Did you see the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
It has been my life. In 1992, I married my Greek husband, Mike (aka Minas). Little did I know what I was getting into.
On our wedding day, An Egyptian friend brought a pan of his famous baklava to our reception as a gift. Watching all the Greek women surround that pan of baklava, smelling it and holding it to the light as they whispered in Greek, “What is this?” “Who brought it… it’s not Greek…” was embarrassing.
Moral of the story? Take nothing but Greek baklava to a Greek wedding or any other Greek get together…They know the difference!
When Mike and I got engaged, we went to a family party for his uncle. I have never had so many people kiss my cheeks in one day. About the time I met everyone, it was time to say our goodbyes and start the entire process again.
Just like the movie, Greeks name their children after someone else in the family, and as a result, you have many of the same names in one family. There is a Louis 1, 2 and 3, and Louis 1’s daughter is Louise, who has a daughter named Mary after Mike’s mom. So, there is Mary, my mother-in-law, Mary, my husband’s cousin, as well as a niece, and our daughter’s middle name is Mary. Mike’s dad was Theodore, then there is Mike Theodore, Anthony Theodore, Teddy, and T.J. (Theodore James.) There are two Michaels and one Mike, too.
And, no doubt, I have missed some!
His family is wonderful! His parents, who have now passed, never made me feel anything less than family. They had big hearts with which to love all their children, in-laws, and grandchildren. They would have done anything for you.
I learned a great deal about the Greek culture and language living in this family. My husband likes to say “Greeks are proud of their pride” or is it, “They take pride in being proud.” Anyway, it’s true. They have a lot to be proud of.
There are many Greek words that can’t be translated into English. Mike’s family owned a restaurant which I helped with every once in a while. Mary spoke both Greek and English. With us she would sometimes start in English and suddenly switch to Greek in the middle of the sentence because there was not a word in English to say what she wanted to say. When I asked her what she said, she would answer in two or more sentences to define the Greek word.
This knowledge helped me appreciate the language and culture of the New Testament. Word studies fascinated me, and they deepened my understanding of scripture.
However, I have learned there is a big difference between the Greek and Hebrew minds and/or thinking. It’s good to understand this when studying scripture.
Greeks are logical thinkers. Their (ancient) language is made up of mostly nouns, and the pronouns used most are “I” and “me.” The Greeks heavily influenced our culture, as well as most of Europe starting with Alexander the Great.
Greek philosophers taught more about the mind than the heart. They believed only the state could teach children, parents were incapable.
The Hebrew mind is quite different. Consisting of more verbs, their language is about doing, not thinking.
The pronouns they use most are, “we,” and “us.” They thought with their hearts, not their heads. In the ancient language there was no word for mind, they included it in the word for heart. They also believed in teaching the child from home. Every son learned the skills of their father, like Jesus.
In Greek, the word believe is pisteuō, and it means, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4100)
In Hebrew, a word for believe is aman, it is compared to a tent peg.
“The word, ‘believed’ is the very same Hebrew verb aman.
The picture we have from this is that Abram was firm in his devotion to God. Just as a stake planted in firm ground supports the tent, even in a storm, Abram will support God, even in the storms of life.”
“The Hebrew verb aman means more than just knowing something to be true.”
“The Hebrew in Genesis 15:6 does not say Abram, ‘believed’ God, it says he was ‘firm’ in God. From Genesis 26:5 we see that he was firm in his obedience to God and his Torah.” (https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/studies-interpretation/aman-believe.htm)
The Greek word believe deals with what we think to be true, and where our confidence or persuasion lies, while the Hebrew meaning represents a firm foundation in God and His Word. Hebrew deals with action, not thought.
So, many can say, “I believe in God”, or “I believe in Jesus” without really putting their trust in Him. Unless there is an action, or devotion, and a firm foundation in God and His Word, believe can mean little more than, “I think he is real.”
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.James 1:22-27
We need to consider whether we want to be like the Greeks or the Jewish people in our thinking. Do we want to be thinkers or doers?
This week’s blog post was written by my friend, Diane Virginia who is a wonderful story-teller. Her blog address and information will follow her post. Please take the time to visit her blog.
Recently, while I was eating at a local burger restaurant, I felt an inner nudge to visit a clothing store after I was done eating. I did so. As I arrived there, I saw a homeless man I recognized named Mike.
