No Blind Faith – Part 6

MOVED TO FAITH BY DIRECT EXPERIENCE

In support of the Central Thesis:

No one can actually believe in something blindly.

Direct Experience is perhaps the most common route to faith articulated in the Bible, and quite possibly by Christians the world over.  Seeing something “with your own eyes” is the quickest route to establishing “a fact”, something you can put your faith into.  However, even if one has not “seen” Christ with their eyes, many would claim to have seen His work directly through the lives of Christians that they know and His work directly in their own lives.  But does this count?

“All we know are the facts, ma’am.” –Joe Friday

How do we get these types of Direct Experience facts, and are these proper grounds for belief?

Primarily, we use our five senses, which must be properly functioning and properly sensitive to the experience, and Christian Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has written much on this topic.

“an immediate ground of a belief is an experience, on the basis of which the belief is formed.” – Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, p105.

This is in line with the experiences of Jesus’ Disciples after his resurrection.  Thomas touched him.  They saw him eat.  They heard his voice.  Their belief in the resurrection was based upon direct physical interaction, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

In fact, a relationship would be a case where belief is warranted, thus, requiring no further justification.  For instance, I don’t have to prove my mother exists using documentation. Her existence is not up for debate because I know her and have had a mother-son relationship with her for many decades.  I have an unshakable and properly basic belief in her existence.  My faith in her existence is not BLIND, even though I do not remember her giving birth to me.

(I am not claiming that this belief makes her truly my biological mother.  I could have been deceived.  I am merely addressing the false characterization that this is blind faith.  It is not blind if it is based upon direct experience of a relationship.)

What of the Christian’s claim of direct experiences with Christ?  No doubt, these form a basis for strong belief, falsifying the claim that these Christians are believing blindly.

But do these claims of a relationship leading to properly basic beliefs satisfy our quest for direct experience fact?

The point is almost inarguable.  For those who are convinced that they sense God’s presence, hear his voice (in their inner dialog with conscience), respond to His prompting, and obtain His blessing in good times and bad, there is no debate.  “God exists because I have met Him” becomes the ultimate apologetic from the perspective of the believer.

jesus

But this is not well understood by those who are not convinced that they sense God’s presence, etc.  A description of a relationship with my mother with an emphasis on the inputs from my five senses seems to be qualitatively different than a description of my relationship with Christ with emphasis on inner-dialog, answered prayer, and peace in troubled times.  There is fertile ground to explore how best to describe a relationship with Christ. Perhaps that will be another blog post.

Whether Christian or not, hopefully you can see that when someone claims to have a relationship with Christ, they are basing that belief on what they deem to be direct experiences, which are properly basic.  This is not blind faith.

You may still ask, “OK, so faith is not BLIND, but is a person’s faith well placed?”  “Is what they believe actually true?”  And for that I must refer you to the materials available at www.thepoachedegg.netwww.apologetics315.com, and other blog entries on our site www.ratiochristi.org where the case is made for the TRUTH of the Christian world view.

:DW

ROADMAP FOR THE SERIES

This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ.

  • Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
  • Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
    • Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
    • Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
    • Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
  • Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds
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No Blind Faith – Part 5

MOVED TO FAITH BY THE MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS IN LIFE

In support of the Central Thesis:

No one can actually believe in something blindly.

VALLEY

“There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.” – Father William Cummings

Chances are good that you have heard the above quote (often misattributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower), especially in light of the latest stink raised by those who would purge religious speech from anyone employed in government service.  Here is an excerpt from an article giving context to Father Cummings’ famous statement.

foxhole

“In one of my many discussions with Roy, he distinctly remembered a period on the “Hell Ships” – these were ships the Japanese used to bring POWs from the Philippines back to Japan. They were unmarked and thus ‘fair game’ for attacks from the allies from the air and sea.

Of the 3,000-plus POWs listed on the ships, only 180 survived the journey.

“When our own planes were attacking us,” Roy said, “I remember Father Cummings calming us down by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and offering up prayers on our behalf. For a brief moment I did not hear the yells and screams of dying men as our boat was attacked by our own men.” He went on to say, “There was a peaceful quiet during the attack that I cannot explain nor have experienced since.”

Later on during the trip to Japan, Cummings, after giving his food to others who needed it more, succumbed to his own need and died of starvation.”

 

MOUNTAIN

In contrast to the despair of impending death, there is the mountain top experience of the Spiritual Retreat. The fact that spiritual retreats are not merely a Christian phenomenon is interesting.  There appears to be some value in the practice for bringing people to faith or for strengthening the faith of those who already believe.  Here are the typical features of the Christian retreats I have seen:

  • Large gatherings for worship, which give a sense of belonging to something much larger than a circle of acquaintances and a sense of love from complete strangers.
  • Small groups for discussion, which allows the ability to know and be known by others.
  • Time alone for reflection, which allows the processing of the information and emotion gathered by the other experiences.

This often results in the attribution to God the love felt and conveyed during the retreat.

BACKFIRE

Mountains and valleys can also have the opposite effect.  The despair of helpless situations has caused many to scream at God, demanding answers, “right now”.  Likewise, sadly, some have gone to spiritual retreats, seen the love shared all around them and they have “felt nothing”.  They have concluded that it was all an act, an exercise in socialization.  Not getting answers from God, not “getting” retreats, and not getting clear reasons why others do is a big sticking point for those who don’t or feel like they can’t believe.

