I have heard the phrase “What did you just say?” used in several different contexts.

My first recollection is of an authority figure (trust me, there were many who used this tactic with me) in my life calling me to task for having used inappropriate language, or after I called someone a name. It was meant to be a reprimand and was often a standalone form of discipline that brought me to my senses and made me realize that I had not been paying attention to who might be listening.

Other times I’ve heard someone ask “What did you just say?” because they wanted clarification on a statement, or they were in a noisy room and didn’t fully understand what was said.  

Finally, I have heard it in the context in which I am going to use it in Jim Class this week. When someone who is believed to be in a certain position, or is supposed to believe a certain way, makes a comment that is so counter to what he would be expected to say, every head in the room turns, every mouth stands agape, and all eyes as are wide open because they are so astonished.

“Did he really just say that?”

“I never thought I would hear those words come out of her mouth!”

There are statements that have caused me to turn my head over the years. And, dependent on which phase of life I was in, my response would vary.

Before I was a Christian, before my spirit was renewed to God, I would hear a radical statement or profanity in a context that it had not been used in before, and I would cheer and jump on the rebellion bus with that brave soul taking a stand for freedom.

When I was a child the word “pregnant” couldn’t be said on television. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would review and “censor” every script to make sure it was suitable to be heard by all audiences.

Instead of being pregnant with “Little” Ricky, Lucille Ball (Lucy Ricardo) was “expecting” or “with child.”

Rob and Laura Petrie had to sleep in separate beds (so did Lucy and Ricky) because impressionable children were watching – and television was not the grand arbiter of all things. There was still a sense that children should learn at home, from their parents. They (whoever they were) were right!

I remember when I began noticing a shift in the attitude toward, not what was decent and right, but toward – “I don’t want to do it that way!”“I want to do it my way, so by golly, I’m going to!”

In the early 1970s I started hearing cuss words on TV. It began “small” but grew into more and more words being allowed and people were shocked. My “Lawrence Welk Watching” Grandmother (who, by the way, prayed me into the Kingdom) would turn off the television if she heard so much as a “darn.”

I, on the other hand, would turn the TV up and begin watching the show that was responsible – “religiously.”

There were many households across America that I am sure could have been heard shouting a thunderous cacophony of, “What did you just say?” Unfortunately, this chorus of displeasure fell on deaf ears – actually – no ears, as technology had not – and still hasn’t (as far as we know) – reached that level of interaction.

There were two venues that highly influenced me – comedy record albums and Saturday Night Live (SNL). I memorized George Carlin (who was the first guest host on SNL) and Cheech and Chong albums. I could literally quote them verbatim.

One time my friends and I decided we would record ourselves doing a Cheech and Chong routine (“Ashley Roachclip”). He was a pot smoking ad man who got more and more stoned as his commercial, which advertised a particular type of marijuana, went on. He also got forgetful and frustrated which led to anger and profanity (the worst words you can think of).

We had it down. The voices, the accents, the ability to sound stoned (don’t ask how I knew that one). And, to make matters worse, we recorded ourselves. We put on the headphones and mimicked what we heard into a table-top cassette recorder in my friend’s bedroom.

He came and stayed all-night at my house that night because there was family visiting who needed his room. The next day when we went back to his house and much to our surprise, when we walked into the back door (typical entry point in those days) – his entire family – mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dogs were all sitting around the kitchen table laughing uproariously.

We look at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and proceeded to his room. As we were leaving the kitchen, we realized that they were listening to us! His aunt and uncle has slept in his room and evidently found, and listened to, our performance. And felt the need to share it with the rest of the family, f-bombs, and all!

When we realized what they were listening to, we expected to hear, “What did you just say?”  But the fact that they found it funny and complimented us on how creative we were (they didn’t know we were just copying Mr. Marin and Mr. Chong) only reinforced the idea that that type of language was okay.

During that era, 1972-1975, suggestive (and not so suggestive) language began migrating its way onto the television sets of America. SNL was where I heard it and began to emulate it even more. It was primarily the antics and language of Dan Ackroyd that influenced me – from the refrigerator repairman exposing himself to the Weekend Update anchor calling Jane Curtain a name I had never heard uttered on television before, and it’s now commonplace.

Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (NKJV)

I believe there is a correlation here to the words we use. There is a word in this passage that I want to focus on. Whatever. The word whatever is a “conditional particle” in the Greek language. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, G1437.)

It is conditional based on something that is yet to happen, and indefinite based on the idea that what influences the outcome has not yet occurred. In Mark 11:24 the condition is something spoken, “you will have whatever you say.”  The saying, or speaking has not yet happened; therefore the outcome hasn’t happened yet.

I have preached on the subject of controlling what we say, or watching our mouths, many times over the years. But this one word, “whatever” often gets overlooked. If you recall the decade of the 1980s you will recall that the word “whatever” became possibly the most overused word of that era.

The implication with the word “whatever” (which may be coming the most overused word in this blog) implies something can go in multiple directions. If you say something good, there is a possibility of swaying the outcome the same way, and if you say something bad, the reverse is true.

Hypochondria (Illness Anxiety Disorder/Somatic System Disorder) is a good example of having what one says. People with these conditions present and have no symptoms at all, but over time continue to insist that something is wrong.

Over this same period of time, because of the stress and anxiety that develops around the perceived symptoms, victims of these disorders actually do begin exhibiting some of the original signs. (1998-2020 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER))

If we look at the verses from Mark 11, we see that someone with the symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder “says” something, “believes” something, and eventually develops something (whatever they say and believe).

I believe the church – the Christian Church Universal – has developed a problem which borders on Illness Anxiety Disorder. I believe we need to be hearing the phrase – “What did you just say?”  – a lot more in Christian circles.

The idea that we can “have what we say,” is very obvious among Christians and this should not be so! We have to reign in our tongues and get them to align with what the Word of God says, not what the world, or mainstream media, or “Hollywood” want us to say, or what they say our “rights” are – but what God wants us to tell the world. The message of the Good News of Jesus Christ!