All Glory to God

1Corinthians 9:18 "What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it." (NIV)

My name is Kate.  I strive to live my life every single day for the Glory of God.  But do I succeed at that?  Absolutely not.  I fall short, every single day.  But I am saved by the Blood of Christ; and I strive to further His Kingdom, even though I know I will fall short.  Why?  Because it is what I am called to do.  Through music and relationships.  Those are the gifts I was entrusted with, and since I did not ask for them, I had better use them to the best of my ability.  I will not hide them under a rock, instead I will stand on The Rock and use them for The Glory of God!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Haven't posted in a looooong time

I know I haven't posted on this blog in a looooooooooooong time.

Not necessarily because there hasn't been any moving forward on ministry for me, but really that's why. But that isn't true, because there has actually been quite a bit of moving forward toward ministry for me, just it hasn't been as obvious until now--or at least not so easy to write about.

So much has happened since moving here to Austin. God has directed my path here--that is abundantly clear. I wouldn't be where I am physically, spiritually or emotionally if He hadn't. He intended for me to be exactly where I am at this exact moment. How do I know? Because His peace just pours over me. There is no other way to describe it.

Remember the 3 M's? Move, Marriage, Ministry?

Well, as you know, I've moved. I live in the Austin, TX area now. I lived in Austin for a bit, but now I live in a small town west of Austin called Spicewood.

Why do I live there now?

Because I'm getting married! I'm marrying Tres. The man that God intended for me to meet and marry. He is beyond my wildest dreams. He is so much more than I ever thought I would find in a man. His character is amazing and strong. His faith and his relationship with Jesus inspires me. His strength holds me up and encourages me. He is my perfect match.

And ministry? Well, that seems to be coming along now too. See my personal blog for an update on that, I just wrote about it there.

I am so thankful to God, who loves me and cares enough about me to not only place His desires on my heart, the things He wants for me. But sees them through, and gives them to me like beautifully wrapped gifts. I almost feel like I had 3 gifts placed before me. One for each M. I got to open the Move box first. And inside that box was just a piece of the gift, but there was another box inside that to open. And when the time came, I was allowed to open that box, which led to another box to open.

Then to my surprise, I was allowed to open the Marriage gift. I didn't expect that one would be next.

Now, I'm finally allowed to open the Ministry box.

All 3 of these boxes still have smaller boxes inside to open, with more surprises and more gifts. It's amazing to me. I'm so humbled and blessed.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Latest Austin update

Go to my personal blog to get the scoop on what is going on here in Austin, TX. It's pretty cool!!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Is it alarming to anyone else all the hype and 'following' going on with our new President?

This 'savior' complex, whether it is self imposed or not, is terrifying if you ask me. Jesus is the Savior, there is none other.

So while Obama is my President, and I will be keeping him and his administration in my prayers--but I will not place my hope in him. There is a difference between respecting someone as your leader, and agreeing with what they're doing. I can disagree with him without disrespecting the position he is in. There is a difference.

I blogged about it a few times already in the past few days on my
personal blog (this link is to the entire month of January 2009--so you might need to scroll down to read them). I never talk about politics...but I had to get all of this off of my chest apparently.

To God be the Glory, and to Jesus His Son--there is no hope except in Jesus. I'm worried this Truth is getting lost in the hype of the media--and the world gets so wrapped up in the media so fast. It's scary.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coincidence? or God's faithfulness?

So--I'm going to try to keep this post as short as possible.

As you are probably aware, I am moving to Austin in less than 2 months. (I can't believe how quickly it has come!) All along, I've dedicated a lot of prayer to this process, the decision, and everything that goes along with it. I've prayed that the doors be either obviously open, or obviously closed. And so far, I've had nothing but open doors. I am completely open to closed doors--if I'm not supposed to go, I won't go. It's as simple as that. But I have yet to come across a closed door.

Recently, I had a family member whose opinion I regard very highly, tell me that they were uncomfortable (in a nutshell) with my move for reasons they were not sure of. The conversation was of course a longer one, but I'm not going to repeat it all here.

