The Designer’s Label
April 23-24, 2005
Take just a couple of moments and turn around and get the names of three people around you right quick. Just say “Hi,” give them your name, then get their names. Three people. Now what if I ask you to recite those three names you just heard? Some of you could do it right quick, others would go, “Whoa, man…I, I cannot come up with those names.” That’s a whip, isn’t it, to meet someone and then a second later you can’t come up with their names. That’s crazy.
Names are unique. Names set us apart. What if we didn’t have names? I thought about that. What if we didn’t have names. Instead of saying, “Bill,” we’d say, “Hey, short bald guy who lives down the street.” We have names. Names set us apart. They distinguish us from others.
Have you ever been in this situation, maybe you’re talking with some friends and you see someone walk up and you can tell they wanna join the conversation. You lock eyes with them, you say, “Oh, I should know their name. I’ve forgotten their name.” And quickly, you have a couple of choices: (a) you can say, “You know what? I’ve forgotten your name and I’m an idiot,” or (b) you can say, to yourself, “Well, I’m not gonna say a word, and I hope they’ll introduce themselves to my friends. Then I’ll lie and say, ‘Oh, I thought you two knew each other.’”
What if you were talking to your friends and what if God himself walked up, could you introduce God? I was at a party this past Friday night and I was talking to the host of the party and a couple walked up and the host obviously knew them, introduced me to them, and then in about five sentences he gave me the essence of who these people were. I thought that was cool. This guy did a great job in doing that. If God walked up on your conversation or my conversation with some friends could we introduce him? Do we know his name? Do we know the essence of who he is?
LeBron James, M&M, Britney Spears, Axel Rose, Jerry Jones, Lee Iacocca, Michael Dell—when I said those names, automatically, reflectively we thought about certain qualities, certain characteristics. That’s what happens when we throw out names. If I say the name, God, right now, if I say that, what comes to mind? For some here, maybe a detached deity comes to mind. Maybe you see God sequestered, kinda alone with a long, white, flowing beard tweaking the dials on the universe. Maybe you see a denominational God. Maybe you just see a Catholic God in the Catholic Church. Or maybe you see a southern Baptist God in this other Baptist church or a Pentecostal God or Lutheran God or Episcopalian God.
Maybe you see God confined and defined by denominational perimeters. Or maybe you see Pa-Paw God. We talked about Pa-Paw God in our last session. You know, the God who says, “Come here; sit on my knee.” Here’s another C-note, and there’s another C-note. I’ll just give you hundred dollar bills, whatever you want. Everything’s okay. You can do what you want to do. Everything is cool! Maybe you see God that way.
Maybe you see God as a cosmic killjoy. Raining on your fun; raining on your life. When I articulate the name “God” what comes to mind? What do you think about? Who is God? Do you know His character? The essence of who he is?
Psalm 113 says, “Let the name of the Lord be praised both now and forever more.” What does it mean to “praise God”? It means to worship God. God makes much over us so we can make much over him. Because he knows if we don’t make much over him, our lives aren’t going to be very much.
Well, Ed, is God on an ego trip? No, no, no. It’s the God-centeredness of God. He knows if we chase or love anything else other than him, we’re gonna miss the meaning of life. What’s so ironic is, our culture doesn’t really know God but we know his name. Our culture takes God’s name in vain all the time. God-damn it, people say…Jesus Christ…Oh, my God! Exodus Chapter 20, Verse 7 says, “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Don’t use it flippantly, irreverently, or casually. The name of God was so precious to the Israelites they wouldn’t even articulate it. They wouldn’t even write it. You know we hear these comedians just rip on God and drop the F-bomb every other breath, and then they have the audacity at the end of their performance to say, “God bless you. Peace!” What is up with that?
If God walked up to your conversation, could you introduce him? Yeah, you know his name, but could you tell about his character, his nature, the essence of who he is. The Bible said, and I just read, that we should worship God because of his name. Do you know what the name of God really means? You know what the name of God really carries? I don’t know. Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being,” the psalmist writes, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That’s a true thread isn’t it? The true designer. That’s God designing you and me. “I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
You talk to someone who knows fashion, they can look at someone’s outfit and tell you what they’re wearing. Oh, that’s Armani, Versace, Prada, Target. They can just do it that quick. As Christ followers, those of us who are clothed in Christ, those of us who have the thread of our designer, people should look at us and go, “Oh, man, I know who you’re wearing—that’s Jesus Christ. I see the Lord all over your life. I see him in everything you do, say, touch, and feel.” I see the designer. I see the thread. So let me take some time, just a couple of moments this morning, and introduce you to God. I want to introduce you to the essence of who he is because it’s all about his name.
Meet Elohim, the Creator. That’s a name of God. A plural name of God. Elohim, the Creator. If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 26. Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 26. God is speaking and he says, “Let us make man in our image.” You might be saying, “Man, what’s up with that Ed, us? I mean, singular. No, no, no we’re talking Elohim, the creator, us, who’s us? It’s the essence of who God is, the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; co-existent; co-eternal. We are made in God’s image. We are an illustration of the Trinity. You’re a trinity; I’m a trinity; everybody is a trin, trin, trinity. Body, soul, and spirit. We’re a trinity made in the image of our Trinitarian God; God the Father; God the Son; God the Holy Spirit. Don’t ever say, don’t ever say, well, I’m just not creative. I’ve never had an original thought in life. I’m just not that way. That’s not me. Man, get that weak stuff out of God’s space. You’re making a mockery of the creative genius of God. Every single one of us is a creative genius. Everybody. That’s why the church should be the most innovative entity in the world. If you ever go to a church and you’re bored, do not blame God. God’s not boring. Blame the people who are leading the church. Elohim, the creator; the innovator. Every one of us in this place is a work of art. We’re unique. So meet Elohim.
El Shaddai is another name of God. Elohim and El Shaddai. “El” means great or mighty. “Shaddai” means to pour forth. The picture behind this name of God, El Shaddai, is the picture of a nursing mother. If you talk to nursing mothers, they’ll tell you a phenomenon takes place. They’ll say their milk comes in before the baby is actually hungry. Before the baby actually realizes that they need milk, the Mom’s milk comes in. El Shaddai, God Almighty, the great one who pours forth. God’s milk comes in before we even realize our need. God’s milk comes in before I even know the situation that I’m gonna deal with and I need to take to him. That is the sovereignty of God. The omniscience of God. So meet El Shaddai.
Also I want you to meet Adonai. Adonai. This word “Adonai” has to do with dominion. It’s much easier for us to call God, El Shaddai—to pour forth—than it is to call him Adonai—dominion. The implications of this name, Adonai, have to do with dominion. It has to do with stewardship; it has to do with management. In other words, this name carries forth with it that God owns it all, thus I’m not an owner. I am a manager. Now let that settle in. I’m not an owner; I’m a manager.
Some of you walked in here today thinking you have stuff. You don’t have jack! You don’t own anything. I’ve done a lot of funerals and I’ve never seen a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse. It’s not gonna happen. When you clock out, it’s just you, baby. “Yeah, but how about this or that?” You don’t have a thing. Now here’s what’s so funny. People spend all this time trying to stack up all the stuff. And that’s cool if you have stuff, but what’s the meaning of life? To do deals and die? Is that it? I recreate, procreate, and then clock out? That’s the meaning of life?
The meaning of life is to worship. God does not exist for us, we exist for God. We can’t make God do what we want; we are a mirror of his majesty. Everything we do, say, touch and feel should be an act of worship. How we manage our stuff, our tangible stuff, and how we manage our stuff, our intangible stuff, matters to God. How you steward and how I steward my gifts and abilities and aptitudes; how you steward and I steward my money and my home and cars and all that stuff, that matters to God.
Materialism begins where your income ends. Some of you just got that. I laugh when people say, “Oh, yeah, he’s materialistic. She’s materialistic.” How do you know that? What income bracket, what zip code, what make model of car, what square footage, what vacation destination constitutes materialism? You don’t know and I don’t either. It’s between you and God, me and God.
