Exodus 20:7

Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain.

Also, Deuteronomy 5:11.

This is another simple verse to contemplate which can be looked into very deeply if desired. First, let’s discuss what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. Vanity is uselessness, by definition. It carries the concept of idleness, worthlessness, futility and ineffectualness.

So to use something in vain connotes that the use of the object is below the intended or designed use. This verse is not prohibiting any use, just vain use. So in order to know if we are using the Lord’s name in vain, (for example, in this sentence!), we must see if we can esteem the worth of the Lord’s name. Only then can we truly know when it would be vanity to use it at all.

As usual, let’s turn to scripture as our first and ultimate source of direction.

Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

So from God’s perspective, His name is exalted above all things. I conclude that to use God’s name as we would use a regular cuss word would be disrespectful and blasphemous to the worth of His name. I’m not going to ‘prove’ it here, but I do believe it is ok to speak of the Lord, by name, with respect. To worship and praise Him and His Holy Name is acceptable. As usual though, it is the attitude of the heart that really matters.

Proverbs 21:2-3
2Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
3To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

So what are the contents of the heart of a person that says things like “What the heck?” and “Oh my gosh!” Are these people uttering innocent phrases? Are you? How about if you are typing or speaking and you say “OMG” instead? My personal thoughts on this are that someone came up with replacement words. Someone is trying to cover the sin in their heart by replacing the outward appearance, when inwardly their heart is still darkened by sin and a lack of reverence for the name of the Lord. I do not think this is too extreme; I think that if a person finds it hard to quit using these phrases, then it indicates a problem in their heart. Matthew 12:36 is a scary warning about the tongue! I was guilty of this sin early in Christianity until a loving sister brought it to my attention. I immediately justified it, but then the Holy Spirit would not allow me to continue the practice! I pray the same result for you. I do not even say “My Goodness” anymore, especially since Goodness is synonymous with my God, the God of the Bible.

Finally, the part of the verse I really want to cover is the second part, that he will not be held guiltless who uses the Lord’s name in vain. There is a clearly implied declaration of the need for God’s wrath for sin to be satisfied. The Lord will NOT hold anyone guiltless. This is divine justice in action. But what did God do? He satisfied His wrath for your blasphemy on His Son, if you would repent and believe the gospel! (Mark 1:15)

Am I a hypocrite? Was I ever?

Let’s begin by defining the word “hypocrite.” I’ll use the www.m-w.com definition stated below:

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English ypocrite, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritēs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai
Date: 13th century
1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feeling

Here is a sample of verses that use the word hypocrisy. Note, not all the verses are translated with the word “hypocrisy;” the idea of hypocrisy involves lying or pretending. In fact, the Greek word used is actually the same word used for “Actors!”
Matthew 23:28; Mark 12:15; Luke 12:1; Galatians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:2; James 5:12; 1Peter 2:1; Luke 20:20

The following verses all depict Jesus calling someone a hypocrite, and always with disdain:
Matthew 6:2,5,16; 7:5; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13,23:14,23:15,23:23,23:25,23:27,23:29; 24:51; Mark 7:6; Luke 6:42; 11:44; 12:56; 13:15;

I point this out for one reason, and that is to show that if prevalence of occurrence in the Bible means anything at all, (and I’m convinced it does), hypocrisy is one of the worst sins imaginable. It is mentioned, especially by Jesus’ own mouth during the incarnation as often as other sins for which I’ve searched.

So what’s the point of this post then? Well, I’m here to say that I was never a hypocrite! As long as I went about my life before Christ, I never had a false appearance of religion. I really acted in harmony with my stated beliefs. In fact, one of the fears I have of the result of evolutionary teaching is that we will raise a nation of people who are not hypocrites, but have the false belief in molecules to man evolution! People who are taught and believe that they are nothing more than animals fighting to survive end up being able to justify horrible atrocities like school shootings, theft and lying and cheating, and adultery.

Don’t misquote me, I’m not saying that ONLY people who believe in evolution commit these sins; I’m saying that an evolutionary belief system allows a person to justify these acts, as these acts are not wrong according to their worldview! And I, being a good evolutionist, God-hating American before His grace took over, was never a hypocrite. In fact, my only goal in life was the pursuit of hedonism and I sought it fervently. Oh, if we all sought Christ with the fervency we clung to and pursued sin!

