In this episode: Listening to that little voice inside you, how “Fear of Man” can wreck your life, and why you should let people ask you extremely personal questions. Interesting […]
Why You Need "Big Brother", Criticism vs Discernment, P.P 6.6: Community – XtianNinja's "Of Interest"
In this episode: Listening to that little voice inside you, how “Fear of Man” can wreck your life, and why you should let people ask you extremely personal questions.
– Article: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/from-gods-to-gallows
– Pilgrim’s Progress Free Book: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/the-pilgrims-progress
– Support XtianNinja OM: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=7XJFMCJKESBEG
Hello, today is Friday, July 16th, 2021 and welcome to “Of Interest”.
My name is Al Descheneau, also known on Twitch as Christian Ninja where, every week, at noon, from Sunday to Thursday we’re working together to build an open, encouraging and meaningful online family through gaming, real talk, and God’s Truth.
This podcast is just one part of what I’m up to, and you can find links to everything else: like my free Books, Livestream Chats and Gaming, YouTube videos, my private Discord channel and more – at ArtoftheChristianNinja.com.
In this week’s episode I’m going to share an interesting idea about listening to your conscience, an interesting article about fear of man, and continue our interesting study of Pilgrim’s Progress by exploring the part of the sixth chapter where Christian talks with Piety, Prudence, and Charity.
Just quick announcement before I jump in.
First, I’m excited to report that recently reached a Twitch goal where I’ve hit and passed my July goal of 200 followers, have now reached 3000 views, and if I just need 3 more subscribers in the next two weeks to hit that goal! I’m also currently hitting an average of 10 viewers per stream – and the Discord has grown to over 50 members – which, even though it sounds small is actually pretty good for a newbie like me.
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Thank you for listening, God bless, and I hope you have an awesome day.
An Interesting Idea
You know that little voice in your head, or in your gut, or wherever you keep it that occasionally sends a little signal telling you that the thing you are currently thinking of is either a good idea that you should get on right away, or a bad idea that you need to walk away from? We all have that, right?
You’re sitting around doing whatever and suddenly, out of nowhere, an idea pops into your head, and you think… huh… maybe I should do that. Or you’re about to walk into a room, or type something into the internet, or get into the car, or open your mouth to say something… and somewhere inside of you there’s a little voice that says, “Hey, that’s not a good idea.” It makes you pause, right? Now you’re sitting in your chair, or standing at the door, hands hovering over the keyboard, and you’re having a little argument with yourself.
That little voice says, “Nope. Don’t do that.” – but you say, “Well, it’s going to feel good though. I’ll get something off my chest. I’ll be able to scratch that itch. That person will finally hear what they need to hear. Or, Don’t worry, it won’t go like it did last time. I’ve learned my lesson.”
And the little voice says, “Nope.” – But you think, “Yeah, but I’m smarter now. I’ve given it some thought. I worked hard this week and deserve it. I know lots of people that do that thing and are fine. It was a bad idea last time, but this time it’ll be different.”
And the little voice says, “Nope.”
I know you’ve lived this scenario. In fact, I know you’ve lived it over and over. You’ve written texts and e-mails, that the moment you hit send, you immediately wished you could take it back. You’ve gone to the store for one thing, got excited, bought something, and the next day you’ve looked at it and thought, “Wow, that was stupid.”
You’ve gone out with someone you knew was going to be a problem for you, woke up the next morning, and thought, “I knew it was a mistake, and now I’m in trouble. Why did I do that?”
You’ve been tired at the end of a long day, surfing through thumbnail after thumbnail on whatever streaming service, getting more bored, thinking you should just go to bed, or read that book you started, or go for a walk, or call someone you haven’t seen in a while… and then come across some thumbnail that tweaks your interest – but not a good interest. You know that if you click that, you’re not only going to have to lower the volume, and keep an eye on the door, but what you’ll see is going to stick in your brain in a bad way… because you’ve done this before.
And all the while, that little voice is there saying, “Hey. Don’t. C’mon. Let’s get up and go somewhere else. Let’s get out of the store. Let’s put down the phone.”
I’m convinced that you and I need to get way better at listening to that little voice because it’s saved our bacon more than a few times. But, here’s the thing. When you’ve listened to that voice and walked away – there is no discernable, numerical, chartable, visible way to prove it was a good idea. By definition, it’s hard to track the consequences of not doing something. But, I’m convinced that there have been dozens of times in my life, and probably in yours, that when you listened to that voice and walked away, you saved yourself from piles and piles of misery.
