Sunday, February 10, 2008

welcome to my abode

"This is no trap, Huma. We are as much the foes of the Dragonqueen as you are. Let past differences remain where they are - in the past."

come in, come in. make yourselves comfortable. thank you for coming.

in the past, i held several beliefs about the bible. then, one day, i noticed that many of the beliefs i held about the bible didn't actually come from the bible. which can be fine, but when these beliefs are held within a framework that only likes to believe things from the bible...well...holding beliefs that DON'T come from the bible can be sketchy. especially when people are lead to believe that their beliefs DO come from the bible. even when they don't.

for example, the bible never uses the word authoritative about itself. it never uses the word infallible about itself. they are NON-SCRIPTURAL beliefs about scripture. which is fine with me, but very strange considering the evangelical world and its stance on scripture. that it is authoritative, infallible, and the "word of god" are the basis of all of their beliefs about scripture. it creates a strange circular not-quite-logic that implodes in my head and i can't quite understand it anymore.

on only one occasion is any part of the bible spoken of as the "word of god." and this comes from jesus, speaking of one of the ten commandments. matt. 15:6. the rest of the instances in which the phrase "word of god" is used it is used to speak of this very intangible experience of a living word coming upon a person and the person speaking forth in an immediate real time situation. not writing down something for everyone for all time. and, interestingly enough, when jesus does speak of the scriptures (the ones they had and recognized as such), he attributes them to moses, not god. matt. 8:4,19:7-8, mark 1:44,10:3-5,12:26, luke 5:14,16:29-31,24:44... just to name a few.

yet, not only did i hold non-scriptural beliefs about scripture, i also ignored many things that it DID say in favor of a tidy system of beliefs. all the while, discarding or simply not noticing the statements that didn't fit. for example, there are three scriptures that come to mind right off the bat that are currently making me reevaluate just who god is and how he acts towards us. one of my eveangelical beliefs basically reiterated john's statement that "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." which i think is true. but there are other statements made that shade that belief forcing me to change my preconceived notion of what it means.

first, there is the story of Job. god consorting with satan. satan seemingly being free to come and go from heaven as he chooses. god turning satan's attention towards Job. Job enduring such trials in order for god to win a bet with someone he isn't even supposed to like. and the real capper, for me, is this verse at the end. Job 42:11, "...they comforted and consoled him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him." what?! the lord brought evil on someone?

I sam. 16:14-16 talks of an "evil spirit from the lord" terrorizing saul. and in Is. 45:7, god speaks for himself and reveals something about himself to us, "The One forming light and creating DARKNESS, causing well-being and creating CALAMITY; I am the LORD who does ALL these." (emphasis mine)
i'm not saying i fully understand what is going on here, i am simply pointing out that these things are in the bible and they force me to reevaluate my beliefs. i can't hold things in a neat evangelical doctrinal structure. they simply don't address these things. and as i would like to continue growing, i need to grapple with these things. yet as i tried, i found myself unwelcome to grapple with them among my brothers and sisters within the walls of the "church" building.

another scripture that baked my noodle and has me reevaluating is Is. 7:14-16. we are generally familiar with verse 14 which prophecys that jesus will be born of a virgin and he will be called immanuel. yet the passage goes on further to tell us that there will be a time when this same boy, immanuel, will not know enough to choose the good and reject the bad. so does that mean that jesus wasn't sinless? or does it mean that we don't really know what sin is?

it is scriptures such as this that keep me from making statements of finality and definitiveness. because they throw in monkey-wrenches that force me to be intellectually honest and say, "i'm not sure what it all means. but this is where i am right now. and, of course, i'm still studying..." which is why when i hear evangelicals uses phrases like, "scripture tells us" it just gets my ire up. i apologize for that, as it is one of the only things, but it makes me feel as if there can be no discussion when the verdict is already in. unfortunately, the verdict, for me, simply hasn't considered all of the evidence. and i fear the verdict is incorrect at worst, or incomplete at best.

for example, lesley, when i spoke of god being "in all" you came back by quoting acts 19:2 and then telling me that "It would appear from scripture..." all the while ignoring the fact that i had also quoted from scripture (eph 4:6) to say what i had said. it is something i do not fully understand, but i also know that in spite of the evangelical belief that salvation is something to be "received" or "gotten", the bible does also make statments in joel 2:28-32 (acts 2:17) and jer. 31:31-34 (heb. 8:10-13) that force me personally to reevaluate this belief, finding it to not present a complete picture.

and what of the evangelical belief that god is something we have to bring with us to other cultures? after all, didn't paul say this in rom. 10:14? but we also have a more complete picture that is largely ignored in which the bible speaks of god being at work already in other cultures, apart from the bible or "christian belief."
there is melchizedek, who we don't know how he got his knowledge. or who his people are and how they came by this knowledge.
and of course, there is Job who was not from the tribe of israel and may even predate them.
balaam is a man not of israel who still not only worships the true god, but is also a prophet of the true god. to whom was balaam speaking? to whom was his message? and where did he come by his beliefs?
god calls nebuchadnezzar "My servant" in jer. 27:6.
the wise men are lead to jesus and his family by reading the stars. (matt.2:1-2) and they are warned not to return to herod by a dream sent from god. (matt.2:12) in both instances, they are lead true and they have the ability to hear and understand. as well as have faith in what they are hearing. where did they come by these unconventional means that guide them truly?
and when peter is sent to cornelius and his household, peter finds him, a non-jew, as a man who already knows and serves the true god, cornelius just doesn't know about jesus yet. (acts10:2)

time is getting away from me, and i have only covered about 8 lines of my notes that i have been gathering for my post. so we'll consider this to be part 1. there is a lot here and it may take some time to digest. so, i'll stop for now. thanks for stopping by.


