The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians


Image result for q&a Find your question by number below.  Information on this page may be deleted at any time.

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.

356. 13reasons why

We would definitely recommend that you seek counseling.  You are already aware that you have difficulty relating to your peers, and counseling could really help you with that.

For counseling to be effective, the client needs to be able to trust the counselor and feel safe enough with the counselor to discuss highly sensitive topics.  Since you have a history of expressing very hostile feelings towards us, and because you have stated that you do not want to work with a female counselor, it is very unlikely that a positive therapeutic dynamic could be established between you and our available counselor (who is female).  So while we think that you could definitely benefit from counseling, we do not want you to have a negative experience attempting that with someone who you already feel very wary of.  Not every counselor-client paring works, and you should respect your own preferences in this area.  Forcing yourself to try and talk with someone who you feel threatened by is not a good scenario.

Since you’ve asked, we would suggest that your relationship with R is a bad idea.  You are already aware that you are avoiding your peer group due to fear (and that’s an excellent insight on your part).  But reaching down to such a younger age group is a set up for more pain and problems down the road.  While you are attracted to R out of fear, her attraction to someone so much older than her is likely due to some unresolved issues that she has with men.  It is very likely that she is attempting to symbolically fix a toxic relationship with her father or some other key male figure by pursuing you.  The problem with this kind of strategy is that it never works (see The Mindset of Trauma Reversal: Pursuing the Unattainable).  Both of you will only end up feeling even more frustrated than you are now with the unresolved issues that you both have, and along the way, you and R will probably develop a very dysfunctional dynamic.  When we use new relationships as ways to try and hide out from unresolved fears, we often do not take the time to choose well.  We rush in, expecting shelter and love, only to find that we receive the opposite.  It’s a mess, and the more times you set yourself up for this kind of crash, the more hurt and bitter you will feel.

The solution for you is to work on diffusing the fears you have with your peer age group.  Identifying what happened to you in the past to cause you to write off such a massive age group would be a helpful first step.  By reaching so far down the age spectrum, you are trying to set up a relationship dynamic in which you can feel that you have the majority of the power (more parental than romantic).  You cannot establish a healthy romantic relationship this way.  Power must be shared equally between the two parties, and as R progresses with you, she will start trying to shift the balance of power in her favor.  This will cause you to panic, at which point you’ll probably turn abusive towards her to try to stay in the dominant position.  Why walk into that mess if you don’t have to?  By working on your core fears, you can learn how to get comfortable with a peer romantic relationship in which power is shared equally.  You can learn that there are many ways to defend yourself from abuse without becoming abusive yourself.

There is always hope, and you already have some excellent insights about what the root causes of some of your problems are.  Talking with a counselor could be a great next step.  A counselor can give you step by step advice on how to handle upsetting events, and it can be very helpful to have someone in your corner supporting you.  When we’re feeling overwhelmed by fears, it’s often hard to see what we should do.  A counselor can give you a more objective perspective and help you see options that you don’t see right now.  But to get anywhere with counseling, you need to find someone who you can actually feel comfortable talking to, which you’ve made clear isn’t us. So while we see a lot of hope for your situation, we’d encourage you to look elsewhere for a good counseling match.

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.

349. Can I please ask about the parables of the goats and sheeps in Matthew 25:31-46. Anyone reading it could easily come to the conclusion that good deeds are what brings you to heaven and lack thereof to hell. Why did Jesus depict the judgement day like that to His listeners? Was He still holding them to Old Testament requirements (submission as ongoing obedience) for salvation?

This parable comes at the end of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.  Jesus gave two very long sermons which Christians have given titles to.  The Sermon on the Mount was a public speech intended to wake people out of their spiritual rebellion.  The Olivet Discourse was a private conversation with Jesus and a few of His disciples regarding the end times.

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus lays out a timeline of events which lead up to the end of the world and His own Second Coming.  Some of His predictions come true–such as the Romans sacking Jerusalem.  But other predictions prove to be false–such as Jesus’ promise to return within the lifetimes of His immediate audience.

The Olivet Discourse serves two key functions.  First, it prepares Jews for a very traumatic shock: the destruction of Jerusalem and Yahweh’s Temple.  The Temple had only been destroyed once before in Israel’s history, and its destruction was very traumatic for national and theological reasons.

So the first goal of the Olivet Discourse is to help prepare Jews and Jesus’s followers for a dramatic increase in hardship and persecution.  The second goal was to build false hopes which would help the Jews get through this very difficult time.  We see Yahweh doing a similar thing in the Old Testament.  Before Israel is sacked by various empires, He promises over and over again that He’ll soon restore her to great glory and power.  He never fulfills those promises, yet by giving them, He gave generations of Jews hope to cling to.

Jesus does the same thing in the New Testament.  He promises a swift end to persecution, and His swift return to earth.  He doesn’t fulfill either promise, yet His prediction inspires great hope which helps His followers persevere through great tribulation.  False hope can be just as effective as true hope until you realize that what you’re hoping in will not occur.

Now to keep everyone’s expectations very high about His quick return to earth, Jesus tells a series of five parables that remind people of how serious it is to make wise spiritual choices.  The parable of the sheep and the goats was one of these five.  Even though Jesus told these stories in the context of end time prophecies–especially in the context of Him promising that His Second Coming would occur within a matter of decades–their main message applies to all humans.  The parables warn over and over that blowing God off will result in terrible consequences.  And since we could all die at any time, there is an urgent need to know that we are in a good place with God. For more about the context of these parables, read through our two articles that cover the Olivet Discourse, starting with: Know Your Bible Lesson 63: The End is Near (The Olivet Discourse).

So all of that was about context.  Now let’s look at the language Jesus uses.

Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh frequently talks about behaviors when He is really interested in soul attitudes.  When you are then taught to take Him literally–meaning you actually think He expects people to act as perfectly as He describes–you end up all caught up in legalism.  So why talk about behaviors if that’s not what God really cares about?  Well, to be fair, Yahweh doesn’t just talk about behaviors.  He also talks about things like trust, submission, reverence, and dependency.  So does Jesus.  Jesus basically talks just like Yahweh because He was addressing the same kind of audience.  Both Jesus and Yahweh are primarily speaking to Jews in the Bible–that’s very important to note.  Modern Jewish culture is still embracing some of the same values that ancient Jewish culture did, so if you were raised in that kind of culture, you might find God talking to you in some ways that are quite similar to how He talked to the ancient Jews.  But if you were raised in a different culture that promotes different values, you’ll find that He talks to you quite differently today than He does to folks in the Bible.  God works with each of us as individuals, and you should expect Him to use a different style with you than He does with others.  If behavioral commands in the Bible are making you feel discouraged in your own walk with God, then you need to ask Him to help you get a better understanding of what it means to please Him.  Then you should expect Him to talk to you in a way that does not involve Him peppering you with behavioral commands.

For ancient Jews, Yahweh and Jesus could talk in terms of behaviors and people were able to understand that He was talking about soul attitudes.  But today, many Christians have been taught legalism to the point that they can’t see past behavioral commands in the Bible.  To help people see past the behavioral language and see what God’s real point is, we’ve written many articles on some passages that tend to trip people up.  You can find examples of these on our “In Depth Bible Study” pages.

So what about salvation?  Well, contrary to what you’ve been told, Jesus did not change the basic requirements for salvation.  Salvation has always been attained through reverential submission to God.  The big change Jesus made was how many Gods we need to submit to.  Before Jesus, people only had to submit to Yahweh.  Today we need to submit to Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus not only demanded submission from His followers, He taught absolute submission. Two great examples here are when He talks of people taking His yoke, and when He says that His followers must be willing to take up their crosses.  Jesus gave the Jews a fabulous example of what total submission to God looks like.  So did He teach submission?  Absolutely, and He did so because submission remains essential to pleasing God.

Now notice how you used the term “submission as ongoing obedience.”  Christians commonly define obedience as a set of external behaviors. They then think that those external behaviors are the same thing as submission.  This is absolutely not true.  Submission is a soul attitude.  It has to do with sincerely desiring to please God.  Having a desire is not the same as having the ability to follow through on that desire.  When modern Christians speak of obeying God, they are often referring to following through on desires to do right. They then make the epic mistake of thinking that God judges them by their follow through. But no, He does not.  God judges you by your soul’s desire, not by your ability to put those desires into action.

In our material, we frequently say that God judges you by your soul’s response to Him, not your behavior.  God might say to you, “I want you to stop doing X” (think of some nasty sin that you struggle with and substitute that for X).  Once God convicts you like this, your soul has a choice in how it will respond to that conviction.  Your soul might say, “Lord, I want to please You, so if You don’t want me to do X, then please help me stop.”  So far all you’ve expressed is a desire to obey God with external behaviors.  You haven’t actually acted on that desire yet.  It is at this point that God is pleased with you.  He is pleased because of how your soul responded to His conviction: your soul respected His wishes and sincerely desired to honor Him.  This is what it means to please God.

Now after this point, God may or may not give you the resources you need to stop doing X.  If He does, then you will have a chance to follow through on your desire–that’s when other Christians will say you are obeying God.  But God says you pleased Him before the follow through happened–the very moment that your soul expressed a sincere desire to honor Him.  (Note that we’re talking about sincere desires here, not lip service).

Now suppose God does not give you the resources to act on your desires.  In other words, you want to stop doing X, but you just can’t.  Here is where other Christians would say you are rebelling or you don’t really care about God.  But God would say that you are pleasing to Him because He judges you by your desire.  God does not condemn anyone for not having resources that He hasn’t given them and this is a critical point to understand.  For a longer explanation, see Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy.

So then, how do we please God?  Through submission, which is a soul attitude, a soul desire.  We cannot please God through external behaviors, which is what most Christians mean by “obedience.”  So when you say that the Old Covenant required “submission expressed through obedience,” you’re mistaken.  Yahweh certainly did not demand perfect behaviors.  Works had nothing to do with gaining salvation under the Old Covenant, and Jesus did not teach works–He promoted soul attitudes.  In fact both Yahweh and Jesus really condemned the concept that salvation could be obtained through good deeds–They both taught that without the right soul attitudes (sincere desires to please and honor God), righteous behaviors were utterly meaningless.

Move past the Gospels into the epistles, and all of this changes.  The NT apostles taught that works, not soul attitudes, were all that mattered.  They taught that someone’s external behavior proved beyond all doubt what their internal attitude about God was.  In other words, if you sin or do bad things, you must love Satan and hate God–this is what James, John and Paul teach.  But they are totally wrong of course, and they are not teaching what Yahweh and Jesus taught.

If there is another passage that bothers you, send us a reference to it and we’ll see if we have a post that covers it.  If you want to discuss the issue of Divine judgement in more depth, you can submit a request for counseling and talk to someone one-on-one.  A correct understanding of how God judges you is essential, so if you have questions, don’t be shy to ask them.  With God, the truth is often much better than we’re expecting.

Recommended Articles:
Salvation Q&A
What it Means to be Aligned with God


347. YLG

The correct way to view this is as follows:

First, God convicted you that X wasn’t good for you, therefore you needed to let it go. (We’re referring to your situation as X for confidentiality reasons).

  1. At first, you didn’t want to let go of X.  But because your soul cares about pleasing God, you ended up aligning with God’s will for your life by asking Him to take X away if that was what was best.
  2. God then responded by taking X away, and He did so in a manner that helped you release X more easily.

Now let’s re-summarize what happened from the perspective of spiritual attitudes:

  1. God expressed a preference that you found difficult to accept.
  2. Even though it was difficult, you put God first and asked Him to have His way.
  3. After giving you this opportunity to choose to please Him with your soul attitude, God then carried out His will in this situation.

There are two important points here.  The first, is that God initiated this conversation, not you.  It was God who first brought up the idea of letting go of X.  You think it was your idea because you don’t recall hearing a clear Voice in your head saying “Let go of X.”  This is a very common situation for humans–before we learn to recognize God talking to us, we often think we’re the ones initiating conversations with God.  We also take credit for doing the right thing when really it’s God who tells us what the right thing is.

Why is it important that you understand it was God who first brought up the idea of letting go of X?  Because you need to see how involved God is in your life.  He is actively leading you–He’s not just ignoring you and waiting for you to come up with ideas for how to run your life.

The second important point for you to see in all of this is how your soul responded to God’s conviction.  You put His desires for you first even when it was difficult to do so.  This is what the soul attitude of submission is about.  You did a great job of submitting to God here, and practicing submission to God is a critical part of pleasing Him and growing closer to Him.  So way to go!  Once you understand how to interpret what went on here, you can see clear evidence that God is actively communicating with you, and that your soul is understanding what He wants and responding to Him well.  This is fabulous.

So why did God take X away?  Was it to help you?  Yes, because as you now know, X wasn’t good for you.  In this situation, God helped you see that He is wiser than you and knows more than you do, which is another reason why you should always submit to His plans for your life.

As far as unpardonable sins go, this is not something you need to be worried about.  To understand why, see Understanding Unpardonable Sins: Lies vs. Truth.

As far as drinking and smoking go, these things are not the huge issues that some denominations make them out to be.  There are actually a lot of valuable spiritual lessons that can be learned through drug addictions, so rather than view yourself as a failure in these areas, ask God to help you to learn everything He wants to teach you through these struggles.  You might also find this article helpful: Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities.

As far as reading the Bible goes, a fear of reading the Bible is caused by not having an understanding of how easy God is to succeed with, as well as not understanding how to read things in context.  (For example, you think God is yelling at you, when He’s really yelling at people who lived thousands of years ago.)  While you don’t need to read the Bible to mature spiritually, you do want to unlearn the false beliefs about God which are causing you to misinterpret what you read.  If there are certain passages in Scripture that upset you, or if you’d like help with learning how to stop feeling bad every time you try to crack open the book, send us an email address and our site manager will contact you to set up a counseling appointment (see Request Counseling).

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.

328. How should a Christian handle mockery?

It depends on how you’re being mocked, who is doing the mocking, and why it bothers you so much.

Anytime you find yourself dealing with something negative, the best place to start is to ask God to help you learn everything He wants to teach you through the experience.  God doesn’t just stand back and let aggressive people harass you for no reason.  Being heckled by others is a fabulous tool for helping us identify issues that God wants to work on with us.  But first, let’s look at your situation from the perspective of the mocker…

Folks who mock do so in order to get a reaction out of you.  This kind of behavior is usually a power grabbing activity–the mocker feels a need to see himself dominate you.  The usual cause is that the mocker has someone in his own life who is making him feel stripped of power (usually someone very close to him who he really cares about pleasing), so he’s trying to compensate for his losses by stripping power from you.  It’s rather like a fellow getting his wallet stolen by a mugger, and so he reacts by coming over and mugging you.  He was too intimidated to stand up to his original mugger, so he looks for someone who he feels safe picking on.

The more of a submissive reaction you give to mockers, the more rewarded they will feel for picking on you, and a vicious cycle can develop.  Crying, cowering, or showing other visible signs of fear/distress is usually the worst thing you can do, as these kinds of reactions make the mocker feel like he really scored by picking on you.  Remember that most mockers mock to put a temporary patch on their personal psychological stress.  When you crumble in front of them, they feel a rush of satisfaction and you get associated with a strong reward in their minds.  The less you reward the mocker, the less satisfied he will feel by heckling you, and the more likely he will be to go find new prey.

Now because it’s very stressful to be picked on, it is very important that you vent that stress personally–just don’t do it in front of the mocker.  When you’re dealing with physical confrontations, you want to put all of your resources into maintaining a calm, unintimidated act, as this will make the mocker feel frustrated and unsatisfied in his reactions with you.

Making yourself unattractive prey is one of two key goals.  The second goal is to personally benefit from the experience by making progress maturing in whatever issues the heckler is riling up within you.  For example, mocking only works because it makes you feel personally threatened.  Here’s where you want to try to identify the specific fears that come to your mind when the mocker starts.  Are you afraid of being physically harmed?  Are you afraid of your social reputation being harmed?  Are you afraid of some personal secret being exposed? The specific fears/insecurities that get triggered by being mocked will help you identify what God wants to teach you.  Every trial has a positive spiritual lesson associated with it, and that lesson is what you want to look for.

Our site manager, Anna, counsels people on how to handle bullying.  If you’d like to get in-depth help with your particular situation, send us an email that Anna can contact you at (this is a free service).

325. Are we starting from a clean slate with this life? Or do we have a past life in any aspect (emotionally, spiritually)?

This life is the beginning of your existence as a created being.  You did not have any previous life.

323. Regarding Question 322–So you’re saying if someone has submitted to God in past and then something bad happens like the lost of a child or something else and that person walks away from God, that means all of a sudden they’re no longer saved?

Talking in terms of theoretical scenarios on something as important as salvation is of limited value. So let’s cut to the chase.  What is your current standing with God?  Trying to figure out everyone else’s salvation status is a waste of time, because God isn’t going to give you a blow-by-blow on what He’s doing with other people.

If you are currently in some rebellious snit with God, then you need to repent and submit to Him.  If you refuse to do so, then regardless of what you’ve done in the past with God, your rebellious stand will have a very negative impact on your future.  To ask, “How much attitude can I get away with giving God before He chucks me into Hell?” is a foolish question.  Whatever your current excuse is for pretending that God’s supremacy is irrelevant, we all know that you are just playing games.  Suppose God did take your child–how is that a crime?  Your child was God’s creation–His property.  God do whatever He wants with His own property without having to clear it with you. And no matter what He does, He really doesn’t owe you any explanations or apologies.

When we treat God like God, He causes our painful experiences to benefit us spiritually, and He helps us deal with our grief in positive ways.  But when we act like we’re the boss of Him by condemning His actions and saying that we’re justified in throwing some bratty tantrum because of what God is doing with His own stuff, then we only end up inciting His wrath against us.  If you think God’s wrath is a non-issue for Christians, you need to think again.

Only God can tell you if you are currently saved or not.  If you ask Him for guidance on this matter, He’s going to tell you to repent out of your rebellion.  The question now becomes: is it possible for you to war against your own Creator and come out ahead?  No, it’s not.  God will always win, and you will always lose in any war that you try to start with Him.  So do what He’s convicting you to do while He’s still offering you a chance to be reconciled with Him.  Or, be an idiot, dig your heels in, and discover just how vengeful and brutal God can be.  The choice is yours, and the consequences are yours.  See The Eternal Cost of Defying God: A Warning for Christians.

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.

311. God Compass II

Yes, we do remember your dream description, which was very insightful.

You need to focus on being confident about God’s ability to direct your words.  It’s great that you are so concerned about correctly representing Him, but remember that He loves variety, and that means He’s going to put things differently when He talks to someone through you than when He talks to someone through us.

We aren’t going to recommend additions to your message, because we are more confident than you are that God is going to cover all the points He wants to make through you to your friend.  The analogies you’re using have a lot of relevance, and if that’s how He’s leading you to put it, then that’s what’s going to be best for this person.

Realize that the souls who stress the most about doing it right are generally doing a far better job than souls who don’t care.  So there isn’t a need for us to nitpick your language.  You are too far along for that.  You are able to tell when God is talking to you, and you are able to receive complex messages from Him. Add to that the fact that you really care about serving Him well, and you’re in a fabulous place.  Try to scale back on second guessing yourself and go for a mindset of relaxed confidence.  With your eager to please attitude, God will no doubt be bringing many souls across your path in the future, and the more confident you are in His ability to lead you, the more you will enjoy the ride.

310. My parents divorce

There are some definite boundary issues here.  It is both reasonable and necessary for you to draw lines about how much you’re going to be pushed around by someone else’s decisions.  Your parents’ divorce was their choice.  You were not responsible for it, and it is certainly not on you to try and shield your parents from the consequences of their choices.  If you break up a family, you’re not going to see your children as much–that’s a basic reality due to the fact that humans can only be in one place at a time.  Depending on your age and current stage of life, the best choice for you might be to move out to your own place so that you can get some distance from the drama.

Realize that there is good guilt and destructive guilt.  Good guilt results from God convicting us that we’re heading down a wrong road and we need to course correct.  God’s convictions are clear, specific, and inspiring.  They push us towards the positive, and they emphasize hope–they don’t just leave us in a muddle feeling rotten all the time.  What you’re experiencing is destructive guilt, and that kind of guilt is always based on false beliefs.  The goal now is to identify the specific false beliefs you’re clinging to, flip those lies into truths, and adjust your behavior to align with those truths.  That’s something Anna can help you do in a counseling session.  Plus, it would be very therapeutic for you to get to vent your own frustrations about this experience to an empathetic party instead of trying to keep all of those emotions bottled up.

Now based on what you’ve shared, here are some potential false beliefs that are currently fueling your destructive guilt:

  • If my mother is sad, it’s my moral responsibility to try and make her feel happy again.
  • I’m supposed to let my parents dictate how I spend my money. 
  • I’m obligated to bail my parents out when they make foolish financial or emotional decisions.
  • I should be straining to keep this family tacked together as much as possible.
  • I’m a selfish jerk if I want to have a life of my own.
  • I’m a jerk if I’m feeling burned out listening to people gripe about the fallout of decisions they’ve made.
  • I’m the only one who has to grin and bear it when trials come–everyone else gets to dump their emotional baggage onto me whenever they feel like it and I’m supposed to not complain.
  • I’m a selfish jerk if I try to put my own emotional and physical well-being above the needs of others.
  • The needs of everyone else in this family are more valid and important than my own. 

As the name implies, destructive guilt destroys–your health, your joy, your psychological well-being, and even your spiritual well-being.  So you definitely need to take your burnout symptoms seriously and make some changes.  Anna can help you identify specific steps you can take.

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… 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?


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.

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:


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.

199. I’m not really concerned how people in my country are responding to God.. is it okay? It’s obvious they are rebelling and doing it so eagerly and a way that seems so logical and smart. The more they get away from God,, the more sensible they are,… We’re in a really bad state, but I don’t care much. The only thing I fear is how terrible it would be if I get along their ‘logical’ thinking and start ignoring God. And how they are being against God is really bad for them, but again, that’s not my business. But what I’m worried is this: I’m supposed to be aligned with God’s priorities, and if I’m doing a good job, I should be angry when He is, right? God would be angry with rebels around me but I don’t care….does this mean my priorities are not aligned with my Gods’?

While God’s wrath sounds like a simple issue, it’s really quite complicated because God wants multiple things at the same time.  We explain this more in depth in Aligning with a God of Extremes: How should we respond to spiritual rebellion?

As a general rule, you want to stay focused on your own walk with God and not on what other people are doing about Him.  So your current focus is correct.  When God wants you to respond to some other soul’s choices, He’ll give you specific direction.  There are times when God wants us to say or do something in response to spiritual rebellion.  But far more often, He wants us to leave the management of other people in His capable hands and focus on our own soul attitudes.  Going around in a constant state of upset because other people are exercising their God-given right to rebel is a total waste of time and will only slow you down in your own walk with God.  So keep your focus on you and Him, and trust that He will tell you when He wants you to do otherwise.

Recommended: The Right Focus in Life According to Christ


Based on the way you have described your situation, we see you drawing several conclusions which are incorrect.  So let’s break it down.

First, whatever this job is, it’s importance has been blown way out of proportion for you.  Let’s examine some of your comments:

“this was my last opportunity to change my life around for good” You need to see what an extreme exaggeration this is.  The world is full of jobs, but somewhere along the way you have narrowed your focus so that this particular job you’re going for has become the only one that counts.  God has more options for your life than there are stars in the sky, yet you’ve decided that He’s run out of options.  This job was your last hope–so now that it didn’t happen, you’re hopeless.  Well, no, this kind of thinking indicates priorities that are way off balance.  While we certainly understand how easy it is to get into this kind of mindset, the fact remains that it leads us way off course.  You have clearly lost sight of your value and success as a person apart from your occupation.  You’re using your job title to measure your spiritual success, personal validity, and even the quality of your life.  If you can’t have the job, you want to die.  This kind of identity merger is not something God will encourage you in, because He defines you apart from what you do. 

You sound like you’re feeling called into some kind of ministry.  Realize that to enter ministry with this kind of “what I do defines who I am” mindset is a setup for disaster.  A pastor can’t afford to get his worth as a man tied up in a manmade title.  A pastor needs to see his occupation as totally separate from his personal value.  All occupations must be viewed as expendable.  When we let what we do define us the way you are doing, then we end up viewing ourselves as being controlled by the job.  When the job tanks, so does our self-esteem.  When the job ends, we want to end our own existence.  When you’re in this kind of mentality, getting your dream promotion is the last thing you need. It’s far better for you to work through the crisis you’re currently in, face how much you’ve lost sight of who you really are, and ask God to help you get back into alignment with His priorities.

“I’m a very hard working person, VERY dedicated, as if I was working for the Lord.” – You sound like you’re a workaholic.  It’s very easy to dress up workaholism as “working unto the Lord”, but in reality it’s just a case of misplaced validation.  Because you view your job as defining your worth, you must be successful in order to feel valid as a person.  So of course you work hard, but you’re not doing it for the Lord, you’re doing it for your own self-esteem issues.  This is a very common trap that people fall in–especially in cultures which attach too much importance to the type of work people do.  Here again, God is doing you a favor by blocking you from getting this promotion.  God wants His approval of you to be the thing that defines your worth and success in your job, not your worldly occupation.

“One thing I want to do in this lifetime is the Work of the Lord… because the workers are few… But I don’t think I’m ready yet… I would like to have successful experiences first, so I can have testimonies to encourage people. I don’t want to preach something I’ve never lived.”   Preaching for God has nothing to do with personal identity with the message.  It has everything to do with discernment (knowing when God is speaking to you) and submission (doing what He’s telling you to do because He’s the One telling you).  God’s ideal servant is one who is not confident in his own abilities or preparedness, but is instead rooting his confidence in God’s ability and willingness to lead him. You’re trying to get confident in your own abilities by collecting relevant life experience.  This is the wrong approach.  To do well at serving God, you need to focus on soul attitudes, not on external talents and logical strategies.  Joshua is a good example here.  He marched into the Promised Land with an insufficient army and no idea where to start.  He had to depend on God to lead him through his whole military campaign step by step, and often God’s instructions were pretty bizarre.  Elijah is another good example.  He had no brilliant strategy outline for how to succeed as a prophet–instead, he had to wing it and trust God to lead him.  Your eagerness to serve God is good, but you need to pull your focus onto soul attitudes and off of external success.  Serving God correctly often results in other people thinking that you’re rebellious, arrogant, and delusional.  If you let other people’s opinions define you, you’ll start compromising in your obedience to God.

“Now, If I decide to go do something else, I would be letting a lot of people down… Because a lot of people look up to me for leadership, professionally and spiritually. Failing again could mean the separation of my home – members in my family who are younger in their faith look up to me, and if they see me fail, they’ll give in too.”  – You’re taking on way too much responsibility for other people’s soul choices.  This is another very common trap that people in ministry fall into.  Notice how you think that you’re playing some critical role in keeping your younger family members on track with God.  Well, if your family members are only into God because they’re trying to imitate you, then their devotion to Him is seriously lacking and that’s not about you–it’s about them.  The sincere pursuit of God isn’t driven by a need to make some human approve of us.  So if your people are going to use your “failing” as an excuse to write God off, you need to recognize that for the carnal game that it is and not take responsibility for their poor soul choices.

You can’t let other people lead you in life.  Other people are going to encourage you to do things that work for them–they’re not going to be putting God’s interests first.  God is notorious for leading people in nonsensical patterns.  If you follow Him, it’s guaranteed that people are going to criticize what you’re doing at some point.  But other people aren’t your judges in life, so their approval can’t be what you’re living for.

It’s not a personal failing when God blocks your path, so you need to revise the way you’re interpreting not getting this job.  This experience is actually raising up a lot of very useful insights about changes you need to make in your perspectives.  So while it feels like a frustrating flop, it’s actually very good ministry training.

Recommended Reading:
Saving Souls & Changing Lives: Wrong Reasons to Go Into Ministry
Understanding Why God Calls Us to Serve Him

196. Why is it that Islam is growing so fast? Is not Islam a cult rejecting glorious Jesus Christ?  I am repulsed by any picture or mention of this religion and can not help it. In one of your articles you mention that our Gods are very sensitive about true Christians helping God’s enemies. Aren’t Muslims in general Yahweh’s enemies? You also wrote that every soul gets convictions from The Holy Spirit. Do Muslims get the same amount of convictions as anybody else? Why they do not just accept Jesus in much greater numbers? How, as a Christian, should I view Muslims to honor our three Gods? Mature Christians should not fear because they know Yahweh is being in absolute control of everything but I am stressed and angry at the way Yahweh is spreading Islam all over the globe. Am I being rebellious or immature?

Let’s get some perspective here.

First, the fact that a man calls himself a Christian doesn’t mean that he has any real interest in the true Gods.  For many, Christianity is nothing more than a tradition that they picked up from their family or immediate culture.  Even though America as a nation has a very hateful attitude towards the true Gods, she still prints the phrase “In God we trust” on some of her coins, and that phrase specifically refers to the Christian Gods.  If we just look at American money, we might think, “Wow, Americans really care about God.” But, no, they don’t.  American sciences (biology, psychology, anthropology, astronomy, etc.) work off of a platform of atheism.  In American schools, children are taught to assume that there is no God, and that we all evolved from slime thanks to some random molecules colliding just right in some freak accident.  All of this means that when you look up statistics about how many Christians there are in the world or how fast Christianity is growing as a religion, those numbers do not come close to reflecting reality.

We can apply these same principles to any organized religion.  Sure, Islam is big.  But it’s also the official religion of many countries. Once Egypt makes Islam its national religion, then for many Egyptians, to say “I’m a Muslim” is the same as saying “I’m Egyptian”–it’s part of their national identity, nothing more.

Anytime a whole country marries itself to a particular religion, it creates an illusion that the religion is growing rapidly.  And yet how many Iraqis really care about Allah?  Islam is the official religion of Iraq, just as Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Costa Rica, but so what?  Laws don’t dictate people’s soul choices.

Whenever people claim that a religion is spreading, what they really mean is that the fad of a religion is spreading.  People are participating in a religion’s unique practices and they’re talking about that religion’s principles, but none of this means that people are really into it.  If you go to a sports game in America, you can see a bunch of people wearing the colors of one of the teams that is playing.  Suppose one team’s colors are red and black.  When you look around at the stands, you see a bunch of people wearing red and black.  What does this mean?  Does it mean that all of those people really care about that team?  No.  Some of them just like the colors red and black and this is a good excuse to wear them.  In the same way, many people think crosses are stylish and they wear them to be fashionable, not because they care about Jesus.

Religions create subcultures–social groups that you will be welcomed and supported by if you just say certain things and participate in certain rituals.  Plenty of “Christians” don’t care at all about God–they just go to church for the social perks.  It’s the same with Muslims–plenty of them are just drawn to Islam because they want to be socially accepted and feel like they’ve got a little religion in their lives.  People have always been attracted to religions like Catholicism which promote grand rituals and strict rules.  Islam requires pilgrimages, tithing, and a strict regime of praying.  For many, participating in strict rituals gives them a strong sense of identity and belonging.

It’s important to realize that the kind of Islam that is being promoted by the Islamic State terrorist group is as far from true Islam as the Catholic Inquisition was from true Christianity.  So you don’t want to start lumping all Muslims into the same basket.  Many Muslims are horrified by the way the IS terrorists are using Islam as an excuse to act like sadistic animals.  Just as you wouldn’t want to be viewed as supporting a guy who is torturing, raping, and killing people in the Name of Jesus, plenty of Muslims don’t want to be associated with the IS group.  Because the IS terrorists are trying to claim that they are promoting true Islam (which they’re not), Islam is getting a really bad reputation around the world.  This is not fair to Muslims.  While Islam is a false religion, it’s never correct to start assuming bad things about the character of people you don’t even know just because they are associating themselves with Islam.

Now all truth comes from God, and no one understands who God is until He starts calling to them on a soul level.  When God starts giving us understanding about truth, it’s called spiritual illumination.  The tricky bit is that God illuminates souls at all different times.  You can’t just look at someone from the outside and know what is going on in their souls.  Some Muslims have never received any illumination from God yet, thus they are not guilty of rebelling against Him.  Others are hearing from God, and they are listening to Him.  They haven’t cut ties with Islam yet because they’re still trying to get their minds around the stuff God is teaching them.  Among serious Muslims, there is enormous pressure to not leave Islam.  A sincere soul who wants to please the true Gods might be praying to Jesus in his soul, but faking worshiping Allah on the outside because he does not yet have the courage to stand up against his family and friends.  The point is that every soul is in a different place and it’s not our place to judge.  Sure, plenty of Muslims are intentionally rejecting the real Gods, but we can say the same about most of the people who are calling themselves Christians.  Labels are meaningless–it’s what’s happening in the privacy of a man’s soul that counts, and that’s not something we can see from the outside.

So how do you please God with your response to Muslims?  You view them as the dearly loved souls that they are.  All humans are precious to God, and God commands us to treat other humans as we’d want to be treated.  We shouldn’t be casting judgment on Muslims or writing them off as spiritual rebels.  Instead we should be hoping that they make wise spiritual choices when God speaks to them.  But we also need to respect their God-given right to reject truth.  God isn’t interested in forcing anyone to come to Him.  As humans, we can’t make anyone understand spiritual truths.  So trying to shove Jesus on people is a waste of time.  When/if God wants you to talk to a Muslim about some spiritual concept, He’ll give you the words to say.  When He’s not giving you words, you need to leave it alone and remember that God doesn’t need anyone’s help to educate people about who He is and what He wants.

God loves all people.  Our attachment to certain religions and our use of labels doesn’t cause God to shove us away.  God is very gracious and He wants us to succeed with Him.  When He starts convicting us with truth, He gives us the resources we need to embrace those truths.

In this case, your anger over the spread of Islam is being driven by fear.  You’re feeling threatened by the growth of this religion (if it is actually growing, which is very hard to accurately measure).  And yet you don’t need to feel threatened.  Even if the whole world starts worshiping Allah, you know who the real Gods are and you are choosing to pursue them.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing with God–God is only going to hold you responsible for how you responded to Him when He spoke to you.  So since you know that you’re on the right track, you have a lot of reasons to be happy.

God is not at all threatened by the existence of false religions.  He wants people to have choices.  When we are rebelling against God, we cook up a bunch of ridiculous religions to try and satisfy our need for spiritual answers.  God is letting us play these games for now, and soon our time for playing will be over and we’ll all have to deal with the consequences of our choices.  What you can know is this: no soul will ever end up in Hell for lack of understanding.  When we sincerely want to know the truth, God makes sure we find it.  God is very easy to succeed with, and no amount of cultural brainwashing or peer pressure can stop Muslims from succeeding with the true Gods if that’s what they want.  But many won’t choose to go this way–just as many “Christians” are going to end up in Hell because they never really submitted to God on a soul level.  True Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.

195. I joined a Church of England church a few months ago, believing it was the right thing to do after reading many Christian websites that you can’t be a true Christian without being a member of a Church. After attending for a few weeks, the vicar gave me a letter and a form regarding giving a set amount of money weekly, monthly or annually. One sentence in the letter says ‘it is important to remember that God has given us so much and to reflect on what we give to Him’. This struck me as totally wrong because I’m sure that God wants my love and trust first more than my money. He doesn’t require me to ‘pay Him back’ for anything He has done for my salvation. I would gladly give money every Sunday, but don’t think it should be made compulsory. By asking members for regular set amounts, the church in my view is not showing complete faith and trust that ‘God will provide’.

Also, I was being pressured by the vicar to get confirmed by the bishop in December. I wanted to wait a while longer first, but the vicar said SHE wanted me to be confirmed. I felt increasingly anxious, confused and disillusioned and didn’t know why! I reluctantly decided to leave. Then I felt SO guilty. I read in many websites that by dropping out of church I was a ‘backslider’ and by rejecting the church I was also rejecting Christ. I was deeply upset by this and didn’t know what to do.

The vicar told me that ‘God has called you to this church’. Actually, I never prayed or asked God if I should in fact join a Church. I simply believed what I read on the internet that I had to go and fellowship with others in order to be a true Christian.

I really love God and truly want to know Him more. He has forgiven me so much and I never want to forget that. Do I really have to be a member of a Church to be a Christian? I read in a book that Charles Wesley once said ‘there’s no such thing as a solitary christian’. I am VERY confused but I trust in God to help me no matter what.

We’re so glad you came to us with this issue because your gut is right: something is majorly wrong with the advice you’re being given regarding the role that church should be playing in your personal relationship with God.

True Christianity is about your soul sincerely submitting to and desiring to please the Gods who created you: Yahweh (God the Father), Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  It’s not about going to church, tithing, reading your Bible, getting confirmed, getting baptized, taking Communion or any other religious ritual that people have invented in order to feel holy.

Now since God is not a human, trying to relate with Him is a very different experience than trying to relate to human beings.  So much about God seems strange and mysterious to us humans, and as we venture into that relationship we sense that we are in over our heads.  Here is where we start seeking out other Christians who seem to be getting somewhere in their own walks with God, and we ask them for pointers.  That’s what you were doing when you started browsing through Christian websites.  Now there’s nothing wrong with this sort of thing, but you need to realize that most of the advice Christians are pumping out about God is total garbage.  The reason for this is that most Christians are just regurgitating the same rot that we’ve been drowning in for centuries.  Take Charles Wesley: he’s a well-known name in Christendom, and he undoubtedly said some useful things.  But this business of him saying”there’s no such thing as a solitary Christian” is complete idiocy.

Among Christians who insist that the Bible is infallible and Divinely inspired, you’ll find many of them telling you that you are guaranteed to go astray if you don’t rely on other humans to keep you interested in God.  What’s so absurd about this is that the Bible is filled with examples of solitary believers.  Noah was the only guy left in the entire world who sincerely cared about pleasing God.  Where was his church?  Abraham, Old Testament Joseph, Daniel, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Elijah–these are just some of the guys we read about who found themselves having to pursue God in isolation.  Daniel and OT Joseph were serving demon worshiping kings on a panel of demon worshiping royal advisors.  They didn’t have a bunch of fellow believers that they could hang out with.  The prophets Ezekiel and Elijah were social outcasts living among people who delighted in mocking God.  And then of course there was Jesus: the ultimate example of going it alone.  Who was rallying around Jesus when He said, “Yahweh wants Me to get crucified”?  Did anyone say, “You go for it, then, Jesus.  You gotta obey Your convictions.  Honoring God comes first”?  Not hardly.  His closest friends all tried to talk Him out of it and hold Him back.  He had to drag them along the whole way while they were in depressed funks.  Meanwhile, Jesus spent His whole public ministry going against the church of His day. All of those Pharisees and Sadducees who He is chewing out in the Gospels were the equivalent of Wesley, bishops, and vicars in New Testament Israel: they were the spiritual leaders who no one was supposed to go against.  But Jesus did go against them–not just to be a rebel, but because they were wrong and intentionally leading people away from God. 

In the Old Testament, we find a similar pattern happening.  Yahweh spends a lot of time chewing out the spiritual leaders of Old Testament Israel: the scribes, priests, and prophets who were supposed to be giving people solid instruction about how to honor God.  Instead of teaching truth, these people were lying about what God wanted from people and making a big deal about meaningless rituals.

So why is it like this?  Why is corruption so common among spiritual leaders?  Well, the need for God runs very deep in the human race.  We were created for the purpose of revolving around Him, so there is a strong desire within people to search for answers about Who created them and what it all means.  Anytime you’re dealing with a universal human need–whether it be for God, love, or acceptance–there’s a fabulous opportunity to exploit that need for your own selfish gain.  Here’s where we get into the very shady concept of selling God to people–something Christians shamelessly practice on a daily basis.  Take the prophet who believes that God has just revealed some critical insight about what He wants from people.  If you really think that God has just given you a message to pass on to other people, where do you get off charging for it?  When we charge people to gain access to any material that is supposed to help them in their walk with God, we’re just trying to make a buck off of God.  We’re marketing Him as we would a new piece of technology and it’s really quite disgusting.  Take this business of selling tickets to Christian worship concerts: what is going on there?  “Pay me to help you sing to Jesus.”  Really??  And then we’ve got preachers saying, “Pay me to instruct you on what God wants.”  Yikes.  Soon we’ve reduced Jesus to a brand and we’re selling Him all over the place in order to gain fans and fame for ourselves.  When people stop paying or worshiping us, we actually try to block them from gaining access to God.  That’s what Wesley is saying when he says that there is no such thing as a solitary Christian.  Wesley is telling you that you need other humans to connect you to God.  He’s saying that you can’t possibly find God on your own.  This is the same as saying that God’s personal interest in you is so lacking that He won’t even pay attention to you unless you approach Him with a group of other humans.  That’s a very dangerous lie to accept, but here’s another one that’s just as dangerous: other humans can block you from finding God.  That second lie is very popular among Christian leaders whose egos have become addicted to having a fan club.  Where is a pastor going to get his kicks if he doesn’t have a bunch of folks applauding him for preaching and telling him what an anointed man of God he is?  Christian leaders who are just leading for carnal reasons need you to help them play their self-glorifying game.  They need you to be their captive audience on Sunday mornings, they need you to financially support their lifestyles, and they need you to keep pumping up their egos because they’re not doing it for God: they’re doing it for the rush of human worship.

So here’s the dark side: Christian leaders pressure you to go to church and tithe and do whatever else they say because they are addicted to having fan clubs.  They insist that you need them to keep you connected to God because this accomplishes three things: it motivates you to worship them, it motivates you to pay them, and it makes them feel important.  Because these folks are totally addicted to their kingdom lifestyles, they are going to put enormous pressure on you to play by their rules.  If you don’t, they’ll get ugly.

Now here’s the bright side: there are a lot of well-meaning Christian leaders who are not trying to just use and abuse you for their own selfish gain.  The folks in this second camp sincerely care about the well-being of your soul, but they’ve been brainwashed to believe that religious rituals are far more important than they are.  The issue here is that these leaders are assuming far too much responsibility for the well-being of other souls.  They’re essentially trying to do God’s work for Him, which they can’t do, thus this group is very prone to crashing into burnout while they run themselves into the ground trying to take care of all of the lambs in their flock.   Leaders in this category will also pressure you to go to church and they’ll teach you to be afraid of trusting in God alone to guide you in life.  But these leaders aren’t trying to scam you–they honestly believe that God is as unfaithful and uninterested as their teaching implies.  They honestly think God will drop you if you stop attending church, thus they think they are playing some critical role in keeping you connected with Him.  This causes them to take on a lot of pressure which God isn’t putting on them, and because they have such a poor understanding of God themselves, their teaching about Him is all messed up and will only end up piling a bunch of burdens on your back.  But the folks in this second camp mean well–they just don’t know better than to do what they’re doing.

As you can see, both of these options are lousy.  If you get tangled up with the first group of spiritual abusers, you’re going to end up getting all kinds of lies shoved down your throat.  If you get in with the second group, you’ll end up letting their personal lack of understanding hinder you in your own walk with God.  So what’s the solution?  Forget about church and relying on humans to teach you about God.  Instead, ask God to make you all that He wants you to be and trust that He will.  Then, when you’re reading material about God or listening to sermons, ask Him to show you what’s right and what’s not.

God is the only Teacher you should ever be putting your total trust in.  Never let anyone or anything come between you and God.   Here’s a useful analogy to keep in mind: picture yourself walking with Jesus hand in hand.  When you start going a way that He doesn’t want to go, He gently pulls you back towards Him.  He never lets you go, He never leaves, and He’s always listening to you.  This is how it really is between you and God.

Now there are a ton of Christian leaders who will sidle up to you and Jesus and try to pull your hand out of His.  Bad Christian leaders try to insert themselves between you and Jesus.  They try to make you feel separated from Him.  Picture yourself holding the hand of a pastor who is holding the hand of Jesus.  The pastor says to you, “I will keep you connected to Jesus as long as you stay connected to me.”  This is what many Christian leaders tell you and it is an absolute lie.  You are already directly connected with Jesus yourself, and no one can separate you from Him.  When a guy like Wesley makes some idiotic comment about how you no longer have a connection to Jesus when you stop going to church, he’s trying to get you to accept that second picture of someone standing between you and Jesus, linking the two of you.  But no, this isn’t how it works.  You are always connected directly to Jesus yourself.  Even if you try to let go of Him, He won’t let go of you.  This isn’t some weak, flimsy bond.  You’re locked in His vice grip.

Now on our site, you’ll find that we use a lot of authoritative language about God, declaring things like “God wants this” or “God says that.”  Don’t let the sound of confidence stop you from checking all things with God yourself.  Whenever anyone tries to put some theory in front of you about how God feels or thinks or operates, you need to remember that image of you and God holding hands, turn to Him and ask, “What do You think?  Is any of this right?”  You should be asking God about this whole answer we’re giving you–what does He say to you about it?  It doesn’t matter if every Christian on the planet is insisting that some particular idea is true–you have to go with what God is telling you to do.

So then, what was happening at your church?  Was the vicar well-meaning or just trying to get you under his control for shady reasons?  You can’t tell what his motivations were from the outside, but he was definitely leading you in the wrong direction.  As for this business of you rejecting Christ by not going to church–that’s another fat lie which is trying to get you to accept the idea that Jesus depends on your external actions to assess your true feelings about Him.  Well, no, He doesn’t.  Other humans judge you by your actions because they can’t see into your soul. But Jesus is not a human, and He can see into your soul.  Jesus is never uncertain about how you feel about Him–He knows exactly how you feel about Him.  You obviously care about Him, and Jesus is quite pleased with all souls who sincerely care about pleasing Him.  Nothing you do is going to make Jesus question what’s really going on in your soul.  Your true feelings about Him are super obvious to Him, and since He is already holding hands with you, He doesn’t care whether you’re standing in a church building or not.  God can talk to you anywhere–what He wants you to do is be willing to listen.

For more about fellowship, see:
Fellowship In Perspective
Church Membership: Why all the pressure to join?

Regarding tithing, the following posts will explain how tithing originally worked in the Old Testament, why it’s no longer required for Christians, why people pretend that it is required, and how you can honor God with the way you manage your money:
All About Tithing
Answers About Money: Guidelines for Serious Christians
Giving to the Poor: Cautions for Christians
Many religious rituals were originally invented by people who were really trying to help themselves stay on track with God.  Of course they quickly became abused and corrupted over time, but that doesn’t mean they’re all useless.  There might be times in life when God leads you to engage in certain rituals for a while, but it’s important that you let Him lead you in these things and that you’re willing to start and stop when He tells you to.

For help with some common Christian rituals, see:
Rethinking Your Christian Rituals
Guidance for Serious Catholics: What does God think about Lent?
All About Fasting
For more about how personal your relationship with God is, see:
The Inner Room: Understanding How God Judges You
God Told Me: The Only Valid Basis for Faith

We also recommend the following articles:
Soul Attitudes That Please God: What They Are & How We Develop Them
Four Ways to Identify False Teaching in the Church

194. What is your opinion of “Our Lady Fatima”? I’ve seen some Catholics online reference prophecies made by her and claim they are being fulfilled. I thought Fatima would be a prophetess but it was actually a title they made for Mary. And the actual prophecies were written by someone named Sister Lúcia in the form of memoirs, sometimes they call them “secrets”. It seems fishy to me, since they say Mary was the source of the prophecies… more Catholic idol worship.

The actual term here is “Our Lady of Fatima” with the “Our Lady” being a title for Mary.  The really long title is “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fatima.”

Mary is a huge deal to Catholics.  For many she is their primary god, since they pray to her and worship her more than they do the real Gods, plus they view her as controlling their access to the real Gods.  Whenever we obsess over a created being like this, demons see a fabulous opportunity to encourage us in our idolatry by manufacturing ghostly visits from our idol. So this is what happens with Mary.  She has a long history of showing up in places–or so Catholics think.  What they’re really seeing is a demon in costume.  Demons have been handing humans prophecies since the very beginning.  Demons can’t see the future.  But they can see what’s going on right now, they can see what people are intending to do, and they have been watching God work with humans for thousands of years.  All of this puts them in a pretty good position to make educated guesses about what will likely happen in the future, thus some of their prophecies really hit the mark.  Many others fail, but no one talks about those.  Then there are a bunch which are vaguely worded in order to allow very loose interpretations.  Once you want to believe it’s really Mary talking to you, you’re going to expect anything she says to come true and try to ignore anything that makes her look like a liar.  This principle of self-fulfilling prophecy is one which horoscopes rely on to remain popular.  When people want something to be true, they aggressively look for evidence that it is, and usually such evidence is easy to pull together.

Sister Lucia was one of the people who claimed to have seen ghost Mary show up at Fatima.  When she got a pope to validate her experience as truly Divine, naturally she earned ultimate credibility (Catholics believe the pope is infallible when speaking on matters of  God).  So now we can add Lucia’s name to the list of people we’re worshiping.  It’s a big mess.  Catholics are drowning in a sea of human idols, with every pope inventing new ones as he passes out the “saint” title to various dead people.

Now as wrong as this all is, it’s important to realize that a lot of Catholics simply don’t know better.  Idolatry is pounded into them from day one, and their leaders insist that it’s not idolatry to pray to created beings.  Catholics are taught that when they sing songs and pray to Mary, they’re not worshiping her, they’re just “venerating” her and that’s oh so different.  Well, no, it’s really not, it’s just a word game. But labels are powerful, and as Catholics are taught to rely on humans and angels to guide them in life, they end up feeling very insecure about God’s personal interest in them.  This is the problem with mediators: if you think you have to go through Mary to talk to Jesus, you’re never going to get a correct understanding about how Jesus feels about you. Plus, Catholics are told to pray the same prayers ad nauseum to both the real Gods and idol go-betweens.  This erodes their confidence that anyone is listening to them.  After all, how helpful can Mary be if we have to keep chanting the same requests at her so many times in a row?

In our material, we are always telling you that you need to go directly to God and refuse to let anyone come between you and Him.  God has always worked directly with humans.  Catholics are taught that their mediation system is biblical, but it is absolutely not.  Even in the days of priests and sacrifices, Yahweh dealt directly with all people.  No one ever had to go through a priest to speak to God, nor could the priest get God to blow off someone’s rebellious attitude.  God has never functioned as a distant King who receives reports from angels and dead humans about what the humans are up to on earth.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are very involved Creators who call us to engage with Them directly.  So you should never be talking to Mary, and you certainly don’t want to listen to people who are passing on demonic prophecies.

193. Why does God love Jacob so much? He didn’t spend much of his life listening to God did he? I don’t see why Esau is less loved…at least Esau didn’t trick anybody. Jacob seems to have lived a life of lies..would God have taken him to Heaven? What was the point in emphasizing His love for Jacob, when he was such a bad role model??

Jacob is a very bad spiritual role model.  The passage you’re thinking of is from Malachi 1, in which Yahweh is actually talking about two nations: Israel (the descendants of Jacob) and Edom (the descendants of Esau).  When Yahweh says “Jacob have I loved, Esau I hated,” He isn’t talking about His feelings towards those individuals. He’s referring to the fact that He has given the nation of Israel a bunch of extra spiritual illumination which has caused her to be extra accountable to Him.  He’s actually very angry with Israel (aka Jacob) in this passage–but Christians rarely hear the whole passage being discussed at church.  Leaders usually just rip one line out of context and totally miss the point that Yahweh was making.  To understand this passage in context, see Understanding Divine Election: Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated (Malachi 1 & Romans 9).

To get a better picture of how Yahweh felt about the man Jacob, see Jacob Wrestles with an Angel.  As we explain in this post, the fact that Yahweh renamed Jacob Israel (“he who struggles with God”) was not a compliment.  He basically named Jacob “a stubborn spiritual rebel.”  There is no evidence in the actual account about Jacob that the man landed on the right side of eternity.  If he did, it was either due to Yahweh’s amazing grace or due to the fact that Jacob finally got a lot more serious about honoring God at the end of his life.  But remember that when we spend our lives manipulating God like Jacob did, it has ramifications in eternity (see The Eternal Cost of Defying God: A Warning for Christians).

192. Spirits of divination. Sometimes when we are really seeking God would He allow us to be challenged by one? Can they read your thoughts? Why would they know me inside and out? Them, the individual talking, have descriptions or titles for themselves? Example: individual says something on your mind. You’re interested so you talk to them. They say I am Abodon or the thief on the cross. Does spiritual self-importance show if it is a test? Not judging the person, just the words.

Most Christians will tell you that demons can’t hear your thoughts or read your mind.  Most Christians are wrong.  Demons can not only hear your thoughts, they can also access all of your memories, they can access all of your secret fears and insecurities, and they can accurately assess your soul’s current attitude towards God.  These skills put them in an excellent position to manipulate you in a wide variety of ways.

Now do demons get involved when you are trying to seek God? Absolutely.  While demons can’t interrupt or block your soul’s communication with God, they can certainly try to get you distressed and confused by throwing a lot of extra noise into your head.  It’s kind of like trying to have a phone conversation with your friend Bob while three other guys are yelling at you.  All of that yelling makes it hard for you to concentrate on what Bob is saying.  Let’s say you’re really insecure about how Bob feels about you.  Let’s say you’re worried that maybe he doesn’t like you.  If this is the case, then if those men who are yelling at you start saying things like, “Bob hates you!  Bob thinks you’re so dumb!  Bob isn’t even listening to you right now!”, then you’d be even more upset.

Demons do these kinds of things to souls who are talking to God all the time.  They know all about your secret fears and insecurities, and they will intentionally amplify those things by planting thoughts in your head like “God hates you” or putting images in your mind of God scowling down at you, etc..  The tricks are endless, but they all boil down to the same bottom line of demons trying to make you feel hopeless about ever getting into a good place with God.

For more about the mind games, see Voices in Your Mind: Discerning Between God & Demons.

To learn about some of the more aggressive ways that demons try to attack your mind, see Mind Wars: Defending Against Demonic Voices in Your Head.

Also see Can demons read our minds?

Now there is a critical point to understand in all of this: God controls how much access demons have to you.  Demons never get free rein with you.  They’re always being hampered by limits that God is putting on them, and whenever God wants them to leave you alone, He just flicks them off of you.  In cases of “spiritual warfare”–which is what Christians call being harassed by demons–you need to be focusing on God, not demons.  Most Christian teaching will tell you to focus on demons by rebuking them, talking to them, and trying to identify them.  This is terrible advice.  Demons want you to focus on them.  Your rebuking them doesn’t intimidate them in the slightest.  You have no power whatsoever over demons–Christians will try to insist that you do, but you don’t.  Compared to demons, you’re like a powerless wimp.  But compared to God, demons are like carpet lint.  It is because God is in control of the situation that you don’t have to fear, because as long as you’re in a good place with Him, you can know that He’ll help you benefit from demonic harassment.  Trouble comes when you are getting snarky with God–that’s when He starts letting demons get very aggressive with you, and that gets very scary (here’s where we get into things like possessions, flying furniture, and creepy noises).

Demons hate humans.  You are like a disgusting yuck to them, and you’ll never get them to view you differently, so trying to negotiate with them or reason with them is an absolute waste of time.  This is what’s wrong with all of these souls who are trying to play around with ghosts and angels: they think that they can actually get demons to play nicely with them and serve them.  It doesn’t work this way.  Demons hate humans intensely, and they are very sadistic by nature, which means they totally delight in seeing us suffer in any way.  You’ll never flip a demon into an ally–but they love it when you try, because then they can just con you into accepting all kinds of lies that mess you up in other ways.

Now do demons have distinct personalities?  Probably. But can we identify and track them by their personalities?  No, we can’t.  Demons are like actors–they always come to us in disguises, and they change those disguises all the time.  So when a demon comes up to you and says “I’m the spirit of Jezebel,” that demon is just messing with you.  A lot of Christians are putting an enormous effort into trying to identify and track various demon “strongholds.”  Realize that anyone who talks about “the spirit of this or that” has no clue what they’re talking about.  Generally speaking, Christian teaching about spiritual warfare is filled with lies and a bunch of arrogant delusions.  Humans like to pretend that they’re a whole lot smarter than they are, and you’ll find both Christians and non-Christians getting totally sucked into an unhealthy obsession with demons.  Here’s an important discernment principle to bear in mind: God will always turn your focus onto God.  This means that any teaching on supernatural beings which is encouraging you to focus on those beings, pursue relationships with them, or be in awe of them should be thrown out as a dangerous deception.  God detests it when we obsess over created beings and He never encourages us to pursue spiritual relationships with any supernatural beings other than Himself.  So when you’re reading material about supernatural beings, always ask, “Who am I being encouraged to focus on?  Who is being exalted?”  If the answer isn’t God, then the teaching is garbage.

Now let’s talk about your specific situation.

A lot of people are messing around with demons because they either 1) don’t know better, or 2) do know better and are being spiritually rebellious by ignoring God’s convictions to stop.  In both of these camps, there are people who honestly think they are “dialed in” to the spiritual realm in a special way.  Christians call this “the gift of discernment” (and the way they use that term is not how we use it–see Spiritual Warfare in the Church: Delusions vs. Truth).  Many people foolishly think it’s some great thing to have a demon pay attention to them.  Instead of recognizing this for the bad thing that it is, they think it makes them stand out as special or “gifted.”  So they brag about their connections.

Now suppose someone comes up to you and says, “I am the spirit Abaddon.”  There are three ways to interpret this.

Option #1:

They are claiming to be an actual angelic being who is masquerading as a human being.  In this case, they are pulling the name Abaddon from Revelation 9. (You’ll find that a lot of people rip images and names from Revelation when they’re trying to flaunt their spiritual connections.)

This is going to be a rare situation.  There are some folks who are so into Occult practices that they have actually talked themselves into the idea that they are a god or some other super powerful being.  Such people won’t claim to be Christians, and they’ll probably be up to their eyeballs in an obsession with demonic beings.

Option #2:

The person wants you to view them as a spokesperson for a demon.  They are either imagining that they are possessed by a demon named Abaddon who is now speaking through them, or they are viewing themselves as being Abaddon’s eager servant.  In these cases, the person usually wishes they were possessed and controlled by a demon, because they are aggressively seeking the attention of supernatural beings.  In this situation, they are trying to impress you.  They want you to either react with fear (“Uh-oh!  It’s Abaddon!”), or be impressed by their connections (“Wow, you know Abaddon?”).  In these cases, the person is responding to promptings that demons are giving them, but they might not be very aware of this process.  Since demons know what you’re thinking, they can easily prompt the person to say something to you that will grab your attention.  The demons then try to bait you by having their human pawn claim to be their representative.

This is the most common scenario that you’ll come across: you’re talking to someone who is in love with demons and you really don’t want to give them a bunch of attention because they’re already on a major ego trip.

Option #3:

An actual demon is speaking to you through the person.  In this case, a demon has actually possessed the person (possession can be long-term or come and go briefly), and the demon is manipulating the person’s vocal cords to make them say what the demon wants to say.  In this case, the demon is using a name from Revelation 9 which he knows you have reason to be fearfully impressed by.  Is the demon’s name really Abaddon? No, he’s just playing games.

When demons act this overt, they want you to recognize their presence.  If you’re in a good place with God, you would probably feel like the person is emitting a very disturbing/creepy/evil aura as the demon radiates hate towards you.  In this case, the demon wants you to feel afraid and threatened by him.

If the demon knows that you’re personally veering off course and wanting to explore things that God tells us to stay away from, then the demon wants to fascinate you.  So you will feel a mystical, powerful, curiously fascinating aura around the person and you’ll probably want to know more about them.  In this case, the demon is trying to bait you and lure you into going down a wrong spiritual road.

The Ghost Scenario

Now if the person is claiming to be the thief on the cross, then you’re dealing with a ghost scenario.  They’re claiming to actually be a reincarnation of a dead human, or they’re claiming to  be channeling that human’s spirit.  Either way, it’s a total lie.  To learn more about ghosts, see Seances, Mediums & Ghosts.


You want to stay away from people who are trying to flaunt their connections with supernatural beings other than God.  You also want to stay away from Christians who are trying to get between you and God and tell you that you need their help to strengthen your connection to God or increase His interest in you.  Deliverance ministers are a good example here.  Anyone who tries to reduce your confidence in God’s willingness to directly communicate with you is not talking for God.

One final warning: beware of Christians who exaggerate the power that demons can have over you.  Yes, they know you very well.  Yes, they can read your thoughts and a bunch of other things.  But so what?  God is infinitely more powerful than demons, and God is the One you answer to in life.  So while you want to have a healthy respect for demons and understand that you can’t take them on by yourself, you need to save your admiration for God and make sure He is the only supernatural Being you’re pursuing on a soul level.

More Recommended Reading:
Spiritual Bondage: Exposing the Scam
The Power of Demons In Perspective
Lying Angels: How to Tell When You’re Being Duped by Supernatural Beings
Rebuking Demons
The Spirit of Jezebel: The Futility of Classifying Demons
Satan Q&A
How God Wants Us to Relate to Four Kinds of Beings

191. billy-bob

What a bizarre little article.  While it’s clear what they mean, they said it all wrong.

The traditional Trinity doctrine says that God is three Persons/Deities in one “Godhead.”

Modalism says that God is a single Being who has three different “modes” or aspects.  It’s really a big fuss over nothing, because both theories come down to the same key bottom line: God is a single Entity.  Whether you want to talk Persons or modes, by the time you roll them all together into one Divine Being, you’ve lost all sense of true separation.

In the article, the mom misspoke when she said she was trying to “instill heresy” into her son.  What she meant was that she was trying to get the kid to reject the traditional “trinitarian” view and switch to the modal view.  But as we said, in practice, these two doctrines are promoting the same principle.

So how will God react to this situation?  It’s all about soul attitudes.  A lot of parents are teaching their kids a lot of baloney about God, but they’re doing it for the right reasons: out of a sincere desire to honor God by passing on doctrines which they honestly think are correct.  God certainly doesn’t get mad at us for trying to do right, even when we’re confused about what right is.  When we’re sincerely seeking God on a soul level, confusion over modes isn’t going to stop us from finding the truth.

To be clear, what we teach is that Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three totally separate and distinct Deities who are not merged with Each Other in anyway.  We use the analogy of three best friends.  In the human world, we understand that three individuals can share the same passions, priorities, and abilities without having to merge into each other.

In your own life, you need to ask God how He wants you to perceive Him: one or three, modes or personalities.

189. Theo

Yes, the lying thing is a huge faith shaker and a taboo subject among most Christians.  But we’re all about covering taboo subjects, because we can’t grow closer to God by pretending His methods don’t bother us.

From what you shared, we’re very excited for you.  We know it’s terribly upsetting right now, but Christians who are willing to use the “L-word” in association with God are quite rare.  Most will go to their graves denying this aspect of God, no matter how much He gets in their faces with it.  You have definitely taken the wise choice by being honest about what God did and being willing to face the tidal wave of questions that that unleashes.  Excellent job taking the high road.  When He gets done cleaning up this mess that He’s made, your faith is going to be of a whole new caliber.

Irony abounds in spiritual maturity.  It is the breaking that leads to great strength. It is being overwhelmed with doubts that results in rock solid faith.  Christians shy away from the God lying issue because they are afraid of having their faith ruined.  And indeed at first it will feel like your faith has been blown apart.  But just wait.  What God destroys, He rebuilds even stronger.  It is vital to the faith building process that you be willing to endure trials like this.  So you are totally on the right track.

Ironically, the Bible is filled with evidence of God lying, but we’re taught not to see it.  Lying is nothing new with Him–it just feels new the first time He confronts us with it in our own lives.  For more on this, see:

Practicing Discernment: Yahweh Lies
Practicing Discernment: Jesus Lies

Now on something this huge, you need to set realistic expectations.  Maintaining a cheery attitude towards God when He’s blasting you with this kind of disillusionment is not possible or even desirable.  It’s total honesty that is going to take you the farthest the fastest, and that means you’ll probably have some ugly meltdowns along the way.  For help with this, see:

Angry at God
Cussing God Out: How Our Meltdowns Move Us Forward
The Trenches of Refinement: Too Upset to Praise

For more about the process of faith breakdown/strengthening, see: Faith in Crisis: How to Grow Through the Storm.

You need to see this whole thing as an invitation to get closer to God in your own life, because that’s what it is.  Ministries are fine, but they’re outward focused and meant to be temporary.  It’s not surprising that He chucked the ministry to clear the decks for you and Him to do some intense wrestling.  He’s cuing you that it’s time to go deeper–that’s thrilling stuff.  Stay honest.  Keep the lines of communication with Him open.  Don’t shy away from the scary questions.  Be willing to have Him rework your whole theology.  This is how you end up in a fabulous place.

188. “When Jesus chose out three of His disciples to share extra information with on earth, everyone knew He was showing favoritism.” Who are these three people and where in the Bible can I find it?

Jesus had many followers, but as you read through the Gospel accounts, you’ll find that He has different levels of engagement with them.  While side comments are made about “many people” following Jesus, special attention is given to “the twelve.”  It is twelve Jewish men–aka “the twelve disciples”–who Jesus paid special attention to (see Lesson 49).  Those twelve received extra instruction from Him and they spent the most time with Him.  When Jesus hops into a boat and goes sailing across the Sea of Galilee, it is often just the twelve who go with Him–not a huge fleet of boats.

Now if the twelve were Jesus’ “inner circle”, then Peter, James and John were His “inner-inner circle”.  James and John were brothers (the sons of Zebedee).  This James is different than the James who wrote the letter of James (that James is believed to be one of Jesus’ brothers).  Peter (aka Simon) was also part of a brother team, and his brother Andrew was also one of the twelve.  But it was only Peter, James and John who Jesus gave some special invitations to.  Once Jesus says “You three come with Me–the rest of you stay here,” that’s some obvious favoritism, and Jesus does do this with Peter, James and John.  One of the most notable events is the Transfiguration (see Know Your Bible Lesson 56: A Suicidal Savior & The Transfiguration).  It was only Peter, James and John who were invited by Jesus to hike up a mountain with Him and witness a miraculous scene.  Jesus then told those three not to share what had happened with the other nine when they returned (imagine how well that didn’t go over).  By doing these kinds of things, Jesus caused Peter, James and John to be viewed as having some higher rank among the twelve, and you’ll find that perception being emphasized in the book of Acts.  It is Peter and John who are perceived as being the top leaders in the early Church (James ends up executed).  Other signs of favoritism are revealed throughout the Gospel books.  Jesus assigns John to take care of His mother Mary after Jesus is gone.  Even though all of the disciples desert Jesus on the night of His crucifixion, it is only Peter’s denial which Jesus gives extra attention to.  First He says He’s praying for Peter to come through his trial, then later when He resurrects, He makes a point of emphasizing that Peter is still accepted by Him (note the mention of Peter in Mk. 16:6-8).  The night of Jesus’ arrest, He brings all of His disciples (except Judas) to Gethsemane with Him, but it is only Peter, James and John who He brings close to the site of His personal prayer time (Mk. 14:32-36, Lesson 67).  The famous Olivet Discourse was a private conversation between Jesus, Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Peter’s brother).

Remember that the four Gospel accounts are highly repetitive and don’t come anywhere close to reporting all of Jesus’ activities during His time in Israel.  They just give us highlights–select memories which the disciples chose to emphasize.  The fact that we find accounts of Peter, James and John receiving extra attention in the Gospel books indicates that this was a significant point to the twelve.  They could have downplayed these moments, but instead they made a point of specifying who was and wasn’t invited to events like the Transfiguration.

187. Transference

Transference is a common issue in counseling relationships.  It doesn’t mean you’re a jerk, it’s not your fault, and it’s not something you need to feel bad about.  On the contrary, you’ve done a stellar job of listening to God helping you identify that this is what’s going on.  To help you put this in perspective, let’s discuss some general principles.

For counseling relationships to be effective, the counselor needs to retain a degree of anonymity.  This means that they should not be sharing personal information about their background, family life, relationship status, personal preferences, etc. with their clients.  Clients who come in for counseling are in a very vulnerable position, often feeling overwhelmed by upsetting issues which they are discussing in detail for the first time.  The very experience of sharing intimate information about yourself with a stranger will cause you to immediately feel bonded to that person.  When you experience the counselor giving you attentive listening and compassionate feedback on issues that you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to other people about, that can easily intensify the bond you feel.  Such feelings tend to form without you even realizing it–rather like becoming infatuated with someone (aka “falling in love”).  And because the counselor is like a blank slate to you (since you know so little about them), it’s very easy to project or transfer all kinds of qualities on them that you want them to have.

It might help you to realize that people with a wide variety of issues can develop romantic/sexual/intense attraction to their counselors.  In other words, it’s not your specific issues that are causing you to do this–the mechanics are more general than that.  Certainly in your case, there are gender factors which help foster these kinds of feelings, but you could have a totally different kind of struggle and still end up in the same spot simply due to the fact that sharing intimate information forms feelings of closeness among humans.

So what’s the good news?  Well, if your counselor isn’t some manipulative sleaze who tries to take advantage of your situation, then these feelings will fade out on their own as you continue to progress on your own path to healing.  Happily, in your case you are progressing–we know it’s maddeningly slow, but it is happening.  You’ve made some huge breakthroughs in understanding the links between your past experiences and your present behaviors/addictions, etc..  Understanding these kinds of associations is a great step forward.

Now where transference takes a dark turn is when your counselor starts encouraging you to act on your romantic feelings towards them.  This is why we wrote Dealing with Trauma: Protecting Yourself from Bad Counselors–to help vulnerable people draw boundaries and to teach them how to recognize some warning signs of abusive counselors (such as your counselor trying to get physical with you–BIG red flag there).  Counselors who know what they’re doing aren’t going to freakout over transference.  This is a normal response pattern which will take care of itself as people keep moving forward.  Basically you’ll go from thinking we’re fabulous to thinking we’re just average joes again.  It’s like getting over a crush.

Now in case you’re wondering: why is it so important that counselors not get chummy with the people they’re trying to help?  Well, the counselor relationship is not a friendship.  This doesn’t mean the counselor doesn’t genuinely care about the people they are helping (if they don’t, then they’re in the wrong line of work).  But the counseling relationship is an advisory relationship in which the counselor needs to be seen as having greater authority in some areas.  For example, why do you take your car to a mechanic?  Because the guy knows more about cars than you do.  The fact that you take your car in to Mike doesn’t mean you worship Mike, nor does it mean you’ll do anything Mike tells you.  But if you don’t have some degree of confidence that Mike knows more about cars than you do, then you wouldn’t even be there.  On the subject of cars, Mike outranks you.  In the same way, the counselor is perceived as outranking the client when it comes to having understanding about certain matters.  This results in an imbalanced power structure: the counselor has more power than the client (with that power being symbolized by understanding).  All instructive relationships (teacher-student, parent-child, boss-employee) must have imbalanced power to function well.  If the power is equalized, then the instructive relationship becomes more like that of a peer friendship (see The Element of Power in Human Relationships).

In friendships, the sharing of personal information flows two ways.  In a healthy counseling relationship, only the client gets personal, while the counselor’s job is to give advice that does not involve the sharing of personal information.  If instead the counselor decides to start getting chummy by sharing a bunch of personal information, a major mess can quickly happen due to the client being upset by the information shared.  For example: Rob is a pedophile who has recently begun molesting kids.  He knows he’s out of control, he sincerely wants help, so he goes to counselor Emily.  This is the first time Rob has ever tried to get help for a really loaded issue.  It takes him three sessions before he can even get up the courage to start talking about his troubles.  If Rob is going to feel safe in this moment, he needs Emily to remain a neutral figure who is being empathetic towards him.  He can receive her empathy and consider her advice as long as she remains undefined in his mind.  But imagine how Rob would feel if in the middle of choking out a story of his recent molestation events, Emily were to suddenly pipe up and say she has a kid who is the same age as Rob’s latest victim.  Such information would probably make Rob feel incapable of sharing anymore.  Instead of seeing Emily as a safe harbor, he’ll probably look at her and see the mother of the kid who he just harmed, thus Emily would become a symbol of shame and guilt instead of a source of hope and help.  Rob’s personal knowledge of Emily would become like a distracting barrier which would make him feel like her empathy for him can’t be sincere and her advice must be tainted.

We could list off many more scenarios in which a counselor’s sharing of personal information causes clients to feel shut down, uncomfortable, and unable to receive help.  People who are seeking out counseling need instructional help–not a buddy.  Friendships are relationships in which both people must contribute and listening is a give and take affair.  People are who are in messes aren’t ready to hold up their end in a new relationship, and they often resent having their counselors put personal demands on them.  So if you’re going to counsel people, you need to act like a counselor, and that means you create a safe environment where trust can grow and help can be received.  Counselors should not be looking for personal fulfillment from their clients–such behavior is obnoxious and very damaging.  This isn’t to say that it’s not possible for counselors to ever become friends with former clients down the road–but such options shouldn’t even be explored until it is clear that the counseling relationship is totally terminated.  To blend formal counseling with peer friendship is a mess that just ends up hurting everyone.

So when does transference become a mess for the client?  Well, sometimes people decide that obsessing over a new distraction is more fun than doing the work of maturing.  In these cases, the client starts trying to hit on the counselor, and the counselor needs to then draw boundaries to protect everyone.  It’s on the counselor to be the mature on in these situations.  If the client is obnoxiously persistent and refusing to respect boundaries, then the counselor will need to terminate the relationship.  Remember that the majority of the power must remain on the counselor’s side, and that means the counselor does not agree to act like a doormat.  Mutual respect needs to be present in the relationship, and it’s on the counselor to draw boundaries where they need to be.  You can’t expect people who are in major messes to be good at boundaries, well-mannered, and emotionally in control.  Hurting people act like hurting people: tantrums are a common part of the process and the counselor often gets blasted with a range of positive and negative emotions, depending on what issues the client is working through.  But it’s a fabulous thing to get to participate in God’s work in another person’s life, it’s a privilege when people trust you with sensitive information, and it’s a great joy to see them making breakthroughs in their own lives.  So we love it.  And as you continue to progress, you are going to move out of transference and start feeling more hopeful about your own future.  Are you doomed to be forever “messed up” because of what happened to you?  Not at all.  You’re in the middle of a positive transformation here.  So while it’s good to understand the massive impact these kinds of experiences can have on your perception of yourself and on your approach to relationships, don’t let other people’s lists discourage you.  If anything, the stuff you read should show you that it’s not realistic to expect yourself to just get over this in a minute.  So you can’t climb a mountain in one day–is that a sign of failure?  Does it mean you’ll never get there?  Of course not.  With God leading this process, there is no limit to how much progress you can make.  He didn’t put you in this situation just to make your life a permanent misery.  This is like being airdropped in the middle of a jungle and having to hike your way back to civilization.  The journey is very miserable, but you learn a lot along the way and you end up changed in positive ways for having made the trek.

186. Help wanted

In couples counseling, it’s only the person who is willing to ask for help who can get help.  So even though you’re asking about your boyfriend, we’re going to talk about you, because you’re the one who is willing to recognize that there is a problem.  Indeed, there are a lot of problems with this situation, and a lot of them are coming from your end.  So let’s get into them.

You’re being a very lousy girlfriend in the way you’re treating this guy.  Since you feel it’s obvious that he’s a Christian, and since you know that the Christian moral code says that sex outside of marriage is wrong, why are you pressuring this guy to go against his convictions?  It is the strength of a man’s moral convictions which shape his character.  Don’t you want a man with good character?  Or do you want some sleaze who will jump in the sack with any sexy babe who comes along, regardless of whether he’s single or not?  What kind of man are you encouraging your boyfriend to be by putting the moves on him?  Are you encouraging him to take the high road in life?  No, you’re encouraging him to be owned by his hormones.  Well, this kind of thing is its own reward.  Keep rewarding your guy for blowing off his convictions and you’re going to end up with a guy who doesn’t have any.  You see, a man’s motivation to stay faithful to his woman and not flirt with others or sleep around comes from within himself–from his own respect for God’s Authority.  The purpose of dating is to look for a potential husband, not make sure everyone’s parts are in working order.  If you just want a guy to have sex with you, go to a bar and you’ll get plenty of offers.  If you want a man who will cherish and respect you, then you need to be rewarding signs of character and encouraging your man to be true to his convictions.  What you’re doing here is very self-destructive.  You’re encouraging your guy to live at the lowest level, and then you’re telling yourself that it’s some kind of score when you get him to cave in to urges that are common to most men.  And as you drag your guy down like this, what kind of girlfriend are you being?  Not a very good one.  If your boyfriend were to write in, we’d tell him to break up with you and find a woman who treats him better.  But that doesn’t solve your problems, because you’re going to carry this same destructive behavior into your next relationship unless you start making some major changes.

When you go fishing, the kind of bait you use has a major impact on what kinds of fish are even going to be attracted to your hook.  The same is true in the world of human relationships.  When you play the part of the giggling airhead who acts like it’s cute when your man chucks his morals out the window, you’re going to end up repulsing men who are determined to treat their women well.  Such men are working hard to maintain high character, and they aren’t going to waste it on a woman who doesn’t recognize or appreciate its value.  So if you want a good man, you need to make some major changes to the way that you’re approaching men, and you need to start rewarding character instead of compromise.

Another major issue that you need to think about is why you’re gambling with sex at all when you’re in such a vulnerable position.  As the woman, you’re the one who will turn up pregnant when the birth control suddenly fails.  What’s your back up plan?  Try to use your pregnant state to guilt your man into marrying you?  Don’t put your hopes on that one.  After you’ve encouraged your man to not take the high road in this area, why should he be willing to shelve his dreams just to stay with you?  And with him dumping you like a hot potato, what are your other choices?  Drop out of school and be a single mom?  Go through the trauma of an abortion?  Go through nine months of mockery and then adopt the kid out?  When you have sex with a man who clearly hasn’t decided yet whether you’re worth marrying, you are only setting yourself up for disaster.  The fact that this guy is even trying to get you in bed without marrying you tells you that his respect for you is not strong enough to outweigh his own desire for physical gratification.  So if you don’t mean more to him than an orgasm, why are you still with him?  Why are you viewing yourself so cheaply?  Why are you viewing your body like something that should be handed over for free to some guy who is hot in his pants?  Why aren’t you insisting on commitment first?

Women who act like you do are a dime a dozen, and they are usually caught in the trap of symbolic sex. This is when you attach meanings to intercourse that it just doesn’t have.  Many women fall into the major trap of thinking that giving their man sex before he’s committed to her in marriage is going to increase his emotional bond to her.  But no, this actually has the opposite effect.  Men and women view sex very differently.  For women, sex is primarily a way to emotionally bond.  For men, the physical element to sex has much greater significance than it does for women.  Men are also more able to compartmentalize the whole sexual experience.  The end result is that while having sex makes you feel more bonded to your man, it can have the opposite effect on him.  Once you encourage a man to separate the physical rush of sex from his emotional/psychological commitment to you, he will end up viewing you like he would some prostitute who he paid for a night of physical pleasure.  Only you’re better than the prostitute, because you don’t charge.  In fact, you don’t make any demands on him–you just come running whenever he starts putting moves on you.  The longer you act this way, the less respect he has for you.  You become like the free promotional item a store gives away at the door.  Such items are automatically viewed as being of less quality (because they usually are).  When a man finally gets around to wanting a woman he can seriously commit himself to, he is going to dump you and start looking for a woman with better character.

There’s just no appeal in trying to win or impress a woman who is giving it all away for free.  There’s no satisfaction in winning a woman who you figure would sleep with any guy who came along.  So you see, saving your sex for marriage is about a lot more than just pleasing the Christian God.  As the Creator of humans, God has intentionally designed us to experience misery when we blow off His moral code.  There are psychological realities that come into play when you start sleeping with a guy who is not willing to put it all on the line for you.  And a guy is not going to put anything on the line unless you demand it and behave in a way that convinces him that you’re worth the price you’re charging.  Men of quality want to find women who are worth fighting for.  They don’t mind making some sacrifices when they feel like they are investing in something that is really worth having.  When you act like you’re worth a lot, you will start attracting men who are looking for high quality.  When you act like you’re some freebie, men who want quality are going to pass you by.  Morals aside, you’re totally sabotaging yourself by sleeping with a man who isn’t willing to marry you and commit himself to you emotionally, financially, and materially.

Now all of that said, your boyfriend’s conflicted response to getting sexual with you is far more common than you think. This kind of freak out is driven by either an intense moral conflict or unprocessed trauma.  Part of him wants it, another part of him really doesn’t.  There you are, being utterly unhelpful in pressuring him to go all the way with you, and so he finally gives in.  But when he does, it blows up in his face because his reasons for not wanting sex become intensified.  So how do you respond well to this situation?  You back off.  Pressuring him about this issue in any way is the worst move you can make.  His behavior clearly shows an aversion to being physical with you (and likely any woman).  When you keep pawing him, you’re showing no respect for his distress, and this is going to increase his desire to get away from you.  If you want to have any hope of salvaging this situation, you need to give him space, drop the subject, and wait for him to bring it up if/when he’s ready to do so.  But be aware that your behavior so far hasn’t made you come across as a very safe person to talk to about some gut wrenching issue, so he might not want to talk to you at all.  To help you understand more about this, let’s break it down.

If this freak out is being triggered by a moral crisis, then your boyfriend is feeling in conflict with God, and that is a major issue.  Since you’ve been showing no regard for God’s standards on sexual purity so far–and since you’ve been encouraging your boyfriend to disrespect God by rewarding him for getting hands on with you, then how useful would you be if he tried to discuss his concerns with you?  If he were to say, “I feel like I did something terribly wrong by sleeping with you because I know God was telling me not to,” what are you going to say?  Perhaps something like: “It’s okay, babe, He’s only the Guy who controls Heaven and Hell–why should His opinion matter?  Let’s make out and spit on His standards again.  It’s all about what we want.  Who needs God?”  Are you honestly in a place where you can grasp the importance of being in alignment with God?  If not, then you’re going to be prone to mocking your man’s convictions or you’re going to pressure him to choose between you and God by trying to convince him that he’s “overreacting” to care so much about what God wants.  This is of course terrible advice on your part, and it will get you into big trouble with God yourself, but that’s a different conversation.  The point is that you have not proven yourself to be a useful source of help on the topic of sexual morals or on the subject of respecting God because you’re not showing much respect for Him yourself.  You see, your past behavior in a relationship comes back to haunt you in the future.  This is why we’re saying you need to make some serious changes to the way you’re approaching men.

Now if this is a case of unprocessed trauma, then you’re in way over your head.  Your guy needs to talk to someone who can help him identify the past negative experiences that are causing him to feel intensely threatened by physical intimacy.  This kind of situation is very serious and needs the right kind of handling.  Pressuring him to just get over it by putting moves on him is only going to exacerbate the problem and cause him to want to cut you entirely out of his life.

It takes special equipping, extra maturity, and a boatload of compassion and patience to take on a partner who has unresolved sexual trauma.  Such people often need very delicate handling in the bedroom, and they need to have the freedom to immediately disengage from all sexual activities on a second’s notice.  If you’re invested in getting your own sexual needs met, you are not a match for someone who is coming out of sexual trauma.  Sex must never be allowed to have coercive elements in marital relationships, and traumatized people tend to read coercion into many normal activities.  To give them time to heal, the non-traumatized partner must be willing to go without sex for as long as the traumatized partner needs (and in some extreme cases, that’s forever). They also need to be able to get into an outward focused mentality in which they are more invested in helping their partner be comfortable than they are in getting a specific kind of physical experience.

Right now you don’t know which of these two camps your boyfriend is in because he’s not communicating with you. Your best chance of ever having him share with you is for you to totally back off and cease all pressure.  Stop physically engaging with him in any way, don’t hound him with text messages, and don’t try to initiate any kind of romantic interactions.  Give him total space and he might eventually risk trusting you with some explanation. Meanwhile, you need to give serious thought as to how you can start being a much better girlfriend and a wiser woman.  Digging deeper about your own motivations for giving yourself away so cheaply and giving serious thought as to what sex means to you are useful places to start, and for that we recommend the following articles:

Help for Sex Addicts: Understanding Symbolic Sex
Dating Essentials: Real Love vs. Infatuation
Dating Guidelines for Christian Singles

185. Ji Eun

Picturing yourself sitting on God’s lap is great imagery to use for prayer because it helps you connect with how close He is and how personal your relationship with Him is.  You definitely don’t need to be concerned that you can’t picture interacting with all three of Them like this at once.  Our imaginations are limited, and our logic holds us back in the kinds of spatial relationships that we can picture.  What matters is that you care about Them all and you’re eager to hear from Them all.  It’s totally natural to start off focusing on one God more than the Others.  In time, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will give you imagery to use that will help you feel more connected to Them as well.  Until They do, feeling less comfortable around the Ones you are less familiar with is normal.  It’s Their job to make you feel more relaxed with Them by establishing personal dynamics with you.  Meanwhile, you’re not excluding Them, and They know that, so enjoy developing your dynamic with Yahweh and trust that Jesus and the Holy Spirit will start engaging with you more when They’re ready to do so.

183. Sally

Yes, there is a lot to learn, but remember that God is delighted with souls who are seeking Him as sincerely as you are.  Keep up the great soul choices!  You are doing fabulously.  The fact that He is helping you understand these things is a clear demonstration of Him rewarding your soul choices by helping you know Him better.  It is a great privilege to have God Almighty invite you closer to Him in such a personal way.  He’s doing this with you, and no one can take His approval away from you.

182. The God Compass

Great imagery!  God is certainly a Master of metaphors and He knows how to put together images that will really help us grasp critical concepts.  It’s great that you’re hearing Him so clearly and being receptive to His message.

181. Concerning ‘intercessory prayer’, is it true that at times God will still guide us to pray for other people based on the following Bible teachings:
1. Isaiah 59:16, It seems like God was anticipating some intercessors to pray for what He wanted to do.

See Isaiah 58-59: Rebellious Jews & Warrior Yahweh.

2. Amos 3:7, I always thought His faithful servants were honored in praying for things/people when invited to work with Him

See Amos 2-4: Yahweh’s Wrath in Context.

3. Luke 22:32, I thought Jesus set up a model here for us to follow (to pray for our brothers/sisters)

See the section Jesus Stresses Over Satan Attacking Us in Practicing Discernment: Jesus Lies.

“Praying for other people” usually takes up to at least 50% of my prayer time, it is a great shock to learn that we don’t need to do intercessory prayer, and we don’t need to pray for the lost. Do you actually mean that we don’t need to “take the initiative” to pray for others, but if God
put heavy burden on our heart, if God prompts us, then we should follow and pray? Or do you mean that “intercessory prayer” is a thing of past, we don’t need it in the New Covenant?

Intercessory prayer has never been appropriate under either Covenant or before there was a Covenant.  To understand why, see Treating God Like God: Simple Steps to Improving the Way that We Pray.

180. I now realize I have been stumbling around for a long time and have gone too far from focusing on my Gods as I should have. The harsher the situation, I should have held on to the Lord more tightly but I’ve let go without noticing and strayed for too long. I discovered several days ago that I do not understand some concepts about God that is quite basic and felt something is really wrong.

Realize that a lot of things about God seem “basic” when He first teaches them to us, because He has a way of making the truth sound super obvious.  It doesn’t mean you’re straying just because He is suddenly teaching you some new concept that feels very simple and basic.

I know that God will hold on to me and that the reason I could realize I’ve been wrong is because He did not give up on me.

Yes, but God also doesn’t expect you to know everything.  Remember that He enjoys teaching you, and He is intentionally dragging out that process.  He could just download a complete understanding of truth in your brain, but He doesn’t want to because He enjoys walking through the learning process with you.  God’s love for you is not so shallow that He is going to drop you the moment you drift.

But I don’t think I’m repenting hard enough. I don’t think I’m really feeling it. I don’t know if I mean it, because I already know what I should say. I have already learned how I should think and how I should feel about God’s involvement in my life- I already know the words and the emotions- and so I’m worried if I’m acting it out. I’m worried I’m not truthful even to Him.  When David sinned, he repented. But he felt really bad about what He has done. Strongly. But my repentance is not strong at all, It was almost just ‘noticing something is wrong and kinda wanting to get back on track’. I know this is better than just sitting around and not caring how God thinks of me, but I think I should have much more fear of the Lord. It’s as if I’m taking His forgiveness for granted.

You’re confusing being emotional with being sincere.  These two things are not the same.  Some people cry over every little thing.  Other people never cry, even when something really bad happens.  God is not measuring your interest in Him by how emotionally worked up you are.  He knows you inside and out.  The very fact that you’re worried about not repenting enough demonstrates that your soul has plenty of concern for God.

Be careful with trying to use David as a model here.  In Psalm 51, David is not being a good model of repentance.  Instead, he’s panicking in the midst of condemnation.  Instead of accepting God’s forgiveness of him and trusting in God’s mercy, David is pleading for Yahweh not to utterly abandon him.  In other words, David is talking as if he has not been forgiven instead of resting in the fact that he has.  This is a very common pattern for humans: when we are shocked and disgusted by our own behavior, we expect God to be the same and we have a very hard time receiving His mercy.

Picture yourself walking down a path with God.  You wander off for a moment to go look at something.  He walks over to you, takes your hand, and gently but firmly pulls you back onto the path.  As He’s doing this, you realize that you’ve wandered off course.  So how does God want you to respond?  Does He want you to go into a big meltdown and cry and apologize fifty times and say what a worm you were for ever wandering away from Him?  Not at all.  God wants you to be glad He pulled you back and then enjoy being back in step with Him. He wants you to move on and stop focusing on the fact that you strayed away because that is now in the past and He’s over it.

In your relationship with God, you need to develop confidence in His faithfulness to you.  In order to teach you this, He will set up situations in which you will have the chance to experience Him coming after you because you’ve wandered off or had some little fit of rebellion.  If you never see God pulling you back to Him, you will fall into the trap of thinking that you’re the one holding the relationship together.  This wrong idea will result in all kinds of stress that you won’t be able to handle.  If God is not faithful to you, you  have no hope at all because you are incapable of staying faithful to Him all of the time.  Because you sincerely care about pleasing God, you can be sure that He is not going to let you just wander off without hauling you back.

The lessons here are as follows:

  • Developing confidence in God’s faithfulness to you by experiencing Him pulling you back to Him after you’ve drifted off.  Realizing that it’s not on you to keep yourself faithful, but that you can count on Him to keep you close.
  • Learning about how simple and fast the process of repentance is.  You don’t have to prove your sincerity to God with emotions or perfect actions.  He sees into your soul, and your desire for Him is clear to Him regardless of how “into Him” you think you look on the outside.
  • Understanding that spiritual maturity is a process and that God does not want you to learn everything right now.  You say that you need more reverence for God–we all do.  There is no such thing as getting enough reverence for God.  There will always be more things to learn, more ways to mature.  This is what makes relating to God so exciting: the constant change, the never ending stream of new insights.

You’re doing great, and this is just a new opportunity to learn more good news about how God relates to you.  Remember that you only worry about losing the things that matter to you.  You obviously care about God’s opinion of you, or you wouldn’t even be asking these questions.  The old “You aren’t sorry enough” routine is one that demons try to play on all sincere Christians.  But as we grow, we learn that staying in alignment with God is much simpler and easier than we thought.

Repentance Q&A
Conviction Q&A

179. many questions

We aren’t posting your question to protect the privacy of the people whose situations you described.  However, your very defensive stance with us is not necessary.  We do not shy away from discussing the hideous things God causes in this world.  While plenty of other Christians would get mad at you for trying to associate God with this kind of abuse and assault, we are one of the few groups who push people to make the connection between God and evil, because understanding His sovereignty is critical to developing proper submission.

Yes, God certainly does do all of the things you mentioned–and a ton more.  This world is an ocean of horrific pain and brokenness.  God creates us, then finds a way to break us.  This is a very intentional part of His plan and you’re not supposed to like it.  You’re supposed to react exactly as you are: by feeling deeply disturbed and seriously questioning His Character.  From where you’re sitting, God looks like a hideous Monster.  Could He change your judgment of Him by providing you with more information about what He was doing in each of those people’s lives?  Of course, but He’s not going to.  He wants this crisis to be just as it is: you facing piles of evidence that He is not good, fair, or trustworthy.

So what’s the purpose of this?  Well, you’re fixating on the issue of trust, but that’s really not what this is about.  This kind of dilemma is a crisis of submission.  The fact that you don’t approve of God makes it feel like you have valid grounds for not submitting to Him.  And yet submission has nothing to do with approval, it has to do with accepting your place as a creature who is outranked by God whether you want to be or not.

What if God really is the total Creep that your logical mind is telling you that He is right now?  What if He really is the kind of Being who gets off on causing His creatures to suffer in hideous ways?  Does this make Him any less God?   Does this give you the ability to distance yourself from Him or be less dependent on Him?  God demands submission from you.  You naturally feel that your submission to Him should be rewarded with blessings.  But why?  He’s God, and this is entirely His game.  We can hate Him all day, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have to deal with Him and His demands.  For you, the productive prayer would be something like this:

“God, I think You’re a horrible Monster and I can’t see any justification for the things You do.  You terrify me and I can’t imagine how I could ever begin to trust You.  But You are still the Supreme Authority, and I am the created speck.  It’s really not my place to approve or disapprove of You.  I am not Your judge, but You are mine.  I don’t know what to do with all of this anger I have towards You.  I can’t find a way to forgive You for the way that You have hurt me personally, and my own pain is causing me to fixate on the pain of others.  I’m casting judgments about Your work in situations that I can’t begin to fully understand and I’m looking for evidence that You are cruel.  I’m so focused on the ways You hurt people that I can’t see any of the good that You do.  I don’t approve of You.  I don’t even like You.  But what does it even matter when I am not Your judge?  Please help me submit to You in the face of all of this.  Help me embrace my place as Your subordinate and to stop viewing my approval of You as so important.”

We know a prayer like this isn’t easy, but focusing on submission is the most helpful approach in these kinds of situations.  You want peace from all of this stress, and pursuing submission is how you get there, because submission does not involve having to like or approve of God.

We know that you’re not trying to rebel, but this post discusses principles about submission that are relevant to your situation: Real Talk for Angry Rebels: Negotiating Your Return to God.  A lot of atheists are clinging to atheism because of the same issues that you’re currently grappling with: they can’t stand the way God operates, and they’ve decided that trying to cut ties with Him is the wisest choice.  And yet whenever we find ourselves disgusted with God, focusing on submission is the key to finding peace of soul.

177. What do you think about the Illuminati?

We assume you are referring to a secret society of humans who call themselves “The Illuminati” and boast of having superior talents and intellect.  One website which claims to be officially representing The Illuminati defines the group this way:

The Illuminati is an elite organization of world leaders, business authorities, innovators, artists, and other influential members of this planet. Our coalition unites influencers of all political, religious, and geographical backgrounds to further the prosperity of the human species as a whole.

While many of our operations require anonymity for the safety of our members, we strive to create a better understanding between us and the people we have been entrusted to protect.

And who was it that entrusted this small group of humans with the task of protecting and nurturing the entire human race?  Apparently they entrusted themselves with this task, and now that they’ve decided to play the role of God in this world, they arrogantly take credit for everything that happens in it.  Here’s another quote:

You may not find us praised in any history book or document. However, the Illuminati has helped with every major movement on this planet since the first human government was established. Our work is often marked by distinct symbols as a means of tracing our influence through history for those wishing to investigate.

With gentle guidance from our organization, the human species is allowed to function in their natural order while playing the part of gears in a machine for the betterment of the world.

These people are so high on themselves that they claim that the rest of us are just pawns in their hands–we’re just “gears in a machine” which the Illumanti are “allowing” to function in a way that pleases them.  What a bunch of ego run amuck.

Focusing on soul attitudes is a great way to practice discernment.  Folks who are honoring God with their actions and teachings will be exalting God (not themselves), and they will be promoting the four soul attitudes of reverence, submission, dependency and trust.  They might not use those words, but you will be able to identify those themes in the things that they teach.

Read through the above quote again and ask yourself, “Who do the Illuminati say we are dependent on in life?”  These fatheads are teaching that the entire human race is dependent on the Illuminati, not on God, for guidance, protection, and wisdom.  The Illuminati claim that all humans are drawn towards “the Light”–a mystical, undefined, “invisible guide” or “force.”  In other words, they are just using the phrase “the Light” to avoid using the controversial term “God.”  But here’s where it really gets lame, because notice how the Illuminati instruct people to pursue “the Light”:

By studying the wisdom of this planet’s greatest minds, humans can discover ways to increase the Light’s powerful influence in their lives.

Once again, the dependency is being focused on the wrong target: we’re being told to focus on humans instead of God.  We’re being told that if we study the wisdom of the planet’s “greatest minds”–which is how the Illuminati so modestly refer to themselves–then we’ll increase “the Light’s” influence in our lives.  This is just New Age rubbish.

We do not question whether a god does or does not exist, but rather focus on the betterment of the humans living on this planet.

How wise can these people be if they don’t seriously question where they came from and Who they might be accountable to?  As they openly share how they personally choose to focus on humans instead of seriously pursuing God, they demonstrate how non-existent their wisdom is.

Whatever you seek, whatever you dream, whatever you hope: all is possible if you follow the Light.

This is more New Age rubbish.  The New Age mentality is one in which you end up acting like you’re the god of the universe by claiming that you can simply manipulate other people and the whole world to behave the way you want it to (see New Age and The Law of Attraction & the True Source of Our Troubles).

If it was really true that we could have whatever we wanted simply by willing others to submit to our agendas, then Hell would be non-existent, we’d never be sick a day in our lives, we’d all be rich and mega popular, we’d never let our loved ones die before us, and we’d never get stuck in traffic or stub or toes on furniture.  The Illuminati are flaunting their spiritual foolishness by claiming to believe that humans can control the universe through any means.  Their frequent exaltation of their own brilliance demonstrates their total lack of humility and their refusal to accept their total dependency on God.  Anyone who says, “I don’t think the concept of a Creator is really worth digging into” is a total dingdong.  If there is even the remotest possibility that some non-human is going to be holding you accountable for your actions on earth and damning you to some hideous existence if you fail to meet His expectations, then how do you not want to look into that?  If you think that the existence of God can’t be disproved, then that should cause you to focus on Him more, not less.

If someone told you that a rabid beast might be sitting just outside your front door, wouldn’t you find ways to investigate the truth of that claim before opening the door?  Of course you would.  And yet when the Christian Gods say, “If you humans don’t submit to our Authority, we’re going to hurl you into Hell for all of eternity,” the Illuminati respond by deciding that it really isn’t important to figure out the true identity of “the Light” or what the “the Light” might be demanding of them.  Always look for evidence of those four soul attitudes we mentioned and you’ll be able to spot spiritual fools a lot faster.  Folks who are really passing on the wisdom of God will be exalting Him, not themselves, and they will be telling you that pleasing Him is what matters most. When God speaks, He always exalts Himself.  He doesn’t encourage us to idolize some silly secret society of adults who think way too much of their own abilities.

176. English is my secondary language, please help me understand the word ‘charade’ in ‘you need to stop confusing His human charade on earth with His Divine Identity’ from the message Problematic Worship Songs: THIS I BELIEVE (The Creed) by Hillsong. My dictionary only gives this translation: “a comic show” (such as “I love Lucy” or “Three’s company”). Could you please explain how we should interpret “His human charade on earth”? 

Yes, and we are glad you asked.  Language dictionaries often do not give full definitions, so it is easy to get confused.  But your English is better than the English of many native speakers, so great job with learning multiple languages.

A charade can mean many things.  One definition is an act or pretense.  For example, you have a friend who is a bad cook.  She invites you to eat at her house.  When you taste the food, you do not like it.  Because you do not want to be rude, you pretend to like it.  When she asks, “Do you like my food?”, you put on a polite charade or act by smiling and saying, “Oh, yes, it is very good.”  You are lying on purpose.  You are hiding your true feelings from her because you do not want to hurt her feelings.

Jesus is not a human.  He is a totally different kind of being.  So when He came to earth in the form of a human baby, He was putting on a false act or pretense or charade of being just a human.  He was hiding His true identity on purpose.  But why would He do that?  Well, that’s a long answer.

Our Gods use many different methods of teaching us.  The Jews had a long history with Yahweh–they had received a lot of instruction from Him and a lot of special messages.  That is why Yahweh called the Jews “My chosen people”–it was because He had chosen them out for a special education.  Imagine if you work at a large company and your boss says to you and five other people: “I have decided to give the six of you special training so that you will be able to work in a different department.”  The fact that you were chosen out to receive extra information gives you an advantage over the other people who work at the company–but it also gives you more responsibility, because now you need to be sure to use your new training well or your boss will be mad at you.

This is how it was with Yahweh and the Jews: He gave the Jews extra information about who He was.  Then He said that they were responsible for using that information well.  But they didn’t.  Instead of obeying Yahweh, they rebelled against Him for many centuries.

Now Jesus didn’t have to come to earth at all.  He could have introduced Himself to humans any way that He wanted.  But like Yahweh, Jesus also decided to give the Jews extra help.  By the time He came to Israel as a human, the Jews were way off course from where Yahweh wanted them to be.  They were all confused about what God wanted and they were teaching each other lies about how salvation worked.  By showing up as a human and living among them, Jesus was able to give them a clear demonstration of what pleasing God looked like.  The purpose of Jesus’ human act or charade was to show or model for people what true devotion to God looked like.  Jesus stood up against the religious leaders of His day, because those leaders were disobeying God.  Jesus made a lot of enemies, He was poor, He had no permanent home.  When people saw Him living such a strange life, they would ask why He was doing what He was doing.  Jesus would then say that He was obeying God, and by saying that, He modeled what it looks like to put God first.

Jesus lived in a society that was very religious and very opposed to God’s truth.  True believers were bullied and shunned and treated badly.  But Jesus didn’t let anyone stop Him from obeying God, and He was even willing to obey God by getting crucified–that’s how dedicated He was.

Now what we’ve just described was all part of Jesus’ human charade.  But while He pretended to be a human who was very devoted to pleasing Yahweh, in reality He was also a God and He was doing what He wanted to do–He wasn’t just taking orders from Yahweh.  Jesus pretended to be serving Yahweh, when in reality He and Yahweh planned the whole thing together.  The goal was to get the Jews back on track by teaching them truth, pointing out the wrong beliefs they were clinging to, and giving them a human demonstration of what total devotion to God looks like.  At the same time, Jesus began teaching them new ideas and to help them transition or change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant–and that meant getting them ready to accept the idea of multiple Gods.

There is a lot more that can be said on this subject, and if you want to learn more about the lessons Jesus taught people through the cross and Gethsemane and other parts of His human act, we recommend the following posts:

Know Your Bible Lesson 67: Fully God & Only God
Know Your Bible Lesson 69: Understanding the CrossJesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God
Impressing the Devil: Jesus’ Self-Exalting Temptation Story

175. Uncle Bob

Thanks to God inspiring humans to create that blessed invention called air conditioning, our personal experience of the heatwave is quite manageable.  Extreme weather always serves as a good reminder of how easy it would be for God to freeze or fry us all, and that in turn helps us remember how totally dependent we are on Him for all things.  Weather is also a fabulous reminder of how intimately God is involved in all human affairs: deciding who will get sun, who will get rain, etc..  For a great passage in which Yahweh refers to His manipulation of the weather and other elements of nature as a means of spiritual discipline, check out Amos 4:6-13.

174. Tania

It’s great that you’ve been able to recall the initial traumatic event that triggered this fear.  Seeing someone cough up blood is very upsetting, and it’s a striking departure from normal vomit.  Children are very sensitive to the reactions of adults, and they rely on adults to help them determine how serious a situation is.  In your case, you sensed adults cuing you that your best friend was in grave danger and it all seemed to have to do with her coughing up blood.  While all of the attention was on your friend, you were left with overwhelming fears and an imagination running wild with scary “what if” scenarios.  Because you weren’t getting help, you ran away, and being alone only increased your fears.

When fears aren’t dealt with, our minds go through a process called generalizing.  This is when you start getting less specific about the kinds of triggers that make you feel afraid.  For example, when she is young, Molly is bitten by a spider.  This experience terrifies her.  After that, every time she sees a spider, she panics.  But as time goes on, her mind starts generalizing, and soon it’s any black bug with lots of legs that makes her start screaming.  As more time goes on and she doesn’t deal with her fears, she generalizes even more and she becomes afraid of flying bugs as well.  This is a very common pattern with fears that are left unresolved–the number of things (stimuli) that trigger the fears grows greater and greater until the person starts feeling really restricted.

What happened to your friend was different than regular vomit.  She was coughing up blood.  But today, your mind has generalized and you’re not just afraid of someone coughing up blood.  You’re afraid of any form of throwing up.  But notice how you’ve decided that it’s extremely likely that other people will vomit in your presence.  In real life, having people vomit in public isn’t that frequent of an event (at least not in America).  And since you personally have a long history of being sick yourself and recovering afterwards, you have good reasons to not be afraid. So why isn’t your personal history of vomiting helping you put this kind of sickness in perspective?  Because it’s not really the vomiting that you’re afraid of–this is a fear about death.

All humans find dying to be a scary experience because they can’t see what comes after it.  Humans feel scared by what they don’t understand, and when we die, it’s like we walk through a door and we can’t see what’s on the other side.  Losing someone we love is another fear–how do we deal with the loneliness of being left behind?  And what happened to our friend?

The good news for you is that you can definitely move past this fear of vomiting by getting more comfortable with the concept of death.  And if you want to go into the medical field, you shouldn’t find all of this discouraging, because it’s like God is speeding you down the road by bringing up the issue of death so early for you.  All surgeons have to learn to deal with death, and no one finds this easy.  You are wrong to think that no doctors deal with personal phobias–they certainly do.  Doctors are humans, and all humans struggle with fears.  So the fact that you’re struggling doesn’t at all mean that you can’t be a doctor. On the contrary, dealing with your own fears of death will make you that much better of a doctor because death is a major theme in the medical field.

So how does a human learn to stop fearing death?  There’s only one way:  you need to get more in tune with the Divine view of life and death.  Because you already know the real Gods, you’re well on your way, and the more you learn to view death like They do, the less scary it will seem.

To start moving past these fears, you need a change of perspective, and that means gaining more education about how things really are.  We recommend that you focus on the following three topics.

 1 – The Sovereignty of God.

God is in absolute control at all times.  He is intimately involved in every detail of everyone’s life.  Once you understand this, you understand that nothing happens at random.  Instead, everything is being controlled by God, and He is causing things to happen for purposeful reasons.

2 – The Character of God.

What makes God’s sovereignty so comforting is that He is so good in Character.  Because God loves humans, He doesn’t hurt us just to do it.  Instead, He creates problems in our lives in order to give us opportunities to learn some positive lessons and change in positive ways.  Take your own experience with thinking your friend was dying: this was an experience which God brought into your life on purpose.  He knew it would upset you at first, but He also knew that it could really benefit you by helping you think about things which you would normally not think about.  Humans don’t want to think about death–but when we’re forced to, we end up learning some very comforting truths.

3 – God’s View of Death

What happens when we die?  Where do we go?  Does God blame you for someone else dying?  What determines when someone dies?  Why do people die at different times?  These are all important questions and we have answers to all of them and more on this site.

What we recommend is that you read through any articles that stand out to you in the following categories:

We also recommend that you ask God to help you release other humans into His hands and to gain confidence in His personal love for you.  Part of the panic that you’re having is feeling like you’ll be faced with a crisis that you can’t fix, then you’ll be blamed for not fixing it.  This is an issue that surgeons have to learn how to deal with, so again, God is bringing up things that are very relevant to the line of work that you want to go into.  The good news is that God doesn’t expect you to save other people–that’s His job.  Your friend who coughed up blood was never abandoned by God.  Regardless of how she personally felt about God, or whether she knew Him or not, God was taking care of her the whole time and He never expected you to save her.

Here’s some good news about God: He never trusts you with God-sized tasks.  He never puts other people’s lives into your hands because He knows that is too much for you to deal with.  When God asks us to do something for Him, He is very clear about what He wants.  But even when we’re trying to do stuff for God, we’re never acting on our own.  God is like the dad who says, “I’d like you to draw me a picture.”  And then when you go to do it, he is holding your hand the whole time and controlling the way you move each crayon so that the picture comes out just like you want.  The point is that you can’t mess up God’s universe for Him. You can’t wreck other people’s lives because He never gives you that kind of power.  The most God ever does is invite you to come along and participate in something that He’s going to do.  If you come, you will have the opportunity to hang out with God and learn something.  If you refuse to come, God will still accomplish what He wants to do without you.  Because God doesn’t depend on you for anything, you never need to worry about Him blaming you for killing people or not knowing what to do in a crisis moment.  If God wants you to be super brave and rescue someone, He can make you that way. If He wants you to have all of the answers, He can give them to you.  But when instead you find yourself frozen in fear or running away to hide, God isn’t mad at you.  He doesn’t blame you for not having resources that He didn’t give you.

The key to getting over your fear of what happened when you were six is to learn to see it differently.  At the time it felt like a terrible crisis which no one was in control of.  But the truth is that God was in total control of that situation and nothing was ever going to happen that He didn’t want to happen.  Because God cared about everyone involved–you, your friend, and the adults–everyone was in safe hands.

The more we learn about how God works, the more we learn that just because things aren’t going the way we want them to doesn’t mean things are falling apart.  God has very good reasons for what He does, and He’s out to help us, not harm us.  So even when He puts us through upsetting or scary experiences, His end goal is to have those experiences change us in positive ways.

The natural world that God created is full of helpful metaphors that help us understand the way God works.  For example, when you plant a seed into the ground, your goal is to have that seed grow into a flowering plant.  But before the seed can become a beautiful flowering plant, it must first sprout, and in the process of sprouting, the seed is destroyed.  If you just focus on what happens to the seed, you’d say, “Sprouting is a terrible, destructive process!”  But if you wait and see what is accomplished, you’d say, “Wow, by going through this destructive process, the seed is changed into something totally different and far more beautiful.”  This is how God works in our lives as well: He puts us through upsetting experiences that sometimes feel very destructive to our insides, but in the end those experiences help us change in very positive ways and we end up in a much better place.  The key is to trust God’s wisdom and let Him lead us through the whole sprouting process instead of fighting Him.  Ask Him to help you with this and He will.

173. I heard many pastors speak of how modest and humble Jesus is, and that it is the greatest characteristic we can learn from Jesus, since He is the first ‘person’ to teach us to be humble compared to other prophets in other religions (In other religions perhaps they only promoted kindness to the weak and sick?). I think maybe the pastors didn’t have any idea why they have end up preaching for a God they actually know nothing of and instinctively tried to stir up a logical reason as to why they are doing what they are going, serving a Christian God instead of Allah. Now that I kinda know the real Jesus, I can’t associate the word humble or modest with Him..He speaks with sharp authority while letting me feel His love in His words. How did people get to such an absurd conclusion?

Godly humility is a soul attitude which grows out of the soul attitude of dependency.  Dependency says, “I can’t do anything apart from God.”  Humility then says, “Since I can do nothing on my own, I don’t deserve the glory for anything.  Only God deserves the glory, because He is the One we all depend on.”

Humility is only a correct attitude for created beings, not for Gods.  As a God, Jesus is not humble or modest.  Instead, He has a huge ego and is a big fan of exalting Himself.

In the Gospel books, Jesus was role-playing a human.  Part of His purpose in doing this was to model for people what correct soul attitudes were.  When Jesus talks about obeying Yahweh and only doing what Yahweh wants because Yahweh wants it, that’s part of His human act.  When He prayed in Gethsemane “Not My will but Yours be done,” that was also part of His act.

In the Gospels, Jesus rotates between acting like an ideal human God-follower and acting like the God that He is.  This is why He sometimes sounds humble, while at other times He is exalting Himself.  While most of His parables talk about Yahweh judging people (because Yahweh was the only God the Jews recognized), you’ll find that Jesus also slips in a few where He is the One judging people without consulting Yahweh.

When you flip over to Revelation, you’ll find that the human act is over and Jesus is in full Self-exaltation mode.  When you remember that it was Yahweh and Jesus who created those visions for John, then you can appreciate how egotistical They are being to show John visions in which choirs of created beings are bursting out in praise songs to Them.  Sometimes the songs are directed at Yahweh, other times at Jesus.  Jesus depicts Himself in many glorious forms, and He emphasizes His power and magnificence.  There’s nothing at all humble about Jesus’ actions in Revelation.  It’s more like He can’t say enough about how fabulous He is.

So why do Christians today so commonly describe Jesus as being humble? Well, none of the New Testament writers accepted Jesus’ Divinity (see How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human).  Instead, they spoke about Him as if He was just a human who Yahweh greatly favored.  Because Christians insist that the Bible is “inerrant”, they end up forced into accepting a very humanized version of Jesus.  It is because we are refusing to admit how wrong the NT writers were that we cling to this ridiculous idea that Jesus is “fully God and fully man.”  When we pretend that Jesus is an actual human being, He seems more accessible to us, and this makes Him the favorite God while Yahweh gets stereotyped as brooding and violent and the Holy Spirit is written off as too mysterious to relate to.  Christian worship songs really reflect the different levels of comfort that Christians have with their three Gods.  Jesus is by far the God we exalt the most, and He is the One we view as being the nicest, when in reality Jesus is no more loving and no less wrathful than Yahweh and the Holy Spirit.

So what is the greatest lesson we can learn from Jesus?  When people ask this question, they usually mean, “What can we learn from the human Jesus who we read about in the Gospels?”  And once you fail to recognize that Jesus was roleplaying, you end up with a lot of wrong answers to that question.  Many Christians think the goal is to strive to be sinless because Jesus was sinless.  Well, no, that’s not the goal.  Both as God and as a God roleplaying a human, Jesus teaches us that soul attitudes are what our Creators care about.  In the Gospels, Jesus particularly emphasizes the importance of the soul attitude of submission, and this is due to the fact that the folks He was talking to were so rebellious.

To properly interpret Jesus’ human act in Israel, you have to consider His cultural context.  The Jews He was working with had totally drifted away from Yahweh’s teaching about soul attitudes.  They had turned salvation into a matter of external behaviors instead of internal attitudes.  Jesus’ main purpose for dying on a cross was to put an end to all of the meaningless rituals and striving and turn people’s focus back onto the only thing that has ever mattered: soul attitude (see Beyond Atonement: Understanding the True Purpose of the Cross).  But then the NT writers came along and continued to keep everyone’s focus on behavior.  Paul, James, and John all teach that we must keep striving to behave in morally perfect ways in order to attain salvation.  In other words, they completely missed the point of the cross.  Jesus doesn’t want us to spend our lives trying to overcome the carnal cravings of our earthsuits and fretting over how many of our sins have been “covered by the Blood”.  Instead, He wants us to focus on sincerely seeking God with our souls.

It is totally incorrect to say that humility was the greatest lesson we learn from Jesus.  Humility is about giving God alone the glory.  If you only have humility, you’ll end up in Hell.  We must submit to our Gods as the Supreme Authorities that They are before we will be accepted by Them.  Jesus talked about submission far more than He did about humility.  Submission was a major theme in His many parables about salvation.

It’s pretty inappropriate to try and boil Jesus down to just one lesson.  But if you’re going to be so ridiculous, then the answer to the question “What is the greatest lesson we learn from Jesus?” would be “Jesus taught us to pursue pleasing our Creators with all that we are.  He taught us to be all in and to hold nothing back, because pleasing Them is the only thing that really matters.”

And when I was young, I had thought Santa Claus was God Himself because they are both said to be benevolent.

This is an easy mistake to make, because Santa Claus is described as having Divine powers.  For this reason, it is inappropriate to teach kids that Santa Claus is real–when we do so, we are just encouraging our kids to engage in idolatry (see Why God Doesn’t Like Santa: Guidance for Christian Parents).

In a similar way, I wondered if Allah or some other God might actually be Yahweh or Jesus or the Holy Spirit working in some other part of the world, because it seemed a little off to me how God would only pick such a small country like Israel to be an example that He could use to teach us. But Yahweh says He is just Yahweh and nothing else, so problem solved, but I’m still curious…

Realize that we got the Bible from the Jews.  Naturally Jewish historical documents are going to focus on the history of their own homeland and people–they are not going to give us a picture of world history.  Consider how biased your own country is in its view of history.  It cares about the history of Korean people much more than it cares about the history of Native Americans or Eskimos.  If we read through Korean history books, should we then say, “We now have an accurate view of everything that’s happened in the world since the beginning?”  No.  It’s more like we’ve learned a lot about Korean values and concerns by seeing the kinds of issues Koreans talk about and don’t talk about in their historical records.  It’s the same with American history books.  In American schools, American kids don’t read about how Korea came to be.  Korea doesn’t even get a chapter in our books.  We talk about China, because China is big.  We talk about England, because that’s where we came from.  But we don’t care about the history of Korea.  For us, Korea only becomes of interest when we end up in some military skirmish with her.

Well, does the fact that American kids aren’t taught about Korean history make your history any less important than ours?  Of course not.  All people matter, and every country has a fascinating cultural, political, and religious history.   God has been reaching out to all people everywhere since this world began, but we’re not going to learn much about the way He’s worked with non-Jews when we’re just focusing on Jewish historical documents.  The Bible doesn’t come anywhere close to giving you a full account of God’s activities in this world.

Now when it comes to Allah, it’s easy to identify him as a false god.  In the Old Testament, Jesus wasn’t even a concept, so when Yahweh said, “I’m the only God,” He wasn’t commenting on Jesus.  But when Jesus showed up in the New Testament, Yahweh did comment on Jesus and He said, “What Jesus says about Himself is true–listen to Him.”  Jesus claimed to be a second God, and Yahweh verified that claim.

Now with Allah, it’s a different story.  Allah is the god of Islam, and Islam doesn’t just ignore Jesus.  Islam says that Jesus cannot be God, because Allah is the only god.  Rejecting Jesus is very different than never acknowledging Him.  Our Gods might introduce Themselves to someone one at a time, but as more Gods are revealed, all of those Gods will verify Each Other as being Gods.  This means that any “god” who is described as rejecting the Divinity of one of the true Gods is obviously false.  This is why a quick way to identify a false religion is just to ask what their view of Jesus is.  Anyone who says that Jesus is not God is obviously wrong.

172. Holding On

Fabulous sentiment and a great embracing of truth!  Keep it up!  You should consider starting a collection.  This is a form of worship which They really love, because it’s sincere, personal, and direct from you to Them.

170. Tyson

In these situations, you need to get specific about your reasons for wanting to leave. Different reasons require different kinds of handling.  For example, “I’m bored,” is a different issue than, “I am feeling morally troubled by what I’m being asked to do.”  So what are your specific reasons for wanting to leave?  Make a list.  Once you can see your reasons in front of you, it can be easier to identify changes that you can make.  For example, if you’re feeling bored or unchallenged, there could be ways that you can change up your daily routine or your approach to the work that you do.

Sometimes you get into a situation and realize that you totally guessed wrong about the kinds of work you’d enjoy.  For example, John is told that he’d be a great salesman his whole life so he gets a sales job.  But when he starts actually doing it, he discovers that he hates sales and that it’s not at all a fit for his temperament. This is a useful learning experience–John has discovered something about himself.  Should he try to make himself become a salesman?  Probably not. He should go into a different field and stop trying to fulfill other people’s expectations of him.

But then there’s Gary.  He hates having deadlines because he’s essentially lazy.  He resents being told what to do by other people.  This is a maturity issue.  If Gary wants someone to give him a paycheck, he needs to earn that money by doing what that person wants.  Gary isn’t going to find an employer who makes no demands on him or who doesn’t care about deadlines.  So for Gary, changing jobs is not going to solve anything.  He needs to face how unreasonable he’s being to expect people to pay him just to be alive on the planet.

Since we can’t see the future, making future commitments is never something we should rush into–that’s one good lesson you can glean from this. If you break your contract, you are going to be burning a bridge, and that kind of thing can really come back to haunt you.  But then again, if you’re planning to entirely leave this line of work, breaking your contract will be less of an issue. This is why it’s so important to think about your specific reasons for wanting to leave, and weigh those against how much time you have left on your contract.  And of course it’s always good to make sure you’re not blowing off God’s convictions regarding your situation.  For example, was God telling you not to sign up for this job in the first place?  If you’re in a line of work that God has been telling you not to get into, then simply changing employers in the same field won’t help, because God won’t get off your case until you change fields.

When God starts making our situations complicated, there are two basic reasons: He either wants us to grow or He wants us to change course.  If God is not giving you any check about being in this line of work, then you want to give serious thought as to what you’re hoping to gain by switching employers.  Are you looking for more money?  More recognition?  More opportunities for advancement?  More mental stimulation?  A better social environment?  The details are important.

The fact that your people are being gracious about this indicates that they don’t want to be hauling around dead weight. They’d rather you leave if you aren’t into the work.  So since you started this, and since they’re being so gracious about it, now is the time to really pursue other opportunities if that’s what you want.  But first you need to make your list of reasons and clearly identify what it is you’re trying to improve so that you can decide if your goals are realistic.  Also, you need to be upfront with anyone else you reach out to and make it clear that you’ve been authorized to break your contract–otherwise you look untrustworthy to potential employers (who wants to hire someone who has a history of lying to their boss?).

If you want more help with this, you need to give us specific reasons about why you want to leave, and specifics about what you’re looking for.  If you want this answer deleted from this page once you’ve seen it, let us know.  Also, we can be more helpful if you share what line of work you’re in because certain fields come with special challenges.  If you don’t want to say what line of work you’re in, that’s fine with us, but you should give serious thought as to why you are uncomfortable identifying yourself with what you do (such hesitancy can indicate that you have moral issues with what you do that you’re not facing–that’s the only reason we bring it up).  Lastly, we recommend you use a code name which does not sound like a person’s name for additional privacy.

168. I’m really trying to understand what seem to be huge contradictions on your site. On one hand, you write articles full of compassion towards people who have done terrible things and say things like “when abuse is happening the victim and abuser both need help”, but then turn around and say that the death penalty is amazing and we should be using it more.

In our article on the death penalty, we never use the word “amazing.”  Instead, we discuss what God’s use of the death penalty was in the Old Testament (and yes, He was a fan).  We also say that “God never authorized governments to operate independently of Him.”  Clearly if government leaders were actually listening to God, they wouldn’t just be mowing down people at random.  We also explain that God factored elements of mercy into His judgment system (such as cities of refuge), and we say that His Old Covenant Laws were written so as to swiftly eliminate crime in society, since He did not condone the idea of lifelong imprisonments.

Given this, we would suggest that your real problem is with God, not us.  We are merely reviewing the Laws which He came up with in the Old Covenant.  A lot of Christians erroneously think that God is totally against the death penalty just because it involves someone dying.  The purpose of our article is to clarify this misunderstanding by helping Christians get more educated about what God’s real position on the death penalty was in the Old Testament.

Bear in mind that as the Creator of all life and death, God can kill whoever He wants whenever He wants.  As the Law Giver, God does not have to get human approval before ordering us to run our societies in certain ways.  You clearly have a personal problem with the death penalty, and it would be productive for you to ask God to show you what fears are really driving those emotions.  Often people balk at God being for the death penalty because they assume He would be unfair in His execution of it.  Such a fear is driven by two factors: 1) a lack of trust in God’s goodness, and 2) putting too much importance on this earthly life.

You’re essentially saying that we’re merciless if we are for the death penalty.  Well, we’re just echoing God’s sentiments, so again, your real problem is with God.  The good thing about having an article bother you is that God can then use your upset to help you face some underlying fears and concerns that you have about Him and the way He manages human life.

You write articles that seem to contain freeing truth (permanent surrender), only to delete all of them later.

It’s our site.  We’ll post and delete any time we want.  To say that we delete “all” articles that contain freeing truth is a ridiculous exaggeration, as you well know.

Your distress about this raises up important underlying fears that you need to personally work on with God.  In this case, you’re reading all kinds of things into the fact that we deleted certain articles off of this site.  You’re assuming the mere fact of our deleting them suggests that the information they held is no longer valid.  Well, we’re not going to encourage you to use our actions as your litmus test for truth in life by explaining to you what our motivations for deleting those articles was. Truth comes from God, and you need to get better at trusting Him to guide you.  If He is telling you that permanent surrender is true, then what does it matter what we think?  Since when is this site some perfect, flawless, comprehensive collection of truth?  We never teach you to blindly trust what we say.  Instead we are always telling you not to just trust us and to always ask God to guide you when you’re reading our material.  Just because something is posted here doesn’t make it true.  The fact that something isn’t posted here doesn’t make it false and vice versa.  You can’t depend on humans to guide you in spiritual matters, because humans are not perfect.  You need to depend on God, so ask Him what His take on permanent surrender is and stop worrying about what we’re doing.

You criticize the church’s overemphasis on good works, only to then (in your end times material) say similar things that I’ve heard good works slave driver pastors say, along the lines of “there’s going to be needy people/children on the streets and you better be willing to help them”.

Actually what we say in Preparing for the End Times: Serving without Limits is this: “You need to go into this period with a wide open mind and a willingness to serve God in any way that He asks.”  We don’t tell you that you had better be willing to help every random stranger you come across.  We never tell Christians to decide for themselves how they ought to serve God.  Instead, we teach people to wait for God to specifically convict them.

The purpose of that article was to help Christians become receptive to God asking them to serve Him in ways that they aren’t expecting.  The end times will be a unique period of history and there will be a lot of special needs.  Many Christians don’t think God would ever call on them to do anything specific.  Others have very closed minds about how they think God might want to use them.  To help you stay in alignment with God in the end times, we point out some of the common stumbling blocks folks will come across (such as “God would never use me–I’m no one special”) and we show you how you can prepare to be very fluid and available to serve God in any way that He asks.  As we say in that article, “We begin our preparation now, by asking God to make us all that He wants us to be.”

So what is your problem with this?  Do you think you should be excused from having to obey a specific conviction that God lays on your heart?  Because that is the only kind of “serving” we talk about in our end times material: responding to specific convictions that God gives you.

What makes the teaching of “slave driver pastors” so upsetting is that they totally discount the importance of specific conviction.  Instead of teaching you to wait for God to personally lead you in life, they blast you with broad, general, non-specific commands and then tell you that you have to do them all.  Because “feed the poor” is a totally non-specific order and because there are far more poor in this world than one person could ever feed, you’re left feeling like you’re never doing good enough.  Vague commands lead to guilt, which is why demons love being vague.

For you the issue is not that we’re being contradictory–it’s that you’re reading our material through a filter of your own expectations.  Because you’ve heard people incorrectly teach about serving God, you immediately assume that’s what we’re doing the minute we talk about serving.  But here is where you need to slow down and look at what we’re actually saying versus what you’re expecting us to say.  When you do, you’ll find that our material is very different than mainstream Christian teaching because we are not just passing on the same guilt trips.  We teach you to let God lead you in life–a concept that is foreign to most Christians, because the Church teaches you to constantly rush ahead of God and take on far more than He wants you to.

Here’s a good principle to keep in mind: people get upset when they feel threatened, and they feel threatened when they feel like their core fears are being confirmed.  Because you already worry that God is impossible to please, you look for evidence that we’re saying this, and when you come across certain buzzwords like “serving”, you leap to the conclusion that we’re saying the same thing other teachers have said to you in the past.  And yet what we actually say is that God is very easy to succeed with because He is.  Many Christians dread the concept of serving God because the Church has associated that term with so much condemnation and guilt in their minds.  If you actually read what we write on the subject, we’ll teach you how to get out from under the burden that the Church straps on you.

167. Soph

To protect your privacy, we have changed your previous code name.

Your family’s reaction to your fear is a very misguided version of “tough love.”  Those who do not understand the power of phobias often think that forcing someone to face their fears is going to magically get them over it.  And yet this form of “therapy” doesn’t work with phobias, because phobias are responses to trauma.

Giving someone a forceful push can be helpful when the person is being confronted with a new experience.  Perhaps you’ve never been in water and you’re afraid to stick your toe in.  Having someone pull you into a wading pool can be a useful way of quickly getting you over your fear of trying something new, as long as they pull you in without pulling you under.  When you suddenly find yourself standing up to your knees in water and nothing happens, then your fear will quickly subside.  But this is because your fear is based on your hesitancy to try something new.

Phobias are a whole different beast.  Phobias happen when you are traumatized by having an experience which causes you to feel overwhelmed by fear.  At the time the trauma occurs, you are unable to process your feelings, and you end up basically stuffing them down inside.  All of that compressed emotion creates enormous psychological strain which your mind becomes very burdened by.  As you go forward in life, your mind is so consumed with what happened to you in the past, that it keeps searching for any sign that that terrible situation you were in might be occurring again.  It’s rather like being hit by a car, and from then on constantly listening for the sound of a vehicle coming in your direction.  This obsessive searching for signs of danger isn’t something you are consciously choosing to do–it is a subconscious thing that your brain is doing.

So now let’s talk about your situation.  Why are you so afraid of someone vomiting close to you?  Clearly the real issue is not vomit, for even if someone did directly vomit on you, you would not be harmed by it.  Often in phobia cases, the stimulus that the phobic person fixates on is not really dangerous by itself: butterflies, heights, water, etc..  So if vomit can’t harm you, why does it terrify you?  Because to you, the vomit is a symbol of a much more frightening thing, which we will call X. It’s really X that you’re terrified of–not vomit.  But in your mind, vomit is so intimately associated with X, that the very idea of someone vomiting around you makes you panic and say, “If someone vomits, X will happen to me again, and I can’t handle that!”

This is why being locked in a room, threatened with beatings, and having someone pretend to vomit near you is only making you feel all the more terrified.  Not only is this abusive behavior (because it is never right to threaten to beat a child for being afraid), but this kind of “therapy” is not addressing the real issue–X.  Until someone helps you with X, vomiting will remain a terrifying thing to you, and any therapy approach which only focuses on the symbol (vomit) instead of the root issue (X) is going to be totally useless.

Okay, so what’s the good news here?  The good news is that you do not have to stay stuck here.  You can recover from this phobia and get to a point where you stop feeling so afraid of the possibility of vomit.  The first critical step in recovery is for you to identify what X is.  So now let’s talk about how you do that…

It’s great that you’ve already identified when this phobia began: age 6.  What that tells you is that whatever X is, it happened around that time.  You now want to think back to the first time that you felt totally freaked out by someone actually vomiting near you.  This phobia likely began when someone really did vomit–not when someone just looked like they were going to.  So who vomited, and what else was happening that made you feel so afraid?  At the age of 6, you feel very dependent on adults to take care of you, and you are very aware that you are unable to protect yourself.  So let’s say that your dad suddenly went into some medical crisis and to you it looked like he was dying right in front of you. And let’s say that in the midst of his convulsions, he vomited.  You were totally freaked out by the idea of your parent being in a crisis and you being unable to help him.  And let’s say you were alone at the time, with no one you could call to for help.  This kind of situation is the sort of thing that can deeply traumatize a child, and since having someone vomit in front of you is dramatic, startling, and gross, your mind could then fixate on that one upsetting feature.  Going forward in time, your mind then forms this association: “If someone vomits around me, it means I’m going to be suddenly left alone and helpless and about to lose someone who I desperately depend on.”  This is just one of countless scenarios that can create the kind of phobia you’re dealing with.

Phobias are fueled by unprocessed traumas. But the good news is that traumas can be processed–even many years later–and when they are, the fears that are linked to them will greatly reduce.  So the first step is to identify what very upsetting event your mind is associating with the act of someone vomiting close to you.  The second step is to identify the exact form your fears are taking.  To do this, think of the idea of someone vomiting near you and then try to write out specific statements of exactly what it is you’re afraid will happen to you.  Don’t worry about the statements being logical–just write down anything that comes to mind.  For example:

If someone vomits near me…
I’m afraid I will die.
I’m afraid I’ll be horribly injured.
I’m afraid people will blame me.
I’m afraid someone will die.
I’m afraid I’ll be left alone.
I’m afraid I’ll be violated.
I’m afraid I’ll get attacked by someone or something.

The list of statements your mind produces will actually be describing how your mind is reacting to X–that traumatic event or series of events that you are so afraid of reliving.

The mind is an amazing thing and God has programed it with many ways of protecting itself.  Burying upsetting memories is one self-defense measure.  Constantly being on the lookout for signs that you’re in danger is another.  As irrational as phobias can seem, they are actually driven by a stream of logic that your mind considers to be quite rational.  If you want more help with this and you are able to figure out what X is, then tell us what happened when you were six that caused you to become so afraid of vomit.  If you can’t figure out what X is even after you think about it, then send us a list of specific fears like the one we made above which list out exactly what you think might happen to you if someone vomits near you. To learn more about how the brain deals with upsetting experiences, see Dealing with Trauma: Protecting Yourself from Bad Counselors.

165. You write that the Bible isn’t fully the inspired Word of God. I understand where you are coming from if you mean it wasn’t “inspired” when Job’s wife told Him to “curse God and die”, but that just means that she didn’t speak from inspiration. It says in 2 Timothy 3: 16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” So, if it is as you say, that the Bible is not the Word of God and His way of communicating to us today, how is it that God speaks to us and reveals His will?  

It was actually the apostle Paul, not God, who was speaking in 2 Timothy 3:16.  At the time he wrote those words, he was only referring to the Old Testament, not the New, for there was no New Testament in Paul’s day. So when the Church tells you to use 2 Timothy 3:16 as “proof” that the entire Christian Bible is “God-breathed”, she is not only disregarding what Paul meant, but she’s also making the ridiculous claim that Paul was affirming a collection of documents which he’d never even heard of (the New Testament).

Because Christians are brainwashed into worshiping the Bible as the equivalent of God Himself, they naturally get very angry when we call their behavior out for the idolatry that it is.  You see, the problem with the Bible is not that it records humans having natural human meltdowns (such as Job’s exasperated wife).  The problem is that it is filled with horrendous teaching about God which is 100% wrong.  The apostle Paul himself contributes much of this teaching.  The reality is that Paul totally denies the Divinity of Christ, and instead makes Him out to be a mere created being whose reign is only temporary.  How can you say that you’re a CHRISTian and elevate this kind of garbage as “God-breathed”?  The answer is that you don’t even realize how blasphemous Paul’s teaching is because the Church teaches you to read the book through a mental filter.

We understand that Christians like you aren’t trying to insult God when they act like the Bible is an extension of Him.  But you can’t possibly come to this conclusion unless you refuse to look at much of what the book actually says, because in both the Old and New Testament, foolish humans are putting out a lot of slanderous teachings about who God is and how He operates.  Are there actually words from God recorded in the Bible?  Certainly, and if you ask Him to give you wisdom as you read, you’ll learn some fabulous things from it.  The Bible can be a stellar teaching tool, and we use it all the time as such, but the lessons we should be learning are not the lessons the Church is teaching you.

On this site, we teach you what it means to please and honor Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Elevating a mere book as Their equal is not going to take you to a good place.  Most Christians who write in as you have are not at all interested in learning the truth–they just want to let us know that we’ve totally gone astray.  Well, we’re not the ones saying that it’s “God-breathed” and “inerrant” to rip on Christ and Yahweh–you’re saying that by exalting a book which is a very polluted mix of truth and lies.  In our material, we exalt the true Gods far more than the Church ever does.  We don’t call lies truth, and we don’t throw God under the bus just to defend the reputation of delusional apostles and prophets.

Now in case you’re a member of the very small minority of Christians who are ready to break out of the mindset of Bible idolatry, think about this question that you’ve asked:

So, if it is as you say, that the Bible is not the Word of God and His way of communicating to us today, how is it that God speaks to us and reveals His will?  

This question reflects several core beliefs that the Church has intentionally shoved down your throat in order to undermine your confidence that your Creators would ever bother to communicate to you directly.  Your beliefs about God build on each other like a house of cards, and if you want to learn how to discern right beliefs from wrong ones, you need to start asking this question: “What assumptions must I be making about God for this belief to be true?”  In other words: “If this is true, what else must be true?”

Now look at the question you asked above.  Since you’re praying for us to find truth, you have clearly decided in your mind that we’re delusional.  So let’s stop pretending that this is an honest question and turn it into a declaration.  What you really meant is this:

“The Bible is the only way that God communicates with His people today.”

This is the core belief you’re trying to defend by writing to us.  If you think that God communicates with you in a variety of ways, then you won’t balk at the idea of someone saying that the Bible is a polluted product.  But because you want a connection with God, and you already believe that the Bible is the only way that He is willing to talk to you, then naturally you are going to feel very upset and threatened by us saying that the book has errors.  But now let’s practice some discernment.  Because the Church wants you to blindly accept any lie she throws at you, she teaches you not to think critically.  Because we want you to stop being abused by human leaders, we teach you how to think critically and how to hone your spiritual discernment skills.  Your beliefs are built on assumptions about God, and you need to dig down to what those assumptions are if you’re going to identify false beliefs.  So let’s now change your core belief about the Bible into some if-then statements.

IF God is only going to communicate His will to me through the Bible,
THEN God is not willing to talk to me directly.

IF God is not willing to talk to me directly,
THEN I can’t afford to be separated from the Bible, or I will lose my connection with God.

IF God is not willing to talk to me directly,
THEN I will have to test all things by the Bible, because it’s the only test for truth that I have.

IF the Bible is the only test for truth that I have,
THEN I can’t afford for it to be less than perfect because…

IF God is not willing to talk to me directly,
THEN I will have no way of knowing what parts of the Bible are true and which are false.

This is the nasty bind that you find yourself in once you believe that God is not willing to speak to you directly. And yet where do you get such a notion from?  Certainly not from the Bible, for the Bible is filled with accounts of God speaking directly to human beings.  What book was Noah reading when he got his instructions to build an ark?  What Scripture was Yahweh quoting when He told Abraham to leave his false gods?  Was the burning bush a Bible?  Did Moses read passages of Scripture at Pharaoh when he was communicating Yahweh’s will regarding the ten plagues?  It was an angel, not a piece of paper, which told Joshua to march around the city of Jericho.  Didn’t Yahweh show up in awesome glory to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel?  Of course He did (even though foolish John later says that ‘no one has ever seen God’).  How do you read about Jesus saying, “My sheep know My Voice” and then decide that God would never speak to you directly?  Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd–does a shepherd just throw a book at his flock and walk away? No, he walks right beside them and personally interacts with them.  Read Psalm 23, and notice how David celebrates Yahweh’s personal interaction with Him.  David doesn’t mention Scriptures once in that psalm–clearly he didn’t feel dependent on a book to know God, and yet you do.  So what’s going wrong here?

It was delusional human beings, not God Himself, who taught you that you can’t possibly count on God to lead you directly in life.  It was humans who told you that you must depend on a collection of historical documents to discern God’s will for your life.  God Himself never said any such rot.  God has always taught His people to depend on Him directly for guidance in life.  It was because Joshua didn’t consult God directly that he was fooled by the Gibeonites–it wasn’t because Joshua failed to leaf through the Torah.  No one in the Bible acted like they were totally lost without tangible Scriptures.  Even Christ bashing fools like the apostle Paul claimed to have received direct revelations from Christ.  So since the Bible gives you thousands of years worth of evidence that God talks directly with humans, why are you so willing to accept that He would never talk to you?  Since when are you some outcast sheep?  Since when are you some soul that He’s shoved aside, thrown a book at, and said, “Don’t talk to Me, just read the book”?

It is outrageous the way the Church so deviously teaches Christians to accept that their own Creators can’t be counted on to lead them in life.  In witnessing to an unbeliever, you’d undoubtedly talk about how great the love of Jesus is that He would lay down His life for us.   And yet in your heart, how much do you really think Jesus cares about you if He’s not even willing to talk to you like He has to everyone you read about in the book?  There are major problems with you accepting that God would never speak to you apart from the Bible.  As long as you keep clinging to this belief, you simply can’t gain a correct view of His great love and interest in you.  So, then, to answer your question: how does God communicate His will to us today?  The same way He always has: by speaking directly to our souls.  Don’t think we’re right?  Ask Him.  Find the verse where it says “And now that the modern day Bible has been assembled, God has decided to no longer talk to humans directly anymore.”  This isn’t what the Bible says.  In fact, the last book in the Bible is Revelation, which is yet another direct revelation from God to John.  Think about it.  You’ve been totally snowed by the Church on this one.  It’s not your fault, because she is very good at what she does.  But she’s lying to you, and you need to stop trusting her.

Recommended Articles:
Practicing Discernment: The Structure of Beliefs
God Told Me: The Only Valid Basis for Faith
How We Got the Bible: A Reality Check for Christians
The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ
Four Ways to Identify False Teaching in the Church
Learning to Recognize God’s Voice: Seven Principles

164. Anger

Yes, we do understand how maddening the whole sex issue is for guys, which is why we have so many articles which speak compassionately towards sexual perverts instead of just spewing condemnation all over anyone who takes a misstep.

Now the part where you’re totally hacked off at God for pinning you in some impossible corner with His moral code is good.  It is God’s set up, therefore He should be the One you’re venting at, not other people.  And, as we’ve discussed with you before, this whole battle is about submission.  You’ve asked God to make you all that He wants you to be, and He wants you to develop total submission to Him.  You’re well on your way, but these things take time, and a whole lot of wrestling.  Between you and God, the challenge that He is thrusting in your face is this: “How far is your submission to Me going to go?  Are you only standing with Me as long as I run things your way?  Being God, I’m not going to run things your way most of the time.  And if you want to be close to Me, then you’re going to treat Me like the Supreme Authority that I am.”

In response to this challenge, your soul is currently saying, “Stuff You, God.  There’s a limit to how much misery I should have to endure as Your servant, and since You’ve crossed the line, I’m revolting.”  As for your desire for God to blow you off the map, that’s just a copout.  You figure the struggles with submission end with this life, so you want to hit the chapter skip button and get to the sweet part where you don’t have to struggle so much.  Well, this approach is wrong on two counts.  First, submission to God is an issue that is never going to go away.  Second, you asked God to make you all that He wants you to be, and He wants you to grow in the submission department.  So do you want to continue the struggle here or in eternity?  You’re not getting out of it.  The challenge to keep growing will continue in Heaven. If you’re smart, you’ll stick with the learning environment that God knows is most efficient for you right now.  You’ll also own the fact that sex is just the current issue you’re focusing on, but that this is really a battle of submission.  Then you’ll pray, “Help me to gag out the words ‘Not my will but Yours be done,’ because right now I just really don’t want to say them.”

The sooner you focus on core spiritual issues, the better off you’ll be.  Staying fixated on the earthly issue and pretending that that’s the only issue at hand will just get you stalled.

So now that we’ve discussed the most important issue–your dynamic with God–let’s talk about a second issue.  Listen to how you describe marriage:

…a slaughterhouse where a woman can at the moment of her choosing roast her husband over the flames of hell called the Domestic Abuse Court… Marriage is a hellish binding nowadays. 

And your view of women:

The majority of women are backwards in their relationship with God, having NO fear of Him at all, and thereby tearing apart their own homes through pure disobedience, lack of respect and honor, and no appropriate submission. Each generation of women is getting far worse than their predecessors…

As you rant to us about how women do not fear, obey, respect or honor God, look in the mirror.  You are griping because God says that you are wrong to jump in the sack with any warm body you want and treat women like your own disposable sex toys.  You’re having an adult tantrum because you can’t just put your parts wherever you want to and act like some animal in perpetual heat without God spanking you for it.  Yes, God demands that you actually put something on the line before you just take what you want from a woman.  God says that you should actually commit to her financially and emotionally before you just use her for your own physical release.  Look behind you: how many women have you already used and abused by now?  Plenty, and some of them were kids. So you’ve basically acted like a selfish ogre and tromped all over women for a good number of years, showing zero regard for their hearts or their feelings or their futures or even their bodies.  And now that you’re finally maturing to the point where you are actually listening to God’s convictions in this area, and He’s telling you to stop treating His souls like garbage, you’re trying to play the victim card?  Do you realize how merciful God is being to not rub your face in the aftermath of all of the sexual flings you’ve already had?  You use and discard.  By now you could be the father of tons of kids, and what kind of father would you be?  A pretty useless one, since you won’t even own what a jerk you’re being to treat women the way that you do.

Now we love humans, including sexual perverts, which is why we are not just condoning your foul attitude here.  Real love doesn’t say, “Poor, baby.  God isn’t agreeing to make the universe revolve around you.”  Real love says, “You’ve got some serious blind spots that you need to man up and face.”  Does God have sympathy for your sex addiction?  Of course He does.  But it is your addiction, and it is also the kind of thing that makes you want to trample all over women.  Pretending that you’re not trampling on them is a total lie, and we can’t grow through lies.  So let’s be honest: if you had things your way, you’d mow through thousands of sexy babes in life, dump them as soon as they stopped stroking your ego, and never take one ounce of responsibility for the damage you do or the kids you create.  Is this really the kind of mindset that your loving Father is going to encourage you to have?  No, He’s going to ride your case about it and keep pressuring you to cooperate with His efforts to grow you out of this kind of thinking.

Now this entire thing is largely about your mom, and you know it.  She was a bitter disappointment to you, and you’re dealing with that by holding an epic grudge against her.  Then you’re generalizing your feelings to include all women everywhere.  It is only in your pain warped brain that every woman morphs into some entitled witch the moment you marry her.  In real life, there are plenty of very classy women in the world who could do circles around you in the maturity department.  But here’s where you need to face another tough truth about yourself: you’re an abuser.  Reflect on your past relationships and you’ll see that the moment a woman stops acting like you walk on water, you turn on her with a bunch of emotional abuse.  Does God want women to respect their husbands?  Absolutely.  But “respect” does not mean “man’s ego-stroking doormat”.  Real love tells you to hit the road when you start dishing out abuse.  Real love holds boundaries, and it demands respect in return.  For a marriage to work, the power must be evenly distributed between the man and the wife, and that means you will be doing a whole lot of compromising.  Right now are you very good at not getting things your way?  No, you throw epic tantrums.  In real life, your wife wouldn’t be the problem.  At your current stage of development, you are far more likely to be the guy who beats the tar out of her some day when she dares to point out some valid criticism about the way you’re treating her.  And then when she does divorce you for very good reasons, you’ll act like the innocent victim and say that her behavior just proves how nasty all women are.  So even if Miss Right showed up tomorrow, you have some serious growing up to do before you should even consider getting married.  And if you want to expedite that process, then you’re going to need to forgive Mom.

Hate warps us.  When you cling to hate in any area of your life, it ends up affecting every area.  Until you are willing to forgive your mother for not meeting your expectations and own up to the fact that the expectations you put on her were not reasonable, you are going to stay stuck in this cage of hating all women.  What’s killing you here is the hatred that you are projecting outward.  It is not some epic lack of character in all women.  Plenty of women have character, but you can’t see it because you’re so busy looking at everyone through the eyes of hate.  Hate is fueled by pain.  Pain is often a result of unmet expectations, and human expectations are often very unreasonable.  So if you want to really move forward, you need to take ownership for your own baggage.  If you don’t, then it won’t matter how great the woman is that you try to start a relationship with: you will drive all decent women away from you by abusing them.  Mature women don’t tolerate abuse.  They draw boundaries and move on.

This is how it works when we try to make our pain other people’s problems: we destroy the possibility of good relationships.  It’s like planting a seedling, stomping on it until it’s dead, and then saying, “Stupid plant!  Why didn’t it grow?!  Obviously it was intrinsically flawed!”  And yet it wasn’t the plant’s fault–it was your fault for stomping it to death.

Other women can’t fill your mother hole for you.  Your mother can’t just flip a switch and change who she is or how she treated you in the past.  And while you rail at God for demanding the impossible from you, you are demanding the impossible from other people.  It’s okay for you to be epically hurt in life, but everyone else on the planet has to be perfect.  It’s okay for you to personally flip God off, but then you get on your high horse and say that anyone who doesn’t revere Him deserves to roast in Hell.  When we’re refusing to take ownership for our own stuff, this is where we end up: hateful little bigots who condemn everyone else.

Taking ownership for your stuff doesn’t mean throwing dirt on your head and wallowing in what a scumbag you are.  If your car has a flat tire, and you respond by throwing a tantrum, does that help anything?  No.  You need to look at the tire in a sober state of mind and say, “This tire is flat.  It needs to be changed before I’ll be able to drive again safely.”  In the same way, you won’t get anywhere looking at yourself and saying, “I’m such a screwed up loser!  I’m hopeless!”  Instead you need to say, “I can see that I am obsessing over painful events in my past, and trying to use my personal pain and disappointments in life as an excuse to abuse and hate others.  Clearly I need to work on forgiving those who hurt me and seeing them in a more realistic light.  They were people, just like me.  They had their own limitations and fears.  Yes, they disappointed me, just as I have disappointed plenty of people in my own life. But I don’t have to let their treatment of me continue to define who I am.  God can help me move on and let go of my unmet expectations.”

The reality is that your mom will probably never be who you want.  She’ll certainly never be able to go back and redo your childhood.  But the good news is that you don’t need a perfect mother in order to become a mature, calm, well-adjusted man.  Think about it.

163. Flower

It’s fantastic that you are listening to God and embracing His truths even though they end up putting you at odds with your family.  Keep it up!  For you to be understanding these things at such a young age is wonderful–you’re farther ahead than a lot of adults are and on your way to some wonderful places with God.  Remember that no one can stop you from progressing with God, because progressing with Him is all about making the right soul choices and no one can control what your soul choices are.

Now your situation is one that would drive anyone nuts, but this is also a fabulous opportunity for you to make a big step forward with God and learn a principle that (once again) most adults never grasp.  So let’s get into it…

Rule #1: When people are driving me crazy, that indicates there is an opportunity for me to change in positive ways.

This rule is going to be true your entire life, and if you can get it down now, you’re going to be miles ahead of the pack.  When other people irritate us in life, our automatic response is to want to focus on them, and change them.  And even though it might be true that those people are doing things that are entirely wrong (like praying to saints), the problem is that God wants people to have freedom of choice.  In other words, He wants people to have the option of ignoring Him, making really bad choices, wasting their lives, and ending up in Hell.  When we try to change people–even in good ways–we’re really trying to limit their choices in life.  We’re also often trying to make them more like us for our own convenience–because the more they agree with us, the less we will clash with them.

Now the world is filled with irritating people, and you’ll never meet most of them. It is God who is bringing certain people into your life.  God didn’t just throw you into some random family.  He was very strategic in giving you the parents and relatives that you have.  So what was His goal?  What was He going for when He chose your family situation?  His goal was to put you in an environment that would help you grow closer to Him.  You see, in your life God is always going to bring the focus back to you and Him. When you come to Him for help when people are driving you nuts, He is going to turn your focus onto you and Him and use your situation to teach you principles and viewpoints that will help you move closer to Him.  It’s never going to be just about other people.  Everything that God puts you through, and everyone He has you interact with is about you and Him getting closer.  Once you realize this, then you learn to stop praying, “God, show me how to fix that person,” and instead you start praying, “God, show me how I can grow closer to You through this situation.”  When you start taking this view of your problems in life, it will greatly change the way you view life and it will really help you speed down the road of spiritual maturity.  For more about this principle of keeping the focus on you and God, see The Right Focus in Life According to Christ.

Rule #2: God loves the people I care about far more than I do.  He’s a perfect Teacher.  He knows how to give them understanding on any subject.

So if God doesn’t want you to try to fix people, who is going to?  Does He just leave people to spiral down into messes without any help?  Not at all.  The way you get comfortable with the situation in your house is to realize that 1) it’s not your problem, and 2) God is handling it. Your parents and relatives are all caught up in a lot of really wrong beliefs: praying to saints, giving offerings to the dead, depending on beings other than God to protect them in life, thinking that they can beat back demons and curses on their own, etc..  Is it a mess?  Yes.  But God is also very involved in it, and He is more than able to show them the error of their ways.

Now you used to think this stuff was right.  Now you know it’s not.  What changed?  God illuminated your soul.  When God does this, it’s like having someone flip a light on in a dark room that you’re standing in.  Suddenly you can see a bunch of stuff that’s been in the room the whole time, only there wasn’t enough light for you to see it.  When God teaches us some new truth, the new information often feels super obvious to us the moment we learn it.  When a light goes on in the room, you say, “Oh, look, there’s a chair over there.”  You don’t say, “Is that a chair?  I’m not sure.”  It’s very obvious to you what you’re looking at, and when someone else walks into the room, you think it should be obvious to them as well.  But the problem is that you can’t see the room through that other person’s eyes.

Let’s use your dad as an example.  He prays the rosary.  The rosary sequence of prayers involves praying to Mary many more times than you pray to a real God (Christ).  So why is your dad praying to Mary?  Now that God has illuminated you on the subject of saints, you understand that praying to Mary is a total waste of time–plus it’s a form of idolatry.  But your dad is still praying to Mary, and if you say, “Dad, stop praying to saints,” he keeps doing it.  Why?  There are two possibilities.

All truth comes from God, and that means that you can’t teach anyone spiritual truths on your own.  Even though the statement “God doesn’t want us to pray to saints,” is very clear, that doesn’t mean it sounds right to other people.  If someone said to you, “The sky is covered in orange and green stripes,” would you just accept that?  They’re making a clear statement, but when you look at the sky, you see that it’s blue, so you’re going to blow off that person’s comments as ridiculous.  In the same way, until God shows your father that praying to saints is wrong, then when you try to say “Don’t pray to saints,” it will sound to your father like you’re saying something totally ridiculous.

This same principle applies to your mom, grandma, and aunt.  Until God shows them that their beliefs are wrong, you trying to say it is only going to sound like you’re criticizing and mocking them.  Naturally this will make them angry–especially since you are so much younger than they are.  Most adults have a hard time hearing criticism from other adults because it bothers their pride.  It feels even more insulting when their own children are the ones criticizing them.  It always feels backwards when the child is more spiritually advanced than her parents in some area, and yet this kind of thing happens a lot because simply being older doesn’t give adults a spiritual advantage over kids.  God will teach whoever He wants to teach, and the more we listen to Him, the more He shows us.  A lot of kids are much better at listening to God than adults are (which He loves), and He responds to those kids by showing them many truths.

So here are the two possibilities for why your family members are rejecting the spiritual truths you’re trying to show them:

  1. God has not illuminated them about these principles yet.  When you try to point out what’s wrong with what they’re doing, what you’re saying sounds totally wrong to them plus it sounds like you’re disrespecting them, so they get mad at you.
  2. God has shown some of them some of the truth in what you’re saying.  If this is the case, then they’re angry response to you indicates that they are rejecting what God is telling them in the privacy of their own souls.  When you speak, they feel convicted by God that they are doing wrong not to listen to Him.  They then respond by attacking you because they want you to stop saying things that upset them.

So what’s the solution here for you?  You should stop trying to change them.  If #1 above is what’s happening, then you’re wasting your breath trying to get through to them.  They won’t understand anything until God teaches them, and He teaches every soul in a different order.  If #1 is what’s happening, then you want to stop trying to correct them out of respect for God’s Authority: He’s the Teacher, and you honor Him by letting Him teach in His own way and style.

Now if #2 is what’s happening, then you should also stop trying to change them.  The issue here is one of spiritual rebellion: people are really rejecting God, not you, and you can’t fix their bad attitude towards Him.

So let’s talk more about #2.  Suppose that God has already shown your family members that the stuff they are doing is wrong–why wouldn’t they want to listen to Him?  Well, there are two main reasons that people cling to wrong beliefs about God: pride and fear.  For example, a lot of people fear that God doesn’t really pay that much attention to them.  Catholicism really encourages this kind of fear by constantly telling people to pray to intermediaries (like Mary and angels) instead of going directly to God.  What is the point of not going direct?  Well, the obvious assumption is that God does not welcome people to speak to Him directly.  Instead, Catholics beg and plead for Mary to act as a friendly kind of liaison between them and God.  This is really a very sad situation, and not at all what God wants.  And the more you ask other beings to talk to God on your behalf, the more you keep reinforcing the belief that God isn’t very receptive towards you personally.  This creates a real sense of distance between you and God and it becomes harder and harder to believe that He is ever really listening to you.  So then when a problem comes up and you really need God’s help, what do you do?  Well, you might fast like your mom does.  But notice how she worries about whether she’s fasted enough.  This demonstrates fear.  She is probably very insecure about God’s view of her, so she tries to earn His approval by making herself feel miserable.  This is another very wrong assumption that many souls make about God: He’s a hard Taskmaster who wants us always groveling in the dirt and inflicting misery on ourselves (see Relating to God: Recognizing the Trap of Symbolic Pain).  Well, no, God is much nicer than this.  But humans are very fearful creatures, and fears can be very hard to change.  Everyone wants to think that God loves them.  But when people have been taught that this just isn’t true, it can be very hard and even scary for them to even think about the concept of God wanting them.  It’s like this: suppose you lose something that meant the world to you.  You search and search but can’t find it.  Many times you get calls from people who say they found your item for you, you get your hopes up, but then find out they are wrong and you crash down into sadness.  After a while, you are going to be so tired of that kind of pain that you’ll refuse to get your hopes up.  The next time someone says, “Hey, I think I found what you lost,” you’re going to say, “Whatever.  No you didn’t.”  This is how a lot of hurting people respond to the idea that God loves them.  They’re so used to thinking that He’s impossible to please, that they’ve given up and they’re afraid to get their hopes up again.  Even though they might go through rituals to try and please God–like fasting–they never feel like it’s enough so deep down they’re always frustrated and sad.  This is a really miserable place to be stuck, and it’s really great that you’re not stuck there.  But if your mom is, then you telling her that she’s doing it wrong isn’t going to help at all.

Now let’s talk about generational curses.  Think about that term: generational curse.  God is the One who is supposedly doing the cursing in these situations.  How grim is it to believe that God has put a curse on your whole family?  How are you going to view a God who is cursing you for stuff that someone else did?  You’re certainly not going to feel loved by Him.  Instead, you’re going to feel like He’s holding some angry grudge against you for something that you didn’t even do.  The fact that your mom and aunt are even talking about generational curses demonstrates that there is a lot of fear between them and God.  Can you fix this?  Not at all.  These kinds of core fears can only be fixed by God, but He can fix them, and He does so all the time.  So while you can’t help your family with these things, you can know that they are in the care of Someone who can.  God loves your family members far more than you do and He knows how to fix their wrong beliefs about Him.  But God is also not going to force truth on people.  Because you’re doing a great job of listening to Him, He’s steering you away from all of these wrong beliefs and He’s helping you see how loving and easy to please He is.  Maybe your family members will also get there someday.  But maybe they will refuse to listen to God instead, and if that happens, they’ll stay stuck.  Helping us understand truth is how God rewards us for responding well to Him.  But if we refuse to listen to Him, then He refuses to teach us new things.

Now let’s talk about astral projection.  First, your grandmother did this many years ago.  Everyone does dumb stuff in life, so you don’t want to hold a grudge about it and say, “Because you did that forever ago, you must be stupid today.”  Also, the younger we are, the less life experience we have, and the easier it is for us to misplace our trust.  Your grandmother might have been encouraged to do this by someone she trusted.  And if she did actually experience demons messing with her (which many people do), she would naturally be very impacted by that experience.  It’s kind of like seeing a ghost: you don’t forget that kind of thing.  Even after you understand that the ghost was just a demon putting on a show, you still remember how freaky it was and how at the time you really thought it was your dead friend coming back to talk to you.

Human beings are extremely easy to deceive.  They also crave power and control.  Thinking that they have the power to separate soul from body and whiz about in their soul makes people feel far more powerful than they really are.  Believing that they can drive demons off by flinging holy water at them is another ego-pleasing idea.  When lies make us feel more safe, powerful, and self-reliant in life, we really resist letting them go.  This is what’s so enticing about the whole Christian warrior culture–it encourages the belief that we can control the way God uses His power, thus causing us to be very powerful through our association with Him.  Of course such a mentality grossly disrespects God (since we’re bossing Him around like our slave instead of bowing to Him as our Master).  But it’s so appealing to human pride, that you’ll find most Christian “warriors” and “intercessors” get super mad if you try to suggest that the great influence they think they have over God is just a pompous delusion (see Spiritual Warfare in the Church: Delusions vs. Truth).  The bottom line for you is this: your family members are caught up in some beliefs that are very appealing to human pride, as well as beliefs that are driven by deep core fears about God.  There’s nothing easy or fun about overcoming fear and pride issues.  We need God’s help with these things, because they are soul issues.

So what’s the good news?  Your family members are in God’s hands.  Because He is a perfect Teacher who totally understands what is best for every soul, you don’t have to take on the enormous burden of trying to help your family members grow in their understanding of truth.  That overwhelming chore just isn’t one that God assigns to you.  Instead, He’s going to tell you, “Don’t worry about them: I’m taking care of them.  Instead, practice trusting Me and resting in the fact that I’m handling this situation in the best possible way.”  Trusting and resting in God: these are two principles He’s going to be talking to you about your whole life.  So the sooner you start learning to take a deep breath and say, “You’ve got this, God.  I’m not taking this on.  These souls are Your creations, and You are already doing what You know is best for them,” the better off you’ll be.  In your life, God is going to teach you how to experience more joy and peace by recognizing the difference between your work and His work.  Your work is to cling to Him on a soul level and embrace everything He teaches you.  His work is taking care of everything and everyone else.  The Church gets this all wrong, of course, and she’ll keep trying to dump a bunch of God’s work onto you and until you feel super stressed and overwhelmed.  But if you listen to God, He’s going to keep lightning your load and telling you not to worry about what other souls are or aren’t doing with Him.  Witnessing, praying for the lost, praying for the dead, interceding–none of these things are on you.  When God wants you to say something to someone, He’ll give you the words and the resources you need to obey.  But whenever you find yourself feeling as stressed out as you are now, the answer will usually be that you need to focus on the soul attitudes of trust and submission. Trust says, “I know that You’re good and that You’re already doing what is best in this situation.”  Submission says, “I wish things were different, but I’m bowing to Your will on this because You’re the King.  I’m not going to tell You what to do–instead I’m going to wait for You to instruct me and then I’m going to follow Your lead.”

You’re already doing fabulously to see through the whole Christian sorcery package.  Learning to trust God with the care of our loved ones is another huge challenge, but you are clearly up for it.  Ask God to help you grow closer to Him through this situation and He will.

Recommended Articles:
How to Avoid Witnessing Burnout
Getting to Know God: Understanding the ProcessThe Mechanics of Spiritual Growth: Four Essential Attitudes

162. I am getting incestuous thoughts in my head. Now that I accept myself as I am, those thoughts have grown to include others in my incestuous thoughts. Why is this happening? Why did God make me so disgusting??

You are your soul, and your soul is not disgusting.  Incest is about being sexually attracted to close relatives–folks who God says are morally off limits as marital partners.  We don’t know what you mean by “those thoughts have grown to include others.”  And since we don’t know which relatives you’re feeling this way about (male, female, half, full, young, old, etc.), we can only give you general advice, so here it is:

What you’ve shared about your personal history and your behavior towards others demonstrates that you are feeling starved for attention.  You describe yourself as annoying people with constant questions, and even though you can see that you’re being annoying to them, you persist in acting like a pest.  Why?  Well, this behavior added to your sexual addiction added to your very negative experiences at home fits a pattern of you trying to compensate for feeling intensely rejected and unloved.  When humans can’t get enough positive attention to satisfy their core needs, they go for negative attention instead.  It’s like eating candy when you’re hungry–real food would be more satisfying and nutritious, but eating candy is way better than starving.

Now you’ve already figured out that for you, sex is a symbol for personal affirmation.  You’re not really going for “normal” sex, you’re trying to put patches on emotional wounds.  It’s the people who are closest to us who hurt us the most because simply by being our family members, they gain emotional power over us.  A child doesn’t choose to care about his parent’s opinion–he automatically cares from day one and he feels a desperate need for his parents to love and like him.

Now when your family members withhold normal familial affirmation from you, it creates an emotional crisis.  You feel like you’re being deprived of something that you desperately need.  In your case, part of your coping method has been to go out and have sex with as many women as you can get your hands on: any warm body will do, because each woman symbolizes a brief moment of affirmation to you.  But brief moments don’t satisfy, and affirmation from a stranger can’t compete with affirmation from your own family members, because they are the ones whose love you really want.  Throw the natural surging of your sex drive into the mix, and these kinds of psychological factors can easily steer you around to incestuous fantasies.  Making out with family members probably feels like a symbol of their affirmation to you.  Of course what you really want is normal familial affirmation–the old “I’m proud of you, son,” etc..  The original need was not sexual, but when non-sexual emotional needs are frustrated for too long, they can easily become sexualized in our minds.

So what’s the bottom line?  You’re not a creep, you’re just feeling desperate to get affirmation from people who won’t give it to you and your earthsuit is essentially brainstorming creative ways to try and force that affirmation to be handed over.  Of course in real life, you can’t make people like you, and forcing sex on your relatives would only intensify their rejection of you (plus it would probably result in you getting arrested and having a record, etc, etc.).  So why is God having you experience these kinds of nasty fantasies?  Well, experiencing firsthand how perverse your earthsuit can become in its attempts to get its emotional needs met is a great way to learn compassion for other perverts who are struggling in similar ways.  Because the world is full of abuse, sexual perversion abounds as people try to deal with emotional wounds in sexual ways.  Do you like being like this?  No, your disgust is clear in the wording of your question, and that’s your soul talking.  Your earthsuit doesn’t care about morals–it just wants its needs to be met.  But since your soul does care about pleasing God, it finds your earthsuit’s cravings repulsive.

We have very limited choices in life.  We can’t choose what we feel like we need.  We can’t make people be who we need them to be.  We can’t make our earthsuits care about God’s moral code.  But what we can do is ask God to help us grow closer to Him through our struggles, and we can choose to be receptive to the positive lessons He wants to teach us.  Compassion is very expensive to acquire, but it is worth paying for because it enables you to see people more like God does.  God never shoves us away in disgust saying, “Yuck!  What’s your problem?!”  God understands our problems much better than we do and He does not just abandon us in the midst of them. You can become a better person for having struggled with these issues, so when these kinds of desires well up within you, you need to say, “God, this is where I’m stuck and I can’t just fix myself.  I am dependent on You for all things, and I am trusting that You’re making me all that You want me to be because You know that I sincerely want to please You with my life.”  Because you are coming to God in the midst of all of these issues, He has set you on a path that has the potential to teach you fabulous lessons about compassion, humility, dependency, trust, and so much more.  Often it is our most shameful struggles that really catapult us forward in our walks with God, so don’t give up on Him or you.  No matter what you’re dealing with, He can use it to change you in some very positive ways.

Misdirected Sex Drive: Why do I feel aroused by inappropriate targets?
Encouragement For Christians Who Struggle With Perverse Sexual Desires
Understanding the Love of God: The Five Versions of You
Compassion Training: Focusing on Principles Instead of Particulars

161. Torture

You’ve been asking us a lot of questions regarding God’s sadistic side.  You’ve said that this aspect of Him doesn’t bother you, and that you’re actually fine with it.  And yet, no, you’re really not.  So since you’re trying to tell yourself that you are, and since you’re noticing an attraction to sadism within yourself, we want to raise your awareness about some psychological principles which can help you out.

There are many ways to torture someone, and one very common method is to beat them physically.  When your father does this to you as a child, it causes immense internal wounds.  When you then begin to grow in your understanding of God’s sovereignty and you realize that God intentionally placed you with a father who He knew would abuse you, you can no longer separate God from what happened to you.  Instead, you are forced to see Him as the One who is ultimately responsible for all of the terrible pain and fear that you went through as a child.  This kind of realization is what faith crises are made of.  We are fine with God as long as we feel confident He is for us, but we certainly don’t feel like He’s for us when He sets us up to be terribly hurt, and then stands there watching without intervening.  When you spoke of your father previously, we noticed that you used language which greatly downplayed the impact he had on you.  This is normal defensive behavior for humans–when we feel stuck with something negative, we often try to minimize our struggle and pretend we’re over it much sooner than we are.  And while wallowing in the past can certainly cause us to get stuck, never facing the enormous damage the past has done to us is another mistake that you don’t want to fall into.

The rational human response to God treating you as He has is to hate His guts.  When instead you try to pretend that you’re just fine with God acting like a creep, you’re only lying to yourself and Him.  Lies don’t help us grow.  You need to stay honest with God, and when you start trying to hide your true feelings about Him, He will find ways to drag the truth out of you.

God does not at all expect you to be just fine with the fact that He trapped you in a house with an abuser.  Instead, God fully understands how two faced and cruel this makes Him seem.  First He’s the guy who says abuse is wrong, then He hands you over to someone who will abuse you.  It’s more than a little hypocritical for God to call Himself the defender of the helpless in the Bible when He’s the One fixing it so the helpless are getting kicked in the head by others.  You see, there is a lot about God that is going to really tick you off, and it’s important to face this, not run from it.

As we said, it does great internal damage to you when your father beats on you.  Healing from this kind of trauma takes a lot of time and a lot of processing.  There is no way that you’re going to be able to just “forgive and forget” on something this huge, nor is this what God tells you to do.  Christians have so mangled the concept of forgiveness that they end up acting like it’s not okay to ever be honest about how damaged they feel from the way others have treated them.  Well, when you try to sit on something as intense as getting beaten as a kid, your mind ends up getting so stressed out that it will try to find other ways to cope.  So how do you cope with the fallout of getting abused as a child?  There are two common ways, and which one you choose has a lot to do with your temperament.  One option is to become a perpetual doormat who invites the abuse of others.  Souls who go down this path are often trying to keep recreating what is familiar: them being beat on.  The second option that stronger temperaments tend to default to is to become the abuser.  Here is where you can find yourself attracted to sadism.  The goal here is to ease psychological stress by reversing the power structure: you were dominated in the past, now you want to dominate others.   You want to trample on others the way that you were trampled on in the past, because as long as you are the one doing the trampling, you feel safe.

If you keep going down the road of “It really doesn’t bother me that God is into torture,” and “I’m over what my father did to me,” then you are going to end up in a mess of unprocessed emotional baggage.  So rather than keep trying to pretend you’re more over this than you are, ask God to help you face how you really feel about what He has done to you, and ask Him to help you process this in a way that will benefit your relationship with Him.  When God trashes us like this, it is to force us into a bind where we will feel we have very good reason to seriously doubt His goodness and His love for us.  It is by facing doubts that faith grows exponentially stronger (even though that seems totally backwards).  So rather than just drift down the road of sadism yourself as a way of coping with the past, ask God to help you get the most benefit out of the things He has put you through.  God breaks us in order to build us stronger, but the breaking is horrible to experience.  By learning to be honest with God about your anger and fears regarding His treatment of you, you will end up in a much more secure place with Him.

Faith in Crisis: How to Grow Through the Storm
Angry at God

159. I am a teen. In my school we have to do a minimum number of events for community service/events. So if God works through me to help the elderly/disabled, isn’t it bad that I take the glory for doing these things when I write it down on forms explaining everything that I did for them?

It’s quite possible to report your actions without exalting yourself.  For example, this is stating the facts: “I spent 10 hours assisting the elderly at a community home.”  This is taking glory: “The elderly at a community home were very blessed and privileged to have my help this weekend.  I made such a lasting impact on their hearts and minds.  I’m the ultimate public servant.”

When  you report your behavior, try to do so from the viewpoint of a third party observer.  A good reporter tries to focus on facts, not opinions.  And can you really say that you understand the impact you made on other people with your service?  No, because God keeps such details hidden from you.  Perhaps you received some praise or thanks from the people you helped, but often people are just being polite when they compliment each other.  In reality, most of the people who you have the greatest impact on in your life will never say a word to you about it.  It’s good that you’re thinking about the glory issue, but you don’t need to be afraid to merely state facts.  Ask God to help you report things in a way that pleases Him and trust that He will.

156. hcho1

Yes, your system of casting lots is a good one.  The important part is that you are making three answers available (yes, no, & silence) plus you are asking God if He’s willing to speak to you through signs before asking your main question (this helps with the discernment process).

You could simplify things by only making one set of papers and reusing them. There isn’t a need to make a new set each time.

Working with signs can get problematic fast, so before you ask for this kind of leading, think about if you’re really ready to act on it.  Also think about what your motivations are for asking the question.  By that we mean, is this really about wanting to please God or is there some other agenda that you’re trying to accomplish?

Often people ask for a sign, get an answer they don’t like, and then they refuse to act on it simply because they don’t like what God is telling them to do.  Getting a sign is not a replacement for faith–instead, it can be difficult to believe God is really speaking to you through this kind of method.  But using signs can be appropriate at certain points, so since you sound like you have a good grasp of the concept, go for it.  If you have trouble discerning the answer you get, let us know what the situation is and we’ll see if we can help you out.

154. In reading your reply to Question 152 you mentioned what seems to be the highest level of submission. I want it but I know I don’t have it. Just reading it went over my head at first, I had to re-read it to even mentally understand what it was. I totally understand submission for self-serving reasons (it makes me feel good to know God is pleased) but the layer further you were explaining is very foreign. How does someone get there? Is it only for special souls/callings?

The kind of advanced submission we described in #152 definitely falls into the category of special callings.  But here’s a critical point: special does not mean better.  Special just means limited. For example, God does not call every soul to be a prophet.  God does not want every soul to be a prophet.  But just because the prophetic calling is special (or limited), does that mean you should view prophets as better than non-prophets?  Certainly not.  Jonah was a prophet, and the only information we have in the Bible regarding his soul attitude shows him to be a rebellious brat.  Being called and pleasing God with how you respond to His call are two very different things.  No one is better than anyone else just because they’ve received a certain call.  Today many try to wave their callings around as proof that they are better.  Christians say “I’m called to preach,” or “I’m called to be a missionary.”  Then they look at you and say, “What is your calling from God?”  You might not have one.  To not have a calling simply means God isn’t spelling out how He wants you to serve Him in the future.  This is nothing to be bummed about.  As a general rule, God doesn’t tell us the future ahead of time, and if He’s not spelling out His future plans for you, that’s exciting, because it leaves everything wide open.

Titles tend to make us think much too small, so even if God wanted you to preach for Him, He might not say, “I’m calling  you to be a preacher.”  He might just wait until the moment comes.  Maybe God is planning to have you do five different kinds of work, which you associate with five different titles.  If He just tells you one title, you’ll probably get so focused on that one concept that you’ll close your mind to the other ways that God wants to use you.  This is normal behavior for humans, and God likes us to think big and stay flexible, so He’ll usually avoid speaking specific “words” over your future.  Realize that with the Church putting so much pressure on people to declare themselves as having some special assignment from God, most of the folks who claim to have received a particular calling really haven’t–they’re just grasping at something so that they can stop feeling looked down on.

So then, does God want every soul to grow into the advanced kind of submission we talked about in #152?  No, He doesn’t.  This is a very rare situation–meaning that God simply doesn’t desire this kind of mindset from humans as a general rule.  If you don’t ever reach that kind of submission, does that mean you aren’t advanced with your submission?  No, it doesn’t.  There is no limit to how far you can go with improving your self-serving submission to God, and this is the kind of submission He wants from humans.  Maturing in this kind of submission is going to take you to fabulous places with God, and you’re certainly not going to miss out just because you never experience the non-self-serving kind.

Now the souls who submit questions to us are in all different stages of growth.  When we know that we’re talking to someone who has an advanced understanding of spiritual concepts, we will introduce that soul to even more advanced topics.  The purpose of this site is to help souls in every stage keep moving forward.  But because we’re all at different stages of growth, not all of the teaching on this site is going to be beneficial to every soul.  Some souls will find advanced concepts overwhelming and too hard to grasp.  Is a young child “behind” just because he can’t grasp college level concepts?  Not at all.  The child is doing great right where he’s at, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re not doing well just because you bump up against a concept that seems hard to grasp.

Everyone needs a different next lesson.  For you, a great step forward would be thinking about how much God loves variety, and how we’re all on our own individual journeys with Him.  God leads His relationship with you, and you can trust that He will make it very clear to you when He wants something from you.  Meanwhile, leave room for other souls to be working on different things than you’re working on.  Just because someone else’s spiritual homework sounds hard to you doesn’t mean it’s something you should be trying to tackle.  There are some things God will teach other souls which He’ll never teach you.  There are some things He’ll teach you that He’ll never teach other souls.  You’re only accountable for how you respond to the understanding and convictions that God gives to you.  When He’s not calling you to do some specific thing, then be glad not to have to try and take that thing on.  You’re not going to miss out on anything when you are sincerely seeking God.

We always tell souls to ask God to make them all that He wants them to be, without trying to define what that will look like.  God does not want us to all become clones of each other.  He wants variety.  Is red better than blue?  No, it’s just different.  But the world is a better place with both colors in it than it would be with just one color.  In the same way, God is going to personalize His dynamic with you so that it will be something unique between you and Him.  On this site, we discuss basic elements that flow through every God-human dynamic: things like reverence and submission. But beyond the basic soul attitudes, there will be a unique flavor to your personal relationship with God.  Also, each soul attitude can be developed to infinite degrees.  You can always learn to revere or trust God more.  God will choose to emphasize certain soul attitudes more than others in His relationship with you, but you need to let Him choose what He wants to emphasize.  Chasing after the kind of extreme submission we talked about is not going to take you anywhere good if that’s not what God wants you to emphasize.  When we try to control our maturation process, God responds by blocking us and hemming us in.  We have to let Him lead the dance, and then we need to try to keep our focus on our own walks and not get bogged down in useless comparisons.

Here’s what fabulous about God: if you sincerely want to go far with Him, He’ll make sure that you do.  If you ask Him to have His total way with you, then you will end up satisfied with where He takes you.  Will your version of satisfied look the same as that of someone else who is also satisfied?  No, it will look very different. But you won’t care, because you’ll have what God designed you to want in your own relationship with Him.

Christians without Callings: You are Just as Special to God
How can we all be special to God?
Does God love us all the same?

153. I can think of endless reasons for God to be angry with me so I guess it’s easier to believe God as mad at me than pleased. Maybe it’s just my pessimistic nature, but I’d much rather think God is displeased with me when He really isn’t than be the guy who thinks God is pleased with them when He really isn’t. That being said, would any of the truths God has taught me here or anywhere else even ring true if I was still in rebellion mode? 

One issue here is that you’re finding it hard to accept God’s grace.  Grace is by definition an undeserved thing, and we humans often struggle to accept things which we know that we don’t deserve.

Another major obstacle is that you’re judging yourself according to human expectations instead of God’s.  God is far more reasonable than we are, because as our Creator, He knows what we are and aren’t capable of.  While it’s easy for you to look back and oversimplify your motivations (eg, “I was just being a jerk,” or “I was just being selfish”), in real life things are more complicated than this.  When God judges your actions, He takes into account the whole complicated mess of fears, insecurities, and needs that you are.  As a result, His expectations of you are a lot lower than yours are, and His assessment of you is far kinder.  This is why we say that God is easier to succeed with than other humans are–because we humans are unreasonable judges who leap to harsh conclusions without having anywhere close to all of the facts.

Now when it comes to wanting assurances that God has not written you off, you have plenty that you can point to.  First, your great concern for God’s pleasure with you (which is demonstrated by your anxiety over Him being displeased) is a solid indicator that you are not entrenched in rebellion.  Remember that rebellion is essentially a lack of submission and you aren’t going to put any value on God’s opinion of you unless you are submitting to some degree to His value system.

Do spiritual rebels ever feel like they are having “aha” moments regarding spiritual matters?  Absolutely.  But the key to telling if you’re learning the right kinds of truths are found in the question, “Who is being exalted?”  On this site, we don’t put out a bunch of ego pleasing guff that makes humans out to be God’s gift to the universe.  We don’t teach you that you’re some awesome clone of Christ whose worship God lives to have.  We teach you that you’re an impotent speck who God could uncreate tomorrow without being the least bit depressed.  We teach you that God’s enthusiastic love for you is His free choice, not something He has to do.  We teach you that God doesn’t need you in any sense of the word, and that you’re the one who should feel honored by Him inviting you closer to His magnificent Self, because He’s so much more fabulous than you are.  You simply aren’t going to ring with these kinds of messages if you’re on a pride trip, because there’s just not anything for your pride to feast on when it comes to messages about how we’re all a bunch of unworthy servants.  The only souls who will find this kind of material inspiring will be those who are embracing correct soul attitudes.  God’s truth really does have a very positive impact on us, but only when He opens our eyes to understand it in a certain way.  When He’s not opening our eyes, then we only experience our pride chafing, and we go off in a huff to hang out with the prayer warriors and prosperity teachers who are going to constantly emphasize how special and amazing we are.  Your ego wants to hear messages in which you are being exalted.  But when God speaks, He exalts Himself.  So when you find yourself feeling attracted to messages that are exalting God and not you, then that is a very good indicator that you are not in rebellion.  Submission is about recognizing God as the Supreme Authority.  On this site, we emphasize God’s supremacy far more than the Church does.  If you aren’t personally submitting to Him, you will find our constant emphasis on His magnificence to be off-putting and annoying.

152. Sometimes I wonder if my submission to God is nothing more than a cheap manipulation tactic on my part to avoid punishment or trials. One of the reasons I submitted/re-submitted after nearly a decade of hardcore rebellion is because God made it clear He could make my life infinitely worse than it was/is. He didn’t get into specifics but I knew He wasn’t making a baseless threat. I start to think what if God still decides to turn my life upside down whether it be because I’m being punished or as a trial? I know if there is any manipulation going on on my part God has already seen through it so it’s not like I’m hiding anything. I guess sometimes I worry if my submission to God (along with the other three soul attitudes He wants) is genuine. I’ve asked God that if there is any attempt at manipulation on my part for Him to show me and to help me better my treatment of Him because I know there is no stopping the punishments or trials God wants to have happen.

It’s sounds like you’re getting confused by the fact that there is an obvious self-serving element driving your submission to God.  Many Christians are taught that it’s bad to be self-serving, and yet the truth is that this is how God wants us to be.  Reverence for God is all about trying to save your own hide.  You recognize that He can trash you, you selfishly don’t want to be miserable, so you stop giving Him attitude in hopes of protecting yourself.  This is not a bad thing–it’s how reverence is supposed to work.

Now since reverence is about not wanting to be personally harmed, and reverence drives submission, submission also starts out as an entirely self-serving act.  The super powerful God who terrifies you with His awesome power says that your only hope of Him not nailing you is if you get on your face and embrace your role as His servant.  So you do.  Are you submitting out of some deep love for Him?  No, you are once again acting out of a desire to save your own hide.  There’s nothing lacking in this. It’s all anyone is capable of when they begin the journey.

God has no intention of making you non-self-serving.  Maturity isn’t about becoming less selfish, it’s about God changing the things that we find personally pleasing.  Wanting God to be pleased with you is a self-serving act: you want to attain something which you consider to be highly valuable.  You’re on a treasure hunt, only the treasure you’re after is a treasure which God says is the one worth sacrificing all for.  What makes your pursuit of God’s approval so pleasing to God is that your personal value system has become aligned with His.  God wants you to selfishly put your all into obtaining what you want–but only after He has taught you to want the right things.

Immaturity is when we are chasing after things which Gods says are worthless (worldly fame, money, health, etc.).  Both mature and immature Christians are self-serving, but the mature Christian’s value system is aligned with God’s, whereas the immature Christian’s value system is opposed to God’s.

Now there is such a thing as getting to the point where you are so obsessed with God’s personal point of view that His happiness becomes important to you for non-self-serving reasons.  In this extreme mentality, you view God as so vastly superior to all other beings, that you consider His preferences to be of supreme importance simply because they are His preferences.  The mature Christian says, “I want God to be pleased with me because I selfishly want to obtain the thing that matters most to me, and that thing is His approval.”  This attitude is very pleasing to God, because it places such a high value on Him.  But if we were to climb even higher, then the focus on self drops into the background, and we end up thinking like this: “God must be pleased because He’s God, and His personal experience of His own existence matters infinitely more than anything or anyone else.  I don’t see God’s pleasure as benefiting me personally–I see it as a necessary state of being.  If His being pleased somehow results in me being personally blessed, then that’s an extra bonus.  But regardless of what is happening to me, God must be pleased, and if I become an obstacle to that happening, then I should be taken out of the equation, for nothing has any value unless it is personally benefiting God.”

This second obsessive mentality is not a place that God expects us all to reach.  We’re only talking about it to demonstrate an alternative to the normal self-serving mentality.  But God designed us to be self-serving creatures, and since our selfishness actually motivates us to pursue His pleasure with great perseverance once He aligns our priorities with His, our selfishness is actually a very good thing.

Why God Wants You to Stay Selfish
The Gift of Ego

150. How could Jesus, being a true God like the Father and the Holy Spirit, be tempted by Satan?  Jesus was asked to adore Satan and for a reward Satan would give to Him all kingdoms of the world. Really this a question that the mainstream Church can’t answer. Some say that Satan didn’t know Jesus in Heaven. Others say that temptation of Jesus was just hallucination or made up to give more credit to Him.

Great question!  But first, it’s really excellent how you have decided to get back in alignment with God in your own life.  You have definitely made the wise choice there–keep up that great submission!

As far as Jesus’ temptation story goes, that is a fine piece of Self-exaltation on His part.  To understand why, see Impressing the Devil: Jesus’ Self-Exalting Temptation Story.

149. Is it bad that I feel weird when I try to pray to God out loud? I mean, I feel very comfortable talking to God in my own head, but out loud it just feels weird, I can’t explain it. So 99% of the time I just pray in my head. Is it wrong?

If you’re not comfortable praying out loud, you shouldn’t do it.  And here’s why it’s not a problem…

You talk to God with your soul.  Your soul doesn’t use words–it has its own spiritual language which is non-verbal and far more efficient than speaking out loud. The words that come out your mouth when you pray out loud and the words that you say to God in your mind are not a full translation of what your soul is saying to God.  All of those verbal communications reflect only a very small portion of what your soul is actually saying to God, and the verbal translations of your soul’s communication aren’t that accurate.  The problem here is one of language difference.  Trying to translate your soul’s wordless language into verbal thoughts just doesn’t work very well because your soul’s language is so much richer and more complex.  (see Communing with God: The Language of Your Soul).

It’s useful to understand soul-earthsuit mechanics, which is what we’re talking about here.  We have several articles on this subject, and when you learn how things actually work between your soul, brain, and body, you’ll discover that God has designed your personal communication with Him to be an extremely private thing.  It happens silently between your soul and Him, and other humans cannot eavesdrop on what you’re saying.  Because your earthsuit (which uses verbal language) is not able to accurately translate everything your soul says into words, it is literally impossible for you to share with other humans everything that you say to God.  (Demons can understand your soul’s language, but that’s a different topic–see Can demons read our minds?).

Now because you are your soul, you understand what sentiments you are trying to communicate to God and He always understands exactly what you mean.  That bumbling around you do with your thought voice as you try to work out prayers in your mind is actually your brain’s attempt to repeat portions of what your soul has already said to God.

Set an open Bible in front of you and sweep your eyes over all of the words on the open pages.  If you were to read every single one of those words out loud and in order, it would probably take you a couple of minutes.  Now blink your eyes once: that’s how long it takes your soul to communicate that same volume of thoughts to God.  Your soul’s communication with God is so fast and complex that your brain literally cannot keep up.  By the time you even begin to form a prayer in your mind to God, your soul has already said a far richer version of that prayer to God.  When it comes to praying in your mind, what your brain is really doing is repeating fragments of what your soul has already said.  It’s like you trying to summarize some long speech in Chinese down to a few sentences in English: you’re not accurately saying what the speaker said, you’re just summarizing the bottom line (see Brain-Soul Mechanics: Sorting Out the Voices).

So why are we getting into all of this?  Because we want you to understand what a total non-issue it is that you don’t like to pray out loud.  What you say to God is a private, personal thing.  This is how He wants it to be.  Even if you wanted to pray out loud and share all of your thoughts to God with other humans, God has fixed it so that you cannot ever share a truly accurate translation.  When God then gives you an introverted temperament which causes you to prefer to keep your feelings close to the chest, then you are going to be all the more repulsed by the idea of expressing your personal feelings to God out loud.  And if you don’t like to pray out loud, we would venture to guess that you also don’t like dancing around and waving your arms about during corporate worship sessions.  Does God take offense that you’re not trying to publicize your private feelings towards Him by dancing about the room in front of an audience?  Not at all (see The Body Language of Worship).  Does God take offense if you don’t get all emotional and blubbery when you pray?  No, He doesn’t (see The Emotionality of Prayer).  Does He need you to kneel on the ground or clasp your hands together or stand in a church before He understands that you’re talking to Him?  No (see Prayer Posture & Location).

God loves variety.  Some of us love to share and express, others of us prefer to keep most of what we feel private and hidden.  There is no law that says you have to share your personal feelings with other humans, and it doesn’t get more personal than what you’re doing with God.  God wants you to be totally honest with Him.  What is going to get Him on your case is if you start shutting down on Him or refusing to discuss certain subjects that He is prompting you to discuss with Him.  But as long as you’re being honest and real and open with Him, He is totally fine with you keeping other humans out of the loop.

What you say to God in the privacy of your own soul is really no one else’s business.  So if you want to share some things, fine.  But if you don’t want to share anything, that’s fine too.  Don’t let other people pressure you into praying out loud–that’s obnoxious behavior on their part.  And don’t just “amen” other people’s prayers in order to please them, because much of what other Christians pray for is not pleasing to God.  Praying in groups tends to do more harm than good, which is why you’re really better off skipping that popular Christian tradition (see Christian Prayer Groups: Why God Isn’t a Fan).  You should never get involved in intercessory prayer, because that’s just going to end up pressuring you into treating God with gross disrespect (see Intercessory Prayer Teams: Don’t Go There).  The reality is that as soon as Christians start praying out loud with each other, they usually veer off course by dragging each other down into rebellious behaviors.  So if you don’t like praying out loud because you’re a private person, great.  You’re going to save yourself a lot of grief.

All of that said, praying out loud can be a useful way for Christian leaders to model correct soul attitudes to the flock, but this kind of praying requires careful wording and forethought. It’s not a very personal communication on the part of the person praying (since they’re focused on guiding others, not on talking to God themselves), which is why it should only be used on special occasions when guidance is especially needed.  When we’re talking to God, we should be actually talking to Him–not pretending that we’re talking to Him while we’re really focusing on someone else.  For examples of how to use prayer as an instructional tool, see:

Praying for Your Flock in a Way that Honors God (Guidance for Pastors & Priests)
Praying for the Sick

147. For those with a similar situation as the person who asked question #144, should we pray for that family member?

No, we shouldn’t.  To understand why praying for other people gets you sidetracked, see Improving Our Treatment of God: Why We Shouldn’t Pray for the Lost.

If yes, how should we pray so that we can please God in this matter? If no, how can we with a God created human nature watch loved ones go to Hell?

When you pray, your focus should be on your own walk with God, not on what other people are doing.  When you find yourself struggling to accept that those who you love could end up in Hell, the issue lies with your own submission to God, and some productive prayers would be as follows:

“God, it’s obvious that Your view of Hell is very different than mine.  You made it, and You say it pleases You.  I find it horrifying.  Help me to get more aligned with Your view so that I can see Hell more like You do.” 

“God, You say that You are very gracious and that the only souls who end up in Hell are those who willfully refuse to submit to You.  The fact that I’m not okay with my loved ones ending up in Hell makes it clear that I don’t want to accept Your right to do whatever You want with Your own creatures.  Also, I am not respecting You enough as the Supreme Judge and clearly I’m not caring enough about You being respected.  Deepen my submission to You and change my priorities to be a match to Yours.”

“God, the fact that You like Hell causes me to seriously doubt Your goodness, and that makes it hard for me to trust You.  I just don’t get how a good God could want to torment His own creatures forever.  Please deepen my trust in You and my confidence in Your goodness so that I can stop doubting You every time You do things I disagree with.  As God, You certainly don’t owe me an explanation for why You do what You do.  I want to please You with my trust, not demand that You make sense.  Help me to keep improving my treatment of You because I want to be a source of delight to You.” 

The solution to the Hell issue comes in getting your own priorities more in line with God’s.  Naturally, humans hate the idea of other humans ending up in Hell.  But when we think like this, it’s due to us putting our loyalty to humans above our loyalty to God.  We care more about our own kind being comfortable than we do about our Creators being respected and pleased.  It’s natural to start here, but as we mature, God will increase our desire to please Him until we reach a point where God’s satisfaction becomes more important to us than anything else.  Once we are there, then simply having God say,  “I want those who defy Me to end up in Hell,” will be enough for us to say, “If that’s what You want, then we want it to, because You being pleased is what we care most about.”

It’s important to note that the right kind of enthusiasm about Hell is not driven by a sadistic desire to see humans suffering, but rather by a desire to see God pleased.  The soul attitude of submission says, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  Your will is to have your loved ones end up in Heaven.  But should God say that His will is for some of those people to end up in Hell because of their refusal to submit to Him, then mature submission will say, “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Submission results in our priorities changing to match God’s, and it greatly improves the way that we respond to His “dark” side.  For more about getting aligned with God’s view of Hell, see The Enemies of God.

146. CompassionContinuedPt.3

To protect your privacy, we have changed your previous code names.  We advise all of our readers to keep changing their code names to preserve anonymity (remember that what is posted on the internet can be accessed by the entire globe).

It sounds like you are making fabulous connections about the past and you are well-connected with God.  For the sake of more self-awareness, we wanted to respond to the extra information you provided, and point out that your observation of being interested only in the physical aspect of sex is probably linked to trying to reverse the physical traumas from your father.  Positive, affirming, appropriate physical touch is a very important element in healthy child development.  When instead the only touch available is negative, painful, or invasive, it can result in a psychological obsession with positive touch later on in life.  This is why the verbal compliments are hitting you as worthless: because you’re specifically going for the positive physical experience to make up for a lack of positive touch from a critical authority figure whose opinion carried enormous power in your mind.  Bottom line: your behavior is very rational given your background, and you are not at all alone in this kind of response pattern to abuse.  But with your spiritual development progressing so fabulously, these other issues will improve.  The spiritual is number one: God creates these other issues in our lives to drive us down the right spiritual roads.  You’re responding fantastically to His leading, so keep up the great focus.

There’s also a common pitfall that we want to steer you around which has to do with forgiveness.  Realize that as you process the past, you are going to experience waves of intense anger over dad being such a jerk to you.  Feeling out these things is a very important part of the healing process.  When we’re in the midst of a crisis (such as getting physically attacked), we can’t process the emotions we need to because we have to put all of our energy into surviving. It’s only after we finally get into a position where we feel safe from the previous threat that we can finally start to process all of the fear, pain and anger that we couldn’t deal with back then.  As these feelings rise to the surface like bubbles do in a pot of boiling water, it is easy to feel like a “bad” Christian because you’re not acting very forgiving.  But here is where you need to cut yourself slack and realize that forgiving someone does not mean you stop feeling any emotion towards him.  Emotions need to be faced and felt in order to be released.  If we keep trying to stuff anger down by saying stuff like, “I should be over this by now,” or “It’s not valid for me to still be upset over something that is no longer happening,” we only end up getting stalled.  So you need to give yourself permission to go through some furious feelings towards your father if that is what is needed for you to move on.  Trying to pretend you’re more “over it” than you really are only ends up hurting you.  All of this is just FYI about common struggles people have when trying to forgive their past abusers.

145. Sparrow

What you’re dealing with here is a case of symbolic sex. While it’s normal and natural for men to want sex more than women, you’re beyond the normal desires here: you’re obsessed.  Obsessions are always covers for deeper issues. The targets we obsess over symbolize other things to us, and it’s really those other things that we’re trying to get.

So what does sex symbolize for you?  You already know, and you said it quite well:

I care because I want to be fulfilled sexually by attractive women but also having lots of sex from women makes me feel desired & worthy as a man…

Look at the language you’re using here.  Deep down humans understand themselves better than they think, and in your own mind, you know what sex symbolizes for you.  For you, what you’re really after is affirmation that you’re worth something–not just as a man, but as a human being.  Is this a rare place to be stuck in?  No, it is extremely common.  There are a ton of men in this world who are chasing sex for the same reasons you are: because it makes them feel worth something.

Now while sex symbolizes confirmation of worth to you, notice how you need the woman you sleep with to be physically attractive.  Why is this?  Because physical beauty is another symbol for you.

So what does beauty symbolize in your mind?  Well, suppose some bum on the street paid you a compliment.  Then suppose a celebrity who you really admire complimented you.  Which compliment is worth more to you?  The one that comes from the person who you already respect and admire.  For you, beautiful women symbolize a target that you respect.  You rank them higher in your mind, then you interpret their sex as a symbol of them approving of you, therefore their sex feels like a powerful affirmation that, yes, you are worth something.

So why doesn’t it work for you to have sex with ugly women?  Ugly women can give you the same physical experience, but you’re not in this for orgasms, you’re in this for emotional affirmation.  Ugly women rank low in your mind–they’re like that bum on the street who you have no respect for, therefore his opinion means nothing to you.  If an ugly woman has sex with you, that sex still symbolizes affirmation to you, but it’s not satisfying because you don’t respect the opinion of an ugly woman.  See how it works?  There is a whole logical system worked out in your mind for why you want to have endless sex with beautiful babes.  If you ever want to break out of this cycle you’re in, you need to start looking at your own logic flow.

Now to help you understand how differently symbolic sex can work out for guys, let’s compare you to Brian.  Like you, Brian craves endless sex with women, but unlike you, Brian doesn’t need his women to be beautiful.  He’ll take anyone.  Like you, Brian isn’t having sex for the physical release.  He’s also in it for emotional reasons, but his reasons are different than yours.  While you’re shopping for evidence of personal worth, Brian is looking for a sense of power.  For Brian, sex symbolizes physical domination, and dominating women makes Brian feel safe.  Brian has a history of being badly abused by women who were more powerful than he was, and now he is compensating for all of his unprocessed pain by dominating every woman he can find.  In Brian’s mind, he lumps all women into one general symbol of an abusive power figure who threatens him personally.  He doesn’t care what women look like–if they’re female, he feels threatened.  So for Brian, sex is like war: it’s his way of conquering his enemies.  This is why he needs sex to be a violent affair in which he sees evidence that his target is demoralized and afraid.  Brian is a serial rapist who goes around violently assaulting as many women as he can find.  While you target beautiful women, Brian goes for both beautiful and ugly ones–whoever is most readily available.  Like you, Brian can’t get enough sex.  He feels compelled to keep raping women.  Why?  Because symbols never satisfy.  Brian isn’t really going to resolve his wounds from being abused in the past by going around assaulting strangers today.  Brian is like a man who has been stabbed by a knife.  Instead of treating his own wound, Brian picks up a knife and starts stabbing as many strangers as he can.  Deep in his mind, Brian feels that somehow he can help his own wound heal by stabbing other people.  But can he?  No.  While Brian is out knifing others, his own wound is just festering and growing worse.

You’re in a similar predicament.  You have gone through some painful experiences in the past which have led you to conclude that you are not worth anything.  That belief is like your knife wound which needs to be properly cared for if it’s going to have any chance of healing well.  But in your mind, it feels like getting gorgeous babes to have sex with you eases the pain of that throbbing wound.  And since the wound is so painful, you feel driven to keep chasing sex.

Now the problem with the system you and Brian are using is that it simply doesn’t work.  Anytime we start trying to resolve deeper issues with symbolic sex, we just end up feeling frustrated, worn out, and dissatisfied.  What’s really great about your situation is how well you’re able to articulate the psychological connections you’re using.  Look at how clearly you spell this out:

I don’t care about a meaningful relationship, I just want to be sexed by many attractive girls for my ego & self-esteem’s sake…

It’s very good that you’re so in touch here.  And now see how you are linking your past rejection by women with intense pain:

Since I have been rejected by thousands of girls & have not seen any interest from any women, I always feel depressed, angry, frustrated, & I complain and get angry with God even though I apologize after I feel terrible for treating Him so badly.

So what does God think about this?  Is He so dense that He doesn’t get that your obsession with sex is just a cover for a deeper issue?  No, God understands you far better than you understand yourself.  He sees that big knife wound you’re staggering through life with and He knows how much misery that thing is causing you.  He knows you’re obsession with sex is just an attempt to manage emotional pain, and He knows how maddening it is to you that your system isn’t working.  He also knows that your system is never going to work, because you’re avoiding dealing with the real issue.

So what does God want from you in this situation?  Well, God is a big fan of going directly to the root of a problem instead of just treating symptoms.  So for you, the productive thing to do is to start taking a hard look at how you first came to the conclusion that you aren’t worth anything.  The fact that you are trying to get women to counter this message for you indicates that women played a big role in teaching you that you were worthless in the first place. Often in these cases, there was rejection by a critical female figure, such as a mom, or your female peers, or your first romantic target.  The fact that you are so focused on beautiful women affirming you could be because whoever knifed you had physically beautiful features in your mind–such as the first peer who you felt physically attracted to.  Another possibility is that you’re using beauty to symbolize rank.  For example, your mom was higher ranking than you in the home, and beautiful women are considered as having higher rank in society than ugly ones, therefore you associate the two concepts of higher rank and beautiful women end up symbolizing mom to you since you see both as being women of power.

With this kind of sex addiction, there is an element of trauma reversal going on–you’re essentially trying to get women who you don’t even know to unsay some devastating message that a woman (or women) who you greatly respected communicated to you in the past.  Why are you going to strangers instead of dealing directly with the woman/women who originally hurt you?  Often the answer is that the original aggressors either won’t affirm you, or they are no longer available for you to talk to.  For example, Paul’s mom would never say she loved him.  Years after Paul’s mom died, Paul is desperately trying to get women to say that they love him.  In his mind, other women are a symbol of Paul’s mom, and he’s really trying to get his mother to say she loves him through those other women.  But since those other women are not really Paul’s mother, their affirmation of Paul never quite satisfies, so Paul is left feeling like he’s chasing after the wind.

The big aha moment you need to come to is that you don’t need other people to fix your own woundedness for you.  In fact, other people can’t fix your insides for you, which is why trying to get them to never works out.  Internal wounds must be resolved between you and God.  So how do you get there?  Here’s where you need to pray something like this:

God, I’m realizing that this obsession I have with sex is really about trying to fix my own pain, and I’m realizing that none of these women I sleep with will ever be able to give me what I so desperately need.  I feel worthless, and it’s overwhelming.  I don’t know how to stop feeling worthless, and I’m tired of chasing solutions that don’t work. Please help me understand how I got into this mess and help me to let go of the lies I’m clinging to that are causing me to push away the truths You’re telling me about how much You love and value me.  Help me to forgive the people who have hurt me in the past and to separate my identity from them so that I stop letting other people define who I am.  Help me to embrace the truths that You tell me and to have the courage to face my own fears and insecurities, knowing that You’re big enough to help me work through them all.

Notice what you didn’t ask for: miraculous healing from your addiction.  Notice how you didn’t spend time groveling with apologies over what a little lust ball you are.  Endlessly apologizing for being an addict is a total waste of time.  Addictions are symptoms of deeper issues, and the sooner you are willing to look past the symptoms and focus on the core issues, the sooner you’ll be able to move forward.  It is enormously stressful for humans when they look in the mirror and see worthless trash.  This kind of identity crisis takes time to resolve, and as long as it is weighing on you, you’re going to feel intensely drawn towards symbolic sex.  But it is a huge step forward when you can face what’s really going on and start becoming receptive to God working on your deep core fears with you.  This is the difference between recovering and staying stuck forever: we have to reach a point where we are willing to face our own issues instead of settling for putting endless patches on them.

The fabulous news for you in all of this is that you’re finally burned out enough to start dealing with core issues.  And as these deeper issues start getting addressed, your obsession with physical beauty will start to fade.  The symbols will lose their power, and you’ll stop being so afraid of God saddling you with a wife who is fat and ugly.  Right now, you’re not ready to get married.  Dragging these kinds of anchors into a marriage will lead to all kinds of other problems, because as it stands now, you are probably not capable of staying sexually faithful to a wife.  As you say, you don’t care about a relationship right now–you’re too consumed with needing that affirmation, and that will drive you to keep cheating on your spouse with any sexy babe who comes along.  This self-worth crisis is the issue you need to deal with first, and once that anchor is off of you, you’ll be able to focus on a relationship.

It’s a very good sign of progress that God is getting you to realize that women are nothing more to you than objects you’re using and discarding in order to try and get your own emotional needs met.  Is this something to feel horrible about?  No, because feeling horrible only causes us to stay stuck longer.  Instead of saying, “Yuck, what kind of immoral scum am I?” you need to be saying, “Wow, I clearly have issues that I need to start dealing with in a more productive way than this.  I might not know where to start, but God does.  He loves me and is for me, so I’m going to ask Him to help me get into a better place with all of this.”

144. What would you think….

When you try to share truth with someone only to get the door slammed in your face, there are two questions you can choose to focus on.

The first one is: “Should I continue to try and share with this person when she is obviously unreceptive to what I’m saying?”

The second one is: “Why is this person so unreceptive?  What’s going on between her and God?”

You’re focusing on the second question.  You need to set this question aside because trying to assess an individual soul’s personal standing with God is just not something God invites you to do.  It’s more like He’s going to say, “What’s going on between her and I is between her and I.”

Now when it’s a family member, we are naturally more invested.  But just because someone is family doesn’t mean God is going to hand us a transcript of the personal conversations He is having with another soul.  God intentionally keeps an element of privacy between Him and other souls, and He just isn’t going to tell you or anyone else about all of the inner working’s of another person’s interactions with Him.

As tempting as it is to slap the “rebel” label onto someone, even when someone has all of the external signs of rebellion–the snarky attitude, the clinging to bad theology, etc.–we must remember that we humans can never claim to be on the same level as God.  There is an enormous difference between us speaking and Him speaking.  The only time someone becomes accountable for spiritual rebellion is when they are blowing off God speaking to them.  Since we humans cannot control when God speaks to someone else, we can never say, “I shared the truth, she rejected it, therefore she’s guilty of rebellion.”

Maturity is a complicated affair and God handles every soul differently.  Your dad and mom are on two entirely separate tracks with God.  Your dad has been very vocal about the revelation he’s received from God and he’s vocalized his receptiveness of it–this is the exception, not the rule.  The vast majority of what humans say to God in the privacy of their own souls never gets vocalized.

Now on the outside, your mom is flatly rejecting everything you are saying to her.  Does it complicate things because her son is trying to theologically correct her, thus reversing the usual flow of instruction in the parent-child relationship?  Yes.  God often chooses not to illuminate us using our family members–often He speaks to us through other parties instead who we do not have so much emotional baggage with.  God obviously used you to a point to speak to your dad, but remember that it was God, not you, who your dad submitted to, and you can be sure that God communicated a whole lot more to your dad than ever came out of your personal lips.  So while it’s very exciting to have God ever choose to speak through us, we need to not exaggerate the importance of our role.  God was working with your dad for quite a while night and day on these changes.  Then, to encourage you, God had you be there to witness the “aha” moment.  But it was entirely God bringing the whole transformation about.  (We’re not criticizing you here, but these are important points to review.)

Now your mom is an entirely different story than your dad.  She’s her own complex person with her own complex past.  There are many reasons why she feels a need to cling to her current theology.  Her negative response to the article you shared is very common, and it demonstrates a complete lack of confidence that God would ever communicate to her personally apart from the Bible.  Think about that: if you really thought that God has so little interest in you that He wouldn’t lift a finger to help you if you started going astray, then how scary would that be?  And if you also believed that while God could not be counted on to ever speak to you in a clear way, He would be swift to nail you for “going astray,” then how afraid would you be to ever venture beyond the Bible?  You’re going to cling to that thing like a drowning man clings to his life raft because you figure the book is the only connection to God that you have.  You don’t believe God cares about you personally–you just believe that He has thrown some book at you and said, “You’d better not stray,” before walking away to go run the universe from some distant throne.  This is how many Christians feel about God: they have no confidence that He is willing or able to personally lead them in life.  So when you come along and try to rip their Bible away from them, you trigger some enormous fears and insecurities which are not going to be resolved by a heated debate.

Trust in God’s personal love for us is an extremely difficult concept for many humans to grasp–especially ones who have been deeply wounded by other humans.  Your mom’s history of avoiding emotional engagement indicates that she has been deeply wounded herself in close relationships.  To expect such a woman to magically morph into a tower of confidence concerning God’s personal love for her just isn’t real.  The fact that she can’t just walk away from a church family that accepts her and stop obsessing over the Bible does not mean she is totally closed to God.  To try and assess someone’s spiritual standing based on one point of their theology is not reasonable.

So what’s the bottom line for you?  Well, let’s go back to our two questions.  You need to forget about the second one, because assessing your mom’s current standing with God is simply not your business.  The first question is the one that is relevant for you: “Should I continue to try and share with this person when she is obviously unreceptive to what I’m saying?”

The answer here is no, you should not keep bombarding your mom with theology which is so upsetting to her.  Her continuous rejection of what you’re saying indicates that God is not blessing this situation.  Rather than keep beating your mom over the head with some of our most harshly worded material, you need to step back and stop trying to control God’s illumination style.  You are the one who likes being verbally and emotionally slashed, and the only reason you like being abused like this is because of your own personal baggage.  We all have baggage, but it’s different baggage.  Your mom is not responding well to your assaults, and given your very aggressive style, this is very understandable. You’re treating her like she’s you when she’s not you.  She doesn’t like being whacked across the face, so stop whacking her.  Let God deal with her in His own way, because He knows what she needs and you don’t.

Will your mom reach the point where she is able to make the kind of theological leap that you’ve made?  Maybe, maybe not.  But remember that you have no idea how much illumination God has given her, therefore you have no idea what He expects from her.  You bombarding her with our material does not count as God illuminating her.  Unless He chooses to speak through such things, she is naturally going to conclude that we’re satanic (which she does), and God will not hold this against her if He hasn’t told her otherwise.  For you, this is an excellent opportunity to practice trusting God with your mom, and releasing her into His hands.  She is her own person, and God gives her the option of rejecting Him.  We understand that your intentions were good, but it’s very easy to get off course in witnessing efforts.  The key indicator that things have gotten off track is when you find yourself so focused on what someone else is doing in their own walk with God that you’re no longer thinking about your own maturity.  You want to keep your focus on your own walk and your own soul choices, because that’s the only area you can control.

143. I got it.

Fabulous!  When God sees that you are seeking the truth out of a sincere desire to please Him, He will respond by rewarding you with more and more life changing insights.  God’s truth is awesome, and the surprises never stop coming.  So keep up the good work in seeking Him directly and you will be amazed at where He leads you and how incredibly freeing His truth is.

Getting to Know God: Understanding the Process
The Wisdom of God: A Priceless Treasure
Getting to Know God

142. Red Cloud

It would not be wise for you to continue contacting this woman, even anonymously.  It sounds like the anonymous gift idea is being guilt driven (you feel you weren’t very compassionate when you were with her in person).  This woman is obviously in a mess, coping badly (with drugs), and all of this puts her in a very vulnerable position.  It would be better for her to get help from another woman rather than from a male peer.  When women are freshly dumped, they are very likely to throw themselves at the next male to come along.  Often this is an effort to boost their own esteem by trying to prove to themselves that they are still able to attract men.  And because this kind of “rebound” behavior is all about boosting the woman’s shattered esteem, it tends to be done without any concern for who the man is and often results in a very bad match which causes everyone pain.

So let’s talk about discernment skills.  In cases like this, when you’re wondering how involved you should get with a difficult person, what you want to look for in your own life is evidence of Divine empowerment.  When God is empowering you to deal with someone, you will find it surprisingly easy to be gracious and compassionate towards that person.  What you actually experienced does not reveal any evidence of empowerment.  When this woman got nasty with you, you reacted with the normal anger that humans feel when they are feeling mistreated.  It’s not that God couldn’t use you in this situation, but from what you’ve described, He is not equipping you to deal with this woman.  The fact that you were so focused on the sexual angle further demonstrates that God is not equipping you to deal with this situation in a productive way.  As a guy, it’s normal for you to want sex, but sleeping with a woman like this is the last thing you want to do.  Even if we set the whole moral issue of extramarital sex aside, you do not want to get romantically or sexually entangled with a woman who is in this kind of emotional state.  She is not currently equipped to handle a relationship, nor is she ready to invest in you while her heart is still stuck on her ex.  If she is going to recover from what she’s just been through, she needs to step entirely out of the dating game for awhile and take time to think about what went wrong in her previous relationship and how she contributed to its downfall.  To not just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, we need to take time to reflect on our choices and learn from them, not just rush into a new relationship.  But because learning is painful, we often want to skip it and distract ourselves with a new fling.

Now the honest truth is that you went over there hoping for sex.  Fine–it’s great that you’re in touch with yourself enough to see this.  But the fact that this was just a potential sex thing for you demonstrates that the woman really isn’t who you were caring about.  When she dumped on you (which she would have done to any warm body at that point), you found it draining and frustrating.  Well, yes, as a general rule, men do not handle verbal barrages very well.

Women tend to process their emotions verbally, which is why they talk so much and go over the same ground so many times (which tends to drive men crazy).  This kind of “venting” is a critical part of emotional processing for women, and what they want is tons of empathy, not solutions.  But men are solution oriented: when there is a crisis, they react by coming up with a solution.  It’s a fabulous trait to want to “fix” things, and that certainly has its place.  But when a fixer gets together with a very upset venter, the fixer usually ends up getting his head bitten off for not saying the “right” things.  It is this natural collision of the male/female processing styles that results in men groaning that women are so impossible to figure out and please.  Both genders naturally want the other gender to be like them, and yet God has wired us to be different in some key ways.  The differences greatly complement each other, but they also drive us crazy in crunch time.  All of this means that just by your being male, this situation was already going to be harder for you to deal with because this woman wanted to unload on you with a bunch of problems that you really can’t do anything about.  And then of course you can’t help noticing the physical attraction angle, and while she’s telling you her life story, you’re thinking about how nice it would be to get some.  This doesn’t make you a jerk, but it does mean you’re not being empowered to be her sounding board through all of this.

Now you don’t know what happened with this woman and her boyfriend.  But there is obviously dysfunction happening because the guy is still calling her after claiming to break up with her–this demonstrates a lack of solid boundaries on his part.  No doubt she contributed her share to the situation, and the fact that they are both heavy drinkers further indicates that they are both using drugs to compensate for their own personal woundedness.  The fact that this woman laid into you so abusively further indicates that her own relationship skills are underdeveloped.  You’re not a close friend and yet she’s calling you in the middle of the night–that’s already asking for a pretty big favor.

Midnight rescues are something you do with close friends, family members, and the occasional stranger who is in a real jam.  Abusive barrages are something you endure now and then with someone who otherwise demonstrates respect for you in the relationship. But when there is no respect, and someone just starts wiping her feet on you like you’re some doormat who owes it to her to be her sounding board, then no, it’s time for you to draw boundaries.  Not taking anymore of her calls is a wise move on your part, and she would be much better off blocking her ex boyfriend’s calls.  The fact that she’s still listening to her ex’s drunken speeches is a big part of why she say she can’t move on after five months.  When romantic relationships end, clean breaks are essential: we need to cut all communication for a while until we are able to emotionally detach.  When instead we keep talking and texting, we remain stuck in the pain of a fresh break up and very likely to “try again” in a situation that is doomed to fail.

You did great stopping to think of God, and you’re doing fabulously to be so well-connected with yourself and so honest about your own motivations.  It’s natural to feel guilty when someone is hurting around us and think that we’re supposed to do something to help them.  But in real life, these situations are complicated, and sometimes gifts and a bunch of hand holding will only cause someone to remain stuck in self-pity mode.  Some people need empathy, others need tough love.  Since only God knows what’s best for this woman, you want to stay out of it until He is clearly calling you in.  The clear absence of empowerment in this situation indicates that He is not calling on you to continue in some kind of counseling role with this woman.

140. What does the word “brattitude” mean? I can’t find this word in a dictionary. Perhaps this is a typing error?

Good question!  Languages are constantly changing, and dictionaries have a hard time keeping up.  You’ll find that online dictionaries are far more up to date than paper dictionaries.

If people misspell or misuse a word long enough, then those changes become accepted as “good” English, even though they started off as errors.

One way that people invent new words in languages is to squish two words into one.  This is what happens with the word brattitude.  It is a combination of bratty + attitude.  It means a bad attitude that is often expressed through a lot of complaining and fussing.  You can find this word listed online in an urban dictionary, which is basically a dictionary of slang or incorrectly used English words.  After a while, slang words are accepted as correct.  But if you look up a word online and the only dictionary it’s listed in is an urban or slang dictionary, then that tells you that that word is technically an incorrect use of English which English speakers are playing around with.  Other examples are whateva (a misspelling of the word whatever which is used as a negative, sarcastic response), and snark (a combination of the words snide + remark which also refers to someone expressing a bad, sarcastic attitude).

138. When I read an article about supernatural beings, I can’t help but wonder why no story like that reaches my ears. In the core of a very busy city, nobody seems to have any trouble with demons. At least, no one seems to be aware of it. I mean, I know demons can make their words seem like God’s to me, but I have never ‘felt’ a supernatural being. It’s common sense these among most people (not the ones who are weirdly absorbed in church communities) that demons and ghosts are imaginary, just as unicorns are. And while some friends might tell others about an encounter with a ghost, it would just be for fun, just to spook each other out. And if that friend is too serious about it all, others would think he’s out of his mind, and if he sticks to his story, he might end up being locked in a psychiatric ward. Yet in places like Africa, people seem to be open to the fact that there really could be demons around us, and relatively many seem to be constantly bothered by them. Why has God made this difference between cultures? It’s almost like demons don’t exist in Korea but they do in certain other countries….though that’s probably not true..?

When it comes to interacting with humans, the primary goal of demons is to keep them spiritually off course.  The vast majority of the time they work covertly and humans are not aware of their activities.  This is true even in cultures that obsess over demons, such as the stereotypical voodoo cultures and Christian spiritual warfare and deliverance cultures.  For all of their obsessing over the identity, power, and location of demons, folks who can’t stop talking about “the spirits” don’t begin to understand how greatly they are being impacted by such beings.  For example, in the typical ghost encounter, humans rely on their senses to determine how often the spirit is near them.  When they aren’t seeing, hearing, or feeling anything, they assume that no spirit being is nearby, and yet this is totally untrue.  Demons always lead ghost chases.  While humans think it is their own idea and their own curiosity that’s motivating them to hunt ghosts, it’s really just demons toying with them like a man who dangles bait in front of a fish to get him to swim into a trap.

Now the effects of demons on your culture are very clear.  Notice how closed people are to any sense of spirituality.  Those who try to get serious about God receive immediate pressure to stop their pursuit of spiritual matters and to fall back into an atheistic mentality.  This is a classic indication of a very strong demonic influence and scores of people being extremely receptive to them on a soul level.

Imagine how terrifying it would be if your country was attacked by an army of soldiers who could go around invisible, silent, and impossible to detect.  Such men could sneak into your house and you wouldn’t even know they were there until they suddenly killed you.  In such a situation, it would appear as though people were dying at random all over the place, when in reality it would be a very strategic attack on the part of the invisible army.  This is how demons work: they are always among us, and they work in very strategic ways.  Without God’s help we cannot detect them or defend ourselves from them.

As strange as it sounds, demons have the most influence over people who do not believe in them.  In such cases, they can do all kinds of damage and humans never resist them effectively because they are refusing to acknowledge their reality.  It’s rather like a man who doesn’t believe in disease coming down with some bad infection.  If he would take medication, he’d recover, but instead he keeps denying there’s a problem while he grows worse and worse.

In your culture, most people scoff at the notion of demons.  Meanwhile, everyone is also scoffing at the notion of God.  Demons love that your people are refusing to acknowledge them–because while everyone is taking that view, they are totally accepting what demons are telling them about the pursuit of God being stupid and pointless and a sign of weakness.

So then, why the difference in cultural views of demons?  It reflects the difference in strategies that demons use with humans.  But even in cultures that exalt spirit beings, their understanding of who those beings actually are and how they work is very poor.  This means that everyone is being affected far more than they realize, and instead of resisting, they are being totally cooperative.  This is why we tell people not to obsess over demons–because the more you get involved in any group that is focused on demons–and this includes the Christian subcultures of intercession and spiritual warfare–the farther you drift from an understanding of how demons really operate, the easier you become for them to control.  It is only by focusing on God and pursuing His priorities for us that we end up with a balanced view of demons and an understanding of the best way to respond to them.

136. Some scientists say that you can see demons using ultra violet light or being able to see ultra violet light by getting a part of your eye (that filter UV ) surgically removed.. is this true??  Also how is it that animals can sense the presence of demons but we humans can not??

Both of these theories are utterly ridiculous.  Trying to track demons with your senses–what a total waste of time that is.  Even if you could surgically alter yourself so that you could see demons (which you can’t), then what?  How is that to your advantage?  You can’t take demons on by yourself.

God is intentionally keeping you blind to most of what is going on in this world, and that’s a very good thing.  As a human, you are very fragile and easily overwhelmed.  Would you feel comfortable if you could see all of the microscopic critters that are doing life all around you?  No, it would freak you out.  Someone with your fear issues should not be reading the material of those who are exalting the power of demons.  It is focusing on God, not on demons, which will help you.

135. Prophet

Since you are not this person, you don’t need to concern yourself with the details of how God is working with him/her on a personal level.  It simply isn’t relevant to your personal walk with God.  What is relevant for you is understanding where this person’s apparent power comes from and how God wants you to respond to him.

Focusing on the end time prophet is the wrong focus.  We need to be focusing on God instead.  Because God is going to work through this person and have him so in our faces, it helps us stay aligned with God by being told about this person ahead of time. See Preparing for the End Times: Interacting with God’s Prophet.

134. You mentioned in one of the articles that Heaven might be somehow connected with Hell and souls on both sides of eternity will be able to see each other. Souls in Heaven will be transformed in new creatures with purpose of serving our three magnificent Gods. This is what I believe. But what if I see my wife or my mother in Hell? Would I see them the same way as God would, rebellious souls deserving eternal torment? Would God prepare us for such encounters? 

Great question and great thinking on your part.  Keep up the good work!  Thinking and questioning is how we mature.

All of the physical descriptions of Heaven and Hell that we find in the Bible are metaphorical imagery which is not meant to be taken literally (see Your New Name in Heaven). Yahweh and Jesus are not attempting to give us accurate descriptions of what Heaven and Hell will look and feel like.  Instead, They use metaphors to communicate important principles, and those principles are what we need to focus on.  For example, when Jesus refers to people gnashing their teeth, He doesn’t mean people will have actual teeth which they are grinding together.  We’re not going to take our physical bodies with us into eternity, nor will we need them.  So we’re not going to have teeth that we can grind together.  The gnashing of teeth imagery is metaphorical which communicates a principle of intense suffering.  It’s the same with references to a lake of fire, a worm that never dies, and great weeping.

To try and put together a rough idea of what Heaven and Hell will be like, the best we can do is pile all of the metaphors together and look for common principles that emerge.  When we do this, we find the following themes being emphasized over and over again:

  • There are two possible locations for humans to end up in after they leave this earth: a nice place and a terrible place.  We call the nice place Heaven.  We call the terrible place Hell.  Don’t put too much importance on these names–they are just labels Christians use for convenience.  In the original documents, Jesus didn’t use the name “Hell.”  He used other names instead.  The names don’t matter. The principles do.
  • Here are some common themes that our Gods teach us about Heaven in the Bible:
    • We will be happy there.
    • It will be a place where They are being exalted and worshiped.
    • We will be aware of Their Presence with us.
    • We will be in a community of other believers.
    • Earthly relationships will not have meaning there–there won’t be family units or spouses.  There will just be the folks in Heaven and the folks in Hell.
    • We should expect to stay in Heaven forever.
  • Here are more themes about Heaven which Christians rarely discuss:
    • We will be serving our Gods, not just kicking back on vacation.
    • We will be continue to make choices–we won’t be turned into automatons.
    • We will not all have the same experience of Heaven–there will be varying degrees of joy, depending on how we each responded to our Gods on earth.
    • We will be judged by our Gods, not by created beings (such as humans and angels).
  • Here are some common themes that our Gods teach about Hell:
    • We will be in terrible anguish there.
    • We will be aware of our suffering.
    • We will not have the same experience of Hell: there will be varying degrees of suffering, depending on how we each responded to our Gods on earth.
  • Here are more principles about Hell which Christians often try to deny:
    • It will be our Creators–not created beings (such as Satan and demons) who will be tormenting us in Hell.
    • Our Gods are everywhere–Hell is not a place where we are away from Their Presence.  Instead, we will be terrified there by the intensity of Their wrath.
    • Hell is eternal. Once we are put there, we will have no hope of leaving, no hope of mercy, and no hope of ceasing to exist.
    • The purpose of Hell is for our Gods to publicly glorify Themselves by demonstrating what happens to creatures who defy Them.
    • Like Heaven, Hell is a place where multiple kinds of created beings will exist: we know that both demons and humans will end up there.  There could be many more.
    • Demons will be in terrible anguish in Hell, not gleefully running the place.  Hell functions like a prison–not as the current home of demons.  Demons do not currently flit in and out of Hell.  Once they are put there, they cannot get out.
    • Our Gods delight in both Heaven and Hell.  They do not view Hell as a terrible thing.  To Them, it is a wonderful thing.  It is only terrible for us.

Now that we understand these things, let’s talk about intersection.  There is a fascinating theme running through Jesus’ parables, as well as Revelation and the OT prophetic books of our Gods intentionally having Heaven and Hell intersect with each other.  In Jesus’ parables, there are frequent metaphors of Heaven and Hell, and often the characters who end up in “Hell” end up in close proximity to the folks in “Heaven”.  Often there is a house that represents Heaven, and folks inside are partying.  Rebellious souls are cast outside into “outer darkness” where they would still be able to hear the partying that’s happening inside.

In Revelation’s Heaven, there is a constant visual reminder of the suffering of those in Hell.  That visual is a column of smoke which is perpetually rising up into Heaven where all can see it.  In the OT books, Yahweh emphasizes themes of those who obey Him getting to see Him destroy His enemies in highly public ways. At the end of Isaiah 66, there is a particularly fascinating section in which Yahweh describes those who end up approved by Him in eternity getting to visually see the suffering of those who He hates.

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will endure before Me”—
this is Yahweh’s declaration—“so your offspring and your name will endure.  All mankind will come to worship Me from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another,” says Yahweh.

“As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” (Isa. 66:23-24)

An honest look at how our Gods present eternity in the Bible really leaves no support for the theory that Heaven and Hell will be totally isolated from each other.  Instead we should expect them to be quite interconnected, for the purpose of our Gods glorifying Themselves by showing off the consequences They gave to created beings who chose to respond to Them in various ways.  Heaven demonstrates Their great generosity, Hell demonstrates Their fierce wrath.

Now let’s get to your question: what will your personal reaction be to seeing your loved ones in Hell?  Well, first of all, they won’t be your loved ones.  Earthly associations will have no meaning in Heaven–so you won’t perceive your wife and mother as your wife and mother–instead you will perceive them as fellow human beings.  The question is, how will you feel about so many of your own kind suffering in such extreme, public ways?  Well, this comes down to a question of alignment.  As you mature in your own relationship with your Creators, you will find Their perspectives to be increasingly important. It is quite possible to get to the point where you are so focused on pleasing God that what He really wants truly is of supreme importance to you.  Once you’re there, you will respond to Hell the same way He does: seeing it as a positive thing which you like because you know it satisfies Him.  But should we assume that all souls in Heaven will be this aligned with their Creators?  Does the mere fact of being in Heaven suddenly cause us all to be fully devoted to our Gods, and thus never experience a conflict of wills with Them?  No, we really have no basis for assuming this.  The fact that our Gods teach that there are degrees of suffering and rewards in eternity implies that souls will arrive in Heaven at various stages of spiritual growth and those differences will not be abolished.  Instead of viewing Heaven as a place which equalizes us and causes us all to think alike, we should view it as a place in which our individual journeys with our Creators continue.  If you made great progress with Them on earth, you’ll be much better off in Heaven than a soul who squandered much of his time here.  Because our Gods place such a high value on us having choice, and because real choice involves the ability to disagree, it is quite reasonable to assume that some souls in Heaven will be disturbed by the souls in Hell.  To find Hell a positive thing for the right reasons requires a mature spiritual viewpoint: one in which we truly want our Gods to be pleased above all else.  Just getting off on creatures writhing in agony is carnal sadism, not a correct soul attitude.

In the Bible we find many rebellious humans longing to see their enemies in torment for all the wrong reasons.  Our Gods do not at all smile on us saying we’re better or more deserving of grace than our enemies.  The only right reason to be into Hell is because you understand that your Creators like it, and you want what They want.  Such a view leaves no room for you personally getting off on certain humans getting it.  If our priorities are correct, we should be wanting even our worst enemies to end up on the right side of eternity.  We should not wish Hell on people, nor should we say that we are less deserving of it than anyone else.  No one “deserves” Heaven.  Grace and mercy by definition are undeserved favor. So there is no place for us to be asking God to withhold mercy and grace from certain people.  It’s not our place to direct God’s judgment of others in any way.  Our place is merely to align with any judgments He casts out of respect for Him.  If He says He wants someone to go to Hell, then we get on board with that out of respect for Him.  If He says He wants someone else to go to Heaven, then we accept that as well.  We always take the subordinate position to God–He leads, we follow.  This is the only proper response for created beings.

Praying Down Your Enemies
The Enemies of God
Understanding Jesus: “Away from Me, I never knew you!”

132. Considering most Christians believe the Bible is infallible, is it actually possible to please God while holding onto such a belief considering His attitude towards idolatry? Obviously if God is informing an individual soul about the Bible being imperfect that’s one thing but are there some souls who He just doesn’t bother with trying to correct their views on the Bible not because those souls are rebellious, but because He just simply doesn’t feel it’s important for their spiritual growth? I guess I’m asking because I want my loved ones who are saved to have a good relationship with God too, but the majority of them believe the Bible to be infallible as well. I know ultimately what goes on between God and other souls is none of my business at the end of the day but I still can’t help but worry about them.

Many well-meaning Christians view the Bible as an extension of God Himself, thus they revere the book out of a desire to please Him.  Is God going to accuse such souls of spiritual rebellion?  Certainly not.  On the contrary, He will be quite pleased with their sincere desire to please Him.

It’s education that changes things.  Once God starts revealing to you that you are too dependent on the book, and that you’re confusing it with Him, then just going on the way you were is a problem, for now you’re blowing off the convictions God is giving you.

Now as is often the case with sincere Christians, what you’re worried about isn’t something you need to worry about.  You’re essentially stressing over how graciously God is going to treat the humans you personally care about.  In your mind, you’re focusing on two grim possibilities:

  1. God condemns your loved ones for not doing what He wanted in a certain area even though He never educated them about His preferences.
  2. Your loved ones sincerely care about pleasing God now, but you’re certain that they’d refuse to listen to Him if He ever tried to correct their view of the Bible, thus God will get furious and end up condemning them.

The first situation will never happen, because God is very gracious and never condemns souls for being unable to read His God-mind and accurately anticipate His will in every area.  When God wants something specific from your loved ones, He will certainly make that clear to them, and He will also give them the resources they need to please Him.

The second situation is based on a misunderstanding of what it means to really want to please God.  If you really want to please God, then you are going to be quite responsive to Him asking you to change something, regardless of what that something is.  It might take you time to overcome your astonishment that God’s view of the Bible is so different than your own, but you’re going to get there because you really care about pleasing Him and you won’t be able to settle for Him being discontent with you.  In these cases, sincere souls need assurance that it is in fact God (and not just some nutty Christian website) who wants them to change the way they interact with the Bible.  But once they do reach this point of certainty (and they do), then they are happy to get on board because they want to be in alignment with God.

Now the far more common scenario is that you assume someone you love is way more serious about pleasing God than they actually are.  Either they talk a big story, or you are projecting your own sincerity onto them, or a it’s a combination of the two.  Whatever the case, the limits of their dedication to God suddenly get revealed when He convicts them to make a change and they adamantly refuse to listen.  Unlike sincere Christians who simply need personal confirmation from God that He is the Source of the message they’re hearing, carnal Christians and posers don’t really care about pleasing God.  Their reasons for not being open to changing their view of the Bible or changing their approach to prayer comes down to entirely carnal issues, like not wanting to be ostracized by the Church and their Christian pals.  If you start praying in ways that actually honor God, you aren’t going to fit in with Christian prayer groups.  If you stop being willing to throw God under the bus every time it suits you, you’re going to find it impossible to enjoy Christian Bible studies and home groups where God is being constantly misrepresented and disrespected.  Many people consider the Church to be their lifeline–their source of friends, affirmation and material aid.  They aren’t even going to try to ask God to help them get on His page–when He starts making demands on them, they will immediately ditch Him.  This is when you suddenly realize that you thought too highly of the devotion of your loved ones.  And of course if they persist in their rebellion, will they end up in a bad place with God?  Absolutely, but He won’t be the problem–they will.  Here’s where we come to an issue of loyalty: are you going to side with God or your loved ones?  God says that the only way your loved ones will end up in Hell is by intentionally and willfully spurning Him.  Well, doesn’t God have the right to draw boundaries? And given how gracious He is, if He says “enough”, then it’s a safe bet that He has already been far more patient with someone than you would have.  You see, we can’t eavesdrop on the exchanges happening between other souls and God.  If we could, we would be astounded at the level of hatred He is receiving by many who we consider to be “good” Christian people.  So there is definitely an element of trust here that’s needed on your part: you need to trust that God is making very gracious calls, and that He is not going to damn anyone without good cause.

For you, this whole worry needs to be turned into a positive exercise in loyalty and trust.  The next time you find yourself worrying about your loved ones ending up in Hell, ask God to deepen your love for Him so that His pleasure will become far more important to you than the pleasure of your human friends.  When God throws people into Hell, it’s because He wants them to be there, and once it comes to that, we need to be siding with Him and saying, “What You want is what we want.”  Of course we’d much rather our people end up in Heaven.  But God must come first, so we need to be embracing an attitude of, “You’re my First Love.  I hope they make wise choices, but if they are going to turn away from You, I certainly am not.”  This is the kind of attitude that pleases God.  We certainly don’t want to be like the apostle Paul with his horrible attitude of saying that he cared more about the salvation of other humans than he did about his own relationship with Yahweh and Christ (Rom. 9:1-3). As humans, we can’t help caring about what happens to our own kind.  But as Christians, we need to be asking our Creators to help us truly love Them first in life.

The Enemies of God
Choosing the Right Priorities: How does God want us to treat our brothers?

131. You were recently asked about when the end times will kick off and you responded not to think in terms of decades and that it’s coming quicker than that. While I won’t ask for a specific date, my personal guess for awhile now has been between 5-10 years when it will start, is that about right?

No.  Your estimation is too far out.  It’s going to happen much sooner than that.

If I am correct with that timing, then God has given me more of a heads up than I ever thought He would.

The same is true for all of us.  It is extremely generous of God to give us so much up front help with what is coming.  It will really help us all stay focused on the right priorities and spend less time in panic.

Also before the end times begin, will God have His prophet publicly warn people beforehand or will it happen suddenly with no real “warning” so to speak (obviously God has been warning us for quite some time but most refuse to listen).

The first major public miracle that God will perform will cause a major US city to be severely hindered for 3 days.  That first miracle will come as a surprise–there will not be a forewarning of the specific day.  However, on the day that it happens, the end time prophet will be on the scene, publicly announcing that the end times (aka the final judgment of the world) has begun.  He/she will also predict that the first sign (the one that messes up the city) will last for three days for the purpose of giving the people of that city time to get right with God before many die.  They will receive plenty of warning of the danger coming to them, and they will be urged to get their spiritual priorities right.

The benefits for you will be as follows:

  • Even though no one will see this moment coming, plenty of cameras will be rolling, thanks to so many Americans being armed with cell phones. This means you will get to see plenty of footage of the end time prophet delivering his message (as well as scenes of the miracle).  This will be to your advantage–instead of having to rely on twisted news accounts (of which there will be many), you’ll get to see the footage yourself and ask God for discernment.
  • Within three days, the unidentified prophet will become identified.  This will be to your further advantage and assist you with discernment.  If you actually live in the city where this occurs, then you’ll have the added advantage of seeing God’s miraculous power directly in your face and it will indeed be awe inspiring.
  • The miracle itself will have the feel of one of those famous ten plagues in Egypt.  It will not in any way be caused by humans or human techniques. It will be impossible for humans to duplicate, reverse, or explain, thus making it a clearly supernatural event.  Naturally city and government officials will be scrambling for answers, yet everyone will be mystified and stuck with enduring the distressing situation for three days.
  • In three days time, God will reverse the miracle and the city will be able to start returning to normal function.  But just as everyone is breathing a sigh of relief (and doing the usual amount of mocking), the end time prophet will suddenly return to that city as promised and more destructive miracles will occur.  The city won’t be destroyed–but it will sustain severe damage, and that will only be the beginning.

130. Clouds

We’re not saying that you didn’t hear God regarding this violent image stuff, nor are we saying that you’re not responding to Him correctly.  You’re definitely taking the right approach by keeping a wide open mind on the subject. But for the sake of knowing God better (not for the sake of criticizing you), here is some food for thought:

The actual question He proposed to you was absurd.  It’s not unusual for God to do this sort of thing, but it’s helpful to recognize when He is.  What He basically said was, “If I wanted you to do X, wouldn’t I prepare you in a way that seemed totally logical and thorough in your human mind?”  The real answer to this question is: “Actually, no, You probably wouldn’t.”

You see, God loves showing off and He loves shining the spotlight on Himself.  When does God get the most glory: when some professional athlete with incredible skills hits a home run or when some scrawny klutz with a long history of striking out suddenly hits it out of the park?  Logical, thorough preparation is what God is famous for not giving the people He’s planning to use.  Take Joshua: his army was no match for the armies in the Promised Land, and Yahweh wanted it this way.  Joshua was not at all equipped to take down the fortified city of Jericho, because that would have required sieging, and while he was busy cutting off supply lines and waiting for everyone to starve inside the city walls, there would be plenty of time for his army to get surrounded by many other armies and thoroughly spanked.  Joshua’s whole military campaign was one miraculous victory after another because Yahweh intentionally kept the Israelite army behind in technology.

Was Moses the right choice for a bold public speaker?  No, he was a nervous, unconfident protester.  Was Gideon the right choice to launch a major military strike?  Not at all.  And just to make matters worse, Yahweh intentionally sent most of Gideon’s army home just before the strike.  The Bible is filled with examples of God not preparing people in logical, thorough ways.  It is very common for Him to lead people through strange paces without telling them what He’s planning.

Again, don’t take this as criticism because it’s not. We’re all very influenced by our prior experiences with God in our own lives, and it takes time for us learn to be more open minded.  Because you’ve had an experience of God pulling off a miraculous series of events which seem quite logical to your mind when you look back over that period, you naturally expect Him to continue this pattern.  But consider all of the other ways He hasn’t been logical in your life, with directions that didn’t go anywhere, failed prophecies, etc..  The whole mysterious bundle is classic God, and His illogical behavior is far more common than His logical behavior.  As for timing–He is famous for dragging things out to a point that we humans find utterly nonsensical and maddening.  So it really doesn’t work to rule things out just because God’s not letting you see the whole playbook or because His prep seems to be dragging on too long, or because His prep is missing logical elements.  You have to keep a wide open mind–and you are, so that’s great.  God is very wild and unpredictable and He likes it that way.

Now let’s address some of your other questions:

If God wants this world to have strife and sin, and the Bible clearly states that God wants many people ever hearing but never understanding, etc. wouldn’t that mean that He must be behind all the false religions that abound on earth?

Yes, He’s behind them in the sense that He is totally sovereign and nothing happens in this world that He doesn’t want to happen.  But be careful with context here.  In the Bible, God teaches that He wants all souls to thrive through reverential submission to Him.  He only brings up the concept of cutting people off (ever hearing but never seeing) when He is speaking about souls who have already been given illumination and are choosing to reject it.

The apostle Paul’s suggestion that God makes “objects of wrath”–folks who He doesn’t want to be saved, thus He blocks them from ever finding truth–is complete rot.  It is critical to realize that in cases where no truth is given, souls are taken to Heaven, not Hell.  God defaults to grace, not wrath.  Hell is always an informed choice (in the sense that we are willfully choosing to defy God).

God causes people to be deceived, and He creates and/or allows the situations where deception occurs, so wouldn’t that mean that other religions were possibly started by true encounters with God?

No.  Many religions were started with true encounters with demons (who were often masquerading as “good” angels).  You want to keep a grip on God’s sovereignty without blurring the line between Him and created beings.  Let’s use the analogy of a man who is holding an aggressive dog on a leash.  When the man steps close enough to you for his dog to have enough leash length to leap up and bite you, is the man intentionally setting you up to get hurt?  Yes.  But is the dog the man?  No.  Does the dog accurately reflect the man’s attitude towards you?  No.  Demons hate humans.  Demons have a drastically different character than God.  So when demons are lying to you, they’re always doing so with the motivation of harming you.  But when God lies to you, His motivations vary.  He might be trying to help you, He might be trying to harm you–it depends on your personal history with Him.

A common trap Christians fall into when it comes to false religions is that they assume that everyone is starting off in a state of spiritual innocence (meaning they know nothing about the true Gods) when they are first exposed to those religions.  But this simply isn’t true.  Each soul is on their own journey with God.  Some know from the start that their culture’s religions are false.  Others don’t know, nor do they care.  Many people never really get into any formal religion–instead they pursue spiritual issues privately without discussing those matters with others.

They were real encounters but also purposeful deception as part of His plan to keep everything in conflict on earth for His overall greater purposes?

Again, you’re assuming too much acceptance on the part of humans.  How many Catholics are really into Catholicism?  How many Muslims are serious about Islam?  For many, their religion is just a cultural thing–they don’t really take it seriously, so they’re not being deceived the way you’re assuming.  And while they go through life not really caring about their culture’s religious customs, God is speaking to them on a soul level and they are responding to Him.

That then leads to a question that ties back to the native person who has no exposure to truth. Even if they were fed deception by God, wouldn’t the people who heard that deception still be pleasing God by living out their deceptive understanding, because by doing so they are honoring the level of truth that God has given them?

Not at all.  A false religion is not “truth” so we need to not blur the lines.  Jesus is God Almighty.  Most religions say that He’s not.  Is it “truth” to reject the Divinity of Christ?  No.  Is it “truth” to say some fictitious being is a real god?  No.  God isn’t going to say, “Hey, great job worshiping Allah.”  God is going to say, “How did you respond when I spoke to you?”

It might help to consider what happens in Christian cults.  Cults prey on the desperate, and when people are desperate, they are extra easy to manipulate.  So let’s say Mary gets conned by humans into joining their cult.  Is God controlling that situation?  Yes.  But is God pleased that Mary is blindly accepting everything she’s taught without asking Him?  No, but He doesn’t expect better, either.  He isn’t going to reward or punish Mary’s foolishness because He knows she doesn’t know any better.  But when He starts presenting Mary with truth, then Mary will become accountable, and the game changes.

Truth is absolute.  It has always been true that Jesus is God Almighty.  But because David was never introduced to Jesus, he was not punished for not worshiping Jesus.  David didn’t reject Jesus–he didn’t respond to Him at all because He didn’t know about Him.  David only knew about Yahweh, and he was judged by how he responded to Yahweh specifically, not by how he responded to the gods of the lands around him.

Here’s an important point to understand: when Yahweh is chewing people out for worshiping false gods, it’s not their response to those gods which they’re getting in trouble for–it’s their response to Yahweh.  Solomon knew about Yahweh before he turned away to worship false gods.  Solomon got in trouble not for his love of the false god Molek, but because in loving Molek, he was spurning Yahweh.  But some other fellow who didn’t know Yahweh would not get in trouble for worshiping Molek until Yahweh told him to stop.  See how it works?  All judgment is focused on your response to the true Gods.

Now let’s take our jungle native who only knows about false gods.  Until the real Gods start talking to him, he is neither punished nor rewarded for what he’s doing.  He isn’t honoring the real Gods with his behavior, because he doesn’t even know them.  But once They make contact with him, the game changes.  Now his behavior becomes a personal response to the real Gods, and that is what he is judged by.

I am also trying to understand if this dynamic means that some other religions might be a result of deception by God but they could still have their hearts in the right place with God at the same time.

Think of it like this: you can’t have your heart in the right place with someone you don’t even know. So being dedicated to some false religion doesn’t get you any points with God because until you know Him, you aren’t responding well to Him.  You’re not doing anything with Him–He’s a non-factor in your mind.

It is hard to understand, because you could be a lost person worshiping a idol and you could hear the truth of God but you wouldn’t accept it as truth unless God first opens your ears to hear that truth, so are you only held accountable for hearing it if God first opens your ears to hear it and you then choose to ignore it?

Yes.  See Behind the Scenes with God: Human Variation, Lifespans, and the Mechanics of Salvation.

I guess I’m asking these questions, because I am still trying to figure out and organize within my mind the ramifications of a God that wants the world just the way it is, and a God who also lies, deceives, and purposefully misleads sometimes.

For help with understanding why God lies, take your focus off of Him for a moment and focus on humans.  We are such fragile, limited beings that we cannot possibly handle knowing the full truth on any subject.  We need God to lie to us constantly in order to keep us from being totally overwhelmed.  Take your own situation: God is clearly preparing you for something, and you naturally want to know the details.  But if He were to tell you the details right now, you’d be negatively overwhelmed with stress.  Look back on your own life: if you knew ahead of time that He’d run you around in circles with some of those false prophecies He gave you, would that have helped you at the time?  Not at all.  False hope plays a critical factor in getting us through a lot of tough seasons.  It is because God made us so fragile and limited that lying becomes an essential part of His care of us.

First, we can freely acknowledge His existence or we can ignore Him, but at the same time our actual knowledge of God is something He chooses to give us or withhold from us. Second, we can chose to honor or ignore the individual pieces of truth He has given us, but the overall level and complete accuracy of the truth we receive is completely set by God, not us. Am I understanding it wrong?

Drop the first point.  The second point says it all.  We are judged by how we respond to the pieces God reveals to us.  None of us sees the whole thing.

Why aren’t there other versions of the Bible with the exact same core theology, real truths from God, and maybe even some of the same direct quotes from God, but which were filtered through the perspectives of ancient Chinese culture for instance, or the ancient South American cultures of the time? They probably wouldn’t have the New Testament necessarily, because they never would’ve encountered Jesus if they were living in China, but shouldn’t there at least be multiple sources for the Old Testament info on God from all over the world?

Since when does God have to give you any book at all?  He hasn’t always worked through “Bibles.”  Abraham and Noah didn’t have a Bible.  So in your life, you have access to a teaching tool which God has only been using for one season of human history.  God likes variety.  He’s not going to do the Bible routine with every culture or in every age.  And considering what we’ve done with the Bible, it’s really to our benefit that God hasn’t given us more than this to work with.

Also, if so much of the Bible contains foolish and incorrect theology (by the writers of those books like Paul) and yet they still made it into the Bible, what criteria was really behind picking books for the Bible, especially the New Testament?

Why should God give us a perfect book when we’re not even listening to Him?  Many of the books were chosen based on authorship, not accuracy.  Our Church leaders weren’t seeking God, they were just playing status games.  “Hey, Paul was big stuff, so we should keep anything that he wrote.”  How is this God honoring logic?  And if we’re going to be such twerps, why should God bless our efforts?  If we’re going to preserve lies over truth, then we deserve to be led astray by those lies and this is exactly what God has done to us by turning our Bibles into a fabulous tool of Divine discipline.

129. I read your article about constrictive convictions, and this really describes what is happening to me. However, it is getting so extreme that I don’t know whether it’s from God or Satan at this point. It is to the point where I feel conviction about practically everything I do outside of working, eating, and sleeping. It is like God won’t let me read ANY book, watch ANY movie, go to ANY church, engage in ANY of my usual hobbies, etc. It would seem rational if He wanted to have one on one time with me, but then when I try to spend time with Him instead of doing those things, He is completely silent. I’m just not sure why He would want me to sit around doing nothing during my free time if He isn’t going to talk to me. Because sitting around doing nothing is literally what I’ve resorted to doing the last few days. I seem to be having some serious discernment problems, if you have any input please help.

In our zeal to please God, it is very easy to fall into a pattern of destructive fear.  This is when our great reverence for God acquires a negative emphasis and we start fearing that if we make one wrong move, He’ll hammer us (see How to Recognize a Destructive Fear of God).  The remedy here is to remember that God responds to our soul attitudes. You clearly want to please God, but you’re also feeling honestly confused because you have to do something with your time, and everything is giving you a negative check.  Since all you’re getting is “stop” signals with no positive redirection, it’s definitely time to consider the possibility of false conviction.

God trains us to recognize false conviction through hands on experience, and every Christian who wants to develop good discernment is going to have to spend a lot of time getting snowed by demons.  Since you know that your soul attitudes are correct, you should choose an activity to do and then do it regardless of the negative nagging check you’re getting.  Demons love to drive sincere Christians into fearful corners by flooding them with false conviction until they feel like every move they make is wrong.  But the real power of this game lies in them getting you to adopt a mindset of legalism in which you believe that God is judging you by your behaviors instead of your soul attitude.  You know that you want to please God.  He knows it to.  So let’s say you want to watch a movie, but you feel a check about it.  Let’s say you watch it anyway.  How will God respond to your actions?  He’s going to respond to your motivations.  Watching a movie with an attitude of, “I don’t care what You want, God–shut up and go away,” is clearly rebellious.  But would this be your attitude?  Of course not.  If you watched the movie, you’d be thinking, “I really want to please You, God, but I’m suspecting that demons are messing with me.  So I’m going to tune them out and trust that if this conviction is really from You, You’ll make it clear to me.”  Is this going to offend God? No, it’s going to please Him, because you’re actually practicing trust.

At this point, you should try doing things again.  You’ve ruled out the possibility that God is tapping you to give Him your full attention because He’s not meeting you in that way, so it’s very reasonable to assume this is demons trying to confuse you.  Often in these cases, the negative convictions stop once you press on anyway.  Meanwhile, it’s a great trust exercise because God is never going to get mad at you for being honestly confused and trying to sort out His Voice.

128. beliefs

In dealing with trauma reversal, it is extremely helpful if you can identify the specific trauma (or series of traumas) that you are trying to reverse.  Trauma recovery is largely a matter of learning to see your trauma differently.  Being traumatized causes us to get psychologically stalled, and we keep reacting to certain situations with the same intensity as we did the initial trauma.  War flashbacks are a good example here.  The soldier who was deeply traumatized by the terror of being surrounded by explosions and carnage flies into a panic attack when he hears fireworks or a car backfiring.  Why such an extreme reaction?  Because once he is exposed to certain environmental cues (loud explosions) that remind him of his initial trauma, he psychologically returns to the battlefield and relives his initial terror.  He is still feeling just as vulnerable and terrified today as he was back then because he has not learned to put his trauma in perspective.  If he was able to think: “I’m no longer on the battlefield.  My situation has changed.  I am not trapped like I was then.  I am not helpless,” then he’d be able to remain a lot calmer.  But instead, his mind hears the explosion and thinks: “I’M IN DANGER!  I’M IN BATTLE!  I’M GOING TO GET HORRIBLY WOUNDED!”  You see, the mind is very rational, and the soldier’s panic attack makes total sense once you understand how his mind is perceiving his situation.

If you understand which specific life events you’re obsessing over, then make a list of the negative beliefs that you gained from those events (often these are thoughts which frequently occur in your mind whenever you are upset).  List it out in two parts like this:

Trauma: When I was a kid, I almost drowned while my sister just stood there watching.
Negative beliefs: I’m always on the verge of death.  I’m never safe.  I can’t trust anyone. 

Trauma: When I was young, my priest molested me.
Negative beliefs: I’m trash.  God is a monster. I’m unloved.  I’m defenseless.  I’m always in danger.  I can’t trust anyone.

You need to first identify what specific negative beliefs are dragging you down so that you can then form a list of specific countering positive beliefs to focus on.  The list of positive beliefs will help you understand what God is going to be focusing on with you in life.

Now there are multiple ways we can help you with this.

Option 1: Send us a list of your specific negative beliefs.  Number them.  We will then give you a list of countering positive truths with corresponding numbers.  (This way we don’t have to publicly post your negative beliefs but we can still specifically address them.)

Option 2: If you understand what traumatized you, but you need help pinpointing your negative beliefs, then tell us what the trauma was. Also send us a list of the top five feelings which you would say best describe your current emotional state in life.  For example: I feel (1) afraid, (2) vulnerable, (3) pressured, (4) inadequate, (5) unwanted.  This list well help us understand how you reacted to your initial trauma, and we can then help you identify the specific negative beliefs that you are dealing with.  There are common ways that people react to certain types of trauma, so if we know what happened, we can help you identify how you probably reacted.

Option 3: You know you’re upset, but you don’t know what specific life events you’re reacting to.  If this is where you’re at, let us know and we’ll describe some analytical exercises you can do to get to the root of your problem.

127. I have been wondering how physically prepared we should be for the end times. Of course, following our Gods is the most crucial process during the end times, but how do we prepare ourselves and such in terms of shelter, food, clothing, money, etc…? I think us serious Christians who want to honor and please our Gods want to do and be our best for Them, so I’m wondering how to also be physically ready while being spiritually focused on Them.

You can’t physically prepare for this period, which is why we don’t talk about it.  The damage won’t be confined to one area, nor will the kind of damage be predictable.  God will move all over the place with His strikes.  What good is it to have a closet full of canned goods if some tornado wipes out your house?  And when God isn’t hitting your area, you’re not going to need to be all stocked up.

Rather than think in terms of hording, it’s better to think in terms of not needing a bunch of stuff to feel safe.  You have God, and He knows how to provide for you.  We need to be ready to walk away from our flattened houses if it comes to that.  We certainly don’t want to let the loss of material things stop our lives because our identity was so married to our stuff.

When God does hit an area, the damage will often be very severe–so much so that any able bodies who can help with rescue efforts will be needed.  There will be a lot of dazed people stumbling around through rubble and bodies.  If you can be the kind stranger who comes along and helps guide them to a safer area, that’s going to be a huge blessing.  A lot of kids are going to get separated from their parents.  A lot of people are going to find themselves suddenly homeless with nowhere to spend the night.  God wants Christians to be ready to share and show kindness.

Because the fear factor will be so high, your greatest asset will be the fact that you’re not freaking out along with everyone else.  People will not understand what is happening, and it won’t take long for the alien theory to become widely accepted.  But as a Christian who is listening to God, you will have real answers that can bring a lot more hope than “We’re being attacked by beings from another world.”

This kind of thing brings out the best and worst in human nature.  If you’re sitting on some huge pile of supplies in the midst of desperate people, it won’t take long at all for them to take your pile away from you.  So hoarding is useless.  We don’t want to be having an attitude of  “How can I take care of me and mine?” Instead, we want to expect God to call on us to help those in stressful situations and help people find real answers to their questions.  See Preparing for the End Times: Serving without Limits.

126. Hello, in the section End Times, apart from the regular articles, there was a small list of what End Times would be like and how the Church would respond. There was mentioned a small town in US where the End Times would start. That information was very concrete, though it stuck in mind. Now I can not find it anymore. Why did you taken away? Something changed?

You’re talking about our End Times Preparation page, on which we used to post a summary of main events.  The purpose of that summary was to demonstrate how different our end time teaching is from the usual Revelation themed teaching so that those looking for the “typical” teaching would realize they’d come to the wrong place.

We never mentioned a small town in the US–the end times will actually start in a major city in the US instead.

We removed the summary of events to simplify the page, and because we want to encourage souls to focus on spiritual preparation, not earthly circumstances.  Discussing circumstances helps us set realistic expectations for what is coming, but the most important issue is understanding how we can please God with our spiritual response to Him during this period.

125. LoveHateLove

Sounds like you’ve had a fabulous breakthrough here. It is always better to be totally honest with God, and when our real issue is that we feel brutally hurt by Him, we often try very hard to avoid facing this.  Why?  Because what can we do about it?  If God is against us, we’re in a hopeless situation.

We sometimes discuss the fact that in the God-human relationship, He has all of the power.  It is this fact which causes such a crisis for us when He starts hurting us in some way.  We are essentially bumping up against our total dependency on Him.  Now dependency is one of those essential soul attitudes, so while your situation feels horrible, you’re actually making some very important advances here.

The face in your mind that you’re seeing is educational: that’s telling you how you expect God to act towards you. He’s not really responding this way–but those images are reflecting what you really believe about His Character.  Basically, you think He’s an indifferent jerk.  And we might throw in a dash of sadism (hence you’re identity with the torture concept).  Now is this kind of revelation a big bummer?  No, it’s fabulous progress.  You see, you’ve been carrying these beliefs about God around for quite some time, but you haven’t been wanting to look at them.  Why not?  Because looking at them makes you feel powerless.  Since God doesn’t need you, why should He even care if you’re crushed?  This is a very valid question for humans to ask, because we live in a world in which love is driven by need.  Trying to relate to a needless Being totally freaks us out once we really start grasping that there is nothing we can do to make God be nice to us.  (And by the way, it is a desperate need to avoid these unsettling truths that keeps those prayer warriors clinging to the belief that there really is power in nagging.  If we at least believe we can control God through repetition or Bible quotations, we can tell ourselves that we’re not as powerless as we really are and avoid facing our total dependency on Him.)

You’re in a stellar place here because you’re breaking through honesty barriers that most Christians won’t touch.  So let’s summarize: the God face in your mind is reflecting your current beliefs about God’s Character back at you (see Learning from the Face of God).  It’s a grim picture, but this is quite understandable after you’ve felt so hurt by Him.

What’s the good news?  You’re current beliefs are wrong.  God is actually a whole lot more compassionate, caring, and loving towards you personally than you think He is right now.  Well, right now that’s just words on a screen–how do you make God’s goodness feel like a solid truth in your heart?  You can’t.  He has to do this for you.  Only He can convince you of the goodness of His Character and of His personal interest in you.  This isn’t something you can just talk yourself into.

So here’s God’s agenda:

  1. He does things to you that cause you to logically conclude He’s a jerk. You’ve got this step down.
  2. He then wants you to face what a jerk you think He is because you’re assessing His Character based on His actions.  This step takes a whole lot of wrestling because you’re afraid to admit how you really feel about God for several valid reasons, including these:
    1. You think it’s disrespectful and you’re afraid of being punished for stepping out of line.
    2. It makes you feel hopeless.
  3. After aggravating the heck out of you until you finally hit your limit, God finally gets you to do Step 2.  This is fabulous.  Now He wants you to have some time to realize how non-existent your confidence in His personal affection for you is.  He also wants you to see that you cannot fix this on your own.  This is the step you’re currently on, and it’s a very important one.
  4. Once you have time to appreciate the gravity of the crisis and really feel your total dependency on God to fix this mess, God will convince you of His personal love for you, His goodness, etc..  This download of good news is going to radically change the way you view His response to you when you are upset. That mocking expression in your mind will change to one of loving compassion, because when the core beliefs change, the mental images will change to reflect the new beliefs.

Once you experience Step 4, are you going to need anyone to tell you that God is good?  Nope.  You’ll know it for yourself in a way that you’ve never known it before.  When the next trial comes along, is your confidence in His goodness going to crumble?  No.  Step 4 is a life changing thing, but it has to follow Steps 1-3.  If God skips over the angry meltdown phase, then you never face how weak your trust in Him is, and you totally miss the significance of Him personally convincing you how good He is.

People can say “God is real” all day, but at some point, He has to be real to you and that means you need Him to make a personal connection with you.  It’s the same with this business of saying “God is love.”  Until He makes His love real to you, that’s just a theory which is very easy to discount when troubles arise.

What makes the difference between wavering faith and rock solid faith?  Being confident in God’s goodness and in your standing with Him regardless of how He’s acting or how your circumstances are going.  You don’t make this kind of epic leap quickly because it requires a totally new approach to reality.  Can sensual beings like us really learn to live by faith?  Yes, but it’s an intense process.  Most Christians never get very far, but you’ve passed a very important landmark here.

124. Trees

It sounds like God is prepping you for the end times, because this will be a period in which there will be a lot of carnage, maiming, etc..  If you are able to remain relatively calm and focused in the midst of these things, you will be well-equipped for helping to dig people out of rubble or pitch in at an emergency shelter.  Graphic injuries will abound in this period, and many people don’t have the stomach for this kind of thing.  God already knows the role He wants you to play, so since He’s emphasizing how to handle gore, perhaps He’s planning to have you work with a lot of injury victims.

So what’s hard about compassion?  Well, it’s a tricky balance.  What’s making it feel easy right now is that you don’t feel personally invested in any of your practice scenarios.  We know that carnage in movies is staged, carnage in the news often feels far away, and carnage in the Bible is just words on a page. It’s when you’re in the moment that you get hit with an unexpected wall of emotion, and this is due to your identity with another human being suddenly kicking in.  Compassion is driven by personal identity, and as long as you can find ways to remain emotionally detached from victims, you can be quite the emotional iceberg.  But when someone is crying in front of you and that eye contact happens and you find yourself thinking about how you would feel if you were in their place, everything changes.  Cancer is just a generic term when it’s tossed about in the news or marketed in stores.  But it suddenly becomes a very personal and grievous thing when you’re the doctor who has to tell your patient the bad news in a treatment room, or when it’s your own loved one who is suffering in front of you.  In such moments, does God want us to strive to be robotic and cold?  No.  God wants us to treat others as we’d want to be treated without dropping our loyalty to Him.  So if you are the guy who just had your leg amputated in an emergency surgery, how would you want someone to treat you?  Would you want them to just walk by with a “whatever–not my problem” attitude?  No.  No one wants to feel objectified by being treated like a mere statistic.  For the person going through the trial, the pain is very personal and distressing.  When you’re suffering, you don’t want some trite, “This is God’s plan for your life so suck it up.”  But at the same time, God doesn’t want you acting like His will is a horrible thing.  So the goal is to empathize with the human while retaining trust in God’s goodness.

For more about compassion, see Compassion Training: Focusing on Principles Instead of Particulars

123. There are quite a few posts about the end times lately… They’re fast approaching, aren’t they? What do you think we’re talking here, ten, 20, 30 or maybe 40? I’m getting up there and don’t have a lot to fall back on except depending on our Gods.

Don’t think in terms of decades–it’s coming much faster than that.  God won’t be giving a specific start date because that just leads to ridiculous degrees of hype and everyone starts obsessing over a date on the calendar instead of focusing on spiritual principles. The principles are what’s important, and based on your other comments, it sounds like you are totally on track with the right soul attitudes.  He’s talking about it more because He wants these concepts to be fresh in people’s minds when He starts–it will help them anchor in truth more quickly.

I always thought that all this knowledge (specifically the end times) could reach more people, in different languages, etc… but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  It could be that our Gods may be working through others and we’re just not aware of them.

We actually have a global audience, most of whom don’t speak English as their first language.  We never pay to promote ourselves in any way–in fact we do a lot of things that are considered “wrong” in the marketing world (like not allowing our readers to post feedback).  Yet God has spread this material out as far as He wants it to go, and it has been quite fascinating to watch Him override the ways internet search engines work so that our material frequently comes up at the top of searches when it totally shouldn’t (given that a ton of other sites are paying a ton of money to be in those slots and we’re not spending a dime).  We say all this for the purpose of demonstrating that God is quite unstoppable and He does not need human help to accomplish His will.  So don’t worry: those who He wants to be forewarned will be because He’s on the job.

122. G&Y LOVE36

Let’s run through each of the issues you raised.

Your BF: Yes, he should break up with you.  Even better, you should break up with him.  Why?  Because you are not at a point in life when you are able to be faithful to a man.  For human relationships to be healthy and not abusive, they need to have a correct balance of power (see The Element of Power in Human Relationships).  In romantic relationships, the power should be equally divided between both partners.  If your BF lets you cheat on him without consequences, he is giving you too much power in the relationship.  This will result in you emotionally abusing him (by continually crushing his heart), and in abusing him, you will hurt yourself as well.  Staying in a relationship with an imbalance of power is a very bad idea–it will only result in misery for you and your BF.  Real love cares about what is best for the other person–it doesn’t just use and abuse until people are ground into the dirt.  Now if your BF had good boundaries, he would have broken up with you when you cheated the first time.  The fact that he is still hanging on indicates that he has unresolved wounds of his own which are motivating him to be a doormat in this area.  If you really care about him, you need to stop walking on him and let him go so that he will be motivated to at least try to find a woman who will treat him better.

Your specific action: For the sake of confidentially, let’s call the specific thing you did which prompted you to contact us “X”.  To learn from an experience like this, you need to realize that there were much bigger issues that motivated you to think X was a good idea in the moment.  This wasn’t just about a surge of adrenaline.  Your behavior both with X and with your BF suggests you have been very wounded by important male figures in your life.  Often our dysfunctional behavior as adults is an unconscious attempt to go back and change the past.  Read The Mindset of Trauma Reversal: Pursuing the Unattainable.

Your addiction: Because embracing our dependency on God for all things is critical to us growing closer to Him, addictions can be fabulous tools for spiritual growth.  God knows you want to be healed, but since He’s saying “no” right now, you need to start treating this addiction as an opportunity for growth.  For help with this, see God’s View of Addicts.

Repentance: Stop asking God to forgive you.  Every time you ask, you’re telling yourself that He hasn’t forgiven you, and this only increases your fears and insecurities.  God responds to us by our soul’s response to Him.  Do you want to please Him?  Yes.  Is God mad at souls who want to please Him?  No.  Does God struggle to love you because you’re an addict?  Not at all.  Does He struggle to get past the fact that you did X?  Not at all.  This is God we’re talking about, not some judgmental human who has no understanding of you as a person. God knows you inside and out.  He understands what drives your behavior, and He knows about all of your insecurities and fears.  God is gracious, compassionate, and extremely easy to succeed with, so you need to start talking to Him as if He is for you and not just waiting to hammer you.  Read these posts: Repentance Q&A, What it Means to be Aligned with God.

The Bible: Yes, Satan does talk to people using the Bible.  The Bible is a great tool for dragging people down into the muck of despair because it’s so easy to twist it’s meaning.  We have a lot of articles that address common false messages that people associate with the Bible.  For help with these, see Overcoming Your Fear of the Bible. Rather than just dive in on your own, we suggest that you read some of our material on various Bible passages–either lessons from our Know Your Bible Series or individual posts which you can find grouped by book on our category sidebar.  We recommend that you try our material first because we will steer you around common misunderstandings and help you properly interpret sections where God is expressing anger.  When you get more secure in your own walk with Him, you’ll be able to properly interpret these sections yourself.  But when you have a history of feeling beat down with the Bible, then more education will help and our posts will teach you how to read with discernment.  Remember that you can always ask us for help if you come across a specific passage that upsets you.  Anytime you read something that makes you feel hopeless in your own walk with God, you need to realize that you are misunderstanding what’s being said.

Unpardonable Sin: You did not commit an unpardonable sin.  There are no unpardonable sins.  For help with this, see Understanding Unpardonable Sins: Lies vs. Truth.

Reading through these posts should help you feel better. Also read: Understanding the Love of God: The Five Versions of You.

120. If God loves diversity re: gender, and if God knows that some people are born gay, why do you mention gay people and child molesters in the same sentence?

The reason we mention gays, molesters, pedophiles and murderers so often is because these groups tend to receive extra condemnation from the Christian community.  It is false beliefs about God which keep us burdened with guilt and feeling unwanted by Him.  On this site, we intentionally make an effort to reach out to those who are commonly shunned by their societies (see Why We Help the People You Hate).

I think it’s fairly clear that one is worse.

You’re quite wrong about this.  The labels gay and molester are only labels, not statements of value.  To assess the value of any human based on a quality of their earthsuit is totally wrong.  God says that all humans should be viewed as precious.  The fact of being gay does not in any way reduce someone’s value in the eyes of God, so a gay man is not “worse” than a straight man.

Calling someone gay is like calling someone white or male–it’s an earthsuit attribute.  Attributes are different than actions.  Someone can be gay without acting on those desires (although often gays are stereotyped as being sexually promiscuous).

The term pedophile is like the term gay–its an attribute.  It’s a statement about sexual orientation.  Not all pedophiles molest, just as not all angry people murder.  So when we talk about molesters, we’re talking about those who have done certain actions.

Someone’s external actions have nothing to do with their value in God’s eyes, so a molester is not “worse” than a non-molester.

You find our statements offensive because you are assuming that we are casting a judgment by listing gays and molesters in the same sentence.  But this is not at all what we are doing.  We are intentionally using specific labels to help souls who identify with those labels realize that what we are saying applies to them as well.

When you are taught by other humans that God hates you because of some attribute you have or some action that you have committed, you tend to write off any messages about His grace and love as being meant for “those other, better people, but not for me.”  We use labels to help certain souls realize that teaching about God’s mercy and grace does apply to them as well as others.  For example, in the post The Great Gift of Sin, we say:

The molester, the murderer, the abuser, and the pervert have just as much of a chance to succeed with God as everyone else.

Souls who identify with these labels often do not feel like they have any chance of succeeding with God.  By specifically mentioning them, we are emphasizing that yes, they do.

I understand that in the Bible homosexuality is condemned….but child molestation IS NOT. How do you reconcile this?

There’s nothing to reconcile.  You’re assuming that the Bible is a comprehensive list of all sins.  It certainly is not.  The Bible doesn’t provide comprehensive education about any topic–it is merely introductory.

It is God who teaches you what sin is.  Once He tells you not to do something, then you disobeying Him becomes a sin.  Text messaging is not mentioned in the Bible, but God might specifically tell you not to text message someone a specific message.  Does the fact that a specific type of action isn’t mentioned in the Bible make it okay for you to blow God off?  Of course not.

We need to be looking to God for an understanding of sin. If we just look to the Bible (as many do) we will end up doing what you’re doing: ranking certain behaviors and qualities as worse than others.  This is not how God ranks sins.

If two consenting adults have sex, how is that the equivalent to someone molesting a child? I’m fairly sure God doesn’t view these two “sins” equally.

Here is where you need to get a better understanding of how God ranks sins.  In the scenario you present: molesting a kid versus two gays having sex, you do not have enough information to determine which of these sins God would consider worse.  It could be that one gay partner ends up being viewed as less rebellious than the other gay and the molester.  It could be that both gay partners end up judged as worse than the molester, or it could be that the molester ends up being judged as the worst sinner in this single comparison.  It has nothing to do with what the souls are doing.  It has everything to do with what is going on between their souls and God.  To understand how this works out, see Understanding Divine Judgment: How God Ranks Sin.

As for us, we see all humans as precious to God, regardless of what kind of impulses they have or what kinds of activities they are currently up to.  We’re glad that you asked when you were assuming we were trying to rank gays and molesters so that we could clarify this issue for you.

119. I believe God is putting me through a trust trial, and I really want to be able to learn what He wants me to learn during this trial, and be able to trust Him, but I just don’t think I have the resources to be able to do what your material says…

If someone came up to you and attacked you on the street, would you go up to them afterwards and ask them to help you trust them? The answer I think would be no for most people. This is how it can feel when I try to ask God this. I try to say the words “please help me trust You”, but there is no honesty behind the words when I say them. In order to ask Him to help me trust Him, I feel like I must first believe His Character is at least somewhat good. After all, most people wouldn’t go up to their father who abused them throughout their childhood and say “please help me trust You”. You would set boundaries there (but of course you can’t set up boundaries with God). So I guess I feel like I’ve hit a point I don’t know how to get past. If you have any tips, please help me.

We’ve shortened your question to make the bottom line clear, and you state it very well.  Weak trust does not trust.  Weak trust does not feel at all confident in God’s goodness for the reasons you’ve stated: a lack of positive history, a history of abuse, and piles of evidence which seem to indicate God is an Ogre.

Now realize that all metaphors are limited.  We use the metaphor of a mother holding her kid down for a shot in order to help you understand God’s positive motivations for sticking it to you in life.  Many children feel quite betrayed in such a moment, and they do not at all trust in their mother’s good intentions.  Young children do not have the maturity to think of the big picture: instead, they live in the now, thus they are quick to fly into fear and panic and assume the worst about everyone. The point of the metaphor is to demonstrate how God can look like a total jerk while He is really in the process of helping us.

When God does things to us which we feel are unreasonable and cruel, we logically conclude that He is cruel in Character. You can’t just talk your way out of this kind of logic.  When God does things to you which deeply cripple or warp you, there’s no way that you’re going to be able to say, “Oh, but I believe He’s good.”  You don’t believe He’s good.  You might think He’s nice to other people, but from where you’re sitting, He seems quite monstrous.

For you, the answer is to set more reasonable expectations. At your stage in development, it is totally unrealistic for you to think you can conjure up some cheery view of God’s Character.  God gave you a logical mind which is simply not going to accept that a God who can do all things couldn’t work things out better than this.  Fine.  God is not asking you to give Him what you don’t have. As we often say, merely wanting to please God is the same as pleasing Him, and you are already there.

What’s really good is how you’re noticing where the limits of your honesty are.  Being fake gets us nowhere, so for you the honest prayer would be something like this:

“God, I don’t trust You.  I can’t see the justification for the things You’ve done to me.  I feel hurt and abused by You and I don’t see how I’ll ever feel differently.”

This is where you’re at with trust, and this is a totally reasonable place to be for someone in your situation.  So what do you do now?  Well, there are four essential soul attitudes, and when we hit a wall on one of them, we can be helped by turning our focus onto the others.  You’ve come as far as you can with trust right now.  You simply don’t have the resources to go further than this until God steps up with some new inspiration.  So now it would be beneficial to turn your focus on the attitude of dependency instead.  Here’s when you say:

“God, I can do nothing apart form You.  I can’t just pull trust out of the air.  I can’t make myself believe that You are good when I feel so strongly that You’re not.  So if You want me to have trust in You, You’ll have to provide it.”

Now we know all of this is very frustrating and depressing, but you really are making fabulous progress.  Souls in your position are flying down the road of spiritual maturity–we can see it from out here, but you can’t because you’re stuck in the middle of it.  The irony is that the anchors which are currently making you feel so abandoned and rejected by God are the very things which are going to take you so much closer to Him than the vast majority of other Christians.  So few people really end up experiencing rich soul communion with God due to a lack of submission.  But you’ve got the submission down, and God has equipped you with some very expedient, core changing trials.  So while you feel miserable in the day to day, you really are gaining fabulous ground spiritually, and there will be a time when the feelings become far more positive.

Explaining this kind of trust training requires more space than we have here, so we’ve written a post to explain why God is taking this approach with you and how it works.  See Understanding Trust Development: Learning to Feel Safe with a Monstrous God.

118. Forgive me for eavesdropping, but I was looking at the Q&A section and stumbled upon #107 regarding lucid dreaming. I admit I don’t have proper context so I could be totally wrong, but I believe the person may be referring to daydreaming/ fantasizing specifically. I have a similar issue as do most of my millennial friends. One could blame movies/video games/ books, our ADD society, or the times that we live in, but escapism seems to be the drug of choice among my peers. I’m aware of the psychological and social ramifications, but my question is: what is God’s take on it and why? It’s clearly a coping device for deeper issues, but how can God help us wake up from it, or at least redirect the dreams in a way that honors & includes Him? This would be a good post as so many people suffer from it. Again, I don’t mean to pry.

You’re not prying. We post questions publicly because many souls are wondering the same things and they find it very helpful/validating to learn that others have the same concerns. We welcome questions about questions.

Lucid dreaming is a very specific term which refers to something other than general daydreaming.  When people use specific terminology in their questions, we will assume it is on purpose and answer them accordingly.  We often post the definitions of such terms so that the question writer can clarify if they meant something else.

The kind of fantasizing you’re talking about is a psychological form of escapism which is fear driven.  For steps on how to recover from this, see Facing Your Fear of Reality: Recovering from Extreme Psychological Escapism.

116. My husband and I are experiencing the Mandela Effect. We are permanently surrendered…what is going on??

The Mandela Effect comes down to realizing that a fact which you believed to be true is no longer true.  It gets its name from the popular example of people thinking Nelson Mandela died in prison when in reality he was released and did not die until years later.

Given how limited the understanding of humans is and how inaccurately humans relay facts, discovering flaws in your beliefs and perceptions of the world is an unavoidable part of life.  Every Christian comes to God with many wrong beliefs about who He is and how He operates. It’s impossible to mature in the faith without your beliefs undergoing extensive revision–this is why it is so important to remain receptive to anything God wants to teach you instead of deciding that you have nothing left to learn.

All of that said, we can’t help you further unless you provide more information about the specific beliefs which are now being questioned and why you find this so upsetting.

114. I have been struggling with why God would allow demons to attack me causing me to doubt if I was saved. I get that God wants people to get away from wanting sensual feedback, but for me at that point, it wasn’t about wanting a sign. I wasn’t trying to control God. I was truly unsure if I was really saved because of my sin and mistakes. I didn’t know that Christians grow into holiness or Christlike behavior. I wasn’t purposely sinning to be rebellious, it was just I found myself committing sin or not doing what I knew I was supposed to, if that makes sense. I get that God doesn’t respond how we want him to, but how is it fair to allow this satanic attack to happen to someone who didn’t know?  Accepting Christ was something I did in private, so I didn’t have people around me who knew and could give me advice.

I feel angry with God for allowing the devil to attack me. I think the devil has been attacking me in other areas in my life or it may be just my own thoughts. I’m trying to figure out what is God’s purpose for allowing it. This has challenged my ability to trust in Him. Even at my lowest points of depression, when I beg God to help me, nothing ever changes.

Maybe you see it as trying to control God, but that was not my motive when I was worried about if I was saved. I was genuinely afraid that I was not saved because I didn’t have the marks of a born again person like fruit of the Spirit. I don’t think I have ever been convicted by the Holy Spirit, either. I wanted to be sure and that’s why I kept asking God to save me. I did not know that what I was doing was wrong.

The fact that you’re feeling bothered by God letting demons harass you is actually a good thing.  But first, let’s clear up a few misunderstandings.

I did not know that what I was doing was wrong.

God never blames you for not understanding something that He hasn’t taught you.  Demons and people do.  So is God angry at you for asking Him over and over to save you when He knew you were in an honest state of doubt?  Of course not.  God doesn’t expect you to instantly morph into a spiritual adult.  Many Christians have very rocky starts to their relationships with God, and being plagued with fears that God isn’t saving you is an extremely common issue among the spiritually young.  So you’re not making some huge error here–you’re in the learning process.  When God starts getting irritated is when He is teaching us and we’re refusing to learn.  Many souls who start out in your situation then go on to develop rebellious, unteachable attitudes, and they do try to dominate and control the relationship.  In such cases, God responds with discipline.  But plenty of other souls go through an intense period of doubt, develop faith, and are able to then move forward.  Growth takes time.  The thing to remember here is that when you want to learn and progress, God is not going to be angry with you (see Conviction Q&A).

I was genuinely afraid that I was not saved because I didn’t have the marks of a born again person like fruit of the Spirit.

Most people don’t.  The whole “fruit of the Spirit” package comes from the apostle Paul–a man who insisted that salvation will always result in some radical change of our basic nature. Paul was delusional, but the Church promotes many of his lies as rock solid truths, thus creating a bunch of stress for souls like you.  Does God blame you for not being able to sort out lies from truth at your stage of spiritual development?  Of course not. (For more about the fruit theory, see Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities).

I don’t think I have ever been convicted by the Holy Spirit, either.

Yes, you have.  It is only by the conviction of the Holy Spirit that you 1) recognize sin in yourself, 2) understand who the real Gods are, and 3) desire to get saved.  By now you’ve actually received a ton of conviction from the Holy Spirit–you’re just not recognizing it as conviction.  This is another concept which takes time to understand, but you’ll get there.

Now let’s get down to your main question:

I feel angry with God for allowing the devil to attack me.

Good.  You should feel angry.  This certainly isn’t something you’re going to feel good about.  You have not yet had the time to develop confidence in God’s goodness and in His personal love for you.  Without these things, how can you possibly not be bothered by the idea of Him letting demons attack you?

If you want to get anywhere with God, it is vital that you be honest with Him. The honest truth is that much of what God does really upsets us humans.  When we try to pretend this isn’t true, we just end up lying to ourselves and to Him.

I think the devil has been attacking me in other areas in my life or it may be just my own thoughts.

It’s guaranteed that he has.  Not just the devil (Satan), but a whole bunch of different demons.  New believers are prime targets for demons, because they are so vulnerable to being deceived.  So no, you’re not imagining it.  Instead, you’re actually doing great to start suspecting that demons are involved in other areas of your life–this indicates that you’re making progress in the very important area of spiritual discernment.

Here’s an important point to understand: God is actually the One raising your awareness that demons are messing with you.  Demons are such good impersonators of God that you’d never catch on to them without His help.  So while God is certainly allowing this, He’s also helping you to recognize what He’s doing.  And that leads us to your next question…

I’m trying to figure out what is God’s purpose for allowing it.

Fabulous!  You’re really asking the right questions here.  Many new believers think it is wrong to ever question God’s purposes or criticize His actions.  You’re being very honest and you’re recognizing God’s sovereignty over this situation. In other words, you’re recognizing that He is really the One responsible for this, and you’re directing your anger at Him, which is exactly what He wants.  This is really great progress.  Many Christians refuse to look past the demons to see God’s involvement in their trials.  Always remember that God is the One directing demonic activity and take your frustrations directly to Him.  This will steer you clear of all kinds of pitfalls and greatly speed up your spiritual growth.

This has challenged my ability to trust in Him.

Again–fabulous!  Not only are you correctly identifying Who is responsible for your troubles (God), you’re also identifying the critical soul attitude He is working on with you.  This is stellar progress.  Many souls don’t make these kinds of connections until many years into their relationship with God, so you’re really firing out of the blocks here.

So now let’s talk about trust.  Trust is one of the four critical soul attitudes which we’re always talking about.  Critical soul attitudes are ones which you must develop if you’re going to have any hope of forming a strong relationship with God.  Just as you can’t develop a human friendship unless you’re willing to talk, share, and listen, you can’t get anywhere with your Creators without developing reverence, submission, trust, and dependency.

Now in your relationship with God, your trust is focused on a very specific thing: His goodness.  God judges us by our motivations, not our external actions.  Then He says that we should do the same with Him.  But how do we do this?  God can see into our souls, so He knows our motivations better than we do.  But we can’t see into God, and that means we need Him to tell us what His true motivations are.  God says that He creates trials in your life in order to draw you closer to Himself by giving you opportunities to mature.  God says that since His motivation for letting demons harass you is to help you, His actions are good.  Of course to you, His actions seem mean and shady.  Just as a young child feels betrayed when his mother holds him down to receive a painful shot from a doctor, we humans quickly feel hurt and betrayed when we see God inflicting misery on us.  And yet God says that He loves us dearly and that He is far wiser than we are.  He says that we need to trust that His motivations towards us are positive.  

Now let’s talk about your specific situation. You ask God to save you, and He lets demons bombard you with a bunch of fearful reasons why God is rejecting you.  You don’t have enough fruits.  You didn’t “feel” any great change come over you.  You can’t shake the nagging feeling that something’s wrong.  What effect do these kinds of attacks have on you?  Well, they motivate you to want to learn more about God’s salvation requirements.  Because you’re stressed, you start asking a lot of questions that you wouldn’t otherwise ask–questions like, “How can I know that God is pleased with me?  How can I tell the difference between God’s Voice and demons?  Why don’t I see a bunch of fruits in my life?  Do fruits even matter?”

Let’s use an analogy to understand how God uses demons to help you.  Suppose someone invited you to sign up for an expensive course in which you’d learn how to fix cars.  The problem is that you simply aren’t interested.  If your car breaks down, you can take it to a mechanic, so why would you want to spend hours of your life listening to some boring lecture about how the parts of an engine work?  Because you feel no need to know how to fix your own car in your personal life, you are unwilling to apply yourself to learn about car mechanics.

But then suppose an opportunity comes up for you to go spend three years in a remote place working with a team of folks who you really like on some project that really interests you.  This place is so remote that your team will have to be very self-sufficient. You’ll be able to bring two vehicles with you, but there will be no one available to fix them if they break down.  Now suddenly you become very interested in learning about basic car repairs.  Every person on the team has some important skill that they’re contributing, and if you can bring some mechanical skills to the group, you’ll be a hero.  So you sign up for the course that you passed on before only now instead of falling asleep in boredom, you are fascinated by everything you’re learning.  Stuff that went over your head before is now making sense because you are personally invested.  This is how it works with humans: our personal investment in a topic greatly affects our willingness to learn.

When God allows demons to harass you in life, you suddenly become motivated to learn things that you didn’t care about before.  You start asking questions that you never thought of, and you start thinking about things that you never considered to be important.  Questions are a vital part of spiritual growth, and God uses trials to help us question every aspect of our relationship with Him.

Now could God be making your whole situation easier?  Sure.  But if He blocked demons from bothering you and removed all doubts of your salvation, what would happen?  Would you continue to pursue a relationship with Him?  No.  You’d figure, “Hey, I’m all set.  That was easy.”  And then you’d go on living life for yourself.  You see, we humans are selfish and we don’t naturally care about what God wants.  We have to learn to care, and for that we need Him to motivate us to care.  We all start off thinking that our opinions are the only ones that matter, and we’re just not motivated to pursue a Being who we can’t even see.  As our Creator, God understands how we think and He knows the most effective way to motivate us to become receptive to the things He wants to teach us.  He doesn’t plague us with problems just to make us miserable.  Instead, He uses trials to turn our attention onto spiritual matters.

So what’s the best way for you to respond to your current problems?  Ask God to help you learn everything He wants to teach you.  We also recommend you that you learn more about demons by browsing through the articles in our Spiritual Realm category as well as in the category Spiritual Discernment –> God vs. Demons.  Gaining an accurate understanding of demons will help you get better at discernment and our articles will teach you how to respond to their harassment in a way that will help you keep progressing with God (instead of getting sidetracked with an obsession with angelic beings).

111. Last week, I read an article on your site, titled ‘Is God Punishing Me?’. I saved it to print out later, but unfortunately the content is now gone. Would you please fix the link again?

This article has been permanently deleted.  It gave a very brief summary of a concept which we have now covered more thoroughly in the post Help for Stressing Christians: Is God punishing you?

On this site, you’ll find many of our articles are rather lengthy and we will often replace short articles with longer ones as new material becomes available.  Why go long?  Because we’re discussing the most serious topic that there is: your personal walk with God.  We want to give people thorough explanations of subjects, not quick tidbits that leave them with many unanswered questions.  The goal of this site is to provide in depth education, not entertaining devotionals.  So we are constantly expanding on topics, and we go over many aspects of the same subject in order to help souls get a strong grasp of essential truths.

Spiritual discernment is a massive subject, and accurately discerning God’s view of you is a most serious issue which requires a detailed explanation.  In the post we referenced above, we provide a lot more details which the post you mentioned did not address.  For other posts that will help you learn how to discern whether or not God is mad at you, see the following:

Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
What it Means to be Aligned with God
Conviction Q&A
Escaping the Trap of Guilt

110. Can you guys do a movie review of The Encounter (2010) with Bruce Marchiano as Jesus? I like some of the points in the movie but it seemed so shallow and the portrayal of Jesus seemed to make our God look like an all loving hippie who has no wrath or anger, just love, love, love.

This movie does not meet our requirements for a comprehensive review, but here are some things to consider:

First, Christians generally try to avoid the reality of God’s wrath as well as His sovereignty.  These underlying theological hangups greatly impact the way that they portray God in Christian films.  You simply aren’t going to find Christians portraying Jesus as the highly complex Being that He is.  Instead, they commonly portray Him as a submissive pleaser who takes a subservient position to demons.  At the end of The Encounter, for example, the Satan character gloats over winning a soul over to his side.  The sentiment is “Score one for demons.”  Well, no, this is utterly absurd.  Souls end up in Hell because our Gods chuck them into it.  Jesus does not stand there with glistening eyes saying, “Oh, rats. If only I had more time to coax you into wanting Me, I could have spent forever loving on you in Heaven.  But as it is, I’m just going to sit here in a depressed stupor because you rejected Me.”  Satan never “steals” souls from God.  Satan and Jesus aren’t locked in some intense wrestling match.  We get such irreverent imagery from God bashing fools like the apostle Paul and the author of Hebrews–men who portrayed both Yahweh and Christ as being overwhelmed by Their own creations.  Thanks to the Church’s lack of reverence, today she continues to exalt Satan as being a formidable foe to our Gods, when in reality he is a pathetic dot of a creature who can’t even sustain his own existence.

When souls die in this world, it’s because our Gods kill them.  In cases of unsaved souls dying, the attitude of Jesus is, “I’m so done with you, you defiant little punk.  Since you can’t see fit to bow to My Authority, you can now spend all of eternity writhing in torment.  What an idiot you were to think that you could actually get away with spurning Me.  What a fine public example you’ll make of what happens to those who dare to spit in My face.”

Our Gods shed no tears when we end up in Hell.  It’s more like They’re quite pleased to make a public example out of us.  Since demons have already been eternally condemned, they are in a very hopeless position.  Contrary to what foolish Christians say, demons do not run Hell.  They do not flit in and out of it, nor do they control its torments.  Jesus rules over both Heaven and Hell, and He has no qualms whatsoever with brutalizing those who refuse to submit to His Authority within the time He gives them.

As is typical for Christian movies, The Encounter implies sadness on Jesus’ part when a soul ends up eternally damned.  Jesus consoles Himself that He managed to win over more souls than He lost.  Well, no, this is utterly absurd.  And while it is implied that the Satan character took the life of the rebellious human, it is our Gods who do all of the killing in this world.

For all of our obsessing over Revelation imagery like 666 and the antichrist, we could use to spend more time thinking about how it was Jesus who was stomping the life out of souls in the metaphorical winepress of Divine wrath.  We find Yahweh stomping humans to death in the OT as well, so there’s no grounds for portraying Jesus as being at all distressed over the idea of “losing” souls.  Jesus never “loses” anyone.  When He decides He doesn’t want someone, He hurls them away from Himself quite intentionally.  But we’ll never bring such truths into our Christian movies, because we don’t want a God who acts like a God.  We want a God who revolves around us instead of One who demands that we revolve around Him.  So good job sensing that something was amiss with The Encounter.  You have to keep your expectations low when you watch Christian movies.  Until we get a whole lot more serious about honoring God, our movies will continue to portray our Gods in a very inaccurate light.

Satan Q&A
Exodus: Gods and Kings (Movie Review)

109. God gives, and God takes. Once He opened the heart of a hiring director to let me into his company. Now He has hardened the hearts of two different managers who together are saying unfavorable things to my immediate supervisor. My question is, is it acceptable to fight to uphold my working reputation, or is that considered taking vengeance and stepping onto God’s turf? This firm markets itself as a Christian one. It may not be relevant, but a month ago I consciously permanently surrendered and that’s when the animosity worsened considerably. Have read the article When God Destroys Your Reputation.

It’s very good that you’re connecting the timing of your surrender with this increase in stress, because once you ask God to make you all that He wants you to be, you should expect Him to start stepping up the growth lessons.  This situation is fraught with learning opportunities.  For starters, this is a fabulous opportunity to contemplate the importance of human approval versus God’s approval.  We all want to be approved of by others, and there’s nothing quick or easy about learning to see God’s approval as far superior to all others.  Sure we can say, “God’s opinion is the only One that counts,” but in reality, plenty of other opinions matter a great deal to us, and when humans we are trying to please side against us, we end up enormously stressed.  The intensity of our stress in being slandered shows us how invested we are in humans 1) accurately judging us and 2) approving of us.

Now whenever people single you out to pick on, they have logical reasons for doing so.  Usually something about you threatens them, and understanding what that is can help you handle the situation.  You’ve mentioned four bosses: a hiring director (HD), 2 managers (MGRs), and your immediate supervisor (IS).  Perhaps the HD is the same as your IS.  Either way, who is the best liked of these leaders?  Who is the most powerful? If your IS outranks the 2 MGRs, then they could be jealous of your IS’s positive view of you.  Are you a better worker than the MGRs?  This is a common reason for corporate jealousy (and it’s not hard to outperform MGRs these days with the work ethic being so slack on all levels).  What is the nature of the gossip?  Are they attacking your performance or your personal character?

Because each soul is in a different place, there is no blanket rule about when you should defend yourself.  If you have a history of being a doormat, God might be using this situation to give you practice in speaking up for yourself.  But when dealing with slander, it’s usually wiser to wait until you are directly approached by your IS, and then present your side of the story in a calm manner.  If your IS has any smarts as a leader, then he (or she) will know better than to just believe nasty rumors.  Whenever someone is badmouthing someone else, they look petty and insecure.  Smart leaders recognize this and do not put much stock in what is being said.  So if your IS is not addressing the negative reports with you, leave it alone.  Often people are far more observant than we give them credit for, and bosses usually have a pretty accurate idea about who the good employees are.

If you are the newest employee of this bunch, realize that those who have worked together longer have a better understanding of the social drama within the company.  For example, if your MGRs are really making up slander about you, it’s highly doubtful this is their first time doing this.  Your IS has a different perspective of your MGRs and of the gossip than you do, so don’t just leap to the conclusion that everyone is against you.  Often in bullying situations, there are the antagonists, the victim, and other parties who seem to be taking a passive role.  To the victim, a passive response always feels like folks are siding with the bullies, but this is often not the case.  Often the real sympathy lies with the victim, the bullies are being viewed as jerks, and the third parties are biding time until they see an effective way of diffusing the situation.  For example, if your MGRs are getting aggressive with you due to their own personal insecurities (eg, they’re feeling out shined by you in some way), then your IS may be refraining from coming down hard on them because he feels this is an issue that will work itself out over time.  Meanwhile, you’re being left to eat it (which is very unpleasant).  But the point is that while you feel abandoned by your IS, he could really be viewing you as the positive person in all of this, and he could be counting on your better character to weather this storm which he knows will pass.  Meanwhile, many insecurity driven aggressors will calm down when they realize that you are not really out to get them.

Returning aggression for aggression often results in escalation.  When God tells us not to seek revenge, He’s not just making up some hard rule, He’s guiding us.  Revenge doesn’t work for humans–it often compounds the problem and ends up warping us personally.

So what’s a good focus for you right now?  Two things: first, recognize that God brought you here for a learning season.  All seasons come to an end, but while He has you here, ask Him to help you learn everything He wants to teach you.  You want to view this job as a means to growing closer to God in your own life.  It’s not about helping a company put out a product on earth–it’s about you making progress in the things that matter. Second, trust that He will show you when it’s time to move on and that He will guide you through the daily conflicts. When He tells you to speak up, speak up.  When He doesn’t want you to, He knows how to make that clear to you.

108. There are certain things posted here that I do not agree with given what I know of the Bible but I have also read on your site that there are portions of the Bible you believe are reliable and others which you feel have been corrupted. What I would like to know therefore is where your assurances of what you teach comes from and how you know that the parts you feel are correct are in fact correct. How do you know that what you are teaching is not based on a part of the Bible which has itself been corrupted? Do you have another source of spiritual illumination against which you subject the Bible to scrutiny?

What you’re essentially asking is if we feel there is a higher authority than the Christian Bible.  Of course we do: God.  And you should as well.  A book did not create the universe and everything in it.  God did.  Clearly God is the One we all need to be looking to for wisdom in life.

Now that being said, the next question is: how well are we listening to God in our personal lives?  You have no idea.  It doesn’t matter if we say we are listening to God–you can’t see into our souls, and you have no way of knowing if we’re lying or not.  So if you want to know the truth, then you need to look to God directly.  Wondering what we’re doing with Him is an avoidance of a more important issue.

Now this may come across as harsh when you’re not used to people talking this way, but realize that it is a gross abuse of trust for Christian leaders to promote themselves as infallible sources of truth.  If we were to say, “We’re perfect prophets.  We’re mouthpieces for God.  Our discernment is flawless so you’d better believe everything we say”–what would we be doing?  We’d be trying to insert ourselves between you and God.  We’d be trying to turn you away from Him by teaching you to depend on us instead.  Christian leaders do this all the time and in doing so, they are getting into big trouble with God.

God does not authorize any human to try and replace Him in the lives of others.  So we’re never going to tell you to trust us, nor will we discuss our personal dynamic with God.  Instead, we’re going to teach you that God is the only Source of truth you can trust.  Maybe this website has some truth in it, maybe it doesn’t.  Only God can tell you, so you need to ask Him.

Recommended: God Told Me: The Only Valid Basis for Faith

107. Do you have any thoughts on lucid dreaming (morality of it/what God thinks)?

God cares about motivation, so whenever you’re trying to determine the morality of something look beyond what the action is and focus on why it is being done.  Lucid dreaming is about trying to control your dreams–to have some mastery over their length and content instead of feeling like a victim of them.  It’s particularly attractive to folks who are plagued with nightmares.  Is it really possible to stop our nightmares using lucid dreaming?  Is it wise to attempt to do so?  It depends on the cause of the nightmares.

Nightmares can be important flags that we are avoiding dealing with traumatic/stressful experiences.  Since lucid dreaming in this context usually involves trying to quickly terminate nightmares, and thus block any processing that the mind is trying to do, it’s not necessarily a smart idea.  Often it’s better to try and identify what stress factors are triggering the nightmares, and deal with those factors in a conscious state.

Nightmares can also be a form of demonic harassment.  When this is the case, you can’t just decide to stop what demons are doing–God has to hold them off for you.

If we’re trying to lucid dream as a form of living in a fantasy world, or as a means of contacting supernatural beings or a spirit realm, then God is definitely not going to be a fan.

Lucid dreaming comes down to a desire to gain more control over your earthsuit (specifically your mind).  Anytime we’re going after greater control, we need to give close scrutiny to our motivations.  Submission and dependency are two soul attitudes which are critical to growing closer to God.  If we’re trying to gain greater control over our minds as a means of trying to feel autonomous and less dependent on God (because we can take care of our own problems without Him by applying “mind over matter” techniques), then we’re going to end up heading down a wrong road.  So it just depends.  Always we need to be involving God in our activities, and if we’re being bothered by dreams, we should be asking Him for wisdom before we just go trying to find our own solutions.

Dreams: An Overview
Interpreting Spiritual Dreams
Pursuing A Better You: Methods & Motivations

106. Is God all for us jumping out of comfort zones in life?

Not always.  There are times when God will prompt us to leave our comfort zones, and other times when He will prompt us to hold back.  God likes variety, and has created a wide range of temperaments.  Some of us are cautious and conservative by nature–others of us are born risk takers.  There is no one “right” way to be, nor is there a blanket rule for how you should behave in all situations.  We need to leave room for God to stretch us, and we need to be willing to try new things and take new risks. But we also need to respect the wisdom of holding boundaries and waiting for God to lead us before we just leap into some situation.  Often your motivations will reveal whether you’re making a wise choice or not.  When you’re leaving your comfort zone because you’re trying to win the approval of critical humans or because you’ve decided that there’s never any wisdom in being cautious, then you’re being too extreme.

Recommended: Practicing Dependency: Appreciating the Wisdom of God

105. In a recent response to me (Question 103) you wrote: “The casting out bit is a classic demon ploy, and one which they will always try whenever God dials down the sensual confirmation. ” I am interested in the operation of this! But a small comment first. Now I think in this, the strongest strategy is for the demon to say that they are ‘god’, and you are suffering under the hand of God. If they do this, they must establish it in some manner.

Actually, no they don’t.  Merely declaring that they are God is enough to convince most souls.  Demons focus their deceptions on fears that we already have, and this makes us very receptive to what they say.  For example, Ben is gay.  He fears that God hates him simply for being gay.  So when a demon who is imitating God’s Voice says to Ben, “You disgust Me,” Ben readily accepts that the message is from God because the demon is simply confirming lies that Ben has already accepted.

Many souls do not bother to look for external signs to confirm who is talking to them.  You do.  Demons know that you do, so when they are trying to deceive you, they will make sure to manufacture some external signs.

In my case, they have done it with 1) Declaration by ‘implication’ and 2) having their accusation (made in the mind) confirmed by outward signs. If it is demons oppressing me, they certainly can do an excellent job of impersonating the authority and power of God with multiple signs, eg you are thinking you have apostatized and a number plate like “NOVENA” or “ROMAN” can appear at the time the thought appears; and they can bring multiple signs together and even coordinate the signs to both timing and geographical position, eg signposts and number plates or billboards coordinating at the same time to create extra authority that this is not just your imagination.

There is a lot of learning you need to do here.  First, trying to look for external signs to determine who is speaking to you is the wrong approach.  What you’re doing here is trying to use earthly circumstances as tools for spiritual discernment.  This is like trying to see what’s in the oven by looking inside of your refrigerator–you’re pairing two things that are not necessarily related to each other.

Here’s the problem with focusing on external signs: it is very easy for demons to create signs.  For starters, you are aggressively looking for signs, and that means you’re going to see signs where no sign exists.  For example, what does the license plate “ROMAN” have to do with God saying you are cast out?  Absolutely nothing.  You are turning this into a sign by projecting a bunch of meaning onto it which it doesn’t have.

Here’s what actually happened to you.  You felt spiritually abandoned by God.  Those feelings caused you to worry that God had actually left you.  This is the first problem: you’re using your feelings to determine your standing with God.  Okay, so now you form this conclusion: “If God feels like He’s gone, He must actually be gone.”  You had already accepted this conclusion before demons came along and whispered “Hey, God left you.”  All demons did here was play on a fear that they knew you already had.

Now once you heard a voice in your head telling you that your worst fears were true: that God really had left you, you were ready to believe it because you had already accepted this as a strong possibility.  Now you begin to aggressively look for some sign that confirms what you have already decided is true.  Here’s where demons really have it easy–all they have to do is help you associate some normal thing with the concept of God leaving you.  They could use anything because you’re already convinced that God has spoken to you.  If you saw an empty car, they could have said: “See?  There’s no one in that car–it’s abandoned.  That’s a sign that God has abandoned you.”  Or they could have pointed to someone walking down the street and said, “See?  That man is all alone, just like you. He’s a sign confirming that God has left you.”  When you focus on signs, you will see signs everywhere.  A “sign” is nothing more than you attaching symbolic meaning to something.  This is why signs don’t work–instead of relying on faith, you are trying to use sensual confirmations, and this will always end up leading you astray.

Now once you understand how easy it is to create a sign for someone who is looking for a sign, you can stop being so impressed by the skills of demons.  They really don’t have to have great power to make you see signs that will confirm any lie they want to tell you.  The fact that you want signs to exist makes you extremely easy to manipulate.

We know however from Pharaoh and his magicians that there is a limit to what demons can do, and at some point, one must declare, “This is the finger of God”. And it is here that I raise your interesting point for you say – “God dials down the sensual confirmation”. If the information is being created by God, and not by the demons, then its authenticity can go way beyond what Pharaoh’s magicians could do (and be essentially unlimited); it can be far above what we would readily expect as any limitation of the demonic realm! Would God give such information to the spiritual realm, aka the demonic, to use?  Wouldn’t that mean He is working for them?

To sort this out, you need to get the power of demons in proper perspective.  From God’s perspective, demons are always His pawns, never His masters. So does God ever work for demons?  Not at all.

Now Christians have a lot of wrong beliefs about demons which cause them to misinterpret how powerful they are.  One major misunderstanding concerns whether or not demons can read our minds.  The common belief is that they cannot, and once you believe this, you wrongly assume that demons can’t hear your prayers or hear your thoughts or be good impersonators of God’s Voice.  But the truth is that demons can read your mind.  Not only can they read your mind, they can accurately assess your soul’s attitude towards God, they can access all of your memories, know all of your secrets, and assess all of your secret desires and fears.  On top of all this, they can expertly manipulate your senses and emotions to create all kinds of illusions.

Suppose we hand you a doll.  As you manipulate the doll’s arms and limbs to make her move in various ways, how powerful do you seem to the doll?  Very powerful, because you can make her body do things that she might not want to do.  But while you’re very good at moving the doll around, are you also able to keep the earth in orbit or hold your own molecules together?  No. Your power is very limited–it just seems great to the doll because of the ways you can personally affect her.

This is how it is with you and demons: because they can so easily manipulate your senses, trick your mind, and use your own fears against you, they seem very powerful from your perspective.  But are they?  No.  They are actually extremely limited beings.

A young boy views his father as being very powerful, but his father is really just a limited human.  The father only seems extra powerful to the boy because the father has skills that the boy doesn’t have.  It’s the same with you and demons: you can’t read other people’s minds–they can.  You can’t see into other people’s hearts or hear other people’s prayers–demons can.  Because demons have access to more knowledge than you, they seem far more powerful than you, but from God’s perspective, demons are total wimps.

To get better educated about demons, you need to do some reading.  Also, your references to ROMAN & NOVENA suggest that you might have a Catholic background.  If that is so, let us know, because that helps us understand your background.  You’ve obviously been taught a lot of superstitious nonsense about demons and signs which you will need to unlearn in order to develop better discernment skills.  Meanwhile, the following posts will be beneficial:

Can demons read our minds?
The Power of Demons In Perspective
Voices in Your Mind: Discerning Between God & Demons
Mind Wars: Defending Against Demonic Voices in Your Head
Satan Q&A
Spiritual Discernment & Warfare: Access & Communication

104. Bob77

To protect your privacy, we’re not going to post your entire question, even though you did not request confidentiality.  But we will post certain comments so that we can address specific concerns.  Let’s deal with the suicide issue first.

Nothing in this world happens without God’s approval and if Bob’s suicide is successful, then what can one can conclude about God’s methods for refining certain souls? The widespread belief is that God never wants a soul to commit suicide. Yes, He will forgive it, but it’s not something that God ever desires for His children, especially those who have given Him everything. Or is it?

God’s will is a complex thing.  As a general rule, does God want us to try to end our own lives and thus control His timetable for us?  No, because God wants us to practice submission, and suicide often comes down to an attempt to force God to submit to us by saying, “I’m done being here, so take me out.”

But God is also an extremely compassionate Being who fully understands how utterly bleak and overwhelming our circumstances can become.  God created us to be fragile beings, and He does not blame us for being frail.  So does God view all suicide attempts the same?  Certainly not.  God judges each suicide attempt within the context of the understanding the soul has and the resources that God is providing.  Many souls try to kill themselves in an honest belief that God hates them.  Some souls view themselves as so much trash and they view their deaths as a relief to the world.  Happily, you do not have such a worthless view of yourself.

In your case, the desire is to call an end to unending torment.  Does God find this an obnoxious idea?  Certainly not, because He understands how slow time crawls when we are in misery, and He understands how futile life feels when we cannot see any hope in our futures.

Now to answer your question, does God ever desire suicide for His kids?  Yes.  There are successful suicide attempts happening every day.  This isn’t a fluke, nor is it a sign that God has lost control of the world.  Suicides work when God wants them to work, and there are many reasons why He wants them to work.  Now we could discuss this issue in depth, which would require delving into the complexities of God’s sovereignty, His many ways of leading our desires, His precise timing, and the variation of our soul choices.  But the more important issue at hand is your personal situation, so let’s focus on that.

Is it quite possible that God will in fact take a surrendered heart and push them over the edge, not because He is cruel but because that is the method by which He wants the soul to leave this body?

This question is viewing God’s motivations as far too simplistic, so let’s focus on your personal situation.  You are a soul who is fully surrendered.  You’ve made stellar spiritual progress in a short number of years, demonstrating that God definitely has you on the fast track. You are also made of very stout stuff.  You are clearly putting your all into trying to pull off a near-perfect performance through this.  By that we mean, you’re trying to never complain or act weak.  Look at your language here:

However, despite the torture that is Bob’s life, he refuses to ask God to take away the pain because he knows that God can’t be manipulated and also he remembers his pact with God and desperately wants to honor it.

Clearly you have decided it is an unacceptable/shameful thing to be honest with God about how much you are suffering.  This is a common struggle for the “steel” temperaments which we talk about in Understanding Refinement: Why God is Brutalizing You.  Your type has exceptional strength and perseverance, but you do not allow weakness to exist in yourself.  It’s okay for other people to cry, and when they cry in front of you, you are the kind who will rush in to rescue and help.  But it’s not okay for you to crumble, because you consider that to be a loathsome flaw.  The problem with this system is that–as you say several times–you’re only human, and no human can get through torture without being deeply traumatized by it.

Consider the strategy behind your suicide plans.  You’ve made never complaining to God’s face a hill to die on, yet now you’re planning to kill yourself.  Isn’t suicide the ultimate form of  asking God to take away the pain?  Of course it is, yet it’s easy to pretend it’s in a different category than verbally griping.  Once you decide that begging God to stop torturing you (which is the natural human response) is some epic form of failure, then you’d rather sneak off in a corner and try to kill yourself than see yourself turn into someone who you do not respect.

Weakness is okay in other people, but not in yourself.  Failing is okay for others, but not for you.  Screaming at God, calling Him nasty names, and demanding that He lighten up is all stuff that other souls might do, but you’re telling yourself that you’re above these things.  The problem is that you’re not above them.  All that rage is in there, eating at you, and no doubt exacerbating your physical/mental issues.  For you, suicide represents two things: not just an escape from misery, but also a way to pass your current test without feeling like you failed.  The worst scenario for you is turning into some sniveling, griping coward, because that is someone you intensely hate.  But here’s a key question: why are you so enormously threatened by being weak and acting as human as you are?

There is immense fear driving your desire to avoid cracking at all costs.  You’d rather kill yourself than act in a way that you consider “betrayal” to the pact you made with God.  In other words, you are not going to let Him carry this relationship.  You’re insisting on also carrying it–and you’re viewing your ongoing faithfulness to Him as the glue that’s keeping this thing together.  For you to actually voice the full extent of your fury at Him would seem like an epic crisis because you’ve decided that your strong performance in the midst of being tortured is essential.

Okay, so if this is what’s going on in the background with you, how is God going to respond?  Well, His goal is to get you into a place where you feel totally free and secure with Him.  That means that this enormous weight of you keeping up a strong performance must be taken off your back.  The only way that your temperament is going to be released of the epic fear of betraying God is to see yourself doing just that.  In other words, you need to crack on the torture table–you need to become the version of you that you hate because you are erroneously assuming that God loathes weakness in you as much as you do.  This is why He is pushing you so hard: it’s about forcing you to come to the end of your strength.  The fact that you’re getting serious about suicide is actually a good sign. You’re seeing the limits of your strength getting uncomfortably close, so you want to escape before you do the “unpardonable sin” of cracking.  In your mind, suicide is a way to make a strong exit–at least it’s better than the alternative of staying alive and breaking your pact.

Now look around at the other areas of your life–especially your relationships and public interactions.  You see a pattern of you killing yourself to try and look invincible, don’t you?  You’re always the strong one.  You consider it some great accomplishment to hide the extent of your anguish from other humans.  Well, the reality is that other humans can be bitterly disappointing, so not letting them know how much you’re suffering can be a way to defend yourself from disappointment.  As long as you play the part of the strong hero/rescuer, you don’t have to ask for help, and that means you don’t run the risk of being rejected.  When we see ourselves going to such great lengths to avoid being vulnerable to others, it’s because we haven’t learned how to deal with rejection in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling devastated.

Now the good news is that God is not a human, and unlike humans, He can actually be counted on.  He’s the One Guy who you don’t have to maintain facades with.  He doesn’t demand more of you than you have, and He doesn’t reject you for who you are.  But it’s no easy deal trying to trust in this kind of thing when you are so used to surviving by hiding how weak and scared you are.  As long as you see yourself maintaining a certain level of poise with God, you’re going to feel reasonably secure in the relationship, but your security will be based on the wrong thing (your ability to perform).  God’s love for you has nothing to do with you being invincible. He cares about your soul’s response, and you’re soul’s desire for Him is not in any diminished by you having a total meltdown about what an Ogre He’s being.

So here’s what we recommend: give serious thought as to what is on your personal list of “unpardonable actions.”  Sure, you know that God technically forgives everything, but you don’t, because you’re making some very unreasonable demands of yourself.  When a guy is being tortured, what is the best way for him to get through it?  Should he scream his lungs out and vent the emotional strain as fast as possible, or should he try to keep all of that intensity jammed inside until his internal organs are too stressed out to function properly?  This business of never asking God to lighten up is unreal.  Inside you desperately want Him to lighten up, but there’s a reason why you’re not saying it to His face.  If God’s goal is to force you to stop trying to hold this relationship together with your loyalty, how is He going to respond to you trying to kill yourself?  He’ll not only botch it–He’ll botch it in a way that compounds your misery even more.  You see, when God’s goal is to break you down, He will win.  The sooner you recognize that this is His goal with you, the sooner you can graduate out of this Hell by giving Him what He wants, which in your case, means letting Him have it with the full force of your anger.  Here’s where you could really use to write out your true feelings about what God is doing to you, using whatever language feels most applicable.  When God wants to drive you into a tantrum in order to prove to you that a tantrum will not destroy what you have with Him, you’re not going to be able to get out of that tantrum by trying to kill yourself.

We’re talking about toppling epic fears in your relationship with God–fears which are preventing you from letting Him fully carry the relationship.  You simply can’t experience the kind of deep soul peace and rest that He wants you to have when you think that you can’t be 100% human with Him.  So He is going to drag the human out of you and topple the strongman who you’re trying so hard to keep intact.  This is about God pushing you to experience His best, and refusing to settle for giving you some compromise.

Yes, you can try the suicide thing.  But the venting exercise is going to be far more productive.  Because God has built so much strength into you, you’ve been hanging on all of this time.  But while it’s great to be strong, God is going to teach you how to properly apply that strength.  Trying to use your strength to stifle your humanity is not a correct application.  There must be permission for you to be utterly weak, cowardly, and bitter.  God has already given you that permission, and now He’s going to insist that you use it.  So try the venting exercise and see yourself expressing the feelings that you have been trying so hard not to express.  You simply can’t drive God away by being weak, but He will not let you keep holding onto the illusion that you’re holding this relationship together with your own strength and unwavering loyalty.  You need to see yourself wavering.  Only then can you start to understand how truly safe and loved you are in your relationship with Him.

103. I read your article Why the Holy Spirit Left You: Guidance for Panicking Christians.  The question is, is this from a ‘word of knowledge’, for a summation of your personal experience. If it is from experience you might be able to comment on my situation.

We write what God tells us to write.  We do not comment on how much of what we write overlaps with our personal experience because it is irrelevant.  We don’t advise people based on our own experience, we advise them based on the direction (if any) that we receive from God.  This is the way Christian leaders should be operating, for if we’re going to advise people on their walks with God, we can hardly do so without consulting Him first.  Every soul is in a different place, and only God knows the difference between what someone says is going on and what is actually going on between them and Him.  So from our perspective, we write what we’re told to write.  But from your perspective, we are strangers to you and you can hardly just take our word for the fact that we’re passing on insights from God.  It’s on you to seek His wisdom directly in life and not just trust what some human says (remember this when you talk to your pastor).

I ask because I am going through an amazing trial. At the moment I have lost all Presence of God, I cannot sleep without sleeping pills; without pills I only get an hour a night; I have tinnitus in my ears and all this came after a spiritual attack. Also I have been given a blaspheming spirit that utters from my mouth . . . True, I sinned before this in that while a committed Christian of many years, I had slipped into a works based righteousness. Such is not an easy thing to see coming upon you . . .

Yes, it is extremely easy to slip into works, and works is about trying to earn God’s favor through good behavior.  Nothing will bust you out of that mindset faster than having God incapacitate you with a lack of sleep and these other issues that you mention.  So right away, you want to recognize the spiritual benefits of Him plaguing you like this.  He has shown you how you were headed in a wrong direction–now He is giving you fabulous assistance in driving you back the other way.

If this is chastisement, it is accepted and praise be the Lord; but the spirit behind it is saying I have been cast out, Romanised if you like . . . So it is I have no evidence that the Spirit is with me at all; all evidences are to the contrary.

The casting out bit is a classic demon ploy, and one which they will always try whenever God dials down the sensual confirmation.   But when you step back and survey the big picture, is God really shoving you away or is He actually drawing you closer by strengthening your trust in Him?  As we say in the post you read, you should interpret this as a trust strengthening exercise which is motivated by God’s desire for you to come closer to Him.

Faith (which is a form of trust) is about learning to build confidence in God’s Character based on raw facts which He has revealed to you about who He is and how He operates (see Faith Development: Basic Mechanics).  God says that He loves you because He chooses to (not because you’re wowing Him with your works).  God says that He is good and faithful and that if you sincerely desire to please Him, He will make sure that happens.  So now is a good time to think back to before everything fell apart and consider how aggressively you have sought God.  Have you ever asked Him to make you all that He wants you to be?  How far have you taken your submission to Him?

What often throws souls off is God’s apparent delayed response to their prayers.  When they first throw themselves wholly into His hands in an act of total submission, He seems unresponsive. But then, a while later, He suddenly throws them onto the fast track of faith development, as He is doing with you now.  The delayed response makes us feel that His actions are unrelated to our initial prayers, and yet they are not.  When we reach the point of seriously wanting to please God, He always responds to that desire.

Often it is a frustration with God’s lack of response which drives sincere souls towards a works based theology.  We’re essentially trying to help Him mature us by striving to better ourselves.  In such cases our core desire is good (wanting to please God), but our approach is wrong.  God throwing on the brakes as He has with you is actually an excellent sign of progress.

You shouldn’t view this as chastisement, because chastisement is reserved for spiritual rebels.  Are you rebellious?  Clearly not when you’re panicking over God ditching you.  The true rebel doesn’t balk at God falling silent–instead, he’s glad to have God get out of his way.  In your case, the distress and searching for advice reveals a strong desire to be in alignment with God, so your soul attitude is clearly not rebellious.

It is because spiritual refinement is such an unpleasant experience that we are so quick to confuse it with punishment.  But in reality, refinement is a precious gift which God does not even offer to those who are refusing to seriously seek Him.  So while it feels like He has thrown up walls between you and Him, the reality is that He’s preparing you to receive far richer communion with Him.  The key is to realize that this is His end goal and be willing to lean into the lessons.

Faith and sight are naturally opposed to each other, and sensuality is a form of sight.  We simply cannot build a strong bond with God by relying on our emotions and senses to interpret His nearness and His attitude towards us.  We must learn to rely on His Character instead, and you are now perfectly positioned to do this.  When God cuts you off from all forms of sensual encouragement, you are forced to feel your total dependency on His Character.  If He throws in some element of blasphemy on your part, all the better, for when you’re cussing God out, it helps you feel all the more unworthy of His love and approval.

The goal of this kind of exercise is to teach you how fully God can be counted on.  It is vital that you be forced into a position where you feel you can do nothing to hold the relationship together or force God to respond to you.  He must be seen as the autonomous, needless Being that He is.  If He is not as good as He claims to be, and if He is not willing to hold this relationship together, then it will surely fall apart.  God has all of the power in your dynamic with Him, and this of course leaves you feeling extremely vulnerable and scared.  Soul fear is a result of limited trust–we crumble into fear when the strength of our doubts surpasses the strength of our trust.  By swamping you in doubt, God not only shows you the limits of your trust, but He also forces you to practice focusing your hopes in His Character alone (and this never feels very successful when we’re new at it).  These kinds of exercises are very intense, frightening experiences in which we generally feel like we’re floundering and failing.  Yet when God does decide to “return” in a sensual way (which He will), you will view the relationship quite differently than you did before.  You will recognize that He is really the One holding it together, and (once you’ve had time to recover from the trauma) you will end up viewing your powerless position as non-threatening, since you will realize how fully He can be counted on.  Deep trust in God’s Character results in great peace of soul.  But obtaining that level of trust requires some intense refinement, and there’s just no way to not panic in the midst of it.

Some cautions on talking with a pastor about this situation:

Most pastors have no clue how to properly advise souls who are going through this kind of thing because they do not understand the mechanics of trust development.  When stumped, they will commonly default to demonizing your situation (you’re possessed or oppressed by evil spirits), or by accusing you of spiritual rebellion (thus God is punishing you).  Their remedies often involve confessing sins, praying more (which feels futile in your situation), repenting of anything you can dredge up, and getting back into regular fellowship (often souls in your position have backed off from attending church).  Realize that none of these solutions will help you.  Don’t go down the road of having some pastor try to anoint you or deliver you or prayerfully intervene for you.  Such things will only distract you from focusing on the goal, which is to learn how to root your trust entirely in God’s good Character instead of relying on sensual feedback to determine your standing with Him.  You’re not here because you took a wrong turn somewhere, and this is not a form of punishment or demonic oppression.  Certainly demons like to add their two cents when God lets them, but this is a refinement exercise which God is directing, and the focus needs to be on trust.

One last caution we’ll offer is in regards to this blaspheming spirit that you say is plaguing you.  Realize that when God is putting you through something that is this excruciating, you will experience intense anger and feelings of betrayal.  These feelings need to be owned and dealt with properly.  So is it really a demon who is doing the cursing or is it your own soul expressing its bitter anguish?  If you feel it’s a demon, then you need to respond like it is a third party attack and reject the message.  But if you’re blaming demons because you’re afraid to admit how angry you personally are with God right now, then you need to learn more about the importance of total honesty in your communication with Him.  Realize that if God knows you are scared to express your anger to Him (because you think He’ll retaliate by severing the relationship), He will intentionally provoke you into doing so (in order to increase your sense of safety and security with Him).  Intimacy requires honesty, so the sooner you learn to get comfortable with expressing a full range of emotions to God, the better. For help with this, see the following:

Angry at God
Cussing God Out: How Our Meltdowns Move Us Forward

For more about how a lack of sensual feedback strengthens faith, see The Purpose of Spiritual Deserts.

102. Why did God give me sexual desires? I struggle often with my perverse wantings and wish I could find a way to deal with it. It really bothers me.

God could have started your life in a heavenly paradise, but instead He started you in this messed up world with your soul stuck in an earthsuit that craves many perverse things.  Why?  To give you time to decide how you are going to respond to Him.  God is particularly interested in 1) how fully you are going to submit to Him and 2) how much of a priority you’re going to make Him in your life.  Trials play a vital role in both of these areas.

Because the sex drive is so powerful, when it goes in perverse directions, we find ourselves in quite the moral dilemma.  Our earthsuits are the part of us that have a sex drive–our souls are not sexual entities.  So while our earthsuits are lusting after something which God says is wrong, how will our souls react?  We can either choose to cheer our earthsuits on or align with God’s moral code by saying, “These cravings are wrong and I want nothing to do with them.”  This is a soul choice, and soul choice is what God judges us by.

When your soul is choosing to honor God with its choices, God is pleased with you.  But while your soul is pleasing God, your earthsuit will continue to crave perversity.  Your earthsuit doesn’t care about pleasing God, thus your earthsuit and soul are frequently in conflict with each other.  Your earthsuit wants to force your soul to comply with its perverse agenda. Your soul wants to force your earthsuit to act in ways that honor God.  Who wins these skirmishes depends entirely on how much empowerment God is giving you.  Sometimes God will give you the ability to tune out perverse thoughts or say no to some form of sexual temptation.  Other times, He will not empower you and your earthsuit will get its way.  Whenever your earthsuit is wallowing in perversity, it will be enjoying itself, but your soul will feel frustrated and repulsed because it wants to honor God.  This kind of conflict will force you to ask all sorts of questions about how God judges you, what He expects of you, how easy He is to please, and what His point is in keeping you so frustrated. Pursuing these questions leads to important insights about who God is and how He relates to you.  So the bottom line is this: God saddles you with sexual struggles in order to motivate you to pursue spiritual matters and wrestle with your priorities in life.  Does it work?  Yes, it is a very effective strategy.

When we struggle, we often think that “victory” means finding a way to stop struggling. But no, this is not how God defines victory.  To Him, the true victory is for you to spiritually benefit from the trials He creates in your life.  So for you, a good place to start is to pray, “God, help me to grow closer to You through these sexual struggles.  Help me learn everything You want to teach me through these trials.”  This attitude is far more productive than, “God, please take this temptation out of my life and give me pure desires.”  God has no intention of making you sinless and free of all perversion.  Perversion is in your life because He put it there for a reason.  So we want to recognize this and decide to be receptive to what God wants to teach us.  We also want to remember that the goal in life is not to have pure thoughts and pure desires–it is to please and know our Maker.

For more help with this, see the following:
The Great Gift of Sin: Why Our Depravity Gives Us Hope
Brain-Soul Mechanics: Why God Doesn’t Expect You to Have Pure Thoughts
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy

For help with specific forms of sexual perversion, see the category Sex Related Issues.

100. If God controls everything, how does it work when we are good at something? Let’s say I’m really good at driving or playing a game, or I’m learning and getting good, how is God involved in this? Do we actually have skill at something, or not?

Yes, we do have skills.  While God says that all humans have equal value, He does not make us clones of each other.  Our skills vary, and when our skills are recognized by others, we are encouraged to take credit for the talents that we have.  Here’s where the problem arises, because we did not give ourselves our own skills.  It is God who gave us all of our abilities, and He can take our abilities away at any time.  Once you identify some  skill in yourself, the proper response is to say, “God, I recognize that You are a purposeful Creator who has a specific agenda for my life.  Help me to use these talents that You have given me in a way that honors You.”

For more about talents, see the following:
Using Our Talents
God & Human Development

99. I listened to a false prophet, caused myself problems because I believed her, now I have to clean up the mess I made by myself, and I feel like God is punishing me, forsaking me, and has absolutely no sympathy at all for me and for those affected. How can I get God to help me clean up this mess I made and to care about us and help us out?

To determine if God is angry with you over this issue, run through the checklist in this post: Help for Stressing Christians: Is God punishing you?

Once you have ruled out the issue of spiritual rebellion on your part, you can rule out the possibility of God punishing you.  It is a given that God cares about you and He is already quite involved in your situation.

As far as cleaning up the mess goes, God wants to use this situation to help you grow closer to Him.  There are actually many important lessons we learn by being deceived, and God sees to it that we all deal with deception at some point.  Without knowing the specifics of your circumstance, we can only give you general advice. Here are some key points to bear in mind:

  • God’s first priority for you is develop your relationship with Him.  He creates trials in your life for this purpose, and false prophets make great tools for creating trials.
  • God draws you closer to Him by 1) presenting you with new truths, and 2) helping you develop right soul attitudes.
  • Being deceived by a false prophet helps us develop the soul attitude of DEPENDENCY.  By being deceived, we realize how easy we are to deceive.  Humans are extremely vulnerable to being manipulated.  We are totally dependent on God to help us discern truth from lies.  Often God uses experiences with false prophets to teach souls to be more diligent about looking to Him for guidance in life (instead of just trusting in a title).  It’s not about spanking you, it’s about increasing your awareness of how much you need God to guide you and protect you.
  • Now depending on what this woman told you, there are likely some theological lessons involved. We can’t help you identify these without knowing more specifics about your situation.

We realize that you’re probably more interested in quickly fixing your circumstances than you are in discussing spiritual lessons.  But realize that God intentionally messes up your circumstances for the purpose of growing you spiritually.  This means that if you want a positive ending to this dilemma, you need to make spiritual growth the priority, not just focus on how you can fix the circumstances.  When we are refusing to be teachable, God will just plague us with more trials, because He cares most about developing the relationship.  The sooner you align your priority system with His, the better off you’ll be.

If you want more help with identifying positive lessons, tell us more details of your situation (what she told you and the kind of mess it has created).

Recommended articles:
How to Tell When God is Speaking to You Through Someone ElseIt’s Personal: Understanding the Divine Perspective of Trials

97. What is the secret place of the Most High? Is it attainable or is it just wishful thinking?

This phrase is used in some translations of Psalm 91.  It is metaphorical language and is not referring to an actual place.  In the psalm, Yahweh is described as a bird who is protecting His young (which would be us humans), and the “secret place” is under His big daddy bird wing.  Because of it’s highly positive language, Psalm 91 is grossly misapplied in the Church today and wrongly promoted as a collection of rock solid promises from God.  To get this psalm in proper perspective, see Psalm 91: Life is Perfect & God Always Does What We Want.

93. Did Adam and Eve really live to be over 900 years old? Or was there a different numbering system used at the time Moses wrote this? Why do people say that the numbering system was different therefore implying that Adam couldn’t have lived to be 900 years old but rather something like 100?

One well supported theory that we’ve come across proposes that the ancient peoples used a calendar that was half as long as our modern ones.  This means that the excessively long ages recorded in Genesis should really be halved.  This would mean that Abraham had Isaac at the age of 50, not the age of 100, and that Adam lived to 465, not to 930.

Realize that time is relative to one’s own culture.  For example, the followers of Judaism and Islam today use a lunar calendar (~354 days), while Americans today use a solar calendar (~365 days).  So before you can properly understand what someone means by the term “year,” you must first understand how that person’s culture defines a year.  The solar calendar we use today was not used by the ancient Hebrews.  They didn’t have the same month names that we use today, so there are definite discrepancies between how they counted time and how we count time today.

Another major factor is weather.  It is commonly assumed that Eden was in a tropical paradise near the equator, which meant it didn’t have four distinct seasons (seasons become more distinct the closer you get to the poles).  When all of your days feel the same, how do you measure a year?  Often the movement of celestial bodies is what’s used, such as noting how long it takes the moon to cycle through all of its phases (~29 days).  But how many full moon cycles should you count before you declare that a year has passed?  There is no blanket rule about this–each culture decides what works for them, and cultures have counted time differently throughout the ages.  It’s quite unreasonable to assume that ancient cultures counted time exactly as we do today, and when you see some of the numbers that are reported in the Bible, it becomes quite reasonable to assume that there were some major differences in how the ancients counted time, thus the ages they report people doing things at are not the same ages that we would report if we were counting time our way.

So what was Moses reporting?  Well, if he was working off of ancient historical records to get the ages of Noah and Adam, then those records would report the ages according to the time scales being used in those times.  So Moses could be reporting a wide variety of time spans without meaning to.  Let’s say that in Adam’s day, a “year” was six months long.  So folks said that Adam lived to be 930 years, and that information was passed on generation after generation.  By the time Moses is writing things, suppose his idea of a year was longer than 6 months.  So when Moses says “we traveled in the desert for forty years” he means a Moses year, which is X number of months.  But when he says “Adam lived 930 years old,” he could be using an Adam year, which might by just 6 months.  The same term “year” is being used, but that word has different definitions, and maybe Moses didn’t even understand this (or care).

So does it matter?  Not really.  Average lifespans fluctuate over time, and as an aside, the average lifespan statistics that you can look up on the internet are very unreliable because of the way they are calculated.  To calculate an “average”, you simply add up a set of numbers and then multiple by how many numbers you have.  So if one fellow dies at the age of 5, and another dies at the age of 95, then to get the average, you calculate 5+95=100 and then you divide 100 by 2 (because there were two guys) and that equals 50.  So you say “The average lifespan of those two people was 50 years.”  But is this an accurate picture of how things really were?  No, because one guy died at 5 and the other died at 95.  This is how unreliable average lifespan statistics are–they are easily thrown off by things like infant mortality and mass casualties due to plagues or wars.

Why did our Gods limit our years? Was it our wickedness?

In Genesis 6:3, Yahweh says that He is going to put a cap on human lifespans so that they will not live beyond 120 years.  In other words, He shortens the average lifespan.  Prior to that, we saw people living much longer than 120 (even if we divide all of the ages in half).  But after God says this, you’ll see the lifespans start to get shorter.  Today you never hear of anyone living to 120.  According to Genesis 6:3, God’s reason for shortening the human lifespan was His response to human rebellion.  Another theory you might come across is that after the Flood, significant changes to earth’s atmosphere occurred which basically caused people to be less shielded from sunlight and other natural radiation factors.  Due to this, the aging process greatly sped up, and now people are dropping over much younger than they used to.  Is this an accurate way to view death? Not really.

We don’t die because of too much sunshine, disease, or toxicity.  We die when God wants us to die, and in each life, death comes at a different time.  Death is always a purposeful choice on God’s part, not a freak accident or a result of poor choices.  Being obedient to God is no guarantee of a longer life, and being a spiritual rebel doesn’t mean you’ll die young.  Each soul is handled differently. For more about this, see Behind the Scenes with God: Human Variation, Lifespans, and the Mechanics of Salvation.

92. I have read most of your articles. One thing I’m still having major problems with is the issue of tithing. In the church I attend, tithing is a huge deal. I have a decent job that typically should be able to meet my needs. However, money seems to be a huge deal. There’s just always one bill or (forgotten) bad debt/financial issue that rears its head every month, and I’m worried that it’s because I don’t pay my tithes.

You’re making two wrong assumptions here.  The first is that tithing is something that God requires for all Christians.  This is not at all true.  Many Christian teachers will tell you that the Bible says that Christians are supposed to tithe but they are lying to you.  They’re not just lying, they’re grossly lying.  By that we mean that tithing is not a vague concept in the Bible.  It is very clearly spelled out and once you have a correct understanding of why tithing was ever required under the Old Covenant, you will understand why it is totally ludicrous to suggest that tithing continues to be required now that the sacrificial system has ended.  Now there are two main passages that Christian teachers use to push tithing.  One is from Malachi 3, the other is a passage in Hebrews.  Since truth is your best defense against lies, we explain the original meaning of both of these passages so that you can see how Christian leaders are being so deceptive in their application of them.  For help with all of this, see All About Tithing.

Now the second misunderstanding you’re making is that if God was pleased with you, your earthly circumstances would be going well.  In other words, you’re interpreting financial strain as an indication that God is mad at you.  This is a very popular idea that is promoted by many branches of the Church (especially in prosperity theology circles), but again, this is a fat lie.

Today many will tell you that the Bible says that God will materially bless any individual who honors Him with their money.  But no, it doesn’t.  Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh promised to materially bless the whole nation of Israel if she honored Him.  But this promise did not apply to individual believers–it was only offered to the nation as a whole.  This is why we see many individuals who honored God (like Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah), living in very tough circumstances.  Now today we live under the New Covenant, and today the Old Covenant promises have been thrown out.  Today there are no promises of material blessings for Christians.  Instead, there is a guarantee of hardship for the seriously committed, because the world hates God and will naturally be opposed to us.   So when fans of sacrificial giving try to tell you that God will give you more money if you give Him money, they are lying to you.  God never made any such promise.

Life is about pleasing God, not humans.  Christians are humans, and all humans are greedy.  Christian leaders figured out a long time ago that tossing out threats like “God is mad at you” is a very effective way to get laypeople to fork over the cash.  Take this website, for example.  If we wanted to bilk people, we could set up a donations page and say something like, “Sow your seed into our ministry and God will pay you back a hundred times what you give us!”  Has God actually promised this?  Of course not, but plenty of Christians would just believe us–especially if we claimed to be “anointed.”  Another popular method is to sell prayers.  Here’s when we say, “For every $100 you send, our team will pray a special blessing over you and your household.”  This is all total rot, of course, and leaders who use such obnoxious tactics really aren’t praying for you, they’re just taking your money and loving what an idiot you are.  So here’s the key: your money belongs to God.  Wait for Him to tell you who to give it to.  Never give your money to a charity, ministry, church, or anyone else because some human is trying to threaten your standing with God.  You can’t buy God’s approval, and those who say you can are getting in big trouble with Him for their abuse of your trust.

So then, there are three critical areas where you need to be better educated, and we have material that will help with all of them:

  1. You need to understand what God’s New Covenant guidelines are about managing money.  It’s very simple.  He says that all your money is His property, and you need to be willing to give it away anytime He tells you to out of obedience to Him.  But you need to wait for Him to tell you, and not just let other humans put words in His mouth.  Most Christians leaders won’t tell you this, because they want to get their hands on your money.  So since everyone’s trying to manipulate you, you need to learn to see through their tactics.  Read the following:
    Giving to the Poor: Cautions for Christians
    Answers About Money: Guidelines for Serious Christians
  2. Now the practice of tithing can be a helpful way of learning to keep money in perspective, so sometimes God does convict individual Christians to tithe for a season while He helps them work on their priorities.  How do you know when He’s doing this with you?  In fact, how can you tell the difference between God talking to you, and demons or humans trying to guilt trip you?  Here’s where you need to learn how to better recognize God’s convictions (as opposed to guilt trips and condemnation).  Right now you’re looking at your circumstances to determine God’s will.  This is a very common approach, but it’s one that’s guaranteed to land you in a mess, because trials are an important part of spiritual growth.  This means that you can’t just point to your tight finances and say, “God must be mad at me, otherwise I wouldn’t be struggling like this.”  That is not a correct assessment.  If God really had a problem with you, or if He wanted you to tithe, you would be receiving clear conviction about it.  So what does God’s conviction look like? See the following:
    Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
    Conviction Q&A
  3. The last area you need help with is in understanding what God’s priorities for you are.  This is a huge area where Christians go astray, because they erroneously assume that God has the same priorities that they do.  As humans, we all want comfy, happy, wealthy lives.  In other words, we’re focused on earthsuit happiness, but God is focused on the welfare of our souls. Since we need to go through trials to grow, God is not going to give us perfect lives down here.  Think about it: if you were never tight on money, where would the opportunity be for you to practice trust and dependency–two soul attitudes that God really wants from you?  There are some great spiritual advantages to having tight finances, and depending on what God’s currently working on with you, He may not want you to be flush right now.  That means that you throwing money into an offering plate somewhere won’t do anything but make you even more strapped.  So before you assume that money problems can be fixed through tithing, realize that God is always going for spiritual maturity. Here’s where you need to ask Him to help you learn whatever it is He wants to teach you through your tight finances.  And to learn more about God’s priorities for you, see the following:
    Soul Before Earthsuit: Understanding God’s Priorities
    The Mechanics of Spiritual Growth: Four Essential Attitudes

There are always positive spiritual lessons to be learned in any struggle, and we want to be looking for those lessons, not just trying to find a way to make our problems go away.  Certainly there’s nothing wrong with trying to make our lives easier, but we need to remember that we’re here to grow closer to God, therefore we want to get the most out of our trials that we can.  By the time our problems are solved, we want to have learned something useful that will help us in our relationship with God.  Read the above posts and trust that God knows how to clearly communicate His will to you.  Guilt trips from the pulpit on Sunday morning are not clear convictions, and churches that push tithing (which is most of them) are already preaching lies.  So you need to be on your guard.  Is God going to just stand there mad at you and wait for you to read His mind and figure out what He wants?  No, this is not who God is.  When God has a problem with you, He clearly communicates it.  As long as you’ve got a bunch of vague confusion, you’re not hearing from God, and that means you need to practice rejecting lies.

89. I recently just spoke out in Young Adults bible study about the level of biblical idolatry in today’s church. They of course all jumped on me as expected. However I don’t know what to say to “How do you know if things come from God or not without a bible to run them off of?” What do I say to these people?

You tell them that God is the One who teaches us truth, not a book.  But then they will say that you can’t possibly tell when God has really spoken to you or not unless you check with the book. The fundamental issue here is that many Christians don’t believe that God will talk to them directly, and they have zero confidence in how to discern His Voice.  They cling to the Bible because the Church has taught them that the book is their only hope of understanding God’s will.  It’s idiotic, but there it is.  Undermining people’s confidence is powerful stuff, and once you hand someone a physical god (the Bible) to replace the real God, they don’t want to let it go.  So rather than go fifty rounds, you need to realize that you’re never going to fix what’s wrong with the Church.  God wants people to have the option of defying Him, and He certainly doesn’t need your help to teach them the truth.  Realize that most people don’t really want to know the truth, they just want to argue, so don’t get caught in the very common pitfall of trying to make people see the truth.  You can’t make them see what they don’t want to see, and it’s not appropriate for you to even try, because the Holy Spirit is already doing a fabulous job of illuminating souls in this world.  When He tells you to say something, you do it out of obedience to Him, not because you’re trying to pressure others into making certain spiritual choices.

How to Avoid Witnessing Burnout
God Told Me: The Only Valid Basis for Faith

87. So, What is the difference between following Yahweh and following Jesus? I’m having a real hard time looking at Them as separate Gods. And very rarely do I think about the Holy Spirit. I have read most of your material and it is definitely making me ask questions. Jesus is the same as His Father so the more I read this material, I feel like there is no hope for me and that I’m going to Hell. Seeing God ,Jesus or the Holy spirit as loving I can’t see especially after reading about the priest going to Hell. You say God is not a Ogre but the way you’re writing about Jesus, you’re making Him sound like He doesn’t love us either–that what He did was just for show. What’s the point of being a Christian? I agree with the 4 key attitudes reverence, submission, trust and dependency, and I have none of those. I was raised in a military home with a Vietnam vet as a father, and I was not brought up that way. I’m really trying to understand.

Because the Vietnam War was such a traumatic experience, many vets from that war ended up with unprocessed psych issues which they then tried to cope with through substance abuse and/or aggressive behavior towards others.  So when you refer to having a Vietnam vet as a father, what traits are you associating with that term?

It sounds like the issue that’s bothering you is that you perceived Jesus as being a nice God-human hybrid–now you’re finding out that He’s just like Yahweh, thus you’re concluding He’s impossible to please.  Clearly you already view Yahweh as the wrathful God.  Realize that polarizing Jesus and Yahweh as Nice vs. Nasty is a false teaching that you get from the Church.  What makes this so ironic is that the Church claims that this is a biblical teaching, and yet it is so far from what the Bible teaches.

Yahweh is the main Star of the Bible. You’re taught that the NT is about Jesus, but this simply isn’t true. While Jesus is being discussed in the four Gospel books, the God He’s always talking about is Yahweh.  Yahweh is also the only God Character in many of Jesus’ parables.  After the Gospel books, Yahweh is the main God talked about throughout the epistles (while Jesus is minimized as a mere mortal), and Yahweh is also the main God being focused on in Revelation.  (Jesus does that introduction with the seven letters to the churches, but after that you’ll find much of the focus being on “He who sits on the throne,” which is a reference to Yahweh).

Now once we realize that the four Gospel books are repetitive and only covering about 3 years of time, and once we take an honest look at how many of Jesus’ comments are expressing negative feelings, we realize how utterly absurd it is to paint Jesus as Mr. Nice Guy.  There is simply no foundation for this in the records where Jesus Himself is doing the talking.  He spends most of the time chewing out the Jews for their spiritual rebellion, and snapping at His disciples for being slow learners.  For all of those pictures we paint of Jesus blessing the children, do you know how many accounts there really are of Jesus interacting with children?  One, and even on that occasion, Jesus rebukes His disciples.  So, you see, the “sweet Jesus, meek and mild” who we’re all taught to sing about was someone we just made up.  He never really existed.  The real Jesus is like Yahweh: an intense blend of both love and wrath.

Meanwhile, we have reams of material in the Bible in which Yahweh is sharing His own perspectives with people and in those passages we find Him emphasizing over and over again how incredibly gracious He is.  If we were really reading the Bible correctly, we should be marveling at how gracious, loving, and kind Yahweh is.  But instead, we make Him out to be an Ogre.  This is due to us reading the Bible through the mental filter which the Church teaches us to use.

In our material, we say over and over again that our Gods are very easy to succeed with.  We know how often your eyeballs have come across that line, because we know how often we’ve typed it.  Yet notice how you are filtering out that statement and only hearing how hard God is to please.  In our Know Your Bible Series, we intentionally emphasize how gracious and generous Yahweh is being throughout the Old Testament by pulling out passages that often get ignored by the Church.  So are we teaching what you’re hearing?  No, you’re filtering our material.  But this is quite normal, and all humans do it.  The key is to realize you’re doing it and understand why.

There’s an old saying, “You can find evidence for anything you want to believe.”  This is referring to the human tendency to view the world through a bias of expectations. But we also view the world through a bias of fears.  For example, you clearly have a fear of God’s wrath–not a positive “Wow, You’re stronger than me and I’d better respect You” kind of fear, but a hang your head in defeat kind of fear.  As soon as Jesus stops being a pushover in your mind, you leap to the conclusion that He must be an Ogre.  But why?  Why do you think an authority figure can’t hold any boundaries without becoming a jerk?  Our Gods created Heaven and Hell, not just Hell.  Yes, They are the Source of all evil, but They are also the Source of all good.  They created humans with the capacity to both cry and laugh, to feel sorrow and joy.  In our material we discuss all of Their sides.  In some articles, we discuss Their loving, gracious, and merciful sides.  In other articles, we discuss Their wrath, and jealousy.  If you have really read “most” of our material, then you are filtering out most of it, because the conclusions you’re drawing do not match what we teach.

The fact that Jesus is God Almighty and has always been God Almighty hardly makes Him unloving.  The fact that He was never a limited mortal who was overwhelmed by agony on a cross hardly makes Him devoid of any positive characteristics.  You need to see that you have formed a mental connection between Jesus being a literal human and Him being kind.  So when we take the humanity out of Jesus (which is essential if you’re going to learn to treat Him correctly), you panic that He’s also lost His kind side.  Well, no, He hasn’t, and since when are humans such bundles of love?  Humans can be extremely cruel, yet no human comes anywhere close to being as merciful and gracious as our Gods are.  Realizing that Jesus is not human should actually be very good news to you, and it would be, if you had a proper understanding of the Divine Nature.  But because you are viewing the Divine Nature as quite negative (and this is easy to pick up from the Church and from the wording of the NT epistles), then you end up in a panic once human Jesus no longer exists as a buffer between you and a wrathful Yahweh.

Your real crisis here is based on a misunderstanding of who God really is, and clearing up such misunderstandings is the purpose of much of our material.  We not only get people off of this “Jesus is fully man” trip, but we also clarify what the Divine Nature is actually like: it is not all sunshine, nor is it all wrath.  It is an intense blend of opposite extremes.  Yet the fact that our Gods have great wrath does not at all mean that They are impossible to please.  What often happens here is Christians start projecting their experience of their human fathers onto God. If your dad was a jerk, you assume God is as well, etc..  Well, no, God is God, not a human, and if you want to really understand the difference, you need to stop trying to pin Him into some little box.

We all start out with many “if, then” assumptions about God which greatly affect what we’re willing to hear Him say to us.  For example, in your mind, you’ve got an assumption that, “If Jesus really isn’t part human, and if He really wasn’t suffering horribly through the crucifixion, then He must not really love us.”  Then you’ve got another one: “If Jesus is really like Yahweh, then Jesus must be impossible to please.”  But why?  You see, your beliefs about God build on each other, and once you accept one false assumption about Him, many more are quick to follow.  For example, let’s see what happens to your logic stream when you make one wrong assumption about God.

  • A God who is all wrath would be impossible to please. [RIGHT]
  • Yahweh is a God who is all wrath. [WRONG]
  • Since Yahweh is all wrath, He’s impossible to please. [WRONG]
  • Jesus is just like Yahweh. [RIGHT]
  • This means that Jesus is also all wrath. [WRONG]
  • Conclusion: Jesus is also impossible to please. [WRONG]

See how it works?  In our material, you’ve learned that Jesus is just like Yahweh.  This is correct, but once you add that piece of information into a stream of logic which is already including wrong assumptions, you end up with more wrong assumptions.  Now let’s see what happens if we correct the wrong assumptions.

  • A God who is all wrath would be impossible to please. [RIGHT]
  • Yahweh is a God who has great wrath, but also great love, mercy, and compassion. [RIGHT]
  • Since Yahweh has such a gracious side, He is very easy to succeed with. [RIGHT]
  • Jesus is just like Yahweh. [RIGHT]
  • This means that Jesus is also a mix of grace and wrath. [RIGHT]
  • Conclusion: Jesus is just as easy to succeed with as Yahweh is. [RIGHT]

This is what we actually teach in our material, but this is not what you’re hearing because you’re bringing your own assumptions into the mix.  So what’s the solution here? You need to ask the real Gods to help you get a better understanding of who They are and how easy They are to succeed with.  We can put the words in front of you, but you’re not going to even see them or register them without Their help.  This is why we always say that you need to be asking God to help you learn anything He wants to teach you whenever you come across material about Him in the Bible, on our site, or anywhere else.

Now you mention the post about the priests who went to Hell.  You say that this article leads you to conclude that God is impossible to please.  It shouldn’t, because that’s not what that article is about.  So clearly you are adding false assumptions into the mix.  For your own benefit, it would be good for you to try and identify what those assumptions are.  Here is the logical stream of that biblical account:

  • The high priest Eli and his two priest sons were grossly disrespecting Yahweh by abusing the sacrificial system, abusing true believers, and making a mockery out of honoring God.
  • After giving these three men plenty of time to repent, Yahweh’s patience finally came to an end and He told Eli that he and his sons were eternally damned.
  • Key Principle: Wallowing in unrepentant rebellion will result in dire consequences in eternity.

Now after reading this, here is your reaction:

  • There were three priests in ancient Israel who Yahweh damned to Hell. [RIGHT]
  • _____________________
  • Conclusion: Clearly Yahweh is impossible to please. [WRONG]
  • Application: I can never succeed with Yahweh personally. [WRONG]

See if you can fill in the blank with a statement that will justify the conclusion that Yahweh is impossible to please.  Whatever that assumption is, it is incorrect, and thus leading you to draw a wrong final application.  The correct logic flow would go something like this:

  • There were three priests in ancient Israel who Yahweh damned to Hell. [RIGHT]
  • Conclusion: Yahweh is very patient and gracious, but He is not without boundaries.  When we persist in our rebellion, the day comes when He says “enough” and cuts us off. [RIGHT]
  • Application: I need to respond swiftly to God’s convictions in my own life and realize what a serious thing it is to respect His Authority.  [RIGHT]
  • Application: The priests in this story were grossly disrespecting God and refusing to repent.  Am I being like them today? If so, I need to repent immediately and stop trying God’s patience. If not, then I don’t need to be afraid, but this is a good reminder for me of how important it is to obey God. [RIGHT]

There are many positive lessons to be gleaned from the biblical accounts, but none of them teach us that God is impossible to please.  When you get there, it’s because you’re getting bogged down in false assumptions.  Ask God to help you identify what wrong assumptions you are making about Him and to help you replace them with positive truths.

86. I have recently been reading a couple of your articles which referenced the sacrificial system for sin. After reading them I have this thought in my head that I can’t seem to shake, but I have never heard it talked about. I feel like God is trying to teach me something but I am not there yet in order to hear it, something is still missing. God expected the sacrificed animals to be without blemish, etc. The best specimens of their kind. I know that with animal breeding the best specimens are usually the ones that are bred to make a stronger and more robust next generation of animals, more resistant to disease, less physical problems, reduction in herd defects, etc. The sacrificial system seems to me like it carried along with it an automatic reduction in the quality and quantity of livestock, because the best animals weren’t around for market sale, breeding, etc. The more that animals needed to be sacrificed to atone for sin the lower the quality of the remaining herds would have been. I feel like the lesson is something deeper than just being a secondary subtle punishment (less income possible and more livestock problems to deal with), so I figured I would ask.

Good thinking!  And the confusion here comes from you missing one very important piece of the puzzle: Yahweh’s promise to super bless Israel if she honored Him as a nation.  You see, many of Yahweh’s Laws were very nonsensical and seemed guaranteed to trash Israel’s economy (such as His Sabbath Year law, which required farmers to miss out on harvesting any crops for 2 years in a row).  The whole package of Old Covenant Laws required Israel to act quite freakish in comparison to the nations around her–and it required her to really step out in faith and rely on Yahweh to miraculously provide for her, which He promised to do many times.  But of course she didn’t ever step out in faith, so the abundant blessings never happened.  No one came close to offering sacrifices as often as was required, so running short on good animals simply wasn’t a problem.  In fact, it didn’t take people long to view the sacrificial system as a handy way of unloading all of their crippled disease bags, and in Micah, we find Yahweh promising to punish priests for presenting Him with this kind of garbage (see Know Your Bible Lesson 41: Meaningless Vows).  So to answer your question, no, Yahweh was not working in layers of punishment for those who obeyed His laws.  On the contrary, He promised to mega bless them.  But it’s important to note that both the laws and the promises of blessings/cursings were given to the entire nation of Israel. The very popular modern day notion of God promising to heap abundant earthly blessings on any individual who obeyed Him was never a part of the Old Covenant, nor is it a part of the New.  There’s never been a time when God said, “Hey, throw extra money into the offering plate, and I’ll bless you in proportion to what you give.”  Prosperity teachers are lying when they say that this is a biblical principle–but when folks can get rich by telling lies, they’re going to keep doing it (see Sacrificial Giving: A Favorite Teaching of False Shepherds).

72. I read your article on bible idolatry and I fully agree. However, I’m wondering what should believers use the bible for? I agree God can speak through it, but I’ve recently learned that God can speak through anything. What separates the bible from everything else or makes it special? Is it? Should it be separated? And have you personally run every bit of scripture past God?

We don’t discuss our personal dynamic with God because 1) it’s no one’s business but ours, and 2) sharing such things encourages people to rely on us to do their discerning for them, which is not going to help them mature.  While many Christian leaders feel it is inspiring and helpful to share their biographical details with others, as well as to post diary-like entries of their daily experiences of God and life, we find such an approach to be very counterproductive in teaching souls to take responsibility for their own relationships with God.  There’s far too much faith mimicking among Christians, and by that we mean many Christians are simply imitating the convictions and opinions of others without really taking the time to question what they’re being told.  We can’t get to Heaven by copycatting the submission of other humans.

So then, what’s special about the Christian Bible?  Well, it’s being widely used as a replacement for God in the lives of many Christians.  That certainly makes it stand apart from all other books.  It’s also the main “textbook” used in Christian churches, it’s widely quoted in Christian prayers, and it’s upheld as a framework for the Christian faith (or so the Church claims, but in reality, much of what she teaches contradicts the Bible).  The Bible is also unique in that it presents a review of human history from the Divine perspective.  Certainly it only focuses on a tiny bit of human history, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another book which contains so many messages from the Christian Gods.  But then we come to the big question: are the Christian Gods being accurately quoted in the Bible?  That’s something only They can tell you.

Ideally, Christians would focus on God and view the Bible as a teaching tool which He may sometimes decide to use in their lives.  But this will never happen.  Christians obsess over the Bible, and if you’re going to interface with them, it’s helpful to have some idea of what the book’s about.  For people in our position, a greater understanding of the Bible is essential, because it plays such a central role in the lives of Christians.  By helping souls get a more balanced view of the book–which we do by familiarizing them with more of its contents and challenging them to view those contents in a