“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 ESV (emphasis mine)
Some of the videos I have linked to have come into question (lovingly and out of concern) because of questionable teachings and practices coming out of the church(es) of certain pastors and worship bands. I’m not going to get into a debate about what is true and/or false about each of those teachings. What I am willing to do is share from my experiences…as a woman who loves the Lord and has spent many years seeking God’s Truth. I am not a theologian, nor do I claim to have all the answers. I, like any other believer in Christ, come to His Truth with my own experiences, interpretations, and baggage. Yet, I trust that the Holy Spirit of God, who resides in me, will lead me into all truth. And if I get it wrong somewhere – He will lead me back to where I need to be.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15 ESV
My church background is varied. I guess I could say I was raised Southern Baptist – that is, when we actually attended church, which was mostly Easter and Christmas. I was saved in a Pentecostal church when I heard the Lord tell me that I needed to accept Jesus as my Savior (yes, I said heard). For a little over a year, I studied the Word and enjoyed spending time in God’s presence and sharing the Gospel with those around me. However…
As I got deeper into my teen years and into my twenties, I wandered from the faith altogether. I actually began to dabble in other belief systems (primarily new age beliefs). And I was even interested in witchcraft, for a short time. Thankfully, because of God, I did not wander very deep into those belief systems. I would usually get to a point, as I was seeking “truth,” where I would begin to feel very uncomfortable on the path I was taking. So, I would stop, and start down another road. All the while, God waited patiently for me to return; tenderly calling me back as I continued on my own way.
I am so grateful that He did not give up on me. It took a great deal of loss for me to finally come running back to Him. The story of the prodigal son is very near, and dear, to my heart.
Once I returned to the Lord, because I had been exposed to other beliefs, I wasn’t interested so much in what I wanted to hear or what I wanted to believe. I just wanted the TRUTH. And I didn’t care if it was painful or if I didn’t agree…I just wanted what was real.
Over the years, I attended both denominational (various) and non-denominational churches. I came to realize that it was almost impossible to find a church where I could agree with the teachings and practices 100%. My hope was to find a church that taught Truth from the Word of God and allowed room for the Holy Spirit to move.
I usually found churches that relied heavily on either just the Word or just the Holy Spirit. Operating in one, without the other, leaves opportunities for the enemy to come in and wreak havoc on a body of believers. We need to be grounded in the Word of God (which is truth), but allow room for the Holy Spirit – our Teacher, Guide, Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Intercessor, the One who convicts us of sin and convinces us that we need a Savior – to move among the body of believers. We must worship God, not only with our head, but also with our heart…not only with our heart, but also with our head. Spirit AND Truth.
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:26-28 NIV
I actually believe what the Word of God says about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I believe in the promises God has laid out for us in His Word. I also believe that miracles, signs and wonders happen today, as well…though, to look at the western church, you might not believe it.
And this breaks my heart.
God is so much bigger than the Sunday morning box we tend to put Him in. I’ve seen lives transformed from the inside out and people set free from bondage. I’ve seen people healed of injuries and disease…some instantly and some through the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they sought treatment. I’ve seen prodigal sons and daughters return. I’ve seen those who felt unloved and worthless find love and worth in Jesus. I’ve seen things that I can’t even begin to explain and have experienced God’s presence in ways that I can’t even begin to describe.
When we are grounded in the Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to move, these things happen. The miraculous can happen! And I am very careful about stating what that does and does not look like. Because I have claimed that something can’t happen and then watched God do it. Nothing is more humbling than watching God do something that you have stated He can’t.
As for the videos I have posted, I have peace about sharing them. Does that mean I believe in all of their teachings and practices beyond what I have shared? No. I don’t even believe in everything my own pastor preaches. Does that mean I don’t share anything from him? No. He preaches the truth, in love, unapologetically. Does he miss the mark just like every single one of us do? Sure. But just because I don’t agree with everything he says, doesn’t mean I should just throw the baby out with the bath water.
Here’s another example. All those years I was wandering and wondering, God would use Joyce Meyer to speak to me. Because of her unique voice, He was able to easily grab my attention as I flipped through the channels of my t.v. When I finally returned to the Lord, He used Joyce’s messages (among others) to teach me more about His Word and how to apply it to everyday life. I still use what I learned in Battlefield of the Mind in my walk, today. I even volunteered at one of her conferences in 2010. And I don’t agree with everything she teaches.
And sometimes, as I teach, I’m going to get it wrong, too. But I still hope that God is able to speak truth and light and love into people through words that I write and speak. And when I get it wrong – because I have momentarily taken my eyes off of Him – I pray that I am humble enough to accept the correction I need and am willing to fix the mistakes I have made.
God can speak truth, show Himself, or get our attention through anyone…even non-believers. Look at King Cyrus in Isaiah 45. And even non-humans! How about Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22?!
Or how about The Shack? I was a Religious Studies major when I read that book (or at least, what I could stomach of it). The book still bears marks from when I threw it on the ground after reading the obvious Unitarian Universalist beliefs interwoven throughout the book. However, I cannot deny the fact that, through that book, for some people, it was the very first time they realized that they could have a very personal, intimate relationship with God. Were the teachings in the book theologically sound? No. Did God use it to open some people’s eyes to the fact that He is a personal God? I believe He did.
I think we tread on dangerous ground when we begin following a particular teacher or preacher or movement. We are called to follow Jesus. Are there people out there who can help us understand God’s Word? Yes. Because God has given us gifts, through His Spirit…and those gifts are to be used to build up, edify and teach the Church.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV (emphasis mine)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:27-31NIV (emphasis mine)
I guess my point to all of this is – each of us needs to have our minds renewed DAILY in God’s Word, so that we know what His good, pleasing and perfect will is (Romans 12:2). And we are to test the spirits to see whether or not they are from God (1 John 4:1-6). In order to do that, we must be familiar with God’s Word and listen to the Holy Spirit who has been deposited in us to teach us and to guide us. As I look back over the last 36 days, or so, it has pretty much been the recurring theme – Abide in Him.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. There is so much more I could say, but this will have to be enough. I’m relying on the Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps where I may have failed to explain.