J.T.,

You are not the only person that I have encountered that had a story similar to yours, but you are the first person that God put in my path in this manner.  I am doing my best to do what I have been called to do.  Based on what I heard in your video, you were raised in a Christian home that regularly attended church, Sunday school, small groups, youth activities, community outreach, mission trips, and the like, but you never felt connected to any of it.  As a matter of fact, you learned to resent it because there was never any choice given to you in regards to whether or not you wanted to participate.  All of your youth was filled with rules that were impossible to adhere to; you were taught that these rules and laws are all based on living life as a Christian.  Throughout all of it, you gained an impressive amount of head knowledge about the Bible and what it means to be a Christian.  This type of household and church environment has pushed an untold number of people away from Christianity…and rightfully so!  Let’s face it, who can live up to such standards?  We are meant to enjoy our lives and as inherently sinful individuals, we have a deep seeded desire to live and think outside of the proverbial “box”.  You were born into a box that says “Christian” on it.  Your box happened to be very restrictive in nature.  You can barely breathe in your box and if you dare to step out of it, you will be chastised, looked down upon, and in some cases completely shut off from your family because your free will is getting in the way of their legalistic view of what it means to be a Christian.  Stories like this break my heart.  I am so excited to have the opportunity to share the truth with you…a perfect stranger.  God certainly works in mysterious ways and this situation certainly fits that description.

There are so many Christians in this world that do not understand the concept of Grace.  Many Christian families live and act as they are above others.  They regularly show their inflated arrogance by applying immense pressure to their family members, especially their children, to conform to their perception of what it means to live life as a Christian.  This warped perception of Christianity is what I call being religious.  I can tell you in no uncertain terms that I am NOT religious and I detest the title.  Religious activities are activities, rules, and regulations created by man that do nothing but oppress, shame, and cause all types of problems within Christian families, churches, and/or communities.  Religious activities have ruined many very important relationships, especially the most important one…the relationship between a parent and their child.  The people who we are closest to are the ones that can hurt us the most.  Parents are on the TOP of the list as having the power to absolutely crush the heart and soul of their children.  This truth is one of many things in this world that absolutely saddens me.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.  Colossians 3:21, NASB

There is still time for all of your wounds to be healed, but they can only be healed through the power of God.  All of your intelligence and deep thought can’t solve this problem because this is a heart problem, not a head problem.  Read on…

You Must Receive The Holy Spirit, Whether You Have Been Called Or Not [WHAT?]

I realize they exist, but I have never been to a church that facilitated any type of mass acceptance of Jesus that is framed up to embarrass and or shame those who don’t come forward.  That is absolutely crazy and is wrong on so many levels.  Run from places like this; run as far away as you can get because these people are pretending to know what they are talking about, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves that will do nothing but push people away.  You were subjected to this.  All I can say is that it was wrong and it is in no way part of the path to your salvation.

Condemnation of ANY Type is WRONG

The core elements of Christianity are grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.  Anytime someone is condemning another person, they are sinning…nothing more.  There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that teaches us to condemn others.  Everything that you see that is wrong with Christianity is all being caused by unrepentant sin by individuals who have a warped perception of who God is, what it means to be a Christian, and the fact that no matter what we do we’re all inherently sinful and will NEVER stop sinning until the day that we die.  As much as I hate sin, I still do it.  The ultimate goal of being a Christian is to try to take on the attributes of Christ, but the reality is the we will never fully achieve it.  As we grow in our faith, we get stronger and we do have victories over our sin, but it still remains there like a perpetual thorn in our sides.  The awesome thing about my personal sin is that it constantly reminds me that I need Jesus to make it though each and every day.  I have all types of struggles just like everyone else in this broken world.  Any Christian who says otherwise and acts like they are above others because of their faith are completely missing the big picture.  We are called to be humble servants, last not first, and to bestow the same forgiveness and mercy that God showed us through Jesus Christ towards others.  God made the ultimate sacrifice for you and I through the Cross.  Christ received the full wrath of God when He was on the Cross being crucified.  The wrath that Jesus received was meant for you and I, but the nature of God was fully displayed on the Cross because He sacrificed His Son in our place which atoned for all of the sins of humanity…past…present…and future (the sins we haven’t committed yet).  How can anyone who understands the work that was performed on the Cross condemn another person for not living up to their religious standards?  The answer is simple…they are sinning when they do so.  Rise above this mindset and realize that faith in Christ is not some restrictive lifestyle that crushes those who don’t adhere to it.  Realize that it is just the opposite.  There is immense freedom through faith in Christ.  I can tell you that I was once a prisoner and I am now free.  I have great peace about my life, my future, and my past.  Without Christ, there is no peace.

