“I never had a problem with Christ…it was Christians that gave me problems…” – Bono, lead singer of U2
People often misinterpret Jesus Christ because of the actions of Christians. Christians – myself included – can be hypocritical, spiteful, angry, hurtful and just downright mean. It is because of this, I think that people often reject Jesus Christ and the Christianity that the churches preach.
However, I’ve learned over the years that many – dare I say, most – churches are off track when it comes to how they portray God and Jesus Christ. This is not an anti-church rant, so I won’t say anymore on that subject, but suffice to say that our family hasn’t been to “church” in over 5 years. We left our last evangelical free church due to dangerously incorrect teachings about God and Jesus Christ, and have been home-churching, straight from the Bible, ever since. For those of you who may be concerned, yes, we have plenty of fellowship with other Christians as the Bible encourages us to do, it’s just not usually in a church building. And, because our training has come straight from the Bible for so many years, we’ve grown in our understanding of God more in the last five years than we had in the two decades preceding that.
As such, we’ve learned a few things that I think may answer some questions in people’s minds about how this life works. What you read below may be controversial, and of course, you’re welcome to disagree, but this is some of what we’ve come to understand about how the world works, and I’d like to share it with you, as it was life-changing for our family, and I hope it will be for you too.
Read below the excerpt from a book I started years ago, and that I may or may not ever finish. This book is meant to be kind of a follow-up book to my first book on prayer:
I often lament for those who reject God or deny His existence. Whether or not we believe in Him, the fact of the matter is that He does exist, and He is the Creator of all that we see.
And whether or not we choose to believe in Him or accept Him as our Rescuer, we still sit right smack in the middle of a war for our souls.
Jesus has indeed won the final outcome of this war with His resurrection, but Satan still strives day and night to deceive us into believing that God, instead of being a loving Father, putting every attempt in place to get us to open our eyes and recognize the lies we are being told by Satan, that God either doesn’t exist, or is an angry dictator looking to force us into a life of control and complacency – to His boring life of “being good”.
Oh, how I wish they understood! How I wish they could recognize that life with Jesus is SO much more! The Lord once gave me a vision of our family standing in a large eagle’s nest. Covering the nest was a massive eagle’s wing. This was the protective arm of the Lord. The wing was situated so that there was a sliver of sight given us to the world outside our nest. We could see the sky, and in it, a war going on. It was terrible, with planes, bombs – the whole works. Nothing, however, by any means, could harm us though (Luke 10:19), with the giant eagle protecting us in our nest. The planes and bombs were miniscule in size compared to His massive stature, and in His nest, we were safe and sound.
When we start to truly understand God’s tremendous love for us, and begin to understand the power and authority that we inherit as children of God, it is then that we begin to get a glimpse of who God really is, and what his true wishes for us really are. It is then that we start to open our eyes to the fact that God has a love for us that is so colossal that we will not nearly comprehend it till we meet with Him in person on the day of our move from this life into the next.
Most of us, as a result of the fallen state of this world, have a sadly skewed perception of what a father is. Therefore, we see THE Father with a deceived mind.
The more I pour through the Word, the more I come to understand that our Father in Heaven, who created us all is not at all like the Hitler we are deceived into imagining, but instead, He is the Father we all have, in our biggest dreams, ever hoped or wished we could have.
As my own father grows closer to the Lord with each passing year, I often get to see first-hand examples of the love our Father in Heaven has for us.
Once a man dominated by the bondage of the cares and weights of this world, my dad is being transformed by the renewing of his mind more and more with each passing year.
He has an amazing look in his eyes – a look of abundant love, every time he sees one of us kids. He has a smile on his face that is captivating, and a warmness in his heart that is magnetic.
Because he is truly starting to grasp the love the God has for people (we will never fully understand it while on this earth, as we literally couldn’t handle it and would likely die from the intensity), that love is radiating from inside him, and us kids, along with the many others he serves as an ambassador for Christ, are the blessed recipients.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. – Sir Isaac Newton
Whereas God’s love for all humans is so grand and all-encompassing that we could never imagine it, God’s adversary, the Devil (once God’s highest angel and right-hand being, who chose pride over servanthood, tried to take over God’s kingdom, was banished to Hell and still works to this day to destroy God’s beloved creation), has a hate for humans that is so grand that we could never imagine in it. This hate, and the Enemy’s ability to deceive us into believing the lies we’re told about situations, is the major cause of problems on this earth.
Those who are deceived by the Devil think my dad is not right in his mind: another one lost to this crazy cult of Jesus followers. I know, for I was once one myself. I had no desire to give up my “fun” life of drinking, partying, and providing for myself every material thing I thought I deserved and every thing I thought was necessary for a “happy” life. I had no desire to be “good”. To me, good equaled the opposite of fun. It was boring, and I didn’t want to be bored.
But in the quiet times, I realized that I truly wasn’t happy. Hand me a drink and some friends, and all was well. But if I couldn’t be content and happy alone and sober, what was the point? I thought, “When I have my family, the husband and children I’ve always longed for, then I’ll be happy”, or, “When I have my dream home, I’ll be happy.”
When they finally came, I still wasn’t happy. Depression plagued me for years. My husband and I both came from broken homes and had baggage enough for a worldwide tour that made marriage trying and troublesome.
Even after I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, I struggled, on and off, with emptiness and sadness. I had salvation, but nothing more. Life after Jesus wasn’t much different than life before Jesus, save for the partying, which had largely gone by the wayside.
It was then that I realized that I didn’t really know God much at all. I had known what I had heard from pastors and the like. It seemed, though, that they all had different thoughts and opinions about who God was. Some ranted and raved and warned the people to repent before the coming judgment and wrath of God. Others soothed by saying judgment ended with Christ and that God was our buddy, our new BFF, always waiting to join us for fun in this awesome life.
But around me, and when I looked out into the Christian world, things truly looked about the same as they did for non-Christians, and I didn’t get it. Is this all there is? I would ask God and ask myself. Surely, I must be missing something.
It was about this time, the summer of 2007, when I had had enough of mediocrity in life. Understand, I wasn’t wanting for material things. What I desired was a deeper understanding of God and his supposed “good news”. I felt like an outsider as I read the New Testament. The writers of the New Testament wrote as if they were handing us a key to an unlimited treasure chest. Verses such as 1 John 3:1’s “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and we are!” baffled me. The disciple John speaks in this verse as if we have won the lottery, but I just wasn’t “feelin’ the love”. What was I missing? Where was the disconnect?
In August of 2007, I called on my dear friend, Jess. Jessie, whom God ordained as one of my closest friends and a spiritual mentor, has a faith in God like I have never seen. So it was the natural choice that I went to her with my questions and doubts. There were things I needed to know. Who is God? Why are these bad things happening in our lives? Is this really of God? If God is love, why is there so much hurt, turmoil and chaos in the world?
Through this process, I learned about God in a way that would be different than I ever imagined. I’ve still got a long way to go – I’m the first to admit it. But what God has revealed to me through this journey are things that I believe will help people to understand who God really is, and clear up many misconceptions that are out there, deceiving people into believing that a life with Jesus Christ is not for them.
God is a good God, and the Devil is a bad devil.
This is the first lessons that Jessie taught me through the Bible. If you read the beginning of the book of Genesis, you’ll see that life was AWESOME. God had provided everything Adam and Eve needed for life: food, shelter, etc. There was no sickness, and no sin – until Satan came running, trying to convince Eve that God was holding out on her in an attempt to lure her away from God and into a life of sin and despair. Eve, and then Adam, took the bait, inviting the sin into this world that has so damaged the lives of people for thousands of years.
Free Will – Both a blessing and a Curse
God made the choice to give all humans free will. Why? Because He wanted His children to love Him by choice, not by force. The down side of free will, however, is that it gives humans the option to make bad choices, such as the choices we made that got us into debt. It’s the evil plans of the Enemy, and also often times those bad choices, that cause most of the problems we have to deal with on earth, not God’s will, as so many churches teach (for more info, read Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 91). God is not in control of your life unless you ask Him to be – He will not force His way into your life – and unless you go to Him, seeking guidance and direction for every decision, so that you can make the best choices for your life, you’ll be running things on your own. I’ve been there and done that, and in my humble opinion, it sucks. We can’t see the goings on in the dimension of the spiritual world, so without God, we are not running on all cylinders, so to speak. “Hearing” God, or feeling His will in your spirit, only comes after you’ve worked to develop a true relationship with Him, and get to know His voice as opposed to the lying voice of the Enemy. Knowing God in this way will help you to navigate around the trouble the Enemy has planned. This concept alone has completely changed my life, and the lives of my family as well. Read this excerpt from my book on prayer:
Our family got to experience the benefits of having a close relationship with God and being able to discern His instructions to us not too long ago on a car drive with my kids. We were approaching a 4-way stop in which both roads had speed limits of 55 miles per hour. I stopped, and with no one waiting at the signs going the other way, would have normally proceeded through the sign. But the Lord immediately spoke to my spirit. Wait. Having gotten better at hearing His voice through the reading of the Word, I immediately obeyed. I looked, and saw approaching on my left a distracted drive who obviously didn’t see the sign and had no intention of
slowing down. At 55 miles per hour, he came to and passed through the intersection quite fast, and didn’t slow down or realize what he had done until about 100 feet after he’d blown through that stop sign. I know that in the “olden days” before the Word of God had been planted in my heart, I would have looked
no further than the intersection, proceeded through that sign, as was my right, and been t-boned at 55 mph with my kids in the car. The results for all involved would’ve been disastrous. Thanks to the wisdom that comes from spending daily time in the Word, all that resulted was some embarrassment and hopefully some conviction for the distracted driver, and, of course, a very grateful mom and her 4 children. Experiences like this have happened to my family and I more times than I
It’s very, very difficult for people to admit that there is an Enemy out there wanting to take their lives, and to admit they make choices that can bring trouble to their lives and the lives of their families. Facing the fact that we and we alone had gotten our family into a dangerous amount of debt was horrible. The guilt, shame and sadness (all from the Enemy) tortured us for years. It was horrible, but we didn’t know or understand how to change. So we started to pray that God would give us His wisdom in all situations.
That’s when things started to change.
Prayer works. The more we sought to know God and His Will, the more we asked for His Wisdom, the more we humbled ourselves and made Him and His will the center of our lives instead of ourselves the center of our lives, the more our lives changed for the better. Don’t get me wrong; we still struggle with things, because we live in a world where there is an Enemy after us and where people have free will to do things they shouldn’t do. But now that we know and understand God’s will, through the studying of the Word and through a close relationship with Him, it is MUCH easier to navigate around the troubles the Enemy has laid out for us. This is the difference. Now that we understand God’s tremendous love for us and what His real will is for our lives, we no longer take the Enemy’s crap – we fight back, with what we know about the truth that is God’s will for us as it’s laid out in the Bible.
We now have our own Bodyguard, so to speak, helping us, protecting us, and guiding us, and it’s delivered us out of more troubling spots than I could probably ever fit into a book. And the true “good news of the Gospel” is that He’s available to you as well.
If this post has left you with questions, the very best place I can send you, beside to the Bible, is to Andrew Wommack Ministries. This guy knows the Bible and knows it well. Visit www.awmi.net and go to Teaching Articles on the left sidebar, and have a very, very Merry Christmas.
He changed my thinking on scripture indeed.
Me too, Byron. The guy knows his stuff!
Thank you sincerely for sharing your testimony. I struggle with building a real and better relationship with God. I hope next year will include some lasting changes in my prayer life. Cheers and Merry Christmas!
You can do it, DB40. The desire for more is the right beginning.
Nicely done. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Jim. Glad it blessed you.
Thanks for sharing, Laurie! It breaks my heart to know that the actions of ‘Christians’ can often cause others to have a negative view of Christ.
Yeah, it’s sad stuff. But that is the good news of Christ: we’re all a work in progress, but He loves us anyway!!! Have a blessed day, DC. 🙂
Thanks for your boldness in sharing this. Yes, we must be that light in the world for those who do not believe. What a responsibility we have! I always marvel that someone whom I have just met will tell me all their problems and troubles. I hope it is because they can sense the Spirit in me and that I show an openness to all.
We too have not been in a formal church for about 6 years. That is not to say that I have not had years of great service, fellowship and friends in a church. I have also taught in every church I have ever been in. But the last church we were in, just kinda’ did me in. I never saw so much friction among the staff in my life! And you know, Laurie, Jesus really was against the established church on the corner. He didn’t want us to be so involved with property, assets, the pastor’s retirement etc. He felt that the temples of His day had lost their spiritual center. I always felt a responsibility to support my church financially (they have bills after all), but was torn because I could not give as much to others in need. (I also felt that some churches did not sacrifice enough for those outside the fellowship.)
Our relationship with God is very personal. As Christians, I feel that we must seek Him ourselves through His Word and discover His truths on our own. I feel it is imperative that we are not influenced too much by what others say and teach. Our own convictions and His plans for us must guide our lives. I received Jesus into my life when I was just 19 ( I was a wild child up to then!) and I have been on the path of salvation ever since!
Isabella, I couldn’t have said it better myself!!! Your family’s relationship with Christ sounds much like ours: out of the surface stuff and into the deep, personal, wonderful relationship that gives and shows you so much. What a wonderful God we serve. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom here, Isabella!
I totally agree with your first statement/quote! I feel like I only began a strong relationship with God a few years ago and that before I just went through the motions of going to Church. Glad to hear that you listened to HIS voice and waited at the intersection! Great post! 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it, Stephanie! Yes, this “new” relationship with God and Jesus has improved my life tremendously!
Right off the bat my reaction to Bono’s comment is that it is pretty hypocritical. He has a problem with Christians but not Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.? Individual practicioners (sp?) of any faith can behave in ways that shed a bad light on their religion. But you seem to have found a faith that is very satisfying to you and for that I congratulate you. I have to admit that sometimes my faith wavers, and then something comes along to make me ashamed of my cynicism. I WANT to have complete and unquestioning faith but fear I have a long way to go.
