Tag Archives: sanctification

What is a Living God? (part 2: 8 Qualities)

How easy it is to forget that there is (exists) a Living God. Maybe this is so because we are surrounded by dead ones. Since the things we need and “serve” are not consistently life-giving, I think we lump everything to together and get along with that sort of paradigm. A “less-than Living” take on life.

The originator, Creator God, is never-ending, and a not relegated to some notion of goodness, or idea we get to keep in the back of our minds.

Here are 8 attributes to this Living God:

1. A Living God embodies Love not Apathy (the opposite of love).

2. A Living God makes a worshiper like him/her (God transcends gender).

It should be noted that dead gods, in their way, do the same thing. Nevertheless, a Living God refines and purifies, and dead gods foster forms of decay/destruction, and of course selfishness–which cannot lead to life. (Examples: the (dead) god of career, of drugs, of overeating, of anger, of popularity, and so on.)

3. A Living God has a personality (is a being), and relates to others (has the true quality for connecting in relationship) as a primary undertaking and desire.

4. A Living God is interactive in human history, and perpetually involved in common life with regards to people, events, and circumstances.

5. A Living God is wise and forbearing.

6. A Living God is everywhere, unconquered, and vigorous (spirited).

7. A Living God may display displeasure or delight.

8. A Living God has no pride, (because pride is delusional and also leads to deadened life).

In light of this, what is your response to God?

I’m asking for you to take a minute, and comment on your response, one (or more) of these 8 mentioned traits, or bring up something I didn’t mentioned.

Thank you very much.

Like A Virgin Soap (No Shame)

OKAY-It’s possible something was lost in translation on this cosmetic.

Perhaps white or pure was translated as “virginity”. Maybe the English word “virginal” threw off the dictionary. You might have a better guess than me.

This so-called “skin-whitening” soap is supposed to make the skin inviting to touch, so it actually, um. maybe it could end virginity.

But I wonder if the idea of purity, cleansing, and ridding us of our shame is so wrapped up together, that longing for a kind of “virginity soap” isn’t all that big of a stretch.

On some level, doesn’t everyone want a second chance?

Doesn’t everyone want their sin to be “washed away”?

Do you have a memory you wish you didn’t have, or a past sin that plagues you?

Christianity has promised this same thing with “Jesus Soap” for quite a while now. But is it that simple? And, do we co-opt with the renewing power of the Holy Spirit enough to live in a “washed clean” kind of way?

The spiritual discipline of confession works a bit like “virginity soap”. It is an imperative to confess and turn away from sins. And we are told to confess to each other. It gives us a real life engagement with grace, via the willing and trusting ear of another.

Do you have a confessor to whom you can confess your shame? If not, why? Do you think it would help you?

Thanks for you thoughts on this.

Prayer: Benediction

photo/link by Rolf Potts. (St. Petersburg, Russia Midnight sunset near Nevskii Prospect)

(I’ll be a professorial substitute on Thursday, and I’m really looking forward to it. Below is the prayer from Dr. Laurie Mellinger’s lesson plan for that night. It’s the Benediction Prayer.)

I post it today for your personal reflection. Sometimes we don’t make the time to collect ourselves this way. Here’s a our chance today. Maybe it’s also something you’d like to share with someone else.

Let us receive Your words

and treasure up Your commandments within us;

Make our ears attentive to wisdom

and incline our hearts to understanding;

yes, may we call out for insight

and raise our voices for understanding.

Let us seek it like silver

and search for it as for hidden treasures,

that we may understand the fear of the Lord

and find the knowledge of God.

For You, Lord, give wisdom;

from Your mouth come knowledge and understanding.

(Share your comments and reflections)

Blooming Rose of Sharon, evangelism, and spiritual conversions

For mother’s day my family got me a Rose of Sharon plant.

Rose of Sharon blossom (from my yard)

My Rose of Sharon shrubbery

As you can see it’s nearly in full bloom. Although a lot was happening in the life of this new floral addition to my yard, it is the blooming that get us to notice it most, and think of it as really “coming to life.”

Working this week doing the Bible lessons for Vacation Bible School has gotten me to thinking a lot about ordo salutis (“the order of salvation”). This refers to the series of conceptual steps within the Christian doctrine of salvation. Evangelical tradition is particularly focused on “the decision” to follow Christ, and “accepting him into our heart.” While a choice is involved here that can change one’s life, we might be noticing the spiritual blossoming when we concern ourselves primarily with a person’s sudden conversion experience.

Today, my former theology professor, Ken Miller (of the Methodist tradition), posted quite an insightful piece on spirituality that we in ministry and soul care are wise to read:

excerpt: -by Ken Miller
Let me put this out there up front: I grew up in a revivalist tradition, in which a signal experience is what initiates one into the faith. Further, in that tradition it is more similar events which act as catalysts for further growth in the faith. Crisis experiences, usually building on emotions and culminating in a trip to the front of the church/campmeeting/crusade venue and subsequent prayer, are what create significant growth in the Christian life. These experiences likely have to do with the confession of a known sinful act or habit or the sudden realization that one’s current pattern is displeasing to God.

I am not about to dismiss the potential value of theses events/experiences. But I will question their sufficiency. Too often we watch the same individuals having emotional releases, only to return to the same patterns of life. It’s a problem at least as old as the revivalist tradition itself, as John Wesley himself struggled with it and created the Methodist system as a corrective. One could conclude, as Wesley did, that those who reverted to the old ways never really tasted the saving power of Christ; others, wrongly in my reading of scripture and Christian doctrine, claim that the experience itself authenticates one as “saved” for eternity. Apparently, change is optional. Tell it to Paul.

That brings me to the subject of the day, and of the brief passage below. Transformation happens not by an emotional experience, but by the renewing of the mind. We may well experience—and many may well need—the jolt of the emotions provided by the revivalist approach. But change will only come when the mind is changed. We need to think differently about things if we are going to act differently. We need to unlearn some things, some of which were certainties before the word of God pointed in a different direction. We will have to take a look at the ideas we’ve adopted from the culture, along with the ones we didn’t even think were open to serious challenge.

But there’s more to it than turning the faith into an intellectual battle with “worldly” ideas. As Paul’s argument continues, we find that we are called into action immediately, requiring a different attitude and set of habits toward the people we live with and encounter on a regular basis. Is it the case that these ways of dealing with people constitute the renewing of the mind as much as the bigger worldview questions?

Miller’s full article here:

It’s interesting to note that if we think one must be “saved” from spiritual separation from God–by mainly the act of a conscious choice–the mentally handicapped and others are excluded. It also erodes some of the proper understanding of God’s sovereign work (as if Salvation is “up to us”).

If however we see both the hunger to seek the truth about life and God, and also we perceive the work and indwelling of God, (seen best in the fruit of the Holy Spirit), we may be noticing the blossoming of God’s continuous work (of which is largely a mystery).

It seems we must be careful to understand the entire process, including the disciple-making (training) and sanctification process, post-decision…if “the decision” is even the crux of it all in the first place. For us it may seem pivotal, but later a deeper experience could follow, yet for God, it’s one long Story that includes his work, and us (individually) and the rest of humanity.

In truth we have a limited and frail concept of what God, by his grace, gives us.

What are your ideas regarding salvation or conversion?

Some flowery information:

(found here)
Chavatzelet HaSharon (Hebrew חבצלת השרון) is an onion-like flower bulb. (Hebrew חבצלת ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ) is a flower of uncertain identity translated as the Rose of Sharon in English language translations of the Bible. Etymologists have inconclusively linked the Biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning ‘bulb’, and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either ‘pungent’ or ‘splendid’ (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). The name Rose of Sharon first appears in English in 1611 in the King James Version of the Bible. According to an annotation of Song of Solomon 2:1 by the translation committee of the New Revised Standard Version, “Rose of Sharon” is a mistranslation of a more general Hebrew word for “crocus”.
The most accepted interpretation for the Biblical reference is the Pancratium maritimum, which blooms in the late summer just above the high-tide mark. The Hebrew name for this flower is חבצלת or חבצלת החוף (coastal ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ). It is commonly assumed by most people in Israel that, the Sharon plainbeing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Biblical passage refers to this flower.

Likely "rose of Sharon" Mediterranean Sea flower (lily)

(reader response) Doing what you don’t want to do

WomenPrayingCouch

 

Here is a response from Veronica:

I’m glad to come to your site, and start thinking more seriously about my own spiritual growth. I want to keep it in the front of my mind. Well, I guess you could say, I want to “make the main thing the Main Thing.” Wasn’t that a catch phrase once?  I get together with a friend to pray, and keep accountable spiritually. Last week we started talking about having trouble with doing the things we are trying so hard not to do. Really, it’s like how Paul says it in Romans-

Romans 7:19 “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”

For me, it’s pride. As I start to work on it, I basically get puffed up as I feel I have a handle on it. I catch myself in false modesty with others too. So, really it’s a step backwards. I’m doing what I don’t want to do.

For my friend, she says she struggles with keeping on a good face for show, or pretense. She feels like a fake. She says the more she tries to not put up a front, the more she feels that is exactly what is happening. She is even more conscious of herself, and in the end is more phony. Maybe it has to do with self absorption. Do other people feel this way? Do you have any suggestions? 

Thanks for allowing me to post this Veronica. I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I think what you reveal is quite a common situation. And perhaps you’re right. We might be worse off as we focus on our problem (as you say, self-absorption) rather than pour our adoration into God, follow him, and really turn to him and trust him to make us more like him. Doing what we don’t want to do proves our desperate need for total dependency on God. The more we struggle to do better, the more we’ll find we come up short. I believe relinquishing our control of our own sanctification process (the development of our godly character) is something that is necessary to have freedom, enjoy God’s love, and progress toward the likeness of our Redeemer. It isn’t something we can ever manage, or do well our selves. For me, it is a continual surrendering/yielding process where I humble my will, and heart to God, and give God the timetable for my character restoration, as I recommit to participate fully in his process. (It has to be continual, because I don’t do well for very long!)

Anybody else have suggestions for Veronica?