Spiritual Balance

On Tuesday night I had a chance to be with some inmates at our city jail. I spoke to them about the ideas presented in my last post. During the last 15 minutes of my talk I invited feedback and one of the guys said something like this:
I read the bible for a long time and it helped me very little.. but when I began to experience God everything changed.
One of the other guys responded by talking about how spiritual experiences are often trivialized by both fundamentalists and liberals alike. It got me to thinking about how the bible can be very dry if you don't have accompanying experience. I guess the challenge we face is to keep a healthy balance of spiritual knowledge and experience.. if it is all about knowledge then things tend to become merely intellectual.. if it is all about experience then things can be become merely emotional. That is about all I had on this. I would be interested in your thoughts on the topic.


  1. Kansas Bob ...

    I've been reading your blog for a while but I've never posted anything. I figured turn about is fair play and it's time to make myself known.

    As to your experience posted here the first thing I thought of is Proverbs 19:2 "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way."

    p.s. Next time you see Jim Bailey tell him I said Hi.

  2. Interesting... I've been pondering all this week about what it takes to accept the fact that God loves you (yes, I may post one of these days) and what I keep coming back to is that it's not enough to "know it". You can't read about God's love and accept it. You can't hear about it from someone else. At some point -- as love is an emotion -- you need to feel it, too.

  3. Kansas Bob,
    Excellent thought brother.
    Keep up the great blogging.
    I love reading your blog.
    You always have great things to say.
    God bless you this year in a powerful ways.
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  4. K-Bob, it sounds like these prisoners have more insight than I. Only lately have I questioned the general disdain for "experience" that enveloped me for so long in the church.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. It is exactly the same comment as "I went to church for a long time and I never got anything out of it. Then I began to experience God and everything changed."

    Both statements are wonderful now, and sad, too, because of time lost that could have spent growing in Christ. Considering someone in jail said the first statement to you, perhaps that guy might not have ended up there if he'd known the peace that passeth... Then again, God enters through wounds, and it takes a crisis sometimes to cry out to God and trust Him and learn to know Him.

  6. Two things helped me to get it, and get out of the line waiting for God's invitation to get on the elevator to spiritual heights, the promised "abundant" life. I prayed for joy, to little result, but when I read Richard Foster's Spiritual Disciplines book, realized that I was in the wrong line; not the line to the elevator, but to the line waiting for the emotional roller-coaster. I can stop waiting, and understand through God/Biblical taught disciplines: inward, outward, and corporate disciplines; God can take us to new heights, and maybe we don't have to come down.



  7. This is a great question! I love it when people ask good questions, because often I don't always think of good questions to ask. Anyway...

    I think that since God is spirit, when we encounter Him, it doesn't just have to be either intellectual or emotional. I think that sometimes there is spirit-to-spirit interaction. I don't know if that makes sense, it's certainly foreign for a lot of us who live in Western society with it's anti-spiritual Enlightenment mindsets and paradigms.

    My second thought is that to separate the intellect and the emotions as two mutually distinctive spheres of human experience is contrived and doesn't actually reflect reality. When I encounter God, my spirit is affected, my emotions are affected, and my intellect is affected.

    I guess I see it more holistically. God has a created all of these elements that make up who we are, and He wants to touch each element and redeem and use each element: our emotions, our intellect, and our spirit. And rarely is just one of those being touched to the exclusion of the others. Even if I'm having a very emotional experience, I am processing it through my brain.

    Growing up Charasmatic, there was always an anti-intellectual emphasis. But God created our brains and wants us to use them! Just as He created our spirits, giving us the capacity to have supernatural encounters with Him and He wants us to use that too! (And same with emotions. God is love. How do you experience love without emotion? Even Jesus wept. And there are other passages where it talks about how He was deeply moved with compassion. These are emotions.)

    Thanks for asking such a great question! It really made me think! I like good questions because that's such a great way to learn from each other. :)

  8. i suppose it can be linked a little to acceptance...one part is accepting Jesus as our Savior, hearing giving our heart...also accepting Jesus as our Lord..which is more along the lines of giving our mind or our control of self. i think that it is good if our heart can filter things before it goes to our mind...like taking the time to seek God and i think God speaks to our heart on matters.

  9. I have worked some in christian rescue missions and drug and alcohol programs like Teen Challenge and I have to say that 'experience' is absolutely necessary and the men and women I work with will tell you that.
    I sometimes wonder why folks like that get such a spectacular visitation and I think it's because they have already lost everything and cry out to Jesus from the bottom of their heart. It's beautiful to see.
    The challenge over the long haul for these folks is growing in knowledge and correct doctrine.

  10. Thoughts from Jason Ellsworth...

    On Sunday morning I woke up with this question in mind, "Would you rather sense God's presence anytime you wanted to and never hear His voice... Or, would you rather hear His voice anytime you needed to and never sense His presence?"

    I asked the guys in my band that morning. Each had a different answer. On guy said he needed God's presence. We have the Bible so "hearing God's voice" wasn't as important. Another said the opposite. He was willing to give up the Presence if he could hear God's voice any time he needed it.
    In the end each one said that it would be nearly impossible to imagine one without the other.

    Immediately it hit me! Why are there so many "Christians" content with a religion that lacks both God's presence and His voice.

    It seems to me that sin feels too good to give it up for a Christianity that lacks the relational aspects of knowing God in His manifest presence and His personal voice.

  11. Some good insight--I always wondered why someone would continue to question whether or not "all this God stuff is real" after receiving Jesus. She didn't have the experience, and her intellect could not make that leap of faith.


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