Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Embracing and Releasing the Seasons of Life


The cold slapped my face as I headed to the car this morning. By lunch time tiny flakes started to fall. It’s still October. Granted, it is the last day, but still October! Which begs the question, are these flakes a trick or treat? It depends on our perspective. I think it’s today’s treat ─ pretty, white, window dressing. Yet, I also hope tomorrow the trickster melts it away, banishing the overnight freezes. That’s what the weather guessers report, “Tomorrow’s high 60. Lows for the next five days in the 40’s and 77 for a high come Sunday.” I hope they’re right. I’m not ready for winter.

Eleven pots of French lavender sit by my sliding glass door waiting for autumn’s return. I hope tomorrow will be the day I settle them into their new bed, and their roots will have time to cozy under the downy dirt before the next freeze.

As a child I viewed seasons forming a pie chart, cut in quarters, each forth a different, distinct color. Now, I realize the changing of seasons is not like that at all.

I watch in wonder as snow crystals form white lace on top of my pink hollyhock. She put out her petticoats late this year. The seasons dance.

           Today Winter cut in. With his icy grip around Fall’s waist he tats a fringe of white lace on Autumn’s gown. His sharp wind blows her golden skirt off reveling the branches of her hooped slip. The last bit of Summer’s green slumps beneath the weight of Winter’s powdery step.

Indeed, the seasons twirl, and curtsy, swing, and bow. They embrace and release like four square dancers under the stars that direct their rhythm. How beautifully time flows, if I don’t panic at its passing. But I often do.

I linger too long, then rush to catch up. I give into the anxiousness of being behind, being too late. I long for a different season, failing to appreciate the one I’m in.

A recent season of busyness crowded out my writing. 

“When do I write, Lord? Will I ever get back to my book?”

Then His still small voice breaths a reminder to my soul, “Seasons.”

 And I am invited into the dance.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. . .

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 and 9-11.

I confess, I trip more than dance with the seasons of life. When I was young and single, I coveted the season of matrimony. Now, on rare occasions, I look back with fondness at of the simplicity of living alone. I remember the exhaustion of days with infants and toddler, and how I longed for older children who would be more self-sufficient. When my kids got older the challenge of teens made an empty nest look inviting. Most days I do enjoy my empty nest, but there are days I really miss the activity of kids in the house.  I need to teach my heart to embrace the season God puts me in, remembering it will change soon enough.

Today I write. In another season a book may emerge. Tomorrow I'll plant lavender. Come spring fragrant flowers will bloom. I will dance with these seasons, and God will make each beautiful in its time.

What season are you in? What season do you long for? How will you dance with the Lord of seasons? How is He teaching you to trust that He makes all things beautiful in their time?

Dear Father,
Please, teach us to embrace and release the seasons of our life with wisdom and grace. Let us enjoy the dance of time under the stars you set in place to direct it all. Teach us to exhale our anxieties and inhale deeply Your perfect peace.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Reflections (based on 1Corinthians 13 and James 1:21-25)

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” How often have I gone to the mirror of God’s Word with the same intent as Snow White’s evil stepmother? I go not with honest intent to see the Fairest. I go looking for me. I want God to explain who I am. I want Him to tell me how wonderful I am. Then like the fool James tells me about, I look into that mirror, see my sin, and turn away unchanged, because that’s not what I came for. I didn’t want to be changed into a reflection of His love (dim as it may be) I just wanted to look good, feel good, be encouraged.

Mirrors may give us encouragement, but their purpose is to reveal truth. And in the case of God’s Word to reveal the Truth, the Way, the Life.
God created us to be His mirror, to reflect His image. We failed so He became the mirror. He reveals how ugly our sin is, how far we’ve fallen short of His glory. He shows us love has scars, it both gives and forgives.  In the Mirror we see His grace and mercy. But some wonderful day when time has ceased, we will see Him as He sees us, perfectly. We will be the perfect reflection of His perfect love. We will enjoy an intimate knowing as we are known. The reflection will be restored. And we will see the Fairest of us all, Jesus!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Wellspring Writers Midwifery

The birth of a baby fascinates me. Birth is miraculous, breath taking, and a whole lot of work. That's why we call it labor. I've often thought about becoming a midwife, but to be honest I like regular sleep. Midwifery hours stink. So I write instead.

