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Names, Names, Names!

15 Mar

I smile when I read lists of baby names. Some of the newer names are unusual:

Names_LOLPost3-15-14Names for Girls: Africa, America, Apple, Blaze, Blip, Brooklyn, California, Cameo, Chevy, Diamond, Domino, Eternity, Genesis, Green, Harmony, Heaven,  Kiwi, Miracle, Nyx, Phoenix, Precious, Scotland, Tulip, Zona.

Names for Boys: Ab, Baobao, Cheese, Chow, Daxx, Danish, Egypt, Hamza, Hurricane, Jag, Legend, Leviathan, Manhattan, Miggy, Orion, Panda, Pizza, Talon, Tintin, Yash.

Apparently, there’s a Country/State/City thing going there. And a food thing for the guys. (OK, I threw “Pizza” in there … I was imagining a tall guy leaning against the wall – a leaning tower of Pizza.)

There is a feature at Parenting.com that even allows us to see what a name we choose for a baby might look like on a Broadway debut, on a chalkboard, on business card, pasted to the side of a thermos, and more!

Single first names can be unusual, but when you combine with an unusual middle name, things get really interesting! Names like:  Above Hope … Apple Pie … Biscuit Foot … Cloudy Day … Egyptian Pyramid … Gold Dust … Holly Berry … Jelly Bean … Lucky Boy … Panama Canal … Rasp Berry … Salary Grab … Supreme Intelligence … Yankee Doodle. Yes, real names.

Combine a first name with a last name, and the humor continues. For instance, Electric Music’s last name was Sparks! (born around 1896 in West Virginia). Then there is Cheese Bologna … Cucumber Pickle … Delicious Bacon … Howdy Guy … Married Young … Mustard Mustard … Odius Nutt and Smelly Cotton!

I encountered some interesting first/last name combos while traveling on a revival team. One church had two people with unusual names:  Peter Pan Pringle and Snow White. (And Snow White played a harp, no less!) As I remember it, one of the students at the Bible college I attended was named Candy Barr. (She got teased. A lot.)

But on a more serious note …

Many names have deep meanings. Long ago, people named their children according to a character quality they desired for that child, or an event that recently happened in the parent’s lives, or for some other significant reason or purpose. An angel told Jesus’ parents what He would be called and why (Luke 1:30-31; Matthew 1:21).

I recently did some research for Revive Our Hearts author/speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss for a series on some of the names of Jesus. The series is called “The Wonder of His Name.” I wrote her about how this affected me; and Nancy also included the letter at the beginning of her series in the radio program, “Your Great Name.”

In this opening program, Nancy said, “… throughout the Scripture, there are approximately 350 names or titles NamesOfJesusPosterattached to Jesus … And the wonder of His names is that these names reveal to us who He is …. They reveal His splendor, His majesty, His exaltation. Some of His names also reveal His humanity and His humiliation. His names tell us why He came. His names tell us about His work and His ministry on our behalf.”

So many names, and yet, as Nancy says:

“…there’s not one name or any small number of names that can adequately or fully capture the wonder of who Jesus is and what He came to do.”

If our help is in the name of the Lord (see Psalm 124:8; Proverbs 18:10), then we need to study those names to understand the One we are trusting to help us! I encourage my readers to study the wonderful names and titles of Jesus during this 2014 Lenten season.

Then, decide for yourself …

Which of the wonderful names blessed you the most? Taught you the most? Opened your eyes to the Wonder of Christ? And did it lead you to praise Him more?

 

– Dawn

Credit: Names of Jesus poster available at InspirationArt.com

Six Ways to Reclaim Christmas

30 Nov

Have you noticed how many funny Christmas decorations have evolved that have nothing to do with Christmas? ChristmasDinosaur_cropped

This animated Tinsel Dinosaur made me LOL.

But it really has nothing to do with Christmas.

ChristmasYoda_croppedNeither does this Christmas Yoda I snapped at our local mall. (I think the mall was trying to blend Thanksgiving and Christmas with that purple Pilgrim hat!)

Some of the “Christmas” songs we sing have nothing to do with Christmas either.

Like “Jingle Bells” – I mean, who is “Miss Fanny Bright,” anyway?

