Beginning and Ending Prayer

Table SettingBeginning and Ending Prayer

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We praise you for creating us, male and female, in your image, not for our glory, but yours in the beginning (Gen 1:27).

In humility, we confess that we have not always preferred to live in your light or to be good (Gen 1:3-4).

We give thanks that in creating heaven and earth you made your presence abundantly clear (Romans 1:19-20)

and that we might escape perdition through the death and resurrection of your son (1 Cor 15:3-4).

We beg you that we might choose the light and honor your son through the power of your Holy Spirit (John 14:6).

Through Jesus Christ, who is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8), Amen.


Also see:

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Living into the Image

Doug_and_Christine_08272016bLiving into the Image

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Service for Recommitment of Vows for Christine Nousheen Hiemstra and Douglas Warren Ferrer,

Centreville, Virginia, September 4, 2016

A quiet little secret in this postmodern age is often overlooked by those of us who seldom read our Bibles: marriage is God’s idea, not ours. Marriage was not enacted by an act of Congress or decreed by the Supreme Court; marriage was not invented by some church committee way or some really popular saint way back when. Marriage was God’s idea which we know because the Bible begins and ends with a wedding.[1]

How do we know? (2X)

The short answer comes in verse 27 of the first chapter of Genesis:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27 ESV)

In other words, God created us together in his image and, in case there is any misunderstanding, this image couple was given a mission-statement in the next verse:

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28 ESV).

The vows are then repeated in chapter 2 where we read:

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:23-24 ESV)

So after the wedding ceremony is over, Adam and Eve are a couple on their own, not living with mom and dad in stark contrast with the custom in pagan societies of the ancient world.[2]

But what does it mean to be created in the image of God? (2X)

The answer to this question is found in our second reading from the Book of Exodus. The context for this verse is that after God gives Moses the Ten Commandments (and after Moses broke the first set of tablets), he says to him directly:

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod 34:6)

Much like Congress after passing legislation will publish a “conference report” explaining how to interpret the new law, God reveals his character in five key words as a tool for interpreting the Ten Commandments. These five character traits are repeated throughout the Old and New Testaments in different forms, which is the Bible’s way of saying stop and pay attention here. Let’s take a moment to reflect on each of these five traits, as they give insight into God’s prescription for marriage.

The first of these traits is: mercy. Mercy is what you ask the judge for right after you have just admitted that you are guilty. Mercy is unwarranted and undeserved forgiveness.

Christine, offer mercy to Doug when he screws up; Doug, extend mercy to Christine when she has just done it again. When you offer mercy to one another, you honor God and make love possible.

The second of these traits is: compassion. Compassion comes from the Latin expression, with passion, in the sense of having passion out of understanding for someone else. A great example of compassion was going around on social media earlier this year—a policeman was called to grocery store to arrest a woman for shoplifting. She explained that she stole food to give her kids a meal and, instead of arresting her, the policeman bought her a cart load of groceries and drove her home.

Doug, take time to understand Christine when she screws up. Christine, walk alongside Doug when he does not seem to be himself. Understand each other before you criticize each other. Remember the policeman’s heart.

The third of these traits is: patience—be slow to anger. The Hebrew used here literally says:  be long nostrilled!  In other words, take a deep breath; listen; and count to ten before responding when something is not quite what you were expecting. Patience is so under-practiced in our “I WANT IT NOW” generation.  Be a rebel: practice patience!

The fourth trait is two Hebrew words, rav hesed (‎רַב־חֶ֥סֶד), which does not translate well into English. It literally means “great love”, but the context suggests something other than “abounding in steadfast love”. God has just given Moses the Ten Commandments—kind of like a superpower promising a military alliance to a small country in a dangerous neck of the woods. Love here means that you keep your promises—especially when it hurts. I call this “covenantal love”.

In my case, I told Maryam when we were married that I did not believe in divorce. I told myself that I would not let anything come between us in our marriage—not our friends, not our families, not even my own ego. Keeping our marriage vows was the priority over everything, short of my faith in God. For me, that is covenantal love.

The final trait is translated faithfulness. The Hebrew word, emeth (אֱמֶֽת), also means truth.  When the Apostle John says that: “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 ESV), he is making an allusion to this very same verse in Exodus and, by inference, is making a divinity claim in reference to Jesus.

Faithfulness and truth go hand-in-hand, yet truth should only (2X) be told in a context of grace, otherwise it will simply not be heard.

Doug, Christine—be truthful with one another, but speak truth only out of love.

In closing, bear the image of God in your life with one another. Practice mercy and compassion, be patient with one another, honor your vows, and speak truth only in the context of love. Bear God’s image and draw closer to God and to one another as you do so. Amen and Amen.

[1] Keller, Timothy and Kathy Keller. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. (New York: Dutton, 2011), page 13.

[2] The Bible ends after the Second Coming with the wedding feast of the people of God. (Rev 21:2, 9; Rev 22:17)

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The Daily Work Roster


The Daily Work Roster

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Before a young person can go off and conquer the world, they must be potty trained, learn to walk and talk, and be able to take care of themselves. One of the rites of passage along the way is summer camp. The camp to end all camps, if you are a Boy Scout, is Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.

Philmont is not just any camp. Philmont Scout Ranch consists of 214 square miles of almost pristine wilderness—mountains and ranchland and woods—in the northern New Mexico donated over the period from 1938 to 1942 to the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) by oil tycoon Waite Phillips. In the confines of the ranch are authentic gold mines, outlaw hideouts, Apache and Ute Indian heritage sites, a B-24 crash site, dinosaur excavation sites, and hunting lodges previously employed by America’s rich and famous. Wildlife include scorpions, tarantulas, freshwater fish, eagles, rattlesnakes, deer, elk, coyote, antelope, mountain lion, buffalo, beaver, wild turkey, and bear.[1] You get the idea—Philmont is a super camp.

As I was to learn, Philmont tests the Scout Motto, “Be Prepared,” as well as any camp. Gathering firewood by myself one evening, I was reminded why walking alone in the woods was a really bad idea—only about a hundred yards from our campsite I found a deer carcass freshly torn into bloody pieces.  During our eleven days at Philmont in July 1968, we had many other challenges.  We saddled Harlan’s burros, rode horses, shot skeet, forded the Cimarron River, repelled down Cimarroncito’s rock ledges, contended with midnight bear raids, and walked 500 feet into the Cyphers gold mine (and turned the lights out). We sought to be real men and do manly stuff, and Philmont obliged.

But many times Philmont’s greatest challenges were problems that we brought with us. I should know. As duly elected crew leader, I was responsible for coordinating daily schedules. Tents needed to put up and taken down; firewood needed to be gathered; water acquired and often purified; and meals cooked. We had an experienced group of scouts and these activities went like clockwork during our shakedown backpacking trip near Catoctin Mountain in Maryland. Five days into Philmont and the clockwork started breaking down—volunteers started malingering and open rebellion soon followed. Too late, the crew leader had to draw up a work roster on scarce paper and my leadership credibility crumbled.

Things got worse.

Several years earlier at Ocean City, Maryland I injured my back riding waves with an inner tube mattress on the beach. On a good wave, my mattress got too far in front of a large wave and I plunged head first over the wave. I landed on my face and the wave threw my legs over my back. I was paralyzed for several minutes unable to get up and nearly drowned before slowly crawling out of the water on my stomach. No one saw me; no one came running. This back injury has haunted me ever since.

At Philmont, after several days of backpacking my back gave out and it was all that I could do just to walk. My pain was so intense that the adults debated helicoptering me out. I became a liability for the team and the guys resented having to slow down for me. Worse, we hiked each day with a deadline—afternoon rain was avoidable only once tents were pitched; if we were late in making camp, freezing rain soaked us and our gear. Even though several of the scouts were family friends, the stress of the long days, the rigorous backpacking, and the skimpy trail meals at Philmont brought out the worst in people—for the remainder of the trip I was harshly ridiculed at every turn.

At Philmont, my dreams of western adventure and my concepts of self-sufficiency morphed into a struggle to survive. Nothing about my background and nothing I could do made up for a weakened back and the mundane challenges of eleven days on the trail. My dependence on the team and their respect for me hung on conditions outside my control.

Still, life went on and several highlights of the trip were yet to come.

