a new name
Prepping to teach a message, I spend time reading the passage, commentaries related to the passage and love when I have time to let a passage roll around in my mind for a while. Recently our teaching team determined to teach the pastors in Uganda over the life of Abraham. So, I read, prayed, and thought about lessons from Abraham’s life. And I shared my thoughts with my boss, Robert Stone. We reviewed chapter 17 of Genesis, and Robert made a comment about God giving a new name to Abram, changing his name to Abraham. Robert’s line to me was “This happens in all of us. As we walk with The LORD, He transforms us; we get a new name.” The more I considered this, the more significant this truth became.
Abram means “Exalted Father,” and he was a patriarch over his wife, their servants, even Ishmael through Hagar, but he had not yet experienced the birth of Isaac, the son who represented the fulfillment of God’s promise. At the time when God gave him a new name, it had been 24 years since the original promise was made, and still no son through Sarah. Yet, God changed his name to Abraham, meaning the “Father of Many Nations.” God saw what Abraham couldn’t; through Isaac and his descendants, Jesus Christ would be born. God loved Abraham’s faith and determined through Christ, He would make him the father of many nations.
Jesus saw Peter in Simon. He knew Simon, the fisherman, would become this “rock” upon which He would build His Church. Jesus saw past the excitable disciple who would deny Him three times on the night of His crucifixion. He knew Simon would become Peter, be arrested and stand before the High Priest’s council, teaching them the significance of Jesus’ life. He saw one of the key leaders of His church in this raw fisherman. So, Jesus pulled Simon close and walked with him, through ups and downs, calling him Peter and drawing this great leader out. It is what God does; He places the Kingdom in us and draws it out.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” - Philippians 1:6
God is at work; in you and in me. He has done this in my life, as He has changed my vocation from selling forklifts to becoming a pastor. He saw a pastor in me, all along, and He called me into this position. The more I walk down the road with Him, the more I become what He made me to be. And it is true for you, too.
As parents and leaders, this is very significant. If this is true for Abram, Simon and us, it is also true for our children! There is a Kingdom trait God has sewn into the fiber of their being that will be of huge benefit for those they love and lead someday. Look at them and know He made them for eternal purpose.
When I coached Davis’ last baseball team with one of my friends, we had this big, lanky kid on our team who was head & shoulders above the kids in our league. He was 14, though, and lacked confidence. He pitched great in practice, and had this incredible fastball. When we got to the game, he lost his confidence and his pitches got a little wild. In one game, after hitting a kid with a pitch, big Trev was crumbling on the mound, almost in tears when I got there. I saw this kid with an awesome natural fastball, whose height terrified the other kids. He couldn’t see his advantage.
So, I said, “Big Dog, you nailed that kid…it was awesome!”
He looked up at me, confused a little.
I told him, “They’re scared now; you’re the Big Dog and they don’t know if you’re gonna hit ‘em or throw strikes…you got ‘em right where you want ‘em. Just relax and throw Big Dog.”
And you know, Trev started to become ‘Big Dog’, this 6’2” kid who threw harder and more consistently every game. He began to see his natural gift.
Look again at the one God has given you to raise or lead. What Kingdom trait do you see in them? When we see it, maybe in how they respond to a tough person or situation, we need to call it out. Let’s tell them the good we see; the resemblance of Jesus we see in them. We should affirm the transformation we see Jesus making in them. We might just need to give them a new name!
“For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10