviously God isn’t listening?” We get angry with God when He doesn’t do what we tell Him to do. Go figure.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolish….But we have the mind of Christ.”

1 Cor 2:14-16

When we don’t live as though we have the mind of Christ inside us, we pray as though we don’t know the spirit of God.  Our heart and mind, with the wisdom of God, must be woven throughout our prayers.  My friends and I recently watched the movie, “War Room.”  In it, an older woman disciples a younger woman who is having a lot of marital problems.  She wants her husband fixed – fixed, of course, how she wants him fixed.  The takeaway from the movie for all of us was the intensity and sincerity the older woman had in her prayer life.  What I had to realize was two things:

  1. The devil is hard at work, even in our prayers.
  2. We need to use our power and authority given by Jesus to plead with God

And so, I created my own prayer War Room.  I pray with conviction that God will hear my prayer and His desires will be done.  I pray knowing He wants the things I want – for families to be reunited, for mothers to find their voice, for husbands to step into their roles, for daughters to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for friends to surrender to Him, for our country to be healed.  And I pray thankfully for prayers that have been answered and for his intervention into my life and my family’s.  

War Room starring Priscilla Shirer

I don’t pray for things anymore.  I pray for wise decisions.  I pray for doors to be open and doors to close.  I pray for hurt feelings to be removed and for me to not hurt people’s feelings.  I pray for forgiveness and to forgive.  I pray asking for the strength to live a life He wants me to live – not the one my selfish desire wants to be. I pray for Him to take my burdens so I can rest in the peace Jesus left with us.  And I pray boldy.  I pray calling on all the strength I know God, the King of Kings, has to do all things.  It’s time to stop messing around with lazy, recitation praying and start meaning exactly what we say.

“If your desires are the longings of fallen nature, if your desires begin and end with your own self, and if the primary purpose for which you live is not to glorify God, but glorify yourself, then you may fight but you will not have.”

Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have

As Christians we have the privilege of prayer. Think of all the people you know who don’t know Christ. They are left to their own devices – and we are terribly faulty people. We get our own lives so messed up yet somehow, we think we can control the world around us. We must pray. We must pray His will be done. Our first impulse in the morning should be prayer. Throughout the day we should be praying for others. And at the end of the day we are specific with our prayers of thankfulness. Let’s not be like the sea anemone grasping at whatever luck or speck of good comes our way. Instead, seize on the notion that God wants to give us a good life. All we need to do is ask.

We’re In Control…Aren’t we?

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” 

Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

As I read through the fourth chapter of James I hear one word over and over – control. Even the most passive among us desire control. Control over our decisions, over what jobs we want, over people around us, over people not even around us. Control over our thoughts, your thoughts, over our emotions and yes, over yours. I know a woman who is incredibly sweet and demure. She defers to everyone. She’s a chronic apologizer. You know those folks — they apologize when you are late. It’s seems to be a uniquely female quirk. She is discovering, with God, the woman she’s supposed to be. But what she also wants is to control the emotional outcome for every situation. By thinking we have that type of control over others frequently leads us to decisions resulting in the exact opposite outcomes.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

James 4:1

Ouch. Again.  There’s that “log in your eye” message.  You know, the one that says, before you worry about the speck in someone else’s eye, first remove the log out of your own.  In modern times it’s called “baggage.”  Why does the sweet, demure woman desire control over emotional outcomes of others?  We frequently make decisions to protect ourselves from negative situations.  Negative situations we probably experienced growing up.  We are either in protect mode or attack mode to keep us from getting harmed.  Our triggers call for us to “shields up” (for all you Star Trek nerds).  We start playing chess matches of one.  Trying to predict if we say or do something we can outmaneuver our adversary.  Our human desire to control and predict our lives is fertile ground for satan to work his wicked ways.


the (perceived) power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

I added the “perceived” part because so often we think we have control when we don’t — causing the friction within ourselves. In the realm of God there’s only one type of “control” He wants us to seek – self-control.  For when we seek to control our minds, our tongues, our bodies, based on His desires, only then can we find true peace.  I love the expectation God has for us to build upon our faith.

