Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
A few months ago, we were thrilled to welcome a third grandchild into our family. She came into the world full of life and energy. For the first few days after her arrival, she remained nameless. Her mom and dad wanted to ensure that her name would reflect the hope they had for her life. They finally settled on the name Makala Faith. Makala is a feminine version of Michael, meaning “gift from God”, and Faith means “confidence” (trust and belief).
Names can be powerful expressions of the dreams of a great future. In the Bible, names express character. One of my favorite Bible personalities is Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16), who was an incredible gift of encouragement to the Apostle Paul. His name means “profit bringer.”
Other Biblical names are less flattering. For example, Jacob literally means “heel grabber”, “deceiver” or “schemer”. His brother “Esau said, ‘Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing…’” (Genesis 27:36). In Genesis 32, we read that Jacob encountered the manifest presence of God and, in a wrestling match with God, refuses to let go until he is blessed. But before the blessing can be given, the condition of Jacob’s heart must be revealed:
“The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’
‘Jacob,’ he answered” (Genesis 32:27).
When Jacob stated his name to the Angel of the Lord, he was, in effect, disclosing or confessing that his inner character was that of a “schemer.” We can never experience an encounter with God until we repent of the places where self still rules and the old nature still thrives!
A few months ago, I heard Joni Erickson Tada speak at a conference. She has used a wheelchair for 48 years, with quadriplegia, and in the past few years has experienced severe chronic pain throughout her body. Some nights, the pain is so bad that her husband needs to turn her six or seven times in order for her to get relief. On one occasion when things were particularly difficult, her husband sat at the edge of the bed and said, “I feel so trapped; I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
Joni responded with immediate rage, declaring, “You feel trapped! Think about me! I have no choice!” She quickly calmed down and said, “Honey, that’s not like me; I am so sorry.” Then she paused, looked up at the audience and made this startling confession, “Actually, that is just like me!” She went on to say how often we excuse our sinful behaviour by stating, “That’s not like me!” The truth is that God’s work of deep renewal begins when we are willing to humbly accept responsibility for the reality of our sinful core.
The greatest healing is that of the inner-life, where God transforms us into His image. But this healing, this renewal, always begins with repentance. Jacob’s admission of his true character opened the door for him to experience a new blessing from God.
I believe that God is calling The Christian and Missionary Alliance into a place of renewal, but this journey involves radical humility and deep repentance. The admission of our deep inadequacy, sinfulness, and desperation is a prerequisite to revival.
The manifest presence of Jesus both kills and revives us! Fred Hartley declares, “Jesus is not into killing people. He is into killing what is out to kill us so that He can make us fully alive! (God on Fire).”
Recently, I was confronted on a particular issue by one of our church leaders. I initially responded graciously, but as I thought about it, I actually became more and more angry. I found myself thinking some very unkind thoughts towards this person.
When I finally calmed down, I felt bad and said, “David, that’s not like you!” I froze, as I heard the voice of Joni saying, “That’s exactly like you!” In that moment, Jesus was asking my name. And my name was “self-defensive.” The manifest presence of Jesus exposes our self-orientation, self-will, self-seeking, self-interest, and self-defensiveness and calls us to die to all of it! He has given us a new name. So, what is your name?
Please find the original version in C&MA website