Monday, December 29, 2014

Will Be Done

I love it when an author crafts a story that hinges on the final few paragraphs or sentences. All of a sudden, Mr. X doesn't look like a wretched villain or Ms. Y doesn't seem so innocent any longer. Hints that appeared to suggest one thing become clear in light of a few final statements. A good writer knows how to craft their narrative for maximum effect. This is what happens here in Obadiah.

After a casual reading, it appears that God, through the prophet, is warning Edom of impending doom. He is going to shift the balance of power in the region and divide the land amongst foreign invaders. Clearly, it is implied that God is behind every power shift and nothing will happen that He does not approve first. However, the prophet makes one final statement at the end of the book that takes the concept and stretches it further.
"...but the kingdom will be the Lord's." 
—Obadiah 21
When we draw boundary lines, we divide God's kingdom amongst ourselves. France, England, and Spain mean nothing in God's eyes. Each of those countries are subjected to the jurisdiction of the Almighty, for within each of those countries reside subjects to the Almighty. Even though countries are ruled by Presidents, Monarchs, Prime Ministers, and Dictators, this earth is a kingdom. That kingdom is ruled by the King immortal, invisible.

If the redrawing of the map pleases the king, then it will be done.
If the King requires obedience, let His will be done.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014


A delayed digest is better than no digestion at all, right? No? Here are the articles, knock yourself out!


  1. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 132 Views
  2. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments, 92 Views
  3. The Problem of Pain: Book Review
    Aug 8, 2013, 23 comments, 88 Views
  4. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 57 Views
  5. A critical examination of the YA fiction written b...
    Dec 23, 2013, 51 Views


  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments, 5632 Views
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 1990 Views
  3. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments, 1534 Views
  4. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!)
    Nov 1, 2012, 1527 Views
  5. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 640 Views

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pull Out to Get On Pace

Oh, The Places!

There is a lot to look at when analyzing text. Particularly sacred scriptures. There's doctrine, lessons, cross-references, actions... the list goes on and on. Different passages of scripture lend themselves to various kinds of analysis. Luke 4 is particularly kind to setting—where is Jesus? It is very interesting to see how Jesus conducts himself in various settings and what that can teach us about our own reactions when we find ourselves in these same places.

The Private Place

Finally, we see Jesus withdrew to a place by himself. All alone. With no one around. He just stepped on a major platform in the Pious Place and saw his fame explode. He demonstrated his emphasis on relationships in a very Personal Place. And now, he seems to regress by going to a place where he can have no direct influence on any individual.
When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.
—Luke 4:42 NASB 
After all that Jesus went through to build up his ministry, Jesus takes a time-out to be alone. It seems counter-intuitive. When one's work begins, it is typically recommended that they continue. Write consistent blog posts. Record consistent podcasts. Get on the radio at the same time each week. Keep preaching. Keep visiting. Keep your name on the headlines so they don't forget you.

Clearly, this is not Jesus' M.O.

A Potent Pause

We should not be surprised in the least to see Jesus take out time to be by himself. He did this many times during his time on earth. He did it earlier in Luke 4 while tempted in the wilderness. He does it on the Mount of Transfiguration (with a select few disciples). He goes by himself o pray and sends his disciples across the sea (then joins them by walking on water). He even goes off by himself in the garden of Gethsemane. The scriptures clearly indicate that this is not a one-off event, but a life habit which Jesus carefully cultivated.

What does Jesus do when he is by himself? He does many things. As I just mentioned, he goes by himself to face temptation, to pray, to reinforce his purpose and to pour out his soul. It is a time of renewal and cleansing. The intimacy of these episodes are palpable. And we know that Jesus would never miss an opportunity to go to the private place.

If the Personal Place deals with those people we know best on this earth, the Private Place deals with a one-to-one relationship with the God who knows us best. In the Personal Place, our relationships with family and friends are intimate and a priority. In the Private Place, we are completely naked before our God, and those things we can manage to keep secret from our closest earthly relationships will certainly be unveiled.

It is an unnerving thought, to say the least. But it is a critical practice for anyone who fancies himself a follower of Christ.

While the Private Place is the last place mentioned in the chapter, we can see that everything emanates from here:
  • Our Private Relationship with God places us in the right frame of mind with a clean conscience.
  • Since we are in the right frame of mind with a clean conscience, we are open and honest with our Private Relationships.
  • Our openness and honesty in our personal relationships gives us credibility as a witness in the Public Place, which includes ministry in the Pious Place.
  • Though I have not written a post on Jesus' Wilderness Experience, we can easily see how a strong foundation will help us when we enter the Perilous Place of temptation and persecution.
May we be like Christ and deliberately enter the Private Place with the intent to strengthen our relationship with God. This will have a positive effect on the rest of our life.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Pertinence of Partnerships

Oh, The Places!

There is a lot to look at when analyzing text. Particularly sacred scriptures. There's doctrine, lessons, cross-references, actions... the list goes on and on. Different passages of scripture lend themselves to different kinds of analysis. Luke 4 is particularly kind to setting—where is Jesus? It is very interesting to see how Jesus conducts himself in various different settings and what that can teach us about our own reactions when we find ourselves in these same places.

The Personal Place

The second place we see Jesus is at Simon's home in Luke 4:38. This intimately personal setting is juxtaposed against Jesus' very public ministry which includes the statement in verse 37 about Jesus' fame which echoes far beyond his physical presence. Not only have people heard of Jesus, but the things they have heard are amazing. In verse 36, the people are astonished at the power behind his teaching. They recognized something special in Jesus. As a result, his fame exploded.

So what does Jesus do? He goes into a home to take personal care of a disciple's intimate need; Simon's need to care for his mother-in-law. Jesus does not start a global tour, he comes home instead. Jesus does not sell out arenas for hour-long preaching sessions, he holds a bedside service instead. Jesus does not headline a week-long conference, he heads over to an individual with a specific need instead.

** Queue big movie theater voice ** This time it's personal.

That's not to say that any of those things (global tours, selling out arenas, week-long conferences [or cruises!]) are bad. But we know that these are not the things with which Jesus was involved. Jesus was involved with people on an individual level.

