Flashback Friday — Doctrine: The Key To Worship

Bible And WorshipHaving begun my Christian life in Charismatic circles, I learned to think of worship in terms of my emotional responses to praise music or to my private prayer and Bible reading. If I felt fluttery feelings, I believed I’d experienced good worship. If such feelings eluded me, I concluded that I’d failed in worship.

Emotions certainly play a part in worshiping the Lord. I love Him, which naturally means  a level of emotional engagement with Him. I’d go so far as to argue that an absence of passion in  prayer, praise and Bible reading amounts to nothing more than dead orthodoxy. Such dispassionate religion hardly exemplifies the sort of worship that Jesus described as pleasing to God.

23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~~John 4:23-24 (ESV)

Yes, by all means worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit should (and in fact, must involve our emotions! But unless something informs those emotions, we have no ability to worship Him correctly. Even worse, we have no assurance that we’re actually worshiping the true God. Therefore, in order to worship Him in spirit and in truth, we need to make doctrine the key to our worship.

I  care about doctrine because it helps me know the Lord. Not a Jesus fashioned as I think he should be, or one who adapts himself to current culture…though I admit that believing in such a compliant and flexible Jesus appeals to me. Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind tweaking the Bible here and there, making it just a little more comfortable, nor would I object to receiving extra-biblical revelations. But Scripture, studied in context and with a dependence on the Holy Spirit leads me to see Jesus as He actually is.

Do I  claim to know Him perfectly? No. In fact, I have only begun understanding the great doctrines of the Christian faith, partly because I  spent years in Christian groups that emphasized  experiential spirituality, partly because the days before the Internet made study materials less accessible to me (due to my disability and my finances), and mostly because I didn’t mind “going with the flow” of whatever my church went after at any given season. The fluttery feelings satisfied me.

Following the crowd and swallowing the Kool-Aid proved easier than learning to distinguish good doctrine from bad. Also, the non-resistance ensured my acceptance with peers and those in leadership. Quite often, people commented on my raised hand and heavenward gaze with admiration. My emotionally charged worship showed them an impressive example of spirituality.

Sadly, it also demonstrated that I worshiped the acclaim of my church more than I worshiped the Lord.

Now, as I read and study the Bible in context  (rather than scanning through it until something gave me spiritual goose bumps), the Lord reveals Himself. I watch His holiness in dealing with Israel, and His humility during His Incarnation. Currently, He teaches me the interrelationship between keeping His  commandments and loving other believers as I study 1 John.The doctrine of human depravity keeps me dependent on  Him, and the doctrine of His sovereignty strengthens my trust in Him. Scripture’s great doctrines show me His perspectives on relationships, sin, faith, money and just about everything else in life.

Most importantly, Scripture teaches me (for the word “doctrine” means nothing more than “teaching”) of Christ’s preeminence in all creation. He is not a god who suits himself to my fancy. Quite the contrary, He is the holy yet gracious King Who allows me the privilege of serving Him for all eternity. The doctrines of the Bible display His  majesty, drawing me to praise and worship Him in thrilled anticipation of being physically in His glorious presence.

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Christian Yoga As Idol Worship

LotusThe church John and I belong to practices the pubic reading of Scripture by going through a book of the Bible consecutively. Currently we’ve been reading 1 Corinthians. I find that, surprisingly often, the Lord deepens my understanding of a passage as I listen to my pastor read it aloud. Yesterday, in fact, the passage he read made me think about so-called Christian yoga.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? ~~1 Corinthians 10:14-22 (ESV)

Although there are other people teaching “Christian” yoga, Holy Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Where Worship Belongs

Originally posted on August 27, 2015

Even the most liberal of evangelicals would insist on the Lord being the focus of worship. Scripture makes this focus necessary by insisting not only that He created all things, but that He created them for Himself so that He might be preeminent. Less than a year ago, our pastor preached on this very topic as he approached Colossians 1:15-19. Let me expand a bit on the text to provide a  fuller context.

11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ~~Colossians 1:11-20 (ESV)

I love this passage primarily because it teaches the amazing doctrine of Christ’s deity, as well as the doctrine of  His Incarnation and His atoning work on the  cross. These words  certainly draw me into an attitude of worship  as they show me Who He is and what He has graciously done. These words also remind me that everything  He has created exists for no other purpose than to bring glory to  Him.

Practitioners of so-called Holy Yoga would say that their form of yoga allows them to worship the Lord more fully. I passionately disagree with that claim based on the fact that yoga (even when it’s dressed up with Bible verses and praise music) is Hinduism. Much to my frustration, their website no longer explains what Holy Yoga actually is, but Chris Lawson of Spiritual Research Network found this quote (which I remember reading) on an earlier version of the Holy Yoga website.

