After more than two months of prayer, council, and “counting the cost” over on the FaithLife forum, the DivineCouncil.org website and forum is up and running!
We hope DC will be the first, and a role model sister-site, around the territory mapped out by Michael Heiser in his recent book, the Unseen Realm.
Facebook is fun, but if you’re tired of conversations scrolling off the screen (and other FB pitfalls) the forum part of the site is built on a wonderful platform that enables the best means of discussions, fellowship, resource sharing, and live chat, available, today.
We love the new forum, and yet DC is a full-blown website, blog, etc. It’s a multi-author website (with three contributing writers, so far). If there are any believing writers, artists, photographers, small group leaders, etc. looking for a place to share, DivineCouncil.org could serve as an outlet for you.
We pray it may fill a need for the Kingdom, empower small groups, and be a worthy site for the Church.
Over 50 people have already signed on to the forum in the first week!
A few months ago, there was a 60-day preview of Unseen Realm on LOGOS and Michael Heiser asked some of his more veteran readers to help shepherd newcomers to the material on the FaithLife Forum.
Growing out of those discussions has been what I hope to be the first sister website and forum for writers, artists, and those looking to interact with others on the material: DivineCouncil.org.
What is it?
It’s a full website & forum with three writers contributing to the front page blog. I hope the site may also serve as an outlet for others. So, if there are any believing writers, artists, photographers etc. Looking to contribute, this might be a good fit for you.
The forum part of the site is structured around the Unseen Realm in terms of the overarching missions of Jesus.
There’s a special resource manager setup to disseminate materials to small groups and make it easier to find things to bring to your church. Each resource can be reviewed, and have discussions formed around them, so people know how they can be used, the ideal audience, attributions, etc.
There’s also a live chat area, so you might be able to catch fellow listeners online for a brief chat while you’re on the forum.
Better than Facebook!
Facebook is fun, but if you’re tired of conversations scrolling off the screen (and other FB pitfalls) the private forum environment is more conducive to organized and focused discussions that can be searched later by yourself and others.
So, if you’re looking for a more private and trusted environment for discussions around this material you have another option available in which to do that.
Over 50 people have signed-up to the forum in the first week, and the platform will scale up to as large as it needs to be.
Nathan, Terence, and Zechariah hope DivineCoucil.org will fill a need for the Kingdom, empower small groups, and be a worthy site for the Church.
Over 50 people have already signed on to the forum in the first week!
The debate, before nearly 8000 people, took place on June 27, 1993 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois and aired live on radio in the greater Chicago area.
Transcription of William Lane Craig
“Now, what about the question of evolution? Let me submit to you that is a complete red herring. The theory of evolution is irrelevant to the truth of the Christian faith. Genesis 1 permits all manner of different interpretations and Christians are not necessarily committed to special creationism. Howard Van Till of Calvin College, a Christian school, asks, “Is the concept of special creation required of all persons who trust in the creator God of Scripture?”
An Unnecessary Component of Christian Belief
“Most Christians in my acquaintance, who are engaged in either scientific or biblical scholarship, have concluded that the special creationist picture of the world’s formation is not a necessary component of Christian belief.”
“And, I want to emphasize, this is not a retreat caused by modern science. St. Augustine, in the 300s in his commentary on Genesis, argued that the days needn’t be taken literally nor need the creation be a few thousand years ago. He didn’t even envisage special acts of creation. He said the world could have been made by God with certain potencies that unfolded in the progress of time. This interpretation was enunciated 1500 years prior to Darwin and, therefore, this is a position consistent with being a Christian.”
“Any doubts that I might have about the theory of evolution really are not biblical, but scientific. Namely, what the scenario envisages is just so fantastically improbable. In their book, “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle”, Barrow and Tipler lay out 10 steps necessary to the course of human evolution, each of which is so improbable that before it would occur the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would’ve burned up the earth.”
“Now, it seems to me, that if evolution did occur, then it would’ve had to have been a miracle. In other words, evolution is literally evidence for the existence of God.”
The Only Game in Town
“In fact, the Christian has an advantage over the atheist, here. We can be open to what the evidence shows us. But, as Alvin Plantinga points out, for the atheist, evolution is the only game in town. So, he’s stuck with it no matter how fantastic the odds, no matter how poor the evidence. He’s got no choice. but the Christian can be open to follow the evidence where it leads and, therefore, I think, can be more objective.”
20 Years Later
While answering a student’s question at the Veritas Forum, Craig makes a layman’s comparison between the theory of common ancestry and theories of evolution.
The Metaphysically Modest Role of Science
After deciding on the title, “The Miracle of Evolution”, for this article, I found another of the same title, by Stephen M. Barr. As a theoretical physicist at the Bartol Research Institute of the University of Delaware, Stephen writes …
The proper ”and ultimately most effective” response is (as I have written before) to distinguish sharply the actual hypotheses of legitimate science from the philosophical errors often mistakenly thought to follow from them. We must draw as clear a line as possible between science and philosophy, not to elevate science above philosophy, but to restore science to its proper “metaphysically modest” role, to use the fine phrase Cardinal Schönborn employed in First Things last month, replying to criticisms I had made of his earlier writing on evolution.
