FamilyLife Today® Podcast

What’s in a Name?

with Priscilla Shirer | December 5, 2011
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What does your name reveal about you? Author Priscilla Shirer shares some lessons from the book of Judges as she peers into the life of Gideon as he summoned his courage to tear down the idols of Baal.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What does your name reveal about you? Author Priscilla Shirer shares some lessons from the book of Judges as she peers into the life of Gideon as he summoned his courage to tear down the idols of Baal.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

What does your name reveal about you?

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What’s in a Name?

With Priscilla Shirer
December 05, 2011
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Bob: Have you ever wondered how it could be possible that God is taking what’s in your life right now and using that for good?  Priscilla Shirer offers this illustration.

Priscilla:  It’s kind of like baking a cake.  You put some flour in, you put some sugar in, the flavoring that you like, a couple raw eggs, some baking soda, and a little bit of salt.  You stir it all up and then you put it in the oven for just the right amount of time.  Now you’ve got something that is, “Mmm, mmm, good.” 

This is what God does with your life.  He takes the good, He takes the bad, and He takes the ugly.  He puts it all in there together and stirs it up by the power of the Holy Spirit.  That’s when you and I now have a life that, to a lost and dying world, is refreshing!  They get to see that we serve a God that is, “Mmm, mmm, good.”

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, December 5th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We’re going to hear from Priscilla Shirer today about how we can get God’s perspective on what’s going on in our lives.  Stay tuned.

Bob:  And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  I’ll tell you what.  Our listeners—you are in for a treat today.

Dennis:  You are.

Bob:  We’re going to share with you something that we had a chance to share together, as a staff here, at FamilyLife not long ago when Priscilla Shirer was in the offices.  She spoke to our staff, and we want you to hear what she shared with us; but before we get to that, Dennis, we’ve got some exciting stuff that’s happening around here.

Dennis:  We do.  FamilyLife has just finished its best year ever, in its 36 years; and we’ve got some friends of FamilyLife who are really excited about what God’s up to here in our ministry and how He continues to use FamilyLife Today, Real FamilyLife®, our internet site, The Art of Marriage®, and the Weekend to Remember®--all to impact people’s lives, marriages, and families for generations.

What they said is, “We want to come up with a way to match all the donations that come into the ministry in the month of December dollar-for-dollar, up to $2.5 million dollars.

Bob:  That’s amazing!

Dennis:  Now, Bob, that’s what it is today.  That is an amazing number, but we have some other friends who are still making a decision; so, honestly, I believe this number is going to grow.  If we’re going to take advantage of perhaps $3, $4, or $5 million dollars in a match, we’re going to need all of our listeners to step up and say, “You know what?  I really believe in what you’re doing.  I have benefitted from FamilyLife Today, and I want to keep you on the air.  I want to keep you going and help you roll out these new tools.  I want to help you take full advantage of this matching donation that these friends have put in place.”

Bob:  We will keep you posted as we hear about whether that match amount actually grows; but even as it is, with $2.5 million, we need you to go to, click on the button that says, “I Care”, and make a year-end donation to help support the ministry; or call us toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Make a donation over the phone.

Again, any donation you make is going to be matched dollar for dollar—right now, up to a total of $2.5 million—and that number could grow.  We’ll keep you posted on that; and we want to say, “Thanks,” in advance for whatever you’re able to do.  Thanks for listening.  We appreciate your support, and we look forward to hearing from you. 

Dennis:  I agree with that, and I want to add my thanks to yours.  “Thanks,” to the Legacy Partners who keep us going month-in and month-out.  You keep us here on this station—coming to you with practical, biblical principles to equip you in your marriage and family.  That’s what we’re all about.  We want to keep doing that, and we want to impact tens of millions of more families in the future.

As you mentioned, today we have a great message!  It’s an early Christmas gift for our listeners.

Bob:  It really is.  Priscilla Shirer, who is a Bible teacher and the daughter of Tony Evans, was here at FamilyLife not long ago.  We got our whole staff together; and we said to her, “Would you mind just sharing with our staff a little bit about your life and what God’s teaching you from the Scriptures?”