This past few weeks I feel like a midwife, because one of our Wellspring Writers, Nancy Swihart, is having a book published! It's almost as exciting as when a friend has a baby. I've helped her labor through this whole delivery, and I have the privilege of hosting her launch party May 27th.
Seeing her ad on Amazon felt like watching the a baby's head crown.

I feel privileged to be part of Wellspring Writers. It's a small, multi generational group of talented, productive writers. Together we write for the glory of God, and sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. Together we birth books. Our labors are longer (months verses hours), but the hours are way more manageable!

If you're anywhere near me I hope you'll join us for this special delivery, Saturday, May 27th, at the Swihart's barn 3681 Kitten Creek Road, Keats, Kansas. 2-pm-5pm Nancy will be selling and signing copies of her baby. Weather permitting, you'll be blessed with the opportunity to stroll along the same paths around the farm that inspired Nancy's story. You can get her book here.

Buy it! Read it! I loved hearing this story, and I think you will too!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Communication? I Give Up!

Are you familiar with this old Hymn? “I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee my blessed savior, I surrender all.” I’m surrendering again.

I give up!

I give up any right I thought I had of being understood. God understands me. He understands my motives and meaning better than I ever could. I’m just going to rest in that. No matter what I say or how carefully I choose my words someone will misunderstand.

Someone will hear something I did not mean to imply. Someone will choose to feel hurt by words that were not hurtful. I can’t help that. I can’t take responsibility for someone’s hurt feelings. I can only take responsibility for my words and motives. If my words and motives are pure, and someone feels hurt anyway, that is not my fault.

I can't help it if someone hears what I did not say. I can try to clarify myself, but the reality is that individual just may not get it. And I’m okay with that.

 I don’t want to argue and defend myself. I want to lay down my life for that person and pray for wisdom to love them no matter how angry and ugly their response may be. If I think I’m  always right, and have a right to be understood, I won’t have the freedom to love.

 Now, I know I miss speak, and don’t always communicate as accurately as I’d like. I am sorry. I am a sinner. I’m happy to clarify and take responsibility for my words. I just don’t have the power or ability to control how others feel about what I say.

Teri B.C. owned a sharp tongue that could decapitate her victim in one swift stroke. I know how to use hurtful words. But that Teri died. This new Teri has no desire to kill anyone, especially not verbally. Yet, despite my best intentions people still misunderstand me.

Oh well, all I can say is “I’m sorry, you’re hurting,” or “I’m sorry you took offense.” I am not wrong and they are not wrong to hurt or be angry. We simply can’t understand each other perfectly because we are not perfect.

In laying down my “right” to be understood I also lay down my “right” to be easily hurt or angered by the words of others. As a child, I felt the verbal blows of many bullies. It comes with the territory of being the new kid on the block. My mom taught me the little poem, “Sticks and stones may break my bones…”

Now, I know words can be hurtful, but I also know I am responsible for choosing how I react. I can choose to feel hurt or I can choose to feel compassion. I can choose anger or patience. How I respond is up to me. If I choose to not be provoked things go so much better.

America is a thin skinned culture. So much for the tolerance movement! I hear more hate and anger now than I ever have before. Once upon a time bullies were people who beat you up and stole from you. Now anyone who says something we perceive as wrong is a bully, and we bully back. I will not be like that. In surrendering to God I choose to go against that flow.

“Love thinks no evil.” I refuse to believe that others want to hurt me with their words. If my feathers get ruffled I will look in my own heart and ask myself, “Why did that hurt?” or “Am I angry because my toes are too long and didn’t need to get stepped on?” I may just need to pluck my ruffled feathers out.

I know people who hurt, hurt others. And hurting people can be overly sensitive. I will do my best to speak carefully, but let’s face it, I will fail at times. I’m just glad God never fails. He understands all of us. And He is the Healer Who makes all thing work for good. And to this compassionate Father, I surrender all!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A New Perspective: Part 10 The END

As a young homemaker catalogs (my generations equivalent of internet shopping) opened a world of decorating possibilities to me. I spent hours perusing those pages, longing for more stuff, nicer stuff. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had a problem, not a house problem, but a heart problem. At that point of confession I coined the term covetlogs.

