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  1. MadHermit

    You should strive to speak in tongues.

    Adstar: "No one can strive to have any of the gifts of the Spirit." Duh, actually read 1 Cor 12:31 and 14:1. In both texts Paul commands us to "strive for spiritual gifts." The real question is how to strive. Here are 5 tips: (1) First, begin by longing to speak in tongues in obedience to God's command and Paul's example. (2) Then seek the Giver, not the gift. If you continue to seek the gift, you are in danger of turning tongues into a spiritual fetish. Above all, don't attend a charismatic church where you are encouraged, "Just speak it out and fluency in tongues will follow!" This is a recipe for speaking in the flesh. Remember, you need to honor the Spirit's timing. The Holy Spirit does not jump just because you crack your whip! (3) The best way is to allow yourself to get lost in praise until your words seem inadequate to express the awe and joy you feel as you feast on the Spirit's presence. Then out of the sublime frustration of that feeling of inadequacy, authentic tongues will overwhelm you. You will feel like a chosen divine instrument under the Spirit's control. (4) If you can wonder later whether what you just experienced was real, assume that you probably did not experience the real thing. The real thing is so wonderful, so powerful that it is beyond doubting and indeed is self-authenticating. (5) Finally, look for the "fruits of the Spirit" and other spiritual gifts and abilities that are bestowed on you, together with the gift of tongues. In m my case, I received the gift of "The word of knowledge" and my academic performance was suddenly spectacularly improved. But my fellow believer, Mark, received the gift of healing after the gift of tongues and healing testimonies from his ministry are legendary around here.
  2. MadHermit

    What is your opinion on young earth creationism

    As a teenager in my Pentecostal church, there was only one man who took a personal interest in my spiritual growth, Gordon Edmonds. One of his major themes in our discussion was the need to read challenging books on spiritual issues. His most memorable comment to me was: "Sometimes I ask myself if you have to be stupid to be a Christian. If may not be essential, but sometimes I think it sure helps!" His w ords come to mind when I consider how YE creationsists seem so poorly read and prone to pontificate from ignorance. God is grieved when by an intellectual sloth that uses straw man positions of naïve Christian apologists to avoid the hard work of critical engagement with secular experts on evolution and paleontology. Every honest Christian should google Kenneth Miller for his clear and compelling defenses of conventional evolutionary theory. But I know they won't because the truth makes them too uncomfortable and they much prefer dangerously simplistic answsers to bafflingly complex questions.
  3. MadHermit

    The Domino Theory of Scripture

    As a young man, I once travelled across eastern Canada on a bus of young witnesses for Youth with a Mission. The bus was driven by the founder of YWAM, Loren Cunningham. Loren shared with us the leaps of faith and resulting miracles he experienced as he trusted God to use him to reach the lost, many of whom had never heard of Jesus. In awe of his testimonies, I asked Loren if there was a special secret to his success. His answer surprised me. He said, "My spiritual breakthrough came only after I was intellectually honest enough to become an atheist." In other words, his spiritual quest reaquired ruthless intellectual honesty as he confronted his doubts and the hard questions for apologetics. The Domino theory of Scripture is not just intellectually misguided; it is frankly evil. That is because it makes one's faith vulnerable to perceived errors in the Bible and, in so doing, makes the seeker intellectually rigid and incapable of honest and open inquiry. It is far better to endure the pain of discomfort created by loose end's in one's theology than to prematurely and dishonestly close the inner debate by taking a stand on Scripture which one knows is not yet intellectually justified.
  4. A PASTOR'S FIRST SUNDAY IN THE PULPIT (3) I have never slept through my alarm clock in my life--except once. It was my first Sunday as pastor of my new UMC church in East Otto, NY and I was eager to make a good first impression. Suddenly there was a loud bang on the parsonage door and my church secretary told me the congregation was concerned by my failure to appear! Fortunately, the parsonage was next door to the church. Yes, I had slept through my alarm. I never dressed so fast in my life. I raced unshaven to the pulpit and the congregation howled with laughter. In retrospect, I think my faux pas actually helped endear me to that congregation by lightening up the mood and unwittingly creating the impression that I was a bit of a comedian. Certainly my sermon jokes worked better than expected after that. Sheesh! God must have a sense of humor. (4) A fellow pastor friend had a different kind of embarrassing experience in his first Sunday in the pulpit of a Reformed church. The pulpit was elevated in nosebleed country, but my colleague was accustomed to a flat platform with a pulpit where he could walk around for dramatic effect. So he climbed the stairs to this new pulpit and began to preach. But this mobile new pastor briefly forgot his new situation and stepped back, falling rear end over tea kettle down the pulpit stairs! He moaned and congregation gasped in concern, but he was a young pastor and his pride was more wounded than his bones. So he struggled back to his feet, climbed back up, and continued his sermon. That's another way to make your congregation permanently remember their new pastor's first day.
  5. (1) The pastor of my youth was a good preacher but had no sense of humor. So I was shocked one Sunday when he was preaching on John the Baptist and blurted out, "And Jordan baptized Jesus in the John." This blooper became even funnier to me when (a) he continued preaching, unaware of what he had just said and (b) the congregation (about 1,300 people) just sat there stone-faced, apparently not listening closely enough to pick up the blooper! (2) About a year later, he was preaching about David's relationship with King Saul. At one point, he declared, "And there David stood by the gate of the sanctuary, breathless and pantless." Once again, he continued preaching oblivious to what he'd just said, and once again the people just sat there stone-faced. But after a couple of minutes a guy sitting about 15 rows in front of me turned around with a wicked grin on his face. I thought to myself, "Great! At least one guy actually listens to what our pastor has said."
  6. MadHermit

    What is your opinion on young earth creationism

    Karl Barth is the most famous Protestant theologian of the 20th century and a prolific author. After a lecture, he was confronted by a Fundamentalist with this question: "Dr. Barth, was there a snake in the Garden of Eden or wasn't there?" Barth smiled and responded, "It's not important whether there was a snake there. What's important is what the snake said." A perfect answer! To me Young Earth creationism is as absurd as the claim that Satan planted dinosaur fossils to deceive people into embracing evolution. These 5 points seem relevant to the first (Priestly) creation story (Gen 1:1-2:4). (1) OT scholars agree that it is a poetic treatise that uses liturgical repetition to make it suitable for Temple worship to justify Sabbath rest. The liturgical repetition includes phrases like: "And God said...And it was so...And God saw that it was good...Evening came, morning followed, the first day (2nd, 3rd day, etc.)." So the 7 days should not be taken literally. (2) The days are not literal 24-hour days. Why not? The sun is only created on Day 4. So the day/ night distinction makes no sense for the first 3 days anyway. In the narrative God rests on the 7th day, but there is no phrase, "Evening came, morning followed, the 7th day." Nor is there boundary between the 7th day and the rest of history. In other words, we are still living in the 7th day! (3) Gen 1:2-4 says, "And the wind of God moved over the face of the waters (= the vacuum of space), and God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." Ancients had no concept of the vacuum of deep space and used "waters" to refer to it. So what 1:2-3 is poetically expressing is: There was a primordial expansion force (wind) creating the space/time continuum resulting in light. (4) Also, the Genesis narrative applies the phrase, "Let the earth bring forth" vegetation, sea life, and animal life, but it does not say how the earth brought this life forth. Ancient Israel was not ready to hear that God used evolution to bring it forth. Again, truth disguised by poetic mythological expression. (5) The New Jerusalem Bible is renowned for its sensitivity to the original Hebrew nuance. Here is its translation of Proverbs 8:30-31: "I [Wisdom] was beside the Master Craftsman, delighting Him day after day, ever at play in His presence, at play everywhere on the Earth." Lady Wisdom speaks here as if She is a distinct personality from God. But this is just another way of saying that God created Mother Nature with all her creative potential and allowed Her to unfold His creation project. This concept of creation as divine play is quite compatible with experimentation with life forms, mass extinctions, and evolutionary dead ends. No, evolution is not envisaged here, but the principle ariiculated is poetically compatible with evolution.
  7. MadHermit

