According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Friday, December 2, 2016

Heidi Priebe - 10 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re An iNtuitive

10 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing
Because You’re An iNtuitive

Heidi Priebe
November 29, 2016

The MBTI inventory classifies iNtuitive types as those who place more interest (and often more value) in theories, abstractions and the exploration of possibilities than they do in the concrete realities of the world around them. iNtuitive-dominant personality types (mainly ENFPs, ENTPs, INTJs and INFJs) are almost always more interested in what isn’t being said or considered than what is.

But since we live in a sensor-dominant world, intuitive behavior tends to stick out like a sore thumb. Almost every iNtuitive personality will be able to recall many experiences in which their loved ones were thoroughly confused by their reasoning or behavior. Here are ten behaviors people often don’t understand are associated with being an iNtuitive personality.

1. Spurring debates.

iNtuitives don’t fully understand an issue until they’ve considered it from every possible angle. These types aren’t debating because they want to be difficult or impolite – they’re debating because they need to test the validity of the topic by arguing it from every side. They want to see if any holes arise in their reasoning as they go, and some of their best learning takes place through the process of debate.

2. Obsessively planning for the future.

iNtuitives live almost exclusively in the future – they love considering which options may arise for them, which goals they ought to set for themselves, what their lives may look like in twenty or thirty years, etc.

Of course, it’s impossible to plan every detail of one’s life… so the plan is subject to getting readjusted. For extroverted iNtuitives (xNFPs and xNTPs), the readjusting happens almost daily. For introverted intuitives (xNFJs and xNTJs), readjusting happens as needed – but the need tends to arise regularly.

3. Viewing the rules as suggestions.

It’s not that iNtuitives are rebellious for the sake of it – it’s just that they analyze why a rule exists before deciding whether or not to follow it. These types despise arbitrary action, so if they perceive a rule to be outdated or ineffective, they have no problem casting it aside and doing things their way instead.

4. Over-analyzing everything.

For the iNtuitive, it isn’t enough to understand how a given issue applies to them – they have to also understand the globalimplications of the issue, or the underlying theory that ties is all together. iNtuitives want to know the intangible explanation for every tangible problem, and it can drive those around them a little bonkers.

5. Placing little trust in authority.

iNtuitives types trust competence over qualification, and they want to make their own judgments about how competent they find others to be. iNtuitives are highly aware of the human tendency to favor convenience and prestige above analysis, and they aren’t quick to trust any established system simply because it’s been in place for a long time.

6. Relentlessly seeking variety.

iNtuitive personalities are naturally drawn to the abnormal, the uncouth and the unconventional. These types spend their entire lives attempting to piece together a comprehensive worldview, which means that they seek to understand as many different oddities as possible. Whether they’re seeking novelty in their studies, their lifestyles or both, these types are always on the hunt for new lenses through which they can view the world.

7. Developing obscure interests.

Since what they don’t know is almost always more interesting to the iNtuitive personality than what they do know, these types are likely to take an interest in niche topics or theories. Many iNtuitives enjoy exploring conspiracy theories or other such ‘unfounded’ methods of reasoning, as they enjoy the ‘mental gymnastics’ aspect of linking seemingly unrelated things together (even though they often don’t believe the actual theories themselves at the end of the day).

8. Socializing selectively.

Extroverted iNtuitives (mainly ENFPs and ENTPs) are considered the most introverted of the extroverted types. Introverted iNtuitives (mainly INFJs and INTJs) may be more traditionally introverted in nature, but put any of these types around in a room together and the conversation is likely to flow on for hours (if not days, if not endlessly)!

iNtuitive-dominant types are often quickly exhausted by engaging with their physical environment, but they are endlessly energized by quality conversation. These types tend to consider themselves to be ‘selectively social’ – they’d rather be alone than around people they don’t connect with, but put them around other iNtuitive types and their social side suddenly emerges with fervor.

9. Playing devil’s advocate.

If there’s a sure-fire way to get under an iNtuitive’s skin, it’s to insist that basically any issue is black or white. These types are quick to assume the role of devil’s advocate in any situation where they feel as though the opposing party is forming an opinion without considering the alternative point of view. These types are prone to vehemently arguing points they don’t even agree with, just to prove that an issue is more complex than those around them are assuming it to be.

10. Pursing an unconventional life course.

iNtuitives are naturally drawn to the strange, the provocative and the unconventional. They may be more prone than sensing types to have an entrepreneurial streak, to engage in non-traditional relationship structures or to experiment with lifestyle choices that are outside the societal norm.

Because these types take a ‘why not’ approach to their lives (or in the case of introverted iNtuitives, their research and learning), they often find themselves unintentionally rebelling from the rest of society. It’s not that they want to do everything differently – it’s just that an iNtuitive’s lifestyle tends to reflect their mindset – and the mind of an iNtuitive is a very strange territory indeed.

Heidi Priebe
Heidi is a staff writer at Thought Catalog. She drinks too much coffee and criticizes all Myers-Briggs types equally. Buy her books or follow her on social media.

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New Girl

The 5 Friends Every ENFP Needs In Their Lives

Heidi Priebe
July 2, 2015

ENFPs – Or extroverted, intuitive, feeling perceivers – are the zany, enthusiastic idea generators of the Myers-Briggs world. Many people get along well with ENFPs but certain types understand them much more intuitively than others. Here is a list of which types in particular the ENFP couldn’t get by without.

