My Final Tour of the Hambleden Valley

This past Sunday was my final day in the Hambleden Valley Group of Churches. I have loved the last almost 3 years there. It was a joy and privilege to serve the people and the churches of this beautiful place. I now take a 6 week break – starting with some time at Mucknell Abbey.

Final Hambleden Service

Romans 12:9-end
John 15:1-12

To all God’s beloved in the churches of the Hambleden Valley, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank God for all of you because of your faith, your love and dedication to the churches, villages and Valley. I have abided with you these last (almost) 3 years and I love you. Sometimes you were very easy to love; sometimes it took a little more effort! I know that many of you would have liked me to abide longer. This was not an easy decision to make, but in the longer term this was the best decision for you and for me. Even if we cannot see that yet.

My interim period in the Hambleden Valley has been extremely valuable to my ministry. I take many lessons with me; I learned some hard ones and that is a good thing. I leave something of my heart with you.

Part of my role here was to remove some branches and prune the trees for a fruitful future. I wait in hope and anticipation to see what fruit is produced in the years to come. I pray that God will be gracious and let me have a look or an update every once in a while.

Pruning is never easy. It is often painful and needs to be done with careful attention. I tried. I know that I did not always get that right; I pruned with blunt secateurs and little too close to the bone. I can only apologise. If there is any consolation, I too was pruned in this role by God. His pruning was much more efficient and gentle. Please leave any future pruning in the hands of God. He is so much better at it than we ever can be.

We can be tempted to prune each other with our looks, our words and our deeds. Resist the temptation! Abide with each other, keep on keeping on. Bear with one another. We are all bearing with you! Love what is genuine.

My only caution to you is this: do not be tempted to look backwards or romanticise the past. The Church cannot and does not live in the ‘good old days’ if in fact they even were. The next few months before Andy is licensed will be busy and challenging. You have been here before; watching your thinking. Do not make space for negativity or crustiness. This is not a vacancy. Call it minding the gap. Hope is on the horizon – look ahead with optimism. Abide with each other.

Jesus’ call for the disciples to abide with each other in John 15 was part of the Last Supper discourse. There is an urgency in the tone of this writing. He was going to the cross. We are not! Wait patiently in this next short while. Love one another and hang in there. Keep the commandments. Love your neighbour.

These are your instructions.

Here are your love letters…

To the angels of the church at Fawley: Fawley is special to me as you were the first people I got to meet in person when I started in January 2021. Your tenacity to keep meeting every Friday at noon, lockdown restrictions or not, week in and week out, rain or shine, warm or cold is truly inspirational.

Your care for friends and neighbours has been, and continues to be, unstinting. Fawley is also a place of convivial hospitality all done to impeccable standards.

I cannot wait to see the building once it is reopened. Please invite me! You should be commended for the desire to put the church back in the centre of the village.

Bless you dear Fawleyites.

To the angels of the church at Fingest: You might be small but you are fierce! You like to do things your own way and take great pride in doing just that. The devotion to the church, village and pub is admirable.

Fingest is also the first and loudest to remind us that we are a Group in the Hambleden Valley. This is not to be forgotten or put to the side. Keep on banging the drum!

Fingest has a speciality for Evening Services. There is nowhere more peaceful than the 6 pm in St Bartholomew’s on a Sunday evening. When the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over, even on a cold winter’s evening, the radiators in Fingest are ablaze. I highly recommend attending.

Bless you dear Fingestites.

To the angels of the church at Frieth: You might be the daughter of the bigger church down here in the valley – thanks to those do-gooders of bygone days who thought the fine people of Frieth needed to go to church more regularly – but you are your own woman!

Your welcome to the students and staff at the school is noted. They love coming to visit even if, in the words of a reception student, it smells old. Nothing is ever too much trouble or fuss. The choir turns up on time (you smell just fine), sing beautifully and manage to do many other tasks in your choir robes; flitting around the church like little blue angels.

The spirit of Frieth is gentle and welcoming. My prayer is that more people will come to experience that.

