Thursday, February 26, 2009

It Only Takes A Spark

Our words are so powerful. We can use them to lift someone up or tear someone down. We can use them to make a situation worse or make it better. Our words affect people and can change situations. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 ‘the tongue has the power of life and death”.
Once I was reading James 3:5-6, “ Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, set the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” The thought struck me, ‘I only get in trouble for the things I say, not the things I don’t say. Don’t say everything.’
It occurred to me that we do not need to say everything that pops into our heads, no matter how funny, sarcastic, witty or even truthful it is. There are times when we do not need to say anything. There are also times when what we are thinking is the exact wrong thing to say.
Recently, some of those words escaped from my mouth. I knew it as soon as they flew out, but I chose to pretend it had not happened. Maybe the person had not heard me or would forget what I had said. No such luck. A month later, she told someone else what I had said and my words came back sounding much worse now that they were out in public and being repeated.
That same day my mouth starting feeling like it was burning. My lips had been dry and cracking the day before. Now my lips, tongue and mouth all felt itchy and like they were on fire, just like the verse in James. I immediately went to my dentist, who sent me to the doctor, who said I had a mouth infection. Even though there was a physical explanation for it, I knew in my heart it was a spiritual reminder of what I had said. The medication he gave me involved sucking on lozenges all day long, which of course forced me to keep my mouth shut all day.
I apologized to two people who had heard my words, but I was not able to apologize to everyone who had heard. It reminded me a wildfire spreading from a spark. For three weeks my mouth infection was a physical reminder of how our words can be like fire.
Like the verse in Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Let’s help each other to be careful with what we say and to remember that we don’t have to say everything.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spiritual Detox

I'm not sure why I did it. It was one of those "out-of-the-box" experiences, for sure. I spent a week at a health center in California, for an "extreme detox". It was supposed to be a mind, body, spirit cleansing. The spiritual part was not what I considered spiritual. There was no mention of Jesus or God the Father.
As I was eating only raw vegetables and fruit, and flushing all the bad toxins out of my body, it made me wonder what a true spiritual detox would look like. At the health center we focused on filling our body and mind with things that were healthy and beneficial. At the same time, letting go or releasing things that were bad for our body and mind, or no longer served a good purpose.
For a spiritual detox I can imagine letting go of things that do not serve to bring us closer to the Lord. There are magazines, music, TV shows, movies and web sites that certainly do not honor God and don't serve a beneficial purpose for us spiritually. On the other hand, there are healthy things we can add to enhance our relationship with the Lord. We can spend more time in prayer, reading the Bible, joining a Bible study group and listening to praise music.
But is that it? Bad stuff out and good stuff in? No, the health center detox was more than that. With a good detox there was a peace that was experienced. There were five P's to the health program: purpose, positive mental attitude, persistence, patience and prayer.
To spiritually detox the purpose would be to grow closer to the Lord. To keep a positive mental attitude, we need to ask God's forgiveness when we mess up instead of carrying our guilt around. We also need to view ourselves as God views us, as a child of the King, a princess, not whatever negative label we have chosen. We need to be persistant with our Bible study and ask the Lord to help us understand the parts that are difficult.
We need to be patient with others and ourselves. We are all at different places on our spiritual journey. Usually, we need to just take the next step on our path. Of course, spiritual detox would not be complete without prayer, talking to the Father. Ask Him to fill us with His love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.
I feel better already. How about you?