Friday, 29 October 2010
Live Up to His Name

My cousin and her husband had a beautiful baby boy earlier this month. I am always excited to hear what a baby has been named. One of the first things that I do is look up the meaning of the name. It took them a few days to select the name . . . he surprised mom and dad by coming a month early! I knew that he would have an interesting name and they did not disappoint.


Proverbs 22:1

 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.


Abram Frederick was the name that they chose, though I haven't had a chance to ask her how they chose it. I know that Frederick is her father's middle name. Abram is not a common name in the United States. According the web site, Name Statistics, there are around 6,000 men, or .005 percent of men, named Abram in the U.S. It ranks number 1,053 in name popularity. Abram means "high or exalted father." Frederick means "peaceful ruler."  I think it is a fantastic name! They are going to call him Abe, which is really cute. He'll probably get called "Honest Abe" by the jokesters, but that's okay. It could be worse. Also, he will probably be the only Abe in his class, which is a plus. There are so many kids in school with the same first name that they are identified by their first name and the first letter of their last name (ex: Austin B., Austin C., etc.), which gets very confusing. One year in my after school program I had five Austins!


Genesis 17:5

No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.


Hearing that the baby's name was Abram, I couldn't help but think of Abraham in the book of Genesis. Abram was his original name. God changed his name to Abraham, which means "father of many" when He established His covenant with him. He also changed his wife's name from Sarai to Sarah - both names mean princess. Abram was 100 years old and his wife was 90, so it seemed unbelievable to him that he could be a father to anyone, let alone many nations. But when God changed his name, he also changed the impossible to possible. Abraham and Sarah had Isaac, and Isaac had Jacob and Esau.


Jacob was another person who had his name changed by God. Jacob's name meant "deceiver," and it fit him well. However, in Genesis 32, after wrestling with a man all night, he refuses to end the match until the man (God) agrees to bless him. Verse 28: Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Israel means "wrestles or struggles with God."  Jacob was changed by the experience and so was his name. He became Israel, the father of the 12 tribes.


Peter is another person who receives a new name. His original name is Simon, and he is often referred to as Simon Peter. Simon means "he who hears." Peter means "the rock." In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Peter did not live up to his name right away. In fact, he hit rock bottom when he denied knowing Jesus. But eventually he did become the rock that Jesus knew he would be.


Saul was a powerful Pharisee, determined to rid the world of this new Christian movement. He was arresting and imprisoning those who claimed to be Christians. On his way to Damascus, he met Jesus and his life was forever changed. Saul, which means "asked or wished for", became Paul, meaning "humble." Paul, who had watched Stephen be stoned and who asked the High Priest for letters of authority to arrest Christians, became a servant of Christ and an apostle to the Gentiles.


In each of these cases, the name changes were symbolic of how God had changed their lives. It makes me wonder if God changed my name and the name of others who became new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  I like the name my parents gave me. My first name means "lily" and my middle name means "who is like the Lord." But if I have another name given by God, I would be excited to know what it is. Just add that to the list of questions that I know will be answered one day.


Revelation 20:15

If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


More important than what your name is or what it means is where it is written. Many people dream of seeing their name in lights. Tourists walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see the names of stars of screen and stage. Andy Warhol predicted that everyone would have 15 minutes of fame, and the onslaught of reality tv is making that more possible all the time. While fame or professional recognition can be nice, it doesn't count for anything beyond this life.  What we should be concerned about is whether or not our name is written in the Book of Life.


Revelation 20:12

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.


No one knows the day or the hour, but one thing that is certain is that one day we will all stand before the judgment seat. The Book will be opened and if our name is not there, we will be cast into the lake of fire. If our name is there, then we will receive our reward of eternal life. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our name is written in the Book. If we remain in Christ, then He remains in us, as well.


Revelation 3:5

He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.


It's fun to look up the meaning of your name. Keeping your good name, or reputation, in this world can be important to a successful life. Names are often the first thing we learn about another person and we make judgments about people based on their names. But nothing is more important than making sure that your name, whatever it is, is written in the Book of Life. If you haven't had that life changing experience, it isn't too late. There's still room in the book for your name. You just have to make room in your heart for His.






Posted on 10/29/2010 7:48 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 22 October 2010
It's Electric

Our Worship Team was invited to do the Praise & Worship at another church recently. It was their Pastor Appreciation Day and they were having a special mid-afternoon service followed by a dinner. Since singing for the Lord and eating are two of our most favorite things to do, we happily accepted.