Wanting fills the human heart. God made us creatures of desire. Wanting, in and of itself, is not a sin. The factors that determine sinfulness are the objects of our desires.

Eastern thought unlike, western, is not linear. Eastern thinking cycles around, and creates growing layers of explanation. We see it here in the last command. The Apostle Paul defines covetousness as idolatry in Colossians 3:5. Remember where we started, the first commandment?
 “‘You shall have no other gods before me.”

This reveals what we ought to want. We ought to want God. God alone is enough to fill the longings of our heart. Longing after things God has entrusted to another robs us of the blessings He’s placed in our own hands.

10.     21 “‘And you shall not covet your neighbor's wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.’

What then does this show us about God’s character? First, I see Him as the appointer of portions. God designates our relationships, our properties, and every other resource we have including our appearance and abilities. Secondly, because He created our wanting hearts to want Him, we know He wants us. He does not covet what belongs to another. He made us, and His desire for us is a good thing.

Knowing He appoints my portion, and wants me, frees me to learn contentment. Covetlogs no longer control my heart, and steal my time and joy. I’m released from the dissatisfaction of things that were never meant to satisfy. Yet more than the freedom of coveting, His desire for me charms my soul. Love’s perfect consummation results from mutual delight. “He delivered me because He delighted in me.” Psalm18:19.

Jesus bound in earthly flesh found contentment in His Father. Remember His warning to those who would follow Him, “The Son of man has nowhere to lay His head,” Matthew 8:20. The King of Kings, poor by this world’s standards, had everything because He had a relationship of mutual delight with the Father.

Father, giver of every good and perfect gift,

Free us to be content in You and portion you appoint for us. We pray with Agur (author of Proverb 30), “Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches ─ Feed me the food allotted to me: Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.” Proverb 30:7-9.


I pray this series helped you understand the Ten Commandments are not an oppressive list of rules handed down by a Cosmic Kill Joy. Rather, God invites His image bearers to be like Him. “Be holy for I AM holy,” He pleads with His people, because He knows from experience holiness generates eternal happiness.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A New Perspective: Part 9

I watched tears well up in the young woman’s eyes. She recounted the stares of other customers, the humiliation she felt, as two security guards escorted her to the store’s office. She had been falsely accused of shoplifting. Nothing derails justice more than a false witness. Liars rob the innocent of justice.

The ninth commandment does not condemn lying in general, though other commands in Scripture do. It condemns the character assignation of slander. Why does God value a truthful assessment of people?

9.     20 “‘And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Simple, He is Truth, and He is just. He speaks honestly and openly about who we are. He tells us we are made in His likeness, made for His glory. But He also reminds us we are hopelessly sinful, completely depraved. As the Judge of all the earth He determines the penalty justice requires. That penalty is death. He tells us the truth of who we are so we can ask His forgiveness.

Truth may offend, but slander is just plain offensive. The Bible calls Satan the Slander. He first slandered God, then God’s people. To slander people made in God’s image makes us, like Satan, a slanderer of God.

Satan takes pleasure in the truth offending. Being told we deserve death, that we sin, and offend a Holy God, stabs our egos. And the Devil likes twisting the knife. “How dare you call me a sinner, you don’t even know me!” I’ve heard this response to the Gospel before. Yet, failing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth concerning God’s good news would be bearing false witness against God and my neighbor.

Hearing His true account of my situation frees me to give an accurate account to others. It is not judging to point out another’s sin to them privately. It is not slander to show a person their own depravity so that they can be rescued.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life, No man comes to the Father but by me.” In this one statement Jesus bore a true witness of both Himself and the Father, but Jesus also told us the truth about our own condition. We needed a way back, a road to the Father, an escape route from death. We need to know the Truth, so we can know the way. We need to know the Way so we can have life, His life, eternal life.

True Father,

We praise You for your honesty with us. We thank You that You see fit to bruise us with truth that we may be spared the death blow of lies. Please, teach our tongues to communicate truth in love. Convince us of the reality that the truth may hurt, but withholding truth, and twisting truth causes death.  May we love our neighbors by speaking honestly with them and well of them.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A new Perspective: Part 8

Have you ever stolen something? I have. I once shoplifted a decorative box I thought was overpriced. After becoming a Christ follower, I mailed a check for the purchase price to the store I stole from. This commandment is straight forward in what it means to us, but what does it say about the nature of God?

