Sermon Meme: Third Commandment


The third commandment is most often translated: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. More modern translations have recognized the larger meaning—it’s not just a matter of speech—and now use “misuse.”

The Hebrew is more literally translated: “Do not carry the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

With that in mind, I have opted to consider putting this in the positive for my sermon meme.

How do you carry the Name of God?


2018 Focus: Pace

Eugene Peterson uses a phrase in his translation of Matthew 11:28-30 that is one of my favorites. Jesus’ invitation comes out this way:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Unforced rhythms of grace.

Quietly meditating on this phrase, the word pace bubbled up.

I tend to live my life at one of two paces: frenetic or sloth. I’m either going 90mph or not going at all. And typically, I end up having to go the speed of light because I’ve spent too much time ambling along. And I’m sure that may come as a surprise to those who only think I’m the blur rushing by them—I’m a very private turtle.

This dichotomy of pace has resulted in being labeled a procrastinator. I find that to be such a pejorative term. I just work best with a deadline.

There was a time when I was not considered for a position because I owned how “organization” is not one of my natural strengths. I can do organization—I just have to focus and be intentional. I can make charts and checklists. I know the value of a calendar (and looking at it). I also know how to put reminder alerts in my phone.

In Meyers-Briggs language, I’m a very strong P: I fly by the seat of my pants and my sock draw would drive most people crazy—it does me at times.

So am I going to remain a slave to my personality and wiring? Only if I want to.

The invitation of Jesus quoted above overflows with hope: Learn. I can be taught. I can overcome. I do not have to stay the same.

And neither do you.

Let’s look to him and learn a new pace. A new rhythm of living. A rhythm of grace.


Sermon Seeds: No Idols


You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5a, NIV).

Confession. I’ve never quite understood the concept of a jealous God. Attributing jealousy to the Almighty, Omnipotent, Creator of the universe, seemed at the least odd and even demeaning.

Too human.

Thinking of God as jealous conjured up memories of spurned girlfriends and boyfriends on the school playground, or the yucky feeling I got when my brother got the attention and accolades from our parents that I was craving.

Surely, God is bigger than that, isn’t he?

Yes. And perhaps the problem comes because we don’t read the complete definition of jealous. We miss the part of the definition that says: fiercely protective or vigilant of one’s rights or possessions.

If we look to the intro of this passage, Exodus 20:2, we see that God identifies himself as the Lord God who rescued the people from slavery in Egypt. Paul describes God’s action as having bought us (1 Corinthians 6:20). The story of Hosea and how he bought back his wife is the metaphor for what God has done, and continues to do for his people.

And he is fiercely protective of his possessions. There is some incredibly good news in this. It’s why we can read the 23rd Psalm and feel good, or think of the warm welcome of the Prodigal and feel hope.

But every choice will bring consequences—good or bad. So, choosing to worship anything other than God will incur his wrath and discipline.

We get into trouble by “worshiping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped (St. Augustine).” For example material possessions, knowledge, sex, science, or political parties. These things grab our devotion, our time, our attention.

Jesus spoke to our twisted tendency in his sermon on the mount: your heart will be where your treasure is (Matthew 6:21). What we passionately pursue becomes our treasure, it supersedes our relationship with God and is an idol.

And God says, “Don’t do it.”

As we work our way through these ten commands, we will see that God wants us to basically get two relationships in proper perspective: our relationship with him, and our relationship with others. No other God except him—God the Creator, not anything we would try to put in his place.


Hopelessly Devoted

Thursday brings new thoughts from my devotions this week.


Today’s devotion challenged the way I look at work. One of the scripture references comes from Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (NIV).

The phrase that jumped out at me is “with all your heart.” In the myriad of translations, you might read: heartily, willingly, enthusiastically, or with all your soul.

My husband is quite exceptional. I know a lot of wives feel that way, but Nelson knew about my calling before he married me, but nothing could have prepared him for this journey. And I will admit some of my choices have made things considerably more challenging than they needed to be.

One of the most difficult things has been finding meaningful employment that also provides the necessary financial support with each move. I knew I was probably never going to be paid enough to support our family.  I didn’t answer this call thinking it would make me rich in worldly possessions.

Right now Nelson is traveling weekly to the Buffalo/Niagra area to work. That’s about five hours from home. He works long days: 3:00am to 6:00pm. Monday through Friday. And it’s a job he used to do and hated.

So why would he go back to that work? Why would he do leave family and home?

Because God provided.

And because he decided long ago to live his life—which includes his work—for God.

This “with all your heart” is not a mushy, sentimental thing. The apostle Paul is speaking about a matter of will, of choice. Being willing is like in the marriage ceremony when the officiant asks, “Will you take this man/woman?” And the response is “I will.” It’s a choice, a commitment of the will.

