Encouragement for Today - July 17, 2008


July 17, 2008


What Is In a Name?

Kathy Lay, She Speaks! Graduate


“James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges,

which means Sons of Thunder).” Mark 3:17 (NIV)



When my husband was a baby, he crawled so fast that his parents had a tough time keeping up with him. Zipping here and darting there earned him the nickname "Bug." It stuck around through adulthood and to this day when his dad calls, he asks, "Is Buggy there?"


As noted in today’s key verse, James and John also earned nicknames. I can imagine the scene when Jesus imparted them ... brothers James & John are approaching Jesus and the others. Jesus elbows Matthew in the ribs and says, “Check it out. Here come those Sons of Thunder!” Matthew chuckles knowingly at his bold spoken friends. Or maybe Jesus has each of his outstretched hands on James’ and John’s shoulders and says affectionately, “I love your boldness, guys. You are definitely my special Sons of Thunder and you’re gonna do great stuff for my kingdom.”


Throughout scripture we see numerous examples of God changing someone's name in light of something they've done or will do for Him. In appointing James and John, Jesus used a powerful noun – thunder – that captured their dispositions. I think it’s interesting that their special gift of boldness, to be used for the Lord’s glory, was the very same characteristic that drew criticism from the others when the “Sons of Thunder” asked to be seated closest to Jesus in Heaven.


Having a “thunderous” personality could be fruitful or lethal, depending on how James and John handled it. Had they been “thunderous” on their own or for their own purposes, the results might have been disastrous. But being “thunderous” under the direction of Jesus bore precious fruit for the kingdom.


As we see in this wonderful example in scripture, God calls us to tasks for His Kingdom according to our nature — the very nature He designed and gave us. And as James and John learned to do, we must submit it to His Lordship so He can grow us to our full potential.


So what might your nickname be? Daughter of Mercy? Sister Sunshine? Faithful Friend? Soft-spoken Servant?


Dear Lord, I praise You that You call us according to how You created us. We’re not random, but rather purposefully chosen to be used in certain ways. How special that makes me feel! I want to bring my predisposition under your authority today, Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Related Resources:

The Message of Leadership: 31 Essential Insights from Proverbs by Daniel Southern


Shaped with Purpose: A Personal Guide to Discovering God’s Purpose for Your Life

Workbook and CD by Renee Swope


A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman


Do You Know Him?


Application Steps: 

Try to recall all the nicknames that friends and family have bestowed on you. What do they say about you? Do these names reflect who you really are?



What might your Lord call you in identifying your personality and characteristics?


How can those traits further His Kingdom?


What nickname(s) would you like to earn?


Power Verses:

Isaiah 62:2, “The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.” (NIV)


Isaiah 43:1, “But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.’” (NIV)


© 2008 by Kathy Lay. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105


Originally published Thursday, 17 July 2008.