1.     19 “And you shall not steal.

Since God owns everything He cannot steal, nor is he required to give. Yet, He gives. Abraham knew Him as Jehovah Jireh, God Provides. As our Creator and Sustainer, the responsibility of meeting our needs falls on His shoulders. The responsibility of being content with His provision falls on ours.

God not only gives, He gives extravagantly. His generosity remains unrivaled. We cannot out give God. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

Why should I ever want to steal when He’s given me so much? This reality frees me to learn contentment. It frees me to learn generosity. It frees me to be thankful for all material things I’ve been entrusted with as His steward. It reminds me to praise Him and never steal His glory.

Our disposition to crave, and crave control especially, gets smack upside the head by Jesus’ fulfillment of the eighth command. The devil robbed Him of our souls. By right He should have stolen us all back, but no He paid for us again. Then even more audacious, He leaves us with an invitation to come. Not a demand, but a request. God is no Indian giver. He gave you a will then asked, “Are you willing to follow Me?”

Generous Father, Giver of all good things,

Thank You for your generosity in giving us your Son. Thank You for freeing those of us who stole to steal no more, but work willingly that we may learn to give, and be generous like You.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A New Perspective: Part 7

“I do, til death do us part,” the covenant two make to become one. My husband says, “It’s the promise I’ll do you, and you do me.” But why is this commitment so important? Why not just pursue our own happiness if we “fall out of love?” It’s not about us, remember? The preamble to the Decalogue begins, “I AM the Lord…” This command requires us to fulfill our purpose as image bearers.

7.     18 “‘And you shall not commit adultery.

As I read this command tonight the chorus from a Jesus Culture song flooded my soul. “Your (referring to God) love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me.” I can’t say it any better. We break this vow and we shatter the picture of God’s unfailing love. We make a mockery of His faithfulness. We declare “He can save me, but not my marriage.” Yikes, that’s a dangerous lie to believe.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 2Timothy 2:13. We may cheat on our spouse and in so doing cheat God of His portrait of love for His people. We may run out on Him, but He never will leave us or forsake us. God never “falls out of love.”

This frees me to depend on Him. I can know no matter how much I screw up, He remains available to forgive me. He's willing to redeem my hell hot mess. Even the hellish mess my marriage may become, because if he can ransom a wretch like me from eternal damnation, He can fix a broken marriage.

Marriage matters to Him. This also frees me to lose “that lovin’ feeling” and no matter how far “it’s gone, gone, ooh gone,” I can still keep giving my spouse true love; kindness, gentleness, patience. I can do that for my man because that’s what God does daily for me.

Jesus fulfills this command the same way the Father does to Israel in the book of Hosea. He constantly retrieves His erring bride. Christ remains faithful to His bride, the church. He will present us without spot or wrinkle. What a glorious wedding that will be!

Thank You, Faithful Father,

 Thank you for your everlasting, unfailing love. Thank You that Your fidelity teaches us fidelity. My those of us who are married be faithful to our spouses as You have been faithful to us. Amen

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A New Perspective: Part 6

Hey, we’re half way though this marathon series. Thanks for sticking with me. In the previous command, we learned God is a God of authority structure, a God of order. Let’s move on and see what we can discover about Him in the next command.

6.     17 “‘You shall not murder.

I love the “duhs” in life, probably because I’m relatively simple minded. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box, but I can still light up a room. I love plain obvious things, and this is one of them. He’s ALIVE! He is the God of the living Jesus told the Sadducees in Matthew 22:32. Life begets life. God is NOT dead! Killing with malice a person made in God’s image violates the nature of His image. Not only is God alive He values life.

This frees me to see the value of my own life. It also frees me to value the lives of others and esteem them better than myself (Philippians 2:3). I can’t think of anything as mysterious or profound than the breath of God animating a human soul and placing His image upon it.

Christ fulfilled this command by taking on flesh and becoming not only living God, but living Man. The consummation of this command’s fulfillment is the cross; we broke this command that He might abolish sin death once for all. He took our death that we may have His life.

