Basic Training
Basic Training

  • Ephesians 6:10-24
  • The Whole Armour of God-1
  • The Whole Armour of God-2
  • The Whole Armour of God-3
  • The Whole Armour of God-4
  • The Whole Armour of God-5
  • Religion vs Spirituality?
  • Worshipping Jesus
  • Is Satan the ruler of this world?
  • Why Jesus?
  • Which Bible Version?
  • Who Doesn't Tithe?
  • How Do We Name Our Churches?

  • Ephesians 6:10-24 (words by the apostle Paul)

    10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

    11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

    15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

    16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

    17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

    18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

    19And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

    20For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

    21But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:

    22Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

    23Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    24Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

    The Whole Armour of God - 1

    To my siblings... The next time you want to punch someone's lights out who has plainly done you wrong, remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    It's foolish to try to fight those type of things with punches and kicks or with bullets and bats. It's a spiritual battle. The devil's tactic is to bring you out of your spiritual mindframe and cause you to forget your spiritual weaponry (and armour of God) and try to physically or verbally solve your problems with people. That way, you'll lose every time. Because if you do beat them up (physically or with words), you lose. If they beat you up, you lose. You lose either way. Think smart. Think spiritually.

    You should not wait until you get to the battlefield to put on your spiritual armour. You should already be ready when you roll out of bed. Howso? Because you should have went to sleep with it on. It's called sleeping readyroll. You never know when you'll get a rude awakening.

    Also notice how the scripture says put on the WHOLE armour of God, so you can stand against the wiles of the devil, not part of the armour... Not a helmet and a shield. (i.e. the helmet of salvation and the shield of faith)

    (wiles: tricks, strategies, that will leisurely draw your mind away or divert your attention or deceive you.)

    Too often, we think we can withstand the devil's tricks simply because we are saved or because we have faith. That's not enough to keep you from being touched... the whole armour of God is needed. That's why we have fallen to temptation, because we only had part of the armour on. It's not always an easy lesson to learn, but it does need to be learned. And the sooner, the better.

    Also, notice quickly too that verse 12 says "spiritual wickedness." Many people are quick to say "I'm very spiritual" as if it's a good thing. You must ask, by what spirit(s) do they mean when they say "spiritual?" Because just as someone can be spiritually righteous, they can also be spiritually wicked.

    Also, notice quickly too that verse 13 says "and having done all, to stand." Instead of just doing some things or most things, we need to do all to stand. We need to go all out. I've been casual about it at times, but casual doesn't work. Ephesians 6, even still, is only part of it.

    1) Your loins girt about with truth
    2) having on the breastplate of righteousness
    3) your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
    4) the shield of faith (very important)
    5) the helmet of salvation
    6) the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
    7) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit
    8) watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints

    Shod, I believe is the past tense of shoe, but you just can't put an ed on the end of shoe. Which reminds me, if there are any words you don't understand, look them up.

    The Lord is Jesus

    -Éric L Farrell

    The Whole Armour of God - 2

    Reading the scripture above, we are brought to another realization. Verse 10 says "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." It does not say, "in the power of your might," but in the power of the Lord's might. We are not to rely on our own strength and might or walk in our own power. We are to walk in His power, now having access to His power. No doubt, you've heard people say "I'm only human" when they fall to temptation and transgress. You may have even said this yourself before. What you were really saying is "I'm weak." And yes humans have some element of weakness, I agree, but lets remember that excuse of being a human doesn't pertain to you anymore. You know why? In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul testifies "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."

    Some may say that "a new creature" doesn't necessarily mean "a new type of creature," but I say that healing people is not a human characteristic, prophesying is not a human characteristic, seeing beyond another's physical exterior is not a human characteristic, communicating with another person through the spirit is not a human characteristic, casting out spirits from people is not a human characteristic. Read the testimonies in the Bible or read some testimonies from today in Minh's Journal (a friend of mine). I have testimonies of my own as well, which I'll share later.

    Unfortunately, the strongest man in the world is weak if he doesn't know where his strength lies. We are strong in the Lord when we realize it. Use your God's strength that's He's put within you.

    No temptation is impossible to resist. The next time you feel like giving up and saying "I tried, but I just couldn't do it," read Hebrews 12:4 which says, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." I'm trying to paraphrase that, but I think that's as simple as it gets. You haven't tried hard enough. You sure didn't reach the point of bleeding yet from resisting against sin. You can try a little harder. You gave in to easily. Give it all you've got. Better yet, give it all God's got.

    -Éric L Farrell

    The Whole Armour of God - 3

    (note: "ye" is usually a plural word, so at the end of the section above, the scripture is not just saying, you have not resisted unto blood, but you all have not resisted together unto blood. Remember that our strength is not just found in us as individuals and in God, but in each other as well. Sometimes if we're facing temptation of some sort, we have a call up a brother or sister in Christ and get some help fighting it. Call for back-up.)

    While looking at the passage about the whole armour of God, I noticed something interesting. There is no armour for the back. Why is this? I'd like to hear what you think.

    If you ask me though, I'll tell you it's because we shouldn't be in a position where we need armour for our back. If you're wounded in the back, that usually means that you're not facing your enemy. Perhaps you're running away. I don't remember one honourable example of anyone in the Bible running away in battle (I forgot about Joseph who ran from Pharoah's wife when she tried to force him to "lay" with her. The Bible does tell us in 1 Cor 6:9 to "flee fornication," so there are some things we are not supposed to try to stand and battle with or rely on armour. We dealt with this situation about Joseph and fleeing fornication on January 16 bible notes.) Even those who were killed for righteousness' sake did not try to run away and did not turn their back on the enemy. Even when God called the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and the Egyptians pursued them, they weren't running, they were going into the wilderness to hold a feast unto God there (Ex 5:1).

    Why would someone turn their back on the enemy? I can think of a few reason. One would be fear, which would essentially be the presence of doubt in God... the lack of faith in God; forgetting that God is not a three letter word on a piece of paper, He is the almighty.

    Another reason, a very popular reason these days, is not regarding your enemy as a danger. We can't take the devil so lightly that we walk right past him and turn out back to him and expect to just skip along without getting wounded or taken down. So not only are we supposed to keep our armour on, but we should remain aware of our enemy as well. Some of our ailments are the result of us walking around exposed to attack, whether it's from not having armour on or not remaining watchful and aware of our enemy, Satan.

    Some of us at times become as temporary athiests, acting as if there is no God or Satan and no spiritual war going on. I've done it myself. We wonder aimlessly like the doubting Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, in the wrong place and time, just as vulnerable as can be. But wait, they weren't taking their enemy lightly. No, they weren't, but they were afraid, and doubting God. Furthermore, they were lost. They didn't know which way to go. They had stopped taking direction from God. That's another way we can expose our back; wondering around lost with no direction.

    The Whole Armour of God - 4

    Ephesians 6:16
    "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
    Of course, Satan cannot let this go undealt with. So what is Satan's plan of attack against the shield of faith? How do the wicked get us to end up in a vulnerable position without our shield?

    Someone recently said "You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips." I didn't check yet to see what that person's spiritual belief was, but I've heard something similar by many people, teaching that you should just live a good example, without verbally preaching to people about Jesus. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have bought that.

    The idea almost lines up with 1 Timothy 4:16 "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." Read closely. It doesn't say you'll save them that see you, but them that hear you. Not only should you be living right, but you should be verbally talking about something too.

    Jesus told his disciples to go preach His word. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, 'whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.'" A few verses later "'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall hey hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:10-14)

    A few verse later Paul points out that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)

    We know it's true that if someone were to simply live a seemingly "good" nice life, yet did not proclaim why, how, or by who they were able to live that life, the people watching them may think it was done by some other means, positive thinking, or some other belief or life principle. The onlookers would remain lost, not knowing who to turn to, because they have not been told. They would remain lost, and perish.

    Who preaches non-verbally? Nobody does. Hypocritically, other groups tell the Christian to do it. I say hypocritically because those other groups don't remain silent. Everyone from Gays, to Muslims, to Scientologists, to Weed Smokers, to Alcoholics, to Porn Stars, to Evolutionists, to Atheists, to Animal Rights Activists, and whoever else, all preach verbally, promoting their cause. Even murderers, drug dealers, pimps, and fornicators verbally preach guns, drugs, sexual impurity, and all sorts of profanities. If you don't believe me, just listen to the music and read the magazines and they'll verbally teach you all you need to know to live that life.

    I think the idea that one can effectively "preach silently" is a myth that people usually just try to sell to Christians (followers of Christ) to try to keep us quiet about Jesus. Don't you agree? Here in America, they'll try to hurt your pockets or try to ake you feel ashamed, but in some other places, they'll physically persecute you, torture you, or kill you if you preach Jesus. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Let's not be tricked into putting down our shield of faith.

    Jesus is the Lord

    -Éric L Farrell

    p.s. Romans 10:17; Psalm 145:11; Ephesians 6:16

    The Whole Armour of God - 5

    Ephesians 6:17
    "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"

    So what is the Sword of the Spirit?
    And why is it called the word of God?
    Just like a regular sword divides physical things, the Word of God (sword of the spirit) divides spiritual things.

    Those who follow God's Word in the Bible will believe and act differently, living by different morals or principles (the principles that God establishes) than those that don't believe and follow it. Those who don't follow God's Word will not follow these same principles. There will be a difference between the two. Sometimes it may be noticeable to the naked eye, sometimes it won't. What divides the two is the Word of God.

    For example, God says that witchcraft is wrong (it's recorded in the Bible that God has said that). There are those who will not practice witchcraft because they love God and believe God's word regarding that issue; they believe witchcraft is wrong. They should not be unified with those who practice witchcraft. Those who practice witchcraft, do so because they do not believe God's word; they do not believe witchcraft is wrong. Jesus came to bring the word of God so there would be a clear division between those who follow God, and those who won't. He says, "I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). The Bible has been sent here to cause division between the two.

    Some argue "only God knows the intent in my heart." That may be true. But what people often fail to realize is that the intent is one's heart is not a gray area. It is either black or white, and the Word of God can slice between those who have a black intent in their heart and a white intent in their heart (this isn't a reference to skin color, but we can use purple, blue and red if you're more comfortable with those colors instead of gray, black and white). And we are not quick enough to change the intent in our heart when we see God's spiritual blade swinging toward us, and we're not powerful enough to block it, nor agnostic enough to confuse it although we may confuse our self.

    Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." I'm told that the dividing line between bone and bone marrow is so indistinguishable, that you can't even tell from a microscope where one ends and the other begins. If the Word of God was a physical sword, it would be quick, powerful, and sharp enough to cut straight through the middle of that dividing line with one quick swipe.

    When God gave His word through Moses, it brought division between the Egyptians and the Hebrews (Exodus 8:23), and between those who followed God's Word and did what He told them to do (Exodus 9:19-20), and those who didn't do God's word (Exodus 9:25). Those who chose not to believe that Moses was chosen by God to deliver God's truthful word were not excused. The same is with those who choose not to believe God's Word from the mouth of God's other prophets, disciples, and apostles who delivered the scriptures to us, which are in the Bible.

    A sword is one of the most efficient and finely crafted tools in existence. It looks like a simple piece of sharpened metal, but it's much more intricate than that. Learn how Japanese swords are crafted and used, for example, while remembering how much greater the sword of the Spirit is than those.

    The Word of God reveals the thoughts of hearts (Luke 2:35).
    Do God's word, don't just hear God's Word (James 1:22).

    -Éric L Farrell

    Religion vs Spirituality?

    There's this new trend going on, and I just wanted to take a moment to address it very quickly.

    Many of my Christian brothers and sisters are reading their Bibles now, which is great. They are beginning to see some of the flaws in the way man has chosen to do things in "faith-based" institutions and they call those institutions "religion" (quotes because all of these organizations are not necessarily faith based). This leads them to badmouth religion, and say "religious people this," and "religious people that" and desire to be seen as spiritual, but not religious. They now think religious is bad.

    But this is not religion, not according to the Bible. If we're living and discerning by the Bible, then we must regard the words of the Bible, even when it comes to defining what "religion" is.

    The people who want to have nothing to do with Christians and the church say "Oh, I'm not religious," as if it's a badge of honor to say that. Neither do they know what the term religious means.

    In the Bible, it is defined as this: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." -James 1:27 (truth)

    Éric L Farrell

    Worshipping Jesus

    As 1 Peter 3:15 says, you be ready to give answer to anyone that may ask you why you worship Jesus or whether Jesus is to be worshipped. I'm not sure where the viewpoint comes from or what religion presented it, but it has been said by man that Jesus refused to be worshipped because he was just a man, but this is not true. I say it's not true due to the following scriptures below.

    Jesus was worshipped and hailed:
    Matthew 2:11; Matthew 8:2; Matthew 9:18; Matthew 14:33; Matthew 15:25; Matthew 20:20; Matthew 26:49; Matthew 28:9,17
    Mark 5:6
    Luke 24:52
    John 9:38
    Revelation 5:14 (5:5-14) as the Lamb

    Jesus said "all hail" and received worship:
    Matthew 28:9

    The ones who believed He should NOT be worshipped and hailed crucified Him:
    Matthew 27:29
    Mark 15:18-19
    John 19:3

    An apostle of Jesus, Peter, refused to be worshipped or bowed to, being just a man:
    Acts 10:25-26

    Éric L Farrell

    Is Satan the ruler of this world?

