God Names and Claims His People: Christian

by Tricia Hitchcock

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 11:19-26 (NIV)

I didn’t know how much the name “Christian” meant to me until recently.  A friend said that she didn’t like the term Christian and preferred to be called a follower of Christ or a disciple or something else.  Her issue is that there are so many Christians who do or say or believe things that she doesn’t and she feels like the world judges her by others’ actions.  This conversation made me a little upset and made me go home and think hard about what was causing that reaction.

My first thought was that being called a “Christian” for the first time was something that the Scriptures marked.  It HAS to have some significance.  What I know of church history tells me that because the believers in Acts claimed Christ and claimed Him as the ONLY WAY to God, they were persecuted in the Roman world.  In a poly-theistic society, the Early Church’s refusal to acknowledge any other than the One True God made them at odds with the culture.

I think that this is probably why the term “Christian” is important to me.  I understand my friend’s point, I guess –  just like any other “name” there are people who claim the title who don’t act appropriately.  However, for me, it is the centrality of Christ that has made this name important.  For most of my career, I have taught in public schools.  Some of that time was in a place rather hostile to my faith.  But even there, I found other Christians who became a support system for me.  These people were from all different denominations and churches, but the one thing we ALL had in common was Christ.  It was our identity as Christians that brought us together. He was all that mattered.  He IS all that matters.

Names of God: The End

Jesus “The End”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Our very first Lenten meditation focused on the fact that Jesus is called “the Beginning”. He is both the Creator, who accounted for the beginning of all things, and He is the Redeemer, who by His death and resurrection brings a new beginning of eternal life.

But the same two verses that call Jesus “the Beginning” (Revelation 21:6 & 22:13), go on to also call him “the End”. Now, a measuring tape, a book, or a year has a beginning and an end, but how can the Eternal Christ Jesus who lives forever with his new creation ever be called “the End”?

The answer is found in the fact that our Bibles were not written in English, but in Hebrew and Greek. And so, that word “end” in Revelation (the Greek word is telos) has a more complex meaning than our English word “end”. Telos primarily means “fulfillment” or “goal”, and that is how we must understand it in regard to Jesus. He is the fulfillment, the goal, of all things.

So, for example, Paul said in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law;” but Jesus made that statement about the scriptures clearer, when He said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So, Christ Jesus is the fulfillment, the goal, the intended ‘end’ of all that God has said and done. “It is all about Jesus!”

This must be our focus as Christians: that at the end of history the Lord will be “all in all.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “from him, and through, him and to him, are all things;’ He is “above all, and through all, and in all.”

And if He is the reality that will fill eternity, we have nothing more important for our lives on this Resurrection Day.  It is all about Jesus!

Names of God: Shiloh

Shiloh
by Ben Gibson

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10

On Sunday, April 6th, 1862 the Union soldiers were still cooking their breakfasts when they heard shots in the distance. Camped out near Shiloh Meeting House, the open field was only supposed to serve as a pit stop on the trek down to the Confederate rail center in Corinth, Mississippi. However, a patrol of Union troops stumbled upon 35,000 Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the Union camp and one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War ensued. With over 100,000 troops engaged and over 20,000 casualties by the end of the fighting, the Battle at Shiloh was the bloodiest occurrence on American soil up to that point in the country’s history.

At the center of all the fighting stood the small Shiloh Meeting House. The Messianic use of Shiloh, meaning “he to whom it belongs,” is found only once in Scripture, in Jacob’s blessing to his sons in Genesis 49. While Shiloh was also a town in Ephraim, the term is alone used with prophetic connotation by Jacob. In blessing his son Judah, Jacob declares that Judah’s tribe will hold the scepter until “he to whom it belongs” comes.

Christ, we know now, is the one to whom it belongs.

But it is not just the scepter that is Christ’s. We know from Colossians that all the world was created in and through him. Christ is Shiloh, he to whom it all belongs. I am often left wondering, however, whether Christ would still claim it? In a world where the events, such as the one at Shiloh, Tennessee, have become common place, why would a perfect God choose acknowledge ownership over such a messy reality?

In the incarnation, we are given the answer. Christ, in the incarnation, comes and shows, in taking on human flesh and human nature, in taking on our sin through his own suffering and death, that it all belongs to him.

