Posted in beth moore, contemplative, discernment, liver shiver, priscilla shirer, voskamp

Ladies, do you seek liver shiver experiences? Yearn for something more?

“I Want My MTV”

Thirty-four years ago, in 1981, MTV was born. The only problem was, few cable companies would carry it. “A 24-hour music station?” they said. “Ridiculous!” Music videos were new and a 24-hour music video channel was unheard of. The MTV creators knew teenagers and youth wanted this station and would watch it. So the creators of the station went around the Cable Company Big Wig gatekeepers and approached their target audience directly. The developed an ad campaign with some musicians on board (comprised of one simple exhortation to the teens they KNEW wanted the channel to stay alive. “Call your cable company and demand it. And the campaign “I Want My MTV” was born.

Along came Dire Straits thirty years ago and unleashed “Money for Nothing”. The opening guitar riff, pounding drum solo, and that falsetto “I Want My MTV” warble came together in a convergence of perfect timing and computer animated in a Grammy winning song & video. These were the golden years of MTV. As for the song “Money For Nothing”,

According to SongFacts, “This song is about rock star excess and the easy life it brings compared with real work. Mark Knopfler wrote it after overhearing delivery men in a New York department store complain about their jobs while watching MTV. He wrote the song in the store sitting at a kitchen display they had set up. Many of the lyrics were things they actually said.”

As the video begins, two moving men who deliver and install refrigerators and ovens, real work, see a video with the big haired pretty boy musicians and comment that they sure have it easy. They complained that everything comes to the musicians, money, chicks, acclaim, and the high life, just for a few hours’ play on stage.

Many would agree that slogging a fridge up a 4-floor walk-up is hard work and playing drums to screaming chicks is easy work.

What does MTV’s Money for Nothing/I Want My MTV campaign have to do with liver shiver experiential Christianity? Read on.

The experiential relationship with Jesus is the new(ish) thing nowadays. Some, like Sarah Young who wrote Jesus Calling 11 years ago, said that she read the Bible but yearned for something more, something tangible. Here is Ms Young–

Sarah Young wrote in her introduction (page xii), “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.”

Edward Steichen, Moonlit Dance Voulangis,
1909, Portland Museum of Art, ME

She got the “something more.” Young wrote about the feelings and experiences she had with the “Presence” during her devotional and prayer times,

Young wrote: “The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’ “

After a few years, it seemed like the yearning for Presence had caught on. Studying the bible, real work, was being set aside for a more direct, experiential kind of relationship. Piggybacking onto this female yearning for tangible, physical relationship with Jesus is the now 9-year-old DVD Be Still, teaching how to enter into the Presence of God and feel and experience “the Divine.” One of the founders of modern contemplative prayer and Presence-practice is Richard Foster, a mystic. He said of contemplative prayer.

“[W]e began experiencing that ‘sweet sinking into Deity’ Madame Guyon speaks of. It, very honestly, had much the same ‘feel’ and ‘smell’ as the experiences I had been reading about in the Devotional Masters”

Foster was highly influential to some of the more conservative sections of the faith, such as Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. You notice once again, the romantic and sensual language to describe the extra-special relationship these people believe they are having with Jesus. However it is a Jesus of their own imagination and the “Presence” – as they like to capitalize it – is something else indeed.

Priscilla Shirer has many studies out and is in a box office hit movie about prayer. Yet here, Priscilla Shirer “explains” the process of being still in your quiet devotional prayer time in this one minute Be Still clip from 2006. She advised putting on some soft Christian music and closing your eyes to screen out any visual stimuli around you. Then,

“allow the music to awaken in you the Spiritual side that we so often ignore. See what God wants to do with you in that time. I think He wants to have a personal experience with each of us. I think it’s kind of like a man and a woman that are intimate with each other. … and with your personal time with the Lord it’s the same thing. He is going to create in you an intimate time that’s going to be so different from anybody else.”

No. The relationship we have with Jesus the Christ is not like a husband and wife having intimate relations. No. But to many women, like Shirer, Young, and Voskamp, it is.

Moving ahead in time, nearly 5 years ago, Ann Voskamp wrote One Thousand Gifts, a book describing her tangible relationship with the ‘Divine”, liver shivers and all. She also wanted something tangible, physical, in her relationship with God.

