Category: _Spiritual Muse
I was talking with a couple of my good friends last night and they invited me to go to a concert with them. I had bible study last night and told them that I would love to go, but that I'd prefer to go to my bible study. This brought on the discussion of my bible study. "So, what is it?" my friend asked. After rambling for a bit about how the bible study functions and such, the conversation led to the question, "What is prayer?".
One of my friends brought up the scripture, "pray without ceasing" in regards to a comment I made. Neither of my friends are Christians, and it was fun to be able to talk about my faith without feeling that I was being judged, or judging them. It was just curiosity giving way to discussion, hopefully feeding respect (on both ends). Anyhow, the "pray without ceasing" reference made me state that without understanding what "prayer" was, the statement "pray without ceasing" is useless. I shared with them that a lot of Christians often use the idea of prayer as a cop-out to avoid real questions, or responsiblity, and that "prayer" needs to be defined before we choose what we will do with the word. This made me think of what I believe prayer to be, and I couldn't answer it outside of a generic answer at that time, so I didn't. I am the type that will think long and hard about things that I deem very important, rather than say the first thing that comes to my head. I am worried that I will cloud truth with my own agenda (which I do at times). So after thinking about it long and hard, I have come up with something fragile, something possibly wrong, but honest, nonetheless.
Prayer is a mindset
Not saying you shouldn't pray to God intentionally in form of conversation, but when I am closest to God, he is at the forefront of my mind in everything. He is the filter which I choose to see and experience everything in my life. I am not there as often as I should be, but often enough to know what it feels like even in times when I have not allowed God to be there.
Prayer, in it's most basic form, constant communion with God, is a state of mind
This is the only thing right now that I would feel comfortable saying to describe prayer to a friend of mine who does not believe in the God I believe in. And I love how my friends, Christian and non-Christian, enrich my life in such amazing ways, even through 15 minute conversations.
Read this statement and decide if you agree with it or disagree with it. Think about it before you draw a conclusion, you might be surprised.
The sooner the whole world learns to do things the way we do, the sooner all the people of the world will be able to understand each other better.
You can leave a comment with your answer if you wish, I'd love to hear what you have to say.
I was in a very deep conversation with a friend of mine the other day. Something was said that stuck out very vividly that seems really obvious but is blindingly profound.
"The only thing that we can all agree on, is that we all honestly think we are right"
The context was of various religions and faith systems. I, as a Christian, honestly believe that I know something that people who aren't Christians don't know. I want them to experience it, but I can't force it upon them, they have to find it on their own. On the same breath, people of other faiths could say the exact same thing. They honestly believe that the have "it", whatever "it" is. So how do I know that I am the one who is right? I can't answer that without going back to faith, and faith is not an easily explained thing. The cycle continues.
The idea that I have something that others don't have seems fine from my perspective. But from the other side it could seem as the most arrogant statement possible. Which is scary.
I could accidently make someone feel small and insignificant just by trying to articulate how immensely wonderful and life changing my faith in God is.
So my mind trailed off on a little jaunt this morning in the direction of how the world might percieve some of our Christian idioms. It seems we have our own separate language at times, "Are you saved?", "Washed by the blood of the lamb?", and so on and so forth. The thing that bothers me is that we as Christians are more than ready to use our inside language with people who aren't Christians, AND EXPECT THEM TO UNDERSTAND US?! How do u think someone should react if you walked up to them and asked if they have recently bathed in the blood of a farm animal? I personally would turn around and walk the other way, swiftly. I think this whole separate language thing is cool on some levels and very dangerous on other levels. We need to think about what we say before we say it, especially to someone who has not spent time in our culture, which can be very exclusive.
So back to my title.
Here are a couple of factual statements according to the Christian faith:
A- Jesus was the Son of God.
B- We are all God's children.
So without any background knowledge I could deduce that Jesus is my brother.
But wouldn't that negate the idea that Jesus was the one and only Son of God? Heresy!
God, what do you want from me? I feel stuck between a dream and an apathetic reality. Is the dream possible? Or is it unattainable and irresponsible?
Thank you for this yearning, the more I feel it, the more I feel the possibility of it becoming reality. Keep 'em coming, and intensify them please.
Still working on Phillipians 3:10-11
I want to know Christ
and the power of his ressurrection
and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering
to become like him in his death
and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Every line of these two verses is so weighted that anything other than a line by line explanation is unjust. But, I'm at work, so that will come later
I also finally got a chance to have a conversation with my pastor, Luke, regarding a lot of things that have been on my mind and tugging at my spirit. It was wonderful to finally perge some of what was driving me crazy. We are going to start meeting on a weekly basis, which I am super-excited about. Weird things are happening, I can't explain them, they are scaring the crap out of me, and I love it.
All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life
All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life.
All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Arabic Life Application Bible
وَغَايَتِي أَنْ أَعْرِفَ الْمَسِيحَ وَقُوَّةَ قِيَامَتِهِ وَالشَّرِكَةَ فِي آلاَمِهِ؛ وَالتَّشَبُّهَ بِهِ فِي مَوْتِهِ،عَلَى رَجَاءِ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ بَيْنِ الأَمْوَاتِ!
Russian Synodal Version:
чтобы познать Его, и силу воскресения Его, и участие в страданиях Его, сообразуясь смерти Его, 1чтобы достигнуть воскресения мертвых.
Louis Segond (French)
Afin de connaître Christ, et la puissance de sa résurrection, et la communion de ses souffrances, en devenant conforme à lui dans sa mort, pour parvenir, si je puis, à la résurrection d'entre les morts.
Still working on memorization:
Phillippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Phillippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or argueing.
2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
DO NOT DO ANYTHING SELFISHLY! HUMILITY Being humble. Consider everyone better than yourself, even ppl u don't like, or don't respect, or treat u like dirt, or treat other ppl like dirt. Ppl that walk on other ppl, consider them better than yourself! How? I understand where Paul is going with this, but it is crazy to think of the possibilities. Consider thieves better than yourselves. Consider abusive husbands better than yourselves, consider child abusers etc. Ouch, how? Why? Why would I consider a molester better than myself? The first half of the verse is wonderful, the second half sounds nice when taken at face value, but when you really contemplate it, it appears to be a bit ludicrous. Then again, so was most of what Christ taught us. Consider rapists better than yoursleves because that is what Christ did. Seems almost counter-productive. Do nothing out of selfish ambition. That means more than just "Don't be selfish". It implies a lot more than that. Definition of "ambition": An eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power. American culture puts "ambition" as one of the most highly sought after qualities in a person, can ambition be separated from selfish ambition? I hope so. But as the ending of the def. goes, "such as fame or power" looks a bit ingrained. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. So don't do anything selfishly, or with the intent of selfish acquisitions. So don't do anything unless it is selfless, not sure if there is a neutral ground here. Is there bad, neutral, and good, or is neutral lying on the side of good? I think of Mother Theresa and Mahatma Ghandi. Their lives seemed to embody this verse to a "T". On the other end of the spectrum, Hitler consider himself, or his race (which he wasn't even part of) to be better than everyone else, and he did everything he did for vanity or selfishness. Ghandi lived an extremely selfless life with the purpose of human rights and, ultimately, love and peace. Mother Theresa lived her life serving God and the impoverished, never asking for anything in return, not even a vacation or anything. Ok, Just thought of another example, the writer of this verse! Paul is one of the greatest men to ever live in my opinion, selfless, devoted to God and spreading the Kingdom of God, but before his good times he was Saul, the exact opposite of this verse, a legalistic pharisee who hated Christ's followers. What an extraordinary witness, someone who has actually lived both lives! We are not being given instructions from someone who grew up in the Christian church, who thinks this is a good way to live, we are being told from someone that has personally experienced both sides of the circle, and knows which is best with no argument. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing.
Stop whining, America. I was raised in a culture of rights, I have the right to do this, I have a right to do that, I have a right to say whatever I want, I have a right to complain. That is what it seems to boil down to sometimes, the right to complain. I feel Americans have too many rights, we have so many that we think we are all royalty. This is all just a minor irritation to some extent. However, Christians don't have rights! I believe that when I became a Christian, I gave up my rights to God when he entered my heart. I no longer hold the key to my being, and I don't think that I "have the right" to a lot of things. I have the right to trust in God, and to trust that he will take care of me. I don't have the right to whine about everything, because I don't see any good in it. I am very guilty of this though, and I won't try to hide it. I can honestly say that what I believe, is not always what I practice, but I am working on it. Do everything without complaining or arguing. I complain more than I should, not a ton, but I could definitely be more aware of what I am saying at times. Arguing is another shortcoming of mine. I am very persuasive, and I enjoy a good disagreement at times. I'm not sure if that is what Paul is talking about here, because it really doesn't seem to be wrong. He might be referring to destructive arguing, or perhaps pointless arguments that are a waste of time. I would say that there is a definite difference between a healthy debate, and a pointless/destructive argument. Do everything without complaining or arguing. When I read about martyrs, I NEVER read anything about them whining about their situations, even when being tortured. They are always patient even with their captors. This is hard to comprehend, but the closer my walk with Christ becomes, the more I understand it, maybe some day I will experience this extreme love and grace firsthand. How do you love someone as they are pulling off your fingernails? I doubt I would even be close to that strong in a time of even much less suffering. I hope to be that strong someday. I don't want to complain about my problems, especially when people are dying, or worse yet, being tortured because they simply love Christ and won't deny him. How small am I now? Do I have the "right" to complain about anything? no.