To Live By Words and Numbers.


The Phantom Tollbooth (1969)

I recall watching the movie, The Phantom Tollbooth, several times as a kid.    In the movie, Milo, the main character, eventually comes across the King of Words (from dictionopolis), and the King of Numbers (from Digitopolis), and they’re in a heated debate over who’s got more influence in life: numbers or letters.

That debate inspired discussion in my sixth grade language arts class: if you could have an army of numbers or an army of letters, which would you choose?

I recall choosing numbers, because numbers are infinite.  But, then a classmate told me that for every number, there’s a word (meaning, multiple letters): “2” would lose in battle with “T-W-O.”

Nonetheless, it is now many many years later, and I still recall the discussion –and, perhaps she had a point.  After all, I’m not blogging in binary code, am I?

As I woke this morning I had a few thoughts.  First, I reflected on this past week, and thought of how my desk is just absolutely covered in papers and notes and note-cards all related to my study for the Montana Real Estate License Exam.  Then, I thought of going to my church right in the middle of my week and playing music for my Lord.  While, it may have seemed like an interruption to my studies for some, to me, it was necessary to abandon myself for about an hour.

That night of worship became a night of surrender.  I prayed, intently, asking for God to go before me.  To lift the fear, and the opportunity of fear from my week, and allow me to conquer the state exam.  Some friends prayed with me and as I left to return home (to study), I felt like a Spartan warrior — minus all the chiseled abs.

A few verses have been floating around in my head over this past week.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.

This verse has given me security, knowing that my ends are not God’s ends.  And, therefore, my means, are really not mine at all.  In fact, I can have faith (and, therefore, confidence) that God is working a great work in my life, because I love Him.  Then I notice some of the fear withering away.

Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

This verse, like the above, reassures me that God is in control.  He’s got stuff figured out, and really, I just need to chill out.  I love this verse because the command is simple:  chill.  I’ve got this, He says.

And, finally, Proverbs 16:3

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

I quoted this verse in an earlier blog-entry, and, really, it’s a recent favorite of mine.  My wife must have recently stumbled across this one, or became moved by it and decided to write it on a post-it note and stick it to the bathroom mirror.  I noticed it some time ago.  At first, I just read it, and moved on.  But, in no time, I noticed those words echoing in my head: He will establish my plans.  Just commit!

This verse has helped me find that there’s victory in submission to the Lord.  Just let go.  Scripture tells us to cast our fears upon the Lord (see: 1 Peter 5:7 and/or Psalm 55:22), and even Jesus said:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

That’s Matthew 6:27, by the way.  I love that question!  It’s even a bit humorous: who can add a single hour to your life by worrying?  Ha!  Jesus is laughing at adversity!  I love it!

Now, if I may digress, or better-yet, regress (to the point I originally thought I had); notice all these numbers (in the form of Bible verses).  I’m sure you already knew this, but think about the fact that the original Scriptures were NOT written in verse form.  It’s not like back in the day people shouted: Psalm 46:10 when they needed a spiritual-pick-me-up!  No.  These passages, many of them, were written like letters.  And, do we number our paragraphs or even our sentences when we write letters?  Nope.  Not since grade-school.  Yet, today we like to remind ourselves of the Love God has for us by plastering “JOHN316” on a license plate.  Or tattooing Psalm29:11 on our arm so we can feel “stronger.”  Or, perhaps we buy a new house and notice the address is 2415, as in Joshua 24:15.  (That would be cool!)

Numbers are reference points (to use a Real Estate term: benchmarks).  They refer us to a truth in WORD.  The idea behind the numbers is to give us an easy way to recall the Truth of God: that He LOVES us, and He fights for us!  (Ezekiel 14:14) 😉

So, maybe my classmate was right after all, with every number, you’ve got WORDS describing it.

In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1


The Name Above

I recall my mother telling me the story of why she decided to name me Justin.  She was walking in a park while she was pregnant with me when she was overwhelmed with an internal thought–as profound as it would be if it were actually someone’s voice–instructing her to “call her child Justin for he will bring justice to all these things.

