Friday, May 19, 2017

No Other Name

Courtesy Pixabay.com
I have been reading my Bible a lot more lately thanks to a little app called YouVersion. I really love it. It is a Bible app but it has these really good Bible studies written by various people. So far, they've been very good and it has got me started on forming a habit.

Every morning I get my coffee and sit down to enjoy it while I read my Bible studies. I always have two or three going. Each day's study varies in length and each study is from one day to a year long. I usually select those of different length. This results in rotation so that every few days I'm starting a new one while finishing up one. Some of them also contain recorded sections where there is a prayer through Abide, another app. You don't have to have both apps, however.

Anyway, I've been really enjoying them. Last week I started one called Praying the Names of God, by Ann Spangler, and it, like most, was based on a book by the same name. She wrote this study as well and it contained a recorded prayer. In this study, she is teaching how we should pray the Biblical names of God. I followed along and enjoyed hearing about the meaning of Elohim. Then she started to pray and I closed my eyes to pray along.

In the middle of this prayer, something happened that rarely happens to me. I heard a voice. I can't say that it would have been audible to anyone else had they been with me, but it was very clear to me. I heard it with perfect clarity and it stopped me in my tracks.

"There is no other name given, under heaven, whereby men must be saved." That is a paraphrase from Acts 4:12. I opened my eyes and turned off the prayer immediately. But He wasn't done.

"There is no reason to pray any name except the name of Jesus.And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." That's from Colossians 3:17. I didn't know the chapter and verse at that point. All I heard was the Word.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14."

I turned off the app and deleted that particular Bible study immediately. I won't bother with that one again. I was very uncomfortable at what happened and I sat for a long time thinking. For example, the "names" she talks about are actually words that describe the attributes of Jehovah or Yahweh in the Jewish faith. We say "God". But even God isn't a name. Many cultures have a "god". They have names. The words this study is using as names aren't names either. I suppose you can call them names but they're not. Elohim means strong one and is a plural noun but the Jews use it in the singular. Jehovah Jireh is another one. It means Jehovah will provide. So, Jireh is not a name but rather an adjective that describe one of God's attributes. Jehovah Rapha is the God that heals. Again, not a name but an adjective describing his ability.

I'm not Jewish. I'm a Christian. And clearly, what hit me between the eyes is that I don't need to be praying in this manner, using a bunch of adjectives because I want to "tap into" some special power. I'm instructed very clearly to pray using one name and one only.

"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, Philippians 2:9-10"

I don't know this author. I have nothing against her.  I haven't read her book. She may be a very wonderful, sincere person. I only know I've been given a name above every name ever known and all the power of heaven is in that one name. To pray any other name would be disobedient and a bit idolatrous.

One thing I can tell you is that when I received this ... message I wondered how many other people are following this method of prayer. I realized that even that is covered in the Word. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatian 1:8."

Always stick to the Word for instruction. Following every new fad is not safe when you're dealing with spiritual matters. I'm so thankful that the Lord halted my spirit in this. Because that is what it was. When I read the study it didn't really seem a problem. It wasn't until she began to pray that I was jerked up short. I'll be honest, it scared me a bit. God hasn't ever done that to me that I can recall. I suppose that is a good thing. I don't want him to have to do it again. But I'm glad he will if he needs to do so.






Saturday, April 22, 2017

Meanderings With a Point

Are you there?

....

Hello?

....

{sigh}

You know, it is pretty silly to ask someone in the room with you if they're there.

Ah. Right. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Not funny.

It's been one of those weeks. Thursday was good.

I saw that. You were very busy. 

We should probably talk about the weather.

Nonsense. Boring topic. Weather is just weather. It happens.

Yes, but in my sphere, that has a whole other meaning. It really happens. Physically.

You know, I'm sorry about that. 

....

Yes, well, as I said, the weather is boring and also an uncomfortable subject. What did you actually want to talk about?

I don't know for sure. We haven't had a real chat for a while. I mean... I pray... but these post, well, they give me a lot of pleasure and often I get some real insight into things.

Me too!

Right. My fault. I've been very focused on trying to write. And you know, the weather....

You're published.

I am. It was very exciting. And I have some great co-writers that I'm very happy for as well. Now if folks will buy the books and give us some reviews so we can learn from it.

Are you sure you want to know what people think?

......... Yes. Because if I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I can't fix it. So, it if stinks, painful though it may be, I need to know or the next might stink, too. It may anyway.

So, you like it when someone points out your faults?

Uh, well, my writing can't improve without feedback.

That's true of many things. Yet most folks don't want to know about their ... faults, I believe you said. 

We're not supposed to criticize people. That's judging.

Really? You do know I'm a judge. 

Yes. YOU are. I'm not supposed to criticize. If I do it, that's judging.

Even though the criticism is designed to correct something bad? Do you people even know what criticism is? 

In English, it has two meaning. One is an expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. The other is an analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

You looked up judging, didn't you? 

I did.

Surprised?

Yes.

And what is judging?

Well, here's Merriam-Webster: to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises;  to sit in judgment on :  judge a case;  to determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation  ;  govern, rule —used of a Hebrew tribal leader ;  to form an estimate or evaluation of ; trying to judge the amount of time required; especially :  to form a negative opinion about: shouldn't judge him because of his accent ;  to hold as an opinion

Surprised?

Yes. They're not the same. At all. And in light of the definitions, judging is not precisely a bad thing. It is based on evidence and testing, inquiry and deliberation, evaluation. But it can be negative. Again, negative is not necessarily a bad thing

So, if I say your story stinks.

That'd be hurtful. But if true, it isn't wrong.

True isn't always good. So, if I said it lacked structure or organization... or that you used too many passive verbs?

That's less painful and more helpful.

So, it isn't the judgment but rather the delivery. 

Yes..... But you try telling someone that their lifestyle is a sin. You can get a black eye that way. And that delivery is what hurts. Aren't we supposed to tell them they're sinning?

So we're issuing black eyes of our own? What happens when someone reads a story? They learn about the character, what they like, how they act, how the resolve the conflict in the story. In a good story, they may even talk about the character and ask questions. They'll learn a lot from that story. Readers also learn a lot about the writing and they may point out errors to the writer. It is up to the writer how they take those criticisms. 

So, it isn't all on the critic it is also on the one being critiqued?

It is. And it is a sign that there are deeper problems when one doesn't know how to take criticism and doesn't understand the purpose of it. A prize pig at the county fair can be judged but the behavior of a human being can't? There's something wrong with human beings when we place more value on the size of a pig or the posture of a dog but the behavior of human beings must not be called into question. 

But you said it is in the delivery?

That's true. Pay attention to how judges at county fairs judge animals. They're not trumpeting it to the world so much as making an assessment based on specific criteria. I have given you a set of criteria that allows you to make valid assessments. 

I can hear people now saying, "Humans are not animals."

Aren't they? They've determined that humans are descended from apes. Therefore by their own judgment, humans are little more than animals and can be judged as you would an animal. Appearance, behavior, and parentage. All open to interpretation and judgment. 

But you know that's not true!

Yes, I know it.....

Oh.

.....

I have no idea how we ended up here.

Well, I was just sitting here quietly watching. You started it.




Friday, April 21, 2017

A Rotten Assignment

Today my skin hurts. My hips hurt. My feet hurt. I am tired and would like to curl up in a warm bed with my hands under the covers. That means sacrificing my sleep tonight. I got plenty of sleep last night but I suspect the raging inflammation in my body is creating fatigue as it tries in vain to fight off the inflammation. By bedtime, I'll be exhausted and depressed because I've lost another day I could have been productive and wasn't. 

I want to write, to work on my book but I can't think. I've tried to read but I can't focus for more than a few minutes. I suspect this is a bit like an attention deficit feels but can't be sure. I feel fidgety and restless but I'm too tired to do anything to combat it. 

Yesterday was a great day. I cleaned house and put away some of the laundry. I washed a load, too. Beds got made and floors swept. I cut the back yard and found time to play with the grandkids. Today is a black hole swallowing my life.

This is a pretty negative post for a praise blog, isn't it? And yet, I'm OK with that. My intention has always been, from the inception to make this a place that I praised God. How better to do that than when I'm miserable? Jeremiah was able to do it in a dark dungeon, in a pit of mud up to his armpits. They couldn't even go down and get him. They had to send a rope down and drag him out. For all my pain, I think he was in a worse place than me. You can bet he wasn't happy with his situation, but he didn't forget God. 

Despite how I feel, God is still real. He's still faithful. He still loves me. No matter how dark the dungeon, how deep the mire, God is a deliverer. My pain doesn't mean He isn't God. And it doesn't mean he isn't worthy of praise. I'm fairly confident that once the clouds clear and the rain passes my pain will ease. I'll find myself sitting on the patio staring up into a bright blue sky, the red umbrella sheltering me from the sun and I'll be thinking of how very great God is all the time. More clouds may roll in but God will still be God. He'll still be faithful. 

Life is all about change. Our situation can change in an instant, from good to bad and back again. Our response may vary but one aspect should remain fixed. God is amazing and worthy to be praised. That doesn't mean we can't moan in pain and cry. We hurt and the body is designed to deal with pain in predictable ways but although our pain is beyond our control, our minds are not. 

Yes, I rail against circumstances. To no avail. I rant and rave and get angry at my life going off the rails. I didn't sign up for this, did I? This was not in my plans! No, we were drafted. For whatever reason, this is the assignment we were given and we have to make the best of it. Sometimes it is the worst duty assignment.  But...

God is still faithful. He never fails. Get this, the Creator of the Universe is in charge of your life, your circumstances, your future. Who better to be in charge?