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The other day I saw a comment on my Twitter feed.  It didn’t, for some reason, link to the original post that began the kerfuffle to which I arrived.  The most vocal commenter was ranting about biblical tongues being no more than a distracting, self-induced, self-aggrandizing gibberish, while some others tried without success to reason with the critic.

Later on (while mowing and praying, actually), I formed a general mental retort to that critic; However, a Scripture popped into my head which, in turn, popped my “bubble,” so I purposed to check my Bible (always a good place to start!), which I did that evening.

This took me to First Corinthians 13 and 14, but let’s begin in Acts, Chapter Two, which the critic used as her sole basis for her rant:  (NKJV used except where indicated.)

 “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:4-6).

Her reasoning, based on this single passage, was that anyone within earshot should understand someone “speaking in tongues,” and since she didn’t understand it, it must be fakery.

Rather than here quote huge portions of Scripture, I’ll point you to it and “let your fingers do the walking,” as the old ad used to say.

There are distinct instances of tongues: first, that initial physical evidence of having been filled (or baptized with) the Holy Spirit—separate from the Holy Spirit being received upon being born again. The first is the result of seeking the infilling, Luke 11:13; the other is received at the new birth (John 3:6, 14:16). Second, there is the use of said language to edify oneself (1 Corinthians 14:4), giving personal, private praise and thanks to God.  Lastly—and the critic apparently experienced a misuse of this—is a “message” in tongues given aloud in a gathering of believers. Such a prayer (for that is what it is) must always be directed toward God, and must always be followed immediately by an interpretation so that the assembly may be edified. I repeat: tongues, in whichever situation, is always directed Godward – it is never a message to the flock or to an individual. (1 Corinthians 14:1-33).  That is something else entirely, into which I will not delve here.

One more thing.  Speaking in tongues is always the initial, physical evidence of being “baptized” in the Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures clearly state this in every instance but one, where the language strongly implies it:

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:18-22 KJV).

How did Simon perceive they’d received the Holy Spirit?  I have bolded the word “matter,” above. This is the key.  This word is, in the Greek, logos, or “something said.”

I hope I have given some of my readers food for thought.

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Moved?

I inadvertantly saw a brief portion (I could bear to watch only seconds, and thankfully it has been removed) of a video showing “Pakistani Islamists” beating with sticks a domesticated dog which was hung up by a harness. My emotions were instantly torn between heartbreak for the dog and seething hatred for its tormentors. The face, the eyes especially, of one of the torturers made me think of a demon in the third panel of Bosch’s triptych, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” which depicts a (Dante’s) Inferno-like punishment for past sins.

That, in turn, made me think that even now people are tormented – in their minds, their bodies, their souls – by Satan’s “henchmen.”

It has been said, with respect to a lack of compassion for the lost, that “our eyes are dry because our hearts are dry.” If I but look upon those who do not have faith in Christ, should I not feel for them as much as I did for the animal? Should I not seeth with hatred for the devil’s minions under whose power these folks unknowingly (for the most part) find themselves? Should I not at the very least speak to them, pray for them, and see them illuminated and given the opportunity for freedom?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36- 38).

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A friend shared this on Facebook and gave me permission to share it with you:

I looked up our old house on google satelites because i was feeling depressed. I knew seeing it wouldnt make me feel better. But something in me just wanted to see the town and the place i stayed.

(It’s  not often i post on facebook and even rarer that i share personal thoughts or feelings on it. But i really hope this finds its way to you. It could change your life if you let it.)

As i scrolled around google, checking out the old town, i kept getting more and more sad. Its not you that i miss, or the things we had. I realized that what i was really looking for was Jesus.

Remember the day i got arrested? And remember that night after you bailed me out? We made a promise to serve Jesus for all our days. The months after were so rocky. You quit on your faith fast, but i never said anything. Im sorry for that. You stuck with me through my trial but we were both headed in different directions. During my court case God revealed to me that you wouldnt be apart of my life any longer. I was scared, and you were the only familiar face for me besides my brother. I didnt want to lose you so instead i held on far longer than i should have. Im sorry for that.

