Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

New Light on the Age-old Problem of Sin

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • New Light on the Age-old Problem of Sin

    My dad was a preacher, though he died when I was only 6, and I was raised in the church, hearing the gospel all my life. I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was a child, and as a teenager, I made a deliberate choice to receive Jesus into my life. But what I didn't understand was that it was still MY life. I asked Him in to be my savior, but He was most definitely NOT my LORD. I struggled with same-sex attraction from my teens, and had my first lesbian affair at 19. You have probably read what I wrote about that, so I won't repeat all that. (If you haven't, and want to, you can read it here http://bibleforums.org/showthread.php?t=100000). I struggled and struggled and struggled to be a good Christian and to live a Christian life. But it was still MY life, and I expected Jesus to help me live MY life. Nothing I ever did seemed to be good enough, and I failed repeatedly until I finally got so tired of not knowing what it was God wanted from me, and tired of chasing carrots on the end of a stick...which I felt were the promises of God that never came true in my life. There was very little genuiness in my life, but I put on a real good show. I was a "pillar" in the church because I knew the Word of God, and I knew all the right things to say, and I knew doctrine and theology. I had all my doctrinal ducks in a row, and everyone thought I was such a giant of a Christian. But I knew I was a fraud. It wasn't that I wasn't saved. I really did LOVE Jesus and WANT to do what I was supposed to do. And I tried my best. But I couldn't do it. So in anger and frustration and despair, I turned my back on God and threw myself with a vengeance into the lesbian lifestyle.

    When He came and confronted me in the vision He gave me, and I surrendered, for the next several years, He began shooting all my doctrinal ducks and demolishing my faulty belief structure and giving me a solid foundation that would keep me strong in the storms of life. I still weep when I think about the person I used to be, and the person I am now, and I realize that maybe, if someone had taught me what sin really was, and WHY Jesus's death on the cross provided atonement for my sin, and that it was obedience and surrender that was what was desired, and that it was not possible for me to be 100% obedient, but that I didn't have to be, because Jesus WAS....maybe I could have surrendered much earlier and not had to go through the things I did.

    For more than 30 years I suffered from the deepest of depressions....was on massive doses of anti-depressants, was sometimes catatonic I was so deep in depression.....tried SO MANY times to commit suicide, and even once to commit murder. I spent time in a mental hospital, locked up on suicide watch. Now I NEVER get depressed. I sometimes get a little blue, but it doesn't last, and thoughts of suicide are the furthest thing from my mind. I guess one of the major things the Holy Spirit has taught me in the last 7 years is the difference between religion and relationship with Jesus. Even though I was saved, religion gave me a false sense of security and prevented me from pressing into relationship with Jesus because I thought what I had was all there was. Boy was I wrong!!

    When I returned to the Lord, I began to study the book of Proverbs again, a book which always held a fascination for me. I began to pray, "Lord, give me wisdom and understanding, discernment and insight." His reply was this, "Before you can gain wisdom and understanding and discernment, you must first understand what sin really is, and what really happened in the Garden of Eden." And He took me back into Genesis and began to open up the eyes of my understanding, and over the next several months, He taught me about sin, and about surrender, about disobedience and obedience; about why Jesus had to be born of a virgin, and why He had to die on the cross (the answer might be something you haven't thought of before), and how what He did on the cross actually REVERSED what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

    Understanding was the first thing that I started to gain. Then, as I began to understand, I began to gain discernment, and then, although I am still growing in all of these, I began to make wise choices and take wise courses of action.

    What the Holy Spirit taught me in those months had a lot to do with the difference between religion and relationship. The results of that tutoring are a radically changed life, a building on a firm foundation that weathers the storms....a joy and a peace and hope I'd never known before, and a relationship with Jesus that has turned a self-hating fraud into a beloved child of God who delights in His presence.

    Before my surrender I hated myself so much that I repeatedly tried to murder myself. I couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror. Now when I look in the mirror, I see a friend. You can't possibly know how good that feels unless it's happened to you.

    I'd like to share in this thread some of the things that the Holy Spirit taught me that so radically changed my life. There's quite a bit of content, so I'm breaking it down into sections, and I will post one every few days and then leave time for discussion and/or questions.

    For today I'm just going to wait for responses to this post, and I'll post the first of the study segments tomorrow. The first one will be on the difference between religion and relationship with Jesus, and how we build our religious belief-structures and why they often come crumbling down and we become disillusioned and begin to lose our faith and trust in God. Unless the Lord changes direction, the second one will be on "surrender" and "death to self" and what that really means. During the course of the study, I also want to share what the Lord taught me about why it sometimes seems like God doesn't keep His promises...even when we REALLY BELIEVE His Word. That was a really big deal for me and was one of the factors in my turning away from Him.

    I hope and pray that what the Holy Spirit taught me that has been so powerful will also minister to you and change your life the way it has changed mine.
    Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
    No reserve (from God, no holding back)
    No retreat (from God, no turning back)
    No regrets (from God, no looking back)

  • #2
    I am really looking forward to your insights, hootnannie, and am sure this thread will incite some interesting and valid discussion.

    I have my own views on all of these subjects, but I will wait until the appropriate time to voice them.
    One thing in particular that I want to comment on right now is your comment about your being a "pillar" in the church.

    I grew up in a church wherein I was barely even noticed by a lot of people, let alone spoken to....even when my mother was sick with cancer, no one really took enough of an interest in me to give me any encouragement.

    I was always very shy, and never really "stood out" within the congregation....probably because I was such a walllflower, and not very outgoing.
    On the other hand, there were people who DID stand out as being the epitome of religiosity, and these people were respected and admired by virtually everyone in the congregation.....including myself. I wondered what these people had that I didn't have.

    It wasn't until much later in life that I realized that God was touching me in innumerable ways, and although I wasn't a "pillar," God was working in me in ways that He wasn't working in other people. For example, I received the gift of tongues at a very young age.....I just didn't flaunt it, which is part of the reason people thought that I was weak and lacked spirituality. I really believe that God was teaching me not to focus so much on other believers, but on Him, and that THIS should be my guiding focus, rather than what I think a Christian SHOULD be as displayed by other people.