“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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”

2 Peter 1:5-7

Self-control is smack dab in the middle.  With knowledge of what God expects of us we must then set our minds and behavior up against that knowledge and control them.  And without self-control we cannot persevere.  Pretty logical.  Without self-control with my diet I won’t make it to my goal.  Without self-control over my tongue my marriage might not survive.  Without self-control over my body I might put myself in physical harm.  


The ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.

Between trying to control others or self-control, only one of these are we guaranteed to be successful at on a regular basis.  The rest, shall we say, needs to be left to God.  Self-control is when we make a commitment to commune with God and study His Word each morning.  It’s when we are faced with a conflict we are slow to speak and quick to listen.  It’s when we are tempted by food, drink, anger, sex, (fill in the blank) and we turn our mind to God and His Truth – not the truth we are conjuring up in our minds to justify wrong-mindedness.

This chapter of James tells us to lose our grip.  Not on our minds but to lose our grips on our relationships, our big plans, our need to know “what’s next.”  It’s scary.  We are all control-freaks in one way or another.  But really, how well has that been working out for you thus far?

Words Matter

It would be kind to say I don’t have the best relationship with my parents.  It would be honest to say I don’t really have a relationship with them at all.  What I have is sort of a truce.  Not really with them, but with myself.  When I finally figured out they didn’t really want a loving relationship, I turned to God for help.  I asked Him to help me honor my commitment as their daughter while protecting myself from mental harm.  And so, what God and I have worked out is my parents are people that I happen to know and whom I occasionally have an obligation to check in on.  And I do that with a positive attitude because I know I am right with God.  People to whom I’ve shared that think it’s sad.  Some think it’s a bit harsh.  Maybe I haven’t tried enough.  Maybe I need to fix something else.  I struggle each year to find mother’s day and father’s day cards.  But words matter.  I will no longer lie that they love me dearly.  Because they can’t speak it or show it.  And so, God helped me to develop the right words to define the relationship – a definition not borne out of anger or hurt but out of a desire to make peace.

Words matter.  If there’s one simple statement that defines James 3 it’s just that.  We learned this week that once spoken, they can’t be taken back.  They are mirrors into our hearts and minds.  They define from where our daily wisdom is derived.  They can make peace or war.  Words are powerful and they matter.

“The tongue is like a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

James 3:6

Wow.  And yet on average we speak about 15,000 words a day.  Just think of all the forest fires we cause.  I’d like to think we are doing a lot of peacemaking instead, but do you think that would be true?  James wrote his letter to Christian Jews around 45 AD and almost 2,000 years later his description of our words still rings painfully true.

When we lose control over our mouths and words, we’ve lost control over our hearts and minds.  We pull from the fountain of man’s wisdom.  We seek earthly gain and earthly results.  And then seem surprised when there is conflict.  “What? What did I do/say?  Why are you so sensitive? What’s her/his problem?”  My mom once said to me in the midst of a screaming match, “I’M NOT SCREAMING AT YOU!  JUST BECAUSE YOU WENT TO COLLEGE DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN TELL ME THAT I AM UPSET!”  You want to unpack all that?

Our words (and the way in which we deliver them) can define how we see ourselves in various roles.  It’s why we’ve been told to stop using certain words like “housewife” (domestic worker), “illegal immigrant” (undocumented worker) or “unemployed” (economically inactive).  The connotations behind certain words have become politically incorrect and therefore must be stricken from our mouths.   If we only took as much interest and care in what we basically do with our words every day we’d all be a lot better off.

On one hand we can be so quick to correct someone for their “incorrectness” yet forget that the correction is frequently just what James warns against.  Showing bitterness, lack of humility, and lack of mercy brings about our desires to make sure we shove that correctness down someone’s throat.  When I hear a younger person deriding an older person for using words such as “oriental” or “stewardess” it shows first, a lack of respect for elders and second, a lack of understanding of historical perspective and therefore a lack of mercy and forgiveness.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

James 3:17

I don’t see a lot that going around these days.  However, I can only be responsible for one person – me.  So, when God and I worked out helping me verbalize my relationship with my parents He made sure I did it with a peaceful heart, a merciful and sincere one.  I couldn’t keep living in a fake world where I thought each time I interacted with them that they weren’t who they are.  I need to accept them as the faulty people we all are.  I needed to stop wanting them to love me and accept the love instead from my husband, my children and my extended family but most of all from Christ.  But I also needed to respect my role as their only child.  

