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Ask Jani: “Taking God’s Name in Vain” & “Discipleship Goals”

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Episode Synopsis

Jani and Heidi discuss a listener’s question about saying, “Oh my goodness!” They also answer a question about meaningful goals for our discipleship groups.

Audio Transcript

Heidi: Hello, everyone! Welcome to He Restores My Soul. It’s good to be with you today on this chilly morning in February, Jani. How the months and the days go by.

Jani: Yes, I’m glad for our cups of tea here as we get to be together. I wish our listeners could sit around this table with us, but we invite them in over the airwaves. Don’t we?

Heidi: Yes, we invite you into our hearts and just into this room with us.

Heidi: We are still going through some “Ask Jani” questions. We’re trying to get caught up because you listeners have been so wonderful. We have so many in our inbox and so we just want to take a moment to answer them this morning. Are you ready, Jani?

Jani: Well, we’ll start. Yes.

Question 1: “Is saying, ‘Oh my goodness’ taking the Lord’s name in Vain?”

Heidi: So here’s our first question.

Jani, I have been blessed by your podcast each day. The 10 Commandments were amazing. On taking God’s name in vain, I have a question for you. You usually say “Oh my goodness.” Isn’t that the same as “Oh my god”? What is goodness? Isn’t all our goodness in Jesus? David says he has no good apart from him. Wouldn’t it be best to say, “Oh, wow!” “Oh, no”?

Jani: Wow, that is a good question, isn’t it Heidi? As I think about it, and listen to it, this listener, did she say, “Isn’t that the same as saying, ‘Oh, my God’?”

Heidi: Yes. So she kind of the question is, I think, “Is saying, “Oh my goodness” the same as saying, “Oh, my God” and is there a comparison? Should we avoid saying “Oh my goodness” because we want to be reverent with the Lord’s name?

Jani: Well, we really do want to be reverent with the Lord’s name. We never want to take his name in vain.

Jani: I, personally, don’t believe that when a person says, “Oh my goodness” it’s the same as saying, “Oh my God.” I wouldn’t pray, “Heavenly Goodness” instead of “Heavenly Father.” I wouldn’t say, “Dear Goodness” instead of “Dear Lord.” It, to me, goodness is not the same as the name of the Lord. It’s a quality about our Father.

Keeping Romans Chapter 14 in mind

Jani: But Heidi, I want to go a little further with this because we don’t want any of our words ever to be a hindrance to anyone else, especially one of our listeners. We’re so grateful for each of our listeners. And I’m, I thank this lady who sent in this question. I would never want to give anyone a reason to balk or hesitate. I wouldn’t want to build a wall. I want every word that comes out of our mouths to be worthy of our Lord, to be worthy of our listeners.

Jani: This question makes me think about Romans 14. And there are some verses in here in Romans 14:5, 7, and 12 speak to my own heart about this. Verse five says,

“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Romans 14:5

Jani: I feel free to say, “Oh my goodness” because in my own mind I don’t feel a hesitancy. Our listener does. She’s convinced that way. So I want to apologize and say, “I’m so sorry. I never want to be a hindrance to any of our listeners.” And I think, Heidi, and you can help me with this on our podcast. I’m just not going to say that anymore.

Jani: Paul goes on to say in verse seven,

“For none of us lives to himself.”

Romans 14:7

Jani: I don’t want to live to myself. This podcast is not about us, is it, Heidi? This podcast is for Jesus and we want him to use it to restore our souls and our listeners souls and if it’s not soul restorative to our listeners, we don’t want to do it.

Heidi: Yes, what’s the purpose of doing it if it’s not helping us all cast our gaze on Jesus, we don’t want to waste our time.

Jani: That’s right.

Jani: And finally, here in Romans 14, Paul says in verse 12,

“So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

Romans 14:12

Jani: Heidi and I take this podcast very seriously. We realize that our time spent here, the financial resources spent here, we are going to give an account to God for how we use this and because of that we we take it very seriously. So I just offer to this listener my apologies. And I imagine if there’s one listener to whom this was a hindrance, there are probably others. So please forgive me. And I’ll try not to do it again.

