Naming Your Identity

It was treasured and given to me by two of my four adored older brothers. They don’t know where it came from. It simply was and it made me feel very special. They truly meant no harm and it stayed with me for years to come. It was my childhood nickname, Boosh, and it was harmless, or so I thought.

Our name is important to us. It lets others know how to address us. Our name identifies us to others. I grew up in an era when a lot of importance was put on naming children after family relatives. The middle name of three of my four brothers is the first name of three of our uncles. The youngest of my brothers and I somehow missed out on this tradition, but nonetheless, I have always really liked my name, especially because it was very uncommon while I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I met another girl with my name and even then, she spelled hers differently than mine.

Throughout Biblical history not only were names important they carried meanings that names in our current culture might not. The meaning of a Biblical name could have been prophecy about future events, the outcome of one’s life, or an indication of the hopes and dreams of parents for the life of their child.

 Hannah gave her son the name Samuel because she cried out to the Lord for a child and God answered her prayer. In the original Hebrew Samuel means I have asked for him. The name of one of Isaiah’s son was Shear-Yashub meaning a remnant will return. And Joseph was told by an angel of the Lord in a dream to name the baby Mary was carrying Immanuel, meaning with us is God, or God with us.

Do you identify with your birth name? If so, how [family name, Biblical or cultural or perhaps your mom liked a particular sports player and decided to name you after him/her].

I encourage you to read 1 Peter 2:9 [if you don’t have a Bible you can search this verse online] and list the different names God calls you that are your true identity found in Christ. When you start with the negative self talk or you find yourself speaking negatively to another person, gently remind yourself that we are all created in the image of God and say to yourself the beautiful words God calls you and others.

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Shalom!

What's Your Fragrance?

Have you ever walked past someone and caught a whiff of a delicious smelling perfume or cologne and for a split second you were transported back to a special memory or event? When others think of you does your fragrance cause them to sense Jesus?

One of the greatest tragedy’s of todays Church is that we have been so poorly discipled. If we truly knew how to disciple according to God’s word and through the example of Jesus we would all serve without question. We would live in such a way as evidence we love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and all our mind, we would love our neighbors as ourself. We would choose to think like Jesus, speak like Jesus, act like Jesus and love like Jesus. We would care so much about the welfare of others we would remember to consistently ask Holy Spirit for cleansing, deliverance and healing from sin that causes us to hurt ourselves, hurt others and leave many wounded and divided. We would honestly and graciously hold each other accountable so a hurting, exhausted and fearful world of people would truly see Jesus and want Him too.

Shalom!

Self Righteous or Righteousness?

…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Ephesians 6:14b.

Righteousness is one of those words that has been misconstrued through generations and cultural preference. Like many words it has lost its true meaning and has been skewed to fit a cultural climate. Some, perhaps many, might say born again believers are self righteous. That followers of Jesus feel they are morally superior. [If you feel this way, I am sorry and hope you can forgive anyone who has caused you to feel this way]. The truth is those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are challenged by moral behavior just as anyone else who walks this planet. The difference is followers of Jesus have the help of Holy Spirit to guide them in and to desire a righteous lifestyle.

Several years ago I heard from a sermon that we never take off our breastplate of righteousness. Through the years I have often thought about this and realize this thought doesn’t resonate with me.

When you make a choice to follow Jesus [asking for the forgiveness of your sins and committing to learning about and living like Jesus] righteousness becomes your identity in Jesus. You have the divine approval of God; you are approved in His sight. Therefore, you cannot loose your righteousness. Sin, however, causes a break in our fellowship with God and He graciously offers the gifts of confession and repentance and Holy Spirit is faithful to help us confess and repent and we enjoy restored communion with God.

The breastplate of righteousness is God’s divine approval of all who believe in Jesus, however, Paul tells us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. This is an action we are instructed to take. The breastplate of the Roman soldier described in the Armor of God passage in Ephesians [Ephesians 6:10-17] was meant to protect a soldier’s heart. Paul encourages us to put on God’s righteousness to protect our hearts. When we actively choose to spend time with Him by reading and studying His word and through prayer and praise we are protecting our heart from a thief who wants to steal Truth from us.

The breastplate of righteousness is a choice. Will you go about your day believing you have everything under control? Or, will you seek Holy Spirit lifting your arms and choosing to have Him fit your customized breastplate over your head, cinching it into place, protecting your heart as you choose to ask Him to continue to guide you in living a life of freedom?

Choose well. Chose wisely.

Shalom!

Merry Christmas!

Whatever Happens

Whatever happens. This reminds me of a movie [not one in particular] but one where the characters have been fighting the good fight. All looks lost and the encouraging character says, whatever happens…

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel

Philippians 1:27

Paul is encouraging the Philippians to stay strong amid the provoking, teasing and ill-treatment they were receiving and would continue to receive because of their proclamation of faith in Jesus and their commitment to share Him. Whatever happens.

Where I live and maybe where you live the ill-treatment we receive isn’t the possibility of stoning with large boulders or massive crowds surrounding us, taunting us with slurs and bodily harm [as Paul and the Philippians faced, however, this still happens in many parts of the world because faith in Jesus is against the law]

But, when you are provoked by the driver at the stop sign who doesn’t acknowledge you and simply drives through even though you arrived first. Or, you’re in that store or perhaps someone you thought you were building a friendly relationship with suddenly becomes curt and distant. How will you respond?

