Friday, May 18, 2012

Your Great Name(s)

As many of you know, choosing baby names has been an adventure in our household. I’ll never forget about 5 weeks before Daniel was born trying to persuade Jenna that all of her "ETJ" and "Elijah" monogrammed bags and burp cloths were not going to be of any use if she wanted to keep up with the fashion of having your baby’s name match up to all of the monogrammed baby items. We had originally chosen the name Elijah Thomas for the baby’s name. However, life changed quickly, and the Lord spoke clearly. Our first born son's name was going to be Daniel Benjamin. Daniel means, “My LORD is Judge.” Benjamin means “Son of my Right Hand.” When you put them both together, it describes the hope that Jenna and I have in our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because God will judge sin, it is appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment. Man has no hope in and of himself. We need a Savior, and Jesus, God’s Son, sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. He is an all-sufficient and all-satisfying Savior. As our three-year-old walks around the house, his name reminds us of the glorious gospel which has changed our lives.

Four months later, the Lord decided to give us another surprise. I was shocked when Jenna used a positive pregnancy test as a bookmark in my Bible on Psalm 139. This psalm exalts God’s all-seeing eye from the womb to the tomb and beyond. He sees everything, and He must have known how shocked we were. This would mean that our boys would be 13 months apart. Although, we had lost her grandmother, my granddaddy, a child to miscarriage, my dad, and my mom, God had heard our prayer much like he did Hannah’s in the book of Samuel. This is the name we chose, because Samuel meant “heard of God" or "asked of God.” God, our Abba Father, hears the cries of his children both day and night. He definitely was showing us that He could do more than we could ask or think. Since the boys we so close, we chose the middle name to be Levi. It means, “joined together.” The Levites were also the servants in the Temple and the tribe from which the High Priest came. Our Samuel Levi loves his brother and loves to pretend to have a song book in his hand as he sings his heart out. It is our prayer that he becomes a mighty man of God like Samuel was in the Old Testament.

This week, on Thursday, May 17th, we welcomed our third son, Elias Joseph, into the world.

Now, you may be wondering how we chose the name Elias Joseph for our third son. If you remember, Daniel was supposed to be Elijah Thomas. This may be a story I will never live down. We have always been fond of the name Elijah. He was a common man who served the Uncommon God. He was a man who stood boldly for the truth before King Ahab, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Ashterah in one of the greatest showdowns in history. You can read Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17- 2 Kings 2. The reason we chose this name is because Elias (a derivative of Elijah) means, “My LORD is God.” When Jenna saw his face on the ultrasound picture on January 5th, this is the name the Lord spoke to her heart. After telling the boys about the two names we had chosen, they both would walk around saying “E-li-as.”

His name will be a great reminder for us as we grow old together. There is only One True God, and we are living in a culture of toleration where the Bible and absolute truth are seen as old fashioned and outdated. The prophet Elijah was not afraid to stand in the face of doubters, skeptics, or the confused and say, “Let the true God answer by fire.” I have stood on Mt. Carmel in Israel and taught from 1 Kings 17-18. The plain surrounding the mountain would have provided a magnificent picture of the glory of God as He answered Elijah’s prayer by sending down fire from heaven. We still need some fire to be kindled in the heart of God’s people. We are serving the eternal God, and He is able to do extraordinary things through common people who are submitted to His will.

Our little one's middle name is Joseph. This happens to be a family name and a Biblical name. My great grandfather was named William Joseph Johnson, but we called him Pappy Joe. He was a man of God. It has been told to me on a few occasions that he had read the Bible so much that he could cross-reference verses back and forth from the Old Testament to the New Testament. His grandfather’s name was also Joseph. Beyond the family tree, the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of my favorite. This young man had God-given dreams of greatness, but he did not know that he would be betrayed, sold into slavery, lied about, or abandoned in prison. However, God was with him producing a heart of humility, service, faith, conviction, and forgiveness. In the end, Joseph told his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant it for good. Joseph was able to completely forgive his brothers for all the wrong they had done against him. His life is a beautiful picture of what Jesus has accomplished for us— salvation in a world suffering from a spiritual famine, forgiveness of sins, and hope for today and tomorrow through His infinite wisdom and grace.

Throughout our marriage, we have experienced the meaning of Joseph’s name, “God will Increase.” We have been in pits, tight spots, spinning cars, and crossroads wondering what we should do. Our Sovereign Lord has been watching over us through it all and given us sufficient grace to meet each challenge. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Moments after Arriving: Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:06 p.m. 8 lbs, 12 oz 20 inches long

Mommy, Daddy, and Elias

Big Brothers, Samuel and Daniel, Meet Elias for the First Time

Ten Tiny Toes

One Amazing Gift

On this day (5/17), we want to introduce you to Elias Joseph and to remind you of the following verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). God is truly making all things new!