I’m a steward. I’m not an owner. So quit acting like an owner. You want to enjoy life? Your stuff is not your stuff. Your stuff is God’s stuff and once you realize that, what’s gonna happen? It’ll flow from God to you and to others, to his church, and you’ll enjoy what it means to know God. To know Adonai, to know the fact that Jesus is Lord. That he has dominion. It’s Lordship. It’s the thread. So meet Adonai.
Meet Jehovah, that’s another name of God. Jehovah. For those of you who are into statistics, the name Jehovah is used 6,800 times throughout scripture. Jehovah. Jehovah. Jehovah. Let me give you a hypothetical situation that Moses gave God. This is pretty funny to me. Exodus Chapter 3, here’s what Moses said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, the God of your father has sent me to you and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” Look at Verse 14; God said to Moses, “I Am who I Am.” I can hear Moses saying, “Is that your final answer?” “This is what you’re to say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God is self-sufficient and self-existent he can only define himself. He’s sovereign. The great “I Am.” Meet Jehovah, the great I Am.
Well, let’s take this name Jehovah and do the KOA thing. Let’s, let’s camp out on this name for a while and roast some marshmallows. We can make some Smores and all that stuff, okay, because I want to introduce you to some other names of God.
Now before I introduce you to this next name, let me tell you a story. The setting—Mount Moriah; the players—God, Isaac, and Abraham. Abraham, a man of faith, a man of trust, a man who moved with the heart of God, had a child when he was old. Everybody said, “Man, there’s no way you can have child.” And he and his wife had a child—Isaac. Isaac is now, you know, a teenager. Abraham had some serious bling-age. I laugh when people say, “Man, Mark Cuban, he’s really rolling…Jerry Jones and Bill Gates.” Man, those guys couldn’t carry Abraham’s wallet. This guy was major player. A brilliant guy. Big, big money. God told him to do something really weird. At the apex of his career, God said, “Abraham, I want you to take Isaac, go to Mount Moriah, and I want you to sacrifice your only son.” That’s weird. So, Abraham got together some servants and made his way to Mount Moriah. When he saw Mount Moriah in the distance, here’s what he said—let’s pick up his dialogue in Genesis 22—he said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.” Now I love this next line. We will what? I can’t hear you very well. Worship! That’s life man, worship! That’s why we exist—to worship. This is just a sliver of worship. We’re commanded to corporately worship God here. But your worship doesn’t stop when the service stops. Most of your worship is done outside the walls of Fellowship Church.
“We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (See Abraham knew God was gonna show up big time.) “I know, God, you told me…I know you told me to sacrifice my son, but we’re gonna worship on Mount Moriah and we will come back to you.” What was the conversation like as Abraham and Isaac were walking up the mountain? Here’s this teenage guy. He knew the score. He was like, “Dad, where…where’s the animal we’re gonna sacrifice? Obviously, we’re going up here to sacrifice, I mean, where’s the animal?” Isaac had no idea that he was the one. And I’m sure Abraham said, “Well, son, the Lord will provide. He always does.” So Abraham tied his son, his only boy, to that altar. He was taking his knife out of his sheath, and God said, “Stop! Abraham, I was just testing you. You’ve got the faith. You’ve got the trust. You were going to give up your only son for me. Take him off the altar.”
And then Abraham heard something in the bushes and there was a ram that was caught. He took the ram, sacrificed the ram, and he said, “Jehovah Jireh, the Lord is my provider.” So I want to introduce you to Jehovah Jireh, the Lord is my provider. I love this word “provide.” It comes from Luke, from two Latin words. “Pro” meaning “first”; “vide” meaning “to see.” We get the word “video” from it. Isn’t that amazing? God has already seen the video in your life and mine. There is nothing we can take to him. No problem, no hurt, no pain, no whatever, no junk we can bring to God that he’s not already seen and dealt with before. So we must worship God because he’s Jehovah Jireh. He’s our provider. He’s our provider.
On Mount Moriah what happened? Fast forward it. Solomon built his Temple on Mount Moriah. That’s where the whole sacrificial system took place. And in that same area was where God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to be the ultimate sacrifice. To make the ultimate provision for your life and mine. For your junk and mine. For your sin and mine. Something that none of us here deserves. So, again, meet Jehovah Jireh, God is my provider. Matthew Chapter 6 says, Jesus speaking, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
In Exodus Chapter 17, the Amalekites were in town, I say that figuratively. Joshua and Moses were talking and Moses said, Joshua, take some guys and rumble with the Amalekites. I’ll stay up here on the hill, I’ll pray for you and we will get the victory. I’m telling you, God will give us the victory. So, Joshua starts rumbling with the Amalekites. And Moses stretches out his hands with his staff and prays. While Moses’ hands are up in the air, while he’s praying, what happens? The Israelites are winning the battle with the Amalekites. “Push ‘em back, push ‘em back, waaaaay back.” Then, though, as Moses arms get tired, he begins to falter, and guess what happens—the Amalekites start winning.
So Aaron and Hur help Moses hold his hands up and they build rocks and stuff to help him, and the Israelites win the battle. They defeat the Amalekites. And in Exodus Chapter 17, after the victory, Moses is giving out high fives and “Yeah, we did it! Yeah!” No, no, it doesn’t say that. It says that Moses walked down the hill, built an altar and he said, “Jehovah Nissi. The Lord is my victory. The Lord is my banner.” That’s what he said. That’s what he said.
Every time someone is baptized out there, they’re saying, “Jehovah Nissi. The Lord is my banner. He is my victory.” When they go under the water, that’s representing identification with the death and the burial of Jesus. When they come out of the water, that’s identifying with the resurrection of Christ. People ask me sometimes, “Well, man, why don’t you have altar calls at Fellowship Church. Why don’t people walk down forward?” I come back and say, “Where’s that in the Bible?” A walk forward invitation is only a 150 years old in church history. In the Bible, when people publicly professed their faith, it was through baptism. Now I’m all for public invitations. We do that sometimes, but I just wanted to throw that in.
The Lord is my banner. Is the Lord your banner? Is the Lord your victory? Too many Christians walk around like, “Man, you know I’m all defeated and down, depressed, and all this.” And they speak in whines and whinnies. Hey, I read the last page—we win! And that should be a quality of a Christ follower. The Lord is my banner. He’s my victory. He’s my victory. That’s powerful stuff. What are you fighting right now? I know you’re not fighting the Amalekites. I know that. I’m not fighting them either. But we’re all in war. What do we fight? Maybe the greed-ites, the self-ites, the sex-ites, the career-ites. What are we fighting? Who are we fighting?
Jesus had his nail-pierced hands stretched out over our valley and he is praying—the Bible says—on our behalf. Even the words we cannot articulate to God, Christ is our Intercessor. He is our High Priest. That’s why we don’t have to go through a priest or a pastor to get to God. It’s the priesthood of the believer. That’s why I pray, “…In Jesus name. Amen.” I get to God through Christ, anytime, anywhere, 24/7. I can do a microwave prayer or a slow-marinate-type prayer, anywhere I am. God is your victory. He’s my victory. Jesus is praying on your behalf and my behalf. He’s gonna give us the victory. Let’s act like it. Lets don’t act defeated because we’re not. Meet Jehovah Nissi.
Also, meet Jehovah Rohi. “Rohi” what does that mean? I’ll let the Bible explain it. Psalm 23, Verse 1, “The Lord is my shepherd….” That’s what it means. Jehovah Rohi, the Lord is my Shepherd. The Lord is my Guide. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
I’ve studied the Bible for a long, long time. I’ve gone to seminary and all that stuff and I often wondered why does the Bible compare human beings with sheep? Have you ever wondered that? We’re always compared to sheep. Of all the animals, why did God choose sheep? Well, I know why. Sheep aren’t that smart. And I’m not that smart. Left to my own devices, shepherd-less, I’m not that smart. I’m like a sheep. Study sheep. Here’s what sheep do. [Ed gets down on all fours] Baaa. Baaa. They’ll feed on grass. Baaa. Baaa. Baaaaaaa. One will walk off a cliff, the next will follow, the next, the next, the next. Baaaaaaa. Isn’t that unbelievable?
