Category Archives: Jesus

Can Mustard Seed-sized Faith move a Mountain…of trash?

Some days you take your faith to the scales. You wonder…is it up to mustard?

Today is one of those days–and it’s epitomized in the not-so-scenic view from my front porch.

Will you pray for me?

What do you need faith for today?

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Soul, mind, and heart: Not understanding the Biblical text

Which one sounds wrong?

A. Do you have the guts?
B. Put your heart into it.
C. Make up your heart.

What is the heart?
The answer might surprise you.

In modern times, the “heart” has been called, “the feeling mind”. That sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?

A recent visitor responded to my post Is Chocolate Filling my God-shaped Hole? with the comment below (edited down). I think it would help to respond through a post, also. Now we can open up the whole thing to dialogue a bit more. Thanks for your contribution on this topic.

Visitor Response to Post–Submitted: on 2010/12/03 at 3:10 pm
The way I look at it, viewing the heart and mind as separate is extrabiblical; thus, in fact, “that thing that ‘falls in love’ or gets sentimental” *is* the mind. So the modern “follow your heart” does not connote the *opposite* of the biblical “heart,” but rather only *part* of it. Bottom line, I can’t trust my mind or my heart, or even my own spirit completely… only God is 100% trustworthy. As for filling our “voids” with things “besides” God, I try to remember that God gets the credit for all good things anyway…

My response:
I should have also pointed out [within that post] that the Hebrew equivalent of the emotions or passions (what many now consider the “heart”) were also referred to differently than the mind (i.e. set a different category, if you will–the bowels or “guts”).
The “guts” implied connection with those qualities of emotion, and so forth.

To sum up: In the Bible, (most especially in the Old Testament)…

1. What is translated as “heart” (in the KJV and others) is closer to what we now term as “the mind”. More specifically, the individual’s command center, or the place where decisions are made– which includes the will.

2. What we may think of as “the heart” that is, passions, desires, emotions, in the Hebrew language is connected with “the guts” or “bowels” of a person. For instance, “In his guts he loved her”. Yes, it sounds awkward, at best.

Even more controversy:
THE SOUL

There is a big dissimilarity in the Hebrew vs. English renditions of the word often translated in English as “soul”. In Hebrew, it refers to the whole being. The whole person (So, no. It does not mean a ghosty thing that floats to the clouds like in Warner Brother cartoons). We can understand it in our context more this way when we say, “30 souls were lost [died] in the shipwreck.”

Hey, everyone, please, weigh in.
This post is open to opinions, thoughts, comments, or if you’re of the particular stripe…exegesis.
(Yes. That’s the BIG word of the day.)

Exegesis (EGGs -eh- Jesus) is this definition hereIt’s not a variant, or French spelling of “Eggs and Cheeses” which we may be tempted to think at first blush, right? 

"Eggs and Cheeses" (Not Exegesis)

(click photo to find its source)

Tomorrow’s post–
“Does your Breakfast (and your deity) make you AWESOME?”

My song today, is Mary’s song

The Visitation in the Book of Hours of the Duc...

Image via Wikipedia

This is the season of ADVENT.
Today, I want to focus on Mary’s Song (also called the Magnificat) from Luke 1:46-55.

When I first read this, as a kid, I thought, “Wow, Mary’s getting all charismatic…” I wondered if she would be dancing, or waving her hands, or twirling a flag. Would Elizabeth be worrying about getting poked in the eye?

But today, I rejoice, because I see so much better that God provides. I notice that in this Spirit-filled moment of joy, Mary gets what God is all about. She realizes what God is like, and what he does for people. She comprehends that God remembers (mind you, this does not mean God recalls, like finding a lost memory, but this specific term “remember” connotes that God “keeps in the front of his mind”).

God helps the ignoble Mary’s of the world, and will pick them to play the big parts. [Probably the least likely to be important was an impoverished, young, teenaged girl, from a small hill billy mountain village in the Middle East, right?]

The Magnificat speaks to me personally today, because I feel blessed; and perhaps it will be meaningful for you today. 

I hope you share your thoughts with us today.
Thanks.

46“My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

It seems God has a weak spot for the underdogs of the world.

Evangelicals and Lack of Tradition

This year, the Christian calendar begins November 28th. It is the Season of Advent.

Advent House

Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and many mainline churches observe the Christian calendar. The topic for each Sunday is predictable. Scripture from the lectionary guides the themes, liturgy, sermon, art, and music of that particular time. Traditional? Yes. Useful? I do believe it is.

It provides congruence. Most Evangelical pastors are accustomed to, more or less, speaking about what’s been on their mind recently. This is carefully referred to as “what God has laid on their heart.” (And you’d be a fool to question the movement of the Spirit, right? Maybe a fool, or maybe a blasphemer…if you spoke your thoughts.)

In general, it’s not a terrible thing to follow the leading of the Spirit. (If that is truly what is happening. But, that’s another post entirely!) But does this unformatted contemporary formula help cinch together the Story of God, the Christian Story, and bring a cohesive message of the Gospel, in history and depth, in a palpably connected way? Or, is the shoot from the Holy hip often more of a “bang here and a bit there,” approach?


I’d like to hear your take on it?

I tend to think a healthy mix of several Christian traditions could be very spiritually useful in contemporary times. We are already malnourished on a sound bite way of life as is it.

Chaplain Mike, a one-time Southern Baptist preacher, who blogs at imonk does the whole topic much more justice than I can. I strongly encourage you to link to his specific post with the link at the bottom, if you’d like.

Witness this poignant quote found there:
(It really hit home with regards to my Christian church experiences.)

“Part of the problem is that evangelicals really don’t have traditions,” said Carter. “Instead, we have these fads that are built on the strengths and talents of individual leaders. … But a real tradition can be handed on to anyone, from generation to generation. It’s hard to hand these evangelical fads down like that, so it seems like we’re always starting over. It’s hard to build something that really lasts.”– Joe Carter as quoted by Terry Mattingly

My main resource for this post and a really helpful article is here at imonk. It is most helpful for Evangelicals, and I challenge you to consider a deeper appreciation for the Christian calendar year, starting this Sunday, November 28th.

Thank you for reading.

12 Fruit of the Spirit that never made the cut

Tom Cruise drawn in Photoshop

Image by Roberto Rizzato ►pix jockey◄ Facebook resident via Flickr (aka "Mr. Intensity")

WARNING: This post is for humor purposes. If you take it seriously, and get offended, it’s your own fault. Go away today if you don’t like funny things once in a while.

Fruit of the Spirit that didn’t make the cut:

High Metabolism: (or Calorie Burn-Ableness) This is one of those qualities of which people can be envious. Yet, the ability to eat a whole pizza, or a half a dozen Krispy Kremes, and not pay for it according to the bathroom scale does not cut it as a Fruit of the Spirit.

Wrapping. (Giftedness) Because such things given by God are called “gifts” of the Spirit, some have connected this to the qualities associated with wrapping presents, for holidays, birthdays, and such. Cute paper, ribbon, and creative and crafty items to give items away are a way to show off talents, but let’s not get carried away. I’m glad I could clear this up.

Drinking your Coffee black. (Beverage purity) If you think the potent and bitter taste of coffee without creamer has something to do your spiritual gifting, I need to break it to you. The answer is “No”. And it doesn’t mean you love coffee more than other people either. (another related tip: Keep a toothbrush handy.)

Fanciness. Sure, good style is laudable. Though fruit-like, it doesn’t make the cut, and it’s not a gift of the Spirit to be fancy, per se. It can also be incredibly distracting.

Holding your breath. (Lung capacity blessed/breath-worthy) Long sought as a way to intimidate cream puff parents, and impress pool-goers, holding one’s breath for quite a while is a skill mastered with practice and techniques. I’m surprised you would even bring this one up.

Balance. One’s ability to walk with agility on a 2 x 4 does not appear to directly connected to the Holy Ghost. On this one, though, I could be persuaded with the proper argument “for”. Have at it.

Bluffing. (or in fruit language, bluff-tastic-ness) I think this term -bluffing) is used in games, meaning innocent falsehood to get ahead in a harmless game. (And, yes; In the gun-toting old wild west, this wasn’t always the case.. Obviously.) Good bluffers are admired in poker, and loathed in politics and golf. Either way, I’ve decided that, though it’s a close call, it’s not quite fruit-worthy for my purposes here. HOWEVER, perhaps you can weigh in on this story about when Jesus (perhaps) pretended to walk past the boat on the stormy lake of Galilee, shortly before Peter asked to walk on water to meet him. Was it bluffing? TEll me what you think.  (You can read John’s text here John 6:16-22)

Staring. (or stare-Able) Do you win a lot of staring contests and think God has something to do with it? Well, then you’re fooling yourself. The ability to stare well, just means you aren’t too bothered as your eyes get dry. This sensation drives many other people crazy, as a creepy itchy feeling makes it unbearable to not flip out and blink like mad. Plenty of people connect patience with this, but that’s total bologna.

Intensity. Closely related to the above (Staring) in terms of endurance, this quality is perfectly exemplified in Tom Cruise‘s acting performances, much to my chagrin. It’s a poor substitute for Christian maturity, and would no doubt  displease the powerful Xenu, at least in the long run. Plus, it’s so, gimmicky sometimes, ya know? MAYBE YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH-YA KNOW?

Jumping rope like an accomplished boxer. (Jumpishness) Yes, this one looks a bit superhuman sometimes, but it’s only the branch of a deeper issue. Basically, these people don’t care how sweaty they get, and also enjoy a repetitive sound. If you can do it, good for you, but I can’t work my way into respecting you for it, in a spiritual sense. Plus, the exegesis here is spotty at best. I repeat: At. Best.

Pen Tricks. (dexterity) Like Fanciness, this near-Fruit can be positive and appealing, but once you’ve spent hours learning them, to show off in Sunday School class, as you pretend to be thinking about the topic at hand, don’t think it makes you a better Christian. It could just mean you’re obnoxious and have way too much time on your hands. Your über tricky hands.

Swimming. (buoyancy) Walking on water, yes, of course. Obviously that’s totally backed up by Scripture as a spiritual gift, with some Fruit of buoyancy needed (Okay, yes. I’m still researching the buoyancy Fruit or near-Fruit). But, listen to me. Swimming is something even a dolphin can do. Nothing supernatural there…once you throw off the terrifying thought of drowning.

Fruity stuff from Paul Cheng. (The bananas look like horns because...?)

 

 

Please Note: Some of items here (nearly Fruit) that didn’t make the cut, are helpful to us in a general sense. Some may even coincide with certain biblical spiritual fruit. In themselves, however, they have here been identified as not really what Paul (the writer of Galatians, not the fruity artist above) was talking about.

Galatians 5:22-26But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

This is a formula I made up (after rigorous hours of study). When used it will take you far…like a camel in heat:

{GIFTS – FRUIT = corruption }

Bear in mind, this refers to the things of God, not Gift Baskets.

SO, my sweet readers,

What other things could make this list of Spiritual Fruit that couldn’t or didn’t make the cut? Share your suggestions. One lucky winner will get a humorous fruit of the Spirit t-shirt.

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...

Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

GASP.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

WEDNESDAY’s 5 Min. retreat (3 of 5)

Did you vote?

The 2010 Election  is barraging us at every turn. Is a break (or mini-retreat) possible? You Bet ‘Cha! whoops….um. I mean yes, yes it really is.

Every politician tries to offer his or her constituents HOPE.

It’s a word that gets tossed around A LOT. Just like the word CHANGE. It makes sense to offer this, when most of the time candidates can only hope there will be hope, and hope there will be change (for the better).

Today, let’s think about hope and change–which are quite linked–in ways that it applies to us personally, and how it relates to the source of all Hope–our Creator and Savior.

Thank you for coming here on day 3 of the 5 Minute Retreat in this 5 day series. Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series.

Before we start, please
prepare yourself to take a short rejuvenating break, by eliminating potential distractions. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)

– Quickly (not giving it too much thought) jot down a few things that give you hope. (If you don’t have paper, think of 3 things, and keep them in the front of your mind.)

Read over these things a few times, and attach onto one item you’ve thought of, and roll it over in your mind.

-What has given you hope? What has produced change?

Lift these things to God, and ask God to fill your heart with hope, from his Everlasting well of Hope. God is Hope, epitomized. True hope comes from the Almighty God.

Today, as you go through your day, try to say/pray the words, “God give me Hope that comes from you.”

I would love to hear from you.

Do you enjoy these mini retreats? If so, there are 2 more coming. If not, have HOPE, and hang in there until Saturday.

Thanks for visiting.

-Lisa