What’s in a Name?

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness (Psalm 115:1 NIV).

My name is Heather Corinne King, nee Hunt.  My mother chose my name because it sounded pretty and seemed unique.  She didn’t know any other moms bouncing baby Heathers on their knees at the time.

Of course, life with its taste for irony, turned out a little differently than she expected.  The name Heather was the most popular girl’s name the year I was born and I spent my childhood being distinguished from other Heathers with numbers and initials.

That hasn’t ended either.  When I call people in my church, I always tell them, “this is Heather King,” as opposed to the other two Heathers in our congregation.

So much for being unique.

Still, I do think my name has its own beauty about it, something I discovered even more over time.

My husband and I prayed over the names of each of our daughters and they eagerly ask every few months what their chosen names mean.  Not that they don’t know.  We’ve told them often enough.  I think they just like to hear us tell the story.

We tell them they are reminders of victory and strength.  They are called after Godly women in our families, for queens, and for women in the Bible who served Jesus and tended to His every need.  Their names mean Victorious Light, Praise, God’s Promise, and Purity.

Then my daughters typically ask me what my name means.

It’s a flower.

A pretty flower?

Well kind of a pretty flower.  It grows in Scotland in the fields.  Sometimes it’s purple (I add, trying to convince them that this is indeed an awesome name).

They seem unimpressed.  So much for a name with a great meaning.

Or is it?  After answering their questions about it so often, I began to think what it means to be a “flower maiden,” or “Heather Corinne.”  Flowers of any variety reflect the beauty of their Creator, bring Him glory and praise, and trust in His tender hand to care for their every need, even their very survival.  Isn’t that the desire of my heart?

Maybe it’s meaningful after all.

Most of us have this same interest in why our moms and dads narrowed down hundreds of choices in a Baby Name book and came up with our particular combination–First, Middle and Last.

God shares our interest.  He’s profoundly involved throughout Scripture in the naming of promised children and in the renaming of chosen people.

But He’s also intensely protective of His own name, to an extent that might baffle us.  In Ezekiel, God declares, “I will be jealous for My holy name” (Ezekiel 39:25, HCSB).

It’s not so much His name as in a word, but as the New Living Translation expresses it, God will “jealously guard (His) holy reputation!”

Surely when He acts on our behalf, our God of Abundant Love does so because He cares for us and has compassion and mercy.

So often, though, His primary motivation in delivering His people is the protection of His reputation or the glory of His name.

This is why I wrote in One of the King Girls that we should “pray that others will glorify God because of us.”  God has willingly entrusted us with His reputation, allowing us to represent His love and holiness in our daily lives.

Not just allowing us to uphold His reputation, but expecting us, commissioning us and commanding us to do so.

As a child, I learned the Ten Commandments in the King James Version, including number three: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 KJV).

I’ve heard pastors preach that this means we can’t use “God” or “Jesus” as an expletive.  Then they explain that the verse is about profanity in general.  Others note that any variation of the names of deity is out also, so “gosh, gee” and others were equally condemnable offenses.

In her book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, however, Lois Tverberg digs deeper.  She says:

“In Jewish thought, this commandment is understood to have a much greater meaning.  The text literally says, ‘You shall not lift up the name (reputation) of the Lord for an empty thing.’  One of the ways that the rabbis interpreted this was doing something evil publicly and associating God with it.  It is a sin against God himself, who suffers from having his reputation defamed” (p. 79).

This doesn’t free us to be foul-mouthed profaners of God’s name.  Surely upholding His reputation means watching the words we speak.

Yet, that’s not the only point of this command.  The real issue is that we don’t drag God’s name into the dirt and trample all over it by taking our responsibility as His ambassadors and ministers of the Gospel lightly.

This doesn’t just impact what we say; it influences every aspect of how we live and love and teach and respond and stand up for what is right and true even when others think we’re crazy.

God’s name isn’t like ours, pretty and meaningful perhaps, but devoid of power.  His name is might and strength and His glory beyond our comprehension.  He’s told us to live in such a way that we don’t take His name in vain.

Instead, fully aware of this responsibility, we glorify His name, giving Him the honor and praise He is due.  That’s what happens when people look at us and see Him, only Him, gloriously Him.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 06/02/2012

Hiding the Word:

It’s a season of celebration.

Our family is celebrating graduations and the end of the school year, ballet recitals, concerts, plays, birthdays, and the 50th wedding anniversary for my husbands’ parents.

So, on a bright and beautiful day like today, a morning of sunshine and cool breezes on the day after torrential downpour and tornadoes hit our area, it seems fitting to meditate on a Psalm of celebration.

Our verse for the week is:

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:11-12 ESV).

