Tag Archives: Spirituality

Psalms 84:5…

Psalms 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…

It’s clear and straight to the point.  Where should our strength be placed, and where should our strength flow from?  The LORD.

Everything in this world of ours will fail; except for Him.  Money, fame, power, governments, organizational churches, stock markets, other humans, our houses, cars, our minds, our bodies…everything.  Everything that is not Him or of Him will ultimately fail.

There is no small print with God; if your strength is in Him; you are blessed.  His blessing does not mean there will be no trials or tribulations here on this earth, in fact, if you are walking in faith, that is when you will be attacked the most by enemies.  His blessing doesn’t mean there is no sickness or pain in this life; what it means is that you will overcome it through Him, if not in this life, then in the one to come.

Our happiness…our contentment rests solely in Him, and comes from Him.  He is our LORD and Saviour, our King and High Priest.  We also know that whatever we’ve been through He has been through it too; and worse.

God is a God of love, but also of strength.  Ultimate and absolute strength rests with Him, and we are to rely on Him fully for our own strength.  Trust in Him; He will never fail.

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Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality…

There is an interesting debate which crops up from time to time amongst my fellow Christians.  It has to do with all three of the things mentioned in the title of this piece; Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality.

The Olympics in China have actually brought this back into my thoughts, as well as some discussion on a Christian message board.  The debate usually starts (just as one example of a larger phenomenon) something like this, “Is it ok for Christians to do yoga?”  There are many many different POVs on questions such as this…I have one too; it depends.

It’s going to be my standard answer right off the bat; what you do and don’t do is between you and God.  Remember, freedom in Christ, but freedom comes with a lot of responsibility.  But, to get more detailed, I would say it totally depends upon what form of yoga someone is talking about, who’s teaching it, is it aimed at spiritual matters, or merely physical?  Can you as an individual separate the spiritual aspect from the physical? etc…

One side of the issue is that yoga began as a Hindu practice, and some of the forms are indeed aimed at certain “gods.”  But the thing that gets me, is that for most Christians who are against yoga, they say that if the forms are changed slightly and accompanied by scripture (just as an example) then it is ok.  I understand this point of view, because that is exactly what the Roman church did with things like Christmas and Easter.

Take a pagan occurrence, practice, celebration, etc… and take it over, change it, Christianize it.  It is all a very interesting discussion, one which I’m not going to go into any any great depth here, I’m more just thinking out loud, so to speak.

How about meditation?  How about Tai Chi?  How about any martial arts?  I know you know what is coming from me at least; it depends.  What are you meditating on?  Are you chanting, or even repeating a vain “prayer?” Then no.  Are you simply calming you heart and meditating on God’s word…why not?  But, again, some people will be able to completely divorce the spiritual aspects of things like Tai Chi from the purely physical or mental.  The Holy Spirit is there to guide each one of us; some should stay completely away, and some can and will handle it.

If you are going to an instructor, or a dojo, or a studio; use your eyes and also talk to the instructor.  Is there a shrine?  Then stay away.  Do they force you to participate in the meditation exercises and you don’t really want to?  Don’t go back.  The Holy Spirit does guide us, and God gave us common sense…well, most of us, anyway.

It is a heart matter.  You know if you are offering up something to false “gods” or if you are simply trying to maintain your physical flexibility.  Now, of course, as in the rest of life, there are certain things that no Christian should “mess with” such as playing around with  an ouija board; there’s nothing to “separate” there folks, it isn’t a mere board (or bored) game…you are asking questions to whom exactly whilst “playing” with a ouija board?

So, I do think there are some “black and white” issues; should you light a “punk” and place it in front of a statue of Buddha because the rest of your family is Buddhist and wants you to because it is a part of “your culture.”  Probably not a good move.

Anything that the Bible explicitly touches upon and instructs us to avoid, we should.  If you are in doubt about something, stay away from it.  If you are feeling guilty about something, don’t do it again, or find an alternative.  Long discussion short; pray about it, read any pertinent scripture, and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture?  Romans 14 speaks to issues such as these I believe.  We should indeed always keep our “witness” in mind as we either participate or refuse to participate in certain activities.  We should not help to cause a brother/sister to stumble in the exercise of our freedom (look over 1 Corinthians chapter 8).  As always, don’t trust my ideas on all of this, I’m a fallible human; dig into it on your own and pray about it…I would be interested in any thoughts on this subject if anyone cares to comment.

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Filed under Of Interest, Philosophy, Sacred Secular, Theology

Angels (pt. 1)…

God’s messengers, harbingers, and sometimes mode of destruction.  One thing is for sure, humankind hasn’t done them any favors in the accurate representation department.

I do realize that the naked baby with wings depiction stemmed from an art form, a style…but really.  they see us, and hear us if they are around…what must they think?  In scripture, they often announce themselves with, “fear not,” having to physically pick people up off the ground as the humans hit the dirt in shock and/or misplaced worship, they slew thousands of men, and were responsible for warding certain people and places, and for bringing news and callings to mankind…one being elected to bring a bit of important information to Mary herself.

2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. (To those keeping score, that’s 185,000 humans killed in one evening.) 2 Chronicles 32:21 And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria… etc…

The Cherubim are first introduced as set guardians to the entrance of Eden.  Seraphim are introduced in Isaiah: Isaiah 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. We know there are archangels as well, and we see them sent to battle; for example, Michael watches over Israel (Daniel 12:1).

We humans have a tendency to either elevate them to “gods” or make them infants.  Often they are portrayed as actual females with long flowing hair and dresses, despite the fact that we don’t have a reference in scripture to actual female angels.  It is important for us as believers to search scripture for accurate understanding on many issues, Angels included.

They are creations of God, as we are…they are also split into factions.  Out of all the angels created, 1/3 fell with Satan, 2/3 stayed loyal to God.  When we die, we don’t become angels as is sometimes portrayed; we are human, they are not, though we become like them in the absence of marriage in Heaven.  It isn’t clear from scripture if we each have a guardian angel of our own, or if it is limited to the peoples of God in a general way.  We do know that they are watching, and there is a certain level of threat hinted at in this: Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

They can also be sent to ward us, and are joyful when we humans turn to God…when each one of us submitted to Him: Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. They are God’s to command, and if we desire their protection, as always, we should go before the Father in prayer to make the request, we are to pray to Him and Him alone.  All of this can seem a trifling matter since we are surrounded by these placid images of Angels…but they do exist and there is a spiritual realm around us that we cannot see.

2 Kings 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

There have been some representations of Angels in modern media that have shown angels as warriors; I enjoyed the first installment of the movie series: The Prophecy very much.  (Just so my readers know, they are very violent, and aren’t based off of scripture.)  They portray them as powerful players in a war amongst themselves…of course a lot of it isn’t accurate (including the smear on Gabriel’s good name, and adding to scripture), but it is a refreshing switch from naked babies floating on clouds.  In my next post about Angels I’ll take a look at Satan, and misconceptions about him as well.  I’ll mention Frank Peretti’s Angel novels more in depth then too.

Just keep in mind that Angels are powerful servants of God Most High, they are warriors and messengers answering to the Throne itself…not chubby little kids with harps.

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Biblical food metaphors…

Have you ever noticed how many times a food metaphor is used in the Bible?  Many times, it isn’t “cream puff” ideas being put forth either…Jesus Himself employed them about various subjects, including Himself.  Why do you think that is?

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst

Food and drink are two things every human can relate to.  We know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty; these are experiences we’ve all had.  When a food metaphor is used, it is then easy to connect to no matter who you are.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Food and drink are essential to life.  Food gives us energy, and strength.  It helps us to grow and even to think.  Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry that it is easier to zone out; usually we just concentrate on the rumblings in our stomachs.  When you are thirsty all you can think of is how thirsty you are, how great it would be for a nice cool glass of some kind of sparkling liquid to quench that thirst.

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

When Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, one of the outcomes of the isolation was that Jesus was hungry.  Here comes the devil to tempt Him with food.  Command the stones to become bread, the devil prodded.  How did Jesus answer?  Matthew 4:4…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The metaphor is doubled when we consider that Christ Himself is the very Word of God.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So, that is our answer to getting spiritual food; we turn to the word of God; scripture, and also to The Word of God; Christ.  In the same way that physical food nourishes our bodies, helps us to grow, to concentrate, to be strong…so too does turning to the word and The Word of God.  I’ve mentioned before that I find it interesting that those who do not have a relationship with God; those that are not permanently quenching that thirst, try to quench it through various means, be it with drugs, human relationships, fame, physical food, man-made philosophy, etc…  While in their current lives, these things may add something, we are more concerned with eternal life. It reminds me of the occurrence of pica; the ingestion of substances that don’t really have any nutritional value…such as clay from a river bank.  Often times it gives the impression that one is feeding oneself, it makes you feel full for a time, but in reality, the person is not getting anything from what they are eating.  In fact, their body may be in need of some essential nutrient, but they are not getting it from the substance that they consume.

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…. 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So, for me, it is clear why food metaphors are used; they are central to the human experience, food and drink are necessary for life, we gather energy and strength from them, and let’s face it, most of us like good food.  Food, in the best of times, also becomes a communal experience, something shared between people.  Food connects us and enhances our lives…so it should be with spiritual food as well.  Just as with physical food and drink, we need to keep part of our minds on our health.  It matters very much what we put into ourselves, what we feed on, what we draw our nutrition from.

