Christianity 201

March 14, 2013

Given a New Name

This is from a blog,  Into The Foolishness and appeared earlier this year as A White Stone and a New Name.

One of the things I find beautiful in the book of Revelation is when Jesus says,

“To him who overcomes I will give a white stone and on that stone is a name known only to the person who receives it and to Me” (2:17).

The white stone signifies victory and could very well hint at purity. The significant thing to me is there is a name on that stone that is the name Jesus knows me by. My mother does not know me by that name. My friends don’t know me by that name. No one in this world, including myself, knows who I really am. I think that when we see ourselves in the light of Jesus, which will only happen when we give up ourselves and begin to seek Him wholeheartedly, then we will eventually grow into the person that He meant for us to be. When we see our name on that stone we’ll say, “Wow, thats me! How did You know me when I couldn’t even know myself?” For me, that’s part of the goal of spiritual maturity.”

~Rich Mullins

This verse in Revelation is one of the most intriguing and beautiful passages in all the Bible for me, and one of the most mysterious. A white stone with a new name? One that is uniquely ours that no one understands but God and myself? To think that God knows me in a way I don’t even know myself and will reveal that identity to me one day gives me goosebumps. Whenever I read this passage I think “I want to know what my stone says!” Imagine your most true self summed up in a name and handed to you by Christ Himself. It staggers the imagination.

For the time being, we are citizens of a fallen world, but it doesn’t change who we are. We all have a true self that God created us to be. We strive and work to become better people in many ways, but I think growing into who God actually made us to be is one of the holiest things we can do. It’s not about becoming perfect or working harder – it’s about embracing our weaknesses and faults and handing them all over to a God who knows us better than we know ourselves. What if we stopped trying be so many different people and focused on discovering more about our unique calling?

We have an identity in Christ that is unique. This should be an encouragement to all of us to seek only His will for our lives and let everything else fall to the wayside.

I actually like that no one is able to figure out the exact meaning of this passage. There is an excitement and wonder in it that should make us long for the truth of who we are in Christ. We get a taste of it here on earth and see the fulfillment of it in heaven. For now it is, as CS Lewis once wrote, “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” 

I try and instill in my kids that they need to be who God has made them to be, no more and no less. I need to remember that myself. Find your identity in Christ and you won’t need to find it anywhere else.

“To him who overcomes I will give a white stone…”  What an unbelievable gift!

March 9, 2012

The Best is Yet to Come

Today’s contribution is from Sheldon Bungay, who not only happens to be the Captain of a nearby Salvation Army Corps, but is also someone I’ve gotten to know personally.  It appeared first on his blog under the title, More Tomorrows! and you’re encouraged — you get pictures — to read it there.  NOTE: This was originally published on Valentine’s Day.

On Saturday evening of this past week, my wife and I were watching a TV show in which an elderly man had taken ill. He was sent to a local hospital and then chose to go ahead with an elective surgical procedure which his family was totally against. Just before the nurses wheeled him to the Operating Room, his son tried in vain one last time to convince his father to not go ahead with surgery. “Dad, you are being unreasonable!” was his last attempted effort before his father put up his hand for his son to stop talking and then entered into an emotional discourse that immediately not only challenged the son, but also me the viewer. His words were these:

“But one day, you’re gonna wake up, and all the big stuff, all the milestones you’ve been looking forward to – graduation, wedding, having kids, your grandkids – it’s all behind you. It’s all over. All you got is a bunch of yesterdays, and very few tomorrows.”

I have replayed these words in my mind over and over again during the last three days and I am troubled!

I am sure the author of these words was trying to get the point across that this man had very few days left on this earth, and his son should let his father live his last days however he wanted, with a sense of enjoyment, fulfillment, laughter, and fun. But I was left troubled, I was troubled because of the reality that so many people in this world today live their lives thinking the exact same way as this elderly hospital patient. They believe, I must live my life now to the fullest, because soon it will all end and everything I looked forward to will be over, and then what? Nothing!

I am troubled because this couldn’t be further from the truth in my life and in the lives of so many of my closest friends and family members. While we enjoy the events of our lives, and while we may experience a sense of disappointment or nostalgia for the past highlights of our lives, these things pale in comparison to the life that is still yet to come.

What I am referring to is the reward that is referenced by Paul in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”

This is his goal in life, his one true aim is to have God smile at him upon their first encounter in Heaven. ”Whatever we consider to be a joy here on earth will be heightened millions of times beyond anything we can conceive when we get to heaven. The apostle Paul put it this way: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Today is Valentine’s Day, and my day started perfectly. I awoke to see three of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen in my life, that of my beautiful wife, my princess daughter, and my mini-me son all handing me chocolates, cards, and gifts that they had created. These three people have brought more joy into my life than I could have ever imagined. And It is because of this reality that I am absolutely pumped and can’t wait to get to heaven. Because if the joy that they bring me here on earth is heightened millions of times by God in heaven, then heaven is something I’m looking forward to.

Yes, my childhood, my high school graduation, my wedding day, my ordination, the birth of my children, are all things that are behind me and things that I cherish from my yesterdays, but I don’t just have a few tomorrows here on earth, I have many more in heaven, and I hope I’ll see all of you in those tomorrows!

“Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19

~Sheldon Bungay