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ZMI Family Ministries International > Articles by: Erin Tabor

Building Bridges

 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
Philippians 3:17 NIV

Earl Johnson was an upright man who spent his career engineering buildings and bridges, taking care of his family, and going to church at every opportunity. He was also my grandpa and was a great example of someone who pursued Christ with every part of his life. Every Sunday that I can remember, he stood at the church doors in his suit, greeting people and welcoming them inside to hear about Christ (so he built spiritual bridges as well as literal ones). He was a Gideon who handed out Bibles, and when I was in college I would visit my grandparents’ house and he and I would have theological discussions at the dinner table. Throughout the time I was in graduate school, he would regularly write me letters of encouragement that helped me persevere, and to this day I keep his Bible on the shelf next to my desk with his copious notes in the margins on every topic.

One of the most influential experiences I had with him was when he was in his 90s and I went to visit him in his retirement community. I asked him how he was spending his time, and he discussed that he was still greeting at church every Sunday, and passing out Bibles, but he also shared that his neighbor upstairs had cancer and was an unbeliever, so he had been visiting him to share the gospel in hopes that the man could be saved. This struck me because I was a young woman with plenty of drive and energy, but I wasn’t spending my time doing anything as important as that! Even though he was 92, bringing new believers into God’s family was still crucial to my grandpa. This showed me that my whole life from start to finish should be a continuous walk with God and if my job here on earth is to make disciples, then I should be spending every last breath trying. At the end of my grandpa’s life he could say “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

I am a greeter at my church and every Sunday as I stand at the doors to welcome people inside to hear about Christ, I know that he built a bridge to the next generation with his example, and I am continuing to walk my path with Christ as Philippians 3:17 (NIV) instructs, to “join with others in following my example, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”

Who in your life is an example of someone who pursues Christ with every step?

What distinguishes your faith so that others might see you as an example?

Walking with Christ,

Erin Tabor

 

 

Photo Credit: My own photo

No Other Name

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”
Acts 4:12 NIV 

What is in a name? In Exodus, Moses asked God what His name is, and God replied “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14 NIV). These words, translated from ehyeh aser ehyeh are boundless. In other words, God was here before, He is now, and He will be. God is self-existent.

When Jesus was born, his name was not uncommon among Jewish babies born in Israel. In fact, historians mention many other people living at that time with the name Jesus, and even the New Testament lists others with the same name. The actual word of course was not Jesus then, but Yeshua or Joshua. Yeshua is the literal Hebrew word for salvation, so it makes sense that people would name their babies after the awaited promise.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said to her “you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32a NIV). All of the boys named Jesus up until then were salvation in name only, but this Jesus would grow up to embody the word himself. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV). And this Jesus was not only Salvation, but God himself. We see this in the book of John, when the Pharisees were taunting Jesus and asked him how he could have seen Abraham. “‘Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!’” (John 8:58 NIV). Can you guess what word “I am” was translated from? Ehyeh. The same word God used for His own name.

It is difficult to think of a name as anything more than an identifier, but the Bible teaches us a deeper meaning. In John 14:14 NIV, Jesus said “you may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” and Phil. 2:10-11 NIV states that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

We often hear someone end a prayer with “we ask these things in Jesus name.” Maybe we hear it so often we don’t ponder the kind of power we are calling down. Next time you use these words, believe the promise that as children of God who have been redeemed, whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be answered.

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor

Sincere until the day of Christ

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ”
Philippians 1:9-10 ASV

The word ‘sincere’ in the verse above has a very interesting history, and was only used twice in the New Testament (the other is in 2 Peter 1:3). The original Greek word used was eilikrines, which could be a combination of the two words heile which means sun ray, and krino which means judged; in other words ‘judged by sunlight.’

Why would the word sincere mean ‘judged by sunlight’? Well, when devious ancient potters used to find a crack, they would fill it with wax and paint over it so that the customers would not be able to tell the difference between a good pot and a bad one. However, if someone held a pot up to the sun, if there was a crack, the wax would be revealed and the inferior pot would be discovered. Good pottery would be marked with the words sine cera, which meant ‘without wax.’ In other words, sincere meant that the flawless pots could be judged by the sun and passed the test. Another possible use of the word eilikrines involved honey, because it could be held up to the sun for examination, and could be judged clear and pure (without wax). About half of modern English Bibles (NKJV, NASB) translated the word eilikrines to sincere and the other half (NIV, ESV) chose the word pure. Both words effectively give us the definition of being tested for faults and found clear, or judged and approved.

A person who is sincere is someone you know you can trust. The person isn’t hiding anything or trying to be deceitful, so you know that he or she is presenting you with real authenticity. If we break down Phil. 1:9-10, we can see that according to Paul, the way to be sincere and pure is to focus on gaining knowledge and discernment. None of us is capable of being pure (without wax) on our own strength because we are all sinners, but the more we put our effort into striving to be more like God, through studying His Word, discerning what is right and wrong, and loving others, then the more we will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit as we live our lives. In turn, these things will help us serve effectively until Jesus returns. And let us all remember that Jesus already paid for our sins, so if we are saved, then when we are judged by the Son, we are already found to be clear.

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor

 

 

Photo Credit: My own photo