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As I reflected on these words after I returned home from yesterday’s Elders Meeting, where Alex led the Elders in a team building exercise to help us reflect on our call to be a missional church, my thoughts went immediately to the scripture that Alex asked us to reflect on from the Letter of James.

In this letter we find the words: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James ff).

He took his disciples up on the mountain so he could teach them about God’s realm in peace and quiet.

As you remember, he began with the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in Spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who are meek or are merciful, and so on.

You see that builder very wisely built the hotel on solid bedrock.

This was a very “firm foundation.” The wise builder builds on a firm foundation, and with this word in mind, we hear Jesus say that “everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” and not on sand – like the foolish builder.

At least from the way Matthew seems to tell it, you’d assume that just Jesus and the disciples have gathered on that mountain.

Then, when the rain comes, that house won’t fall into the ocean. The first element is the quality of the builder, but the second element has to do with the foundation, and as we think about the foundation upon which we build our own spiritual lives, I’d like to switch the metaphor from floods to earthquakes.

And, when it rains, especially if there have been fires, which are common in Southern California, there likely will be mud slides as well.

That means, that if you have live in a house on a hill overlooking the ocean, you had better hope that you’ve hired a wise builder, or your house might end up in the ocean!

According to James, if we simply hear the Word of God, but don’t act upon it, then we’re like the person who looks in a mirror and then goes off and forgets what they look like.

When we’re hearers only and not doers, then we fail to practice a religion that is pure and undefiled before God, a religion that involves not just religious acts, but more importantly involves caring for the orphan and widow in their distress.

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