Here’s my concern then. The only reason I was NOT a hypocrite before, is that I had no standard in the first place! I couldn’t “live below” my own standards, (hypocrisy means to “under judge” in a sense), because my standards were so low that would be impossible. In fact, the closest I came to hypocrisy was if I would restrain myself from immediate pleasure, which I learned to do, but only because I thought it was best for me; never was it for the sake of righteousness.

The fear now is that I actually have standards, so hypocrisy is easily accessible to me! For the first time in my life, I am not only claiming to believe in a high standard of righteousness, but I am preaching it. My fall will be much further now than ever before. So I must be on guard. This is interesting to me. I mean, when I was saved, I had so much despicable sin in my life that I was fending off; the thought of fending off a new sin was out of the question. And now, I’ve realized that this new sin is one I’ve never dealt with. Ultimately the sin is pride and deceit. Hypocrisy, at its root, denies the omnipresence and omniscience of God. It is an act of putting what other men think of me OVER what God thinks. I can lie and deceive men into thinking I am better than I am, but not God.

True hypocrites, in their hearts believe they are deceiving both, even if they don’t know that’s what they believe. The hypocrites of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, were outwardly very religious. In fact, they professed many things that were truly righteous acts, but in their hearts they still sinned. Being able to clean up the outside is easy, what none of us can do is cleanse our own hearts; that requires the work of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 17:9, John 6:63, 1 Corinthians 2:14

Some will read this and say, He is a hypocrite! I know he’s sinned! True, but I don’t think that a single sin makes a person a hypocrite, even if it was presumptuous. The nature of hypocrisy, (as well as the other sins mentioned in the New Testament that truly regenerate men are now free of) is that the sin is continuous; that is, there is a pattern of sin in the man’s life. Christians still sin, but in their hearts, there is a change. The desire or need to cover their own sin, to hide it from God and even other men is gone. Laying our sins at the foot of the cross, walking humbly and trusting Christ alone for forgiveness, not our own works or penance is what separates believers from non-believers, the righteous from the wicked. Have I violated God’s commands, yes! Have I violated commands that I’ve even preached or taught others they should not violate? Yes! I’m not proud of this, I’m ashamed. But the point is that the law of God is righteous and true regardless of this servant’s inability to perfectly follow. Dear Christian, do your best and rely on Christ. Work hard to study to know His Word that you might not sin. (Psalm 119:11) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In conclusion, I was not a hypocrite, by the Grace of God and largely due to my own lack of righteousness. I never was a false convert. Am I a hypocrite today? I’m sure at times I have been, but my heart’s intention now is to be cleansed and forgiven, and because God is just, I know I am cleansed and forgiven. Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:9

Please don’t make the mistakes I’ve made; allow God to search your heart for the hidden sin that is in you, that you might never be accurately called a hypocrite.

Here are some examples of hypocrisy you may search for in your own heart:

Do you speak or preach against sin such as homosexuality, yet foster lust in your heart or even act it out? This includes heterosexual pornography, sex outside marriage, even “just looking.”

Do you tell people they should be out witnessing or passing out tracts and you don’t do it yourself?

Do you tell people to trust God in all things, like their finances or when they’re sick, but there are still areas of your life where you don’t fully trust Him, like your workplace or your marriage?

Do you fantasize about certain sins that appeal more to you, while showing disdain for the sins of others that maybe aren’t as big an issue for you? For example, maybe you think about getting drunk on alcohol, and you think it’s not a big deal because you aren’t actually doing it, but then if your spouse was thinking about another person, you’d be pretty offended wouldn’t you?

Do you tell people they should worship the one true God, and then you participate in activities like yoga or listening to music or watching movies that blasphemes God’s name or depicts sin in an enticing, attractive manner?

Ultimately, do you tell people that you love Jesus; that you are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, and then live a life the exhibits a greater love for the things in this world that the things of God? 1 John 2:15-17

Do not do these things! Repent – change your mind about your sin and give it to God. He can carry the entire burden; he already has! Christ has paid it all, and He wants it all, and He deserves it all, all your life that is! Today is the day of salvation for someone, and for many it will be the day to enter eternity; where will you spend it?

Evangelizing the “Church of Christ”

On two separate days in a row, I had the opportunity to evangelize a person who attended the “Church of Christ.” I experienced two completely opposite reactions. This intrigued me, and I was glad for the boldness that God provided, because it offered a graceful surprise in my life.