    I really do think that there's a danger in putting people up on a pedestal...not only can it act to feed a person's pride, but it can also create expectations of them which they, often times, cannot fulfill. This happened with my best friend, and when she fell from grace, it was very hard on her, because those same people who were "putting her on a pedestal" were judging her much more harshly than she deserved.

    As you said, it really caused her to lose her faith, and slip further into the recesses of rebellion and shame.

    Although it may not seem like it at the time, I think we are doing people a huge disservice by elevating them above a certain level, and this makes for a huge disappointment, and a lot of pain, when they DO stumble.

    Anyhow, I look forward to reading further comments.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by hootinannie View Post
      What the Holy Spirit taught me in those months had a lot to do with the difference between religion and relationship.
      .
      That's exactly it....can't wait to read the rest!

      Comment


      • #4
        I am looking forward to this myself, as I get caught up in the same trap sometimes.

        Comment


        • #5
          Beautiful testimony and beautiful truth, Ill be returning as much as possible to praise God in your sharing with us your growth in holiness and perfection through a relationship with Christ Jesus.

          God bless you sister !

          Comment


          • #6
            The Difference Between Religion and Relationship with God

            General William Booth, with great prophetic insight, stated over fifty years ago, "The chief danger of the twentieth century will be:
            (1) religion without the Holy Ghost,
            (2) Christianity without Christ,
            (3) Forgiveness without repentance
            (4) Salvation without regeneration, and
            (5) Heaven without hell."
            What would this blessed man of God say to our day and generation regarding this new danger? Many
            preachers have robbed the Cross of its stigma. They are failing to demand a supernatural experience
            in the new birth. They have reduced the message of the Cross to a meaningless evangel.

            I would like to add one more: Religion without relationship.

            As I said in my first post, I have been a Christian since childhood. When I turned my back on God, I no longer even claimed to be a Christian, nor did I want anyone to know that I ever had been a Christian.

            Even as a child I studied the Word of God avidly. After my father died and we moved to the town where my grandparents lived, we attended a Pentecostal church which was very fundamental and legalistic in the extreme. The measure of how good a preacher was pretty much consisted of how loud he yelled and how bad he frightened us into “getting saved” every week (because we all sinned so much during the week that we had to get saved all over again every Sunday). Over and over we were told how to get saved and “filled with the Holy Ghost”, but no one ever told us what we were supposed to do next, or that there even WAS a “next”.

            I learned from listening to the preacher, reading the words of hymns as we sang them, going to youth camp, reading the Bible and listening to the grown-ups talk about God. I read the Bible a lot and tried to make sense of it. I saw great and wonderful promises of God printed there and read stories that told me of the greatness of God and His power. I learned what was expected of me as a Christian, and I tried very, very hard to live up to the standards of the Word of God.

            As a young teen, I made a conscious, “informed” decision to ask Jesus to come in to my heart and be my Savior.

            I began having sexual fantasies about other girls at the age of 15. I knew the Word of God and what it had to say about that, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. When I was 16, my mother shipped me off to a Christian boarding school on the other side of the country, and there was a senior girl there that I “fell in love with” but no one ever knew it.

            When I got out of high school and entered the army I met and married my first husband, who was a marine. I didn’t know him, but I was not a pretty girl, and he was handsome and I didn’t think anyone else would ever ask me, so just over two months after we met, we married, and he left for Viet Nam. I thought that if I got married, the same-sex attraction would go away, and I knew that marriage to a man was ok with God....and I wanted to be ok with God. I really did LOVE Jesus and I really did WANT to be acceptable to Him.

            Just after he left, some new women shipped in to the company, and I met “Cookie”. Before long, we were in bed together…she was my first lesbian relationship. To make a long story short, my conscience tormented me so much that I again tried to kill myself in an effort to get out of the relationship with her, because she was not going to “let me go”. When that didn’t work, I tried to kill her. Praise God that I couldn’t go through with it, though my hands were around her throat, choking the life out of her….I let go before she actually died. She never reported me.

            I’m going to cut this off here and start another post, so that this doesn’t get so long. I’m almost to the part where I start talking about religion versus relationship, but I have to lay a foundation first.
            Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
            No reserve (from God, no holding back)
            No retreat (from God, no turning back)
            No regrets (from God, no looking back)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by hootinannie View Post
              General William Booth, with great prophetic insight, stated over fifty years ago, "The chief danger of the twentieth century will be:
              (1) religion without the Holy Ghost,
              (2) Christianity without Christ,
              (3) Forgiveness without repentance
              (4) Salvation without regeneration, and
              (5) Heaven without hell."
              What would this blessed man of God say to our day and generation regarding this new danger? Many
              preachers have robbed the Cross of its stigma. They are failing to demand a supernatural experience
              in the new birth. They have reduced the message of the Cross to a meaningless evangel.

              I would like to add one more: Religion without relationship.

              As I said in my first post, I have been a Christian since childhood. When I turned my back on God, I no longer even claimed to be a Christian, nor did I want anyone to know that I ever had been a Christian.

              Even as a child I studied the Word of God avidly. After my father died and we moved to the town where my grandparents lived, we attended a Pentecostal church which was very fundamental and legalistic in the extreme. The measure of how good a preacher was pretty much consisted of how loud he yelled and how bad he frightened us into “getting saved” every week (because we all sinned so much during the week that we had to get saved all over again every Sunday). Over and over we were told how to get saved and “filled with the Holy Ghost”, but no one ever told us what we were supposed to do next, or that there even WAS a “next”.

              I learned from listening to the preacher, reading the words of hymns as we sang them, going to youth camp, reading the Bible and listening to the grown-ups talk about God. I read the Bible a lot and tried to make sense of it. I saw great and wonderful promises of God printed there and read stories that told me of the greatness of God and His power. I learned what was expected of me as a Christian, and I tried very, very hard to live up to the standards of the Word of God.

