Thursday, September 26, 2019

I Use Blinkist and Evernote for Better Writing and Public Speaking and Recommend It to Everyone

My day is filled with appointments, funerals, counseling sessions, personal visits, and a host of other pastoral duties that s.t.r.e.t.c.h. m.e. t.h.i.n. - Many transformative moments occur in those private moments with people in crisis, but few people will know about them because they are by nature private. 

That's why more folks will know me through my public speaking or writing and not my private ministry. But therein is my dilemma. Finding the time to adequately prepare for excellent public speaking and writing is difficult.

My dilemma of time for reading is only heightened by my knowledge that a good speaker's mind is broadened by material that is being read outside of one's own expertise and that ultimately makes the speaker more captivating in public presentations.

Or, to put it another way: A one-note minister makes stale messages like a one-note musician makes stale music.

That's why I want to read more for personal pleasure. I want to be the better professional speaker and writer I can be. I just don't have the time to read books on subjects outside of my specialized field of history and theology.

Until now.

I recently purchased a digital application called Blinkist, The annual subscription was $99.00.

In the last two weeks, I've read or listened to two dozen condensed books - or Blinks - written about fields that I would have zero time to read or research during personal reading.

Through computer technology using word content and structural algorithms, Blinkist condenses books into a thorough, unified, and complete synopsis. Instead of taking 12 hours to read the book, it takes you 12 minutes to read the superb synopsis.

There's a host of professional articles that have been written about Blinkist, including articles from The Guardian, Forbes, and the New York Times.

I haven't been asked to share my assessment, nor am I receiving any compensation from Blinkist for this recommendation of their product.

All I know is it works.

I love Blinkist.

I've tied Evernote to my Blink account so that when I highlight stories, principles, or memorable anecdotes in Blink, Evernote transcribes what I've highlighted and sends the written information to my Evernote account for later use in my speaking or writing. 

For example, I would never have time to read a book on the practice of meditation by author Thich Nhat Hanh. I'd never buy it. I'd never read it.

But in 12 minutes, through Blink, I was able to read a synopsis of The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. A story in Hanh's book so captivated me, I highlighted it and Evernote sent the written transcription to my notes account. 

Here's the story I highlighted from reading the blink of The Miracle of Mindfulness.  
"In the 1940s, when Thích Nhất Hạnh was a novice monk at Tu Hieu Pagoda monastery in Hue, Vietnam, he was often handed the unenviable task of standing in the kitchen on a cold winter’s day, cleaning the dishes for around one hundred other monks. This was made even more laborious by the fact that he had no soap to use – only ashes, husks of rice and freezing water.Since then, the monastery’s kitchen has been equipped with hot running water, soap and scourers. The novice monks can do the dishes quickly, and relax with a cup of tea to reward themselves afterward. But surprisingly, instead of viewing these modern upgrades as an improvement, the author views them as a problem for today’s novice dishwashers. Why? Because he believes that doing dishes simply because you want them to be clean is the wrong way of approaching this task. The right way to wash up is to clean the dishes purely for the sake of cleaning the dishes.If we hurry through the dishes like a boring chore to be endured, with our minds already looking ahead to the cup of tea waiting for us when we’re finished, then we cannot possibly be cleaning the dishes for the sake of cleaning them. Moreover, we cannot be fully alive while undertaking this task. It’s impossible for us, as we stand in front of the sink wishing away the time, to appreciate the wonder that is life. That’s because we’re neither conscious nor mindful of our bodies, our movements, or the thoughts that we’re experiencing in those precious moments of doing the dishes. Instead, we’re already living in the future, sitting at the table with that cup of tea. In other words, you’re not really cleaning the dishes at all. In fact, once you get to that cup of tea, your mind will already be focused on still other matters, only dimly aware of the taste of the tea in your mouth. So, again, you will be ripped away from the present, into the future, unable really to live even a few moments of your life. But there is a better way. Whatever we find ourselves doing at any given moment, we must be fully conscious and mindful of it."
I'll be using Hanh's story in a future talk I give. His is not a book I would have read without the Blink app.

I highly recommend combining Blinkist and Evernote to become a better speaker and writer.


Chris said...

Charlie "Tremendous" Jones quoted:
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Just signed up for the free trial to check it out. Looks like it will be a great asset. Perfect for reading between customers. There seems to be a lean towards eastern religious philosophy in many of the book descriptions, but still many other titles. Toastmasters is a great place for improving public communication also. Been attending the Monday meeting in the city and there is usually 15 - 20 people. It is difficult for me to get into a book and stick with it, so I am excited about checking this out. Thanks for sharing!

Looking forward to hearing your future comments on mindfulness. This was practiced daily at the treatment center and I was a bit skeptical about it because of association I always made with it and Buddhism. I do know that many Christians practice it though, and there are benefits from it. Please write a post on it once you have finished your study. - I believe it will help many others, as well as myself.

Wade Burleson said...


Good observations about a tendency toward Eastern writers.

All the more reason Blinkist is for me. I would never read most of the 3,000 books currently on their list. But I’ll lsiten or read a 12 minute version. I’m trying to be more of a generalist tan a specialist, working toward being a polymath.

Appreciate the insights from you.

Rex Ray said...

You were an outstanding soldier fighting against corrupt religious leaders in days gone by.

Do you realize our country is being destroyed by political leaders? There is more hatred between Democrats and Republicans than there was in the Civil War.

Do you ever watch the TV show “Hannity”? His latest show tells how Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden (Obama was President) threatened Ukraine that U.S. would withdraw a billion dollars if they didn’t fire a prosecutor that was investigating a ‘Money Investment Company’ that had hired his son.

Christiane said...

Good Weekend, everyone

REX RAY, I enjoyed your stories so much! Thank you. It's been a bad week and your stories helped much.

WADE, if you have Blinkist, I recommend the book 'On Tyranny' by Timothy Snyder. It is short to begin with, so the synopsis hopefully captures the main ideas. It is apropos to this week's political drama, so it's interesting in that sense, yes.

In the old days, all we had were Cliff's notes, and the professors were wise to us if we used them, too.:) Yep. They were on to us if we used shortcuts, just like the nuns, LOL

I CAN see how something like 'Blinkist' might be co-opted for the wrong reasons if someone wants to present a novel in ways favorable to an agenda, but most of the great novels are SO well-known that this might back-fire on the perpetrators.

Best use of Blinkist: like reading a preview or a critique, where you might decide to go to read the entire book . . . for example, there is much in great literature that is worded magically, that 'echoes' in us and strike a chord, and if that experience is missed, we have lost something of value. . . . still, 'time' consumes us these days, true;
sadly, as the poet says, 'the world is too much with us, late and soon'

I recommend an early morning time-out with a cup of coffee and reading from the Psalms (the real Psalms), read by candlelight before the sun comes up . . . can't explain it, but this habit can be both restorative and strength-giving for the day ahead :)

Christiane said...

If anyone is familiar with Emily Hunter McGowin, she has written a very interesting article, this:

Rex Ray said...


Glad you enjoyed the ‘Hez Ray’ stories. I read your link (very long), and at the end it asked if anyone would like to make a comment. (Required your name, email, etc.)

I asked a question but I doubt I will hear an answer, so I’ll ask you.

“If it takes a ‘miracle’ for Catholic Priests to turn wine into the blood of Jesus, who gets the ‘glory’ of His blood turning back to wine when tested in a laboratory?

Now I know that’s a low blow, but how do Catholics explain the meaning of God tearing the curtain in the Temple that revealed no longer man had to go to Priest to reach Him but man could go directly by Jesus: “Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Mathew 27:50-51 and Mark 15:37-38 NLT)

“…And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands. And with these words he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:45-46 NLT)

The link above gave an answer to my question by a Catholic. It said it was a custom of Jews to rip their clothing when they learned of a love one dying.

If that’s the answer, why didn’t all the Jews watching rip their clothes?

Christiane said...

Hello out there, REX RAY

no problem ever helping you with any question, if I am able to do it

but you asking about something that is one of the 'mysteries' spoken of in the sacred Scriptures,
and about something 'sacramental' which I know is not a part of your faith tradition, although I think you 'benefit' greatly from what is sacred in ways known only to God, as He gives blessing upon blessing to those who love Him

you ask about 'Eucharist', the 'thanksgiving', what one 'explanation' is coming from the Catholic Church, called formally 'transubstantiation', where the Church has attempted to 'explain' that which is beyond human understanding

my own thought is that I accept what the Church is teaching but I also accept something else the Church knows to be true:
that the Holy Spirit goes where He wills and is here on this Earth 'with' us to be a comfort and to point us to Christ, and in that belief, I do think that when a Baptist receives the Lord's Supper, he is also blessed not just with a 'memory' only, but with all that the Holy Spirit can convey to him of the goodness of Christ's Presence, and that is a mighty blessing from God

if you want to know the words of the priest during mass concerning the Eucharist (the breaking of the bread), they are echoing the Holy Gospels, and before those Gospels were written, the words were spoken during the 'service of the breaking of the bread' which followed the 'service of the Word' when the early Christians gathered on Sundays:

"Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my Body,
which will be given up for you.

Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the chalice of my Blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in memory of Me."

the affirmation response of the congregation will include one of these prayers, also rooted in sacred Scripture: (1 Cor 11:26, Jn 4:42)

"We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again."

"When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup,
we proclaim your Death, O Lord,
until you come again."

"Save us, Savior of the world,
for by your Cross and Resurrection
you have set us free."

Christiane said...

for REX RAY: continuing

REX RAY, as to the mystery we call 'transubstantiation' in 'doctrine', the wording doesn't do justice to how it is that the Holy Spirit brings Our Lord's Presence in the Eucharist; but we do know that on the road to Emmaus, the disciples did not recognize Christ, until 'the breaking of the bread'.

The Lutherans also have an understanding of the Presence, but word it differently.

In an emergency, I can and would be able to receive the Eucharist from an Eastern Orthodox priest.

I think Christ meets us in a thousand ways, and the ancient Christian celebration of the Lord's Supper, however it is worded, if the person is open to the Presence of Christ in his life, is one way this happens. I affirm my Church's way. I am hopeful and deeply thankful for your Church's way of remembering by celebrating the Lord's Supper. There is no way, we cannot have hope for all who are in the care of the Shepherd. Our human words and understanding pales before the mystery of His love for our wounded humanity.

Can I 'explain' this mystery? No, not exactly. But I can testify that when my father was dying, and we all received communion together that last day, I have been comforted and sustained by this event. 'The breaking of the bread' . . . Our Lord is with us at the breaking of the bread, whether we know it or not, and I am at peace with that truth.

Talk to Wade about the Lord's Supper. He once helped a lady that had been refused by another pastor who was conducting the Lord's Supper. Wade can help you understand from your own tradition its meaning and importance. You had better believe that when Wade, in faith, as a minister of the Church, calls for the power of the Holy Spirit to descend, Wade is heard, and God responds in ways unforeseen, but promised.
The 'priesthood' of ALL believers?
Take a look at the second chapter of First Peter. There are more references of course. But that is a good beginning. Remember this: in the presence of the great mysteries of the Pascal Event, a good response for any Christian is to be thankful.

Have a great Lord's Day. And take CARE of yourself. And 'hey' to Judy who looks after you, thank God.

Rex Ray said...


I’m glad someone (you) responds. On the post before, I’d made seven comments without a response.

Your saying: “Have a great Lord's Day. And take CARE of yourself. And 'hey' to Judy who looks after you, thank God” made my day. I showed it to Judy.

At our church business meeting last night, I got raked over the coals because I complained we hadn’t had a deacon’s meeting in a long time. Preacher said I should have read the Deacon’s meeting announcement in the church bulletin the week before.

Since my nickname is the “forgeter”, I had no reply. Judy wasn’t there to say we were at a wedding in Arkansas last week.

That wasn’t half as bad as when I suggested we sing at least one ‘old song’ in our morning service.

Celeste said...

I might look into it if I have the time; as a previous avid reader who is worn about by technology at the end of the day (and thus, doesn't read) it sounds interesting. However, one of my big complaints with this day and age is that everything is in snippets. The edited snip of a video looks horrible, but when one sees the whole video, with the events leading up to the edit, one discovers that everything was taken out of context. How does a blink of book protect against hat sort of thing??? Guess I need to check it out.

Several years ago, I read an interesting book, "Into the Shallows. What the internet is doing to our brains" by Nicholas Carr. This book discussed how technology changes the way we learn. In the day of hyperlinks and immediate access, we are no longer learning as deeply because we always have the option of looking up the information again. We also are easily distracted: that little blue underlined phrase will draw us away from what we are thinking about. The books was fascinating....wonder what it would be like in a blink.

Wade Burleson said...


I mentioned "Into the Shallows" yesterday in the message. Agreed!


This is indeed a really difficult, polarizing time. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

yes, Trump is calling for a civil war

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I was thinking about whether or not to respond. Since you asked, I will weigh in.

From my digging around in church history and conversations with Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and my fellow Protestants, I don't believe there is slam dunk case that can be made one way or another about what happens to the elements in communion. Instead of asking whether a scientist could test to see if the wine becomes blood, a better question might be to ask whether a doctor could have examined Jesus and discovered if he was divine solely based on a physical examination. I'm guessing not.

It appears there are basically four options:
1) the elements physically change so that they are no longer bread and wine,
2) the elements take on a divine nature while retaining their physical natures (like the two natures of Jesus),
3) the elements remain bread and wine but also somehow manifest the presence of Jesus,
4) the elements remain solely bread and wine and have no spiritual presence of any kind.

I am not RC, but the fist option seems to be close to what they believe. The 2nd option seems to be what EO believe based on my research and a conversation I had with an EO priest. Martin Luther taught the 3rd option. And it looks like Zwingli came up with the 4th option during the reformation.

All the early Christian writings I have found stress the importance of believing the elements are the true flesh and blood of Jesus (options 1 and 2). If Zwingli was right, then Christians were wrong for the first 1500 years of Christianity. This is possible, but it seems unlikely. Also, most Protestants would be wrong because Martin Luther argued vigorously against Zwingli's view.

I cannot find any church history where Christians did not recognize that the bread and wine continue to look, feel, and taste like bread and wine. If there is a change, it must be some kind of spiritual change that must be taken by faith. I suppose this is why this sacrament is called a mystery.

Victorious said...

Hello all,

I am now 76 yrs. old and until the transformation of the born-again experience at the age of @35 yrs. old, I was a Roman Catholic.

I ask for your forgiveness in advance for the following statement. The idea of literally eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus in the form of bread and wine is appalling to me. As a youngster, we went through a number of changes regarding the faith as permitted by Rome; i.e. fasting 24 hrs. before receiving communion, abstaining from meat on Friday, the necessity of wearing a hat or veil in church, the necessity of confession before receiving communion, and the strangest of all was permission to allow the "host" to touch our teeth.

To me, the practice of partaking in communion is clearly symbolic and although I haven't studies it to a great degree, is referencing the Passover. The fact that Jesus refers to Himself as Living Water (John 4) and the Bread of Life symbolic of the manna God sent to the Hebrews in the wilderness (John 6) should confirm the symbolic nature of the bread and wine. The "mystery" is understanding the metaphors scripture uses such as God being a Rock, a lion, a midwife, etc. Symbols, metaphors, and similes are meant to lead us to a greater understanding of Jesus, not the symbols themselves.

I ask your forgiveness if I have offended anyone's beliefs; it was not intended to do any more than explain how I see the correct method of interpreting scripture.

Christiane said...

concerning the great paschal mysteries, this:

"“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” (Thomas Aquinas)

and this 'old hymn', which I hope is still sung somewhere:
"Jesus loves me, this I know"

Victorious said...

Oh and I forgot the necessity to study Latin at the Catholic High School I attended. Following 3 years of studying Latin, Rome decided the mass could now be said in English so the congregation could finally understand what was being said. We did learn very early what "Mea Culpa" meant, however.

Rex Ray said...


You mentioned the song, “Jesus loves me”. I’d be glad if that song was sung every Sunday. Once on a mission trip to Mexico, we had ‘Vacation Bible School’ for a lot of children. I was horrified our song leader was TRYING to teach the children, “Come Holy Spirit”. They didn’t have a clue what the song was about.


“As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.” (Mark 14:22-24 NLT)

“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given to you. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” (Luke 22:19-20 NLT)

“…On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it. For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NLT)

I believe Jesus made the bread and wine SYMBOLS of his flesh and blood. Why do men think they can improve on what Jesus did?

Ken F said...

"I believe Jesus made the bread and wine SYMBOLS of his flesh and blood."

Hi Rex,
"I believe" is the key statement. The real question, I suppose, is whether or not it matters what we believe about the elements. If it does not matter, then we should not get bothered about it one way or another. I don't know for sure whether it matters, but is suspect it does.

Until a few years ago, I had always believed the 4th option I listed above. But when I started reading
Christian history and hearing other Christians explain their beliefs it changed my mind. Did you notice that in the passages you cited Jesus said "this IS my flesh/blood"? He did not say it symbolizes or is like his flesh and blood. Everyone who believes in a form of transubstantion will cite theses verses as proof of their position because the literal meaning is very clear.

There is also the matter of this statement in John 6:53 - "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you." He does not give any indication that this is meant symbolically. For the last thousand years, because of the words of Jesus and the way the earliest Christians understood those words, the vast majority of Christians have believed that the elements become something more than just bread and wine."