In the incarnation, Christ claimed every moment from Jacob’s death to a spring morning in Tennessee and beyond. In the incarnation, God, in Christ, surveys all of creation and declares “…this is mine.”
~Ben Gibson

Names of God: Man of Sorrows

Man of Sorrows
by Nick Laninga

 

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
Isaiah 53:3b

This unusual title for Jesus draws us in to look at the work and person of Christ.

-Christ the second person of the Trinity-very God and very man. Christ, Creator of everything,  left the splendor of heaven.

-Who [II Cor.8:9], though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

-All for love’s sake He renounced the glory of heaven

=He took on the full sorrow and humiliation of life, choosing not only to die but to be born.

-He left his Father’s house giving up the fullness of a heavenly life yielding His life to death on a cross.

Look at His sorrow! His own rejected him. [Luke 14:24]
“O Jerusalem—–How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Just after the triumphal entry Christ weeps over the city [Luke 19:41-42]
“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace—–because you did not know the time of your visitation”

As P.T. Forsyth states “ It was not the sorrow of the world that broke the heart of Christ, but its wickedness. He was equal to its sorrow. He began by being the World’s Healer but what broke Him was its sin and rejection.”

Gethsemane — can we forget! We read in the gospels’ garden accounts “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Father, save Me from this hour” But for this purpose He came to this hour. Rom. 8:32a.”He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”

God forsaken of God!! Who can understand? Matthew 26:42

“ Thy will be done” No greater words than these

           Can pass from human lips than these which rent

           Their way through agony and blood and sweat

           And broke the silence of Gethsemane

           To save the world from sin.
           Studdart Kennedy.

Why we ask? He was forsaken that we might learn from the anguish and sorrow of His experience, the greatness of our sin! During the hours of darkness He “who knew no sin” was made sin for us. [ II Cor.5:21] that was the cause of His Fathers averted face.

It was not that God was ever hostile to His beloved Son——It was holiness turning away from sin. Great sorrow. Yes. Yet Heb.12:2b holds the key. “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What’s next? Comes again our glorious King all His ransomed home to bring! Hallelujah what a Savior!

We Worship Thee! What language shall I borrow to thank Thee dearest Friend.

     In every pang that rends the heart

         The Man of Sorrows has a part;

         He sympathizes with our grief,

         And to the sufferer sends relief.

         With boldness therefore at the throne

         Let us make all our sorrows known;

         And ask the aid of heavenly power

         To help us in this evil hour.
         SCOTTISH PARAPHRASES

Man of Sorrows — what a name for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim; Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

 

Names of God: Paschal Lamb

Paschal Lamb
by Kerry Garrett

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Paschal Lamb- (definition) Among the ancient Hebrews, the lamb slain and eaten at the Passover.  (Swiss Google)

As had been the case since just after the Exodus from Egypt, in the time of Christ, Jews were practicing the Old Testament tradition of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In the familiar passages (Mt 26:17-30, Lk22:7-23,,,) from the “upper room” Jesus observed the Passover meal in the traditional way while explaining that He was the fulfillment of this important observance: as they ate the Passover lamb He revealed that He had come to be the lamb that takes away sin. He raised the cup and said “this cup is the new covenant, in my blood, which is poured out for you” Lk 22:20. Easily one of the central moments in one of the central moments of all time. We Christians spend a lot of time reading and pondering these great moments, as well we should. I for one think mostly about the goodness and greatness of God and the sacrifice of Jesus of the cross.

But this morning I’m thinking more about Jesus the man, the afternoon before the Last Supper when a multitude of lambs were being slaughtered at the temple.  Did he step over a gutter thick with flowing blood? Were his knees knocking? (does Jesus as man only warrant a lower case “h”?)
Soon enough it would be his blood!

It’s no wonder He prayed so fervently at the Garden of Gethsemane the next night! It is perhaps easier to accept Christ’s great humility and sacrifice from the perspective of heavenly things, but I cannot begin to fathom his overcoming a basic human aversion to the horrendous pain and suffering only he knew he was in for. And further, the human pain of being abandoned by his closest friends in his terrible suffering. What a Savior!
~Kerry Garrett

Names of God: Author

The Author
by Dan Gibson

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:3

 

Have you ever thought of writing a book? Perhaps some of you have actually done so, while others of us have only thought of the possibility. In the passage above from the epistle to the Hebrews, Jesus is presented to us as author—the author of our faith. Ponder this for a few moments. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom John in the prologue to his gospel identifies as the eternal Word, source of all creation, is the author of our faith. He has written the story of life, including its salvation. What a story it is! Human beings, the finest, finishing creative touch of the Son, fell from the lofty heights granted them in the opening chapter of the story, to the depths of alienation and its accompanying misery. These real-life characters in the story, ourselves included, sought and continue to seek to wrench the pen from the hands of the author and write our own version of the story, full of backtalk, murder, mayhem, and self-congratulations.

