Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Meek Shall Inherit

God's been teaching me about meekness lately. Now, I have a friend who recently described me as a meek person, but apparently I still have a lot to learn.

In Bible study for the past two weeks, we've been talking about the Beatitudes as characteristics of the kind of person who's truly seeking God. To truly seek God, you have to be poor in spirit (aware of your own poverty without God), mournful of your sin, meek, hungry and thirsty after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker. Of course, the result of this won't always be peace, but may very well be trouble, as you find yourself in tension with the world system.

All of today's assigned scriptures from my devotion book were all about meekness, too.

Psalm 37:8-11
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.
Also, Daniel 5:13-30 contrasts King Belshazzar, who is drunk with his own power, with the meekness of Daniel. Though Daniel is offered rich rewards for interpreting God's handwriting on the wall, Daniel says in verse 7, "You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means." Then, after he has said this and after he interprets the dream, he is rewarded anyway, despite his protestations. See--the meek shall inherit.
Then, 2 John 1:6 says, "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, your command is that you walk in love."
And then, in Luke 5:1-11, Jesus is in the middle of teaching when people interrupt his teaching by tearing a hole in his roof (many scholars believe that this was Jesus' own house) and lowering someone through the hole. I think I'd be a bit rankled by this, but Jesus simply looks at him and says, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." What sins, you may ask. Well, the sin of tearing Jesus' house apart, for starters! But instead of anger, Jesus chooses meekness.
Meekness isn't weakness. It's power under control. It's humility and gentleness combined. I need more of this in my life. These were all assigned readings for today. Is the Lord trying to show me something about meekness? I think so.
Then, of course, consider this: God led you to my blog. Is He trying to show you something about meekness, too?

I'm an INFJ!!!

Guess what! I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, and found out that I'm an INFJ. The INFJ is also called "The Counselor." This has changed since the last time I took it, when I was in college. Then, I was an INFP, aka "The Healer." I wonder what changed.

I swiped the following from wikipedia to share with you:

INFJ (Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging) is an acronym used in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) publications to refer to one of the sixteen personality types.[1][2] The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types, which proposed a psychological typology based on his theories of cognitive functions. These theories were based on clinical observation, however, rather than the controlled studies required for acceptance by the modern field of cognitive psychology.[3]

From Jung's work, others developed psychological typologies. Well-known personality tests are the MBTI assessment, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, developed by David Keirsey. Keirsey referred to the INFJs as Counselors, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Idealists.[4] According to some sources, INFJ is the rarest personality type.[5]

The MBTI instrument

The MBTI preferences indicate the differences in people based on the following:[6]

By using their preference in each of these areas, people develop what Jung and Myers called psychological type. This underlying personality pattern results from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences, in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies. People are likely to develop behaviors, skills, and attitudes based on their particular type. Each personality type has its own potential strengths as well as areas that offer opportunities for growth.

The MBTI tool consists of multiple choice questions that sort respondents on the basis of the four "dichotomies" (pairs of psychological opposites). Sixteen different outcomes are possible, each identified by its own four-letter code, referred to by initial letters. (N is used for iNtuition, to differentiate it from Introversion). The MBTI is approximately 75% accurate according to its own manual.[7]

  • I – Introversion preferred to Extraversion: INFJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).[8]
  • N – iNtuition preferred to Sensing: INFJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.[9]
  • F – Feeling preferred to Thinking: INFJs tend to rely on a personal, internal sense of right and wrong rather than external, objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to feelings and social considerations than to logic.[10]
  • J – Judgment preferred to Perception: INFJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability, which to perceptive types may seem limiting. [11]

[edit] Characteristics of INFJs

INFJs are conscientious and value-driven. They seek meaning in relationships, ideas, and events, with an eye toward better understanding themselves and others. Using their intuitive skills, they develop a clear vision, which they then execute decisively to better the lives of others. Like their INTJ counterparts, INFJs regard problems as opportunities to design and implement creative solutions.[12]

INFJs are quiet, private individuals who prefer to exercise their influence behind the scenes. Although very independent, INFJs are intensely interested in the well-being of others. INFJs prefer one-on-one relationships to large groups. Sensitive and complex, they are adept at understanding complicated issues and driven to resolve differences in a cooperative and creative manner. [13]

