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Thank you for your honest, realistic (and gracious) response!

Reading your response gives me a sense which I'm having trouble putting my finger on. (I'm thinking and processing aloud here...I hope you don't mind, because I'm focusing on my own quest right now...I am interested in yours too ;).)

I'm comparing your approach to mine and am trying to word what you do differently, because I see how relaxed you are about having differing views and how you stay true to who you are despite sometimes feeling like a square peg (at least, that's the sense I get reading your post, please correct me if I'm wrong). I think for me my views still define me a tad too much. My beliefs used to be my identity. My views shifted causing my identity to unravel, and I can feel myself looking for a new identity. Perhaps I shouldn't be looking for a new belief system to define me.

Sure my views are a part of me, but they are not the sum of me, actually they are relatively a small part of who I am (I realize now).

So perhaps I should be looking at the rest of my person, my essence and let that define me, my views only being a part of that, after all, views change all the time. The essence of who I am doesn't. The fact that I can change my mind is a beautiful thing and something I want to celebrate as a part of being me, being human, being alive.

This is a profound, new thought to me...something I need to process a little more.

Losing my identity was and still is painful, perhaps I've been looking in the wrong places to soothe that pain.

This new thought would also be the key to getting me out of my head and more into the deeper places, where faith is and where I sense God the strongest. You're right, intellectual study won't do that for me. I think intellectual study has helped loosen me from past prisons of thought, but lately study has caused me more anxiety than freedom and I think I understand why now.

 

"But my personal beliefs don't seem so significant there. I think that what they really care about is me."

 

That's what I mean. That's what I want to give myself too. Not make my beliefs so significant and just learn to be me.

 

"Perhaps that's the kind of church that would work for you?"

 

For sure! That's exactly what I'm looking for! How did you find it?

But then I do wonder, seeing we are (also) intellectual individuals, do you get enough stimuli in that area in your church, or do you all stay away from those kinds of discussions because of the vast array of different views (not wanting to upset anyone)?

I think I'd still enjoy conversation...I just want to learn to stay close to my inner sense while talking about matters of belief (and be able to stay relaxed about it, not letting it determine my identity).

Is there conversation about beliefs in your church? And if not, do you miss it?

I guess you could always split it...go to church looking for one thing, and come to forums like these to get the intellectual side?

Is that how you do it?

Edited by Deborah
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Thank you for your honest, realistic (and gracious) response!

Reading your response gives me a sense which I'm having trouble putting my finger on. (I'm thinking and processing aloud here...I hope you don't mind, because I'm focusing on my own quest right now...I am interested in yours too ;).)

I'm comparing your approach to mine and am trying to word what you do differently, because I see how relaxed you are about having differing views and how you stay true to who you are despite sometimes feeling like a square peg (at least, that's the sense I get reading your post, please correct me if I'm wrong). I think for me my views still define me a tad too much. My beliefs used to be my identity. My views shifted causing my identity to unravel, and I can feel myself looking for a new identity. Perhaps I shouldn't be looking for a new belief system to define me.

Sure my views are a part of me, but they are not the sum of me, actually they are relatively a small part of who I am (I realize now).

So perhaps I should be looking at the rest of my person, my essence and let that define me, my views only being a part of that, after all, views change all the time. The essence of who I am doesn't. The fact that I can change my mind is a beautiful thing and something I want to celebrate as a part of being me, being human, being alive.

This is a profound, new thought to me...something I need to process a little more.

Losing my identity was and still is painful, perhaps I've been looking in the wrong places to soothe that pain.

This new thought would also be the key to getting me out of my head and more into the deeper places, where faith is and where I sense God the strongest. You're right, intellectual study won't do that for me. I think intellectual study has helped loosen me from past prisons of thought, but lately study has caused me more anxiety than freedom and I think I understand why now.

 

"But my personal beliefs don't seem so significant there. I think that what they really care about is me."

 

That's what I mean. That's what I want to give myself too. Not make my beliefs so significant and just learn to be me.

 

"Perhaps that's the kind of church that would work for you?"

 

For sure! That's exactly what I'm looking for! How did you find it?

But then I do wonder, seeing we are (also) intellectual individuals, do you get enough stimuli in that area in your church, or do you all stay away from those kinds of discussions because of the vast array of different views (not wanting to upset anyone)?

I think I'd still enjoy conversation...I just want to learn to stay close to my inner sense while talking about matters of belief (and be able to stay relaxed about it, not letting it determine my identity).

Is there conversation about beliefs in your church? And if not, do you miss it?

I guess you could always split it...go to church looking for one thing, and come to forums like these to get the intellectual side?

Is that how you do it?

When I wrote that post I was suffering from my identity. Identity is how we want to identify ourselves and how we want others to identify us. I was so attached to it that it was limiting the possibilities of my life. In August, I started a journey of shedding my identity. In the morning, I began praying a pray of surrender. I started by surrendering the struggles which I felt powerless against. Then at night, I prayed gratitude. Eventually, as my heart and mind began to change, I began surrendering other parts of me until eventually I surrendered every part of me, which was scary at first. I'm a musician and I've put that above all things, including my family. It's my identity. But I gave that up to God to do with it whatever he will. I found one day, that God had removed my selfishness and replaced it with a desire to take care of my family. Keep in mind, I didn't ask for these changes. I basically had been praying Thy Will be done for 90 days. I've never been happier. My life has never been better. I no longer suffer over this.

 

I do still have beliefs. I believe in prayer. I believe in God's will. I believe in service, compassion, kindness, and love. But the most important thing I believe is the moment. I believe that God is in the moment. God is not in the past or in the future, at least not in a way that is available to me. Anything that ties me to the past, then, brings me out of the presence of God. That can be identity, resentment, beliefs, pain, guilt. Anything that ties me to the future, anxiety, ambition, fear, brings me out of the presence of God. It's a lonely life away from God.

 

Of course my church discusses belief, but I rarely do. I've found that it is a double-edged sword. There is benefit from learning from others, but there is conflict as well. I tend to stay out of it. This site, however, is good place to work things out. You would think that everybody here is like-minded, but there is actually a huge diversity of perspectives here, and there is much to gain from that if you're willing for your ideas to be tested by super smart people!

 

"For sure! That's exactly what I'm looking for! How did you find it?"

 

I didn't find it, it found me. I just wanted a job. I did not expect to find a church home.

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What a neat story! I'm guessing your family was happy with the change aswell?!

I like your pragmatic approach to staying in the moment. I do think that is very important.

 

Yes, I have noticed that the views expressed on this site are very divers, which makes it so interesting (and sometimes overwhelming).

It's good practice for me to handle different views...letting them rub off on me to an extent of my choosing and without losing my sense of self.

 

I pray that one day I might find a similar church to yours. Until then, I can live in the moment ;) and learn from you all!

 

You said you surrendered music to God. And you also mentioned in one of your posts that you are the music director of your church...is that what came out of surrendering music to God?

What did you do with music before then? Do you have anything online? I would be curious to have a listen...

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What a neat story! I'm guessing your family was happy with the change aswell?!

I like your pragmatic approach to staying in the moment. I do think that is very important.

 

Yes, I have noticed that the views expressed on this site are very divers, which makes it so interesting (and sometimes overwhelming).

It's good practice for me to handle different views...letting them rub off on me to an extent of my choosing and without losing my sense of self.

 

I pray that one day I might find a similar church to yours. Until then, I can live in the moment ;) and learn from you all!

 

You said you surrendered music to God. And you also mentioned in one of your posts that you are the music director of your church...is that what came out of surrendering music to God?

What did you do with music before then? Do you have anything online? I would be curious to have a listen...

I've been involved in church music all of my life. I decided I wanted to be a music minister professionally in 2011. I see it as a calling. Over the years I've sung in operas, jazz, music theatre, and given recitals. I've played in an orchestra, polka bands, and even a country band. I teach choir and private voice. I have a degree in music. I chose not to go pro as a singer (perhaps I didn't have what it took anyway) because I wanted to be a present father and husband. But I resented it. I've put music first so many times. That's what musicians do after all. I was very selfish about it, as if it were more important than anything else in my life. It was the last thing I would surrender. When I say surrender, I mean I'm willing to give it up if that's what God desires. How do I know what God desires? Well I'll never know if I do not empty myself of my desires. That leaves a space for God to put his desires in my heart. And when that happens, you'll know it. Everything just becomes easier. No fighter, no struggling, just going with the flow. However, I suspect that I have that musical gift for a reason, and I will be led to it. Perhaps I'm already fulfilling it. Surrender, to me, goes back to Jesus's teaching. We have to lose our lives to gain them. I'm only just starting to understand this. God desires a life for us greater than the life we can give ourselves if we just surrender and trust. I don't believe that because it fits my theology. I believe it because it is happening. Don't believe me. Believe what works for you.

 

As far as my music online. Hmmm. It's mostly embarrassing stuff.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_hahypwo0A

Edited by fatherman
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What a shame that the quality of the recording is so low because it is clear that there is talent behind the piano and mike!

Thanks for sharing that!

 

I grew up in a family of musicians and singers and studied music as well at a Christian arts college, but never considered myself a rock star, just wanted to use the talent within church circles. But since my faith shift I have not played my guitar or piano for a church band, nor led worship since. I don't miss the christian stage much, but I do miss jamming and singing with others and am afraid that I'm getting a little rusty...I hope those things are like riding a bike ;).

 

When it comes to surrender I'm a little confused as to what that means exactly, because unlike you, most of my life I've been in a submission, self-sacrificing mode. In other words, always putting my desires on the back burner and giving first place to other people's desires. There is something unhealthy to that, but hard to put a finger on because of the Christian idea of surrender and self-sacrifice. So I always thought I was doing the right thing and that God would look after me and my desires. But it seems it's not as simple as that. Trying to figure that one out is hard. My conscience conflicts with my emotions and experience.

 

Take Australia for example. I grew up there and love it there. My soul flourishes in Australia, as though I was born to live there (I was born in Germany). I was living in Sydney when I met my Dutch husband, who was there doing Bible College for 2 years. It was my intention to live in Australia for the rest of my life and certainly never wanted to live in Europe again. Europe has a dampening effect on my soul. I knew all of this and so did Bram, but when we got engaged our pastors convinced us to move to Holland so that Bram could finish his studies (studying medicine is very expensive in Australia). I didn't want to, but seeing I was used to always putting my own desires second I relented and we had a verbal agreement that we'd come back to Australia when he was done...big sacrifice on my behalf knowing he still had 5 years to go and then still needed to specialize...another 5 years! So at least ten years away from Australia. He gave the impression that living in Australia would suit him just fine, so I never thought it would come to this...

Once we were here though I noticed that Bram started showing signs of having no intentions of moving back. Especially when our kids were born...at which point he made it clear that he wasn't planning on moving back (he's very close with his large family and wanted our kids to grow up with them in their lives). You can imagine that at this stage I started feeling trapped. Bram put it down to his own ignorance at the time...when we made the verbal agreement he couldn't have known that he'd end up feeling attached to Holland. So now that the agreement was broken and in Bram's mind no longer valid...who's desire would weigh heavier? His or mine? I'd given him the little finger...or should I say the whole arm and it was clear that he wouldn't have any scruple taking the rest, with or without my permission. For years this was a sensitive subject that always ended in raised voices, so we decided not to talk about it until we got closer to the end of his specialisation...meanwhile I prayed, feeling abandoned by God on the matter and imprisoned by my own choices. I felt selfish and guilty for wanting Australia, so I felt I'd lost any right for God's assistance in the matter. All the while angry at Bram and myself. Those were tough years. About 6 months ago, so 10 years later, he finally came around and said he'd be willing to move back with me...not that he wanted to, but he couldn't deny that it was only fair. He still thinks it's a bad idea and will not serve our children, but he's willing to do it. He still regularly gives me the room to change my mind and let us stay in Holland :unsure: , which still gives me the feeling that I'm expected to surrender my desire.

Now I realize that this story makes Bram sound like an #*@hole, but he's not. This is just another one of those human struggles, everybody has them. I've disappointed Bram plenty of times and have my own share of needing forgiveness.

The reason I'm sharing this is because of the confusion this causes in regard to surrender. Is surrendering to God perhaps something different to surrendering to other human beings? That would make sense. While feeling hopeless that I had any right to be moving back, I prayed daily that God would either take away my desire to live in Australia or to change Bram's heart. Is that surrender? I don't know. Somehow surrender feels like more...like I had to let go of Australia all-together, but I just couldn't manage. I didn't know how to shut down my love for Australia, my yearning to move back...it just simply was there, how does one let go of something like that? Is surrender willingness to let go and in my situation be willing to live in Holland for the rest of my life? I could have decided for that, but even just at the thought I could feel my heart shut down. Something inside would break, I could sense it. For my own sanity's sake I had to hold on to hope that despite my selfishness (as perceived by Bram and myself and others), God might actually turn the tide somehow and make a way where there seemed to be no way. That was my prayer...pretty much all the time. It became my mantra.

 

Because I felt I had no right, it was hard for me to trust God... and tried to tell myself that what God had for me would be better than what I had in mind for myself...even if that meant Holland.

But what about "He gives us our heart's desires". Dude, seriously, I was confused and in pain and angry.

 

An atheist, feminist friend of mine feels I need to discover my autonomy and stand up for what I want...none of this weak surrender stuff! If I don't help myself it won't happen...others will not do it for me, others have their own desires that they'll push through, unless I take my stand. That's the gist, fight for yourself, because nobody else will.

 

I think the healthiest approach is somewhere inbetween, still trying to work that one out. Something along the lines of: I don't need to get rid of desires...I can't anyway. Let myself feel what I feel, communicate what I want, even work towards it, but trust that God will turn hearts where necessary, even if it's my own...and that in doing so things will become clear as time progresses.

 

Is that your idea of surrender?

Edited by Deborah
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What a shame that the quality of the recording is so low because it is clear that there is talent behind the piano and mike!

Thanks for sharing that!

 

I grew up in a family of musicians and singers and studied music as well at a Christian arts college, but never considered myself a rock star, just wanted to use the talent within church circles. But since my faith shift I have not played my guitar or piano for a church band, nor led worship since. I don't miss the christian stage much, but I do miss jamming and singing with others and am afraid that I'm getting a little rusty...I hope those things are like riding a bike ;).

 

When it comes to surrender I'm a little confused as to what that means exactly, because unlike you, most of my life I've been in a submission, self-sacrificing mode. In other words, always putting my desires on the back burner and giving first place to other people's desires. There is something unhealthy to that, but hard to put a finger on because of the Christian idea of surrender and self-sacrifice. So I always thought I was doing the right thing and that God would look after me and my desires. But it seems it's not as simple as that. Trying to figure that one out is hard. My conscience conflicts with my emotions and experience.

 

Take Australia for example. I grew up there and love it there. My soul flourishes in Australia, as though I was born to live there (I was born in Germany). I was living in Sydney when I met my Dutch husband, who was there doing Bible College for 2 years. It was my intention to live in Australia for the rest of my life and certainly never wanted to live in Europe again. Europe has a dampening effect on my soul. I knew all of this and so did Bram, but when we got engaged our pastors convinced us to move to Holland so that Bram could finish his studies (studying medicine is very expensive in Australia). I didn't want to, but seeing I was used to always putting my own desires second I relented and we had a verbal agreement that we'd come back to Australia when he was done...big sacrifice on my behalf knowing he still had 5 years to go and then still needed to specialize...another 5 years! So at least ten years away from Australia. He gave the impression that living in Australia would suit him just fine, so I never thought it would come to this...

Once we were here though I noticed that Bram started showing signs of having no intentions of moving back. Especially when our kids were born...at which point he made it clear that he wasn't planning on moving back (he's very close with his large family and wanted our kids to grow up with them in their lives). You can imagine that at this stage I started feeling trapped. Bram put it down to his own ignorance at the time...when we made the verbal agreement he couldn't have known that he'd end up feeling attached to Holland. So now that the agreement was broken and in Bram's mind no longer valid...who's desire would weigh heavier? His or mine? I'd given him the little finger...or should I say the whole arm and it was clear that he wouldn't have any scruple taking the rest, with or without my permission. For years this was a sensitive subject that always ended in raised voices, so we decided not to talk about it until we got closer to the end of his specialisation...meanwhile I prayed, feeling abandoned by God on the matter and imprisoned by my own choices. I felt selfish and guilty for wanting Australia, so I felt I'd lost any right for God's assistance in the matter. All the while angry at Bram and myself. Those were tough years. About 6 months ago, so 10 years later, he finally came around and said he'd be willing to move back with me...not that he wanted to, but he couldn't deny that it was only fair. He still thinks it's a bad idea and will not serve our children, but he's willing to do it. He still regularly gives me the room to change my mind and let us stay in Holland :unsure: , which still gives me the feeling that I'm expected to surrender my desire.

Now I realize that this story makes Bram sound like an #*@hole, but he's not. This is just another one of those human struggles, everybody has them. I've disappointed Bram plenty of times and have my own share of needing forgiveness.

The reason I'm sharing this is because of the confusion this causes in regard to surrender. Is surrendering to God perhaps something different to surrendering to other human beings? That would make sense. While feeling hopeless that I had any right to be moving back, I prayed daily that God would either take away my desire to live in Australia or to change Bram's heart. Is that surrender? I don't know. Somehow surrender feels like more...like I had to let go of Australia all-together, but I just couldn't manage. I didn't know how to shut down my love for Australia, my yearning to move back...it just simply was there, how does one let go of something like that? Is surrender willingness to let go and in my situation be willing to live in Holland for the rest of my life? I could have decided for that, but even just at the thought I could feel my heart shut down. Something inside would break, I could sense it. For my own sanity's sake I had to hold on to hope that despite my selfishness (as perceived by Bram and myself and others), God might actually turn the tide somehow and make a way where there seemed to be no way. That was my prayer...pretty much all the time. It became my mantra.

 

Because I felt I had no right, it was hard for me to trust God... and tried to tell myself that what God had for me would be better than what I had in mind for myself...even if that meant Holland.

But what about "He gives us our heart's desires". Dude, seriously, I was confused and in pain and angry.

 

An atheist, feminist friend of mine feels I need to discover my autonomy and stand up for what I want...none of this weak surrender stuff! If I don't help myself it won't happen...others will not do it for me, others have their own desires that they'll push through, unless I take my stand. That's the gist, fight for yourself, because nobody else will.

 

I think the healthiest approach is somewhere inbetween, still trying to work that one out. Something along the lines of: I don't need to get rid of desires...I can't anyway. Let myself feel what I feel, communicate what I want, even work towards it, but trust that God will turn hearts where necessary, even if it's my own...and that in doing so things will become clear as time progresses.

 

Is that your idea of surrender?

 

Marvelous illustration, and a tough struggle. I relate on a few points. I bent my will to the desires of my wife for years, and I resented the hell out of her. When I changed my tune on it and began asserting my desires, she did not object at all. The struggle was in my mind the whole time. I'm not saying that's what's going on with you guys, but what I was doing was not surrendering, it was avoiding conflict. The main difference between surrendering to a person and surrendering to God, IMHO, is that a person, except for some parents when you're a kid, really has no idea what is best for you. A parent has a better idea, and a God has THE idea about what is best. Although I've experimented with surrender over the last decade or so, I was never willing to surrender all until this year. So my views on this have limits.

 

You're very close to what I'm talking about and experiencing. You do not, nor could you, get rid of your desires. We want what we want! But you surrender your desires to the care of (or Will of) a God who knows what will ultimately lead you into a greater happiness and into greater service to the world. Because the truth is, you don't have the knowledge that God has. Your way of doing things is less effective or in my case, totally disastrous! Let me further illustrate.

 

Let's say you have this bicycle, and it keeps breaking, but you love your bike so much and are unwilling to give it up, despite the fact that you have to get a ride from your friends on rainy days. You do your best to fix it, but it's crap. You don't have the tools or knowledge to make it right. So you surrender it to a bike mechanic. He returns it to you in working condition. Now you know that if you ever need it fixed again, you can surrender it to the mechanic. So every six months, you take it to the mechanic, $100 a pop.

 

Let's say you have the same bike which keeps breaking, but instead of giving it to the mechanic, which costs a lot of money, you give it to your father who knows everything there is to know about bicycles. A couple of weeks goes by, and no bike, but you are patient because you trust your father. Then one day, with not so much as a word, you find a brand new car waiting for you. You are thrilled! Are don't miss your old bike at all. You never had to give up your desires. And now you can pickup your friends when it's raining.

 

The first scenario is surrendering to a person. You trust the mechanic, but ultimately he does not understand or care what's really best for you here. He knows what's best for himself: receiving $200 a year. The 2nd scenario is surrendering to God. God knows that that bike is going to continue to fall a part until you finally wreck it and hurt yourself. In other words, your attachment to it will hurt you in the end. He gives you something in return which you never asked for and could never have afforded. It comes with the added bonus that it will allow you to be in service to others, which you are happy to do.

 

Lest this sound too materialistic, let me say that this is about desires, not the money theology that has become so prevalent. You see, the daughter saw no other solution than fixing the bike because she was so attached to it. She looked to her own will, then to another persons will, but ultimately to God's Will. Let me further say, that the daughter did not sacrifice anything in the end other than her own weak will. She was overjoyed with the results. She got what she needed, without ever knowing that she wanted it. There is a cost when you surrender your will to another person. They may steer you wrong, they may steer you right. They may take over your life, they may empower your life. But ultimately, out of their ignorance and selfishness, the endeavor will fail. The cost of surrendering to God is giving up your anxieties, fears, and selfishness. That's a big price to pay, but well worth it.

Edited by fatherman
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I still struggle with what you are saying here, Fatherman. Most likely, the struggle is on my side, but I'm not sure how to resolve it. IMO, you can only surrender to someone if you trust their character, or, as you have said, you believe they have your best interest at heart. For instance, I can often surrender to my wife because I know her character and know her to be a fine, moral person who puts the best interest of our family at the center.

 

But the God of the bible, well, based on the texts, I'm not convinced that such a God is trust-worthy, worthy to surrender to. After all, the texts say that he flooded the earth, that he killed all the first-born in Egypt two-years of age and under, that he commanded that Israel kill the inhabitants of Canaan land. He allows Japthah to sacrifice his own daughter. And according to Christian mythology, even many of those who bow their knee and confess that Jesus is lord will still end up in hell. Now, I'm not saying that all these portrayals of God are accurate, but they are still part of the whole package. It would be easier for me to surrender to this God if he was ALWAYS consistently loving and merciful.

 

On another level, when I was young (in high school and Bible School), we were consumed with what God's will was. What was God's will for my vocation? What was God's will for my mate? What church was God's will for me to attend? Which version of the bible was God's will? Which denomination was God's will for me? I'm not joking, I took these things very seriously back then. I truly wanted God's will. It was, for me, a dangerous place to be if one was outside of the will of God. Bad things happen to people in the bible if they go against the will of God.

 

But, as I've mentioned before, I don't know how to discern the will of God. Other than Jesus' two commands of loving God and loving others, I don't know what the will of God is in most situations. I have never heard audibly from God as to what his will is. I don't trust the scriptures as a guide. Should we follow the 637 "will of God" commandments in the OT? Should we follow the "will of God" found in Jesus' teachings of selling our things or leaving our families?

 

So, to me (and you'll probably disagree -- that's okay), the fact that we have our own will is a gift from God. We have the ability to weigh things out, to reason, to make up our own minds about what is best. Is it infallible? Not by a long shot. It is a tool, IMO, for discerning reality and how to respond to it.

 

The people who flew the planes into the Twin Towers were, no doubt, convinced they were doing the will of God. The Church was convinced it was doing the will of God when it persecuted the Reformers and the early scientists. John Calvin believed his was doing the will of God when he had Michael Servetus burned at the stake for challenging the doctrine of the Trinity. Many Christians today believe that homosexuals go to hell because heterosexuality is the will of God. So I question how we humans determine what the "true will of God" really is. I won't surrender my will to something unless I am convinced it is of good and consistent moral character. That's just how I'm wired.

 

Thanks for listening. Agreement is in no way required. :)

Edited by BillM
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We may be disagreeing, but we may just not be seeing the whole picture together well enough to know if we are.

 

"But the God of the bible, well, based on the texts, I'm not convinced that such a God is trust-worthy, worthy to surrender to."

 

I don't know if I know the God of the Bible or not. These men and women of the Bible are just as flawed as we are. They're going to project their desires, preferences, and ego/will on to God. So I don't think you can really make a case for God being untrustworthy or unworthy based on the Bible. We're talking about a God as seen through the eyes of men. Which brings me to a point. The Bible is a narrative of people's relationship with God. It is no substitute for your or my having an actual relationship with God. The only way you can truly know God is to have a relationship with him. I read an autobiography of one of my favorite Authors: Pat Conroy. I feel like I know him, but if I saw him on the street he would contradict me on the matter. So God of the Bible...I know the God who I'm in a relationship with. That's the only God I actually know. And this God is worthy. If you meet (not just read about) another god who is not worthy, please share about it. I'm very curious about this god.

 

 

"But, as I've mentioned before, I don't know how to discern the will of God. "

 

I do not claim to be able to discern God's will except perhaps in hindsight. I surrender, and things happen in my heart. I don't know if it's God's will for me to do this or that or drive to work 5 minutes late in order to avoid a wreck. My experience has been about what it is in my heart. Removing elements that are hindering my ability to be everything I can be. Giving me new desires for the things that nourish me or the people in my life. The greater Will of God? If there is such a thing, I will likely not be able to discern that. Perhaps you are thinking of God's Will has an object/idea/action that determines the course of all human events. Perhaps God's Will is simply the will it takes to sustain a Universe with life. Perhaps it's about God's will that there be peace on earth. Or perhaps God's will is a bad term, and God's DESIRE is more applicable. God has given us the freedom to choose (please don't go back to the free will thread!). I don't think he ever takes that away to assert his own will in our lives. Could be dead wrong about that. But God desires good things for his children, just as I do with my children. I've heard a lot of stories from different perspectives on this which contradict the goodness of God, but I have no personal experience to contradict it...so I'm sticking with it.

 

I realize that people having relationships with God where the God is a real entity that can communicate and such is a scary idea. Is God informing Pat Robinson on the crazy sh!t he says? He seems to think he is. There is scripture for identifying false prophets, but there really isn't any way to know. So does that mean you're willing to throw away an opportunity to have a relationship with a good and loving God, because of a few a-holes in a book written thousands of years ago and a few deluded, manipulative idiots?

 

That would be like refusing to get married because there are abusive, cheating spouses out there. Does that mean there is something wrong with marriage? Maybe for some. But I'm sure glad I'm married.

 

It's ok for us to disagree. I do not need you to agree me. I'm just hoping you will at least consider what I'm saying here.

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Fatherman,

 

>>We may be disagreeing, but we may just not be seeing the whole picture together well enough to know if we are.

 

That may well be the case. So, I ask sincerely, who or what is this God that you surrender to?

 

(BTW, I hope you know that I am not at all mocking you. I am interested in unconventional views of God. My own view is Reality with a possible Cosmic Consciousness. This is quite different from YHWH or even the Father of Jesus.)

Edited by BillM
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I don't feel mocked! I always interpret you as sincere. :)

 

Wow. What a great question. I have never answered this before. So, if I'm claiming that the only God I know is the God I know, then who or what is this God?

 

This is a god of my experience. I can really only speak about him in my experience. I will start by saying that my experiences with God bear striking resemblances to many others' experiences with God.

 

  • God is a creator. I do not know if he created me, but he is creative with me.
  • I sense God's presence when I need him, but not always when I want him.
  • God makes no demands, but for me to receive his help I most entrust myself to him
  • I have no idea if God has a gender, but he always reveals himself to me as a father. I really want him to appear as a mother because I believe in gender equality, but it hasn't happened.
  • God speaks if I will listen. But it's only happened to me once.
  • God seems to know what is best for me, and he'll make it happen if I'll let him. So far that hasn't included a million dollars, but he's teaching me how to be a hard worker.
  • I've lived a truly fortuitous life, and I do not know if that has anything to do with God. People say I'm blessed, but then, you know, starving Ethiopian kids.
  • God steps into my life in a supernatural way when I'm my most broken.
  • I suspect that God loves me, otherwise why would he care about me at all? What am I in the vast scheme of things?
  • God can heal, but I don't get to decide what or when he will heal.
  • God can make good things happen out of bad things. I can't say that I know, but I do not believe that he makes bad things happen in order for good things to happen. I may never know the answer to that, and I'm not sure I even want to know. Also, I cannot say why he does this or if he always does it or if doesn't always do it then why. My belief is that when bad things happen, I turn to God and good things happen. But that's just a belief.
  • God is patient. He would wait on me for my whole life or for a 1000 lives to reach out to him.
  • God has desires for me. I don't know if he has plans or not, but he definitely has desires for me.
  • God seems to care very little about what I do. He seems to care much more about who I am and what's in my heart. I'm talking about whatever is in my heart that is preventing me from being a positive, loving, serving force. Not necessarily for the sake of the world, but for my own sake.
  • God's presence as I know it, is in the moment. I've never found God in the past (where my resentments and woundedness and regrets lie) or in the future (where my fears and anxieties await). When I started letting go of those things which were taking me out of the moment, that's really when things started happening.

I think we all have to come to our own understanding of God or higher power or energy or whatever you call it. The Bible is valuable. It gives us a good place to start, but it's just the start. My brother, a pastor, said many Fundamentalists don't really have a relationship with God. They only have a relationship with the Bible. We proxy all kinds of things for a relationship with God. My understanding of God may be about as useless to you as are any of my dreams. How incredibly pointless is it when your buddy spends 20 minutes describing his messed up dreams to you? But could they have significance to him? Definitely. They just have much more to do with him than anybody else. The guys you gotta watch out for are the ones who are having dreams about you and what you should do with your life.

Edited by fatherman
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Fatherman,

 

>>We may be disagreeing, but we may just not be seeing the whole picture together well enough to know if we are.

 

That may well be the case. So, I ask sincerely, who or what is this God that you surrender to?

 

(BTW, I hope you know that I am not at all mocking you. I am interested in unconventional views of God. My own view is Reality with a possible Cosmic Consciousness. This is quite different from YHWH or even the Father of Jesus.)

forgot to quote. see above

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Deborah,

 

 

It sounds to me that you are on the right trail. In my experience, reasoning can only take one so far. I would encourage you to follow your intuition and let peace be your guide at all times. Your "being" at the deepest level is where true peace is and will continue to guide your steps as long as it is the desire of your heart. .

 

Peace,

Joseph

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