Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's In a Name?

I was just reading this morning in Genesis 5 the account of Adam’s family line, a portion of scripture that I usually gloss over. But this time it was different. I read it line by line, name by name. I took a moment to reflect on each name.

In biblical times the selection of a child’s name was a serious decision. You didn’t just choose whatever sounded good. Today we hear of celebrities coming up with some crazy names. In fact, I found the “top 10” list of the craziest names in Hollywood.

Here they are:

• Bronx Mowgli Wentz
• Pilot Inspektor
• Kal-El Cage
• Moon Unit Zappa
• Jermajesty Jackson
• Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette
• Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale
• Rocket Rodriguez
• Brooklyn Beckham (actually, this isn’t so crazy to me)
• Apple Martin

How would you like to go around with one of these names?

The thing about a name is that it sets you apart. You are a unique individual who has value. I think that’s the most important thing we can learn about a name.

While it is easy to gloss over the family lines we find throughout the Bible, we have to remember that this was a person whose life had value to it. They weren’t just a blip on the screen of life.

Sometimes we get offended when someone doesn’t remember our name. It can feel like a personal affront, as if we don’t really matter. It can also feel good when you are at the grocery store or the bank and the person behind the counter actually acknowledges your name.

This whole thing with a name is something I have been thinking about for a couple of weeks now. Over the course of the past two months, God has been prompting me to help a homeless man that frequently sits outside the Pick n Save I shop at. Whenever I see him, I make sure to come out with a bottle of water.

But on one occasion the Lord was speaking to my heart, “He has a name.” It was easy to dismiss that…well of course he has a name. But what God was trying to say to me is that he has a name and I need to ask what it is. I need to see him as someone valuable and I can’t really do that until I know his name.

A good three weeks passed in between the time I heard God speaking to me about this and when I finally saw him again. I was walking up to the front doors of Pick n Save with my daughter and there he was on his bench.

I sat down next to him and said, “Hi.” I gave him a monetary gift that God had put upon my heart to give and then I asked him what his name was. Never have I seen that man smile. Even when I have handed him the bottled water, not even a crack. But he smiled and said, “Dan.” I shook his hand and told him my name and then I pointed to my daughter and told him her name. He reached out to shake her hand.

The conversation didn’t go much further. I said my, “God loves you” thing and we moved on.

Names are valuable because the person behind it is valuable. Whose name do you need to learn today?

(Photo by Kevin Walsh in Flickr)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

Ephesians 5:16…making the most of every opportunity

Every single day is a new opportunity. Each moment in each day offers us the chance to…

do right or do wrong

make a difference or waste time

help or hurt

impact a life or ruin a relationship

give or take

build up or tear down

love or hate

be right or choose peace.

Funny how there are so many choices before us but yet…so few moments in life. May we each make the most of every opportunity we are given.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Replacing Your Sin

Ephesians 4:28 (The Message): Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Even if stealing has not been something you struggled with, there is a lot we can learn from this verse. It is the idea of replacement…replacing what you once did with something new.

Sometimes it’s not enough to stop what you once did before you became a believer. Replacing a bad habit or a sin with something else can be beneficial. It takes what you once did, who you once were and turns it around into something good.

The concept of this is something I saw played out in a book I just finished reading called “The Cause Within You: Finding the One Great Thing You Were Created to Do in This World” by Matthew Barnett. Former prostitutes teaching Bible studies. Former drug addicts providing meals to the homeless. All are giving back. They didn’t just stop their sin. They replaced it with something else.

But it goes even a little deeper than this. Reread the verse above and you will see four important steps. The first step is simply to stop what you once did. “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer…”

The second step is to do something else. “…but must work…” So now instead of stealing, you are working.

The third step is to replace your sin. “…doing something useful with their own hands...” The hands that used to steal are now going to find something useful to do instead.

The fourth step is to share your replacement with others. “…that they may have something to share with those in need.”

You see, living a life that is pleasing to God is not just about stopping those bad behaviors or habits. It is really about positively impacting the lives of others. No matter what your past is, you have something to give back.

Stop your sin, replace it with something good and then use it to impact the life of those around you.

Photo by Studio Cl Art on

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Your Life Is Not Your Own

Yesterday my husband and I met a man from church, who will be heading up a missions trip to Haiti in just a couple of weeks, at our bank. We had to have a couple of forms notarized. One was an authorization form for our minor child to leave the country on this trip and the other was to sign over temporary guardianship to the team leader.

It felt strange to sign over temporary guardianship of my child. What it says is that for this particular period of time, I am relinquishing my rights over my child to someone else. The responsibility of his life for those six days will rest with someone else.

Mothers have a very strong attachment to their children. There is almost a sense of ownership. But the reality is that no matter who has “guardianship” over my child, he does not belong to me. He belongs to God.

As I was reflecting on these things, God reminded me of something else…my life is not my own.

…You are not your own; you were bought at a price… (I Corinthians 6:19b-20a)

How many times at church do I sing songs of surrender? “Lord, I surrender all…I surrender all…all to you my precious Savior, I surrender all.” Yet the truth is I am still holding onto things.

True surrender is a recognition that we are not our own. There was a price paid for our salvation, our new life in Christ. It was a heavy, blood-bought price. How could I expect such a price to be paid for me, yet still attempt to direct my own life?

I came to understand that for me personally, what God was trying to say is that there are some things I am still holding onto…as if I “own” them. At the top of that list are my children.

But for all of us, we have some area in our life (maybe more) that we grasp onto, too afraid to let go. We let fear and doubt prevent us from truly surrendering.

What if things don’t go the way we expected? What if something bad happens? What if it backfires? What if it doesn’t work out? We go into the idea of surrender with only “What if” thoughts. That isn’t true surrender.

The past couple of weeks this has been a real battle for me, as I saw my daughter off to her first year of high school…as the decision was made in our home about allowing our son to take this missions trip to Haiti.

I feel like my children are just growing up too fast and I want to press the pause button. But the reality is that it’s because I don’t want to relinquish them. Yet that is exactly what God is asking of us. He wants us to release EVERYTHING in our life because our life is not our own.

He paid a price for your life and soul that can never be measured. We really can’t even wrap our minds around the reality of this. It’s too divine…it’s too unbelievable.

So with that, I leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “Unthinkable”:

That God would give His Son for me
I find it hard to believe
That a gift so great could ever be repaid
But the blood that’s flowing from His veins
Has washed away my guilty stains
Death was lost and life was gained for me

It’s unthinkable
But I still believe
It’s unthinkable
But I still believe

I’ve found forgiveness for a life of sin
You bring me healing in my brokenness
You give me purpose for a life unlived
It’s all in your blood, it’s all in your blood

Photo by mmagallan in stock.xchng