Previously, most of what I was hearing from my family was "We'll miss you, we don't want you to go...etc" That sort of thing. But this was the first thing I'd heard that I didn't know if I should take it as a caution or not. I consulted a pastor who I trust, and asked him what I should do. Asked him how to discern if this was something I should take into consideration or not--because I really felt as though I had nothing but green lights from God on this move. He suggested, wisely, that I fast.

So I did. I set aside a day (2 weeks ago), a Sunday, to fast. It was an incredible experience. Through this time, I recieved 7 pretty clear confirmations that God was in fact directing my move to Austin. So although I wasn't all that surprised by the outcome--I was humbled, and blessed beyond what I expected. Who am I that my God would come and meet me where I am. That He would show up and speak to me? I was really blown away.

Anyway, 5 of the confirmations were scriptural, 1 was from my pastor in his sermon that day, and 1 was from a book that I'm reading called "God's Leading Lady". The last one I really have to laugh about, because I see it more as God saying to me "In case you haven't picked up yet on what I'm trying to tell it is in plain english so you can't miss it" lol. I still laugh about it.

So anyway, in trying to keep this short...on the 3rd day after my fast (so we're up to Wednesday now) I was thinking about jobs in Austin...and what I'm going to do there...and what I really desire to be doing (which is something with music in a worship setting of some kind) and how, even though I have applied to other jobs my heart just isn't them and I'm not really hoping to get those jobs. They're just things I would be good at--not things I have a passion for. I started looking around on the internet, thinking "How am I ever going to find what I'm looking for on the internet?" Not expecting to, mind you. I started typing various keywords into Google, to do job idea led to another, which led to another and so on. And then, one thing that I typed in brought up a website which lists church jobs. I also noticed that there were just over 200 jobs TOTAL posted on this So, I didn't really expect to find anything. But, just for kicks, I typed in the zip code for where Ill be living initially in Texas, and what do you know? 2 jobs popped up. One of them particularly caught my eye. It was for a Worship Director at a small church plant, not far from where I'll be living. I read through the job description, and I just got more and more excited as I read. I honestly feel as though this job description could be written for me. I mean, I couldn't have written it better if I had been told to write one for myself. Seriously.

So--this brings me to my question which is the title of this blog. Coincidence? or God's faithfulness? Is it by chance that I found what could be my dream job only 3 days after fasting? I don't think so. I really do not believe that this was by accident. Does it mean I think this job is meant to be for me? No, I don't know yet if it is meant for me or not. Only time will tell that one, and only God knows. But even so--I have now seen, that the ideal job/ministry does exist for me--and now I know what to look for.

Will I be disappointed if I don't get this position? Yes, very much so. I am already planning in my head how best to do it, what I would need to do, how it would look, etc. But I also believe that if I don't get this particular position, it just means that there is something else out there God intends me to do. Something that will fit me better, or something similar anyway.

I won't go through all the reasons here why I think this job is for me--that will make this much longer than it already is--and remember I'm trying to keep this short! But I will say, that part of the appeal of this job (besides the fact that I already do much of the job description now--unpaid...and I would be paid for these things that I naturally do) is that it is part time. Why is that ideal? Because it would allow me to FINALLY make Mary Kay my full time job! Something I have wanted to do for years but have never had the opportunity. This could be my opportunity. Honestly, I had a hard time sleeping the first couple of nights after discovering this job because I was so excited about the potential for it all.

So anyway, I just thought I would share this experience because I really do not believe there is anything that we as the followers of Christ can do, besides remaining faithful to Him and doing exactly what He wants us to do, to please Him more. Period. If we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us--but also to remember that it also may not be what we expect. Even when we aren't faithful to Him, He is still faithful to us--figure that one out. In everything there is a blessing, even when it is hard to see. In everything there is a lesson, either good or bad. But He wants our faithfulness, and our devotion. And in giving Him those 2 things, I really believe that He wants to pour out the blessings on us. And I believe that He will too. Get ready for the floodgates to open up...because I can hear the water getting stronger on the other side--waiting to come rushing out.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Here I Am"

My friend Melissa posted this on her Facebook profile, and I thought it was so appropriate. It's a song by a popular band.

"Here I Am" by downhere

Sometimes your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes it comes in the Spirit's breeze,
You reach for the deepest hope in me,
And call out for the things of eternity.

But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say,

Here I am, Lord send me,
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began.
These broken parts you redeem,
Become the song, that I can sing


Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but you can.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The water test

So, last night I was tested with water. Tested with water? What am I talking about?

Well, I recently joined my local YMCA in order to start swimming regularly. I love swimming, and don't know why I didn't join earlier. But I didn't.

Anyway, I didn't have a long time last night because I had to go to play rehearsal, but I decided that swimming even for a short time would be better than not at all. I got in the pool, swam hard for 15 minutes, and then headed back into the locker room.

I jumped in the shower to take a real quick one. The water was so nice and warm--it felt great--especially since I think I'm fighting off a cold (big surprise). Just as I got my hair all soaped up, the water went freezing. And I mean freezing. I turned it all the way to hot, and it was still cold. However, everyone else's showers were still warm. How do I know? I could hear mom's remarking to their kids how nice it felt and that sort of thing, and I would think that I would have heard something if someone else had a cold shower too. Anyway, I stood there for a bit, hoping it was momentary and that the water would warm back up. It didn't. So I prayed that it would warm back up. And it did! For about 15 seconds. Then it went cold again. I kept standing there, praying for it to warm up again. And it didn't.

So, as I was trying to decide what to do (do I run to another shower? do I stick my head in the cold water?) I realized that there is a lesson in everything, both good and bad. So I asked God what it was He was trying to tell me. And you know what He said? "Do you trust me even when the water gets cold?" I responded that I did, and then quickly realized that trusting Him meant getting INTO the water even when it was cold. So, with gritted teeth I stepped under the spray of the cold water. And in a matter of seconds, it warmed up again. It still wasn't anywhere near as warm as I wanted it to be. But it was warm enough that I wasn't chattering (or turning blue) trying to rinse the soap out of my hair.

I walked out of that shower stall with a renewed sense of calling. Realizing that everything is not always going to be ducky. The right answer is not always going to be the easy one. The right answer is not going to be the comfortable one. However, if I step out in faith-knowing it is the right thing to do. God will honor that decision and at least make it bearable.

I know a lot of people (family in particular) aren't thrilled with me moving to Austin. I understand that, and I appreciate the emotions that go along with it. Trust me, I'm feeling them too. And if it were someone else moving, I'd probably be making a stink about it too.

This move isn't just about wanting to be someplace different, and experience something different-although that is a part of it of course. This move is about doing what I believe God is calling me to do. Going where God is calling me to go. And in that, He will honor my decision to move there. Is it going to be rosy and easy all the time? Nope, in fact I have a feeling some of my posts after moving there might even question the decision to do so. I have a feeling my mother will get more than one teary phone call from me saying how much I miss home and miss my family. It's going to happen, that is a fact. Cameron and my other friends in Texas will probably have an emotional basket case on their hands more often than any of us might expect. I hope not, but it could easily be a reality.

But if I don't do this, I'm afraid I might be missing out on God's best for me. I'm afraid I would miss the blessings that He intends to give to me. And at this point in my life, if I stay in Maine-that is like staying in the hot comfortable water. It would be easy. It would be familiar. And that doesn't necessarily make it wrong, but it also doesn't mean it is the best option. I just want to make sure I'm following God's plan for my life. We as Americans have become accustomed to such comfortable lifestyles that anything apart from comfort is considered wrong, or odd. Why would anyone want to live outside of utmost comfort? Well, as Christians, aren't we called to live extraordinary lives? Aren't we called to be different than everyone else? I'm not saying I want to live in a cardboard box, and I certainly hope and pray that my life is somewhat comfortable, for me, for my family when I have one. But I also pray that I don't become complacent. Complacency in this world is a bad thing, for I am only visiting here. My purpose on this earth is to make a mark for God, to make Him famous, and then to go home to live with Him in heaven. I don't want to waste my time here--because it will go by quickly.

The other piece of this, is that I need to know that you, as my family and friends, support me in this decision. And so far, I have had great support from you all. But as the time draws nearer to my move date, I'm going to probably need to hear more and more encouragement. So, unless you think I'm making a mistake--an irreversible one that is going to mess up my life forever--please just give me words of encouragement. Even if those words include the phrases "I'm going to miss you" or "I wish you weren't moving away" Those are okay, but need to be coupled with phrases like "I understand why you have to go" or "I believe this is where you are supposed to go for now" or "Go Katie, go!" or whatever you feel led to say.

Remember, that I can always move back home again if it really isn't working out. I can return at any time.

So anyway, I just wanted to share this experience with you all, and I hope it serves as an encouragement to you too. Not only in your own lives, but also in understanding why I'm making the decisions that I'm making.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My baptism!

Go to my personal blog to see pictures of my baptism in the ocean of Maine! :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Now that I'm moving...

I have to start to narrow everything down--and try to figure out which direction to head in terms of a job.

Moving without a job, is a whole new thing for me.  Not only have I never done that (the only time I moved a distance post-college was from Massachusetts to Maine--I had a job to move for)  But this, is major.  I'm moving to Texas.  This is no small thing.  And I don't know yet what I'm going to do!  I have plenty of ideas, and a few pathways that I'm exploring.  And I have plenty of time to narrow it down.  7 months is a long time, I know.  But I'm eager to feel like I have some direction.  I know God will provide it.  After all, He is the one who has made it clear this is where I am to move to.  Therefore I know He has a plan for me, and I trust Him completely.  I'm just looking forward to being let in on that information. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm moving

So--you should just go here to read what I just posted in my personal blog.  I feel as though I adequately explained what is going on there.

I'll probably elaborate a lot more as time goes on...but this will at least get you started.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Weird" Christians

Okay--before you jump on me and think I'm being judgemental based on the title of this post--hold on. This is an article that a friend sent to me--and I think this is exactly right.

I realize I might be opening up to some controversy by posting this, but I'd be interested to hear any one's thoughts on this article.



I'm tired of weird Christians.

I am tired of hearing people I work with say that God is talking to them like He talked to Moses at the burning bush or like He talked to Abraham. I'm weary of people saying God speaks directly to them about mundane matters of reasonable human choice, so that their choices of toothpaste and wallpaper are actually God's choices, and therefore I need to just shut up and keep all my opinions to myself until I can appreciate spiritual things. I'm tired of people acting as if the normal Christian life is hearing a voice in your head telling you things other people can't possible know, thus allowing you a decided advantage.

I mean, if all this were really happening, wouldn't these people be picking better stocks?

I'm weary of immature college students and high school kids going on and on about what God is saying to them as if they were up there with the authors of scripture. I've had it with Christian musicians acting as if every lyric they write is a message directly from God and free from the possibility of mediocrity or poor taste. I now hear preachers who preface their sermons with an appropriate selection from CCM, rather than with scripture. I mean, is there really that much of a difference?

I'm burned out on Christians telling me about the next big thing God is going to do, as if they really know. I'm tired of Christians predicting the future and being consistently, continually wrong, but acting like they weren't wrong. If you said that on New Year's Eve the east coast was going to fall into the ocean because of divine judgment and it didn't happen, you were wrong. Really, badly, embarrassingly wrong. So why can't you act like you are wrong? Why am I so sure you will have more absurd predictions next Sunday?

I'm worn out on people doing weird things that aren't in the Bible and saying it's the "leading of the Spirit." Falling over. Acting drunk. Jumping around like a wasp went down your dress. I'm tired of turning on the TV or the radio and hearing Christians making more noise than a riot at a mental hospital. I'm out of patience with Christian spirituality equaling some form of clown college graduation.

I'm seriously fatigued from constantly hearing reality explained as spiritual warfare between angels, Christians, demons, and various conspiracies. The drama of blaming everything from illness to bad credit to all your bad choices on the devil is getting old. I'm tired of people being delivered from demons when their problem is their own rebellion, stupidity, meanness, and determination to get their own way.

I'm tired of God being the bag man for everything ever done by some guy who didn't want to answer questions about right and wrong. I'm tired of God directing people to do things that, uh...actually are not all that ethical or are just plain evil. I'm tired of having to tell my kids that "Yes, so and so said God told them to do it, but that's not what Jesus should do or you should do." I'm annoyed at the attention weirdo Christians get, and the obligation I supposedly have to love them anyway.

Let me use some bad language: "Normal." Dare I bring up that word? Isn't the Christian life a constantly supernatural life? A frequently miracle-filled life? A life of divine direction, healing, and signs? A life where you (the Christian) know all kinds of things that ORDINARY people don't know?. A life where you (the Christian) are in on the future, in on the prophecies, under the ministry of anointed prophets who are plugged into the big plan? A life that is a battleground of constant demonic assault? Aren't Christians supposed to have supernatural knowledge of Kung Fu, and be able to hang in the air and.......well, maybe not.

Isn't the Christian life the "Victorious" life? The "Purpose Driven" life? The "Spirit Filled" life? The life with Christ living in you and through you? It's not a normal life, and it's not ordinary. Right? Do I get an "amen?"

Or maybe you are like me. You are an ordinary Christian living an ordinary life. You don't hear voices, see visions, or believe you are under constant attack by demonic forces. You may have some experiences that you call supernatural or miraculous, but they are the exception, not the rule. When you pray for people, things usually don't change; you change. You have no authoritative insight into what is going to happen in the future. You suspect that if you were filled with the Spirit, you would love God and people more, and do the right thing more often. You'd be more like Jesus. You wouldn't be running around in circles pointing out angels on the roof. The fruit of the Spirit would make you a person others would want to be around, not someone who would frighten animals and small children.

A Disclaimer, A Principle, and An Observation

Before the tomatoes start hitting the screen, I should open a window and let some air in.

I believe there are some really strange things that happened in the Bible. I don't doubt any of them. I believe in Satan, demons, and angels. I believe God speaks to people in any way He chooses. I have experienced God's direction in my life in a way that can only be explained as "God spoke to me." I don't hesitate to say it. But this happened once in my life. Miracles are real, and prayer in scripture is an invitation to ask God to do what only God can do in any way He chooses.

I accept without question that some very Spirit-filled people come off as weird in the Bible, in history, and today. I have no argument with anyone over the reality of spiritual gifts or spiritual experience. The Christian does have victory, power, purpose and revelation, all as gifts from God. I do not automatically write off any claim of spiritual experience that is different from my own.

My point is not to trash anyone who believes in any of these things. Not at all. My point is that "normal" Christian experience is increasingly seen as "bad" or "abnormal," while weirdness is increasingly seen as "normal" and proof that a person is really "spiritual." This shift has enormous implications for Christianity in its essence, its witness, and its experience in the lives of believers.

The principle that I would like to put forward is this: The supernatural character of Christian truth and experience does not remove the basic, normal, human experience of Christians. If "normal" humanity is eclipsed, Christianity ceases to be Biblical, truthful or helpful.

In some ways, I think we are being presented with a spiritual dichotomy similar to the Roman Catholic division between those in "holy orders" and your regular Christian in the pew. Protestantism refuted this view, and strongly reasserted the Biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. But now Pentecostal/Charismatic spirituality has brought evangelicalism to a similar situation--a division between the spiritual elite with their "supernaturalism" and the ordinary Christian who doesn't hear voices and see visions.

Now, that we are all calmed down, let me be very matter-of-fact. In my experience, Christians who go very far down this road of a "hyper-spiritual" experience rapidly become less useful in the service of Christ. Some become quite useless, even a hindrance and a detriment. Let me entertain you with three stories to illustrate--not prove--my point. All three are about individuals who were highly involved in hearing God's voice, experiencing personal spiritual warfare, seeking miraculous experiences in daily life, and getting words of prophetic insight about personal and world events. I won't overdo that description of each person. We'll assume it for the moment.

John, Matt and the Band

"John" came to work for us as a teacher and coach. He was a remarkably gifted guy, particularly in anything that involved people. He was a natural conversationalist, and had real skill in motivation and relationship-building. Before long, we had placed John in an administrative position where he could tell possible donors about our ministry. I had high hopes for John.

John was, however, one of the people I am discussing. Before long, it became apparent that John was pretty uncomfortable with the fact that our ministry wasn't casting out demons from students. His frustration grew. One day, over lunch, he told me that he was going to leave and find a ministry that would really "pray for" the students. John's comment struck me as stupid and arrogant, because our ministry depends on and practices prayer. It's just not the sort of prayer that John was advocating, prayer that really amounted to diagnosing problems as demon possession and ordering the appropriate demon around. I've never had much appreciation for people who identified straightforward problems as being evil spirits. It's not a matter of doubt on my part. It's a matter of being helpful to the person. John could have been helpful, but he wanted something else.

He left, which was his pattern. He's been from church to church, ministry to ministry, always pushing for more and more supernaturalism. And if you don't want to go his way, you're not going with God. In the meantime, a really talented guy is not putting his gifts to work.

"Matt" and I worked closely together during a good period of spiritual renewal in our ministry. We worked well together because Matt had a maturity and an appreciation for other Christians that I admire to this day. During the time we worked together, our ministry saw a lot of "harvest time:" good numbers, lots of professions of faith, many public testimonies of Christian experience. It was a good time. It could have been better, but I was pleased with what God was doing with our students. Matt was as well, but he wanted more.

In fact, it turned out that Matt and several other Charismatics wanted to see a LOT more than we were seeing. They wanted tongues. They wanted people falling on the floor. They wanted exorcisms. They wanted--according to Matt--"vomiting" of evil spirits. They wanted things to get "out of control"--in the Spirit, of course. Matt and company got more excited the more "Pentecostal" any meeting became. Of course, there is a considerable difference between enjoying the evidence of the Spirit's work and determining what kind of supernatural demonstrations we have to see next. Matt rejoiced in the present with hopes it would lead to a real "breakthrough." I thought we already had one.

Before long, Matt moved on, unhappy that our ministry was not as "open to the Spirit" as we should be. I couldn't help but wonder: Were we not open, or was Matt simply unable to accept the freedom of the Lord to stop short of the whole menu of spiritual gymnastics that he determined we had to see? Today Matt isn't in ministry at all, but hanging out with other people on the same supernatural fast track. Is this really what Christian service is all about? It seemed more like some kind of Pentecostal peer pressure.

One more story. A few months ago I brought in a very talented Christian band for a concert. They played great music with good lyrics. Then the leader of the group decided he needed to preach. For 45 minutes he went on and on about how anyone here could do miracles if he had enough faith. He talked about God telling him what to do in every decision. (All he had to do was go to church and lay on the floor till God spoke.) He said he'd seen lots of instant healings at their concerts. Then the big one. His goal was to raise the dead. Everyone could raise the dead if they just had enough faith. (Of course we had some kind of an invitation to verify these good intentions.)

Here was a guy who seemed normal, and in half an hour convinced most everyone in the room that he was nuts. And non-Christians in the room were justified in deciding this fellow was a loon. Giving glory and credit to God didn't matter nearly as much as impressing all of us with how "out there" he could be, and with the fact that we all ought to be "out there" as well.

I could tell these stories all day. The co-worker who had a real gift for evangelizing students, but eventually began making personal prophecies over all of them, including saying the world would end before they all turned twenty. The African student who told the whole school that because I didn't speak in tongues or get slain in the Spirit, I wasn't a true minister of God. The woman who wandered my neighborhood praying "against" the various demons that God had revealed to her were influencing our neighborhood. The intelligent young man paralyzed with fear of making any decision without a sign from God.

What is going on here?

Lord, Give Us A Sign

In a previous article about religious fanaticism, I told about the theory that Islamist fanatics were overcompensating for what they saw as the "absence" of Allah on the stage of history. I said that religious fanatics may tend to think this way. Thinking about this later, I remember a story I've heard many times about John Wimber. Seems that when the founder of the Vineyard movement became a Christian, he expected to see the miracles of the Gospels happening today. He asked a pastor, "When do you do the stuff?" "The stuff? What do you mean?" "The miracles. The healings. You know, the stuff Jesus did." It's a good story, and I think it gets at something vital in this discussion.

If you read the Bible you are, of course, struck by the presence of supernatural events. Many of these events, like the Exodus and the Resurrection, are central events in the drama of redemption. The Gospels record many miracles by Jesus, and tell us there were many more. Yet what place do miracles really play in the Bible? There are large portions of the Bible without much more than an occasional message from God to a prophet. Miracles are, actually, the exception and not the rule. I frequently point this out to skeptics who ask why the miracles in the Bible aren't happening today. If the Bible is read honestly, there were actually very few miracles over the course of history, and most of those were completely unknown to anyone except a handful of people.

When you look at the characters of the Bible there are many supernatural experiences, but have we properly put these in context? For instance, how often did God speak to Abraham? My friends tend to think it was common. In fact, it was rare. Very rare. Abraham's encounters with God were often years apart. While Moses is described as a person to whom God spoke face to face, we ought to remember THAT WAS MOSES. His burning bush experience isn't there to say that every person is going to have a similar experience.

Jesus performed many miracles, but he clearly taught that these miracles were "signs of the Kingdom" and were authenticating signs pointing to who he was. When skeptics demanded of him "signs" that would prove who he was, he bluntly said they'd had all the signs they were going to get, and to look at the resurrection if they wanted a real sign. Yet Jesus actually lived a remarkably normal life. He didn't heal everyone he met. He wasn't weird. He didn't run a three ring circus of miracles. His miracles and exorcisms stood out as unusual, and therefore as authentic.

The disciples also did some authenticating miracles, but even a beginning Bible student can see that the number and size of supernatural goings-on decreases enormously after the ministry of Jesus. By the time of the epistles, the kind of miracles and supernaturalism we find in Exodus or Luke is long gone. Certainly there are gifts, answered prayers, and a sense of God's power in the church. But Christians lead normal lives. There doesn't seem to be any idea in the New Testament that every day is a burning bush, a face-to-face conversation with God, or a series of demonic assaults repelled by special prophecies and prayers.

If I am right, then the tide of weirdness that has rolled over me amounts to insisting that God provide a "sign" to true believers. It's exactly as John Wimber said--it's the "stuff" they did in the New Testament, pushed through the grid of Christian history and theology, and finally interpreted by modern believers determined to show that the God of the Bible is still in business. It's a way of saying, "This is true, and we are going to prove it by living out all those miracles again today."

We've been Fleeced!

I think my first encounter with this weirdness was the whole business of "putting out a fleece." For those of you who didn't grow up so immersed in fundamentalism that you know what I am talking about, it basically amounts to getting God to give you a sign of your own choosing. A common version of the "Fleece" method might involve, let's say, whether to marry a particular guy who has proposed. The fleece might be, "If God wants me to marry Bill, he (Bill) will call me on Saturday morning and ask if I would like to go on a picnic." This sort of little test was considered harmless when I was a young Christian, but take a moment to look at what's really going on.

It's demanding a sign. It's being able to say "God told me!" At its root, is the desire to know that the God of the Bible is still speaking and acting now, and doing in my life what he did for Moses and Abraham.

So what is Benny Hinn doing when he tells the crowd that the people on the floor are being healed? What are some of my co-workers saying when they repeatedly say God is directing their lives with audible messages? What is happening when a Christian claims that a dream, vision, or prophecy has told him the future? In all these cases, God has proven Himself. He's given a sign that he is around and is still doing business.

I won't hesitate to say that I believe the vast majority of this exaggerated emphasis on supernatural experience is self-delusion. I don't believe God is talking to these people. I don't believe the prophecies are real. I don't believe the miracle stories are true. While I am willing to accept that God can do as He chooses without my permission, I think we don't accomplish anything by taking the route of accepting everything without critical judgment. We have to say what is really going on.

I think the appeal of this kind of experience is far more intense than we might imagine. It is promising a personal experience that proves God is real. My late friend Pat had two heart transplants. During the first, he had a vision of the cross that was immensely real. The experience banished all his doubts and made him a bold--and sometimes annoyingly intense--Christian. I didn't have the experience. Pat did, and it made him run on a higher level than I did. The supernaturalists want that experience on a daily basis. While I don't believe Pat was self-deluded, I can't say the same about most of these people.

"Normal" Christians are living without these "signs." They are living by faith in what the Bible says, and not looking to their experience to be a daily demonstration of God's still being around and in the miracle business. In comparison to those who live with daily miracles and prophecies, these normal Christians may have experiences that seem dull or even absent. It is no wonder that many "normal" Christians struggle with feelings of resentment, envy, or anger toward those Christians who claim constant miracles and manifestations of God's power. Part of my own weariness is from years of feeling second-class and left out of "real" Christian experience. Then I was angry at myself for faking it in an attempt to fit in. Now I'm tired of playing this game, and disturbed by what I see as the misrepresentation of the Gospel, and an insensitivity to the effects of weirdness on those in and out of the church.

How Long Will This Go On?

So before we all grow wearier of the topic than I am of the weirdness itself, what can we say?

I'll start by saying that the Bible's emphasis on walking by faith rather than by a constant diet of supernatural experiences needs to be understood clearly. I am constantly reminded that the weirdness has registered with many people as Biblical Christianity. We have to say that the Bible is a supernatural book, and God works in our world as He chooses, but faith is nurtured on the Word of God, and on what God has already done in Jesus. The weirdness looks at the events in the Bible as the first inning, and we are now playing out the game. In actuality, the Bible records the entire game and Christ wins! We are living out that victory now. The point is not the next big thing, but what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Always, being centered on the Gospel and on Christ himself is what we must strive to offer in response to the chaos currently gripping the church.

Further, I think we have to reclaim the fact that God wants us to use our minds to think and make reasonable choices. The Christian life is not a throwing out of the mind, but this is a primary tenet of weirdness. I don't just mean anti-intellectualism. I mean a rejection of a reasonable, human use of the mind. This glorifies God. Our prayer for guidance and truth from God should be fervent, but we should fervently say that God's Word of Truth usually comes to our minds through the normal methods. Nothing distresses me more about this entire business than the message to young people that their minds should be ignored and some esoteric, gnostic method of "hearing from God" should lead us in making life's important decisions.

How should we view our weird Christian friends? That is a complicated question. Given that I have said they are seeking signs contrary to scripture and are deluding themselves and others, you might be surprised when I say I think we should be generous in forgiving and tolerating much of this behavior. Many of our hyper-spiritual friends are sincerely hungry for God. They are following what they believe is a path that will remove their doubts and bring the power of the Spirit into their lives. All of us ought to desire genuine Holy Spirit power, and a true experience of God. I don't criticize my weird friends for wanting to have a life full of God!

I have to stop, however, when we reach the point of asking what is the source of true experience, what is the nature of that experience, and what are the results of a genuine experience? Jonathan Edwards, who I criticized in a previous piece for leaving the door open for fanaticism, wrote a book that can't be improved on: The Religious Affections. Charismatics often quote it. Few have read it. We need to hand out a lot of copies. With a generous--perhaps overly generous at times--heart, Edwards puts his head into the scriptures and shows what makes up true religious experience. His words are plain and true:

It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ all along hitherto. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of religion that ever have been since the first founding of the Christian church.

Discernment is what we most owe to our weirder brothers and sisters. Not condemnation or rejection, but discernment and simple truth. We need to know our Bibles, and be able to point out the truth of the Gospel. Our lives need to be shaped by Christ, and display evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification and renewing our minds and characters. Even those who have given themselves over fully to every kind of weirdness are usually well aware of their own need of what is real. Many solid Reformed Christians spent a sojourn in this camp, and starved to death while everyone pretended there was a feast.

Bishop Ryle put it plainly: "Feelings in religion are worse than worthless, unless they are accompanied by practice." Many of our sincerely deluded brothers and sisters know this, and are afraid of what this must mean. It will do them good to see in us genuine experience and a true, substantial working out of what Christ has done for and in us.