I got caught up between two car mirrors. That sure did catch Mike’s attention. He laughed, and we struck up a conversation and he asked for money.
“I can’t give you money, but I’ll be glad to buy you a meal. Do you like hamburgers?” I pointed toward the restaurant.
“Can I get a hot dog? Or two?”
“Sure. Let’s go get you two hot dogs. And we’ll get you fries, a drink, and ice cream.”
“I don’t want no ice cream. It’s too cold fer that.”
“I understand,” I said, but then I wondered if I really understood the bone-chilling cold this gentle soul faced every winter.
We started walking.
As I stepped inside the burger joint, Mike hovered at the door.
“It’s okay. Please… come inside.”
“Okay, but I’s gonna eat outside.”
As is often the case, a homeless person is so used to being shamed he/she often will not enter a building.
Mike entered and cautiously looked around. He was probably wondering if he would get kicked out.
The server looked at me, puzzled, “Back so soon? Did you decide to get ice cream?”
“My friend is hungry. Mike, tell the lady what you want.”
“I wants a hot dog.”
“Make that two please…”
Mike was modest with his order. To drink, he asked for a cup of water without ice. He didn’t order fries because he had chips in his backpack that were “not too old to eat.” The entire order cost less than five dollars.
While we were waiting, Mike talked. I knew for sure this was God’s heavenly assignment so I listened to the still small voice within, knowing my Lord would guide our conversation. Mike shared his former employment as a painter. But that had been fifteen years prior. He had been unable to get disability even though he’d applied several times.
“Mike,” I said, “perhaps you haven’t been able to get disability because you can do something.”
“That’s what they says, too.”
“I can’t climb ladders no more.”
“So, what’s stopping you from trying something new?”
“I care about you so tell it to me straight. Do you want help to overcome that?”
By this time, Mike’s hot dogs had arrived. He could have fled, but instead, he bowed his head like he was determining whether I was a safe sounding board. Mike rested his hands open on to the bar top. I gently touched his wrist. Mike grasped my hand, and with sincerity that melted my heart, and bore his soul.
“Alls I got is my drinking. Some days it’s lonely, an’ a good drink takes the edge off. Lotsa days, it’s cold ‘specially when the winds a knockin’ at ye collar like it was last night. If I takes to the bottle, I don’t feel it as bad. So, I don’t want to give up my booze. We’s friends, that bottle an’ I. We’s old friends.”
“Would you believe me if I said you can have a new beginning?”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;
old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
II Corinthians 5:17 KJV
“Is ye talkin’ bout Him? I likes Him, see?” Mike rolled up his sleeve and revealed a cross tattoo.
“Yes. Jesus has a good plan for you. And He is just the man to help you get unstuck. When was the last time you visited Him at church?”
“I walk past a church from where I sleep in the woods. I wants to go in. I think ‘bouts that a lot! Purty much always… But I don’t think they wants the likes of me.” Mike glanced at his attire and frowned.
I could sense Mike’s quandary. He could go to the house of God in worn clothes while he watched church members show up in their Sunday best. He knew he’d be the oddball.
“Blessed be thou, O LORD; teach me thy statutes!”
Psalm 119:12 RSV
There it was again rearing its ugly head—a creature named, “Shame” had browbeaten this gentleman once too often. I was ready to act.
I knew exactly why I was there. The same Spirit who had nudged me to drop by the store Mike was sitting at was also prompting Mike to attend a certain church, and my guess was there was a preacher who was being prompted to deliver a sermon that would be just what Mike needed to hear. I was pretty certain congregants would be sensing urges to welcome this gentle soul into their fold.
God was converging forces, in an attempt to rescue a soul who had wandered for over fifteen years.
“Listen to me, okay? You go to that church and you hold your head high. God loves you just as much as He loves the preacher at the pulpit and the people who attend. You are welcome there. They are most likely waiting for you to visit. So, this Sunday, go up to the church steps and go inside. Even if you’ve been drinking, go in anyway, okay? When you go inside, listen to the message, because I’m sure the pastor has written it just for you.”
“Is ye sure?”
“Yes. Do you believe me?”
“I hope so….”
“Hold onto that hope.”
I knew Mike would answer my next question as candidly as he answered the others.
“Mike, will you go to that church this Sunday?”
Mike put his hand to his chin.
“Yes. Imna go…”
“Can I pray with you? Because I’m pretty sure your new beginning will start when you walk through those church doors.”
“And ye shall seek me, and ye shall find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the LORD.”
Isaiah 29:13 KJV
Mike removed his cap and grasped my hands before I asked him to. I felt the cold of his skin and the slenderness of his fingers clinging to my hands as if holding mine tightly would make his world straighten. I prayed and thanked Mike for allowing me to share part of his day. I hoped that because he relied on the generosity of others to provide meals, this also afforded him numerous opportunities to hear about how deep and wide the love of God truly is… I knew Mike’s new beginning would start when he chose to hold tightly to his Savior’s nail-scarred hands.
Father God, help me to hear Your inner voice. Fill me with love for those You send my way. Help me to help those who have lost their way, to discover the good plan You have for them. Help me to not be too busy to respond to Your Spirit-nudges, and to accept Your heavenly assignments.
Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.
She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.
Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.
To schedule Diane as a speaker, please contact her via her website: Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine. You may find her on Facebook or contact her via email at email@example.com.
I was the fifth child of seven born to my parents. I was the fourth of six girls. Here’s where most people say, “Your poor father!”
My parents had a significant age gap between them; my dad was fifty-years-old when I was born. By the time I was two months old, my brother died from medical complications from a condition he was born with. He was ten.
Before my fifth birthday, my family moved from the suburbs to a large farm in southwest Ohio. My parents loved the country and the spacious property gave our large family room to grow and play. By my sixth birthday, my dad suffered a massive stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. All his dreams for that property died. Even at six, I knew my life would be different.
I was a daddy’s girl. He held me on his lap when the doctor gave my vaccines with a gun-like device that left a scar the size of a dime on your upper arm. (I think that’s why we called them “shots.”). My father taught me to ride my bike on the sidewalks of our suburban home and brought us donuts he made before leaving work as an executive chef.
Everything seemed to have changed. His personality and his body were different—broken.
The farmer, my parents bought our home from bought it back and let us live in the house for $100 a month until my parents got back on their feet. We lived there until I was twenty-one. I hated leaving that place when the next landlord gave our home to his newly married son.
My mom and the six of us girls did everything. We did the housework and the yard work. My dad sat on the porch watching us cut the grass with a push mower fearing we would get hurt. When we complained about cutting the grass or working in the garden, he would just say, “I know, I wish I could do it.” I now understand as an adult how much it hurt him to have to watch his daughters do “his” work.
He struggled with depression and feelings of uselessness.
I am unaware of my dad’s spiritual life before his stroke, but I know after his stroke his life changed spiritually.
He prayed constantly; not for himself, but for his family. My dad prayed for strength and comfort for my mom, who had to work long and hard hours to support the family. He prayed for each of us girls to know God as he did. Our salvation was the most important thing to him. Dad read the Bible to us every day at dinner and prayed over us before bed as we knelt by his chair so he could put his hand on our heads.
In Hebrews 11, the author shares the faith of many Old Testament saints. These men were righteous in God’s sight because of their faith and obedience in times of trials and persecution.
Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) says, “These all died in faith, not receiving the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Hebrews 11:38 says of these men,”…of whom the world was not worthy.”
They lived and died for their God.
The verse that overwhelmed me was Hebrews 11:16b, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God…” This verse is not in past-tense. It is in the present tense. Why? Because God was not ashamed then, and He is unashamed to be their God now.
No matter how we see ourselves, or how useless we may feel in our jobs or as a stay-at-home mom, or how many times we have messed up and felt as though we have let God and others down; if you belong to Him, He is not ashamed to be called your God. He has a better place prepared for you.
My dad felt useless in his body, but in his spirit, he was full of the life that comes from the Son of God. We may never know on this side of Heaven the impact we have on others. But, God does.
My dad did not realize the influence he had on his six girls. Even from his wheelchair, he spoke life over us and planted seeds for an eternal purpose.
If you do not have someone like this in your family, then be that person to someone else. Your eternal reward is priceless.
My dad died one month after I married twenty-seven years ago. I am thankful God allowed him to “walk” me down the aisle. He was a good man and a great father. I thank God he is whole again.
What’s your story? I would love to hear about it.