As believers in Christ we have the mind of Christ but do our thoughts, actions and how we live our life reflect this?

Are we allowing Holy Spirit to transform our mind to think like Him?

Are we putting on the full armor of God daily?

Specifically, are we putting on the helmet of salvation, which is the protection of our soul and also a picture of protecting our head where our mind and thoughts live?

Are we conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ?

Whatever happens?

Shalom!

The Weight Of It All

Solomon had twelve officials over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household…1Kings 4:7a.

Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of choice flour, and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl…1Kings 4:22,23.

Those officials supplied provisions for King Solomon and for all who came to King Solomon’s table, each one in his month; they let nothing be lacking. 1Kings 4:27.

Can you imagine the people power and resources that were needed for these provisions? A cor is approximately 6.24 bushels of dry weight. One bushel, depending on the commodity, can be between 20 and 6o pounds. Thirty cors of choice flour good easily have weighed 11,232 pounds on the high end.

Yet, these twelve officials let nothing be lacking. They even provided barley and straw for King Solomon’s horses and swift steeds [he had forty thousand stalls of horses and twelve thousand horsemen].

They gave all this to a human king.

I wonder, especially in this season of celebrating the birth of our heavenly King, who gave his life so we could live, what can you offer-what can I offer that nothing is lacking from His kingdom, for His glory?

What a Wonderful Life

He takes it all in. All the different colors…red, blue, purple, green and yellow, as I stand holding his tiny body close to mine and he stares at this new wonder called a Christmas tree, with all its lights and decorations. I speak softly in his ear and point to all the different colors by name. Colors that one day he will know on his own. And I think to myself…

I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. King Solomon

1 Kings 3:7c

King Solomon was an adult when he said these words in 1 Kings 3:7 but he knew he could not be a successful leader without God. He set aside his will and any agendas or idiosyncrasies that were a part of his life. He chose and allowed himself to become teachable like a child.

As we grow and mature in our faith our goal is to set aside spiritual milk and feast on the spiritual food of God’s word. Choosing and allowing Holy Spirit to drop into our hearts his truth. At the same time we ought to also remain like a child. Teachable.

Many times our actions and attitudes can take away the simplicity of our relationship with Jesus. We have the opportunity to choose Him everyday over all that our day may contain.

As I think about our precious grandson I pray that he will always be in wonder of who God is to him. That he will always have a teachable heart. I pray that for you and for me.

Because regardless of life’s challenges and struggles, a life in Jesus is

…a wonderful life.

For His Glory

Have you had a situation where your heart and mind perceived that Jesus didn’t show up at the right time or at all? Maybe you are walking through a season right now wondering where He is.

Next month will be 13 years since my then 17 year old nephew was killed in a senseless and tragic auto accident. Remarkably drugs and alcohol were not involved but speed and rain were and the driver of the car lost control. The driver, who was expecting to attend college on a basketball scholarship after graduation in a few months, had to be extricated from the car and lost both his legs. Miraculously my niece and her friend, who were thrown from the backseat of the car and suffered broken backs, survived.

Three separate occasions I asked God why. Three times He dropped into my heart, for My glory.

My brother’s marriage couldn’t withstand the strain of the loss of a child and ended in divorce shortly after the accident. Last year my brother went home to Jesus after years of chronic illness and a broken heart.

In my humanness I would say that I have yet to see God’s glory in this particular situation over the last 13 years but the truth is I have seen His glory. The year before my brother passed he was hospitalized with some very serious issues that caused us to think he wouldn’t live through the night. I reached out to many praying friends and the next day we found almost every issue had disappeared overnight. God’s glory. During this same hospital visit God sent me in to pray with my brother. He was ready and we said a simple prayer of salvation. God’s glory.

In our verse above Martha makes a simple statement to the Lord, if He had been there her brother wouldn’t have died. At the same time she knew that God would give Jesus whatever he asked. Jesus brought Lazarus back to life.

There is a poignant sentiment Martha coneys. On the surface the story is about the loss of her brother and how Jesus could have saved him were He there while he was ill. But a few layers down…deeper we see Martha’s complete trust in the sovereignty of God. She knew regardless of how the situation looked on the outside Jesus was in control and His love for her and her family would never waver.

Through the generations Martha seems to have gotten a bad rap. She was the sister more concerned with preparing a meal for 13 men rather than sitting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Mary did. But Martha knew something to her very core.

She knew Jesus was the awaited Messiah and she trusted Him.

Have you put your trust in Jesus? When you do I can’t nor I won’t promise everything will be perfect in your life but I can promise His love for you will never falter. And if you allow Him the space Holy Spirit will fill you with His peace and comfort in the midst of adversity.

Shalom.

Tuesday Thoughts

The love of God leads us to faith in Jesus even while we were still against Him. The love of Jesus sent Him to the cross where He hung for our sins. Cleansed from sin by His forgiveness we enjoy reconciliation and a renewed fellowship with God.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6