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Archive for July, 2010

Don’t call names!”

How many times as a child did you hear that from a parent?

How about this one:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

Or maybe you heard, “stop being such a _______!” (Fill in the blank yourself – idiot, goofball, s.o.b., dumbbell, etc.)

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The fact is, bad names do hurt us. Especially when someone we love uses them on us.  In John Eldredge’s books, Captivating and Wild At Heart, he shows us how the names we are called by our father create the filters we view ourselves through for the rest of our lives, unless and until Father God heals them.

Jesus understood the power of this, and addressed it in Matt. 5:22, when He said that whoever calls his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire.

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But where did all this name-calling come from? Why do we do it? Here’s what I think:

In Genesis 2,  God told Adam to name the animals. That’s an amazing job, when you think about it! But Adam could handle it, because he was made in the image of the God who names all the stars. (Ps. 147:4)

So we were created with the ability to sort and classify and label things. And that’s a good ability to have . . . when it comes to the physical realm around us. Where would we be without the ability to classify plants or animals or minerals; to sort and identify steps in the process of sedimentation or fermentation; or to label the parts of a machine, so that replacement parts can be quickly obtained?

But, since mankind has fallen out of communion with God, our natural abilities often become problems. This ability to name is an excellent example of a good thing gone bad. While it has made scientific and technological progress possible, when it comes to naming people, it has frequently been twisted into something negative. It is easier to call someone a bad name than a loving one. It is easier to label someone, than to understand their similarities to you, and the reasons for their differences. It is easier, in fact, to label whole groups or races of peoples, rather than accept them in the ‘brotherhood of man’.

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One of the reasons Jesus chewed out the Pharisees was their insistence on labeling people. They had all kinds of labels – sinners, publicans, winebibbers (doncha love that King James language?) — and Jesus hated them all! Not because they were labels, but because the labels implied value, or lack thereof.

Every name or label we stick on people has a value attached: sweetheart, honey, dear, darling, bitch, s.o.b., bastard, ignoramus, idiot, and a host of others that I refuse to either say or write.  (I heard once that the more loved a person is, the more nicknames they have. The opposite is probably also true. Because names are our way of assigning value.)

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Is this what Father God intended when He gave the naming ability to Adam? No. So why do we do it? Because we no longer get our value from God, so we have to get it somewhere else.

Before Adam and Eve sinned, they knew who they were, knew their value to God, knew His delight in them. But fallen man is no longer connected to Him, so no longer knows his value to God. So we try to get our value from others. From parents first, then from siblings and teachers and friends and lovers and children and bosses and . . . the list is endless. And it never really works, so we go looking again, for someone to name us with a name that will give us eternal, unending value. We may look to the same people, or to different ones, but we never stop looking.

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One of the many facets of the finished work of Christ, is this one – God Himself tells us who we are. He names us.

He calls us beloved (Eph. 1:6), friends (John 15:15), sons (I John 3:2), fellow heirs (Eph. 3:6), His body (I Cor. 12:27), His workmanship (Eph. 2:10), a new creation (II Cor. 5:17), His own special people (I Pet. 2:9) and more. (That thing earlier about nicknames? He has a lot of names for you. You sure must be loved!)

As you travel on your journey farther into His kingdom, He applies more labels/names to you. He has called you all of them from before the foundation of the world, but only tells you what they are when you are ready to hear them. For instance, if you had an abusive father, it might take significant healing for you to be able to think of God as your Father, and you as his son or daughter. So He’ll wait to apply that name until you’re ready to hear it.

As you allow Him to name you, your sense of worth will increase, and you will not feel the need to decrease someone else’s worth in order to make yours seem more. So let Him name you, beloved.

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We all have the ability to name. It’s in us because He put it there. But let’s use it for good, not evil. Let’s assign His values to people. God might have said that mankind is wicked, or evil, or sinful, but He never said we are worthless!!!

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May you learn your true value in Father God’s eyes, not in another’s. And may that set you free to be able to give value to those around you by the names you call them.