The Paramount Piece

What's important to you?

It is apparent that Jesus had a clear vision of what was important to him. Relationships were his priority. Look at the time that he took to personally care for Simon's mother-in-law:
"Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. 'Please heal her,' everyone begged. Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them." —Luke 4:38-39 NLT
Consider your own personal life. The relationships found in your personal place are with the people closest to you. These are the people to whom you reveal yourself most truly. These are people you live with, share bathrooms with, watch TV with, share meals with, share hopes and dreams and fears with. These are people who know your tendencies, faults, strengths and push your buttons regularly. These are the people who can tell when you are serious and when you lie through your teeth.

Jesus built relationships like this.

Jesus prioritized relationships like this.

What better way to share the gospel than to live it out in front of an audience that can vouch for your character? What better person to share God's love with than a family member or close friend? Sometimes we replace the personal mission field with dreams of bigger, supposed better things.

Jesus did not do that.

There were times when his family rejected him. But his door was always open (we know his family played an important role in the early Church, so they came around). We need to be ready to support these intimate relationships. Again I ask the question, what's important to you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Insights

It's the same post I write up at the end of every month: Here's what you guys read, I wish I wrote more, I vow to improve, rinse and repeat and enjoy!

Views in September

  1. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments - 84 Views
  2. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments - 61 Views
  3. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 52 Views
  4. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 52 Views
  5. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!)
    Nov 1, 2012, 46 Views

Lifetime Stats

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments - 5583 Views
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 1992 Views
  3. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!)
    Nov 1, 2012, 1505 Views
  4. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments - 1433 Views
  5. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 521 Views

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Reads

The sun is rising on a new month and I am finally getting around to posting the popular articles from the month of August. This past month I took a little hit in page views. But then again, that happens when you only post twice in a month. I got a nasty migraine that lasted a week, so I have been recovering from that. Seriously, it was no joke.

So enjoy the articles that were popular during previous months. Hopefully I will be able to get my things together and write up a few more posts in September than I did in August.

Posts Read During August

  1. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013 - 59 Page Views
  2. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013 - 2 comments, 56 Page Views
  3. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013 - 2 comments, 55 Page Views
  4. Mere Christianity: A Must-Read For the Thinking Ma...
    Apr 4, 2012 - 45 Page Views
  5. An Outline of James, the Epistle
    Apr 17, 2012 - 1 comment, 44 Page Views

All-Time Views

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013 - 2 comments, 5524 Page Views
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013 - 1958 Page Views
  3. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!)
    Nov 1, 2012 - 1480 Page Views
  4. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013 - 2 comments, 1352 Page Views
  5. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012 - 474 Page Views

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Presence Behind the Piety

Oh, The Places!

There is a lot to look at when analyzing text. Particularly sacred scriptures. There's doctrine, lessons, cross-references, actions... the list goes on and on. Different passages of scripture lend themselves to different kinds of analysis. Luke 4 is particularly kind to setting—where is Jesus? It is very interesting to see how Jesus conducts himself in various different settings and what that can teach us about our own reactions when we find ourselves in these same places.

The Pious Place

The first place we see Jesus is the synagogue in Luke 4:15. Technically, we could begin with Jesus' wilderness experience as the narrative flows nicely from there. However, we could also technically keep going back to the beginning of the book (not necessarily a bad thing) but we must start somewhere and the synagogue is a logical place for this study.

The synagogue was a place of piety with a rich tradition in it's own right. Some scholars believe the synagogues were established during the Babylonian exile, which would make sense as the people would need some way to express their devotion to God when a trip to the temple would be impossible. By the time of the Maccabees, synagogues were commonplace. In fact, the temple during Jesus' time was used as a synagogue.

Scholars are divided as to the nature of the synagogue, however. Traditions like these do not typically spring up as a fully-developed entity. Most likely, synagogues began as public meeting places out in the open, like down by the river or at some other landmark. This particular practice was still in use in the first century C.E., as borne out by New Testament observations of Jewish prayer meetings that were held by the river. After some time, the formal synagogue was to be convened once there were ten men in an area that were devoted to the meeting. It was critical that the synagogue was a local entity, as it allowed the faithful to meet together on the Sabbath without breaking the law regarding steps allowed to be taken.

As a result of the rise of the synagogue, temple worship and animal sacrifice was replaced in importance by synagogue worship and the reading and analysis of the Torah. The synagogue was not equipped with the temple furniture and instruments, but could easily accommodate scripture reading and study. As a result of this paradigm shift, the following two elements followed suit:
  1. The role and importance of the priesthood was replaced by the scribe—a scholar whose expertise was the study and interpretation of the sacred scriptures.
  2. Judaism shifted from a "symbolic religion" to a "book religion." In other words, they became less reliant on the symbols (burnt offerings, the laver, etc.) and more reliant on their scriptures.
This did not occur overnight, it was a gradual process that perhaps started out of a community need and certainly grew into a community fixture. This transformation of Judaism is clearly seen in the religious atmosphere surrounding Jesus and the early church.

A Pious Problem

All that seems well and fine, except for one minor problem: God never instructed the Hebrews to set up the synagogue system. We have very detailed instructions on how and where to build the Temple. We have specific instructions on the furnishings that should be used in the Temple. We have explicit instructions regarding the priests who should minister inside the Temple. Further, we have these same details regarding the Temple's predecessor: the Tabernacle. But God is silent with regard to synagogue and synagogue worship.

Psalm 74:8 seems to mention a synagogues. This fits in with the history, as the Psalm appears to describe the destruction of the Babylonian conquest. However, this is the only potential reference in the Old Testament to synagogue worship, albeit a positive one. Or negative, bemoaning the fact that they are being destroyed.

In this case, you would expect Jesus, the Son of God, to completely blast the system. You expect him to show up at the synagogue and rail against the traditions of men and overturn the uncommissioned appliances. But he does not. Quite the opposite, actually. Jesus honors the tradition by attending the synagogue and even partaking in the liturgy. By doing so, he inspires Paul, James, Peter and the other disciples to do the same. In fact, we know that the early church attended synagogue on the Sabbath and met together on Sundays well into the second century.

The Potential Payoff

What could this mean? Why would God honor an institution that he did not explicitly institute? Notice what Jesus does inside the synagogue. He reads the scripture, just as they would normally have done. Then he takes the spotlight away from the prophecy and places it squarely on himself. He uses the gathering for its actual purpose: The worship of the one true God.

Traditions are not the problem, vanity is the problem. Symbols aren't the problem, emptiness is the problem. The patriarchs set up memorial stones. Animal sacrifices pointed to a God who wanted to cover their sin. The Tabernacle represented a God who wants to be with his people. The Temple proves that God wants to be a permanent fixture in man's life. The Lord's Supper remembers that God became flesh and blood and offers his eternal life to mankind. These traditions are good and useful when they remind us of truth. They can become rotten.

This principle is what Samuel was getting at when he said that God takes no pleasure in sacrifice, but in obedience. We perform these traditions because we have the one true God in view and we desire to please him. If the synagogue was established to help the congregation know the word of God more intimately, why wouldn't the Word of God present himself there?

Sadly, the people in Nazareth did not believe Messiah was in their midst. This section ends with an assassination attempt on Jesus. Instead of being filled with worship, they were filled with rage. They were outraged that their customs were being blasphemed, proving that their piety had blinded them so they could not recognize the presence of God. This is a danger for us too.

May our traditions never be in vain. May we always recognize the Presence behind the piety and allow him to shine through it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July's Popular Posts

Here's another edition of WTHT's monthly digest of popular items. This blog has been viewed over 3400 times in the past month, and I thank you for reading. Enjoy!

July Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments, 134 views
  2. The Great Divorce: Book Review
    Jul 10, 2014, 60 views
  3. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 55 views
  4. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 44 views
  5. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments, 36 views

All-Time Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments, 5,453 views
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 1896 views
  3. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!)
    Nov 1, 2012, 1452 views
  4. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments, 1294 views
  5. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 448 views

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mary Knows IV - The Resurrection

Don't give up, keep seeking.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

Good Friday

Who is your best friend? Who is that guy you can't wait to see during the day and hang out with in the evenings? That guy who always has a timely joke or comment that sends you into hysterics? Imagine that in an instant this guy disappears from your life. He is gone and you are convinced you will never see him again.

Who is your mentor? To whom do you field your deepest, darkest questions? Whose opinion do you treasure the most? When your little ship of life feels tossed to and fro, who is the horizon you look at to settle your stomach? Imagine that in an instant this rock falls through to the other side. He is gone and you are convinced you will never see him again.

Who is the love of your life? Who is the person you would die for and you are convinced would lay down their life for you? Who is that individual who verbalizes their love every morning and evening and backs it up throughout the day and night with their actions? Imagine that in an instant he passes away. He is gone and you are convinced you will never see him again.

What if these friends, mentors, lovers were rolled up into one person. This one person would mean so very much that the hole they leave in your life would rip at the very fabric of your existence. You would become a shadow-man—a ghost—incapable of normal human interactions like fixing breakfast or tying your shoes.

This happened. It happened to the disciples.

Everyone has felt the pain of funeral services. The pain of losing someone you love. Death is the inevitable end of life. The disciples left their occupations for Jesus. They left their homes for Jesus. They left their familiar surroundings for Jesus. They left their former lives and built new ones centered around Jesus. Now Jesus is gone.

Consider Mary. She takes things a step further. She was the first to know about Jesus. She was the first to feel Jesus flutter in her womb. She has been meditating on Jesus her whole life. Every thing he said and did was inspiration to her. She saw him meet a final end—no matter what Jesus said about his own fate, a crucifixion will always seem like a final event. Simon's prediction comes true, a sword has pierced Mary's soul in a way that no other human could feel. Doubtless, she enjoyed unique privileges as the mother of God, but she also tasted a more bitter flavor of of what we now know as Good Friday.

The Resurrection

But that is not the end of the story. We know Jesus was laid in a tomb. We know the tomb was heavily guarded by war/riot-hardened Roman soldiers. We also know that a group of women went to visit that same tomb and noticed that the supposed dead man was not inside. In fact, he was very much alive! That lost cornerstone of life has been restored. Not only restored, but glorified in a way that exceeds his previous existence. In a way, Jesus was much more alive after the resurrection than he was before he died—his work is now complete.

The cumbersome depression has been overturned by a double-portion of relief. Cries of mourning are replaced by more voluminous shouts of joy. The women, yes Mary too, are now privileged with the news of the resurrected Christ. They report back to the apostles.

They need to see it to believe it.

It seemed like nonsense to them. They couldn't understand it. I'm not sure that the women fully understood it either. They just knew it to be true. They were just doing as they were told. It was the only explanation that makes any sense. How could someone steal a body that was guarded by Roman soldiers? Why would angels, quoting Jesus' own words, deceive them? The truth can be incredible at times.


The key resolution to the resurrection account comes at the end of the chapter:
[Jesus] said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 
Luke 24:44, 45
During the course of this four-part investigation of Mary's experiences with Jesus of Nazareth, we have seen her strive to understand the things that God was doing in her life. Rest assured that God works in your life as well. Also know that God honors honest inquiry and will reward an honest seeker by allowing them to find.

There are some things that are beyond our understanding. We have already mentioned that even though we can't comprehend some truth, we can always treasure it. However, know that one day these intricacies will be exposed. The mysteries will be revealed. Scripture says that we see darkly as through a mirror, but one day we will know as we are known. Christ will one day do for us what he did for the disciples, he will open our minds and we will understand the scriptures.

I do not mean to sound trite, which happens all too often in discussions of this topic. We say, Well, one day we'll understand this. We then stop trying to understand it today. We think we are relying on God to reveal it when what we are actually doing is giving up on the search for truth. Do not give up, keep seeking.

