My Utmost for His Highest

I havent used a devotional book to aid in my personal Quality Times (QT) with God in a long time. [Side note – I call it Quality Time and not Quiet Time. I understand the concept is to ‘quiet yourself’ before God so you can hear His voice, etc, but I just dont believe every time with God must be ‘quiet.’ I think it’s a misnomer.] But, last nite I found myself dusting off my old copy of My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers and reading through the day’s devotion. It was great. I remember how much wisdom I would glean Chambers’ spiritual insights. I think I’ll be going thru it a bit more often these days. I’ve quit BSF for this yr, so I’m coming up dry on daily discipline. 

I really dont like devotional books, to be honest. I think they’re a waste of time in a lot of respects. Not because they’re written poorly – tho some are – but because I think people rely too much on reading the commentary about the Bible verse/passage and not reading the Bible itself. (I want to personally thank my friend Vicky Li for that insight.) It’s true. Even tho I really like Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, and it’s probably the only devotional book I’ve kept and thumbed through over the years, I still recommend that people read the BIBLE. 

Ironically, I wouldnt mind writing a devotional myself. 😛 I think it’s the nerd in me. But, esp b/c the Bible is very intimidating for people to read. Unfortunately, they do not enjoy it at ALL! And since I have discipled many many youth, I know this to be all too true. 😦 So, if I wrote a devotional, it would be a cross between giving people a piece of the Word to carry with them throughout the day, as well as teach them how to read through the Bible and apply it, while also incorporating different disciplines to keep oneself meditating on Scripture throughout the day. Something like that. Sounds convoluted. Maybe one day I can do it. It may not be too comprehensive. After all, how much can you do in a 365-day devo? You certainly cant go through every single verse in Scripture! But, maybe I can leave it off with some tips on continuing after the reader is done. It would definitely be egalitarian in theology, as well as charismatic. And maybe it would be geared towards women in particular. Not that men dont need to learn these things, of course. And since I disciple more boys/men than girls/women, there’s no way they can get away from it. But, women esp need to be educated, particularly in today’s church. The church is confused about women and women are confused about Scripture. This has to stop.

Can I accomplish that in one devotional? Maybe. And maybe once I write it, I’ll publish it. And then recommend that people not read it, but read the Bible instead. 😛

Southern Baptist Racism?

While most people are keeping their eyes on the governmental politics happening right now what with Super Tuesday and the recent debates, I’ve been keeping my eye on the latest church politics the last couple of yrs. Undoubtedly, the biggest noise has been made by the Southern Baptist Convention/International Mission Board. Their revised Baptist Faith and Message made a big stink when it authorized women to ‘graciously submit to the servant-leadership of their husbands,’ (my paraphrase) in the yr 2000.
The spiral downward began in 1984 when after already having ordained women into pastoral offices for over a decade, they decided they were not being ‘true to Scripture’ as it pertains to women’s roles, and recanted their previous position. A great summary and critique can be found here.

Then, they got into more hot water after a 2005 document was released by the International Mission Board whereby they determined that anyone professing to actively practice what they term ‘Private Prayer Language’ (PPL), i.e. tongues, would surely find themselves disqualified from finding a position on the mission field. Rev. Dwight McKissic, a former Southern Baptist trustee preached at an SBC seminary on this issue and freely admitted that he himself had received the gift of tongues at seminary. He challenged the student body to decide for themselves on this issue (which is what I thought seminary was for – challenging ppl’s minds, not shutting them down), and his sermon was censored. Later, after much discussion, he resigned his position as a trustee b/c of all the crap he and his family had been thru. (Who can blame him?) He has his own blog on how the SBC decision on tongues is actually prejudicial here. Wade Burleson, a fellow trustee, who also recently resigned (see a trend?) has written extensively about the divisiveness of the new policies and in support of Rev McKissic himself on his blog. Whilst Rev McKissic focuses on the ’emotional prejudice’ that tongues may instigate, I am pretty sure there’s also a lot of racial prejudice involved.

You see, Rev McKissic is a black man in a white man’s denomination.

I hate to say this, but the SBC does have a proven track record of advocating for things of which they’ve had to repent later. Slavery, for one. Racism, for another. (Anyone see a connection?) The fact is that in the macrocosm sense of things the American (and perhaps Western) church considers itself to be very racially/ethnically and economically superior to churches in other countries, particularly those that are still developing. In the microcosm sense of things, what this translates into is racial/ethnic and class superiority complexes, e.g. white over black, rich over poor, city over country. Yes, I am making a blanket statement. Obviously, not every single white church thinks that a black or Hispanic church is to be disdained. (I am saving the Asian church – the privileged minority – from getting involved in this debate for now.) But, overall, speaking from the perspective of a Hispanic woman, (and yes, I do sometimes become Hispanic again when it suits me), it is easy for me to see this prejudice. If you read Rev McKissic’s blog and see the very racially charged comment he received from another white ‘man of God’ who is supposed to be his equal in every respect, you will not be able to deny that race is very much still an issue in the church, as well as class, and dont even get me started on gender. >_<

The fact of the matter is that churches which elevate the status of women, and that are charismatic/pentecostal, (thus actively practicing and pursuing the gift of tongues a.k.a. PPL), are racially in the minority, are ethnically darker-skinned, are economically disadvantaged and are often found in developing nations. How do you account for this? I dont have time to get into the research now, so I’ll just make another blanket statement: I just think they’re more Biblical in these areas, even if they still struggle in others. And if they’re not more Biblical in those respects, then how do you account for the obvious outpouring of God’s Spirit in those nations, on those churches, in those ministries, and the apathy/dryness/animosity towards the church in the West? Is God really that much of a compensator? Sure, He is. Oh, He is! I cant even describe to you how much He compensates for our stupidity. But, really – miracles? tongues? gifted women pastors/preachers/teachers? Come on. Maybe instead of always chalking it up to God’s compensation, we should call it what it is — a movement of the Spirit of Jesus!

Let’s stop looking at the developing nations and implying that their churches still have a lot to learn just b/c they may have pastors who didnt go to college (not a requirement for the Spirit’s calling last I checked my TNIV), or b/c there are parts of their congregation who dont own a full Bible (but yet possess the fullness of the Holy Spirit living in them), and let’s start looking at them as the Spirit of God does – not just spiritually equal, but functionally as well. Not that they are just attempting to build a church, but that they actually have one. Not just trying to follow Jesus, but actually doing it, and that better than we are! What does our Western church know of true sacrifice? war? persecution? poverty? slavery? Nothing! But, these nations do. And Jesus did. And that’s why He can be found more often in a tent in Africa on a random wkday evening than He can be found in any of our churches here on a Sunday morning.

American church – get over yourself.

Liberte! Fraternite! Egalite!
Amen.

Gift of Tongues

Thought I’d post stuff about Tongues here for ppl’s reference, since I didnt get to go that in depth at TECBC.

Tongues Workshop

I. What Speaking in Tongues IS
a. Glossolalia – a Greek word which means to speak in a language
i. Languages: known/unknown; human/angelic (Acts 2; 1 Cor. 13:1)
b. A Spiritual Gift (1 Cor. 12)
i. Who has them? Believers only! (I Cor. 12: 1-7)
ii. What are they? (Not an exhaustive list.)
1. Eph. 4: the various offices (positions ordained by God and legitimized by the church)
2. Romans 12: the motivations (using gifts in proportion to your faith)
3. I Cor. 12: the manifestations (what can be seen)
iii. How are they given?
1. By God (James
1:17)
2. As promised by Jesus (Mark
16:17)
3. Through the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)
4. As a fulfillment of Scripture (Joel
2:28-32)
5. For all time. (Acts 2:38-39, Rom.
11:29)
iv. Why are they given?
1. To strengthen the church (I Cor.
14:26)
a. Regardless of whether or not you agree with your church stance on the issue, remember to submit to your spiritual leaders. Be a blessing, not a burden. (Heb 13:17)
2. To build yourselves up in the Spirit (Jude 20)

II. What Speaking in Tongues is NOT
a. NOT gibberish. (Acts
2:11)
b. NOT uncontrollable. (1 Cor. 14:32-33)
c. NOT only for “special” people. (Acts
2:38-39)
d. NOT a status symbol. (1 Cor. 14:5-6)
e. NOT a substitute for spiritual growth. (1 Peter 1:13)
f. NOT to be rejected in the Church. (1 Cor. 14:39-40)
g. NOT a common language to be used in conversation. (1 Cor. 14:23)
h. NOT for everyone. (1 Cor. 12:30)

III. Three Functions of Tongues
a. “A Sign for Unbelievers” – Wherein the speaker speaks in a foreign language an unbeliever can understand. (Acts 2:5-13; 1 Cor.
14:22)
i. Example: missions field
b. “Message in tongues” – Wherein the speaker speaks in the Church and the Gift of Interpretation of Tongues is needed (1Cor.
12:10; 14:5b, 23, 27-28)
i. Example 1: Used during a Sunday service
ii. Example 2: Used during a prayer meeting
1. Note – Just because you speak in tongues does not mean that you always have a message from God for your church. You can have a desire to worship and pray in tongues in church and still do it privately. Also, you are under the authority and guidelines of your church. So, do not presume to speak in public without pastoral permission.
c. “Private spiritual language” – Wherein the speaker speaks only to God and cannot be understood. Interpretation is not needed, but can be sought. (1 Cor. 14:2,13-15)
i. Example: Apostle Paul (1 Cor.
14:18-19) – praying and praising (v.15-16a)

IV. The Fruit of the Spirit
a. Gal 5:22-23 – Spiritual Gifts administered properly will produce Spiritual Fruit. (Matt 7:17-18)

V. Misc. Questions
a. How can I use my tongues to build up my spiritual family?
i. Intercession-God gave you the gift, so use it to pray for your church, esp your leaders!
ii. Praying for individuals-always ask them first if it’s ok that you use your tongues
iii. Interpretation-if you use it in public service, or a large group, be prepared to interpret, or make sure someone can interpret
b. How do I know when to use tongues in corporate or one-on-one prayer?
i. Ask for permission (stated above)
ii. Use it silently
c. What if I’m the only person in my church that has tongues?
i. Use it all the time in private devotion and worship
ii. Submit to leadership authority and church guidelines
1. Talk to pastor/elder/mentor
iii. Educate yourself – Bible, books, etc – but be discerning!

VI. Book List
a. The Beauty of Spiritual Language, Jack Hayford
b. They Speak with Other Tongues, John Sherill
c. Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church, C. Peter Wagner
d. Chasing the Dragon, Jackie Pullinger

VII. WWW:
a. Online Gift Inventory: http://www.buildingchurch.net/g2s.htm

Paul Washer’s Youth Sermon

I have been trying to say this – in unfortunately subtle ways – for SO MANY YRS!
Paul says it so well.

This might be termed a "shocking sermon" by some, but it's really not shocking at all. It's just that we're not used to hearing our salvation evaluated in this seemingly 'shocking' way. Nothing he said is heretical - even tho he may have called our culture of leading ppl to Christ heretical. But, honestly, is he wrong? Where in the Bible does it say that you are saved by praying a simple prayer to 'ask Jesus into your heart'? Nowhere! The only pre-req, as it were, is that "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved," (Rom. 10:9-10). There's no magic formula here.