Holy Yoga was created to introduce physical worship of the Lord through prayer, breath work and movement to all seekers and believers in Jesus Christ, regardless of denomination…The purpose of the ministry is to introduce people to yoga as a form of collective (mind, body and spirit) worship…as well as certifying teachers through the registered yoga school (RYS) of Holy Yoga…to facilitate Christ-centered classes in their individual churches, studios, and community spaces….Our sole purpose at Holy yoga is to introduce people to a unique and powerful yoga experience centered on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To deepen the experience, Holy Yoga classes are practiced to contemporary motivational Christian music…Yoga is NOT a religion; it is a practice of mind and body control. When led by scripture, prayer and worship poses; it is a practice that encourages patience and cultivates an understanding of what God can manifest in our physical and emotional bodies. 

That closing sentence betrayed the inconvenient fact that Holy Yoga is more about experiencing physical and emotional manifestations of “God” than about Biblical  worship. But according to an article by Christian  Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) entitled Should Christians Practice Yoga? (this title is a link), this focus on experience pretty much sums up the primary goal of yoga.

The problem is that yoga is religious in nature.  The point of the practice of yoga is to unite oneself with God.  Take this quote from the Yoga Journal: “Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.”4  As one can see, Yoga is more than just a physical exercise.  We as Christians do not want to make our mind more flexible.  We do not want to leave our mind open to false teaching.

Today, I will leave out any discussion of yoga’s worship of Hindu gods (although  I hope to address that matter at some point) and instead emphasize the point that yoga, “‘Christian” or otherwise, subtly shifts the focus from the Lord to self. As I watched video after video on the Holy Yoga  website, the preoccupation with “meeting God on your mat” came up several times. Although you have to pay the  big bucks before accessing anything that explains exactly how Holy Yoga enables you to better experience the Lord, it indeed indicates that  a wonderful experience awaits you on your mat.

Scripture always presents worship as adoring and praising the Lord. Often, such adoration does engage our emotions, but those experiences come as by-products of worship. I don’t need yoga when I have Scripture to tell me about Jesus. Instead of mystical experiences that make me feel degrees of ecstasy, let me learn to die to myself and use my life to serve and glorify Him.

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Why We Like To Believe That God Speaks Directly To Us And Why We Must Question That Belief

Ancient ScriptureThe other Sunday School teacher had taken the rest of our Special Needs class on a short excursion, leaving me with a particularly difficult little boy. His intellectual disability was profound, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was somewhere on the autism spectrum. In 1975, leaving a child alone with a teacher didn’t raise eyebrows, so there we sat for ten minutes.

“I hate you, Debbie,” he declared. I was minoring in Special Education that semester, so I tried reasoning with him the way my professor had taught me. Didn’t work. He repeated his proclamation several times, each time more loudly and eventually adding profanity.

Suddenly I had the thought to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” To my astonishment, the little boy sang with me! The others returned to find the two of us singing and laughing together.

For years I told that story as evidence that Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: April 7 — April 13

Teacup Sampler

Check out Fred Butler’s insightful remarks on Hip and Thigh as he answers the question Are Evangelical Continualists The Same As Mormon Continualists? His response should sober us.

As long as we’re asking and answering questions, let’s give attention to Should You Attend a Catholic Wedding or Funeral? by Michael Coughlan of Things Above Us. I didn’t expect him to take the same position I hold. But I appreciate his clear reasoning and his fidelity to the Lord.

I can’t agree with Grace Hody of Biblical Woman as far as women attending seminary (though I’m thankful she adds caveats about female seminary students not seeking vocational positions). That said, I definitely endorse the main points she makes in Why Should Women Study Theology? God has graciously provided wonderful alternatives to attending seminary classes that any woman with an internet connection can (and should) utilize.

Read Questions and Answers on SharaC’s blog, Into the Foolishness of God, for a helpful discussion on claims that the Bible is difficult to understand.

Elizabeth Prata, author of The End Time, answers the question: Am I doing something wrong if  I make a huge decision and don’t wait to hear from God? As a former Charismatic, I can attest to the bondage that waiting for “a word from the Lord” places on people. Elizabeth offers sound principles for decision making in this superb essay.

Writing for Morning by Morning, Liz Wann teaches on the importance of Seeing God first in Scripture as opposed to making the Bible primarily about ourselves. She draws from the exchange between God and Moses at the burning bush to illustrate her point. Fascinating insight!