I found a great church, not the one i took you to, a different one. I had one amazing experience walking to that hawaiian grill we loved so much. The Holy Spirit took control of me and i began speaking in other tongues…on the side of the road i just broke down on my knees and cried and cried, speaking in a language i dont know.
I moved to nebraska, and then to virginia. Remember how i told you i would end up back here? Lol, crazy the things that has happened!

The first year i was back in virginia was literally the happiest i ever been. I had 4 dollars in my pocket and a smile on my face u couldnt wipe off. My life had purpose again, there was a reason to live.

Slowly though, pride crept in. I thought i could handle things that i couldnt. I began to do my own thing instead of seek council. I became a fool. My priorities changed. It wasnt all at once, very slowly my prayers stopped, and going to church became a chore. I stopped going for months because of the guilt i would get for knowing my life was out of order. I didnt see it like this though at the time.

In my eyes, i was a victim. I blamed God for not being happy. In my mind God stopped giving me power to obey His Word. I blamed everything but myself. And i searched for things to bring me a sense of purpose and completion. I focused on my career for a while, then life became about one person, then games, slowly drinking and then drugs, i tried to keep myself busy with anything as long as it meant i didnt have to face the music of knowing im not living right. If this sounds familiar to you, please i beg, do what i did.

Its been a work in progress these last few months but every day I am rededicating my life to Jesus. Its about not quitting. I worked so hard to hold onto my life only to create a life of pain and misery. Thats the best we can do without Jesus. We can keep ourselves happy for the moment, but dont know how to satisfy our souls. Only Jesus can!

So what i really was looking for on google tonight was that experience i had with Christ, i wanted to be reminded of where my life started. I wanted to revisit and relive the night He poured His Spirit into me. And He has proven faithful time and time again. He has poured His spirit into me, He has forgiven me of my sins. I am a new creature in Him. And this redemptiom is for all!!

Sorry for the novel. But u know me…always have way too much to say about something : )

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In 1982, I took some Bible school courses, among which was “The General Epistles of John.”  This is one of my essays from that course.

And we have known and believed the love God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). I like one of Berry’s translations for the word believed. Using it, the verse could read, “We have known and been entrusted with[i] the love God has (in – upon – into)[ii] us.” We’ve been entrusted with it and are not to receive it from God and bury it within ourselves, like the servant with one talent (Matthew, Chapter 25); but we are to sow it to its increase. It is required that a steward be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). We are to sow forth His love so God will receive the glory and be able to again fill us to running over with His love to our edification, enabling us to love even more until we have come to the point where, moving in perfect koinonia with God, we move in the totality of His love at all time. To overcome the inertia in this area and get the flow started, we must will to act out the Word, in effect pushing the wheel to get it rolling. We must act in the same love with which we have been loved—agapē. Not self-satisfying. Not self-contained. It’s a matter of attitude. As we have received this gift, we are to minister it one to another (Matthew 10:8), “…as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

If we don’t let that love flow, it will stagnate. Any manna (Exodus 16:19) that was stored up against instructions rotted like a compost heap. The fermentation process is a catalytic one which generates heat. Left unchecked, the ultimate end is the complete rotting of the material involved, coupled often with spontaneous combustion—fire. We’ve seen that God is love. God and His Word are one (John 1:1). So, love is the Word. The Word is Jesus (John 1:14). Love is then, Jesus. The manna was a type of Jesus: of Father’s love to us (John, Chapter 6). The admonition not to store up manna, then was a type of the admonition not to “store up” the Word, the love of God, but to live it.

Satan knows the Word. He is in rebellion and tries to pervert it. He has it in him, yet does it not. It has stagnated and decayed within him and will generate enough heat within him to bring forth fire and destroy him (Ezekiel 28:18).

