Archive for the 'Bible Doctrine' Category



Prelude: Tilling the Soil

farmer-and-tractor-planting_w725_h485

As I’ve mentioned previously, last spring our church and a number of others have gone through an upheaval of sorts in re-examining and ultimately discarding a “doctrine” that had been a mainstay of doctrinal (and many other) ministries for years. That doctrine, of course, is the doctrine of Rebound, or the confession of sins as supposedly commanded in 1 Jn 1:9, as well as in a number of Old Testament passages.

Rebound, we were taught, was key to living the spiritual life, for it was the only way to regain the filling of the Holy Spirit once the latter had been lost as a result of personal sinning. If you were not filled with the Spirit, you would not be able to understand Bible teaching, and nothing you did would be done in the power of the Spirit but rather in the power of the flesh. Thus all such  fleshly and “Spiritless” deeds would be considered wood, hay and straw at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Even worse, none of your prayers would go “any higher than the ceiling,” since God would neither hear them nor answer them.

For those of my seven regular readers who are not familiar with this doctrine, you can see that it was crucial to everything we did. Challenging it was not something one would take on lightly.

For our congregation this wild and bumpy ride began back in March with Pastor Farley’s unexpected announcement at the beginning of a Sunday morning message: “I have a confession to make.”

That confession was that he “could not find in the Bible where it tells Church Age believers, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that confessing our sins results in the filling of the Holy Spirit.”

Nor could he “see how the Bible makes our confessing our sins in 1 John 1:9 the determining factor in our being filled with the Spirit  in Eph 5:18.”

If he couldn’t find it, how could he teach it?

As far as I was concerned, as soon as he began to suggest  that rebound might not be what we’d always been taught, something resonated in me. In a “Yes!  That makes total sense!” way. As he taught in more depth in ensuing lessons, the resonance solidified. I kept recalling a phrase from former teaching, that had been added to justify the concept:

“‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…’  and the cleansed vessel is then filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Except that last bit about the cleansed vessel isn’t part of 1 Jn1:9 or 10; it is just an … extrapolation? Unwarranted connection?   I don’t know. I just remember thinking for years that it was shaky and that I’d have a hard time justifying this interpretation to someone who didn’t agree.

In addition, over the last few years I’d been experiencing moments of dismay when I would realize, after a day spent alone working on the book, that I’d forgotten to rebound before I started and would any of the day be worth anything now?

At the same time, I was finding more and more that when I’d set about the formal “rebound” prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind any sins for me to confess, nothing would happen. I wondered if there was something wrong with me; if I was doing it wrong.  Why weren’t all these sins coming to mind? Surely I’d committed some sin — if only mental attitude — in the previous eight hours! When I could think of nothing, I would just confess “arrogance” since that’s a pretty good catch-all when it comes to sinning…

The truth is, my besetting mental attitude sins are usually so intrusive that I have to deal with them before I can ever get to work on the book — not through an official rebound prayer, but in writing out my tumultuous thoughts in a journal or nonstop. Then, as I see what I’m thinking on the page, I realize how wrong and stupid those thoughts are, how NOT the mind of Christ they are, and am then reminded of exactly what the mind of Christ would be in this situation. Once I’ve done that I’m pretty much at peace and ready to work.   Which isn’t exactly “rebound” as I’ve known it.

Now, with this new teaching, I’ve come to understand that it is more in line with what the Bible actually teaches in the New Testament (eg, Ephesians 4 where we’re told to lay aside the old man and put on the new — exactly what I was doing in the exercise described above.)

I lay all this down as as a part of the journey I’ve been on with regard to this subject and how God had already begun to till the soil of my soul in preparation for the change. Of course, feelings and experiences can not be the standard by which we ultimately evaluate the truth of a doctrine or not. The standard has to be “What does the word of God say?” Is it true that the Bible really doesn’t support the doctrine of Rebound?”

I believe it is, and I shall try to explain why I’ve come to this conclusion in subsequent posts.

For those of you familiar with this doctrine and even those who are not, please feel free to question, object, read me the riot act, support/affirm (!), and/or bring up relevant scriptures that perhaps I’m ignoring. I might not be able to answer, rebut or explain my position to your satisfaction right now, but I would welcome the opportunity to see if my conclusions can stand up to the challenge — at least in my own mind, if not in others’.

My Introduction to Rebound

image courtesy of phanlop88/ www.freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of phanlop88/ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

In my last post, Surprised by Jesus, I related the story of my conversion and early Christian life, when I was taught out of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Major Bible Themes. The man who led me to the Lord, taught both the beginners Bible Classes I attended and the College Student Sunday School class I also attended, was a postman back in the Dark Ages when people didn’t use trucks but walked their routes carrying large leather bags full of mail. While he did this he memorized verses, so you can imagine by the time I met him, he’d learned quite a few.

He’d also taught himself Greek, and had a number of serious Bible study resources in his library, including Strong’s Concordance, Vines New Testament Dictionary and many others. I had tremendous respect for him. After my husband and I had moved to Northern Arizona and searched for someone to replace him, we had even more respect for him.

We visited a number of churches and home Bible Studies,  finally settling somewhat reluctantly on a Southern Baptist Church in Show Low. I was also having troubles adjusting to my new life, which was quite isolated, and both of us were suffering from the effects of moving to a much higher elevation than we were accustomed to — one of those effects was being constantly tired and wanting to sleep.

So I was sinning quite a bit in the realms of fear, worry, self-pity, complaining, etc.

One Sunday a visiting pastor came to our church and taught a message on “yielding to the Spirit”.  If we’d just do that, said he, we wouldn’t sin any more (at least that is what I perceived him to have said). I wanted very much to stop sinning, and so listened carefully. In order to yield, he taught, we should write down all our sins on a piece of paper — as many of them as we can remember — and then burn the paper. Then we would be “yielded.”

This sounds so ridiculous to me now,  I suspect I missed something in his teaching, but nevertheless, I went home, wrote down my sins and burned the paper in the kitchen sink, really, really hoping this would work and I would no longer be grumpy, crabby, upset that my husband was sleeping all the time and whatever other assorted complaints I had, which I can no longer recall.

Alas. Before the day was out, I had again sinned, and was no more clear on what yielding meant than before the burning of the list.

I was reading the Bible every day, and memorizing versus, but there were still an awful lot of passages that weren’t making a lot of sense to me. It was frustrating.

Not long after that, my husband started teaching at one of the schools up there and was invited to a Bible study one of the other teachers hosted. Actually, the way it went down was, he came home late for dinner, told me to put the meatballs I’d made into the refrigerator, because we were going to a Bible study that we were already late for, and that was that.

It was our first introduction to Col Thieme. I was not impressed. He was too harsh, too authoritarian, too critical, too arrogant… We critiqued his delivery and at least some of the content of his message all the way home, and not in a good way.

But for some reason when the next week came round, my husband wanted to give it another try. So I agreed. Since Col Thieme had been mentored by L.S. Chafer, much of what he taught was familiar and stuff I agreed with, and the second time around I was more amenable to listening.

And then he taught Rebound. In the context of yielding.

Sin, he said, puts a believer out of the control of the Holy Spirit, out of fellowship with Him. Naming the sin privately to God puts the believer back under the Spirit’s control and restores fellowship. As per 1 John 1:9, “if we confess (name, cite) our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (unknown sins).”  And the cleansed vessel is then free to be filled with the Spirit. This is what is meant by “yielding.”

I was very excited to hear all this!  Finally yielding made sense. Chafer had taught of our need to confess our sins to be filled by the Spirit and so had my first teacher, as well as my first pastor. Even the Baptist church we were attending taught the need to confess sins, though they often threw in the need to confess them to others, or to feel bad about them while confessing. Thieme cut through both of the latter… and I liked that. He used the term “rebound” from the analogy of a basketball player missing a shot but then catching the ball again and getting back in the game. Trying again…

For years that’s what I believed, how I lived, what I taught my son and what I presented to the various youth groups and Sunday School classes I taught.

The only problem was, it wasn’t correct…

How I came to discover that will be tomorrow’s post.

Surprised by Jesus

Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ

Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ

Awhile back, the weekly WordPress Writing Challenge prompted bloggers to “tell us about a moment when your life was changed in a split second.”