The fact that God will reveal it to us should be an encouragement to continue learning and not an excuse to stop learning. Let us faithfully pursue truth. Rest assured that we serve a living savior who is actively involved in our spiritual development. He will bring all things full-circle.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mary Knows III - The Temple

How will we react when our assumptions 
are turned upside-down by Christ's words?
...they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:46-51


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Temple

This portion recounts the well-known incident which occurred when Jesus was twelve years old. It is a window into his childhood. Imagine the astonishing things that Mary and Joseph beheld as Jesus grew up. Imagine their shock as they observe the differences between Jesus and his siblings. It must have been an incredible experience. It may have also been terrifying.

We know that they were making their annual family trip to Jerusalem for Passover (v. 41). On the way back, Mary and Joseph realize that their assumption was incorrect; Jesus was not in their caravan. He had been left behind. Or he had intentionally stayed behind, as the case may be.

Notice the role that understanding places in this narrative. It serves as the catalyst for all the action and reaction in this account. Jesus' understanding was on full display and he left the people amazed. Mary and Joseph's lack of understanding was also on display and they were filled with anxiety. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was lost when all the while he was home. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was mistreating them, but he was busy treating others to his understanding. Mary and Joseph thought they were doing their parental duty, but Jesus was with his Father the whole time.

These are not the only reversals in the passage. Remember The Annunciation, when Mary submitted herself to God's will. Here, Jesus subjects himself to his parent's lead and goes to Nazareth despite his proclamation that he was already at home. Surely, this reversal must have struck a chord within Mary's heart. Verse 51 tells us that much. How many times did Jesus' words and actions produce a rebuke in Mary's heart? I imagine there were countless instances which Mary treasured. Did she understand everything as it was going on? Assuredly not. But she treasured these experiences, sometimes that's all we can do.


I see rebuke in this passage. Not a harsh, abrasive rebuke, but a gentle, loving one. Jesus does not resist his parents. Jesus just does his thing and lets his parents experience his truth. Isn't that how Jesus works today? Does he not move subtly in our lives, letting us know where we err without making us feel stupid or inadequate?

Once we are given the necessary information, it is up to us to make the decision. Are we going to submit to his will, or are we going to ask him to submit to ours? He will not force us to obey, he asks us to be willing to obey. Sometimes, as we strive for understanding we learn some things that we cannot unlearn. We will be forced to make difficult decisions. We may be rebuked. It simply goes with the territory.

In the end, Mary reacts to this incident the same way she reacted to The Advent—she treasures it. She holds on to it like a precious jewel. How will we react when God's way is contrary to our way? How will we react when our logic contradicts divine logic? How will we react when our assumptions are turned upside-down by Christ's words? Will you treasure it? Or will you look for an interpretation that suits your lifestyle? Will I outright reject God's word or, worse, cram it into my own perception of good Christian behavior?

God help us as we seek to know him more. There are going to be difficult times when our lifestyles will be challenged. May we truly treasure God's word even when it is an inconvenient truth.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mary Knows II: The Advent

"Do not let the things you don't know
cloud what you have already attained."
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:15-19


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Advent

It is done! The mystery has been revealed. Emmanuel truly is with us now. The foretold birth of Jesus has finally come to fruition. Angels announced his coming. Shepherds have come to visit a savior, calling him "Christ" and "Lord." Those things that Gabriel announced to Mary in private are now being fulfilled in public spaces. What is Mary's reaction?

All who heard wondered. I imagine Mary wondered as well. Was she in a state of shock? Was she left speechless? Did she tell anybody about her experience with the angel Gabriel? She surely didn't run out to the countryside and inform a bunch of shepherds. All this was validation of the angel's tidings&mdashit was proof! He did not lie. These things happened.

But how can these things be? Mary clearly saw that these things are so, but how can it be so? She is still pondering these truths in her heart. But she does not know the mechanics of how these things are so. How does she raise the son of God? What is life going to be like with God sharing the same roof with her? She sees in the flesh The Entity that her people have worshipped since Abraham. How can it be?

Notice that she still does not have the answers. One does not "wonder" at and "ponder" an occurrence while understanding it fully. One is left awestruck at things that are greater than they can comprehend. This is Mary at The Advent, the physical coming of God into his world. This should also be our reaction to The Advent—humble, grateful, awe.

Notice Mary's third reaction: she treasured all these things. Just because certain elements were beyond her comprehension, she was still appreciative. She was still grateful. She could still treasure the truth that has been revealed to her while stretching to grasp greater understanding.


Are you discouraged with the things you do not know? Then be content with the things you do understand. Revel in the joy of what God has revealed to you. Treasure it. Place it in a safe place. Return to it when you need encouragement. Return to it when you have doubt. Return to it when expanding your knowledge base. Do not let the things you don't know cloud what you have already attained.

The converse is also true. Don't be so content with your current knowledge base that you do not try to expand your understanding. Mary continued to ponder even while treasuring the things she had. Let us also keep a right balance between striving for progress and protecting that which we know. These two elements are not mutually exclusive, rather, they should coordinate with each other as we run the race of our spiritual lives.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mary Knows I: The Annunciation

God not only tolerates inquiry, He welcomes it.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the [descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Luke 1:26-29


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Annunciation

Mary goes about her normal routine on a seemingly normal day. Was she tending to her chores in her father's house? Was she fetching water? Maybe she was preparing or her rapidly approaching nuptuals. We do not know what she was doing. We only know that God's alarm clock rang out and it was time for him to make his move. Suddenly, an angel appears to her and delivers great news to her. At least, Gabriel interprets this news as great.

It appears Mary doesn't take this news with a leap of joy. Scripture says she is perplexed. What do you mean, 'The Lord is with me?' The angel will even go so far as to beg her not to be afraid. God sends news of blessing, joy, honor, and glory that is not just gospel for Mary, but also for the entire universe. But to Mary's ears, it is a word of terror. This is so new, so strange, so impossible, Why would I be favored in God's eyes?

This leads to the next statement: she ponders. She takes the words of the angel as sent from God and meditates on them. What could they mean, do they stand up to reason? Mary, if nothing else, internalizes her every experience with Christ, from the annunciation to the resurrection. She thinks and thinks and thinks. Then she gets more information and thinks about it some more. She asks poignant, relevant questions. She tries to rationalize the things of God. She longs to see the fulfillment with her human eyes.