There is only one “magic bullet”, and it is not the mountain top, nor the valley.

RELATIONSHIP

Both examples – the fox hole and the retreat – have relationships as the common factor.  One who comes to faith because of that relationship is NOT acting blindly.  They are moved to faith by what they perceive as true and foundational, namely, “The inexplicable love I feel in this place (from Father Cummings or from complete strangers who love the Lord) is evidence that Christ loves me also.”

But let us go back to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kenneth Reyes:

“Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular. Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day; or express relief the doctor’s results were negative. The real question is, “Is it important to have faith in ‘faith’ itself or is it more important to ask, ‘What is the object of my faith?'”

Faith itself may factor into one’s general health, but this is not about lowering your blood pressure, or meditating to relieve one’s stress levels.  What is the object of the Christian faith?

“For I can testify about them that they [the Israelites; but also applies to others who] are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.  Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” [Meaning fulfillment of the law will bring life. But perfect living is impossible.]

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  – Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 10, V 2 – 10 with [my comments].

In a nut shell, we are powerless to live a perfect life which is necessary to have a relationship with a perfect God.  So God himself became man in Jesus and became the culmination of the law.  We didn’t invent this scheme, but rather it has been revealed to us in the Bible that God has laid our punishment onto Christ, thus covering our imperfections and allowing us to have a RELATIONSHIP with the one true and perfect God.  Amazing.

I know it is unlikely and confusing and probably doesn’t make sense if this little post is all you know about Christianity.  So before you make a judgment, do two things:

  1. Read the Gospel of John and
  2. Really get to know a Christian who studies apologetics.  If you ask a Christian acquaintance if they study apologetics, and they say “Huh?”, then respectfully move on.  Those who are studying apologetics are studying how to answer your deepest questions and they SHOULD want to be your friend and treat you with Christ’s love and respect regardless of what you believe.  If they don’t.  If they treat you like a project and not a person, then respectfully move on.  You are on a QUEST FOR TRUTH, and you shouldn’t extrapolate too far from one or two bad encounters.
  3. The non-helpful “option 3.”  Read tons of blogs and watch tons of debates online.  This will inform you some, but God seeks a RELATIONSHIP with you, and this often starts with a RELATIONSHIP with one of His believers.

WEEKLY MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS

Finally, what we see on Sunday Mornings is a retelling of the “valley of the shadow of death” typically in the form of the Confession and Absolution [in liturgical settings, but also prevalent in non-liturgical worship].  We also sing, say, or read about Christ’s victory over death on the cross.  This is the ultimate mountain top experience for the Christian.  We welcome and celebrate the deepest despair and the highest joy at least once a week, and you are welcome to join us.

Our faith resulting from the relationship we have with Christ, from the love in Christian circles, from the historicity of the Scriptures, and from the evidence of Christ’s death on the Mountain of Calvary and His resurrection is not a blind leap into the unknown, for unknown reasons, or against evidence to the contrary.  It is a strong foundation, as strong as the very rocks that form mountains and valleys.

:DW

Since the Air Force has already removed the article once, I am posting the full article here to ensure its preservation:

“Commentary by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kenneth Reyes, JBER Chaplain

7/17/2013 – JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —

The “Chaplain’s Corner” offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.

[Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.]

‘No atheists in foxholes’: Chaplains gave all in World War II.

Many have heard the familiar phrase, “There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.”

Where did this come from?

Research I verified in an interview with former World War II prisoner of war Roy Bodine (my friend) indicates the phrase has been credited to Father William Cummings.

As the story goes, Father Cummings was a civilian missionary Catholic priest in the Philippines.

The phrase was coined during the Japanese attack at Corregidor.

During the siege, Cummings had noticed non-Catholics were attending his services. Some he knew were not Catholic, some were not religious and some were even known atheists.

Life-and-death experiences prompt a reality check.

Even the strongest of beliefs can change, and, I may add, can go both ways – people can be drawn to or away from “faith.”

With the pending surrender of allied forces to the Japanese, Cummings uttered the famous phrase “There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.”

In one of my many discussions with Roy, he distinctly remembered a period on the “Hell Ships” – these were ships the Japanese used to bring POWs from the Philippines back to Japan.

They were unmarked and thus ‘fair game’ for attacks from the allies from the air and sea. Of the 3,000-plus POWs listed on the ships, only 180 survived the journey.

“When our own planes were attacking us,” Roy said, “I remember Father Cummings calming us down by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and offering up prayers on our behalf. For a brief moment I did not hear the yells and screams of dying men as our boat was attacked by our own men.”

He went on to say, “There was a peaceful quiet during the attack that I cannot explain nor have experienced since.”

Later on during the trip to Japan, Cummings, after giving his food to others who needed it more, succumbed to his own need and died of starvation. Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular. Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day; or express relief the doctor’s results were negative.

The real question is, “Is it important to have faith in ‘faith’ itself or is it more important to ask, ‘What is the object of my faith?'”

Roy never affirmed or expressed whether his faith was rooted in religion or not, but for a moment in time on the “Hell Ships,” he believed in Cummings’ faith.

What is the root or object of your faith?

Is it something you can count on in times of plenty or loss; peace or chaos; joy or sorrow; success or failure?

What is ‘faith’ to you?“

ROADMAP FOR THE SERIES

This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ. Roadmap for the series:

  • Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
  • Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
    • Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
    • Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
    • Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
  • Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds

No Blind Faith – Part 4

MOVED TO FAITH BY INTUITION

In support of the Central Thesis:

No one can actually believe in something blindly.

