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I became a Christian in 1971. The Jesus People Movement was in full swing as was the Charismatic renewal. Lots of converted hippies. We were young. It was exciting. And we were enfolded into the churches that were willing to take in young people who dressed like, well, hippies.

And then we just slowly fell asleep.

As I said, we were young. I can’t speak for others, but I wasn’t very discerning in those days. I don’t think the people around me were, either. The other day my wife was singing a chorus from that era, one of the lines of which was, “If you want joy, you must shout for it.” In that song, different actions were added to what one must do to receive joy. Jumping was another. Some of us white people lifted ourselves about an inch off the ground when we sang those lines, but most of us just lifted ourselves up on our toes. Nobody thought about the theological ramifications of this requirement to receive joy. The pastor certainly didn’t—and he was a good guy—because he taught it to the church. No one cared. We were young. We were excited.

But I already said that, didn’t I?


Today, I wouldn’t teach people to sing that song. No, you don’t have to jump or shout in order to get joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It grows in us. When you see what brought joy in the Bible, it was from seeing the things God did. Paul and John were joyful when the believers they discipled had remained in the truth. No jumping or shouting was required to “bring down” joy.

Some erroneous stuff was floating around in those days. I remember a book about how praise “worked.” Have a fridge that isn’t working? Every time you walk by, just thank the Lord for it. It’ll start working again. Hmm. Superstition anyone? Legalism? “You know, if you’d thank the Lord for that fridge instead of complaining about it, it might start working again. Here. Read this book.” Talking about legalistic bondage, the district supervisor of our denomination was a full-blown word of faith guy. Thankfully, the Lord kept us from that erroneous doctrine.

We were spared a lot of other weird stuff, as well. I never understood the emphasis on being “slain in the Spirit.” Without question, there are instances in the Bible when a man fell down when he encountered the Lord. It has happened when we were praying and ministering in China and India. But I never promoted it, emphasized it or even talked about it. If the Lord shows up in someone’s life so powerfully that they become weak in the knees, they might fall down. But the “ministry” of “slaying” people in the Spirit, just isn’t in the Bible.

I wish I could tell you that my ignorance ended there. I had a very shallow understanding of Scripture. I worked for a church whose evangelistic method was based upon this passage from John:

“One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’” (which means Peter)” (John 1:40–42 ESV).

They called it “Find, Tell, Bring.” Andrew found Simon, told him what he knew and brought him to Jesus. They interpreted it this way: Find someone who doesn’t know Jesus, tell him or her you know and bring them to…church. It never once crossed my mind that bringing a person to church was not the same as bringing him to Jesus. I love the pastor of this church to this day. He’s a wonderful man who loves Jesus. He leads a very successful ministry. I know several staff members, and we’re friends. However, as difficult as it is to say, this scripture has been twisted. And it has been twisted to the detriment of believers. It took evangelism from the hands of the “lay” people and put in the hands of a gifted leader—which this man, without a doubt, was and is. Nevertheless, there are no excuses for Scripture twisting.

Here are some other things I didn’t think about biblically:

Tithing. It is taught nowhere in the New Testament. It is primarily taught from Malachi 3:8-10, and we conveniently interpreted the “storehouse” in that passage to mean the church. Really? The church is a storehouse? Where in the New Testament is the church called that? How did that happen?

Fasting. You’ll find little evidence in the Bible that fasting is meant to “bring one closer to God.” Fasting almost always happened when people were in serious trouble and they were grieving.

Leadership. Jesus’ paradigm for leadership is servanthood. You’ll find little evidence in the New Testament for any kind of organizational hierarchy, past the appointing of some men to serve widows in the Book of Acts. And a study of that portion will lead to some interesting discussions when one reads further about the ministries of two of those servants, Stephen and Philip. We must include Jesus’ about leadership when we discuss such a passage. We can’t take one descriptive incident in the Book of Acts and toss out all of Jesus’ teachings about leadership.

Being a temple of the Holy Spirit. It has absolutely nothing to do with smoking or taking care of one’s body in a healthy way.

Pleading the blood of Jesus over someone or something when we pray. What does that even mean? Who in the New Testament ever prayed like this? No one.

Binding the strong man, or, in other words, a demon or the devil. Really? We can do that? Did anybody in the New Testament do this? No. Why aren’t we aware of its absence in Scripture?

Praying that the Lord will “be with” someone. I hear this all the time. If he or she is a believer, isn’t the Lord already with them? In fact, doesn’t He live in them? Why are we praying this?

These last three things above have to do with how we pray. When I began to question them, it occurred to me that it would be valuable to discover how people in the Bible prayed. Now, there’s an idea…

Well, it’s time to stop. If you have doubts about what I’ve written, check them out in Scripture yourself. Feel free to ask any questions.

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