To have the wisdom from above, like Jesus, you don't need very many words. If you suddenly woke up in a foreign country where you couldn't speak the language, there'd only be a few words you'd need to learn to have a perfectly good life. And these words are: "Thank you"; "I'm sorry"; and "I love you." That about covers it. "Thank you"; "I'm sorry"; "I love you." With these words, it's impossible to start fires we can't put out, or build walls we can't tear down, or cause wounds we can't bind up.
The Letter of James has some harsh words of warning, and I get the same feeling reading it that I often do reading the letters of Paul. I get the feeling that the early Christians were a bunch of adolescents. Think about it. Having new-found freedom in Christ, they were only too happy to use it, and couldn't help abusing it. So, maybe if we connect with our inner-adolescent today, we can better hear what James has to say. See also: James 2:12-13
Look at your hands. Look into your hearts. Listen for the implanted word, the word that has the power to save your soul. And then be doers of that word and not hearers only.
Every time someone tries to draw a circle to keep folks out, God will draw the circle even wider to take them in.
When you take your life in a new direction, people will notice. When you show up at a party and no longer belly up to the bar. When you go to your book club and forego the bon bons. When give up the remote control and put on your running shoes. When you stop shopping for entertainment and start serving at the soup kitchen. When you quit talk radio and talk to God instead. When you no longer complain to your friends about your boss or your ex. You won't need to wear sackcloth. We'll all know you are fasting, and God will know it, too.
Not unlike his first birth, Jonah's rebirth was a messy affair. Ours can be, too. I can tell you that it won't come at a convenient time. Jesus won't come when your house is clean, when all your affairs are in order. Jesus will get into your life when you can't get out of it.