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Mixing it Up

P1030759Syncretism is an interesting subject. We see an example not only in Dr Livingstone’s Sechele, but also in the life of Solomon. 1Kings 3 indicates that Solomon, the young king of Israel, took a peace bride by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter.

Born in the home of a warrior king, Solomon probably had his fill of killing and was going to do what he could to be a king of peace.

Yet as he begins, the son of David and Bath Sheba takes a  non-Jewish wife apparently as a means of turning Israel’s historically difficult relationship with Egypt into family. In addition, the same record tells us that, while making plans to build a temple to the God of Israel (that his father had dreamed of building), Solomon continues to worship on the “the high places” (as Israel’s neighbors did in an effort to get close to God) (1Kings 3:1-3) (1Kings 3:3).

P1030752Both actions give us examples of syncretism which by definition involves merging beliefs and customs, often in an attempt to co-exist with people of alternative religion and culture. It’s a process of “mixing it up” that is a matter of concern in both Old Testaments  (Exod 19:6) (1Peter 2:9).

What’s interesting about Solomon’s story, however, is that worshiping on “the high places” was far less of a problem at the beginning of his life than in his later years. In the record of 1Kings 3:1-3 the king’s early years inter-faith marriage and sacrifices on the “high places” were relatively small matters compared to the marriages and  kind of “high place sacrifices” that marked his later years (1Kings 11:1-11).

Seems like the subject is important for us to keep thinking about because it wasn’t just an issue for Livingstone and Solomon. In 2002, author’s Frank Viola and George Barna wrote a book called “Pagan, exploring the roots of our church practices.”  They showed how much of what we consider as distinctively Christian practice has its roots in something that would surprise us. In so many ways, like those who have gone before us,  we are all a mix of our personal faith, days, regional ways, and shared experience.

P1030667So here’s a question to talk about. What if we picture ourselves as being on a journey lived on a diagonal. Does it help to think that, at any given moment, the issue, as in the case of Solomon and Dr Livingstone’s Sechele, is whether, in this present mix, we are moving “toward Christ” or “away from him”?



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74 Responses to “Mixing it Up”

  1. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Yes, we have seepage into the church of pagan symbols and ways. We have co-opted the Christmas tree, for example, by adorning it with Christian symbols of the trinity, the cross of Christ and Biblical teaching like alpha and omega, sheep, crown and shepherd’s staff. We bring flowers and greenery into the sanctuary to celebrate Easter, and wheat, grapes and other growing things to commemorate the harvest in autumn.

    Some church groups and denominations embrace the symbols while some sweep them all away and insist upon a plain worship space containing only a Bible on a table. I have not thought of the trajectory of the Christian journey as being diagonal, but in the sense of our path moving through a landscape where opposing forces and pressures bear upon our action and purpose, I can see that it might be so.

    The sense of having Jesus in my field of view and keeping him centered in my life is the way I perceive discipleship. The communication – prayerful give and take – following him wherever he leads is a daily discipline. We are in community where we are taught and where we also teach, submitting to one another.

    Solomon worshiped with his wives, and he grew away from the Lord in that practice. Solomon needed the course correction of God’s commandments. There is no place for other gods in the life of a disciple locked onto Jesus day by day. Perhaps it is a matter of heart focus more than trajectory.


  2. SFDBWV says:

    We spend a lot of time here and energy trying to show that *law* doesn’t matter in the scope of things, but only the *grace* offered in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

    So why do we keep going back to obeying law?

    Jesus, it is said fulfilled the *law*; do we think he now comes and give new laws for us to follow aside from “love our neighbors as ourselves”?

    Will people lose their salvation if they put up a Christmas tree, have an Easter egg hunt, or buy their kid a chocolate Easter bunny?

    Will you go to hell because you aren’t married to the person you spend your life with? Or will you go to hell for marrying more than one person?

    Will you go to hell because you wear a turban or grow a beard or wear trousers instead of a robe or don’t do either?

    Where is the list of *rules* that says the blood of Christ does not cover?

    Solomon as I understand it joined in the worship of idols and other gods with his foreign wives and the idols they brought with them forsaking the God of his fathers.

    What is the *Good News* about Jesus? Is it not that salvation is offered to all for every sin?

    If you want to talk about evil combining with our faith in Jesus then what does it look like?

    A political opinion article I read just a few days ago put this issue forward; “The Maryland General Assembly abolished the death penalty in Maryland, yet upholds the right to abortion.”

    Do you see the irony in that?

    What was it that angered Paul and Peter so much about false letters, false teachers and false doctrine?

    Was it not because they presented a false representation of Jesus Christ? They say nothing about *incorrect* worship of Him.

    Have you ever had a long detailed conversation or debate with someone and laid down every point to express your view only to have the other person stare out into the air with glassy eyes and say, “Yes but”?

    You either get it or you don’t.


  3. bubbles says:

    This is why believers must go to God and ask Him to show us the right way to conduct things. He will show us if we ask Him. He will convict us if in the wrong in what is being done.

    It appears that Solomon was like a frog in a pot being cooked. The older he grew, the more he grew away from God and more immersed in the ways of his strange wives.

  4. saled says:

    That is a big word, syncretism. In fact, as I just typed it, I was told with the squiggly red underline that it was misspelled. Thanks for the definition, Mart.

    I loved the story of Sechele in the last post, as it adds to my hope that my own imperfect life can add up to something for God. It is extremely difficult to be pure. I think of the realization that the money from some of the retirement plans that some of us may be lucky enough to benefit from often comes from the investment in businesses that we would not approve of. For example: we may not approve of the morning after pill, but do we know if the companies that handle our retirement funds invest in it? This is just one example of how difficult it is to separate beliefs from culture.

