DISCLAIMER: As with all other posts, read this one at your own risk, because the following are just my own personal points-of-view. Please, feel free to leave your own thoughts in response.
For we are the lovers he cares for and he is the God we worship.Psalm 95:7-9 The Passion Paraphrase
So drop everything else and listen to his voice!
For this is what he’s saying:
“Today, when I speak,
don’t even think about turning a deaf ear to me
like they did when they tested me at Meribah and Massah,[a]
the place where they argued with me, their Creator.
Your ancestors challenged me over and over with their complaining,
even though I had convinced them of my power and love.
They still doubted my care for them.
Now y’all probably have thought I have lost my mind because now I led with the Passion, but there is a specific reason I led with this text.
We are so quick to think we have discernment, and while we might discern rightly in many times, there are times when we do not discern properly, and that failure to discern can cost us.
As an aside, my blog tools tell me that I need to cut down the number of sentences that have more than 20 words because long sentences are a turn-off to my readership.
Well, here is my single-sentence response to that modern-day law. And, yes, the following is one sentence.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Here is another way of responding to the laws that govern SEO and blogging sentence length:
I do not write to fulfill some quota. I write because I am a writer. I will attempt to communicate by means of the most effective way possible, which might not always be the shortest way possible.
In Music And In Scripture Readings
When we choose our music, there are myriad reasons we select to listen to those pieces. Whether it is AC/DC for Brian Johnson’s voice, or Led Zepplin for Jimmy Page’s guitar work, or Nickelback for their….musicality, or Fleetwood Mac for Stevie Nicks’ vocal work, or Kansas for their….capacity to sound like a herd of cats choking on razorblades or [insert your favorite band], there are a variety of reasons. Many of those reasons boil down to personal tastes. And while disagreeing about personal tastes, we can still celebrate each other’s authentic love for this or that.
Likewise, we select the King Jimmy for its ornateness or its holding to Textus Receptus. We select NKJV for holding to the Majority Text type. We choose the NIV for its phrase-by-phrase sense of the text, or the Message for Eugene Peterson’s desire to go into the streets and attempt to reproduce the language of the culture of the last decade.
For Those Who Do Not Like the Message…
By the way, those of you who do not care for Eugene Peterson for The Message’s bad rendering of certain passages need to know that the man is a Johns Hopkins-trained Hebrew Scholar par excellance. Further, the rest of his body of work is radically different, devotional, and given to the intimacy and safety of a Teacher’s interaction with the Holy Trinity. I would recommend, for those called to be pastors, this book, and this book, and this book, and this book, and this book. It is Peterson that dominates the modern landscape spiritually head-and-shoulders above EVERYBODY out there on the topic of Pastoral Formation. I know at least two ladies that should be devouring EVERYTHING he writes, and one of them co-admins on this page with me.
Back To The Translation List
The NASB for its woodenness, or the NLT for its reliance on Ken Taylor’s work in the Living Bible, or ESV for its baptism in Reformed Theology and usage by Young-And-Restless Reformed preachers such as Josh Harri-, oops, Mark Drisc-, er, John Piper (much better), the question becomes, “why do we trust a translation?”.
One Reason Why
It is possible that we trust or enjoy this or that music or Bible because we value the input of another mature believer or friend.
We are used to trusting the input or guidance of someone we treat as more mature than us in our field. And, to an extent, that is a useful way to travel. But if we listen to them and discount our own gut or capacity to judge, then that can set us up for walking in the spirit of poverty or welfare.
The Poverty and welfare spirit says “I am missing resources, and I do not have the means to accumulate resources, so I must turn to and depend on someone else in the long-term to fix my lack for me and tell me what to do, given me the finished product, or make my problem go away. This leads to magic-wand Christianity (wave a magic wand and my problems suddenly go away). This also causes us to embrace a permanent powerlessness that those of us who grew up in the Charismatic Movement were taught was right. It is not me who can fix the problem. I must turn to the anointed apostle, or covering, or prophet, or spiritual father.
“Who’s your daddy?”
“Who is your spiritual sugar daddy?”
IT IS ALSO THE REASON WE ARE SO FREAKIN’ OBSESSED WITH REVIVAL NOWADAYS!!!!
In the case of both music and translations, those of us who are of Protestant streams of the faith are used to trusting those men and women who use those translations recommending them to us. And we are used to leaning on men and women that come across or present themselves as trustworthy and have a positive reputation.
And where does that leave us when we get more and more curious about the reputation of these men or women? To what do we turn if someone casts aspersions on this or that person and calls this or that music bad or this or that text bad?
If I read this or that, or say I like it, this person will cast me out of the inner circle of truly discerning people who have that person’s favor.
That is the fear of being bastardized.
And our loving Daddy has not given us a spirit that need fear being treated like a bastard by others.
Discernment, OUR OWN DISCERNMENT FROM OUR OWN SPIRIT AND THE MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is where must first we turn when we wonder.
The Priority of Discernment
But we have not sharpened our own discernment with the fine-tuning that it deserves. We have not honed it.
And so when a leader presents us with an opportunity to listen or to read, because we trust them. Because of their reputation, we move into reading, and call that discernment.
Because I have read this or that blog post, or listened to this or that video, I can make my decision solely on the basis of someone else’s research.
And we call reading or watching 4 or 5 things on the Internet research. Because our speaker speaks with confidence we have done our dilligence. Because he or she knows something to be true, and leaves no wiggle room for questioning, we move into agreement. Because it feels right to our mind, will, and emotions, we agree.
Trusting in a Structure Vs. Discerning
Really, what we may be agreeing with is a structure that has been built over 50,000,000 words of agreement. Without searching out the Holy Trinity for counsel, or the input of our human spirits, we leap upon something just because it is popular among other believers.
And we call that discernment,
But that is not discernment.
Discernment is when we apply the knowledge of our human spirits and the actual voice of the Holy Trinity (John 10:27) to a situation.
Discernment is not taking the latest video or blog article, even from David MacNelley, and saying it is our benchmark for evaluation. Rather, it is us unpacking our own discernment and using that to detect issues.
Discernment is why I don’t follow the crowd on the Passion. And that discernment is confirmed by the fact that I am friends with the person who is writing study notes for Simmons’ paraphrase on Genesis. I am not well with a person who has a bunch of yes-men around him or her.
It is this sort of mess that got us where we are with Todd Bentley, Ted Haggard, the first mess with Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and [fill in the blank].
Discernment is why I do not follow the Republicans or Democrats or President Trump. There is something off and always has been off. Discernment is why I am in the minority of prophetic voices when it comes to politics.
And discernment will cause you to take up some very unpopular opinions and viewpoints.
Concerning My Tastes of Music
In 1998, the Lord told me to get rid of every secular music CD I owned, which I did. And since then, I have had very little need to own any of it. And I go through seasons where I am listening to just about anything that is marketed as Christian, though as far as CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) goes, I find the well of the Living Waters stopped getting filled with much that was original or boundary-pushing or moving with the Holy Spirit’s direction past about 2000. The waters have maintained their levels since then and have not grown much. About the time Jennifer Knapp left the music scene, was about the cutoff date for me in that. Since then, Plumb’s Exhale has been one of the few records I have been able to listen from the current generation. Much of what else is present since then has fairly fallen pretty flat in terms of its anointing. But that is just my take.
Gang, it is time for us to begin the process of really sharpening our discernment. That is the bottom line. And by “discernment” I don’t mean “solely rely upon what everybody else is saying”. I mean, use your own discernment and the barometer that exists in your own spirit. Just my take.