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#deeper faith | Vox Clamantis In Deserto

Love Your Neighbor *as* Yourself

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Christ’s ‘great commandment’ instructs Christians to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ […and to] ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV). This summation, of course, recompiles a few Old Testament passages, notably, Leviticus 19:18 (“love your neighbor as yourself.”) A week or so ago I commented on another professor’s blog post that loving our neighbor *as* ourselves means that we must love ourselves equally as others. By way of example, a battered spouse should not remain with an abusive partner because, no matter the love for the partner, the battered spouse must love the self as much as the other. A loving parent does not place a beloved child in harm’s way so neither should a loving self place a beloved self in harm’s way. Today my eyes were opened to another implication of Mark 12:31.Continue Reading

God and Dice

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Understanding the Trinity Is Like Looking At Dice
Albert Einstein famously said (and Stephen Hawking famously repeated) that “God does not play dice with the universe,” but perhaps dice are marvelous illustrations for understanding the trinity.Continue Reading

Visión

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Hoy noche yo encontré unas palabras sueltas de muchos años atrás. Leyeron: cuando se pierde la vista, la visión viene.

A timely reminder

On Mistreatment

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The biggest difference between Christ and most Christians is that Christ didn’t mistreat people. George Carneal

Working Diligently But Exercising Faith

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It has been said that a Christian believer cannot be in faith and in fear at the same time. Some say that fear indicates an absence of faith, but that would not seem to be borne out by scripture. Many patriarchs of the faith have stepped out in faith even though they were still afraid. God’s call to Gideon (Judges 6-8) is a perfect example. Gideon resisted God’s mission because of Gideon’s social standing, but God said something very interesting to him: “Go in the strength you have” (Judges 6:14 NIV). Here, God does not say to Gideon that he should sit back and watch God do all the work, but rather that Gideon should avail himself of, and even employ, the abilities that God placed within him.Continue Reading

Yahweh, Jehovah, & Adonai

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I learned a little Arabic in 2022. The classes ended abruptly so I did not progress as far as I had expected. My graduate studies included linguistics that were heavily Indo-European (duh, I speak English, Spanish and French). Of course any linguistics curriculum includes an overview of other language families, and that once-extraneous knowledge of Semitic languages quickly made a lot of sense. It probably also accelerated my uptake. It definitely connected dots which I could apply to Hebrew.Continue Reading

Lorie Smith, What Would Jesus Do?

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Does anyone remember the WWJD wristbands from the 1990s? Jesus opposed all that the pharisees stood for, yet he welcomed them into his gatherings. If they were not among the attendees, how were they have been there to pose questions to him? They tried to compel his speech about paying taxes to Caesar (Mt 22:17, Mk 12:14, Lk 20:22). But what did Jesus do? He got creative and avoided the very words that the Pharisees expected put in his mouth. Whether it is baking a cake or designing a wedding website, can we not love these neighbors as ourselves? Should a Christian refuse to love her neighbors by withholding alms from homeless lesbians? Should the Christian who pulls off the road to assist stranded motorists drive away when he adduces them to be homosexually-wedded men? Not every Christian is sufficiently spiritually mature to implement what I propose here, but why can’t Christians design a wedding website or cake while engaging in genuine loving prayer for the customer-celebrants? And shouldn’t a Christian do that for every such customer, even the heterosexual ones? Indeed, can the designer not imprint a resonant verse like “God Is Love”? (1 John 4:8,16) Does that not avoid the issue, love our neighbor, and plant a highly memorable seed that the Holy Spirit can cultivate over time? Tragically, high profile battles like Creative, LLC, and Masterpiece Cake Shop only injure Christianity’s message. I’m relieved that SCOTUS preserved free speech protections, but I wish this case had never been brought.

El Poder de Una Sola Palabra del Señor

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UNA SOLA PALABRA…..de Dios puede cambiar todo.

UNA SOLA PALABRA…..de nosotros puede negarle permiso. Cuando nosotros andamos hablando de nuestros problemas (en efecto afirmándolos, ensalzándolos), nos damos puñales a nuestra fe. Enfoquémonos pues en El Omnipotente quien–con una mera sílaba–puede derribar la montaña al valle para hacer camino plano por medio de lo visto y lo escondido.

UNA SOLA PALABRA del Señor vale más del vocabulario entero de nosotros. ¿Podemos nosotros callarnos para darle a Él el foro de hablar?