She gave a great message.  Our staff loved it, and we thought, “We need to share that with our listeners.”  The message is from Judges, Chapter 7.  That was the text she used as she spoke to us that day, but she started off by giving us a little insight into the kind of a daughter she was, growing up in Tony and Lois Evans’ home.  Here is Priscilla Shirer.

Priscilla:  [recorded message]  I will tell on myself and let you know that, as I was growing up, I was a very weird child.  I was the child that gave my parents the most drama.  (Laughter)

You know what I mean when I say, “Drama!”  (Particularly when I was a teenager)  I did do some weird things in my teenage years.  One of those weird things, I will share with you.  One of the things that I did was I decided to change my name and to tell everyone at school that my name was this other name because I just wanted to see if it would catch on. 

So I picked two letters:  “D” and “K” – I put them together and made up my initials, “DK.”  To this day, anytime I am out running errands, or maybe at the mall, or grocery store, or something like that, and someone yells out to me and says, “DK!”—I know they went to high school with me.  (Laughter)

Because for four years, every single student, every single teacher, the counselors, and the principal—everybody called me, “DK.”  There was a problem, though.  One day, I got sick in school.  The nurse called my mom; and my mom came to the school, looking for Priscilla.  I remember being behind the little closed-off curtain area in the nurse’s station and hearing my mother and the nurse have a dialog as my mother was looking for Priscilla.  The nurse had no idea who it was she was talking about. 

They went back and forth for a little while; and then finally, they clued in on the fact that it was me.  My mother took me home and nursed me back to health.  When I was fine, she said to me, “Priscilla, let’s get one thing straight!  They can call you whatever they want to call you.  You can even call yourself whatever you want to call you; but when you walk across the stage and get your diploma, there better not be a ‘D’ or a ‘K’ written on that piece of paper!”  (Laughter)

She said, “There is really only one person, two people, that have been given the right, the authority, and the privilege to give you your name.  It’s not all the people you hang around.  It’s really not even you.  It’s me and your father—your mom and your dad.  We are the ones that have been given the privilege and the authority in your life to give you your name.”

I thought about that in our relationship with God—in your relationship with God.  It really does not matter what other people call you.  It doesn’t even matter what you would label yourself.  There is really only one person that has been given the right, and the authority, and the privilege of stamping an identity on you; and it’s your Daddy, it’s your Father.  He says (I Peter, Chapter 2) that you are a “royal priesthood, and a chosen nation, and a people for God’s own possession.  You have been snatched out of darkness and flung into His marvelous light.  You were [not] a people, but now you are [the] people of God.  You had [not] received mercy, but now you have received the mercy of God.”  That is who we are, and that’s who we ought to live like. 

There is a guy in Scripture, whom I’ve been particularly intrigued by in recent months.  It is in Judges, Chapter 7.  If you have your Bible and you want to turn there, let me just tell you what’s happening in this story.  In this story, the children of Israel are being ravaged by the Midianites.  For seven years, the Midianites have come into their culture; have pillaged their land; have taken their resources; have burned their towns; have sent a string of terrible, devastating acts in the midst of the nation. 

The people are living in fear.  In the midst of this crisis and in the midst of this calamity, there is a man—one man—that the Lord does a work in his life and in his heart.  His name is Gideon.  He’s threshing wheat in a winepress one day, underneath an oak tree.  In the midst of this national calamity, this great God, in the image of the Angel of the Lord, (the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ) meets with one guy.  He has a personal connection with one guy in the midst of all this big-picture stuff that is happening.  We see a God who is seeking the heart, the attention, an encounter with just one guy.

He calls Gideon, basically, to be the answer to his own prayer.  They have been calling for a solution, “Somebody save us from what’s happening with the Midianites.”  The Angel of the Lord meets with him and basically says, “You’re the one that I’m sending to be the deliverer for the people.”  On the heels of devastation and crisis, we meet up with Gideon in Judges, Chapter 7, verse 1.  The very first line of that verse says, “Then Jerub-Ba’al” and then, in parentheses; (that is, Gideon)”—

Now, let’s just stop right there because, before we can even get into this story, I’m tripped up by the very first line of Judges, Chapter 7.  I’m the kind of girl who, when I get to heaven—am just going to ask all the little questions—the little nuances that sometimes are kind of in between the lines of some of these verses and passages.   I want to know the details.  I’m a girl.  That’s what we want to know—the details.  So the question is, “Why would He change his name?”

