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.


On Complaining…Or Not

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (Psalm 23:6, NRSV)

On a past trip to visit my mom in Arizona I came to a new awareness. It wasn’t completely new, but it sure hit me in a new kind of way: I have very little tolerance with complaining. Let me clarify. I believe that there is room for dissatisfaction and the proper communicating of that. My problem is with people…like a woman at the movie theater.

Mom and I decided we were going to see the movie, “The Proposal.” Romantic comedies are one of my favorite genres of films (followed closely by Disney animation). I was pretty excited to see the film, partly because I like the star, Sandra Bullock, but also because it was nice to see a grown up movie (a grandma’s dilemma). We were standing in a line waiting to buy our tickets when a woman came in with a group and immediately began to complain. The line was too long. She wasn’t going to get a good seat. Couldn’t they afford to get adequate help so she didn’t have to wait? On and on she went.

When we got into the theater, even though it was a multiplex, she was seated right behind us. I don’t think she skipped a beat and went right on complaining, loud enough for everyone around her to hear (which was pretty loud, keeping in mind this is a retirement community). The upcoming movie ads were too long. The theater was too cold. The seats were too hard. Sandra Bullock was too thin. The movie was too predictable.

When I had enough, I leaned over to Mom and told her I was about ready to stuff a sock in the woman’s mouth. I wouldn’t have done it, but it was a tempting thought. After the movie Mom and I were laughing about it. Then she turned serious and informed me complaining is a way of life for the people down there. That ended the discussion, but not my thinking about it.

I am still mystified why retired folk in Arizona would be complaining. Sure it’s warm, okay hot, but it’s a dry heat. On that visit people were complaining about 30% humidity while the humidity back home in Ohio was over 100%. They live in beautiful homes, surrounded by amazing scenery. They are retired so all they have is time, but they complain about waiting. I just don’t get it.

I decided to make sure that it was complaining that I had the biggest problem with, so I checked the definition out on The distinction that stuck out most clearly to me was the between expressing dissatisfaction and a constant whining complaining about everything. It wasn’t occasional dissatisfaction that bothered me, but that seemingly total frustration and complaint about everything that really grates on me. One of the descriptions is “to whine like a spoiled child.” And that hit it right on the head for me. Whiners and complainers walk around exuding some kind of sense of entitlement that irritates me to no end. That’s what got to me about the woman at the movie. She seemed to feel she was entitled to immediate attention, and seating, and the perfect movie experience.

As I read all the way through the definitions I found that they listed an antonym at the end. The antonym for complain is rejoice. How perfect is that! Paul admonishes the Philippians to do all things without grumbling or complaining. He moves through a discussion on growing spiritually deep and hits with pretty solid intensity their need to rejoice. And he says it again, probably louder and more forcefully: Rejoice! James echoes the teaching by telling the readers of his letter to “count it ALL joy.”

At one of the darkest and most shame-full periods of my life, not even my typically optimistic and sanguine personality seemed to be much help. I had to make a conscious effort to be thankful. I had to look for things to rejoice about. The more I looked, the more I found. The more I found, the better I felt, and the more joy that became apparent to others. The shame wasn’t erased, but the heaviness was lifted. I was surrounded by much whining and complaining but all I could feel was an abiding gratitude for the way God was bringing me through. I was in a dark, dark valley, but goodness and mercy walked me enabling me to avoid the grumbly pitfalls and come out on the side of joy.

Maybe that’s why I get easily irritated by the complaining and whining of others. I know where I’ve been and how easily it would have been to give up. But honestly, what good does whining and complaining do? I haven’t seen one occasion where it has made the situation better. Whereas, I have seen the insertion of thankfulness and joy into an otherwise abysmal situation make all the difference—for the good—in the world!

So don’t make me take out my sock! Things not going well? Look for what is and plant the seed of thankfulness. Who are your traveling mates on the journey? If they aren’t Goodness and Mercy, then beat feet away from the negativity and soak in the grace that will release you into joy! Who you travel with and how you travel is really up with you. You want some control? Control that!



What’s in a Name?

 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

 I want to spend a couple days with Thomas and this passage. First, Thomas.

WP tombstone 1  WP tombstone 2

Interesting legacy these folks must have left. How would you like to be remembered for your worst moment?


How would you like for your name to be synonymous with the concept of doubt?

Always the doubter. Not the ponderer or questioner. The doubting one.

That’s Thomas.

He asks one question and is forever branded as the doubter.

WP shame

What’s your worst moment look like? What shame or angst rises up when you think about it?

