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No conviction of sin

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by losthope, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I am very relieved to read that. I asked those questions partly due to me wanting to rule out any alternative reasons for your situation, and partly due to me hearing cases of people who had dabbled in the occult and how badly things turned out for them.
    Well those things may have happened or you have met people that God sent to you in response to those prayers, but because you do not have any awareness of God's presence you have not realised that.
    These days with so many worries and life being so fast-paced I am not surprised that very slight changes in you may have gone unnoticed. It is spiritual life not spiritual growth you should be looking for in the time you said you believed you were a christian.
    Do you ever look at Jesus Himself or just a concept of a Higher Being?
    If God sees you as a child of God through a faith in Him that is what matters. Galatians 3:25-26
    I hope you're not referring to biblical miracles or being spoken to personally like the prophets were in the Old Testament. There is no guarantee that christians will be spoken to except by the Bible and/or inner guidance of the Holy Spirit. Now read this verse Ezekiel 36:26 then think: does it is say that the heart is the feeling part of us? Does it say there that at that exact moment when a person has received faith in God they will "feel it" or "know it" intuitively? Is there a guarantee that we will always sense whether God is speaking to us? Does it say there we will always know God is speaking personally to us so we don't ever have to think for ourselves/make our own decisions independently of God?

    Again what is a christian transformed by? romans 12:2 Is there any mention of a feeling component necessary there to know whether this knowledge is from God? Don't christians have the Bible to work what pleases God or not?
    I hope it helps you consider depression from God's point of view.

    P.S. 1. Saralynn is making some very good points about doubt and emotions. :)
    2. Don't assume all emotions are non-spiritual/psychological crutches. God will use emotions to speak to christians if that is what they need personally at that time. I have also seen massive spiritual change in incest survivors after many tears in "spiritual healing" counselling. Rule-of-thumb: look at the fruits of those christians' emotional experiences. If they grow closer to God and in holiness then their emotions were spiritual and should not be discounted as "all in the mind".
     
  2. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    Lost Hope: I must admit that I thought that the part of me that began this thread and has answered the questions and comments in various postings was the part that was observing what happened to me. Certainly not the “waaaaah” aspect. I am investigating a possible explanation for my spiritual experience (or non-experience), not complaining because I did not have the experience.

    When I said “Waaaah”, I was describing myself, not you! It irritates me that God is a pal to a lot of other people, most of whom are neither morally superior or inferior to me, and some of whom are jackasses. Not fair! Makes me think grace is arbitrary, which, now that I think about it, is better than having to “earn” God’s favor, like He is a high school teacher or a handsome guy you want to date.

    Lost Hope: There is a huge difference between a temporary apparent absence of God and my situation of never having any response from God. Mother Teresa could look back on what God had done for her in the past. I am unable to do that.

    Mother Teresa revealed in her letters to her confessor (which he later turned into a book against her wishes) that she started to doubt whether her previous experiences were real or if she deluded herself into believing they were real. I mean, she suffered for 30 something years! She was miserable. Not just “Wah!”, but “Oh, please God, my heart is broken without you….every day is a torture…I am a fraud…help me. I love you, where are you?” If I were a cynic, I would say she may have needed some anti-depressants.

    Lost Hope: I totally agree with you that if a person responds emotionally to a thought of God, it does not necessarily mean that God is not real. That was not what I was trying to say in my statement. In fact it is more complex than that. I am sticking to my statement that if I gained emotions and then thought that I had found God because of some emotional response, then I would know for certain that it was just emotional illusion. I could explain it to you, and I will do this in a private message if you wish, but I do not want discussion of this to hijack this thread.

    I completely understand what you are saying. I often joke that if God really DID appear to me, I’d get myself to a psychiatrist in a hurry because it would be so out of character. That, or maybe I’d become a saint. Like you, I simply do not seem to feel the gamut of emotions that everyone else seems to naturally feel. Unlike you, it is not biological in nature, unless you call the brain being indoctrinated for 20 years biological. My parents ridiculed emotional people, so I learned fairly early to repress them. Then I spent 40 years reading philosophy, starting with Marcus Aurileus, so now nothing much perturbs me or elates me. Actually most things amuse me. Not all, of course, because then I'd be a monster, but the basic follies of humanity. Do you have a sense of humor or does that fall under the category of emotions?

    Gotta go. Feel free to write me privately. Never done that, so I’m not sure how to go about it, but, I’m sure I can figure it out.
     
  3. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    You are right when you say that I am not against Christianity. I do lack conviction of the validity of any religion, because I am not at all sure whether or not there really is a spiritual realm. If it does exist, I seem to be unable to interact with it in any way.

    I would not say that there was a definite moment when I started to have major doubts. It was more a gradual process as I realised that God had not responded to me in any way that I was aware of.

