Posted by: The Simple Guy | January 10, 2010

Bowled Over Today

I’ve heard some men who are opposed to a man “gushing” when worshiping.  I understand the natural fear of losing one’s composure.  I don’t think we should seek to lose our composure, but when I – a mere man – come into contact with the very God of Heaven, how can I keep my composure?

Well, I don’t know about gushing, though some may say John Piper does as he speaks of his Master.  However, I find that at times of worship I often lose my composure.  It is always when I see Him instead of myself.

This morning we were singing Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.  I could not finish the song.  I was bowled over as we came to the phrase “many hands were raised to wound Him, none would interpose to save, but the deepest stroke that pierced Him was the stroke that Justice gave.”

How can I keep my composure at such a thing?  He Saved Me!

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
By: Thomas Kelly

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See him dying on the tree!
This is Christ, by man rejected;
Here, my soul, your Savior see.
He’s the long expected prophet,
David’s son, yet David’s Lord.
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
He’s the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, all who hear him groaning,
Was there ever grief like this?
Friends through fear his cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress;
Many hands were raised to wound him,
None would intervene to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced him
Was the stroke that justice gave.

You who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed;
See who bears the awful load;
It’s the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man and son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ, the rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on him their hope have built.

My testimony isn’t as spectacular as Mr. Washer’s.  He found me in my mother’s arms at the age of 4.  But I was just as lost, and just as hopeless.  He is my only hope!

One more opportunity to be bowled over:

Craig

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Responses

  1. Brother,

    That song is one of my favorites! It moves me to tears every time I hear it. The imagery in words is very powerful and humbling. Praise be unto the Lamb forever more!!

  2. Nothing wrong with people gushing when they think of what Jesus did for them.

    Funny…the people who think it is wrong to get emotional about Jesus, or who say, “I’m just reserved…I could never do that in public!” are the SAME ones who go ballistic shrieking and shouting at a basketball or football game. It’s ok to go nuts for some ball player (our alter-ego?), or cry at a sappy movie or book, but not for God, who did so much for you???

  3. I couldn’t sing, either.

    I’m with you, Civilla.

    Many of us have been unconsciously trained to believe that it is undignified and irreverent to cry or clap or dance during worship–and it feels “wrong”, no matter how badly you want to do it. Or, we believe that it’s rude to offer a hearty “AMEN” during a sermon. Perhaps that has been partly in response to the decidedly pagan elements that have moved into certain branches of Christianity. No one who takes God seriously would want to be associated with groups that attach His name to chaotic emotional highs, false “miracles” and demonic manifestations.

    I think we can sometimes unintentionally stifle the Spirit that prompts people to offer back to the Lord unhindered thanks and praise.

    Something tells me that King David was a bit of a “gusher”… 😉

  4. Long before things got so weird in the Charismatic realm, people made fun of old-time pentecostals for being emotional. Of course, if we’re doing stuff (dancing, etc.) to get attention for ourselves, that is wrong. The elders need to talk serious to people like that and ask them to stop.

    Yes, David was a bit of a gusher. He danced before the Lord before Israel, rejoicing (I don’t think that was in a worship service, was it?).

    Don’t forget, too, that on the day of Pentecost, people thought the early Christians were drunk, when they were really expressing the joy of the Lord being baptized with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, apparently all at the same time, praising the Lord and declaring His glory (of course, that was not a church service — more like a prayer meeting).

    I don’t approve of the laughing fits that we see on tv in some churches where that’s ALL they do — that “chaos” as you say. TV church services get weird as they want to televise more and more unusual stuff to keep an audience. Then people in regular churches feel they must imitate that.

    I don’t necessarily think it would be a bad thing to get Christian TV off the air. Most of it is weird; most of the TV evangelists are hucksters; there is every wind of doctrine one after the other confusing people; it makes it easy for people not to come to church. But, we occasionally watch some of them, too, although not very often.

    As pastors, it is annoying to have church members not show up for church, but tell you that they watch so-and-so on TV instead. They also send their money to him. However, when they want Communion, they expect you to bring it to their house; when they are in the hospital they expect you to snap to. When they are not sick, you rarely see them in church. When you say, “Why don’t you call up Pastor so-and-so from TV?” they say, “Oh, no! He couldn’t do that! So I call you!” It never occurs to these folks what they are doing. We’ll give so-and-so on TV all our attention and loyalty and money — you do the work!

  5. Hope I didn’t make it sound like I thought it is wrong to clap or dance in a worship service. I don’t. There are times when it is appropriate.

  6. Don’t worry Civilla, we understood you. We should not cheapen the real thing by pretending.

    I wonder about those who seem “giddy” in worship. I find that hard to imagine when I contemplate the God with Whom we have to do.

    Craig

  7. I think some of those people mean well, but just work themselves up. They perhaps want a rush, or they are doing it for show, I don’t know. But, I think that’s only some of them.