A Strong Will Combined With Intelligence = A Tough Combination

I don’t know if you went to college or not, but you are obviously very smart.  Your posts, live streams, etc. show strong evidence of someone who has the ability to think on a very deep level.  I also perceive that you are very strong willed and opinionated.  I regularly come in contact with a large number of “educated” people in my life and work and many of them can’t process information on your level.  With great intelligence and a strong will comes a great struggle when it comes to accepting things that require faith.  I am a highly logical person who LOVES to solve problems.  I went to college because it was required to get the job I wanted, but I was born with the desire to fix things and to work on anything that is complex.  In case you are wondering, I have multiple college degrees.  I spent over a decade in college while working full time and raising a family (I am so glad it is behind me!).  I learned plenty of things in college, but the most important things that I know were learned by living life.  I am a huge supporter of higher education because our society is setup to reward those who choose to pursue an education, but college doesn’t make you intelligent.  I want to be clear about that.  Intelligence isn’t gained in school, it is only refined, but that same refinement can also occur outside of school.  As we refine our intelligence, we gain the increased ability to question things about the world around us.  Satan likes to use these things against us because he casts doubt in our minds towards the things of God.  I believe that your intelligence and ability to think increases the intensity of this struggle, but once you work your way through this, your intelligence will be used in a very different way.  Trust me, I have been there and somehow got through it.  I believe that you will as well.  I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this if I didn’t believe that God is going to perform a great work in you.

What Is Sin?

Sin is a term that is used by some to condemn others.  I resent that because actions of that type are sins themselves!  We are not in a position to judge one another, but as you’re well aware, some Christians make it their life mission to tell everyone what they are doing wrong and in some cases outright abuse people that they find offensive.  We are called to build each other up, not tear each other down.  If someone is struggling with a particular sin or in this case just needs a few more facts to fill in the gaps, we are called to help those who need it.

God gave us the Ten Commandments to ensure that humanity knows what sin is.  As I believe you are already aware, they are by no means the end of the line.  Jesus gave us a plethora of information that instructs us on how we ought to live.  You have read it many times (the 4 Gospels).  We are born into sin and live in a fallen world.  Thankfully, this world isn’t our final destination.  One of the huge arguments towards Christianity revolves around the argument of one religion above all of the rest that results in passage to Heaven while the others will result in Hell.  That argument is based on untruths that have been spread around by those who have no idea what they are talking about.  The fact is that religious activities and all that comes along with that coupled with the injection of Western society has created a version of Christianity this in many cases is Christless (there is a great book on this: Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church – Michael Horton).  Basically, we [Western society] have watered down the core of what Christianity is supposed to be according to Jesus and replaced it with a religious ‘show’ that is exclusive versus inclusive of everyone.  Jesus didn’t cater to any one group of people.  You might be thinking…yes he did, he singled out Israel (Jews), but if you dig deep into books like Romans, you will find that Gentiles (the rest of the world) were equally accepted as the sons and daughters of Christ.  My Sunday school class spent over a year studying Romans.  Here is a link to that study (Click Here…get somewhere comfortable and read through it).  To summarize, Jesus came to seek and save the lost from all peoples and nations.  No one is excluded based upon anything at all.  Anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t know what they are talking about; don’t listen them.  Consume the information from my Sunday school teacher and you will see this and other things very clearly.  Its too much to effectively explain in the space/time that we have in this arena.

Why Doesn’t YOUR Bible Make Sense?

The Holy Spirit gives you the power of discernment.  If you didn’t already know, the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity.  The word Trinity is not in the Bible; it is a word that man created to attempt to describe the relationship between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  When you are “saved”, the Holy Spirit will enter into your physical self (wild huh?).  At the moment this miracle happens, God will give you the ever-growing ability to discern his Word.  In English, the Bible will become VERY clear to you.  I tried reading it so many times throughout my life and it was literally gibberish to me.  After I finally realized who Jesus is and accepted Him as my Lord and Saviour, I not only understood what I was reading, but I actually WANTED to read it.  Sounds crazy, but it is completely true.

How can this be accomplished?

You can’t do what is written above without humbling yourself and having an open mind and heart towards God.  You have to have the desire to gain this information and enough faith in God to ask Him to bestow it upon you.  What I am saying is to pray something like this:

“God, please let me know who you are.  Please let me know that it is you speaking to me and not my preconceived notions of who you are.  I want to believe in you.  I want to know you on a personal level.  Please make the Bible clear to me.  I want to know if Jesus is who you say He is. –Amen.”  (Add any questions that you have to this prayer)

Please be patient for the answer to this prayer.  God will answer you in accordance with His will and in His time, but if you ask you WILL get an answer.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6, NASB

But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  2 Corinthians 3:14-16, NASB

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  John 14:6, NASB

Why Do We Believe The Bible?

Without a clear understanding of why we believe the Bible and what is written in it, Christianity crumbles into absolutely nothing.  This is an extremely important part of taking all of this information and pulling it together in a way that makes sense and is believable.  This is another one of those deep topics that a few paragraphs can’t even begin to touch.  Here is a documentary that summarizes it quite well.

