MAINTAIN A GOOD NAME

In the summer of 1976 my parents visited Manitoba, Canada and took a number of pictures of fascinating things and places.  One picture that really tickled my fancy was that of Josiah Flintabbatey Flontain, (Flinty for short) a fictional character for whom the town of Flin Flon was named.  

flintabbatey-flonatin-monument-in-manitoba
The image of Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin graces the community in a monument to the town’s founder..

According to an “official” website, the town began with a prospector’s claim and a dime store novel.  Flinty, was the hero of a science fiction novel that was found in the wilderness by gold prospectors in the early 1900s.  When the prospectors found gold in 1914, they remembered the story of Flinty and called their claim Flin Flon. 

flin-flon-manitoba-canada
The community known as Flin Flon in Manitoba, Canada, as seen in 1976.

The name stuck, and Flin Flon became one of Manitoba’s largest cities. See the town’s website for more information on this unique community to our North.  See http://www.cityofflinflon.ca/tourist-bureau-park-campground-museum 

The name of Flin Flon had its genesis in a fictional character who was much beloved by the people in the area and they were willing to be known by his name.  Names are important.  They say something about who we are.  Names identify us and distinguish us from other people.  (Remember when you first learned of someone else who had “your” first name?  Takes some getting used to when you are a young child!) 

While Flinty was a fictional character, another One whose name we follow was not fictional.  Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and resurrected from the grave.  All this is written in the Holy Bible and is fact, not fiction.  He ascended into heaven where He lives to intercede on behalf of those who claim His name in faith and who have received the gift of salvation. Also fact, not fiction.

The Greek word for Christ is Christos meaning “anointed”, and “The Christ” was the anointed one of God, the Messiah, and the Son of God.  It follows from this that a believer in Jesus Christ would be called Christianos or a “follower of Christ”.  And that is exactly what the first believers were called as noted in the book of Acts:

… And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

Acts 11:26 ESV

 

They learned Jesus’ teachings, His way of life, His relationship with God, His desires for them to be witnesses to others, and much more.  Jesus is not physically here right now to teach us, but we are not left to wonder what a His disciple should do.  He expressed what discipleship was on many occasions, but in Matthew it is stated as follows:

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. …”  

Matthew 10:24-25 ESV

We as believers carry Christ’s name.  As Christians, we are to be like Him. But, we cannot be like Him if we don’t learn of Him by studying His Word, by worshiping with other believers, by praying and by listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who indwells us and who is charged with the job of growing us into the likeness of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. 

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Romans 8:29 ESV  

Your name is much more than just the moniker that you use to sign checks or the letters you print on the Welcome name tag at a conference.  When someone says “Look, there is [your name]”, they are not speaking of your signature – they are speaking of you and all the aspects of you that they know.  Your name encompasses your life activities, your behavior, your words, your demeanor, your personality, your character and your witness.

That is why, in Proverbs 22:1, we read:

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

The application to believers in Christ is clear.  Your name should be honorable, your conduct should be gracious and there should be none of the debauchery that is so prevalent in today’s fallen, godless world.  A Christian must never rank the approval of man over the truth of God and His Word.

Your name, your personal choice to honor God and live for Him, may be the witness that will be used by the Holy Spirit to draw people to God and His life-giving hope.

Choose a good name above all else – be a Christian disciple, learner, pupil of our Lord and seek Him all your days.  You will be blessed both now and in eternity.

 

Lord, help me to see You in all things.  Where there is anxiety, let me put my head on Your breast and let me hear Your heart of love reminding me that You are in control even when my world is falling apart.  Where there is fear, let me put my hands in Yours and so I can see the scars from the nails where You sacrificed Your life in payment of my sins.  Holy Spirit, guide my steps and my words so that I can be an effective witness for my Lord and Savior.

 

 

I’ll be home for Christmas

 

 

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me”.  It was recorded by Bing Crosby during war times and was intended to express the feelings of the soldiers who were far from home at Christmas and also to encourage those at home in realizing that their loved one was thinking about them, as they were thinking of the soldier. 

Often, by the end of the song, I have misty eyes as I remember Christmas times in the past when things were easier, when loved ones were still with us, when the children were young.  All the fondness from memories of years past comes crashing in especially when I have been away from home at Christmas time.

While this is an awesome concept and many of us do return to our natal homes for the holiday, it really has no application to Christmas for the Christian.  It sounds great in Hallmark movies or as sentiment in a song, but do you really think that Jesus was anxious to return to the manger to celebrate his birthday?  Scripture says:

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7

nativity
The nativity scene as sewn on a Christmas tree skirt.

 

Even during His ministry, Jesus did not have his own place to live.  Scripture gives this statement from our Lord:

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Matthew 8:20

Of course, the reality is that Jesus did have a “home”.   Three of the disciples saw a bit of Jesus’ nature from His “home” at the transfiguration. 

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. …  He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.

Matthew 17:1-2, 5-6.

Paul tells of it like this:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11.

Paul is telling us that Jesus did not hang on to his position in Heaven, but He willingly took human form as a baby.  This does not mean that He no longer was part of the Trinity that existed before there was any created order. (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-2; 11:3)  He was both God and man, a mystery that we cannot fully comprehend but we accept through faith.  He came from Heaven and, after His resurrection and further ministry on earth, He returned to His Father in Heaven.  Acts 1:11. 

What does this have to do with the believers’ home?  Paul specifically states in Philippians 3:20 that “our citizenship is in heaven”.   The note on this verse in the Reformation Study Bible says:

Just as Philippi was a Roman colony (Acts 16:12), the church is a colony of heaven.  Although presently at a great distance, physically speaking, from the heavenly “city” where the redeemed can see the Lord reigning over all creation in glory, the followers of Jesus already belong to that city, which defines their identity and eternal privileges.

The song “I’ll be home for Christmas” relates to our physical home here on this planet.  But, for the believers in Jesus Christ, we may live on earth, but our citizenship is in Heaven where we will live eternally with our Lord. 

Here is the song as sung by Frank Sinatra on the album Christmas With The Rat Pack.

 

So, I challenge you to think about your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ each time you hear “I’ll be home for Christmas” this Christmas season.  Think about the glories that are yours through His sacrifice and reflect on your assurance that Heaven is where your citizenship lies.

 

Father, I thank You for sending Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ, to this earth as a little baby that we celebrate this season.  I pray that I would not forget His coming in all the parties, dinners, activities of the season, and I pray that I would remember that my home is in Heaven, where my citizenship has been guaranteed by my Savior and His Spirit.