    Why do people get giddy on game shows like Jeopardy? They’re excited because they might win something. Or at a ball game in the cheering section? Because their team is winning. Whatever. So, some of these people are very excited, because they have “won” something: unmerited salvation, forgiveness of sins, assurance of God’s love. They jump and shout and get giddy like the people on Jeopardy.

    Also, too, such behavior is acceptable among a certain class of people. We do have social class in American. When my husband and I (I feel another “book” coming) switched over from the non-instrumental Churches of Christ, where most of the people were upper-middle to lower-middle class, to Pentecostal churches, we immediately noticed a difference in the “clientel.” We noticed the same difference when we switched our children from private school where they started out, to public school.

    All of a sudden, we were among working-class people like ourselves, and many, many people who would be classified downright lower class. It is acceptable among these people to be much more emotional, expressive, openly excited and sometimes downright giddy. They can let off some emotion and not be judged in a Pentecostal church.

    Pentecostal churches are known for welcoming “the offscouring of the earth” — the druggies and prostitutes and adulterers, etc. — “from the guttermost to the uttermost” as the saying goes.

    When people have come out of lives like this, or have been horribly abused, they are emotionally sick. We knew a young man who had been in prison and came to church. He told of how when he was young, his mom had been married several times and he had no dad and the mother had to work and while she was gone to work, his brother used to torture him by doing things like tying him up to the rafters in the barn by his ankles and leaving him there until he passed out.

    We knew women who had been molested by dads and step-dads, starved, tied up in the basement, etc. We knew a girl who had been a real prostitute since she was 15. Lots of druggies, people who had been into every sort of sin. I’d never seen people like this in my life. Many weighted down with all sorts of guilt due to homosexuality and abortions and adulterous affairs who figured God would never want them.

    When you pray for people like this and they feel the forgiveness of God, they will do more than just shed a few tears like my husband and I did. These folks will scream, they’ll shake, run around the building, and even get giddy. Sometimes they’ll re-live this stuff in their minds as the Holy Spirit is ministering to them and cleansing them, and they’ll cry and shriek from their hearts as they call out to God. All that hurt coming out. Yes, sometimes they look out of control, but their whole lives have been out of control, and they’re not going to start acting like doctors and dentists and lawyers overnight (probably never).

    Maybe if I’d been as bad off as they were, I’d act like that, too. You just have to understand those people. It takes a special kind of Christian to be able to minister to folks like this who have been hurt so, and into so much sin. My husband and I are hardly equal to it. Sometimes these folks can turn and abuse you, too, because they are not used to kindness. Their sanctification process usually takes longer, too, than for middle class people who have done nothing more than sneak a cigarette when they were 16.

    He who has been forgiven much loves much, and some of these folks love with a reckless abandon and freedom that the rest of can’t understand, and yes, look kind of nutty. (I’m not talking now about the people who just want attention or whatever — usually everybody just ignores those people.)

    I remember laughing in the spirit once. I was not out of control, and I certainly was not giddy. I could have stopped any time I wanted to, but I didn’t want to. I was at a Pentecostal ladies’ Bible study, and it was acceptable. We had recently come back from Korea, where, although I went over there as a born-again Christian who had had a changed life, I ended up in sin worse than before I was saved, due to circumstances.

    Well, after Jesus rescued me and I repented, I still kept feeling like God didn’t forgive me, and didn’t want to because I had known better than to sin, and even though I knew with my head that that was not true, it was like a cloud over me. Some lady said something at that Bible study that broke the cloud, and exposed the devil’s lie, and I just started laughing — at my stupidity for believing such a lie, and just in simple relief. It felt good, especially after having felt so bad for months. It was the joy of the Lord.

    Now the guy who holds the TV services where that’s ALL they do is laugh at every service and no sermon is preached and it seems like the pastor has some special power or something, that’s bogus. But maybe the people in those services are emotionally sick and get comfort out of such a thing. We don’t know where they’ve been. I hope they will mature and move past such a thing, because in the end, only a good grounding in the Word of God will be their anchor, not experiences.

    Does that make sense?

  8. Yes, I have to be careful. My experience is pretty narrow.

    I do rub shoulders with lower class, as I am that myself. But I hear what you mean.

    Craig

  9. This A/G church we attended in California in the 80’s had about 800 people in it, and I would say that half of them were in that condition. New people would drive into our parking lot and see the type of people that were walking into the building and drive off. None of the other pentecostal churches in the area wanted these people, either. Our pastor was very courageous. He himself did not come from that type of background, although our associate pastor did, somewhat.

    In that church, we had a very strong pastor, and strong elders, who knew the difference between somebody who was demon possessed, somebody who was simply emotionally ill, somebody who just wanted a rush, and somebody who just wanted attention. Everybody usually ignored the latter and they’d move on to somewhere else where they could get the attention they wanted. You really didn’t have to deal with them. If they didn’t go somewhere else and persisted in acting weird, the elders would talk to them. Sometimes they received it and sometime they didn’t.