  5. narrowpathseeker says:

    Saled, your retirement plan analogy got me taking that same train into similar territory. Like…what if we eat at places that have TV ads that are only a step or two from being porno films? What if we buy products that sponsor pure garbage on TV?

    I don’t think it is extremely difficult to be pure…I think it is IMPOSSIBLE..at least for me. I have considered that even being tied up with my mouth duct taped and thrown in a closet, I would be defiled with impure thoughts. I am not certain, but isn’t there scripture pertaining to eating that sacrificed unto idols and if another isn’t AWARE that it was sacrificed unto idols that we shouldn’t point it out to them? Actually, for me trying to know, remember, and understand too much as of late is more of a stumbling block than anything else. I know very little for certain, but one of the few things I DO know is that I WANT to be pure and Christlike and I am NOT, for any lengthy period of time on any given day.

  6. remarutho says:

    Hello All —

    As I consider this diagonal you mention, Mart, I think of graphing a set of values on a chart — whatever they may be — air temperature, pollutant content, persons who confess Christianity (or any other faith)… The data are collected over time, generally speaking. It seems to me this is what you refer to. The question is porous enough that I may be way off in my understanding of what you have said.

    When the church leaders objected to Jesus healing on the Sabbath, he told them, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John7:24) So it must be, I think, with us. The intention of the heart is clearly seen by the One who is keeping any sort of records. Jesus changes the record when it comes to our sins and impurity. So he did for Livingstone and for Sechele. Thank heaven he does it for me as well!

    Thanks for your transparency, Saled and Narrow! God gave grace in the days of Moses, but our access to that grace is opened mightily in Jesus. If not for Him, nobody would be getting out of here alive!


  7. remarutho says:

    Seems to me Paul confronted syncretism all over the Roman Empire. It was the only bill of fare in the towns and cities of everywhere except Judah. We see that sort of impurity today as well. The human heart and mind is likely to “mix it up” in spiritual things. Perhaps this comes from secretly wanting to do exactly what we want to do – not what any authority tells us to do.

    Paul warned the Corinthians, “Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:18, 19) Best I can tell, the church leaders had formed parties – and some were lording it over others claiming they had “greater gifts.” When the leaders turned their anger toward Paul, he reminded them that we are not qualified to judge – not even ourselves. (1 Corinthians 4:3, 4, 5) If Paul was overzealous, it was probably in the direction of holding to the Law. He continually reminds these Corinthians and the other Gentiles that we are all under grace by the gift of Jesus Christ, who fulfills the Law.

    Sorry to be talking too much this morning!


  8. poohpity says:

    I guess that is the best question Mart, “are we moving “toward Christ” or “away from Him” after all is that not the process we desire. / we come in at the bottom of that diagonal and over time we grow closer to Him but are the things we have brought into the mix pulling our focus away from Him to other things. It seems that Solomon came in with all intents on governing his people with wisdom from God and obedience to Him and left with the tug of idol worship to false God’s but his final conclusion was reverence God and obey His commands. Ecc 12:12-14 NLT

    When we bring other ‘isms and mix them with the foundations of our faith normally it can cause us to think that joy and that abundant life can be found apart from God. If we think that the things taught in scripture rob us from enjoying life to it’s fullest by stopping us from what the world does then there may be a problem. The things we are taught in scripture cause us to live a life of freedom and in turn allow others their freedom living a selfless life.

    If I force the way I live on others that is legalism. To me this is between me and God. Bringing in other mixes ruins the simplicity and beauty of the Gospel. I understand that at times there are some who are so unhappy with their lives and have lost hope that they search out any means to find reasons or want healing so bad that they are willing to blend or mix things to find answers to why God is not answering their prayers they way they think they should be answered and feel so out of control to make things better rather than a heart filled trust that God may be there to bring them through this storm while not removing it.

    There are many reason why people mix different things with Christianity but there eyes seems to be — rather than /.

  9. poohpity says:

    Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 NLT

  10. narrowpathseeker says:

    Maru, I don’t think you are talking too much at all! ;-) I loved your comment,”If not for Him, nobody would be getting out of here alive!” I think it brings everyone’s comments together. Steve, Saled, Bubbles, you, and I noting all the things that are so common today that are widely accepted that effects all of us are nicely packaged in that comment…if not for Him NONE of us would be getting out alive! Thank you and love to you.

  11. narrowpathseeker says:

    Sorry Pooh, I didn’t see you there. How are you doing with your knee and how is the father of your children doing this morning?

  12. tracey5tgbtg says:

    I’m having trouble putting my thoughts together, but I’d like to comment before the subject gets cold. I’m glad the word syncretism is out. Pooh mentions it sometimes and I’ve never been completely sure what it means.

    Blending different beliefs. What exactly is a pure Christian belief, ritual or tradition without taint from another culture? Who were the very first Christians? Jews who turned from everything they had been raised to believe and were despised for it, and anyone who wasn’t a Jew which meant a pagan. There were no other types of people.

    Mart wrote “merging beliefs and customs, often in an attempt to co-exist with people of alternative religion and culture.” The word that stood out there for me was co-exist which reminds me of a bumper sticker that I’ve seen lately which is the word “coexist” and each letter is represented by a religious symbol with the cross, of course, being the “t.”

    Because I am a Christian I believe John 1:3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

    Therefore all created things, including men and their philosophies and beliefs, exist only because God exists and created them. They cannot stand on equal footing with God.

    Saying things like “let’s just all get along” and “everyone brings something to the table” and “you respect my religion and I’ll respect yours” do not work. Someone who says those things really has no god at all because by definition for a god to be a god, it must come first and be above all. Otherwise, it’s just a hobby.

