May 31, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 182: O Praise His Name

O Praise His Name

"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." (1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV)

A few mornings ago, I got a text from my teenage daughter.

"Look outside!" her message read.

We were both at home, but she was downstairs getting breakfast around, and I was upstairs making the bed. Yelling to me might have awakened her sleeping sister. And say what you will about how technology has been the ruin of face-to-face communication; I'll take this kind of communication from my daughter any way I can get it.

"Look outside!"

I knew right away what she was referring to. I'd already glimpsed the spectacular sunrise painting the sky a swath of pink tinged with orange and swirled with white.

It was glorious.

So glorious, in fact, that it evoked a reaction born into us: to share what is glorious with someone else. To praise it. To draw attention to it. To tell others about it so that its glory is magnified (made bigger) and exalted (made higher) by the telling.

"Praise is prompted by—compelled by—the revelation of something glorious," write Keith & Kristyn Getty in their lovely little book "Sing!" In other words, when we see (the "revelation") something that lifts us beyond the everydayness of earthly life (the "glorious"), we are wired to make a big deal of it (the "praise"). And God's names can help us do this.

When we see a magnificent sunrise, we praise the Creator.

When we hear a beautiful piece of music, we praise the Song.

When we learn that a friend has recovered from an illness or come successfully through a surgery, we praise the Healer.

When we find a solution to a problem that seemed unsolvable, we praise the Way-Maker.

When we're told that someone we love has put their faith in Jesus, we praise the Savior.

"Look outside!" 

I'm going to borrow my daughter's words here and encourage you and myself to do just that. Let's look outside ourselves. Let's look outside our present circumstances. Let's look outside our very real trials (which God very much cares about). 

Let's "look outside"...and praise His name.

O God, we praise Your name. Help me to make it known.

"O praise the name of the Lord our God,
O praise His name forever more.
For endless days we will sing Your praise,
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God."

(From "
O Praise The Name (AnĂ¡stasis);" Hillsong Worship; songwriters Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, Benjamin Hastings;

May 30, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 181: His Name Is Our Refuge

His Name Is Our Refuge

**A Names of God guest post by Shannon Lenz.**

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” Psalm 46: 1-3 

It’s been a struggle all my life. 

Anxious thoughts, worries of worst-case scenarios, the urge to be in constant control. When troubles come, I often try to plan my way through it with plan A, B, and even C. But as I’ve gotten older, my struggle with anxiety has only gotten worse. Despite all my well-laid plans. Despite numerous insurance policies. Despite my hard-working husband’s job. Despite my family’s mostly good health and access to well-respected doctors within our reach. 

Why do I continue to struggle so much even though I have done my due diligence to protect my family and safeguard our future? Because I know it’s not enough. Troubles will still come. And I am powerless to stop them. I want to be in control. But I have come to the end of myself enough to know that I am not in control. Thankfully, I believe that there is a purpose in this life-long struggle of mine. I believe that God is showing me that He is our Refuge. Our only refuge. The only place where we are truly safe. 

My fears are not from Him. But He is using them to draw me to Himself. And when I seek my refuge in Him, I find Him. He is there with me. He is very present. And He shows up to help me through my troubles so many different ways. Our homes are not our refuge. Our country is not our refuge. Our jobs, bank accounts, insurance policies, healthcare systems, and retirement plans are not our refuge. 

Jesus. Our refuge is His name alone.

Oh God, Your name is our refuge. Help me to make it known.

Shannon Lenz is a writer with a passion for studying God’s word. On her blog, Shannon Lenz: My Faith-My Family-My Stories (, she shares what God is teaching her through His word and through her experiences as a wife and mom. Her writing has also been published at Her View From Home. You can find her on Facebook at @ShannonMLenz.

Shannon is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom. When she’s not writing or chasing kids, she’s reading a book or singing (in the car, at the kitchen sink, or with the praise team at church). She makes her home in Giltner, Nebraska with her husband, Stuart, their two small children, Colton and Millie, and their faithful fur-baby, Maverick.

May 29, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 180: We Bear His Name

We Bear His Name

"Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Daniel 9:19 NIV)

You've really got to admire Daniel's boldness. Here's a guy who's basically telling God what to do—and judging by the exclamation points in nearly every English translation of the original Hebrew text, he did it with no small amount of gusto.

Yet Daniel's "request" wasn't self-centered: it was God-centered. He didn't say, "Do this to make me look good!" He said, "Do this to make Yourself look good! Your city and Your people are representing You! It's Your name on our label!"

To "bear" God's name is to put who He is out there, to show it off. I think it's a little (keyword: "little") like wearing a shirt emblazoned with the name and logo of a favorite sports team; we're putting the name of that team out there and showing it off, and we want that team to back us up by showing its skill and superiority.

With full reverence and respect for who God is and who we are (and aren't), I believe we can follow Daniel's bold example and ask God to move in our lives in accordance with His name—which we bear—and for its sake.

Lord! We bear your name Yahweh-Shalom! Please use us as peace-makers!

