Friday, December 25, 2009

Close Encounters of the [Spiritual] Kind

John Fincher December 25 at 7:47am

After reading the chapter If I Ever Met an Angel from Wide Open Spaces by Jim Palmer, I began to wonder about my own experiences with angels, dreams, visions, etc. This is also something I've thought about lately. For me, my experience is someone who I haven't talked to or thought of in a long time will call me (seemingly) out of the blue - as soon as a few minutes or the next day. I don't know how many times I've said to someone, I was JUST thinking about you. I don't know why God would give me a fore-knowledge of this, but it has happened to me over and over in my life. My wife tells a story when she was in college, she started packing to leave because her aunt had died, but no one had called her and told her. When her mother called her, she said she already knew and was on her way. We tend to not dwell on something like this and try to say she was probably just mistaken about the time-line.

I certainly am open for this type of communication now.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was involved in a messy situation in the small-group at the assembly we now attend (I started going for my wife, but have come to love the people in our group). It involved me being (essentially) called a heretic by someone attending a conservative seminary. Well, in this imbroglio, I was called a Gnostic and a Mystic simply because I am seeking the deeper things of God. More than a few times lately, God has put "mystical" things (books, conversations, etc) into my path over the last year. The next DAY after this episode with my fellow classmate came to a head, I was at the hospital waiting with my mother while my father was having surgery. We were sitting in a small area with a couple I had not paid much attention to. As I was walking past them, I noticed a book that he had been reading, but had put down. I looked at the title - The New Mystics by John Crowder! Never heard of him or it, but it sparked an amazing conversation between the two of us about this very subject! I being from a conservative Independent Baptist background thoroughly enjoyed his stories about "unseen" encounters with the spiritual world. This stranger also GAVE me the book. My eyes are more open to this type of thing now.

As to God speaking through dreams, earlier this year I was given these words upon waking one morning:

I rather imagine as I sleep,
My God sings to me all night
In a quiet, wordless voice

Though wordless,
So personal still

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Guess Label Me an Antinomian

“Repentance is necessary for God’s own people, who have a real work of grace. They must offer up a daily sacrifice of tears. The Antinomians hold that when any come to be believers, they have a writ of ease, and there remains nothing for them now to do but to rejoice. Yes, they have something else to do, and that is to repent. Repentance is a continuous act. The issue of godly sorrow must not be quite stopped till death. Jerome, writing in an epistle to Laeta, tells her that her life must be a life of repentance. Repentance is called crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), which is not done on a sudden, but leisurely; it will be doing all our life". Thomas Watson, from The Doctrine of Repentance

Wow...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

I daresay most American Christians are familiar with this verse from Jeremiah. I have no guess for the number of times I've heard it preached about. It is the ONE verse, we have been told, that shows no one can trust their heart. I will admit I am conflicted as the wording is not vague. It says, in black and white, that the heart is deceitful ABOVE ALL, and DESPERATELY WICKED.

Albeit that this wording is unambiguous, a search of the Bible will quickly show the heart can be both wicked AND/OR good.

If the heart IS wicked and deceitful, it raises some questions.

If, as some say, Jesus is invited into our hearts, does (would!) He reside in a wickedly deceitful one?

Also, as it says in Psalms that the Lord will give us the desires of the heart, would God give us desires that are rooted in wickedness and deceit?

Was Jeremiah (God), perhaps, being rhetorical? Could he be describing the UNregenerated heart of the PRE-Cross, natural man? There is a question asked at the end of the sentence, "who can know it?" It is interesting to note that just like Paul's lament in his letter to the Romans, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?, we usually stop and don't move on to the answer; Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT)

Jeremiah also supplies an answer to the question; I the LORD… Therefore the heart IS knowable - God can know it.

So how can we reconcile the apparently clear teaching of this verse with other instruction in the Bible concerning the heart?

I think the answer is given to us in Ezekiel 36:26, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (emphasis mine)

Could one conceivably conclude that the REgenerated man can trust his heart?

Now, wouldn't THAT be good news!

(Just don't eat what you're fed, hunt for yourself.)

The Secret of Forgiveness

If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:1-3

It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there -- the room full of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraeulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened.

From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it depends not on our forgiveness nor on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

From The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Love Over All

Despite all the denominational distinctions I've come across along the way, for the life of me, I cannot find any other litmus test Jesus insisted upon to authenticate his followers except love. This was unsettling when I realized that despite knowing Greek and Hebrew and the boxes in my attic filled with hundreds of my sermons on tape telling others how to be a Christian, I wasn't very loving. Winston Churchill cautioned, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results". My version of Christianity wasn't making me much like Jesus.

From Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The New Mystics

I will not be looking for religious acceptance, nor fear the opinions of any man. Neither will I just eat what I am fed. I will hunt for myself. I will not rest until I have personally heard from Heaven.

Personalized from The New Mystics by John Crowder

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Light Salt Anyone?

Over the last few days/weeks, I've been asking Papa if He would shine His light into all of the dark corners of my soul. And let me be clear, the spirit is how I communicate with Him. The soul is my mind, will, and emotions. It is in my soul where I store my garbage that I don't want Him to see (a la Adam and Eve trying to cover their nakedness). (Rhetorical aside: Why does the natural man believe he can hide from the eternal God? And why does he even feel it necessary to try?)

I have been walking over the past week or so. Sometimes it's been in the early morning and I can hear the world waking up. Sometimes it's later in the day when it seems much quieter. And one day last week I walked just after dusk – the time where it is more night than day. It was an amazing time of contemplation. The wind was blowing, and a blanket of large oak leaves were being tossed and swirled around. They almost seemed to make a whispering noise, and I imagined God speaking to me through their rustle.

It is during these walks where I have time to reflect on ideas that start out as tiny seeds in my mind. I have been told I am a deep thinker. I don't know how deep my thoughts are, but God has given me a certain curiosity that I seem to have the need to satiate. I like to think things out to a certain extent and answer questions that come to my mind.

Something Papa showed me today is the idea that we are called the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

In my most religiously conservative days, I was focused inwardly on my small body of fellow workers. I was SO inwardly-focused, that the only way I could (AND SHOULD) minister was either inside those walls or with or to someone FROM those walls. I admit that it was even to the point of disdain for anyone who was not inside our conclave. And if someone LEFT our fellowship? Well they were no longer worthy of my attention. I am not talking about anyone else's attitude – this was mine alone. There may be others that share(d) this, but that is for them to sort out on THEIR walks with Papa.

And before I get to my main point of the proceeding paragraphs, I want to stop and take a moment to marvel at the way that Papa works in me. One way is how he puts the desire for certain books into my heart JUST when I need them. For example, I may order a book and not start reading it right away. Or, I will start one and put it down. I feel no guilt at not finishing one (well, the teacher in my head feels a twinge sometimes). I have discovered, however, that when I DO pick it up again, it says just what I need to hear, when I need to hear it.

Also, when He does this for me, I devour it like it was the last book on earth. I gulp it down in large, wordy chucks. I must say that since He made ME this way, I don't understand others who don't gobble them up like I do, but seem to merely nibble at their edges.

One such book is Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer. I've had it for months now, and only picked it back up after I had just greedily consumed The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus and was looking for my next binge. Here is where I must also say that it always seems that the book I am CURRENTLY reading is my favorite, but Divine Nobodies really, truly is my favorite. Really.

All jesting aside, I can relate more to this author and the things Papa has shown him in HIS walk than I have from anyone else. The truths proposed in it, to me, are "simply" revolutionary. Don't think that he is calling for us to become comrades in arms charging at windmills. Here is a main theme – "God has been trying to free me from the burden of doing something spectacular for him. It has a way of distracting you from the opportunities to be salt and light where you are."

And this is where my meanderings hopefully will come together into a cohesive thought. THIS is what Papa and I sorted out. The idea that I was SO focused on my fellowship, MY church, that I could not see (did not WANT to see) the people He put in my path every day. Oh to think of the number of people I looked down upon because they did not serve alongside me when all He wanted for me to do is to simply share His light and salt wherever I went.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are YOU a Barbarian?

When you join the barbarian tribe, you begin to live your life with your eyes and your heart wide open. When the Spirit of God envelops your soul, your spirit comes alive, and everything changes for you. You are no longer the same. And to those who cannot see the invisible, to those who refuse to believe it exists, the path you choose, the life you live, may lead them to conclude that you are not simply different, but insane. People who are fully alive look out of their minds to those who simply exist.

From The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Barbarian Way

Somehow, Christianity has become a non-mystical religion. It's about a reasonable faith. If we believe the right things, then we are orthodox. Frankly, whether we ever actually connect to God or experience, His undeniable presence has become incidental, it not irrelevant. We have become believers rather than experiencers. To know God, the Scriptures always went beyond information to intimacy. We may find ourselves uncomfortable with this reality. We become connected to the God of eternity. Who you are at the core is spirit. God is spirit. To walk with God is to journey in the spiritual realm.

From The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wrath of God

It was the most poignant picture of wrath I've witnessed. I had taken my family camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains to escape the heat of our home on the valley floor and to soak in some rest and relaxation. I was hunkered down in a lunge chair deeply engrossed in a novel. My wife, Sara, was coming to join me when suddenly we heard screams of pain from our two-year old son, Andy.

    He'd been playing in the dirt not far from our campsite. As I looked up, he was stomping his feet and waving his hands wildly. Swirling around him were flying insects, backlit by the sun; Sara immediately recognized them as bees. Somehow he had stumbled into their nest in the ground and they were attacking him relentlessly.

    Before I could extricate myself from the reclining chair, Sara was rushing to the sounds of his screams. Even though she is allergic to bee stings and got stung for her efforts, she angrily swatted at the bees as she scooped up her son to run with him to safety. When I got to them she was stroking his head with comfort even as she was panting from the overload of adrenaline still coursing through her veins.

    If you want a picture of God's wrath, I can think of none better. She was angry as I've ever seen her, but the anger wasn't directed at Andy nor did it seek punishment. She simply risked herself to rescue someone she loved so deeply.

    That's what God's wrath is like. He sees the evil that mars his creation and destroys the people he loves, and he must be rid of it. His wrath consumes evil and wickedness and as such does not exist as the opposite of his love, but as an expression of that love. He must protect and set free the object of his affection.

    I'm sure when my son first saw Mom running at him, eyes blazing with anger, he thought he was in trouble. Even though he didn't know what he'd done wrong, he was already recoiling from her as she approached. Only after she had swept him to safety did he realize he was not the focus of it, but its beneficiary.

    Our shame-consciousness does the same thing toward God. Whenever we see God acting to consume sin, we internalize the anger against ourselves. But that isn't where the wrath is primarily directed. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…" (Romans 1:18)

    It's not people God seeks to destroy, but the sin that destroys his people. In that sense, God's wrath is far more curative than it is punitive. Its primary purpose is not to hurt us, but to heal and redeem us."


From He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Terms of Relationship

When Scripture talks about the relationship God wants with us, it borrows the most tender images of our world. He calls us young children beloved by a gracious Father, the bride of an expectant bridegroom; friends dear enough to die for and little chicks rushing under the protective wings of a hen.

From He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

After having spent the last 17 years in ONE community of believers, I read this and pondered the number of times we were invited into the homes of people we served along side of. Which for some at the top of the hierarchy was NEVER. I'm not really blaming them (well, perhaps a little), but the BUSYness of our lives WITHIN the local church environment. I can count on two hands (with fingers to spare) the number of times we were invited into fellow-servant's homes. Maybe THAT'S why our relationships, in the end, were ultimately so superficial.

"The home provides the perfect setting for relationships to get beyond the superficial and head into deeper waters. Friendships begin to take hold in such environments where we have the time to explore one another's lives. If you lack the kind of relationships you desire, look at how often you invite people into extended opportunities for relationship.

...too many people shy away from hospitality because they think their home has to be spotless and the meal scrumptious. The whole point of opening the door to new friendships is not to impress people, but to be real. IF we don't break away from the need to put on our best face, we will never develop genuine relationships. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. We can order pizza, throw hotdogs on the grill, or make sandwiches. What's important is unhurried time together to let people see into our lives."

From Authentic Relationships by Wayne and Clay Jacobsen

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Life Focused on Others

If you have ever shared friendships with others-focused people, you know what a treasure those friends are. They take an interest in you just because they care. Their concern is not tied to their own needs and desires in the relationship. Their care for you demands nothing in return and rejoices just to see you blessed. They open their life like a book and let you read it freely. You don't ever have to guess what they are thinking, because they will come right out and tell you, and they make you feel safe enough so that you don't have to pretend with them. They offer their counsel freely but never demand that you follow it. They give you the freedom to disagree and the flexibility to do things differently from how they would do it without ever compromising their love for you.

Almost without asking they would give you the shirt off their back if they knew you needed it, but they won't always give you everything you want. They look past your faults and celebrate your promise and offer their help to get you there. You may not see them for months or years at a time, but the next time your paths cross, you will feel as though you have never been apart. When they say they will pray for you, you know they will. When you go through your darkest moments, they will stay by your side. They will let their presence comfort you even when the right words escape them.

Such friends find their origin in God's heart.

From Authentic Relationships by Wayne and Clay Jacobsen

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ISM’S and IST’S

Gnosticism, Armenianism, Calvinism, Universalism, Trinitarianism….need I go on? Just take off the ISM, add IST, and you have the practitioner of each particular entry.

You get the point. There are a LOT of ISM'S in the (limitless) world of Christian Theology. I'm convinced most people don't actually know what they mean. They are thrown around by people who have a need to put others into categories – "He believes X-ISM, so he is an X-IST", OR, "He's now in error – he's an (insert your favorite IST-ending word here)". And make no mistake about it – the offending word is probably whispered and the implied brand, heretic, is allowed to hang in the air.

HE will not be pigeon-holed into an ISM – HE is a person who wants a REAL, LIVE, VIBRANT, PERSONAL relationship with each of us.

Not one single ISM brings us any closer to knowing Him better.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shaking Foundations

Have you thought about the words Jesus used, "Our Father Who art in Heaven"?

Take a moment and ponder the magnitude of those two simple words - Our Father...Do you see it?

WE take them for granted. But, put yourselves in the place of the hearers of those words for the first time in history. For centuries they were told to not take the LORD'S Name in vain. They were told of the miracles of YHWH in hushed, reverent tones. HE was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was inscrutable.

And then, "Our Father". *SNAP* Religious foundations were shaken to their core.

For the first time since the Fall, the Creator was...FATHER! Intimate, familial.

And Jesus didn't say MY Father - He said OUR Father. *CRACK*

These two simple words forever changed how we could think about God, how we could perceive Him...how we could KNOW Him.

He indeed IS knowable and desires an intimate relationship with His children. He is, after all, OUR FATHER.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jehovah's Witness

Had some JW's visit our house yesterday. Of course I hid from them and acted like I wasn't home - I know, I'm a coward. Just didn't feel like debating them in my doorway.

They left a tract in our door. Unlike them, I can read literature from places I might not agree with and not become "tainted" (?) by it.

Anyway, while reading through it, I realized that they were using as their basis for a particular doctrine the book of Ecclesiastes. And I just wonder if we should use that book in formulating a deep truth - especially the conclusion they were drawing from it? I don't know. Also, they drew from Psalms. If we are going to proof-text, I'm sure we can find anything that will fit our particular view. However, doesn't it depend on the context?

What if the Psalmist was just making a rhetorical point? Again, I don't know. But the argument they were making just seemed specious and reaching to me.

Latest Church Sign

"Righteousness is Right - Try it!"

How about "Christ is Your Righteousness - Receive it!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Season's of Our Life

I was FB chatting with a friend this morning about my experience when I went to a Sunday night service at my mother's IB church recently.

THAT season of my life is over. That is, for me, I no longer see that as something I would ever see as an obligation or even having any value - again, FOR ME. It has been honed to a sleek "service" that you could predict at almost any church in the country.

And I wonder, how much true Life is there? Oh,there are a lot of smiles and good music, but is there really anything under the surface? I asked this exact question recently to someone who still goes there - if he were to openly question a deeply held Baptist distinctive, how long does he think it would take for people to start to pull away from him?

I think he would be shocked how shallow and conditional those relationships really are - I've seen it for myself. Start asking HONEST questions, and people become really uncomfortable, and people don't LIKE discomfort, so they just avoid it...and you.

Like I've said before, I couldn't have begun this journey if I had remained at my church. I am thankful for God's leading in my life.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Walking by Faith



(Thanks to Steve McVey for this video)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marrying Kahlil Gibran and AW Tozer Together

Thanks to Jamie for re-introducing Kahlil Gibran to me after many years.

I came across this quote from him, "All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind."

This reminded me of a quote by Mr. Tozer, "God is always bigger than anything God can say, because words are inadequate to express God and what God can do. Any promise God ever made, God has to fulfill it. The reason being, God is so great, His heart so kind and His desire so intense and tremendous that language does not express it. Not the Greek, not the English, no language expresses God. It cannot. If language could contain God then language would be equal to God"

To "marry" the two together, the written words that we have in front of us are merely CRUMBS compared to the actual MIND and GOODNESS of God.

WORDS cannot contain all that God thinks or says, but are merely a minute TASTE of the entire thing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore

Here is a link to Jake Colsen's (nee Wayne Jacobsen) book, So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore.

It's in PDF form and a short read.

One of my favorite books of all time.

From the website:

So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore
is Jake’s compelling journal that chronicles thirteen conversations with his newfound friend over a four-year period and how those exchanges turn Jake’s world upside-down. With his help, Jake faces his darkest fears, struggles through brutal circumstances and comes out on the other side in the joy and freedom he always dreamed was possible.

If you’re tired of just going through the motions of Christianity and want to mine the depths of what it really means to live deeply in Christ, you’ll find Jake’s story will give you hope for your own. This book probes the difficult questions and offers some far-reaching answers. It just might turn your world upside-down as well!

The Second Call

The second journey begins when we know we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program. We are aware that we only have a limited amount of time left to accomplish that which is really important – and that awareness illumines for us what really matters, what really counts. This conviction provides a new center. We share the determination of John Henry Newman who, as his second journey comes to a close, heads home, sensing, “I have a work to do in England.”

For the Christian, this second journey usually occurs between the ages of thirty and sixty and is often accompanied by a second call from the Lord Jesus. The second call invites us to serious reflection on the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people. The second call is a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment of faith where the naivety, first fervor, and untested idealism of the morning and the first commitment have been seasoned with pain, rejection, failure, loneliness, and self-knowledge.

The call asks, Do you really accept the message that God is head over heals in love with you? I believe that this question is at the core of our ability to mature and grow spiritually. If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the Cross.

From The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Friday, May 29, 2009

Church Sign

"Build Your Life by the Book"

Do you agree?

Makes a relationship with the Creator seem pedantic to me.

'Ere Faith?

In faith there is movement and development. Each day something is new. To be Christian, faith has to be new - that is, alive and growing. It cannot be static, finished settled. When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead. When I conclude that I can now cope with the aw-ful love of God, I have headed for the shallows to avoid the deeps. I could more sasily contain Niagara Falls in a teacup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.

From The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Thursday, May 28, 2009

God is (Always) Good

This relates to a an earlier post I had about God's Goodness.

We had a double blow of bad news yesterday - my wife's company is not doing well, and she was told that she had to take a 40% pay cut and there's a small legal issue we are having to deal with also.

I proclaim that God is STILL good, no matter what my circumstance might be.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Truth Are YOU Willing to Die For?

Why are we so willing to die for doctrine that somebody taught us? Doctrine that we had no hand in formulating. Doctrine that is really someone ELSE’S interpretation of Scripture.

We join a church (non-denom or mainline) and then we start being taught– we are taught through preaching (which, by the way, is just ONE man – the SAME man – week after week), through Sunday school (again, ONE person), or any other teaching ministry. After a while, these doctrines get ingrained so much, we can’t even tell you how we got where we are. We don’t question – we just accept. And THEN, if someone postulates ANOTHER possibility, or suggests that YOUR doctrine MAY not be a correct interpretation of Scripture (some of which I call the Extrapolation of Scripture), well, THEN we get upset. "Don't overturn MY applecart!"

Suggest to a Baptist that we may not be “saved to serve”, and you get hostility.

Suggest to a Pentecostal that ALL people may not get the gift of tongues, and you get aggression.

Suggest to a Lutheran that Luther might be wrong about some things, and you get anger.

Again, besides preaching Christ crucified, why do we get so hung up on denominational distinctives?

If we would just take a moment to think about something, then MAYBE we could get some better perspective and actually have a RELATIONSHIP with the One who sent His Son for that reason and none other.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grace Walk Radio's Interview of Me

I appreciate Dave Lesniak letting me have the opportunity for this

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Performance-Based Acceptance Story

For me (US really – because it included my wife and also my children to some extent), we were happy in our small Independent Baptist church that we had been attending since 1991. It was the only church our children knew. All of our close relationships were grounded in this assembly. All of THEIR friends were there.

I had a Spiritual awakening in 1997, and soon became very involved in the ministry at that church. They were excited and encouraged to see me finally come alive. Previously, I would just attend the service and would not speak to anyone. I don’t know why I was awakened then, but immediately started to work in doing SOMETHING as I was told that I SHOULD do and I was eager to since I believed these people knew the correct way. I want to say that at this time, we were a spirit led church and God was blessing us with closeness in fellowship and (I know this is an external) growth.

Over the next year or so, I became a Deacon and, gradually, our work load increased. My wife is one of the hardest workers I know. Understand, we were never asked how we were doing as a family, or if there is too much work put upon us. Not only that, we were told, from the pulpit, that we could never do enough to pay back what Jesus had done for us. Therefore, we always felt like we had to do even more in order to maintain our right standing before God. It was not as much expressed, as implied.

We were considered FAITHFUL because we were at every service –and I mean EVERY service. Sunday’s became so stressful for us, that we came to dread them. This was a typical Sunday: arrive at church at 9:15 since we both taught Sunday School, go to choir room to practice before the service, service ends at 12:15ish, lunch, home at 2 (if we were lucky), back at church at 4:30 for choir practice, service at 6, service ends at 7:15ish. If it was my month to count the offering and lock-up the building, then I would not leave until 8 or 8:30. And THAT was a TYPICAL Sunday. If there was a special event, then it was squeezed into the middle of the day somehow.

Wednesday’s, we were there at 6:55 (since, of course, we taught AWANA) and didn’t get home until after 9. We did all of this for YEARS! And keep in mind, there were Mission’s Conferences, and revivals also.

At some point, we began to say to ourselves that something was wrong. Christianity was not supposed to be this way. Where was the Life that Jesus promised – and not JUST Life, but ABUNDANT Life? Where was Jesus easy yoke? The light burden? I looked around and all I saw were people just like us. Empty eyes, hungry souls, tired spirits. But we soldiered on as we were told. “Finish the race”.

At first, we thought it was us. Then, slowly – over the course of a few years, we began to realize it was the fact that we were exhausted – spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.

The beginning of the end for me there was a few years ago. I had led a group of wonderful people through Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God”. It was life-changing. Our small group of 10 people grew in the Lord so much, it affected the entire church. People could see a change in us and recognized the quickening of our spirits.

Since this was a Sunday School class, and also since it was a limited study, when we finished, a few of the people had to get back into their classes since other people had to step in for this short time.

