This is Chaplain Bill’s space where he is able to articulate his views on theological, biblical, and philosophical matters. Chaplain Bill has also recently published his own book, Blue-Collar Believer, available in hard copy or for eBook purchase. Also visit his blogsite and website. The views expressed by Chaplain Bill, and other co-writers, are not necessarily the views of website owner, James Bishop.
Happy New Year readers and welcome to 2017! I wonder just how many people are going to still be accidentally typing 2016 as the date until they manage to somehow deprogram themselves from doing so.
Over New Year’s weekend my family and I were all stricken with a horrible 24 hour stomach bug. I thought it was tough when only one person gets sick and needs to be attended to but when everyone is experiencing it at the same time the challenges are massive. Especially when it involves the wife, and our 4 year old son, 7 year old daughter, and 9 month year old son! Understandably it was a tough weekend but we all made it through in the end. My wife and I have sanitized the house room by room in hope to kill all of the bacteria that was left behind.
We all know what it is like to feel sick. It really seems to put one in a negative mood and one certainly does not feel like himself. You are unmotivated, grumpy, and all you want to do is rest and be left alone. The evening following this episode I had spent the afternoon shoving around the kitchen furniture so I could vacuum and clean the floor. After I was finished that I cooked my daughter a pizza in the oven. But if the day wasn’t already bad enough when I went to cut the pizza the plate slipped off of the counter. And lo and behold – the entire pizza flipped up into the air, and made its way onto the newly fresh mopped and clean floor! Needless to say there was cheese, tomato sauce, and pizza dough EVERYWHERE; even over our lovely the white wood cabinets! It felt like it happened in slow motion with me standing there helplessly with my mouth wide open powerless to do anything about it.
It reminded me of the scene in the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” based on Jean Shepherd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.” I think we all know the film very well, especially since 1997 a marathon of the film has aired annually airing twelve consecutive airings of the film on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each year.
The scene I am referring to is when Ralphie is helping his father change a flat tire. As his father hands him nuts and bolts putting them inside of the hubcap that Ralphie is holding, his father accidentally knocks it out of Ralphie’s hands in an upward motion, it goes up into the air, and everything ends up lying in the dark street.
In slow motion Ralphie says, “Ohhhh fuuudge!”Although he did not say “Fudge.” He said, as the movie goes, “THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word.” His father just looked at him very stunned, and we all remember what happens next.
Anyway, when I knocked the pizza onto the freshly mopped floor, I accidentally blurted out a “not so nice profane word,” that my daughter overheard. She was in disbelief when I said it, as was I, because I do not use profane words regularly, especially in front of my children. I think from being sick and moody, my carnal nature took over with the emotions of the event, but needless to say, she and I were both very surprised by my unfortunate word choice. She immediately blurted out, “Ooohhh, Daddy! You said a bad word! I thought you were a Christian?”
This deeply saddened me because in the eight years of her entire life, I have done my best to be a good Christian dad, and this was the first time she ever heard me use profanity, and now because of this accidental “slip up,” she is wondering how I could possibly call myself a Christian?
But before I get into detail on how I handled this matter, I wanted to tell you about an incident that happened roughly 4 years ago. I was going to share this in the book I wrote “Blue Collar Believer,” but due to spacing issues, I had to leave it out. Who knows, it just might be in “Blue Collar Believer II”, if the Lord permits. Anyhow, a pastor friend of mine somewhat went off of the “deep end,” and began to incorporate profanity in his sermons; he did not see anything wrong with it, and he even seemed to endorse the use of curse words even if one were a Christian. This deeply troubled me and I felt obligated to confront him about it. I told him that the use of profanity was the first thing that the Holy Spirit worked out of me when I first became a Christian. It was part of letting go of the “old man” and putting on the “new.” Every time I cussed I felt “convicted” in my heart. No one had to tell me it was wrong, the Holy Spirit did that, and it was clear that the Scriptures did not support the practice of vulgar language (ex. Ephesians 4:29; 1 Peter 3:10; James 3:9-12)
In James, making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and cursing come from his/her mouth. Nor is it characteristic for us to praise God on one hand and curse our brothers on the other. This, too, is uncharacteristic of a true believer.
Jesus also explains that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts, and sooner or later the evil in the heart will come out via the mouth through curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God and praise for Him love for others will pour out. In this way our speech will always indicate what is truly within our hearts.
As I gently rebuked my Christian friend and pastor, he did not take what I said to heart. Since he knew that I did not hold any formal education nor a seminary degree and that I was just an autodidact (self-taught), who was I to rebuke him? He insisted that his message was directed to the world that is lost and perishing. He tried to justify his position stating that the “curse” words that he used were so prevalent in society that they are now heard on network television. He believes that God had called him to preach in this way now because profanity was the best language that could be understood by secular society. But nowhere in the Bible are any of the cuss words that he uses, and all sin must be counted as the same.
Our dialogue continued for a while, but it felt like it was going nowhere because he would always hold his ground saying that his message came from the Holy Spirit, that God knew what He was doing by using him as a vessel, that he must have faith that he was called and anointed, and that, although his message will not reach everyone, it will reach those that God wants it to reach. He trusted God to bring His message to him and that he will deliver it properly to those who need it. He also actually “congratulated” me on being one of the first to so vehemently oppose him. He then said that I was obviously set in my ways and not in need of any message from him, therefore, he was going to refrain from any further discussion. He was also in hope that this didn’t hurt or offend me, and that I could just sign him off as a nut and get on with my life and ministry. At this point our dialogue ended, but my prayers for him continued.
Then four years later, on July 19th of last year to be exact, he contacted me to wish me a Happy 40th birthday. It caught me a little off guard if I am to be honest. He went on to say, “Also, I’m sorry for my offensive behavior. I’m sorry I grieved your heart. My birthday present to you is to let you know that your word did not fall on deaf ears. We all struggle in this life, especially in ministry. The Holy Spirit has dealt with me. Happy Birthday!”
It’s truly amazing how God works. He works not in our timing, since we are imperfect, but always in His perfect timing. As a result I continue to learn to trust Him more and more each day.
Now here I was, standing in my kitchen with my daughter and I had just used a profane word, a word that she has never heard me ever say until then and there. I felt very dirty, the Holy Spirit convicted me on the spot, and my daughter had now seen that I was an imperfect Christian. What was I to do now? I said, “My love. You know that Daddy does not use words like that. I feel bad that you heard me say it, but I am not sorry that you did. Although this is a word Christians should not say, I will ask for forgiveness from God, He will forgive me, and I will do my best not to say things like that again. I now ask you to forgive me for saying it.” She asked, “I forgive you. But why are you not sorry for saying it?”
I said, “Because you now can see that although I am a Christian, I love Jesus with all of my heart, but from time to time I will fail, which makes me imperfect and this is why I need Jesus so much. We don’t become Christians because we are perfect, we follow Jesus because we are imperfect, and He is perfect. When you do something wrong, what do you do?”
She replied, “I feel bad and I tell you and mommy that I am sorry and I won’t do it again. I tell Jesus the same.”
This really warmed my heart, “Well Jesus forgives you and so do we, but you mess up again sometimes don’t you?”
She said, “Yeah.”
“Well I do too,” I said, “I am not perfect, and I thank God that He will forgive me. Does that make sense?”
“Yes,” she responded and said, “Even though you said a bad word, it’s not okay, but I forgive you.”
From the mouth of babes! We learn new things each and every day even as God works through our children! My daughter on her own free volition became a Christian last year. And in honor of this event in just a couple of weeks on January 16th (a year anniversary of her becoming a Christian) I will be baptizing her. What a truly exceptional honor for me to be there to baptize her!
Until next time, God bless.
William H Schnakenberg IV