Posted by: mikebackup | January 12, 2013

Names, names, names – they’re so important!

Isaiah 43:1-7

New International Version (NIV)

Israel’s Only Savior

43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cushand Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Luke 3.15-17, 21-22

New International Version (NIV)

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Names, names, names – they’re so important! In the Bible, names are really important and often people have their names changed in particular stories to mark their calling before God – for example: Abram (‘exalted father’) becomes Abraham (‘father of a multitude’) when he is told by God that he will be the father of a great nation. At the same time his wife is renamed from Sarai (‘argumentative’) to Sarah (‘princess’). Jesus renames Simon (‘obedient’) to Peter (‘rock’). More than a label, those names are considered the essence of the person.  Jesus doesn’t get his name changed when he gets baptised but a voice calls him ‘my Son, the Beloved’.

Ancient peoples thought that knowing someone’s name gave power over them. When Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis 32.22-30 Jacob is asked his name, and then blessed by a new name, Israel.

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

Very interestingly the name Israel most probable means ‘he struggles with God”

Being known by name, means we are valued, we have an identity and that is a great comfort to those that feel insignificant. There are no unknown soldiers in the kingdom of God: all are known.

In Isaiah 43.1 the nation is referred to by both names.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Let us all try our best to remember names – they are a way we show God to someone. So simple but so, important, so loving and you will be seen in a very good light. Dale Carnegie said

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

I know I need help with this and reflecting on today I’ve looked for tips to help me. These are good ones[1]:

1. Commit

Begin by making a commitment — a conscious decision — to remember people’s names.

Don’t let yourself off easy, blaming a “bad memory.” Forgetting names is due less to a bad memory than to a lack of application. Tell yourself — because it’s true — that you can remember names if you want to and if you work at it.

Before going to a meeting or a party or anywhere you might meet people, remind yourself of your commitment. And recommit yourself: “I will make my best effort to remember the names of the people I meet.”

2. Concentrate

You can only remember what you observe in the first place. If you are distracted or if you aren’t paying attention, you won’t register the person’s name so you can’t possibly remember it. Concentrate, then, on 1) paying attention to the person’s name when you first hear it, and 2) forming an impression of the person.

  • Listen to the person’s name. If you miss it or find a few seconds later that you’ve already forgotten it, say “I’m sorry I missed your name. Can you give it to me again?” If you still have trouble with it, say, “I’m sorry, but would you spell that out for me?”
  • Get a clear, detailed impression of the person.
    The more vividly you observe people’s physical characteristics, the more likely you are to remember them. Use all of your senses to form the most striking impression possible.

3. Repeat

Repetition helps engrave the name in your memory.

  • Use the name immediately.
  • Repeat it silently to yourself.
  • Comment on the name, if possible.
  • Use it occasionally in the conversation      without overdoing it.
  • Use it when leaving.
  • Write it down afterwards.

4. Associate

Try to make an association between the person’s face and an image the name suggests. If you exaggerate the image — make it larger, say — and give it movement — have it slam into some feature of the person’s face, for example — you will make the image even more memorable.

Even if you can’t create an image for the name, don’t despair. Just by working on it, just by trying to figure out an image that goes along with the name, you have reinforced your memory.

If you remember visual images most easily, try creating an image based on the name and linking it to some physical characteristic of the person.

  • Imagine a ham that weighs a ton spinning      on the end of Mrs. Hamilton’s nose.
  • Picture an old-fashioned car jack under      Jack’s prominent jaw.
  • See margarine melting through Margaret’s      curly, blond hair.

If you are more attuned to sounds, make a rhyme, associating the name with your impression of the person. Or link the person’s name to a song lyric.

  • Dave needs a shave.
  • Latrice is Patty’s niece.
  • Michelle, ma belle. (The Beatle’s tune)

If you are more comfortable dealing with sensory feelings and gut instincts, try linking the name to the impression the person makes or to a reaction you have to the person.

  • Martin Peck is a pain in the neck.
  • Suzanne Patterson has sweaty palms.
  • Paula is pushy.

All this takes time and energy and that’s the point. It makes people feel important. It wins you their good will. And it opens the door to successful relationships.

Moving on.

We know names aren’t always associated with good and they can be used to hurt. Those who have suffered name-calling sometimes still bear the scars and a child with an unusual name can be subject to unmerciful, damaging taunting. When we know someone who is thinking of a name for their new born please guide them, perhaps give them to look through.

Technology has now taken new names to new levels of silliness. In the not so old days you had plenty of Kylies and Jason’s, followed by Harrys and Hermiones along with the odd ‘Storm’ and ‘India’.

But now…

Last November Hashtag Jameson popped into the world (named after the prefix often used on Twitter). In February an Egyptian named his son ‘Facebook’, In Israel (funnily enough) a daughter was named ‘Like’ after the famous thumbs up icon. She isn’t only going to struggle with God. Then there was Dovahkiin Tom Kellermeyer who is a character from a Computer game called Skyrim (He has got free games for life as result – not much compensation). Then there was the serious technology enthusiast who has built, developed and launched his son like software. Jon Blake Cussak has named his son Jon Blake Cussak 2.0 (rather than Jr!).

We laugh, but those children will have a hard time. As Johnny Cash says in his song ‘A boy named Sue’ – “ And I think about him, now and then, every time I try and every time I win, and if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him Bill or George! Anything but Sue”.

I certainly pray for those children as they grow up.

We recently had a fantastic Baptism day where five adults were baptised. From a Biblical perspective it says that we also take God’s name in our baptism. Matthew 28.19 has the command to baptise ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. The Greek eis might be translated as ‘into’ the name: we are given the power of knowing our God by name as our Father, as his Son Jesus and as Holy Spirit. In our baptism God calls us by name so we can stand with Jesus and hear the words, ‘You are mine’.

God knows us by name, and we share in his. It’s a simple and beautiful way to know that we are loved. Let’s remember that as we go forward doing our best to call everyone we meet by name.

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