I went to the pastor, and asked (the whole group WANTED to continue) about doing another study Sunday evenings DURING church. He thought a minute and said, “No, I don’t think so. It would take too many people out of the service.”

At that point I knew that the TRADITION was more important than the spiritual condition of the people there. I guess at that time, the door closed in my heart for the affection of the ministry at that church. BUT, we hung on saying that we loved the people too much to leave. So we stumbled on for a couple of more years – all the while growing deader and deader spiritually. We became wearier and wearier.

Finally, in June of ’08, I told my wife I was ready to start looking for another church. We did not know it was going to change our lives so radically.

I won’t go into the details of the exit, but let me just say it was not pretty. We lost A LOT of friends – people who we thought really loved us. It was then that I learned about conditional love. For some there, THEIR love was conditional to where we fellowshipped. If we didn’t fellowship with them, then we were disloyal and deserved their scorn. It has been, and continues to be, heartbreaking. I probably think about it every day.

BUT, God is good. The next week after we left, we visited another Independent Baptist church in the area. That Thursday, two wonderful men visited us, and we talked for about 2 hours. One of them, in passing, mentioned the book “Grace Walk” that he had really enjoyed. I don’t know what peaked my interest about it, but I went to the bookstore the next day and bought it.

That was on a Friday – I finished it on Sunday. I couldn’t put it down. It answered questions that my heart had been straining to get an answer to.

My life will never be the same. NEVER again will I be under bondage to a system or a single man’s teaching. I believe that God wants us to seek Him out for ourselves. He knows the outcome, but enjoys our reaction to revelation, nonetheless. He enjoys OUR journey.

Peace and blessings to all

This is part of a synchroblog started by brother Joel. Here is his link.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Fellowship of His Suffering

I was humbled when these words were ascribed to me and my situation by a friend that I met. I had met him through another dear friend, and was honored to be able to share my heart with both of them in a meeting in North Georgia.

My heart is very tender right now, and I was sharing with another sister, Jamie, that if THIS is the pain required to take me to the next level, I'm not sure I can do it.

I have asked God to let me know Him better - to manifest Himself in my life and I came to the realization today, that being CONFORMED in the image of Christ is painful - this conFORmaton. It's like a broken leg that didn't get set right - it has to be REbroken and REformed. This process is not an easy one. The fellowship of His suffering.

Jamie shared with me that the battlefield for the believer is in the mind, and I can attest to that. My friend, Dave Lesniak, shared with me that when we get bombarded with lies in our mind - when our thought pattern runs away with negative thoughts like a runaway freight train, what we need to do is speak truth to ourselves - aloud!

He gave me some Truth to tell myself, and I have to tell you that it stopped that thought train in its tracks.

If any of you are going through the same thing I am right now, please know that Paul says we fight against unseen powers, and that fight is in our minds. We just have to recognize that and be ready to flood our minds with Truth.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Our TRUE Sabbath

...the Church is more focused on monitoring the earth, the devil, and Adam's dominion than on gazing at her restful Lord.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Lynn Hiles

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jesus, the Provacateur

Lately, I’ve been kind of “stuck” in the 3rd chapter of John. We always seem to go directly to the 16th verse and just camp there, but Jesus starts talking in verse 3 and continues talking to Nicodemus for another 4 verses.

The words of Jesus have always amazed me. NO ONE speaks in the way He does!

For example, in verse 2, Nicodemus says, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

Notice what Jesus says next – He immediately challenges everything that Nicodemus THINKS he knows about God and the Scriptures!

” Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Jesus answered a question that Nicodemus didn’t even ask! And not only that, what He says is not just a paradigm shift, but a completely new concept altogether!

It’s been my observation that Jesus NEVER answered a question directly, and often deflected the conversation to the real heart of the matter.

Nicodemus was wanting to talk about Jesus authority and He turns it around and confronts his preconceived notions. That’s why I don’t understand why people have such a hard time with The Shack and its depiction of God as a black woman. In the book, “Papa” says to a shocked Mack that He can choose to appear however He wishes, but their "meeting" was about shattering preconceived notions about who Mack thinks God is.

Jesus was always provocative in His speech. I believe that’s why we so often misunderstand them – they are much deeper than they appear on the surface and often answer a question we didn't even know to ask.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Church Sign

Current sign at a local Baptist church:

"Grace - not a licence to sin, but a reason to serve."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Not of My Making by Margaret W. Jones, Ph. D.

Welcome to the latest stop of the virtual book tour for Dr. Jones Not of My Making – Bullying, Scapegoating, and Misconduct in Churches, 410 pages, Pluck Press

I was contacted by Dr. Jones’ press agent back in late March or early April asking if I wanted to be a host for one of her stops, and I was honored. I am assuming she found me because spiritual abuse has been a periodic theme in my blog as that is the central theme of her book.

I received it in mid-April, and I finished reading it over the next few days. I believe this is a self-published work, and comes from hers and others correspondence (emails and letters), but mostly from her journal. She is a dedicated journal-er, and finds it cathartic.

In the preface, she states “many people involved in these events experienced things differently and would without a doubt tell the story differently”. Dr. Jones clearly says that this is HER story and “told from [her] point of view.” (p. 11) In the spirit of fairness, she tried to get the individuals involved to make corrections where they thought they were needed. MOST did not take her up on the offer, save for a few, and Dr. Jones allowed additions where she agreed they were indeed legitimate.

The book starts in the mid-fifties when she was molested at four years old by a neighbor after her siblings left for school. Her mother, as an alcoholic, was neglectful and her father was verbally and emotionally abusive.

When she is old enough for school, she is not accepted by her peers as her mother doesn’t make sure she is bathed and clothed in a proper manner. She goes on to talk about how most of her primary education only had people who were mean and shunning to her.

She thought college would be different, but still did not receive real acceptance until she met her husband, Lyndon Jones. They went on to get married and have two children. They being a biracial couple – she white and he black – contributed to a broad, continuing, and incomplete acceptance for her in the social and religious groups in her life.

She also was sexually abused by an uncle when she was a child, and this – plus her parents neglect and verbal/emotional abuse - attributed to her lifelong need for acceptance – FROM others and FOR herself. She admits to abusing herself (cutting/burning) to “relieve the pain.”

She ultimately finished her education – earning a Ph. D. in psychology, and goes into practice with her husband.


The book’s main theme is her experience in two different churches. The first one is a Unitarian/Universalist (UU), and the later one, Lutheran.

In the part about the UU church (starting on p. 55), she later talks about the supposed “tolerance” of the people there, and she shows how their tolerance is relative. I agree with and love her quote about it – “…it is easy to be tolerant with something you don’t feel strongly about. The true test of tolerance is when you can accept and not condemn someone for holding a different view on an issue that touches you deeply.” (p. 71)

After several incidents where she is misunderstood and misjudged, and later when the minister reveals intimate information about her, she tries to get vindication and validation for herself.

(I am HIGHLY condensing these incidents)

The second one highlights her problems at the Lutheran church she attended after the UU church. Different particulars, same underlying issues.

At 410 pages, the first 54 take up her early years while the remaining 355 encompass the other two episodes.

I don’t know if the book had any formal editing, but I believe that the book would have been helped by a competent editor. While I thought the writing to be fairly solid, I found a few parts confusing and, just at times, disjointed. And I also believe that the book could have been much shorter, while easily making the same point.

Also, fundamentally, I feel that her trying to make her view point heard over and over by all the parties involved, went on a lot longer than it would have for me. I just don’t think I would have continued to pursue vindication as long as she did. It also appears, that she believed that if people would only sit down and hear her out, they would ultimately LIKE her. I have come to believe that you cannot force people to like you – they usually don’t change after they’ve made up their minds – no matter what evidence you produce to show how wrong they are. Maybe ESPECIALLY because you show them they are wrong.

