Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Twerking or True Blessing?

Sometimes I get very frustrated. Whether it’s the Super Bowl or any of the music awards shows, there’s usually several twerking performers who, in the rush of ecstatic jubilation during their acceptance speech, quickly throw out there for good measure, “I’m just truly blessed!” Sometimes it comes out “I am amazed at God’s blessing on my life!” 

It is completely true that they have been “blessed” with life, breath, freedom, and a million tiny exposures of God’s common grace. 
But whats disturbing is the disconnect between what they mean by blessing and what the Bible portrays as “blessings.” 

We've emptied the word "blessing" by using it to refer to our own personal quests for self-promotion or frenzied pursuits of pride. We've allowed the word to be devalued of God's well intentioned view of blessing found in His word. But the word "blessing" formerly was held in high regard.

Look at Numbers 6:24-26
“May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious unto you. May the LORD lift up His countenance ion you and give you peace. Amen!” 

Those same performers may have just performed a song riddling off any possible variation of the new en-vogue form of deviation from treating God as if He were worthy of worship (see Rom. 1). Many times the performers (I don’t have to name names) are wearing little more than dental floss for costumes. And immediately after…
Wait for it… “I’d like to thank God…my life is just a blessing.” There it is. Life, in whatever form of debauchery or sexual deviation, is still a blessing. 

How does this fit in with raising children and clarifying a God-glorifying value in life? 

What is it we’re trying to do with our kids? 
—If we’re not careful we may raise them to be good model citizens with no jail time, no unwanted pregnancies, no dui’s or dwi’s, and no utter moral scandals. 
—If we’re not careful we may raise them to be good, upstanding, hell-bound contributing moralists to society. 

Oprah and the “other Dr. Phil” (not Dr. Phil Sallee) would have us teach our children to “discover the good” inside themselves and simply “be gooder!” 

Well, the Bible is clear about there being only a remnant of the “image of God” left in each human being. It is there. This is where our quests for love, justice, truth, beauty, and righteousness well up from. But due to the fall, all of us have been corrupted to the core with a sinful nature. Yes, we still do good actions and deeds. But our goodness is compared to filthy rags and could never earn any right standing or justification before our holy God. 

Romans 3:10 “There is no one righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” 
Those are difficult words for us to hear. We think we’re pretty good people on the inside. We like to think the reason we were reconciled was because we’re a logical, rational human being with certain very good qualities inside us that made us turn to God. But that’s just not what the Bible reveals. 
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it.” 
That’s not nice. That’s no fun. I don’t like to think of myself that way. Our evaluation of our attitudes and thoughts are completely subjective within our own experience. No one likes to think that our hearts are that bad.
So there’s no discovering the good inside ourselves. Instead, the Bible points us to realizing the ugly sinful bent our hearts tend to constantly pursue. The Bible points us to agreeing with God that our sins are a horrible slap in the face to the Creator of all things. We not only agree, but we are moved to desire forgiveness and transformation from lifestyles of sin to walking in righteousness and truth. We agree with God that we are separated from Him in our sin and we see our need to cry out for mercy in what Christ did on the cross on our behalf. 

How does this view of ourselves from the Bible fit in with the twerking  performers wearing dental floss who nod to god with talk of being “blessed?” 
Let’s look back at that verse and see the depth of what’s offered in God’s description of true “blessing” compared to that of culture. 

Look at Numbers 6:24-26
“May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious unto you. May the LORD lift up His countenance on you and give you peace. Amen!”

For centuries, many fathers and mothers memorized and quoted certain verses from Scripture known as “blessings” upon their children. Some parents used this form of “blessing their children” in the morning and evening (according to Deut. 6 idea). 
Rolf Garborg’s book The Family Blessing gives this definition of blessing: “the intentional act of speaking God’s favor and power into someone’s life, often accompanied by a symbolic gesture such as laying hands on the person.”1

Wow! The intention act of speaking God’s favor and power to a person—face to face. If that were to happen hundreds of times throughout a child’s lifetime as they were growing up—think of the implications. This child repetitively hearing these words and seeing that this is the prayer and desire coming from the heart of their parent daily! Maybe God actually knew what He was doing? 

