The Loudmouth Protestant

August 2, 2008

The Trouble with Tongues

Filed under: christianity,christians,God,life,spirit — nickisym @ 11:58 am
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I have gone for a very long time without being conflicted about the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. It has long been my understanding that it is a gift bestowed upon believers by the Holy Spirit so that communication between the believer and the Spirt may take place. I know speaking in tongues to be a gift that is to be desired but not held high above all things because it is not edifying to the body inasmuch as prophecy is. I’ve understood that it’s okay if you don’t speak in tongues and you are not any less of a Christian if you don’t. But all of my certainty about what I knew of tongues was smashed when I attended a Bible Study on Thursday night. 

It was another guest facilitator–I don’t know if therein lies the problem–but said teacher kept on mentioning tongues and the importance of speaking in tongues and most in the room–except for me–was in agreeance. Occasionally she would say “If you have never spoken in tongues, come and see me after study and we will take care of that.” This was a scary statement for me because all I could think of was the moments of tarrying Baptist-style until your mouth was able to form the unintelligible words. I bristled at her words because they smacked up against what I understood. At this point, another young lady got up and shared her story of not speaking in tongues and how much it hurt her. She mentioned that  years earlier she didn’t accept an alter call because she was scared and it was at that very altar call that she believes she was to recieve the gift of speaking in tongues. Since then, she has never spoken in tongues and it hurts her badly. 

At the hearing of this I was shocked. It seemed all of a sudden that people were focusing more on the ability of doing something spiritual than resting in the God of those spiritual things and believing that He has given them everything they need. Why should you be hurt because you don’t speak in tongues? Will you take credit away from all the great things that God has done in your life because you think you lack in not being able to speak in tongues. As a response to the young woman, the teacher told her to see her after study and they would take care of her not being able to speak in tongues. Here we go again.

So I walked out of Bible Study after we finished praying and I was a tad bewildered and freaked out by what seemed like people power-tripping over the ability to speak in tongues. I didn’t want to hang around and talk to anyone lest someone find me out, lay hands on me and force me to speak in tongues. 

And here we are this morning. I’ve been reading I Corinthians and trying to re-wrap my mind around speaking in tongues. 1 Conrinthians 12:11 says “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” This is a verse I didn’t once hear the teacher mention in study. It is here where I most protest.

In a room full of impressionable people, it is never kosher to give only your natural side of the story, particuarly when we are talking about God’s word and God’s gifts. We do not preach to sound self-righteous or cause divisiveness. 

As the body of Christ,  we need to be more clear and intentional about what we preach and how so as to never sound self-righteous or self-aggrandizing. It is debates like “To Speak in Tongues or Not” that tear us apart and my only desire is that the teacher spent more time giving more scriptural background instead of pumping her fist to get everyone in the room speaking tongues–which in actuality is not a gift she can give anyways.

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November 6, 2007

Deciphering Your Love

Last Friday evening I was having a conversation with a friend. We were discussing our past love interests and how those people have somehow ingrained themselves in our memory. I shared with her that my past love has a page on MySpace and she shared that her’s has one on Facebook. We chatted about reconciling ourselves to those people and for one moment she even convinced me that it would be kosher for me to contact my past on Myspace because I never know what he might be up to and if he might need to know that someone not in his immediate circle is thinking about him.

For one moment this seemed like a fair enough plan until she shared something else with me. I told her that I wasn’t quite sure why I would contact him and what I expected to get out of it and she segued into a current situation she is in. She told me that with her current situation when she thinks of him she thinks of God. The thought of the two coincide but God plays the bigger part in the formation of the relationship. Right then and there God turned off the lights to my contacting that young man. No sooner than she said it, I realized that my need to contact him was flesh-based and not spirit-based and so God took the taste right out of my mouth. You could say that He slapped the taste out my mouth, but I loved it. I wish He would slap me in the mouth a lot more often, it would cut out the middle man in a lot of situations. And I digress…

But I thank God for stopping me from making a mistake-he always provides a way out. In the midst of my regaining consciousness he directed me to something I read in St. John of the Cross’s “Dark Night of the Soul.” In a translation by Mirabai Starr, Starr says the following about the imperfections of spiritual beginners prior to going through the dark night:

Some forge connections with people arising from sensual lust and not from purity of spirit. To test this, they should consciously recall the attraction and see if it causes remembrance and love of God to grow inside of them or instead triggers remorse of conscience. If the connection is pure, love for God deepens with the deepening of the friendship. Remembrance of God arises as often as thoughts of the friend arise. Growing inside one love means growing inside the other. The spirit of God is like this. Goodness gives way to the good, because of the harmony between them.

But when this love springs from the vice of lust, it has the contrary effect. As love for the human friend intensifies, love for the divine flows away, even from the memory. The soul who loses herself in that other affection will find her love for God growing cold–remembering one and forgetting the other–which troubles her conscience. On the other hand, as love for God increases in the soul, desire for her human friend may fade away and she can lose her taste for it. This is because the two loves could be contrary. Not only do they fail to feed one another, but the dominant one overwhelms and quenches the fire of the other, enhancing itself, as the philosophers have pointed out.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” it says in the Gospel. That is, love connected to the senses ends up in sensuality while love that blossoms in the spirit stays with spirit and grows deeper.

July 16, 2007

What a Privilege and an Honor

Filed under: God,Life By Design Empowerment Center,Paula White,spirit,worship — nickisym @ 3:31 am

Do you ever stop to think about how fortunate we are as Christians in the United States? While people in China are being persecuted to the point of death for their Christianity, we are still free to worship. We are able to congregate in public places and profess to the world our beliefs without fear of being killed.

I was reminded of the great privilege this evening when I had an opportunity to attend the opening night service for Paula White’s Life By Design Empowerment Center in New York. As I worshipped among a great number of saints of all ethnicities, I felt high on the spirit of God. The air was thick with His spirit and the worship was raw and uncensored. I experienced a refreshing and it was due in part to the diversity of the people there.

While I was imbibing of the spirit, I opened my eyes and through the blur of my tears I saw an Asian woman who was worshipping in true abandonment. At that moment, I broke down because I realized the profundity of my Christian experience. I could no longer take for granted what some people die for–the opportunity to freely worship God. And from there I was able to “go in” deeper than I had ever because another level of my mere Christianity was stripped away. The room swelled and it felt like a little piece of heaven.

It’s moments like that when I know without a doubt that God is real. It is only God that could bring people from all walks of life together and have them worship Him in spirit and in truth.

What an awesome privilege…

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