Christianity

It strikes me as I sit at the end of a (nearly) four mile hike that my "diet walk" bears certain similarities to my spiritual walk.

This may ring a familiar tune: "Dear God, if you just grant {this,} then I will...{that.}

If I can {this} then I can {that}

If I do the Rotary Furnace loop in 1:30 or less, than I can sit and enjoy a smoke at the end. (by the way, I did the loop in 1:25, and yes, I'm enjoying a Partagas 1845.)

If mapmywalk says I burned 400 calories, I can eat 2 Cadbury Cream Eggs.

Some days it seems like a reward system, other days it seems like a bargaining system.

Maybe the reward system works: As long as the "treat" doesn't impinge on my "bad foods" list (gluten, potatoes) maybe the system works. As a bargaining system, I think...not so much.

Does the mindset make a difference?

If I use {that} as a reward because I did so awesome on my workout (tomorrow's plan is an 8 mile, Quicksilver end-to-end hike) then my goal is still the workout, with the treat at the end.

Turn that around...I want {that} so much, that I'm willing to do the difficult workout in order to get it. The goal is the treat, with the workout as the obstacle. The {that} is controlling my behavior.

"All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “ All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything" (1 Cor. 6:12 ESV)

I don't know how to tell the difference. I might need to work on that.

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In a book that I'm reading (I'm not at a computer so I'll add the link later) the author talks about public prayer.

Says that if you're in any position of authority, no matter how small, you should brush up on public prayer.

I don't like praying publicly, but have on occasion prayed in a public setting. It's hard for me, and it was hard for my dad, so maybe I learned it from him.

I'm not sure how you pray, and pray *to* God, while also praying for the edification of those around you. I mean, I sort of get it, but where's the overlap - how do you tell when you take your attention off God, and start worrying "more" about the people you're with?

I don't think that prayers should be a sermon with your eyes closed. They shouldn't be used to guilt people into anything.

But...Jesus prayed for the benefit of His listeners. When He raised Lazarus, He prayed,

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “ Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me

If we use the Lord's Prayer as a pattern for prayer, shouldn't we use this as a pattern for public prayer as well?

So yeah...authority or not, we should brush up on our public prayer.

Or a variation on the theme.

I've talked to a few people about the way language and thought patterns creep into the church little by little.

We may not be Pentecostal, but we accept the language of prophecy with not even a blink.

There is a very widespread belief that if God doesn't talk to YOU, there's something wrong with you. If you haven't had a private, clear, and personal word from God, you may not even be a Christian.

Going beyond what Scripture says the Holy Spirit will do for us, we now have the "word" from Pentecostals that private prophesy is a "sure thing" and something we must have for a good walk with Christ.

Bringing me to what I saw on a sign in front of a church I pass every day on the way to work:

"Be quiet enough to hear God whisper."

Assuming that

1) God cannot make Himself heard if we don't have the correct amount of quiet (ask Paul about his trip to Damascus)
2) The correct amount of quiet will result in hearing God whisper
3) Hearing God whisper is a necessity.

I think this is just another example of Pentecostal creep.

The Trinity; the doctrine of the Trinity is a core Christian belief.  Easy to say, impossible to unpack.  So I'm not doing "research" on for this post, other than what I've done, probably resulting in a "stream of consciousness" sort of thing.

1.  The Trinity is a mystery

Christians worship the Triune God; meaning that one God exists in three "persons.".  Or three distinct persons are one God.

T.D.Jakes (who has been accused of "modalism," an old heresy) dislikes the word "person."  You cannot see God as a "committee of three" - that implies that each member of the Trinity can be independent of the others, as if they are not truly One, but three that get together to be "God."

Yet "person" seems to be the best word that we have.

Each member of the Trinity is distinct, but none of them are EVER out of communion or unity with the others.  Our God is ONE, yet three.  Our God is THREE, yet one.

It is a mystery, and one that we may not fully understand even in heaven.  Maybe the closest I can come (and still a really bad example) is the the three blind women oracles.  They are three, but they function as one.  They share an eye, and what one sees, they all see.  They speak as one.  They see as one, and they cannot function except as one.  Yet the are three.

2.  There is equality in the Trinity

No one in the Trinity is more equal than the others.  The Trinity IS God.  As one, God is complete, no person of the Trinity is more important, no person of the Trinity is more powerful, no person of the Trinity is more holy, no person of the Trinity is more eternal.

For a deeper look, read "The Forgotten Trinity" by James R. White

3. There is a hierarchy within the Trinity

This is hotly debated.

Many Complemetarians use the example of this hierarchy to demonstrate how absolute equals still live out a hierarchy.  We look at the Trinity as an example of what life can look like.  We believe the Trinity is a perfect example of persons who are equal, yet different in authority.

Many Egalitarians reject any notion of hierarchy because they believe it is impossible to ontologically live in submission (or in authority over) to an equal.  In order to have equality, you must also have equality of authority.

But there is, in Scripture, as clear "sentness."

The Father sends the Son, who does not come in His own authority, but on the authority of the Father.  "I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.  What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me..." (John 12:49,50).