1. The INFP

We all need that friend who just gets us on a spiritual level – and nobody understands the ENFP quite as intimately and effortlessly as their introverted counterpart the INFP. These types share all their cognitive functions in only a slightly different order – making communication between them seamlessly intuitive. These types tend to share similar values, a similar worldview and a similar sense of humor. They enjoy a natural connection with one another as one can almost always see where the other is coming from.

This relationship is strengthened by the fact that each type leads with the other’s auxiliary function. When the ENFP gets too caught up in the world of ideas and forgets to tend to their emotional needs, the INFP is happy to sit with them and help them work through what they’re feeling. On the flip side, when the INFP gets stuck in an emotional rut, the ENFP is happy to help them brainstorm ideas that pull them outside of their head and get them to take real-world action. These types balance each other out in terms of their dominant and auxiliary functions and the bond they share with each other is downright irreplaceable.

2. The INTJ

The ENFP-INTJ connection was made in heaven. While these two types are theoretically perfect matches for one another romantically, they also make for fantastic friends. The effervescent ENFP lights up the INTJ’s world with a whirlwind of new ideas, whereas the INTJ grounds the scattered ENFP and helps them focus in on what they really want. These two personalities level each other out immensely and give way to some of the most surprising yet fulfilling friendships.

In a world full of people-pleasers, the INTJ is unafraid to cut through the ENFP’s bullshit and tell them exactly what they think of their choices. When done with tact, this is infinitely helpful to the ENFP, who tends to get caught up in their inner world of fantasies and ideals. On the flip side, the ENFP is able to encourage the INTJ to open up, take a few chances and see things from a different point of view. These two types can grow immensely through friendship with one another, as they’re simultaneously able to affirm one another and grow from each other. This relationship in particular is likely to be long-lasting and deep.

3. The ESFP

If there’s anything the ENFP needs from time to time, it’s to get the hell out of their heads – and the compassionate yet fun-loving ESFP is a fantastic counterpart for doing just that. ESFPs and ENFPs are considered to be look-alike types: They enjoy the same activities, find themselves in many of the same situations and are mistaken for one another in high frequency. Both are adventurous, outgoing people-people who enjoy taking on new situations. However, these types differ in their primary function.

The ENFP leads with extroverted intuition – meaning their world is ruled by possibilities and abstract connections. Conversely, the ESFP leads with extroverted sensing – meaning their world is ruled by in-the-moment action and an appreciation for aesthetics. Because extroverted sensing is a blind spot for ENFPs and extroverted intuition is a blind spot for ESFPs, these two types don’t always understand one another but they both feel wholly unthreatened by the other. This allows for an affectionate relationship to develop between the two types – the ENFP can go to the ESFP when they want to enjoy their lives around someone they feel comfortable with and the ESFP can go to the ENFP when they need a different take on an issue they want to analyze.

These relationships are usually incredibly quick to form, as ESFPs and ENFPs can tell quite quickly that they’re very alike. They usually remain close for as long as they are in close contact with each other, but may quickly lose touch once their original reason for connection is severed (I.e. if one of the two moves away), as the connection tends to be more situational than it is spiritual.

4. The INFJ

These two types have entirely opposite cognitive functions, which they use in the exact same order – making each the yin to the other’s yang. Though these relationships may take a while to form, they tend to be incredibly long lasting once they do. The patient, analytical INFJ balances out the zany, creative ENFP in all the right ways. On the flip side, the exuberant ENFP takes the time to truly get to know and understand the guarded INFJ, which they appreciate.

Both types are intuitives first and feelers second, which means they enjoy analyzing situations in detail before coming to a value-based decision – a process both parties thoroughly enjoy. To read more about the magic of the INFJ/ENFP relationship, click here.

5. The ENFP

Try as the other types might, no type is ever going to understand the ENFP as thoroughly and as empathetically as another ENFP. These types intuitively understand the way each other thinks, feels, makes decisions and takes in information. Regardless of external influences, two ENFPs can almost always tap into the other’s mode of reasoning and understand where the other is coming from. And for a type as imaginative and unconventional as the ENFP, being understood is an incredibly rare and valuable experience.

ENFP-ENFP friendships tend to burst into existence quickly, enthusiastically and happily – in classic ENFP fashion. Both parties will be interested in doing similar activities, deliberating over similar issues and spending down time with each another when they need it. Though these two scattered types may fall out of each other’s lives now and then, they will always be keen to pick up right where they left off. The ENFP-ENFP connection is an undeniably magical thing – no ENFP is complete without a close friend of the exact same type.

Monolatrism - Israel's Early History of One God Amongst Many gods

Virgil's Solis - God's Council


by Peter Enns
November 30, 2016

Did you know that the ancient Israelites believed in more than one god?

I’m sensing I should explain that.

What I mean is that the Israelites, at least for part/most of the biblical period, assumed the existence many gods. They were not monotheists (belief that only one god exists). That would come later in their story. But neither were they polytheists (worship of multiple gods).

They were monolatrous (Greek latreuō = worship): many gods exist, but only one God, Yahweh, is worthy of worship.

That’s why the 10 Commandments begin “You shall have no other gods before me”—which is better understood as “don’t worship other gods besides me.” And if the Israelites were to bow down and worship them, then God would become “jealous”(Exodus 20:3-5).

Rather than saying, “There are no other gods, so get that thought out of your head,” they are told not to worship them.