Words matter.  So, I say they are people I happen to know.  People that I check in on every now and then because God wants me to.  I say it matter-of-factly, without anger, without vengeance, without hurt.  God also wants me to pray for them so I do.  I pray every day to have the walls they have solidly built around them, through negativity and a lack of any faith, to be torn down.  And I know those words are powerful and good. 

Makes Sense

Arguing amongst us Christians seems to be at an all time high.  I bet the devil is dancing a little jig.  We can’t seem to agree on churches being open, wearing masks, gathering together, black lives mattering, funding or defunding the police, whether the president is a racist or not, and on and on and on.  We boast of our breadth of knowledge about some topic near and dear to our emotions all the while pressing our perceived enemy’s face down into the dirt.

We forget the most important admonishment from Jesus: To love others.  

If we start there, we set ourselves off on the right path toward speaking God’s wisdom rather than “earthly, unspiritual, demonic, wisdom” (James 3:15). But when we decide that something just “makes sense” to us without using the touchstone of God’s Words, oh the rabbit holes we can find ourselves deep within.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let them show it by their good life by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy, and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

James 3:13-14

I used to follow a well-known female pastor.  I’ve read her books and listened to her sermons.  And then an election season came.  She was vehement about supporting a certain candidate.  She was distraught when he lost.   It was based on her hatred for the current occupant of that seat.  What made “sense” to her was that the current, very conservative senator was against illegal immigration and therefore a racist – her logic, not mine.  However, the candidate she supported was pro-abortion (not just pro-choice), pro-illegal immigration, anti-school choice, pro-legalizing drug use, removing equal voting representation by eliminating the electoral college, and so much more.  Just the abortion stance alone had me scratching my head.  But a lot of her followers, or fans, went along with her. Just as a lot of Christians can’t seem to agree on abortion, I suppose.  When it came down to it, I sought out Godly wisdom to decide whether my thoughts on the situation were in line with Jesus.

What I was led to was not to berate her on social media, not to burn her books, not to ask God to send her into hell.  It was to pray for His wisdom and mercy to drop like a blanket over the situation.  And with that, I went my own way in peace.

When we make decisions based on what the Bible calls the “flesh” – things that work “best” for us, what makes us feel good, what gets us what we think we want, or what we feel protects us – we are almost guaranteed to go off the rails.  Here’s a few contrasts I’ve found when it comes to Earthly Wisdom vs Godly Wisdom

Earthly                                                Godly
Getting evenBeing generous in love and forgiveness
Saving and hoardingHelping those in need
Protecting “our time” Generous with our gifts and talents
Avoiding our enemiesReaching out to build bridges of peace
Being enviousGaining peacefulness and thankfulness
Gossiping or beratingBuilding others up
Being deceitful Seeking meekness and purity
Flip flopping our decisionsBeing decisive in God’s righteousness
Withholding loveGiving mercy
Comply with the world’s view Being sincere in who God made us to be

Just because we call ourselves “Christians” doesn’t mean we can sit back and proclaim all our thoughts and actions good.  Even our faith leaders are tested and must continually seek out His Word to ensure we walk on the right path.

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

PS 34:14

Pursue it.  It doesn’t say “once you’ve sought peace it’s all over, wash your hands, put your feet up and you’re done.”  That’s because the devil, that wily adversary, just loves when we let our armor down.  Especially when we think we’ve reached the pinnacle of being a “good Christian.”  Every single day we are faced with decisions big and small.  When we wake up, we decide what kind of day we will have – one living with or without the Holy Spirit.  When we get stuck in traffic, encounter an unhappy person, when we see a homeless person, when we get asked to volunteer, we get another text from that relative who has differing political views, when we decide what to watch on tv, and what we say (or don’t say) we are thankful for at the end of the day.

