The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Ask a Question

Image result for q&a

You can use the form below to submit a question. If you include any details in your question that you do not want to be posted on this site, enclose them in ((double parentheses)).  You can also ask us to post only your code name.  The more details you provide, the better we can help you.  Length is not an issue. 

 


384. I was very impressed when I read in End Time Prophecy: Why God Withholds Information that Christians will think that the end time prophet actually comes from the devil. I find this very interesting as this creates a sort of paradox regarding the book of Revelation. Even though the book was never written for us, Christians will start trying to find parallels with every image and symbol in the book (antichrist, beast, 666, etc) and basically as you wrote, they will accuse God of being Satan. My question is then, when this happens I won’t be able to call myself a Christian anymore, because I now know better than to insult God like that. What am I then? Does that mean no more church, friends and family? Should I leave everything behind and focus on God and what He tells me personally? I just think if I ever told or anyone knew what I think about the end time prophet and the current situation I will be persecuted. Should I stand up and speak the truth and probably die or should I just run far away to an isolated place in the country and keep quiet?

The members of the ISIS terrorist group claim to be Muslims who are promoting the only “right” version of Islam.  Does this mean that no sincere worshiper of Allah should call himself a Muslim because a small group of sadistic animals are using the same title?  There is a small cluster of Americans who feel that “true” Americans should embrace white supremacy.  Does that mean the rest of us should stop identifying ourselves as Americans and surrender the title over to that small group of fools?  Certainly not, and the same goes for the term “Christian.”  A Christian is someone who lives in submission to the God Jesus Christ and His two Divine Peers.  Is that what you do?  If so, then you are a Christian.  Just as no follower of Islam should let ISIS terrorists redefine what a true Muslim is, and just as no American should let a small group of bigots redefine what an American is, you shouldn’t let a bunch of spiritual nimrods control how you define what a Christian is.

The term American refers to citizenship or country of origin.  It doesn’t specify a certain set of beliefs.  The term Christian simply refers to someone who follows the God Christ–it doesn’t imply anything about denominational identity or what kinds of religious rituals the person participates in.  Christians come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and they express their devotion to Christ in a wide variety of ways.  Just as ISIS terrorists are merely using Islam as a tool for furthering their own perverse agendas, many people who don’t care at all about Christ are calling themselves Christians because they feel it benefits them to do so.  Is Christ going to start taking offense at the fact that you’re verbally associating yourself with Him just because a bunch of other people are misusing the term?  Of course He isn’t.

God is pleased by all forms of sincere worship because He judges us by our soul attitudes.  Some people use the term “Christian” to insult God, others use it to compliment and honor Him.  God knows how you personally use the term, and that is what He responds to.  Remember that no matter how rebellious other people are around you, their rotten attitudes will never cause God to start misinterpreting your personal motivations towards Him.  When it comes to you pleasing God with the words you use and the things you do, other people simply don’t come into it.

So then, should you let other people control the way you describe your personal beliefs?  Certainly not.  But does that mean you have to walk down the street publicizing what you feel about God and His prophet?  No, it doesn’t.  As we explain in our articles about witnessing, trying to convert other people to Christianity or trying to impress them with your views is a waste of time.  When no one’s asking you about your views, and God is not prompting you to say anything, then there’s no point in you volunteering information.  Should God want you to take a stand on some issue, He will give you clear conviction to do so when the moment arises, and then your motivation to obey will be to please Him, not to make a certain impact on other humans.

God is the One you’ll need to rely on to guide you through the end times.  Christians will be useless–not because they’re Christians, but because they are humans, and humans are incapable of guiding you well in spiritual matters.

As far as associating with other Christians during the end times–don’t make this an either/or issue.  God wants His people to be wide open to doing anything He says.  You don’t want to go into the end times with a long list of “God would never tell me to do X.”  Maybe God will want you to hang out with other Christians.  During the end times, we will see a resurgence of house churches, and this is where a lot of the sincere Christians will end up (since the larger churches will be heavily pushing anti-prophet agendas).  Don’t rule out the possibility of God connecting you with a great support network, because He has many sincere followers in this world who will end up siding with Him once He helps them understand what is going on.  Because there will be so many families ripped apart and such an overwhelming need for people to share resources and help each other, there will be a ton of opportunities to be a blessing to others, and God will undoubtedly get you involved.  Meanwhile, the end time prophet will be appearing all over the globe and interacting with many different individuals.  If God should set up an interaction between you and His prophet, He will tell you how to handle it.  Focus on obeying God in the moment and then trust Him to walk you through whatever fallout occurs.

Are people going to feel comfortable with you siding with the end time prophet?  Of course not.  Just as you’d find it disturbing to have a neighbor who was hanging ISIS’s flag on his front porch, people will not understand how you could consider siding with someone who is acting so monstrous.  But does this mean you’ll end up in some terrible persecution situation?  Not necessarily.  God can just as easily use the situation to inspire conversations between you and others that will help people better understand what is happening.

Authorities will not have the time or resources to chase down every yahoo who seems to be cheering the end time prophet on.  The people they will be most interested in are those who might have intel about where the prophet is planning to strike next or people who can be used as leverage to make the prophet give up the “secret” of how he (or she) does what he does.  Since this person isn’t going to have a long list of friends, and since he will come across as a sociopath who demonstrates an abnormal lack of concern for the welfare of the people closest to him, it’s going to prove impossible for authorities to find any useful targets to interrogate.  Other people simply won’t know anything helpful, and this will cause authorities to focus the bulk of their aggression directly at the end time prophet.  The point is that it’s going to take more than saying “I think he’s with God” to cause you to get to the top of a government hit list.  Sure, you can get a lot of flack from other people, but you will also make allies by helping those in need.  When a bunch of people are buried under rubble and there isn’t enough manpower, no one is going to turn down your help because of your theological beliefs.

Fans of ISIS sometimes try to support their leaders from afar by grabbing guns and doing their own little terrorist acts.  ISIS leaders encourage this kind of thing by publicly inciting their followers to do violence.  But the end time prophet will be nothing like a typical terrorist.  First, he is going to be doing feats that no human can imitate.  Second, he will be working alone.  He will not be soliciting or accepting followers, he won’t be trying to form a support network, and he won’t be forming alliances.  Being for this person simply will not have the same affect on your behavior that being for a terrorist group would.  Folks who understand that the end time prophet is from God will have that same God convicting them to help those in need around them, and they’ll be wanting to obey Him, so the pro-prophet folks are not going to be standing out as a bunch of hateful creeps who threaten social order.  For so many reasons, this will be a very unique period of history.

383. I have seen where many have believed that Balaam did not get into trouble with YHWH, because he was unable to”curse” Israel..but doesn’t it show in scripture where he did teach the children of Israel to have relations with unsuitable “people” and defile themselves???

Bear in mind that Jewish Scriptures (aka the Christian Old Testament) do not come anywhere close to giving a full description of the man Balaam.  But what little is told about the man makes it clear that he was operating in a state of spiritual rebellion–not because of his actions against Israel, but because of his actions against God.

Balaam was a sorcerer-for-hire who understood about the reality of supernatural beings.  He made his living by trying to manipulate those beings for his own purposes.  People would pay Balaam to bless or curse people on their behalf.  Why pay Balaam?  Well, why call on a Catholic priest to pray some special blessing over your home?  People have always clung to superstitious beliefs that titles like priest, prophet or sorcerer prove that a man can control the flow of supernatural power.  Is this really true?  Of course not.  God doesn’t take orders from sorcerers, priests, healers, prophets, prayer warriors, or anyone else.  Balaam’s professional success depended on people putting their faith in lies–especially the lie that human beings have the ability to manipulate supernatural beings.  The folks who lived in Bible times were big believers in “the power of the spoken word.”  Just as Christians today foolishly believe that merely speaking Jesus’ Name out loud unleashes some kind of supernatural power, folks in Bible times thought that they could unleash supernatural power and control the future just by declaring the things they wanted to happen out loud.  It was also believed that attaching the name of some accepted power source was a way to boost the potency of your prayers.  For example, a regular Jew might declare some curse in the name of Moses, because Moses was considered to be a powerful prophet with strong hookups to Yahweh.  The same was true for guys like Elijah and Elisha–once these people died and had time to become immortalized in Jewish culture, their names were added to the list of curse and blessing “boosters.”  Is it ridiculous?  Of course, but this is how it was.

The “service” Balaam offered was to cast customized spells in the name of any god or spirit.  You simply had to tell Balaam who you wanted to curse or bless and what supernatural being you were trying to manipulate, and he would do the rest–for a price, of course.  In Numbers 22, what you find is the story of what happened with just one of Balaam’s many clients.  A king named Balak was feeling very threatened by the approaching Israelite army.  He had heard stories that Israel’s scrappy army had a long streak of winning against impossible odds because they were backed by a God who clearly had more power than the other gods of the region.  (Of course there were no other gods in the region, but everyone thought there were, and people act on what they believe, not what is true.)  Balak’s purpose in hiring Balaam was to preemptively cripple the Israelite God before the Israelite army could launch an assault on Balak’s territory.

Now for a guy like Balaam, the act was 90% hooey.  Now and then he’d run up against a supernatural being who would actually talk back to him, but for the most part, he was just bulling his customers by going through a bunch of meaningless rituals.  It’s the same with mediums today–most of them are shamming, but now and then demons actually get involved and start taking over the theatrics.  In such moments, the mediums suddenly realize that they are no longer in control.  This is what happened to Balaam.  He was all set to launch into his usual phony act of connecting with the spirits when suddenly Yahweh took over and forced Balaam to say things that he didn’t want to say.  Balaam had been hired to curse Israel–and since he was in it for the money, he had no desire to tick off his client.  Balak was so invested in supernaturally crippling Israel and her God, that he gave Balaam three chances to cast his curse, even though the sorcerer kept botching it.  Balaam really wanted to perform as expected, but Yahweh was physically forcing him to say what Yahweh wanted him to say.  The same kind of thing happens today when demons take control of someone’s vocal cords and force them to say things that they don’t want to say. But remember that in Balaam’s world, everyone believed in the power of the spoken word.  So when he kept verbally blessing Israel, it was perceived as a big problem because Balak believed those verbal declarations were actually strengthening Israel and her God.  This is why Balak was so upset–he felt like Balaam was making the king’s problems much worse with his verbal blessings.

Now after three tries, Balaam is tired of looking like an idiot, and Balak is super mad at the sorcerer for botching it.  Before this event even occurred, Balaam was already in trouble with Yahweh for being a spiritual conman.  Balaam knew that he didn’t really have the power people thought he did. He was intentionally abusing trust and making a profit off of people’s spiritual foolishness.  When Yahweh messed with Balaam in Numbers 22, the sorcerer would have really had his eyes opened about just how powerful Yahweh was.  If Balaam had any smarts, he would have reacted with reverential submission and refused to keep trying to manipulate such a powerful Being.  But because Balaam was rebellious, he refused to submit to Yahweh and instead kept trying to curse Israel in order to get paid.

Now the fact that a king reached out to Balaam tells us that the man was successful in his sorcerer career.  The biblical world was teeming with sorcerers and Balak would have had many guys to pick from.  The fact that he chose Balaam indicated that Balaam had a reputation for being very good at what he did.  With such a reputation bringing in the prestigious clients, Balaam couldn’t afford to have it get out that he couldn’t manage to effectively harm Israel.  So after being humiliated in front of Balak, Balaam looked for some other way to try and deter the Israelites from attacking Balak’s kingdom (which was called Moab).  Balaam would have wanted to get back on Balak’s good side so that the king would say good things about him (instead of ruining Balaam’s hard earned reputation).  Since Balaam was already a skilled conman, and since the Israelites were such rebellious twerps who had no interest in honoring Yahweh, it wasn’t at all difficult for Balaam to entice Israelite soldiers into worshiping the gods of Moab.  Sexy Moabite women lured lusty Israelite soldiers into their beds and into their idol shrines, and soon the Israelites were big fans of the Moabites.  Men aren’t going to want to attack a people group who they have become emotionally attached to, so all of this sexual romping that went on between Israelite men and Moabite women seemed a clever way to neutralize the military threat that Israel had become to Moab.

Now how do we know that Balaam was involved in enticing the Israelites to convert to Moabite religions?  Moses says so in Numbers 31:

“These Moabite women are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against Yahweh at Mount Peor.” (Num. 31:16)

This comment makes it clear that Balaam was the guy who incited Moabite women to use their sexual charms to lure Israelite men towards them.  Because of this, Moses orders all of these women killed.  Balaam himself was also killed by Israelite soldiers (see Num. 31:8).

So, was Balaam in a good place with Yahweh?  No, he was a spiritual rebel.  When faced with the evidence of how supreme the Israelite God was, Balaam refused to submit to that God, and instead tried to cripple His power by trashing His human army.

Among Christians and followers of Judaism, there is a superstitious belief that Israel is God’s golden girl, and anyone who refuses to fawn over her is going to be in trouble with God.  Well, no, this is just Jewish ego talking.  Someone’s standing with God doesn’t have bumpkus to do with how he treats the nation of Israel or ethnic Jews.  It is only a man’s soul response to God Himself that he is judged by.  Because of the way people thought in Bible times, warring against Israel was a conscious effort to attack the God of Israel, which everyone knew was Yahweh.  This kind of thinking was based on superstitious beliefs that the world was full of gods who were claiming certain physical territories.  But in real life, Yahweh is not the God of Israel–He is the God of all.  If you are a soldier who does not believe that Yahweh is the God of Israel, then you are not trying to attack Yahweh when you attack the nation of Israel.  This was not the case in ancient times–to attack a nation was to attack her gods.  Beliefs matter: God knows the difference between humans trying to assault Him and humans just attacking other humans without being aware of His involvement.  Just as a Muslim will interpret world events differently than a Christian does, people in Bible times had a different theological view of war and curses than many people do today.  Once you understand how intentionally Balaam was trying to weaken the God Yahweh through his attempted curses and his scheming with Moabite women, you can see that Israel really had nothing to do with it.  Balaam was in trouble for his personal rebellion towards Yahweh, not for the way he treated certain humans.

382. Quick question about the ETP, he is a human being, that is clear. It’s also clear that if God decides to start the end times soon, that person needs to be alive today. So I was thinking, this is a person that someone actually knows right now. He/She probably has a family, has studied somewhere and even worked. How is that going to affect the ETP’s work given that if people/government know who he/she is they might come after his/her family and use them as leverage. And on the other hand, will the ETP unleash God’s miracles upon his own family/friends etc? No special treatment for family, spouse or friends?

Since you are not the ETP, you don’t need to concern yourself with these kinds of details.  We only discuss the ETP to give people guidance as to how to interpret this person’s actions and to help people understand how they should respond to him/her.  Now to answer your question, yes, authorities will use any means they can dream up to try to stop the ETP.  Naturally attacking this person’s friends and family will seem like a great place to start.  Is God going to keep the ETP’s associates in a cloud of bliss?  No, He’s not.  Being associated with the ETP will be costly, but like all humans, those who get targeted due to their association with the ETP will have the opportunity to respond to their trials in a way that will benefit their souls.

Bear in mind that God has extensively trained the ETP for this assignment.  Under normal circumstances, no human would be able to endure the level of persecution and assault that will be a part of this job.  Every human has a breaking point which really isn’t hard to find if you know a few things about interrogation tactics.  The fact that the ETP is going to be impossible to break or deter will be entirely due to God supernaturally empowering this person to stay loyal to Him.  The point is that God knows what He’s doing.  He has chosen exactly who He wants for this job, and He will be very satisfied with the results.

381. Is there any way to stop abusing myself (masturbation). I already tried “no-fap”, but it’s way too hard. I’m a 23 male and I don’t want to develop ED or anything else that could result from this issue. I know that God condemns this type of behaviour and lack of self-control. He convicts me when I do it -especially with the things I look at, which are downright abominable – yet, I can’t resist. How can I get rid of this lust demon/spirit and move on with my life?

Both the desire and need for sexual release come from God.  These are natural earthsuit (body) issues–they aren’t spiritual creatures.  Although demons are clearly involved in trying to make you feel like garbage for this issue, there really isn’t any demon of lust. Emotions and passions are not spiritual entities, just as your hair and skin are not spiritual creatures.  While there are many branches of Christianity who demonize emotions and desires, such theories are absurd.

If you want help, you need to change your goal to be in alignment with God.  You want to stop struggling with sexual desires.  God wants to mature you spiritually.  These are two very different goals. The sooner you abandon your own agenda and get on board with His, the sooner you will benefit from this experience.

Here’s a vital spiritual growth principle which can really help you out in life: every problem in your life is put there by God to teach you something that will benefit your soul.  God does not bring problems into your life to watch you scramble to get rid of them as fast as possible. Because Christians tend to view problems as bad things, they have a habit of praying for God to remove those problems the moment He brings them.  They then pray for nothing else but a removal of the problem until God does what they want.  By the time God does remove the problem, they’ve learned nothing from the experience because they spent the whole time focused on what they want and never bothering to ask what God wants.  If you want to not waste your life like this, you need to take a whole new approach to how you handle problems.  First, recognize that they are intentionally brought into your life by a God who is focused on the goal of maturing you spiritually.  Second, ask Him to help you learn everything He wants to teach you.

Now there are undoubtedly many useful principles that God is interested in teaching you through this struggle with masturbation, but we can help you out with one that is central to your relationship with Him.  You clearly do not understand the topic of Divine judgement very well.  No one does at first, so this is quite normal.  Notice how you’re so focused on changing your BEHAVIOR.  Why?  Because you think God is judging you by your earthsuit’s actions and desires.  In other words, until you act and think in purely righteous ways, God is going to have a beef with you.  Well, no, this just isn’t true.

God judges you by your soul’s response to Him.  Your soul has no sex drive. Your soul is not your body.  When God says “Don’t masturbate,” your soul can either say, “Stuff You,” or “I want to do what You want. Have Your way in my life.”  The first response is spiritual rebellion, the second response is expressing the soul attitude of submission which is very pleasing to God.  Now let’s suppose you choose the correct soul response.  Does obeying God on a soul level guarantee that you’ll have the resources to make your earthsuit align with your soul’s choices?  Not at all.

A man who is riding a galloping horse can yell at the horse to stop, and he can pull on the reins to try and make the horse stop, but the animal has a will of his own.  If the animal doesn’t want to stop, he won’t stop, and the man will be forced to go wherever the horse wants to take him.  This is often the case with your soul and your earthsuit.  Your soul can yearn to please God, but it does not have the power to force your earthsuit to do what it wants without special help from God.  We call that special help Divine empowerment.  Without empowerment, you will be unable to make your earthsuit obey a command from God, even though your soul is practicing submission.  This is the crisis you’re currently in: your earthsuit craves sexual release and loves things like pornography and perversity.  Well of course it does–it’s an earthsuit, and earthsuits are drawn towards these kinds of things.  It does not reflect badly on your soul that your earthsuit loves wallowing in perversity.  Every earthsuit does.  Of course most Christians would think negatively of you if they knew the kinds of things you were up to, because most Christians don’t understand how Divine judgment works. But since we do understand it, we know that your soul’s response to God is far more important than what kinds of sexual activities you’re engaged in.  You either sincerely care about pleasing God or you don’t.  You clearly care about pleasing Him because your soul is feeling disgusted by what your earthsuit is up to.  Your soul doesn’t want to participate in immoral behaviors, but it keeps getting dragged into them by an earthsuit that it can’t control.  This kind of struggle is common to all humans, it’s just that they don’t usually know how to interpret what’s really happening.

If you didn’t care about pleasing God, your soul wouldn’t be stressing like it is.  The goal now becomes to reduce your soul stress.  You think that learning how to control your earthsuit is the key to gaining soul peace.  You’re wrong.  The key to gaining soul peace is to correct your understanding of how God judges you and understanding that His opinion is the only One that counts.  God is pleased with souls who sincerely want to please Him, regardless of whether or not they can control their earthsuits.  God knows He is withholding the help you need to control your body, and He’s doing this on purpose to force you into the conflict of guilt that you’re now in.  He is using the pressure of guilt to motivate you to start seriously trying to find solutions to this issue–solutions that will actually work.  And now you’ve come to us, which is very productive, because we can teach you the spiritual principles that will help you align with God’s system of judging.

With God, it’s all about soul attitude.  If you make pleasing God your goal in life, your focus will have to shift off of your body and onto your soul.  If you want to make pleasing Christians your goal instead, then you will need to focus on behaving perfectly, because that’s what humans judge you by.  Of course living a sinless life is utterly impossible, which means there will be plenty of times you behave in ways that will cause humans to shun you. Humans are impossible to please, but God is extremely easy to succeed with.  Choose the right goal in life (pleasing God, not people), and you will have a chance to experience real joy.  Meanwhile, to get a better understanding of the issues we’ve been discussing here, read the following articles:

Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
Understanding God’s Definition of Success: Encouragement for Chronic Sinners
Soul Before Earthsuit: Understanding God’s Priorities
Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities

380. So I was reading an article here and I read this: “God isn’t cheap and He won’t just give Himself away for nothing. At some point, He’s going to require that you be willing to lose everything you care about in order to surpass certain levels with Him. ” Im trying to stay calm but I’m not very successful. Ok let me get this straight: for any Christian to get very close to God(s), he/she will have to sacrifice EVERYTHING they care about ever? I really do want to be close to God in eternity, but lately I feel like everything I do for God or because of God is based only on fear. I am scared as hell of what the Gods can do to me. I know it’s terrible but lately I don’t feel at all motivated by intimacy with God and am only motivated by fear of what will happen if I don’t comply. I know reverence is healthy but I honestly feel like eternity is gonna suck because it’s just going to be me giving up things I love in order to submit to God. I know it’s bad, and I know submission is very important but sometimes it feels like too much. And now I read that I need to give up EVERYTHING. There is nothing I value more in this world than my relationship with God but it’s so hard, y’know? And now I’m just doing it because I’m scared of what will happen if I don’t and not because I’m actively trying to become closer to God. I hope that makes sense. I feel real bad about it God has done so much for me already and I know I’m being ungrateful, but whenever I think of submitting to God all I think of is fear. Pls help?

The fact that you find this concept so daunting is a good indication that you’re actually grasping the seriousness of “putting God first.”  Christians toss that little mantra around a lot, but they rarely stop to think about its implications.  Of course God is going to demand to be the One we prize above all else before He’ll invite us to commune with Him in certain ways–and it should be rather obvious to us that before He could really be Number One, everything else must been knocked down in importance.  This is what we were talking about in the article you read–we were explaining what it really means to “put God first.”

Now because all humans start off caring about many things and beings far more than they care about God, maturing to the point of really putting Him first is a process which takes time.  More importantly, this is a process which God must lead you through, and it sounds like this is the part you’re not understanding.

It’s very common among serious Christians to grow impatient with their rate of maturity and start looking for ways to hurry things up.  Suppose God is in a room with a locked door.  You want to be near Him, but you’re tired of waiting for Him to open the door and invite you in.  So you find a crowbar and start trying to bust through the door in your own strength.  This is often what is happening when you see folks take vows of poverty or transplant themselves into some miserable living environment to slave away at some altruistic sounding ministry.  Some branches of Christianity promote the idea that we can control the pace at which God draws near to us, hence we’ll get farther if we seek out ways of making ourselves miserable in this world.  Other folks start feeling guilty about enjoying any of the blessings God is giving them today because they feel He should be the only One they care about.  Then there’s you: so burned out by anticipating all of the painful sacrifices God might require of you that you don’t even want to keep pursuing Him.  What’s the solution here?  Stop trying to break down the door to God’s room.  Realize that this is a dance He must lead, and wait for Him to prompt you.

You can’t just leap into a position of total surrender to God.  This is a process which takes time.  You can’t even understand what it means to fully surrender to God until He educates you, and He intentionally stretches that education period out.  The point is that God just isn’t in a flaming hurry to have you reach some pinnacle of spiritual maturity.  All He wants is for you to be receptive to His leading and have a sincere desire to please Him.  When He asks you to do something difficult, you won’t be able to do it without His help.  This idea of giving up everything for God is something you do with Him, not something you do for Him.  You need His help to let go of things that are important to you, and God has many creative ways of helping you through difficult submission moments.

Here is a metaphor of surrender that might help you get a more positive view of this process.  Imagine that you are a kid who is clinging to a toy that you really love.  God wants you to let go of that toy.  You want to please God, but you don’t want to part with your toy.  So how does God respond?  Does He get angry and start beating on you until you finally drop your prize?  No, He has many nicer ways of handling this situation.  Perhaps while you’re standing there squeezing your prize, you feel a piece of the toy break off.  When you realize it’s ruined, you suddenly lose interest in it.  It doesn’t work right anymore, so now it means nothing to you, and suddenly it’s no longer hard for you to toss it aside like God wanted you to.

This metaphor captures just one of many positive ways that God can nudge us into positions of deeper submission to Him. The point is that every step in this journey isn’t going to be agonizing.  In fact, God intentionally alternates difficult seasons with easy ones in order to give us rest periods.  If we are willing to wait and trust Him to lead us through this process according to His timing and His style, we will find it doable. But when we try to hurry God along by inflicting misery on ourselves that He never asked for, then we are not only very miserable, but we don’t make the progress we’re trying to make.  God controls this process, and there is no way for any of us to modify or speed up His schedule.  The best thing you can do right now is to think about how much of your stress is focused on things that haven’t even occurred yet and might never occur.  Then ask God to help you stay in step with what He’s teaching you each day without trying to anticipate what the next lesson will be.  You can’t skip ahead in spiritual maturity courses–you have to complete the lesson God is working with you on today before He’ll give you the next one, and the next one will often be much different than what you think it will be.

379. I wanted to know if you guys cover the Apocrypha and the extra biblical “non canonized” books of the bible?

While we have discussed a couple of apocryphal books in the past, we don’t anymore.  There are two main reasons for this.  First, we have narrowed the focus of our new material to primarily discuss the end times.  Second, what passes for “God-breathed” Scriptures are already so bad that there’s no point in spending time wading through the utter foolishness found in many apocryphal selections.  The Gospel of Judas and the Book of Enoch, for example, are nothing more than highly superstitious Jewish writers gushing over angels with an idolatrous attitude and making up absurd stories about historical characters (such as Enoch, who really didn’t write or contribute to the Book of Enoch, even though the author claims to be recording Enoch’s words).

It’s helpful to realize that writing under false names was a common form of counterfeit in older times.  It’s rather similar to the modern concept of “ghost writers”–folks who get hired to write a book under some famous person’s name because the famous person has no creative writing skills.  The big difference is that the modern tradition of ghost writing usually involves contracts, cash, and the famous person eagerly agreeing to profit off of the talent of someone else. But in cases like the Book of Enoch, a different ploy was at work.  In that case, a fellow was intentionally trying to scam people into thinking he was passing on the original words of Enoch.  Enoch wasn’t involved nor did he give consent (because he had been dead for many centuries).  Instead, the writer was trying to use Enoch’s fame to make a profit for himself.

To understand the kind of forgery problems the early church leaders were dealing with when they sat around arguing about which books to canonize, think about the mess it makes today when someone creates a Twitter account pretending to be the American president or the Catholic pope or some major news outlet, and then goes on to say things that those sources wouldn’t really say.  In such cases, a lot of public chaos can be quickly caused when people just glance at the name on the account and trust it is a credible source.  People do these sorts of pranks all the time–sometimes to smear someone, but usually just to see evidence that they can affect public opinion.  Similar goals were being chased in the days of the early church.  The apostles Paul, Peter, and John, for example, carried quite a bit of influence in certain circles.  This meant that if you were to write a letter and sign in as one of these big names, then circulate the letter among the right people, you could get your own ideas quickly promoted.  If you were smart, you wouldn’t just sign a famous name, but you’d also put effort into imitating the personal writing styles of whoever you were pretending to be (which in the case of Paul, would mean dropping in a lot of self-exalting comments).  With so many forged documents floating around, it was a challenge trying to identify which documents were authentic.  The goal was for the canon to only contain documents which had been verified as authentic–meaning the person claiming to write them actually did.  But this raises another very important point which Christians are never taught to ponder: is authorship more important than content?

If you check out the articles we have written about portions of canonized books, you’ll find that we frequently point out to you when the author is being absurd–either theologically or factually.  The Gospel writer Matthew, for example, completely misapplies several Old Testament prophecies and claims that they were fulfilled by Christ, which is an utter joke (see Messianic Passages According to Matthew).  So what if everyone feels certain the Gospel of Matthew was really written by the Matthew who walked with Christ?  Does that make it okay for Matthew to completely lie about things Yahweh said to Jews in the past?  Is Matthew excused from having to be honest or correct in his teaching just because he’s Matthew?  Or does being a heavy hitter in the early church make it okay for a man to totally slander Yahweh’s Character, demean Christ, and encourage idolatry?  The author of Hebrews encourages people to hope for interactions with angels, even though God hates idolatry (Ch. 13).  Despite the fact that Yahweh and Jesus demand humility from Their followers, the apostle Paul pompously commands people to focus on him and strive to be like him because he’s supposed to be some ultimate example of spiritual maturity (see Applying 1 Corinthians 4: Paul is Da Man).  John says anyone who dares to disagree with him or any other apostle is in league with Satan (see Spiritual Discernment According to John).  Such carnal pride trips and egotism are hardly worth wasting time on, and yet these documents are promoted today as a critical source of truth for all Christians.  Well, no, such documents are full of guff.  Then we have the panting lust of King Solomon in Song of Songs, and his idiotic musings about how life is utterly pointless in Ecclesiastes.  Given what a spiritual zero Solomon was with his utter rebellion against Yahweh and his great efforts to pepper his kingdom with shrines to false gods, why on earth are we preserving any of his written musings?  Why do we call his thoughts “wisdom” when so many of his thoughts are idiocy?  The answer is that Solomon was mega rich and mega powerful, plus he reigned over Israel during her peak–that’s all it took for ancient Jews to make his words a permanent part of their Scriptures.  Christians then came along and stole the Jewish collection of Scriptures–flawed as it was–and they tacked on more selections that they’d fallen in love with. Just like the ancient Jews, Christians used a lot of really dumb reasons to canonize something–such as the knowledge that the original author had a lot of social clout in his day. Well, so what if a man is super popular?  Hitler was pretty popular in certain circles, and for a while he seemed very powerful and unstoppable.  So does that mean we should all immortalize every lunatic idea Hitler came up with and label his bigotry as “God breathed”?  Certainly not, but we’re perfectly fine doing this with the apostle Paul–a man who taught Gentiles to view themselves as lower class souls who Yahweh was merely using as bait to catch more of the only people He really loved (ethnic Jews, of course).  See the problem with this logic?

The purpose of our material is to help you spiritually mature, which is why we don’t encourage you to keep exalting idiocy, lies, and immaturity as “God-breathed” wisdom.  The collection of documents that Christians call their “holy Bible” has a lot of flaws.  A lot of the documents that the early leaders rejected are even worse, so the sooner you start thinking for yourself and asking God to give you discernment, the better off you’ll be.  Realize that no physical document or collection of human words can ever serve as a good substitute for God’s leading in your life.  Ask Him to teach you, and He will–but only if you’re open to Him telling you that a lot of what you thought was right is really wrong.  Don’t fall into the trap of asking God to teach you when you really mean that you just want Him to confirm everything humans are already telling you.  Most of what humans tell you regarding God is wrong.  If you want the truth, He is the only Source you can trust.

Recommend Articles:
Imitating the Idolatry of NT Jews: All Scripture is God-Breathed
How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human
More Lies from Paul: God Loves Jews More Than Gentiles (Romans 11)

378. humbled

It’s fabulous that you’re gaining new insights into truth. Of course the theory that you have to be in church to be in the will of God is complete rubbish.  The following posts might be helpful to you:

Fellowship In Perspective
Lifting Each Other Up in Prayer
Why You Don’t Need Community Confirmation
Applying Hebrews 10: Old vs. New  (this chapter is used to try and justify the need for fellowship)

377. Musings

Your assumption that we share your feelings of futility about serving God couldn’t be further from reality.  The mass deletion of articles on this site has nothing to do with undoing hard work. First of all, our work isn’t hard, nor do we find writing these articles to be a form of “endless labor.”  Simply quoting God is a much easier thing than trying to scrape up your own material.   Secondly, the major revision this site is undergoing is a step forward, not a step back.  For several years now, this site has dealt mainly with explaining principles of spiritual maturity, with the end times being a very minor side focus.  It has now become necessary to reverse this pattern, due to the proximity of the end times.  Of course God could choose to just unleash this period onto the world without giving any prior warning.  But in His great generosity, He is choosing to keep sharing information which has the potential to massively improve how people will attempt to navigate through this final chapter of human history on earth.  In the near future, we will be posting additional information about the end times which will expand on what we’ve already posted.  As always, the purpose of all material posted here will be to help souls improve their longterm futures with God.  In short, this really isn’t the time for you to be deciding that God is too tiresome for you to deal with.  You don’t have the option to cut ties with Him, and His patience for humans griping about His ruling style is rapidly wearing thin.  We would advise you to ask Him to help you improve your attitude towards Him while He is still willing to do so.  If you think God is difficult to deal with now, you haven’t seen anything yet.  We say this not to discount your frustration, but to give you a sober warning that both you and the rest of the world are soon going to be dealing with a much more hostile side of Him–one that is going to be very unsympathetic towards the sentiment of “trying to please You just isn’t worth it.”  It certainly is worth it considering what He’ll do to us if we refuse to take our submission to Him seriously.  This isn’t the time to focus on how far the real God is from some fictitious Being you’re dreaming of in your mind.  This is the time to be very grateful that the real God is still willing to shield you from the full force of His wrath.

376. Ryder

Since you’re asking, here is our advice.

Your acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and His control over evil is coming along nicely, but you are not as far along as you seem to think, and that is evidenced by your claims to be unbothered by the concept.  You see, a real understanding of God’s awesome power–especially His power to harm you personally–will drastically increase your reverence for Him.  Reverence is a fear–it is not a state of indifference. While you likely do feel at this point that you are truly unbothered by the extent of God’s power, this would cease to be the case if He were to behave in certain ways.  Our caution for you is to realize no human is immune to feeling deeply disturbed by certain aspects of God, and until you get connected with that part of yourself, you’re still maintaining a lot of denial in the relationship.  This is a very common strategy that humans use with God–you’ve already observed how common it is for Christians to pretend that God has nothing to do with evil for the sake of trying to protect themselves from feeling threatened by Him.  On the other end of the spectrum are folks like you, who claim to be totally undisturbed by all of the heinous things God does.  While it can sound extra-holy to pretend you’re just fine with God’s wildness, He is not a fan of false pretenses, and He will eventually push you to drop this self-protective cocoon of denial and start getting honest with Him about how much He disturbs you.  This next stage of growth will come in due time–we’re only giving you a heads up to help you be less shocked when it does come.  It’s not a failure to face how much you are disturbed by God’s choices.  He has intentionally designed humans to be strongly repulsed by much of what He does (and that in itself is disturbing when you think about it).

Bear in mind that reverence is one of the four soul attitudes that are vital to developing a close walk with God.  As uncomfortable as it will be to leave your current state of apathy over the way God treats many of His creatures, it will do fabulous things for your level of reverence, and that will help you progress further with Him.

Now let’s address the issue that you’re bothered by: that God might ask you to do something bad.  Well if you “totally get” that everything He does is good from His perspective, and if you really “don’t care”–then what bothers you about doing evil?  The answer is that you don’t like the idea of acting like a monster–and this is due to the concepts of right and wrong that God has hardwired into you.  What’s good about this crisis is that it’s causing a bit of honesty to pierce through this fog of denial that you’re in.  You see, it’s complete baloney that you just “don’t care” about all of the nasty things God is doing to people all around you. On some level, you care immensely–but it takes a lot for you to begin to acknowledge that.  It’s one thing to stand back and say “That’s just God being God.”  But if you’re the one directly associated with something you feel is wrong, suddenly you find it harder to pretend to be fine with it, even though you claim that obeying God is number one to you.   See the doubletalk here?  You’ve got a lot of self-deception hampering your thinking.

Your claim to not care about anything nasty God does indicates one of two things: you’ve either never experienced Him acting monstrous towards you personally, or you have and you’re refusing to face how much it upset you.  Either situation can lead you to have an inappropriately gleeful attitude over watching God hurting others.  Either situation can inspire you to put a lot of effort into distancing yourself from your honest feelings about God.

The more we realize how central God is to our whole existence as humans, the more critical it becomes to us to feel comfortable with Him. This leads to us feeling an urgent need to start downplaying any problems we have with God–such as the great lack of care He seems to express towards so many of His creatures.  You see, honestly facing our feelings about God involves a great risk, because we are incapable of resolving our problems with Him on our own.  What if He refuses to help us find some way to be at ease with Him?  Then where will we be?  We’ll be stuck feeling like the helpless pawns of a monster.  This is why so many humans won’t be honest about how much God’s involvement with evil disturbs them.  One group denies His involvement, another group claims to be totally comfortable with it.  Both groups are lying to themselves and simply stalling about taking that great risk we’ve described because at bottom they are afraid of losing God entirely.  As humans, we are incapable of snuggling up to a Being who mainly terrifies us, and there is no way to escape feeling a great terror of God when you really take a hard look at the kinds of things He does in this world alone (and that’s not even getting into the whole Hell package).

So then, are you really as strong and on top of it all as you currently feel?  No.  That euphoria you’re feeling is a product of deep denial, and it’s why so many people choose to cling to denial at all costs.  Denial brings us comfort right now, and it temporarily shields us from fears we’re not ready to face.  But it doesn’t last–and the longer we stay entrenched in it, the more upsetting it will be when those protective walls suddenly crumble around us.  If you want to do well in the fast-approaching end times (which have nothing to do with the current US/North Korea drama), it would be wise of you to ask God to help you get more honest in your relationship with Him.  It’s great that you’re intellectually acknowledging God’s involvement with evil–but your grasp of that concept needs to get a lot deeper than it currently is.  As we explain in our end time material, God’s actions during this period are going to deeply disturb all humans–even Christians who think they are above such things.  The sooner you stop trying to pretend you’re stronger than you are, the better off you’ll be.

375. Is every little thing posted on this website God’s words? I know a while back in one of your posts you said you were a mouthpiece for God, that you guys were prophets. I’m wondering how much of the information on this website is from God.

Read over the question you submitted and think about what you’re asking here.  Suppose you had a friend named Fred, and you read a news article in which someone claimed to quote something that Fred said.  If you wanted to verify the accuracy of the quote, should you try to contact the reporter who wrote the article or should you call up your friend Fred and ask him if he really said what was printed?

You’re asking us if anything on this website is information from God.  Well, we’re not Him, so why are you asking us such a question?  If you want to know if God agrees with something on this site, or if He is the Source of any of our articles, you need to ask Him, not us.

On this site, we have written a bunch of articles predicting what will happen in the end times.  As soon as you start predicting the future, you are prophesying, whether you want to admit it or not.  As soon as you start declaring what God wants or what God thinks about certain things, you are putting words in His mouth, whether you want to admit it or not.  We don’t shy away from owning up to what we’re doing here: we’re obviously speaking for God.  We’re claiming to know things that only He could tell us.  But so what?  Any moron can claim to be talking for God.  Any bloated ego can flaunt titles in your face.  You shouldn’t be impressed by such things, nor should you ever view human claims as sufficient proof that is God talking.  Until God Himself confirms to you that something we say is true, you have no basis for accepting it. 

The world is full of Christian preachers and prophets who will gladly deceive you for their own gain.  You have no idea of knowing what our true intentions are for running this site–only God does.  And you have no reason to believe anything we say until God Himself tells you to.  We are not God, and we will never be an acceptable substitute for God in your life no matter how often we claim to be speaking for Him.  You should treat everything we say as questionable until God gives you reason to believe it.  If God tells you that we’re a bunch of liars, then you should cut ties with us and go find better teaching elsewhere.

You’ll never progress past spiritual infancy until you stop relying on humans to do your discerning for you.  You must go directly to God. You have as much access to God as we do, so there is no excuse for you being lazy in this area.  “Is this a message from God?” is a question that you should never be asking a human–instead, you need to be asking God.  If He doesn’t give you an answer right away, then you’ll have to postpone making any conclusion until He does.  God is the only Teacher you should be relying on to educate you in spiritual matters.  Everyone else is irrelevant.

Recommended Reading:
Christian Prophets Explain the Mechanics of Prophecy: Don’t Just Believe What We Say
Recognizing Your Spiritual Dependency On Humans
God Told Me: The Only Valid Basis for Faith

374. What is the inner meaning of Genesis 47:9 & Job 14:1? Please explain.

Because Christians idolize their Bibles, it’s commonly said that every verse has many layers of meaning.  But, no, this simply isn’t true.  Often there is no deeper meaning, and this is the case with the two verses you’ve listed.

In both of these verses, what you find are grown men griping about their lot in life.  In Genesis, a very old Jacob (who is nicknamed “Israel” by God, and who has 12 sons), has just come to Egypt.  There’s a famine on, and Jacob has traveled to Egypt for two reasons: to get food, and to be personally reunited with his favorite son, Joseph.

Joseph was the guy who had the famous “coat of many colors.”  Joseph hasn’t seen his father for years, and Joseph is now working in the palace as the Pharaoh’s right hand man.  Joseph gets his elderly father an audience with the Pharaoh just as a perk (it would be rather like you being given a chance to meet the leader of your country face to face).  Pharaoh looks at Jacob, and is surprised by how old the man looks.  So he asks how old Jacob is.  Jacob then gives this answer:

Jacob said to Pharaoh, “My pilgrimage has lasted 130 years. My years have been few and hard, and they have not surpassed the years of my fathers during their pilgrimages.” (Gen. 47:9)

With this comment, Jacob is doing two things.  First, he’s bragging about the fact that he’s old and he comes from a line of men who lived even longer.  (In Jacob’s culture, living a very long life was considered a major blessing.)  Second, Jacob is griping about the fact that he’s had a hard life.  Jacob’s life has indeed been rather crummy, but this is largely due to the fact that Jacob has made such poor choices.  As a young man he was a greedy manipulator who tricked and cheated people.  As an older man, he created major strife among his wives and children by playing favorites.  Towards God, Jacob has been a selfish brat.  The man really isn’t a good role model of anything, so it’s not surprising he’s so unhappy. (To learn more about Jacob, see Jacob Wrestles with an Angel).

Next we come to Job.  Job was also a very miserable fellow, but for different reasons than Jacob.  The verse you’re asking about is part of a long speech that begins in Job 12.  To understand single verses, it’s always helpful to read the author’s entire thought.  That means if the verse is part of a speech, you need to find the beginning of that speech and read the whole thing.  Just studying one line out of context is going to confuse you.

The book of Job is mostly a long conversation between a man who is going through horrific trials in life (Job), and some of his adult friends who have come to comfort him.  The friends aren’t much help–all they do is sit around saying that Job has a bad attitude and that he is being punished by God for rebellion.  Job keeps insisting he is not rebellious, but that he’s being unfairly persecuted by God for no good reason.  As is very typical for folks going through a spiritual valley, Job spends a lot of time griping about the way God runs the world and talking about how unfair it all is. Chapter 14 begins with this comment:

“Man born of woman is short of days and full of trouble. He blossoms like a flower, then withers; he flees like a shadow and does not last. Do You really take notice of one like this? Will You bring me into judgment against You? Who can produce something pure from what is impure? No one! Since man’s days are determined and the number of his months depends on You, and since You have set limits he cannot pass, look away from him and let him rest so that he can enjoy his day like a hired hand.” (Job 14:1-6)

Here Job is saying: “Leave me alone, God!  Stop spending Your energy on making me miserable!  I’m like a short-lived flower that blooms today and is gone tomorrow.  Human lives are so short and full of misery, so why do You even make demands of us?  Aren’t our lives hard enough?  Leave us alone so we can at least hope to have as much happiness as a hired servant might have.”

This is another gripe session.  Job is frustrated and miserable, and in his current state, he finds it totally unreasonable that God would require anything from him.  So he tells God to go away.  Elsewhere in the book, he begs God to speak to him.  It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions which depicts how humans react to going through very hard times with God.  (To learn more about Job, see JOB: Lessons We’re Afraid to Learn.)

372. I didn’t talk with God for a long time so I can’t feel if God is always with me but these days, I’m afraid about North Korea news because I live in South Korea I want to have a relationship intimately with God before I die How can I go back to when I was in a nice relationship with God??  I’ve heard today that people outside of South Korea actually feel the tension of Russia, US, and China considering North Korea. As for the people in South Korea, most have no idea how much things are at stake, because we just think, “Oh it isn’t the first time the North got irritated for no reason at all, after all, for all these years nothing serious happened!” But now I’ve heard that this Monday could be the deadline to a start of war. I’ve been warned to buy toilet paper and other food necessary for surviving.  But now I think surviving isn’t what is most important. I think I have to be in the best relationship I could ever get with my Gods. But again, when war happens, it would probably be best for me to die a quick painless death but if that is not the case, i should necessities. Or I should get out of this country. What would God want me to do (cause He didn’t give me a clear answer yet)?

In our material, we often say that every trial or stress God brings into your life will be designed by Him to draw you closer to Him.  Look at how you are reacting to this news about North Korea: you are wanting to get back into a positive place with God.  This is excellent: you’re definitely focusing on the right lessons.  What God is saying to you is far more important than what countries are saying to each other.

Now getting back into a good place with God is very easy to do.  Remember that God judges you by your soul response to Him.  When God puts you through very difficult things (which He certainly has in your situation), it’s very natural to get angry at Him or give up and stop talking to Him.  When God hurts us, we want answers, and He often refuses to give them to us, which makes us very upset and so we try to create distance between us and Him.  But when He creates situations like this business with North Korea, it suddenly makes you remember that He is the One you will be answering to for your life, and so pleasing Him really is very important, regardless of what He’s done to you.

To get back into a good place with God, pray something like this:

“God, I have been very confused and hurt in my relationship with You.  I don’t understand why You’ve treated me the way that You have.  I don’t know what to do with all of the frustration, fear, and pain, that is associated with this relationship.  But I do know that You are the God who created me and everyone else.  You are the One controlling this world and sustaining everything in it. You are the Supreme Authority–the Judge who I am accountable to.  I just want to be in a good place with You again.  I want to stop pushing You away.  I want to let go of the past and start trusting You again.  I want You to have Your way in my life so that I can be very pleasing in Your sight.  But I can’t do any of this without You.  You are the only One who can make me all that You want me to be.  You say that You won’t reject anyone who comes to You with sincere, reverential submission.  So I am going to trust that You are receiving my submission to You, and that I can count on You to make me all that You want me to be.  Pleasing You is more important than pleasing myself.  Thank You for always being with me and for hearing my prayer.”

In this prayer, you are practicing all of the essential soul attitudes.  You are practicing reverence by acknowledging God’s great power.  You are practicing submission by surrendering to Him as the Supreme Authority and asking Him to have His way in your life.  You are practicing dependency by acknowledging that you can’t do anything without Him.  You are practicing trust by thanking God for hearing your prayer, for being with you, and for being willing to receive your submission.

Remember that God is very easy to reconcile with, and with a prayer like this, you will be back on track with Him.  The next step is to keep talking to Him.

Now let’s talk about North Korea.  Focusing on truth is the key to reducing fear, and for you, the following truths are critical:

  1. God is in absolute control over this world.  Humans are not in control.  Foolish, violent leaders are not in control.  So no one is going to start any war or fire any weapons unless God wants those things to happen.
  2. God is extremely wise, strategic, and purposeful.  When humans start wars, they shoot things at each other, then scramble to try and deal with the consequences.  Humans are shortsighted.  They can’t anticipate what will happen next.  They are easily surprised, and their plans are easily messed up.  But while humans think that they are the ones starting wars, the truth is that no war happens unless God wants it to happen because He is in absolute control over this world.  When God starts wars among humans, He is controlling every move, every plan, and every attack.  He causes every battle to end the way He wants it to end.  He controls who gets injured, who dies, and who lives.  Wars are not chaos to God–they are precisely controlled events which are always going exactly how He wants them to go.
  3. God is always working on spiritual agendas.  What this means is that if God causes a war between North & South Korea, it will be for the purpose of furthering His spiritual agenda in billions of lives.  You see, it’s really not about who is shooting who.  It’s always about learning the lessons God wants you to learn.  The closer you are to the action, the more you are impacted by it, and that means your opportunity to spiritually benefit from the experience will be that much greater.  So instead of being afraid of what is happening, you need to view this as a fabulous opportunity for you to grow closer to God yourself.  Look at how much He’s impacted you so far: the war hasn’t even started, yet here you are, breaking your silence with God and deciding to make pursuing Him a priority once again.  This is fabulous, but it’s just the start.  There are going to be many more wonderful opportunities ahead for you in all of this, so ask God to help you make the most of them all.  It all comes back to that key principle of spiritual growth: every problem that God brings into your life is designed to help you grow closer to Him.  The bigger and scarier the problem, the greater the potential for growth.  It isn’t a coincidence that you’re stuck in a country so close to North Korea.  It isn’t a coincidence that the leader of North Korea is picking now to get on a big pride trip.  All of this is very intentional and very personal to you.  God has you exactly where He wants you in this situation.  Right now you’re scared because you’re focused on the foolish humans and viewing them as having far more power than they do.  You need to look past the humans and see the God who is controlling all human behavior.  God is in control of this whole situation, and He could make it all stop very easily.  So if He keeps escalating it, and if a war really does begin, He’s going to want you to respond with an eager attitude of: “Okay, God, here we go!  I know You have a lot to teach me, and I want to learn everything so that I can grow so much closer to You through this experience.”
  4. You are never alone.  God is always with you–He’s not just with other people.  As far as you are concerned, this whole situation isn’t just about two countries going at it, this is about God and Sally moving forward in their own relationship.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you–an exciting moment of God really getting into your face and saying, “Let’s stop this silence between us.  Come back to Me, because I have so much I want to teach you.  Our story is just beginning.  This is no time to give up on us.”

In your relationship with God, He always initiates.  In your question, you wrote:

But now I think surviving isn’t what is most important. I think I have to be in the best relationship I could ever get with my Gods.

This idea didn’t come from you.  It was God who told this to your soul, and your soul is agreeing with Him.  Look at the language–look at what God is prompting you to focus on: to have the best relationship you could ever get with Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Do you think They’d be inviting you to something like that if They didn’t have wonderful plans for you and Them?  Of course not.  So recognize what’s happening here: They are talking to you, and They are calling you to wonderful things.  They’re telling you there is so much more joy to be had.  Embrace the invitation.

371. When someone hurts someone, the natural response is anger and thoughts of self-defense and revenge. We react immediately, instinctively, and violently. But, in our area, the corrupt strong are always cruel. They are hurting and oppressing the weak and poor. Because, they are holding all the powers. The doctors are making profits on the diseases of the poor and the weak. The worst wickedness in our area. It’s always provoking extreme social anger in some moral people, but, they are helpless and powerless in all respects. Sometimes some went to an extreme extent that they should kill them. Even to form a gang to exterminate such cruel people from the face of society. Unable to do all these things, many are crying silently. Some have chosen the path of prayer to God Almighty to take revenge on such cruel bullies through the prayer. Is it right to form a gang to return evil for evil?

No, it is not.  To carry out justice properly, you need to have judges who are willing to listen to all sides of a story.  Someone who is not directly impacted by the crime should be the one who decides what the fair punishment should be.  Victims of crimes are too often caught up in a revenge mentality, and revenge doesn’t just want to get even–it wants to escalate.  Jack kills your daughter, so you go over and gun down Jack’s whole family in the name of revenge.  That isn’t justice, it’s escalation, and now you are an even bigger problem than Jack was.

What you’re talking about is getting a bunch of angry, hurting, vengeful people together and allowing them to viciously attack anyone who they personally hate without bothering to really listen to what their victims have to say, and without respecting the complexity of these situations.  It’s never simple with humans.  When evil becomes widespread, there are always leaders and followers.  Often the followers feel they have no choice but to go along with what leaders are telling them to do.  If you kill a man just because you don’t like the way he looks, is that the same thing as you killing a man because you’ve been told that if you don’t, someone will kill your child?  If you are feeling forced to do wrong, wouldn’t you want that to be taken in account by those who are judging you?  Is it right to just start shooting people because of who they work for or because of who they know?  These situations are complicated, and merely charging in with guns blazing is not going to fix the problem.  To fix the kinds of problems you’re talking about, you need to take out the leaders, not just mow down the followers.  You need to understand and address the social and psychological factors that are fueling the problem and motivating people to do wrong things.  Simply pouring on the violence will not bring back civil order, it will only cause things to deteriorate even more.  Once the “good guys” are acting as vicious and immoral as the “bad guys”, you end up with social anarchy.

As easy as it is to pretend that all Nazis were huge fans of their leader Hitler, the truth is that many German men only became Nazis out of fear, and they only went along with Hitler’s program because they felt they had no choice.  Many of those same men would have gladly followed a good leader if they’d had the chance to do so.  There are always more followers than leaders, and while followers certainly add to the problem, they aren’t the ones driving the system.  Many humans simply do not possess the inner courage to stand up against leaders who are threatening them.  When you just start attacking people out of anger, it’s usually the followers who end up getting killed, and since they aren’t driving the system, assaulting them doesn’t fix the problem.

Is it right to return evil for evil through prayer? Can prayer punish the wicked?

No, prayer doesn’t punish anyone.  The reason is that God doesn’t take orders from you.  He’s not your slave, and telling Him to go attack the people you don’t like is very rude and disrespectful on your part.  God demands submission from you, and that means you bow to His will and respect His decisions.  God also says that He is the One running this world–not humans and not demons.  When you pray for God to take out some human, you’re trying to tell Him how to run His own world.  You’re acting like you’re wiser than He is.  You’re claiming to be more qualified to judge than He is.  This is all very disrespectful talk.

Christians do a horrible job of modeling the right way to pray.  When God does something they don’t like, they act like that gives them a free pass to criticize God and boss Him about.  Being so snarky with your Creator is only going to get you in trouble with Him.  You can’t use the actions of other humans to justify disrespecting God.  He is running this world the way He wants it to run, and if you don’t like what He’s doing, you should be asking Him to help you develop deeper submission to Him.  Submission is a soul attitude which says “Not my will, but Yours be done. ” Reverence says “Because You’re so much more powerful than I am, I’m not going to dare to disrespect You.” The more reverence and submission we develop, the less griping we will do, and the more we will treat God with the respect He deserves.

Or need to return good for evil as the Bible teaches?

No one in the Bible is talking to you, so you can’t use the Bible as an excuse to go attacking other people.  In your life, God is holding you accountable for how you respond to Him in the privacy of your own soul.  Since all humans are God’s creations, you can hardly justify assaulting them without God’s permission.  And the whole “that person is worse than me” argument never holds up with God.  You see, from God’s perspective, we all sin every day.  And while we’re judging each other by our external actions, God is judging us by our soul attitude towards Him.  It’s very easy for you to stand back and condemn everyone else while you ignore your own faults.  But God says that judging other humans is His domain, not ours.

What is the way? Please explain.

The right way to respond to these situations is to stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and focus on yourself instead.  You find yourself in a situation where humans are doing wrong and hurting others.  Well, how did that happen?  Is this some freak accident?  Is this a sign that demons have locked God in a closet somewhere?  No.  The problems you describe only exist because God wants them to exist.  Evil men don’t get themselves into power–God places them in power.  The fact that God has placed you in a society where so much wrong is being done is very intentional.  Every problem that God brings into your life–every trial, stress, and frustration–is designed to help you grow closer to God.  So the correct response to this situation is to pray something like this:

“God, I am so upset by what is happening around me, but I realize that You are controlling this situation.  It would be such a simple thing for You to erase all evil from this world.  But instead, You are choosing to keep it here for Your own reasons.  I want to do a better job of respecting You.  You are the Creator of all life, whereas I am just one tiny human.  It is not my place to criticize You or correct You or tell You what to do.  Instead of giving You instruction, I need to become better at receiving instruction from You.  Please help me learn the lessons You want to teach me through this situation.  Please help me improve the way I treat You.”

If you pray like this, you’re going to end up benefiting from the strife you are now in.  You will end up closer to God and more spiritually mature.  You’ll also end up less afraid and less angry.  Practicing the right soul attitudes leads to us feeling calmer and more peaceful in the midst of upsetting circumstances.  But the more we try to dominate God by praying bossy prayers and acting like we’re wiser than Him, the more angry and fearful we become.  Always turn your focus back onto you and God when other humans are upsetting you, and look for the positive spiritual lessons God is teaching you.  Then you’ll end up in a fabulous place.

Recommended Articles:
Treating God Like God: Simple Steps to Improving the Way that We Pray
Praying Down Your Enemies
God’s Absolute Sovereignty: Essential Theology
Psalm 35: Bratty David Bosses Yahweh

370. I became a born again Christian a while back by God Himself, I was in spiritual darkness & God saved me, what do you guys have all to say about spiritual darkness?

See Spiritual Darkness: A Misleading Metaphor.

Also, are the end times really close?

Yes. We advise that you read our material on preparing for the end times.  Our material drastically differs from the teaching you’ll find on other Christian sites.  And just so you know, the nearness of the end times has nothing to do with the celestial signs that Christians get all worked up about–things like blood moons and solar eclipses.

Why does God not want us to believe in reincarnation or Astrology?

In both of these religious systems, the deities being worshiped are totally fictitious.  In astrology, planets and stars are viewed as controlling human destinies: see Christians & Astrology.

There are many versions of reincarnation, but the common theme is that some supernatural power is judging humans primarily by their actions, and forcing them to keep reliving life on earth in different forms until they are “good enough” to graduate on to either some form of paradise, or oblivion.

The real Gods (Yahweh, Jesus & the Holy Spirit) teach that we go through this world once, then we move into a different eternal dimension where we will continue to live on and experience the consequences for the soul choices we made in this world.

So then, these three belief systems totally clash with each other with no way of reconciling.

Astrology says we’re all being manipulated by celestial objects (and which objects are being revered depends on which astrologist you’re talking to).  The religion of astrology does not acknowledge the existence of the Christian Gods–instead, its a “choose your own god” kind of system.

Every version of reincarnation rejects the existence of the Christian Gods, and instead says we’re all being judged by some other force or entity.

Is God going to encourage you to embrace a theological system which totally counters what He says is true?  No, therefore God is against reincarnation and astrology.

369. I have read Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation article. Is it safe here to presume that God sometimes doesn’t intend for people to attempt reconciliation with an abuser, even when that person is a parent? My mother’s behavior has severely damaged the already fragile bond we had and after cutting off contact for a year I became much more emotionally healthy.  Since I started talking to her again she has been trying hard to ‘make things the way they were’ and get back into my good books. I am holding it over her head, as that article warned could happen, by acting aloof until she spends money on me. At this point, the most I want to be retained is a distant acquaintance-type bond. Ideally we would reach that elusive normal family state, but any further intimacy and it delves back into the abuse cycle. Sadly, the ship has longed sailed for her to be the parent I craved. Is God okay with me calling it a night and not ever fully reconciling?

Reconciliation is about two people going from enemies to friends.  Now in cases like yours, the term “reconcile” is a bit misleading, because it implies that you’re trying to return to a good position that you were once in with your mom.  But what’s really going on is you are trying to drastically change the way the relationship functions.  You had a dysfunctional relationship, and now you’re trying to move to a functional one.  Abusive relationships are created when power is mismanaged (see The Element of Power in Human Relationships).  To make an abusive relationship healthy, two people need to change how they manage the power in the relationship.  In real life, this is rarely possible to do.  In relationships where the abuse has been going on short term, it’s far more possible to correct the dynamic.  But in parent-child relationships in which a pattern of dysfunction has been practiced for decades and everyone’s used to operating that way, it’s often impossible to move to a functional dynamic.  The motivation usually just isn’t there.

It’s important to remember that abusers hoard power in relationships as a way of trying to cope with their own internal issues.  So when you ask mom to stop hoarding power and start sharing power equally with you, you’re really asking her to abandon a coping mechanism which she feels she needs in order to keep her own emotional house from falling down.  Often victims of abuse are so focused on their own experience of being abused that they fail to appreciate the crisis the abuser is in.  To abusers, a demand to “stop abusing me” sounds like a demand to “magically fix your internal problems overnight so that you are no longer threatened by giving me the respect I deserve.” Just as most addicts can’t instantly break free of their addictions, most abusers can’t instantly overcome their emotional wounds and fears.

Now some abusers really do want to try and do better, even though total functionality is beyond their reach.  In these cases, you can sometimes achieve a workable relationship dynamic.  It won’t be close, and it will function best with distance and infrequent communication, but it will be better than a total shutdown.

In other cases in which the abuser just isn’t at a point where he or she can afford to share power in the relationship, cutting ties can be the only option left.  Only God can tell you when you are authorized by Him to totally cut ties, so this is something you need to ask Him.  We can’t advise you on this given such limited information.  But as a general rule, remaining in abusive relationships is not in alignment with God’s moral code.  His command that we treat others as we’d want to be treated is a demand that we respect our fellow humans, and respect is what is missing in abusive relationships.  We only hurt ourselves and our abusers when we act like doormats and refuse to hold any boundaries.  Godly love is a love that focuses on what is best for the other person’s soul, and you are not helping someone’s soul by enabling them to mistreat you without consequences.  Respect needs to be demanded in relationships if those relationships are going to remain well-balanced.  It should not be treated like an optional thing.

368. ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63’. Please explain.

When you’re trying to study the Bible, using the KJV with its outdated English is only going to make things far more difficult and confusing than they need to be. So we recommend you change to a better translation.  For help, see Bible Study Help: Which translation should you use?

For an explanation of the verse you quoted, see Understanding Jesus: The Bread of Life (John 6).

367. If God convicts you to do something that you don’t want to do, but in your soul you really say something like ” I want to do what you want me to do, but I can’t because I’m afraid of losing it”… is this rebellion? I don’t want to rebel against Him because of the conviction, but I honestly don’t want to do it and He knows it, it’s something I simply don’t think I can give up. Am I going to be disciplined for this type of conflicting feelings?

Rebellion is a soul attitude issue, not a set of external behaviors.  You can do good behaviors with a rotten soul attitude, and you’ll be in a state of spiritual rebellion.  You can do wrong behaviors with a right soul attitude and you will not be guilty of spiritual rebellion.  God only gets angry with you when you are in a state of spiritual rebellion.

Now your dilemma is the classic scenario in which God tells you to do something which you do not have the resources to do.  To correctly discern your standing with God in these moments, you need to remain focused on soul attitude, not on follow through.  Focusing on follow through is what Christians are commonly taught to focus on.  It’s also what all of the NT authors teach you to focus on, which is why the very spiritually immature James says “Faith without works is dead.”  James didn’t want to acknowledge that people could be pleasing God in their souls and yet still look like failures on the outside.  James was wrong, of course.  And so were John and Paul, who all taught that external actions were what God judges us by.

If you’re going to gain a correct understanding of how God actually judges humans, it’s vital that you experience scenarios like the one you’re now in: where your soul is saying, “Yes,” but your earthsuit is saying “No!”  Your earthsuit doesn’t care about God, and unless He gives you sufficient resources, you will not be able to force your earthsuit to align with the desires of your soul (which means doing whatever God’s telling you to do).

Dependency is one of the four critical soul attitudes we’re always talking about and the situation you’re in right now is a great way to develop a greater awareness on how dependent you are on God for all things.  You see, when you don’t understand dependency, you take the credit for all of your good deeds, you minimize God’s involvement in your life, and you think God expects you to overcome your problems in your own strength.  Growing in your understanding of how dependent you are on God breaks you out of all of this wrong thinking. The point is that your situation is filled with opportunities for growth (as is always the case when God creates problems in your life).  So rather than see it as a terrible crisis, see it as an opportunity to learn more about God’s role in your life and what He expects from you.

For an indepth discussion about your dilemma (what to do when you want to obey God but can’t follow through), see Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy.

The following posts are also recommended reading:

Confronting Your Convictions: When You Don’t Have the Courage to Obey
Pleasing God When You Can’t Control Your Flesh
Courageous Coward: Pleasing God When You’re Afraid

366. I understand as Christians, we should not be sexually immoral. However, I’ve been abstaining from sex since I reached puberty and have never had sex before, due to reverence, obedience, and fear of the Lord. I’m in my early 20s and I’ve met someone who has not submitted to Jesus Christ, but seems to be in the right path, in a sincere way. We have kept the relationship clean, but recently the topic of sex has come up. As a man, I have desires and so does she, and I’m not sure what to do. I told her I will wait til marriage, but at the same time, how much does this matter to God? I still honor Him in my heart, but I’ve recently been feeling like a piece a crap and not like a man because I can give her what she wants, which is a natural thing. Above all, I want to honor God and still set the example for her in the relationship. any advice? 

We would advise that you’ve got a much bigger issue than sex with this relationship.  If you are really serious about pleasing God, why would you want to partner with someone who has not yet decided to personally submit to Him?  The fact that someone is “seeking” does not at all mean they will ever decide to cross the line of submission.  Many people who promote themselves as sincerely seeking are just looking for a theological system that does not require too much of them.  The pride grinding submission that our Gods require is quite a turn off when held up against the ego-pleasing New Age theme of “we’re all gods within” or atheism’s rant of “you don’t have to acknowledge any God who does things you don’t like.”  If your woman has not submitted to God due to a lack of understanding, you’d be wise to wait until He gives her that understanding so that you can observe what her response to Him will be.  To rush into a life partnership with a woman who may well decide that she is not going to be bossed by a God who does things she hates is going to create a major mess for you.

There are ways to relieve sexual tension which do not involve you having sex with your girlfriend.  And if honoring God is so important to you, why do you describe yourself as “crap” for doing so?  Is this self-degradation your response to sensing her disappointment that you’re not coming across?  If so, you need to take a serious look at what’s going on here.  A woman who does not currently share your values about sex (because she doesn’t share your interest in God) is disappointed that you won’t have sex. You’re responding to her disappointment by feeling bad about trying to honor God.  In other words, her opinion is winning the day with you–not God’s.

If you were with a woman who was serious about honoring God in this area, a very different effect would be happening.  The two of you would be encouraging each other to stand strong and you’d be feeling like a success for honoring God in a tough area.  This is the influence that another human’s spiritual choices can have on you, which is why it is so foolish to partner with someone who has very different spiritual values.  It’s hard enough to stay on track with God without having a wife who is quietly or vocally giving you negative feedback for doing so.

This conflict you’re having over sex will be repeated in any moral area that you and your woman don’t see eye to eye on.  Lying to get the better job, cheating to pass the test, aborting the child that you’re not ready for–it’s very easy to justify doing wrong to get ahead in the world, and a woman who has not submitted to God is not going to be motivated to respect His convictions when a moral dilemma arises.  It is our submission to God which impacts how we respond to His convictions, and it is His convictions which motivate us to do things like own our fault in an argument, apologize, compromise, stay faithful to our spouse, discipline our kids, etc., etc..  Do you really want to try and navigate through a relationship in which one person is tuning out God’s convictions?  That just isn’t going to be a pretty situation, especially after you two get through the infatuation phase and you start getting on each other’s nerves.

In the early 20s, everyone’s hormones are raging and there is enormous pressure from your peers to start collecting sexual partners.  Men especially get pressured to “prove” themselves in this area, and being a virgin in college is decidedly “not cool.”  As always, this is an issue of who you are going to live to please: your peers who couldn’t care less about the well-being of your soul, or your Creator, whose approval of you will have eternal consequences?  You can’t expect a woman who does not respect God to do anything more than pressure you to live for the approval of others and to fulfill any sensual desires that you have.  Once we write God out of the picture, there is no motivating reason not to sleep with a hundred partners, drink ourselves into oblivion, try every drug, party our brains out, and live entirely for ourselves while we abuse anyone who annoys us.  It is only God who motivates us to live on a higher plane and become more than self-absorbed, lust driven animals.  Here’s where it helps to step back and look at the big picture.  You’re a human who was designed to continuously grow and mature.  You’re designed to function best when you are living in submission to your Creator and trusting His higher wisdom to guide you.

Having sex with your girlfriend will be a momentary thing which will result in you feeling like you gave away something of high value far too cheaply.  We are not rutting deer.  We are humans.  We are designed to have sex for deeper reasons than just procreating or getting some quick release.  When you give your sex away to some girl who you are infatuated with today and who you might dump  in a matter of months, you’re treating your sex like some cheap, worthless article, instead of high value goods.  Refusing to have sex with someone who is not your wife is not just about honoring God–it’s also about demanding a certain level of respect and refusing to pass yourself off as cheap.  No girlfriend has earned the privilege of having sex with you because she hasn’t committed to you, nor has she proven herself to be worthy of you by treating you with respect, showing you loyalty, and respecting your feelings.  The same is true in reverse: you don’t deserve to sample a woman’s sex until you’ve earned her respect and committed to her emotionally, legally, and financially.  Sex is not the appetizer, it’s the dessert.  It’s the reward for hard work and a job well done.  A woman with her priorities right will demand things from you before she gives you the privilege of sleeping with her. And a woman who acts like sleeping with her is a privilege is going to be a lot more satisfying to sleep with than a woman who can’t wait to get in your pants.

As a man, you are wired by God to want to respect the woman you settle with.  If you sleep with a woman during the dating phase, you will instinctively lose respect for her because you will sense that she is putting a very low value on herself by giving the store away without demanding anything from you first.  Humans just don’t respect free handouts–they value what they have to sacrifice to attain.  This is how God wired humans to think and there’s no getting around it.  So if you sleep with your current girlfriend, she probably won’t remain your girlfriend much longer. You’ll quickly tire of her as you lose respect for her because she’s putting herself lower than a prostitute by charging absolutely nothing for her services.  Then you’ll dump her, which will make you feel like a rat for using her.  Then you’ll get some other woman who you swear you’ll treat better only you’ll make the same mistake if that second woman is also pushing herself on you as a free commodity.  As we said, you need to think big picture.  Do you want to mow through a string of women who all drag you down by using your hormones against you?  Or do you want to find a woman who will push you to keep developing character and make you feel like you’ve really scored something special when you finally get into her bed on your wedding night?  Lose this woman who is pressuring you for sex and hold out for a woman who cares enough about you to help you live on a higher plane.  God says you’re worth more than this, so align with His assessment of you.

Suggested Reading: Dating Guidelines for Christian Singles, Dating Essentials: Real Love vs. Infatuation

365. ‘The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer’ (Matthew 25:29). Why is it like this?

You are misunderstanding this verse.  Put it back in context and the meaning becomes more clear.  This is the conclusion of a parable about how a master responds to his obedient and disobedient slaves.  The master in the parable represents Yahweh and Jesus.  The slaves represent Old Covenant Yahweh followers (who are supposed to be accepting Jesus as Yahweh’s promised Messiah) .

This parable is part of a string of parables which come at the end of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.  That is the speech in which Jesus prophesies His Second Coming and the end of the world.  The string of parables He gives at the end of this speech all emphasize the importance of obeying God now, so that it will go well with us in eternity.

Your paraphrase of this verse is too far from what Jesus actually said.  Here is a more literal translation:

“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” (NASB)

The idea here is that those who respond well to the opportunities and insights God gives them will be rewarded with even more.  But those who reject the opportunities and insights that God gives them will be punished.  The kinds of opportunities we’re talking about here are specifically opportunities to please and honor God.

In the parable that this statement is a part of, three servants were given some money to manage.  All of the servants received something–it wasn’t a case of one fellow getting nothing while the other two got a lot.  In the parable, two of the servants put effort into managing the money well, while the other was rebellious and made no effort to please his master.  When the master then assesses the servants’ work, the two servants who tried to please the master were generously rewarded by him.  The fellow who didn’t care about his master was harshly punished.  The point of the parable is to warn humans that the soul choices we are all making now will result in serious consequences in eternity.

Don’t think of this in terms of actual money or in terms of earthly wealth or earthly poverty.  Jesus is talking about spiritual “wealth” and “poverty” here.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit consider the knowledge of Them and invitations to know Them better to be the greatest treasure we humans could hope to have. If we respond well to the first invitations They give us, we’ll receive more.  If we keep rejecting those early invitations, we’ll be cut off and severely punished.  The point is that we should be cherishing any opportunity we receive to know our Gods better, to interact with Them, or to serve Them.

You’ll find Jesus making this same statement in Matt. 13:12 when He’s talking about spiritual illumination–which is the process by which God gives individuals the ability to understand new truths.

For an explanation of the whole parable that Jesus was attaching this statement to in Matthew 25, see The Parable of the Talents.

For the greater context of this parable–which is the Olivet Discourse–see Know Your Bible Lesson 63: The End is Near (The Olivet Discourse).

For more about the concept of invitations from God, see Salvation Concerns: Why does God block some souls from coming to Him?

364. I have watched a few videos regarding this experience people have with ayahuasca, I think it would be very beneficial for me. Do you know anything about it? I was going to try it but then some people on the internet stated that it was a form of demon oppression, and by using ayahuasca you open yourself up to possession. Also, how harmless is marijuana?

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic drug.  These types of drugs essentially make your brain go into a malfunctioning fritz, which people foolishly view as a good thing.  Imagine watching your virus infected computer suddenly doing a bunch of crazy things: opening and closing programs, flashing lines of code, coming up with weird colors on the screen.  And then, instead of saying, “Yikes, my computer is malfunctioning,” you say, “Cool!  I’ve unlocked this machine’s secret powers!”  This is the same logic people apply to hallucinogenic drugs.

So does taking hallucinogenic drugs “unlock” realms and cause demons to get sucked inside of you?  No.  People cause their delicate brains to go temporarily haywire with these things, then they slap all kinds of ridiculous conclusions onto the confusing experiences that they have.  Now are demons going to try to take advantage of you confusing yourself?  Of course.  Whenever possible, demons will try to guide some of your “trips” and manufacture images that will help you swallow deceptions that they want you to have.  It’s often with the aid of these kinds of drugs that people start concluding that they are divine beings, or that they have transported to some other dimension.  Watch the spiritual conclusions that result from the use of hallucinogenic drugs, and you’ll find that people are becoming more and more deceived, not more enlightened in truth.  Whenever humans are feeling overwhelmed with sensory feedback–which is the case when they’re high on hallucinogenic drugs–they do a worse than usual job of discerning truth from lies.  Just as you have a hard time thinking rationally when you’re very emotionally upset, you’re going to have a hard time making wise spiritual judgments when you’re brain is on the fritz.  So should you play around with hallucinogenic drugs?  No, you should view them as poison to your brain and leave them alone.  For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, see Using Psychedelic Drugs in Your Search for Healing & Truth: Why It’s a Bad Idea.

Marijuana is another bad idea.  Far from being harmless, it has very damaging effects on your brain in both the short and long term.  Just as people smoke cigarettes to get doses of nicotine, they use marijuana products to get doses of THC, and that’s the drug that harms your brain.  As people become more addicted, new products with higher concentrations of THC are being produced, and this just accelerates the internal damage.  As you keep poisoning your brain, you end up noticing psychological/emotional effects, most notably an increase of your general anxiety/fear levels in life, plus an increase in lethargy.  Lethargy is when you lose all motivation to do anything and you sit there like a lump with a depressed “nothing matters” mentality.  You see, your brain has a delicate balance of natural chemicals in it which controls your mood.  So when you mess with your brain, that balance gets off, and your happiness drains away.  It would be nice if taking drugs actually caused the imbalance to make us perpetually cheerful, but it never works out like this.  The longer we take drugs, the more down we feel between doses, and the more negative personality problems we pick up.

You should think of your brain like a delicate crystal snowflake.  It’s very pretty to look at, but all of those very fine crystal rods that create the intricate design also make the whole thing weak.  When you dabble in drugs like ayahuasca and pot, it’s like you’re taking a long metal screwdriver and ramming it at the crystal snowflake.  The structure naturally begins to chip and break, and soon you’ve got a mess of crystal fragments that seem impossible to repair because they’re so delicate.  Why would you want to do this to your own brain?  Don’t listen to people who tell you it’s great to get high on drugs and that there are no real side effects.  There are always biological side effects to inserting chemical concoctions into your body.  Folks who just talk about how it feels without talking about what it’s doing to your physiology are hardly giving you wise advice.  To get a more balanced view, don’t just read the testimony of drug fans. Also read the information posted on drug abuse sites, because there you’ll find a lot of straight facts about the ways these things affect your brain and body.

Now here’s a question that’s worth pondering: why do you want to try drugs?  Are you just looking for a new, exciting experience to alleviate boredom?  Or is there a specific problem that you’re trying to solve?  Often we get started with drugs in order to fix a problem.  But unfortunately, drugs have a way of making our problems worse.  If you’re trying to reduce psychological or emotional stress, there are better ways to go about that than hyping yourself up on drugs.

363. In the Bible we find it said that no man knows the hour or time in which Christ will return (basically the end times). Pretty much all of Christian denominations are preaching that the end times are here. How do we know that it’s end times now? The Bible as well as all who preach it say that they know because of how evil people are being and all of the chaos that’s going on today. But always been like that since the beginning. How do we know God isn’t planning to keep the planet going another 1000 years?

Good questions!  Let’s get into it.

As you’ve observed, a bunch of Christian denominations are saying that the end times are here.  Well, 99% of the Christian prophecy you come across is total hooey.  The end times have not started yet.  They will start soon. How will you know?  Good question!

First, let’s get our focus off of yammering dingdongs and onto God where it belongs.  God is the One ruling this world, not some dot of a demon and not a bunch of mortal halfwits.  As soon as end time preachers turn your focus off of God and try to get you to focus on demons or humans, you know you’re listening to spiritual morons.  When God speaks, He will always pull your attention onto Him.  He will teach you to revere Him, not created beings.

Consider who you’re being encouraged to focus on when you hear the following kinds of comments: “Yikes–someone’s going to nuke us!  A one world government is forming!  The antichrist has been identified!  A war is starting!  The economy is about to collapse!”  What’s the focus here?  It’s on human activities, not on God, and this is how you know it’s garbage.  God exalts God.  False prophets exalt humans and demons by going on and on about how scary and powerful those creatures are.  When you’re being prophesied at, pay attention to who is being exalted and notice who you’re being urged to focus on.  If it’s not God, it’s garbage. Apply this simple little rule of discernment, and you’ll end up throwing out 99% of all teaching on the end times.

Now let’s get into God’s communication style.  When God wants you to understand something, does He drop a bunch of vague hints that go completely over your head?  Or does He clearly communicate His message to your soul?  The answer is that God can always be counted on to clearly communicate to your soul when there is something important that He wants you to know.

So given this fact about God, has He told you that we are now living in the end times?  Obviously not, because look at how unclear you are on the whole subject.  In fact, you’ve got a gut feeling that all of these yammering fools in the Church aren’t giving you the straight scoop.  That would be God, prompting you to practice discernment and not just believe everything you hear.

Here’s how you can make sure you don’t miss any important news flashes about the end times.  First, you make sure you are treating God with sincere respect in your own life, and that means you are submitting to Him as the Supreme Authority and depending on Him to guide you in life.  Second, whenever you come across teaching about spiritual matters, you ask God for His opinion of the material.  You wait for Him to personally confirm something as true before you accept it.  It doesn’t matter how confident some other guy sounds.  Humans are not God, and they should never be treated as the final authority on any subject.  Truth comes from God alone, and since He controls the future, believing any prophecy without asking Him is, well, stupid.  The Church teaches you to be stupid because human leaders want you to follow them, pay them, worship them, etc..  We teach you to listen to God and not trust any human teacher (including us) because that is the only way you’re going to thrive in your relationship with God.  You see, teaching souls how to experience God’s best plans for them is a whole different goal than trying to get more hits on your website or sell more books.  On this site, we teach you how to make wise spiritual choices, and that means learning to treat God as if He is the only Authority on truth (because He is).

Now because the Church doesn’t care about your soul–just about using you–she intentionally deceives you about what the Bible says.  The Bible does not contain any end time teaching that is relevant for people today.  The Old Testament simply doesn’t attempt to spell out the end of the world (see Distinguishing Between the Real End Times & the Day of Yahweh).  The New Testament contains two rounds of specific “end of the world” prophecies, both of which are lies.

In the Gospel books, Jesus intentionally deceives people by giving a very time specific prophecy of when He would return.  He was not as vague as you’re told He is today–instead, He specifically promised to return shortly after the fall of Jerusalem.  Jesus’ prophecy simply does not leave room for Him to take more than a few decades to return–and He strongly implies He won’t even take that long (see this post).  So wait–why would Jesus intentionally deceive people like this?  That’s a longer answer which we explain in other articles.  The point is that Jesus was not talking to you when He predicted His return.

It was because Jesus intentionally raised expectations that He would return in a handful of years that all the NT authors were very confused when He failed to do so.  So everyone started pointing to the violence of the times and saying, “Surely He must be about to come…right?”  What else could they do?

Revelation is the second end time prophecy we find in the NT.  But what Revelation very clearly states is that the Roman Empire will fall as the whole planet is being destroyed and that will be the end of earth.  Did that happen?  Obviously not.  Rome fell and here we still are.  The Revelation imagery is very metaphorical, it is only directed at Jews living in the Roman Empire, and it is yet another very time specific prophecy.  (We have an entire series of lessons that explain the whole book to you which you can find here).

Okay, so if Jesus swears that He’ll return by next Wednesday, and He never shows, how long is it going to take you to admit that Jesus deceived you?  You see, the Church today refuses to admit that all end time prophecies in the NT have been thoroughly proven to be false.  The Church has decided that God can’t ever use deception for good purposes, so if you say “God lies,” you’re told that you’re being a blasphemous heretic.  Well, no, you’re not.  God does lie for good reasons, and end time prophecies in the Bible are clearly deceptive.  Instead of admitting this and going on to learn the positive lessons God wants to teach us from these passages, Christians today just pretend that those expired prophecies still apply.  Then they teach you to look for things that are never going to happen, and this is why you’re constantly being told that some war or storm or economic strife is a “sign” that we’re in the end times.  No, it’s really not.

It turns out that the real end times–which simply refers to the last chapter of life on this earth–is going to be a very dramatic time in human history.  God has decided to make a very big show out of this last season (which will drag on for years). As is always the case when God puts on a show, His purpose will  be to exalt Himself and motivate us all to make wise spiritual choices before time runs out.  The real end times won’t have bumpkus to do with some antichrist figure, 666, a beast, or any other out dated Roman Empire symbolism from the book of Revelation.

How will you know when the real end times begin?  God will tell you.  When God tells you something, He makes it very clear–He doesn’t drop vague hints.  When the real end times do start, you won’t need some fool on YouTube to tell you–you’ll already know.  God will make it very clear to you, and it won’t be anything like the Church is leading you to expect.

We have a whole page on this site that will help you prepare for the real end times.  There you will find many articles which give you an idea of what to expect, and most importantly, how you can grow closer to God during this period.   But again–are we God?  No, so  you shouldn’t believe anything we say until He confirms it to you.  Perhaps He won’t do that until the end times actually start.  But as long as you’re looking to God for wisdom in life, you can be sure you won’t miss any important information.

In conclusion: the end times haven’t started yet, so all these guys who say it has are just lying to you.  Our teaching on the end times drastically counters mainstream teaching on the subject, and it will be far more helpful to you spiritually than all of these vague fear fests.  So we encourage you to read it, because it will be very beneficial for you to have that information in the back of your mind when things start heating up.  Our material will equip you to be less afraid and focused on the right spiritual priorities when the end times start–you won’t get that kind of help from these morons who are telling you to build bunkers and stock up on canned goods.

Could the earth go on forever?  Sure, if God wanted it to.  But the reality is that He doesn’t.  He is committed to winding down Project Earth in a highly dramatic way, and if you go into this period with the right spiritual focus, you will greatly benefit from being  a part of it.  Because this period is coming very soon, it’s highly likely that you’ll still be here when it starts.  This is actually thrilling news once you understand how the wild events of this period can do wonders for helping you rapidly gain progress in spiritual maturity.  We spell out the spiritual benefits of living through the end times in our material to help you appreciate what a fabulous opportunity this will be for souls who really want to get closer to God.  So is this something to fear?  No, it’s something to look forward to.  Any experience which helps you develop things like reverential submission to God is a major blessing that you want to embrace with open arms.  God knows what He’s doing, and if He’s hand picked you to participate in this period, that’s a thrilling thing.

362. I read Red Jacket’s speech, the Native American who spoke to a white minister about refusing to convert to Christianity. He made sense in his speech, and one point that stood out to me was that he said “the Great Spirit has made his Red and White children different, and so wouldn’t it make sense He gave us different ways to worship Him?” I’m paraphrasing. And so I was wondering could that be true? Why is it only white Europeans knew about the true Christian God?

When you get into topics like this, it’s easy to start tripping over manmade labels.  So let’s get back to basics: there are real Gods, and false gods.  Jesus is one of the real Gods, but He didn’t call Himself “Jesus”, nor did He go around saying, “I’m the Christian God.”  He just said, “Believe in Me or it’s going to be all bad because I’m one of the super powerful Deities that all of you humans are going to have to answer to.”  In the Old Testament, we don’t find Yahweh saying, “I’m the God of Judaism.”  Instead, we find Him saying “I’m the only real God–all of the other gods you people are worshiping are figments of your imaginations.”

Terms like Judaism, and Christianity are labels that humans have come up as a means of communicating with each other.  To refer to “the Christian Gods” is a quick way of clarifying that you’re not talking about Allah or Krishna or a host of other gods.  Labels are useful up to a point, but they can also get in our way when we exaggerate their importance.

Now Christianity was born out of Judaism at the time of the Roman Empire (hence the first Christian denomination was the Roman Catholic Church).  So Christianity was really more of a Roman thing than a European thing, and the Romans were spread over parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.  Don’t think of Christianity as limited to Europeans just because one Indian fellow is reflecting on how some folks from Europe sailed over and got rude about stuffing their beliefs down everyone’s throats.

When your people have a bad experience with a small group of folks who all hail from the same geographical region, it’s very easy to form stereotypes that simply aren’t true.  Christianity was not the only religion being practiced in Europe at the time that Native Americans found themselves being so abused.  It was also not the only religion being used as an excuse to abuse others.

Humans ripping land away from each other has been going on since the beginning of this world.  It’s not like Native Americans were filled with brotherly love before the Europeans showed up.  Indian tribes warred with each other, abused each other, and ripped territory away from each other with plenty of malice before Europeans showed up to get in on the action.  Is it ethical to attack someone else just because you want what they have?  Of course not, but everyone does it–including Indians.  When you’re the guy who lost the fight that counted, it’s very easy to wave the “victim” flag from then on while you conveniently forget how much time your own people spent trampling on others when they had a chance.  So the whole European vs. Indian thing is not a case of Satan vs. Jesus.  It’s just a case of humans doing their usual greedy, land grabbing thing.  Sure, it’s ugly.  But it’s not a European issue–it’s a human issue.

Now when you show up to conquer new land for the motherland, you’re in kingdom expansion mode, and that gets messy.  Naturally the people you conquer aren’t going to like you, and unchecked hostility is what wars are made of.  Since you’re militarily weak when you’re in expansion mode, it’s in your best interests to find ways to get your new subjects to assimilate into your culture as quickly as possible. Demanding that they conform to your religious practices is a very common strategy to use in these situations, and it can be very effective at maintaining civil order.  Give it enough time, and people will start to acclimate to the cultures they are forcibly immersed in.  But when you’re in a hurry to expand, you don’t have time to wait for several generations to pass (and often that’s what it takes for people to totally abandon their cultural roots).

King Jeroboam is a fabulous biblical example of a stressed ruler using religion to try to unify his shaky empire.  After the death of Solomon, Jeroboam tried to claim rights to the throne in Israel, even though he was not an heir.  Prince Rehoboam (the rightful heir to the throne) naturally took issue with Jeroboam and refused to step aside.  But the people had been abused by Solomon, and their discontent was very high.  So they revolted against Rehoboam and ten tribes sided with Jeroboam.  Suddenly Jeroboam found himself with a large northern kingdom.  The problem was that he didn’t have Jerusalem, where the Temple to Yahweh was located. Since  Judaism was the national religion, it was a very unifying force among the Jews.  Even though most of them didn’t care about Yahweh, they did want to go through the motions of worshiping Him for the sake of patriotism–rather like how Americans celebrate the 4th of July today.  Jeroboam was worried that he’d lose his influence when his new subjects went trooping down south to Jerusalem and started to miss that glittering Temple.  To unify his people–and keep them up north–Jeroboam invented two new gods on the spot.  He represented them with 2 golden calf statues, he set them up in fancy shrines, and declared that they all had to be worshiped on a certain day each year.  The strategy was very effective in keeping the northern Jews together, and the two cow gods were very popular (see Treachery & Wrath: Lessons Learned from King Jeroboam).

Demanding that people conform to your religion is a quick way to root out the guys who are most likely to cause you trouble later on.  The whole “conversion” of Native Americans shouldn’t be viewed as a sincere desire to save people’s souls, because it was really just a power trip.  You can always spot a power trip by observing what happens to the folks who refuse to submit to the guys in charge.  If you have a proper understanding of how salvation works, then you know that forcing someone to say “I love Jesus” accomplishes nothing.  Just as you can force someone to serve you, but you can’t force them to love you, you can force people to bow to a cross or kiss a Bible, but you can’t force their souls to submit to God.  So the whole “we’re just trying to save your souls” line is total bunk once force is being applied.  And once you start treating your new “converts” like your slaves, it becomes pretty obvious what your real intentions are.

Now let’s revise your question.  Were the Europeans the only people in the world to know who the real Gods were?  Of course not.  The fact that someone isn’t using words like “Christian” or “Jesus” doesn’t mean that he isn’t worshiping one or more of the real Gods.  Labels aren’t enough to determine whether the God in question is real or false–you have to gather more information and find out what kinds of things this God is saying to the person who believes in them.  Jesus might introduce Himself as “the Big Sky God” to someone instead of using the Jewish handle of “Yeshua.”  But once you know Jesus well yourself, you’ll be able to recognize Him when He’s going by other names.

Christians get many of their God labels (Yeshua, Christ, Adonai, Elohim, etc.) from ancient Hebrew and Greek because those are the languages the Jewish authors of the Bible used.  But if you live in some jungle or desert somewhere and you’ve never been exposed to Jewish or Christian cultures, is Yahweh going to introduce Himself to you as “Yahweh”?  No, He’s going to pick some other title–one that is meaningful to you based on your own language and culture.  “Yeshua” was a Hebrew name that meant “God saves”, so it really worked for Jews to have a Messiah named “Yeshua”.  But if you live in a culture where the term “Yellow Banana” means “Supreme Creator”, then Jesus would probably introduce Himself to you as “Yellow Banana.”  Such a term would really help you understand who Jesus was, but if you then told a Christian that you prayed to the Yellow Banana, the Christian would leap to the assumption that you worship a false god.  Christians are so fixated on labels that they don’t take the time to ask things like, “So tell me about Yellow Banana.  What priorities does He teach you to have?  What is His Character like?”  They don’t leave room for our Gods to work with people within their cultural context, even though we have plenty of evidence of Them doing exactly this in the Bible.  But the way Christians really go off track is by leaping into the role of spiritual judges when God never authorized them to do so.  God is the Judge of humans–not Christians.  So is it really your place to go around trying to assess what god someone else believes in?  No, it’s not.

God is not a racist who only loves people who live in Europe.  God calls all to humans to come to Him at some point in their lives and regardless of where they are located on the planet.  So there’s no doubt that some Native Americans were spiritually on track, while plenty of others were being spiritually rebellious.  We could say the same of any group of folks at any time in history: the rebels will outnumber the obedient souls, but the obedient souls are everywhere.

Was it God’s plan for the white Europeans to spread Christianity to the Native populations around the world, often by force? I know technically everything is God’s plan, but does that mean it really was the “white man’s burden” to spread Christianity to the world?

The “white man’s burden” concept comes down to an attitude of cultural supremacy.  One group looks down on another as inferior, then they make it their mission to “fix” the backwards people.  Again, this is not a “white man” issue–it’s a human issue.  Anytime humans group up, they instinctively form a pecking order with someone on top and someone on the bottom.  As for the “fixing” issue, we find this at work everywhere.  People try to fix each other in many areas, not just spiritual.  America has a long history of trying to “fix” the government style of countries who don’t choose a democratic structure.  The poorest countries in the world often find other countries trying to “fix” them in areas of technology, education, etc. So the “burden” of trying to “save” others by pressuring them to do what you do reaches far beyond any single ethnic or religious group, which is why the phrase “white man’s burden” is as ridiculous as the term “black lives matter.” All lives matter, and people of all colors get caught up in superiority complexes.

So, does God applaud superiority complexes?  No, but He certainly uses them to further His agenda in this world.  Were the Europeans morally correct in sailing across the ocean and abusing a bunch of strangers?  No.  They acted as wrongly as the Indians were acting when they got in tribal wars with each other over the best gaming grounds.  It simply isn’t right to attack and rob someone else.  But it’s easy to justify this behavior when you know that the guy you’re robbing only has what he has because he stole it from someone else.  Take the Romans, for example.  They got their empire by stealing from the Greeks.  The Greeks got their empire by stealing from the Persians, who stole from the Babylonians, who stole from the Assyrians, and on and on we go.  Everyone’s operating on the principles of  “might is right” and “finders keepers.”  And once you rip land from someone else, you act like you have a Divine right to park there forever, and you get outraged when someone comes along to drive you out.

So what’s the truth?  Who is the rightful owner of the land that we know as the United States?  Is it Indians or Europeans?  It’s neither one.  God is the only rightful Owner of all of the resources on this planet, because He is the One who created this place.

Yahweh once told the Jews that the Promised Land would never be their property.  It would always belong to Him, and they should view themselves as tenants who He could boot out at any time.  The same goes for all of us.  What we have today we only have because God is allowing us to keep it.  If it gets ripped away from us by someone else, that’s His doing as well, and He’s the One we need to be looking to for guidance.  When we don’t turn to God because we’re so busy obsessing over the humans who were mean to us, then we never gain the positive lessons God was offering to teach us by setting us up to be attacked.  So, you see, whining about whites or anyone else doesn’t work.  Whites don’t run the planet, God does.  Whites have slaughtered each other with plenty of gusto throughout history, and they’ve also been trampled on by non-whites as well.  So be guarded when you’re listening to someone who is emphasizing race, nationality or skin color. Such factors are never the real issue, and focusing on them is just a way of avoiding the bigger picture.

Why had nobody else heard about Jesus Christ until the Europeans came and colonized everything?

Why do you assume that they didn’t?  Red Jacket is just one man–he can hardly speak for every person living in America at the time the Europeans showed up.  When someone is carrying racial grudges, they tend to give very biased accounts of history.  We’re talking about a period of history that is long over, so it’s not like we can interview every person who was around at the time and see if they knew who Jesus was.  Also, as we explained before, plenty of people could have been worshiping the God who we call Jesus while calling Him by a different title.  To suggest that the real Gods were only interested in Europe is as absurd as the apostle Paul’s claim that Yahweh loved Jews more than Gentiles (see More Lies from Paul: God Loves Jews More Than Gentiles (Romans 11)).  The real Gods love every human They create, and They are intimately involved in every life.

Also, did God send the white colonizers to convert the Native Americans, and when they didn’t convert He destroyed their land and way of life as a punishment? 

This theory doesn’t work because God never relies on humans to communicate spiritual truths to people–that’s another lie that is put out by the apostle Paul (who arrogantly wanted to believe that God needed his help to save people–see Romans 10: Paul’s Racism, His Pride & His Beautiful Feet).  God is intimately involved in every life at all times.  So there’s no sense in which God suddenly “starts” to take interest in us.  We can’t exist without Him constantly choosing to sustain us.

Be guarded against reading anger into every violent act that God does.  Remember that God uses hardships to motivate humans to make wise spiritual choices.  Anytime you’re dealing with an event that impacts a large group of people, you can be sure that God was working on many different agendas at once.  Also, the fact that some Indian refused to say some phrase that a European wanted to hear does not mean that Indian wasn’t already in a good place with the real Gods.  Christians have come up with many “sinner’s prayers” and formulas for salvation, but such things are useless.  Getting access to Heaven is a reward God gives us in response to soul choices that we make.  Soul choices have nothing to do with words that we speak out loud.  You simply can’t observe a man’s behavior and tell what’s happening in his soul, which is why Christian efforts to count converts at some evangelistic rally are so absurd.  And those statistical charts of how many people get “saved” every year–what a joke.  You can’t convert soul choices into numerical data, and this causes Christians no end of aggravation because they are so desperate for external evidence that they are making a difference.  Instead of spending so much energy trying to impact others, we should be focusing on our own walks with God.

Red Jacket’s speech has some very silly assumptions in it, like the way he suggests that truth can be identified by how many people agree with it. And his claim that his own people “never” argue about religious beliefs is absurd.  Humans argue about everything, and there’s no way every Indian found “the Great Spirit”to be as marvelous as Red Jacket made him out to be.  Just as some Christians today describe Jesus as purely wonderful, while others find Him exasperating, Indians who were really seeking truth would have asked a lot of questions about spiritual matters and wrestled with a lot of doubts. Where there are no questions, there is no thinking.  Where there is no external arguing, there are a bunch of humans privately stewing about their beefs with each other.  Perfect harmony simply isn’t an attainable goal for humans, so Red Jacket’s description of his own people is clearly exaggeratory.

Notice how Red Jacket says that both he and the white folks are worshiping religions handed to them by their forefathers.  Letting your ancestors choose your gods for you is more than a little foolish.  Your soul is too important to play games with. Saying “I worship the Great Spirit because that’s what my grandpa did,” or “I worship Jesus because that’s what everyone in my family does” is the same as saying “My religion is just a cultural ritual to me, it doesn’t mean more than that.”  So is Red Jacket modeling spiritually mature thinking throughout his speech?  No.  He’s talking more like a protective leader who has been burned and is trying to protect his people from further harm.  As for the missionaries who wanted to preach to the Indians, it’s very likely they were at least in part acting on the false beliefs the apostle Paul put out: the theory that God can’t possibly teach anyone the truth without the help of human missionaries.  Such a belief demonstrates a very poor understanding of God’s abilities and methods of operation.  But given the fact that most active missionaries were never authorized by God to go around preaching about Him, it’s not surprising that so many of them demonstrate such a lack of spiritual wisdom.

For more about evangelism, see the following:

How to Avoid Witnessing Burnout: It’s Not Your Job to Save the World
Understanding Salvation: How We Find the Real Gods & The Irrelevance of Titles
Improving Our Treatment of God: Why We Shouldn’t Pray for the Lost

359. I have just read “Why We Shouldn’t Be Trying To Draw People Closer to God“. Why such harsh criticism of Paul? Why would God allow the writings of Paul in His Holy Word if it is not beneficial to our relationship with Him? I want to trust that God’s Word (Bible) will help me grow – now I feel confused and mistrustful. I have never interpreted Paul’s writings as you have. I do not want to be “led astray” by my ignorance. I realize this site is Christian; is it non denominational – what sect is this site connected to?

We’re very aware of what a negative jolt our slashing of the apostle Paul can be to Christians.  To give this some context, realize that the purpose of this site is to teach souls how to please God to the greatest extent.  We don’t teach lukewarm Christianity here–we teach all out, full on, “wow, God, You are my entire life” kind of thinking.

Now once you make God truly first–once you decide that pleasing Him is the only goal that really matters–that radically changes how you’re going to handle something like the Bible.  There are certainly many benefits to studying the Bible, and we have written many posts unpacking some of the wonderful spiritual lessons we can glean from Bible passages.  But to learn the right lessons, we must approach Bible study with the correct priorities.  That means we go into it understanding that honoring, cherishing, serving, loving, respecting and obeying God are the top priorities.  When we start to read passages through that filter of priorities, we quickly discover that much of what we’re taught to view as “good teaching” is in fact horrible teaching.

The shocking truth is that so much of what the apostle Paul teaches about God is pure rot.  The man pumps out many utter deceptions about the glorious Jesus and Yahweh.  He intentionally misapplies quotations from the Old Testament.  He grossly downgrades Jesus to a Being who is less than Divine, and he utterly insults the magnificent Yahweh.  When he is not directly teaching rot about God, Paul models flagrant spiritual immaturity, unbounded arrogance, and a horrible style of praying.  Far from being a positive role model of how spiritual leaders should behave, Paul abuses his followers in many critical ways.  He intimidates people from daring to think for themselves, he demands blind trust in his teachings (instead of teaching dependency on God), and he obnoxiously teaches people to strive to imitate himself instead of focusing on God.   Now there are fabulous lessons to be learned from Paul’s horrible behavior–but first we must acknowledge how awful it really is.

We could easily write a defense of Paul to explain how the man’s extremely fragile ego, addiction to human applause, and raging control issues compelled him to play the part of a spiritual tyrant.  But the purpose of this site is not to explain why Paul was such a spiritual idiot who squandered his life exalting himself when he should have been submitting to God.  The purpose of this site is to help you understand what full on devotion to God looks like, and how you can continuously improve your treatment of Him.  To do this, we help you understand exactly why Paul is such a horrible spiritual role model so that you can avoid making his same mistakes.  We challenge you to rethink everything you’ve been taught about God and we teach you how to read the Bible with discernment.  Just because the book is loaded with bad theology and foolish thinking doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.  We can learn so much from it, but only when we stop pretending that God has stamped the whole thing as fabulous.  God Himself never claimed the Bible was “God breathed”–that was just one more bit of foolishness that Paul tossed out (and he was only referring to the Old Testament–see Imitating the Idolatry of NT Jews: All Scripture is God-Breathed).

So then, here we teach you how to develop real discernment skills, how to obsess over the goal of pleasing God, and how to think deeply about advanced spiritual concepts.  If those are goals you are interested in, we encourage you to explore the sidebar category FT by Paul (false teaching by Paul) where you will find many detailed explanations for why much of Paul’s teaching was so offensive to God.  The only reason we discuss him at all is because Christians are taught to idolize the man as an amazing spiritual role model. We can’t get far in truth when we keep celebrating lies.

As far as our denominational associations go, we truly don’t have any.  Many claim to be “non-denominational” to join in the “all-inclusive” fad mentality that is so popular in today’s spineless Church while in truth they really are associated with some Christian faction.  But while we exalt the only true Gods, which are the Christian Gods–Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit–our teaching varies too much from mainstream Christian teaching to line up with any denomination.  By the time you’re calling Paul out as the spiritual moron that he was, there is no Christian denomination that will welcome you.  Since we are all about God, we don’t compromise truth to be accepted by people.  On this site, we discuss the pursuit of God, because it is the only pursuit worth living for.

358. I’m not sure if something I read is prosperity theology or not…

Let’s break down the excerpt you sent and see what kinds of theological assumptions it is making.

Seek the Holy Spirit for when it’s time to persist in asking, and when it’s time stop asking and ‘violently’ grasp the things that God already released to us from the first instance of our asking.

God always hears our prayers and He’s not so keen on us nagging Him like bratty children who won’t take “no” for an answer.  But here you’re being instructed to ask the Holy Spirit when He’d like you to go into “nag” mode.  The real answer is “never.”  God would prefer that we treat Him like the caring, attentive Being that He is.  So already we see problems with someone suggesting that the Holy Spirit would ever tell you to “persist” in asking.  Why would He encourage you to act like He’s ignoring you?  He wouldn’t.  But He will encourage you to practice trust and submission, and that means you need to stop asking for the same things over and over, and instead trust that God has heard you and submit to His answer (see Asking & Aligning: The Two Stages of Prayer).  This advice counters what God would want us to do.

According to this instruction, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us to go into nag mode, then He will instruct us to ‘violently’ grasp the things God has automatically released to us from our first request.  The term ‘violently’ is ridiculous here, but it smacks of spiritual warfare, which is a very common theme in prosperity circles.  The old “name it and claim it” theory leaves no room for God to ever say “no” to certain requests, therefore people are instructed to claim that they have something whether they do or not.  For example, Mary decides God can’t possibly refuse to heal her disease, so she demands healing from Him, then goes around claiming to be healed even as her condition worsens.  This kind of thinking is an attempt to lead God.  The idea is that if we just act like He’s already done what we want, He’ll fall in line and get our circumstances to reflect that whatever we want is happening.  This obnoxious “You must do whatever I say” attitude is frequently called “faith” among Christians, when it’s not faith at all, but a refusal to accept our place as creatures who do not rule over our Creators.

Already we can see that this is garbage advice because we’re told to only give God two options: either instruct us to nag Him, or instruct us to pretend He’s already given us whatever we’ve asked for.  Notice how there is no acknowledgement that God could say “no” to one of our requests.  This is common bratty Christian thinking: we decide that God will give us what we want, even if we have to nag Him into it.  We treat God like our servant who is sometimes swift to obey, and other times dragging His feet.  We never get around to treating Him like our King who we are submitting to.  Let’s now see what else these people have to say:

Precisely, when it comes to salvation, monetary favour, healings, miracles and signs, let’s use our ‘new testament’ authority to speed up victory in the ethereal dimension and thus the subsequent release of God’s approval in the Physical.

There is no such thing as “New Testament” authority.  Likely the writer is thinking of when Jesus told His disciples that they could have anything they asked for if they asked in His Name.  Many Christians today rush to seize hold of that and other ego-pleasing promises without stopping to acknowledge how absurdly untrue they are.  Jesus made many extreme statements to His disciples which are not meant to be taken as literal promises.  Spotting these is a simple matter of focusing on soul attitudes.  Anytime God sounds like He’s volunteering to submit to us instead of demanding that we submit to Him, we know we’re not working with a true promise.  For help with many of the extreme promises Jesus made, see Practicing Discernment: Jesus Lies.

Given how much bad teaching is in the New Testament, it’s pretty ridiculous to treat that collection of documents as any kind of magical talisman.  Let’s remember that Paul didn’t even accept the Divinity of Christ, plus he grossly misrepresents who Yahweh is.  Paul’s writings comprise a lot of the New Testament.  Should we really be calling ourselves “New Testament” Christians when so much New Testament theology grossly insults our Gods?  Not hardly (for examples of Paul’s idiocy, see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ).

Reread the above excerpt and ask “Who is leading who?” As is so often the case with Christian teaching on prayer, this theology says that we humans are the ones “speeding up the victory” in supernatural realms and forcing God to manipulate the physical realm for our convenience.  God is portrayed here like a puppet on strings which we can make dance at will.  This is certainly offensive teaching which only encourages you to develop rebellious soul attitudes.

357. I’m planning to adopt a kitten this week. I thought I saw some material you’ve written about pets, have you erased it?

Pets can be a very positive addition to the home.  The only information we have about pets on this site is with regards to keeping them in proper perspective.  There is a very popular trend in the world today to elevate animals above humans in importance.  Such a priority system is not in alignment with God’s, for He says humans are more important–see this post.

Calling our pets our “kids,” projecting human emotions onto them, and having “conversations” with them in which we invent their half of the script (usually giving them lines that please our own egos) is another very common trend that is a result of people choosing infatuation over real love.  We explain some common psychological factors behind the humanization of animals in this post.

 

353. mii

In practice, you worship three Gods.  Sometimes you pray to Jesus, sometimes you sing worship songs to God the Father, etc..  So do we.  So in practice, we’re not as different as you think.  What makes you feel uncomfortable is that you’ve been taught that it’s super bad for you to say “I worship three Gods,” even though that is in fact what you are doing.  So you say “God is three in one, and there is only one God.”  Many Christians do this, because they’ve been told by other Christians that it’s a terrible thing to say that there are multiple Gods.

When you’re trying to figure out what is true and what isn’t, you naturally trust the people who you think know more than you do.  And because you don’t want to offend God, if someone says to you, “Don’t you dare say there are three Gods!!” then you are going to be afraid to do this.  You’re afraid because you’re still trusting that the people who are warning you like this must know more than you do.  You haven’t really thought about what they’re teaching you, and you don’t dare to consider that they might be wrong, because they make you feel bad for thinking on your own.

On this site, we encourage you to think for yourself.  We encourage you to question everything you’ve been taught about God, and we tell you that you’ll never really know the truth about Him until you talk to Him for yourself.  There is a big difference between relying on people to guide you, and relying on God.  When you are relying on people, then you pick certain teachers to follow, and you blindly trust whatever they say.  This is not good.  You should never blindly trust what people tell you about God, because no human is perfect.  Humans are so easy to deceive and often they can’t even tell when they’re wrong about something or when they’re missing information.  On a subject as important as God, you don’t want to be putting your faith in a bunch of lies–instead, you need to be sure that you have found a reliable source of truth.  The only reliable source of truth about God is God Himself.  He is the only One who really knows who He is.  So if you want to really know God, you must learn to start talking to Him directly.  But asking Him to teach you won’t do you much good if you refuse to let Him tell you that you’re wrong about something.  So when you ask God to teach you, you have to be willing to have Him point out errors in your thinking.  Just because you’ve believed your whole life that a fact about God is true does not mean you can’t be wrong about it.  And if you are wrong, wouldn’t you want to know?  You would if you really want to know God.

So then, in practice we are worshiping three Gods, and so are you.  The difference is that we are comfortable saying that this is what we do, while you believe it is wrong to say that there are three Gods.  Now maybe we’re wrong and you’re right.  Or maybe we’re right and you’re wrong.  But comparing with other humans is pointless–all that really matters is how God wants you to view Him.  So ask Him to show you about this.  Does He want you to view Him as Triune or not?  You need to ask Him with an open mind, and then you need to go with whatever He tells you.  If He tells you to view Him as Triune, then that’s what you need to do.  But should you assume everything else we say about God is wrong because we don’t view Him as Triune?  No, because with humans, teaching about God is always a mix of right and wrong.  No human is teaching pure truth–God doesn’t give any of us the ability to do that, because He wants us all to be relying on Him alone to guide us.  So when you read our material, you need to be asking God what He thinks about the things we say.  Ask Him to show you if there’s any truth for you in it.  You should do this with all teaching about God–ask Him to show you what to keep and what to reject.  When you are relying on God to teach you, you won’t need perfect human teachers, and it won’t bother you when humans get it wrong in some areas. You’ll still benefit from the good parts because you’re listening to God.  It always comes down to you and God.

Recommended Articles:
Recognizing Your Spiritual Dependency On Humans
God Told Me: The Only Valid Basis for Faith
Shady Shepherd Tactics: Gaining Rank

352. Do you think God would allow me to have my husband get a vasectomy? Is He against us altering our natural state in order to achieve a specific goal?

Your husband is a human, not a pet or a piece of property that you own.  So you don’t “have him get a vasectomy” the way you’d “have” new tires put on your car or “have” your dog groomed.  It’s his body that’s being cut in a vasectomy, so this isn’t a case of “our” natural state, it’s a case of “his” natural state.  Since it’s his body, this needs to be his choice.

The first important point is that you don’t get to make your husband get a vasectomy anymore than he gets to make you get plastic surgery.  Contrary to what some Christians believe, simply marrying someone doesn’t give us rights over that person’s body.  Humans will never own each other, no matter how many foolish laws they invent to say otherwise.  We are all the property of God.

Now a vasectomy is interrupting a natural process in your husband’s body–the flow of sperm the way God intended it to be.  Since we humans don’t begin to understand the genius behind why God causes our bodies to do what they do, we should not be in any rush to start cutting things.  Instead, we need to be cautious and seek God’s input on the situation.

The popular reason to want a vasectomy is as a form of birth control.  Since there are other birth control options available which do not involve cutting or drugging anyone, the question becomes why are you so eager to go to these extremes?  Is this about laziness–no one wants to bother to use non-invasive methods?  Having your husband permanently alter a natural process in his body simply to save yourself a little inconvenience isn’t a very good justification.  (Since you didn’t supply the reason why you’re wanting this, we’re assuming the common reason of convenience and advising you on that basis.)

Now physical factors aren’t the only issue here. Your husband’s feelings are also extremely important and should be treated with great respect.  After all, we’re not talking about you requesting that he part his hair a different way.  We’re talking about someone slicing into his genitals–the most personal, private, and emotionally loaded zone in his body.  Humans naturally feel very sensitive about their genitals, and for many people, that area of the body is linked to some very intense emotional issues–often unresolved traumas as well.  So before you even think about asking your husband to go bare himself to a stranger with a knife, you need to find out how your husband feels about the subject.  It could very well be that he doesn’t want anyone in his pants, at which point, you need to back off.  Coercing someone on a topic like this is totally unacceptable.

So is God against all body alterations?  No.  God guides us on a case by case basis.  But is God against coercion?  Yes.  Is He against us steamrolling over people’s feelings and acting like their bodies are ours to play with?  Yes.  The way you phrase your question suggests that you’re not appreciating that your husband is your peer equal who does not have to follow your instructions about what to do with his own anatomy.  The only way a vasectomy is going to be appropriate is if you both discuss it and your husband decides of his own free will that this is something he’d like to do.  But if you try to coerce him into doing what you want by trying to punish him until he caves, you are certainly going to have God on your case.  Your husband gets to call this one, and you need to be willing to accept “no” for an answer.  (And just so you know, we’d give him just as harsh of an answer if he came to us asking if it was okay for him to pressure you into getting a breast implant or a tummy tuck just for his convenience.  This is an issue of respecting boundaries, and the respect needs to go both ways.)

350. Do you have any advice for those who are struggling with using God’s name in vain or as a curse/cuss word when they’re not even angry at God or trying to, it just slips out the moment of frustration even though you don’t want it to?

When it comes to what words you use to vent anger, cultural traditions will often trump your personal love for God as an influencing factor.  This means that if you hear God’s Name being used as a cussword over and over and over (which you do as an American), then you will form a very strong psychological association between using those same terms and feeling a sense of emotional debriefing.  If you try to use “clean” alternatives to the foul language that your culture constantly promotes, it just won’t feel as effective.  In your case, the goal of swearing is to vent emotional stress and lower stress levels.  Every culture promotes different methods for doing this, and those methods get hammered into people from birth.  In American culture, cussing is a primary way that stress is vented, and the more you cuss, the harder it is to stop, especially when you’re living in a constant state of high stress (which you are).

So then, is God condemning you for being effected by cultural brainwashing?  Not hardly.  God judges you by your soul’s response to Him, not by how pretty your language is.  Do you sincerely care about God?  Yes, you do.  Do you sincerely want to please Him?  Yes, you know that you do. So what does this tell you about how God feels about you?

Now there’s nothing pretty about cussing, especially when we’re dragging God’s Name into it.  So why would God leave you with such an ugly habit? Why doesn’t He empower you to stop?  Well, notice how this problem you’re having with cussing is raising concerns about how God judges you.  God is clearly using this cussing issue to help dredge up deeper insecurities you have about how He judges you so that He can then help you resolve those concerns.  With God, there is always a positive end goal–some productive spiritual lesson that He’s going for.  This is a great opportunity for you to gain a firmer grasp on the fact that God judges you by your soul’s response to Him–not by your external behavior.  And with the other issues you have going on, we see a major theme of this all over your life.  The good news is that by saddling you with so many “bad” behaviors, God is really drilling you on this subject of Divine judgment.  If you want to gain strong confidence in your own walk with God, you must get an accurate view of Divine judgment.  So all of this is really fabulous training for you, and just another way that God is helping build a very firm foundation for your personal relationship with Him.

Recommended Reading:
Maturity Priorities: How much does God care about swearing?
Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy

We recommend that you read that last article and think about how it applies to your language and drug issues.  Understanding the issue of empowerment is critical to properly assessing how God is responding to your behaviors.  The fact that He is forcing you to endure such a long period of insufficient empowerment suggests that He still wants you to gain a deeper understanding of this principle.  But the good news is that understanding empowerment will free you up from constantly cycling into guilt and shame over things you can’t control.

 

346. Has God built us in a way that He would allow anyone (including spiritual beings) to interfere with our dreams? Maybe allow people to eavesdrop on our dreams and jump into conclusions? Can God allow other beings (apart from Him) to eavesdrop on people’s spiritual communication exchanges with Him?

Can humans see what you dream about?  No.

Can humans affect what you dream about?  Yes, in the sense that most of your dreams are a result of your mind processing stress in your daily life.  When other people are stressing you out for some reason, it’s very likely that your mind will invent dreams in which those people are characters.  Their dream characters might be realistic looking (for example, your mom looks like mom in a dream), or they might be symbolic (for example, your mind portrays your mom as a loud horn that won’t stop making noise because in real life, you are stressed by the way your mom is always yelling at you).  Your dreams are created by your subconscious mind.  Human minds are extremely creative, and dreams are often very symbolic.  The symbolism can make them seem more mystical and strange than they really are.  But with analysis, even very bizarre dreams will usually come down to your mind expressing its stress over an issue that you’re already very aware of.  Dreaming is an essential part of mental health, so dreams are good things.  If you think of your daily life like a kid who goes into a toy room and spreads his toys all over the place, then your dreams are like your subconscious coming along and putting that messy room back in order so it will be ready for the next day.  Now when you start having really upsetting dreams (nightmares), or recurring dreams (the same upsetting dream over and over), that is an indication that your mind is really stressed about something.  At that point, you should take time to analyze the dream’s meaning and figure out what you’re so stressed about.  When your mind starts flagging you like this, it’s important to pay attention and try to find ways to reduce your stress.  To learn more about dreams, see Dreams: An Overview.

Can demons mess with your dreams?  Yes.  Demons can construct dream story lines and images, and often they do so in order to upset you.  It’s rather like having someone run a movie in your mind that you don’t want to watch.  When you’re asleep, it’s rather hard to defend yourself against negative dream material.  But again, there are positive ways of dealing with this kind of thing.

Does God alter dream content?  Sometimes.  But it’s important to realize that just because you dream about Jesus doesn’t mean the dream was from Jesus.  For example, demons might give you a nightmare that you’re burning in Hell because God hates you, even when they know He doesn’t hate you at all.  Dreams about spiritual issues need to be carefully analyzed.  You always want to ask God to help you sort out the dream’s meaning–don’t just rush to believe the dream is a message from Him without checking with Him first.  For more about this, see Interpreting Spiritual Dreams.

Can other humans read your mind, hear your thoughts, or your prayers?  No.  Some people claim to be able to read minds, but they can’t.  That said, it is possible for God and/or demons to tell another human private information about you.  But in those cases, the person got their information from a third party–they didn’t read your mind on their own.  That’s an important difference to understand (see Can a prophet of God read your mind?).

Can demons hear your thoughts and prayers?  Absolutely.  Most Christians will tell you that they can’t, but most Christians are wrong on this issue.  Underestimating demons’ ability to hear your thoughts is going to really hamper you in discernment, so it’s very important to realize how accurately they can assess your private thoughts and tell what your soul’s attitude towards God is.  It is because demons have access to so much information about you that they can so effectively upset you.  They’re not just bumbling around–they’re able to play very strategic games to try and confuse you about spiritual issues.

So why does God let demons mess with humans like this?  There are many reasons, but they all come down to the same bottom line: God uses demons as just another tool to help you grow closer to Him.  Being harassed by demons will really speed up your spiritual maturity once you understand how to respond to them.  And because God controls the activities of demons, you never have to worry that demons will have their total way with you.  They can’t do anything to you that God doesn’t allow them to do, and He only ever allows them to do a tiny fraction of what they’d like to do.  So because God is in total control–not in partial control–you do not have to be terrified of demons.  You just need to understand that there’s no way you can defend yourself against them–you need God to help you.  You are totally dependent on Him to give you spiritual wisdom and spiritual protection–and embracing an attitude of dependency on God is going to really help you in your personal relationship with Him.  Even though demons set out to drive humans away from God, when you ask God for wisdom in how to deal with them, He’ll fix it so demons only end up helping you develop the soul attitudes of reverence, submission, dependency and trust; all of which will greatly benefit you in your walk with God.  See The Spiritual Benefits of Being Trampled by Demons. Also see Can demons read our minds?.

 

344. If God controls our life, does He consider us failures if we don’t get a certain career, or if our kids turn out bad, etc… aren’t we just living out His will for our life?

You’re asking about how God judges you–good! Divine judgement is a critical concept that you definitely need to understand if you’re going to get far with Him.

At first glance, it seems like God’s sovereignty (His control over everything) makes the concept of Him judging us unfair. After all, if He controls everything, how do we have real choices?

We like to use the analogy of cards here.  Suppose we pull three cards out of a deck of 52, then we tell you to pick one of the cards.  Is your choice real?  Yes.  But so is our control over the situation.  We’re only presenting you with options that work for us.  So while you have a very real choice to choose among the 3 cards we’ve given you, we’ve already ensured that no matter what you choose, we will benefit from your decision.

This is how it works with God and you.  He presents you with many real choices in life, but those choices are always very limited.  You can only choose between the options God makes available to you, and He only gives you a set of choices that works for Him.  This is why it’s impossible for you to mess up God’s plans by making “wrong” choices.  He never gives you the option to get in His way.

So what defines a wrong choice?  Well, sometimes when God presents you with a set of options, He tells you that He wants you to choose a certain one.  Once He convicts you like this, you are forced to choose between respecting His preferences or blowing Him off.  Let’s say you’re choosing between three job offers.  Jobs don’t seem like “spiritual” issues.  But once God pipes up with a conviction and tells you to choose a certain job, He turns a normal life issue into a spiritual one.  By convicting you, He adds a whole new level of significance to your choice.  Now you’re not just choosing a job, you’re deciding how much you’re going to respect Him.

How pleased God is with you depends on how you respond when He convicts you.  His assessment of you is based on what your soul attitude towards Him is, and you express your attitude towards Him in a variety of contexts.  Maybe He convicts you to go to church, but you blow Him off.  He is then displeased with you because you are disrespecting Him, not because you’re not going to church.  Or let’s say you’re going to a church and He tells you to stop, but you blow Him off.  Again, the issue is not church attendance, it’s that you’re showing no regard for His will or Authority.

So to answer your question, does God judge you by the world’s standards of “success”–the good career, the perfect kids, etc.?  No, He judges you by your soul’s response to Him.  What you’re doing in the world and how you’re impacting others are all side details.  What really matters is what’s happening between your soul and God.  You’re either treating Him with respect and sincerely desiring to please Him, or you’re not.  If you are, He’s pleased with you.  If you’re not, He’s displeased with you.  Because your soul attitude is a changeable thing, then if God is currently displeased with you, you can get back into a good place with Him by improving your soul attitude–this is what repentance is about (see Understanding Repentance).

Does God view you as an automaton who is just living out His predetermined will for your life?  No, God views you as a creature who He gives real choices to, and He is judging you by how you respond to those choices.  Choice is a critical concept when it comes to pleasing God.  Some folks get carried away with concepts like predestination to the point that they believe choice can’t really exist if God is in absolute control.  And yet the truth is that real choice can easily exist without limiting God’s control.

The following articles explain these issues more in-depth:
If God controls everything, how is it fair that He punishes us for making certain choices?
God’s Will vs. Human Choice Q&A
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
The Inner Room: Understanding How God Judges You

343. After reading through your material about the end times, I’m wondering: is there anything we can or should do to help others prepare for what’s coming?

The best way to help others is to fully apply yourself to doing your own spiritual work today.  As we explain in our end time material, this period will be extremely stressful, chaotic, and quite different than anyone is expecting.  One of the critical keys to staying calm in this period will be having a correct theological understanding of what is going on.  That means understanding that the end times are God’s show, and He is in complete control of what’s happening.  Once you understand what is going on and Who is in charge, the next step is to understand why God is doing what He’s doing so that you can embrace the spiritual priorities He wants you to have.  We explain all of these things in our material about the end times.  It’s critical information, and those who don’t learn it now will have to learn it later if they want to navigate through this period well.  It’s definitely to your advantage to do as much learning as you can while things are still fairly calm.

Now when life is going along normally, the whole end time package sounds pretty absurd.  Because the real end times will start quite suddenly, with no gradual build up of clear signs, this isn’t going to be something people see coming from a ways off.  One day life will be going along as usual, and then suddenly we’ll all be seeing headlines plastered on the news of strange happenings and some nut who is ranting about God judging the world.  What will make this particular nut stand out from all of the other doomsday ranters is the terrifying supernatural event that is associated with him (or her).  It’s at that time that people will start getting anxious.  And then, when things get a whole lot worse, anxiety will turn into terror.  If you have done  your spiritual prep with God, then you will be abnormally calm while everyone else is freaking out.  You will also have explanations of what is happening that are actually going to help people (instead of all the absurdity the Church will be coming up with).  People who aren’t panicking are really going to stand out as this period advances.  God will use your calm to attract people to you who are seeking answers.  Then He’ll tell you what to tell them, and of course what He says will exalt Himself and urge people to pursue the right spiritual priorities.  So is it exciting that you’re able to grasp this material now?  Yes, it’s very exciting.  God is preparing you to be a major help to others during the end times, and to honor Him with your actions and attitudes.

342. Just read your article on Samson. Considering Hebrews 11:32-34 you may want to rethink saying he is in Hell.

Good job seeing connections between the Old and New Testaments.  But don’t stop there–keep thinking. The author of Hebrews exalts Samson as a fine spiritual role model.  In our article about Samson, we point out how rotten the man’s soul attitudes were.  He demonstrated no sincere submission to Yahweh, which is critical to salvation.  So is the author of Hebrews correct in encouraging you to admire a self-absorbed rebel like Samson?  Or is he talking like a fool and demonstrating no understanding of what it means to please Yahweh?

The author of Hebrews uses many quotes from the Old Testament in his writings, demonstrating that he had at least some familiarity with those Scriptures.  And yet reverential submission to Yahweh is a major theme in the Old Testament, so how can the author of Hebrews seriously exalt Samson as a good spiritual role model when he treated God so terribly?  Don’t just accept New Testament interpretations of the Old Testament–think for yourself and ask God for His opinion.  The truth is that the author of Hebrews puts out a lot of really bad advice in his letter while grossly misapplying many Old Testament passages.  We’ve written a series covering the entire book to help people critically think.  The following chapters are especially problematic and will help you see how untrustworthy this author was:

Applying Hebrews 11: The Faith Hall of Fame
Applying Hebrews 7: Melchizedek Madness
Applying Hebrews 13: Concluding Remarks

 

337. Must I like my fiancé only through the Lord? Should I not feel affectionate towards him? I found out that I’ve been talking with him more often then I talk to God lately. And I seriously feel like this is bad. Is it?? Had I been totally single and have my attention to myself, I could have used all my attention on God and He wouldn’t get pissed at me for not remembering Him. Should I always be conscious about God? When I focus on some subject, I find it hard to remember that God exists that moment, right next to me. I feel like not thinking about God every second of my life might easily make Him mad.

What you’re describing is infatuation.  Infatuation is the first stage in romantic relationships.  It’s exciting, it’s very distracting, and it’s fun.  Does God want you to feel bad for being excited about a new relationship?  No, God is the One who makes new relationships so exciting in their early stages.

Being single is not a guarantee that you’d always think of God.  Plenty of single people never think of God.  The theory that “single is more spiritual” is a total lie.  It’s not being married or single which determines how focused on God you are–it’s a lot more complicated than that.

As a human, you have a limited attention span.  It’s not possible for you to think about God 24/7, nor does He expect this from you.

Instead of trying to choose between your fiancé and God, take a different approach.  Share the excitement of this romantic relationship with God.  When you’re with other people, you probably mention your fiancé a lot–telling them what he’s done lately that excites you.  Start doing the same with God.  This relationship is a big deal in your life right now, so share it with God.

People in your position often have single friends who get tired of hearing you go on and on about your guy.  But God enjoys it when you share your heart with Him.  He likes it when you include Him and ask for His opinion about the things your fiancé does.  So there’s a lot of room for you to have a relationship with both your fiancé and God.  And since God is your First Love, you’re really going into this human relationship with Him–you’re not going into it alone.  Everything you do in life you do with God.  Life is an adventure that you share with Him.  So there’s no reason to feel bad about enjoying a blessing God has given you.  Instead, it gets even more joyful when you share your joy with Him.

336. Can we keep or get back the things we surrender to God? Or are they forever gone?

If you’re talking about physical objects that you’ve dedicated to God, then it would be useful to ask Him to show you if you have gotten caught up in a ritual which He doesn’t require.  In some parts of the Christian community, trying to barter with God by giving Him material things is heavily promoted (see Sacrificial Giving: A Favorite Teaching of False Shepherds).  This theology is actually quite wrong, for God cannot be bought with our stuff.

If you’re talking about giving up on activities or concepts for the sake of honoring God–as many Catholic priests are taught to do by taking vows of celibacy–then it’s likely you’ve been taught incorrectly about what God requires (see Guidance for Priests: When to Break Your Vow of Celibacy).

God is not anti-joy, anti-sex, anti-marriage, anti-rich, or anti-fun when we enjoy these things within the boundaries He sets for us.  There is a common misconception that serious devotion to God must be proven through miserable circumstances and the intentional crushing of all dreams and desires (see Relating to God: Recognizing the Trap of Symbolic Pain).  And while it is quite true that spiritual maturity often involves some very difficult seasons, it also results in much greater joy, peace, and satisfaction than we would have without it.

When you’re in doubt about something you’re trying to do for God, it’s always good to start by looking at your motivations.  Why did you surrender whatever you surrendered in the first place?  Did you feel God was specifically asking you to, or did you volunteer to do it without any prompt from Him as a way of trying to please or impress Him?  Where did you get the idea that God wanted to you to surrender whatever it was?  From a general teaching by other Christians?  If so, have you ever asked God what His take on that teaching was?  A lot of religious rules we get tangled up in are things which God is going to tell us to let go of when we start seeking His feedback.  It’s very important to ask God directly for His opinion about the things you’re taught–some other human telling you to do something isn’t good enough.

Now when we talk about surrender on this site, we’re talking about the soul attitude of submission.  We’re not talking about offering God specific items or making Him promises to abstain from certain things.  It sounds like you’ve made some kind of bargain with God that you would now like to undo.  If you want further help with this issue, we would need to know the specifics of your situation.  What you surrendered, why you surrendered it, and why you now want to reverse that decision are all important pieces of information.  Most importantly, what is God telling you to do about this?  When there is a clear conviction from Him, it needs to be obeyed.  But if we’re going to grow, we must also leave room for God to change His instructions to us, or to show us that we have misunderstood His instructions in the past.

 

333. veryconfused

For help with the strange convictions, see The Contradictory Convictions Con: What To Do When God Can’t Seem To Make Up His Mind.

As far as the bad things happening, realize that when God has a problem with you, He will clearly tell you what is wrong, and He will tell you how you can immediately fix the problem.  He won’t just break your stuff and leave you with a vague sense of something being amiss.  See Test #1 in Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests.

Your situation shows all the signs of demons messing with you.  Given this, we would advise you against moving.  It sounds like they’re just trying to run you through a pattern of increasing frustrations, and you definitely don’t want to keep cooperating with them.

 

329. In the church I grew up in members of the congregation tithed, however as I have learned that tithing is not a part of the New Covenant. Growing up I remember different preachers coming to my church to preach and afterwards they would ask for a “special offering” for those preachers. But isn’t that making a buck off of God? Now when I asked this to my parents they said that generally all the tithes and offering collected on Sundays go to our pastor, in which he puts it all back into the church (quite suspicious I thought). So how do people keep a church up and running? Is it ok for the a pastor to be paid to be a preacher? Or is that an abuse of the flock?

Pastors are people with needs like everyone else: they need food, clothes, a home, etc..  So pastors have to have an income from somewhere.  Then there is the church.  Once you’re meeting in an actual building (not someone’s house), then there are things like mortgage payments and maintenance that have to be taken care of.  Roofs don’t last forever, and when they start leaking, it’s major money to repair them.  When the plumbing breaks in the bathroom, that’s more money.  What about the sound system used in the service?  And what about the materials used to furnish classrooms and teach/babysit the kids while their parents are in the main service?  Who should pay for all of those costs?  The whole group is benefiting from using the facility, so should the whole group share the costs?  If you drive on the roads that your city maintains, shouldn’t you contribute to paying for those roads to be maintained?  This is one side of the argument: if you’re sharing in the benefits, then you should be putting into the pot.  But then things get sticky, because the folks in charge of the church budget (usually a board of elders plus the pastor) might decide to start spending your money on extravagances that you don’t think are right. The most common example here is the old “We need to move to a bigger, better building” routine.  This usually results in hundreds of thousands of dollars needing to be raised asap.  Often there is a large crop of folks who feel that the upgrade has more to do with showboating than it does with a true need.  And while we’re filling the coffers to buy a new building, other ministries suffer.  So it’s messy.

Now once you accept that a church should be viewed just like any other business corporation, it’s easy to justify things like tithing and membership and nailing people who fail to follow the “company’s” rules.  But should spiritual development be put on the same level as manufacturing televisions or producing breakfast cereal or running for political office?  Should teaching people about God be treated as the equivalent of teaching people how to become doctors, engineers and auto repairmen?  When God is the subject matter, shouldn’t that change how we operate?  God would say yes.

Most of the men and women who identify themselves as pastor, prophets, evangelists and missionaries today have not been authorized by God to function in those capacities.  But just as a medical doctor might operate without a legal license, anyone can set themselves up as a Christian teacher.  Because all humans have been designed to need a relationship with their Creator, “God” is one of those topics that will always attract attention.  This means that if you start talking about God, someone will start listening, even if what you’re saying is ridiculous.  And once enough people start listening, you can launch your own little club, set yourself up as the leader, and start enjoying all of the carnal perks that come with having people depend on you for spiritual guidance. This is what’s going on in most churches–they’re just adults playing social hierarchy games.  No one really cares about pleasing God–He is just the excuse we use to justify coming together every week.  And once our club is established we can start supporting other clubs in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” fashion.  This is often what’s happening with visiting preachers.  Why on earth do we want to hear what Missionary Bob is doing?  Why are we setting him up with a captive audience and offering him our stage for an hour?  Well, Bob needs more money, and he’s a friend of someone on the church board, so he’s being given the chance to come and promote himself to a fresh audience.  Bob puts on what he hopes is a moving performance, then a “special offering” is taken.  Normal offerings are the ones that go to the church board, and they then allocate the funds across various sections of the church budget.  Churches who have agreed to regularly support certain ministries and missionaries will give those groups a cut of the “regular” funds.  But special speakers are usually outsiders–folks who don’t get a regular cut of the church’s income.  This is why “special” offerings get taken after they speak–it’s understood that “special” offerings are earmarked for a specific cause.  Instead of going back into the church’s budget, Bob’s “special” offering will either go to Bob, Bob’s controllers (such as the missionary organization who funds his trips), or some specific charity that Bob has just plugged in his speech.  When special offerings are taken, the congregation is told where the funds will go, and the idea is that they’re supposed to be willing to give extra for this special cause.

So how do you know that funds are being allocated well?  You don’t.  Most people have no idea what the various pots are in their church’s budget.  They figure the pastor is getting paid, and the building is being maintained, but in real life there’s a lot more going on than that.  And as far as percentages go (who is getting how much of the incoming money), that information is usually only known by a handful of folks at the top of the power structure.  If those people are the honorable type who are honestly seeking God’s direction about how to handle the tithe money, then you would have a good reason to trust their judgment.  But not everyone can be trusted to process large amounts of money without being overwhelmed by the temptation to start stealing, and cash offerings are very easy to pilfer, since they are often given anonymously.  So how do you know if someone is lining his pockets?  And how do you know that the pastor and other paid leaders aren’t taking more than a reasonable share?  You don’t.  Church leaders usually expect the congregation to blindly trust how they’re managing things.  Most people are content with this system, because budgeting is one of those dislikable chores that most of us don’t want to have to bother with.

So then, it costs money to live on this planet, and it costs even more money to operate social organizations.  So if we’re not going to treat God like just another product, how should we handle the issue of financial costs?  Well, the first critical step is to make sure that God approves of any costs we’re accruing.  For example, why exactly are we running a church in the first place?  Is this just a flesh trip or is it really God telling us to do this?  God certainly does instruct people to launch ministries, so it really isn’t correct to say that God could never be the One launching some church.  But here’s what’s tricky about working for God: He’s famous for pulling the rug out from under you just when you think it’s going great.  Whatever kind of ministry God tells you to launch, you can be sure that it will only be temporary.  God usually gives the “kill” signal to ministries before they start getting totally corrupted by egos and carnality.  When God is truly leading something, people can sense that something special is happening with that ministry, so they are drawn to it.  When God speaks, there is power in His words, and His timing is always impeccable.  So “Spirit led ministries” which are actually being led by the Holy Spirit (and that’s very rare) really make an impact.  It’s the effectiveness of God’s genius that draws the masses, and soon there’s a big push to shove God off the throne and put humans at the helm instead.  As soon as folks stop listening to God and start relying on their own wisdom, the whole thing sours, and here’s where things like mandatory tithing happen.

Trying to pressure people into financing your kingdom is nothing more than a fat pride trip.  When we’re actually working for God, then our focus is on pleasing Him, not on pleasing people.  Working for God requires a focus on those four soul attitudes that we’re always mentioning: reverence, submission, dependency and trust.  It’s reverence that makes us afraid of trying to blow God off when He’s convicting us to do things a certain way.  It’s submission which motivates us to do things we don’t want to do out of respect for God’s Authority.  When you’re preaching for God, for example, He’s going to tell you to say things you don’t want to say, He’ll kill ideas that you think are great, and He’ll have you do a lot of things that are considered foolish in the eyes of the world.  There’s going to be a lot of pressure to sell out and follow the world’s wisdom on how to market your ministry or boost followers.  Only real submission to God is going to keep you making “dumb” decisions in order to honor Him with your obedience.

Next we come to dependency and trust, and these two attitudes majorly affect how you handle financial issues.  When you know that God is telling you to start some ministry–be it a church, charity, or something else–then you need to trust that He will provide for your needs.  God understands that it costs money to live in this world.  He knows that if we spend a ton of time and resources doing something for Him which does not profit us financially, then we’re going to be strung out when the bills come rolling in.  So what’s the answer here?  If God says to Joe, “Quit your job and start preaching for Me full time,” should Joe obey or not?  Is it right for Joe to say to God, “I require payment in advance for any services I render”?  Not hardly.  Joe needs to obey God and be willing to risk financial hardship.  Putting God first means we obey Him no matter what–we obey even when it looks like obeying Him will bring us great hardship.

God loves it when we embrace a soul attitude of dependency–and that means we’re depending on Him to help us survive the process of serving Him.  Once you are embracing the right soul attitudes, you will not be able to justify telling people that they are morally obligated to pay your way.  That kind of conviction simply isn’t appropriate for humans to dole out.  It’s God’s job to determine how He wants to provide for you while you serve Him.  He might want you barely scraping by, and if that’s the case, you’ll have to suck it up and deal with it.  Trying to whine to the masses because you don’t like how God is treating you is immature and inappropriate.

Because God is the One in charge of spiritual illumination, anytime you’re working in a field where the goal is to spiritually educate people, then you can’t possibly do a decent job unless you’re having God direct your every move.  And once you’re working directly for God, any beefs you have about your employment benefits need to be taken to Him directly.  Imagine if you had a job where you felt you were being underpaid.  If you want some real change, should you go griping to your coworker?  No, because they don’t pay your way.  You need to talk to your boss–the guy who handles the money.

Now when preachers aren’t working for God, they start viewing themselves as working for people.  Then they feel justified in demanding that those people financially support them.  Here’s where they insist on tithes.  What’s wrong with this picture?  People have no spiritual wisdom of their own, so if you’re going to teach the masses about spirituality, how can you get anywhere listening to people?  You can’t, which is why so many sermons aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.  Once you stop listening to God, your preaching is garbage and your church becomes a big social club.  But when you are listening to God, your preaching is effective because it’s His material, and you don’t try to control people because people aren’t who you’re focused on.

The fact that preachers are supposed to be working for God is what makes their demands for financial support so obnoxious. In real life, God often uses people to financially support His legitimate preachers, but He does so by tapping certain people to give without the preacher doing any pandering.  Often in such cases, money is given anonymously and inconsistently by a variety of different folks who don’t even know who else is giving.  People simply feel God prompting them to give, so they do, and there’s no fuss made about it.

It’s a simple thing for God to cause funds to flow where He wants them, and when we’re letting Him run the show, we should be letting Him manage the finances.  As an individual Christian, you need to recognize that your money is God’s property, and then you need to wait for Him to tell you when He wants you to share some of His property with some ministry or preacher.  When God tells you to share, you do so out of a desire to honor Him, not to cater to someone’s entitlement issues.

 

 

 

322. If salvation is obtained through submission, then does it mean a person loses their salvation if they initially submitted and later in life walked away from God not for rebellious reasons but because He allowed something to happen to them and didn’t help them and it angered/hurt them?

Your definition of rebellious needs some work.  Walking away from God is a rebellious act, so it’s really not possible to walk away from Him for the reasons you’re describing without being rebellious.

Submission is a soul attitude which says “God, I recognize that You are the Supreme Authority, and so I yield to Your will for my life, even though I don’t like what You’re doing.”  Submission only comes up when there is a clash of wills–when God is doing something you don’t want Him to do.  As long as God is doing what you want, you’re just coasting along with Him–you’re not having any opportunity to respond to the fact that He outranks you.

Here’s how it often works with folks who call themselves Christians.  They get told that God is some nice, loving Being who demands nothing from them, but He’s super eager to bless them.  Well, whose ego doesn’t like that picture?  They then decide to “believe” in Jesus, as a child might believe in Santa Claus or a celebrity might decide to believe the compliments of his fans.  Does this qualify someone as being saved?  No, because merely acknowledging God’s existence is a separate thing from deciding how you are personally going to respond to His Authority.  Salvation is about responding correctly to the fact that God outranks you.  When you just “believe” in Jesus, that’s like a soldier believing in the reality of his commanding officer.  But does the soldier respect his C.O.?  Does he obey the man?  That’s a totally separate issue than the soldier simply acknowledging that his C.O. exists.

Because submission to God is rarely taught in church, it’s very easy to acquire the “saved” label from other humans without ever submitting to God.  In such a case, you are calling yourself a Christian, but you’re really not one in the eyes of God.  You say you’re going to Heaven, but you might very well be on your way to Hell.  It depends on how much you’ve been taught.

Now in your scenario, there is a soul who understands who God is, and that God is the Supreme Authority.  But when God then does something that the soul disapproves of, how does the soul respond?  Does he say, “Though I hate what You’re doing, I know that You outrank me, so I yield to Your will for my life?”  No, the soul you’re talking about says, “Shut up and go away, God.  I don’t care if You outrank me, I refuse to bow to Your Authority.”  That is rebellion.  Such an attitude is what lands us in Hell.

The likely explanation for your scenario is that the soul in question has never been saved, because he’s never really submitted to God.  He just thinks he has, and yet when an opportunity finally arose for him to practice submission, he refused to do so.  The fact that the soul denies that he has a problem with submission while he simultaneously tells God to shove it indicates that the soul doesn’t understand what submission is, and likely has never submitted.  This is a very common story.  People confuse liking God with submitting to Him, when these two things really have nothing to do with each other.

So then, in your case, God will be telling the rebellious soul to repent out of his bad attitude and start practicing real submission, which would say, “Though I hate what You’ve done to me, I recognize You are the Supreme Authority, so I bow to Your will for my life.  Have Your way with me. Your opinion trumps mine.”  If the soul refuses to do this, then he will likely land in Hell. The scenario you describe gives no indication that salvation was ever obtained.

Recommended Reading:
Returning to the God You Divorced: Guidance for Christians
Sticking It To God: What Every Really Angry Soul Needs to Know

321. What’s the differences between a spirit and a soul?

It depends who’s talking. Spiritual teachers (from Christianity and other religions) define these terms very differently.  Because of this, it’s important to understand how the person you’re listening to is defining the terms so that you can understand what it is they’re really saying.

In our material, we use the terms soul & spirit interchangeably, with both referring to the real you.

We then use the term earthsuit to refer to the body that you see in the mirror: that complex machine which your soul is currently using to get about in on this earth.

If you think of a man who is driving a car, then your soul/spirit would be the man, and your earthsuit would be the car.  In real life, do you make friends with men or the cars that they drive?  You just make friends with the humans, not the machines.  In the same way, it is only your soul/spirit that you relate to God with.  Your earthsuit couldn’t care less about God.

Your earthsuit has three basic components: a body (with nerves, senses, etc.), emotions, and a brain (which is like the computer that runs the whole machine).

Your soul also has emotions, which can oppose the emotions of your earthsuit.  In other words, your soul can be happy while your earthsuit is stressed, and vice versa.  Your soul and earthsuit have separate wills and different priorities.  This results in your soul and earthsuit frequently clashing with each other.

We’re not aware of anyone else who uses “earthsuit” terminology.  Many people split out the terms soul & spirit and say they have different aspects to them.   You’ll find that definitions change quite a bit from person to person, and this results in a lot of confusion.  We feel that our soul/spirit vs. earthsuit breakdown is the clearest way to explain principles which become very important in understanding many spiritual concepts (such as how God judges you).  For articles which describe the difference between soul and earthsuit, click on the sidebar category of Spiritual Discernment–>Soul vs. Earthsuit.

320. I was wondering about this question long time. I get quite generic answers, but I’m looking for more clarity. Here’s the question: Adam sinned. All humanity came under the punishment/God’s wrath without our personal involvement. And, Christ is the last Adam and died as the atoning sacrifice. Why His death couldn’t undo the impact of Adam’s sin and bring us into salvation without our personal involvement? Why are we demanded that we must make a personal decision in the second case?  

Great questions! And there are some wonderful answers available, but to grasp them, you’ll need to unlearn many lies that you’ve been taught.  The following articles will get you started in the right direction.

LIE #1: God is holding a spiritual grudge against us all because of Adam’s sin.

You get this idea from the apostle Paul–especially from his epistle of Romans.  Contrary to what Christians say today, Paul was a horrible spiritual role model, and his letters are filled with very wrong and harmful teaching about both Yahweh and Christ.  To see how Paul’s teaching about Adam conflicts with what Yahweh says about Himself, read Debunking the Impact of Adam: Unlearning Lies About How God Judges You.

LIE #2: Christ died on a cross to make it possible for us to gain salvation.

This is not true.  Salvation has always been available to all humans.  Salvation has never been acquired through atonement, but instead through submission. Submission is a soul attitude, not a lamb that you have to roast.  To learn how Yahweh’s sacrificial system actually worked, see Confession, Penance & the Old Covenant Sacrificial System: Unlearn the Lies.

LIE #3: Christ was another “Adam.”

No, He really wasn’t.  Adam was a human being.  Christ is God Almighty.  What no one tells you is that the apostle Paul presents Christ as a human being, not a God.  In fact, all of the NT writers humanize Christ and reject the idea that He is Yahweh’s Equal.  For specific examples of this, see How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human.

LIE #4: God’s requirements for salvation changed drastically since Christ.

No, they haven’t.  Salvation has always been obtained through soul submission, not external good behavior.  But in NT times, Jews like Paul taught that it was our works, not our soul choices that got us saved.  To learn more about how the NT Jews were teaching lies about salvation, see Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God.

To learn about how salvation actually works, see Salvation Q&A.

319. Have you heard of a substance called ibogaine? Seems like a possible “quick fix” for addiction and trauma issues. What do you think? It can be hard for me to know sometimes how much effort to put into fixing something that is wrong with me, when God might not want it fixed, or at least not yet.

Ibogaine is a psychedelic drug.  You really don’t want to get started with psychedelics.  For more about this, see Using Psychedelic Drugs in Your Search for Healing & Truth: Why It’s a Bad Idea.

Don’t believe anyone who offers you a “quick fix” for addictions or traumas.  There are no quick fixes to these things, but there are many things that will quickly make your situation much worse.

Whenever you find yourself in a dilemma over what to do next, pull the focus back onto soul attitudes.  Submission says “God, have Your way in my life.”  Trust says, “I am trusting that You are a good God, that Your wisdom is superior to mine, and that You are doing what is best for my soul in the long term.”  Focusing on these principles will keep you spiritually progressing, even when God is not giving you clear direction.

317. How can you be so sure Christianity is the truth?

Here’s a better question: why are you concerned about our level of confidence in what we believe?  Confidence is not an indication of truth.  The fact that someone is convinced something is true doesn’t mean you should start mindlessly imitating them.  At the same time, the fact that you don’t personally want something to be true doesn’t mean it isn’t.  If you want to find the real Gods, don’t waste your time interviewing humans who claim to know Them, because for all you know, those humans could be delusional.  Instead, go direct and ask the real Gods to identify Themselves to you.

In this world, you’ll find many Christians who want to tell you all about their personal relationships with the real Gods.  Christians are commonly taught that sharing their “testimonies” with others is a fabulous way to win new converts to the faith.  And yet the truth is that when you try to convince other people to accept your views as correct simply because you’re so sure of yourself or because you’ve got some dramatic story about how God changed your life, all you’re really doing is teaching someone to depend on you for truth in life.  Such a system is garbage.  Humans are not reliable sources of truth, nor are they who you should be depending on for spiritual guidance in life.  This is why we always tell people to talk to God directly, and not to believe something just because we say it.  See How do I find God?

315. Vampire

Yes, demons are playing off of your needs here.  To pinpoint how, try listing out the qualities you admire about vampires–what you think their advantages are.  That list will likely describe elements that you feel are missing in your own life.  When we admire someone, we are often focusing on qualities which we wish we had.  For example, a lonely, isolated child might feel identity with vampires who are isolated from main society due to something intrinsic about themselves which they can’t change.  But while the child finds his situation depressing, the vampires appear to rise above their difficulties and even thrive.  So the child would admire/envy the vampire’s ability to thrive in spite of being a “freak.”

The fact that this fascination has followed you into adulthood indicates that you do not feel you have resolved the problems that drew you to vampires as a child.  Because every human wants to feel loved, wanted, and cherished by someone else, romantic novels can be very addictive.  Romantic novels present a very warped view of reality.  They present intense infatuation as “real love” and they often present humans as worshiping each other with a level of obsession that is extremely dysfunctional.  In real life, humans who treat other humans as their “all in all” end up in miserable relationships.  Infatuation is always temporary, and worship soon becomes a suffocating turnoff.  But in romantic novels, the heroes never have these problems.  They can bask in the lustful worship of others without ever suffering any ill effects.  To a child, this kind of dynamic would symbolize the popularity and peer acceptance which every child wants.  Once puberty kicks in, the sexual elements of these stories can become greater hooks, especially for teens who feel socially awkward and unable to attract romantic partners.

Now are you helping demons by promoting vampires as fabulous?  Sure you are.  And since these mythical figures are intimately associated with dark magic, it’s hardly a God-honoring way for you to spend your talents.  But until you address the real life need that these creatures are filling for you, it will be very hard for you to break your addiction to them.

Intense attractions like the one you’re describing are driven by psychological stresses and needs.  Obsessing over vampires is a coping method for you–something you’re using to try and deal with core fears and pain. Who wants to sit around facing feelings of inadequacy, sadness, loneliness or insecurity when they could obsess over sexy vampires instead?  When we feel overwhelmed by problems with no quick fix, it feels very logical to try to ignore them as much as possible.

Now there are therapeutic steps you could take to start easing out of this obsession and dealing with the core issues.  We’d recommend you start with making a list of the traits/qualities/advantages that vampires have which you feel particularly fascinated by and see if you can identify fears/insecurities you have which those traits seem to solve.

 

309. Tangled Mess

When God is not interacting with us the way that we want, a common response is for us to say, “Fine, I’ll stop counting on You for anything and I’ll do life by myself.”  This is what it sounds like you’ve done.  You deliberately shut down on God by no longer praying and you decided that you’d no longer count on Him with anything.  Back when you first did that was when you lowered your expectations with God.  What’s happening now is that the implications of what you’ve done are suddenly sinking in.  The part that’s confusing you is that time has elapsed between the moment you stopped talking to God and the moment you started really facing how you’ve turned away from Him.  By “turned away,” we’re not referring to spiritual rebellion, just to the fact that you have intentionally distanced yourself from Him.  Distancing is about not wanting to be hurt–it’s a self-defense move.

Now trying to pretend you don’t need people is already problematic, because as a human you do have a need for human interaction which you can’t control.  Trying to deny that need is there ends up causing you to become so hostile towards other people that you kill any chance of a relationship happening.  This kind of pattern is another self-defense measure–it’s basically you over-compensating for being hurt in the past.  It’s rather like the man who gets badly shocked one time by a damaged wire, and he reacts by refusing to allow anything in his home which might shock or burn him.  Instead of recognizing that the wire that hurt him was damaged and that other wires can be safe, the man is determined to eliminate the possibility of ever getting harmed in his home again.  Does the plan work?  No, because in this world, it’s impossible to avoid all danger.  The man’s defensive measures aren’t really keeping him safe, they’re just making him very miserable because he’s eating cold food and taking cold showers and living in the dark because he won’t use any heating elements or light candles.  The man has boxed himself into a miserable existence because he’s not seeing his bad experience as an isolated event which is now in the past.  He’s not putting any value on the fact that he survived getting shocked–instead, he’s just obsessing over the fact that the shock happened.

Now once you write off people, it’s very easy to graduate to writing God off.  The problem is that you can’t take a stand of “I’m fine on my own” without rejecting certain facts which He says are true.  You can’t do anything on your own–you’re a creature who is totally dependent on the God who made you.  God is intimately involved in every aspect of your life.  God cares about you and wants you to succeed with Him. These are just a few of the essential truths that you’re rejecting when you take a position of “God can exist over there and I’ll stay over here.”

Right now it sounds like God is starting to challenge the lies you’re clinging to in order to motivate you to admit what you’re doing.  He’s helping you see how false your underlying beliefs are, and He’s scaring you by pointing out their implications.  After all, if God really was as uninterested and disconnected with you as you’re pretending, that would leave you in a very scary place.  It’s probably a sense of hopelessness that’s causing your distress, because if your Creator really has no personal interest in you, then there really is no basis for hope.

So how do you course correct?  You need to get back to truth.  A useful exercise here would be to make a list of the core beliefs you have about God–things like “He can’t be counted on” and “He doesn’t care about me.”  Then see if you can counter the false beliefs with God’s truth–such as “God says He is for me,” and “God says I can trust Him.”  Secondly, we would recommend that you start writing prayers to God in a journal to reopen the communication lines.  Writing prayers is a good way to focus your thoughts.  After you write out a prayer, look it over and underline any statements you made which reflect false beliefs about God.  Then see if you can write out a list of truths which counter those false beliefs.  Conclude by asking God to help you get a better grip on His truths.  Try going through this three part exercise once a day.  Step 1 is writing out an honest prayer to God. Step 2 is reviewing the prayer and identifying the core beliefs you’re expressing.  Underline any false beliefs.  Step 3 is making a list of the truths that counter those false beliefs.  At this point, you won’t emotionally resonate with the truth statements–they will seem to be meaningless cliches.  But they are very important nonetheless, because God defines what is true, and what is true remains true regardless of how we feel.

Recommended Reading: Stonewalling an Ogre God: Recognizing the Errors in Our Logic

306. How do I know if God is telling me to do something?

There is no simple answer to this question.

If there is something specific which you think God might be saying to you, we can help you determine whether that is Him or not if you provide the following information:

  • What you think He said.
  • How you received the message (from someone else, a thought in your mind, a sign, etc.).
  • Why you think He is asking you to do whatever it is.
  • How you feel about doing it (scared, stressed, happy, etc.).

304. Earthsuit teaching I found very interesting and logical. I’m interested on where this teaching originates, how was this information received?

Many important spiritual concepts cannot be understood until you have a correct understanding of who you are: that you are your soul, and that your soul is entirely separate from your body.

To make the difference between soul and body very clear and simple, we use the term “earthsuit” to refer to the parts of you that are not your soul: your body, mind, and your body’s emotions.  Many people are familiar with the concept of a “spacesuit,” and they can understand that a man who wears a spacesuit does not become part of the suit.  So we made up the term “earthsuit” to help people understand how their souls can be inside of their bodies without becoming part of their bodies.

We’re not aware of anyone else who presents the soul-earthsuit relationship the way we do (although maybe someone does).  But we feel it is the best way to explain the relationship between the soul and the body.

303. When I’m in graduation I had made a vow that I would shave my hair. Then I said that no, no, I would shave after graduation. Then I said no no after my master degree. Then I said no no after naukri. Then suddenly I fell ill and I said no no after marriage. Then I said when I grow old. Now I’m preparing for naukri and I’m in confusion about when I should complete my vow. I’m in decision that I should shave my hair during this year, but I’m afraid that after doing this I don’t want to do it again. But I repeated my vow to shave my hair after naukri and after marriage. I don’t want to get bound through life time. So after shaving my hair once, will I become free from my vow or not?  And if not, then what is the other solution? Please help because I want to take me out of this situation.

Since you are using the Hindi word for “job” (naukri), we assume that you have been taught that shaving your hair has important spiritual meaning.

It doesn’t.

The world has many religions in it, and every religion has silly beliefs and useless rituals.

Since you’re obviously not a baby, we won’t discuss the Hindu tradition of shaving a baby’s head.

The fact that Hinduism takes a negative view of hair by associating it with pride and arrogance does not mean that view is correct.  There is nothing evil about hair.  It’s not something you should be ashamed of, and it’s not something you should try to measure your character by.

In this world, people worship false gods and real Gods.  The many gods of Hindu are false gods, which means they don’t really exist–people just invented them like people invent characters in a movie.  Submitting to false gods won’t do anything for you.  You need to submit to the real Gods.  If you’re not sure who the real Gods are, ask Them to reveal Themselves to you.

For Hindus, shaving the head can be seen as an act of total submission to a Hindu god.  But head shaving is just an action of the body, not the soul.  You relate to the real Gods with your soul, and your soul does not have hair.  Total submission to the real Gods has nothing to do with head shaving.  When the real Gods judge how much you care about Them, They look at the attitude of your soul, not the length of your hair.  You please the real Gods by responding well to Them with your soul, and that means praying something like, “I want to please the Gods who created me.  So whoever You are, please help me become all that You want me to be.”

Now if you vowed to shave your head as part of a mannat, realize that mannats are not a respectful way to treat the real Gods.  Promising that you’ll shave your head after God gives you something that you want is just a way that you are trying to bribe God into serving you.  The real Gods cannot be controlled like this.  The real Gods are the Ones who have given you all of the blessings that you have.  They did not help you finish school because They were hoping that you would shave your head for Them.  They don’t care about your hair.  They want your soul to start treating Them with a lot more respect.

Should you shave your head?  No, you should forget about your hair because it is not important.  What is important is the way you are trying to relate to God.  You promise Him things in order to make Him bless you, then you don’t fulfill your promise.  This is what you need to change.

A promise is really a prediction of the future.  You say, “At some point in the future, I am going to do something.”  The problem is that humans cannot control the future.  You don’t know what will happen tomorrow, and most of what happens to you in life are things that you did not choose.  So as a human, you should never make promises to God.

Because the real Gods are the only Ones who have the power to control the future, They are the only Ones who can make real promises.  The real Gods always have the power to make Their will happen no matter what. You do not have this power.

When you make promises to God, you are claiming to have power that you don’t really have.  This is why you should stop making vows.  Don’t make God any more promises.  Instead, ask Him to help you improve the way you treat Him.

God does not care about how long your hair is.  He doesn’t want your hair, He wants you to improve your attitude towards Him.  The positive lesson for you in all of this is that your pattern of making and breaking vows shows you that you’re not treating God with respect, and that is something you need to change.  You are not bound by your vow, but God will hold you accountable for what He’s shown you about the way you are disrespecting Him.  So stop worrying about your hair, because it really doesn’t matter what you do with it.  Instead, take God’s conviction seriously and ask Him to help you get much more serious about your relationship with Him.

Recommended Reading:
Why We Shouldn’t Make Promises to God
Understanding Conviction: Invitations to Engage
Overcoming Spiritual Apathy: What to Do When You Just Don’t Care About God

302. St. Matthew 5:43-47. Do these verses apply to the ethnic Jews of that time? Or is this for everyone everywhere? Can you share your take on these verses? I can forgive, but I’m not gonna kiss up to someone that hates my very existence. It seems to me that Jesus was dealing with the Jew’s superior attitude.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

This is part of the Sermon on the Mount–a long speech by Jesus which was intended to shatter the common belief that salvation could be earned by works.  Salvation is obtained through soul submission–not external deeds.  In this speech, Jesus uses extreme language to make people realize how far from “perfect” they were according to Yahweh’s definition of sin.

We explain the Sermon on the Mount in two of our Know Your Bible Series lessons (two lessons because it’s such a long speech).  Click here for the first lesson.

Yes, the Jews had a major problem with grudge holding–it was a high value of many cultures in Bible times (hence the ongoing mutual hatred between the nations of Israel and Edom).

The caution for you is to not confuse forgiveness with kissing up.  The correct motivation for forgiving someone, being merciful, and loving others is to honor God–it has nothing to do with trying to kiss up.  Kissing up has to do with making another human feel positively towards you.  You can love and forgive someone who hates you. Godly love leaves plenty of room for holding boundaries and even administering discipline–it is not a “doormat” mentality.  So when we’re talking about the development of soul attitudes which please God, the goal is always to please God–not to please humans.

It’s useful to note that love, forgiveness, mercy and compassion are all soul attitudes. Don’t confuse attitudes with actions.  The fact that you have inwardly forgiven someone does not necessarily mean that you will go and announce that fact to the world.  The fact that you have a merciful attitude towards someone doesn’t mean you will have an opportunity to express that mercy through action.  God calls us to pursue the attitudes (with His help).  The attitudes are what matter most.  As for acting out those attitudes in ways that other humans will recognize–we need to wait for God to lead us in this area before we run amuck trying to make other humans understand what our true attitudes are.  Human opinion is not what we live for.  God is the Judge, so we need to keep our focus on pleasing Him.

Now when someone hurts you, you feel pain.  Humans commonly use anger to mask pain and fear.  So start paying more attention to the people who you get angry at in life and look for the ways that they are actually hurting or scaring you.  Understanding why you feel so threatened by someone will reveal an opportunity for you to mature in your own life.  We become less vulnerable to being hurt by personally maturing–not by shoving away all those who are potential threats.

Now when you hate someone who hates you, you’re letting their attitudes control your own.  That’s certainly a pattern you want to break out of, and God has many ways of motivating us to embrace maturity.  First, He has designed humans to become increasingly miserable the longer they remain in a hateful mentality.  In other words, if you hold grudges, those grudges will probably do more damage to you than they will to the people you’re shunning.  A second reason God tells us that we need to be merciful is based on the fact that He’s been so merciful to us.  In other words, after God has shown you such abundant grace, you are totally unjustified in withholding grace from others.  Jesus spells this point out in one of His parables–see The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (How many times should we forgive?).

If we blow God off and wallow in hate, He ensures that we end up turning into whoever we hate.  For more about this, see Understanding the Trap of Hate.

So then, God cares about soul attitudes more than actions.  When He convicts you that He wants to start working on improving your attitude towards people in some area, then you need to be receptive to what He’s saying.  Once God is convicting you personally about something, Bible verses become irrelevant (see Present Convictions vs. Past Commands).  What Jesus said to Jews 2,000 years ago can never be used as an excuse to ignore some conviction that God is giving you today.

People who bother you in life were placed in your life on purpose by God.  He doesn’t bring malicious people across your path just to trash you, but to further your own maturity.  So you always want to look for the positive lesson that God wants you to learn whenever you find yourself feeling provoked by someone.  Compassion is a very wonderful attitude that goes a long way towards helping your soul find peace and rest. It also helps you better understand God while it causes you to lose interest in hate.  To learn more about how we gain compassion, see Compassion Training: Focusing on Principles Instead of Particulars.

298. How can Jesus call Satan a liar and a murderer if our own Gods are the worst liars in the Bible and in our lives? False prophecies, misleading people, deceiving the apostles and their own prophets…and even today with the excuse of refinement or sanctification the real Gods make their people suffer at the devil’s hand. So who is the real liar ? God or the devil?

The question is not who is the “real” liar, for in your life, you are surrounded by beings who lie to you.  Other humans lie to you constantly, demons lie to you, and your Creators lie to you.  The lies all of these groups tell are real lies, so it’s not like you’re surrounded by a mix of real liars and fake ones.  You’ve got liars on all sides, and you are a being who constantly lies as well–to other created beings as well as to your Creators.

So then, what is it you’re really upset by?  If you want Gods who don’t lie to you, that’s not going to happen.  You don’t get to pick your Gods off of a shelf of options.  You can’t customize Them to fit your personal preferences.  The real Gods will deceive you whenever They want to do so, so it’s in your own best interests to let go of the dream of having Gods who do not lie.

Now you sent us a quote of John 8:44:

“You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.”

What bothers you about this passage?  As one of the Creators of all that is, Jesus can call His own creatures by any names He wants.  As the Judge of both demons and humans, Jesus can cast judgments whenever He wants. So are you mad because Jesus is criticizing Satan for lying when Jesus lies Himself?  Do you think that Jesus has to abide by the rules He gives to His own creations?  This is a common issue that people have with the real Gods: they want those Gods to be bound by some kind of moral code.  Well, this isn’t how it works with Gods.  As we often say in our material, when you’re dealing with Almighty Gods, the game changes.

As a human who cannot sustain his own life or create himself or do anything without the assistance of his Creators, you are quite literally the property of the Gods who made you.  They can set any rules They want on you. They don’t owe you anything.  They don’t have to give you any options in life.  They certainly don’t have to adjust Their behavior to suit you.  So when you find yourself getting mad at Jesus for acting like He’s an exception to every rule He’s given you, what you’re seeing is the limits of your own submission to God.  You want Jesus to act in ways that you personally approve of, and when He doesn’t, you feel justified in playing the role of His judge and criticizing what He’s doing.  And yet in real life, you are really not qualified to judge your own Creators, and Jesus is not bound by any rules.  Rules are for humans, not Gods–this is one of the many differences between being created and being a Creator (see Why God Doesn’t Obey His Own Laws).

Now as always, when you want to understand the point of something Jesus says in the Bible, you need to not just yank one line out of context, but look at the broader picture.  In John 8, Jesus is not really discussing the issue of deception, but the issue of spiritual rebellion.  He’s arguing with folks who are willfully defying God.

Here’s how conviction worked in the time period covered by the Gospel books.  Jesus said something.  The souls of the people who He was talking to received a clear conviction that what Jesus was saying was correct (even though so much of what He said was so shocking).  When those souls received that clear conviction, they knew that it was God who was talking to them.  Since the crowd in John 8 are Jews, they would have perceived “God” to be only Yahweh.  So then, a Jewish man hears Jesus talking and in his soul, he feels like Yahweh is telling him that what Jesus is saying is true.  But instead of saying, “Okay, Yahweh, I am going to align with Your truth,” the Jewish man says, “Shut up, Yahweh, I don’t care what You say because I hate You.”

This is the soul process that Jesus is addressing in John 8.  He’s facing off with a bunch of Jews who claim to be devoted followers of Yahweh, while internally they are constantly telling Yahweh to stuff it.  Being God, Jesus knows what the true soul attitudes of these people are.  Read John 8:12-59 and watch how the Jews fire off one logical reason after another why they should be justified in condemning Jesus.  How does Jesus respond to their “logical” arguments?  He fluffs off their logic as irrelevant and says that He knows Yahweh Himself is telling these folks that Jesus is speaking the truth.  If God says it, that’s how it is, and humans need to adjust.  But, like many Christians today, the Jews in John 8 want to fuss around with Scripture references.  They want Jesus to neatly fit into their current beliefs.  They want Him to align with the expectations they already have, instead of flexing their beliefs to fit what actually is.  This is a classic stumbling block to growth that Christians continue to fall into today: they decide they already know far more truth than they actually do, and when God presents them with new truths or points out some error in their current beliefs, they refuse to accept that new information.

While the Jews in John 8 try to bring up Abraham, Samaritans, demonic possession and a bunch of other irrelevant issues, Jesus keeps pointing them back to the fact that they are internally receiving conviction from Yahweh about who Jesus is.  Jesus says that any true Yahweh follower would be receptive to what Yahweh tells them, so the fact that these people are rejecting what Yahweh is saying proves that they are spiritual rebels.  Who else do these Jews recognize as a willful, unrepentant spiritual rebel?  Satan.  So Jesus says they’re all the kids of Satan.  He uses this language to illustrate just how foul the soul attitudes of these people are.  These Jews view the man Abraham as a devoted Yahweh follower, so they like to call themselves the children of Abraham as a means of saying that they are also devoted to Yahweh.  They also call themselves the children of Yahweh as a means of boasting about how devoted they are to God.  But, as Jesus says:

“If Yahweh were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from Yahweh and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word.You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? The one who is from Yahweh listens to Yahweh’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from Yahweh.” (Jn. 8:42-47)

In our material, we’re always saying that God judges you by your soul’s response to Him, not by your external behavior or how you treat others.  This is what Jesus is doing here: He’s condemning these people for the way they are internally responding to God’s convictions.

Now the reason Jesus mentions murdering is because He knows these people are looking for a chance to murder Him.  And at the end of John 8, when Jesus comes right out and claims the sacred I AM title for Himself–which was the same as Him claiming to be a Divine Being who was equal to Yahweh–the Jews flip out and reach for some rocks.

 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I AM.”

At that, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the Temple complex. (Jn. 8:58-59)

So then, with God, it’s all about soul attitudes.  In John 8, Jesus is condemning willful spiritual rebellion.  You’ve pulled one line out of this passage which you’ve gotten all upset about, so what’s your soul attitude issue?  In your case, the issue is one of submission. You don’t like the whole idea of God using methods that you don’t personally approve of–such as suffering and deception–and you don’t like Him living above His own rules.  In your case, the productive thing to do would be to ask God to help you get over yourself and deepen your submission to Him.  It’s not a pride pleasing prayer, but it’s one that every Christian will need to pray many times along the way if he’s going to get far with God.  We humans are merely creatures, and as such, we don’t get to tell our Creators what They can and can’t do.

297. I have been struggling with whether or not I am experiencing condemnation from the enemy, conviction from the Holy Spirit, or my own guilt and shame. I have been troubled and fearful that I’m living in rebellion. I had sin in my past that I confessed to God, my husband and other wise counsel. I had a dream one night that I also confessed my sin to my daughter and since that time I’ve been burdened with whether or not this was the Lord telling me to confess my past sin to my daughter. I sought the Lord and felt like He was telling me to move forward, let it go, the past is in the past but I still have no peace. I will get to a place where I will have peace but then I have the fear of what if God is telling me to confess to my daughter. I truthfully have tried and have prayed for the courage to confess to her but I just can’t make the words come from my mouth. I even have a letter written in my purse to give her because I don’t have the courage to tell her. One minute I read something that makes me believe that this is the enemy tormenting me and the next I read or hear something that makes me believe I’m living in rebellion. Please help!

Don’t view the dream as conviction from God.  Most dreams are nothing more than your subconscious mind expressing the things it is currently stressed about.  After confessing something shameful to your husband–which would have been a very stressful experience–it’s quite natural that you should wonder/worry about how your other close family member would react.  Would your daughter be as accepting as your husband was?  Or would she hate you?  Such questions are very natural to ask in your position, and they result in a lot of background mental stress, which will then be depicted in your dreams. (To learn about the psychological purpose of dreams, see Dreams: An Overview.)

Now let’s talk about confessing your sins to others.  First, you need to be clear about what you are trying to accomplish by doing this.  Many people have the very wrong idea that confessing their sins to other humans is critical to having God forgive those sins.  Well, no, it’s not.

God’s definition of sin is the only definition that counts.  When you sin, you are breaking His moral code, thus He is the One you’re really sinning against and that means He is the One who you should focus on making amends with.  Since God is the only Judge you will be answering to for your life, His opinion is the only one you need to be concerned with.

Now God is far easier to succeed with than human beings are.  He is an extremely merciful, compassionate, and gracious Being–much more so than the humans around you.  Plus-and this is a big one–God doesn’t need you.  He doesn’t need you to like Him, prop up His esteem, help His image, or anything else.  Other humans do need these things from you.  We don’t know what your specific sin was, but extramarital affairs are a common issue that cause people to end up in the place you’re at.  So let’s take the example of a woman who cheats on her husband.  If she confesses this to her husband, is he going to have an easy time dealing with it?  No, he’s going to feel shocked, devastated, and deeply betrayed.  A human man cannot deal with the disloyalty of his wife with the ease that God can deal with the disloyalty of His people.  Human spouses depend on each other for things that God does not depend on humans for.  So when you confess sins to humans and those sins are things that make those particular humans feel threatened in some way, then they will have a strong emotional reaction and they may decide not to forgive you at all.  But when you confess things to God, it’s a very different scenario.  First, God already knows what you did–so it’s not like you’re surprising Him with your confession.  It’s more like you’re finally owning up to something that He’s been on your case about for a while.  Second, God isn’t personally threatened by what you did.  God is the only Being you know who is never surprised by your behavior.  He’s the only One who never expects more from you than you can deliver.  For all of these reasons–plus the fact that God’s Character is so much better than ours–God is far more easy to succeed with than humans are.

So then, what is the purpose of confessing your sins to God?  Well, for starters, confessing isn’t enough.  Confessing is just you saying, “Yep, I did it.”  What God wants from you is repentance.  Repentance is a soul attitude that says, “I’m sorry for rebelling against You, God.  I now want to get back into alignment with You, because I realize that pleasing You is more important than pleasing myself.  So I’m asking You to have Your way in my life.”

Repentance is only needed when you are actually in a state of rebellion.  Feeling emotionally guilty or having demons accuse you of being rebellious is not the same thing as actually being rebellious.  Since the truly rebellious do not care about pleasing God (because they’re preferring to defy Him), it’s obvious that you are not currently in a state of rebellion.  How can you tell?  Listen to yourself:

I have been troubled and fearful that I’m living in rebellion.

This is your soul talking (remember that your earthsuit doesn’t care about pleasing God).  Your soul is stressing over the idea that God might be upset with you.  True rebels do not feel this way.  A true rebel would say something like: “If God doesn’t like what I’m doing, He can shove it.”

Now once you listen to yourself and recognize the voice of your soul coming through in your thoughts, you can easily discern where this fear is coming from.  Is God the kind of Being who accuses you of things that you’re not really doing?  No, He’s not.  So it’s not God telling you that you’re rebellious, because He knows you’re not.  This is a clear case of condemnation from demons.

Once you realize that you’re being hounded by demons, it’s informative that they’re trying so hard to get you to share certain information with your daughter.  Why are they so invested in you doing this?  Likely because they’ve been preparing your daughter to react negatively to the news.

Demons do this kind of set up with humans all the time.  While they can’t see the future, they can see the present, and they often work together to pit humans against each other.  Demons know all about the sin you’re ashamed of, and they can use that information to prep your daughter to respond in a way that they want.  For example, let’s say your shameful secret is that you cheated on your husband.  Knowing this, demons would be telling your daughter things like, “Good thing your parents have always been faithful to each other.  It would be so unforgivable if your mother were to ever cheat on your father. Only horrible women do things like that.  You could never forgive your mother if she were to do something like that.  Instead, you would have to side with your dad and shun your mother.”  Your daughter would likely interpret these kinds of thoughts as her own random musings, instead of recognizing that demons were prepping her to have a conflict with you.  Meanwhile, demons start trying to con you into thinking it’s really God who is telling you to share your past sins with your daughter–sins that demons are working hard to make her think she can’t forgive.  See how it works?  This kind of ploy is extremely effective in getting humans to hate each other.

So then, should you confess your particular issue with your daughter?  No, you shouldn’t.  Why not?  Because it’s clear that the direction to do this is coming from demons, not God.  You don’t want to play along with demons, because they’re always baiting you into something negative.

Rip up the letter you wrote and throw it out.  Keep your daughter out of the loop on this one, because it’s very likely she’s not going to be able to handle it.  Meanwhile, this is an excellent opportunity for you to practice discerning where the voices in your head are coming from, and it’s a great lesson in standing on the fact that you’re in a good place with God on this issue.

Recommended Reading:
Repentant Sinners: Is it wrong to stop feeling bad about the past?
Confessing Your Sins to People
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests

295. What are some of the markers the Holy Spirit will give you when you’re trying to discern some type of teaching about God? Just really been trying to get His feedback on some things but just not really getting any clear direction or internal check whenever I’m trying to analyze some teaching.

In analyzing teaching on spiritual matters, you want to look past the surface issue being discussed and ask, “How is this teaching encouraging me to treat God in my own life?”  In other words, “What kinds of soul attitudes are being promoted?”

There are many soul attitudes which God wants His followers to cultivate, but if you stick with the basic four we’re always talking about (reverence, submission, dependency & trust), you can knock out a ton of wrong teaching.  For a demonstration of how you can use soul attitudes as a discernment test, see Four Ways to Identify False Teaching in the Church.

292. I have a few questions. Do you believe and worship God aka Yahweh, Jesus, and Holy Spirit of the Bible?

See the page What We Teach/FAQs.

Also 2nd Timothy 3:16 says all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine for reproof for instruction in righteousness.

2 Timothy was written by the apostle Paul.  The “Scriptures” Paul was referring to was only the collection of documents which you know as the Old Testament.  To understand how the NT Jews arrived at the conclusion that their Scriptures were “Divinely inspired” and to understand why you should not be agreeing with this idea, see Imitating the Idolatry of NT Jews: All Scripture is God-Breathed.

So if that’s true, my 2nd question is how can God lie? Especially when we have verses that say otherwise–especially in Titus 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie promised, before the world began?” So how can we teach against that?

You’re quoting Paul again when you quote from Titus.  Paul is not stating truth, he’s stating his personal opinion (which he has decided is an irrefutable fact).  And by the way, this same Paul teaches that Christ is not God, he intentionally misapplies many passages from the Old Testament, and he grossly misrepresents the Character of Yahweh.  So our question to you would be: how can you possibly promote the man’s teaching as sound if you claim to be a Christian? For some specific examples of just some of the guff Paul teaches, see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ.

So then, how can we teach against Paul?  Because the man is an irreverent rebel who grossly insults both Christ and Yahweh in his writings, while he arrogantly promotes himself as a fabulous spiritual role model.  We are against Paul because we are loyal to God: it’s that simple.

As for the lying issue, the Bible is loaded with examples of both Yahweh and Jesus intentionally deceiving people in a variety of ways, and we discuss many of those passages at length in various articles.  The fact that Paul and his fellow Jews chose to pretend such passages do not exist hardly makes them go away.  We teach what Scriptures actually say–we don’t skip around the awkward sections.

The theory that “God can’t lie” was a very common misconception among Jews, and one which they continued to cling to no matter how much evidence they were given to the contrary.  Today, Christians continue to do this: they cling to many false beliefs about God and they refuse to let those beliefs go no matter what.  The real issue here is that as humans, we feel immensely threatened by our Creators having certain characteristics.  So we just decide that They don’t have those characteristics.  It’s rather like relativists who say “I can create my own reality.”  Or atheists, who say, “God can’t exist because I don’t personally approve of who He is.”  Of course clinging to the delusion that we can decide who God can and can’t be will never lead us to truth.  If you really want to know God, you must let Him define Himself to you, and you need to stop rejecting what He says simply because you don’t like it or it scares you.

The material on this site will only benefit souls who sincerely want to know the truth.  If you want to remain comfortable with mainstream Christianity, you’ve come to the wrong place.  Our material will greatly challenge you and push you to wrestle with questions like “How do I really know who God is?” and “What is my faith really rooted in?”  We will demonstrate that much of what you’ve been taught about the Bible and God is completely wrong.  We will also teach you how to think critically about what you’re being taught, and how to start depending on God alone to guide you in life.  This site is not going to help people who want to keep stagnating in some comfortable religion and only deal with God when they find it convenient to do so.  If you want to grow, you need to ask God to show you if there is any truth in our material.  Then you need to be willing to push through an uncomfortable period in which many of your core beliefs are going to be challenged and revised.

Recommended articles:
How We Got the Bible: A Reality Check for Christians
More Lies from Paul: God Loves Jews More Than Gentiles (Romans 11)
It’s Biblical: God Talks to People Without Using the Bible
Communicating with God: Why He Lies

290. I have a question after having read your articles regarding the prophetic calling. How do you know when the right time to act/speak has come? I understand the message God has given me, but when do I start? The main struggle I have is the following: Does God want me to wait on Him until I receive a clear green light or does He expect me to operate in faith and go ahead with no need to wait for a “confirmation”?

Speaking for God is an extremely serious task, and one that doesn’t leave any room for winging it.  So you do not want to speak until you are very clear on timing, wording, tone, emphasis, and delivery method (in person, via the internet, etc.).  Getting sloppy in their representations of God has gotten many people into serious trouble, so you really don’t want to go there.  If He wants you to speak for Him, He will make His preferences clear to you in all of the categories we listed.  Until He does, you do not want to speak.

Working according to God’s timetable is an essential part of serving Him well in any area, including prophecy.  It’s also one of the most difficult aspects for humans.  Often we humans feel that God is taking too long to give us the green light, and that He’s wasting perfect opportunities.  To serve God well, we must learn to stay in alignment with His agenda, even when that agenda seems utterly wrong and foolish to us.  If God is calling you to speak for Him, then you should expect Him to put you through many aggravating submission exercises in order to help you develop the right priorities.  This isn’t a put down–we all need God’s help to remember what really matters.  Packing a punch with our messages doesn’t matter.  Human reactions and visible impact does not matter.  Pleasing God is all that matters, and if it is our silence that pleases Him more than our speaking, then we need to learn to take joy in remaining silent.

288. I’ve been experiencing something that I don’t understand. I know that God and Jesus said we must love one another and be peacekeepers among other “loving your neighbour” kind of things. Even though I know what I have to do, I can’t do it. I feel anger and I strongly dislike humans (I’m no better), and I have this constant thirst for justice, wishing all the time that God Himself would come down and end it all. I know I should be a light to the world but I only desire for the world to burn. I know I’d probably burn too, but I also know I deserve it. I feel words are not enough to describe this voracious feeling I have to consume everyone with fire. I guess you get my point.

Today Christians put way too much importance on loving other humans–so much so that they’re viewing it as a critical factor in pleasing God, which it is not.  To stop stressing over your lack of love for others, you need to get a correct understanding of how God judges you.  For help with this, see You Love God But You Hate People: Why You’re Not a Spiritual Failure.

Now seething rage over what’s wrong with the world can be fueled by many things.  One issue that’s commonly overlooked is that of submission.  God wants this world to be the mess that it is.  You are personally fed up with dealing with this place, thus you want God to submit to you by annihilating the planet.  When you look at this as a submission issue, it can help you respond to it positively.  Rather than spend your efforts trying to not be bothered by how messed up the world is (because that’s a futile goal for someone in your position), focus on the challenge of honoring God by respecting His preferences.  God does many things that you totally disagree with as a human being.  Submission is a vital element in pursuing God, so since God is who you care about, focusing on deepening your submission to Him by respecting how He wants to manage His own Creation is a very productive goal.

God sees many benefits in working with humans amid a context of evil, pain, and suffering.  We humans do not share God’s enthusiasm about this set up.  We quickly burnout on the negativity, and we just want things to go smoothly and feel pleasant.  And yet the fact remains that God is a very purposeful Creator who sees major advantages to the current system.  Ask Him to help you better appreciate what some of those advantages are.

As humans, we rarely think about how concepts like comfort, compassion, and mercy only come up in negative contexts.  If the goal is to know God, and if God is a very compassionate, merciful Being, then it is to our advantage to relate to Him in a context of pain and suffering.  In a perfect, struggle and sorrow-free life, we would have no context in which we could experience God comforting us or having compassion on us.  So while it’s easy to feel exasperated with God’s methods, there is a definite strategy to what He’s doing, and the goals He is working towards are ones which you are personally learning to see the value of–such as knowing Him better.

Now the desire for justice often reflects a lack of understanding about what true justice is.  In its pure form, justice cares only about the law being upheld, and it allows no room for mercy.  Since God considers Himself to be the most magnificent Being in existence and One who deserves endless praise and unwavering devotion from humans, then if He were truly just, He would chuck us all into Hell for failing to treat Him as well as we should.  So there’s no “I’d probably burn”–you would burn, and it would be a truly horrific, unending experience.  Since all humans are selfish at bottom, you really don’t want justice–you just think you do because you’re misunderstanding what it would really mean for you.

As we said, the spiritually productive focus here is to see this as an exercise in deepening your personal submission to God.  You want Him to do something that He’s not doing, thus you’re experiencing intense rage and exasperation which at times feels like it’s driving you mad.  When we intensely disagree with God’s methods, we often lose all respect for His wisdom and choices.  This creates a fabulous opportunity to practice submission, so ask Him to help you with that goal.

Lastly, I’ve experienced something very strange that scares me, sometimes I start laughing hysterically almost as if possessed! Now, my desperate question is; does this come from God or I’m being harassed by demons? God is my everything and I think of Him most of the time. I really need your advice! I can’t share this with people in church because I don’t think they will understand…

While demons like to flaunt their power over someone’s earthsuits by forcing the body to engage in spastic things like convulsing and hysterical laughter, there’s no need to leap to the conclusion that you’re personally dealing with demonic harassment.  Like tears, laughter is a natural way that our bodies relieve stress.  Since you are currently in a state of intense emotional stress, it’s not surprising that you are having fits of hysterical laughter.  Your body has to bleed off the stress somehow.  Going around in a constant state of rage is extremely taxing to your earthsuit, and different earthsuits use different stress relieving tactics.  While things like tears and laughter are available to all earthsuits, some people prefer to hit things, yell, or workout before they will resort to crying and laughing.  In your case, your body probably considers intense laughter to be a readily accessible stress reliever, so it is using it to cope with this period of dramatically increased stress.

By itself, laughter is not evidence of demonic activity.  But when laughter becomes very intense, difficult to stop, and randomly occurring, it’s a strong indicator that your internal stress levels are peaking to some very high levels.  It is not at all unusual for people who are very psychologically stressed to find themselves suddenly bursting into fits of uncontrollable crying, screaming, or laughing.  In your case, you’re not laughing because you find something humorous; you’re laughing to relieve stress.  People laugh for many reasons: to vent nervousness, embarrassment, grief, frustration, and even anger.  Focusing on submission (as we described earlier) can be a useful way to lower your internal stress levels, at which point the spontaneous laughter should become less frequent.

287. “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” says Jesus. “The commandments” pointing to their Godly ten commandments??? which Jesus also wrote and kept to show us how to fulfill our love for (for His allegedly) Father God? On the question of submission, should the law of our Gods apply in this submission thing? That counts for obedience, so is keeping the Sabbath as it is not Jewish. Its found in Genesis before Jews and Isaiah 66 way after Jews and the modern world as we know it.

There’s some confusion here which we need to clarify.

First, realize that the versions of Judaism and Christianity which are popular today differ quite a bit from the “pure” forms of these things.  The longer any religion exists, the more corrupted it becomes by political agendas and power trips.

Second, realize that a lot of human history occurred before the official start of Judaism.

The formal religion of Judaism was created by Yahweh, and He first introduced it to people in the days of Moses.  Thousands of years of human history happened before the lifetime of Moses, and before Moses, no one had ever heard of Judaism.

Now Moses wrote the first five books of the Christian Old Testament (which the Jews call the Torah). If we arrange the books in chronological order, we end up with the following:

  • GENESIS discusses events which occurred centuries to thousands of years before Moses’ lifetime.  So Moses was not an eyewitness to any of those events–instead, he likely got his material from oral tradition, other written records, and Yahweh’s direct revelations.
  • EXODUS, LEVITICUS & NUMBERS describe events of Moses’ life in a pretty good chronological order.  The very beginning of Exodus contains accounts which Moses did not personally witness–since he wasn’t even born yet–but after that, Moses is essentially recounting his own personal life story, and he records many specific messages from Yahweh which he received.
  • DEUTERONOMY is mostly a long speech by Moses in which he summarizes the events of the previous three books.

Now once you understand that Judaism began in Moses’ lifetime, you can understand that no one in Genesis practiced Judaism, because they’d never heard of it.

The Ten Commandments are first introduced in Exodus 20.  They are joined by hundreds of other laws that describe how Judaism is supposed to work.  The Sabbath laws (which include the celebration of a Sabbath day and a Sabbath year) are introduced in Moses’ life.  The practice of keeping the Sabbath day (not year) is one of the famous Ten Commandments.  No one in Genesis observed a Sabbath.

Now you’re probably confused about the Sabbath day because when Yahweh first introduces the Sabbath day law, He refers back to events in Genesis (specifically, how He rested on the 7th day of Creation).  But referring back to events in Genesis is not the same as God commanding the people who lived in the time of Genesis to obey that law.  No Sabbath law was introduced or practiced before Moses’ time.

Now when Jesus told His disciples to keep His commandments, He was not referring to the Ten Commandments.  Realize that Yahweh never gave anyone permission to treat the Ten Commandments like they were the only commands that mattered.  This is what Christians do today, but we are totally wrong in picking and choosing like this.  The Ten Commandments don’t even address the sacrificial system, which was a huge element of Judaism.  So to just talk about the Ten is absurd.  You can’t splice and dice Judaism like that.  You’re either all in or you’re just playing games.

Now in the Gospel books, Jesus was interacting with folks who were practicing a warped version of Yahweh’s original Judaism.  As a group, the Jews never did a good job of obeying Yahweh’s commands, because they didn’t really care about pleasing Him.  So the version of Judaism that was being practiced in NT times was much like the popularized version of Christianity today: it was mainly a tool for manipulating people.

Now many Christians are familiar with the Gospel story in which a man who is practicing the NT version of Judaism comes up to Jesus and asks Him what the greatest commandment is.  What the man was asking was what the greatest Old Covenant command was.  In other words, he was asking: “What is the most important command Yahweh ever gave in Jewish Scriptures?”  It’s important to realize what the man was really asking if you’re going to properly interpret Jesus’ answer.

Now the man asked for the single most important command, and Jesus answered and said it was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”  This was not one of the Ten Commandments.  Jesus then went on to give more than the man asked for–the man just wanted to know the most important command.  Jesus went on to give him the second most important command as well: to love others humans as we love ourselves.  That second command was also not one of the Ten Commandments.  But Jesus went on to say that those two, simple commands summarize the main principles of everything Yahweh teaches throughout the entire Old Testament.

The Old Testament is filled with messages from Yahweh.  Yahweh spends a lot of time instructing people on how to they ought to treat each other, as well as Him.  Jesus’ two famous “summary” commands help us see the core principles that are being taught by the hundreds of commands we find in the OT.

Now because Jesus was summarizing the commands of Judaism, and not Christianity, when He says the greatest command is to love “the Lord your God,” He is referring only to Yahweh.  Yahweh was the only God being worshiped under Judaism, and according to the laws of Judaism, it is a terrible sin to acknowledge any God other than Yahweh.  But according to Christianity, we are supposed to be worshiping Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as three equal Gods.  This is why it’s so absurd for Christians to cling to the Ten Commandments, because the first commandment (“You shall have no other gods besides Me”) condemns the whole idea of worshiping Jesus as Yahweh’s Divine Equal (which He is).

So then, you can’t just carry the Ten Commandments into Christianity, because they do not all apply.  Since all of the OT and NT writers were practicing Judaism and not Christianity, you need to be asking God for wisdom before you decide that their commands and instructions apply to you today as a Christian.  Much of what the NT writers teach is incorrect theology for a Christian–and we give many examples of this in our studies on James, Hebrews, Romans, 1 John, and Titus.  The NT writers aren’t just a little off in their teaching, they are way off.  Peter’s sermons in Acts are peppered with wrong beliefs about Christ and major misapplications of NT passages.  The Gospel writers demonstrate a lot of confusion about who Christ is and they also insert a lot of wrong assumptions in their accounts.  So you need to be cautious.

Now you mention that Isaiah happened “way after Jews.”  This is not true.  Isaiah was an ethnic Jew who practiced Judaism, which is why Yahweh was the only God he worshiped.  Isaiah was a sincere Yahweh follower whose visions and messages from Yahweh align with Old Covenant theology.

Here’s a way to think about it: pull up a list of all of the OT books in the Christian Bible.  Cross off Genesis and Job.  The rest of the books are describing history during which Judaism was an active religion.  Now go to the NT.  Realize that all of the authors of the NT books –from the Gospels to Revelation–grew up personally practicing Judaism.  From Acts to Revelation what you find are Jews trying to find a way to fit Christ into Judaism–and of course this can’t be done, because recognizing Christ as God violates Yahweh’s command to “Have no other Gods besides Me.”  So in Acts and in the epistles, you find Jews spinning out some pretty delusional teaching as they try to hang onto Judaism while also embracing a Man who claimed to be Yahweh’s Equal.

On some very essential issues, Judaism and Christianity totally clash, which is why you really can’t straddle both camps.  If you accept Jesus as God, you’re no longer practicing true Judaism. If you refuse to submit to Yahweh and  Jesus and the Holy Spirit as three Divine Beings with equal abilities, then you’re not practicing true Christianity.  As for the Sabbath laws of Judaism: those do not apply to Christians.  The Sabbath is irrelevant for Christians, as are the sacrificial laws (which include tithing), the dietary laws, and many other laws.  Today what we have is Christian leaders choosing to preserve certain laws which they feel are beneficial and lucrative (such as tithing and telling everyone to go to church on Sunday), while they discard laws which they find inconvenient (like animal sacrifices).  Well, no, it doesn’t work like this.  If the sacrificial system has been discarded by God (which it has), then tithing, priesthoods, and the whole concept of having to come to special buildings to worship God also have to go.  These things are interlinked concepts–you can’t just keep tithing because it lines your pockets while you chuck the rest.  So, as we said before, you need to ask God for wisdom when you’re wondering which biblical commands still apply to you today.

282. Is it possible to obey God’s convictions without being aware of it?

Yes, and people do this all the time.  It comes down to a basic issue of misunderstanding where the desire to do something comes from.  When people talk about obeying their consciences or trying to do the right thing or trying to be “good people,”  they’re often crediting themselves for convictions which are actually coming from God.  A classic example is apologizing to someone after  you treated them badly.  Such impulses don’t come from you.  Humans are selfish by nature, and we have no desire to admit fault or own up to our mistakes.  It is God who motivates us to admit when we’ve been jerks and apologize.  When people talk about their consciences bothering them, they’re often reacting to God’s convictions.

Now things get complicated quickly–even with the subject of apologizing.  Apologizing can be used as a manipulation tactic or it can be a form of dysfunctional groveling.  Also, demons are very good at convincing people they are doing bad things even when they are not (see Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests).

Before you can accurately assess whether God is convicting you or not, you need to take the time to really think about why you are doing what you’re doing.  Humans are very responsive creatures, and much of what they do is motivated by fears, false beliefs, needs, and a desire to protect themselves.  In your own life, God and demons are frequently interacting with you–giving you instructions and suggestions as to what you should do when.  You are constantly responding to this third party input, but you tend to mislabel much of what other beings are saying to you as your own thoughts and ideas.  So while you might feel like you’re making your own decisions in life, in reality, much of what you’re doing is a direct response to what God and/or demons are saying to you.  To learn more about this concept, see Voices in Your Mind: Discerning Between God & Demons.

To learn more about God’s convictions, see:
Conviction Q&A
Understanding Conviction: Invitations to Engage

281. Is it sensible to fear that you can rebel against God in Heaven? After all we will continue to have the ability to choose when we enter eternity. If we still want to please Him in Heaven but we “mess up” or rebel will He be swift/harsh in punishment?

When it comes to what eternity will be like, here’s what you can know for sure:

  • God is intentionally keeping humans in the dark about the details of what eternity will be like.
  • Everything we read about “the other side” in the Bible is metaphorical, not literal (see Your New Name in Heaven). This means that you shouldn’t expect Heaven to be anything like the Heaven that is described in the Bible.  Instead, you should expect it to be radically different than life in this physical world.
  • We are currently living in a world (and universe) which God created.  God’s creative style gives us useful insights into His personal preferences and priorities.  Complexity, variation, and some degree of choice are all concepts which God has expressed a very high value of in this world.  You should expect those same priorities to be major themes in whatever kind of world Heaven turns out to be.
  • God is an extremely gracious Being who is very easy to succeed with.  There is no reason to fear that He will cease to be this way in Heaven.
  • God’s wrath is one of His core characteristics.  To expect His wrath to be non-existent in Heaven is unrealistic.

Wherever God is, His entire fascinating conglomeration of intense characteristics also exists.  So should we expect God to be some kind of boundaryless Santa Claus in Heaven?  No, we should not.  The God who will be reigning over us there is going to be the same Self-exalting, opinionated, gentle, wild, gracious, good, boundary drawing, jealous Being who is reigning over us here.  Heaven is not going to be heavenly because God is going to omit certain characteristics from His Divine Personality.  The whole allure of Heaven is that we will be able to relate to our complex Creator in new ways.  It is proximity to God which satisfies the human soul–and that proximity can come in countless forms.  The things which will matter most in Heaven are the same things which matter most today: pleasing God, getting to know Him better, and continuously maturing as His creature.  So you don’t need to worry about what Heaven will be like.  Instead, focus on making wise soul choices today.  It is by honoring God in the present that we end up experiencing great joy with Him in our futures.

Recommended: Better than Heaven: Pursuing What Really Matters

274. If we have an attitude of total surrender, does it mean that God will ensure we will never rebel against Him?

From your human perspective, the answer is “no.”  Christians think of spiritual rebellion as having a negative attitude towards God.  As a surrendered Christian, you are guaranteed to have many hissyfits, bratfests, and angry sulks ahead.  God has no interest in turning you into a nodding automaton who is devoid of any countering opinions.  God can be extremely difficult to deal with and immensely frustrating from the human perspective.  We humans don’t handle such frustration well.  Getting close to God is a bumpy ride and it involves you and God doing a whole lot of wrestling.  So don’t think of surrender as a guarantee of peaceful times from now on.  Think of it as a guarantee that you’ll end up in a fabulous place with God–and all of the stressing you do between now and then is going to play a critical role in making your relationship with Him so rich and joyous.

269. What happened to your article titled “God’s View of Addicts”?

That article has been removed.  While it made the point that addictions are fabulous tools for spiritual growth, it did not delve into many of the critical spiritual principles that addicts need to understand.

For addicts, a correct understanding of Divine judgement is vital, as is an understanding that God does not empower humans to live sinless lives.  Many addicts languish under the false belief that God is disgusted with them simply because they cannot overcome their earthsuit addictions. They wrongly assume that God expects them to come up with self-control all on their own.

Because many addictions are attempts to compensate for and/or hide out from other psychological stresses, it doesn’t work to lump all addicts into the same kind of therapy group.  Some need help with identifying and working on the underlying psychological stresses/traumas that they are trying to use their addictions to cover for.  In cases where God is prodding people to start facing their core fears, simply talking about addiction management isn’t good enough, because often the issue that is driving the addiction is quite different than the addiction itself.  For example, Tom drinks to try and numb out from the pain of his immense guilt over killing his son in a motor accident.  In this case, to simply talk to Tom about alcoholism isn’t sufficient–he really needs help with his false beliefs about Divine judgment which are keeping him stuck in shame and self-loathing.

So then, root causes are a critical issue, and identifying them begins with the question, “What problem am I trying to solve through this addiction?”  One reason to watch porn is a fear of being physically and emotionally intimate with a real person.  For a man who is doing porn for this reason, those deeper fears need to be identified. But another very common and far less addressed issue for porn addictions is the compensation of childhood traumas involving the sex organs.  Clearly these two issues are quite different and need different kinds of help.  So we can’t just lump all addicts into a “one size fits all” category, nor should we view all addictions as an attempt to compensate for a massive, unaddressed trauma, because…

In some cases, an addiction springs up without any association with psychological issues.  In these situations, the presence of the addiction is the thing which causes so much stress, and it is focusing on spiritual principles that will  be most helpful.  For all addicts, the vital question is, “What positive lessons does God want to teach me through this struggle and how can I be a very receptive learner?” When we just stereotype addictions as evil and make it our mission to rid them from our lives, we always end up in a mess. Not only do we refuse to learn the many valuable lessons that God wants to teach us (lessons which have nothing to do with Him being  mad at us) but we usually fail to get free of the addiction, because God blocks us.  Addictions don’t just happen to us at random.  All trials are brought into our lives by our purposeful Creator, and until we’re asking Him to help us benefit from those trials, we’re not going to gain the growth He wants to give us.

In response to your inquiry, we’ve expanded our Psychological Help–>Addicts category and divided it into two sections.  Articles in the Spiritual Help for Addicts category discuss critical spiritual principles which all addicts need to understand.  The category Types of Addictions includes articles which help certain kinds of addicts identify underlying psychological stresses that they might be using their addiction to compensate for.  People vary in how they define an “addiction.”  We cover things like homosexuality, transsexualism, pedophilia and child molestation as well, but they are in different categories.

262. I am facing a very difficult situation, and I am inclined to cast lots to determine what God’s will is for me. However, I do not want to irritate or offend God by misusing the lots, so here is my question: Because my situation is so difficult, something is telling me to cast lots for two rounds.

This is the first issue that you need to give more thought to: why does “difficult” have to lead to lot casting?  What’s magical about lots?  Nothing.  It’s your soul attitude that God cares about, and once we start using the physical props and clinging to rituals, our soul attitudes often start drifting.  It’s critical to realize that God intentionally pins you into difficult binds in order to increase your awareness of how dependent you are on Him. He is also showing you the limits of your trust in Him and challenging you to stretch that trust so that it can grow stronger.  Casting lots does not help you achieve these two goals. For starters, it’s a doubt driven ritual. If you already trusted that God was leading your steps, you wouldn’t be tossing coins in an anxious attempt to make sure God wasn’t just going to sit back anddo nothing while you turned down a wrong road.

Trust in God’s gracious Character and in His willingness to help you stay on course are major issues which affect your whole relationship with Him.  Casting lots is a way of trying to get visual confirmation of what God wants you to do–it’s rather like pressing Him to pass you written instructions instead of being content to let Him be the only One who knows where He’s planning to lead you next.  You really need to stop with the lots.  As we warn in All About Fleeces: Asking God for a Sign, the more you cast lots, the more you’ll feel dependent on them, and the weaker your faith will grow.

In my first round of casting lots, I will first ask God “are You willing to communicate through the lots this time?” and I will toss the coin.

Single coin systems are problematic because they don’t leave any option for an answer of “silence.”  If you just have one coin, you are forcing an answer of “yes” or “no” each time.  If you use two coins, then “no answer” becomes a possible response when the toss results in one heads and one tail.

Without using two coins, it’s very easy to mistake God blocking you with a clear answer.  For example, what if God does not want to do lots with you at all? If you flip one coin, this will not be clear to you, because by always getting a “yes” or “no” answer, it will appear as though God is engaging in your game, when He’s really just flipping the coin about randomly.  If you have two coins, then His lack of engagement will become clear immediately when God refuses to meet the criteria for either a “yes” or “no” answer.

If the coin says “yes”, then I will proceed and ask God “Are you going to manipulate the outcome of the lots which I will cast after this round?”. If the coin again gives me the answer of “yes”, I will proceed and I am going to cast coins for the second round. In the second round of casting lots, I will first ask God “Are you willing to communicate with me through the lot?” if the coin says “yes”, then I will proceed and ask God the main question that I am facing in my life right now. Would this be overusing of the coin method?

Yes, you are overusing it.  You’re getting too into this whole casting lots system.  Like Gideon, you’re turning one fleece into multiple fleeces.  Think about it: what causes you to need so many rounds of signs to verify that God is really, truly causing your lots to turn a certain way?  Doubt.  The more you do this, the less faith you will have that God is involved in your life.  This is a critical principle of faith development: too many signs actually work against you, which is why God will refuse to keep giving them to you at some point.  If you refuse to listen, He’ll set you up to get majorly burned by lots, and He’ll do that by intentionally giving you instructions which will pitch you into a greater mess when you try to follow them.

If I am to cast lots to determine God’s will, should I just cast lots for one round only, that is, toss the two coins once to determine whether God is willing to speak to me through the coin method, and if the answer is “yes”, then proceed and toss the two coins for the second time with my main issue on my mind?  If you are certain that I will be overusing the coin method and irritate God by doing two rounds, please let me know so that I can restrict my casting of lots to one round only.

One round is still too many for someone in your place.  The fact that you’ve created such an elaborate system demonstrates how real your erosion of faith has become.  Often people in your position have become so addicted to signs that they will refuse to stop playing games until God burns them.  But in case you’re an exception to this rule, we explain a better, faith-based way to handle difficult decisions in this post: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Finding Peace in the Midst of Moral Dilemmas.

254. So I understand that God will eventually show you your errors in your theology about Him. He has recently done this with me and it is very difficult for me to grow out of. Growing up in the Pentecostal church and much of its teaching has been on the prosperity gospel. Growing up I have always thought that God rewards us for our devotion of Him, but as I have matured He has given me examples from the bible that refute my beliefs. The devoted prophets being homeless living on extreme bare resources, Moses having to grind through the wilderness, Jesus Himself being homeless and always on the move from place to place, Jeremiah & Isaiah being ridiculed, mocked, beaten, Job clinging to God in the mist of his circumstances etc. As you always state in your material God arranges for His best guys to get kicked in the head. And clearly these men proved that they were for God for more than just the perks. They knew that He never promised the blessings, so what was it that made them cling to Him even though He was the one was controlling their life circumstances. I’ve tried to serve God just for how much He could bless me but I know it’s wrong now I should not expect rewards for submission from Him. The place I’m now stuck is getting out of that type of mind frame. How do I do that?

Great insights!  It’s fabulous that you’re being receptive to God showing you these things.  And the goal that He’s pushing you towards is a bit different than you’re anticipating.

What God is showing you is that you’ve been living for the wrong rewards–that’s a different thing than saying living for rewards is bad.  Living for rewards is actually what God wants you to be doing–and it’s what all the guys you mentioned were doing.  The big difference was the kinds of rewards they were choosing.

God intentionally created humans to be selfish, self-serving creatures.  This means that everything we do–even in our relationship with God–is driven by a self-serving motivation.  After hearing pride condemned at church all the time, Christians leap to the very wrong assumption that God does not want them to be self-serving.  God actually does want us to be self-serving–so much so that He’s made it impossible for us to be otherwise.

Now when you’re self-serving, you want to please yourself by going after the things that you want.  When it comes to choosing between two things that you don’t want–such as roasting in Hell and submitting to God–you’ll choose the thing that you find least unpleasant (submitting to God).  The point is that we all come to God for self-serving reasons–not because we’re overflowing with some glorious love for Him.  We submit to Him because we don’t want to fry: it’s that basic.

Now as we continue forward with God, and the Church tells us that we can manipulate Him into blessing us, well of course we’re going to try that.  This is what you did: you were told by the prosperity folks that God could be conned into blessing you circumstantially.  Every human on the planet wants their circumstances to go well, so it’s not like you were some worm to want a sweet life.  We all want sweet lives on earth–it’s a very strong desire that God has programmed into us.  We live, work, and sacrifice for rewards–we’re rewards focused creatures, and once again this is a mindset that God programs into us.

Now as you’re progressing along with God, focused on having a sweet life, you don’t see anything wrong with what you’re doing.  All your human leaders are telling you that you’re on the right path, and since you like the path you’re on–because it is one that affirms the goals you care about–why would you change?  You won’t until God speaks up and starts educating you.  God isn’t going to educate you unless He’s interested in you moving closer to Him.  So the very fact that God is teaching you is a fabulous thing in itself, because it demonstrates how He is personally inviting you closer to Him.

So what is God going to teach you?  Is He going to scold you for going after the wrong rewards?  No, He’s going to first show you that there is a whole new set of rewards that you’ve never contemplated pursuing.  You see, God does not want you to stop chasing rewards–what He wants is to change which rewards you’re going after.  Right now you’re putting nice earthly circumstances at the top of your list.  God wants to rearrange that list so that pleasing Him becomes your top priority.  God does not want you to stop being self-serving, because it’s your selfish nature which motivates you to so earnestly pursue the things you want most in life.  Once God improves your priorities and gets pleasing Him to be your top goal, then you’re selfish determination to get what you want becomes a fabulous thing.

Did the OT prophets enjoy being poor?  Of course not.  They were humans, just like you.  What you’re seeing in them is not a lack of selfishness–it’s a different set of priorities.  They’re being just as selfish as you, but they’ve got their sites set on different goals, and because those goals are so important to them, they’re willing to endure crummy circumstances to attain them.

So how do you get your priority list adjusted so that pleasing God is first?  This is something God has to do for you.  You can’t just flip a switch to make God’s preferences seem most important to you.  The best you can do at this point is to understand what the goal is: a change of priorities, not a change of your basic selfish nature.  Then you can align with God by praying something like this:

“God, I hear You teaching me and I want to embrace everything You’re saying.  Please fix my personal priorities so that I want the things that You want me to want.  I want You to choose my preferences, goals, and dreams.  I want pleasing You to be so important to me that I’ll do anything to attain that goal.  I can’t get there on my own, but I know that You can do anything.  I know that You’re inviting me to closer to You, and I want to come as close as You’ll let me.”

This kind of response is what God wants from you at this point: by asking Him to fix your priorities to please Himself, you’re practicing surrender and fully embracing His invitation.

Recommended articles:
Why God Wants You to Stay Selfish
The Gift of Ego

253. Can you explain what is going on at SCOAN? It’s on Emmanuel TV. There are lots of deliverance type stuff going on there and it is rather confusing to me. Is it all deception? Are those really demons talking? Saying they come from the ocean? Are they playing games? Are they really being cast out? It all seems very flat and absent of the power of God.

You should really scratch Emmanuel TV off of your list of channels to watch.  It’s a program put out by SCOAN–a prosperity church in Nigeria which is led by “prophet” TB Joshua.  Joshua gives the world a fine example of what false prophets are all about.  The man shamelessly manipulates people by having an endless stream of shills stand up and give phony testimonies about some amazing miracle that happened in their lives once they started using one of the magic talismans which Joshua provides.  The man manufactures his own trinkets for the masses to use to manipulate the flow of God’s power.  Nothing fancy–mostly large stickers for them to stick on walls and boxed water which he declares to be the actual Blood of Christ.  Each year he chooses a magical phrase for everyone to cast over their problems in life.  He’s got such a solid racket going on that he can turn any phrase into a potent spiritual spell without the people resisting him.  In 2015, “good morning” were the year’s “anointed” words, and this resulted in a whole line of “good morning” products which Joshua either sold or passed out for free.  He can afford to be generous with the stickers and boxed water because his real racket comes in convincing people to sacrificially give to his church in hopes that they’ll get a shot have having their own “rags to riches” story.

As is so often the case for prosperity preachers, Joshua is rolling in wealth while he basks in the worship of a huge local fan base who blindly accept anything he says.  To learn more about the caliber of the SCOAN scam, see TB Joshua & the SCOAN: Getting Rich on Holy Water.

Now when you’re trying to pull spiritual rank on people, flaunting your ability to command demons is a great strategy.  Whenever you see someone filming an exorcism, you should automatically assume it is false.  Demonic possession is a very serious issue, and it’s hardly appropriate to shove a camera in the face of someone who is suffering in that way.  Any exorcist who has his spiritual priorities in the right place would  not even consider performing on tape because he’d be too afraid of what God would do to him if he tried to take any of the glory for casting demons out.  Also, the way demons are portrayed in these showdowns is utterly fake.  They act much too submissive and responsive towards the exorcist–they seem to be afraid of the human, when in reality demons are not afraid of any human.  Oh sure, you have the usual guttural growls and phony seizures–but notice how the exorcist himself never gets attacked or overwhelmed or severely injured.  These things are scripted shows that are planned out and rehearsed ahead of time in order to glorify the exorcist and make him appear to have mastery over the spiritual realms.  In real life, the exorcist isn’t the master of anyone, demons don’t give a hoot about what commands the man is giving them, and physical props don’t do bumpkus to make demons depart from their human hosts.

When the “demons” talk through people in these things, what they say ends up being a very convenient plug for the exorcist himself.  In the case of prosperity preachers like Joshua and the folks over at UCKG (a worldwide prosperity group based out of Brazil), they often like to converse with demons long enough to prove the point that whoever is possessed became so by not following the teaching that the prosperity preacher puts out.  For example, maybe the preacher is trying to guilt everyone into regular church attendance, so he’ll have his phony possessed person use some deep voice and pretend that the demon is talking through her while she explains how she got possessed once she slacked off with her church attendance.  These are just cheap scare tactics–ways that shady shepherds try to say, “Do everything I tell you or you’ll end up as miserable as this person.”  It’s very effective among those who do not think for themselves and do not ask God for wisdom.

As for the association of demons with the ocean–realize that many fakers like to borrow themes from the Bible in order to sound more legit.  In the book of Revelation you’ll find many evil beasts slinking out of the sea.  This was because the NT Jews viewed the sea as evil, and they also thought that the door to the underworld was located on the ocean floor.  Imagine if you thought the door to Hell was located on the ocean floor–wouldn’t that creep you out about being on the water?  Wouldn’t you imagine demons flitting in and out of those gates, thus filling the water with the presence of evil spirits?  This is how it was for the NT Jews–there was a lot of fear and superstition associated with the ocean.  Was the fear founded in fact?  No, it was just silly nonsense.

To learn how exorcism actually works see, Demons in the End Times: Understanding Possession & Exorcism.

Also see Deliverance Ministries: Scamming You in the Name of Jesus.

250. I have been studying the Nazirite laws in Numbers 6 and the article you’ve written regarding the topic and also about Samson. The main take away is that these are people that are dedicated to Yahweh in a way and they show this by not drinking wine and not cutting their hair. If God is bringing this up, I think it must be important. But I’m not sure how to apply it? If it’s about devotion, I’ve already decided to devote myself to Them. Is there something else I’m missing? Is the idea behind the Nazirite more about the relationship between the person and God and not what they are suppose to give up? Is it both?

First, let’s clarify some things.

The original purpose of the Nazirite laws was to give people a way to publicly demonstrate their personal devotion to Yahweh for a temporary period of time.  Being a Nazirite was a voluntary, personal choice.  It was essentially a public act of worship.  Yahweh invented these laws in the context of Him singling out a special group–male Jews who were descendants of Jacob’s son Levi–to serve as His priests.  Because so few Jews qualified to be Levite priests, it was easy for everyone else to feel excluded from Yahweh’s “inner circle.”  The Nazirite laws countered this feeling of exclusion by offering any Yahweh follower (male or female, Jew or non-Jew) a chance to be “holy to Yahweh during the time of consecration” (Num. 6:8).

Now in the case of Samson, there was no choice.  Yahweh commanded Samson to be a lifelong Nazirite before Samson was even born.  So Samson did not choose this, nor did he have any desire to worship Yahweh in this way.  Instead, the whole restrictive Nazirite package was forced on him from birth, and he clearly resented it, which is why he took every opportunity to violate the laws.  As we explain in our post about Samson, he not only personally scorned Yahweh’s commands to him, but he also tricked his parents into violating Yahweh’s laws by conning them into eating unclean things (like the honey from the carcass).  Of course Yahweh would not blame the parents for trying to defy Him when they were tricked like this, but the fact that Samson would do such a thing says a lot about his character and his hateful attitude towards both God and his parents.

Samson was a horrendous spiritual role model.  He was a defiant rebel who never showed any signs of repentance.  So Samson really has nothing to do with the original purpose of the Nazirite laws.  Instead, he was an exception to those laws in that Yahweh forced the Nazirite rules onto Samson, thus giving Samson one more way to spit in God’s face.

So what’s the application for you in all of this?  Well, the Nazirite laws were part of the Old Covenant sacrificial system (notice how the Nazirite ends up back at the Tabernacle at the end of his vow period).  Anytime you find  laws in the Bible which are associated with the Tabernacle, Temple, or sacrificial system, you should think, “This no longer applies to me as a Christian, because I’m living under the New Covenant.”

The key lesson you can learn from the Nazirite laws has to do with God’s Character–especially with regards to how inclusive He is.  Today many Christians think that (1) the sacrificial system was only about atoning for sins, and (2) Yahweh greatly favored men over women, inviting only men to engage with Him in special ways.  The Nazirite laws demonstrate how untrue these two theories are.  The Nazirite laws had nothing to do with the atonement of sin–instead they were an act of worship.  This was also the case with many kinds of sacrifices that Yahweh ordered the Jews to participate in–only some sacrifices had to do with atoning for sins, but plenty of others were just about praise and worship (for more about this, see Know Your Bible Lesson 6: The Sacrificial System).

As far as Yahweh favoring men over women, the Nazirite laws were one of many ways that Yahweh invited women to engage with Him in special ways.  Another fine example is how Yahweh has always chosen both men and women to serve as His prophets–something we often lose sight of when we fixate on how only men could serve as Yahweh’s priests.  And yet once you understand how strenuous priest work was, you stop viewing it as a negative that women weren’t invited to serve in that way (for more about this, see Who should be the spiritual leader in a Christian home?).

You’re already picking up on the soul attitude that was supposed to motivate a Nazirite vow: devotion to God. It’s always the soul attitudes that God cares about–not a particular behavior.  Since you know that you are personally devoted to God, you’re already where He wants you to be.  And with the sacrificial system being thrown out by both Christ and Yahweh, you no longer need to be trying to imitate Nazirite rituals in any way.  They were appropriate in their day, and in their specific cultural context, but that day has passed.

Recommended Articles:
Law vs. Principle Charts: Atonement Sacrifices
Yahweh Talks Ethnicity: Jews & Non-Jews Are Equal Before God
Learning from Yahweh: What It Means To Be Holy

249. Hi, please help me…clarify this. There are views in the Bible that suggest a Triune God… like Jesus saying He and His Father are one and God saying… and “let us make man in our image.” I also know there are views in the Bible that suggest three separate Gods, then there’s the First commandment: “I am God, you shall have no other Gods before Me.” I haven’t really gotten a clear answer from God on this, but I also probably haven’t advanced far enough in my relationship to fully discern. My husband’s grandma, who is Catholic, said God told her He was three in one. Please help me, I’m so confused.

Yes, it’s very confusing!  The Church’s way of interpreting the Bible is a complete mess, and that means you end up with lies being shoved on you which you can tell aren’t right, yet you get punished for asking questions.  The confusion can be cleared up, but it will require that you unlearn a lot of bad teaching.

Let’s start at the beginning.  The Trinity doctrine (“God is three in one”) is considered to be one of the core teachings of religious Christianity.  This teaching is fiercely defended by most Christian denominations, and if you try to say it’s wrong, you’ll get all kinds of flack (plus you’ll be told you’re a satanic heretic, etc., etc.).  We say this because it’s important for you to realize how controversial our teaching about separate Gods is.  If you try and get other Christians to agree with you on this, you’ll just get blasted with negativity.  This is a very explosive issue for Christians, so you need to be content with learning the truth yourself without having to have others agree with you (because they won’t).

Now then, why is everyone making such a huge issue out of the Trinity doctrine?  Why do other Christians get their claws out if you dare to say that our three glorious Creators are not one mysterious blob?  Well, whenever you see people getting this uptight about a doctrine, it’s because that doctrine is linked to other doctrines which they need to be true.  You see, individual Christian beliefs are like bricks in a wall: they build on each other.  So once you say “God is three in one”, you are implying other things about God as well.  In the case of the Trinity doctrine, you’re dealing with a theory which Christians are using to shield themselves from facing other truths about God which greatly threaten them.  The main “problem” that the Trinity doctrine seems to solve is us having to face the reality that sometimes God intentionally misleads humans about truth.  In other words, God lies (and that’s another debate that you really don’t want to get into with Christians unless you enjoy getting insulted).

Now before we explain how the Trinity theory is linked to God lying, and what’s going on with the verses you mentioned, let’s talk about your Catholic relative.  The Catholic denomination claims to be the only “right” version of religious Christianity.  If your relative is a serious Catholic, then she believes she will lose her salvation if she is disowned (excommunicated) by the Church.  So, you see, she cannot afford to question anything the Church says, and the Church says God is Triune.

Today many Christians depend on their church connections to give them social and emotional support.  So when you come around asking your honest questions in their presence, you threaten them.  They don’t want to do the honest pondering that you’re doing–instead, they want you to go away and let them carry on as usual.  So first, they will try to shut you down by declaring you to be wrong.  If that doesn’t work, they’ll get more aggressive.  The point is this: you are absolutely right to ask the questions you’re asking, but most Christians are going to try and shut you down if you start questioning core beliefs, because by voicing your questions, you make them feel threatened about their own beliefs.

Once we really know the truth, we stop feeling threatened by other people asking questions.  But you can’t get confident about what the truth is without doing a whole lot of questioning.  The Church makes Christians feel bad and guilty for questioning, so they don’t.  They try to hide their doubts, but those doubts are still there, and they make people feel very insecure with God.  When someone like you comes along who is trying to really figure things out, your questions make people very uncomfortable, because you’re making them realize how insecure they are in their own beliefs.  Instead of facing their doubts, people get mad at you for making them uncomfortable, and you end up getting attacked instead of helped.  So it’s a mess–but you mustn’t let other people’s insecurities get in your way.  If you want to know the truth, you need to question everything and put all of your hope in God’s willingness to teach you.  God wants honesty from you, and He wants you to question.  If you don’t question, He’ll start provoking you into it.  Questioning is vital.  You can’t get anywhere without wrestling through your doubts (and every Christian starts off with a ton of doubts).

So now let’s talk about the Triune theory and the Bible.  The Bible does not support the Trinity doctrine, but Christians tell you that it does.  Why is this?  Well, it comes down to a case of mental filters.

Every human views reality through a filter of their own personal biases, fears, and beliefs.  We don’t do this on purpose, it’s automatic.  Because Jane already believes she is ugly, when Joe compliments her on her dress, Jane imagines that he is being insincere.  She projects insincerity into his tone because she is filtering what Joe says to match what she expects Joe to say.

Christians do this all the time with the Bible.  For example, there is a very common belief that God loves women less than men.  When you have already accepted this belief before you open the Bible, then when you start reading, you will mentally filter out all of the verses where God seems to be acting mean towards women.  Those passages will seem to leap out at you, while you’ll gloss over all of the passages where God is very nice to women.  Another very common example here is guilt: when humans feel guilty, it has a major impact on how they read Scripture.  For example, Jack feels bad about being gay.  So when he is reading the New Testament, he is mentally filtering for verses that make it sound like God hates sexual perverts.  These verses leap out at him, and they make him feel terrible.  When he puts the Bible down, he feels like the whole book is one big message about how much God hates gays.  Is it?  Not at all, but this is what mental filtering does.

Today the Church hammers into you that God is three in one (Triune).  She gets you to accept this before you start reading the Bible.  Once you accept this belief, you automatically start searching for passages in which Jesus sounds like He’s saying that He is the same Being as Yahweh.  When you read Him saying, “I and the Father are one,” you think, “Aha!  Jesus is claiming to be a Triune God!” But is He?  No.

Suppose your friend Marsha says to you: “Jen and I had a great time out on the lake yesterday.  We rowed as one.”  Would you think Marsha was saying that she and Jen were a single being?  No, you’d understand that when she said she was “one” with Jen, she meant that she and Jen had smooth rhythm in their rowing efforts.  Or suppose Emily says to you, “Bill and I are one when it comes to politics.”  What does she mean?  Is she saying she’s just an alter ego of Bill?  No, she means that she and Bill have the same political views.

It is totally ludicrous to suggest that Jesus claimed to be Yahweh in another form.  In the Gospel books, Jesus constantly distinguishes between Himself and Yahweh.  For starters, He refers to Yahweh as His Father, not His Twin.  He describes Himself as serving Yahweh, receiving things from Yahweh, taking orders from Yahweh, and during His famous “Not My will, but Yours be done” prayer at Gethsemane, Jesus portrays His own will as opposing Yahweh’s.  In Revelation, Jesus and Yahweh portray Themselves to John as two separate Beings who take turns receiving worship from angels and humans.  Jesus describes Himself as sitting beside Yahweh in Heaven–not as merging into Yahweh.  The whole shock of Jesus to the Jews is that He was claiming to be equal to Yahweh as a second God, not that He was claiming to be Yahweh.  But when you read through the Gospel accounts already believing that God is Triune, you will automatically try to force Jesus’ words to support what you’ve already decided to be true.  All humans do this.  Our prior beliefs have a huge impact on how we interpret the Bible, which is why you’ll start to read it very differently once your beliefs start changing.

It’s important to realize that no one in the Bible believed in the concept of a Triune God.  Jesus didn’t teach this, and the Jews would never have accepted it.  In the New Testament epistles, the early apostles greatly emphasize two things about Jesus: that He is not Yahweh, and that He is lower than Yahweh. The Jews were so far from the Triune God theory that they actually teach Jesus was not a God.  Instead, they only accepted Yahweh as a God, even after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  For many specific examples of NT Jews rejecting the Divinity of Christ, see How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human.

In real life, this is what the Bible teaches:

For the entire Old Testament, Yahweh claims to be the only God in existence.  He says there is no other God but Him.  This is monotheism (the belief in only one God).  Yahweh was so insistent that His followers be monotheists, that He said anyone who tried to worship multiple Gods should be instantly executed.  In other words, our teaching would be totally blasphemous during the Old Testament, and Yahweh would command that people instantly execute us for teaching there are three Gods (He’d also tell them to burn down our village and never rebuild it–that’s how serious this issue was).

The Old Testament covers thousands of years of history.  So you have to imagine yourself being a Jew who has it pounded into your brain that Yahweh is the only God.  To you, even daring to imagine that there could be another Being like Yahweh makes you feel like you’re committing some terrible sin.

Now we come to the New Testament.  The Jews are fiercely devoted to monotheism. While the Romans and Greeks around them are all worshiping a ton of different gods, the Jews say that Yahweh is the only true God. If any Jew dares to suggest that there could be any other Being who is equal to Yahweh, everyone grabs rocks to stone the blasphemer.  When Jesus claimed equality with Yahweh by saying “I and the Father are One,” the Jews grabbed rocks to stone Him.  Why?  Because He was putting Himself on Yahweh’s level.

The Jews answered Jesus, “We’re going to stone You to death, not for any good things You’ve done, but for dishonoring Yahweh! You claim to be God, although You’re only a man!” (Jn. 10:33)
This happens every time Jesus claims to be a Divine Being–the Jews want to stone Him because Yahweh said that it was a horrible sin for any one to claim to be His equal.  But here’s the catch: while Jesus was going around claiming to be Yahweh’s equal, Yahweh spoke from the heavens multiple times and told people that He was actually pleased with Jesus.  Yahweh even commanded the Jews to listen to Jesus, even though Jesus was totally blaspheming.  Say what??  This made the Jews’ heads spin.  It was too incredible to accept that some normal looking Jewish man could really be a Divine Being.  And yet this is what Jesus kept claiming over and over, especially by using the title Son of Man.  To learn how Jesus used titles to promote Himself as a Divine Being, see Understanding Jesus’ Use of Titles: Son of God, Son of Man, I AM.
Jesus was a theological nightmare. He demonstrated Yahweh to be a liar by claiming to be Yahweh’s equal, because in the Old Testament Yahweh so clearly said He was the only true God.  But then, just when you’d expect Yahweh to defend His reputation, He agrees with Jesus!  So for the entire Old Testament, Yahweh says “Worship Me and only Me.”  Then suddenly Jesus comes and Yahweh starts saying, “Worship Me and Jesus because we’re both Gods.” This is absolutely shocking. What would you do if you found yourself suddenly having your whole view of God radically changed?  Would you sincerely pray and ask Yahweh for help, or would you just blow Jesus off as a nutcase and refuse to change your beliefs?  Most Jews wrote Jesus off–they wouldn’t even try to consider what He was saying because it was too radical.  No matter how many ways Yahweh confirmed Jesus, and how many miracles Jesus did, the Jews found ways to keep pushing off the shocking truth that they were suddenly being confronted with a second God.
In our Know Your Bible Series, when we get to the New Testament, we help you understand how the Jews would have interpreted many of the radical things Jesus said.  You have to hear Jesus from the viewpoint of a monotheistic Jew to appreciate how shocking He was.  If instead, you try to make Him fit the Church’s theory that He’s just one personality of a Triune God, you’ll miss all of the important lessons He’s teaching.  But you’ll also feel a lot more comfortable because you’ll be refusing to face the fact that Yahweh lied about how many Gods there are.
So why is it so important to face the fact that our Gods intentionally deceive us whenever it suits Them?  Because understanding this helps you understand how wild and uncontrollable They are.  It helps you improve your treatment of Them by respecting Their independence.  It helps you gain humility by realizing that you don’t begin to know everything.  The Jews never saw Jesus coming.  Who knows what other surprises are in store for us?  When we refuse to face how wild our Gods are, we close our minds and insist that we can control Them.  We make long lists of things They “can’t” do, and we start treating Them like They have to conform to our wishes.  Jesus made the Jews uncomfortable, so they blew Him off.  They didn’t personally approve of His claim to be God, so they discounted it.  And yet what happens when we decide to ignore truths about God just because we don’t personally like them?  We run the risk of ending up in Hell.
Now if you cling to the Trinity theory, then you can pretend that Jesus was just Yahweh in costume.  You can then say “Yahweh never lied to anyone–there is still just one God, not multiple Gods.”  You can say, “God would never make such a dramatic change as that–I can count on Him to be much more predictable.”  Today, this is what Christians are doing.  And they are so desperate to pretend that our three Gods are one predictable blob, that they even go so far as to pretend that multiple Gods are talking when it says “Let Us make man in Our image.”  And yet this is an utterly absurd lie, which any Hebrew scholar would know.
In English, if we want to emphasize something, we bold it.  In ancient Hebrew, if you want to emphasize something, you make it plural.  The ancient Hebrew word for “God” was El. The plural form of God (Gods) was Elohim.  Here’s the tricky bit: when you say “elohim” in Hebrew, you either mean “gods” or you mean “GOD!
Moses wrote Genesis.  Moses was a monotheist who only worshiped Yahweh.  What Moses actually says in Genesis is that Yahweh created everything.  Moses never refers to multiple Gods in the creation account–people just want you to believe this because they are desperate to scrape up support for the Trinity theory in the Bible.  We explain this shady business about the Creation account in Rethinking the Creation Account: Who is Elohim?.
Is it hard to believe the Church would intentionally lie to you about the language in the Creation account?  Unfortunately, this is only one of many blatant lies that Bible scholars are putting out.  Lucifer–the good angel who supposedly morphed into Satan–was entirely invented by Bible translators intentionally leaving one Latin word in the middle of an English passage.  In other words, the Church invented Lucifer.  She just made him up–there really is no such being by that name (see Shady Bible Games: How the Church Invented Lucifer). Our point is that religious Christianity is filled with a lot of very intentional, very deceptive games and beliefs which are being shoved on you without you being allowed to question anything.
So then, does the Bible really support the Trinity theory? No, people just twist the meaning of words or boldface lie in order to make you think that the Bible promotes the concept of a Triune God.  But what the OT says is that there is only one true God (Yahweh).  The Gospels introduce Jesus, who claims to be a second God.  The NT epistles reject the Divinity of Christ and go back to saying that Yahweh is the only true God.  Then in Revelation, we find Jesus being exalted once again as a second God.  Why the changes?  Because in the Gospels, and in Revelation, God is being quoted.  In the NT epistles (and Acts), it’s Jewish men talking–men who aren’t willing to accept Jesus’ equality with Yahweh.  Is it a mess?  Yes.  Then the Church comes along and tells you the whole book is “God-breathed” and that if you find fault with NT writers rejecting the Divinity of Christ, then you’re the one with the problem.
Now let’s put this whole mess in perspective.  First, you are doing  fabulous to question the things you’re being taught.  Keep it up.  Question everything and ask God to show you the truth.  Then wait for Him to show you, and realize that He is not going to let you end up on the wrong side of eternity when you sincerely want to please Him.  Remember that God judges you by your soul’s response to Him.  Do you really care about pleasing Him or Them or whoever the real Gods are?   Are you acknowledging that however many Gods there are, They are the Supreme Authorities over all created things?  If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then you’re fine.  They’ll sort out the Trinity mess for you eventually.  Meanwhile, refuse to settle for religious Christianity–go for true Christianity, which is a relationship with your Creators, not just a bunch of empty rituals.  Remember that life is about pursuing, pleasing and knowing the Gods who created you.  They are calling you, you are answering and searching for truth, and with that attitude, you’re going to go far.  While it is certainly upsetting to realize how wrong much of what you’ve been taught is, when you get to the point where you’re willing to let God totally reshape your theology into whatever He wants it to be, then you’re in a fabulous place.  The Church starts us all off in a major mess, but God will sort it out for you one step at a time, and you’ll be amazed at how freeing the real truth is.

247. salvation

The real issue here is that of Divine judgment.  You’re concerned that God is rejecting you for not acting on information which you did not have.  This is definitely not something you need to be concerned about.

As we explain in Spiritual Maturity: Learning From A God Who Loves To Teach, God enjoys the process of teaching us so much that He intentionally drags it out.  When He first starts calling your soul to come to Him, you only have one crumb of understanding.  What He judges you by is how you respond to that one little crumb–not by how that one crumb stacks up against all that there is for you to learn.

According to the information you described, it sounds like you eagerly responded to the first crumb of understanding that God brought you regarding salvation.  Did you understand the whole picture?  Of course not, and that’s beside the point.  When the salvation process was described to you, you wanted to get on board.  The theology wasn’t perfect, but your soul still felt that it was making a basic choice about getting on the right side of God.  You wanted to be accepted by Him, not rejected, and you did what you felt He was requiring of you in order to make that happen.  So within the context of what you understood, you responded very positively towards God.

An analogy might be helpful here.  Little Timmy wants to bring his mother some flowers to please her, so he goes out to her garden and yanks up all of her prize tulips.  Timmy doesn’t understand how his mother views her garden.  He doesn’t understand that his mother would much rather have her tulips in the ground.  Timmy has seen his father give his mother bouquets of store bought flowers and his mother seemed very pleased.  So Timmy is trying to imitate his father’s actions because he also wants to please his mother.

Now in real life, a human mother would probably be very cross with Timmy when she sees all of her prize tulips ruined.  Humans struggle to keep their cool in such moments.  They struggle to look beyond their own agendas and appreciate the other person’s motivations.  But God is not a human, and He would be very pleased with Timmy’s efforts because He would judge the boy entirely by his sincere desire to please.

In life we all start off as little Timmys.  Those of us who sincerely care about pleasing Him start out doing a lot of things for God that He doesn’t particularly like or want.  We go about things all wrong.  We mess things up.  We bring Him the wrong gifts.  So how does God respond?  Does He nitpick and criticize and point out how lacking our efforts were?  No, He looks past the misguided prayers and useless rituals and sees that we are quite sincere in our desire to please Him.  He then responds to the intentions of our souls with great pleasure.

Someone could have told you that salvation was obtained by running across a room backwards, and if you then rushed to do it, how would God have responded?  He would have judged you by your soul’s intentions.  It’s not what you were doing, but why you were doing it.  Going through ridiculous motions out of a sincere desire to please God is still an act of submission to Him.  In your case, you were given much better instruction.  Was it perfect?  No, but look at how much God has been educating you since.  This is how it works with God: the more you listen to Him, the more He teaches you.  But from the very first moment that your soul starts saying “yes” to Him, God is pleased with you.  Does God reject souls who are sincerely seeking Him just because their theology is a mess?  No, He does not.  So you see, there’s nothing to be concerned with here.  God is educating you–and you need to see that as a reward, not as a criticism about how blind you’ve been up until now.  None of us knows anything until God teaches us, and He teaches us all in a different order.  How much you know isn’t what keeps you out of Hell–it’s how your soul responds when God speaks to you.  In your case, you’ve been saying “yes” more than you have “no”, and this is why God is speeding you down the road of maturity.  So you’re really in a fabulous place (which is why demons are trying to get you to fear that you’re not).

To help you further with these issues, check out the following articles:

Learn about educational convictions in Conviction Q&A, because that’s what’s going on when God teaches you more about submission.

Pay attention to test #1 in Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests.  Demons are using vague accusations to try and get you insecure about your salvation status (and by the way, this is only a trick they pull on souls who are already saved).

Every time you’re feeling stressed, there’s an opportunity for growth.  In your situation, the helpful focus is going to be on trusting that God is for you, that He wants you to succeed with Him, and that He can be counted on to clearly communicate with you if there’s something He wants from you.  Also, this is a good opportunity to get better at recognizing false conviction from demons, which you are clearly dealing with.  When it’s vague, it’s not God talking.  It takes a ton of practice to get better at discernment, but you’re well on your way.  So rather than be concerned about your salvation status, take an honest look at your track record (all of those efforts to submit) and ask yourself, “Do I really care about pleasing with God?”  The answer is clearly “yes,” which is why you have nothing to worry about.

246. I feel bad about being a Christian. I know that we should continue to trust in God no matter what people around us say, but now things are getting ridiculous. In my school, evolution is taught like fact, and all of my friends criticize me and say that I’m stupid. Why are people that claim to be tolerant doing the opposite? Was I wrong to tell others that I believe in God?

Even though the Theory of Evolution is scientifically absurd, people really cling to it because they have decided that if we all pretend God doesn’t exist, that must mean He can’t exist.  In other words, we have to give God permission to be, because we humans are the ones who define what reality is.  This kind of thinking is utterly ridiculous, and yet you’ll find it everywhere–even within the Christian community, where many talk as if God can’t have any qualities that they personally dislike.  And yet the truth is that God is not like an app that you can choose to either put on your phone or ignore. God is not only real, He is who we will all have to answer to for the choices we made in this life.

It’s important to understand why people don’t want God to exist.  People want to be their own gods–they want to be in charge.  It terrifies them to think they do not have control over their own existence.  It terrifies them to think that God might be Someone who scares them.  They hate the idea of having Someone Else limit their choices in life.  So you see, it’s not really about religion, and it’s not about you personally: all of the lies and mockery around you are being driven by much deeper issues that humans have about being the property of the One who made them.  When you identify yourself as being with the God who no one wants to deal with, they attack you in hopes that you’ll stop talking about Him.  People who are very threatened by the existence of God get very hostile towards people who remind them of Him–which you do, when you talk about Him.

Now your “friends” aren’t being very friendly to mock you.  If they were really your friends, they would respect your beliefs, even if they didn’t agree with them.  The fact that they are mocking you instead shows you that their support of you is very limited.  It also tells you that they are not willing to side with you against the rest of the school community because that would put them in a position of getting teased as well.  Realize that people who do the teasing are often afraid of getting teased themselves.  People have different resources in life.  A person like you has the courage to be different by saying that you believe in God.  Many people do not have this kind of courage, and that’s not their fault.  Just as some kids are naturally slow runners and others are naturally fast, some kids find it very scary to ever separate themselves from a large group.  So if the majority says “Believing in God is dumb,” then kids who are afraid of being singled out will go along with that attitude, even if they secretly disagree.

In life we choose which battles we are going to fight.  Kids who already have trouble at home will often try hard to avoid having more trouble at school.  Teasing you can feel safe, because you’re not going to attack them back.  But if they support you in public, they might end up picked on by other kids, and often kids decide not to take that risk.

The real issue here is not that you feel bad about being a Christian, but that you’re afraid of the negative feedback you’re getting, and you’re wondering if it’s worth it.  This is a very important question for you to think about: is it really worth it to obey God even if it means we’ll have trouble with humans?  God is the Creator of Heaven and Hell.  He controls life and death.  He says that obeying Him is the wise choice for humans, and that He will greatly reward those who obey Him.  He says that trying to rebel against Him will end in great misery.  So what should you do in response to this information?  Should you believe God or blow Him off?  How hard should you try?  How much is really at stake?  Is God’s wrath something you should be concerned about?  Your friends and teachers don’t seem at all worried about being punished by God for their bad choices–should you just side with them and take a risk?  Are they smarter than God?  Are they the ones you should be listening to in life?  These are all very important questions which every Christian needs to seriously think about at some point.

By putting you in a situation where other humans are mocking you for believing in Him, God is actually helping you by challenging you to really think about why you are following Him.  You see, God will not accept people who just go along with Him because He’s some popular fad.  Many people who call themselves “Christians” are going to end up in Hell because they never personally submitted to God–they just went along with religious traditions that other people handed them.

God is only going to accept souls whose submission to Him is real, and you’ll never get there in your own life until He motivates you to really think about why you’re siding with Him.  So the best thing you can do now is to ask Him to help you with these issues, and to help you make the right choices.

244. Very interesting article about the casting lots.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I am going to give it a try since I am in a verge of making a very important decision in my life and I have asked for the guidance of Holy Spirit but things are still uncertain, at least it seems to be. But I totally understand that it is highly sight-based method and that I should not overuse it. I have a question about the casting lots. Is it okay to flip two coins into the air, one coin at a time, let the coins fell on my hand, and then interpret the pattern by looking at how coin fell onto my hand? or do I have to let the coin fell onto a hard floor rather than catching it with my hand? I am asking this because I think ancient practice of casting lots involved throwing two sided stones onto floor or ground rather than catching it with hand.

It doesn’t matter what surface you use–hand, ground, table, etc..  The goal is not to imitate the ancient style, but to use a system which is correctly balanced and approaching the whole “casting lots” affair with respect for God.

The system we suggest in the post All About Fleeces: Asking God for a Sign is designed to help people steer away from the usual manipulation games and give serious thought to what they’re doing.

Now when you’re in an honest quandary, there’s nothing wrong with seeing if God is open to talking to you through some kind of fleece method.  But, as we explained in the post, God is not going to settle into a pattern of talking to you this way because it will undermine the development of your faith.  Using any form of a fleece quickly becomes addictive and it rapidly undermines faith (notice how Gideon wasn’t satisfied with his first fleece even though it involved God overriding the natural laws).

To help you stay on track with faith development, we recommend that while you’re trying the coin approach, you also take a faith approach by praying something like this:

“God, I’ve got a big decision in front of me, and I’m not sure which option is best.  I really want You to be pleased with my life, so I’m asking that You will have Your total way in this decision.  Steer me down the road that You know is best.  I know that You are much wiser than I am, and I trust Your judgment more than mine.  If You want to use these coins to give me some indication about which path to choose, then I’m eager to hear anything You want to say.  But if You want me to press on without any clear direction and trust that You’re guiding my steps, then I’m up for that as well.  What matters is that You’re pleased.”

If you go into it with this kind of attitude, then if God decides not to talk to you through the coins, you’ll already be set to practice trusting Him to lead you, and that’s the critical lesson here.  Whenever God gets you in a position where you’re not sure what to do, it’s about practicing trust.

For more about recognizing spiritual lessons in various situations, see The Mechanics of Spiritual Growth: Four Essential Attitudes.

242. What should we focus on when HS lets his attack dogs ( baseball bats ) decide how to treat our earth suits? If HS’ attack dogs ( baseball bats, demons, human beings ) have limited choice, it seems logical to turn our focus off of HS and attempt to bargain with His attack dogs, because in those moments, by definition of the word choice, HS will not be choosing whether our earth suits will be lightly beaten or paralyzed for life, His attack dogs will.

No, this logic is incorrect.  The reason we used the analogy that God is a like a man wielding a bat, and demons are like the bat is to emphasize how much God controls what demons do.  In such a situation, the bat does not decide how hard it will strike–the man decides.  The man is not only choosing to bring the bat into the situation (as opposed to some other tool), but he is also controlling what the bat does.

In the same way, God does not ever just unleash demons at you while He goes off to have lunch somewhere.  God is the One sustaining every demon’s existence. Just as each breath you take must be granted to you by God, every move demons make must be allowed by God.  So demons never just have at you in the way that you are imagining.

A different kind of analogy might make this more clear.  Suppose you are furious with your neighbor Ron, so you decide to go over and beat him up.  God gives you the option of making this choice.  Now as you march over to Ron’s house, your intention is to brutally assault Ron, but God has not left the situation.  Instead, He is constantly controlling what your options are.  You are only going to be allowed to harm Ron to the degree that God says–not any more. And while you think it’s a very simple matter for you to beat Ron up, God sees a billion ways that He can thwart you.  Perhaps when you pound on Ron’s door, no one will be home.  Perhaps when you go to hit Ron, he’ll duck and you’ll miss. Perhaps when you step towards Ron, God will make you trip and fall on your face.  Or perhaps when you hit Ron, Ron will hit you back twice as hard and you’ll end up badly injured.  So, you see, just because you decide to engage with someone doesn’t mean God will let you actually engage with them.  And just because you decide to do something to someone doesn’t mean that God will let you actually do it.

It works the same way with demons: they want to engage with you far more often than God allows them to.  When He does allow them to, what demons wish they could do to you is much worse than what they actually get permission to do.

It is because God is so intimately involved in every aspect of these situations that you should always keep your focus on Him.  You also need to realize that negotiating with demons is a total waste of time, because they want to hurt you.  God is the only reason you’re not in much worse shape than you’re in now–He is the One protecting you from creatures who want to destroy you.  So your plan of trying to negotiate directly with demons would not work at all (as many humans have learned the hard way).  You simply don’t have anything to offer demons.

Some biblical precedent comes to mind: JOB 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. Yahweh gave Satan the power to choose whether some of his creation ( Job’s human family and animals ) became demoniacally possessed, lived, or died. As Satan made his choices, Yahweh did not override Satan, leaving them with Satan as the final say in the matter. John 19:11-12 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”. Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” Jesus did not challenge the idea that Pilate had the power to do anything he wanted with Jesus’ earth suit.

You are taking these comments too literally.  Jesus once told His disciples that He would do anything they wanted if they just asked in His Name.  He also told His disciples that He was giving them authority over demons.  Were these true statements?  Not at all.  God exaggerates all the time in the Bible, and we explain many examples of this in the following posts:

Practicing Discernment: Yahweh Lies
Practicing Discernment: Jesus Lies

To understand the Job conversation, you need to consider God’s perspective.  Satan is a cocky creature who has an exaggerated view of his own power.  Yahweh also knew exactly what Satan would choose to do, because Yahweh knows the future.  So when Yahweh says “do anything you want” is He really giving Satan all options?  Not hardly.  As Satan’s Creator, Yahweh controls what options Satan is even capable of dreaming up.  So while the language makes it sound like Yahweh was giving Satan all kinds of options, He really wasn’t.  Instead, like always, Yahweh was controlling every aspect of the situation.

Suppose you tell a person, “You can paint your room any color you want,” but then you have the power to make them think blue would be a great color to choose.  So while your words say “you can choose anything,” in reality, you are the one who chose the color for them.

God has many passive and aggressive ways of influencing His creatures.  Whenever He gives us choices, those choices are always limited, and God doesn’t give any of us total control in any moment.

To understand more about how choice works for any created being, see the following:

God’s Will vs. Human Choice Q&A

240. Follow up Surrender

Since you are able to so clearly identify what your soul attitude is on this issue, you should be able to discern whether or not God would find your soul attitude acceptable.  So what is the answer?  Do you think God is pleased with your priorities or do you think He finds them lacking?  If you have a correct understanding of how He judges you and what He wants your priorities to be, then the answer should be clear to you.  If it’s really a muddle, then ask Him to sort it out for you.  Learning to rely directly on God and trust that He will lead you is a critical aspect of spiritual growth.  Since you have an important issue at hand, this is a good opportunity for you to practice going to Him directly and waiting for Him to either confirm that you are on the right track or tell you how He wants  you to adjust your position.

239. I’m in a confused bind. I care about pleasing God. But when I feel He is asking me to do something, I get very afraid and upset about it. I feel like a hypocrite and possibly displeasing to God. What do I do?

First you need to identify what is causing your fear and distress.  Many Christians are afraid that God is impossible to please, and that He only asks them to do something so He will have an excuse to pound on them the minute they make a mistake.  We address these concerns in Understanding How Easy it is to Succeed with God.

Another common source of distress is when you feel like God is asking you to do the impossible, and you dread the guilt of disappointing yourself and Him when you fail.  What’s needed here is a better understanding of how God judges you, and how He views the issue of temptation.  For help with this, see Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy.

Usually when souls start using terms like “hypocrite,” they are sensing the war between soul and earthsuit and feeling bad about the fact that their earthsuits don’t want to  please God. And yet your earthsuit will never want to please God, because He has not given it that option.  The good news is that God does not judge you by your earthsuit’s interest in pleasing Him.  Instead, He judges you by your soul’s response to Him.  If God asks you to do something which your earthsuit finds unpleasant or threatening, then your earthsuit will protest even as your soul is wanting to please God.  This kind of conflict is unavoidable, but the presence of a conflict should not be interpreted as a failure.  Because God judges you by your soul attitude, it is quite possible to please Him even when you find His convictions threatening and upsetting.  For more about this, see the following:

What it Means to be Aligned with God
Courageous Coward: Pleasing God When You’re Afraid
Assessing God’s Pleasure with You: Three Useless Tests

238. Reading your post on Total Surrender it became CONSCIOUSLY clear to me that I failed a chance at deepening my surrender to God. When God was making a certain attitude to embrace very, very, very hard, I kept fighting repeatedly, I mean this process went on for what had to be months here and there, He gave me many chances, and in the long run I do not believe I succeeded. I wanted to trust Him enough to surrender but I didn’t. I wanted to but I just couldn’t. What human consciously with the understanding I think I have of God would subject himself to what feels like a Russian Roulette with the promise of something better at the end if you do get shot in the brains? Getting shot is painful and humans don’t handle pain well. I do not handle deep, deep heartache well at all, and because the risk of that to me was so high in this process, I did not choose surrender. I want the most I can, but I realize maybe my “most” actually comes with a price limit.  Even asking God to help me raise the limit I’m willing to invest is scary…..I know how He operates…..it is scary.

God’s methods can indeed be terrifying. But the real issue here is that you’re confusing trust with surrender and thinking that they have to happen together.  They don’t.  Trust is built on confidence in God’s goodness.  Surrender is driven by reverence, which is a response to God’s awesome power.  Surrender does not depend on trust–in fact, it’s often necessary for God to separate these concepts in your mind in order to develop the right kind of surrender in you–a kind which is not dependent on Him blessing you.

Notice how you speak of doing Russian Roulette with the promise of something better.  What you’re talking about here is conditional surrender–surrendering to God because you believe He’ll be nice to you.  Well, what if He’s not going to be nice to you–does that make Him any less God?  If you withhold surrender on the grounds that you disapprove of God’s methods, it’s like you’re saying, “You’re not really Supreme over me unless I like what You’re doing.”  This is what atheists do–only they take it a step farther and say “God can’t really exist until I personally approve of who He is and how He operates.”  And yet does your opinion really impact the reality of God’s existence?  Is God’s supremacy over you dependent on how much you personally approve of Him?  No.  Total surrender is a full embracing of facts which will remain facts whether we like them or not.  For more about this, see the section Trust vs. Submission in Your End Times Faith Crisis: Staying Aligned with a Scary God.

230. In Genesis 29, it says Leah was unattractive and Rachel was beautiful. Because of this, the husband of both of them, Jacob, only loved Rachel. In verse 31, it says “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” If the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, would He also be near to unattractive, brokenhearted people in the world who are males? Or is it just the brokenhearted females because they are the fairer sex? It is understandable if He only cares about the females because they hurt inside, but I am a male and I can understand if God would not give any care about me, as there is no reason to (unattractive male who is not wealthy). I would just like confirmation that I should not ask God for compassion because He would turn away from me.

Let’s start with how you’re responding to Jacob’s story.  Jacob didn’t love Rachel–he was infatuated with her.  It was all hormones, no substance.  The theory of “falling in love” is a myth.  In real life, what people call falling in love is just hormone driven infatuation (see Dating Essentials: Real Love vs. Infatuation).

Real love involves sincerely caring about what is best for the other person.  In the biblical records about Jacob, the man never demonstrates real love towards anyone.  Instead, he’s much too self-absorbed to treat others well, which is why he is such a jerk to both of his wives as well as his kids.  All told, Jacob had 12 sons and 1 daughter.  Of these, he showed extreme favoritism towards only two of the boys (Joseph & Benjamin).  His reason for choosing those two had nothing to do with their characters–instead, Jacob fixated on the fact that they were the biological children of Rachel.

Jacob worshiped Rachel, he didn’t love her.  When Rachel died young, Jacob continued to obsess over her until his death (which is why we find his favoritism of her sons never ending).  Rachel and Leah were the daughters of Laban–another self-absorbed jerk.  They also grew up in a home where false gods were worshiped, and we know that Rachel took some of those gods with her into Jacob’s home, demonstrating that she was nowhere close to sincerely worshiping Yahweh.

It was the total lack of respect for Yahweh among all of the folks in Jacob’s story that led to so much misery.  Leah had many options for how she could respond to her trials in life (and she’d had plenty of trials before Jacob ever came along).  But instead, we find her obsessing over a ridiculous contest with her sister over who could birth the most babies.  Leah and Rachel fell into the same trap that you are currently in: they tried to measure their personal worth through meaningless things–things which their culture said were important.

In Bible times, having many kids was one of the ways a woman gained status in society.  Today, matching your culture’s definition of “attractive” and hoarding wealth is a way to gain status.  So if your goal in life is to get a bunch of fickle fans who will pretend to be more interested in you than they really are, then yes, your lack of looks and riches is a big problem.  But since you’re asking about God’s view of you, you need to realize that He is not a human.  You are wrong to assume that God is using your culture’s value system to assess your worth to Him.  God finds your culture’s value system utterly irrelevant.  As your Creator, He is very interested in you, very involved in your life, and He totally understands you.  Should you ask God to have compassion on you?  No, you should ask Him to help you receive the compassion that He’s already giving you.

The fact that you are writing yourself off as worthless is a result of you clinging to a lot of deceptions.  When you then try to insist that God must think the same way you do,  you are leaping to a conclusion which is utterly false.  God is not a human.  You are.  You and God are totally different kinds of beings who have drastically different ways of thinking.  If you want to progress in your relationship with God, you’re going to need to start acknowledging that He has very different opinions than you.  You also need to realize that you’re not going to learn what God’s opinions are by reading stories about immature twits in the Bible.  If you want to know who God is and how He views you, you need to ask Him to teach you.  Don’t just assume other people who talk about God are accurately describing Him.  You’ve clearly been taught by other humans that God likes women more than men (and it was probably women who told you this).  Instead of questioning this belief, you just accepted it.  This is a very common pattern among humans–we accept rumors and theories as rock solid truth without bothering to verify them for ourselves.  When we do this with God, we end up in a major mess.  So you need to forget about the dysfunctional mess that was Jacob’s family and ask God to help you see yourself through His eyes.

