The Shame of the Bleeding Woman (guest post by Helena Knowlton)

Helena Knowlton writes at Confusion to Clarity, and within that website she offers a course and community called Arise. When this course opened last month I signed up, especially because Helena focuses on how trauma affects the body, and I continue to want to learn more about that.

I highly recommend Arise for Christian women survivors of abuse who would like to experience a guided healing journey for your heart, mind, spirit, and especially for your traumatized brain and body.

Besides the actual teaching course, Arise has so much more available. I’ve hardly scratched the surface.

When I listened to a certain lesson inside the course, I immediately asked Helena if I could make a guest blog post out of it, and she graciously agreed. Continue reading “The Shame of the Bleeding Woman (guest post by Helena Knowlton)”

Paul’s Word for the New Year: “Holy Amnesia”

It seems like the last ten years or so, having a word for the New Year has replaced making New Year’s resolutions or goals.

So if the apostle Paul had done this, I’m guessing one of the many years of his Christian life, “holy amnesia” may have been his word (okay, technically “words”).

I’m basing this idea of “holy amnesia” on Philippians 3:13b-14.

“. . . but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wanted to forget what was behind him. (Of course what was in front of him couldn’t be forgotten because it hadn’t been experienced yet.)

So “what was behind”—wouldn’t that be . . . everything he had ever experienced?

Did Paul want to forget his entire life?

Hmmm . . . something seems a little fishy here. Maybe it’s because I lifted a few lines right out of the letter he was writing without looking at the rest of the letter.

But before I look at that, let’s look at some other things Paul didn’t forget, or want others to forget.

He didn’t forget past experiences, good and bad

Acts 22 and 26 recount how Paul told his life story, first to the Jews, and then to King Agrippa. His life experiences included very good and very bad things: he had persecuted Christians, and the Lord Jesus Christ had brought him to salvation. From the worst to the best.

Paul certainly didn’t want to forget that.

He called on other Christians to remember things

He obviously didn’t want them to forget everything in their lives.

1 Corinthians 11:2 — Remember me and the ordinances I taught you.

Galatians 2:10 — Remember the poor.

Ephesians 2 — Remember that you used to be far from God and are no longer.

Colossians 4:18 — Remember me in my bonds.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 — Remember how we served you.

2 Thessalonians 2:5 — Remember I explained these things to you in person.

2 Timothy 2:8 — Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, according to the gospel I taught you.

He didn’t forget those who were not trustworthy

Demas was a partner in the Great Work, as Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24 both show. But at the very end of his life Paul lamented to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:10,

“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

He didn’t forget the betrayal or the pain it caused him.

Only four verses later, here at the end of his life, Paul remembered and made mention of “Alexander the coppersmith, [who] did me great harm.” He warned Timothy, “Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.”

Indeed, if we forget what untrustworthy people have done to us, then we will walk into the same traps again. If we ignore what untrustworthy people have done to others of the people of God (like Paul), then we ourselves can be harmed by them.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

No, that old maxim is not in the Bible. But it represents a truth. And the way it works is by remembering what was done.

So what did Paul forget? What was his “holy amnesia”?

In this chapter of the letter to the Philippians, chapter 3, Paul warned his readers to watch out for those who “mutilate the flesh” (circumcision), thinking it would make them more holy. He was talking there about the Judaizers: the ones who wanted to give Christians a list of rules to keep in “the flesh” (our own ability) to make them more holy.

Sound familiar? Today it’s called legalism.

THEN

Paul said, “If anyone wants to boast in ‘the flesh,’ I can top that.” (That’s my loose paraphrase.)

Then he listed his earthly accomplishments, or status symbols:

~ He was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” top of his class, doing everything right, keeping the law with the best of them.
~ He even came from one of the “best” tribes.
~ He couldn’t be faulted for his adherence to the law. He was even a Pharisee (which didn’t have the negative connotation for most of the Jews then the way it does for us now).
~ His zeal was obvious through his desire to snuff out anything (that is, Christianity) that didn’t adhere to the religion of his fathers as he understood it.

BUT NOW

He said the ones who are the true circumcised people of God are the ones who live in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus.

Those status symbol physical fleshly sources of pride now were utterly worthless to him. All his accomplishments were worthless because the only treasure worth having was knowing Jesus Christ.

Paul had found, to his amazement, that he didn’t receive approval from God by Keeping the List. No, all the approval came through faith in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ did it all!

Here’s something else important to notice.

In verse 12 of chapter 3, Paul began using a metaphor. He began comparing his life to running a marathon. God’s Word Translation renders it this way:

It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.

That “I don’t look back,” there, that’s how they rendered the “forgetting those things that are behind.”

Paul was running a marathon with his life, and he wanted to finish well. What did “finishing well” look like?

He had accomplished great things “in the flesh” and had status among his fellow men. But he completely eschewed that exalted position, which was meaningless in the big picture.

He even accomplished great things for the Kingdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit! This isn’t mentioned here, so I might be extrapolating, but I believe I can say he wasn’t even going to look back on those accomplishments in order to simply rest on his laurels.

No, he was going to keep running toward Jesus. And as I mentioned in my “Obey Your Leaders and Submit to Their Authority” article (which is also a chapter of Untwisting Scriptures #2), he was pointing others to Jesus as he ran. In the same chapter of Philippians, he wrote (again, God’s Word Translation):

Whoever has a mature faith should think this way. And if you think differently, God will show you how to think. However, we should be guided by what we have learned so far.

