Shame Begets Stasis

As I am reading through the “Soul of Shame” by Curt Thompson, I found this noteworthy point about shame and how it distorts our lives so much that it leaves us in stasis.

“When shame appears, especially in malignant forms, we are often driven to a felt sense of stasis. Our mind feels incapable of thinking. We may feel literally physically frozen in place when experiencing extreme humiliation, and if we are able to move, we feel like going somewhere we can hide and remain hidden without returning to engage others. We don’t necessarily experience this with minor insults, but there is no question that our ability to move creatively in our mind is slowed. This general idea that shame leads the world ultimately to a point of paralysis, vis-à-vis the movement that is required for creative engagement, will become more important when we explore the nature of God’s movement and its necessity for shame’s healing.”

Theology Matters Part 2: Scripture

In my last post I spoke on the importance of theology because it helps us grow in our understanding on who God is. Today, I would like to proceed by sharing that Theology matters because it helps us improve our understanding of Scripture. In studying the Word of God, one learns that it is a unified, inspired and sufficient work. These I will elaborate in this post. First, Scripture as a unified work. The Old and New Testaments are acknowledged as one big story, both making up the unity of Scripture. Additionally, it displays the story of redemption. Sure many have heard of the cross but what about leading up to it? What about all the types and shadows seen throughout the Old Testament? Or Messianic prophecies? All of these and more find fulfillment in Christ. And because it is a unified work, it is required to understand both. Neither one is more important than the other. To overlook one for the one, renders the unity of the Bible. It is to subject the book God gave to His church to one’s desires. Friends, that is not how the Bible should be treated. Sure it is a large book, but all the more reason to study it and meditate on it. Overall, one begins to see how it is interconnected.

It is amazing how the Old and New Testaments are 400 years apart yet it come altogether. How is this possible? Let us proceed to the 2nd point,

Secondly, Scripture is an inspired work.  

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” -2 Timothy 3:16

“For no such prophecy was ever brought about through human initiative, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

Although written by men, Scripture has a divine touch. In doing so, it indeed becomes the Word of God because God speaks through it. You can even call it a divine dissertation as God ultimately is the author of Scripture. All other books cannot compare regardless of research or eloquence, it does not compare. In doing so, God is glorified as the Author of Scripture. And since God is the author of Scripture, we as His church should seek what our Heavenly Father/Divine Author has to say to us.

Moreover, since the Bible inspired, it is also timeless. Such truths have impacted generations upon generations as it speaks to humanity about who God is and what He has done.

Sufficiency

Lastly, theology teaches us about the sufficiency of Scripture. Going back to 2 Timothy 3:16, we recognize that Scripture is all that we need. It is a means of grace for the church to walk before God. Sadly, this is overlooked. One of the greatest attacks is that Scripture isn’t sufficiency in the eyes of many Christians who rather deviate to outside sources. They’ll say “don’t put God in a box”, yet God has established a foundation in which we can stand on, which is His Word. It is not rocket science nor ambiguous. God has already laid it out for us. Here’s something worth thinking about, since God is sufficient so must His Word! To say otherwise is to render God insufficient since His Word “isn’t enough”.

Theology Matters

Theology

That’s a word many churches will never discuss nor mentioned. In some cases, mentioning theology is met with disdain and disgust. “Save that for the theologians and seminaries, but not church, we got the spirit”, they say. It is passed on that’s irrelevant babble. It is left alone as an afterthought for those seeking knowledge but not for spiritual growth. Overall, theology is seen as something that has nothing to do with God. Quite the contrary, it encompasses everything that is to do with God and our faith as a whole. That is what the term theology means, “the study of God”. Therefore, for anybody to study about God is basically doing theology, regardless of their preference for the term. In short, theology matters.

That being said, this post is the start of my new series that will further explain why theology matters. In doing so, I hope to help present theology as something that every Christian should embrace rather than push away. For instance, theology matters because it teaches us about God, Scripture, and how we are to live by it. Stay tuned.

One good primer on the topic is the book, “Theology as Discipleship” by Keith Johnson. You can check my review here.

 

 

 

Helps that Harm (an excerpt)

I was just reading a chapter in Zack Erswine’s book, “Spurgeon’s Sorrows” and what struck me is why sometimes people deal harshly with sufferers. Here is the following:

  1.  We judge others according to our circumstances rather than theirs. “There are a great many of you who appear to have a large stock of faith, but it is only because you are in very good health and your business is prospering. If you happened to get a disordered liver, or your business should fail, I should not be surprised if nine parts out of ten of your wonderful faith should evaporate.”  Jesus teaches us about those who lay up heavy burdens on others but do not lift a finger to help (Matt. 23: 4).

  2. We still think that trite sayings or a raised voice can heal deep wounds. A person “may have a great spiritual sorrow, and someone who does not at all understand his grief, may proffer to him a consolation which is far too slight.” Like a physician who offers a common ointment for a deep wound, we “say to a person in deep distress things which have really aggravated him and his malady too.”  In this regard, Charles teaches us the Scriptures, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25: 20).

