The Power of Naming


2011-09-26 21.31.06When a little bobble-headed, tuxedo kitten showed up in my yard howling for help, I picked her up and felt ribs. She hissed when her feet left the ground but by the time she reached my shoulder she was purring like an Italian sports car. It took less than a week to realize she had chosen me as her human, so I set about trying to come up with a name for her. I tried Squeaker for a week or so because the way her cry sounded, but she categorically refused to answer to it.  She was extremely vocal and sounded like Beaker from the Muppets, like she was actually having a conversation in a high-pitched voice. It sounded like a series of “meeps”. One day as she stood with her back to me I called “Meep.” She turned around and looked at me and that was that.

There is something powerful in a name. In Genesis chapter one, God created the world by calling it into being by name. God said let there be light and there was light. Then he created man and woman and named them Adam and Eve. God even granted man the honor of naming things in the Garden of Eden. Then as Adam and Eve had children, they chose names for them as well. In Old Testament times, and even still today, great thought was taken in choosing a name. The Israelites called God multiple names based on different aspects of His character, such as Our Father or Our Provider. There is power in asking for something in God’s name and in God’s will.

There is also something about naming something that takes away fear. The unknown is scary and full of worst case scenarios. However, when we can finally name our fear or disease or problem, it calms us because until we can name it we don’t know how to fight it. I was watching a television show called Chasing the Cure. The guests were people with mysterious conditions that their doctors had been unable to identify or cure. Many had suffered for years. On the show a group of doctors work with a network of medical specialists and the general public to try and put a name to their illness and then hopefully find a cure or at least a treatment. For many of them, just finding a diagnosis was freeing after so many years of uncertainty.

The same can be said about sin. When we name our sins before God, then we can ask forgiveness and move forward.  When we just say a blanket forgive me, the “hidden” sins still taunt us as if God doesn’t already know about them. When we admit them to Him, then He can heal us and help us move forward. Identifying a problem is the first step to a solution. In this case, naming the sin and admitting it is the first step in battling it.

The same can also be said about our enemy. In the series Harry Potter, people refuse to say the name of the evil wizard Voldemort out of fear. Harry refuses to fall prey to that fear and says his name out loud, unwilling to give Voldemort any power over him. While Voldemort is a fictional character, our enemy is not. Ephesians 2:6 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” There is power in identifying the enemy and knowing that we are fighting against something more than other humans. We are fighting a battle at the spiritual level.  When we name our sins and ask forgiveness and we name our enemy and claim God’s victory, then we know we can win the battle we are facing because God has already won the war.

Message from God


I often hear people say that they want a word from God. The problem is not that God isn’t speaking; the problem is a failure to communicate. The communication process requires two parts: send and receive. The website Skills You Need gives the following diagram to explain the communication process:

In 1 Samuel 3:10 we have an example of communication:

 “And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth” (KJV).

The sender (God) sent a message to Samuel by calling his name out loud. Samuel heard his name being called and responded by saying “Speak; for they servant heareth.” Then God gave a message to Samuel. It seems pretty straightforward, but a lot of things can happen in between sending and receiving.

God Speaks Speak

God chooses to speak in a variety of ways. In the example, He spoke to Samuel in an audible voice. While God doesn’t necessarily speak audibly to us today, He does make himself known through a variety of channels: The Word of God (Bible), The Holy Spirit, and other Christians. For example, last week I was trying to decide what my next step should be in a financial situation when I pulled out my Sunday school lesson to prepare to teach. The lesson was on remembering what God has done in the past and continuing to trust God in situations instead of depending on men. It answered my question, not in as much detail as I would like, but it was a response: Trust Him. God also uses modern media. Just this week I was praying about the same issue and I received an email with a blog post that encouraged me that God was still working on the problem for me.

Barriers Road Closed

Remember the “Can you hear me now?” commercial from Verizon? It was all about getting a signal, which is a key to communication. There is an endless supply of things that can attempt to block a message from God. The enemy will try to use distractions, such as a child two rows up fidgeting or making noise through a sermon until you realize that you have no idea what the pastor just said. Another barrier is sin in our lives. Sin hardens our heart and the message can’t penetrate the barrier that we have put up. When we fail to confess sin, it builds a wall that makes communication difficult.

We Listen…or notListen

If the message makes it through the barrier but our receiver is turned off, then we will miss the message. How many times have you had someone say they tried to call you only to realize your phone battery was dead so you missed the call? Like Samuel, we have to be actively listening for God to speak to us. Otherwise, we might miss the message.

Busy Signal?

No Answer

If all of that goes well, what about those times when you are looking for a response and it doesn’t come. It feels like God is ignoring you. Have you ever been waiting for a response to a text only to find out that you had received the answer already in an earlier text but didn’t realize it? Sometimes God does not speak because He is waiting on you to respond to an earlier message. If God has told you to do something, He will not move forward until you are obedient in what He has already told you to do. If a parent says a child can play video games after he cleans his room, then there will be no video games until it is done no matter how much complaining the child does. Is there something God has told you to do that you have refused to be obedient about?

Just like my internet provider always says, before you blame the Provider make sure that all the equipment is turned on and connected properly. God wants to commune with us, but we have to be actively listening and working to keep the lines open on our end. When we do that, the message is sure to come through, often in ways we never imagined. So, keep your eyes and ears (and heart) open for what God has to say.



