Monday, July 13, 2009

I utterly detest Legalism

And that's an understatement. The thing is, when I see people in it now, I get checked by the Holy Spirit not to judge, because well, I've been there.

When people preach grace, people assume that it means no change in life. We just abuse the grace and live the way we want. Well sometimes, I can see how many people would think that. People do it all the time.

"I'm under grace!!"...etc..and use it as an excuse to live a life contrary to what they profess. Like Paul said, "Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Certainly not!"

But then there is the other side where someone is so determined to live a life of holiness or life pleasing to God, that they take it to another level and their works or rules become their basis for their right standing with God. Forgetting the grace of God and that the only thing that makes you in right standing with God is faith in Christ and what he did.

Is the life of the christian supposed to change? Certainly. Are we supposed to bear fruit? Yes. But does not mean that you are so piously aware of your own holiness that you are doing everything IN YOUR POWER to become more mature in Christ.

I've been in works driven environments my whole life and you were never doing enough. At least according to the church's standards. Back in the day, it was all about doing, doing, doing. I never heard preaching on the awesome grace of God which IS the very core of the gospel and what Christ did.

My mindset was of course God is happier with someone who prays 6 hours rather than someone who prays 3. This drove me to the legalism.

Again this is not an excuse to live like a heathen...if anything, the true believer when met with the awesome grace of God will naturally want to change their life (by the power of God), so the fruit will be there.

If you feel like you're overburdened by so much doing in trying to gain so called "cool points" with God, you may want to take a step back and read through Galations again. I say this a lot and I got it from Paul Washer, but it's not so much about DOING, but it's about BEING.

It seems like the message of grace is so foreign to people, that when they hear it, it's so radical and different that they rail against it. Grace is preached one very now and then, but the actions say completely different things.

People might also ask, how can you preach on grace all the time? How could you not? It's the core of the gospel, and the only thing that keeps me going everyday in this walk is knowing that God loves me JUST BECAUSE. He saved me JUST BECAUSE. I didn't do anything to earn it, and I can't do anything to keep it. Read Romans 9.

Please don't fall into the trap of legalism and trying to earn or keep your salvation on your own power and by your works. The works that you do are only a result of your faith and if you feel like you're doing them out of guilt imposed on you by someone else, or guilt imposed on yourself, pray that God would open your eyes and save you from this trap.

I had that mindset for 10 years with two different places.

Just random thoughts...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Damage "The Voice" can do to you

Blessings and greetings from South Korea!! I'm in a break between teaching classes and thought this post from "Biblical Christianity" to be sobering, yet sad at the same time because I know i was once there and there are many other people out there, that are too.


I didn't want to post a comment on TeamPyro, but I had to tell you "thank you" for your work. This post today regarding mystical spirituality hits me very hard. I also loved your answer to the question: "How were you called into the ministry?"

My ministerial call resulted from years of back-and-forth spirituality in an Assemblies of God church. Having a strong desire to please the Lord but very little doctrinal foundation, I once "was impressed" that I should go into ministry in spite of the fact that I was shy, emotionally immature, highly artistic and analytical, and had very little skill with language in general. Above all, I was 17 and demonstrated very few of the Biblical qualifications.

Since I heard "the voice", no one - including my parents, who understood my temperament and knew too well my weaknesses - had any tool in their toolbox to convince me to think it over. How could I disobey "God's" voice?

I ditched my plans for engineering, art, and architecture, and went into youth ministry. My pastoral degree is from a Church of God (Cleveland TN) school, where not once was I required to study Greek or Hebrew. I graduated with all sorts of emotional and spiritual conflicts and a very superficial faith. But what could I do? I heard "the voice."

After ten years, ending up moderately successful numbers-wise, it hit me square in the face during a conference on the prophetic movement of which our church was part: Either the Bible is true, or these guys are right; but it can't be both ways.

I began listening to John McArthur (I had read a few of his books) and studying like crazy. A sickening realization occurred to me: I had no business, Biblically, being in the ministry. With a mortgage, a wife, two children (and a third one due any day), I quit my position without delay.

For two years we've been rebuilding our lives. For the duration of that time I have been reading your blog, and those of Cent and Phil. I now am a member of a small reformed church, and have just begun teaching a Sunday School class on evangelism after several years hiatus. With tears as I write this, I am thankful every day that the Lord had mercy on me to open my eyes to the frightful thing I was doing against his clear Word. I remember realizing how easily someone with basic doctrinal foundations could have shown me why I was not (yet, at the very least) qualified to be an elder. In a church of 2,000 charismatics, no one ever thought to evaluate me on that basis.