The Israelites, after all, lived in a world where every nation around them had its own high god. The Moabites had Kemosh, the Ammonites had Milcom, the Canaanites had Baal, and on it goes.

Gods were as plentiful as fire hydrants and traffic lights.

The Israelites expressed their faith in Yahweh by way of contrast to these other gods who were understandably assumed to exist, not by discounting their existence—that would be asking too much of them.

Imagine today a decree coming down from the top saying, “You may only do your banking in one specific branch (Main Street) of one local bank (Springfield Savings and Loan). You may not bank anywhere else, neither at Wells Fargo, nor Citizens Bank, nor even Bank of America. Nor may you do your banking at the various ATM’s that dot every street and mall.”

To have told ancient Israelites that they were to worship only Yahweh because, actually, no other gods existed would have been as absurd as expecting us to believe that these other banks, branches, and ATMs don’t exist. “What do you mean they don’t exist?! We see them all over the place!” Same holds for the ancient Israelites: high places (altars), temples, and images/idols were part of their landscape, an “assumed reality.”

And so we see (to name a few more examples) Psalm 95, a psalm that calls Israel to worship Yahweh alone and describes Yahweh as “a great God, and a great king above all gods” (v. 3). It’s hard to interpret this as anything other than what it looks like: Yahweh is praised for being greater than the other gods.

Or look at the “divine council” in Psalm 82. Yahweh is the “Most High,” like the chairman of the board over the other gods and chiding them for not doing their job of ruling justly over the nations: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?” (v. 2; see also Psalm 58:1-2).

Next, the gods find themselves out of work.

I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.” Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you! (vv. 6-8)

This divine council shows up in Job 1-2, another “heavenly board room” scene.

One more example is Exodus 12:12. On the first Passover, just before the 10th and final plague, we read:

"For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh."

The plagues are judgments on Egypt’s gods. Turning the Nile to blood is an attack against the Nile deity; the plague of frogs is an attack on the Heqet, the goddess of fertility, depicted with the head of a frog; the plague of darkness is an attack on the sun god Ra, the high god of the Egyptian pantheon.

To say that the Israelites were monolatrous is more than simply making an academic observation. It helps us makes sense of some passages and pulls back the curtain to help us understand a bit more of Israel’s theology.

To say that Yahweh was above all the other gods and the only one worthy of worship may not mean much to us. It may even seem uncomfortably wrong for such a thing to be in the Bible.

But for the ancient Israelites such a claim was counter-cultural and odd looking. It was a bold and theologically potent declaration.

If we want to understand Israel’s theology, we need to take these and other passages at face value.

- Peter Enns
*I’ve written more about the Bible in its ancient setting in The Bible Tells Me So (HarperOne, 2014) and Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker, 2005/2015).

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Amazon Link

The Origin of Elohim and Yahweh

I began reading Michener's Source several years ago and unfortunately put it down because of other projects requiring my attention. Having read a couple hundred of pages I had pleasantly discovered that Michener was attempting to piece together how a "consciousness of God" was to arise amongst Israel's earliest inhabitants. Well, of course, I was hooked right then-and-there.

At Relevancy22 we have examined the evolution of creation - a process divinely chosen by God as explained in many, many articles. But what hasn't been examined in any thorough manner (though I had began this task several times starting in the "Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve") was the idea of how evolution provided to our species a "God-consciousness." Or, when stated in a more biblical fashion, "How God provided to mankind a sense of Himself to our being."

Many Christians think this process simply "dropped out of the sky" when reading Genesis 1-3. That when God "instantaneously" created man He also "instantaneously" provided to man revelation about Himself. This is the traditional Christian view of humanity's creation unafflicted with the truths of evolutionary science. But when coming to God's divine process of creation by evolutionary means the entire ball games changes. And with it must our mental and religious "muscles" change too.

How Evolution affects Theological Thought

Let me sum up in very brief paragraphs what I know from six years of studying evolution from a Christian perspective (my apologies to first timers as we enter into this pool of infinity filled with innumerable questions). In essence, as evolution was a steady, slow process moving from the "spark of biologic life" to billions of species eventuating in the rise of our hominid species, so too did it take lots of time to evolve human consciousness (cf "conscience" interlinked with "eusociality"; and don't forget the metaphysical v. biological neuroscience/physics articles on how "consciousness may have resulted as a byproduct of the Thermodynamic Law of Maximizing Entropy"). Once these fundamental adaptations had been made within the human brain than God had the added task of developing within humanity its sense of "God-ness."

Which is where we are at today. God is still at work in our heads and our hearts, in our bodies and our spirits, pushing the evolutionary story of God-ness forward throughout mankind's narratives. But now we have the further salient foundation of Christ's atonement to help us forward towards mankind's recreation with God, with each other, and towards a new society. Typically we interpret the bible's recreation of mankind in Christ through terms like redemption, love, and eschatology. And in newer 21st Century terms like pyrotheology, process theology, relational theology, and the work of His Spirit within humanity (John Caputo's idea of insistence where he takes God to be metaphysically dead but sublimely transformed into His creation whereas I take God to be metaphysically alive but similarly transforming His creation through His atonement and resurrection back into creation). Thus my interest in developing a new language, a new hermeneutic, a new way of thinking and speaking to these incredible divine revelations. If you've seen the alien movie "The Arrival" you'll understand the need of learning a new language in order to perceive imperceptible truths. So too is the task of the Christian to speak God's God-ness to one another in ways that are healing, healthy, and renewing. But however it plays out God is pushing His agenda forward to redeem mankind in itself, in its relationships with each other, with the earth, and with Himself.

