This is a conversation I've had in several different posts on this blog, so I won't say too much about it in this entry. Fifteen years ago I made some rather foolish arguments regarding music.....I considered percussion instruments to be somewhat demonic and CCM was the "devil's music". I remember arguing with a friend who's older brother was a bass player in a somewhat successful Christian rock band - I informed him that his brother was likely not saved; that God was not glorified by the music; that the Jesus his brother claimed to serve was not the same Jesus that I served, etc. I made this argument without ever hearing the music, reading the lyrics, or meeting the musicians. If you haven't already, feel free to read some of my thoughts on music here, here, here, here, and here. Enough said on that subject.
Soteriologically, I would classify myself as having been a "4-point Arminian" 15 years ago. I viewed salvation as being more or less my gift to God. I didn't go so far as to say that I could lose my salvation, but it was an idea that occurred to me more than once. As I followed the logic of the system I had embraced, that seemed to be the logical conclusion.....I had no real concept of what grace was all about.
Now I consider myself to be fairly Calvinistic in my soteriology. The Calvinism that I grew up despising as the asinine ramblings of some maniac who was possibly demon-possessed (I'd even heard that John Calvin turned his back on "calvinism" later in his life) is a Calvinism that I've not yet encountered by anybody other than those who hate system and choose to throw out straw-men attacks against the system. That sounds much more antagonistic than I intend....I don't begrudge anybody who would embrace a soteriology that differs from what I've come to embrace. I realize now that there is room for disagreement (as long as said disagreement doesn't deny the sufficiency of the shed blood of Christ and the necessity of repentance).
Don't throw stones at me until you've read this entire entry..... 15 years ago I considered imbibing in any amount for any reason to be sinful. Granted, I was somewhat influenced by the fact that my father was a raging alcoholic (a weakness that killed him before he reached 50 years old), but the idea of "drinking in moderation" seemed to me to be nothing more but an excuse to embrace the world. These days I can't read a "teetotaler" position into Scripture no matter how hard I try. I don't personally imbibe, although I have drank 2 beers over the last 5 or 6 years or so. With all that said, I don't have a problem with an abstinence position regarding alcohol use, nor do I have a problem with a moderation approach.
Personal Devotions and my relationship with God
For years I ran around with a great deal of guilt every time I failed to have my "daily devotions", or didn't get something new and profound out of what I read. It was really a rather miserable existence. My entire spiritual experience was a valley with no peaks. I was an utter failure in my relationship with Christ. I spent so much time energy trying to become "good enough" for God to hear my prayers. It was lonely, dark, and hopeless and ultimately, I gave up trying. You know, I think it was this approach to sanctification and salvation that caused me to struggle so much with "assurance" issues. The frustration came to such a head that I ended up attempting to abandon church and God altogether. I chose drugs, sex, and alcohol instead and found myself living an even more miserable existence with the constant pain of guilt and conviction pricking me at every turn. Wow! I don't miss that life at all...
These days I've come to appreciate that remarkable, unconditional, unmerited love and mercy of the Almighty. I've come to approach my personal worship to God as a response to His love for me rather than some chore that is part of the Christian life. As a result, my love for God has increased, my zeal for the Word is growing, my "walk" is consistent, and I have come to appreciate those quiet times with my Savior. This shouldn't be tedious.....it should be refreshing!
There are many more items I could mention, but this is a sufficient list for now. I've come to realize that, as I grow in Christ, I might have to face the reality that I've been wrong about some things (perhaps even some of the things on this list)...may God give us all the grace to accept that and move on!