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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Autumn scene in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (photo by Lori)
Lori, a reader from Cedar Rapids Iowa, sent us this Autumn photo she had taken in her hometown.

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"Wholesome Words"

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving" (Ephesians 5:4). "But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth" (Colossians 3:8).

On Saturday at the National Apple Harvest Festival we perused through the various craft displays and came upon a booth that sold home-made soaps. It had a long but interesting name, "Wash Your Mouth Out Soap Company" with the humorous tag line "Soap So Good It'll Make You Wanna Cuss!!!"

Washing Out Mouth sign

I don't know how many of our readers will identify but the soap sign sure brought back a memory from my younger teen years. I had just begun to use some cuss words in my attempt to look and sound "grown-up". I tried to be careful and swear only around friends I sought to impress. But I still vividly recall the exact place in front of our garage where I tested my new grown up status within the hearing of my mom. I also recall the precise swear word, which I purposely will not mention. I hear profanity all too often among young people and grown-ups.

My very upset mom commissioned Pat, my older brother, to wash my mouth out with soap, in this case a bottle of Ivory dish soap squirted directly into my mouth. Eight years older than I he placed me in a bear hug grip as he applied Mom's "therapy". He is a pastor who recently celebrated his 65th birthday but at that time he had not been converted to Christ and took great pleasure in disciplining his little brother. In fact I called him as I was writing this story and he also remembered the occasion. We had a good chuckle together.

The soap was not tasty and I learned my lesson, at least to the extent of never swearing in front of Mom again. It was several years later that I was born again and invited the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to clean up my vocabulary.  By the way, it's been some 45 years since this happened and I am grateful for the discipline, although an online search now associates washing the mouth out with soap as child abuse!!! 

Now we are flooded with a culture of profanity and coarse language, from prime time TV to popular music, from sports to news shows. Just walking through a store or any public setting we're often assaulted by offensive language. But sadder yet is profanity in the pulpit that some pastors use in order to be "relevant". Such strategy, in my opinion, is similar to youth using the salty language they hear from adults to appear "grown-up."
This also might be a good time to remind believers not only to guard their language but also to honor God's name in their conversation according to the third commandment, "Do not take the name of the Lord our God in vain". Using God's name flippantly as part of a casual exclamation of excitement is certainly not using it with respect. How can we say, “Oh my God,” as simply a mindless exclamation when God to us is completely holy and righteous, the supreme ruler of the universe, the creator, our redeemer, and the judge of all?

Today's first text is easy to outline in regard to speech that honors God and is a blessing to others. Let us consider these four standards:
  • Wholesome Words "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth." The Bible does not have a list of unwholesome words and of course due to various languages and how languages change over time this would be quite a list if it did! But we can let the Holy Spirit along with the input and example from wise elders guide us. As we mature we will be able to distinguish between wholesome and unwholesome words.
  • Edifying Words "but only such a word as is good for edification." These are words that build up rather than tear down. We've all at some point been recipients of hurtful words that tore us down. Let us determine to use words and thoughts that are "good for edification."
  • Profitable Words "according to the need of the moment." These are the timely words that impact others in their time of need. In Monday's message we shared that these words are like "apples of gold in settings of silver."
  • Grace-giving Words "so that it will give grace to those who hear." Grace-filled words are so needed regardless of where we live. Elsewhere Paul wrote, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6).
Here is another great Biblical standard for our speech, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we know the oft repeated expression that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me" is a mistaken message certainly not derived from Scripture. Harmful words or actions do irrevocable damage that will not disappear through first aid or antiseptic. Hurtful words have a way of playing over and over in our head and enter into the deep recesses of our hearts. The more we cling to them the greater we risk exaggerating their original message. We build walls, become defensive and do little to resolve the problem. Help us to weigh our words carefully, put ourselves to the test of asking, "Are the words coming from my mouth pleasing in Your sight". When we habitually put our words to this test we will not use foul language, engage in crude joking, gossip or slander another but we will instead choose to build one another up in love. Keep us faithful in doing so we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: A number of years ago I committed today's passage from Ephesians to memory and also Ephesians 5:4 "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.." I was in the company of a believer who was exuberant in his recent faith experience and he wanted others to come to Christ. On more than one instance I heard him engage in crude joking or saw inappropriate materials he was reading. I strongly felt compelled by God to speak to him about this inconsistency in his Christian walk. With fear and trembling I shared the above Scriptures and by the grace of God he responded. He and his wife cleaned their house of books and magazines that were dishonoring to God and his conversation changed. Only God knew that he would only have three short months of life remaining to influence people for the Lord. I learned a lesson from this experience, "when God clearly speaks to our hearts, we must obey Him." The man I write about was my father who went to be with Jesus in February of 2000.

We are grateful for Lori sharing the photo of her hometown today and providing a glimpse of her neck of the woods. Autumn is such a beautiful season. We would like to share some more local autumn scenes in the next couple of weeks here on daily encouragement. Please consider sending us a scenic nature photo you took. Send it as an email attachment in as high a resolution jpg as you can, tell us where it was taken and we may be able to use it as part of a guest collection. Email to this address.

Here are four autumn photos by friends and relatives:

Acadia National Park (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Our friend Howard Blichfeldt took this scene at Acadia National Park in Maine.

Wisconsin barn in Autumn (photo by GEM)
My cousin Georgia took this old barn photo in rural Wisconsin.

Fall foliage in New York state (Doris High)
Our friend Doris High captured the foliage in upstate New York.

Lewes DE boathouse (photo by Greg Schneider)

Boathouse in Lewes DE taken by our friend Greg Schneider.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Let The Words Of My Mouth"  Video  Fernando Ortega

"May The Words Of My Mouth"  Video  
Christy Nockels

"May The Words Of My Mouth"  Video  Benny Samuel

Here's a recent article about profanity in the pulpit titled, "Profane Preachers Contribute to Killing the Conscience" (Note: I find the notion of needing to swear to communicate with relevance disgusting in any context but especially from the pulpit.)

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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