Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Evangelical? Traditional? Charismatic? Orthodox?

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You
are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe
that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him,
even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift
of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation,
and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which
God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley
and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical




Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Is Absolute Truth?

Sometimes I hear people say things like

  • "Truth is in the eye of the beholder."
  • "There's no such thing as truth."
  • "Truth is related to what you believe or don't believe."
  • "Truth is relative."

That kind of belief is very shifty and meaningless. People who say those things are trying either to avoid truth or to make it what they want it to be. Absolute truth does exist.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

The most elemental, basic truth is love. It is the most powerful force in the universe.

Our hearts were created to cry out for love. We need it. We thrive on it. We shrivel up and die without it. People have been willing to sacrifice everything and even give up their lives for it. Love is the basis of all truth. The Bible says if we have every possession in the world but don't have love, we have nothing. Love is everything, and without it we are nothing. (That's in First Corinthians 13.)

The Bible says (in First John 4) that God is love. It says that if we have love in our lives, we have God, whether or not we know it. If you've known any love, then, you've known God--whether it is love of your children, your parents, your spouse, your friends, or your puppy.

Since love is who and what God is, he is truth.

In Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning, he describes the process by which he was able to find meaning even while he was suffering terribly in a concentration camp during World War II. Stumbling over rocks and ice during a forced march one morning just before dawn, Frankl saw an image of his wife, and she seemed very real to him, as real as the sun rising. He says:

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth--that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. . . . For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory." (48-49)

We can depend on his love, because it is true, unfailing, and unchanging. It never ends.

The word of God is truth. In Psalm 33, King David says that "the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does" (verse 4). In verse 11, he says "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations."

The Bible is God's living word--it has all kinds of relevant things to say to anyone of any age, race, or nationality. Bob Just, a well-known journalist, wrote that "the Bible is amazing because truth is amazing. The Bible is not only adventurous; it's also touching, meaningful, instructive, ironic, sarcastic, humorous, gentle and stern--and ultimately both spiritual and human at the same time. It is also strangely modern despite its ancient text." He says it is "God's love letter to us." He calls it "a living document because the God who guides you is a Living God." And the secret to understanding and believing it "isn't knowledge. The secret is love."

God is the truth upon which all other truth rests.

Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. 4th ed. Trans. Ilse Lasch. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

Just, Bob. "No Fear: Overcoming Bible Trauma." WorldNetDaily. 10 Apr. 2004.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rainbows from Above: Jim the Pilot

My brother Jim is a pilot. He wrote an essay about amazing things he has seen while he is in the air--"Running Rendezvous with Mother Nature." He says God is the master artist and craftsman of these phenomena. Jim gave me permission to share some of this with you. For example, here is a paragraph from his essay, about rainbows seen from above the earth:

The most unforgettable sight associated with clouds is a rainbow. When unencumbered by close proximity to terra firma, it appears majestically in a full, perfect circle. I have seen it only three times in nearly forty years of flying. Conditions must be just right: sun behind, altitude between five and twenty thousand feet, high humidity. It appears on the clouds ahead, possibly two miles in diameter. The full spectrum of colors is there, more vivid than I thought possible. As the aircraft comes nearer to the clouds, the rainbow becomes smaller, to a minimum of approximately one-half mile. The individual bands of color grow even more vivid. As the aircraft scores a perfect bull’s-eye on the rainbow, the nearest band is a hundred feet wide. I could reach out and touch it with my hand, but I do not have to. It comes inside and fills the cockpit with the soft yellow of daisies. We pass into the cloud and it is gone. No more than two minutes have elapsed, but the memory of such a moving experience lasts a lifetime.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Circular Discussion

While I was rummaging around looking at old (paper) files, I found a folder of things I wrote down about my children when they were little. Kids say some funny things as they are learning to use logic, and if you listen in on their conversations, you may be entertained. When my kids were about 9 (L), 7 (B), and 5 (M), they had this circular discussion in a busy restaurant during a family vacation somewhere in the Wild West.

The previous entry is another one of their circular discussions.

M: What’s the matter with that man?

B: Did you hear what he said?

L: What?

B: He said a criminal escaped from a prison.

M: What?

B: He said a criminal escaped from a prison.

M: Who said?

B: That man.

M: What did he do?

B: He didn’t do anything. He said something.

L: Who? The man? He means the criminal, B.

B: I don’t know. How am I supposed to know?

M: I don’t know. You said it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Children: Circular Discussion

Here’s a circular discussion that took place when my children, L (9), B (7), and M (5), were young. This was the kind of conversation that made my head feel foggy.

