Wednesday, July 25, 2007

James, Chapter 1

I want to begin this new venture with an announcement, and that is that this blog is not about me. My past adventures into the world of writing have been centered on how I can advance myself and improve what I put down on paper, or in this case, in a computer, so I can further my career. That is not my intent in this case. While I know and accept this will help me become a better writer, because much like a knife against stone proper honing will always sharpen an edge, it is certainly not my intent in writing here.

I am only writing here in this new venture, because I feel strongly led to do so. Jesus told us in the book of Matthew to go forth and make disciples among nations. While I don't believe I will change the world with the words I write for this limited audience, I do believe that if I reach one person with what I have to say it will be more than worth the effort. All the glory taking from this blog, therefore, cannot be directed at me, but at Christ. He is the one that grants me strength each day to move on even when I don't want to. He is the one that has brought me to this place and put me in a position to talk about His life and the Word of His Father that is the Bible. It is He that I pray right now will work through this blog and the words contained it to work wonders. I am just the vessel, and the method by which the message goes out. It is up to Christ to give it strength and make it work.

I'll try to talk about a chapter per entry, and hopefully be able to write at least a little bit each day. Please bear with me since this is all in its early stages. I don't know exactly how this is all going to work out, but I trust that God will find a use for it. Without further ado, let's begin!

Lately I have been fascinated by the book of James. It's a fairly short book, being just five chapters and sitting just after Hebrews in the New Testament, but when I read it for the first time earlier this summer I was amazed at how powerful the book was. Since then I have re-read it twice more at a leisurely pace and I continue to be blown away by it. Perhaps I relate to it because much of what is in the book talks about practical ways to live life as a Christian. More importantly, it talks about how we can believe in Christ, yet still live our lives the wrong way. The first chapter is very straightforward in verse 22 as to what we must do.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." – James 1:22-24 NIV

It is not enough that we read the Bible and attend church, throwing our money into the collection plate for peace of mind. We have to actually do what the Word says! Now I know the bible says we have to do some pretty obscure stuff. Take a look at the book of Leviticus some time. They don't exactly carry turtle doves at the local grocery store in order to make atonement for sins. It's important to keep in mind that this is part of the Old Testament.

There is a major difference between both testaments. I tend to see the Old Testament as more of a historical record, and how the old system of laws did not work. This is all stage-setting for the New Testament, where Christ made all the old laws obsolete and showed that it was all about Him. Many of the basic principles remain the same across both sides, but the New Testament gives us a focus in Christ's life.

Most of the rest of the first chapter of James talks about facing temptation and gaining strength from it while doing what the word says. The first half of the chapter shows how we can gain strength from facing temptation in one of my favorite verses in all the Bible.

"Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." – James 1:4 NIV

We face many challenges in our lives. Shoot, the last two and a half years of my life have felt long one long, never ending challenge at times. It is how we respond to those challenges that shape who we are. A prime example is a recent work assignment that I have had. It has been a struggle to find regular work since I got married and moved, but this week I was asked to cover some livestock shows for a county fair by a paper I had never even worked for. The shows themselves are boring as all get out, and I am only covering them because I need the work at the moment. I have then been faced with two choices: I could sit and complain about my assignment, gritting through it just to do it, or I could use it as an excuse to branch out and improve my writing. Instead of viewing it as hte low point of my journalistic career, I have used it as a springboard. The three articles I have written so far about boring livestock shows have been some of the best work I have ever created. I know they are not going to end up on the front page of the New York Times, but the development in my writing and the perseverance that Christ is instilling in me is letting me take a small step forward.

And taking small steps forward is what we must do each day.


  1. What does it mean to you to follow what the Word says?
  2. How have you learned from perseverance in the face of trial and temptation in the past?
  3. What does the first chapter of the book of James say to you?

1 comment:

Melora said...

You write very well.