Monthly Archives: November 2015

Critical Thinking

It amazes me how often people disparage ‘faith’ and almost equate it with ‘thoughtlessness’. In the world of thought in our culture, oftentimes ‘critical thinking’ is described as ‘scientific’ and separate from a belief system. Critical thinking is found in the bible! In Hebrews 4:12 there is a beautiful example:

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

This, in my opinion, is the ultimate goal for thinking critically.  It is the basis for making sound decisions. The context for this verse in this section of Hebrews is ‘entering into the rest’. God desires rest and peace for His people and it requires thought, intent and energy that comes from God.

God designed the human mind to think, feel, motivate, and stimulate action. In Ephesians 6:17, we are told to “take  the helmet (why the helmet?) of salvation (wholeness) and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God”! The result of putting this all together is the true rest.

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Trusting, Expecting and Love

The group of people to whom the book of Thessalonians is addressed to were a remarkable group. Despite pressure from the status quo of that time, they stood out ‘like a healed thumb’. They were not ‘tide riders’ or ‘crowd followers’. When Paul shared the word with them he did not use flattery nor power positioning to pull people to his way of thinking. Paul loved them and he gave them the simple truth in so much that how these people acted as a result was widely reported.

9 For they themselves (people who observed) shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols (faith) to serve the living and true God (love); 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven (hope), whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Paul himself said of them:

3 Remembering without ceasing your work (effort) of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 1 Thessalonians 1:3

The three ‘virtues’ mentioned here: faith, hope and love, are all active and  are exhibitions of trust. They occur together in several passages. Interestingly enough, faith is usually listed first. Trusting God is what is primary in hoping and in loving (all ‘ing’ verbs).

Hope, in our culture, is often describes as ‘wishful thinking’.  Biblical hope is not wishful thinking.  It is active, visible (Paul saw it in the way the Thessalonians lived) and assured, more like an ‘expectation’. When we invite someone over for dinner and they accept our invitation we don’t wish they will show up, we expect them to come. We prepare for their visit. We don’t sit around fiddling our thumbs; we are busy. We turn away from the idols of this world to enter into an expectant rest which is not passive in any sense of the Word.

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast  the profession of our faith without wavering (hope = active expectation); (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Hebrews 10:22-24

Love is very active and true love reflects God love.  It is productive  and fruitful. Love is a stimulant. It is the right word at the right time with the right truth that explodes and starts a domino effect with everyone it touches and that is why it is the greatest:

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

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“Droptrine”

In Deuteronomy 32:2, the word ‘doctrine’ is used for the first time:

2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:  Deuteronomy 32:2

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This verse paints a refreshing picture of the effect of the word of God on us. As one focuses on each of the phrases the simile dances beautifully and melodically in the mind.

When rain is used to describe ‘doctrine’ or ‘good teaching’, several thoughts come to my mind. Rain falls out of heaven to earth as ‘doctrine’ falls on man from God. It falls on the ‘just and unjust alike’ (Matt 5:45) and usually spreads out evenly over a large area. It falls where it is sent and more so. It cools, refreshes moistens, softens, revives and produces fruit.

Dew is moisture that condenses from the atmosphere when the temperature drops below the dew point. In the region where Israel is located, there isn’t much rain during April through July. Dew is, therefore, very important for their crops. As dew condenses on  certain plants with trough-shaped leaves, the water trickles down to the base of the plant. The shade of the leaf will slow down immediate evaporation from sunrise and water will seep into the soil to a shallow root system to be utilized by the plant. Israel considered dew as a reminder of God’s constant and unfailing care.

5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. Hosea 14:5

Sometimes it amazes me how refreshing the Word of God is at the right time and moment; especially when things seem weird and chaotic. It is like jumping into a long cool shower at the end of a hot summer day or, like dew, it seems to come out of nowhere to shower the brain cells with a cool, softening mist. God is so good to us as He blesses us with His infinite wisdom and grace. I am always blessed  and revived when I think of James 3:17-18:

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:17-18

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