Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter

MS Reference Sans Serif – It has been a few months since the last disciple, John, died. Word has come to you that he wrote deeply symbolic letters for all the churches to read. You were chosen to retrieve them, as you are young and can run well, if necessary. The government seems to have found a second wind in their persecution of your kind, believers in a small faith called The Way. However, retrieving the disciples’ letters can be dangerous work.

You come to a small alley with the word “ICTUS” scrabbled on the stone wall. The old man carrying a cane steadies it after a little time. You know that he had just drawn half of the fish symbol. This signifies that he is also a believer in The Way. Without looking down, you complete the fish symbol and the man lets you in apologizing for any troubles you might have had along the way. He takes a well-hidden scroll out of its place and hands it to you. He also offers a snack, which you do not decline. When you feel its safer, you being on the road to your town and your own church.


Such journeys were common in the early church. It’s difficult for us to imagine the persicution our fellow belivers must face daily all over the globe. Lately I wondered the significance of the fish. I know that some of the disciples were fishermen and that Jesus taught them to be fishers of men. Still, I find the meaning of “ICTUS” touching. It’s an acronym:

Iota is the first letter of Iesous, Greek for Jesus.
Chi is the first letter of Christos, Greek for “anointed”.
Theta is the first letter of Theou, genitive case of Teó? “God”.
Upsilon is the first letter of Huios, Greek for Son.
Sigma is the first letter of Soter, Greek for Savior.
“Jesus Christ, the son of God, our savior.”

Many greek believers had only this to cling to when the persecution seemed to double on every side. There are parts of the world today where to gather as a church, to carry a Bible, and to witness to others, all are punishable by death. They have only this truth to cling to, which is ours as well.


Takin’ care of business from 9 to 5.

Lucida Sans – For the longest while, I thought, “I know that works won’t get me into heaven, I’ll just be a good Christian, read my Bible, and not worry about it.” I’ll freely admit that this line of thinking is in error. However, thinking that leading two people to Christ daily will secure me another 100 square feet in my heavenly mansion is also in error.

Ephesians 2:8-10, “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now, in the time of Jesus, the Pharisees did alot of work. They were so focused on their external spiritual appearance that their internal worship of God wasn’t happening. Some people today look as if they’re a spiritual giant, they give, they sing, they share stories, and alway lend a hand at chuch functions, but their internal worship of God isn’t happening either. You wouldn’t know you need to counsel them until they had cracked. Of course, God can fix brokenness. It’s much easier than fixing something that isn’t broke – but God can do that, too.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15, “10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

So there’s nothing that we could have ever done on our own to save us, it’s Christ who secured us salvation. We were created to work, and God has prepared work for us to do. God didn’t intend us to paste on a smile and hand out tracks. If we work without joy, then we work in vain. According to this passage, we should be careful how we build. With what are you building? Wood, hay, or straw are materials that burn quickly. Gold, silver, and costly stones will probably last a little longer. Because you are building the same object as another, doesn’t mean you are using the same materials.

Hebrews 11 is the hall of fame for faithful people. With each name, you’ll notice that their faith is evidenced by something they did. Righteousness, our right standing before God, is ours because we have salvation from God. We recognized Jesus’ sacrifice to cover all sins, ours included, and we were justified because we had faith. Our faith is evidenced by the good works that bear good fruit and build onto the foundation laid by Jesus. Works are nothing without faith. Why work if you don’t believe that “God is and that He rewards those that seek Him?”

Don’t let facts bog down a good story.

LibertySCD – Watching Spiritual Warfare a few weeks ago, Rabbi Moshe Laurie was talking about the word “Jehovah”. In most cases, the four letter name of God (spelled “Yod-He-Vav-He”) ought to be pronounced as if it were spelled “Adonai” or “Elohim”. In some places, it is pronounced as “Yah-Weh” or in France: “Yah-hah-ve.” The name is NEVER pronounced as it is spelled. The word “Jehovah” was the result of translating the Bible into German by Martin Luther.

The four letter name means that God is timeless and infinite, as the four letters are the first from each word which translates to : “He Was, He Is, and He Will Be.”

