It’s Thanksgiving Day. A day around the world we set aside to observe God’s gracious provision in our lives. When I think about what I’m thankful for, my family immediately comes to mind. God has blessed me with an amazing wife and three incredibly gifted sons, each one outstanding in his own way. I can’t imagine life without any one of them. I definitely can’t imagine choosing to give them up, which makes me wonder at Abraham’s willingness to obey God when He asks him to make the ultimate sacrifice…

Genesis 22. Abraham waited approximately 25 years between the time God first promised him that he would be the father of many nations and the time that Isaac, the son of promise was born. Along the way, Abraham’s faith journey has been sporadic at best. Up to this point in the story we have not seen the paragon of faith that he ultimately will become. We’ve seen a man struggling to realize what God has promised him. Pharaoh. Hagar. Ishmael. Abimelech. And now finally Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s son, is born. God has worked a miracle, bringing life out of Sarah’s dead womb.

The fulfillment of what God has covenanted is within view. Then God makes a heart-stopping request. “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and sacrifice him on the mountain which I will show you.” It must have taken his breath away, but Abraham does not hesitate. Surprising after the roller-coaster ride of his spiritual pilgrimage. But his faith has somehow grown and solidified with the birth of his son, and now he was willing to trust that God will somehow still fulfill His promise, even if Isaac is killed. Hebrews gives us some insight – Abraham believed God was able to raise Isaac even from the dead. So Abraham was able to see beyond the physical to the spiritual, that physical death was not the end of the story. For those who trust in the Lord, death is merely a transition. And although Abraham was willing to be obedient, God spared Isaac and stayed Abraham’s hand. God was testing to see whether or not Abraham would trust in Him…whether his hope was in God or in the promise of God. And Abraham passed.

I wonder if I could have trusted God in that moment. So often I fear that my hope is in the blessings of God rather than in God Himself. I cling so tightly to the things of this world and the good gifts that He’s given me that many times they can become idols that keep me from Him. I pray that God would give me the courage to trust Him no matter the circumstance; and the desire for Him, and Him alone. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Until next time…stay salty.

What’s in a name?

My oldest son’s name is Life. Crazy name for a kid, right? But it has always fit him. I remember when he was a baby, he would smile with his whole face…half moon eyes and grin from ear to ear. I’m often asked why we named him that. Was there great tragedy involved with his conception or birth? Nah, just a family name that I really liked. It speaks of hope and joy and love and…well, life.

Names. We all have them. Our parents gave us our first name in anticipation of our birth or shortly thereafter. Some names were earned later. They were given to us by close friends or family. Some were given to us by our detractors. Some by coaches or teammates or fans… Some names describe what we do, or the extent of our education. The Bible says, “A good name is better than great riches, and favor than silver and gold.” Names carry a great deal of weight, especially as a marker of character. We all want a great name, a name that matters.

Chapter 10 of Genesis, we are introduced to Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord. Builder of cities, erect-er of towers, powerful, feared, intimidating. He’s a man who’s made a name for himself. And in chapter 11, we have a group of his descendants seeking to make a name for themselves. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to leave a lasting legacy. We all want a great name, right? But the question is what kind of legacy are we leaving, and how are we going about it. We are told very clearly that these tower-building folks are operating in rebellion against their Creator. Not a good move. God responds in judgment, and so we have the confusion of the languages and disbursement of the nations.

Chapter 12. I love the way chapter 12 begins. Out of the chaos of 11, after the genealogy of Shem, God chooses a man. And the thing that the tower-builders sought for themselves…a great name, God will give to this man. He says to Abram, “And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” What an amazing thing to say to the son of an idol worshiper with no hope of leaving a legacy of his own in terms of children being borne to him through his wife, Sarai. And so the hunt for the Genesis 3:15 Seed of the woman continues. And the line will flow directly through Abram.God is the One who blesses, and the names that He gives to His followers certainly do have weight. Names like “Beloved” and “Blessed” and “Friend” and “Son” or “Daughter” and “Forgiven” and “Life”.

So what about you? Will you seek a name for yourself, or will you allow God to make a name for you? Those who are famous in the world’s eyes rarely make a splash in the kingdom, but those who are famous in God’s eyes send ripples throughout eternity.

Until next time…stay salty.