I read the whole book expecting a clean outcome that ultimately never comes – only a sense of acceptance of the situation on Dr. Jones’ part. Her own redemption, if you will.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about her story of lifelong abuse and perhaps shares her history of neglect and mistreatment.

Dr. Jones will take your questions today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

God's Goodness

This was a post from a person I'm friends with on FB:

Just wanted to share that My Dear Lord has been sooooo good to me today! Yesterday I turned our central air conditioning unit on and it never cooled the house below 79 degrees. However, the guy who previously put the system in came by today and corrected that problem free of charge! Then just a few minutes ago I was able to get my printer going again after it not printing for a couple of months.

I don't want to single this person out or seem too critical, but I wanted to ask a question.

Wouldn't God STILL be good even IF the situation had been completely opposite? If BOTH circumstances had been translated into expensive repairs, isn't the intimation that God is NOT good? That's what has bothered me when something good happens, and when the situation has been favorable to us, then God must really love us. Isn't His nature ALWAYS good?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Have fun with this.
copy and paste this list into your own blog and bold the items that you have done.
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (lost track of the number of times)
8. Climbed a mountain (Stone Mountain)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (they were THAT hard up for talent)

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (It's called a Mental Health Day)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (dinner cruise)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (if Stone Mountain counts)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (kinda sorta)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (worst thing I have EVER eaten)
72. Pieced a quilt (helped my Grandmother with some)

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (from an airplane)

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (at least 99%)
86. Visited the White House (from the road)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (squirrel)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Bobby Goldboro)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Will You Not Listen

Another of my favorite Michael Card songs - this one is A cappella, which is one of my favorite forms of song. Listen to the bass harmony.






Michael Card

Michael Card is one of my favorite artists of all time. His lyrics have spoken to me time after time.

Here is his song, Never Will I Leave You.







Trust in Me,
Keep your life free,
From what the love of money will do
Am I not enough for you?

(Chorus)
Never will I leave you,
That's something I'll never do.
Forever remember that it's true,
Never will I leave you.

When you fear,
The scars and tears.
Remember what I have sworn,
I'll be with you through the storm.

(Chorus)

And when you fear,
That's when I'm near.
Your soul's security,
When will you believe?

(Chorus)

Mike Yaconelli

I had seen this before, but Joel reminded me of it.

Thanks Bro!

His book, Messy Spirituality, was one of my favorite books of all time.







Friday, April 17, 2009

Britain's Got Talent Lady

Wanted to link to a post on Wayne Jacobsen's site that was SO insightful. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Confessions Of A Hypocrite

I was catching up with a person on FB that I haven't talked to in years, and a thought struck me.

I can talk about God now and not feel like a hypocrite.

In my old life, there would have always been something that I THOUGHT would keep me from God - some secret sin or, maybe (horrors), a not so secret one. Either my soul (mind, will, emotion) or the adversary would always insert the notion that I needed to clean myself up before I could approach Father.

All my life (literally), I was taught that God was always looking for me to stumble so He could smite me with some affliction or horrible malady. Oh, he loved me, but was looking sternly down after each mistake.

I not only lived in fear, but when I DID want to talk about God to someone or offer some spiritual insight, something within me would shout "hypocrite!" and I would feel dirty for even considering to speak spiritual words.

I went for years without praying, reading His Word, or even thinking about Him because of the "dirtiness" of my thought life.

Oh, I went through the motions at church, and maybe only my closest friends could see that I was struggling. But if the average person saw me, I am sure they would have judged me MR. Spirituality with my position and level of activity I had at church.

I think that is one of the easiest lies that we can believe - that is, the notion that we are hypocrites if we are not "clean" if we talk about God with another person. In other words, the lie is that we have to shine the light on every area of your life that we struggle with BEFORE we can counsel another person about spiritual matters.

Satan is called the accuser of the brethren and we take this ONLY to mean he accuses us before God. But I believe he also accuses US to OURSELVES. He whispers these lies into our minds.

It’s interesting to see how Jesus defines condemnation:
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Praise be to God that He has shown me the light in which we walk. [There is] therefore now NO (emphasis mine) condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

If HE doesn’t condemn us, who are WE to do otherwise?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is Billy Graham A Closet Universalist?

Have been wondering about Billy Graham's "controversial" statements that I've caught wind of, so I went looking for myself and found THIS:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fear God

"To know God, is to love Him; therefore if we only fear Him, it is because we do not really know Him."

-François Fénelon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spiritual Warfare

Came to a vital realization today.

I've been under spiritual attack for months now. SomeTHING wants me to die - IT wants me dead.

I'm not speaking about any overt demonic presence - just an oppression that I've never experienced before.

It's kept me physically and emotionally rundown.

I don't want to share so publicly about the specifics, but I believe the HOLY Spirit has lifted the oppression somewhat with just the revelation.

Just KNOWING that it's not me, has been helped immensely.

Paul says in Ephesians "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]."

It helps knowing that I must be getting closer to God with this kind of intensity, but I am now aware of the tactics.

Blessings to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Was A Spiritual Zombie

"...we learn to live with death. We learn to live with a spiritual corpse. We learn to live with our breath frosty and our cheeks pale, our toes frostbitten, without spirituality; yet we learn to live with that. We imagine it is normal. We write books to prove it is normal. It is not normal at all. It is subnormal, abnormal, below normal."

A. W. Tozer, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit

I read this passage this morning, and it struck a chord with me.

I think spiritual death creeps up on us and finds us unawares. THAT'S why it's so insidious, and why it's so prevalent in the modern church today.

Only when I began to see I was the walking dead, did God begin to bring me to life again.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Isaiah 1:13-17 from The Message

Is this a word to the modern church?

"Quit your worship charades.
I can't stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You've worn me out!
I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I'll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I'll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you've been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don't have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

Christian Art

Went to this site after he visited my blog.

GREAT collection of Christian art.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grace Ministries and Giving

I'm sorry, but I have a problem with "Grace" ministries asking for money. It seems to me that if God wanted them to survive, that they wouldn't have to ask.

I get mailings from 2 major ones asking for money, "in these troubling times."

Is it just me?

Glengarry Glen Ross Sales Meeting

This is a scene from the David Mamet movie, Glengarry Glen Ross and is the epitome of the world's system of performance.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't watch it if you are offended by strong, pervasive profanity.





Love Song

Elton John's Classic From Tumbleweed Connection






The words I have to say
May well be simple but they're true
Until you give your love
There's nothing more that we can do

Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

You say its very hard
To leave behind the life we knew
But there's no other way
And now its really up to you

Love is the key we must turn
Truth is the flame we must burn
Freedom the lesson we must learn
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

Monday, March 30, 2009

Great Quote

And the Word was made flesh. And theologians made it word again.

-Anon

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Radical Sonship AND Fellowship Weekend

I cannot say enough about what this weekend meant to me; for both getting to finally meet and fellowship with dear brothers and sisters that, formerly, I had only either talked to or for some, only chatted with electronically, AND being allowed to receive wonderful teaching by Steve McVey and Paul Anderson-Walsh.

It was also, for me, an opportunity for my wonderful wife, Donna, to meet and get to know these folks in a closer way; in a way that I had already known and grown to love them.

Matthew Campbell (who has a wisdom that belies his youth), Jamie (beautiful, passionate, outgoing) and Ryan (affable, likable, easy-going) Weeks, Joel Brueseke (quiet astuteness, enlightenment, discernment and balance personified) and I learned, fellowshipped, and discussed the deeper things of God all weekend. Oh yeah - and ate.




(Clockwise from bottom left - Me, Joel Brueseke, Matthew Campbell, Ryan Weeks, Jamie Weeks)

Steve and Paul tag-teamed the teaching, with six total sessions Friday and Saturday; Steve teaching the odd-numbered ones and Paul the even-numbered. The title of the conference was Radical Sonship, who's theme was taken from the book of Ephesians. "Radical" it was. One of the more, er...controversial teachings was the first session of the morning on Saturday. It was something the group had just discussed the previous night over coffee, immediately following the first sessions Friday night. It pertained to the Cross and what the bond of the Trinity was DURING the crucifixion.

We've always been taught that the Father turned His back on the Son when Jesus "became" sin because He (the Father) cannot look upon sin. This teaching connotes that the Father had no part in the crucifixion itself; that the Son did all the suffering. This teaching has always bothered me. Steve (Wayne Jacobsen has dealt with this theme in depth in his book, He Loves Me) posited that the Godhead itself was crucified on the Cross. For those who say that the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" would negate this theory, Steve says that it was Jesus humanity, clouded with the sin of all mankind, only THINKING that the Father had forsaken Him, but, in reality had not.

Paul and Steve went on to expand on the identity of the believer and living in the Love of the Father.

I am already looking forward to next year and meeting new friends I'm sure I'll get to know over the course of the coming year, and of course RE-connecting with "old" ones.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Christian Mysticism, Cont'd

A Very, Very, Very Short Mystical Apologetic

To know God directly shows that mysticism is different from any passive or legalistic kind of Christianity. It means:

* That while we honor the Scriptures, we want to know God directly, not just through Scripture.
* While we respect our heritage of teachings about God, we want to know God directly, not through doctrines and teachings.
* While we gather in communal worship, we want to know God directly, not just through the Church.

Some readers may find this unsettling. Maybe you believe it doesn't apply to you, because you "know" that your church is purer and more correct than others. Even if that were true, is it a substitute for knowing God directly? Or, you might also feel that trusting the Bible alone gives you knowledge of God directly from the Source. But it was written by mystics, listening to God speaking his Word in their hearts. Is it possible for you to read it directly, without the conceptions of your language, time, culture, and personal history? Are you sure you wouldn't understand it very differently if you were reading it, say, in third-century Damascus?

The religion we call "Christianity" changes, but God is eternal. Mystical faith wants to know this unchanging God to whom Christianity leads us, the One behind the beliefs and the words, the One whom beliefs and words cannot describe. We want to follow Jesus' example more closely, and go beyond the religion about Jesus, and take the religion of Jesus: the knowledge of the Father and unconditional love he had, and urged us to have.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Christian Mysticism

Tozer read the Christian mystics and considered himself one. Found this website about this subject.

What is Mysticism?


To many modern Christians, words like "meditation," "mystic," and "mysticism" bring to mind Eastern religions, not Christianity. Certainly Eastern religions are known for their mysticism; however, mysticism is not only a vital part of the Christian heritage as well, but it is actually the core of Christian spirituality. Mysticism simply means the spirituality of the direct experience of God. It is the adventure of "the wild things of God."

The direct experience of God is a kind of knowing, which goes beyond intellectual understanding. It is not a matter of "belief." It is marked by love and joy, but it is not "emotional experience." In many ways, it is better described by what it is not. To describe what it is, we must use metaphors—the marriage of the soul to Christ, the death of the "old man" and birth of the "new man," being the "body of Christ."

Jesus proclaimed "I and the Father are one," (Jn. 10.30) showing the world what the union of God and man can be. Christian mysticism is about nothing else but this transforming union.

Christ is the sole end of Christian mysticism. Whereas all Christians have Christ, call on Christ, and can (or should) know Christ, the goal for the Christian mystic is to become Christ—to become as fully permeated with God as Christ is, thus becoming like him, fully human, and by the grace of God, also fully divine. In Christian teaching this doctrine is known by various names—theosis, divinization, deification, and transforming union.

A common misconception about mysticism is that it's about "mystical experiences," and there are many volumes on such experiences in religious literature. But true mysticism is not focused on "experiences" (which come and go) but with the lasting experience of God, leading to the transformation of the believer into union with God.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Interesting Searches

Here are some interesting Google searches that landed on my blog:

"is womanless pageant a sin"

"gracewalk steve mcvey+overeating"

""grace walk" book report"

"Bono"

"U2 God"

hmmmm

Saturday, March 21, 2009

God Speaks How He Chooses, Part III

Experience as told by Mr. Ray McAfee from the biography in The Mystery of the Holy Spirit by A. W. Tozer

"Ray McAfee was the associate pastor, choir director, and song leader for Dr. Tozer in Chicago for fifteen years. They often met together for prayer and conversation. McAfee wrote, 'On a day that I shall never forget, Tozer knelt down by his chair, took off his glasses and laid them on the chair, rested back on his bent ankles. He clasped his hands together, raised his face with his eyes closed and began, O God, we are before Thee.

With that, there came a rush of God's presence that literally filled the room, and we both worshiped God in silent ecstasy, wonder, and adoration.'"

Tozer is read in seminaries today, but I dare say that a very large number of evangelicals today would deny that God still works in this way. Some would say that there IS no place for experience such as this, nor should we seek it.

Why have we replaced seeking His presence with Religion?

U2

Bono says he is a believer. That is a declarative remark and no judgment is imputed on my part.

Formerly, my Baptist sensibilities would have judged him by MY standard. However, this standard would have been set by someone other than the Holy Spirit and me. For the past 17 years I let a man be my guide in what I should believe - what I should be CONVICTED of.

Bono did not use the same words, do the same things, or follow the same path that I was. He went to places I would have been told NOT to go to. Associated with people I would have told NOT to associate with. This would have been my measuring stick for a "Christian".

Then there's Bono's song, Yahweh. This song is naming our God's name, and in doing so, talks about his understanding of Him.

Lyrics to U2's Song, Yahweh

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don't make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticise
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

Friday, March 20, 2009

Apprehending God

O taste and see. — Ps 34:8

It was Canon Holmes, of India, who more than twenty-five years ago called attention to the inferential character of the average man’s faith in God. To most people God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate; but He remains personally unknown to the individual. “He must be,” they say, “therefore we believe He is.” Others do not go even so far as this; they know of Him only by hearsay. They have never bothered to think the matter out for themselves, but have heard about Him from others, and have put belief in Him into the back of their minds along with the various odds and ends that make up their total creed. To many others God is but an ideal, another name for goodness, or beauty, or truth; or He is law, or life, or the creative impulse back of the phenomena of existence.

These notions about God are many and varied, but they who hold them have one thing in common: they do not know God in personal experience. The possibility of intimate acquaintance with Him has not entered their minds. While admitting His existence they do not think of Him as knowable in the sense that we know things or people.

Christians, to be sure, go further than this, at least in theory. Their creed requires them to believe in the personality of God, and they have been taught to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Now personality and fatherhood carry with them the idea of the possibility of personal acquaintance. This is admitted, I say, in theory, but for millions of Christians, nevertheless, God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian. They go through life trying to love an ideal and be loyal to a mere principle.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tozer on Good Communication

Tozer's advice to preachers.

"Read some of the great Puritan authors and some of the mystics. Read and memorize good poetry. Observe how these writers express themselves. Become word conscious. Pay attention to words and the effect they have. Get and use a dictionary. Whenever I come across a word I'm not familiar with, I look it up immediately and study it. With a large vocabulary you are able to be precise in what you are saying. Nothing takes the place of using the right word. Flaubert used to say that there are no synonyms. Find the right word, and use it."

Our Blogging Freedom

This is NOT a political blog, but I wanted to share this here.

Iran blogger jailed for Khamenei insult dies

A young Iranian blogger jailed in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died, his lawyer told AFP on Thursday.

Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said that although there is not yet an official report about the death on Wednesday of Omid Mir Sayafi, "officials in the prison said that he committed suicide."

He demanded "an immediate inquiry and an autopsy into why he died."

Dadkhah said another prisoner in Evin, a Dr Hessam Firouzi, "had warned officials in the jail of the state the young blogger was in.

"Dr Firouzi called me from the jail to say Omid had a slowed heartbeat and he had taken him to the infirmary, but that doctors there did not take this seriously and said he was faking it," Dadkhah said.

He added Firouzi reported that Sayafi had also been very depressed.

