My favorite name of God: Yahweh

Yahweh.

The early Jews considered this name so holy they didn’t even say it aloud.

This name is to be highly revered. In my Bible, it’s easy to simply read past it, mistaking it for “Lord.” But it’s in all capital letters: LORD.

It’s like a call to action — Stand at attention! Or, maybe more appropriately, Get on your knees!

That’s how I feel when I read Exodus 34.  God shows Himself to Moses.

Because humans couldn’t see the face of God and remain alive, God told Moses to stand in the cleft of the rock, and He would cover Moses with His hand while He passed. God allowed Moses to see only His back, not His face. And He would proclaim to Moses His name (Exodus 34:17-23).

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands,and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Exodus 34:5-7 NIV

2God is declaring Himself. He is the Almighty God, Yahweh. The LORD.

Moses fell to his knees and worshiped. That’s the way it makes me feel, too.

Can you imagine it? To have Yahweh, the Almighty One, walk in front of you, speaking just to you?

Indescribable.

Yahweh says He is

compassionate

gracious

slow to anger

abounding in love and faithfulness

maintaining love to thousands

forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin

does not leave the guilty unpunished

I am awed by this passage. Every portion of it is worthy of meditation and worship.

But what stands out to me is the contrast. There’s so much mercy and love and grace, but then it’s followed by justice.

Harsh? Maybe we can shift our thinking to a time when we were cheated, and it seemed the cheater would go unpunished.  God says the guilty will be punished. Suddenly that justice gives comfort.

But you know what? We’re all the guilty ones. In some way or another, we’ve all been the cheater. But God says in these verses that He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. He does this through His Son, Jesus (John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life). God is loving and merciful and just.

It seems unfathomable to have God Himself walk in front of us, describing Himself, telling us who He is. But here’s the awesome truth: we have this privilege available now. This minute. Maybe not in the way Moses experienced it. But every time we pray, every time we open the Bible, God Himself talks to us. Each time we call out to Him, He’s there. Yahweh in all His magnificence is available to us, now. Just like with Moses.

Yahweh, glorious One, thank you for being just as available to me as you were to Moses. I might not see You with my eyes, but I see You on the pages of Scripture. I see evidence of Your love in those who serve You and in Your creation. Let me draw near to You today. Amen.

A Perfectionist’s Christmas: Jesus, Not the Hoopla

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No Christmas will ever live up to the hype.

I don’t know about you, friend, but all the commercials, Pinterest posts, magazine covers can make me feel my Christmas doesn’t live up to expectations.

My tree isn’t perfectly trimmed, even though it holds ornaments that are cherished and important to my family.

My house looks more cluttered than decorated, even though I dearly love each one of my displays. They have significance and precious memories, and I’d like to think they’re pretty, too.

My kitchen hasn’t yielded beautifully shaped, meticulously frosted Christmas cookies– because who am I kidding? I don’t like to bake.

My car has made the rounds of looking at lights exactly once this year, even though we adore piling in the car and gazing at brightly lit homes in our area.

My shopping is still incomplete, and maybe, just maybe, I won’t finish. Some years are like that — this is one of those. Life has interrupted our normal. How about you? Has life interrupted your normal?

Maybe you’re like me, trying not to compare yourself to the Pinterest-perfect posts and commercials. For me, it’s a struggle. I’m a perfectionist. I want to get everything right. But this year especially, my struggle to get everything right will be pure stress, so I’m trying not to try. I’m taking a breath and saying, It’s fine. And if it’s not fine with somebody, I’m going to try to shake it off. (I think that somebody will be me, mostly. I’m pretty hard on myself. You, too?)

Are you dealing with this, too? I think there are lots more women who, for various reasons, are finding it hard to muster a cheery smile while they try to do all-the-things, like bake beautiful cookies and invite friends and family to beautifully decorated, perfectly clean homes for gourmet meals and have brilliant, meaningful conversation.

Does anyone really do all that? If so, please don’t tell me. I’d rather think it was the legendary June Cleaver. It’s not me. I’ll bet it’s not you, either.