The Early Development of Religion in Humanity

And so, this is where there is a gap in Relevancy22's topical articles indexed alongside every blogpost I write or create. I simply haven't taken the time to write about the "early evolution of religion" within humanity - NOR, its specific biblical development within ancient Israel. These would be areas typically found in the university departments of the "sociology of religion," or "religion's early evolutionary development," or even, "how Israel's monolatrous religion evolved." You can imagine the many Google links which can be discovered and read on these many topics from their many points of view and then sifting through each one to find some plausible direction that can be helpful to the interested Christian. I might suggest besides my own website here that when doing the hard work of research to use the Biologos site as a good benchmark. They have many staff members compared to myself, working alone, and might eventually tag into these discussions when quitting from their continual apologetic work of helping Christians to understand the necessity of God's creation from an evolutionary framework. Another source I've recently discovered is Science Mike's podcasts and blog entries. These three web-related resources would be useful when benchmarking the wealth of material on the Internet re "the early development of religion."

Early Religious Development in Ancient Israel

But I digress, in James Michener's book he tells in very simple, easy to understand terms, how current academia think "religious consciousness" arose specifically to become a "monotheistic religion" centered on one God - rather than no gods, or many gods. Of how the ideas of "Elohim" and "Yahweh" arose concurrent with the time and place of geography amongst Israel's earliest nomads and settlers. For the time-and-effort it takes to read its opening chapters I think it is as good a place to start as any.

The storyline imagines with the reader the life of a stone age family, and specifically its members, as a sense of God-ness enters into their thoughts and breasts to transform succeeding generations. And slowly, through time, trials, and tribulations of wars and famines, these thoughts accumulate into the biblical portrayal of a monotheistic kingdom known as Israel that we read of in the First or Old Testament. Michener told a credible story - as he always does - with patience and wisdom by interviewing many academics, priests, and theologians in the development of his storyline. A storyline filled with wisdom and insight.

R.E. Slater
December 2, 2016

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Wikipedia - The Source

The Source is a historical novel by James A. Michener, first published in 1965. It is a survey of the history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel from pre-monotheistic days to the birth of the modern State of Israel. The Source uses, for its central device, a fictional tell in northern Israel called "Makor" (Hebrew: "source"‎‎). Prosaically, the name comes from a freshwater well just north of Makor, but symbolically it stands for much more, historically and spiritually.

Unlike most Michener novels, this book is not in strict chronological order. A parallel frame story set in Israel in the 1960s supports the historical timeline. Archaeologists digging at the tell at Makor uncover artifacts from each layer, which then serve as the basis for a chapter exploring the lives of the people involved with that artifact. The book follows the story of the Family of Ur from a Stone Age family whose wife begins to believe that there is a supernatural force, which slowly leads us to the beginnings of monotheism. The descendants are not aware of the ancient antecedents revealed to the reader by the all-knowing writer as the story progresses through the Davidic kingdom, Hellenistic times, Roman times, etc. The site is continually inhabited until the end of the Crusades when it is destroyed by the victorious Mameluks (as happened to many actual cities after 1291) and is not rebuilt by the Ottomans.

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Part of a series on God

Monolatrism or monolatry (Greek: μόνος (monos) = single, and λατρεία (latreia) = worship) is belief in the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity.[1] The term was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.[2]

Monolatry is distinguished from monotheism, which asserts the existence of only one god, and henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity.[3]

Main article: Atenism

The ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV initially introduced Atenism in Year 5 of his reign (1348/1346 BCE), during the 18th dynasty. He raised Aten, once a relatively obscure Egyptian Solar deity representing the disk of the Sun, to the status of Supreme God in the Egyptian pantheon.[4]

The fifth year of Amenhotep IV's reign is believed to mark the beginning of his construction of a new capital, Akhetaten (Horizon of the Aten), at the site known today as Amarna. Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten (Agreeable to Aten) as evidence of his new worship. In addition to constructing a new capital in honor of Aten, Akhenaten also oversaw the construction of some of the most massive temple complexes in ancient Egypt, including one at Karnak and one at Thebes, close to the old temple of Amun.

In his ninth year of rule (1344/1342 BCE), Akhenaten declared a more radical version of his new religion, declaring Aten not merely the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon but the only God of Egypt, with himself as the sole intermediary between the Aten and the Egyptian people. Key features of Atenism included a ban on idols and other images of the Aten, with the exception of a rayed solar disc in which the rays (commonly depicted ending in hands) appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten. Aten was addressed by Akhenaten in prayers, such as the Great Hymn to the Aten.

The details of Atenist theology are still unclear. The exclusion of all but one god and the prohibition of idols was a radical departure from Egyptian tradition, but most scholars see Akhenaten as a practitioner of monolatry rather than monotheism, as he did not actively deny the existence of other gods; he simply refrained from worshiping any but Aten. It is known that Atenism did not solely attribute divinity to the Aten. Akhenaten continued the cult of the Pharaoh, proclaiming himself the son of Aten and encouraging the Egyptian people to worship him.[5] The Egyptian people were to worship Akhenaten; only Akhenaten and Nefertiti could worship Aten directly.[6]

Under Akhenaten's successors, Egypt reverted to its traditional religion, and Akhenaten himself came to be reviled as a heretic.