    Practices taken from various customs and cultures, like an egg representing new life at Easter, or a tree at Christmas, or rules, music styles and dress codes, aren’t in and of themselves wrong, in my opinion. It’s just that it is so easy to take our eyes off of WHY we have these practices and start making the practices the thing that has meaning.

    Narrow – your comment at 9:26 am cracked me up! I feel exactly the same way.

  13. Loomis says:

    The lime gap culturally between the New Testament and our own time is ultimately difficult, more a quest

  14. BruceC says:

    The problem encountered in an internet blog or forum is the loss of facial expressions, tones and inflections in our speech, hand gestures, etc.

    When I think of seepage into the church I am not talking of Christmas trees, Easter bunnies, etc.
    Nor am I talking about salvation. I do not believe in works or legalism in any way as a means obtaining salvation.
    What I am referring to is what we see creeping into the Church..those who claim to be believers. Such things as “there are many paths to God” which directly contradicts the claims of Jesus Himself. Or that abortion is okay. Or that the Bible is not really written or inspired by God but just a collection of stories that are good and moral. Or that it is okay for the church to have same sex marriages and approve of them. Or that the resurrection actually happened. These are some of things that I am getting at when I say “cultural seepage”. Not traditions around certain holidays, etc.
    I hope I did not confuse anyone; if I did i am sorry.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  15. BruceC says:

    Correction: I meant to say that some think that the resurrection NEVER actually happened; instead of what I typed in my above post.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  16. fadingman says:

    Solomon did not introduce worship on the high-places. The people were doing that before he built the temple. I get the impression from 1 Kings 3:2 that it had been going on for some time. It was ‘normal’, and hence easy for him to fall in with the crowd.

    Of course, when Joshua led Israel to inherit the land, they didn’t worship on the high places. They purposely tried to keep the law – and were punished when they didn’t. But gradually they let their guard down, and outside influences crept in. I’m sure it all started out ‘innocent’ enough in their eyes: “I just feel closer to God up here!”

    I think all of us are influenced by syncretism to some degree or other (at least culturally) and we influence those around us as well. Whether we were brought up in a Christian home, or came to faith after having lived in the world for a long time, the way we live as Christians is strongly influenced by how believers live around us. And those believers we look up to live the lifestyle handed down to them. Over many generations, Christianity has accumulated all kinds of extra-biblical ideas and traditions, much of which tend to be blind to (like the clergy/laity distinction, etc.)

    While we need to strongly guard against the corruption of the faith “once delivered to the saints”, syncretism of culture or customs can be a gray area.

    Just because a custom is extra-biblical doesn’t mean it is bad (i.e. Sunday Schools). However, we can become spiritually lazy by relying on traditions and what our forefathers have said and done, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit and what God says in His word. We should be continually or regularly evaluating what we do and how we do it in light of the work and goals Jesus Christ has for us. If a custom or tradition doesn’t go against scripture and is effective toward’s His goal, then keep it, otherwise abandon it (however difficult).

    – Andrew

  17. SFDBWV says:

    In the beginning Jesus followed the practice of worship in the Synagogue as outlined by Torah law.

    In Luke 4:21Jesus tells those in attendance that the prophesy of Isaiah 61:1 has been fulfilled, they wanted to kill Him for it as stated in Luke 4:28, 29.

    Jesus said of Peter “Upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18).

    In Acts 10:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 Peter is instructed by God to *violate* the law by eating unclean food, in Acts 10:15 the voice states “What God has cleansed, that shall not thou call common.”

    Christianity to the Jew is seen as idol worship and an affront to many of their laws.

    Christianity to me is a *sect* of Judaism or better said the *completion* of Judaism.

    Messianic Jews could certainly be said to have *blended* their Christianity with their Judaism.

    Who among us can say that the worship of the Messianic Jew is a syncretism and not synergy?

    Who among us can say that Christianity and the Old Testament is syncretism and not synergetic as in working together to produce the better desired effect?

    Romans 8:28 states that *all* things work together for good to them that love God.

    If it is acceptable that Jesus Christ can take a sinner and turn them into a Saint, why then can not it be acceptable for Jesus Christ to turn everything around to glorify He and the Father?

    What once was a pagan worship practice becomes an opportunity to show the true Creator and Author of life, not a blending of religion, but rather a transformation of faith.

    The danger in syncretism with regards to Christianity would be if we removed any portion of Jesus in order to appease the religious beliefs of others in order to produce *peace*. In such a move there is no *faith* in Jesus at all.

    I thought we had exhausted this subject in the last topic, I guess it is just me that is exhausted.


  18. remarutho says:

    Good Afternoon All —

    Fadingman, what a good word! You wrote:
    “…we can become spiritually lazy by relying on traditions and what our forefathers have said and done, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit and what God says in His word. We should be continually or regularly evaluating what we do and how we do it in light of the work and goals Jesus Christ has for us. If a custom or tradition doesn’t go against scripture and is effective toward His goal, then keep it, otherwise abandon it (however difficult).”

    It seems to me we discern syncretism in all its subtle forms — or its gross forms — and entrust the transformation of hearts through the working of the Spirit of the Lord in those around us. Does this not begin with prayer? Perhaps our toughest job is to change our own ways and allow the Holy Spirit to give us words when we are in fellowship with “them” — I suspect, as Pogo used to say, “Yep son, we have met the enemy and he is us!”

    I pray the Lord Jesus makes us more like him.