Some call it “inner speech”. Some call it your moral compass, or your gut instinct. Freud would have called it your Ego mediating the debate between your Id and your Super-ego.
I think the best thing to call it is your “conscience”. Every human being has the gift of a God-given conscience that helps them understand right and wrong without ever having been given moral instruction, reading the bible, or learning the laws of the land. Sure, it’s not perfect. I can already hear some of you saying, “The doctrine of total depravity states that no one without the regenerating power of sanctification can hope to do any good thing! Stop telling people to listen to their consciences because they’re going to get their consciences confused with their feelings and appetites and it’s going to lead them straight to Satan’s backyard! You can’t trust yourself, or anyone else, and the only guide for life is the Bible and anyone who says different is a damnable heretic!”
To you, I say, calm down, bro. It’s a podcast, not the Diet of Worms…
Yes, I totally agree that our moral compasses wobble more than they should, that our inner voices are greedier than they should be, that our instincts are more animalistic than are good for us, that our Ego prefers our Id’s appetite over our Super-ego’s rationality – but, according to the Bible, especially Romans 1 and 2 and 9, an unregenerate person’s conscience works just enough to give them a grasp of right and wrong, innocence and guilt, honour and shame. Yes, everyone’s conscience – saved and unsaved – needs to be repaired by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Bible, but the Bible is absolutely clear that everyone has a conscience as part of God’s common grace.
So, what I’m saying today – in fact, what I want to implore you to do today – — my simple, little message is this: listen to your conscience and have the courage, tenacity, humility, and strength to obey it. I want you to get into the habit of pausing and listening, purposefully responding to, that little Geiger counter, that little radar beep, the yellow and red flags, that keep going off in your head. Because it’s going to save you a lot of grief – and I’m convinced – will strengthen your relationships, and lead you closer to God.
The problem is that a lot of you listening today have told that little voice to shut up so many times, are so used to arguing with it, are so used to going with your first instinct, that you can barely hear it anymore. It’s going to take you more work, but I’m asking you to try your best to hear it, and then to try following it and see what happens.
Consider those examples I gave: Listen for it next time you’re in a store. You’ve gone for a specific item – eggs, milk, whatever – and you see something that tweaks your interest, kicks off your appetite, and that you instinctively reach for. Take a second to listen to see if something in you is saying, “Hey, no. Don’t. It’s not a good idea.”
Listen for it next time you are writing a text or an e-mail, and you type a sentence and that little voice goes, “Hey, that’s going to be taken the wrong way.” Or “That’s harsher than it needs to be” or even “Hey, you’re not in a good headspace to send this right now. Walk away.”
Listen for it next time you are angry, lonely, tired, and you think, “Do you know what would make me feel better? Stuffing my face until I’m sick. Or, looking at some porn. Or, yelling at someone I love about something trivial. Or, turning off all forms of communication and sitting in a pool of my own misery until I’m forced to leave because I have to go to work.”
Something in you is going to say, “There’s a better way.” And I want you to listen to it. It’s going to be hard at first, but I promise you’ll feel a lot better if you do.”
An Interesting Article
This week’s Interesting Article is entitled, “From Gods to Gallows” and it’s by Marshal Segal, at DesiringGod.org – and it’s all about what Christians Theologians call “The Fear of Man”. I say “Christian Theologans” because I don’t often hear this phrase used by almost anyone else. You don’t hear it in culture, or in your average church conversation. Most of the time the person using the phrase “Fear of man” is a bible teacher – but I think it would be a good thing for everyone to start using it more and more, because it is something everyone struggles with.
Let me read the first paragraph to give you a flavour of what the article is about: “Anyone who has fought the fear of man knows that the fight is rarely simple. The war is usually less like lining up head-on in an open field, and more like fending off guerillas in the jungle at night. Temptation comes from every side — through approval, praise, recognition, influence and through rejection, criticism, bitterness, hatred. The fear of man wields many weapons, and wears many disguises — sometimes luring and other times frightening, sometimes comforting and other times intimidating, sometimes flattering and other times shaming. Perhaps no one has experienced the two extremes of temptation to people-pleasing — fatal applause and devastating enmity — like the apostle Paul. And perhaps never did he experience the two in such close proximity as he did in the city of Lystra.”
That’s what the rest of the article concentrates on and draws illustration from: The time when Paul and Barnabas walked into the city of Lystra, saw a man with crippled feet, talked to him about Jesus, saw his faith, and God worked a miracle to let him walk again so the people of Lystra would know that these two missionaries had a message and connection to God that no one else they’d ever seen before.
But – it didn’t really work out that way. The crowds see the miracle and immediately some dude shouts, “Hey! They’re gods! It’s Zues and Hermes, let’s all freak out and worship them, and grab some animals and sacrifice them right now!” This, understandably, wasn’t what Paul or Barnabas was shooting for, so they tore their clothes, and started yelling that they were just men and that this was a work of the One True God. Still, almost no one was listening – well, that’s not quite true, because there was one group. Some Jewish leaders who were following them around were listening – and used this as a way to get the crowds to turn on Paul, drag him out of the city, and stone him almost to death.
I think this story is well chosen when talking about fear of man, because it’s a good example of how sideways things can go whenever other people are involved – especially crowds.
When it comes to groups of people, the thing that always jumps to the forefront of my mind is a quote from the movie Men in Black. Let me play it for you, because Tommy Lee Jones delivers it way better than me:
This section of Acts absolutely proves that. But what’s the author’s point. Well, first he wants us to see how many ways fear of man jumps into the story. The crowds are super impressed with Paul and Barnabas. They’re enthralled and full of praise – and both of them knew that their next words were going to turn the whole crowd against them. Who wants to stand in front of a bunch of really excited people, all super happy about whatever they’re celebrating, and say, “Nope. You’re all wrong. Your ideas are wrong. Your conclusions are wrong. Your activity is wrong. And God hates what you’re doing so quit it.” No one wants that job. Why? Fear of man.
Imagine walking past a Pride Parade, or the floor of the Stock Market, or a fast food restaurant, or into Parliament, or a bar full of biker gangs, being handed a microphone, dragged onto stage, and be told, “Ok, tell everyone what you think of what we’re doing here!”
Would you? Doing so might get you in all kinds of trouble – maybe even killed. Like they tried to do to Paul.
In our modern culture, we don’t really stone people we disagree with, right? What do we do instead? We cancel them. We humiliate and socially destroy them. Someone gets caught doing something – or having done something 15 years ago – the internet gets all upset, people start virtue signalling, and suddenly that person no longer has a job. It doesn’t matter if the accusations are false, the crowd has it exactly backwards, and they’re destroying an innocent person’s reputation.
And when that happens over and over and over, it can become a little scary to even think of sharing your thoughts online. And if you’ve ever been embarrassed at work, church, or among your friend group for having differing opinions, sharing your faith, or trying to go against them when you see them going the wrong way – it can have the same effect. You keep your mouth shut.
The author’s conclusion is that both responses from the crowd are equally hard to deal with: Adulation and Rejection. Both have their own challenges, temptations, consequences, and biblical responses. Both are going to trigger your fear of man and potentially cause you to run from what you know is right, compromise your integrity, grow distant from God and others, and make you miserable in the end. Fighting against the fear of man is going to take a lot of effort, and a lot of perserverance.
I’m going to leave the rest of the article to you, but let me end with the authors concluding words because they are good to meditate on, “What might his perseverance mean for us? That we should resist the ever-present impulse to give up on people who despise us for obeying Jesus, to immediately walk away from those who hurt or discourage us, to spend all our time and energy on people who make us feel loved. As the cross reminds us, again and again, Love did not avoid hostility to protect himself; he embraced hostility for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). So whose idle praise are you tempted to pursue and encourage? And whose irrational disapproval are you tempted to try and appease? Flee, with Paul, from the seductive and dreadful fear of man.”
An Interesting Study
The last part of these podcasts is an “Interesting Study” on the classic book, “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. Remember, there’s a link to this book – for free – on my blog if you want to read along. This week we’re all the way to the end of Chapter 6, and Christians experiences with Piety, Prudence, and Charity, in the Beautiful Palace.
More and more I’m being convinced that the Beautiful Palace is an allegory for being part of a good, loving, gospel church. If the Lions represent the challenge of church membership, then it would make sense that the place which they protect is the church. And the way that the girls, Piety, Charity and Prudence, talk to Christian reminds me a lot of what my life has been like in the church groups I’ve been part of.
His first conversation is with Piety. To be Pious means to be Devoutly Religious and you can tell by her questions that’s what she’s all about. How did you become a Christian? Did you come the right way through? Did you sit under the Interpreters teachings? Did you pay attention? Ok, tell me what you saw there – in detail.
One thing about being part of a good church is that they’re willing to ask you some difficult question, and aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Sure, there are some Christians and churches that forget to do this with grace and end up using the truth as a club, and the Bible as a weapon, but there are even more churches that – in response to the grumpy ones – refuse to ask any hard questions or challenge people at all. But, how can we grow if we’re not challenged? How can we know right and wrong if we’re not corrected? How can we know that we’re worshipping the One True God, the actual Jesus Christ, and not some figment of our imagination unless someone is willing to tell us we’ve got our theology wrong? Let’s be thankful for the pious people in our lives that are willing to ask us hard questions.
The next conversation is with Prudence. To be prudent is to be careful, cautious, especially as to how it effect the future. Prudence’s questions are even more direct, more difficult, and more probing than Piety’s. If we remember that the place from where Christian came represents his pre-Christian life, being bound to sin, fear, guilt, shame – then the questions get a lot more intense.
Do you ever think back to your old life? Do you still have baggage from that life hanging around? Are you still tempted in the same ways? Are you still effected by the person you were? Do you ever think that you’ve overcome some negative part of you, only to fall back into it for no good reason?
It’s one thing to get our theology right – it’s another to let our beliefs shape our behaviour. I’ve known lots of people who could pass a college level theology test – who were quite terrible people. And I’ve known people who didn’t know any of the big words that theologians like to use – who couldn’t really articulate their beliefs very well – but were the kindest, most faithful, most godly people around. Christians answers were all very honest. Yes, he still struggles. No, he doesn’t know why his old sins keep coming back. And he can’t wait for that battle to be over and be face to face with Jesus.
Again, Let’s be thankful for the people in our lives that challenge us to connect our faith to our action – who call us to the carpet, look us in the eye and say, “If you really believe what you say you believe, then you know what you need to do…”
And, let’s be thankful for the people brave enough to ask us about how well we’re progressing in our holiness, morality, good works, and fighting temptation. Those are topics that very few people are willing to broach – even with good friends, family members, people they’ve known all their lives. I’m very thankful for the people in my life that have pulled me aside and said, “Ok, let’s talk about your purity, your money, your work-life, your language, your lifestyle.” I may have not been super thankful at the time, especially when I was younger, but these days I see it as an act of love. Sure, not everyone can do that – we’ve talked about it before – but we should be very thankful if we have a Prudence in our lives.
The third conversation is with Charity. The word charity has come to mean an organization that raises money, but what it really means is kindness, tolerance, showing practical love to people.
And her questions are about Christian’s relationships – especially with his family. Are you married? Got kids? Where are they? Why are you walking this faith journey without them? Have you talked to them about your faith? Have you implored them, warned them, told them how serious it is? Have you prayed for them? Why didn’t they believe you? Is it possible that your own sins and failings, the ones they know that no one else knows, are what is working against them coming to faith?
Oof. Those are some tough questions. One that most of us wouldn’t want to hear – but, if we’re honest, we need to. A good church, a good Christian friend, a close brother and sister in Christ, a good pastor, is going to ask you all these questions. Why? Because they love you, they love God, and they love your family. It would be an act of cruelty for them to let you believe lies, remain caught in sin, and never share your faith. These aren’t questions meant to hurt Christian, or hurt you. They are asked out of loving concern. And the only place, the only people, who are going to ask you those kinds of questions in this world – are the good people in your church and among your Christian friends.
That’s one reason why you need a Christian family – why you need to talk to your pastor – why you need to go to small group – why you need to be open and honest with your Christian friends — because no one else in this world, including yourself, will ask you these questions. No one other than the ones who love you like Jesus loves you, will be willing to make you uncomfortable, make you articulate, make you face yourself, and face the truth.
So don’t get mad. Don’t lash out. Don’t try to get back at them or start throwing dirt their way. You need them to ask this stuff. These questions are of eternal consequence. So, be thankful, listen, and answer honestly.
And that’s it for today.
Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you heard something interesting.
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