Welcome to Spreading Light Ministries

Welcome to the new, and hopefully improved, Spreading Light Ministries website.  Aside from a new look and a design that is hopefully easier to maintain on our end, the website is clearly broken up into five distinct sections.  In addition to this main section, you’ll also find sections on Bible study, sermons, prophecy, and theology.  We have also branched out into an audio format with our own podcast.  You can listen to our podcast, Spright, on our website, on youtube, or through iTunes.

This new format is easily searchable – just use the box at the upper left corner.  In addition, you can see how articles have been tagged so you can quickly find something that focuses on a particular topic of interest.

This section houses some of our oldest articles regarding issues that the church often debates about but aren’t necessarily thought of as theology.  You’ll find them under the category heading “church issues.”  You’ll also find answers to some common Bible questions.  These were previously on another site and have been moved here.  Feel free to ask us any burning Bible questions that you may have by contacting us or by leaving a comment on any page.

One of the great things about this new format is that it provides a place to learn what is going on in Spreading Light Ministries across its network of sites.  This is your first stop to find out what’s new.  Of course you can really stay on top of things by following our Facebook page.  This will have a post anytime there is something new to report.

What’s even better, at least in our opinion, is that this site is now a showcase for what was once a separate site in A Pastor’s Thoughts.  Now, right on our homepage, you’ll get updates from Pastor Mike regarding what is going on in his mind and what his take is on things.  You’ll get a view from the pulpit, hopefully without feeling like you’re being preached at.

Whatever your reason for stopping by today, we hope that you are blessed and that you come back and visit us again.  And if you are blessed, the best way that you can help us, aside from your prayer support, is by telling your friends to check out the site as well.  Go ahead and click one of the share buttons below.  It’s just like ringing the bell on your way out of the restaurant if you got great service. :)

Does God Exist?

When looking at the turmoil around the world today – fighting happening everywhere, innocent people dying, children being abused – it would be easy to question the existence of God.  The sad irony is that this statement is true today, it was true ten years ago, and it will be accurate no matter how far in the future you stumble across this post.  The world is a frightful, violent, and sinful place.  There will always be fighting in the Middle East, there will always be countries undergoing revolution, there will always be sinful people doing horrible things to other people.

So with the presence of so much evil in the world there are plenty of people who want to take this as proof that God does not exist.  Because if God existed – and He is the loving God that we claim Him to be – then He certainly wouldn’t turn a blind eye to all of the horrible things that go on in our planet.

There are two approaches to this false notion.  The first is the truth that God exists but God is not present everywhere.  Listen carefully because this is not saying that God is not omnipresent – everywhere.  I know it sounds like I just contradicted myself.  What I mean is that God does not dwell in the heart of every person.  Sinful people do sinful things.

If you sit in a bright and sunny room and then close the curtains to that room, the room gets dark.  The existence of dark in that room is not proof that light does not exist.  Everyone knows that it is just outside of the curtains and that to make the room light once again all that is needed is to open the curtains.  It’s the same way with God.  Evil exists because God has been shut out.  God does not force Himself upon anyone and turn them into mindless creatures who can do nothing but follow His will.

So, evil exists not because God wants it to but because man wants it to and God has given man freewill to choose rather than forcing us all into loving Him and obeying all that He says.

The other side to the problem of evil is that God has done something about evil; He fixed the problem once and for all by sending His Son into the world to die for humanity’s sin.  As horrific as the problem of evil looks when we glance around at the world today, that is minor compared to the real issue.  The horrors that exist in this world, while certainly not meaning to trivialize them, are nothing compared to the fact that sin separates us from God.  Separation from God is hell, figuratively and ultimately literally as well.  The horrors of this world are just a fraction of how horrible eternal separation from God truly is.

Of course everyone wants a quick solution to the problem of sin.  It would be nice if Jesus’ work on the cross had not only defeated sin but had also eradicated it.  It has been 2000 years, so what’s the hold up?  Clearly God does not work on our timetable and the short lifespan that we enjoy is nothing in the eyes of God.  He is not slow to enact His plan.  The coming of Jesus was first prophesied about way back in Genesis 3:15 in the Garden of Eden.  It took thousands of years until Jesus came.  The Israelites left Egypt in 1446 BC to go to a land that had been promised to their forefathers 400 years beforehand.  While they temporarily possessed much of it, they never took hold of the entire inheritance and still wait 3800 years later.  The Israelites were promised a descendant of King David to reign on his throne forever.  It took 1000 years for Jesus to come and 2000 years after that the people of Israel are still waiting for that literal reign to occur.

The point of the brief history lesson is just a reminder that evil is already defeated; it is taken care of, eliminated, wiped away.  What we see and will continue to see are the death throes of sin and evil.  It’s not that God doesn’t exist or that He can’t handle the problem of evil.  He already has.  The problem is that we cannot see the big picture and we are here for what is ultimately a short time in what appears to be a long process to our eyes.

The unfortunate reality is that while we wait for the culmination of sin’s defeat we will continue to experience sin and evil in this world.  It is not pleasant nor pretty.  It is likely to get even uglier before the end.  Every generation since Christ left has looked around at the evil in the world and been convinced that it was so horrid that it was evidence that Jesus was returning in their lifetime.

Whether Jesus returns tomorrow or in another thousand years is frankly anyone’s guess.  Sin and evil will continue until that day when they are completely eradicated and all of humanity stands to be judged whether at the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Great White Throne of Judgment.  As we wait we have two responsibilities.  The first is to do our best to spread the love of God to fight back against evil.  And the second is to simply pray “Come quickly Lord Jesus.”

Biblical Goal Setting

I am not a very structured person which is kind of ironic because most pastors (senior pastors that is) are very structured, strong type A personalities.  That being said, I recognize this as a weakness and I try to do what I can to accommodate this weakness.  For me, the computer helps me to organize things and I keep spreadsheets for virtually everything I do.  When it comes to real papers and such, I’m probably a lost cause however.

What’s the point of this story?  A few years back I had a graduate class on leadership.  The only thing I really remember from the class was a section on creating goals.  I recently ran across my notes from class and thought that this would make a good book.  So that’s what I did.  I wrote a short book on the subject of setting Biblical goals.

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For the most part, this book is like any other book that deals with setting goals.  What makes your goals Biblical has to do with your priorities as a Christian.  This doesn’t mean that all of your goals will be about “church stuff” but rather that you recognize what your priorities are supposed to be and that you rank the achievement of your goals accordingly.

While I had sort of incorporated the lessons from my class a few years ago, writing this book has caused me to redouble my efforts at scheduling my time and really being specific about about what I hope to accomplish and when.  So part of me wants to self congratulate and say that if I can do this, anyone can.  And I also want to say “I’m not also the writer, I’m also a client.”

Either way, I believe that the book is worth your investment in time and money – only $2.99! – regardless whether I wrote the book or not.  Because frankly these are not my ideas and I can’t claim to any genius plan, I just broke down good thoughts that other people had and put them into a book.

Currently the book is available on Kindle but it will also be released on Nook and through multiple other e-book distributors.  You can find out all about the book and how to purchase it at our new site Biblical Goal Setting.

What Does Christ Mean?

Previously I wrote extensively about the name Jesus.  This is a continuation on the thoughts about Jesus’ name but now focusing on Christ.

It’s quite possible that you see the name Jesus Christ and you think those two names together as Jesus’ first and last names.  Well, that would be incorrect because the people of that day didn’t use last names like we do today.  Jesus would have been identified as Jesus, the son of Joseph, or more technically “Jesus bar Joseph” as “bar” means “son of.”  (You’ll see “bar” in several names in the Bible.  Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”  The murdered who was released to the people instead of Jesus on the Passover was Barabbas which very ironically means “son of the father.”)

So, if not a last name, where does Christ fit with the name Jesus?  Quite simply, Christ is a title.  It is no different in usage than how you would refer to someone as Dr. or sir.  Given the meaning of this title, it might be more technically correct to say Jesus the Christ.  Or one might argue that the word “the” is implied in the meaning of Christ and therefore unnecessary.

So, getting to the point, what does Christ mean?  It means “anointed one” or “the anointed one.”  This doesn’t sound like too big of a deal unless you realize that the term Messiah also means anointed one.  When people referred to Jesus as Christ, they were recognizing Him as the Messiah.

In Peter’s confession of the Christ, Jesus asked the question “who do you say I am?”  Peter answered by saying “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Peter did not respond just by repeating back a title that he had heard.  Instead, he was recognizing that Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied about and whom the Jews were waiting for for hundreds of years.

Some translations of the Bible are now choosing to translate Christ as Messiah in certain situations.  This is neither good nor bad in my view.  In some cases it makes it clear that the title is understood as the Messiah.  However, if you were familiar with Christ in the particular passage, it could lead to confusion if you don’t understand why the change occurred.  They mean the same.

The final question concerning Christ is whether we should use it alone, in place of Jesus, or only in combination – Jesus Christ.  To me, it makes no difference.  I use Jesus or Christ or Jesus Christ interchangeably in my writing and speaking.  The same person is recognized no matter how it is said.

In the New Testament you’ll also find Jesus, Christ, and Jesus Christ used interchangeably.  I haven’t studied closely enough but there may be a pattern to the usage by each author.  Paul might use Jesus more often in certain instances and Christ more often depending on the context.  I simply can’t say without more research.  But I can say that all three are used independently of themselves and therefore I have no problem using any of them myself.

So refer to Jesus as you like.  Just remember that Christ is not His last name.  Instead it is a title that is an acknowledgement of Him being the Messiah.