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Words that Open Unwanted Doors
Scripture: Proverbs 2:12-22
Track 8 of 11 in the Life-Changing Words series
Running time: 30 minutes, 37 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, May 29, 2005
9th sermon in an 11 part series
"Words that Open Unwanted Doors"
"Life-Changing Words"
(Proverbs 2: 12-22)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

I'd like to invite you to join me in a bit of a mental journey. This is something that I've been pondering for a long time and have never been able to quite get my hands or my mind around what I want to say. So I thought maybe we could just kinda take a little trip through this information together and, if it makes any sense when we're done, then that will be a plus. If not, some time will have past and the service will be near over anyway.

The 1960's were a turbulent time. I suppose everybody thinks that their particular era has more going on in it than anybody else's, but, at least this much is true. It was a time of great changing values. There was a lot happening. There was a song that came out by Brian Wilson sung by the Beach Boys back in 1966. It's acclaimed as one of his better songs. He wrote, literally, dozens of them back in those days. It's a kinder, gentler song than some of the things that are written these days but it says something, that at least, I think, gets us started into this particular topic. The name of the song is Wouldn't It Be Nice. If I were a singer, we would sing it. I'm not. I'll save you that heartache. The words were:

Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long
And wouldn't it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong
You know it's gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together
Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new
And after having spent the day together
Hold each other close the whole night through
Happy times together we've been spending
I wish that every kiss was never ending
Wouldn't it be nice
Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do
We could be married
And then we'd be happy
Wouldn't it be nice

(it's a bit of an idealistic sort of tone isn't it? Listen to the last stanza.)

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only make it worse to live without it
But let's talk about it
Wouldn't it be nice.

To talk about it only makes it worse but let's talk about it. There's something in the power of conversation, the power of words, to help create a reality. Now I recognize that it is an extremely controversial topic if you follow it out there in the world of the academic. People debate this all the time.

Sitting on my desk across town, where it's not supposed to be, is a children's book. It's supposed to be siting here with me. But it forgot to come. It's called "Heather Has Two Mommies". It's a fascinating tale. I happened to have the 10th Anniversary Edition where some of the anatomically correct material has been removed to make it more palatable for most parents.

It is a delightful children's story told very well. It's about diversity in families. It's about a group of children who are talking about their particular home situation. There is the traditional home and there is the single parent home and there is the adoptive parent home and there is the home where there is a child who goes to spend his weekends with his father because it's a divorce situation.

But the premise of the book is that Heather has two mommies. This is a home in which two women live together as lesbians and they are raising Heather as their child. It was acclaimed, on the one hand, as one of the best books to come out in 1989 establishing the ground work for telling children stories to help people understand the issue of diversity and that it's okay to live in a situation that is not your typical "Leave-it-to-Beaver" kind of home.

It was, of course, on the other hand, received with incredible problem, attempts at censorship, taken out of public curricula. It was dealt with in the way that you would expect it to be dealt with among many people as being promotional of a particular agenda.

I learned about it from Erin Schaeffer who wrote a paper on children's literature at Illinois State University this year and tried to make a case for whether or not children's literature describes reality or determines reality. The bottom line of her paper was "I don't know". Nor do I! What I do know is this, that when you talk about something, you begin to open the door to the possibilities of that being a reality.

And so I read some things this week about some of the songs that came out of the gangs to rap materials about cop killing and all of the difficulty that it created and the censorship that was accused, and Capital Records and others pulling those songs from the market because they felt like they instigated activity. I don't know whether they do or not. What I do know is that our conversation, our words, are important.

Lynn Daly shared this story with me this ah, some weeks ago. I found this both humorous and fascinating and then I'll let you add whatever other descriptors you would like.

This took place at their home where their children were playing house, not an uncommon sort of thing to do in children's worlds, right? Let me just read it to you.

Lynn says, "My 8 and 5 year old had friends over this past weekend. They were playing house. Alyssa was married to Ben and they had two boys. I went outside to check on them and Alyssa and George, (the child), were not living in the playhouse." I said, "Ben, why isn't Alyssa in the playhouse?" He said, "We got a divorce and she has the child." Ben had continued to tell me they had a fight (pretend of course) and didn't want to live together anymore. He was living with the other son. "I walked away shocked and laughing." "As I thought about it more I thought how sad this situation is and isn't really funny."

