Titus Email December 2017

Volume 11, Number 12 – DECEMBER, 2017

Greetings. We have reached another Christmas season. I want to extend a special wish and greeting to your families and you – May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas. It is a special time of the year as many more people focus at least somewhat on Jesus. It is a time where families and friends make more of an attempt to connect. Our lives can pass before us so quickly that we miss connecting with the people who bless and encourage us the most. Enjoy the season. Mike


In the book of James, we are challenged with our speech. Throughout James wisdom is interspersed on dealing with our language. In chapter 3:1-12, a lengthy discussion details how lethal our tongues can be. From the first verse, we are told that many of us should not desire to become teachers in the church because we will be judged more strictly. In contrast, from 1 Timothy 3:2, a church leader should be able to teach according to the qualifications listed in that chapter.

What we need to be aware of is there is a greater accountability before God for what we teach. We will more strictly be judged because the more we say the more likely we can say something that will cause not only us but others to stumble and make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes but a teacher’s mistakes can have more destructive consequences.

Our concept of God comes across in what and how we teach about Him. If our view of God and Jesus is that of a policeman, in that, as soon as we sin, God is going to get us. You look over your shoulder waiting to get hit with His billy club or baton. The opposite view is God is like a cosmic Santa Claus where if we are good, God will give us what is on our list and if we are bad (sinning), we will not receive anything. Whatever view a teacher has, that will be transferred to one’s students in what is being taught. Make sure we have the correct concepts of God and the Bible, making sure what we say we believe, we truly do believe.

Being aware of our cultural bias is important also because that affects our teaching. Our background (race, tribe, family upbringing, birth order), experiences, poverty or affluence, level of Bible understanding and training, age, single or married and other factors all play into our bias. One’s bias is not right or wrong. It makes us who we are. If we develop the concept of ethnocentric – having or based on the idea that your own group or culture is better or more important than others – that affects how you teach also.

When teaching, we often use illustrations of people and involve them to make our points. How we talk about people has consequences to include slander. We may think slander to be not talking bad or ill of someone. Author and speaker Chip Ingram takes the definition deeper. He states that anytime we speak about another person and are not building that person up, we slander the person. If we cause the hearer(s) of our conversation to think less of the person with whom we are speaking about, that is slander toward that person. Would that affect your teaching and conversations about people?

When James exhorts us to control our tongues, there is a great deal packed into that statement. This does not mean no one should teach but this responsibility should be taken with great seriousness. If we are able to control what we say, that impacts all areas of our lives. Controlling what comes out of our mouths takes work because it begins with our minds. What we think will come out in our words. Make sure you are diligently spending time in the Bible and obeying what you are reading and learning. Earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit takes control of our minds, resulting in uplifting, quality speech.


Your concept of how you view God impacts your relationship with Him and with others. The Jews had a particular view of Jesus, that He would lead them to victory over the Romans as Jesus talked about ushering His Kingdom. Even the apostles struggled with the concept of a heavenly kingdom versus an earthly one.

Your experiences, church or lack of church upbringing, Bible teaching and whether you have dealt with hardships or life being fairly easy helps to formulate who you see God as. As you recall Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, needed a dream from heaven (Matthew 1:18-25), to change his mind about Mary being pregnant. How could God work in such a way because God had never worked that way before.

You may have had a close family member or friend die. Before the person died, you fervently prayed for God to heal him or her. Yet that person died. Now what? Is God unfair, not interested in your prayers and you were asking on the behalf of the dead person; you were not even asking for something you wanted. Or did you?

Growing up you may have had a teacher, pastor or parent teach you that if you do something wrong, God will deal with you, kind of like a policeman in the sky. To think of God as loving is difficult for you because all you expect of Him is to be a disciplinarian. Perhaps He is viewed as if you have material wealth, God is blessing you and if you do not have much in such wealth, He is not blessing you. Or if you have a physical defect or an emotional problem, God is cursing you.

We cannot in a short amount of time help anyone to truly understand who God is. In reality, we never stop learning about Him. God is just, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, in control of everything, everywhere, loving, merciful, grace giving, forever, totally wise, good, three persons in One, and truly someone we cannot wrap our mind around.

Though He is the most powerful and mightiest of anyone to ever exist, He came to earth through His Son, Jesus, born to a single teenager who simply said she would serve God however He chose (Luke 1:38). In the most humble of settings, the King of Kings was born so that He would die for not one sin He ever committed because of His love, grace and mercy for every person who has ever lived or will live. God is totally without sin and so as holy, perfect and pure as there has ever been but His love for you and me sent His Son to die and then completely, bodily rise from the dead so that you and I may spend eternity with Him.

If that does not blow your mind, you are one to be pitied. In an analogy you stole money from a store owner, who is God and were caught. You deserve to not only to pay back the money but spend the rest of your life in prison. The judge who is also God, says you are guilty of the crime and deserves such punishment. But His love compels Him to take your place by paying the fine and prison time, so that you can go free and have no blemish on your record. Multiply that by the thousands and that is what God has done for you. The only thing you have to do is agree to allow God, in this case, Jesus to pay the fine and go to prison for you.

God cares for us so much He sent His Holy Spirit to help us develop once we receive that gift of not going to prison for eternity and His Word, the Bible to get to know Him better as long as we have on earth. All of his attributes and nature are wrapped in the Bible. Ask God and the Holy Spirit to reveal the true God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to you, helping you cast aside the untrue things you think of God; and replace those thoughts with His Truth of His Nature. If you teach the Bible, seek to truly know that True God and be able to teach Him as such. That is a heavy responsibility.


An Eight-Fold Test to Tame the Tongue Because our words are only a reflection of the “abundance of the heart” (Luke 6:45), it is essential that we bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). In Philippians 4:8, we are given a vital checklist to evaluate each of our thoughts:


1. TRUE (accurate) Will it give an accurate impression?
2. HONEST (honorable) Should it be initiated by others?
3. JUST (proper) Is it appropriate to say at this time?
4. PURE (uncontaminated) Is it motivated by pride or selfishness?
5. LOVELY (pleasant) Will it brighten the lives of all who hear it?
6. GOOD REPORT (esteem) Will it damage anyone’s reputation?
7. VIRTUE (moral excellence) Will it motivate others to Godly living?
8. PRAISE (praiseworthy) Will it edify all who hear it?

“Think on these things. . .and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9

The Tongue – Recently newspapers, radio and TV carried the tragic but comic story of a man who was determined to finally get rid of a troublesome mouse. The man threw the stunned mouse on a pile of leaves he was burning. The mouse caught fire and ran back into the house. Lucian Mares watched helplessly as the mouse caused his entire house to go up in flames. The apostle James was certainly right when he talked about the tongue and described it as a fire. Even a small flame can cause a great fiery destruction (James 3:5-6).