Erin said...

Way to rock the boat, Jon ;-)

Sigh, now I have a whole bunch of thinking to do. Looking forward to hearing more.

Erin said...

Oh and I meant "rock the boat" in a good way. My theology is being shaken up from many angles at the moment...just when I thought I had already shaken it as much as possible. It's interesting.

They say, "The more you know, the more you know you don't know". I embrace that.

jON said...

for any who don't know, this is a continuation of this conversation over @ deconstructed christian.

for those who do, take off your shoes and coats and make yourselves comfortable. there are some mixed nuts and generic cola. help yourselves.

One Voice of Many said...

I'll be watching from the side-lines for a bit, interested in the dialogue that will come out of this.


Erin said...

How the heck did I miss that discussion? Wow. It seems to boil down to "those who worship the bible are christians and those who don't, aren't." Same as it ever was.

Nate said...

Jon, Thanks for your study. Most of the things I did know and have had in mind for a long time. Others I did not, but still support the theories that have come to me from contmeplation and prayer. It seems we are on this journey together, but seperately. Reaching the same conclusions with different information.

Susan said...

I've been reading Acts 17 and in v.11 we are told that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians because they "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

We also need to examine the Scriptures and not just accept what we are told.

Lesley said...

Hey jon, lots to think about will have to sit and have a good read when I get some quiet time . Tks

Nate said...

The Susan that posted just before this, had this in her lastest post at I found them particularly enligtening to this post.

The Pharisees only focused on the text. Jesus said of them, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life" John 5:39. They studied the Scriptures looking only for the "right thing to do" but not for the "right way to be". They didn't let the text lead them to God, to His purposes, to His heart. God's laws had simply become a list of rules and regulations to be obeyed robotically. They gave no thought as to why God asked them to live with high moral standards so they enforced the law in unloving and ungracious ways.

It was God's intention that His law would lead people to Jesus, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith" Galatians 3:24. It never happened for the Pharisees who missed God's visitation because Jesus was not what they expected. They had studied the Scriptures mindlessly. Jesus was not impressed with the Pharisees who made a show of adhering to the outward forms of their faith with impressive devoutness. The thing that did impress Jesus was great faith (Matthew 8:10 & 15:28).

Let's also be unimpressed by devoutness without love and grace, and be impressed with those things which impress God, like great faith.

jON said...

no, lesley, thank you for coming. appreciate it. you are a free being to do as you choose, but i hope you will hang out with us for awhile.

erin, i'm glad to know i'm not the only one standing in the middle of a theological earthquake. it's been going on for twopointfive years now, and it's showing no signs of stopping. first, my home crumbled, but soon enough, the buildings in my community crumbled as well as the buildings in my city, and then all across the world. i'm waiting to see what it all looks like when the ground stops shaking. so i can assess, see what's left, and begin rebuilding.

michelle, i can completely understand your desire to listen but not share right now. you are still very young in your deconstruction and haven't yet begun to really catalog or calculate the data from all of your new ideas yet, and see if they form a greater whole. hopefully there will be good conversation for you to listen to.

nate, you're welcome. how are you and the fam? haven't talked with you for awhile. on purpose, really. i'm negotiating right now to get the new franchisee to create my dream job and i just feel the spirit wants me to know its her and not call you and get advice. not because i would ask, but i know you and YOU know you and as i tell you everything i have planned, you would instantly relate stories from your experiences in this field. and they would be good ideas. and it would be hard to distinguish from your good ideas and the spirit's ideas. hope you understand. i have a meeting this week. if everything is a green light, then i'll call you this weekend and we'll dish... ;-)

yes. i would agree that we are reaching many of the same conclusions with different data. different data, the same spirit. but i don't by any means think we're alone in this.

susan, i was thinking of something similar last night. that in order for a person to be able to say, "scripture says", they need to have the whole of scripture at their command. they need to have knowledge of every single corner of that book. and most don't. they know the doctrines. and they know the flagship verses that form the foundation of those doctrines, but they do not know themselves "what scripture says" about the whole issue. and many times, i think people are afraid to look.

in the end, i think that's i was considered dangerous by the leadership. it wasn't because i didn't know anything. that was the first assumption.
"how often do you read your bible?"
"2-8 hours a week."

they weren't quite sure what to do with that answer. it was almost as if they had to backpeddle because they were sure that the "problem" was that i just wasn't being "grounded in the word."

the real problem, they soon realized, was that i had read too much. the doctrines. the traditions. the beliefs. the tried and tested traditions and values. they no longer held sway. they had lost their power.

that's why i love reading my bible. there's just something about sharing the experiences of these people with them. the experience of being tapped by a "divine other being", that you can't really comprehend, who is asking you to do outrageous things that make no sense to anyone. reading these stories helps me make sense of the crazy things the spirit asks me to do in these modern days. that's how i read it now.

