Inclinations of the Heart

Perhaps a better title for this article would be “doing battle with inclinations of the heart”.

I do want to be clear here that I’m not talking about love or passion but I am talking about those knee-jerk reactions we all have to various situations and people. These flow out of the various experiences we each have had and include what we dislike or even hate. Getting burned or mistreated by someone in specific ways can often cause us to become untrusting of others.

These things are natural for us to do as we each naturally default to wanting to defend ourselves. Nevertheless, allowing the inclinations that have been built up in us to rule us can also lead to us doing harm or “injury” to others. I’m speaking primarily to the social repercussions but such things can easily even cross over into the physical.

As Christians, we are called to be like Christ (Philippians 2:1-11). This includes then that we are to reach out to the lost even when our very faculties war against us in doing so. A practical approach to quieting such warring, such battles with potentially harmful inclinations is to deliberately face them. Don’t flee. If you notice you are having difficulty working with say poor people because of a tendency or inclination to want to stay away from what you may think or feel is dirty, then that is exactly what you need to do.

This isn’t that different from facing a fear. You face your fears in order to keep them from dominating you. The same goes for inclinations that keep you from being genuine to others or serving others. You have to deliberately put yourself in situations that you will have to confront yourself, confront your negative knee-jerk reactions and in time the difficult battles will become easier and easier to handle to the point you are able to deal with them in stride without hesitation.

Christ was tested in every way that we have been (). He had to deal with the very inclinations we do. This includes fears and the temptation to treat others in negative ways. But Jesus Christ’s mind was filled with glorifying God in His actions. He wanted to glorify God above all else, even unto death! So what did he do? He was very versed in the Scriptures to the point that He was a rabbi (this was through much study, hint hint!), and he sought out the lost in order to bring them to God including those that much of Jewish society at the time would actively look down on, mistreat, &/or treat as filth.

Don’t let your knee-jerk reactions define or dictate you.

If you have a natural urge to want to turn away from the poor and the dirty, deliberately make it your practice to reach out to them in one way or another.

Need some ideas? Volunteer at homeless shelters. Take it upon yourself to hand out water to beggars. Continually educate yourself in the Scriptures so that you can deal appropriately with difficult or quarrelsome people. Always fight to remember that every person is an image bearer of God just as much as you, whether or not that person is truly reflecting Him or not. Treat others as you want to be treated. And, above all else, treat everyone in Godly love.

You must face the darkness within you. Always remember that you are not alone. If you have Christ, then you have His Holy Spirit within you. You are not alone and He will provide the strength. Always remember to pray and ask for His guidance and strength.

 

Tis the Season…

It is the season of much frivolity and busyness with all the celebrations and such on top of our typical work to do.

Please stop to remember the reason for this season, to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the greatest gift we could ever receive. 

More important than any new toy.

More important than any food item.

More important than anything in this world.

The greatest gift was given to us by God in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Emotions run high at this time year and they run the full spectrum of human emotion. Please remember those who will be alone at this time of year in your prayers and actions. Please remember to be cordial to everyone you meet. Even the smallest gestures of kindness can lift someone up.

And most of all, Merry Christmas to you!


A Woman’s Conduct – 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Part 1)

There are many things misunderstand by the world when they glance at the Scriptures. 1 Timothy 2:9-15 is no different. Even followers of Christ have been known to misinterpret such a passage. This face emphasizes all the more the need for careful study of any text – especially every inch of the Bible!

In verse 9-15 we see a call for women to not make themselves a distraction in the church. To be clear, we are talking about within church gatherings and functions – especially worship times.

“I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,” (v. 9)

When we look into the original Greek it was written and the context, we see a few things:

  1. This is a command. Not a suggestion or opinion. The command goes to each individual woman and not some sort of external “fashion police”.
  2. “adorn” comes from the Greek word kosmeo. It is the same word cosmetics comes from. It encompasses not only clothing but the entire person – the whole look as well as demeanor.
  3. “modestly and discreetly”. Modest specifically has sexual overtones. The idea is to avoid dressing in seductive or suggestive ways in the worship of God. This includes how she carries herself. “discreet” is aimed at being self-controlled such that she isn’t flaunting her sexuality.
  4. The overall idea here is not to institute a bunch of external rules but that a woman in public worship would cultivate a heart that exemplifies a personal intent to not draw others away from the true point of being at the public worship – to glorify God in worship.
  5. The remaining points about hair and jewelry has a cultural element. We must not forget that the original Greek letter was written to a particular audience. In those times, elaborately braided hair was a way to show off to people that a woman could afford what was commonly considered an extravagant luxury. Even in our own culture today, there would be counterparts to such a practice as you think about it. The same goes for the costly garments and jewelry. It was common then to dress up in such things when you wanted to flaunt your wealth in those times – not something that is beneficial in a worship time. Committing to such elaborate actions would be a clear sign of vanity.
  6. The passage also speaks to the practices of prostitutes who would also deliberately dress and decorate themselves in ways to draw attention to themselves. Not a manner one should emulate when the point is to gather to worship God.