Ken F said...

"For the last thousand years"
That was supposed to be "two thousand"

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

I agree I should not have said, “I believe” because I should have said, ‘Baptists believe’.

“Baptists practice believer's baptism and the Lord's Supper (communion) as the two acts of faith-obedience to the example and commands given by Christ for Christians (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Most Baptists call them "ordinances" (meaning "obedience to a command that Christ has given us") instead of "sacraments" (activities God uses to impart salvation or a means of grace to the participant). Therefore, historic Baptist theology considers that no saving grace is conveyed by either ordinance and that original sin is not washed away in baptism. Baptists have traditionally believed that they are symbols. ”

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous, you said, “ Trump is calling for a civil war.” Mon Sep 30, 09:15:00 AM 2019

It’s obvious, Trump hasn’t got the ‘swamp’ drained, because you’re still in it. The ‘swamp’ is trying to impeach him, which would do away with the rights of those who elected him.

If their lies can do away with truth, America will no longer be the land of the free and home of the brave.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I was a member of a SBC church in the deep South for about 10 years, so I am reasonably familiar with what some baptists believe. But this is less about what any particular group believes and more about whether or not what we believe about communion is important. If it is important, then what we should believe about it is important. If it's not important, then there is no point in arguing with anyone about it. I am assuming you think it is important, or else you would not poke at it so much.

So what should we believe about it? My recommendation for Protestants who hold to Zwingli's view is to avoid church history because church history is not on the side of Zwingli. The fact is, the vast majority of Christians throughout history have believed that the elements become the true flesh and blood of Jesus. If they were wrong, and if it matters, then they are all screwed. Likewise, if the small minority of Christians who believe nothing happens to the elements are wrong, and if it matters, then they are all screwed.

But perhaps what we believe about the elements does not matter. If this is true, then there is no reason to argue about. But if does matter, then what?

I have heard detailed and compelling arguments from all sides, which makes me reluctant to accept Zwingli's view as the only biblical view. Right now I am thinking that the Eastern Orthodox view or Luther's view are more correct. What I have not yet figured out is whether or not it matters. In any case, I think all Christians can agree that Jesus told us to regularly celebrate it.

Anonymous said...

he did it he admits it he is being impeached

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

I’ve been a Baptist 77 years. (Son of a Baptist preacher) Been to lot of places in the world. My three children were born in Oklahoma, Alaska, and Texas. I never heard of bread being flesh or grape juice being blood until I learned what Catholics believed.

It almost reminds me of Titus 3:9, “Do not get involved in foolish discussions…”

Anonymous said...

new conspiracy underway on Hannity

Russia wants no blame for meddling in US election
so push is for Ukraine to take the fall for Russia

once Russia is 'cleared', Putin win$

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
Your experience sounds consistent with most Protestants. It was also my experience until I started reading early Christian history a number of years ago. I don't know for sure why Protestants are not encouraged more to dive into history, but I suspect it is because the early church looks way too Catholic.

Until about 1000 years ago, there was really only one Christian Church, and all Christians everywhere for the first 1500 years believed that the bread and wine (not unfermented grape juice) become the real flesh and blood of Jesus. You still see this in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Coptic church, and some branches of Protestantism. In this sense Baptists are the outliers.

Zwingli's arguments for the elements being purely symbolic are convincing. But so are the arguments against Zwingli. If Zwingli was correct, what is the explanation for all Christians everywhere being wrong for the first 1500 years of Christianity?

This gets back to whether or not being right about this topic is important. It not, then there is no point in either side arguing about it. But if it is important, then it seems like we have a responsibility to find the right answer. And that answer should be based on more than just, "this is what I have always believed" or "this is what I want to believe."

Victorious said...

Hi Ken F,

If we look at scripture to discover the author's intended meaning as well as those to whom the message was delivered, we come closer to the correct meaning. When we isolate a verse or lift a passage out of it's context, we run the risk of misunderstanding the intended message.

A number of scriptures reference bread/food/drink/water/wine, etc. But Jesus clearly (imo) was contrasting the necessity of food and drink for our physical bodies to the food and drink we need for healthy spiritual survival.

When the disciples were encouraging Jesus to eat, His reply was meant to stimulate their curiosity:

John 4:31  Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." 
John 4:32  But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." 

It worked!

John 4:33  So the disciples were saying to one another, "No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?" 

Now Jesus conveys the spiritual aspect of food.

John 4:34  Jesus *said to them, " My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 

We see Jesus' intended meaning when speaking of food and drink/water for our physical being, and introducing the same as necessary for our spiritual being.

Christiane said...

the human person is an integral being: body, soul, and spirit are united in the image of God

when people are depressed, they get ill physically sometimes; when people exercise, the endorphins from the exercises can raise their spirits out of mild depression sometimes, and the kind of 'refreshment' offered by Our Lord is His Peace, like the Shepherd who leads His sheep beside the stilled water, He restores our souls

I think the 'integrity' of the human person IS derived from the 'image of God' which has been stamped on each individual, hence, salvation itself will include a physical resurrection of the body, as was believed in ancient times:

"25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job, chapter 19)

so it is at least possible to understand 'why' that for fifteen centuries, knowing the old beliefs, all Christians took 'keeping the feast' literally as well as spiritually, believing Him to be present with them in 'the breaking of the bread'?

"Then the two told what had happened on the road,
and how they had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread." (St.Luke 24:35)

I see His Presence being with all those who love Him and 'remember Him', even if they are not aware of Him in 'the breaking of the bread',
because even those of us who do believe He is present, we live with this mystery that is beyond our human ability to comprehend fully.

I believe that in any denomination, the proper response to 'the Lord's Supper' is to be 'thankful'.

Ken F said...

Hi Victorious,
I am very familiar with the arguments for the elements being purely symbolic and was quite happy believing that for around 30 years. I would still prefer to believe that, but it could be the wrong way of believing based on Christian history. For example, Irenaus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the Apostle, so he was not far removed from live apostolic teaching. Irenaeus was an intellectual heavy weight who was instrumental in defeating Gnosticism in the 2nd century, yet he believed and wrote about the elements becoming the real flesh and blood of Jesus. Athanasius almost single handedly defeated Arianism (we probably would not be Trinitarian today without him) and he also believed the same. Augustine believed the same. John Chrysostom, who was one of the greatest preachers ever (and wrote an Easter sermon that has been read by the church in the East every year for the last 1600 years) believed that same. These are just a few of very many intellectual, philosophical, and theological heavyweights from the early church who were not naive about the bible or apostolic teaching. If what they believed is wrong, what is the explanation for them getting it wrong for all those years?

I was actually happier before I discovered this. It would have been much easier to just keep believing that it's just juice and crackers and nothing more. While I am now believing that there is more to the elements than just what they are naturally made of, I am very bothered by all the rules and customs for the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Coptic churches. But I found that they have very good biblical reasons for these customs. If it's a battle of which side is more biblical, the battle is not lopsided one way or the other.

I know what I prefer to believe, but now I also know it is a belief that would have marked me as in unbeliever throughout the world for the first 1500 years of Christianity. For this reason alone I hope that having precisely the right belief about it does not matter.

I agree with Christiane's comment above because it is a balanced view that makes sense.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

I can grantee there was one Lord’s Supper where crackers didn’t turn to flesh. After I told the deacons what happened, they covered everything with a cloth.

It happened like this. As the deacons lined up to help, they sang a song I liked a lot. I was singing as loud as I could. I didn’t think I had much of a cold, but this huge ‘mucous flehm’ shot through the air five feet and landed in a tray of crackers.

I turned into a Zombie. I thought people would scream but no one noticed. I was handed the ‘germy’ tray. With hindsight, I should have dropped it, but Zombies can’t think. In a trancelike state, I did my assignment.

Come to think of it, maybe those soggy crackers tasted more like flesh than crackers.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I suppose on that morning communion was more like biscuits and gravy...

RB Kuter said...

So, how much of what we hold to be true comes from someone else's position on Scripture as opposed to what Scripture itself portrays. I understand that much of Scripture is vulnerable to being interpreted in a myriad of ways. That's why we have so many denominations.

But it seems that a lot of people hold to their own conclusions as to the interpretation of Scripture based primarily upon what the "church fathers", or "Luther", or "Calvin", or SBC party powers, say. It's a cultic practice in my estimation, to swallow the conclusion of someone else rather than objectively seeking to have your own, fresh, unbiased, objective approach to conclude the intent of a Scripture passage.

I have to say that it is not that persuasive to me to have someone say, "Yeah, but Luther had the same position as me!" or "Spurgeon preached that this is the way it is!", or "If St.Chrysostom said that the Blessed Mary never had sex and died as a virgin you can take that to the bank as being the real truth!"

