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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mountain view 9/11/16
View from Broad Mountain in Franklin County PA looking west.
That's a road in the center of the photo.

"Using Wholesome Words"

Message Summary:
"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).

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"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). "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).

Washing Out Mouth sign

Several years ago we were at a festival with 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!!!" For younger readers that may not know, it alludes to the threat of having your mouth washed out by soap if you swear, as was the custom of my youth.

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 in Belton Missouri where I slipped with a swear word within hearing range of my mom. I recall the precise swear word, which I will not and do not need to mention here.

Ivory soap bottle My little innocent mama, red faced with rage (as much as she was capable of mustering anyway), commissioned my older brother Pat  to wash my mouth out with soap, in this case a bottle of Ivory dish soap squirted full strength directly into my mouth. Pat, eight years older than I, loved the chore Mom assigned to him. He placed me in a tight bear hug grip as he applied Mom's "therapy". Pat is now a retired pastor who will soon celebrate his 70th birthday but at that time he had not been converted to Christ and took great pleasure in disciplining his little brother, although I am quite sure at that time he also used salty language from the world as well.

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 nearly 50 years since my mouth-washing experience and I am grateful for the discipline, although not surprisingly 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" in seeking to connect with the world. Such strategy, in our opinion, is similar to youth using the salty language they hear from adults to appear "grown-up" or connecting with their peers.

I believe we need a restored sense of reverence, in our conduct and in our conversation.

The other day I got into a conversation with a man whom I have befriended. He is a big burly tattoo-covered ex-con. I asked him if he would be more receptive to my message if I began to use profanity and practiced some other "worldly" ways in order to make a connection with him. He laughed, giving me the look of "Are you nuts?" as he considered the absurdity of my suggestion.

This is also a good time to remind believers not only to guard their language regarding profanity 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 is completely holy and righteous, the supreme ruler of the universe, the creator, our redeemer, and the judge of all?

Today's 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 the way they 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", that build others up. *
  • Profitable Words "according to the need of the moment." These are the timely words that impact others in their time of need.
  • 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 hurtful actions do irrevocable damage that will not disappear through first aid or antiseptic. Harmful 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.

* Although not related to profanity we heard an interesting point about being an edifier Monday afternoon at Sam S. Smucker's funeral. The service was held at one of our large mega churches (The Worship Center) which happens to be pastored by Sam Smucker, who is Sam S. Smucker's nephew. Pastor Smucker pointed back to where he'd look for his Uncle Sam, as he usually sat in the same seat each Sunday in the huge auditorium. Pastor Sam told the congregation he got strength just from seeing him. He went on to say how there are certain people like that (edifiers) when you preach, which any preacher can identify with. With a chuckle Pastor Sam also alluded to certain people you choose not to focus on (drainers)! As I reflect back on my many years of preaching I could list many encouragers as well as a few notable drainers!

Today I would like to share a few more photos from my weekend campout in the mountains.

Men and Boys campout service 09/11/16
We had a service at camp
Sunday morning around the campfire.

Fried potatoes over open fire 09/11/16
A hearty but probably not heart healthy breakfast includes potatoes fried over an open fire. Onions and peppers and who knows what else will be added! Another griddle will have pounds of bacon and sausage while another has eggs and pancakes. Better get some exercise after this breakfast!

Steel-wheeled tractor 9/11/16
Sunday morning after our service and breakfast a group of us loaded our bikes on a trailer, piled into a van and rode up to the top of Broad Mountain (see here) for a long speed ride down. When we were unloading our bikes we noticed this blue steel-wheeled tractor backing toward us. I walked up the tractor and talked with them. It turned out to be a young old-order Mennonite family. The father had driven the tractor up the mountain to have a picnic on a vista point overlooking the Cumberland Valley. I asked where he had come from and it was a town about ten miles away! This particular branch of Mennonites use a horse and buggy but also allow steel-wheeled tractors for farm use. I suppose this young farmer preferred to drive his family in the tractor rather than take the horse and buggie up the mountain! It was surely easier for the horse as well.

Cumberland Valley vista view 9/11/16
Here's the vista view from Broad Mountain looking out over the Cumberland Valley to the east. This is the view the Mennonite family was looking for to have their Sunday picnic. About ten years ago I preached a sermon with this view as a backdrop.
Click on photo to enlarge

No children to spare sign, Orrstown, PA 9/11/16
I know there's a spiritual lesson in this sign!
It brings to mind this verse: Romans 8:32

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

Here's a message by Greg Laurie about profanity (Note: We are troubled when leaders feel the need to use profanity to effectively communicate with relevance inappropriate, whether written or spoken.)

We appreciate this thought: I am not suggesting we attempt to be irrelevant and uncool, but my question is “Have we traded reverence for relevance?”

We also feel another aspect in this matter is a mistaken notion of Christian liberty which seems to now be used to justify many forms of worldliness. For a bit of humor see this satire piece" "Casual Sex, Drug Use Now Covered Under Local Man’s Definition Of ‘Christian Liberty’"

"Sometimes I Wonder"   Video   Ernie Haas and Signature Sound

"That's Why"  Video 
Ernie Haas and Signature Sound

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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