My Name is…

Back in Biblical times, names held significance. And the meaning of the name typically applied to the personality of that individual and who the parents would hope they’d become. When Elizabeth delivered John the Baptist, the entire family and neighbors came over on the 8th day for the circumcision and naming party. As tradition held, the community was going to name the first son after his father. Elizabeth responded that his name is John. Since during that time, a women’s opinion didn’t account for much, they went to Zacharias and he wrote down, “His name is John” as the child was already named by God. Upon confirming the name, Zacharias immediately was no longer mute. He could talk again because he was obedient to God by naming the child John which means, “God is Gracious.”

Today names don’t apply like they did in the past. Our parents name us. But then the community will slap a label on us. It’s not just perception of ourselves, but how the culture around us will try to define us. It is difficult to know our identity or who we want to be when, from birth, we have been influenced by everything around us or what we hear about us. The Social Media society can “gang up” on you – known as the “mob” mentality. They want to classify us, pressure us to what we should become.

In addition, we think a past or tradition should dictate our present and future. Well…this is who I am because I’ve always been this way. Once an unreliable deadbeat, always a deadbeat. Or you’re going to be a mason because your father and his father were Masons. In this naming instance, God broke the tradition of naming the firstborn son after the father. Christ breaks us from our past and tradition so we can move forward and grow.

Another naming method is based on circumstance. The crowd goes around Elizabeth’s words. They go to a higher source, Zacharias is the man in authority. Elizabeth really has no power, and the family all knew that. When you feel powerless by your circumstances, and you don’t have the resources or the power or the ability to change your situation, you identify based on circumstances. This is really who I am because I’m stuck.

God renames and redefines who we are. He gives us a new shape. Your circumstances may be difficult right now, but your future is bright in Jesus’ hands. Zacharias understood this and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He went from Rebuke to rejoicing with a song to praise God.

What does your name mean and does your personality match the meaning? Mine is pretty spot on. As a child, I have always stuck up for those that were picked on in school. I have always been one to champion the Underdog. And when it comes to the adrenaline the “fight or flight,” response, I will battle. I married Bill or William and oddly, his name is similar in meaning – “resolute Protector” – Interesting.

Study Luke 1:57-80 (ESV) / TFAB / Pastor Loren video

My acceptance of Christ

Pertaining to my last post: After Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel to advise her of her pending motherhood of the son of God, she was immediately obedient to God’s will. However, she still needed confirmation. Upon greeting Elizabeth and the holy spirit taking over Elizabeth and her loudly stating, “Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” – that was the confirmation Mary needed to know it was true.

I got to thinking about the time I needed confirmation and received it from the Lord. I was in 4th grade, and my babysitter would take me to her weekly church meetings, I remember it was the La Puente 4 Square Church. As a 4th grader, sitting in the “big” church (as we kids called the main sanctuary) was incredibly boring. However, they didn’t really have a youth group for my age. They allowed me to attend the Junior High group.

I truly loved the energy Pastor Mike had. And he had an assistant, Mickey, and she’d tease Mike all the time. They were such a great group and a blessing to me, a child that lived her formative years in chaos. I had to often rely upon myself at a very early age. So I could somewhat identify with Mary being only 12-14 years old and making the journey to Elizabeth by herself.

Every week, Pastor Mike would have us bow our heads and close our eyes, for the ending prayer, and they’d always ask if anyone wanted to accept Christ, to simply raise our hand. I know there were people that would look because I would peek around and see them. After one particular service, I really wanted to raise my hand but was unsure. If I raised my hand what would it mean, after the pastor acknowledged it, after service would I be forced to talk to them…because I wasn’t ready for much more than just accepting at that time.

I had this internal battle, including thinking, did God truly exist? The Pastor was just about to end prayer when I started to (halfway) raise my hand, right next to my heart, just enough for God to see, and then I was going to put it down real quick. However, it was like I had two Angels anxiously awaiting, and once my hand made an upward motion, they grabbed each side of my arm and PULLED my hand fully in the air. I seriously had some divine help, there was a force assisting me. I imagined them celebrating…don’t be shy girl, get your hand up high and receive some holy spirit!

Once Pastor Mike acknowledged my raised hand, another unexpected thing happened. It was like a FORCE of water, what I imagine Niagra Falls to be, except very WARM in temperature (almost hot) more like a lightning bolt of water that SHOT down the fingertips of my raised hand, through my arm, shoulder and continued to wash across my chest and down my entire body and exiting my toes. That is the best I can explain. It felt incredible! The BEST FEELING. And at that moment I KNEW God and the Holy Spirit were real. Not one confirmation, but two God sent to me to know the truth.

A few weeks later, I told Pastor Mike that story. He was fascinated and later asked others if they had experienced the same thing. Not everyone had. In fact, I don’t know if any of them had the same thing happen to them. At the time, I just really needed God to be real. Especially all the turmoil I had in my younger days and God knew that.

I can see why Mary broke into song, I sing incredibly off-key, have no ear for musicality. Not blessed with rhythm. So I’m more of the Cheerleader and will write about it. Thank you, God, for that incredible experience and I pray that memory never fades.

Do you have a confirmation story?

First Christmas Song

Who sang the very first Christmas song? It was MARY! An ordinary girl, about 14 years old, from a nowhere town, called Nazareth. Why was it written? Well, let’s recap:

There was an elderly couple, Zachrias and Elizabeth. They were barren and prayed for years for a child. The Angel Gabriel visited them to announce they will have a son, and his name will be John. He will be great, and will get the people ready for the arrival of someone greater. Elizabeth kept her pregnancy a secret and was 6 months along with John the Baptizer when the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, a relative of Elizabeth’s.

Mary was betrothed to Joseph. She found out she would give birth to a son, and will name him Jesus. And he will be son of God. Gabriel told Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy so that Mary could confirm what she was told. Though she was willing to do God’s bidding, she was fearful of the social and economic repercussions of being an unwed mother in a culture that won’t accept it. And of Joseph’s reaction. Therefore, Mary went with haste to Judah to see Elizabeth. NOT an easy journey. She walked nearly 100 miles.

By herself. At 14 years old. (I can still get lost with my GPS)

The moment she arrived and greeted Elizabeth, John jumped inside Elizabeth’s womb, and the holy spirit came upon Elizabeth and she exclaimed loudly, “Why should the mother of my Lord come to me?”

That was the confirmation Mary needed, and it gave her such joy, she spontaneously broke into song. I guess it was the first musical. She came worried and was leaving exalting God. She knew what the Angel told her was true. God was in charge and could be trusted. That realization gave her great comfort.

Pertaining to us today: You would think if we saw and had a conversation with an Angel, that would do it, but then again we might think it’s a hallucination and go to the crazy doctor. (Doc, I’m seeing things) When we feel a pull toward something, we often need confirmation from the community to ensure what we are feeling is God’s will. Other people may see something we don’t. It’s good to seek out fellowship and discuss the calling you might feel.

Study Luke 1:39-56 (ESV) / TFAB / Pastor Loren video