Bigfoot, Nessie, and sundry creatures

Since I’ll be away all weekend, I snagged this topic on Wednesday from Kay’s Best Intentions blogspot and wrote it early. Didn’t want to get so busy I skipped a week again!

I came across Kay’s list of 36 Of The Best Blog Post Ideas.. EVER! on Pinterest a couple weeks after she first published it. This one is #25: “What supernatural things do you believe in or not? (aliens, bigfoot, ghosts, etc.)” I wouldn’t describe what I’m about to write about as “supernatural,” but since she put bigfoot in between those parenthesis I decided to just go with it.

A Budding Cryptid Obsession

I first discovered cryptozoology 14 or 15 years ago on an out-of-the-way bookshelf in Perrycook Memorial Public Library in the tiny town of Johnsville, Ohio. Alan Garinger’s book Water Monsters was thin and black with a brightly colored image on the front depicting a stylized water creature with a purple head shaped like a sharpened pencil. I had to stand on tiptoes to reach the shelf where it was snuggled up beside a cheesy-looking UFO book.

Once I’d read the book at least three times, I sent letters begging for more information to each address listed the back of the book, and received a treasure trove of reading material. I was sent an article on the Alkali Lake Monster, a booklet titled “The Legend of the Silver Lake Sea Serpent,” and a nice letter from a communications manager who had written about the Bear Lake Monster hoax. The city of Kelowna sent articles about Ogopogo, and the Churubusco Chamber of Commerce gave me an information packet on their giant turtle, including turtle shaped pencil-toppers and a bottle opener.

Water Creatures

I’m picky in which cryptids I follow. My favorites are the water creatures, though the “living dinosaurs” are a very close second. I’ll also keep track of research on hairy hominids (bigfoot, yeti, skunk ape, alma, etc.), but they can’t hold my interest for long. I feel like they are less mysterious than the water dwellers, almost too close to being recognized by mainstream science to be intriguing. Other areas of cryptozoology I rarely touch are the creepier cryptids like chupacabra, anything that starts to fringe into alien-hunter territory, and questionably extinct species like Thylacine.

me at Lake Champlain in 2012

Anything that supposedly lives in the water, though … that I like. The lake monsters: Champ of Lake Champlain, Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan, Nahuelito of Lago Nahuel Huapi, Nessie of Loch Ness. The sea serpents: Caddy typically sighted off the coast of British Columbia, the Valhalla sighting of 1905, the Gloucester Sea Serpent, the tadpole-like Hook Island photos, the enormous crocodilian blown out of the water by the German U-28 submarine in 1915.

The only cryptozoologically famous spot I’ve visited so far is Lake Champlain. We missed the heyday of sightings at Bulwagga Bay by about 40 years, but this commemorative board listing Champ sightings in the area was as close as I’ve come to one of my favorite lake monsters.

Monster Art

For my final project in my digital art class at college, I did a series of prints focused on 7 different cryptids and placed them in a book. They were Nessie, Champ, Ogopogo, Caddy, Mokel-mbembe, Ropen, and Bigfoot. I’ll include the first three at the end of this post. Each piece arranged sketches, photos, and sighting informaition around a map of the area each creature is said to inhabit.

I can’t finish this post without touching on the living dinosaurs. The most well-known — mokele-mbembe, emela-ntouka, and kongamato — have been reported on a fairly regular basis in the Congo region of Africa. Mokele-mbembe (consistently described as a small sauropod dinosaur) seems to me like one of the cryptids most likely to be real — the area is difficult to explore well enough to rule out their existence, and the people who actually live there talk about mokele-mbembe as if they are as real as hippos, monkeies, and snakes.

From an art project I completed in college (click for full-size. The notes are read-able)

Weakness of Christ

Something we don’t often talk about, at least in the churches I’ve attended, is Jesus Christ’s weakness. We even re-write the lyrics for Amy Grant’s song “El Shaddai” when singing it for special music to read “power of your Son” instead of “frailty of your Son” (which makes no sense in the context of the second verse). With that background, pairing Christ’s name with the word “weakness” might seem odd (at the very least), but hear me out for a moment. When Jesus Christ was on this earth as a human being, He was “made like His brethren” — like us — “in all things.” He had to experience what we do, including our weaknesses, to be “a merciful and faithful high priest” and “to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).