. . . And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Rev. 2:17b

FYI – While ‘grace’ and ‘faith’ take up less than one page each in Strong’s, ‘name’ takes up almost 4 pages. Must be pretty important, huh?

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I know this flies in the face of what I was taught in church, but I have firmly come to believe that you are born with at least some of your ‘spiritual’ gifts.

If we are ‘predestined’, ‘foreordained’, ‘chosen before the foundations of the world’, doesn’t it make sense that at least some of the gifts you’ll need would be put in you from birth, so you can learn how to use them?

For instance, if you were created to be an evangelist or preacher, you probably were born with the gift of saying things in a way that makes them clear and/or compelling, to your hearers. If you are destined to be an artist, chances are you decorated everything with mud or crayons or whatever from the time you could crawl. (All children do this, of course, as we were created in the image of a creative God, but some never grow out of it.)

It’s kind of a ‘chicken or the egg’ thing – which came first, your personality with all its giftings, or your call in God? They are so inextricably entwined, that it’s hard to see which came first, brought the other into being, influenced and affected which.

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So, having considered the possibility of your personality, gifts, inclinations even, being created for/around your calling, let’s think about what our enemy does with this. Does he allow our gifts to grow and bear fruit in our lives, by helping others? Or does he sabotage us and our gifts any way he can?

Of course, he sabotages us! He tells us that we don’t really have that gift; or that it’s selfish or sinful; or that we don’t have the strength to do it; or are the wrong gender/race/nationality to do it. Any lie that works!

If he can’t stop us from using our gifts, he’ll put someone in our lives to use the gift on, which drains us so much we can’t help the ones Father God really meant us to help.

To give a rather broad example: compassion and nurturing are embedded in female DNA. But how many women do you personally (maybe too personally) know, whose compassion and nurturing have been used against them? They are or have been in a relationship that is abusive – mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, or all of the above. When asked about leaving, they say things like “he’s a really good person! If he could just stop drinking . . . ” or “nobody understands him/what he’s been through” or how about this ugly thing – “I feel God has called me to stay, to be His witness to him” ugh!!!! (I think that may be the ugliest lie of all, especially when there are children involved. Staying to ‘witness’ to an abuser is ‘witnessing’ to those children that God wants them to be abused, mistreated, not loved or protected!) Their natural gift is being drained, so it can’t be used in the way Father God intended!

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What about the person (male or female) who was born to write, or teach, or paint, but was told they had no talent, or that their gift was not needed or appreciated in the church? Or just never had their gift acknowledged as special, so they thought it was no big deal, was ‘normal’? (I know for years, I thought everyone could write as well as I could. It took a lot of work by Father God to convince me that this is a gift from Him.)

Or the person who has the ability to see the underlying emotions and reasons for others’ behaviors, but is told that that is not a godly trait? It’s ‘new agey’ or psychic or just plain evil. (Really? seems to me Jesus did that all the time.)

Bottom line? Satan will use your gifts against you any way, any time, he can. And the most insidious thing he does is to persuade you that you hate the thing you were born to be or do! How many people have never achieved their full potential because somewhere back in their childhood, they became convinced that being wealthy or creative, or certain cultures or continents, or this or that career path, was not acceptable – to their parents/God/society/themselves?

Stop and think about something you’ve hated as long as you can remember. Not injustice or bigotry or greed or murder or anything like that. Think of something that in itself is not wrong, but you’ve somehow decided is wrong, for you at least.

Find something? Several somethings? Huh. If you take those things to Father God, chances are He’ll show you some lies in there, and you might even find that you’ve been hating something that He actually intended you to be or do.

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Our enemy hates our Father, and he knows one of the best ways to hurt Him is to destroy or twist or give us a disgust of the gifts Father put in us to bless the world with.

So take the time to look at your gifts – what you loved to do as a child, what you’ve always been good at, but also what you’ve felt was wrong to want or do. Allow Father God to show you His truth. And let Him set you free to become who He created you to be! It’ll change your life, and then the world!

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May you be blessed with true sight and insight regarding the gifts Father God has placed in you to help the world, and the wisdom and freedom to use those gifts for His Kingdom the way He wants you to.