Our Father, Living God, may we, your children, enjoy Your life, enjoy living with You through time and eternity. Most of all may we value every living soul as Your image bearer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A New Perspective for a New Year: Part 5

I’m broiling steak in the oven right now. I need to watch the clock as I write because soon it will be time to flip them over. Both sides need to be cooked before I can enjoy my steak dinner. In much the same way God knew we needed directions in both of our relationships: vertical and horizontal, divine and human. At this point the Ten Commandments take a turn, and direct us in how we should treat people. Ooops! Wrote a little too long. Guess I’m eating steak on the well side.

1.     16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Hot, sweaty, and exhausted I sat up in the delivery bed as the nurse handed me my new born daughter. The room around me faded as my eyes transfixed on this new face of the future. It is an inexplicable moment, meeting your child for the first time, a wondrous, miraculous, even terrifying moment. Life begins with family. It is the primary human relationship. That’s why when God turns to telling us how to get along He begins with that essential relationship.

God made Adam and Eve and told them to go parent humanity. Why? Because God dwells in His own sort of family; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together in a mysterious unity beyond human comprehension. So, what about His family can we learn from this commandment? Together, the three live in an orderly existence.Though all in the God head are equally God, there is an order of authority.

He establishes the same order in human families. Children must learn obedience to their parents just as Jesus, Son of God, obeyed His Father perfectly. Our God is a God of order. This command is unique in that it gives a promise to those that keep it; “that you days may be long in the land
I am giving you.” This shows us God rewards those who honor Him by giving honor to their parents. He desires to bless us. That too is part of His creative order; blessing follows obedience.

Christ honored His Father. John tells us that the Pharisees considered Jesus an illegitimate child yet Jesus proclaims clearly Who his Father is and that he is honoring his Father, God, by doing all God sent him to accomplish (John 8:13-59). Not only did Jesus honor God, He is God, One with the Father.

When I honor my earthly parents, I am honoring God’s structure of authority. It frees me to flow with creations order and enjoy God’s blessing. It frees me from isolation and brings me into the fellowship of community, family.

Dear Father,

Thank You for earthly fathers and mothers that teach us obedience. That as we learned to honor them we are learning to honor You. Thank you that we are made from family for family. Thank You for calling us into Your forever family.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A New Perspective for a New Year: Part 4

Happy Valentine's Day! Did you ever think about the Ten Commandments being all about love? They are: the first four teach us how to love God, the last six teach us how to love each other. As I contemplated on the third command I discovered another division between the first two and second two. In the first two God establishes who He is. The next two, commands three and four, He invites us to have a relationship with Him. How can we refuse such a loving invitation, especially on Valentine's Day?


1.     12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.15 You shall remember that you were a slave[c] in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

I’m tired. I was born tired, and I’ve been tired ever since! So, for me this command sounds divine. Oh yeah, it is! Some love work and it's an idol to them. We call them workaholics. Others, known as sluggards and sloths, love sleep. The sin of laziness dominates their character. God revels a pattern to us born out of His perfectly balanced nature: six parts work, one part rest. 

The Sabbath reminds us God is never too busy to be with us. He's never hurried or out of breath. Nor is He lazy. God works diligently. His diligent rhythm includes rest. Just follow this recipe for successful living; successful at work and successful in our relationships, especially in our relationship to Him.

Can you hear Him pleading with His people? “I delivered you from slavery. Don’t be a slave to work. Rest with me. Let’s spend the day together.”

I believe practicing the Sabbath principle preserves our wellbeing. I’ve worked retail now for over a decade. It’s not uncommon for fulltime retail associates to work eight and nine days straight. I’ve seen what that does to them. They become less effective, short tempered, and just plain worn out. They haven’t gotten to spend a day with their families, let alone spend time with God. They haven’t had time off to rest.

The Sabbath is as old as time. God made the world for man in five days. Then He spent a day making man. Finally, He took the seventh day off to spend a day with the man He made.

 That very first Sabbath Day Adam, Eve, and the Lord just chilled together. They listened to birds sing and frogs croak. They watched the sunrise and the sunset. They smelt the fragrance of fresh flowers, and tasted the sweetness of ripe fruit as they enjoyed a meal together. I can see them in my mind laying on a grassy hill looking up at the brand-new sky. I can hear them sighing in repose, content to just be quiet in one another’s presence. What a joy to be with each other and God!
If we are too busy to take one day off, then we are too busy, too busy at the wrong thing. We’re in bondage to our own agenda. This command frees us to rest. We need to rest from our frail attempts at success. We need to rest from the notion that it’s our job to provide for ourselves. He is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides. Let’s just take a day to say “Thanks! We love You, Lord!” Better yet let’s gather with His people and do it together.

