Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

I have been reading and thinking a lot lately about taking the Lord's name in vain and what that means.  I was always taught by my parents, Sunday school teachers, preachers and other grown ups that it meant not saying His name vainly like a curse word.  For example, Jesus Christ is a phrase many use in anger, exasperation, etc.  People also love to curse using the word damn with the word God. 

This is actually called blaspheming the name of God.  "My Name continually every day is blasphemed" (Isaiah 52:5 KJV) or the name of Jesus "they blaspheme that worthy Name by the which ye are called" (James 2:7 KJV)

Many who read this will think I'm a simpleton, perhaps, but a light recently went off in my mind and I really understood the true meaning behind this phrase.

Back in the good ol' days, when a woman married a man, it was never even considered that she would not bear his name.  She became known as Mrs. Marry Man instead of Miss Marry Girl, and it was an honor.  I vaguely remember women who even signed their checks as Mrs. Marry Man; not just Marry Man.  All credit cards were issued in the name of Mr. Man and so the Mrs. would many times sign Mrs. Harry Man.  She bore her husband's name.

When we come to a saving knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, and we ask Him to take over our lives and live through us; thereby becoming our savior, we take on His name.  We become His bride, so to speak; and we bear the name of "Christian" or "Christ Follower" or "Believer".   As a believer in Christ, and therefore, a follower of His, we are called to speak a different language and walk a different walk than the rest of the world.

Sometimes there are people who use the name of Christ to "appear" holy.  This is an entirely different type of taking the Lord's name in vain.  If we say that we belong to Him, but fail to follow His leading, His example in  dying to self, doing only what the Father wants, and living through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are taking His name in vain.  If we ignore His Holy Word, the Bible, the prompting of His Holy Spirit and do what we think is right, we are taking His name in vain.  We are saying one thing, but living something entirely different.

 "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the Commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." (Mark 7:6-8 RSV)

Does that make you stop in your tracks like it did me?  The actual wording of the Third Commandment is this from Exodus 3:20:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
God will hold us responsible for not walking the walk when we are talking the talk!  

Heavenly Father, forgive me for my ignorance.  Thank you that you keep opening my eyes to my sinfulness.  God, I need you to keep my mind constantly stayed upon you and aware that everything I do reflects upon you.  Give me your wisdom, Lord, and a heart that sincerely wants for you to be glorified in my life.  I pray in Jesus' name.   Amen

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Heavens Declare The Glory of God

Psalm 19
This is the sunrise that greated me on February 1 during my stay in the Carolinas.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

We have all seen the glory of God in some way, some where. Who then can say with Isaiah and me: (Isaiah 6:2) Woe is me, Woe is me for I am undone because I am a (wo)man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips for my eyes have seen the Lord of Hosts.  When you see God's glory, it opens your eyes to how small and insignificant you are, doesn't it?

The Northern Lights

I have been, in some ways, very naive about the state of the world. I don't watch a lot of TV or movies and I don't listen to secular music very often, and quite frankly, other than going to dinner, my excursions to public places are pretty few and far between.

Recently, though, because I am staying with some friends in the Carolinas, I have joined in watching a little more than normal TV and movies, and with the death of Whitney Houston, I watched a little of the grammies and perused the online news sites.

What I found is more evidence that we are, indeed, living at the end of this age, in times where people show little restraint about they talk, how they dress, how they dance, how they...well, do anything.

Here are a couple of things that I have found very disturbing recently :

Freak dancing: I saw a friend on facebook comment on how her child and various other children were so upset with their school officials because they weren't able to dance as they wanted at their latest school dance. I decided to run through the comments, and found one parent who said: "...As long as they're not ripping each other's clothes off, let them dance and have fun." I then looked up the term freak dancing to discover that it is, according to the Urban Dictionary:

Freak dancing is a style of urban dancing, usually performed to R&B, pop, rap, hip-hop, or Latin music. It involves two or more people making extremely close physical contact, and facial expressions and physical movements that are sexually provocative and/or that imitate sexual intercourse and foreplay.

We all know what word the word freak is imitating, right?

I then made some sort of idiotic statement about agreeing with school officials that it was not appropriate for kids in any school age to be dancing like this and that my mom always said "give an inch and a mile will be taken" with anything, including freak dancing (she didn't say it about freak dancing, though), and the next thing you know, it's sex like this.  Isn't it a known fact that the more you do something or are subjected to it the easier it is to do it or something to the next level like it?

That mother then told me she had successfully raised two daughters and had a third child in school and that she thought it was more productive to talk to her teens about self-respect, birth control and various other things because if they want to have sex, they will find a way to do it.  I did not respond because I sensed the uselessness in it and because I didn't want to get into a social network battle of the words.

But here's what I'm thinking:  "Yeah, well, does that mean we stop telling them it's not God's plan, it's immoral, it cheapens the act meant to be an act of love, commitment and oneness for a married couple?"  Do we stop giving our kids boundaries?

Next, I ran into a name and a photo which stopped me cold. I've never heard of this girl, let alone  the fact that I can't figure out why in the world she would go to an awards dinner dressed like this and take the "Pope" as her date:

Nicki Minaj @ The Grammys

I subsequently found out that this girl had taken part in Madonna's superbowl "holy of holies" performance.

Then, last, but certainly not least, there's this British MAN who allegedly gave birth last week.  Can you imagine...a man giving birth?  As soon as I read the article, I lifted up a prayer for the world.  We are living in bizarre, immoral days where men and women definitely call good evil and evil good.  Even so, Lord Jesus, come!

I know this blog has gone from one extreme to the other, but it helps me to look at the goodness and majesty of God when I see how far astray mankind has gone.  It helps me to know that God's eyes are running to and fro around the world, and He knows how sick His creation has become.  It helps to know that any moment of any day could be the moment when the trumpet sounds and we'll no longer be subjected to sin and immorality and evil.

So, in closing, I will leave you with the words of Paul to the Philippians (4:8):

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Work in Progress

We've all seen that bumper sticker, "Christians aren't perfect; just forgiven", haven't we? These days there seems to be quite a discussion going on about Christians who are taking advantange of grace by using just such statements as that bumper sticker to explain their continuance of sinful behavior and Christians who believe that when you accept Christ as Savior all your sinful behavior stops.

I have recently begun reflecting on this in a more serious, sober way because I was having doubts as to whether or not I could say for certain that I had given my life to Christ because there was still sin in my life. My last POST: Am I Truly Saved reflects how this subject has been uppermost in my mind lately.

This past week there was a story in the news about Kylie Bisutti. Kylie is a young woman who in 2009 won a Victoria Secret modeling contract. She had gotten married shortly before she won the modeling contract. It seems that now, some two to three years later, Kylie has been convicted by the Holy Spirit of the appropriateness of modeling lingerie and underwear which for the most part is designed to enhance and expose the wearer and excite the audience. If you would like to read the whole story about Kylie, you can go HERE.
This is one of the comments made on the news article I read:

…how refreshing it is…to see someone getting PLAYED!… TANNER where was her “faith” before she entered and won the VS modeling contest? what do VS models do…model pant suits? huh? now that she has fame and a platform to work from she NOW finds her modesty so she can play the christ card….gimmee a break. anybody else falling for this b.s.?
God has shown me during this time of reflection how He has changed me; how he's taken me a step at a time from the glory of asking Him to re-birth me, to regenerate my heart, and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness to the glory of hating my pride, to the glory of wanting to be humble, to the glory of wanting Him to be glorified in my life. It didn't all come at once. It was a process.

God is in charge. If you read the Scriptures, it is not hard to understand that it is He who brings us to a place where we recognize our sinfulness; it isn't anything that we do. The Word is very clear that He is the one that calls us, and He is the one who changes us. Can He change all of our sinful behavior at once? I believe that He can. I believe that in most of us who accept His call on our lives though that He changes many things in us initially but that there are still many, many things that are changed in our day-to-day walk with Christ.

There are so many things that through age and living our lives and not knowing God that we come to think of as "normal" and right and not harming anyone that we don't even think of changing until God turns on a red light in our minds. Just like Kylie Bisutti who always wanted to be a model, and I'm sure thought modeling to be okay because in our culture, modeling is involved in advertising everywhere (and the Victoria Secret models are considered "THE MODELS" to be). From the time you are a small child (selling you the latest clothing, toys, etc.) through the teen years (selling you the latest hot footwear) to adulthood (selling you youth, class; whatever), we are bombarded with images trying to sell us something.

The Christian faith is one of GROWTH and CHANGE over time. Few who accept Christ today become a perfect role-model tomorrow, dropping all of their vices and issues overnight! As we live, we grow and learn, and the Spirit of God convicts us of our sins and issues. This is a LIFELONG PROCESS! Any Christian who looks back and cannot see that God is changing him/her, needs to re-evaluate whether or not they have truly surrendered their life to God.

I can't begin to write here all the things I have learned (by reading God's Word, meditating on it and being convicted by the Holy Spirit) is sin that once upon a time seemed so "normal" and acceptable to the world, but I can tell you this: Our adversary has done a really good job of deceiving us down through the ages, and unless and until we begin to deligently seek God by reading His Word, praying, meditating and spending time with like-minded believers, we can't even begin to know just how deep the deception goes.

I pray that all who stop here today will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to do just that.

Heavenly Father, we are literally like the sheep you call us. We need a Shepherd who loves us to keep us on the path which will not lead to our destruction. Thank you for being that Shepherd. God, I ask that anyone who visits here and reads this will be prompted by your Spirit to honestly examine their life to see if they have truly done what you require in order to claim that they belong to you. Lord, in these days of deceit, selfishness and self-satisfaction, we need you to help us see ourselves as you see us. Thank you for continuing to work in my life, helping me to see my sin as you see it and then helping me to change. All glory to you, Lord Jesus! In your name I pray. Amen