17/2/02 10.30 a.m. Family Service : James 3:3-12
Introductory talk accompanied by Acetate images of the recent bush fires and devastation in Australia. Then read this report...
SYDNEY, Australia : As blazes burned wildly around Australia's largest city for a 10th straight day and thousands fled their homes, police discovered the remains of what might have been two homemade bombs used by arsonists to set tinder-dry forests afire. Senior deputy Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said one of the devices found was "capable of being ignited and causing substantial damage,'' national news agency Australian Associated Press, reported.
Hot, dry and swirling winds fanned more than 100 bush fires out of control near Sydney and in its suburbs. Smoke clouds towered above the city of 4 million people.
New South Wales state Premier Bob Carr vowed to punish those ``driven by madness and wickedness'' to start fires.At least half of the wildfires have been deliberately lit since the crisis started Christmas Eve.
New penalties are to be introduced to try to stop children starting fires deliberately.
Of the 24 people who've been arrested in connection with the fires, 15 are under the age of 16.
While adult offenders would face prison terms of up to 14 years, young firebugs would be made to confront burns victims and families who lost homes. They would work on rehabilitation projects for scorched forests. They will also be forced to help victims pay for the damage.
State premier Bob Carr hopes it will be a traumatic experience that will persuade children to change their ways.
He said: "Our goal is to take these young people by the scruff of the neck and rub their noses in the ashes that their behaviour has generated."
So far, the fires have killed thousands of animals and caused millions of pounds of damage. Some of the children are thought to have started the fires deliberately because they were bored in their summer holidays.
Some residents had reported hearing an explosion just before the fire broke out Tuesday and triggered two days of havoc across Sydney's affluent northern suburbs.
As the danger rose, more than 2,000 residents were ordered to flee Sussex Inlet, 60 miles south of Sydney, before at least eight houses were burned in a firestorm that jumped a highway. That brought to almost 160 the number of homes lost since the ``black Christmas'' wildfire emergency began.
An English nobleman once visited Josiah Wedgwood to see how he made his legendary china and pottery. A young apprentice was instructed to give the nobleman a tour of the factory. The nobleman did not believe in God and was blasphemous, foul-mouthed, and consistently ridiculed the Bible during the tour. At first the young apprentice was shocked but after a while he began to laugh when the man made his cynical remarks.
Josiah Wedgwood was greatly disturbed by this, especially when he saw how his young apprentice was being influenced by this wealthy nobleman. Later the atheist asked if he could purchase a particularly expensive vase. As he handed it to the nobleman, Wedgwood deliberately let it crash to the floor. With a vile oath the nobleman angrily said, "That is the one I really wanted and now it is shattered by your carelessness." Wedgwood replied, "Sir, there are things more precious than any vase - things that can never be restored once they are ruined. I can make another vase, but you can never give back to my helper the pure heart you have defiled by your vile language and sacrilegious talk!"
Verse 6 tells us that the tongue is a fire. We saw earlier how some of the recent bush fires in Australia were started deliberately, although some may have been spread carelessly.
We need to watch what we say because it may result in widespread devastation that we cannot envisage if we carelessly or deliberately say something that is damaging.
There is a very old saying that " Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. " If you think about this saying very carefully you may decide that it is not true after all. Words can hurt you and make you feel very sad indeed. They often do a lot of harm as we will see in this story...
A boy with a troubled conscience went to his teacher for advice. He said that he had told a nasty story about a friend, only to find out the story was not true. "If you want to make peace with your conscience," said the teacher, "you must take an old pillowcase filled with feathers, go to the front door of every home in the village, and leave at each of them one fluffy feather." The boy did as he was told. Then he returned to the teacher and announced he had done the punishment for his foolishness.
"Not yet," replied the teacher, "Take the empty pillowcase, walk round and gather up every feather that you have dropped." "But the wind will have blown them all over the place," said the boy. He spent a lot of time and effort trying to get back all of the feathers, but failed. Words can be easily spoken, but no matter how hard you try, you can never get them back again. Sometimes we say things and they don't come out as we intended. A small boy was going home after his friends birthday party. He said to his friends mother, 'Thank you for having me. This is the nicest party I've ever been to.' Touched by the young boy's sincerity, the mother said, 'Well, thank you my dear. How kind of you to say so.' ' Oh, but I always say that!'
I suppose most of us have, at one time or another, said something that could be taken the wrong way. Just like the fires in Australia the effects of the tongue can be devastating. The tongue can not only harm other people, it can harm us, corrupting our whole being.
3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Just like a rudder on a ship or a bit in a horses mouth the tongue can lead people into trouble. For example, someone may tell a lie to cover something up, then need to tell another lie because of the first lie, and before they know it, lying has become a habit. The norm.