No Power In Self

When on the earth, Jesus said, “I can of Myself do nothing” (John 5:30). He had to rely on His Father for strength, just as we have to rely on Jesus Christ for our strength.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

The Word who became Jesus gave up His power as God to be like us in every way (John 1:1-2, 14). He needed to be weak in the same ways we are so that He could be “in all points tempted as we are” for two reasons (Heb. 4:15). One: so that He could sympathize with and “aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Two: so He could show that a sinless life is possible with God’s help by living His own life “without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

Jesus Christ’s life and His relationship with God serves as a model for us. As He was dependent on the Father for His strength, so are we dependent on Him. As He mimicked His Father’s actions, so are we to imitate Christ. As He emptied Himself to serve others and submitted to His Father’s will, so should we follow in His steps.

Weakness Made Strong

As a further example to us, Christ’s human weakness was turned into divine strength (2 Cor. 13:4). Though He was fully human and had human weaknesses while on this earth, He did not stay that way. And, because of the power He has now, we do not have to stay that way either." For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you" (2Cor. 13:4) marissabaker.wordpress.comAfter His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). One of the things He uses this incredible power for is to strengthen our weaknesses.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Cor. 12:)

Weakness is a prerequisite for receiving strength from God. In Philippians 2:5-8, Christ is described as making “Himself of no reputation,” acting as a servant, being made  “in the likeness of men,” and humbling Himself. The next verse begins with the word “therefore,” to show us the result of this voluntary weakness.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)

The verses after this begin with a “therefore” as well, to show the result of Christ’s exaltation and the process of His mind being formed in us (going back to verse 5).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13)

Because of Christ’s weakness being made strong, we have the opportunity to humble ourselves before God and “work out our own salvation” with Him working in us to “make you complete … through Jesus Christ,” who is the Author of our salvation (Heb. 13:21).

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9)

Jesus Christ’s life on this earth serves as an example to show us exactly how to live (John 13:15; 1 John 2:6). To do this, He voluntarily made Himself as weak as the people He created and, with His Father, modeled the way we can receive strength to live a godly life.

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by

The great thing about making a cookie crust in a pan lined with aluminum foil is the whole thing lifts right out for easy serving

I usually make a cheesecake when we’re heading anywhere that needs desert, so for the last potluck I went to I decided to try something new. I thought raspberries sounded good, and I needed an unleavened crust so I settled on a modified version of this Scottish shortbread. Then I thought almonds might be a good idea, so I threw some of those in as well. It tasted good, but as you can see from the photos it cracked while baking. I have an idea that just might take care of that problem, so I’ll probably be posting a “take two” after my next baking attempt.

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake

print this recipe

shortbread crust for Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by

kneading the crust. It will feel a bit sticky


1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a 9-inch spring-form pan with aluminum foil. Cream butter and sugar. Add ground almonds and 1/2 cup of flour, and mix well. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding flour to make a soft dough. Press into the spring-form pan, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by marissabaker.wordpress.comFilling

3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

3 eggs

1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, raspberry preserves

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing at low speed after each addition.

Mix 3/4 cup of batter with 1/4 cup raspberry preserves. Spoon 1/3 of the raspberry mixture over the crust.

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by marissabaker.wordpress.comPour the remainder of the cheesecake batter into the pan. Drop the remaining raspberry/cream cheese mixture by spoon fulls over the top of the cheesecake and smooth into the batter. Dot the top of the cheesecake with extra raspberry preserves, then use a knife to swirl the batter.

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by

here’s where the trouble started – I couldn’t get the raspberry to swirl in cleanly

Bake cheesecake for 1 hour at 325° F or until center is almost set. Run a knife along the inside edge of the pan ring when it comes out of the oven. Cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Almond Raspberry Cheesecake recipe by

Finding Christ in Me

For my family and me, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are just around the corner, so I thought this would be a good time to share one of my Bible studies leading up to this spring Holy Day season.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.(1 Cor. 11:27-29)

We read this scripture many times leading up the Passover service, both in individual study and while listening to messages in our church congregations. I heard it again last weekend when listening to a Steve Buchanan message titled “The Focus of the Passover.” He pointed out that the phrase “discerning the Lord’s body” gives us a guide for how to examine ourselves. The more we learn about Jesus Christ, the better we will be able to examine our conduct in the light of His life.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Cor. 13:5)

Since Jesus Christ is our example (1 Pet. 2:21) and we are “to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6), it is His conduct that we are measured by. Walking after His example and obeying his commandments, goes hand-in-hand with abiding in Him and being a fit dwelling place for His presence.