Now, as cool as I think that is, I do feel like there’s a bit of a bar to reach there.  I mean, seriously?  What justice can I bring?

Nonetheless, according to, Justin comes from the latin name Iustinus which was derived from Justus.

Justin Martyr – not exactly a handsome fellow…

Several early church saints were named Justus including Justin Martyr, who was beheaded in the 2nd century due to his Christian philosophical belief–yikes!

I’ve held a rather opinionated belief that when naming a child the parent should take into careful consideration the name they opt to give them.  I recall reading a book by Farrah Gray titled “Realionaire.”  Farrah, who’s name means ‘burden bearer,’ was the fifth(? – I am pulling from memory) child to a single mother.  He grew up in an impoverished urban city, but refused to give up on his dreams.  By the age of 14 he made his first MILLION dollars!  In short, his story and his motivation are certainly nothing less than a profound inspiration.

In his book, he shares his mother’s sentiment on naming children, which is strikingly similar to my own.  As a result, I’ve become quite fond of the name Farrah.

Now, unfortunately, not all of us get to CHOOSE our names, unless we’re a celebrity (Prince, Madonna, etc.), but that doesn’t mean we can’t redefine them!  In fact, my wife, Corylene, has a name that has no known origin or meaning.  Yet,  I try to encourage and tell her, “hey, perhaps your name has no meaning because we’re ready for YOU to define it!?”

In the days prior to Jesus’ birth, the Jews took very seriously the naming of their children.  It was customary to name the child based on a prophetic inspiration, or even a family tradition.  Consequently, you have the meanings of names like David (beloved), Jeremiah (Yahweh is uplifted), and Moses (son or deliverer) all being quite prophetic in value.

Etymology of ancient names and Biblical names can become quite valuable.  Consider the lineage from Adam (the first man) to Noah, and more importantly, the meaning the names:

Adam – Man
Seth – Appointed
Enosh – Mortal
Kenan – Sorrow
Mahalalel – The blessed God
Jared – Shall come down
Enoch – Teaching
Methuselah – His death shall bring
Lamech – Despairing
Noah – Comfort and rest.

If you place these meanings on a line you get a sentence that reads:

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow, (but) the blessed God shall come down teaching. His death shall bring (the) despairing comfort and rest.

That’s impressive!!  The Gospel is found in the names of the lineage of the first man to the flood!  By the way, this is also the first portion of the lineage of Christ!

Not that long ago I was involved in a rather lengthy (and, often heated) study on John 1:1 with a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses friends of mine.  While we spent so much time discussing the merits of the indefinite article, “a,” and whether or not it’s present in the original Greek Scriptures, what I have learned recently through this study on the preeminence of Jesus Christ is that outside of the grammatical structure of this verse, the verse itself is profound in Jesus’ deity!

Check this out:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

That, of course, is John 1:1 (JW friends, bear with me.  The inclusion of the indefinite article “a” is irrelevant at this point).

The Greek word for ‘Word’ is the word, “logos.”  It’s actually where we get our modern-day word, “logo” from.  Think of all the effective logos in our day.
With the exception of just one of the above logos, even though no words are present, they all represent something rather easily and immediately.  Apple Computer Company in particular has branded itself with incredibly limited usage of actual “words” at all.  Take a look at the back of your iPod — unless you opted for Apple’s free engraving feature, the only representation on the backside is the “Apple logo.”

The Greek word logos is exactly that.

It means to be a representation or an expression so that we may see.  Thus, we get the suffix –ology.  (To study/reveal).

So, what John was actually saying (at that time, in the Greek) was, “In the beginning was the representation of God.”

Let’s jump back to an incredibly familiar verse, the first verse in God’s love letter to us, Genesis 1:1.

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.

Now, make the connection.

In the beginning God… (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning was the Word… (John 1:1)

Combined:  In the beginning [was the representation of God] creating the Heavens and the Earth.

Does it add up?  Well, Colossians 1:16 provides the litmus test.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Yes.  God, by way of Jesus Christ, created ALL things.  And, Jesus was (and is) the revealing nature of God.  (Colossians 1:15).

Jesus, Himself (as the Son of Man) even said so.  Here’s a paraphrased version of John 14:9-14 (but, may I suggest reading it on your own as well):

Phillip, don’t you know me considering I’ve been with you the amount of time I have?  Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.  Don’t you understand that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?  These words, and the authority of them is not of my own, but of the Father’s — meaning, it is He who makes this possible!  If you have a hard time comprehending that, then at least believe because of the works of the Father through His son.

A few quick things I’d like to point out here (and I’ll reference the verse so you can look it up independently):

1)  Notice how Jesus, again, points out the revealing of the Father by way of the Son.  (verse 9)

Colossians 1:15 indicates also that Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  But, what does that mean since we have already been given indication of someone being created in God’s image…Adam?

Adam was made in the image and the likeness of God (made with qualities of God, made to be infinite like God).  Jesus IS the image of God.  Never are we given any indication that Jesus was, first of all, made, and secondly, to be like God.  In fact, the Scriptures overwhelmingly support Jesus being God.

2)  Jesus shares with Phillip (and us) that God works from within us.  His miracles are shown through us! (verse 10)

3)  Even Jesus gives credit to the Father!!  Doesn’t boast in Himself (even though He could!) (verse 11)

Now, to drive this whole thing out of the park, the next three verses sum up the whole reason for this marvelous connection.

John 14:12-14

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (13) And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (14) If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

All authority is contained in the name of Jesus (Yeshua).  What else does the Scripture suggest about His name?

Well, Romans 10:13 says everyone is eligible for the salvation that comes from the name, Jesus.  It further states that in order to receive His gift, you just need to simply call.

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Whoever calls.

Acts 2:21, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Joel 2:32 and Psalms 116:4 all echo this sentiment.

Acts 4:12 sheds a little more light on this empowering name.

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

There is NO OTHER NAME that can save you.  The salvation that God offers, by way of His Holy Name (Yeshua), is unique and unlike any other.  In fact, it is the only TRUE salvation.

Let’s put our etymlology-caps back on for a minute.

Do you realize the word “name” appears in the Old Testament 800 times?!  One of those occurrences is in the form of a personal pronoun: in the family tree of Noah.  Noah had three sons, Ham, Shem and Japath.  However, it is in the lineage of Shem that we find the Messiah!  Shem is the Hebrew word for “name!”  It’s a bit weird to name your son name!  What shall we name him Noah?  Name him, Name!  Suddenly, Noah looks like a caveman in my imagination!

In the New Testamant the word for name is onoma (Greek) and it appears 200 times.  What’s worthy of noting is that in the 1,000 occurrences of the word name in the Scriptures, not once does it refer to The Lord in the plural.  It’s always singular.  Take a closer look at Matthew 28:19

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

All three personas of the triune God (the trinity), but only one name.

It’s that powerful!

The name of salvation.

The name of the Messiah.

The name above all names.


At The Top!

Take a look at this:

Lone Pine State Park, Kalispell, MT

Pictured left is (almost) the top of the city of Kalispell, Montana.  It’s taken from Lonepine State Park and it was just days after arriving to this beautiful Northwestern city with my brother in 2008.

It’s rather typical – at least for young men like us – to assess a new environment and immediately want to get to the top.  Think about it.  You’re on a hike.  The trail bends slightly to expose an overlook to the deep ravine and what do you do?  You approach the edge.  It’s natural to want to be on the top.  To reach the highest point.  To say, “I did it!”

As a child, I recall visiting New York City several times.  Each time with a desire to climb a new skyscraper.  I remember standing on the sidewalk outside of the Empire State Building and looking up!  The building is so tall you can’t see the top from the ground!  And, of course, what follows?

“Let’s go to the top!”

It’s an internal desire of mankind’s to want to reach a little further.  Consider this short list of man’s epic climbs:

In May of 1953, two climbers reach the top of Mt. Everest (the world’s tallest mountain peak),

In July of 1969, an American astronaut becomes the first to climb out onto the surface of the moon, and

In May of 1872, the first American woman climbs the political ladder and runs for the office of the US President!  (Most people tend to forget the achievement of Victoria Woodhull).

