Sunday, September 26, 2010

Being "Spirit-Led"

Can being "Spirit-Led" be learned behavior? If one where truly led by the Spirit, wouldn't it automatically be spontaneous, authentic, and unique to the individual?

I was raised in a Baptist environment where "charismatic" was almost a bad word. Upon arrival in South Florida, we begrudgingly became a part of the Southern Baptist Denomination, where "charismatic" was an unspoken bad word.

When I read through the Baptist Faith and Message, I definitely noticed the ill-will that it held toward charismatics. I noticed this same ill-will as I read through the commentary in my John Macarthur Study Bible.

As much as I had no background involving the charismatic lifestyle/worship (whatever you want to call it), I found some of these arguments against it to be weak and reeking of personal bias.

Personally, I'd give someone the benefit of the doubt when they claim to be led by the Spirit - to a point. I'd also say that I'm probably skeptical of these people as well. But this is the conundrum in which I find myself - I'm skeptical, but desiring my skepticism to be discounted.

From personal experience, I've come to believe that in many instances, this Spirit-Led behavior is learned from others, rather than spontaneously given from within. This is unfortunate.

We had a guy going to our church a few years back that would stand in the front row with his arms raised, or sometimes lay flat down on the ground (face down) during worship. Some others in the church complained about his "behavior" citing the usual "Baptist/Biblical" excuse of his behavior being distracting from worship. I disagreed with this criticism, and expressed that his behavior was actually uplifting for me and aided in my worship experience. I wished that I could be the one dancing, raising my hands, and laying on the ground - but the truth is that the Spirit wasn't leading me to do it.

I sometimes look around at the crowd at our Mega-church and wish that the crowd were more into it. I've been to churches where the crowd seems to be totally disassociated with the worship to which they're being led. It makes me sad. Its true that most people find it easier to worship at a sporting event or a concert than they do at church - a depressing fact.

On the other hand, I've been to churches where the congregation is totally into the worship experience. I give them the benefit of the doubt that the experience of most of the individuals is sincere and authentic, but sometimes I wonder. Is it sincere, authentic, and spontaneous, or is it really just learned behavior from those around them? This possibility (and a strong one I suspect) makes me sad as well.

We went to a church a couple years ago where the pastor "prodded" the people into speaking in tongues, and told them what to say if they faltered. This seemed totally inauthentic to me and it was really a downer.

We also went to another church where one of the singers pulled out a Bible and spit out lyrics on the fly right out of the Bible. At the time, I found this practice awe-inspiring, but I've since learned that this is also a trained behavior/skill called prophetic singing. How exactly can you train someone to "sing prophetically"?

This is exactly what I'm struggling with. I want to believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in our churches, our lives, our worship, etc. I don't want to be a Baptist Kill-Joy. As Mark Driscoll puts it, I'd at least like to be a Charismatic with a Seat Belt. But I really struggle with people who are not able to just be themselves. This goes for people on both sides of the fence really. One of the joys that I find in Jesus is the freedom to just be myself, regardless of what anyone else may think of me. This is a joy and a freedom that many Christ Followers miss out on.

When I was a teenager, I went on an outing with the youth group from my church. When the invitation was given at the end of the event, every single youth from our group went forward to answer the call to the invitation. I was left sitting alone with our group leader, Sandy Jelsomino. She leaned over and asked me if I was okay, if I wanted to respond to the invitation. I told her that I kind of did, but I was turned off by the fact that most of my school-mates weren't going forward because of a change of heart, but rather because that was the thing that was expected of them.

At the age of 12 or 13, I'd already declared myself as the anti-hero that I still am today, 20 years later. I refuse to toe the line when it comes to my relationship with God. I'm going to do what comes naturally to me, while still stretching my comfort zone and being open to being led by God's Spirit. I don't want to be a stodgy prude, but neither do I want to be an inauthentic "Spirit-Led" person who's simply going through the motions for which they've been trained.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Thanks to the Urban Dictionary......


Christianese is the language spoken by Christians. It makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with biblical texts, but earns you major points in the eyes of other Christians, because it means your words are holy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Darrin Patrick

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Different Perspective

I was recently given two job offers. While, in the past, I might have jumped at either one of them, this time I was forced to look at them from a new perspective.

As a part of the back-to-school / having kids plan, I am currently waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory while my wife stays home with our two infants.

Generally, I am a morning person, and would prefer to work 7-3 if at all possible. But given the current circumstances, the gig waiting tables is actually quite agreeable. When given a "day" shift, I don't go in until almost noon, which is very helpful for my wife as she isn't left to fend for herself during the morning hours.

While at first my body was screaming "it's past our bedtime!!" every time I had to work late, after five months, I've finally gotten used to the routine of staying up late and even sleeping in a little.

My wife and I have always had separate health insurance plans because that was the least expensive option - let each of our employers subsidize our premiums individually. But now, as the sole earner for a family of four, health insurance premiums and the coverage they provide were a big factor in the decision making process. The difference between $300 a month and $800 a month is a big deal in our current budget.

Lastly, and perhaps the most important factor, was "Time Away from Home". My last job expected me to work six days a week and pull as many as 10 hours a day. Imagine my appreciation of a workplace (the restaurant) that doesn't want me to work more than 40 hours a week. Not to mention the complete absence of a commute. In my book, commute time counts as "time away from home".

Having a desk job (and back to back pregnancies) helped me to gain weight and reach a lifetime peak of 265 lbs. Not fun. After waiting tables for five months, I've lost 30 lbs - down to 235 lbs. I used to try to go to the gym at 5:30 am but it was nearly impossible.

As much as I hated to "go back to waiting tables", these job offers have made me realize that this is actually the right place for me to be at this time. It's hard to believe. My job is totally flexible, will allow me to go back to school, will provide pretty decent benefits, time at home, exercise, etc.

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