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Worship

What a great and awesome blessing it is to gather with other people of Faith to worship him who is the Lord of Life and the Savior of our Souls.  Even upon entering the place that has been designated for worship – whether in a cathedral or sanctuary, a simple room or under a tree beside the lake, there is a sense of divine Presence.  Hearts become attuned to the heart of God in preparation for a time of lifting up our voices as we sing praises, offer our tithes and gifts, kneel at his holy altar and hear the life-transforming Word proclaimed.
 
Little wonder that the Word of God instructs us:  “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:25
 
Worship revitalizes our faith, feeds our spirits, strengthens our resolve and serves to encourage us as we face the various issues of life around us beyond the confines of the venue in which we gather.
 
Sometimes people can be heard to say, upon leaving a time of worship, “Wasn’t that a great worship service this morning?”  Others join in, “Yes, couldn’t you just feel the Spirit?”  Still others, “And the worship songs, weren’t they beautiful?  The worship team did an outstanding job.”  And others, “Yes, and Pastor preached a powerful message.”  Occasionally, one is heard to say, “Well, I wasn’t fed this morning.  I didn’t get anything out of it!”
 
Over all, though, the worshippers are pleased with the service and are glad that they came, for it made them feel so good and gave them some direction for the new week.  A video of the service is then posted on Face Book or Instagram, “what a great service of worship we had at Church of the Happy Hour this morning,” with a backdrop of changing light colors and occasional wisps of artificial fog to add to the visual tantalization.  Apparently it serves to add to the mystical, ethereal and supernatural atmosphere of the event, called worship.
 
Ultimately, however, the question must be asked, “Was God pleased with the worship this morning?  Was God impressed with the program?  Was the focus of the worship on the “Great and Glorious” God of Creation or the “Looking for Something to Make Me Feel Good” Human Heart.  Did God sense that the hearts of the people were in tune with his heart?  Did the singing and the sharing and the speaking bring honor and praise and glory and joy to the Heart of the One who was being worshipped?  After all, isn’t worship all about God?
 
When the hosts of heaven worship, they break forth with full attention on the One who is worthy of all worship:  “They fell down on their faces before the throne, saying “Amen! Praise and Glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Amen!” [Revelation 7:11, 12]
 
Perhaps when we gather for worship and realize that we stand in the very presence of THAT God, we may emulate the heavenly hosts and fall down on our faces with repentant and contrite hearts, realizing in whose Presence we are privileged to be and the condition of the lives that we bring into worship!
 
“Lord God, teach us how to worship. Jesus said that you are seeking people who will worship you in Spirit and in Truth.  Show us how to do that so that it will bring joy to your heart here, and prepare us to then join with the hosts of heaven to worship you eternally.  Amen.”
 

Scarred for Life

Virtually everyone has at least one scar.  Check to see if there is one on your body.  Somewhere in our normal daily activities we usually experience a cut, accidentally or intentionally.  For example, we may pick up a sharp knife and the blade slips through our hand or across a wrist as we drop it and the result is a serious cut.
 
And too, we may experience a broken bone or a tumor inside our body and it is then necessary for a physician to use a sharp surgical scalpel to cut into the body to repair the damage.  There are many ways by which we may have been cut or wounded.
 
Whatever the cause, or need, for a cut to happen to our bodies, there is designed within our bodies the God-created and God-given provision for healing to happen.  God has designed the body to heal itself.  The blood that is produced by the bone marrow has within it – with rare exception, the healing properties of an immune system to keep the body healthy.
 
Immediately following a cut, blood flows.  That blood cleanses the wound and at the same time the white cells rush to protect the body from the invasion of bacteria and possible infection.  The body then works to close the wound and form a scab to protect it so that healing can happen.  Natural healing is a basic part of God’s design and it is depended upon by all who are in the healing professions whose job it is to help the body heal when it cannot heal itself.
 