A Lamp In The Dark – The Untold History Of The Bible ~ Full Documentary

I also recommend this book:

God’s Outlaw – The Story Of William Tyndale And The English Bible – Brian H. Edwards

The Inerrancy of Scripture

There are Scholars who spend their entire lives researching and correlating historical events that the world openly accepts that completely align with what is written in the Bible.  I am not a scholar, but I can reference a few books for you.  My favorite book on this topic was written by Lee Strobel.  He was an investigative court reporter who’s wife became a Christian.  Her new found faith nearly ruined their marriage because he was so against it.  In an attempt to prove her wrong, he set out to disprove the Bible and everything related to Jesus including his death, burial, and resurrection.  He interviewed scholars from all over the place and ultimately came to the conclusion that all of it is true.  He accepted Jesus and now spends his life spreading the Gospel to others.  The book is incredible and it includes references that you can research for yourself.

The Case for Christ – Lee Strobel

In Defense of Jesus: Investigating Attacks on the Identity of Christ – Lee Strobel

This is another GREAT resource if you’ve “Got Questions”

Got Questions

Grace

Christianity isn’t meant to be used to hammer people, but as  you are well aware, it can be used in that manner.  As I previously stated, that is nothing but Christians sinning, it is not what Christianity is about.  God gives us Grace on a daily basis.  Look at it this way.  We all commit sins every day.  I don’t care how hard you try, there will be something that happens during your day that isn’t in accordance with God’s Holiness.  Without missing a beat, He forgives you each time you transgress.  The awesome part of being a Christian is that you don’t have to dwell on this…at all!  God knows that we can’t live up to His standards which is why He pours out His Grace upon us on a continual basis.  The mindset that comes from a misunderstanding of this [hammering on people, living like a Nun, etc.] leads to legalism and a highly strict lifestyle that no one can or wants to partake in (religious activities!).  The point is not to worry about the mistakes that you make and to have peace in knowing that God fully understands everything about you.  Let’s face it, He created you and is completely in sync with your entire being.  There is one thing that God wants from you though.  He wants to have a personal relationship with you through Jesus.  I have a personal relationship with Jesus.  I know Him.  I seek Him.  He shows up during the most trying times and lets me know that He is with me.  It brings me to tears whenever He lets me know that He is near.  I love those moments and look forward to the next one!

Jesus is God and He Says So

You’ve read the Gospels plenty of times.  These are some verses were Jesus makes it clear that He is God (100% God and 100% man!).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.  Colossians 1:15-20, NASB

“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”  John 10:30-33, NASB

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”  John 4:25-26, NASB

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”  John 8:58, NASB (References Exodus 3:14)

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  John 20:28, NASB

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Matthew 28:18, NASB

This is a great example of what I am talking about:

Appearances of Christ . . . In Early Genesis?

by Bodie Hodge on October 1, 2013

Source: Click Here

“Mary and Joseph weren’t the first human beings to see Jesus Christ. In fact, that common perception reflects a deep misunderstanding about the Son of God’s central role throughout history.

When unbelievers think of Jesus, many strictly think of a man who lived about 2,000 years ago. Sadly, many Christians in the church pews adopt this same thinking. But when we do, we unwittingly devalue who Jesus really is.

Christ is fully man and yet fully God (Hebrews 1; Colossians 1; John 1). He is preeminent in all things, even time and space that He created (John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:16–18). The one true God is triune in nature, eternally existing in the co-equal persons of the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit ({% scripture “Isaiah 44:8, 45:18” %}; Deuteronomy 6:4; Malachi 2:10; James 2:19).

The point is that Jesus Christ has been actively involved in the world from the very beginning. So the question arises, “Do we see Jesus anywhere in Genesis?” Yes! These pre-incarnate appearances of Christ are called theophanies (from two Greek words meaning “appearance [phaneia] of God [theos]”), or more specifically Christophanies. They are generally believed to be appearances of the Son of God prior to His coming “in the flesh” two thousand years ago (1 John 4:2).

Genesis employs very intimate, personal language in describing God’s creation of Adam and Eve. This language could indicate the Son’s direct presence, especially when the Lord “brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:7–9, 2:18–22). Then after Adam and Eve sinned, “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden.” They hid, only to be confronted for their sin (Genesis 3:8–24). Later, “the Lord appeared to Abram” (Genesis 12:7).

Other passages throughout the Old Testament might also be theophanies. Consider these passages in Genesis, some of which are more certain than others: Genesis 4:4–15, 7:16, 11:5–9, 18:1–33. The Lord appeared to Abraham and Moses several times-in Genesis 17:1, 18:1; Numbers 12:5–8; and many other passages.

So why did the Son of God “take on flesh” if He could easily appear to whomever He wanted? Perhaps Peter said it best: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

Let’s not forget that Christ became a man to take the punishment we deserve for sin against our Creator. That is a God worth living for!”

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  This is what I have been praying for you:

“God, please open the eyes and soften the heart of J.T.  I pray that she gets to know exactly who you are.  I pray that you pour your grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love upon her.  I pray that you heal her wounds.  –Amen.”

Regards,

[RCD]

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