Spiritual Fingerprints

Last night in response to comments on my In Love with Jesus? post, Codepoke passed on a link to a post titled Personality–transformed by God?. Here is an excerpt from it:
Your comments about MBTI vs. spirit-led life made me smile a bit, because it reminded me of a conversation I had with a very extraverted friend who couldn’t really grasp what I was explaining about being an introvert. She listened, a bit incredulously to my explanation, and at the end was like, “Well, that’s all fine and good, but doesn’t Jesus make any difference in your life? What’s it mean for Him to transform you?” I almost laughed right then, because I realized that the things I was saying that I thought were good, she was seeing as faults–perhaps she thought I was giving her insight into what was wrong with me! And so, was all that explanation just excusing my faults instead of letting Jesus transform me? I told her, “Well, I think it means I’ll look more like Him, but probably NOT more like you :)”
The post caused me to think about how different we all are ... different in gender ... different in race ... different in culture ... different in personality ... different in many other ways. So ... I am still processing ... why is it that I still want to make rules and generalizations around things like how we love Jesus and how we walk out our faith in Him? Could it be that I am still a bit insecure about what consistutes love and faith? Maybe I still am not content to love and trust in that way that is so deeply personal ... maybe I yet need a validation that I didn't think I needed.

I think that, in a very real sense, God has made us each to be very unique in the way that we love and the way that we trust. This goes against the grain for many of us because we have spent many many hours listening to people who define what it is to love and trust. Then someone comes along who loves so differently and trusts in a way that we are not used to ... these people should inspire us but instead they bring out our insecurities and cause us to retreat into what we are accustomed to. I wonder, maybe we are each created with spiritual fingerprints ... each of us having a unique expression of love and trust ... each with a very specific spiritual personality.

In Love With Jesus?

Consider this a brief follow-up to the Feminine Worship? post of a few weeks ago. Brian recently referred to a post by John Stackhouse titled "Jesus, I'm not in love with you". Here are a few excerpts from his John's short post:
First, I’m not in love with Jesus. The locution “in love with” is one I reserve for one person only: my wife. I love my sons, I love my siblings and parents, I love my friends, I love my country, I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love God. But I’m not “in love” with any of them. And I daresay most of the rest of us use this phrase in exactly the same, highly-restrictive way.
But the New Testament never calls Christians Jesus’ fiancĂ©es or his brides. Instead, it is the Church collectively, and only the Church as a whole, that relates to Jesus this way–just as individual Israelites did not relate to Yhwh as so many spouses, but only the nation of Israel as nation was his beloved bride.
This is a totally new thought for me that challenges my thinking about what it is to love and be "in love". You'd do well to read John's post. I'd appreciate any of your thoughts on the subject.

Allah, Jehovah and Jesus

Over on my other blog we have been having a comment discussion about something our evangelical president said. It all started when I wrote:
In 2005 when asked if Muslims worship the same Almighty as Jews and Christians, President Bush replied replied, “I believe we worship the same God.”
The conversation started when Missy asked:
Technically, don't they worship the same God?
I don't want to regurgitate the entire dialog here ... you can follow the dialog over there ... but I would like to bring a few points to bear. Firstly, I think that it is not accurate or helpful helpful to legitimize Islam, the Quran and Mohammed by saying that Allah is just another name for the the God of Judaism and Christianity.

The bible says that Jesus was the full revelation of the God, spoken of in the Jewish scriptures, in human form. Therefore it is accurate and appropriate to say that the God of Jews and Christians are one and the same God. Also, Christianity recognizes the God of the Jews as the same God that Christians worship ... it also officially recognizes the Jewish scriptures. This is what Jesus told an Arab woman in the gospel of John:
"You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews."

The idea that the God of Islam and Judaism/Christianity is the same is something that Jesus did not agree with and I do not agree with.

Maybe if we enter the realm of the absurd I can make my point a bit clearer. What if Kansas Bob has a dream one day and awakes with a strong revelation that God wants everyone to worship Him in a certain way ... and if anyone refuses to worship in this manner those who believe should purchase laser swords and kill the infidels. Now I can say all day that "Jesus" spoke to me in a dream ... but it doesn't mean that the Jesus of the bible spoke to me in that dream ... to say so would discredit Jesus. Here is what the Apostle Paul said:

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
Paul had an understanding that just because you say that you worship the same God doesn't mean that you actually do. So it is with those that say that Muslims, Jews and Christians all worship the same Almighty ... they may sincerely believe it ... but I think that they are sincerely wrong.

Feminine Worship?

This seems like a good topic for a Sunday-morning-before-I-go-to-church post. Steve Sjogren, founding pastor of the Cincinnati Vineyard Community Church recently wrote a blog post with the same title as this post. A few excerpts:
Eventually, I ask men this question, “So why do you come late each week? You can tell me the truth – I’m only here one week – I don’t know who you are. You can be completely honest with me…” It is amazing how consistent men are when they answer me. Almost always they lean forward, they look right, look left, lower their voice then speak…
“The God’s honest truth is, I CAN’T STAND THOSE INCESSANT SONGS THEY SING HERE! My wife told me I’d get used to the songs, but hey, it’s been several months (or even years) now and I still don’t like this singing stuff.”
Then I usually hear one of two things, that they are either:
1) Bored stiff while the singing is going on, or;
2) They feel the songs are too "girly."
Some reading this might think, “I suspect those guys aren’t believers yet.” I thought this as well for a while. But in many cases, these guys definitely know the Lord.
This is tough to hear for those of us who love worship as it exists now, but we have essentially castrated worship, calling it “Contemporary Worship.” True, few would go for this style if we called it “Castrated Worship” or Contemporary Castrated Worship, but it seems to me to be the truth.
I am really not sure what to make of this one. I feel like I need to come out of the closet and say that I like "girly worship". In the same breath I have to say that I do understand where Steve, and these guys, are coming from.

Growing up Episcopal I remember singing my favorite hymn, Onward Christian Soldier ... it really spoke to my masculinity. I guess it is true that many contemporary worship songs have a feminine feel. Often these songs speak of romance and intimacy focusing on our relationship with God. They rarely speak of spiritual battle or use warrior language. Apart from the words the music is also sometimes feminine sweet.

I wonder why there are not more masculine oriented worship songs out there ... or am I asking the wrong question?

Let your heart take courage

I came across two psalms today that end with similar phrases:
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. (Psalms 27:13-14)

O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful And fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. (Psalms 31:23-24)
It seems that both of these verses relate hope and faithfulness with strength and courage. Ever think about what it takes to wait on the Lord ... experience tells me that persevering in hope can really develop a strong heart ... but it often comes with a price tag. I think about what the bible says about enduring trials:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:2-4, 12)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Do you find it encouraging when you see words like "lacking in nothing", "crown of life" and "result in praise and glory and honor". If today you are experiencing a difficult season of trials ... hang in there ... be strong and let your heart takes courage ... He is working wonderful things in you ... He is making you like Jesus.