Lord! We bear Your name Holy One! Please set us apart for Your use!

Lord! We bear Your name The One Who Lifts Up My Head! Please help us to lift others up today!

Lord! We bear Your name El Roi! Help us to truly see those You love as you see them!

Oh God, we bear Your name. Help me to make it known.

May 28, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 179: For the Sake of His Name

For the Sake of His Name

"But you, Sovereign LORD, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me." (Psalm 109:21 NIV)

God has a well-stocked tool kit at His divine disposal when He wants to get our attention in His Word. The whole of God's great love letter is right, true, and for our instruction. But when God says something over and over, it's the Sovereign Lord's equivalent of "I've said it once and I'll say it again...." 

We would do well to listen up.

A quick search of Bible verses with the keywords "name" and "sake" turned up 20 results straight away...which tells me there's something about "for His name's sake" that God doesn't want us to miss.

We are image-bearers of God: we are made in His likeness, and one of our jobs on this planet is to make the One whose image we bear look good. He IS good (and great), of course; our task is to represent that goodness faithfully so that people who cannot see God in the flesh can see Him in our flesh.

God wants His name—His character, His nature, His cause—represented well, not because He's on some kind of ego trip but because He knows that to know His name is to know Him and to know Him is to find satisfaction for a place in our souls that cannot be filled up any other way.

God does what He does for us to show who He is in us. For the reputation of His name. For the proof of His name. For the sake of His name.

For the sake of His name Yahweh-Raah: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalm 23:1-3).

For the sake of His names Rock and Fortress: "Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me" (Psalm 31:3).

For the sake of His name Deliverer: "Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake" (Psalm 79:9).

For the sake of His name Spirit of Power: "Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known" (Psalm 106:8).

For the sake of His name Sustainer: "For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely" (Isaiah 48:9).

Oh God, You do what You do for the sake of Your name. Help me to make it known.

May 27, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 178: His Name Is Our Hope in the Shadows

His Name Is Our Hope In The Shadows

"In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21 NIV)

I love to see God take what's bad and use it for good. This is God in His role as Redeemer, when He buys what is imprisoned out of captivity and frees it for His purposes.

The aspect of God's name we're visiting on our sidetrip today paints shadows in dark and suspicious hues, and James 1:17 echoes this: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

But once redeemed by God, shadows become places of safety and refuge: "Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings" (Psalm 63:7 (NIV)).

God doesn't just offer an alternative to the shadow; He buys it out of darkness and brings it into the light of His name's hope.

Shadows shift, but hope in the Rock is steady.
Shadows hide, but hope in the Sun reveals.
Shadows distort, but hope in the Truth clarifies.
Shadows trick, but hope in the Guide leads.

Oh, God, Your name is our hope in the shadows. Help me to make it known.

"You're my hope, in the shadows,
My strength, in the battle,
My anchor, for all my days."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 26, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 177: His Name Breaks the Silence

His Name Breaks the Silence

"Unless Yahweh had been my help, My soul would have soon lived in silence." (Psalm 94:17 WEB)

Jesus—the Word—knew when to be silent and when to speak.

With the teachers of the law and the woman caught in adultery, He was silent...then spoke words that sealed the accusers' mouths: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7).

Before the Sanhedrin, He was silent...then spoke words that sealed His fate: "I am" (Mark 14:62).

On the cross, He was silent...then spoke words that sealed the deal: "It is finished" (John 19:30).

God's name, spoken in due season, breaks the silences of our lives.

The Joy-Giver breaks the silence of mourning.
The Victor breaks the silence of defeat.
The Friend breaks the silence of loneliness.
The Builder breaks the silence of destruction.
The Judge breaks the silence of injustice.

Oh God, Your name breaks the silence. Help me to make it known.

"Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me.
Jesus, Yours is the victory."

(From "Living Hope;" Phil Wickham; songwriters Phil Wickham, Brian Mark Johnson;

May 25, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 176: His Name Reminds and Renews

His Name Reminds and Renews

"Look to the LORD and to his strength. Always look to him. Remember the wonderful things he has done." (1 Chronicles 16:11-12a NIRV)

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2 NLT)

The human mind has been called a battlefield, and oh my YES, do I feel like I wage war on it. Every. Single. Day.

It seems like I’m always fighting my mind: fighting to think about things above, not earthly things; fighting to not think about “that thing” I’ve already thought about ENOUGH ALREADY, for crying out loud; fighting to think about others instead of myself.

I know I need to renew my mind. I know I need to reprogram and redirect it.

At the risk of stating the obvious, "new" is a big part of renewing our minds: our minds need to go somewhere new, think of something new, take a new path.

I understand all this, but so often my mind gets stuck on the old: old thoughts, old patterns, old worries, old regrets. Still, there is at least one aspect of the "old" that can help me renew my mind: remembering what God has done. The prayers He has said "yes" to; the prayers He said "no" to that turned out to be a greater "yes" in disguise; the things He has provided; His faithfulness.

We act on what we remember, so when I direct my mind to recount the works of God in my life in the past, it encourages me to act in confident expectation of what He will do in the present and future.

The Alpha and Omega is God of the old and of the new. He is God of then and of now. He is God of what has been and what will be. When I intentionally turn my mind back to what He has already done, my hope for what He will do is fed.

Even knowing this, though, my mind sometimes draws a blank when I'm trying to recall God's past wonders. (My mind is, in fact, quite prone to drawing blanks.) But look: here comes God's name to the rescue again, filling in those mental spaces and renewing my mind in the process.

I remember the seas the God Who Makes a Way has parted.
I remember the victories the God of Battle has won for me.
I remember when my mind and spirit have heard from the God Who Speaks.
I remember the times the God of Letting Go has unclenched my fists.
I remember nights of grief visited by the God of Mourning.
I remember being broken by the God Who Breaks.
I remember being put back together by the God Who Mends.

We can choose to remember what God has already done. We can choose to be hopeful about what He's going to do. And in the choosing, our minds are renewed.

Oh God, Your name reminds and renews. Help me to make it known.

May 24, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 175: His Name Is Our Saving Grace

His Name Is Our Saving Grace

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Of all the things God's grace has saved me from, the greatest has been from myself.

From my nature.
From my habits.
From my presets.
From my faults.
From my defaults.

It's not that all this is junk to God; He made us as we are, with emotions and nuances and personalities and "quirks"—and what He makes is perfect. But we wade into sin and muddy God's clear waters, and so we need the saving grace of God's name to lift us out of the muck and mire and take us from where we are to where God wants us to be.

The grace of the One and Only saves me from my divided heart.
The grace of the Yahweh-Tsidkenu saves me from my unrighteousness.
The grace of the Spirit of Wisdom saves me from my foolishness.
The grace of the Faithful God saves me from my unfaithfulness.
The grace of the God of Passion saves me from my indifference.

I'm so thankful that, by God's grace, I'm not who I used to be. And I'm so hopeful that, by God's grace, I'm not who I'm going to be.

Oh God, Your name is our saving grace. Help me to make it known.

"You're my helper, my healer,
My blessed redeemer,
My answer, my saving grace."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 23, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 174: His Names Tell His Story

His Names Tell His Story

"Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south." (Psalm 107:2,3 NIV)

A few months ago, my younger daughter and I went to see a play. It was a well-known classic, but we'd never seen it before and didn't really know what it was about. Afterwards, my daughter asked what I was also wondering: "what, exactly, WAS that about?"

My high-schooler is a conscientious English student and knows any good story is supposed to include certain elements, among them a problem that needs to be solved and a climactic turning point in the plot. We couldn't find either in the play we'd just seen. (But we did have a good time together and have laughed about the play's lack of storyline ever since, which any parent of a teenager will tell you are both worth the cost of a ticket and then some.)

God's story, though, suffers from no such deficits. His story is like its Author: complete. And it is woven together with threads of His names.

God's story has a cast of leading characters: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

It has secondary characters: the Creator's creations.

It has a problem that needs to be solved: our sin and the way it breaks our relationship with the Holy One.

It has a hero: Jesus.

It has many climactic turning points: when Emmanuel arrives on earth; when the Lamb of God declares, "It is finished;" when the tomb is empty because the Victor has defeated death; when the Risen Christ, mistakenly believed by Mary to be a gardener, speaks her name and in one word undoes all that sorrow has done.

And God's story—oh the joy of it—has a happy ending that's really just the happiest of all beginnings: when the Faithful and True—His eyes blazing, His head crowned, and all of heaven's armies behind Him—rides in on His white horse and defeats the enemy once and for all (Revelation 19). For all who wait in faith. For all who hope in faith. For all who believe in faith.

Dear ones, God, who knows the beginning from the end, has written the whole of His story. But we still have reading to do. In His story, we find our stories. And as we turn each new page, we have a call to carry out: "let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story."

Oh God, Your names tell Your story. Help me to make it known.

"You're my author, my maker,
My ransom, my Saviour,
My refuge, my hiding place.
You're my helper, my healer,
My blessed redeemer,
My answer, my saving grace."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 22, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 173: His Name Is Our Answer

His Name Is Our Answer

"Lord, I wait for you to help me. LORD my God, I know you will answer." (Psalm 38:15 NIRV)

"Where are you?"

This is the first question the Creator asks of His creation.

"Where are you?" God asks Adam and Eve who, having fallen into sin after the serpent's baiting question—"Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?"—have gone into hiding.

"Where are you?"

God the Father knows full well where Adam and Eve are, of course, but He uses the question to lead them to realize where they are in relation to Him. God the Son followed Abba's lead during His earthly ministry, asking questions that led people to realize where they were in relation to Him.

Jesus asked Peter a question: “'But what about you? Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'God’s Messiah'" (Luke 9:20).