  3. We try to control what should be rather than surrender to what is. We must not “judge harshly, as if things were as we would theoretically arrange them, but we must deal with things as they are, and it cannot be questioned that some of the best believers are at times sorely put to it,” even “to know whether they are believers at all.”  The Scriptures teach us about Job’s friends who struggled at this very point.

  4. We resist humility regarding our own lack of experience. “There are some people who cannot comfort others, even though they try to do so, because they never had any troubles themselves. It is a difficult thing for a man who has had a life of uninterrupted prosperity to sympathize with another whose path has been exceedingly rough.”  The Apostle Paul teaches us to comfort others out of the comfort that we ourselves have needed and received (2 Cor. 1: 4). According to the Bible, when we encounter someone who weeps, we too are meant to weep (Rom. 12: 15). When someone encounters adversity they are meant to reflect and meditate, and we with them (Eccles. 7: 14). Without this together-sympathy our attempts to help others can lose the sound of reality. The loss of this sound of reality forges the larger reason for our harshness.

Quite the sobering words as it’s something we’ve done, I know I sure did! Yet when we have suffered, I’m certain the last things desired is being dealt harshly by someone else even with helpful intentions. Let us trust God in giving us His perspective and humility rather than try to solve it ourselves. Jesus suffered too and sympathizes with us rather than try to tell us to snap out of it.

 

 

Ramblings on People

People are so draining. Although friends are important, there are times when you begin to question such friendships. For instance, not being there when you need ’em most meanwhile they pop out only to ask for favors. It gets worse when you see them spending more time with other people than you as if you’re being replaced. You place them high upon the pedestal as your best friend, yet you’re not even on theirs. While they may be on the forefront on your minds, you seemingly are an afterthought in theirs. Now that hurts. It’s oftentimes one gets bitter, resentful, betrayed, angry, and frustrated. Thus one wants to cut people off.

And as a Christian, it’s worse when unity/fellowship/love is expected. Trust me, I’ve been there many times. In fact, I’m actually there right now. I’ve dealt with much grief, sadness, and frustration with people this year alone. I feel like I’ve reached a breaking point. I’ve been anything but happy with the people in my life. It’s difficult to think about certain people without becoming enraged… In short, I’m done with people.

But  lately, I’ve come to a realization that I hope would be of help to you as it is to me. This is what I’ve concluded: just as people are unreliable, people are also overeliable. We wait too much on people that we are upset when our needs go unmet. Here’s the thing however, in which I have to tell myself time and time again. Not everyone is ignoring you nor neglecting you with bad intentions as we always tend to think. And due to bad experiences, it’s easy to put people in the negative. But it’s not like that at all. Just recognize that we rely on people too much when they cannot meet all of our needs.

In closing, I want to share some tips worth applying (I know I need them too)

  • Realize who’s who in your lifeIn other words, see who really is a friend. Ideally, friendships are two-way streets so they must be reciprocal. If you’re just chasing after people all the time with zero reciprocation, it might be time to cut them loose (depending on the situation). They’re probably not the friends you think they are.
  • Realize proper expectations must be made clearHaving done step 1, let your friends know what your expectations are that way they can do their best to meet them and vice versa. It’s easy to get pissed off at unmet expectations yet you never made them known to begin with! They’re not mind readers so something must be said.
  • Realize people will not always met your expectationsThus bringing us back to square one. As much as clarifying expectations is good, just know that people will fail you and you will fail them. Again, people are unrealiable and overiable which leads me to my next point.
  • Realize that only God brings contentmentPeople aren’t meant to fill the void, thus we will never be satisfied with them. Only God fills that space with His joy, peace, and love. As the apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content” despite being in prison, and receiving blessings from the Philippian church (Phil. 4:10-12). That’s why he says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength ” (v 13) as a recognition of Christ’s sufficiency. While people fail, God will never fail. While everyone else disappears, God remains right there wherever you are, however you are.
  • Realize that you can be happy aloneWhat I’m not advocating here is being anti-social or isolationist. Rather, you don’t have to wait for people to make you happy.  Otherwise you’re leaving it all on them and that is an impossible burden to them. Or you realize, that you don’t have friends period! Or you did, but everyone drifted away. But again, only God can fill that void.
    • Therefore, practice self-care. Take yourself out every now and then. Do something productive ,creative and fun. You don’t always need people for that. Remember, life is short so make the most of it. In doing so, one can learn to be content whether people are around or not because you’re no longer overwhelmed. You learn to love and accept them as they are, flaws and shortcomings included.

Anyways let me know your thoughts. Have you felt this way? Did you come to same realization I did about being unreliable/overeliable? I feel like the older we get, the more we realize it and are able to handle it better. But it definitely takes time and effort to apply. At the end of the day, it’s okay to have friends and meet new friends despite the inevitable shortcomings. But with God, it’s completely different. Now He’s the one friend who will never fail you. He’s the one friend who will never leave you nor forsake you. He’s the one friend we can truly count on!

Benefits of Biblical Meditation

In our last post, we looked at some of the reasons as to why we don’t meditate biblically. Here we will observe the opposite in the benefits of meditating biblically.