First of all, what is the Church of Christ? I do not think I am misrepresenting their beliefs if I state that they believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation. That is, true followers of the “Church of Christ” believe that until one is baptized, God has not imparted His grace to the believer, and thus, it is impossible for a person to go to heaven without that cooperation with God. The following link best describes their position and wikipedia seemed informative as well.

I’m not going to use this post to disprove their doctrine. Suffice to say it is a false teaching. If you are not planning on continuing reading for whatever reason, let me just state the salvation is in Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone. Man cannot add to Christ’s work on his behalf.

The first encounter was yesterday, June 24, 2010. I was at the ODOT main campus on the Hilltop. My wife and I had just bought a minivan and were going to do the title and license plate registration. Praise God for providing so abundantly for my family, by the way! Anyway, I stepped out of my car and a confused looking man was asking directions. I showed him where his building was and I then offered him a tract. He accepted it and said something to the effect of following the Lord as well. “Praise God,” I said.

So my wife and I went into the BMV, completed the work and left. Now the man almost seemed to be waiting for me in the parking lot. He came out and said “you’re pretty aggressive for the Lord.” He asked me what church I go to and I told him Berean Baptist Church on the East side. He told me he was raised Baptist. This always intrigues me…like people feel they’ll identify with me in some way. I’ve learned that most of the times I hear that it’s because the person has left…which interests me because it is usually for a reason. Now I’m not saying only Baptists are saved…but I do agree with the doctrine that is taught and believed. So for a person to tell me they “used to be Baptist” basically means they probably disagree about something I find biblical and important!

At this point I asked him what type of church he goes to now. He replied, Church of Christ. Ahhhh, my little alarm sirens went off in my head and I replied to him, “you know, the Church of Christ teaches that in order to be saved, one has to be baptized.” He nodded in agreement. So I told him that on the Day of Judgment there is going to be a group of people who are judged by their works and another group judged based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. He nodded in agreement. Then I told him that by putting his faith in his baptism, he has effectively put himself in the second group; that Christ alone is the basis for salvation and that the gospel he believes is a false gospel, or not a gospel at all. (Galatians 1:6-7, 1 Corinthians 1:17)

Long story short, at this point he stormed off. He was clearly frustrated or angry. This is what happens when your foundation is shaken. It’s like an earthquake. The Earth is our foundation. When it is shaken, like an earthquake, it is not only very frightening, but it is dangerous. The very thing that is supporting us physically, when it is not firm and solid becomes a point of tragedy. The same is true of people’s spiritual beliefs. If you question someone’s spiritual beliefs and get them to question them themselves, their very foundation is shaken. The first reaction of most people whose foundations are shaking is to cling to something; anything that they think is anchored. In the case of one’s spiritual foundation shaking, I think the first reaction of many people is to attack or get very angry at the person who is causing the “foundation-shaking.” I find this very common with religious people. The one thing I like about people who truly embrace postmodernism thought is that if they genuinely “practice what they preach” they are usually the most respectful people of my beliefs. But someone who is deeply steeped in a religion or cult, they are most offended when it is questioned. But at least that means they understand the message. When someone isn’t shaken up, I am concerned about them.

Thanks be to God that we inherit an unshakable kingdom! Hebrews 12:27-28

So today, I encountered Peter Ramirez. I spent too much time after work chatting with a coworker about cellphones. Had I not done this I wouldn’t have run into Peter. Isn’t God’s sovereignty comforting?

Peter is homeless and staying at Faith on Sixth. He is selling a homeless newspaper where he makes about 10 dollars a day. He had a look of genuineness to him when he approached me so I took some time to talk to him. Before we spoke for even a minute, he told me that I must be a Christian because I had such a humble spirit.

Hold on, PRAISE JESUS because that is NOT ME and didn’t COME FROM ME. To God alone be all the glory for that work.

