• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

What’s in a name?

Ruth arrived in Israel with Naomi after quite a series of difficult circumstances. Ruth, seemingly, did not even take the time to unpack her suitcases before she set out to find ways to provide for their material needs.  She ended up gleaning, by sovereign design, in the field whats-in-a-name-bannerof Boaz, a potential kinsman redeemer (2:20)

What strikes me the most in this biblical narrative is that everyone knows about Ruth, without knowing Ruth.  In other words, in spite of her incredible work ethic, Ruth is consistently referred to as the ‘Moabite woman’ (2:6).  No one calls her, ‘Ruth’.

Ever feel that way in cross cultural ministry?  That somehow your defining quality is not ‘Steve’, ‘Heather’ or ‘Joy’?  That the words most likely to come out of a neighbor’s mouth are: “Oh, you’re looking for the ‘Czech guy’.  He lives two doors down.”  You can begin to feel like a name-less person without roots; a person just ‘passing through’ another culture.

Incarnational living starts with a choice. Incarnational living also calls for that same choice to be made daily.  That choice is to find my identity first and foremost in what Jesus says about me.  Despite how others around me may ‘label’ me, Jesus knows me and calls me by my name (Isaiah 43:1; John 10:3).

Knowing that my identity in solidly anchored in what He says about me, I can then move into my world with confidence and courage to ‘reach, invest, equip and release’ others. I can give all my effort daily to serve the people to whom He has called me because His voice rings in my ears throughout the day: “You are mine!  I have bought you with a price.  No one can snatch you out of my hand.”

What’s in a name?

I’ve been reading through 1 Chronicles the past few days. Beginning with the first chapter, the author leads us through a seemingly unending series of names. It’s the kind of text that you often ‘speed read’ or skim through. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of importance to these lists of names.

Lists and lists of names, what we call ‘genealogical research’, can be interesting G-best-genealogy-siteswhen we want to know more about the family history. However, our Western cultures can blind us to the deeper significance of genealogies for the people of Israel (and others). For the people of God, genealogies served the function of defining who individuals were in the larger community, and recognized the people who had a part in building that identity.

Looking back, we could say is a way of giving direction, purpose, and identity for moving forward.

Not only do we, as Christians in the 21st century, have an identity which has been built on the sacrificial work and grace of Jesus on our behalf, but our identity has been and is being built by the impact of other brothers and sisters on our lives each day.  Many of us can give testimony as to how God used the influence of another to point us in the direction of missions.  Many of us can give testimony as to how God used the words and counsel of another to strengthen our ‘weak knees’ in the midst of difficulty or doubt.

What’s in a name? A whole host of history that gives meaning to where God has placed us at this moment.  What’s in a name?  The reminder of the special love that God has placed upon us.  What’s in a name?  The assurance that He has placed us on His path and will use others to build into our lives.

The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four. The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their fathers’ houses, namely of Tola, mighty warriors of their generations, their number in the days of David being 22,600.”  (1 Chronicles 7.1-2)