As we love one another, God’s love is perfected (made complete)[iii] in us and He dwells in us (1 John 4:12) and we in Him and we know (ginōskō—knowledge, with a relationship)[iv] Him. His love flows out through us. As with healing, we are the vehicle for God’s power and love to work through. As it flows through us, it perfects us in love and we benefit from the use God makes of us and from the ginōskō and communion we have with Him.

How do we love one another in order to have our love made complete? We “keep His word” (1 John 2:5). We respond the way the Word says to—or with the Word—in all situations, regardless of circumstances, consequences, or emotions. We don’t let pride keep us from acting out the Word. Emotions are sensual. Love is spiritual because God is love and “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). We lay down that pride and do the Word. We lay down all aspects of self (John 15:13) and do the Word.

…for them also which shall believe on me …that they all may be one …one in us …even as we are one …that they may be perfected into one[v] (John 17:20-23). Compare this thought with 1 John 4:16 in the first paragraph.

“Perfection, the absence of sin, starts with perfection, the attitude of the heart that is willing to be corrected with the entire Word of God.”[vi] We are to love our neighbor as ourselves and we begin by loving ourselves (Matthew 19:19; 22:39). This sounds contradictory, but not with a biblical attitude. We love ourselves by insisting that we, ourselves, conform to the image of Jesus, letting it be known that we want correction from brothers and sisters when we are out of line with the Word. We can then insist that our brothers and sisters conform to the Word (1 John 2:10; Leviticus 19:17; 2 Timothy 4:2).

We all know that we are to forgive; but giving rebuke and correction from the Word is as important a part of love as forgiveness. Not sharing the Word with our brethren whenever and wherever we should is loving them less than we love ourselves. In 1 John 3:15, the word hates is miseō, which can also be interpreted “to love less.”[vii] Of one who loves less, it says he is a murderer and does not have eternal life abiding in him. We have to demand that they keep the Word, holding them up, ready to use the name of Jesus on their behalf to change adverse circumstances…we, ourselves, doing the Word. “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). This is very interesting in the Greek. Translated this statement means “Love never fails.” The flesh fails. The things of the world fail. But love, being in God, is eternal.

As he is (love), so are we (love) in this world” (1 John 4:17). When we dwell in love—in the Word—we have God dwelling in us. We have the ability of God in us. We can, then, love like God does; knowing it’s His love expressed through us, we are secure in Him. We don’t have to look for the approval of men. God is not a respecter of persons or position (Acts 10:34). Nor are we to be. We move in his prefect love without any thought of what others might think of us. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Doing love will cause fear to leave.

Our expressed love, one for another, will witness to the world. It will show them who we are in Him. That we are different. That we are His disciplined ones (John 13:35). And I want to be known as belonging to Him. Sure, I want the world to know it; but most of all, I want Him to know it. I can’t really show it by shouting, praising, singing, or praying; through that’s part of it. I can show Him by doing His Word. We all can.

[i] George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament, with the Authorized Version; and A New Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1976); from the lexicon, p. 80.

[ii] Ibid., p. 35

[iii] W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, 1966), p 174.
James Strong, The exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (McLean, no date) p. 71, no. 5048.

[iv] Vine, op. cit., text, pp 297-98.

[v] Berry, op. cit; text, p. 297

[vi] Star Scott, General Epistles of John (Sterling, 1981), tape 19

[vii] Strong, op. cit.; p. 48, no. 3404,

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So, a guy walks into a soda fountain (does anyone remember what they were??) manned by a genie, and says, “Make me a malted!”  The genie goes, “Poof!  You’re a malted!”  (I’m told that’s part of an ancient  – he died 47 years ago – Lenny Bruce routine, but I don’t believe I ever listened to his records.)

That’s not how Christianity works.  Saying you’re a Christian (“Well, I’m not a Jew or a Muslim!”) doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage and saying, “I’m a car, I’m a car, I’m a car,” makes you a car.  It’s not about church attendance either.  Standing in your garage doesn’t make you a car, either.

This conversation started when I watched a short video about a blind beggar and the power of words and wrote the first question, below.

Steve ScottHow do you witness?

Lady Acquaintance Scott – I don’t understand your meaning of “witness” Please explain.

Steve Scott To “Witness Christ” is to share evidence, testimony, of what Jesus has done in your life, with the aim of introducing someone to Him or encouraging another believer. Sometimes, especially in ongoing situations, witnessing occurs by your lifestyle and response to day-to-day situations, the idea being they’ll see Jesus in you.

Lady Acquaintance I’ve had a blessed life with angels that watched over me in times of despair and loneliness. I believe in the existence of souls after death, and testify to this. I’ve been raised to consider others all my life, and attempted to display this in my actions over the years.  I look forward to seeing my family again, and to see Jesus… If this is “Witness to Christ” – then I do.

Lady Acquaintance In regards to sharing my beliefs with others, I do not as a rule. I feel everyone has their own reasons for believing what they do… I recently met a woman a bit younger than me at a restaurant one afternoon, and we sat eating and chatting with each other for several hours. We both felt we had become new friends, and we were very glad we met – Until she mentioned she is Atheist, and told me she will never want me to speak of anything Christian. We had exchanged emails to contact each other infuture, but after having considered what she had said, I felt our friendship could not continue. I choose to tell her how I feel re: this. She told me Ok… I’m sad to find she is without a belief of any kind, but know I would not be comfortable being with her.

Steve Scott Well, the book of Amos (3:3 KJV) says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Once I was a Mason, and they have a rule that one cannot discuss either politics or religion, as they tend toward divisiveness. When I came to know Jesus and what He did for me, and how my life changed afterward (without having to try to change myself), I had to leave that organization since I was prohibited from sharing the good news (gospel) of my conversion.

Lady Acquaintance I understand – My father was a Mason, and proud to be one, but in later years, he was not as active. I regard Masonry as a Social order of men, that has existed for hundreds of years and for the benefit of others. My father had never discussed religion, but he was always a Christian – and had once said, if he attended a Church – the Cornerstone would likely crumble on him! (He had a sense of humor all his own.)

Steve Scott Many people are familiar with a statement made by Karl Marx (I am neither a follower nor a fan), that “religion is the opium of the people,” but they know little of the rest of the quotation, part of which reads that he considered religion the “illusory happiness of the people” as well. I mention this because I do not consider myself “religious,” but to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. To me, religion, as thought of by most folks, is, according to a quote I heard but cannot source, man’s attempt to appease an angry God. If I can do enough good things, follow enough rules, I will dissuade Him from sending me to Hell. Instead, I believe that, being born-again, HE works through me by His grace to subdue my fleshly desires and even when I fall He, through Jesus, forgives my transgressions. The difference between “religion” and being born again is that I have accepted the free gift of Jesus having paid the price for my sin nature. You can hold your tongue over your eyetooth (or perform whatever other religious or socially laudable practice) and the very best you can do will be as “filthy (or menstrous) rags” as Isaiah 64:6 says. As Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV). And, as Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Lady Acquaintance If, as Karl Marx said “Religion is the opium of the people” it has existed for centuries, and will continue in future – along with the evils that exists in the world. “What was once thought to be bad, is now good today, and what was once good, is now bad.” I’m looking for the “Four Horsemen”…

Male Friend Steve, amen! The leaves Adam and Eve wore was man’s first attempt at “religion.”

Male Friend to Lady Acquaintance, there is nothing new under the sun. And: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
How about that? You don’t wanna call anything that was thought bad good.

