Tag Archives: Cran-Hill Ranch

The Value of Your Name


Last week I mentioned Cran-Hill Ranch. Because of their anniversary Barb and I have had fun remembering a host of wonderful events and experiences there. Some of them go back to the summer Barb and I worked at Cran-Hill Ranch. Being the very first summer it was open, there was a lot to be done. One fun thing that sticks out in my mind was that one of the horses needed to be named. No one knew if she had a name – so in essence she had no name. Someone suggested we call her that – NONAME (pronounced ‘no-nah-me’). Pretty clever! And it stuck. Noname was a great horse – even though her name was no name.

The reality is we are most often associated with and identified by our name. If someone wants to refer to me they seldom say “The man with the balding head and blue eyes…;” they’re more likely to say “Curry Pikkaart.” They identify me by my name. In that sense I am identified by my name; I get worth from my name – what people think of Curry Pikkaart they think of me.

I believe it’s tragic that today so many people, especially young people, have no sense of worth, or no sense of identity. Their name represents lostness, confusion and a lack of heathy identity. I want to shout “When you feel inferior or worthless, remember your name.” Perhaps, at first hearing, this admonition doesn’t mean much. But here’s the thing: It’s not the meaning I give to my name that counts most. It’s the meaning God gives to my name that counts most of all. What really matters is what God calls me, and the meaning and worth He gives to me.

The truth is Jesus values your current name – whatever it is; even if it’s no name. In Exodus 28:9 we read that God ordered the names of the sons of Israel to be on the breast of Aaron’s clothing – so He could be their priest and bring them into God’s presence. Their names would be forever in front of God. Later God spoke through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 49:15-16):

“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” God knows your name and He values you.

Still later Jesus said (John 10:3) “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Jesus knows and values you. So “When you feel inferior or worthless, remember your name.” After all, Jesus does!

But that’s not all. Jesus has a new name in store for you, a name reserved only for you. In Revelation 2:17 Jesus said “To Him who overcomes I will give him…a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

That’s fantastic! Jesus has a secret name just for you! What do you think it is? Be confident of this: whatever you are and will forever be uniquely His!

Yet that’s still not all! In Revelation 3:12 Jesus made one more astounding claim: “All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.” Who you have been, who you are, will meld into God and Jesus and your eternal dwelling. You will be one with Jesus! Your identity will be totally absorbed in Him. I can’t even begin to describe or imagine it! But until that time, remember you are already on the way. Get your worth, your identity from Him. With Jesus there is no one with no name – there are no NONAMES. Not even you! So “When you feel inferior or worthless, remember your name.”

Canoeing 101

My wife  and I recently attended the 50th anniversary celebration of Cran-Hill Ranch. Begun as a ministry of the Reformed Churches in Michigan it has  transformed thousands of lives over the years. The ranch is important to us for a lot of reasons – the top reason being it is the place we met. We were on staff the very first summer it opened – 50 years ago. (Yes – we were really young then!) Planning for and celebrating the anniversary brought back many precious memories. One was of the time we spent an overnight there for a brief get away. We knew we couldn’t head for home without spending some time in a canoe. So we rented a canoe and paddled across and around the lake.

That’s when Barb threw out the challenge: “There must be something here for your Pikkup Notes” (the title of my weekly church blog). Of course my mind froze – it doesn’t get clever under pressure! Nothing registered. Besides, I just wanted to enjoy the beautiful day, outstanding weather, and the spectacular surroundings of the camp and lake. Why spoil it by heating up my mental cells? We went there, after all, to take a break from working and thinking – to relax.

But the fuse was lit. Barb knows me too well. She knew something would spark and begin to burn. And it did. At several points we just sat in the canoe, paddles at rest, trying to capture the quietness and peace. Each time we did so I – sitting in the back as the designated driver in charge of steering – had to resume paddling before we drifted too far into the lily pads or swamp area. Otherwise we ran the risk of getting stuck. And that’s when the spark lit the fire. As long as we paddled we controlled our direction and pace; we determined where we went. But with no rudder or anchor we were at the mercy of the current. With no rudder or anchor we would end up going with the flow, no matter where the flow would take us.