Imagine what it must have been like for Thomas. The others were claiming that Jesus was alive, resurrected. Wouldn’t you have questions, concerns? Seriously, let’s not jump to conclusions. I’m from Missouri. Show me.

WP Jesus and Thomas

And Jesus did. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Right now, I want to stay with Thomas, and his question. And Jesus response.

There was no chastisement for Thomas. No making him feel foolish, or wrong. Picturing Thomas there with Jesus causes hope to rise up in my soul.

Here’s the truth, as I see it: it’s okay to question and doubt as long as when Jesus shows up we recognize him and believe. One theologian has even said, “the doubter is sometimes closer to God than the believer.”

The world will always judge us, maybe even call us names, but the only judgment that matters is Jesus’.

PRAYER: Lord, we stand with Thomas today, and maybe even the father who came to Jesus seeking healing for his son: I believe. Lord, help me with my unbelief. Teach us it’s okay to ask questions. Help us to come to you for answers. We confess that image is often too important–at least the way we worry about what the world thinks about us. Heal the shame-filled spaces in our hearts. And may like Thomas bow in awe and wonder and acknowledge you as our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Book Review: Unlimited

The search may have been for unlimited power, but the discovery seems to have been unlimited grace for those with overwhelming shame, those struggling to trust and forgive, and those simply seeking to serve.

Once again Davis Bunn has provided an exhilarating story that invites the reader to think big: big about the world we live in and big about God. Not to be forgotten was the battle that evil wages within the heart of man to control the source of power for selfish means.

I had an immediate affinity for our hero, not that I’m a scientific genius, but that I know what it is like to have failed someone and beat myself down with a mallet of shame. The struggles that floated up with issues of trust and forgiveness were also portrayed in real and relatable ways.

The story was totally engaging. I found myself shouting words of warning (“Don’t go there!”) and tearing up at the pain when evil seemed to triumph. It is definitely the kind of read that will evoke the emotions of the reader as well as challenge the reader to think and consider. In that sense it is a great balance for head and heart.

I give this book 5 stars. I would highly recommend this book and look forward to seeing the pages come to life when the movie adaptation is released this fall!


Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy. He needs Simon’s help.

Upon crossing the border, nothing goes as the young man planned. The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel.

Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause.

With Harold’s help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the world-changing device and his own unlimited potential.

Unlimited, the movie: <img src="

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About Davis Bunn
Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Defined by readers and reviewers as a “wise teacher,” “gentleman adventurer,” “consummate writer,” and “Renaissance man,” his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.
Unlimited is Davis’s first screenplay to be released as a major motion picture. The book, Unlimited, is a novelization of the screenplay.
The inspiration behind the Unlimited film and novel is Harold Finch’s book, Success: Four Keys to Unlock Your Unlimited Potential. Download a free copy of Success here:
Q & A with Davis Bunn
The storyline in Unlimited is inspired by true events. What actual events inspired the story?

Harold Finch was formerly the founder and CEO of the first management-leadership consulting groups in the US. In the mid-seventies he sold the company to H&R Block for over a hundred million dollars—back when a hundred million actually meant something. Answering God’s call, he has spent the past three decades traveling the world, teaching his concepts for free and helping underprivileged children learn that they do indeed have both a purpose in God’s eyes, and the potential to succeed. His experiences form the basis for this story.

What ignited your idea for the characters to create a device that would convert raw wasted energy into useable power?

I actually wrote the screenplay for the film before writing the novel. This happens occasionally—Godfather and Love Story were both conceived in this order. While working on the film script, the producer and Harold and I were discussing what might work as a basis for the story’s suspense element. We were looking for something that had the means of revealing this ‘unlimited’ potential in people. I don’t actually remember who first came up with the idea of wasted energy, but soon as it was said, we all jumped on it.

Simon Orwell, the protagonist in Unlimited, is a brilliant, cynical electrical engineering student who finds danger irresistible. Did you model his character traits after yourself or anyone you know?

Alas, we all know a Simon. These days, this type of person is all too common. An individual with huge potential, who allows himself or herself to become distracted by the multitude of temptations that basically define modern life. And yes, I do know several such people. Some turn this into hugely productive directions, thank goodness. Usually to do so requires divine help, a clarification of focus, and strength they must reach out and ask to receive.

Armando Vasquez and Harold Finch are important mentors in Simon’s life. Who has been a critical mentor in your life, Davis? How has that person encouraged you to push beyond the boundaries of what you thought possible?

There have been several such mentors, for which I remain extremely grateful. One such person is Carol Johnson, who recently retired as editor-in-chief at Bethany House Publishers. Carol has been instrumental in my becoming the best writer I could be, and continues to act as a sounding board for new ideas and characters. Another, I am happy to say, is Harold Finch. His lessons on combining God’s teachings with lifelong aims have been a genuinely rewarding experience with far-reaching results.

Many of the characters in the story are orphans. What parallels do you see between the orphans in the story and real-life spiritual orphans?

A beautiful question. While researching the core components of this story, orphanage leaders repeatedly stressed the need to teach orphans to believe in themselves and their natural abilities. Too often they see themselves as lost, without purpose, without a role to play, without chances, without love. What made this story work, I think, is how Simon Orwell shares these same feelings about himself. And how he comes to realize God is the only one to fill this need.

Many people believe they must wear a mask to hide the parts of themselves they are ashamed of. How is this story about removing that mask?

So much of life remains hidden away. The darker elements of a life without God only amplify this falseness. Simon has spent so much of his life, so much of his energy and time, in hiding. As the story unfolds, he discovers that an essential element of arriving at his full potential is being honest with himself. This is where the mask is most damaging, and also where it is often hardest to release. We seek to hide the truth, even when we know the act is a lie in itself. And the mirror we require to see the truth about ourselves is the one that God offers, in infinite patience, in gentle love.

The title, Unlimited, has multiple layers of meaning. What does that title mean to you?

Unlimited was the title brought to me by the film’s producers. When I first began working on this story, it was just that, a title. But as I grew to know Harold, and heard him teach, and read his lesson plan, and then actually applied what he has come to call his ‘Dynamic Life Retreat’ (see Harold full teachings on his website, I have come to agree with them in their choice. Bringing God into the equation of life’s direction, success, and reaching full potential does reveal the true meaning of Unlimited.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website and blog are at
Subscribe to my blog’s feed (to get my latest posts via e-mail or through your feed reader) at
Sign up for my e-newsletter (for subscriber-only giveaways and advance notice of my upcoming novels):
Facebook Author Page:
Pinterest: — check out my “Scenes from Unlimited” board.
Twitter: @davisbunn –

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.)

Book Review: Relentless Pursuit


Relentless Pursuit
God’s Love of Outsiders Including the Outsider in All of Us
Ken Gire
Bethany House Publishers, 2012
171 pages

Let me begin by telling on myself. I’m the kid that cried whenever Rudolph got to the Island of Misfit Toys. I have always felt like I was on the outside looking in. So to read a book addressed to outsiders was both validating and encouraging.

Way back when I was in high school creative writing, I was introduced to Thompson’s poem, The Hound of Heaven. I was a relatively new believer at the time, but I remember writing a piece that compared the poem to Psalm 139. I was impactful then, and Gire’s handling of the topic and material not only brought back the old thoughts, but gave me even greater insight to consider.

I was interested in reading and reviewing this book from the perspective of what it had to say to those outside faith. What ended up surprising me was how much it had to say to those on the inside with pieces and parts of themselves still outside God’s care and forgiveness.

I appreciated the Gire includes the stories of Thompson, C. S. Lewis, Eugene O’Neil and Dorothy Day, and Annie Lamott along with his own. I felt as I was reading and going briefly through the study questions at the end of each chapter that I was being invited to add my story to theirs. Another thing that he does very well is draw from scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. He is quite learned regarding so many topics, but he doesn’t come across in a expert way that would be offish to the reader, either as an insider or an outsider.

Two things that Gire mentions, somewhat in passing, really stood out to me. The first is a quote that Gire uses by Brene Brown from The Hustle for Worthiness stopped me completely. In it she says, “we stand outside of our story.” The entire quote seems to explain Gire’s understanding of what it means to be an outsider. The other is his reference to the Runaway Bunny. I could pay off most of my credit card debt if I had a dollar for every time I read that children’s classic. But I never made the connection with running away from God. It works though and I will remember it for a long time.

For me, the highpoint of the book was Gire’s handling of the topic of shame. I have read many books on this topic, from Bradshaw to Wilson, but there was something in Gire’s presentation that makes it less overwhelming. For example, he describes coming to terms with his ADD—yet another issue I could relate to. The way he presents his journey reminded me of another book read long ago, Making Friends With Your Shadow.

This is not a long book, but it is deep. It is inviting, but not simplistic. It is personal, but also relatable. I recommend it. It is set up with study questions, but I think it would take a very close and trusting group to deal honestly with this material—or hopefully they would be by the time they were done.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Bethany House Publishers blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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