2015/3/1 Sermon “A New Name, A New Journey” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

A New Name, A New Journey

(Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Mark 8:34-38)

What’s in a name? My name is given by parents, and it means “to be loved” or “beloved.” As their first child, my name carries my parents’ expectations, hope, prayers and wishes. Likewise, when my wife and I gave our children their names, we prayed and named them. The names we gave carry our hopes and wishes for their lives. So, names have meanings and significance.

The Bible is replete with examples of changed names. We see this fact in the reading from Genesis 17. Abram was changed to “Abraham,” which means “father of multitudes.” Sarai was changed to “Sarah,” which means “princess.” Also, Jacob becomes “Israel” (Genesis 35:10).

In the New Testament, we read in the gospels that Simon becomes “Peter, the rock.” Another familiar example is the changing of Saul to “Paul.” Saul who once persecuted the church is now changed into Paul – small or humble.

When we become Christians, we aren’t given new names as it used to be in olden days. But we are all given the name “Christian.” It comes from the Greek word Christianos, meaning followers of Christ. The word appeared only one time in the Bible – Acts 11:26.

You are given a new name – Christian. That is now your identity. That is who you are now. When God changes your name, your vision is also changed, and you gain a new perspective. You become a new person. Your priorities become difference. Your interest and desire become different. Your values become different. You have a new task or mission. And you are on a new journey for God.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

Simpson United Methodist Church

2014-10-19 Sermon Simpson UMC “Religion and Violence: Does Religion Promote Violence?” Tezenlo Thong

“Religion and Violence:

Does Religion Promote Violence?”

(Micah 4:1-4)

Is religion inherently bad? Does it promote violence? Does it foster hate, fear and conflict? Or does religion make human beings better people? Are human beings better off because of it? Or is religion neither inherently good nor bad?

On one hand, we don’t have to look far to find atrocious examples of violence done in the name of religion. On the other hand, some of the greatest historical figures who have exhibited strong moral leadership are people with deep religious convictions, such as Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Thích Nhất Hạnh and others.

No religion is immune from violence. All are guilty of perpetrating hatred and division. Religion, including Christianity, can be and has been used as an excuse for violence. However, we must never condone, much less perpetrate, violence in the name of religion or God. On the contrary, we ought to be a people of peace, love and goodwill and treat people of all faiths with respect, love and dignity they deserve.

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

(Micah 4:1–4 CEB)

But in the days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of the mountains; it will be lifted above the hills; peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say: “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God, so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in God’s paths!” Instruction will come from Zion and the LORD’s word from Jerusalem. God will judge between the nations and settle disputes of mighty nations, which are far away. They will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war. All will sit underneath their own grapevines, under their own fig trees. There will be no one to terrify them; for the mouth of the LORD of heavenly forces has spoken.