- 2015Jul 01
Oh…My…God: a standard response to everything from rage to surprise. I used to be shocked by those blasphemous words. Reality TV would cease to exist without OMG! I'm a closet HGTV fan. Home improvement episodes conclude with “the big reveal.” EVERY homeowner shouts, “Oh, my God!!” when they see their abode transformed from trashy to spiffy. Come on! Is there nothing else you can say to express your feelings? Yet, I have easily become desensitized by hearing OMG everywhere. To my chagrin, I occasionally find those three little words popping out of my pie hole when I least expect it. Shame on me!
The first three of the Ten Commandments speak of God Himself: how we reverence and regard Him. We don’t worship other gods. We don’t make other gods and worship them. AND we don’t call anything else “God” besides Him. The remaining commandments deal with behaviors that relate to how we demonstrate our reverence for God in our daily lives. So mishandling God’s name, the expression of His character, will change how we view everything in life.
The Jews never spoke God's name. He was YHWH. They referred to the Almighty as "the NAME." Jesus claimed to be YHWH in John 8 (among other passages). John 8:58 states,
8 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” NIV
The Greek present tense of 'ego eimi,' "I AM," can be translated into the English perfect tense "I have been." The religious leaders were infuriated. When Christ made this claim, the incensed Hebrews picked up stones, intending to pound Christ into the ground. The Lord walked right through the mob, unscathed. Now that’s something YHWH would do!
Why is God so particular about how His Name is used? The Bible teaches that when something is “holy,” it is set apart as sacred. When something “ordinary,” it is profane.
Taking God’s name in vain makes God too small. He can't control the universe. He can't answer your prayers. An everyday God can't do extraordinary things. We drag Him through the mud of our mundane lives.
James 3:9-10 teaches us our tongue can be ignited by hell. The wagging appendage can be bipolar-blessing & cursing. With our tongues, we can encourage or trash-talk.
Jesus taught us to pray with these words: “Our Father, who is in heaven, holy is Your Name.” Matthew 6:9.
The next time you use God’s name, try one of these:
YAHWEH-JIREH: "The Lord Will Provide" (Genesis 22:14) – God’s name spoken by Abraham when God provided the ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac.
YAHWEH-RAPHA: "The Lord Who Heals" (Exodus 15:26) – “I am Jehovah who heals you” both in body and soul. In body, by preserving from and curing diseases, and in soul, by pardoning your sin.
YAHWEH-NISSI: "The Lord Our Banner" (Exodus 17:15), where banner is understood to be a rallying place. This name commemorates the desert victory over the Amalekites in Exodus 17.
YAHWEH-M'KADDESH: "The Lord Who Sanctifies, Makes Holy" (Leviticus 20:8; Ezekiel 37:28) – God makes it clear that He alone, not the law, can cleanse His people and make them holy.
YAHWEH-SHALOM: "The Lord Our Peace" (Judges 6:24) – the name given by Gideon to the altar he built after the Angel of the Lord assured him he would not die as he thought he would after seeing Him.
YAHWEH-ELOHIM: "LORD God" (Genesis 2:4; Psalm 59:5) – a combination of God’s unique name YHWH and the generic “Lord,” signifying that He is the Lord of Lords.
YAHWEH-TSIDKENU: "The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16) – As with YHWH-M’Kaddesh, it is God alone who makes man right with God in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who became sin for us “that we might become the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
YAHWEH-ROHI: "The Lord Our Shepherd" (Psalm 23:1) – After David thought about his relationship as a shepherd to his sheep, he realized that was exactly the relationship God had with him, and so he declares, “Yahweh-Rohi is my Shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
YAHWEH-SHAMMAH: "The Lord Is There” (Ezekiel 48:35)
Colossians 3:17 states, "…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." NIV
Using exclamations like OMG may not seem like a big deal, but we MUST make it our goal to glorify God with every word we say, knowing He knows our heart and desire to honor Him.
Listen to Dr. Roger Barrier’s Sermon: “Confident Prayer: Praying the Names of God.”
For more study of the names of God, read “The Names of God” by Ken Hemphill.
- 2015May 01
Loving your mother-in-law can be a mixed bag. My mother-in-law made it abundantly clear that she didn’t approve of me from Day One. Her son, an angelic boy scout who surrendered to preach at the age of seven, could do no wrong. Helen had already handpicked Allison, her best friend’s daughter and childhood playmate, as an appropriate match for her perfect child.