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Filed under Communion, The Bible, Theology

Doctor Who, Atheism, and God, pt. 2…

In the first part, I focused on the themes of Doctor Who, and gave my thoughts on why I believe they, the themes (such as messiah-like heroes, the betterment of the human race, miraculous type powers, faith, etc…), not just the specific show, are so compelling to write, and to watch; I believe it shows that regardless of what we say, every human has an almost innate urge for these things, as well as for things like perfection.  The only true way to fulfill these types of urges is with the Truth that can only be found in Christ and an acknowledgment of God.  Now, in this installment, I use a line from Doctor Who as a jumping off point to talk about aspects of human nature I have observed.

In the episode “The Doctor Dances,” we come to the resolution of a storyline, and have a scene where the little boy Jamie is in his mother’s arms, and we still don’t know if they are going to make it, if they are going to survive and thrive…The Doctor (Nine), pleads, “Oh, come on. Give me a day like this. Give me this one.” Who is the Doctor pleading with?  Who is he asking that he assumes knows precisely what kind of day he wants without even having to utter it out loud?  Who has the power to give days or withhold them that would hearken to pleading? Was he pleading with sheer dumb luck?  The materialistic universe?  Who? The actual character, and beliefs of The Ninth Doctor aside, I was always struck by the irony; the writer of the episode, Moffat, is an atheist, the executive producer of the series, Russell T. Davies, is an atheist, and the actor playing Nine, Christopher Eccleston, is an atheist.

Again, I’m using this as an example…but I have observed precisely the same thing in the humans around me, many of which have no religious beliefs one way or another.  There is something going on and they are pleading from the depths of their being, “Come on, come on, please let them be OK,” “Just this once let me hit the jackpot,” “This has got to be it, come on, please…”  It’s a reaction that just seems to come out, why?

Anger, blame, and questioning…I don’t know how many times I’ve experienced this online while engaging in conversation, not anything like evangelization, just common discussion, with a mix of beliefs; atheists, agnostics, fellow Christians, pagans, etc… but an atheist will be explaining how they don’t believe in God, and ends their post with “F— God!” exclamation point and all, with a true underscore of vehemence.  The anger is most assuredly there…anger at whom?  A God that he claims doesn’t exist?  Somehow or another God gets the blame for everything bad in life, even though the blame is coming from those who say He doesn’t exist…quite an odd set up.  “Why are you doing this to me?” said in a groan while looking at the sky, or curled up in a fetal position, or just, “Why?” or the perennial favourite, “Why me?”  It is instinctual, something coming from a part of ourselves that most atheists would deny.  It runs deeper than thought, emotion, or physical reaction, it comes from our soul.

Thanksgiving, no not the holiday, but another observed reaction.  My atheist friend was so worried about getting a certain job, it was on his mind day and night, and he waited and waited and waited for a call.  I happened to be there when the call came.  He got the job.  He proceeds, with no conscious thought whatsoever, in a fit of exultation, to fall on the floor, on his back, hands toward Heaven, and exclaims, “Thank God! Yes!” with more fervency than I’ve observed in most Christians. I can “hear” people’s reactions now, “well, it’s just a phrase,” no, sorry, I was there.  There are times when people, even/especially believers who do not really mean, or feel what they say, “Thank God, praise God, praise the Lord,” rolls off the tongue with nothing behind it; this wasn’t in that vein.  I’ve heard others do similar things, offer up thanksgiving and praise “thank you thank you thank you”…to who?  Again, it is before thoughts get in the way, and it is from our beings.  Humans click into a praise and thanksgiving mode without even putting forth effort, it is something internal and fundamental.

The deep feelings of “otherness” or resonance, of something greater than ourselves, or nature.  I was dialoguing with an atheist online, and he was explaining his deep love of music.  I commented on how music seems to be something that can touch us on every level of our beings.  He agreed.  I asked if he had ever felt caught up in a piece of music in such a way that it resonated with him on a level that was beyond mere thought or emotion.  Yes, he had.  It was a fundamental resonance with awe and wonder, a pure feeling, again, something beyond and deeper than emotion.  Folks, we have a soul, and we’ve experienced things like what this person is describing.  I asked if that meant anything to him, or how could he just dismiss it out of hand, that feeling of purity and that there is something more, something bigger, something beyond the physical, and at the same time fundamental.  He couldn’t really answer, he just said he did dismiss it.  I urged him, and urge everyone reading this, don’t dismiss it, think about it.

In God we find the key to these things.  We do have souls, we are geared to seek answers and ask major questions that can be phrased quite simply, “Why?”, we are geared towards thanksgiving and praise to something “other,” geared toward asking for things bigger and outside of ourselves, and we do experience deep resonance and the sense of something bigger even than nature itself…with an understanding of the spiritual nature of ourselves and an acknowledgment of God, these things start making sense, and makes our lives so much richer…many people that come to Him through Christ do have that “Aha” moment, akin to the realization that “Oh, so that’s Who The Doctor was pleading with after all…”

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Of Interest, Sacred Secular, Theology