What’s in a Name?

by Dale Reeves

Story Pastor


This week one of the NFL’s few remaining stadiums without a corporate name removed itself from that list. The Cincinnati Bengals announced Tuesday that they’ve signed a 16-year deal with locally-based HR and payroll software company Paycor to rename Paul Brown Stadium as Paycor Stadium. Only the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field and Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field remain without corporate names. The Bengals’ stadium had been named Paul Brown Stadium since its opening in 2000, after famed coach and executive Paul Brown, who co-founded and was the first coach and general manager of the Bengals.


Paul’s son and current owner, Mike Brown, commented, “My father was always for what is best for the football team. This partnership allows the Bengals to continue to compete at the highest level in the NFL and exemplifies our long-term commitment to the community. . . . We’re a small-market team. We need the revenue streams that we can obtain.”


The change in name sparked some jokes, especially concerning how the Bengals will need money to pay for some of their recently-acquired star players. My friend, Cincinnati kid and longtime fan, Steve Carr, tweeted, “As long as Paycor will Pay-for-Burrow, I’m down.”


Sportswriter and podcast host, Paul Dehner, Jr., observed, “Taking full advantage of the Super Bowl run that made them as popular as any moment in their history.”


One fan reacted, “Stadiums used to have names that meant something to the history of the franchise or area it’s surrounded by. Now they are all banks and corporations. I get the deal needed to be done but seriously people are still going to call it PBS—except announcers.”


New Name, New Identity

A number of times in the Bible God changed the names of people. When God gave someone a new name, it was usually to establish a new identity or new mission in life. God changed Abram’s name, meaning “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “father of many.” He did this when Abram was 99 years old, promising to make him the father of many nations. At the same time, God changed Abraham’s wife’s name from Sarai, meaning “princess,” to Sarah, because she would be “the mother of nations.” After a wrestling bout that the patriarch Jacob had with God, his name was changed from Jacob, meaning “supplanter,” to Israel, meaning “one who struggles with God.”


In the New Testament, Jesus changed Simon’s name, meaning “to hear,” to Peter, meaning “rock”—the very first time he met him. Jesus looked at this rugged fisherman and foresaw the leader Simon Peter would become. In the book of Acts, Saul went by his Hebrew name because he was proud of his Jewish heritage when he was persecuting the Christians who were a threat to all that he knew in the Law of Moses. But not too long after his miraculous encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and his subsequent conversion to be a follower of Christ, he used his Roman name, Paul. It made sense as God called him to travel for his sake farther and farther into the Gentile world. Though in this instance God did not change his name, Paul probably changed the name he was using so that he could more easily approach those to whom he was sent.


Calling on His Name

The past week and a half every morning I have been reading a devotion based on the songs from musician Phil Wickham’s Hymn of Heaven album. One of those songs is entitled, “1,000 Names.


You can worship God with that song here.


In that song, Phil addresses Jesus as Maker, Healer, Bondage Breaker, Rock of Ages, The Great I Am, King, The Beginning and the End, Lord and Servant, the Son of Man, Messiah, the Lion of Judah, and many more names. Way back in the eighth century B.C., God sent a prophet named Joel to communicate these words, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32, NLT). And this promise from God is repeated several times in the New Testament.


When you call on the name of the Lord, which name do you call him? Well, it might depend on what you’re going through at the time. If you are asking God to provide something you need, you might call him “Jehovah Jireh.” If you are fighting a tough battle, you might call him, “Jehovah Nissi,” your battle flag. When I am going through a tough season of life, I call him my “Rock and Refuge,” my “Strong Tower.” If you need to feel his peace in your life in the midst of a difficult situation, you might call him, “Jehovah Shalom.” If you are petitioning God for some kind of healing, you might call out to “Jehovah Rapha.” If you need to know that God is present in your life and with you as you walk through a trial, you might want to call him, “Jehovah Shammah,” meaning “The Lord who is there.”


Jesus referred to God as his “Abba, Father.” The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that communicated a close, intimate relationship between a father and child—one based on affection, confidence, and mutual trust. Our God is most definitely all powerful, the Creator of the universe, and yet in the midst of his majesty and greatness, he still wants us to know how much he cares for his children. The prophet Jeremiah spoke these words: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV).


You can call out to God any time you desire because “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, ESV). God did not have to pay millions of dollars to buy the naming rights for whatever you call him. But he did pay the high price of the blood of Jesus for you so that you can approach him and call out to his name. There are so many names by which he can be called that demonstrate the many unfathomable facets of his character. No matter what you choose to call him, no matter which of his names resonates with you the most today, he is waiting for you to call out his name in adoration, faith, and expectation.

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