The Strange Ire of John MacArthur October 16, 2013Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
Tags: charismatic theology, John Macarthur, Matt Chandler, reformed theology, strange fire, Tim Challies
If you follow American Christianity at all, chances are you have heard of John MacArthur. He has been acclaimed as one of the best Bible teachers in the world. He is a member of the Reformed theology tradition and is a staunch cessationist, meaning he believes certain spiritual gifts (namely: tongues, miraculous healing, prophecy, etc.) ceased with the completion of the Bible. In MacArthur’s view, the Bible is God’s perfect gift to us and we no longer need those more miraculous spiritual gifts. That brings us to today’s post. As I write MacArthur is currently hosting the Strange Fire conference; a conference all about dismantling the continuationist or charismatic view of spiritual gifts (the view that the gifts spoken of in the Bible still do happen today).
I have a problem with MacArthur’s view and his conference. Mainly, I find it in high error for MacArthur to attack the millions of believers who hold to charismatic theology. From MacArthur’s own research, there are 500,000,000 Christians who hold to charismatic theology. It is one thing to disagree, that is fine and I’d argue that disagreement can even be healthy when done in peaceful dialogue with those whom you are in disagreement. But, MacArthur does not do that. In fact, MacArthur claims that when events happen that charismatics attribute to the Holy Spirit, it is actually Satan that is behind them. This claim is sickening. MacArthur basically accuses 500,000,000 of his brothers and sisters of devil worship. The troubling part of this is that this is exactly what the Pharisees accused Jesus of doing in Matthew 12:24. MacArthur has unwittingly sided with the Pharisees against Jesus.
Another problem for MacArthur is that he touts Reformed theology as true “biblical” theology, and contrasts it with charismatic theology. But, there are many believers who adhere to both charismatic and Reformed theology. One of the most renowned reformed theologians in the world is Wayne Grudem. Grudem’s massive Systematic Theology textbook is required reading in many seminaries. Grudem also happens to be a charismatic. I’d be interested to hear the dialogue between these two. But, the “Reformed Charismatic” label doesn’t stop with Grudem. Prominent reformed pastors like Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Joshua Harris, and John Piper also hold to charismatic theology. For MacArthur to put Reformed theology and charismatic theology at odds is completely unnecessary and misleading.
I don’t want to mislead anyone either. There are times when certain charismatic believers have gone too far. The charismatics who use theatrics and the charlatans who have used their “gifts” to turn a profit need to be rebuked and corrected. But, these that pervade Christian television are not the true example of charismatic Christianity. MacArthur is right about one thing, discernment is needed to see when people are truly acting in the power of the Holy Spirit and when they are making a mockery of the power of the Holy Spirit. True followers of Jesus who believe in and pursue the gifts of the Spirit have so much to offer the Church. It is shameful, arrogant, and sickening to claim that charismatic Christians are operating under Satan. As Matt Chandler said in regards to his view of charismatic theology, “I have never read anything in the Scriptures where the devil was in the business of converting hearts to Jesus Christ.”
*The references to what John MacArthur said have come from Tim Challies blog where he is live blogging the Strange Fire Conference. You can follow his updates at http://www.challies.com
**You can see an interview with Matt Chandler on being a reformed charismatic here
***You can see two interviews with John Piper talking about his charismatic views here
Left and Forsaken September 6, 2013Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
It’s been quite a past few weeks in my life.
I am now in the early stages of recovering from major knee surgery. I also have taken on massive amounts of debt in order to pursue my dream/calling by enrolling as a graduate student at Fuller Theological Seminary. Whoa.
I am both excited and overwhelmed. Thrilled and terrified.
As if those events are not emotional enough, I’ve had a hard couple of weeks relationally. About two months ago, I became close and emotionally attached to someone. We had great, daily, day-long conversations. We would argue sometimes because we were different, but I cared for her and I think it’s safe to say that she cared for me.
This week, she told me she thought it was best that we parted ways. The emotions were too heavy, I guess.
The problem with that is that I have never been good with people. I usually don’t like them and they often feel the same about me. So, it’s hard to meet someone who I both like and am liked by, only to have them walk away because of the heaviness of emotions, even if it might be “unhealthy” to continue the relationship.
This is compounded by some unpopular posts I’ve made in a online community I’m apart of. Originally, I was happy to be apart of that community because I felt loved and safe to share who I really am. The honeymoon period has worn off for me, I guess, because I rarely feel loved or safe there anymore. When you are a jerk, people care less about you being authentic and more about you not being such a jerk, it seems. I don’t take criticism or rebukes very well, unless it’s from people who have known me for a long time and proven that even my nastiest side won’t scare them away. When I am criticized by people who I haven’t known very long, or who I feel don’t know me very well, I lash out. I become cynical and say things with the intent to retaliate and cause pain as I have been caused pain. When I see other’s happy and loved I get jealous and angry and try to rain on people’s parades. Part of me says that I’m just speaking truth that they can’t see because they are wearing rose colored glasses (and I still think this is partly true), but when I see the pain I’ve caused, it’s too late to repair the damage. People flee from me like they flee from New Orleans during a hurricane. And I can’t blame them. Even when I’m offered forgiveness, it’s clear that the dynamics of the relationship have changed. Is there truly a way to get that back? Do I even want it back? Or is there a perverse part of me that would rather be lonely and hurting as long as it means that I am right?
It’s no secret that I’m awkward. Just look at the title of the blog. I’m starting to wonder if the cause of my lack of friends and successful relationships goes deeper than simple awkwardness though.
I’m scared. I’m sad. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do.
My only option is to cast my cares upon Him, for He cares about me. And he cares for you too. Let’s not forget that. He cares for us. He will never leave us or forsake us. Sometimes it feels too little. But, if we knew the reality of his love for us, we would be overwhelmed with the depths of his friendship…and the fact that he likes us as people. That’s enough for me.
Surgery of the Soul August 22, 2013Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
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“I volunteer for your sanctifying surgery. I know the Spirit’s purging me of everything that’s hurting me.” – Lecrae
Today I have knee surgery. Other than having my tonsils removed when I was a little boy, this will be the first time I’ve been put under. I’m more nervous about the recovery than the operation. I know I won’t feel anything in the operation but I will surely feel plenty in the recovery.
I tore my ACL exactly two months ago when I came off some stairs the wrong way at work. It hurt really bad then and for about a week after it happened. Since then it’s been sore but mostly, I can live with it. It’s interesting that the process to fix what’s wrong with me is probably going to be more painful than any pain I’ve experienced from the actual problem. I guess that’s the way healing works. To be truly whole sometimes we have to endure some pain.
Human beings are fundamentally broken. I don’t think anyone can argue that. To fix our brokenness Jesus was tortured and crucified. He experienced the pain that we needed to endure to bring us healing. By his wounds we are healed.
That doesn’t mean we get off pain free, however. Sanctification can be a painful process. Coming face to face with our own depravity is never a joyful occasion. But, as the Lord continues our healing through the process of sanctification that often what has to happen. Our sin hurts us and hurts others, and when the Holy Spirit convicts us of that, he’s like the surgeon showing us the MRI results of a shredded ACL. It can be overwhelming. But, then as the Holy Spirit removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh, like the surgeon who will replace my ACL today, the healing begins. Then as we go and ask forgiveness from the ones we’ve hurt, it’s like physical therapy, the most painful part of the healing process but the most necessary if we want to be truly whole.
Our entire lives in the spirit are like a surgery. There is pain, but there is also healing. And one day, it will be as if we are brand new. My prayer is that we not give in to the pain, but we press on to the healing.
Tired of Longing July 17, 2013Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
I’ve been tired for a long time, I guess.
Though sometimes I feel like I have no good reason for being tired. I suffer from chronic laziness.
But, there’s only so many times you can take feeling like you’re moving forward only to be catapulted backwards.
I’m tired of girls being affectionate one day and then disappearing the next.
I’m tired of struggling to get an interview with a better job only to be told I’m not experienced, skilled, or just plain good enough. If I’m told anything at all, of course.
I’m tired of being told I’m argumentative when I’m only standing up for what I feel is right and truth.
I’m tired of knowing that sometimes I am the only one to blame for my low satisfaction with life.
I’ve recently met a group of friends that accept and encourage and support and love me like no group I’ve ever had. The only problem is that my interactions with them are entirely through screens.
For those familiar with the “5 Love Languages” I’m definitely a physical touch guy. This is not necessarily erotic touch. I appreciate a slap on the back from a guy almost as much as I do a caress from a woman (in different ways, of course, but they both make me feel good.)
This way of needing a close hug, squeeze of the hand, or even a playful punch in the arm makes it hard being away from people whom you love.
I long to feel the touch of Jesus. Not in a spiritual way, but in a physical way. I daydreamed earlier today about just walking around a lake with him. Our arms around each other’s shoulders, laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I need this. I ache for this. If not from Jesus, then from someone else who loves me strongly.
I want to end this post in some tidy, poetic, inspirational way.
But, I’m tired.
The Fragility of Friendship June 23, 2013Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
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Earlier this week, I sent out a tweet that said, why do we push away those that like us, and chase after those that don’t?
I’m not sure if that tweet is always true, but sometimes it feels that way in my life. I do know in most of my relationships, both romantic and platonic, it seems that the ones that really seem excited when I call or text are the same ones that I roll my eyes at when I see their names pop up on my iPhone. It also seems like the ones that I really want to talk to often reply with the one word replies that we all despise. It’s a paradox of pain.
Recently, a friend whom I adore posted a picture on Instagram of her new hairstyle. I commented about how much I loved it. A few minutes later, someone else commented on it about how good they thought it looked. My friend responded to their comment with a hearty “Thank you!!” but did not say anything to my comment. Is it wrong of me to be hurt by that? I feel like it’s petty for something like that to upset me, but I can’t deny that it does either.
At the same time, I wonder how many times I have ignored those that have reached out to me. Or given the “lol” or “k” replies to those that are just bored and lonely and want to talk to me. As an introvert, it is common to have a few close friends than many. But, I wonder how many more I could have if I would try to take some of the love, concern, and care I give to those who don’t reciprocate in similar fashions (at least not as often as I do), and give them to the people to sincerely like me instead.
Love is both choice and compulsion. Our hearts are geared to care about some people more than others. But, at the same time some relationships aren’t healthy and we must to choose to rein in our hearts. This does not mean we must cut out some people out of our lives completely (though it may), but we must at least protect ourselves from experiencing unnecessary pain due to our own emotions. Friendships are fragile. They must be taken care of. But, so are our own hearts. Sometimes, we must give both, our friendships and our hearts, to the Creator of both and let Him do the caring.
The Rumors of His Demise… June 6, 2013Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
Tags: blogging, Christianity, fear, laziness, risk, seminary, work, writing
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Long time, no blog. I wish I could have a good excuse for you. I got married and had a family and moved to Orlando to work as an Imagineer. Joined the Peace Corps. Went on a worldwide adventure with Bob Goff. But, while those would be awesome. None are true.
The real reason I have been MIA is not because I have been so busy. It’s not even that I’ve had nothing to say. I admit, at times I didn’t see the point in blogging about what I wanted to blog about when so many others can say what I want to say in a much more eloquent way. But, in all honesty, the biggest reason I haven’t blogged in over a year is the thorn in my side I’ve had ever since I was a boy.
I never have liked work. Which isn’t the awful thing to say, I realize. Most people don’t like work and just do it because we have to. The strange thing is, blogging is a type of work I enjoy. It re-freshens and rejuvenates me. But, some times I just wanna watch TV or stare at the wall. It’s particularly hard to write when feeling depressed or tired, as I have been for much of the past year. The day to day job I work really is slowly sucking the life out of me. Plus, I’ve had a few failed attempts of wooing a woman or two that haven’t set well with me, combined with not getting a couple of jobs I really wanted has led to a feeling of being drained all the time. These are all reasons I should have been writing. But, after being in such a funk for such a long time, eventually you learn to live with it and become comfortable enough where you don’t want to exit it. That’s me.
I’ve always written for myself, first of all. When people say they enjoy my writing or it’s helped them in some way, that’s great. I praise God for that. But, the truth is before it helped anyone else it helped me first. My most popular post, The Truth About Being a Socially Awkward Christian, helped me to reveal what really goes on inside my head in social situations, as well as figure out how to deal with them. The fact that I still get comments on that post that I wrote almost three years ago speaks volumes to how much healing God can do when we are really just open and honest about our own demons.
Such is the reason for this post. As I have said, I’ve been in a extremely low point lately. If God really uses my writing to bring healing to myself and to others, then I have no excuse but to write.The thing about laziness is that the only cure for it is the one thing that it hates: work. It’s like the cure for being greedy is to start giving. But, I don’t think any work cures laziness. In fact, if all the work we do is work we hate, I think that makes us lazy in the work we love. So we have to fill our free time with more work, the kind of work that refills us rather than drains us. I applied to another seminary. The seminary I wish I had gone to 9 years ago instead of the college I did. It’s scary because it involves doing more work than I have in awhile, not to mention it could bring with it a lot of debt. But, when a cancers like laziness and depression start eating at your soul, the worst thing you can do is just sit there and die. Risk is apart of life, especially a Christian’s life. And you don’t risk anything by being scared and lazy.
Here’s hoping I’ll see you soon here on this blog. I’m going to try and work to not be away for so long again. Thank you to everyone who reads this for your support.
Visiting a New Church April 2, 2012Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
I visited Church of the King in Mandeville, LA yesterday. I like to occasionally visit other churches just as a change of pace and to see of God might be leading me somewhere new or saying something different. Every time I visit a new church alone I’m stared in the face at how hard it must be to be a single, even more so a single introvert, and searching for a church home. Priority is definitely given to families in southern church culture. Not that the welcome staff at Church of the King was cold to me, it was just pretty clear that they’re not used to many single people walking through the doors alone.
I explored the campus a little bit and was overwhelmed by how nice it was. It wasn’t anything so fancy that made me think they were being over extravagant, but it was a definite step up over my current church home where function is valued over aesthetics.
I seated myself in the second to last row in the back of the sanctuary, which was not as big as I expected. I guess it seated about as many as my church, which seats 1000, but it wasn’t nearly as roomy which made me feel a tad claustrophobic. Especially as it filled to near capacity.
Sitting in the back proved to be a bad decision, as the typically late arriving crowd were constantly being ushered to open seats up to 30 minutes in the service. I found myself being distracted from the worship time by the ushers incessantly communicating with each other about where to guide the late worshippers. In fact, this really started to aggravate me and I started wishing I had picked a less inconspicuous seat closer to the front so I wouldn’t notice this commotion. However, it was interesting being at a church where ushers actually, well, ushered.
This brings up another point. I found the service to be so organized and smooth that it felt almost corporate. The video announcements, for instance, two attractive young people with big smiles trading off reminders of upcoming events. Compare that to my church home’s video announcements featuring reminders that are laced with humor sometimes bordering on the sophomoric side, made me feel somewhat like a redneck seeing New York City for the first time: liking it better where I come from, but not being able to shake the feeling that this place was a higher class than me.
Church of the King was the first true multisite campus I’ve ever attended and the comparisons to lifechurch.tv, a multisite ministry that I enjoy being apart of online, were very evident. I’m willing to bet money that CotK uses lifechurch.tv’s resources and probably uses them as a model which is not a bad thing at all.
Aside from feeling slightly out of place, I enjoyed the service. I found the pastor’s sermon style very engaging and a nice change of pace from the style I usually hear. Even if the message was on the end times and I didn’t agree with everything that the pastor taught, I still feel like I learned something.
Overall, the whole visit was an interesting experience. I’m not sure if I could be comfortable calling Church of the King my home, but I do know I would like to visit again soon.
When’s the last time you visited a different church? What was your experience like? What were the positives and the negatives?
Trusting God in the New Year December 31, 2011Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
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As I write this, we are approximately 6 hours away from the year 2012. New Year’s Eve always brings a melancholy feeling of nostalgia to me, and like many others, hope for the future. Frankly, it is discouraging to be in more or less the same position I was last year. Though there are differences to be sure.
Last year I had a girlfriend who I loved; this year that same girl refuses to speak to me.
Last year I had no job at all; this year I have a job, though one that I am in no way passionate about.
Last year I believed that my sister could never have her own children; this year I anxiously await for my nephew to be born.
As you can see, and can probably relate to, 2011 brought it’s share of pain, frustration, and joy.
The things that I prayed for most did not happen. I’m still single and I still don’t have a job that matters.
And yet I applaud God’s performance in 2011 and eagerly await to see what He has planned for 2012. Because, being that God’s promises to me were not fulfilled in 2011, that means the chances of them being fulfilled in 2012 are that much better. This is what I want us to cling to in 2012. God is faithful. His plan is still to prosper. He has not forgotten us. The fact that His promises have not been fulfilled only means that they will be in the future. That is something worth celebrating in the New Year. Praise be to God Almighty, The Liberating King Jesus, the lover of our souls and the lifter of our heads. Let us trust in Him, and He will make our paths straight.
Happy New Year!
Why I DON’T Believe Everything Happens for a reason December 15, 2011Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
Tags: Christianity, God's Will, Sovereignty
“I know everything happens for a reason…”
It’s one of the most common theological statements I hear. One that is stated without even a hint of doubt. People are supremely confident that no matter what happens, there is a reason for it. A lesson to be learned through the event. The problem is, I don’t think it’s true.
Just this morning, one of my Facebook friends posted this status:
If you love somebody, let them go. If they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.
Translation: If you go through a break up, there’s a reason for it. If you get back together, the “timing” wasn’t right. If you don’t, there’s somebody better out there.
It sounds good on the surface. Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. Whatever happens is God’s Will, right? Well…not necessarily.
The false belief is that whatever happens, is what God wanted to happen. The conventional thinking being that the only reason God would ever let anything bad happen to us whether it be a break up, a job loss, the death of a loved one, or even something on a grander scale like Hurricane Katrina or the Japanese earthquake, is to teach us something to fulfill His purposes for our lives. In some instances, that probably is the case. God certainly does allow certain things to happen to us for a reason. But, everything? I don’t think so.
To say that everything happens for a reason is to say that everything that happens is what God wants to happen. This simply is not true. The presence of sin attests to that. Does God EVER want us to sin? Of course not! Yet, sin exists. In fact, I believe that some negative things happen to us because of our own sin and poor decisions. However, it’s a lot easier to say that the consequence of our sin was just God’s Will and there’s a reason for it than facing the real reason for it: our sin. Also, The Bible is clear that God never wants anyone to die (2 Peter 3:9), but while death has been ultimately defeated through the cross, people still die. This all goes to show that God does not get everything He wants.
Make no mistake, God is in control. But, that does not mean He is all-controlling. He is sovereign, but He is also sovereign over His own sovereignty and He has sovereignly decided to give humans free will. Often times, that free will results in chaos and things happen without any reason. Now, I must say, I find this comforting. It’s comforting because I don’t have to look for the reason in every bad thing that happens to me, I can just trust in God to heal me. It’s comforting because I can rest assured that God has my ultimate good at heart and is not predestining things to cause me pain. It’s comforting because God can bring peace in the chaos.
There is a reason for some things. I trust that God will be able to teach us the reason without us having to obsess over what the reason might be when there is a reason. When there is no reason, we can still trust in His promise that He will make ALL things no matter how painful, chaotic, or reasonless they may be, work together for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).
My Catalyst Experience October 9, 2011Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Catalyst, Christianity, Judah Smith.
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If you read my last post, you know that I was attending the Catalyst Conference this year. Having just got back, I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
First of all, the absolute highlight for me was worshipping with brothers and sisters from all different denominations, from all over the world. Every time Eddie Kirkland, Aaron Keyes, or Joel Houston took the stage to lead us, I was taken aback by 13,000 people with varying doctrinal beliefs lifting their voices in praise to our God. I think that experience alone changed me at my core. On that note, I must say that Joel Houston and Hillsong United are just ridiculous. They are an awesome combination of musical genius and holy anointing. They left me speechless.
Of the speakers, Judah Smith was probably my favorite. His message of Jesus being the only thing necessary to be successful in ministry was of great encouragement to me. His question: “Since when do we have to supplement the Savior?” was right on. Catalyst director, Brad Lomenick, summarized Judah’s message well on when he tweeted, “Jesus + nothing = everything.”
Surprisingly enough, I also enjoyed Mark Driscoll. But, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising being that I often enjoy his teaching when he’s not being arrogant, offensive, or too heavily proclaiming Calvinism. He preached on fear, and I thought he did very well.
I was thrilled when I got to meet Andy Stanley. Andy did a book signing and I was second or third in line. It’s difficult to know put leaders like Andy on pedestal, and I think I do that fairly well. But, I found it hard not to feel a little star struck when he was signing my book. I was also thrilled to meet Ian Morgan Cron, author of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, and Cameron Strang, publisher of Relevant Magazine. But, the person I was most thrilled to meet was a guy named Sonny Lemmons. I met Sonny on Twitter, actually, and have admired his obvious love for his son and wife. I’m also a big fan of his blog. I can honestly say that Sonny is just an awesome a guy in the real world as he is online. I am very happy that I can call him my friend.
I did experience some surprises at Catalyst, both good and bad.
Two great bands were on hand, almost as filler, to play in between sessions and during meal times. There names were Seryn, a folky/rock band and A-Town A-List, who apparently know and could play every song ever created it. Both were a treat to watch and listen to.
Appearances by Jeff Foxworthy, Paige from Extreme Home Makeover, and two acts from America’s Got Talent made special appearances to entertain attendees and in Jeff and Paige’s case, make us aware of homeless ministries and Extreme Home Makeover’s plans to help rebuild Joplin, Missouri.
The Catalyst Podcast encouraged attendees to either bring their own food or stay onsite to eat where “moderately-priced” food would be provided from Chick-fil-A, a local Atlanta BBQ place, and the concession stands in the arena. We chose to just eat what was provided, but were “moderately-surprised” by what they called “moderately-priced” food. A prepackaged box from the Chick-fil-A booth contained a chicken sandwich, a small bag of potato chips, a brownie, and a 16 oz. bottle of water. The price tag? 11 bucks. We stopped at a Chick-fil-A on the way home, and I got a chicken sandwich, 12 piece chick nuggets, and 20 oz. diet Coke for less than $10. Also, a 20 oz. Coke from the arena concession was $4.25. If that was moderately-priced I’d hate to see what Catalyst calls expensive.
But, my biggest gripe was the crowds. Now, I was expecting a lot of people. It was no secret that there was going to be 13,000 people there. But, the traffic flow was horrible. Several times you would become stuck trying to get to a booth you wanted to look at, because a crowd had stopped to look at another one. It was not a friendly place for a claustrophobic. Not too mention, it was the only place I’ve ever been where there were lines for the men’s rooms. The crowds and lines at Disney World have nothing on the crowds and lines at Catalyst. I think it is something that Catalyst has to improve on.
Those complaints aside, I loved Catalyst. It was definitely something I needed and I hope to be back several times in the future.
Were you at Catalyst this year?
What were some of the things/speakers that you liked best? Some things you didn’t like?