Friday, June 19, 2009

Touching Base! Part 43

What’s In A Name?

How many names do you go by? You probably do not just have one name but a number of names, nicknames or names that endear you (I am being positive) to certain people. For example at home my wife calls me Honey, and my kids call me Dad. I sometimes wonder what my dog would call me, seeing that we named her Sissy. Outside of the home I get called Mr. Kotchapaw, Mark, Pastor Kotchapaw, Kotch or by strangers “Hey you!”

Names are important. They are a means of self-revelation. They tell people something fundamental about us. What's more, the names people use to address us reveal something about the nature of their connection to us. When we meet someone, one of the first pieces of information we desire is that person's name. The disclosure of the name is the prelude for building a relationship.

In the ancient Near East, great significance was attached to personal names, for they revealed character and identity and signified existence.

“Throughout the Old Testament, God reveals himself to his chosen people through various names or titles—both those that he gave to himself and those that his servants were inspired to ascribe to him or to the place where he appeared to them. These names served to identify and describe God, but they also exhorted God's people to holy living, gave them hope, reminded them of their heritage, and challenged them to continue their pilgrimage of faith.” (Ken Hemphill)

For several Sundays during the summer months we are going to be looking at these various names of God, because we desire to help our people grow in their intimacy with Him, and looking at the various names of God will help us appreciate His character, trust in His leadership and worship Him for who He truly is.

Join us on this adventure. On the back side of this article are some examples of the names of God and the context in which they are found. Why not read through this material as you reflect on Scripture and allow the name of God to prompt your worship and prayer to God?



When Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac, God provided a ram for the offering in Isaac's stead, prompting Abraham to declare that he now understood God as Yahweh-Yireh, The Lord Will Provide (Gen. 22:14).

After God empowered Israel's army to defeat the Amalekites, Moses built an altar and named it Yahweh-Nissi, The Lord Is My Banner (Exod. 17:15).

Upon receiving God's call to be an instrument to deliver Israel, Gideon built an altar and named it Yahweh-Shalom, The Lord Is Peace (Judg. 6:24).

Reflecting upon God's faithfulness through both exhilarating victories and depressing defeats, David called him Yahweh-Rohi, The Lord Is My Shepherd (Ps. 23:1).

At the conclusion of the detailed description of the New Jerusalem, speaking for God, Ezekiel prophesied that the place would be called Yahweh-Shammah, The Lord Is There (Ezek. 48:35).

Touching Base! Part 42

Good News?

I have been most encouraged these days with the many comments from a number of individuals about how well things seem to be going at Bethel, and how there seems to be a sense of excitement, anticipation and energy. I hear comments about all the new families and individuals who are attending or about how people are stepping up to help out, or even about how the “friendliness factor” is on the rise here at the church. I think many people are humbly grateful for the many positive things that are happening at Bethel.

To what can we attribute this? God’s blessing and energizing is, first and foremost, the reason. Secondly, God is using people to work His purposes in and through Bethel. As people who have an honest heart to serve Christ step up to the plate, the upside is going to be incredible blessing for the church. Paul makes exactly this point when he says in Ephesians 4:16:

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

I think another reason for increased health is that we have been able to identify what our “business” is (making disciples) and we have engaged in a healthy process of prayerfully figuring out how we are going to go about doing that. Remember the 3G’s?

That having been said, without putting a fly in the soup or raining on the parade, I think we must be increasingly concerned about the priority of touching a needy world that does not know Christ. If it is true that Bethel is growing toward greater health, it should manifest itself by us becoming a church which touches, ministers, intervenes, cares, and comes alongside people who need Christ. In other words, our increased health should make us a bigger blessing to the community around us who are secularists, agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Hindus, and just plain “religious”. Our health should challenge the many that have a low view of the Church and of Jesus Christ. Our health should spill over and transform a needy world.

If our increased health does not result in cultural transformation, if our light does not shine brighter as a result, then what kind of Church health are we experiencing? What kind of condition are we truly in?

Always interested in your response.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Touching Base! Part 41


How many of us who are parents realize that “once a parent, always a parent”? Parenting is definitely not something we do for a season and then “graduate” to the non-parenting season of our lives. I have discovered that once you sign up, you sign up for life, no pencil or erasable ink. The signature is permanent, the task is lifelong, and the prayers are continuous.

One thing that Rhonda and I are discovering is that, on this lifelong parenting track, we have much to learn at every phase. From diapers to playpens, from Sesame Street to Wii, we are learning much as our children have moved through these phases:

We are learning the art of long-distance parenting. Two of our three children live outside of our home, one in Calgary and the other in Ottawa, and our youngest still eats out of our fridge on a daily basis. We have transitioned with the two oldest from nightly mealtime talks, and regular face-to-face exchanges to weekly phone calls and seasonal visits. For us, long-distance parenting has meant not knowing all of our kids’ friends, not knowing everything about their context, and being on the outside when it comes to a lot of their daily decisions. Yet the weekly phone calls and seasonal visits keep us in tune and in touch with how their lives are unfolding. It is interesting (and challenging) to watch them deal with some of the adult issues that come as one experiences life outside of the nest.

We are learning to commit them to the care of the Parent who sees them all the time. I often think how “once upon a time in another land far far away”, my children were totally dependent on me and my wife. We held them, changed them, and decided what they would eat. As they grew, independence became a greater part of the equation, but we still had the final vote on many issues. But now, with two of them out of the house, the fact is that we just don’t have that same degree of influence. They must now fly solo on many issues and we trust and pray that their Parent Who sees all things will help and guide them with many of the tough choices and looming temptations of life.

We are learning that their journey will look different than ours. I left home around 1981, but our kids now are experiencing this transition in the early part of the 21st century. It is fair to say that the world has changed a lot since 1981. And not only has the world changed, but my kids are not me! How they process issues, their career ambitions, their maturity, walk with God and relationships are in some ways similar, but in others very very different. While God is the same yesterday, today and forever, I must prayerfully and patiently realize that their journey will look different. In some ways they may be far more mature than I was when I was their age. In other ways, I was further ahead. I think we have to be careful to give them their space, not preach but encourage and respect the process as being different.

Many who come to Bethel are currently parents. Some are young moms and dads, others have grey hair and are empty-nesters. Why not take a moment in your busy week and pray for parents? It’s a tough job, whether you are changing a diaper or connecting regularly with a grown child who lives miles away. But we are in this for life, or until death do us part!