Lady Acquaintance Michael – Your passage above is the quote from the Bible. Mine was a recollection of the quote, since I haven’t read the bible for years. Thank you…

Steve Scott You’re a Christian, but you haven’t fed yourself with the Word of God in years?? In every man, there are two dogs fighting (the spirit and the flesh). Which one is going to win? The one you feed the most. God and His Word are one (John 1:1). Why wouldn’t you, as a Christian, crave the Word? (Job 23:12)

Lady Acquaintance This is true Steve, I haven’t attended a church for years. I did go with friends to several church classes to hear their pastor read passages from the Bible, and instruct us in the interpretation of it, as they believe it to be. Until he mentioned he does not believe in the Trinity – then he lost me. I do believe in the Trinity – since I had attended Catholic church with my grandmother as a child, and attending a Catholic service is far more familiar to me. I thanked my friends for inviting me to go with them, but will not attend a church that I’m not comfortable following their beliefs. This includes the Catholic Church also, so remain uncommitted to any of above – but still a Christian.

Male Friend If you haven’t fed yourself the Word, or you haven’t been fed the unadulterated Word from the pulpit–in years–then how can you live by it, seeing you’ve forgotten (presumably) more than half of it? This doesn’t make for a biblical Christian. You’re not really a Christian because you’re not living the Word. Please don’t take this negatively. Just want you to see how subtle a lie like this has developed into thinking you’re a Christian while not living like one. A nice (?) tactic of Satan. A Christian is a doer of the Word… not just a hearer. Takes more than belief to be a Christian, because the devils also believe, and yet, they’re the ones who tremble. And it’s easy to do the Word… because God does the work, not you… but your part is in obedience to the Scriptures: to do the Word is to be one with with it.. That’s why you won’t forget it like you just did here.

Male Friend I used to be backslidden for some years. I know what it’s like to forget the Word. If you forget the Word, you’re actually forgetting Jesus, because Jesus’ other name is the Word of God. So, the way you treat the Word is the way you’re treating Jesus Himself. My return is best exemplified by God’s seemingly endless mercy. That’s why I love God for it.

Lady Acquaintance I understand your thinking of reading the bible thru the years, and I haven’t done this. However, I still do believe that I’m a Christian, since I follow His teachings within me.

As you can see, neither my male friend nor I have been able to make our point with our lady friend.  Did we make it with you?

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The above title is from an article on WTOP.com by RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer. The “Jeff” mentioned below is Jeff Chu, mentioned in the article.

The term “evangelical” is generally accepted to mean Christians who share their faith with others in the hope that those others will come to believe in the Jesus Christ of the Bible. “Gay evangelical (Christian)” is an oxymoron, because just like any other sin described in the Bible, those who continue to practice (and encourage others to do so) any of the enumerated sins, to defend themselves instead of repenting of their sins, are not, according to the Bible, entitled to call themselves Christians, but are, in fact, a danger to the rest of the flock and, as wolves, are to be put out to protect the flock. Yes, Jeff, Jesus loves (and loved) you enough to die for your sins. (Yes, like me, you’re a sinner. You’re not a victim.) He also wants you to repent of them. It’s the least you could do in return.

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Reflections

Because I kind of liked Andy Rooney’s discourses, I was going to go for THE CHRISTIAN CURMUDGEON, but the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines a curmudgeon as “An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.”  While it’s not perfect, The Macmillan Dictionary’s definition of “crusty” reflects a little bit about how today’s society affects me:  “easily annoyed.”

I am thankful that my relationship with Jesus has changed my heart, and that most things do not lastingly affect me in a bad way.  Although money (mammon) was once my god, even though I may feel the occasional fiduciary twinge—especially with what our Government is doing to our economy—I have found that I simply don’t worry.  God does indeed have a plan, and although I don’t know the day-to-day details I know that I’m in His hands and that He has my best interests at heart (though my flesh might not readily agree), and I know where I’m eventually going and can’t seem to stay worked up about happenings here.  Nonetheless, the darts do often pique my thoughts, so I’ve elected to share them.  I hope some of my reflections may strike a chord with at least some who might read my meanderings.  Please drop by from time to time, read my posts, and share your thoughts on the matter(s).

Steve

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