Some thoughts for fellow followers of Jesus…
The ten second sound bite version of what I am writing is this: If you blew it, and have a mess on your hands, let God fix it. You thought you could be in control and do things your own way, and now you have a mess. In your flesh, you made a mess. What makes you think that in your flesh, you can fix it? Better to walk in the Spirit like you should have to begin with. Walk in the Spirit, and let God fix it.
The longer version of the same story line is as follows…
Sin is a nasty thing. It promises much, and delivers little. The consequences are always bigger than the gratification. It never seems as bad as it really is…until later.
We get used to sinning. We minimize it. We get de-sensitized to it. We agree in our heads that something is wrong, but we do it anyway, intending to stop.
There are sins of commission: we do things that we know are wrong.
There are sins of omission: we don’t do things we know that we should.
The sin in a Christian’s life can run the gamut of not reading your Bible (dumb…you need God’s Word, heart, and direction) to something much more obvious, like substance abuse or sexual immorality. We can be committing little sins, like being disagreeable, or we can be committing bigger sins, such as being violent and a striker. A sin of omission might be that you don’t think that church attendance is important, and eventually find yourself isolated, alone, unchallenged, un-encouraged, etc. There are numerous examples of sins of commission and omission.
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Filed under: Christianity
, Decision Making
, Dying To Self
, God's Will
, Good Intentions
, Self Awareness
, Spirit Filled Life
, Spiritual Blindness
, Spiritual Growth
Years ago, I read those words on an invitation to a church event.
The sponsoring church did everything they could to convince me that I ought to attend their event.
They promised that I would laugh. There is nothing wrong with laughing. In fact, the Bible commends a good laugh. Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine…”.
They promised that I would cry. I can be an emotional guy, and have been known to cry in public. Sometimes a good cry is very cleansing to the soul. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Crying can release a lot of tension and emotion. There is nothing wrong with a good cry.
And yet, I objected to their flier, and to their promises. I still do. This was a Christian outreach, and yet they were promising to deliver these emotions to me. They presumed to know what I needed. There appeared to be no room for the Holy Spirit to do something else. What if what I needed was a fresh dose of somberness in the presence of a perfectly holy God? It wasn’t on the agenda for the night.
My assumed responses were pre-planned and predicted. They tutored me about what I would experience. They planned my responses in advance. Their goal was to get me to laugh and to cry. They were sure that they could make it happen.
Increasingly, I see Christians confusing emotional experiences at a church, with a God experience in the Holy Spirit.
There are many ways to evoke emotions in “Christian” settings. The right music or no music. The right lighting or having only candles. There are many ways to affect emotions towards a desired goal.
Both true and false messages can evoke an emotional experience. Some pastors teach the Word of God, and are humorous. Other pastors read a passage, and then tell funny stories, neglecting to teach or apply God’s word to the listener. Often, both men can be equally funny, but many Believers can’t tell that there is any difference. This is extremely alarming to me.
It seems that many in Christendom are lacking the spiritual maturity to discern whether God or man has spoken to them.
I have been walking with Jesus for 30 years. I have seen true signs and wonders, and false signs and wonders. I have seen emotionally impacting Spirit led preaching, and I have seen emotionally human inspired preaching. I have been moved to tears by “boring” preachers who were excellent teachers, and who revealed Jesus to me. I have been bored to tears by emotional speakers that taught me nothing.
I have seen crowds of people moved by the Holy Spirit. I have seen other crowds moved by pep rally worship leaders and charismatic, talented speakers.
In many cases, an emotional experience is the goal for a Christian event, rather than a revelation of who Jesus is.
My concern is not about how people express themselves in the presence of God. There is great latitude concerning that. My concern is about what causes a certain response. Is it the incredible Spirit of Perfect Holiness, or is it a church culture where certain behaviors are predicted, arranged and manipulated? Is it God, or is it man?
Dear Christian brother/sister…is your desire for Christ the great motivation of your life, or do you simply have a desire to laugh and cry at church? If you prefer somber worship, is it because you are overwhelmed with God’s awesomeness, and words don’t suffice, or is it because you just need some “quiet space to chill out”? If you prefer emotionally charged worship is it because you need a place to “get crazy” and pump your fist in the air, or is it a demonstrative, Spirit led joy in the presence of our great God?
Christian, beware of pre-programmed emotional experiences that any group or church might insist you need. Jesus is what you need. Sometimes, He will take us to the highest heights of ecstatic worship. The very next day, His Spirit may move you to sit and stay silent. He knows what you need. Not you. Not the preacher. Not the worship leader. Not me.
Let Jesus decide if you will laugh, or if you will cry.
I just returned from another week in Mexico. I have been there 10 out of the last 14 days. This last week was not fun. The first 24 hours I enjoyed my usual portions of tacos, rice, and egg dishes, but Wednesday night, we found a “nice” restaurant that served “Enselata de Cheffe”. That sounded good, so I ordered it. I didn’t stop to check that “Enselata de Cheffe” translated into “eat this and you’ll be sicker than a dog”. Yup, the next two days were spent in my hotel room doing what sick tourists do. Let the reader beware.
I appreciate good food, and will go a bit out of my way for a good meal, the word “bit” being somewhat relative depending on what I am craving. So yeah, I can be a bit snobby when it comes to food. I have really grown (no pun intended) to appreciate the fine dining found in the Napa Valley.
But I was thinking about food critics, and how over the top and extreme restaurant reviews, etc., can be. A good meal is one thing. Extreme, opinionated diatribes about food…me no like. At some point, it seems ridiculous. Chef wars? No thanks. Baking competition? Uh, no…unless I am judging.
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The Bible is an oft quoted book, but the sad truth is that many who quote it don’t understand it. They start from a premise, already having their minds made up about something. They then read the Scriptures, and twist God’s Word to fit their preconceived ideas. The result of this kind of thinking is erroneous.
Such was the case with some Sadducees that conversed with Jesus.
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Mark 2:15-17 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” 17When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
All men have sinned, and fall short of God’s glory, but not all men recognize that fact.
These Pharisees didn’t realize that they had just as much of a need to sit with Jesus as did the people they despised. The tax collectors and sinners were willing to sit with Jesus, and spend time with Him. The self righteous Pharisees didn’t see their need of sitting with Jesus. Read more »
Matthew 12:22-24 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
When the topic of Jesus comes up, opinions will vary greatly. It has always been that way. Discussions about Jesus always reveal what is in people’s hearts.
In Matthew 12, Jesus healed a demon possessed man that had been brought to Him. The two responses to this healing couldn’t have been farther apart.
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