Aesop was slave in Ancient Greece. He was a wise and clever man. There is a story
that one day his Queen asked him to prepare a meal for her...
Queen: Aesop come here my good man. Now I want you to prepare a grand meal of all the
most beautiful things that you can imagine. You may use as much of my money as you
Aesop: Very well my Queen. I shall visit the local market place and view the food on display there. The servants can set the table and put some flowers and drink on it while I am doing this.
After a few hours the court servants had prepared the Queen's banquet table. They hurried and scurried to ensure all was perfect. When the table was set the Queen sat at it ... but !
Queen: What is this Aesop? Why on earth is my dining table only full of TONGUE and nothing else? Four or five courses of tongue cooked in this way, and in that way. You had better have a jolly good explanation or else.
Aesop: I can explain your majesty. I did it because tongues are responsible for many beautiful, kind and pleasing words that make many people happy, and words and songs that praise and worship God.
Queen: Now I see Aesop. How clever of you and witty too. Now please clear my dining table and tomorrow prepare me a meal of all the bad things that you can imagine. You can still use as much money as you need. Be off and let's see what you can create this time.
Aesop followed his Queens instruction. The next day as the Queen sat down at her table her face went as red as a beetroot.
Queen: Is this some kind of a silly joke Aesop? For if it is, you will pay dearly with your life. My table is full of tongue, tongue and more tongue yet again!! You had better have a good explanation. I am not amused at all.
Aesop: My Queen it is no joke! I did it because not only are tongues responsible for good things, they can also utter bad words, unkind thoughts, slander, blasphemy and lies and so be a great source of unhappiness and sadness.
Queen: What a clever fellow you are. I am sorry for using such harsh words to you and will remember your clever lesson.
What we say flows from what we are. Jesus said to the Pharisees ( Matthew 12 ) 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Our words show whether or not our faith is real, and we will be judged in the light of how our faith affects our lives.
But how can we control the tongue ? Chapter 4 tells us. 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
We are to be humble and submit to God. If we have sinned we are to turn back to him. He will then give us the grace that we need to follow his ways.
Last year I did a school assembly on Proverbs 12 : 18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Before we say anything we should remember this verse and ask two questions ?
Is it true ? and, Is it helpful ?
Suggested songs : Make me a channel of your peace; O for a thousand tongues
Play 1: Watch Your Tongue
Nar 2: There is a very old saying that " Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. " If you think about this saying very carefully you may decide that it is not true after all. Words can hurt you and make you feel very sad indeed. They frequently do a lot of harm.
Nar 3: Many years ago there was a girl called Tina Talkalot. She lived in a little village called Dovedale. Now Tina was in the habit of saying really nasty things about others and gave no thoughts to their feelings. Let's visit Dovedale and see what she is up to.
Vicky: Hello Tina I haven't seen you round here for a while.
Tina: No, I have been shopping for some new clothes in the Kaminski Shopping Mall. I went to Porothy Derkins and bought a lovely new pair of trousers, do you like them?
Vicky: Oh yes they are nice they suit you so well you look like a super star.
Tina: Well of course they suit me; they look better on my legs than they do on your skinny
ones. Oh well must be going.
Vicky: Oh how dare you Tina Talkalot how cruel! (Tina walks away and bumps into Colin with his arm in a sling.)
Colin: Hi Tina. Haven't seen you for a while how are things going then?
Tina: Well by the looks of you, things are going better for me. What happened to your arm
Colin: Oh, I was playing tiddly winks and I fell of my chair and broke my arm.
Tina: Well you shouldn't be so clumsy. I'm the best player in our school squad and never fall off chairs. Goodbye Mr Clumsy head ha ha!! (Colin walks away looking very sad!)
Nar 4: One day the wise old woman of the village named Marjorie Droops summoned Tina to talk to her about the harm she had done by using cruel words and telling mis truths.
Marjorie: Tina Talkalot come here you nasty young lady. I want to have a little talk about all
the horrible things you have been saying to the good people of this village. I have just had
Vicky in tears on her mobile phone. She's crying so much that she has made the phone go
rusty. Now what is going on then?
Tina: Er excuse me, are you talking about moi? I think you must have the wrong good-looking girl. I think you want to be seeing Mrs Rolly Polly at No 56, Beastfield Road. Do you know she's just had double-glazing installed and hasn't paid the bill yet, disgusting.
Marjorie: Stop that at once, there you go again gossiping and telling fibs. What am I going to do with you?
Tina: Well, anyway. It might be true, I've done nothing wrong as far as I can see.
Marjorie: Well you can't see much further than your big fat nose!! You chatterbox. Now I want you to make up for your nasty gossip and I want you to place a crisp packet on every doorstep in this village of ours.