Following on the heels is verse 10:

but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

Intent of the heart flows out into one’s actions. A woman following after God will make clear such intent in her actions resulting in good works that ultimately point back to the God that has influenced their heart to act so.

No where is this passage saying women cannot wear nice things to church, have nice hair, or wear jewelry. The core, the chief point is the intent of the heart and the actions that flow out of this. This will naturally include a cultural sensitivity to the norms the people of the gathering are most accustomed in the surrounding culture to gauge what would be excessive. In my mind, what would be considered typically great to look like at prom wouldn’t be a good idea for church worship (as an example).

On the points of culture, no where do I intend to suggest that culture should trump Scripture. In what has been said so far, the point was to bring attention and understanding to the context of the audience Paul was writing to in 1 Timothy. This context helps us to understand the reason for why the particular words were stated in this letter as they were. It would be no different today. We see politicians deliberately ripping what opponents have said out of the original context in order to twist the original meaning to their own ends. Considering the context of any particular passage in Scripture helps us to ensure we avoid twisting the original meaning of the text as it was written and reading the Greek helps all the more with this.


Continue onto Part 2.


A Woman’s Conduct – 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Part 1)

A Hiatus & Updates

I’m taking a “hiatus” away from the many things that have been monopolizing my time and from those things taking away my focus.

I’m narrowing my focus to the following:

  • Web Design
  • School work for seminary
  • Blogging

This new focus scheme means more of my time will be narrowed in which includes this blog. This will include additional posts – as has occurred this week – on other items outside the series that posts on Sundays.

I also mentioned before that everything will be funneling through this site now which includes a new page under About called News & Updates. This will be the one-stop place to see previous posts from the early days of the blog on such a topic to more recent entries that will be directly written on the page. It will follow a journal format with the most recent entry listed at the top.

That’s all for now!

God bless!

Torn & Seduction

A pastor friend of my father’s once stated upon his impending return to his own country in part of Africa that he actually couldn’t wait to get back. Why?

While it isn’t just an American problem, the seduction of idols is rampant in the United States today. Materialism, in particular, has created a wealth of items that people daily prostrate themselves before. The seduction is made all the more complete by the fact that most cannot even see that they’ve been seduced by the things around them.

While my Dad’s friend had to face persecutions in his country, he would rather take on that than the seduction of the idols that are so rampant today in the West.

Yes, many of these these things we tie ourselves to are fine in and of themselves. In fact, many such items bring much joy to our lives. As always, the failure is in us. We are all too easily seduced by the ease, the entertainment, and the pleasure to the point that we look to what is around us as our reason for living.

I work to pay for my games.

I live to play basketball.

If I didn’t have (insert item), I don’t know what I’d do with myself.

I myself am not immune to such error. Seduction is embedded into our culture to the point it impacts our very thinking. I have found myself even saying, “well there’s nothing really wrong with watching this or playing that” and that thought or the item referenced wasn’t wrong for me to think or say, but there’s a pattern.

There’s a pattern here in which I know I should be spending my time more wisely on eternal things. That I should be spending my time on other people. That I should be spending my time doing what I already know I should be doing before God – instead I return to what has seduced me away. “Like the dog to his vomit.”

To be clear, seduction isn’t about sex. It is anything that turns your attention away. It is enticing. It is tempting. So many today who would call themselves Christian do not even spend regular time seeking out God, the one they claim to be devoted to with the title Christian. Why? Because they’ve been lead away. They’ve been seduced and a seduction allowed to complete ultimately brings destruction though it may seem pleasant and even fulfilling in the interim.

What are you seduced by? Seriously consider it.

I may regularly write this blog but I must struggle against this same seductive element of my culture just as you should if you mean to be a Christian. Seriously consider and routinely re-evaluate how you spend your time.

Set priorities with God at the top and stick to them!

I am praying for you. Please pray for me too!


