Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Like NBC and Disney....but better!

If you have kids and/or a TV, you know there are times when some channels have a theme of sorts where every show of that evening has a connection. I remember NBC having characters visit each others shows all on one night. Recently on Disney I recalled each show having a "wish gone amiss" episode.

Well today's blog (late again!) is like that, but better. Not because I'll do the theme a great justice, but because I sense God wants to break some misconceptions through simple definitions. To do this, I'm crossing against my own blog, http://thesurrenderedscribe.blogspot.com/2008/04/journey-with-joy-mondays-part-two-on-is.html.

That post was a bit deeper than that blog is and uses terms that might be new or scary to those even in Christian circles. To those who do not have personal relationship with Christ, well my guess is they might be down right freaky and scary. They were to me.

So there are terms I'm going to list. If you are looking for the Anne Graham Lotz or Beth Moore definition found in the Greek or Hebrew, well, you are at the wrong place. I'm a simpleton and God uses that. I'm finally at the place that I get that is how He created me. Please, please take what you read here and look the terms up in the Bible, you can even go to the right of this blog, and click on the online Bible. Don't follow me, follow Him.

Here are words that tripped me up for a long time:

Born Again---It was John 3-7 that explains a logical question Nicodemus asked Jesus.
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'

Born again was a term I didn't understand and because I didn't, I made fun of it. A kid in college returned from summer break announcing he was born again. I didn' get it. I knew he didn't go back in his mom's womb for a second birth, but I didn't know what this "church-y" term meant.

This is what I think of when I think of the term. Before I knew Christ in a personal way, as a friend, as One I talk to throughout the day, I was a person thinking of only one person-myself. I was full of the flesh. It was about me pure and simple. When I prayed and asked Jesus to be part of my daily life and admitted I was a sinner and He was the ONLY way to bridge that gap that sin gives, I knew the old me, the one before Christ, would have to be gone. I wanted it gone. The "old man" me, the fleshy part, died on the cross with Jesus and because He rose from the dead, I (and anyone who chooses) can live a new life as well. Accepting Him in my life started a new life. I may look the same on the outside, yet so much has changed. People have even looked at pictures of me and they could point out the "before" and "after" Jesus because of the glow on my face. I don't come right out and say "hey everyone, I'm born again" but if someone point blank asks me I'll admit it, but add what that means. I want to absolutely crush the thought that I am religious. I want no part of religion. What I do want and have is relationship. I absolutely would want nothing less.

Speaking in tongues----Yikes this is a touchy one and again, if you are looking for doctrine, that's not my gift. Search the Scriptures, it is a gift to covet but I was confronted once and told if I wasn't speaking in tongues, I was destined to hell. I do not agree with that and I do not find that Biblical. If you do we can debate it, but that tongue speaking man was a horrible model of faith in other ways, and set me back in fear so far that I did NOT want that because I didn't want to act like that guy.

Speaking in tongues to me is made more scary and complicated than it needs to be. I do not think it needs to be something that belongs strictly to the Pentecostal or Assemblies of God type churches, but they seem to be the denominations known for it. However I know Baptists, Catholics and Wesleyans who know Christ in a personal way who in their private prayer time use words that are not from their normal language.

I have heard stories of people praying in a prayer language only to have something from another country come up and say, "That was my home language. How did you know that---you were fluent, praising God." That person had no clue of that language.

I've heard the gift used in missions experiences when a border needed to be crossed but there was a language barrier. One person spoke in English yet the guard heard fluent Russian. When the Russian spoke back, the English person heard perfect English. That's God working through the Holy Spirit and that's not scary, it's cool!

For me, I learned that no one seeking this has to be up on altars screaming and yelling speeches in another language. I went to God in my own time, in my own way because I tend to be more introverted. I just praised God over and over. Say the word hallelujah, just keep saying it. Stop thinking (like I did) about what is going on, but just get lost in praising Him. He died for you, He is alive for you, isn't that worth some thanks?

You may hear yourself say something as simple as "ba" back and dismiss it. Don't. That is the beginning and it's worth rejoicing. Don't stop. Start small and watch your faith grow as the words do. I honestly have my prayer language time almost anywhere but church. They are special times between me and the Lord and I've enjoyed those times folding laundry, driving, and when I can't sleep. What I love most about the speaking in tongues/prayer language experience is guess who can't get in on that communication? The devil. As you speak you might be interceding for others you don't even know, perhaps you are speaking strategy from the Lord, but whatever it is, the devil can't figure it out. I love that.

Please, I was afraid of this for YEARS. I'd love to say everyone treated me with understanding but folks, if you are judging someone for not speaking in tongues, telling them they don;t have the faith, pounding on their forehead and nearly knocking them down to get them to comply----I take issue with that. God is about love. Try it.

Slain in the Spirit---again, this one carries fear and it should not have to, but I also know it's an experience that well meaning people have misused and turned others away. Remember Moses and the Burning Bush? God's presence is so strong, so holy that you can't stand under it even if you wanted to. Where He is, it's holy ground. The Holy Spirit is part of God, He is He, not it. The Holy Spirit is a teacher, counselor and guide. He is so much more than your personal Jiminy Cricket. When the Holy Spirit shows up, you may experience or observe different manifestations. They are going to seem off to you because you are looking at it from a human perspective and you want to react that way and put God in that same box. He hasn't changed in over 2000 years but His ways differ. Some may come into the presence of the Lord and feel it so strongly they are standing one minute and down the next. I've seen this many times, but I've also seen it abused. If you are forcing yourself down (I have a mentor who has seen people fluff their skirts out in preparation of falling) or if someone praying for you is pressing you so hard in an effort to push you down, well that bugs me. God is so powerful and holy if He needs your help, He'll let you know. Can I be honest? I have not yet experienced this because I am a controlling person. I want to fall on my terms and I'm afraid. Yet I don't want to be afraid, but I want to happen God's way and time, not mine.

Revival---This is when God shows up and blows any plan anyone has. You can't in my opinion schedule it, manipulate it. Can I be bold enough to say I don't think you can imitate it, I don't think you are supposed to. I know many churches have revival meetings but I don't think it is the same as a revival. For instance, right now I'm watching http://www.god.tv/. A month ago Todd Bentley was scheduled for a conference in Lakeland, Florida. He is someone God has gifted as a "hose" for healing. If you hear man ever take credit for works of God, be cautious. Jesus should always get the credit. Todd started sharing what God was giving in information and direction and as of tonight they are in a convention center full at 8,000. He has been there every night for a month. That wasn't his plan, the church that originally hosted him, God just showed up and people are getting healed. Again, this is an area that has been abused so don't believe me, go after God and ask Him to show you. People are getting medical documentation to back up what God has done and on line I have seen and even experienced amazing things while watching. There have been revivals where people on the streets selling drugs, their bodies, all sorts of stuff with no intention of asking Jesus in their life drop it all and run to the place where God is working. They pray, God moves, and they leave those lifestyles. There are revivals where people seek the destiny for their lives. Revivals can bring unique reactions from people, again, when you have the presence of God and His angels minstering over you, you can't operate under that on your own. People may shake, dance, cry, laugh or stagger as if drunk (it's called drunk in the spirit), sing, or like above, just fall right down. If you are trying to imitate those moves because you see it in someone else or another church and you want that, I don't think it's going to work. I know in the 1990's a church in Brownsville and an incredible revival experience and other churches came to visit out of curiosity. They returned to their churches and wanted it to be replicated exactly as it was in Brownsville. It split churches because it got so out of hand, I know because I saw it first hand. Keep in mind God had a plan for Brownsville, and He has one for you. It might not be the same, but it might not. Let the Holy Spirit be the guide.

Grace---Unmerited favor. You are given something good you don't deserve. My favorite story is of the student who breaks the rules and is supposed to receive a paddle from the administrator. The administrator calls him into the office and hands the paddle to the boy. The boy questioned him and the principal said to take the paddle and use it on the principal. The boy asked why. The principal took the paddle for him and said, "because I'm giving you grace." Grace is what Jesus extended to us. It is what is lacking in the body of Christ today, yours truly included. I desire grace.

I hope these terms give you a light bulb moment instead of the deer in a headlights look. I just don't want anyone to fear, stay away from or leave a situation because you don't understand it. I regret those years I felt and still feel paralyzed by fear.

I told you I'm a simpleton. I'll leave you with something so simple that it will be profound but wrap it around these terms and seek Him. Here's the simple statement.

God is love.

He loves you.

Thanks for reading today and being patient as our schedule is off a bit. I'm looking for volunteer writers this May to help me over at http://thesurrenderedscribe.blogspot.com/. I'm participating in the daily blogging challenge called NaBloPoMo where the theme is "voices". I feel God wants me to give up my voice on that blog and ask others to take my place. I have some slots filled, others who are tentative, but many openings remain. Whether or not you have a blog I encourage you to consider writing. You can write one post on any topic. You can write asking to be anonymous. You can be an author or business owner who wants to get your name out. I'm quite flexible. If you have a blog you can send me a little introduction and then send a link to your own blog and a favorite post of yours. Interested? First come first served---send your post and an optional bio and picture to jarduini@faithwriters.net. Thanks!

Julie Arduini is a surrendered writer with her own blog, http://thesurrenderedscribe.blogspot.com/. A graduate of the Christian Writers Guild, she blogs for the Christian Writers Forum Sundays as the mommy blogger and is the Forum's book club facilitator. She is active with FaithWriters and has several writings ready to publish in different books and anthologies in 2008-09. To get to know her better, read her interview by Lynda Schab at: http://www.faithreaders.com/featured-author-details.php?id=33%20To contact Julie, please use the e mail provided in our profile.

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