Kitchen Duty!!

Taken around the kitchen in Netherlands.

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I like washing dishes. By hand. With lots and lots of hot soapy water. I don’t care if it’s just one plate, or a mountain of dishes with pans of slop.

I also like using the dishwasher, though. The organizational challenge is enjoyable. Sweeping is fun too, as is mopping. Dusting is loads of fun, as well as cobweb hunting. Polishing is fascinating, and toilet scrubbing is exciting.

Okay, I’ll stop there… though I could go on.

I didn’t use to like cleaning, or chores in general actually. I hated it, and did all I could to get out of it, even to the point of waging a three year war over dishes with my mother. That was the old life. I was lazy, sloppy, and lethargic when it came to work. 😛

But the odd thing was… if you gave me a stick and a briar patch to clear, I’d labor with dedication and fervor for hours a day, even for weeks, until I was done. Just don’t call it a chore. Call it a fortress in construction. Hollowing out ‘houses’ in monstrous blackberry patches remained one of my favorite pastimes for the majority of my childhood. Building any kind of fortress, climbing trees, running my feet off, digging holes, lugging logs all over the place, making swings, all were dearly loved pastimes.

But they were all work. Hard, sweaty, grueling labor.

And I liked it.

Why not the others? It’s a mystery of human nature, I guess. It’s more complicated than I’m willing to ferret out. All I know is this: it wasn’t good, and I’ve changed.

I chose to be different, and through God’s Spirit working in me, I became a new person.

I am living proof that it is a choice. You can decide to enjoy practically anything, good or bad. It is a gift that God has given us, the ability to choose our desires.

We can choose to love Him. We can choose to love ourselves. We can choose to love work. We can choose to love chocolate. We can choose to love beans and peas and brussels sprouts and liver and all that delicious stuff.

Is it hard? Oh yes.

But God made us to do hard things. Life is not worth anything without challenge, without difficulty, without pain. Hardness is where we meet the grace of God… where we meet Him.

Honestly though, choosing to enjoy washing dishes once is relatively easy. At least compared to other hard things you could be doing. You don’t meet God much that way.

The real hard thing, though, the bit which makes all these little hard things become one great thing, is to change who you are to become someone who likes things.

Be the person who is content in whatever situation he is in. No matter how filthy, no matter how hard, no matter how ‘undesirable.’

Be the person who is willing to do the job no one else wants to… who is really willing, even eager.

You see, changing who you are is the greatest and hardest thing of all. Choosing to identify yourself in something you aren’t, crafting yourself, molding yourself into an image of something you want to be. That is what great men do.

That is what God does in you.

I challenge you then, mold yourself into the image of Christ by choosing to enjoy glorifying Him in the little hard things.

Right now.

Four Things that can Cripple your Communication Without you Knowing

Amygdala location in each hemisphere of the hu...

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And communication makes or breaks everything you do. Everything.

So this might be a little bit important to you (and to everyone around you), maybe. I don’t know. You’ll have to decide that for yourself. 😉

In case you missed my last blog post, there are four levels of communication that work like a gradient from Devastatingly Crippling to Explosively Empowering. Most people work in the first two levels almost exclusively, only breaking out into the higher forms by accident now and then — unless they have invested loads of time and thought and training into developing the skills necessary to deliberately avoid the toxic airs of the first two and live in the fresh, catalysing airs of the second two.

I want to teach you about those first two, at least right now. Why? Because you need to start somewhere; because the rest is too big for this article (it will be coming soon, though, don’t worry); and because they are the foundation for every improvement you can make in communication.

I can’t even aspire to the herculean attempt it would take to exhaustively elaborate the entire depth and breadth of even this vastly smaller scope, though. I am here merely to show you something – something simple, something small, something you can do right now. The whole art and science of communication will have to wait. 😉

If you haven’t read my last blog post, go read it now, seriously. I am building on what I said in there, and although this post will help you even if you haven’t read the other one, it will make a whole lot more sense. So go read it. One… two… three… Go.

So here I go! …you may need to hold onto your hat.

The first two levels of communication are Pretense and Sincerity (last chance to read the other post!), as you should remember. 😉 The last two are Accuracy and Authenticity. There is one, huge, fundamental difference between these two halves of the communication spectrum, and that difference is what I am going to spend all my time in this post talking about.

The difference is a little thing called bioreaction.

I am guessing you probably have never heard that word before this moment, at least in this context, which is fine ’cause this definition isn’t in the dictionaries yet. I didn’t make it up, the Communication Catalyst guys did. And it really does make a lot of sense.

Bioreaction is basically a biological system that has a single goal in mind: deal with threats fast.

That’s it. And that is really a super valuable system to have, especially if someone leaps out of nowhere at you and slashes at you with a knife. You need to respond fast. And the normal system the brain uses for making decisions is waaaaay to slow for what is needed. So what the brain has is a special spot devoted solely to this function: it is called the amygdala.

What this bit of your brain does is filter outside input for perceived threats, and as soon as it sees one, take command of the brain and choose one of four options for a rapid response. It is lightning fast at this (well probably faster than lightning, but you get the idea).

But here is the thing: it has only four options. Which makes sense… it can’t be spending time filtering through all the millions of possible reactions to pick just the right one. So it has four preprogrammed premises for action that it chooses from.

These premises for reaction to perceived threats are: Fight, Flee, Freeze, and Appease.

Simple, right? Perfectly simple. God is really good at designing these things. So basically what the amygdala does is takes a perceived threat and evaluates it based on these four options to figure out which would best deal with it.

For example: if a big huge guy leaps out of nowhere and slashes at you with a knife.

Appease is out – the guy is already committed to the attack, and no time to hand him a cookie.

Freeze is out – that knife would plow through you like butter.

Fight is out – taking on that giant would probably get you killed worse than before (if that is possible).

So obviously the best recourse is to flee the scene at rates exceeding human probability. It’s your best shot at living.

See how this works? Handy, isn’t it?

But notice how I have been saying perceived threats this whole time? There is a reason for that. See, the amygdala can’t actually know if something is a threat or not until after it has already passed. Which isn’t the right time to respond to it. So it has to guess based on your experience and filters whether or not something is a threat, and then act on that perception of reality.

The problem is when it is wrong. When it thinks something is a threat… and it really isn’t.

This happens all the time in communication. Why? Well because in communication you are opening up a part of yourself to the other person. It is a fundamental and inescapable fact of every relationship you have. That in and of itself can be perceived as a threat to some people (stage fright, anyone?). But if someone does something that happens to look even the slightest like an attack on you as a person, it doesn’t matter if it was intentional or accidental, real or fake, true or false – the amygdala will pick up on it and limit your whole brain to those four options: fight, flee, freeze, or appease.

None of which are going to help in the slightest to resolve the perceived conflict.

Conversations are a work of collaboration and sharing of mutual value, not a fight. And even if someone is attacking you, the four bioreactive responses aren’t going to make it better – they will almost inevitably make it worse!

Not good.

Those first two levels of communication, Pretense and Sincerity, are built on bioreactive responses. That is why they are so damaging to your effectiveness and to your friendships… and to your friends.

Pretense is where there is a direct conflict between what you think and what you are saying and doing. Generally this is characterized by things like lying, evading, and withholding information. These actions come directly from the motivations of fighting, fleeing, freezing, and appeasing. Most people who do these things aren’t being malicious at all (they might not even be conscious of it at all): they are merely defending themselves. Mistakenly, yes, but mistakes are common and easily forgivable.

So if someone is behaving with these towards you, first forgive them, and then choose to not respond in kind with a bioreactive response of your own!

Sincerity is pretty much the most common place for people to reside in. People think it is a good place. They justify it in tons of ways (often defensively, with bioreactions, haha). And honestly, I don’t blame them. Getting sincerity from someone is a huge blessing (it’s loads better than pretense), and expecting more borders on meanness (accuracy and authenticity are a ton of work to develop).

But it still isn’t the best, and it still cripples your success. Teams can function on sincerity, yes, and so can friendships. But they are walking on ice. Their boat is leaking. They are up a stream without a paddle. Okay I’ll stop. 😛 😀

Sincerity is an honest report accompanied by the conviction that what you believe to be true is true. Basically it is untested opinion pretending to be reality.

Just like the amygdala, isn’t it? It responds to perceptions as if they were real, and then acts on them without testing to see if it is right. Good for some situations – bad for communication. The idea of someone who is sincere is to be honest and defend their honest position.

The problem is that value isn’t being generated, and people get hurt and opportunities get lost forever. Why? Because opinions isolated from the experience and learning of others is crippled in its search for truth. You don’t want to be wrong, and so you don’t learn. And in the process of bioreactively defending your position, you trigger other people’s amygdalas, and you create an atmosphere of defensive animosity rather than one of collaborative friendship.