The biggest issue is that we're not used to being called on to live a holy life. The most frustrating thing I've found in working with youth is that they come to Christ, have amazing experiences of the Spirit, but cant be bothered to read their Bibles or pray. It's actually really heartbreaking. No wonder both Pauls (Washer and the St.) admonish us to "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5)

All this to say, maybe we think the message is shocking cuz we're too comfortable with our wordly Christianity. To that I say, 'too bad for us!' We need not only to get over ourselves, but completely examine ourselves. Are we in the faith? Do we pursue righteousness/holiness? Do we even know what those words mean, and what pursuing them entails? If not, maybe we need to come to Jesus in FULL repentance, unlike the first time around.

Southern Baptist Blogs I Read

It may puzzle you to find that I am a fan of certain Southern Baptist bloggers. Esp since I am not, (and never will be), a Southern Baptist myself. In fact, despite being baptised and discipled in two Chinese conservative fundamental non-denominational independent churches that are very similar to the SB church, and in spite of having been on the leadership team of the Baptist Campus Ministry (also SB) at my alma mater, I actually ascribe to the tenets of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

I am, in a nutshell,
reformed:
I’m right there with Luther and the 95 theses, but not a complete 5-point Calvinist (apologies to my dear friend Rev. May, my buddies Carol and Irene, and scores of other Presbyterian friends – most from Redeemer.)
conservative: in the basic tenents of doctrine, such as the deity of Christ, His substitutionary death, the infallibility of Scripture etc., but perhaps not conservative enough in Biblical interpretation – post, pre and amillenialism are really not that important to me since I have to live in the now.
evangelical: and I’m still exploring this one. Depending on who you’re talking to, being labelled evangelical can be akin to proof of your salvation, or proof of your insanity. I havent figured out which camp I’m in yet. Either way, in my definition, it simply means I’m born-again, saved by grace alone, and place a high regard on the Word and evangelism.
charismatic: yes, I do speak in tongues. (Or, in the language of my SB brothers/sisters, I “practice PPL.”) But, overly emotionalistic Pentecostal services, legalistic interpretations of head-coverings, separate spaces for men and women, emphases on health & wealth, holy laughter (still wondering about this one), fire/brimstone, and ridiculous notions of dress code wig me out to the nth degree. (You’ll never catch me wearing a dress.)
egalitarian: which is not to say that I think men and women are interchangeable, but simply that women can and should function in all levels of leadership in the church and home. Egaliltarianism is the answer to wifely manipulation. Only wives who feel they have no voice in a relationship resort to such tactics as ‘my husband may be the head, but I’m the neck, and I can make it turn wherever I want!’ (That was from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” btw.) Does promotion of egalitarianism lead to acceptance of homosexuality? Just ask the Pentecostal denoms that have been ordaining women for over 100 yrs. Or maybe we should ask Ted Haggard. I’ll let you know.

I think I’m pretty post-modern, if I take the online quizzes seriously. My relationship with Jesus is extremely personal, even if it’s not private. (After all, I’ve been in public ministry for my whole Christian walk – coming up on 15 yrs now.) I’m logical. (Doesnt that A in college Logic count for anything??) I tend to hold up the mystical experiences against the backdrop of Scripture. But, I’m not too hardcore when it comes to the chicken and the egg – i.e. understanding something logically vs experiencing it fully and which should come first. There are some who would say that you need to understand salvation and the grace of God before you can be completely saved. I disagree. I think sometimes we experience things first and sort out the theology later. But, I’m speaking from my own experiences when I say that.