B: Mommy, does Loretta Lynn sing that song?

M: What?

B: I asked Mommy if Loretta Lynn sings that song.

M: Who’s Reletta Lynn?

B: Ha, ha, ha, he said "Reletta"!

L (exasperated): A country and western singer, M!

B: Mommy, does Reletta Lynn sing that song?

M: What song?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Q & A: Love

Q: Why are you running so hard?

A: Trying to get away.

Q: From what?

A: Things. Things that make me uncomfortable.

Q: What kinds of things?

A: Emotional junk. You know the kind—lovey stuff that people say.

Q: Like what?

A: Like what you’re always saying—about love.

Q: And things about God?

A: That, too, I guess. Don’t want to talk about it. It’s just a story.

Q: Gets you out of your comfort zone?

A: Don’t want to talk about that. I’m perfectly comfortable.

Q: Know what you are really running away from? Love. Joy in living—or dying—or whatever. I can’t understand why anybody would run from love—why anybody would choose cold misery over love. Can you explain that?


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dogs: Man's (and Woman's) Best Friends

We have been dog owners for all the thirty-six years of our marriage. During all that time, whenever we became dog-less through doggie-death, another stray would show up soon and take up residence with us; these have all been big dogs, usually two at a time. We have actually sought out, on purpose, only three dogs—Flash, Alex, and Taz. During those years, we have always had at least one cat, once as many as nine, including kittens.

Flash was an adorable Bassett hound mama dog who had just given birth to six puppies. Our children were begging for a Bassett hound for Christmas. The owners of Flash and her puppies offered us a puppy, but when I went to get one, I could see that they were not going to look like Bassett hounds; their daddy was somebody else. So, I offered to take the mama. The owners were delighted at this unexpected turn of events. I took a picture of her and put it in a Christmas card with the assurance that this doggie would be ours as soon as she finished her motherly duties. She was a wonderful, loving pet. We had her spayed, and she lived with us for about two years before getting run over by a car while wandering with our current stray. (We live in the country where dogs run loose.)

Several strays later, our daughter wanted a black lab puppy for her high school graduation gift. We found the perfect one and had her registered: Alexandria (Something) Callarman, who became known as Alex. We had her spayed, and she lived with and loved us for thirteen years. (You’re right: our daughter went off to college when she finished the local junior college and left Alex right here with us.) Even though Alex weighed about seventy pounds, she had to sit in our laps sometimes. She went wandering often with the strays and was eventually killed on the highway.

After Alex, we had two strays, Bubba and Jack; actually, they overlapped with her. They lived with and loved us for about twelve years altogether. After they died, both of old age, we decided it was time to become dog-less for a while. That lasted for about six months.

During the time that our yard and garage were unguarded, we realized that possums and raccoons were coming often to eat the cat food. One night, hearing noise, I looked out and saw a skunk and a raccoon having a shoving match over the cat food. They tried to shoulder each other out of the way politely for a while. Then the battle escalated. They were rear to rear, pushing each other as hard as they could. We decided it was time to get a big dog or two.

Since no stray had appeared, we looked on the Internet and found Taz, a big neutered male black-lab mixture, at Rescue the Animals. From the moment we got him, he became our best dog yet, although he has a close rival in Spot, a big stray who came along to join Taz. That was almost three years ago.

Taz was owned by someone who kept the gigantic dog indoors and fed him nothing but dry dog food. He had (and still has) impeccable manners—has never once jumped on or slobbered on anybody. The first night, we had to keep the garage light on all night because he was afraid of the dark outdoors. He would rather be petted than eat; he seems to live to be near us. When we come out, he dashes over as fast as he can and sits politely as close as he can, hoping we will talk to him and pet him; he will sit as long as we will keep petting him. I rub his silky ears and neck and call him my “sweet baby.” He loves that.

Soon after we got him, we discovered that he is obsessed with chasing a tennis ball. We keep a supply for him, since they often get lost. He has all the neighbors, the grandchildren, the meter readers, the plumber, the electrician, and the air conditioner man trained to throw the ball for him. When we come home from somewhere, he grabs the ball, brings it to the car, and deposits it in the floor of the car in hopes of some good throwing.

Like Flash, Alex, and all those strays, Taz loves us with no strings attached. If we hide his ball so that we can get some outside chore done, or because we get tired of throwing it, he never holds a grudge. He understands and accepts the fact that we won’t let him in the house, and he adores us anyway. I believe God created dogs with this ability to love without conditions, without manipulation, without inhibitions, so that we can see a picture of his kind of pure love. We should love God and each other in the same open, clear-eyed, unconditional way that our dogs love us. That’s how love is supposed to be.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: "American Idol"

I’m not a big watcher of “American Idol,” but I have some observations of it based on three or four viewings and what I’ve seen in the news lately.

Apparently, the panel of “judges” screen thousands of idol hopefuls.

They are charged with choosing the final thirty or so contestants, who will be picked off one at a time during the season.

Many of the people auditioning have little to no talent.

The judges roll their eyes and make rude remarks to the ones they don’t like.

In fact, some of the things they say are downright cruel and hurtful.

For example, on the news I saw What’s-His-Name (meanest judge) say to one young man that he had weird eyes and did not either sound or look human. He said, "You look like one of those creatures that live in the woods with those massive eyes."

I was horrified that anybody would be that mean and personal. Why couldn’t he just say thanks, but no thanks?

I think the whole thing is somewhat rigged from the very beginning.

A couple of years ago, I asked my students to write a little piece about the appeal of “reality” shows. My example was “Survivor.”

One student said he thought viewers identify with real people more than actors. Maybe this season’s opening “American Idol” segment had more viewers than ever for that reason.

One student used “American Idol” as a reference. She said, “We have a responsibility to choose our music.”

Oh, good grief!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mark Twain and the "N-Word"

A common criticism of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer is that they are full of anti-African-American sentiment because of the use of the “n-word” and the degrading position of slaves.

On the contrary, I would argue that Mark Twain's works are great masterpieces in the emerging American literature of the westward movement of the 1800s. He portrayed human nature with an ironic view, in many of its quirks and foibles. His works reflect the way Southern people were at that time, including the way they talked--and that included the common use of the "n-word."

At that time, the "n-word" did not hold as much insult, hurt, and humiliation as it came to hold later, it seems to me. Mark Twain was very much against treating black people as less than human. We see in Huckleberry Finn that Huck saw the slave Jim as a father figure whom he loved dearly. He was very conflicted over whether he ought to break the law and help Jim escape or obey the law and turn him in. His final decision was the just one, as he realized that the law was wrong. Twain demonstrated through this situation that often the “social right” is, in humane terms, wrong.

When I was a child (lo, these many years ago in the fifties), people said the "n-word" freely, although it was falling out of favor. I was forbidden to say it, even though my grandmother did, and I was not allowed to criticize her for it--conflict!

There was a very old black man who went through our town every day driving his horse-drawn wagon of tools; his name was "N-word" Dink. Everybody thought highly of him, and nobody meant to be disrespectful in calling him that, as far as I in my childish mind knew, although there probably were plenty who did. My mother said I was not to call him "N-word" Dink, but MR. Dink. I thought that was weird, but in my heart, I knew she was right.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Subway Hero

Last week, a man named Wesley Autrey became a hero in New York City when he saved the life of a young man who had a seizure and fell onto the subway tracks before an oncoming train. Here are some thoughts about that:

  • He acted instantly. He turned his two little girls over to a woman standing nearby and leaped onto the tracks to help Cameron Hollopeter, an 18-year-old film student.
  • He had little time to think about it, but obviously, he thought this boy was worth saving at the risk of his own life.
  • It must have been a split-second reaction. He said he tried to help Hollopeter up out of the tracks.
  • When Hollopeter couldn’t get up, Autrey made another split-second decision. The train was getting very close.
  • Autrey smashed himself down on top of Hollopeter and held him down with his head, arms, and legs. The train roared over them, smudging Autrey’s toboggan.
  • Not only could the train have killed them both, but the track was charged with thousands of volts of electricity. Autrey kept the young man from touching the tracks on either side of them.
  • What would I have done in that situation?
  • I think I would have smacked my hand over my mouth and uttered a cry of some sort. Then I probably would have just stood there with my mouth hanging open, watching the train run over Hollopeter. I might have said, “No, no, no!”
  • I’d rather think I would have helped him as Autrey did, but I don’t believe the thought of jumping onto the tracks would have ever entered my mind.
  • What he did shows amazing courage and deep, sincere care and concern for other people. People are always touched by stories of such things.
  • We’re told in the Bible that we should love God with our whole heart, mind, body, and strength and love other people as much as we love ourselves.
  • If we have that kind of love, given by the Holy Spirit, then we would feel great concern for other people. We would be willing to help people—most helping ways don’t (thank God) involve leaping onto train tracks.
  • Somebody asked Autrey if he had any words for other people. He said something like “New Yorkers! If somebody needs help, help ‘em!”

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Study of Violence

It is time for another word study. Today we shall examine the word violence. This is appropriate, because Monday, January 15, is Martin Luther King Day. If he were still alive, I think he would be unhappy about what goes on now.