The Son petitions the Father to send the Holy Spirit: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever," (John 14:16)
Jesus testifies to the hierarchy: "Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him." (John 13:16)

For more on the different understandings, read "The New Evangelical Subordinationism? : Perspectives on the Equality of God the Father and God the Son"

 4. The Trinity is in "Oneness" - true unity.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”

The "one" means a plurality that IS ONE.

5. There is purpose in the Trinity

God's two greatest gifts are creation and salvation - and all three members of the Trinity are involved in both these gifts.

in Creation:

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him Col. 1:16

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2

In salvation, all are present in Ephesians 1.
Conclusion:

The Trinity is indeed a mystery.  I cannot explain, but I know that God is not a modalist.  The modern day heresy is known as "Oneness" theology.

The Trinity is a Biblical reality, as impossible to comprehend as eternity - all we can do is fall down and worship Him in His fullness, thanking Him for all good gifts.

For deeper reading: "The Forgotten Trinity" by James White

More than 100 things...

Cessationism (or not) --> false prophets --> new age --> Sarah Calling --> or not --> end times?

Did you get all that?

In the past I've  read about cessationism vs. continuationism and have come down on...I'm still not sure.  What I am sure of is that the Canon is closed.  I'm sure that Jesus isn't writing any more Scriptures.  I'm sure that modern day prophets are doing it wrong.

That would make them "false prophets" and Jesus said there would be lots of them in the end times.  Not only that, but He said that many would come in His name - even claiming to be Him.

A while ago, I bought "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  The only reason I'd suggest that anybody own it is so that they know what it says, and I'd only suggest reading it if you first read "Another Jesus Calling" by Warren Smith.

The "Jesus" in "Jesus Calling" is so...nice.  It's easy to get sucked into the passivity and neediness of that Jesus.  But the Jesus of Scripture talked about sin, and repentance, and -yes- false teachers.

Sarah Young said that she read Scripture, but that she longed for "more"(1.) - and more is what she got.  She longed for more, but a few days into her book, I longed for "deep."  Her Jesus is so unlike the Jesus of Scripture, that Phil and I started calling the book "Sarah Calling" because the voice in her head is...the voice in her head.

But then I read "Another Jesus Calling" and I'm not sure what to call Young's book.  Warren Smith came out of the New Age movement and he knows what he's talking about.  When he compares "Jesus Calling" to "God Calling" - he knows what he's talking about.  And when he compares both of these to "The Revelation" (Barbara Marx Hubbard) - he knows what he's talking about.

Smith describes a scene from "The Beautiful Side of Evil" (Johanna Michaelsen) and how Michaelsen was given her "spirit guide" - Jesus.  She challenged her jesus at L'Abri, When challenged, this jesus disappeared.

Young also went to L'Abri.

Smith writes:

TWO young women traveled to L’Abri Christian communities run by Francis and Edith Schaeffer with two very different outcomes. Johanna Michaelsen’s visit to L’Abri resulted in the abandonment of her “Jesus” presence when she realized he wasn’t the true Jesus Christ. Yet Sarah Young’s visit to L’Abri resulted in the immediate acceptance of her “Jesus” presence, which she just “knew” was Jesus Christ(2)

False teachers have always been with us.  But Young's "jesus" has inspired her to turn out 15 books - half the size of the New Testament.  In her study Bible, you can read the "jesus" of "Jesus Calling" right next to the "Jesus" of Scripture.

False teachers have always been with us.  But Young has seven titles in the top 50 Christian bestsellers list, and she is consistently in the top 10.  The "Jesus Calling" facebook page has nearly 140,000 followers.

The first time I visited New City Church, I had finished my first look at "Jesus Calling" and wanted nothing more to do with it.  It was this great service, but at the end of it, a woman got up to give her testimony and went on about this great book that changed her outlook!  Yeah..."Jesus Calling."  I almost didn't go back, but Phil challenged me to ask myself if the pastor (or anybody) had known.

Jesus talked about the end times:

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. (Mark 13: 22)

How many people have fallen for the jesus of "Jesus Calling?"

How many believe that Jesus needs us more than we need Him?

How many people embrace New Age demonic terminology, beliefs, and practices, all in the name of the jesus of "Jesus Calling?"

There is much error in "jesus Calling" - Smith exposes it.  I want to pass it along.

 

  1. Jesus Calling; Young, Sarah; introduction
  2. Smith, Warren B. (2013-11-19). Another Jesus Calling (Kindle Locations 327-330). Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

 

I recently read through “Tough Topics” by Sam Storms, who wrote the book in order to answer some of the basic, but hard questions believers ask.

That is my aim in this book: to articulate good theology in order to put worried minds at rest. All of us are familiar with the sorts of problems and questions and doctrinal conundrums that plague the human mind and agitate the human heart, questions like the one lingering in the thinking of Lucy: Will God ever flood the entire earth again?

In my experience these nearly forty years of Christian ministry, I’ve seen countless people worried and angry and fearful and just plain confused when it comes to some of the more perplexing issues that life poses and the Bible provokes,

The book flows easily, and addresses some of the topics that can torment a believer, like “what happens when my baby dies” and “will I enjoy heaven if my loved one goes to hell?”

The book promises to addresses these topics and more, offering to help remove doubt that Christianity could leave us in “limbo” about things that can weigh on our minds. Very shortly after I finished the book, a pastor friend came to me and asked, “what would you tell somebody who had a baby that died?” I answered “I have a book for you...” (he never gave it back...which is why I have a kindle version and -another- paper copy)

Believers struggle with these questions. When I was considering the “reformed” question, I had dinner with a seminary student. One of the first questions I asked was “what about babies who die?” That man did not have an answer that satisfied.

This book offers a primer on the questions we might not want to have asked...

I liked this book and will keep a couple of copies on hand to loan. I will, however, make a note to those I loan it to that Storms is a continuationist, and there are chapters on the “charismatic gifts” that make that clear. I may not agree with him on those chapters, but he does make his view clear in a consistent and lets his readers know how he came to those conclusions;  a good thing.

Bottom line is that this is a good book. I didn't rock my world, but it's a great reference tool, and primer for “tough topics.”

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It's interesting how my mind goes about "weight loss" and fitness.

If my goal is weight loss, it becomes about what my body owes me.  If I do the right things, eat the right things, my body owes me weight loss.

But there's a problem with that thinking (with me, anyway) when I also deal with hidden thyroid problems, PCOS, insulin resistance.  My body is not for me, it's against me in this goal.

There's a subtle change in my eating and exercise habits when my thoughts shift from what my body owes me (which leads to frustration = temptation => consumption) to what I owe God with my body.

When eating and exercising right becomes about worshiping Christ with the body that He purchased on the cross,  it becomes a positive act of worship, rather than an act of deprivation or hardship.

Next week I'm heading to California, where I'll have the opportunity to hike in one of my favorite places.  As I hike, for the first time in a while, it will be in my mind that taking care of  my health is my reasonable act of worship.

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And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” (Mark 5:9 ESV)
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I was reading N.T.Wright's Lenten devotional for the other day (read it on the right day 😉
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When the demon answered Jesus, "we are legion" - would the average Jewish listener of the day have simply heard "We are many?"
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Wright says no, and the more I thought about it, the more I put myself in the listener's sandals.  Consider:  the Roman army was feared for a reason.  At that time, a Roman legion numbered around 5,000 men.  Soldiers.  of.  Rome.
Religious tension - political tension - economic tension.  Polytheists mingled with monotheists...clashing beliefs.  A Jewish pe0ple longing for the Messiah to rescue them from their oppressors.  A foreign government (nothing new) using Jews to collect taxes.  There is a reason that "tax collector" had the same ring as any other scum of the earth.
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Imagine of Roman legion sweeping through your town, putting down any rebellion.  Pillaging, raping, burning, destroying.  Even if it had not happened to your peaceful village, you would have heard stories from other towns, areas...even countries.
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"we are legion..."
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Oppressors...destroyers...Romans...
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All this and more.
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Very short: the Tanakh is the Jewish Scripture; our Old Testament.

Expanded a bit: the Tanakh is divided into three parts:

1- The Law (the five Books of Moses)
2- The Prophets (divided further into the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets
3- the Writings (Poetry, Wisdom, short stories)

What I learned is that the deuterocanonical books (Apocrypha) are disputed among Christians, and were also disputed among Jews.

The Egyptian Jews accepted the books as canonical; Hebrew Jews did not.

I found that interesting.

More than 100 things...

This was today's reading from "Everyday Prayers" - bringing to mind one of today's political hot topics.

(GSSR - "government sactioned same-sex relationship)

When caught between your faith conviction, and what the government says you should honor/do/buy...what do you do?

We hear "love the sinner, hate the sin."  And when the baker loved the sinners, made friends with them, served them baked good on birthdays and other non-wedding events...opted out of baking for a gay wedding, she got sued.

She was hating the sin, while embracing the sinner.  That didn't work.

Christians will increasingly face this challenge, and will increasingly find ways to comply with the law, while remaining true to their convictions...or will buckle to the state, giving up on living out their faith through their businesses.

The same is true for Christians getting married.

When the state gives you permission to marry, but what they're permitting no longer resembles "marriage" - how do Christians respond?

Do they get a "gender neutral" marriage certificate?  Do they opt out of statism?

"Everyday Prayers:

Though your kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18: 36 NIV), your kingdom has broken into this world and one day will utterly transform this world. Because this is true, Jesus, I need you to free me from both extremes of naive passivity and fear-mongering aggression. Very practically, show me what “obeying God and not men” looks like when the claims of your kingdom clash with the values of this world. How do I submit to the authorities for your sake while primarily only bowing my knee and heart to you as my King? (page 96)

I don't know what this will look like.  Will the state allow people of faith to enter into marriage covenants, outside of the state's approval?

In Michigan, a pastor who officiates at a wedding that does not have the state's approval, commits a misdemeanor.  Do we see "civil disobedience" in view here?  Can we see going outside the state's system as "obeying God rather than man?"

it all remains to be seen.