Need For Christ In Us

The mutual indwelling that must occur for us to grow as Christians is described in John 15.

"Finding Christ In Me" marissabaker.wordpress.comAbide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Like a branch must rely on its vine and rootstock for everything that keeps it alive, so must we rely on Christ. If He is not in us, our spirits are dead.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  (Rom. 8:9-10)

Christ in us is our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Without Him we can do nothing, but with Him we can do all things (Phil 4:13). When we examine ourselves, we should be looking for evidence of His presence in our lives.

Start In The Mind

Our becoming like Christ starts in our minds and hearts, then spills out into external action. We are told, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” and that we will be expected to “give account for “for every idle word” that we speak (Matt. 12:34, 36). Since the product of our hearts is so pivotal in how we measure up to God’s standard, it is imperative that our hearts and minds be reshaped to look like Jesus Christ.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

"Finding Christ In Me" marissabaker.wordpress.comThe aspects of Christ’s personality emphasized here are His humility, his service-mindedness, and His obedience. We need to prayerfully examine ourselves in these areas. Am I becoming humble the way Jesus is humble? Do I follow His example of service to God and other people, both in and out of the church? How well am I keeping His commandments “in spirit and in truth” as well as in the letter of the law?

Another question we can ask is, “How much do I really want to be like Christ?” That’s an aspect of our minds as well. If we don’t have an attitude that sincerely wants to be like Christ and then acts on that desire, we are hobbling our spiritual growth. Christianity is not for people who are content to remain as they are.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:7-11)

Do we have this attitude about becoming like Christ? Our goal must be to get rid of anything in us that doesn’t lead us closer to Him. Our life, feelings, thoughts, and actions  must start to look more and more like His.

Remaking Us

Those of us who have been “baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” and “should walk in newness of life (Rom. 8:3-4). Our old self, the aspects of our character that are not Christ-like, need to be replaced. Our way of thinking, feeling, and living is meant to be radically impacted by the conviction that we are alive only through Jesus Christ our Lord. If we are in Christ, we are being remade in His image and should be able to see that when we examine ourselves honestly.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Just before the “let this mind be in you” passage starting in Philippians 2:5, Paul writes to the brethren that they should be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2). This mind, which causes peace in the church, is the mind of Christ, and this love is the kind of love which He connected with obedience to God’s commandments (John 14:15; 15:10). Paul further writes, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3). This attitude of humble service is yet another trait of Jesus Christ that we should be looking for when we examine ourselves to see how closely we resemble Him.

Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookie recipe.

My younger brother just tested up from his junior black belt to adult-level black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and these are the cookies he wanted to celebrate with. This recipe makes a huge batch of cookies — between 5 and 6 dozen — so there’s more than enough to enjoy here and to send with him to Tae Kwon Do class tomorrow.

Oatmeal Cookies

print this recipe

Oatmeal Cookie recipe.

cookie dough

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

3 Tablespoons water

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups flour (half whole-wheat, half unbleached)

Oatmeal Cookie recipe.

cookies, baked and unbaked

4 1/2 cups uncooked rolled oats

Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Add water and vanilla, then stir to thoroughly combine.

Stir in salt, baking powder, and soda. Mix in flour, then add oats. Dough can be refrigerated, or baked immediately. Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.


Oatmeal Cookie recipe.

I usually add chocolate chips to the last one or two dozen

Fictional MBTI – Steve Rogers (ISFJ)

Fictional MBTI - Steve Rogers. Captain America is an ISFJ. marissabaker.wordpress.comThis was requested in the comments on Fictional MBTI – Loki, and since I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Friday it seemed a good time to write a post about Steve Rogers/Captain America. Incidentally, I will reference Winter Soldier in this post but will try to keep it spoiler-free. If you don’t want to know anything about the plot, though, go watch the film and then come back :)

In support of typing Steve as an ISFJ, I’ll be citing quotes from Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Gifts Differing by Isabel Myers, and Was That Really Me? by Naomi L. Quenk.

Introverted Sensing

Isabel Myers describes the Introverted Sensing (Si) types – both ISFJ and ISTJ — as “remarkably dependable … they base their ideas on a deep, solid accumulation of stored impressions, which gives them some almost unshakable ideas” (102). For Steve Rogers, this resulted in the attitude that earned him consideration in Dr. Abraham Erskine’s experiment — “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from” (Captain America). The same deeply rooted ideas that form his character also gave Steve the conviction to stand-up to Nick Fury when asked to compromise his values to create a “safe” world — “This isn’t freedom; it’s fear” (Winter Soldier).