Not. Good.

So what do you do? Well the first step is to start noticing when your amygdala fires up, and then take your brain back over from it, so you can choose to learn rather than spit out a bioreaction. This takes a lot of practice, but it is completely worth it.

Basically you just need to ask a question that the amygdala can’t answer. Train yourself to notice the signals that a bioreactive decision is being made (for example: your jaw might clench, your eyes look at a certain corner of your eye, certain phrases go through your head, or you start to use one of the bioreactive responses), and then introduce a consideration beyond the amygdala’s scope.

Such as purpose. Or value. Ask yourself what your fundamental purpose is that you are there for, and then ask what would be the most valuable thing you can do in this situation towards that end. Ask yourself what purpose the other person is there for, and then look for a way to provide value to both his and your purposes.

That’s deep. That’s tough. That is transforming. It will explode your potential and the potential of everyone around you. Try it!

And yes, again, I wasn’t able to really go as deep as I would have liked to, but again, you get to ask questions. 😉 So have at it. 🙂

P.S. This post was originally posted (with some slight differences) on the Holy Worlds Christian Fantasy Forum. I honestly believe that community is one of the best in the world. So check it out. :)

How do you know that’s what that means?

Volume Two of Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of...

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As said by Mark Twain – “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

Very true. But how ought we to be careful? Quite simple: don’t believe everything you read. Read multiple health books instead of just one, for example. Experiment, research, study. Agreeing with the first thing you hear is not trust – it is gullibility.

Many would concede this point, especially about health. I mean, there are so many different views! How can you possibly be sure you stumbled on the right one on the first try? Just because something is critically acclaimed doesn’t mean it is right… the critics aclaim many things. But…

What about dictionaries?

Think about it. How do you know that is what that word really means?

People often expect dictionaries to be flawless. But they aren’t, of course. And as I continually affirm… the definitions of the words we use are paramount. Our success and failure as a culture depends on lexicology on many levels. But again, dictionaries are not infallible.

A very famous example illustrating the fallibility of dictionaries and lexicographers alike refers to a time when a country woman accosted Dr. Johnson and asked him why he defined ‘pastern’ as the knee of a horse, which is actually called the fetlock (notice that this country lady had evidently been actually reading the dictionary instead of just looking up words she didn’t know, which we rarely do now, unfortunately). He replied that he hadn’t known what the definition was for sure, and so had guessed. This approach was pretty common, actually, until Webster came along and revolutionized lexicography, overturning not only Johnson’s dictionary, but also his methods of lexicology.

See, people tend to look to dictionaries as the end-all of knowledge and debate. Dictionaries define words, so how can they be wrong?

But they don’t. Did you get that? Let me say that again:

Dictionaries don’t define words.

This is imperative to understand. A lexicographer has a tremendous responsibility, but it is not to define words. He does not create definitions out of thin air – he merely transmits and records definitions that already exist.

A lexicographer’s job is to study language, and from that study, discover what the proper definitions for words are, and then record them. But what does he study? How does he discern what constitutes a proper definition? And what indicators and areas of research does he use to distill his knowledge from?

Depends on the lexicographer, honestly. They don’t all agree on what considerations should be considered, and they definitely don’t agree on how much weight each consideration should hold in relation to the others. Just read Webster’s 1828 dictionary, and you will see the conflict written into almost every definition, etymology, and comment. It is quite humorous, actually, the way he continually pokes jabs at other lexicographers (particularly Johnson). He sometimes spends whole paragraphs demonstrating solidly his own view of a particular definition or history. Quite educational and entertaining, I assure you. 😉

Now, I am not a lexicographer. I don’t write dictionaries. Nor am I qualified to do so by any standard (unless you mean a dictionary of a language in my world, of course, hehe). A true lexicographer really needs to know at least a dozen languages beyond fluency, and be a cultural expert like none other. I am nowhere near attaining either of those positions, so my dictionary will have to wait.

But I am a lexicologist, as much as I can be. I study communication with a focus on proper meanings and uses in language. Lexicologists study similar things as lexicographers, but they use their knowledge differently. Rather than seeking to reform language by recording it, they do so by using it.

They weigh their words and seek to create an example of proper communication for other people to be inspired by and emulate.

They examine their assumptions and study the art and science of conveying meaning in the best way possible for their ends.

And so, like lexicographers, they need to have a system by which they discern what words ought to mean.

And so…

Here is mine. * grins *

Yeah, that was just the intro. Hehe. I hope you’ll keep reading, though, ’cause I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for a long time now. It is really awesome.

I got excited when I first figured it out. I’m still working on it, of course, but that just means you get to help me out with it. 😉

There are five categories of considerations that I have resolved out of the quagmire of the world of chaos that is language, and they really bring a lot of sense into the whole picture. At least they do for me. They are:

Propriety

Contemporary Usage

Traditional Usage

Literary Usage

Etymology

Each one of these could have volumes written about them, of course, but we don’t need that much to be able to improve our discernment quite a lot. So here is an overview of how to use these.

I wrote those in a specific order for a reason. See, that is precisely the priority order in which you should rank these categories. Contemporary usage takes precedence over traditional usage, literary usage takes precedence over etymology, etc. If there is a conflict, always let the primary definition reflect the higher category of consideration.

The ones lower down can inform use and definition, but they are a very shaky foundation. So a lot of context is needed to help refine and support your communication when using definitions founded on them.

Now to examine each one in a bit more detail, starting first with Propriety.

Most people ignore this consideration entirely. But it is, in fact, quite possible to have a very wrong definition for a word even if it reflects perfectly contemporary, traditional, literary usage, and etc. Especially as Christians, we should pay very close attention to propriety in meanings. I’m not talking about choosing one word over another based on appropriateness, please note. I am talking about crafting the network of available meanings in your language.

See, lexicologists get to say what words should mean. Not just what they do mean, but what they are supposed to mean. That is part of their job: to help guide language in a productive and beneficial path.

Unfortunately, there have been all too many sophists holding the lexicological reigns in recent generations, and not nearly enough solid Christians dedicated to truth. Hencely, our culture of language has deteriorated along a very precise pattern of ungodly obfuscation. Meaning itself has lost its meaning, and the most important words in our language have become eroded to such a degree that we are crippled in our efforts to discuss them, much less live or teach them. Words like love, truth, belief, God, sin, crime, submission, trust, faith, hope, good, evil, life, honor, and equality have been completely twisted, diluted, viciated, and sterilized from the Truth.

We cannot teach righteousness, because there are no words to use to express the fundamentals of righteousness. And thus we have confusion in our pulpits, in our families, in our homes, in our children, in our churches, in our converts, and in our hearts. What else would you expect?

But propriety isn’t the first place we look when it comes to discerning the proper definition of a word. In actuality, it is the last thing I look at, once I have already examined the rest of the stack. And then I use it to mold and craft the definition already arrived at.

The first place I look is Contemporary Use. There are three parts to this: precise (or official, or technical), common, and niche use. Precise use is what is officially proclaimed as the current, technically accurate definition, generally in grammar books and dictionaries. Common use is the way people tend to use it in normal conversation. Niche use is the way people use it when they are stretching the definition – when because of the context, someone uses a word far outside of its precise meaning.

Then I look at Traditional Use. Again, at the precise, common, and niche uses, but this time I look at them in how they have changed over the years from the birth of the word. I look at what these changes reflect, in particular.

After that, I get to look at Literary Use. In other words, I look at how individual books have used the word uniquely. See, in a book, a person can use a word in a completely unique way, in the context of his subject. This is especially true of fiction, particularly fantasy and sci-fi. They can turn the language on their head in those genres, and completely get away with it. Which is fine. That’s the way it is supposed to work. The difference between literary use and niche use is that niche use is looking at the spread out usage across many different people, while literary use looks at each individual book in a unique way.

And then down at the tail end I take a glance at etymology: the history of the creation of the word, basically. Kinda nice and handy, but not really something to base much off of.

This also happens to be the same basic pattern that I use for lexicological dissections of passages of Scripture. But since this is getting really long as it is, I’ll let you all speculate on that in the comments. 😉

But seriously – comment and ask questions. I would love to expound more… so ask away. 😀

A Mountainous Vision

Carrauntoohil. A clear view of Ireland's highe...

Carrantuohill (Image via Wikipedia)

Last week I talked about a concept that I have found life-changing… a life principle that will re-energize your walk with God no matter what you are walking through – exciting or boring.

This week I plan to expand on that principle a bit, or rather add upon it. I want to share with you something that I learned just this last Saturday on the highest mountain of Ireland: Carrantuohill. During my gruelling hike (or climb, whatever you want to call it) to the top of that misty peak (very misty… couldn’t see a thing) I was praying, musing, and thinking.

Mountains are great places to do that.

You are all alone… despite all the other hikers going up with you. The weight and grandeur of nature is so vast that us humans become small. And so in the ultimate colossal world the few humans struggling next to me seem miles apart from my soul… which expanded to sing and rejoice with the hills, giving glory to the Creator God who made us all.

You are brought to the end of yourself. The exertion progressively strips and drains away every kind of energy you have. The constant variety makes each step into a unique challenge, forcing you to continually shift gears and go on with a new method of walking or climbing. You can’t relax into a consistent, easy stride, ever. In the end, your body is exhausted on every level, in every part, and you are going on by hope. And prayer.

And I am able to meet God in a special way. It seemed like each step was a new journey with new things to learn. It was also a powerful dramatization for principles and lessons already learned, grounding them deeper within me.

The principle I want to share with you was both of those: I already knew it, but I learned it again as if it was new, in a new way, with new insights.

If you recall my previous post, the principle I shared with you there was that in every point of your life, you can always ask this question and find a guiding rule for glorifying God in that moment — “Am I facing a challenge that I can do in God’s strength for His glory, or am I being blessed with a respite of happiness for which I can thank and praise Him?” In other words… all of life is made up of bumps, big and small.

This next principle builds on that.

All valleys, peaks, and bumps in life are leading up a mountain.

See, on Carrantuohill, I had to watch my footing constantly. I had to plan how to move my body forward, guiding each joint and muscle to work together in efficient harmony. I had to focus on each bump and decide how to best navigate it for the best results.

But if I had only focused on that I would have been in deep trouble. I would have wandered away from the group, gotten lost, become stranded on the side of the mountain, unable to return or go on. Even if I didn’t get lost, my path would have meandered here and there, back and forth, instead of on the most efficient path up the mountain. I had to continually look up, and keep the next goal in sight.

Look up, see the next ridge; look down, see the next step.

And so our lives go.

Do you have a master vision and passion for your life? Do you see the goals and journeys you must take to fulfill that vision? Can you look from those objectives to your day to day life and say, “This is the next step I must take to take me there.”

Without a direction, all the steps you take are merely wanderings. And any success you come across along the way will be mere happenstance… if you even recognize it when it happens.

You can’t write your life story by the seat of your pants… there is no editing in life. You only get one draft.

So plan it.

And take the next step with the light of a vision in your eye.

Avast There and Listen Up! I Got Some’at To Say!

think outside the box

Image by smemon87 via Flickr

“God is wrong.”

“God Never Forgets.”

“What are the differences between being anxious to please God, and being anxious to please a man?”

“God never has an opinion about anything.”

“Is miserable. * cheerily *”

“Is cannibalism wrong?”

“Is polygamy wrong?”

Those are just a few of the controversial statuses that I have propagated over my networks recently, sparking an astonishing variety of responses. And that doesn’t count all the controversial posts I have written on here over the course of my blog’s lifetime, and all the fascinating responses those have incurred as well.

Almost every time I post one, though, at least one person voices some confusion over why I write them.

Good question. A very good question.

And so I am doing it again in order to answer! Isn’t that dandy? 😀

First off, I must admit, it is a lot of fun to rile people up, make them guess, and tease them. ‘Tis true, and I humbly acknowledge the fact.

But that isn’t really the whole reason why I do it. It is actually only a small part of it. The main reason is much bigger.

See, there are two kinds of motives that I use alternately, depending on the medium, space, and time available. The first is to stir up people to help them think about something in a way they hadn’t before. I’ll get to why I believe that is important in a bit. The second is to present my own belief on a subject in order to give people more options in their beliefs and aid their understanding of that subject.

If I only have room for a quick question or a startling statement (like a status), I will go for the first one. I will rarely give my own position on these sorts of conversations, at least not right up front, but will instead focus on guiding the conversations of the people who comment.

That is because my goal is not to teach a piece of knowledge, but to teach a skill. A skill.

That skill is a way of thinking. I am trying to exercise a system of learning that people rarely use anymore, as a way to help my friends. Right, I am not just being mean, I am actually giving you something.

And it isn’t just thinking outside the box. This is a special type of thinking outside the box.

See, I want to help you analyze your lexicological assumptions, even at the very heart of your worldview. A lot of people are willing to think outside the box when it comes to things like design, or writing style, and artistic things like that, or even with things like engineering problems. But very few people are willing to go out on a limb and consider alternative explanations for facts (or even new facts that might conflict with the explanations they hold to be true) when they are directly relevant to their fundamental worldview.

People might even consider looking at alternative definitions if they are about peripheral things, but never about foundational things.

Why?

Because it is scary! A lexicological shift that deep can have massive repercussions throughout your life. You could even become a completely different person. I know. It’s happened several times to me. The power of changing lexicological assumptions at the foundational level is real, very real. But that also means it is important, extremely important, that you get those lexicological assumptions correct.

What if they are wrong, and changing them to something that is more right would change your life drastically… for the better?

What if you are missing out on loads of God’s blessings because you were too scared to even consider the possibility that they might be out there for you?

Right. The consequences of not looking are more scary than looking!

And so I help people consider alternative ways of looking at their own beliefs. I force them out of their little bubbles of complacency. I give them little nudges, giving them little glimpses of other ways of looking at things. And then they get the choice to examine their assumptions and possibly choose one that is better than the one they had before.

Even if I don’t give them what I think is the right answer, and even if they don’t change their minds about anything, I can still succeed. Because my goal is to get them to think about it in a certain way. If I succeed in that, I am happy.

But what about when I actually do make the effort to put across my own perspective on a subject? Like this blog post? Why am I writing it?

It isn’t to make you agree with me.

Honest. I’m not here to make everyone in the world agree with me. Or all the people who read my stuff. Or even to make all my friends agree with me. In fact, I don’t want that. Because that would mean I wouldn’t learn anything! I’m not right about everything. In fact, I am probably wrong about almost everything. And what I know is piddling compared to what is out there. People disagreeing with me is not a threat, and I don’t see it that way.

The goal is to provide a different perspective on a subject that you may not have seen or considered before.

My brain-tweaking statuses are there to help you learn to look at different perspectives, and my blog posts are there to provide you with a different perspective to look at. You really don’t understand a subject until you have seen multiple explanations for the relevant facts. Plain and simple.

That is also why I don’t debate, in either the conversations from my statuses, or in the comments on my blog posts. Debating removes learning, and learning is my goal: not convincing.

Would I like it if people changed their minds because of what I write? And if because of it they draw closer to God and are able to serve Him better? Yes! But that can only happen after these other two goals are met, and I can only achieve it by aiming at these two goals.

So there you are. That is why I write these weird things. And also why I avoid debating them. I’m not hear to preach. I’m here to reveal.

Who is More Spiritual?

On the Rebelution forums I recently replied to a thread asking about spirituality and what it means. The starter of the thread pointed out that people often use the word ‘spiritual’ in a derogatory way (either in the sense of “I am more spiritual than you” or “he is so spiritual”), and was wanting to discover its proper use. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and posted the following short word study on the subject. * grins *

Great conversation, and great questions. I was very pleased to see the depth of thought expressed here. Defining your terms on these kinds of things can make a huge impact in your life.

Pardon me as I rearrange and edit your questions a bit to better fit with the flow of my thoughts on this. Smile

What do you understand as being spiritual, and what do you think it SHOULD be?

Whenever I want to define a word, I always do research beforehand, and I always go to Webster’s 1828 dictionary in my research. I firmly believe that his is the best English dictionary ever created, especially because he based it off of the Bible, and so is actually one of the most powerful study helps you can have for studying the Bible.

Anyways, to paraphrase what he says about spirituality that is germane to our discussion here, to be spiritual is to be holy, and to follow after spiritual things. Which makes perfect sense. (You can look up the full definition here.)

If you really think about it, there actually only two definitions of spirituality that make sense: 1) to walk in the Spirit, or 2) to look like you are walking in the Spirit. This differentiation is vital to our discussion.

Are there any Bible verses/passages we can use to address this issue? Do they help tell us why this issue matters?

There are quite a few, as it turns out. Just do a search for ‘spiritual’ in the Bible (check it out here) and you will find a slew of passages talking about this concept. And in fact I could only find one that might have had a bad connotation with the word. All New Testament mentions contrast spirituality with evil, darkness, carnality, the unsaved, and sin.

But here are some highlights:

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Obviously, from the above passages, some people are more spiritual than others, and that is a good thing. We ought to all strive to become more spiritual: that is our goal. And some have gone farther along that road than others.

What does being biblically spiritual look like, in private and public?

In both cases, being spiritual is being Spirit-led. And what is being Spirit-led? It is being Christ-like. Quite simple, really.

John 15:26-27 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Romans 8:1-6 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

What are some common misconceptions about spirituality? What kinds of standards do these misconceptions flow from?

Those who maintain a Pharisaical attitude towards others, seeking their own righteousness, not the righteousness of God, behaving in a way that is contrary to the true law of God in order to make themselves look more righteous than others, will often call themselves spiritual, and others will do the same in a derogatory way. But they are the farthest people from true spirituality, for the are not following the Spirit of God, but rather their own fleshly desires.

We only perceive it as spirituality because they, like the devil, make themselves look like angels of light in order to deceive others.

2 Corinthians 10:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

What are some things that people do that make others consider them to be spiritual, or more spiritual than others?

Legalism is actually the correct term for this attitude, but unfortunately people misuse it so much, I hesitate to promote using for its right use. I wrote an article on it here, if you want to find out, in depth, what I believe on the issue:

https://siremethmimetes.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/legalism/

What steps can we take to work towards the right kind of spirituality, and avoid the wrong kind?

Meditate on God’s Word with the motive of becoming more like Him. Pray to God with the motive of learning to love Him more. Consider things in light of the eternity of God. Learn to see yourself in your proper position, from the eyes of God. Study to see God for what He is, truly. Then you will have the true humility that starts you on the path to true righteousness and a spirit-led life.

Honor vs. Respect

Greetings,

I recently wrote a post on the Rebelution forum in reply to a question about respecting and honoring our parents. I thought you all would like to read it as well.

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Respecting and honoring your parents is inextricably connected with obeying them. To refuse to obey is to refuse to honor and respect them as God commanded. This is because they are our God-given authorities, and to reject that authority is to dishonor them. This only changes when they are no longer our authorities (i.e. after marriage), and thus honoring and respecting them no longer requires obedience.
But for now, obedience is crucial. And rebellion is to be rejected with all diligence. I talk about rebellion further in a blog post I did on my blog a while back, check it out if you want my biblical case on the issue.

I just wanted to make that point, because so many people think they can just “respectfully decline” to obey their parents when they disagree with them. You can’t. It is an oxymoron.

What are some areas that you struggle to respect your parents in?

I used to struggle to respect my parents in everything, in anything. I was horribly, wickedly rebellious, and took every opportunity to live it out. When I became saved, my life radically changed, and I devoted myself to respecting and honoring and obeying the authorities in my life, particularly my parents. It was the first stronghold in my life that I conquered for Christ, and I am ever thankful that I did.

God has given me victory in this area, almost completely. I still have qualms where I see their mistakes and humanness and want them to do better, but I turn it over to God and pray for them. But primarily, I focus on the huge, incredible, vast majority of things that they have done for me, and which God has blessed me with in them. Their few weaknesses are nothing compared to the evil that still lurks in my life.

How are you striving to not only respect your parents, but go a step farther and honor them?

There is an important difference between respect and honor.

You can and should respect all men: because it simply means to give due diligence to them. You give them the regard due them as a human being to measure their worth, and then give them that level of value. You examine their wisdom, to see how much credence you should attach to their counsel. You examine their strength, to see how much trust you can impose upon them. You examine their love, to see how much you can open yourself up to them.

(Respect can also mean to give credence to someone, which is synonymous with honor. That definition is used in the Bible several times, but this is not the primary definition, and not the one that is contrasted with honor, because it is identical with it.)

Honor means to reverence, to submit yourself to, to treat with deference and dignity. It means to show respect, and to give value to the other person regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

God commands us to honor our parents, because they are our parents. That is all the credentials they need to merit our honor. To judge them worthy of less than honor is to put yourself above them and God, which is rebellion, and hateful to God.

My pastor once said that you can only honor your parents to the depth that you honor God! How are you going to draw closer to God so that you can honor your parents on a whole new level?

This is absolutely true. You cannot give something you do not have: and the only source of true love is God. And since you get love from God to give to others by loving God, and since honor is a form of love (i.e., charity in 1 Cor. 13), we cannot show true honor unless we honor and love God.

And we definitely cannot honor and respect and obey our parents when it is hard for us to do so without His divine strength and help.

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others?] do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

If we are to love those who hate us and who are our enemies, how much more should we love our parents, who give themselves for us daily? What excuse do we have?

None.