I recently had a back and forth with a commenter who posted on a Christian site something about the organization Black Lives Matter.  The commenter stated that the Bible supports the idea touted by the organization Black Lives Matter of destroying the nuclear family and raising our children commune-style.  I’m sure that makes them feel good.  It sounds lovely.  Everyone raising everyone else’s kids and not one person needing to be wholly responsible.  When I said I didn’t know where that was in the Bible, she said, “Well, I read the Bible differently than you.” Go figure. So often we find ourselves supporting ideas that sound good, sound loving, sound just, when it’s really based on earthly wisdom, not Godly.  When we decide earthly wisdom is correct over God’s we’ve decided to remove Him from the throne.  We’ve said we know better than the King of Kings.  

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. PS 95:3

It’s time to place our earthly wisdom right up against the measuring stick of God’s Word.  Each time we feel “righteous” or “virtuous” we need a gut check to be sure it makes sense in God’s realm, not man’s.  

What areas in your life have you defended which need to be held up against God’s Wisdom Measuring Stick?

The Mind-Field

That day we were taking our usual walk through the canyon by my house.  What wasn’t usual was that it was April 2020 – the height of the panic of Covid-19.  Our entire conversation was focused on trying to discern the truth about the dangers we were facing.  My friend turned to me and said, “I don’t understand.  Why aren’t you afraid?”

Before I reveal my answer let me back up a bit.  I am a maturing Christian.  I’m past the “baby Christian” phase and making what my Bible Study Girls call “imperfect progress.”  Had this virus and the media response to it been around about 10 years ago I would be freaking out.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep.  I would pace the house all day with jumbled, unsettled thoughts – not being able to accomplish anything.  I would be frantic about the economy, my husband’s business failing, my kids getting sick and so much more.  The battlefield of my mind would look like a World War 1 field of hidden trenches, barbed wire and the stench of all things unsanitary.  That’s how I handled a lot of problems.  Fast forward to that April 2020 walk.

Trench warfare WWW1

“I’m not afraid of dying is the simplest answer,” I replied.  I had peace in my mind and in my heart that for one, I didn’t have control over much of what was going on and two, if I got sick or someone I loved got sick and died I knew I would see them again.  I hadn’t thought about it much until she asked me.  And when I answered I realized my mind battlefield looked more like victory than a bombed-out shelter. Sure there are the occasional skirmishes but my battle plan is solid.

So many of God’s lessons about going out and making “fishers of men” first require us to get right minded with Jesus.  And James reminds us of this when he admonishes us to control our tongue, commit to doing good deeds, show others mercy, and gain God’s wisdom.  So, when he says:

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

JAMES 3:18

I first think, “how can I be a peacemaker when I frequently battle myself?”  We’ve all joked before about having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.  Each whispering in our ear.  The tug-of-war going on in our minds is surely not peaceful.  And if we can’t get our own mind to be at peace with God then how can we reflect peace out to others?

I was reading excerpts from Francis Frangipane’s book, The Three Battlegrounds.  One of those battlegrounds is our mind.  The description of the combatants is fascinating.  It’s important in any battle to know who, exactly, you are up against.

“We should know this about Satan: he is an ancient and extremely treacherous foe.  On the other hand, the strength of most Christians lies primarily in idealism and untested fervor.”

In other words, Satan has had a lot more practice on this battlefield than you or I.  It’s no wonder he seems to succeed so easily.  We are tricked into thinking all our negative self-talk is justified – even in the face of knowing we are made in God’s image.  Ya, but that saggy stomach and those large hips.   And people aren’t going to like us anyways.  Honestly, with this realization of Satan’s 10,000 page resume up against our entry into this battlefield for what, 30 years, 20? 5? 1?  It’s no wonder we struggle finding peace in our minds.  

“What happens when you wake up in the morning feeling low, irritated, discouraged, or frustrated – and you don’t know exactly why?  There has to be reason.  For every root there is a fruit.”

