Please pray for Marina Lodder as she goes for surgery this morning (in about 40 minutes from writing.) Two days ago doctors said it is likely that she has cancer. Pray that surgeon’s hands would be moved by the great physician, and that He would grant healing for this young pastor’s wife, mother, and sister in Christ. Pray also for peace and strength for her family and her church family in Cloverdale.
Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:1-7; John 12:46; 2 Peter 1:19
If you are using an advent wreath light the first candle: This light represents the light of the hope that was promised to God’s people. The hope of a saviour. Light the second candle: This light represents the Love of God. His Love for us in spite of our sin. Light the third candle: The third candle represents the Joy we have in Jesus. Light the fourth candle: This candle represents the peace we have in Jesus.
Do you know what peace is?
Most people will say things like, “When there is no war,” or “When I am not fighting with my brother or sister.” But the Bible does not teach that peace is simply the absence of trouble. Sort of like the Joy we talked about last week, Biblical peace is not related to circumstances. You might be suffering trials, wars, or strife and still have biblical peace. Paul told us that he could be content in any circumstance; and last week read he had peace even in prison, where he sang and remained confident that God was being gracious to him. But the peace that Jesus really brings us, is peace between us and God. Since Jesus came to pay the price for our sins, we can have a relationship with God.
Q. Did you know that Jesus was alive long before he was born to Mary?
When the apostle John was an old man he wrote a letter to the church while he was in Ephesus:
“Christ was alive from the very beginning, yet I myself have heard Him speak. I have seen Him with my eyes and touched Him with my hands. He is God’s message of Life.
When He, who is the Life from God, came down to earth, we saw Him and can tell you with certainty that He came down from His Father in heaven and appeared to us.
This message, which we heard from Him, we now pass on to you: God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him but carry on living in spiritual darkness, we are only fooling ourselves. But if we live in the light as He is in the light, we enjoy a wonderful friendship with each other. The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, makes us completely clean from every sin.”
Jesus is God. He has no beginning and no end. Yet he became a man because God loved us so much.
Q. What was the darkness that Jesus came take us out of?
Sin was the darkness. Sin is disobeying God’s commands.
Q. Can you think of some things that you do that are sinful?
It is wonderful that Jesus came to be punished for our sins so that we can be in the light with him.
At this time of year the days are shorter (where we live/ or in Canada etc.) and the evenings are as a dark as night. It is cold and dark outside. But we also see lots of pretty lights on houses and trees, and candles at this time of year. Even the smallest candle will light up a room, and a house with lots of Christmas lights on it can shine very brightly in the neighbourhood.
Q. How can these lights remind us of Jesus?
Jesus came as a light to our world, which had been darkened by sin and death. Like a candle can light up a dark room, Jesus brought the Good News of God’s salvation; shining the light of hope in a dark world. In 2 peter 1:19 we read, ”And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
Q. Can you think of ways to help shine the light of Jesus in the World?
We have four candles lit now. And that is a lot of light! We had Hope, Love, Joy and now we have peace. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus is the prince of peace. We also learned that Jesus is God! We can have great peace because Jesus came to reconcile us to God. And since Jesus is God, that means that God loved us so much that he came to pay for our sins himself! Isn’t that amazing? Jesus is God, and he loves us so much that he has paid for our sins so that we can be at peace with Him!
Please choose your own songs or use the suggestions below. Videos at the end.
Hymn 72 “Behold the Amazing Gift of Love” & Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Hark! the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise;
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of the favored one.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”
Hail! the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”
Ideas to add to your prayer:
- Praise God for goodness; praise him for His love, and mercy
- Confess that we are sinful people, that we are not always the salt and light we are called to be,
- Thank God for the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
- Thank God for sending his son to bear our flesh and curse
- Thank God for the Holy Spirit to work faith in us and cause us to be salt, and cause us to shine with his light, and to grow the fruit of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- Ask God help us to be alike a light on the hill, shining before all men;
- Ask God to strengthen our faith and help us show salt and ligth to our neighbour not only at Christmas time but all the time.
