Christianity -- Christian Living/New Christian
QUESTION: Hi Craig, I am born again Christian, as of about 1 1/2 ago. I feel I have grown in my relationship with Jesus tremendously and was finding great joy in living constant to what I felt he had intended for my life. I am still doing the same things, contributing in different ways, going to church every sunday and volunteering to the community at work in fellowship. But do not feel Jesus with me like I used to.
My husband has had a difficult time earning money since we've been together (over 12 years) Before I had my, now 4 yr old daughter, I was the bread winner and he pretty much just did as he chose no contribution to the house at all. When I got pregnant I told him that was it, I was staying home with our daughter. The mortgage business crashed, which is our previous careers and he has finally (4 yrs later) become a self taught web designer and we are barely able to make our bills. We no longer, so far have to borrow money from his mom, but I havent been to the eye dr and dr for other serious issues in 5 yrs. I can not get the simplest things like shoes or get hair trims. I work cooking for people and selling used items on craiglist and a few hours at a min wage job as well. In December I made our rent payment. And I contribute to bills periodically. I still want to believe in this marriage, I really do love my husband. But now have created so many boundaries hoping he will get it together, that we dont have a relationship anymore and I DO NOT know how to recover that. I read all the things I'm supposed to do as a Christian wife, but when daily life hits I find myself protecting myself from being hurt and hiding from the relationship.
He works 15 hrs a day on his computer at home. He is getting some better possibilities as far as ideas to get jobs (he is a contractor and self taught, no degree so its hard to get a job at a corporation with no degree). If he were to just go out and get a job in any field he would be making either pure commission or $10 with no education.
I am kind of losing hope. I know I'm not supposed to look at the past (we went to see my pastor - my husband is not a practicing Christian but he was open to going, but it is hard because I dont feel like it's the past I am looking at, it is happening presently with no change since the beginning of our marriage.
My relationship with Jesus seems blocked. And I am questioning what is real and what is made up in Christianity. I am getting confused because no matter what I've done (and I've done a lot), my husband is still self centered and blind to our situation. Dont get me wrong, he is very intelligent -genius IQ. But he, stopped or actually never started (after we got married) doing things a husband does like get a birthday card for anyone (let alone a present) do anything at all to help around the house (and I have been straight forward about requesting things believe me). I am not leaving him and divorce is not an option for him either. But the quality of our life is zero. We have very little to talk about, and no we do not go on dates - no money, no family to watch our 4 yr old. The only break I've had in 3 yrs about 4 hrs when I go to my little job, my husband is willing to watch our daughter. And when I go to church.
If I could just get my relationship back and right with Jesus I know all would work out. But I read the bible everyday, with no message. Church does give me that message but it is only once a week. I have fellowship working in childcare at the church. Praying is a total block I pray and pray and I feel and hear nothing. Do you have any advice?
ANSWER: Hi Karen,
let’s begin here.
Feelings are the body’s reaction to a thought or thought process. The meaning we assigned to the thought determines what feeling will only get from that thought. If the thought is a negative thought, we get a negative feeling. If the thought is a positive thought, we get a positive feeling.
Most Christians come to a point where they don’t get those wonderful feelings they had when they first started relationship with Jesus Christ. And you begin to wonder what’s wrong. The reality is that our relationship to Christ just is. It’s not based on feelings. It’s based on reality. If you’re looking to feelings as evidence that your life is a proper Christian life, you will get frustrated.
I am not saying that you won’t have wonderful positive feelings surrounding your relationship to Christ. What I am saying is you can’t use your feelings as evidence of your relationship to Christ.
You may get frustrated as you seem to be, and the thought surrounding that frustration will produce negative feelings. You will begin to doubt her relationship with Christ.
First, your relationship with Christ is something that He started and you responded to. For that reason, you want to begin to see your relationship as a responsive one. In order to do that, you must realize that he is always present with you. As that famous poet, Alfred Tennyson, said in “Closer Is He Than Breathing:”
“Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet -
Closer is he than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
God is law, say the wise; O Soul, and let us rejoice,
For if he is thunder by law the thunder is yet his voice.”