              As a young teen, I made a conscious, “informed” decision to ask Jesus to come in to my heart and be my Savior.

              I began having sexual fantasies about other girls at the age of 15. I knew the Word of God and what it had to say about that, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. When I was 16, my mother shipped me off to a Christian boarding school on the other side of the country, and there was a senior girl there that I “fell in love with” but no one ever knew it.

              When I got out of high school and entered the army I met and married my first husband, who was a marine. I didn’t know him, but I was not a pretty girl, and he was handsome and I didn’t think anyone else would ever ask me, so just over two months after we met, we married, and he left for Viet Nam.

              Just after he left, some new women shipped in to the company, and I met “Cookie”. Before long, we were in bed together…she was my first lesbian relationship. To make a long story short, my conscience tormented me so much that I again tried to kill myself in an effort to get out of the relationship with her, because she was not going to “let me go”. When that didn’t work, I tried to kill her. Praise God that I couldn’t go through with it, though my hands were around her throat, choking the life out of her….I let go before she actually died.

              I’m going to cut this off here and start another post, so that this doesn’t get so long. I’m almost to the part where I start talking about religion versus relationship, but I have to lay a foundation first.
              Hoot, I'm happy that you've been lead to share this testimony with us. It's difficult admitting our imperfections and sins before others, but I must say that your boldness and frankness in admitting your folly and past sins without Christ is demonstrative of His strength and Spirit in you. God bless you sister and I look forward to hearing the rest of your testimony.

              Comment


              • #8
                Please Bear with me while I lay foundation

                Thank you, friend of I AM.

                (Forgive me for making this post so long, but I'm trying to get to the point where I can begin to relate why certain things happened relating to religion versus relationship)

                As a child, I was asthmatic, but by the time I was old enough to go into the army, I was living in the Pacific Northwest and no longer had asthma attacks. I hadn’t had any asthma attacks in 3 or 4 years, so even though asthma would normally disqualify one from service in the military, they let me enlist. But when they returned me to the south, my allergies to things there, along with the incredible stress I was under, served to cause my asthma to flare up again, and that was the grounds for my honorable discharge for medical reasons. It was that which allowed me to get out of the army, get out of my relationship with Cookie, and return to the northwest.

                My husband returned from Nam, and was stationed in southern California, so I joined him there. When his service was done, we returned to the Pacific Northwest. For the next 27 years I lived with him ALMOST all the time. I left him a total of 12 times because he was abusive, and went back 11 times to try again. For those 27 years, I went to church and tried to serve God the way I thought He wanted me to. I was active in the church, a member of the worship team, the founder of a Christian organization to feed and assist homeless people. In 1976 we adopted a newborn baby boy and I tried with everything in me to be a Godly wife and mother.

                Still I struggled with same-sex attraction. I found my body reacting to certain types of women in ways that I was ashamed of, and when my son was 10, I started leaving him at home alone while I secretly went to the gay and lesbian bars in town, looking for someone to connect with. God was gracious and merciful to me, even then, as He never allowed me to “hook up with” anyone. Most of the time I was able to keep the “monster” caged and sedated. But I would lie to my husband and tell him I was going to go “out with the girls” after the Ladies' Bible study, so he would expect me to be late, and I would lie to the women at the study and tell them I had to leave early, so I could have time to spend in the gay bars. And then in 1989, an emotionally troubled woman in our church, whom I was counseling, "came on to me", and the monster inside me awoke and got out of the cage, and I could not get it back under control.

                All through these years, I attended church faithfully several times a week. I went to retreats and conferences and seminars and taught a Bible study. I knew the Word of God very well, and I could say all the right things. But I was a fraud

                I became very frustrated that although I loved God and loved His word and I wanted with all my heart to live a holy life, I had NO POWER to live holy. I could not control my thoughts and feelings. The things I wanted to do, I could not do. And the things I DIDN'T want to do were the very things I did. (I know....Romans 7) I could quote long passages of scripture and counseled others in how to live a good Christian life. I’d read lots of Christian books on many different subjects and on some of them I became somewhat the “authority”….the “knowledgeable one”, the one to go to with your problems.

                Behind the scenes, my marriage was self-destructing. My son was uncontrollable with ADD/ADHD. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing ever improved. Indeed, things only got worse. I quoted the promises of God TO God. I claimed His promises in faith. I spoke the solutions to problems as though I already had them. I couldn’t understand why He wasn’t keeping His promises. I knew what a Christian life was SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE, and I knew that MY life was not like that at ALL!!!! Why??? What was I doing wrong? Maybe I just wasn’t TRYING HARD ENOUGH!!!! So I would try even harder. I read my Bible more, I read more books, I listened to praise music all the time, I went for counseling. Nothing worked. If only I could just figure out what it was God WANTED from me…maybe if I could just find that magic formula, that golden key, then everything would fall into place and all my besetting sins and problems would go away and I would step into some sort of beautiful light and everything would get easy. It didn't happen.

                One day, in utter desperation and despair, as a friend was visiting me and I was spilling out my problems all over her, she made the mistake of saying to me, “Just trust the promises of God.”