Heidi: Oh Jani, I love your heart. I think you show us an example of Christ in you and what humility looks like in repentance. And aren’t we all so grateful for the gift to repent to one another, when we cause the hindrance to one another.

Heidi: I love the example that you gave of being a “bridge builder.” In this world there are so many tensions that can build up in friendships and politics, and it’s hard to know how to what to do with those big chasms between us. And I think you gave us an example this morning of what it means to be a bridge builder to have a difference of opinion, but to want to love our brother and sister more in Christ, than that difference of opinion, and how to be humble and repent and say, “Let’s encourage one another towards Christ.” That’s what matters most. So thank you for taking the time to kind of think over that question and pray over it.

Jani: Well, Heidi, thank you. That’s sweet of you. You see why I love her so much, listeners.

Question 2: Goals for Discipleship Group

Heidi: Here’s our next question for this morning, Jani. This one I think is a little bit easier.

Jani: Oh, good.

“Jani, what are your goals for the discipleship groups you lead? I just started a new group and want to plan out our time together.”

Jani: Oh, my!

Heidi: How exciting! A new discipleship group.

Jani: I know. Oh, may the Lord bless you, dear listener, as you and your group begin meeting. For Heidi and me discipleship is very close to both of our hearts. We both have been discipled and do disciple, and so we’re happy to speak into this. We do want you to know that there is going to be a series on discipleship starting, did we decide, Heidi?

Heidi: I think we talked about in August, we’re going to hopefully if, Lord willing, have the opportunity to go through Jani’s discipleship curriculum lesson-by-lesson which I cannot wait to do that podcast series with you, Jani, your discipleship group had such an impact on my life. What a gift to be able to share that with other women.

Jani: Well, we’ll see how it goes, you’re really going to have to help me with this, Heidi. And so you can look forward to that, Lord willing, as Heidi said. But for today, I would like to answer this question because this listener is involved right now.

Jani: Really, my main goal in discipleship is to obey the Lord when he says, “Pass on what I’ve given to you.” Disciple one another. Go, I’m sending you to share what I’ve given to you. I never want to be a dead end. Heidi, I don’t want to just ingest, take in, enjoy so much that others give me and let it stagnate in me, I want to be, in a sense, a flowing stream rather than a dead pond.

Heidi: Oh, that’s what I think of. “Jani Ortlund, the dead pond.” You are a flowing stream, my beautiful friend.

Jani: Oh, well thank you. But we do we want to pass on what others have taught us. And of course, if you’re a mother, the first people you want to pass it on to is your children. But beyond that there are other women who are hungry for what God has given you. I’m hungry for what God has given to you, Heidi, and others of my friends. We see Jesus in each other and we want what he’s doing in their lives.

Two Main Goals: Accountability & Vulnerability

Jani: Now, for myself, I can experience some things in a smaller group, much better than I can in a larger group. And one of those groups is a discipleship group. I can experience things with a group of ladies a smaller group of maybe six to eight women, that I could never experience with others in a worship service or in a Sunday school class. At the same time, there are things in the worship service I can’t experience in discipleship groups, so we need both.

Jani: But in my discipleship groups, I have two main goals: accountability and vulnerability. Those are two things that it’s harder for me to experience in larger groups.


Jani: Vulnerability, what do I mean by that? I mean walking through life together in authentic ways, real life. When I go to church on Sunday morning, I look, you know, pretty put together, but in my discipleship groups, they get the real Jani. What’s been going on in my life and in my heart. So we need a place where we can be authentic.

Heidi: We need a place where we can walk in the light and I mean, who of us is not laden with the nastiest of sins. But a discipleship group I’ve always found is a place to bring those into the light, and walk hand in hand with sisters towards heaven.

Jani: Yes. 1 John 1:7,

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us.”

1 John 1:7

Jani: So it’s very biblical to walk in the light with a group of people. Now, you’re not going to do that with everyone in your church, it wouldn’t be appropriate. But in a discipleship group, you have the responsibility and the opportunity to be open, vulnerable, authentic.


Jani: Along with that comes accountability. That means I share my life, I’m walking in the light and then I ask you to hold me accountable to not continue to go down the same dark path. We cheer each other on, we share what’s working in our lives, what’s not working, and we hold each other accountable. So there are assignments.