God, through Moses, gave instruction to Aaron and his sons, “You shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them…” It was that clear—that was God’s design. 
It is also very clear that it was the Lord who would bless. It was the Lord who would keep them. It was the Lord who would make His face shine on them. It was the Lord who turns His countenance and smiles. It was the Lord who initiated, provided, and applied peace to them. 

The Bible is clear about God’s intention of blessings even though it is easily looked over. 
—Gen. 31:55 “he arose and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them.” What does that mean? It means he spoke intentionally over their lives about the Lord’s interaction and provision for them. 
—Gen. 49:28  After gathering his family together, Jacob “blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.” Again, we even see the intentions for each individual in a face to face, specific blessing. 
—Leviticus 9:22  We see that Aaron also “lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them after making the sin offering and burnt offering and the peace offerings.” 
—2 Samuel 6:18-20 After David brought back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, he then “blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts” and also went to “bless his household.” 
—There are several more examples in Scripture with this picture of blessings. 
—Jesus in the New Testament gives blessings in Mark 10:15-16 Jesus took children and “began blessing them laying His hands on them.” 
—Luke 24:50-52 This was just before Jesus ascended to heaven as He leads the disciples out for one last time and “lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” 2
{This last Biblical layout of blessings adapted from: David Michael A Father's Guide To Blessing His Children (Minneapolis: Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1999, 2009) 7-8.}


  1. Create your own cards. Choose Scriptures appropriate to what you want to communicate repeatedly to your family. 
  2. Use your eyes and hands. When dealing with individuals make direct eye contact and include endearing facial touch (inside your own family). This implies a seriousness and sobering reality in our true desires and intentions for God’s blessing. 
  3. Use blessings as “bookends” of the day—as they wake in the morning let these blessings be some of the first things they hear. And as they lay down at night let these be some of the last words they hear from you as they go to sleep. 
  4. Use blessings in times of correction and discipline. Correction and discipline are not only negative. They should include the most positive and hopeful message available—the gospel of Christ. Some of these Scriptures can be memorized and communicated as a child has sinned and broken rules. They should inspire hope and trust in transformation—only in pointing to Jesus Christ and what He offers. 
  5. Use Scripture memory cards you can carry in your pocket to memorize. It is much better to be able to quote the blessing without having to read it off a page. 
  6. Use direct Scripture or even adapted Scripture as blessings. It is obviously great to use direct, word for word, quoted Scripture. But it is not bad if you simplify a verse to fit a context of repeated blessing.3

Picture a child hearing and thinking repeatedly on the Lord blessing and keeping (being near) them. The thought of the Creator of all things turning His face towards them (“make His face shine on you”) in love and sending specific grace in Jesus Christ to them (“being gracious to you”) through His gospel message. The thought of their great God turning HIs bright countenance (“lift up His countenance on you”) towards them pursuing them and ultimately giving them reconciliation and rest in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (“give you peace”). 

There is something very powerful that happens when we intentionally speak God’s “blessing” over another person’s life face to face. 

Let’s restore and recapture God’s intentions and take back what the enemy has tried to hollow out and destroy in the form of true, God-glorifying blessings! 

Now, as you go to apply this in your life…
“May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious unto you. May the LORD lift up His countenance on you and give you peace. Amen!”
{See how that works? See how it fits in so many contexts and places!}

Sankie P. Lynch
Pastor of Families

1. Rolf Garborg The Family Blessing (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1990) 13.
2. David Michael A Father's Guide To Blessing His Children (Minneapolis: Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1999, 2009) 7-8.
3. Ibid, (several taken from) 15-16. 

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