Category Archives: Christian

A Baptist with The Spiritual gift of Tongues?!

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I think there is a sincere misconception in the church about the gift of tongues. I am not a theologian or a pastor, like most bloggers I am largely ignorant of the things I write. But I write because as this issue now stands in my mind, I have had an epiphany which goes against what I have been taught.

If you read 1 Corinthians 12-14 you will read about spiritual gifts and sandwiched in between is the famous “love chapter.” That sounds strange–to have a chapter so renowned and so obviously about love set between the words of Paul explaining the Holy Spirit’s work in the church. But it isn’t strange. Paul wrote about how the Holy Spirit works through us to produce beautiful works. Some are gifted orators. Some can open their mouths and suddenly the world makes sense and everyone is motivated to live for Christ. Some can explain a concept or show how to live life, and people get it. They understand what is being taught. Some are intuitive. They listen to the Spirit’s teachings and relay them on to the people who need them. These people tend to be in the spotlight. We want to be them.

Paul began explaining that though not all gifts are created equal, we all are honored. We all have different gifts. What unifies all of these gifts? The Holy Spirit of course. But what do we all need more than gifts? Love. We are to love one another. We are to love people unselfishly. We are to show true love. We are to show love that isn’t deserved, requested, or earned. We are to show impossible love. How? Answer: The Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has never been emphasized in my church. He is that third person that we talk about during salvation and almost never afterwards. Tongues are also a touchy subject. The gift of tongues has been eradicated. Because of such and such that happened at some point in history, the gift of tongues and healing really don’t happen the way they did in biblical times. Or so we are taught. I said I wasn’t a theologian and I don’t have my seminary degree (yet), but it’s my understanding that tongues can be translated as the literal anatomical tongue or languages. It is also my understanding that the singular tongue is more closely translated giberish. Being interested in translating the bible, this information really connects with me. I have heard stories of people speaking and the Holy Spirit translating the speech into the language of the audience. It’s found not only in the New Testament, but around the world with missionaries and laypeople. If that’s not the gift of tongues being used, I don’t know what is. The reason we like to manipulate the words of the Bible (in my humble uneducated opinion) is that we don’t want to end up like those crazies screaming in random giberish for attention. That is what the gift of tongues has been turned into. And that is why there is such a harsh reaction to the word tongues in the Baptist church. We’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

My heart is for people groups who speak (or sign) languages other than my own. Evangelists have often tried to make me feel guilty for not wanting to go to the mall and hand out tracts or talk with people. I feel awful because I just can’t bring myself to invite friends to church or share my faith. I would seem too judgmental. Maybe all of these are excuses, but what I have realized is that just because I don’t find myself skilled in these traditional areas, it doesn’t mean that I am not called to introduce people to Jesus. I am simply called in a different way. Through translation work or, the gift of tongues, if you will.

Staff Leaves…

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Funny story…I forgot to actually post it so this was about a month ago but I thought I would post it anyway.

Hey all,

Just a quick update on my adventures in wildwood. So two days ago I had the best day at work! We didn’t have a whole lot to do so we worked slowly and had a lot of conversations with our coworkers. I think I got to know them a lot better and it was a lot of fun. My hours got cut next week so I should *crosses fingers* have a little more free time next week!

Saturday we’re having a game night at one of our Deaf friends’ house. That should be tons of fun! I’m pretty pumped about it. I really enjoy our Saturday outreaches because a lot of times theyre just us hanging out.

I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep so I’ve been praying a ton for grace to give to other people. As most of you know, when I get tired my grace is the first to go. But I can see myself growing a lot. I’ve been working on listening a lot here and just getting to know project people and hearing about their stories. I’ve also been working on showing more grace to people. I’m far from perfect still, but I’m a work in progress 🙂

Staff left last week so we’ve been without staff for an entire week and we’re still alive! That’s a plus I guess :). I’m also in charge of food on Tuesday nights so I’m working on not stressing out about things. All in all things have been good since staff left, there’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s also been a lot of fun. We’ve been working together really well and things have been working out awesomely.

 

A night of Reflection

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Copied from my journal on 6-6-12

We’re at Sunset beach watching the sunset… or rather the sunset approaching. I like to think I can do things on my own. But I haven’t found a job yet. I clearly won’t find one without God’s help, but I’m getting so discouraged I won’t find one at all.

The ocean smells like salt, permeating the air. The tide rolls in, deposits what it can onto the beach and retreats to move along the shore. Sweep in, sweep out. Roll in, roll out. On and on it won’t ever end. Not as long as the earth is spinning and the moon tags along.

There’s sky and sea, kissing at the horizon. Birds flying wherever they please and half a ship sticking out of the sea. A relic from an unfortunate accident long ago. A reminder that we’re not as big as we think. The tide doesn’t need me to be here in order to flow. I’m not even half a ship run aground on a beach.

Water splashes against the rocks. Immoveable firm rocks. Not yielding.

Lord, You are creator, sustainer, Redeemer. You are the head of the Universe. The Ocean doesn’t care for me, the rocks won’t move for me. The birds even may poop on me. But Father You are the puppeteer of them all.