One of the end results of experiencing a cut, in addition to the healing that happens, is that there is often left a scar.  Depending on the seriousness of the cut, a scar can be barely visible or it can be very obvious and ugly.  It may have no impact on the rest of our lives, or, in some cases, it may have dramatic impact on how we can function.  Whether great or small, however, a scar is the sign of a healed wound.  We may be scarred for life, but the scar is evidence that we still have life.  We can live with scars.  We may be scarred, but life goes on, because life is more than the scars we wear.
 
The same principle is true with the unseen scars in our lives.  We may be emotionally wounded by experiencing a traumatic event.  It may be the death of a loved one or an unkind word spoken by a person who has no intention of wounding, but it does, nevertheless.  It may come as the result of watching one or more of our children choose a wrong lifestyle or of a friend betraying a confidence.  Wounds happen, sometimes leaving deep and unseen scars inside.
 
We may even be scarred for life by those inner wounds.  Scarred though we may be, life goes on!  We may be wounded, but we’re still alive.  Life is far more than the inner or outer scars we pick up as we go through life.
 
Scars can serve as a constant reminder that God has brought me through.  I am a survivor.  Seen on the body, they are a visible reminder to me that I have a healed wound and I am alive.  Unseen within the body, they are still a reminder that, even though the issue and resulting wound may or may not be healed, it has not killed me.  I’m still alive to talk about it.
 
The Apostle Paul reminds us that we have this treasure [this light and life of God] in clay pots or “jars of clay.” [II Corinthians 4:7-10]  These fragile lives of ours can be hurt and even broken.  Regardless of what happens to these bodies and souls of ours, when we are in Jesus, we discover that the scars and wounds of our lives matter very little.  They do not determine the quality and value of our lives. 
 
What really matters is that, as Believers in Jesus, our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” [Colossians 3:3].  And our various scars, visible or not, are nothing compared to his.  Jesus was scarred when he hung on the cross – ugly, deep scars that disfigured his face and body, but his scars are a reminder to us that there is life after scars – even scars that result in death.  God’s word reminds us that “by his wounds, we are healed.” [I Peter 2:24]
 
Do you have physical and/or emotional scars in your life?  Check to see.  Then give praise to God!  You’re still alive!  He brought you through!  Even better, you’re alive in Jesus!  Because of his scars - and stripes and beatings and bleeding and dying and rising from the dead, you and I are alive – forever!  Compared to that, what’s a little wound in our emotions or a little scrape on our bodies?
 

WHEN HEAVEN JUMPS TO ITS FEET

     There is one thing, more than any other thing, that makes all of heaven jump to its feet in celebration.  One verse in Scripture declares what it is.  “There is more rejoicing in heaven over one [get that - ONE] sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous people who do not need to repent.”  Luke 15:7
     With that statement, Jesus concludes his three parables that are related to the lost being found: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son – each of which was found and resulted in great rejoicing.  When the lost person is found, there is great rejoicing in heaven.  Actually, there is also little on earth to compare with seeing a lost person come to Jesus and realize that in him, they have come out of “lostness” into “foundness;” they have come out of darkness in to the Light; out of ignorance into understanding; out of death into life; out of sin into salvation; out of hell into heaven.  That also gives cause for rejoicing while we Believers in Christ are yet here on earth.
     What is that one thing, that one event that takes place that makes all of hell jump to its feet in celebration?  Is it possible that Satan rejoices when no one seeks the lost and they stay lost?  Does all hell jump to its feet when it sees the ninety nine righteous people go their merry way and pay no attention to the one weak, straggling, lost sheep that can be easily picked off?  Satan loves to ‘pick out’ and ‘pick off.’  Do the minions of hell celebrate when they see the ones called ‘Righteous’ fighting over doctrine as to who is right and who is wrong, while their neighbors are trapped in sin that leads to death? 
     Do demons tell each other to just be patient because many of the “Found” can’t seem to agree whether there even is a hell or that anyone is lost?  Just be patient!  Then we can celebrate!
     Jesus made it very clear that he “came to seek and save the lost.” [Luke 19:10]  He came to seek and save the lost so that they would not be lost forever.  He came to take away any reason for Satan and Hell to celebrate.  Perhaps that is one reason as to why he has called you and me to share the good news of God’s love for all people, so that the lost can be found, and all heaven – including us “Found ones” here on earth, can jump also to our feet in joyful celebration.
 