At the same time, I realize that we are all influenced by people of influence. People raised in Catholic families are likely to be Catholic. People, like me, who are raised in Southern Baptist families are likely to end up being Baptists. Have I come to my conclusions on doctrines based upon what I was taught to believe by my childhood upbringing? Nah, not me, I'm sure. But others might. Just joking. I honestly have ventured into other denominations to see if perhaps I might find an alternative that I could believe had a more truth-based position on doctrine than Baptists, but I didn't, to my estimation. Still, my upbringing surely has imprinted much of what I believe.

But then, I wonder how in the world Rex Ray came up with the same positions on doctrine as me given HIS upbringing? I guess there are some of us who can claim to genuine puzzlers.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

I hoped the biscuits and gravy didn’t make anyone sick.

RB Ruter,

Well said. The Lord’s Supper is a very solemn occasion where we remember Jesus. It’s usually at the end of a morning service.

Once, after we served the crackers, the lid that held the juice wouldn’t come off. There was nothing solemn that Sunday as I heard more than one lady giggling as we strained for five minutes before it came off.

Ken F said...

"It's a cultic practice in my estimation, to swallow the conclusion of someone else rather than objectively seeking to have your own, fresh, unbiased, objective approach to conclude the intent of a Scripture passage."

Hi RB,
Your entire comment is spot on and is consistent with what I have found as I've been trying to untie this Gordian knot. I have tried to get an inside view from different Christian traditions to see what they have to offer, and have found very compelling arguments for different sides of controversial topics. I was hoping to find some good simple answers, but it has not yet turned out that way for me.

One of the things I learned is that the ancient church had two main centers: Alexandria and Antioch. Alexandria tended to focus more on the spiritual and intellectual while Antioch tended to focus more on the material and the heart (this is my assessment - others might disagree). As the Western and Eastern churches began to drift apart over language (Greek in the East and Latin in the West), the Western church tended to follow Alexandrian ways and the Eastern church tended to follow Antiochian ways. This became something like a head and heart split between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy that weakened both.

When the Protestants split from the Western church, few of them had any contact with Eastern Chrisitianity, so they retained many of the same assumptions, biases, and theories as the Roman Catholics. We still do this without knowing it.

When I started investigating Eastern Orthodoxy I was surprised by how differently they view many things. For example, in the West, our salvation is viewed more from a courtroom perspective, where we need to be saved from our guilt and punishment. But in the East, it is viewed more from a hospital perspective, where we need to be healed from a fatal sickness. Which perspective is right? Probably both, in some kind of way that we won't really grasp on this side of eternity.

Even though Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy look very similar in their dress and customs, their viewpoints are so different that in many ways Protestants and Roman Catholics are more similar to each other than either is to Eastern Orhodoxy.

Your comment that I quoted about taking an objective ans unbiased approach would be ideal, but is not possible. We are all so tightly wound around our biases that we cannot even see them unless we get hit in the face with them. This is what investigating Eastern Orthodoxy did for me: it hit me in the face with some of my biases. I think I am glad I did this, but it has left me unsettled for the time being, not sure where to land at the moment.

In any case, I would encourage anyone to search on various Christian topics by adding "eastern orthodox" to the search. Topics such as atonement, imputed righteousness, penal substitution, salvation, heaven and hell, etc. It will take you for a wild ride. I have found the Orthodox to be very effective in using the Bible to prove their points. In many ways I have found then to be more effective than the best Protestants. That surprised me.

RB Kuter said...

"Your comment that I quoted about taking an objective ans unbiased approach would be ideal, but is not possible."

Ken, I fear you are correct in this assessment. If it was possible to erase all of the teachings and positions on doctrine that we have acquired, jump into a time machine, and arrive at the feet of Jesus in Palestine 2,000 years in the past to witness it all first hand, perhaps we would have a good chance of getting it right.

But as I say this, I consider all of the bickering and controversy that existed in the first-century church from those who HAD sat at His feet and followed Him around and heard His teachings both pre-resurrection and post-resurrection.

Circumcision or not? Follow the Law and its detailed rules while believing in Jesus or not? Stay in Judea until all were led into the church or not? Saved by grace alone or by grace and plus, plus? Join in the revolution to oust the Romans or not? Allow anyone to join in on the Communion rites or just the elite? Only Apostles serve as spiritual leaders or deacons too?" The in-fighting, even among those who were first-hand witnesses and companions of Christ was vicious and often went unresolved.

It appears to me that none of us will have it right until Christ returns. Until then, I do believe we must continue to strive to cast off as much of the tripe that comes with religious institution's teachings and traditions that obviously originate from the preferences of those power players in control.

You proposed; "search on various Christian topics by adding "eastern orthodox" to the search. Topics such as atonement, imputed righteousness, penal substitution, salvation, heaven, and hell, etc."

Perhaps this is good advice and admittedly I have not seriously pursued the study of the views of the orthodox church or Catholic. The hesitancy is due primarily to the extraneous rituals, ceremonies, arrogant hierarchy, pomp and circumstance, and so much attention to man-made details and privilege which is not relevant to Scripture and appears to serve the pride of man exclusively that undermine the credibility of those groups in my estimation.

This coupled with some dominant positions propagated by the Orthodox and Catholics obviously being heretical (in my estimation) result in my being repelled from consideration to glean morsels of possible truths and Scriptural accuracy from them.

For me, it would kind of like digging through a cesspool of dirty muck in search of a diamond that might be sitting on the bottom of the barrel; or not.

Christiane said...

Hello Ken F,

you wrote, this:

"Even though Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy look very similar in their dress and customs, their viewpoints are so different that in many ways Protestants and Roman Catholics are more similar to each other than either is to Eastern Orthodoxy."

I think you are right in this way: Western Christianity is more 'cerebral' (reasoned), but Eastern Christianity has a special gift of being at peace with mystery. I sometimes think that the two 'viewpoints' together would be more beneficial to all Christian people all over the world.

My godmother's people were from the Ukraine when it was in the USSR. She was from a Byzantine Catholic rite, rather than Orthodox, but Eleanor also had that sense of 'the holy' and a great reverence for 'the sacred'. She passed away some years ago and is much missed.

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

We really don’t need a time machine to the learn how Catholics and Baptist started. The Bible pretty much explains your saying, “Saved by grace alone or by grace and plus, plus? The in-fighting, even among those who were first-hand witness and companions of Christ was vicious and often went unresolved.”

The first Church Council’s goal in Acts 15 was to establish how Gentiles were saved, but in reality it produced two ways to be saved: Peter’s “JESUS PLUS NOTHING”, and James’s “JESUS PLUS SOMETHING”.

“…Peter stood and addressed them…why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentiles with a yoke…We believe that we are saved the same way, by the underserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:7-11 NLT)

“…James stood and said, Brothers listen to me…so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult of the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.” (Acts 15:13-20 NLT)

James tells his requirements are based on tradition: “For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” (Acts 15:21 NLT)

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater BURDEN on you that these few requirements. (Acts 15:28)

RB, did you catch Peter saying it would be challenging God to burden the Gentiles, and James saying it was good to the Holy Spirit to burden the Gentiles?

Ken F said...

"For me, it would kind of like digging through a cesspool of dirty muck in search of a diamond that might be sitting on the bottom of the barrel; or not."

Hi RB,
This is a great description. But if Jesus is the diamond, it might be worth the dig.

I was hoping church history would reveal the picture of the house church that is so often romanticized these days. But if such a house church existed, it did not make it into the historical records. Instead, one finds that from the very beginning that the church was liturgical, sacramental, and had established offices for deacons, priests, and bishops.

I was also looking for the golden age of the church when the Church got it right. But instead, I found that the church has always been messy, continuously contending with both internal and external struggles, which resulted in new and varied traditions and creeds being added to older traditions and creeds. In an introduction to a very good book on church history, the author pointed out that each age of the church responded to the pressures and challenges of the times, and like it or not, we today are doing the same. 1000 years from now, Christians might look back on Baptists with the same kind of derison that Baptists have for Roman Catholicism, for example.

When I discovered Eastern Orthodoxy I was hoping it could be a place for me to land. It has a lot to offer, such as a beautiful liturgy with more bible than you will find in any "Bible church," a participatory style of worship, an emphasis on God being the lover of mankind, and a beautiful and compelling theology. As strong as I remain drawn to all this, the actual practice repells me. Most notably are all the rules on receiving communion, the emphasis on fasting, and the complexity of it all.

I am beginning to believe that getting it right is not as important than I had once thought, that God is truly the lover of mankind, and that his mercy and grace is more expansive than any of us can grasp. I am also holding less tightly to much of the dogma I was taught because of other viable ways of interpreting various texts.

My first internet search for an Orthodox viewpoint was after I got a pretty strong reaction from a Sunday schools teacher after I asked why it matters whether our righteousness is imputed or imparted. I naively stepped on a landmine that is one of the most divisive issues between Protestants ans Roman Catholics. It turns out that the Orthodox have a completely different way of looking at it that actually makes sense. Here is the article I found: That prompted to me to search on other topics, whiched me to where I am now.

Coloring outside the lines like this makes me unacceptable for just about every Christian tradition - by now it seems like my collective thoughts and questions don't fit anywhere. I feel like I am more Christian than ever, but also more out of place than ever. My only hope now is that there really is a diamond in the midst of all the muck I jumped into. There is no way to undo the muckiness, so I'll keep digging for the diamond.

Ken F said...

"Western Christianity is more 'cerebral' (reasoned), but Eastern Christianity has a special gift of being at peace with mystery. I sometimes think that the two 'viewpoints' together would be more beneficial to all Christian people all over the world."

I agree with this. I can see the Eastern viewpoint in you. It gives you quite a lot of balance and grace. It is so much easier to tear down the other side than to see Christ in them and in their expression of Christianity.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

It may be that Kuter is busy with other things this morning. So, I’ll ask you what I asked him in my last comment. That is, in Acts 15, Peter said Gentiles were saved the same way as Jews: “We believe that we are saved the same way, by the underserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:7-11 NLT) but James changed that with his “judgement”.

I believe if the ‘First Church Council’ had closed after Peter spoke that Christians today would all be Baptist based upon Jesus plus nothing, but James’ “Judgement” opened the door to ‘Jesus plus something’.

Ken, have you noticed through life when people have a weak argument, they like to back it up with “God told me” or words to that effect.

We see James did that in (Acts 15:28 Holeman) “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision and ours to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things.”

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I'll start by saying that I will probably never be able to think of biscuits and gravy without thinking of your hilarious experience. That could be a problem for me since I live in the deep South (but I am not from the deep South).

I thought your question was really good, but I don't know if I have enough insight to answer it well. One of our problems with interpreting ancients text is how the authors left out "what everyone on knows." But we often don't know what everyone knew back then, so it leaves us having to guess. If you ask Catholics or Orthodox about that first council you will get some unexpected replies. Here is an Orthodox view that makes a good case for harmonizing Peter and James:

The Orthodox will cite the passage in Matt 16 about Jesus building his church in a way that hell will not prevail against it, and the John 14 passage where Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to teach us all things, to prove that Orthodoxy is the correct expression of Christianity. In a lot of ways they have a good point. But I have wondered, like you, whether the Judaizers won. It really does seem like those who held to Jewish customs were the ones who made all the rules for everyone else. If there was another, less Jewish, version of Christianity, it apparently did not make it into the history books. Either Jesus did not actually make these promises, or we are misunderstanding the promises, or what he meant by the church is not what most Christians (from East or West) throughout history have believed about it.

I attended services pretty regularly at a local Orthodox church about a year ago, made a handful of appointments with the priest to ask questions, and asked him questions via email every now and then. I also had a lot of discussions with people in the congregation, about half of whom were converts from various Protestant denominations. In just about every discussion I had related to fasting, the answer was always along the lines of "what don't you understand about how easy it is to fast." When I asked the priest if Paul was wrong in his advice in 1 Cor 11 to not show up for communion hungry, he quit answering my questions. So that was the end of that pursuit. I was wondering if there was a way to ease into it, but apparently not.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

Thanks for the quick response. It seems for our church to get together other than Sunday, there has to be food to eat. One guy always caries a large Dr. Pepper that he takes a swallow now and then. Last Wednesday night, I was asked if I wanted something to eat, and I said, “Didn’t Paul say we should eat in our homes?” (Didn’t get a reply.)

I read the link you referenced. It’s pretty obvious the writer is Catholic by his referring to James and Paul as “St. James” and “St. Paul”. He states: “We are told that the Council of Jerusalem decided that the Law doesn’t apply any more for Christians.”

NO! Peter said the Law didn’t apply any more to have salvation. Jesus said, “…I did not come to abolish the law of Moses…I came to accomplish their purpose.” (Matthew 5:17 NLT)

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
The author of that article is Eastern Orthodox, not Roman Catholic. Anglican and Lutherans also recognize most Roman Catholic and Orthodox saints, so one cannot assume a person is Roman Catholic just because they use the Saint title.

As for the veracity of what he wrote, Wade's most current post applies. People from 10 different denominations can look at the same passage and come up with 15 different clear but conflicting interpretations. And almost no amount of discussion will convince any of them that they could be wrong. Religious and political discussions can be very similar in that different sides will use exactly the same information to prove opposite conclusions. And to each side it is abundantly clear that there can be no other way of seeing it but theirs.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F.

Yes, you’re absolutely right. I believe Wade’s post on August 13, 2006 also covers this problem very well.

He drove by their church color video display screen and the beautiful rainbow colors were only yellow and green. He was irritated with a staff member who should have fixed the problem. He was dialing the man’s number when he realized he had his ‘golf glasses’ on. They made the golf course crisp and clear by seeing only yellow and green.

Wade concluded to be patient with people that disagree because we don’t know what their filter is.

Filters are based on past experiences and knowledge they think they know.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray and Ken,

Sorry, you're right, I was out. We had a GREAT outreach, face-painting booth, set up at the local fair and got to connect with many folks. It is amazing today how many visitors to our booth we found to be professing Jesus believers who are not connected with ANY church! So sad. But most visitors we talked to seem to miss the fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ and want to re-connect if they can just find a church that seems warm and receptive to their coming, AND which is not burdened down with the non-Scriptural rhetoric we have been discussing.

I'm enjoying this conversation we're having in this stream of responses.

Rex Ray, you asked, "RB, did you catch Peter saying it would be challenging God to burden the Gentiles, and James saying it was good to the Holy Spirit to burden the Gentiles?"

Yes, I did. Isn't that amazing?!

Imagine these to men who were as close to Jesus as anybody and still scratching their heads about such basic, critical positions and not being able to arrive at a common point!

As you, Ken and I have been discussing, this is the very type of weakness in our ability to discern God's direction that has been hamstringing the church since Jesus returned to heaven! Even with the presence of His Holy Spirit indwelling in our hearts, we just can't get it together. Our carnal nature keeps raising its ugly head and causing us to insist upon inserting our personal, fallible, concepts into whatever perfect plan God intends for the church to have.

Ken also said, "I am beginning to believe that getting it right is not as important than I had once thought, that God is truly the lover of mankind, and that his mercy and grace is more expansive than any of us can grasp. I am also holding less tightly to much of the dogma I was taught because of other viable ways of interpreting various texts."

and, another worthy thought: "But if Jesus is the diamond, it might be worth the dig." (referring to my comparing man's added rituals, requirements, etc., as a cesspool of muck with there being a possible diamond at the bottom of the pool"

Ken is right about Jesus being worth the continued struggle to get it as "right" as we can in terms of behaving and living out our salvation the way our Father intends.

For me, I am striving to strip away as much of the "added on" ornaments and get down to the basic necessities like "what DOES a person have to do to be saved and enter into the blessed acceptance of a 100% holy and righteous God and His eternal Kingdom?" What do you guys think is required?

For me, I go to the only person of which I am aware who was told directly by Jesus Himself, YOU are going with me TODAY to paradise". What did that guy do to qualify? 1. He acknowledged that Jesus was God. 2. He acknowledged that he was a sinner condemned to damnation. 3. He acknowledged that Jesus was the only way and hope provided by God 4. he totally put his trust in Jesus to redeem him. 5. He boldly professed his identification as one who would follow Jesus through the veil of death believing that Jesus was his Savior and LORD.

For this, Jesus said, in effect, "YOU are okay. You are going with Me this very day."

Now, given the way that Jesus reflected upon all of the rules and laws and traditions and ceremonies being conducted in the institutionalized Jewish religion, especially in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7, consider ALL of the nonsense we add to what God requires to please Him. Why was it so difficult for James, Peter and the rest of those first-generation followers? Look at what a mess they made of things in defiance of what Jesus had tried to convey even though they were the earliest church fathers!

So, I will try to go back to the most basic concepts that I view in Scripture and pare away all of the unnecessary barnacles that cling to the pure Gospel as delivered by our Lord and impedes our progress. Dialoguing with you guys is a help.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

"what DOES a person have to do to be saved and enter into the blessed acceptance of a 100% holy and righteous God and His eternal Kingdom?" What do you guys think is required?"

"So Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to leave too? Simon Peter replied,


(from the Holy Gospel of St. John, chapter 6)

Christiane said...

Rex Ray said...


Your link gave many many songs of my favorites. Someone said, You can preach whatever, but if you let me write the songs that people sing, they will believe what I believe.