Bless you dear Friethians.

To the angels of the church at Hambleden: In the heart of the valley, in the heart of the action. Things just happen in the church as though by magic. You are a graceful swan gliding down the humble Hamble Brook. Yet underneath is some mad paddling. People who visit are constantly amazed at the beauty of this building. The more astute know that it is the beauty of the people who care for this place that shines through. Your dogged dedication is what keeps the roof literally on this place.

The care and attention for wedding couples and baptism families, the sensitivity for bereaved families is renowned. Nothing is too big or small, no detail overlooked. Thank you to the choirs, bell ringers and flower ladies for making these events even more special.

To the grand-dame of the organ loft – thank you for sharing your immense gifts with us and so many for so long. We are now on to the 3rd generation of some families that you have played for.

Bless you Christine.

Bless you dear Hambledonians.

To the angels of the church at Medmenham: Oh Medmenham. You have certainly kept it interesting! You are on the cusp of a brighter future as a church; I really believe this. The pieces to this puzzle are almost certainly there; just needs some time to come together. The dedicated core keeps things moving; even when very few show up. Your gracious attitude means that it is always worth it. The village is slowly waking up to the gem of the church in their midst. We are to preach the gospel in season and out of season. Keep on going.

Brothers and sisters, please keep helping Medmenham. Just a little support will go a long way and help to encourage the villagers.

Bless you dear Medmenhamittes.

To the angels of the church at Turville: Dibley. It was a pleasure to be your Priest-in-Charge! Not Vicar. You wear the mantle of that with grace and nonchalance despite the attention it brings you. It does not go to your head. I will not let it go to mine either.

If you are at a loose end on a Wednesday morning, please do stop in at the 10:15 Communion service. It is beautiful! There is sometimes Bazil the cat, often a sweet toddler, highly esteemed elders from across the Valley bearing the local news and a very warm welcome. We break bread and then have biscuits. This is the ideal midweek oasis.

There are plans afoot to spruce the place up. Prayers for this journey. There are people rooting for you and desire to see this come to pass.

Bless you dear Turvillians.

To the angel of the church that is Jenny Neagle. You might not know Jenny. You should. She is a big part of the brains of the organisation. She helps Sue & I and the Church Wardens immensely. Always willing to learn, correct our mistakes, make contact with people in a compassionate and professional way.

Bless you Jenny.

To the angel of the church that is Sue Morton. I have so enjoyed being part of The Sues with you. You are a gift to the church and the Hambleden Valley. From you I have learned the value of giving things time and space. You are a fount of much knowledge that you share with consideration and grace. Thank you for your support and encouragement – especially when neither of us were sure. Your faith is an example to us all.

Bless you Sue.

And that, my friends, is my farewell tour of the Hambleden Valley. Abide with each other. Go gently, go patiently. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Go in the love and peace of Christ.

Trinity 12: Remember Who You Are!

Frieth 9:00 P&P
Trinity 12

Isaiah 51:1-6
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20

Growing up, I would say that I was a pretty good kid: a reasonable student, polite, well behaved, didn’t get into much trouble, etc. This carried on largely into my teenage years with the odd scrape, of course. Becoming a teenager means doing things independently of one’s parents and exploring nightlife. I grew up in a small town, so it did not take long to explore! Once curfew times had been negotiated and I got ready to go out, my Dad would almost inevitably say ‘Susan, remember who you are.’

Man! Sometimes it really bothered me! Especially if I had not fully disclosed where I would be going or what I would be doing that evening. This was my Dad’s way of telling me to behave, to remember how I had been raised and what was acceptable behaviour.

There were times when that sentence would pass through my mind; and I believe steered my behaviour. As I grew up and matured, I have come to realise that ‘remembering who I am’ is a very valuable thing to know.
In the Gospel reading this morning we are asked to consider who Jesus is. This is a pivotal moment in Peter’s life and in the lives of the disciples.
Why is Jesus asking this question?

Over the last few weeks in the lectionary we have been talking about weeds, wheat, pearls, treasures, mustard seeds, bread and fish. These are all stories about Jesus taking very little of something and making it very, very big. The miracles displayed in these stories show us God’s power displayed through Jesus in the provision and generosity given to those who choose to follow. These stories are pointing to the person of Jesus and who he is.

One of the recurring themes throughout these readings is Jesus having to continually prove himself to the disciples and the crowds. They are still doubting as they do not yet understand who He is and what he came to do in the building of the kingdom of God.
Up to this point Jesus has been seeking to prove his claim of messiahship through words and deeds. Now it is time to see if the lesson has been learned. Jesus starts with a ‘public opinion’ survey: ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’

It seems like a bit of a random question. Might have seemed that way to the disciples. No doubt that Jesus already knew the answers but wanted to hear it from them. Jesus is given a variety of public opinion answers and this opinion is divided. Some say he is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
These answers are interesting; people did not think of Jesus, meek and mild; not the cosy friend of little children. He is categorised as one of the wild prophets of the Old Testament. One who stood up spoke the word of God fearlessly and against the rulers of the day.

Then Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter: “Who do you say I am?” Suddenly there is no public opinion to hide behind. They must make an intelligent, personal choice based on the witnessed miracles and heard messages.
Take a moment now and consider that question for yourself. Jesus is asking you ‘Who do you say I am?’

This is an answer with not only eternal consequences but with consequences for the everyday trials and triumphs of walking around on this planet.
Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’. An answer which gets him some serious praise and blessing. The importance of Peter’s answer is that he acknowledged that Jesus was not just God’s mouthpiece against injustice and corruption, but that Jesus was God’s Messiah, God’s king.

Who is Jesus to you? A good moral teacher? Jesus meek and mild, the baby in the manger that seems to stay there? Jesus on the cross who doesn’t seem to get down. Jesus the Prince of Peace, wonderful counsellor, Mighty Saviour, Name Above all Names.

Jesus had a word for Peter after his announcement. Tom Wright said: ‘if Peter was prepared to say that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus was prepared to say that, with this allegiance, Peter would himself be the foundation for his new building. Just as God gave Abram the name Abraham, indicating that he would be the father of many nations, so now Jesus gives Simon the new name Peter, the Rock.’

Peter went on to do just that. This was not without trials and tribulation for Peter. As we know he denied Christ before the crucifixion and had to live with that guilt and shame. Never forget that Jesus restored Peter on the beach.
This is really helpful for as and when we forget who Jesus is. We, like Peter, can be restored to the body of Christ. We need to take ourselves to Jesus, ask for forgiveness and start again.

It is through God’s grace that we have been restored and redeemed and it is also through grace that we have been given the gifts of God. Anyone need to hear this today?

In the Romans reading we are reminded that we are one body with many members and being members of one another.
We have been given gifts: ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and compassion. This list is by no means exhaustive and there are many, many more gifts of the Spirit. As I begin to reflect on my time in the Hambleden Valley, I am astonished by the diversity of gifts and talents across the parish. I am so grateful for the generous sharing of these gifts.
These are the gifts that we need, our families, friends and the wider world need us to use. The body of Christ is desperately needed! This is why we need to know who Jesus is: we are part of his body. Therefore best to know something of the person in whom we dwell and dwells within us.
By knowing who Jesus is we can have a clearer picture of who we are. We can remember who we are and who we were made to be when we know who Jesus is. The beloved children of God.

Trinity 11: Crumbs

Trinity 11

Isaiah 56:1,6-8
Matthew 15:21-28

How is everyone doing this morning? Let us check in with one another. Are you doing okay? Is anyone bothered by anything or anyone? I will spare you the list of things that could be potential bothers at the moment.

If you are in a state of bother, fear not! You are in good company with our Gospel reading as Jesus seems hot and bothered too. Bothered by travelling around, the Pharisees and scribes are on his case in an attempt to catch him out, the disciples are slow to understand, hungry crowds that keep following him around! And now a Canaanite woman with a sick daughter has turned up and is shouting the place down with her demands.

What is up with everyone?! A question we might be asking ourselves about others these days too. I want to focus on Jesus and the woman for a few minutes. I think that we see Jesus at a point in his ministry where he is trying to test his disciples in their reactions (one explanation for his response to this woman). We also see something of his humanity as Jesus comes to understand his own ministry more deeply as well as the frustrations that being human brings.

The woman is looking for some good news, some help and relief in a deeply troubling time. At the outset, she does not receive the welcome that one might expect from Jesus! Anybody else a little short of love and goodwill these days?
We are living in a world that is hungry for good news, maybe even starving for it. It seems like all the news is bad; wild fires threatening homes and livelihoods in many countries, the economy, the climate, migrants are washing up on our shores, students are struggling with their grades, racism and injustice blight far too many lives. Where is the good news?!

As Christians, we are to be the bearers of, not the hoarders of the good news of a God who loves and cares for us. In every situation, no matter how bad and terrible it seems, we must share the promise that God’s liberating, saving and reconciling power is available for all people, in all places, all the time. This is a hard calling. It is easy to proclaim it theoretically, much harder to live it out in real life, which is the exact place where it is needed most. I think that in this complex and often confusing Gospel reading, we can find some hope in working out the call to share the Good News.

Jesus, like us, seems to be working out his calling. Jesus and the disciples have been sharing the message mainly with the Jewish people. They were God’s chosen people from the beginning, and this does not change in the New Testament. Israel had to hear the message first. Along the way, other people like the Roman Centurion, the Samaritan woman at the well, hear the message of Jesus too. The future is breaking into the present and it seems to take Jesus by surprise.

I wonder how this poor mother heard about Jesus. The news of Jesus was spreading. Who told her about Jesus? Maybe someone who had been at the feeding of the 5000? Or at the Sermon on the Mount had told her and the neighbours about this Jesus? Clearly this woman has heard about Jesus even though she is a Canaanite – a Gentile, an outsider to the good news. Whatever she had heard obviously had made a deep impression and gave her some level of faith.

Jesus’ first response is silence and then when the disciples urged him to send her packing, Jesus refused to help her. She does all the right things, she addresses Jesus by his Messianic or Jewish title – ‘Son of David’ – so she acknowledges his Jewishness. When he finally does answer – it seems harsh. ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’

It helps to remember that Matthew is the most Jewish of the four Gospels and he is trying to get his first readers – Jewish Christians to know and believe that Jesus really is the Messiah they have been waiting for. Jesus is trying to explain that he came for Israel first.

Then the exchange about taking the children’s bread and throwing it to their dogs. The children here mean the Jews and the dogs are the Gentiles. I don’t think that many people would take kindly to being referred to as a dog! This would have been a derogatory remark, suggesting that she and her children were inferior because of class and race.

Yet she presses on and gives a brilliant rebuttal; ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Here she is saying that even if Israel were to be first, the promised people, then the Messiah (Jesus) will ultimately bring blessing to the whole world.

The Isaiah reading: (v6-8) ‘and the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to love the name of the Lord, will be accepted on my altar’. This woman is joining herself to the Lord. Jesus’ countenance seems to change in her answer, he sees her faith and grants her request.

What is also so great about this answer: if we think back to the feeding of the 5000. What do the crumbs of Jesus look like? 7 full baskets! This woman wants so badly what she believes Jesus can do, she will take the crumbs off the table to help her daughter. She just wants a few crumbs, not the whole loaf bread. And for a few crumbs she is joining herself to the Lord. This is the faith that she is rewarded for. Back to mustard seeds and pearls, small things that get made large in the hands of Jesus. This is good news!

Sometimes we need reminding that even God’s crumbs can satisfy us completely! Her daughter was healed from that very hour. In our hot and bothered states, we too can lose sight of the bigger picture, the good news that we are meant to share, the promise which we have been given in the great love of God. What do we need to be reminded of today? What do we need a crumb for? Take a few moments to bring those things to the Lord and ask for some bread!