James actually said the same thing centuries ago. When it comes to determining direction in life, he said “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” (James 1:3-5 New Living Translation) To go in the right direction, pray – but pray anchored in trust. Without trust, we’re like a tossing wave – or a rudderless, anchor-less canoe. With no rudder or anchor we are at the mercy of the current.

Maintaining the right direction, steering the straight course through life, has become very difficult. Our culture and our media hit us with gale force winds, trying to steer us towards their ideals, goals, and philosophies for life. And with no rudder or anchor, we’re at the mercy of the current. So it is important, critically important, that we have a strong rudder and heavy anchor – a rudder that will help us steer the right course and an anchor that will enable us to stand firm against those opposing gale force winds.




The Good is that Jesus Christ is our anchor and rudder, for He is anchored to God Himself. “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20 NLT) Or as The Message puts it, “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.”

When it’s hard to stay headed in the right direction, the way grows confusing, the road ahead is dark, the winds of the world blow with hurricane force remember: With no rudder or anchor we are at the mercy of the current. But Jesus knows the way. Stay anchored to Him. Let Him steer your life. Follow Him. He is, after all, “The way, the truth, and the life.” Happy canoeing!

It’s All in the Footwork

Proper footwork is important. To dance well, to hit or field a baseball, to be a good defender in any sport, to play soccer well, or to play a pipe organ beautifully takes good footwork. I’m thinking about this because last week my wife Barb and I had the opportunity to help out at the Friendship Camp at Cran-Hill Ranch. She was asked to be the RN for the week and I went along to help out if and where needed.

Throughout the week we were all engaged by the chaplain, John Cleveringa. He did some wonderful presentations on the theme verse from Proverbs 4:26-27 (New Living Translation). “Mark out a straight path for your feet … Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Near the end of the week Barb and I walked one of the nature trails and doing so actually made the verse come alive even more. Here are a few brief reminders and lessons the verse and trail provided for me.

“Mark out (make) a straight path for your feet…” We are not, at birth, automatically placed on a life path. We either wander aimlessly

through life or we choose a path. When Barb and I decided to take a walk we first had to choose which trail, which path to take. There were plenty of options and none of them came to us – we had to choose. The same is true in life. There are an overwhelming number of paths to walk through life. At some point we must choose which one to walk. John the Baptist was called to “guide our feet in the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79) He did so by pointing people to Jesus who said of Himself “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) While ‘choosing Jesus’ certainly means we have the guarantee of eternal life with Him, it also means He is the straight path for our feet – choosing Jesus is to commit to walk after, to follow Him.”

Don’t get sidetracked…” The reality is there are many paths that can be followed. As Barb and I walked our chosen trail we came across several side trails. We had no idea whether they went to a nicer place or if they led only deeper into the woods. We were tempted to walk some of them. It was easy to get sidetracked. So it is with life. There are always others paths along the way, some appealing and some not. It’s easy to let our curiosity get the better of us and change paths. But the wise preacher reminds us that it is not wise to do so: “Don’t get sidetracked.” Changing paths could lead to trouble, danger or dead-ends. It can lead to delay in reaching our chosen goal and destination.

But how do we stay on track? “…keep your feet from following evil.” To ‘keep’ is to continue or cause to continue in a specified condition, position, course…to continue doing repeatedly or habitually. As we walked Barb and I had to keep our feet headed in the direction of the trail we had chosen. It took some effort and discipline, just like staying on track in life. It is difficult, if not impossible to stay on the chosen path without daily, repeated, habitual disciplines. (1) They help us stay on our chosen course to avoid “evil’ – the trouble, danger and dead-ends. Spending time with God through reading the Word and praying helps keep our feet on the path. Through these disciplines we are shown the steps to take. As the Psalmist put it “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 New Living Translation)

While keeping our feet on the path is often very difficult, God offers His help along the way. “Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.” (Psalm 66:9 New Living Translation) And He also offers some very precious promises as incentive for doing so. As The Message states Ps. 119:1-8 – “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.”

In light of these promises the Psalmist reaffirms his commitment to proper footwork and I invite you to do the same. “You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.”
(1) I acknowledge that there are other Spiritual Disciplines but I am focusing here on the ones more apt to be daily.