Monday, September 22, 2008

The Words of My Mouth

It's time for our Monday gathering At the Well. Join me and the other ladies, as we conversate about the significance of our chit chat. Laurie Ann has a jam packed post about our words. It's well worth a visit.

Our Hostess: Laurie Ann at A Magnolia's Heartbeat

Today's Topic: What We Speak

Do the words you speak reflect your reverence for Christ?

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Prov 18:21
"Ho-eee Caaah-ow." My husband and I stopped in our tracks. Slowly our eyes met, our minds thinking in complete unison, There's no way. We both turned to see Madeline, all of 20 months, looking up at us with a little grin and expectant expression. Holy Cow? And used in context no less.

That's the beauty of kids. Of everything she's heard come out of our mouths, all the prayers, all the Bible stories, all the kind words, those 2 little words are what she tuned into! Some things just don't seem natural rolling off the inexperienced tongue of a 1 year old.

We went through the same thing with Olivia last year, granted she was already three, when she decided to make her most popular phrase "Oh My Gosh" -- without the /sh/ at the end. This sounded way too much like using God's name frivolously. Which led to the complete banning of this phrase in our house, plus a handful of others, much to our chagrin, as now she often corrects others with a compassionate, "Mr. So and So, we don't say gosh. It's not nice." (or dang it or crap or stupid or...)

In reality, they both learned their words from me! There's nothing like seeing your kids do a spontaneous impression of you, to show you the truth of how something really sounds or looks. * Flashback Alert * A favorite Olivia memory of mine took place when she was about 2. We were watching Women's figure skating and not surprisingly Troy opted out to leave us alone for some girl time. I glanced over to find Olivia stripped down to her diaper and meticulously placing kleenex on the floor. Full of wonder, I asked what she was doing. And as she carefully stepped onto her kleenex, in all seriousness she replied back, "I am skating." So I asked, Well why did you have to take your clothes off? She explained, "So I would look like them." I looked back at the TV to which she was pointing, and wouldn't you know it, that was how it really looked. * But I digress.

My point is that watching someone "do as you do" can sometimes be a reflection you just weren't ready to see. My girls have shown me that while "stupid, dang it and Holy Cow" may be the preferred substitutes for worse words, they certainly aren't the words that make God smile in delight with me.

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

Laurie Ann's question is relevant, Do the words I speak reflect reverence for Christ? To be certain, I had the bright idea of looking up the origin of the expression, "Holy Cow!" I was hoping to read something rather unsubstantial that might get me off the hook. That's not what I found.

Wikipedia sites 3 possible origins for this phrase: "Holy cow!" is an exclamation of surprise. It is widely believed to have stemmed from the Hindu belief of reincarnation. (Travelers commonly shout the expression as to not hit one of these "reincarnated creatures" while driving.) While others derive the origins back to the story from Exodus of the golden calf or the "Holy Cow." Worst of all, the Dictionary of American Slang (1960) states it may even be a euphemism for "Holy Christ!"

Suffice it to say, there are no redeeming qualities in the exclamation Holy Cow. And since it apparently pays homage to either Hinduism, idolatry, or misusing God's name, it will without doubt be joining the forbidden list in our house, along with all the others: "Mommy, we don't say...."

Would you consider your speech to be self-controlled and pure?

Our hostess brings up the story from Luke 6:43-45:
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart."

I wasn't sure what a bramble bush was, but I was certain I didn't want my words to be characterized as brambles. Just to be sure, I looked up bramble bush - any of various rough thorny shrubs or vines. A good heart can't produce thorny words.

This is how it works. When my heart is close to God's heart because I've been spending time in His word and in His presence, my words are self-controlled and pure. When my heart is not close to God, my words are not controlled, often from a lack of patience (or sometimes sleep), then they come out louder, meaner and thornier than I ever intended.

I want what I say to be self-controlled, because the Bible has some harsh things to say if it is not! James 1:26, "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless." I can DO everything I know to try to live a life that honors God, but if I don't control what I SAY, it will all be worthless. That's true because my words show the real state of my heart. Ouch.