That’s easy. The moment I believed in Jesus Christ.

It happened in August I think, in my twenty-first year, at the beginning of my senior year in college. During my time at the University, I worked in the drafting department of the Steward Observatory, doing hand drawn ink renderings of various charts and graphs that the astronomers needed to accompany their articles in various publications.

I usually had no idea what the charts and graphs meant, but I enjoyed the work and the paycheck. I shared a tiny office with a man old enough to be my father and who was in fact a grandfather.

He was a dyed-in-the-wool Introvert. I like to say I forced him to give me the Gospel.

That was back in the day when I was the rabid evolutionist, hardly surprising given my field of study which was a double major in Wildlife Biology and straight Biology. More than that, ever since the sixth grade I’d thought the theory of evolution was just the coolest thing imaginable. “Look at the way all these creatures line up!  The progression is just obvious to anyone who wants to see!” (they never tell the sixth graders that the data simply does not support the theory, but that’s another matter and maybe another post).

In any case, I thought I knew all I needed to know. I was quite smug about it, as well. Not just about evolution, but about religion in general. I remember telling my mother several years earlier during one of our “religious” discussions (she was just getting into reincarnation) that I didn’t see how religious types could hold to the views they had because clearly no one was really bad enough to deserve going to hell (I lived a somewhat sheltered life) but at the same time, no one was good enough to go to heaven, either.

I had it all figured out, yes, indeed.

Well, that particular summer, when I worked in the Steward Observatory Drafting Department, I conceived the notion that I would reconcile the Bible’s account of “Creation” with evolution. Right off I discovered where the Bible went astray — it had God creating the plants before there was any sun!  How could plants live without light from the sun. See? Ridiculous!

I spent a lot of time going on about all this with my associate, whose  name was Dave. He bore with me patiently, mostly just asking questions — I don’t recall any arguing — but later he told me that we could talk about God and the Bible and creation and evolution and the church and so forth but the moment he mentioned Jesus Christ it was like the cookie jar lid slammed shut and there would be no more discussion.

Even so, I kept reading the Bible, using one of the study booklets he gave me. It made no sense to me. I would read the stuff, but it was just… inscrutable.  Still, I felt as if there was something there, and kept with it. It was weird.

I also read The Exorcist and in the middle of reading it one warm windless day (we had no air conditioning or even swamp cooler so the windows were open) I came to a really creepy part involving demons and suddenly, in perfect timing to what I was reading, a cool wind rushed through the window.  It totally creeped me out and I wondered if maybe there really were demons.

Then I read the biography of Maria Von Trapp, and was especially struck by her depiction of the power of the Holy Spirit at one of the church meetings she’d attended later in life, after she’d become born again. I thought it was cool, but didn’t really know what to make of it…

Then, about two weeks before my fateful appointment with Jesus I was confronted by a strange guy on the steps of the UA Student Union. He was friendly, if a little weird, had a clipboard, asked me if I was satisfied with my life and myself, and if not, would I like to take a personality to test to find out how I might improve things? He reminded me of those cartoon people with the spiraling circles in their eyes.  Even so I thought the personality test might be fun.

He made an appointment for me to take my test in the Scientology building which was not far from where we were on a different day. It was a written multiple choice test that asked me the same basic questions repeatedly in slightly different guises.

In the end, the test showed me to be somewhat critical of other people. He asked me if I thought it  a fair assessment, and I did. Then he asked me if I’d like to fix that, and I said, “And I suppose now you’re going to tell me Scientology will help me do that?” He seemed surprised by my question, but yes. That was exactly the deal. For a price his organization would make my life wonderful.

Yeah, right.

I wanted none of it and left.  It was my first and thankfully last experience with Scientology.

I went back to peppering my friend Dave with my questions about religion and Christianity. Finally he told me he felt inadequate to answer all my questions, but he had a friend who could. Would I like to come over to his house after work to visit with him and his wife Daisy and their friend Orville?

For some reason I said yes.

When the day came, I remember clearly thinking as I locked the door to my house that “they think they’re going to convert me, but they’re wrong. There’s no way they can prove which view (evolution vs creation) is right or wrong.” I recall feeling quite smug and even amused.

Well, the meeting went down as advertised. Dave and Daisy opened their home, provided snacks and drinks and participated in the discussion, though primarily it was Orville and me. I don’t even recall evolution coming up. I do recall asking all sorts of questions (like what about the people who have never heard about Jesus?) and for every one Orville would send me to a scripture which I would dutifully read and have NO idea how it correlated with the question! But I would nod as if I did, and he would go on and show me another and another… and I was clueless.

I lived, first hand, the experience of the natural-minded man (in my case young woman) who “cannot understand the things of the Spirit for they are foolishness (incomprehensible gibberish) to him.” (I Co 2:16)

And then somehow they got around to the fact that I was a sinner — a fact I struggled with — I had no idea what sin even was and I saw myself as a goody two shoes — despite the earlier encounter with the Scientologist and his assessment of my judgmental mindset. I never once thought that might be a “sin.” Nevertheless I knew I wasn’t perfect, so … maybe I was a sinner… And as such, I needed a Savior who was  Jesus Christ, the son of God who died for me and rose again. All I needed to do was believe it.

About that time Daisy, who had earlier left the room, returned with the news that she’d called her daughter and family and that all of them were praying for me.

And then… the weirdest thing. In an instant I saw Him in my mind. Just a sense. A picture, not anything I’d call a vision, but a mental image of Him coming up over a hill toward me. And suddenly I knew He was REAL and I wanted to know Him. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish that.

If they wanted me to pray the sinner’s prayer, I’d pray it. Which I did, admitting I was a sinner, even though I had no clue what it was. Believing that He was my savior, probably asking Him to come into my life (even though clearly He already had).

I went home a changed person. I prayed that same prayer two more times that night, because I wanted to be sure “it took”. And from then on, I couldn’t get enough of the Word. I went to all the church gatherings every week (except the door to door witnessing night… that was much too far out of my comfort zone at the time) I told my mother and my sister and my roommate about Jesus. My sister and my roommate also believed in Him and were baptized  when I was (Dave and his friends attended a Baptist Church, so that’s the one I went to). My mother came to church a few times, but later grew angry and wondered what “that church” had given me to make me so weird.

I told my boyfriend of two or so years about my salvation and urged him to believe in Christ as well. He regarded me with a sad air of condescension and assured me it was a passing phase I would soon be over. No, it turned out that our relationship was a phase that would soon be over. Like that same night.

I went to a weekly Monday night Bible study with my roommate and not long after a new boyfriend (who  later became my husband) which Orville taught for new believers. It included a memory verse program oriented around key doctrines of salvation, Jesus as God and 1 John 1:9. He also taught the college students class on Sunday Mornings using Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Major Bible Themes as a textbook. (I still have it in my library).

In addition to Monday evening and Sunday morning, we also attended Wednesday evening and Sunday evening. My roommate and I sang in the choir.

As for my dedication to the theory of evolution, it was thrown out faster than my old boyfriend. From then on the Word of God was my standard and even if I couldn’t explain just yet why evolution was wrong, I knew that it was, because the Bible said so.

I had one friend (another Biology major) write me specifically about this matter and that’s what I told her. She thought I was a flake, I’m sure. I know now why it is wrong, of course, and can explain its flaws at length (and have done so on this blog.)

I also believe that it’s not the theory that defends itself in its proponents’ eyes, it’s the attitude of the proponent in desiring an “explanation” for everything that doesn’t include God that powers their belief in it.  I’ve read their statements purporting as much.

Anyway, that’s the day that changed my life literally forever.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” ~Acts 16:31

Not on Your Own Understanding

Stop it

Another day of two hours of productive work on Sky!  Yay!

I know I’ve written recently about changes I’ve been making — using Freedom, turning off the phone ringers and muting the answering machine, getting to bed on time, keeping stuff picked up and put away — and on the surface perhaps it does seem like those changes in my habits have made the difference.

But truth be told, I really don’t think it’s me and all my plans, but God just enabling me to do it. Slowly but surely He’s been bringing me around to maybe half believing the truth that if I just let Him do it, He will. That I really don’t have to make all these plans and spend my time fretting and figuring and fussing about the future.

