666,666 and The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

This isn’t really some horrible warning about the end times, but it is the celebration of a personal mile-marker in my blogging journey: passing the 666,666 view mark and finding inspiration in The Boys in the Boat. It all started (Summer Setting) back in 2008, and it took four years before my posts had been viewed 100,000 times. In the next two years, by the end of 2014, Summer Setting had been viewed over 250,000 times. Over the next three years, that number doubled to over 500,000 times. About then, life seemed to speed up rather than slow down, and instead of posting daily, I found it maximally challenging to prepare just five times a week. The lesser output definitely affected the number of visitors, but this past weekend, I passed the 666,666 mile mark: two-thirds of a million views of my blog!

This number does not reflect those people who are “followers” and get my posts sent directly to their email inbox address, so it may be that Summer Setting has been viewed more than a million times already, but somewhere deep in my heart I keep feeling the desire to keep posting, at least until I’ve reached a million views. (I’d like to say “reached a million people,” but I have no way of figuring out how many “discreet” [different, unique] visitors are viewing Summer Setting.) That may take me until I’m 75, or it may take until I’m 90, or I may die before I ever reach that goal, but however long it takes, I will definitely keep trying until I become incapable or I believe the Lord wants me to do something else.

Boys rowing in preparation for the 1936 Olympics

Please don’t be critical of me for being a “numbers” person. Life is not about numbers, it’s about loving God and loving others. It’s about serving God and trying to reach out to others with the love of God in whatever way we can. Dreams and goals are only worth pursuing if they are God-inspired, for his glory and our good . . . or at least, that’s what I believe. Nevertheless, I think dreams and goals can be good for us. They challenge us to keep going when we’re just tired enough to want to quit, and they help us focus when the ubiquitous attractions and distractions all around us might otherwise derail us. (Or, should I say deboat us? 🙂 )

One perfect example of this is found in a book I just finished, The Boys in the Boat, which is a fabulous non-fiction account of the young men from Washington State who set their hearts on winning a gold metal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The book is powerful and inspirational. A movie version is in production right now, with Kenneth Branaugh directing, and I can hardly wait for it to come out!

The story was especially thrilling to me, because it is a story from my parents’ generation! In fact, my mother and uncle spent their summers working to help build the Hoover Dam during the same year several of these young men were there! (Well, my mother worked as a waitress, serving food to the guys who were hanging over the side of the cliff chipping away at granite with jack hammers.) It’s also a story of gut-wrenching difficulty to overcome human limitations in order to reach a worthy goal. My mom lived on skim milk and bread at times in order to survive college during the Great Depression. Goals are good. Hard work is good. Survival is good. Success is profoundly satisfying!

Have you heard about the Olympic runner, Eric Liddell (who won a gold metal at the 1924 summer Olympics in Paris)? God infuses us with abilities and gives us purpose. He also wants us to give everything we can muster to achieve “my utmost for His highest” (as Oswald Chambers wrote).

So, whatever abilities God has given us—whether it’s writing or rowing or running or something else—let’s use those gifts and give it everything we’ve got to accomplish whatever goal God puts in our hearts! Ready to race?!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

In Memorial: Lest We Forget

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” —G.K. Chesterton

“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.”—Mary Roach

Normandy Beach

 “On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live.” —Eric Burdon

 “Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.”—James Bryce

“137 years later, Memorial Day remains one of America’s most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed-it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.” —Doc Hastings

 “Over all our happy country—over all our Nation spread,
Is a band of noble heroes—is our Army of the Dead.” —Will Carleton

“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust,
their courage nerves a thousand living men.”—Minot J. Savage

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy
forget in time that men have died to win them.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt

“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom
unless he be vigilant in its preservation.”—General Douglas MacArthur

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” —John F. Kennedy

 “There is nothing wrong with America
that cannot be cured with what is right in America.” —William J. Clinton

“Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.”—Rodney Frelinghuysen

“May we never forget freedom isn’t free.”—Unknown

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being.
With freedom comes responsibility.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends
(—Jesus, in the Bible, John 15:13).

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
(—Joseph M. Scriven, 1855, Public Domain)

  1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.

(I took all the photos in May of 2016 during a trip to Normandy, France.)

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (29): “Stand Forth”

If we can do nothing else, we can at least stand up! That’s what Martin Luther had to do back in April 1521 when Emperor Charles V demanded that he recant. Luther was unable to disavow the pile of books on the table in front of him (which he had authored), because Luther sincerely believed they were true, and so it is often reported that he finished his defense with: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”

In today’s account, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on a sabbath day and saw a man with a withered hand. I suppose he could have ignored the man’s weakness to avoid confrontation (since he knew the scribes and Pharisees were just looking for a chance to accuse him of doing something “wrong”), but Jesus’ compassion for the man obviously outweighed any human desire to avoid conflict. Without flinching, the great teacher took time to heal! He told the man to “Rise up and stand forth in the midst.

Even the scribes and Pharisees hadn’t added any regulations denying a man the right to stand up on the sabbath, so Jesus wasn’t asking the man to do anything the religious leaders could condemn, although I’m sure the man with the withered hand would have felt both fear and joy at the prospect of Jesus singling him out. Why was Jesus asking him to stand up in the middle of everybody? Would Jesus heal him? If so, how would Jesus heal him? Would Jesus require anything from the man that would make the religious leaders persecute him or kick him out of the synagogue?

In our lives, no matter what our problems, Jesus is able to heal us. But, he will often ask us to take a stand, the way the man with the withered hand had to make a public “spectacle” of himself, and the way Luther was required to stand up for what he believed to be true about God and the Bible. Do you need healing? Do you want Jesus to heal you? Are you willing to “Rise up and stand forth in the midst” ?

I have a friend who is a Messianic Jew (that means he is Jewish by birth and by religious conviction, but he does believe that Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied to come as the Savior of the world). Because he was a member of his synagogue from childhood (and before his conversion to Christ), the leaders didn’t kick him out of the synagogue until . . . until the new rabbi (who was a female) had an agenda to support abortion. When my friend took a stand against abortion, he was summarily kicked out of his synagogue.

How tragic that religious leaders sometimes stand against the way of mercy and truth. If you are part of a church where the Bible is not revered as Truth and the God of the Bible is not worshiped as the one and only true God, please be willing to take a stand! You might not get thrown out. (The man with the withered hand did not, although my dear brother in the faith did.) You might not get burned at the stake. (Martin Luther did not, although I’m sure he feared that, because he was so influenced by the work of John Huss, who had been burned at the stake exactly 100 years before Luther posted his 95 theses.) Any time we stand against false doctrine, we are very likely to be persecuted, but that is part of the cost of discipleship: “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Let’s be willing to take a stand!

“The Stand” (Hillsong United)

You stood before creation
Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say?
And what can I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your spirit alive in me
This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

So what can I say?
And what can I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours

Hillsong United singing “The Stand” Live in Miami
Words and Music by Joel Houston © 2005 Hillsong

Texts for this study: “And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth” (Mark 3:1-3).

And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth” (Luke 6:1-8).

Sacred Fire (inspired by A.J. Sherrill)

Last night, Alan and I celebrated our 46th anniversary! Such a joy!! This morning, as I was reflecting back over our marriage, it occurred to me that when I prepared my last blog (on how Christ can heal us), I hadn’t really made any particular connection to the every day struggles we all face, but I listened to two messages Sunday night that were so good, and so appropriate, that I want to share the gist of them with you. Throughout the course of my life, the two hardest conscious struggles (probably more significant unconscious challenges) relate to self control in what I eat and what I think about. I’ve always felt very “normal” (if such a thing exists), so my guess is that these almost come as standard weaknesses on most human models coming off the assembly line. Can you identify?

A.J. Sherrill (a local pastor) taught a two-part series called “The Soul of Sexuality.” I’ll put links at the end and highly recommend them as healthy soul food to help you manage your appetites (maybe not as much for food, however).  In turn, A. J. gives much of the credit for his teaching to Richard Rohr, a little monk from Albuquerque, with whom he spent a week some years ago, trying to understand life. You may think a monk wouldn’t be the best resource for understanding how to cope with our innate sex drive, but think again. Any monk who has actually been able to keep his vow of celibacy has spent his entire adult life trying to figure out how to handle his own drives.

Even as a married woman, dealing with sexual impulses has been challenging! I remember when I was mid-forties, asking my spiritual mentor (who was about 80), when men stopped making passes at women. She nodded thoughtfully and replied, “Oh, maybe sometime between 75 and 80.” I was shocked and felt doomed! Would I never be free from unwanted male advances? Men I love, just like I love women. But, men challenging my commitment to my marriage, I do not appreciate. It’s not funny, and it’s not fun. Worst case scenario, it can actually be tempting, which was terrifying when I was 40 and my husband was way too busy to pay attention to me.

So, I used to complain to the Lord, “Why did you make us sexual beings, anyway? Why couldn’t you have made us without sexual passion???” One of the most helpful resources I found was Living with Your Passions, by Erwin W. Lutzer. (It came out in 1983 but is still available on Amazon.) After reading Lutzer’s book, I came to a somewhat grumbly surrender to the thought that God must have known what he was doing and determined to learn how to live a moral life despite my immoral heart, but I wasn’t thrilled about the challenge.

After studying the Song of Solomon for ten years, I decided that God intends our chief love to be spiritual, and that as we’re drawn into a love relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we find joy and strength that surpasses human love . . . an energy and beauty that causes those around to marvel: “What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies” (Song of Solomon 6:13: the dance between our soul and the Trinity [my interpretation]).

A.J. took it a step further, and I love what he had to say. The “why” of sexuality is about “beauty, mystery, and meaning . . . Your sexuality is an echo of a larger cosmic mystery unfolding, which is the story of Christ and the Church.” “God is not a stoic force; he’s a passionate lover.” (I’m putting everything in quotation marks but they may not be perfect; I was typing as fast as I could!) God is Israel’s husband (Isaiah 34; Jeremiah 31) and in the New Testament, we learn that we, the Church, are the “bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5). From John 7 and 15, we can infer that our marriage to Christ is designed to flow into the stream of life and bear spiritual children and spiritual fruit. In John 14 we are offered the Kiddushim—the covenant of love—and now we’re just waiting for the Huppah, when Jesus comes back to receive his bride (us!).

“Information in the head is not the same as intimacy in the heart. We were made for intimacy.” “Ya had” means to throw out your hands. Let go! Let God dwell in us so much that through us He will produce fruit! Hebrews 12—throw off all false lovers and fix our eyes on our true lover, Jesus. When we celebrate communion, we are celebrating our love covenant with Christ. He wants us to understand how much we’re loved and feast with him. He has never forgotten us or forsaken us, even though we have failed him and had other lovers and idols. Come and feast with him. Let him heal you!

The first message dealt with vertical love; the second message with horizontal.  A.J. offered three scripts for how sex is handled in our culture: Erotic play, Intimate connection, and Covenental Promise. He offered some excellent quotes thinking through the value and power of sexual energy (a couple of which I’ll write out for  you below), and he ended with an invitation to reach a “higher altitude” for viewing. “Sexuality is the best instrument for learning self-control There are times when offering yourself is a gift and when withholding yourself is a gift.” If you’re in a relationship right now, he suggested that you “Talk with your partner about what you want without finger pointing, but by offering your longings, not your complaints. Complaints create emotional distance, but longings are redemptive. You’ve trusted God with your soul. Will you trust him with your body?”

“A healthy sexuality is the single most powerful vehicle there is to lead us to  selflessness and joy, just as unhealthy sexuality helps constellate selfishness and unhappiness as does nothing else . . . Sex is responsible for most of the ecstasies that occur on the planet, but is also responsible for lots of murders and suicides. It is the most powerful of all fires, the best of all fires, the most dangerous of all fires, and the fire which, ultimately, lies at the base of everything, including the spiritual life.” —Ronald Rolheiser

“The fire of sex is so powerful, so precious, so close to the heart and soul of a person, and so godly, that it either gives life or it takes it away. Despite our culture’s protests, it is not casual and can never be casual.” —Rolheiser

So, in light of Jesus healing the lame man—and offering to heal us too!— if you’re restless or unhappy with your sex life (or lack thereof), this is a great time to let Jesus heal your wounded heart! Consider watching the two messages (which together are shorter than a movie!):

https://marshill.org/teaching/?sermons=the-soul-of-sexuality-week-1

https://marshill.org/teaching/?sermons=the-soul-of-sexuality-week-2

I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Would You Have Liked Mr. Rogers for Your Neighbor?

Now that I’ve seen the 2018 documentary about his life, I’d have loved having Mr. Rogers live next door! How about you? He was kind, gentle, faithful to his wife, respectful of all human beings—especially children—and a loving father.  According to everybody interviewed, Fred Rogers wasn’t just “putting on a show.” He was genuine and transparent…just as gentle and thoughtful at home as he was on T.V. As he explained:  “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self.”

Were you a fan? To be honest, I have never actually seen even one of Fred Roger’s 895 episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, which ran from 1968-2001, but my husband did, and I’m guessing if you were born any time after 1960, you probably enjoyed at least some of them.  I stopped watching T.V. in 1962 when I became a Christian at age 12, not because anyone told me to stop, but because I felt like what I was watching wasn’t making me a better person, and I’d become a little addicted to fantasy.  Mr. Rogers, on the other hand, was aghast the first time he saw T.V. and made a mission out of trying to provide calm, quality programming for children that reached into their hearts and helped guide them through the often confusing and frightening challenges of life. “I got into television because I hated it so. And I thought there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen” (Fred Rogers).Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister and an unlikely person to vie with the world for children’s attention. As his producer, Margy Whitmer, mused, “We had a director who once said to me, ‘If you take all of the elements that make good television and do the exact opposite, you have ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’: low production values, simple set, an unlikely star. . .Yet it worked, because it was saying something really important’.” Mister Rogers wanted children to feel secure and comfortable, so he always started the show by “coming home” and trading in his coat and street shoes for a comfortable cardigan (hand-knit by his mom) and tennis shoes.Through his trusty puppet, Daniel Tiger, he would share the concerns and problems that all children face…feeling unloved, sad, afraid, and vulnerable, etc. Fred was also passionate about teaching deep truths to children, such as the equality of all people and the importance of sharing and loving everyone. A gifted musician, Fred composed and played the music for his programs, most of which dealt with issues the children faced, and all of which expressed hope and the desire for peace and goodwill toward all. Although Mr. Rogers was never explicit about his faith, according to Rev. George Wirth, a fellow minister and friend, “He was a community builder. The neighborhood was symbolic of Fred Rogers’ desire for people to live together in peace, with respect and love and affirmation, and, when things go wrong, forgiveness and reconciliation.”  There were many clues to Mr. Roger’s faith. Not only was he faithful in his own church attendance, he named his two sons “James” and “John.”  According to Junlei Li, co-director of the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania: “He wasn’t doing that [not being overt about his faith] to hide his Christian identity. I think Fred was very adamant that he didn’t want any viewer — child or adult — to feel excluded from the neighborhood.”  Another quote that I appreciated was found in LifeZette: “Ultimately, ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ was a show about hope and reconciliation, a word Li said meant a lot to Rogers. He wanted to mend broken relationships: between people, between humans and the environment, even — though he never made it explicit — between humans and their Creator” (https://www.lifezette.com/2018/07/the-undeniable-faith-of-wont-you-be-my-neighbor/). The only thing that made me sad about the entire movie was his widow reflecting on Fred’s deathbed concern over whether or not he was truly one of God’s sheep who would get into heaven. She tried to reassure him, and I suspect she was right, but for anyone who reads this and also feels unsure, I want you to know that the Bible offers us assurance that we can know we’re one of God’s sheep and on our way to heaven.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). Have you asked God to forgive you for your sins? Do you believe in Jesus as your Savior…as the sacrificial lamb who died in your place? Are you listening for his voice? Are you following him? If so, then I  hope you can find peace in knowing that you are God’s sheep and have eternal life. If you have another minute or two, here are a few quotes that I love. All but the last one are by Fred Rogers:

“Parents are like shuttles on a loom. They join the threads of the past with threads of the future and leave their own bright patterns as they go.”

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” (That doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to change, but that He loves us now and calls us to love others now too!)

“How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.”

“I think of discipline as the continual everyday process of helping a child learn self-discipline.”

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

“He really mentored me over years to show me how I could use fame as a force for positive social change and not a weight around my neck.” Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:27-29).

 

 

 

 

Drawing Lines

“God can draw a straight line with a crooked pencil” (passed on by Michael Faas, CEO of Metro Health). Last weekend Alan and I enjoyed attending Metro Health-University of Michigan Health’s annual fundraiser, this year to raise money to assist cancer patients…which is near and dear to our hearts!  We sat next to the CFO of Mel Trotter Rescue Mission, which is an outreach to the homeless in our area. Anybody can get free meals at Mel Trotter, but you earn the privilege of spending the night there by listening to a one-hour service where the gospel is preached.  Their current CFO was  one of the founding fathers of Pinnacle Bank, but instead of golfing in Florida, he’s spending his retirement years helping keep this great ministry (Mel Trotter) solvent! I am so grateful for people like this sweet couple! For about ten years when our kids were young and we had a “family band,” we helped out by providing music and a message about once a month down at Mel Trotter, and then I taught the ladies’ Bible study on Wednesday mornings for several more years, but we haven’t done anything since.  😦 Especially honored that evening was Michael Faas, who is retiring as the CEO after twenty-five years of faithful service to the hospital and our community. He could have talked about how wonderful he is, but instead he talked about how wonderful the incoming CEO is! I’ve never met Michael Fass personally, but I admired what he had to say, and he passed along one bit of wisdom that I hope I never forget: “God can draw a straight line with a crooked pencil.”  Isn’t that a beautiful thought? I can’t tell you how many times I saw lives transformed by the grace of God at Mel Trotter over the years. Conversions from alcoholism, drugs, and desperate situations are really undeniable miracles.  But, you know what? Those transformations are no more miraculous than the undeniable miracle God works in each one of us when we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior! We are all “crooked pencils” by birth…unable to perceive 100% truth or walk a truly straight line. Today is my 68th birthday, and I want to tell you that without Jesus as my Savior and the Bible as my moral compass, I’d be so lost! I’m still a “crooked pencil,” but I pray that God will use me to draw straight lines. Also, I’m thankful to be alive today! Thank you, Father, for sending your Son to die for us so that we can all have two birthdays: the day of our birth here on earth, and the day we are born again into everlasting life!

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3-7)

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).

Rise Up, My Love (301): Some of the Many Names of God

Song of Solomon 8:14 “My beloved.” From Solomon’s song, we’ve seen many reasons why the king is our well beloved, and we’ve learned a few of his names. The bride calls him her “king…thou whom my soul loveth…my well beloved.” She likens him to a cluster of camphire and an apple tree, and she asks him to be “like a roe or a young hart.” But, throughout the Bible there are dozens of names given to our Lord, and each one expresses some aspect of his character that makes him beloved. Let’s consider a number of them.

Wow! So many thoughts flood my soul that it’s hard to organize them into transferable images. I can’t develop one before another comes bursting in like the grand finale of a fireworks display. Why is he our beloved? Below is just a sampling of the things that are said of this one whose name is “above all names.”  Jesus is like a huge diamond, and each of his names is like a brilliant flash of colored light reflecting one facet of his amazing personality. Please read the following list slowly, considering these questions: What does the name mean? How does that aspect of his being impact me? Have I learned to utilize this aspect of who he is? Do I love and appreciate him for being this in my life?  Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”  Deuteronomy 32:15 “Then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” (May we never forsake God…may he be the Rock of our salvation always!)  Psalm 78:35 “And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.”  Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.”  Isaiah 8:14 “And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel.”  1 Corinthians 10:4 “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”  So, there are many verses about God being our Rock. He is also our Redeemer (our Lord and King, our God, our creator, the Holy One of Israel, our Savior, our Maker, our father, etc…all found in these verses):

Isaiah 44:6 “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

Isaiah 44:24 “Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”

Isaiah 47:4 “As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 49:7 “Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and of the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.”

Isaiah 49:26 “…all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”

Isaiah 54:5 “For thy Maker [is] thine husband; the LORD of hosts [is] his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

Isaiah 63:16 “Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.”  Well, that’s probably more than enough for one day’s meditation, so I’ll continue on next week! May we be amazed and blessed this week as we remember God, our Rock, our Redeemer, and so much more!

(Most of the photos are mine, but the photos of the  magnificent red rocks are from Arizona, compliments of Bob Hardee. Thank you, Bob!!)