    I can understand why God would back away from a person who is falling into sin, or backsliding. That was not the way it happened to me. It was not God backing away; it was God not being there in the first place, as far as I was aware.

    Christians seem to find it very difficult to accept that I really did get no feedback from God that I am aware of. There has never been a time when the Holy Spirit lit up my life. It is so different from their experience, and so different from what the Bible promises. Yet that is what happened (or did not happen).

    I can assure you that I am being honest in my investigation. I am digging for that treasure. And it might be right where I am standing. It just seems to be very hard to find.
     
  4. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under.

    You wrote this:
    Well those things may have happened or you have met people that God sent to you in response to those prayers, but because you do not have any awareness of God's presence you have not realised that.

    Very often, when I tell a Christian about my apparent lack of feedback from God, they find it difficult to accept that I am telling the truth. They try to persuade me that God did act in some ways, implying that I have either forgotten about these acts, or dismissed them in some way, or was unaware of them. All I can say is that if anything did happen that I am unaware of, it has not helped me at all. If I am unaware of God’s presence, then what is the point of being a believer? Faith is about knowing God, and if I do not know God, something is wrong. There were times towards the end of my time as a believer when I was praying desperately for something to show me God working in my life. Yet there was no response to my prayers. God obviously would have known what would happen if I continued to get no response to my prayers.

    Either God chose not to respond – and allowed me to fall into decades of hopelessness about my faith. Or there was some barrier that not even God could remove – but I never found out what it was, so I could not do anything about it.

    These days with so many worries and life being so fast-paced I am not surprised that very slight changes in you may have gone unnoticed. It is spiritual life not spiritual growth you should be looking for in the time you said you believed you were a christian.

    I recall nothing either of spiritual growth or of spiritual life during the time that I was a believer. I wish I could give a different answer, but I cannot. Nothing spiritual happened that I am aware of.

    Do you ever look at Jesus Himself or just a concept of a Higher Being?

    I look at what Jesus did and what Jesus said. When I was a believer my beliefs about Jesus were the conventional ones. Now I really do not know. I can conceive of ideas, but of course I have no way of confirming or denying them.

    I have a concept of God. I do not think in terms of higher beings as such.

    If God sees you as a child of God through a faith in Him that is what matters.

    That is a big “if”. All I can say is that if God sees me as a child of God, then I have seen no evidence of it.

    I hope you're not referring to biblical miracles or being spoken to personally like the prophets were in the Old Testament. There is no guarantee that christians will be spoken to except by the Bible and/or inner guidance of the Holy Spirit. Now read this verse Ezekiel 36:26 then think: does it is say that the heart is the feeling part of us? Does it say there that at that exact moment when a person has received faith in God they will "feel it" or "know it" intuitively? Is there a guarantee that we will always sense whether God is speaking to us? Does it say there we will always know God is speaking personally to us so we don't ever have to think for ourselves/make our own decisions independently of God?

    There are many ways in which God could respond to someone. All I can say is that I have no awareness of God responding to me in any way whatsoever. I do have some knowledge about how to try to confirm if something is from God, or not.

    I was not expecting to get instant feedback from God as soon as I put my trust in God. Some people do get a rapid response; others have to wait awhile. Knowing this I did wait, and for many months I was happy to wait until the time was right for God. It was not until I had waited for a year that I began to have doubts.

    Some people get God’s guidance at times and at other times they have to make their own decisions. However, that is very different from never getting guidance from God and always having to think and make decisions independently from God. If there is no apparent change in a person after they become a Christian, even after a year, wouldn’t you start to ask questions?

    Don't assume all emotions are non-spiritual/psychological crutches. God will use emotions to speak to christians if that is what they need personally at that time.

    Oh no; I am not assuming that all emotions are non-spiritual. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that God could use emotions to influence a person. Indeed it would be perfectly reasonable for God almost always to use emotions to influence people – except for the fact that there are people like me who are unable to receive such an influence. For me, God would have to use a different way to respond to me. One of my concerns is that because the emotions are so often involved in the ways that God appears to act, then I would be permanently excluded. I am sure that God ought to be resourceful enough to find an alternative means of responding to me, but it has never happened.

    You refer to some Bible verses in your postings. I know that Christians say that the Bible was written for everyone. However, there are some passages in the Bible that are clearly written for “normal” people – people who are able to think, to feel, and to have emotions. Some of what is written in those passages inevitably will not be relevant to me. In particular, whenever words such as “heart” or “love” are used, I suspect that the passage is not relevant to me. Indeed, I have to hope that some verses are not relevant to me, because verses such as 1 John 4:8 appear to exclude me from knowing God.
     
  5. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To saralynn.

