The Name

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  Galatians 6:14

This week has been an eventful and emotional experience for my parents and my siblings. We packed and moved Mom and Dad to their new home, and likely their last address on earth. Due to recent falls, failing health, and future concerns for their safety, we all finally came to a sense of urgency that the time had come to make the move.

Coming to agreement in our family is not an easy process. Mom and Dad are fiercely independent people, and they have passed that trait down to all four of their children. We share a common name, and after that the similarities end. As the kids say, “It is all good,” but the truth is, we are very different.  

Adversity and diversity don’t often bring out the best in each other, but this week was a team effort as these two turbulent streams surged into a tight timeline. I am proud of my wife, my parents, my two brothers and my sister and dear family friends for pulling together to make this move happen. Great job!

The good news out of all this was our family was able to come together around our common bond with a genuine desire to do what is best for our parents, and to honor them at the same time. The name we share is not just a collection of letters in the alphabet. We have a name given to us by our parents. Their love for one another was forged in God’s heart, and given to them. For the past 69 years, their love for one another has been poured out on us, and it is deeply rooted in our hearts.  

To say that our parents sacrificed for their four children, doesn’t do them justice. They never saw what they gave to us as a loss, but as an investment in our future. These last few days, the four of us have sought to return, in small portion, all they have done for us, by making this transition as smooth as possible.

Moving my parents from their home of 37 years to a retirement home has not been easy for them, or for us. The consolation for all of us has been the common knowledge that it was the right thing to do.  Dad has helped us by saying, “The best is yet to come.” Mom has quietly reminded us, “It’s all going to work out.” Thanks Mom and Dad! It helped. A LOT!

Thank you for giving us your love, as well as your name. I still want to be like you, when I grow up.

Paul’s letter to the Galatian church reminded them of his personal love for the name of Jesus, and his personal assessment of his own life. He knew he was nothing without the name of Jesus.  When The Risen Lord stopped Paul on the Road to Damascus, He changed his name and his life. Paul turned from a man looking for fame, to a man boasting only in “the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanks Paul, for pointing the way to Jesus.

Note to self: The name of Jesus is all that you have that God recognizes. He is not impressed with your life efforts, your resume, your mind, or your opinion. He looks at The Cross and expects to see you on it, dead not alive. You are only alive to Him in Christ. Every time you pray in the name of Jesus is a celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. You only have access to The Father, in the name of His Son. Praying and dying to self releases Christ’s life in you.

Name-droppers are the lowest form of celebrity status. Facebook and smart phones have turned photo ops and celebrity stalking into a fine art. Hand on hip, fish face pouted Facebook pics of stalkers leaning into trapped celebrities may be trophies, but they do not reveal a relationship exists. Warning: They can be used as evidence in court for a restraining order. But I digress.

Paul did not boast in “The name of The Lord Jesus Christ” as some name-dropping stalker seeking borrowed fame. He boasted as a dead man, who had been made alive in Christ.  The boasting of his life was not in how well he had lived, but in the fact that he had died to his own will and to the ways of the world. Look at Paul’s resume. It begins and ends at The Cross.

“The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

With no irreverence intended, I am reminded of the title of an old James Bond movie, “The World is Not Enough.” It never is.

Death to self is not a single event. It is a single-minded, single-hearted passion to put to death anything that cools genuine love for Jesus. Death to self is crucifixion, not suicide. Suicide is full of self. Crucifixion is an emptying of self. At The Cross,  self dies by identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Prayer warriors never forget the nails.

There is no new life in Christ without the crucifixion of self. This death begins the moment a believer is saved, and continues until the believer is called home to Heaven. This kind of death results in the burial of the pride of life, and the lusts of the flesh that seek self-glorification over self-crucifixion.

Note to self: The moment pride raises its head, personal rights demand a defense, or resentment rises over God’s intervention, look to The Cross and pray for forgiveness, and renewed filling of The Spirit, in “The Name of The Lord Jesus Christ.”  Don’t wait 20 seconds. Delayed obedience, only develops intense rationalization. Your walk with God is based on the breath you have in your lungs, not in the good will you have accumulated with Him over the past 40 years. One degree of delayed obedience leads to a way of life that is 100 percent off course.

Over my parents bed is a small wooden triangle. It gives a simple picture of the process of death to self.  At the apex of the triangle is the word, STOP! At the corner on the left is the word, LOOK! On the right is the word, LISTEN! The cross bar holding all this together is marked, PRAY!

STOP! When walking in your own will, and not in God’s way, stop immediately. Moving without dying is wandering. STOP!

LOOK! Walking with the world often looks more appealing than talking with Jesus. When it does, look to The Cross and die to the world. Praying improves your vision of right and wrong.

LISTEN! The Father speaks to His children when they pray to Him in “The Name of The Lord Jesus Christ.” Hearing is improved by dying to self and praying to The Father. Jesus prayed “Not My will, but Thy will be done.” He also said, “Follow Me! Death to self is no more complicated than that.