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Thank You for Giving Through GiveBIG

In spite of the media problems we experienced on Give BIG day, we received $13,609.34 doubled to $27,218.68 plus $774.00 from the stretch fund.  All together, we received $27,992.68. Some people accidentally donated double or triple amounts because the giving site (Kimbia) was timing out and experiencing difficulty handling the load.  If you are one of those people and would like to be reimbursed for your additional gifts please let us know.  We will refund the amounts you did not intend to give.  Thank you for your participation and patience.  God's blessings on each of you. --  Peg

Give Big 2015

Be a part of something bigger 

GiveBIG May 5, 2015

The Seattle Foundation has made it easy for you to make contribution to the community non profit organization of your choice. Wind of the Spirit has now been included as a organization to receive donations through this program. If you would like to make a donation to WOSM please click below.

 

Give Big 2015: Wind of the Spirit Ministries

Turning the World Upside Down

Turning the World Upside Down
"These men who have turned the world upside down has come here also."  Acts 17:6
            We normally think of Jesus as a quiet, gentle and kind man who went about doing good things.  And it is true.  He was truly a gentle and kind man who blessed our human family with amazingly good things - like love, forgiveness and healing.
            In reality, however, Jesus was a revolutionist.  You do not get yourself crucified just because you are gentle and kind.  He turned his world upside down.  His disciples were revolutionists also.  At one point someone complained that Paul and his companions had been turning the world upside down and now they had come here [the town of Thessalonica] to do the same thing.  Something has to be done!  It was.  The townspeople started a riot.
            Jesus, and his message, was extremely popular with the common people, but extremely unpopular with some of the leading citizens, especially among those in the religious establishment.  In some cases, his popularity or lack of it hasn't changed with either of these two groups.
            What super-patriot could embrace the idea of loving your enemy and praying for those who persecute you?  This is treason.  Besides, if you did that, you wouldn't have anyone to blame for your own meanness, or you being the way you are.
            If Jesus were walking among us today, he would not be in favor with the morticians.  He never attended a funeral without raising the dead person back to life.  There goes the mortuary industry.
            Our current Labor Unions would organize strikes.  Whoever heard of paying to a man who works one hour the same wages you pay a man for working twelve hours?  What about "overtime" and "union scale" and "right to work" and all those benefits?
            Preachers might not feel too comfortable in his presence either, for degrees and office and world tours and scholarly achievements and praying in public or giving invocations at coronations never seemed to impress him too greatly.  At least his comments on these kinds of things didn't make him too popular with the Pharisees and Sadducees , who were the two-party political and religious establishment of that day.
            Jesus was, indeed, a revolutionist!  And Christianity is in revolution!  At least the Christianity that reflects the life of Jesus!  If you are going to follow Christ and his ways, it means revolting against the old, sinful, worn out ways of thinking and living.  There is no longer any room for hate and bitterness and prejudice, self-righteousness and entitlement.  One may even have to revolt against the "politically correct" ways of the society in which we live.
            This may not win a person many new friends.  In fact, one may become about as popular as a wart on the finger of a violinist.  But to people who have their hopes and their dreams pinned on that goal of perfect freedom in Christ for all humanity, popularity is not even an issue.  It means nothing!
            In this life, Christians are not engaged in a popularity contest.  Rather, we are fighting for our lives - and the lives of others, so that all of us together may become the kind of human family that God has in mind for us to be.
            In the midst of it all, the old world - and especially those entrenched in preferred places of leadership and entitlement, still complains, "These Christians are turning everything upside down!"
            May this always be the case until that time when everyone in this upside down world experiences a relationship with Him who makes everything right side up!
 

