God remembers His covenant.

Remember, Anoint, Covenant, Mammon

Definitions and Meanings

Tap or click on the words below. The text will roll down; re-tap to roll back up. These are meant to be a start, a step beyond mere definition. They'll be like the one you see on top.


anthropomorphism : using human (Greek anthro-) forms (Greek -morph) or characteristics to describe spiritual beings such as God, angels, or demons.

Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit have actual eyes, ears, hands, mouth, voice, or face, as far as we know. Yet by using such familiar terms (anthropomorphisms), we humans can more easily grasp something important about God. Through them we can picture what God is doing, and thus get some hint of what God is like. God has honored these material-world body parts, and the words and ideas related to them). God blesses our body-ness through 'incarnation': taking on our physical limits and living among us as the material-being Jesus. The Lord also blesses us by communicating and relating to us through what we touch and handle and use with our bodies, through bread and wine, ink and paper, helping hands and handshakes.

The danger in using anthropomorphisms comes when we think of God like we do ourselves, when in fact God is quite different, much freer, much 'bigger'. That can cause us to think too highly of our own limited, body-bound ways of doing things. Technically, all words and images we use about God are in some sense 'anthropomorphisms', since they all come from our own experiences in a world of shapes and bodies. But some words and phrases are much better than others at catching who God is and what God is about. Some words are 'analogs', similar in kind to something God is or does. Some words prompt our minds to reach for something beyond ourselves, to make us freer and 'bigger' in a Godly way. The Spirit gives special strength to those anthropomorphisms, in the Bible, in prophecy, in life, and even sometimes in theological shop-talk.

'Anthropomorphism' is one of those words that sends the wise reader rushing to the dictionary.

What Is a Covenant?

covenant : A contract, pact or agreement. For Jews, it is a contract between God and a specific people, originally made with , and later expanded with Moses to include God's Law for the people, and then to cover them as a nation under David. This covenant is what created the identity of the Jewish people. Christians have a covenant, too, which is seen as the fulfillment of the Jewish covenant but meant for the whole human race. This covenant was marked by Christ's execution on the cross where our sin was taken away, and by His return from death. This covenant creates the identity of the Christian church. In both cases, the covenant includes promises and responsibilities. Yet God finds ways to hold us His end anyway, whatever we do. When we covenant with someone, that is to be our approach, too.

You can also check 'covenant' in the .

What Is Mammon?

Mammon [ < Aramaic mamōnā (riches)] Material wealth. In English, as in Jesus' use, Mammon bears the connotation of evil influence or ill-gotten gain. The poor classes of Jesus' day probably used it in such a way, as poor classes all over the world often use words of wealth.

Mammon is not so much 'money' as it is 'wealth'. And it's not so much about 'wealth' as it is the state of spirit where wealth becomes the reason you do what you do with your life, an idol for whom you warp everything about yourself. Some preachers have covered up for this false god by saying that in using the word 'Mammon' Jesus was referring to anything worldly that draws one away from following God. They've got a point, but it misses Jesus' main point on this occasion. When Jesus spoke of 'Mammon', he was talking specifically about the one thing that's more likely to be an idol than anything else: material wealth. Wealth preoccupies our lives the way that God should. When something else gets what only God should get, it is an idol, and thus it was appropriate to use the Aramaic idol-like name of Mammon for wealth as an idol, to describe human idolatry.

What Is 'to minister'?

to minister [ Latin minister (servant, one who performs a service)]. To serve or help another.

In the Christian context, to minister is to serve or help in the name of Christ, through the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. (). Anyone who does this is a 'minister', though most people use the word to describe the 'ordained minister' who an organization sets apart to take care of the sacraments, preach sermons, and devote themselves to the spiritual care of the members of the local church. (The root meaning tells us why in most governments, cabinet members are called 'ministers' and their offices are called 'ministries' -- they're supposedly there to serve the nation.)

The Hebrew word for ministring is sharath, which means 'to attend to or wait on'. The New Testament uses several Greek words for this, including hierourgeo (to serve in a priestly or cultic way); huperetes (a subordinate); and the primary word for Christian thought about service, diakonos (one who does another's bidding).