Roger and I fell in love at first sight when I began my freshman year at Baylor University. He was a fiery young preacher who needed a pianist/singer to lead worship for his church services. I fit the bill. But I had not come across Mama Helen’s radar yet. When she heard of her son’s evil plot to thwart her arranged marriage, all hell broke loose. Although my future husband and I had been dating seriously for a year, his mom would not permit me to be photographed with him at his ordination.
Her reasons? I talked too much. I wasn’t from his home church. I was too charismatic. And he only wanted me for my body. Are you serious?
Finally, fifteen years and two children later, she decided I was going to stick around. We learned to love each other.
The Bible has much to say about mother-in-laws. Naomi, Moabitess Ruth’s mother-in-law, loved and cherished her widowed daughter-in-law. She was instrumental in helping Ruth to find a godly husband. Manipulative Rebekah caused her son Jacob to deceive her husband Isaac while he lay gasping on his deathbed. I imagine the integrity or lack thereof really influenced Jacob’s treatment of his wives, Leah and Rachel. The melodramatic story would top the ratings charts on daytime television. Lot’s wife’s worldliness almost got her daughters-in-law killed when she refused to leave Sodom under siege. And, Eve, well…how many mother-in-laws do you know who caused the fall of all mankind? Bummer.
Like it or not, if you have a husband, you married the kit and caboodle. You married a family. Whether parents-in-law or adult children realize it or not, the choices that are made are life altering for the entire clan.
For many parents, the grace to love and enfold these new family-members-by-law is a mere continuum of the parental love they enjoy with their own kids. However, some situations may require an attitude adjustment. Inevitably, embarrassing moments and even outright conflicts occur in in-law relationships. Sometime the problem happens not out of a vindictive, hateful motive, but simply out of ignorance or insensitivity.
Many women (and some men) complain that their mothers-in-law are meddling, over-bearing, critical, demanding and possessive.
Now I have walked in their shoes. And I have decided that “mother-in-lawing” is not easy. When I look at my daughters, I see them as little chicks protected under my wings. I can suffocate them and be driven by the fear that their husbands cannot take care of them. My daughters are wonderful! But I always walk the tightrope of watching my words and keeping my expectations in check. Plus I have learned to encourage, encourage, encourage. I also need to trust them to be grownups, to have their own families and to make their own decisions.
What does the Bible teach us about in-law relationships? Here are a few verses:
1. God commands spouses to “leave and cleave.” (Genesis 2:23-24).
A man and woman must leave their birth families and begin a new family, and they are to love and protect each other. A husband who allows his mother or his mother-in-law to interfere with his marriage is not living up to the commandment given to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-33. Husbands, love your wives by setting appropriate boundaries when necessary. Lead your family and mediate conflict.
2. God wants children to honor their parents.“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12. Honor may look like caring for them in old age, respecting them, listening to their wisdom and spending time with them when possible. Many extended families throughout the world often live together in the same house. Grandmothers and mothers-in-law often assist in the care of newborn infants. Share your kids with your parents and in-laws when possible. Don’t rob your children of half the toys; attention and hugs grandparents want to give!
3. Your mother-in-law has needs. “Jesus got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's home Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her.” Luke 4:38. Aging parents will need more and more care. Pray for them as well.
4. Be forgiving. Cut each other some slack. Try to walk in the shoes of the other person. My mother-in-law Helen cowered under her bed every night of her childhood, hiding from an alcoholic, abusive dad. She lost her pilot-husband in a fatal plane crash during World War II. She had an anxiety disorder. I should have seen how hard it was for her to live her daily life battling fear and depression. Christians can always give the grace of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32).
If you can’t love your mother-in-law as a mom, befriend her. If you can’t befriend her, love her as your neighbor. If you can’t love her as your neighbor, love her as your enemy!
- 2015Apr 21
Forget eHarmony or any other online matchmaking site. If you need some tips on finding love, perhaps these weird and wonderful Old Testament tales will inspire you. We will also examine four passionate Bible love stories to help you win a heart.
But just for fun…hilarious Bible dating advice:
Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her a new wardrobe. Then she’s yours: Any old Hebrew guy (Deuteronomy 21:11-13).
Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and you’ll definitely find someone: Cain (Genesis 4:16-17).
Don’t be picky. Collect as many girls as you can get. Surely one will make you happy: Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3).
Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter as your prize: David (I Samuel 18:27).
Go to a party and hide. When the women come outside to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife: Benjaminites…those party animals! (Judges 21:19-2).
Just kidding. But God gives some advice that could change your love life.
Unconditional acceptance, passion and perseverance, wisdom and discretion, fearlessness and faithfulness are irresistible qualities any man or woman desires.
No one showed unconditional acceptance like Hosea. God commanded Hosea, his prophet, to wed and bed a prostitute. Beautiful Gomer wandered away from her husband and family, repeatedly deserting them to return to her sordid life as a whore. But Hosea rescued his bride, filthy and frail, from the slave-trader’s auction block. Hosea redeemed his unfaithful wife for an exorbitant amount, swept her up into his forgiving arms and brought her home. The amazing love story of Hosea and Gomer demonstrates God’s unfailing love for an unfaithful, idolatrous people.
If you are a Gomer, it’s never to late to repent and return to God. His compassion will renew and restore you. No matter what your past may be, God will help you experience real love.
If you are a Hosea, don’t give up. The great heart of God can teach you unconditional acceptance. No perfect person exists, but a great heart attracts great love.
Persistence and perseverance was demonstrated by the most unlikely of Bible characters. Jacob was no candidate for man of the year. Sneaky and selfish, he fled his father’s house because he deceived his elderly father and stole his older brother’s birthright and blessing. However, this con man learned persevering love for a woman, and his devotion shows us how we can win a heart. Jacob stole one glance at stunning Rachel and it was love at first sight. But God gave Jacob a taste of his own medicine. His uncle Laban cheated him. As Laban’s nephew, Jacob agreed to work seven years with smelly sheep to win Rachel’s hand. The wedding night was a disaster. Laban replaced Rachel with her older sister Leah while Jacob snored in a drunken stupor. The foggy bridegroom awoke to find homely Leah in his bed. (There’s more to this story…) But Jacob persevered. He promised to work another seven years for his beloved Rachel. The Bible said Jacob was so smitten the time flew by. Do you know anyone who would tirelessly toil for fourteen years to win the woman of his dreams? Jacob worked and waited. And Rachel was worth the wait!
Nowadays, most of us display the patience of a gnat. We pitch a fit if our internet is too slow. Speed dating is the order of the day, and nobody waits for marriage to hook up with a potential partner. Shame on us! Love is hard work. If you want to truly, deeply love someone, you have to be persistent and patient.
Wisdom and discretion can be winning qualities to attract a good husband or wife. Abigail was married to a jerk and a drunkard. Her fat, rich, lazy husband Nabal refused to show hospitality to David’s mighty men. Dumb decision! But Abigail was one savvy woman. When she discovered the devastating news and impending destruction of her family, she hurriedly prepared a sumptuous feast, bowed low and apologized to David for Nabal’s rudeness. When foolish Nabal sobered up and found out what might have happened to him, he keeled over with a massive coronary. David remembered the widow’s gracious wisdom, and took her as his wife.
Do you feel trapped, surrounded by losers? Hold your ground. Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Find a church. Serve God well. Be a catch and God will reward your spiritual maturity and discreet behavior.
The romance of Ruth and Boaz is remarkable glimpse into a love built on fearlessness and faithfulness. Ruth came to Israel a poor widow in a foreign land. She devoted her life to the care of her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi was a sad, bitter old woman. (Naomi cried, “call me Marah” which means “bitter.” The lovely Moabitess, undaunted by setbacks and heartache, faithfully gleaned in a rich relative’s field to survive. Boaz noticed the young woman’s loyalty and integrity. He admired her and showed her favor by generously providing for this sweet young woman. Following her mother-in-law’s advice, Ruth made a daring robe-proposal. She slept at the feet of her benefactor, a near-kinsman of Naomi. In doing so, Ruth asked Boaz to marry her. This was no sexually-charged proposition. In fact, she demonstrated the true qualities of holiness and loyalty to her family. Boaz was delighted. Ruth walked a hard road of grief, pain and isolation. Her Heavenly Father rewarded her with a devoted husband, a son, and the honor of being the great-great-grandmother of Jesus.
Be a godly man or woman. But be gutsy too. Follow where He leads and you may find your Boaz or Ruth just around the corner!