Into this story, the author inserts himself, draws the errant story lines together, and writes in his own blood the message of rescue and reconciliation. He authors the entirety of the story, from our creation to our salvation, and himself brings it all to perfection at the end.

Oh, tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word. This story is life itself.
~Dan Gibson

Names of God: Cornerstone

Cornerstone
shared by Harry Rodenberger

 

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Ephesians 2:20 (KJV)

Internet Examples of Cornerstone references:

Ballard Marine Construction Inc. – Washougal, WA

BALLARD is seriously committed to our employees and understands that team work is the cornerstone and fundamental driving force behind our organization’s…

 

ONE Gas, Inc – Hugo, OK

a division of ONE Gas, Inc., was founded in 1906,and is the cornerstone of one of the oldest corporations in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Natural Gas Company*….

 

 

The Animal League – Leesburg, FL

Kindness and care for animals and respect for the client is a cornerstone of this organization. The Animal League has been in the business of advocating for our

 

BAC Construction Services LLC. – Minneapolis, MN 55426

Providing excellent customer service is the cornerstone of our success. APPLICANTS MUST APPLY IN PERSON TO BE CONSIDERED.*….

 

from The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

Cornerstone, ceremonial building block, usually placed ritually in the outer wall of a building to commemorate its dedication. Sometimes the stone is solid, with date or other inscription. More typically, it is hollowed out to contain metal receptacles for newspapers, photographs, currency, books, or other documents reflecting current customs, with a view to their historical use when the building is remodeled or demolished.

The cornerstone of Boniface Church, Aachen, Ger.

image001-1

Norbert Schnitzler

Until the development of modern construction, the stone was usually at a corner, possibly as the first of the foundation stones and it was a real support. The modern cornerstone need not actually support, need not be positioned at a corner, and need not be part of the foundation; often it is placed ornamentally in the facade or in an interior wall or floor.

From the original position and function of the cornerstone arose figures of speech in many languages referring to cornerstones or foundation stones of character, faith, liberty, or other excellence. Early customs connected with cornerstones were related to study of the stars and their religious significance. Buildings were laid out with astronomical precision in relation to points of the compass, with emphasis on corners. Cornerstones symbolized “seeds” from which buildings would germinate and rise.

Various religious rituals and Bible references spread and perpetuated the cornerstone custom. Ceremonies have been marked with processions, sacrifices, sprinklings of blood and water, and wide participation by rulers, priests, and other dignitaries who used the mason’s trowel, often made of gold or silver.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZONA—

In 1962, London Bridge was falling down. Built in 1831, the bridge couldn’t handle the ever-increasing flow of traffic across the Thames River. The British government decided to put the bridge up for sale, and Robert McCulloch, Founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation, submitted the winning bid of $2,460,000. McCulloch then spent another $7 million to have it moved to the community he established in 1964.

The bridge was dismantled, and each stone was numbered. Everything was shipped 10,000 miles to Long Beach, California, and then trucked to Lake Havasu City. Reconstruction began on September 23, 1968, with a ceremony including the Lord Mayor of London, who laid the cornerstone.

 

And now from Harry himself:

HE IS THE TOP LINE AND HE IS THE BOTTOM LINE…THE ALPHA AND OMEGA…. THE BEGINNING AND THE END….

HE WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN….WORKED AND LIVED AMONG US …WAS CRUCIFIED…DIED …BURIED AND ROSE FROM THE DEAD!

HE IS THE CORNERSTONE THAT WILL NEVER FAIL!

HE IS THE ARTIST …. THE WORLD IS HIS CANVAS!

IMG_4590

IMG_4955

IMG_5055

IMG_20161108_072751586_HDR (002)

 

 

Names of God: Dayspring

Dayspring
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

 

“Through the tender mercy of our God . . .
the dayspring from on high has visited us,
to give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,” – Luke 1:78-79
The name of Jesus we consider today is the name ‘Dayspring’. That is a quaint, old-timey word which really simply means “dawn” or “sunrise.” But, what an interesting name for Jesus.