You see Karen, Jesus has been dead over 2000 years, physically. Spiritually he is alive and every one of us who see him there. Remember the instructions he gave his disciples over and over again. Follow my example. Be like me. You will be like a fountain, with rivers of water flowing from you.
Now, it’s vitally important for you to understand that there is no separation between you and him. There cannot be. His cross experience demonstrated once and for all that there isn’t anything that could separate us from him. So get in your mind that he is not separate from you. Think about that for a moment. And think about Tennyson’s statement “closer is he than breathing and nearer than hands and feet.”
Do you remember when Jesus was talking about the father and Philip said to Jesus,” show us the father, and then will be satisfied,” or words to that effect. You remember what Jesus told him? Philip have you been with me this long and you do not understand? You have seen the father. I and my father are one.
Begin to think in those terms. If you and he are one, what kind of relationship is that? It probably means. That you and he have the same power. You have the same ability. You have the same character. You just have to see it in yourself. I didn’t say find it in yourself. I said you have to see it as already in yourself.
If you begin to think in this way, you will see changes in your life. Your thoughts will become positive ones, and you will begin to get positive feelings.
Here’s a note about your husband. Men have to have the understanding that they are producing and that they are taking care of their family. If they do not, they get frustrated, and sometimes depressed. They don’t want to be responsive. And they want to run and hide. The best thing that you can do for him is give him lots of praise for what he is doing. If you will do this and continue to do it regardless of the responses that you get, you will find that it begins to make a difference.
Sometimes it gets difficult, and it just seems like there’s no answers anywhere. I understand. Think about what I said. Has some intentions to move in that direction, and make some moves in that direction and see if it doesn’t make a difference.
There is more about this that I can share. In it gets much deeper. If you're interested.
If you need further clarification or have more questions please feel free to write again.
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QUESTION: Hi Craig, Thank you for your response. I have been digesting it.
I just read this from the bible today: "God, who, by his grace, inclines the heart, and opens the ear - He is incomprehensible; we cannot, by searching find him out." So is it that we can't seek God at all? Do we have to just trust in him and wait for him to lead us. And if so how do we hear the signs?
Do we just wait for him to open our eyes? If my relationship is a responsive one, how do I know what to respond to?
I have been praying and begging God to hear me and reading the bible hoping for a connection. When you said Be like him, does that mean just concentrate on being like him. Maybe doing nothing but focusing on the bible and the 10 commandments, etc and modeling my behavior after it? Everytime I have an issue with life refer over to Jesus and the bible? I do this and for a while it seemed relentless because I can't seem to deal effectively with life's challenges.
You said that our relationship to Christ is not based on feelings. It’s based on reality. What should I be looking for in reality so I can connect with Jesus if it's not a feeling?
I want to be a stronger Christian and live in faith and not by my circumstances.
I read in your last letter "You may get frustrated as you seem to be, and the thought surrounding that frustration will produce negative feelings. You will begin to doubt her relationship with Christ." My circumstances dont change even though I pray a lot. So how do I keep my thoughts positive when I am having severe life challenges?
I would like to be lead by Jesus to live my life according to the scriptures. I know that it says he wants us to be happy. But the point is I want to heal my life thru Jesus or just at least know how to live with life's severe disappointments so that I am not walking around joyless. It is hard to keep the faith when I see nothing hopeful and have no inspiration. Thank you for any input.
ANSWER: Hi Karen.
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. My email system was screwed up. I think I have it fixed now. On to your questions.
You asked, "so is it that we can't seek God at all?"
I believe the answer to your question is of course we can seek God. We can't know him totally, since he is everything. We know him by his character. The best way to understand his character is by seeing it in Jesus.
If you want to know something, you ask a question. Then you expect an answer. With God, it is the same. Whatever you want to know, you ask him. Since he loves you, and want you to know, he will give you the answer. Most of the time, the answer comes as in urging or an intuition. That comes with practice. You ask a question, wait for the answer, and act on what you believe to be the answer. The more you do this, the better it works.
How do you know what you believe to be the answer? Everything that God does, is based on his character. I understand that character to be described as Love, Truth, and Beauty. If the answer you get conforms to one of these, you know it is from Him. If it does not, it is not from Him.
The more you trust this process, the better it works for you.
What does it mean to be like him? You become what you focus on with feelings. In this case, you study the life of Jesus and you imagine behaving like that in your life, and how that feels, at the present moment. The more you do this, the more you become like him. Keep in mind that we behave out of who we become.
A quick note here. The 10 Commandments is an external expression of the inner character of God. Do not try to keep the 10 Commandments. They are a legal document, which is there to mirror your present condition. That is putting the cart before the horse. Instead, become like Jesus, and you will fulfill all the commandments.
Karen, you may not be able to keep your thoughts positive all the time. It's more the direction you're moving in that's important, not the little errors that you make along the way.
God's mercy, which is an aspect of his character of love, allows you to make mistakes along the path of becoming like Jesus. It's more beneficial to "bathe" in his love, as it is expressed in the life of Jesus, then it is to try to conform to any standards.
I hope this is answered some of your questions. If you have more please ask again, if you'd like. I am happy to share any of my knowledge, especially if it helps you.
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QUESTION: Hi Craig,
Your input does help. I want you to know that. I am struggling at the moment and I am grateful for someone to communicate with, who I think has a strong faith. So thanks for your responses.
I thought about what I wanted to say in my next letter to you. And thank goodness I think I am getting to the bottom of why I feel like I cant really connect totally or give myself totally to Christianity. I feel I am 90% there but that other 10% doubt is what I am struggling with. And I think that if I have that 10% doubt, maybe I am not truley a Christian, which saddens and weakens me.
Studying the life of Jesus and imagining behaving like that. That is a tall order for sure. I have started this process when I accepted him into my heart and will continue to work on that. Sometimes I give up and then I go back to it. Thank you for mentioning it.
Your statement, "since God is everything" got me thinking. I think my struggle is connected with my knowledge of the new age spirituality such as metaphysical traditions, self-help and motivational psychology, and quantum physics. All of my adult life (I am 50), I have studied this way of spirtuality. I am confused now, because i still have ties to that and am trying to shut that phylosophy out completely because I think it's sinning and believe in Christianity. I have been basically entrenchd in New Age Religion for 30 yrs. - http://carm.org/new-age-what
. I thought I could just let it go, but that knowledge seems to keeps reminding me of what I know and what I experienced in the past.
When I listen to the words of the gospel or what is taught to us in church I can't help but think it is being oversimplified for people. The words and ideas seem too simple minded and thus not really hitting home for me. I hope I am making sense because I really want you to understand that I am not making judgements. I am just trying to communicate that I finally realized that this is a stumbling block for me. The simplicity - I wonder - was the bible written for people that are not as mentally developed as we are today? And maybe it just isnt connecting with a newer, greater knowledge of God? I think that God is all encompassing. I had and have no problem getting the enormousy of God. I could put everything in context, though with the New Age philosophy. It all made sense to me. Good and Evil had it's place in that we all need to develope and go through what God/the life cycle puts into our lives to experience to get to the place we are meant to be in at the end, Heaven. But now, learning about Christianity and as an example the idea that evil is the devil and is a specific entity that it's "out to get us" is difficult for me to believe. The Christian phylosophy of being attacked etc, I can not seem to make that real for myself. I believe that yes, we go through tough times to learn, grow and develope our souls to become more like God.