So today, will your commitment be to rejoice in your work? Not because it’s your dream job, or you love what you do—but because whether it’s wonderful or drudgery, it’s a gift from God.

May your grind be grand today as you go through it with God.

(And don’t think you’re off the hook just because you’re “retired.” Paul is very clear this is about “whatever your hand finds to do.” Not punching a time clock doesn’t buy you a free pass 😉)



Wednesday’s Word: Juvenescent


How are you growing?

Recently, I was driving through a new town. I ended up lost—thanks Siri.

The neighborhood I found myself in could be described as old, tired and run down. I felt a kinship to the houses crying out for fresh paint and younger hands. But I quickly remembered the encouragement of my grandson who tried to reassure me: “You’re not oooolddd, Mema.” For some reason I translated that, “You aren’t the ancient ruins of the Colesium, Mema.”

Growing young reminds me of two Bible verses. The first comes from Jesus who when the disciples were arguing over who would be greatest held up a child and declared: Unless you become as a child you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And the second is Peter’s admonition to grow in grace and knowledge—literally: keep growing.

I’m surrounded by people pining for retirement. I get how good that might sound. But I am fearful of a mindset that sees retirement as permission to stop: stop growing. I pray for a different attitude, a youthful mindset that seizes every opportunity to grow young.

How are you growing?

Message Meme: Exodus 20:4

I like watching things. I’m amazed by color. I have Missouri in my DNA: show me.

I took a course aimed at improving my blogging, and the emphasis was on adding pictures. So I would scour Google images until I found the perfect image to accompany my words.

Then I went to another writers conference and the faculty person warned us (scared the pants off us) to not use Google images because they could be pirated. Instead we were to use sites with free images, like pixabay.

I broke up with google immediately.

At that same conference, I learned how to create my own memes.

Hi, I’m Tina and I’m hooked: WordSwag, Canva, and PicCollage are my new best friends.

During the recent Advent season, I created memes that went with each Sunday’s message. Memes that would fit computer/iPad screens, phone screens, and covers for blogs or facebook. It was a way to get the message theme or scripture in front of the people every day.

We’re into a new message series on the Ten Commandments Jesus Style: Finding the Old in the New.

Since the first commandment is to not have any gods but God, I drew on Joshua’s calling the people back to their covenant relationship with God—putting him first. So this was last week’s message meme:


This week we move onto the second commandment: you must not make an idol of any kind.

Here’s the memes I made to go along with this commandment:

Come back Friday and we’ll consider just what “making an idol” means.


Be still!

(On Mondays I plan to write posts that come from my reflections on my word/topic of focus for this year—which is stillness, rest, sabbath.)

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a



I have often described myself as an ESFP with ADD. My friends may tell you I’m somewhat outgoing, seemingly scattered, and  often unfocused. Perception is pretty close to reality.

I don’t like the description of the Proverbs 31 woman or Peter’s instruction: You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God (1 Peter 3:4, NLT).

Gentle and quiet are two words few people associate with me.

In fact, if for some reason I am quiet, people ask me what’s wrong. When I’m in public, I don’t do quiet well.

As I have aged, however, I have found I enjoy being alone…and quiet. I can turn off the TV, sometimes even goe sans music—and just be still.

But my stillness, my quiet reveree, lacked something. Until recently when I began asking God to reveal my direction for 2018.

Several years abo, I started writing a Bible study and one of the chapters was on the command to keep sabbath. I found myself being drawn back again and again to  the books I had gathered on the topic and stuck on a corner of a bookshelf in my office.

Holding one of the books, I felt a strong resonning in my spirit. A loud “YES!” Resonated within me from head to toe.

Okay, God. I got it, but I don’t get it.

And the whisper came back, “You will.”

Then one of the devotions in the first week of the year reflected on how Elijah didn’t hear God in the storm or earthquake—but in the quiet whisper. And the whisper was a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Sitting in my quiet family room, holding the small book, I sensed my eyes filling with tears…and I heard God whisper, “Tina, what are you doing here?”

I didn’t have an answer. Still don’t. But you better believe I’ve been thinking about it. Even created the meme at the top of this blog.

The question is one of those kinds that when you say it you can put emphasis on a different word and change the meaning: What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here?

After determining the direction, I felt compelled to be accountable. In the past I’ve lost interest and attention to my word/focus before I reached February. I might remember it later in the year—and have a few moments of guilt. I decided to not let that happen this year.

So every Monday I’m going to reflect on this with you, or at least with myself. I don’t know where it will go. Thankfully, I don’t have to…I’m just going to be obedient, and still, and listen for the whisper.

What are you doing here?