    I've heard it commonly said that Satan is the ruler of this world, but I could not find any such statement in my Bible, unless one is using the word "world" to mean "those outside of Christ." But I don't think that's what people mean when they say "Satan is the ruler of this world." I believe they mean "Satan is the ruler of this earth." Yet if Satan is the ruler of this earth, then what position is God playing?

    To speak plainly, the King James Version (KJV) says that Satan is the ruler of the darkness of this world (not the ruler of this world). The New International Version (NIV) appears to say that Satan is the ruler of this world. Some of the other versions I've checked aren't very clear as to whether they are or aren't calling Satan the ruler of this world. What does your Bible say? Who rules?

    Ephesians 6:12 (King James Version)

    Why Jesus?

    First, let's address the issue of the pronunciation of the name Jesus (Jeez-us) as we pronounce it in America. It is biblically permissible (fine with God) for a name to be said one way in one region or by a certain people and to be said a different way by others with a different language, but still be understood to be the same name. An example of this is in Revelation 9:11 "...which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon." That's a great example because we see the name difference is more than two groups of people pronouncing letters differently. It's one name said two completely different ways. In the English language we say His name as Jesus (Jeez-us), and I'm sure Jesus is well aware of that and not confused by it. Let's not insult His intelligence. Furthermore, the concern of Jesus was not "how do you all say my name?" but "who do you all say I am?" or "whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).
    God understands "unknown tongues" because 1 Corinthians 14:2 says "He that speaketh in an unkown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. So we know that God is able to understand what we are saying. He would also understand who's name it is we are calling.
    1 John 3:18 also let's us know that our words are of lesser concern than the things we do and what is in our heart. As also stated in (Isaiah 19:13), saying Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me. Now it should be noted we're not talking about making up different names for Jesus here, but we're talking about different groups of people saying His name differently, based on geographic location or nationality. I'm not saying that someone can just decide to call Jesus "Sprinkles" and everything will be good. That's not the issue that's being dealt with when we say "Jesus Christ." In my opinion, anyone trying to make the conversation into a "Sprinkles" argument is really just trying to start an argument because it's a game to them and they should not be taken seriously. You may n
    Now, does the Bible say Jesus is the only way to the Father or to Heaven? Does Jesus say this? And does Jesus need to say this? We'll also begin to look at what the Bible says about Jesus being God. Let's answer scriptural questions with scripture. The scriptures we're going to look at concerning this are:
    John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
    Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
    Matthew 26:28 "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
    Acts 4:10-12 " the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified.... Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
    John 15:23 "He that hateth me, hateth my Father also."
    Hebrews 1:8 "But unto the Son he saith, 'Thy throne, O God, for is ever and ever...'"
    Hebrews 9:2 "without shedding of blood is no remission."
    Hebrews 10:10 "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
    Revelation 1:8 "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
    Revelation 1:17-18 "I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore"
    Revelation 1:13-15 "one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot... his eyes were as a flame of fire... his fee like unto fine brass "
    Revelation 2:18 "these things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass."

    Which Bible Version?

    When it comes to Bible versions, does it really matter which one you use? Or can you just use which ever one you feel most comfortable with?

    I'll let you decide, but only after I point out some things you should look for before you decide. In fact, for the moment, I'll share some links to what some others have found, including one person who repented and denounced a popular version that he helped write.

    Who Doesn't Tithe? These men below.

  • John Wycliff
  • Martin Luther    (more...)
  • Charles H Spurgeon    (PDF format: APRIL 18, 1880, SERMON 2716 - Galatians 2:21)
  • John Wesley    (Sermon 50 "The Use of Money" 1744)
  • John Owen    (" is no safe plea for many to insist on, that tithes are due and divine.... there is nothing due under the gospel...")
  • Roger Williams (Early American Baptists didn't tithe)
  • John Smyth
  • John Bunyan
  • Dr. J Vernon McGee
  • John MacArthur    (Masters Seminary)
  • Charles "Chuck" Swindoll (Dallas Theological Seminary)
  • Francis Chan
  • George Barna
  • Michael & Mitchell Webb
  • Cornerstone Bible Church (Lilburn GA)
  • Westover Church (Greensboro NC)
  • The Flood Church (San Diego CA)
  • The Hill Ministries (Woodbridge VA)
  • Woodbridge Bible Church (Woodbridge VA)
  • Moody Bible Institute
  • others

    The Difference Between Giving and Tithing
    I'm sure the people mentioned above were givers, but they just didn't tithe. By definition, giving and tithing are not one and the same; they are different. Not only are they different, they are done differently, they are done for different reasons, and they have different consequences if not done. I need to make this distinction up front, because most Christians have been either directly or indirectly taught by preachers that giving and tithing are the same thing. To give an analogy, one of them is a prison train, and the other is a motorcycle. Yes, they are both transportation, but they are extremely different, and you do not want to mistake one of them for the other.

    It seems that most Christians have been confused about this point here. A man can walk into a church house and put money in the basket to help out the ministry, and he can do this without tithing. In much the same way, when one of your friends gave you something, they gave it to you. It was a gift. They did not tithe to you. They saw that you either needed it, wanted it, or they wanted you to have it. There was no limit on how much they could give you, and no requirement for how much they should give you. It didn't have to be your birthday or any special occasion. A tithe, however is completely different. Unlike giving, tithing does not allow you to decide the Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How. Tithing is an issue of legal compliance. It is the law that tells you who to tithe to, what to tithe, where to tithe, when to tithe, why you must tithe, and how you must do it. It is illegal to deviate from that who, what, where, when, why, and how. If you are a tither and you do not comply, then you are breaking the law, and you will face the consequences for breaking the law. There is nothing more to be said about it. However, under the New Testament of Jesus Christ, we are entered into a new covenant. Under this covenant, we are not bound to laws of the old covenant. Tithing was a law set forth and defined in the old covenant. That brings up a whole new set of questions to be answered, but right now I mentioned that simply to state the fact that we (in Christ) are not required to be tithers, since we are not held to the laws of that old covenant. When we understand that God does not require us to be tithers, then we can rest assured that we do not receive any consequences for not tithing, seeing that we have not broken the law, since the law does not apply to us. It would be like a free man binding himself to the laws of the prisoner. However, although we are not tithers, we are still able to be givers.

    The main reason many have confused giving with tithing, and do not know the difference between the two is because while many preachers teach people to tithe in our modern day, they use scriptures that talk about giving. This causes confusion. For example, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 is a scripture about giving. It is not a scripture about tithing. However, while telling people why they must tithe, many preachers will point to that scripture. However, when they point to this scripture, they do not specify that this scripture is not even talking about tithing. It's talking about giving. It even says "give." It does not say "tithe." In fact, nowhere in all of 1st or 2nd Corinthians are the words "tithe" or "tithes" ever used. In the whole New Testament, the words "tithe" or "tithes" is only found in Hebrews 7. They are also found in Matthew 23 and Luke 18, but technically that's still under the Old Testament since Jesus Christ (the testator) has not died on the cross yet, meaning the New Testament is not in effect yet because new covenant has not yet been entered into (Hebrews 9:15-20). I talk more about this below. However, the point I'm making here is that when tithing is taught by using scriptures that apply specifically to giving, then scripture is misapplied. It is wrongly dividing the Word of Truth. It is used wrongly, whether the preacher is intentionally using it wrong, or whether they just don't know any better because they have not themselves learned yet before trying to teach others. It is misused and that causes Christians to confuse the term "tithing" with "giving." Aside from 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 there are many other "giving" scriptures that are misused to teach about "tithing," which causes further confusion, but let's look at 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 to see what it actually says, and that it is about giving:
    6) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7) Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. Okay, it says "so let him give" and "God loveth a cheerful giver." It doesn't say "so let him tithe" and "God loveth a cheerful tither." What's being said in these verses cannot even be applied to tithing for the following reasons:
    1. It talks about sowing sparingly or bountifully. With tithing, there is neither sparingly or bountifully, because it's a fixed amount. It's literally the tenth. It's always the tenth and will never be more or less than the tenth, so the concept of "sowing" more or less cannot apply. It you tithe less than the tenth, it is breaking the law; if you tithe more than the tenth it is breaking the law, and to tithe less than or more than a tenth, is considered disobedient if the person is supposed to tithe (tenth).
    2. It says "every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;" A tithe is not something one decides with their heart how much or what to pay, because it is a mathematical calculation, and the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How is determined by God law, not each person's heart.
    3. It says this is not to be given "grudgingly, or of necessity:" For a tither, it is absolutely necessary. It is the law. It is illegal not to comply 100%. Someone under that law, needs to pay that tithe in order to escape being cursed. It must be followed for the people to be blessed.
    4. It says "cheerful giver." A tithe is not something that's given, it's something that's paid. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus said to the Pharisees "ye pay tithes of mint and cummin..." He didn't say give. The only time a tithe was ever mentioned as being "given" was in Genesis 14:20 by Abraham to Melchizedek, and that was before the law of tithing. It was not Abraham's fruits of his labor or his own goods that he tithed. Rather it was Sodom's stolen goods and people that he repossessed by slaughtering the perpetrators because they took his nephew, Lot. He gave that tithe to the priest Melchezedek, King of Salem (not Sodom), and apparently gave the rest of the recovered goods and people back to the King of Sodom, who it belonged to in the first place (asking only that Mamre and Eshcol may take their portion). The point I'm focusing on here is that it was something he decided to give, not something that was owed which he had to pay. Some would ask whether we may also "give" a tithe like Abraham outside of the law. And my answer would be, If it is a tithe you are speaking of giving, not paying, then it is not the same tithe spoken of in Malachi 3, because that tithe was something to be paid. And if you didn't pay it, it says there is a curse. That is the law. You cannot mix what Abraham did with what's in Malachi (the law) and create your own hybrid form of tithes that is both given as a gift, but has a consequence if the gift is not given. That does not fit the definition of a gift. You must do away with trying to follow the law in Malachi, and give, or either you must bind yourself to the law and admit that what you are doing is trying to tithe, not give. You are also not free to apply the law's Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How to you or your pastor's own definition of what tithing is. I would ask you to tell me, without referring to the law, what is a tithe? The "tithes" that pastors and church leaders collect today are defined from the law; the benefits of paying them are defined from the law; the consequences of not paying them are defined from the law. If you want to simply say, "I'm doing what Abraham did," then you are simply emulating Abraham. Emulation is not a virtue, it's a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:20), not fruit of the Spirit. It is not being led by God's Holy Spirit. It is not from your heart. It is copying what you saw someone else do. There was no definition or explanation of Abraham's tithe that would tell much of anything you can go by.
      Here's what we are told about Abraham's tithe:
    • Who (it was given by Abraham to Melchizedek)
    • When (when Melchizedek blessed him after he returned back from recovering that which was taken from the King of Sodom)
      But here's what we are not told:
    • What (it says "he gave him tithes of all," but it doesn't say whether that includes the stuff he recovered that belonged to the King of Sodom. Did Abraham only give a tithe of his own possessions and people? or just his goods? his money, but not his goods, and not the people?)
    • Where (was it done in a temple, a synagogue, a church house, in a pit, in the King's castle, at a storehouse, a treasury, in the pulpit? etc.)
    • When (was it done every Sunday morning, on the Sabbath, on a regular workday, once a lifetime? On a fifty year cycle, divided into seven by seven years, followed by a year of Jubilee? etc.)
    • How (how did he go about actually giving this tithe? Did he place it all in an envelope and put his name and address on it and check the appropriate box? Did he report it to the government and write it off? Was it a grand event? Did he hand it off to someone else and entrust that person to go take it to Melchizedek, or did he give it to him himself?)
    • Why (did Melchizedek need it to continue his ministry? Did he need it to give to the poor? Was Abraham giving it simply because Mechizedek blessed him? or because God delivered the enemies into his hand? Did he see someone else pay a tithe before and he thought it'd be a good idea? Did God come to this prophet Abraham and tell him to do it? Was it because Melchizedek didn't have a mother, father, descent, family and therefore didn't have any inheritance, similar to the strangers, fatherless, widows and Levites who, under the law, received a portion of the tithes? Was this simply done once in history so that the Levites did not have to later tithe, since Levi was inside of Abraham when Abraham gave, and therefore are counted as having already paid their tithes? Hebrews 7:10)
    • Consequences (there are no mentioned consequences for Abraham if he had not giving a tithe to Melchizedek)
    • Benefits (there are no mentioned benefits for Abraham for giving a tithe to Melchizedek)

    Seeing that Abraham is neither mentioned to be cursed or blessed for his tithing action, then I also assume that this is not what Christians are trying to do these days. Christian who are trying to tithe, are doing so because they believe they will be blessed for doing so or cursed if not, though some may not admit it. That shows that what they are following is under the old testament law. 95% of the Christian tithers I speak to about the issue of tithing justify their actions based on a personal testimony about being blessed or cursed associated with tithing or not tithing. There is no logic to believing in the blessings associated with it, but not believing in the curse associated with it. That would be like believing in Heaven, but not Hell, or good but not evil. If we can be blessed simply by giving, as 2 Corinthians says, there is no need to tithe. Being taught by Christ, led by the Word of God, and governed by the Holy Spirit within us is sufficient. We know what needs to be given, we know why we need to give, and where it needs to be given, and if we don't know, the Holy Spirit is fully capable of leading us if we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. Furthermore, as the scripture says, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. To further study these things, one should search the Bible to learn the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of tithes. As you study, it will also help to know that the role of priest is key in tithing and that a pastor is not the same as a priest or high priest, and does not serve the same purpose or fulfill the same functions.
    Tithing in the New Testament
    So far, I've always seen this fact overlooked, so I will mention that when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about tithing in Matthew 23:23 they were still under the Old Testament. Yes, even in Matthew they are in the Old Testament. The New Testament doesn't come into effect until Matthew 27:51 when Jesus died on the cross and the veil was rent in twain. This is taught from Hebrews 9:16-21, saying that the blood of Jesus Christ (the testator) was necessary to put the New Testament into effect (through a blood covenant). This means that Jesus was not acknowledging, allowing, or condoning the continuance of tithing in the New Testament when He mentioned it in Matthew 23:23, because Matthew 23:23 was still Old Testament. Yes, Jesus was born, but the birth of Jesus did not bring the New Testament into effect; the death of Jesus brought it into effect. This means the word "tithe" (singular) is never used in the New Testament, and the word "tithes" (plural) is only used four times in the New Testament; all four times are in Hebrews 7 (verses 5,6,8,9) which comes down to verse 12 which says, "for the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Remember, verse 5 said "they that are the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham." The priesthood was changed, the law was changed, and that law even was among them and their brethren. This law that the sons of Levi were under is found in the book of Leviticus in the Bible.

    To further study these things, one should search the old testament of the Bible to learn the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of tithes. As you study, it will also help to know that the role of priest is key in tithing and that a pastor is not the same as a priest or high priest, and does not serve the same purpose or fulfill the same functions.
    (I used red and underline to highlight the correlations)

    "How Do We Name Our Churches?" by Neil Cole
    8/28/2013 (originally published 3/3/2010)

    How do we name our churches?: From our Jurisdiction to the King's Reign

    "What's in a name? A rose is a rose by any other name."

    -William Shakespeare

    Download/Print Article (PDF)

    My friend and mentor, Bob Logan has an unusual collection. He collects church names he has come across in his travels over the years. Here are some actual names of churches he has encountered in his journey (with some commentary from yours truly):

    • Accident Baptist Church is obviously not Calvinist.
    • First Church of the Last Chance World on Fire Revival and Military Academy (in Dade City FL). These folks have the first and last word on just about any subject. I don't even want to ask what sort of military they are training.
    • Greater Second Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN, stands in contrast, I guess, to the not so great second Baptist church around the corner?
    • For those who do not want to commit all the way, you can go to the Halfway Baptist Church. On the other hand, Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church in South Carolina is not a seeker sensitive church by any stretch of the imagination. You have to be really committed to attend this church; none of those "Halfway Baptists" will be found here. Of course everyone is welcome at Faith Free Lutheran. Like "sugar free" this is a church that contains no calories, convictions...or miracles.
    • Little Hope Baptist Church sounds a tad better than another church called No Hope United Methodist Church. Kind of makes you sad just saying it.
    • My personal favorite church name: Original Church of God, Number 2. I really can't think of anything to add that could possibly be funnier than the name itself...except for perhaps number 3.
    • Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church is another one of those "truth in advertising" names, but this church goes the extra mile because the name of their pastor is Elder Dull. Perhaps there are more exciting ways to spend your Saturday?
    • Harmony Baptist Church in East Texas is a name that doesn't sound so bad. The funny thing is that it is only a half-mile away from Harmony Baptist Church #2. I guess they are not so harmonious after all.
    • Battle Ground Baptist Church...aren't they all?
    • Waterproof Baptist Church in Louisiana begs the question: does the baptism count if you're water repellant?
    • Country Club Christian Church is in Kansas City, but you're actually likely to find some of these in every city. This may be the fastest growing model of church in America.
    • James Bond United Community Church in Toronto, is of course "shaken, not stirred." St. Martini Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, is also shaken, and not stirred and comes with an olive or a twist of lemon if you prefer. Of course the Lutherans can actually drink a Martini so I guess it isn't such a stretch to name your church after one, or is it.
    • When Paul spoke of being all things to all people I doubt that he had this in mind: First United Separated Baptist Church. This church in Indiana needs to decide which it is, united or separated?
    • Hell For Certain is a church in Kentucky but for some reason they do not have too many visitors, no one wants to go there. Does their advertisement in the yellow pages read: Go to Hell For Certain, Sunday at 10 AM? There is also Hell Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is in Hell, MI. You could say: people are dying to go there!
    • Lover's Lane Episcopal Church is a very open church, but watch out if someone wants to show you the submarine races in the baptismal pool...their Episcopal, they sprinkle.

    Truth in advertising aside, one has to wonder what people were thinking when they decided upon names like these. We do not often think about names unless we hear of one that is strange or comical. I can't tell you how many times someone has introduced him/herself to me and the name simply went in one ear and flew right out the other leaving me embarrassed to have to ask a second time what their name is. To my shame there have even been times I have had to ask a third time. If only there was something between the two ears to catch the names as they passed through.

    When we are expecting a child we give much thought to a name, but once they have the name it is simply who they are to us. We stop thinking about the name and only think of the person.

    Because we name things so often, and names often get lost in the yellow pages, you may be inclined to think that a whole chapter about naming churches is a little too much. I would like to invite you to consider a church's name and it's naming as more important than you would first think. Taxonomy actually plays a significant role in the Bible. In the Scripture a name is an important thing and it should be to us as well. There are well over a thousand verses in the Bible that have the word "name" mentioned and in many of those verses the word is mentioned more than once. Perhaps because we have lost the true impact of a name in the Madison Avenue world of branding and market placement we are tempted to think that a chapter on naming a church is a waste of paper...but that would be wrong. I firmly believe that we have lost something in the naming of church.

    Coming up with a name is serious business in more ways than one. There is a sense of permanence that comes with naming something, so you want to think about the long-term implications. A poor name can wreak havoc in a person's life.

    When my wife and I were awaiting the birth of our first child we gave considerable time to thinking about what the name would be. We bought a book of names and read through it weighing each one. We settled on two possibilities, one for a boy and one for a girl. For the girl's name we chose Brittany (along with 33% of the other couples that year-she has had at least two Brittanys in every class while growing up). When our daughter was born and her mother and I looked at her we instantly knew she was a Heather, not a Brittany. She's been Heather ever since (usually there is only one other Heather in each class).

    Naming my son was a much more challenging ordeal. Why? Because of my own name and the names of my father, his father before him and the one before him. While most know me as Neil, my real name is Cornelius. I am Cornelius Cole the fourth!

    My grandfather Cornelius Cole II goes by the name Neil. My own father goes by the name Corny. I am called Neil, and now with the pattern set, you can see why we chose the name Zachary for my son rather than attach the name "Corny" to him as well. After 150 years of passing down this name we broke with tradition. While it works for my dad, who is a cartoonist and animator, I just couldn't see my son growing up being called Corny. Zachary, on the other hand, means the lord remembered. Both Dana and I felt that it is best that my son have his own name, rather then carry on the name of a man long dead and buried.

    For all of my youth I hated my name and tried to keep it secret. Everyone knew me as Neil, not Cornelius. Unfortunately, at the beginning of every school year the teacher would read aloud the roll call of the official names of each student in class and inevitably I‘d have to begrudgingly raise my hand when Cornelius was read aloud and endure ridicule for several weeks thereafter. I have come to appreciate my real name now and believe it is special to me. Cornelius, popular in protestant Dutch circles, is originally a Latin name which means Battlehorn. In many ways, I am a simple tool in the hands of the Lord. When His breath blows though my life the troops are called to battle. A name can, and should be something powerful and meaningful.

    We tend to name ministries in the West based upon criteria such as likeability, creativity, or personal identity and positioning in the community. In my first pastorate, I actually worked hard to change the name of our church from Grace Brethren Church to Grace Fellowship. My reasons were that it was more friendly to the community we were trying to reach and less offensive to those who are gender sensitive. I mistakenly thought that simply changing our name would equate with church growth, and I was wrong. People do not choose a church home based on a name; there are many more important things to consider. That said, I do think that the way we name our churches in fact has great significance.

    So how do we tend to name our churches or movements? Below I will list five common ways names are derived and give examples for both churches and denominations.

    Where Church Names are Derived

    Named after a Geographical Location.

    This is, of course, the only source of name in the New Testament. The church that is in Philippi. The churches of the Galatian region. The church of Antioch or Jerusalem. This is still a common source for a name. Saddleback Valley Community Church, later shortened to simply Saddelback, is a region named after a prominent mountain resembling a saddle overlooking the area where the church is found. Brooklyn Tabernacle is obviously named by its geographical location. Even movements that become denominations can start this way, such as the Moravians. Though they sent people all over the world, they are identified by their starting place, which is found today in the current Czech Republic. Even the Roman Catholic Church has its roots in geography, even though it has come to mean so much more than simply its location.

    Named After a Founder or to Someone in High Regard

    This is actually one of the most common derivatives of names in church history. The Montanists were named after Montanus of Phrygia. The Waldenses were named after Peter Waldo. The Franciscans were of course named after St. Francis. There are many denominations today that are still named after their original founding father: the Lutherans and the Mennonites are two examples. There are also many churches named after saints. St Cornelius is around the corner from my house and is a particular favorite of mine.

    A Name that is Appealing.

    While the previous two derivatives are most dominant in church history and the Bible, this category is quickly becoming the most common today. Choosing a name that is attractive to the world and unique in the community and even thinking about logos and promotional pieces has become normative. Willow Creek Community Church was selected without a willow tree or a creek, but simply because it was appealing. The Friends, often referred to as the Quakers, is an appealing name for a group that holds to pacifism and abolitionism as a core belief.

    A Name that is Simply Pragmatic or Descriptive.

    Sometimes names are chosen because they identify a unique quality about the church or movement. First Baptist would be an example of simply naming a church for pragmatic reasons. The Pietists, were called such because they valued living a holy and zealous life for God. Charismatics are named such because the word for gift is Charisma. Pentecostals are named such because they are seeking the same experience found in the original birth of the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

    My own organization is called Church Multiplication Associates because it describes what we are about, and certainly not because the name so easily rolls off the tongue. We mostly go by the acronym CMA which tends to get us confused with the Christian Missionary Alliance (another descriptive name). I often joke that we did such intentionally to increase mistaken donations, but that is just a bad joke because there isn't that much money in the other movement either.

    Named by the Opposition.

    One of my favorite means of deriving a name is not selected by the founders at all, but by those in opposition. Followers were first called "Christians" in Antioch by those opposed to the movement. The label "Methodist" was slapped on a burgeoning movement by those who wanted to identify a movement that was propelled in large part by simple and reproducible methods. The Quakers were called such because of their ecstatic response to the inner presence of the Holy Spirit.

    I personally like this means of deriving a name the best because it means that others are noticing your movement and that you yourselves were too busy doing the work to worry about coming up with a name. Usually these are titles mean to be derisive but they actually become endearing. That being said, I am not so keen on being known as the "pancake churches" just because one denomination felt inclined to call us that (see chapter two).

    From a pragmatic point of view these concepts are not bad, but they bypass something significant that the Bible can teach us about giving names?

    What's in a name?

    I remember when I was starting a church in the Barrio of East LA I came across a young woman who had two small children from two fathers, both of whom were in prison. The youngest of the two had a father in prison for life for multiple murders as a leader in the Mexican mafia. I asked the girl what her boy's name is and was shocked when she told me he had not been given a name. He was an older toddler at the time. What a shame. To grow up not having a name is sad on so many fronts. Imagine knowing that you are not important enough to even have a name. Imagine how your own sense of identity is left unclear without a name. She simply called him Pudgy, but that was not his name just something they called him. This girl, who was the drug dealer for much of the neighborhood, eventually gave her life to Christ.[i] I told her that she now has an opportunity to give her son a name that is special and can identify him for an important purpose for the rest of his life. I challenged her to pray and think about a special name for her son and hopefully turn this tragedy into something special. After she turned her life around she took her small family out of the hostile neighborhood and I was not able to keep contact with her. I have entrusted her and her boys to the Lord who has a name for all of us.

    A name is an important thing. The Bible says that a good name is better than great wealth (Proverbs 22:1). A name can even be a commodity itself. Some banks will give credit to you simply because of your name, if you have the right one. Likewise, you could get run out of certain towns simply because of a name. A single person can ruin a name for the rest of history. I seriously doubt anyone reading this book is named Judas. You probably have never met anyone who has the misfortune of having the name Hitler.

    Zacheus, smudged with sap and perhaps a splinter or two, was hanging over the path longing to see the famous Rabbi as he approached town. His precarious position was not one of dignity and probably revealed more than any below would care to see. But you see, Zacheus was not one concerned with his reputation, he had passed that concerned many years ago. He was a tax collector. In fact, he was the head of the tax collectors, which meant that his own people already disowned him and considered him a traitor. He was hated by all, so he was less concerned about what people would think about his climbing a tree in mid day to see Jesus.

    Suddenly, and without warning, Jesus stopped. He looked up and called Zacheus by name! Wow, imagine the shock of that moment. It probably took everything he had to keep from falling off the branch, which is about the only thing less dignified than being up in the first place. The power of a personal name can be incredible given the right context and spoke by the right person. Imagine if President Obama greeted you and knew your name personally! That would mean he knows something of you and had given thought to you prior to your meeting, and that alone is something.

    Have you ever wondered why Jesus makes such a big deal out of his name? Look at how much effort it took to make sure He was given the right name by Joseph and Mary (Matt. 1:21-25). If you do a search of the usage of "My name" in reference to Jesus in the Gospels you will find it 20 times. People come in his name, go in His name and are received in his name. His followers will be hated in his name, give water in his name, and pray in his name just to "name" a few (pardon the pun). If we ask the Father for anything in His name it will be granted to us. Wow, that does sound powerful doesn't it? Perhaps a name is a powerful thing. When addressing a thousand demons at once he asked to know their name. Why? It is not as though a name is a secret password to spiritual power like saying "open Sesame" is in fairy tales. A name is important because it says something about the person. That is why Jesus' name is so important, it says something about him and we are to value that...and use it for His purpose, not ours.

    His name alone is powerful. It is so potent that the enemy wants to dilute it by making it a curse word. Have you ever heard someone hit the wrong nail with a hammer and shout out "Oh Buddha!" Of course not. Why? Because Buddha's name is not as powerful, nor as much a threat as the name of Jesus. Not to pick on anyone in particular, Mohamed's name is not elevated to the curse word status either. Jesus' name is powerful because He is powerful. His name is part of who He is and represents His being, just like yours does for you (except in his case his person is a whole lot more powerful than you are). His reputation stands apart and His name is therefore powerful.

    The church is the bride of Christ. We are a people who carry His name. We should realize that this is more significant than simply branding a ministry in the eyes of potential parishioners. Selecting a name for the church is in fact a holy and dangerous thing. We should approach the whole idea with much reverence and fear. I don't think I am being overly spiritual here; I am letting you in on a learning I have been on myself. Culturally speaking, in the West, naming something is pragmatic; but in God's economy a name means so much more than positioning in a free market.

    Why is a name such a big deal?

    A Name identifies a person, place or thing.

    The obvious advantage of a name is to designate any person, place or thing that we are communicating about or with. This makes communication possible and grants meaning to our lives. When you are in a crowded room full of people all seemingly talking at the same time and suddenly someone across the room mentions your own name it gets your attention. It is your personal designation, so when someone uses it in conversation they are talking about you, and of course this is of interest to you.

    A Name gives identity to a person, place or thing.

    Beyond simply being useful in communication, a name does even more for us. It not only identifies us, but it becomes our identity. It becomes almost impossible to separate a person from their name in our minds. We put all our memories and feelings about a person in a file in our minds under a label with this person's name on it. It becomes virtually impossible to separate the person from their name. A name becomes virtually synonymous with the person, place or thing.

    Many couples have pet names for one another. This is actually a form of great intimacy. When you are identified in a special manner by only one other person on the planet it makes your relationship unique and intimate. It is just wrong when any other would use the pet name. In this manner, Jesus will have a special name for us that only He knows (Revelation 2:17). Can you imagine hearing him call you by your new name and it will be the first time you've heard it; and you will know that it is you and only you that Jesus has in mind? Wow, that is a special thing. It is a powerful and intimate thing that is special to you and Jesus and no one else. How disappointing it would be if that name was simply a random series of numbers. That would take all the power, joy and intimacy from it, but such is not the case. Just think, even now at this very moment, in Jesus' mind is a special name chosen just for you and no one else is to have it or even hear it...just you! When he calls out that name you and only you will be the one he wants to communicate with.

    A Name carries a reputation.

    Because of the previous idea, a name carries with it a reputation. When people hear your name do they think of good things, bad things or are they indifferent? A single movie star's name at the front of the credits can mean instant millions of revenue for an entire industry.

    A brand name can mean success or failure for any product. Some brand names are so well accepted that they become synonymous for the entire industry. A person may ask for Kleenex when what they really want is a tissue. When the boss sends you out to Xerox something she is actually sending you out for photocopying. When you ride a Jet Ski you are actually on a specific brand of personal watercrafts made only by Kawasaki. In these cases, the name of a specific brand has become as big as the entire industry.

    I believe it is this third reason that Jesus' name is so important in our lives. Actually, the word denomination carries with it the idea of a name. When we choose a name for ourselves and that name gains a reputation we become identified by that name. Could it be that it is really just a name that separates us all? Baptist, Brethren, Methodist, Presbyterian, Foursquare, Assemblies of God, Christian Church, Adventist, Mennonite, Friends, Vineyard, Reformed Church of America, Christian Reformed Church, and so on, could it be that we are all just different names for the same thing?

    Is it right to choose a name for the church?

    A few years ago I was speaking at a conference on Simple Church. We had many networks of churches represented there. My friend Wolfgang Simson was also speaking. Some of the networks represented from CMA were: Awakening Chapels, Big Fish Chapels, The Fountain, Apex, The Quest, Houses of Refuge, ValleyLife, Cross Roads and so on. When Wolf heard all of these names he became a little agitated, and felt that naming churches was egotistical and not right.

    I resisted his assumption for a couple years. As with many things, however, I eventually came to see some truth in what he was saying. I began to bring the question under the scrutiny of the Scriptures and discovered that giving someone or something a name is not an idle exercise.

    The Naming of things Belongs to the One who is in Authority

    Naming things, however, is indeed something the Bible does have much to say about. You do not have to go very far in the Bible to find the concept of naming things. Right from the start God names Adam and Eve, but not all of the rest of creation. He tells Adam to name all the creatures of the earth. The creator placed the man as responsible over the created world. In such a role he is given the responsibility of naming all the creatures. And God is the one in authority over mankind, so he named them. Later Adam and Eve are able to name their own sons and daughters, and parents have been doing so ever since.

    Giving a name in the Bible is a weighty responsibility. Names were not given randomly but chosen based upon the person's unique personality or even destiny. It was a sober affair and often took some time to reflect upon. Usually, in the West, we choose a name that sounds nice or we do so in honor of someone we love or respect.

    But naming something also has another important element to it. According to the Scriptures, the one who selects the name is one who has a God-given authority and corresponding responsibility over the one being named. Hence the reason why you may not want to buy a name for a star any time soon...that is a huge responsibility! There was a struggle about John the Baptist's name because the crowd felt that normal routines were important, but the child born was anything but normal. God Himself was to name this special prophet and a mute man was healed just to declare it so. Even in vitro this person was a special servant of the Lord.

    While choosing a name is a normal right of parents, there is a time when it was not their right. John the Baptist was an example. Jesus was also an example. It was made clear by the visitation of angels more than once that Joseph and Mary were not the ones who would select Jesus' name.

    A New Name for a life surrendered

    Often, when a person had reached a life-changing moment where he or she were now under the strict leadership of God and God alone, the Lord would change their name. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter and Saul became Paul. God selected names for them that indicated something special to them and also demonstrated that He was now the authority over their lives, rather then their own original parents. These were renamed by God to reflect a change in their life; most notably that God now was the authority over their life. They have become a new person under the Headship of the Lord God.

    We have lost the significance behind naming things. In fact, if you pay $19.99 you can give a name to a star. Wow, imagine that, you can name a star all to yourself. Now, that is a creative money-making venture isn't it? There is no overhead. No one had to buy the stars and then sell them to us. This creates revenue out of nothing. But is it right for us to name stars? No one ever really asked that question.

    While we are given the authority to name the animals in the Bible, the naming of stars is well beyond the scope of our authority. Only God has a name for the stars (Ps 147:4), we can't even count the stars, let alone name them.

    Now I fully understand the need to identify stars, so giving them a name is functional. The same can be said of naming churches. But I first think it is important to ask if we should name a church. It is dangerous to assume the authority over something that is God's not ours. We have been granted authority to name animals, insects, fish and birds, but not stars and certainly not the kingdom of heaven. Our jurisdiction has limitations. So we should, at the very least, tread carefully when selecting a name.

    When we set out to start churches in Long Beach, CA we came to the time when we were to select our name. We brainstormed a long list of potential names. Then in a meeting of the leaders (about 12 of us) we kicked those names around, eliminated almost all and came down to two choices: Real Life Church or Awakening Church. We were split even on these two names. A name is a lasting thing that is not easy to change later on. Given the weight of such a task I instructed the leaders to each go home and sleep on the two names...but God had other plans.

    That night at 4:00 in the morning I woke up. My wife will tell you, one of the things she has always envied about me is my ability to fall right to sleep and sleep soundly though the night, but this night I was wide awake and unable to fall back to sleep. What was really strange is that a Bible verse was in my head and I couldn't shake it: Awake Sleeper and Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. I suddenly realized that God had cast his vote and all other votes are discounted. Our church would be named Awakening. God chose our name.

    Having a name is not an issue, but selecting your own name, as if you have the authority to do so is probably the more significant issue. Without names to identify us we would have a hard time even functioning. Names are practical and can be meaningful. But do we have the right to make such decisions ourselves when it comes to God's family?

    In Ephesians 3:14 -15 Paul writes, "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name."

    I think that one of our problems is that we want our ministry to make a name for ourselves. We strive to create a brand name for our ministries. It doesn't take much for a spiritual leader to have his or her identity wrapped up in the success of the organization that he or she leads. Eventually, the brand name of the ministry becomes almost synonymous with the leader. This is not a bad thing in the business world, but it is not what God's kingdom is supposed to be like. In his Kingdom, the King is what is important, and frankly you and I are not Him. Our names are all subordinate to His; in fact, every name in heaven, earth and under earth will bow at His name (Phil 2:9-11).

    In the New Testament there are not churches with unique names. They are simply the church in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus or Corinth. In some cases they are the churches (plural) in Galatia (which is an entire region of Asia rather than a city). In other times they are the church that meets in "your/their house."

    I am not suggesting that we all drop our individual names and join together, although as I write that it does have its appeal. Several years ago a number of pastors in the city I was at would get together monthly and pray for the health of our churches, and city. We talked about creating a generic church banner. On a given Sunday we would all cover our individual church signs with this generic brand that simply said "church" and we would also each show up and speak at a different church that Sunday. It was a grand idea and I wish we pursued it more.

    Pragmatically, we are way past being able to simply call all churches the church in (fill in the blank city). Too much history has passed and created a world in which we have divisions that cannot be ignored. We can have unity; I do believe that. But we now have designated names that we cannot abandon or we would be unable to communicate.

    So What should We do?

    I am not advocating that having a name is a bad thing. I would simply suggest that we approach the naming of God's work with a little more humility and reverence and less with promotion and marketing in mind. Ask Him what He would want the work to be called, and have the courage to accept whatever He says. We must recognize that we are not the ones who sit in a place of authority over the church and thereby are to give her a name. He is the Head of the church.

    Perhaps one thing we could give thought to is how we can exalt Christ's name over our own ministries name. Can we make it less about our organization and more about our King? We are way too quick to slap our brand on everything and the results are that the brand is what is known rather than the qualities that Jesus intended for His church. We need to stop putting our brand on God's work; it is not our place and puts us in a place where we should never be.

    If you find that the name of your church does not carry a positive weight in the community then perhaps it is time to consider changing your name. But wait, what I mean by that is not simply changing your signage and stationary...I mean you work hard to establish a new and better reputation in your community, one worthy of Jesus' name. In reality, what does the name help with? Most in a church do not use the name unless they are describing it to someone who is not part of it. When a family member speaks about church they just say "church" and everyone seems to know what is being said. Besides advertising a name is really not all that significant.

    For those just starting out, I strongly advise that you pray and seek the Lord regarding what the name is to be for your ministry. At least give the Head of the church the right and the opportunity to select a name for your church. Most church planters not only have a name before they have a church, they even have a logo. I fear when we so easily and quickly assume that privilege we trample a bit on holy ground. When we start a church with such an ignorant yet arrogant maneuver we set in place a culture where we ourselves are the ones responsible for the church, and unfortunately the church rarely escapes this trap. I for one, would much rather be part of a church where Christ is the one calling the shots, wouldn't you? Why is that not the case in so many examples? Perhaps we have lost the ability to believe that Jesus does in fact care about these things. A name is important to Jesus. Or, perhaps we have lost faith that Jesus is capable of deciding things for His church.

    The Moravian Church is a great example to us of how the church is meant to be a movement. After a revival of sorts broke out in Herrnhutt, called the "Moravian Pentecost" in August of 1727, they began to have people go out and spread the message of simple devotion to Christ all over Europe and abroad. They were not starting Moravian churches but encouraging people of any denomination to start living communities of faith in any tradition. This enterprise was phenomenally successful before there were any mission agencies or church planting divisions of existing denominations. By 1748 there were 540 faith communities outside of the Baltic provinces and 45,000 people attached to groups within the Baltic region. They had groups founded in Britain, Ireland, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and even Russia. Nevertheless, they continued to resist having any official affiliation with their own "denomination."

    For many years, they did not even have a name for this movement. It started without a plan, a name, a budget, or any kind of organized objective more complicated than spreading the love and message of Jesus. No advertising campaign, no branding, no ten year strategic plan, they simply obeyed Jesus and let Him build His church as they went out to share with others the profound experience they had. Many years later they referred to the groups meeting all over the world as the "diaspora" or "scattered ones" which is really just a description more than a title. They didn't need a name. Do we? I have to wonder if the need for a name is a clear indication that you are not a healthy movement. In my opinion, if it takes a brand to sell your "product" than your church is less than it should be. If people are not wanting to tell others about what we have and we need to sell ourselves with ads then we have lost the plot.

    Awakening Chapels started with a name. But as we multiplied we found that the name didn't stick with future generations, and we are fine with that. Even now, no one really says, "I'm going to Awakening." They say, "I'm going to hang out with my church." When they refer to a specific gather they will say, "The church that meets at Milton's house," or "the El Camino College Campus church that gathers on Thursdays." This actually sounds very New Testament to me. Sort of like "the church that meets in their house (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19)." It is not about a brand, it is about a Kingdom. Can we be content with that? Can we let the name of Jesus be more prominent than our brand?

    [i] Her story is recounted in my book Organic Church, pp 78-79

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