    The New Spirituality: Key Prayer Method Terms

    (2) THE SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR Yown's list includes this role for which you can get a Masters degree at some Catholic seminaries. My cousin Lloyd was a conventional evangelical and looked at Catholics with the typical evangelical jaundiced eye. Then, when his marriage seemed on the rocks and he had tried counseling and other remedies, he finally connected with a Catholic spiritual director. He glowingly told me that those encounters blessed him and saved his marriage! One of the most helpful and beloved evangelical authors is Philip Yancey. Philip met celebrated Catholic spiritual director, Brennan Manning and confessed and confided in him that, despite all the accolades for his books, he himself had never had a convincing experience of God's presence. Brennan replied, :"Go on one of my silent prayer retreats and I guarantee you that you will experience God's presence convincingly. Yancey took up the challenge and reported that, under Brennan's skillful leadership, he marvelously did experience God's presence on that retreat. Spiritual directors are trained in skilled listening, practical psychology, Scripture, and the best of ancient contemplative traditions ranging from the Desert Fathers to the spiritual insights of monastic orders. They recognize that most professing Christians reduce prayer to petitions, praise, and thanksgiving, but have no clue as to how to listen for the guiding voice of God. God intends prayer to be a 2-way conversation. Prayerful listening requires practice and great self-discipline and a good Catholic prayer retreat with a Spiritual Director is designed to develop these holy habits.
  8. MadHermit

    Jeff Horn's victory over Manny Pacquiao..

    Sadly, Crawford, destroyed Horn tonight and took his crown.
  9. (1) Like other terms in Yown's New Spirituality List, the description of "Palms Up, Palms Down" is distorted. In fact, it is an old Quaker prayer practice designated to help prayer warriors with 2 problems that hamper petitionary prayer: Jesus insists that we pray with faith, but most of us fear that we lack the requisite faith to secure an answer to certain difficult situations. So we unconsciously just try to believe. But the very concept of "trying" presupposes doubt and probable failure and the Palms Up, Palms Down technique is an often effective way to bypass this problem. When we petition God, we often find ourselves impaled on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, we tend to launch into our petitions with no sense of whether what we are asking for is God's will. On the other hand, when we hedge our bets by inserting "Lord, if it be your will," we unwittingly unleash the doubt about the legitimacy and effectiveness of our petitions that was lurking just under the surface of our minds. The Palms Up, Palms Down method can rescue us from these 2 problems. (a) In the Palms Down phase of meditation, we hold are palms up at our sides and meditate on the thought that we are turning the needs in question over to God so that He can take charge of this situation in the life of the troubled soul. We are not telling God what to do, but rather are trusting that the need in question is now the object of God's loving and active attention. We then very slowly rotate our hands in a large semi-circle until they arrive palms down on our knees. This method helps us to replace anxiety-provoking overthinking with simple childlike trust that Father knows best. We take deep satisfaction in the realization that we have placed the needy soul in the palm of God's hands. We allow a few minutes to complete this phase. (b) In the Palms Up phase, we place our hands palms up on our knees and meditate on the thought that we are now receiving by faith all the grace, power, and guidance that we will need to be part of the solution to the other person's needs, recognizing that effective prayer often requires perseverance and God often expect us to be part of the answer to the needs in question. For years, I have attended a small weekly prayer group, at which we often practice the Palms Down, Palms Up method. It creates a powerful sense of the Spirit's active presence and energizes our petitions when we shift to specific requests of the Lord. The method helps us realize that God will respond to the true need behind our requests, if not to the literal requests. It has helped us receive the faith needed to facilitate several miracles and other marvelous answers to prayer.
  10. Yowm, y9u have provided an excellent and provocative list of terms. Some are innocuous. Others point to a deeper level of prayer and Christian spirituality. Still, others are spiritually ambiguous; and finally others reflect New Age spirituality in a spiritually dangerous sense. My only quibble is that many of the terms can most profitably be discussed in separate threads. Let me say this about the longstanding Christian bestseller "Jesus Calling." If you can judge a work by its fruits, this book is one of the most helpful. True, the words from the risen Lord are just the author's creations, but many of some have had a life-changing impact of the reader beyond that achieved by most other Christian books. Instead of worrying about channeling claims, these words should be assessed on the basis of their compatibility with biblical teaching; and from that perspective most of them are very beneficial in a practical way. I have an elderly Jewish lady friend who helped give Dick Clark of "American Bandstand" fame his start and was a booking agent for many oldtime rock stars. No witnessing could reach her until she read the daily readings of "Jesus Calling" and then read the readings that most blessed to us at group card games and social gatherings. The net result was that she started attending an evangelical church for the first time in her life.
  11. MadHermit

    The Humanist Manifesto I ...debunked

    "And the wind of God moved over the face of the waters, and God said, "Let there be light; and there was light (Gen 1:2-3)." Ancients had no concept of the vacuum of deep space. Their term for this realm was "waters." So 1:2-3 is a poetic way of saying, "There was a great expanding force in deep space resulting in light." In effect, then, 1:2 is compatible with the Big Bang that modern cosmologists postulate. More of this line of interpretation to follow.