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Destiny, Acacia, Lively, River -- baby names recently given to defenseless infants. Where did they come from? Who knows?

Maybe parents put too much pressure on themselves trying to come up with the perfect name. Sure, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but new names matter. It is difficult to imagine Marion Mitchell Morrison as the quintessential cowboy, but John Wayne is perfect.

Names are also important in the Bible and sometimes people’s names changed. Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah when God promises they will be progenitors of a nation. Their first son is named Isaac, which means "he laughs" because the parents laugh when God tells them they will finally have a child while in their 90s.

Jesus did not call one of his disciples by his birth name Simon. Jesus called him Peter, the Rock, long before Dwayne Johnson ever used the name.

New parents Mary and Joseph named their baby Jesus because an angel told Joseph to!

Joseph consistently got out of the way to make room for God to do God's work in his life. He allows God to add to him, rather than trying to force his own will, even when God's plans completely alter the course of his life.

We need to be more like Joseph, someone in whom the presence of God grows.

The Egyptian root of Mary's name means "beloved" or "cherished." In Hebrew, miryam, from which "Mary" comes, means "rebellion." That may sound cute as the name of an infant, but hardly the name you want for a child in their terrible 2s or teens.

The name Jesus means "he saves" or "he will save us." Because he was thought to be God.

Oh, Jesus' last name is not "Christ." Christ is a title, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah. He was probably known as Jesus of Nazareth. Or as Jesus bar Joseph -- that is, Jesus son of Joseph. Or, Jesus the tekton, Jesus the handyman or carpenter.

Perhaps Immanuel could have been his middle name -- something like Jesus Immanuel bar Joseph -- though middle names were very uncommon.

This title is an important one for us to remember. God was with us in the person of Jesus 2,000 years ago, and God is with us in our lives today. In the midst of our joys and sorrows, we need to remember Immanuel -- God is with us.

Jumper is pastor of the Pontiac First Christian Church. Contact him at


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