It is frustrating to read people's defense of this position, but I want to thank you for your faithfulness in exposing the dangers of it. After several years of discipline at the merciful hands of our Father, I can say I wish someone had told me. However, God has used it for His purposes - but I had to say "thank you" to you as a man whom God has used to encourage me, train me, and educate me on what a man skilled in the scriptures should look like.

Thank you.

In Christ,

Link to post and comments can be found here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

No fear

So today I said goodbye to my church family here in Detroit. I got sooo many hugs but it was expected. My pastor prayed over me and I received some encouraging words from him and many others. I'm sad I won't be here for Resurrection Sunday next week (I leave Saturday).

Among the many things that my pastor said was that God is with me wherever I go. He told me to read Joshua 1:4-9 and Joshua had just received a word from God to go take the land that they are to possess after Moses had died. It was something so simple, yet something I had forgotten lately.

I''m prepared to go on this journey, but knowing that God is with me. It's about who you are and not what you do. Who you are will determine what you do. I would get down on myself at times because I felt like I wasn't doing enough for God.

But it's not about busy busy busy busy for Christ. You will do good works, but it's about being conformed to the image of Christ.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Churchtalk...a second language

Picked this up from Internet Monk:

I am bilingual! Pretty cool eh? Now I’m not talking about the twenty weeks I spent learning French back in high school, or the smattering of Spanish I picked up when in Mexico for a week this Spring. I’m not counting the few sentences of Polish I picked up from a workstudy student or the nifty Latin phrases I gleaned from watching Robin Hood on PBS.

No, the “second” language I’m talking about is one have I learned in twenty plus years of being in an evangelical Christian church. I’ve heard it called by different names, but I call it ChurchSpeak. I’ve recently been critically reviewing what I know of ChurchSpeak and have come to the conclusion that it’s not all that good and not particularly helpful. In fact, many of the terms and phrases used in ChurchSpeak may actually mislead people that hear it, and possibly distort the Gospel we are called upon to proclaim.

Now, like any language, ChurchSpeak has different dialects depending upon which church or denomination uses it. Our Charismatic brethren have a whole raft of terms and phrases that a typical Baptist churchspeaker will not use. ChurchSpeak also has different levels of biblicality. Please note that I do not consider terms and phrases that are directly biblical to be ChurchSpeak, even if they are misused or misunderstood. Examples of these would be “saved”, “born again”, “sanctification”, etc. Also not included in ChurchSpeak are those words that are not directly biblical but have been part of the language of orthodox Christianity for centuries. Examples would be “trinity”, “sacrament”, “communion”, etc.

What I consider ChurchSpeak are those terms and phrases that have crept into use in evangelical churches relatively recently and have vague meanings and questionable biblical authenticity. To the unchurched, this language will have almost no meaning whatsoever.

What follows is a list of common Churchspeak phrases, their normal English translation, and their score on the Bill MacKinnon Biblicality Index (0-5, with 5 being completely biblical) and an explanatory note if necessary.


I feel led…..

Translation: “I want to”, or “I have an idea”

BI: 1

Note: The reason for this particular phrase has to do with the idea that whatever we do should be for God, and not something we thought up on our own. It places God’s stamp of approval on the subject in question and therefore is beyond dispute or criticism.


God has laid something on my heart..

Translation: “I’ve thought of something.”

BI: 1

Note: See note for #1. Very similar.


Let go and let God.

Translation: “Don’t worry”

BI: 2

Note: Although “Don’t worry” certainly is biblical, the phrase is so trite and churchy that the translation is not always self evident.


The Bible is God’s love letter to you.

Translation: just as it is written

BI: 1

Note: This is a pretty gross misrepresentation of Scripture, which is so much more than a “love letter” for people. Additionally, it makes God sound like a love sick teenager.


God shaped hole (as in, everyone has a God shaped hole within them).

Translation: “Every person has a yearning or desire that can only be fulfilled by God.”

BI: 0

Note: The bible is pretty clear that “no one seeks after God” without God first changing their hearts of stone. There are many people that are quite happy without God. Plus it just sounds silly.


Plead the blood.

Translation: I really don’t quite know. It carries the idea that you can speak certain words and ward off evil or danger, much like a cross wards off vampires.