This metaphysical modesty means not allowing philosophical systems to masquerade as science.
My favorite book of 2014 was The Supernatural Worldview: Examining Paranormal, Psi, and the Apocalyptic, by Cris Putnam.
The reason the book is important is summed up by Chuck Missler in his foreword:
How will you deal with empirical validations of extrasensory perceptions? Of near-death experiences? Non-biblical spirits? Evidence that the mind goes far beyond the organ we know as the brain?1
… the current trends toward a “Supernatural Worldview” will prove to be a critical challenge to those who take their personal destiny seriously, and we can certainly anticipate that our adversaries will exploit these challenges to advance their own agendas.1
Cris Putnam And Derek Gilbert On “The Supernatural Worldview”, Parts 1 & 2
Cris Putnam And Gary Stearman On “The Supernatural Worldview”
Table of Contents
— Foreword by Chuck Missler
1. Paranormal Witness to Gospel Witness
2. The Supernatural Worldview of REALITY
3. The Paranormal Paradigm Shift
4. The Ethos of Demythologization and the Excluded Middle
5. Near-Death-Experience Science Drives the Paradigm Shift
6. Telepathy, Dreams, and Remote Viewing
7. Precognition, Theology, and Watchman’s Warning
8. Apparitions, Hauntings, and Poltergeists
9. Mediums, Ghosts, Familiar Spirits, and the Supernatural Worldview
10. Satan, Demons, and the Ghost Hypothesis
11. Spiritual Warfare, Juvenile Prophets of Baal, and the Zombie Apocalypse
12. The Supernatural Worldview of the Bible
SkyWatchTV 3/7/17: Tribute to Cris Putnam
I was shocked to learn that Cris died, last week. Here’s a tribute to a tenacious researcher, talented author, believer, and husband, by the folks at SkyWatch:
Chuck Missler, Foreword to The Supernatural Worldview: Examining Paranormal, Psi, and the Apocalyptic, Defense Publishing. ↩
It’s a shame to see people, who believe (or might believe) in the supernatural, engage in pointless arguments. Even more pointless is talking about it, at all, with those whose beliefs are confined to the limits of the five senses.
For the skeptic, new inventions must bring the invisible within range of the five senses. Only then are they “free to believe” in anything invisible. Prior to the microscope, the skeptic would have reported you to the looney bin for your “outrageous” belief in the microscopic. After the microscope, the skeptic thinks it was your sanity that was restored by the invention, not theirs!
Separating Skeptics from Cynics
This is the sort of “progress” the skeptic is limited to unless they take a “leap of faith”. Fortunately, for the skeptic, that leap is possible. If presented with sufficient evidence, skeptics can be jarred into a reluctant admission that invisible things exist. The cynic, on the other hand, will remain unfazed by any evidence put in front of them.
A miracle is a natural event with a supernatural cause.1
In other words, miracles look, sound, feel, smell, taste … normal. Their appearance is natural, their cause is invisible. So, where does that leave us with separating skeptics and cynics?
It leaves us where C.S. Lewis arrived a long time ago:
C.S. Lewis on Cynics
… the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. And our senses are not infallible. If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.2
The skeptics “philosophy” is, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. The cynic’s “settled philosophy” is the supernatural does not exist, regardless of what is seen.
Skeptics are worth your time; cynics are not.
Prisoners of Time
Both skeptics, and cynics, are limited by the detection devices of their day. To them, everything discovered is obvious, and that which is yet to be discovered, is fantasy. Bring evidence in front of their senses and you’re being “reasonable”. Otherwise, the matter is closed to all but the “unreasonable”.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.3
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The price of such “reasonableness” is imprisonment within the limits of their era. They are, for the same reasons, prisoners of science.
Prisoners of Science
Much of what’s left for mankind to discover is beyond the range of the five senses. Without access to an electron microscope, for example, you won’t be able to “see” much of anything in such areas of discovery. So, what do you do?
You’ll need a mediator between the known and the newly discovered; between what’s true or false, and the newly discovered to be true or false. What do you call someone who functions as a mediator between visible and invisible things?
They’re called priests. But the skeptic will use a different word for the same role: scientist.
Those who won’t contemplate the supernatural need no priest to interpret scripture. They do, however, need a mediator between themselves and nature.
As the frontiers of human knowledge push beyond the ability of the five senses to perceive, skeptics and cynics need their “priests” to be told what’s real, and what’s not real, more than ever.
The Secular Priesthood
And so, scientists have been promoted into a secular priesthood. They are the “reasonable”, and therefore trusted, mediators between what exists and what doesn’t; between what is true and false; and what is, therefore, deemed reasonable and unreasonable.
Who cares what scientists do as long as the remote control (invisible infrared beam) changes the channel of the TV?!
If that were as far as it went, there’d be reason only to celebrate. When mankind is working hard, and using the fruits of their labor to serve mankind, then everything is just dandy!
Unfortunately, Reality is not as simple, nor as benevolent, as all that.
And their ‘church’
Scientists, like priests, are not in charge. They serve their parishes, and report to their bishops, cardinals, and pope. The scientists know them as customers, labs, foundation administrators and benefactors. Can we depend on the good-spirited benevolence of this organization?
Unfortunately, we can barely trust the formal clergy, who’ve taken public vows to be Holy and good, pledging loyalty to only their Creator.
Whether we like it or not, scientists are becoming more widely-accepted as mediators between the seen and unseen realms, than priests. And though science has no purview on philosophical or theological matters, scientists and priests are two kinds of priesthoods, pitted against one another.
Priests Travel Faster
The frontiers of human discovery have pushed out of pandora’s visible box and into invisible realms. Because of this, scientists may feel like they’ve finally arrived at the big game.
But, wherever a scientist may go, his arrival will always be preceded by either a priest or a poet. These travel faster than light; at the speed of thought. They do that by combining story with imagination. And while scientists may work on practical discoveries beyond the visible (finally!), priests and poets have been contemplating “the beyond” since the dawn of humanity.
Conflict? What Conflict?
Personally, I see no conflict, whatsoever, between science and faith. Science explores and quantifies the world as the Creator has turned it over for exploration. I thank God for every discovery and invention! So far, every source I’ve investigated, claiming a conflict between science and faith, has been one side, or the other, arguing past one another. Those who’ve thought through the roles of science and faith are left with nothing but the progress of each to celebrate!
Headline News of Devils, Demons, Witches, Robots, ETs, Exorcists, AI & Terror Threats
… And that’s just in one day! Here’s a snapshot of the drudge report headlines on the night of March 2, 2017, ~8 pm.
7 Questions for Mommy & Daddy
I have an 8-year-old son who reads well, now. I know the following questions could easily be put to a parent whose child is looking over their shoulder and reading the news headlines, above:
What’s an exorcist?
Do witches really cast spells?
Is the devil real?
What’s the difference between Satan and the Devil?
Why did they murder someone for a demon?
Do people come from God or are they grown in a lab?
Are there really ETs or was that just a movie?
What are the answers to those questions, mommy and daddy?
If you’re a skeptic or cynic about the supernatural, that’s fine. Coming from your child, then, what’s your answer to this question:
If the supernatural does not exist, why is it all over the news?
Hollywood, Game Developers, or You?
A worldview without a handle on Realities beyond the limits of the five senses, is so incomplete it leaves one unable to even discuss the news. I would prefer to lead such conversations with my children, not merely keep up, or react to the news.
When introducing a book called “The Unseen Realm”, and its more easily read version “Supernatural”, to friends, I say that, if we (parents) don’t teach our children about the supernatural then 20-something game programmers, and Hollywood screenwriters, will gladly fill in the gaps.
I would prefer to teach my children what I believe to be the truth about the supernatural aspects of the world. I don’t want it to come from the imagination of a screenwriter or game developer. And, I don’t want it to come from the imagination of a paperback writer who’s decided that vampires or demons are “Hot” subjects, right now.
My 8-year-old has me gasping for breadth (pun intended) with his questions. It’s astounding how discerning, and naturally oriented towards the supernatural, children are. If you have kids, you already know this. If you don’t, just watch one for 5 minutes. Your world may be limited by what you can see. But, their world isn’t.
More than Child’s Play
Discussing the supernatural is more than child’s play.
“In the contemporary world where there is a strong current of postmodern relativism…many people are far more interested in their own feelings, or what “works for them”, than in the question of what is actually true. But there is a price to be paid for rejecting the truth.”4
End of Part 1
Main Article Photo by Felipe Posada, The Invisible Realm, Toy Boat
Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial”
Grandma GG died on the twelfth day of Christmas, 2017.
In Catholic tradition, the following day is the Epiphany, the feast of the three kings, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Magi. So, the original “12 Days” are not a children’s memory and forfeit game turned into a Christmas carol.
And yet, when a friend reminded me of the day, the first memory I had was of Timothy and Lucas singing that song in the shower of our ski lodge hotel, over the holiday. If there’s anything more beautiful than the sound of children singing it’s the sound of my children singing.
When we drove home, Timothy had the gifts of each day of the song memorized. Then, like my father did so many times, I changed things around on them. To show the boys they’re not stuck with the official version of things, I made up new gifts for the first four days and sang a new carol.
By the time we were done, our version had 12 strummers strumming, three french breads, two lady bugs, and a fish swimming in a glass jar.
Charlie’s Option ‘C’
It was a small change to a lovely song. But, small changes like that, initiated by my father, were at the core of why he and mom lived such an extraordinary life. The conventional was just one possible starting point for my father; a brilliant engineer certain that no one had the whole game figured out. As he would often say, that made running with the herd a most dangerous proposition.
As my cousin Keith put it, if there were options A and B for everyone else, my father had an option C to consider. Tell him that there’s two sides to every coin and he’d probably smile and point out that you missed the third side. You forget about the edge. That’s technically a third side.
I can just hear him saying, “Remember, Terry, nobody’s got the whole game figured out. The instant someone tells you they do, ‘Run!’.”
And yet, for all his insights, when visiting with them in Tokyo my father said the reason they were able to travel everywhere and do such fun things was because of my mom. He just went to work every day, as usual. Mom took care of the blizzard of details it took the relocate, setup another house, figure out the local markets, and pay the bills.
The Shenanigans Continue …
The Shenanigans of the Gillespie’s, the McNally’s, and now the Arbelaez’, continue with the next generation. We sing the beautiful songs given us with the audacity to change the lyrics. The melody eventually goes, too, and the composers are forgotten. New life sings its own version of ancient songs. And nothing but the Grace of God is so assured that it should be immune from re-examination or re-canted with the joy of a personal imprint.
In Everything I Do
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy… in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture…1
And so it was that my brother and I were able to study music and architecture. Everything I do is on the shoulders of my parents, and on my knees, for the glory of our Father in heaven. The sacrifices they made, and the small changes to the norm my dad would always make, compounded into an enveloping blanket of possibilities my brother and I had the luxury of taking for granted.
An Artful Life
Possibilities are the breeding ground of creativity. The fruit of creativity is an artful life and, hopefully, the appreciation of the liberties that make it possible.
My parents were always there to help. Only because I was so sure of that, did I rarely need it. It was a premise in our relationship and bestowed a freedom to compose an extraordinary life. May the compositions of Isabel and I be a worthy extension of their legacy.
The Highest Privilege
When friends used to ask about my childhood I didn’t know what to say. What’s the opposite of a shitty childhood? Whatever that is, that was us.
Such discussions now involve notions of privilege and what that might be. From my parents, I know the answer: the highest earthly privilege, of all, is to be born into a household with a loving father and mother.
I can’t say it enough, and can’t stop thinking it: everything I do only makes sense when viewed as an extension of them. While others may try to discard their heritage, or apologize for it, I will spend the rest of my life being thankful for, and exploring the depths of, my own.
Geraldine Marie Gillespie
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.2
My father found this in my mother, Geraldine Marie Gillespie. And because their lives reflected its importance, I eventually found the same in Isabel. So, Isabel was the perfect one to give my mother her most favorite title of all: Grandma GG.
It was a name quickly conjured to avoid confusion with Martha, the other grandmother living in our house at the time. And, though the role of grandmother is rarely exceeded in stature or importance, it was a role my mother never expected to play. But, as I was to learn in the hours after her death, there was even more than that bundled up into Grandma GG’s favorite title.
A Catatonic Epiphany
For the last three years of her life, I’d prayed to know the purpose of my mother’s increased suffering, being confined to a bed for the past 10 years, and even losing her words.
Then, as befitting the 12th day of Christmas, I was lead on the track of a catatonic epiphany to a small group meeting at our church. Perhaps only around other believers could something as heart-warming, yet terrifying, be revealed: that my mother’s highest purposes in life were identical to her work, which was, in turn, identical to her highest calling. All three of these cherished insights lined up into one for Grandma GG. Her purposes, work, and calling were, all three, the same. They were inextricably bound up, and poured into, her three great loves: my father, my brother, and me.
The rareness of all three of these lining up —something that perhaps only a wife and mother of her time were afforded — is partly why I missed them.
A Mother’s Grief
Seen from that vantage point, it became more understandable that she had the strokes that put her in the bed shortly after my father, and then brother, died. Two-thirds of her life purposes had just left the planet. Her husband and firstborn son, were gone.
For those who haven’t walked that path, there’s no way to comprehend the loss. What I know of it are from the sounds of her weeping over my brother; cries I’d often wished could become unheard as they resonated through every dimension in a way that only a mother’s grief could.
Mom held on, in part, to save me from what she felt that day. She couldn’t bear for the same to happen to me.
A Secret Project
Maybe every child has a feeling their parents are working on a secret project that’s never revealed or talked about. You know they’re up to something; you just don’t know what it is. Then, one day, you realize that the secret project they’ve been working on, all this time, is you.
Every grocery bag, pair of sneakers, uniform, piano lesson, field trip, monthly check for Catholic school … and every drop-off and pick-up and late-night vigil waiting for you to come home, is one more stitch in the patchwork of a quilt they’re making, but don’t expect to use, for their own warmth. They’re sowing the soil, and tending to trees for decades, in hopes that it will bear the most delicious fruit the world has ever seen. And yet they’re perfectly content to die having never taken a bite.
The Unbearable Absence of Reservation
We pour ourselves out for our children, not because they’ve earned it, but because our love for them comes with an almost unbearable absence of reservation. It’s the only fitting metaphor we have of God’s love for us.
What Christ did for all, we seek to do for our children, within the realms of our limited authority: To guide them away from error and onto the path of their most complete fruition. And when they fall short, to plead forgiveness for their youthful trespasses and cancel any records of debt that might stand against them with legal demands.
Charlie’s 10% Solution
My dad said their marriage worked because he put 10% of everything he had into it. My mom wholeheartedly agreed with him on that, adding that the other 90% came from her.
A New Plague
The late 70’s were a tough time for my parent’s marriage. A new legal option of No-fault divorce was creeping across the country like a plague, leaving broken families in its wake. The machinery of separation was put into motion with a 9-syllable incantation: “ir·rec·on·cil·a·ble dif·fer·ences” were not corporate mergers gone awry, but a legal pretense for parents to live in separate houses.
Neutrality & Fairness
I remember my mom saying they couldn’t handle being Switzerland with all the couples they’d known who’d become separate and warring nations; the kids pulled around new artificial zones that, unlike the Vietnam news stories on TV, were anything but demilitarized.
So, there were arguments, and dishes thrown, and frustrations we felt, but didn’t understand. That’s how my brother and I knew that, just because we were born into it, didn’t make our parent’s marriage a guarantee.
We also learned that people playing fair with each other was a recipe for disaster; that it took a lot more than mere fairness to be happy. Only when they became resigned to giving more than received did a peace, that surpasses all understanding, come to our house.
As sung in the wedding folk song, popular at the time:
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
But, the circle of the exchange in those lyrics spins faster than the inputs of the wedded couple. It’s that invisible extra energy the songwriter is asking about in the question, “Do you believe in something, that you’ve never seen before?”.
Grief is the Precious, Cut Short
I’ve learned from the deaths of my immediate family that the greatest cause for grief is when something precious is cut short of its expected completeness. And though I grieve for my mother, and still for my father and brother, I’m unable to view their lives as having been cut short; each for their own reasons.
Dad’s Bucket List(s)
In a conversation with my dad, a year before he died, he told me that when he was 10-years-old he made a list of things he’d dreamed of doing. By his mid-40’s he’d gotten to the end of that list, and made another. By the time of our conversation, he said he’d checked everything off that second list, as well.
The memory of that exchange was particularly comforting when he died, unexpectedly, a year later. How could his life be viewed as having been cut short if, by his own handwritten lists, he’d completed everything he’d set out to do?
When my dad’s brother came to visit, last year, I told him that story. He said he felt the same way and that his number was 75. Seven months later, nine days after Grandma GG, my Uncle Tim met his number.
Mom’s Unexpected Life
As for my mother, she never expected to get to do most of the things she, and my father, did. She raised two boys, traveled the world, got her high school diploma (about the same time we did), worked for a while to see what that was like, learned ikebana painting with the Japanese, and played golf with my father to her hearts content in their dream home, designed by their son, on the 5th hole of a private golf course in South Carolina. All of this, with her husband who’d retired at the age of 53.
It wasn’t until after my father died that I realized that Grandma GG was another artist in the family. Her opinions on logos, and colors, and ideas for business names, were always refreshing. And the grandchildren on her lap were the vitamins she took for her last eight years.
The fullness of Grandma GG’s life is the license we have to limit our grief to that of a life, not cut short, but fully lived.
Death ≠ Life Incomplete
A life is not devoid of purpose, nor incomplete, due merely to the fact that it has ended. If that were so, there is no hope for any of us, nor has there ever been.
I know this is not so, if only because of the memories I draw from them. My father may have helped me make more decisions, after his death, than before it. And though I believe it to be a mere fractal of a larger truth, there’s an undeniable life continued, here and now, in our memories, alone.
They Don’t Feel Gone
Staring at the bed of all the photos of my family it doesn’t make sense that they’re all gone. They don’t feel gone. After another series a fleeting moments, Isabel and my photos will be added to the pile. Then, it will be Timothy and Lucas staring at our pictures with this same odd feeling.
Memory is Proof of Life
Among the dead are those whose memories and past deeds are still having more of an impact on my life, today, than anyone currently living, ever will. So, the separation of who is here, and who is gone, becomes a more ambiguous proposition with each passing year.
After all, if memory of the once living is of no importance, then why punish a murderer? The victim’s gone and justice won’t bring them back. But, murderers are punished because the living will not put their memories away. The bell of the victims life will not be un-rung. And neither will the absence of justice be forgotten, or un-factored in to the righteous behavior of the survivors.
I believe the soul is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and continues a new life in the unseen realm, as the body falls away. Still, unbelievers can take comfort in the memories of loved ones who’ve died, and the life contained in their memory of them.
In the first few years, not a day went by without a citation of the fourth commandment, in one direction or another. We eventually got the hang of it in seeing the final years of Grandma GG’s life through. Her care was part of our purpose, while she was in the final stages of completing hers. We were like mirrors pointed at each other, each unaware of the reflections compounding into infinity.
Through the Eyes of Visitors
But, our children, and others, saw those reflections.
Every once in a while we’d get an outside perspective on our lives, through the eyes of visitors. It was like having a puppy and a friend stops by, two months later, and breaks the news to you that what you’re calling a puppy has become a dog.
As friends and family passed on condolences, one of the first things they’d say is how wonderful it was that Grandma GG spent her final years with her family.
They’re right, it was wonderful. But, it was just as wonderful to spend the long beginning of my life, with her.
End of the Rainbow
In retrospect, the struggles I had in caring for my mom were like a man complaining about a rock in his shoe while walking to the end of a rainbow. The treasure, waiting to be collected, is more than one house can hold. Part of that treasure is the proof that Grandma GG’s highest calling was met, so that even 1/3rd of its fulfillment was more than enough to reap for the care she needed.
Another part is that our boys woke up, everyday of their four and eight-year lives, with a grandparent living in the same house.
“God’s law is an unspeakably good and precious thing, and to live within it is to live the life that is eternal. To be sure, (God’s) law is not the source of rightness, but it is forever the course of rightness.3
The Potency of Holiness
Our bodies know the differences between darkness and light better than our minds. While surprised that a candle has lit up the whole gymnasium, our bodies have already started walking towards it.
Light is more than the absence of darkness. And holiness is more than the absence of sin. If sin is the drum of water we drink from, then holiness is the teaspoon of bleach that makes the whole drum potable.
My moms inheritance is in answering her highest calling. It was poured out into her three men, into her new family, and also for those who saw her race, finished well.
And like the story of the thief on the cross, who had no hope before that fateful day, may the retelling of her story inspire other families to stick together and light their own candles with the fire within. And may a spoonful of that be credited to the account of Grandma GG’s inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
In Our Muscle Memory
Grandma GG is still in our muscle memory and in the walls of the house. While writing these words, I’ve kept the room monitor on in my office in case Grandma GG needs something. Isabel and I still hear the bell she used to ring, and the pitch of her voice, calling for something. We’re still quiet on the phone so as not to wake her, and we keep feeling the need to break away from dinners with friends, because mom’s been alone for too long.
The Smirk on Lucas’ Face
Grandma GG did not abide orders or directives. There was a certain way she’d purse her lips and stare when orders were detected. That’s when you knew there wasn’t a thing in the world that could move her. You’d just settled the matter; nothing would move her until she was good and ready.
One day, while giving an order to our two-year-old, I looked over to see something that brought chills of deja’vu. Lucas had the same eyes, and curled up smirk, I’ve seen on my mothers face for fifty years. I knew immediately the battle lines were drawn, and he had the upper hand. My mother’s will-not-abide smirk had been transmuted right onto Lucas’ defiant face.
I can only imagine the deep-rooted pig-headedness originating from ancient celtic roots that is now a weapon in his arsenal. And, boy, it’s a good one. Grandma GG would love knowing that she had left her Lucas Michael, so well-armed. As foreboding a look as it is, I love seeing her smirk on Lucas’ face. Even though I know what I’m in for.
Timothy’s Willy Wonka House
“When you love someone you go to the ends of the earth for them.”
— Aunt Bernie
Timothy doesn’t have Grandma GG’s defiant smirk. What he inherited from Grandma GG is waking up for the first eight years of his life with grandparents living in the same house. He has the cookies and candy in her drawer, her birthday gifts, the coca-cola Santa Claus kisses, and grandparents’s day at school.
When watching the original Willy Wonka, Timothy saw nothing odd in all the grandparents in the bed. To him, it was a matter-of-fact depiction of the way all families live. Families take care of one another, come what may, and no one is left behind.
Prior to my mom’s passing, Isabel had never experienced the death of an immediate family member. Now, as a reluctant veteran, perhaps she’d agree that death, compared to life, is a simple thing.
Death doesn’t give meaning to life; it just imposes a deadline on the project to perfect the soul our bodies are bound to, for a while. The body gives out, and the soul is released, to forever be what it became under the care of our earthly stewardship.
The greatest gift of life is the chance to shape, and try to perfect, the state of our immortal souls.
May we prepare for death like a bel canto singer navigates through the passagio of the upper-middle voice; switching over to a new set of involuntary muscles so the voice may gracefully ascend into its highest range.
But, She’s Ours!
Two weeks after she died, Lucas asked, “When are they going to send Grandma GG back?”
“What do you mean, Lucas?”, Isabel asked.
“When are they going to be done working on her body … (counting on his fingers) … “1-day, 2-days, 3-days, 4-days, 5-days?”
“She’s not coming back, Lucas. We have to go see her.”
“But, she’s ours!”, he said.
Then, last week, Lucas asked the same question. When Isabel told him Grandma GG was gone he yelled, “But, she’s ours! Why can’t they fix her body and send her back?!” before crying for five minutes; an eternity for a four-your-old.
Yes, honey. She’s ours.
And we will never forget her, nor the last time we saw her, this morning as she prepared for her journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.4
Alright, mom. These words hardly begin to summarize your life. But, you’d be happy with a few highlights in your son’s voice. It must have been awesome to get out of that bed and stretch out into a walk!
Remember when Dad borrowed Wendell’s RV and we camped and drove across the whole country? Dad wore out those Fleetwood Mac tapes and almost killed us on the mesa verde mountain curves.
My least favorite song is the one I can’t get out of my head. It reminds me of you and dad. You guys are together, now, like you imagined for all those years watching the golf channel. Every time that bell rings it feels like you’re still here. I’m glad, we’re glad, that, “For you, there’ll be no more crying.”
For you, the sun will be shining.
And I feel that you’re with us
And It’s alright, I know it’s right.
My songbirds are singing, like they know the score.
And I love you, I love you, I love you, like never before.
The expectation that your job & spiritual calling must be identical is false. Fortunately, the mysteries of the relationship between the two are revealed with delightful clarity through a careful reading of the Bible. Even non-Christians can gain insights into their own work and aspirations by considering what the Bible has to say about them.
After clarifying the biblical meanings of words like talents, spiritual gifts, natural abilities, job, and spiritual calling, this article will describe 7 ways to integrate your job and spiritual calling.
Total Integration in Perspective
Large overlaps between job and spiritual calling have been more the exception, than the rule, throughout church history. Typically, those who’ve found their calling (At last!) are already making a living with natural abilities. Current jobs then become a platform from which to direct that calling.
However improbable, total integration is a possibility. Apart from traditional clergy and dedicated pastors and worship leaders, the luxuries of a sophisticated division of labor and access to investment capital have made the total integration of job and spiritual calling more possible than ever. However, utmost care must be taken so that believer’s expectations are set with respect to all the factors involved. Where your job and spiritual calling fit on the continuum between “Total Integration” and “No overlap” is a reflection of divine design.
Talents vs. Spiritual Gifts
Talents are the natural abilities you have prior to conversion.
“Talents have to do with techniques and methods; gifts have to do with spiritual abilities. Talents depend on natural power, gifts on spiritual endowment.1
A spiritual gift is …
… a God-given special ability, given to every believer at conversion by the Holy Spirit, to share his love and strengthen the body of Christ.2
Believers Have Both
A believer has both the natural talents they were born with and the spiritual gifts received at conversion. Both are at their disposal in everything they do. The spiritual gifts, however, are a special empowerment for the fulfillment of your calling.
Job vs. Spiritual Calling
A job is whatever you do to make a living. Prior to conversion, you have only your natural talents to perform this work. A job may provide the platform from which to direct your calling. However, it does not define your calling nor is it the same as your calling.3
A spiritual calling is a …
… commissioning from God to make a significant difference on this earth. It’s the banner of your life that you carry and wave for God’s glory.3
Spiritual gifts empower the fulfillment of this calling. What God has called you to do, he has empowered you to do.
7 Ways to Integrate Your Job & Spiritual Calling
The relationship between your job and spiritual calling will fall on a continuum between “no overlap” and “identical”.
Working out this relationship can only begin when you …
1 — Answer the Call, Obedience Precedes Results
The first way to integrate your job and spiritual calling is to answer the call. Obedience precedes, and is more important than, results (which are for God to judge). Feelings about not being ready are irrelevant. If you’ve been called, you’re ready to start.
The way to answer the call is probably the same way you found your calling in the first place:
Move forward with confirmation and stay with your holy passion.4
Let external circumstances sharpen, but never stop, the answer to your calling. A sobering view on one consequence of this obedience comes from John Bevere in “Driven by Eternity”:
One believer’s effectiveness may be limited by another’s obedience.
We’re all parts of the body. When one part is not working, the whole body is affected.
Deployable vs. Employable
All gifts and callings are deployable. Not all are employable. Deploy anyway. Even the Apostle Paul continued his trade of tent-making while pursuing his calling of preaching the Gospel.5
Deployment, with no expectation of remuneration or employment, is the best way to discover what the relationship between your job and calling is meant to be.
2 — Connect with an Existing Ministry of Your Church
If your calling fits naturally into an existing ministry of your church then BINGO! Figure out where best to plug in and you’re off to the races!
Do you have a list of all the ministries of your church?
Does your calling fit naturally into one of them?
Are you the missing piece to helping that ministry to continue, grow or thrive?
Are they stuck, or not exploring the possibilities, in the area of your spiritual gifts because someone just like you hasn’t shown up, yet?
Could your calling be part of a ministry your church has been wanting to move forward on but nobody like you has showed up?
The only way to get these answers is to ask. Depending on the size of your church you might have to ask leaders at multiple levels. Even the lead pastor may not be the person with the answer. Keep asking until you know for sure.
Your church is the ideal platform from which to answer your spiritual calling. So ideal, in fact, that it’s best not to move on to other ways until you’ve thoroughly explored this option.
… when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
— Philippians 4:14–17 (ESV)
The Philippians partnered with Paul sending help for his needs. In return, Paul “seeks the fruit that increases to their credit”.
Working with another church is the next best thing to working from within your church. The relationship between the churches will be naturally strengthened through your work. It may even inspire your church to join in. That shouldn’t be your motivation, of course; just a possible outcome to keep in mind.
4 — Donations
Many callings, and the goals of some large charities and non-profits, are fueled largely (or solely) through donations. This could be as simple as putting a donate button on a website or just saying, “Yes”, when asked if you could use some funding.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Be a squeaky wheel for a divine purpose!
5 — Attract (And ask for) Sponsorships
Think of getting sponsorships as making sales for God. You must become lucid on your goals and mission. You’ll also need to list the benefits of success to your sponsor.
What is the specific mission you’re asking to be sponsored?
Who are you going to help?
How are you going to help them?
What will helping them look like? What impact will it have on them and the community where you live?
What will be the benefits to the sponsor if you succeed in your mission?
Is anyone else partnering with you, already? Who else are you working with?
Don’t underestimate the value of your sponsor’s logo on the T-shirts or hats of people performing excellent work in the local community. Seen from your sponsors point of view, your work may be the best representation of their core values apart from the product or service they provide.
6 — Start a Non-Profit
I’ve been watching this process unfold with Dr. Michael Heiser. After many years, and with great reluctance, Mike’s enlisted help from readers to form a non-profit named after a retreat as named in one of his books. It’s called Miqlat. They’re already doing great work that wouldn’t be as effective, or possible, if performed through a different entity.
Even with all the material and talents available to Mike starting your own non-profit is a daunting prospect. As you’d see from following Miqlat’s’ journey, nobody has all the skills necessary to accomplish all the many tasks and projects required to get one of these off the ground. If this option is for you, let providence enable it to unfold as it should.
7 — Identical or Bust!
The total integration of your job & spiritual calling is the exception, rather than the rule. Still, I can’t leave this option out because it is possible. It’s the defining relationship for traditional clergy, some pastors, some worship and ministry leaders, and many who are called as missionaries.
Now that you understand the difference between jobs and spiritual callings you know that one of them may suffer terribly if the roles are forced, in any way. You are seeking to discover the divine design of the relationship rather than imposing it.
A better example for those reading this article, however, is probably the example of Dr. Michael Heiser described in the previous way. He has kept his income going through teaching, being a “scholar in residence” at Logos Software (FaithLife Corp.) and is now, slowly, trying to get donations to his new Miqlat non-profit to cover his expenses. This may, at last, free him up to work solely on creating the content that he’s been called to create.
Another example are the many individual employees of FaithLife Corp. I’m sure many of their jobs and spiritual callings are exactly in line with each other.
That’s not to say that one must be as prepared as Mike, or a happy employee of FaithLife, to achieve total integration of job and spiritual calling. In fact, such integration may not be possible or meant to happen, at all. And, if it doesn’t, it’s by no means an indication of failure. It’s more likely an indication of divine design.
This total integration option is best taken to prayer and balanced with the providence of where you live, what your talents and gifts are, and the particulars of your calling.
If You Insist …
The reason for this stubborn belief is the sophisticated division of labor and availability of capital often present in developed countries. For those who absolutely insist that their job and spiritual calling can be identical you’ll need to take on the burdens of understanding all the factors involved. You’ll also need to read up, or take some courses, on entrepreneurship.
More is Expected and Required
Though beyond the scope of this article here’s some great advice from Gary North on taking a run at the possibility of total integration between your job and spiritual calling.
Gary starts with an expanded definition of calling. He defines it as whatever your answer is to this question …
What is the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace?
With your answer to that question firmly in mind, Gary recommends asking yourself these followup questions with respect to the marketplace in which you’ll be working:
Where do you have a clear-cut advantage over your competitors?
Is this advantage visible to others?
Can you leverage this outside your present job?
Can this leverage extend beyond your retirement?
Can this leverage extend beyond your death?
What are the technical tools of your leverage?
Are you skilled in the use of these tools?
Are your competitors equally skilled?
As you can see by the questions, you’re now faced with, not only the work of your calling, but interfacing directly with all the forces of the marketplace. Unless entrepreneurship is part of your calling these requirements will degrade your effectiveness.
In good faith, I can only recommend this option for believer’s whose gifts are designed for it. Frankly, any option that would completely stop you subverts Way #1: “Answer the Call, Obedience Precedes Results”.
Large overlaps between your job and spiritual calling are the exception, not the rule. The expectation that they must be identical (Or forced to be identical) is a myth. If that prevents you from answering your calling then myth has spawned tragedy.
In partial summary:
Let nothing discourage you (Including this article)!
What you’ve been called to do, you’ve been empowered to do.
Obedience is more important than results.
Every calling is deployable. Not every calling is employable.
The relationship between a deployable and employable is not completely in your control.
Even the Apostle Paul continued his trade of tent-making while engaged in his calling of preaching the Gospel.5
Your calling will almost certainly involve the participation of others in order to be brought to fruition.
Your calling will present different challenges depending on the economic realities of where you live.
The relationship between deployable and employable will be greatly affected by the location in which you pursue your calling.
Like a brilliant diamond, your calling will need the 5 C’s applied to be made into the masterpiece it was intended to be. It will need to be expertly cut, clarified, colored, carat weighted, and confidence added.
What you’ve been called to do, you’ve been empowered to do!
Check Out My Online Course, “Your Life, On Purpose”
In my upcoming course, “Your Life, on Purpose” I explore and remove the biggest obstacles to discovering and living on purpose. The most prevalent worldviews are compared, word puzzles resolved, and terms further clarified and integrated into a coherent understanding. Upon completing the course terms like purpose, career, meaning, vocation, avocation, success, mission, goal, values, worldview, destiny, gifts, spiritual gifts, spiritual calling, etc. will inform, rather than confuse.
For a free sample module of “Your Life, On Purpose“, and to stay updated on the release of the full course, please sign up for e-mail updates, below. As an added bonus you’ll receive the password for McGillespie’s Free-Resource Library.
Leslie B. Flynn, 19 Gifts of the Spirit. Colorado Springs: Cook Communications, 1974, 1994, 17 – 18. ↩
Rees, Erik; Rees, Erik. S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life (p. 34). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. ↩
Rees, Erik; Rees, Erik. S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life (p. 22). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. ↩
“…and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:3 (ESV). ↩
… that life can be optimized with respect to a minimum of seven areas. Delete any one of them from the equations of your awareness and your life will degrade, sooner or later. Since these areas are irreducible I call them the Seven Matters of Life.
… in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.