Jesus asked the woman at the well a question: "Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. ) Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.' The woman said, 'I know that Messiah' (called Christ) 'is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.' Then Jesus declared, 'I, the one speaking to you—I am he'"(John 4:7,9,10,25,26).

Jesus asked Mary a question: "'Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means 'Teacher'). Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 'I have seen the Lord!'" (
John 20:15-18).

We have our own questions for God, and here, too, He uses His answers to lead us to realize where we are in relation to Him.

"Why is this happening?" we ask Him. 
"So that the works of God might be displayed," He answers us (John 9:3).

"When is this going to happen? Who will make it happen?" we ask Him.
"At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen," He answers us (Isaiah 60:22).

"How is this going to happen?" we ask Him.
“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?" He answers us (Jeremiah 32:27).

I believe God invites our inquires. I believe He welcomes them because, in our questions, we find Him to be the Answer.

Oh God, Your name is our answer. Help me to make it known.

"You're my helper, my healer,
My blessed redeemer,
My answer, my saving grace."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 21, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 172: His Name Is Our Anchor

His Name Is Our Anchor

"God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls." (Hebrew 6:18,19a NLT)

My husband, daughters, and I are blessed to have access to a family cottage just a couple hours north of our house on a lovely little lake called Loon. 

The lake is just big enough for boating, tubing, and jet-skiing but not big enough to be flashy or crowded. My daughters enjoy whiling away lazy summer days on the water, lounging on inflatable floats they've tethered to an anchored raft so that they don't close their eyes and wake up on the other side of the lake.

Beloved, God is our Anchor, and His names tether us to Him. 

On my own, I'm prone to drift on the lake of my mind and emotions away from my Anchor, but God's names gently tug me back to Him.

When we're drifting away toward hopelessness, the God of Hope anchors us in confident expectation that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

When we're drifting away toward confusion, the Divine Leader anchors us in clarity and wisdom.

When we're drifting away toward weakness, the Spirit of Power anchors us in strength beyond ourselves.

When we're drifting away toward exhaustion, the Quieter of His People anchors us in His rest.

If you feel yourself drifting from God today, I pray you'll drop an anchor deep into the waters of His name and let it tether your mind and your soul to Him today.

Oh God, Your name is our anchor. Help me to make it known.

"You're my hope, in the shadows,
My strength, in the battle,
My anchor, for all my days.
You are worthy,
You are worthy of Your Name.
Yes You are worthy,
You are worthy of Your Name."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 20, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 171: He Is Worthy Of His Name

He Is Worthy Of His Name

"Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth." (Psalm 48:1,10a NIV)

I've been waiting a long time to share with you what I'm calling the "theme song" for our final week of this Names of God side trip.

"Worthy Of Your Name," by Passion ( was kindly shared with me many months ago by one of my dear "noggin" friends, and I've been holding it in reserve for just the right day ever since.

I was thinking about how sometimes a company will say it has been working to develop a new product "worthy" of the name of that company, which is to say that it represents who the company is and what it stands for.

God's "products" are unquestionably worthy of His name.

His creation is worthy of the Creator.
His redemption is worthy of the Redeemer.
His salvation is worthy of the Savior.

Of course, God is worthy of all His names, because He is worthy—period.

How can we, as believers, be worthy of His name? How can we be "products" worthy of our Maker? 

How can I be a servant worthy of my Master?
How can I be a singer worthy of my Song?
How can I be a bride worthy of my Bridegroom?

Oh, God, You are worthy of Your name. Help me to make it known.

"You are worthy of Your Name, 
Yes You are worthy. 
You are worthy of Your Name,
Yes You are worthy."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 19, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 170: He Is Faithful To His Name

He Is Faithful To His Name

"I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name." (Psalm 138:2b NLT)

“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.’ " (Ruth 1:8 NIV)

We're leading off with two verses today because I think both are needed to introduce one of the most beautiful aspects of God's name. 

At the moment, our NOG journey is taking us into the book of Ruth and to another actual journey: that of Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, back to her homeland. The idea of a journey is a central theme in Ruth and take-away for us, because we, too, are all going somewhere. If we have put our faith in Jesus, we are journeying toward heaven. And on the way, we need to both give and get something else that’s a repeated refrain in the “song” of Ruth: "hesed."

My spell-check didn’t like that word, probably because it’s not set up to recognize Hebrew, but I promise you this is a gorgeous term that you’re going to want to make your word-of-the-day. In our English translations, the Hebrew word hesed is translated “kindness,” as in Ruth 1:8. Hesed does carry the idea of kindness, but it’s so much more multifaceted than that. In "The New American Commentary," Daniel I. Block describes hesed as “a strong relational term that wraps up in itself an entire cluster of concepts—love, mercy, grace, kindness, goodness, benevolence, loyalty, covenant faithfulness: in short, that quality that moves a person to act for the benefit of another without respect to the advantage it might bring to the one who expresses it.”

Is it just me, or does that list of concepts wrapped up in hesed read a lot like a list of qualities reflected by God's names? And of course, it would: God's name tells who He is, and He is faithful to His name because He cannot be other than who He is.

