Read an Excerpt
The Personal Tag
Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Luke 10: 20
I have a strange habit. Whenever I travel, the first thing I do upon checking into a hotel or stopping for gas is to open the local phone book. I want to know whether anyone else has my name. So far, no one has. But then, I have an unusual name: S. Rickly Christian.
That name, assigned by my parents, was written on a blue plastic bracelet and attached to my arm shortly after birth. These bracelets, given to all babies, were the hospital's way of ensuring that newborns wouldn't accidentally get switched.
Later, that name was the first word I learned to scribble with crayons. It became the name my friends used when they shouted for me down a crowded locker hall; the name my coach bellowed when I didn't swim fast enough; the name my girlfriend whispered in my ear, causing goose bumps on my neck.
More than any other label, my name symbolizes who I am: my personality, my dreams, my failures, my successes. And it's such a personal tag that my ears pop when I hear my name mentioned in conversation.
To know that my name, according to Luke, is a matter of celestial chitchat causes my mind to pop! Are you sure, Luke? My name recorded in God's Book of Life? I suppose God could keep roll more efficiently by using my social security number or bank access code. Numbers are easier to program, but God evidently prefers to use names.
That preference, I think, reflects the kind of personal relationship he wants to build with me. It's his way of assuring me that I matter; I'm not just some insignificant blip or digit code in the far corner of the universe.
Perhaps that is why the Bible is so full of long genealogies--God didn't want to miss a single name!
God's use of my name also signals his concern for the things my name represents: everything from my biggest hurts to my highest hopes. My name in my yearbook reminds my friends of such things as the day we shared together at the beach, the time we cried when we learned of another friend's cancer, the times we belly-laughed at a good joke.
My name, I believe, triggers the same kinds of memories in God's mind: the times we talked together in prayer, the time he comforted me during my mom's illness, the time I was dazzled by the splash of color he gave a peacock.
Looking back, those were special times, times of getting to know each other on a first-name basis.
See also: 1 Chronicles 1-9; Matthew 1: 1-17
"They said ..."
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3: 5- 6
A few years ago, officials at McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, became very sensitive about the topic of earthworms.
If you had mentioned the subject in the office, chances were good you'd have been tackled by a wart-faced fry cook and gagged with a half-dozen sesame seed buns. The reason: Ronald McDonald and his Golden Arch cohorts were fighting a rumor that they used the creepy crawlers as protein substitute in their burgers.
The rumor spread across America like ... well, like earthworms after a spring rain. Sales slumped, and the king of the burger was forced to launch a lavish campaign to regain its reputation.
Rumors usually don't reach such proportions. Often they just circulate among a close circle of friends in places like school locker halls and cafeterias. And generally the rumors damage lives and individual reputations, not those of corporations.
Such was the case when the new girl moved to town from Florida. Other girls at school felt threatened. They didn't have her cover-girl looks or Seventeen wardrobe. So they protected themselves by talking behind her back.
"You're kidding! I never knew that," said one girl. And before long tongues were wagging all over campus. To make the story really juicy, they'd pad the tale a little here, stretch a bit there. Soon, this poor girl's life was on the rocks--shipwrecked.
The anguish she must have felt and tears she must have cried are probably similar to a case I read about in which a woman's suicide note simply read, "They said ..."
She didn't complete the sentence. Something "They said" killed her.
See also: Psalm 140: 1-3; Romans 1: 29-32; 1 Peter 3: 8-12