Can Anything Happen Without the Lord’s Permission? (Part 1)

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Lamentations 3:37 of the New Living Translation reads: “Can anything happen without the Lord’s permission?1 As a starter, I want to point out that “permission” is different than direction. In a very real sense, “permission” simply means that something is allowed but not necessarily commanded. In other words, to say that nothing happens without God’s permission is, at a minimum, a statement that nothing happens without God’s awareness. This also suggests a potentially inferable consent for if an adverse event were completely intolerable or anathema to God’s plan then one could believe that God would intervene.Continue Reading

My Grace Is Sufficient (for you?)

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Most Christians are familiar with the “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan” that tormented the Apostle Paul (II Cor 12:7 KJV). Just before this, Paul wrote at length about all the glories that he had experienced as a minister of the Gospel (an implied subtext being that he would never have experienced such things as a passionate, but lifeless pharisee). “Three different times [Paul] begged the Lord to take it away” (II Cor 12:8 NLT). This juxtaposition of highs and lows sounds a whole lot like someone struggling with self-doubt.Continue Reading

Happy Holidays, Mr. President

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President Trump is making an issue of saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”

So here’s the thing: when I was an adolescent, I too made an issue of saying “Merry Christmas” and that begs a comparison to President Trump’s petulant soapbox (i.e. is he playing a political angle or just acting immaturely?).Continue Reading

The Purpose of Prayer

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Not too long ago I found myself in a discussion with Puerto Rican pastor about prayer. I dare say that most Christians believe that prayer changes our circumstances, but I say that prayer is designed to change our perceptions.Continue Reading

But David Strengthened Himself

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1 Samuel 30:6 is often quoted to those of us going through great turmoil. But it is indeed a very difficult thing to do as King David did after losing his family and home in the face of imminent insurrection by his men! So how exactly does one “strengthen [oneself] in the Lord”?Continue Reading

De dónde vienes y adónde vas?

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Génesis 16 nos cuenta la historia de Abram, Sarai, y Agar quien era la sierva de la yerma Sarai. Sarai llegó a tratarla mal hasta que Agar huyó. Más tarde el Ángel del Señor le habló diciendo, “de dónde vienes y adónde vas?” Lo interesante es que la interrogación salta las preguntas más obvias de “dónde estas” y “qué haces.”

En un sentido, la interrogación propuesta es muy reveladora del enfoque divino. Cristo vino para llevar al mundo de un lugar a otro sin dilatar en la jornada . En otras palabras, nuestra ubicación y nuestra ocupación son de menor importancia con tal de que vayamos ganando terreno en nuestros caminos.

Sin embargo, Agar respondió “estoy huyendo de mi señora” al cual el Ángel dijo que regresara a Sarai. La respuesta de Agar responde sólo en parte a la pregunta puesta. Ella si contesta la primera parte, “de dónde vienes,” pero en vez de decir adonde iba, ella identificó lo que hacía. Así es para todos nosotros, si andamos sin idear primero un destino, andamos sin dirección y sería mejor quedarnos en dónde El Señor nos hubo puesto anted, y esperar que el espíritu nos imparte un plan y un destino.

On Faith

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Be it unto me according to my faith and be my faith unto me according to your faithfulness. Vox

More Enthusiasm for Sport Than for One’s “Neighbor”?

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I just stumbled upon a 1970s or 1980s Billy Graham crusade. He said: “here in this stadium when you have a football game, if you’re really for Texas Tech you’re really gonna shout loud when they make a touchdown and the man who loves his neighbor the most will fight all that hurts and deprives and oppresses his neighbor. Paul said, ‘who is offended and I burn not?'”Continue Reading

God Isn’t the Author of Confusion?

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Many years ago someone whipped out the “God is not the author of confusion” line on me to justify her position. In the moment I disagreed with her application of the principle, but I could not soundly refute it either. I failed to recognize the logical fallacy; she failed to consider the implications of her statement.Continue Reading

In Gloriam Dei

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Sive ergo manducatis sive bibitis vel aliud quid facitis, omnia. in gloriam Dei facite. AD Corinthios I 10:31

God Is Love (but what does that mean?)

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Christians are quick to quote 1 John 4:8b that “God is love” but how often is this quoted in a self-serving, self-affirming manner? By this I mean in the first that when going through a rough stretch in the road of life, is professing that “God is love” just a way for the sufferer to revive hope that s/he is not utterly alone? Conversely in the second, is saying “God is love” just an excuse wielded to excuse the adherent from demonstrating love for his/her neighbor? Such a Christian believer might inwardly believe that it is God’s love that summons the unbeliever to believe and that the believer’s love for the unbeliever is of no consequence whatsoever. Both these and any other conceptualizations are completely and totally incongruous with the text.Continue Reading

On Loving Others

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If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu

On Trusting God

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I don’t understand this, but I understand you. Vox

Can Anything Happen Without the Lord’s Permission? (Part 2)

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Two verses have been on my mind again these last two or three days. The first is John 19:11—”You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above“—and Lamentations 3:37—”Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” (NIV–1978). Another more modern translation, and the one that I really want to focus on, renders Lamentations 3:37 as “Can anything happen without the Lord’s permission?” (NLT–1996).Continue Reading

God Is Deep, Not Complex

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Service to Almighty God is not complicated, but there is so much more depth to God than Christians understand (or even want to understand). God is not just a happiness giver. For many, Christianity means a successful marriage, a happy family, adequate economics, protection from death. For many Catholics, Christianity (rightly) means accepting the bad with the good. This is all shallow Christianity. God is so, so much deeper, deeper but not complicated. God does not require ceremony and tradition (Psalm 51:17 “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”). God is all that we believe to be the nature and character of God. But God is deeper than what we shallowly understand. God is an existence where our own existence becomes insignificant. Walking with God is a state where nothing else even enters our thoughts, a state where we wish we could vaporize and meld with no thought for what is behind because every possible desire is satisfied in God Most High.

Ceder Plaza al Generalísimo

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Hay pocos versículos que logran a captar sencillamente la maravilla de nuestro Señor omnipotente, pero aquí hay uno: “Moisés dijo al pueblo: No temáis; estad firmes, y ved la salvación que Jehová hará hoy con vosotros; porque los egipcios que hoy habéis visto, nunca más para siempre los veréis.” (ÉXODO 14:13 RV1960)

O hermanos, que poderoso es nuestro Generalísimo Guerrero cuando nosotros le cedemos su plaza!

On Understanding God’s Working

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God is often doing the most when you understand it the least. […] There’s a lot of things that are unexplainable, but there’s also a lot of things that are undeniable. Chris Lindberg

Adam and Eve

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According to the Genesis (chapter 2) account in which Eve was “extracted” from Adam, that means Adam was the biological sum of man and woman. So Adam became man simultaneously with Eve becoming woman. Man and woman were thus created simultaneously, not sequentially. Man is not preeminent over woman.

The Purpose of Miracles

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The Apostle Paul taught that signs and wonders were for the unbelievers that they might believe. While believers certain reap benefits of miracles such as healing, the manifestation of miraculous signs were not intended to be a sign to the unbeliever of God’s existence as an omnipotent deity unlike other false gods of his day. Since believers already understand this, the working of miracles certainly benefits them, but the performance of miracles as a sign was for the unbeliever.  What exactly is this supposed to mean…that God runs a dog-and-pony show? Of course not!Continue Reading

Iron Chariots

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What are the iron chariot in our lives? To what extent do we deny ourselves our birthright?

In Judges 17:16 we read that the descendants of Joseph were too numerous to reside only in the hill country “but all the Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots.”

But Joshua responded “Clear as much of the land as you wish, and take possession of the farthest corners. And you will drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.”

Our iron chariots aren’t obstacles; they are the objective such that when we are strong enough to defeat the chariot we will be strong enough to exercise dominion in the promised land.

Deathbed Salvation

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Many non-believers scoff at the notion of deathbead salvation. Some consider it unjust, a self-serving means to an end, or an act of fear. But ultimately it makes perfect sense if one understands the subtext of salvation which is not simply the avoidance of punishment for our musdeeds but rather restoration of humankind to fellowship with God. The essence of homo sapien’s free will is that we choose everything on the spectrum of life choices from career and criminality. And everyone’s choices reflect a personal journey toward enlightenment. For some, wisdom comes naturally while for others wisdom comes stubbornly. Regardless of how fast or how slow and how naturally or how stubbornly it comes, ultimately God is simply looking for us to come to a point where we acknowledge that we are but mere mortals whose greatest function is to worship the one and only supreme God of the universe. That is what salvation is: humbling ourselves from our own self-constructed pinnacle of intellect. It is a conscious admission that we must realize out of our free will. Salvation only requires this one act of humble worship. Whether it takes a lifetime to reach this conclusion does not negate its efficacy.

Joseph and Esther

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For about two years now I’ve been incubating a post on Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20 (“you meant evil against me but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”) There are a plenty of other stoic agents of change, but tonight I was struck by the similarity of Mordecai’s words to Esther: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV).