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Showing posts with the label God

PURE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 23

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Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
(Matthew 5:8 | The Message) Pure in heart. Now that's a phrase we don't use a lot. We don't tend to talk about purity that often. We want our water to be pure. We want essential oils to be a certain degree of purity. We like pure gold and Purity Milk. But our hearts? Is it even possible to be "pure in heart?"

When I think of this phrase I think of innocence. Deep down we all know that we adults are anything but pure and innocent. In fact, if we meet someone in their late teens or early twenties who actually is "pure," we feel uncomfortable around them. We call them sheltered or socially awkward. There's something unsettling about an adult who is "too" innocent or pure hearted. They're just a little too childlike.


But isn't that the point? Jes…

FAITHFUL | 40 Days of Focus, Day 14

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“You shall not commit adultery."
(Exodus 20:14) We've all heard the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Actually, that's a myth. First, in no way does that mean your particular marriage only has a 50% chance of lasting a lifetime. It simply means that at one point in our nation's history (a couple decades ago now) for every 2 marriages in a given year, there was 1 divorce. The divorce rate was half that of the marriage rate.

This phenomenon occurred on the heels of court rulings that gave women more authority and control in filing for divorce proceedings. When women were given the chance, they were finally able to end a bad marriage. Imagine being stuck in an abusive marriage, or knowing your spouse is sleeping around, and not being able to do anything about it.
In reality, however, the divorce rate has been on the decline - dropping around 18% over the past decade? Why? Because newly married young people are staying together longer. True, fewer young adul…

LIFE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 13

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“You shall not murder."
(Exodus 20:13) I think it's safe to assume that the majority of us could read this command and think, "Done. Next!"

All in all, it seems pretty easy not to kill people. I personally don't know any murderers. The overall rate of murder and violent crimes is on the decline throughout most of the country. So...odds are that you will see command number six and think, "I'm good."

But you know it's not that easy. If it were that easy, Jesus wouldn't have had to bring it up in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."
(Matthew 5:21-22) I find it helpful to refr…

HONOR | 40 Days of Focus, Day 12

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“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."
(Exodus 20:12) The first four of the 10 Commandments deal with our relationship to God. We have no God but YHWH. We will not craft an image or idol depicting God in order to worship it. We will keep God's name holy. We will consecrate a time of Sabbath rest to disconnect from the world and reconnect with God and each other.

The fifth commandment turns the focus toward our relationship with others. What is the very first relationship we ever experience? Our parents. Like it or not, you do not get to choose your parents. They are with you for life. Our nuclear family is the primary metaphor for how we understand and relate to God. If we are to think of God as our Father or Mother, like biblical imagery often does, we better take those relationships seriously.

Side note: I find it fascinating that both Father and Mother are mentioned as worthy of honor. Most patriarchal soc…

NAME | 40 Days of Focus, Day 10

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“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
(Exodus 20:7) Your name is the loudest, most important word in your vocabulary. From before you were born, you were probably addressed by name. Your parents chose a name that was important and meaningful to them in some regard. When someone needs you, they call your name. You want people to know your name and call you by name. If they don't know your name, especially after some time knowing you, or they get your name wrong, it can leave you feeling insulted or demeaned.

It can be frustrating to hear your name too much, however. When someone says your name just to say it, that almost feels like an affront, an abuse of your identity.
"Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel..." WHAT?!

Or worse, when someone ascribes some actions or beliefs to you, associating your name with something you would never do or think or condone, it can leave you feel…

IDOLS | 40 Days of Focus, Day 9

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“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
(Exodus 20:4-6) The second of the 10 Commandments is a prohibition against crafting an image of a created thing in order to bow down to or worship it. Remember, the Hebrew people have just spent many generations in the land of Egypt which was overrun with idols and images. They were everywhere! If you go to Egypt even today and look at the ancient ruins, there are temples and idols and statues and carvings everywhere you look. They depict the pharaohs and the gods, retelling their collective stories in which they found their identity.

Some pharaohs ramped it up to ele…

ONE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 8

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And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me."
(Exodus 20:1-3)A quick summary of what happened after the creation accounts in Genesis: God made man and woman, placed them in a perfect garden, and gave them one rule - don't eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A serpent showed up and convinced them otherwise. They ate, they got expelled, their oldest son killed his younger brother - you know...typical family stuff. Things got worse until God sent a flood to wipe the slate clean and begin again with Noah and his family.

Then God called Abraham who would become the father of a great nation and through whom all the peoples of the world would be blessed. Miraculously Abraham and Sarah were able to have a baby boy in their old age. They named him Isaac. Isaac had twin sons named Jacob and Esau. Jacob tricked Esau out of his blessing and birthright - you know…

Biblical Enneagram Types: THREES

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Enneagram Type THREES are commonly known as "The Performer" or "The Achiever." Threes are driven by a need to succeed, or at least to appear successful. Threes aim to impress others with their skills, their knowledge, and their accomplishments. This is why the vice of Threes is deceit. Threes are expert "mask-wearers." Threes can become whoever they need to be in any given situation in order to fit in or to make others think highly of them. The danger for Threes is that they can become social chameleons to the point that they lose their own identity, deceiving others to the degree that they end up believing their own false persona. Self-deceit is the true vice of Threes.

But the gift of Threes is truthfulness and authenticity. Threes have really good BS-detectors. They can see through the charades of others because they are so accustomed to the games people play. Healthy Threes value honesty in their relationships and with themselves. They can give you a…

Biblical Enneagram Types: TWOS

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The Enneagram Type TWO is commonly known as the Helper. Twos have a need to be needed. Hospitality is their jam. They are always ready to play host or hostess at a moment's notice. There's always more room at the table with Twos.

Twos are, outwardly, very others-focused. Helpers tend to focus on the emotions and needs of the other people in their lives, often to the neglect of their own needs. Helpers are always wanting to make sure others are taken care of and can be hesitant to make their own needs and desires known. I emphasize the outwardness of their actions because Twos (like many numbers) live in a place of tension between their outward actions and their inward motivations.

Twos will help clear the table and wash the dishes at a friend's house after the dinner party without being asked. But Twos, especially unhealthy Twos, can be resentful that no one else offered to join in. Twos are in that weird space of appearing humble but acting out of a sense of pride. They …

Why the Enneagram? pt. 1

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I've shared some thoughts on the Enneagram recently. I know it's growing in popularity, especially among certain Christian circles. I think it's a helpful tool, and can give you a lot of insight into your own personality and that of others. But why even bother at all? Isn't it just like any other personality quiz or horoscopes? Why should anyone be interested in the Enneagram unless all your friends are doing it and you want to talk about your number at the next dinner party?

First of all, if that's all you want to get out of it, then seriously don't bother.

However, if you're ready to go on a serious journey of self-discovery and transformation, then the Enneagram (IMHO) is the best tool to help with that process.

You may be on the fence about it. So let me lay out what I believe the be the biblical foundation for this transformation process and why the Enneagram can help with it.

THREE BIG TRUTHS

Lets begin with three fundamental truths:

1. Every person is…

rCQ: Questions from an atheist

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/r/Christianity Questions
Recently, I came across this series of of questions asked by a Reddit user:
1) Do you agree with everything in the bible, sometimes it can be really messed up (like those quotes atheists like to bring up when they are debating with christians for example "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18" 2) Is the Bible like your law or advice for better life? 3) How often do you question your beliefs? 4) Are creationists the majority of christians? Here are my answers:

1) It is my belief that if it can't be said about Christ, it can't be said about God (seeing as they are one and the same). I read about the violence of the nations in the Hebrew Scriptures in light of the cross of Christ. Jesus' violent death at the hands of the state reveals the evil of state-sanctioned killing. So no, I don…

Jonah: Who Are You?

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The storm at sea is threatening to kill them all. The waves are swelling and breaking over the boat. The wind is driving the rain like gravel into their faces. They are frantically hurling the cargo boxes overboard in an effort to lighten the ship.

In the midst of this fear and panic, they find someone who really couldn't be bothered by it all - Jonah, a prophet on the run.

After quite a rude awakening, Jonah is brought to meet with the rest of the crew. They've got to find out who is responsible for this storm - not necessarily what person, but what god/deity  is behind this. The most obvious god to pinpoint would be Ba'al, the Storm God of the Ancient Near-East. But Ba'al isn't responding right now (shocker!), so they have to figure this out.

They cast lots (think Yahtzee, but with higher stakes). The lot falls to Jonah (shocker again!). Check out the interaction that follows:
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is respon…