Monthly Archives: February 2014

Rubber bands, the Tongue and Hope for Change

blue rubber bandI have a new accessory for my wrist.  But, it’s not what you think.

It has nothing to do with being trendy or fashionable.  It has everything to do with wanting to follow the Scriptures more fully in my everyday life.

This past weekend The Portico Church studied the third chapter of the Letter of James with its description of our speech.  (If you missed the gathering, check out the podcast here): http://www.theportico.com/media.php?pageID=6&view=mobile

We learned that, according to Jesus, our words flow from what fills our hearts.  Words are no longer “just words” they are the revelation of who we really are.

This is a sober and humbling thought when you continue to see how James describes the human condition and the tongue.  Full of restless evil.  Set on fire by hell.  Capable of grave destruction.  Untamable.

The Blue Rubber Band on my right wrist reminds me to do what James said no one can do: “Tame the Tongue.”  Each time I see that thin blue band hanging around my wrist or feel that unnatural sensation against my skin, I am reminded to be watchful of my words.  While I don’t claim to do what no human before me has done (save One Man), I am hoping to “train my tongue.”  My hope is that through this simple and intentional act, I might understand my own Heart better and thus my words.  I hope to discipline myself from talking so much –  about so many things that don’t matter.  And I am aiming to train my tongue to do what it was made to do:

  1. 1.   Encourage: lifting up those around me with positive comments and communicating value to others.
  2. 2.   Give Thanks: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1st Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
  3. 3.   Praise God: Psalm 34:1,I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (AMP)
  4. 4.   Gentle Correction: using my words to speak truth and loving guidance to those with whom I am in community.
  5. 5.   Talk Straight:  Matthew 5:37, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (NIV)
  6. 6.   Listen Better:  I can actually use my mouth to listen better!  Ask open ended questions and show interest in others.

So when you see my Blue Rubber Band, you are welcome to ask me how it’s going.  If you’re really brave, you can join me.  Slip a rubber band around your wrist and watch how the Holy Spirit uses a simple thing to teach you so much.

~Chris Ramsey

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What Difference is it Making?

We are eight weeks into our verse by verse study of the New Testament letter of James, yet it’s the verse from early on that is still ringing in my ears:

“Don’t just listen to the Word; Do what it says!”

James, perhaps more than any other New Testament writing, demands observable reaction to its counsel. It’s not enough to be counted as one who has read it, or heard it. Action and Behavior are required.

So… Portico Church, what difference has your time in James made?

What are you and others noticing about your day-to-day lifestyle? What has changed or matured in you?

Don’t fall prey to the lie that you can “just believe” or be a passive observer in relation to this Letter. Rather courageously proclaim, “I’ll show you my belief by my behaviors”:

*Enduring Trials with Joy knowing they produce Maturity.

*Becoming a Better Listener

*Identifying the loveless and have-nots to care for them

*Eliminating Favoritism through an Economy of Grace

*Behaving in a manor that is in sync with your Beliefs

If you have not benefited from James yet, it’s not too late. Pick up the letter. Read it for yourself.
Memorize it. Talk to someone about it.

As we fall more and more in love with the magnificent Half-Brother of James and experience the full experience of His Mercy, our lives can not help but be different.

Share your story with someone today.

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Can You Scrape a Wall?

Downtown is getting a new mural soon and Monroe Renaissance has asked Portico to lend a hand prepping the mural wall. It needs to be scraped and cleaned this Saturday, beginning at 9am.  All the supplies will be provided, we just need 6-10 folks to help out.  It should take 3-4 hours.
If you’re curious about the mural, its called Finding Home, by local artist Nicholas Bustamante, and features an imaginative Louisiana bayou.
If you can help out, contact Ashley Yeldell at ashley.m.yeldell@gmail.com or 504-810-8488.
Mural

To Be Seen

I met Jesse at The Mission.  Not many people I knew attended The Mission and honestly, I didn’t go often.  But what I learned while going there didn’t come from the pulpit, it came from the people.  It came from Jesse.  The Mission was a church where most of the people attending didn’t have homes.  The member’s hands and faces were often dirty, their shoes ragged, their clothes tattered.  But if you could take one step past the superficial you could see straight into the heart of the church.  You could hear praise with loud voices.  You could see celebration with cheers and clapping, you could see sorrow with weeping, and you could see surrender on bent knees with arms wide open.  For this body it wasn’t about what was on the outside at all, they were seeking the face of their Father.  Jesse would rather come before Jesus with dirty clothes than with a filthy heart.