One such highlight came when we returned to camp headquarters and discovered the Tooth Of Time Traders commissary. There on sale at the commissary we found the belts, belt buckles, jackets, and patches that proved that allowed us to brag about our Philmont experiences when we returned home.

In the commissary, for example, I bought a coveted copy of Robert Baden-Powell’s book, Scouting for Boys (1908), which began the scouting movement in Great Britain. In the military, Powell distinguished himself as a general during the Second Boer War in South Africa (1899).[2] When his military days were over, he noticed that young men were growing up undisciplined and unprepared for the vigor of adult life. Powell saw this problem limiting Britain’s military preparedness and he envisioned the Boy Scouts as a solution. Later, I gifted this book to my Scoutmaster (and early mentor) when he retired after many years of scouting service.

Another highlight was our visit on the bus trip home to the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta, Colorado. The museum featured many Indian handicrafts and, as we were told, the Koshare Indians were, in fact, Boy Scout troop 232 which focuses on studying Indian dances and customs.[3] The troop danced for us in traditional Indian attire and explained to us that Koshare means clown or “delight-maker” in the Hopi Indian language.  And delighted we were.




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Benner Cares Spiritually Through Dialogue—Part 1

Benner_review_08072015David G. Benner. 1998.  Care of Souls: Revisioning Christian Nurture and Counsel. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. (Goto part 2)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One distinctive of biblical faith is that each human being is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). One practical implication of this image doctrine is that when you speak with someone, it is like speaking to God himself.  In fact, many times God speaks to us through the people around us. A second practical implication is that each and every human has intrinsic value in the eyes of God[1].  Between the hint of the divine and this intrinsic value, everyone has an interesting story to tell—if one takes the time to listen.


In his book, Care of Souls, David Benner implicitly understands and accepts the doctrine of the image.  He writes:

“Care refers to actions that are designed to support the well-being of something or someone. Cure refers to actions that are designed to restore well-being that has been lost.” (21)

One only cares for something of value.  In this case, we are talking about souls which he defines as:

“soul as referring to the whole person, including the body, but with particular focus on the inner world of thinking, feeling, and willing.” (22)

This is the Hebrew understanding of soul (nefesh or נַפְשִׁ֖י) which is quite distinct from the Greek understanding from Plato which divided a person into body and soul[1], which were truly divided (11).

Conscious and Unconscious Life

This body and soul unity is important in Benner’s thinking especially when he delves into the distinction between the conscious and non-conscious parts of our inner life.  He writes:

“Caring for souls is caring for people in ways that not only acknowledge them as persons but also engage and address them in the deepest and most profoundly human aspects of their lives.  This is the reason for the priority of the spiritual and psychological aspects of the person’s inner world in soul care.” (23)

While the cure of souls focuses on remedy for sin; care of souls focuses on the need for spiritual growth (28).

Care of Souls

Benner sees 4 elements in care of souls:

  1. Healing—“helping others overcome some impairment and move towards wholeness”,
  2. Sustaining—“acts of caring designed to help a hurting person endure and transcend” a challenging situation,
  3. Reconciling—“efforts to reestablish broken relationships”, and
  4. Guiding—“helping people make wise choices and thereby grow in spiritual maturity” (31-32)

I used to use the analogy of two soccer players working with each other to succeed in their game play and taking care of each other.

Benner offers 6 helpful principles (he calls them conclusions) defining soul care. “Christian soul care”…

  1. “is something that we do for each other, not to ourselves.”
  2. “operates within a moral context.”
  3. “is concerned about community not just individuals.”
  4. “is normally provided through the medium of dialogue within the context of a relationship.”
  5. “does not focus on some narrow spiritual aspect of personality but addresses the whole person.”
  6. “is much too important to be restricted to the clergy or any other single group of people.”

Christian Friends

 This last point is important—the idea of Christian friends is fundamental in Christian discipling. In fact, the first book by Benner that I read and reviewed was focused on this point[2].

