Okay so I have been really struggling lately

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Thread Topic: Okay so I have been really struggling lately

  • avatar
    Anastasia Hot Shot
    Reading your comments reminds me of what I once struggled with so strongly, desiring to please God but falling so short.

    In fact the word that came to my mind for you is what Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31-32.

    And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

    Peter loved God. He boldly proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah and promised to follow Him anywhere, even in death.

    But Peter's struggle is all of our struggles before we truly understand grace. He relied on his own strength.

    I honestly struggled with this for the past year. After everything God has done for me, I wanted to do everything possible to seek holiness. It was around Easter in 2017 that I suddenly became harassed with blasphemous thoughts so intense and out of nowhere that I would shake I was so anxious and afraid.

    The devil knows Scripture too, but all he can do is twist it and lie. I was terrified I committed the unforgivable sin and that every thought was my own.

    I decided to search online and found that this wasn't something only I was dealing with. In fact even godly people in the past like John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, and Martin Luther faced unwanted thoughts.

    We are in a spiritual war, and it all centers on what is true and what is a lie. These lies can be so subtle and can so easily throw off our walk with God.

    So I want to address the issue you're dealing with, and I know it so well. Whenever we misunderstand grace, it can cause so much confusion and pain.

    We cannot be good or holy naturally. I mean I can tell you about how wicked my heart was even from my childhood and innocence. The flesh cannot receive spiritual truth. The flesh and the spirit desire two different things.

    The law God revealed in the Old Testament serves a purpose. It proves that all of humanity is guilty before God. It is a hard, inescapable truth that for true justice to be served, we all deserve hell.

    But the Gospel is God's hope to all of humanity. By Christ, the Son of God, God Himself, being born into this world as a man, He could live the holy life we could not and be the perfect Passover Lamb, paying our sin debt in full, not just a temporary covering of sins like the yearly sacrifices offered in the temple. He alone could rise from the dead and conquer death.

    Does it all stop there? I would say no. What is the purpose of salvation anyway? The issue of sin is the rejecting of God and trying to become our own gods. The heart of it is pride. It's the reason the devil became so deluded to rebel against God and desire that he should be worshipped instead. It's why idolatry is spiritual adultery, worshipping creation instead of the Creator.

    It's a subject that I couldn't comprehend, that God didn't just create us to walk this world alone and for our own purposes. He has a plan that spans eternity, and it begins with us putting our faith in Christ alone for salvation.

    Christ calls the Church His bride. Marriage is a shadow of a much deeper love. Agape love. God has desired to have a creation so valuable to Him, that He would take our death upon Himself to save us. He didn't create this world in vain.

    We can have 100% assurance of salvation, we can have victory, and we can have lives that have eternal significance. It all must be built on these foundational truths.

    Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Matthew 5:3

    Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
    John 15:4-5

    Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
    Proverbs 3:5-6

    Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
    1 Peter 5:6-7

    Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
    Philippians 4:6-7

    Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
    Matthew 11:28-30

    Obedience to God can only come when we see our own frailty, that we trust what God says is holy and right, when we love Him, and trust to follow His leading even when it is the opposite of what the flesh would choose.

    In fact you can look at what happened to Israel in the Old Testament as an example of the difference between trust in God or trust in our own strength and understanding. Israel was always outnumbered, always weaker than their enemies, but it was when they relied on God alone they were victorious.

    This is because God is trying to show us the issue of our hearts not being right with Him. Whenever we think we are sufficient apart from Him, the consequence of sin is how we crumble and fall. We were made for Him. He is the source of all light, truth, righteousness, and love. When we are disconnected from Him, we are disconnected from life.

    The world encourages us to seek pleasure apart from God. It says to make sex, relationships, money, power, careers, and pride in our accomplishments the center of our lives. We become addicted to things that will never truly satisfy. I used to look to lovers and friends for support, but I couldn't even bear my own burdens. No human being and no favorite thing can replace God in our lives.

    I would like to encourage you to know God definitely isn't the fun police. When I started following Christ, my life became an adventure. He created you for a reason, Olivia. He's the One who made you and formed you with unique interests, and He's the One who will equip you with gifts in the Holy Spirit to fulfill His purpose for your life.

    The difference is God has a plan for our lives that has eternal purpose. He is calling us to a higher calling than just what this world offers. Instead of us building our own names and empires, He calls us to be disciples and to ministry.

    Ministry doesn't have to mean church leadership or being a pastor. It goes back to the two commandments we are to follow: Love God and love people. Ministry is serving God and others instead of ourselves. It can be helping a brother or sister who is struggling, spiritually or physically, or sharing the Gospel with the broken and lost.