Anyway, he told me he brings his sword everywhere and pulled out his Bible to show me. He was very excited to meet another Christian. He showed me a picture of Peter II, his son, for whom any believers out there can also pray! Thanks! (Proverbs 15:29, James 5:16, John 14:6 and Proverbs 28:9 are some of the reasons I only request prayer of truly regenerate souls, by the way, in case you wondered 🙂

Then I asked him where he is going to church. He replied, “Church of Christ on Livingston.” Now my little heart probably skipped a little. He seemed so nice and genuine. Many homeless people learn to play parts, in order to manipulate people to give them things. I didn’t sense that with this guy. I’ve had my share of experience with people of all walks of life from my past. My flesh said, don’t bother, he’s just going to get mad like the other guy and cause a scene. But my faith, (which, by the way is a gift of God’s grace Ephesians 2:8-9) said that the power of God is the gospel (Romans 1:16) and that God’s Word is the source (Romans 10:17, Is 40:8, 55:11). So I looked at him and told him what I explained above. I told him that the Church of Christ teaches that baptism is required for salvation. I told him that I knew that ONLY faith in Christ would credit our account with His righteousness. What a relief when he completely agreed and was glad. My heart rejoiced! I warned him to be very careful and that he should probably find a different church that preaches the Truth. We chatted several more minutes and he told me how I had encouraged him today. Praise God for that. I even mentioned to him that I had been a source of discouragement for so many for so long, that God alone deserves praise for His work in me! Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 2:9-10

The power is in The Word, dear Christian reader! It is not your cleverness, your good looks or your persuasive speech. In fact, if people are wooed by your preaching or evangelism, there’s a chance you’re not actually preaching Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, foolishness to the world that considers itself wise already! (1 Corinthians 1:23-25) But to those who are the called, the wisdom of God! Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 (For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: KJV) Are you ready to admit you are one of the foolish things of the world? Are you weak? Are you one of the BASE THINGS, things which are despised? If you cannot admit this, then maybe you are not part of the chosen! Inspect yourself and decide if your pride is more important than God’s Glory and come to Him for mercy, for it is abundant!

Peter is a lover of Jesus Christ who needs our prayer!

Same sex (homosexual) marriage

If you are a supporter of same sex marriage, please let me know your argument for why siblings should not marry. If your answer is, because their kids could be messed up because of potential genetic defects, then what if we allowed siblings to marry as long as they were sterilized or unable to have children? Or as long as it was sister-sister or brother-brother?

Seriously, I’m interested in rational reasoning concerning this point. I don’t think that you can rationally actually argue FOR homosexual marriage and AGAINST close-relative-without-possibility-of-kids marriage.

Only the Bible provides a basis for marriage, and any rational reasoning for that matter. Man’s way is a way that leads to death, but God’s way is a way that leads to life. Proverbs 14:12, Psalm 119:155

Added 07/21/2010 – Apparently I’m not the first person to wonder about this, read this article from an honest professional who is actually on the other side of the argument.

Added 06/28/2013 – If you are reading, I suggest reading the comments, too, as there is a lot of information there.

Added 07/14/2014 – Wow. This post was written only 4 years ago and it seems we are seeing the tide roll. View this article titled: Australian Judge Says Incest May No Longer Be a Taboo

What I did not specifically predict in 2010 is that the method proposed for preventing children in the incestuous relationship is none other than abortion. How devious and sickening.

James 1:19-20

James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

These verses are an admonishment to believers. Practical advice to focus on listening and not speaking too soon comes first. Many a tough day in my own life would have been better had I obeyed this command! Immediately following is the “slow to anger” portion of the verse. Guess who is ACTUALLY slow to anger? Numbers 14:18 – The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness (NASB). So here the Lord is compelling us to be like Him – something He never does without also providing the effectual power to do so. Be not afraid to ask the God of all abundance to provide for you the means to “be slow to anger.”

Why should you do that? Why ask God to provide you with the power to be slow to anger? Because the wrath of man is not like the wrath of God. Our wrath is not often founded in righteousness; more often it is rooted in self-centered or self-righteous pride than the result of a love for Goodness. The real problem lies in our hearts. Being, or getting angry isn’t the issue, truly; it is a symptom of a deeper problem. But attempting to obey this verse will expose for you how terribly hard it is for us to be slow to anger like He is, even when that indignation may be justified! By meditating on this verse and truly wanting to adhere to it, we will see how insufficient we are in the flesh to follow even the easiest instructions; hopefully, this will cause you to turn to Him as source of the power you need.

For more on God’s glorious and amazing patience, click here.

Psalm 147:5

Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord and of great power; his understanding is infinite.

This verse can be rightfully divided into two distinct thoughts. The first thought concerns the greatness of our Lord and His awesome power. The use of the word “Lord” implies that He is our master; but who doesn’t love to serve a “Good” master? The idea of lordship has such a bad connotation in our culture because so many sinful men have abused power, “lording” it over others. But our Lord is great! And He is worthy of adoration and our submission. His power, or strength, is also abundant, mighty and great! The idea of power is that He has the ability to effect His will. He is not a wishful God, hoping people will come through for Him or waiting on the strength of men. Nor is He unable to thwart Satan’s plans, or any man’s plans that are contrary to His own. His power is overflowing; possibly only overshadowed by His own amazing restraint of that power, according to His will.