BI: 0

Note: This one really smacks of superstition to me, besides making no sense as a sentence.


God is a gentleman.

Translation: “God won’t do anything to you without your permission”

BI: 0

Note: The bible is a pretty huge record of God doing things to people with or without their permission.


God has given me a word.

Translation: “God has dumped some knowledge directly into my head that I couldn’t possibly have gained otherwise”

BI: 4

Note: This is more of a Charismatic churchspeak phrase, but it is used in general Churchspeak, albeit infrequently. The bible does speak of a “word of knowledge”, hence the higher BI score.


Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.

Translation: “Religion is bad.”

BI: 1

Note: Sorry, but Christianity is a religion. Get over it.


I have a peace about it.

Translation: “I’m not anxious, therefore God is with me in this”

BI: 2

Note: This phrase is used quite often in reference to decision making, where “peace” is one of the criteria necessary for making a decision, based on the premise that God will remove any anxiety once you’ve reached the correct decision. The bible does talk about the “peace of God” but probably not in this sense. Using this will probably lead you into some really horrible decisions.


You have head knowledge but not heart knowledge.

Translation: “You aren’t truly committed”

BI: 1

Note: The “heart” is a biblical term, but a highly nebulous one. Any reference to “heart knowledge” is suspect since we know that knowledge is a function of our mind (ie: head).


Ask Jesus to come into your heart.

Translation: “become a Christian”

BI: 1

Note: How this ever came into practice as an evangelism tool is beyond me. The biblical command is: Believe, Repent, Confess. How that evolved into “ask Jesus into your heart” is a mystery.


Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

Translation: “Are you a Christian?”

BI: 1

Note: See note for #12. Although being a Christian certainly involves a relationship with Christ, the bible never presents it in that fashion. Plus it takes longer to say.


Get your end-times latter-rain double-portion covenant seed-faith blessing.

Translation: “send me your money, you ignorant buffoon”

BI: -5

Note: This is a dialect known as TBNSpeak. The curious thing about TBNSpeak is that you can rearrange the words in any order you like, and the meaning stays the same.

I’m sure there are many more I have left out. The point is this: We have replaced clear biblical language with vague, largely meaningless phrases that are confusing to Christians and a complete mystery to non-Christians. Many of the above phrases only make sense with an extensive explanation. Others are simply anti-biblical.

My goal is not to cast aspersions on well meaning Christians, or ridicule their attempts to share the Gospel. I simply want us to re-evaluate the words we use to accomplish that goal. The apostle Paul says that we are “ambassadors for Christ”. It behooves us to be the best ambassadors that we can. Part of being a good ambassador is using clear biblical language to share our faith.

Does that mean we are stuck using only biblical words? No, although the closer we stay to biblical words and phrases, the clearer our message will be. There is nothing wrong with presenting the Gospel in the language of our time, but Churchspeak doesn’t do that. It clouds the message at best, and gives the wrong message at worst.

Listen: Words have meaning and words matter. Sincerity is a wonderful thing, and important to God, but sincerity without knowledge or truth is a hammer without a head and a car without wheels. It just doesn’t work well. Praise God that He can take our best efforts, poor as they are, and use them. But how much more effective will we be when we join that sincerity with the truth of the Gospel as God Himself has revealed it.

Bill Mackinnon

I'm back!!

So it's been awhile and I can't explain it other than, I just haven't been writing or haven't felt like like. Simple as that. It may also have to do with a new development in my life...

I am headed to teach English in South Korea this month (hopefully)

The more detailed reasons for this and my whole progress can be found at my other blog

As for this blog, I will try to post continually as there have been subjects I have been wanting to give my thoughts but as I said above, I either don't feel like it, or something distracts my attention.

The old church situation has been getting better day by day. I think about it less and less, but it does not help when a lot of the people that I used to hang with are on facebook (and I love facebook), and they keep inviting me to the church events. Now I know how the event process works on facebook and most people usually just invite their whole friends list because it's too time consuming to go down the list invite people individually. So I'm not mad, but it doesn't help the process in trying to move on.

I only stay in contact with one person at the church consistently...and by consistently I mean once or twice a month.

My church here has been back and forth. I don't know if I said this in posts before, but I lean more towards the reformed side of the faith now. So of course not being in a reformed church, there are gonna be times when I disagree with things. The things is, I thought I could deal with those minor differences, but that is not holding true.