    It can even be using whatever our interests are, whether music, writing, art, film, science, or any other form of creativity or work to bring God glory. God has put storytelling on my heart and by His leading and strength I know it can be used to spread hope.

    You are in my prayers, and I know that the Holy Spirit will teach you more about God than I ever can. Never feel like there's no more new information to learn about the Bible. I still find myself seeing new things in passages I've read probably a hundred times.
  • avatar
    Anastasia Hot Shot
    Also I just want to respond to the suggestion of the Prayer Circles book, and please don't take this personally. I did research on it when I first heard about it, and didn't find a lot of good about it. There's no Biblical direction to pray in circles, but there are a lot of pagan and wiccan examples of prayer circles. I know Stardust was not intending any harm, but I wouldn't feel right if I didn't say anything.

    God loves simple, childlike faith in prayer. Jesus says the Father seeks us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24 So there isn't a special prayer formula. In reverence and humility, we should pour out our hearts to Him and believe He can and will do what He promises.
  • avatar
    DaughterOfApollo Hot Shot
    Jumping in on the conversation here

    You said that you're scared to follow God, and I personally think that if following him is scary to you, then you shouldn't do it. If it's true that we only have one life, then you don't want to be living in fear and you should be enjoying the things that you love to do. You shouldn't have to feel the need to devot your whole life to God because to me, that sounds more like a life in prison. You should do it because it's something that you want to do.
    Okay, let me try to summarize what happened to me (keep in mind I'm 21 now): I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Sunday school and church every week (hated going to Sunday school a lot and sitting through mass, but I would pray to god every night as if he were my best friend), but when I was about 15 (so your age) I guess that's when I sort of started questioning things. I wasn't just blindly following what everyone else was telling me and started to think for myself and branch out to other religions. Became a Wiccan and got into witchcraft (guess I would still kind of consider myself one), and then I took a World Religions class at one of my colleges, which was really interesting because there I learned that Christianity isn't the oldest religion (it's Hinduism) and also learned a little bit about Buddhism and Jainism and Taoism and Zoroastrianism. All of this led me to conclude that pretty much all religions are the same, which made me think that because I believe that there is some higher being, different people from all over saw different variations of this higher being (some saw a male, some a female, some saw multiple, and some didn't see anything at all because they don't need a higher being to rely on) and then that's how we got all of these different religions, so you just gotta find one that's best for you. All of the major religions pretty much have the same stories (Hinduism has a "Noah's Ark" story about a fish warning an old man about a flood, which I personally like that version better) because they all take from each other since that's how you get more followers.

    So yeah, basically just do whatever feels right and that's going to be hard for you right now considering that you have had such a heavy Christian influence and still do because you're still living with your parents, but I would suggest doing research into other religions so you have more to go off of. Buddhism is nice and peaceful and no wars have ever been fought in the name of it.

    Also another thing of what Ana said above about the Prayer Circle book: yes, it is true that Pagans do prayer circles, but that shouldn't be a reason to not do something. Pagans also brought evergreen trees into their homes for Yule and burned a Yule log as tradition before it was adopted into the Christian/Christmas tradition and no one seems to have a problem with that now, so why is the prayer circle any different? Just because one religion does something differently than what you do doesn't mean that it's wrong. You also put a quote up that has the sentence "there isn't a special prayer formula." So a prayer circle is okay to do because there is no specific or special or correct way to pray. Read the book if you think you'd find it interesting or helpful, you're just expanding your knowledge and if you don't want to do it, then don't do it.
  • avatar
    Anastasia Hot Shot
    The thing is, in any subject matter, but especially in spirituality, we should desire to know the truth, right? Well the thing about Christianity is that the Bible makes claims of absolute truth. There's no way all religions can be the same if the God of the Bible claims alone to be God. He directly opposes every other system of religion. So it can only be concluded that Judeo-Christianity is either completely right or wrong.

    Also, it is irrelevant if Christianity is classified as an old religion, because such a classification does not take into account what Christianity is: the belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The Bible long before gives prophecy of the One who would reconcile mankind with God. Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Word of the God of Israel.

    The idea that salvation can be attained apart from Christ is to declare He faced the cross in vain. When Jesus prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.", do we really think for one moment that Father God would have let His beloved Son suffer if there was another way?

