Tuesday, May 6, 2008

But What Does It Matter

When Father wants to adjust something in my thinking I find he usually speaks to me from different viewpoints, people and perspectives and then in Perfect Storm fashion he brings it all together.

This happened the other day and I find myself more at peace with my charismatic roots and those out there who are still in the middle of all the action. Some of you had a part in it.

First there was Heather. She wrote the following paragraph:

I’ve decided. I’m going to the next level in God. I’m going to be empowered by an incredible, enthusiastic, visionary leader and take this city for Christ. I’m going to be a vibrant, passionate, charismatic believer who takes excellence seriously. I’m joining a vibrant, contemporary, growing church with a powerful message that impacts the world and has a vision statement that involves loving life, loving people and loving God. I’m getting connected to a small group that will move me into that next level and take me into the unknown, teaching me to drink that living water and walk by faith. I have a vision for this nation, I’m going to see revival sweep across this land.

And….Unfortunately, after all those years of proclamations, nothing changed. I didn’t change. I got whipped up into a frenzy, but I certainly didn’t impact anybody around me. I most definitely didn’t get to any “next level”. I really wonder what the “next level” is anyway.

Then Jeff, picking up on the same theme writes about how he is feeling about statements like these and also the happenings in Lakeland, FLa. He talks about how he knows so much of it is really God but how he is still so offended by all the hype and religiosity.

Others have commented on this subject the past week and I can so empathize with where they are at. I’m there too. I don’t want to go back to it. It still sickens me to some extent.

BUT.....I have seen too much. I know that God is there and some (maybe most) of the testimonies of healing are real. I have seen a man’s arm which was broken one minute and totally healed the next (complete with a doctor’s verification and x-rays) by my daughters prayer of faith. He actually looked like he was shoved backwards when she went to reach out to touch him – and she never laid a finger on him. I have seen God work in these kinds of meetings.

So what do I do with all of this? I almost stopped reading the blogs for a while this week because this bothered me so much. I didn’t want anyone else bringing up another subject until I came to peace on this one. How was I going to treat healing meetings, charismatic conferences and such? I’m not comfortable despising them in my heart when I know that Father still shows up and does miraculous things.

Then I found an answer. It came in two ways.
The first came as I was listening to a sermon from Mars Hill by Kent Dobson who was filling in for Rob (2/17/08). They are preaching through the book of Philippians right now. He was given the verses in chapter one where Paul is saying this:
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,” Phil 1:15-18.

His question to the audience was how in the heck did Paul get to the place where he could say, ‘But what does it matter?” This was PAUL. The guy who confronted people. Who challenged doctrine. Who got in Peter’s face. How could he say that he was ok with people preaching whose motives were false or that were doing it out of selfish ambition?

Kent goes on to explain Paul’s view of how very big God was. How he was sure that He was in control. How Paul understood that even with his revelation that was given him, it was still a mystery to him. No one knew everything there was to know. Paul did not even know it in full. So to Paul, he just wanted the message to get out and people to be touched. God was big enough to sort it all out.

The second voice was Molly from Adventures in Mercy. She is talking about how to deal with others who are still in the camp she left. She says,

And while it really bothers me that I’m like that, usually I don’t even realize I am. It’s only in retrospect, during the hours when sleep won’t come and I replay events in my mind, realizing just how grace-less I was in my interactions. My friends and acquaintances who continue to hold my former beliefs: do they have the right to continue to hold things dear that I now reject? Do I treat them with grace and honor despite our (now) differences, or do I make them endure the thing I so hate? “Ahem. Perform properly so that I can love you.”

I need to chill out. I need to be glad that people are being touched by God in a “revival” in Florida. I’m not happy with the excesses or the fact that I would be more comfortable if it spilled out to the streets and was not caught up in just a few personalities. I’m not happy when I sense that the people up front are not aware that their sweeping statements might actually hurt some. I’m not happy that it is not clean and neat and no one comes away wounded. But I am happy for the little girl that got healed. I’m grateful to my Father for touching her that night. I need to find room in my heart that can embrace what people are doing to touch those around them. I need to give them the room I would wish that they would give me.

And so today, like Paul I will say, “But what does it matter.” I can continue to speak out on doctrine and abusive practices that contradict the heart of the Father and are most likely to hurt people that live under them. What I can’t do is paint myself into a corner where I only can hear from or relate kindly to those who think just like me. If I do, I have learned nothing and there has been no change in me from what I was last year.

Best Friend’s advice to me is almost always the same. She says, “It will all come out in the wash.” I just need to remember to use the powder marked as Grace and it really will all be ok.


Sue said...

Isn't it strange how hard a lesson it is to understand grace? God continuously astounds me at the way he will stoop to show up wherever he will be welcomed despite how "wrong" the situation is. Quite amazing.

Thanks for this post. I have been feeling very grumpy at God, and this has helped a tad towards me getting over my grump :)

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts! Now, if you can just get everyone else to think that way...... :-)

Fred Shope said...

A few years ago the Special Forces had a slogan, "Kill them all, let God sort 'em out". I think that for followers of Jesus it should be, "Love them all, let God sort them out"

Barb said...

Sue, i'm glad it helped

Traveller, Yep that is my aim ;0 I hear strains of Pinky and the Brain.

co_heir, you made me laugh out loud. I love that!!

Sarah said...

"It will all come out in the wash." That's a line I hear often from my husband. I think there is actually a lot of wisdom in that. Thanks for sharing, I totally relate to feeling inwardly conflicted about these things.

Tracy Simmons said...

Beautiful, Barb! I think God is so gracious that He will show up any time, any place, any where to heal some, etc.

I wish, though, that the people involved would realize that God healing some folks is not his seal of approval on all the hype that goes along with so many events, you know? I'm learning to differentiate God's grace and kindness and healing from thinking that it means He says "yes" to all the other stuff that goes on as well.

He's so big and beautiful that he condescends to show up sometimes right in the middle of our silliness and immaturity time and time again, just to heal a few and set a few more captives free. Now, THAT is amazing to me! :) I love Him all the more for it.

Wayward Son said...

Barb, I think this is a stellar post. Thank you for verbalizing your process.

I admit I still felt a little guilty writing that post you referred to, because I DON'T want to discount what God is doing. But I received a record number of comments on it, which says it strikes a nerve with many.

All the same...it is my belief that despite our concerns with the trappings of institutional church and even charismatic hype--God has never forsaken His church. He so longs to touch people with His love that He will meet people wherever He finds the hunger, no matter what that happens to look like.

Barb said...

Sarah, your husband must be from the south. I've never heard a northerner say that phrase ;)
I'm probably not as landed as this post would suggest. I still struggle so much when I actually see it happening or hear of it. It is like I have to wade through the mud to see any good.

Tracy, Yes. Anytime miracles happened it was a seal of approval even if no on actually said it. It was always some sort of mark that we were doing something right. God wouldn't do these things if we were wrong would he? And we were always sure that there was a bigger seal of approval on our church as opposed to the church across town because of the miracles.

Jeff - Please don't feel guilty. I am right there with you. That is why it struck such chord with me. If we don't articulate it then we don't deal with it. It is only by the honesty that is shared here that I feel safe in saying anything that I am thinking. All that to say thanks for putting it out there.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am currently listening to that same series by Rob Bell - on the book of Phillipians. It's been very eye opening and exhilirating at the same time!

Mary said...

I can relate to what you said but have thought in the past, "but what does it (the error and excess) matter" in a despairing way - meaning why bother to care, things will never change.

You've given me a new way to think. I'll be chewing on this post for a while.

Barb said...

Kelly, thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I clicked over to your site and am reading a bit. I love new people here!

Mary, if you can, listen to the sermon I mentioned. You can download it for free in iTunes or on their site at http://www.marshill.org/teaching/index.php
I need to listen to it again because what he says about what Paul believed about God truly is life changing.

Jeannette Altes said...


Thanks. I needed to be reminded of this. It is difficult, when you see the criminal and sick behavior of church leaders up close and personal and yet you know God healed people in their services (less and less as time went on, but still healed them), it can be confusing.

My thoughts at the moment are that God will show up in Mercy and Grace to heal those crying out to HIM, even if the leaders in that particular church are WAY off...

Barb said...

btw, to save time you can forward into the message to 15 min. that is where the message begins.

Barb said...

Katherine. That is why I won't be silenced on the wrong stuff. I really believe it is right to say what is wrong. I just am able to say it with much more Grace than yesterday. But you are right. The Father will reach out and touch someone in a crazy charasmatic meeting as much as he will in the gutters of Chicago. Place does not matter to Him.

Mike said...

This is a great post Barb. One of the things that I have often thought is that I really have no idea "what's up." I'm trying to have have it all make sense in my life and in my interactions with others.

What I do believe is twofold.

1. When we're in Daddy's presence, we will know the truth.

2. Somewhere in between the lines is where it is located. Just when I think I might have a grasp on it, something happens to change that thought process. The truth is elusive.

Jeannette Altes said...


"1. When we're in Daddy's presence, we will know the truth.

2. Somewhere in between the lines is where it is located. Just when I think I might have a grasp on it, something happens to change that thought process. The truth is elusive."

Yes! In Papa's presence... well, nothing else matters when you are there. :-)

As to the Truth, yeah it seems elusive. But I am beginning to think - maybe - that it is more of a progression thing. We get a little, then a little more, then a little more. I think the dangerous place is when we thing we have the 'whole truth' wrapped up in a neat little package of rules and steps to follow. The Truth sets us free, it does not bind us, so, the more truth, the more freedom... in progression, as we grow, moving forward.... ;-)

Mary said...


Thanks for the link. I'm heading over there now.

Heidi W said...

I've been watching it on and off, and going through many of the same thoughts and struggles. Thanks for putting it all into words. :)


Sarah said...

Funnily enough, my husband is from Canada - the "true North" as they say. :) Wow, some really good things came up in the discussion - especially the part about miracles and healings NOT being a stamp of approval for everything that's happening. It's just a manifestation of God's love for people. Bang on!

By the way, I tagged you on my blog for the Six Word Memoir Meme. Tag, you're it! :)