And people would like to say "We need unity!"..."We need to put aside our differences and unite as one body of Christ!"...and that is true...but unity without truth is pointless and unfruitful.

So yes I will delve more into that issue more, and as I said, there are a range of topics I would like to talk about. God bless.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Charles H. Sprugeon quote

“I have little confidence in those persons who speak of having received direct revelations from the Lord, as though He appeared otherwise than by and through the gospel. His Word is so full, so perfect, that for God to make any fresh revelation to you or me is quite needless. To do so would be to put a dishonor upon the perfection of that Word.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hello I'm back...Church conversation

Well I took a little break from writing. Really for no particular reason at all. But I'm back for the time being...hopefully :)

But I recently had a trip back to my alma mater (It still sounds cool being an alumni), for homecoming, and I had fun. All I basically wanted to do was see my friends since most of them are down there and many from other states were coming as well. We lost our football game and I was not pleased with that, but overall it was a great time. I praise God I had the finances to go. My contract job is now up so I'm looking for jobs again, but I may be looking out of state this time.

But anyways, the highlight of my trip came when I was able to talk with two of my brothers in Christ who still attend the church I resigned from. It was actually funny how we were able to meet.

It was a Sunday and since I wasn't going to church that day for obvious reasons, I woke up and decided to randomly take a drive to Virginia Beach to see the boardwalk. After going to college in the Hampton Roads area for five years, I had never went to VA Beach to see the boardwalk. So I get on the highway and right as I am getting off the freeway, I get pulled over for speeding. 70 in a 55...yes bad I know. But God has a purpose you see. I also have to thank God for grace because I didn't have my rental car contract with me and the officer could've clearly had the car towed.

So I get a ticket and I'm frustrated and I'm not even in the mood anymore to see the boardwalk. So I turn right back around and head back to my hotel room. So earlier in the day I tried contacting one of the brothers that also left the church to see if he wanted to go eat. He didn't answer so that's why I decided to go to VA Beach. As I'm coming out of the tunnel right before I pass the campus, he texts me back and I pull into campus. He wanted to listen to a football game so I said I would just stop by his room and hang out and talk. Well right as I am getting out of my car and walking to the dorm, here comes one of my good friends that still goes to the church. He was the one who actually brought me into the ministry. So we stop and say hi and everything and he says call him so we can go out to eat later on.

Now I had been trying to get in contact with him for awhile and couldn't get an answer so I believe this was a divine appointment by God. Even if he had to use a speeding ticket for us to actually meet up.

So after I see my friend at his dorm, he said he wasn't interested in going out to eat later so I called my other friend who I have mentioned here on this blog who also left to see if he wanted to come along. He said ok cool.

So we all meet up and I was glad to see another friend from the church along as well. We get inside to eat and after the usual how's everything talk, we get into a loooooooooong conversation about why we left, our views on scripture, and how we think many of the things practiced at the church don't line up with the scriptures. I mean we went for about 7 hours debating, discussing, sometimes getting very heated but still in love about the things we were talking about.

A pastor even came in and just happened to sit down next to us and he even got into and was agreeing with many of the things me and my friend were saying.

The main issues they had were our positions as having a reformed view and also claiming new revelation is still being given on par with scripture. That's a big no no in my book because there is nothing to test it by. We also talked about prophecy, word of knowledge, and I even told them about the things with the false prophets but ultimately it did not get through.

Eventually after 7 hours and a restaurant become empty with us the only ones in it, we eventually came to agree to disagree but still as brothers in Christ. I mean on our end we're praying that they would see the truth and just have confidence in the finished work of Christ instead of seeking after new revelations and knowledge from God, and on their side they are praying that we see that we need more than just the Word of God to live this faith. They still think we need more knowledge and the hidden things of God.

One thing that me and my friend felt awkward about was when we closed out in prayer. Me and my friend both wear glasses and one of them wanted to pray that we get better vision. No problem. The problem came when the claim it terminology came into the prayer. You know declare it and it will happen and he wanted us to say it and we would not do it. Again just another testament to why we cannot return.

But as I said before, we are still brothers in Christ and we still talk and I love that. Again I've read stories of people leaving churches and the people just outcast them but the church I left, you will never find a group of more loving people. The pastor even called me on my way down to see how I was doing and I really appreciated that. But again you can be really loving and be totally theologically wrong.

So I'm back in Michigan planning my next steps in life, but knowing that God will probably derail those plans :)

God bless.