I am reading the bible along with Matthew Henry's inturpretation. As an example, in Exodus 21 I came across that the laws differ from our times and customs, and are not binding on us. Who's to say that other parts of the bible are not applicable to us? The times that I read something that I can't make sense of I - without really knowing it, file that into doubt which then multiplies. Although I believe Jesus did die for our sins and he is the son of God, New Age believes that we all are part of God. Christianity believes we are the sons of God. What really makes Jesus different than a saint or even me? Except that he did acheive a perfect life. Why are we only supposed to pray to Jesus and not any other saint or even a dead relative? When I used to meditate I had better results than when I pray. It seems, all my life when I start to pray alot nothing really happens. I start getting really depressed. When I meditate it gets my mind clear and somehow good things start happening. I am more joyful and in touch with the beauty in life. I am kinder to people, by far. So as you can see I am struggling so much. When Jesus is obviously there, which feels rare, I am elated. But it seems most of my life as a Christian is struggling to get to a relationship with him rather than having a relationship.
I am happy that you are interacting with me. I am not comfortable sharing this with my elders at church because I dont want them to think I am a non-believer. I do ministry in the children's classes and I only want to share Jesus and be a pure source for them. I really like my Pastor, every time he speaks I get my life out of it. God really speaks thru him. His sermons are moving and clear. I just want you to know that.
I really like what you said about the 10 commandments being an external expression of the inner character of God. And to become like Jesus to fulfill them.
It’s good to get this communication, and to see that your thinking about what I said. I’m glad to help in any way I possibly can.
I’ll start with this. Karen, if, as I have said, that God is everything, then we are a higher order construct of him. For that reason there is no separation. Let me repeat that. There is no separation in reality. The only separation we experience is the ones which we create. In fact, in my opinion one of the specific reasons for the cross experience is to show us that there never has been any separation, and there never will be. Remember God is the same yesterday today and forever. If he demonstrated no separation at cost of the death on the cross, and there never has been any separation.
Jesus talked a lot about the father. In John 14, the Bible tells us that Philip told Jesus just show us the father and will be satisfied. Jesus said Philip, have you been with me so long to you don’t really know me? I and the father are one. He then goes on to explain that we are also like him, and that if we would take what he has saying to heart, we would understand.
I wouldn’t worry too much about doubt. Remember it’s not externally what you do that creates the behavior. It is who you are becoming. That is because you act out of who you are. The more understanding you have, the less doubt you have.
I would say that is not so much studying who Jesus is, as it is falling in love with who he is, because he is telling us that we are like him. There should be no effort. You simply read the Bible, learn about who Jesus is, and look for that in your own life.
A note about the Bible here. It is my understanding that the Bible is an historical account of men through the ages communicating with God. For that reason, I do not see the Bible as a set of rules and regulations. It is more like a volume of principles to guide your life. The three main ones, in my understanding our love, truth, and beauty. The beauty of this way of thinking is that, as long as whatever you do does not violate these principles, you’re in line with God. That takes away the necessity to obey a bunch of rules that you are often confused by, and not able to keep.
It is spiritual instruction in that these are eternal principles which come out of the character of God. For that reason, in a real sense, the spirit of God is instructing you. Obedience to them brings life. Ignoring them, or running contrary to them, brings death. Life is growth, enhancement, and togetherness. Death is disintegration, breaking apart, or what we would call entropy, or returning to our individual parts.
If I was you, I would never try to unlearn something about reality that I learned before, no matter where it came from. I would test that knowledge against those principles that I mentioned above. If they are in line, you have no problem.
You asked this question. “The simplicity - I wonder - was the bible written for people that are not as mentally developed as we are today?”
The Bible is an open dialogue between man and God. It is simple experience down through the ages. Out of that experience of communication between God and man come principles for life. It is meant to be simple, because it speaks of principles. It doesn’t try to control life. It tries to instruct its readers. For that reason, anyone with an open mind, be he a shepherd or a college professor, can understand.
Remember Jesus said, Those to have the ears to hear let them hear. You really have to have an open mind to see these things. It is more than saying; it is understanding. You simply gaze on what has transpired, as you read it throughout the Bible, and look for what it is saying to you. How can that be?
You are an expression of God. You were God expressing himself in many individuals. The expression is, “The One in the many in the many in the One.” For this reason, God is speaking to you all the time. You just have to listen. If you don’t hear anything, just be patient and approach it intelligently.
Karen, there is only one source, one energy in the universe. Out of this grows everything. If evil is anything it is the use of that one source, that one energy, for purposes contrary to the character of God. It is not some extra power that is fighting God. Ask yourself, how do you fight God? We would not know what evil is, unless it was personified. For that reason, we find it in all kinds of persons.
Paul mentioned, that we don’t fight flesh and blood, but that we fight spirituality; principles and powers, and rulers of darkness. I see the devil is any personification of evil. The word Satan means “resistance.” While were at it, the word sin means “missing the mark.”
When you begin to see the Bible as not a set of rules sent down from on high, but a historical account of the communication between men and God down to the ages, you understand that instruction given in the Old Testament does not necessarily imply to where your at today. Always look for those principles.
God is loving those children in the desert when he tells him to not eat certain things. They had no refrigeration, and some of those things were simply not good for them. You see how you can look for the principles, and not get tied up in the rules and regulations.
There is a difference between the law and grace. Law says you have to behave in certain ways, or you’re punished. Grace says, if you become like Me, you will keep all those laws, and even more. You will be in line with the principles which come out of My character. That is true liberty.
You’re going to see some instructions given in the Bible. Always look for the principles behind those instructions.
The words “sons of God,” are an indication that we are from, or of God.
You asked the question, “. What really makes Jesus different than a saint or even me?” I believe Jesus would say, if He were here speaking to you right now, you’re exactly like me. Look for it in you. See yourself like me. Follow my commandments. That is to say infuse in your life with me, and use will see that you and I are the same.
Remember when Jesus said, “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood,…” What happens when we eat and drink? That which we eat and drink becomes us, or part of us.
You asked this question. “Why are we only supposed to pray to Jesus and not any other saint or even a dead relative?” My understanding is that prayer is a communication or an agreement. Everything about God is already true, and you’re an expression of him. Therefore, when you come up against something that you understand to be truth, you express that agreement with God. You can do that to the spirit of Jesus, or the father, or God. We are dealing with spirit here because those we are talking about died over 2000 years ago. Jesus appeared in a different body. That body is invisible to us.
The opposite is to petition God for things. If you already have them, why do you need to ask for them? I believe prayer is more of an agreement with God, and gratitude for what you have, once you understand what it is.
What do you expect to happen when you pray? Most often, we petition God, and then look for that request somewhere in our lives. If we see a need, and express that to God and thank Him for already meeting that need, we are dealing with things as they really are.
How is meditation different than prayer? You are a “son of God,” or daughter, as the case may be. You are an expression of him as a one-of-a-kind, unique, individual. You communicate with him in meditation just as easily as you would any other form of communication with him. That is because he is, as the poet, Alfred Tennyson , expressed; “Closer is he then breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.“
Karen, I hope I’ve answered your questions. Perhaps what I’ve said, produced even more questions, LOL.
I love dialoguing with people who begin to get an idea of what I’m saying. I love helping people, and sharing what I understand. A lot of what I understand comes from an early mental scientist called, Thomas Troward. If you do a Google search, you can get some information on him. He has been a great inspiration in my life. It didn’t start with him, but he certainly has added to my knowledge and understanding.
Finally, I would say, “do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.” The truths that you have garnered from other sources, are really of God, since he is everything. His character produces certain principles. You can find those principles everywhere in life, not just in the Bible. If you learn something in your sojourn, test it by matching it with character of God. As long as you’re in line with the principles that come out of the character of God, you’re “good to go.”
Always look for God where he is; on the inside of you.
I enjoy this dialogue we are having. Please allow me to share more of my understanding as you have questions.