    God lays out His plan of both judging sin and showing mercy all throughout the Old Testament. Abraham's show of faith in His willingness to sacrifice Isaac, the son he longed for and whom God promised that would become a great nation meant He believed in God's ability to raise him back to life. This points to Christ. The Passover lamb in Exodus and later the sacrifices in Israel point to Christ. Isaiah 53 is so clearly the Gospel.

    We can't ignore sin just because it scares us. We can't shut ourselves off from the suffering in this world because of war, murder, cruelty, hatred and selfishness. It has to be faced and there has to be justice. So much human effort has been expended in governments, money, laws and organizations to try to make us better, but the human heart is still desperately wicked.

    Grace is unlike anything else, and if the Gospel wasn't true, it wouldn't have any power to save. Grace puts our dependence on God instead of ourselves. It excludes human boasting. It proves God's goodness and righteousness. It's as much of a prison as a loving marriage is, being committed to Christ, the Source of light, life, truth, hope and real love.

    You said that you got involved with witchcraft and that you believe in a higher power. I'm sure you would agree that spirituality is real. I firmly agree. The Bible, however, doesn't say that all spirituality is good. Spirituality apart from God is being in contact with satanic spirits. They don't desire your good, but are actively fighting against the things of God. I don't say this judgmentally, because I once encountered an evil spirit in sleep paralysis before I was living for God. The only thing that released me was calling out in Jesus name in faith. Christ is more powerful than all demonic spiritual powers.

    And you also brought up that you are from a Catholic background. My dad came from a lapsed Catholic background and thought that he had to go to confirmation to be a Christian. It wasn't until he joined the army and encountered Protestants that he started to seek who God really is by His Word. Sadly the Catholic church has added so much to the Bible that it looks nothing like what the God of Israel revealed in His Word.

    I have no other agenda then seeking truth. I built my life on so many empty lies and it destroyed me. We all need to ask the hard questions, even when it makes us uncomfortable. My desire is not to convert you to my religion, but that you would have a real, living relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is the only source of life I've found.

    It all is really summ
  • avatar
    Anastasia Hot Shot
    It all is really summed up in either choosing the Gospel or Humanism. Either God saves us or we try to save ourselves. I couldn't save myself, but Christ did.
  • avatar
    DaughterOfApollo Hot Shot
    The Christian God is a jealous one. The Bible was also written by man and has been translated a few times and things tend to get lost when translating it from one language to the next, so anytime a reference to the Bible is made, I tend to think "is this actually what was said, or did something get lost in translation?" It's like that game telephone you know? Where one person says something and then by the end of it, it's completely different from what was originally said.

    The thing about Christianity not being the oldest religion was more of a part to my personal story/journey.

    You clearly love your god and are willing to do anything for him, and that's great for you because you truly want to do that. I'm not telling you to stop, I was just trying to give a new perspective on this situation because her whole life she's been surrounded by people of the Christian religion telling her what to do, so I was just letting her know that if she's not feeling it, there's always other ways and paths of life.

    The thing about sleep paralysis: I've had sleep paralysis since I was 6 and the first couple of times scared the crap outta me, but it's a sleep disorder. Nothing more. Once I learned why people get sleep paralysis (brain waking up faster than body and essentially getting "stuck" between the stages of sleep) I could wake up much more easily. Now if it happens (and it tends to happen if I take a nap and my sleep schedule is messed up), I immediately am able to become aware of what it is and it's no longer scary. Pretty much everyone who has had sleep paralysis (myself included) has seen or felt the presence of someone or something watching them, but it's just our brains hallucinating and the fact that we can't move and it feels like we can't breathe adds on to us thinking that someone is doing this to us and well, then that guy shows up. But now because I'm aware of what it is, I am no longer scared and I no longer see/feel that guy because I just go "oh, it's this again" and try to change it to lucid dreaming (which is pretty cool).

    Oddly enough, I actually prefer being a Catholic than being any other denomination of Christianity. I've been to a Christian church when I was younger (slept over at a friend's house and they made me go to church with them the next day), and I absolutely hated it. It was just so long and boring and they separated the kids from the adults and I didn't know why and gave us crackers and grape juice instead of bread and wine, and basically the whole thing felt wrong to me.

    Catholics get a lot of crap from other Christians, which shouldn't happen because y'all are in the same boat, just different sides of it.

    You claim that you don't want to convert people to Christianity, but it sounds like you do. Rather than being like "it's either this or that" have you ever thought about how there might be a grey area that you're overseeing because you are blinded by your faith? Sometimes it's not just completely black and white. What you just said about how either god saves us or we save ourselves to me sounds like "you're either with us or against us."