    He and the elders also knew the difference between a real supernatural gift and a demonic one, or where the person thought they had a gift but didn’t. The latter (after being talked to and asked to keep silent) would also move on to a church where the pastor and elders did not know the difference and they could “prophesy” or give “a tongue” which was not interpreted to their heart’s content. Believe it or not, many Pentecostals do not know the difference between fake and real, even the pastors, and even demonic gifts are tolerated in many churches. If that is the case, you need to get out of there. Icky. You can’t take every “manifestation” as being from God. “Let the others judge…” What’s REALLY bad is when the person with the demonic gift is tolerated and the person with the real gift is asked to leave, and I’ve seen it happen.

    In this church, people with demonic gifts were dealt with immediately and directly from the pulpit and the elders, who sat up on the platform with the pastor, would ask the person to hold his peace and if he wouldn’t, they would physically remove him. These persons were never open to deliverance.

    Incredibly, about half the people in the congregation would say, “Why did they usher that guy out? He had such a beautiful gift!” And the pastor and elders would roll their eyes and go, “Oh, brother!” Many Christians cannot tell the difference, because they have not educated themselves to be able to tell the difference. The way you tell is if they are freakily out of control or saying something completely unbiblical. In other words, if they act demon possessed, they probably are demon possessed. They usually bring much confusion with them and will ruin the worship service. The people will not know what is going on. It will FEEL icky. Or, you may even feel nauseous. But, demon possessed people showed up when Jesus (and Paul) showed up — even in the temple, where Jesus cast one out. If you have true manifestations of the Holy Spirit, demon possessed people will occasionally show up, like they are attracted or something, like they were to Jesus. Pastor and elders need to know how to deal with them. Thank God it didn’t happen often. Just once that I can remember the 6 years we were at that church. It’s always some guy with a beard who thinks he’s a prophet.

    The people who were simply emotionally ill were either left alone if they seemed like they wanted to be left alone, or people would pray with them. Sometimes the pastor would recommend professional help or counsel with them later. Usually people would go forward for prayer at the altar at the altar call. We had an unusual service: an hour of preaching/teaching (called Sunday School) and an hour of music and singing and praise and praying for people and the service was opened to spiritual gifts. Then an altar call would be given and people prayed for.

    My husband was an elder at this church while he was stationed at an Air Force base nearby. We attended there for 6 years.

    As our society continues to disintegrate, there are more and more emotionally disturbed people. They need a miracle from God sometimes. And, yes, systematic Bible study.

    Oh, and the time I laughed in the spirit, it was not in a worship service; it was at a ladies’ Bible study, AFTER the study, while we were all praying, some silently, some out loud, and I was fairly quiet, not screaming. Only 1 or 2 people heard me. I was not giddy or out of control like those people on tv. Smile.

    I think this is what is so sad: people see the fake stuff and the weird stuff and want to throw it all out. We don’t see a lot of real stuff today, at least not where we’ve been. Our ministry right now, my husband’s and mine, is to try to show people that they can be confident that the Bible is God’s fully-inspired Word. That’s where today’s battle is. But, those were good days.

    I always like talking to you guys. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’ve been incoherent and should ask, “Will somebody please tell me what I’ve been trying to say?” and sum it up for me.

  10. “I think this is what is so sad: people see the fake stuff and the weird stuff and want to throw it all out.”
    *************************************
    I was just telling Craig this morning that I think one of the devil’s most effective tactics is to imitate God on a grand scale so that those who lack discernment might be fooled into completely discarding truth rather than sort through to find out what is of God and what is not. We were talking about something else, but your comment reminded me.

    I, for one, appreciate your perspective. I believe part of the problem we can see in the church today is that we forget that we need each other in order to balance and learn.

    Christians as a whole seem to have a tendency to separate from one another to avoid the things we don’t understand or with which we disagree.

    In the name of maintaining proper order, I think conservative fundamentalists sometimes inadvertently quench the movement of the Spirit. Many times, we are left with nothing but a stiff, lifeless, religious show–even when the teaching is perfectly sound. Some groups also are very concerned with living visibly different from the world but we can swing way into judgmental legalism in an attempt to keep members safe.

    It does appear that Pentacostal groups are much more accepting of the types of people that Jesus extended His arms to. The Charismatic sorts I recall being around tended to love worship and aren’t afraid of emotion–but the teaching was pretty fluffy. I wonder if your husband may be an exception to the current norm.

    I know some who would probably be marked as “emergent”, and seem to be mainly concerned with a social gospel. But I know these people are very serious about discipling new believers toward maturity and are motivated by a desire to serve Christ and the people for whom He died. They are just tired of the fake friendliness and surface unity of much of modern Christianity. They’re done with the “hi how are you” club.

    I could go on, but my point is that Paul wrote that Christ’s body is a whole, made of many individual parts that are meant to serve Him in specific ways. When we disagree, separate, and form exclusive little groups of like thinking people, we tend to become imbalanced. Each group has a strength that can end up actually being a problem if it is not properly balanced.

    I’ve done most of my “growing” as I’ve interacted with believers that I don’t totally understand or agree with. The differences keep me running back to God to be sure I’m not just placing my faith in some system that sounds good.


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