The Surety of Adversity

Adversity Flower in Concrete

“Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to bear adversities. And temptation followeth, lest he be lifted up because of the benefit.” – Thomas A’ Kempis

Storm WarningI was listening to a CD of devotionals and heard an excerpt from Priscilla Shirer. She was repeating something I had heard her say in the simulcast where I got the CD. The idea that a storm is a given. You are either going into a storm, are in a storm, or are coming out of a storm. In any case, it will pass. Either the state of rest or the storm will pass as you move into the next phase of the cycle. Why? I think the quote above from Thomas A’Kempis spells it out for us.

When we are at rest, we soon forget who we owe the joy of rest and peace. Sometimes we even begin to believe that we earned the blessings we have received. We forget that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, KJV). Storms come to keep us grounded.

Matthew 6:19-21 says:

 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

MistSometimes we must endure storms and suffer loss so that we will remember that everything on earth is ethereal, a mist that can dissolve as quickly as it came. We are merely passing through this world as well. As Christians our eternal home is Heaven where there will be no need of storms to remind us because we will be in the very presence of God.

How are we to live then, knowing storms will come as long as we walk this earth? Learn to ride the waves as they come. Be joyful in or out of the storms, knowing this too shall pass. Enjoy the blessings with a thankful heart and be thankful that in the storms we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven through obedience to God’s Word. Then, as Paul says:

 “11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13, KJV).




A Little Distance


Sometimes a little distance is a good thing. Sometimes when you are working on a knitting project or a writing project or in my case both at the same time, you sometimes need to take a break and walk away so that you can get a fresh perspective. However, there is the danger of going from taking a break to procrastinating.

I started working on a revision for a novel over a year ago. I completed the manuscript in time for a writer’s conference, but it was only a rough draft. After the conference, I came home fired up to revise it but it wasn’t long until the “real” world crept in and distracted me. To be honest though, the real reason I didn’t get to work on the revision is that I was overwhelmed because I knew the entire novel needed a lot of work and I had no idea how to go about the process.

In 2 Chronicles, King Asa had won a war against his enemies but Azariah warns him not to be too complacent because there is more work that needs to be done. Verse seven says, “Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chron. 15:7, KJV). Azariah points out that King Asa has made progress in the past but urges him to persevere and finish what he started.

It is easy to start a project and then get bogged down in the details. We may get most of it completed and run into an obstacle which requires a break. OfProcrastination Posterten it is hard to get back to that project and finish it. This is true in our spiritual lives as well. God calls us to work in a particular ministry, such as teaching a class or mentoring a younger person, and we start with enthusiasm and energy. However, it is easy to get sidetracked and let the ministry fall by the wayside, or experience failure and decide it was not meant to be. We get tired, so we take a break, but put off returning to the work.

When God calls us, He has a plan for our lives, one that he promises to finish. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (KJV). God is faithful to persevere with us, so we should be willing to persevere in what He gives us to do. If he calls us to a ministry, He will be faithful to equip us and produce fruit in due season if we will be faithful to continue the work.

FinishThere are countless stories of people who almost gave up right before their biggest breakthrough. So, if you are struggling to get back on track, know that God has His arm outstretched, ready to help us. We only have to reach out and take hold of His hand. He will give us the strength to finish what He called us to do.

Be Still

Dropped stitchI was working on a knitting project late one evening and found what looked like a dropped stitch. Past experience taught me that trying to fix things when I’m tired only leads to more problems, so I used a stitch marker to hold it in place and put it away. I was frustrated because I was almost done with the project and wouldn’t be back at the yarn shop until after the weekend. The next morning I pulled out the project to look at it in the light of day and realized there actually wasn’t a problem, just some pulled threads, and any “fixing” I might have done would have made a problem where there hadn’t been one. I was able to finish the project over the weekend and move on to something new.

What is your first response when you encounter an obstacle or problem? Do you go into Ostrich Head in Sandproblem-solving mode? Do you get stick your head in the sand? For most people, we either hide from the problem, pretending it doesn’t exist, or we try to jump in and solve the problem using our own abilities. While this is the human approach, it is not necessarily the best way.


Parting Red SeaWhen the children of Israel left Egypt, the Pharaoh’s army followed them, leaving them trapped between the army and the Red Sea. The people cried out in fear, “13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14). God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could pass over on dry land, and then the water fell on their enemies and destroyed them without them lifting a finger.

When we face problems, it is tempting to try and take control of the situation; however, if we stand still, God will fight the battle for us. Our first instinct is to DO something, but God’s Word tells us to stand still and watch God work. We often want to jump in and straighten things out, but we often just make the situation worse.

Psalms 46:10 says, “10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” The translation of “be still” has the added meaning of releasing your grip. Instead of holding tighter to the reins of control, release your grip and let God have His way in the situation. Then sit back in faith and watch Him do things you never dreamed of or thought possible. The Israelites certainly didn’t expect the water to part before them and their enemies to be drowned but God always had a plan. They just needed to have the faith to step forward in obedience.

So the next time you face a problem or an obstacle, instead of panicking or jumping in, take a moment to be still and let God take the lead. Then we can rest in the knowledge that, no matter what comes, God is in control and will work it out to our good (Jeremiah 29:11). The bright light of morning may reveal that the problem only existed in our perception of the situation and a little time allowed the stitches to fall into place so that we can move forward once again.