Theology thoughts III, when does the soul leave the body?

Where does Soul meet Body? That seems to be a place or location that indie rock band gone mainstream with their song “Soul Meets Body” talks about. In my class last night, we talked about the nature of man, body, soul and spirit, and I couldn’t help but have this song running around in my brain. As I teach, I raise more questions in my mind of our fantastic creation. God designed man so incredible. What is soul, body (I think we know a little about that) and spirit? I’ll get into more of that in future thoughts on this topic.

The idea of a soul goes beyond religious concepts. I think of Dr. Faustus selling his soul to the devil and the parity in the Simpson’s where Bart did the same, except to his friend Millhouse, Homer sold his for a donut.

We seem to have a self-evident understanding that there is more than material that makes up man, including reason, conscience, heart, will and more. I won’t mention too much that scripture talks in depth about the soul and spirit.

I wanted to write on one of the best questions I received while spending time at the local community college and creating space for dialogue issues of life and God. Troubled by the current events of the Terry Schiavo case, a couple of girls asked me when does the soul leave the body. This question hits on the root of any argument of death and life. Including a recent story in Italy, where a woman passed away after a long battle over her “right to die”.

When God created us, he breathed life into us, Gen 2:7: “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” NIV

This idea that the soul (living being) became alive makes you wonder when the soul dies or leaves the body at the time the body dies. Jesus breathed his last and gave up his spirit, Matt 27:50: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” NIV

Rachel, Jacob’s wife and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, breathed her last and her soul left her, Gen 35 “It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” NASB

Soul from a post-modern sense deals with rationality and reason alone. We are alive because we can reason. Here is a link to an argument why Emmanuel Cante would advocate for allowing people with low brain function to die.

I won’t get into the argument of what constitutes life, but I am curious when does the soul leave the body. There seems to be a sense of the final breath releasing our soul from our body. From this, I see we hold our soul as long as we have breath in our lungs. Does anyone have another opinion on this topic?

I think the soul remains with the body as long as the body is functioning, but I am not sure to what extent we must go to keep a body functioning. All of this makes me think…

Theology thoughts part 2

Theology…the study of God, what we see in scripture and in his creation gives much to pause over and contemplate, especially over his creation of man. As my class has been looking at the study of man, I have had a lot of questions bumping around in my head. Last week we looked at the Imago Dei, or image and likeness of God. I find the narrative of our creation fascinating in Gen. 1:26-28

“26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God said; let us create man in ‘our’ image. Then God created man in ‘his’ image, in the image of God he created male and female.

He interchanges pronouns referring to God from singular to plural giving the first hints to the complexity of his triune nature. I am also taken back by the fact that male and female were created in the image of God. Together male and female comprise the concept of man…mankind…the image of God. Together as we live in community and family we represent or cast the shadow of God’s image. Image in the Hebrew means literally shadow or outline while likeness means the resemblance of that shadow to the person. The two words are synonymous and fit well into the Hebrew writing style with repetition for effect.

So that begs the question what is the image of God. We received comments in my class about what part of our DNA or appearance resembles that of God? Actually, John 4:24 says that God is spirit. If God is spirit, than his image is spirit. Somehow, he endowed us with a spiritual element, something that set us apart from all other creation. Here are some aspects to the Image…

1. Emotion
2. Purpose
3. Morality or conscience, we can choose to sin or to abstain.
4. Social relationships /love
5. Intelligence, seen in Adam naming the animals as well as how we can string words together connecting with ideas and concepts.

I often wonder at the care and detail God put into making man, the complexity of the our eye, how we think, listening to the heartbeat of a loved one, the complete individuality of each and every person ever created, and many more. However, I just as often wonder at the concept of being made in the Image of our creator. With that brings great responsibility as well as a special set apart amazement. What really does his image look like and how can I best resemble that? And why are man and woman both necessary for us to have the image of a triune God represented on this planet?

Amy Cooper, hanging out after the ELIC conferenceELAmy Cooper and a visit after t

Amy Cooper, and Flickr page:
A friend from college an English teacher in Laos, came through Bangkok last night. Tina and I got to spend an evening with her on her way back to Laos. We went out to dinner at a fun local place with some of the Thais from the church who remembered her from her days teaching at the center years ago. We also had some of my students.

We loved spending some time with her at the tail end of her time in Thailand. She came for the annual conference with her group, ELIC, ELIC comes every year to northern Thailand for a conference. Teachers with this organization come from surrounding countries.

Amy it was good hangin’ with you…

The Slum Community

Ole recently transitioned into leading the children’s ministry. Her heart for the children is infectious. She worked with the previous leader in serving the children from the slum community and goes with Tina on the Thursday afternoon trips to teach and train the children. Most of the children in the church’s ministry come from ‘the community’. Ole constantly looks for ways to be a blessing; mind you she lives at the center and collects a meager salary from the church. She would save her money to take them to the local swimming pool or bake special treats for them on Sundays.


Ole’s burden and energy for the children only grew when she was given the time and focus to dedicate to serving this ministry. She opened a game time for the children on Saturday before and after they study English. She connected with Yo’s mom, a new Christian (we know her as the ‘church mom’) to go to the community and encourage the mom’s by just listening to them and talking about parenting issues. Yo’s mom (that is literally her affectionate name around the church) became good friends with one of the community mom’s, and they work together on the Sunday lunches we eat after service. Now this mom recently gave her heart to Jesus. Ole keeps wanting to do more to help the poor that God has given her.


Last week, she moved out of the center into a two-room house in the slum community. Let me paint the picture a little better. These are small houses squished together along a narrow pathway. Ole lives below another house and has a house behind her. She hoped to attract a friend to live with her for safety and companionship, but the prospect of living there was anything but attractive. She moved here to have greater opportunity to know and experience the life and culture of the kids she serves, and by doing so she can give more to them and reach them better for Christ. After only living there for a few days, she has already brought 2 new boys to church and has more interested. Ole really gets what it means to serve people where they are as she moved to Bangkok from the south of Thailand to study at university. Opportunities lay ahead for her, but she followed another path when she gave her life to Jesus after one of the English camps we did. Now she sacrifices what most consider comfortable to help raise the standard of living for an entire community of people.


It is such a blessing to be working alongside of people like Ole. People do not make the decision to become Christian quickly here in Thailand, which is why we teach English and minister to the poor in our community. As they see the love of Jesus acted out, they can make the decision to become a Christian themselves.

What is man here for…dominion of the planet?, work?, and what else…

I wanted to blog on some of my questions and interesting topics from my class here in Bangkok. We are studying the Theology of man and sin this term with the students in Bangkok branch of the Foursquare Thailand Bible College,
This week we looked at the origin of man being divine and some of the false beliefs like evolution and reincarnation (Heb. 8:27).

Reincarnation brought up some interesting discussion as I learned from the students in a culture that holds reincarnation dear to their hearts. I asked them questions. Help me understand what people believe. Basically, reincarnation is a punishment for the sins we have committed (karma). Usually you will go to hell to pay for the sins, but if you cannot fulfill the payment there, you come back again in another life. There is much more, but that covers the idea.

We also looked into the purpose of man here on this earth and in the future. First of all, we are purposed to relationship and love both to God and with one another. Within our purpose we have an assignment. Gen. 2:15 gives us the assignment of Adam to work the garden. I find it interesting that work is not a consequence of the fall, but difficulty is the result.

I wonder what the work was like in the garden. I am reminded of a lecture I attended with Dallas Willard, where he talked about the garden and our original intentions. He made the point that sweat is a result of the fall, talking about the idiom ‘no sweat’. He made the point that you don’t sweat when you just stand around…to which Tina and I turned to each other and said he hasn’t been to Thailand has he. I retold the story in class, and immediately all the students came to the same conclusion with a little chuckle.

My first question simply is one of curiosity, what was the working the garden like?

My second question revolves around the command to take dominion. What is the balance between extreme conservation and environmental protectionism and unfettered progress? The students facetiously made the point it is ours and we can do what we want. On the other hand, we need to take care of everything. What is the balance?

Funny Valentine’s Day Cards

While I was looking for a Valentine’s Day card for Andy I ran across some very funny ones so I thought I would share them. 

Valentine's Day cardsThe inside was not any better…it simply said “but I really love you”

A card appropriate for a girlfriend on the side.

Valentine's Day cards 2

I can’t write the inside because it was too sexy…

Valentine's Day cards 3

A little forward are we?

Among these funny cards, were very simple and boring cards. It took a long time, but I did find a nice card for Andy, romantic and sweet.

Serving…part of the Thai culture…

As a westerner, I often find it hard to receive service. As a blind person, I often need to rely on others service. The tough part to balance is when to be independent and when to be dependant on others. One of the biggest lessons I learned in losing my eyesight was to be dependant on others. I learned this as went through rehabilitation and learned independent living skills at ICRE (Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education).

We all live in community and to some level or another are dependant on others, whether co-workers, teammates in a sport, family, or whatever the connection. However, my American culture tells me to be self-reliant and pick myself up by the bootstraps. I need to take care of myself. The axiom is that I do need to take care of myself, but others certainly help in the process.

Here’s a story to illustrate the idea of allowing people to serve. I went to the lobby of our apartment to pick up the McDonald’s delivery, and our apartment manager was waiting to help me pay the delivery man. She also swiped the card for me to let me back in the door and pushed the button on the elevator. These are all things she has watched me do before, but she just wanted to help. Thai culture is such that Thai people just like serving and offering a helping hand. Thai people love to carry your bag, get your food, or a number of little things to be helpful, especially to their elders, teachers or those in a higher status.

For a brief description of Thai culture

I stopped to think as I rode the elevator up to our seventh floor room…that was nice. I could have taken her help indignantly, as if why couldn’t she let me take care of myself. But really, as a manager, she didn’t have anything to gain by waiting around and helping me. She was just going out of her way to be kind.

Two quick related stories. First, while I was in rehab and learning how to go places on my own, I had to ask some one to help me find the train station entrance. I was half-a-block away when a nice guy guided me to the door. He commented something that stuck with me ever since. He said I must be a helpful person. I said, huh…to which he replied, you were willing to receive help.

The second story took place when I was on a train coming back from Wisconsin. A surly older gentleman sat behind me. We conversed a little bit as he told some of his recent stories, and he told me of all his ailments. When we came to his stop, I offered to help him with his bags as he yelled for the conductor to hurry back for him. I thought I would help knowing the conductor was coming as he checked on other things as well. The man was irascible, and went on his own still barking for the conductor to come help him. Some people won’t allow help trying to be self-reliant and demand it from those whose job it is to serve.

Okay, Okay…I have one quicker story to relate. When I was teaching Spiritual Disciplines in the Bible College, we were talking about how we could raise the standard of serving. One girl in the class thought about how she could do more to serve her brother. She had one concern…that he wouldn’t get used to it and grow to expect it.

How does our attitude to serve or be served allow or prevent more service and a deeper sense of community with those around us?