Friday, April 1, 2011


And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? - Matthew 6:30, NLT

With Spring finally here, the wonderful wildflowers are beginning to clothe the grass of the fields with a beautiful array of colors. My mom always loved flowers, so whenever I didn’t have the chance to pick up a bouquet and bring them home to her, I would often notice wildflowers as I jogged down the country roads near her house. There were always a lot of beautiful flowers that decorated the roadway. From orange tiger lilies to bright yellow buttercups, their beauty brought cheer to places that are often overlooked.

Have you ever considered how wonderful the Omniscient God is? The simple scripture above reminds us to trust God for the cares of this life. There is not a single detail that goes unnoticed in His sight. He always knows what He is doing in our lives even when we do not recognize Him like we should. He has everything covered in our lives. He just wants us to learn to trust Him more and more each day with even the simple details of life. He doesn’t want us to worry about anything.

Let’s think for a moment about the difference between God and us. He cares for and beautifully clothes the ground with wildflowers that we often overlook. He provides these small pleasures for His glory and our enjoyment. There are wildflowers scattered throughout the continents which man’s eye will never see; however, He sees everything in all places and all times with infinite knowledge. All of His creation gives testimony to Him and His unfailing love. On the other hand, we worry over the smallest of details that will never ever happen. Worry consumes our minds, drains our energy, and narrows our vision which points us to our meager strength and abilities. Our lives would be more beautiful than the wildflowers if we would enjoy God by turning toward His Son, allow His radiating Presence to fill our lives, and reflect His glory with all the colors of Light’s spectrum- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

If God clothes the grass of the field that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you who will live forever either in heaven or hell. Everyone in the world can testify that God is the Creator. All of creation amplifies this fact. However, this creation is destined for the fire (2 Peter 3:12-13). And yes, God is going to establish a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. All people will not be there. Will you?

You may be able to enjoy the wildflowers of this earth but overlook the purpose of their creation. Even the wildflowers have been place on the earth to remind us of the beauty and sweet aroma of God’s Son Jesus Christ who wore the sinner’s crown and emanated the glory of God on the cross. Through His death and resurrection, you and I can know (have a relationship with) him as Creator and be given new life from Christ the Redeemer. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Enjoy the Son, springtime, and the surety of His faithful provisions. Have faith!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life is a Vapor

James 4:13-14 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Have you ever considered how short life is? It is here one day and gone the next. Every moment someone is being born and someone is dying on this planet. In a sense, the world is full of life which is regenerated minute by minute. Someone’s breath is taken away at the sight of a newborn child and another is taken away due to death. Even during the past few seconds of writing, lives have entered and exited this life. There must be more to life than a futile cycle that lasts moments and then is over. If life were only a ride at the county fair that is filled with a few ups and downs and a few thrills along the way, then this life would be a sad existence.

I am glad to tell you that life is but a vapor. It seems that just yesterday, I was waking up in my bedroom as mom yelled down the hall saying, “The bus is coming soon. It’s time for school.” It seems like yesterday that I drove a car for the first time. It was but yesterday when I got up from my college dorm and walked to class in the cold wintry air. It was yesterday when I got married and said “I do!” It seems like yesterday when dad and mom took their last breath. These moments are passing quickly. They are gone as soon as they are made. New moments must be made minute by minute and hour by hour, because this life is a vapor compared to the ocean of eternity!

In the midst of our short years, there is One who inhabits eternity. His name is Holy (Isa. 57:15). He sets upon the circle of the earth and looks down upon man as if we are but grasshoppers (Isa. 40:22). He looks as the nations as a drop in the bucket or dust on the scales (Isa. 40:15). He has measured the waters of the planet in the hollow of His hand (Isa. 40:12). He has scattered the stars in place and measured the heavens with His mighty hand. He knows all the star’s names, just balls of spectacular and illuminating gas (Isa. 40:26). How much more does He know you and see your every move as your years go passing by.

Will you stop and consider how powerless and weak we are? Time can not be stopped from passing. We can not keep our heart beating or our lungs inflated, but life is given as a gift. We exist for a purpose. Revelation 4:11 reminds us, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Are you giving the Creator honor and glory with your moments and hours? Are you enjoying the gift of His Son who came to get involved in our lives by dying on the cross for our sins and providing a way for us to be saved, know God, and love Him forever? Are you drinking down the moments filled with the things that matter most in this life—worshipping God individually, in your marriage, family, church, and community? Your life is slowly evaporating in the presence of the Son of God. What will He say when your breath is taken away and you have realized that life was a vapor? It is here one day and gone the next! Soak it up and use is wisely for the glory of God!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Meditation

King in Greatest Exaltation

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Ultimate humiliation
That the God of all creation
Would put on the flesh of man
Just to understand

Before time existed
He knew man resisted
To worship someone higher
For we wanted all the power

Instead they gained nothing
But toil, strife, and envying
Destroying man’s purity of heart
Now needing a new start

That’s why Jesus came to us
To save us from the lowly dust
Born of the Virgin Mary
A King coming humbly so contrary

To the animals all around
Gnashing when He did confound
The wise with foolish simplicity
Showing them to be…

Who they are inside
No longer to hide
Because God’s Light has exposed
Hearts that are so cold

That’s why Jesus came to bleed
For all mankind to be freed
From the bondage of sin
And so, He spoke to the wind

Peace be still as time paused
On Calvary, He gained no applause
For facing the wickedness of man
The mirror was in His hand

Showing us what man’s heart contained
Caused His to melt and flow like rain
In agony and anguish He did hang
Plunging to the darkest depths, now to reign

That’s why Jesus hates our pride
It gives man a place to hide
Behind the bars of His very soul
He doesn’t want to be let go

Until the loneliness and guilt
Leave a cold heart without a quilt
And there’s no place to run
But to the only begotten Son

Bowing at the foot of the cross
Realizing in darkness, he is so lost
Reaching up for mercy and grace
Now longing to see His face

The eyes that burn like fire
For His Spirit contains the purest desire
The countenance of His face does show
The reflection of His very soul

Though marred on earth physically
Beauty shown so plain spiritually
His emotions were strained to extreme
That His life could produce a living stream

The water of life now flows in abundance
Because we have a second chance
To see the God of all Creation
Jesus Christ—King in Greatest Exaltation

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Purpose of the Law

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

The other day I stopped by the YMCA in downtown Nashville. I usually visit there maybe once a month, so I have never purchase the monthly parking pass for eight dollars. I usually try to find a place along the road and fill the parking meter with change to rent the parking space for about an hour. As I got out of the truck, I noticed the parking meter was flashing. I inserted a couple of dollars worth of coins to buy an hour of parking time. For every quarter, you can buy ten minutes. A dime will buy four minutes and a nickel two minutes. I had accumulated one hour and four minutes on the meter. I knew I had one solid hour to work out and get back to the truck in the allotted time.

When I went into the facility, I kept my eye on the clock as the minutes passed. After working out on the cardio machine, I went to the free weights and did a few reps. As time slowly passed, I realized I had about ten to fifteen minutes left to get to my truck. I went to the locker room, changed, and grabbed my bag to return to the truck in much relief knowing I had exercised for the day.

As soon as I exited through the front doors, I saw a man standing beside my truck. He was dressed in blue, had a badge, and had arrived there in a golf cart with a flashing light. He was hired by Metro to parole the parking meters across town. I ran to my truck and asked him what the problem was. He said he was writing me a ticket for a parking violation. I told him that could not be possible. I had purchased the time, and I had kept up with it while working out. Even if the meter was flashing it could have only been doing so for two to four minutes which was the equivalent to a nickel or dime.

Immediately, I tried to explain my case to him. I tried to explain that I had arrived one hour prior and put my money in the meter. I was not trying to be dishonest. I even had a witness who was patrolling the YMCA parking garage. I had asked to get change from him for a dollar. He watched the scene unfold. I pleaded for grace, and he told me he was only doing his job. He said he drove up, saw the meter flashing, and began writing the ticket for one hundred times greater than the actual time would have cost me (one dime compared to $11 for parking violation.) If effect, he said the law is the law and is no respecter of persons. I tried to talk with the law and negotiate, but he said, “Sorry boss, you will have to take that up with the Davidson County Court system if you want to contest this.”

I was stuck with a fine in my hand, a flashing meter, and a witness who could only testify to my effort to keep the law. The law is the law and my time had run out in his eyes. I was a little angry, disgusted, and silenced as my mind thought of a thousand ways to justify myself (the meter was wrong, the clocks were not in sync in the YMCA, someone held me up, etc). Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” I could contest it, but I knew I was guilty. He saw what he saw, and my plea for grace would not work with the law. The law had to be fulfilled, and I had no plea.

Let me remind you briefly, the law is the schoolmaster that points us to the only One who has dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” of the law’s demand—Jesus Christ. Oh, what a Savior who would take upon my sin and your sin and bear it alone at the cross of Calvary. He died to bear the wrathful consequences of billions of offenses against the Righteous Judge in the high court of heaven. He died to uphold God’s justice and to enable believers in Jesus to be justified in His sight.

My hope today is that you are not depending on your own goodness or works in the eyes of men to get you into heaven. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Men and women of this earth will not be given the opportunity to testify to God on your behalf about the good deeds you may have done. Your goodness is not enough. God’s verdict already stands. Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” If you haven’t already received pardon, grace, and forgiveness, run to Christ before your time runs out. You do not want to face the Lawgiver and Judge of the whole earth without a plea.

Dear believer, do you remember the day the law tracked you down? Do you remember when your heart was racing and you knew of your guilt? Do you remember when you felt the drawing power of the Holy Spirit who convicted you of sin, opened your eyes to Christ, and enabled you to say Abba Father with a heart full of peace? Do you remember the hour you first believed? The law fulfilled its purpose and gospel of Jesus Christ became the greatest message and love story you had ever heard. Now, God is with you both now and forevermore. Rejoice and be thankful!