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Claim the Name

29 May

I ran across some unusual names online:

  • Howdy Ledbetter ClaimTheName_Christian
  • Rose Bush
  • Flex Plexico
  • Azalia Snail
  • Pearl Button
  • Yourhighness Morgan
  • Stan Still
  • Justin Case
  • Barb Dwyer
  • and Anna Sasin

I wondered, how do people cope with their names when those names make people laugh? I mean, can you imagine:

“What’s your name?”

“Howdy.”

“Hi. But what’s your name?”

“Howdy!”

See what I mean?

These days, there’s a name that people laugh about all the time.

It’s the name: “Christian.”

In Acts we read that Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch and they taught the disciples there; and we read these disciples, “… were called Christians first at Antioch “ (Acts 11:26, NIV). So “Christian” was a descriptive name for followers of “Christ,” the Anointed One.

And the name stuck.

Christian doctrine developed from the teachings of Jesus and the inspired writings of the Apostles—and as the Gospel of Christ was preached after His resurrection, many embraced the Savior.

The second mention of the name “Christian” was in Acts 26. Herod Agrippa II told Paul, “Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me!” (Acts 26:28, The Message).

The new believers scattered under great persecution. It was dangerous to name the name of Christ or be identified as one of His followers.

Members of the early church faced abuse and even martyrdom — much like Christians in many countries today — but still, they claimed that wonderful name!

The apostles encouraged the believers to embrace their new name with courage and joy. They  were exhorted, “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16, NIV).

This is a message we need in our churches today.

Believers who claim the name of Jesus are  generally accepted in secular society until they stand up for the uncompromising truth of scripture.

We cringe when we see Christians being martyred in hideous ways around the world, but there’s another kind of persecution going on. Almost weekly now in the United States and much of the Western world, we read reports of Christians facing harsh criticism and public persecution for their stand of faith.

Just today (5-17-15), I read about an Air Force general who spoke of God in a talk, and his critics are pressing for a court martial! A demand letter was sent claiming the general’s God-honoring words were “brazenly illicit and wholly unconstitutional, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing.”

The general, who was wearing his uniform at the time, simply gave a speech for a private Christian organization. Then he asked those in attendance to pray for Defense Department leaders and troops preparing to be deployed.

There was a time in America when the General’s words would be normal and accepted, but not today. There are forces at work that seek to silence vocal, Bible-believing Christians. Enemies of the cross would have believers cower … become more “tolerant” … and never claim that Jesus is “The way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).*

The truth is, the disciple is not above his master (Matthew 10:24-25). Hebrews 13:13-14 reminds us that we may, like Jesus, have to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” It may take great courage to claim His name in our increasingly secularized country.

Jesus said being His disciple would be costly, but that we would be blessed people for His sake (Luke 6:22; 9:23; Matthew 5:11).

I can just imagine the apostles as they left the Sanhedrin, “rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41, NIV).

Can you imagine yourself suffering disgrace, persecution and even abuse “for the Name”?

It may be in our future, fellow Christians. We need to prepare our hearts.

And be encouraged. Someday our Lord’s mighty, matchless name will ring throughout the universe. At the sound of His name, every knee will bow! (Philippians 2:10)

Have you struggled to stand up for being a Christian? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage.

* For further study on this topic, read this article:

“How Can Christians Say Jesus Is the Only Way to God?”

– Dawn

Is Your Tag Showing?

12 Jun

I get a kick out of the Burlington Coat Factory ads, encouraging customers with their “brag about it” advertising of their great prices.

In each commercial, a woman compares what she bought at Burlington vs. what others pay in major department stores.

I felt like I was running my own ad after I returned home from eating out last night.

My husband and I went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse, using a gift card from a relative. We enjoyed the meal and went home.

Then, to my chagrin, I realized the price tag from my new sweater, purchased at Burlington, was still attached to the back of my sweater! Only I wasn’t thinking, “Great! Everyone will know that I got a great deal … I’m bragging about Burlington.”

No, I was thinking, “Oh great. Everyone will know I had another senior moment!”

But it got me thinking about tags. We all wear them, you know.

Some tags we choose – Wife, mother, writer, executive, teacher, etc. Others are given to us – godly, fun, a worrier, stubborn, kind, a friend, wise ….

We wear our tags (labels) every day. They identify and describe us. Sometimes they open doors; sometimes they limit us. We’re proud of some tags, but ashamed of others.

I’m always amazed how many tags we wear that we can choose, if we desire and plan to do so.

The tag I always want to display is the one that says “Christian.” Though some may misunderstand the tag or even redefine it in our culture, I keep going back to the biblical tag.

“… the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:26). An important city in the Roman Empire – adorned with public baths, aqueducts, theaters, temples and lots of pagans – Antioch eventually became an important city in the spread of the Gospel. The first believers fled to this city after Stephen’s Tag_Christianmartyrdom, and Barnabas and Paul preached there.

“Christian” is a word the Antiochians gave Christ-followers; it was a descriptive term. These early New Testament believers were Jews who became disciples of “the Christ,” the Messiah, and they were glad to wear His name. They lived for Jesus and walked in His ways, glorifying God in His name (1 Peter 4:16).

Many believe the term “Christian” was actually a derogatory term – a term of denigration and abuse. But the disciples who loved Jesus embraced the name with joy, willing to suffer for His name. But the point is, they were “called” this name, given this name. People around them saw them becoming “little Christs” and acknowledged the similarities. Their tag was showing.

Which makes me wonder.

Do people see my Christian tag? If not, what is in the way?

By the way, our tag doesn’t have to be that particular word for people to know we belong to Christ. Our tag might read: “believer,” “disciple,” “brother/sister in the Lord,” “servant/bondservant,” “the faithful/the elect,” or “saint.”

But the meaning will be clear. We are not of this world (John 15:19; 1 John 2:15); we are not to conform to it (Romans 12:2). If we are living in the power of Christ, the world will know we are from a different kingdom, living for a different Lord.

Is your tag showing?

– Dawn

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