Two good songs that I didn’t see, were “If it wasn’t for that Lighthouse, where would this ship be?” and “He could have called ten thousand angles to destroy this world and set him free. But he died alone for you and me.”

Thank goodness, I didn’t see any of the ‘Praise Songs’ that my present church is led to sing. They’re made up of one or two lines repeated over and over. It’s like a flee telling how big an elephant is. The ‘elephant’ doesn’t need to know how big ‘he’ is, but wants to hear the story of his Son.

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

Most translations quote James saying, “It was good to the Holy Spirit to burden the Gentiles”. I think the Holman Translation states James’ belief the best. “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision and ours to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things.” (Acts 15:28)

Most of his life, James didn’t believe Jesus was God’s Son: “For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.” (John 7:5 NLT)

It wasn’t until after Calvary James believed his brother was God’s Son: “Then he was seen by James…” (1 Corinthians 15:7 NLT)

That means James missed the teaching of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known. James believed and lived by the Law of Moses.

So why was James selected to be the pastor of the Jerusalem Church? POLITICS! (The brother of Jesus should know everything.)

This is what James taught his church: “…Thou seest brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are ALL ZEALOUS OF THE LAW…" (Acts 21:20 KJ)

RB Kuter said...

Christiane, I may be slow in catching on to your intended point when you quoted Peter saying, "“LORD, TO WHOM WOULD WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE"

But it followed your quoting my question asking what you think a person has to do to be saved. Surely you weren't proposing that Peter was portraying that he had met God's requirements for being saved at that time.

Peter certainly didn't demonstrate what it takes to be eternally saved in this response to Jesus asking, "Are you guys leaving too." After this, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus and cursed His name, so he certainly was clueless at this time as to what God required for a person to be saved.

If anything, Peter was portraying the fallacy of so many who "think" they're eternally secure because they "said" they believe in Jesus, or they were baptized, or they have done some other act they were told would get them into heaven.

Peter's response to Jesus was his acting out the role of the character in the parable Jesus told about two people, one said he would obey, but didn't. The other said he wouldn't, but did. At this point, Peter was just a boisterous guy who liked to "talk the talk" but wasn't "walking the walk". He did that repetitively prior to the resurrected Christ appearing to him.

Maybe you intended some other point?

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray: James, like everyone else, didn't know who Jesus was until they met the resurrected Christ. It took that experience of seeing the One they had witnessed being slaughtered and hung up to bleed to death and suffocate on a splintery, rough, wood cross, after being totally humiliated, spit upon, beaten, whipped, and rendered lifeless, rising from the dead having been transformed into the supernatural man in which He had been transformed at His resurrection. THEN they believed.

I think it was very unlikely that James truly knew Jesus, even the resurrected Jesus, as well as those 11 who had lived with Him, followed Him, observed Him in action every day, sat around the fire with Him and heard His explanations of what had been, what was, and what was going to be. I believe that James no doubt had to "learn" much from those 11 about what was intended for the body of believers.

So, like you mentioned, why was James acknowledged of being the leader of the church in Jerusalem?

I agree with your conclusion, that it was "politics". He was like the celebrities the power-players in the SBC and IMB choose to fill vacant positions of the President of those entities. Apparently, James was chosen because he had the celebrity of being the blood-brother of Jesus. Why else would he? I certainly don't believe that Jesus Himself pointed him out for that top position. Obviously, for whatever reason, Jesus chose Peter to fill it.

So I'm just "guessing" that James was chosen for his celebrity. Maybe his Mom, Mary, insisted that he be put in that position. Being the "brother of the Lord", probably gave him a lot of credibility in the community of believers, kind of like having David Platt as IMB President, or Paul Chitwood, or having JD Greear or Ronnie Floyd as President of the SBC. People love celebrities who are TV personalities and on Fox News and write books.

Still, I accept the writings of James as being Scripture and as being the inspired Word of God. I believe it is consistent with God's plan, character and intent while, like all of the Bible, reflecting the humanity of the one who is penning the message originating from God's Holy Spirit.

But, as with the quote you mention in Acts 21:20, I think the Book of James reflects the conflicting struggle all followers have between "acts/works" and "faith/believing".

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, sorry, but I got so wound up that I had to stretch this into two comments! To continue:

The Acts 21:20 forum portrays to me a James, and other church leaders, who acknowledged the sincerity of those "Messianic"-Jews with a background tradition of observing the Law and its rituals imprinted on their hearts but were now trusting in Jesus for their salvation.

Even Jesus continued observing the Law and many of the rituals and customs and He was the Son of God. He said He did not come to "abolish" The Law, but fulfill it. I guess the struggle we have is how do we "fulfill" the Law now without observing those rituals, ceremonies, festivals, memorials, that it entailed? Maybe that was what James and the others were trying to deal with.

I don't think it would be expected that those Jews, Nicodemus, for example, who put their faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ as Lord, would suddenly have no sense or desire to continue to observe the Old Testament ways to a degree.

Think of Seventh-Day Adventists today. They struggle with the very same dilemma. Maybe you and I do too. We feel obligated to give AT LEAST 10% of our income to God in tithes, even though I know you give a lot more than that. You know you should not short change God.

You also know that the Sabbath is meant to be observed as a holy and sanctified (set apart) day dedicated in a special way to God. Even though we observe the Sabbath on a different day than the Old Testament Jews, and Seventh-Day Adventists, due to our desire to recognize the day of The Resurrection as being the holiest day, it still grieves us to see it trashed by society, and the church and today having no exclusivity, in the manner in which it was intended.

But those, and so many other, priorities in our lives, originate from The Law and we continue to hold them dear even though we know our eternal security is based upon Christ and faith in Him alone.

It certainly must have been messy in those days of the early church when such a transition was taking place from the old ways (old wineskins) into the new ways (the new wine) of living for the resurrected Jesus Christ as Lord instead of The Law. What is required and what is simply a choice for living in a manner that we believe our new Lord wants us to live? Guess that's what we're dealing with, huh?

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

I wrote this before I read your last few comments.

Well, old friend, we have a difference of opinion if Peter was saved when he said,
“Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” “Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-68 NLT)

Before this happened, do you believe Peter was saved as the following Scripture indicates?

“Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed THIS to you. You did not learn THIS from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter and upon THIS rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven...” (Matthew 16:15-19 NLT)

Jesus did not build his church on Peter. (He even called him Satan four verses later.)

Jesus built his church on THIS which was what God had revealed to Peter. The “keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” was the GOSPEL.

When Peter denied knowing Jesus, we call that ‘backsliding’.

“But Peter said, “Man, I don’t even know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.” (Luke 22:60-62 NLT)

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray: As usual, you and I are on the same page. Hopefully, you read my comment to Christiane following her quoting Peter as saying, "“LORD, TO WHOM WOULD WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE"

Not sure yet what Christiane's impression was from Peter saying this, but I certainly do not conclude that he was portraying what is necessary for a person to be saved in his saying that and do not believe Peter had yet done what is necessary to enter The Kingdom.

It's not important, but when I think of someone "backsliding", I think of someone like me. I was a born again follower of Jesus Christ but I went astray and followed Him from the distance, so far behind Him that there was little evidence that I WAS His follower. I never did have a point when I would have denied Him had someone asked if I knew Him, as a matter of fact, even when I was distant from Jesus I would profess my trust in Him to others. But, praise God, through God's patience with me and His love and His never giving up on me, He drew me ever closer to Him as He intended for me to be. I consider that as my having had a "backsliding" experience.

In Peter's case, he had not yet done what was necessary for him to receive the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit in a manner to cause him to be a "born again" citizen in the Kingdom, which didn't happen until after the resurrection. Even though he may have correctly professed the identity of Jesus, the Devil himself could have done that.

So, again, I'm pretty sure we're in agreement on this.

Christiane said...

Here's the thing: KEEP TO "THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS 'IN CHRIST'" and you can't go wrong

don't go looking for 'the way' that is different from Him Who IS 'the Way'.

Many people get caught up in various complicated doctrines, and they are searching earnestly for 'what they can do' and 'how to do it', but in sacred Scripture, there is a warning given, this:

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,
so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
(2 Corinthians 11:3)

RB KUTER, if you seek 'the Way', know this:

That no one who loves God is ever abandoned on the journey and to trust in Him now and forevermore.
That ‘No one who follows the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.’

The 'Way' is found 'in Christ'. He IS 'the Way'.
As His mother Mary said to workers in ancient times:

"listen to Him, do what He tells you"

Ken F said...

Hi Rex and RB,
Thanks for the stimulating discussion. I had not ever thought about the differences between what Peter and James were saying. The fact that both of their letters made it into the NT, and that both of them had prominent positions on the church (James in Jerusalem and Peter in Rome) could mean that the division between them might not be significant. As to James' credibility as a leader, what about Paul? Even though James did not recognize Jesus as messiah until late, he still knew him pretty well as a family member. By contrast, Paul never knew him at all until after the resurrection. So if James should have no authority, then it seems that Paul should likewise have no authority.

On the topic of what it means to be saved, the bible talks about our salvation in past, present, and future tense. Not all Christians have the view that salvation is a one time event. I often cite the Eastern Orthodox position, not to push for that view, but to show another view that is both very different and very old. Here is an example of that with respect to being saved:

Here is another viewpoint by a guy who started as a Calvinist and then converted to Eastern Orthodoxy: But I do have to say that Jersak is not stereotypical for Orthodoxy.

As to what constitutes the bare minimum set of beliefs for Christians, Irenaeus, in his book Against Heresies, listed a rule of faith that he said was the same for all churches he had visited thought Europe. Given that he died in 202 AD, it show that the there were some basic beliefs that Christians agreed upon very early. You can easily find it by searching on "Irenaeus rule of faith." In a nutshell, it has a lot of similarities with the later Nicene Creed, which used to be the creed that united all Christians.

One last comment. I once heard a guy give an answer for when he was saved like this: "I don't know the exact date, but it was around 2000 years ago."

Christiane said...

"I don't know the exact date, but it was around 2000 years ago."


RB Kuter said...

Thanks, Ken. I did check out;"" and went to their site on "How Are We Saved" and found it interesting with no surprises.

I think that the general gist of their proposition was in their statement;
"The teaching of the New Testament is that God’s grace, our free will, and our faith and good works, are intimately connected. The Holy Spirit energizes in us both faith and good works as we thirst for and seek God’s grace. Neither faith nor good works can be presented as merit before God, but only as return gifts in humility, love, and thanksgiving."

My impression is that they are saying there will be evidence of the change in someone's heart when there is an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, even though they did not word it exactly like that. They did propose that perhaps being "saved" may not be a one time, identifiable, event as many hold, like me. This is all very subjective and our salvation is not based upon our conclusion on this matter.

My view, and what I propose to any I teach, is that when a person makes a commitment to follow Jesus Christ as Lord of their life and trust in Him as their Redeemer, Lord and God, God's Holy Spirit overshadow's them and enters, indwells, into their soul, resulting in their being made holy, a new creature, having a new identity as newly born, eternal child of God. The result is a relationship with God as Father in a manner in which was never possible prior to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God accepts us as His sanctified, eternal, holy children and citizens of his Kingdom forever. He literally becomes our Father and, just as my earthly Father, there is nothing that can change that.

Then the relationship begins. Like all relationships, it is unique according to the individual and how they interact with their Father. We know what He wants, what makes Him proud of us, what disappoints Him, and when we behave accordingly, it gives us joy, brings us closer to Him, and results in our relationship becoming more and more intimate and close. When we disobey our Father, we know it breaks His heart, disappoints Him, causes Him pain and concern for us. It results in our having a sense of guilt, a sense of avoiding Him even though we know He still our Father. It causes us to be more distant from Him and we miss the fellowship and joy and sense of peace we have when we are very close to our Father. He never stops loving us and actively pursues our return to His arms and even orchestrates events and other of His children to direct us back into a closeness with Him and we come home where we always want to be.

This is the way I view it. I see no connection with works as being a necessary step to having a relationship with God. But I believe that the site you directed us to does not contend that concept either. It's more a matter of our communicating with one another and once we do, I think we end up agreeing that we have the same position and same love for our Father, and He us.

Rex Ray said...

"I don't know the exact date, but it was around 2000 years ago."

I wonder about this person as not knowing when they were saved.

My father, Dave Ray, was a Chaplain in World War II. He stayed with the troops on the front line. After a battle, he’d visit the place where Combat Medics cared for wounded. On one occasion, he was told he should talk to a soldier they couldn’t save.

The soldier asked him to raise him up and see if shrapnel had gone through. His back was also bleeding badly.

“Yesterday, I thought I’d be killed. I asked Jesus to save me. He stepped into my heart and I was so happy, I thought I’d live forever. Don’t know why I was hit today. Tell my mother I’ll met her in heaven.”

Many days after a telegram notified his parents, Dave’s letter arrived. She wrote him: “You’ll never know how much your letter meant to us.”

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, THAT is an awesome story and depicts the extraordinary occurrence that a person experiences when they are saved.

Another thing that came to mind as you quoted that previous comment, "I don't know the exact date, but it was around 2000 years ago."; does that person making the comment have the impression that Jesus Christ dying on the cross results in all people being automatically saved? Hopefully, not, but that's what it sounds like. Sounds like a strong Calvinist who believes that they don't really have to make a decision, God does it for them. Or one of those "universalists" who believe that everyone is saved because Jesus died on the cross no matter what their religion, beliefs, convictions or lack of.

I hope that person will come up with a better answer than this one.

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

That’s what I thought also; that God is so loving; He wouldn’t send anyone to hell.

I believe the parable of the “Rich Man and Lazarus” is not a parable but a prophecy for these reasons. (Bible translation is from NLT)

1.Clothing of Rich Man was the color of Priests.

“Jesus said, “There was a certain Rich Man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen…” (Luke 16:19)

“Make sacred garments for Aron that are glorious and beautiful…distinguish him as a priest…fine linen cloth…purple…” (Exodus 28:2-5)

2.Only parable that used a real name. “At his gate lay a poor man name Lazarus.” (Luke 16:20)

3. There were plans of murder.

“The leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)
“Then the leading priest decided to kill Lazarus, too. (John 12:10)

4. The prophecy of Jesus tells what will happen when Lazarus and Caiaphas die.

“Finally the poor man [Lazarus] died and was carried by angels to be with Abraham. The rich man [Caiaphas] also died…his soul went to the place of the dead…the rich man said, “Please Father Abraham, at least send him [Lazarus] to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.” (Luke 16:22-28)

The link above names the six brothers:
Caiaphas, son of Ananus
Eleazar, son of Ananus
Jonathan, son of Ananus
Theophilus, son of Ananus
Matthias, son of Ananus
Eleazar, son of Ananus

RB, I don’t think it would be as sin for Jesus (knowing all the above) to prophesy what will happen to the guy that plotted the death of God’s son and Lazarus.

Ken F said...

"I see no connection with works as being a necessary step to having a relationship with God."

Hi RB,
I am beginning to believe that works have much more importance than I used to. For example, if someone said they became a marathon runner by researching all aspects of endurance running and nutrition, and purchased all the appropriate clothing, but never actually started running, you would doubt their claims to be a runner. On the other hand, if there was a person who ran a lot but had terrible form and knew almost nothing about training and nutrition, you could call them a runner, but not a good one. Of the two, the technically inferior runner is still a true runner while the other is a runner only in their mind. We Christians can easily fall to one of these two extremes in our spiritual lives.

That Orthodox Priest made the point to me that fasting is analogouse to physical training. So I asked him if it is possible to ease into it so that I don't get an over-use injury. No answer. But I can still see the point - we should expect that growing spiritually should require more effort than just intellectual belief.

Ken F said...

Hi RB and Rex,
Universalism is an interesting topic because it has a number of different meanings. There is actually a form of Christian Universalism that makes a lot of sense. One of the modern proponents of this view is Robin Parry. Here is an interview with him that I find compelling:

Interestingly, of all the heresies discussed early church councils, heresy was not one of them. And at least one very influential churh father (Gregory of Nyssa) believed and taught it. To call it heresy, one would have to state which authority declared it a heresy. Otherwise it is just an opinion.

There are actually three views of hell that have support from the Bible. I once heard them described as rock, paper, and scissors. Rock is eternal conscious torment, where the rock goes into the fire and remains a rock. Papers is conditionalism or annihilationism, where the paper goes into the fire and is completely consumed into nothingness. Scissors is ultimate reconciliation, where the surgical scissors are put into the fire to purity them to make them useful. I have heard very convincing proofs from the bible for all of these views. So I suspect that one's view of this might not be an essential belief.

Did you have a chance to read the Jersak article? Jersak upsets a lot of evangelicals because not only did he convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, but he also supports and agrees with Paul Young, the author of The Shack.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray; I don't know about all of the analogies and symbolism of the story. I do hold it to be extremely revealing about a lot of the truths regarding what we will encounter after life in this world. Not sure what the intent of Jesus was in telling it at this juncture. It could have very well been intended to portray the dilemma of those individuals you mention. But I value the message it gives us regarding the immediate departure from this world into a state of conscious awareness of the next, either heaven or hell. I value it because it displays that this will occur while there are still people living in this world who could be saved while others are in heaven or hell. I value it because it explains that there is hope for those who are lost in the pre-death world and it is the responsibility of we who remain to plead with the lost to surrender their lives to Christ.

