Category Archives: Naming

Children are Excellent Observers, but Poor Interpreters

Children know when something is not right in a parent(s)’s relational world. They have radar. We have seen when Karen and I were in minor conflicts that our little ones used to come hug our legs in the kitchen where we were talking. Why? They were insecure and long for well-being. When parents are well, they sense they are well too.

Children are excellent observers. When it comes to interpreting the fallen aspects of life and relational pain, however, children are poor interpreters. They, like us, need a Gospel-interpretation. They, like us, may blame themselves or God wrongly. Often it just makes sense to them that if they had just been better behaved their home would be safe and their family would simply get along.

When children are vulnerable to believe a lie, Satan is more than willing to supply one – one especially believable to make sense of their story. This set up becomes early occasions to make deep commitments to foolish strategies to overcome the condemnation they sense. Thus, a child’s drive to perform to make things well becomes a religious effort to make life work without the Gospel.

It isn’t until we name our sin, Satan’s condemning thoughts, and how the righteous life and death of Christ in our place that we find our true rest. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is more than willing to spell it all out for us with the “sweetest voice I’ve ever heard.”

Christian parents are God’s Gospel interpreters for their children, who are excellent observers but often poor interpreters.

For more, see Embracing Your Identity in Christ: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies (Bloomington, IN: WestbowPress a Division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, 2017).


Identity in Christ Course at Grace College of New Zealand

These four sessions were given in 2015 during a preaching trip to the South Island’s Family Conference in association with Grace Presbyterian Churches near Christ Church and in the North in Auckland in two churches and a pastor’s gathering.


May these simple lectures bless you for embracing who you are in Christ, Bob

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four


I’m Going Back to My Roots

So much for this song. I exercised while it was playing and liked the tune. Actually, i haven’t analyzed it 🙂

In Luke Three there is a heap of identity concerning Jesus Christ. John the Baptist points to Him as the Christ, the Father says that He is His Beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased, and this is followed by His genealogy.

Our roots matter. Our genealogy is part of what shapes our identity. Just as knowing that we are made in His image and that we have been given gender, so Providence shapes us in a family with ancestors, ethnicity, and names.

We are not hurled by chance into the world as radical individuals, who have to choose all this. Rather, we are given names that remind us of how in God’s Providence we are part of a larger story in Redemption. God is redeeming our families for generations to come. He is faithful to our offspring; He is covenantal as He has always been; i.e. Abrahamic promise.

We are not radical individuals. We are named by our parents, and these names remind us of who we are and our roots. We are given ethnic identity. In the end every tribe and tongue shall acknowledge God’s redemption together. Do you know what your names mean? Are you secure about your ethnic identity? Can you tell about your great grandparents, grandparents, and parents enough to tell the next generation? Jesus knew what His name meant, who His ancestors were, and embraced His Jewish ethnicity.







Pentecostal Outpourings

Passive in the Beginnings of Identity

We are passive in receiving our identity, which is is to say what is so un-post-everything and unpopluar in our Time!

We receive our soul and life’s beginning from God. We are endowed with God’s image, and our gender. Gender is given; we are either male or female. Doctors and nurses name what is true of our health and blood type, etc. Finally, we are given a name.

478337_10151030395801320_882750470_oThis little boy is with his loving father. He was named Gideon, after the Old Testament character in the book of Judges. Names draw forth calling, and today this little boy turned four years old. He received a sword – “a sword for the Lord and for Gideon. (Judges 7:20).”

If we come to Jesus, then we receive a new identity. We are passive in receiving our new identity in the very beginning of Christian experience. We are born again by the sovereign Holy Spirit, declared righteous and forgiven in Christ, and anointed as a saint – yes, even as a warrior. Our Father in Heaven has written our new names in Heaven.

Your Name

IMG_2848To name something or some one means that we are stewarded by them. Adam and Eve named the kinds of created plants and animals, and each other. On the one hand, they could not exploit or abuse creation. On the other hand, they could not neglect creation or their family with passive laziness. They were stewards of God’s world. People name their pets and things they own as stewards of them. Parents are given stewardship of their children to raise them and send them off into their callings. They do not own their children; God owns all.

Christian names are outward expressions of what people are inwardly good at being, doing, and demonstrating.  When Adam named the first woman Eve (Life-giver), he had the power to peer into her glory and to draw out her calling. To this day, a spouse’s voice trumps all other voices with the authority to enhance or to degrade. Jesus perceived Simon (Pebble) had a greater heart and glory than his outward name expressed. So Jesus renamed him Peter (Rock). Saul (big man) had a Christian name of Paul (little man), which expressed the glory of humility in Christ.

This is a photo of my granddaughter, Elizabeth Joy Smart. Each name means so much to her parents and to our family. She and her name is written in heaven when she was born on February 6, 2014 and went home to Jesus on March 29, 2014.

What is your given name, full name, and why were you given those names? What do your first, last, and middle names literally express by way of family meaning? For example, many people are named by their parent(s) after another family relative or culturally important person. Whatever your name is, it has shaped you in some way. How so? Does the Gospel rule you through your name when you hear or speak it?