i know, i know. this is already another mammoth comment. but i would like to do something first before i go. i would like to introduce you all to a regular attender here at something else... he's actually been here longer than valorosa. since the earliest of the exfoliations days.

he's not a flashy member, but faithfully, post after post, he comes in and sits down and listens. he prefers to wear black, silently slip in the side door, and sit in the back. we usually have our mouthes buried in snacks and conversation and don't notice.

but little bro, i would love to hear your perspective on the bible, and what you think about it, precisely for the reasons you may think you don't want to share them here.

i want to hear your perspective being out of our parents' house, and never having become a "christian", and coming to your own faith in a more natural, homogenous way. what does a person like you think about the bible? how do you view it?

i'm seriously curious and VALUE HIGHLY anything you have to say. you are one of my favorite people out of 6 billion because i love your perspective on life. of course, it's up to you.

in fact, from all appearances, it looks to these guys like i'm talking to thin air. so if you don't wish to say anything, you have the freedom to not. all that will happen is that i end up with michelle turning to nate, rolling her eyes, and rotating a stiff index finger in a small circular motion near her right temple.

right before she swipes the last glazed donut.

word. much love.

Lesley said...

hey jon, just checked out your profile ,didnt realize you lived in the States. I am in good old Australia. I had a look on a map to see exactly you location, are u anywhere near minneapolis. I often go on John Pipers site Desiring God, have u ever been there?

Susan said...

Hey Lesley I'm in Australia too. You don't seem to have a profile. Whereabouts are you?

I've read John Piper's book Desiring God and wrote a book review here. The comments are quite interesting too!

Lesley said...

Hi Susan, I am new to this so I have only just done a profile. I will have a look on your blog asap.

Lesley said...

Hi Susan, have had a look at your site, what a breath of fresh air you are. Am looking forward to reading your stuff on the sovereignty of god, a much negelected and misunderstood topic in our comfortable western christianity. I will also take a look at your bible study site that looks great. tks

Susan said...

Oh, so you are from Perth, Lesley (excuse us Jon, while Lesley and I have a chat!). I was in Perth about six weeks ago for the Hopman Cup. It's a lovely city. Hope to see you, Lesley, around my blog(s) sometime.

One Voice of Many said...

jon - that i end up with michelle turning to nate, rolling her eyes, and rotating a stiff index finger in a small circular motion near her right temple.

lol - it sounds like you've picked up on my sense of "tilt"!
made me laugh...

Nate said...

Love all of the chatting, and yes Michelle DID take the last glazed. So, I got stuck with the halloween colored sprinkles. I ate it mind you, but, it just wasn't glazed.

Anyway, one of my thoughts has been coming to the origination of everything. Brought about by Barry at the original conversation at Heather's. He continually said, "God is light, without darkness. With your post above, you have shown that God has a different relationship to the dark side than traditionals like to teach. OR how people like their God to be. The reason this myth persists, is they want the "fluffy bunny God", not the "I'm gonna throw a bunch of people in the lake of fire" God. Fluffy bunnies are much nicer. But God is the Lord of Lords, King of Kings. He is a ruler, and rulers must be strong, or they lose their kingdom. That is why he is sovereign.

Anyway, origination of evreything. If God created everything, in my mind, he could have made it possible that no evil could be done by any of his creations. With this in mind, why would he A)allow satan to continue, he could just unmake him and B)why does he allow horrible things to happen? What is his sphere of influence? More like, what will he get involved in, and not get involved in? I guess that is the question that I would like to ponder with this comment. What are everyone's thoughts?

One Voice of Many said...

See? That's where I stay too (nate). Just how involved is God, really, in all of the stuff.

:chewing happily on that last glazed:

Lesley said...

Your question , just how involved is god in everything? Wow you have opedned a huge can of worms. There is no way this can possibly be answered in a 5 minute blog, its good to throw around thoughts etc but you really have to find out for yourself.
We lost a really close friend 4 years ago to skin cancer, diagnosed one day , dead six weeks later, this really hit us hard. We then began studying the sovereignty of god in our home group, this went on for weeks and we often have to revisit it. This is probably the question you are really asking "is god sovereign over ALL things?" If you are really serious about this then it will take some time, if not then you will probably believe what most people do that bad stuff just happens. I found John Piper a great source on this subject and look for people who have gone thru the fire like Corrie Ten Boon, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Joni Eareckson Tada, not people who only have a theory. There is plenty of info on the net, you will be kept busy though and may not like some of what you read, but I hope God gives you your answers.

Susan said...

Lesley right it is a huge can of worms. So just a couple of thoughts:
1. God became man - that to me is total involvement.
2. When horrible things happen it is our faith that is "on trial". Will we believe God is good when we can't see it?

... though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith ... may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour .. 1 Peter 6-7

and also ...

Does Job fear God for nothing? Job 1:9 Trials tested whether we have ulterior motives for having faith in God. Not that God doesn't know but rather we often don't know our real motives.

erin peres said...

nate, i also struggle with similar can god be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent (i believe that's a widely held christian view) and seperate himself from darkness at the same time? isn't it entirely possible that god is both? i don't mean it in a sinister way, but in an all encompassing way. i have often grappled with the concept of living "outside" of god's presence, which is supposed to be "hell", whether or not you are actually living. but how is it possible to live "outside" of god's presence at all? my answer (probably a staggeringly uneducated one) is that you can't. i enjoy nate's picture of a "fluffy bunny god" and at one point in my christian walk, i refused to believe that god could cause suffering or grief because that wasn't his nature, but that all bad (or percieved bad) was a result of an attack from "the enemy". since i have abandoned that idea (years ago) i have actually gone through more grief, struggle, heartbreak, etc. than i ever had. only now, i can't distinguish between light and dark sometimes because i tend to just see things through a "god" filter. i don't know if i'm making myself clear at all or if i just sound like a blithering idiot. i guess what it boils down to for me, is that i do believe that god is everywhere, in all, above all, and through all. in subscribing to that belief, i recently had to come to terms with the fact that i don't think i believe in "good vs. evil" or "light vs. darkness". i find more peace in life when i just allow myself to realize that god is in control and say "ok...all i know is that i don't know much...and that's allright with me."

Nate said...

Lesley, The points that you bring up about Corrie Tin Boom and others is a good one. I see the prints of God all over my life. Such as recently, I got an old tax bill from a sold business. My end will come to $3829.50. Did my taxes, and I am getting back, $3821. That is a very definate print. I truly believe that God watches out for all those that are His. But what about the NON-Corrie Tin Booms. The John Smiths of the world, that are not God's, what influence does he exert in their lives? Does he just allow things to happen for them, no real protection or providence? Or does he always have His hand in all lives?

Valorosa said...

Erin Peres! it is so nice to see you here :-)

You too, the other Erin, but we really don't hear enough from this fine Mrs. Peres.

I just wanted to comment on one of your comments.

but how is it possible to live "outside" of god's presence at all? my answer (probably a staggeringly uneducated one) is that you can't.

I have had a long cold look at this. I'm sure I am not the only one. Just want to know what you think.

There was a time in my life that I was hurt beyond repair, so I thought. A place that we all can relate to ... And I was angry that the Lord who I had so eagerly accepted as my own and had done my best to serve had allowed horrible things to come into my life. In fact most of my "Christian" life has been filled with emotional pain. Joys as well, but over the top emotional pain along with it. Could really have done without it. :-)

I had been angry with the Lord once before when I was a young girl and my parents were going through stresses that they weren't handling well ... there was much arguing and fear in my young heart that they would divorce. I remember thinking that God could not possibly be real. I stomped off to my room telling my Mom that I didn't believe in God any more.

Her words followed me and hit their mark. "Well then God Help you!"

That night I awoke from a dream ...
I was in my bed and a fire had engulfed my bed. I awoke when I felt the flames begin to burn me. There was a presence in my room ... blacker than black. Fear raced through me ... this is what it feels like living separate from Love.

The second time I felt like leaving Him was a little different ... complete emptiness awaited me as I looked away from the flock. As I planned my life without Him. I no longer feared the blackness, I no longer cared whether I lived or died.

Emptiness ... No love,no hope not even a speck. Nothingness.

Separation from God ...

I'm thinking that He isn't IN everything although I think He is responsible for everything and has created everything .... there is a place where He withdraws Himself and is just not there.

The void.

Susan said...

Does he just allow things to happen for them, no real protection or providence? Or does he always have His hand in all lives?

Yes Nate, I believe He always has His hand in all lives. A quote I love from the Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson:

Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand,
outstretched caressingly?

Lesley said...

Nate, whilst there is definately a distinction in the scriptures between the righteous and the unrighteous, it would be true to say that the common grace of god is bestowed upon all mankind, so for the John Smiths of this world who do not belong to him, common grace is extended to them, the very fact that they live and breath is evidence of that, and we dont know what god is doing in their lives to bring them to himself. But yes I would believe god is in control of all things , all people in order to bring glory to himself, and whilst things may become extremely difficult as Erin has shared with us , I dont think we will fully understand this side of heaven how glorified god is when we continue to trust him and cry out to him in the midst of our troubles. I love this......

erin peres said...

wendy, thanks very much for sharing your experiences :) i admit i have felt despair and emptiness countless times throughout my life, but have never felt the same "void". i have felt hopeless and overwhelmed from time to time, but still have been able to feel the spirit of god nudging me in a way. i guess i've never felt completely abandoned by god, but have been confused by him and even angry at times when i feel i should have been able to rely on the presence of his spirit, but felt that i couldn't connect, or "plug in" if you will. i don't usually comment on such things in the blogger community because i feel grossly undereducated, and cannot speak of or even grasp certain concepts that are talked about. my husband is an extremely intelligent cerebral type, and often after reading his blog or talking to him, my brain starts to overheat and i just end up zoning out with a slackened jaw and a far off look in my eyes! i do want to be involved and i follow along when i can, but i try no to speak too much of things that are out of my league......i'm a work in progress. thanks for listening :)

Nate said...

Mrs. Peres, (just to keep the Erins seperated.) I think that what helps me DEFINE what I know, is helping another to understand what I believe. So in your, self professed undereducated way, you cause us to justify our beliefs. Not just to come up with something and say, that it is real, when there is no proof. You are valuable to discussions exactly like this because of that fact. So feel free to join in any time.

I will go this far and say, that I believe he is active in any persons life that actually believes there is a God. But for those that have completely rejected him. I don't know. Is grace there for any and all. Of course. But grace is not what I mean. I mean, taking an active roll like he did with Job. We are often put into trials to be taught. He constructs those things for our betterment. Does he do that for those that will not ever be better for it? The promises and inheritances in the bible are only for those that are his.

jON said...

is god speaking to everyone all the time? yes, i think so. and i think, at some level, a lot of people know it. they just don't know it.

god never promised that we would never suffer. he only promised to be with us "in the midst of suffering."

but the over-arching question that i thought you were asking before, nate, and one i am sure will make michelle perk up with interest is this:

although we may be able to see things as "tests" and "trials" that god is the architect of, is he the architect of all suffering for everyone?

i.e. is he the architect of suffering for the 11 year old taiwanese girl sold into prostitution?

mrs. peres, thanks for sharing. good to see you here always. as you know, i value and treasure your viewpoint. it is always welcome and valid in this place.

lesley, i'm glad you're hanging out with us. i'm also glad that you're enjoying yourself so much. hey, i've got nothing but time in this place. this conversation can take as long as you like. which is what i enjoy so much about the conversations in blogosphere. they are here when you're ready to get back to them.

you can think about it all day and really meditate on it, and then come back to the conversation at your leisure. and we're all here together talking about it still. even though, in reality, it is different times and places.

you're fifteen hours in the future from me at this very moment in real time. that never stops amazing me when i stop and think about it.

wendy, i have felt this "void" you speak of for a few moments in my life. but, to be honest, i'm not sure if it was real or imagined. was i ever really in danger of being without god? or was i so afraid of it that i made it happen in my mind? all the while, however, not truly outside of the covering. only believing the lies, at the moment, that i was.

i mean, as a little girl growing up in that environment, you know how "wrong" what you said was. so your mind probably istantly transported you into the "reality" that i'm sure you were convinced you were going to be "doomed to."

but do you think god really believed a little girl, in a fleeting moment of anger, meant that she could live forever without her love?

really? look at you now... semicolonhyphenrightparenthase

i think that people who reject god don't know what they're saying. and i think god knows that.

susa, thanks for including the link about desiring god. i had totally forgotten about that conversation. which also lead me to refind this conversation.

good times.

Lesley said...

jon, thanks for having me . As you can imagine even though we are a big country down under, we are no where near as big as the states in population. And as far as christianity goes we dont have anywhere near as much happening here as you do , so I am quite excited to chat with you people over there as you can imagine now that we all have internet you can find out so much more of what goes on in other parts of the world. How do you cope with such diversity, I am relieved to know that I am talking to people who do believe that god is in control and allows suffering , but I know sometimes I can become overwhelmed with the fact that everytime you turn around there is some new movemant happening or the latest number 1 christian book on the market that everyone gets into and often amounts to nothing. If it is like that for me here in Aus. how is it for you guys. I am interested to know. Also the time difference , yep that spins me out too.

Valorosa said...

" i think that people who reject god don't know what they're saying. and i think god knows that."

I think many times that is right ... but the second time I had had enough of "learning" I did know, and wanted out so to speak.

This is when I felt the void. It was not fearful ... it was heartbreaking. He was gracious enough to let me look and quietly stood by as I made up my mind.

That is when I really finally understood the depth of His love for me.

jON said...

if you wouldn't mind baring yourself for the group, i would be very interested to hear more about your thoughts and circumstances around this "void" moment. if, as you say, such a place exists, i personally would find it helpful to hear more about your first-hand experience.

One Voice of Many said...

jon -
Yes your re-stating the question did catch my eye. However, I still don't see any stabs at an answer for that question. That's one I'd love to see some resolution to.

Sorry I've flaked out of the conversation. I've been able to be home with my family the past four days - doing home school, library trips, play dates -- essentially heaven for me to get to do that. I'm back at work today. Picture me with my head on my desk, sobbing and asking "why the F...?!" and you'll have an adequate image of my mood.

So - now that I'm back plopped in this cage, I'll catch up on reading so starve off the feeling of going ape-shit in here. lol


jON said...

yes, michelle, i noticed no one wanted to take a stab at answering that particular question. i only have moments before i have to leave for work, so i can't elaborate yet. hopefully someone else might give it a shot before i get home.

jON said...

and folks, if you could keep my mom in prayer, that would be exceptionally appreciated. she is ill right now and feeling overwhelmed with everything that needs to be accomplished before she moves at the end of this month.

lesley, since you enjoy talking scriptue so much, perhaps you would enjoy joining in the weekly bible study that susan hosts. and since it is being hosted in austrailia, you don't even need to travel back in time to participate!

Valorosa said...

It's interesting with Job that God did not actually DO the dirty work. He lifted the hedge of protection that was barring Satan from getting anywhere near Job. Is God responsible for what went down? Absolutely. If you simply follow along with what is written there there is no other logical conclusion you can come to.

""scripure tells us ""

Jon, how else does someone relate what is in the scriptures ... another way would be to say 'according to the Bible' ... which is one I use as I am letting people know that this is where I have heard whatever it is I am going to say. Not all people who say "scripture tells us" are manipulating just teaching but I hear ya ... the scriptures have been used to manipulate bodies of people for many many years and still are in the wrong hands.

In fact this is one of the lessons in Job.
Listen to scripture ;-)

I know you know this as you have read it thoroughly but for the sake of others here,

And what does He say to Job in the end of it all?

"Brace yourself like a man;I will question you, and you shall answer me.
"Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God's,
and can your voice thunder like his?...

Then Job replied to the LORD :

"I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.

You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves.

My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.

You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and

the LORD accepted Job's prayer.

Do you think Job lived in the day of the dino?

And it looks here that scripture tells us that He didn't always accept our prayers pre cross.

But it looks like, post cross, if we come to Him in the name of the One who sacrificed His human form for us in a most painful way ... in His youth, no less... we are always heard.

scripture tells us :-) that would be around your age Jon.

Valorosa said...

Just back looking for 'the question'

Father we come humbly to you in the name of Jesus Christ and ask that you comfort Jon's Mom and give her strength to battle the illness that has visited her. Send more help to her side and laughter to her soul.


This is a big deal to be moving so soon. She has not even been able to adjust to the loss of your Dad yet.

One Voice of Many said...

valorosa -
you said... . we are always heard.

If I am always heard, yet responded to by Him so very rarely, I feel very ignored and neglected. I think I'd rather think that maybe He didn't hear me instead of knowing that He hears me but still does not move/act/answer/impress/whatever.

Don't get me wrong; I've heard that taught all of my life so I can't help but think that it's true. But that doesn't help my frustration with Him either.

Can anyone throw me a rope on this one?


Valorosa said...

Hey Michelle

I have to stick by the fact that we are always heard ... because I have experienced this ... there have been many times when I have felt like you ... today was one of those days.

But really when I look back there has always been an answer to my pleas. Timing, now, has been an issue.

I remember the times that answers have shown up or requests have been fulfilled ... and it often was when I wasn't thinking about it anymore.
And sometimes long after I had asked.

There have been times that I have asked for things that would not have been good for me if they had been granted and I am grateful that they weren't.

I'm not sure ... it is hard to 'hear' out here in this forum.
But am I seeing anger from you?
Not toward me but just anger in general.

Erin said...

Just here getting caught up, interested in following this conversation, but I have been super busy and haven't been able to check in much till now.

One Voice of Many said...

Valorosa -

I think I am still angry. If not full out angry, definitely frustrated. But most assuredly not at you.

Valorosa said...

It is really ok to be angry ... our God is understanding to the nth degree.

I was angry for a few years ... and now when I look back on that time, the Lord had stood by me through all kinds of crap that I'm surprised He didn't hang me out to dry for. He never walked away, saw me through the trouble I was angry about and brought me to this new place of love and trust that I would not have been otherwise.

How deep has the desire been to serve the Lord in your heart? Because I have been thinking lately that the things that come our way to ready us for His coming and the wedding feast are directly related to the cry of our hearts to serve Him in a very intense reality.

Just a thought I've had for awhile and have never really voiced it 'til now.

What do you think?

One Voice of Many said...


I've heard that as well -- that the greater the calling on your life, the greater the refining that has to go on in your life to prepare you.

Let's take a soldier in boot camp for example. The first steps are to break that soldier down physically and mentally with whatever miserable boot camp conditions allowed by law. BUT the redeeming quality (at least supposedly) is that after that process, the soldier is then built back up to be a useful and effective member of the unit.

We have been torn down about as far as we can go. Today is even a lower low for me than has been for quite a while. If we don't see a point of being built back up and restored for a purpose, how can we not lose hope? How can we not grow bitter and tattered? How can we not eventually say "none of this was ever real"?

Sure I can say "well the timing isn't right". There's always an answer like that which makes things seem bearable but how long can one be expected to trudge forward with "maybe soon, God will move" before assuming, no... no...He won't. ?


Valorosa said...

Expectations need to die.
Our ideas of what He is doing need to drop away.
He doesn't operate like we think He does ... and will break away those things that you are holding on tightly to.

I asked you this ...

How deep has the desire been to serve the Lord in your heart?

This is something God and you need to grapple with.

I read once of a Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and came out of it an atheist ... then there were those whose faith was made stronger.

What was the reason for the one to believe more and the one to stop believing at all after living through such horror?

One Voice of Many said...

Valorosa -
lol - I think that you and I have hijacked this thread. Think we should move it over to my site?

At any rate - to answer your question -- my entire life, thus far, has been dedicated to the desire and hope of serving him 100% of my time in the aspect of worship and music ministry and baking casseroles and keeping kids while parents needed time out ... etc.
My desire to serve Him has not been wanting. His response to provide for that avenue to be pursued has been very lacking. So the normal charasmatic would say "well, you must have missed God". Fine, which is why we are trying to regroup. But nothing else works out either. We can't go forward, we can't go backward. We're just stuck in a holding pattern.

The other question -- what makes one come out an athiest and one come out a firm believer? Frankly - I think it's personality. How does an individual personality respond to pressure: do you run toward faith or do you decide it's a worthless endeavour. It all depends on the personality of the individual. God, assumingly knows what each of us can withstand considering our individual make-up should, AT LEAST, take THAT into consideration as he cranks up the fire or turns His back.

Sorry -- lots of wine is egging on my frustration. I'm obviously angry now, huh? (blushes)


Valorosa said...

I don't think Jon minds and I am going to find that question soon :-)

What does this mean?

"His response to provide for that avenue to be pursued has been very lacking."

One Voice of Many said...

valorosa -
that means that we gave up lots of opportunities to serve Him in a full time ministry capacity only for things to go completely sour all the way around. "doors closed" so to speak. It's not that we didn't have a strong desire to serve Him. It's just that church relationships, jobs, .. everything worked against that... in spite of us being told how very much 'called' we were.

Oh's just such a long story. And honestly, it doesn't even matter now. Sorry I can't be more frank. I just don't want to rehash details.

Valorosa said...

I'm sorry you have been so disappointed. It's one of life's pains ...

I pray that you will be able to look back and find some good things about this time in your life. That is yet to come ... it's probably hard to see right now.

Valorosa said...

Just need to answer this one:

You have said
""Is. 7 ... yet the passage goes on further to tell us that there will be a time when this same boy, immanuel, will not know enough to choose the good and reject the bad. so does that mean that jesus wasn't sinless? or does it mean that we don't really know what sin is?""

I see this much differently. If you would go over it again with me, Jon.

15"He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.

So there IS a time that He knows to choose good.

16"For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

This is speaking of Jesus as a very small child ... neurons not quite functioning at total capacity as yet. His brain not running full tilt. This is not talking about Christ as a man. Children learn the rights and wrongs of life very early. Some say before they are 5 years old.

God in the flesh had to grow like we did. Had to learn how to maneuver a human body. How to perceive the world with His immature brain. He did not have an adult brain when He was born. God chose to experience US, His creation from birth to death.

Scripture tells us ;-)that He is the lamb of God ... a sacrifice without defect, completely innocent.

jON said...

i agree with you 100%. i most certainly believe it is talking about jesus as a small boy and acknowledging his need to grow and learn, just like the rest of us.

it just flies in the face of the doctrinal teachings of a "sinless savior." it forces me to re-evaluate what sin is, and just what it might mean to be "sinless." (the jury's still out on that one)

because, according to this, there was a time in his life, albeit young, when he didn't know any better. but he is said to be "sinless" nontheless. so either we are WAY too hard on ourselves and our expectations of ourselves, or we are wrong about jesus.

Susan said...

I think we confuse sinless and childhood irresponsibility. So I think Jesus was sinless but still very much a child. When Jesus starts his ministry it becomes obvious that no one suspected he was God's Son which says to me a sinless life is not obvious. A sinless life is a lot about attitude and motive and less about outward behaviour.

Lesley said...

hi guys , just dropped in , been busy lately but lots going on as I can see. I have been looking at Isaiah 7 , very interesting chapter, I think there are two things happening here though, one is the prophecy of Immanuel the other has to do with Israel. It seems that in amongst what is happening with Israel there is often stuff about the coming messiah also, so we have to look carefuly at the passage and somehow seperate these things. I found a really good sight that gives a good commentary on this chapter for anyone wishing to look further
and I think it is safe to say that Jesus was definately without sin 2 Corinth 5v21 "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us" which he took upon himself on the cross. He was tempted in many ways and he came to identify with us , but never in fact sinned. Thank god for that where would that leave us having a sinful savior.

Valorosa said...

1 John 5:17
All wrongdoing is sin,

James 4:17
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

So I guess it depends on what 'wrong'
is, since they are synonymous in scripture.

jON said...

precisely. what exactly, to john, was "wrongdoing"? i seriously doubt that when john said this he was talking about not following paul's writings to the is the common conception today.

which is one of those paradoxes i'm talking about. john, who said, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us" (one of our evangelical favorites for beating ourselves up with) is the same guy who said just moments later, "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (one we don't talk about as much, except for the purpose of inducing guilt and condemnation whenever we, or another person, fail to uphold the whole of "the code of proper behavior" as defined by your current church or denominational leadership. sounds a lot more like law than grace to me, but there you have it.

which makes me wonder if what is commonly taught in modern, western, evangelical cirlces as "sin" is actually sin. i agree with susan that it has more to do with inward attitudes than outward actions. those things DO come hand-in-hand often times, but not as a rule. it can be possible to fake outward expressions to pretend there is an inward change. which, in my opinion, is what most of "christianity" has become.

the thought that it is easier to listen to a pastor, or read a book by a well respected author, than it is to humble yourself and listen to holy spirit direct you.

at least, that's how it was for me. and i know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that many others are caught in this same trap. they just don't know it. or they do know it but are afraid to acknowledge it to themselves. because it means calling into question everything you've ever been taught about god by humans. and it can be a hard thing to come to terms with the fact that you may have been lied to.

and of course, as many of us here have experienced, when you want to point out that fact, you will find yourself not very welcome any more.

but in the end, it has to be about inward parts more than outward expressions, or i don't think that jesus would be able to boil down 4000 years and thousands of pages to one statement. "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for THIS is the Law and the Prophets."

and at the end of the day, although many may be making sure they are not masturbating, not smoking, not drinking, not using drugs, not listening to "ungodly" music, not swearing, not watching R rated movies, not dancing, etc., are they treating others the same way that they want to be treated?

because THAT is what will make you give a drink of water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and visit the sick and imprisoned. not because you're supposed to, but because if you were in their situation, you would want someone to do that for you.

as to the passage in isaiah... lesley, i checked out the link you offered, and sadly, for me, there was no discussion about my question. i hope you're not insulted, but i'm not surprised. i am used to not having my questions addressed since i was a very young child in sunday school. and most likely, when reading this passage, they didn't even notice it.

but, once again, according to this passage, it says there was a time when jesus did not "know enough to refuse evil." don't get mad at me, that's just what it says. so i continue to grapple with the whole of the bible to try to understand it.

which is why i don't care for the phrase "according to scripture." because usually, in my experience, what follows is not truly what the bible says on the subject. what usually follows are "a few key doctrinal verses." and since the person speaking them has usually bought into the doctrine, and believe it to be true, discussion is impossible.

rarely, when someone has spoken to me about "according to scripture" do they take the paradox into account, and give the full picture of the tension of the picture that scripture truly gives on most subjects.

michelle, we'll chat at your place, ok?

Susan said...

I read Isaiah 7:16 in the Message, it says, "By the time the child is twelve years old, able to make moral decisions, ..."

jON said...

still suggesting that there was a time period when he was not able to make those moral decisions.

thanks for sharing this and adding it. i don't have my own copy of the message. i gave mine away...

Susan said...

I still thinking you are taking it too literally, Jon :)

jON said...

perhaps. i'm not really basing any sort of doctrine of my own on this, it just makes me wonder...

it just jumped out at me one day, and now it doesn't go away whenever i read this passage. and as i said earlier, it doesn't make me question jesus or the validity of his sacrifice for us, it just makes me wonder what sin is. or if perhaps there is an age at which a person is not responsible for their actions.

just seems strange that god, who knows all possibilities, would feel it necessary to add this to the statement. since it is god speaking through isaiah for himself, you would think he wouldn't have even said it unless it held some sort of importance.

maybe to let us know we're all together in the need to grow and learn. and that we're all going to make mistakes. accroding to this, even the word of god turned human needed a period of adjustment and learning.

rather than shaking my faith, it helps me to feel better about myself.

Susan said...

Just throwing Hebrews 5:8 into the mix before I go. It tells us Jesus learnt obedience.

I will be away for a few days.

jON said...

thank you, susan! it is this kind of back and forth that i find so very helpful as well as necessary.

enjoy yourself while you're away.

Valorosa said...

Yep ... this is why we are all here.

Every group or gathering of people will eventually follow an unwritten code set by the group. It is very disappointing. Freedom is lost.

Unfortunately, most church groups no matter how well meaning they start out, fall into this demand for "external" squeaky clean behaviour. It stifles freedom and the people resort to hiding their imperfections and troubles. Then there is no healing because then there is no confession of sin to each other.

Have you read my latest blog post? It's the latest of church behaviours I have run into, that breaks my heart.

Acceptance of everyone who belongs to the Lord is simply not done.

Self righteousness is rampant ... and I'm afraid it always has been in the organized structures we call church.

Valorosa said...

although we may be able to see things as "tests" and "trials" that god is the architect of, is he the architect of all suffering for everyone?

I think I finally found the question.

Wow ...


Not sure ... but by the very fact that God sees and knows and has the means to stop all the madness around us and does here but not there ... well to me that makes Him responsible for us all.

There is Newton's Third Law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Perhaps this is what goes on here.


Nate said...

The beginning of this conversation was at Deconstructed Christian where two guys kept saying God is light, and there is no evil in him. I completly disagree.

He killed the entire population of the world, excluding Noah and family. Yeah, punishing them, as a father would. But there are other punishments to give.

If he is guiding each life, then he is responsible for each rape that occurs, for that is in his plan for them.

He is responsible for the torture of the innocent.

He is responsible for the genocide in Rwanda and Darfur.

He is responsible for the Blood Diamonds.

I could go on, but it is not necessary.

I do not believe that God is THAT evil. That is why I do not believe that he guides each life at ALL times. Does he attempt to make in roads to all lives at one time or another? I believe yes. But if rejected, they are not under his protection, and then what happens happens. Wild west time baby.

That is my perception. But as always when speculating on God, the only assurance I have about God, is that I am wrong.

Valorosa said...

This takes me back to Newton's Third Law and the things I said before about the absence of God.

I really think there are places we can go where he has withdrawn His protection.

He talks about His light going out in certain places and He talks about what will happen to a nation in certain circumstances all throughout the Bible.

He made the light and he made the darkness... night and day. When it is stated that there is no darkness in Him I think that means a totally different kind of darkness ... I think it means an absence of Himself if that is possible and I think it is.

Yes, Nate, I agree that the closest relationship we have here to teach us about God the Father is the undying love of a parent for a child no matter what that child grows to be. The parent will always hope for the best for them until they are BOTH old and grey :-)

jON said...

not sure if anyone still checks in here or not, but i'll talk all the same.

this is a perfect example of the vision i was given two and a half years ago.

but what began here and spread here, i believe was something truly inspired and wonderful.