Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

Wrapping up what James has to teach us about wisdom <3

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This week on the blog I have been looking at a passage from James and I am concluding it today. Hopefully it is a lesson in itself and you don’t need the other portions, but if you are curious you can check out Tuesday through today’s posts.

I found the passage while I was setting aside some prayer time this week. As I was using a small prayer book I keep by my side of the bed I found a prayer for emotional pain and we certainly are surrounded right now by many who are struggling with just such a dis-ease. As I prayed through the Scriptures-based prayers, I came upon one that deeply touched our current setting.

 It was based on James 3: 13-18. I would like to share the entire passage with you before we begin. Please read “he” as in he or she. We get so touchy about the use of “he” for general application so if you are a she, please change it in your mind as you read. He is talking to ALL of us <3

Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambitions, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.  

James 3: 13-18 CSB

This whole passage just sums up the current state of life in 2020. As I looked up the word “gentleness” or “meekness” in verse 13, I found that this word is not a weak response or a resigned response based on a believer’s knowledge and faith in God’s sovereignty no matter how much is going on that is out of our control or understanding. It is a steadfastness IN the midst of circumstances over which we have no influence or authority. It is not passive acceptance but it does dictate how we respond and I hope we all would agree that from the top down and the down up we could all use some discretion in how we respond these days. 

In the posts this week, I addressed both social media and every day conversations regarding the chaos and upheaval and pain we see around us. I want to be wise in the way I show compassion and in what I support and in what I oppose. This passage tells me if I get my “wisdom” from a worldly source, it will lead to disorder and evil. I want to make sure that what I say and how I take action on issues is not because of pressure from anyone to conform or because I want to be well thought of by any group of humans. 

The wisdom I need cannot come from people, platforms, current moods or any other source that is trying to press opinions on me. They might be spot on and righteous, but I have a standard that I can measure it up against that is solid. 

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This passage in James reminds me that I need to check my own heart first off. I need to prayerfully and scrupulously identify and root out any kind of bitterness, envy (which includes comparison of all kinds) and self-promotion.Most of us want to be liked and considered nice people. We want to look smart and funny and fit in with whoever our peer group happens to be. But if that is the motivation for speaking, posting, commenting; the result will be more disorder, more unrest, more conflict. 

However; if we follow James teaching and measure our responses and positions to godly wisdom, we can go right down the checklist. Your version of doing this will look different at different times and will be different from mine, but here is an example:

Is it pure?

Or is it something I heard someone say that someone else said? Is it pure wisdom or mixed in with other things that I picked up from the news, a popular book or an article someone shared?

Is it peace-loving?

Or am I getting my two cents shot off with a rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins?

Is it gentle?

Did I take the time to prayerfully love the ones I am unloading my opinions onto?

Is it compliant?

Same meaning as meek. Am I weighing how much to invest emotionally based on the steadfast understanding that God is still on HIs throne?

Is it full of mercy?

Am I leaving room to validate the feelings and experiences of those I don’t necessarily agree with?

Is it bearing good fruit?

Is the “wisdom” I am tuning into making me anxious, mean-spirited, fearful, bitter or more kind, loving and gracious and trusting in God rather than man?

Is it unwavering?

Steadfast? Not hot and cold/wishy washy depending on who I am talking to?

Is it without pretense?

Am I following wisdom that makes me look good or wisdom that makes me a better person to represent my Lord and Savior to others? Am I highlighting my own attributes or those of another person or cause instead of the character of my God?

So there you go.

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I see a lot of disorder and evil out there that I have no control or influence over. But I don’t have to be a contributor to it. I can seek godly wisdom and I can use the standards set in this passage to evaluate how I am doing with staying the course. I can support others and I can speak up when things are wrong, but I need to do so with a godly heart. 

God is trying to show us a better way to live. It is a daily walk. May you each be blessed as you seek wisdom in HIs Word and then apply it to your life <3

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James and a bonus soup recipe…just for you <3

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Well I am posting late because I ended up starting a soup and muddled over what to post here while I made up the recipe. I am sitting here eating a small bowl for breakfast and it is delicious. So I am going to pass the way I made it along at the bottom. 

This is not a cooking/food site. This is a “Hey, friend. Thanks for stopping by today” site. But since it is Fall and I love soup and this ended up being easy and yummy…well…that’s what you would hear about if you stopped by here for coffee today. 

You would also get my thoughts on James 3: 14-18 as we continue our little mini-visit to these passages. So before we try to recover how I made the soup (because I was totally winging it), here is the thought for today. 

We talked a bit yesterday about the worldly ‘wisdom’ that we encounter that brings chaos and confusion and evil into our lives. If we jump back to verse 13, James speaks about godly wisdom and how it is characterized by meekness. Rather than being self-seeking or envious, godly wisdom is meek. 

Perhaps you have heard different teachings on what the word “meek” means. I am turning to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (whoosh…that was a lot to type…) and reading about how our modern Western culture does not at all grasp the concept of “meekness” as used in Scriptures written in another time and culture. 

According to this author, Meekness in the Bible was displayed when someone encountered conflict because of circumstances he or she was unable to influence or control. Well, as 21st Century Americans we may not have a grasp of  the true essence of “meekness” but we certainly can relate to encountering conflict because of circumstances we are unable to influence or control. I am all ears, how about you?

“Typical human responses in such circumstances include frustration, bitterness, or anger, but the one who is guided by God’s spirit accepts God’s ability to direct events.”

Samuel A. Meier, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; biblestudytools.com

The author goes on to say that meekness is “an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. Meekness is not a resignation to a fate, a passive and reluctant submission to events, for there is little virtue in such a response.” 

He continues with the explanation that we have, in our culture equated “meekness” with “resignation” because to the untrained eye, they are indistinguishable. I would have to agree. There are those who are exhibiting “meekness” that are being charged by the crowds as being “resigned” to the status quo. 

“The patient and hopeful endurance of undesirable circumstances identifies the person as externally vulnerable and weak, but inwardly resilient and strong. Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up.”

Samuel A. Meier, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; biblestudytools.com

Applying this I would say that we would do well to begin to identify when our responses to situations beyond our control or influence are characterized by frustration, bitterness, or anger.

Now let me be clear here – we will become frustrated, bitter and angry when things that are going on are outside our control. But instead of acting on the emotion of that, we can “tame” the emotion by letting it lead us to the actual truth of the situation that is getting us riled up. 

In prayer and in seeking God’s heart and mind regarding the issue, we can begin to build up a hopeful endurance and hear more clearly OUR ROLE in this. Some will be called to speak up, some will be called to act, some will be called to enter into the debate in a way that helps bring change and some will be driven to their prayer closet to wait with patience for God to move in the situation through the people He has assigned.

Ok.

These are my thoughts. Ponder the Scripture. Quiet your heart. What is God speaking to YOU? That’s the only thing you need to deal with right now. Don’t let the world tell you how to respond to anything. Seek God first and foremost. 

Now for that soup recipe:

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I knew I had read a recipe that used squash, cheese tortellini and sausage. When I tired to find it, I found several that used one of more ingredient so I just took the gist of all of them and made up my own. 

Fall Soup by Lola 

1 bag organic cubed butternut squash steamed in microwave

1 package of ground sausage (I used the kind from the butcher and it didn’t have much seasoning so I added a sprinkle of Italian herbs while browning) browned and drained 

Half a bag of frozen cheese tortellini boiled til they floated

Dump the steamed squash into food processor you requested for your birthday and have never used. Pulse a few times. Slowly add the last remnants of half and half in fridge (about 1/2 a cup) and pulse. 

Slowly add one can of evaporated milk (I apparently didn’t shake it super well because there was gunk in the bottom of can that I didn’t use) and process at low speed until smooth. 

Drain the sausage and tortellini. Add squash puree, tortellini, sausage and about a cup of frozen spinach leaves to a stock pot and warm. Add pepper and thyme to taste. 

Eat for breakfast. 

Delicious <3

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As promised…James revisited <3

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Well, I promised you we would camp on James 3: 17-18 today and I have run myself out of time!

Maybe it is better this way, because I don’t want to tap dance around the topic this passage stirred in me. Have you noticed most of the messages we read in Scripture are succinct and to the point? Paul didn’t use a lot of flowery words and James certainly doesn’t. 

So here it is today: short and maybe not “sweet” but true. 

Most of the thoughts I am sharing center on the role of social media because right now that is the way most of us are getting information and connection and community. But they can be applied in non social media settings as well. Before Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter, we had magazines and talk shows and meet ups out there in our circles that gave us fodder for comparison. The internet has just ramped it up. 

We have inside of us a desire to be our best and when we run into someone who seems to be doing whatever matters most to us better than us, we encounter what James is addressing here.

Whether it was back in my early parenting days when everyone seemed to pull off better birthday parties than I did or now when I scroll past smiling faces gathered around a holiday table that doesn’t involve Kraft macaroni and cheese as a main dish, the comparison game kicks in and I am either ahead or behind…all. the. time.

When I am behind, I am beating myself up and when I am ahead, I am bloated with pride. 

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. 

James is trying to help us see that where we may have gone out to seek community, when we let what others have, look like, or do become our focus; we lose sight of what God has for US. When we question why we aren’t this way or that way, we are actually questioning God’s provision and God’s purpose over us. Confusion sets in as we scramble to make our lives look like someone else’s. 

On the flip side, when we enter into a room or a post or any setting and are looking for what we can get out of it (even if it is just to feel better about how we are doing), this too is a set up for confusion. In our inflated opinion of how much our efforts are above others, even if just slightly edging them out; we again have entered into a state of self-seeking…and having lost sight of seeking God…we will spiral into a different kind of elitist confusion. 

So there it is…the quick version of my thoughts. I have found during Covid that I use social media more than I did before. I miss my friends and I miss the normalcy of what life used to look like for me. It has opened the door for me to connect with friends I have not been able to see and expand friendships that because of our obligations and season I just don’t see anymore. 

And that is a good thing. But when I am scrolling and I begin to sense jealousy…or disdain …. or any thing that is falling under the categories (no matter how deceptively disguised these emotions can be) listed by James as envy or self-seeking…it is time to put the phone down for the rest of the day and begin seeking God. 

Hope you will come tomorrow. I promise to not step on your toes anymore as we wrap this up. By the way…mine are hurting pretty badly with this little post today.

Love and hugs to you my friends. You are precious <3

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