Another key point is that the focus in care of souls is on dialogue between equals before God.  Benner distinguishes 4 types of interpersonal discourse:

  1. Debate“a civilized form of combat…has a focus and implicit rules that encourage participants to stick to the understood topic”. (134)
  2. Discussion“involves the advocacy of ideas and positions with resulting winners and losers” .(134)
  3. Conversation“involve the exchange not just of facts and arguments but also of feelings, values, and construals” but not to the extent and with the mutual trust required for a dialogue. (135)
  4. Dialogue“shared inquiry that is designed to increase awareness, understanding, and insight” among mutually trusting individuals. (131)

This focus on dialogue distinguishes soul care from psychiatric care where true dialogue is not possible, in part, because the talking is more of doctor-patient conversation between two parties that are inherently not equal. Dialogue is the preferred discourse in soul care because healing, sustaining, reconciling, and guiding are able to take place only when trust is present.

Background of Author

Dr. David Benner works and lives in Canada.  He describes himself as: “an internationally known depth psychologist, wisdom teacher, transformational coach, and author whose life’s work has been directed toward helping people walk the human path in a deeply spiritual way and the spiritual path in a deeply human way.”  He has held numerous faculty positions and written about 30 books [4].


Benner writes in 11 chapters divided into 2 parts.  These chapters are:

Part 1:  Understanding Soul Care

  1. What is Soul Care?
  2. The Rise of Therapeutic Soul Care
  3. The Boundaries of the Soul
  4. Psychology and Spirituality
  5. Christian Spirituality

Part 2:  Giving and Receiving Soul Care

  1. The Psychospiritual Focus and Soul Care
  2. Dialogue in Soul Care
  3. Dreams, the Unconscious, and the Language of the Soul
  4. Forms of Christian Soul Care
  5. Challenges of Christian Soul Care
  6. Receiving Soul Care

These chapters are preceded by acknowledgments and an introduction.  They are followed by notes and a topical index.


David Benner’s Care of Souls is a transformative text.  Although some of these ideas here appear elsewhere, many of the discussions are uniquely Benner. For example, Benner goes a lot further than many authors in offering a theological underpinning to soul care, integrates the therapeutic ideas better than other authors into his care, and spends more time in explaining the usefulness and uniqueness of dialogue.  I highly recommend this book to pastors, other Christian care givers, and Christians who want to be spiritually sensitive in their ministry.

In part 1 of this review, I have given an overview of Benner’s book.  In part 2, I will dig deeper into some of his more interesting ideas.

Question: Do you think that soul care is possible outside of a therapeutic relationship?  Why or why not?


[1] This intrinsic value provides the philosophical foundation for human rights. In the absence of this theological doctrine, the secular interest in human rights is a philosophical orphan easily forgotten.

[2] Or body, mind, and soul.

[3] See (Benner 2003) Also see review:  Benner Points to God (



Benner, David G. 2003.  Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction.  Downers Grove:  IVP Books.

Benner Cares Spiritually Through Dialogue—Part 1



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Prayer Day 40: A Christian Guide to Spirituality by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Espera verano 2015
Espera verano 2015

Loving Father. You clothe the birds that neither spin or reap (Matt 6:26). You send the rain and the sunshine on the just and the unjust without discrimination (Matt 5:45). You make the day and the night to bless us with activities and with sleep (Gen 1:5). We cast our obsessions and addictions at your feet. In the power of your Holy Spirit, heal our relationships and soften our hearts that we might grow more like you with each passing day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Padre Amoroso, vistes las aves que ni siegan ni recogen (Mt. 6:25-26). Envías el sol y la lluvia sobre justos e injustos sin discriminación (Mt. 5:5). Haces el día y la noche para bendecirnos con actividades y sueños (Gén. 1:5). Lanzamos nuestras obsesiones y adicciones a Tus pies. En el poder del Espíritu Santo, sana nuestras relaciones y suaviza nuestros corazones para que podamos crecer más como Tú cada día. En el nombre de Jesús oramos. Amén.

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Who is God?

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. (Ps 19:1–3)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

When I was young, I wanted to be a pilot. I learned to read a map, work with a compass, and navigate by the stars in pursuit of my goal. The idea that God would use a star to guide the wise men to the baby Jesus fascinated me. Equally fascinating is how God reveals himself to us in the creation story. The Bible starts telling us that: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) What do these simple words tell us about God?