That meant we had to stick around for the sermon. Believe it or not, that is also one of my favorite parts of church. I love to hear different people bring the Word. There are different styles and different ways to deliver it, but the Word itself never changes. What changes is our better understanding of it. I hate to hear when people say their services are boring or that the pastor drones on and on. I wonder if it is the way the pastor delivers the message or the way that they listen. Either way, if you are bored that means you are not being fed (church jargon for spiritually nourished) and you either need to check yourself or you need to check out and find another church.


Usually on Pastor Appreciation days, churches invite guest speakers. I was very excited to see who they had brought in for this day. The last time we had visited, I had truly enjoyed the gentleman's message. He was very engaging and used a lot of humor to get his points across. Does a message have to be entertaining? No, I am not there to be entertained; I am there to be changed. He was able to do both and it was effective. It was during their revival, and they had about dozen people who either were saved or rededicated themselves to the Lord.


So I am sitting there anticipating a great service. The pastor welcomes everyone and introduces the speaker. But it is not a tall, graying, well-seasoned circuit preacher that I had envisioned who comes forward. It is a petite, young woman with long flowing blonde hair. And she is a little nervous. I have nothing against female preachers. In fact, I enjoy hearing them. We have one in our church. They are few and far between. So while I was surprised that our speaker was a woman, I certainly was not disappointed.


She started out telling us a little bit about herself and her ministry. The nerves were still showing themselves through her shaky voice and hands. Then she began to share the message that God had given her to preach that day. As she started into her message, you could see a change come over her. Suddenly she was no longer that nervous, petite young woman, but an on-fire, Holy rolling, spirit-filled, give a shout out to the Lord, anointed woman of God. It was as if someone had flipped a switch and transformed her.


Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;


She had been transformed before our eyes through the power and presence of God - His anointing. Talking about the anointing can be a little challenging, because it is hard to describe with words. The definition of anoint is "to rub or sprinkle on; apply an unguent, ointment, or oily liquid to." Another is "to consecrate or make sacred in a ceremony that includes the token applying of oil." Most people are familiar with the anointing of people or objects. In the Bible, prophets and kings were anointed for service. This means that they were set apart by God and given a special job to do. The priests anointed the altar and other items in the tabernacle as instructed by God. These items were set apart for use in God's house and no other.


To anoint something is a physical act in which you apply oil to symbolize that something or someone is consecrated and dedicated to the Lord. For example, I have anointed my home. To have the anointing of God is similar but different.  When man anoints you, he uses oil. When God anoints you, it is with His power, His fire. Some have described the anointing as being able to do through the power of God something you normally wouldn't be able to do.


2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.


When you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you are setting yourself apart for His service. You receive the Holy Spirit. He gives you gifts and callings (that are without repentance, which means they are yours forever).  And you receive the anointing, or the power, to use those gifts. That means when you use those gifts to the glory of God, He is going to be there to help you. If God has called you to preach, then He has anointed you to preach and He will be there to help you. If He has called you to teach, sing, write, minister, heal, help - whatever your calling - He will be there.


When you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and you are operating in the Spirit of God and not out of your own fleshy ambition and desires, the anointing will be there. You will feel it and you will know it. The way some people have described the anointing is that it's electric. Others have said it feels like a fluttery feeling in their stomach. I feel it as a warmth, flowing from head to toe. It can even feel like an out-of-body experience. There are times after I have taught that I have sat down and thought, "Did I just do that?" It's not us, but God working through us.


1 John 2:27

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him.


Christ means "the anointed one". As Christians, we are "the anointed ones." Unfortunately, I think a lot of Christian people have put a lid on their anointing. They may be ignorant about it . . . ignorant means unlearned, not dumb. They may be afraid of it. They be sitting in a service and start to feel that presence of God upon them, that little tingle in their spirit, and they get scared and quench it. Other people may be trying to do a work in their church and wonder why they aren't getting anywhere. They need to ask themselves if they are operating in their calling. If you want to be a preacher and God has not called you to preach, then the anointing is not going to be there.


After I got saved, I told God that spiritually I wanted it to be the real thing and that I wanted all He had for me. I didn't want it be a "going through the motions" experience. It's kind of like when you get married. You want it to be the love of your life and you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. You wouldn't want to marry just anyone and have a loveless life together. When you are in a true relationship with God and you are doing the things He has called you to do, then His power and anointing are with you. There is nothing that can compare with that feeling or that experience. There is no drug better than that. There is no "high" better than that.  You can't always go on feeling . . . many times you don't feel anything at all and you have to walk on faith. But when you do feel the anointing, you feel the presence of God. It doesn't get any better than that.


