Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Heather

I began telling Jess my own personal faith story in the last post. This is her response to that post and to your comments. I'll post my response to her questions tomorrow.
(My email from Jess)
My first reactions were:
1. The ladies who commented were very, very sweet.

2. I got nervous about posting under my blogger name (I could create an anon but don't really want to do that) because I still felt, just from reading their responses, that although some say they came to understand as an adult...they still sound so..."church-savvy" (in a completely unoffensive way) I'm afraid I still won't be able to relate.

My first thought I wanted to share with YOU was about the Bible. With a one sentence description on my feelings and struggles with it: it's scribed by men from men from men...and to me it becomes the "telephone cup" game of sorts where you pass along a message so many times that "I love to eat bananas" becomes "May I shovel the feet of camels". Know what I mean? I do believe THIS about the Bible - the essential meaning and lessons give a great "to do" list for living a good, honest, meaningful and CARING life. Please share your story about how your views on it changed, as you see fit and when you want. I'd love to hear more of that.

My second thoughts were to ask these questions if anyone is willing to elaborate and share:

Heidi - Thank you for being honest and not feeling "put off" by the fact that those who have always known are somewhat of a mystery to me. LOL Hopefully in time I can relate to what you say with regard to this topic.

Sara@butterville - What types of "other" things had you tried and how did you become certain that HE was the one moving things in your life, that it wasn't just "life" happening?

Kazzy - How do you experience a "two way" relationship with God? How are you certain that what's happening is two way?

Growin' with it - Just reading "it will always be a process" and "I don't ever expect to figure out God" helps more than you know. I'm a SOLID THOUGHT person. I have to have definitive answers and solutions. I hate leaving things open-ended, and I fear that this search will still feel that way once I am done or give up.

Brooke - If she is willing to share any of her experiences that solidified the knowledge, I'd love to learn of them. The quote was wonderful, thank you for sharing. I think it'll be something I hang onto for awhile.

Lastly, for you since you mentioned it and it's something my husband repeats as what he KNOWS and feels about religion - accepting Jesus as your Savior. I understand why we should do this, in the most general sense. But other than saying "sure, he might have offered up his son under the presumption we'll be saved because of this act"....how did anyone come to FEEL this acceptance and that you were "saved" because of it? I follow the story, I think I believe that Jesus existed on Earth as a man to share what he believed was the word of his Father...but from here it gets gray for me. I hope this doesn't qualify as blasphemy - that would really suck. LOL

I will stop now...you talk about YOU rambling...sheesh. I am not even going to spell check!
Thank you for giving me a forum/sanctuary of sorts to read and talk about this but still feel like I'm under my blankets. I've already been told I'm going to hell back in college because I didn't know what I believed, and I really don't feel like hearing it anymore, even if I AM doomed to it. LOL



Sara@ Butterville said...

"Other" things. I came from a Mother who believes in Psyschics. I had an older brother who died 10 days after he was born. I was asking questions about him and she blurted out to me that SHE believed that HIS soul and MY soul were the SAME soul. I was 13. I had WAY more questions. She began talking of life paths and lessons each of us need to learn to fufill our purpose. These were strange and confusing beliefs to me. I grew up knowing who Jesus is. The stories of the bible were like Mother Goose and fairtales. When I lived in Boston I sought out a local witch in Salem. THAT was weird. How did I know God was working: I decided after years and years of abuse from my family that I no longer wanted to be a Register. (My maiden name) I was going to change it. I had a new name all picked out, and went to meet a friend for lunch, she had the papers I needed to file to change my name. Prior to this date, I had a slew of bad relantionships, awful really. How could anyone love me...On this DAY that I was to begin the name change process GOD bought me another way...If you want to and have time read my post "The Lead In" on my blog. It will tell the story. Again God worked in my life when I got pregnant with my second child that story is coming Jan 1. (As it will be his 4th birthday.)
My mother also thinks a bit like you on the bible being passed down by men. Only she goes a step farther and outright says "Men are liers and put anything they WANT in it."
I dislike "reading" the bible. Instead, I say a little pray something like "Lord, what will you reveal to me today." Or "Lord, What truth will it be." Or even "Lord, what will you have me work on?" I open the book to aomewhere in the NEW testament. (I am still a baby Christian) And 9 times out of 10 that there is a verse in where I'm reading that "tings my heart."
Example: Howie (my dad) is a selfish and bitter man. He is mean. Abusive with words. Hate spews from his mouth. I was really struggling to come to terms with cutting him out of my life. But I got growing up all you have is family. Family this family that. But MY family didn't treat or ACT like what the WORD family means. The bible says "honor your mother and father." I was TORE up. I began talking outloud..."What is wrong with me. He doesn't love me. I can't keep doing this..." I opened the bible to this verse.
The proud and arrogant man, Mocker is his name; he bahave with over-whenning pride. Proverbs 21:24
I kept reading.
Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrel and insults are ended. Proverbs 22:10
These two verses spoke to my heart over and over again...every time I heard him say the lies I believed for so long, suddenly became silent as these words the words of GOD got louder and clearer. May I ask you what you think of these verses? DO they sound like they'd come from a man? Or do they sound like sound judgment, common sense?
I'm not trying to sound "preachy" I want to know how they sound to YOU. I know that they were healing for me. I have not spoken to Howie for 2 1/2 years now. I can honestly say I have NO regret and my heart is healed of it.
I'd like, if I can, leave you with two more verses. These are two that I keep "posted" on my mirror and in my night stand to remind me:
ALl scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So that the 'person' of God may be throughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
(There is a verse about the armor of God too...I can share that later if you'd like) And lastly I'll leav you withGOd planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:40
I welcome your questions and will do my best to answer them as honestly as I can.
I am so honored to be a part of this searching for you. I am praying for you Jessica. And fear not I'm a babe in the christian woods.

Sara@ Butterville said...

I gave you the wrong post title.
The Meeting. But 'The Lead In' gives you a background to me, the meeting is the God working part.
In the defining moments section.

MidnightCafe said...

Jess, you're a wonderfully articulate person! And you're asking some of the really difficult questions. I appreciate your transparency here.

I have a couple of questions for you, if that's ok. I'd love to respond to the questions you're asking, but I have a huge tendency to give really long responses, and I want to know what you're getting at before I get going too far in the wrong direction. ;)

I'm wondering if looking for proof that God exists OR if you're more in the position of believing that there *is* a God but you're not sure how people have a relationship with that God. Maybe you're wondering about both.

And, clearly, you're wondering about the Bible...how we know that Bible is really God's word, how we know it hasn't changed over time...that sort of thing. My teenager, Vespera, has been asking lots of those types of questions over the past few years. I promise I'll get together a response to some of that over the next week. (My family is on Christmas break, and I can't promise to get much done this week.)

charrette said...

I just wanted to chip in that I was completely amused by your telephone game analogy with regard to the Bible, and yet I think there's a perceptive element of truth there that ought to be addressed. The Bible has been translated and re-translated over time, in hundreds of languages, and I'm sure there are some precious and wonderful parts that have been changed or lost over time. That doesn't bother me too much. The essence of its teachings -- its power, if you will -- is still very much intact. And the more I study the more it comes alive for me. I especially loved discovering, little by little, how everything in the old Testament, as well as the New, points to the coming of Jesus and his role as our Savior.

One approach that really works for me is to pick apart individual stories -- or even verses -- in this way: 1. Story - Get past the archaic language and find the story, whether it's a mere sequence of events or something more moving and memorable. 2. Skeleton - Boil that story down to the "bare bones", if you will. Ask, "What is really happening here?" Boil it down to subject and verb. You'll frequently find patterns this way that are keys to developing our own faith and relationship to God. 3. Specifics - Focus on a specific word or phrase. (Example: the word "Succor" literally means to run to their aid. that completely changed my view of God when it says He will succor us.) 4. Synthesis - Ask how this can apply to you, as an individual, today. Try to think of something similar in your own life and see if what you've read can make a difference, either in how you interpret that experience or how you'll face a decision. 5. See the Savior - What I've found is that virtually everything in scripture points to Jesus in some way or another, and the challenge is to find him in the less obvious passages. Sometimes those bring the best rewards.

Don't mean to sound like a Sunday School teacher here. Just don't want you to give up on the Bible. And for me the first step is to get beyond just reading and search for something deeper. That's when the Spirit can really come into play...not just to testify, but also to comfort and clarify.

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