Tag Archives: Doubt

A Little “dipsychos” Goes a Long Way

I’ve been doing a short study on the book of James. If you’ve not spent time in that book, it’s not only a wonderful book, it’s practical and challenging. Perhaps one of the most oft quoted passages in the book of James comes in the first chapter and deals with doubt or double-mindedness..dipsychos.

One of the sources for my study made a comment about James 1:5-8 and the idea of double-mindedness that made me stop and think a good bit. I’ll share that comment in a bit, but first let’s take a quick looks at the word double-minded.

The idea of double-minded, dipsychos, is a word that’s only used in James and then only twice. There are no real corollaries in the Greek translation of the OT except perhaps Psalm 12:2 where the Psalmist talks of a double-heart.  James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, uses the word in contrast to faith.  In other words, one who expresses faith cannot be double-minded.

Faith here is not belief in God but the idea of actually trusting God to do what he says. To do what’s right for those who do believe in him. It comes in the context of asking for wisdom. “If any of you is lacking wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. BUT ask in faith, never doubting, for…the doubter (literally ‘the man’v.7) being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord (vv. 5-8 NRSV).”

In this context E. Tod Twist makes this observation about the people James is addressing; “They struggle with a conflict of loyalties: God and his direction versus self and personal desires.”  Now that my friend, should start the wheels turning.

What exactly is God’s direction? How, and more so, why do I (self), or my personal desires, send up a flag of conflict?  Doesn’t God want to grant me the desires of my heart?  If I move to do the right thing for the right reasons how could that be a conflict of loyalties?  Are the questions I have about God, the Bible, and perhaps the Christian life, as some people describe it, evidence of a conflict of loyalties?   Of double-mindedness?

As if that’s not enough, what prompted this idea of “wisdom”?  Why would I want to ask for wisdom? It seems, based on the context, wisdom has to do with the testing of my faith, endurance, and the idea of “lacking in nothing” (vv. 2-4).

As in nearly every instance the key to putting some of these pieces together is context. In this rather short epistle, the context is not so much other teachings; we haven’t gotten that far in to the letter. Rather, it deals with who the recipients of the letter were. Once we get a handle on that then we can begin to see how and why James starts off with such a deep and challenging thought.

And we’ll do just that in the next post.



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Water Walking

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 14,  we read the account of Jesus walking on the water. In this story the disciples, in a boat fighting a strong wind, see Jesus walking on the water beside the boat and think he’s a ghost which scares the heck out of all of them.  Jesus said to them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.”  Peter, being his impetuous self responds, “Lord, if it’s you, bid/command me to come to you on the water.”  A request Jesus was more than happy to accommodate.  Peter stepped out and as most of us know began walking on the water to Jesus.  Matthew tells us that at some point Peter began looking around and taking note of the fierce wind or some other distraction and began to sink crying out “Lord save me!”

In this story there is one thing that prompted me to wonder: What was it about Peter’s lack of faith, in other words his doubting, which Jesus points out, that caused his sinking? It was the looking around at the circumstances that actually caused him to start the downward fall into the water.  Focusing on the circumstances put a hole in his faith vessel and down he went.

I can recount many times in my life when – for lack of a better description – my wild-eyed faith prompted me to do things I might normally not do, like walk on water.  Being no surprise, after a few steps I began to look around and not only be amazed that there was water under my feet, but that there were also some pretty strong headwinds buffeting me.  Little wonder that in no time my attention changed from the water to the wind and down I went. Unlike Peter, I often did not cry out “Lord, save me” but began thinking why did I even think I could walk on water? What made me think my faith was ever strong enough to do such a foolish thing? Consequently, I convinced myself to stay in the boat!

I’ll admit, I need to get out of the boat. I need to take those steps of faith and trust in the Lord to get me to my destination. But it’s so much safer in the boat. Boat safety doesn’t mean the winds won’t blow and the waves won’t be breaking over the bow, but in the boat I feel safe. And feeling safe is important to many of us. We’re not in the routine of risk taking or water-walking. Which means we miss the exhilaration of water under our feet, the new blessings of unexpected measure.

Right now I’m starting a new chapter in my life and it’s a bit disconcerting. I say “new” but in reality it’s a chapter I never finished writing simply because I was afraid to get out of the boat.  I’ll admit, I’m not sure my faith is strong enough to do that now, but I’m willing to give it another go. I’m willing to take the risk, put a leg over the side of the boat and begin walking.  This time, when I get that sinking feeling I hope to kick pride aside and call out “Lord, save me!”

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Where is God?

As a college student,  I sat in the Library at Wayland Baptist University one evening and ran across these words written on the inside cover of the book I was reading.

“Dear God, would you please be my own dearest friend.”  (Signed) A very lonely girl.

For months I wondered who that girl might be. I quoted her in a majority of my talks. I prayed for her.  Even today I think of her and wonder how she’s doing. My imagination sees her as a successful professional with a nice family fully involved in her church and ultimately happy. My mind’s eye also see’s her recording those words one lonely night in the front pages of her Bible. The same way I wrote them in mine over thirty years ago.

I’m not certain how other people feel, but I often feel lonely. Even though I’m not alone, I still feel lonely. Much of this I attribute to the many struggles  in my mind with who I am, where I am, what I am in relationship to God and others.  That feeling has brought me both revelation and depression. It has pushed me to do more and to the edge of the envelope. It has brought understanding and overwhelming confusion. And even though I’m up in years, those feelings continue to present themselves at the most awkward moments.  With a certain level of maturity to put legs to the stool, I have learned to embrace the feelings noted above.  I’ve progressed from seeing them through the eyes of “doubt” and now view them with the heart of a pilgrim.

What you’ll hear below is several minutes of reflection depicting not only those of a lonely University student back in the 70’s but also contemporary feelings of a current student.  If Nathan Chud’s words don’t resonate with you at some level, than I suggest you take the temperature of your faith.


http://player.vimeo.com/video/17352423<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/17352423″>I’m a Uni Student…</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3855499″>Campus America</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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