The phrase—in the beginning—tells us that God is eternal. If creation has a beginning, then it must also have an end. This implies that creation is not eternal, but the God who created it must be. If our eternal God created time, both the beginning and the end, then everything God created belongs to God. Just as the potter is master over the pottery he makes, God is sovereign over creation (Jer 18:4–8). God did not win creation in an arm-wrestling match or buy it online or find it on the street, he created it—God is a worker[1].

God’s sovereignty is reinforced in the second half of the sentence when it says: God created the heavens and the earth. Here heaven and earth form a poetic construction called a merism. A merism is a literary device that can be compared to defining a line segment by referring to its end points. The expression—heaven and earth—therefore means that God created everything[2]. Because he created everything, he is sovereign over creation; and sovereignty implies ownership[3].

So, from the first sentence in the Bible we know that God is eternal and he is sovereign. We also know that he is holy. Why? Are heaven and earth equal? No. Heaven is God’s residence. From the story of Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush (Exod 3:5), we learn that any place where God is becomes holy in the sense of being set apart or sacred. Because God resides in heaven, it must be holy. Earth is not. Still, God created both and is sovereign over both (Rev 4:11).

Genesis paints two other important pictures of God.

The first picture arises in Genesis 1:2; here the breath, or spirit of God, is pictured like a bird hovering over the waters[4]. Hovering requires time and effort suggesting ongoing participation in and care for creation. The Bible speaks exhaustively about God providing for us—God’s provision. Breath translates as Holy Spirit in the original languages of the Bible—both Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament)[5].

The second picture appears in Genesis 2, which retells the story of creation in more personal terms. As a potter works with clay (Isa 64:8), God forms Adam and puts him in a garden. Then, he talks to Adam and directs him to give the animals names. And when Adam gets lonely, God creates Eve from Adam’s rib or side—a place close to his heart.

Genesis 1 and 2, accordingly, paint three pictures of God: 1. God as a mighty creator; 2. God who meticulously attends to his creation; and 3. God who walks with us like a friend. While the Trinity is not fully articulated in scripture until the New Testament, God’s self-disclosure as the Trinity appears from the beginning (Chan 1998, 41).

The Lord’s Prayer casts a new perspective on Genesis 1:1 when Jesus says: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10) Because we are created in God’s image, we want our home to modeled after God’s.

[1] Hugh Whelchel (2012,7).

[2] Heaven and earth can also be interpreted as proxies for God’s attributes of transcendence and immanence (Jer 23:23–24; Dyck 2014, 99).

[3] God’s eternal nature is also defined with a merism: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev 1:8)

[4] This bird (avian) image appears again in the baptismal accounts of Jesus. For example, in Matthew 3:16 we read: “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him.”

[5]Breath itself is necessary for life—part of God’s provision.


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¿Quien es Dios?

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Los cielos proclaman la gloria de Dios, y la expansión anuncia la obra de sus manos. Un día transmite el mensaje al otro día, y una noche a la otra noche revela sabiduría. No hay mensaje, no hay palabras; no se oye su voz. (Salmo 19:1-3 LBA)

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Como una persona joven, quiere ser piloto.  Aprendia que leer un mapa, trabajar con un compass, y siguen las estrellas por direcciones para perseguir mi sueno.  La idea que Díos usaría una Estrella a guiar por magos al niño Jesús me encanta.  Igualmente fascinante es cómo Dios se nos revela en la cuenta de la creación.  La Biblia empezo diciendonos que:   “En el principio creó Dios los cielos y la tierra.” (Génesis1:1 LBA)  ¿Qué nos dicen estas sencillas palabras acerca de Dios?

La frase—en el principio—nos dice que Díos es eterna.  Si la creación tiene un principio, entonces también debe tener un final. Se implicita es que creación no es eternal, sino que el Dios quien la creada necesita ser.  Si nuestro Dios eternal creó el tiempo, tanto al principio y como al final, entonces todo lo que Dios creó es suya.  Asi como el alfarero es senior sobre la vasija que hace, Dios es soberano sobre creacíon (Jeremias 18:4–8).  Dios no ganó creacíon en un partido pulseada o comprar en línea o encontrar en la calle, la creó—Dios es un trabajador[1].

El soberano de Dios esta reforzada en la secunda parte de esta frase cuando la dice:  creó Dios los cielos y la tierra. Allí las dos palabras, los cielos y la tierra, forma una estructura poetica llamado un merismo.  Esta estructura hecho como a una línea definida por sus puntos extremos. Entonces, la expression, los cielos y la tierra, significa que Dios creó todo[2]. Porque él creó todo, Díos es soberano creacíon, y la soberanía implica la propiedad[3].

Entonces, de la primera frase en la Biblia sabemos que Díos es eternal y soberano. Sabemos tambien que Díos es santo.  ¿Porque? ¿Son el cielo y la tierra igual?  No.  El cielo es la residencia de Díos. De la historia de Moisés y su encuentra con Díos acerca de la zarza ardiente (Exodo 3:5), aprendimos que cualquiera lugar donde Dios es estaria santo en la sensacíon de apartada (dedicada) o sagrada (santificada).  Porque Dios vive en el cielo, debe ser santo.  La tierra no esta.  Aún así, Díos los creó y es soberano sobre ambos (Apocalisis 4:11).

Génesis da dos otras imaginas importante de Díos.

La imágina primera viene en Génesis 1:2; aquí, el espiritu de Dios (o el aliento) es representaba como un aves que se movia sobre las aguas[4].  Revoloteando require tiempo y esfuerzo que suguiere participacíon activa y cuido para la creacion. La Biblia habla extensivamente sobre Dios y su provision para nosotros—la provision de Dios. El aliento traduce como Espiritu Santo en los lenguas original de la Biblia—ambos  Hebreos (Antiguo Testamento) y Griego (Nueva Testamento)[5].

La imágina segunda aparece en Génesis 2, donde dijo la historía de creación en términos más personales. Como el alfarero trabaja con barro (Isaias 64:8), Díos forma Adán y lo puso en un jardin. Luego, él habla con Adán y lo dirige a dar nombres a los animales.  Y cuando Adán era solo, Díos crea a Eva de una costilla o del lado de Adán—un lugar cerca de su corazon.

En consecuencia, Génesis 1 y 2 da tres imágines de Díos: 1. Díos como un creador poderosa; 2. Díos a quien cuida meticulosamente de su creación; y 3. Dios a quien camina con nosotros como un buen amigo.  Mientras la Trinidad no esta articulado en la escritura hasta el Testamento Nuevo, la autorrevelación de Dios como la Trinidad aparece desde hace el principio (Chan 1998, 41).

La Oración del Señor da un perspective nuevo sobre Genesis 1:1 cuando Jesus dice:  “Venga tu reino. Hágase tu voluntad, así en la tierra como en el cielo.” (Mateo 6:10 LBA) Porque estamos creado en la imagina de Dios, queramos lo mismo que nuestro hogar a estar como la casa de Dios en el cielo.

[1] Hugh Whelchel (2012, 7).

[2] El cielo y la tierra pueda tambien ser interpretado como indicadores de los atributos de Dios tales como la trascendencia y la inmanencia (Jeremias 23:23–24; Dyck 2014, 99).

[3]La naturaleza de Díos eternal es tambien descrito con un merismo:  “Yo soy el Alfa y la Omega” – dice el Señor Dios – “el que es y que era y que ha de venir, el Todopoderoso.” (Apocalisis 1:8 LBA)

[4] Esta imagen de díos como un aves (aviar) aparece también en las cuentas del bautismo de Jesús. Por ejempo, en Mateo 3:16 leemos:  “Después de ser bautizado, Jesús salió del agua inmediatamente; y he aquí, los cielos se abrieron, y él vio al Espíritu de Dios que descendía como una paloma y venía sobre Él.” (Mateo 3:16 LBA)

[5]El aliento mismo es necesario para la vida—una parte de la provision de Díos.


Chan, Simon. 1998. Spiritual Theology: A Systemic Study of the Christian Life. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Dyck, Drew Nathan. 2014. Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Whelchel, Hugh. 2012. How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.