Personally, I practice Sabbath on Sunday, the Lord’s day. I worship at church, but also at home. I worship by napping, and ignoring my dishes until Monday morning. Through this simple routine I am refreshed and blessed. Jesus sabbathed too.

The Pharisees often criticized Jesus because he chose to heal on the Sabbath. For Jesus healing was not work, but a releasing of bondage. To remember God’s deliverance is exactly what this command requires. Jesus not only kept the Sabbath, He is the Lord of the Sabbath. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Dear Father,

Thank You for taking a day to be with us in a special way. Thank You for giving us rest. May we by faith enter Your rest.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Perspective for a New Year: Part 3

It’s been longer than I anticipated since my last post. I intended to start a series and post weekly. I still intend to do this series, but contemplating what I need to say about the third command has taken me much longer than I expected. I also had a divine appointment to fly out to California for a few days to be with my aunt. She’s on hospice. I needed to say good-bye and tell her one last time that I love her. Now that I’m back, I’ll get back to it.

3.     11 “‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Before we can discover what this commandment reveals about God, we need to make sure we understand the command. The first time I remember hearing the third commandment I was in first grade. In her thick southern drawl my little friend declared, “Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain!” She must have heard my mother swearing. I asked her what she was talking about and she said it was sin to use God’s name as a swear word. This was news to me growing up in a sailor’s home with my French mother. I didn’t really think any more about it.

Years later, when I became a Christian I just assumed that’s what it meant. I think a lot of Christians are content with that elementary understanding of the third command, but there is so much more to it. This isn’t a simple rule against using “Jesus Christ!” as a superlative. This prohibits using the Lord’s name in a deceptive manner or treating His name like a good luck charm. The word for “vain” can be translated not only as futile, but also deceptive and idolatrous.

In the book of Jude, an epistle warning us against false teachers, three examples are given of a false prophet (a prophet who claims to speak in God’s name). These three serve as examples of taking God’s name vainly.

The first is Cain. Cain brought God an offering that God rejected. Why did God reject Cain’s gift? Because Cain gave with a wrong heart attitude. Cain gave God not the first fruit, but the leftovers. Cain believed he owned his possessions. If we claim to be Christ’s but think we own our things and give begrudgingly, we take His name in vain. As Creator of all He is owner of all.

Balaam used God’s name in vain when he became a prophet for profit. Do we go to church to network, build our own platform? Do we claim to belong to the Good Shepherd so we can fleece the sheep? Jesus came to serve not be served. We follow Him and honor His name when we serve Him by serving His body.

Last, Jude mentions the rebellion of Korah. Korah rejected God’s leadership by rejecting His leader Moses. Do we reject God’s leaders in our lives? Over and over Scripture calls us to submission. When we call ourselves Christians, but reject the authorities God places in our lives we are taking His name in vain.

Jesus asks us, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord but don’t do the things that I say?” Luke 6:46. To call Him Boss and not respect Him as the Boss is what it means to take His name in vain. OUCH! Fortunately, the prophet Joel assures us, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Joel 2:32. By His grace we can call upon His name and He calls us His own, restoring us as His image bearer and revealing through us the power of His name. His name is not vain. It is mighty to save!

The third commandment reveals a God Who seeks relationship with us. He introduced Himself by name to Moses and the nation of Israel so they could become His community. He created people in His image so He can enjoy fellowship with His image bearers. This privilege must not be taken lightly. God will not be mocked. His name is Wonderful. We must not lose sight of the wonder of being His, of knowing Him by name.

This command frees me to know One far greater than myself. It frees me from a self-centered existence ushering me into a right relationship with my Maker. It frees me from the power of sin and death because I can call upon His name and be saved!

Jesus, the Son of God, completed the work God gave him, never claiming God's name in a futile or deceptive manner. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11
 Dear Father,

As image bearers in a saving relationship with you let us bear your name well.