228. I have several thoughts on refinement that I need clarification on…
1. Whenever God begins to refine us, why isn’t there a warning of some sort? In my personal experiences it seems like the ship is sailing just fine, and the next thing i know I’m in way over my head with some trial.

Be honest: what would you do if God were to warn you ahead of time that your life was about to go negative?  You’d start stressing and fretting.  Him giving you advance warning would totally kill your ability to enjoy the rest period.

Every human is designed with different strengths.  Part of how God gets you through the refinement that you need is by alternating it with rest periods.  The rest period isn’t just a slacking time–it’s an essential period in which you have a chance to apply the principles you learned during the refinement period.  It’s during the breaks that we have a chance to see a glimpse of the changes God is making in us.  Often when we’re in the thick of the trials, we feel like we’re not making any progress at all.  It’s rather like working out at a gym: when you’re lifting the weights, it’s miserable work.  If you were to never take a rest period, you’d end up damaging your muscles.  To actually benefit from the workouts, you need to alternate straining with resting so that your muscles have a chance to regroup.

There is no value whatsoever in trying to anticipate when God is going to thrust you into another season of trials.  As a human, you don’t have the first clue as to how to mature yourself.  God does.  Your list of priorities for your own development are vastly different than His, so He’s not going to do things in a way that seems logical or efficient to you. But you will eventually see that His way was far better and wiser than yours would have been.

The longer you go through this, the less stressed you’ll be by the fact that God keeps alternating you between seasons of rest and seasons of stress.  You’ll learn that everything is a temporary season with God, and that there is always more to learn.  At first these facts can sound depressing, but the closer you get to Him, the more you’ll come to appreciate the value of His style.  God loves change, He loves variety, and the fact that He designed us to be in a constant state of growth is one of the things that makes being human so rich and exciting.

Recommended article: Anticipating Refinement

2. Whenever we’re in refinement or the prep program God has put us in, what if we decide that its too much and choose to opt out? Can our spiritual growth be stunted by always trying to cut His prep program time short?

Absolutely, and Christians do this all the time.  Resisting God like this comes down to you refusing to submit to Him.  God won’t force you to submit to Him in this life.  At the same time, if you do want to please Him, then He will force a lot of lessons on you that you won’t be capable of enduring without Him dragging you through them.  So is God going to drag you through the lessons that you need to grow, even if you’re kicking and screaming, and ensure that you actually get something out of them?  It depends on how much you’ve submitted to Him.

The reason we’re always telling people to ask God to make them all that He wants them to be, is that this prayer reflects an attitude of complete surrender.  If you want to get the most out of your misery in life, you can’t hold anything back in the submission department.  You have to be all in.  Now once you’re all in, you are still going to have meltdowns and tantrums if God puts you through enough misery.  Being totally surrendered to God does not mean you stop being a human with strong opinions about how you feel your life should go.  Surrender has nothing to do with approving of God’s choices–it’s about yielding to Him as the Supreme Authority.

If you have fully surrendered to God by asking Him to have His total way with you, then He will honor that request.  As a human, fully surrendering yourself to God is the best you can do–you can’t also produce sunny attitudes every day, you can’t purge yourself of depravity, and you can’t make yourself like what God is doing to you.  You have very limited choices, but those choices are extremely significant.

There are many soul attitudes which God wants from humans, and He will develop those attitudes in souls who sincerely want to please Him.  In our material , we really emphasize the soul attitude of submission, because if you focus on submission when you’re struggling with God, everything else will fall into place.

3. Knowing that we need trials to grow with God, is it bad to want more trials and to seek them out in order to get closer to Him faster?

It’s not bad, it’s human.  A lot of Christians try to speed God along by finding ways to persecute themselves in life.  But, as we’re always saying, God leads, He does not follow.  When you invent trials for yourself, you are trying to take the lead in your refinement process.  Anytime you’re trying to take the lead with God, you’re trying to control Him.  Control is a form of domination, and that is the opposite of submission.  Submission is so vital to getting anywhere with God, that He’s not going to let you lead in any area of your relationship with Him.  So, yes, you can create misery for yourself, but it won’t do anything good for you.  It will only end up functioning as a form of Divine discipline, with God heaping on the misery that you’re seeking until you finally burn out and decide to re-submit to Him.

Self-inflicted trials are an absolute waste of time.  They do nothing but reinforce wrong beliefs and wrong soul attitudes.  To steer clear of this common trap, you need to be honest about what your bottom line motivation is: you’re trying to control the pace of growth, because you don’t like how long God is taking.  Whenever you’re struggling with God, you need to focus on submission, because submission is the key to staying in alignment with Him.

For more ways that Christians misapply pain in their relationships with God, see Relating to God: Recognizing the Trap of Symbolic Pain.

227. Is it God’s desire that we vote? It’s been told to me that it is a civic duty.

From a human perspective, voting is a human duty.  Humans invent many rules for themselves about what they think people “should” be doing.  But at the end of the day, humans aren’t your judges–God is.  Does God need your help to put who He wants into office?  Of course not. But if God convicts you to vote, then you need to do so out of obedience to Him, not because you’re trying to help Him fix the world.

God convicts Christians differently about the voting issue.  What He wants from you this round depends on what He is personally working with you on right now.  This is a good opportunity for you to practice depending on Him to lead you in life.  Ask Him to help you know His will in this matter.  If He motivates you to vote, then do it.  But realize that other people nagging you is not the same as God telling you to do something.

In America, many Christians say that if all Christians were to get out and vote, the whole country would be way better off.  In other words, Christians could force their agenda on the rest of the country if they just got it in gear.  Such an obnoxious theory demonstrates no respect for the sovereignty of God.  No, we really can’t override God or make Him do what we want just by marking up voter ballots.  In the Bible, God teaches that He gives countries bad leaders as a means of disciplining spiritual rebellion.  America is definitely brimming with spiritual rebellion, much of which is being contributed by Christians.  So God is giving us a lot of bad leaders in order to make us more miserable, because it is misery which best motivates people to repent.  Merely voting is not going to solve the underlying spiritual problem–neither will nagging people, making movies about how immoral we are, or ranting and railing on the internet.  Spiritual rebellion comes down to individual souls exercising their God-given option to defy their own Creator.  So if we want to stay in alignment with God, we need to recognize that He is responding to spiritual issues in our country, and not pretend that we can fix rebellion by urging people to fake an interest in Him or by sending up a bunch of bossy prayers.

As an individual Christian, you don’t need to be stressed about living in a country that has bad leadership.  What matters is that you are personally in a good place with God.  God’s control over this world is absolute, not partial, and if you sincerely care about pleasing Him, then you can count on Him to only put you through trials which will benefit you in the longterm.  Meanwhile, it’s good to break out of the mentality that you have to help God do things in this world.  We should be obeying His convictions out of a desire to honor Him–not because we think He needs our assistance.

226. In one of your posts you mentioned that God is mega pleased with souls who have permanently surrendered to Him. Just what is that? I’ve never heard this term in church or in the bible. Have you removed your permanent surrender material? I cannot seem to find it. If so, are there any other articles that focus or touch on that topic?

Of the billions of topics that we could discuss, God specifically instructs us on which topics He wants addressed on this site.  There are some themes which He wants to be heavily emphasized, and others which He does not want to be addressed here.  There are some articles which He only wants posted for a temporary period.  We used to have a whole section on permanent surrender.  Those articles have been removed.  We are not currently planning to replace them, so if you want more information on this topic, you need to ask God for guidance.

With the end times so near, it is vital that you practice seeking God directly in life and trusting that He can be counted on to guide you in both serious and trivial matters.  The purpose of our material is to increase the discussion between your soul and God–not decrease it by having you treat us as His stand-ins.  When we remove articles here, often people interpret this as a statement that we no longer agree with the article’s statement.  Our reasons for removing articles are varied, and none of them have bumpkus to do with you.  Only God can tell you what truth is, so you need to be depending on Him, not just trusting that we’re always telling you accurate information.

If permanent surrender is relevant to your personal walk with God, He will certainly talk to you about it.  If He doesn’t feel it’s something you need to concern yourself with, then He won’t. You need to follow His leading in the matter, because His opinion of you is the only one that matters.

225. All evil comes from God–or so you say, that both good and evil comes from God. So I have a question. My father keeps having these occurrences of “bad luck”. He tries to help a lot of people, but in the process something bad usually happens to him. Here’s what happened:

He went to help my aunt with some groceries, he got a ticket from speeding (he was going 10 or 20 above the limit, he wasn’t reckless driving). He went to help my uncle to paint his house, because it was affected by a fire, so he bought the paint, then he put it in trunk of the car and guess what happened: somehow the can with the paint opened by it self (when it wasn’t supposed to) and smeared the trunk and the back seats with paint. The insurance is probably not gonna pay for the damage. He loves his car very much, so this of course left him very sad.

Yesterday, someone hit his car, and his phone just fell into the toilet (he also likes his phone and it is expensive), and we don’t know yet, but it might be broken forever…  There are a lot more events but I won’t talk about each of them, because there are too many. I feel really sad for my father, it affects him but it also affects me. He believes someone put a spell of some kind on him, that’s why he keeps having bad stuff happening in his life. I tried to tell him that, he shouldn’t believe that, humans don’t have that kind of power, only God. He doesn’t believe that, he says someone is putting evil on him. And now I’m questioning myself on that as well. Did these things happen because God made them happen?

Yes.

Did God make my father speed so he could get a ticket?

Speeding is a choice. God is continuously giving your father choices in life, then God is causing certain consequences to happen based on the choices your father makes.  Your father probably speeds a lot without getting a ticket, but because you’re currently looking for negatives in your father’s life, you’re discounting how often God is being gracious towards him.  We humans do this a lot: when we’re focusing on a particular theme, we mentally discount events that don’t fit that theme.  We’re not saying that your father isn’t having a tough time lately, but God is also raining down the blessings at the same time as He’s creating trials.

Now it’s easy to justify speeding when you’re not being your own idea of reckless.  But then again, speed limits are chosen based on the realities of the environment you’re driving through.  For example, the reason speed limits are set lower in residential areas is because more jaywalking happens in those areas.  There’s also a higher concentration of children, and children aren’t long on street smarts.  So just because you’re not doing zigzags all over the street doesn’t mean you’re not being reckless in the eyes of the law.  The point is that it was quite reasonable for your father to be ticketed when he knew he was intentionally blowing off the posted speed limit.  And 10-20 is not like just going 5 miles over.  There’s no point in having laws if they are not enforced, so your father really has no room for complaining about this one.  He was wrong, and God arranged things to have him get caught.  The fact that he’s viewing this as unfair just demonstrates how much he’s used to God letting him off the hook.  Taking God’s grace and mercy for granted is very common among humans.  When God keeps shielding us from the consequences we deserve, we start getting entitled, then we get bratty attitudes when He finally does give us a consequence that we know we deserve.  An effective way for God to correct this lack of gratitude is to do what He did with your father: dish out a consequence.  A ticket is very mild when you think about it.  God could have had a kid run out in front of your father too late for him to brake, then he’d end up in jail for speeding and manslaughter.  So he’s getting off very easy, and if he were to think about it, he would see that he should actually be grateful for God’s mercy here, not complaining about curses.

What about the phone? Did God twist my father’s hand so he could slip the phone into the toilet? How much is God involved in this? 50%? 70%? 100%? Is there such a thing as bad luck or just random things happening?  I really want to help him somehow, even if it’s only to give him comfort so he does feel better, but I also need to understand how much God is involved in all of this.

God is 100% involved.  There is no such thing as bad luck or randomness in God’s universe.  To understand why these things don’t exist, imagine a little girl playing dollhouse.  The plastic people she moves around the dollhouse can’t move on their own.  The girl has to move them, and she only ever moves them where and when she wants to.  Even if we were to give the characters consciousness so that the father figure could say to himself, “I want to move upstairs,” he couldn’t get there without the girl picking him up and moving his little plastic self to the top floor in the dollhouse.

Now in this analogy, the girl playing with the dollhouse is just a human, and humans are incapable of perfectly executing their will all the time.  Sometimes when the girl reaches in to move one of the plastic people, her hand accidentally knocks over some of the doll furniture.  When humans talk about “accidents,” they are talking about events which happened that they didn’t want or plan to have happen.  No one wants to spill coffee on themselves, so when this happens, they call it an “accident.”  No one wants to trip and fall on a sidewalk, so when they do, they might call it “bad luck.”  And yet when we use these terms, all we’re really doing is acknowledging how limited our control over our own lives is.  Many of the things which happen to us are things which we did not choose or want.  Where we get ridiculous is when we pretend that we are the only beings whose wills count for anything.  We say, “If a human didn’t cause it, then no one did–it was just a freak coincidence.”  You might expect such talk from an atheist, but this is a totally unacceptable way for a Christian to talk.  Christians know better than to talk as if they are the center of the universe or as if humans are the only beings who ever cause things to happen in this world.

Nothing exists that God didn’t create.  Everything He creates, He controls.  God’s control over His own creations is absolute, not partial.   This means that nothing ever happens which God doesn’t want to have happen.  God is the only Being who gets His way 100% of the time.  God never gets surprised by what happens.  He never fails to accomplish His will.  He never has any element of His creations run amuck on Him.  It’s hard for humans to grasp this kind of existence because we’re incapable of experiencing this kind of control on our own.  Even if God were to hand you the world and say, “Take over,” you wouldn’t have any idea where to start, nor would you have the mental ability to handle running a project as complex as this.  No human does.  We’re not designed to be on God’s level.  The difference between His abilities and ours is so vast that we look like incompetent halfwits compared to Him.

Right about now is when many people would ask how God’s control can coexist with human choice.  It’s very simple: God controls the choices we have, and He only gives us choices which work for Him.  For example, God gives you the option of submitting to Him or defying Him.  He tells you that one option will land you in Heaven, the other in Hell.  Both of these options please God, so if you chose Hell, He’s not disappointed, distressed, or surprised.  You’re the one who is massively impacted by the choices you make–God is fine regardless of what you choose, because He only ever gives you options which He likes.  It’s rather like you handing someone a menu of your favorite foods and saying, “Choose what we’ll have for lunch.”  No matter what the person chooses, you’ll enjoy eating with him, because you intentionally fixed the menu to benefit you.  So while the person’s choice is very real, you haven’t given him the option of choosing something that would negatively impact you.

So now let’s talk about your dad and the paint can.  When he bought the paint, someone mixed it and sealed the can.  How well did the paint guy seal the can?  Was he doing a half-baked job on purpose?  Was God giving him options to be sloppy or focused, or did the paint guy do it right and God intentionally sabotaged him?  It could have gone either way.  But then the paint goes all over your dad’s car–what’s that about?  God wanted the car to be damaged, so He made the paint can pop open.  And how about the phone in the toilet?  Well, at first glance these seem like things which God forced on your dad without any participation from him, but there could be more to it than that.  Perhaps God told your dad not to get on his phone in the bathroom, but instead to take a minute to chill.  Humans use technology to constantly distract themselves from thinking about the things God wants them to think about, and using phones while we’re going to the bathroom just demonstrates how driven and into distraction we’ve become.  God is the reason we have both the technology and the option to obsess over it.  But God is also the One convicting us to set the gizmos down for a while and turn our minds onto eternal matters.  When we refuse to–which is the common response–sometimes God responds to our refusal by deep-sixing the item we’re using to constantly tune Him out.

Because choice is a complicated affair, you want to be careful not to just buy the assessment your father gives of his situation.  Humans are far quicker to embrace the role of innocent victim than they are to take responsibility for their own choices.  At least in the speeding situation, your father was clearly in the wrong.  He might have also been blowing off convictions in the paint and phone situations–God could have told him not to put the paint in the car, not to even get involved in the painting project, and to stop getting on his phone in the bathroom.  Because you don’t know how much conviction God is giving your dad, you can’t accurately assess what kinds of soul choices your dad is making, nor can you rule out intentional rebellion on his part.  There could be a large factor of discipline going on if your dad is intentionally blowing off God’s convictions. Or this could be about God motivating your dad to reassess his priorities.

So what do you know for sure?  You know that God’s priorities for your father have to do with what is best for your father’s soul.  It sounds like your father is too attached to material things–another common issue among humans.  We all get too invested in the things of this world, and we have a very hard time separating our identity and worth from our stuff.  God is going to push your father to adjust his priorities in a way that will benefit his soul–and that means becoming less invested in good looking cars and phones.  So when you see God start trashing your father’s prized possessions, you can be sure that God has a positive spiritual lesson that He wants your father to learn.  Is your father being receptive to learning and growing through his trials?  Not while he’s playing the “I’m cursed” card.  As long as he is blaming his problems on some other malicious human or demon, he’s trying to dodge his own accountability to God.  God is causing these things to happen in order to give your father opportunities to mature spiritually–to improve his relationship with his own Creator.  The wise response would be for your father to pray, “Lord, help me learn everything that You want to teach me through these trials.  Help me grow closer to You through these things.”  That’s the prayer that will take him somewhere positive.  Fretting about non-existent curses is only going to keep him stagnating in the lie of “God would never want me to be unhappy in life.”  God certainly does want us to be unhappy if unhappiness will move us forward. It’s all fine for a two year old to play with teddy bears, but it’s not good if he’s still carrying his bear around at 30.  Transitioning to the next phase of maturity often involves some unhappiness, yet that temporary unhappiness leads to much greater happiness as we grow.

The big lesson for you in all of this is to get a deeper understanding of God’s sovereignty, as well as of His positive intentions towards humans.  God is not out to mess with your father, nor is He looking the other way while bad things happen to your father.  God doesn’t make mistakes, and His concern for your father isn’t so lacking that He lets other people assault your father while He’s off napping somewhere.  So you can be sure that God’s care of your father is constant, and that God will not allow anything to happen to your father which He doesn’t feel is beneficial to your father in some way.  But God also won’t force your father to make wise choices in life.  Instead, He gives him the option to rebel and blow off God’s convictions.

Today there are a ton of Christians trying to blame everyone but God for the bad things that happen to them.  Once you take God out of the picture, you not only escape feeling accountable to Him, but you feel justified in blaming everyone else while you pretend that you have no growing up to do yourself.  You’ll find this attitude comes up a lot in the Psalms–men rant and rail about the jerks all around them while they act like they are innocent victims (see Psalm 109: Learning from David’s Hatefest).  And yet if it’s happening to you or if it’s bothering you, then it’s about you.

There are positive spiritual lessons for both you and your father in this.  You can’t do your father’s work for him, but you can do your own.  So ask God to help you learn everything that He wants to teach you. God is intentionally using the events in your father’s life to impact you as well (for more about the concept of God using other people’s problems to affect you, see the example of Tina & Heather in Christian Prayer Groups: Why God Isn’t a Fan, and the section “Why This is Happening” in Responding to Your Child’s Serious Illness: Help for Christian Parents).  Notice how by observing your father’s problems, you’re feeling inspired to wonder about God’s involvement in our lives.  This is a fabulous step forward for you: keep going.  Understanding the sovereignty of God is critical to learning to treat Him well.  A correct understanding of His involvement with evil will also be an enormous help to you in weathering the end times well, and since that period is at the door, you really want to jump on this sovereignty thing and ask God to show you His truth.

Recommended:
God’s Absolute Sovereignty: Essential Theology
The Illusion of Bad Luck
Witches & Warlocks vs. the Holy Spirit  (This post explains the power of curses.)
If God controls everything, how is it fair that He punishes us for making certain choices?
God’s Will vs. Human Choice Q&A
Your End Times Faith Crisis: Staying Aligned with a Scary God
Understanding the Purpose of Terror in the End Times

224. I read the The Process & Purpose of Being Dominated by God. I want to understand something more clearly: so in order to achieve intimacy with God, we have to respond well to His invitations right?

Correct.  We need to be saying “yes” to Him a whole lot more than we’re saying “no.”

But what I want to better understand is, are His invitations just limited to the insights He gives us? Or do we get closer to Him by simply obeying Him continually…….and pondering the insights He gives us etc?

God’s invitations come in many forms.  Let’s use a human analogy here.  Joe likes Jane, and he is trying to signal her that he likes her.  How does he do this?  He uses many different tools: words, body language, eye contact, expression, proximity.  Jane is able to pick up on all of these cues.  When she sees Joe edging towards her in a room, laughing at her jokes, smiling extra wide when their eyes meet, and rushing to pick up her keys for her when they fall, Jane is getting the message that Joe likes her.  In the same way, God is constantly inviting you closer to Him through many different methods. The way He arranges your circumstances, the trials He puts you through, the timing of His blessings, little things He whispers to your soul–He communicates with you in a wide variety of ways, and you are constantly responding to those communications.  Your mind doesn’t bother to translate most of these communications into words, just as humans don’t bother to verbalize many of the things they communicate to each other using facial expressions and physical touch.

Also, is intimacy with God relative to an individual who He grants it too? For example Enoch and Elijah might have known God on intimate levels (considering He skipped the whole death process with) more differently than Moses or Abraham. Can you describe what intimacy with God looks like in more detail in more tangible terms ( I understand that would be easier said than done)?

It varies widely from person to person.  Imagine an alpha leader kind of man who is into war games, hunting, and all things rough and rugged.  Then imagine a man who is very docile and emotive.  The second man is an artist who loves painting pictures and doing arts and crafts.  The artist would hate being dragged through some overnight hiking trip.  The artist would feel very distressed and repulsed by shooting some innocent animal to death. But the outdoorsman thrives in his rugged activities and he’d loathe being stuck in a chair having to paint some boring picture.  Each man really enjoys his own life, but the two of them would hate to trade places.  They each have some great skills, but they are different skills which require different interests to even enjoy.

God is obsessed with variety, and He has intentionally designed humans to want different kinds of relationships with Him. Some Christians talk about God having to “whack them over the head many times” in order to get their attention.  But they say this cheerfully, because they are wired to want a more abrasive, intense kind of dynamic with Him.  Meanwhile, other Christians would be crushed if God ever spoke to them harshly, and with these souls, He is much gentler.  God has already decided what kind of dynamic He wants to have with you, and He’s given you the qualities you need to find that dynamic very satisfying.  Are you there yet?  No, and until you are, you will find aspects of your relationship with God very dissatisfying.  Just as you wouldn’t want to eat a half baked cake that is still all lumpy and soggy in the middle, you aren’t going to feel very satisfied with your relationship with God until it progresses to a certain point.  But the final result will be something that greatly appeals to you personally, even though it won’t appeal to many other humans who were designed to want something different than what you have.

Is it that an individual becomes so in tune with God that they would know His will for their life in the most intricate ways, such as knowing what to cook for dinner or what outfit to wear for the day?

No.  The ability to anticipate God’s next move has nothing to do with being intimate with Him.  You can know what your enemy is planning to do in a day, but such knowledge doesn’t cause you to like the man or feel personally close to him.  Today Christians are putting way too much importance on future knowledge.  They think that if someone has future knowledge, that’s an indication of maturity or of God’s approval of them.  And yet God could tell you all kinds of things about the future while being totally disgusted with you.  So you don’t want to confuse the concepts of God sharing His future plans with you and Him approving of you.  As a human, you do much better when God does not tell you the future, because such information quickly distresses and distracts you from more important things.

Intimacy with God also has nothing to do with you turning into some kind of robot who is so busy obeying God that you lose all sense of individuality.  God wants you to have your own opinions.  In no way are we going to “merge” into Him and lose all sense of self.  There are many false religions which promote the idea that truly evolving means losing all sense of your own identity as you become “one” with whatever being or force it is that that religion is fixated on.  And yet God intentionally designed humans with the ability to choose, and He has no intention of taking that ability away.  So while you’re growing closer to God, you are still going to be you. You will also be increasingly aware of the difference between you and God.  Intimacy with God causes us to be more aware, not less, of the fact that God is a very different kind of Being than we are. Our understanding of reverence, submission, trust, and dependency continuously deepens, and this results in massive respect for God.  He doesn’t become like an equal to us.  Instead, He grows in magnificence, and we learn to embrace our subservient position to Him on much deeper levels.  Since we were created to serve God–not act as His peers–we actually grow more satisfied in the relationship as our understanding of His supremacy increases.  This is counter intuitive, for in human dynamics, feeling close and comfortable with someone often comes paired with feeling more like their equal.  And yet with God, the opposite occurs: the more we realize how superior to us He is, the more satisfied we are.  This all comes back to our basic wiring: we were designed to revolve around Him–not to co-rule with Him (as the apostle Paul would suggest).

The manner in which God will communicate His will to you in the day to day, and how much future information He’ll give you depends on what kind of dynamic He wants with you.  He might not be interested in commanding you regarding outfits and meals–remember that He wants you to retain choice.  So He will continue to present you with options, and often He won’t tell you to choose one over the other.

Examples of Abraham and Moses holding fluid conversations with God clearly give evidence that their dynamic with God was at an elevated level. Can we expect these same types of interactions with our Creator? 

Judas personally walked with Jesus for three years, only to end up betraying Him in the end. John also walked with Jesus, and he even witnessed special moments like the Transfiguration, yet his NT writings depict a man whose arrogance has completely run amuck.  So you don’t want to confuse sensuality with depth.  Sure, Moses spoke with Yahweh face to face.  Moses also told Yahweh that he’d rather be eternally damned with the Israelites than continue on without them.  In other words, Moses cared more about rebellious twerps than he did Yahweh.  Sure, Moses had enough reverence to stay sort of obedient.  But far too often we find him siding with people who hate God and trying to talk God out of drawing any boundaries.  How “devoted” can you be if you’re always telling God to calm down and get over Himself?  How much do you really value the relationship if you’re trying to use it as a bargaining tool?

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Gideon, Adam, Eve–the Bible records many accounts of humans having very personal, face-to-face encounters with God.  Yet very often we find the same people totally rejecting God.  So the fact that God physically gets in someone’s face tells you nothing about how He really feels about that person.  The fact that someone is functioning as a prophet or preacher and receiving actual words and visions from God does not at all mean that things are going well between that human and God.  We’re always telling people to focus on soul attitudes instead of the sensual experiences, because the sensual experiences aren’t what intimacy with God is built on.  It’s the cultivation of right soul attitudes which ends up maturing you and creating a strong bond between you and God.  To be close to Him, you have to first learn how to approach Him correctly, and that requires the development of the soul attitudes which He says please Him.  You can’t march up to God with some entitled attitude, demanding that He perform for you.  You can’t make any demands of Him, because demanding is the opposite of submission, and God won’t offer intimacy to those who are trying to boss Him around.  There’s a whole humbling process that you have to go through in order to lock into the right position with Him.  Humility is huge with God–He hates it when we get all arrogant with Him.

What you’re basically asking is how satisfied you’ll be with God.  You think of satisfaction in terms of sensual experiences, because that’s all you know from this earthly experience.  Well, God designed you for the purpose of relating to Him. Does He know how to satisfy you?  Yes.  Does He have to use sensual encounters to do that?  No.  Your dynamic with God is a whole different game than your dynamic with humans.   The rules are not the same.  To find peace of mind, you need to realize that you are venturing out into something that is totally unknown to you.  Then you need to trust that God knows what He’s doing.  He’s the same God who created all of the things that bring you great joy in this world–He knows how to make you feel utterly delighted in your relationship with Him. But if you want to experience His best, you have to resolve to wait for Him to unfold things at a pace and order which He knows is best.  Many stages of spiritual maturity are very unpleasant and thus we decide that they are utterly useless, so we get frustrated.  But God knows what He’s doing.  He designed us for specific purposes, and achieving those purposes is very easy for Him.  So, if you continue towards intimacy with God, then will your future relationship with Him turn out to be like you’re imagining it will be today?  No.  It will be vastly different, but it will also be way better than you could have imagined.  Before we get into the deep waters, we don’t have the ability to accurately imagine what it will be like–our imaginations simply don’t stretch that far.  But once you’re there, you’ll know it’s where you were designed to be, and you’ll be eternally glad that you paid the price.

223. If I tell God to “go to hell” what will happen?

In the time it’s taken you to decide to ask us this question, you’ve already told God to go to hell many times.  Few people understand how spiritual communication works, so they think they haven’t said something to God until they say it with words.  But in reality, you talk to God with your soul, and when your soul is fuming at God, He knows it.  You don’t have any thoughts or feelings that God doesn’t know about. Between you and Him, you have zero privacy, and no ability to keep secrets from Him.  He, on the other hand, has total control over how much information you know about Him and He is extremely secretive.  So right from the start, this is a very different kind of dynamic than you’re used to having with another human.

Your soul uses a non-verbal language which is much faster and more efficient than the verbal language you use to communicate to other people.  When you talk to God, your soul always says something first, then your brain tries to summarize what your soul has said.  So when you go to say a prayer, for example, by the time you start forming the words in your head, your soul has already said the whole thing to God, and He’s already responded (for more about this, see Brain-Soul Mechanics: Sorting Out the Voices.

So then, since you’re already telling God to go to hell, yet here you still are, you can see that He hasn’t struck you down with lightning.  In real life, people who verbally lash out at God are usually trying to provoke Him into giving them a certain type of response.  We often use anger to try and control God, just as we do with other humans.  But we quickly discover that God is impossible to intimidate, coerce, or manipulate, and this tends to make us even angrier.

So what should you do when you’re super mad at God?  You need to figure out what’s really triggering your anger.  Usually the issue is that God has done something which you totally disapprove of–something which you feel He has no right to do.  All humans struggle with this issue.  Christians who pretend that they’re never angry at God are either consciously lying to you, they’re in denial, or they haven’t been hit with sufficient stress yet.  It really doesn’t take much for God to move the most devoted soul into a screaming freakout.  We humans are very upset by much of what God does.

Now a key point to understand is that humans commonly use anger as a cover for fear and/or pain.  Often with God, His upsetting behavior is triggering deep fears or pain in us, and this is what we’re really reacting to.  Because God wants a meaningful relationship with you, and not some superficial thing, He will intentionally step on your buttons in order to provoke you into facing the fact that those buttons are there. God wants you to be totally honest with Him, and He wants to deal with your core issues, and that means you need to go deeper than just flinging a bunch of insults at Him.  God does not crumble in the face of threats like other humans do.  He doesn’t need any of us, so when we threaten to cut ties with Him unless He conforms to our agenda, we’re just wasting our breath.  God has all of the power in your relationship with Him, and you have all of the accountability.  So if you want to benefit from Him provoking you, then you need to ask Him to help you understand what’s driving your anger and show you the best way to deal with it.  Focusing on the soul attitude of submission is the key to finding peace in these situations.  There’s no way you can ever conquer or control God.  He’s in your business and you can’t get rid of Him, which means you need to find a way to try and make peace with His actions and His absolute advantage over you in every area.

Talking to God about your negative feelings towards Him is an essential part of moving closer to Him. You won’t get far at all by pretending that God never makes you feel angry, hurt, or afraid in life.  As a human, you experience a wide range of emotions towards God, and He will teach you to share all of those emotions with Him.  For a more in depth discussion on this issue, see the following posts:

Angry at God
Sticking It To God: What Every Really Angry Soul Needs to Know
Cussing God Out: How Our Meltdowns Move Us Forward
The Process & Purpose of Being Dominated by God

222. Since it is your view that Paul does not believe in the Divinity of Jesus, how then do you explain Colossians 1:16? I really do see what you are saying. I have seen it for years. Paul does seem to stop just short of proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and in some passages, from that standpoint, seems to identify Him as only another man. If that is true I have a serious problem with Paul. However, Colossians 1:16 doesn’t describe any kind of man I have ever known: a man who existed before creation, whom God created the world through. It sounds like Paul is saying Christ is God. On another note, this idolizing of the Bible I began to catch onto when I was in college in my mid twenties. I think you are right in saying that the Bible has become an idol, even though I do believe it comes from God, just like Nehushtan.

Good question!  (And for those who are wondering who Nehushtan is, see The Fate of the Bronze Snake).  It’s quite true that humans have a long history of worshiping the material props God uses when interacting with them–just look at the mess we’ve made out of Jesus’ blood & cross.

Now regarding Paul.  As much as we’d like the man to not be a complete spiritual nimrod, one very brief poetic moment in Colossians just isn’t enough to save him.  And if you’ll look above and below his poetic  verses, you’ll find more of his idiocy showing.  In Col. 1:13, he says of Yahweh:

 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. (Col. 1:13)

Once you understand that Paul thinks Yahweh was literally trumped by sin, death, and Satan, it becomes quite tiresome to hear him referring to Yahweh as saving us from anything using Christ. You see, the problem is that there is no other force which we must be rescued from.  Yahweh, Christ and the Holy Spirit reign supreme over all created things.  Human beings were not kidnapped by “darkness.”  In the OT, you won’t find any of this demon exalting garbage about Yahweh struggling to rescue humans from the forces of evil.  It’s more like He says that if humans defy Him, it will be His wrath that nails them.  Yahweh exalts Himself as both the Savior and the Destroyer in the OT.  But thanks to the idiocy of the NT writers, today we draw pictures of Jesus and Satan playing chess with human beings portrayed as the chess pieces.  The whole notion that God and demons are duking it out as equals is something we get from Paul and John–men who so foolishly credited Satan with ruling the world.

According to Paul, Yahweh made humans, but then “Sin” and “Death” took all humans hostage.  Since Yahweh was too inept to find a way to save us on His own, He had to come up with Christ to assist Him (see Romans 5).  What is Paul doing with the entire Old Testament?  It’s like he just kisses off thousands of years of Yahweh demonstrating how gracious and able He is.  Plus, Yahweh’s absolute sovereignty is a major theme throughout the OT, and the OT was the only “Bible” Paul had available to him.  So you really can’t promote Christ as essential for salvation without slamming Yahweh.  Teaching that They made some dramatic changes to how They were interacting with us is quite correct–today we must submit to multiple Gods, whereas the OT Jews only had to submit to Yahweh.  But making Yahweh out to be in constant competition with some “domain of darkness” is utterly demeaning to Yahweh.

Now as much as it sounds like Paul is finally elevating Christ properly in vs. 15-20, keep reading and you’ll find Paul actually trying to trump Christ in vs. 24 with this utterly obnoxious comment:

 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His body, that is, the church. (Col. 1:24)

Really??  So Christ did some half-baked job on the cross and now Paul is coming along behind Him and completing what was “lacking” in Christ??  The man’s ego knows no boundaries.  And of course Paul then goes on to credit himself and other apostles for spiritually maturing others, even though this is something which only God can do.

We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Col. 1:28)

No, no, no, mere mortals don’t get to take one iota of credit for maturing others.  Paul really didn’t march up to Heaven with a bunch of completed “projects” which he could then take the bows for.  The man was such a glory hog.

When you stack up all of the garbage Paul slings about both Yahweh and Christ, and you put that up against one little poem in Colossians, what do you have?  The negatives far outweigh the positives.

So how do we explain the Colossians poem?  Well, for starters, Paul is full of contradictions in his writings.  First he exalts Christ as some kind of Divine being, only to then claim that he is personally having to complete what Christ “lacked.”  Second, Paul actually boasts of having a chameleon style as a preacher–changing his words and emphasis to fit what he thinks his audience will want to hear.

Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. (1 Cor. 9:20)

Don’t miss how Paul is constantly taking the credit for saving people, even though salvation is actually a result of God illuminating souls, and those souls choosing to make wise choices–none of which Paul can take any ounce of credit for. So no, Paul really isn’t stacking up converts like trophies.  The man can take credit for nothing when it comes to other people’s spiritual progress.  If he actually knew Yahweh, he would understand how much Yahweh detests this kind of arrogance, and he’d be giving the glory to God alone instead of bragging about how good he is at conning people into accepting the truth with his deceptive airs.

In Galatians, Paul has a grand time ripping on Peter for acting like “one under the law”, yet here in 1 Corinthians, he boasts of acting “like a Jew, to win Jews.”  Of course the letter of Galatians was directed at Gentiles, and Paul was trying to gain a higher rank than Peter in their eyes, which was why he chose to bash Peter.  In 1 Cor., he’s talking to a mixed audience, so he’s boasting of how flexible he is.  In Colossians, he obviously thinks his audience will be impressed by him exalting Christ, so he breaks out some lofty sounding poem.  And yet if you put his letters in chronological order, it’s his letters to Timothy which were written last, thus those letters would reflect his views about Christ at the end of his life.  Had he finally matured out of the delusion that Christ was merely a human?  This statement kills all hope of that:

 For there is one God (Yahweh) and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people.(1 Tim. 2:5)

Paul clearly remained a strict monotheist until the very end.  But remember that his whole dream was to be equal to Christ in eternity–a reward he felt he was earning with his hard lot on earth.

…and if children, also heirs—heirs of Yahweh and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Christ so that we may also be glorified with Christ. (Rom. 8:17)

Once you realize that Christ is the One Paul expects to share power with, then naturally Paul will want to imagine that Christ has tons of power to share.  So Paul definitely wants Christ to be exalted, because that ultimately benefits Paul, who plans to co-reign with Christ. And Paul doesn’t mind Christ reigning alongside Yahweh for now–but only temporarily. Paul wants to imagine that Yahweh will soon knock Christ back down a few levels in order to make it clear that Christ is not equal to God.

After that the end will come, when Christ will turn the Kingdom over to Yahweh the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until He humbles all His enemies beneath His feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:24-26)

Now when it says that “everything” has been put under Christ, it is clear that this does not include Yahweh Himself, who put everything under Christ. And when everything is subject to Christ, then Christ Himself will be made subject to the One who put everything under Him, so that Yahweh may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:25-28)

Not only does these verses speak to the temporariness of Christ’s reign, and to Christ being subordinate to Yahweh, but notice how Paul perceives Christ as having not yet conquered His foes.  How Divine can Christ be if He’s got a bunch of foes who He can’t quite seem to beat?  Paul portrays Christ as still intensely battling with a whole array of enemies–the most powerful of which is “death.”  And yet he writes this long after Christ has resurrected–an act which was supposed to prove that Christ had conquered death. But then again, since Paul thinks Yahweh had to raise Christ back up, perhaps this is why he portrays Christ as still needing to personally defeat death.  So clearly Paul doesn’t think as much of Christ as his Colossians 1 poem implies.  And this is very typical of Paul–the few statements he makes which actually seem to be honoring Christ or Yahweh are quickly undone by statements which knock Them back down to a level of ability which is greater than a human’s, but only equal to a demon’s (hence Their endless grappling with the powers of darkness).

Even the Colossians poem itself has contradictory language.  First Paul describes Yahweh creating all things through Christ, which would suggest that Christ has supremacy with Yahweh.  But then Paul says:

Christ is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. (Col. 1:18)

A human dies–not a God.  So calling Christ the “firstborn from the dead” greatly reduces Him.  Then Paul says that Christ did all this so that He could become first–so is He first or isn’t He?  He’s not, according to everything else Paul writes. But then again, a human can’t be first over God, and since Yahweh is the only God Paul recognizes, his minimization of Christ is inevitable.

221. It seems that God has very clearly set a pattern that all life follows: we’re born, educated (albeit in different ways depending on culture), and then we spend most of our life working to earn money, before finally retiring. What are His reasons for setting it up this way? Why does it have to be this way? There are some people that end up devoting their life to ministries that don’t necessarily follow this pattern (such as you, Pursuit of God). But it is confusing to me whether this is the path God wants me to go. What are some ways to discern this?

There are fabulous benefits to the system of having to work in order to provide for our basic needs.  Learning dependency is a critical part of growing closer to God.  Accepting how fragile and limited we are is another key aspect of spiritual maturity.  By saddling us with many needs, God greatly limits how much trouble we can get into.  When you consider how much we forget Him within the current system, imagine how much worse things would be if we had endless energy and endless resources.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that the full-time ministry route is superior to the “normal” working route.  First, ministry is a ton of work.  Second, your needs and limitations follow you everywhere.  Third, the fact that someone is calling their work “ministry” does not at all mean that it is beneficial to anyone or pleasing to God.  Just as you can choose to work in an industry which does harm instead of good, you can also choose to “minister” in a way that only spreads deception and injury to others.  The fellow who is doing quality work at a fast food joint is being far more beneficial to society and pleasing to God than the full-time “deliverance minister” who spends his days spiritually deceiving and manipulating others.  A janitor who helps create a clean work environment is doing far more good than some lying prophet who is spreading false words from God.  Like the term Christian, the term ministry does not mean anything by itself.  You have to look closer to see if the thing is of any value or not.

Now if you’re doing it right, then you’re not trying to sell God to people, and that means you have some unique financial challenges.  You still have to eat and live somewhere when you’re in ministry, and if you’re not bilking your fellow brothers in the Lord, then where is your money coming from?  Since God is not a fan of having other humans tell Him what to do, it’s very hard to find organized ministry efforts which aren’t up to their necks in carnality and compromise.  And yet working directly for God and cutting out all the human guff requires a lot of training.  That’s training from God that we’re talking about–not some ridiculous seminar where humans teach you how to ignore God’s convictions and rely on your own logic.  Often God chooses to train people for full-time ministry by first having them work regular jobs–and often those jobs come with all kinds of hassles.  You have to learn how to chuck your own agenda and preferences if you’re going to work with God.  He doesn’t want a bunch of whining about how you think He’s doing it wrong (even though you will think He’s doing it wrong a lot of the time).  God delights in doing things counter-intuitively, and that drives humans up the wall until He teaches us to get over ourselves.  There’s just nothing fun about developing the kind of submission you need to be able to thrive in full-time ministry. So this isn’t just some game you jump into for an easy ride.  If God wants you to do this kind of work, you won’t have to wonder–you will know it.  He will make the call very clear to you, then He’ll drag you through a bunch of miserable preparations before finally launching you.  Most people try to cut the prep time short, which always ends in disaster.  There is no shortcut to maturity, and when we try to skip ahead, we’re just trying to take the lead instead of practicing submission.

So then, to answer your question: why doesn’t God call most people into full-time ministry?  Because there’s nothing magical about ministry–He can use regular jobs to get you all the maturity lessons He wants.  The second reason is that most people aren’t willing to do ministry right.  They want to do it for social perks and glory.  But if you’re doing it right, there aren’t going to be perks and glory.  This isn’t to say that there isn’t a great joy in serving God, because there is.  But the kind of joy that comes from doing ministry right has nothing to do with other people–it has to do with your own walk with God.  If you don’t have a solid foundation with Him going into it, then you’re going to try and get your motivation from all the lives you’re changing, and that system is guaranteed to lead you astray.

Ministry isn’t something you want to rush into.  It’s a calling, and you shouldn’t touch it unless God is choosing you to get involved.  If He’s not calling you, don’t be jealous of those who are called, because it’s not like they have some sweet deal while you’re left out in the cold.  God loves variety and He wants us all to have different dynamics with Him.  When you’re not called to preach, you wouldn’t enjoy trying to force it.  When you are called, you must preach, because it’s burning within you.  But just as you don’t go through life jealous of the fact that other people like different foods than you do, there’s no point in going through life jealous of the fact that God calls us all to serve Him in different ways.  Ministry comes with a ton of responsibility and extra accountability.  When you start teaching people about God, you end up held to a higher standard by God because He’s taught you more.  And while you’re ministering, you still have a ton of personal maturing that you have to do, so it’s not like you’re getting out of anything.

You don’t want to touch ministry until you are certain God is commanding you to get involved, at which point He’ll tell you what to do.  You need to know for sure that it’s His will to minister through you, because if it’s not, you’re only going to end up on the wrong side of His patience.

Recommended articles:
Christians without Callings: You are Just as Special to God
Being Called by God: The Responsibility & The Risk
Understanding Why God Calls Us to Serve Him
Saving Souls & Changing Lives: Wrong Reasons to Go Into Ministry

220. Before I introduce a new song at church, I always do my best to make sure it’s theologically sound. So I carefully think about it and then ask for second opinions (including Christians on the internet). I came upon an article written here by Anna Diehl called Corrupted Worship Songs: Your Grace is Enough. I appreciate your common commitment to fidelity in worship songs.

Question: Why are these lines accusatory, as Anna asserts: “Remember Your people / Remember Your children / Remember Your promise O God”?

I feel like if you have a problem with these lines, then you have a problem with King David, Asaph and the Psalms, too. Compare those lines with Psalm 74:2, Psalm 119:49, Psalm 25:6. Are these any different? Is the inspired Psalmist accusing God? I count at least 12 times that a Psalmist asks God to remember something!

First–fabulous job doing some critical thinking!  As a worship leader, you have a huge responsibility to honor God by encouraging the flock to model the soul attitudes that He says please Him (i.e., trust, reverence, submission, dependency, humility, mercy, compassion, etc.).

Now because the biblical psalms are so exalted among Christians–first for being “Divinely inspired”, and second for being a wealth of inspiring promises and worshipful sentiments–it’s very easy to figure: “It’s a psalm, so how can it be wrong??”

Here is where we encourage you to crank that critical thinking up a notch and ask God for His take on those psalms.

Do we have a problem with the book of Psalms?  We certainly do–and you will as well if you take a closer look.  You see, many of the psalms are filled with terrible soul attitudes: griping at God, wallowing in doubt, rejecting truths that God claims about Himself, standing on promises that God never authorized–they’re a major mess.  But now let’s talk specifics.

When David was focused and in the right frame of mind, he could really write some winners.  Psalm 23 & Psalm 139 are excellent praise songs that celebrate what a fabulous God Yahweh is.

But when David was in brat mode, out came the snark.  Psalm 109 is one long hate fest in which David totally blows off Yahweh’s demands for His followers to emphasize love and mercy.  Then we’ve got Psalm 35–another whine fest in which David exalts himself above his enemies and demands that Yahweh obliterate everyone who David is personally feeling harassed by.

Now as a modern day worship leader, you’re working with Christians under the New Covenant.  This means you need to really be on your toes when you go dipping into the Old Testament for inspiration, because that was Old Covenant theology.  Yahweh was the only God being worshiped in those days, and there were some significant differences in the kind of assurances Old Covenant believers could have.  Take that business of Yahweh’s Spirit resting on His anointed ones.  Everyone knew that if you ticked Yahweh off, He would take His Spirit away, and then you’d really be in a mess.  David knew all about the horrifying situation that Saul was left in once Yahweh rejected him.  Yahweh took His Spirit off of Saul and sent demons to plague him instead–what a nightmare!  So David had reason to freak out in Psalm 51, when he pleads for Yahweh not to take His Spirit away.  But then again, Psalm 51 was written after Nathan had confronted David about the mess with Bathsheba.  David had already repented, and Yahweh had already told David that David was forgiven.  So given all of this, was it really God-honoring for David to plead for Yahweh not to take His Spirit away?  No, it wasn’t.  David was rejecting the mercy and forgiveness that Yahweh had already given him.  In Psalm 51 he’s pleading and crying for something that he already has.  Can we all identify with David?  Absolutely. But we also need to call things by their right names.  David is modeling a lack of faith and a refusal to trust in Psalm 51–then we turn around and write “Create In Me a Clean Heart” so that Christians today can all stand around insulting Yahweh again.

You see, the worship hour isn’t the time to air our doubts and insecurities.  It’s supposed to be a time when we worship God–and that means we practice embracing the truths He has revealed to us, and we practice modeling the soul attitudes which He says please Him.  So there’s no room for garbage like “Create in Me a Clean Heart.”

Now old Asaph can get as impatient and attitudinal as David.  He also likes to put words in Yahweh’s mouth like the rest of the psalm writers (see Psalm 82: Asaph Wants Yahweh to Judge the Wicked).  But there’s a huge difference between a man saying what he wishes God would say and God actually speaking for Himself.  God didn’t write the book of Psalms–as the immense amount of carnal dribble in that book reveals.  Men wrote the psalms–men who were in a wide range of moods.  It’s filled with human desires, human biases, and a bunch of human attitude.  Are there good psalms?  Absolutely, but there’s a lot more with problems, and some of those problems are severe, such as in the case of the God-bashing Psalm 137.

So to address your question regarding “Your Grace is Enough”–what’s wrong with asking God to remember something He already said?  Everything.  God is not a human.  He doesn’t have short term memory problems.  God isn’t fickle like we are.  He is incredibly faithful, kind, and wonderfully compassionate.  When we ask God to “remember” something, that’s the same as accusing Him of forgetting that same thing.  That is a very insulting way for us to talk to God Almighty.

Notice the sheer hypocrisy of “Your Grace is Enough”–we start off by singing “Great is Your faithfulness, oh God.”  Well, if God is so faithful, why on earth are we acting like He spaces on the promises He gives us?  But notice how it’s not just God’s promises we’re begging Him to remember–we’re asking Him to remember His people and His children.  Really??  So now we’re accusing God of forgetting about the existence of His own followers??  What kind of airhead do we think He is?  Can you imagine telling a human father, “Hey man, don’t forget that you have kids”?  Of course not–human fathers don’t forget such things.  But then we sing a song to God in which we’re talking to Him like He doesn’t even have the memory retention of a mere mortal.

We can’t worship God while we’re talking down to Him.  “Your Grace is Enough” is far too condescending and insulting to qualify as a worship song.  But it’s really quite rare for any worship leader to even care enough to ponder these things, so keep it up!  Ask God to help you really honor Him in your role as worship leader and He will.  God doesn’t expect us to be able to know everything from day one–maturity is a process.  But He does want us to sincerely care about honoring Him.  If you have that, He will take you far.  If you decide He’s just not worth the effort–well, you really don’t want to go there.  Leading the flock in any capacity increases your accountability to God so you need to take this issue very seriously and ask Him to make you all that He wants you to be.

Now you mentioned Psalm 74–that psalm is a fabulous example of irreverent snark.  To understand why, see Psalm 74: Asaph Flaunts His Contempt for Yahweh.

218. FaithfulWarrior000

Based on what you shared, here are some things that might be helpful for you to consider:

Technology.

By itself, technology is not evil or good–it’s just lifeless machinery.  What makes it good or bad is how people apply it.  You can use a phone to cheer someone up, or you can use a phone to tear someone down.  As technology connects the entire globe, there is great potential to use the internet to do wonderful things.  And where there is great potential to do good, there is also great potential to do bad.  Today the internet is used for both good and bad things.  As an individual, you have choices about how you will use technology in your own life.  You don’t need to view it as an evil that is out to get you.  You can control it’s function in your life–you don’t need to let it control you.

Avoidance indicates fear.

When you see yourself trying hard to avoid something, it is because you feel threatened by whatever that thing is.  You’re telling yourself that you’re avoiding things for moral reasons–because you are a person who is super faithful to God.  But we would suggest that you are actually very afraid of the things you are avoiding.  It’s not about you being an extra good person–it’s about you feeling very intimidated by certain things.

The kinds of fears you’re dealing with cause a lot of personal stress.  If you keep going like you are, your stress levels will continue to rise, and you’ll be forced to start hiding out from other people and the world in general.  There are better ways to deal with this kind of fear.

Regarding your fear of technology: you are not recognizing how many choices you have.  Your personal priorities have a lot to do with how technology affects you.  Yes, many people are being negatively affected by social forums like Facebook and Twitter.  But other people are using those things in positive ways and they are not addicted to them or letting them ruin their ability to relate.  There is value in being familiar with things that the whole world is using–especially if you’re planning to go into some kind of public ministry.  God has compassion on all people.  He understands what drives people to drink, party, and hide out from real relationships.  Rather than stand back and condemn everyone who is doing these things, it would be better for you to ask God to help you see people through His gracious eyes.  Right now it sounds like you’re viewing yourself as someone who is morally superior to the people around you.  You know that your lifestyle is extreme, yet you get angry at anyone who points that out to you.  It’s okay for you to criticize them, but it’s not okay for them to criticize you.  You’ve got a very hostile view of other people and you’re not making an effort to appreciate that other people have their own fears and insecurities.  These are all good growth opportunities for you.  Developing more compassion will help you feel less stressed and angry.

Your fear of looking at adult human bodies is very extreme and indicates you have made some very negative associations with human anatomy.  God does not find the human body disgusting to look at.  He loves His creative designs.  The fact that you don’t have a problem looking at girl’s chests, yet you panic over seeing women’s breasts and adult legs suggests that you are actually panicking over the feeling of being sexually aroused.  Kids don’t sexually arouse you, so they feel safe to you.  But adult anatomy is stirring up natural feelings in you which you clearly feel are evil, so you are taking extreme steps to try and avoid that experience.  Again, fears like this need to be dealt with at their core, otherwise they will really hamper your life.

To put bodily exposure in perspective, it helps to realize that “modesty” is a culturally defined concept.  There are communities of people who live in hot steamy jungles.  Because it’s so hot, no one wears clothes.  The men run around with a coconut shell covering their privates, while the women are topless.  In such societies, being naked like this is the norm–it’s not considered immodest.  People are used to it–they don’t look at each other and feel like they’re watching porn.

In America, we are definitely moving towards undressing more and more–especially with women.  Because this culture has different clothing standards, being uncovered is considered sexually arousing.  So when women hang out their chests, they are trying to spark sexual arousal in others.  Is this what you should be doing?  No, you want to be modestly covered.  We explain what modest standards for American women are in Clothes, Makeup & Jewelry: Guidance for Christian Women.  But it sounds like you are taking things to an extreme.  In America, shorts and skirts are considered to be normal attire.  Now modest shorts would reach down to your thigh–not be at butt level.  A woman who is wearing modest shorts is not being inappropriate in this culture.  The typical shorts worn by American men are on the long side, and that is also considered normal.  It sounds like you have developed your own standards of modesty which are far stricter than American norms.  While it’s fine for you to personally dress as modestly as you want to, it’s not fair for you to condemn others for doing what their culture says is okay.  Also, you need to realize that this culture puts an enormous emphasis on external appearance.  Women are taught that if they don’t look sexually appealing, they are worthless.  In an effort to try and feel like they have value, a lot of American women are intentionally displaying as much skin as possible.  Once you understand the insecurities that drive this kind of behavior, you should have compassion for these women and realize how miserable it is for them to feel like their worth as humans is being judged by how their body looks.  To just look down on them as immoral losers is not fair, and it’s certainly not how God sees it.

God is very gracious and He cares about what’s going on in our souls.  People who are sincerely committed to God come in all kinds of packages.  Some dress very immodestly.  Some are dealing with nasty addictions.  Some use foul language. Some are very rude and difficult to deal with.  But God judges people by their soul attitudes–He doesn’t just write them off because they don’t look pretty and perfect on the outside.  You are writing a lot of people off because they aren’t meeting your personal standards of purity.  Then you’re telling yourself that your fears are evidence of your moral superiority, when in reality your fears are just fears that you need to face and deal with.  We suggest that you ask God to help you get more in alignment with His view of people, and to help you feel less threatened by the things which currently upset you.

Lastly, this business about you wanting to fail indicates another unhealthy extreme.  We can learn wonderful lessons through both our successes and failures–we shouldn’t just focus on failure.  And if you feel you don’t know how to defend yourself, you need to learn about how to hold boundaries in relationships.  Don’t just accept the idea of going through life like a doormat, or  you’ll end up being abused by others and doing a bunch of needless suffering.

Christians have come up with a lot of unhealthy beliefs about things like suffering and self-defense.  Some teach that we should seek out pain and always want to be hurting because that makes us holy.  But no, it doesn’t.  God will bring enough trials into your life–you don’t need to try and add to your suffering.  When we try to make ourselves miserable, we only end up going backwards, not forwards (see Relating to God: Recognizing the Trap of Symbolic Pain).

There’s nothing good about never defending yourself and being an easy target for abusers.  When you let others abuse you, you are hurting yourself and them.  God commands us to treat each other with respect, and often this involves us standing up for ourselves and not helping someone else disrespect us (see The Element of Power in Human Relationships).

217. Akash

Here’s a very important thing to understand about God’s conviction: He doesn’t blame you for not knowing what He hasn’t told you.

Let’s call the thing you did wrong X.  Back when you were doing X, was God convicting you that what you were doing was wrong?  It sounds like you’ve only recently come to understand God’s view of X.

X is a very popular activity among humans.  In many workplaces, employees feel it is perfectly acceptable to do X whenever they feel like it.  Let’s now liken X to abortion.  Abortion only seems like an obvious wrong after God personally teaches you how He sees it.  But many women get abortions before God teaches them that it is wrong.  Such women then respond like you are responding: they feel terrible for what they’ve done and they wish they could go back and fix it.  But you can’t undo an abortion, and your payment plan isn’t really fixing X.  Sure, you can send money to the city, but it’s not going to end up in the same budget category.

God teaching us more about what He does and doesn’t like is a critical part of spiritual growth.  So it’s actually a step forward when God explains to you that He doesn’t like you doing X.  But you’re treating it like a step backward by getting all stuck in guilt.  This is a very common way that Christians respond to new insights from God–instead of being excited about the progress they are making, they get all stuck in guilt and they worry that God is angry with them.

God knows that you can’t time travel.  You can’t change the fact that you did X in the past anymore than a woman can go back and un-abort her child.  God encourages us to move forward in life, not obsess over the past.  Often when God teaches us new things, all He wants is for us to change our behavior from today on–He doesn’t tell us to go back and try and fix what we did in the past.  The few times that God does want us to try and make up for something we did wrong in the past, He will give us very clear instructions.

Do you have clear instructions?  No.  You’ve got this vague, guilt-driven notion that you should try and pay the city.  This is a nice sounding concept, but since you have no specific amount in mind, you can easily walk into a new trap of demons nailing you with the guilt that you’ve never paid “enough”.

If God wants you to pay back the city, He will give you a specific amount.  The fact that you’re unclear and waffling indicates you do not yet have clear conviction from God, in which case you should wait.

So why is it okay to wait?  Because you can’t please God with works.  It’s all about soul attitude.  Paying the city, not paying the city–these things aren’t what counts.  What God cares about is how serious you are about pleasing Him.  We suggest that you pray something like this:

“God, I don’t want there to be any unfinished business between You and I.  I really want You to be pleased with me, so if there’s something You want me to do about this, help me to know it and do it.  I don’t want to just let demons push me around by acting on their vague guilt trips.  I know that You are very capable of making Your will clear to me, so I am trusting that You will tell me if there’s anything You want that I’m not doing.  Help me to be all that You want me to be.”

If you can honestly pray a prayer like this, then you’re in a good place.

If you can’t honestly mean all of the parts of this prayer, then don’t fake it. God hates fake. Instead, be honest with Him about where you’re stuck and ask Him to help you move forward.

God wants your soul, not your wallet.  Your money is His property anyway, so the only question is whether or not He wants you to distribute some of His property back to the city.  Meanwhile, this whole dilemma is a very useful exercise in you learning more about the concepts of conviction and Divine judgment.

Whenever you find yourself in a moral dilemma in life, focusing on submission is the key to finding peace.  You need to throw yourself into God’s hands, ask Him to have His total way with you, and then trust that He will.  We all do wrong things in life.  God isn’t interested in keeping a tally of your sins.  He wants your soul to sincerely care about pleasing Him.  When God convicts us, it’s an opportunity to honor Him with our eager desire to please Him.  But we must leave room for God to increase our understanding of His moral code without insisting that He give us a bunch of chores to do.  Sometimes God simply wants us to digest the new information.

Reading through the following posts should be very helpful to you:
Conviction Q&A
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
Escaping the Trap of Guilt
What it Means to be Aligned with God
Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Finding Peace in the Midst of Moral Dilemmas
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy

216. H6m5gd7

This denomination has some obvious issues with legalism.  Once we start saying it’s evil to listen to instrumental music or leave a strict dress code, we’re being ridiculous.  God is certainly not the One telling these people to excommunicate anyone who deviates from their long list of rules–this is just a flesh trip.

As far as your situation is concerned, you say you feel called to have some kind of ministry with these people, and yet you also seem to think that God is punishing them every time they come in contact with you.  We assume you mean that you view yourself as an instrument of His Divine discipline, and that’s definitely a view that you want to be very cautious about embracing.

Even though this cult has obvious issues, you need to remember that God illuminates individual souls at different paces.  It sounds like you’ve been personally burned by this group in the past.  Once we’ve been personally sucked into the intense social network of a religious cult, it’s very tempting to go back and try and save others from that cult’s influence.  While God has certainly positioned you to be able to identify and empathize with the people who are currently participating in this community, it’s not possible for you to make them see the truth–that’s God’s job.

The factors that attract people to cults can be complex, and they often have way more to do with psychological factors than they do with theological factors.  Certainly the whole “We’re the only true Christians” routine can be a good way to make people afraid to break ties with the cult, but there are also a lot of psychological manipulation factors at work.  It’s helpful to realize that many people respond to their personal traumas in a way that makes them feel intensely attracted to social environments in which they are being dominated and controlled.  It’s rather like the woman who gets abused as a child only to then go out and seek a husband who will abuse her.  When this kind of psychological dynamic is happening, simply pointing out the cult’s theological errors isn’t going to make people want to leave it, because they are using the cult’s intense reward/punishment system and stifling social rules to help them cope with deeper issues.  It is because  unprocessed trauma often causes us to seek out further oppression that cults do so well preying on those who are carrying around a lot of internal wounds.

A useful exercise for you would be to write out a few sentences that clearly state what you think your mission is with these people.  Then look at what you’ve written and see if it lines up with God’s priorities.  For example, you might write, “I’ve been sent here to save these people.”  In this case, you’re taking on too much responsibility for these people’s actions.  God is not going to tell you to save people, because He doesn’t give you the option of controlling the soul choices others make.

Or you might write, “I am God’s instrument of judgment on these people.  Whenever I interact with them, He strikes them with some problem.”  Here you need to ask why God would be treating you like some golden standard, when you have plenty of your own problems.  None of us have anything close to a full grasp of truth, and we’re all messes of depravity.  So the idea that God is punishing these people just because they interact with you doesn’t work.

Based on the brief summary you provided, what we’re hearing you say is the following: First, you feel God has spent years preparing you to return to these people.  Now that you’re back, you feel that He is making them run into you/interact with you only to then punish them for their interactions with you.  This sounds like you are secretly looking for revenge on a group who you feel you have been wounded by in the past, and you want to believe God is now exacting that revenge and letting you enjoy the show.  If this is an accurate description of what you feel is going on, then we would caution you that  you are definitely off course in your interpretation of this situation.  You are still harboring some very intense negative feelings towards this group which you need to further process before you will be able to work with them productively.

If you feel that what we just said is not what’s going on, then try the sentence exercise to clearly identify for yourself what you think this is about.  Remember that even when God is using you to impact other people, there will always be a growth lesson for you also, because we all still have plenty of maturing that we need to do.  You want to be focusing on your own opportunities for growth, because those are the ones which will help you in your own journey with God.

213. Sin, Repentance, & Discipline

Masturbation is one of those “taboo” subjects that many Christians have decided is a sin.  And yet there is nothing intrinsically immoral about masturbation.  Craving sex is no more sinful than craving food.  The immorality comes into it when we start talking about methods and mental focus.  For example, God doesn’t want you torturing yourself as a method of masturbation, because that’s an abuse of your body and a degradation of someone (you) who He says should be respected.  Yet it is a fact of life that there are many people who need to feel tortured in order to feel sexually arousal.  So is it immoral when these people torture themselves in order to get sexual release?  Yes, but how does God respond?  Does He just come down on these people for not respecting His value of them?  No, God is not so lacking in compassion as this.

God cares far more about why we are doing something than what we are doing.  God also understands you far better than you understand yourself–that means He has an accurate understanding of the kinds of resources you have, He understands the very complex conflict between your soul and your earthsuit, and He knows how very limited your choices are.  So while other humans are going to say you have tons of options in the moment of temptation, in real life you won’t have nearly as many options as they think you do.  What you’re falling into is the classic trap of assuming that God views you like people do: that He is calling the impossible possible and just waiting to nail you for the slightest misstep.  But, no, this is not how God operates.

The reason we’re always saying that God is so easy to succeed with is that He judges us so differently than humans do. While humans judge you by your earthsuit’s actions and desires, God judges you by your soul’s response to Him.  These are two vastly different judgment systems.

Your earthsuit doesn’t give a flip about God’s moral code, and there’s nothing you can do to change this.  When Christians recycle Paul’s guff about being “new creations in Christ,” they are suggesting (as Paul does) that God changed the nature of our earthsuits at salvation.  Well, no, He really didn’t, which is why your earthsuit enjoys sinning now just as much as it did before you were saved.

It is your soul that is relating to God–not your earthsuit.  Your soul cares about what God thinks, and your soul wants to do right.  At the same time, your earthsuit doesn’t care at all about God, and it is wired to intensely crave many things which God says are wrong.  The only way your soul will find peace in this situation is if it has the option of constantly overriding your earthsuit: of forcing your earthsuit to always submit to the will of your soul.  For example, when your earthsuit sees some sexy woman walking down the street, it’s going to lust and feel aroused and think, “Sweet.  Wouldn’t I love to make out with her!”  Your soul knows God says lusting after other another woman like this is wrong, so your soul will say, “Stop it!  Your lusting repulses me!”  What effect will your soul’s protest have on your earthsuit’s desires?  None.  You can’t stop your body from feeling turned on sexually in a moment like that–it’s instinct.  The best your soul can do is try and stop your earthsuit from following through on those desires, by say, going over to the woman and trying to con her into having sex with you.  But here’s where it gets sticky again, because your soul cannot restrain your earthsuit without God’s empowerment.  If God is not empowering you to resist a temptation, then you’ll be like a man who lassos a wild stallion only to get dragged by the beast through a field.  The soul-earthsuit fight is not evenly matched.  Your earthsuit will get it’s way every time unless God steps up and helps you.  God does step up and help you–but not nearly as often or as completely as Christians say.

The cycle you’re stuck in works like this:

1. You get hit with a temptation to do something you know is wrong.

2. Your soul wants to do right, your earthsuit wants to sin.

3. Your soul takes responsibility for your earthsuit’s desires while discounting it’s own desire to do right.

Here’s where it all falls apart.  God judges you by your soul, and your soul wants to honor Him, so He is pleased with you.  God doesn’t blame you for having an earthsuit that wants to wallow in sin, because He knows you didn’t choose that.  God only judges you by your soul’s response to Him.

4. God withholds the empowerment He knows you need to stop your earthsuit from sinning.

5. Your earthsuit gets its way, much to the frustration of your soul.

6. Your soul takes the blame for what your earthsuit did, even though it didn’t want to do it, and it now assumes God is mad at you.

Here’s the second major place you go wrong.  God is judging you by your soul, and your soul wanted to do right.  Your soul didn’t want to sin.  Your soul was dragged along for the ride.  Naturally your earthsuit enjoyed the experience, because your earthsuit will never care about pleasing God.  But your soul is now taking responsibility for this–acting like it is to blame for the fact that your earthsuit has no moral center.  Well, no, God doesn’t blame your soul for being stuck in an earthsuit that loves sinning.

7. Your soul now decides that God is going to punish you, and it searches for evidence of that punishment.  When something bad happens, your soul decides that is “evidence” of God being angry with you.  Your soul then gets sad and despaired because it really wants to please God.

Here’s the third major error which causes you to start reading God’s anger into every crummy thing that happens to you.  And yet is He really mad at you?  No, because He judges you by your soul’s response to Him.  Does your soul care about God?  Very much.  Does your soul want to honor God’s moral code?  Yes.  If your soul had it’s way, your earthsuit would never sin.  The desires of your soul always count with God, regardless of whether you can follow through on them or not.

So how do you stop falling into those three major errors?  You start getting aligned with God’s judgment system by paying attention to your soul attitude. When you start focusing on your soul, you’ll notice that in moments of temptation, you feel intensely conflicted.  That conflict only exists because your soul is aligned with God.  If your soul was aligned with your earthsuit, then there would be no conflict.  But when your soul wants to do right, and your earthsuit wants to do wrong, you end up feeling bad even as part of you enjoys sinning.  In such moments, you need to recognize what’s really going on: that your soul is choosing correctly, thus God is pleased with you.

Read: Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
In this post, notice how God responds to the woman who actually sins, yet wanted to please God.  He is not angry with her.

Then read: Help for Stressing Christians: Is God punishing you?
In this post, pay attention to STEP 2, because that’s the step you’re flunking in the “Is God punishing me?” test.  God only gets mad when we are spiritually rebelling. Under the section about STEP 2, look at the story about Sara–the woman who gets the abortion.  Notice how her reasons for getting the abortion had nothing to do with her trying to defy God’s Authority.  On the contrary, she wanted to please God, but she couldn’t overcome her fear of other things.  So was God mad at her?  Of course not.

There’s a big difference between a man looking at porn with a “Stuff You, God, I don’t care what You think” attitude, and a man looking at porn while part of him is groaning and thinking, “God, I so wish I could cut ties with this disgusting habit because I want to please You.”

The second man is pleasing God because his soul attitude is correct. But is this an easy principle to grasp?  Not with all of Christendom telling you that you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re going to get the kind of confidence in God’s love that He wants you to have, struggles like the ones you’re having are a big advantage because they are giving you opportunities to practice aligning with God’s judgment system.  Your soul obviously wants to please God.  Certainly this is not the case with many men, but it is the case with you, and you need to stop treating that as an irrelevant issue.  These bad things that are happening to you are not a case of God punishing you in anger.  God isn’t angry with souls who sincerely care about pleasing Him.

Comparing yourself to the demon worshiping snarkers that Moses was talking to is like comparing a fish to a bear.  You are not in the same spiritual place as those twerps were.  They were truly rebelling, whereas you sincerely care about pleasing God.

Once you understand that God always responds to soul attitude, you will start interpreting Scriptures more accurately.  The rule is: if God is mad, then someone is rebelling.  God’s reaction to the Bathsheba event proves that David’s soul was taking a rebellious stance towards God at that time.  David not only got snarky with God, but he remained that way for quite a while–long enough to try several cover up plans.  Do you think God wasn’t on David’s case that whole time to repent?  Of course He was, but David was refusing to listen and that’s why God was angry with him.  But after David did repent, God was very merciful.  Even though God did have consequences happen in David’s life (because David needed lessons on humility), God’s personal attitude towards David became positive once David repented.  So it’s not like God was seething at David for years after that–that’s not how God operates.  The consequences God arranged were for David’s benefit–they helped him mature and get a renewed grip on what his priorities were supposed to be.  The consequences were not at all a statement from God saying “I hate David.”  In the same way, God is not telling you that He is angry with you by the trials He is arranging in your life.  If these trials were about discipline, then God would be on your case to repent out of your rebellious attitude.  He wouldn’t just be on your case for not being perfect–that’s demons talking (see #3 in Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests).

210. 11947

It’s great that you and God are back in a better place.  Since you shared your story with us, we would like to offer a caution regarding the advice your friend gave you.  The belief that we can bring other souls closer to God is extremely common among Christians–as is the belief that it is our job to try and save as many people as we can by praying for the lost and sharing the Gospel at every opportunity.  But popular doesn’t indicate correctness, and in this case, the advice your friend has given you is quite wrong.

God is never going to lay the enormous responsibility of leading other souls to truth on your tiny shoulders.  It has nothing to do with your background.  No human is capable of helping another human understand truth or make wise soul choices.  It is entirely God who does these things, and only He can take the credit for them.  Since it is entirely God, there is no reason for you to feel daunted by the task of trying to help your two friends.  It’s not your job to lead people to God–it’s your job to let God lead you and focus on pleasing Him.  We don’t please God through works and witnessing.  We please Him by practicing the soul attitudes which He wants from us–things like submission, reverence, dependency and trust.

Your friend’s advice is putting you in a very burdened position. You simply don’t have the wisdom you need to guide anyone in spiritual matters.  Neither do we.  Neither does any human on the planet, because wisdom comes from God and He dispenses it as He sees fit.  To understand more about this principle, see How to Avoid Witnessing Burnout.

Does God want you to serve Him in life?  Yes, but not for the reasons that you’re taught in church.  Serving God has nothing to do with helping Him, impressing Him, or trying to earn His favor.  To understand why God asks us to serve Him, see Understanding Why God Calls Us to Serve Him.

The fact that you’re so in touch with how God is intentionally extending your life in this world is a very good thing.  To help you understand how He wants you to respond to this opportunity, we wrote the following post: Your Second Chance At Life: How To Use It Well.  People in your position are very vulnerable to being guilted and pressured by other Christians into going down wrong roads.  Because most Christians don’t understand what it means to “live for God,” they’re not well equipped to teach others about the concept.  God is all about the relationship, and He doesn’t want you embracing the notion that He needs your help to get anything done.  We urge you to really seek His wisdom regarding the priorities He wants you to have so that you can steer clear of some common pitfalls.

209. What should I be doing after having recommitted myself to Christianity after a 2 year period of genuine atheism?

Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three separate Beings who function like three best friends: They work together with Each Other to accomplish Their purposes, and They are totally devoted to Each Other.  Now if you use the term “three Gods” with other Christians, they’ll just jump all over you so there’s no point in going there.  Christians are taught that it is a terrible heresy (false teaching) to say that there is more than one true God.  So while they will acknowledge the three “Persons” of Yahweh (aka God the Father), Jesus and the Holy Spirit, they’ll also insist that these three Gods are “three in one.”  Christians insist that there is only one God–but then they say that He’s “Triune” (three in one).  If you want to understand where the Trinity doctrine comes from, we explain it on our page The Trinity Doctrine.  It’s a confusing and ridiculous doctrine, but it’s also considered a critical pillar of Christianity, so trying to argue about it with other Christians is a total waste of time.  The only reason we bring this up with you is that you asked if the Holy Spirit was Christ.  No, the Holy Spirit is not Christ.  The Holy Spirit is His own magnificent Being, but He has the same abilities, priorities, and characteristics as Christ and Yahweh.

Because our three Creators function as a unified team, the principles of pleasing Them are the same, so it’s not like you have to treat Jesus differently than the Holy Spirit.  Where you can get into trouble is by treating one of Them as less than God–and this is something Christians do quite often.  Jesus is often minimized as being a limited human, while the Holy Spirit is often treated like some mystical atmosphere instead of the complex Being that He is.  In our Worship Song Analysis category, we review the lyrics of many popular Christian worship songs and demonstrate how often Christians are grossly disrespecting one or more of the true Gods under the guise of “praising” Them.  So does the three God issue matter?  Yes, it does.  We need to treat all three of our Gods with equal respect–not act like One of Them is greater than the Others.

So now let’s talk about your return to God.  Going from Christianity to atheism is a very common story–hence you’ll find that many fuming atheists are focusing their hatred specifically at the Christian Gods.  The key to making your reconciliation a permanent thing is to look past the surface issue (God refusing to talk to you) and understand what your real motivations for leaving were.  You’re at a very important crossroads here–and one which many “faithful” Christians haven’t reached yet.  The truth is that God can be extremely difficult to deal with, and if you’re going to make it through the next round of Him driving you crazy, then you need to make some important decisions.  We wrote the following post to help you understand this subject in more detail: Returning to the God You Divorced: Guidance for Christians.

If you choose to embrace the right dynamic with God now (and we explain what that is in the post), then you will end up much better off for having gone through the period of atheism.  The issues God is confronting you with now are ones that all Christians must grapple with at some point if they’re going to ever have a very close relationship with Him.  See this as an opportunity to set your sights on the highest goals, and don’t view yourself as one down to Christians who “never left.”  Plenty of Christians who are singing God’s praises today would do exactly what you did if He treated them the way He treated you.  This whole episode is about God helping you understand what succeeding with Him really entails.  Decide that you’re going to hold nothing back.  He’s more than worth the cost.

202. Dot18

The church guilt trip is a huge one and you don’t get over that kind of thing quickly.  Instead, you vacillate between moments of confidence and moments of anxiety like you’re doing.  The good news is that the anxiety raises up new questions, which lead to new answers.  So let’s deal with the new questions.

Q: Is God telling me, Dot18, to go to church right now?
A: Absolutely not.

It is very clear that God does not want you to go to church right now.  If your vicar had better spiritual discernment, she’d see this and stop pushing you. But many Christian leaders have lousy spiritual discernment and they don’t honestly know how to tell the difference between God and demons.  Real spiritual discernment isn’t taught at seminaries, and your vicar’s article shows signs of all the usual seminary brainwashing.  But the good news is that you don’t have to stay stuck where she’s at.

It’s really not so hard to tell when God is and isn’t convicting you.  You just need to understand some basic principles about how He communicates with you versus how demons talk to you.  Read this post:

Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests

Here’s what you’re going to learn in that post: when God wants you to do something, He will communicate His will to you in a way that will result in you being very sure about what He wants.  Are you sure about going to church? No, you’re waffling all over the place.  Your only reasons for thinking you should go is because other Christians are pressuring you.  Your reasons for not wanting to go is that the whole thing is hitting you as a major negative.

When God is telling you to go to church, you’re going to feel like, “I know that I’m supposed to be in church. I might be having trouble getting myself out the door, but I know that this is what God wants me to do.”

Is this you?  No.  You’re showing all the markers of false conviction which result from demons trying to impersonate God in your head.  You’re feeling like, “Wow, I feel so guilty for not going to church….but I really don’t want to…it feels all wrong when I’m there…but I’m afraid of God being mad at me…will God think I don’t love Him if I don’t go to church?  I don’t know, I don’t know, it’s all a big muddle in my brain.  I just know that I feel like I’m doing it wrong, but when I go to church, I still feel bad.”

This is classic condemnation.  When demons are condemning you, nothing you do feels right.  They get you into a corner where you feel “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”  The only thing you’re pretty sure about is that God is displeased with you, thus you spiral down into depression which is where they want you to stay.

Now for false conviction to work, demons need you to believe that God is refusing to communicate with you.  They want you to view Him as scowling down at you with His arms crossed, expecting you to just magically know what He wants from you.  If you guess wrong, He’s just waiting to nail you for doing it wrong.  Well, no, this is total garbage.  God is not some abusive Father who is holding a bat over your head while He tallies your sins on a chalkboard.  God is for you–that means He wants you to succeed with Him. Because God wants you to succeed, He makes that very easy for you to do by clearly communicating with you when there’s something He wants you to do.  There’s none of this vague garbage. If it’s vague, you need to write it off as demons: this is a good place to start when you’re learning spiritual discernment.  We have a whole section on spiritual discernment that can help you out, but start with the above post.

Q: Does the Great Commission apply to Dot18?
A: No. Jesus wasn’t talking to Dot18 when He gave the Great Commission.  In addition, Dot18 is clearly NOT being called to evangelize.

The Great Commission is one of those famously misapplied passages of Scripture.  Often the folks who get called into pastoral roles (like your vicar) also have an honest desire to evangelize.  So since they personally feel called to evangelize, they naturally love the Great Commission, because they find it very validating.  But here’s what everyone forgets: God loves variety. Take us for example: we’re called to function as prophets.  Does that mean we should go combing through Scripture, yank out every passage where God is speaking to prophets, and say that those passages apply to all Christians?  If we act like this, we’d be acting ridiculous.  Just because God is telling us to prophesy does not mean that He wants you to prophesy.  And if God is not telling you to prophesy, that does not mean you’re less special than we are.

In the Christian community, you’ll find certain callings being treated as superior to all others.  Evangelists, missionaries and prophets are notorious for strutting around like they’re better than everyone else.  But, no, they’re really not better and God loves variety.  God is obsessed with variety.  God loathes the idea of all Christians acting the same.

Let’s talk about the Great Commission.  This was a private speech which Jesus gave to His eleven trained disciples (the twelve minus Judas, who was dead at that point).  The Great Commission was like the time that Yahweh spoke to Moses through the burning bush or when He told Noah to build an ark: it was a specific, personal assignment directed at specific individuals.  To say that the Great Commission applies to every Christian is as ridiculous as saying that we should all go out and build arks according to the instructions given in Genesis.  But in seminaries this is what pastors are brainwashed into doing.  The Great Commission has always been one of those passages that Christian leaders beat over everyone’s heads.  There’s another passage from Ezekiel that is also used to crank up the guilt about why you need to get out and share.  Also, there’s a line from Paul which gets tossed around a lot.  We explain all three of these passages in this post: Debunking the Great Guilt Trip: It’s Not Your Job to Save the World

Also read: Christians without Callings: You are Just as Special to God

So how do we know that you are not called to evangelize?  It’s obvious.  If you were really being called by God to go witness to people, you wouldn’t need your vicar to pressure you into it.  You’d already be out the door chatting it up with random strangers.  It goes back to that principle we talked about earlier: when God wants you to do something, He tells you in a way that makes you certain.  Are you certain about evangelizing?  No, you feel all vague and yuck about it.  This is more false conviction.

Q: Is God calling Dot18 to serve at a church right now?
A: No, He isn’t.

When God wants you to do something specific, He’ll tell you and you’ll be sure.  There won’t be this vague guilt.  Remember: if it’s vague, it’s from demons and you need to throw it out.  Demons love being vague and getting you to feel all yucky and tense with no clear resolution.  Demons love it when you go work your tail off down at the church doing a bunch of busywork that God doesn’t want you to do.  At this point, the best thing you can do is not go to church and instead practice trusting that God knows how to communicate with you.  For more about serving, see: Ministry Opportunities: When should you get involved?

Q: What are Dot18’s “spiritual gifts”?
A: This is an irrelevant question for Dot18.

Here’s how it works with spiritual gifts.  The apostle Paul made a couple of lists of “gifts” in his letters.  People then leapt on those lists and decided that every Christian on the planet has to have one or more of the gifts Paul listed.  An obsession with gifts was then born, resulting in utterly ridiculous things like manmade surveys which Christians are pressured into filling out in order to figure out how God has gifted them.  In real life, leaders just use the survey results to make souls feel even worse about not getting off their duffs and helping out around the church.

Now it takes manpower to run a church.  There are practical issues, like bathrooms that need cleaning and weeds that are making the front lawn look bad.  Pastor Joe can’t keep the whole place looking good by himself.  Pastor Joe wants to spend most of his time preaching and counseling.  If Pastor Joe works the spiritual gifts guilt trip on people, he can get a whole crop of eager workers who are willing to further Pastor Joe’s personal goals in life by keeping Joe’s church in good shape.  The whole system is utterly carnal. No one is asking God.  If there’s no children’s church leader, then people suddenly decide that Mary is getting “called” to fill that slot.  Humans decide for God what services their church must supply, then they guilt people into making those services happen.  There’s no room for God to say “no.”  Once people set their hearts on something, they don’t care whose convictions they’re mowing over in order to get the manpower they need.  This is an obnoxious way to manage God’s flock.

If leaders were doing it right, they’d be telling you not to get involved in something until you start feeling inspired by God to get involved.  When God wants you to get involved, what does He do?  He gives you clear instruction.  You’ll be eager.  You’ll want to dive in.  How do you feel about the ministry opportunities people have been shoving on you so far?  You feel repulsed. You think they sound tedious and boring. You feel this way because God is not telling you to get involved.  God knows how to kill our enthusiasm about something and He often does this as a way of discouraging us from going down wrong roads.

You’re currently in a very vulnerable place.  You haven’t learned how to tell the difference between God and demons talking to you, and you’re very unconfident about God’s willingness to lead you in life.  That’s perfectly fine: all Christians start this way.  But if you were to go into ministry like this, you’d be very easy for others to manipulate, and they would.  So it’s really much better for you to stay out of that whole flesh fest until you have a chance to get more grounded in truth.  To minister well, you need to be able to look an alpha Christian leader squarely in the eyes and say, “God is not calling me to do this right now, so I’m not signing up.”  It takes time to develop this kind of confidence.  You’re on the right track, but letting someone shove you into ministry prematurely is going to slow you down.  For more about the gifts thing, read:

Understanding Spiritual Gifts: The Labels & the Lies
Spiritual Gifts: How can we label you?

While you’re at it, you should also read up on spiritual fruits, because it’s only a matter of time until someone lays that guilt trip on you.  Read: Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities

Read these articles and ask God to help you grow in His truth.  These are issues that plague many Christians with angst, but you really want to win this fight.  Refuse to be led by vague guilt.  When God wants you to do something, you will know it.

201. Dot18

This change of direction you’ve made is fabulous–keep it up!  Relying on God directly to lead you in life and refusing to just accept what other humans say about Him is critical to you forging a close bond with Him yourself.  God is the only Authority on God.  No other human can take His place in your life.

It’s great that you’re thinking for yourself about the Lord’s Prayer and not just going with whatever we say.  All of our material is intended to give you material to wrestle over with God.  Don’t let our sometimes strong language discourage you from thinking critically and rejecting what we say if it’s not sounding correct to you.  When you’re sincerely seeking God, He will lead you into truth in the order that He feels is best.  We’re just here to help you consider perspectives that you won’t hear very often in mainstream Christian teaching.

Since you’re currently pondering the Lord’s Prayer, we’ve written the following post to give you more food for thought on the subject and help you consider some principles that we didn’t discuss in our 2014 post (which this one has replaced): Why Serious Christians Shouldn’t Pray the Lord’s Prayer.  As always, ask God for His feedback, and then go with whatever He’s telling you.  Having other people agree with your conclusions about God is worthless.  What matters is that you’re going to Him directly about these matters and trusting Him to lead you in life.

 

%d bloggers like this: