Sermon Seeds: Don’t Shame the Family Name


Do not carry the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

Recently I was having a discussion about the meaning of this commandment. Our conversation reminded me of how important “the family name” used to be. And the oft repeated instruction to not do anything to bring shame to the family name.

Can you remember the last time this was a concern? Me, neither.

I wonder if our casual treating of family name and family honor hasn’t seeped over into our treatment of God’s holy name?

Perhaps that’s why Paul came down so hard on the early Christian church. Paul was raised to adhere to the Law and the Commandments. In his pedigree recital to the Philippians (see Philippians 3) he mentions being from the tribe of Benjamin right off the bat. He also said to the Colossians and the Corinthians:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

Even Jesus thought this was important enough to include in his teaching on prayer with the disciples: Father, make your name holy in all I do (author’s paraphrase of Matthew 6:9).

As I was putting the finishing touches on this, a thought occurred to me. Historically, shaming the family name could have devastating and long-lasting consequences. Shunning and be disowned, cut off from the family forever, were not unheard of.

I’m thankful that it doesn’t have to be that way in the family of God. A quick read through the Bible shows that many of the recognizable characters had moments of shame. The good news is ours is a God of unfailing love, reconciliation, and restoration.

So as you head out the door today, what will you do to make Papa proud? Bring glory not shame to His name.


Teach Us To Pray

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Tomorrow morning I will be starting a series of messages on the Lord’s Prayer. When you pray “our Father” what are you saying, believing, doing?

The first thing I notice is the corporate nature of the prayer. We aren’t in this world alone.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he could have given them a theological dissertation based on familiar principles. But he didn’t. Instead he gave them the essential components of prayer.

And he starts with our Father—not simply Father. There are definitely times to get alone with God, but when the group came to Jesus, and the group asked to be taught how to pray, Jesus addressed their corporate need to pray.

I encountered a situation recently that drove this point home for me.

How many times when a friend or acquaintance shares a need, have you told them you would pray for them? You are sincere in your intention to pray, but life gets in the way and that opportunity for intercession is lost.

I don’t get many people coming to my door these days. So I was a bit surprised when the dogs began barking in their “oh boy, there’s someone at the door” way. With the reluctance that comes from dreading the annoyance of one more salesman, I went to the door.

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The woman at my door was quick to assure me she was not there to sell me anything. She gave me her name, told me she was from the women’s abuse shelter. She added that their group had the permission of the Sheriff and Chief of Police to be going door to door.

I apologized for not inviting her in, but my dogs are big and overly friendly. She seemed okay having the door between us. I introduced myself as the pastor of a local church that makes a point of regularly supporting the shelter.

We chatted and she was about to leave my door. This would be that moment when we say those words that roll off our tongues almost without thought: I’ll be praying for you.

But I couldn’t say them. Because I knew, with a knowing that comes from the Spirit, I needed to say, “Can I pray with you now?”

So I did. And her eyes got big. She put her hand on the screen and I put mine up to hers and we had a wonderfully blessed moment of connected prayer.

And then she was gone. But she will stay with me. Her name and face come to mind often and I pray, like Paul, as often as I remember her.

Now, I’m not telling you that story because I’m anything special. I’m telling you to encourage you to not miss those kinds of moments, those kinds of blessings—that kind of power.

The question that needs our response seems to be: how will we be open to the opportunities of corporate and connected prayer?

How can I pray with you today?

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