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Prayer Day 40: A Christian Guide to Spirituality By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Available on
Available on

Loving Father. You clothe the birds that neither spin or reap (Matt 6:26). You send the rain and the sunshine on the just and the unjust without discrimination (Matt 5:45). You make the day and the night to bless us with activities and with sleep (Gen 1:5). We cast our obsessions and addictions at your feet. In the power of your Holy Spirit, heal our relationships and soften our hearts that we might grow more like you with each passing day. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Detweiler: Taming the Electronic Beast

Craig Detweiler, IGods
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Craig Detweiler. 2013.  iGods:  How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives.  Grand Rapids:   Brazos Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Technology has defined my career.  During my career as an economist, I went from adding row and column sums with a manual calculator to programming with computer punch cards to programming personal computers for Windows and super computers in half a dozen languages. Being an early adopter of a variety of technologies allowed me to be the first to make sense of massive amounts of data.  Now, social media is redefining how work gets done and how people think about themselves, the world, and even God.  So when I noticed that Craig Detweiler had taken time to write a book, iGods, that tried to make sense of these changes, I was intrigued and ordered a copy.


Detweiler observes:  Jesus was more than a carpenter; he was a techie (23). The Greek word, τέκτων (Mark 6:3 BNT), usually translated as carpenter probably better describes a builder. Think about it. Palestine has a lot of deserts and rocks; it has very few trees—the primary input in carpentry.  Detweiler observes that Jesus does not talk about carpentry; most of his stories are not even about agriculture.  His stories are about winepresses, millstones, olive presses, tombstones, cisterns, and so on—the technologies of his era (24).  He talked about the things that he knew best.  Detweiler prefers the translation, artisan.

Like father like son.  God created the heavens and the earth bringing order to chaos (Genesis 1).  Bringing order to chaos is exactly what technology does.  Creation is marked by both order and by beauty.  Do you suppose creation is “state of the art”? (25)  If we are created in the image of ‘high tech” God, then does our fascination with technology reflect God’s presence among us? [1]

Are you intrigued yet?


Detweiler focuses on the persons, the technologies, and companies responsible for the social media revolution writing in 8 chapters, proceeded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion.  The 8 chapters are:

  1. Defining technology,
  2. Apple,
  3. A brief history of the internet,
  4. Amazon,
  5. Google,
  6. A brief history of social networking,
  7. Facebook,
  8. You Tube, Twitter, Instagram (v).

These new technologies are intrinsically more complex than even the personal computers that we are all familiar with.  Changing the battery in an iPhone, for example, requires special tools and a detailed list (8 or more steps) of instructions which, ironically, can be found more easily on than in any manual. This complexity relegates us to the role of consumers rather than masters of the basic technologies of our age (25).  It is WALL-E (a garbage-compacting robot), not the morbidly obese Captain McCea of the spaceship Axiom, who is the hero of our age [2].


Detweiler is the author of numerous books and director of numerous films ( He has his doctoral degree from Fuller Theological Seminary ( and currently is a professor of communications and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University ( which is located in Malibu, CA.  Because Hollywood has been at the cutting edge of both changing technology and social trends, just the Malibu address suggests that he might have some interesting insights.


Detweiler’s iGods is accessible, thoroughly researched, and fascinating to read.  He concludes that social media provide tools that redefines many of the assumptions of how we live, think, and work that are neither intrinsically good or bad.  In terms of the scientific method, Detweiler has moved discussion from focusing on felt needs to defining the scope of the social media problem [3].  In the midst of chaotic social and technological change, the task of problem definition is typically the hardest. Detweiler has done us a great service.  This is a book that smart people will notice.


[1] For years I have described scientific discovers as nothing more than God’s little Easter Eggs hidden in places where he knew his kids would find them.

[2] Pixar Film 2008.

[3] The steps often employed in the scientific method are:  felt need, problem definition, observation, analysis, decision, and responsibility bearing.   Stephen W. Hiemstra. June 2009. “Can Bad Culture Kill a Firm?” pages 51-54 of Risk Management.  Society of Actuaries.  Accessed: 18 February 2014. Online:

Detweiler: Taming the Electronic Beast

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Prayer Day 16: A Christian Guide to Spirituality by Stephen W. Hiemstra

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Loving Father. You clothe the birds that neither spin or reap (Matt 6:26). You send the rain and the sunshine on the just and the unjust without discrimination (Matt 5:45). You make the day and the night to bless us with activities and with sleep (Gen 1:5). We cast our obsessions and addictions at your feet. In the power of your Holy Spirit, heal our relationships and soften our hearts that we might grow more like you with each passing day. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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