There are certain things that I’m passionate about. I’m really passionate about the plight of women and youth in the world, and in the church in particular. I’m passionate about the church discovering the power of the Holy Spirit and esp realizing that gifts like tongues and prophecy are not abnormal, freakish or otherwise scary. [In the words of Don Moen at an Integrity worship conference back in ’03, ‘we need to stamp out the weirdness in the church!’] They were a normative experience in Scripture and I believe they should be normative today. So, if you ever wanna really see me get heated, just engage me in a debate about any of the above two issues.rant.gif(Don’t you just love this cute rant smiley?) I’ve heard it all at this point. I tend to get annoyed more than upset, which is probably telling of my jaded-ness with the church. But, I love the Church, (and I’m apparently married to it, a la certain visions Jo has had of me), so I have to deal. I’ve had more than a few brothers, and a few sisters (yeesh – so much more annoying than the guys! ), try to ‘reform me’ and get me ‘back in line’ b/c of my egalitarian stance. icon_rolleyes.gif Apparently, my greatest joy should come when I truly discover that I’ve been created to be subjugated unilaterally to all men, be married to one of them so that I can have a Head, stop listening to the Holy Spirit and trade Him in for a ‘dear hubby,’ and oh yea – dont forget – have a ‘quiver-full’ of children that should be home-schooled lest they become brainwashed by the evil world. eyebrow.gif [No offense to the women who’ve done these very things. That was your choice. “I disapprove of what you [choose], but I will defend to the death your right to [choose] it,” and all that.]

Ironically, I wouldnt mind home-schooling… But, that’s probably b/c I’m a NYC public school teacher and I see how much the schools at large suck. (Mine doesnt, tho! It’s da bomb.) But, I digress. whistle.gif

So, why do I read the blogs of those in a denom I wouldnt join if it were the last one on earth? (No offense to my SB friends – and I have many!) Probably b/c I find that we’re on the same page more often than not. They may not be hard-core egals like me, but neither are they scary and extreme in their interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12. So, we can meet in the middle. And I love ppl who can constructively criticize their own denoms, and yet still love, pray and be faithful to them. So, in case you have some time, check out these bloggers:
Nathan Finn, Michael Spenser, Wade Burleson, & Marty Duren
And I am subscribed to J. Lee Grady’s column Fire in My Bones, which comes directly to my email. He’s a charismatic SB, so it’s always fascinating to hear his take on the current SB debates about women and tongues.

Ok, so I’ve got the SB bloggers!
And just to throw them into the mix, my favorite egalitarian ones are
CBE Scroll
and Rebecca Groothuis.
Now, to find the charismatic ones!
icon_wink.gif

Southern Baptists and Tongues: Biblically Based or Tradition Driven?

pentecostIn the last year many Southern Baptist entities have made statements that condemn the practice of speaking in tongues among those they appoint and employ and strongly discourage those in association with them from the practice. My question is simply, “Why do they condemn a practice that the first Christians, including the writers of the Scriptures found vital to daily Christian life? Many of them will say that these practices ceased at the close of the New Testament, but how do they substantiate this claim? What Bible passages hold water with this belief?

There are continual accounts of Christians throughout the centuries who have practiced speaking in tongues. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Southern Baptist Convention may be stepping into territory that will only cause further dissention and possibly bring them into a place of picking Scriptures they will keep and which they will reject. Are Southern Baptists truly Biblically-based as they claim or has age old tradition taken hold in such a way that they reject a practice that the very writers of the Bible held so dear.

I applaud the boldness of Dr. Jerry Rankin, President of the International Mission Board for saying that he has had a private prayer language for many years. Making it clear that by the actions of the IMB Board of Trustees he is unequivocally disqualified for consideration for appointment to serve as a missionary for the organization that he has lead so wonderfully for many years. What is the big idea? Why not allow this to be a private decision for each believer?

I also applaud the boldness of the Rev. Dwight McKissic, Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX for referring to his practice of tongues in a chapel address at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in August of this year. His statements during that address caused such a stir that the message was removed from the archives of the Seminary’s website. Why is such censorship placed upon a man of God speaking from the Word of God? The Seminary said that they do not support his statements about tongues. Why are they so vehemently opposed to a practice that multiplied millions around the world hold dear?

For many years I felt as though there were none within the SBC that held a Biblical perspective on speaking in tongues, I am delighted to say that there are those in the SBC and they are beginning to speak out! May the masses begin to identify themselves and stand up for the truth of Scripture and reject the traditions of man, on matter how long they have stood.

Respectfully,

Nathan (http://nathanfinn.blogspot.com/) <– I think that’s the guy… O___O