Joyce Meyer, Understanding the Root of Your Fruit

We’ve all done this – some of us are doing it every, single day.  We wake up (that is if we ever did get to sleep) and immediately start thinking how bad the day is probably going to be.   Sometimes we struggle because we just aren’t taking care of ourselves physically.  Did you drink that extra glass of wine and went to bed late?  What’s your diet and exercise routine (ha!)?  Or maybe it’s a spiritual problem like you care too much about what other people think about you instead of focusing on God.  Maybe you’ve forgotten that Jesus lives in you and you’ve shoved Him aside in order to try and “take control.”   I do know this, when we aren’t aligning ourselves with God then the opposite must be true.  And if that’s the case how in the world can we effectively handle a grumpy salesclerk?

“I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants – but let them not turn to folly.”

PS 85:8

Turning to folly is the key to that statement.  The gift of peace is right there for the taking.  God allows us to be sifted by Satan.  He did it to Peter in order for Peter to get his pride in check.  God knows we have wheat and chaff in our minds.  He is greater than Satan.   So, when God allows Satan to test us, sift us, and we turn to the angel on our shoulder instead of the devil, God knows the end product will be good.   Our minds want to tell us the opposite of God’s love.  Our minds want to be distracted by worldly things.  Those darn minds can think too highly or lowly of ourselves.  And our minds like to seek revenge.   Just as James describes the small bit controlling a large horse, we need to use God’s Truth in His Words to tame our wild minds.  

This is what my mind looks like when I want to just scream!

God is always working in our life.  We just need to pray and persist in our goal toward God-centered wisdom.   When we rise in the morning and thank Him for another day to be able to serve Him; when we take the time to sit in communion with Him; when we keep our eyes, hearts and minds on Him throughout our day it doesn’t leave much room for Satan to enter.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Rom 8:5

I don’t know about you but I’d rather make it through the minefield safely using Jesus as my bomb-sniffing dog.  Constantly looking to him along the path for guidance.  He knows what lies ahead.  When we are closely aligned, I can see His subtle signals telling me to be careful and which steps to take.  When we successfully make it to the other side we can guide others through that field as well.  

My Big, Fat, Sparkly Life

I recently read an excerpt from author Tim LaHaye’s, “Spirit Controlled Temperament.”  I love reading about different personalities and picking out which ones line up with my family members.  For those that aren’t familiar with LaHaye’s temperaments there are four of them.  He calls them the “real you” and they are based on names given by Hippocrates.  Your temperament is the combination of inborn traits that affect all our behavior.  Your temperament, combined with childhood training, education, basic attitudes, beliefs and principles forms our character.  The outward appearance of that character is our personality.  Depending upon how genuine a person is those two might or might not match up.

I am firmly in the “Rocky Choleric” temperament: hot, quick, active practical, and strong-willed.  I’m self-sufficient and opinionated.  I’m not frightened by adversity and I have a “dogged determination.”  Here’s the downside.  The “Rocky Choleric” doesn’t always sympathize with others and we don’t naturally express compassion.  In fact, it’s the one area for me that makes me very uncomfortable.  Oh, and did I forget to mention we can also be bossy?  LaHaye goes on to say that the Apostle Paul was a Choleric.  

“Who but a Choleric would crawl out from under a rock pile and the next day walk 12 miles to preach the gospel?”

Tim LaHaye

And boy have I managed to drop a lot of rocks on myself.  I’m working on crawling out.

I wore my pessimistic personality like a badge of honor.  I chastised people who I felt lived behind, “rose colored glasses.”  I consistently was praised for fixing other people’s problems and resolving organizational messes.  But did I mention us Cholerics can be bossy and not compassionate?  On the inside, I envied other people’s social lives.  I wanted to be that woman that walked into a room and threw off glitter wherever she went.  People adore that woman.  She gets invited to Palm Springs weekend getaways with the girls and Luke Bryan concerts (with backstage passes no less).  I would sit hunched over my computer scrolling through other peoples’ facebook pages seeing all the parties I wasn’t invited to.  I envied the sparkly people who were at all the book clubs and Bunco parties.  And every time I tried fitting in, I failed miserably.  Maybe that’s what James is talking about in this verse.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

James 3:16

I was trying to do what Tim LaHaye says is next to impossible – change my basic temperament — because I was envious.  I wanted to change the person God made me to be.  What I needed to do instead was align the positive parts of my temperament to Jesus and learn how to release the negative parts. The world’s greatest generals, dictators, and gangsters have predominately been Cholerics, according to LaHaye.  The difference?  Their alignment or lack thereof with God.  