Posted on 10/22/2010 8:43 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 15 October 2010
He Can See Himself

She jingled as she walked, so I heard her coming around the corner. "Can you help me put this ear on?" she asked. With the pointy ear in place, her costume was complete.


"I thought you said it was 'come as a movie character' day. Who are you supposed to be?" I asked. "Elf!" she replied. I had forgotten about the Will Ferrell movie. She had found a way to wear the bright red and green Christmas elf costume one more time. It was Homecoming week, or Spirit Week, at her school. Each day had a different theme. So my daughter was dressed in a long sleeve elf costume made of felt-like material on a hot October day. She would definitely stand out.


"Are your friends dressing up, too? What if we get to school and no one else is dressed up? Do you want to take a pair of clothes to change into?" I asked, always the concerned mom with a back up plan.


"They will be dressed up, Mom," she assured me. "But so what if they aren't? I don't care."


The smile on my face stayed with me for the rest of the day. That's my girl! When she decides to do something, she does it whole heartedly. She is in it for the long haul and there is no talking her out of it. She is the most persistent person I know. If she had been the only person in the school dressed up that day it would not have bothered her a bit. She has no need for back up plans, because she is going to stick to the one she has.


Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.


It is easy to do the things we love to do. We can work with all our heart and sweat and labor for the things and people we love and enjoy. This scripture from Colossians says "whatever you do." Everything that we do -- whether it is something we are doing because we like it or we are doing it because we just have to - we should be doing it with all our heart. That means we have to give it our best, not just the minimum effort to get by.


Everyone has days that they hate their jobs. I really like my job, but occasionally there are days that I want to run in the back and hide. But some people hate their job every day. They complain about it all the time when you are talking to them. They complain about it on Facebook (which is dangerous if the boss can read it). I imagine they go home and complain about it to their spouse. If they took all the energy that it takes to complain and put it into their work, perhaps their perspective would change. You don't like your boss? Fine. Think of God as your boss. Now how does that change your work ethic?


1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


When we are serving God, we give it 100 percent and then some (or at lease we should). We know how important it is and we know He is watching. We want to hear the words, "well done, good and faithful servant."  He wants that same effort in all our work. "Whatever you do."


If you have a job, especially in today's economy, you are blessed. God has given you that job. If it is a job you don't like, you might want to ask yourself why you are there. You've probably been too caught up in feeling sorry for yourself to ask that question. Maybe God put you there to be a witness to others in the company. What does your grumbling and complaining about the job do to your testimony? Why would anyone want to listen to what you have to say about the Lord? They see you as The Complainer. I know I always try to avoid that person in the workplace.


Or maybe God put you there to teach you something. Who else are you working with? What can you learn from them? What kinds of skills and experience are you getting? When I worked for a non-profit organization, I had to go out to different companies and speak about how we helped people and persuade their employees to support us both financially and with their time. I had been hired to do another job in the organization, but we were small and everyone had to pitch in when it came to fundraising. I didn't like having to go out and speak at first, but I knew how important it was to our organization. The more I did it, the more I liked it and it turned out it helped me do my primary job even better. Now, in serving God, I am a teacher. I have no problem getting up in front of people and speaking and presenting.


1 Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


Everyone wants to move up and move on. If you want to be promoted or if you want something better, you'll have to go through some stuff first. You want God to use you in a certain way? Maybe you aren't ready. Maybe He needs you to mature a little first. Or perhaps you need to learn how to be the best at what you are currently doing and be happy doing it before you can move on to something else. God isn't punishing you or trying to put you someplace to make you miserable. He is working on you. He is refining you. The silversmith puts the raw material into the fire to burn out the impurities until he has the perfect product. He knows that his work is complete when he removes it from the fire and he can see himself in it.

Posted on 10/15/2010 5:18 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 8 October 2010
Bridge Day

"Hello? Did you forget the bridge is out? Now you have to turn around and go back the way you came or navigate the detour in an area you're not familiar with. Way to go! Now you are going to be late."


Too bad they can't get all that on the sign, because that's what I was actually seeing when I saw the words "Detour Ahead."  I knew about the detour, but I had let myself get distracted and autopilot had kicked in.


In early August, construction crews tore out a bridge at Davis Creek. It's not a very big bridge. I'm not sure that it is two car lengths across. Its absence has reminded me of that saying, "you don't know what you've got until it's gone." Two months later, we are still left with this gaping hole and no signs of a new bridge being installed. The newspaper recently ran an article about the lack of action on the new bridge and how it is adversely affecting local businesses. This little hole is causing big problems.