The Divorce Symdrom

THE DIVORCE SYNDROME
Rev. Larry L. Eddings
 
“I, John [Jane], take you Jane [John], to be my wedded wife [husband], to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as life shall last, according to God’s holy law.  And thereto, I pledge you my faith.”
 
And with those vows, John and Jane declare their covenant love for each other, become husband and wife and set out on an adventure that will carry them through times of joy and sorrow, change and growth, successes and defeats and years of learning more and more about each other.  They hope to share a lifetime together, perhaps have children, fulfill their professional dreams and enjoy the comforts of old age watching their grandchildren grow up.
 
Through courtship, marriage and honeymoon they begin the process of knowing each other relationally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Communication becomes essential, adjustments and compromises become a regular part of the process of getting to know each other.  Soon it becomes apparent that personality differences and personal likes and dislikes are realities with which to be reckoned.  There develops a new awareness of personality traits that have not been surfaced up to this point in the relationship.
 
A good, strong relationship is marked by the ability to communicate, listen and respond to each other and working on the issues until there is an agreed consensus and solution.  A relationship in danger is marked by anger, resentment and a strong emphasis on self and personal agendas.  Depending on John and Jane’s willingness to work on their own issues and problems, as well as recognize the strength in their spouse, the marriage will either experience fulfillment or end up with a divorce.
 
In the American Culture, divorce happens on the average of one in three marriages.  In some segments of society and areas of the nation, the rate is one divorce in every two marriages.  The breakup of the traditional American family is happening at an alarming rate.
 
At issue here is not so much the fact that the percentages of divorces are high, but that divorce is seen as the solution to problems that develop within the married relationship.  One has only to set in the courtroom where family issues are dealt with to discover that divorce is, in the vast majority of cases, the least desirable way in which to endeavor to solve marital difficulties.
 
Men and women who are seeking divorce are convinced that to put an end to their marriage is to put an end to the relationship.  To move out from under the same roof is equated with exiting each other’s life.  Divorce is often viewed as the ultimate way of getting rid of a very difficult part of a person’s life so that they will not have to deal with it any more.  This is deceptive thinking at best and destructive thinking at worst.  Circumstances prevent this from happening.
 
The presence of children, for example, negates any desire on the part of either party to not have to relate to the other party at anytime in the future.  Children necessitate the continuing relationship for the rest of the parents’ lives. 
 
Child custody, attempts at changing child custody; visitation rights, attempts to change visitation rights; child support, attempts at adjusting child support; property settlements, attempts at adjusting property settlements; child involvement in school and sporting events, graduations, honors, weddings, baptisms, promotions, anniversaries, holidays, vacations, illnesses, accidents, deaths and all the other usual life-experiences through which children go will automatically bring the parents and now former spouses in touch with each other.
 
Divorce does not necessarily separate two parties nor does it provide a positive solution to the issues with which the two parties must still contend.  Divorce means, in most cases, that two persons do not live together any more.  It does not mean that their lives are not involved with each other or that their decisions do not affect the other persons.
 
Likewise, divorce means that the two parties never work through their own personal problems nor do they learn how to relate to or communicate with persons with whom they differ.  In never dealing with these problems or seeking to have them resolved or healed, they are carried right over into any other relationship – including married relationships that may develop in the future. Unresolved anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred will be carried into other relationships only to be repeated in another environment.
 
Negative attitudes, a need to control, insensitivity, laziness, hyperactivity and other such personality traits are lifestyles that do not provide positive reinforcement in relationships.  These do not change with divorce; they are simply transferred to another setting and, in the process, often intensified.
 
Personal habits of alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual misconduct, infidelity and other destructive behavior patterns are not cured through divorce.  And, if professional help is not sought to overcome these, they continue into other relationships and achieve the same destructive results they have in the initial relationship.
 
Divorce is not a cure.  It is an undesirable attempt to solve very difficult and complicated relational problems in a marriage.  Divorce is an attitude and one that is pervasive in the American society.  It is a destructive syndrome that is systemic in this culture.
 
The divorce syndrome is not only true of marriages but it is also pervasive and systemic in the Church, and especially in the professional appointive system of The United Methodist Church.  Denominational and Para-churches that use other systems for the assignment or securing of pastoral leadership are not exempt from this struggle.  There is strength in the traditional appointive system. However, we must recognize and acknowledge some of its inherent weakness and endeavor to deal with them.
 
When the Bishop and Cabinet appoints a clergy person to a local church, he or she is appointed as Shepherd of the flock, Pastor to the people, Leader of the congregation and Overseer of the local Church Body.  He or she is authorized to preach the Word, administer the Sacraments and maintain the Order of the church.
 
In a very real way a covenant relationship – a type of marriage, is established between the newly appointed pastor and the people of the church.  They become united with a [hopefully] common vision, purpose, sense of mission and a desire to follow the mandate of Christ to preach the gospel, heal the sick and help people become disciples of Jesus Christ.  Generally, there is a “good marriage,” where the personality of the pastor and that of the congregation seem to match and things go well as they work together for the good of the church and community in which it exists.
 
After a “honeymoon” period, which is a time for getting to know each other relationally, emotionally, spiritually and being in each other’s physical presence, different facets of personalities begin to surface that may not have been evident at first.  Consultations, discussions, compromise and adjustments then become a part of the development of good relationships between pastor and people.
 
As with any relationship, differences are bound to happen.  Differing personality types and differing opinions can create times of tension and even turmoil.  Problems develop that necessitate careful listening and positive responses.  It is in those times of stress that it is exceedingly important for the parties involved to set together in dialogue and seek ways to work through their differences.  There may not be total consensus on every issue, but it is necessary to reach a place where all have opportunity to deal with the issue at hand and seek to find a common ground on which agreement can be reached so that the primary work of the church can proceed.
 
When a pastor is in a church for a longer period of time [perhaps seven years or even fifteen] he or she has opportunity to work through his or her own issues as well as help the congregation work through theirs.  Together they create the problems and together they must have opportunity to work them through.  If they do not, both the pastor and the local church will continue with the same inability to settle differences, work through disagreements to a positive conclusion and will not have learned to function in an atmosphere of diversity that is present in every church setting.
 
Any change in pastoral leadership at this point simply allows the pastor to carry his or her issues into the next church and also allows the local church to carry its same issues into the relationship with the new pastor it will receive.  In both cases the same unresolved issues would most likely impact the new relationships in the same way.
 
If they do work them through, they have a productive ministry.  Then, when a pastor who is involved in such a productive ministry feels that he or she is to serve in another place, or the Cabinet suggests such a move, it is made with positive feelings and a sense of celebration.  Both the pastor and local church celebrate the covenant they have shared and still share even as he or she goes to another appointment and they receive a new pastor.
 
And too, there are times when a pastor will enter into a covenant relationship with a particular church, knowing that in due process he or she will be appointed to a “larger and better one.”  This present appointment is simply a temporary stop on the way to bigger and better things.  It is somewhat like being married to one person while courting other possibilities.  Consequently there is never a total commitment to the congregation but only to personal agendas related to the part that congregation is presently playing in the pastor’s plan for his or her career.  Such attitudes do not provide for a healthy relationship between the pastor and congregation any more than it does between a husband and wife.  It amounts to emotional adultery.
 
Often when difficulties arise in a local church between pastor and congregation and they have to struggle to work out the differences, the Cabinet – either at the request of the pastor or the congregation, moves the pastor to another church at the next session of Annual Conference.  As a result, the covenant commitment is broken without the problems being faced or solved. 
 
The same thing is at issue here as in a marital divorce.  The principle is the same.  We believe that if we can separate the two parties and team them up with someone else then everyone can live happily ever after.
 
We appear to be looking for a combination of pastor/congregation that will work effectively with a minimum of conflict.  The difficulty with that reasoning is that it doesn’t work!  The pastor, who has had some responsibility in creating the tension in the relationship is allowed to leave it behind without facing up to that responsibility.  It is easy to go away blaming the congregation for his or her difficulties in that appointment.  Or, perhaps worse yet, he or she blames the previous pastor[s] for their troubles.  He or she then goes on to another congregation carrying with them the same attitudes and grievances, now further supported and validated by the most recent church experience.
 
Hence, there is no healing of the hurts, no forgiveness, no reconciliation and no positive feelings toward those with whom life has been shared for a period of time.  The Cabinet, in this instance, facilitates dysfunctional behavior by both the clergy and the local church.
 
Likewise, when a pastoral/congregational “divorce” is allowed to happen – or, in some cases forced to happen, that congregation never faces up to its part in the breakup of that relationship.  They simply receive a new pastor and repeat the same process that happened with the last one.  Never having or taking opportunity to explore why there is disunity in the body, why there is no common vision, why there is an endless jockeying for leadership, why there is disagreement with the pastoral leadership, why it has had a continuing history of inability to relate to its pastors, the local congregation carries with it the same destructive attitudes into the new relationship.  And, the whole dysfunctional process starts all over again.
 
One result of such attitudes in that local church is a series of short-term appointments with the congregation saying things like “Why can’t we get a pastor who will stay for more than two years?”  Or “Why can’t ‘they’ send us someone who is more qualified?”  Or “Why can’t we get a pastor who understands us?”
 
Inwardly they may not want a pastor for more than two years or more qualified or who understands them or else they may have to begin exploring answers as to why they are as they are.  Congregations have only to look back over their history, check to see how long their pastors stayed with them and ask themselves “why?” if they truly desire to discover an answer to their questions.  Long-term pastoral leadership can be seen as a threat to entrenched attitudes or power groups within that local church.
 
Local churches are just as guilty as the pastor and the Annual Conference Cabinet for using divorce as a solution to their problems.  Churches who constantly request the appointment of another pastor have the divorce syndrome.  “Maybe next time we can get a good match.”  Pastors who are constantly looking for another appointment have a divorce syndrome.  “Maybe I will get a better church.”  Cabinets who continually move pastors when problems arise in the local congregation have the divorce syndrome.  “Maybe this appointment will be a good one for both the pastor and the church.”
 
All are thinking the same thing: “The next appointment will work out better than this one.”  Perhaps so, but the problems still go begging for solutions.
 
The divorce syndrome is simply a symptom of a deeper sickness.  We are not willing to acknowledge our own weaknesses or imperfections as pastors or congregations, but only the other person’s weaknesses and imperfections.  We do not seek to forgive those who hurt us or seek forgiveness from those we hurt.  We are not open to the Scriptural admonition to be reconciled to one another.  Whether in the marriage relationship or the church, the sickness is “self” and what I want – not what is good for the whole Body and the covenant relationships within the Body.
 
Perhaps we should place more emphasis on making the appointment [marriage] work and seek ways to work through our differences so that we may become a “union” of people who demonstrate to the world that love works – even among those who may not agree and especially among those who believe that with God all things are possible.
 
 
 

A New Year's Resolution

A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION
Coram Deo, 2014
 
It is a long standing practice in many parts of the world for people to make certain New Year’s resolutions related to what they plan to do with their lives during the coming year.  They resolve to do things like, be more punctual at work, eat healthier food, establish a regular exercise program, quit being a procrastinator, clean out the garage, quit complaining about the neighbors barking dogs and all kinds of other resolutions in an effort to live a better life during the year 2014.
 
Usually, by the end of January 30, or perhaps even January 2, the well intended resolution[s] has been laid aside and life returns to the familiar and well developed life habits.  “Oh well,” the rationalizing goes, “I will work at it if it comes to mind [procrastination] and see if I can make a new list for next year.”
 
I want to suggest a resolution that can and will work PROVIDED you do not try to do it yourself, but call upon God’s Holy Spirit to help you.  If this ONE resolution is put into place in your life, then all the other resolutions that you may want to accomplish will happen as serendipity of this one.
 
This is it:  “In 2014, and all the years to follow, I resolve to live my life coram Deo.  That means, I resolve to live my life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.”  When I resolve to live my life, using Jesus as my role model and example of what Life is all about, then the Holy Spirit of God enables me to live in such a way that all the other things that impact my life in any way – whether people or projects, will follow.
 
Said in another way, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.”  Matthew 6:33
 
May our Holy God guide you with his Holy Spirit and so enable you – and me, to walk in the way in which Jesus lived his life here on earth – in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. Coram Deo!
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR
 

What's In A Name

WHAT’S IN A NAME?
 
A person’s name is very important, for it identifies who that person is in terms of their history - where they came from, as well as their present – who they are now.  When their name is spoken or heard by others, it can elicit responses of respect and admiration or disrespect and disdain.  Most persons usually take their name seriously and endeavor to guard it carefully as it is associated with their own reputation as well as the reputation of their family.
 
God takes his name very seriously!  God’s true identity is associated with who he is and what he is like.  When God sent Moses into Egypt to deliver the Israelites from slavery, Moses asked him for his identity: “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”  [Exodus 3:13, 14] 
 
To those of us who speak English, that may sound like a strange way for God to identify himself, but it states perfectly who God IS!  God identifies himself as the great I AM – not the great “I Was” or “I Am Going to Be.’  Throughout Scripture, God’s Name is identified with being the Great I AM: God is Holy [Leviticus 11:44], God is Spirit [John 4:24], God is Consuming Fire [Hebrews 12:28], God is Light [I John 1:5] and God is Love [I John 4:8].   God’s Name is associated with all of these positive attributes.  Therefore, when God’s Name is mentioned or heard, God desires that it elicit the kind of response that guards his reputation embodied by these words.
 
Since God’s Name is holy, God not only desires, but commands, that it be kept holy by the people who are called by his name.  When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he told them to say “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by thy Name.”  God’s Name is hallowed [or kept holy] as those who are identified with him, think, say and do those things that bring respect and honor to that Name.  Through our words and our actions we either honor or dishonor the Name of God, resulting in other people either honoring or profaning his Name.
 
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, one is given that carries with it severe consequences if disregarded: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the LORD your God will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” [Exodus 20:7]  It is a stern warning to not profane God’s name or use it in ways that bring dishonor and disrespect to God’s reputation, or God will hold him accountable.
 
It also means that we do not take his name in vain in the sense that when we commit ourselves to God and God’s way of life – as demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ, and then live the kind of lives that go against his lifestyle, we have taken his Name in vain.  In effect, we commit ourselves as the Church to be the Bride of Christ and then prostitute our lives in illicit relationships with pagan beliefs and sinful practices.  When that happens we have profaned God’s Name and we have taken it in vain.
 
When the people of Israel profaned the Name of God, he spoke to them through the prophet Ezekiel, “My holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let my holy name be profaned any more; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.”  [Ezekiel 39:7]
 
God is exceedingly jealous for his Name and Reputation for it is of utmost importance to God.  Even when the people of God do not hallow God’s Name, God still works to demonstrate who he is.  His greatest demonstration of that is shown in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.  In effect, God is saying through Christ, “Regardless of what you or anyone else says about my Name, I will show you, in Jesus, who I am and what I am really like.”
 
Jesus told his disciples, “You are the light of the world……Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good deeds and give praise to God in heaven.”  [Matthew 5:14, 16] God’s Name, his reputation, is carefully guarded by those who are identified with him so that it will not be profaned among those who do not know him.
 
When we, the people of God, hallow God’s Name and live the kind of lives that reflect God’s nature, others see what we are like and then, as Jesus said, “give praise [honor] to God in heaven.”  God’s Name is worthy of all praise and is to be carefully guarded by those of us who are called by that name.
 
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