James: Blue Collar Faith

"To activate faith, we must articulate faith."

These words echoed in my head on Sunday morning. We are in the midst of our series on the Book of James. I've spent some time thinking about them, and trying to internalize them so that I might apply them to my life.

James talks a lot about words. He's pretty direct in his teaching that our tongue, or the words that we speak, are powerful. We've all experienced the harsh words of our adolescence. It is amazing how words could build us up, or tear us down so easily. I'm sure if you searched your memory now you could recall a few instances where words hurt you in ways that you still feel today. The ripple effect of words runs far and wide.

I've wanted to write since I was 7-8 years old. It's been the one constant dream in my life, and I am grateful that I get to flex my writing muscles every week in this blog. Words almost prevented me from pursuing my passion. Words also reignited my dream.

Near the end of my 11th grade year, I was floating through high school, barely aware of what was going on around me. I was trying to get though the school year, hangout with my friends, and waiting for summer camp to start so I could come alive again. I was in all honors classes and hoping to stay in the come senior year. I had to get permission from my teachers to continue my race towards high school mediocrity, maintaining a solid B average. When I went to my English teacher to see about going into Honors English my senior year, she told me, "Writing definitely isn't your strong suit, but I'll still sign this."

That sentence ripped through my self-esteem like Freddy Krueger ripping through a water bed. I went through all the stages; denial, anger, and acceptance. Those words stayed in my head for a long time. They made me question everything I thought to be true to myself. This was a professional teacher. She must have known what she was talking about.

Flash forward two years. I'm a freshman in college, taking my basic courses. My English Professor gave us a writing assignment based on a  personal experience. I was determined to not float through college like I did high school. I was eager to finish assignments, read text books, and be a model student. College was my time to shine.

I turned in my assignment. I wrote a story about something that happened to me at camp that summer. She loved it. She told me I had a natural writing ability.

The credibility of my high school teacher flew out the window. I took that professor for as many classes as I could. She not only helped rekindle my love for writing, but helped me improve my writing skills as well.

One teacher spoke death into my life. One spoke life.

James 3:5-6

In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Harsh words from James. But as I think back over my personal history, I see the places where my life took turns based on what people said. Likewise, I see where my words were like thorns digging into a skull.

Blake's words continue to echo in my head.

"To activate faith, we must articulate faith."

If we can hurt or help people with our words, then we can also hurt or help ourselves with our words. If I can look in the mirror and tear myself down, pointing out all my flaws and failures, then I can build myself up too. I can recognize God's goodness in me. I can recognize that the Holy Spirit, God himself, lives inside me.

God, who created the universe, lives in me.

God, who created time and space, lives in you.

How amazing is that? How sad is it that we bottle him up, and stop him from using us to our full potential because of words. What will people say about us if we lived our lives for God? What will people say if I change the choices I make in life and choose to live for him every day? What will people say... (fill in your excuse here)?

Let's start speaking words of life, love, and faith in our own lives. If we can do that it's only a matter of time before we start speaking life, love, and faith into others.

The key is to first change what we put in our hearts.

But enough of my words, checkout the song below.

Come join us, and invite a friend, as we continue in our series on the Book of James. See you Sunday, if not sooner.