The INFJ Handbook is here!

Two years ago this weekend, I published my first INFJ blog post on this site. It seems fitting, then, that I’m releasing my first e-book this weekend and that it is all about INFJs. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Quick introduction to Myers-Briggs type theory
  • Thorough description of the INFJ personality type
  • Discussions of INFJ strengths and weakness
  • Tips for personal growth
  • List of things that INFJs want other people to know
  • Special section on how other types view INFJs
  • True-life stories from five INFJ contributors

A very special thanks to Kerry, Rachel, Johanna, Denise, and Yeni — the INFJs who contributed the stories appearing in this book. You should have already received a free PDF copy of this book at the e-mail address I have on record for you. If not, let me know.

You can purchase this book in the Amazon Kindle store. For this first week only, the book is on-sale for $0.99. It will go back to the regular price of $2.99 next Monday morning.

Avenging and Saving

Avenging and Saving | marissabaker.wordpress.comObadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, and so far the most difficult for me to write about. When I started reading through and studying the minor prophets, I figured I should be able to come up with at least one blog post on each, since “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

About 300 years ago, Matthew Henry’s verse-by-verse commentary covered Obadiah in humbling detail. Reading it made me marvel at the depth of his appreciation for God’s word (he wouldn’t have any trouble coming up with 3 or 4 posts on Obadiah). Where I saw a prophecy against Edom, he saw (among other things) a record of God’s motivation for vengeance, promises of a bright future for God’s people, and some warnings for us as well.

“Vengeance is Mine”

The “vision of Obadiah” is about what the Lord God has to say “concerning Edom,” and none of it’s good.

Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” says the Lord. (Oba. 1:4)

All their allies will turn against them (verse 7), all their wisdom be destroyed (verse 8), and their warriors slaughtered (verse 9). Why such a strong condemnation from our loving God?

For violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. (Oba. 1:10)

God does not look kindly on those who persecute the people He loves, or on those who betray and do violence against family on an individual or national scale. Matthew Henry has this to say:

that one single crime which is laid to their charge, as filling their measure and bringing this ruin upon them, that for which they here stand indicted, of which they are convicted, and for which they are condemned, is the injury they had done to the people of God …. Note, Injuries to men are affronts to God, the righteous God, that loveth righteousness and hateth wickedness; and, as the Judge of all the earth, he will give redress to those that suffer wrong and take vengeance on those that do wrong. (Matthew Henry, notes on Obadiah 1:10-16)

In Luke 18, Christ gives a parable about how even an unjust judge will seek justice on behalf of persistent petitioners. How much more will the just God “speedily” “avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him” (Luke 18:7-8)? Even with these reassurances, though, it can be hard to wait on God. If someone hurt us, we want to hurt them back (or at least see them get their just desserts), and we wonder why it seems like God is taking so long to fulfill His promises. I’m sure that’s how the Israelites felt when they were attacked by enemies then looted and captured by Edom after thinking they’d escaped (Oba. 1:12-14).

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)

When we are struggling to believe that God is there for us, we can look to past examples of God’s deliverance and avenging role for comfort. He does not abandon, and He does not forget.

The righteous God will render both to nations and to particular persons according to their works; and the punishment is often made exactly to answer to the sin, and those that have abused others come to be themselves abused in like manner. The just and jealous God will find out a time and way to avenge the wrongs done to his people on those that have been injurious to them. (Matthew Henry, notes on Obadiah 1:10-16)

Be A Savior

Of course, this has a warning side as well: don’t be the person who God has to seek vengeance against. If we believe God will avenge His people, then we also should believe that there will be consequences if we go around hurting our brethren.

Millstone -- not something you'd want hung around your neck. Photo credit:  Frerk Meyer, CC BY-SA

Millstone — not something you’d want hung around your neck. Photo credit:
Frerk Meyer, CC BY-SA

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt. 18:6)

This is a serious warning. Yet how many times are children scolded in churches for minor transgressions that really boil down to the fact that they’re not adults? How many new converts are made to feel insignificant, unwelcome and devalued because they don’t already know something about our church? How often do supposedly mature Christians squabble, back-bite and spread division?

 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Gal. 5:14-15)

Matthew Henry follows this principle of “being aware” when discussing the Edomites’ transgressions listed in Obadiah. When reading the things God told the Edomites they “should not” have done, Henry turns it around on us.

Note, In reflecting upon ourselves it is good to compare what we have done with what we should have done, our practice with the rule, that we may discover wherein we have done amiss, have done those things which we ought not to have done. We should not have been where we were at such a time, should not have been in such and such company, should not have said what we said, nor have taken the liberty that we took. Sin thus looked upon, in the glass of the commandment, will appear exceedingly sinful. (Matthew Henry, notes on Obadiah 1:10-16)

We want the whole “vengeance is Mine” thing to work on our behalf, but we dare not forget that it can be directed against us as well. If we love God, we will keep His commandments and need not fear Him, but we must always have a healthy respect for Him and His immutable laws.

 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:30-31)

We don’t often like to think of this side of God, but He can be really scary. Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, not a housecat. That’s Someone you want fighting for you, not against you — and that’s what He wants as well.

Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. (Oba. 1:21)

The mountain of Zion shall be saved; on it saviours shall come, the preachers of the gospel, who are called saviours, because their business is to save themselves and those that hear them; and in this they are workers together with Christ, but to little purpose if he by his grace did not work together with them. (Matthew Henry, notes on Obadiah 1:17-21)

That’s what we want — to be saved and to have the privilege of serving alongside Christ to save others. Let’s not endanger that by seeking vengeance for ourselves, attacking our brethren, or drifting away from God’s laws. Rather, let’s trust in God and strive to work alongside Jesus to help others.

Na Na Na Batman!

My younger sister had a birthday this weekend, and we celebrated with Batman. Though the first episode aired 23 years before I was born, my sister and I grew up watching classic Batman on TV Land at our Grandma Baker’s house. Even now, the first thing I think of when I hear someone say “Batman” is the voice of the 1966 narrator talking about the batphone ringing in the “stately home of millionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward, Dick Grayson” as Adam West and Burt Ward run toward the secret batcave access poles in the library.

When the series finally came out on DVD last year, we knew we had to have it. Amazon ran a special earlier this year, and I’ve been hiding the collection in my bookshelf for months praying my sister wouldn’t decide to buy it before her birthday. Well, she didn’t and we’re watching episodes 3 and 4 as I type.

For me, running around on film in cape and cowl doing rather strange square-jawed things was much like playing Batman as a kid. The great difference being tongue planted firmly in cheek. Yes, it is a comedy, but certainly not to kids. — Adam West

I’m enjoying Batman just as much today as I did when a child, but in a different way. As Adam West said in his introduction to the DVD set, the show is a comedy, but I didn’t see it like that as a kid. I laughed, of course, but Batman was a hero to be taken seriously (at least, most of the time). Now, I’m laughing because I get the humor, and much of it is rather clever.

Take the episode we’re watching now, for example. The Penguin doesn’t have any ideas for a dastardly crime when he’s released from prison, so he gives Batman a tricky umbrella that Batman thinks is a clue. The umbrella is bugged, so all Penguin has to do is wait for Batman to figure out what he thinks the Penguin is planning so Penguin can use that plan to commit a crime. Only three episodes in and they’re already using self-referential humor, gently poking fun at Batman’s ability to make sense out of even the most senseless clues. I love it <3

Servants of God Forever

Servants of God Forever | marissabaker.wordpress.comLast week we talked about the future, and what the people of God might be doing in the tribulation leading up to Christ’s return. Today, let’s go a bit father into the future. In Revelation 20, we’re told that the devil will be locked away for 1,000 years while the faithful live and reign with Christ (20:4). At the end of the Millennium, he is released and those who join his rebellion against God are destroyed, and Satan is locked away (20:7-10). This is followed by the second resurrection and final judgement of the dead who were not counted among the firstfruits.

From this point on, we have very little detail. Revelation 21 and 22 gives descriptions of the New Jerusalem and the new heaven and new earth, and we’re told there will be “nations of those who are saved” (21:24). We know “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” giving light to the entire world (21:22; 22:5). One thing we don’t know is exactly what we’ll be doing there. Most speculation I’ve heard assumes we’ll be helping Christ re-build the world and counsel survivors of the tribulation through the Millennium. Some have suggested we might spread out and colonize other planets after that. But we really don’t know. I’ve always thought that if it was really important for us to know, God would have told us. A message I heard a couple weeks ago, though, has me wondering if He did give us some clues after all.

Servants

The Rabbi at my Messianic group was talking a couple weeks ago about patterns that God sets up in how He runs things. In ancient Israel, the Levites were a tribe set apart for God, which this speaker connected to our role today as God’s called-out people. The Rabbi’s focus was on how that affects us today, but I wondered if it might carry over into the future as well, with God re-using this pattern.

Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine. After that the Levites shall go in to service the tabernacle of meeting. So you shall cleanse them and offer them like a wave offering. (Num. 8:14-15)

The Levites — 1 tribe out of 12 — were specifically set aside for God to serve in His tabernacle. Verse 11, here in Numbers 8, calls them “a wave offering from the children of Israel, that they may perform the work of the Lord.” Similar wording is used today, as we’re called to present ourselves to God as an offering.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)

Our lives aren’t our own. When we commit to following God, we pledge everything we are to His service. We are His, and just as He said the Levites “shall be Mine,” so He can call each of us His because He redeemed us.

For they are wholly given to Me from among the children of Israel; I have taken them for Myself instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the children of Israel. For all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them to Myself. I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the children of Israel. (Num. 8:16-18)

Servants of God Forever | marissabaker.wordpress.comBecause of the events that happened on Passover, when the Lord rescued Israel from Egypt, all the firstborn were holy to Him. Instead of having all the firstborn sent to serve in the tabernacle, though, He set aside one tribe for that role. In much the same way, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice made redemption possible for all people, but right now He’s only working with the firstfruits.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

We are purchased with Christ’s blood, bought-back from our enslavement to sin so we can serve God (Rom. 6:15-23). That’s not a role that’s going away any time soon.

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:3-5)

This is in the description of the New Jerusalem. Right before this, it talks about “the nations” who walk in God’s light and are healed by the tree of life (Rev. 21:24-22:2). Then, we see God’s servants mentioned as a separate group. Could that be those who were firstfruits, continuing in their role as servants especially chosen for God’s holy use?

Priests

Not all the Levites served as priests. Even within the tabernacle service there were different roles and responsibilities. Most notable was the fact that there was only one high priest at any given time. Today, the role of High Priest is held by Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:1-6), whose perfect sacrifice fulfilled the sacrifices offered by the Old Covenant high priests. So, where did the rest of the Levites fit in?

And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel in the tabernacle of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come near the sanctuary. (Num. 8:19)

Here, the Levites are described as a gift given to the high priest for service in the tabernacle. This is repeated several chapters later.

 Behold, I Myself have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel; they are a gift to you, given by the Lord, to do the work of the tabernacle of meeting. (Num. 18:6)

This sounds a lot like Jesus’ prayer on the night in which He was betrayed.

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. (John 17:9-10)

Servants of God Forever | marissabaker.wordpress.comGod has given us to His Son, our High Priest, to serve and glorify Him. As quoted earlier, we are God’s temple today. That’s where priests serve — in the temple (or the tabernacle, at the time when Numbers was written). Jesus is in His church as the High Priest in His temple, and we’re right there serving with Him.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9)

Even today, God’s people are described as a priesthood. That role continues into the future — definitely into the Millennium, and quite probably beyond.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev. 20:6)

When you look back at the book of Numbers, both passages we quoted about the Levites’ role as helpers to the high priest emphasized service. That’s also the common thread uniting the two descriptions of God’s people in the future as servants and priests. If we want to work on something that will carry over into the future, serving God by serving His people seems a good place to start. There is an aspect of our future that involves ruling, but to learn to rule with Christ, we must first learn to serve. That’s what Christ did and does (Phil. 2:5-9), it’s what Paul did (Phil. 2:17-18), and that’s what we should be doing.

 

Guest Blogging – “Be A Fruit Loop”

I’m guest posting today over at Affirmations Coffee. A friend of mine runs it, and he and several other writers regularly post encouraging articles. Click here to read my guest post and check out his website.

When Cody asked me to write a guest post for this site, I drew a blank. I knew I wanted to write something encouraging about finding yourself in God or being true to who you are, but couldn’t seem to come up with a specific idea until I saw a fruit loop  on Pinterest …. read more.

Fictional MBTI – Tony Stark (ENTP)

Fictional MBTI - Tony Stark (ENTP) | marissabaker.wordpress.comOn my list of potential blog topics (which I recently lost — the horror!), I had a note that said “Superhero MBTI types from the MCU.” I’ve written about Captain America as an ISFJ and about Loki’s more controversial personality, so I thought we’d continue with that until I come up with a new list of topics (any suggestions?) or read another book from my Classics Club.

I’ve seen Iron Man from the comics typed as an ENTJ or ESTP, but most people agree that in the Tony Stark portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is an ENTP. David Keirsey called this type “The Inventor.” While I often think Keirsey’s type descriptions are too stereotypical, it does fit Tony Stark.

It is so natural for ENTPs to practice devising ingenious gadgets and mechanisms that they start doing it even as young children. And these Inventors get such a kick out of it that they really never stop exercising their inventive talent, though in the workplace they will turn their technological ingenuity to many kinds of systems, social as well as physical and mechanical.

This Personality Hacker video is a pretty good overview for the type. ENTPs lead with a process called Extroverted Intuition (“Exploration” in Personality Hacker’s system). It’s supported by Introverted Thinking (also called “Accuracy”). Their tertiary function is Extroverted Feeling (“Harmony”), and their least developed function is Introverted Sensing (“Memory”). We can see this in Tony Stark’s character throughout the MCU movies.

Exploration/Accuracy

Tony just became an expert on thermonuclear astrophysics. No big deal.

I really love Personality Hacker’s nicknames for the cognitive functions. Antonia Dodge writes that the reason they chose “Exploration” as the name for Extroverted Intuition was because “the best pattern recognition system for the outer world is to mess with everything that can be messed with, and to explore, explore, explore.” Types who use Extroverted Intuition easily bounce from one idea to the next, often out-loud, as they sort through and experiment with different possibilities. This doesn’t mean they can’t focus. They just need to find something that captures their attention. Once they have something to focus on, it can consume them (at least until they understand it well enough to lose interest and move on to the next challenge).

This is where their secondary function, Introverted Thinking, comes in. An ENTP’s Intuition is focused outward gathering information and sorting through data. When they need to think deeply about something, their inward-focused decision-making process comes into play. For ENTPs, this process is concerned with “Accuracy.” Antonia Dodge says the ultimate goal of a type using Accuracy is “information purified from incongruities, inconsistencies and biases which produce clean concepts and an understanding of how things work.”

ENTP Characteristics

Dr. A. J. Drenth in his profile of an ENTP and  Isabel Meyer in her book Gifts Differing both mention several defining characteristics of the ENTP personality type. Let’s look at a few.

  • “Despite their tendency toward restlessness and distractibility, ENTPs can focus when partaking in stimulating discussions or activities” (Drenth). Just witness how focused Tony can be when speaking with Bruce Banner (discussions) or while alone in his private workshop (activities).
  • “ENTPs may not always seem to ‘have a point,’ quickly bouncing from one idea to the next” (Drenth). Tony’s conversation with the other Avengers on the hellicarrier after they catch Loki lasts less than two minuets and the conversation bounces around like this:
    • Begins explanation of Loki’s plan
    • Takes a verbal jab at Thor
    • Continues explanation of portals
    • Notices and comments on the man playing Galaga
    • Questions the design of Fury’s command center
    • More on Loki’s plan, while planting a decryption program
    • Explains his new expertise in thermonuclear physics
    • Introduces himself to Bruce Banner and admires his scientific work and Hulk side
  • “They are more apt to consider how others may affect their projects than how their projects may affect others” (Meyer). Extroverted Feeling — the function ENTPs use to connect with people, is third on their function stack. They use it rather well to read people and manipulate them (Isabel Meyer says, “They enjoy from the cradle a remarkable ability to get what they want”), but people are not the first thing on their priority list. Even in Age of Ultron, where Tony creates Ultron to try and avoid a future where he causes his friend’s deaths, his first focus is on the project, not on how others will react.
  •  “ENTPs scoff at what they see as unnecessary or overly rigid rules, regulations, or procedures” (Drenth). This is the source of much of Tony’s conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D and with Steve Rodgers (interestingly, ISFJs and ENTPs are exact opposites in their function stacks, and can easily act as stressors for one another).
  • When stressed, Naomi Quenk says ENTPs’ inferior function shows up in the form of “withdrawal and depression,” “obsessiveness” and “focus on the body” (i.e. “exaggerated concern about physical ‘symptoms'” of a real or imagined disease). Just watch Iron Man 3.

 

The Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord  | marissabaker.wordpress.comAs I was reading Amos in my quest to write about more verses I don’t often study, some verses about the Day of the Lord caught my eye. It got me thinking about two doctrines I’ve encountered related to what the church will be doing during the great tribulation that precedes Christ’s second coming.

One doctrine, the one taught in the churches where I grew up, says that some believers will be taken to a “place of safety” where God keeps them from the tribulation. The other, taught in most Evangelical and some Messianic churches, says that a “rapture” occurs where Christ catches believers up to heaven before the tribulation starts.

Both these ideas acknowledge that Jesus is coming back in the future to set up His kingdom on earth, and there will be great tribulation throughout the earth before that happens. Rapture doctrine (at least, the pre-trib version) teaches that He will come back twice — once to gather up believers pre-tribulation and once again to set up His millennial reign. The Place of Safety doctrine teaches that some, not all, believers will be taken to a physical place of safety on earth to wait-out the tribulation until Christ’s return. Today, I want to re-think the idea that believers are going to get-out of the tribulation, and what that might mean for our faith.

A Day of Darkness

If you believe that those who are faithful to God are taken out of the world before the great tribulation starts, then praying “thy kingdom come” is easy. We’ll get out of the worst of it and bypass all this judgement stuff so we can finally get to that reward we’ve been promised. But what if it doesn’t work out that way?

What if Revelation 12:13-17 really does mean the church will be taken to a safe place, but you’re part of the commandment-keeping remnant still in the earth and persecuted by the dragon? What if there is a rapture, but it’s mid- or post-tribulation instead of pre-trib?

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him! Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20)

There’s a note on this passage in my study Bible that says, “The people were taking for granted that the ‘Day of the Lord’ would be their day of triumph. Amos reminded them, however, that because of their unbelief and wickedness, it would be a day of judgement for them as well as the other nations.”

This made me think of us in the church, hoping for the end of the world because we know it has to come before Christ’s return, while thinking we might get out of the accompanying tribulation. Well, maybe we will, but I wouldn’t count on it. Matthew 24 clearly states Christ “will gather together His elect” “immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29-31). We have to be ready to stay faithful to God even if we go through the worst tribulation mankind has ever faced. If our faith is contingent upon being raptured away or taken to a place of safety, we could be in trouble.

Our Safe Place

I know this sounds bleak, but one thing we do know is that God’s people will suffer because our Messiah suffered (1 Pet. 2:18-25). If we really are living in the last days (as so many people think) and that includes having to go through the tribulation, I pray we’ll be those who can say “Thy will be done” rather than those who turn away because they were expecting something else.The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

I recently read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. She was a Christian working with the Dutch underground in World War II who was caught and sent to several German concentration camps. At first, I thought the title refered to the secret room where she and her family hid Jews, but I soon found out she meant something else.

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. (Ps. 119:114)

Corrie quotes this verse near the beginning of the book, and again near the end.  Her sister just died, she’s trapped in the medical ward waiting for release from the third camp she’s been held in, and she writes this: “His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will! Don’t let me go mad by poking about outside it.” We don’t need to go anywhere for God to keep us safe. We just need to stay in His will. Our safety doesn’t depend on anything other than our relationship with Him.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” (Ps. 91:1-2)

The New Living Translation has “place of safety” here instead of “fortress.” Reading on in this Psalm, we read of people living with “terror by night” and arrows by day (verse 5) in a place where pestilence and destruction are rampant (verse 6), and people fall dead all around you (verse 7). That’s not a physically safe location, but it doesn’t matter when you are dwelling in God.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling (Ps. 91:9-10)

We’ve all known Christians who’ve suffered — and we’ve probably been a suffering Christian. Clearly, this isn’t a promise for complete physical protection for every follower of God. It is a promise, though, that God won’t let anything happen to us that can’t work out for good (Rom. 8:28).

Keep Watch

We have to constantly work on developing a close relationship with God, and learning to follow Him the way He commands. That’s what’s important — not trying to figure out when He’s returning or if we’ll be raptured or where the place of safety might be. God is our focus, and if we keep our eyes on Him He will work things out.

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matt 24:42-44)

If we knew exactly when and how God’s plan would unfold, there’d be little need for trust or faith as the “evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). We could have everything planned out and controlled and feel assured in our own efforts. but that’s not what God wants. He wants to see what we’ll do when we have to rely on Him completely.

The Day of the Lord | marissabaker.wordpress.comWho then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45-51)

There has been far too much smiting of fellow servants in the churches by people who don’t live like they could find themselves face-to-face with Jesus at any moment. We can’t let our faith slip because we think we have time or that we’ll get a warning. I’ve lost far too many friends to sudden, unexpected causes of death to think there are guarantees in this life.

God doesn’t call us to a life of comfort. He does promise He’ll never leave us and that, if we stay faithful, we will triumph with His son at the end. He doesn’t give us all the answers, but He gives us the only one we need. Grow closer to Him, stay vigilant, and trust Him as your place of safety.

One For The Extroverts

This is a great time to be an introvert. We see articles and books popping up all over the place defining introversion, listings wonderful qualities of introverts, and making sure the extroverts know that introverts are just as good (and dare we imply, better?) than them. Introverts Unite (separately)! Introvert Power!

But I wonder when reading some of these articles if we’ve done the extroverts a disservice. Are we introverts in danger of taking our quest for recognition as extroverts’ equals to the extreme of thinking we’re “better than them”? If people could ever be balanced in a quest for equality, it should be those who study type theory. The very fact that introversion and extroversion is hard-wired into our brains should tell us that not everyone thinks the same, and that’s okay.

So with that in mind, here’s a post for the extroverts. You’re awesome, too. Most of the introverts posts like this are addressed to extroverts with the goal of debunking myths surrounding introversion, so we’ll try and do something similar for assumptions we have about extroverts.

1. Extroverts are Intelligent and Sensitive

Let’s get two things straight right from the get-go: introverts don’t have a monopoly on intelligence or sensitivity. Extroverts can be intelligent (and introverts can be unintelligent). Extroverts can be sensitive (and introverts can be insensitive). In fact, the Sensory Processing Sensitivity trait is independent of introversion and 30% of the people who qualify as Highly Sensitive are extroverts. At least two of my extroverted friends are HSPs, and even the ones that aren’t are way more in-tune with their own and other people’s feelings than most introverts give them credit for.

2. “Extrovert” Doesn’t Equal “Social”

Introverts tend to think of extroverts as the people who crave the society of others, and who have an annoying habit of trying to drag introverts out of their shells. But extrovert doesn’t necessarily mean someone who is always social. It means someone who is oriented to the the outer world of people, places, and/or things. They are more likely to recharge among other people than alone, but not always. This is especially true of the more “introverted extroverts” like ENFJs and ENTJs. As one article puts it, ““Extrovert” is not Latin for “has Red Bull flowing through veins.””

3. Extroverts Can Be Shy

Often, the extroverts who tell introverts that we can “recover” from our introversion think this because they were shy as kids and assume “introvert” is the same thing they experienced when they were shy. Shyness is not the same  as introversion, and it isn’t an uniquely introvert phenomena. Extroverts can also suffer from shyness and social anxiety. It might actually be harder for them, because at least as a shy introvert you are oriented to living inside your head, whereas an extrovert who is shy wants to be around people but is also terrified of them at the same time.

4. Extroverts Get Things Done

I recently saw someone ask what the world would look like if introverts were in charge. Most of the responses (all from introverts) were along the lines of “peaceful,” “harmonious,” and “quiet.” The first think I thought? Nothing would ever get done. We’d be so busy trying to avoid conflict that the world would fall apart. As a society, we need extrovert’s energy to connect people, force conflict resolutions, advocate for change, and step-up as leaders. Can introverts do that? sure. But many extroverts thrive in those roles and find that it comes naturally to them.

5. Extroverts Do Think

This should be obvious, but even for those of us who know deep-thinking extroverts there can still be an assumption that most extroverts just word-vomit whatever pops into their heads and dash through life acting instead of thinking. Granted many extroverts do love to talk and sometimes words get out that haven’t gone through a filter yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think deeply about things. If you’ve spent any one-on-one time at all with an extrovert, it quickly becomes obvious that they aren’t all shallow. Most of my closest friends are extroverts, and I’ve learned to value their insights and thoughts on a wide range of subjects.

If you’re an extrovert, what is it that you wish people understood about you? If you’re an introvert, what do you love about the extroverts in your life?

Sins As Scarlet

Sins As Scarlet | marissabaker.wordpress.com

bg image credit: Nevil Zaveri

When we were in Joel last week, the final verse started me thinking on the subject of God’s power to cleanse sin. We know God forgives sin, but do we believe that He will really forgive us? Our sins have separated us from God (Is. 59:2) — will He really take us back? Or if we don’t think that about ourselves, maybe we think someone else’s sins are too big for God to forgive.

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” (Luke 7:40-43)

This isn’t to say we should commit sins so we can love God more, but when we have sinned God delights in forgiving those who turn to Him. He wants to turn seemingly impossible situations and seemingly irredeemable people into something good. (As a side note, this is the verse that always pops into my head when I hear people say they doubt God could forgive someone like Hitler).

Invitation to Forgiveness

God’s goal is for all the people He created to repent and be saved. There will be some who out-right reject Him (Rev. 20), and they will be punished, but what he wants is a restored relationship with all men.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword;” for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Is. 1:18-20)

This is an amazing passage. It’s like God is inviting His people to sit down and talk things over with Him. That’s one thing I love about Isaiah — the honesty and genuineness of God revealed in His messages to Israel. He really bares His heart, telling them how much He cares and how much He wants them to come back to Him so He can forgive and bless them.

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.” (Is. 43:25-26)

He doesn’t cleanse us because we deserve it, but because He is love and because He’s in the business of restoration.

Asking For Purity

Probably the most famous prayer for spiritual cleansing is David’s Psalm 51. This records how David asked for forgiveness after he committed adultery and murder, and because of his truly repentant heart God continued working with him even after these horrible sins.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Ps. 51:7)

Hyssop is an interesting herb in the Bible. It’s used ritualistically as a cleansing or purifying symbol (Lev. 14:1-7, 33-53; Num. 19:1-6), likely because it was literally used as a cleaning agent. Today, we’re finding out that hyssop oil has measurable antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Perhaps this connection with purification is why it was used at the first Passover.

 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” (Ex. 12:21-23)

Sins As Scarlet | marissabaker.wordpress.com

bg image credit: Nevil Zaveri

With the Passover picturing Christ’s death, the hyssop (John 19:29) and blood signify not just “passing over” sins, but also removing them completely. The means by which our “red as scarlet” sins are made “white as snow” is washing in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14).

It makes sense, then, that the only sins we’re told God will not pardon involve rejecting Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 6:4-6) and blaspheming God’s spiritual, redemptive Power (Matt. 12:31-32). You can’t be forgiven if you reject and hate the way to forgiveness. But that’s the only thing God can’t forgive. All those things we humans think of as the “worst” sins — the kinds of things David did, for example — those God can work with if we repent and ask Him to help us change.

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver in Lilliput, illustration from a 19th-century edition of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

If you don’t count the children’s Great Illustrated Classics version of Gulliver’s Travels, then my first encounter with Jonathan Swift’s writings was “A Modest Proposal.” I loved it. Swift’s type of satire is one reason people are still saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Words are powerful, and if used well they can re-make society, destroy high-ranking people, and quite possibly get the writer in serious trouble.

Gulliver’s Travels was one of the first novels I chose for my Classics Club book list. I’d read excerpts from the Lilliput section when putting together a high school British literature course for my homeschooled brother, but this was the first time I’d read the entire novel.

The first two sections — “A Voyage to Lilliput” and “A Voyage to Brobdingnag” — read most like a fantastical travel-log, and if not for the footnotes in my Norton Critical Edition I would have missed quite a bit of the satire here, because so much of it was specific to Swift’s time period and to certain people in power while he was writing. The last two sections — “A Voyage to Laputa” and “A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms” — contained more general satire about the human race, which I think translated better to today. Here, we have priceless descriptions of things like lawyers:

I said, there was a Society of Men among us, bred up form their Youth in the Art of proving by Words multiplied for the Purpose that White is Black, and Black is White, according as they are paid. To this Society all the rest of the People are Slaves. For example, if my neighbour has a mind to my cow, he has a lawyer to prove that he ought to have my cow from me.  I must then hire another to defend my right, it being against all rules of law that any man should be allowed to speak for himself.  Now, in this case, I, who am the right owner, lie under two great disadvantages: first, my lawyer, being practised almost from his cradle in defending falsehood, is quite out of his element when he would be an advocate for justice, which is an unnatural office he always attempts with great awkwardness, if not with ill-will.  The second disadvantage is, that my lawyer must proceed with great caution, or else he will be reprimanded by the judges, and abhorred by his brethren, as one that would lessen the practice of the law. …

Gulliver in discussion with Houyhnhnms, 1856 illustration by J.J. Grandville

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever has been done before, may legally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice, and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.”

By the end of the novel, I didn’t like Gulliver as a character, but as a narrative vehicle for Swift’s satire he was perfect. He’s annoyingly narrow-minded and Anglocentric for much of the narrative, until he completely flips the other direction after living with the Houyhnhnms. It’s a marvelous bit of writing. First, his criticism of the unfamiliar Lilliputian, Brobdingnag, and Laputa cultures highlights what is most laughable or deplorable in our own society. But just when we’re ready to condemn humanity for it’s lack of logic, ridiculous methods of government, insistence on violence, and a whole host of other flaws Swift brilliantly satirizes, Gullliver decides he hates the very people he’s been defending this whole narrative.

Once he’s expelled by the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver would literally rather die than go back to living among humans. He can’t stand the smell, touch, or society of people who lack the Houyhnhnms “Government of Reason.” You might think Swift is saying, along with Gulliver, that people are disgusting and that’s his take-away message. Yet it is Gulliver who has now become ridiculous, and I think Swift finishes this book by satirizing his own narrator’s conclusions about the human race. Just because Swift notices the flaws in society and his fellow man doesn’t mean he abandons all hope for us.