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Showing posts with label cussin'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cussin'. Show all posts

Monday, May 24, 2021


If you’ve missed any of the messages in this series, I invite you to go to our church website——and scroll down toward the bottom of the page where you will see links to all our past sermons.  You can listen to them on our podcast or read them on our blog.

Throughout this series, I’ve been telling you that our words matter.  We were made in the image of the God who created the entire universe with words.  God said, “Let there be light.”  And there was light.  “Let there be land and water and plants and animals.”  And there was land and water and plants and animals.”  And God made us in His image—to be like Him.  That means our words are powerful too.


But a terrible thing happened.  Humanity turned their backs on God.  We walked away from the One who is the source of life and love and goodness.  We chose our own path—and it has become a path of darkness and death and selfishness and hate.  And so everything in our life has become rotten and corrupt.  Even the good things in our life—like love and joy and pleasure—have soured until they taste like a grape that looks and smells good in your hand but is rotten and sour when your put it in your mouth to chew.


And so, the words we speak—which should bring blessings and life—often brings curses and death instead.

James 3:6-12
And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

The Powerful But Uncontrollably Tongue

As a kid, I loved to read my older brothers collection of X-Men comic books.  One of the X-Men was a character named Cyclops.  Cyclops shoots a concussive force that looks like lasers from his eyes.  The force is about two Gigawatts of power (or the energy of a large nuclear powerplant). The drawback is, Cyclops can’t control his optic blast.  He must wear special glasses to contain his power vision.  (In the picture, you can see Cyclops touching his visor to release his optic blast against a villain.)  

I saw an X-Men movie once where all the heroes were fighting the villains and one of the bad guys knocked Cyclops' visor off.  His optic blast began spraying out, indiscriminately destroying everything in its path.  Cyclops had to close his eyes to turn it off, but then of course he couldn't see, which was a terrible handicap in the fight.

What do comic book heroes have to do with Christianity?  Well, Cyclops’ uncontrollable optic blast is an image of the uncontrollable human tongue.  Our words are incredibly powerful, but also so hard to control.  Sometimes I feel like the only way I can keep my tongue from destroying is to keep my mouth shut!


The Apostle James says people can tame all kinds of animals, but who can tame the tongue?  And it’s true.  People are amazing.  We’ve figured out ways to tame and train horses, lions, tigers, and elephants.  You can even go to Sea World and watch trainers directing Killer Whales. (Now think about that.  They’re not just whales; they’re killer whales! And people have them jumping through hoops and riding on their backs through the water!)


But when it comes to the human tongue, people can’t keep their own words under control. 

I was never one to use a lot of foul language while I was growing up.  My mother taught me better. However, when I was in college, I worked the graveyard shift stocking shelves at a grocery store for a time.  There were few customers  in the store during those hours and guys on the stock crew had a habit of using terrible language.  Though I wasn't given to cussin', I found their language was rubbing off on me.  Soon, I was cussin' too.  Even after I left the store, I had developed a habit that took effort to curtail that bad habit.


Cussin' is quite common in America in 2021.  Think for a minute what we are doing.  In the south, we call it cussin’ when people use foul language.  Cussin’ is slang for cursing.  What is a curse?  According to the dictionary, a curse is “a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.”  Cursing is what witches do, using black magic to invoke evil power to hurt people.

People often think about all the evil and darkness in our world and wonder, "Why is there so much suffering and death? Why do little kids get cancer and die before they've even have a chance to live? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is our world so screwed up?" When I stop and listen to the careless curses flying freely people’s mouths all day long, I can’t help but think it must have a very negative effect on our world.

Words are powerful.  God created the world with words and we are created in God’s image—patterned after Him.  Our words matter too.  They can create or they can destroy.  So many times we are uttering curses, without even paying attention to the words we say.  I know these negative words have a tangible effect on people’s attitudes.  Offensive words and profanities are strong language designed to pack a verbal punch.  They get people’s attention and put them on edge.  I also wonder how all these curses invite dark spiritual forces into our world and into our lives—even if unintentionally.

We know air pollution and water pollution can have ill effects on our spiritual health.  What about spiritual pollution?  We can't study it with science like we can study other physical forms of pollution, but could polluting the spiritual realm with so many curses have ill effects our our spiritual health?  I can't help think it must.

Meanwhile, prayer and blessings are on the decline.  How many people still pray every day? How many say a blessing before their meal?  And we are so quick to criticize and slow to offer encouragment.  Our words tear down and curse when they ought build up and bless.


Jesus Saves
Christians have a saying, “Jesus saves.”  He saves us from sin and death.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  But Jesus saves us for more than just heaven.  Jesus saves us for this life too.  Jesus can change the way you act and even how you speak.  He can make you a blessing instead of a curse.


The Xman, Cyclops, wears a visor to control and contain his incredibly powerful optic blast.  Christians welcome Jesus in their heart to tame their uncontrollable behavior and their tongue.


Jesus said in Mark 7:20-22, “20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.”


The human heart is full of disgusting wickedness and from the human heart flows all kinds of filthy behavior and language.  When Jesus comes to live in our heart, he begins cleaning us up from the inside out.  If we will allow him, Jesus will throw out all the evil desires and thoughts.  He will disinfect all the filth that coats the walls of our heart.  It’s a process that takes time—maybe even a whole lifetime.  Eventually, what flows out from our hearts becomes more and more godly—like Jesus.  Since he is living in us, our actions become more Christlike.


But we have to cooperate.  Jesus won’t force us to change.  We have to be willing.  We have to take our spiritual medicine and do the spiritual exercise that nurtures the change Jesus brings.


Tips to Quite Cussin’
Many of our spiritual habits that need to change are centered around our language. We cannot control our tongues, but Jesus can.

1. Ask Jesus to help you.  We can't fix our own problem, but Jesus can and he wants to .  If you ask Him, Jesus will help you control your tonge.

2. Ask a friend to hold you accountable. There few things more effective in helping change yhour behavior than having a good friend hold you to your commitments.  If you are tryien to clean up your language, tell a friend and ask them to hold you accountable.  Of course, sometimes our friends also use bad language.  Be honest with your friends and tel them you are trying to change the way you speak.  Ask them to honor your choice by refraining from bad language as well.  In doing so , you may bring new life to them as well.  If they refuse to honor your decision, it may be time to change your friends.  Do you really need friends who don't respect your choices or wish to help you grow as a person?  Are they really good friends?

3. Find some replacement words. I know this sounds silly, but say "shoot", "dagnabit", of "frick" instead of those curse words you shouldn't say.  Yes, you’ll sound ridiculous. But better to sound ridiculous than to spray out curses.  And the fact you sound ridiculous may help you with the next tip, because our ultimate goal is to change the whole way we think and speak.

4. Think differently. The goal is for curses to not even come to mind.  There will always be times when you pinch a finger in  a door or stub your toe.  But those don't have to be times when you spew curses.  Wouldn't it be great if a curse didn't even come to mind in those moments.  Ask Jesus to help you change the whole way you think so you're more and more like Him.


The ungodly bring curses and death.  But 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”


Christians have the incredible power to bring goodness and light.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  All the families of the earth will be blessed through us.  And God’s Kingdom will come upon the earth.  Therefore, let us surrender control of our hearts and our tongues to the Lord Jesus Christ that He may use them to speak life into our world.


Prayer of Confession and Pardon (adapted from the Prayer of Confession UMH 890)

I invite you to use this prayer (or your own) to confess your sins to the Lord and make a commitment to let Him lead you to be more and more like Christ.

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved You with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in Your will, and walk in Your ways, to the glory of Your name. Amen

And now, I would like to offer God's pardon with my own prayer for you.

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Proverbs 16:27-28
27 Scoundrels create trouble; their words are a destructive blaze.  28 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.


Which words do you think are the absolute worst? A lot of church people would argue “damn” is a bad word and GD is the absolute worst (even though both are in the Bible).  Using God’s name to damn someone or something is strong language.  Others might say the F-word is the absolute worst—and for many years it was banned from TV and movies even though Ret Butler could tell Scarlett O’Hara in 1939 “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in the major motion picture “Gone with the Wind”.  However, if you polled the nation as a whole in 2021, you would likely find the absolute worst words you can use are racial slurs.  GD and F-bombs are dropped all the time—even on television—but saying the N-word will get you fired or even ruin your career. 

100 years ago, wrong or right, the N-word was used freely and openly by people of all colors in social settings.  Even US presidents like Woodrow Wilson, Lindon B Johnson, Harry Truman, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt unashamedly used the N-word.  It just wasn’t considered a bad word 60 years ago.[i]  Things are different today.  Celebrities like Paul Dean have had their careers disrupted or ruined because of the N-word.  Even Madonna—who made a career of scandalous, unapologetically provocative behavior—had to issue an apology a few years ago for using the N-word. 

In the 1600s, the foulest words you could use were swear words associated with God’s name.  Swearing by "God’s bones" or "God’s blood" was considered extremely taboo and not to be used in polite company.  Such foul language was fit only for sailors and pirates.  (Incidentally, the term “bloody” in the UK, as in “You bloody bastard!” may have descended from the swear “By God’s blood!” which eventually shortened to “bloody” and is still considered quite offensive in the England.)

One term we use today to “pretty up” our cussin’ is the word “darn”.  Where did the word darn come from?  Do we say it just because it sounds sort of like damn?  Darn actually evolved down through the centuries from a phrase used in 16th century swearing, “Eternal damnation”. “Eternal damnation” got shortened to “tarnation” (used by miners and cowboys out west: “Tarnation, these misquitos are eating me alive!”).  Then, “tarnation” was shortened again to just “tarn” and then that became “darn”.  What started out as one of the most offensive things you could say in the 16th century has now become a rather inert word that might be used by Ned Flanders sort of folk.  Can you imagine Ret Butler telling Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a darn.”  It just doesn't have the same punch.

Putting Pearl Earrings in a Pigs Ear
We like to pretty up our words to make them more palatable.  For instance, we don’t eat pig; we eat pork.  Pig is English; pork comes from French and Latin.  I guess pork taste better to us than pig.  The same rule applies for hamburgers.  We don’t eat cow; we eat beef because beef was originally the French/Latin word and so “100% all beef patty” sounds more appetizing than “100% all cow patty”.  I guess if you give food a fancy name, it’s easier to swallow.  Snails become escargot. Squid becomes calamari.  It’s the same animal, but if you give it a French name on the menu, people will pay top dollar for it.  If you call it by the English animal name, it's fish bait.

And that brings me to another form of foul language people try to pretty up—gossip.

Gossip is one of the vilest forms of speech that comes from human lips, but—ironically—it is the one that’s most common and accepted in polite society.  If you come into a church dropping F-bombs and GD, even the most accommodating congregation will soon escort you out the door.  However, gossip is often runs wild in churches.  This despite the extensive prohibitions against gossip throughout the Bible.

Leviticus 19:16 - Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.

Proverbs 11:13 - A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

Proverbs 16:28 - A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 17:4 - Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.

Proverbs 20:19 - A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.

Proverbs 25:23 - As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!

Proverbs 26:20 - Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

I could go on, but it would take too long.

Just based off the number of times the Bible speaks negatively about gossip, you would think Christians would be far more concerned about gossip than cuss words.  I think Jesus and the apostles would be.

In Romans, the Apostle what Paul listed gossip right alongside some of the most despicable sins.

Romans 1:29-31
Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.

Notice, Paul lists gossip among such despicable sins as murder and hating God.  Wow! 

You need to understand, destructive, sinful, disgusting language is not limited to so called “foul language”.  When people gossip, they are speaking in ways repugnant to God—even if they use polite acceptable words. Gossip is hurtful and offensive and God hates it.

Definition of Gossip
The dictionary definition of gossip is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”  That’s the technical definition, but gossip is sneaky language that easily disguises itself in our conversations.  If we don’t clearly understand the nature of gossip, we may engage in gossip without even knowing we are doing so.  Also understand that not everything people label as gossip is gossip. Sometimes, people are just ashamed and if you say anything about their shameful conduct, they will accuse you of gossip.  Sometimes we do need to talk about each other's business; that's part of what living together in authentic community means. 

It's important to now what is and what isn't gossip. So, here are seven questions that may help you decide if it's gossip.

Is it Gossip?
1. How Certain am I that the information is factually correct?
If it's not true or only partially true and you are spreading it, you are a gossip.  Don't do it.  Sometimes, however, we don't intend to gossip.  Maybe we're
not sure if something is true and we're talking to people because we're trying to find out.  We may even say something like, "I'm not sure if this is true, but I heard..." Maybe we are hoping to get more information, but that's not usually the way it plays out.  The person we ask that question may begin spreading the information as truth.  The next thing you know, everyone's accepted your initial question as a fact.  If you are trying to find if the gossip you heard is true, then go to the source--the person the gossip is about.  They will set you straight.  Otherwise, it may be best to keep your mouth shut.

2. Was the info given in confidence?
If someone shared something with you in confidence (or assumed confidence), then it's a terrible form of gossip to share that with others. Deep meaningful relationships are only possible if people know they can trust you to keep a confidence. Sometimes people need to share something with you and ask for help or maybe even just vent. They need to trust you won't turn around and share that with others. One reason gossip is so evil is it erodes our ability to have deep, meaningful relationships with other people. We end up angry, hurt, and isolated and the whole community it damaged.

3. Is this important enough to share?
Not everything you hear si important enough to share.  Just because something is interesting, fascinating, or juicy doesn't make it important.  Is someone's life or spiritual/emotional/physical health at jeopardy if you remain silent?  Is it truly important or are you just wanting the enjoyment of talking about this situation?  Be honest.

4. Am I telling the story to build others up in Christ? 
Sometimes we do need to talk about each others business when it means building each other up in Christ. In the Church, your business is my business if it is about growing in Christ.  But gossip is not about building each other up in Christ.  Gossip is about derive our entertainment at the expense of someone else's situation and it's distrusting.  I can often tell when someone is about to share gossp with me; they get a certain gleam in their eye.  I don't like to gossip, but I love to eat a good steak.  I get a gleam in my eye when I'm about to eat a juicy ribeye.  When someone who loves gossip is about to share it, you can almost see the same gleam in their eye.  They've got something juicy to tell and they can't wait to devour it.  It's disgusting.  Most church people would agree pornography is distrusting.  I want everyone to understand that gossip is just as distgusting.

5. Am I telling this story to protect others in Christ?
As I said before, it's not necessarily gossip if keeping quiet could truly hurt someone.  However, we need to be honest in answering this question.  Are we truly trying to protect someone or are we making an excuse to give us the opportunity to have the pleasure of talking about someone else's business?

6. What is my motive for telling this particular person about it?
Although we sometimes need to talk to about each others business, we don't necessarily need to talk to everyone about each others business.  Why do you want to tell this particular person about this situation?  Are they the right person to talk to?  Do they really need to know?  Be very careful who you bring into the conversation.  Be clear when you are speaking in confidence and expect people to keep your confidence.

7. Have I prayed about it?
Ask God whether you should talk or remain silent.  Consider: if Jesus were sitting in the room with you during the conversation, would he be pleased with what you're saying?  The fact is, Jesus is there.  He is not pleased when we gossip.

If you are prone to gossip, everyone you talk to likely knows you will talk the same way about them when they're not around. You don't want to be known as a gossip. People want to feel like you have their back, not that you're always talking behind their back.

Gossip is poison—even though it taste sweet. It destroys the person who shares it, harms people who hear it, and hurts people about whom we gossip. Gossip is a deadly evil.

If you are more concerned about “cussing” in the world outside the church than you are about gossip in the church, then you need to check yourself. You need to pray to the Lord for forgiveness for the times you engage in the evil of gossip. You need to repent and make a commitment to clean up your foul language or else you may be in danger of eternal damnation.

How we use words matters. Our words can either build up and bring life or tear down and bring death. Let us pray our words bring life instead of death.

Father, forgive us for using foul language, especially when disgusting gossip was disguised as pretty words.  Help us to be honest, faithful, gracious, and loving when we talk to and about one another.  Help our most important motive be love and to build one another up in Christ.  Father, You created the whole universe with words; You spoke and it was.  You made us in Your image and gave us powerful words to speak.  Forgive us for deforming Your image by speaking words that bring darkness and death.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we may speak words of light and life from this day forward. Amen.