The blogger, aged around 25, was sentenced in February to 30 months in jail for insulting Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.

Sayafi was first arrested in April last year and released on bail after 41 days before being detained again this year.

Iran has launched a crackdown on bloggers and Internet users deemed to be hostile to the authorities and their Islamic values.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The 6 Myths Of Creativity

For someone who doesn't consider himself creative, I was intrigued by this.

Written Over 60 Years Ago

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table. The truth of Wesley’s words is established before our eyes: “Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is proof of this.”

Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely,and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mark Twain

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it cost nothing to be a patriot."

If The Dead Could Speak, What Would They Say?

By Mike Myers
I have 3 sets of grand parents and 1 father buried in the same cemetery just 2 miles from where I live. So I pass it a lot in my everyday errands. But today I had the thought, “What a trip! My dad used to drive down this same street and pass his father in this same cemetery as he did his everyday errands.” And then I wondered, “What if my dad could come back to talk to me, what would he want to tell me? And what if he only had like five minuets to say whatever he wanted to tell me? What would be the most important thing he’d have to say?”

It’s funny, but I knew the answer instantly because I believe God was listening in on this conversation in my head. He’d tell me to fall in love with God! And I would say, “But dad, I am in love with God!” And he’d say, “No son, you don’t even get it… I mean abandon yourself to Him, Michael! Jump off of the cliff into the ocean of His love! Let His gravity pull you like an overwhelming force to Him! You think you have to climb to Him when you really just need to fall into Him! It’s just letting go of yourself and all of your insecurities and allowing Him to take you to Himself and fill you overflowing with His love! We were made to be containers of His love, Michael! You don’t need to love people more, you need to just let yourself go and jump into God! I don’t know how else to explain it to you if you haven’t seen Him! He’s pure love wrapped in skin! Love just emanates from His being! He generates all of the love for the entire universe and heaven! All love that exists is coming from Him, son! Drink it! Swim in it! Abandon yourself to Him! The only reason He made us was to love us! LET GOD LOVE YOU, SON! Just let Him! I can’t wait for you to see Him… the way He really is! I’ll see you soon, son!”

Stacey Robbins

Because of Free Believers Network, I have discovered Stacey Robbins. I've only read two of her posts, and I wanted to share one of them here.

http://staceyrobbins.com/are-you-kidding-me

The Universal Presence

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? — Ps 139:7

In all Christian teaching certain basic truths are found, hidden at times, and rather assumed than asserted, but necessary to all truth as the primary colors are found in and necessary to the finished painting. Such a truth is the divine immanence.

God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. This is boldly taught by prophet and apostle and is accepted by Christian theology generally. That is, it appears in the books, but for some reason it has not sunk into the average Christian’s heart so as to become a part of his believing self. Christian teachers shy away from its full implications, and, if they mention it at all, mute it down till it has little meaning. I would guess the reason for this to be the fear of being charged with pantheism; but the doctrine of the divine Presence is definitely not pantheism.

Pantheism’s error is too palpable to deceive anyone. It is that God is the sum of all created things. Nature and God are one, so that whoever touches a leaf or a stone touches God. That is of course to degrade the glory of the incorruptible Deity and, in an effort to make all things divine, banish all divinity from the world entirely.

The truth is that while God dwells in His world He is separated from it by a gulf forever impassable. However closely He may be identified with the work of His hands they are and must eternally be other than He, and He is and must be antecedent to and independent of them. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.

What now does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. Ten million intelligences standing at as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point. It is exactly as near to God from any place as it is from any other place. No one is in mere distance any further from or any nearer to God than any other person is.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Amazing Rythm Aces

Life's Railway to Heaven

Life is like a mountain railroad,
With an engineer that's brave;
We must make the run successful,
From the cradle to the grave;
Watch the curves, the hills, the tunnels;
Never falter, never quail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle,
And your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, Thou wilt guide us,
Til we reach that blissful shore;
Where the angels wait to join us
In thy praise for evermore.

I KNOW the lyrics don't exactly point to an exchanged life, but I still LOVE Southern Gospel, and this is one of the best examples of it.

I hope this link works for those who don't have a Facebook account.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Coming Evangelical Collapse

An essay by Michael Spencer from the Christian Science Monitor.

You can read it here

Heaven Can Wait

Meatloaf's Classic from Bat Out of Hell

Heaven can wait
And a band of angels wrapped up in my heart
Will take me through the lonely night
Through the cold of the day
And I know
I know
Heaven can wait
And all the gods come down here just to sing for me
And the melody's gonna make me fly
Without pain
Without fear
Give me all of your dreams
And let me go along on your way
Give me all of your prayers to sing
And Ill turn the night into the skylight of day
I got a taste of paradise
I'm never gonna let it slip away
I got a taste of paradise
Its all I really need to make me stay --
Just like a child again

Heaven can wait
And all I got is time until the end of time
I wont look back
I wont look back
Let the altars shine

And I know that Ive been released
But I don't know to where
And nobody's gonna tell me know
And I don't really care
No no no
I got a taste of paradise
That's all I really need to make me stay
I got a taste of paradise
If I had it any sooner you know
You know I never would have run away from my home

Heaven can wait
And all I got is time until the end of time
I wont look back
I wont look back
Let the altars shine

Heaven can wait
Heaven can wait
I wont look back
I wont look back
Let the altars shine
Let the altars shine




Monday, March 9, 2009

Cats and the Father

For those of you who don’t like cats, please indulge me.

This goes along with an earlier post I wrote last year about what Father gets out of our relationship

We have a cat we call Scooter. He is a big, fat cat. We adopted him in the early part of 2000 from a cat rescue facility. We didn't pick him out – they just gave us one they believed would be fine being by himself most of the day.



We could not have picked out a better pet if we were given a checklist. Most people who don’t even like cats, like Scooter.

I got up Sunday morning, and as usual, he was waiting for me downstairs. He did his usual habit of rolling on his back inviting me to play with him. I was rubbing his stomach and he was pretending to bite and scratch me, although he only goes so far before he starts licking instead of biting.



This little creature gives me joy and makes me laugh every day. I was thanking Father for bringing him into my life when something hit me. Even though I KNOW that he will do the same thing every morning and roll on his back and want me to play with him, he never fails to make me happy.

Perhaps this is how Father delights in us also. He already knows what we will do and already knows our reaction, but He still LOVES to see it. He loves the reaction when He gives us something or sees our joy when He reveals something to us.

I want to learn to live in Father's affection.

The Speaking Voice

I was taught that God was silent from Malachi to Matthew and that He ceased speaking at the end of Revelation. I wondered about that at the time. It is believed by some that the written Word is God's FINAL word. I no longer believe that. I like this from AW Tozer's, The Pursuit of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. — John 1:1

"An intelligent plain man, untaught in the truths of Christianity, coming upon this text, would likely conclude that John meant to teach that it is the nature of God to speak, to communicate His thoughts to others. And he would be right. A word is a medium by which thoughts are expressed,and the application of the term to the Eternal Son leads us to believe that self-expression is inherent in the Godhead, that God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. The whole Bible supports the idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking. He is by His nature continuously articulate. He fills the world with His speaking Voice."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος

John Ortberg on spiritual growth, "Spiritual growth, in a sense, is simply increasing our capacity to experience the presence of God."

After I read this this morning, I started thinking about it and its implications. We are told that we will bear fruit and my former church would say that we are measured by our fruit. I would ask them where is THEIR fruit from all of the activity? Where are all of the souls being saved at every invitation? Where are all of the new members from the weekly visitation? Why is the world not beating down the doors in order to get in?

They might say that we can't really measure the fruit of their labors, and I would say EXACTLY. WE judge by externals - numbers, appearance, etc.

I like seeking Father better than the busy-ness I used to be in bondage to.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

REAL Reality

Our trouble is that we have established bad thought habits. We habitually think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other. We do not deny the existence of the spiritual world but we doubt that it is real in the accepted meaning of the word.

The world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime. It is clamorous, insistent and self-demonstrating. It does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five senses, demanding to be accepted as real and final. But sin has so clouded the lenses of our hearts that we cannot see that other reality, the City of God, shining around us. The world of sense triumphs. The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible; the temporal, of the eternal. That is the curse inherited by every member of Adam’s tragic race.

At the root of the Christian life lies belief in the invisible. The object of the Christian’s faith is unseen reality.

Our uncorrected thinking, influenced by the blindness of our natural hearts and the intrusive ubiquity of visible things, tends to draw a contrast between the spiritual and the real; but actually no such contrast exists. The antithesis lies elsewhere: between the real and the imaginary, between the spiritual and the material, between the temporal and the eternal; but between the spiritual and the real, never. The spiritual is real.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tozer

You can be as straight as a gun barrel theologically and as empty as one spiritually.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Removing the "And"

When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Good and Becoming Good

Spiritual growth is a process of replacing temporal appearances with eternal reality, and living out of it.

Dan Stone & Greg Smith, The Rest of the Gospel

Sunday, March 1, 2009

John's Story

Excerpt from Recover Your Good Heart by Jim Robbins

John’s Story (Not me, though it could be)

My first experience in Christian fellowship after I became a believer was in a large Bible-believing institutional church where know knowledge was equated with Christian maturity. The heart was rarely mentioned at all, and when it was, it was in the context of emotion. I came to understand that if one had deep feelings about anything that indicated they “had a heart”. I was led to believe that it was rare to find men with hearts in the church. I actually had an elder in the church tell me he wished he had a heard like mine, “but,” he said matter-of-factly, “I just don’t.”

In the subsequent 12 years or so, in the same denomination but different locations, that attitude was pretty much the same. Personal interests or desires, let alone passions, were rarely discussed. The concept of “heart” was restricted to the synonym of emotion. The message from the leadership was always more about duty and responsibility. The common theme was simply that Jesus died for our sins and thus, out of gratitude, we should live our lives like this…

The religious spirit facilitated an appropriate comfort zone in my experience in the church body. It did that by justifying the laying aside of passion and the asking of difficult questions. I was confused by much of the Scripture that was quoted and how it related to my life now. It actually seemed like all that was required of me was to know what the Bible said, and then, somehow, when verses were said, we were expected to make the application to our own lives without honest questions. It was all Greek…all didactic, with very little opportunity for questions.

Because everyone was silent, we were like a bunch of cattle going through the rituals of activities, never being challenged. In retrospect, it was settling into an environment which was arrogant and boring…and lacking in life. The religious spirit promoted the attitude of “not rocking the boat” above all, and it was promoted by “strong leadership” which was really very weak…a group of men hiding from difficult questions I their rote memorization of theology. Amazing. For a very long time I allowed my own independent thought, along with my passion, to be locked up, and I actually sought to do the same to others.

The religious spirit caused me to put my faith in theology created by men. I had faith in faith, but not in God. I worshipped the Bible rather than its author, and the natural consequence of all that was that I was kept at a distance from the source of life; I was kept from the very intimate, “personal relationship” with Jesus which was being advocated from the pulpit.

End of Excerpt

For me, church activity WAS the means to the end. EVERYTHING was laser-beam focused around church. If one had any outside interests that took one out of church on a regular basis, that person was not considered "faithful" and, not prayed for, but internally and corporeally scorned by those how WERE "faithful". Remember Jesus parable about the man who paid all his workers the same no matter when they started, morning, noon, or evening? Baptists HATE that THEY are doing all the work while some seem perfectly happy to let them. I was one of them!

I worshipped the Bible rather than its author


Yes, yes, yes!! The written word has supplanted the living Word.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grace for the Week

A little wisdom from the late, great George Harrison

ISN'T IT A PITY

Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we're all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can't hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn't it a pity

Isn't it a pity
Isn't is a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity
Forgetting to give back
Now, isn't it a pity

What a pity
What a pity, pity, pity
What a pity
What a pity, pity, pity

You can hear it here

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dennis's Story

Excerpt from Recover Your Good Heart by Jim Robbins

Dennis’s Story

A friend of mine, Dennis, is afraid he may be fired from the church where’s he’s a drummer for the worship band. The reason they could ask him to leave has nothing to do with his abilities as a musician or his desire to serve.

The church has instituted the typical church-wide small group mandate, stating that every person on every team needs to be involved in a small group (You have to love mandated relationships. Contrived community always comes up empty.) It’s not enough that everyone on the worship team is being strongly urged to participate in a small group, but they also have to read the same book. Perhaps that means that everyone will be on the same page when they’re done reading the book. (Getting people on the same page usually means that disagreeing with the leadership is discouraged. Can you smell autocratic “unity” here?)

Notice the pressure to conform to standards of religious behavior, even well-intended activities?

Dennis is a deeply committed believer, and tends to think for himself; meaning that he’s not satisfied with an unquestioned approach to faith. What’s more, he’s already strongly involved in a fellowship with people he’s been walking with for years; but that fellowship isn't’ connected to the local church where he’s playing drums.

Dennis is afraid that if he questions the mandate to participate in the worship team small group – with its scripted small group study – he’ll be challenged at best, and asked to leave, at worst. His fears are not unfounded.

He knows how religious organizations conduct themselves, even well-intentioned ones: “Unless you follow Jesus in the way we’ve prescribed, your faith is suspect and your commitment is questionable.”

Uniformity of behavior and conformity to particular benchmarks are modus operandi of many of today’s churches. Conformity makes us FEEL (emphasis mine) as if everyone’s in agreement, pursuing the same path to righteousness: It is control masquerading as discipleship. Uniformity gives us the illusion of ‘church unity,’ when all it does is produce masses of cyborg Christians who have no mind of their own and are reluctant to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth.

End of excerpt

“Dennis is afraid that is he questions the mandate to participate in the worship team small group – with its scripted small group study – he’ll be challenged at best, and asked to leave, at worst.”

Being in the same church for 17 years and in the leadership for the last 10, I can speak firsthand about example after example of this being true – at least in MY experience.

At one time, we had a truly gifted children’s Sunday School teacher who was ultimately asked to step down because he was not “faithful” to all of the services, and was told therefore a bad example to the body as a whole and especially the children he taught. Needless to say, he left the church and the Baptist denomination. His sister considers him to be one of the most spiritual persons she knows, and I would wager that he’s not “faithful” in the Baptist sense of the word.

Coming out of that and now with the perspective of time, I can now see the group-think tactics, however good-intentioned, that were employed there. Not completely knocking that body, but I believe that it is all too common in the Post-Modern American Christian church.

We are spoken of as “faithful” if we attend every service and every activity, never stopping to think what that even means. In other words, (in their mind) using this language, I don’t have” faith” if I don’t do the prescribed behavior that the Pastor expects – in this case, attending every service with an occasional absence – usually only thought of as legitimate if one is going out of town or there is an illness. I understand that us coming together fosters closeness and edifies the body, but saying that one doesn’t have faith if one is not at every service is shameful . Yes, it’s full of shame.

Being spoken of as faithful really massages the ego, especially when spoken by the Pastor in earshot of the one being spoken of.

Also, it will be a cold day in Hell when the phrase “small group” will be used in an Independent Baptist church. We used Bible Study Hour, which itself is most likely frowned down upon from other, more conservative, IB churches.

”Dennis is a deeply committed believer, and tends to think for himself; meaning that he’s not satisfied with an unquestioned approach to faith.”


If one would disagree with the faith statement of the church, or at the very least ask a difficult question, then that person would then become “suspect”. The Pastor’s word has final authority, and anyone that questions that is “sowing discord.”

My Pastor would say that Paul’s prophesy in 2 Timothy 4:3 is being fulfilled in us that have, at the very least least, lost confidence in the IC - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; or as another version states: A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear.