What Laodicea Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Us

In Revelation, the church in Laodicea received a warning and correction from Jesus that had to do with how they saw themselves.

To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: “The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation, says these things: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.'” (Rev. 3:14-17, all scripture references from WEB translation)

The things that the Laodiceans didn’t know about themselves were a threat to their spiritual position in Christ. He threatens to vomit them out of Him if they are not zealous to repent (Rev. 3:19). That’s pretty serious, and we can learn from His advice to them how to avoid similar mistakes.

Those who see the letters in Revelation as pictures of eras in the church tend to agree that we are currently living in the Laodicean era. And even if that’s not the case, those who “have an ear” are still instructed to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22). If we, like the Laodiceans, are ignorant of about our true spiritual condition then we need to heed this warning to wake up to the truth and change how we’re living.

Wretched and Miserable

Jesus starts out by telling the people who think they’re okay that they are in fact “wretched and miserable.” It reminds me of what Paul said in one of his letters: “let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Each of the words translated “wretched” and “miserable” are only used one other place in the Greek New Testament.

What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, sin’s law. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 7:24-8:1)

Paul’s mindset was completely different than the Laodiceans. He knew he was in a wretched state and the only solution was to turn to Jesus for deliverance. This is reflected in his use of the word for miserable/pitiable as well. Read more

The Christian Community and Our Godly Identity

In last week’s post, I talked about the new identities God gives us when we enter a relationship with Him. For those of us with a Western cultural mindset, “identity” is typically connected with “individualism” — who you are that makes you unique from everyone else. But the Bible was written by people with an Eastern cultural mindset, where identity is a more collective concept that involves how you fit in to a group or family.

When we find our identity in God, it is a collective as well as an individual thing. The Christian life isn’t meant to be an isolated one. We’re part of a community, a family. If we neglect to recognize that, then we’re missing out on a huge part of our identity as believers. And if we purposefully cut ourselves off from the community, we reject an incredible blessing.

Being in Christ Is Being in Community

I recently read a fascinating book called Participating In Christ by Michael J. Gorman. One of the key points he makes is that “to be in Christ is to be in community” (chapter 10). We miss this in English far more easily than we could if we read it in Greek.

“This life in Christ is lived not in isolation but only in community. (We must keep in mind that most of the words for ‘you’ in Paul’s letters are plural pronouns, and most often the imperatives are given in the second- [or third-] person plural form.) — (Gorman, Participating In Christ, Chapter 1)

“You (plural) are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). “By grace you (plural) are saved” (Eph. 2:5). We often read these verses, and many others like them, as a deeply individual thing but they’re addressed to a community. Our individual relationships with God are vital. But so is our communal relationship with God and His people. Read more

It’s Amazing What Happens When God Gives You A New Identity

One of the main themes of this blog is my belief that we find our true identity when we connect with God and learn who He created us to be. In order to do that, sometimes we have to let go of the old ways we used to define ourselves.

People in the Bible had to do this, too. Moses went from prince of Egypt to shepherd in hiding to leader. Saul went from insignificant Benjamite to king of Israel (1 Sam. 9:16, 21). Paul went from a Jewish religious leader persecuting the church to preaching Jesus (Gal. 1:22-24). They all had to change big parts of their identities to become who God intended them to be.

We all have ways we define ourselves. I’m a writer, a sister, a teacher, a dancer, a daughter, an introvert, a person who struggles with anxiety. When we enter relationship with God, we’re called to use our roles and identities for Him. Sometimes, though, we need to leave parts of our identities behind that don’t line-up with His goodness and/or His plan. And we also get to add new aspects to our identities that make each of us a more whole, complete person.

Becoming A “New Man”

Our walk with God is one of transformation. We don’t stay the way we were before salvation. We learn to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” as we “grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ” (Eph. 4:1, 15, WEB). We can’t live in the same way as those who don’t know God once we’ve entered a covenant relationship with the Lord (Eph. 4:16-20).

Read more

Who Are You? How to Take off Your Masks and Live with Integrity in Your Godly Identity

How many versions of you are there? Are you a different person behind the wheel of your car than you are when speaking to your grandmother? Do you play one part at work and another part with friends on the weekend? Do you hide parts of yourself or change the way you present yourself based on circumstances?

We all do this. To a certain extent, it’s useful to make your behavior fit the context. You don’t want to wear the same clothes, for example, to grub out a stump in the backyard as to attend a wedding. But when the change is more extreme — polite to a date but angry and vindictive when driving in traffic — it can be a problem.

Integrity comes form the Latin word integer, meaning something whole and complete in itself. If you are a person with integrity then there is only one version of you (“The True Meaning of Integrity” by So-Young Kang). You act with honesty and live by strong moral principles whether or not someone is watching. People with integrity apologize when they are wrong or cause inconvenience, they refuse to act viciously even when fighting, and they give others the benefit of the doubt (“7 Signs of People With Integrity” by Seth Meyers).

It’s very difficult to live with complete wholeness and consistency. And it’s well-nigh impossible to do so if you don’t know who you are and what you believe. As the Biblical writer James said, “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed” (James 1:6, WEB). We need an anchor for our identity if we’re to live with integrity. Read more

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians

Today’s post about ENFJ Christians is the sixth in a series talking with Christians of different personality types. I started this series because discussing faith with with different personality types revealed that they don’t all feel equally valued and understood in Christian churches. This is particularly true, in my experience, for Intuitive types (which make up about 30% of the population as a whole). If Christianity is a faith meant for all people (and I believe it is), then why aren’t we doing a better job of connecting with all personality types?

Our walks with God don’t all look the same. We’re influenced by our backgrounds, variations in beliefs, and individual personalities. And even though the goal is for us all to become “like God,” that doesn’t mean we become indistinguishable from each other. God created great variety in people and I believe He did that for a reason. So let’s spend today’s post hearing from and talking about the unique perspectives of ENFJ Christians.

Identifying With Bible Characters

Three of the six ENFJs I talked with for this post identified David as a Bible character they relate to, at least in part. They identify with his heart, his struggles, his expressive worship, and his depth of feeling. One ENFJ named Nathan qualified this choice by saying, “I relate to the fact that David gets incredibly emotional about relational issues in his life, but not so much his impulsive daring.”

Other characters ENFJs mentioned relating to include the Apostle Paul, who Heather described as “a man of great conviction, and grace and grit” with the ability to adapt his leadership style to meet others’ needs (e.g. “I have become all things to all men, that I might save some,” 1 Cor. 9:22). Gwyneth chose Jesus as the most relatable Bible person for her because “His peaceful ways were misunderstood as rebellious” and “He had empathy for every person.” Nathan mentioned, “Daniel in that he’s kind of an academic/thinker type who is trying to find his way in relation to the society around him.” Kait identified her favorite book of the Bible as Ecclesiastes and said the stories of “Ruth and Joseph mean a lot to me, and Peter/Thomas are the disciples I feel I can understand where they are coming from.”

An anonymous contributor wrote that she identified “with Mary Magdalene, Tamar, Martha, and the woman who was healed from a flow of blood.” All these women “loved with every piece of their hearts, lived with courage, were honest about who they were and what had happened to them, and met each day with an intelligent awareness.” She also identifies with Jesus’ mother Mary, particularly how she “stored these things up and pondered them in her heart.” Anonymous wrote, “I have this drive to understand with my whole being, not just intellectually – but with my heart and soul. I think she might have been able to relate.” I suspect many other ENFJs will be able to relate as well.I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Using Their Gifts

All the ENFJs I talked with have found ways to use their gifts and found support for those gifts within their churches. However, most also mentioned that there were aspects of their personality and/or their gifts that they were not encouraged to use.

All six ENFJ contributors to this article mentioned gifts involving public speaking and/or leading. They give messages, play music, lead worship, and dance. But Kait mentioned these gifts cause some inner conflict “due to the complex nature of the Bible’s stance on female leadership.” Corbin talked about the fact that his musical gifts are appreciated, but only if he stays within a certain type of music. ENFJs can fit the roles their churches offer, but they’re not always 100% comfortable with the opportunities they’re given.

On the whole, though, ENFJs tend to find ways to use their Harmony-focused Extroverted Feeling side to find a niche for themselves. Nathan shared that, in his experience, the solution to feeling like your gifts aren’t well-received “is controlling how you manifest that aspect of yourself. Church might not be perfect at accepting all aspects of individuals, but I think you can always find a niche for your skills where people won’t question it.”

Part of this is going to depend on individual church groups. My anonymous contributor talked about how hard it is for her to use her “gift for making others feel comfortable and comforting them when they are hurting” while “in a formal church setting where you attend a service and then go home.” But Heather said, “The church loves my ability to encourage others and build rapport,” and Kait said. “My ability to empathize with and forgive others, to be social, to create community is really appreciated.”

From the outside it probably looks like most ENFJs in the church are engaged and serving, and happy to do so. While that is true, ENFJs can also feel frustrated when their gifts for emotional connection and intuitive reasoning are not appreciated.I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

How Their Minds Work

One thing that frustrates some ENFJs, like many other Intuitive Christians, is when their gifts are viewed with suspicion by sensing-dominant groups. Heather wrote, “Being an intuitive type within the church is REALLY difficult. I use introverted intuition, I tend to see many perspectives.” This ability helps her “speak across denominational lines,” pick up on motives and agendas, read people, and be more “effective in ministry.” She goes on to say, “However, I don’t know how to speak about how my mind works in church. The church either sees me as a ‘prophet’ or that I’m into something like witchcraft. … My wiring seems to coincide with some of my spiritual gifts, so it can get weird. It’s sometimes hard to know what is my intuition and when is the Holy Spirit speaking.”

The perspectives issue also came up for several other ENFJs, who struggle with people who want them to see things in black-and-white terms. Nathan shared, “in some cases I find myself wanting to be too accepting or compromising. I’d like to keep everyone happy and feeling good about themselves, and I like to relate to people. This leads me into trouble sometimes because I’ll care less about if someone is specifically following God law than I should.” Heather adds, “I see a lot of nuance … I focus on the big picture. I see trends in the church, and have the tendency to see where these trends will lead. I desperately want to ask hard questions that tend to make sensors uncomfortable. My questions are often seen as a lack of faith, and not as a way to deepen my faith. I am extremely visionary and future oriented.”

Another things that both Corbin and Nathan mentioned is that the church doesn’t seem to value “emotionally focused men” (to use Nathan’s phrase). Corbin wrote, “I am told I feel to much/am too led by emotions. When I am feeling discouraged, I am told to ‘just pray more’ and everything should be fine, vs feeling and expressing the highs and lows in a raw and real way (like David).” This is a struggle many feeling-type men (especially FJ types) can identify with. Though men in the Bible express strong emotions, for the most part men in Western culture are not encouraged to do so even in the church. I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Challenges For ENFJs

The topic of conforming too much to others’ standards also came up when I asked ENFJs about the biggest challenges they face as Christians. Kait said, “my challenges are always to not just believe what would make other people happy, but to know what it is that I believe because of what I believe, if that makes sense. ENFJs are natural chameleons, which can (for better or worse) get you praise in a church community for looking like what you’re supposed to. However, I believe God calls us to authenticity and vulnerability about our flaws and shortcomings. Not engaging in self protection though masquerade is a challenge for me.”

A couple of ENFJs mentioned intellectual challenges in their Christian walk. For Gwyneth, this means “Being stereotyped as ignorant or naive. Many on the secular side will try to debate me, not knowing that I was once on their side and know most of their arguments. And it seems to them that I don’t want to hear them, but I don’t see how I could go back to my old ways of thinking after being in His presence and learning so much.” For Nathan, the challenge lies in finding ways to handle intellectual arguments against his faith, “for example the challenges in aligning science with Christianity.” This point might surprise some people who see ENFJs as purely emotion-driven, but personal experience has taught me that many place a high value on being able to make sense of the things that they believe. It’s part of how their inferior Introverted Thinking process shows up in every-day life.

Other challenges that ENFJs mentioned include feeling like they don’t fit in or getting discouraged. Heather said, “I am acutely aware of how actions are perceived. I know how I need to dress and behave to reach the church and be effective in my call. However, that can be really stifling.” Corbin shared that he struggles with holding on to hope and finding encouragement. Anonymous said that it’s hard for her to talk about her faith because words don’t always come easily and her testimony is connected with some personal experiences that are difficult to share. To sum-up, while there are some challenges that more than one ENFJ experiences, their individual struggles are deeply personal.I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Connecting With ENFJs

It should come as no surprise that ENFJs connect most readily with church teachings when there is a relational, emotional component. I hear this over and over from ENFJs I talk with both in-person and for this blog post. Here’s how four ENFJs described the types of teaching/preaching styles that connect with them best:

“Personal/relatable/conversational! I get way more out of a small group conversation than a sermon. But sermons that tell stories and make it personal captivate me.” — Corbin

“I enjoy deep one on one conversation or group facilitated discussion.” — Kait

“I cannot engage without a speaker who can’t demonstrate that they care about God and that their life is more full because of their relationship with God. … I like interactive and discussion based learning far more than sermon/lecture learning.” — Nathan

“I like any teaching and preaching that is deep. I enjoy being encouraged to engage with God on a relational level. I like preaching that is both intellectual and emotional. (Not an easy find.) I love to have small group discussions with other open-minded people because I like to process in a group and ask questions.” — Heather

If churches are trying to engage ENFJs, then creating opportunities for believers to meet in small groups is an essential part of that. For more formal teachings, ENFJs connect best when the person teaching is engaged on a personal level. They don’t just want feel-good messages, though. As Heather mentioned, they prefer preaching “that is both intellectual and emotional.” Kait also said, “I love the theories and underpinnings and the mysticism behind what we learn.” This is also a topic Gwyneth brought up, saying, “I like the practical application of abstract topics, if that makes sense. … I really enjoy a podcast called Moral Revolution. It teaches on sex, love and marriage, but in a realistic way.” ENFJs want their minds and hearts engaged in a way that encourages them to take real-world action.

Speaking of taking action, my anonymous contributor pointed out that it is very important when trying to reach ENFJs that your actions match your words. All FJ types read people well and are quick to pick up on a disconnect between what someone says and how they actually live their lives. If you’re trying to connect with ENFJs while preaching the gospel, make sure that you practice what you preach and present yourself in an authentic way.

In addition, ENFJs place a high value on teachings that can explain why the Bible and God’s way of life matter. ENFJs don’t shy away from asking hard questions and if they’re seeking truth in a Christian setting they want to see that it’s okay to wrestle with tough issues and discuss different ideas. Heather encouraged those trying to reach ENFJs to see “the nuances of scripture” and address hard questions. Gwyneth also said, “being able to know your stuff and why you believe would help minister to people like me.” Nathan added, “Focus on how God’s way benefits people and makes life abundant. For example, I’ll be lost in a discussion of judgment without context for why it is good for us that God is performing judgment.”

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Why They Believe

For this final section of the posts in this series, I like to let the people I talked with explain in their own words why they believe this faith is the right one. Here’s what my six contributors said:

  • “I am a Christian because of Jesus. This question can be hard to answer for me, because the answer runs at least in part along the lines of ‘I just know.’ But if I think about it a long time, I realize that my faith is largely due to those Christian people who have stuck by me. They are incredible, and filled with a genuine love and empathy for others (including me) that still floors me. I don’t understand it, but it doesn’t change. And as my relationship with Jesus grows more intimate, I feel a hope and peace that I would have never considered possible, and am finding that my heart and spirit are deepening and strengthening. I used to believe that all the pain would go away – nope. If anything I feel everything more vividly. But that also means that my heart is growing more and more loving than it has been. … I believe this faith is the right one also because it is mysterious. I don’t have it all figured out, and that is a good thing. If I could figure it out, then that means my mind would be bigger than what I believe in. That is most certainly not the case.” — Anonymous
  • “Though I don’t always ‘feel’ God, I know there is no other explanation for life and the universe, and no other system that can work well and offer an abundant life like the laws of God.” — Corbin
  • “I believe in Christ and God and defend my faith because the existence and resurrection of our Savior historically, the way I’ve felt the Spirit in my life emotionally, and because no matter how much inflammatory literature I read from contradicting backgrounds, I’ve always been able to explain to myself why it was insufficient intellectually.” — Kait
  • “I have looked at and tried many things. This is the only one that has made logical sense to me and I have also felt Him and His Spirit. No one can convince me that the transformation and peace I’ve had and felt isn’t real.” — Gwyneth

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

  • “The older I become the more rational I have become and faith isn’t as easy. It always comes back to Jesus for me. His life, his witness. The way he touched and changed lives. One writer stated that Jesus was either the greatest liar that ever lived, or that he was exactly who he says he is. The disciples were completely convinced of Jesus as God and Man. At the end of the day it has to be about Christ. He is truly the anchor for the soul in a time of chaos and confusion. He is a leader worth emulating and worth dying for. He is the hope of the world, a light in a dark place, he is love. There is no one else like him in the history of the world. His life was love and grace personified. Christianity is the only religion that teaches salvation by grace and forgiveness, and not through works. I still go to church because I believe in Christ and he told me to do it, whether I fit or don’t. ” — Heather
  • “All religion is essentially an attempt to answer two fundamental questions, (1) what is the best/right way to live life and (2) how did existence come to be and in what way does our personal existence relate to the broader world more broadly (i.e. what is the universe and do we matter within it and does life continue past our current experience). Science is essentially a system for providing a reason behind our beliefs and an understanding of the world based on evidence that is objective. Unfortunately the scope of science isn’t able to cover everything we need it to in life. For example, I cannot wait upon a systematic study to tell me who to marry. In the same way, science is not able to offer a definitive explanation of how to live or a complete understanding of existence. Because of this, you cannot rely on science and have to figure out what the most likely explanation for your 2 big questions is. Because of the order in the universe, the experiences people have (personal transcendence, psychedelic and unusual conscious experiences, etc), and the fact that intelligent is actually a very parsimonious theory (it is simple and explains everything, even though you can’t test it) I believe that there is a God. Once you believe that, you can assume that the creator probably is involved throughout existence and has certain ways in which He would expect you to act. This brings you to religion and simultaneously generates a problem — there are lots of religions and logically they cannot all be correct. I follow my particular branch of Christianity because if you believe the Bible is true, then my sect follows it most accurately. The problem is bridging the gap between believing in God and knowing which one to believe in. I was raised Christian, so I cannot say that wasn’t an influence, but I follow Christianity for a few reasons — (1) it ‘feels’ right in context of personal spiritual experience and emotions, (2) it offers a view of the world that makes sense within most of its doctrine, (3) its proscriptions for how to live life are effective principles for life.” — Nathan

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Your turn! If you want to share your Christian ENFJ story or talk about ENFJs in the churches, comment below. You can also check out the other posts in this series here:

If you’re a different personality type looking to contribute an upcoming blog post in this series contact me or head over to the original post. I’d love to feature you! Please note: unless you tell me otherwise, I’ll assume that by getting in touch you agree I can quote you directly and credit you by first name (or screen name) and Myers-Briggs type in future projects.


Hey everyone! I’m releasing the second edition of The INFJ Handbook next week! Click here to get a copy in ebook (preorder now) or paperback format (available after release).

The Joy Of The Lord

I think most of us have learned there are multiple words for love in the Greek language. With seven words devoted to this concept, we assume it must be important. But did you know something similar is going on with the word “joy”?

In the New Testament the primary Greek word for joy is chara or its root chario. The Greek parts of the Bible also use agalliao, euphrosure, and (more rarely) skirtao and apolausis. Hebrew has even more words for joy. The primary one is samach and its close relatives simcha and sameach. Other words for joy include chadah, sus, alats, giyl, and alaz. The words for “shout” like ranan and rua also carry a joyful meaning in certain contexts. That adds up to more than a dozen words in the Bible to describe joy!

Clearly, joy is an important concept for Biblical writers and for the cultures they lived in. This type of joy isn’t just a happy feeling, though. It’s a state of being that we can have as a result of being in relationship with God. As a fruit of the spirit, joy is present in all spirit-led Christians. This joy can be bubbly, enthusiastic, and happy (and often is), but it can also be a quiet, enduring outlook that flourishes inside us even when we don’t feel outwardly merry.

Joy Is More Than Happiness

To those in less than pleasant circumstances, commands to rejoice (like Deut. 26:11: 1 Thes 5:16) often feel insensitive. “If you knew what I was going through,” we might say, “you wouldn’t tell me to feel happy.” Nevertheless, joy is something God expects and commands from His people.

It’s a similar situation as what happens with love. God is love, and He commands us to love others even when it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective. Biblical love is also something more than our modern concept of warm feelings toward someone. It’s much deeper. In much the same way, joy goes deeper than feelings of happiness. Read more