 

When I knew Robert he was suffering from cerebral palsy.  Sitting in his wheelchair he had one hand that sometimes worked well enough to press the joystick on the armrest but most of the time he had to be pushed around.  His body continually slouched and his head could not hold steady.  His speech came hard, slow, and difficult to understand but he gave great speeches anyway.  He would tell of missions and other kingdom work.  I remember hearing him say once that he felt far luckier than any of the rest of us.  Why? “Because you can see my disabilities, but I can’t see yours.”

 

Fifteen years later I may be beginning to see what he meant by that.  I believe there is a freedom that comes when your pain is known.  And there is a bondage when it is hidden.  There is a freedom when your disabilities are seen.  There is a weight that crushes life when they are held inside, covered up like a white washed tomb.  Why would I come before God trying to cover up my filth? Why would I just wash my hands before dinner and claim to be wholly clean?

 

So here’s an apology to those who know me.  If you have any respect for me other than the fact that Jesus is my Lord then I am sorry, for I have misled you.  If you have any appreciation for me for any talent I may have, any personality trait I may posses, or anything that looks decent on the surface then I am sorry, for I have misled you.  For surely, compared to the goodness of God even any good thing that is about me is rubbish, filthy rags.  And what is to be said of the selfishness, pride, and fear that reside inside of me, covered up with the perception of goodness?

 

So, if you know me, know me for having nothing to boast in but Jesus.  And if I fool you, shame on me.  For this weight of perfection is too much for me to bear.  I want to live free.  I want to look at you with my disabilities seen and celebrate the wonderful, loving, great big saving grace of God our Father.

 

Jason

Come One Come All, & We Do Mean All

Join us as we celebrate the diversity of America, honoring Black History Month.

At the February Downtown Gallery Crawl The Palace presents the collections of Alden McDonald, president and CEO of Liberty Bank and Trust Company, one of the top three African-American owned financial institutions in the United States. He is nationally recognized as an advocate and catalyst in the movement of minority businesses into the mainstream economy. Throughout his career, McDonald’s focus has been the promotion of entrepreneurship, the support of civic organizations and the empowerment of businesses and individuals. McDonald moved aggressively to lead rebuilding efforts for his bank and the entire New Orleans region after Hurricane Katrina. His extraordinary efforts were recognized and chronicled in the New York Times in 2006. That same year he was named one of Fortune Magazine’s Portraits of Power; and he has been celebrated on numerous occasions in Black Enterprise Magazine where he received the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award.

Alden is also an avid art collector and patron. His collection of African-American Art stands as one of the most prestigious in the nation. The Palace is proud to present a sample of Alden McDonald’s African-American Art collection in honor of Black History Month. His pieces by Frank Frazier, who literally draws from his own memories as a young man in the middle of the civil rights movement, shows the world that if people lock arms or walk the same paths together… real change can happen.

This show reminds us of the simple truth, we are all created in the image of our creator. Alden is an example to all on how community involvement, passion, and art can transform the world around you. His work by Frazier reminds us that telling our own story is a very powerful message for the world to hear.

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Listening and Doing

James…I don’t know about you all, but it’s been kicking my tail the few weeks we’ve been studying it together. It gets right to the core of my motivations and then asks me to do practical things because of what it brings to light.

And then there’s this challenge our pastor issued last week about praying for rain and asking God to break our hearts for what breaks His. That’s a bold prayer. A prayer that calls us to listen to God, His Word, and what His Spirit is saying within us. If I engage in that prayer, much like James, I predict it will also get right to the core of my motivations and then ask me to do things because of what it brings to light.

I find it no coincidence we’ve decided to pray that prayer as a church at the same time we’re walking through such an action and motivation defining book together. They will both get me to a place of real living. A place where I listen to God first, then allow Him to shape my motivations and take action because my heart is after His. I believe James calls that “pure and genuine” religion and it’s where I want to be.

This Sunday, we’re tackling James 1:19-27, verses that wrap all this up together.

If you will, do a couple of things before you join us on Sunday:

1. Read the parable of the Sower and the Seeds at the beginning of Matthew 13. Which soil are you?

2. Much of this section of James hinges on listening to God. Have a conversation with someone about that. Do you hear from Him? Do they? In what ways?

See ya Sunday night…and afterwards we can watch all the Super Bowl commercials we missed together.
– Libby

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