Last night after my daughters’ ballet recital, families hovered under umbrellas and still arrived soaking wet to their cars.  One man stayed long after most others had left, offering to walk people to their vehicles if they didn’t have an umbrella, holding his over their heads so they could escape some of the drenching.  

I can imagine God covering us with “favor as with a shield” in a similar way.  How it’s all about his grace and kindness to us. How it’s self-sacrificing.  How it offers us more perfect protection than any umbrella off the shelves of Wal-Mart.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

Weekend Rerun:

My Two Cents

Originally posted on May 9, 2011

 

With beach season approaching, I’ve been thinking . . . I’d like thinner legs.
While I’m placing orders, I’d also love to have wavy hair with no streaks of gray in it.
No glasses would be nice, too.
Yes, then I’d look really great . . . not at all like me, but great.

Fortunately, I don’t really like the beach, so I don’t dwell on these issues for long.  It’s dangerous really to look around at other people and compare ourselves to them, not just physically, but spiritually, too.  While I’m baring the deepest, darkest parts of my soul with you, I might as well honestly admit that I struggle with this at times.

For me, the trap comes primarily when I’m reading.  As a lover of words, I tend to fill every available minute with reading of some kind, even if it’s just five minutes while standing in a line.  And as I read, there are moments when I think, “If I could just change myself in this way or that way, I’d be better able to serve God.”

I don’t have the impact of this woman, the poetic mastery of language like another, the scholarly education like her, the testimony of this woman or the vast Scripture memorization like another . . . When it comes to spiritual matters, I confess I sometimes want to swap out parts of me for what looks better, not really out of jealousy or pride, but just because I long to give to God the best offering possible.

For most of us, our deep down motives are pure and true.  Out of a desire to worship and give glory, though, sometimes we glance to our sides at the offerings of others and feel we fall short.

What about you?  Have you ever looked around and wished you prayed like her, knew exactly what God called you to do like him, knew Scripture as well as she did, or had the same spiritual gift as a friend?

The eye in the Body of Christ wants to be the foot or the hand wants to be the mouth.  Imagine the Body of Christ as a Mr. Potato Head—now how silly would we look?  Unfortunately, when we eyes spend all our time trying to be feet, the Body of Christ is blind and clumsy, tripping all over itself.

“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body” (1 Corinthians 12:18-20). 

Your gifting, your passion, your past, your experiences are all uniquely packaged together by God to form you and mold you into the vessel of His choosing.

And all He asks is that we raise our hands to release what He has already given to us:
the fullness of the talents He has bestowed
and the passions He has stirred up deep in the fires of our hearts
the issues that make us raise our voices as we step onto soapboxes
the service that we wake in the morning excited to perform
the experiences from our past that soften our hearts and make us tender to those hurting in our midst.

Our arms heavy-laden with all that we have received from Him, we then lift it all back up in worship.

We’re the only ones at times looking around to compare the gift we bring to the presents of the other worshipers.  God isn’t sifting through the gift table, shaking packages and estimating value or peeking at the cards looking for the names of the gift-bearers.

It’s just us—watching the gift table and shifting our gaze with embarrassment when another attendee brings in a cumbersome package wrapped in paper all silver and topped with a ribbon so fancy.  Then another lays on the table a gift bag filled to overflowing, tissue paper barely covering the treasures inside and we want to take our gift back.  It’s not enough.  Not for a King so worthy.  Not for a God we adore.

The widow in the temple, though, knew that true worship simply meant giving all that she had, sacrificially placing her “two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents” as an offering to God (Mark 12:42).

Others had given more, even ostentatiously so.  “Many rich people had thrown in large amounts” (Mark 12:41).  She could have watched from the corners of the temple in shame at the earthly value of what others gave and walked away clutching her cent pieces, confident that God would despise a gift so meager.

And yet, she didn’t.   And nor did He.

She gave.  He noticed.

He called His disciples over to learn from her.  Men who would eventually be asked to give up everything—even their very lives—-learning how to give sacrificially from a pauper widow almost lost in a crowd of those richer and more important than her.  All because she “put in everything” when she gave to God.

What two cents are you laying at the altar?  Your spiritual gift, your ministry, your service to your church, your sacrifice for your family, your care for another, your laying aside of personal dreams, your causes, your secret encouragement for a friend.  It’s being a hand when He made you to be a hand and being an eye when He asked you to be the eye in a body of Christ that is so dependent on every organ.

Your two cents is a gift precious to God; He only asks us to give what we ourselves have been given.

As I finish up today, I’m listening to Paul Baloche sing Offering.  I hope you take a moment to worship with me.

Offering
by Paul Baloche

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You’re due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

The Kindness of Strangers

I’m so excited to be restarting my small-group tomorrow after a summer hiatus!  Thanks to those of you who participated in the Online Bible Study and whose input blessed me so much.

My small-group is kicking off the year by reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace: Confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman.  If you can’t join us for Bible Study together, you can still read along with your own copy of the book.  I’ll be using it to guide some of my posts in the weeks ahead and hope you’ll be encouraged by it.

Now on to today’s devotional:

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“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'”
Luke 10:27

By the time I made it to the checkout line at Wal-Mart that day, I was a bit frazzled.  The shopping with children while sticking to a budget and using coupons and planning meals for the week on the fly had done me in.  I ran the gauntlet, which any mom knows is the candy aisle that also now comes fully equipped with toy cameras and play cell phones and lip gloss and shiny and wonderful overly expensive nothing toys that every child must have or she will simply die!

Finally, I was done.  Groceries in the cart.  Coupons handed over.  Total amount deducted from my checking account.

Freedom!!

We made it to the van.  My kids piled in.  I loaded every last grocery bag into the back and slammed the door shut.

Then I realized that I had left my wallet inside.

Because that’s what tired, frazzled, totally stressed and generally scatterbrained women do.  We leave our personal identification and all access to our financial lives sitting around the Wal-Mart.

I re-opened the van door and started unbuckling my confused children so we could go back inside and hunt for the missing wallet when I heard him.

The man who saved my day.

He ran over to me holding my wallet outstretched.  “The cashier let me run it out to you,” he explained.

In A Streetcar Named Desire, the character Blanche DuBois frequently says, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Don’t we all?  At some time or another, haven’t we all depended on the kindness of somebody, whether stranger or friend?  They’ve saved us from a rotten day and might as well wear a cape and some tights because it’s as good as being rescued by a superhero.

But, here’s the catch, showing kindness always involves at least a little inconvenience.

My kind stranger abandoned his own cart of groceries and delayed his day to run out to a parking lot and find the crazy woman who can’t keep track of her things.

Too often we don’t make the choice he did.  Instead, we choose convenience over service and comfort over love for our neighbor.

We’re busy. We’re tired. We have important ministry commitments that keep us from  ministering to an individual in need. We hope another will offer help.

We miss it.  We miss the point.

Just like the disciples did in Matthew 19.  You see they had grown accustomed to Jesus’ usual ministry pattern.  That day didn’t seem any different: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there” (Matthew 19:1-2).

Jesus drew a crowd.  Everywhere He went, so did a mob of searching people and those in need. They pressed in for healing and he performed amazing miracles for the people gathered there.

It must have been thrilling to be a disciple of this Rabbi—to see His Spiritual power, His draw, to think perhaps He was the Messiah they had waited for all this time.

And He didn’t just attract a crowd of needy paupers or country-folk.  Oh no.  Where Jesus traveled, so did the powerful elite to examine and cross-examine this religious phenomenon.  So it was on this day as “some Pharisees came to test him” (Matthew 19:3).

Can you imagine this picture?  The disciples are the closest people on earth at the moment to a superstar and they must have felt like a little stardust had fallen on their own faces.  Jesus had mass appeal and the attention of big-shots.

But then some parents did the unthinkable.  They “brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked them” (Matthew 19:13).

We normally read this passage and praise Jesus’ love for children specifically, and certainly that’s there.  He instructs His followers to “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:15).

But there’s something else here, too.  It’s not just that He stops for children, but that He stops at all.  You see, to the disciples, these families with their kids weren’t important enough to have a moment of Jesus’ time.  He had crowds to attend to, the sick to miraculously heal, and the Pharisees to spar with verbally.  If anyone in the world was too busy, it was Jesus.

But He took the time for kindness.  He didn’t ignore them in the name of ministry impact.  He accepted a little inconvenience in order to show love because “love is patient; love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

And He did it for the least of these.  How often have we been like the disciples, running interference instead . . . making sure that those who come to Christ are worthy enough of His attention?  We forget that He came for all.  He died for each of us.

More to the point sometimes, we make sure those coming to Christ are worthy enough of our attention.

We pass by the dying man on the side of the road just like the priest and the Levite in Luke 10 because we are busy with important tasks, even sometimes too busy in the service of God to serve the people He’s placed along the road we’re traveling.

Could we instead live a Samaritan life, valuing the lives of others, even strangers sometimes, over our schedule and agenda?

Would it matter the next day if the Samaritan had arrived late at his destination?  Probably not.  But it would always matter that he saved a man’s life.  The kindness was worth the inconvenience.  It always is.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.