In ancient Israel

Some historians have argued that ancient Israel originally practiced a form of monolatry or henotheism.[7] Both Frank E. Eakin, Jr. and John J. Scullion believe Moses was a monolatrist rather than a monotheist,[8][9] and John Day suggests that angels are what became of the other gods once monotheism took over Israel.[10]

"In the ancient Near East the existence of divine beings was universally accepted without questions.… The question was not whether there is only one elohim, but whether there is any elohim like Yahweh."[11]

The Shema Yisrael is often cited as proof that the Israelites practiced monotheism. It was recognized by Rashi in his commentary to Deuteronomy 6:4 that the declaration of the Shema accepts belief in one god as being only a part of Jewish faith at the time of Moses but would eventually be accepted by all humanity.[12]

A similar statement occurs in Maimonides' 13 principles of faith, Second Principle:

"God, the Cause of all, is one. This does not mean one as in one of a pair, nor one like a species (which encompasses many individuals), nor one as in an object that is made up of many elements, nor as a single simple object that is infinitely divisible. Rather, God is a unity unlike any other possible unity. This is referred to in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4): "Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one."

Some scholars claim the Torah (Pentateuch) shows evidence of monolatrism in some passages. The argument is normally based on references to other gods, such as the "gods of the Egyptians" in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 12:12). The Egyptians are also attributed powers that suggest the existence of their gods; in Exodus 7:11-13, after Aaron transforms his staff into a snake, Pharaoh's sorcerers do likewise. In the ancient Near East, the existence of magic was generally believed[13] though the Israelites viewed it as being malign in origin and were forbidden from it. With regard to miracle and prophecy, the Bible commands the Israelites to not follow false prophets (those who compromise the law) and not to refrain from putting them to death.[14] The miracles of false prophets are, like those of the Egyptian sorcerers, regarded by the Israelites as a divine test to see if the Israelites "love the LORD [their] God with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul". Jews and traditionalist Biblical scholars interpret the mention of other gods in the Bible as references to nonexistent entities, which the Israelites were forbidden from worshiping.

The Ten Commandments have been interpreted by some as evidence that the Israelites originally practiced monolatrism.[15] Exodus 20:3 reads "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," (Hebrew:לא יהיה־לך אלהים אחרים על־פני),[16] and they argue that the addition of "before me" at the end of the commandment indicates that not only other gods may exist but that they may be respected and worshiped so long as less than Yahweh.

Most scholars agree that the Hebrew Bible describes a monotheistic religion in principle. However, there is evidence that the Israelite people as a whole did not strictly adhere to monotheism before the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE. Much of this evidence comes from the Bible itself, which records that many Israelites chose to worship foreign gods and idols rather than Yahweh.[17]

During the 8th century BCE, the monotheistic worship of Yahweh in Israel was in competition with many other cults, described by the Yahwist faction collectively as Baals. The oldest books of the Hebrew Bible reflect this competition, as in the books of Hosea and Nahum, whose authors lament the "apostasy" of the people of Israel and threaten them with the wrath of God if they do not give up their polytheistic cults.[18][19]

In Christianity

Paul the Apostle, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, writes that "we know that an idol is nothing" and "that there is none other God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). He argues in verse 5 that "for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth", "but to us there is but one God". Paul distinguishes between gods that have no authority or have a lesser authority, "as there be gods many, and lords many," and the one God who has universal authority, "one God, the Father, of whom are all things" and "one Lord, Jesus Christ, of whom are all things". Some translators of verse 5, put the words "gods" and "lords" in quotes to indicate that they are gods or lords only so-called.[20]

In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul refers to "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), which is generally interpreted as referring to Satan or the material things put before God, such as money, rather than acknowledging any separate deity from God.[21]

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Science Mike + Mars Hill - The Psalms + The Stars

I recently met and spoke with Mick McHargue not long ago and would recommend his podcasts and science critiques of sharing God's "evolutionary creationism" and the searching questions he asks in the context of the bible. Like myself, Mike went through a period of spiritual crisis in his life where God turned his world upside down before propelling him forward into the teaching of his Word.

Now evolutionary creationism is not the pseudo-science-7-day-creationism-stuff but the real, hard-core, Darwinian evolutionary schemata placed into a post-evangelical theological context as we have discussed here at Relevancy22 in hundreds of past articles. My church, Mars Hill, recently began its science series in the late fall of 2016 starting with Science Mike whose vimeo link is listed first with an introduction by our newest pastor AJ Sherrill. The remaining three vimeo links are from AJ himself, but the deep stuff, the scientific stuff, can be found on Science Mike's website that I've linked directly below.


R.E. Slater
Thanksgiving 2016

More on Science Mike -

* * * * * * * *

The Series: "The Psalms + The Stars," by AJ Sherrill

The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 147
Posted on October 30, 2016 | Pastor: AJ SherrillScience Mike

The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 8
Posted on November 6, 2016 | Pastor: AJ Sherrill

The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 13
Posted on November 13, 2016 | Pastor: AJ Sherrill

The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 133
Posted on November 20, 2016 | Pastor: AJ Sherrill

11/20/16 - AJ Sherrill - The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 133

"Don't you just love it when coming to God's Creation
to discover that He SINGS all the time, and especially
when creating both the worlds and our own souls!?"
- R.E. Slater

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lutheran Hour Ministries - Advent & Lenten Devotionals

Lutheran Hour Ministries

Directions on using the devotional

Advent Devotional - .pdf or online

Lent Devotional - .pdf or online

What is Advent? -
The Church divides the year into different seasons that emphasize the life of Christ and the life of the Church. Beginning on Sunday November 27th, 2016, we will enter the season of the Church year called Advent. Advent is the season of preparation and anticipation leading up to Christmas, on December 25th, 2016 and continuing to Epiphany January 6th, 2017.

The focus of Advent is two-fold. On the one hand, we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world as both God and man so that our sins might be forgiven. On the other hand, we anticipate the day when Jesus will return to Earth and bring an end to this world. Those will be scary days, but we can look forward to the end of the world with hope because through faith in Jesus, the end of this world will mean the beginning of a new life with Christ for eternity.

Advent, then, is a time for us to repent and believe. Knowing that Jesus was born to forgive our sins, we repent (admit our failures to God) and believe that we are forgiven because of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf. Also, knowing that Jesus is coming back, we repent and believe that when He returns, He will give us eternal life.

For most Christians, Lent is a season of soul-searching, reflection and repentance. Lent is defined as the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus' withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days.

Special Days During Lent

Ash Wednesday

In the Western church, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and the seventh Wednesday before Easter. Its name comes from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of worshipers to symbolize death and sorrow for sin. In the Orthodox Church, Lent begins on a Monday rather than on Ash Wednesday.

Holy Week (the week before Easter):

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter Sunday. It recalls Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem one week before His execution, when people celebrated His coming by throwing palm branches in His path.

Holy Monday

Commemorates Jesus' cleansing of the temple, when He assaulted money changers and overturned their tables, proclaiming the temple to be a house of prayer. Some believe that this triggered His arrest and crucifixion.

Holy Tuesday

Recalls Jesus' prediction made to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Holy Wednesday

Recalls Judas' decision to betray Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver (once called Spy Wednesday).

Maundy Thursday

Commemorates the Last Supper, Jesus agony in the garden and His arrest. "Maundy" is derived from the Latin "mandatum" (commandment of God in John 13:34-35) For centuries, people in authority have washed the feet of their followers on this day.

Good Friday

Recalls Jesus death on the cross. The origin of the word "good" has been lost. Some claim that it is a corruption of "God" and that the early Christian called this day "God's Friday." Others claim that "good" refers to the blessings of humanity that arose as a result of Jesus' execution.

Holy Saturday

The final day of Holy Week and of Lent, a day of sorrowful remembrance of Jesus' time in the tomb.

Easter Sunday

Celebrates Jesus Christ's resurrection. In the early church, converts were baptized into church membership on this day after a lengthy period of instruction. This tradition continues today in some churches.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Psalm 13 - A Pslam of Deep Grief & Lament

Psalm 13

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? (Lament)
How long will You hide Your face from me? (Abandonment)

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? (Agony)
How long will my enemy be exalted over me? (Shame)

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; (Waiting)
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, (Mortality)

And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," (Death)
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. (Wickedness)

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; (Faith)
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. (Deliverance)

I will sing to the LORD, (Celebration)
Because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Hope)

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Psalm 13 Commentary
by C. Wess Daniels

Lament, as Walter Brueggemann says, is about

“Calling attention to the reality of human loss.
It is a given that needs to be processed theologically.”

Lament is prayers and emotions that express deep loss, deep disconnect from how things ought to be and the reality of things are. Lament is protest, it can be expressed in anger, or desperation as we will see. Lament is like a deep and emotional groan that becomes prayer to God.

In order to understand lament better, let’s look at a contrasting poem in Psalm 13.

Remember that the book of Psalms is the prayer book of the Bible. Quakers aren’t particularly great at using written prayers but these Psalms “praises” have been being used as prayers for thousands of years. They are collected here as prayers that we can use for ourselves.

I think this is especially helpful when we don’t know how to pray, or what kind of words to say to God. We can turn to the Psalms and begin to steep in these “praises” which, once you start reading them, aren’t all praises.

Henri Nouwen has said that these Psalms of lament are,

“For those who cannot articulate their own pain.”

In other words: here is a tool for deeper spirituality right here. Learn, pray, read, meditate on the Psalms. Take them and pray them verbatim or put them into your own words.

Let’s Read Psalm 13, our first Psalm of Lament, again.

Q: What are some of the things you notice right off the bat?
Q: Do you see any patterns or developments as the poem progresses?

People call Psalm 13 a Psalm of disorientation or a Psalm of darkness.

Those who understand Psalms of disorientation better than me suggest that there is a basic framework to these we can discern. (This same structure is taken from Brueggemann’s “Message of the Psalms” p.58–60).

A. Questions (v. 1–2)

(1-2) How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

There are 4–5 rhetorical questions here. God is put on trial. This is where we see the blame or the address made directly to God. The Psalmist here is not interested in having anyone explain what is going on or give any excuses. The Psalmist is only interested in questioning God for what is going on.

There are two major problems the Psalmist has with God:
  • Absence of God
  • My enemies prevail

For the Psalmist, there is something amiss in the relationship and the injustice, the brokenness drives his request into what Brueggemann calls “Bold Faith.” The accusatory language of this prayer may feel weird or unnatural but within the Hebrew tradition this is what the practice of lament looks like. Nothing is off limits. No prayer is inappropriate to God. To bring all your pain, your complaints, your nice prayers and the ugly ones are all a part of having a “bold faith.”