I found that an absolutely fascinating tale. Things have become "normal", part of every day experience.

Talking about "stuff" opens the doors to certain kinds of reality. In fact that's true even of what people would call "self-talk". The kind of stuff that goes on internally as we digest things and we think it through in kind of dialog fashion in our own minds.

It's really rather interesting if you come at this kind of backwards, it sounds something like this. If a counselee comes in to talk to you in a counseling setting and there are certain things they refuse to talk about, you also know that those are the very things they refuse to do anything about.

This is a rather cumbersome quotation but I want to read a portion of it to you anyway, because it begins to, I think, get out what I'm trying to say.

"Words are structures, and when thoughts form a structure they become more clear. . . Words are also public. By translating thoughts into words a person commits himself and lets other know what he thinks and where he stands. With such a public commitment he creates dimensions in which to function, boundaries beyond which to operate, and an external reality. Thoughts from the inside transferred to words on the outside offer new opportunities for understanding."

Now, let me translate that for you into last Sunday morning. Do you remember when Dan was talking about his decision three years ago to stop drinking? Do you remember the first thing he did? He talked about it to his friends. Because talking about it brought it into a new dimension of reality.

Here's what I'm trying to say to you. That talking about some things opens the door to doing those things.

So that you don't think that I'm completely "WACKO" (well, maybe this won't help that, maybe you'll think that anyway). Think about this story from Scripture. There is a couple who is childless. They desperately want to have a child. God honors them with a son, but says, you will raise your son as a Nazirite. The story is in Judges 13-16. A Nazirite was a child reared in commitment to the Lord who never cut his hair, never touched a grapevine or wine and a (oh, it seems like there was one other thing. I'm gonna forget which the other one was), can't touch anything dead. Samson was born. He grew up. We'll not go through his whole story. But along the way he manages to violate every one of his Nazirite vows except cutting his hair. And he is, as you know, the strongest man in the world. Which we will not debate because frankly there is no way to prove it one way or the other.

But you remember when he falls in love with a lady by the name of Delilah. I find it interesting that late night talk radio always has a Delilah. Huh! I wonder what the connection might be? Because Samson's conversations are late night conversations with Delilah. She, while she pretends to love him, really only wants to be able to profit from him. And so, the Philistines would like to capture him. And so she is pleading with him; "How is it that you are so utterly strong?"

So we pick the story up in the book of Judges 16. Listen to the way these verses start. This occurs at least four times in this text. So Delilah said to Samson. Hear the conversation. So Delilah said. So Delilah said. So Delilah said and every time Delilah said, Samson answered. It's conversation. It's words. Judges 16:6 says, Delilah said to Sampson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued."

Samson answered, "If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs. . . . .of course that wasn't true.

Judges 16:10 Delilah said to Sampson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied."

He said, "If anyone ties me securely with new ropes. . . . well, that didn't work either.

Judges 16:13 Delilah said to Sampson, "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied."

He replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my head into a fabric. . . . .well, that was also not true.

Judges 16:15 sounds so vaguely like being a teenager, Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? Now I know none of you guys in this room have ever tried that line on anybody. "If you loved me". So she nagged according to Judges 16:16 until he was tired to death. Unfortunately that turned out to be more literal than he probably ever understood.

Judges 16:17 So he told her - everything. Hear the conversation? She asks, he answers. She asks, he answers. The more he talked, the more vulnerable he became.

Let me ask you to come with me to a text over in Proverbs 2. We are making our way to where I want to go but it's taking a little longer than I thought it was going to, to get there. I hope you're still on the journey with me here.

Proverbs 2 I'm going to read it from the New Living Translation but it will sound vaguely like what you have in front of you.

My child, listen to me and treasure my instructions. You understand that the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon who had a whole plethora of women in his life and made a mess out of things. In the first six or seven chapters are his specific instructions to his sons not to make the same mistakes that he made.