Ruth repeatedly shows hesed to Naomi. And later (teaser alert), someone else will show hesed to Ruth. But back to our journeys: who needs your hesed today? I have a feeling a few of them live in your house or show up at your workplace or sit next to you in church. If you’re thinking that showing this kind of loving-kindness is beyond you, you’re right: it’s beyond all of us, but it’s not beyond God. In fact, it’s Who His name says He is, and He’s waiting to lavish it on us so extravagantly that it fills us up and oozes out of us and lands on the people He has called us to love and serve.

Oh God, You are faithful to Your name. Help me to make it known.

May 18, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 169: He Knows Your Name

He Knows Your Name

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.'" (Exodus 33:17 ESV)

There's a scene in one of my favorite movies where the main character—the fictional President of the United States—is walking along an outdoor passageway at the White House with an aide when he's greeted by a gardener. 

"Good morning, Mr. President!" the man calls. The President's aide quickly and discretely supplies the gardener's name, and the President returns the greeting, "Morning, Charlie!"

No doubt, "Charlie" knew the Commander-in-Chief had been cued on his name, but there was still power in the use of it. The point was not that the President didn't know the name of every member of his staff but rather that he understood the dignity-affirming importance of calling someone by their name.

The Commander-in-Chief of the universe calls us by our names, but He doesn't need to be cued by any aide. "I know you by name," He told Moses, and He says the same to us. And not only does He know our names, He knows who we truly are. And not only does He know our names and who we are, He loves us as we are. And not only does He know our names and know who we are and love us as we are, He loves us so much that He moves us from who we are to who He wants us to become. 

And when we get there, He gives us new names.

Hannah was called barren, but God gave her a new name: "mother" (1 Samuel 1:19,20).

The woman who anointed Jesus' feet with expensive perfume was called a sinner, but God gave her a new name: "forgiven" (Luke 7:36-50).

The thief on the cross was called condemned, but God gave him a new name: "saved" (Luke 23:39-43).

Maybe we know ourselves (or are known by others) by names like failure or sinner or outcast. But God looks at us and says, "I know your name, and it isn't any of those. Your name is 'child.' Your name is 'beloved.' And your name is 'mine.'"

Oh God, you know my name. Help me to make Yours known.

May 17, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 168: Remember His Name

Remember His Name

"In the night, LORD, I remember your name, that I may keep your law." (Psalm 119:55 NIV)

I have a love-hate relationship with the reminder feature on my cell phone. 

On the one hand, I love that when I think of something I need to keep on my mental radar, I can just type a couple words into my phone, set an alarm, and be on my way without having to round up a sticky note and figure out where to put it so that I'll actually see it. 

On the other hand, I hate how bossy the reminders are. I'm prone to yelling "WHAT??!!" when they go off. Even though that's their function and even thought that's what I have, in fact, requested of them. The reminders annoy me because they tell me I need to DO something. I need to take action. Which is exactly the point of "remembering" God's name, because the Hebrew word translated "remember" in the Old Testament often indicates not only the mental act of recalling information but also behavior born out of that information. 

To "remember" God's name is not only to acknowledge it but to act on it.

The Psalmist confirms this way of thinking: in verse 55 of the longest chapter in the Bible, he doesn't stop at saying He remembers God's name in the night, as if it just gives him something to do other than count sheep if he's having trouble sleeping. Instead, with one intentional word—"that"—he moves on to what he plans to do during the day with what he recalls in the night: keep God's law.

Maybe the reminder I need to set on my phone—with a repeat of "daily" and an end repeat of "never"—is, "Remember God's name. Then do something about it."

In the night, I remember that God's name is Yahweh-Shalom..."that" in the day I might respond as a peacemaker by not saying something that would only add to an argument without taking it anywhere worthwhile.

In the night, I remember that God's name is Provider..."that" in the day I might respond by helping someone in need.

In the night, I remember that God's name is Alpha and Omega..."that" in the day I might respond by beginning something that will draw me closer to God and ending something that's pulling me away from Him. 

In the night, I remember that God's name is Love..."that" in the day I might respond by telling my family I love them in their preferred love language, even if—especially if—it's not my native tongue.

Oh, God, I remember Your name. Help me to make it known.

May 16, 2019

Learning to Let Go: A Journey Into Parenting, Foster Care, and Adoption

Of all the things I've shared on this blog, this post may mean the most to me. Our extended family is the complete package it is because of foster care and adoption. It is my great honor to share my sister's words and her family's story, not only because it is a beautiful true tale, but because God's purpose to "set the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6) is a story we can all help write.

“We know you were wanting a school-aged child, but we have a five-day-old baby girl that needs a foster family. Can you take her?” 

With that one question, our family was changed forever. 

I sensed back in college that adoption and foster care were going to be an important part of my life. I told my husband, who I was dating at the time, that I could picture growing my future family in this way. He readily agreed that it was a great idea…mainly because he agreed with most everything I said at that point. He was trying to win my heart, after all.