It is bold because it refuses to live in a pretend reality. It faces squarely into the darkness and disorientation of life. And it declares that this darkness, especially our darkness, must be put into conversation with God. Nothing should be held back from God. Everything must be brought to speech, and everything brought to speech must be addressed to God, who is the final reference for all of life” (The Message of the Psalms, 52).

B. Beyond Coping (v. 3–4)

(3-4) Consider and answer me, O LORD my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

The Psalmist is beyond coping. He is at his wit’s end. There are no more explanations, not more resources, no more excuses that can be given. But he refuses to give up.

He too, like Abigail, is about to die.

I sympathize with the prayer’s author because he stands in that in between life and death; where there is a teetering on just making it and completely losing himself. I feel as though I have no place left to stand.

“Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.”

This truly is disorientation.

In Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book “Lament for a Son” he describes this in-between well:

"But the pain of the no more outweighs the gratitude of the once was."

He knows the in-between and describes it well when he receives a call about the death of his son:

“The call came at 3:30 on that Sunday afternoon, a bright sunny day. We had just sent a younger brother off to the plane to be with him for the summer.

”Mr. Wolterstorff?“


”Is this Eric’s father?“


Mr. Wolterstorff, I must give you some bad news.”


“Eric has been climbing in the mountains and has had an accident.”


“Eric has had a serious accident.”


“Mr. Wolterstorff, I must tell you , Eric is dead. Mr. Wolderstorff, are you there? You must come at once. Mr. Wolterstorff, Eric is dead.”

“For three seconds I felt the peace of resignation: arms extended, limp son in hand, peacefully offering him to someone – Somone. Then the pain – cold burning pain.”

Our lament is like telephone call, the juncture between two great distances. We know it is true lament when we are beyond coping and we know that we are on the brink of life or death.

C. Waiting

And then the Psalmist waits. We don’t know for how long. But we know that he waits in the darkness. He becomes oriented with disorientation and stays there.

D. New Orientation (v 5)

(5-6) But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

And after so prolonged period of time he finds resolution in the lovingkindness of God. This is not some trite “everything works out to the good” because we know there are plenty of stories that never get told and plenty of endings that never end in a complete sentence or a period.

Instead, for the one who is transformed through lament, light comes to their eyes and they come to understand that “Nothing Shall Separate us from the Love of God.”

…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 8:37–39 NRSV)

Brought to Speech

The important thing about Lament is that our suffering, our darkness, and disorientation is “brought to speech” in relationship with God. There is nothing you experience, no pain too deep, no sense of loss so tragic that you ought not to just take it to God but to make it God’s business to transform the situation.

All of our lives must be brought into dialogue with the lovingkindness of God if we are to be transformed. Even if the circumstances are irreversible, that does not mean we cannot find a new orientation by practicing this bold kind of faith.

The Psalmist knows that one option really is death, literal, spiritual or emotional death. These are always live options for us too. And to remain silent is to allow that death to creep in. It is to wall God off and and forego the change that is possible.

“Everything is awesome” is the theme song not just of the Lego movie but of all who live comfortably in America. To practice lament is to challenge this. It is to refuse to pretend and instead face reality squarely. To voice our disorientation. To address God fully. To pour out the depths of our hearts and to await transformation because we trust that God’s lovingkindness is the final reference for all of life.

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Matthew Henry Commentary - Psalm 13

This psalm is the deserted soul's case and cure. Whether it was penned upon any particular occasion does not appear, but in general,

I. David sadly complains that God had long withdrawn from him and delayed to relieve him (v. 1, 2).

II. He earnestly prays to God to consider his case and comfort him (v. 3, 4).

III. He assures himself of an answer of peace, and therefore concludes the psalm with joy and triumph, because he concludes his deliverance to be as good as wrought (v. 5, 6).

To the chief musician. A psalm of David.

Verses 1-6

David, in affliction, is here pouring out his soul before God; his address is short, but the method is very observable, and of use for direction and encouragement.


His troubles extort complaints (v. 1, 2); and the afflicted have liberty to pour out their complaint before the Lord, Ps. 102 title. It is some ease to a troubled spirit to give vent to its griefs, especially to give vent to them at the throne of grace, where we are sure to find one who is afflicted in the afflictions of his people and is troubled with the feeling of their infirmities; thither we have boldness of access by faith, and there we have parreµsia—freedom of speech.Observe here,

1. What David complains of. (1.) God's unkindness; so he construed it, and it was his infirmity. He thought God had forgotten him, had forgotten his promises to him, his covenant with him, his former lovingkindness which he had shown him and which he took to be an earnest of further mercy, had forgotten that there was such a man in the world, who needed and expected relief and succour from him. Thus Zion said, My God has forgotten me (Isa. 49:14), Israel said, My way is hidden from the Lord, Isa. 40:27. Not that any good man can doubt the omniscience, goodness, and faithfulness of God; but it is a peevish expression of prevailing fear, which yet, when it arises from a high esteem and earnest desire of God's favour, though it be indecent and culpable, shall be passed by and pardoned, for the second thought will retract it and repent of it. God hid his face from him, so that he wanted that inward comfort in God which he used to have, and herein was a type of Christ upon the cross, crying out, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?God sometimes hides his face from his own children, and leaves them in the dark concerning their interest in him; and this they lay to heart more than any outward trouble whatsoever. (2.) His own uneasiness. [1.] He was racked with care, which filled his head: I take counsel in my soul; "I am at a loss, and am inops consilii—without a friend to advise with that I can put any confidence in, and therefore am myself continually projecting what to do to help myself; but none of my projects are likely to take effect, so that I am at my wits' end, and in a continual agitation." Anxious cares are heavy burdens with which good people often load themselves more than they need. [2.] He was overwhelmed with sorrow, which filled his heart: I have sorrow in my heart daily. He had a constant disposition to sorrow and it preyed upon his spirits, not only in the night, when he was silent and solitary, but by day too, when lighter griefs are diverted and dissipated by conversation and business; nay, every day brought with it fresh occasions of grief; the clouds returned after the rain. The bread of sorrow is sometimes the saint's daily bread. Our Master himself was a man of sorrows. (3.) His enemies' insolence, which added to his grief. Saul his great enemy, and others under him, were exalted over him, triumphed in his distress, pleased themselves with his grief, and promised themselves a complete victory over him. This he complained of as reflecting dishonour upon God, and his power and promise.

2. How he expostulates with God hereupon: "How long shall it be thus?" And, "Shall it be thus for ever?" Long afflictions try our patience and often tire it. It is a common temptation, when trouble lasts long, to think it will last always; despondency then turns into despair, and those that have long been without joy begin, at last, to be without hope. "Lord, tell me how long thou wilt hide thy face, and assure me that it shall not be for ever, but that thou wilt return at length in mercy to me, and then I shall the more easily bear my present troubles."


His complaints stir up his prayers, v. 3, 4. We should never allow ourselves to make any complaints but what are fit to be offered up to God and what drive us to our knees. Observe here,

1. What his petitions are: Consider my case, hear my complaints, and enlighten my eyes, that is, (1.) "Strengthen my faith;" for faith is the eye of the soul, with which it sees above, and sees through, the things of sense. "Lord, enable me to look beyond my present troubles and to foresee a happy issue of them." (2.) "Guide my way; enable me to look about me, that I may avoid the snares which are laid for me." (3.) "Refresh my soul with the joy of thy salvation." That which revives the drooping spirits is said to enlighten the eyes, 1 Sa. 14:27; Ezra 9:8. "Lord, scatter the cloud of melancholy which darkens my eyes, and let my countenance be made pleasant."

2. What his pleas are. He mentions his relation to God and interest in him (O Lord my God!) and insists upon the greatness of the peril, which called for speedy relief and succour. If his eyes were not enlightened quickly, (1.) He concludes that he must perish: "I shall sleep the sleep of death; I cannot live under the weight of all this care and grief." Nothing is more killing to a soul then the want of God's favour, nothing more reviving than the return of it. (2.) That then his enemies would triumph: "Lest my enemy say, So would I have it; lest Saul, lest Satan, be gratified in my fall." It would gratify the pride of his enemy: He will say, "I have prevailed, I have gotten the day, and been too hard for him and his God." It would gratify the malice of his enemies: They will rejoice when I am moved. And will it be for God's honour to suffer them thus to trample upon all that is sacred both in heaven and earth?


His prayers are soon turned into praises (v. 5, 6): But my heart shall rejoice and I will sing to the Lord. What a surprising change is here in a few lines! In the beginning of the psalm we have him drooping, trembling, and ready to sink into melancholy and despair; but, in the close of it, rejoicing in God, and elevated and enlarged in his praises. See the power of faith, the power of prayer, and how good it is to draw near to God. If we bring our cares and griefs to the throne of grace, and leave them there, we may go away like Hannah, and our countenance will be no more sad, 1 Sa. 1:18. And here observe the method of his comfort. 1. God's mercy is the support of his faith. "My case is bad enough, and I am ready to think it deplorable, till I consider the infinite goodness of God; but, finding I have that to trust to, I am comforted, though I have no merit of my own. In former distresses I have trusted in the mercy of God, and I never found that it failed me; his mercy has in due time relieved me and my confidence in it has in the mean time supported me. Even in the depth of this distress, when God hid his face from me, when without were fightings and within were fears, yet I trusted in the mercy of God and that was as an anchor in a storm, by the help of which, though I was tossed, I was not overset." And still I do trust in thy mercy; so some read it. "I refer myself to that, with an assurance that it will do well for me at last." This he pleads with God, knowing what pleasure he takes in those that hope in his mercy, Ps. 147:11. 2. His faith in God's mercy filled his heart with joy in his salvation; for joy and peace come by believing, Rom. 15:13. Believing, you rejoice, 1 Pt. 1:8. Having put his trust in the mercy of God, he is fully assured of salvation, and that his heart, which was now daily grieving, should rejoice in that salvation. Though weeping endure long, joy will return. 3. His joy in God's salvation would fill his mouth with songs of praise (v. 6): "I will sing unto the Lord, sing in remembrance of what he has done formerly; though I should never recover the peace I have had, I will die blessing God that ever I had it. He has dealt bountifully with me formerly, and he shall have the glory of that, however he is pleased to deal with me now. I will sing in hope of what he will do for me at last, being confident that all will end well, will end everlastingly well." But he speaks of it as a thing past (He has dealt bountifully with me), because by faith he had received the earnest of the salvation and he was as confident of it as if it had been done already.

In singing this psalm and praying it over, if we have not the same complaints to make that David had, we must thank God that we have not, dread and deprecate his withdrawings, sympathize with those that are troubled in mind, and encourage ourselves in our most holy faith and joy.