Monday, June 14, 2010

What’s in a Name? – A Sermon from 2nd Timothy - Part 1

The following is a series prepared for an ordination service in the life of the church based on selected texts from 2 Timothy. In an effort to reduce the size of these posts, these will be broken up into five separate posts. Each post will have links to the others as they are developed.

What's in a name anyway? Many parents will ponder long and hard over the potential names for their young children and there are even "books of names" that are devoted to the subject. "This one means 'warrior'" or this one means "beautiful. Oh, I like that one." My name is KC which stands` for Kenneth Chase. My name has somewhat of a story that is not very interesting, but a little long. To give you the Reader's Digest version: I am the youngest of three children. When the first child was born my parents agreed that if it was a girl my mother would name her and if it was a boy my father got the honor. Well, mom named the first child. The second child came along and they decided that since mom got to name the first one then dad could do this one. And then the third child came along and they decided they would do this one together. Bad idea.  

In truth, my parents were separated when my mother was six months pregnant with me so to think that they were in total agreement on anything is utter foolishness. So what happened? Well, I was without a name for the first two weeks of my life and was only known as the "Armstrong Baby." At one point I was going to be "Brandon Kenley" and at another I was going to be Kenneth Leroy, Jr (after my father of course). A name that made the short list was "Winston Salem" because my father smoked Winstons and my mother smoked Salems. Sad but true. It finally came time for me to come home from the hospital and I had to have a name to put on my birth certificate. So I became known as Kenneth Chase; "Kenneth" after my father and "Chase" after the Chase Manhattan Bank.

Companies understand the importance of a name. Coca-Cola is the most recognized brand in the world yet the still spend a billion dollars a year in advertising. If I were to ask you to search for something on the internet you would "Google" it. Regardless of whether you used Bing, MSN, or Yahoo! you would still "Google" it because they have associated their name with internet searches. Or what if I wanted for you to send me something overnight? I would ask you to FedEx it, regardless of whether or not you used UPS, DHL, or even the US Postal Service. But the name "FedEx" has come to represent an overnight, next-day delivery shipment. But what's in a name anyway?

Did you know that when your name comes up in conversation there is something that comes to mind of those speaking. Your name has come to symbolize your character and your reputation so that at the sound of it you are instantly identified. Paul. Timothy. Paul is a Roman name given to Saul after his conversion because he was called to preach to the Gentiles. Timothy. A Greek name that means timid or fearful. But when you hear these names there are images conjured up in your minds that may or may not agree with what they literally mean.

Paul is writing from a Roman prison different than the house arrest arrangement of Acts 28-31. This time he is in a dungeon-like facility literally chained to a Roman guard. This is Paul's last written communication as he sees that the end of his life is drawing near. He hopes to remind Timothy, the next-generation minister, of a few things prior to his departure. Throughout Second Timothy there are at least twenty-eight direct imperatives given by Paul. Over twenty-eight times Timothy is told to do this, don't do that, focus on these things, ignore these. But today as we think of ordination for the gospel ministry we will focus only on four of those commands which can be summed up as fan, guard, entrust, and preach. If we are to be faithful ministers of the gospel we must at the very least fan, guard, entrust, and preach. If we don't we will neglect the true gospel to which we have been called and we will attempt to rely upon our own strength void of the power of the Holy Spirit.

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