5 Aspects of a discipleship group

Jani: Maybe it would help, Heidi, if we went through some of the different aspects of our times together during our discipleship meeting. What’s one thing you do in your discipleship groups?

1. Worship

Heidi: Yeah, Jani, let’s just start with the beginning. I love how you taught us to always include a section of worship, I think of worship is adoring God, giving the Lord, being in awe of the Lord. And so always at some point in the group, I try to put our eyes on Christ. Whether it’s through reading scripture, teaching us about the characteristics of God, whether it’s through prayer, spending time thanking the Lord, for the gifts that he’s given us. Worship is the time to focus on God and turn our eyes to him. And what about you, Jani?

Jani: Yeah, well, I always try to include worship. That’s the hardest part for me to include in my groups. But sometimes we even sing. I don’t have a good voice anymore in my 70s, my, well, in my 60s, my voice really started to wobble quite a bit. But sometimes we’ll sing for our worship time. But it’s important not just to look at each other, but to look up together to the Lord, lift up our eyes to him. So one part of our discipleship time together is worship.

2. Teaching

Jani: Another part is teaching. And you might think, as a discipler, “Well, I’m not a Bible teacher.” Well just share what God is teaching you in your quiet times. Ask him what he wants you to share. What is God doing in your life? Is there a passage of scripture that you’re working on? Is there a verse you’re meditating on? Are you memorizing any scripture? Teach your disciples about that.

Heidi: I’ll add to that, too. Think about, “What are ways that the Lord has taught you to draw near to him?” So even spend time teaching the women in your discipleship group, what does your quiet time look like? Do you read your Bible? Do you pray? Do you meditate on scripture? We all need encouragement to learn how to spend time with the Lord. And so I would think about how do I spend time with the Lord? What has God taught me about quiet times over the past few years? And teach them that.

Jani: Mm hmm. That’s good. It was nice to have Katie Lewis with us in one of our previous podcasts and help us with that as well, wasn’t it? So teaching. Worship, teaching.

3. Sharing

Jani: A third area that we focus on both Heidi and I in our discipleship groups is sharing.

Heidi: Sharing’s my favorite, Jani. I’m such a heart person. Nothing makes my heart happier than hearing what is the state of your heart and what’s going on in your life?

Jani: Yes. And isn’t it wonderful to have friends who care to hear that? You and I, when we get together, we try to share our own hearts for the first few minutes before we go into work. It’s an important part of being a human; being able to share with someone who cares.

Heidi: And it’s an important part of that vulnerability and to be able to be vulnerable week after week, and let our friends come around us and kind of walk us through the joys of life and the hardships of life. What a gift.

Jani: Yes, yes.

4. Prayer

Jani: So worship, teaching, sharing, prayer. We want to learn how to pray for each other. We share prayer requests. Sometimes in our discipleship group, we take time to pray for each other. Other times, we’ll draw a name out of a basket and that’s our prayer partner for the week. But we need to pray for each other and you might as a disciple or you might want to take a few weeks and teach on prayer. Look at some different passages. Teach through the Lord’s Prayer. But pray for one another.

5. Accountability / Assignments

Jani: And then finally, our fifth aspect (our fifth part of our group) is accountability. We always have an assignment and we always check up on how we’re doing with that assignment. So worship, teaching, sharing, prayer and accountability.

Heidi: And I’ll say, just to mention because this was helpful to me, some of the assignments that Jani has had us do and that I’ve done with other women are reading through the Bible in a year. So we’ll, you know, kind of begin quiet times for a few months, and then come January, we’ll start to read through the Bible together. You could choose to just read through the New Testament with your group. But that’s a very helpful assignment to keep me accountable and being in the word every single day.

Heidi: Another assignment is meditating on scripture, memorizing scripture, coming to group and saying the verse that your heart’s been meditating on and that you’ve been memorizing. And then the last assignment I think of is we you’ve had us read different books, Christian biographies, books by John Piper, books that really challenge our intellect to learn more about the Lord and study His Word.

Jani: Well, hopefully this has whetted your appetite. Heidi and I look forward to this series on discipleship come this August, Lord willing. We hope that this “Ask Jani” is restorative to your souls we want it to be and that’s our goal and our desire. Do it, Lord, please.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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