Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do you have faith like a mustard seed?

Image: wikipedia

You might have heard the expression "we should have faith like a mustard seed". I have heard it a few times after I started listening to Christian ministers. I had never heard it before then.

For those interested, it seems to be in 2 places in the Bible:
  1. Luke 17:6 : "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you"
  2. Matthew 17:20: "(...) if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
But what does that mean? Like me, there are probably many people who have asked/prayed for something and believed in it, but not received. Why? The Bible seems to say that only a small amount is enough.

Today I will share 2 different interpretations of what that means, and why we don't see the results we ask for.

Interpretation #1 - The Problem is the Unbelief

According to Andrew Wommack's teaching, having faith the size of a mustard seed means that even if you have a little faith, that is enough.
Additionally, he says that everybody has the same amount of faith. According to Andrew's teaching, when God made us, he put the same amount of faith in everyone. We all have faith the size of a mustard seed.
The reason why some people see more results (ie, what they ask for comes true), is because they have less unbelief.
According to Andrew, as you grow in the Lord, you remove your unbelief, and your wishes will more easily come true.

Interpretation #2 - Quality and not Quantity

Watch this video from 11:27 to 17:38.

What a beautifully emotional and passionate segment!
In it, Joe Amaral explains that it is not the quantity of your faith that matters (ie, is it big or as small as a mustard seed), but rather the quality (are you as strong and tenacious as the mustard plant?).
Besides explaining, he also does a wonderful job of motivating the audience to be strong. If you need faith and encouragement, do watch that segment!


I understand Andrew's point, but at the same time, I see unbelief as lack of faith. In my opinion, he is still saying that the issue is the lack of faith. What he calls faith is the constant faith (as in "he is a man of faith") and what he calls unbelief is a temporary lack of faith (maybe due to stress, fear, etc).

For Joe Amaral, my criticism is regarding the requirement of understanding the culture in order to understand the passage.I believe it is important to understand the culture of Jeseus, but that alone doesn't help us fully understand what the Bible meant. One of the reasons why Christianity has so many denominations is because there can be many different interpretations to the same passage of the Bible - even after understanding Jesus' culture.

Some more food for thought:
  1. Do we ever fully understand a culture? Even when we were brought up in a certain culture, we sometimes only fully understand it once we travel and spend time in another one. Then what about a culture that is 2000 years and many continents removed from us?
  2. We will never clearly know what Jesus meant because He is not here to explain it to us. The Bible was written by the apostles (if I'm not mistaken) many years after Jesus gave the lessons. It was also written in one language, then translated into a few different languages before it was translated to English. A lot can be lost through time and translation, including cultural nuances.

I believe both interpretations are in fact complimentary. Having lack of unbelief (Andrew's interpretation) means being strong in your faith (Joe's interpretation). In other words, it means striving towards consistent faith.

My message is the following: be as persistent and as strong as a mustard plant, by working on building a consistent faith inside of you.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day: Godly character is an invaluable quality, worth far more than anything you could gain or lose by compromising your convictions - Charles F. Stanley.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day: keep venting and eventually you will find the encouragement you need.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Notes from the Joyce Meyer conference - evening of 2014-08-20 - part 5 of 5

22) Dave is a golfer, and he seeks it. He reads about golf, he practices, he watches TV shows about it, etc. He seeks it, he pursues it. 
Revelation: that's what "being passionate" about something means. Dave seeks it because he is passionate about it. I seek God because I am passionate about inner peace. So my job (since in this culture your work has to be what you are passionate about) should be a God seeker. (Lord, thank You for that revelation. I pray that You bring me even more clarity on that.)

23) Nobody has anything that they first didn't get from God.
All your skills and talents were first given to you by God.

24) We are not the owners of anything. We are only the stewards of God's things.

25) This was said by the man in the white suit (didn't get his name, will try to get it tomorrow): 
There's a hole in everyone's heart that only God can fill.
If you fill it with anything other than God, it becomes a black hole: no matter what you put in there, it is never enough.

Notes from the Joyce Meyer conference - evening of 2014-08-20 - part 4 of 5

Go back to Part 1
Go back to Part 2
Go back to Part 3

18) Start looking for what God is doing and not for what he isn't doing.
Somedays I wake up and I have a headache. And I want to complain about it, but then I think "hey, I can walk!"

19) Hosea 6:3
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

20) God likes to play hide & seek with you.
God wants you to seek him.
He wants you to find him throughout the day. (related to item 11)
Every day when you wake up, say: "God, I don't want to miss what you will do in my life today." 

21)  Trust God even when you don't understand, even when it doesn't make sense.

Continue to Part 5

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Notes from the Joyce Meyer conference - evening of 2014-08-20 - part 3 of 5

13) When you wake up in the morning, before you even get your feet out of the bed, say "He is here", and feel God's presence.

14) There is nothing in your life that He is not delighted to fix.

15) Hebrews 1:3: "(...)He upholds the universe by the word of his power." 
He keeps the sun rising and shining every day, He keeps the sun from not shining too much so as to give us a terrible sunburn. He keeps gravity, electricity working.
It was so awesome to hear that because that has always been my definition of God (and one of the reasons why I see no conflict between religion and science - that's topic for another post). I still have it in my Facebook: Nature is my God. - also subject for another post.

16) [For 6 years, every month, Joyce needed a miracle of $40 to pay her bills. And it always happened.]