Accounting for 1–3% of the population,[14] INFJs have a rich, vivid inner life, which they may be reluctant to share with those around them. Nevertheless, they are congenial in their interactions, and perceptive of the emotions of others. Generally well-liked by their peers, they may often be considered close friends and confidants by most other types. However, they are guarded in expressing their own feelings, especially to new people, and so tend to establish close relationships slowly. INFJs tend to be easily hurt, though they may not reveal this except to their closest companions. INFJs may "silently withdraw as a way of setting limits," rather than expressing their wounded feelings—a behavior that may leave others confused and upset.[15]

INFJs tend to be sensitive, quiet leaders with a great depth of personality. They are intricately and deeply woven, mysterious, and highly complex, sometimes puzzling even to themselves. They have an orderly view toward the world, but are internally arranged in a complex way that only they could understand. Abstract in communicating, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. With a natural affinity for art, INFJs tend to be creative and easily inspired.[16] Yet they may also do well in the sciences, aided by their intuition.

The following is also from wikipedia:

The Counselor Idealist is one of the 16 role variants of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a self-assessed personality questionnaire designed to help people better understand themselves. David Keirsey originally described the Counselor role variant; however, a brief summary of the personality types described by Isabel Myers contributed to its development. Counselors correlate primarily with the INFJ Myers-Briggs type.[1]


Counselors are introspective, cooperative, directive, and attentive. Counselors find helping others to personally develop and reach their potential to be personally gratifying as they have a strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others. Counselors often communicate to others in a personalized manner and are positive and kind when dealing with others. Counselors are good listeners and are highly intuitive. They are often able to detect the emotions or intentions of another individual before the individual is aware of them. Counselors are sometimes amazed at their ability to read the emotions of others and this extreme empathetic ability could be the psychological basis for premonitions, mind reading, and other psychic phenomena.

Counselors usually have intricate personalities and rich inner lives. They tend to keep their innermost thoughts and emotional reactions to themselves, which can make them tough to get to know. Counselors tend to be private people, possibly because their ability to take in the emotional experiences of others can cause them to be easily hurt. They have great depth of personality and can understand complex issues and individuals.

Counselors often prefer to work on a one-to-one basis with others or to work intensely with people close to them. Counselors are happy doing jobs that require solitude and close attention. They are also happy working with others provided that the personal interactions are not superficial and they are given some quiet time in order to reenergize themselves. Counselors usually exert their influence behind-the-scenes rather than being a visible leader.

Counselors often work well in organizations. They value staff harmony, are good at consulting and cooperating with others, and they are concerned with the feelings of others. They strive to make an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. Counselors can also act as a barometer of the feelings within an organization.

[edit] Notable Counselors

For illustrative purposes, Keirsey and his son, David M. Keirsey,[2] have identified well-known individuals whose behavior is consistent with a specific type. Unless otherwise noted, the categorization of the individuals below, whether living or dead, as Counselors is a matter of expert opinion rather than the result of actual testing of the named individual.

Click here to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. Then, let me know how you turned out. I'd be really interested to hear it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rushing Through Our Lessons

Today my wife and I accompanied my 11-year old daughter on a school field trip to Washington, D.C. On the way to our nation's capital, we talked about how blessed we are to live so close to such a treasure trove of history and culture, not to mention patriotism and politics. Our daughter had never been to D.C., and the last time we had been there was 13 years ago. For some reason, when you live close to a tourist attraction (as Washington certainly is), you tend to be the last to go and see it. You will, ironically, make a long trip to see something that isn't hardly as much worth seeing as that attraction that is nearest to you.

We arrived at our destination sometime around 11:30 in the morning. Between 11:30 and 3:45, we visited the Museum of American History, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Museum of Natural History. Along the way, we had the distinctive Washingtonian experiences of eating an overpriced hot dog from a street vendor and riding the Metro.

Let me tell you, four hours and fifteen minutes is NOT enough time to take in all there is to see in our nation's capital. It isn't even enough time to really get one museum completely seen and appreciated, much less the monuments and other things we saw. It got me thinking--why is it that we like to rush through our lessons? Do we really think we can skip to the end and still learn everything we're supposed to learn?

I remember doing this in school. I'd read the highlighted text that the kid who used the book before me had marked, rather than the entire reading assignment.

I remember doing this with my piano lessons when I was my daughter's age. I play by ear, so whenever I had trouble reading the music, I'd just ask my piano teacher to play it for me. "Aah, I've got it," I would say, then play it as if I'd learned it.