Lord God, we thank you that you hear our prayers and feed us with your bread of life. Thank you for your abundance of love and grace. Help us to have faith in every situation that we face – today and always. Amen.

Lammastide: The Need for First Fruits

Trinity 10

Leviticus 23:9-14
Matthew 15:32-39

Lammastide. We are going a little off piste this morning. It feels important to mark the start of the harvest season, given the difficulty of the weather during the farming year. This is also true on a global scale with the complexity of the situation in the Ukraine and grain exports. There is famine in Africa and Yemen.

History lesson on Lammastide. Lammas means ‘loaf-mass’ in Old English and was originally an Anglo-Saxon festival. Lammas Day (August 1st) celebrated the first harvest of the year. The first grain was milled and baked into bread that was brought to the Church to be blessed. It corresponds with the Hebrew Festival of Weeks when a sheaf from the barley harvest was offered.

This is what Moses was being instructed to prepare for in our Leviticus reading; the offering of the first fruits. This is an important biblical concept that we will take some time to consider this morning. First fruits is used two ways in the English Bible. The first simply describes the first portion of the produce of the land. Secondly it refers to the specific ceremonies related to the first portion of the harvest. The offering of first fruits acknowledged God’s sovereignty and ownership of all things.

In response to this and a token of stewardship, Israel has to acknowledge that the first issue of human, beast and soil belonged to God. God had delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt and they were never to forget this.

The Feast of Weeks, celebrated 50 days after Pentecost, was a straightforward agricultural feast. It was to celebrate the first fruits of the wheat harvest. The barley harvest would have already come in; the wheat harvest was more important. Now a full celebration of God’s goodness could be celebrated. It was only celebrated on a single day as it was impractical to party for seven days in the middle of the harvest.

If God, creator of all, gave everything for our benefit, why does he want some back? Like the early Israelites, our memories can be short! We can so easily forget all that God has done for us when the bounty runs out. Firstfruits also helps to keep our humility in check when tempted to believe that we do it all ourselves.

In giving away the firstfruits, which would be very tempting to keep especially if a farmer was starving, we demonstrate our dependence on God. We learn to trust that God will continue to provide for us.

The first concept of first fruits goes back to Genesis chapter four and the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Abel kept flocks and Cain worked the soil. If you remember the story, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil but Abel brought portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked in favour of Abel and his offering but not on Cain. Cain then became angry at God. God told Cain that he should have done what was right and his offering would have been accepted. Cain was also instructed to fight against sin that was lurking at his door.

Cain’s response was to kill his brother Abel. We have the first recorded murder. Cain then lived the rest of his life outside the presence of God. Entitlement got in his way; thinking that he could give God whatever and that should be enough. Greed also plays here, Cain wanted to keep the first fruits for himself. The punishment was severe. There are consequences to ignoring God, it always leads to sin.

Fortunately there is always a way out if we want to take it. In the feeding of the four thousand, Jesus shows the disciples and the crowd what can be done with a small offering. Note that there are two feeding stories in Matthew’s Gospel. The first has five thousand people being fed with five loaves and two fish. The second, this one, has four thousand people being fed with seven loaves and a few small fish. A little Bible trivia for you, all four Gospels have the story of the feeding of the five thousand but only John mentions the small boy providing the loaves and fish.

Matthew’s recording indicates that the disciples had with them what was needed to feed the massive crowds. They came to the picnic with food in their hamper. It was not very much and would not have fed 12 grown men. They did not offer it until Jesus asked them how many loaves they had. Maybe offering their meagre rations felt embarrassing or insignificant in the face of the need in front of them. Maybe they wanted to keep it for themselves.

Whatever the reason for holding it back, Jesus draws it out of them. Then to their amazement, Jesus gave thanks for it, broke it and every single person had enough to eat. More than enough as there were leftovers. Seven full baskets.

Seven is a significant number in the New Testament; it is the number of perfection. Seven loaves turned into seven full baskets. Jesus turned scarcity into abundance. He still does that. He will take the perceived smallness of our offering and make it magnificent.

