Naming the Boy

When my son #1 was born, Karla and I had a very difficult time naming the boy. Truth be told, he didn’t have a name until he was five days old. On day #5, a somewhat perturbed nurse burst into Karla’s room at the Bay Medical Center (in beautiful Bay City Michigan) and informed us that we had to name the baby. Looking at us like we had committed some hideous crime, Nurse Meany of the Maternity Ward glared and sneered, “You have to name the child!”

It wasn’t my fault the boy had no name. I had plenty of names. Great names. But Karla did not approve my suggestions. I don’t know why. My favorites were Foot, Finger or Blue.

In my thinking, if our child became a star beach volleyball player what better name could he have than “Foot” Prince? Imagine the endorsements for a star beach volleyball player named “Foot Prince.” If we spelled our name “Prints” instead of “Prince” it would have made more sense, but if you say “Prince” quick enough it works.

If our offspring became a famous police detective, wouldn’t “Finger” (Prince) be an awesome name for a super crime fighter?

An aspiring architect could not have a better name than “Blue” (Prince), could he? Karla said, “No!”

When Karla failed to see the wisdom of those choices, I suggested that we could give our boy a “normal” first name on the condition that his middle name was “Isa.” Of course, his official name would have been something like Harold “isa” Prince. Again she said, “No.”

Karla had names too. Mostly dumb names. She liked the name “Austin.” Austin? Why would any parent want to name their precious child after the home city of the University of Texas Longhorns? Are you kidding me? I vowed to call him some other Texan city, anything but “Austin.” “Come here, El Paso, it’s time for supper,” I threatened to say. My goodness, if we were going to name him after a college town, wouldn’t it had been better to name him Ann Arbor? Unfortunately, as all Johnny Cash fans know, naming him “Ann Arbor” would have been akin to having a boy “Sue.” That’s probably not a good thing. A boy named “Ann” might have a problem or two on elementary school playgrounds.

Finally with the prodding of Nurse Meany, we decided to name our young Prince, “Alexander.” It’s been a good regal name. It doesn’t have the same pizzazz as “Foot,” but Alex is selling insurance these days not spiking volleyballs on a California beach.

Why the walk down memory lane with you on this June morning?

Parents we have a responsibility to our kids. Giving a name that won’t cause bodily harm on the playground is only the beginning. We have a responsibility to show them the love of Christ. We have a responsibility to point them to the things of God and keep them from the things that will hinder their walk with God. I don’t know any perfect parents. We all make mistakes. Still we should strive to model before our kids Christ-likeness in our words and actions.

The Bible says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands… Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” (Deut. 6:5-8). Moms and dads, let’s tell and retell our kids of the great the love of God. It’s a never-ending, 24-hour job, but you can do it!

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Improving Pentecost– a few ideas

If I were starting a new religious movement, I don’t think I would pick as my primary mouth piece a guy who just a few days earlier had denied me three times. At best, the three-time, before the rooster-cock-a-doodle-dooed denier would get a two-year probationary period where his cowardly naysaying couldn’t infect anyone (especially servant girls by fire pits).

Apparently, that’s not the way God thinks or acts. He gives out second chances.

God must not pay attention to career day recommendations from the guidance counselors at Capernaum High School either. How else do you explain using a fisherman, industrial arts type of guy serving as your press secretary and chief spokesman?

And as you might expect the fisherman’s first sermon had a few flaws. For instance,

1) His delivery was all wrong. It was so bad the listeners thought he was drunk! “They must have had too much wine.” (Acts 2:13) If the crowd thinks you’re popping the top of an Ernest and Gallo or two before stepping into the pulpit that’s a pretty good indicator that you either A) need to work on your preaching skills; and/or B) are not preaching in a Nazarene church.

2) The sermon was too short. Porky Pig could have read the whole thing in less than three minutes from start to finish. How can you persuade anybody to do anything in less time than it takes to make an omelet? Maybe Peter could have told a funny story or two or at the very least tell some kind of fish story. I thought all fishermen could tell an interesting tale of “the one that got away” when given the opportunity. Maybe it wouldn’t have pertained to the message, but he wouldn’t be the first preacher to slip in a good story just to keep everybody listening.

3) Where are the three points? Every beginning homiletics student knows a good sermon must have three points. Not two points. Not four points. Three point sermons are a must—and it is highly recommended to have a tearjerker of an ending or you can kiss the altar call good-bye!  Wait a minute. There was no altar! Moreover, there was not an organist playing “Just as I am?” either? How many mistakes can a guy make in a sermon?

As you might know, the only thing that resulted following the too short and too poorly constructed sermon by a guy who never should have been preaching in the first place was a measly 3000 people converted! I guess that’s not too bad for a fisherman preaching his first sermon. I didn’t count the converts after my first sermon back in 1983, but I think it’s fair to estimate that there were significantly less than 3000 converted. My first sermon was in Alanson, Michigan (total population 741). So if everyone in the whole town came to hear me preach (they did not) and if everyone in the whole town converted (A Jonah and Nineveh-like revival it was not), the conversion tally still would have fallen 2, 259 people short. But who’s counting? I had three points in my sermon—you can count that wiseguy!!

All this to say, God knows what he is doing!

He did then.

He does now.

Pentecost didn’t need improving. God took a rag tag group of 120 followers on the Day of Pentecost and had a guy preaching his first sermon who just a few short weeks earlier could not stand before a slave girl without denying Jesus; and as these newly empowered believers poured onto the streets proclaiming the good news of Jesus their number quickly became 3120!

The movement hasn’t looked back since!

Transforming the world isn’t about fancy words, glitzy entertainment, manipulating crowds or man-made methods of attraction.   The only hope for our world is transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that was at work in Jerusalem infilling those early believers on Pentecost can be at work in us. The same power that moved as a mighty rushing wind can blow through Flint! The same God who lit the fires of revival back then has told us to pray that God’s kingdom would come to Flint as it is in heaven! Pentecost can happen in the land flowing with Vernors and Koegels!

Let’s pray for a modern Pentecost to happen to us!