When she has all the information and has reached the end of her mental faculties, she makes a very important decision; she places herself in God's hands and submits to his will. She does not receive a revelation. She does not have a mental breakthrough or a Eureka! moment. She simply comes to the end of rationale and decides to trust the One with all the answers, even if he is not giving away the answer key just yet.


Mary, during The Annunciation, is a study on reason. Clearly, she is caught by surprise and wants to understand what is happening. However, she is not armed with the hindsight that we are privileged to have. She illustrates the virtue of using your mind to try and comprehend heavenly things. God wants to reveal himself, we should want to understand him.

Growing up, I assumed that God frowns on questions. I assumed, wrongly, that God is not open to honest inquiry. I equated questions with unbelief and skepticism with weakness. However, it is clear from this instance (and others) that God not only tolerates inquiry, he welcomes it.

Obviously, God as an omniscient being knows the intents of the heart. He is able to tell if the question springs from unbelief or from honesty. He will always honor honest questions, though sometimes holds the answers just beyond reach. Sometimes that is just part of the learning process. Sometimes, the answer is just beyond what you can handle now and need to develop more. This happens in natural life, it also happens in spiritual life.

Do not be discouraged when you find yourself confused and unsure of the answers. This is part of the growth process. Know that sometimes you just have to trust that the things you know still hold true and submit your future into the hands of the God who made the answer key.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Great Divorce: Book Review

The Book

The Great Divorce
C. S. Lewis

I purchased this piece a while back as part of C. S. Lewis' Signature Classics collection. It includes many of the other Lewis works reviewed on this blog. Personally, I believe in reading a Lewis classic (not limited to the signature ones) every third book or so. (OK, maybe I'm kidding a little here. But seriously, work some C. S. Lewis into your reading schedule. You'll be glad you did.)

Technical Merit

The Great Divorce is a 160 page allegory. As an allegory, it is a thinly veiled sermon on an outwardly biblical topic. As such, it is hampered by some of the limitations to which all allegories are subjected. Since the author has an agenda, he is not free to explore the story for it's own sake—the moral is king in the story. Technically, this tendency hamstrings the story. This is why I do not feel that the Chronicles of Narnia are allegorical, though they clearly bear Christian influences. But I suppose that's not a discussion for this book review.

Compared to other, more famous, allegories like Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Spenser's Faere Queene, Lewis' The Great Divorce reads very smoothly and smartly. I have given this book 4 out of five stars because the story at times becomes stagnant as the main character (Lewis himself) moves from scene to scene to make his points.

The Review

The premise of the story is as follows:
  • Lewis joins a group of people on a bus ride.
  • The bus ride leads from his current existence to the gateway to heaven.
  • The citizens are faced with the choice to either give up their baggage and go to heaven or keep their baggage and return to hell.
  • Lewis meets up with George MacDonald who helps him understand the conversations going on around him. These conversations serve as the catalyst for theological introspection.
First off, this story is just that: a story. Lewis does not claim an out of body experience or other form of shenanigans to validate this tale. He is not suggesting there is a real bus that transports man from hell to heaven. He is not suggesting that hell is not a real place. He is not suggesting anything about the literal realness or mythological sense of any of these things. He is more concerned with the fact that there are certain things that must be dealt with before one may pass from hell into heaven. If one is not willing to give up these things, then there is no way that they are going to be able to mare the transition. It's all about submitting to God's will. Consider this famous quote:
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.
Image from We Talk of Holy Things--on Facebook 
This encapsulates the marvel of free-choice. We are free to choose God's way or our own ways. We are also free to live with the consequences. Why does God send people to hell? The answer is, quite simply, He doesn't. People choose hell.

One of the most interesting scenes in the book has to do with the mother who longs to see her son again. She is not allowed into heaven because her love was a self-gratifying love instead of a pure, sacrificial love for her child. In the end, her perverted love had replaced the "older" and "closer" love that God has for His creation. At this point, Lewis explores the following idea from the fictional mouth of George MacDonald:
There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels. It's not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but of bad archangels. The false religion of lust is baser than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art: but lust is less likely to be made into a religion.
The sinister sins are the ones that can be mistaken for virtue. Lust, murder and theft are rarely put on a pedestal and worshiped, but love has always been and will continue to be worshiped as a god. A child molester is forever marked and shunned, but the love worshiper who only loves out of selfish ambition is never detected and fools himself into thinking he is good.


As with all C. S. Lewis works, I heartily recommend that everyone add this book to their reading list. This work is mostly speculative and fixated on the main point that we all must submit to God's will or else never enter the gates of heaven. This is an important lesson for everyone to learn.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top 5 June Posts

Another month passes by

While June was not quite as successful as May in terms of page views, we still saw over 3,000 visits here on WTHT. Thanks for reading! Here are the things that interested my readers, maybe you'll find something interesting in these lists. Let me know what you're thinking in the comments section!

June Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate (Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments - 270 views)
  2. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer (Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments - 71 views)
  3. Turn the Other Cheek: A few #BTSermon notes (Sep 20, 2013, 1 comment - 49 views)
  4. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!) (Nov 1, 2012 - 32 views)
  5. A critical examination of the YA fiction written b... (Dec 23, 2013 - 31 views)

All Time Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate (Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments - 5318 views)
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review (May 1, 2013 - 1900 views)
  3. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!) (Nov 1, 2012 - 1482 views)
  4. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer (Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments - 1260 views)
  5. Thorn of Humanity IV: Nightingale & the Rose (Sep 19, 2012 - 446 views)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Longing For Home: Book Review

The Book

The Longing For Home
Frederick Buechner

After getting ripped off by Barnes and Noble (I didn't realize it at the time, but some lawyer informed me that I was, in fact, ripped off) I was included in a settlement. As a result, I had a few pennies to rub together in my Barnes and Noble account. A good friend of mine, +Jonathan Roberts, had recommended that I read some Frederick Buechner. He said that he really enjoyed Buechner's work and that I would probably enjoy it too. I went ahead and purchased a couple of his nook-books and just finished reading The Longing for Home. I am glad that I did.