We should give our first fruits to God, the best of ourselves, our attitudes, our money and time. As frightening or impractical as that may seem! There is always more than enough with God. He is the creator and sustainer of the cattle on a thousand hills. He knows the number of hairs on our heads and when sparrows fall to the ground.

Our giving to God should reflect our thanks for all He has done for us; not from a place of begrudging obligation or guilt or historical duty. Remember Cain, attitude matters.

In this season of Lammastide, as we look to the fields around us, let us remember the bounty of God and pray for those who work the fields. When tempted to hoard from fear of scarcity, remember those who will have nothing to eat today. Let us bring to God what we have and let him bless it to bless others.

Medmenham Village Service: Self-Control

Medmenham Village Service

James 3:1-12 – Self-Control

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Again, many thanks for John MacKenzie for throwing out the suggestion of self-control for this Sunday!

On the list of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5, which is the guiding verse for our services at this time, self-control is last. This is no accident or oversight. We might be tempted to think that because it is on the bottom of the list that it does not matter as much as the other. Surely it is more important to be kind or loving than self-controlled?! f you were here in June and heard Sue & Pete’s interview, the focus was on love and God’s love for us. Love keeps us afloat. This morning I want to suggest that self-control keeps us anchored.

Self-control is the constant balancing act of motivations and actions; it provides form and structure for us to operate in. Any person without self-control is either an accident looking for a place to happen or a slave in chains. We can go to the extremes and both are unhealthy for us.

A lack of self-control kills self respect, friendships, marriages, careers and relationships. Many of us will struggle with this for much of our lives. Self-control is not about living with guilt and misery or being so contained that we lose all pleasure in life; it is about living within healthy boundaries where we can live in freedom and without fear. It is being able to say ‘that is enough!’ and being comfortable in that decision.

Paul in his letters to the Corinthians puts it rather well as he wrote, ‘Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.’

The key to self-control is the refusal to allow our enemies (the flesh, the world or Satan) to rule or hold us captive in any way. Self-control is as much about saying ‘yes’ and ‘not right now’ as it is about saying ‘no’. It is not always about ‘what’ but ‘how much’ and no ‘when’ but ‘why’. Self-control is ultimately an issue of mastery, of authority, and of boundaries.

Why do I need it!? There is a pithy little verse in Proverbs: like a city whose walls are broken down is a person who lacks self-control. Sounds like something from a fortune cookie! Broken walls let anything in! In ancient architecture a city was only as secure as the walls which surround it. The walls protected the people inside. In cities like Babylon, the walls gave the reputation that the cities were impenetrable.

Self-control is our wall of protection! It fortifies all that is within us; it secures our freedom to love, to experience joy, to know peace, to respond with patience, to have a kind disposition, to act out of goodness, to step out in faithfulness and to agree with gentleness. Self-control is the ability to make choices and decisions to remain within the boundaries.

James 3: James is writing his letter to followers of Jesus who had to leave Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus. They had been sent to spread the Good News of the Gospel. His letter is full of instructions on how they should operate and get on with people. James had learned a few things the hard way, he missed the message of Jesus while he was alive. Now James is urgently wanting his audience to get it and do it better than he did!

James has a unique insight into human behaviour; he knows the dangers and damage the tongue and the words that roll off it can do! If he was speaking to a modern audience, he might also include our thumbs and the send button! From the same mouth, or thumbs, come blessing and cursing.

James is pointing out our condition! Inconsistency and carelessness. This is where the need for self-control is most evident. We need boundaries and guidelines to help us live in peace and freedom with other people.

Think before you speak or text.
Think about what it is you really want to say and why.
Don’t speak in haste or anger.
Don’t criticise the crocodile before you cross the river.
Consider that you might actually be wrong!

I will finish with Ephesians 4:29 – Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

Self-control is about freedom for everyone; it is living in love and being anchored so that we can live fruitful lives. It is about living in freedom and confidence to say that is enough for me. Self-control means giving serious thought to how we use our words and thumbs for building up and not tearing down. However right we think we might be.