A Tongue of Fire

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#193: “A Tongue of Fire”
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James 3:1-12

1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or 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. 5Likewise 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. 6The 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. 7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

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A Tongue of Fire

“A Tongue of Fire” is episode #193 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Phil Lollar, and originally aired on May 2, 1992.


Jimmy Barclay records an embarrassing secret about Eugene … and airs it on his Kids' Radio show.



Jimmy Barclay is on the air at Kids' Radio! He talks, he tells jokes, he trades barbs with his audience, and he is pretty entertaining for a kid in middle school. But he wants to be very entertaining. So, with Eugene’s help, Jimmy’s made a demo tape to take to the most popular disc jockey in town — Cryin’ Bryan Dern.

Whit thinks the tape is amusing but warns Jimmy that he needs to be careful about what he says — some of his quips border on being insults. Jimmy sloughs off the advice and goes to Dern. Dern tells Jimmy to do exactly the opposite. In fact, one of Dern’s secrets is to tape people covertly, make clips of their choicest comments, and put together well-chosen questions to make the speaker look ridiculous.

Jimmy quickly puts this device to use. He tapes Eugene as he reveals to Whit a surprising and private admission: he has failed his driver’s test. Eugene is mortified that Jimmy would reveal this information on Kid’s Radio. Whit is so angry about it, he pulls Jimmy’s show off the air.

Jimmy doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about — until he hears himself being made a fool of on Bryan Dern’s program. It seems Dern did to Jimmy what Jimmy did to Eugene. Jimmy doesn’t like it one bit. He apologizes to Eugene, and the two of them set out to make a new demo tape of the Jimmy Barclay Show — a kinder, gentler demo tape. And Jimmy learns an important lesson about the damage that the tongue can do.

This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Jimmy think it was okay to secretly record Eugene?
    • Why was Whit so angry with Jimmy for what he did?
  2. How can you learn to be more careful about what you say?
    • Is that a struggle for you?
      • Why or why not?
  3. Read James 3:1-1
  4. What did the apostle James mean when he said that “the tongue is a fire”?


Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Bryan Dern Corey Burton
Bryan Dern's guest Unknown
Charlie Unknown
Connie Kendall Katie Leigh
Eugene Meltsner Will Ryan
Interviewee #1 Unknown
Interviewee #2 Unknown
Interviewee #3 Unknown
Jimmy Barclay David Griffin
John Whittaker Hal Smith

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Tom Riley John Whittaker




Eugene Meltsner: This is rather embarrassing to admit Mr. Whittaker, but <whispering> I don't have a driver's license.
John Whittaker: You don't have a driver's license?!
Eugene Meltsner: Please Mr. Whittaker lower your vocal amplification! This is not information I wish to share with the world at large.

Jimmy Barclay: Shocking, shocking, absolutely shocking. It's amazing the things you hear when you... oh, uh, it looks like we have a guest! Mr. John Avery — hey!
John Whittaker: Due to circumstances beyond his control, the rest of the Jimmy Barclay Show will not be heard today.

John Whittaker: Didn't you take the test?
Eugene Meltsner: Of course I took the test!
John Whittaker: So what happened?
Eugene Meltsner: I failed it! I flunked it!

John Whittaker: A couple of days ago he really wanted to be like you, Mr. Dern. But by doing no more than being yourself, you made him realize what a horrible prospect that really is. And for that, you have my undying gratitude.