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Sounds so spiritual, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s been so ‘spiritual’ for so long, that it didn’t seem very real to me. (Father’s love is very real to me, though.)

But lately, I’ve been contemplating the love that Jesus has for me, and I’m overwhelmed by it!

I have been seeing His love not just in the spiritual sense, but also the human one. After all, Jesus Christ was 100% man and 100% God.  Bringing it down to the human level makes it more real.

When I think of His very human reaction to what He was facing on the cross (and before it, too), it blows me away!

He loved me so much He was willing to suffer like that for the joy of having me as a friend, brother, part of His body and His bride!

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And He loved You that much, too.

Can you feel the intense, even fierce, love He has for you?

He took a beating that often killed men, to give you healing!

He accepted shame when they stripped Him naked and hung Him on the cross for all to see. And He did it because He loves you too much to let you be imprisoned by shame.

He paid the penalty for every sin you will ever commit in your entire life, taking all the guilt and condemnation, so you can be free!

He fought satan himself for you!

This very human God, this God inside a man, loves you so much He even accepted being separated from His Father as He became your sin! Imagine being separated from the other parts of yourself like that – God has been three-in-one from before eternity existed – yet Jesus Christ was cut off from that relationship because He loved you so much!

When I contemplate this fierce lover, I am so in awe that I can only weep, and fall at His feet to offer Him my puny love in return.

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May you be blessed with fresh revelation of the love of our Father, the love of our Savior, the love of our Bridegroom, and any facet you need a revelation of His love  in.

We love Him because He first loved us.  I John 4:19

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is not the question, actually.

Romans 1:17 says, “the just shall live by faith.”  But from my observation of life, the unjust live by faith, too.

I think that is just what humans do — we believe.

We believe what others tell us. We believe what we have experienced. We believe what we read and see and play – movies, TV, sports, computers.

We believe things about ourselves, about the way life works, about the basic character of humans, about love and death and taxes.

As children, we are taught or develop a set of rules or guidelines, and we then live our lives based on our belief in them. You see this every day, everywhere you look. How we relate to one another; how we react to life or work or traffic signals; how we behave in certain situations – all these are based on our beliefs.

When our beliefs are challenged, though, look out!  Look at how passionately believers in football or human rights or saving whales will fight for what they believe. And how many of us still feel betrayed about Santa Claus?

We all live (and die) by (and for) our beliefs.

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So, if we all have faith, if we all believe, what is the question?

The question is — what do we believe?

For so long, the church has made it sound like Christians have a corner on the faith market. In doing this, though, I wonder if we’ve actually pushed people away from God? When you tell someone that they don’t have something that they know on some deep level they do have, they will reject you and what you are trying to say. Try telling someone that they don’t have the capacity to love, and see what happens! Tell them they don’t have faith, and you’ll probably get the same reaction.

But we do tell people they have no faith, whenever we act and talk as though faith is, in itself, the thing we must have to be saved.

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Throughout the Bible, though, it is clear that what counts is not if you believe, but what (or Who) you believe.

The best explanation of this I’ve ever found is this, from”The Christian’s Secret For A Happy Life”, by Hannah Whitall Smith:

“Your idea of faith, I suppose, has been something like this. You have looked upon it as in some way a sort of thing, either a religious exercise of soul, or an inward gracious disposition of heart; something tangible, in fact, which, when you have got, you can look at and rejoice over, and use as a passport to God’s favor, or a coin with which to purchase His gifts. And you have been praying for faith, expecting all the while to get something like this, and never having received any such thing, you are insisting upon it that you have no faith.

Now faith, in fact, is not in the least this sort of thing. It is nothing at all tangible. It is simply believing God, and, like sight, it is nothing apart from its object. You might as well shut your eyes and look inside to see whether you have sight, as to look inside to discover whether you have faith. You see something, and thus know that you have sight; you believe something, and thus know that you have faith. For, as sight is only seeing, so faith is only believing. And as the only necessary thing about seeing is, that you see the thing as it is, so the only necessary thing about believing is, that you believe the thing as it is.

The virtue does not lie in your believing, but in the thing you believe. If you believe the truth you are saved; if you believe a lie you are lost. The believing in both cases is the same; the things believed in are exactly opposite, and it is this which makes the mighty difference. Your salvation comes, not because your faith saves you, but because it links you on to the Saviour who saves; and your believing is really nothing but the link.”

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So maybe, instead of questioning whether others have faith, we should ask what they have faith in.

Instead of trying to use our faith as a lever to move God in the direction we want, maybe we should use it to hold on to Him, and go where He goes.

“A great many Christians are slaves to the habit of doubting.”

Mrs. Whitall Smith said that, too, in her book.  Do we doubt because we are putting our trust in our faith, rather than in Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven?

Maybe, if we had faith in God instead of in our faith, we could be healed, conquer sin and death, reach others’ hearts with His truth, change the world!

Just maybe.

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May you be blessed with true faith in Him who saves and heals, guides and protects, loves and intercedes for each of us.

May our Father God teach you how to believe in Him!   And may you see fruit of this new faith across all the facets of your life.

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Life is a journey.

Some parts lie in pleasant valleys,

Some in fearful caves.


Others lead us to glorious heights,

Through dangerous swamps,

Or to the depths of the sea.


Each place we pass is full of beauty,

Of hardship, of growth.

Each is an opportunity to learn.


But the hardest part of each one

Is not what we encounter there.

It’s not our failures, trials, or tears.


The hardest part of all the journey is leaving.

In order to continue,

We must leave one place for the next.


Whether it was a place of triumph or defeat,

Of joy or despair,

Still, the time comes to leave.


And suddenly, we find this place is dear,

It’s familiar, so comfortable.

And we are reluctant to go.


But in leaving this,

I start toward that.

Each departure prepares for an arrival.


All of life is a journey,

Always coming from,

Going to.


Each stop along the way

Has things to teach,

Joys or sorrows to share.


No one escapes the journey,

The hard and the easy,

The high and the low.


No one stops traveling.

The real question is –

Where are you going?


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Okay, that’s not entirely true. We actually can stop our journey. We can love the place we’re in so much that we refuse to leave it. We can decide that the path to the next place looks too scary, too dangerous, too hard, and refuse to go on. We can refuse to learn, to grow, to become who Father God created us to be.

We have that choice. Always.

But our Father loves us, and wants the best for us, so He never stops trying to lead us on to the next leg of the journey. Holy Spirit continues whispering in our ears, encouraging us to pick up our knapsack, and hit the road again. And sometimes, in order to set us free of bondages we often don’t even see, He will cause the place we decided to stop in to become so uncomfortable that the dangers we fear ahead become less hurtful than where we are now.

Thank God for that! Which of us could stand to watch our child or other loved one become tangled in a net and hauled off to be eaten by cannibals? Even if they kept saying, “no, leave me alone! I like the food” – would you? Or would you do everything you could to cut them free, help them escape? Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we love our children, and desires our freedom more than we can imagine. (Something to think about if you’ve taken up residence somewhere, but it’s now getting uncomfortable to stay.)

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The journey’s destination is determined by whether or not you are His child. Once you have accepted His salvation, are adopted in, nothing you do or don’t do will change your ‘final destination’ of eternal life. The only thing you will change is how far you get on the journey into knowing Him. In John 17:3, Jesus says that eternal life is knowing Father God and Jesus Christ. And following Him from place to place along the journey is how we learn to know Him more and better. It would be sad to get to heaven and only know Him well enough to recognize Him on the street.

So don’t be afraid of the road ahead. It might look dark and dreary, but somewhere at the end, He is waiting to welcome you with open arms of love. And He is walking by your side, showing you His heart and mind and self. And He is in you, drawing you to Himself, leading and guiding and teaching you.

Bon Voyage!

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As you continue your journey through this life, may Father God lead you in all ways. And may your trust in Him grow with each step you take, knowing that He is leading you to Himself, and life and peace and grace and goodness, not to destruction and death.


“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”

Oswald Chambers


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jer. 29:11

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