Technical Merit

Frederick Buechner is a wonderful writer. He is an author of both fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry. As such, he is creative in both his thinking and expression. I remember one of my librarian friends said that she did not like poetry, but she loves when poets use their talents to write prose. I felt this way about Buechner's writing.

As a result, sometimes Buechner's arguments are difficult to follow. I give The Longing for Home 4 out of 5 stars for technical merit for clarity of argument. I am certain that second and third readings will provide the clarity I desire, and this may prove to be a positive thing as I will likely read this title again.

The Review

In the long run, each of our stories turns out to be the story of us all, and the home we long for has in all likelihood been home to others whose names we don't even know and will be home again to still others when the ever-rolling stream of things has long since borne us away. (pg. 76)
The Longing For Home is divided into two parts: The Home We Knew and The Home We Dream. In The Home We Knew, Buechner looks back on the places that he considered "home" and shares several episodes of what that means. He looks at places, people and relationships that make up the critical elements of what "home" is and continues to be despite how physical circumstances have changed.

This chapter is full of sentimental scenes, painting the picture of what is meant by the old adage which asks what converts a house into a home. An especially tender and heart-moving chapter contains the letter that he wrote his grandson, which was to be read at the grandson's twenty-first birthday. Yet, in the midst of all this sentimentality, Buechner states the following:
We are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our own lives but reactors. (pg. 80)
So even though it is good to look back and remember. Even though it is good to be cognizant of the love that surrounds us. We must also be ready to actively live out this life and not dwell on the past and depend on it to carry us forward.

The second section, The Home We Dream, looks to scripture and loosely applies the methodology of the first section to the heavenly realm. Buechner plays on the idea that our citizenship is not on this earth, but elsewhere. One of his favorite scenes is the breakfast the Jesus makes his disciples after his bodily resurrection. It is a reassuring meal, prepared by a loved one, in a familiar place. If this is not home, I do not know what is.
To be homeless the way people like you and me are apt to be homeless is to have homes all over the place but not to be really at home in any of them. To be really at home is to be really at peace, and our lives are so intricately interwoven that there can be no real peace for any of us until there is real peace for all of us. (pg. 102)
Finding peace of mind, to Buechner, is the ultimate sense of being at home. Restlessness is true homelessness. For the Christian, Jesus Christ is their prince of peace and, due to the connected nature of the human race, we will not be at peace until everyone accepts our prince of peace. In this way, finding home while living in this world is necessarily to evangelize and spread the gospel. While it is a command, it is also a natural longing.


As always, this review is a small glimpse of the many topics that are covered in this title. I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves poetry in prose and likes connecting the dots to see the big picture of what an author is expressing. The Longing For Home is part artful expression, part worship, part challenge, part homage.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Skype Study Audio: An Intro to Deuteronomy

Session One

Last Saturday, we got together via Skype and held the first of our Summer Skype Study Sessions with Jonathan Brower. Our intention, as stated repeatedly on this blog, is to study what it means to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We began with an in-depth introduction to the book of Deuteronomy complete with an overview of God's ultimate plan and what level of commitment the scriptures require of us.

I have edited the study and posted them on my podcast: The Christopher Jimenez Show. It is also on Youtube, and I have embedded the same audio in both formats below for your consumption.

The Christopher Jimenez Show


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Talking Holy Things... on Facebook

A New Page

Hello readers, casual followers and those who jut stumbled upon this blog. I have finally taken the plunge and converted my old, mostly dormant Sunday School page into a shiny, gently used We Talk of Holy Things Page! I knew that I should have done this earlier, but now the deed is done so I don't have to beat myself up over it any longer. Here's the link, go like it now!

It's like a portal to Holy-Facebookness. Or at least Thingy-Facebookness.

Seriously, What's Different?

Absolutely nothing.

Well, that's not exactly true. While my posts are still going to be fleshed out here on the blog, and all my quote images are going to be posted here too, it will be nice to see those images on Facebook where they can be shared more easily. Or maybe more discussion will be sparked that way. Or maybe I'll be able to conduct more Facebook polls to see what my readers are up to. Or maybe it will be easier to share microblog-style thoughts!

Maybe this Facebook thing will be revolutionary...

Or maybe it will be hot for a week and then forgotten. Either way, I'm giving it a shot! Remember to like the page on Facebook so you can get the content from this blog delivered strait to the website everyone knows you use most!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Religious Wrong

A BT Sermon

In this video I highlight and discuss a statement made by Henry Sardina at Chapel—well, that and the NBA Playoffs (#GoHeat #HeatNation). It is something I have been saying for YEARS and I felt like I was taking crazy pills the entire time (yes, a Zoolander reference). Here is the quote:
"No law of man has ever put true morality into the heart of man."
- Henry Sardina
Specifically, he calls out the mentality of the religious right which believes their number one priority is to legislate morality by prohibiting gay marriage and abortion in this country. Is that really the Christian's number one priority? In fact, he hits the nail on the head when he refocuses the conversation to love. The Christian should show love. Christ did not come to condemn, where do we get the impression that taking up the mantle means condemnation?

So here's the actual quote and my analysis. Skip to the 11-minute-mark for Holy Things discussion. Enjoy! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

All Your Heart: Strong and Very Courageous

This post is part of a continuing study on The Greatest Commandment
Use that link to read other articles in this series.

Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:5b-9

Courageous Because You Care

With this ongoing discussion of what it means to love The Lord with all your heart, we have focused on the interpretation of "heart" that focuses on what we would call courage. Courage (or boldness) is the virtue which allows one to do what is right in the face of opposition. Clearly, when discussing courage in scripture, one cannot do so without coming across the first chapter of Joshua.

Interestingly enough, the virtue that corresponds with "courage" is humility. Humility is the act of thinking of oneself less while thinking more of God's will and glory. When one looks at their life in light of eternity, it follows that the individual will be emboldened to step out in faith and do what God has commanded. The problem comes when we take our eyes off of God's word and gaze at our circumstances.