Benefits of meditation

Mental renewal
One feels empowered by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. It is necessary in the renewal of the mind instead of conforming to the world (Rom. 12:2). It is essential in having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). And biblical meditation functions in this manner. It is what we need to fight against fleshly, sinful thoughts.

Spiritual growth
As a spiritual discipline, biblical meditation is contributes to spiritual growth as one learns to live by God’s Word in growing in Christlikeness. Let the Word of God be your defense and offense against the flesh, not your own understanding. For how often do we say no to temptation yet give into it anyway? It’s best to apply the Word beforehand instead so one is better equipped against inevitable temptations.

Fellowship with God with delight
As much as studying the text is important, let biblical meditation enrich your fellowship with God. It allows you to think about God biblically, rather than your own understanding. It is in that moment that one cannot help but break out in worship to God, to cry out to Him in prayer, or to just be in His presence. It pushes one to meditate day and night (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2), or even while one is laid down. One cannot help think more about God in reflecting upon Scripture.

Digs deeper in God’s Word
Skimming has unfortunately become the norm nowadays in this digital age. It is all so fast paced with no intention of slowing down. With such a cornucopia of information, it is difficult to make time to muse on your readings, let alone one. Yet God’s Word ceases such skims with a call to careful consideration.

Truth is, the mind runs on autopilot and we up acting in the flesh. But taking time in biblical meditation allows you to slow down and chew on God’s Word as it should be. Mere reading alone cannot do this as it’ll be forgotten immediately. I love how Donald Whitney puts it in his book, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life.

“A simple analogy would be a cup of tea. In this analogy, your mind is the cup of hot water and the tea bag represents your intake of Scripture. Hearing God’s Word is like one dip of the tea bag into the cup. Some of the tea’s flavor is absorbed by the water, but not as much as would occur with a more thorough soaking of the bag. Reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word are like additional plunges of the tea bag into the cup. The more frequently the tea enters the water, the more permeating its effect. Meditation however, is like immersing the bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted and the hot water is thoroughly tinctured reddish brown. Meditation on Scripture is letting the Bible brew in the brain. Thus we might say that as the tea colors the water, meditation likewise “colors” our thinking. When we meditate on Scripture, it colors our thinking about God, about God’s ways, and His world, and about ourselves. Similarly, as the tea bag flavors the water, so through meditation we consistently “test” or experience the reality taught in the text. The information on the page becomes experience in our hearts and minds and lives. Reading the Bible tells the believer, for example, of God’s love. Meditation is more likely to convince him or of it personally and, in biblically appropriate ways, to cause a person to feel loved by God”.

This is a powerful analogy stressing the necessity of a meditational discipline in a Christian’s life.

Finally, Biblical meditation should lead to application

Where the mind goes, the actions follow. None of what we do is done thoughtlessly, it is all premeditated. For instance, those who say they “slipped into sin” as if they didn’t think about it prior are wrong. We are aware of what we do and why we do them. Thus with meditation of God’s Word, as it renews our minds and help us take premeditated actions in a Christlike manner. Ideally, biblical meditation must lead to application.

I know it’s difficult but don’t let God’s Word go through one ear and out the other. Don’t be like the man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like (James 1:23-24). Be diligent and disciplined in the things of God, such as biblical meditation. And as always, ask God to empower you in doing so and take charge! Over the next several posts, we will look at the different types of meditation and how to apply.

Why We Don’t Meditate Biblically

In this first post in the series, I want to address some of the reasons why we don’t meditate biblically. I’m certain that we can find ourselves on this list.

We don’t make time for it

Oftentimes, we say we’re busy but it’s all a matter of prioritizing what’s important. As a biblical practice, it should be a constant in the Christian’s life from the moment they wake up and follow up all day until they go to sleep. That of course, paints an ideal picture that is difficult to pull off. But we have all the more reason to do so in an age bombarded with distractions. Plus we deal with our flesh that desires not to do God’s will and we must always be prepared with the Word of God in our thoughts.

We’re busy thinking about other things

Again, it’s a matter of priorities. As Jesus says, “where your treasure is, you’re heart will be there also” (Matt. 6:21). The mind is used to being on autopilot, so to speak as it’s filled with what we experience. And so, whatever we experience stays in our thoughts which always influence our actions. For instance,

  • flipping out on someone is a premeditated thing, not spontaneous.
  • Going through social media and seeing everyone else seemingly faring better than you at life can overwhelm the mind with thoughts of inferiority and self shaming.
  • Thinking lustful thoughts can potentially lead to watching porn.

The struggle is real so we must make time to meditate in order to combat these things, and more.

We’re used to being fast paced

I feel like nowadays everyone has ADHD. They can’t seem to maintain focus on one thing for an extended amount of time. Thanks to the internet, we’re always scrolling and skimming through content without ever processing what was said. Yet biblical meditation is the complete opposite as it requires you to think (keyword: think) about biblical truth. It’s so needed.

So that’s it for this first post. What’d you think? This was by no means an exhaustive list but to provide some common reasons why we don’t meditate. Feel free to add more reasons on why we don’t meditate biblically. I’d love to hear from you.