what’s in a name?

On Sunday, I am preaching about how God changes lives. I am sharing about Paul’s life-changing experience with God, how his name change (from Saul to Paul) symbolized that he was a new man. When Saul met Jesus, he got more than a new name; he was completely transformed into a new person. The verse that he wrote and that I am using to describe this process is found in II Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

We need that kind of fresh beginning. Believe me, Saul was a complete mess and he was in desperate need of transformation. God gave it to him. He changed him from the inside out. I hope you will be at/were at church to hear the message. If not, I hope you can check out the message on our website later this week. I think the concepts I share will help you or someone you care about.

I have been changed by Jesus and I am in the process of being changed. God is still working out some of the kinks in my life. Thank God I am not what I was. I am not yet what I will be, but there is hope.

I wish I could also have a name change. My mother named me Wendell. That’s right, Wendell Richard Whitter. As you would imagine, I had more than one fight as a kid when someone made fun of my name. When I was born, my 10 year old brother had enough sense to refuse to call me Wendell, so he referred to me as “Rick”. And it stuck – thank God. Until I was about 5 years old, I thought my name was “Window”. Wendell is such a nerdy name. By the way, I am not at all concerned about offending anyone else who has that name because no one else in the entire world is stuck with it! If they are, they are keeping it quiet. When I hear the name “Wendell”, I picture some twerpy, coke-bottle eye glass wearing geek, wearing plaid shorts, tube socks and a turtle-neck sweater in the summer. He spends his days collecting postage stamps reading old comic books. His voice always cracks and he never brushes his teeth. I wish, when I met Christ, he would have said, “What a stupid name, what was your mother thinking? Let’s try something else.”

If I could choose my name, it would probably be something cool like “Sergio”. Can’t you see it? Long flowing black hair, broad shoulders, dark skin, steely black eyes… or maybe “Antoine” – sophisticated, cultured, and wise in the ways of the world. Or maybe the name “Thor”. Nobody messes with a guy named “Thor”! Or even the Greek name Aristotelis, you have to be a genius with that moniker. But no, I got “Wendell”. Thanks mom.

I guess the important thing is, no matter how goofy my name is, God is changing me. I am thankful for that. Wouldn’t it be cool if, when I get to heaven, God opens His Book of Life and reads out loud for all of creation to hear, “Rick Whitter” or “Thor Whitter” or “Siegfried Whitter” or anything but “Wendell Whitter”… but then He turns to me and invites me in… I guess it won’t matter at that point!

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