17) Story about 3 men in a furnace. Then the person who had trapped them in the furnace turned it up 7x higher. How many of you feel like you are in a furnace and instead of getting better it just got 7 times hotter? The men got freed from the bondage (the chains that were holding them prisoners) inside the furnace (it melted the chains away). Lesson: your furnace will eventually melt the chains and make you free.

Continue to Part 4

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Notes from the Joyce Meyer conference - evening of 2014-08-20 - part 2 of 5

8) Give God credit for what He does.

9) God has got you where you are (school, neighbourhood, workplace, etc) for a reason. You are needed there.

10) Every time someone speaks your name, they are calling you what your name means. 
For example, if your name is Victoria, when someone calls you, they are saying you are victorious.

11) Pray to know God more and more each day.
Pray to experience him, to recognise when He is working in your life - even in the little moments when He just lets you know He is there. For example, when little coincidences happen in your life.
[Joyce was thinking about what to teach in this conference, while moving some papers, and one of them fell from the shelf and when she picked it up she noticed it talked about anxiety. So she knew that God was telling her that that was the topic.]
I have those moments all the time. Sometimes it happens to tell me that I shouldn't do something. In those cases, I even talk to God. I tell him "ok, I got Your message, I won't do that."

12) Put your trust in God, not in other people or yourself. 
I can't put my trust in me because sometimes even I can't believe what I do.
Sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I think "how could I do that?", "what was I thinking?"

Continue to Part 3

Notes from the Joyce Meyer conference - evening of 2014-08-20 - part 1 of 5

What a blessed day! I feel so grateful and joyful to have attended Joyce Meyer's conference this evening!

Here are my "raw" notes. The items in italic are my own comments.

The show opened with a story about a Brazilian girl (how appropriate - thanks, God). She talked about her struggles and many of them were also mine (thanks again, O, Wise One!). And the way she talked about her feelings and expressed them was very similar to the way I see and express mine (Oh, Mighty One, thank you again!)

1) Be faithful in the little things, and some day you will be made king over much.
If you have a bicycle and you wish you could afford a car, take good care of your bicycle.
Don't curse it or complain about it.
How can God give you a car if you can't even take care of a bicycle?

2) Don't look to people to provide for you [financially], look for God.

3) (about your purpose in life) When you are not doing anything [while you haven't yet fulfilled/found His purpose for you], God is doing something in you.

4) (about moving) If you are where you don't want to be, don't leave until God releases you. 
This goes straight to all my fellow TCKs around the world, who think moving will fix their sense of belonging. 
I always knew that. I always felt like there was something I needed to resolve before I moved out of Brazil. And it happened just as I felt: the moment I had found a sense of belonging there, and felt like I could be 100% happy there, I got my visa to come to Canada.

5) Whatever your dreams are, God will give you something little to hold on to first.

6) [The footage from today will air on TV in 4 months.]

7) Plan B stands for better.

Go to Part 2

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Feed Your Soul

Image: wikipedia

I hear Joyce Meyer and Andrew Wommack say things like "you have to fill yourself with the word" and "you need to study the bible every day". And I'm sure other Christin preachers and equivalent authorities of other religions say something similar. Their argument is that you need to read the Bible by yourself (and not just listen to their teachings), because when you read it by yourself, you will have your own revelations.

At first that advice bothered me. I would think "are you saying that I will only grow spiritually if I read the bible? That is wrong! What about people from other religions? Plus, I've grown so much without reading it. I've had many revelations on my own".

But then I read Pastor Chris' devotional of July 25. He said "what they [people who are facing difficulties] need is a Word-diet. They have to listen to God's Word (...) until the Word gets rid of their wrong mindset and reprograms them aright for success".

And I realised how much time I spend listening and reading religious teachings, and how I depend on them, how much I yearn for those moments in my daily routine and how much they help me.

So I have concluded that when they say "you should read the Bible", what they mean is that you should take time to study/meditate on religious teachings. Listen to and read people who talk about religion/spirituality, and think about what they are saying and how it applies to you. What can you learn from that? How does that help you?

The basic principle is simple: when you flood your mind with positive ideas and thoughts, you can't help but have faith that God/the Universe is taking care of you and everything will be ok. It is a great way to ward off anger, depression or anxiety.

At some point I also heard Andrew say "you have to saturate yourself with the Word". And he made that exact same point I have just made: when you fill yourself with positive thoughts and words, there is no room for negative and destructive thoughts.

And then as I had a conversation about this with my dad, he mentioned that all those activities (reading and listening to religious teachings) are feeding the soul. Just like we need to feed our body, we also need to feed our soul. When we feed our soul, we find peace. And when we have inner peace, it is easier to receive revelations (which is what Andrew and Joyce want us to have). 

Therefore, when they say "read the Bible" I now hear "feed your soul with positive words".

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day: you want to help so many people and solve so many problems, but you are just one person. You can't do it all alone. You need to get help from other people and/or join efforts with them.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day: getting angry at bad drivers only prolongs the stress. The best way to feel better is to relax and let it go.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day: What is your purpose in life? use your body and mind for something good [as opposed to just making money]. Think about what you'd like to do to make the world a better place. Focus on what you'd like to do to bring love, joy and peace to other people [as opposed to bringing money or closure to you].

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day: remember your successes and how you got there. If you have a setback, stay calm and repeat the same strategy. You will overcome it again. And it will be easier because you've done it before.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day: it might take time, but God does give you what you want - sometimes He even gives you more than what you asked for.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Quote of the day

Quote of the day: God's supply is greater than your need. - Andrew Wommack