    Going back to the original post: I'm not telling you to turn your back on your god because if you truly feel that he is looking out for you, then great. I'm just suggesting branching out and gaining knowledge of other religions so you know that Christianity isn't the only way.
  • avatar
    Stardust1 Experienced
    Hey just popping again.
    Honestly, the prayer circle book is not at all about doing weird practices to get good results! When I read it, I did not think "Oh I have to draw a circle now when I pray." The book actually taught me about the faith behind the praying. It showed me how to dream big, pray hard, and think long. I've learned how bold prayers can honor God. The author doesn't teach about pagan rituals... He just uses the prayer circle as an example, like symbolism. He reminds me of the story of Jericho, of how they circled the city seven times with trumpets so the walls would fall down. How it's not about the circling. It's about obeying God. Because even though the journey is long and we run out of patience, the reward of having God on our side is so worth it. It's completely encouraging, and something that shown me perseverance in my faith. When I feel like giving up, I realize how powerful prayer is, and how my faith in continually praying is rewarded. Anyway, that's what I learned from that book. It's not about drawing circles. It's about the faith behind it.
  • avatar
    Anastasia Hot Shot
    I honestly began my journey when I first started looking at religion with the desire to find truth. Something can only be real or fake, especially if it makes claims of absolute truth.

    I didn't want to just be religious. Whatever I believed would have to line up with reality or it would be of no use. I was really between either atheism or the possibility of there being spiritual truth.

    We live in a world that is dying. Death is inescapable and there is suffering everywhere. People seek happiness, but that is a fleeting pursuit that can't evade how empty and purposeless a life centered on the flesh is.

    Most will say they at least care somewhat about morality, but we bend the idea of good when it gets in the way of something we want. Even if we, like many religions encourage, dedicate our lives to holiness, we can't fix our own inner wickedness. The issue is in the human heart.

    I can't see how justice can have a grey area. Good and evil are opposites. We either build up or tear down. We either seek someone's good, or we don't. Ultimately we do have to choose which we will serve.

    But if I choose to serve righteousness, in my own strength and determination, I fail. If I sought to please perfect holiness with everything in my being, my heart is still black as night. Something in me has to fundamentally change in order to live a life worth living. Otherwise justice goes ignored, and truth is lost in chaos.

    The reason I love God is precisely because the Gospel has the power to save and the answer to our human condition. The Bible, when translated from the original languages, is harmonious in its message and teaching. That's why I brought up Catholicism, not to merely single them out, but to say that any denomination or group that claims to be Christian but contradicts the Bible is not following what God actually said. Yes, the Bible was written by human writers, but it makes the claim of being revealed by God through His Holy Spirit.

    So then I decided to test what the Bible says to see if it is true. Either the Gospel has the power to save us, or it doesn't. God is either real and who He says He is, or no.

    The reason I preach the Gospel so wholeheartedly is because it is true. It's a living walk in faith in a living God. Christ had the power not only to give me temporary life but spiritual life. And I am not some special human being by any means. The testimonies of broken lives throughout centuries cannot be erased. Whenever a person, regardless of their age, gender, race or religious background truly decides to trust Christ, they are made spiritually alive.

    If I were to hide this good news, the power of God to save, I would be a monster. I desire only the highest good for you all, and that means warning anyone that would follow a way that leads to death.
  • avatar
    Hiccstrid Senior
    Okay, wow, I am blown away!

    I started this thread simply to vent some of the stuff going on in my head and now this is getting deep!

    I'm not going to try to respond to everything because I think my head would explode, but thank you again, Ana and Star and Daughter of Apollo. It means so much to me that there are people who genuinely care about me, and are willing to take the time to explain and get concepts through my thick, thick skull.

    I completely agree with everything you guys are saying. And believe me, I have been thinking about it a lot lately. One of the Bible studies I'm doing is on Hosea, and that is really impacting me. God really lays it on thick to Israel because He provided for them abundantly and they rejected Him for idols. I see myself in Israel completely. God has done so much in my life, and yet I am completely discontent and ungrateful. My heart is disgusting.

    "Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people?"

    Yet God still had compassion on Israel and will eventually restore them. That is why I feel like there is still hope for me. God has plucked me out of the world, out of the public school system, into a Christian environment where I could learn and memorize thousands of verses and know the Bible through and through. Not many my age have that opportunity, so why would God waste it on someone who would just turn her back on Him anyway? I still need to wrestle with God and decided once and for all He is Lord.

    Just yesterday, I realized that I had almost completely forgotten about the entire gospel aspect of following God. My parents emphasize obedience and submission so much (which is extremely important, don't get me wrong) that I often forget the core message of the Bible--God's provision of salvation to all mankind. Sometimes I just think about it and it just blows me away. The perfect, sinless, holy, righteous Son of God, chose to take on human form and live in the filth of the world, showing compassion, performing miracles, teaching God's love. And for all He invested, the people killed Him in the end. But that was all part of God's plan to be a perfect Passover sacrifice for all mankind. WOW!!! What kind of person could ever do that? That is the depth of God's love for me!

    Thinking about that kind of stuff really helps me move closer to God. But it says somewhere (either John 6 or 10) that no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him. God has to draw me in because I am completely powerless.

    I remember hearing a sermon by Paul Washer around a year ago about following God, and he compared it to a parent coaxing a toddler to come to them. If they're struggling to walk and are trying to support themselves on the coffee table, you don't tell them "Leave the table!" You just say "Come to Daddy!" And the toddler completely forgets about the table in comparison to his father. That illustration really helps clear things up. Come to Jesus, and the world will naturally fade away. (Which reminds me of this amazing song by Chris Rice that I haven't listened to since I was really little)

    Also I have been listening to hymns on CD a lot lately just to remind myself that Christianity isn't all the drudgery I've made it out to be. There are so many suppressed memories I have from Sunday School when I was three years old, and revisiting those songs has been really good for me.

    Thank you all again for your prayers. "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." ~James 5:16
  • SpartanSquid Newbie
    but then again, these are all quotes from characters that haven't been proven real from a 2K+ year old book, that says slavery is ok and stoning your children is "discipline"
  • avatar
    Stardust1 Experienced
    Actually all the characters have been proven to be real. Jesus was an actual historical figure, even if you don't believe he was the son of God, he was a real person. It's not just the Bible that has mentioned him.
    And no, the Bible doesn't say that get your facts straight.
  • avatar
    I really do not want to join in this discussion so I'll likely disappear from the thread after this contribution, but I felt some research and facts were needed. Doing the best I could, though it was nearly impossible to find reliable sources even with an academic search engine, I gathered the following information:

    Any source that mentions Jesus Christ has been created after the supposed "death" of Jesus. There is very, very little evidence of the existence of Jesus and the even authenticity of the sources you mention are questionable. Any text related to the existence of Jesus Christ in history seems to be very vague and convoluted, for whatever reason, but looking beyond the complicated text, the lack of evidence is truly glaring. Of course, there are also many other historical figures whose existence we often do not question that have the same amount of evidence (or lack thereof)-- make of that what you will. I invite you to do some research of your own, though the subject is steeped in bias and difficult to manage through. Many scholars still believe Jesus to have been a real person but many also do not. It is a matter of opinion in that regard. However, upon comparison to other gods outside of Christianity, it becomes clear that the mythos of not only Jesus Christ but other stories included in the Bible were borrowed from various sources.
    The existence of Jesus Christ is, in fact, not undisputed and it is not proven. It is a complex issue shrouded in bias from either side. Finally, in my own opinion based off of the information I have discovered, Jesus Christ's existence lacks evidence and has too many similarities to other myths. I personally have absolutely nothing to gain, however, from the existence of Jesus as a historical figure. Whether or not he actually existed means nothing to me. If you want to believe Jesus existed, go ahead. If that aids you in your faith, by all means, believe. I just don't see the benefit of suspending my belief that much.
    In conclusion, no one really knows if Jesus of Nazareth ever existed or not. There is simply not enough proof for either side of the argument.
    ( sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. )
  • avatar
    Stardust1 Experienced
    Jesus's existence:

    Just to name a few. They are greater than 30 extra biblical sources mentioning Jesus, and these aren't from his followers. They're not from people who are trying to promote a fantasy. They're from people who hated Jesus.
    Even if you don't believe in Christianity, which is definitely your choice and I respect that, there is evidence Jesus was a historical physical person. I could find more if you want more, but already there's a lot more sources proving his existence then there is for a lot of ancient figures.
  • avatar
    Anastasia Hot Shot
    So I just wanted to drop a link to a video addressing this. It's not super long.

    There's still more I'd like to write on why I believe for certain that Christianity is the actual truth, and not simply a mental crutch. The fact is if we actually approach God humbly wanting to know truth and go to His Word with an open mind, we can know if Christianity is real.

    I love you guys. That's all I care about in these conversations. All I want is your highest good.

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