Changing My Name, Part 1

Because of my love for Patrick, I had no hesitation in taking Fata as my last name on our wedding day. Anything that had to do with him was well worth my taking and was a joy to me. Even though I had always liked my maiden name, it was easy to let it go because of all I was gaining. In taking the name Fata, I told the world I belong to Patrick.

There are several examples in scripture where Christ gave out new names. Simon became Peter, which we know means “rock”– representing his position as a foundational rock in the building of the church. James and John were labeled the “Sons of Thunder,” perhaps due to their outspoken personalities, according to some Bible commentators. All twelve men whom Christ called were known as disciples. The term disciple means student and of course, they were directly under Christ’s teaching. They were also called apostles.

An apostle is defined as a qualified representative sent on a mission. Both of these labels are simply different aspects of their calling. The change of their name or the addition of such titles was an outward demonstration of their love for Christ and willingness to tell the world they belonged to Him.

When we put our faith in Christ, we give up titles like lost, needy, weak, confused, or poor, and we replace them with chosen, fulfilled, strong, guided, and wealthy. There are days in our marriage, because of this fallen world we live in, where I am weak, confused, frustrated, and yes, even poor. But as I place my life under Patrick’s authority, trusting his to be under God’s, I rest knowing there is strength, direction and prosperity to be found in Christ alone. When it has to do with Jesus, it is well worth our taking, and we can count even struggles as joy for His name’s sake.

Paul states in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Being well content doesn’t mean we have to take pleasure in the pain, but rather we can rejoice that His power is at work within us, giving us the needed strength to endure and even grow.

My Growing Heart

I am a new mother. Liliana is more than I could ever have imagined her to be. Yes, I knew I would have a great love for her. Yes, I knew she would add a dimension to our lives we could not have fathomed. But what I did not know is my heart would actually grow. It had to. It had no choice. In order to contain this new love of mine, my heart had to expand.

In Scripture, the Hebrew concept of the heart is an embodiment of our emotions, our will, our intellect, and even our desires. There are over 800 references to the heart in God’s Word, proving its significance. I house many items in my heart (love for the Lord and people I hold dear), but unfortunately, idols also dwell within. An idol is anything I desire above Jesus.

How can I recognize when something has become an idol to me? Well, am I willing to sin in order to get it or do I sin if I do not get it? The moment it steals my gaze from Christ, I have erected an idol within my heart. My heart’s capacity to worship Him is lessened by idols such as material pleasures, others’ approval or fear of man, wanting to be treated with justice, having my “rights” honored or my needs met, gaining or keeping control, or simply being successful.

An idol can even be something good. My daughter, for example, could become an idol of my heart if my affections are misplaced and she becomes more important to me than Christ. The point is, my desire or lust for the “object” is sin, not necessarily the object itself. The responsibility for my sin lies with me, not the idol. I often set my heart on things the Lord has not intended for me now or maybe even ever. Yet nothing can compare to the riches of my Savior and His glory. Scripture commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30), and Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). If I long for Him above all else, my heart’s desires will match His desires for my life.

Oh, that my heart would increase for Christ as naturally as it did for my Lillie. Forcing out the filth, filling me up with Him alone, may it have no choice but to expand!

For Who He Is

Joshua Bell is considered one of the greatest violinists of our time, playing to standing-room-only audiences around the world, where the worst seats often cost more than $100. His violin, a 1713 Stradivarius, is worth $3.5 million and is called one of the most amazing instruments in the world. In January of ‘07 he stood and played his violin at a metro station in Washington, D.C. In 45 minutes, 1097 people passed him by. 27 gave money totaling $32 and change, and only 7 people actually stopped for a moment to listen.

Too often, we pass by moments with Jesus simply because we do not savor Him for who He really is. During the study and writing phase of the Exalted Lord project, I realized that throughout my entire life, I had placed Christ on the right as I envisioned the throne room–my right, not the Father’s right! How often do I position Christ where He simply doesn’t belong? The reality is He is more than a friend and daily companion. He is reigning magnificently at the Father’s right hand, ruling powerfully over sin, death and unbelief.

Jesus is God, claiming for Himself the same honor and glory belonging to the Almighty (John 17:5). He is equal with God, yet has reverence for the Father (Phil. 2:6). They glorify each other (John 13:31). Jesus is the Creator, having never had a beginning (Rev. 1:17-18). All nature bows to His authority (Matt. 8:26-27) while He upholds the universe with His mighty power (Heb. 1:3). He holds all things together (Col. 1:17). He is the Great High Priest who sympathizes with us (Heb. 4:15). He meets our needs not only because He is God, but because He was man.

Jesus is God’s chosen sinless substitute for sin prophesied about throughout the Old Testament. We are forgiven because of the blood He shed on our behalf (Heb. 9:18-26). He is mediating for His children before a holy God (1 Tim. 2:5). He never changes (Heb. 13:8). Christ is the coming King (Is. 9:6-7, Matt. 24:27, Heb. 9:28) and the final Judge of mankind (Matt. 25:31-46, Acts 17:30-31). Jesus is this and ever so much more!

We cannot fit Christ into some mold according to the parts of Him that work best with our lifestyle or agenda. He is who He is without you or me. What a loss in our lives to simply pass Him by. One theologian said, “Christ does not exist to make much of us. We exist in order to enjoy making much of Him.” How much are we making of Him?

Livin’ Word-Driven

The Word of God has played certain roles throughout my life. Depending on which trail I was traveling, it has either been along for the ride, hidden in my backpack, or my actual road map.

As a little girl, it was something to carry to church. Portions were memorized for stickers or other prizes in Sunday School. As a youth, it was something to respect, but seemed above me, or so I thought. In college, its importance was clear, though I struggled to be found in it daily. Now I realize it is a deep, deep well of which I cannot drink enough. When I am thirsty, I am quenched. When I am hungry, I am fed. When I am broken, I am repaired.

As with most things in life, it is easy to focus on what it is for me. However, once I surrender simply to what it is, I can humbly submit my will before its power, trusting in its Author and His perfect plan for how I should live. The Bible lives up to its claims: holy (Rom. 1:2), incapable of being wrong (Ps. 12:6, Prov. 30:5, John 17:17), always effective (Ps.19:7, 2 Tim.3:16-17), everlasting (Ps. 119:152, Is. 40:8, 1 Pet. 1:25), sufficient (Ps. 19:7-9, Acts 20:32, 2 Pet. 1:3), and complete (Deut. 4:2, 12:32. Prov. 30:6, Matt. 5:18, Luke 16:17).

The secular world looks at the Bible as a dated, dusty ol’ rule book, yet I know to the very core of my being that its truths are as powerful and relevant today as they were when God first breathed them to life. Living according to the Word’s standards is not a chore, but rather a choice that offers great freedom! May all that I am be directly influenced by all that it is.