Some people may not have even realized it was a bridge before it was removed. Our rural roads have all kinds of these little bridges that seamlessly go along with the roadway. On our road there are two little one-lane bridges. If either of them had to be taken out, it would present a major problem. We would be up a creek . . . literally. Sure, there is a back way off our hill. It is a narrow gravel road that is nearly impossible to travel in the winter. And did I mention that you have to drive through the creek before you come back on the main road? I am grateful for those one-lane bridges. If you kept track, you might be surprised by how many times you cross a bridge in the course of a day around here.


Bridges are important structures. They help us get over something. They connect us with something or someplace. They transition us from one place to another. One day when someone was whining about something that had happened (I'm sure it wasn't me, lol), my husband looked up and said, "Oh just build a bridge and get over it already!" What great advice.  Sometimes we get hung up on little things that happen or something that was said and we can't move on. For example, if someone has hurt your feelings you could mope around and cry and tell everyone what a terrible person they are. You could dwell on it for days and let it hold you back from enjoying yourself or getting things accomplished. Or you could forgive them and get over it and get on with your life. Why would you sink into the pit when you could sail across it?


John 14:6

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


There are a lot of bridges we can build through love, forgiveness, caring, truth, fidelity, trustworthiness, fairness, honest communication, etc. Our relationships with each other can be tricky. It takes work and it takes commitment. We have to be willing to build bridges, not tear them down. However, there is one pit we all have to cross over and we can't do it by our own means.


When I was checking out that hole where the Davis Creek bridge used to be, I thought about how ugly and awful it looked. As ugly as it was, I thought, it didn't even touch how ugly and awful the pit of Hell must look. Right now I am here on this earth, but one day my journey will end and I will cross over into Heaven. If I am going to cross over the pit of Hell, I am going to need a safe, secure, strong bridge. The bridge's name is Jesus.


Some people might look at a gaping hole between them and Heaven and think, "I'm fast and strong. I can just get a good run at it and I'll be able to jump across." These are the people who think they can make it in by their own strength and abilities. Others will look at the chasm between them and God and say, "I am a good person. I am nice to people and I help others whenever I can." These are the people who think they can get to Heaven through their works. (Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.) Still others will stand around bewildered, wondering why no one ever told them there would be a bridge to cross. But Jesus said that we know the way and that He was the way.


Matthew 7:13-14

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


Most people do believe that there is life after death. Most of them even acknowledge that God exists. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those people have not taken the time to get to know Him. They are on that broad road and they need to turn around (repent) before they go through the wrong gate and end up in the pit of Hell. Don't go down that road! The bridge is out!


The only way to the Father is through the Son. You have to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. You can't do it in your own strength. You can't do it in your own good deeds. You will be saved when you repent and you acknowledge Jesus. It is by the grace of God and His grace is sufficient.


"The Message" quotes Matthew 7:13-14 this way: "Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention."


If I had ignored the warning signs and the orange cones on the road that day, I would have driven my car into the hole where the bridge used to be. My car would have been totaled and I might have been killed. That would have been pretty stupid, right? All I had to do was turn around and get back on the right road and I reached my destination safely. So, why would a person, who has seen and the heard the warnings, continue on a road to Hell? Their life will be totaled and it will be lost.  That would be pretty stupid, right? It's never too late to stop and turn around. Some critics of God complain about that small gate and narrow road being too small and narrow. What they don't realize is that it is always open to anyone and everyone who chooses it.


I am thankful that I have a Savior to bridge the gap for me - who has made the way for me to spend eternity with Him and with the Father. I am not going across because I am strong and I am good person and I am perfect, because I am not.  I am going across because I can admit that I am a sinner and I need the blood of Jesus Christ to wash away my sin.


When I cross that bridge, I am afraid that if I look down I will see the faces of friends and loved ones who chose the wrong road. I want to see all my family and friends in Heaven for eternity.  To those of you who have accepted Christ, I ask that you please keep praying for the salvation of others. If you don't know Jesus and don't understand God's plan of salvation, I hope that you will ask Him to reveal Himself to you. I hope that you will get to know Him and that you will invite Him to be your Savior. I hope that when your "bridge day" comes, you will be on the right road and that you will "get over it" and spend your everlasting life with Him.






Posted on 10/08/2010 5:16 AM by Susan Nelson
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