Violence seems to be more and more a part of our culture, and I, for one, find that fact to be regrettable. Our entertainment is thoroughly laced with it; large numbers of people are interested in a movie, for example, only if it is full of blood, explosions, high-speed chases, and daring escapes. Why is this true? What does it say about us?

According to Merriam-Webster, violence is, basically, outrage:

  • exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse as in warfare or effecting illegal entry into a house—(Instantly, we see in our minds films of a bad guy kicking open a door or news clips of the war in Iraq . . . .)
  • an instance of violent treatment or procedure—(. . . police beating a druggie with a nightstick . . . )
  • injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation : OUTRAGE—(. . . a newborn thrown into a trash bin . . .)
  • intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force, as the violence of a storm—(. . . scenes from the tsunami of two years ago and Hurricane Katrina last year . . .)
  • vehement feeling or expression : FERVOR—(. . . people yelling at each other.)

Violence occurs in much literature, as well as in popular media-type entertainment. That is because literature does not just appear, all by itself, out there on the edges somewhere; it reflects life. Therefore, it must be true that the reason we see violence in literature and entertainment is that it happens in life. It is universal.

We are both shocked by it and drawn to it; we study it and obsess over it sometimes. We both fear it and want to avoid it, but we somehow enjoy reading about it and/or seeing it in games and movies. (That in itself is a little shocking, isn’t it?)

In both film and literature, as in life, people usually commit violent acts for reasons, whether understandable or twisted and perverse. When people commit violence, we discuss their motives; if it appears to be without reason, we say it is gratuitous or senseless.

Read this little story by Rudyard Kipling:

"There is an ancient legend which tells us that when a man first achieved a most notable deed he wished to explain to his tribe what he had done. As soon as he began to speak, however, he was smitten with dumbness, he lacked words, and sat down. Then there arose -- according to the story -- a masterless man, one who had taken no part in the action of his fellow, who had no special virtue, but afflicted -- that is the phrase -- with the magic of the necessary words. He saw, he told, he described the merits of the notable deed in such a fashion, we are assured, that the words `became alive and walked up and down in the hearts of his hearers.' Thereupon, the tribe seeing that the words were certainly alive, and fearing lest the man with the words would hand down untrue tales about them to their children, they took and killed him. But later they saw that the magic was in the words, not in the man."

(This story is part of a talk Kipling made; read the whole thing, if you want to, at this link: Literature—A Book of Words.)

Consider the power of words—of the written word—of pictures.

Why did the tribe kill the man? Did they have understandable motives? After they killed him, how and why do you think they changed their minds about him?

Do you think humans are basically like the people in this story?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Worrying about Our Children

I haven’t done this before, and I do not hold with doing it! But … this is one of those stories that floated into my e-mail from my cousin; it is such a good and true (well, true in theme) story that I feel compelled to share it here.

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head. I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher said, "Don't worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments.

My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my mother's warm smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered I was worried." I smiled a warm smile.

The torch has been passed.

(Comment by Judy: It is true we never stop worrying about them. It’s just a good thing we can hold them up to God in prayer and trust him to guide and care for them! That is the only way to stay sane while they are growing up.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Jonathan Edwards Resolves...

Since we are at the beginning of a new year, I am in a resolution mood. I found the 70 resolutions written by Jonathan Edwards in 1722-23. They are so good and noble-spirited that I have decided to adopt some of them for my own. I want to share these with you; I have translated them freely into modern language (with apologies to Jonathan Edwards) so that they will be more understandable to the 2007 soul.

Edwards wrote (in Judy’s modern interpretation):

I know that I can’t do anything without God’s help. So, with humility, I ask him to help me, by his grace, to keep these resolutions, as long as they are in line with his will for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Edwards wrote himself this note: Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.”

1. I resolve that I will do whatever I think will be most likely to glorify God and be for my own good, benefit, and pleasure for the rest of my life, without considering the times, now or in the distant future. I resolve to do whatever I think is my duty and most for the good and benefit of all people. I resolve to do this, no matter what difficulties I encounter—no matter how many or how great.

2. I resolve to continually try to find new ways to accomplish these things.

3. I resolve, if I ever fail or fall short or forget and neglect any of these resolutions, that I will be sincerely sorry for all that I can remember that I did wrong and put things right again, when I come back to my senses.

4. I resolve never to do any kind of thing, either spiritually or physically, other than what contributes to the glory of God; I will neither be nor allow anything that does not glorify him, if I can possibly avoid it.