The story does bring up questions as well, but I am thankful that Jesus saw fit to bless us with the insight into these important questions. But still, a LOT of people today have different conclusions than those I own regarding the story.

RB Kuter said...

Ken; you say, "I am beginning to believe that works have much more importance than I used to." and then go on to confuse me by giving an analogy of the runner implying that his clothes and equipment("works"?) do not make him a runner, he is not that until he runs.

I like that analogy but it seems to support the conclusion that you can go through all kinds of motions and talk and actions but until you commit your soul to Christ you are not saved. That's the way I see it.

I'm glad that I have not chosen your path of investing so much consideration and study to the orthodox ideologies. It is totally fine that you have and I am thankful if it has led you to feel closer to God but my impression is that it has influenced you along some of their positions where I prefer not to go. Just observing their methods of worship, rituals, hierarchial structure with its stress upon the clergy, and the weight they place upon being in agreement with their positions all give me a sense of wanting to give them a wide girth.

When I was in Ethiopia, the Orthodox people considered Evangelicals to be a cult due to their lack of recognizing the methods, beliefs, and hierarchy of the Orthodox church. They really opposed our promoting the idea that people could be saved without belonging to their Orthodox church or simply by having faith in Jesus Christ alone. That has been my impression with all of those adhering to that leaning although I am sure there are exceptions as there is with Catholics, but certainly, the preponderance of both are similar to this.

There really is very little, if anything, that the Orthodox group teaches or position that they propose that would influence me. For instance, for me, there is no debate. I believe there is an eternal, tormenting, hopeless, dark, hell where there is never any hope of escape once entering and all of those who reject Christ in this life will end up there. Call it that "rock" scenario you mention. But there is no reason for me to consider the Orthodox or any other proposition of the paper and scissors' intent of hell.

You, Ken, seem to be a VERY astute and learned scholar of Scripture who has an immense source of information and understanding that is derived from it. You have impressed me through our dialogues and yours with others. You do seem to be leaning strongly to the point of view of the Orthodox, yet still holding back from just going "whole-hog" and jumping in and becoming one. Their basic propositions seem to impress you and have drawn you more into their thinking than with other groups. Wonder why you have not just taken the plunge and began to identify with the Orthodox church? I am guessing that you are of an age where I would think you would be beyond this intersection. Wonder what's going on?

Forgive me for speculating so much about your endeavors and your outlook given that I really know very little about you. I guess I know just enough from our dialogue, and your comments to others, to totally misread you and probably should not dare to propose an assessment. Forgive me if that's the case. It's definitely not meant to be a judgment, simply an inquisitive observation.

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

Thanks for the reply. You brought out the ‘story’ shows the need for Christians to fulfill the Great Commission, but you didn’t say if you believed it was a parable (earthly story with a heavenly meaning) or prophecy of what will happened and at present has happened.

Either way, I believe it puts a dent in Wade’s belief (if I haven’t got him wrong) that everyone that’s died is still in their graves and awaits “Judgement Day”. That is, there’s no one that’s died is in Heaven or hell at present. Maybe Wade’s changed his mind or maybe I’m wrong about his beliefs.

RB Kuter said...

No, I don't think you're wrong about Wade's position, RR. He can correct us if we're wrong but the most recent comments from him that I have read on the matter indicated that he does hold the position that those who die are kind of "put on hold" and in a "sleep" state until I believe, the return of Christ. That's his position and we disagree with him but still like him!

I have pretty much always agreed with you that this is an actual account rather than being a parable but the only reason I have for this is the "naming" of the poor man, Lazarus. But as with all messages from Jesus, I take it as being the infallible Word of God coming directly from the WORD of God.

Oh, some other points that are made is the story is that there is no way for those in hell to cross over into heaven, there is NO relief for them, not even the relief of knowing their loved ones were saved or the relief of being able to warn them about the horrid place they're headed for if they do not repent. I say this with absolutely no self-gratification that some are/will be getting punished for their unpardonable sin, that is, rejecting Jesus Christ. The horror of the dilemma of all those who are rejecting Him is a priority that motivates me to try to shout warnings to any I have a chance to warn. It terrifies me on their behalf and makes me desperate to tell them. Still, I never do enough. I've tried approaching some strangers and say things like, "Did you know that Jesus Christ died on a cross so that you and I can be saved?" and things like that which are apparently not effective. But I keep trying to get something from God's Spirit that would make me more effective and that would impact some to wake up to the judgment they face without being covered with the blood of Christ.

I keep trying, but NEVER as much as I feel I should be. That passage in Ezekiel 33 continues to haunt me and the thought that one day I could be standing before God in judgment with someone who knew me and who was not redeemed and that I had not warned. The thought of someone being able to say, "WHAT! You KNEW and didn't tell me! How cruel is that?!!!"

Christiane said...

Good Morning REX RAY and RB Kuter,

here's some help:
if you google the following, a number of posts by Wade on the subject will come up:

wade burleson the dead 'sleep' until the resurrection

RB Kuter said...

Hey, that's pretty cool, Christiane. Thanks for that. I'm pretty sure Rex Ray and I have seen at least most of these over the years of following Wade's blog and no doubt have pretty much exhausted our comments regarding it. But it's good to know that we can simply Google a subject that has been post and get access to relative posts. So thanks for directing us to that method.

Rex Ray said...


I didn’t dream your link would reference so many. (TEN)
Poor Wade. He’s so nice to have this blog we enjoy so much, and what do we do?

It reminds me of something my father wrote, “Life hung in the balance, and a friend tossed on a rose.” (It’s like a guy being tried for murder, and his friend said something nice about him that got him hung.)

Ken F said...

Hi RB,
Thanks for the feedback. I see that I was not clear enough in my analogy. I was equating knowledge, clothes, and equipment not with works, but with things such as correct theology and associations. In that analogy, running would be the works. Jesus said the sheep and goats will be separated by their deeds/works, not their beliefs or associations, not even by their confessions of belief. In the case of the rich man and Lazarus that you and Rex have been discussing, his torment in Hades appears to be the result of how he lived (and loved) and not what he believed. I am sure that having good theology matters to some extent, but it is looking more and more to me like our deeds/works are more important, at least from the perspective of what Jesus taught in these two examples.

As for my background, I was raised in a mainline Protestant denomination where I don't ever remember being given a clear presentation of the gospel. I finally heard it in college through a para-church organization called The Navigators. 35 years ago (plus or minus a few weeks), I made a decision for Christ in the evangelical sense. I got heavily involved with The Navigators until that eventually backfired on me. For around 20 some years after my conversion I participated in various non-denominational evangelical churches. Then my wife and I joined a SBC church about 12 years ago after our move to the deep South. That did not turn out well in the end. So right now we are back to a mainline Protestant church while I sort myself out.

As to why I did not go all in with Orthodoxy, I think I explained that earlier in this thread (Brad Jersak has interesting guidance - he recommends not converting to Orthodoxy until you cannot not convert). I find its theology and anthropology amazing, and I've also found them more effective in proving their points with the Bible than any other denomination. But their practices are too complex and stifling, even though I can recognize a lot of good rationale for much of it (but not all of it).

I'm now at the point where I can see a lot of pros and cons for most denominations, and I have found true believers in every denomination. For all my adult life I have felt compelled to get it right in my theology. But now I fear that I missed what is much more important: loving well. No amount of good theology can make up for that.

RB Kuter said...

Ken F: you share some wise and true words. Thank you for doing that. I believe we all have been on some very dramatic roads with the Lord and continue to do so. It is scary sometimes but always exciting and a huge blessing when we are at least attempting to walk close with Him and He takes us to some places we never imagined going and doing things we never imagined doing. What a ride!

Ken F said...

Hi RB,
Thank you for your kind words. Getting back to your cesspool analogy, as I look back, I don't quite know exactly how I got here. I don't know if I was pushed in, tricked in, or if it was my own idea to jump in (probably more the last option). And it's not clear to me how to get out or whether I should get out. Now that I am here, I have people on the sidelines giving contradictory guidance on how to get out or where to dig, and others pointing out how wrong I am to be here at all. This is why I advise Christians who are happy with their tradition to not dig into church history or engage in significant ways with people in other traditions. I speak from experience when I say ignorance is bliss.

RB Kuter said...

Ken, I appreciate your candor. I have found that information is not threatening when we are confident in our position. Prior to my first encounter with world religions, cults, etc., I was concerned whether my faith might be challenged with their proposals and whether I might leave their centers asking, "Am I on the correct path or do they cause me to question whether they might be right?"

I was blessed in leaving feeling more confident and sensing that they were being led astray.

You and I need to continue to study to acquire a better understanding of our God and His character and ways and His intentions for us. But I believe my priority must be to first acquire confidence that I am at peace with my Father and that all I strive to do is to bring Him what glory my life can offer.