Envy is a dangerous game.  It leads to anger and hatred and sometimes violence.  Warren Buffett once said,

‘It’s not greed that drives the world but envy.”

Envy is the idea of wanting what others have and taking it from them if necessary.  We see a lot of envy in social media, the news, and even as a basis for some of the riots going on today.  Someone wants what someone else has.  As Christians, even in our darkest situations we aren’t to envy others.  We are to turn to God for all our needs.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (condensed)

Gala 5:19-21

Envy never finds itself in good company.  I visualize envy as a black swirling, scribbly mass that’s living inside our body.  Its disorganized and ravenous.  It keeps us from thinking with God’s wisdom.  It tears at our hearts so we fail to be compassionate.  We end up living far outside the righteous life He wants for us.

So, when I announced to a Bible study group a few years ago that I, Kris Shetter the Choleric, wanted to be Sparkly, also known in LaHaye’s world as the “Sparky Sanguine,” I had to figure out how to do that while remaining true to myself.  The Sparky Sanguine is warm, buoyant, lively, and fun loving.  She/He is optimistic, compassionate and friendly.  Ya, I bet she goes to all the best parties!

James starts us off on the right path to aligning ourselves with God’s plan:

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.”

James 3:13

Humbleness and envy cannot exist in the same space.  When we humble ourselves, we acknowledge the One greater than ourselves.  We place ourselves as servants of God.  We give up all success to God.  When we envy someone we think we deserve better than others.  We take personal credit for success.  We have selfish ambition,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”

1 Peter 5:6

I realized I was walking around thinking I knew better than everyone because I could clean up their messes. Because you know those “rose colored glasses” types aren’t paying attention to all that glitter they leave laying around!   I knew without a doubt that my way was the best way.  And here’s a little secret: people don’t like to be around people who think they are lesser.  People don’t like to be constantly corrected or fixed by other faulty human beings.  Go figure.

Lest we think the other three of LaHaye’s temperaments are not without faults he gives us their weaknesses as well.  That Sparky Sanguine?  Restless, undisciplined, egotistical, and emotional.  Seen as the Apostle Peter. The Maestro Melancholy? Self-centered, suspicious, over-sensitive, pessimistic and moody.  Epitomized by Solomon. And my husband’s Flip Phlegmatic? Slow, lazy, provocative, selfish and stubborn.  And yet LaHaye calls out Abraham as a Phlegmatic. Thankfully, my husband only got the stubborn part of that one!

Every single one of us has something about us that can use some Godly tweaking. I know some people have looked at me enviously – “She’s so organized!” “She’s a good leader and can stand up and talk in front of anyone!” “She’s such an amazing problem solver!” There’s a difference between admiration and envy. Envy takes all those statements about me and turns them into something ugly, as though that other person could never attain those same outcomes. I wanted to start admiring people who were sparkly, not envy them.

ad•mi•ra•tion ăd″mə-rā′shən

The state of being viewed with such approval or delight.

en·​vy | \ ˈen-vē  \

Painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage

I don’t want to be envied for anything. I don’t need to envy anyone.  I admire a lot of my friends.  Because funny enough, I’ve surrounded myself with much more compassionate people that I am.   And I’d rather just be admired for my faith in God.  Because that is attainable for everyone.  As for my Big, Fat, Sparkly Life?  God and I are doing a lot of work bringing out my good characteristics and wiping away the bad ones.  I know that only when I give to God those things about me that I’ve worked so hard to perfect over my 55 years will I find success – which to me means finding joy in as many moments as possible. Ya, that kinda sounds like “rose-colored glasses” living but who cares.

What parts of your temperament do you need to give over to God to help remove or refine? To read more about Tim LaHaye’s 4 Spiritual Temperaments click here.