Although we hear it often, Mike Ratliff’s warning to Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing in Possessing the Treasure. He contributes to the conversation by taking us to Scripture that illustrate the qualities of sound teachers.

Denny Burk asks Are biblical manhood and womanhood cultural constructs? He responds to Woke theology that somehow equates gender roles with “whiteness.”

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Saturday Sampler: March 24 — March 30

Tulip Sampler

Each Sunday, Phil Johnson features a devotional or sermon excerpt by Charles Spurgeon on the Pyromaniacs blog. This week’s quotation tells us How to meet the evils of this age. It always amazes me that things Spurgeon wrote over 100 years ago apply so accurately to 21st Century evangelicals.

Do you know The Early Symptoms of Spiritual Danger? Writing for the Ligonier blog, Sinclair Ferguson discusses apostasy, using a passage in Hebrews 6 to explores how someone becomes an apostate.

In Christians and Coming Out Redux, John Ellis of adayinhiscourt uses personal experience to illustrate the world’s wholesale rejection of Christian values. If you have any doubt that non-Christians lack tolerance for Bible-believing Christians, I urge you to consider this article.

For years, I’ve wondered how progressives would respond when the Muslims they supported refused to support LBGTQIA concerns. Stephen McAlpine sees this unraveling of causes beginning, and writes about it in Secularism’s (Misplaced) Confidence. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Michelle Lesley encourages us, using Scripture as authority, not to be Frightened by Freedom.

I appreciate the candor of Andrea Burke in The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush, featured in For The Church. The post takes me back to my days as a single woman and the guilt I felt for wanting to be married.

Drawing from 1 Samuel 4:1-11, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time shows us that “The more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true. This Old Testament episode should sober us as we consider how we approach life.

It’s a Christian’s greatest fear.  And Mike Ratliff addresses that fear with his article in Possessing the Treasure entitled What is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? If you genuinely love the Lord, you’ll find this short Bible Study wonderfully reassuring.

Let’s have a second one from Elizabeth Prata, shall we? “God Told Me:” About those whispers to the heart evaluates claims that God speaks to people personally. It distresses me that we still need instruction on this matter. Be sure to watch the videos by Gabe Hughes and Mike Abendroth that Elizabeth includes in her post.

SharaC, the purveyor of Into the Foolishness of God, challenges the popular notion that the Bible is muddy and therefore difficult to understand by writing Deconstructing Faith. While I disagree with her comments about doubt, her overall argument for the clarity of God’s Word makes this article essential reading. I wish more bloggers would stand this resolutely against efforts to dilute the Word!

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Saturday Sampler: March 17 — March 23

Five Easter Babies

Have you ever heard of Sign Chi Do? Since it’s different from most type of Eastern meditation, you might think Christians can practice it. C.T. Adams evaluates this possibility in Profile 23: Sign Chi Do, an article appearing in Faith Contender. I appreciate this information.

Maybe you’re not moving any time soon. But if you are, consider the advice John Ellis gives in Make Finding a Church a Priority in adayinhiscourt. He presents ideas I wish I’d implemented when I moved from California to Massachusetts.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings does an outstanding job of confronting a popular misinterpretation of a beloved parable that Christ told.  Twisted Tuesday — The Pearl of Great Price both demonstrates proper hermeneutics and challenges teachings on Christian self-esteem.

In Thy Word Is Truth, Erin Benziger again helps us reflect on the sufficiency of Scripture. We all need reminders of the power of Gods Word. Erin blogs at Do Not Be Surprised.

Quoting at length from a blog post she found on The Masters Seminary website, Amy Spreeman of Naomi’s  Table asks, Do you love the deceived? For those involved in discernment ministry, this question is imperative.

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Ways NOT to Fight with Your Husband by Michelle Lesley makes me gulp a little because I’ve committed some of these infractions in my own marriage. May I learn to fight fairly, honoring both John and the Lord.

Here’s an interesting perspective on Biblical unity and separation by Mike Ratliff on his blog, Possessing the Treasure. Let’s be careful not to divide unnecessarily, but also not to fellowship with anyone who corrodes the Gospel. Mike gives very helpful guidelines on when and how to separate from those who disobey Gods Word.

I want to list this second post by Michelle Lesley, Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men, because I’ve seen evangelicals capitulate to the world’s denigration of men. Michelle looks at this problem honestly through the lens of Scripture, offering a powerful and  badly needed corrective that would benefit men as well as women.

Although I haven’t vetted Marci Ferrell’s blog, Thankful Homemaker, I do recommend that you read Dealing with Controversy as a Christian. What a timely and thoughtful piece of writing!

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