There is a lot to be said for putting a little filter between my lips. What would change in my life if I took just a short moment to assess if the words about to leave my mouth would be better spoken, or best left unsaid? God's Word encourages us,
Understand this, my beloved brethren.
Let every man be quick to hear
[a ready listener],
slow to speak,
slow to take offense and to get angry.
James 1:19
How would it affect my husband if I took 30 seconds to let his words get past my ears before I had a quick response ready on my tongue? How would it affect my children if I took 30 seconds to let my anger subside before I started my discipline? How would it affect my friendships, if I took less than 30 seconds to think about what I am getting ready to share and if it would uplift her or not? How would life change for everybody if I just slowed down a bit?

Not only must my words be pure by filtering out anything thorny, they must also be pure by being authentic. When you have known God for some time, you become familiar with the kind of things that should be coming out of your mouth and the kind of things that shouldn't. Sometimes I am tempted to talk one way at church, and another way altogether at home. Anyone hear me on this one? There is a temptation to say the right things with your mouth but think something else in your heart.

The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.
Isaiah 29:13
I recently attended a video conference where Beth Moore was teaching. She pointed out that sometimes we go to church, we participate and even sing the songs of worship, but we hold our hearts back from God...this is not whole-hearted obedience. Maybe it's because we think God has disappointed us, and now we don't feel we can trust Him with all of our heart. Maybe we are fed up with all He has allowed in our life and decide to hold our heart back until things get a little easier. In either case, God knows the truth of the matter and knows this is not real worship.

As we wrap up around The Well, we are hit with one final question, "Do you find gossip and slander hard or easy to avoid?"

For the most part, I try to be conscious of talking negatively about others but I admit that I find myself having a hard time discerning what is gossip and what is just talking about life, especially with my close friends. I don't intend to be hurtful to anyone. But that line isn't always visible to me, even when I'm looking for it, and I'm afraid I cross it without realizing the dangerous territory I am walking into. Laurie Ann helped clarify, "Regarding gossip, what I'm working on is my motive for sharing. There are things that I do need to share and I run it through the self-control and purity checkpoint first, to see if it's just an utterance or something I really need to talk about and get feedback on." Back to that filter...I figure if I can consider it to be uplifting, I can probably determine it is not gossip. Does what I'm saying bring God glory in my life? If not, it might be best left unsaid.

Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18
My prayer today is to have a wise tongue that brings healing, in my family, in my marriage, in my relationships. Lord, create in me a heart that is pure so the words that come out are controlled and pleasing to You. Show me where I need to "bridle my tongue" so that my walk with you can be honest. Give me the strength to keep me from uttering reckless, piercing words. In Jesus' Name.


JesusRulzMe said...

Hi Rebecca,

We also agree that "Oh my gosh! is too close to using God's name in vain and others who hear us might mistake us for that. So we've always used "oh my goodness!" Which from a 3 year old little boy, sounds really, really cute! As a matter of fact, it sounded so cute, people used to ask where he got that from and why he spoke that way, so it was a great way to share Christ with others!

Who'da thunk it! Something as small as "oh my goodness" out of a 3 year old used to share the Gospel! AMAZING! God is awesome!

Thanks for sharing your heart with us! I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Bless you sister,

Kat said...

It's amazing how sometimes children have so much to teach us, those who are teaching them, isn't it? I find God uses my daughter to show me things he wants to teach me too. Thanks for sharing!

Laurie Ann said...

Truly awesome post! I love how children can teach us such powerful lessons. And I loved the lessons and wisdom found here in your post. I had no idea of the origins of "Holy Cow." And I love the idea of a filter...My prayer echoes your own. Thanks for sharing At the Well this morning!

Joyfull said...

Thank you for sharing today! Thank you for bringing great truth about our words and the importance of them with a touch of real life. I'm going to practice the "wait 30 seconds" in my life. Great suggestion.

LAURIE said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us AT THE WELL today. If we only realized earlier that others are watching us and imitating us (not just our kids either!) We have banned several words in our house - they are not bad words but to me they are too similiar or have the same meaning of a "bad" word. So we just don't say them! period. -Blessings, Laurie

by the way - you have two beautiful daughters.

lori said...

I just love coming here...what a REAL and honest post that you shared at the well...I read and read and it just rang so true to my life...

I had no idea of the holy cow't hear that the same way again.

Thanks for sharing with've brought such a wonderful message with you to the Well...

LauraLee Shaw said...

I learned so much here, and I love the "voice" of your post--so authentic and convincing. Great stuff!

Jenileigh said...

This was an awesome post. Could I get your permission to share this on one of my homeschooling boards if I link it back to you?