The Name I

"And fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified." Acts 19:17

The Bible is filled with the admonition to fear God. Those who fear Him find wisdom. In the war zone that surrounded the early church, those who did not embrace Jesus as their Savior were familiar with the power of His name. They saw evil spirits flee at the sound of The Name of Jesus, and they saw hardened criminals and civic leaders, alike, transformed when they submitted to The Lordship of Jesus.

The Name of Jesus was not a mantra to be repeated, or a magic talisman to be worn. The Name of Jesus struck fear in the heart of evil spirits by the close proximity of the relationship Jesus had with The Father. Words mean things, especially when the relationship between cause and effect are very clear. The Son was under the authority of The Father. Even evil spirits knew not to mess with God's authority.

I recall as a child this statement striking fear in my heart. "You just wait until your father gets home." When I heard my exasperated mother speak these words, I knew it was time to pack or to repent. They were not an idle threat of violence, just a statement of fact. There was about to be a new sheriff in town. Being grounded at my house meant you couldn't sit down for a week. But I digress.

Today the contemporary church seeks to live apologetically in a cultural climate that has been influenced by a decades long sense of direction dominated by secularists. Their mission has been to minimize the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not magnify it. For the most part, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

The secularists have campaigned for the removal of Christ from the culture. Too often the church has confused "turning the other cheek" with cratering under the pressure. The result has been the minimization of the name of The Lord Jesus CHRIST, rather than the magnification of Him.

When this cultural climate change takes place it causes darkness to fall across the moral landscape. Virtue vanishes, and darkness reigns. Moving away from The Son causes Global Chilling, not Global Warming.

The removal of CHRISTmas carols from school CHRISTmas programs, crosses from public view, nativity scenes from parks, Ten Commandments from Courthouses, are all a by-product of of secularism. They remove Jesus as the standard and replace Him with themselves. It has been a sorry trade-off.

Rather than being satisfied by success, secularism feeds on it. It can't stop itself until the name of Jesus is merely minimized. He must be annihilated. Jesus warned this would happen.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." MATT. 5:11 NIV

When The Name that is above all names loses reverence in the lives of members of the church, it loses relevance in the life of the culture. The next Great Awakening hinges on the bending of the knees of the people who call Jesus, Savior and Lord. It is not hindered by the people who wish He would just go away.

If you are looking for a climate change, you need look no farther than the prayer meeting of the local church, and the prayer life of the average Christian family. The first response to the crisis at hand by the believer, must begin with the breath that is in their lungs. That is all they have to work with. Delaying praying in the right direction postpones the turning of a nation that is moving in the wrong direction.

Note to self: What are you waiting for? Start praying.

Prior to The First Great Awakening in this nation, America was still a remote idea in the minds of the most fervent of patriots. Thirteen colonies were loosely connected to one another by a strong legal bond to England. There was no national assembly, no national capitol, nor a presiding national leader. The idea of America was solid enough to draw people searching for freedom to establish their homes in a new country. It was not constituted as single nation or protected by a standing army. It was more than that.

The Freedom to Worship was a powerful draw to many who came to this new world. Admittedly, it was not the passion that led everyone to make the sacrifice of such a perilous journey. Still, the local church was a powerful part of the American landscape.

Don't get me wrong. From the very first time believers set foot on this soil, they were always in need of being revived, and restored to a newness of life with every breath they took. They were human. They were flawed. They were not perfect, just forgiven. They made mistakes. Their hope was not in their moral perfection, but in their spiritual sense of direction. They turned to God for His direction, protection and correction.

By the time Benjamin Franklin was a man of means, and a force of nature in the city of Philadelphia, he was aware of a chilling climate change that had crept into his community. He was not a fan of the pastors of the city. Though he was not a believer, Franklin had heard most of them preach. His highest criticism was reserved for those whose words fell upon dull ears in their buildings, but their sermons never made a difference in the street. Here are his words.

"In 1739 arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield...He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refus'd him their pulpits, and he was oblig'd to preach in the fields. The multitudes of all sects and denominations that attended his sermons were enormous, and it was matter of speculation to me, who was one of the number, to observe the extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers, and bow much they admir'd and respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of them, by assuring them that they were naturally half beasts and half devils.

It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem'd as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street." - Ben Franklin's Autobiography

Now, that is a climate change. From a culture that was "thoughtless or indifferent" to The Name of Jesus, people took The Name of Jesus with them back to their own homes. Listen to the impact of the preaching in the lives of the hearers.

"One could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street."
Ben Franklin

The fear of The Name of Jesus has been lost in this culture. It must be restored. The restoration needed in this nation does not call for a nostalgic return to the good old days of The Fifties. For some that brings back memories of "Jim Crow" not James Dean. It doesn't call for canonization of Ronald Reagan. His day is gone. Thank God for him. Stop looking for him.

The renewal calls for a restoration of the fear of God in a people who have called on The Name of Jesus, as their Savior and Lord. It is a renewal of prayer, and personal repentance in their own hearts, and lives.

This renewal begins with a refusal to blame anyone else for the spiritual condition of the land. It is a renewal of personal responsibility and accountability before God for Christian citizenship. It is a renewal of personal passion for churchmanship that lives to serve a risen Savior.

This renewal impacts the culture through people who are not satisfied with taking Jesus into their hearts, but they are driven by The Spirit of God to take the name of Jesus with them to the public square and into their own homes. They are not confused that a restoration comes from a change in the White House. They know the authentic evidence of renewal is a change in their heart and their house.

Motivated and mobilized by the Lordship of Jesus Christ, this renewal infuses courage in pastors to STAND UP! It results in mobilization of people in the pews who refuse to sit idly by, while The Name of Jesus, and The Light of the world is driven from the cultural landscape. The renewal of a nation begins with the breath in your lungs. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!

"O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together." - Psalm 34:3 KJV