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?

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Harmony of the Greatest Commandment

The Best

I'm beginning a study on The Greatest Commandment over the summer. Therefore, I will likely begin posting information coming from my studies on the topic. I will begin (now) with generic talk about the passage as a whole. My starting point will be Mark 12:29 & 30, where Jesus states that the greatest commandment is as follows:
“The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’"

(New American Standard Bible)
After general comments, I will begin addressing the following questions monthly:
  1. What does it mean to love The Lord with all your heart?
  2. What does it mean to love The Lord with all your soul?
  3. What does it mean to love The Lord with all your mind?
  4. What does it mean to love The Lord with all your strength?

The Background Stuff

When studying (anything, but specifically scripture) it is important to have a clear picture of how the two main verses you are interested in fit in with the rest of scripture. All cross-references should be inspected to highlight both differences and similarities in each scenario. The obvious reference is the one that Jesus quoted in Deuteronomy 6:5, but this incident is reported in each of the synoptic gospels. The references in question are as follows:
  • Deuteronomy 6:5
  • Matthew 22:37
  • Mark 12:30
  • Luke 10:27
Each reference is slightly different. Clearly, everything about Deuteronomy is different than the incidents in the Gospels. Matthew and Mark are the most similar. Luke stands out as unique in its own right. This exercise in comparison and contrast may or may not highlight significant differences. However, it affords a degree of familiarity with the passage in question.

The Elements

The most obvious elements in this topical study is the presence and order of the topics in question. Notice that the gospels add the "mind" topic which is not present in the Old Testament text. Notice also that the order of the topics are shuffled somewhat. Again, it is not a big issue. Just something to be aware of.

Next, look at context within the passages. We take note of the action surrounding these verses. The elements we consider are as follows:
  • Speaker: Who is talking?
  • Audience: Who are they talking to?
  • Narrative: Where does this take place in the story?
  • Pre-Context: What happens before?
  • Post-Context: What happens After?
Once we are clear on these things, then we can delve into deeper analysis of the text. After deeper analysis, we can begin with applications.


Here is a pdf of this comparison. Check it out and be sure to a) correct any mistakes I made and b) suggest any more elements we could compare/contrast between these passages. How can you do this? Just leave me a comment below!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Boring Winner!

And the Winner is...

Craig Fritchey

Congratulations Craig! I will do my best to get this book into your hands as soon as I possibly can. In lieu of promoting his own blogs, Twitter, etc., he asked that I link-up with his employer's Social Media Channels. Craig works for Christian Missions in Many Lands (CMML), an organization that strives to meet the needs of missionaries and promote the gospel throughout the world. Their Social Media sites can be found here:
A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated, commented and shared during this give away. I encourage you to keep reading, keep growing and keep thinking!

Friday, May 2, 2014


"Most of us would acknowledge that going to church is a positive thing, and yet very few of us can articulate why. We come, in the end, because we think we are supposed to. The problem is that 'supposed to' will only get you so far." (176)
Michael Kelley
Boring: Finding an extraordinary God in an ordinary life

Go to Church

This was another chapter that struck me in this book. (All the chapters are good, just these particular ones struck me uniquely enough to merit their own post.) People are leaving the church (by this I mean in attendance) at an astounding rate. They cite everything from spiritual reasons (I can worship by myself), to political reasons (that party failed me), to personal reasons (that lady is annoying). Toss in there a loss of faith (converted to X religion) and you have the whole picture.

At times, their rationale seems very convincing. What kind of argument do we have to keep professing Christians in the church anyways? How do we argue with someone who has valid, personal reasons for deserting the church and pursuing a personal relationship with God? Michael Kelley has this to say:
"When the Bible describes how we interact with Jesus, we don't find the term 'personal relationship with Christ' anywhere in its pages. Sure, the ideas are there, but the terminology is absent. Terminology like that is neither helpful nor biblical, for it increases our already present tendency to isolate our experiences with God." (177)
Michael Kelley
Boring: Finding an extraordinary God in an ordinary life

It is that simple. Particularly here in America (though I'm not sure Europe is doing all that hot either, maybe one of my readers can enlighten me in the comments section. I know you're out there!) we have a very personal outlook on life. This is my land, my home, my food, my fill-in-this-blank. It stems from the self-reliance and work ethic of puritanism (to simplify the argument for this blog post's sake) and permeates our current culture. But should these personal holdings affect our ability to contribute to society?

A friend of mine used to put it this way, "The problem is not with a personal relationship with Jesus. It's fine to have a personal relationship. But it was never meant to be a private relationship." Hence, the problem is we state that we have a personal relationship with Jesus and confuse it for a private one.

Private relationships require no social interaction...
...or correction...
...or instruction...
...or accountability...
...or contribution...

It is these elements and many more that are found in healthy, thriving churches. But healthy, thriving churches need committed members who are ready to take on the boring tasks of every day commitment—no matter how much we disagree with Brother X, or think Sister Y smells, or how tacky Brother Z's tie is, or whatever spiritual concept you are struggling with. We need each other, and Christ wants us to help each other.

Church is not for the lost. Church is for the redeemed. Doesn't scripture say something about iron sharpening iron?

Give Away

This will be your last chance to enter and potentially win this book for FREE. I'm picking a winner tomorrow and announcing soon thereafter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enhanced by Zemanta
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

Mailing List