5. I resolve never to waste one minute of time, but to improve my time the best way I possibly can.

6. I resolve to live my life to the fullest, as long as I live.

7. I resolve never to do anything that I would be afraid to do if I knew I were about to die. (In other words, I would live as if I were in the last few hours of my life, doing only that which is right, good, and loving.)

8. I resolve to act and speak with the understanding that I am just as bad and mean-spirited as the worst person. When I become aware of wrongdoings or mistakes of others, I will take that opportunity to confess my own wrongdoings to God, rather than criticizing others.

9. I resolve to be aware that I will die eventually and to think about the circumstances surrounding death. I will be prepared for death.

10. I resolve that when I feel pain, I will think of the greater pain of people who have willingly suffered and died for their Christian beliefs, and the eternal pain of people in hell, suffering because of their lack of belief.

11. I resolve, when I think of any puzzling religious question, to do what I can immediately towards solving it, if circumstances do not prevent me from it.

12. I resolve to immediately give up anything that I find I delight in because of pride or vanity.

13. I resolve to always be trying to find people who need charity and generosity.

The 70 resolutions can be found, complete and original, at the site of the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, linked here.

Books about the English Language

My friend TS asked for suggestions. He is looking for a good book to buy with his Christmas money, about roots of the English language. I told him I would be back with some suggestions.

After some research and study, I have decided that I will recommend that TS buy the hardback version of the Oxford Companion to the English Language. It was edited by Tom McArthur, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the English language(s).

He could buy it in a paperback concise edition beginning at about 64 cents from Amazon. Or he could buy a brand new one from Amazon in the hardback edition for about $70 or so. If I had some Christmas money earmarked for books, I would buy a shiny new hardback one and be very excited about it! Here is a link to information about the book on Amazon.

Three other books that I am sure would be excellent choices are The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal; A History of the English Language by Albert C. Baugh; and The Origins and Development of the English Language by John Algeo and Thomas Pyles. Too, if TS doesn’t have one, I’d suggest he buy a good unabridged dictionary--a big fat one.

These books are all published by the most highly respected publishers in this field, especially Oxford and Cambridge University Presses.

If somebody gave me enough money, I’d buy all four of them and consider them to be great treasures!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year: Passion

Today, we’re going to have a little vocabulary study. We’re going to take a look at the word passion. (I’m an English teacher, remember.)

Merriam-Webster says passion is an emotion that is deeply stirring—an emotion that compels action. Without it, life is meaningless and dull.

Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, says, “The driving force behind all great art, music, literature, drama, and architecture is passion.” As we go through our lives, he says, “passion is what sustains [us] in reaching our goals. It turns the impossible into the possible.”

People are passionate about any number of things: history, ships, writing, swimming, photography. Some people are passionate about orchids. Orchidelirium is the name the Victorians gave to the action-driving “flower madness” that seems to be almost like gold fever for botanical collectors. Books have been written about it. Wealthy orchid devotees of the Victorian era sent explorers out to find rare flowers--heavily armed, to protect themselves against other zealous seekers. You can find a number of web sites about orchids; the one linked here is a good example of this kind of passion.

Many people wander around aimlessly, passionate about nothing, their lives characterized by dispirited emptiness. Those who have found a passion are fortunate; it gives life meaning. God pre-programmed us to be capable of passionate devotion, so that we would seek him and fall in love with him. God-passion gives life the ultimate in meaning. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Passion, as Warren says, is a matter of the spirit. He says the reason “many of us have trouble infusing our daily lives with passion” is that “we don’t know our purpose.” And he said, “At its root passion is a spiritual issue, not a matter of financial greed or romantic pleasure.” Warren’s web site has help for those who want to go deeper with God.

I spent many years of my life trying to avoid passionate devotion to anything other than my family. For some reason, I couldn’t allow within myself a force that is greater than I am, something that might cause me to fall headlong into it. As a result, I diddled along through life, trying not to see its emptiness. I think I was afraid. My faith story tells how I came to know and love him.

Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, “No one on earth has this passionate love for the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has given it to him. We may admire, respect, and revere Him, but we cannot love Him on our own. The only One who truly loves the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and it is He who has ‘poured out in our hearts’ the very ‘love of God’ (Romans 5:5 ). Whenever the Holy Spirit sees an opportunity to glorify Jesus through you, He will take your entire being and set you ablaze with glowing devotion to Jesus Christ.”

And…to conclude our word study, Paul says in Hebrews 12:29, “our God is a consuming fire.” God is the ultimate passion—love. The more I throw myself into that consuming fire, the more free, rich, and full my life is.