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. :)

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.

What was Jesus’ Real Name?

It may sound like a silly question to ask “what was Jesus’ real name” unless you’ve spent some time on Christian message boards or reading certain Christian blogs.  If you have, you’ll probably notice certain people adamantly insist on referring to Jesus as Yeshua.  These people will often argue with you why you are wrong for calling Jesus, well, Jesus.

What this all comes down to is languages and the translations of those languages.  Some people don’t really that the Bible was not written in English.  Instead it was translated into English from the original languages.  More knowledgeable people know that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek.  But technically part of the Old Testament was written in Aramaic as well and that does have a bearing on this whole thing.

The Jews spoke and wrote Hebrew up until King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried the people away into exile.  In Babylon they were surrounded by a new culture and a new language – Aramaic.  Part of the book of Daniel and the book of Esther were written in the language of the Babylonians – Aramaic.  When the exiles returned in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, they were unable to understand their own scriptures because they were written in Hebrew.  Only the educated scribes and scholars were still able to read the scriptures which is why the people reacted as though they had never heard them read before – they hadn’t.

Things get even more complicated by Jesus’ day.  In Jerusalem there would have been three languages spoken.  The common language of the Jewish people would have been Aramaic still.  The scribes and scholars would have been able to read Hebrew but it wouldn’t have been used commonly.  Then there was the Greek language.  This was known as the “trade language” because it was the common language of the rest of the Roman world.  If you had to deal with anyone who was a Gentile, you probably had to deal with them in Greek.

Now, why is all of this relevant?  Because Mary and Joseph would have spoken Aramaic like the rest of the Jews.  The name given to Jesus would not have been Jesus, nor would it have been the Hebrew Yeshua either, but the Aramaic form of this name.  And guess what, that Aramaic doesn’t look anything like any kind of English - Jesus

And that’s really my point.  No matter how you insist on pronouncing it or what you insist is the “real” name of Jesus, unless you speak and write ancient Aramaic, you’re using a translation of the name.  Several of those Aramaic letters have no equivalent sound in the English language.  One close approximation is Eashoa.  Others have insisted it is still Yeshua.  The fact is that nothing can be 100% correct because we just don’t have letters for those sounds in English.

Having sort of answered the question “what is Jesus’ real name” there is still another question out there.  And that would be, why is Jesus called Jesus?  And that’s a fairly easy one.  That Aramaic name, no matter how you want to pronounce it, is translated in Greek as Jesus.  Technically in Greek it looks like Iesus because there is no letter J in Greek.  Since the New Testament was written in Greek, that’s what the early church would have referred to Jesus as, not His Aramaic name and not His Hebrew name.

In the end, it’s not a matter of what the name is or how we pronounce it.  What is truly important is what the name means.  The Aramaic approximation means “life-giver” which is actually my least favorite meaning.  Both the Greek and Hebrew forms of the name mean Yahweh (the Lord) saves.  There could hardly be a more appropriate meaning for the name of Jesus.

And now, just in case you were wondering, Jesus was hardly a unique name.  We equate it with the one and only Jesus but there were several by that name in the Old Testament, they just happened to be transliterated from the Hebrew rather than translated into Greek.  You know the Hebrew form of Jesus better, not as Yeshua, but as Joshua.  In the end, call it what you want, it all means the same.  And if you speak a language other than English, you’re going to find another translation or transliteration and it’s going to sound even different.

After all of this, you might still be wondering about how “Christ” fits into all of this.  Well, that’s going to be another post, so be sure to click the link above for that information.