The Lord’s Wonderful Faithfulness Toward Us

We often talk about our faith–faith toward God, faith in His promises, faith that He really does exist and that He really is God. In addition to that, the Bible frequently talks about God’s faith toward us. He is described as “faithful” in all His dealings with humanity, and it’s often in the context of praise.

I’ve noticed myself thanking God for His faithfulness in many of my prayers lately. I love the reassurance of knowing God is faithful. We can anchor our hope in that truth, knowing He won’t fail us. He’s constant, reliable, and committed. His faithfulness is a fact that doesn’t change, but sometimes we can lose sight of or forget about it, which lets doubts and worries get a foothold in our lives. The crazier life gets, the more we need to remember the faithfulness of God in order to stay confidently grounded in our faith through the storms of life.

Faithfulness in His Work

God’s faithfulness has been part of all His dealings from the beginning. One psalmist wrote, “All his work is done in faithfulness” (Ps. 33:4, WEB). Those works include creation, His dealings with people, the covenants He made, and the promises He gives us for a good future.

Yahweh, you are my God. I will exalt you! I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago, in complete faithfulness and truth.

Isaiah 25:1, WEB

From our more limited perspective, it might sometimes seem as if the world and its history are random, chaotic, and miserable. But since the very beginning, God has been working on (and doing) wonderful things. He shares details about that work with us in the Bible, and invites us to be part of the continuing work today.

For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6, NET

Paul doesn’t use the word “faithfulness” in this verse, but that’s the concept He’s talking about. God will always be who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. That’s what makes Paul’s confidence possible. And because God’s faithfulness is unchanging, we can also have the same confidence today that Paul had nearly 2,000 years ago. God started a good work in us when He called us into His family, and He’s not going to give up on us.

Faithfulness in His Life and Death

Paul speaks more directly about God’s faithfulness in Romans, where he connects it with righteousness and Jesus’s sacrifice. In this letter, Paul is talking about the role of the Law for New Covenant believers and the transition from keeping the letter of the Law under the Old Covenant to keeping the spirit of the Law under the New Covenant.

Today, under the New Covenant, Paul writes that the “righteousness of God” has been revealed “apart from the law” to those who had been under the law (the Jewish people and ancient Israel) as well as to “the whole world” (Rom. 3:19-21). This happens “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom. 3:22).

God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.

Romans 3:25-26, NET

God’s faithfulness finds its ultimate expression in Jesus Christ, who faithfully held up His part of the covenants He made with people and died to make a new, better covenant possible. We live because of Jesus’s faithfulness, and we can trust that the Father (who was willing to give up His Son for us) and the Son (who was willing to give up His life for us) will remain faithful into the future as well.

Faithfulness in Relation to Us

After reaching this point in our study of faithfulness, it’s no wonder that the psalms are filled with praise for God’s wonderful faith toward us. What can be more amazing than the Creator Lord of the Universe committing Himself to you, and me, and every believer? We ought to be in awe of His faithfulness and of the incredible love at its core.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give him thanks.
Praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His loyal love endures,
and he is faithful through all generations.

Psalm 100:4-5, NET

I will give you thanks before the nations, O Lord.
I will sing praises to you before foreigners.
For your loyal love extends beyond the sky,
and your faithfulness reaches the clouds.

Psalm 108:3-4, NET

These Psalmists could praise the Lord’s faithfulness like this even before Jesus came as the Messiah. How much more cause do we have now to sing praise, knowing what we know today and being recipients of His grace? We have such incredible proof of God’s faithfulness recorded in scripture, both in the stories of faithful believers and in the reality of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Many of us (perhaps all of us reading this) have also all been on the receiving end of His faithfulness. Accepting Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf lets us participate in one of the most significant proofs of God’s faithfulness, and if you’re like me you also have an abundance of other examples of God’s faithfulness showing up in your life. Today, I invite you to join me in meditating on the Lord’s faithfulness toward you and the proofs of His ongoing faithfulness in scripture. Though other parts of our lives might seem unstable, unreliable, or unpredictable God is faithful. We can trust Him to be exactly who He says He is, do exactly what He says He’ll do, and never give up on the work He has begun inside us.

Featured image by Temi Coker via Lightstock

What Would the Myers-Briggs® Types Be Like as RPG Classes?

As I mentioned in a blog post a couple weeks ago, one of my big projects for my first semester of grad school is a paper that’s currently titled “A Rhetorical Analysis of the Literature Surrounding the Intersection of Role-Playing Games, Race, and Identity.” Though this project had nothing to do with personality type, any time I start thinking about questions of identity I also start thinking about how someone’s Myers-Briggs® type might play a role.

One of the great things about role-playing games (RPGs) is that players get to act-out different types of identities that we can’t or won’t explore in the real-world. The shy intellectual human can play as a charming, live-in-the-moment elf bard. The clumsy, bubbly person who attracts attention just by walking into a room can slip into the character of a sneaky gnome rogue. In real-life when making game-play decisions, people often choose characters who are very different from themselves. For purposes of this post, though, I’d like to think about what type of character the different Myers-Briggs® types might be if class was based on personality traits.

While this isn’t a particularly significant topic in relation to personal growth, I think it’s fun to write these sort of pop-culture Myers-Briggs® posts every once in a while. The stereotypes for RPG classes are an oversimplification of personality traits, of course, so let’s also keep in mind that there’s a lot of individual variation within types in real life and not everyone will identify with the broad generalizations in this post.

For those not all that familiar with RPG games, you can think of classes sort of like professions, or descriptions of a character’s particular skill set. They typically involve fantasy elements, though there are also plenty of RPGs that take place in a science fiction setting or alternate versions of our own world. I’ll be drawing from two lists of common character classes for this post that aren’t specific to any one game: “Standard RPG Classes and Characters” from Gameaboo and “Fantasy Character Classes” from TV Tropes.

ENFJ – Mage

ENFJs are well-known for being a type that makes great leaders and counselors. Many choose real-life careers like teacher, coach, or pastor. The ENFJs I know also seem to be good at just about anything they put their minds to, and they can fit in with any group they want. I chose the Mage class for them because there are so many subclasses within it–including priest, cleric, and enchanter–that could fit ENFJ’s unique blend of people-loving extrovert and big-picture-thinking intuitive.

ENTJ – Wizard

For most RPGs, the wizard class refers to people who’ve learned their powers through academic study and discipline. They didn’t just stumble into or inherit their class–they deliberately chose a goal and worked hard to achieve it. In real-life, ENTJs’ favorite mental process is one that Personality Hacker describes as “intrinsically fascinated by measurements, goal setting and improvements.” This type has the discipline to learn difficult things, and often an interest in tackling challenging life goals.

INFJ – Scholar

One of my favorite character ideas that I haven’t actually used in a game (yet) is a knowledge-domain cleric with a scholar background. I feel like she fits my INFJ-nature perfectly. INFJs are often bookish people who enjoy collecting information and facts, then putting it to good use to help people in clever ways. We’re often stereotyped as the counselor, dreamer, sage type and that fits the scholarly archetype of fantasy games quite well.

INTJ – Rogue

The thief/assassin/rogue class has been a core archetype for RPG games since these games were first invented. They tend to be intelligent, perceptive, and highly skilled in very specific ways. Depending on the game, this is the class that offers a “Mastermind” specialization (which is also one of the most popular nicknames for the INTJ type). Deliberate, logical, and think-outside-the-box INTJs probably won’t identify with all of the rogue stereotypes, but I still think it’s a good choice for them.

ENFP – Swashbuckler

I like the Swashbuckler archetype for ENFPs for several reasons (including because it makes me think of The Scarlet Pimpernel). Swashbucklers are charming entertainers, yet they also fall in to a classically heroic archetype. In real-life, many ENFPs enjoy being the center of attention and they also passionately champion their favorite causes and/or people. I think this class is a good fit for the ENFP’s characteristic blend of pizzazz, spontaneity, and adherence to their core values.

ENTP – Sorcerer

The sorcerer class typically uses in-born magic, which can be as wild and unpredictable as it is powerful. Depending on mechanics for the specific game, they may also be very charismatic characters. I’ve written several posts about how ENTPs are typically portrayed in fiction, and they’re often insanely clever, charming, and independent sorts of people. Things that other types find challenging (like charming a room full or people or coming up with a brilliant idea at the last minute) often seems to come naturally to ENTPs.

INFP – Druid

Nature magician seems an obvious choice for the stereotypically gentle, peaceful INFPs who often love animals, plants, and the natural world. Druids also tend to be more reclusive types of magic users, shunning “normal” society for a different path in life, much like INFPs tend to care more about authenticity than about fitting in with other people. Druid could fit other introverted, nature-loving types as well, but I decided to give them to the INFPs.

INTP – Artificer

What better class for the personality often stereotyped as a “mad scientist” than the Artificer (also called Engineer, Tinkerer, or Alchemist)? Characters with this class beat their enemies and help their friends by coming up with clever gadgets. Rather than relying on fantasy magic (though some of these characters may use that as one of their tools), they usually use on technology and their own minds to solve problems and navigate complicated situations.

ESFJ – Cleric

In real-life, ESFJs are often seen as the caring, motherly personality that’s the first on the scene if friends or family need help. If you know any ESFJs, you may also know them as no-nonsense people who, if the situation calls for it, can be just as intimidating as they are kind. Seems perfect for the cleric/healer class who’s always there to support the party during a fight.

ESTJ – Warlord

I initially had “Summoner” here (a class that joins forces with another, more powerful creature and then summons/draws on that creature or its power to do significant battle damage), then an ESTJ on Twitter suggested “Warlord” as a better option. The Warlord class is a type of fighter that specializes in tactics, leadership, and support to make the entire party more efficient. It really does seem a perfect fit for the ESTJ type.

ISFJ – Paladin

Whenever I think of ISFJs, the first people that come to mind are Captain America and my dad. Most of you don’t know my dad, but you probably recognize how perfectly Captain America fits into the archetype of a good person fighting for what’s right. That’s basically the description of a paladin from RPGs as well.

ISTJ – Fighter

Fighters are typically the strongest class and one of the most highly specialized in non-magical skills. They’re not all that concerned with complex, arcane mysteries or with learning hidden skills and information. Rather, they’re the sort of people out at the front of the battle putting themselves at risk to keep their party safe. Like most SJ types, ISTJs typically have a strong sense of duty that makes them a great fit for the classic heroic archetypes like knight/fighter/warrior.

ESFP – Bard

Bards are my favorite characters to play, possibly because they’re just about my exact opposite. Bards are the most charming performers, the character who can talk anyone into doing anything, and among the most imaginative characters (you have to be inventive if you’re going to try and fight evil monsters with a flute). Seems a good fit for the personality type commonly nicknamed “The Performer” or “The Entertainer.”

ESTP – Barbarian

SP types are considered the most physical, in-the-moment of the personalities since their favorite mental process is so good at quickly processing and responding to incoming sensory data. The Barbarian or Berserker class describes characters who thrive when they’re in the middle of the action, up-close-and-personal with whatever challenges they’re facing, and so that’s why I chose them for the ESTP type.

ISFP – Monk

The Monk class is often a fighter-type character that’s powered by a focused, internal energy. They blend physicality with meditation and martial arts skills. Depending on the game, they might be more self-sufficient than some of the other classes since they have both physical skills and magical abilities. Real-life ISFPs are often called Artists because they blend their SP outer-world skills with inner-world focus on authentic self-expression, which is why they remind me of RPG Monks.

ISTP – Ranger

The Archer/ Hunter/ Ranger class archetype is highly skilled at surviving on their own out in the wild. I could have picked from quite a few different adventuring classes for ISTPs (see Susan Storm’s article “Why ISTPs Make the Best Action Heroes“), but Rangers seemed to me like an especially good fit.

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Let me know what you thought of this post. Would you have picked a different class for your type? Do you enjoy playing RPGs? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Our Daily Bread

We recently observed Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot). I suppose studying what the Bible has to say about bread is an obvious topic after that, but it’s been a more interesting study than I’d expected for something that seems so basic. Even the Lord’s model prayer that so many of us memorize talks about bread, and it has more to say on that topic than I’d assumed. Bread also acts as a spiritual symbol in scripture–Jesus calls Himself the “Bread of Life” and Paul talks about what kind of bread we’re supposed to be.

Bread for Each Day

So pray this way:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,
may your kingdom come,
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13, NET

The phrase “our daily bread” involves a curious word. In Greek, “daily” is epiousios (G1967) and it’s only used here and in Luke’s account of this same prayer. It’s not even used outside of the Bible anywhere but other “early Christian literature,” which makes the meaning hard to figure out (NET footnote). “Daily” is just a best-guess for the translation. Other suggestions include “the coming day,” “for existence” (NET footnote), “the bread of our necessity,” and “the bread that suffices for each day” (Thayer’s dictionary).

I wonder if, in using a word that indicated sufficient, needed bread for each day, Jesus might have been thinking about Proverbs 30. Here, Agur asks for two things from God: “Remove falsehood and lies far from me; do not give me poverty or riches” (Prov. 30:7-8, NET). This last one might seem an odd request–who wouldn’t want to be rich?–and Agur provides further details.

feed me with my allotted portion of bread,
lest I become satisfied and act deceptively
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I become poor and steal
and demean the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9, NET

It seems there’s as much of a danger in feeling as if you are “rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing” (to quote the Laodiceans from Revelation 3) as there is in being so poverty stricken that you’re in danger of starving. Neither extreme is healthy, and so balance in prosperity is a prayer worth praying. We need balance–both in the physical things like Agur is talking about and in the spiritual things that Jesus is talking about in the letter to Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22).

I usually think of the request in the model prayer as asking for provision of needs, with bread standing in for all the things like food and clothing that Jesus tells us we don’t need to worry about just a little later in this same sermon (Matt. 6:25-34). I recently heard someone point out, though, that the focus of this prayer isn’t on physical things. It’s about honoring God’s name, praying for His will and His kingdom, and asking for forgiveness and deliverance. There’s no reason not to assume physical provision is included, but it’s likely that Jesus also intended for us to think about spiritual bread. He is, after all, the bread of life.

Living Bread from Heaven

After one of the loaves and fishes miracles (recorded in John 6), Jesus crossed over to the other side of a lake and the whole multitude followed Him. There, He told them they’d followed Him not because they believed He was the Messiah or because they saw miracles, but because they’d eaten a free meal. He advised them, “Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life” (John 6:27, NET). To work for this eternal food, they must do “the deed God requires—to believe in the one whom he sent” (6:29). Then, these same people who’d just seen Jesus turn five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food for more than 5,000 people with 12 baskets full of leftovers, actually asked Him, “what miraculous sign will you perform, so that we may see it and believe you?” They even brought up the manna in the wilderness miracle, showing full well that they knew they’d seen one bread miracle and were asking for another (John 6:30-31).

Jesus and His Father weren’t focused on delivering physical bread this time, though. There wasn’t going to be a repeat of free food on the ground every morning when the Israelites woke up (Ex. 16:4-36). Rather, they’d planned a far more enduring way to satisfy a deeper, spiritual hunger. Yes, Jesus fed the people when they were hungry but the plan was to go far beyond providing for physical needs. Just as Jesus was here on earth to take the Law and the Covenants to a deeper, higher, fuller level, He did the same thing with the miracle of bread from heaven.

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. … the one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

John 6:48-51, 54-55, NET

This brings us right back to where we started this post: Passover and Unleavened Bread. Jesus’s flesh is symbolized by the bread and His blood by the wine that form the core symbols of the New Covenant Passover (Matt. 26:26-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). The invitation for us to eat this bread from heaven is also an invitation to be part of His covenant community and be sustained by God.

Our Unleavened Lives

Grace and salvation through Jesus Christ are gifts that we can do nothing to earn. Once we accept those gifts, though, we enter a reciprocal covenant relationship with God. We are supposed to respond a certain way after we’ve received grace. In other words, it is because of the Bread of Life that we ourselves can take on the characteristics of a very particular kind of bread.

Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let’s keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Cor. 5:7-8, WEB

Because we “eat” the Bread of Life, we become “unleavened” bread. Symbolically during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, leaven represents sin. Eating unleavened bread for that seven-day festival pictures us putting sin out of our lives and replacing it with His character. During the remaining days of the year, though we are free to eat yeasted and otherwise leavened breads, the importance of turning to God to fill all our needs (including our need to daily take-in Jesus Christ) remains the same.

God is concerned about our physical needs. He appreciates it when we choose not to fret about where we’ll get our physical daily bread and instead ask Him to provide (as Jesus did in His model prayer), trusting that He can and will take care of us. Even more than that, though, He is concerned about supplying our spiritual needs because that has eternal ramifications. We also ought to pray for God to “give us today our daily Bread of Life,” trusting that He will satisfy our spiritual hunger.

Featured image by FotoshopTofs from Pixabay

The Rightness of Trusting God’s Will Even When It’s Scary

One of the most astonishing statements in all of scripture was made on Passover evening nearly 2000 years ago, on the night in which Jesus was betrayed. Knowing exactly what was about to happen, Jesus still prayed “not my will but yours be done” (Matt. 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46). This is the ultimate example of meekness–power submitted to the will of God. Jesus could have asked His Father for “more than twelve legions of angels” to free Him from the arresting mob if He’d wanted to(Matt. 26:51-45). Instead, He said, “Father, if this cup cannot be taken away from me unless I drink it, your will must be done” (Matt. 26:42).

Scripture describes Jesus as being “anguished and distressed” and feeling “deeply grieved” in His soul. Emotionally, that sounds like just about as bad as it can get for a human being. Yet even in such a dire situation, He prayed for God’s will to be done. I suspect He even prayed that in part because of the dire situation, using His conviction that God can be trusted and that His will is best to carry Him through what lay ahead.

For us today, who’ve committed to following Jesus’s example, “Your will be done” should also be our prayer during times of testing and trouble (as well as in good times). That’s not always easy to say, though. We might even be afraid or reluctant to pray for God’s will to be done, especially when the future seems uncertain. It comes down to an issue of trust and perspective.

God Knows Best

I often think about the spiritual implications of my struggles with anxiety. If I give in to catastrophizing and fear, what does that say about my level of (mis)trust in God? Connecting that idea to today’s post, it seems that whether or not we want to pray, “Your will be done,” is often tied-in to all those fears and worries. Is God really good all the time? Does He care enough to make this situation work out for me? What if praying for His will means I don’t get what I want or need?

I think we need to reject shaming people (including ourselves) for weaknesses and fears, and rather encourage each other to keep choosing trust and faith over and over again. Anxieties are “afflictions, not sins” (to quote C.S. Lewis), though they can lead us into sin if we let them. Overcoming fear is an ongoing process and it involves conscious choice, including the choice to trust that God knows what He’s doing.

We know that we should pray for God’s will to be done, but we’re often afraid to. Why? Because we do not trust that His will is best for us. We think His agenda and ours are by nature at odds with one another.

Because of our corruption, they may in fact be at odds. But if we could see the whole picture, we would understand that it is our own will that falls short of fulfilling our well-being, not His.

CHRIS TIEGREEN, 365 POCKET DEVOTIONS, DAY 114

It’s often easy to pray, “May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, NET). When it’s less personal, sometimes it’s easier to wrap our minds around the idea that God changing things and making them better is a good thing (especially when it’s becoming more and more clear how much suffering and corruption is in the world). But it’s often harder to pray, “May your will be done (not mine)” in very personal situations that affect us immediately and directly (especially if we have a preferred outcome in mind). And yet that’s exactly what Jesus did, and what His disciples do.

His Good Plans Will Come to Pass

Paul’s a great example of one of Jesus’s disciples who submitted his own will and plans for his life to God. He started out by persecuting those who believed in Jesus the Messiah, then completely changed his life in response to God making His will known. That cost Paul greatly in terms of physical things, but also blessed him richly in terms of spiritual things.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written before about Paul’s view on trials–“that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the coming glory that will be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18, NET). It might not seem at first as if he’s talking about God’s will here, but he is. Going back to Romans 7:14-21, we find Paul describing the struggle between his unspiritual self and the spiritual law of God–his will versus God’s will. Next, Romans 8:1-17 talks about the leading of God’s spirit and Him saving us from sin, which is something He desires/wills for all people (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Then, Paul describes a struggle in creation, which was not willingly “subjected to futility … in hope,” but as part of God’s will for adopting children into His family (Rom. 8:19-26).

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will. And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose …. What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:27-28, 31, NET

God has a plan. It’s a good plan. And because He’s the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe, His good plans for each of us and the whole of creation will come to pass. When we keep this in mind, there’s no need for us to fearfully grasp for control or to worry and fret about the future (Matt. 6:25-34).

We Follow in Christ’s Footsteps

I recently started reading C.S. Lewis’s collection of passages from George MacDonald’s writings. One of the quotes which caught my eye says that because God “is against sin,” sometimes it also feels as if He is against the things that we want, strive for, and dream about. Which might actually be the case, if we’re still living lives influenced by sin, but God is never against us. When God is against someone’s sinful desires,” He is altogether and always for them” (Unspoken Sermons, First Series, The Consuming Fire). God is for us, and sometimes that means showing us that the things we want aren’t good for us. MacDonald also said that God’s “wrath will consume what they call themselves so that the selves God made shall appear” (same source). Coming to the Light isn’t always a comfortable process, but it is always good for us.

What these quotes make me think of is the fact that because God’s will and His love always work for good in the end, sometimes the immediate result of submitting to His will is painful, as it was for Jesus. Jesus knew, though, that His suffering was part of God’s plan to bring about good for the whole world, and things happened exactly as the Father purposed (Acts 4:27-28). Jesus prayed for God’s will knowing with absolute certainty “that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3, NET). We also know that He focused on “the joy set out for him” when “he endured the cross, disregarding its shame,” and that He “has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12: 2, NET). Following His example, we can also pray for God’s will to be done knowing that God has good things in store for us and for the entire world.

Thinking about Jesus’s trust in His Father also adds another layer to how we can understand the verse, “Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons” (Heb. 12:7, NET). Jesus did not need to be disciplined in order to correct bad behavior (since He never sinned), but He certainly suffered. Scripture is clear that following in His footsteps will involve suffering (sometimes from the world, sometimes as an attack from spiritual evil, and sometimes as part of God’s refining process that’s meant to strengthen us and help us grow). When we suffer, we know that we’re not going through anything that Jesus wasn’t willing to go through as well; God is not treating us any differently than He did His only begotten son. We also know that we can look forward to the same goal that Jesus focused on–the goal of eternal life together with God, as a family. We can also pray “your will be done” knowing that God is faithful, that He knows what He’s doing, and that He will work things out for good in the end.

Featured image by Jantanee via Lightstock

Getting Comfy With Your INFJ Personality Type

It’s been quite some time since I published a post about personality types. Since starting grad school last August, the time I have to spend writing on my more personal projects has been limited. I still Bible study every morning, which turns into the posts I share each Saturday, but I haven’t been researching and writing about personality types nearly as much.

Don’t get me wrong–I still find personality type fascinating and knowing I’m an INFJ is a key part of how I understand myself. I just haven’t had time to read typology books or blogs, or think all that much about topics related to Myers-Briggs® that I want to write about. My writing time is focused on things like “A Rhetorical Analysis of the Literature Surrounding Role-Playing Games, Race, and Identity” and a scholarly book review of John R. Gallager’s Update Culture. I might share links to those somewhere on this blog if/when they’re published, but they don’t really fit with the theme “finding our true selves in the people God created us to be” or with my interest in personality types.

One type-related topic I have been thinking about, though, is that I feel like I’m “settling in” to my type. Which I think is a good thing, but it also makes me feel a bit less motivated to constantly research and write about INFJs. Over the past several years, either in comments on this blog or emails through my contact form, I’ve occasionally heard from INFJs who talk about having (mostly) moved past the awkwardness of being INFJ. They talk about being happy, feeling balanced, and seeing their type as a strength or a neutral thing rather than a weakness or something that makes them particularly unique.

In the online INFJ community, we often talk about things like how different we feel from other people, how tempted we are to door slam those who irritate or hurt us, and how we’re a target for unhealthy people like narcissists. It’s easy to think of being INFJ as a burden, or a thing that sets us apart, or something people will never understand. I’ve been there, clinging to my INFJ label like a life preserver that makes the weirdness of your life make sense. And I think there’s a place for that, especially when you first learn about your personality type. The feeling of relief that you’re not alone or broken is one that many INFJ (most that I’ve talked with, in fact) mention when they talk about first discovering their personality type. Normalizing experiences like feeling alien, struggling to communicate, and seeing the world differently helps us realize that 1) there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with our personality and 2) other people really can understand us and they can help us figure out how to be in the world as INFJs.

That initial realization that we’re INFJ and embracing that identify is often the strongest way we relate to our personality type. But the way we relate to our type can change, and I think it probably should as part of personal growth. Based on conversations I’ve had with older INFJs, I suspect that if we were to chart the stages of a typical INFJ’s journey, it might look like this:

  • Recognizing that there’s something different about you
  • Learning about personality types and realizing that INFJ fits you really well
  • Seeking to learn about your type and learn from other INFJs
  • Accepting your personality quirks and figuring out how to manage your strengths and weaknesses
  • Settling into life as an increasingly mature, balanced example of an INFJ

Of course, this is an overgeneralization and it doesn’t account very well for the many people who aren’t sure if they’re an INFJ or another type like an INFP or INTJ. It does reflect what I’ve heard from many INFJs, though, and I think it will resonate with a lot of my readers. I’d love to hear what you think of this idea in the comments!

Right now, I think I’m somewhere in those last two bullet points. I’ve firmly embraced my weirdness, even more so than when I wrote a post about that topic two years ago. I finally went back to school. I’m managing the anxiety and depression I’ve struggled with for more than half my life in a much healthier way. I’m leaning in to the interpersonal strengths of my INFJ type and finally developing my Extroverted Feeling side so I can teach and tutor students. And it feels pretty good.

Wherever you are on your INFJ journey, I hope you’re doing well. I hope you’ve been able to connect with other INFJs (whether in person, on blogs like this one, or using social media), to learn helpful information about your personality type, and to grow toward living a fuller, happier life. And I hope we’ll all keep learning, keep being brave, and keep growing.

If you’d like to know more about personal growth tips for the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I’ve updated this second edition with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook, paperback, or hardcover by clicking this link.

Featured image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Called by the Name of the Lord

Jesus’s prayer in John 17 gives us insight into where His mind was right before His crucifixion. If you’re reading this article the day I posted it, then today is the 14th day of the first Hebrew month–the anniversary of Jesus’s death. Following His instructions, we observed Passover last night in remembrance of Him.

The whole of Jesus’s prayer is an excellent thing to read this time of year, but for today’s post we’re focusing on the four times Jesus talks about His Father’s name. Here are those verses (click here to read them in context).

“I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word. …

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me. …

“I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them.”

John 17: 6, 11-12, 26, NET

There are two key points here: 1) Jesus revealed the Father’s name–who He is, what He is doing, and how to know Him (since in Hebrew thought, names have to do with character and reputation as well as identity). 2) Jesus kept His disciples safe in the Father’s name, and asked His Father to continue keeping them “safe in your name.” The first marked a deeper level of intimacy with God that’s available to New Covenant believers. The second continued a tradition going back to the Torah.

People Belonging To God

Numbers records a specific blessing the Lord gave to Moses and told the priests to use (click here to read my post about the Aaronic Blessing). After the text of the blessing, God says, “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (Num. 6:27, NET). The reason God stated for the priests blessing Israel like this was to put His name on them.

God’s name is used to identify His people and claim them as His throughout scripture. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, He describes them as “my people, who are called by my name” (WEB). Isaiah 43:6-7 talks about God gathering “everyone who is called by my name” (WEB). Jeremiah speaks of himself as someone “called by your name, Yahweh, God of Armies” (Jer. 15:16, WEB). We don’t use this phrase much in modern English, so another way to think of this idea is as us “belonging to” God (that’s the translation the NET uses).

There are incredible blessings in belonging to God. And, as James points out in Acts 15:13-21 (quoting Amos 9:11-12), God can choose to call anyone by His name who turns to Him. It’s not just a specific nation that gets to receive this blessing; even in the Old Testament people outside Israel were allowed to become people of the Lord, and the invitation is even more open now that Jesus came bringing salvation for all who will believe in His name (John 3:16-18; 20:31).

Oneness

There’s an incredible blessing of belonging that comes with knowing God’s name and being kept in His name. Jesus “gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NET). We who have received God’s spirit get to call Him by the name, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15, NET). There’s family, belonging, and unity found in knowing and being known by God by name. Indeed, Jesus talks about that in His prayer as well.

“Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. …

“The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one—I in them and you in me—that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me. …

“I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them.”

John 17:11, 22-23, 26, NET

Jesus asked for unity–oneness–among the people called by the name of the Lord. That request is backed-up by the power of His Father’s name. It also contains a promise of oneness between us, Jesus, and our Father. Being called by God’s name means we are part of the family.

The Place for His Name

As I was studying the phrase “called by My/the Lord’s name,” several passages in Jeremiah caught my eye. God keeps referring to the “house, which is called by my name” (WEB), also translated “this temple I have claimed as my own” (Jer. 7:11, NET. See also Jer. 7:30; 32:34; 34:15-16). All these passages talk about Israel breaking covenant and defiling a place where God put His name. Today, we are that place.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NET

We belong to God. He puts His name on us, entrusting us with the reputation of His family as we carry His name into the world. There are incredible blessings associated with that, and also a lot of responsibility. Nothing we do can change who God is (e.g. His goodness and holiness don’t depend on anything we do). But as people called by God’s name, we can affect how other people see Him. Every time we say we’re “Christian,” we identify ourselves with the name of Jesus Christ and the way we live tells people something about Him.

Also, though it’s easy to forget because being Christian becomes such a familiar thing to us, we tell ourselves something about our faith when we identify as belonging to Jesus and the Father. We ought to live with a mindfulness of what it means to carry God’s name, to know His name, and to be kept safe in His name. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot) serve as a yearly reminder of that.

Featured image by Anggie via Lightstock