  19. narrowpathseeker says:

    Tracy, I’m glad I could bring you smile..;-)

  20. poohpity says:

    One may look out how voo-doo has found it’s way in Christianity. In the practice of voo-doo there is a striking resemblance to having one lays hands on another so that their body twitches and they fall back as if unconsciousness. It seeped it’s way in and then said to be something totally different like receiving the holy spirit. I do not think people really pay attention any more because many are not grounded in the Word so it is not easy to identify.

    Christianity seems to be, especially in America, a very shallow practice of what people to do not even know what they practice for sure. It is a place of mixed cultures like a toss salad and that has found it’s way into churches. The evidence is not only with so many pagan practices but the mishmosh of beliefs. It is sad because even the lack of understanding about what syncretism is and if one does not know what it is how do you know you do not do it? Does it harm a relationship with God Paul seemed to believe that it leads people away from God since he spent so much time trying to get his brothers and sisters in Christ to pay attention. We may not have someone who cares like Paul did for those around him to bring it to their attention.

  21. poohpity says:

    I believe that many would be truly amazed about how many different trains of thought are imbedded into Christianity here are a few pantheism, gnosticism, metaphysical, new age, science, eastern philosophies, etc.. If one is ever warned just check it out it never hurts to search for truth and if they are wrong then so be it, that does not hurt either.

  22. remarutho says:

    Amen Pooh —

    Surely that graph-line is laid out by our search for a future God has prepared for his faithful. It measures our struggles with the cultural forces that oppose. The diagonal traces our efforts to “hold to His way.” (Job 17:9) Perhaps we even struggle with our own tendencies to heretical thinking. We may check ourselves by the truth of God’s Word.


  23. fadingman says:

    Jesus did follow the Torah Law… and we’re the beneficiaries, for only by His obedience could we have had His righteousness imputed to us. But He didn’t follow all the extra laws and rules that the Pharisees added.

    Those ‘extras’ were also a form of syncretism. They weren’t from any particular false religion, but they bore a close relationship to them nonetheless. They were works of the flesh being added to faith.

    The flesh is probably the most notorious outside influence on Christianity today.

    The pagan and other influences affecting the church may be obvious, but the influences of our own sin nature are more dangerous in that they are more widespread and ‘accepted’. Pride and legalism are two things that come to my mind.

    Pride expresses itself in different ways, such as denominationalism, looking down on the heathen, etc.

    Legalism also comes about in various ways, even in trying to mix the old covenant with the new covenant like the Galatians did.

  24. fadingman says:

    …I guess all syncretism ultimately boils down to mixing flesh with faith.


  25. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pooh, are you saying that the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit is not scriptural?

  26. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Narrow – I think I know what Pooh was talking about. The chuch I was attending when I accepted Jesus Christ was a wonderful, welcoming, Spirit-led church. We went there for about 3 years. We had to leave eventually since my husband received orders to a new duty station overseas. About 6 weeks before we left a few people started a new thing which was that while everyone was going to communion, they would stand over to the side and people could line up for them to touch them as they prayed over them. The sole purpose of this was for these people to be “slain in the Spirit.” Each person in line would stand there being “prayed” over until they fell backwards and lay on the floor for a few minutes. This practice made me very uncomfortable and I did not understand it at all. I know others didn’t like it, but some, who I had deep respect for, stood up there for this “procedure.” We were already set to leave so I don’t know the outcome of this situation.

    I think that is different from laying hands on someone. I’ve been involved in that many times. Someone is hurting physically, or spiritually and the group they are with says “Let’s pray for them and everyone touches them and prays for them.

    Fadingman – thanks for your comments, they are very informative.

  27. narrowpathseeker says:

    Thanks Tracey for the explanation. I experienced that shaking, twitching, and nearly passing out while praying in a dirty old factory in the middle of the night. I had been convicted at church that morning with a sermon based on “He who says he loves God and hates his brother, is a liar” I was quite ignorant as to what was happening to me, but was enlightened by a Christian co worker months later. Several months or possibly years later while at a conference at a Bible College while the students were on break, a pastor asked if I had ever been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He had asked in response to my question. I was a little uncomfortable with those praying in tongues. It almost sounded like evil chanting to me. I asked, “How come I have never prayed in tongues, is it because I smoke/”

    I told him of that experience and he told me to come to the alter after the service that night. At that time he laid hands on me… While I was still ignorant to this act, I didn’t know there were people behind to catch anyone so, I fought the passing out and to the best of my recollection I think I got on my hands and knees because I couldn’t stand. I felt like those long balloons that the clowns twist to make animal figures was being blown up starting around my heart extending to my limbs, slowly and gently.

    I didn’t pray in tongues until a few weeks later when I was asking God for forgiveness for losing my temper after I had been baptized in the spirit…AND that was the ONLY time I ever prayed in tongues.

    I have long believed I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. The notion that I was instead hexed is a little upsetting.

  28. SFDBWV says:

    A few days ago I told you all about a Walmart cashier who came out from behind the counter laid hands on Matthew and I and prayed for us.

    Every time I hold a public meeting I open it with prayer, to the Father through Jesus of Nazareth.

    Each time I go out amongst people I always try to present a smile, kindness and a word or more about Christ.

    Would you say that the clerk is *guilty* of *blending* his faith with his job?

    When I open meetings with a Christ centered prayer would you say I am *guilty* of *blending* my faith with my civic duty?

    When I am out amongst people and speak of Christ and my faith, offer kindness and a smile, would you say I am *guilty* of *blending* my faith with my life?

    When you accept Jesus into your soul your life becomes all about Him. Every relationship and every aspect of your life changes into its being Christ centered.

    If I am guilty of anything it is hearing, seeing and finding Christ everywhere I look and sometimes perceiving the need for Him as well.