Have a very merry Christmas season, and a blessed new year.
I totally agree, Kathy, about practitioners of all faith behaving in ways that shed a bad light on their religion, but as a Christian, his quote really struck a chord with me, in that I myself have a long way to go before I am behaving as Jesus behaves, which is my goal. I think too, that all of us waver in our faith, whatever it is, at times. I think one of the keys in unwavering faith is that we know in our souls that the faith we’ve chosen is right for us. Once I really studied who the God of the Bible is (as opposed to just listening what “authorities” said about Him), I felt confident in my choice to have Him as my Savior, and confident in who the Bible says He is, and that has helped my faith tremendously. Best of luck to you on your own faith journey in 2014!
Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts, Laurie, and so fitting for the season! I’m grateful to hear you heard Jesus’ voice during the intersection – miracles and saving graces like those *do* happen, but I think people need to have an open heart and mind about it, even if it means feeling vulnerable or confused at times. That’s my thoughts on it, at least. I hope you have a wonderful New Year! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend!! Yes, since we’ve been more open to hearing the Lord, we have had many, many, many “miracles” in this family.
Thanks so much, Anita!!
The start of your post reminded me of dc Talk:
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
It’s so disheartening to see the damage that other Christians actions have done to nonbelievers. I’ve heard stories from some people that make me actually understand why they would run away from the God of a person who did such things to them… And I have no doubt that some actions in my life have done nothing but deny Jesus with my lifestyle, so I don’t say it from a judging standpoint, just a disheartened one.
But you were also right when your wrote “I often lament for those who reject God or deny His existence. Whether or not we believe in Him, the fact of the matter is that He does exist, and He is the Creator of all that we see.” And for that I’m grateful. Everyday but especially during this season.
Which song is that, Mel? I love dc Talk. Yeah, I’ve been the recipient of those same times of actions, and it’s very hard to watch us as Christians continue to do it to others. But, praise God, we are a work in progress, should we choose to be, instead of “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3:7). May God help us to have an open heart to always be learning about Him!!!
“I often lament for those who reject God or deny His existence. Whether or not we believe in Him, the fact of the matter is that He does exist, and He is the Creator of all that we see.”
I guess I don’t understand how this statement can be made. Sure, I understand that many people believe in God and they have that right, but it is faith and not fact.
I guess we’ll both find out one day whether or not it’s faith or fact. I may not believe that, for instance, moose exist, but just because I’ve never seen one doesn’t mean they’re not there.
I consider myself to be spiritual, but I have had a difficult time “finding” god in church. Eric and I attended a service at the Catholic church by my parent’s hometown (he’s Catholic, I’m not). It was the first time I’ve been in a church in probably 10 years. It wasn’t really for me for a number of reasons, but it’s something that’s important to him and I don’t mind going occasionally to show my support of his freedom to practice his religion the way he chooses 😉
That is just awesome, KK, that you are supportive of Eric. We left the church because we too had a hard time finding God in church. What we’ve learned from this is that the God of the Bible very often isn’t the God that many churches talk about – He’s much, much better!
Hi Laurie, Great post! Found my way here from Single Moms Income…I’m a bit curious though…are you saying that you left the physical church because you felt a stronger relationship with God personally versus in the actual church? Would you be willing to attend church again if that was not the case?
Hi Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by! We left the church at God’s leading, due to largely incorrect teachings at the church we were at, which, sadly, is happening in so many churches today. We will absolutely attend a church again if and when the Lord tells us to, but we have found that our relationship with Christ has grown by leaps and bounds since we started receiving so much of our teaching straight from the Word of God. The book of Revelation warns us of apostasy in the church in the end days, and I don’t wonder if this is where many of the Christian churches of today are heading.
I enjoyed this post. I’ve been a Christian since I was 9 but have all but given up going to church. I’ve never been able to “hear” that voice or feel what I need to feel. I grew up in a very bible oriented church. We could spend 3 sermons on two versus translating them back to Greek and Latin. At some point it dawned on me that this just couldn’t be the way to develop a relationship with God because general literacy in the population didn’t really happen until the 19th century. People certainly weren’t able to read scripture in their own language and translate it back to Ancient Greek to derive the meaning. It seemed to me we were modern day Pharisees showing off our bible knowledge but lacking the sentiment behind the words. Anyway, I’m still all these years later confused about how to hear God. I pray regularly but I’m the only one talking.
Susan, thank you so much for sharing your heart, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Head on over to this post I wrote at another site: http://www.christianmomliving.com/2012/02/13/the-art-of-hearing-god/ . And email me if you want more info. I have some thoughts on this. thefrugalfarmer (at) ymail dot com
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