Granite Peak, Montana

Granite Peak, Montana

In Montana, the “top” is considered to be Granite Peak, measuring over 12,800 feet in elevation!  This unique mountain was the last to ever be conquered due to its unpredictable weather patterns and technical climbing.

For the vertically inclined, much of the above information may be helpful in accomplishing some new (and adventurous) goals.  And, while this may be the beginning of establishing some new “tops” in our lives, the important question is: where is Jesus in all of it?


Is He at the top?


Consider, for just a minute, how you began your day.  What was the first thing you noticed?  Your alarm clock?  Your child crawling in bed with you?  Your dog or cat?  The sound of an automatic coffee maker?

Chances are, as we are approaching the Summer season, no matter what your first activity was,  you woke up with the sunlight.

God begins His love-letter to us (the Bible) in Genesis with the following:

“Let there be light”, and there was light.  And God saw the light and called it good, and God divided the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day and the darkness Night.  So the evening and the morning were the first day.

(Genesis 1:3-5)

Three take-home truths about this passage in Genesis include:

1)  God created Heaven, Earth, Light and Time.

2)  The Earth had no form, prior – and, still, at this point in time.

3)  God simply SPOKE everything into existence.

Notice how there’s no mention of the sun, or the stars, or the moon.  Just light.  In fact, it’s not till the fourth day that God created the sun, stars, and moon!  So, LIGHT predates the sun!

Now, consider John’s record of the Gospel.  Turn to John 8:12.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

(John 8:12)

What-truly-is the source of life?  The SUN or the SON?

Birth of the sun: Day 4.

Now, let’s take a break from science, and talk diction (yes, words).

Protoevangelism.  Do you fancy a guess to it’s definition?

PROTO means “first,” or “the earliest form of,” and,

EVANGELISM means “delivering the Gospel (the good news).”

So, it literally means, “the first occurrence of the Gospel.”

Many Christians tend to consider the absolute first occurrence of the Gospel to be as early as Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and your shall bruise His heel.”

(Genesis 3:15)

There is certainly much to say about this passage, but for now we’re just going to focus on the promise within.  This is God speaking to the serpent (Satan), who just lied and deceived Adam and Eve.  God is referring to the coming of The Messiah.  However, many Jewish scholars find “protoevangelism” even earlier!

Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.

(Genesis 1:3)

In Aramaic, the word for light is ‘nahora.’  Nahora is considered to be one of the secret names of The Messiah by these early Rabbis.

Are they incorrect in applying the name Nahora (light) to Jesus?

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men.

(John 1:4)

Arise, shine; For your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.

(Isaiah 60:1)

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.”

(Isaiah 60:19)

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.

(Revelation 21:23)

Remember, in Genesis, God divided the darkness from the light and called it the first day.  And, ever since we’ve had the same thing happen.  Each day is signified by the arrival of the sun’s light.  Therefore, everyday begins with “the Light.”  It’s part of God’s natural order!

How do your days begin?

Do you thank God for the LIGHT (LIFE) of your day?

Notice how God, in His creation of things, created light and not darkness.  There is no darkness, only the absence of light.  Death is not the opposite of life.  It is simply the absence of it which is why when Jesus tells us HE is the life (John 11:25), He is also reiterating that there is no life outside of Him.

To be absent Jesus, is to be absent life.

The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

(Job 33:4)

The word for “life” found in Job is also the same Hebrew word found in Genesis 2:7:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

“Khah-e,” is the Hebrew word for “life.”  And, interestingly, it is plural.

Yes, God gave us two lives:  1) Spiritual and 2) Physical.

When Adam sinned, he died spiritually.  This is clarified in Ephesians 2:1,

And you [He made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Therefore, the light of day should be a reminder that Jesus is here!  He is sharing His light (life) with you!  Be thankful!

Just as a new day begins with sun light, new life begins with Son Light!