January 4 – What’s Your Name?

green-name-tag

I grew up in Midland, Texas. We moved away when I was 12, but it is still “back home” to me. If you went there and interviewed some of my old buddies, you wouldn’t find out much. This is not because they have been sworn to secrecy.

It’s because they know me by my nickname, “Jude.” My mom says that the old Beatles song, “Hey Jude,” described what life would be for me and those I encountered.  I would “take sad songs and make them better.”

 It wasn’t until we moved to Oklahoma that mom required me to start using my birth name. I will never forget that day as long as I live. I felt like I had put on shoes that weren’t mine.  To me, “Lorenzo” was my dad, not me.

Oh, how I struggled! Teachers would call roll and I wouldn’t even answer because I wasn’t accustomed to my real name. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I encountered the power of my identity. I was reading this passage in Luke around the Christmas holidays and there it was.

It jumped off the page. “And you are to give him the name John.” The next few verses described why his name had to be John. It was all about the purpose for which he was born. At that moment, I went and looked up the meaning of Lorenzo Leon.

The meaning of Lorenzo is “crowned” and Leon is “brave lion.” I have to tell you I laughed when I read that my name meant “crowned lion.” (I put my first and middle name’s meanings together.) I saw myself as anything but a lion, let alone a king. But that is right were God nailed me between the eyes.

God planned before the ages for me to bear that name for His purpose in the earth. And even though “Jude” had a place in my life, it did not adequately describe my destiny.

What’s your name? Find out the meaning and post it somewhere you will see it daily. Start calling yourself by the meaning. There is a great book I use that gives scripture connotations so I can quote God’s word over my name.

The book is called “The Name Book” by Dorothy Astoria. If you are anything like me, you will be overwhelmingly surprised at how insignificantly you’ve viewed your name and contribution in the sight of God.

God wants all of us to know He plans to use our name in the service of His Kingdom and we or no one else has a right to discount it. So, let Him unlock your name today and introduce you to the you He sees.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” Luke 1:13-17 NLT

 Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1

 

January 1 – In His Name

june+11+shadow+1

The other day, my wife had one of our kids pick up some supplies from town. Our town is small, so periodically we have to go into a nearby town to shop.

She didn’t have any cash on her, so she sent her credit card. Now that credit card functions like a check, in many ways, because it tells the business you are trading goods and services with that you have a source of supply that will cover the purchase price. And if you should by chance fail to do so, they have a means to collect your name and personal information.

My son or daughter was just the “representative.” They went in our name and on our behalf. They were in no way obligated to “afford” the items on our list. And consequently, they have never had a problem with helping run to town in our stead.

Today’s focal verses are a beautiful reminder of our role as representative of Heaven’s Kingdom on Planet Earth. God has already established His Will and His Way. And He made sure it is well documented as His Word in the Book of Testaments, The Bible.

Every single day of our new lives in His son Jesus are to be spent mastering this one thing…Kingdom Deliveries! We don’t write the rules or laws, we just represent the Lawmaker. In His Name is our purpose and thus, our place of provision.

Matt. 18:18-20

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, verily I say unto you, that if two of you shall [a]agree in earth upon anything, whatsoever they shall desire, it shall be given them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. (GNV)

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 “Again I say[a] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV)

18Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be [a]what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be [b]what is already permitted in heaven. 19Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and [c]everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. (AMP)

Context of Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

November 30-Bullies and Other Giants in the Land

2 Chronicles 20:2 The Message Bible Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: “A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There’s no time to waste-they’re already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi.”

I first knew of the fight with the Bully when I came to the spot my sister and I met to walk home together. My sister wasn’t there. But I looked to my left, over by the cedar trees, there she was…an enormously big girl was all up in her face. I knew my sis and I could tell she was terrified. If I didn’t do something quick, this mountain of a girl was going to squash her! Just then, I saw my sister’s purse on the ground where she had dropped it in the midst of all the drama. I came behind the giant swinging my sister’s purse like a sling shot. WHAM! I clocked the bully in the head, grabbed my sister’s arm, and we ran for dear life.

I don’t advocate violence, but what do you do when you’re faced with a fight and you are overpowered and outmanned? This is a picture of the above incident with King Jehoshaphat. He was minding his own business when some bullies decided they wanted to fight. Jehoshaphat wanted no part of it. As a matter of fact, he was afraid of the outcome. He knew he couldn’t win.   But unlike me at eight years old, Jehoshaphat turned to God for help (vs. 3). He also got others to pray with him. Bullies come in many forms and in this life there’s no way around them. For you, the issue might be gigantic, but it’s minuscule to God! So what if there are giants in the land! There are no giants too big for your God!

 

November 20- No Need to Fuss

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, and do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Matthew 6:30-33

When I was a boy, I loved to get in the sun and throw shadows. I would be walking along and all of a sudden I’d come upon a wall. My shadow would make me look like I was ten feet tall. It was always fun to come up behind my buddies and make them think I was an adult or one of the big boys. Sometimes they would get all nervous until they realized it was just me.

Have you ever found yourself making a big fuss over something only to find out it was just a shadow? Growing up, penicillin was the wonder-cure for everything. My mom was a nurse, and if I ever even acted like I was coming down with something she would threaten to take me to the doctor to get a shot of penicillin in the backside!

One day the visit was inevitable and I got to fussing, “Momma, NO! I don’t need a shot. Please, Momma, It’s gonna hurt!” I worried myself sick all morning over that shot of penicillin and the mean doctor that was going to stick it to me. What I didn’t know is my mom worked with the doctor and had already arranged to give me the shot herself in his presence. I didn’t feel a thing, except a little foolish for making a big fuss over nothing!

Listen, life is no different then a shot of penicillin when God is your Papa. He’s not going to let anyone or anything stick it to you. Open your heart and hear what He’s saying to you today. He loves you and He knows your needs better than you do. All your problems are just sophisticated shadows that have no true power to harm you. Let His Word comfort and guide you. It matters not what the issues are. There’s no need to fuss, Daddy’s got you covered.

Lorenzo

Suggested Bible Meditation: Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-34

November 18- God Breathed

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. II Timothy 3:16-17

Just came home from a long trip with my family. We had a great time, a truly relaxing time. And as is the case with long trips in a fifteen passenger van, one tends to grow weary of whirling wind and winding roads. But nothing peeks the agitation meter like finger swirls on the rear glass windows. I must admit, when I was a child, I too loved to huff on the car glass when the air was crisp and leave creative finger impressions in the dew. But as a dad desperately striving to deliver his family to their destination in one piece, the artful inspirations fail to inspire.

Interestingly enough, it is the thought of breath that captures my attention just now. Often, the simplest of things are missed or mashed under the weight of intellectual exercise. This is the case with the Word of God housed in the book known as the Bible. Though human hands and mortal hearts were used to translate them for our benefit, it is the supernatural breath of God that separates them from all other words floating about in the great expanse of all that exist. And just like childish finger doodle on a huffed on car window, God’s Word bares His finger prints. But if you and I are too busy trying to get from point A to point B, the thought of His Breath, His Word, and His Fingerprints might be more annoying than awe inspiring. And if we fail to pay attention, we will find ourselves pulling over just as fast as we can to wipe the evidence of His presence from our view.

Heaven help us!

November 17-Accustomed

Luke 2:41-43 Every year Jesus’ parent went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  

Change can mess you up, if you let it. My oldest daughter loves to rearrange the kitchen and she does it with no warning. The first time she did it, I couldn’t find anything for days! Cups had changed places with bowls, pots and pans swapped space with the storing containers, and Lord knows where the silverware went. Up until that time, I thought of myself as a fairly flexible individual. In reality, I was no different than anybody else when it came to change. I believe it is just woven into the fabric of our humanity to dig ruts and camp out. It happens to us before we even know it.

Going to Jerusalem was a yearly thing for Mary and Joseph’s family and apparently quite a few people traveled with them from their home town of Nazareth. Jesus wasn’t on their minds as one of the youngsters who needed their attention. Needless to say, they were probably flabbergasted when they realized he was nowhere to be found. If you have ever misplaced a child, you are familiar with what they were going through! But add to the equation they had traveled a whole day home before they discovered he was gone!

What happened? How in the world do you leave your child somewhere and don’t miss them for a whole day? You become accustomed to the trip, the people, the event, and even the child. We do this all the time, everyday. Customs have their place, but in the midst of building our daily traditions, it is important to remember everyday is a new day. God is all about showing us something new right smack-dab in the middle of a routine we’ve done for years. So today, keep your eyes on Him and don’t take anything for granted, not even your own kitchen!

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

November 13- Daddy to the Rescue

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

My wife told me about a little boy who struggled when it came to paying attention. Although his parents would go over and over their expectations for his room, his toys, and his clothes, he had a hard time getting it. They tried everything to help him, and finally came to the realization their very smart and loving son just had difficulty with instructions. He required extra attention in this area.  As frustrating as this matter was for them, nothing would ever change their love for their son. Right around the same time, there was a neighborhood bully who liked to pick on the boy. One day the torment got so bad, the little guy screamed out, “DAD!” Well, before he could call again, his daddy was “Johnny-on-the-spot!“ The dad looked the bully square in the face and let him know he’d better never bother his son again. You can imagine what this did for the son’s confidence. It is interesting to me how the father didn’t bring up his son’s most recent struggle when the call for help came. No, because the struggle wasn’t a factor; love was! No matter what character flaws the son might have, he was still daddy’s boy! How true this is for each of us. Daddy-God loves us, bottom line. And He knows our flaws better than we do. But when we cry out for Him, He comes running to the rescue. He doesn’t look at our mistakes; He looks at His Fatherly Love.

Choose today to focus on the reality of the rescue. You are not alone in this world. Your Daddy is watching and waiting to hear from you!

Lorenzo

 

November 12- You Was Ward!

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind.

 Awhile back, while living in a very large city, we had an interesting experience. We had 2-3 trash carts that had to be emptied on the trash truck, and there were very specific rules as to how we could put them against the curb. Three feet away, 2 feet apart, you get the picture. I was striving to be very accurate in these rules. No one wants their trash to be left until the next week! Well, I guess I wasn’t getting the specifics “to the tee,” so the next week, the young man helping with the carts just left ours there! I couldn’t figure out why, so I attempted the next week to line them up ever so carefully. After running an errand, I drive up and see, amazingly, the trash carts were left again!!! UGH! I walked up to the carts, and there was a note on one of them. It was a “warning ticket” from the city. It simply read, “YOU WAS WARD!” I couldn’t even decide what this guy wanted me to do, much less, imagine trying to talk to him to find out!

After I figured out that the cart man surely meant “you were warned,” I got a few laughs out of the deal. In fact, our whole family has laughed about that incident many times now. But today, I got another kind of reminder. We are new to the rural trash system here, but they’ve seemed really nice. This morning I heard two very long, loud honks outside. We ran to the window and realized, “Oh no, we forgot the trash!” Caleb ran outside and said, “I’m so sorry, we forgot, we’ll have it right out,” while Nathaniel ran out with the cart. The young man just gave us thumbs up and smiled, took our cart, and went on his way. Wow, that was nice!

I’m not comparing rural and city trash systems here, but I am comparing something much more important. Patience and kindness go a long way with anyone you meet. Any relationship you have can benefit from your determination to be patient and kind. I always thought that I’d memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and I’m not quite there. But the “patient and kind” part at the first almost could take care of everything else. Your family, and all the other people around you, will bloom when you love them in this way. In fact, many problems we face in our relationships could be avoided by each of us paying attention to how we sound and how we act. Are we treating others like we would want to be treated? Really think about that. Sow some patience and kindness seeds, and see what you grow. Then maybe you won’t be tempted to give anyone in your life a rude and impatient warning ticket!

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: Luke 7:12 Message Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.

October 27- Parent Training Gone Bad

I Samuel 3:12-13 The time has come for me to bring down on Eli’s family everything I warned him of, every last word of it. I’m letting him know that the time’s up. I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and he did nothing to stop them.

It is a popular assumption that public accomplishments can somehow overrule private life deficiencies. Hardly a day goes by that we are not informed of yet another modern day icon’s demoralizing descent due to poor judgment. Contrary to popular opinion, historical evidence tells us being good and doing good in the presence of others isn’t a true test of core character. It’s much deeper than that and only the Creator of the Universe can be the ultimate judge.

During a time of constant battle and unrest, Eli served as High Priest of God’s chosen people. For forty years, he and his family carried on the Aaronic priesthood legacy established in the days of Moses, when he and his brother Aaron led the Israelites out of Egypt. As far as his priestly abilities go, the Bible offers no disapproving words. But as a father and leader of his home, this otherwise good man fatefully failed. He absolutely refused to direct and discipline the conduct of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. These young men top the “the worst leaders of all time” list. They were rude, obnoxious, and utterly irreverent. God first warned Eli in private through the words of a prophet (I Samuel 2:27-34). Eli did nothing. Later, God spoke to the innocent young Samuel, whose mother had dedicated him to the Lord, three times in the night. The message, in essence was “Judgment is coming to the house of Eli.” Still the priest took no action.

Maybe it was fear of hurting his boys’ feelings or maybe he just thought discipline and training to be cruel. Maybe he even viewed God as too loving to truly allow harsh consequences for corrupt character. Maybe he just didn’t want to do the work it would take to consistently train his sons. I don’t rightly know. But I do know the Bible tells us that because Eli was unwilling to correct his sons, he eventually lost them completely along with his name and position. Instead of being known as one of Israel’s great spiritual leaders, Eli’s clan went down as the priests who cared more about outward appearance before the people than inward obedience before God.

Home can be the hardest place to step up to the plate and direct. Our children are our pride and joy, therefore we often despise having to be the heavy hand in their lives. But if we love them and if we truly respect God, we will periodically play the bad guy, so, in the future, God won’t have to!

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

 

October 16- Fence Rider

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow

“Desperado,” by Don Henley and Glenn Frey

I’m reading a book to our children right now that we just love.  It’s called “Little Britches,” by Ralph Moody.  Mr. Moody is the main character, nicknamed Little Britches, and he’s basically telling his autobiography during his childhood.  It’s kind of like a boy version of “Little House on the Prairie.”  Little Britches gets into lots of scrapes and spots, and it’s been so interesting to hear the wisdom his parents gave him during another time in our history.

Well, the other night, Little Britches tells how he ran into trouble while herding a neighbor’s cows (he was earning 35 cents a day).  His father had just allowed him to use one of their best plow horses to do the job. (He was about 7 years-old.)  He came home that night with the horse all lathered up and worn down.  His father was very unhappy.  Listen to the little speech that his father gave him (my paraphrase): Son, you’re trying to play cowboy instead of sparing your horse.  Don’t go after each little stray cow at a running gallop.  You’re overdoing it! Keep them in a group, and walk them back to their pasture.  A cowboy with a spent horse is worse than a cowboy with no horse at all.  Always remember, son, the best boss is the one who bosses least.  Whether it’s cattle, or horses, or men; the least government is the best government.  WOW.

The least government is the best government.  What does he really mean by that?  I don’t think he’s necessarily getting political, although it certainly applies.  But he is surely talking about governing our selves.  St. Francis of Assisi said it so well:  Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.  May we all be marked and branded deeply with the fruit of self-control, yielding to the voice of a loving Master, allowing Him and His grace to seep out of our very pores.  Then, and only then, can the people that come across our path truly catch the good news.  Until we do that, our own agenda for our lives will help us straddle mediocrity, instead of committing fully to a life of truth.  Be governed by the One who gives real liberty, and hop off that fence.

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (emphasis mine)