The “holy amnesia” for us

It’s important to understand what the “this way” is that we’re supposed to think if we have a mature faith.

It’s not that we forget past grief or betrayal. Actually, one of the best ways to fully heal from it is to remember it and process it with the Lord’s presence.

It’s not that we should forget the experiences of our lives. They have played their part in shaping us as to who we are today. Wisdom learns from experience.

We certainly shouldn’t forget the great things the Lord has done for us or the truths He has taught us, or our obligation to the poor and needy.

And . . . Paul didn’t even “forget” his fleshly, earthly, legalistic accomplishments. After all, he was able to list them right there.

His “holy amnesia” was about focus. Where he was turning his eyes as he ran his marathon.

Was he going to look behind him and pat himself on the back for his accomplishments?

No. Doing that—in a race or in life—is one of the surest ways to stumble.

His “holy amnesia” turned him from past accomplishments and pointed him forward, toward the Lord and His righteousness.

I’ve never chosen a word for the year, but maybe if I did, I might also choose “holy amnesia.”

As we mature in our faith, let’s all be focused this way. And may 2022 be a year of the greatest blessing of all: seeing the Lord Jesus more clearly in our lives.

Happy New Year.

*****

P.S. I also wrote briefly about Philippians 3:13 three years ago in “How to Handle Those ‘Forgive and Forget’ Scriptures.” You can read that article here.

False Teaching: How Bad Theology Almost Killed My Faith (guest post by Ann-Marie Ferry)

 Especially since I’ve lately been pondering the deconstruction movement that has found many young people leaving the Christian faith, I was glad to receive this guest post recently. Thank you, Ann-Marie.

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“Her son died a few years back.” The older gentleman across the table interjects, “She just isn’t the same. She’s lost her faith.” Continue reading “False Teaching: How Bad Theology Almost Killed My Faith (guest post by Ann-Marie Ferry)”

When The Psychopathic Megalomaniac Wants to Thwart God’s Plan

When six-months-pregnant Elizabeth (future mother of John the Baptist), blessed her cousin Mary, Mary burst out in praise (Luke 1:46-55):

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Especially notice that part in bold. I imagine Mary thought that the coming of the Messiah would mean the very soon fulfillment of these wonderful prophecies based on the words of the prophets of old. The setting right of all that was wrong about the world.

However . . .

Continue reading “When The Psychopathic Megalomaniac Wants to Thwart God’s Plan”

Here’s How “Choosing to Believe” Differs from Actually Believing

(First, a word about my upcoming book.)

Thanks to the help of some excellent pre-readers and others, Untwisting Scriptures #3 Your Words, Your Emotions, is aiming for a November 1st 2021 publication date. Several pre-readers will be seeing themselves in print there, because they kindly granted me permission to use some of their insightful thoughts to make the book even better.

Next week, hopefully Monday October 11th, I’ll be sending out an email to my blog subscribers to offer a free pdf of the book for any subscribers who agree to read it and then write and post an Amazon review. This offer will be exclusive for blog subscribers, and it will be time sensitive (only 24 hours allowed for response), so be on the lookout for it!

Here are some words from a few of the pre-readers, who granted me permission to quote them: Continue reading “Here’s How “Choosing to Believe” Differs from Actually Believing”

Did the Bereans Think Paul Was a Charlatan?

I’ve heard sermons extolling the Bereans for searching the Scriptures, but it’s a rare preacher indeed who will urge his listeners to themselves search the Scriptures to see if what he is teaching them is true.

When I’ve heard it, it’s often been about fact-checking him on details.

But when Acts 17:11 describes the Bereans searching the Scriptures, it wasn’t about fact-checking Paul. It wasn’t about looking at just one or two proof texts. Continue reading “Did the Bereans Think Paul Was a Charlatan?”

Does He Look Like He Loves You? (Guest Post by “Mara”)

Many Christians of my fundamentalist and evangelical background are wary of the concept of “religious experience,” at least partly because it has been abused in some circles. After all, “experience” without knowledge can open one to error and evil.

But if we as Jesus followers have only an intellectual knowledge of the Lord with no sense of His presence, then we face the danger of having a hollow faith. Our day-to-day Christianity can be devoid of the life He has promised (as in, for example, Ephesians 3:19-20). Continue reading “Does He Look Like He Loves You? (Guest Post by “Mara”)”

Hope for the Weary at Advent (Guest Post by Teri Zalk)

This little manger scene has graced each Davis Christmas for over 30 years.

The following post is written by Teri Zalk. Thank you, Teri!

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For the month of December, I’ve been participating in a special Advent devotional study.  During what is normally a very busy season, this has been a wonderful time to really slow down.

It has been a time to focus on what Advent means and how extraordinary the Christmas story is.

In week two of the study, I came across a verse that I had seen many times: Continue reading “Hope for the Weary at Advent (Guest Post by Teri Zalk)”

Here’s Why “Gratitude Motivation” Isn’t Biblical—and What’s Better

I’m grateful

It’s the season of Advent. “The Coming.”

I’m preparing for “the coming” of all four of our children, with their spouses, together for Christmas for the first time in 6 years. Maybe “the coming” of a new little niece, our second granddaughter, might be at least part of the reason they’re eager to gather.

While I prepare, I’m enjoying wonderful songs about that First Coming, the birth of our Savior. Continue reading “Here’s Why “Gratitude Motivation” Isn’t Biblical—and What’s Better”