A Girl Named Gomer — What’s in a Name?


Many of us are familiar with the character Gomer Pyle on the old Andy Griffith television series. For decades, I associated the name Gomer  with that type of character — a simple, naive, good-hearted MA.   Because that name was locked in my brain as a man’s name, I always felt sorry for that poor woman in the Bible — a prostitute, no less — who bore the name Gomer, which I considered too masculine (and far from enticing).   I even wondered why God would call a prophet like Hosea to marry a woman with such a homely name!

Studying Hebrew one day a few years ago, I was engaged in conjugating the verb that means “to finish or complete or perfect, to bring to a close.”  That verb is rendered as לגמר (ligmor), and — guess what! — the form of that verb that means he finishes, completes, or makes perfect is nothing other than GOMER!  So, that means that Hosea (a variant of Yeshua or Joshua, meaning he will save) will complete or finish or make perfect his bride!  Hosea the prophet serves as a type of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who completes and finishes His Bride!  What a picture of our destiny as believers in Jesus!

When we read Psalm 138:8, we hear the psalmist declare:  The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”  The word used for will perfect is none other than yigmor, the future tense of gomer.  Moreover, Paul reiterates God’s promise to complete the work He begins in us through Christ Jesus.  In Philippians 1:6, he writes “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (NLT).

Evidently, Gomer is not a bad name at all!   Do I want Jesus to complete His perfect work in me?   Absolutely!   For that matter, have I been unfaithful to His commandments and character at times in my life?   Definitely!  In that sense, I am no better than the prostitute Gomer in the Book of Hosea.   As such, I welcome the completing, finishing, perfecting work of my Messiah Yeshua, and I myself am more than honored to be reminded that my name is really Gomer, for My Lord is in the process of completing and perfecting me to reflect His glory!  I suppose that, if a boy can be named Sue, a girl can be named Gomer!  🙂

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tattered tentRecently I realized that many of us are doggedly striving to hold onto ground that is not ours to hold.  While we assume that ground is our precious and rightful possession, to be defended at all cost, we are sadly deceived.   God calls us to move forward into His promises and purposes for us.  However, quite often, after the initial excitement of salvation and of digging into the glorious truths expressed in His word and the benefits of knowing Jesus as our Lord, we set out on the road to our new life and end up waylaid on the roadside, or even in a ditch.   When the storms of life come our way (and they DO!), we are fiercely focused on survival and somehow end up taking on the identity of the storm rather than the identity of our Savior.   Before we know it, we are hanging on in Camp Lack, Camp Fear, Camp Loss, Camp Infirmity, or Camp Despair.  Our struggle to hold on in adversity has become our identity, without our realizing it.   

When we feel stuck, what can we do?  The first step is to recognize that the Lord never intended us to camp there in the first place; He has appointed us to bear His identity and to break out of captivity to the things that weigh us down.  Does that mean we never face storms or problems?  Of course not!  However, it does mean that we seek Him first and trust Him to impart His nature to us as we move through the storm (as opposed to securing our tent pegs in the wrong camp).  

In Micah 2:13, the prophet says:  “The breaker  [the Messiah, who opens the way] shall go up before them [liberating them]. They will break out, pass through the gate and go out;
so their King goes on before them, the Lord at their head.”  It is high time we abandon the land of captivity, move OUT, and move INTO the new fields of fruitfulness and pastures of provision!  

Father, show me where I have parked and set up my tent in the wrong camp!  Teach me how to pull up the stakes and move out and on with you, in Jesus’ Name!

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Who You Are in Christ? — or Who He Is in You?

3ec067fa612c3f1b228316a39260d689-dna-genetics-science-biologyThe past couple of decades, much Christian teaching has revolved around who believers are in Christ and in discovering our gifts.  The logic is that we will be more spiritually fruitful if we understand who we are in Christ and how we can serve in ways that correspond to our spiritual gift(s).  However, while the Scripture does state that “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit” (I John 4:13, ESV), it also declares that Christ in us is our hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27).  Where we place the emphasis is subtle but significant.  Yes, as believers, we abide in Jesus Christ, and we are positioned in Him for all eternity (according to Ephesians 2:6, seated with Him in heavenly places).   We also have at our disposal a wide variety of spiritual gifts.  However, what is more astounding is that HE, the Savior of the world, abides in us (mere earthlings, and sinful ones at that!).   

Since Christ in me is my hope of glory, He clearly lives in me.  As I serve those around me, I can confidently ask the Holy Spirit to be Himself and to impact those I encounter with HIS Presence (not mine).  As John the Baptist commented, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 NKJV).  The only way that I can impact people in a Kingdom sense is by means of the Spirit of God.   Surely I can trust Him to express through me whatever gifts He deems necessary and useful in any given circumstance!  My desire is that people recognize Jesus Christ’s Presence in me, not ME talking about Jesus.

After all, God intends for us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).  Paul clarifies this principle even further in Galatians 2:20:  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (ESV).  We need to be people who carry the image of God, as opposed to people who impress others with our righteousness or religion.   His image is, in fact, His DNA — Christ IN us, the hope of glory (Colossians 2:27).  In fact, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we read “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit” (AMPC).  The idea is that we are literally transformed; our identity is changed because of Christ IN us

Therefore, when we face any type of challenge, we do not need to worry about who we are (although we are children of the King of all the universe); instead, we can remind ourselves Who He is in us.   The Lord of Heaven and Earth dwells in us by His Spirit, and He longs to touch the hearts of people around us with His life and goodness.  As I heard Jack Hayford eloquently state in a recent interview, “Jesus wants to be real to you so He can reveal Himself to others through you.”  Jesus Christ lives in us and will make Himself known, both to us and to others around us.

DNA of the Living God, be replicated in me — rapidly!  I need and desire Your transforming power!

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Residue from the Past? Bloom Anyway!

After a sustained bout of fervid horticultural attempts during the first ten years or so of my adult life, I came to the conclusion that proper care of plants proved far too time-consuming for my role as an overwhelmed mother of several young children.   I consequently threw myself into the silk plant trend with the goal of avoiding watering, fertilizing, rotating pots seasonally for optimum light requirements, and other such cumbersome details.

After several years of contented, indoor-plant-free living, a friend presented me with an orchid.  The flowers were delicate, exotic, and beautiful.  They lingered long enough to guarantee my heartfelt attachment to the plant.  In a moment of lapsed reasoning, I read up on orchids, trimmed off the old stems, and placed the barren potted stub in a northeast window.   Every so often, I remembered to put an ice cube in the little pot.   After a year or so of such treatment, I began to imagine I spotted a tiny sign of new growth.  I moved it to a different northeast-facing window in the kitchen, where I could keep the stub under closer observation.  In the meantime, various friends foisted their own abandoned orchids on me, as they claimed they did not wish to take care of them.  Two more friends gave me additional orchids as a gift.  I now have six orchids, happily shooting out new roots in sundry directions and occasionally surprising me with a bloom.

Apparently orchids are the perfect houseplants for me, as they thrive on neglect (my method of plant care)!  Over time, I have come to admire their beauty and have learned a few lessons in the process.   They require little water and seem to thrive when root-bound.   Their roots reach valiantly out of the potting medium through the air, seeking sunlight.   Am I that energetic and motivated when deprived of my creature comforts or under pressure?  I think not!

The several orchids I have observed generally bloom once a year.   After blooming, a leaf or two may turn yellow and appear to be dying; it is important not to pull the fading leaf off the plant until it nearly falls off on its own.   However, new blooms typically do not form until the fading leaves come off, new roots press toward the sunlight, and a new center stalk forms, a stalk that will ultimately bear buds for the new flowers.   This process follows in sequence on a schedule unique to the particular type of orchid.

However, one of my orchids is now in its third blooming cycle this year.  Moreover, it has two unsightly yellow, limp leaves that have failed to fall off the plant.   However, the fading leaves have not discouraged this orchid from unashamedly erupting again into glorious blooms!  I am reminded that perhaps we shouldn’t wait for the residue of the old seasons in our lives to be completely gone before we press into the new season.   Sometimes wheat grows with the tares; things that bear fruit may grow among a few weeds in our lives.   Retaining some baggage from a season that is ending should not prevent me from boldly moving forward into a season of growth.  In time, I will succeed in dropping my old suitcases from the prior season in favor of the beautiful growth of the new one.   In the meantime, I need to stop using the detritus of the old season as an excuse for failing to move forward.

Similarly, in my walk with Jesus, I was far from perfect when I came into relationship with Him. (If I had waited until I was perfect to know Him better, I would never have known Him!) He was not rattled by the evidence of sin, pain, and bondage in my life, for He knew what kind of growth He had created me to sustain.  He graciously tolerates my flaws as He sets about creating something of beauty.  Instead of cowering in the corner, ashamed of my imperfections, I can move forward with Him and allow Him to birth beauty in my life.   The dead leaves will fall off in due time.   

In Luke 17:14, we read that Jesus healed ten lepers.  However, they did not stand waiting before Jesus until the healing happened.   Instead, “He said to them, ‘Go [at once] and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cured and made clean.”  (AMPC)  Often, we are healed in the process of being obedient to move on; we are healed “in the going.”  If I obey the Lord to do what He asks me to do and choose to trust Him despite my circumstances and my “dead leaves,” I can move forward into the next season and bear fruit.   The fruit-bearing process will ultimately trigger the shedding of the baggage of the past season.   What a wonderful reminder from my valiant orchid!


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טליתא קומי Little Girl, Arise!

sleeping-beautyHave you ever felt drained of all motivation?  Have you asked yourself when your passion for life evaporated?  Perhaps the dreams and desires you yearned to fulfill when you were young have all but disappeared.  After months or even years of waiting for progress, maybe you decided to relinquish those dreams and label them visions of grandeur or vain imaginations.  For all practical purposes, those dreams seem as good as dead.   The very real cares and challenges of life seem to loom like giants, blocking any vision of dreams that once fueled your passions.  

In Mark 5:22-43, we read the account of Jairus’ daughter, who was seriously ill and on the brink of death when Jairus requested that Jesus come and heal her.  Clearly, Jairus, who was one of the local synagogue leaders, had some level of confidence that Jesus was capable of healing his daughter and preventing her from dying.   However, en route to the house, a desperately ill woman in the crowd touched the hem of Jesus’ garment; when He realized someone had touched Him, He stopped to speak with the woman and assured her that her faith in Who He was had released healing to her.  In the meantime, after this apparent delay in the urgent trip to heal Jairus’ daughter, someone arrived from Jairus’ household to report that his daughter had died; there was no point in bothering Jesus for healing.

THAT was, no doubt, what Jesus was waiting for!  We function within the confines of time, but Jesus is the Creator of all time and space, and He was not threatened by the death report.  He heard it but ignored it, and He even exhorted Jairus to keep on believing in the face of that dire news!  In fact, when Jesus arrived at Jairus’ home, mourners were already wailing loudly in front of the house.   Nonplussed, He questioned why they were mourning and asserted that the little girl was not dead but sleeping (apparently a laughable statement in view of the seemingly obvious circumstances!).  He entered the home, took the little girl by the hand, and said, “Little girl, arise!”   To the astonishment of her parents and Jesus’ disciples, she immediately got up and started walking around the room.  

Things are NOT always what they appear to our human eyes.  When we have lost our passion and buried our dreams, we tend to consider ourselves dead in terms of any future, any further adventures, or any hope.   However, Jesus regards us and our circumstances quite differently.  Clearly, He even defines death differently.   His thinking processes are far higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).  

Could it be possible that God has been waiting for you to die to your version of the dreams He planted in you, as He desires to resurrect those dreams in a more glorious form than you could have imagined, had you persisted with your own timetable?  Resurrection and restoration are far grander than human achievement.  Listen for His voice saying, “Little girl, arise!”   You might be surprised at the power of the fresh life you find in Him to empower you for a new season you thought would never come!

Father, I give You my dead, lifeless hopes and dreams and the sense of destiny and purpose I once allowed to burn within me.   I surrender them to You, in Jesus’ Name.  Would You take my hand and empower me to arise at Your touch?   

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What Do You Have in Your Hand?

6a00d8341cbbc953ef0147e139bbda970b-800wiSo often, we tend to spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about our inadequacies and deficiencies.   We feel we are not up to the task at hand; we lack the training or knowledge to perform well in a given situation, or we brand ourselves as failures before we even attempt to solve a problem. However, God is not the least bit concerned about what we do NOT have in our hand, as He is more than capable of compensating for our shortcomings!

Instead, He merely asks us:   “What do you have in your hand?”   The question He asked Moses was just that!  In Exodus 4:1-3a, we read:  Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you?’;” Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  “A staff,” he replied.  The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.”  God asks us to acknowledge what we already have in our hand, what is already available to us.  Then, He asks us to throw it down and relinquish it to Him.

Again, when Jesus prepared to use His disciples to feed the five thousand, He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?  Go and see.”  (Mark 6:38) When they responded that they had five loaves and two fish, Jesus was nonplussed.   He took the meager supply that they gave Him (which was woefully inadequate by anyone’s estimation), gave thanks for the loaves and the fish, and gave them to the disciples to distribute among the thousands of hungry people.  As we know, everyone ate to his fill, and there were leftovers that exceeded the initial amount of food donated!   The key was that those who possessed the initial paltry supply had to relinquish the little that they had.

The Lord works the same kind of miracles today — He regularly asks us to offer Him — to “throw down” — whatever meager supply we have in our hands.  As we give Him what we have, He works miracles of multiplication with the little that we give Him.   He does not even bother to consider what we lack, as He is the One who fills all in all!  (Ephesians 1:23 NKJV)   He is more than able to compensate for our inadequacy, and He is the God of more than enough!  “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

What is the message from these verses?  We can honestly acknowledge our inadequacy and recognize that we are not up to any challenge that may face us; when we relinquish what little we do have to the Lord, He takes over and supernaturally multiplies our apparent lack into an abundance of supply!  He loves to “daily load us with benefits!” (Psalm 68:19)   Truly, He is the God of miracles and multiplication, the God who supplies all our need, the God of more than enough; we only need to give Him the little we have.   Our lack is His opportunity!

Thank You, Father, for the clear signs in my life that I truly am lacking!  Thank You for my inadequacies and weaknesses, for they serve as opportunities for You to fill my life with Your supply and Your glory! Help me to give You everything — the little I think I have — that You may work wonders!


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Does She Look Like Her Daddy?

Every time a new baby is born, all the friends and relatives insist that the hands-father-child-17297036[1]baby looks most like his father — or his mother — or Uncle Harry or Grandma Bess.  However, the fact is that, although infants may bear some resemblance to a particular relative, babies change as they grow.  One of our children was born looking like his daddy and ended up looking more like his maternal grandfather.  In other instances, the resemblance might not be physical, yet may be clearly evident in behavioral patterns or personality characteristics.

Family resemblances give us a clue to a spiritual truth:  Just as we tend to look like our human parents, Daddy God designed us spiritually to reflect Him in this world. When people look at us, He wants people to see Him.   That means I should walk like Him, talk like Him, forgive like Him, love like Him.  Of course, the transformation process of bearing His image is a lifelong one!   The good news is that, since I am powerless to change myself, the Holy Spirit Himself does the work.  The only requirement is that I be willing and available!

Paul explains the looking-like-Daddy-God process in 2 Corinthians 3: 18 (AMPC):

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