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.


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.

2014 – The Year of Grace

Theologically speaking, grace is God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense.  It is what is given to us on account of our faith.  It is what is needed for salvation.  And absolutely everyone needs grace because we’re all sinners.

More generically though, grace is unmerited favor.  Grace is something that is given to us that we didn’t earn and can’t possibly repay.  We need grace for salvation but God’s grace doesn’t stop at just salvation.  And that is my focus for this year.  I need more grace in my life.

Taking a cue from a friend who placed a theme on upcoming years, last year I declared it to be a year of Jubilee.  This didn’t turn out anything like I expected but God was still praised and celebrated in 2013 as I wrote about in my previous post.

The reason I decided on making 2014 a year of grace is because I could really use some unmerited favor.  Now, this may just sound like I want to rub a genie’s lamp and expect to have some wishes granted.  That would be great but it obviously isn’t happening nor would I want it to be so.

Instead, I want grace because more and more I’m beginning to realize that I have little control over what goes on in life.  Certainly there are aspects that I can control.  With regards to my health I can eat properly and exercise regularly.  But that isn’t a guarantee that I will be healthy.  With regard to my finances, I can work diligently at my job and wisely save and invest my money.  But that isn’t a guarantee that my job will remain or that my investments won’t crash in the stock market.

There is just so much of life that I have no control over.  And just maybe, the things that I do have control over I obsess about too much.  The more difficult life gets, the greater our tendency becomes to control what little we have control over.  Rather than hand things over to God, we claw and scrape and try to hold onto the last things that we do have control of.

And that’s why I need grace and that’s what I’m asking for in particular this year.  I’ve been working too hard to make things happen on my own.  Some people rely on themselves because of a lack of faith in God.  I don’t feel like that’s the case with me.  But instead, my feeling is that often we ask God to do things for us and His response is “I’ve given you all the tools you need to accomplish this already.”  And then people get upset at God because they continue to do nothing and blame God for not answering their prayer.

But I’m on the other end of that.  Yes, I’ve prayed but I’ve continued to work as hard as I can to make things happen.  My work hasn’t accomplished what I hoped for.  I need grace.  It’s not that I deserve what I want in life.  It’s not that it’s owed to me because I’ve worked so hard for it.

Once I finally reach the point of saying “God I can’t do this” and completely handing it over to Him, all I can do is rely on His grace.  Because God doesn’t owe me anything.  My faithfulness to God does not warrant that I get what I want from Him.  My past struggles do not mean that God needs to right the balance sheet now in order to be fair.  All I can say is that I don’t deserve what I’m asking for but I can’t do it myself and I need the Lord to make it possible.

So that’s my theme for this year.  I need unmerited favor.  I don’t deserve it and I certainly don’t deserve it more than anyone else.  That’s the point of being unmerited.  All I can do is ask and expect God to provide.  And in the meantime, I need to stop trying to do God’s job for Him and allow Him to work.