Or Jingle Bell Rock. (Ri-i-i-i-ight. I’m sure adding the word “Rock” makes anything Christmas-y.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love all the fun of the holiday season – peppermint bark and gingerbread men, reindeer, Hallmark Channel holiday romances, twinkling lights outside and on Christmas trees, caroling, snowmen and sleigh rides (not many of those in Southern California), colorful packages under the tree, mistletoe ….

But the word is “CHRISTmas.” And though many in the media and the politically correct do their best to change the meaning of this holiday, Christians celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). Christians believe Jesus is the prophesied Anointed One who came to be the Savior of the world (Psalm 2:6-7; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9).

Christmas is all about Jesus, not Father Christmas … or a tinsel dinosaur.

Let’s keep the meaning of Christmas clear. A statement (author unknown) that has guided my life since college days is especially true during this season:

“The world waits for a daily demonstration of the Christ who lives in you.”

Don’t believe me?

A few years ago, an atheist in Britain, brought up “in the Christian tradition,” wrote about Christmas. He said, “… the birth of Christ, while a nice story (the manger and so on) isn’t really central to the Christian belief system.” (I would argue with him. Jesus had to come before he could die and be our Savior.)

But he continued: “All the important stuff happened at the other end of his life, when we celebrate Easter.” (At least he recognized the importance of the resurrection of Christ!) But then he noted even the message of Easter is muddied with “rabbits and chocolate.”

His argument was, Christians’ actions don’t make the Christian message clear.

At first, I thought I’d ignore the man’s sarcastic remarks as just an atheist’s worldview. But he did have a good point. The world is watching to see whether we live – whether we demonstrate – what we say we believe.

“If Christians cannot work out what Christmas is about,” he said, “then how can they expect anyone else to? … once the Christianity goes entirely, we are left simply with bad shopping and bad telly, and that would be a terrible thing. But it is up to Christians to reclaim this festival.”

Ouch … and Amen.

So, I thought, how can we Christians “reclaim” Christmas? I thought of six ways:

  1. We can carefully examine our hearts – how might we have let the world’s definition of Christmas color our lives?
  2. We can faithfully return to our Bible – the scriptural account of the birth of Jesus – and set it center-stage in our hearts.
  3. We can intentionally magnify the reason for the season in our families (in our conversations and activities).
  4. We can willingly support our churches in sharing the message of Christmas and the Gospel.
  5. We can creatively present Christmas in its truth and beauty to our neighbors.
  6. We can lovingly respond (not react) to attempts in our culture to strip away the meaning of Christ’s birth.

Reclaiming Christmas involves awareness of what is going on around us, and commitment to attitudes and actions that are biblical so our lives glorify God not only during this season, but all the year long.

I recognize there is controversy among Christians concerning Christmas celebration. I believe individual Christians must go to the Lord and determine how much of the secular trappings and celebration to include; but every Christian can celebrate the birth of Christ and consider fresh ways to incorporate biblical truth in the heart, home and culture. Are we doing enough to make the message clear? Do our children understand? Our neighbors?

Luke2-14_ChristmasCardFor example, the world is quick to speak of the peace and goodwill of Luke 2:14, which is on many Christmas cards, even secular ones. Peace is a longing in every soul. But people ignore the first part of this scripture: “Glory to God in the highest.”

Christians recognize this truth: there is no lasting peace without the Prince of Peace, Jesus. One of the ways we honor God and bring Him glory is to publicly recognize His Son and why He came. He came to save.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins … For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost … For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (Matthew 1:21; 18:11; John 3:17).

Another example … the word “believe” is often seen during this season. The world wants us to believe in Santa and the nostalgic “magic” of Christmas. But it’s not about the magic; again, it’s about the message.

When we reclaim Christmas, we will remember the one thing we must believe: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Ultimately, Christmas is not about a day. It’s about a decision.

It’s a decision to embrace the Savior who came to bring the life, peace, joy and hope we would never have without Him. It’s a decision to make Him known and glorified.

Which of the six ways to reclaim Christmas inspires you the most? How will you demonstrate the reality of Jesus’ birth this holiday season?

Credits: Dinosaur from Improvementscatalog.com & Christmas Card from Zazzle.com

— Dawn

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