                By that time, I was at the end of my rope and totally hopeless. I literally SCREAMED at her at the top of my lungs, (please forgive me but I am going to say here just exactly what I said to her), “PROMISES, PROMISES, PROMISES. THEY DON’T MEAN A G—DAMNED THING!!! ALL THEY ARE IS INK ON PAPER.” And though I was shocked at myself, as was she, I realized that it was really the way I felt. I felt I was doing EVERYTHING I was supposed to do, and doing it because I loved God so much, and He was failing me….betraying me….ignoring me….abandoning me. I was “keeping my end of the bargain” but God was not, and I didn’t know what more to do to to get God to “come through” for me and show me that His promises were true. I began to look around and listen to other people in the church and in my circle of Christian friends. I heard them talk about their problems and claim the promises of God, but nothing was changing for them, either. I began to feel that Christianity was a sham. I became totally disillusioned with God. I began to resent Him. Over the next several years, as I finally left my husband for the last time (about the time our son graduated from high school), and moved to another city, my resentment began to turn to real anger and bitterness. I no longer believed that God loved me. I felt rejected completely by God, and I knew that if God had rejected me, as merciful as He supposedly was, then I had to be the lowest worm on the planet, and once again I began to LOATHE myself. I was a failure as a wife, a failure as a mother, and a failure as a Christian. I blamed myself for Him rejecting me. I was evil…I was beyond God’s love. If He did not love me, then I was determined to stop loving Him. They say there is a fine line between love and hate, and I was amazed that the love I had had for God all my life was so easily turned to hatred. I was determined to hate Him as much as I had once loved Him. I went into the depths of depression, unable to see any hope. The “light at the end of the tunnel” was a train that barreled over me, ripping me to shreds. I was drowning with no one to save me…even God didn’t want to save me. (That’s what I thought) I was going down for the last time and once again decided to take my own life. While I was trying to get up the courage to do it, I went to a lesbian bar and after several times there, I met Jamie.

                I won’t go into that and what all happened after that…a lot of that is in my testimony which is posted in the testimonies thread….and I want to FINALLY get to the point of this thread.
                Last edited by hootinannie; Sep 18th 2007, 05:41 PM.
                Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
                No reserve (from God, no holding back)
                No retreat (from God, no turning back)
                No regrets (from God, no looking back)

                Comment


                • #9
                  FINALLY....here we go.

                  I truly had been saved. So why couldn’t I live my Christian life successfully? My doctrine was good, I had a good grasp on theology. I knew the Word of God. I prayed. I believed. I spoke the Word in faith. I tried to live according to the Word of God. I tried to be a good wife and mother and be submitted to my husband even though he abused me. I tried to be the Godly woman described in Proverbs. I did every single thing I knew to do, and I had no peace, no joy, no life, no love, no hope, nothing that I expected to have based on what I could see the Word of God said. Was God a liar? I remembered the verse that says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” I remembered that the Word said, “God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent (change His mind). Hath He said, and shall He not do it? Hath He promised and shall He not make it good?”

                  It wasn’t until after the night I surrendered completely to the Lord…not until after I left Jamie….and not for another year…that the Holy Spirit, as I waited before Him, began to speak to me. Here’s what He showed me.

                  I could study everything there was to know about George Bush. I could know what time he gets up in the morning, whether he salts his eggs before tasting them, what kind of underwear he wears and if they have holes or not. I could know every detail of his childhood, his youth and his adulthood. I could know every family member. I could know his thoughts, his hopes, his dreams, his successes and failures…all his strengths and weaknesses. I could attend every meeting he went to, read every book ever written about him. You get my point….I could go on and on and on, covering every detail…….but if George Bush throws a party on the White House lawn, and I try to attend, I’m outta there!!!! And it doesn't matter if I once met him somewhere....if he and I don't have a relationship that goes beyond knowledge, we have nothing.

                  You see, it doesn’t matter how much we know about God and His Word. You can be the world’s greatest Biblical, doctrinal or theological scholar, but if you are still trying to live your own life, even if you’re trying to do it in a way which you think pleases Him, if you have not turned control of your life over to Him, your life is gonna be a whole lot harder than it needs to be.

                  Here’s what often happens. (Now please note that I said “often” happens….I’m sure that there are people who really understood that it was relationship with Jesus that is needed for a successful Christian life when they got saved…but I was not one of them, and neither are many others…that’s why I’m writing this. Also, please realize that I am not trying to make any doctrinal statements....I'm only sharing what the Holy Spirit taught me....and it has changed my life.)

                  When a person first realizes his need for something or someone greater than himself and begins to search for something that will bring meaning and purpose into his life, and he encounters someone who tells him about Jesus, most likely he knows very little about Jesus or God or Christianity or how to be a Christian. So someone just tells him to ask Jesus into his heart and that Jesus will forgive his sins. Maybe the Christian friend leads him in a prayer that the new convert repeats after him. Many times the new convert is simply parroting what he’s told to say, rather than saying what’s in his heart, but he’s told that is good enough. Frequently, none of this is really explained to him, because oftentimes the one telling him what to do has traveled this same path himself, and though he may have been a Christian and in church all his life he often has been basically like I was. So oftentimes we have a powerless Christian leading another person into salvation without really understanding himself what it means. So now that the young man has said a prayer and invited Jesus into his heart, without really knowing what that means, but being assured that if he will, Jesus will change his life, and he knows he needs his life changed….now he may very well feel some peace and joy, or he may not…it varies. Now he’s all excited about his life being changed and seeing some hope, but he doesn’t know what to do next. So he asks his friend. Either because his friend doesn’t know how to disciple him (the new convert) or because his friend is too involved with his own family or friends or his own “ministry”, or his job, or whatever reason, his friend simply recommends to him to “get into a good Bible-believing church, read his Bible and pray.”

                  (to be continued) (next segment: How we build our belief structures)
                  Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
                  No reserve (from God, no holding back)
                  No retreat (from God, no turning back)
                  No regrets (from God, no looking back)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is all such good stuff....but there's something I'm a little bewildered by.

                    You said that you did "all the right things" when you were earnestly seeking to live a good, Christian life. You mentioned reading your Bible, and listening to Christian music. I guess my question is....what were you hoping to achieve through this?
                    Were you just seeking to get into God's good graces, or were you earnestly seeking a relationship with Him? Were you seeking a "Mountaintop Experience," so to speak?
                    I'm not sure I understand what the motives were in your Christian walk.
                    I assume by what you have said, you spent much of your time fervently in prayer. If you were, what do you believe was holding you back from a true and real relationship with God?
                    I know you mentioned your childhood preacher, and the fact that he was attempting to scare salvation into you. Would you say that this was your driving motive....to avoid divine indignation and the fires of Hell?
                    Would you say that a love for God came into play in any of this, or were you more or less afraid of God's wrath?
                    The reason I ask is because, from the words you wrote, it appears that you were somehow not able to achieve a connection with the Holy Spirit. Is this true?

                    I also don't think that the friend that you opened up to gave you very sound advice. We can trust on the promises of God all we want, but until we are actually "resting" on those promises, they mean nothing....I am not saying that the promises themselves mean nothing, but sometimes, it seems that those promises are so far-removed from the scope of our experience that they just seem null and void. There were many years wherein I trusted that the promises of God were real....but they just didn't seem real FOR ME. I really think that one has to experience a certain spiritual epiphany before He can really see the promises as applicable to himself. It took me a while before I COULD actually rest on the promises, and know that they are just as real for me as for everyone else.

                    So, then, I guess my question here is....what do you think was keeping you from experiencing this intimate relationship with God?
                    I have heard it said that sin is the thing that keeps one from this relationship, but I really don't think it applies in your case. You seem like you WERE earnestly seeking the Lord, and you didn't actually fall into sin until much later...when you had pretty much lost the faith, and given up hope?

                    If you wouldn't mind expounding on this....What do you think was going on in your life and in your heart to keep you from experiencing the joys of Christ until much later in life?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cloudburst View Post
                      You said that you did "all the right things" when you were earnestly seeking to live a good, Christian life. You mentioned reading your Bible, and listening to Christian music. I guess my question is....what were you hoping to achieve through this?
                      Were you just seeking to get into God's good graces, or were you earnestly seeking a relationship with Him? Were you seeking a "Mountaintop Experience," so to speak?
                      I was hoping to be found pleasing to Him...I DEPERATELY wanted to be pleasing to him. I really loved Him. I had MANY "mountaintop experiences" and they put me on the top of the emotional rollercoaster....and I tried to "go in the strength of that joy"...but I always came crashing down into the pits. It never lasted.

                      I'm not sure I understand what the motives were in your Christian walk. I assume by what you have said, you spent much of your time fervently in prayer. If you were, what do you believe was holding you back from a true and real relationship with God?
                      I did spend time in prayer. And I asked many people to pray for me. But that was just it....although I didn't realize it, I was asking them to pray for me like a woman would ask her husband to go to the store FOR her....meaning INSTEAD of her. And when I DID pray, it was more of a "talking in the direction of heaven" or talking AT God, not talking TO or WITH Him.

                      I know you mentioned your childhood preacher, and the fact that he was attempting to scare salvation into you. Would you say that this was your driving motive....to avoid divine indignation and the fires of Hell?
                      Would you say that a love for God came into play in any of this, or were you more or less afraid of God's wrath?
                      I WAS afraid of God...I was TERRIFIED of God....but something happened when I was only 12 that kept me seeking Him. Although I was Pentecostal, and as far as my denomination was concerned Baptists weren't even saved, I snuck into the Baptist church one day, and went up to the balcony, where I got on my face on the carpet, and my heart cried out to God. I was so spiritually hungry. He met me there that day, and I felt His tender, loving touch deep inside my heart and my soul....I sobbed my little 12 year old heart out. It was an experience that confused me, too. Because tender love did not fit my understanding of God. But that day stayed with me, and when I got to boarding school, a preacher named Judson Cornwall came to our school for two weeks of meetings. He spoke on God's tender love. I had never heard anything like that before. He spoke as though God was his best friend. I began to sneak into the chapel, praying, hoping to experience again what I had felt at 12...but the school administrators found out I was breaking into the church and changed all the locks....and that was the end of that. Later, after I got out of school, and then again after I got out of the army, I attended Judson Cornwall's church and became a member.


                      The reason I ask is because, from the words you wrote, it appears that you were somehow not able to achieve a connection with the Holy Spirit. Is this true?
                      I was able to connect with Him from time to time....enough to keep me seeking for more.

                      I really think that one has to experience a certain spiritual epiphany before He can really see the promises as applicable to himself. It took me a while before I COULD actually rest on the promises, and know that they are just as real for me as for everyone else.
                      Later in this thread I will talk about my "epiphany" and how the Holy Spirit taught me WHY the promises of God are often NOT fulfilled in our lives, and what to do about it.

                      So, then, I guess my question here is....what do you think was keeping you from experiencing this intimate relationship with God?
                      I really didn't know I COULD have an intimate relationship with God. I thought all the religion and all the things I was doing was all there was.

                      What do you think was going on in your life and in your heart to keep you from experiencing the joys of Christ until much later in life?
                      In my heart, I still was trying to be in control...I tried to live for God the only way I knew how.....in my own efforts. And I was VERY MUCH in control of my own will. I wanted God to do what I wanted Him to do. I wanted Him to fix my problems and make my life better. In my life, so much pain and anguish and upheaval was going on. As I said...my husband was abusive and my son was ADD...from the time my son was 3 years old, I never got another moments joy from him. He was extremely hard to handle, and once he got into school he was agressive and violent and every day brought new headaches and heartaches. No one was more surprised than me when he actually made it to 18 without killing someone. The constant pain and turmoil kept me in a continual state of upheaval. I cried out to God, but to no avail. It was as though the heavens were brass.
                      Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
                      No reserve (from God, no holding back)
                      No retreat (from God, no turning back)
                      No regrets (from God, no looking back)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by hootinannie View Post
                        I was hoping to be found pleasing to Him...I DEPERATELY wanted to be pleasing to him. I really loved Him. I had MANY "mountaintop experiences" and they put me on the top of the emotional rollercoaster....and I tried to "go in the strength of that joy"...but I always came crashing down into the pits. It never lasted.
                        Well, Jan, it also sounds as though you didn't have much guidance, either. Your church certainly didn't give you any indication as to how to nurture that beautiful relationship between yourself and God....as you said earlier, they told you that you needed to get the Holy Ghost, but they didn't tell you what to do from that point on.
                        You know as well as me that all the emotional experiences in the world equate to nothing if you don't know what to do to keep that fire burning in your heart.