    You wrote this:
    When I said “Waaaah”, I was describing myself, not you! It irritates me that God is a pal to a lot of other people, most of whom are neither morally superior or inferior to me, and some of whom are jackasses. Not fair! Makes me think grace is arbitrary, which, now that I think about it, is better than having to “earn” God’s favor, like He is a high school teacher or a handsome guy you want to date.

    If God is God, then presumably God can choose who to be pals with and who to ignore. I agree with you that arbitrary grace is better than having to earn God’s favour. As for that handsome guy, I would prefer to date his sister.

    Mother Teresa revealed in her letters to her confessor (which he later turned into a book against her wishes) that she started to doubt whether her previous experiences were real or if she deluded herself into believing they were real.

    Yes, I can understand someone starting to doubt that their previous experiences of God were real. I also recognise that seeming to be apart from God for more than 30 years was a very unhappy experience. But at least she had the option of having something to doubt. I have also been waiting for more than 30 years, but without any previous experience of God.

    Like you, I simply do not seem to feel the gamut of emotions that everyone else seems to naturally feel. Unlike you, it is not biological in nature, unless you call the brain being indoctrinated for 20 years biological. My parents ridiculed emotional people, so I learned fairly early to repress them.

    When I first joined Christian Forums, I started a thread asking if anyone else had never had any spiritual experiences. Three of the people who responded were, like me, former believers who had left their faith because they never had any kind of feedback from God, and who also lacked emotions, all for different reasons. Whatever Christians may say, the evidence seems to point towards emotions being essential for people to experience God. I find that very worrying.

    Do you have a sense of humor or does that fall under the category of emotions?

    Yes I do have a sense of humour.

    Gotta go. Feel free to write me privately. Never done that, so I’m not sure how to go about it, but, I’m sure I can figure it out.

    I will contact you privately.
     
  6. oi_antz

    oi_antz Opposed to Untruth.

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    Well knowing the truth is just a matter of using your brain to think in favor of God instead of against Him. Remember the famous verse "lean not on your own understanding but on every word from the mouth of God"? How do you suppose we can even get to hear the words from the mouth of God? My understanding of this is that the Holy Spirit teaches us when we think about the truth of God, and when He speaks we have the opportunity to believe what He says or believe a lie. So when we think about what Jesus said "lust is adultery", do we believe that lust is sin, or do we believe that it is ok? That's just one example, probably the most famous, but the depths of theological thinking can get quite interesting.

    What sort of thoughts do you get when you read this verse:

    Matthew 18:3
    New Living Translation (NLT)
    3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    What do you think it means to become like a little child? To me I have always thought it means to learn with curiosity, you know how children are always asking lots of questions and thinking a lot, but they always look up to the grown-ups for answers?

    I think that is the sort of manner we need to approach God with, when reading the bible and even when pondering our memories, having our heart in a place where we are ready to learn something we never knew before.

    The bible is a very heavy book, it really stimulates us to think. What I'm saying is the result of our reading, the thoughts that we get really depend so heavily on the position of our heart when we read. If we are so proud that we think the bible is just fairy tales then we won't receive much enlightenment when we read. If on the other hand, we are ready to know what God wants us to know (whatever that may be!), then we can learn a lot from God.

    Whether we think in favor of God or not makes all the difference. I remember when I came back to God after walking 11 years away, all I had to do was conjure up enough faith that I cried out to Him "show me the truth", then all it took was one passage to shove me into the light, all my memories suddenly lined up with the bible and suddenly the bible was all true! I just read and read and the more I read the more I understood about what had happened to me, how I'd gone so far away, how much God loves me, what I had to do. Everything suddenly made sense in favor of Jesus Christ!

    So I can only advise you that whenever you read the bible, pay special attention to whether you are willing to think in favor of God or not. That will determine which spirit you will choose to listen to, and be aware that there are many spirits that can influence our thoughts. Not every spirit comes from God.
     
  7. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    Losthope: As for that handsome guy, I would prefer to date his sister.

    Again, narcissist that I am, I was talking about myself (or the self I used to be) Waaaah!

    Looking forward to hearing from you. We really do have a lot in common, except that you were a Christian and I was simply a theist. My theism incorporated Christianity, but was not restricted to it. Where we are similar is that when my faith gradually eroded, then suddenly, as a result of a personal crisis, totally disappeared...I felt bereaved. My whole life had been built upon a foundation of faith and without it, I felt empty and confused. I had never experienced God, but, it didn't distress me. Intellectually and emotionally, I assumed life had some kind of transcendant meaning which involved striving for holiness and that was sufficient. More than sufficient...it was glorious! I felt like I was part of some great cosmic enterprise that was vitally important and everything I did was significant. When I doubted it ALL....yuck. Goodbye to the saints, hello to the existentialists. Trust me....Sartre ain't no Jesus!

    I am so pleased you have a sense of humor because if you didn't, then I'd really feel sorry for you. Emotionless, without a sense of humor. Sounds like an old boyfriend of mine. However, if you are British in temperament, your sense of humor is probably a little dark and quirky. If so, we should get along quite well.
     
  8. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I suppose that's because many christians are able to look back before/ after conversion and are able to see how they view things differently? I don't mean to sound dismissive of how you genuinely view things at this point in time. That is my worldview right now talking.

    Remember there were quite a few years that I felt, thought, believed that there was no way I would ever know that a relationship with God could be a real one I had "lost" the feelings you have never felt after my brain surgery. I understand the frustration of no spiritual experiences to help me through the difficult times. I dismissed all experiences I had before the surgery as hallucinations and therefore invalid. I remember the feeling of being ripped off, thinking I could never have been a real christian (when I compared myself with others). I remember the despair and hopelessness and I became resigned to my fate of never "knowing" God and I turned my back on religion overall. You may not be feeling that (because you have not experienced emotions at all) but you sure seem to be typing the exact thought processes I had back then.
    Hebrews 11:1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
    Do you know who defined faith as knowing God? The earliest heretics that the early church had to deal with in the first century - the gnostics.
    "The definition of Gnosticism.... implies that man's redemption and justification is not by faith in God according to the Scriptures, but rather in "mystical knowledge" acquired by a personal experience. This is the theme that is intrinsically intertwined in all the doctrines of the cults and occults." Strange Fire:Gnosticism.
    I understand the despair that you are currently experiencing. I am sure you have heard all the platitudes that if you wait long enough you will see an answer to you prayer one way or the other. I understand the frustration you hear when people say things like "God's answer must be 'no' then."
    I think you mentioned before that if it wasn't for what you are currently experiencing you wouldn't have been able to help others. Can you see that a christian could view you as being a great servant of God because of your suffering? (Yes that is an emotional word but I can't think of a better one at the moment.) Uniquely qualified to minister in your own special way?
    Have you looked at much objective factual evidence to support the christian viewpoint on Jesus yet? I don't normally give such an advanced link but I think you deserve some very good scholarly material that you would find more trustworthy than more beginner christian apologetics websites. The New Testament Gateway | NTGateway.com | Dr Mark Goodacre
    You've got a few christians who are genuinely trying to answer you as well as we can and with as much consideration for your current position as possible. :) Can you view that as God maybe approaching you via us?
    Yes I would. And then as soon as I found out someone was in your situation I would immediately throw out that mental/spiritual guide book on how to tell whether a person is a real christian out forever, and trust that God is making allowances for you as well. (Yes I am a softie and that is why people are happy to confide in me because they know I am unlikely to judge them. I know how I have sinned in the past and I know my own personal weakneses very well.)

    Every christian has their own cross to bear. Some have medical, some have family issues, some have financial. That is why christians should try to support each other within reason and within their own personal limits (e.g maintaining healthy personal boundaries). Galatians 6:2

    If the spiritual changes remain invisible to the human eye God is still rejoicing in those changes in that disabled child of God. Staying stable and unchanged in your situation is one thing, because objectively lack of emotion is a medical issue not a spiritual one in your case. However if a self-proclaimed christian was backsliding, knowingly commiting sin and not caring about the consequences (and without any mental illness to explain that apparent spiritual deterioration) that is totally different. Of course there are conditions e.g. James 5:19-20.

    Are you able to stop viewing your lack of emotion as a spiritual one and keep your objective "it is health issues only" glasses on? I am genuinely amazed that someone with your condition sounds so sane and in control of their thoughts and emotions. I was originally a registered nurse and worked in dementia/brain damge area of a secure wing. I remember very clearly a middle-aged woman who brain cancer in front and back of brain and that affected her emotions/judgement and her balance very badly. Same with other residents with severe brain injuries and conditions.

    Can you possibly view that your stable condition is actually a miracle and a remarkable blessing from God? That despite your current situation and the fact you may never experience any feelings in this life that you have been greatly looked after and are blessing others through and despite your suffering?
    God works where the person is at. If a person will respond to emotions I am sure God uses them. Same for circumstances. Same for people. Same for thinking like you.
    That does not matter. Don't be so self-conscious. It is God's love, God's compassion, God's mercy that counts, not whether you feel that towards God or not. Remember that all-important verse john 3:16 . Those who believe, not know, not experience, not feel, not experience physical body sensations....
    Do you trust that God could know whether you love others or not? Didn't He make you? psalm 139 Do you show love in action? Do you remember what Jesus said about worrying? Matthew 6:25-34
     
  9. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To oi antz.

    You wrote about thinking in favour of God instead of against God, and reading the Bible in a similar way. I do not read the Bible or think “against” God. I would not say that I was thinking either in favour of God or against God. But perhaps I have not understood quite what you mean.

    You asked this:
    What sort of thoughts do you get when you read this verse:
    Matthew 18:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
    3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.


    I get no particular thoughts at all. It is a verse that people seem to have interpreted in many different ways, according to what they want to say about attitudes and somehow relating them to children. It is a verse that leaves me blank, because I do not know what to make of it.

    oi antz: Whether we think in favor of God or not makes all the difference. I remember when I came back to God after walking 11 years away, all I had to do was conjure up enough faith that I cried out to Him "show me the truth", then all it took was one passage to shove me into the light, all my memories suddenly lined up with the bible and suddenly the bible was all true! I just read and read and the more I read the more I understood about what had happened to me, how I'd gone so far away, how much God loves me, what I had to do. Everything suddenly made sense in favor of Jesus Christ!

    I am very pleased for you, that God showed you the special meaning of the Bible passage for you. Unfortunately nothing similar has ever happened to me, however much I have prayed, however strong my faith. This is precisely the kind of experience that I have lacked.

    So I can only advise you that whenever you read the bible, pay special attention to whether you are willing to think in favor of God or not. That will determine which spirit you will choose to listen to, and be aware that there are many spirits that can influence our thoughts. Not every spirit comes from God.

    My experience suggests to me (although I accept that there is the possibility that I am permanently deceived in this) that there are no spirits that can influence my thoughts, because I have no spiritual awareness. For this reason I could not possibly choose which spirit to listen to, because I cannot detect any spirits. Also, it is the first time I have seen a suggestion that a spirit not from God might influence a person’s thoughts when reading the Bible.
     
  10. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To saralynn, you wrote this:

    We really do have a lot in common, except that you were a Christian and I was simply a theist. My theism incorporated Christianity, but was not restricted to it. Where we are similar is that when my faith gradually eroded, then suddenly, as a result of a personal crisis, totally disappeared...I felt bereaved. My whole life had been built upon a foundation of faith and without it, I felt empty and confused. I had never experienced God, but, it didn't distress me. Intellectually and emotionally, I assumed life had some kind of transcendant meaning which involved striving for holiness and that was sufficient.

    Yes, I can relate to much of what you write here. My life had also been built on a foundation of faith, and I was very empty and confused without it.

    saralynn: However, if you are British in temperament, your sense of humor is probably a little dark and quirky.

    You are probably right about my sense of humour, though I do not know the reason for it.
     
  11. oi_antz

    oi_antz Opposed to Untruth.

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    It's very real. When you read the bible you will either draw nearer to God or further. Either your reading will give you a better understanding of how good God is, or it will give you a better understanding of how wrong God is.

    This is how an atheist can be an expert on the bible but be so hateful toward God at the same time. It is because they have not listened to what God's spirit tells them when they read, they are listening to an enemy spirit. So they will swear that it doesn't make sense (because to them it doesn't), that it contradicts itself (because they aren't listening to what God says), that science proves it is wrong (because they don't actually believe that God is real and has actually said these things), that parts of the bible are wrong (because they cannot make sense of the big picture).

    Notice in all of these cases they are unable to see the truth that Christians see, and it comes down to the fact that they are not humble when they read. They have not become as a child in order to learn from God, so instead of choosing the thoughts that God offers them, they choose thoughts that aren't from God.

    I'd like to show another verse to you, maybe this one can stimulate you to think in favor of God (by now you would have already decided yes or no to that):

    42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

    Now Jesus said this to a group of Pharisee disciples. How do you think this verse applies to modern believers? Can you see that there are some people who belong to God who listen gladly to the words of God, while others cover their ears or hurl insults at the preacher? Why do you think it is, that some people love to hear the truth about God while others hate it so much? I have my own theories but I'd like to know what you think.
     
  12. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    I'm not at all sure that what G-d means by the Bible saying He will "take out of us a stony heart, and give us a heart of flesh," that He is referring to us feeling emotions. Personally, I think He is concerned with us responding to Him, which of course means we must be aware of Him, and be able to perceive Him. Does this sound like something you want?

    I would be curious to see what others on this thread think about the meaning of this phrase, esp. as it pertains to emotions ...
     
  13. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    :thumbsup: Yes it is, and that is the attitude to have! Here are a couple examples:

    "if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding;
    (Proverbs 2:4) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures"

    "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." (Psalm 42:1)
     
  14. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    That is honest! Allow me to attempt to reveal a very heavy concept in the Bible, that explains a lot about why some people have G-d very involved in their lives, and many do not at all.

    Moses was like, a BIG figure, right? He was going about his business, in about the most mundane way imaginable. Nothing particularly unusual happened, yet he turned aside to look. And it was in that situation that G-d spoke to him!

    What should this tell you? In a situation like this that Antz called your attention to, if you will discipline yourself to dwell upon it for a while .... this is how G-d has always involved Himself in the lives of His people.

    This is VERY true! I could point out many posters on CF that have been afflicted with this tragedy, and yes there is a pattern they all have in common; but Antz put the way to avoid that very clearly. Just be sure to agree with G-d as you read it, think "favorably towards Him" I think is the way he put it? I do find that the mindset I approach the Bible itself with makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in what I get out of it. Here is a brief summary:

    1. Approach the Bible with the attitude that it is God speaking to you, telling you about how to relate to Him. Pray with a quiet, meditative spirit, for exactly that. Ask Him to show Himself strong to you, in ways you haven't known yet. It's ok to stir up your hunger, but try not to let that stir up your emotions.

    2. Do this every morning, and every evening. We can talk about Scriptural reasons in depth later, but it is God's way.

    3. As you read, anything that looks good PRAY FOR IT. Specific examples I've found powerful:

    a. Is 50:4 "The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to [him that is] weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. (Jesus got this, prophetically. (Jesus got this, prophetically. Talk about humility!)

    b. “That[bless and do not curse]the[bless and do not curse]God[bless and do not curse]of[bless and do not curse]our Lord Jesus Christ,[bless and do not curse]the[bless and do not curse]Father[bless and do not curse]of[bless and do not curse]glory, may give unto you[bless and do not curse]the[bless and do not curse]spirit[bless and do not curse]of[bless and do not curse]wisdom[bless and do not curse]and[bless and do not curse]revelation[bless and do not curse]in[bless and do not curse]the knowledge[bless and do not curse]of[bless and do not curse]him:” Eph 1:17

    c. Realize EVERY instance of "the wicked man" in Proverbs is you (me / us).
    Yeah, ouch.

    4. If there's time for more involved praying after this, fine; but more likely there will be other things you need to go do. Don't think they take you away from God because they DON'T! Just don't leave home w/o Him. It's in the doing that prayer seems to be most helpful. "Pray w/o ceasing," keep a prayerful attitude; there is room in His kingdom for our own unique style. The calling is to abundant LIFE.
     
  15. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under.

    You wrote this:
    I remember the despair and hopelessness and I became resigned to my fate of never "knowing" God and I turned my back on religion overall. You may not be feeling that (because you have not experienced emotions at all) but you sure seem to be typing the exact thought processes I had back then.

    I also remember having thoughts of despair and hopelessness both in the months before and in the months after giving up my faith. It took me about six months after leaving Christianity before I was able to come to terms with my new situation and begin to get on with my life without God.

    Faith is about knowing God, and if I do not know God, something is wrong.
    Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
    Do you know who defined faith as knowing God? The earliest heretics that the early church had to deal with in the first century - the gnostics.


    My apologies. I used the wrong word when I wrote that “faith” is about knowing God. I should have written that being a Christian can be seen as a relationship with God, and that if there is no relationship, something is wrong.

    I think you mentioned before that if it wasn't for what you are currently experiencing you wouldn't have been able to help others. Can you see that a christian could view you as being a great servant of God because of your suffering? (Yes that is an emotional word but I can't think of a better one at the moment.) Uniquely qualified to minister in your own special way?

    There is no doubt that my experience has enabled me to help other people in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. However, looking at it from your point of view, the help that I give people is secular, not Christian. Having said that, I remember that on an Alpha course about four years ago I was able to give to the senior pastor what might from anyone else be called ministry. Using what I learned from other Christians before, during and since my time as a believer.

    Have you looked at much objective factual evidence to support the christian viewpoint on Jesus yet? I don't normally give such an advanced link but I think you deserve some very good scholarly material that you would find more trustworthy than more beginner christian apologetics websites. The New Testament Gateway | NTGateway.com | Dr Mark Goodacre

    I agree that many Christian apologetics sites are for beginners and are not much help to me. I looked at the link and there is a huge amount of material there. Are there any one or two sections that you could particularly recommend?

    You've got a few christians who are genuinely trying to answer you as well as we can and with as much consideration for your current position as possible. Can you view that as God maybe approaching you via us?

    If and when I find God, then I may be able to look back and say that God was working through you. Until then I am afraid that I am going to have to reserve my judgement.

    Are you able to stop viewing your lack of emotion as a spiritual one and keep your objective "it is health issues only" glasses on? I am genuinely amazed that someone with your condition sounds so sane and in control of their thoughts and emotions. I was originally a registered nurse and worked in dementia/brain damge area of a secure wing. I remember very clearly a middle-aged woman who brain cancer in front and back of brain and that affected her emotions/judgement and her balance very badly. Same with other residents with severe brain injuries and conditions.

    You seem very sure that I am in control of my thoughts. And that my judgement has not been affected. Not everyone would agree. It is probable that the effects of my medical condition have been to make me a very different person from the one I would otherwise have been.

    It is possible to view my lack of emotion as a purely health issue quite separate from spirituality. But to me, it is far more likely that the two are linked. The reason is as follows. I happen to suffer from a fairly rare medical condition, and even for people with this condition, only a few lose their emotions. In other words, I am unusual in this respect. I also happen to be a person who spent two years as a Christian believer yet never had any spiritual experience; again this is unusual. It seemed to me that it was much more likely that the lack of spiritual awareness was in some way linked to the lack of emotions, rather than suggesting that I happen to have two rare conditions simultaneously.

    Can you possibly view that your stable condition is actually a miracle and a remarkable blessing from God? That despite your current situation and the fact you may never experience any feelings in this life that you have been greatly looked after and are blessing others through and despite your suffering?

    To the first question, no, I do not see it as a blessing from God. To the second question, a partial yes, because I do recognise that it has enabled me to help others.

    It is God's love, God's compassion, God's mercy that counts, not whether you feel that towards God or not. Remember that all-important verse john 3:16 . Those who believe, not know, not experience, not feel, not experience physical body sensations....

    I appreciate what you are saying, but I would not have used John 3:16 because I am not interested in eternal life.

    Do you trust that God could know whether you love others or not? Didn't He make you? Do you show love in action?

    I am not in a position where I am able to trust God, nor to agree that God made me. But I can speculate about the God that I can conceive of, and that God would know whether I loved others.
     
  16. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To oi antz.

    You write in terms of either/or situations, such as here:
    When you read the bible you will either draw nearer to God or further. Either your reading will give you a better understanding of how good God is, or it will give you a better understanding of how wrong God is.
    It is because they have not listened to what God's spirit tells them when they read, they are listening to an enemy spirit.
    I'd like to show another verse to you, maybe this one can stimulate you to think in favor of God (by now you would have already decided yes or no to that):
    Can you see that there are some people who belong to God who listen gladly to the words of God, while others cover their ears or hurl insults at the preacher? Why do you think it is, that some people love to hear the truth about God while others hate it so much?


    There are some questions that have a yes or no answer. There are other questions where there can be many answers. I do not think in a yes/no way, and so I find it difficult to answer your questions in the way that you ask them.

    Also, as far as I am aware I have never had the opportunity to listen to God or to an enemy spirit. I just have no spiritual awareness. It means that when I read the Bible I have only my own thoughts and memories to guide me.

    You asked this:
    Why do you think it is, that some people love to hear the truth about God while others hate it so much? I have my own theories but I'd like to know what you think.

    My answer is this. Some people love to hear about God, some pretend to love to hear it, some are curious, some are indifferent, some hate to hear it and some pretend to hate to hear it. There are also probably others who listen but think that they could do it better. Each is responding according to their lifetime experiences, including experience of hearing about God, and according to their mood at the time.

    You asked the question in terms of the truth about God. I assume that what you mean is what you believe to be the truth. I appreciate that some Christians insist that their faith is always right even in the face of contrary evidence. But you should not expect a non-believer to do the same.
     
  17. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To razeontherock, thank you for three postings.

    You wrote this:
    I'm not at all sure that what G-d means by the Bible saying He will "take out of us a stony heart, and give us a heart of flesh," that He is referring to us feeling emotions. Personally, I think He is concerned with us responding to Him, which of course means we must be aware of Him, and be able to perceive Him. Does this sound like something you want?

    Would I like to be able to respond to God, to be aware of God and in some way to perceive God (or the things that God does)? Yes.

    That is honest! Allow me to attempt to reveal a very heavy concept in the Bible, that explains a lot about why some people have G-d very involved in their lives, and many do not at all.
    Moses was like, a BIG figure, right? He was going about his business, in about the most mundane way imaginable. Nothing particularly unusual happened, yet he turned aside to look. And it was in that situation that G-d spoke to him!
    What should this tell you? In a situation like this that Antz called your attention to, if you will discipline yourself to dwell upon it for a while .... this is how G-d has always involved Himself in the lives of His people.


    Sorry but I do not understand. Maybe you are trying to outline what they call a spiritual truth, and with my lack of spiritual awareness I am not very good at understanding spiritual truths.

    You then wrote about prayer and reading the Bible. I agree with you that your mindset affects what you get out of reading the Bible. But as a non-Christian it is just not appropriate for me to put in the time that you suggest in prayer. When I was a believer I did pray and read the Bible morning and evening, and often at other times as well, but it never brought me any closer to finding God.

    To put it another way, here are the statistics of my lifetime prayer life and Bible reading, including the time that I spent as an active believer:
    - Number of prayers: thousands
    - Number of answers to prayer: none
    - Number of times that God spoke to me in some way when I read the Bible: none
    - Number of times that God responded in any way: none

    With that track record do you really think that I am able to approach the Bible with the attitude that it is God speaking to me? Or to pray with expectation?
     
  18. oi_antz

    oi_antz Opposed to Untruth.

    +259
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    This is interesting, maybe because I am a programmer I have a strong binary understanding of logic. I think if you have a question that can have many answers, then all those answers would either be the same, or only one answer can be true. I do not believe that there are multiple truths, it is a logical fallacy. If there appears to be multiple truths, then either one is right while all the rest are false, or they are all right to some extent.
    This is the thing: your thoughts are the key to the spiritual realm. Even if you are not aware of it, does not make you immune to it. Read what Paul said:

    2 Corinthians 4:4
    Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

    This is why I said if you are to think in favor of God then you will learn a lot.
    Good observations, I must say.
    Not really. I mean to say that truth is objective and absolute. It is our fascination (some more than others) that propels us to understand the truth. Thus some people find various disciplines to be somewhat rewarding in this sense. The objective truth about Jesus is that He is the son of God who brings to earth the full revelation of the religion of Christ that earth has been told through prophets but has not fully understood. This revelation is still ongoing. It is the discipline of Christ's mindset that propels me to think and behave in the same manner that He thought and behaved, to become innocent and pure in the sight of God. That is what I mean when I speak about the "truth of God".

    Of course, if you don't happen to believe that Jesus is who He is, then you will have some other belief about what truth is, and you have already indicated this is so. Not everyone is called to be Christ's disciple, but the offer is there.

    Here is how Jesus answered it, and you can see that even Pontius Pilate was confused about the truth:

    37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

    Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

    38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.
     
  19. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    +138
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  20. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    +138
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    Did you find it liberating at first i.e. able to do what you wanted without thinking of eternal outcomes? I know I was like that and many other atheists say similar things. Also did you have meaninglessness like King Solomon describes set in? Ecclesiastes 1
    OK, that clears that up. An "appears to have no relationship" christian and "no relationship at all" christian are totally different. There are backsliders and then there are complete fakes, frauds or followers of Churchianity. There are probably other options you can think of as well.

    Using your logic shouldn't you then dismiss Jesus' praise of the theoretical "good samaritan" because it hadn't been part of an official church ministry? Luke 10:25-37
    Do you think a real atheist/agnostic would be able to do that? Were you happy (again I don't know which word to use!) or satisfied that you were able to help another christian then? Do you think genuine atheists would be wanting to help a pastor with his christian teachings? Matthew 12:30
    Wow that's a big ask of me! How about start with the Gospel of Mark since it's the shortest and most factual of the four? Introduction to Mark’s Gospel | NTGateway
    Definitely fair enough and a position I approve of (having had to adopt it myself). Christians need to have a strong faith built on a strong foundation. Matthew 7:24-27 To have that a christian has to have firm beliefs in what Jesus says - not mere feelings.
    The logic and clarity of thoughts that come through your typing! And no matter what people say or think God really knows where you're at. Psalm 118:6
    I have a neuropsychiatry book that I got to try to understand why I had changed after my surgery and I have also read other medical journals that say lack of emotions due to neurological conditions can occur sometimes. I also did my librarian practical training at THE top medical research library in Australia and despite my own brain surgery still remembered all the neurology and medical lingo from my nursing training *again just by chance*. (I had to take advantage of free access to all those online journals of course!) One of the symptoms of serious depression a Blunted affect Again, since depression is a biological issue in your and my case then God will make allowances for our weakness.

    Emotions/feelings are part of what makes us human - see I emphasise part NOT all. You would be incredibly strong in other areas that most people are not. Do not forget that. :) It would be boring if we were all the same.
    Faith in God will help us tell the difference between Spirit, Soul and Body . Like a scapel God's word is able to cut through all the distortions and self-deceit show us the truth about ourselves and about God. hebrews 4:12 Again see in that passage there is no guarantee that we will feel anything when that happens.
    That's a start. Like me you have to put aside all worry of how you feel (or don't feel) compared to everyone else. I know it is hard when everyone else seems to have it so easy experience-wise. A (big!) part of me still wishes I felt what I think others do instead of me. But I try to remember what Jesus says: John 8:32 , John 14:6 . It is the Truth that saves us, not experiences, not feelings......
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
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