As Joshua entered the land, it was imperative that he always remember God's words. Notice words like "careful" and "meditate." These are not impulsive words. These are words that imply deliberation. We are to be deliberate as we study and simply read God's word. Not only are we to be deliberate in the reading of scripture, but we are also to be deliberate as we apply the word to our lives. Be careful when you step, that wherever possible your footfall may be in the direct center of God's will.

Note that God's presence is directly behind the call to be courageous. The Christian also has God's presence as a promise. We are always carrying around within us the dying and resurrected Christ. The life we lead is led in his power. In light of this, why should we be anything but courageous as we live for him? As a result of the presence and power of his love, how could we not respond with courageous love for him?

Finally, realize that courage is nothing less than a command. Courage is not something that you have or don't have, courage is something you do. It's like running. You may or may not consider yourself a runner, but if you laced up your shoes and pounded the pavement, you were just running. Likewise, if you stood up and did something even when it wasn't popular, you were just courageous. God commands us to stand up and live a certain way, even when the world's opinion is contrary.

That's called courage.

That's called loving the Lord with all your heart.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May's Top Five

May was the best month in the HISTORY of WTHT. Thank you guys for reading and commenting and sharing and doing all the things you do with my content. I truly appreciate it. God bless! Here are the things that were most popular during WTHT's best month:

Posts During May

300th Post: Reflection in triplicate:
Jun 17, 2013
1014 pageviews

Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer:
Mar 6, 2013
96 pageviews

May 2, 2014
1 comment
71 pageviews

The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review:
May 1, 2013
54 pageviews

A Boring Winner!:
May 5, 2014
51 pageviews

All-Time Posts

300th Post: Reflection in triplicate:
Jun 17, 2013
5027 Pageviews

The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review:
May 1, 2013
1903 Pageviews

Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!):
Nov 1, 2012
1447 Pageviews

Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer1:
Mar 6, 2013
1180 Pageviews

Thorn of Humanity IV: Nightingale & the Rose:
Sep 19, 2012
451 Pageviews

All Your Heart: Your response to God

This post is part of a continuing study on The Greatest Commandment
Use that link to read other articles in this series.

As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

1 Samuel 13:10-14


If you were to ask what Saul's biggest problem was in comparison with David, what would you answer be? What makes David "a man after God's own heart" while Saul is a man discarded by God?

An obvious answer would have to do with the morality of each man. "David was morally upright while Saul was corrupt." However, while this sounds nice it would also be dead wrong. David has many more moral missteps during his tenure as king than Saul did. In fact, It is hard to find fault with Saul's morality. David was an adulterer who decided that murder was the best way to resolve his adultery—not exactly a high point in morality.

"Intentions. Saul's intentions were evil while David's were pure of heart." Again, a nice idea that does not hold up well when considered against the narrative. Saul's intentions were mostly good—religious, even. Saul's major sins, like the one references in the quoed passage, were made in favor of burnt offerings. Either he disobeyed God so that he could have more stuff to burn on an altar or he disobeyed God by acting as a priest and burning stuff on an altar on his own schedule. His intentions, according to a cursory reading of scripture, was to worship.

I think this passage provides a snapshot of Saul's heart problem and sets the stage for David's superior heart condition. Notice that Saul here caves in to the people's wishes instead of obeying God's command. Saul tries to deflect accountability while clearly making a conscious decision to disobey.

Obedience is not easy. Obedience takes courage.

Enter Goliath

The episode of David and Goliath could easily be viewed through the lens of "David and Saul." Consider how fearful Saul behaves as the perfect foil to courageous David. In every aspect, Saul shows he is afraid while David displays confidence. Here are a few things hat pop out in the story:
  • Saul would not respond to the giant, David wanted to fight him immediately.
  • Saul would have been clad in armor, David goes out with a sling and a few stones.
  • Saul looks at the size of the giant, David looks at the size of his God.
Throughout David's life, he displayed the courage to do what was right. Even in the aforementioned case of adultery and murder, when he was confronted by the Prophet he owned his sin. He did not look for a place to hide. I believe it is in this sense that David was a man after God's own heart. He was not fainthearted, he was able to look at the mirror and blame the man who looked back at him. This was something that Saul never did.

A Courageous Heart

Remember our definition of the heart. When scripture speaks of the heart, sometimes it does so within the domain of the will. When our pride finds itself in direct opposition to God, what are we going to do? How will we react? It takes courage to step up and say I was wrong. It takes courage to be humble when everyone else is trying to craft their brand and curate a positive aura around themselves.

Let us remember that obedience takes courage. Let us, like Joshua, be very courageous as we seek to follow God's word. Let us, like all the saints who have gone before, stand up after we fall and continue following The Lord.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Heart: First Mention

This post is part of a continuing study on The Greatest Commandment
Use that link to read other articles in this series.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved [a]in His heart.

Genesis 6:5 & 6, NASB

Evil Hearts

It behooves us to observe the first instance in scripture that mentions "the heart." In our English Bibles, Genesis 6 is that portion. Here, God looks upon the heart of man and what he sees becomes the catalyst for the destruction of mankind.

Here, we find that a heart can be evil. We also find that our evil hearts bring grief to God's heart. The creator feels a close connection to his creation. He desires to have a relationship with mankind. But holiness cannot mingle with wickedness.

Notice that Noah finds favor in God's eyes according to verse 8. Notice also that scripture does not say his heart was pure or holy or reformed. We know he was righteous, blameless and that he walked with God (v. 9), but we are left to assume that God includes his heart in the initial discouraging assessment.

The difference is that Noah strove for righteousness and blamelessness despite his heart condition. He desired to walk with God. He obeyed God's commands to the best of his abilities. Therefore, though scripture does not come out and tell us that Noah's heart was pure, we can assume that his heart was at least purified by virtue of his relationship with God. All mankind is born with this heart condition. All mankind is given the opportunity to walk with God. However, only a few take up the challenge and respond to God's call.

Heart Intention

Though this passage contains a word translated into English as "heart" it is not the same word used in Dueteronomy 6:5. A short discussion of that portion follows:
Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.” Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

Genesis 20:1-7, NASB
It is interesting that the first time we see this term for heart is in reference to Abimelech. Notice that scripture concerned with the intentions of Abimelech's heart as he attempted to commit sin. This sin that Abimelech would have committed would have been inadvertent, as he had no way of knowing that Sarah was married to Abraham. On the contrary, Abimelech was deceived and made to believe that Sarah was Abraham's sister.

Note what this passage says about God's sense of justice. He realizes that we are frail and may commit evil unwittingly. A sin committed in ignorance is still detestable to God, but his judgement is mitigated by the circumstances. This principle is expounded on in other passages which insist that God is a discerner of hearts. He knows man's true intentions.

Abimelech is given an opportunity to correct his error given new revelation. Abimelech can prove the integrity of his heart by returning Sarah to Abraham, which is exactly what he does. This is also a major theme in scripture: Your sinful character is revealed by God's proclamations, how are you going to respond to it?


Your responses to the things scripture reveals says a lot about your heart and how devoted it is to God. It was true for both Noah and Abimelech. It is also true for you.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All Your Heart: A Definition

This post is part of a continuing study on The Greatest Commandment
Use that link to read other articles in this series.

Defining Terms

We have already completed a rough comparison of the different places in scripture that reference the Greatest Commandment: To love The Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The next logical hermeneutical step is to define our terms. We will do this with each topic when we embark on that study.

NOTE: Since I do not personally read Hebrew or Greek, I rely on study tools like Strong's in order to put this information together.

Old Testament Definition

We begin with Deuteronomy 6:5. The term, in Hebrew, is "lebab," (Strong's 3824) and it occurs 252 times in scripture.
lebab: inner man, mind, will, heart

NASB Translation:
anger (1), breasts (1), conscientious* (1), consider* (5), courage (1), desire (1), encouragingly* (1), fainthearted* (3), heart (185), heart and the hearts (1), heart's (1), hearts (27), hearts like his heart (1), intelligence (1), intended (2), mind (8), purpose (1), thought (1), timid* (1), understanding (2), wholehearted* (1), wholeheartedly* (1), yourself (1).
Notice the range of translations based on context; in addition to a literal translation, sometimes "lebab" refers to the domain of the mind, sometimes of the will, and sometimes of emotion. The breakdown is as follows:
  1. Literal Translation(216)

    * Breasts (1)
    * Heart (185)
    * Heart and the hearts (1)
    * Heart's [possesive] (1)
    * Hearts [plural] (27)
    * Hearts like his heart (1)

  2. Domain of the Mind (19)

    * Consider (5)
    * Intelligence (1)
    * Mind (8)
    * Thought (1)
    * Understanding (2)

  3. Domain of the Will (10)

  4. * Conscientious (1)
    * Courage (1)
    * Desire (1)
    * Fainthearted (3)
    * Intended (2)
    * Purpose (1)
    * Timid (1)

  5. Domain of Emotion (4)

  6. * Anger (1)
    * Encouragingly (1)
    * Wholehearted (1)
    * Wholeheartedly (1)
Reader, you undoubtedly had a few disagreements with the strict placement of some of these terms. I had a bit of difficulty strictly relegating terms to the Domain of the Will instead of Emotion. Specifically courage, desire, fainthearted and timid. This has to do with the ambiguity of language. One can easily place these terms in either category. Courage is both the desicion to do what is right (Will) and feeling emboldened to do right (Emotion). This same interplay between will and emotion is true for the remaining three terms.

The expansive meaning of lebab accounts for the missing "mind" in Deuteronomy 6:5. Here, the one term expresses both the idea of the heart and the mind. We will deal with the mind at a later time. Here, we need to know what is meant by the Heart.

We can safely conclude, once we exclude references to the mind, that The Heart has to do with the development of once's emotions and will. Or, more specifically, how one's perception of their environment (emotions) influences their reaction to their environment (will). When an individual receives a stimulus from their environment, they must react to it in one way or another. One may feel timid, but will they react faintheartedly or courageously? When a person is wronged and anger burns within them will they desire justice or vengeance?

New Testament Definition

Now we turn our attention to the synoptic gospels. The term, in Greek, is "kardia," (Strong's 2588) and it occurs 158 times in scripture.
kardia: heart

heart (102), heart's (1), hearts (49), mind (2), minds (1), quick (1), spirit (1)

[Explanatory note] "the affective center of our being" and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice; see P. Hughs, 2 Cor, 354); "desire-producer that makes us tick" (G. Archer), i.e our "desire-decisions" that establish who we really are.
Note, again, the ambiguity caused by variance in the translations. Again, there is interplay between the term "heart" and "mind." Please note that while I consider the translation of "heart" as literal, scripture rarely refers to a physical heart. Typically, when these terms are translated "heart" it is used figuratively to refer to something deeper than just a blood-pumping organ.

The explanatory note hits at the heart of the issue (pun intended). As "the affective center of our being" it is the part of us that receives input (emotion) and processes output (will). The Greek usage confirms what we have found in the Hebrew translations, that the term "heart" refers to the way an individual receives and reacts to stimuli.

Many English colloquialisms also confirm this interplay between emotion and the will. When someone has their "heart set on something" it means their desires (both will and emotion) are wrapped up in the object. When someone is "heart-broken" it means that they are saddened (emotion) that their expectations (will) did not prove correct. A "disheartened" person is depressed (emotion) because their plans (will) did not come to fruition.


Once again we refer to the explanatory note. Our "desire-decisions" are at stake here in this discussion of the Greatest Commandment. What does our heart long for? Where are the desires of our heart? Where are treasure is, there will our heart be also. Our desires will influence our actions. Scripture effectively ties our emotions in with our will. Do we find pleasure in the things that please God?

Let me know what you think with a comment!

I know I did not get too much into scripture with this post. I intended to keep it semantic and build on these definitions with biblical examples in the coming weeks. What scripture verses did you think of while reading this post? Who in scripture is a good example of heart that loves The Lord and why?
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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