Thursday, July 29, 2010


If you're anything like me (which would be really surprising) you wonder about the meanings and origins of words sometimes. One thing I really enjoy is learning languages. Granted, I can only speak one fluently, I am fascinated with other languages. It is so interesting to me that the human race has so many different ways of explaining emotions, the world, actions, things. One of the things I really love about the church I go to is that we often dive into the original Greek and Hebrew that the Bible was written in. I gain such a deeper appreciation for what the author was trying to convey when I get to read it the way he wrote it.

This past Sunday, we were learning about Philippians 2 and discussing what it means to live a "Philippians 2" lifestyle. If you haven't read this chapter recently, stop reading my blog, go read it, and come back. You can pick up right where you left off.

Welcome back. In verse 20, Paul is writing about his beloved Timothy. He writes: "For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare." (ESV). The Greek word that Paul uses for "genuinely" here is: gnesios. This word literally means legitimately born, true, genuine, and sincere. I got to thinking... am I genuinely concerned for other people's welfare? Am I sincere? Am I true?

I got to thinking about the word sincere too. As you may or may not know, sincere comes from the Latin sincerus which means clean, pure, or sound.

So, let's ask that question again. Am I clean? Pure? Sound? Am I true? Sincere? Genuine? People now-a-days, especially the younger generations, are extremely good at detecting sincerity. They can tell when you don't mean what you say. They know when you are not genuine and they are often quick to call you out on it. I work with middle schoolers on a regular basis, and it is no secret that unless I mean what I say, they are simply going to ignore me.

I often have to remind myself of being genuine. I hate to admit it, but there's times I am just not interested in other people--I just want to sit in a dark room and be alone; however, I don't always have that luxury. That doesn't mean feigning sincerity--that will get you in more trouble. So, this is the problem. How do you act genuine when you aren't? That's a loaded question... you don't act. You are.

I wish I knew how to get there. I think I'm getting better. It's a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing. I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and be sincere... maybe, but I doubt it. I do; however, have a choice. Will I choose to take an interest in the people around me? Or will I be too concerned with me?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Testing... testing... is this thing on?

If you are anything like me, you don't like tests. Granted, I'm not typically the kind of person who freaks out, has panic attacks, or stresses out about a test; I'm just not a very big fan. They're usually mentally draining and leave me feeling a bit hopeless. After you finish, there's nothing left you can do--it's entirely up to the grader at that point to determine your grade.

Testing on the other hand is slightly different. I do enjoy testing. Being a scientist/engineer at heart, I love trying things out and see what the outcome will be. It can be day-to-day things like, let's see what happens when I mix peanut butter and pickles (very tasty by the way) or more thought out testing like, let's thermochemically gasify wood chips and see if we can power a spark-ignition engine with it.

If there's one thing I've learned in my life as a follower of Christ, it is that you must always be testing. I can attribute this learned trait to my Bible study leader and good friend, Bruce. I'd need more hands and feet to count the number of times one of us in our Romans study would start, "Well I think it says..." and Bruce would stop us and say, "No, what does it say..." as he pointed at his Bible. You must always be testing anything you hear, read, see with what God's word says. Isaac's word should probably be ignored all together (but don't stop reading my blog, please :) ).

I met with Bruce a couple of weekends ago to catch up, talk about life and what's going on, and to talk about some things I'd been struggling with. As I laid out how I was struggling with citizenship and how one source tells me this and another source tells me that and a third source tells me something completely different, he stopped me and said, "What does it say?" as he pointed at his Bible.

The feeling I felt then I can't put to words. It was relief, but it was also conviction. My eyes had been opened. I realized that I had become so attuned to listening to the world around me try to say what it means to be a citizen that I had all but forgot the only word that matters.

Therefore, readers, I ask of you this. I can't guarantee this is the only time I will give you homework, but bear with me. Always be testing. Test what I say, test what you hear, test what you read, test what you see. Test it all. Test everything. Test it against what you ask? Against God's word. What does he say? That's what matters. That's only what matters.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our manner of life...

As I've mentioned many times, I'm reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne. I came upon an excerpt from Aristides the Athenian. He was a Christian in Greece around AD 137. He wrote:

"It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their smallness. Every one of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. If they see a traveling stranger, they bring him under their roof. They rejoice over him as over a real brother, for they do not call one another brothers after the flesh, but they know they are brothers in the Spirit and in God. If they hear that one of them is imprisoned or oppressed for the sake of Christ, they take care of all his needs. If possible they set him free. If anyone among them is poor or comes into want while they themselves have nothing to spare, they fast two or three days for him. In this way they can supply any poor man with the food he needs. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.
- Aristides, AD 137

If that doesn't knock the wind out of your sails, I don't know what will. If I made this into a check list and went item by item for my own life, I might check off one or two of the multitude of attitudes and behaviors listed here. What has happened to the Church? What has happened to Christians? We have become less and less imitators of Christ. I want to get back to the way the Church was when it first started. I want to open my house to complete strangers and love them as a brother. I want to give until it hurts. I want to be aware of my smallness. I want to be an imitator of Christ.

What am I waiting for?