    Don’t be a thief and steal another’s Joy all the while thinking you are serving God, because in those moments you only serve yourself.

    As I already stated in the last topic or so, in the beginning the Gospel was told by word of mouth the laying on of hands and receiving of the Holy Spirit. This is how it was done in the beginning and nothing has changed.

    Anything that has been added to it wraps itself around this one event; this one event is what matters. All else is *flash*.


  29. poohpity says:

    narrow, how were you hexed? Did that experience bring you closer to God and help you remain in Jesus? Did it prepared you for the purpose God has for you to benefit His kingdom? Did it cause you to bear much fruit? Did it cause you to celebrate God and be filled with His joy? Or was it just an emotional experience for that moment?

  30. poohpity says:

    I never said that the laying on of hands is not scriptural. It was the shaking, body twitches and falling back that seemed to be consistent with the practice of voo-doo. I do enough things wrong please do not pull things out and make more of them than what is said.

  31. poohpity says:

    Hopefully our faith is our life, Steve. It would be nice if everything in our life revolved around our faith and there was no blending with the world but there is and obviously Jesus knew that. God sent Him to the Cross for us but hopefully He will grow bigger in our life and the world will grow less. The diagonal / is that the longer we are with Jesus the more like Him we will become. I can not push that on anyone I can only look at what is happening in my life and is the way I am living bringing me closer to Jesus.

    Talk about robbing someone of their joy, if we are secure in Christ no one can take that gift(joy) away from you. To me that comes from a complete trust in God nothing a human can do to give it or take it away. It is a Fruit of the Spirit according to what the Bible says.

  32. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pooh, it was the NOTION/THOUGHT of being voodoo hexed that was momentarily upsetting to me. I probably should have meditated before commenting.

    However, I DID shake, twitch, and almost pass out while telling God I was sorry I was filled with hatred, that I didn’t WANT to hate, but I could not change that. I do not remember in detail but I DO remember that I didn’t know much about the Holy Spirit but said something like if He made my life as good as people that didn’t hate anyone I wouldn’t have any reason to hate or something like that…that is when I started shaking. When it was done, I was having loving and forgiving thoughts about everyone around me…At that time I still had no idea what had happened to me. I know that was not voodoo…

    Pooh I am sorry that I misunderstood you, but you did mention laying on of hands in the same sentence as the voodoo twitching. In the same paragraph it seemed to imply people that were not GROUNDED in the word are easy prey. I was not at the time GROUNDED in scripture. I only knew the basics and I didn’t even KNOW what had happened to me. Therefore I had a momentary lapse of peace at the thought of what I THOUGHT you were saying.

    Anyway, PEACE be with you.. I meant no offense.

  33. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    It’s been bothering me why there’s even question on this. You can’t bring the world into church and expect to be Spirit led. We are separated and expected to be on the narrow path, to be holy. That’s our path’s focus. We are not supposed to practice or mix pagan beliefs in. Spirit led, God will be the one to provide opportunity to plant seeds in His perfect timing. Obedience follows.
    Today’s service was so Spirit led it felt like 1000 sermons preached in one! Also, my daughter has repented and came back to the Lord! (5 year detour)

  34. foreverblessed says:

    Thank you Narrow for telling so much about your experience, that is what happens a lot, and it is the Holy Spirit moving people. The hate going out and love of God going in. Thank you so much!
    Steve how wonderful that this man was praying for you in the mall!

    I would like to tell a story of a good friend of mine, a lady, who is very enthusiastic for Christ, she can’t help it not talking about it! Her husband is a non believer. Live and let live is his motto. So he goes his way, and he lets her having her way: going to church, inviting people at her home, being in the praise.
    In her home she has christian posters, cards and messages all over the place, in the kitchen, in the bathroom (toilet).
    She didn’t talk about it at home, but her cards were telling the message loud and clear.
    Her husband was getting tense, and was getting stressed. My friend was talking to God, praying, and He told her, take all the cards away, and let me do the work. The same night she took them all away, all were gone, her husband came home, and the next day he was so relieved, as if a weight was lifted from his shoulder.
    He changed, was relaxed, helped his wife with the music for the praise in church.
    My friend was so thrilled, that God took over, and had told her: Leave the bringing of the message to me, I will do it.
    You just be a happy wife, spreading peace and joy, I see in your heart that you talk to me, that you pray for the meal, you do not have to do it loud, it irritates him, and that is not for his benefit!

    Let the Holy Spirit tell you how to approach others, God sees in our heart how we are. So we can pray for the meal in silence, and do not have to feel we are doing wrong about it, as if we intermingle with the ways of the world, but be joyful for God knows what is in our heart.

  35. foreverblessed says:

    Amazed, I am happy with you for your daughter! Pray for all our children, that the Lord will reveal Himself in the time He sees is right.

  36. poohpity says:

    Amazed, good word and a halleluiah for your daughter.

    Great story foreverblessed. We can never go wrong trusting God.

    narrow, no offense was taken. I will just try and make my thoughts clearer. I am not very good at expressing myself through words anyway much rather talk to someone.

  37. narrowpathseeker says:

    AmazedbyHisgrace, I too am very happy for you and your daughter. You’ve both received a super major Blessing. I am guessing that your heart is overflowing with love, praise, and gratitude for Him. It is wonderful to hear such good news.

    Steve, your story of the Walmart associate that came out to lay hands on and pray for you and Matthew was heartwarming news as well. I was in the middle of commenting on that right after you posted it, when my daughter SKYPED me. They are in Antigua and the twins here with me are both sick. The connection was interrupted several times and I forgot to get back here to finish. I am very happy you had such a beautiful experience.

    Foreverblessed, you have a very unique and interesting way of using your peacemaking skills to get your point across while managing to be exceptionally uplifting as well. You are a true Blessing.

    Andrew, I know first hand what a problem pride can be, so I readily agree with you. False pride can still be a biggie for me, so I have to be on the watch for it, because it tends to slither in uninvited when I least expect it.

  38. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pooh, I have the same trouble expressing myself sometimes, these days as well as not always understanding what I read! Sometimes I read a word that resembles another word and take it for the word that it resembles. Then the whole of whatever I am reading may seem to make no sense until I finally catch the mistake. I need to be more careful reading and writing. I am glad you understand and aren’t offended. Thank you.

  39. Regina says:

    Good Evening All,

    Been away for awhile and glad to be back. It’s so nice to chat with yall again, and I hope all is well in your lives! :) I like the picture of the giraffe that Mart posted for this blog topic. I’ve seen that picture before in a previous blog topic, and I was wondering how it tied in with “syncretism.” I saw that word in one of poohpity’s comments on the Livingstone blog topic, and I didn’t know what it meant. So, I looked it up in one of those online dictionaries. I’ve learned a lot from this blog site, and I’m so glad that I found it. Getting ready to read a few more comments before I turn in for the night.

    Love to all…

    Unusually cool today in Texas (mid 30’s with gusty winds this morning and a high of mid 50’s).

  40. Regina says:

    After reading all of the intro comment, I got it… Solomon worshiped idol gods on the “high places,” and a giraffe is the tallest [if not one of the tallest(?)] mammal on the planet (one has to look “high” in order to see its head).

  41. SFDBWV says:

    What I have been trying to say since this *topic* began is that as long as the basics are in place, as far as the belief in Jesus of Nazareth, all else regarding the religion of these basics doesn’t matter.

    So what if we have Christmas on December 25 instead of September the 23rd, so what if we have a Christmas tree instead of ???

    Who worships a Christmas tree?

    Who worships an Easter bunny?

    Who worships an Easter egg?

    Of course our *culture* is blended with our worship, why wouldn’t it.

    But it is Christ we worship, and our culture shows it!

    This subject has become inane.

    7.2 inches of new snow this morning.


  42. remarutho says:

    Rejoicing over here about your good news, Foreverblessed! What a five years this must have been for you. God is so good. Pray your daughter will continue seeking and following Jesus. Blessings, Maru

  43. poohpity says:

    If one has heard the truth and knows that a Christmas tree, Easter Bunny or an Easter egg is a form of pagan practices and “can” draw our worship away from God then it would become inane but to find other areas that syncretism has infiltrated our churches then the subject has yet many areas to look into, discover, think and talk about. How will it help us? It will help to get rid of the things that distract us from the pure, simple truth of the Gospel by filling our heads with airy fairy thinking. Romans 12:2 NLT

  44. poohpity says:

    Steve, wow! It is the end of March and you all are still getting that much snow? Amazing!!

  45. poohpity says:

    I really, really wish our culture did show it is Christ we worship but to me it shows we worship people, money, status and stuff.

  46. Regina says:

    Good Afternoon All,
    Today is my birthday! :-) Please thank God with me for allowing me to see another year! I’m 46 years old today, and that’s not a small thing to me. What a blessing it is to still be in the land of the living…

    Love to all…

    Sunny and cool in Texas today.

  47. Regina says:

    What you said about the difficulty in separating beliefs from culture is very true, saled…

  48. poohpity says:

    Regina, may God’s blessing flow out to you on this day we celebrate your birth. Thanking God for having given you to us. Happy, Happy Birthday!! Love Deb

  49. narrowpathseeker says:

    Happy Birthday Regina! May you have a very special Blessed day.

  50. poohpity says:

    I was also thinking about our mega churches today and who do they resemble? I have thoughts about that but would love to hear what they remind you of.

    How in these big churches do they disciple those who attend in such large masses? Do folks know their elders good enough to ask them to come pray and anoint them when they are going through struggles or sickness? How often now do the leaders come and visit and find out if there is anything you need? Do you feel cared for or just a person lost in the crowd?

    Was the church meant to run governments?

  51. remarutho says:

    Joy to you on your birthday, Regina!

    It seems to me it is difficult to speak about syncretism without specific cases, such as Solomon’s increasing permissiveness with his wives, and Sechele’s return to the practice of polygamy. Comments and arguments become airy without actual examples.

    Consider Paul and Barnabas in Lystra and Derbe. On the one side are the hostile Jews (in Pisidian Antioch and Iconium) — and on the other the pagans who insist the missionaries are gods themselves. The party of the circumcision wants to stone Paul and Barnabas, the pagans want to sacrifice oxen in their honor. What is amazing is in this galvanizing “soup” of opposition, Paul and Barnabas keep proclaiming the Good News in Derbe and many came to faith in Jesus. (Acts 14:21-22) They even return to those difficult towns (Lystra, Iconium and Antioch)

    It would seem the worrisome human tendency to “Mix It Up” with other beliefs did not hinder faith in Jesus wherever He was preached. The overall measure of Paul and Barnabas’ progress was increased faith in the Creator God and his only Son, Jesus Christ. Maru

  52. remarutho says:

    Best add Acts 14:22, 23 to my reference, for clarity. Maru

  53. poohpity says:

    I think it did not hinder the faith because the “Mix It Up” was addressed so quickly to stop it because of the devotion of Paul and Barnabas to Jesus alone. They confronted those issues as soon as they noticed they were infiltrating. In today’s times it has been allowed to continue slowly seeping in where now many take it as status quo.

  54. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Maru – your comment, “The party of the circumcision wants to stone Paul and Barnabas, the pagans want to sacrifice oxen in their honor,” gave me a perspective I hadn’t noticed before. Some may be critical of you and some may think you’re awesome. But none of that is important. As both you and Pooh have said, it’s all about proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

    Happy Birthday Regina! Thanks to the Lord. He is good.

  55. remarutho says:

    Amen Tracey!

    We each proclaim the Gospel out of our own character and gifts. Glad you got perhaps a new view of that crazy scene of misunderstanding in Lystra.

    Somehow in the after-glow of the healing of the man lame from birth, people got the message that it is the Savior Jesus who did the miracle.

    Cannot help the reactions to what I say. The Lord brings in the truth, though I may flounder in my effort to communicate. We all give our perspective, and understanding increases, it seems to me, if we respond instead of reacting.


  56. Regina says:

    Good Evening All,

    Off topic here…
    Thank you, BTA friends for the Happy Birthday wishes! :-) I had an awesome birthday today, and, on this birthday, I’m most grateful for wisdom. Many things happen on any given day and I’m thankful that God taught me (through other dear brothers & sisters in the Lord) to rely and depend on Him for whatever I need in any situation or circumstance. Many of you know that I worked as a Substitute Teacher for several years, and I commented on a blog post in the Summer of last year that I’m now working at a Daycare/Learning Center. Well, over the years, I’ve learned the importance of getting along with and having good relationships with my students as well as my co-workers. So, because I value the privilege and the power of prayer (and don’t want to take it for granted) I strive to pray every morning with my little 4&1/2 to 5 yr old students this prayer: “Dear LORD, please let the words of my mouth, the meditation of my heart, *the thoughts of my mind*, and my every action be pleasing in your sight, Oh LORD, my God, my strength and my redeemer. And, LORD, help me to give thanks in everything for this is your will concerning me.” My goal is to cover myself and my students in prayer because I know that it’s by the power of God that we have “good days” at school and that it’s not by happenstance. So, on this birthday, I’m most grateful to God for teaching me how to *honor* Him in everything I say and do. I don’t always accomplish my goal, but at least I know that it’s possible and that God is “for” me…He’s in my corner cheering me on… Hope I wasn’t too long-winded in my testimony! Lol!

    Love to all…

  57. fadiriachi says:

    Good morning everyone,

    About being sensitive (or not) to local customs, there is also the sensitivity to local misunderstandings of the Word of God in our day and age.

    In the Middle East, ever since Daniel Bliss and many others began missionary work in the mid 19th century a lot of valuable work has been done in bringing an understanding of the Word of God. However, we find a huge gap in addressing the No. 1 Muslim misconception of God in our Christian faith — the Trinity.
    The main Muslim rejection is based on “Christians have three Gods” and that in the eyes of the guy on the street is straightforward blasphemy.
    Teachings, anecdotes, messages of any part of Christian belief has been presented in what would have been relevant for a “western” state of mind while little focus has been given to the first and foremost stumbling block for a Muslim man or woman seeking to understand Christ as Savior.

    I wish a consorted effort could initiated to, for example, present our God The Father, Son and Holy Ghost, yet one God in terms such as : Fire, providing warmth, light and destruction yet one fire.
    This is just one simple example but just imagine if some of the messages on this website and other ministries were also formulated to talk Christ with Muslims not at Muslims; maybe not only The Word would be extended more effectively to the 1.6 billion of them but also our Lord would be happy to report “Blessed are the peace makers”.

    Hope you bear with me; it is my first participation here although you are all familiar brothers and sisters… This website is what i wake up to every morning ever since i discovered it 3 years ago and the Middle East is of course is our collective geographic focal location for the obvious reasons of its future.

    God bless you and keep you all,
    Fadi from Beirut

  58. bubbles says:

    Hello, Fadi,
    Please know my church prays for you quite regularly.
    May the Lord bless and protect you.

  59. narrowpathseeker says:

    Good Morning Fadi from Beirut

    Thank you for your comparison of the Trinity and fire. Quite often when reading the bible or listening to sermons or other Christians, I go to the Lord and tell Him that I don’t understand. Once again I am into Romans and once again there are a couple of chapters that I read and reread and tell the Lord, “I’m sorry Lord, but I have no idea what I just read”

    The Trinity is something that has been explained to me in many ways, and I accept it, but I can’t REALLY grasp it. Although I may never fully understand it, your comparison to fire was very helpful for me. Thank you.

  60. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Fadi —

    So grateful you have spoken up here. Where I worship on Sundays, we also hope to understand the church in places so different from the U.S. Does the Muslim concept of Prophet Isa affect the way that those believers see the God-man Jesus?

    The fire analogy reminds me of the shamrock used by St. Patrick to explain Father-Son-Holy Spirit being one substance and three persons. Irish Christians have kept the symbol. It remains difficult to understand because of the scandal of incarnation — the Son born as a baby not so far from your city.


  61. remarutho says:

    Must add I do not understand the truth of the trinity either — though I rejoice in our God. Maru

  62. fadiriachi says:

    Hello again… and thank you so much for your responses and many more thanks for your prayers.

    We struggle daily of how to engage with our Muslim fellow workers, friends and acquaintances. Just today my reading was Ephesians of how “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world”. So if our Lord’s word has told us we are in battle, isn’t it our duty to act intelligently, do the proper reconnaissance of the enemy forces and have the proper weapons ready for each different battleground he is engaging us on?

    We are really very poorly equipped when it comes to engaging Muslims on this one most important topic to them. Most of them are basically decent people; it is just so offensive for them that anyone could say God is “three”… and hasn’t Satan been having one long field day with that misconception?!

    The example I try to follow is Paul in Athens using the “unknown god” of the pagans to clarify his message and see how to come up with something the audience can comprehend. Again, we have very little to work with but with the research and study capabilities of American ministries, for sure there must be a way to bridge this gap to more targeted messages.

    Maru, there is no God-man Jesus for most Muslims. Issa is a prophet for sure, very highly esteemed and therefore, in their belief, impossible to have been killed. He escaped crucifixion by some miracle and what we as Christians accept as matter of fact is for their scholars a literary hoax carried out across the ages. I must say the Egyptian Churches are doing some very good work in this area but it is still very preliminary and lacking. There is so much to be done for the people inhabiting the Holy Land and its surroundings. All we really need is just a collection of ideas for the lay people engaging in everyday life… a sort of a once a month Daily Bread for Muslims.

    By the way, here’s another comparison for you on the Trinity (although i prefer the fire one): Water, ice and water-vapor are all the same water; the different states it exists in is however only due to the conditions of the host environment it is found in.

    May God’s peace and peace of mind be with you and your ministries.
    Fadi from Beirut

  63. poohpity says:

    It is difficult to explain the Trinity and in a feeble attempt to do so I have used an egg as an analogy. The egg has three parts, the shell, white and yolk but it is all an egg. Each has a separate function but together they form the whole. Fadi, I pray for God to give you the words to explain as you continue in your ministry because He has told us if we need wisdom all we have to do is ask. James 1:5

  64. poohpity says:

    Fadi, there are some verses in scripture that can stand alone in explanation but normally if they are taken out of context we miss a further meaning when we read them within the whole. It is the Lord who fights those battles for us, we depend on Him. There is a difference in trusting God and trusting in ourselves which is what causes a lot of battle with others.

  65. remarutho says:

    Hello All —

    Thanks to God (and my daily Bible program) I read John 14 as part of my devotions for this morning. Jesus speaks of God being (dwelling) in him — the Holy Spirit to be sent to believers — and he himself coming to us. (John 14:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

    Prayers are needed for the work you mention, Fadi, interpreting this spiritual presence of God among his people to Muslims. It is good to know (a bit at least) how to pray for the work of the church in Lebanon, Egypt and all over the Middle East. How do you say Daily Bread in Arabic? :o)


  66. fadiriachi says:

    Maru Our Daily Bread in Arabic is Khobzona Elyowmi :)

    As you both say, the answer is always in prayer… Thank you for yours from you both. It is the only way to get through each day.


  67. fadiriachi says:

    Amen; He does supply indeed every day Maru…

    and who knows you may be able to say it to me too some day.

  68. s2inkzoo says:

    Fadi, on your question on explaining the Trinity, there is a good discussion targeted towards those of the Islamic culture at Goodseed.com There is a free downloadable book geared called “All the Prophets have Spoken” geared towards the Islamic faith. See page 180. I have not used that specific book, but have studied and had have recommended to me the “Stranger on the Road to Emmaus” book.


  69. remarutho says:

    And until that day, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant peace for Lebanon — living in a neighborhood that is a powder keg. Maru

  70. cherielyn says:

    So many comments here – way too many to respond to, but a couple stood out, those being tongues & the Trinity.

    On tongues: One of my sisters went to a Bible College in Minnesota years ago. For one of her courses she had to attend different churches & write a report on the differences. She related something that happened at one church she attended, “A man stood up and started speaking in tongues. Within moments, another man stood up and told the first man, ‘Sir, shut up and sit down! You just cursed God in perfect Chinese!'” The second man was a missionary who ministered to Chinese on the west coast & therefore knew the language.

    On the Trinity:
    My husband is: SON to his parents, HUSBAND to me & FATHER to our children – one man, three roles (or functions).

    Would like to participate more, but too often not enough time to do so these past several months. I read bits & pieces when I have a chance. Often I have not been able to read all of the comments before the next post appears, but you are ALL on my mind every day, regardless of my failure to comment.

    Welcome to the blog, Fadi!

  71. narrowpathseeker says:

    Cherielyn, glad to hear from you. How is Mike doing?

  72. cherielyn says:

    narrow, thanks for asking about Mike. He has his ups & downs. He wants to be back in his own apartment, but is slowly coming to realize that he will never be able to be on his own & independent again.

    On Feb 21st, his neurologist told him he could no longer drive. That was a real blow for him. As a result, his car had to be sold.

    He frequently makes comments that he has lost so much in the past couple months & just feels like giving up.

    As his mom, it is so hard to watch & yet I know that he is in the best place. His memory is getting so bad that, for instance, 5 minutes after breakfast he doesn’t remember if he even ate or what he had. Six months ago he could tell you what he had for breakfast a week ago.

    He has Lewy Body dementia. Life expectancy, from onset is an average of 8 years. He was diagnosed in May, 2009, but the symptoms started before that.

  73. narrowpathseeker says:

    Cherielyn, I am certain this situation is very difficult for you. I wish I lived nearby and could do something to help.

    For what it’s worth, when I get news of an impending painful fate, I try to remember that no matter how certain the messengers are of that news, that God has the final say. I hang onto that until it’s done, then I depend on Him to comfort me if He doesn’t override the foretold doom. I will be praying you and Mike, Cherielyn.

  74. fadiriachi says:

    Cherielyn, on the spot Son, Husband, Father analogy; one great Muslim-friendly tool in the bag. Thanks for that.

    and thanks Stu for the tip on the book; will check it out for sure.

    Maru, living in Lebanon and working also in Jordan means being just across the border from where the Lord will be coming :) . So close enough and therefore all well, especially if His coming happens to be in my lifetime.

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