I used to watch that show VH1 Behind the Music. Did you ever watch that? “You know, man, like, I started this, uh, rock band when I was in high school in my garage and my parents didn’t dig it. So I left home and signed this record deal and my career really blew up. I started dating a Victoria Secret model, got hooked on drugs, alcohol. Uh, two of the band guys got killed, you know, there was some really dark stuff. Went to a rehab, you know, came out, my career is really blowing up, but behind the scenes it was really bad. Went to another rehab, came out, another rehab, came out, another rehab, came out.” Baaa. Baaa. Every single one, every single episode there’s another sheep over the cliff. There’s another sheep over the cliff. Another, and another, and another. We’re not that smart. I’m not that smart; you’re not that smart.
We have this incredible tendency to go over the cliff in the same areas over and over and over and over again. That’s why we need a shepherd! We’re wired for a shepherd and so many people right now, you’re directionless. You know it. You’ve tried this; you’ve tried that. It’s taken you over this cliff and that cliff. You’re bloody and battered and bruised. You might be down on one knee right now. Put the other down and say, “God have your way with me. Be my provider, be my victor, be my shepherd, Lord.” The Lord is my shepherd. Is he yours? He’ll lead us through the dark valleys. He’ll lead us beside still waters. He’ll lead us to perfect areas to feed. You’re made for a shepherd, so am I.
I’ve been to Israel many times. One time I was with a friend of mine who lives over there named, Ovian, and we were looking at all these sheep jumbled up together in this town square. There were like five shepherds. Yet the sheep did not seem lost. I said, “Ovi, these sheep are not that smart, how do they know where to go?” He said, “Oh, Ed, that’s easy, each shepherd has a unique voice, has a unique call.” And I thought, that’s the same way in the Christian life. I should have my ears so in tune, so poised, I should be so ready to respond to my Shepherd’s voice that even in the clutter and clamber of life I hear his call. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Our oldest is 18. She’s getting ready to go off to college. Can you believe that? I’m much too young for that. When Lee Beth was like 5 or 6, we took her to a pet store and bought her a turtle. The turtle was about this big [about 3”]. She named him Mr. T. Mr. T had this giant aquarium, and we would feed Mr. T, and then finally, Lee Beth began to feed Mr. T herself. He ate all this turtle food, and he grew from about this big [3”] to about that big [4”]. He didn’t really grow that much. One day I was driving through our neighborhood and I saw this monster alligator snapping turtle crossing the road. I said, I’m gonna play the trick of tricks on my daughter. So I got out of the car, grabbed this alligator turtle, “Hisssssss,” he’s hissing and everything, put him in the trunk, drove him home, took little Mr. T out of his big aquarium put him in a little container and hid him from Lee Beth. I wedged that big alligator snapper in the aquarium. He was okay, though. “Lee Beth,” I said, “have you fed Mr. T?” “No, Daddy.” I said, “You better feed him.” I was watching as she walked out of there, “Ohh, ohh it’s a miracle! Mr. T has grown, Dad, come here! Look at it! He’s huge! He is huge!”
Now that is the definition of “awe.” She was awe struck! And I’ve just scratched the surface on the names of God and this should usher in a sense of “awe” in all of our lives. That God is this great. And Mr. T, man, he grew didn’t he? He was big. Our God is big, isn’t he? He’s sovereign. He’s omniscient. He’s omnipotent. He’s omnipresent. We serve a big God. And because we serve a big God, we should do big stuff and have big dreams for our lives, individually and collectively. In relationships and marriages and single-parent households and whatever. So this should usher in, I believe, a sense of awe.
Also, this should usher in a real of sense of security in need because there’s a name of God for every need. I cannot come up with a need in my life, you can’t either, that there’s not a name to meet the need. What kind of need do you have right now? What kind of provision do you need? God’s seen it; he’s seen the video already. There’s nothing we can bring to him that he will not take care of. He is the ultimate provider. He gives us, not what we greed, but what we need. Do you need a victory? Do you need to walk in confidence? What are you doing battle with right now? God is your banner. He’s your victory. Are you trying to negotiate the maze of life to make a choice, a decision. “Should I date this person?” “Should I move here?” “Should I take this job?” “Should I go to this school; what should I major in?” The Lord is your shepherd. The Lord’s your shepherd. He’s the ultimate guide.
So briefly, I have tried to introduce you to God. But let me turn the tables for a second. Could God introduce you? Does God know your name? And what I’m driving at is in Revelation Chapter 3 and Philippians Chapter 4, because in these chapters, it talks about different names. It talks about the names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It says that those of us who are Christ-followers have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In other words, if we have admitted the fact that we’re lost sheep, that we’ve gone astray; if we turn from that sin and turn to Christ; if we receive Christ and make him our shepherd, our names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And if that’s true and that’s happened in your life, because I know it’s happened in mine, I have meaning and purpose and power and strength I’ll live forever and ever in eternity with Jesus. If my name’s not there, I face a Christless eternity. A place the Bible calls, a place that Jesus calls, “Hell.” Now God does not slam dunk anybody to Hell, we make that choice.
Regularly, in our staff meetings, we’ll talk about different needs at Fellowship Church; and so often our pastors will say, “Ed, did you know about so and so? She passed away this week. She was in an automobile accident. Ed have you heard about so and so, he died of a heart attack. Have you heard about this person, they died of natural causes. Have you heard about…?” And then they’ll usually say, “You know Ed, I saw that woman at Fellowship Church Saturday night or Sunday morning, a couple of days ago. I talked to that guy. I saw them in some area of service, and little did I realize Ed that this was their last time to attend church.” That always pierces my heart. It’s almost surreal when I have those conversations.
In a crowd this size, with our three locations, who knows, this could be the last time some of you ever have to know Christ personally. I’m not telling you that to scare you, or to freak you out, just statistically speaking, with this many people, that could very well happen. And I would hate for you to miss the opportunity of having your name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. So I want to give you a chance to do that because once you do that, you’ll understand what thread is all about. You’ll understand what the designer is all about. You’ll understand what your life is all about. You’ll understand what the name of God is all about because I don’t care where you are, what you’re into, how quote “far away from God” unquote you think you are, how many doubts, how many questions you have right now, if you will call out to him and admit the obvious, I’m telling ya, he will come into your life and change you.
Not that you’ll not have any more struggles; not that you will not struggle in this area or that any more, but he will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding. Your eternity will be a lock. Your gifts and abilities and aptitudes will take on a whole new flavor and feel. Your made, your wired, your fashioned, you’re woven for this relationship. God makes much over us so we can make much over him. But you can’t make much over him until you know him.
So let’s conclude this time together with a time of prayer. Bow your heads with me for a moment. Every head is bowed, every eye is closed. If you want to make this decision, only you can make it, but I can tell you how to do it. Just say these words with me, “God, I am, like a sheep. I’ve gone my own way. I’ve gone over this cliff and that cliff. I’ve tried this, I’ve tried that, and I’m beaten down Lord, I’m kinda on one knee.” So just put the other knee down and say, “Jesus Christ, I admit to you that I’m lost, that I’m a sinner, I turn from my sins and turn to you. I believe, God, that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and rise again and right now,” just say that, “right now I open the door of my life to you. Lord come into my life, cleanse me, change me, be my shepherd, be my shepherd.”
Down deep you want that provision that only God can give. You want that victory that only he can give. And he secured it for us on the cross. You want that guidance, you want that GPS system and that’s what it means to walk in concert with Christ himself. Just say, “God I want my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I wanna go by your name and live by the ultimate designer.” Hey, if you said that prayer, if you prayed along those lines, after this service we would love to talk to you and if you would make a bee line to the lobby area, to the information kiosk, we have staff members and pastors and men and women who would love to talk with you about this decision. Maybe you have some questions about the Christian life. Maybe you have some questions about a certain area. We would love to help you and talk to you. It’s not an accident that you’re here. It’s by divine appointment, and we thank the Lord for that.