                        I did spend time in prayer. And I asked many people to pray for me. But that was just it....although I didn't realize it, I was asking them to pray for me like a woman would ask her husband to go to the store FOR her....meaning INSTEAD of her. And when I DID pray, it was more of a "talking in the direction of heaven" or talking AT God, not talking TO or WITH Him.
                        Sounds like the polar opposite of me....I had no qualms praying to the Lord, but I would RARELY approach ANYONE for prayer because I did not want to be a bother to them.


                        I WAS afraid of God...I was TERRIFIED of God....but something happened when I was only 12 that kept me seeking Him. Although I was Pentecostal, and as far as my denomination was concerned Baptists weren't even saved, I snuck into the Baptist church one day, and went up to the balcony, where I got on my face on the carpet, and my heart cried out to God. I was so spiritually hungry. He met me there that day, and I felt His tender, loving touch deep inside my heart and my soul....I sobbed my little 12 year old heart out. It was an experience that confused me, too. Because tender love did not fit my understanding of God.
                        Ya....I remember a time when the whole "fire and brimstone" methodology was the only thing that was thought to keep people in salvation. I don't even know how many of these kinds of preachers are still around....and praise the Lord, because I don't think that I would have come back to Christ had this been the only kind of stuff coming from the pulpit.
                        For someone who already feels like he's already in hell, such an approach does little good.


                        Later in this thread I will talk about my "epiphany" and how the Holy Spirit taught me WHY the promises of God are often NOT fulfilled in our lives, and what to do about it.
                        I'm looking forward to that


                        I really didn't know I COULD have an intimate relationship with God. I thought all the religion and all the things I was doing was all there was.
                        YES....and I think that ministers who emphasize ONLY this are doing the members of their congregation a HUGE disservice.



                        Comment


                        • #13
                          How We Build Our Belief Structures

                          Ok...so now the baby Christian either goes to the church where the person who led him to the Lord goes, or he asks around or looks in the phone book to find a "good, Bible-believing church" where he can attend and learn how he's supposed to act and what he's supposed to do now that he has asked Jesus to come into his heart. So he sits in the congregation and listens to the pastor talk about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and he talks with other Christians and listens to them and watches what they do and say. He listens to them pray so that he can learn how. If he's a reader, he may read lots of Christian books and listen to Christian music. He hears the words of the hymns and choruses. He may go to retreats and conferences and seminars. From everything he's heard and seen and all of the input he receives about God and all things "Christian", he begins to build an image in his head of what God is like. He puts things he hears and reads and sees into places where they "fit" into his limited understanding and as time goes on, he forms an image of a God that he can relate to. To the extent that he keeps God within the confines of his beliefs, he limits God to the realm of his own understanding. Reading and hearing all the promises of God, he now expects certain things to happen because that's what the word of God SAYS will happen. With the current way that God is so often presented, he begins to believe that God should do whatever he WANTS God to do, because the Word says that whatever we ask in His name, He'll do. Very often these days, a new believer comes to expect God to serve HIM, instead of the other way around, and there are plenty of doctrines out there and teachers out there that espouse that very idea. So now, whether consciously or subconsciously he begins to form the idea that he can live this Christian life with God to help him. (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.) Unfortunately, in most cases these days, the new Christian has not been taught about surrender, has not been taught that he is to give over total control of his life, his past, his present and his future into the hands of a loving God who will TAKE his life and EXCHANGE IT for His own. The new one is taught that he can have everything without giving his life for the One who gave HIS life for him (the new Christian).

                          There is a tragic tendency these days for people to project a salvation which costs the sinner nothing. Repentance is neither explained nor expected. People want that which costs them nothing. It's a "freebie" society. We have cheapened grace to the point where the sinner can have salvation without turning away from his sin, simply expecting God to forgive him over and over and over. We have developed a mentality that "it's easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission". We want to do exactly what we want to do and we still expect God to bless us in our endeavours.

                          So....here's the new baby Christian now armed with all kinds of knowledge about God. Now he knows how things are SUPPOSED to work. He now has a belief structure built upon the foundation of what he has been TOLD and what he has READ, and what he has SEEN.

                          BUT...and this is a BIG "BUT".....the road to salvation, the road to the kingdom of God, the road to heaven goes THROUGH the cross. The cross means DEATH. It means laying down your life. It means laying down your past, your present, AND your future in the dust at the foot of the cross. It means laying down control of your life. More on this in the upcoming segment on Surrender and death to self.

                          Jesus's death on the cross was preceded by a death that was just as real the night before....in the garden where He prayed. It was there that He struggled in the throes of death to His own will. He could have saved Himself, but He didn't. Jesus couldn't go around the cross, He couldn't go over the cross, or under the cross. The ONLY WAY to the resurrection life that He knew awaited Him on the other side of the cross was to go THROUGH it. The ONLY WAY to victory over the power of sin was THROUGH the cross. Jesus had to die to who He was. He had to die to what He could do. He had to die to what could have been. He had to die to the temptation to take matters into His own hands to achieve the desired end without the required end.

                          The CROSS is the solid rock upon which our belief structures must be built, or all that we build will never stand. You can have all the knowledge in the world about the Bible and doctrine...you may even study theology. You may be a virtual fountain of sound doctrine. But all of your knowledge will not save you or help you if you do not have the right foundation.

                          We build very complex belief structures, and the more we know, the more our belief structures control our lives and our actions and attitudes. Our belief structures will influence everything in our lives, and so whenever someone attacks our belief structures, we defend them vigorously, and sadly, sometimes viciously, because if our belief structure should crumble, we are left with nothing and all we have invested in the building of it is lost. If our belief structure is proven to be faulty or someone comes along who is able to challenge our beliefs in such a manner as to cause us to doubt and question, and become confused, then we become disillusioned with God and salvation and we are shaken to the core, and often our belief structure comes tumbling down in some very painful ways. If our trust has been in "living the right life", "saying the right things", "doing the right things", "thinking the right things", then when things happen that fly in the face of what we have come to understand as the way things should be, our very faith is shaken and can come tumbling down around our ears, and many never recover. Many are so disillusioned with God and Christianity that they walk away from Him altogether.

                          You see, you can be a Christian and never go THROUGH the cross. Will you be saved? Most likely. Will you ever have the joy unspeakable and full of glory? Probably not. Will you ever have victory over the power of sin in your life? Probably not. Will you ever have the peace that passes understanding, or hope that endures? Not likely. You see, you can have a certain amount of life on this side of the cross; you can have a certain amount of joy, and peace and hope and provision on "this side of the cross", but the ABUNDANT LIFE, the JOY UNSPEAKABLE, the HOPE THAT ENDURES, the PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING, and the SUPPLY of ALL YOUR NEEDS are only found on the OTHER SIDE of the Cross. You can survive or exist on this side of the cross, but you will never know the true meaning of life until you go THROUGH that death. You will never experience the power of the resurrection without first dying the death.

                          The CROSS is the singular most important aspect of salvation. We ignore the cross because it's uncomfortable, because it reminds us of the absolute necessity of death to everything we hold most dear and precious.

                          The sad thing about the way salvation is presented today is that seldom does anyone actually take the new believer under their wing and disciple him in the need to develop a deep, intimate personal RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. The new believer learns to pray by listening to others pray in public, and he seldom learns how to pray in the still of the quiet times in the presence of God. He never learns how to truly bare what's in the very depths of his soul. He hears Christians speak about hearing God speak to them, and he doesn't hear God speak to HIM, so he gets the idea that he doesn't rate with God or God would speak to him too. He wonders what he is doing wrong that God won't speak to him, and gets the idea that God plays favorites. No one sits down with him and explains the different ways that God speaks. No one shows him what real RELATIONSHIP with God looks like, nor teaches him the necessity of putting that special time with God each day at the top of his priority list.

                          Carl Jung said that religion is "the opiate of the masses", and I think that's the only thing he ever said that I agree with. Religion, religious knowledge, religious activity, religious belief structures, those things that make us feel that we are "all right", even though there is emptiness deep inside of us that is never satisfied...that kind of religion is one of the most detrimental things that we can have.

                          Satan is not the slightest bit afraid of religious people. In fact, some of his best servants are religious people....some of his best tools are religious people. As long as people are busy with religion and believe they are doing the right things, he does not have to worry about them. They are no threat to him. But you let a person who has a deep, personal, intimate RELATIONSHIP with Jesus and with Abba and with the Holy Spirit begin to pray and begin to tread on satan's territory, and satan begins shaking in his boots because he KNOWS that a person who has been THROUGH the cross HAS the victory over the power of sin, and that person HAS the authority of Christ Himself because he has hung on the cross with Christ, he has died with Christ, he is risen with Christ, and he REIGNS with Christ.

                          I was religious almost all my life, but it wasn't enough to keep me. There was a deep down inside me emptiness that nothing could satisfy. I had no power over sin, I had no peace, no life worth living, no joy, and no hope. I couldn't let anyone know how empty I was because they all looked up to me as some sort of spiritual giant. But I knew I was living a lie. Was I saved? Yes...I had asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my savior. I had repented of my sins and tried with everything in me to turn away from them. I truly did LOVE Jesus and I wanted very much to please Him. But it wasn't enough to satisfy my soul. It wasn't enough to set me free. I never did find "enough" until I went THROUGH the cross and died to everything I held precious and dear. It has ONLY been in sweet, intimate RELATIONSHIP with Jesus that my soul has found that for which I had longed and searched all my life.

                          (to be continued)
                          Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
                          No reserve (from God, no holding back)
                          No retreat (from God, no turning back)
                          No regrets (from God, no looking back)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Wonderful testimony hoot. Giving your life to God almighty. Complete surrender. That is the hardest thing for most of us to do. We're taught that we need to fight to get what we want, and the Word tells us otherwise. I think surrender from a Godly perspective though more or less means to not succumb to evil, but instead to admit one's helplessness before a good and all loving God. Patience also comes with surrender. One thing I've learned is God is not the kind of God to just forcefully fill us with His spirit - making us like Him right away. It's a gradual process.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Surrender

                              Originally posted by friend of I am View Post
                              Complete surrender. That is the hardest thing for most of us to do. We're taught that we need to fight to get what we want, and the Word tells us otherwise. I think surrender from a Godly perspective though more or less means to not succumb to evil, but instead to admit one's helplessness before a good and all loving God.


                              Thank you Friend of I AM. It is indeed the hardest thing for us to do. Later in the study it will become obvious WHY it is so hard to do.

                              According to what the Holy Spirit has taught me, surrender means MUCH MORE than not succumbing to evil and just admitting one's helplessness, etc. Let's look at what surrender means.

                              One of the most effective means of Bible study that the Holy Spirit has taught me is what I call "mushroom word studies" (because they start with one word and "mushroom" into something much bigger). I use Microsoft Word to do these, because by right-clicking on any word, I can go to a thesaurus and look up the synonyms of any given word. Once I have the list of synonyms of the primary word, I then begin to list the synonyms of each one of the initial synonyms. When I have all of those, I then list the synonyms of all of THOSE synonyms until I am no longer getting any NEW synonyms, and I look up the definitions of the primary word (and often the resulting synonyms) in both Webster's and in various Bible dictionaries I have available. By that time, I have a pretty clear overall picture of the word and I have a good understanding of the meanings. I then look at how these meanings of the word/words apply to my own life and to my relationship with God. One of the most amazing things I find is that there are SO MANY words that I thought I knew what they meant, but that my understanding was limited to one or two of the definitions/synonyms, and that by finding the other meanings, my overall understanding of the "bigger picture" was MOST enlightening.