Well, the answer is found in some of the details of chapter 6, which I’ll just very clearly share with you.  One of the very first things that God said to Gideon, after that first meeting, underneath the oak tree—the first assignment—He said was, “Go into your father’s house and tear down the idols of Ba’al that you will find there.”  Gideon, being a very timid, insecure, fearful man (scholars say that he would have been marked by lack of courage)—we know that because it says he didn’t go at day, in the daylight.  He went at night so that no one would see him. 

He also took ten of his homeboys with him for back-up because he didn’t feel secure in doing it himself.  (Laughter)  Now, it doesn’t take 11 guys to tear down one idol.  Yet, he took all of these people with him.  They were victorious in doing it.  In the morning, the men of the town got up and found out that idol had been torn down.  They wanted to kill Gideon.  His father stepped in and said, “Let’s not kill Gideon.  If Ba’al is all he’s cracked up to be—we’ve been worshiping him and ascribing power to him—if he is all that he’s cracked up to be, let’s let Ba’al contend for himself.”

Well, you and I know that idols have eyes but cannot see.  They have ears but cannot hear.  They have hands but can’t actually do anything.  They may have feet, but they cannot walk.  So of course, Gideon continues to thrive; he continues to live.  The very statement of his living now is against the power of Ba’al and it is for ascribing power to the one true God; that is, Yahweh.

So now, Gideon doesn’t have to preach with his mouth—just the fact that he’s still living, that he’s still walking, that he’s still thriving—that is making a statement in and of itself that Ba’al is completely impotent and cannot do anything.  By the way, shouldn’t that be the story of our lives?  That, even if we don’t open our mouths, just our walking, just our living, just the fact that we are thriving, just the fact that there is a smile on our face in the midst of what others might consider hopeless circumstances—just our lives ought to be a statement of the greatness of the one true God; that is, Yahweh.

That phrase, “Let Ba’al contend for himself,” can be summed up in one word; and that word is, “Jerub-Ba’al.”  By the time we get to Judges, Chapter 7, in the eyes of the writer of this text, Gideon is not the same person that he used to be.  When he used to walk through the town, people would say, “That’s Gideon, the one who lacks courage, the one who is always intimidated, the one who is insecure.”  But now, after this incident with Ba’al, after the statement that Gideon’s life is now making of the greatness of Yahweh over the people—now, when people see Gideon walking through town, they say, “Oh, wait a minute.  That’s Jerub-Ba’al.  That’s the one who tore down those idols.  That is the one who is ascribing power and glory to Yahweh.  That is the one who, just his livelihood, is pointing people’s attention to God.”

He was not the same person that he used to be.  Interestingly enough, God used a crisis—the Midianites to completely transform this guy and to give him a brand-new identity—to call him into a standard of living that, without the crisis, he would not have been called to.  You need to know that as 2012 is very quickly approaching, there’s going to be some stuff in 2012 that you and I are going to face.  Jesus put it this way in John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble.”  You don’t have to go looking for trouble.  You just keep living and the trouble will come, and it will find you.

You and I can go into the trouble that we might face in the brand-new year differently than we would have experienced and faced it in this year because what we are facing right now is designed, in some way, to cause us to be completely different people who have bigger courage, better security.  We don’t wallow in fear; we don’t allow ourselves to be muddled with some of the things that we used to because God uses those things to cause us to be re-created—conformed—into the image and likeness of Christ Jesus so that we can face what is coming differently than we would have handled it previously.

You, my friend, are not the same person that you used to be.  How I wish I could have been there and had the privilege—that Gideon could have had—the privilege that you and I have; that is, the canon of Scripture closed, complete, and accurate because then we could have shown him that his story in chapter 7 began with a brand-new name. 

I wonder if he knew this—that he was being viewed by everybody else as a completely different person—not one marked by insecurity and fear anymore, but that he was the one whose life made a statement for the greatness of God.  I wonder if he would have gone into this story a little bit differently in Chapter 7.

He may not have known that then, but you and I get to know it now.  We get to know up-front that whatever comes our way—whatever the Lord allows in our life—the “Midianites” that might come to ravage us and our circumstances—that we get to face that with the power of God on the inside of us, re-conforming us and empowering us to be hopeful in the midst of sometimes hopeless situations.  You are not the same person that you used to be. 

God somehow uses the crisis in our life, works it all together in a way that will be for our good.  It’s kind of like baking a cake.  You put some flour in, you put some sugar in, the flavoring that you like, a couple raw eggs, some baking soda, and a little bit of salt.  You stir all those things up together and it’s not any of those things individually that we might eat.  A spoonful of flour isn’t too tasty.  A spoonful of sugar, well we might eat.  (Laughter)  But we may not just eat the raw egg or a spoonful of baking soda.  But you put all that stuff together, and you stir it all up, and then you put it in the oven for just the right amount of time, and you take it out at just the right time.  Now you’ve got something that is, “Mmm, mmm, good.” 

This is what God does with your life.  He takes the good, He takes the bad, and He takes the ugly.  He puts it all in there together.   All of it, individually, isn’t necessarily tasty to you; but when He puts it together and stirs it up, by the power of the Holy Spirit, 

and then, yes, puts it into the oven of trials for just a little while—but just like any good Master Chef, He stands there to take it out at just the right time.  He doesn’t burn what He’s cooking, ever!  He takes it out at just the right time; and once He has gotten through with it, my friends, that’s when you and I now have a life that, to a lost and dying world, is refreshing, and nourishing, and tastes good.  They get to see that we serve a God that is, “Mmm, mmm, good.” 

This is what God does with your life and with my life.  He uses crisis and causes us to come out of the crisis completely different than we were than when we went in.  You are not the same person that you used to be.

As I mentioned, I have three boys.  Jackson is eight years old; little Jerry, Junior, is seven years old; and then we have Jude—he’s our surprise 2 ½-year-old.  We still don’t know how he got here. (Laughter)  We named him Jude because that is as close as we could get to Revelation (Laughter) because, “It is finished!  It is finished.”

So I’ve got these three boys.  You need to know that my real job—my day job—is that I am a mom to my boys and a wife to my husband.  I feel like it is my greatest calling, and priority, and privilege to serve my family.  Most of my days are spent with my 2 ½-year-old while his big brothers are at school or even when they all come home after school.  I like to be there with breakfast, and snack time, and dinner.  So I make that a priority and a goal.

Little Jude and I—one of the things we do during the day is play with his LEGO® MEGA BLOKS that he has.  He doesn’t have the little ones yet, which drive me nuts because they’re just everywhere!  He’s got that bag—that plastic bag—full of the big MEGA BLOKS.  Our goal, when we sit in his little bedroom—our goal is to build the highest tower that we can. 

Now, we always start this project of building this tower; and about two minutes into the building project, he always races out of the room because there’s something that is more interesting to him that he hears happening in his brothers’ room (if they’re wrestling and he wants to jump on top of the pile, or there’s a cartoon coming on that he hears).  He races out, and I normally just sit in his room and wait for him because I know that in about 2 ½ more minutes, he’ll be distracted from whatever that was and he’ll be back in the room and want to keep building.  So I just wait for him.

When he comes back in the room—inevitably—he always digs back into the bag and starts a brand-new tower.  Now, that frustrates me because we’ve already got a tower going.  I try to make sure he realizes that there is a tower over here that we have started.  We really can continue with the foundation we’ve already got going.  Oh, but no!  He wants to start a brand-new tower. 

So, now we’ve got two towers.  In about two minutes, he gets distracted; and he races out of the room.  I sit there and I wait for him to come back.  Inevitably, when he comes back, he digs into the bag and he starts a brand-new tower.  So now, we’ve got towers everywhere.  Here a tower, there a tower, everywhere a tower, tower!  I’m the kind of person that I want to actually finish the project that I have started.  This little two-year-old is messing me up!  (Laughter)

I want to finish a tower!  I find myself getting frustrated because he keeps getting distracted and he’s not diligent to finish the work that I have started in this project.  It occurs to me that we have a Dad who has started a good work in us.  He really wants to bring it to completion.  He’s started a process in your life—that what happened last year, and the year before, last week, or the week before, last month, or the month before—this was the foundation He was laying.  How dare we get to “Chapter Seven” of our life and start all over again when there is a work that He has started in us, and He really wants it to be completed in your life.

You and I ought to face what’s getting ready to happen in “Chapter Seven,” whatever it may be—we ought to face tomorrow differently than we would have today because there’s a foundation He laid today that He now (and you and I should want to) build off of and see what the completed work will look like at the end of this thing.  You are not the same person that you used to be.  We ought to not act like we are.

Bob:  [studio]  Well, we’ve been listening to Part One of a message from Priscilla Shirer in Judges, Chapter 7—the story of Gideon.  You know, everybody gets to the fleece, or they get to Gideon and his small army; but we forget that God was really at work in Gideon’s life in this whole process.  He was teaching him how to walk by faith and how to respond—not to live in fear, but to be obedient to what God called him to do.

Dennis:  And, Bob, every listener who is listening to us right now has a step in front of them, or a path in front of them, that demands the same kind of bold faith that Gideon embraced.

Bob:  God had to get Gideon to the place where he would embrace it; didn’t He?

Dennis:  He did, and He prodded, and coaxed, and pushed.  Gideon did step out.

The question for you is, “What are you supposed to do?”  Maybe it’s not today; maybe it’s in the New Year.  Maybe you and your spouse need to become hosts for an Art of Marriage® event in the coming months—in the New Year.  Maybe you need to invite your friends to go to the Weekend to Remember®.  Maybe you need to start a HomeBuilders Couples’ Series® small group.  You know, there are plenty of ways to do battle around marriage and family.  Honestly, folks, I have to tell you, there is no organization in America that is big enough to tackle this issue.

The only organization that can even begin to address the deterioration and the breakup of the family is the church.  Guess who the church is?  That’s you, who are followers of Jesus Christ, embracing Him and the Scriptures.  What I would say is, “Take Priscilla’s exhortation and step up; step past the fork into the battle and say, ‘In the coming year (or maybe it’s tomorrow), God’s going to use us to make a difference in my neighborhood, my church, my community, my business.’”  We can make a difference together.

Bob:  You may think, “There’s just not enough to make a dent;” but that’s the whole story of Gideon; isn’t it?

Dennis:  It’s a lot of people, in various places, being faithful to do what God has called them to do.  That’s how we’re going to see a grassroots, spiritual movement to change the course of families. 

Bob:  If you go to our website,, you will see many of the tools that we have put together to be used by folks like you in helping to reach out to others, whether it’s the Art of Marriage event kit, or the Homebuilders Couples’ Series Bible studies that you can use; or the LifeReady® Woman material that is designed for women’s small groups.  Go to for more information about the resources we have put together.

If you don’t see something there that you like, then let us know.  Give us a call and tell us what it is you’re looking for.  We’ll see if we can look around with you and find good resources that can be used in the particular area that you’re interested in.  Our website is  That is:; or call us toll-free at

1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”. 

And don’t forget Priscilla Shirer has written a book called The Resolution for Women, a book designed to help women understand what God’s call for them is as women.  We’ve got that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, as well.  Find it online at or call us, again, at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Now, as Dennis mentioned at the beginning of today’s program, we have got some exciting things happening here at FamilyLife—some friends of the ministry—who have made a matching gift available through the month of December.  Every donation we receive this month is being matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $2.5 million.  We’re actually hearing from some other folks—that number could grow in the days ahead.  We’ll keep you posted as we hear from other friends who might want to pitch in and help make that happen. 

We’re trying to get the word out to as many of our listeners as possible so that you will consider making as generous a year-end contribution as you possibly can.  All you have to do is go to; click the button that says, “I Care”; and you can make an online donation.  Again, when you do, that donation will release the matching funds so your donation will be effectively doubled.  Or, call 1-800-FL-TODAY; and you can make a donation over the phone.  And, again, help us take advantage of this matching-gift opportunity.

Let me just say, “Thanks,” in advance for whatever you’re able to do in making a year-end contribution.  Thank you to those of you who support the ministry throughout the year.  We appreciate your financial support and your concern for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

We hope you can join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to hear Part Two of Priscilla Shirer’s message on Gideon and lessons we can learn from his life.  That comes up tomorrow.  Hope you can be here.

I want to thank our engineer, who today, is Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.


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