One of my favorite verses, one I’ve “claimed” for years is Pro 3:5,6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

I thought I understood it, but I’m realizing now that I didn’t really. I would trust Him with a problem, but at the same time, I would often be thinking of how things might turn out, and what I might do to head them off or encourage them… But recently it occurred to me that if I’m supposed to be trusting the Lord with ALL my “system of thinking” as Col. Thieme defined “heart” and NOT relying on my own understanding (which is another way of saying MY thoughts)  then what am I doing trying to figure everything out, trying to imagine every possible exigency and what I can to do handle it?  Well, clearly I’m not trusting Him.

I never saw so clearly in this verse that it’s actually telling me to “Stop It!” when it comes to all my figuring and planning.

So I decided to Stop It. Once I got really clear on the fact that I really wasn’t supposed to do it (because after all, we want to be sensible and responsible and not run off half-cocked like a fool, right?), I just gave it over to Him and boy has He come through. It’s been very cool.

Stop It!

Bob Newhart Video from way back. I mentioned some time ago that I’d write more about leaving “rebound” behind, and I’m just about ready to do so. This video is just the teaser: it captures the gist of the new teaching in…  well… two words!  Plus it’s funny. [If the video doesn’t appear, please click on the title of this post to go to its own page. The video should show up there.]

Faster than a Herd of Turtles

"Off like a herd of turtles..."

“Off like a herd of turtles…”

Well, I’m happy to report that I have continued to work regularly on Sky. I did 2 1/2 hours a day last week, and so far 3 hours a day this week. All time I actually spent focused on the work at hand instead of everything else in my periphery.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve done a number of things to help myself be more productive — trying to get to bed earlier; keeping things picked up and put away so I don’t see them when I walk out of the room and thereby get distracted; using Freedom and turning off the phones. And they have helped. But overall, I think I have to chalk this up to the Lord’s doing. I feel different about it all now, and it seems almost effortless to get to work…

But I did have to get to a point of despair when it came to my own efforts and finally just give it all over to Him:  “Here, Lord. I can’t do this. You handle it.”

I finished chapter 6 on Monday and started chapter 7 the next day. Today I continued on Chapter 7 and so far I have 10 pages.  It’s difficult to describe how I work, because it’s pretty chaotic. I have ideas, snatches of conversations collected on various papers, cards and electronic documents. They show up when I’m making notes about what’s to happen next, or when I do nonstops about the work. I also have a sort of outline for the events/incidents that are going to happen.

So what I’ve been doing is just putting those altogether, thinking about the resultant mix, starting to question various elements of that mix, sometimes to answer the questions I posed and from all that to begin to gather and shape the ideas into a coherent narrative.  And it does appear that something interesting is emerging. I’m excited!

Fingers of God

tornado funnels

I am sort of a weather junkie and in the course of following the tornado outbreak in Oklahoma last Friday came across this video showing multi-vortices in the tornado. They form within minutes as you can see, come down, touch the ground, then dissipate. Watching it made me think of the fingers of God… how they can come down and touch something spot on… not random, but, as with all else under His wise and loving control.

The story that broke today about the three very experienced weather chasers who were killed on the same day and in the same area where this tornado was filmed, just reinforced the fact that none of us can ever have all the bases covered when it comes to knowing what’s going to happen. Two of the three men were renowned among the meteorological community, having appeared in Discovery Channel and National Geographic presentations on their work.

Tim Samaras worked out of Colorado and his first interest was research —  getting information needed to figure out how tornadoes are formed and behaved. Colleagues described him as “a veteran researcher not a thrill seeker” and a stickler for safety above all else. Yet even he, after 30 years of tracking tornadoes, found himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently he and his team were  heading east on a side road along I-40 following the El Reno tornado some ways to the south as it plowed eastward  as well, following a straight track as it did so. Then suddenly it took a sharp turn northward  to I-40 itself, then it jogged east again to follow the interstate. When that happens the tornado can strengthen in power and size and, as one colleague put it, “you find yourself part of the tornado” and there’s no way to avoid it.

Anyway, to see Funnels Drop from Cloud near El Reno click on the link below:

http://bcove.me/nspje3up


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