By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes
In the 1990s, John Avery was presenting a series of messages on the names of God in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands when he realized that there might be something more worth exploring in the topic.
“I thought there were some bigger themes to be addressed than what I could explore doing a name a week,” Avery said.
The names of God, or more frequently descriptive titles, are the focus of the Keizer man’s first book The Name Quest, available now from the author and slated for an international release in October.
Within the book, Avery delves into the ways in which the many names of God reveal traits of a divine force. In one section, Avery details the many ways in which God acts as a shepherd for his people: by providing sustenance and protection, revealing paths, healing, and acts as a portal to other realms – faith in the case of believers.
“In our modern society, we don’t relate so easily to the idea of a shepherd. Shepherding in the Middle East is also completely different from our concept of shepherding in our climate. With names like that you have to dig a little more into the culture,” Avery said.
Other names provided a different set of challenges for Avery. The name “jealous God” was one of a few.
“The ‘jealous God’ is related to God’s father-heart for us. It’s not that’s he’s envious or emotionally threatened by anybody not worshiping him. The best for us is in worshiping him and he seeks that. That’s his jealous heart,” Avery said.
Avery also strives to present historical context for some of the names found in the Bible. Specifically, how the names for God changed after the arrival of his son on the mortal plane.
“The period of history between 300 BC to about 100 AD is incredibly complicated history for the Jewish names. The messianic names of Jesus during that time were closely tied to what was happening in the world,” Avery said. “The Jewish expectation of the messiah and the names they associated with him like Son of God and Son of David, were very political terms. They expected a warrior king to come and kick out the Romans. When Jesus came, the way he lived and the things he did completely rewrote those terms. The names of God prior to Jesus had been local to the Jewish nation in history in politics, and (after him) they became names that related the kingdom of God and had a worldwide implication.”
Avery said writing the book helped him become a more organized and more aware teacher in the way it helped him recognize dull and dry teaching that he edited out of the manuscript.
“For me, the most important thing is the experience of the reality of God. He is a God I can speak to, and he speaks to me and takes care of me. Things happen that I know are not coincidence. I look at all of that and I look at what is said in the Bible and I know there is something more there,” Avery said.
John Avery will be making two appearances in coming weeks selling and signing copies of his book. The only place to get a copy of The Name Quest before its nationwide release in October is
in-person and through his website, namesforgod.net.
Saturday, July 19.
Cafe Shine [Salem House of Prayer], 248 Liberty Street N.E., 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 26
NW Book Festival at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Booth 20, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.