My child, listen to me and treasure my instructions. Tune your ears to wisdom. Concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding, search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure, then you will understand what it is to fear the Lord and you will gain knowledge of God.

For the Lord grants wisdom, from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.

He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful. Then you will understand what is right, just and fair and you will know how to find the right course of action every time.

For wisdom will enter your heart. Knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

Now listen carefully to this particularly. Wisdom will save you from evil people from those whose speech is corrupt.

These people turned from right ways to walk down dark and evil paths. They rejoice in doing wrong. They enjoy evil as it turns things upside down. What they do is crooked. Their way is perverse and then he begins to walk through how it will protect you from seductive women. Their speech is an issue.

Words have enormous power to "open doors".

You remember Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and "Open Sesame". . .and the door came open.

I'd like for you to just think with me. All I'm trying to do is ask you to think with me about what the implications are of the things that we allow ourselves to engage in our conversations.

Back in the 1960's I remember vividly in my father's bar a song that came out by Tammy Wynette. Now back in those days I didn't have a wife who wouldn't let me listen to country music. Not that I really want to now, but back then I had no excuse. Tammy Wynette's song for those of you not as old as I am was remade by Dolly Pardon if that helps any of you. It was called D I V O R C E , not divorce. D I V O R C E There is a difference you know. Because in the 1960's, you didn't say divorce. The lyrics went something like this.

Our little boy is four years old and quite a little man so we spell out the words we don't want him to understand like 't o y' and 's u r p r i s e' (by the way, if you didn't catch that, surprise) (I figured you got toy!)

But the words we're hiding from him tear the heart right out of me.

Our 'D I V O R C E' becomes final today.

Me and little 'J O E' will be going away.

Oh, I wish that we could stop this 'D I V O R C E.'

It was a word that you just didn't use but it was there all the time.

I want to confess something to you and I'm not sure how to go about it other than just blurt it out so I'm just gonna say this. My wife and I have been married now almost 35 years. It will be 35 years this summer. We have never used the word divorce. It is a conversation that we had in 1969 and 1970 when we were preparing to get married that there was one word that would be stricken from our vocabulary. We would not use the word. Now I'm not here to tell you whether or not either of us have ever thought about it. I can only speak for myself and I won't. I can guess how she might have felt on some occasions, but, we just never used the word. It wasn't one of the options and because it wasn't an option, there was no sense talking about it. Now please don't misunderstand me. I am not trying to set myself up as different from those of you who have had the experience, the pain of divorce. I'm not trying to do that. What I'm trying to suggest to you is that in our life, what we allow ourselves to talk about often becomes that which we more prone to do, to act on. I'm not suggesting there is never a time to use that word. I've had good friends who are counselors, professionally, who tell me that sometimes it's important to use that word in order to state just how serious you really are about these life issues.

But the frustration is that when you talk to people who are in the midst of marital difficulty, when you ask this question, have you considered divorce? Have you used the word? Most of the time it's not being used in conversation, it's being used in argumentation as a threat. And the very fact that it comes up begins to crack a door open that otherwise would never get opened. Because if it's not an option, then there are other things you do instead like learn to get along, go to counseling, separate for awhile. Get your act together. There are alternatives to divorce. That's just one of dozens of illustrations of my concern. If you come back third service when there is a whole row of high school kids sitting here you'll hear a whole different version of this part of the sermon. I'll only touch on it now.

The Kaiser family foundation just did a poll not very long ago, within the last couple of years that asked this question. Is sex on television influencing the behavior of teenagers? This was a poll taken by teenagers. 72% of teenagers say that when they see sex on television they are more likely to get involved in it. Of course this is what's fascinating. The same poll asked this question. Does it influence you?. Only 22% think that it influences them. 72% think it's influencing everybody else, but only 22% think it influences them.

Our ability to be self-delusional is incredible. My point is that there are some conversations young people should not have early in their relationship with each other because the more they talk about it in Brian Wilson's terms, the more you want it.

Now I've not talked to hundreds of people who've been involved in marital unfaithfulness and affairs but I would venture just a guess. Maybe I would be wrong, but my guess is, almost every marital affair started with a conversation, not with a sex act. It started by talking about things that we shouldn't be involved in and gradually, like Samson and Delilah, if you talk about it often enough, you become more vulnerable. The more you talk the more the door gets opened and the easier it is to walk through that door.