Our Flappy Rudder

I sat there as only one of two women coaches in the room.  There were about 20 of us, coaching girls softball ages 7 to 15.  We had recently finished the fall season where I had told my assistant coach to never step foot on a field where I was coaching.  He constantly undermined my authority, which came to a head one night where he threatened me with physical harm.  Yes, this was kids’ sports at its finest.  So back to this meeting.  We were all there to be confirmed as coaches for the Spring season.  That assistant coach was also present.  He asked to speak before we were voted in by the board.  He went into a tirade about me and how if I were to be confirmed as a coach, he would go to the city parks and recreation board and have our field permit rescinded.  He and the president of the association got into a few aggressive back and forths.  I, however, spoke not a word.

He finally sat down.  A vote was taken and I was still a coach.  Afterwards, a number of the other male coaches came up to congratulate me – for being so brave and not getting into a yelling match.  They were very impressed.  I was escorted to my car where I sat for a minute and finally took what seemed like was my first breath after the hours long meeting.  I hadn’t spoken because I could barely even breathe.  I had been so scared I couldn’t speak.  I didn’t know it then but God was protecting me.  He knew had I spoken up among all those men, my “hero” status would’ve instead turned in to “shrill siren.”  By keeping my mouth shut I accomplished so much more.

“The tongue is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

James 3:5

How many times have we looked back at a conversation or disagreement and thought, “if I had just kept my darn mouth shut, I wouldn’t be in this situation?”  I don’t know about you but I don’t have enough digits to keep track.  While others may struggle with not knowing what to say, others of us say too much.  

“Set a guard, Oh Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

PS 141:3

This needs to be tattooed on all our foreheads so that when we are talking (or yelling) to each other we can “get” the message.   I read recently the concept that words are just the outward expression of our hearts and minds.  When you see someone screaming in a police officer’s face these days, I think how shriveled their hearts must be.  They are literally out of their minds spewing hatred to another person.  When we have a false sense of righteousness, not true righteousness from the Truth of God’s Word, we get into areas of entitlement, judgement, self-worth, and envy.  

Our words matter and we shouldn’t use them to just fill up space or hurt people or say things to make us feel better.  I once worked with a man to whom silence was a way of life.  It made me very uncomfortable; my youthful self always needed to fill that void.  A topic or question would be thrown out and he would go silent.  Meanwhile, I’m across the table babbling away.  I definitely did not have spiritual maturity at the time.  Through life experiences and a pursuit of God’s wisdom I am learning to enjoy a bit of silence.  A bit.  As a parent, I struggled with this powerful tool.  As my kids got older, I realized silence could sometimes be scarier than a mom yelling on and on.  And when I yelled, filling that void, I said hurtful things.  Things that I can never take back.  

“With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

James 3:9

That last part needs repeating – when we are cursing others, we are cursing people WHO HAVE BEEN MADE IN GOD’S LIKENESS.  And when we yell, scream, say hurtful things we do so with lack of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  But if we are faithful over small things – like our tongue – and use them to bless others then God has promised to make us rulers over bigger things.  If we can’t stop corrupting our whole body — hardening our hearts and going out of our minds– because we can’t control that little flappy part in our mouth, then why should God give us more?

I heard a pastor give a challenge the other day called “What If?”  It goes like this:

  1. What if we decided to stop cursing, right now, forever?
  2. What if we decided to never say another negative thing?
  3. What if we decided here and now to never complain?

I bet a whole lot of people around us would be blessed.  But that all sounds sooooo difficult!  Not when you have God by your side.  Not when we walk in the steps He wants for us.  Not when we decide to live the life He calls us to.  Yes, we will be tempted.  Yes, there will be trials and tests.  Because without those how do we know we are victorious?

“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”

1 Cor 2:13

In other words, when we live in God’s world, accept and practice His teaching, and turn to Him for guidance and prayer, it will be His Words spoken when we face trials and temptation.  Or maybe, no words at all.  We have the mind of Christ inside us.  We need to stop pushing Him aside and let Him rule that little, flappy rudder in our mouth.  And only then will be sent on the right journey He has called us to.