His understanding is infinite! What does that mean? It’s incomprehensible…simply because our understanding is FINITE. But imagine how quickly we follow the advice of an expert doctor or coach in this life. How quickly we seek teachers to share their finite understanding with us for life’s problems. How much more then, ought we trust in the commands of the Lord. His understanding is infinite, and is not bound by time. Since you know He sees the end already…He knows what is BEST for you always; allow yourself to trust Him today, and lean on Him and not your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.)

Delete duplicates in Excel

If this article doesn’t help you, consider dropping me a note with your concern. I have thousands of lines of code for hundreds of Oracle problems I’ve faced and would publish ones that people told me would be helpful. I have written hundreds of macros for Excel to solve basic to even quite complex tasks.

Once in a while I want to write an article on technology. Here is the first one.

Note: In Excel 2010 – this feature is built in and much more sophisticated than this script.

Have you ever had a large dataset (or small) that you imported into Excel somehow and you just want to remove all the rows that duplicate on a certain column? Here’s a couple quick macros you can use to solve your problem. Just copy and paste this code into a module in Excel VBA and run them like any other macro.

This first macro is really good if you just have a single column of data. Your focus (the currently selected cell) must be in the column of your data, and your first row of data should be in row 1. Additionally, you should not have any blanks in the dataset. If you do, just sort the data first and run this macro. It can remove a few hundred duplicates in seconds. If you are in the thousands…be patient, it can run a little while. I just ran it against a dataset with 10000 rows with only 386 unique values and it finished in just over 3 minutes. This doesn’t sound like long, but if you’re sitting there while excel is flashing, you may be tempted to end it early.

Sub DeleteDups()

    Application.CutCopyMode = False
    Dim offset, firstRow, lastRow, currCol, i As Integer
    currCol = ActiveCell.Column
    firstRow = 1
    Cells(firstRow, currCol).Select
    lastRow = ActiveCell.Row
    Cells(firstRow, currCol).Select
    Range(Selection, Selection.End(xlDown)).Select
    Selection.sort Key1:=Cells(ActiveCell.Row, ActiveCell.Column), Order1:=xlAscending, Header:=xlGuess, _
        OrderCustom:=1, MatchCase:=False, Orientation:=xlTopToBottom, _
    offset = 0
    For i = firstRow To (lastRow - 1) Step 1
      If Cells(i - offset, currCol) = Cells(i + 1 - offset, currCol) Then
        Rows(i - offset).Delete Shift:=xlUp
        offset = offset + 1
      End If
    Next i
End Sub

The second macro is good for any situation where you have multiple columns of data. You must first SORT the data on the field you are going to remove the duplicates based upon. Your focus (the currently selected cell) must be in the column of your data we are checking for duplicates as well, and your first row of data should be in row 1. It can remove a few hundred duplicates in seconds. If you are in the thousands…be patient, it can run a little while.

Sub DeleteDupsNoSort()

    Application.CutCopyMode = False
    Dim offset, firstRow, lastRow, currCol, i As Integer
    currCol = ActiveCell.Column
    firstRow = 1
    Cells(firstRow, currCol).Select
    lastRow = ActiveCell.Row
    Cells(firstRow, currCol).Select
    Range(Selection, Selection.End(xlDown)).Select
    offset = 0
    For i = firstRow To (lastRow - 1) Step 1
      If Cells(i - offset, currCol) = Cells(i + 1 - offset, currCol) Then
        Rows(i - offset).Delete Shift:=xlUp
        offset = offset + 1
      End If
    Next i
End Sub

As always, SAVE your work before running this macro. You may even make a copy of your data first, just in case. If I had a penny for every iteration of an infinite loop I’ve written…

If anyone has any other programming needs, especially little things you might just want to be able to do at home, like track a budget, let me know. I’ll post more or just help you one on one.

If this article doesn’t help you, consider dropping me a note with your concern. I have thousands of lines of code for hundreds of Oracle problems I’ve faced and would publish ones that people told me would be helpful. I have written hundreds of macros for Excel to solve basic to even quite complex tasks.