Many of us seldom see the sunrise – especially this time of year. But for others – those who work the night shift, farmers up doing chores before first light, or soldiers standing guard through a long, creepy night – the dawn is a most welcome sight. Everything changes when the sun comes up. It brings warmth from the cold; breadth of understanding for we can see what’s around us; and often, unspeakable beauty spread across the sky. No wonder sunrise is many people’s favorite time of the day.

So, when the old Jewish priest Zechariah was told by an angel that he would have a son (John the Baptist), he sees in that announcement an even greater good news. If God was giving him a son as a forerunner; that meant the full sunrise of God’s plan was about to dawn. Actually, Zechariah didn’t make this up; he was referring to God’s ancient promise
of a Messiah, given through Isaiah:

“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light; on those living
in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.” – Isaiah 9:2

And Jesus’ coming has proven to be nothing less than a new dawn: suddenly, the Old Testament prophecies make more sense; God’s unfolding plans are more obvious, and the beauty of God’s grace suddenly shines everywhere. Suddenly there is hope where there was only despair; understanding where confusion had reigned; and good news of God’s grace that eclipses all the rigors of the law. Surely a new dawn has come, for Jesus, the Light of the World, has dawned upon those sitting in darkness and despair.

May you feel the warmth and see the beauty of God’s Sunrise, during these days of Holy Week.
~Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Names of God: Carpenter’s Son

Carpenter’s Son
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
Matthew 13:55

We reflect on the names Jesus was given because they each teach us something about him. But when he was called the carpenter’s son, it was not a compliment; his hometown cynics were trying to discredit him. Others might think he was something special – a prophet, perhaps – but they knew this Jesus – he had grown up there. In their mind he was just the son of Joseph the carpenter – a local boy, someone just like them. They took offense at him because of his growing reputation.

But when we read further in the New Testament, we learn that what caused them offense, was actually one of the most impressive things about Jesus. We may like to imagine the Messiah as some kind of super-hero, with super-human powers which made him immune to the troubles and hardships which others face. But in reality he was just the opposite; he suffered the same things everyone else suffered, and he had proven that in the carpenter’s shop. When he smashed his finger, it hurt like ours does; when he got cut, he bled like we do; when the wood he was working split unexpectedly, he was as frustrated as you would be; and when people didn’t pay, he was broke, too.

This was God’s marvelous plan: he sent his Son to share in our humanity, with all our frailty, that he might be qualified to stand in our place and bear the penalty of our sin. Then, when God raised him from the dead, he might be our great representative before God the Father: not one unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.

What a comfort; our Savior is not far off and out of touch with our trouble; he is one of us – he has walked in our shoes and suffered what we suffer, that he might deliver us from sin and sustain us as we live in this broken world.
~Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Names of God: Wise Master Builder

Wise Master Builder
by Brian Vander Haak

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.
1 Corinthians 3:10

Our family had the privilege of being able to rebuild a 100+ year old cabin in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. As we peeled back layers of outer wall and flooring we were amazed at the hidden craftsmanship. Walls were made by hand-woven meshes of bamboo and twine, each small square perfectly sized and spaced. The floors were built on rough hewn posts floating on rocks, and in areas not damaged by time or this massive earthquake still perfectly straight according to our modern laser level. The bones of the cabin, logs and beams mortised and tenoned together using hand saws and hammers, had flexed as designed under the spectacular stresses of what they call a 1000 year earthquake and remain strong and safe. In fact, most of the damage we repaired was because of modifications made later that undermined part of that masterfully built structure. As much as possible we tried to work with the existing craftsmanship rather than just replace it.

To fully appreciate this verse we have to keep it in the context of the chapter. Jesus is the foundation already laid (11), and we are all builders from that point forward. All of us are part of, and responsible for, the building of the Kingdom. From that firm foundation Paul talks about the materials of building in a way that quickly brings to mind the three little pigs: gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw (12). The craftsmanship will be “revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work”(13). But then we get a glimpse of incredible grace and acceptance when we are told that, even if our efforts are burned up, “the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved…”(15).

I also find great comfort in this chapter’s emphasis that we are not in this by ourselves but “co-workers,” and that we are “God’s building” (9).

If you are a worrier as I am, you might find yourself asking too often: “what have I really accomplished” or “am I up to the task”? The concepts of grace in the face of failure and being part of a larger team and scheme then come as welcome assurance.
~Brian Vander Haak