Having a new-born infant in the house is one of the greatest blessings imaginable.  But there are also some very disorienting aspects of the newborn that make a computer-programmer-type person a little crazy.  Lack of sleep is not a big deal compared to the lack of a functioning user interface.  Here’s what I mean.

Baby is
feeling
this
Your
audio-visual
cue is this
hungry crying
sleepy crying
poopy crying
pain crying
separation crying

See the issue?  I remember being at a loss wondering what the crying signal meant.  I quickly made a mental decision tree: 1. Check diaper, 2. Check eating times, 3. Check for localized pain of any sort, 4. Try consolation, 5. Try distractions, 6. Find “Mom”.  It worked like a charm most of the time.

Shifting focus, let us try to imagine the thought process of the infant as she struggles with learning the concept of hunger.  A strange craving appears.  She gets irritated and begins to cry.  Mom, Dad, Babysitter come to the rescue with something to drink.  Strange craving is satiated.  Eventually, the caregivers put a word to this by asking, “Are you feeling hungry?”

Hunger is not a physical entity, but it is very real.  Who would be bold enough to claim that hunger is “not real” when so much of the world’s population is desperately and constantly hungry?  It is the term we give to the craving for food.  You can locate hungry people, but you cannot locate hunger.  You might isolate the location in the brain where the craving signal resides, but “hunger cannot be reduced to ion exchanges in neurons”. The concept of hunger only makes sense in the context of craving and satiation.

Now for something completely different…  ~ Monty Python

Ever see a breathtaking sunset?  Have you been moved to tears by an act of kindness, valor, or self-sacrifice?  Are you a fan of great music, great art, or great architecture?  Why do you want to travel the world to see the great sites, when these sites are available instantly on the Internet?  These things are satiating.  But what word do we place on the craving that is satiated in these life-enriching situations?  Words like aesthetics, beauty, and meaning come to mind, but there is not a handy word like “hunger” to describe our craving the fulfillment of these desires.  This is unfortunate, because without a term, the concept is easily denied.

You can try to deny the existence of the craving for beauty.  But you will be easily disproven with one simple observation – the World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure.  Crowds do NOT pay thousands upon thousands of dollars twice a day to experience longitudinal waves (sound), coherent light (lasers), two-dimensional imaging (movies), and the abnormally high surface tension of water.  They came to see the love scenes of Disney played upon ghost-like walls of water with blasting fountains, laser flashes, and musical flourishes.  See for yourself:

http://youtu.be/xbzJ0R9Q-h8

With art and beauty we seem to have a grasp of the object we crave, but we are inarticulate when describing the craving.  With spiritual matters we have a grasp of the craving, but left to our own devices, we become unsure of the object.  Our cravings for the “Holy” show up in our cravings for ritual, for proper words (piety of sorts), for an ordering sovereignty of some kind.

pascal

What evidence is there of these cravings?  You mean besides the fact that every known civilization has had some sort of spiritual practice?  What about the need we feel to have ritual at weddings and funerals?  Certain phrases are craved as if they seal some spiritual deal.  When disaster strikes, even the most strident anti-theists have been known to cry, “Where’s God!!”  We crave a higher power even if it is to have someone to accuse.  We do not have a word like “hunger” for this craving, but it is real.

What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present?  But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.  ~ Blaise Pascal – Mathematician, Physicist, Inventor, and Christian Philosopher – Pensees, E.P. Dutton &Co Inc, 1958, page 367.

This passage of Pascal has been paraphrased into the familiar:

There is a God-shaped hole in all of us. ~ Plumb
(http://youtu.be/pAXxgWZMDHU < song with lyrics below)

There are many Christians who base their faith on this filled void.  They know their craving, and they know the satiating object of their craving.  Since it is not easily put into words, many of them say,

I just believe.

That is not a satisfying response for them because it does not do justice to the fulfillment they have from lining up their hunger with the object of their affection.  It is not a satisfying response for the questioner, either, because a questioner wants more detail, more information, and more concrete terms with which to wrestle.

Perhaps I have described you.  If your faith is one of spiritual hunger satiated in Christ, then take some time to put into words a description of the hunger that was satisfied.  It doesn’t have to read like the Lawyer’s Case for Christ , the Detective’s Case for Christ , or the Journalist’s Case for Christ . This is YOUR case for Christ, and it is one that someone needs to hear.  “I just believe” is not the whole story, and I suspect you know it.  But nobody is exempt from 1 Peter 3:15,

…always be prepared to give an answer (apologetic) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect,… ~ 1 Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 15.

Pro Tip

Operating on intuition involves special care.  It is evident from the above post that these cravings do not even have universally-agreed-upon terms.  They seem to avoid description.  Do not be afraid to find additional reasons to believe.  This is the natural maturation process as one goes from trusting Mommy to trusting one’s own feelings.  One should move beyond feelings to more rigorously testable facts.  There are three advantages to this:

  1. You can avoid errors and avoid being misled by your fickle feelings.
  2. You can test the claims of others (and yourself).
  3. You can provide yourself a “fortress of facts” for those times when you don’t “feel” especially spiritual.  If your faith in Christ is based upon “feeling His presence”, then you WILL have a crisis of faith when for whatever reason you interpret your feelings as “not feeling His presence”.  This fortress of facts is constructed from reliable sources.
    (cf. www.apologetics315.com and www.thepoachedegg.net for more!)

:DW

ROADMAP FOR THE SERIES

This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ. Roadmap for the series:

  • Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
  • Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
    • Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
    • Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
    • Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
  • Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds

No Blind Faith – Part 3

Moved to Faith by Reliable Sources

In support of the Central Thesis:

No one can actually believe in something blindly.

What do you consider a reliable source of information?  We put our trust (faith) in others all the time.  Eating at a restaurant shows our faith in the cooks, the health inspectors, or even the friend who tell us, “It looks terrible, but try it!  You’ll love it!”

Faith is evidenced by action.  We depend upon reliable sources to bring us to the point of taking an action like actually putting some disgusting looking food in our mouths.  There is a difference between acknowledging that your friend survived eating at a nasty-looking restaurant, and actually eating the food yourself.

Faith is NOT magic.  It does not “make something true.”  Nasty-looking (and clean-looking) restaurants can make you very sick even if you REALLY believe they won’t.  But your actions are evidence of your faith and what you trust.

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  (James, Chapter 2, Verse 17)

Being a chemist, I am bothered by those who mistakenly claim that science is devoid of faith.  Let me speak to the scientist.  An honest scientist realizes that testing a theory requires a quantity of faith.  You are expending time, precious days of your life, and often other people’s money and time to see if a theory holds or fails in a controlled set of circumstances.  You are “sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see”.  But, notice the subtlety.  You are not sure of the result or certain of the result, but rather, you are sure that nature is repeatable, logical, and knowable.  How did you come to trust in the stability, the logic, and the “knowability” of nature?  Reliable Sources.

A scientist comes to know about the behavior of nature through reliable sources.  For me, it began with parents explaining the seasons, teachers suggesting books to read, and the books themselves.  I didn’t just learn facts.  I came to trust the philosophy that nature was knowable and that rational thought was trustworthy. This is not an empirical result.  It is a secondary conclusion and the foundation of empiricism.

Hence the flawed logic of scientism’s claim,

If it cannot be empirically proven, then it cannot be objectively true.

That claim cannot be empirically proven, so that claim commits suicide.

This example is not a straw man, either.  Here is the claim written in a more popular form,

It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove a claim false.

This is most certainly a claim that is non-falsifiable.  Further, in the same article the statement is made:

Any claim that could not be falsified would be devoid of any propositional content; that is, it would not be making a factual assertion — it would instead be making an emotive statement, a declaration of the way the claimant feels about the world. Nonfalsifiable claims do communicate information, but what they describe is the claimant’s value orientation. They communicate nothing whatsoever of a factual nature, and hence are neither true nor false. Nonfalsifiable statements are propositionally vacuous.

Therefore, “It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove the claim false” is propositionally vacuous.

If that makes your head explode, good. You should realize that science rests on top of philosophy.  Why do we trust our 5 senses?  Philosophy.  Where does logical experimentation originate?  Philosophy.  And it is philosophy that tells us what is logical, what is reasonable, and what sources (including empirical results) are likely to be trustworthy.

reliable-sources

Back to the question.  We use reliable sources to bring us to the point of taking action on our beliefs (faith).  We may not have studied philosophy in school, but we learned it in the school of hard knocks.  Who hasn’t felt the pain of betrayal and learned something about who to trust?  Who hasn’t sniffed old-ish milk trusting their senses to reflect the true nature of the substance?

So the scientist trusting her mentors and the literature, the child trusting his parents, the Christian trusting her ministers have more in common than they think.  When it comes to achieving faith in something, we all have to choose our sources and our philosophical framework.

The question remains, “are the sources we have faith in truly reliable?”  Check out J. Warner Wallace’s book Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels or Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.  They searched the source documents and interviewed experts until their objections were answered.  Even though they could not see God with their physical eyes, they could clearly see their sources.  Their faith was NOT blind.  And then it came down to action.  They trusted in Christ.  They actually “ate at the restaurant.”

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34, Verse 8)

:DW

Roadmap for the Series

This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ. Roadmap for the series:

  • Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
  • Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
    • Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
    • Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
    • Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
  • Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds

No Blind Faith – Part 2

What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?

In support of the Central Thesis: “No one can actually believe in something blindly.”

This series of blog posts explores what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ.  This will serve dual purposes of causing the Christian to seriously consider HOW they themselves came to faith, and of providing a starting point for discussion with non-believers about the word “faith” in a Christian world view.

Roadmap for the series:

  • Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
  • Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
    • Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
    • Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
    • Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
  • Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds

dr-jones-book-txt

Christian Faith

Rather than begin with the 259 uses of the word “faith” in the Bible, it might be useful to illustrate what is taught about faith in practice in just about every youth group and team building camp in the world.

Jane was nervous, excited, and very self-conscious about her weight as she climbed onto the table in the dining hall.  She wasn’t embarrassed.  Yet.  But she was afraid of the hard floor.  She was being asked to stand on the edge of the table, cross her arms across her chest, remain stiff as a board, and fall backward off the table.  Insane?  Well, her youth group was standing behind her with their arms extended ready to catch her.  Could they do it?  Probably.  She didn’t actually do the math of her weight divided among eight pairs of arms, but they seemed confident, ready, and able.  Her youth leader asked her to go first and was very encouraging.  He told her that he had done this exercise with hundreds of kids for years with no broken bones, concussions, or deaths.  His levity was both comforting and disconcerting.

She was ready, but then she paused.  She turned around.  Looked at her friends (and one or two frenemies).  They were smiling and encouraging.  Their confidence was contagious.  “OK, I’ll do it.”, she thought.

“Ready?”, she asked.

“Ready.”, they replied.

“Falling.”, she said.

“Fall!”, they shouted.

And down she went.  There was an initial tilting feeling, then a short moment of panic as she realized there was no way to stop falling.  The youth leader’s voice in her head reminded her, “stiff as a board, or you’ll get hurt or hurt someone else.”  With a short squeal, she stayed stiff, and felt the cushioning crush of 16 arms catching and arresting her fall.  Eight smiling and giggling faces were surprisingly close by.  She stayed stiff as they tipped her up and placed her feet on the floor.

Immediately, there was chatter of “Me next!” and funny imitations of her squeal that made her blush with laughter.

This exercise is called the TRUST FALL and it is used to illustrate faith in Christian circles.  The lesson illustrates having faith in each other, and is extended to having faith in God.

Let us analyze the trust fall in various ways, and then show that the above example is in line with the Biblical concept of “faith” and is NOT in line with the mischaracterizations of faith popularized by the “New Atheists”.

Let’s begin with the “fun stuff”.  Hitchens says, “Faith is believing in spite of the evidence.”  Therefore, the “Hitchens TRUST FALL” would look like this:

Johnny climbs onto a table, wraps his arms around his chest, and becomes stiff as a board.  He says, “Ready?”

No one answers, which is evidence that no one is there.  He turns to look, and sees that no one is there.  The evidence points to no one being there.

Going through the motions, though, he says, “Falling”.  No reply, of course. But he has “Hitchens-like faith in spite of the evidence”.  So he falls anyway.

Crack!  Johnny falls off the table onto the hard floor and the consequences are not good.  But he had “Faith in spite of the evidence”.

This is NOT the concept of Christian faith.

This is rightly judged to be delusional behavior.  And although many Christians may “say” that they trust Christ in spite of the evidence, I contend that they do not.  If you ask them about God’s work in their life, their relationship with Christ, their interactions with God’s word, the encouragement they have received from their church family, they will point to an impressive list of “evidences” that confirm their faith.

Critical Point!!

(This is NOT a proof that their faith is TRUE.  Many faiths, cults, and even atheistic circles provide similar “evidences”, and they cannot ALL be true.  But this DOES prove that their faith is NOT blind even if they say it is.  They have identified many REASONS to believe what they believe.)

Here is another example that people misinterpret as blind faith.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

“The Leap of Faith” is the clearest example of what people may claim to be blind faith.  If you don’t remember it, watch it here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFntFdEGgws ).

 

But don’t miss the facts.  Indiana did not simply come upon a cavern and blindly step into it.  He had his father’s lifetime obsession and meticulous study of the history of the grail.  He had his father’s notebook with a drawing of how he should approach the cavern.  And, he had the experience that the book was trustworthy – the penitent man doesn’t get his head chopped off, and the name of God is firm.

These EVIDENCES and EXPERIENCES and the person and character of his father are what Indiana Jones had faith in.  He trusted these things, and stepped out in faith.  The path was invisible, but his faith was not “blind”.  He had reasons to believe.

Evidential Faith in the Bible

Jesus encouraged this type of faith throughout the Gospels.  And he encouraged his disciples to put their faith “in Him” and in his miracles.

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14:11)

“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

(He didn’t rebuke them for their stubborn refusal to believe their own eyes that saw him crucified dead and placed in a grave.  He rebuked them for not believing what they should have accepted as reliable testimony.)

“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29)

(Again, Jesus is confirming that those who have believed based upon the reliable testimony of the other disciples even to the present day will be blessed.)

This is not BLIND faith.  Blind faith in Jesus Christ would be believing “in him” without knowing the first thing about him, any testimony about him, nothing about your need for him, what his life, death, or resurrection meant, or even how he might be relevant to your life.  That would be strange faith indeed.

It is certainly NOT what Christians mean by faith in Christ.

:DW

No Blind Faith – Part 1

Central Thesis:

No one can actually believe in something blindly.

What is the concept meant by the term Christian “Faith”?

“Faith is believing what you know aint so.” – Mark Twain

“Faith is believing in spite of the evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” – Jesus of Nazareth

“Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.” – The writer of Hebrews (Chapter 11, verse 7)

We can dispense with the incorrect characterizations of Hitchens, Dawkins, Twain, et al completely by simply pointing out that their understanding of Christian faith is incorrect.  In fact, if they were accurately describing Christian faith as “believing in spite of the evidence”, then they would also be accurate in stating that Christianity is dangerous and tantamount to child abuse.  But they do not understand what the word “faith” means in a Christian and Biblical context.  Do you?

Blind_Faith_

This series of blog posts will explore what is (or at least should be) meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ.  This will serve dual purposes of causing the Christian to seriously consider HOW they themselves came to faith, and of providing a starting point for discussion with non-believers about the word “faith” in a Christian world view.

This series will explore the following:

  • Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
  • Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
    • Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
    • Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
    • Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
  • Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds

The bottom line

Many people shy away from apologetic study because the focus is on historical reliability, logical progression, reading, reading, and more reading.  They may incorrectly say, “I just believe” or even “I just have blind faith”, meaning (perhaps) that “I haven’t read all those books, but I have received comfort from Christ” (experience).  Or “I have seen Christ change my (child, father, mother, wife, husband, brother, sister), and can see that it is true” (sources). Or “I cannot explain how mankind (myself included) can be so evil without acknowledging sin, and Christ’s atonement lines up with this” (intuition). Or “I’m so wracked with grief; God help me!”  “I can’t contain my JOY! Praise God” (reaction). Or “God was there in my grief.  God was there in my joy!” (experience)  These are not as rigorously literary as a historical treatise on the evidence for the resurrection, but they are clearly not “blind“.  In one way or another, they are “evidence”.

There are separate posts on each of the above topics.  In the end, the central thesis “that there is no way to actually believe in something blindly” is strongly supported.

:DW

Morning Prayer

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My previous post was focused upon the utility of listening to the music and prayers of the Daily Offices of Worship. It was a baby step – a distant and tiny LED light leading the depressed and grieving out of their darkness. The North Star is not the brightest star in the sky, but with that tiny light, one can navigate the Northern Hemisphere.

This post revels in the JOY of the Daily Offices of Worship. It is a testimony of the personal resonances of my heart. Let me illustrate what I mean by the resonances of my heart.

Sympathetic Resonance

Years ago, I discovered something amazing and beautiful. After tuning my trumpet to the piano, I held the sustain pedal down while playing an arpeggio C, E, G, C on my trumpet. The piano came to life with every string in the chord resonating with the sound from my trumpet.

Scientifically, the sound waves from my trumpet pushed on all the strings in the piano. The strings that were tuned to the notes in the chord began to sympathetically resonate (passively vibrate in phase) with the sounds coming from my horn. So the chord I played in series – one note at a time – became a full chord ringing all at once in the piano.

When I stopped playing my trumpet, the piano chord beautifully rang for several seconds. Amazingly, ALL the potential strings that could ring at multiples of the sound waves rang too. Thus, the piano chord rang at several octaves above and below what my trumpet played.

This became a favorite activity of mine. I would play various major and minor chords making the piano sound great or awful as the sympathetic resonances sang along with my trumpet.

This works best when the piano is in tune.

Spiritually, I suspect that this is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit of God in the life of the Christian.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:1-2 ESV]

Let me insert the language I am trying to emphasize,

…present your bodies [to be tuned] as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be [tuned] by the renewal of your mind, that by [tuning] you may [sympathetically resonate with] the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I’m not doing deep exegesis, here. I’m merely using the concept of sympathetic resonance as an analogy to explain one way that God can fill and overwhelm our “hearts”, meaning our mental and emotional selves.

Now to the filling and overwhelming…

Morning Worship

The Venite – Psalm 95:1-7

I can remember singing these exact words in the Childrens’ Choir at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, TX. I was in 4th Grade. God has been tuning my heart with these words for over 40 years.

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
[Psalm 95:1-7 ESV]

Personal Reflection: Having a rock of salvation is extremely comforting. Psalm 62 speaks of God as a rock and a fortress – a place of supreme security. All the strong places are His, AND all the chaotic places like the sea are his, too. And we are protected as sheep are protected and cared for by their shepherd. Jesus said,

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [John 10:11 ESV]

Benedictus

This is the Song of Zechariah. There are several “songs” in the Bible. They seem to be bold proclamations prompted by God’s spirit when significant events occurred. This sounds a lot like sympathetic resonance to me. God does something significant (this is the trumpet call) and his faithful sing out in resonance with his call (like the piano responding to the trumpet).

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He has come to His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty Savior, born of the house of His servant David.
Through His holy prophets he promised of old that he would save us

  • From our enemies,
  • From the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant.
This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham;
To set us

  • Free from the hands of our enemies,
  • Free to worship Him without fear,
  • holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life.

[Now, Zechariah turns to his baby boy, John, and proclaims,]

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins
In the tender compassion of our God,
The dawn from on high shall break upon us

  • To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and
  • To guide our feet into the way of peace.

[Luke 1:68-79 ESV] Bulleted lists were utilized for emphasis and clarity.

Personal Reflection: Clearly, the language of fear and being set free were relevant in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. But this language is relevant at all times. We are self-censoring in this age of cultural Marxism because we are fearful of our “enemies”. This fear of disapproval can be seen as silly when our Christian brothers and sisters are being arrested, tortured, and killed by actual enemies using actual violence. But fear is fear. Enemies are enemies. And hope is hope. This Song of Zechariah proclaims real hope in the impending birth of Jesus. Zechariah’s son John alerts us to the darkness and the shadow of death that is on us all. John prepares us to see the dawn (Jesus) who shines on us and guides us into the way of peace.

Prayers

Collect for Grace

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God. You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Personal Reflection: Spontaneous prayer is good and we are encouraged by Paul to pray without ceasing. But these scripted prayers (called Collects) gather and summarize the prayers of God’s people, not just in aggregate on a given day, but also over time. This Collect for Grace was prayed over me essentially every Sunday of my life in Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist services. In all three denominational traditions, the same exact words were used meaning the prayer predates all of them. Amazing.

Thinking about the specific petitions in this prayer, I am comforted by the requests for protection. The phrase “ordered by Your governance” is one I have been recently chewing on. It could take a sovereign and fatalistic tone, which I struggle with. But it can also take a common grace tone, meaning that God in his grace to all mankind has established order in this world that is reliable. We are to seek His order rather than our chaotic sinful tendencies.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven;
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Personal Reflection: Luther devotes a large portion of his Small Catechism to expounding on the Lord’s Prayer. I have little of substance to add to Dr. Luther’s exposition.

On a trivial note, I’d like to mention why I like the archaic language of the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t pray in King James English, but I am a fan of leaving the Lord’s prayer in this form for the following reasons:

  1. It is most widely known by English speakers in this form, and can be recited corporately at a moment’s notice in times of celebration and duress. This has been a powerful reminder of the 400 year Christian heritage of the English speaking world that persists to this day.
  2. It reminds people of the 400 year continuity of these exact words. Destroy the wording and you destroy the continuity, unity, and fellowship of language.
  3. It prevents the revisionists from monkeying. Allowing a modernization of the words “art, trespass, Thy, and Thine” might be fine, but this trip wire sets off an explosion of efforts to “modernize the meaning” of the various petitions. Many see the concept of trespasses and sins as archaic and in need of modernization.

(As an aside, how many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: CHANGE‼?!???!???!?!     -Mea Culpa)

Benediction

The Lord Almighty bless us and direct our days and our deeds in His peace. Amen.

Personal Reflection: Again, one can read “direct our days and our deeds” in a controlling way or a gracious way. The director of a band does not control you. He does not force you to play your horn HIS way. He directs you to offer your music in an orderly way so that the whole family of musicians plays together, in tune, and in sympathetic resonance with His spirit.

Love to you all,

Darren

For more on my background, read what I believe and why and visit my About Page.

Passion for the Pain of Depression

Disclaimers

  1. I am not a counselor. I am a chemist. But I have also been to graduate school and lost a child, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a dear brother-in-law. So my perspective includes the hell of intense pressure and the pain of intense loss.
  2. A discussion on depression is best held in dialog, but this is a blog. Comment streams and late night blog binging is no substitute for face-to-face conversation, comfort, and warm hugs. Consider this blog post a remote hug, but find a real hug from a real person, soon and often.hug
  3. This is not a ToDo List. In my opinion, giving a ToDo List to a person suffering from depression is futile. I do offer some things to explore, though.
  4. Lastly, my views on this topic offer a Christian perspective. I know of no other perspective that gives the hope that the Christian perspective offers. Please don’t run off if you are skeptical of the Christian truth claims. See if you think there is any wisdom in my perspective. Eat the meat and spit out the bones.

My Observations

Depression is not just “feeling sad”.

I remember in 10th grade health class, the teacher was discussing barbiturates, alcohol, and other drugs classified as depressants. I thought depressed meant sad, so I couldn’t imagine why you would take a drug that makes you sad?!?!

Obviously, I was wrong. The depressant part meant specifically that it depressed the central nervous system. Some are general like alcohol, and others are quite specific like some anti-anxiety drugs.

This is as far as I can go as a physical chemist. Pharmacology simply has too many variables for me to conceive or to model.

I’m reluctant to list the symptoms of depression because you may be like me. Seeing the list causes me to feel many of the symptoms. But if you must, here they are.

Instead of a list, here is a humorous story that illustrates the point. One of my students, several years ago, came to my office hours after missing class.

He said, “Dr. Williams, I have a problem.”
What is it?”, I asked.
My givashit is broke.”, he said.
Oh my! You have to get that fixed, immediately!”, I said as we both laughed.

We laugh, but we know that a broken givashit is not a laughing matter. It is sometimes a sign of depression or a panic coping mechanism. You simply cannot make a decision. And sometimes you don’t even care. You know this is a path that leads to destruction but you don’t give a ___ because your givashit is broken.

My Theoretical Musings

(My counseling colleagues are invited to correct or add to my musings in the comments section. Please contribute for the good of all!)

I have noticed that mental looping or stuck thoughts can break your ability to make a decision or to care about anything else. When I get stuck in an obsessive mental loop, I need something or someone to interrupt.

As a bona fide computer geek, I see the analogy of the operating system using interrupts to pause or to stop processes that are requesting CPU time. My Christian world view does not reduce the human brain to a CPU, but these analogies are still useful in my opinion.
You can’t get “into the machine” to stop a mental loop if you don’t have a reliable interrupt.

(Spoiler Alert: Music is a reliable interrupt system giving access to the parts of the mind that are “below” the looping executive and anxiety functions. Hence, music therapy.  )

How Do I…

  • Fix a broken givashit?
  • Stop obsessing about my obsessing about what I am obsessing about?
  • Break out of my negative mental loops?
  • Find a path out of this dull darkness of my soul?

This is a call to explore, not a self-help ToDo List.

A Passive, Intrusive, and Spiritual Path

The trail I’m hoping you will explore is passive, intrusive, and spiritual. You are able to “let it run”, passively receiving rather than actively giving. My suggestion is intrusive to interrupt the mental looping. It is spiritual because this is not a mechanical problem.

My suggestion is based upon my personal experience.

Daily Liturgical Worship

Daily liturgical worship is passive, intrusive, and spiritual.

Daily liturgical worship can be passive as the example below will illustrate. It can move to become more active over time, which is an amazing transformation. But start passively, one step at a time.

Daily liturgical worship is filled with simple melodies and singable tunes that echo in the mind all day allowing beneficial mental loops to interrupt negative and unwanted mental loops.

Daily liturgical worship is spiritual providing spoken and sung scripture with spoken and sung prayers that eventually become a part of your mental furniture.

Modern Christian practice (not just modern worship, but modern unscripted prayer, and modern “what does it mean to me” Bible study) has left us with no structure or form. It feels like there are no comforting chairs to sit in, no desks to study in, and perhaps no boundaries or walls to our spiritual imaginations. This is not freedom. This is lostness. These structures and pieces of furniture take time to build, but WE don’t have to build them. Jesus is the carpenter, and He uses his Word to build these holy places in our soul.

What IS Daily Liturgical Worship?

The early Christians continued the Jewish practice of reciting prayers and Scripture during certain hours of the day, which means this practice goes back over 2000 years.

How can this be a passive practice? Well… with Amazon Prime, you can download the CPH Album Evening and Morning: The Music of Lutheran Daily Prayer.
CPH-daily-prayer

I have listened to Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline on my phone nearly every day since June 2018. I have interspersed Matins, Vespers, and the Litany on special occasions or when I felt like it.

Are you worried by the word Lutheran?  Don’t be. These readings, Scripture, and tunes go back to pre-Lutheran, pre-Eastern Orthodox, and even pre-Roman times. The Lutheran part of this is the compilation of these ancient services into the Lutheran Service Book published by CPH.

You can listen to these services passively when commuting, when anxiety strikes, when you want to pray but don’t know how or what to pray, when waking, when lying in bed before sleep, when you are praying for sleep to come, and when you are seeking the will to get out of bed.

Not now, but down the road as your motivation returns, this worship can transform over time from passive to active practice. Get a copy of the LSB from CPH and follow along when motivation strikes. But don’t force it at first. Just listen to the love and encouragement that Morning, Evening, and Compline Worship brings.

An unexpected benefit to your personal private consumption of this eternal beauty will be when you run across a congregation that is using elements of these worship services. Your soul will soar as you hear and participate with others in these ancient readings and songs. I’m sure you will be amazed when you find patches of this fabric of worship in Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and even Eastern Orthodox services. It always catches me by surprise when I visit a friend’s church and find some ancient tune, song, chant, prayer, or reading that is common among our different traditions.

The interrupts are effective. The simple melodies of these selections of daily liturgical worship are from a bygone era. Some are quite ancient. All of them are capable of comforting you throughout the busy day. I find my mind humming them often during mental downtimes at work. Their haunting tunes are comforting to me. Their ancient origin connects me to the past and the text gives me hope for the future.

This is most important:
Daily Liturgical Worship is Spiritual.

Jesus, the carpenter of our souls tells us,

“God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

And Jesus prays to the Father on our behalf, asking Him to

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

These rituals of daily worship are almost 100% Scripture – using truth to worship Truth. They contain the spirit-filled proclamations of Mary (Luke 1:46-55), Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), and Simeon (Luke 2:29-32) and many ancient prayers of the church.

The Whole Point

The whole point of this blog post is captured at the end of the Song of Zechariah:

“In the tender compassion of our God,
The dawn from on high shall break upon us;
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
And to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Meditate on that. Are you in darkness? Are you in the shadow of death?
I know you are because we ALL are. We ALL need Jesus to guide our feet into the way of peace.

I pray that the daily practice of worship and prayer will help Jesus guide your feet as it helps Him guide my feet. These wonderful, beautiful, and healing words bathe my soul daily.

Closing Analogy

Does this get old? Does the novelty wear off? Of course it does. How could novelty not wear off? What did you expect?

This practice is more like bathing than swimming. Swimming is recreational and novel. Bathing is often mundane and necessary, but it is also refreshing and life-giving.

catbath

We (many of us) bathe daily. Why not worship daily?

Let us invite the passion of the living and active Word (Heb 4:12) to renew our minds, daily. Hear what Paul says:

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” [Romans 12:2a CSB]

Hear what Jesus says:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30 ESV]

Hear what Paul says, again:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

We pray.

Be present, merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of life may find our rest in You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. [from Compline]

Love to you all!

Darren

Check out my musings on Morning Prayer, next.

For more on my background, read what I believe and why and visit my About Page.

The Gosnell movie opens today in 750 theaters, and I’m going to see it!

I read the book. If you see this movie, please think about the criminal negligence of the pro-abortion officials who didn’t want to know what was happening in Gosnell’s clinic. The health department did not inpsect his clinic for 17 years (as per my memory of the book). THEY should be on trial too, but that would be called a witch hunt or a politically motivated prosecution. But it is not about politics. I hope those in Philly who turned a blind eye to Gosnell are confronted in their hearts by their sins of omission. And that they fall to their knees to ask God for forgiveness. His courtroom will not be avoided, by them or by us. Lord have mercy on us all.

WINTERY KNIGHT

These empty benches at the Gosnell trial were for the mainstream news media Empty benches at the Gosnell trial reserved for the mainstream news media

Since I’m going to see the Gosnell movie today, I thought I would read a few articles to remind me of the facts. The best article was by the film makers themselves, writing for the Daily Signal.

They say:

In progressive Pennsylvania, here was a doctor, Kermit Gosnell, an African-American, he’s in his early 70s now, who ran an abortion clinic for 30 years, where he routinely, and these are not my words, this is the grand jury’s words, where he routinely delivered babies alive and then cut their necks with scissors.

And he did this for 30 years. That’s why in the eyes of the grand jury and also ABC’s Terry Moran, he was described as America’s biggest serial killer, which is the phrase we use in the film.

There’s so many details that are worth…

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