You can also check the dictionary for ''.

What Is Numinous?

'numinous' means filled with the sense of the presence of spirit or divinity. [ Latin numen (spiritual force of a place/object/being < a head-nod) ]

In Christianity, God is everywhere, but there are certain places at certain times where the sense of God's presence, and its mystical special-ness, is stronger than at other times and places. This is expressed as God's being 'more present' or 'more potent'. Those moments are numinous. (There is also the sense of God's deliberate absence, which the Lord sometimes does to remind people of God's usual presence.) Numinous moments are experienced instead of figured out. Numinousness (or is it numinosity?) has also been expressed by some Christian authors, including C.S. Lewis, as being where the separation of material reality from the spiritual reality is 'thin', to the point where one can 'see' through it. Of course, all descriptions of numinous encounters fail to catch all of it; they are an attempt to describe that which by definition can't be described or measured.

You can also look up 'numinous' in the dictionary.


To remember is to keep in mind; to not be held hostage to the now. To be able to follow through on past greatness, or to reject the sins of old when they are repeated today. To draw on the emotional impact of past love to help you through the dry times. If you do not remember, you cannot learn, and you are left unable to use the knowledge you might already have had. Remembering is how pivotal moments and dear people continue to impact your life. When Jesus broke the bread on that last supper with his disciples, he is reported to have said to do this "in remembrance of me". You can't follow a Christ you forget in your daily life.

Other related verbs include: to recall, reenact, bethink, bear in mind, treasure, reminisce, relive.

You can also check the meaning of 'remember' in the dictionary. (Remember to click the link.)

Other Meanings for "Angel"

Angels are messengers (Heb. mal'aki) from beyond the material realm. They do God's errands -- mostly to tell us about something God is doing or is about to do. They can lead people to do (or not to do) things, but they do not interfere with peoples' own choices once those are made. They also have a protective role -- while Scripture is not very clear on how this works, the reports of the faithful over the years are clear about it. Oh, by the way.... they're not always nice.

The meaning of the term 'angel' in some countries and settings has a non-divine meaning, derived from their goodness and/or their rescue abilities. For instance, in urban England (and also in the subculture of Broadway in the US), an 'angel' is an investor whose money saves the show, or saves a company. This meaning recently expanded so that it's used at times for venture capitalists (also in some cases known as vultures; it all depends on results and viewpoints). In Australia and the Philippines, sometimes an 'angel' is someone who comes to the rescue in troubled circumstances. In the US, someone who is seen by others to have an amazing goodness in them is called an 'angel' (and if there's a strongly malicious intent, the person is called a 'devil'). It's also a term of endearment for lovers, and for deceased loved ones (especially ones who died at an early age). It's also the term for a player for the Los Angeles Angels baseball team, in Anaheim CA. But each of these so-called '' is not the main meaning of 'angel'. The religious meaning birthed the others. It's good to remember what an angel is really like when we use the term in other ways.

Anoint and Anointed

to anoint [ < Old French enoindre < Latin inunguere < in- (on) + unguere (to smear, apply ointment) ] To apply oil onto someone.

When the ancients wanted to heal a wound, they poured or daubed oil onto it. Then the anointing oil became a symbol of God's healing powers, and anointment became a sign of trust that God heals. It is still a practice among some Christian churches to anoint the sick with oil, as found in James 5:14-15. From there, oil became a symbol of other powers of God. A chosen person would be anointed to mark their being given special authority by God, including authority to govern. The word 'Mashiach' or 'Messiah' refers to the ultimate Anointed One who was chosen to make the ultimate rescue of God's people; the Greek word for this is 'Christ'. Christians hold that this Anointed One was Jesus of Nazareth.

At baptism God 'anoints' each Christian with the Holy Spirit; we then belong to God. The Spirit then teaches us what is needed.

There is also a specialized use of the term 'anointing' by Pentecostalist and Charismatic believers. When someone is said to be 'anointed', it means that the Spirit 'pours' onto them like oil -- that is, the person has been given special power/authority by the Holy Spirit to work with the Spirit in accomplishing the task at hand. The 'anointing' shows itself when the beneficial task is done well and is extraordinarily effective. The 'anointed' person(s) or their activity is then said to be operating 'in the Spirit' and 'outside of themselves'. (In some less-careful circles, 'anointed' has been dumbed down to mean 'good', even if there's no other reason to think that the Spirit might be involved rather than skill or knack.)

Anointing with Oil

A reader writes:

> A friend and I with the permission from authority have started to
>pray over our church school and anoint the place with oil as we go.
>Another friend as asked me what my scriptual basis for this is. I know
>people were anointed with oil as there were commissed for service. I
>know that oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Can you tell me more??

Oil is indeed a symbol of the Spirit, and is used as a sign of healing. The origin may have been in the ancient use of spiced oils in treating sores and wounds (it keeps the wound clean and moist, and when spiced it can have a mild anti-infective effect). The connection with healing is still strong, and is found in James 5:14 and Luke 10:34. Later (but still before the Bible was written), it came to be used to mark inner healing and purification, and thus was used at death, and when consecrating a church member for a holy purpose (for example, Exodus 25:6, 1 Samuel 10:1). These uses were true of and North African cultures as well as Middle Eastern ones. Since the spirit of the god(s) (whether seen as a being or a force) was seen as the agent making this healing and purification possible, the oil came to symbolize that spirit.

From there, the symbolism developed further to where objects (such as chalices, altars, and even buildings) were anointed to symbolize the object's being dedicated to God's use. This is still a part of the Orthodox and some Catholic traditions, and Anglicans have been known to do it too. Objects are anointed with consecrated water if oils would stain the object.

What is Unction?

unction [ < Latin unguere (to anoint, oil)] The act of anointing or pouring balm or oil onto something.

The word "unction" is rarely used outside of religious circles. When someone is 'anointed' or given a special blessing of effectiveness by the Spirit, then the blessed tasks are done under an 'unction', or an in-pouring of the Spirit. A happening that is 'under unction' is something that is being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, in a way that is beyond merely human action. There is an unction for the function. The word is often used too broadly, for instance, for things done on a grand scale, or done by a favorite preacher. The word 'unction' is also used too narrowly. For instance, it's not used of people doing extraordinarily faithful things in their everyday line of work, and it's not used of strong, especially-effective public action in support of justice for the downtrodden. Those can be special blessings of effectiveness from the Spirit, so why not speak of unction then, too?

The term 'extreme unction' refers to the Roman Catholic act of a priest anointing a person who has grave or serious bodily illness or injury, or illness from old age. The consecrated oil is put onto where the five senses occur (eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, and hands), as well as the feet. Extreme Unction is sometimes referred to as the "Last Rites", usually administered for the dying. Eastern Orthodox churches don't call it 'extreme unction', and do it in some different situations, but they also have a form of it. In origin, it is drawn from ancient rituals of anointing the more generally-sick with oil for healing, and from preparing the body for burial. Some Protestants has recently returned to the ceremonial use of anointing oils for the sick. However, the Roman Catholic form has a very specific sacramental function, that of calling on God to pardon the sin of those in danger of dying.

What Is 'the River'?

'the River' : The wave of Pentecostal revivalism, usually referring to the wave that first swept out from Toronto in the recent past. It's characterized by emotional experiences and some rather vigorous manifestations: falling to the floor, body gyrations, laughter, etc. and in the early going, even animal sounds. The term 'The River' was chosen by many of those involved because it gives a word-picture of what this wave feels like, rather than refer to it (as the press has) as 'Toronto Blessing' or 'Redding Revival' or so on. The 'River' also catches the revival's character - it flows along from one place to another, and just as it peeters out another flood rolls in from somewhere else.

The 'river' imagery is ere old, going back to pre-Christian Middle Eastern baptisms for ritual cleanness. These were originally done in streams and springs, in moving water, but later was shifted to pools in or near places of worship. John the Baptist recast the river imagery in a daring new way in his ministry, by making a baptism for repentance its foremost character. Jesus Himself was baptized by John in a river, and His disciples also baptized. The song 'Shine Jesus Shine' calls on the Spirit to flow as a river in us; the song 'Peace Like A River' sings of the settled soul God gives us, flowing in us and going outward.