I remember late one night when I was old enough to know better and out too late, which was not uncommon for me, being reared in the situation that I was. My cousin and I were standing behind my father's bar which was connected by the next building over to the blacksmith shop. Yes, I'm old enough to remember real live blacksmiths. Now he was old but he was still a blacksmith, making horseshoes and other kinds of things. And of course if you're a blacksmith, out behind your blacksmith shop is a pile of old steel. Two kids. . . .late at night. . . . windows. . . .steel. Do you get the picture? By the time we got done talking about it we had already broken every window in the building. Only to find out the next morning that our neighbor doesn't go to bed very early. But it would have never happened had we not talked about it. We didn't just sit down one day and start throwing steel through windows. We talked about it until we got our courage up.

Some topics of conversation just simply need to be "off-limits" to Christians. There are some things we shouldn't engage in conversation about. At the risk of being legalistic however, I'm not going to tell you what those are because I don't know what they all are. I just know the power of words to open doors.

Of course let me roll that over because the opposite is just as true and I don't want to make this sound entirely harsh. If words have the power to open doors, then frankly, words have the power to close doors also. At least Ali Baba found that out.

Parents. . . . . you're the ones who ought to be talking to your children about sex. They shouldn't be learning it from their peers. Their peers don't yet know what their talking about. I'm not guaranteeing that you do, but the chances are better. At least if you have a Christian view of it. Unfortunately in the world in which we live, there are an awful lot of adults who do not have a healthy view of sexual relationships and talking to your teens will not give them a lot of help. I know because I've had some of those conversations with other parents. Who, when you suggest to them, that maybe they should talk to their children about their relationship with their best friend, they tell you it's none of your business and if they want to have sex and as long as they do it safely, it's okay. That's not the conversation I'm suggesting.. . . . .if your in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex that you do have the appropriate conversations at the right time about what your boundaries are going to be.

I have the highest regard for a young lady that I met several years ago who, when she decided that she would begin dating (it was not a decision that she made lightly), took that part of her life extremely seriously. She was a young adult when she finally decided that she was going to entertain a relationship with someone else, she and he sat down and established a certain set of criteria and then they went to two or three friends and they said, this is the criteria by which we will live. We will not do these things. We will do these things and they were held accountable to those things. That conversation is worth having.

I do think it's extremely important, parents, to help your children set boundaries. To encourage them and give them the power to say "NO". That you will help them in those circumstances when they need help. At the risk of sounding really old and ultra-conservative, I want to suggest that it's time that parents become parents again and quit letting the children run your home. You're the adult. You set the standards and then help them live those standards.

I want to suggest to you that there is great value in what Dan suggested last week, that when you have a decision to make, one of the best things you can do is confide in a friend who will help hold you accountable to your decisions. Someone to whom you can say, I've made it another week.

I wouldn't begin to tell you who it is but I have somebody that's in my acquaintance that comes to me every week and he asks me repeatedly to ask him how he's doing with pornography because he knows he's he trouble if somebody doesn't hold him accountable. So when I see him I simply ask, how are you doing and he knows what that question means.

If words have the power to "create" and the power to help set boundaries, then words like "I love you"; words like "I'm sorry"; words of encouragement are so incredibly important.

If words have the power to create activity then wouldn't we be better off talking together as brothers and sisters about how we can serve the Lord; how we can encourage one another, how we can share our faith with other people, how we can help people in need, how we can serve those less fortunate than we. Wouldn't those be far better conversations?

Well, what are we doing? The whole bottom line of this things is to ask you to do this. To talk to the right people, about the right things and to refuse to talk to the wrong people about the wrong things. Fundamentally I'm only asking you to do one thing this morning. Take your words seriously. Because they are often determining your future actions.

Father, your word is powerful. It's sharp. It's two-edged. It cuts and divides and heals and creates and made in your image, our words have those powers as well, and so; we pray that you will help us take our words seriously that our lives may be lived appropriately for you. We pray in Christ's name. Amen