THE BAPTIST HERALD: April 2022

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Be Careful with Your Words

By Amber Spencer

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psa. 19:14).

Do you remember a time when you said something you shouldn’t have? Oh boy, our mouths can sure get us into trouble! Maybe it was an honest thought that came out rude. Maybe it was something you said impulsively. Maybe it was something inappropriate. Or maybe it was just something that didn’t reflect your faith. Whatever the reason was, we should focus on cleaning up or purifying the words that come out of our mouths. Our goal is to try to get those words to reflect our faith.

Purity and words are a big deal to Jesus. He explained what made people “unclean” in Matthew 15. Jews thought they had to do certain things to be “clean” — things like washing their hands and following certain rules about what they could and could not eat. The Pharisees questioned Jesus about it because the disciples did not cleanse their hands before eating. Jesus taught a powerful lesson in verses 10, 15-20 about purity. He said it wasn’t what we put in our mouths that made us dirty, it’s what comes out of our mouths. Jesus’ disciples were confused, so later, they asked him what He meant by that. Jesus said that the words we speak reflect what is in our hearts. So, if we are speaking in an unclean way, that means it comes from an unclean heart.

What are some things we can think that are considered unclean? Verse 19 has our answer — thoughts of lying, stealing, murder, adultery, sexual sin and saying bad things about others. Long before we ever say anything “unclean,” we’ve thought about it first.

It’s tough to always talk in a way that reflects our faith. We get hurt or betrayed. We fail or fall short of our goals. We get angry or offended. We feel insecure and insignificant. There are so many instances that can impact the words that come out of our mouths. How can we clean up our words? Being quick to confess our sins and reaching out to Jesus for help is a great beginning, but the most powerful way we can change our speech is just to spend time with the Lord — reading His Word, praying, listening to praise and worship music and deepening our relationship with God in a way that impacts our words.

Writing down Psa. 19:14 is another key to changing our words. Consider it as a short prayer: “Lord, help my words and thoughts please you. Save me from saying something I shouldn’t. Let my words reflect my love for you.” Think of this prayer as one way that can help us clean up or purify our hearts. Focusing on being more honest, kind, encouraging, positive and trustworthy will help us have hearts of integrity.

Then keep each other accountable. Try an Honesty Challenge with your kiddos. Challenge them to tell the truth for 24 hours! Challenge your older kiddos to complete a short, daily Bible study over our focus verse (Psa. 9:14). Have them report back to you daily and watch them grow in God’s Word!

“I hope my words and thoughts please you. Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me” (Psa. 19:14 ICB).

The Field is White for Harvest

By Jenae Polok

My husband recently preached a sermon from John 4:35-36, “…the field is white for harvest.” We’ve heard it many times, but this time he interviewed some farmers that talked about the work of really getting ready for the harvest.

It may have been one of my favorite sermons because I am mesmerized by the process of farming. I get excited about harvest time! I know part of that is tied to childhood memories. My brother and I had the best time with my dad when the soybean crop was ready. Nothing says fun like a big metal straw and a freshly picked soybean to start a soy-bean fight with two pesky boys. Of course, the corn harvest in Southeast New Mexico was my best farming experience ever. There’s nothing quite like fresh field corn for every meal while it was in peak season. My Uncle Dal was a man that had a passion for farming, and nothing brought him more happiness than taking you out to pick corn and sit on the back of his pick-up truck just shucking and talking.

Oh, that man — my Uncle Dal… what an amazing farmer he was! I remember the year he moved from New Mexico farming to purchasing land in Brazil and farming untouched soil. There was a life, a joy, an excitement like I had never seen in him. Untouched land that turned into a farmer’s paradise — it reminded me of the excitement missionaries bring home when they have been to unchurched foreign regions. Like their slideshow presentations, my uncle’s stories and his pictures made him shine brighter than his New Mexico sun. He helped local men get dairies going, then he grew the feed to supply the dairy farms. He had a vast knowledge of dairy farming to go along with his knowledge of crop growing. He was one of the smartest and most hard-working men I had ever met in my life. I don’t think there was a horse he couldn’t tame, a fish he couldn’t catch, a crop he couldn’t grow and a piece of machinery he couldn’t fix. While he was gifted in all those areas, nothing brought him happiness like when his crops began to sprout. He could show you the soil and tell you just what it needed. I think he looked at each little plant just to make sure it was growing just right. He wasn’t just a farmer by trade, he was a farmer by heart. Every time I hear the passage from John 4:35-36, I think of him. He was so prepared and always ready for the harvest. There was an excitement deep within his soul about that farming process.

I often reflect on his farming ways and think how I want to be a “spiritual farmer” like he was in real life. He tended to his soil and was careful and meticulous about his planting. I often wonder what spiritual growth around me would be like if I were more meticulous and careful in my planting of the spiritual seeds. He was so intentional! If only I paid attention to each little sprout as he did — my spiritual plants would grow better and stronger. Yes, I want to tend the spiritual soil the way my uncle tended the earthly soil. He truly knew how to help things grow.

The other life lesson he left me was that you never stop farming… you continue to look forward to the harvest. He battled life-threatening cancer for well over 20 years. Each time it came back doctors didn’t think he could survive it, but he overcame it. The doctors even said they wished they knew what his secret was because he just kept going and beating the odds. After each round of chemotherapy or radiation, he was literally back in the field that very day.

I recently had someone tell me, “I have served my time, it’s time for others to work.” I moved quietly along so as not to reveal my true hot button. Once again, Uncle Dal’s face came to mind. You see, he was literally on his death bed… I mean a hospital bed in the living room, on oxygen, just two days before God would call him home, and something went wrong on the farm. He had my Uncle Mike and Cousin Christopher carry him to the piece of machinery. They braced him up so he could fix the machinery and instruct others on what needed to be done next. He wanted to make sure his crops kept getting watered. Never did I hear that old farmer say, “I’ve served my time.” He just kept working.

His farming life and drive to prepare for his earthly harvest will forever inspire me to “look to the fields that are white for harvest” in a deeper, spiritually excited manner. I guess Uncle Dal’s approach to farming made that Scripture come to life for me. I want to spiritually farm the way he did on a daily basis with such conviction, passion and work ethic that reminds me that you’re never too old, too sick or too worn out to keep planting the seeds and preparing for the harvest.