Monday, February 27, 2012

Keeping Your Name

The other day I was reading the book of Ruth. I love that story, how it tells of Boaz as the kinsmen-redeemer, a symbol of Christ that is found back in his family tree. But today something stuck out at me I hadn't really noticed before.

Throughout the Bible there are many people who God changes their names to reflect who they are in Him. Abram (prince) becomes Abraham (father of many nations), Simeon (He has heard) becomes Peter (rock/foundation), Saul (a Jewish name) becomes Paul (a Roman name with no Jewish background signifying Paul's task to bring Christ to people outside of Judaism). In the book of Ruth, her mother-in-law Naomi (pleasant) changes her name to Mara (bitter). Unlike all the names mentioned before, God does not change Naomi's name. Naomi changes it herself to reflect the situation she's in.

And here's what I found interesting. In the Bible stories, once God changes a name the Scriptures reflect that. From that point on the person is known by their new name. When Saul became Paul, he is not called Saul again. But in the case of Naomi, even though she changes her name, for the rest of the book of Ruth (and when referenced later), she is still called Naomi. She is still referred to as pleasant.

It made me start thinking about how often we do that. Instead of looking at who God made us to be, we start changing who we think we are based on what is happening to us at the moment. I made a mistake at work, so I'm stupid. We change our name based on how we feel here and now. But God, He doesn't. He still thinks of us as He always has, as the child He made us and is making us to be.

Instead of taking on new names, let's instead look at who we are in Christ and focus on that, make that who we define ourselves as.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Returning Again And Again

I've been reading book of Judges the past few days. It's one of those books that tears at me, in some ways it's fun and adventurous and war stories. In others it's just so full of vile and disgusting acts done by people who claim to be following God.

Almost every story starts the same. The people of Israel again did evil in the eyes of the Lord and He lets their enemies gain power over them. But in Judges 10 there's this little story. The people again abandon God, again their enemies attack and again they turn back to God. This time God says no. "Has there ever been a time when you cried out to Me that I haven’t rescued you? Yet you continue to abandon Me and to worship other gods. So go away; I won’t save you anymore. Go and cry to the new gods you have chosen! Let them save you in your hour of distress!” (Judges 10:12b-14, LB).

Thankfully, the people wake up a little and destroy all the other Gods and idols and vow to return to God, so He takes them back. God does amazing things and saves His people. And over the next few years there are good judges whom we know very little about.

About 30 years later, Israel is worshipping idols again. And again, God still takes them back when they cry out to Him.

As we head into Lent, instead of thinking about what we give up for God, what about things we can do for God, like instead of only focusing on Him or calling on Him when things are bad, we make a conscious effort to serve and worship Him, be a little pro-active in our lives of faith? Just a thought...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

usually I rant about all sorts of meaningless things here, but in everything I read in the Bible the people you are supposed to be most resonsible to are your family, so today I just want to wish a happy valentine's day to the love of my life and by far the most patient woman ever for being with me. Love you Lorie!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Talk It Out First

Many of you know I like stories, the other day I was reading one from Joshua 22. The Israelites had just finished conquering all the land God had promised them and 2 1/2 tribes were going home back to their land on the other side of the Jordan River. Before they left Joshua reminded them to be true to their God. And off they went.

Immediately after crossing the river the men made an altar. I mean seconds later. On the river in plain view. How could they be so insolent? They had just promised to be faithful to God and His altar was already established! So a few Levites (those responsible for worship) and a few other men went to convince those who had built the altar they were wrong. People were ready for war (and they had just gotten peace days before). But before fighting and dishing out God's wrath, the Levites did something. They asked questions. "Why did you do this?" "How could you disgrace God so?"

The people who had built the altar responded. It was never meant for worship. It was a symbol. A river separated the people and what if their children grew up wondering why they were separated from God and His place of worship? So they built a replica of an altar to remind the people forever they are God's people and will worship Him, no matter how high the river is between them.

A wonderful answer, a great reason to worship, and it could have all led to bloodshed and civil war over a slight misunderstanding. Luckily those in charge but their thinking aside for a moment and asked questions first. The next time we see something we view as wrong, will we do the same?


Monday, February 06, 2012


I was reading the other day about the Cities of Refuge. It's quite the concept, God told Moses to set up cities in the land promised to Israel that were to be called "Cities of Refuge". The basic idea is if you do something by accident, say you're chopping wood and the head of your axe flies off and kills someone, you can run to one of these cities and be safe from the person's family who is trying to get revenge. The leaders of the city would listen to both sides and decide if you can stay and be safe or if they'll kick you out and let the other people decide your fate.

In thinking about the church my mind wandered to the fact we used to do this. The term "Sanctuary" at one time meant a place of safety. If you were in trouble and needed help, you could run into the church and declare Sanctuary, the church would protect you until your side of the story had been heard and the priest or church leader would decide your fate.

The question is, is the Church still a "Sanctuary"? When people need help do they feel they can run to disciples of Christ and be saved? Is being among Christ followers a safe place?

I hope so. If not, we need to fix that...