Tina: A crisp packet on every doorstep? Are you bonkers or just a bit ga ga? Oh well anything to keep you happy. Er, have you got some crisp packets then? I can't say I keep them down my new trousers they would itch my legs, which are so wonderful and as beautiful as Naomi Campbell's.
Marjorie: Oh you are conceited, and rude. Here take these and do as I say. Be off with you.
Nar 5: Tina did as she was told. She placed a crisp packet on each and every doorstep. That night a strong wind blew through the roads and streets of Dovedale causing the crisp packets to fly all over the place. (Sound effects- children can spin around taking packets all over the place!!)
Nar 6: The next day Tina met up with Marjorie. Tina was amazed at what the wise old woman asked her to do next.
Marjorie: Well good morning Tina. Now do you remember all those crisp packets you placed out last night (Tina nods)? Now I want you to gather all of them up and bring them to me so that we can cut out the schoolbook voucher tokens.
Tina: But I can't, a strong wind blew them all over the place and they are scattered for miles. It's just an impossible job. Not even Mr Matteson the village waste disposal officer could do that.
Marjorie: Scattered everywhere are they? I thought as much. Did you know that the same
thing happens with the words you speak? If you say something nasty and horrible about
someone, those words spread and become rumours. They can then hurt that person even
more. Now use your words with great care from now on young lady. Oh and as an extra
punishment you can cut out the all the book voucher tokens and give them to Mrs Hooper the village school Headmistress.
Nar 7: Due to this clever trick TinaTalkalot, with the uncontrollable tongue saw what harm her idle words could do. From that day on she decided to think hard before she spoke to anyone. We hope that you never become a TINA TALKALOT!!
Play 2 "Aesops Food for Thought"
We all use our tongues to speak. Many butchers sell a type of cold meat called tongue. This story, which is about Aesop who is famous for his Fables, is concerned with tongue.
Aesop was slave in Ancient Greece. He was a wise and clever man. There is a story
that one day his Queen asked him to prepare a meal of all the most beautiful things he could imagine.
Queen: Aesop come here my good man. Now I want you to prepare a grand meal of all the
most beautiful things that you can imagine. You may use as much of my gold coins as you
Aesop: Very well my Queen. I shall visit the local market place and view the food on display there. The servants can set the table and put some flowers an drink on while I am doing this.
After a few hours the court servants had prepared the Queen's banquet table. They hurried and scurried to ensure all was perfect. When the table was set the Queen sat at it ... however!
Queen: What is this Aesop? Why on earth is my dining table only full of TONGUE and nothing else? You had better have a jolly good explanation or else.
Aesop: I can explain your majesty. I did it because tongues are responsible for many beautiful, kind and pleasing words that make many people happy.
Queen: Now I see Aesop, how clever of you and witty too. Now please clear my dining table and this time prepare me a meal of all the bad things that you can imagine. You can still use my gold coins. Be off and let's see what you can create this time.
Aesop followed his Queens instruction. When the time came for the second meal and the Queen sat down at her table, her face went as red as a beetroot.
Queen: Is this some kind of a silly joke Aesop? For if it is, you will pay dearly with your life. My plate is full of TONGUE AGAIN!! You had better have a good explanation. I am not amused at all.
Aesop: My Queen it is no joke! I did it because not only are tongues responsible for kind words and happiness, they can also utter bad words, unkind thoughts and lies and so be a great source of unhappiness and sadness.
Queen: What a clever fellow you are. I apologise for using harsh words towards you and will remember your clever lesson.
During WWII soldiers were warned not to speak freely back home about what was going on in the war. An official Army memo contained ten specific things soldiers needed to be careful talking about. These words were added at the end of the memo: "loose talk is direct delivery to the enemy. If you come home during war your lips must remain sealed and your written hand must be guided by self-imposed censorship. This takes guts. Have you got them or do you want your buddies and your country to pay the price for your showing off? You've faced the battle front; its little enough to ask you to face this 'home front.'" Remember Loose Lips Might Sink Ships!"
Intro: Have you ever said anything you later regretted? I wished I had 10 bucks for every time I said something that I shouldn't have in my life. As we think about saything the wrong things let me share with you a couple of things NOT to say to a police officer. 1). Sorry, officer, I didn't realize my radar director wasn't plugged in! 2). Hey, you must've been doing about 125 MPH to keep us with me. Good job! 3). You're not gonna check the trunk are you? 4). Gee officer! That's terrific. The officer who stopped me 2 miles back gave me a warning, too! Here are some things you should never say once without thinking twice: 1). It's no trouble at all. 2). I love dogs. 3). We have plenty of room. 4).Call me any time. 5). Is there anything I can do? 6). My husband is a doctor. 7). I'll try anything once. 8). Of course, bring the kids. 9). Why don't you stay for dinner. 10). If worse comes to worst you can use mine!