Elohay Mishpat

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Christianity is symbolized by a cross, oftentimes a soft, simple, silver placement affixed to a bright necklace; flowers and bright colors occasionally adorn dainty renditions for decorations in girls' rooms, and in lockers and class binders

And irony saturates how quickly that crucifix darkens under the shadow of history.

Crucifixion first appeared as an idea within the creative, malicious minds of the 6th century Before Christ; it offered a method of punishment that was cruel, painful, embarrassing and slow. It fulfilled the death warrants of many heinous criminals and a number of failed invaders.

The crucifix was an infamous sign of the power and might for the Roman empire, a sign of ruthlessness beyond comprehension of the absorbed nations of the empire. But why?

Because it represented justice so resolute as to support peace throughout the sprawling superpower, a span from the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal all the way to the Caspian Sea, as far north as the border with Scotland and south to Egypt. Through centuries of power, Roman rule held fast hold of its subjects with incomparable levels of ruthless justice — but also with grace.

In an act of mercy, Pontius Pilate offered the freedom of one of the criminals queued for crucifixion roughly 2,000 years ago, as was the annual custom of the state to appease the people; through His wisdom and beautifully poetic will, God allowed the Hebrews to save the life of a murderer in trade for the life of His perfect, sacrificial son.

Those most heartless in this world, even the most dark souls, have the greatest chance at forgiveness and redemption: even in a moment so crucial to the salvation of all of humanity, amidst such enormity God saved the life of one Barnabas and offered him a second chance for life and for life after death. Through a gruesome death worthy of the worst criminals, the Son of Man forfeited his life to pay the ultimate sacrifice, the most pure and lasting sacrifice for people placed at the precise moment for the Passover offering.

A cross is by no means a clean or happy picture worn about the neck lightly; a crucifix is representative of the caring love, chiding chastisement, swift justice and perfection of the King of kings, a gruesome, gory, utterly joyful picture of salvation and second chances.

Justice held the Roman empire tightly together under a common rule, though mercy and grace showed the empire's greatest strength. Isaiah 30:18 shows that:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
— Isaiah 30:18

Daily life provides the opportunity and necessity for God's grace and mercy; only with complete humility may we view and love those around us, care for those we don't know, die for those we've never seen. Through God's guiding will and empowering, fulfilling love we may share.

El HaNe'eman

Every day when I opened the front door of my home—my dog loved me. With the slamming of a car door and the clap of a latch, she knew who had come home. Lucy rushed to greet us from her soft, supple cove on the couch; she would prance and dance about my feet, jumping and wagging furiously to express her happiness; her voice would wine pitifully and heartily for one reason: her boy was home.

Sometimes I held groceries in my arms, true, and on such occasions she tended to spend less time jumping for my arms and more time jumping for the bags in my arms (to help carry them for me, no doubt). But most of the time, almost every time that I entered her Highness's kingdom, I held nothing but my book-laden backpack. And my viola. And my swim bag.

Whenever I came in bundled and bound by my many bags, she would wait for me; she didn't lose interest in me, didn't scamper for her cozy bed on the couch out of impatience. As long as I was able to know her, she was utterly faithful to me.

Fondly, I recall sprawling on the floor next to her still, quiet form while I attacked my homework late at night; she was the only one who would stay up with me while I worked after my parents and brother all disappeared to their rest. And as we lay there, she would scoot herself frame against my side and sigh contentedly, her snout nosing up to my hand as a subtle reminder that she awaited my scratching fingers behind her ears—but she never pushed for it, rather waiting patiently for me to rub her head affectionately when I had finished with the most stressful load.

Watching my every move, she would follow me as I distributed laundry around the house to all the closets and drawers. The sweetest part was how she would follow me no matter how comfortable she had just made herself in mom's bed (right in the middle of the just-clean bed sheets), in the closet under the low-hung clothes, or on the rug in the entryway.

And now she's gone.

We don't hear her tinkling, jingling collar as she sneaks and sniffs about the house for any loose food anymore. As I walk into the house, I hear only the silence left. As I walk in, I smell the clean smell of a fresh, sterile house.

Every day when I open the front door of my home—I love my dog.

The creator (Elohim) of the universe loves me like a dog—or more accurately, I think now with reverence back on Lucy and how she loved me like God.

Deuteronomy 7:9 describes God as El HaNe'eman: The Faithful God.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
— Deuteronomy 7:9

Semper fidelis: "ever faithful". Marines mirror the mantra of God, humans made in His image living in one of the most complex forms of preservation known to the human psyche, sacrificing the team for the person in a code that never leaves a man behind, never gives up.

God always chases after us in our lives. He is felt when I lay crushed beneath despair, and felt in the wonderful celebrations after overcoming adversity. Whenever time grow tough, He doesn't leave me alone, but stands by my side as a silent strength. He doesn't fight my battles for me—He makes me better by giving me the strength to fight for myself.

Always there, during the good and the bad, God is faithful.

I'm not—But I'm trying.


Ponderosa pine fills the air, the scent of a comforting cool vanilla milkshake as it wafts across the nose. Mountain air holds a tight, uncomfortable chill around shoulders, the sun warming from across the peak and behind the front-line protection—the ranging Rockies—but ever out of sight behind the dreary, misting sleet.

Have you ever slept under the stars? Ever spent time in the out-of-doors, in the elements? Or possibly spent time in a damp, drizzling forest? Oh, how beauty shows!

Nature sustains itself with healing rain, with seasons and circling life. Majesty mounts the peaks with the first and last golden rays of sunlight, and misting frozen rain dresses the rough-hewn edges of the mountains with peaceful beauty before my eyes.  And from the behind the range—the thunder rolls.

Power pours from nature's every opening, and the strength and might of a sudden flash of lightning, or of a fiery flare in the forest, stand against all the powers of humanity.

Cold evening settles, the stars hidden behind the fog but the moon glowing softly beneath its humid halo of cold fog. A small campfire crackles to warm and dry the sharp bite from the air, and offer a more jovial glow from below the forest canopy.

Face it, we're scattered and broken ants across the face of the earth, and we don't even stand a chance against the awesome, creative, healing power of the natural world around us.

In the midst of natural power—we are utterly powerless.

None of that matters, though, in light of one, singular fact: that nature only faintly shadows the sheer, raw power of God.

In Genesis 1:1, the first name of God in the Bible appears: "In the beginning, God*..."

"Elohim" holds the unusual property of being a plural noun—used with singular verbs; it is the first-and-foremost portrayal of the Trinity in the Christian biblical texts. The name bases itself in the Hebrew for "strength" or "power", and is the name for the creator god*.

Also, variations of this Hebrew word show many of the aspects of the character of God*.

NOTE: When I use "God" (with a capitalized 'G'), I reference the character, name, and personality of the god of Abraham; when I use "god" (with no capital lettering), it is a reference to the loose concept of a deity in general, of any existing god, regardless of character, power, or other descriptions.