                              It would be insufficient to define surrender as "not succumbing to evil", as it entails a whole lot more than that. Surrender must have TWO aspects. The first aspect of surrender is total, 100%, UNCONDITIONAL giving over of our entire lives to the rulership of Jesus Christ. This means He controls EVERYTHING...that we no longer have ANY right or privilege to have ANY say over ANYTHING that happens to us. We do not try to control our circumstances, our spouses, our children (there is a difference between control and guidance), our co-workers, our neighbors or anyone or anything else. We put it ALL squarely in God's hands. Essentially, absolute surrender is jumping out of an airplane at 35,000 ft with no parachute. We cannot change our mind, we cannot "unjump", and we cannot control the results. If God does not save us, we are doomed....our end is certain. I like to compare it also to "pulling the pin on a hand-grenade and throwing it straight up in the air". It's a terrifying thing to have absolutely NO CONTROL over ANYTHING.....Everything within us wants to retain control of our fate, our destiny, our decisions, our will. But it is precisely BECAUSE we no longer have control that we must now TRUST in God's love, His grace, His mercy, His provision...we must trust Him for EVERYTHING. We no longer get to "lean on our own understanding" but we now must trust HIS understanding, His love and His wisdom. At first this is about the most terrifying thing you'll ever do....but as you walk through the SECOND aspect of surrender, you find His faithfulness and you begin to become secure in His love and wisdom.

                              It is critical to go through this FIRST aspect of surrender, because you will go through your own "Garden of Gethsemane"....your own "dark night of the soul"....where you will wrestle with God and must finally give up. The reason it is critical to go through this is so that you have a point in time to point back to and use as an "altar" upon which your sacrifice has been laid. This is "going THROUGH the cross", because it means the death of your will, your wants, your wishes, your control. It is the very meaning of "He that would save (preserve, keep control over, retain his right to decide) his life will lose it, but he that would lose (surrender, give up control of, relinquish his right to decide) his life FOR MY SAKE and the gospel's, shall SAVE it. For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Resurrection, abundant LIFE comes THROUGH DEATH.

                              The SECOND aspect is the daily walking out of your surrender, the "I die daily" part. This is the daily "laying it all down again" process....the choice at each juncture, each circumstance, each situation that we encounter as to whether God is in control or whether we are going to be in control. This is the "death to self" part of surrender.

                              We hear about "surrender" and “dying to self” all our Christian lives, but most people never truly understand it, and of those who do understand what it means, few are willing to pay the price to experience it, and there is a price to pay. That price is different for each person, and yet it’s the same. Jesus warned people to count the cost and see if they were willing to pay it BEFORE they make that commitment, because, as the Scriptures say, “no man having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.”

                              Let’s take a look at just part of a mushroom word study. Let’s look at some word definitions. Don't just skim over these, they are one of the most important parts of the whole study.

                              SURRENDER – means to give up, to relinquish, to yield to the power, control, authority or possession of another; (God) to cease trying to retain control and agree to yield; to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another (God); abandon, resign or relinquish possession of (your life, your control), usually for the sake of another (God); assent to loss of possession of (your life, your will) or exercise of or power or control over (your life, your circumstances); to give (oneself) up into the power of another (God), especially as a prisoner (more on this in the next segment); to abandon oneself or devote oneself entirely to something (God's will) without restraint, reservation, further resistance, or regard to consequences. Not holding anything back.

                              RELINQUISH – to forsake; to cease from considering, practicing, or cherishing; to assent to withdrawal, dropping, or cessation of; give up; leave, abandon, waive, resign, cede, yield, surrender (relinquish usually does not suggest forceful action or strong feeling in dropping, desisting, renouncing; it sometimes suggests regret at giving up or delay in the process)

                              ABANDON – to cease to assert or exercise an interest, right or title to – especially with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting it; to give oneself over to or yield oneself to, without check, restraint, control or conditions; to give up possession of, claim or right to.

                              YIELD – to give up and cease resistance or contention; to cease opposition; give up the contest; to agree to accept (God's will) or comply with something; exhibit willingness rather than opposition; to cease opposition or objection to something; to give place or precedence to (as to someone having superior right or claim); to acknowledge the superiority of someone else.

                              Synonyms are: submit, capitulate, succumb, bow, defer, relent, yield.

                              · Submit more strongly indicates giving up after conflict, contention or resistance to the will, control or disposition of another. (God)
                              · Capitulate centers attention on a definite act of surrendering or giving up to a stronger force or power. (God)
                              Succumb is likely to indicate utter yielding through weakness or exhaustion


                              Repentance and forgiveness of sins through the blood sacrifice of Christ makes Jesus our Savior.....but it is absolute, unconditional surrender that makes Jesus our LORD. He can be our Savior and never be Lord of our life....as was the case with me.

                              Because I made this initial first aspect of surrender (my altar of sacrifice, my own "cross") at one particular point in time, I now have a definitive point to which to refer the enemy when he tries his tactics on me. If he tries to bring back memories of my lesbian past, I simply tell him, "Listen, I made my decision about that kind of thing on Tuesday, November 22, 2000, at 9:30pm and the subject is NOT OPEN TO DEBATE". I can also point him to that date when he tries to get me to worry about things and take matters into my own hands to achieve what I might believe to be a "reasonable solution". I simply tell him, "You'll have to talk to Jesus about that...He's the one running this life now. I gave Him control on Tuesday, November 22, 2000, at 9:30 pm, and anything you have to say, you can say it to Him." It works every time. Then I put the second aspect of surrender into action and lay my own desires, my own understanding, my own ideas of what should or should not happen down at the foot of the cross and leave it there, asking the Lord to show me what HE wants me to do.

                              The first aspect of surrender is death to my own will and my own ways and my own control. The second aspect is walking out that initial surrender on a daily basis.

                              (Next segment: The Nature of the Dead)
                              Last edited by hootinannie; Sep 30th 2007, 08:51 PM. Reason: to add parenthetical remark
                              Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. St. Francis of Assisi
                              No reserve (from God, no holding back)
                              No retreat (from God, no turning back)
                              No regrets (from God, no looking back)

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X