Fast forward ten years into our marriage. We’d recently had our third child. I reminded my husband, “Remember back in college when I said that I wanted to grow our family through adoption? Now is the time.” He readily agreed that it was still a great idea but was uncertain if it was the right idea for our family at that particular time. He asked that I give him some time to pray about moving forward with this plan. So, I waited—which I am not particularly good at doing. But I knew that being united in this decision was critically important. I knew that if this was the right time, God would give us the same passion for pursuing this calling.

During this time of waiting and prayer, my husband’s beloved grandmother, “Ma,” passed away. Upon learning of her death, one of the first thoughts that came to my husband’s mind was the fact that Ma had been adopted out of foster care when she was eight years old. He realized in that moment that if her adoptive parents had not stepped forward to become her family when she needed one, his own life may have never come to be. This was the confirmation he needed for us to move forward.

“Can you take her?” 

This was the call I had literally been thinking and praying about for 15 years. Yet, it was a very different call than I had originally envisioned. At the beginning of this journey, I had a set picture in my mind that we would adopt a school-aged boy. This made the most sense to me in terms of a good fit for our family. I also was convinced that we should only pursue adoption, not foster care. I was certain that “just” fostering a child would be too difficult and disruptive to our family. But, as God often does, He began to slowly pry that idea from my clenched fist and help me to open my hands in an act of surrender to His plan and purposes, not my own.

Less than 24 hours after saying yes to this question, a social worker showed up at our house with a tiny baby girl. 

"I'll never forget the day it all changed for me. My greatest fear, like so many others who are considering venturing down the beautiful yet tumultuous path of foster care, was not whether or not I could love a child that was not my own but whether or not I could handle letting a child go that I have grown to love as my own” (Jason Johnson). 

As we settled into the routine of caring for a newborn, questions began to pervade my thoughts and conversations. “How will you ever let her go?” was the one that dominated both. My answer was always the same. “I have no idea.” But, I did know that God, who had faithfully led us to this place of fostering, would not abandon us if and when the time came for us to say goodbye. I sensed God comforting me with His presence and saying to me, “I know.”

I began to realize that the sense of control I had about parenting my biological children was really an illusion. Yes, there was more known biology and family history, but the truth is that the path of parenting—whether of biological, foster, or adopted children—is a dimly lit one. I believe that is by God’s design. He wants me to daily rely on Him for the strength, wisdom, and courage I need to love my children well. This realization freed me to love this little girl fully. Yes, I knew that my heart would be broken if she left our family, but I also felt privileged that we got to be a part of her story, even if just for a short time.

Our story with this baby continues. She just turned five a couple months ago and is now our beloved daughter. This is an unexpected gift to our family and certainly not the typical ending of a foster care journey. We still walk on that dimly lit path as we try to understand her needs and as new questions threaten to take over my thoughts.

Yet, I’m beginning to see that foster care, adoption, parenting—and life in general—are full of beauty and brokenness…often all at the same time.  

Missy Murchie and her husband, Mike, live in Richmond, Virginia, with their four children (ages 5, 10, 12, 14). She serves with the Forgotten No More ministry at Third Church, where they seek to respond to God's call to care for the needs of those who have been forgotten: orphans, birth mothers, broken families, foster children, foster families, and social workers.

How can
you respond to this call? There are many ways to care! Attend an information session with a local adoption or foster care agency in your area. Wrap around a foster/adoptive family by providing meals or childcare. Support your local Department of Social Services by taking lunch to their workers or hosting a Foster Parent Night out at your church. Everyone can be a part of God's redemptive story for his children.

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 167: His Name Endures

His Name Endures

"Your name, O LORD, endures forever; your fame, O LORD, is known to every generation." (Psalm 135:13 NLT)

Every so often, God puts a piece of His Word on our radar, and it stops us in our Bible study tracks and sits us down spiritually.

At least, that was what happened to me the first time I read this passage from Jeremiah 2:13 (NLT): "My people have done two evil things; they have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all."

I imagine the original hearers and readers of this Scripture would have understood the gravity of what God's people had done in a way we don't, because they would have understood the value of easily accessible water in a way most of us are fortunate to be unacquainted with. To "abandon" a good spring—a reliable source of clean, fresh water—and then to compound this folly by digging cisterns that would allow this essential of daily life to drain away would have been horrifying. 

But there is something far deeper here that grieves God's loving heart. Do you see it? "They have dug FOR THEMSELVES..." To access the Living Water, all God's children had to do was humbly trust Him, show up, and drink. But instead, they walked away from that fountain and tried to control their own provision.

Lest we think this does not apply to us, we see that we do the same thing. Instead of drinking deep from the fountain of God's name, which endures forever, I'm prone to abandon it and to try on my own strength to just collect a trickle of God in a defective vessel that wouldn't even hold a shallow, stagnant puddle. 

I settle for a few notes instead of the whole Song. I settle for a few pebbles instead of the Cornerstone. I settle for a few crumbs instead of the Bread of Life.

And yet: the fountain of His name endures. It never runs dry. The Living Water keeps beckoning, "Come thirsty. Drink deep. Be filled. Pour Me out onto others. Then come back and be filled again."

Oh God, Your name endures. Help me to make it known.

May 15, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 166: His Name Is Our Song

His Name Is Our Song

"Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD—rejoice in his presence!" (Psalm 68:4 NLT)

One of my favorite moments as a mom is when my younger daughter and I are riding in the car and she says to me, "I have a new song I want you to hear."

My daughter is a fan of good worship music, so I usually love the songs she plays for me. 

(I do feel, however, that it is only honest to mention that more of our car rides feature conversations on such topics as her killer online Spanish III class, whether or not she should stay in marching band, and the maddening complexities of teenage-girl skincare. All of which makes me appreciate the "new song" moments even more.)

"New" is a big theme in God's story, so it should come as no surprise that when we trust Him for a changed life, He also changes our song: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry…He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" (Psalm 40:1,3a).

The song of the saved is not new because it’s unfamiliar; it's new because it's unlike the songs we sang before. Think of how we say that someone is "whistling a different tune." When we come to know the One who rides the clouds, our hearts are tuned to sing His grace—and so we sing a different song.

Once in a while, though, we get stuck singing the old songs—songs of regret or guilt or shame. To be sure, there is a time for songs of lament and repentance. But when God calls us to give up a song, it’s because it’s time to sing a new one.

Here, as in so many places we have to go in faith, we sometimes have to do before we feel. Sometimes, we have to sing a new song with our minds, lips, and voices even though our hearts aren’t in it yet. But when, in the singing, our hearts catch up, we find it is not only our song that’s new.

Oh God, Your name is our song. Help me to make it known.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *
Song suggestion: "Come Thou Fount;" Page CXVI; original words by Robert Robinson; original tune Traditional American melody;

May 14, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 165: His Name Goes Before Us

His Name Goes Before Us

"The LORD replied, 'I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you.'" (Exodus 33:19a NLT)

I'm so glad God picked Moses to be the human hands, feet, and voice of one of His earliest rescue and redemption plans. Here's a guy who, at the end of his life, was literally given a Divine burial (Deuteronomy 34:6), yet he started out as the unlikeliest hero, giving the rest of us hope that we, too, can be used by God in spite of ourselves. 

Take, for example, the conversation between God and Moses that culminates in Exodus 33:19. God has been telling Moses to lead His people to the promised land, and Moses finally says, essentially, "You've been telling me to do this, but you haven't told me who's going to go with me! I need You to come along; otherwise, how will everyone know that we're Your chosen ones?" And God essentially says, "Alright...I will."

The Great I AM is God of the now and of the next. He's present with us in our todays, but at the same time, He's always taking us someplace else tomorrow. 

He doesn't do this just for the sake of dragging us outside our comfort zones; when He moves us, it's always because He has something better up ahead. Neither does He just point us in the general direction of the next thing and tell us, "Okay, get going." Instead, His goodness and His name lead the way.

"But God," we say to Him, "it's uncomfortable."
"I know," He tells us, "but I am the Comforter."

"But God, I can't see where I'm going."
"I know," He tells us, "but I am the Lamp."

"But God, I'm tired."
"I know," He tells us, "but I am your Strength."

"But God..."
"I know," He tells us. "But I AM."

Oh God, Your name goes before us. Help me to make it known.

May 13, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 164: His Name Speaks

His Name Speaks

"My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever." (Psalm 145:21 NIV)

At the beginning of each new season of the women's Bible study I'm privileged to facilitate, I make the same little speech about verbal participation. I tell my ladies they are welcome to speak up but that they should not feel any pressure to do so, because if they don't, there are plenty of us who are "gifted" at speaking who will fill in the gaps. 

And by "us," I mean "me."

Those who know me well (okay, fine: at all) know I can talk at the drop of a hat and that I can keep talking until all the hats have dropped.

Because I know this about myself, two of my favorite Bible verses are Proverbs 10:19a (MSG)—"The more talk, the less truth"—and Isaiah 50:4 (NIV)—"The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary."

I've run across several acronyms that can help evaluate if something is worth saying—whether verbally or in a text, email, or social media post. But the other day, God seemed to impress a particular word filter on my mind: d
o my words have the right "hue"?

H ~ Are my words honest? I'm not talking about "brutal" honesty here. I'm not talking about steamrolling over someone's feelings. I'm talking about being candid about my own messes and the rough edges of my life. Again and again, I've seen how people respond to this kind of honesty, because their lives are messy and rough-edged, too.

U ~ Are my words useful? Are they informative, instructive, clarifying, or practical? Do they serve some good purpose, or am I just saying (or typing) them to take up space?

E ~ Are my words encouraging? Will they build someone up? Will they show them they're not alone? Will they give hope? I think of the line from the song "Home on the Range": "Seldom is heard a discouraging word...." I want to do my part to make a twist on this true: "often is heard an encouraging word."

Oh God, Your name speaks. Help me to make it known.

May 12, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 163: His Name Is Near

His Name Is Near

"We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near. People tell about Your wonderful works." (Psalm 75:1 CSB)

A few months ago, I was up in the middle of the night, not feeling well. I was alone because I'm a big girl and can take care of myself, but while I was in the throes of misery, I kept whimpering, "I want my mom." 

I'm almost 50 years old, for goodness sake. There was nothing I really needed my mom to do. My distress would only have distressed her, and I would not have wanted that. But for many of us, there's just nothing quite like the comfort of having our moms near us when we're feeling puny. 

In the middle-of-the-nights of our lives, God's name is near. 

In the middle of the night of uncertainty, I AM is near.
In the middle of the night of loneliness, our Friend is near.
In the middle of the night of persecution, our Advocate is near.
In the middle of the night of broken promises, the Covenant Keeper is near.
In the middle of the night of numbness, the God of Passion is near.

And when, in those nights—on our knees or doubled over in agony—we whimper, "I want you, God," our perfect Parent gently answers, "I'm here. I never left."

Oh God, Your name is near. Help me to make it known.

May 11, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 162: His Name Is Victorious

His Name Is Victorious

"Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes." (Psalm 44:5 NLT)

Are you hobbling a little bit today? 

Maybe not literally, physically—although that's certainly possible. But more to the point, emotionally, mentally, spiritually?

In Genesis 3, when God is telling the serpent what will become of him after he has tempted Adam and Eve and led them into sin, God gives a glimpse of what Jesus will do one day. (Don't you love this? The Author is foreshadowing the story He has written.) He tells the enemy, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15).

Such a thrilling contrast is spelled out here between what the enemy can do and what God will do. The enemy can have power, for a time, to nip us in the heel. He may make it hard for us to keeping walking the way of faith. We may be slowed down. We may limp. Our steps may be uneven. But look what is coming for him: his head—his head!— will be crushed. Crushed! A heel for a head. We may be hobbled by our adversary temporarily, but he will be destroyed permanently. Triumph through the power of the Name that tramples every foe will be ours. 

Keep your eyes on the finish line today, my friends. Hold on tight to the promise that one day, your enemy's head will be crushed and that you will receive on your own head the crown of life God promises to those who trust in His victory-giving name.

Oh God, Your name is victorious. Help me to make it known.

May 10, 2019

365 Days of the Names of God, Day 161: His Name Is To Be Worshiped

His Name Is To Be Worshiped

"Give to the LORD, the glory due to his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 29:2 WBT)

For all of the part of my life that I can r
emember, I’ve been singing.

I sang in a community children’s chorus in junior high, in every choral group my high school had, and in two college choirs.

But all my life, most of my singing has been done in the sanctuary. In church. In worship.

I sang in church choirs and in the congregation and for “Ministry in Music.”

When my husband and I were newlyweds, the pastor of our small country church asked if we would lead worship on a rotating basis. We said yes with no small amount of fear and trepidation…and led several times a year for a month at a time for the better part of 20 years.

Then our church hired a minister of youth and worship. We were dismissed as volunteer worship leaders and were instead invited to be members of a newly formed worship team. We had input, but not oversight. We were participants, but we were not in charge.

And frankly, I was mad. I was angry at being released without being asked if that was what we wanted. I was hurt that we were not even thanked for our service. I was bitter about the new order of things. (I'm not saying I was right in any of this, only that this is how I was.)

So I withdrew. I withheld my voice and my heart. I stewed and simmered and generally cooked up an internal turmoil that served no one except myself.

Eventually, God began to deal with me. Gently, firmly, wisely.

“Elizabeth,” I sensed Him saying to my mind and heart. “Will you worship Me no matter what? Will you give my name the glory it deserves, no matter what?”

Will I worship God—Abba, Yahweh, I AM—no matter what? Will I, as many versions of Psalm 29:2 put it, "ascribe" to God—give Him credit for, recognize Him for—the fame and attention His name is owed?

Now we are again in transition with worship at our little country church. Our minister of youth and worship went to a nearby church in need of a senior pastor. Our church has its own new senior pastor. I'm part of a team that works together to facilitate worship for our particular branch of the body of Christ from week to week.

God has shown and continues to show me what the worship of His name is...and what it isn't.

Worship is not dependent on staff, circumstances, or setting.

Worship is not just about singing.

Worship is not something I can choose to do only when I feel like it.

Worship is not about me or what I like or whether or not I feel pleased and satisfied.

Worship is about Who God is and how He wants me to respond to Who He is.

Worship is about reminding myself that He is God…and I am not. (A very good thing indeed.)

Worship is a sacrifice I make to God in humility and out of gratitude for what He has done for me.

Worship is a choice.

Worship is deliberately entering into the presence of God and being awed by Who I find there.

Worship is what I am created to do, and it is for the pleasure of my Creator.

Oh God, Your name is to be worshiped. Help me to make it known.