A week ago, when life interrupted our normal with a health issue, I couldn’t have cared less about Christmas decorations or gifts or gatherings. What I kept thinking was, It’s Jesus, not the hoopla. Today, with things getting back to normal, I’m still thinking along those lines. It’s Jesus. He is the reason for this Christmas season. We’ve allowed all the shiny things take our eyes off our Savior, but the distilled, pure message of Christmas is Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a life interruption to focus our vision. At least, it did for me. It doesn’t matter that my house isn’t just-so when my family gathers, or that I’m not the “perfect” hostess. I just want to be with the people I love, and I want to celebrate the One I love.

Christmas isn’t about the hype. It’s about Jesus.

Do I Speak Stress or Jesus?

 

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“You jerk!”

 

When Kristen yelled those words at her dad, he and I both gasped. Rick looked at me, wide-eyed, as if to say, Where did that come from? Heat crept up my neck. My face burned.

 

I knew exactly where that came from. Me.

 

Jerk.

 

It was my word. My way of dealing with rude drivers in our big city. It was stressful driving in all that traffic. Calling other drivers jerks under my breath was how I dealt with it. Better than raising my fist or letting off a string of cuss words. Right?

 

Maybe not.

 

My special needs daughter was having a hard time telling the difference between my calling other drivers jerks, and calling her father a jerk. Hey, honey, it’s fine for Mommy to call rude drivers jerks because they can’t read her lips — they can’t hear her — they don’t know her…but it’s totally disrespectful for you to call Daddy a jerk. You should never, ever do that.

 

The gray I was living in was turning black and white.

 

And just to drive the point home, out of nowhere, words I’d read earlier that day flooded my mind:

 

Luke 6:43-46

 (NIV)

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

 

So, I get it. If I am living a Jesus kind of life, then all my words ought to reflect that. Even those in the car, in private. Even something as seemingly innocuous as “jerk.”

Apparently it’s not so innocuous. I have someone with me much of the time – someone who absolutely adores me. She watches my every move. I’m under her microscope.

 

But is that so bad? If I’m living for Jesus, shouldn’t I be open to inspection? Not perfection, just inspection. I’m not perfect by any means, but shouldn’t I aim to reflect His goodness?

 

As Christians, shouldn’t this be our goal? Yet, don’t we feel justified saying, “I’m so stressed!” It’s our blanket excuse for acting less-than. It’s acceptable. Certain words and behaviors are accepted under the heading STRESS.

 

But Jesus doesn’t go along with this. While He is compassionate for our stress and anxieties, Jesus has higher expectations for us. He doesn’t want us to settle for second-rate living. And stressful living is second-rate.

 

When Jesus says, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” He is making a point: change your heart.

 

I love Jesus. My words need to reflect my heart, in good times, in bad times, in traffic, and in stress.

 

How does that happen? For me, it will be unlearning anger, impatience and fear. I have a strategy.

  1. Pray.

Everything should begin with prayer, but if I’m honest, sometimes I just start. I can’t do this without the strength of Jesus.

  1. Memorize Scripture.

No small feat, this. I’m a lousy memorizer and a great paraphraser (being a big picture thinker and all…), but I’m dedicated.

  1. Abide in the Word.

Every day I read and study the Bible. I do this along with Proverbs 31 First 5 Experience Guide (I’m reading Luke now). It works well for me because it’s short but every day I learn something valuable.

 

How about you, friend? Do you have someone watching your every move? Have you thought about what your words reflect? Believe me, I’m not pointing a finger at anyone except myself. As Believers in Christ, we’re on this journey together! The good news: Jesus wants the best for us! We can do this through Him (Philippians 4:13).

 

By the way, when I confessed to my husband where Kristen had gotten her phrase, he started laughing. “No way! I thought she heard it from me!”

 

As always, he and I are in this together, for better or worse.

 

–Teresa

 

Photo credit: Matthew Henry, Unsplash.com