OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[Feb 13]--Valuing God’s Name

Exodus 20:7

I sometime get amused by “Christian cussing.” You know, when a Christian who’s trying to watch his language uses a near-miss word instead of profanity: “Gosh darn it” or “son-of-a-gun,” for example. Although this verse doesn’t really address the issue of profanity, believers use this command as a reminder to be careful about our speech. It’s always good to be careful about your speech, but naturally everyone knows what the person is trying to say without saying it.

Traditionally, a lot of Christians have used this verse to outlaw using the Lord’s name (either “God” or “Jesus” or some derivative) as a swear word. This is why you won’t hear orthodox or practicing Jews use the name “Yahweh” which is probably how the name “I am” was pronounced in the original Hebrew. They took this command so seriously that they substituted the name Adonai (a generic term for “lord” or “master”) when his name came up for public reading of Scripture. Even today, if they are writing about him, they will use the word G-d instead of spelling out that simple three-letter word. Their reasoning is that if you never actually use his name, you can’t misuse it.

While it is true that using our beloved Lord’s name as a swear word shows a lack of respect (and so it’s not a good idea), I would submit that by just focusing on this aspect, we miss a large part of the command. I found out about this alternate interpretation of the third Commandment while listening to Dennis Prager (a conservative Jewish pundit) on his national radio program. He’s a political commentator, but he also teaches the Torah from the original Hebrew in weekly Bible classes, and has taken 18 years to complete the course one time with his students. He claims that this verse has more to do with how we live than just with our speech. The verse was rendered “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” in the King James, and we’re told not to “misuse” his name according to the NIV. According to Prager, however, literally the verse orders us not to “carry the name of the Lord your God wrongly.” He interprets this to mean that when we “carry” his name (meaning his reputation) as his ambassadors and we misrepresent him by our conduct, the Lord takes that very seriously. This is the only commandment with a special warning that he won’t hold someone guiltless who disobeys him in this (notice there’s no such warning attached to murder or adultery), and if this interpretation is correct we can see why.

For example, ask any server at a restaurant about “hell day.” This is their common slang for Sunday, when tons of Christians come in for lunch after church wearing nice clothes, pray extensively over their meal, and then proceed to treat their server like something you scrape off your shoe (being rude to them, leaving a mess and no tip, etc.). Or think about the times that you cut someone off while sporting a Christian bumper sticker. And what do the people at work think about you?

Look, I think that Prager overstates his case when he says that this commandment only has to with our behavior, not our speech. It's disrespectful to speak of God in any flippant way. The Lord Jesus solemnly warns us that "everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken." But Dennis makes a strong point that when we misrepresent him by our conduct, when we cause nonbelievers to turn away from the Lord because of how we act, I happen to think that God Almighty takes that extremely seriously, maybe even more seriously than letting a "curse" word slip.

You might never use a swear word in your everyday language, but how are you “carrying” his name to the people you encounter?

Father God, you are perfect, and I’m certainly not. Please let people see more of you and less of me. By how I speak and how I act, may I proclaim whom I belong to.

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