Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Impressions and the Lord's Leading

Over at Grace for Sinners, Matthew Sims has a post on the trouble with following impressions as "God told me". He writes:

I place very little weight on subjective impressions. Let me end with a brief story. As many of you already know (OK probably all of you know because I’ve posted about it, tweeted about it, and have advertisements about it on my blog), I wrote a book A Household Gospel. During this process, I completed a lot of research. I read other authors who independently publish; I researched small publishing houses that come alongside independent authors; and I also researched literary agents. I saw two reoccurring currents in this research.

First, a huge percentage of Christian authors advertise, share, and tell others that God told them to write their book. Second, publishers and literary agents hear this schtick all the time and it makes no difference in their decision to support the book project. Can you imagine the gall? God telling the authors to write these books and the publishers and agents are ignoring God’s clear direction? There must be wires crossed somewhere, right?

This is a classic example of placing too much emphasis on subject impressions. Let me explain how this might look in my experience. I felt a strong urge to write a book on this topic. Family and friends encouraged me to put pen to paper. Trusted outside counselors also encouraged me to write on this topic. On a few occasions, I was asked “out of the blue“ to contribute an article on this topic at another blog. All of this adds up, right? God must be telling me to write this book, right? Wrong. I had the freedom to write or not to write A Household Gospel.

I had a conversations with a family member about this very topic. They were telling me God told them to do something. They just knew it. I asked how. They said they felt it in their gut. I responded half tongue-in-cheek and half seriously, “How do you know that’s not the Taco Bell you ate last night?” Strange fire in my belly indeed. I do listen to my gut, but sometimes I don’t. I don’t bind myself to anything but the revealed word of God.

The bottom line is we need to stick to God's Word. God is in control of all things and sometimes open doors can be a clear indication that we should walk through them. In this respect it is the providence of God's hand leading and guiding, but we need to use wisdom and discernment to make a decision at the moment.

We certainly don't want to fall into the trap of saying that God cannot lead and guide, but far to often we don't see this as through the clear commands of Scripture and godly exercise of wisdom, and dedicating matters to prayer and the counsel of others. Instead, many Christians go "with their gut" and then sanctify is with "God's leading".

Read the rest of Matthew's post:

Impressions, "taco bell theology" always reminds me of Dickens' Christmas Carols when Scrooge sees Marley and remarks how the senses can be misled by even an upset stomach.


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