I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin. To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God.

She got it what she yearned for as well, or in the end, more than she bargained for.

She continues with phrases like “the long embrace,” “the entering in,” “God as Husband in sacred wedlock, bound together, body and soul, fed by His body,” and “mystical love union” (213). (source)

This kind of liver-shiver romance language to referring to our relationship with Jesus reminded me of this:

And that seductive laugh, which sets the heart to flutter in my chest For when I glance your way, my words Dissolve unheard. Silence breaks my tongue and subtle fire streams beneath my skin, I can’t see with my eyes, or hear through buzzing ears. Sweat runs down, a shiver shakes Me deep — I feel as pale as grass: As close to death as that, and green, Is how I seem.

It is a lesbian poem by Sappho. She lived around 600 BC on the Island of Lesbos, Greece, literally where and why the island got its name. Sappho was quite famous at the time.

Soooo…. anyway, you see the problem with the current crop of writings using romance language. Jesus Calling, Be Still DVD, One Thousand Gifts and all the jane-come-latelies afterward promote a mystical, tangible union with Jesus during devotions or prayer. This kind of ‘mystical union’ presented as normal is having a drastic effect on today’s Christian woman.

Writer Sam Hendrickson wrote an excellent essay about the phenomenon titled

Liver Shivers, Goosebumps, and “I Have Peace About This Pastor”
Hendrickson said,

Having spent a significant time around charismatics (Assembly of God, and Pentecostals), there was clearly an understanding among many of them (including pastors and leaders) that a physical response (including manifestations like gooseflesh) indicated that “the Holy Spirit was working.”

The rest of the short article is good. Please check it out.

I’m sure you have heard many Christians say things like that. I know I have. Maybe someone somewhere felt the walls of a prayer room shake or bulge as the first century Christians did in Acts when they were praying (Acts 4:31). In those days, as John MacArthur explains in the Commentary note,

“a physical phenomenon indicated the presence of the Holy Spirit. The disciples could not comprehend the significance of the Spirit’s arrival without the Lord sovereignly illustrating what was occurring with a visible phenomenon.” 

And that was then, not so much now.

But what are women to think when their idols teachers such as Young, Voskamp, Shirer, Moore and others promote a physical union with Jesus that SHOULD be producing physical, tangible results? You get this from today’s time. Here is a woman on Facebook touting her relationship with Jesus in exactly the same way that the more famous women do. The trickle down effect has led to a devastatingly twisted perspective of our holy relationship with a Kingly Groom. She is discussing what happens to her in her “War Room”:

Plain and simple, nothing fancy. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to find a War Room of your own, even if it’s in the bathroom. I have experienced more goose bumps, felt the presence of the Lord in there, I’ve gone in anxious and have come out filled with peace, I’ve gone in there angry and have come out not. Yes, I pray all day long, but there is just something about going into a small room, no distractions, just you and the Lord and praying.

As for this “peace” one supposedly enjoys after the mystical union and sinking into the Divine, I think that also is a twist. Here, Mr Hendrickson also has good comments:

He opens his article with a quote from Ken Sande in The Peacemaker (2004, 3rd ed., Baker, Ch. 1 endnote, p. 299):

I have found that many Christians rely more on their own ideas and feelings than they do on the Bible, especially when Scripture commands them to do difficult things. In particular, many people seem to believe they can be sure they are doing what is right if they pray and have a sense of ‘inner peace.’ Nowhere does the Bible guarantee that a sense of peace is a sure sign that one is on the right course. Many people experience a sense of relief (‘inner peace’) even when they are on a sinful course, simply because they are getting away from stressful responsibilities.’

I would add that the relief can also come simply because a decision has been made and a direction has been chosen. I am not certain of the root of this false teaching historically, but it likely includes a misunderstanding of Philippians 4:6 – 7.

Mr Hendrickson goes on to remind us that tough decisions, uncertainty, upcoming persecution, or imminent death often does NOT bring about this much spoken of “peace”. The example he gives is Jesus praying in his own “War Room” in the Garden of Gethsemane.

My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; (Mt 26:38)

Not so peaceful. And yet no one in history or eternity had a more perfect, physical union with God than Jesus had. Yet He did not emerge from His prayer war room feeling peaceful. Righteous Lot prayed, but was vexed in his spirit (2 Peter 2:7). The entirety of the Book of Galatians demonstrates Paul’s white-hot vexation of spirit because false teaching had polluted his people at Galatia. David was sorely vexed even to his bones. (Psalm 6:2). Did these men not “experience” a true worship and relationship with the Lord? Did they not have close union and even the Spirit in and with them?

My point is three-fold. One is of course that when women describe a relationship with Jesus in such sensual terms, it is insulting, nearly blasphemous, and displays a twisted understanding of who He is. Women, don’t do it.

Secondly, women, if you’re seeking, engaging in, or describing your relationship with Him this way, you’re displaying a monstrous lack of discernment and ignorance of the relationship we already have with Him. Ladies, we have the Holy Spirit inside us. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 John 4:16). He is in there, inside our body, our blood, our DNA. Somehow, the sovereign Lord of the universe indwells us as a deposit of the guarantee of our relationship we have with Jesus. How much closer do you want to be?

We know by faith the Spirit is in us. We know by Faith that our Lord listens to everything we say and sees everything we do. (Hebrews 4:13). We know by faith that He already loves us with a perfect, eternal love. (John 3:16). We know by faith that all He does for us is for our own good and His glory. (Romans 8:28). We know by faith He is our Groom, priest, friend, brother, and master.

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:23)

Look, sisters, at what you already have! And you women want more!?

Third, back to Dire Straits. At root of this sensuous, experiential faith, in my opinion, is laziness. Not only do they seek the sensual, but they are lazy. As the Kendrick Brothers said of how they process out their movie theme, the Lord downloads it to them directly. Beth Moore said she receives whole books by a force that compels her hand across the page. Priscilla Shirer likes to close her eyes and let the Lord have His way with her. It is easy to sit in a room and simply close one’s eyes and veg out to soft music and passively experience whatever you want to experience. I do that in the massage salon. Not when I study to seek the Lord’s face. Peaceful prayer room experiential liver shiver Christianity is not the real slogging work. Ask the refrigerator guys.

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Lemme tell ya them guys ain’t dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb.

I gain insights into who my Lord is with my eyes open. I sit in a brightly lit kitchen and I read the Bible. I look at Atlases, commentaries, history books. I take notes. No force delivers insights of who He is. No warm mists appear. I “smell” no experiences. I feel nothing heavy on my skin.

We gotta install microwave ovens custom kitchen deliveries 
We gotta move these refrigerators we gotta move these color T.V.’s.

Ladies, if you possess the greatest treasure in the universe yet yearn for something more, you ain’t doing it right. Or maybe you don’t have Him to begin with.


Contemplatin’ Nothin and your Candles for Free
By Elizabeth Prata. With thanks to Mark Knopfler

I shoulda learned to light them candles
I shoulda learned to breathe the breath prayer
Look at that mama she sittin’ on the pillow
Girl, I should redecorate my chair

And she’s up there, what’s that, mantra noises?
She singing in the moonlight like a wild anointee
Oh that ain’t studyin’, that’s the way you do it
Get your warm mist going, and don’t judge me.

I gotta study Jeremiah, Ruth, Ecclesiastes
I gotta open these books, gotta learn this theology
With open eyes, studyin’ hard,
These liver shivers, they ain’t for me

That’s the way you do it.


A trip down memory lane-

Dire Straits – Money For Nothing / I want my MTV

And just for fun, the ever-brilliant “Weird” Al Yankovic with
Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies

Posted in challies, conflict, doctrine, voskamp

In which Tim Challies realizes Ann Voskamp is a real person

Canadian pastor and writer Tim Challies is a book reviewer. He runs a very successful and widely read website at Many people, including myself, read his book reviews of Christian books with eagerness, because he is loving, credible, and discerning. As for discerning, Tim wrote the book on discernment, literally. He is a good writer and a gentle Christian even when he writes a negative review.

Last week Mr Challies reviewed Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts“. He gave it a ‘not recommended,’ stating at the first paragraph of his three paragraph conclusion, “Though One Thousand Gifts is not without some strengths, in its own subtle way I believe that it can and will prove dangerous, at least to some. Many will read it, embrace their need for gratitude, and genuinely be more grateful to God. This is well and good. There are many books that contain valuable takeaways even if they also contain significant weaknesses. It doesn’t make you a bad person or an immature Christian if you’ve read it and enjoyed it. But perhaps you’d do well to make sure you haven’t bought into it all the way.” He goes on to praise its strengths but overall he cautions the discerning reader because the book fails to “more clearly display the power of Scripture to show us our shortcomings and display the gospel’s power over them.” He noted what many have noticed, the book’s drift toward Gnosticism.

Okey dokey then.

Then a day later Mr Challies received an invitation to lunch at Mrs Voskamp’s house, two hours away. Gulp. Having to face her as a person so shortly after his review of the book, he wrote a retraction essay titled, “In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp’s Forgiveness…

He wrote, “Having said all of that, something happened inside me when I saw Ann’s name in my inbox, and that’s what has compelled me to write this little article. Seeing her name brought a sudden and surprising realization and with it a twinge of guilt and remorse.”

He makes it clear he had no moral qualms about not recommending the book, but rather that his guilt lay in the fact that he perceived that he treated a sister in the faith badly. He said, “Yet in my review I had treated her as if her words mean less than mine, as if I was free to criticize her in a way I would not want to be criticized.”

Now you lost me.

Perhaps I am a mean and unloving person, insensitive to the more nuanced expressions of empathy and oblivious to the tender affections emanating from others. I must be, because I read nothing in Mr Challies review that lacked sensitivity or indicated he had approached the task of reviewing a sister’s book with anything less than full bore mental acuity tempered with affection and mindfulness of our sanctified position before Christ.

Therefore when I read the forgiveness essay I was dismayed for two reasons. First, because of what he wrote here:

“Looking back at my review, and perhaps even more, the process of writing it, there are at least two things that concern me. The first is that I would have said certain things differently had I known that she and I might soon be sharing a meal together.”

Of course we would write or say things differently if we knew that we’d be facing the person within the next week. That’s the problem. The point is NOT to write or say things differently if we knew we would be seeing them the next moment but to prayerfully approach the task and write as the Spirit leads, speaking the truth in love. And then standing by it. Mr Challies wrung his hands over language he intimated he thought borders on hate-speech regarding Ms Voskamp’s literary style, here, “There is clearly a kind of appeal to it so that those who don’t hate it, love it.”’

Seriously? A commenter stated “I read your review of her book and found nothing wrong with it. You, of all people, do not need to worry about sounding unloving. I sure hope Rob Bell never invites you over for a BBQ.”


Far be it for me to say one way or another how a person feels about things they have said or done, and obviously Mr Challies felt remorse and so did what he did, which is publicly seek forgiveness for language he felt was too strong. I do not feel it was unloving language, but he did. So be it. It was his subjective call to make.

But the second front on which I felt dismay for this public hand-wringing is based on a more objective observation: the general climate of discernment within Christian circles. Christians these days are already assaulted with appeals to never say anything bad about anyone for any reason, especially against teachings a fellow believer brings- even if the teachings are false! The climate is to stay ‘unified’ and remain above the fray so as to avoid conflict. His forgiveness essay sets those of us back who do not hold to that ecumenical, let’s all get along at all costs mentality, and in a big way.

Later, in the comments section, a Reg Schofield commented, “I’m a bit confused here Tim. The review itself was not a direct attack on her as a person but on what you perceived as her weakness in how she handles scripture and certain views of the gospel narrative. Now it is true that what one writes is a reflection of ones soul but if what is written shows some problems, they have to be taken to task. I have read enough of the book to see some truly troubling elements, which she needs to be called out on. Any writer who get published must be willing to be scrutinized. I don’t see the need to ask for forgiveness. So if Joel Osteen sends you a e-mail to do lunch, are you going to do the same.”

Mr Challies responded, “I guess that is exactly part of the problem; in my mind I was equating the Joel Osteen’s of the world and the Ann Voskamp’s of the world–lumping all “outsiders” together. There are some people who deserve the harshest kinds of rebuke from Christians; there are others who do not. I have not been careful enough to distinguish between them.” And later, he wrote, “I would want to draw a distinction between T.D. Jakes and Ann Voskamp. T.D. Jakes subscribes to heretical theology; I have never seen anything from Ann Voskamp that would label her a heretic. That’s a crucial distinction!”

No it isn’t. The implication he makes here is that we musn’t say negative things about believers who are bringing false doctrine. It may not be what he intended, but that is the implication.

There are many examples in the bible of speaking plainly to and in front of believers who need correction. I am NOT saying it isn’t good to examine our language occasionally to see if we could be serving Christ better with our words. But feeding into the current cultural mentality that we must pick and choose words so as to never hurt another’s feelings harms the stand we must sometimes make for Christ. It elevates feelings above the advancement of the Kingdom. Let’s contrast what I just said with the biblical examples:

Picture Paul sitting at his desk in Canada. He gets an email reporting that there is sexual immorality in one of his churches. He writes back, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”… a couple of verses later he called for them “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor 5:1-2, 5)

He called the people of the congregation arrogant! Paul told them to put the man out of fellowship so satan could deal with him! Now let’s picture Paul receiving an invitation to sup with the perpetrator of the immorality the next day, and this prompts him to write what Mr Challies wrote: “I did poorly here and I can see that I need to grow in my ability to critique the ideas in a book even while being kind and loving to its author.”

Or Galatians 2:1 where Paul said this: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.”

How dare a fellow believer say another believer is condemned! But Paul did, and he didn’t retract it later just because he was invited to have a sandwich at Peter’s house. Paul made no ‘crucial distinction’ about the person he said it to. And it was language that was a lot rougher than Mr Challies. Yet it is in the bible. Paul said what he said so that doctrine would be upheld, and so that the watching believers, and Peter himself, would return to purity. Did Paul second guess his language, wondering as Mr Challies wrote, “…I can’t deny that somewhere in my mind lurks this insider and outsider kind of thinking which somehow encourages me to extend greater courtesy to one group than another”?” Yet there is no doubt that Paul loved Peter, and extended every courtesy to him.

Peter charged Ananias, a fellow believer, with having a heart filled with satan. He charged Sapphira, Ananias’s wife with the same, being a liar.

Paul wrote to Timothy, saying pastors of the church Hymenaeus and Alexander were “blasphemers”. (1 Timothy 1:19b-20).

Paul wrote to Timothy again, charging Hymenaeus and Philetus with being irreverent babblers whose false teaching will spread like gangrene and upsets the faith of some. (2 Tim 2:16-19). Strong language!

Paul did not later retract and write the following: “There is value in engaging the ideas in any [teaching], and especially a [teaching] about this Christian life, but the desire to uphold truth has no business coming into conflict with love for another person. Truth and love are to be held together as friends, not separated as if they are enemies. In my desire to say what was true, I failed to love. I ask [Hymenaeus and Philetus’s] forgiveness for this.”

And herein lies the problem. The current cultural Christian mentality is that speaking against false doctrine is unloving.

In some cases, we are called to conflict. Conflict is loving, when it has the ultimate goal of restoring some to the faith, or of warning others of false doctrine. Mr Challies’ statement above unfortunately advances the false notion that conflict is to be avoided at all costs.

Have we all become so sensitive that we receive the gentle words Challies utters as hate speech to be immediately retracted on the flimsy premise that we will soon have a BBQ together? Yes. And here is the result.

Beth Moore ‏tweeted, “Thank you for this important piece. Sometimes I think God’s point with us is more toward mutual esteem than agreement.”

Mutual esteem is more important to God than Christian agreement on doctrine? Esteem?

Doctrine always brings disagreement. Avoiding it means you avoid standing on it. Period. But the ‘let’s all get along crowd’ is going to leap on Mr Challies’ highly public hand wringing, forgiveness sensitivity training exercise and run with it. You mark my words.

To be clear, I am not for conflict as a rule. In a verse before the one where Paul charged Hymenaeus and Philetus with being irreverent babblers, Paul wrote, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:141-5).

The key is rightly handing the word of truth- and knowing when a quarrel advances the kingdom and when it doesn’t. Paul was much more straightforward and blunt in his charges against believers, and Mr Challies is anything but blunt. It is my opinion Mr Challies’ forgiveness essay, as gentle as it was to begin with, rather than advance the call for discernment and exhortation against falsity, ultimately harms it.