H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Not Like A Glass Of Water...
Have you ever known a genuine conspiracy theory buff? You know the sort I mean right? The ones who believe the government is covering up something - maybe aliens at area 51, or maybe the moon landing was a hoax, etc. For the sake of this illustration it doesn't really matter what their particular poison is, it only matters that you recognize a few things about such a person.

First of all no matter what you talk about, their particular fixation always enters into it. Did you buy milk this morning? Yeah, well listen man, I never drink milk from the store because the government is putting stuff in the milk. Lotta snow this morning? Yeah man, the Republicans are cloud seeding the U.S. in order to hinder the Obama administration. Okay, maybe that's a bit far fetched for most, but my point will ride on it even if it were more subdued, my point being: these people are so full of their conspiracy theories that these theories end up influencing everything they think and do.

We can, with tongue in cheek, pronounce the classic double entendre upon them when we say, "They are full of it."

We mean by that that they are at once "full of bunk" and again, that they are overly abounding in conspiracy theory stuff.

To use another illustration, the father loves his only child who was born blind, and cares for him, and always looks out for him, only to one day reach back into the car to get something, and fail to see his little one walk into the street, and you know the rest - the grief that grips this man's heart can only be described in terms like "overwhelming" or "incapacitating" - there is no balm stout enough to sooth this man's grief and remorse - he is, as we say, filled with grief, or filled with remorse.

When we use the word "fill" here - we are not suggesting that the conspiracy theory dude's life was like a cup that had to be emptied of normal things in order to be filled with conspiracy theories. We are not saying that the grieving father could not grieve until he first emptied himself of everything else. We are just using the expression as a way of painting the level of saturation - it is an entirely saturated situation.

I am using "fill" then in the same way that I might say that wind "fills" a sail, I mean that the wind exerts itself on every part of the sail, so that the sail conforms, as much as it is able, to the pressure the wind is putting on it.

The word the scripture uses to translate "fill" is πληρoω. It is pronounced: Play-raw'-oh, and it is the word that scripture uses (or derivatives of this word) when it is commonly describing being full of or being filled with/by the Holy Spirit.

When I first read the scriptures and learned that I was commanded by God to be being kept filled by/with the Holy Spirit (c.f. Ephesians 5:18) I sort of pictured that as a command to become a Spirit controlled zombie, and that I would enter into this state of pious zombification by "emptying myself of me" at which point I was certain I would receive some sort of mystical experience where by I felt in some tangible way, the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit.

I mention that because I know that my readership is wide enough (and thanks to Blogger™) random enough that some will be reading this who are trying to be filled with the Spirit, but haven't the first clue what that really means, or how to go about doing it.

I will explain it this way: Being filled with the Spirit simply means allow the conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit to saturate the choices you make. If you know a thing is sinful, you obey the conviction that to pursue that would be sin, and you instead pursue what is righteous. If you know that failure to do something would be likewise sinful, you obey the same conviction and do it.

Now when I say conviction I don't mean that you receive some kind of mystical impression, or any such nonsense. I mean that you simply are convicted that this one thing is sinful in the same way you are convicted that the sky is blue. You don't get zapped by some sort of "sky is blue" impression, nor do you go about like an open antenna trying to pick up "spiritual" signals. As you become familiar with God's word (through the reading of it) you become more and more familiar with what God expects from you. The Holy Spirit convicts your conscience that you should or should not do something, and so long as (and is as much as) your conscience is biblically informed, all you need to do to "walk in the Spirit" is walk without transgressing, or suppressing, your conscience. Being "filled" with the Holy Spirit means only that you are consciously examining your actions in light of your biblically informed, and Spirit provoked, conscience. You don't have to "empty" yourself of anything in order to be filled by the Spirit, but you do need to be obedient. When you resist the Holy Spirit's conviction, the bible calls that quenching the Holy Spirit - like dousing a fire; or more pictorially, like dousing the Holy Spirit's conviction by justifying yourself in what you do that is contrary to what you ought to do. When you quench the Holy Spirit, you are grieving the Holy Spirit, and we are told not to do that.

I know, I know. Some people really, really want an experience. They look to the passages in scripture where there was a present and experientially measurable manifestation of the Holy Spirit (the building shook! etc.), and using these passages from the book of Acts they teach that the Holy Spirit always works, or at least prefers to work, through manifesting Himself in some profound way. It can happen that something unusual will happen in your life, perhaps more than once, but again, perhaps not at all. But such phenomenon has nothing whatsoever to do with the command to be being kept filled by the Holy Spirit.

So if you every find yourself wondering what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, it just means to keep your affections such that you are always obeying the convictions of a biblically informed, and Spiritually provoked, conscience.

Note: One of the flakiest things I see some Christians doing is interpreting their own stray thoughts as promptings from the Holy Spirit. I blame it on the sad habit many exercise when they talk with other Christians about "spiritual" things. Pretend that you overhear this side of a phone conversation:

"Yeah, Marge? Hi, it's me Pam. I was just sitting here and I suddenly felt pressure from the Lord that I should call you..."

Here is what is really happening, Pam has become convinced that everything and anything that happens in her life might be a sign from God. She is daydreaming, or whatever, and suddenly a stray thought about Marge comes into her head. She then interprets this to mean that God wants her to call Marge.

Do you see the problem with that? God sent an angel to tell John the Apostle what the vision he had seen (c.f. the book of revelation) meant, but when God impressed something just as "God ordained" on Pam, He decided to leave it open to interpretation so that Pam has to rely upon her best, subjective, guess. Follow that kind of reasoning to its abusrd conclusion (God "told" me to marry you, or alternately (why not?) divorce you!) Once we set our own subjectivity as the traffic cop that decides what "impressions" are from God and which are just stray thoughts - we embark upon a road that leads to chaos.

God doesn't speak to me in stray thoughts and questionable impressions. He speaks to me through His word, and through conviction that is provoked by knowledge of His word. To be filled with God's Spirit then is not to be filled with my own stray thoughts that I think God is sending me, nor is it to be waiting on, or being led by some sort of mystical experience or experiences - it is simply this: you determine to do what you know God intends for you to do, and you know what God intends for you to do by informing your mind and your conscience through reading (and correctly undertanding) scripture.

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posted by Daniel @ 12:38 PM  
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