So, given my greatly advanced years since the piano lesson days, I have enough distance and perspective to say that that was the wrong way to learn. You can't rush through your lessons, pretend that you learned something, and feel good about yourself for having take the lesson. It doesn't do any good. Not in school. Not in piano. Not on field trips.

So we made a commitment to take an annual day-trip to Washington. There's really no reason why we haven't done it before, except for laziness. We live so close--why not enjoy our nation's history? And if we go every year, there will be no rush to get everything seen in one quick trip. We'll be able to take our time with the things we do see. We'll enjoy them more, and learn more along the way.

Come to think of it, this is a good way to approach spiritual development, and life in general. Don't rush through the lessons life gives you. Savor the things God is showing you. If you plow through too quickly, you'll miss something important. You have your whole life to grow, so what's the rush? Take your time, so you can see those things you're missing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Walk in the Light

When I was young, one of my chores was disposing of the table scraps after dinner. This was particularly frightening during the winter months, when it gets dark early. We used to dump the scraps at the roots of a tall oak tree on the edge of the woods, where foxes and other animals could get them. I remember fearfully approaching the dark forest at night, terrified that something would jump out at me. Then as I moved to empty the bowl of scraps, something would scurry in the leaves, making me drop my bowl and run back to the house. Yes, I know what it means to be afraid in the dark. My whole family told me that there was nothing to be afraid of, that everything was okay—but still I was afraid.

That’s how I imagine the apostle Thomas felt, after Jesus’ first resurrection appearance to the disciples when Thomas had been away. All his friends told him that Jesus had risen. They all told him that everything was okay, but he was still afraid. He was still in the dark. But we don’t have to be afraid of the dark! Jesus wants us to live in the radiance of the resurrection!

1 John 1:5-7 says, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
We don’t need to be afraid of the dark, because God is light. If God lives in us, then the light lives in us, and we don’t need to fear. We also don’t need to sin. Thomas’ sin was his doubt. My “sin” (to use an illustration) was dropping the bowl and running, because I wasn’t doing the will of my father. How does the darkness of your life cause you to sin? God wants you to walk in the light, and not be afraid.

Let me tell you what I did, so that I wouldn’t be afraid of the dark. I knew that I had to recover the bowl, but I was still afraid. So I went back inside and said, “Daddy, hold my hand.” Then my father took me by the hand, turned on a flashlight, and led me in his light.

When you find yourself afraid in the dark, full of doubt and fear like Thomas, take the Father’s hand, and let Him lead you in His light.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Ecstasy of Easter, or a Substitute Stimulation?

It's Easter time! A fun time! Time for bunnies and colored eggs and Easter parades! But in all of our fun celebrations, we've lost the true ecstasy of Easter.

Those who truly know Christ--those who live in His resurrection power--know that Easter is far more than a holiday to celebrate bunny rabbits. Easter is a glorious time--a time to fully realize the energy, the vitality, the full life that is ours in Christ. Easter is a time to celebrate that the unfathomable power of God--the limitless dynamic life-giving radiance of the eternal Creator of the universe--the sublime, supreme glory of God--is alive in us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we truly understood this--if we could absorb this truth into the core of our being--then we would know the ecstasy of Easter. We would know the joy, the elation, the bliss, the rapture of resurrection. We would feel--truly FEEL the power that raised Christ from the dead now dwelling in us (Romans 8:11).

Instead, we have chosen to celebrate the day with a substitute stimulation.

Everybody loves chocolate. I'm talking about the GOOD chocolate, not that cheap stuff you get from China. Not only do we love the way chocolate tastes--we love the way chocolate makes us feel. Science tells us that chocolate releases endorphins in the brain--the same endorphins that make us feel loved. That's why we want chocolate when we're upset. It brings comfort, and a momentary sense of happiness.

For some reason, we've decided to associate chocolate with Easter. Chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, chocolate baby chickens (go figure). We've replaced the true ecstasy of Easter with a substitute stimulation. Is it because, as Jessep says in A Few Good Men, we can't handle the truth? We'd rather reduce the elation of Easter to chemical stimulation?

Instead, may we pray the prayer that Paul prayed for us, and come to the understanding of our identity in Christ that we find in in Ephesians 1:17-23 (CEV)

I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit. The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God. My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God's people. I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used when he raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven. There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well. God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. The church is Christ's body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything.