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What is Heresy? April 26, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, Christianity, Rob Bell, The Church.
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The word “heresy” is one that is thrown around alot in the Church today, usually when someone disagrees with another’s interpretation of Scripture. And especially when that interpretation might not be considered “orthodox.” I have resolved to never call another Christian a heretic if they are honestly wrestling with Scripture and legitimately come to their conclusion. Afterall, we continually tell people to read and study the Bible for themselves. When we, mere humans, wrestle with the Word of the infinite God, we are bound to get some things wrong. I came across this series of statements on Twitter today from a pastor named Tim Timmons. His points are very compelling, in my opinion. What are your thoughts?

Thinking of those calling Rob Bell a heretic…(heretic is) only mentioned once in the NT. Peter speaks of destructive heresies…that diminish Jesus.

I don’t think that is happening w/Rob. A destructive heresy is literally a destructive opinion & that diminishes Jesus.

HMMM…a destructive opinion w/in the Church today might be thinking that the auditorium is the “sanctuary” of God, when each believer is.

Or a destructive opinion might be when one leader speaks ill of another (called gossip) & gets away w/ destroying a person’s reputation.

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be thinking that Christians have the power to go & convert the world to Christianity.

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be teaching that Jesus prefers mega-churches to the smaller version of the Jesus movement.

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be thinking going forward at an altar call or standing to say, “I believe” is all that is needed…

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be shutting the door on people from other cultures as they want to follow Jesus….

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) is thinking that Christianity is the way, when it isn’t! JESUS IS….

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be thinking Jesus was the founder of Christianity or that he was a Christian…that’s destructive!

And all of those opinions “diminish Jesus” and His preeminence!

Everything added on to Jesus as a pet theological belief oryour favorite commands or your religious system is a potential destructive heresy.

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When Grace is Disturbing January 8, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, Christianity, grace, sin.
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Much has been written about grace and I am not one worthy to add to what’s already been written about it in anyway shape or form. I can’t imagine I can add to what people like Brennan Manning, Andy Stanley, or Mike Foster have written about it in their wonderful books. But, a recent conversation I have become involved in on Facebook (gotta love social media) has prompted me to write this blog. I ask a simple question:

What should our response be when grace disturbs us?

No one has a problem when they are offered grace. It is eagerly accepted and appreciated. To a certain extent, to a certain people, we can even happily give grace to others with as much excitement. But, what happens when grace is offered to people who disturb or disgust us? You know the people that I’m referring to. Those who repulse you enough that you would endure a few seconds of Hell if it meant getting to see them burn. Rapists. Murderers. Child molesters. Terrorists. Homosexuals. Abortionists. Muslims. Liberals. Conservatives. Fundamentalists. Lawyers. Politicians. Telemarketers. Whoever.

The conversation I am involved in began with a friend who posted a link to an article about men who were on the run from police for raping disabled women. Evil and disgusting to be sure. Along with the article, he made the comment, “Sadistic absolutely worthless animals like this do not deserve rights. Bullet in the head.” A few people commented and agreed and even added what they would like to be seen done to these men. While I agreed that they need to be brought to justice, I also stated that as Christians, I believe we should pray for them to be set free from the sin and evil that obviously has them in bondage and hope that God saves them. I believe that our attitude toward them should be one of grace and love, and not a desire for death. I argued this because when it comes down to it, we are (or at the best, were) sick, sadistic animals that need to be put down. The Bible is clear on this, just see Isaiah 64:6 or Romans 3:10-12. The only way we are any better is through the grace of God by the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus died for those men just as much has he died for their victims. He weeps over both. While our heart rightly breaks for the victims, our hearts burn with hate over  the perpetrators while they should be breaking over them as well. This is not saying that there is not a place for righteous anger, but it is misplaced. The anger should be targeted at the “powers and principalities” behind them, namely Satan and his demons.

While it is a perfectly natural human response to see those people that repulse us punished in horrible, horrible ways, Christians are not merely natural humans. We are supernatural. And the grace and love we show to people, even people that disgust us, should be in supernatural amounts.

The Problem of Prayer: An Experiment November 9, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, books, Christianity, confession, Greg Boyd, hearing God, life, Peter Lord, Philip Yancey, prayer.
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Prayer is one of those things that is fundamental to following Christ. Most Christians would agree that prayer, along with Bible reading and going to church, is one of the most essential things to living a successful Christian life. The interesting thing is that while it is considered essential, not many people actually do it that often (the same could be said for the other two), and even when people do pray, they often don’t think they are very good at it. I’m one of the latter. Now, I might pray a line or two throughout the day when something enters my mind that I know I need to pray for. Also, I meet with a small group to pray for about an hour each week before my church’s young adults service, and I actually surprise myself at how well I pray out loud. My problem is sitting down and having focused, intentional, personal prayer time with God. I have no problems spending a lot of time reading the Bible, but when it comes to really pouring my heart out to God in a time of  concentrated personal worship, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, I feel that I lack. This really bothers me because I believe that prayer changes circumstances, people (the person praying most of all), events, at sometimes can even change God’s mind and will cause Him to act in a way that He would not of acted if no prayer was prayed otherwise. With this view of the power of prayer,  not only is prayer a privilege and a right but also a great responsibility. Therefore, there is no excuse for me to not pray.

I have had knowledge of this problem of prayer in my life for awhile now, so I was excited when the young adults ministry at my church started a three week series on the topic of prayer. The more we studied about it the more I realized that I needed to make a change. I started re-reading two books that have influenced my views of prayer the most, Hearing God by Peter Lord and God of the Possible by Greg Boyd, and picked up  Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?  These books and the series at church have helped motivate me greatly, and I feel that God is leading me to try the experiment that I’m about to share with you. Some people may think that this is too small but I think it’s a good way to jump-start my prayer life.

The experiment is this: for the next thirty days I’m going to spend at least one hour in concentrated prayer everyday. Through these thirty days I’m going to try different techniques, formulas, and models. Sometimes I will follow the formula I learned in seventh grade called the ACTS model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Other times I will open the Bible and pray the through the Scriptures, mostly the Psalms, but this will not be a time of Bible study. I will also pray the prayers in books such as The Book of Common Prayer. I’ll try these multiple methods to try and determine which I find to be the most helpful for me to maintain a consistent time with God. Some time over the next 30 days I will also try to take a 3 day personal prayer retreat where I leave to go stay somewhere and leave all forms of technology behind and spend all 3 days in prayer, fasting, and Bible study. I will attempt to blog about my experiences as much as possible. Hopefully, this experiment will enhance both my prayer life and yours as well. I challenge you to try this experiment yourself and we can dialogue about what we’re going through together here on the blog.

UPDATE: As soon as I posted this blog, Greg Boyd also posted one on the same subject. I strongly recommend it. http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/my-car-crash-and-the-open-view/

Are there any prayer models like the ACTS model that you know of that you can share with me?

What are some books that have helped your prayer life?

Will you be trying the prayer experiment with me?

Books Every Christian Should Read (Part 2) October 15, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, books, Brennan Manning, Christianity, Francis Chan, grace, Holy Spirit, John Eldredge, Rob Bell, spiritual authority, theology, Timothy Keller, Watchman Nee.
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Yesterday I started listing some books that I think every Christian should read at least once in their lifetime. This list will continue today, but allow me to say this because I know someone will eventually call me out on it. I am not listing the Bible in this list, because I am assuming (hoping?) that if you are a Christian you read the Bible often, so it goes without saying that Christians should read the Bible. Now that we have covered that, on with the list!

                                                                                                                     Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Most people come down on either side of the fence on Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They either love him or hate him. I’m in the former category. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the vast majority is brilliant. He gets a bad rap from “heresy hunters” who take some things out of context, or just hear some things and don’t bother to even read the book. But, there’s a lot of good stuff that deserves some serious thought in Velvet Elvis. I especially like the section on what Bell calls, “Brickianity.” You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Velvet-Elvis-Repainting-Christian-Faith/dp/0310273080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287160820&sr=8-1

Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Chan is known more by his first book, Crazy Love (a great book in it’s own right), but the lesser known Forgotten God has the more important message for today’s Christians. In it, Chan examines the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and gives a very balanced view of the Spirit’s work in our lives. Not overly Charismatic, and not too traditional, Chan explains how the extremist views of the Holy Spirit have scared many Christians and churches away from even discussing the Holy Spirit and that this should not be. The Holy Spirit is needed in our lives, and Chan does a wonderful job of placing him on the throne that he deserves to be on. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-God-Reversing-Tragic-Neglect/dp/1434767957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287161524&sr=1-1

 Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee

Nee’s story is amazing. He spent the last twenty years of his life in a Chinese prison. Through the face of extreme persecution and torture, Nee maintained a Christlike attitude. In Spiritual Authority, Nee explains how to have this Christlike attitude when it comes to those in authority over us. This is extremely important in today’s Church where our leaders are constantly called into question. Nee even explains how to submit to our authority when they are wrong. He states, “Submission has to do with attitude. Obedience has to do with conduct.” Nee’s message is badly needed today. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Authority-Watchman-Nee/dp/0935008357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287162169&sr=1-1

 Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

While written toward men, I think Wild at Heart should be written by Christians of both sexes. It will help men understand why they are like they are, as well as women. There are some things in it that will initially cause you to disagree with Eldredge, but continue to press through it and you will begin to understand what he is saying. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Discovering-Secret-Mans/dp/1400202817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163161&sr=1-1

 The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

While some would consider Mere Christianity and Simply Christian “apologetics” books, The Reason for God is really the only true apologetics book on my list. While there are plenty of other great books on the defense of Christianity out there, this is my favorite just because of Keller’s intellectual, but conversational, writing style. Most of these kinds of books tend to be scholarly to the point of reading like a textbook. Keller’s, on the other hand, really feels like your sitting in his office and he’s explaining to you why belief in the God of the Bible makes sense. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism/dp/1594483493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163582&sr=1-1

 

                                                                                                     The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Of the hundreds of books written on grace, Manning’s is in a class by itself. Manning delivers a beuatiful picture of how God’s grace is power for what he calls “ragamuffins,” people who are beat up, bedraggled, and burnt out. By that definition, I think all Christians could be considered ragamuffins from time to time. You can buy this at http://www.christianbook.com/the-ragamuffin-gospel-brennan-manning/9781590525029/pd/525020

That’s my current list of books every Christian should read. I’m sure it will grow and expand the more I read, however. This list is by no means exhaustive. So what did I miss? What other books do you think every Christian should read? I look forward to hearing your suggestions and your reviews of the books in my list!

My Other god September 30, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, confession, life, sin.
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The first of the Ten Commandments always struck me as odd. In case you haven’t seen the movie recently (because isn’t that where we all first learned them? I can never read any story about Moses without picturing Charlton Heston), the first commandment as in Exodus 20: 3-6 says,

  You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (ESV)

It’s always been hard of me to think of God as being “jealous,” being that jealousy is usually seen as a negative trait. Even one of Paul’s most popular New Testament passages says that, “Love is not jealous” (1 Corinthians 13:4).  But, that’s what God says about Himself. He is jealous. He loves us so much, and wants our love in return, that He experiences the emotion that we call jealousy when we give the love that should be His and His alone to another god. I think most of us dismiss this verse as more speaking to the Israelites in those days and not su much to us, because we don’t have “carved images” or idols, that we bow down, serve, and pray to. At least not in the most literal sense. But, I’ve come to realize in my own life, that I probably break this commandment more than any other commandment in the entire Bible. Though I don’t bow down or pray to any little statue or anything like that, I do turn to other things when I should turn to God.

I turn to the god of food when I’m in need of comfort.

Food makes me feel better about my situation, if only for a few minutes. At times, I feel like I don’t even have a choice in the matter. After leaving the church on Wednesdays after youth service, I have to go through the Taco Bell drive-thru, even when I’m not that hungry. It’s like a ritual or sacrament. While eating three chicken quesdillas at ten o’clock at night might sound like it’s bad only for my physical health, it’s also detrimental to my spiritual health, because I’m looking at the food to fulfill an area in my life that only God can. I’ve often argued that God is not concerned about this as much as my other sins. I’ve said things to myself like, “I need to overcome this lust issue, before I focus of this gluttony issue.” When truth be told, God wants me to turn all my sin over to Him, and they are all destructive. In some ways, serving the god of food is worse than serving the god of pornography. Every Christian peer I have would call me out if they saw me buying an adult movie from the mall, not one of them would think anything of it if they saw me buying a triple from Wendy’s. But, this addiction to food (and it is an addiction, let’s call it what it is) has me in just as much bondage as an addiction drugs or sex. It’s bad for my body and it’s bad for my spirit. That’s exactly what worshiping idols do to you, they leave you with a broken body and spirit.

Slowly but surely, I’ve heard God’s call to me to lay down my idols, to turn my back of my other gods, and to worship Him only. To only find fulfillment in my relationship with Him and Him alone.

What are some of your idols? How can we help each other turn our backs on them and only worship God?

The Nature of Revival September 11, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, charisma, Christianity, cynicism, Holy Spirit, Revival, spiritual gifts, The Church.
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The video above is from a “revival” happening in Mobile, Alabama. I had the chance to attend this revival, which is now being held in the Mobile Convention Center, last night.

I am no stranger to revivals. I was raised Southern Baptist and actually got saved at a Baptist “revival” in my hometown of Picayune, Mississippi when I was ten.

A few years later, some friends and I decided to put on some Christian dramas in our school as a part of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That day is now often referred to as the “Pearl River Central Revival” because of so many students getting saved, and confessing and repenting of their sins. This day was even covered by Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,997088,00.html

That article came to the attention of Richard Crisco, who was the youth pastor at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Crisco then contacted the school and requested me and a friend of mine to come speak at their Branded By Fire Youth Conference. We were unaware that Brownsville was claiming to be in a massive revival for the past several years. This revival was different from the Baptist revivals I was used to. In Baptist churches, a revival is something that happens annually for about one week out of the year. This revival had been lasting for years and was accompanied by alleged miraculous healings, all-night prayer meetings and worships services, and people being “slain in the Spirit.”

After my experience at Brownsville, I did feel as though God led me to leave the Baptist denomination and start attending more Charismatic, though non-denominational, churches. I tell you this to let you know, I’m very aware of the nature of revival in these types of churches. What I saw in Mobile was a typical Charismatic/Assembly of God/Pentecostal type of “revival.” God is definitely moving there, though I don’t know if what it is, is an actual “revival.”

I’m beginning to think we throw the word “revival” around a bit too liberally. God does wonderful things at what churches call “revivals.” I absolutely believe that God was working in Mobile last night. Just like I absolutely believe that God was working in Brownsville. Just like I believe that God works in the countless Baptist revivals. I just don’t believe that any of those are true revival.

When we say that we want revival, what we usually mean is that we want God to move strongly in our communities, cities, states, nation, and world. What usually happens at these “revival” services is that God moves strongly in those services. But, everything pretty much seems the same outside of the church walls. Sure, there have been reports of the occasional drug addict coming into a service, stating that he felt compelled to come in, and then being set free, and that’s awesome, but true revival, to me, seems like it would require entire crackhouses compelled to come to the services. Or better yet, the entire service moving to the crackhouse. If revival breaks out in a crackhouse, brothel, or a strip club (requiring those places to close, of course), then no one will be able to question the legitimacy of it, as some people do to the Mobile “revival.” When those things start happening, then maybe revival will actually go from breaking out in the crackhouse to the White House.

I’m not ready to say that what’s happening in Mobile is a revival. I think true revival is much bigger than that. I got pretty much what I expected I was going to get in Mobile. I think that true revival will actually be beyond what Baptists, Charismatics, and every other denomination or non-denomination expects.

I do expect true revival to happen, however, and there’s no question in my mind about it. Because the best thing I saw in Mobile was some of the kids from my youth group in awe of what God was doing and excited about God doing even bigger things. I believe true revival will happen because the Bible tells us exactly how it will happen, and those kids are following what the Bible says about it. They, along with several other Christians all over the world, are following out this verse:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

-2 Chronicles 7:14

That verse carries the formula for revival. I have hope that verse is being carried out in the lives of the kids I saw worshipping God last night. Therefore, I have hope that true revival will happen.

My Greatest Sin July 20, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Heaven, Hell, life, sin, universalism.
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I don’t want everyone to go to Heaven. I want some people to burn in Hell for the rest of eternity. I could play this off as wanting to see God’s justice prevail, but that’s not the case. The truth is: I just want to be right. This is my greatest sin. I read certain blogs by some people who might be categorized as “universalists.” A term meaning they believe that everyone will get to Heaven one way or the other. Some of these universalists just believe all religious paths lead to Heaven, others are Christians who believe that Jesus died for everyone and will bring all to Heaven based on what he did on the cross. I think that these universalist Christians believe this not primarily on any biblical doctrine, but on the fact that they love people and can’t bear the thought of anyone suffering in Hell forever. This makes me jealous of them, because I don’t share that same love for people. Do I want people to go to Heaven? Of course I do, but not before they admit they were wrong about some things and turn their lives around. I don’t like the thought of murderers and rapists, or even Muslims and homosexuals entering Heaven totally on the mercy of God’s grace before they bow the knee to Jesus on earth. And I should want that. I read something by Shane Claiborne one time that said something along the lines of, “You don’t have to believe that God will save everyone, but you should hope he does.” That statement floored me. That’s when I realized my greatest sin is not loving people enough. I wanted to be right about them going to Hell, more than I wanted to see them in Heaven. Even if I don’t believe that people will go to Heaven without first surrendering to Jesus on earth, I should want Jesus to bring them to Heaven anyways.

The fact is Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others. If I truly loved others, I would want them to go to Heaven no matter what. This is why many Christians put a priority on evangelism. They witness because they believe, like I do, that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus, and that means turning your life over to him here on earth. However, for many evangelism  turns from being a sincere love for one who is lost, but an argument or battle to determine who is wrong or right. Even the term “apologetics” conveys a fight, as it means defense of faith. Now, I enjoy a good debate. I like the intellectual stimulation it brings, but I’ve come to realize that sound arguments will very rarely change someone’s mind, much less their heart.

I was eating at Outback Steakhouse with my mom last week. We saw a friend of my dad’s there and he stopped to talk to us. They talked about how they felt about the direction of the country was going in the wrong direction, to which made my mom bring up Charles Stanley’s July 4th sermon, in which he basically called President Obama wicked, without ever saying Obama’s name. I stated that I really didn’t think pastors should talk politics in the pulpit, to which they disagreed. That started a verbal war at the table which got quite loud and a bit angry. Afterwards, I felt pretty convicted. I should have just let that argument slide. For one thing, I’m not sure if our server was a Christian or not, and seeing three Christians squabble like that is never good for a non-believer to witness. That’s when I realized that my desire to be right was a sin. It violates the second greatest commandment. It’s not loving of others.

There is only one thing that I’m really sure of, and that’s when I get to Heaven, I’m gonna find out that I was wrong on some things. That being the case, why am I so worried about being right all the time down here? I hope I am wrong and that my universalist Christian friends are right. I hope everyone does make it to Heaven. Even though I doubt that is the case, I’m asking God to change my heart toward people who disagree with me. I’m asking him to help me to love others and not to be afraid of being wrong. Because loving others has nothing to do with being right or wrong, but it has everything to do with trusting Jesus.

Who Told You That You Were Naked? June 4, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Adam and Eve, Bible, Christianity, shame, sin.
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Shame. It’s a nasty word. It’s an even nastier feeling. We’ve all felt it before for one reason or another, and despite whether it was for something small or something huge, feeling ashamed has the same sickening feeling. George Bernard Shaw said, “We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.”

The awful thing about shame is: we were never meant to experience it.  In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, the Bible says that, “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were opened, and they knew that they were naked”(Genesis 3:7a). For the first time in history, humans felt shame. The disgusting feeling of humiliation, embarassment, and knowledge that we did something that we knew we were not supposed to do. Now, as Shaw says, we are ashamed of “everything that is real about us.” Adam and Eve’s reality was that they were naked. Even though this fact was no less true before they sinned, it was made all to clear by their shame.

A few verses later when God was coming to enjoy his daily walk in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve, they heard them coming and hid themselves from their own Creator. The Being that loved them more than they could possibly imagine was now an object of fear to them, because they were ashamed of their own nakedness. God found the first couple and inquired as to why they were hiding to which Adam replied, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). God’s reply is one that still amazes me. “He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11a)

God knew that Adam and Eve were naked ever since He created them. It was no surprise to Him. What surprised God was that Adam and Eve were now aware of it. They were supposed to have no knowledge of their nudity or of their shame. This kind of knowledge could only come through the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their sin brought consequences, shame being only one of them. But, God did something only an all-loving God could. He made them new garments. Instead of the measly leaves that Adam and Eve decided to clothe themselves with (leaves representing religion, good works, legalism; anything they could think of to cover their sin and shame), God killed an animal and “made garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).

Only God can cover our nakedness, our sin, and our shame. This wasn’t the last time killed to cover us. Several thousand years later, God would kill His only Son, the Lamb of God, Jesus to cover our sin and shame once and for all. So the next time you feel ashamed, just ask yourself, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”

Transitions & Changes May 24, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, changes, family, Holy Spirit, life, The Church.
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I had an emotional day yesterday. I got up and headed north to Hattiesburg, MS to visit a church that is showing some interest in my services as a youth pastor. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Since I was 15, working in a church and having a ministry has been both a calling and a dream. Now, I was standing on that dream becoming a reality. Few people get to say that in their lives. I was shown around the church building. Everything was beautiful and sparkling clean. The worship was a good and the message was great. I ate lunch with the pastor and his wife who both were very gracious and nice. They invited me back to hang out with the youth in a few weeks.

I left feeling good about the meeting and looking forward to going to meet the youth. It wasn’t until I looked at my phone did I realize something was wrong. I had received a text from m, y dad about 45 minutes prior. All it said was, “If I call, can u talk?” I replied, “Now you can.” My phone rang immediately.

You see, my dad’s sod company has been slow lately, a victim of the economy, so he found a job working offshore. We had expected for him to leave for training some time around midnight last night, and then be back by the end of the week and leave for his regular six week rotation a couple of weeks from now. But, when I answered the phone and asked him where he was, I was surprised to hear that he was already in the Gulfport Airport, and wouldn’t be back for another 8 weeks.

Me and my family are quickly entering into major changes. We’re excited about the possibilities of new adventures, but nervous and scared about how the transitions will effect us. Personally, I worry if I’m ready to lead my own youth ministry, even though I know that I’ve had the appropriate training, and learned a lot of hard lessons through working underneath the youth pastors at the Journey.  But, the doubts still creep in. Will the youth like me? How will I mesh with the staff? Can the church feed me spiritually? Then I worry about my dad and my mom being lonely if and when I inevitably have to move.

Transitioning into changes is never easy,  but we do have the Holy Spirit to help us through them. I think about the disciples after Jesus died, and about how they were terrified. The Bible says that they locked themselves in a room because they were afraid that the Jews would come after them. But, then Jesus appeared to them and granted them both the peace and power of the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23).  Later, after they had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, these same disciples were no longer afraid, but bold when they were challenged. The Bible says that Peter, along with the rest of the apostles, stood up and addressed those that were persecuting, and 3000 of them got saved. Pretty good for eleven guys that were terrified to go outside a couple weeks before. The same Spirit that empowered the disciples through times of change, is the same Spirit who empowers us through times of change.

What are some big transitions or changes that you’ve had to go through?

How did you deal with them?

Weird Stuff May 20, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in angels, Bible, charisma, Christianity, demons, Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts.
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Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians believe weird stuff. Being a charismatic Christian myself, I believe it is okay for me to say that. Some of the things I believe are weird. There I said it, and repeated it. But, just because some of the things we believe may be weird, doesn’t mean they aren’t true. I remember the first time I ever “fell out in the Spirit,” or was “slain in the Spirit” as some call it. I was 16 at a Southern Baptist youth camp. Now, just so you know, Southern Baptists don’t believe in falling out in the Spirit. So it was quite a shock to me and everyone around me when I fell face down in the middle of worship. Needless to say, it wasn’t much longer after that when I quit attending the Southern Baptist church and started attending a non-denominational charismatic church and began learning about what some of this weird stuff was about. There was more falling out, of course, and there was also speaking in tongues, prophecy, and a lot more talk about angels and demons. All of these are biblical and they all have mulitple interpretations. I’ll give you some of mine.

1. Speaking in tongues

This first appears in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost (Jesus did prophesy that it would happen in Mark 16:17). This phenomenon caused the many foreigners that were there that day to hear each other in their own languages. Most Bible scholars think this was xenoglossia and not glossalalia. The former meaning that people were speaking and hearing known languages and not unknown languages. Glossalalia, what we normally think of when we hear the phrase, “speaking in tongues,” is more of a “holy gibberish,” as ridiculous as that might sound. It is talked about extensively in 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul mentions speaking in tongues as a spiritual gift. It’s talked about more extensively in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 which says, 

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up” (ESV).

These verses mean to me that speaking in tongues is a personal gift, best used in private. However, if one speaks in tongues loudly enough in public worship, there should always be an interpretation of it for the church’s benefit. When it’s done in private, however, something does indeed happen spiritually, that is a good thing. The question is often posed to me, “Should all Christians speak in tongues?” My answer is that in verse 5, Paul does say that he wants everyone to do it, but the Spirit grants gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). So I would say, if you want to experience speaking in tongues, ask the Lord for it, and then do it. I don’t think the Holy Spirit takes control of your body and makes you start talking gibberish, I think we first have to start talking gibberish, and when step out in faith and do it, then the Spirit will minister to us through it. Yes, it feels silly and weird, but that’s just how I think it works.

2. Prophecy

Most people today assume the word prophecy means a prediction of future events. It certainly can mean that but that’s not entirely what it means. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a prophet as “one who utters divinely inspired revelations.” The Hebrew word for prophecy literally means “to bubble forth, as from a fountain.” So prophecy means to bubble forth a revelation from God, basically. That revelation might be one of the future, or it might also be from the past, or present. The main difference between prophecies of the Old Testament and prophecies of today is stated in 1 Corinthians 14:3. Prophecies today are to bring encouragement, comfort, and edification to the Church, whereas Old Testament prophecies usually had to do with God’s Wrath. Some people think preaching is modern day prophecy, but I think that way of looking at it is way too shallow. God can, will, and does speak to His people today, specifically. Now, it is important to remember that prophets today are human and can “miss” what they are hearing God telling them to say, so it’s always important to pray about and consult the Bible over any prophetic word we might receive.

3. Falling out in the Spirit

When the Spirit of God comes on a person very strongly, it can become impossible to stand in His presence. In 1 Kings 8:10-11, priests could not stand to minister in the Temple, because a cloud representing God’s Spirit fell on it. And the most compelling biblical evidence of falling out in the Spirit to me comes in John 18:3-6. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas brought the soliders to arrest Jesus. Jesus asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When he answered them saying, “I am he” the Bible says that the soldiers, “drew back and fell to the ground.” What’s interesting is in the Greek, Jesus literally answers them by saying, “I am,” which is what God declared his name to be to Moses in the book of Exodus. I think that Jesus gave the soliders a revelation of who He really was, and with the power of that revelation, the soldiers had no choice but to fall. The sad part is, there are several TV preacher who have made a spectacle out of this. It’s not about the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s about them getting rich and famous. While some people might really be getting touched from the Holy Spirit, others are falling as a “learned response.” They see this on TV, so they know what they’re supposed to do when the preacher says the “magic word.”

So what do you think about this weird stuff?

Do you believe in these things? Why or why not?

Have you experienced anything that’s spiritually weird?

What are some things you believe that you might consider to be weird?

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