In the right person, the traits of Si are perfect for military command. Si types are extremely stable, not entering “into things impulsively” and, “once in, they are very hard to distract, discourage, or stop” (Myers 102). When convinced he is in the right, Captain America is an unstoppable force, whether he is performing a one-man rescue mission in WWII or leading a team against Hydra.

Since Si is an introverted function, there are aspects of their private reactions that ISFJs usually keep to themselves. Only when they feel “off duty” and are around people they trust will they share insights into their unique way of viewing the world. These impressions “may be absurd, irreverent, touching, or hilarious, but never predictable, because their way of sensing life is intensely individual” (Myers 103). Steve tends to joke before going on missions, such as his dialog with Peggy Carter before he parachutes behind enemy lines in Captain America, and that scene from the beginning of Winter Soldier (which is also in the trailer) when he says he doesn’t anything to do on Saturday night because his barbershop quartet is dead.

Extroverted Feeling

Fictional MBTI - Steve Rogers. Captain America is an ISFJ.

Though an auxilary function, Extroverted Feeling (Fe) is the most easily visible aspect of an ISFJ. Heavily informed by dominant Si, this manifests in ISFJs as an emphasis on “loyalty, consideration, and the common welfare” (Myers 104). Myers also says that a well-balanced ISFJ will be very hard working and more practical than a typical introvert. They also “carry responsibility well,” though they do not necessarily enjoy leadership (102).

Fe is a social function, to the point that some introverts who use Fe may be mistaken for extroverts (this explains why you’ll sometimes see Steve typed as an ESFJ). It adapts to situations and strives to act in a way that is acceptable to as many people as possible. An ISTJ probably wouldn’t have agreed to become the “star-spangled man with a plan,” but ISFJ Steve was convinced that was how he could best serve his country. He stuck with that role up until it conflicted with his deeply held Si convictions. In this aspect, ISFJs resemble INFJS, in that both will try to please others for as long as possible without compromising their ideas.


Psychologists disagree about whether or not the tertiary function should be described as “introverted” or “extroverted” (so it’s opposite of the auxiliary function), or simply listed by itself. Whichever the case, Jung says that this third function is under conscious control to some degree as it supports the auxiliary function (Quenk 33, 51). For an ISFJ, tertiary thinking helps with clarity in crisis situations, strategy and logic, and suspending feeling to evaluate other people’s actions. We can see this any time Captain America is planning something strategic, as he sorts through sensing data and comes up with a plan.

Extroverted Intuition

Fictional MBTI - Steve Rogers. Captain America is an ISFJ. marissabaker.wordpress.comAll dominant sensing type are uncomfortable with intuition, and highly skeptical of unverified facts. They can’t consciously access their inferior, or shadow, function of Extroverted Intuition (Ne) and are made uneasy by it. In every day life, this comes out as a general sense of worry and a skepticism about new ideas. This can be useful for detecting flaws in new proposals and warning about negative possibilities, which Steve does quite often in The Avengers. For ISFJs to become comfortable with something new and unexpected, they need time alone to process, such as Steve hiding from the world in The Avengers until he feel needed again and has had time to come to terms with his time displacement.

Anger is a typical response for ISFJs, particularly ISFJ men, when stressed. Stress can also cause ISFJs to become more outspoken, “irritable, and pessimistic” (Quenk 220). They are likely to feel a “loss of control over facts and data,” become more impulsive, and focus on worst-case scenarios (Quenk 221).

Stress triggers for inferior Ne include people whose types use intuition as a dominant function (such as Tony Stark/Iron Man), noisy and disorganized environments, unsubstantiated statements from authority figures, “not having sufficient information to do a good job,” and delays in goal achievement (Quenk 219). These last three triggers play a major role in the opening events of Winter Soldier, when Steve becomes angry that Nick Fury didn’t give him all the information about a rescue mission.

Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, Part 2

As you may know if you read my blog regularly, my Bible study for last week’s post was a bit too large to fit in one article. Hence, part 2 about the role of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Book of Acts. All the intro is in last week’s post, so without further ado …

Filled With The Spirit

Several times when the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the book of Acts, it talks about people being “filled with” the Spirit. Sometimes it is referring to an individual’s character and relationship with God, such as Stephen (Acts 6:3,5) and Barnabas (Acts 11:24), and sometimes this filling with the Holy Spirit occurs after a specific event. For example, here’s what happened after the disciples prayed in Acts 4:24-30 following Peter and John being arrested and forbidden to speak in Jesus’ name.

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

It seems that God gave an extra dose of His Spirit when the disciples asked for strength to keep going through persecution. Notice also that the Spirit prompted them to speak, giving them the strength they needed to continue preaching in Jesus’ name (we’ll get back to that in a moment).

A similar thing seems to have happened in Acts 13:51-52, when Paul and Barnabus showed up in Iconium after being expelled from Antioch. The disciples here “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit,” though I’m not clear on whether this was new disciples receiving the Holy Spirit because of Paul and Barnabus’ preaching or established followers of Christ being giving an extra measure of the Holy Spirit as a result of persecution (any thoughts?)

Speaking By The Spirit

In several cases, being filled with the Holy Spirit precedes speaking. Take, for example, Peter and John before the Jewish leaders in Acts 4:8, as they witness to the life and power of Jesus Christ. This puts me in mind of Luke 21.

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. (Luke 21:12-15)

The Holy Spirit also inspires prophetic utterances, such as when Agabus predicted a famine (Acts 11:28) and when Isaiah spoke in the Old Testament (Acts 28:25). The thing I like to note here is that no one questioned that the Holy Spirit could and would do this sort of thing — the disciple’s response to Agabus was to organize relief efforts for the predicted famine (Acts 11:29).

Another important thing to note is what people say when speaking by the Holy Spirit. In Acts 4, Peter and John spoke God’s word boldly, bearing witness to Jesus Christ. In Acts 7:55-56, Stephen said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” In Acts 13:9-10, Paul spoke out against a sorcerer who was “perverting the straight ways of the Lord.”

The common thread here is presented in 1 Corinthians. In short, the test for answering the question, “Is someone speaking by the Holy Spirit?” is to look at how they talk about Jesus Christ.

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:3)

Getting The Holy Spirit

We generally assume that, with the exception of the the remarkable Pentecost in Acts 2,  baptism of the Spirit accompanies baptism in water, as it did for Saul/Paul in Acts 9:17-18. Similarly, believers at Ephesus “were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:5-6).

"Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, Part 2" by marissabaker.wordpress.comThe situation is similar in Samaria, but with a greater time between the two baptisms. The new disciples here were “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” but did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and “ laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-17).  Not sure why this is — was it to help establish the apostles’ role in the early church? Set a precedent for laying on of hands?

Another thing we can learn from this story is how not to get the Holy Spirit. The sorcerer Simon tried to buy the power to give God’s Spirit with the laying on of hands and was told, “your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:18-21).

God can also give the Holy Spirit without laying on of hands or water baptism. This was done in Acts 10 to prove that “God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18).

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.  For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

God can give His Spirit to whomever He pleases, whenever it suits Him. It’s not something that follows a set formula or automatically comes with water baptism (see Simon’s story above). This gift is much more complicated and wonderful than something that just happens to accompany being dunked in water.

Roles and Actions of the Holy Spirit

Here’s where we get into what the Holy Spirit is credited with doing in the early church. I think the easiest way to organize this is just to go through them chronologically.

  • Acts 8:29the Spirit said to Philip” to speak to the Ethiopian eunuch
  • Acts 8:39the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more,” and Philip found himself at Azotus.
  • Acts 9:31 the Holy Spirit acts as a comforter, as was promised in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7.
  • Acts 10:19-20 the Spirit told Peter to go with Cornelius’ messengers and to doubt nothing.
  • Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Since the Holly Spirit itself does not call people, I think it safe to assume God was peaking through the Spirit. Still, they were hearing the Holy Spirit clearly enough to record a line of dialogue.
  • Acts 15:28 the letter to Antioc read, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us” — collaborative letter writing with the Spirit?
  • Acts 16:7 “after they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.”
  • Acts 20:23the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations” await Paul. Two examples of this: Acts 21:4, 11.
  • Acts 20:28 speaking to the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God”

This is not at all how we interact with the Spirit today. we don’t hear it talking to us (and would we listen if we did? or think we were going mad?). We don’t act like it’s real and tangible enough to physically move us from one location to another if God had good reason. We credit it with inspiring messages and study, but that’s about it. Why is that? Are we so frightened of the supernatural that we shoot ourselves in the foot when it come to using the Spirit God has given us?

Grieve Not The Spirit

"Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, Part 2" by marissabaker.wordpress.comThere is a very real danger in not giving God’s Spirit the respect it deserves as a gift from Him and an aspect of His power. Ananias and Sapphira dropped down dead when the lied to and tempted the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-9). Stephen told his murderers, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51). Resistance to the Holy Spirit was their legacy — we do not want it to be ours.

We are told, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30), “do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thes. 5:19), and “do not neglect the gift that is in you” (1 Tim. 4:14), which could refer to the Spirit itself or to one of the Spiritual gifts (2 Tim. 1:6; 1Cor. 12:1-11). We have been given something incredible, and should not undervalue it.

Simple Chicken Stir-Fry

Simple Chicken Stir-Fry

I found this easy, attractive chicken stir fry recipe on Pinterest. The original recipe, from Edible Mosaic, was for a Cabbage, Carrot, and Chicken Stir-fry that served two. I trippled the recipe for our family of 5, thinking my teenage brother would eat enough for two people. Turns out I was wrong — we had enough to feed 6 or 7 people. The left-overs were a great breakfast, though!

Cabbage, Carrot, & Chicken Stir-Fry

Simple Chicken Stir-Fry



3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

3 large clove garlic, minced

1 to 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Simple Chicken Stir-Fry

chicken fried in sesame oil tastes so good. I could eat it like candy

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced cross-wise into thin strips

1/3 cup tapioca starch

2 tablespoons sesame oil

3/4 cup water

1 lb green cabbage, sliced into thin shreds

6 medium carrots, thinly sliced on a diagonal

2 green onions, thinly sliced

extra sesame seeds for garnish

slivered almonds (optional)

Whisk together marinade ingredients. Stir in the chicken and let it marinade for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and reserve the remaining marinade for later use. Toss chicken with the tapioca starch.

Simple Chicken Stir-Fry

putting it all together

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, turn heat down to medium-high. Cook chicken in small batches in a single layer until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Add more oil about halfway through cooking the chicken.

Once all the chicken is cooked, add the cabbage, carrot, reserved marinade, and 3/4 cup water to the wok or skillet. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet and toss vegetables with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the veggies are crisp-tender, stirring frequently.

Turn off heat and add the chicken. Garnish with the green onion, more sesame seeds, and slivered almonds if desired. Serve over steamed rice.

Simple Chicken Stir-Fry



INFJ Dark Side

Descriptions of the INFJ personality type often emphasize our peaceful natures, and point out that we have a hard time dealing with conflict. For example, one of the reasons a commenter on my INFJ Loki post argued my typing is inaccurate was because he couldn’t imaging INFJs “carrying on a constant fight with everyone around you for the majority of your existence.” INFJs are also described as disconnected from the world, and unlikely to feel involved in the reality of what’s going on around us. Though both of these can be true, we’re not completely harmless. Just ask my siblings. Every personality type has a dark side, and INFJs can be just as scary as everyone else.

INFJ Shadow

Let’s dive into the sciencey-part of Myers-Briggs theory for a moment. An INFJ’s dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni), which means the shadow function which emerges in times of stress it Extroverted Sensing (Se). Naomi L. Quenk’s book Was That Really Me? is an excellent resource for how each type reacts to stress with their shadow (a.k.a. inferior) function. All quotes are from the 11th chapter of her book.

INFJ Dark Side

No idea who made this — I just keep seeing it on Pinterest

Types with dominant Se use it effectively, but shadow functions are underdeveloped and so INFJs are not comfortable when forced to use sensing. On a small level, making a “sensing mistake” that involves facts or details can make us “annoyed or defensive.” On a larger level, times of stress trigger what Quenk calls a “grip experience,” where the inferior function takes over.

For INFJs (and INTJs, who share Se as a shadow function), stress causes an “obsessive focus on external data,” an “overindulgence in sensual pleasure,” and an “adversarial attitude toward the outer world.”  The first one can make us irritable and obsessive. The second often takes the form of overeating, shopping for things we don’t need, and generally becoming self-centered. The third is a defensive response to feeling like the entire world is spinning out of control.

Their hypersensitivity to potentially dangerous surroundings can promote uneasiness about people as well. … An INFJ said she “becomes suspicious. Usually I’m tolerant, curious, and compassionate, so ‘out of character’ for me means I’m unaccepting and frustrated with the world.” …

The altered state of any inferior function is typically accompanied by a lessening of social controls and therefore more frequent expressions of anger. However, the character of that anger may be different for different types. For INTJs and INFJs, the “cause” of distress is often one or more “objects” in the environment. The anger directed at either things or people may therefore be more focused, intense, and extreme than with other inferior functions.

INFJ Anger

Stress isn’t the only thing that can bring out an INFJ’s angry side. Jenn Granneman, the INFJ blogger of “Introvert, Dear” wrote an excellent article that addresses this issue: “How INFJs Deal with Conflict: 10 Confessions.” Here’s a quote:

Don’t underestimate my gentle nature. I’m not all warm fuzzies and smiles. If you cross one of my deeply held inner values, I become extremely outspoken and crusading. If I see someone else being hurt, I’ll have a strong urge to be their protector and defend them. An angry INFJ can deliver a wrath and intensity you’ve probably never experienced before. Think Jesus in the temple with whips, turning over the money changers’ tables.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

One of the odd things that results from INFJs generally peaceful nature evaporating once a deeply held value is crossed is that some people might be clueless about how we really feel about them. An INFJ won’t share their real self and inner thoughts with a casual acquaintance, and will go along with most conversations and suggestions just to avoid conflict. That can continue until the other person says or does something that crosses a line the INFJ has drawn in their minds, e.g. an INFJ woman being friendly to a guy she doesn’t really like up until the point where he actually asks her out. I imagine it’s pretty puzzling for people who think they’re getting along just fine when suddenly an INFJ blurts out “I don’t agree. And by the way, here’s everything else you’ve done over the entire course of our relationship that irritates me.”

Dealing With Emotions

One of the great things about knowing your Myers-Briggs type is that knowledge about your type can help you with working on your weaknesses. I can use my Se as an excuse for angry outbursts, or I can recognize what’s going on and learn to deal with it more effectively. You can find articles about INFJ Strategies for Dealing with Emotions and guides like Manage Those Pesky Emotions.

Naomi Quenk says INFJs and INTJs need “space and a low-pressure environment” to deescalate from a grip experience. It’s more helpful to take some alone time when feeling angry than to try and talk through it in the moment, partly to avoid sensory overload and partly to keep from snapping at people trying to give “helpful” advice. also, a “chance of scenery or activity can help break the negative, obsessive focus.” Try doing some yoga, going for a walk, or watching a film can help.  Ni types can also exercise their Se through a hobby like “photography, woodworking, furniture refinishing, or cooking.”



Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, Part 1

I did not mean for this to be a multi-part blog post, but I didn’t get all the way through studying the book of Acts this week so I’ll have to split the post in half. When I was in Cincinnati last weekend for Sabbath services and square dancing, there was one particular part of the sermon message that caught my attention. The speaker said “We can’t use the Holy Spirit if we don’t understand what it is” and that we don’t talk about the Holy Spirit today the way it was viewed by the early church in the Book of Acts.

That got me thinking, just how did the early church talk about the Holy Spirit? We usually look at the first two chapters, which chronicle the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and then go no further in Acts when we talk about the Holy Spirit. That’s where I’ll start as well, and then next week I’ll plan to write a post about what my study turns up in the remainder of Acts.

Enter The Holy Spirit

There were people who had the Holy Spirit before this notable Pentecost, but not many. So few, in fact, that it says in John’s gospel that “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Before Jesus ascended to heaven in the first chapter of Acts, He promised the disciples, “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” and “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:5, 8). That promise was fulfilled in the next chapter.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)

Not only was the Holy Spirit given to the disciples, but a miracle was performed at the same time which left no doubt of the effectiveness of the power God was giving. Men “from every nation under heaven … heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:5, 8). As we’ll discuss more in next week’s post, this is not the only time this particular miracle accompanied the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-48).

Receiving the Spirit

When some doubted what was going on, Peter said this:

Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:16-18)

He also revealed a recipe for receiving the Holy Spirit which is repeated several times in later chapters.

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38-39)

I am finding it interesting, and inspiring, to read through the book of Acts taking note of every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned and seeing how the promises and prophesies mentioned in chapter 2 enfold in the early Church. I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts on this with you next week, and hope you’ll weigh-in as well — it seems like a topic that could lend itself well to discussion.