Help me not to focus on me so much. Father help me to focus on you. On who you are. What does it matter what I can do? I am the ant I just flicked off my leg. In my pride and arrogance I think I’ve climbed a mountain on my own. All I’ve done is climbed a leg. 6 inches off the ground. And the significance is squelched the moment I stand to admire what I’ve done.

How come I can find this when even I search a little, but when I’m going, doing, speaking and interacting I find myself to be the sole of importance. Lord help me to rid myself of me. Help me to die to myself so that I can focus on you.

Just as a side note this is a little old, and I pretty much have a job…I’ll explain that more when I for real have a job and paper work and stuff. But God did answer my prayer when I began the process of not focusing on myself…which is really hard, but I’m a work in progress.

The Search

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Hi everyone! I’ve been at Summer Project for 5 days, but so many things have happened it feels like a lifetime! We have had a few hours each day to look for jobs, and I even interpreted a job interview! That was cool, because I realized I actually can successfully interpret and I wasn’t even nervous! I still don’t officially have a job, but I’m applying in good faith and praying that God would provide the job for me that He would have me do.

The busy season hasn’t started yet because here on the East Coast, kids are still in school. I’ve filled out so many applications that I have phone numbers and addresses for my previous places of employment memorized. I’m getting really good at asking for jobs and filling out applications 😛

We’ve had a great time as a community too! I live on a floor with 12 girls and one kitchen and one bathroom. It’s been a challenge and I’m sure it will grow to be a greater challenge, but everyone has been really gracious so far. It’s been great to always have people to hang out with. I’ve had a few introverted moments, but God definitely helped me get through them without being too outwardly crabby :D.

I don’t even know how to describe the boardwalk. It’s a fantastic tourist trap and I love seeing all of the people and the oceans and fair food! I bought fried reese’s yesterday, which was a bad decision. It was delicious and now that I know that, I may end up buying more over the next 10 weeks :P. I also found a taffy and fudge shop with gelato… Forse sarò ritornare ogni giorni perché mi piace il gelato molto!!!

We played capture the flag on the beach one day at the beach until the tide rolled through. We were at least 100 feet from the ocean, but when it rains, and the tide raises, the water goes extremely far. It was insane! I’ll try to remember to actually take pictures for you guys so you can understand what I’m talking about. That’s about all I can say for now. It’s been absolutely insane, but I think now that we have time for everyone to work, it’ll settle down…at least until I get a job.

Please continue to pray that the rest of us will get jobs in the next few days.

Why do good things happen to bad people? And other philosophical questions

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Continuing my study on Ecclesiastes, I’ve read about the biblical stand on riches. It is just like I was saying before. There is a tension within the spectrum of choices. Just as I learned in Ethics class, there is a line–liberal to conservative and in the middle are right decisions and the outliers are wrong. See riches are not inherently wrong. God gave Job, and David and Solomon riches. He blesses His children, but they certainly aren’t going with you to heaven.

The problem with money is that the more you have, the more tightly you tend to hold it. It starts to become necessary to have riches and you begin to think you don’t need God to take care of you. Trust becomes superfluous, you don’t need God to take care of you, you can take care of yourself. But, like we saw with Job, that isn’t always the case.

Not to rag to much on the rich, because the passage clearly states, “ Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment[h] in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV. We can enjoy what God has done to bless us. I’m going to Wildwood New Jersey this summer, and God has fully, 100% funded my trip, and then some. I get to enjoy the blessings of God this summer, because he’s provided for me. I did work for the money and I will be able to enjoy it as well. On the other hand, I received this money, but those who gave, gave freely. God provided them money, and they were then able to give freely as well. They didn’t hold on to their own wealth, but used it to help bless me.

This is the life I want to live. I want to trust God with my money and provisions. Whether He chooses to provide a little, or a lot, I want to give Him control of my pocketbook. I want to be able to bless others when it comes to it, and I want others to bless me.

Switching gears a little, Solomon explains hypocrisy.

20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-24 ESV

We are all imperfect. You may think yourself wise and good all you want, but there are always areas where we fail. We don’t all have the answers 100% of the time. And there is wisdom in knowing that as well. We’re all only human, and we can think ourselves wonderful all we want, but at the end of the day, we do mess up.

And one final twist in the reflections of Solomon.

14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.

Ecclesiastes 8:14-17 ESV

It’s the age old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? And the answer the bible give seems to be that God has a plan we can’t see. That doesn’t seem to be a terribly satisfying answer. Honestly. The answer to such a fundamental philosophical question is that God wants it that way? To understand this you need a bit of perspective. As Francis Chan writes in Crazy Love, “From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible that we live as though it is about us?” If life were a movie, it would star God. He’s been around for all of time, nature is there to point to Him. The bible is there to point to Him.  The church is there to point to Him. Just climb a mountain and look at the view, just read Exodus, just support a fellow Christian, and you’ll soon discover this to be true. This life isn’t about me, and it’s not about you. So the fact that “good” people (though we just established no one is really good) have the same frustrations hurled upon them as “bad” people, is really not relevant. The fact that there are “bad” people in the world thriving upon injustice is also irrelevant. God has a plan for them and he has a plan for us. And here’s the thing, we must trust that He knows what He’s doing. After all, it’s a movie written, directed by and starring, God. I think He has a handle on what needs to happen.

The Wisdom of Solomon

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In my “Max Barnett” study which is what my family calls our particular reading the bible through in a year plan, we are reading through Ecclesiastes. It seems fully loaded with wisdom and philosophies on life so I thought I would take an amateur crack at unraveling what he means. I want to apply it to my own life, but keep in mind that this isn’t the only way to apply them to life. I find myself drawn more and more to the hippie-esque lifestyle of organic foods and minimal possessions. You may not find yourself in that same calling. That doesn’t mean your way is less right than mine, simply different.

But, I digress. Today’s blog concerns the last two days readings: Ecclesiastes 1:1- 3:15. He starts out very depressingly. It kind of reminds me of the first chapter of John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life. The first chapter was all about existentialism. I believe Piper wrote about existentialism because he found that while that was the philosophy of one time period, it was repackaged later into a different time period. As Solomon repeatedly says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” We may think we have the answers with our new ways of living, but as we progress through the book of Ecclesiastes, we find that Solomon tried it all and determined that in the end, it was all “chasing after the wind.”

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 ESV

Solomon acquired wisdom, and it made him sad. He saw what humanity is capable of. I’ve seen it to. When you have wisdom you realize that humans aren’t basically good creatures though we like to think we are. In the words of CS Lewis, we are horribly bent creatures (paraphrased). I wrote a previous blog about this so I won’t expand further, but knowing the realities of the world is sad. And being the wisest man who ever lived cannot decrease humanity’s bentness. It’s all meaningless.

Solomon sought pleasure and it didn’t satisfy. He sought work and success, and found he couldn’t enjoy it. He sought wisdom and philosophy; he sought teaching it to pupils. But at the end of the day, he was going to die, and someone else would pass his ideas on and get the credit. Everyone dies. Rich, poor, wise, fools, they all meet their Maker.

The Maker.

26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:26 ESV

You see the Maker, God, makes this make sense. God gives, pleasure and wisdom and success–and work. And after this Solomon strikes on the heart of the matter.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV

It’s this idea of tension. Life is beautiful AND disappointing. There’s a time for war and peace. We can’t always have peace though we might want it.

12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.[a]

Ecclesiastes 3:12-15 ESV

God is outside of time. I believe Solomon said it first. He knew it way back when time was measured with sun dials. God doesn’t deal in terms of time. Though we see a time for everything, God just sees everything. He knows the end results, we suffer through things for a time, and God allows it because He knows what we don’t. He knows the end of the story. Like the people who skip to the end of the novel so that there’s no surprises. There are no surprises to God. Just like there are no surprises to the author. It’s not a perfect metaphor because as the author is writing, the ending might change, the characters may change from what the author originally thought he or she wanted. God isn’t in the process of writing, we are in the process of acting, but God is already at the end and the present and the past all at once.

So what must be done? I find myself seeing more and more that there’s something to humanitarianism. Not in the worldly sense. Because we’ve already established that humans aren’t good. But in the biblical sense that we are all God’s creatures. All of this talk about nothing reminds me of the nothingness Paul was concerned with.

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

1Corinthians 13:1-3 The Message

Paul found the meaning in the meaningless. Love. Trust God, love relentlessly, hope steadfastly, live balanced.

I don’t know Solomon’s conclusions because I’m not there in the book yet, but these are the conclusions I’m drawing from what I’ve read so far.

יהודה

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I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
     and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

10  All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your[b] mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.][c]
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

I wanted to spend some time praising God. I came across Psalm 145 and was excited because it opens with praise. But I soon realized that this psalm is not all about praising God. It’s about life.

It starts out as a love letter to God. And it goes as love letters go: praising the wonderfulness of God, relating Him to the author, naming specific attributes of goodness…the usual sap.

But loving God isn’t quite loving a man (or a woman). Loving another person should make you somehow better. I should qualify now that the type of love I am using is romantic love. I suppose I should use the phrase “in love,” but it almost sounds too sappy in those terms. Anyway, If loving a person should make you better, loving God should do something else. It should make you perfect.

Perfect love must be shared. It must be shouted off the rooftop. How could one hold in such a love?

And God is in love with us. He protects us (14), He provides for us (15), and He supports us (19).

I am convinced God gives us human love to teach us about His love. But I think the reverse is also true I think we learn about human love through God’s love.

I intended to write on praise, but once again I am writing about love. I suppose it’s a topic I’ve pondered a lot lately. The many forms of love. Someday, I will figure out how to apply this idea of love I’ve gotten. It’s the application of theory that matters. Theory is important for advancing ideas, but ideals don’t leave legacies. Action does.

Practical love is the only love that counts for anything.