 

Father’s Day and more

It is now after 5:30pm where I’m at in the US.

Today is Father’s Day around here and I wanted to say a

Happy Father’s Day!

to all you father’s out there! Being a father is an awesome job and one that is sorely lacking in multiple countries today (some are better off than others).

There won’t be a definition post today, just this one, but I wanted to take the time to thank especially father’s but also anyone who fulfills a parenting role. You all do so much for the next generation and it is what you do that sets the stage for the next chapter in the societies of our world.

Always remember to be patient and bearing and above all -> direct the family to look to God for their guidance!


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Baptism

What exactly is baptism?

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. Ecclesiasticala ceremonial immersion in water, or application of water, as an initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian church.
  2. any similar ceremony or action of initiation, dedication, etc.
  3. a trying or purifying experience or initiation.

Etymonline.com

“initiatory sacrament of the Christian faith, consisting in immersion in or application of water by an authorized administrator,” c. 1300, bapteme, from Old French batesme, bapteme “baptism” (11c., Modern French baptême), from Latin baptismus, from Greek baptismos, noun of action from baptizein (see baptize). The -s- was restored in late 14c.

The signification, qualifications, and methods of administration have been much debated. Figurative sense “any ceremonial ablution as a sign of purification, dedication, etc.” is from late 14c. Old English used fulluht in this sense (John the Baptist was Iohannes se Fulluhtere).

Phrase baptism of fire “a soldier’s first experience of battle” (1857) translates French baptême de feu; the phrase originally was ecclesiastical Greek baptisma pyros and meant “the grace of the Holy Spirit as imparted through baptism;” later it was used of martyrdom, especially by burning.


Discussion/Explanation

As you can see, the term has had some variant use. Even so, the focus here is on what you see in definition #1 from dictionary.com.

Baptism, while it has initiate qualities, more specifically display death to one’s old self and rising anew as a believer in Jesus Christ. Practices surrounding this sacrament have varied throughout church history.

Of the various baptism varitions, each can be easily placed into one of two categories of baptism:

  1. Credobaptism
  2. Paedobaptism

Credotbaptism is the baptism of professing believers. It involves the public profession of faith from the believer accompanied with entire-body immersion in water. [cred- (latin) refers to a creed or profession; often called “believer’s baptism”]

  • The Baptists (hence the name) are some of the most well-known connected to this practice.
  • The water immersion could take place in a river, lake, pool, etc. Some Christian traditions will only baptize in running water (usually a river).

Paedobaptism is the baptism done upon infants or young children. This could include immersion, dunking, or sprinkling with water. [paed- comes from Greek pais which means “child”]

  • Entire households are considered to be part of the Covenant of Grace if the parents are believers. Therefore, it is the parent’s belief that is looked to instead of the Child’s belief.
  • Baptism is considered the sign of the covenant just as circumcision was the sign of covenant found in the Old Testament.
  • For variations on paedobaptism (current & historical), see the list within the Paedobaptist post.

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Bearing

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” NIV Luke 14:26-27

To “bear our cross” as His disciples means to value Christ above all else, even family. Many can find this idea shocking. Let me unpack it.

Christ is not saying that we should not care for our family or our own lives. However, he is saying that we should not put them in the same place as Him. Christ should be first, everything (and everyone) comes second. This may sound cold but it is only through closely following Christ that we can learn to be the people we ought to be. This includes loving rightly.

With the above in mind, if we do not follow Christ and His example first and foremost, everything else suffers, including our love and care for family and self. Matthew 6:33 points to what is also a popular Christian song: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

We cannot truly know and act out love without first following His example and the kingdom He represents. This goes for more than simply love. Even the desires of our hearts are met by first seeking after Christ. Through walking this path, we come to know the will of God for us and grow closer to Him and even like Him. As this happens, what we want in life may change as we come more in line with the mind of Christ. In this we truly “bear our cross”, to be more like Him in everything.


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Paedobaptist

This is a simple definition of terms article.

Paedobaptist = child baptizer, these are those who baptize their children in the Christian faith.

This is different from credobaptist which quite literally means “I believe baptist”. In other words, credobaptists are those Christians who believe only those who profess faith in Christ is to be baptized.


For further study:

The following are varying views, theologically (the study of God wise), among the paedobaptists. Feel free to look them up for your own studies.

Fides Aliena

Fides Infusa

Fides Infantium

Sacramental Symbolism

Pre-credobaptism

Presumptive Regeneration

Baptismal Regeneration

Paedofaith


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