An Overcritical Society

While I was painting my new digs yesterday, I was listening to an audiobook called Love Does, narrated by the author himself, Bob Goff. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. Whenever I see a new Christian book get a lot of attention and it’s written by an author I’ve never heard of, I fear that it might be off in some serious doctrinal sense or something. But I needed an audiobook to listen to and this one had caught my eye a few times.

By the end of the first chapter, I was in awe. By the end of the second I was cracking up. Three hours later I had experienced every emotion under the sun. This guy is clearly the most interesting man in the world and has so many crazy stories that I am just awestruck. It is by far the most interesting, hilarious, and enjoyable Christian book I have ever read.

It’s full of stories that all find a strange way of relating back to God. And for that reason, there are a few (and I mean very few) critics of this book. From what I can tell, nearly everyone love is. But I was checking it out on Amazon today when I saw that someone gave it a one star review. Feeling anger come over me (as I hate one star reviews on anything), I clicked on it to see what could possibly make someone give this book one star.

And as usual, the one star review was a bunch of crap. They took things too seriously and saw the enjoyable jokes and stories as sin and stupidity.

This picture isn't me dissing XKCD. I think that site is typically hilarious :D

Let me just tell you that when you live a life of criticism like this, you become bitter and difficult to be around. No one likes it when someone’s there to rip everything a part. I know this because I’ve been that guy plenty of times.

  • “Yeah, that album is their worst.”
  • “Yeah, that movie was awful. I know you liked it but…”
  • “Yeah, he’s okay at guitar but…”
  • “Yeah, but etc…”

Look, we all have preferences and thoughts about things, but if you find yourself consistently leaving negative comments on every YouTube video, book and music album that comes out, there’s actually probably something wrong with you—not with the things you’re rating.

  • That’s why people who talk too much trash on online video games now have to pay money at times to play online games.
  • That’s why YouTube is trying to figure out how to stop people from leaving awful comments on videos and is thinking of displaying your actual name so you can’t hide behind the internet.

I had an ex who once told me that there was absolutely nothing words could do to hurt anyone. All they are, are in fact, words. It was as though we were back on the playground singing, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” But we all know that’s not true. I’ve never been in more pain from the things people have said to me than the physical pain I’ve experienced.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:6-12)

I know: the irony (and perhaps hypocrisy) is that I’m criticizing critics. But my goodness—grow up! You live in a world full of creativity and there is no need to be so overcritical about every little thing, ESPECIALLY in the church!

  • You know why so many pastors burn out? Because for some reason, people think that their pastor needs to know everything they don’t like about what they do or say.
  • You know why worship leaders go to another church? Because for some reason, we give the worship band one star because she’s flat, he hit a wrong note, that beat was lame, and the intro was just a bit too loud.
  • You know why that new person left? Because for some reason, she saw more love at the bar with her drunk buddies than she saw in the pew next to her.

Despite our call from Jesus not to judge one another, we consistently whack people in the face with the 2×4’s sticking out of our eyes.

Over the past two months or so, I’ve been practicing holding my tongue more than I ever have in my life. Yes, things still slip out here and there, but I’ve found that when I just shut up about things that annoy me, I don’t care much about it. I don’t give it room to fester in conversation—I don’t give it the ability to overtake my thoughts.

I can feel an incredible change in my life because of it.

Alright, there’s my thoughts for the day. If you leave a nasty comment on this blog post or leave one star, you’ve obviously missed the point.

More thoughts on this post? Read my post All Christians are Called to Missions, listen to my message Forgiveness under the Luke series on the 1208 iPhone app, or read Greg Boyd’s book Repenting of Religion.


Apollos: Speaking in Tongues

Before you jump into this study, I suggest you first take a listen to Cory Asbury’s song Always Faithful (Prophetic Song) on his album Let Me See Your Eyes. If you have Spotify, you can listen to it here. If you do not, there is always buy it on Amazon (the entire album is currently $5 there and well worth the investment!) or on  iTunes.

You’ll hear tongues sang throughout this song. Take some time to reflect and meditate on God as the song goes on. Perhaps take some communion as we did while at Apollos we listened.

When you’re done, you can then move onto the study. I have no MP3 for you this week, but the PDF has tons of information on it. Download the high quality PDF here or the reduced quality PDF here.

Tongues has always been confusing to the majority of Christians. See if our study clears it up for you at all and ask God to move in this spiritual gift to learn more yourself from the greatest teacher you could have.

Huge credit to Dr. Ken Brewer on this session of Apollos. He’s been a great mentor to me and a lot of this particular study came right out of my notebook from his class on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Also, new class starts next month. Get there in person if you really want to advance your learning:

Doing Christian Things

So here’s a tricky question: are there times where we do Christian things that we don’t need to do or even shouldn’t do?

Take 1 Corinthians 14 for example. All of the people in this church are speaking in tongues all the time—in fact, they’re doing it too much!

Weird, right? I mean, tongues is a language inspired by the Holy Spirit. Without Him you can’t learn the language, so if this spiritual gift comes from the Spirit, how could we possibly abuse it? It has to be good right?

Yes, of course it’s good. But, the thing with tongues is that unless someone is inspired by the Spirit to translate the tongue someone is sharing, no one understands it—neither the people listening to it or the person speaking it!

And that’s exactly Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 14. He’s not against tongues by any means and he speaks in the language all the time! He is, however, against the way the Corinthian church has been using tongues. It appears that they’re using it so much that one person will speak in tongues, and then another, and then another, and then another, and so on and so forth. They speak in tongues so much that they miss the mark.

Imagine it: someone gets on stage and speaks in a language that no one knows and no one translates it. After they get off the stage, another person comes up and does the same. This goes on forever, but no one stops it because it seems like the right Christian thing to do even though it’s not affecting anyone.

Is this an example of doing something Christian when we don’t have to?

According to Paul it is. He’s glad they’re practicing the gift of tongues, but he tells this church to do things decently and in order and gives them a structure to try to follow in their services.

But are there ever Christian things that we do that we shouldn’t do? I mean, an over usage of tongues in a church service is one thing, but it’s not necessarily something we should not do. Are there Christian things we actually should not do?

I would say on average, probably not. However, I was a bit caught off guard in Acts 16:6-7 this morning. In these verses, we see that the Holy Spirit forbid Paul from evangelizing in certain areas.

Weird, right? I mean, of all the things God would tell you not to do, why evangelism?

I imagine it had something to do with timing. Perhaps God wanted to wait before sending them into these areas. It’s not as though he didn’t want to minister to these people. So instead God led them to Macedonia via a vision—a place where God was ready for evangelism to happen.

Now again, I don’t believe this is the norm and I’m afraid just by offering this example that I’ve given you an excuse to not do ministry. My point is to be listening to the Spirit so intently that you don’t miss the vision of the place He calls you to and also so that you know if He—for some reason—forbids you from doing something that makes perfect Christian sense.

We need to pray for the intimacy and discernment of the Spirit of Jesus, otherwise we will find ourselves stuck in Christian ruts. But as far as this whole evangelism thing goes, you should go out and do it. Trust me, I don’t think we’re in much danger here in America of doing too much evangelism.

On top of that, Paul’s areas in his time were much different than the areas in our time. I think we’re mostly safe to do evangelism throughout America. It’s not as though I was in danger when I prayed for a homeless teenager yesterday.

But if you really feel God tell you otherwise, (which again, is unlikely) then listen.

Don’t take this post out of context and go read 1 Corinthians 14 and Acts 16 for yourself to truly comprehend what I’m saying here.

Speaking in Tongues

I’ve heard testimonies of tongues from trusted friends who speak in tongues. I’ve also heard the language spoken in church and sung in songs, and even read a book on the subject, but in the end the whole thing is mostly just confusing for those of us who have yet to receive the gift. After all, when it comes to miracles you can see a healing and attest to a prophecy, but tongues? Now that just takes faith.

I mean, how do you know that the gibberish coming out of someone’s mouth is actually the “tongues of angels” and not… well, gibberish? But then again, tongues is more or less gibberish even to the person who’s speaking them as stated in 1 Corinthians 14:2.

For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.

This is part of the reason why one of my teachers thought that tongues was a great entrance gift into the supernatural—you had to receive it with faith. If you want to work in the supernatural, faith is obviously going to be a big part of it. And what better gift to get you started off than expelling some random language out of your mouth that you don’t even understand!

Now if you’re reading this post to figure out how to speak in tongues, I’m sorry, but I don’t have much to say. All I really know is that you can ask God to give you the gift, or have someone pray over you that you might receive it.

I myself still wait for the Spirit to fall on me with this anointing so there’s not a whole lot I can say to you. I’ve heard many stories of people being baptized in the Spirit and how they immediately began to speak in tongues, and I’ve also heard stories of people who it randomly just happened to. In fact, the whole reason I started this post is to share with you a story like that. Frank Bartleman’s testimony of when he began to speak in tongues gives me hope for the future and even an idea as to what it will be like:

On the afternoon of August 16, at Eighth and Maple, the Spirit manifested Himself through me in tongues. There were seven of us present at the time. It was a weekday. After a time of testimony and praise, with everything quiet, I was sfotly walking the floor, praising God in my spirit. All at once I seemed to hear in my soul (not with my natural ears), a rich voice speaking in a language I did not know. I have later heard something similar to it in India. It seemed to envelop and fully satisfy the pent-up praises in my being.

In a few moments I found myself, seemingly without volition on my part, enunciating the same sounds with my own vocal organs. It was an exact continuation of the same expression that I had heard in my soul a few moments before. It seemed a perfect language. I was almost like an outside listener. I was fully yielded to God and simply carried by His will, as on a divine stream. I could have hindered the expression but would not have done so for worlds. A heaven of conscious bliss accompanied it. It must be experienced to be appreciated. There was no effort made to speak on my part and not the least possible struggle. The experience was most sacred, the Holy Spirit playing on my vocal chords, as on an Aeolian harp. The whole utterance was complete surprise to me. I had never really been solicitous to speak in tongues. Because I could not understand it with my natural mind, I had rather feared it. (76)

He had more to say on this topic as well, but for now I will share with you one more paragraph:

God deals with no two individuals alike. I was not really seeking the baptism when I got it. And in fact, I never actually sought it as a definite experience. I wanted to be yielded fully to God, but beyond that I had no real definite expectation or desire. I wanted more of Him, that was all. (78)

Again, if you’re interested in having this gift, ask God for it and wait for it in faith. It may show up instantly or it may take some time. And if you want to read another awesome story about tongues, check out this post I made awhile back.

Liardon, Roberts, and Frank Bartleman. Frank Bartleman’s Azusa Street: Includes Feature Articles from The Apostolic Faith Newspaper. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2006. Print.

Mute Button

I want to have such the same kind of certainty as to when God is talking through me as Ezekiel had:

“Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them, for they are a rebellious house.

“But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD ‘ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 3:26-27

Talk about giving it all to God. Ezekiel was so possessed by God that his own voice was not even his own. God made sure that Ezekiel said the right things, because when Ezekiel spoke, it was really God speaking. I want to speak God’s word in the same way. I want to know what I’m saying is from the Lord.

Speaking Life (Video)

This video is related to James 3:6-10.
Also, you can download the backing track in the video here.