Most people should be able to read this sentence fairly easily without vowels.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:
“Jehovah — False reading of the Hebrew YAHWEH.”
(“Jehovah,” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1973 ed.)

Encyclopedia Americana:
“Jehovah — erroneous form of the name of the God of Israel.”
(Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 16., 1972 ed.)

Encyclopedia Britannica:
“The Masoretes who from the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of Adonai or Elohim. Thus the artificial name Jehovah came into being.”
(“Yahweh,” The New Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 12, 1993 ed.)

The Jewish Encyclopedia:
“Jehovah — a mispronunciation of the Hebrew YHWH the name of God. This pronunciation is grammatically impossible.”
(“Jehovah,” The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7, 1904 ed.)

The New Jewish Encyclopedia:
“It is clear that the word Jehovah is an artificial composite.”
(“Jehovah,” The New Jewish Encyclopedia, 1962 ed.)

And so here we are today. This sacred name is now a point of conflict, which wasn’t as God intended. You see, God has many names. I like the name “God-of-the-Angel-Armies” which is the message version of “God-of-the-Heavenly-Hosts”. However, whenever you say the latter, I’m not going to beat my Bible on your head and insist on the former. To me, the most sacred name of God is “I Am That I Am.” When you say Jehovah, you are saying a name so sacred to yourself and God that it doesn’t matter that the term has been mistranslated since the word began with the letter I. You know what you mean, God knows what you mean. Just don’t get so hung up on it that you hit people on their heads with your Bible. In fact, early Christian works used “G-d” instead of “God”, even in English works. It’s a good thing that God isn’t a one name for all, but he is more like many names for one, each of them revealing more about Himself to us.  

The straight jacket and narrow mind

LetterGotLMed – I remember that on an old cartoon of mine, the characters were brainwashed by their new counselor whose only goal was to keep the students “on the straight and narrow” meaning, well-behaved and headed to college. Of course, the robotic counselor was eventually stopped and the kids went back to being themselves.

It’s suspected that “the straight and narrow” is taken from Matthew 7:13-14, which is what my Sunday School class spent most of the time discussing:  “13Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (New International Version)

Growing up, we’d visit my grandparents every Sunday. My family; aunts, uncles, and cousins included, would share a Thanksgiving-esque lunch. Because of the time it took to prepare enough food for over two dozen people, we had lots of time to play. We would sometimes take walks down the road or the gravel road on the edge of my grandparents property. It went through the woods which were riddled with small trails that you wouldn’t know were there unless somebody who knew where they were told you which ones led where.

I found the Message Version of the same verses also applicable to the dirrection I’ll be taking: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” In speaking of versions, the Holman Christian Standard Version says that the narrow path to God is difficult and the broad road is easy.

We’ve been brought up in the world’s way of thinking, “All roads lead to Rome.” Certainly, there is a captital of Christianity in the heart of Rome, however, the captital of all Christianity is Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again in the Holy Land, Israel and in it’s capital, Jerusalem. There is only one way to God, it is a narrow line of thought, and rightly so. Early Christianity was called The Way for they preached that Jesus is the Way.

John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Exodus 34:14, “14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

Somebody once asked me why God was jealous, and I had no answer. In our narrow definition, jealousy is used refering to lacking a thing that another has. In this verse, He wants the praise and worship that is due Him. (After all, He had just freed His people from captivity in Egypt and provided for them in the desert for fourty years.) In fact, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that he had godly jelousy.

Being moral just isn’t enough. That road is straight, but it isn’t as narrow as one would think. Traveling the “straight and narrow”, the “small gate and narrow road”, is difficult. Shortcuts are expressways to the broad and easy road. It’s quite a thought to think that only a few find the way to life. There are probably hundreds and thousands of people out there who are following the standard they were taught to the letter, but it isn’t the way to life.

Now that’s a nice sound

LargoD – (Apparently, somebody in this area knicked the phone lines as they were digging a culvert, which caused about a half dozen people to report issues with their phones. Four days later, ours are back up and running. I attended the Hanging of the Greens service Sunday evening, it would have benefited from some more organizational meetings than say, none, but it went well. I’ve chosen a vocation: counseling psychology, but not a location to study it. As I had mentioned, here is the proclamation that truely gives us the first Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t think this paper would pass the modern House of Representatives or the Senate, but that’s why I’m glad Abraham Lincoln was able to get this through in day and age.)

U.S. Congressional Thanksgiving Proclamation (1777)

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with their gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defence and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; ”that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor”; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take school and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, that servile labor, and such recreation as, though at other times, innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion.

of examples and ensamples

IsonormD – According the back of my Message Translation of the Bible, the Bible is the ultimate love, action, adventure, etc. story. Not only is it the story of God’s creation and love for His creation, but people that are much like us. All of them are sinners at one point or another. Some of them don’t recognize this sin and come to a bad ending. The rest of them come to know God very closely. It brings me to the saying, “At the very least, if you can’t serve as a good example, you can be a bad example.” 

Let me be like Noah, who sprang into action just after recieving a warning that would not come to pass for many years.
Let me be like Esther, who cared so much for her people’s lives she risked her own so that they might be saved.
Let me be like Elisha, who would not leave Elijah even knowing that the Lord would take him that very day.

Let me be like Daniel, who would choose water and vegetables over wine and meat from the King’s table.
Let me be like Abraham, who went into a strange land because of Your promise.
Let me be like Tabitha, who was always doing good and helping the poor.

Let me be like Joseph, who chose his people over the splendor of Egypt.
Let me be like Jesus, who never failed to take care of others’ needs.
Let me be like David, who was known for being after Your heart.

Let me be like Enoch, who was commended for pleasing You.
Let me be like Nehemiah, who prayed at every oppurtunity.
Let me be like Paul, who witnessed at every oppurtunity.

Let me be like Cornelius, who sought out God’s Word.
Let me be like Solomon, who asked for wisdom.
Let me strive toward godliness and christlikeness.

As I said, many of the people in the Bible are sinners, but that’s a temporary problem with a permanent solution for those that repent. It’s also a permanent problem with a temporary solution for those that do not repent. As Paul wrote, we ought to consider the lives of those around us and put anything worthwhile into place in our own lives. While we celebrate the good examples of Biblical heroes like those listed above, we ought to beware putting them too far above where they ought to be.

From Saul’s Success to Paul’s Perseverance

Hobo Medium – I love the story of Paul. As Saul, he was the cream of the crop. He was trained by the best rabbi of the time. He was successful in his line of work and he was right with God. Or so he thought. Then it happened. He met Jesus on the road to Damascus, was blinded, and everything changed from that moment on. Today he is known as the greatest missionary of his time.

Did you know that the total probability that Jesus would be a descendant of David, who was born in Bethlehem, who was a miracle worker, who would present himself as a king riding on a donkey and the colt of a donkey 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, who would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (which was a sign of contempt), and who would be crucified all without the intervention of God is 10^38th power (1 in 100 billion, billion, billion, billion)?

Paul knew the scriptures, and yet he had to learn how Jesus fulfilled them. Here is a list of verses to take a look at. The Old Testament verses are the prophecy; the New Testament verses proclaim the fulfillment.

Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23)
A descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16)
Of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33; Hebrews 7:14)
Of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1:1)
Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)
Taken to Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)
Herod´s killing of the infants (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18)
Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17)
Heralded by the messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3)
Would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35)
Would preach good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:14-21)
Would minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16) Would cleanse the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12-13)
Would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25; Matthew 21:4-11)
Would enter Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-9)
Would be rejected by Jews (Psalm 118:22; I Peter 2:7)
Die a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) involving:
rejection (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5,48)
betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18)
sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15)
silence before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14)
being mocked (Psalm 22: 7-8; Matthew 27:31)
beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26)
spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30)
piercing His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31)
being crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38)
praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)
piercing His side (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34)
given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36)
no broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36)
buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60)
casting lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)
Would rise from the dead!! (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)
Ascend into Heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9)
Would sit down at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3)

Somehow, God took a textbook Pharisee and turned him into a model Christian. The story of his life is written in our holy book, the Bible. What an honor that must be! Now, his hope isn’t in vain, and neither is ours.