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
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”
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
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.’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.
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.
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