Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Come, Let Us Experience The Spirit of Emotional High Together

Over the past few days an interesting discussion — poured across several different places — has arisen. And it's not even about Rob Bell!

It started, most likely, with a Facebook note by Anthony Weber regarding the book, God is Not One, by Stephen Protero. The note's title is "Protestantism's Scarecrow Faith?!?!?" I learned of it via a comment made by a blog brother, Scott Smith, who further addressed it in his blog, Sarcastic Xtian, in a post titled "A Mindless Faith." Both provide excellent insights and stuff to consider.

I'm going to take a slightly different approach.

Consider †his: the Holy Spirit is not an emotional high experienced in "church."

I was surprised to discover in Google's results for "gifts of the holy spirit" a mention of Isaiah 11:1-5. I was more familiar with the ones found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and Romans 12:1-10. (Thanks to Robert Longham, Jr., for his page, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which provided a quick reference as well as a balanced view of the whole thing.) Galatians 5:22-23, on the other hand, provides the fruit of the Spirit.

While I could go off on the abuses made involving the gifts & fruit, I'll leave that for another post.

This time I want to tackle the modern notion of shutting down our minds in favor of getting "pumped up" with emotions. Yes, I'm talking about preachers and other leaders who choose to lead in chaos during a worship service rather than teach the word of God!

God has much for us to learn from His Word. We are called to learn sound doctrine so we may encourage those who trust it, and rebuke or refute those teachings that go against it (Titus 1:9). That passage refers to the "trustworthy word," meaning what is now considered Scripture, as we don't have the apostles among us (apostolic succession notwithstanding). Titus was later instructed by Paul to teach that same sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

Paul's successor in teaching, Timothy, was also instructed to hold fast to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-16, 1 Timothy 1:3-7). Later Paul warned Tim that people would give up on sound doctrine, choosing a wide variety of teachers that will affirm whatever they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

Welcome to the 21st century!

We have so many "feel-good" teachers that you have no reason to feel bad. Yet so many of us do! That's because emotions aren't permanent. They run & hide at the drop of a circumstance. Emotions aren't trustworthy. Many people feel "up" when the sun is shining, and "down" when it's cloudy & "gloomy." Emotions are often merely the result of chemical changes in our body. I suffer from clinical depression, caused by the inability to create and/or use the neurotransmitter serotonin properly.

Emotions make up the majority of our remembered experiences. This is especially true of women, who are able to use both sides of their brains at once, allowing them to think and feel at the same time. Sorry, men, it makes no sense to us, because we're "brain damaged" and can't do that. Still, how much pain do we guys remember compared to learned knowledge?

God can, of course, heal our hurts, repair our remembrances, and effect emotional changes for His glory. Sometimes, though, we have to be smart … Book smart … WORD smart! We need to know what God says to us so that we can bring Him glory even when we don't feel like it, or when our past experiences "prove" that what we "feel" is "true."

Life in Christ can be a "thrill ride" at times, but that's not all it is. We need solid truth — sound doctrine — to get us through those times when we know that roller coaster of life is surely going to throw us out of our car, hurtling head-first to our destruction … precisely what our enemy, the devil, wants us to think so we won't bring God glory!

When have you "felt" God protecting you in spite of your emotions? Has the emotional high ever failed you? When has the truth you've learned from God's Word rescued you from a bad emotional experience?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creation is Groaning … But No Worse Than Usual

Okay, time to dive in to the Japan earthquake whirlpool of commentary swirling about the Internet.

I've read several blog posts, and probably passed by several more, that note the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Japan are a sign of the end-times. While I really cannot disagree with them, I do need to provide a fact-check on events.

According to the US Geological Survey's web site, the number of severe quakes has remained constant over the past several decades. A related article by AccuWeather provides further explanation. The number of reports has increased dramatically. What do you expect when the network of seismic detection stations has grown from around 350 in the 1970's to over 8,000 today, each station using equipment that will detect tremors that people won't even feel? What do you expect when we can see, hear, and experience an earthquake immediately via a cell-phone video transmitted over the Internet?

What we're seeing is the technology to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19) in action!

Consider This: each day brings us closer to Christ's return, no matter when that will be. And, remember, not even Jesus knew the day or hour of that event (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32)! It could be very soon, as many people believe, or it could be beyond our lifetimes.

Consider This: each day brings us closer to our final destination. No matter what your end-times ideas are, today could be your last day on Earth. The day of the earthquake was the last day for many in Japan. The day of another earthquake was the last day for many in Haiti. The day when a dear 25-year-old friend died of cancer was his last day … his "end-time."

I won't argue at all the need to be ready, and to get people ready to meet our Lord on His terms, not our own. But let's keep the facts true, shall we?

How would you have responded, before Christ, to someone telling you the "end of the world" is near?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Faith: Practical, powerful, rooted in sonship, and NOT in emotionalism « Project: Mathetes

For those who follow this blog (thanks to both of you :) ), you may have noticed I've changed the "tag line" or description of this blog. I've been inspired by other blogs to copy their style expand my horizons a bit in this blog. While I started out thinking this would be something more of a "Bible study" blog, I've come to realize that pulling together concepts from personal experience, supported by the Bible, might make my writing more relatable to others. I'm not saying that personal experience trumps the Bible … God forbid, as the King James says! On the other hand, describing how God whacks me on the head touches me through the Scripture is probably less dry and more easily understood by others.

Besides, I feel it's where God's leading me, so there. :)

Having said all that, I've started encountering tons of other Christ-centered blogs, as well as a few "flakes" out there. I don't like following the "flakes," so I'll probably leave them alone. There's one blog post, though, that expresses an idea perfectly! This article's title is a link to it, or you can use the one below:

Faith: Practical, powerful, rooted in sonship, and NOT in emotionalism « Project: Mathetes (Note: as of August, 2011, the blog has been shut down over concerns for the safety of the author & his family. See my post on Cyber-Persecution for details. I'll have to see if I saved a copy of the article and summarize it here or get permission to make it available.)

I first encountered the "Word of Faith" movement through someone I met online, on a pre-Internet system known as American People/Link. Okay, the Internet was sort-of kind-of in existence, but not to the home. These were the days of online services such as CompuServe and America Online. (For more about this period, see the Wikipedia Internet article's History section.) PLink (as it was commonly called) was one of the early "chat room" systems that added forums and other content later. One fellow from Georgia found me on there and on CompuServe. He read quite a bit by authors such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, and Charles Capps. He "graciously" sent me a sampling of their books, including Capps' The Tongue: A Creative Force.

The bottom line of the whole "speaking = creating" heresy is that God "used His Faith" when He "spoke the universe into existence." Since we are "made in the image of God," we, too, can use the Force Faith to speak things, events, and situations into existence. Don't "speak negative," though, or that will come into existence as well!

This allows us puny humans to be like God, or like "little gods."

Sound familiar? I seem to recall an angel in Heaven who was cast down, along with a third of the angelic host, for wanting to supplant God. This ex-angel, now known as "the devil," Satan, the serpent in the garden, and a wide array of other names & terms, still wants to throw God off His throne and seat himself in it.

Is that what he wants to do with us? No way! He is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:43-44). His purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:7-13). He wants to obliterate everything that is special to God — especially you & me! You can't sell your soul to him, because he hates it. His purpose is like that of the man who searches for the finest example of art made by his enemy, only to burn it out of existence forever. He doesn't want you to prosper by the world's standards or by God's standard. He will, however, "fake it" until you're deceived to the point where it's too late to see the truth.

This is precisely what the heretics from "Copeland-Hagin" are doing to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide! They and so many other false teachers are deceiving people into the devil's hands, and away from God's truth. Some of them may very well be deceived themselves, perhaps by the "angel" that Copeland claims he hears. (Remember that third of the angels that fell with Satan? Yeah, we tend to call them "demons" now, but that doesn't make them any less angelic.)

True faith is vibrant and connects us with God. The false power of the "Word of Faith" disconnects us from the One Who loves us.
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