Precious Name

Monday, November 29, 2010

This is a very special Advent season for our family. As we rejoice in the birth of Jesus, we look forward with much excitement to the birth of my first grandchild. My older son, Josh and his sweet wife Meredith will become parents in May. While we still don’t know if we’ll welcome a precious baby boy or girl, the entire clan is buzzing about possible names. Should it be a traditional name? An unusual name? How long should it be? What are the meanings of the potential names? And, of course, I’m all in a dither about what I, the grandmother, will be named. “Nanny” and “Grandma” were the names for my grandmothers. For me? I don’t think so. My own mother is “Gran,” so that one’s taken. My friend Peggy, with half-Greek grandchildren, is “Ya-Ya.” We’re not Greek, so that won’t work. Family and friends are weighing in on possible names. I shudder at the name my younger son is encouraging: “Big Maw!” Do I dare wait and let the child name me? Isn’t that a big risk? What if the little one comes out with something awkward or a little goofy like “Ging-Ging” or such? This is all in fun and whatever I’m named I’ll just rejoice to hold a precious child of God.

Mary and Joseph received the name for their baby through Gabriel, a messenger Archangel from God.

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end
.” Luke 2:26-33 (NIV)

Joseph and Mary must also have recalled the words found in Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (NIV) This does not mean, however, that the Messiah’s name would actually be Immanuel. Jesus was the meaning of Immanuel, "God with us." Immanuel is one of the many titles for Jesus.

In both the Old and New Testaments there are many names given to Jesus using the phrase “He shall be called.” This was a common way of saying that people would refer to Him in many different ways. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). These were descriptors of Jesus. Luke tells us Jesus “shall be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32) and “son of God” (1:35) and “the prophet of the Highest” (1:76), but none of these was His actual name. We also know that God, the Father, is named Jehovah, but Jesus was never actually called Jehovah. The title "Christ," which means "messiah," "deliverer," or "savior," was given to him by his followers.

Jesus is the name and there is no greater name. During this Advent season let’s remember to worship the name that is above every name – JESUS!

Precious Name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of Heav’n.
Precious Name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of Heav’n

Glad Game

Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you know anyone who could be described as a “Pollyanna?” The name is often used to poke fun at someone who is “excessively positive” or “blindly optimistic.” However, the original Pollyanna demonstrated traits that most of us would want to emulate.

In Eleanor Porter’s 1913 best-selling book Pollyanna the title character’s name became associated with someone who had an optimistic outlook. When Pollyanna was orphaned at a young age, she went to live with her stern Aunt Polly. Demonstrating an optimistic attitude learned from her preacher father, Pollyanna ended up bringing joy to Aunt Polly’s household. Little Polly’s life philosophy was centered on what she called the “Glad Game.” The game originated by her missionary parents one Christmas. Pollyanna had hoped for a doll to arrive in the gift shipment but found only a pair of crutches inside. On the spur of the moment, her dad created the Glad Game. He encouraged her to find something to be glad about in every situation. In the case of the crutches, he urged her to be glad because “we don’t need ‘em!”

The young girl learned to find the good in all situations. Pollyanna used her sunny disposition to make her aunt’s house and New England town a pleasant place to live.

Having a “Pollyanna” outlook doesn’t mean that we should ignore sadness or tragedy, but that we have faith that God will work all things for good to those who love him. Pollyanna demonstrated an attitude of gratitude. She chose to look for ways to be thankful.

We can play the Glad Game this Thanksgiving. We can choose to focus on the blessings God has provided us during the past year.

Consider creating your own way to express gratitude by using these activities for your Thanksgiving celebration this year.

Family Thanksgiving Journal
Use a blank journal or notebook and ask each family member to record a note of gratitude. Small children could draw pictures or paste pictures from magazines to show what they are thankful for. Remember to date each entry and add to it all year. Read the entries each Thanksgiving as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

Thankful box
Use a small decorative box or decorate your own with butcher paper and leaves or wrapping paper. Provide a notepad and pens. Assign each family member or guest with the name of someone else. Ask them to write a note of praise about that person. At the end of the Thanksgiving dinner, read the notes aloud.

Gratitude Tree
Fill a vase with twigs. Collect beautiful fall leaves or cut leaves out of construction paper and place them in a basket next to the little tree you’ve created. Provide slips of paper and pens and ask your family members and guests to write down what they are thankful for. Then tape each slips to a leaf and tie it or tape it on a twig. Read the slips during your Thanksgiving dinner.

Thankful Tablecloth
Use a large solid color table cloth. On Thanksgiving trace each person's hand on the table cloth. Ask each person to write in the middle of the hand something they are thankful for and the year. Each year, on the same cloth, repeat the ritual. Enjoy looking back each year and reading the messages of gratitude.

Grateful Space
Create a "grateful space" on a poster, refrigerator, or cork board. Ask family members to post comments or pictures of anything they are thankful for. This display could be used throughout the year as a reminder of blessings.

Let us remember to praise God from whom all blessings flow!

"Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart" (Psalm 32:11).

Depressed Thinking

Monday, November 15, 2010

Have you ever “thought” yourself out of a problem? Ever “thought” yourself into a problem? You can do both.

There’s the story of an old man who ran a lunch counter during the Depression. He was a little blind and deaf, so he didn’t read all about the horrors of the Depression and didn’t hear all the negative talk. He had a very successful business when most businesses were failing. He even painted his lunch stand, put up bright advertising signs, and made food so delicious that people who didn’t have much money bought his food. The man worked hard and sent his son to college where the boy studied economics and learned about how bad things really were. When the son went home for Christmas, he told his father something was really wrong in the world. He told his pop that he shouldn’t be so successful. There was a Depression on. The father began to think it over and he began to listen to the talk around him. Then he started to think negative thoughts. He decided to re-think painting his stand that year. Instead of investing in his business, he made up his mind to save his money. He cut down on the amount of hamburger he put in his sandwiches. The result: his business suffered. When his son came home for Easter, the father thanked him. He said the information you gave me about the Depression is true. “I feel it in my business. A college education is a wonderful thing.”

What affected the man’s business? The Depression or his thinking about the Depression? This was a case of Depressed Thinking!

Every action is preceded by a thought. Let’s make sure we don’t think ourselves into a problem!

Even in bleak economic times, it’s important to focus on encouraging and positive messages. I enjoy listening to positive Christian radio and playing inspirational book CDs in my car. Audio books, sermons and inspirational talks are fairly inexpensive, and I enjoy exchanging them with my friends.

Check out these free Christian resources!
Each month Christian Audio gives away one premium audio book download for free. At this site you can also find hundreds of free lectures, sermons, interviews, and podcasts. provides links to 3rd party websites that contain a wonderful collection of FREE, high-quality, Christian materials.

Let’s find ways to encourage and not discourage each up during hard times! Positive biblical messages are meant to encourage us. Let’s share them with others.

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4 (NLT)

Clean Engine

Monday, November 8, 2010

A billboard slogan read, “A clean engine always delivers power.” This slogan registered with me because my “check engine” light had appeared on my dashboard, and I knew I needed to schedule an oil change. The oil is the lifeblood of the engine and the quality of the oil is important to make it run efficiently. In the previous oil change, I had used an expensive synthetic oil. However, this time I decided to go back to the mineral oil. The technician warned me about going back and forth between the two kinds too often. In essence, he explained that it was confusing to the engine to make it fluctuate between the two. He basically said, if you've been using synthetic and change down to a mineral-based oil, your engine might not be able to cope with the degradation. Whoa! Degradation! That sounds pretty awful! Filth and ruin in my cute white convertible! I don’t think so!

Do we ever downgrade our minds? We go to church or Bible study each week and fill our minds with positive biblical messages. But what happens during the rest of the week? Are we filling our minds with impure, negative, mean-spirited, or ugly thoughts? Are we guilty of gossip, criticism, or sarcasm? When we downgrade the input of our minds, we too have trouble coping with the degradation. Our minds need an oil change too. We need to put in a high quality of positive, faith-based thoughts and flush out the negative thoughts.

A mind free of negatives will produce positives. A clean mind will deliver power, so we need to flush out our negative thoughts in order to have a clean mind.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16 & 17 (NIV)

Power of Appreciation

Monday, November 1, 2010

Who doesn’t like to be liked? We all seek acceptance from those around us. It’s part of human nature to yearn for a place in the heart of others. Ask anyone in your workplace what treatment they most want at work. They will likely top their list with the desire to be treated with dignity and respect. As Aretha Franklin says, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T - find out what it means to me.”

When Sally Field received her second Oscar for her starring role in the 1984 drama Places in the Heart, she offered a memorable acceptance speech. She said, "I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" She wanted the acceptance and respect of her peers.

According to Maslow, man has a hierarchy of needs. After our basic physical needs are met and we feel safe and secure, we have a need for love, friendship, and belonging. John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and education reformer, said a person’s deepest urge is his “desire to be important.”

One of the first Americans to be paid a salary over a million dollars a year was Charles Schwab, who became president of United States Steel Company in 1921. When asked why he was chosen for this position and was paid such a high salary when there were many others who knew more about the steel industry, Schwab said it was largely because of his ability to deal with people. In his own words, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm in my people, the greatest asset I posses, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”

We all have a need to be acknowledged, recognized, noticed, and appreciated.

How can we make others feel appreciated? The Golden Rule sums up the best method for treating others with respect –

Do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12

How did Jesus teach us to treat others? Two of the beatitudes provide some insight into the way Christians are supposed to relate to their fellowmen. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). If we want others to show mercy to us, we need to show mercy to others. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). This verse reminds us to promote peace in our relationships. Matthew described the "compassion" of Jesus. Matthew says: "Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitude, he was moved with compassion, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Mt. 9:35-36).

Jesus taught us to love others and treat them with compassion, gentleness, generosity, kindness and forgiveness. When we follow his pattern, others will feel appreciated. The one who gives and the one who receives appreciation will be blessed!

Who in your world needs to feel appreciated today?

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