- Ask God for peace on earth.
Tags: Bitterness, cold shoulders, forgiveness, Prayer, resentment
God’s people are so precious. Even the ones you don’t like very much. Even the ones who have harmed you. Even the ones who you believe deserve nothing from you but a cold shoulder – or worse.
Jesus says handle them with love.
Jesus says handle them with the same love that He loves us with.
In Matthew 5:44-45 Jesus commands us to pray for those who hurt us. He is not saying, pray that they leave you alone or that they go away, but pray for them, genuinely! The funny thing is that you cannot genuinely pray for someone without loving that person. Because in order to lift someone up to throne of grace in prayer, you have to have their best interests in mind.
As we pray for them, we also pray that we might see the wrong we may have done to them, we pray for forgiveness for any resentment or bitterness we hold toward them, we ask the Lord to remove the root of bitterness in us and we pray for reconciliation with them. And the crazy, mind blowing, dimension altering thing about this is that as we pray genuinely for someone, and as we dig up the root of bitterness in our own soul, we will discover that our love for that person will push through the soil of our soul and bud….and as it is watered in prayer our love will blossom not only in continued prayer but in action as well.
And let me warn you, at first you will resist. Bitterness is a foul poison!
I want to hate that person!
He hurt me!
He is a Jerk!
He deserves to get my cold shoulder!
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
This is not just about him.
It is about you as well.
Have you prayed for him?
More than once?
Praying is the most loving thing we can do for those who harm us. The apostle Paul warns us in Romans 12 not to take revenge on those who harm us. He says to leave all that vengeance stuff to God. That includes our churchy cold shoulders. Instead he admonishes us to payback evil with good. What? How? If someone has wronged you, instead of giving them the cold shoulder, invite them for dinner. Not just once, but two, three, four times, …77 times. I get that we are all broken people. If he is an unrepentant scoundrel or a proverbial fool, perhaps you will have to excommunicate him from your life until he shows genuine fruit of repentance. However, we must always be willing to forgive once that fruit of repentance is shown, so as far as it depends on you, put away resentment and bitterness and live at peace with each other.
Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” on Sunday morning.
Send a card.
Do something nice without expecting anything in return.
Jesus didn’t turn his back on us and give us the cold shoulder when we messed up…He died for us, He sought us, He loved us, and He commands that we love others the same. As the old kid’s song says, we are all precious in his sight. Including Mr Jerky Face McAngry Guy…
I mean, what is our faith worth if this is not a reality in our lives? Don’t take the easy road and let yourself off the hook by piously admitting that you are weak and that you are learning to grow in this area. That is a pitiful excuse. We are all weak, we are all learning to grow in this area. Beware of bitterness disguising itself as piety.
We must pray! We are children of the most high God, we have the power that raised Christ from the dead dwelling in us! In the strength he provides…we can rid ourselves of the root of bitterness and pray genuinely for that precious person, and in so doing we will watch love bud and blossom in us for them by God’s grace.
Tags: Family Deovtions, Joy Avdvent
Advent: 3rd Sunday
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-15
If you are using an advent wreath light the first candle: This light represents the light of the hope that was promised to God’s people. The hope of a saviour. Light the second candle: This light represents the Love of God. His Love for us in spite of our sin.
We were living in darkness. We were living in sin. Yet even though we turned our backs on God and chose to sin rather than to love God, God still loved us. Isn’t that amazing? We learned that last week. Because He loved us so much he sent Jesus to die for us, to be our great hope. And because of this great hope we have from God’s love, we can have great Joy. Light the third candle. (This candle represents the great Joy that we have because of Jesus) At Christmas time we hear a lot about joy. It is everywhere, on decorations and on christmas cards, and we even sing songs like “Joy to the World.”
Q. The Angel told the shepherds that he brought news of a saviour and that would cause great joy. Do you know what Joy is?
A lot of people think that joy is the same as happiness. Although being happy is a good thing, Joy is more than just happiness. A lot of us feel happy when we have our families together for Christmas. A nice hot meal and a warm fire on a cold night can make us happy as well. Even seeing the beautiful decorations, or twinkling lights can make us happy. But Joy is not exactly the same as happiness. In the Book of Phillippians, the apostle Paul said,
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
He was very joyful wasn’t he? Did you know that he was in Prison when he wrote that? He did not have is family or friends, or his church family, or nice hot meals. He was in chains and probably hadn’t had a bath in a very long time. He probably was not very happy about being in prison, but he still had great joy.
Q. Do you know why the Apostle Paul had great joy, even in a such bad place like prison?
Because of the Love of God, Paul had a great hope in Jesus, his saviour. God’s love, and the hope of salvation in Jesus gave the apostle Paul great Joy – just like the angel said it would! Paul knew that Jesus had paid for all of his sins. So even while he was in prison, he was joyful because of this hope he had in the promises of God. (If using Candles: The light of the prophets reminds us of the HOPE that God gives us. That is why we light the first candle. The second candle represents God’s great LOVE for us. And the third candle reminds of the great JOY we have in our salvation through Jesus.)
God loves us so much. Through the prophets like Isaiah, God promised the Hope of saviour. The angels came to the shepherds to tell them of the news of a saviour and the great joy that would bring. The third week of Advent is about the joy that is ours because God has entered the world. The Angels told of the the birth of the Messiah Jesus. Isn’t it wonderful that God would come into our world? In any situation we can have joy in the knowledge that God is with us in Jesus.
Sing: O Come Oh Come Emmanuel & Joy to the World
Involve the entire family in prayer. Today, ask each person for a prayer request. This could be something to praise God for, or a supplication on someone’s behalf, or something they are thankful for etc. Include these requests in your prayer.
Ideas to add to your prayer:
- Praise God for his justice and mercy and for promising to send his Son to be a light in the darkness;
- Confess that we are sinful and ask God for the forgiveness of sins, the sins that led to living in darkness;
- Thank God for loving us so much even though we were living in darkness.
- Ask God to shine the light of the hope of Jesus in the lives of those still living in darkness;
- Ask God to strengthen our faith and help us shine His love and light to the people around us
- Ask God to increase our joy
- Ask God to provide opportunities to share the gospel message and give the courage to share the good news of Jesus with others.
Tags: Depression, psalm 119:105, SAD
I know people who are struggling far worse than I am right now. But I am dealing with depression in some form. Teresa says it is not as bad as it was a number of years ago when I went for counselling, but I have been really struggling of late. It’s been years since I have felt like this, sort of hollow, desperate…hopeless. The last time was due to my turning my back on God and embracing sin, as well as biological factors.
What is it this time?
And it hurts to admit that I feel like this…
Because my mind tells me it is wrong to feel like this…
How can a Christian be hopeless? Isn’t that not allowed? On top of that, I am blessed with abundance. I have a beautiful wife who loves me, a family, a job, and a great church family. I really never thought I would feel like this ever again. Why? Cuz Jesus saved me…and pulled me out of my pit of despair, out of my sin and sent me down a path in his strength, and I have been on an upward trend, for the most part, spiritually and emotionally for the last 6 or so years.
But here it is…
And yes, Teresa is correct, this is not as bad as it was before. So it could just be a bad case of seasonal affective disorder, that’s what it usually is this time of year. But it feels different, harder, more incessant, darker and it has been progressively closing in on me for a while now… No it’s not unconfessed sin or anything of that nature. It could be a bunch of small stresses piling up or it could be something that needs professional attention. I am keeping tabs on it, keeping in touch with people, and will seek help if it gets any worse. Kinda weird to hear someone talk openly about this isn’t it? It’s just as weird to admit it publicly…
This evening family advent devotions was Psalm 119:105:
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
I was trying to explain to the girls what this means. Living in the 21st century they think of propane lanterns and 100 watt light bulbs and could not fathom what the text was saying. So to demonstrate how a lamp works to light your feet, I took them into a room, walked them to the middle of it, shut the door and turned off the lights.
Kaitlyn (8yo) & Meagan(5yo): “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHERE ARE YOU? IT’S SCARY IN THE DARK!!!!
Me: “Can you see anything?”
K&M: “NO! Turn the lights on!”
I lit a small candle and held it up to head level for the girls. “Can you see now?”
Me: “Can you see the wall?”
Kaitlyn: “Not really.”
Me: “Can you see your feet?”
Me: “Can you see the things you might bump into?”
K & M: “Yes.”
Me : “Even though it is still dark in the room, and you can’t see very far at all, God’s Word will be a light to your feet and a light for your path like this candle. No matter how dark it gets, there is always hope, you will always find your way, because even a little bit of light will remove the darkness. Always hold on to the Word.”
Not sure if they understood, but in the middle of explaining it to the girls, I realized I was preaching to myself…
If it is a biological depression, then I may need professional help or meds, but right now I am treating this as emotional/Spiritual. In my weakness I know that Jesus is strong enough.
He is good enough.
He is enough.
I will cling to the light of the Word as my dark night waxes.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees
to the very end.
Image credit: http://ajgiel.deviantart.com/art/Depression-458741118
Tags: Brad Paisley, Real, Williwam Shatner Real
I have saved the world in the movies,
So naturally there’s folks who think I must know what to do
But just because you’ve seen me on your TV
Doesn’t mean I’m any more enlightened than you
That is the opening stanza of William Shatner’s song, “Real.” Yes. Captain Kirk…sings…kind of…
And can I ever relate to that stanza, not that I am a celebrity or famous – and I do a terrible Captain Kirk impression. But in the past couple of years, through this blog, there have been a number of people who have come to me for advice about serious things, and others who ask me to take sides on important issues, or write about controversial topics…and some people have done their best to persuade me to switch to their side and promote their view of some issue or topic.
After the whole vaccine/measles outbreak thing happened last year in Chilliwack, I scoffed when someone told me that I should more careful about what I write because I have a voice and people look up to me.
People look up to me?
I did not believe it.
But it appears to be true.
And it makes me a bit nervous…
I still don’t really get how it happened. When I named this blog, I intentionally chose “One Christian Dad,” instead of “Super Awesome Jesus Loving Reformed Blogger Guy,” which by the way was a real possibility…or not…to convey the message that I am simply another Christian guy among a whole whack of other Christian guys, I just happen to like reading and writing – so I started a blog. In fact, I started this blog because I did not know how to be a good dad or husband – I did not have a good role model growing up – it was merely intended to be a place of research and accountability. And the title of this blog is what I wanted to be…just one Christian dad. Almost 3 years later I have grown spiritually, and I am a better husband and father than I was back then, but I am hardly the standard to which to aspire. Just ask my wife, family or close friends. I am still struggling along on this journey. I still mess up often. Just last night I was a grumbling, messy, pile of poopy-faced irritability when I got home late after my English final… my wife should not have to put up with that after she had to deal with the kids all day by herself! I can come across as unloving and blunt in my verbal responses to friends and family (I am much better at written responses!). Forgive me.
I echo that sentiment, quoted at the beginning, from the former captain of the Starship Enterprise, with a couple minor changes of course…
I blog a lot about struggles, faith, and Christian living,
So naturally there’s folks who think I must know what to do,
Just because you’ve read me on your computer screen,
doesn’t mean I’m any more enlightened than you.
There is definitely a part of me in each post I write. But I am not just my articles, or my little facebook posts, or the Bible verses I tweet. I am so much more. I am a sinner saved by grace working through this life in the power that raised Christ from the dead…but I still fail and have to daily turn back in repentance. Just because I write about having daily devotions, does not mean I never miss a day. Just because I write about how to be a good dad, does not mean I don’t mess up – often. Just because I point to the promises of God, does not mean I don’t take my eyes off of them from time to time and succumb to selfish discontent.
So I won’t be saving the world today. I will leave that to Captain Kirk. Actually, if you must know, I am feeling a little down today. I skipped personal devotions – but there is still time. I did not sleep well. I am struggling to maintain a positive mindset. I am sorry to disappoint you. But Jesus won’t disappoint you. Look to him alone for he alone is worthy of your praise and adoration.
Never thought I would be writing a blog post with William Shatner as my muse…did you?
I know you want to hear it, so here it is.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7
If you are using an advent wreath, light the first candle: This light represents the light of the hope that was promised to God’s people. The hope of a saviour.
God told the prophets, like Isaiah, that he would send a saviour to make us right with Him again. A saviour who would take us out of the darkness. That saviour has come and his name is Jesus. We learned about the hope we have this past week.
Q. The prophets in the Old Testament spoke about the Hope of a saviour to come. We know that saviour is Jesus. What does it mean that our hope is in Jesus?
The hope we have is not hope like a wish that might not come true, but our hope is in something that really is true. Our hope is in the promises of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus has paid for all our sins. One day he will come back and we will be made perfect because of Jesus. That is our hope.
If you are using an advent wreath light second candle: This candle represents Love.
God Shines with his love on Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem. In fact the Bible tells us that God is love.
Q. God is love, but did you know that because He is Love, He must also hate? Do you know what it is that God hates?
God hates anything that is not holy or good. God loves us, but hates our sin. When we do bad things, we must be punished. Just like when a child does something bad and her dad has to put her in time out. But when we break God’s commandments we cannot pay for that punishment ourselves, because God requires that when we sin, someone must die. God knew that we could not pay for our own sin. And since we do bad things every day and would have to die many times to pay for our sins. So he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay for all the bad things we have done. Jesus never sinned, so when died on the cross, he defeated sin and saved us. The Bible tells us that there is no love greater than to die for your friend. Jesus calls us his friends, if we obey him. Jesus died for us, even though we were still sinners. This is the greatest love, and because of his love we can be called children of God.
(If lighting Candles: The light of the prophets reminds us of the HOPE that God gives us. That is why we light the first candle. The second candle represents God’s love for us.)
This Christmas we can look outside and see many lights on houses and trees, these are not what Christmas is really about. When we look at these pretty lights we should remember the light of the hope we have in Jesus in and the light of God’s amazing love for us. As we look at the lights we are also reminded of God’s love for Joseph and Mary as they travelled to Bethlehem, where Jesus would be born. This was a difficult journey and they needed God’s Love to get there safe.
Sing: Hymn 20 & Oh little Town of Bethlehem
Prayer: Ask for prayer requests from each person. Specifically ask for a supplication for another person if they cannot think of anything.
Ideas to add to your prayer:
- Praise God for his love, and the hope he gives us.
- Confess that we are sinful people, sometimes we gossip and slander, Daily we sin against his commands and cannot pay our selves,
- Thank God for His amazing Love for sending his only begotten Son to die for us.
- Thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to work faith in us, and to grow the fruit of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- Ask God help us live a life of thankfulness bearing true fruit in our lives;
- Ask God to strengthen our faith and help us shine the light of His love to our neighbour not only at Christmas time but all the time.
- Ask God to be with us as we go through our lives, we may not travel to Bethlehem but we still need his grace and love to watch over us.
A man grew jealous of his friend’s life, and since he was upset that his own life was falling apart, he devised a scheme to take the heat off of himself. He began to spread gossip about his friend all through the church and on Facebook. Hurtful, slanderous, lies aimed at hurting and ruining his friend’s reputation. Soon everyone was talking about the story. After a while he is convicted of his guilt and he confesses his sin to his friend, and asks for forgiveness.
His friend is willing to forgive him but first he hands him a down filled pillow and a knife, and says, “Take this pillow to the top of the highest building in town and release all the feathers into the wind, then come back to me.” Confused, the the man agrees to fulfil this strange task. When he returns to his friend and asks for his forgiveness, his friend hands him a pillow case and says, “Now go back and retrieve all the feathers and bring them back to me.” Stunned, the man says, ” That is impossible, the wind has carried the feathers all over town!” His friend says to him, “You are my brother, I love you, and I forgive you for your sin against me. But just remember that each one of those feathers represents someone who has heard your false gossip and has formed an opinion of me based on the gossip. How can I ever get all those feathers back? How can I ever repair that damage? How can you ever repair the trust that you have broken?”
It will be a long time, if ever, that that man can repair the broken trust. It will be a long time before he opens up to his friend again. Before you repeat a story, ask yourself, Is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary? When you publicly embarrass someone, when you make up stories about someone, when you spread a story about someone – Jesus says that’s just like murder. Think about that for minute. Your words are powerful. They can be used to build up, or they can be used to tear down. Your gossipy, slanderous words are like feathers on the wind and bullets aimed at the heart.
God has seen fit to spend a lot of time dealing with sins of the tongue, like lying, gossip and slander, in the Bible. Even more than for sexual sin. The Bible says in James, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” Be careful.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ~ Eph 4:29
A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. ~ Proverbs 16:28
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. ~ Proverbs 6:16-19
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. ~ Proverbs 11:13
Never in my wildest imagination would I have conceived the thought of refuting evolutionary creationism by putting a screaming moose being rectally disembowelled by wolves in the same phrase as adam smoking a pipe while Eve sips a cup of tea. This is brilliant.
Originally posted on Sixteen Seasons:
During the first few classes of this semester’s Dogmatics course, Dr. Van Vliet lectured on the doctrines of creation and providence. Naturally, this led to an examination of theistic evolution. One of the critiques that the good professor made of evolution is that it strikes at the very character of God, and thus leads to an understanding of God that is not scriptural. He demonstrated that God’s holiness and sovereignty suffer when we embrace evolution, but I was especially struck by his emphasis that God’s mercy suffers as well. If the theory of evolution is correct, then what do the long ages of creaturely suffering say about God’s concern for the weak and the vulnerable?
In reflecting on this, I was reminded of a passage from one of my favourite books. Dick Turner was a trapper living with his wife and children in the Northwest Territories a century ago, and…
View original 1,193 more words
As a child and teen, I attended a very strict Christian school of a non-denominational/charismatic persuasion. This school came from a tradition that promoted a very high view of living a life of holiness. Cussing in any form was certainly prohibited. There were lots of words that we were not allowed to say. All of the usual four letter words were on the list, including words like “Heck,” “Screw (it/you)”, “Crap,” and so on. These words would earn the utterer 30-60 minutes of detention. And detention wasn’t just about sitting there; it usually involved some form of Bible study, with an essay due at the end of the time served. And for taking the Lord’s name in vain, the punishment was justifiably harsher. Saying “Christ” or “Jesus Christ” as a flippant expression of anger, one would be rewarded with a couple of hours of detention, a larger essay, and if it was really bad? The strap…before it was outlawed in BC anyway.
Even though the school was uber-strict, (each student signed a contract stating that they would adhere to a strict code of moral conduct both at school and outside of it), I still grew up saying “Oh my G*d” as an expression of disdain or irritation. Most of my school friends said it. I even distinctly remember one of the teachers saying it when I kept getting certain answers wrong over and over…
Needless to say, I did not think it was wrong to say. I was never called out on it. I was never put into detention for it. To be fair, my mom mentioned once or twice that I probably should not say it, but I kept saying it – just not in front of her.
In the midst of all the strict religious moralism, it never dawned on me that it might be wrong to utter, “Oh My G*d,” until one of my unbelieving neighbours asked me, “You are such a hyporcrite! Why are you saying that? Aren’t you a Christian?” I was 12 or 13 at the time, and to be honest, I forgot about it shortly thereafter, and continued saying it.
I met my wife when we were 18. I was a religious moralist. She said some of the words I hated that were on that list and it drove me nuts. But she called me on taking the Lord’s name in vain. Now, 18 years later, nothing upsets me more than hearing the Lord’s name taken in vain, in any form. I am not sure why that is, but I think it is a good thing that it upsets me so much. I won’t even drink a certain brand of beer any more, because for me, it is taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Recently on a social media website, a pastor’s wife posted a status update about something she was excited about, and she included in her status update, “#OMG!”
I was floored.
I was physically upset.
I thought her account must have been hacked, until other Christians were commenting their approval of what she had said. A couple of them also wrote things like, “OMG can’t wait!” and “OMFG that is awesome!” I was more than floored. I confronted the people (privately) about it, and their responses were simple and justifiable to them. They said they were not taking the Lord’s name in vain, but merely saying, “O My Goodness!” The “F”? That was simply the word “freaking.” I still have not figured out what a “freaking goodness” is…
So when I mentioned that unbelievers and weaker brothers and sisters may view them as taking the Lord’s name in vain, the response was that most Christians know what they mean, and that they were not friends with many unbelievers. Adam Ford’s piece Lot’s of Christians use OMG and I think that is Dumb. was brought to my mind. OK…If you say that you were not taking the Lord’s name in vain, I believe you. Really I do. Because I cannot fathom that these friends of mine would willingly take the Lord’s name in vain. But because it bothered me so much, I decided to survey a bunch of people on what the phrase “OMG” means to them. Thank you to all who participated
In total, I surveyed 238 people. 102 unbelievers and 136 Christians. Not a huge sample, but big enough for a blog post :)
The results are in:
The tradition the pastor’s wife comes from is similar to the one I grew up in. Of the 39 respondents from that Christian tradition, 18 admit to using OMG. That is, 46% of them! I was a bit surprised at that number, but all of those who admitted to using it state that the G = Goodness or Gosh. Which puts me to shame, since I actually used to say the blasphemous version!
Of those I surveyed, the respondents from the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition were the most passionately against it. 12 of the respondents would not even type the word “God” in context of the phrase, instead opting for “G**” “G*D” or “GD.” This reminds me of the Hebrew use of ”YHWH” when referring to the name of God. Some of you may laugh or roll your eyes, but this is not a mere legalism, it is an awe and holy reverence for the name of God. Out of respect for those 12 I have put a * in place of the “o” when I write “Oh my G*d” in this post. Of 66 respondents from this tradition, 5 admit to using OMG. Or 7.58%. All of those who admitted to using it state that the “G”= Goodness or Gosh.
See chart below for more information.
Of all the Christians who claimed to use “OMG” only 2 said the “G” equalled God. Both were Roman Catholic and stated that it is not blasphemy as it is not his real name. I could write a blog post about that…but not right now. Not a single protestant surveyed who uses OMG intends to equate the “G” with “God.” That amazed me. Where were my teachers growing up? I really must have gone off the beaten path when I was a kid (or those Christians who do it did not respond) … I digress.
Let’s get to my point.
96% of unbeliever’s see the “G” as meaning God, whereas only 78% of Christians do. Out of all 238 respondents, unbeliever’s and believers alike, 86% say that the “G” = “God.” So whether you believe that you are taking the Lord’s name in vain or not, 96% of unbelievers think you are. Think about that for a moment…Jesus told us to be a light in the world, not to use the same phrases they do and change the meaning in our heads. If the world uses OMG and intends to say “Oh My G*d,” what is it that they see when a Christian types it into Facebook? I would bet that in the eyes of the unbelieving world, Christians who use “OMG” are seen as hypocrites. Just like that neighbour girl when I was twelve. What kind of witness is that? Is this glorifying to God? Is this being a light on a hill?
No. I don’t think it is. I cannot judge your heart or intentions, but I believe that Christians should not use OMG. So before you use it, ask yourself some questions:
1. Does my using this glorify God or does it mock him?
2. What will others think when they see this? Am I being a light by posting this?
3. Will I cause a weaker brother to stumble by posting this?
4. Is there a better/more Christian way to express delight, excitement, disgust, irritation etc?
This is not intended to judge any Christian tradition. It is a flawed survey in that only a very small sample of each group participated. My gut feeling is the “Christian” column is probably representative of most Christian traditions on this particular subject. I could also write about how we shouldn’t use “Gosh,” and when people say,” Oh my Word” it is also blasphemy (read John 1:1-18).
Winner for the best reponse? “Order More Grub,” this person uses it often and is searching for a religion…